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Questions

Volume 83: debated on Monday 14 May 1900

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South African War—Strategy And Tactics—Lessons Of The War

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War what steps Lord Lansdowne proposes to take to ensure that the lessons of the war, as much in peace preparation as in strategy and tactics, shall not be lost at the War Office in either the administration or training of Her Majesty's Army.

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I do not know that the war in South Africa has revealed any new principle of strategy; but it has certainly suggested many points of interest in respect of tactical movements, and the matter is not being lost sight of by the military authorities.

Does the hon. Gentleman propose to appoint a Committee to receive evidence upon it; or in what way does he propose to deal with it?

*

To deal with the new and important considerations which have arisen out of the tactical movements is a matter for the Commander-in-Chief. The moment has not yet come, in the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, for making any fundamental change in tactical instruction. I doubt whether a Committee is needed. The War Office will have reports of the war from time to time, and on those it will act.

Will the question of revising and rewriting despatches also be taken into consideration?

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Alleged Boer Treachery

Has any official information reached the War Office with reference to the shooting of native women and children by the Boers, or the shooting at British cavalry under cover of the white flag?

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A report from Colonel Baden-Powell on the shooting of native women and children, dated 19th April, was published in the newspapers on the 4th instant. A telegram from Lord Roberts, dated yesterday, on the capture of British cavalry through the treacherous use of the white flag, is being published this afternoon.

In view of the ignorance of the War Office, may we take it for granted that the report of the shooting of native women and children is not true?

[No answer was returned.]

Mafeking—Measures For Relief

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War if, without divulging the plans of the Commander-in-Chief, he can make any statement which will mitigate the anxiety of many whose friends have been so long beleaguered and have suffered so many privations and hardships in Mafeking.

*

We hope, most earnestly, that Mafeking will shortly be relieved. But for the present we think it better to give no information as to Lord Roberts's plans.

Renewal Of Clothing For The Troops

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether the troops serving in South Africa have to replace clothes worn out in campaigning at their own expense, or whether it is replaced at the expense of the Government.

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Postage Rates On Letters From Troops At The Front

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that letters sent by soldiers serving with the Imperial troops in the Orange Free State and stamped with 1d. for the ½ oz. have been surcharged 3d. on delivery in England, and whether he can arrange at once that all letters either forwarded to or sent by our soldiers in the Orange Free State or the Transvaal can be forwarded for 1d. the ½ oz., in conformity with the postal regulations of our own South African Colonies.

The only soldiers' letters from the Orange Free State which have been charged in the manner described reached this country in the colonial mail from Cape Town, and bore no indication whatever of their having been sent by soldiers. They were properly treated as what they appeared to be—ordinary letters from the Orange Free State; but in cases in which they were subsequently shown to be from soldiers the charges have been refunded. All letters from the troops in South Africa prepaid at the rate of 1d. per ½ oz. and received in the mails from the Army Post Office are delivered in this country without surcharge; and similarly, all letters for the troops prepaid at that rate are sent forward for delivery free of charge.

Is the converse true? Will letters sent to the Orange Free State via the Transvaal be delivered to the troops for 1d.?

Militia—Officers Volunteering Before Embodiment

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War if officers of the Militia who volunteered for duty with the regular troops prior to the embodiment of the Militia battalions to which such officers belonged, and who continue to do duty with the Regular troops after their own Militia battalions were embodied, are to be considered as attached to and doing duty with their respective Militia battalions, and consequently as embodied.

*

All Militia units are now embodied; all Militia officers are therefore with their units, except those seconded for special service.

Volunteer Sergeant-Majors And Instructors

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War if, having regard to the increased responsibilities of sergeant - majors of Volunteer corps, the Secretary of State will accord to them the warrant rank held by their colleagues in the Line and the Militia; and if, bearing in mind the increased strength of regiments, the Secretary of State will consider the advisability of increasing the sergeant-instructors in the proportion of at least one sergeant-instructor to every 300 men, and also of appointing a paid quartermaster in corps of 1,000 strong.

*

The duties performed by sergeant-majors of Volunteers are not held to justify the grant of warrant rank. The suggestions made in the second paragraph of the question will receive consideration.

I shall call attention to this question on the first opportunity.

Royal Military College, Sandhurst—Sir E Markham

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he can state if the appointment of Sir Edwin Markham as Governor of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, who is the first artillery officer ever appointed as head of a school of cavalry and infantry, and whose tenure of office as Director General of Ordnance had not expired by eighteen months when he received his present appointment, has now been extended for a term of three years; and whether there are any regulations as to the Assistant Commandant having passed the Staff College.

*

Under Article 104 of the Pay Warrant, appointments of a semi-military or technical nature may be held by an officer after he is placed on the retired list for the remainder of the term of his appointment. Sir Edwin Markham will accordingly be retained as Governor until the end of 1903. In reply to the second paragraph, there are no regulations to that effect.

The Defences Of London

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War how many of the fortified positions stated by the Secretary of State for War in 1889 to be necessary for the defence of London, and for the purpose of magazines, are fully supplied with the material of war, and what was the original number of these positions originally prepared by Mr. Stanhope.

*

It is not considered expedient to give the information for which the hon. and gallant Member asks.

Rifle Ranges In Warwickshire

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to the gift of the Warwickshire County Council—namely, £600—towards the improvement of the shooting range for the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers in Warwick Old Park, and whether, if other county councils took a similar course, it would be possible to re-open many ranges that have been recently closed; and whether his attention has also been called to the statement of the chairman of the county council (Mr. J. Stratford Dugdale, Q.C.), in recommending this grant, that it is desirable that further statutory powers should be conferred upon county councils with reference to the equipment and maintenance of rifle ranges in counties.

*

The attention of the Secretary of State has been drawn to the generous offer of the Warwickshire County Council. Co-operation of a similar kind by county councils and other local bodies would be of the highest value for the acquisition and improvement of ranges. The question of conferring further statutory powers on county councils in the direction mentioned is under the consideration of the Government, and I hope soon to be able to make an announcement on the subject.

Indian Famine—Statistics

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India what is the aggregate number, according to the last official return, of men as well as of the cattle lost through the effects of the present famine in India.

I have received no official return of the number of human lives or of cattle lost through the effects of the present famine in India; nor would it be desirable, under existing circumstances, to call upon the Government of India for such statistics. When the famine is over it may probably be possible to form an estimate of the various forms of loss, but it cannot be more than an estimate.

Indian Famine—Advances To Ryots

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether any reply has been received to the communication addressed by him to the Government of India with the view of supplementing the amounts subscribed to the Mansion House and other voluntary famine funds by a national grant, so as to place at the disposal of that Government an adequate sum for the purpose of making advances to the ryots and for supplying them with cattle, seeds, implements, and other necessaries for carrying on agricultural operations with the next rainfall.

The Government of India intend to provide a large sum, by way of supplement to what will be available from the various charitable funds, for supplying the ryots in the famine districts with cattle, seeds, and other necessaries for carrying on agricultural operations. The details of the scheme are not yet completely settled, but the assistance to be given to the cultivators will probably take the form of advances without interest, repayable by instalments not to begin for a year from the present time, and with power to the local Governments to make large remissions, thus converting the advances, or a portion of them, into gifts, as circumstances may require.

Tndian Famine—Proposed Parliamentary Grant

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he has now informed the Viceroy that Her Majesty's Government is willing to supplement the grants made for famine relief by the Government of India.

The statement I have made to the Viceroy is the same that I have made to the House—namely, that if the Government of India found that the financial resources at their disposal were insufficient to enable them to adequately discharge the obligations they have undertaken for the relief of distress caused by famine they could rely upon help from the Imperial Government.

Imports Of Sugar Into India

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he can now give the complete Returns of the importation of sugar into India for the financial year 1899–1900 as compared with the figures for the five years immediately preceding, specifying the quantities of beet and cane sugar respectively, and the shipments from colonial and from foreign ports.

No, Sir; the Indian Trade Returns for March, 1900, have not yet reached mo. I expect to receive them about the end of the present month.

Ashanti—Disturbances At Coomassie

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information as to the arrival of British reinforcements at Coomassic, and any further intelligence regarding the rising in Ashanti.

I have received no further news from Coomassie of later date than that which was published last Monday (the 7th instant); but there is no reason to think that the garrison is in any danger of being overpowered, and I hope that the outbreak will be suppressed as soon as the further reinforcements now on the way arrive.

Ashanti-Arms In Possession Of The Natives

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Colonies whether his attention has been called to the report that the natives of Ashanti who have risen against us have been found to be armed with modern weapons of precision; and whether, if this report be well founded, he will cause inquiries to be made into the sources from which these weapons have been supplied.

The Governor reported OIL the 30th of April that in the fighting near Coomassie several Ashantis had arms of precision. I have no reason to believe that any large number of Ashantis are armed with "modern weapons of precision" or even "arms of precision," which term is generally used in West Africa to include all arms except flint-lock unrifled muskets.

Tarquah-Coomassie Railway

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the arrangements entered into with the Ashanti Goldfields and Ashanti Consols, in connection with the extension of the Tarquah Railway, preclude the construction of any other line from the coast to Coomassie.

No; but it is not probable that any line would be sanctioned which would compete with the traffic of the Tarquah-Coomassie Railway.

Will the agreement be laid on the Table and circulated?

South Africa-Australia Cable

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the difficulties that arose in connection with the proposal of the Eastern Extension Company to lay a cable from South Africa to Australia have now been adjusted; and whether the opposition of the Imperial and Colonial Governments concerned in the construction of the Pacific cable has been withdrawn; and, if so, what is the nature of the compromise that has been arrived at.

I have no information that any final arrangement has yet been reached.

West Australian Miners' Grievances

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been directed to the manifesto of the mining immigrants of West Australia invoking the aid of their fellow citizens of the British Empire against the treatment to which they are subjected by the old agricultural population of the country—namely, taxation without representation, the enforcement of railway traffic by special lines at rates specially imposed, in differential tariffs to Perth and Fremantle; and what steps, if any, the Government propose to take in the matter.

My attention has been called to the manifesto to which the hon. Member refers, and I have also received the comments on it of the Prime Minister for Western Australia. These comments will, I understand, be made public shortly, and when they are available it will be seen that almost all the statements are directly challenged. In these circumstances, and as there is now a prospect that Western Australia may decide to become a part of the Commonwealth, the time has not arrived for coming to a final decision on this matter.

Nigeria—Recent Fighting

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies when Papers will be circulated giving official account of the recent fighting in Nigeria; and whether such Papers will contain an estimate of the natives killed and wounded and villages burned, and a statement of the objects of the various military expeditions, and the causes to which the resistance of the natives is attributed.

I have not received the official report of the recent fighting in Northern Nigeria, but I have no doubt that it will contain information on the points referred to, and I do not anticipate that there will be any objection to giving such information to the House.

New South Wales Death Duties

On behalf of the hon. Member for Suffolk, Lowestoft Division, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, seeing that the Companies Death Duties Act of 1899 (New South Wales) affects the interests of British companies carrying on the business of mining, pastoral, or agricultural products or timber getting, in the colony of New South Wales, and particularly as on the death of any shareholder wherever resident or domiciled an ad valorem duty varying from 2 per cent. to 10 per cent. is leviable by the New South Wales Government, not upon the estate of the deceased shareholder but upon the property of the company, he proposes, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, to make any representations to the New South Wales Government with a view to the repeal of the Act.

I am informed that representations on the subject of this legislation are being made by those interested through the Agent General for New South Wales, and I have no doubt they will be carefully considered by the Colonial Government.

Payments To Crown Agents

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies is he aware that the reserve fund accumulated by the Crown Agents for the Colonies amounted on 31st March, 1899 to £33,307 2s. 5d.; can he state what the amount of this reserve fund was on 31st March, 1900; are payments amounting to some £3,000 a year made out of this fund in respect of life insurance policies for the advantage of the officials employed in the Crown Agents' offices; and if so, is any such payment made in respect of the Crown Agents themselves; and seeing that in 1870 Her Majesty's Government decided that the accounts of the Crown Agents should cease to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General excepting in the case of colonies receiving grants in aid of their local revenues, can he state whether these accounts are still excluded from audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and if not, what change in that respect has been made since 1870.

The figures quoted by the hon. Member give not the amount of the reserve fund on 31st March, 1899, but the uninvested cash balance then standing to its credit. The amount of the fund at 31st March, 1900, taking into account both the nominal value of the investment and the credit balance, was £341,527. Payments amounting to £3,179 were made out of this fund in 1899 on account of life insurance for the benefit of the officials in the Crown Agents' office—about thirty in number —including the Crown Agents. Of this amount £740 was paid by the individuals themselves. The accounts of of the Crown Agents always have been, and still are, audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. What was discontinued in 1870 was the audit in this country of the separate accounts as between the Crown Agents and certain colonies.

Uganda Railway Expenditure Accounts

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer can he explain why the Treasury, under the exercise of its statutory powers, has required the accounts of the Uganda Railway expenditure to be rendered in a form which aggregates the expenditure in large amounts under nine general heads without details; whether the head of administration, total to 31st March, 1899, £163,448, embraces any item for commission paid to Crown Agents for the Colonies on stores ordered by them; and if so, what is the amount of that item; will he explain what is meant by the head of "Unallocated Expenditure, total to 31st March, 1899, £290,708," and in what sense is it unallocated; and can he give a general notion of how this unallocated expenditure is composed; and will he take steps to secure that in future the Treasury will require the accounts to be rendered in a form which will afford more complete information to this House.

*

I think that the form of account is in conformity with the requirements of the Act, and gives the necessary information to Parliament. It must be remembered that the Comptroller and Auditor General has before him detailed items and vouchers for every penny of expenditure under the several heads— and also that the annual account has been supplemented by further information to Parliament, notably in Sir Guilford Moles-worth's Report, and in the Paper C. 9333 of 1899. I see no reason for altering the form. I am not responsible for the figures which are given in the account; but, to save trouble, I may say, with regard to the second and third paragraphs of the hon. Member's question, that I am informed that out of the total of £163,000 under the head of "Administration," £5 7s. 4d. represents commission here, and that "Unallocated Expenditure" is practically a sub-head for stores purchased pending their being charged to the appropriate heads.

In the last line of my question I refer to the information given in the Votes, which is restricted to nine heads.

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If the hon. Member will take the trouble to refer to the Report I have quoted he will, I think, obtain all the information he desires.

Pooh Law Officials—Return Of Salaries, Etc

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he has any objection to obtaining a Return from the unions in England and Wales (other than the metropolitan unions) of the amount expended by them in respect of the salaries, remunerations, and superannuation allowances of the officers of their unions (other than teachers in poor law schools) and of the district schools to which such unions contribute, and on drugs and medical appliances during the financial year ended on 25th March, 1899, and of the grant made to such unions by county councils (other than the London County Council) during the same period, in respect of such expenditure, in pursuance of Sec. 26 of the Local Government Act, 1888.

Particulars as to the expenditure incurred by each board of guardians in respect of the salaries, remuneration, rations, and superannuation allowance of their officers are given in the Local Taxation Returns published annually, and a statement of the amounts certified by the Local Government Board under Section 26 of the Local Govern- ment Act, 1888, and which are paid annually to the guardians under that section, will be found in the Appendix to the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Board. To obtain the exact information suggested in the question would involve considerable labour, and I am not aware of any sufficient reason for this labour being undertaken.

Local Loans—Sinking Fund

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board what is the rate per cent. to provide a sinking fund for the repayment of loans at the expiration of fifty, sixty, seventy, and one hundred years, taking the rate of interest at 2½ per cent.

If a loan was raised at 3 per cent. interest, repayable by means of a sinking fund accumulating at 2½ per cent., the annual charge in respect of the interest and sinking fund for each £100 of the loan would be £4 0s. 6¼d. if the loan was repayable in 50 years; £3 14s. 8½d. in 60 years; £3 10s. 9½d. in 70 years; and £3 4s. 7½d. in 100 years.

Coroners' Inquests—Juryman's Oath—Pontypridd Complaint

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the proceedings of an inquest held at the Llanbradach Arms, Pontypridd, on the 28th March last, in which the coroner refused to allow Mr. John Jones, who was summoned on the jury and who had conscientious objections against taking the oath, to affirm as by law provided; and whether he will state on what ground Mr. Jones was refused to affirm.

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THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
(Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY, Lancashire, Blackpool)

The refusal was due to an error on the part of the coroner, who was at the time under the impression that the Oaths Act, 1888, applied only to witnesses.

St Nicholas Industrial School, Manor Park—Fatality To A H Waters

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the death of a boy named Alfred Henry Waters, a pupil in the St. Nicholas Industrial School, Manor Park, who died from injuries received from a fall from a window, while attempting to lower himself there from in order to escape from the school; whether he can state the number of cases of absconding and of the infliction of corporal punishment in the last twelve months in this school; and if he has held or will cause to be held an inquiry into its discipline and management.

*

I have received a full report as to the circumstances of the death of the boy Waters and as to the present discipline and management of St. Nicholas Industrial School. The accident happened on the 29th of last month. The boy had been admitted only on the 14th of that month, was never punished or even reproved by the officers, seems never to have complained of anything or anybody, was a general favourite, and was regarded as a very promising lad. I am satisfied that no blame whatever can attach to the officers of the school on account of this unhappy occurrence; and I do not propose to cause any further inquiry to be made. I may say that I directed a formal inquiry to be held in May of last year into the state of the school, with the result that an entire change of management was ordered and took place in October. The school is being carefully watched, and the effect of the new superintendent's management, which my inspectors report, I am glad to say, as very satisfactory and hopeful, is to be seen even in the figures of cases of absconding and corporal punishment, which were between January and December, 1899, one hundred and six and thirty-seven respectively. Of these fifty-five and twenty-three respectively took place before the change of management, and fifty-one and fourteen in the last three months of the year when the broken discipline was being restored. In the first four months of this year there have been twenty-one punishments and three abscondings.

Compton (Surrey) Burial Board

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Depart- ment whether he is aware that Compton (Surrey) Parish Council, acting as a burial board, has, in advertising for a caretaker for the cemetery and a disused church-yard, stated that the person appointed must be a member of the Church of England, and that preference will be given to a man who would be willing to undertake the duties of parish clerk; and whether a parish council, acting under the Burial Acts, has the legal right to limit such an appointment to members of the Church of England.

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The hon. Member has been good enough to send me the advertisement in question. I am not aware that the parish council, in imposing the condition which it contains, are contravening the law. Their reason, as I am informed, for contemplating that the same person should hold the posts of caretaker and parish clerk is that the salary of the former post is not sufficient to secure the services of a suitable man.

Disposal Of Diseased Carcases

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he is aware that quarters of beef, sheep, etc., condemned at Deptford, are washed ashore on the Essex coast, in consequence of their being jettisoned by the contractors off Foulness instead of in Barron deeps, thereby spreading the infection of pleuro and foot-and-mouth disease; and if he will induce the contractors to do their duty by taking the carcases further out to sea, in accordance with the terms of their agreement.

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I think the complaints upon which the question of my hon. and gallant friend is based have reference to the fact that some of the offal which was ordered to be taken out to sea, in consequence of the discovery of foot-and-mouth disease in animals brought from the Argentine, has been washed ashore. The matter is receiving the attention of the coastguard, and inasmuch as the importation of live animals from the Argentine is now prohibited, there is not likely to be any further cause of complaint. I am advised that there is no probability of the introduction of disease in the manner suggested.

Portland Place (London, W) Post Office

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether complaints have been received by the Postmaster General as to the insufficiency of the post office adjoining the Langham Hotel for the requirements of the neighbourhood; whether the Post Office has been for some years looking for more spacious premises for a branch office in that district; and, if so, for how many years; and whether the Post Office has inspected or been in treaty for any premises, and whether he is aware that there is a suitable house either vacant or shortly about to become vacant in Regent Street, on the north side of Oxford Circus.

The accommodation afforded in the branch post office at the Langham Hotel is insufficient for the requirements, and for some time past the owners have been trying to obtain powers to enlarge the office, but they have now finally failed. Several houses in the neighbourhood have been offered from time to time, and some have been inspected, but while the enlargement of the Langham Hotel office was pending the Department has not been looking for other premises. Now, however, a house to the north of Oxford Circus is under consideration.

National Physical Laboratory At Kew

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury what proportion of the sum of £7,000 to be voted for building the National Physical Laboratory is to be spent on the smaller detached building to be placed close to or within the Old Deer Park at Kew; and whether he will have a rough plan placed in the Tea Room showing the sites upon which these buildings will be placed.

The expenditure of the grant of £12,000, of which the £7,000 mentioned in the question forms part, is left to the Council of the National Physical Laboratory; but I understand that the amount to be assigned to the building in question is at present fixed at £5,600. The precise site and area to be adopted have not yet been determined; when they have been so, a map shall be prepared and made available for the information of those interested.

Great Northern Railway Of Ireland—Clones Level Crossing

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether anything can be done to prevail upon the management of the Great Northern Railway of Ireland to construct a bridge over the level crossing on their system at Clones, and thereby remove the danger to life and limb which exists at that place; will he use his influence with the management to mitigate the danger which exists in the narrowness of the central platform at Clones, inasmuch as at certain points it is scarcely broad enough to allow two persons to pass each other between the trains and the waiting-room; and will he cause an inspector to visit the place and report upon these matters.

I have been in communication on the subject of the hon. Member's question with the railway company, who do not admit that danger has arisen or is likely to arise from either of the causes mentioned. I will instruct one of the inspecting officers of railways to take an early opportunity of visiting the station named.

Rush Harbour—Wreck Of The "Dolly Varden"

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the wreck, on the rocks at the entrance to Rush Harbour, county of Dublin, of the fishing yawl "Dolly Varden"; whether he is aware that the wreck has been attributed to the absence of a light at the entrance of the harbour; and whether the Board of Trade will take any steps to cause a light to be put up at the point mentioned.

I have received the sworn depositions of the master and a member of the crew of the fishing yawl "Dolly Varden" as to the wreck of that vessel at the entrance to Rush Harbour. In their opinion the casualty was caused by a dense fog, in which case a light at the entrance to the harbour would, I am advised, have been of no use. In any case the Board of Trade have no power to cause a light to be erected at the place in question, which is presumably within the jurisdiction of the harbour authority.

Does the right hon. Gentleman say a light would be of no use to the harbour?

I was speaking of a particular light under certain circumstances. It does not alter the fact that we have no power to cause a light to be placed there.

Belfast And County Down Railway Company Steamers

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Belfast and County Down Railway Company hold the necessary certificate to run steamships or other vessels, either as owners or on charter, for the conveyance by sea of passengers or general cargo; and, if so, on what date was such certificate granted.

The only certificates issued by the Board of Trade to the company referred to in the question at present in force are passenger certificates under the Merchant Shipping Act. They enable the company to carry passengers in the "Slieve Bearnagh," between Belfast and Bangor or Carrickfergus, and between Belfast or Bangor and Rathlin Island or Killough. These certificates are dated May 3rd.

Emigration From Ireland

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that over 2,200 Irish emigrants embarked at Queenstown for America in a single week of last month; and whether it is proposed to take any steps with a view to prevent the further depopulation of Ireland.

The largest number of Irish emigrants who left Queenstown in any one week of last month was 1,950. I may add, however, that the total number of emigrants from Ireland during the first four months of the present year is considerably less than the average number for the corresponding period in the past ten years.

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the last paragraph of the question.

I do not see what answer I can give. The Government cannot introduce legislation to stop it.

But you could find a remedy by rooting the people to the soil by a system of compulsory sale.

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Irish National School Fees

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can say how the amount of result fees to be paid to National schools is calculated in the cases of schools in which the annual results period terminated on 31st March last, but which schools were not examined by the school inspector in accordance with the old rules; and when will those result fees be paid.

Every National school in operation during the financial year ended the 31st March, 1900, has been examined for results fees. In a small number of cases these examinations did not actually take place within the financial year owing to the necessity of postponing the visits of the inspectors through the prevalency of sickness in the locality of the schools, or from other causes; but in all these cases results fees have been paid, or will be paid with the least possible delay, for the results period terminated within the financial year.

I must ask for notice. I have, however, no reason to suppose they will not be paid in the usual manner.

Workmen's Compensation Act— Extension To Naval And Military Servants

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government propose to take any steps in the present session of Parliament to carry out the principle recommended in the resolution of the House of Tuesday, 1st May, relating to compensation for injuries to soldiers and sailors.

I am not yet in a position to say.

The Hague Conference

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether all the Governments that took part in the Hague Conference last year have ratified the Convention which was formulated by the Conference; and whether any of the Governments that have ratified the Convention have done so with reservations; and, if so, will he state the nature of such reservations and the names of the Governments that have made them.

The Governments that took part in the Hague Conference have not yet ratified the Convention.

Defaulting Bankers, Brokers And Solicitors — Suggested Legislation

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether any legislation is contemplated in order to render liable as trustees, bankers, brokers, and solicitors, in respect of moneys and securities placed in their hands by their clients.

The subject has been brought into unpleasant prominence lately, and though the Government have no proposals before them on the subject, I think it is one that ought to be taken into serious consideration.

Business Of The House

I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury with regard to the item of business which appears first on this White Paper—the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Bill—in what manner it is proposed to introduce it. In the Orders issued on Saturday it appeared

See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series]. Vol. lxxxii., p. 489.
that it was to be introduced under what is known as the Ten Minutes Rule, but that has been changed in to-day's Paper, and we are a little at a loss to know what are the intentions of the Government.

I am surprised that there should be any doubt as to the intentions of the Government, for I stated in most specific terms on Friday that not only would this Commonwealth Bill be the first Order, but that there was a possibility that the discussion might take more than one night, although I hoped not. Therefore the intentions of the Government were never in question. How there came to be a misprint in the Blue Papers I am unable to say.

What is the intention of the Government with regard to the motion for the discharge of Mr. Houston from the Committee on War Office Contracts. It cannot, I take it, come on after midnight if opposed. Will the right hon. Gentleman in that case fix a definite day for it?

The usual course will be followed. If the motion should be opposed after twelve o'clock, it will stand over for next day.

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can give the House any information as to the date of the commencement and probable duration of the Whitsuntide Recess.

I am afraid I cannot make any definite statement on the subject in the present state of public business.