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Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes

Volume 166: debated on Wednesday 28 November 1906

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Royal Patriotic Fund

To ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the money subscribed by the public to the Royal Patriotic Fund (after the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny) is not being distributed in accordance with the wishes of the subscribers; that the pensions of widows are limited to 7s. a week and the remainder hoarded; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this state of things.

( Answered by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.) I am informed that there is no foundation of fact for the assumption of my hon. friend that the money subscribed by the public to the Patriotic Crimean War and Indian Mutiny Relief Funds is not being distributed in accordance with the wishes of the subscribers, or that the allowances to widows are limited to 7s. a week and the remainder hoarded. The administration of both funds involves a yearly expenditure far in excess of the incomes from invested funds, with the result that, so far from the funds being hoarded, they are steadily diminishing by thousands of pounds yearly. If my hon. friend will refer to the second Report of the Royal Patriotic Fund to the King, published as a Blue-Book, he will find that the expenditure of the Patriotic Russian War Fund for 1905 was£14,087, against an income of £4,607, and for the Indian Mutiny Relief Fund the expenditure was £2,429, against an

income of £743. The Indian Mutiny Relief Fund, in fact, was taken over by the Patriotic Fund authorities under an Order of the Court of Chancery only as recently as 1st January, 1903, because it had become insolvent under its previous management to the extent that its assets were deficient by upwards of £11,000 to enable the beneficiaries to continue in the enjoyment of their allowances at rates then existing. I am informed that by good and more economical management the deficiency of assets has since been reduced, but that there is still a deficiency of upwards of £4,000 which may have to be made good from the general funds of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. If my hon. friend will refer to paragraph 8 of the first report of the Corporation to the King he will find that the scale of allowances settled by the Corporation, after public discussion, at their annual general meeting in 1905, is considerably higher than the scale which he assumes, erroneously, is being issued to beneficiaries on funds raised by public subscription under the administration of the Corporation. I may add that if my hon. friend will refer to paragraph 9 of the second and latest Report of the Corporation he will find that, taking all the funds administered by the Corporation, the aggregate expenditure for 1905 was £72,394, against an aggregate income on all funds of £43,130. Therefore it follows that there is no policy of hoarding on the part of the Corporation in respect of any of their funds.

Royal Engineers In The Post Office

To ask the Postmaster-General whether Royal Engineers are employed at postal telegraph offices in Southampton, Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth, receiving emoluments consisting partly of military pay and partly of wages from the Post Office; whether they are compelled to perform overtime and Sunday duty; whether the payment for these extra duties is based not on their total pay but on a scale only slightly above their Post Office wages; and whether this practice will be abandoned as soon as possible. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The pay of the Royal Engineers employed at the post offices named consists partly of military pay and partly of wages from the Post Office. When necessary, they are, like ordinary sorting clerks and telegraphists, liable to be called on to perform overtime and Sunday duty; and when this occurs their Post Office wages are increased in the usual manner. I have no power to increase their Army pay.

Telegraph Business At Halifax

To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that during the past twelve months the telegraph transactions at Halifax numbered 496,433, while the figures for the twelve months ending September, 1905, were 467,056, and that notwithstanding the increase of work the number of operators have been reduced; whether, as a direct result of the decrease, the delay in telegraphic traffic has increased; and whether he will explain why expert operators are removed from telegraphic duties and forced to perform letter sorting at a time when telegraph work is increasing and the delay accruing is of disadvantage to the business of the town. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) Although there has been an increase in the total number of telegraph transactions at Halifax, the ordinary telegraph work there has decreased. The increase in the total is owing to heavy press work on one or two special occasions, which of course would not effect the determination of the normal force of the office. An officer from headquarters reported to me only this month that generally the telegraph working was Very satisfactory, and I am assured also that there is no undue delay. There certainly has been no increased delay. As I promised the hon. Member on the 26th ult.,† I have had inquiry made as regards sorting work done by certain telegraphists, and I am writing to him on the subject.

Clerk To The Scottish Inspector Of Taxes

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will now state the total service of the clerk to the inspector of taxes in Scotland; is he aware that such clerk was only in receipt of 20s. wages weekly up to his thirty-first year of service; what was the basis on which the gratuity of £78 was computed; and will he state what pension such clerk would have

† See (4) Debates, clxiii., 669.
received had his position been an established one. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) I think the hon. Member will find a reply to the points he now raises in the Answer which I gave to him on the 13th instant.‡ I notice that in the Question 20s. is a misprint for 30s.

Clerks And Surveyors Of Taxes

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the fact that the Department requires clerks to surveyors of taxes to retire on attaining the age of sixty-two years, he will state if he is aware that such rule is not known to the clerks; whether he will explain why the clerks have not been informed of such intended future action: will he state if clerks forced to retire on on attaining the age of sixty-two years are to receive any gratuity after long and faithful service in the department. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The services of the clerks in question can be dispensed with at any time at a week's notice, and no guarantee of employment till the age of sixty-two can be given or implied. It is, therefore, unnecessary to give any such notice as the hon. Member suggests. The clerks are not entitled to any gratuity on retirement, but it is usual in deserving cases to make compassionate grants.

Convocations Of Canterbury And York

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to comply with the Order of the House dated the 24th of October last by laying upon the Table the letters of business addressed to the Convocations of Canterbury and York; when these letters were actually issued; and what has been the cause of the delay in presenting them. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) The letters of business were not issued until the 10th instant. The papers are now in the printer's hands, and will be ready shortly. I will lay Copies upon the Table in manuscript to-morrow. There has been no special reason for delay, but the heavy pressure of work of all kinds has prevented earlier publication.

‡ See (4) Debates, clxiv., 1268.

Obsolete Torpedo Boats

. To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that torpedo boats Nos. 65 to 73, which are twenty years old, are referred to in certain standard naval works as being of no fighting value; and whether the Admiralty will consider the advisability of removing them from the list. (Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) It is not proposed to remove these vessels from the list so long as they are suitable for performing the duties they would be required to undertake in war.

Flogging In Prisons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, are there any Returns showing the extent to which the practice of flogging prevails in His Majesty's prisons and reformatories; and would legislation be necessary to put an end to this form of punishment. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) Full particulars of all cases of corporal punishment in prisons are given in the Annual Report of the Prison Commissioners. There is no corporal punishment in inebriate reformatories, and in juvenile reformatories only moderate chastisement with the birch rod is allowed. Corporal punishment in prisons is expressly authorised by an Act of Parliament, which could only be repealed by legislation.

Release Of Women Suffragists

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the ladies who were liberated from Holloway Goal on Saturday were liberated because their sentences were excessive; and, if not, whether he will explain why the period of imprisonment was terminated by an order before their term expired. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) The prisoners were liberated, when they had served half their sentences, by an exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy. It would not be in accordance with constitutional practice to state the grounds of the advice which I tendered to His Majesty.

Whitburn Beach

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will state the nature of the Report of the official sent down to examine into the condition of the beach between Sunderland and Whitburn, and also the result of the negotiations between his department and the collieries concerned in the tipping of the refuse upon the said beach. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) No actual Report has been made on the condition of the shore at Whitburn, but a personal inspection of it was made by the Commissioner of Woods having charge of it. As the result of his communication with the colliery company, they have undertaken to put an end to the tipping on the shore as soon as practicable, but to do this may necessitate the acquisition of additional land for tipping and the rearrangement of the railway access to the tipping area. It is therefore not practicable to stop the tipping on the shore immediately without seriously interfering with the working of the colliery, which is an extensive undertaking and gives employment to a large number of men.

Local Taxation (Ireland) Account

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account is a practically inexpensive fund, and that, on the contrary, the charges upon that fund have expanded during the past six years, and that they are likely to show further increases; and, if so, whether he will seek to amend The Superannuation Act, 1887, so that the sums equivalent to the capitation grant deducted from the pensions of asylum inmates now paid into the Exchequer will in future be placed to the credit of the Irish Local Taxation Account. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The total amount at stake is small, and I do not think it desirable to propose legislation for the purpose of making the law on this subject in Ireland different from the law in England.

The Disturbances At Portsmouth

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will state what action he proposes to take in connection with the sentence of five years penal servitude inflicted by a court martial upon Stoker Moodie at Portsmouth on the 26th instant; whether he can state why Lieutenant Collard was permitted to decline to give evidence in this case when examined by the prisoner; what action he proposes to take in connection with the allegation that Lieutenant Collard on one occasion addressed a stoker with the words, "Down on the knee, you dog"; whether the order, "Down on the knee," is a proper order to be addressed to any man or boy in the Navy; and, if not, will he abolish it at once. (Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) In answer to the first Question on the Paper, the proceedings of a court martial, as I have repeatedly stated, are subject to review by the Judge-Advocate of the Fleet, and the sentence may be modified, suspended, or annulled by the Board of Admiralty. As to the rest of the Question, I can only repeat what I have already said, that, until judicial proceedings are exhausted, no statement can be made by which they might be prejudiced; and that, on the conclusion of these proceedings, an Admiralty Minute will be promulgated giving the decision of the Board in regard to the conduct of all concerned and the questions arising thereon.

Lieutenant Collard

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what is the constitution of the Court that is to inquire into the conduct of Lieutenant Collard in connection with the recent order to stokers at Portsmouth; when will it begin its inquiry; and will the proceedings be of a public character. (Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) Lieutenant Collard's action on 4th November was within the scope of the first Court of Inquiry held to investigate the occurrences on that date. A second Court of Inquiry, composed of two post captains, has already examined and reported on the allegation against Lieutenant Collard in respect of 24th November, 1905. In accordance with the invariable custom of the service the proceedings at the Court of Inquiry are confidential.

St David's School, Merthyr Tydvil

To ask the President of the Board of Education whether there are foundation managers for St. David's national schools, Merthyr Tydvil, in accordance with the provisions of The Education Act, 1902; if so, have they held meetings within the last nine months; is there a playground attached to the school, and in what condition is it kept; and will he make inquiry respecting the management and condition of the schools. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The girls' and infants' departments of this school are condemned, and will, I think, certainly be closed at the end of the year. The question of the alterations and repairs necessary to render the premises (including the playground) of the boys' department satisfactory is still under discussion; until this is settled, which I hope it will be shortly, I do not think it is necessary to inquire into irregularities of Management, which are alleged. I may, however, say that the Board understand that foundation managers have been appointed.

Kew Gardens—Discharge Of Gardeners

To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if a number of gardeners employed at Kew Gardens have received notices of discharge; and, if so, would he state the number of men involved and the reason for such discharges. (Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The young gardeners at Kew, viz., those below the grade of sub-foremen, are usually employed for about two years, during which period they are afforded opportunities of working in different departments and of attending the various classes provided for their instruction. No notices of discharge have been given, but in conformity with the rule to which I have referred, the young gardeners who have completed two years' service will leave next month.

War Office Land At Pewsey

To ask the Secretary of State for War in reference to the rates paid on War Office land in the Pewsey Union, whether he is aware that this land is let to farming tenants subject to a right of user for military purposes; that notice has been given to the Pewsey Union Assessment Committee that the War Office do not intend to continue the contribution hitherto made in lieu of rates in respect of this military user to the overseers of the parishes affected after 31st March 1907; whether, seeing that the effect of this decision will be to compel the assessment committee to rate the occupying farm tenants at a figure exceeding the agricultural value of their holdings by the value of the right of user reserved for military purposes and far in excess of the rent paid by them, and in view of the discontent that will be caused, inasmuch as it will throw upon the tenants now liability, and in view of the fact that such liability was not taken into consideration when the rents were fixed, he will make an abatement to the occupying tenants on their rent of an amount equivalent to the sums hitherto paid by the War Office in lieu of rates in respect of right of user, in order to compensate the tenants for their extra liability. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane,.) I am aware that the contribution in question has been withdrawn by the Treasury (not the War Department). As regards the latter part of the Question, I am not in a position to say what action will be taken. If the contingency arises the matter will receive consideration.

Whitley Camp Buildings

TO ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a contract, dated 10th January, 1899, between the officer commanding the 5/68th Regimental District and Mr. W. Key was entered into to the effect that Mr. W. Key, of Sunderland, having purchased the wooden buildings on the camping ground at Whitley which were used as a temporary church, store, sergeants' mess, canteens, etc., for the sum of £300, it was agreed to pay him the sum of £6 6s. per annum as rental for such buildings, and, further, that the military authorities should keep the building in a good state of repair, Mr. Key having now the sole right of supplying malt liquors at contract prices to the 5/68th Regimental District; will he say whether such purchase was made and a sum of only £12 12s. paid (two years' rent), the contract being cancelled without any further payment being made to Mr. Key; and, if so, what action he is taking in the matter with a view to a settlement of the same. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) This matter is now being investigated.

Ammunition Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether field officers are required to command units of ammunition columns and field parks in time of war; and, if not, what employment will be found in war time for field officers of Militia garrrison companies which have been converted into ammunition train, in accordance with the new scheme for the formation of an expeditionary force. (Answered by Air. Secretary Haldane.) I can only repeat the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for the Widnes Division of South-West Lancaster in July last,†viz. that this and other questions affecting the Militia artillery are receiving consideration.

Cavalry Regiment In Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that during the past ten years the sum of £9,160,663 has been spent on barracks in England, £1,990,903 in Ireland, and only £242,124 in Scotland, he will reconsider his

† See (4) Debates, clxi., 175.
decision not to provide in next year's Estimates for the proper accommodation of at least one cavalry regiment in Scotland. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) I cannot prejudge a Question which belongs to next year's Estimates, and the Answer to which may have to be determined by considerations of urgency as regards services to be provided for.

Canteen And Mess Co Operative Society

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that on the occasion of Sir Leslie Rundle's order to the Northern Command with regard to the Canteen and Mess Cooperative Society being revoked by the War Office authorities, travellers and servants of this society were acquainting officers in the command of the action the War Office had adopted two days before this was communicated to General Rundle; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The Army Council have expressed their regret to General Rundle that the notification of the action to be taken in reference to the order in question accidentally reached the Canteen and Mess Co-operative Society before the official letter to the Northern Command was actually dispatched.

To ask the Secretary of State for War for what reason the War Office authorities made the General Commanding-in-Chief in the Northern Command withdraw an order, in accordance with regulations, which he gave in August last, as to units in his command not dealing with the Canteen and Mess Co-operative Society; whether he is aware that this society is not a co-operative society in the true sense of the word, that it has been formed by Army officers, amongst whom Sir Edward Ward, the present Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War, took a prominent part, and that it is now being run by Army officers on full pay; and whether he will consider, having regard to the benefit of the soldier and the advantage of the taxpayer, the advisability of preventing Army officers from using their influence in competing in business with ordinary mercantile firms for the supplies to military canteens and coffee shops. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The order of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, was issued on the assumption that the operations of the Canteen and Mess Co-operative Society were not carried on in accordance with the conditions under which the society professed to transact business. Though one legal opinion favoured that assumption, two others held a contrary view. It was consequently decided to refer the matter for further legal opinion. Meanwhile, pending the receipt of advice of counsel, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief was directed to withdraw the order, as it was manifestly unjust to prejudge the case by prohibiting the troops from dealing with the society. Moreover, the order was not in agreement with the spirit of the regulations, which allows officers commanding units to conduct their canteens in the manner they consider most advantageous to the soldier. It appears from the rules of the society that it is a co-operative society, registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, and is a member of the Co-operative Union. Sir Edward Ward was until 1899 on the committee of management, but neither now nor at any time has he had any pecuniary interest in this society. The committee of management consists of twenty-four members, of whom fifteen are on the active list, but they receive no remuneration for their work, and none of those on the active list holds any shares in the society. The constitution and operations of the society do not appear to be such as to be detrimental either to the soldier or to the taxpayer. The settled policy is to leave the soldier free to derive the same benefits from co-operative methods as are enjoyed by civilians.

Military V Civilian Musicians

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a large number of professional civilian musicians are out of employment as a result of the competition of military bandsmen; whether he is aware that, in London alone, 400 civilian musicians are thus deprived of earning a livelihood; and, having regard to the fact that no other branch of the service is permitted to neglect their military duties to enter into competition with civilian ratepayers, and in view of the hardship arising from these circumstances, whether he will issue an order that the regulations respecting military duties shall apply equally to bandsmen as to other parts of the service. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) I have no means of testing the accuracy of the figures mentioned in the Question, but, as I explained on the 14th June last in answer to a Question put by the hon. Member for South Belfast,† the existing rules have been devised to prevent unfair competition, and I do not propose to make any change in them.

Cumberland Militia

To ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of officers and men in the 3rd Border (Cumberland) Militia, and the number of officers and men in the 4th Border (Cumberland) Militia; and what is the strength of the permanent staff kept up for these two battalions. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The numbers are as follows:—3rd Border Regiment: Officers, 8; Non-Commissioned Officers and men, 432; total, 440 (excluding permanent staff); 4th Border Regiment, Officers 10; Non-

† See (4) Debates, clviii., 1119.
Commissioned Officers and men 209; total 219 (excluding permanent staff). Permanent Staff, 3rd Border Regiment, Officers and men 22; 4th Border Regiment, Officers and men 23.

Reinstatement Of Evicted Holdings

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland how many evicted tenants have been restored to their former holdings, or have had now holdings allotted to them by the Estates Commissioners; in how many cases have holdings so restored or allotted been sold by the persons to whom they were restored or allotted before or very shortly after they got possession; in any such cases have grants of public money been made to enable the evicted tenant to stock the land or rebuild; and who will be liable to repay such advances, the vendor or the purchaser, and how are such advances, if at all, secured. (Answered by Mr. Bryce.) The Estates Commissioners inform me that the number of evicted tenants whom they had reinstated or provided with new holdings up to 31st October, 1906, is 161. The Commissioners have no information as to the number of cases in which the holdings have been sold since the purchasers got possession. In any case in which an advance is made for the improvement of a holding, by building or otherwise, the amount of such advance is repaid by the purchase annuity. In any case in which a grant is made for the purchase of stock or other similar object the amount of the grant is made a charge on the holding in the event of the purchaser disposing of such holding within a period of five years.

Listowel Sitting Of The Land Commission

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state the number of applicants awaiting to have fair rent cases heard before the Land Commission at Listowel; and whether he can state when the Land Commission propose to hold their next sitting at Listowel. (Answered by Mr. Bryce.) The Land Commission inform me that there are but six applications to fix fair rents from the rural district of Listowel that have not yet been listed for hearing, and in these cases the originating notices were all received since the 1st of July last. The date of the next Sub-Commission sitting for the disposal of these cases has not yet been arranged, but the cases will probably be listed for hearing early next year.

Listowel Gun Licence

To ask the Chief Secretary the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state if Mr. Michael Cronin, of Finuge, Listowel, has applied for a gun licence; and, if so, whether the licence to carry arms will be granted. (Answered by Mr. Bryce.) I am informed that Mr. Cronin has applied for a licence to keep a gun, and that the resident magistrate of the district, in the exercise of his discretion, has refused the application.

Spitzbergen Mining Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the international arrangements, if any, with reference to Spitzbergen; what is the nature of the titles under which companies formed for mining and other purposes hold concessions of territory there; and what is the nature and extent of these concessions. (Answered by Secretary Sir Edward Grey.) Spitzbergen does not, so far as His Majesty's Government are aware, form the subject of any international arrangements, no country having asserted any rights of sovereignity over the island. His Majesty's Government have, therefore, no cognizance of any territorial concessions in Spitzbergen.

Royal Canal, Dublin

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to compel the Midland Great Western Railway to have the Broadstone (Dublin) branch of the Royal Canal properly dredged and put in proper navigable order, so that boats can discharge their full load of sand or bricks, lime, or peat, as at present only half loads can be conveyed on this section owing to the way it is being silted up; whether he is aware that this part of the canal is the most convenient part of the system for supplying the north side of Dublin with such materials; whether the Board of Control have any power to have this work carried out; and, if so, whether he will press them to discharge their duty. (Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) The Board of Trade have no powers which would enable them to take the action suggested with regard to the railway company. The Board of Control, as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, is appointed by the Irish Government, and I have no jurisdiction over them.

African Surveys

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether any public statement has been made of the principle upon which Colonial surveys in all parts of Africa are being carried out, as reported by the Colonial Survey Committee; and whether information as to the distribution of charge between Army Votes and Crown Colonies, the Government of the Soudan, and the Egyptian Government must be sought from the Colonial Office, Foreign Office, and War Office. (Answered by Mr. McKenna): No public statement has yet been made of the principle governing Colonial surveys in Africa, but it was with the intention of securing economy, system, and expedition in such undertakings that, the Colonial Surrey Committee, to which my right hon. friend has referred, was formed. With regard to the second part of his Question, the cost of the topographical survey of the Orange River Colony is estimated at a total of £18,500, and of this a sum of £9,000 has been paid by the Colony and the rest is defrayed from Army Votes. The reconnaissance's in the Cape Colony are matters of ordinary military administration, and no charge arises. In other British African possessions where surveys are in progress, the cost is defrayed from the funds of the Colony or Protectorate concerned. In the case of the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan, the cost of the surveys is defrayed by the Soudanese Government.

Clerks To Surveyors Of Taxes

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the fact that the grounds of refusal of the Treasury to hold an inquiry into the case of the clerks to the surveyors of taxes was based on the grounds that all the facts wore fully known, and that no further inquiry would affect the judgment of the Treasury officials, he is aware it is an inquiry by a Select Committee of the House of Commons that is sought by the surveyors and their clerks; and whether, as the case of such clerks is better known to the surveyors than to the Treasury officials, and that they emphasise the hardship to the public that their confidential returns and claims of repayment of income tax should be dealt with by non-civil servants, he will, in the interests of the public themselves, consider the advisability of an independent inquiry being held by a Committee of the House of Commons similar to that granted to the postal officials. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) I see no grounds for such an inquiry.

Ecclesiastical Commissioners' Property In Hereford

To ask the hon. Member for East Bristol, as representing the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, what is the acreage of farm lands held by the Commissioners in the county of Hereford; what is the rental for the same lands; what is the net income from the same lands after deducting all expenses of management; and what acreage is not let at the present time. (Answered by Mr. Hobhouse.) The total area of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' lands in the county of Hereford is 2,950 acres, the gross rental amounts to £3,735 16s., and the net annual income is £2,716. There are nineteen acres of woodland in hand. These figures include cottages and some other property which would not come under the description of farms, but such property forms a small proportion only of the whole.

Church Estate Commissioners And Small Holdings

To ask the hon. Member for East Bristol, as representing the Church Estates Commissioners, whether the Commissioners own the whole or practically the whole land in any parishes; and, if so, what these parishes are, and what provision they make for small holdings in these parishes; and whether, if none is made, they can initiate or encourage the movement in such parishes. (Answered by Mr. Hobhouse.) There are eighteen parishes in agricultural districts in which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners own three-fourths or more of the whole area. The schedule given below shows the names of these parishes, the extent of the Commissioners' lands in each and the holdings into which they are divided. As explained in my written Answer to the hon. Member's Question of the 13th inst,† the Commissioners have not adopted any system for facilitating the creation of small holdings, but they put no hindrance in the way of any such movement and in suitable cases facilitate the purchase by tenants of these holdings.

† See (4) Debates, clxiv, 1278.

Schedule.
Name of Parish.Area of Parish.Area of Ecclesiastical Commissioners' Lands.How Divided
Acres.Acres.
Raskelf4,2803,7003,030 acres in 12 holdings exceeding 100 acres.
450 acres in 11 holdings between 20 and 80 acres.
70 acres in 26 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
80 acres in allotments and cottages.
70 acres woodland in hand.
Leighton Bromswold3,0602,9902,845 acres in 6 holdings of over 190 acres.
15 acres in 4 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
50 acres in allotments and cottages.
80 acres woodland in hand.
Bishopstone3,3852,8982,806 acres in 3 holdings of over 500 acres.
73 acres in 2 holdings between 10 and 50 acres.
8 acres in 4 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
11 acres in allotments and cottages.
Marton in the Forest2,4662,3702,210 acres in 14 holdings of over 100 acres.
160 acres in 3 holdings between 30 and 80 acres.
Horning2,6002,3702,210 acres in 4 holdings of over 150 acres.
130 acres in 2 holdings between 50 and 100 acres.
5 acres in 2 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
25 acres in allotments.
Scampton2,2002,1202,025 acres in 4 holdings of over 400 acres.
27 acres in 5 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
68 acres in allotments, cow pastures, and cottages.
Pershore St. Andrew 1,5121,500720 acres in 3 holdings of over 150 acres.
275 acres in 11 holdings between 10 and 60 acres.
105 acres in 36 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
175 acres in allotments, cottages, &c.
225 acres woodland in hand.

Name of Parish.Area of Parish.Area of Ecclesiastical Commissioners' Lands.How Divided
Acres.Acres.
Colne Rogers1,5741,455The whole in 4 holdings of over 100 acres.
Broxholme1,3501,2501,240 acres in 3 holdings of over 200 acres.
10 acres in 1 holding.
Stratford sub Castle1,4801,1541,128 acres in 2 holdings of over 500 acres.
26 acres in 13 holdings under 10 acres.
Archdeacon Newton1,0401,040The whole in 4 farms of 190 acres and upwards.
Greetwell1,2231,040970 acres in 1 holding.
70 acres damaged ground (ironstone workings).
Binegar1,1591,010706 acres in 3 holdings of over 100 acres.
260 acres in 5 holdings between 10 and 50 acres.
36 acres in 27 holdings under 10 acres.
8 acres woodland and disused quarry in hand.
Ampney St. Mary1,2889881 holding together with land in adjoining parish.
Halloughton988935820 acres in 5 holdings of over 100 acres.
50 acres in 1 holding.
17 acres in 3 holdings between 1 and 10 acres.
48 acres woodland in hand.
Asgarby792792The whole in 3 holdings of over 150 acres.
Grenton826788787 acres in 3 holdings over 100 acres.
1 acre in 3 cottage holdings.
Winnall531502385 acres in 1 holding.
50 acres in 1 holding.
35 acres in 2 holdings over 10 acres.
32 acres in allotments.

Wadhurst Murderer's Reprieve

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Stevens, who was sentenced to death for the murder of his mother at Wadhurst, was reprieved owing to extenuating circumstances or owing to insufficiency of evidence; if the former, what were the extenuating circumstances; if the latter, on what grounds the prisoner is detained in penal servitude. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) It would not be in accordance with constitutional practice that I should state the grounds on which I advised His Majesty to respite the capital sentence in this case and to commute it to penal servitude for life, but I may say that after the sentence had been respited I instituted certain further inquiries, which I could not make before, into facts of the case, and when these inquiries were completed I carefully revised the whole of the case in consultation with the Judge. In the end, I came to the conclusion that there was no doubt whatever as to the prisoner's guilt, and that I could advise no further commutation of sentence.

Assistant Inspectors Of Factories

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now able to state the improvements he is prepared to make in the conditions of assistant inspectors of factories. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) Yes, Sir. In view of the more important duties which are about to be laid on the assistant class, the Treasury have at my request sanctioned certain improvements in the pay of that class. The minimum salary is to be raised from £100 to £110, while the whole body of forty assistants will be divided into two grades, each containing twenty men. The lower grade will be on the scale of £110 per annum, rising by £5 per annum to £150, and the higher grade on the scale of £150, rising by £5 per annum to £200. This arrangement will supersede the ten special allowances of £25 per annum each which are at present made to ten of the assistants. Sanction has also been given to an arrangement whereby an assistant of exceptional ability may occasionally be promoted into the ranks of the inspectorate proper by means of an examination limited to the subjects relating to his duties without being-required to compete against outside candidates in the ordinary factory inspectors' examination. These new arrangements will take effect on the 1st of April next. This announcement will, I hope, give satisfaction to the assistants, and stimulate them to prove themselves worthy of the heavier tasks and greater responsibilities which they will be called upon to undertake.

Motor Skidding Accidents

TO ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, in order to avoid accidents owing to the skidding of rubber-tyred wheels, he will include within Clause 7 of the Heavy Motor Car Order, 1904, vehicles with wheels having wooden tyres, which do not skid. (Answered by Mr. John Burns.) Article VII. of the Order limits the speed at which a heavy motor car can be driven on a highway to eight miles an hour, but contains provisoes which allow a higher rate of speed in certain cases. I presume the proposal is that the second of these provisoes, which applies to cases where a car has all its wheels fitted with pneumatic tyres or with tyres made of a soft or elastic material, shall be extended to cars with wooden tyres. I am not, however, at present prepared to give effect to this suggestion.

Death Duties Problems

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Board of Inland Revenue, in making the statement that in the case of the estate valued at £132,300 in 1898, and floated with a capital of £450,000 in 1900, the Board had no title to reopen the matter on the strength of developments which took place two years after the death, took into their consideration that such developments disclosed the fact that the estate had been underassessed at the time of death, and also their own statements to this House that the power of the Board to recover under assessed death duty is not limited as to time, and that, had the purchase been effected sooner, the valuation would have been corrected; can he explain the apparent contradiction between the statements made by the Board and say why no action was taken to recover in this case in which a false return had been made, seeing that according to their own statement the Board possessed the power. (Answered by Mr. Asquith.) It is even now impossible for anyone to say that if the property had been sold in 1898, instead of in 1900, it could have fetched more than the sum at which it was valued, the property being of a kind liable to violent fluctuations. The Board adhere to their statement that in this particular case they were precluded from reopening the settlement of 1898, by reason of the circumstances which attended the making of it.

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the case of the estate valued at £132,300 in 1898 and floated with a capital of £450,000 in 1900, whether he is aware that the prospectus of the company disclosed the fact that a false return had been made at the time of death and that the Estate Duty had been under-assessed to the amount of at least £20,000; has his attention also been drawn to the report of the chartered accountant quoted in the prospectus, from which it appears that the profits made were, in round figures, 1895 £27,000, 1896 £31,000, 1897 £33,000, 1899 £28,000, and 1900 £29,000; will he state whether Income Tax was paid OH the sums named; if not, whether action was taken in this case similar to Case 4, page 33, in the Appendix to the Report of the Departmental Committee on Income Tax, 1904–5; and, if not, why not. (Answered by Mr. Asquith.) All the facts were fully disclosed at the time of the death, and there is no ground whatever for the. suggestion that a false Return was made. The prospectus issued in 1900 is not before the Board of Inland Revenue, but in any case they are not at liberty to discuss Returns of Income Tax under Schedule D with persons not directly concerned with the Returns.

Army Meat And Forage Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is prepared to reconsider the terms of contract tenders for the supply of meat to the troops and forage to the horses stationed in the three Kingdoms so as to enable j the supplies to be of Home produce. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) No, Sir.

Barrack Construction

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the accounts of several builders and contractors for works completed for the War Department, prior to the appointment of the Director of Barrack Construction in March 1905, still remain unpaid; whether until the appointment of that official, such delays were unknown; and will steps be taken to expedite payment to the builders. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) A few delays have occurred from time to time in the payment of such bills, but only when disputes have arisen on technical points of construction work or when legal questions have arisen in connection with the contracts.

Public Trustee Bill

To ask the Prime Minister if, in view of his declaration that the Government were exceedingly desirous of passing the Public Trustee Bill, and that he fully intended to pass it this Session, and having regard to the almost daily record of fraud to the prejudice of the poor and ignorant, he can now name a day for the Committee Stage, bearing in mind that the session is fast flying away. (Answered by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.) No, Sir; I cannot yet name a day for the Committee stage, but the hon. and gallant Member may reply upon it that the Government will do their utmost to pass the Bill this session.

Questions In The House

Mr Bucknill's Report

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if more than one copy of the evidence, given before Mr. Commissioner Bucknill, is in the possession of the Colonial Office.

The Papers in question are in duplicate. There is the original despatch relating to the Bucknill Report, and one copy of it and its enclosures. Both are and have been since their arrival in England in the Colonial Office, and no one has seen them except official persons and the hon. Member for Berkshire. But I was not aware until this morning that there were in fact two typewritten copies. I greatly regret that by an Answer I gave on the 19th instant I should have misled the House upon this point;† and I am obliged to the noble Lord for having by his Question enabled me to discover and to correct my mistake.

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if the witnesses were sworn before giving evidence before Mr. Commissioner Bucknill.

The Secretary of State, as he stated in another place on Wednesday last,‡ understands that the witnesses were not sworn.

Tanjong Pagar Dock Award

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company award, whether the shares in this company were quoted at $240 when expropriation by the Government was first decided on; whether the Government was offered the shares at $700 by the company; and whether the arbitration award of Lord St. Aldwyn forces the Government to pay $783 per share, equivalent to $880, comparing the present value of the dollar with its value two years ago.

I believe that the figure given in the first part of the hon. Member's Question is approximately correct. I do not understand that any formal offer was made by the company, but $700 was mentioned by the directors in conversation with the Governor. The award works out at about $755 per share, which, at 2s. 4d. the dollar, would, as the

† See (4) Debates, clxv., 394.
‡ See (4) Debates, clxv., 729.
hon. Member suggests, be equivalent to $880 at 2s.

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the Tanjong Pagar Dock award, whether, on 21st June last, the shares of this company were quoted at $485 per $100 share for sellers; and that the award, declared on 14th July, involves the Straits Settlements in a liability for the purchase of those shares £1,000,000 in excess of their total value as at that quoted price.

The Secretary of State has no knowledge of the quoted price of these shares at the time mentioned by the hon. Member.

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company award, whether the costs of this arbitration will exceed £40,000, and of this amount how much Lord St. Aldwyn will receive; and whether this House will have an opportunity of discussing this arbitration.

Yes, Sir. The cost of the arbitration will be largely in excess of £40,000. I am unable at present to state the amount exactly. Lord St. Aldwyn received a fee of £5,750 for his services as umpire. The latter part of the hon. Member's Question should be addressed to the Prime Minister.

How long did the arbitration take to sit at Singapore? How many witnesses who appeared before the arbitration came from England?

*

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the total capital of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was $3,700,000, on which 12 per cent, per annum was paid until the Government decided to expropriate the property; whether the award of Lord St. Aldwyn involves a payment of about 28,500,000 appreciated dollars for this property, or sixty-five years purchase of annual dividend; and whether he is aware that Governor Sir John Anderson stated, on 13th February, 1905, that fourteen years purchase would be the usual rate in Singapore.

The figures given by the hon. Member are correct, except that 12 per cent. was the smallest dividend paid in recent years, nor did the dividends accurately measure the value of the property, and I may remind him that among the assets taken over by the Colonial Government is a considerable amount of land not required for the purposes of the company's business. I presume that the hon. Member, in the last part of the Question, is referring to the Governor's despatch No. 23 in Cd. 3249. He stated in conversation with the directors that 7 per cent. was the ordinary rate of interest in Singapore, and that expropriation on that basis would mean fourteen years purchase of their ordinary dividend.

New Hebrides

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can now state the character of the appointments to be made under the Anglo-French agreement in relation to the New Hebrides; and when the terms of the agreement will be laid.

The only new appointment to be made by His Majesty's Government specifically mentioned in the New Hebrides is that of the British Judge in the Joint Court, and no decision has yet been taken as to the number and exact character of the subordinate appointments which will be necessary. The convention was laid before Parliament on the 8th instant.

Gambling In The Federated Malay States

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will describe the steps His Majesty's Government are now taking to abolish the system by which the Government of the Federated Malay States are deriving an average annual revenue of $3,000,000 from gambling houses.

An enactment is now before the State Councils which will enable the residents to prohibit gambling in districts to be specified by proclamation. When the time comes for re-letting the gambling farm, it is proposed to prohibit gambling in non-mining districts and restrict the hours during which it is permitted in the mining districts and towns. It is hoped that, if these measures are successful, it will in a few years be possible to extend the prohibition to the whole of the States.

Repatriation Of Chinese Coolies

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government intend to continue payment for the repatriation of Chinese indentured coolies at their own request out of Imperial funds after self-government has been given to the Transvaal and until all the indentured coolies have left that country.

The institution of a system of State-aided repatriation of Chinese coolies was designed to mitigate the objections which might justly be urged against the conditions of their employment, by affording at all times a ready path of escape from these conditions. So long as those conditions prevail His Majesty's Government would desire that the means of escape should be preserved unimpaired; and there is no intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to-withdraw the support they have given to them. But the arrangements for terminating the existing system of Chinese labour in the Transvaal as expeditiously as possible must be considered as a whole when that Colony is endowed with responsible government; and no single part of those arrangements can be determined separately in anticipation.

Are we to understand that even after self government has been given, so long as the conditions of Chinese labour may be regarded as servile, the Government will pay from Imperial funds the expenses of those who desire to go home?

The State-aided repatriation on the part of the Imperial Government is intended to be coincident with the existence of the evil conditions out of which the policy originally arose.

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that at a meeting held in Johannesburg on 22nd November it was resolved, by 5,000 to 3, that the proper course for remedying the evils incident on Chinese labour was to repatriate the Chinese coolies on the expiration of their contracts; and whether the Government has signified its approval of this method of dealing with the question.

I have seen such a statement in the newspapers. The policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Chinese labour has been fully made known both in method and intention. It is not always necessary for official comment to be made on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Colonies upon the resolutions or proceedings of public meetings; such a practice would involve an extension of our duties which could scarcely fail to be laborious and inconvenient. Least of all need such comments be made now when the grant of responsible government is about to afford a regular and effective expression to public opinion in the Transvaal through the agency of a representative Assembly.

Ex-President Steyn And The Orange River Franchise

I beg to ask the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that ex-President Steyn has expressed the opinion that it would be wise to follow the example of Cape Colony in granting the franchise to the better class natives on an education and property basis; and whether, in view of this fact, he will consider the advisability of consulting the leading men of all parties in the Orange River Colony as to the possibility of inserting a limited native franchise in the new constitution.

Such an expression of opinion by Mr. Steyn would not, in view of the terms of peace, justify His Majesty's Government in inserting a native franchise, however limited, in the new constitution, but it affords some ground for hoping that the action of the future colonial Parliament will show a proper recognition of the principle "equal lights for all civilised men."

Chinese Coolies In Johannesburg

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies is he aware that Chinese coolies who have been imported into Johannesburg on special licence, referring only to work in the mines, have often been employed of late in various handicrafts, such as carpentering, to the exclusion of white workmen, whose prices may possibly be higher on such work; and, if so, what steps does he propose to take to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

I have received no information of the kind suggested by the hon. Member, but if any evidence to that effect is brought to the notice of the Secretary of State he will communicate with the Governor on the subject.

Juvenile Offenders At Birmingham

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the working of the children's court at Birmingham has proved satisfactory in keeping children under sixteen out of prison; in what other places children's courts have been established; and if the Home Office will facilitate the starting of these courts and the payment of probation officers.

*

Yes, Sir. The results of the working of the children's court in Birmingham have been most satisfactory in reducing the number of children committed to prison. The number of children under sixteen received in prison from Birmingham was eighty-four during the twelve months before the court was established and only twenty-one in the first twelve months after its establishment. I have already, in reply to a Question by my hon. friend the Member for Berwickshire on 30th May last,† given full particulars of the action taken by county and borough benches for the separate treatment of children. I have been doing my utmost by regulations in the metropolitan police courts and by circulars to other courts to promote the special and separate treatment of children's cases, and I hope soon to introduce

† See (4) Debates, clviii., 389.
a Bill to facilitate the release of offenders on probation and the payment of probation officers.

Will the right hon. Gentleman encourage the formation of a corps of probation officers?

*

I would suggest my hon. friend should wait for the introduction of the Bill.

Administration Of The Shop Hours Act In Glamorgan

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that orders made under the Shop Hours Act, 1904, are frequently violated and are allowed to go unpunished owing to the difficulty of ascertaining the prosecuting authority; whether the Standing Joint Committee of the Glamorgan County Council refuses to allow the police to take action in such cases in Merthyr; and whether any means can be taken in the way of instructing the police or otherwise to have the provisions of the Act more rigidly carried into effect.

*

No representations have been made to me to this effect, nor have I received any relating to the enforcement of the closing order made by the Merthyr Tydvil Town Council. No special duty with regard to enforcing such orders is laid upon the police by the Shop Hours Acts. On the contrary, power is given to the authority which makes the order to appoint inspectors and those inspectors are invested with special powers of entry for the purpose, such as are not possessed by the police. It is also open to any person aggrieved to institute proceedings.

Surrender Of Life Policies

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the amounts which have accrued to life insurance companies in consequence of the number of lapsed policies and for which discontinuances the companies make no allowance in their periodical valuation to the Board of Trade under the Act of 1870, neither are their tables for premiums based in part upon the average secessions, but wholly upon the rates of mortality, he will cause an inquiry to be held into the whole subject with a view to legislation in the immediate future having for its subject the establishment of a legal surrender value of life policies.

I do not think that it is necessary to institute an official inquiry with a view to legislation in the direction indicated by my hon. friend, but if he will place before me any information in his possession on the subject I will see that the matter is care fully considered.

Sir Francis Hopwood

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade when the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Trade returned from South Africa; and when he fully resumed his official duties.

Sir Francis Hopwood returned from South Africa in July. Since that time he has been fully occupied with official duties.

North Glamorgan Official Receiver

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether Mr. Ellis Owen, the newly appointed official receiver for the Morthyr district, was for some years connected with the Press at Carnarvon and at present occupies the position of manager and editor of the Brecon and Radnor Express; and whether he has had any legal training or experience in accountancy, and what other qualifications he has for the post.

Mr. Ellis Owen, the newly-appointed official receiver of the North Glamorgan District, who will give all his time to the duties of the post, has been for about six years manager and editor of the Brecon and Radnor Express. He had previously been associated in the management of other newspaper offices. In these posts of management he has had a good deal of practical, and in one instance of exceptional, experience in accountancy. He is a man of undoubted business aptitudes and I find that he is described by the leading Welsh Conservative paper as "an exceptionally keen business man." In my opinion the experience which a business man acquires in dealing with affairs and with men may in some cases be an even better qualification for an official receiver than a legal education. I have satisfied myself that Mr. Owen is fully qualified for the post to which he has been appointed, and I am glad to observe that the leading South Wales papers of both Parties also take that view.

Has Mr. Owen had any business experience outside the newspaper world?

Certainly he has, and he is generally recognised as a very keen man of business.

"Shepperton" Assault Case

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called, by Mr. Allison Wood, of Sunderland, Secretary to the British Shipmasters' and Officers' Protection Society, to the case of Mr. John Annison, of Sunderland, captain of the steamship "Shepperton," who was seriously assaulted at Sulina by two members of his crew, and that, on his appealing to the British consul at that place for redress, the latter stated that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter, basing such statement on a letter of instructions, dated 11th June, 1906, 1045M (official letter, No. 11,931); if so, would he state the contents of such letter and the justification for sending the same; and why no action was taken by the consul in accordance with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1904 (Section 480, and Part XIII., of the Act).

Yes, my attention has been called to the case to which my hon. friend refers. It appears that a dispute arose between the master of the "Shepperton" and two members of his crew whose wages he proposed to reduce, and in connection with this dispute one of the men assaulted the master on shore and in the presence only of local witnesses. The British Vice-Consul considered that the matter was one for the local authorities before whom he assisted the master to lay the case. The Board of Trade letter referred to in the question had no bearing on cases such as this and dealt with the question of the imprisonment of seaman pending trial. As regards the question of action under the Merchant Shipping Act, I think the Vice-Consul was justified in deciding that the assault did not require to be dealt with under Section 480. The case was not one of such gravity as to require Part XIII. of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, to be brought into operation, seeing that the case could be more conveniently dealt with by a local court.

He came to the conclusion it was a proper case for the local authorities.

Hendon And The Telephone

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he can say when telephonic facilities will be extended to Hendon.

I regret that I cannot at present say when I shall be able to extend telephonic facilities to Hendon. One obstacle— though not the only one—is the high charge which the urban district council desires to make for reinstatement of paving, etc., after the underground wires have been laid.

Post Offices On Licensed Premises

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether there are any, and, if so, how many instances, in which a branch post office is established upon premises where a grocer's licence or a licence for the sale of intoxicants for consumption off the premises is also held; and whether, in all future appointments, of branch or sub-postmasters, a condition will be made that intoxicating liquors shall not be sold upon the premises where any business of the Post Office is transacted.

A Return of the number of post offices, telegraph offices, and public telephone offices situated on licensed premises has been laid on the Table of the House. It is the rule that sub-postmasters should not hold a licence, and it is only when the public convenience or the efficiency of the service would other wise suffer that exceptions to the rule are allowed.

Subsidies To The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the alterations made in Clauses 16 and 30 of the Bill for the establishment of an Agricultural and Technical Department in Ireland (1899) with the special object of making it impossible for the Department to subsidise out of public funds, either directly or indirectly, the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society or any other private association; and what steps the Irish Government propose to take to secure that the will of Parliament is carried out in this matter.

My attention has been called to the questions which have arisen in respect of the alterations made in the Bill of 1899 referred to in the Question, but I have no personal recollections bearing on the subject, and no special or official data for enabling me to form an opinion upon it. As regards the legal question involved, I have asked for the opinion of the Irish law officers.

I desire to ask whether the attention of the right hon. Gentleman has been called to the fact that this is a question involving a matter of policy, whether the alterations made in the clauses of the Bill wore not made with the special object of making it impossible for the Department to subsidise the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society; and whether he would not hold himself bound by those alterations not to sanction such action on behalf of the Department.

I said I did not know the precise point, but I understand the point the right hon. Gentleman raises is one which is disputed by those who are parties, viz., whether the alteration made had that intention. If it has that intention the question arises does the statute cover it? We have seen Acts of Parliament passed supposed to contain certain intentions, and we have seen the Court of Appeal hold that they were bound only by statute. I think I am bound by what the meaning of the statute is, and upon that I have asked for the opinion of the law officer.

The right hon. Gentle man has not really replied to my Question. What I ask is, whether the personal attention of the right hon. Gentleman has been called to the matter. I am speaking now not strictly on a matter of law, but of policy. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in his opinion, the alterations made did not involve a pledge on behalf of the head of the Department not to give to these outsiders?

That is covered by my Answer. With regard to the meaning of the statute, the view I take is that the Court of Appeal decided the other day, that what was said at the time the statute was passed does not govern the statute. The statute must be interpreted as it stands.

I am sorry to have to ask another Question. This is a matter of policy; it is not a question of legal interpretation. The Question I want to ask is this, whether the right hon. Gentleman has examined what took place at the passing of the Bill, and whether in his opinion as Minister he is not bound by the alterations to exercise his authority to prevent the Department subsidising these associations.

Without expressing any opinion on that—which is a matter of controversy—I do not consider my view as a matter of policy should be governed by that matter. My view of the matter of policy so far as this House is concerned must be interpreted by the Act.

May I ask whether this Irish Agricultural Organisation Society is not a private trading society in competition with importers and exporters, and therefore entitled to no help?

That raises a totally different question. It is not the question raised by the hon. Member for Mayo, and it does not arise out of the Question.

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the action of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland in subsidising the Irish Agricultural Organisation out of the public funds at its disposal is illegal; and what steps, he proposes to take to prevent the continuance of this illegal action on the part of the Department.

My attention has been drawn to the action of the Department of Agriculture, and Technical Instruction in making payments out of public funds to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. I am aware that the legality of these payments has been questioned; but the Department, on the other hand, hold that the payments are legal. The question is one of very great importance, and a case containing a full statement of the facts is being prepared for the opinion of the law officers. This will receive full consideration from my colleague the Solicitor-General and my self.

Teaching Of Irish In Irish Schools

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieu tenant of Ireland whether he is now in a position to state what action, if any, the National Board of Education propose to take on the suggestions put forward by the Coisde Gnotha of the Gaelic League for the teaching of Irish and the scale of fees.

Has the right hon. Gentleman sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to explain the meaning of the Gaelic words in the Question?

Although my knowledge of the language is, I am sorry to say, very limited, I have informed myself sufficiently of the meaning to enable me to answer the Question. I am not yet in a position to state what action, if any, the Com missioners of National Education propose to take in the matter mentioned in the Question.

Portmagee Pier

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant, of Ireland whether he is aware that the Kerry County Council has agreed to contribute a sum of £200 towards the extension of the pier at Portmagee provided that the Congested Districts Board will complete the work; and whether, in view of the fact that the pier has lately been inspected by the Boards engineer, and that the Board has previously expressed its willingness to undertake the work on condition that a subscription should be forthcoming from the landlords or other source, this under taking will now be carried out.

I am informed that in October, 1894, the Congested Districts Board decided that they would not undertake the extension of Portmagee pier, the cost of which was estimated at at £1,250, unless a substantial local contribution were forthcoming. The county council have now offered £200, which cannot be regarded as a substantial contribution. It was expected that a contribution would also be obtained from the authorities of Trinity College, who are not only local landlords but, as the Board understand, are in possession of the existing pier. The Board's engineer is now in communication with the county surveyor, and will shortly furnish plans and estimates for the extension, where upon the matter will be further considered by the Congested Districts Board.

Colonel Malone's Baronstown Farms

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, if he does not favour the consolidation of grass farms in a congested neighbourhood at the public expense, will he ask the Estates Commissioners to refuse to declare the partially congested portion of the Barons town a separate estate, unless Colonel Malone sells the grass farms for the relief of the congestion.

I beg to refer the hon. Member to my previous Answers on this subject, in which I have stated, on the authority of the Estates Commissioners, that the grass farms on Colonel Malone's estate are held under leases or by yearly tenants, and that the Commissioners have no power to compel lands so held to be sold to them as untenanted land. I am atone with the, Commissioners in their policy of acquiring; untenanted lands for the enlargement of uneconomic holdings, wherever that may be possible, and it is quite unnecessary that I should ask them to do what they are most anxious to do. If the hon. Member has any new facts which he desires to bring to the notice of the Commissioners I shall be happy to communicate further with them.

Evicted Tenants

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that some evicted families are still unprovided for, not owing to any defect in their claim or to want of untenanted land, but to a difficulty in making sufficient grant to enable families consisting of women to work new holdings; and, seeing that these are the families that have suffered most and whose need is greatest, will he take any steps to have their cases dealt with this season by the Commissioners.

The Estates Commissioners inform me that they are unable to identify any particular cases as coming within the description mentioned in the Question. The Commissioners deal with individual cases of evicted tenants after full consideration and inquiry into the merits of each case, and pay due regard to the terms of No. VI. of the Regulations of the Lord-Lieutenant, dated 13th February, 1906.

Galway Police Sergeant

On behalf of the hon. Member for Galway, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Sergeant Walker, of the constabulary barracks in Dannuch Street, Galway, swore an information against Mr. John Lydon, a leading Nationalist in Galway, on the 12th November, and was disbelieved by the bench; that on previous occasions, within the past two years, the same sergeant swore information which was discredited in Court; and that he was removed from another district to Galway in consequence of repeated local protests expressed in this House and elsewhere; and whether the authorities will take steps to have this sergeant placed in some situation where he will be under the immediate charge of a district inspector and head constable.

I am informed by the police authorities that Mr. John Lydon was summoned by the police for having his licensed promises open at prohibited hours, Sergeant Walker being the principal witness. As there was some conflict of testimony in regard to the exact time at which the premises were found open, the magistrates gave the accused the benefit of the doubt and dismissed the case. The County Inspector reports that it is not the case that the sergeant has sworn information which have been discredited in Court. Sergeant Walker was transferred to Galway, not because of any protests, local or otherwise, but in the interests of the public service. The Inspector-General has received reports from the local officers that Sergeant Walker is a man of excellent character and conduct, and he therefore sees no grounds to order his removal from his present station.

Lissahully Tenantry

I beg to; ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieu tenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the tenants in the townland of Lissahully, in Killeen, county Donegal, signed purchase agreements in March, 1905, with the Congested Districts Board of their holdings on terms of about twenty-seven years purchase of what the Board estimated to be the fair letting value of the lands, and were informed that this purchase annuity would become payable within six weeks or two months, during which period they would have to pay £4 per cent, interest on their purchase money; whether he is aware that these tenants, notwithstanding this assurance, have, since March, 1905, till the present time, been compelled to pay £4 per cent, on the purchase money which amounts to 4s. 6d. in the pound more than they were informed their purchase annuity would be, while some of these tenants who were tenant purchasers of small farms in the neighbourhood gave up their farms on the strength of the promises made by the Congested Districts Board; and whether, having regard to the hardship and expense sustained by these tenants through the failure of the Congested Districts Board to fulfil their undertaking that the purchase annuity of £3 5s. per cent, would become payable within six months of the signing of the purchase agreements, and that in some cases the interest of £4 per cent, per annum would not be paid for any period however short, what are the steps which it is proposed to take to relieve them from this burden, and to give them compensation for the time during which it was borne in violation of the under taking given by the Congested Districts Board.

I am informed that the facts are generally as stated, but with this substantial exception, namely, that no officer of the Congested Districts Board informed the tenants that the 4 per cent, interest would only be pay able for the short time mentioned. The purchase agreements were executed by the tenant purchasers before a Commissioner of Oaths who is bound to see that the tenant understands the conditions of the purchase agreement. This agreement expressly states that 4 per cent, interest on the purchase price shall be paid in lieu of rent from the date of execution of agreement to the date on which the advance of purchase money applied for may be made to the Congested Districts Board by the Land Commission. The delay in vesting the holdings in the tenants appears to have been caused by legal difficulties which arose in connection with the redemption of a head rent payable out of the lands, but the solicitor reports that he hopes that the matter will soon be completed. There is no doubt that this delay was not anticipated at the time, and under the circumstances the matter will be brought before the Board at their next meeting with a view of considering whether a reduction from 4 per cent, to 3¼ per cent, interest should be given to the tenants.

Irish Agricultural Endowment Fund

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if the fund, referred to in the annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland as the endowment fund, has been created under Section 16, Subsection 3, of 62 and 63 Vic, c. 50; if not, under what section, if any; and whether, seeing that Section 16, Sub-section 3, is merely the usual proviso for the retention of unexpended yearly balances, and that, on 31st March 1905 the Department had, in addition to the ordinary yearly balance of £37,077 1s. 9d., a sum accumulated and invested amounting to £410,837 15s. l1d., and, in view of the fact that many schemes beneficial to the country for the purposes of agriculture and other rural industries or sea fisheries have been refused aid by the Department on the ground of lack of funds, he will consider the advisability of releasing this sum of money, or a portion of it, and have it devoted to the objects for which it was primarily voted by Parliament.

The endowment fund of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction was created under the provisions of Section 15 of the Agriculture and Technical Instruction Act of 1899. The nominal or face value of the securities at present held is £379,431 15s., the real value, at present prices, being approximately £357,430. In addition, the Department have £35,000 in bank on temporary deposit, and the total value of the endowment fund is therefore £392,430. The liabilities on this sum which are earmarked under the terms of Section 16 (1) (a) to (f) of the Act, amount to £122,540; and allocations sanctioned by the Agricultural Board for agricultural colleges and stations, and agricultural schemes, amount to £139,960. The unallocated balance, amounting to about £130,000, is, in the view of the Department, required to meet the present excess of annual expenditure over normal income on the purposes of agriculture and other rural industries, and sea fisheries, as defined in Section 30 of the Act.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the figures mentioned in my Question are taken from the official publication of the Department, and inasmuch as the right hon. Gentle man has denied the authenticity of the statement that the fund amounts to £410,837, will he take steps to see that the Department publish accurate figures?

Is the deficiency in the annual revenue of the Department due to the subsidies paid to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society?

United Irish League—Leitrim Branches

On behalf of the hon. Member for East Down, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that in that portion of the county Leitrim of which Drumkeerin, Dromahair, and Dowra are the centres, the United Irish League is holding courts to which the grazier, the farmer, and the shop keeper are bidden to come and appear or else subject themselves to the penalty of the league law; and whether he proposes to take any, and, if any, what action in the matter.

I am informed by the police authorities that it is not the case that courts are held by the United Irish League in the districts referred to. It appears, however, from local newspaper reports that meetings of the League are held at which evicted tenants and others sometimes attend to give voice to their grievances, and at subsequent meetings the persons whose action may be complained of sometimes voluntarily appear for the purpose of offering an explanation. I have not received any information which would go to show that there has been any omission to take any action called for. The police are taking all necessary steps for the preservation of the peace, and the condition of the district is being watched.

Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that a reign of terror exists there?

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said he was not aware of any circumstances which would justify the strong expression used by the hon. Member.

Boycotting At Dromahair

On behalf of the hon. Member for East Down, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, in consequence of the action of the United Irish League, people in Dromahair by boycotting and other methods have been obliged to get the necessities of life sent them through the medium of the Post Office, and that a branch of the League at Drumkeeran having discovered this reported that the Post Office authorities were supplying goods to a farmer named Boles and his assistant, and directed their vigilance committee to make further inquiries and report at the next meeting; and what steps he is taking to maintain the supremacy of the law in these parts.

I am informed by the police authorities that it is not the fact that persons at Dromahair have been compelled, by boycotting or other methods, to obtain the necessaries of life through the medium of the post. A local news paper recently contained a statement to the effect mentioned in the second part of the Question, but the police have no knowledge that these proceedings did in fact take place at the meeting. The police are, I am informed, taking all measures which may be necessary to protect persons from intimidation, and generally to preserve the peace in this district.

Royal Irish Constabulary

On behalf of the hon. Member for East Down, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether it is pro posed by the Government to alter in any way by legislation the present status of the Royal Irish Constabulary, or interfere with existing arrangements whereby its administration and financial control are retained in the hands of the executive Government directly responsible to the British House of Commons.

I have already told the House that I cannot, in the course of the present session, make any statement, either of a positive or negative character, in regard to any possible future legislation which may affect any branch of the Government of Ireland; and the hon. Member will doubtless understand that he is not to draw any inference whatever from this statement which, for obvious reasons, must be made in the most general terms that can be employed.

Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to ask the Prime Minister to consult the members of the Irish Unionist Party as to any future legislation?

My right hon. friend has already stated that he will be most happy to receive suggestions from members of the so-called Unionist Party.

Gaelic League's Teaching Scheme

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will state the nature of the scheme of Irish teaching which has been laid before him by the Gaelic League; whether he has approved of it; and whether, instead of putting pressure upon the National Board in regard to this matter, he will endeavour first to get from the Treasury the additional funds necessary for providing adequate schoolhouse accommodation for Irish children.

The suggestions as to the teaching of Irish which have been sent to me by the Gaelic League are too long to be stated in Answer to a Question, and, indeed, were not sent to me for publication. I have expressed no opinion regarding them, but have referred them to the National Board to whom it belongs to submit proposals for the expenditure of money in every branch of elementary education. The hon. Member is not entitled to assume, and is wrong in assuming, that any pressure has been put upon the National Board. None such has, in fact, been put. The Irish Government is, and has for some time been, in constant communication with the Treasury in regard to the provision of adequate schoolhouse accommodation for Irish children, a subject whose importance is fully recognised.

Is not the placing of these schoolhouses in a sanitary condition more important than teaching the Irish language?

I have said I regard the provision of good buildings as of the highest importance.

Sligo And Bundoran Railway

TO ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has received a series of resolutions passed at a public meeting held in Bundoran on 8th November, over which the Very Rev. J. Malhern, D.D., P.P., presided, in favour of the construction of a line of railway between Sligo and Bundoran, in which the advantages to the public of such an undertaking are set forth; and whether, having regard to the fact that he, in response to' a deputation which waited on him during his visit to Sligo, ex pressed himself in the main as favourable to such a project, he will take into consideration in the preparation of the Ireland Development Grant Estimate for 1907–8 the question of the construction of a line from Bundoran to Sligo.

I have received the resolutions referred to in the Question, and have asked the Board of Works for a report on the proposed line. Although disposed to favour this and every similar project which would tend to develop the resources of the country, I regret to say that the present financial position of the Ireland Development Grant is not such as to make it possible to throw at this moment any further charges for railway extension upon it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is one of about half-a-dozen itinerant Irish Secretaries who have come down holding out hopes which have no chance of realisation?

[No Answer was returned.]

State Of School Buildings

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is now in a position to make a full statement of the situation as to school building grants in Ireland; whether the dispute between the Treasury and the National Board in this matter has now lasted for six years; and whether he can state the reasons for this state of affairs. May I also ask whether the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been called to that part of the last Report of the Commissioners for National Education which deals with this subject, and whether he can lay on the Table the full correspondence between the Treasury and the National Board on this question of school grants?

I am afraid I cannot say that the confidential correspondence between the Departments can be laid on the Table. After consultation with the Treasury I am able to say that the present position is that the suggestions of the Commissioners of National Education as regards standard plans for the future were forwarded by the Irish Government to the Treasury a few days ago, and are now being examined on behalf of the Treasury. In the mean time, the Commissioners have authority to submit urgent cases, with details of requirements in each case, for consideration on their merits.

Am I to understand that after six years—for this question arose six years ago—these controversies between the Treasury and the National Board are still going on while the school houses are falling in ruins about the heads of the children? Are we now where we were six years ago?

That is not the case at all. It is not the case that this particular question has been going on for six years, though there has been a great deal of regrettable delay. There had been a great deal of correspondence backwards and forwards going on for some time before the present Government came into office about the amount of money that should be given; but these questions have been very largely disposed of now, and a general arrangement for the disposal of the money for the next few years has been come to. For the moment this further question has arisen, and that is the question which is now stopping the way. 1 hope it will soon be disposed of.

As this is a matter of vital importance, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot press the Treasury to allow him to lay the correspondence and a full statement of the situation before the House?

May I ask the so-called Chief Secretary for Ireland —[Ministerial cries of "Order."]

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I withdraw the epithet, Sir. It was only called forth by the insult of the Chief Secretary to the Irish Unionist Party in answer to a previous Question of mine.

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If the right hon. Gentleman had used any expression I considered unparliamentary I should have called his attention and the attention of the House to it.

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had any right to describe the Irish Unionist Party as "the so-called Unionist Party?"

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Many things may be said of a Party which may not be said of an individual.

If that expression, which, I confess, I used in a somewhat festive manner, gives any offence to the hon. Member, of course I withdraw it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is in Ireland a desire which is rapidly ripening into a demand for more effectual dealing with educational matters, and will he take an early opportunity of placing before the House some statement of policy?

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West Belfast Revision

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that at the recent revision for the Parliamentary Division of West Belfast the revising barristers were obliged to disfranchise a considerable number of voters owing to the fact that the poor rate payable in respect of the premises out of which the franchise was sought had not been paid during at least a portion of the time that the premises were in the occupation of the persons claiming the franchise; whether he is aware that in all the cases referred to such payment should have been made by the landlord or his agent; whether the agent for such properties is bound to make a statutory declaration, and in each of the cases referred to did make such declaration, to the effect that the premises were vacant, and accordingly claimed an abatement upon the rates proportionate with the period of alleged non-occupation of the premises: whether he is aware that in several cases the agents, on cross-examination, had admitted that they had placed on the list as vacant houses which they knew were not vacant; whether his attention has been called to the remarks of the revising barrister, who expressed himself strongly upon the matter and did not hesitate to say that the declarations were made for the purpose of defrauding the rates; and whether, in view of the fact that a number of electors have by this method been deprived of the franchise, he intends to take any action against such agents for making, first, false declarations, and, secondly, for obtaining money by false representations and so defrauding the ratepayers.

My attention and that of my right hon. friend the Attorney General for Ireland have been called to the facts alleged in the Question, and the Attorney-General has directed that full inquiries shall be made by the Crown Solicitor with the view of ascertaining whether offences against the law have been committed. Upon receipt of the Crown Solicitor's Report the Attorney-General will consider the question of instituting a prosecution.

Macroom Disturbance

On behalf of the hon. Member for East Down, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a crowd of Nationalist rowdies on the 14th instant at Macroom attacked a Mr. McCarthy and his sister as they were boarding the train for Cork, knocking the former down several times and otherwise behaving in a most disorderly manner; and will he say whether the offenders have been brought to justice.

I am informed by the police authorities that proceedings at the instance of the police have been instituted against four men in connection with the incident referred to in the Question. While these proceedings are pending it is undesirable that I should make a detailed statement in the matter, but I may observe that I have no information either about the politics or the personal character and general demeanour of the persons accused.

Untenanted Lands In Cork County

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord - Lieutenant of Ireland if his attention has been called to the details of the latest Return of un tenanted lands in Ireland; whether the Estates Commissioners are aware that amongst other owners of large parcels of land now untenanted, an examination of the Returns show that in the county of Cork Sir John W. Beecher, in the electoral division of Roskeen, holds approximately 1,030 acres, Lord Castletown, division of Doneraile, 1,060 acres, Major Aldworth, division of Newmarket, 860 acres, Mr. Wm, N. Leader, Rosnalee division, 1,940 acres, Mr. Thomas Clarke, Aglesh division, 1,058 acres, Sir Augustus Warren, Warrenscourt division, 612 acres; and whether, in view of the claim of numerous evicted tenants in the localities, and the facilities afforded by the provisions of this year's Labourers Act for the acquisition of suitable economic holdings by deserving agricultural labourers, the Estates Commissioners will instruct their inspectors to communicate with these and other owners with the least possible delay in order to carry into practical effect the intention of Parliament.

The Estates Com missioners inform me that they have communicated with two out of the six owners mentioned in the Question, but their agents have replied that the lands are not for sale. In two of the cases originating applications for sale had already been lodged, and there was therefore no necessity to approach the owner. In the two remaining cases the property appears to comprise mansion houses and lands, and the Commissioners have not approached the owners.

Irish Butter Trade

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that frequent representations have been made in the interest of the export trade in Irish butter, to the effect that a system of grading should be introduced such as is carried out by New Zealand and Denmark; and whether the Irish Department of Agriculture will now adopt this system, in view of the fact that the export of Irish butter amounts annually to a value of nearly £5,000,000, and that a system of grading would considerably increase its value.

The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction have received representations to the effect mentioned, and the matter has engaged their attention for some time past. The Department are not satisfied that the arguments in favour of the proposal are such as would warrant them in embarking on the necessarily large expenditure which would be entailed by an experiment in the grading of butter, the success of which would be very doubtful.

Royal Irish Constabulary-Belfast Inquiry

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state the result of the recent Commission of Inquiry which sat in Belfast in connection with the Royal Irish Constabulary; what was the cost incurred; and what changes, if any, are to take place as the result of this inquiry.

The result of the inquiry was to show that there were no important or substantial grounds for dissatisfaction in connection with the organisation and discipline of the Belfast Police Force, but it cleared up several matters as to which an inquiry had become necessary. I am informed by the Treasury that the cost of the inquiry was £517. As respects changes to be made, that matter is still under consideration, and I shall not be in a position to give a definite Answer to the concluding part of the Question until I have had an opportunity of consulting the Inspector-General with reference especially to the organisation of the detective force.

Culmore National School Teacher

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state on what grounds and by whose authority has Mr. H. R. Gilmore, principal teacher of Culmore national school, been dismissed; and whether, seeing that Gilmore has been a successful teacher and a man of unblemished character, he will take stops to have the dismissal of this teacher thoroughly investigated.

The Commissioners of National Education inform me that Mr. Gilmore was served by Dr. Sproule, the manager of the school, with three months notice of dismissal in accordance with the terms of the agreement executed between the parties. The Commissioners, however, understand that the notice of dismissal has since been withdrawn.

Untenanted Lands Return

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Return of untenanted lands in rural districts in Ireland recently issued is misleading, inasmuch as the demesne lands are not sufficiently indicated; whether he is aware that in many cases the demesne lands cover several townlands, whereas in the Return the mansion house is mentioned only in connection with the townland in which it happens to be situated; whether in some cases lands farmed by owners are returned as unoccupied; and whether he will have the Return re-issued in a corrected form.

If the hon. Member will refer to the Return in question he will see that it has been prepared in the precise form in which it was ordered by this House. It is no doubt the fact that in some cases a demesne covers more than one townland. The Return, how-over, shows all mansion houses in the particular townlands in which they are situate, thus following the requirement of the order. In no cases are lands returned as unoccupied, There does not appear to be any reason for amending the Return.

asked the right hon. Gentleman to inquire into the case of the county of Armagh.

promised to convey any information supplied him by the hon. Member to the authorities concerned.

Cavan Evicted Tenants

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if applications for reinstatement have been received by the Estates Commissioners on behalf of Mrs. Rose Moore and Mrs. M'Sherry on the estate of George Stewart Smith; county Cavan; are the holdings of these evicted tenants in possession of a grabber, and, if so, what is the name; and will he state what steps have been taken to effect the restoration of these evicted tenants.

The Estates Commissioners inform me that they have received an application for reinstatement from Mrs. Moore, and have referred it to their inspector for inquiry and report. Mrs. Moore's former holding is stated to be in the occupation of Charles McLean. The Commissioners do not appear to have received an application for reinstatement from Mrs. M'Sherry.

Kenmare Postal Arrangements

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a letter addressed in Irish and posted in Killorglin on the morning of the 10th November was not delivered in Kenmare until the 13th November; whether, in view of the fact that these two towns are in the same county, he can explain the reason of the delay; and whether steps will be taken to prevent it occurring in the future.

I find that, in consequence of pressure of work at Killorglin, the letter to which the hon. Member refers was forwarded from that office with the address untranslated. The address could not be read at the intermediate office, and the letter had therefore to be sent to Dublin, where, as Sunday intervened, it could not be dealt with until the Monday morning. Its subsequent delivery was in due course of post. I cannot undertake that no delay will be caused if letters are addressed in Irish.

Lodger Franchise

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, considering the uncertainty and confusion caused by the varying decisions of revising barristers with respect to the lodger franchise, and the extension of the effects of that franchise under recent interpretations of the Courts, the Government will consider the desirability of taking steps next session to ensure greater uniformity and certainty in the regulation of this branch of registration.

THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
(Sir H. CAMP-BELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)

The President of the Local Government Board issued circulars in April last with, a view of securing that effect should be given to the decision of the Court in the case of Kent v. Fittall, which is, I presume, one of the decisions referred to in the Question. I gather, however, that my hon. friend desires that the matter should be dealt with in a way which could only be effected by means of legislation. I may tell him that the Government are fully alive to the importance of the question, which is under consideration at the present moment; but he must not press me to give a promise of legislation next session.

Mr Bucknill's Report

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a town's meeting held at Johannesburg on Friday, 23rd November, convened by the mayor to press for the publication of Mr. Bucknill's Report and evidence; and whether, in view of the expressed desire by responsible and influential citizens of Johannesburg, including several clergymen, to be acquainted with the true facts as to the moral condition of the Chinese coolies in the compounds, the Government will reconsider their previous decision and will allow the Report and evidence to be cither published or made accessible both here and in Johannesburg to responsible people wishing to see it.

I have seen the account of this meeting. His Majesty's Government are not prepared to reconsider their decision in consequence of this meeting. Only short telegraphic accounts of the discussion, which took place in Parliament on 15th November, have as yet reached South Africa, and the Colonists are therefore not yet in possession of the full statement of the position of His Majesty's Government and of the reasons which have actuated them.

I beg to ask the Prime Minister why the Government have determined that no inquiries shall be made as to the source from which certain newspapers obtained extracts from a confidential official document dealing with crime among Chinese coolies in South Africa.

; I thought that in the profession of which the hon. Member is a distinguished member there was some maxim under which judges are supposed to act which warned them against giving reasons for their judgments. I propose to apply this maxim now. Confidential matters do, in spite of all precautions, from time to time leak out; and I cannot see my way to propose that the police should be called in whenever such regrettable occurrences take place.

Royal Patrotic Fund—Case Of Mrs Anne Kerry

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that of the million and a half of money subscribed by the public for the widows and children of soldiers killed in the Crimean War, a large balance remains undistributed, and that nevertheless widows entitled to this bounty are being cast into the workhouse to die; whether he is aware that Mrs. Anne Kerry, whose husband was killed at Inkerman, is now in Loughrea workhouse, her pension from the Royal Patriotic Fund taken from her; that she is very aged and very infirm; and whether he will take steps by legislation or otherwise to enable the nation to fulfil its trust, and to surround this lady in her declining days with such comforts as are her due.

I am informed that the facts are not as might be inferred from the terms of the Question. So far from the balance being undistributed, as suggested by my hon. friend, the expenditure in annuities to the widows amounted to £14,087 in 1905, while the income for that year was only £4,607. It therefore follows that the balance of the Crimean War fund is being distributed at such a rate as involves its diminution yearly by thousands of pounds, while there remain on the Fund 565 beneficiaries in enjoyment of annuities from the Fund as at 31st December, 1905. I am also informed that no widow has, by the action of the Patriotic Fund authorities, been "cast," as stated by my hon. friend, "into the workhouse." The circumstances under which Mrs. Anne Kerry, referred to in the hon. Member's Question, is now in the Loughrea workhouse, were stated to the House in an answer to a Question put by the hon. Member for South Galway to the Secretary of State for War on 19th November.†

asked whether the fund spoken of was being received for people who were fast disappearing, and whether it was not for the class to which this lady belonged that the money was subscribed.

This old lady—I remember the nature of the Answer given to the hon. Member opposite—was taken to the workhouse at the request of her son. At that time she was receiving 10s. a week from the Fund, but her son considered she would be better off in the workhouse infirmary, and she being there maintained from the rates, the 10s. was not continued, but if she came out of the workhouse the 10s. a week would be resumed.

Arising out of the reply given by the Prime Minister, I wish to correct him—

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It may save time if I suggest to the hon. Member that he should address his Question to the proper authority in the House who gave him his previous Answer if he is not satisfied with the Answer I have given; I am only speaking from memory.

If the proper authority is present, and I believe he is—I will put the Question to him. Is the proper

† See (4) Debates, clxv., 375.
authority aware that this old lady was sent to the Loughrea workhouse upon the express recommendation of the medical officer, and apart from the humiliation to this lady, whose husband was killed at Inkerman, by being placed on the poor rates, will he make a continuance of the grant of a few paltry shillings to brighten the evening of her days, even in an Irish workhouse?

No, sir, the proper authority is not aware. The War office has no control whatever over the Royal Patriotic Fund or any similar funds, and has no means for making provision for such cases as that to which the hon. Member has referred.

Are we to understand that the Government can do nothing for this old lady?

asked whether it was not the fact that this old lady received the allowance for years, the last payment being made of £6 10s. on 1st July for the ensuing quarter, that she entered the workhouse in the beginning of July, and that the payment would be resumed immediately she was removed therefrom.

said that was so, and she was in the workhouse at the request of her son.

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Care Of The Feeble-Minded

I beg to ask the Prime Minister when the interim Report of the Royal Commission on the Feeble-minded will be published.

I have made inquiries of the Commission, but I find that they have no information to make public. My hon. friend understands, of course, that the Government have no control whatever over the proceedings of Royal Commissions.