House Of Commons
Thursday, 8th August, 1907.
The House met at a quarter before Three of the Clock.
Private Bill Business
Llandrindod Wells Gas Bill; London County Council (Money) Bill. Lords' Amendments considered, and agreed to.
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty Bill [Lords]. Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.
Kilmarnock Corporation Water Order Confirmation Bill. "To confirm a Provisional Order under The Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Kilmarnock Corporation Water," presented by Mr. Sinclair, and ordered, under Section 7 of the Act, to be considered upon Monday next.
Message Prom The Lords
That they have agreed to:—Finance Bill, without Amendment; Married Women's Property Bill; Leith Burgh Order Confirmation Bill, with Amendments.
Amendments to:—Birkenhead Corporation Water Bill [Lords], without Amendment.
That they have passed a Bill, intituled, "An Act to amend sections fifty-seven, fifty-eight, and fifty-nine of The Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, relating to the prevention of infectious diseases." [Public Health (Scotland) Amendment Bill [Lords.]
Leith Burgh Order Confirmation Bill. Lords' Amendments to be considered to-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 303.]
Marriage With A Deceased Wife's Sister Bill
Petition from Newferry, against; to lie upon the Table.
Returns, Reports, Etc
Pharmacy (Ireland) Acts, 1875 To 1890
Copy presented, of Order in Council, dated 6th of August, 1907, approving of a Regulation made by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.
Aliens Act, 1905
Copy presented, of Return of Alien Passengers brought to the United Kingdom from Ports in Europe or within the Medterranean Sea during the three months ending 30th June, 1907; together with the number of Expulsion Orders made during that period requiring Aliens to leave the United Kingdom [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Colonial Reports (Annual)
Copy presented, of Colonial Report, No. 534 (Gold Coast, Annual Report for 190(5) [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Board Of Agriculture And Fisheries
Copy presented, of Annual Report of Proceedings under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts, etc., for he year 1906 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Copy presented, of Second Report of the Meteorological Committee to the Lords' Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, for the year ending 31st March, 1907 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Permanent Charges Commutation
Copy presented, of Return of Permanent Charges on the Consolidated Fund or Votes of Parliament which have been redeemed in the period from 6th August, 1905, to 6th August, 1907 [by Act]; to He upon the Table.
Trade Reports (Annual Series)
Copy presented, of Diplomatic and Consular Report, Annual Series, No. 3888 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Paper Laid Upon The Table By The Clerk Of The House
County Court Rules.—Copy of County Court Rules, dated 31st July, 1907, with Explanatory Memorandum [by Act].
Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes
London Non-Provided Schools
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that with regard to very many non-provided schools the London County Council has authorised the indefinite postponement of many structural improvements which were decided by the Council, after careful survey, to be necessary, and against the reasonableness and necessity of which no appeal has been made by the managers to the Board of Education; and whether he will direct the inspectors of the Board of Education to pay special attention to the structural condition of these schools. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) No, Sir, my attention has not been drawn to the matter in question, and I have no information as to what schools are referred to. It is one of the duties of His Majesty's inspectors to pay attention to the structural condition of all schools inspected by them and to report to the Board as to the particular cases where repairs or improvements are required.
Mortgaging Trust Property
To ask the President of the Board of Education in how many cases since 1903 have the Board of Education or Charity Commissioners sanctioned the mortgaging of trust property for the repair or improvement of non-provided elementary schools, and what is the aggregate amount of such mortgages; and in how many cases have the Board sanctioned the application of the capital fund of an endowment for such purposes and the total amount of money so applied, giving the figures separately for London and for the rest of the country, and distinguishing between the different religious denominations.
( Answered by Mr. McKenna.)—
I.—The number of cases in which the Board of Education have authorised Loans on the security of the School Buildings of Non-Provided Elementary Schools, for structural improvements or repairs, since 1st January, 1903; and
II.—The number of cases in which the Board have expressed their willingness to authorise such Loans, but in which the authority has not been formally sealed;
with the aggregate amount of such Loans, distinguishing between Schools
situated in the area of the London County Council and those in the rest of England
|Church of England||—||—||10||7,500|
|(B) Rest of England and Wales:|
|Church of England||8||10,870||6*||2,150|
* This number includes one case in which the amount of the proposed loan is not yet settled.
In order to supply the particulars referred to in the second part of my hon. friend's Question with respect to the expenditure of capital funds of endowments, it would be necessary to examine in detail a very large number of orders and schemes made by the Board in the ordinary routine of their administration under the Charitable Trusts Acts, and I am of opinion that the labour involved in such a task would not be commensurate with any public advantage to be derived from it.
To ask the Postmaster-General could he give
and Wales, and between Schools of various denominations.
the names of the companies to whom payments are at present made for the conveyance of mails to British Possessions and other countries; the amount in each case of such payments and the period for which they are payable; the route by which such mails are in each case carried; and the terminal ports.
( Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) Most of the information asked for by the hon. Member is given in Appendix D of the Postmaster-General's Annual Report. I am sending him a statement giving him additional information on the subject.
Shrewsbury Assistant Inspectorship Of Telegraph Messengers
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a number of postmen at Shrewsbury have been denied opportunities of proving their qualifications for the post of assistant inspector of telegraph messengers in favour of a junior man; and whether he will see that the senior men at Shrewsbury are granted opportunities of showing their fitness for the post before filling up the appointment. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) No junior officer will be selected until all those of his seniors who are likely to be among the best qualified have been granted due opportunities of trial. To test all the senior officers would not only create much delay, but probably prejudice the interests of the service.
Princes Risborough Rural Postman
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that Mr. Baker, of Princes Risborough, is only paid 4d. an hour as an auxiliary postman, although the regulations state that 4½d. per hour is the proper rate for auxiliaries in places where established men rise to a maximum of £1 a week as at Princes Risborough; whether he is aware that an application for proper payment has been rejected; and whether he will take steps to see that Mr. Baker receives the pay due to him. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The regulations admit of payment at the rate of 4d. per hour for rural auxiliary duties at offices where established men rise to a maximum of £1 a week. I will inquire whether the circumstances justify any increase in Mr. Baker's wage.
Isle Royale, Lake Superior
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British flag has been hoisted upon Isle Royale, Lake Superior; and, if so, was this done by the instructions or with the approval of His Majesty's Government. (Answered by Mr. Churchill.) The Secretary of State has received no information as to the reported hoisting of the British flag upon Isle Royale. Inquiry will be made.
Transvaal Legislative Assembly
To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information as to the Bills introduced or read a second time in the Legislative Assembly of the Transvaal on Tuesday last, and especially in respect of the Bill first published in an extraordinary Government Gazette of Saturday 3rd August, abolishing the access of natives to the courts of law in respect of decisions administratively taken by which individual natives or whole tribe s can be transferred against their will from one district to another; and whether any Papers on the subject can be presented to Parliament in advance of the earliest possible occasion on which such measure might become law.
To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can state what is the nature of the Draft Bill, published by the Transvaal Government, dealing with jurisdiction among natives; and whether this measure proposes to deprive the natives of any civil rights such as access to the Courts of Law. (Answered by Mr. Churchill.) The Secretary of State has no information beyond what has appeared in the Press, but telegraphic inquiry is being made as to the Bill, which appears to be of such a nature as to require it to be reserved for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether the telegraph poles used in the Post Office service in Ireland are imported from Sweden and Russia into England; whether they are creosoted in England and then sent on to Ireland; and, if so, will he explain why they are not imported direct into Ireland and creosoted there instead of in England. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The poles come at present from. Norway, Sweden, and Russia, otherwise the facts are as stated by the hon. Member. I do not know whether the two creosoting firms in Ireland, one in Dublin and one in Belfast, would be able to undertake the work of creosoting telegraph poles, but they will have an opportunity of tendering when tenders are invited later in the year.
Irish Post Office Service
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he will state, for the five financial years ended 1906–7, the total expenditure for each year on each of the various kinds of stores, including clerical work, housing accommodation, fire and light, stationery, and all other incidentals in connection therewith, required for the Irish Post Office service and the proportion of these amounts expended in Ireland. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The kinds of stores in use are many thousands in number, and the great expense which would be involved in such an inquiry as my hon. friend desires would not be justified.
Irish Post Office Stores
To ask the Postmaster-General whether an estimate is prepared for each financial year showing an approximation of the various store requirements for the Post Office service in Ireland; and, if so, will he explain why manufacturers are required to tender for the delivery of Irish supplies in London instead of in Dublin. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) A separate estimate is prepared for Ireland. Manufacturers are required to tender for delivery in Ireland in the case of uniform clothing, head dresses, parcel baskets, and other stores. But in the case of certain articles the proportion required for use in Ireland is so small that this course is not practicable.
Scottish Sheep Stocks
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the Law Officers have yet given their opinion on the valuation of sheep stocks in Scotland under the Agricultural Act, 1906; and, if so, will the Government make known the result. (Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative; and, with regard to the second part, I understand that it is contrary to the usual practice to publish opinions of the Law Officers of the Grown.
Kew Gardens Stalls
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been directed to the fact that another private contractor has been allowed to establish himself in Kew Gardens, and that at several of the entrances this contractor has erected stalls covered with guides, postcards, etc., displayed in such a way as to be eyesores; and whether he will give instructions for these erections to be removed and the profits on the sales of guides, etc., reserved entirely for the taxpayers who maintain the gardens. (Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The right to sell guide books, postcards, etc., at Kew Gardens has been entrusted to a private firm in order to relieve the constables of a task which interfered with the performance of their proper duties. The firm in question pay an annual rent for the privilege, and in addition they have borne the cost of erecting one permanent and one movable kiosk. No complaint has hitherto been made of their appearance, and my noble friend does not propose to alter the present arrangement, which has been made in the interests of the general public as well as with the object of increasing the efficiency of the garden staff.
Derbyshire Pupil Teachers Grant
To ask the Secretary to the Board of Education whether the grant payable to local education authorities in respect of the training of pupil teachers, which was due on 31st July, 1906, has been paid to the local education authority for Derbyshire; if so, at what date it was paid; and whether the local authority is unable to distribute this grant pending the receipt of particulars from the Board. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) Claims for grant for 1905–6 were received from the local education authority during the period from the 3rd October, 1906, to 14th January, 1907. Payments to the authority to the amount of £2,386 5s. have been made on various dates from 5th February to 24th July last. Grants to the amount of about £240 are still under consideration, and can probably be paid shortly. Delay in the payment of grants has been caused by the correspondence which has been necessary on many items incorrectly entered in the forms of claim, and on not infrequent cases of failure to comply with the regulations. With regard to the last part of the Question, the local education authority has been informed, whenever part or all of the grant has been withheld, of the name of the pupil teacher on whom disallowance or deduction has been made and of the reasons for it. On the 2nd instant the authority forwarded a list of pupil teachers on whom grant was claimed for 1905–6, and asked that the grant paid on each might be entered. As considerable clerical work is involved in comparing the authority's list with those in the office, and in preparing and checking the information required, the matter has not yet been dealt with.
Metropolitan Police Commission
To ask the Secretary for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the Proceedings of the Royal Commission on the Metropolitan police, when an ex-police constable named George Deed confessed upon oath that, at the previous sitting of the Commission, he had deliberately perjured himself; whether this witness was severely reprimanded by the Chairman, who told him that he had placed himself in a very serious position indeed, and that it would be the duty of the Commission to consider whether any action ought or ought not to be taken against him; and whether the Police Commissioner, in the interests of the police force, will prosecute this man. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) I find on inquiry that the facts are as stated in the Question. The Chairman of the Commission said to Deed, "I have to tell you that you have placed yourself in a very serious position indeed, and it will be the duty of this Commission to consider whether any action ought or not to be taken against you." The matter is at present entirely in the hands of the Royal Commission. If they should recommend that any action should be taken, I need not say it shall receive serious attention from the Government; Deed was dismissed from the Metropolitan police force nearly four years ago.
Railway Conveyance Of Milk In Ireland
To ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he will inquire into the railway system for carrying milk, seeing that the railway van is at present the only means by which long-distant milk can be conveyed from the producer to the public; whether he is aware that in some cases the van is dirty and ill-ventilated and that along with the milk are carried hides, carcasses of meat, and live fowls; and whether he will use his influence with the railway companies to have milk carried in pure milk vans. (Answered by Mr. T. W. Russell.) If by "railway van" is meant the guard's van, the Department are not aware that this is the only kind of vehicle by which milk is conveyed over long distances. The transit inspectors of the Department have instructions to report any cases which come under their notice of milk being carried in dirty vehicles or with articles likely to taint it, and in any such reported cases the matter is taken up with the carrying company concerned. If specific instances are brought under the notice of the Department they will have full inquiry made.
To ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he will inquire into the carriage of milk, which in some cases is 100 per cent. higher than the owner's risk rate; and whether, seeing that the conditions attached to the owner's risk rate mean that the railway company are not responsible for damage done to milk or cans, unless it can be proved that the company's servants, through wilful misconduct, have caused the injury, he will take action to protect farmers from such damage. (Answered by Mr. T. W. Russell.) The Department are not aware that rates 100 per cent. over the owner's risk rates are charged for the conveyance of milk on Irish railways, but if instances are furnished in which the charges are considered excessive the Department will have inquiry made. The question of damage to goods forwarded at owner's risk is a general one, affecting many descriptions of traffic, but if any specific instances of damage to milk conveyed at owner's risk are furnished to the Department full inquiry will be made.
Proficiency Pay In India
To ask the Secretary of State for India whether, under the new system of proficiency pay, men serving in India who have re-engaged for twelve months, in consideration of receiving 6d. a day extra pay, are liable to lose 2½d. a day in the event of their being classed as second-class shots, although no such deduction was contemplated or agreed to at the time of signing on; and whether, in view of the fact that this deduction may be regarded as a breach of contract, he can amend the order regarding proficiency pay. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) The conditions upon which men serving in India have agreed to extend their service include neither a promise of extra pay nor a guarantee against the reduction of proficiency pay from 6d. to 3d. a day in the case of a man who ceases to qualify as a first-class shot. This reduction takes place also under War Office regulations, and was not introduced with the new system, a similar reduction having been made in service pay, in similar circumstances, under the old rules.
Exchequer Grants For Labourers Cottages In Ireland
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will state the amount allocated to each county of Ireland from the Exchequer contribution for labourers' cottages for the years ending 31st March, 1006 and 1907 respectively. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The particulars in respect of the financial year 1905–6 are contained in the Annual Report of the Local Government Board for that year. The Report for 1906–7, which will shortly be issued, will contain the figures for that financial year.
Scartaglen Evicted Tenant
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if the Estates Commissioners have received an application from Mr. Tangney, of Scartaglen, county Kerry, as an evicted tenant; and if they have taken any steps in connection therewith. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have received an application from John Tangney, and have ascertained that the applicant was evicted in 1893, was reinstated in 1899, and in 1902 purchased his holding under the older Land Purchase Acts. The Commissioners cannot make a grant to Tangney, which is apparently what he wants.
Headley Estate, Kerry
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners are aware of the manner in which Mr. Ned Pembroke of Castleisland, county Kerry, is being treated in connection with the sale of the Headley estate; and whether they will take steps that he may be allowed to purchase his holding on the estate. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have received a communication from Mr. Pembroke, which will be considered when the estate in question comes before them. Up to the present no proceedings for the sale of the estate have been instituted before the Commissioners.
Civil Governor Of Malta
To ask the Prime Minister if he is in a position to make an announcement as to the status and salary of the Civil Governor of Malta, and the relation between his department and that of the Commander-in-Chief. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The salary has not yet been settled. As to the rest of the Question, will the hon. Member kindly refer to my reply to a Question put to-day by my hon. friend the Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool?
Questions In The House
German Navy Bill
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether any official translation of the German Navy Bill, 1906, has been published in this country, and whether he can arrange for a copy of the Gorman Naval Estimates to be placed in the library for the use of Members.
So far as I can ascertain no translation of the German Navy Bill has been published. As regards the second Question, it is not usual for the Admiralty to present to the library anything except their own publications.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty on how many days sea training has been given to the Home Fleet in the last six months; and on how many nights the Home Fleet has been at sea for training during the same period.
The information asked for is not available at the Admiralty. An accurate Answer would involve calling for a return from each of the 240 vessels of the Home Fleet, to which I am not prepared to assent.
The Press And The Spithead Review
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, seeing that one of His Majesty's ships was placed at the disposal of gentlemen of the Press at the recent Spithead review, he will say if the cost incurred was defrayed out of public money.
Press representatives having requested facilities they were granted, and the cost (about £25) will be defrayed out of public funds.
Members And Naval Reviews
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he will say why no facilities were given to Members of this House to attend, at their own expense, the naval review at Spithead on 3rd August; whether he is aware that the Secretary of State for War has given every facility to Members to attend military manœuvres; and will he say the reasons why the First Lord has not followed this practice.
No indication reached the Admiralty of any general desire on the part of Members to attend the review. Had any such desire been expressed it would certainly have been complied with.
In the case of future reviews are hon. Members to go to the Admiralty and state their desire to go to the review? Is there any precedent for giving facilities to the Press when they are not given to Members of the House?
I had not the slightest idea that there was any desire on the part of hon. Members to go to the review. If any such desire had been expressed it would most certainly have been complied with.
At least twenty Members spoke to me on the subject.
The only Member who spoke to me about it was the hon. Member himself, and that at the last moment, and I did my best to give him facilities.
New Military Command In The Mediterranean
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the proposal to create a Mediterranean command, with headquarters at Malta, is to be carried into effect; and, if so, when.
His Majesty's Government have decided to create a new command in the Mediterranean with headquarters at Malta, and I should like to take this opportunity of making an announcement as to the future arrangements for the conduct of civil and military affairs in the Mediterranean. The King has approved of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught being appointed thereto as Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief and High Commissioner in the Mediterranean. The force under His Royal Highness's command will comprise the garrisons of Gibraltar and Malta, the detachments in Crete and Cyprus, and the British troops quartered in Egpyt and the Sudan. As all matters of local military administration, except the more important cases of discipline, will continue to be disposed of by the Governors of Gibraltar and Malta, and the General Officer Commanding in I Egypt, His Royal Highness will be able to devote his attention to inspection and training, and to the consideration of questions of strategy and defence within the limits of his command. For the Colonial administration of Gibraltar and Malta the respective Governors will remain solely responsible; and similarly in Egypt and the Sudan all civil and political matters will be dealt with as heretofore by the Agent and Consul-General in Egypt, to whom the Governor-General of the Sudan and Sirdar will continue to be responsible for the administration of the Sudan and of the Egyptian and Sudanese forces. In regard to questions of policy which involve military considerations the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief and High Commissioner will be consulted by the representatives of the Foreign and Colonial Offices before they lay their views on such questions before their respective Departments. I may add that the creation of this new command will cause no increase of expenditure. The date on which His Royal Highness will take up his command has not yet been definitely fixed.
Military Bands At Political Gatherings
asked the Secretary for War if he was aware that the band of the Berks Imperial Yeomanry was advertised to perform at a political demonstration on Saturday, and had the consent of the War Office been obtained, or what action was it proposed to take.
replied that he was inquiring into the matter.
Typhoid Fever At Bulford Camp
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he can state how many outbreaks of typhoid fever have occurred at Bulford Camp, and at what intervals; how many cases have resulted fatally; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the lives of officers and men from the grave risks to which they are exposed.
Since 1900 there have been sixteen cases of enteric fever among the regular troops at Bulford—two in 1903, three in 1904, three in 1905, and eight in June, 1907. None of these cases were fatal. As regards the Auxiliary Forces, of whom 45,000 were camped at Bulford in 1906, there were nine cases in the Honourable Artillery Company, of which it is understood two proved fatal. Full investigations were carried out by specialist sanitary officers into the outbreaks of 1904, 1906, and 1907, and though no definite cause for the origin of the disease could be traced, in each instance the available evidence pointed to the introduction of the infection from without and not to any sanitary defects within the camp area. The medical and sanitary arrangements of the camp are supervised by the Principal Medical Officer of the Southern Command and the Administrative Medical Officer, Tidworth District, who have the assistance of a specially qualified sanitary officer in dealing with the prevention of infectious disease among the troops.
Lichfield Camp Palliasse Contracts
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Mr. Mace, of Liverpool, obtained the contract for the supply of palliasse straw to the camps at Lichfield, which contract he arranged was to be carried out for him by Mr. W. H. Bowering, of Lichfield, and, on the latter inquiring from Captain Coulson, in command of the Army Service Corps at Lichfield, was told by him that the approximate quantity required would be 60 tons; whether he is aware that the camps only took 18½ tons, thus involving the contractor in loss, and that, on Mr. Bowering inquiring the reason for the diminished quantity required, one of the quartermasters informed him that they never did draw all that was allowed, but requisitions for the balance could be had for a consideration, such consideration being that the price of the straw undelivered was divided between the contractor and the quartermaster; if he can inform the House what was the name and corps of the quartermaster referred to; and what steps are being taken to inquire into the matter and to protect the public and contractors from being victimised by officers in the Army whose duties involve the ordering, passing, and receiving of supplies.
There is no information in the War Office concerning the alleged transaction. The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief will be asked to forward a report on the matter.
Transvaal Labour Commission Inquiry
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if any statement will be made before the recess as to the report of the Commission appointed by the Transvaal Government to inquire into the question of the supply of labour; and if he can give the names of the Commissioners who are conducting the inquiry.
The members of the Commission are Messrs. Stockenstroom, Member of the Legislative Assembly (Chairman), Whiteside, Cress-well, Francke, and Spencer. I have no information as to when its report is expected to be forthcoming.
British Indian Merchants And Johannesburg Tramcars
I beg to auk the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Johannesburg Town Council has made certain by-laws prohibiting the use by British Indian merchants and others of certain municipal tramcars; whether His Majesty's Government was previously consulted; and whether the powers of the Johannesburg Town Council exceed those of the Transvaal Legislature which, under the Constitution, is required to reserve all such differential legislation for His Majesty's approval.
The Johannesburg Town Council has made by-laws to the effect mentioned by the hon. Member. His Majesty's Government were not previously consulted. The town council derives its powers to make such by-laws from legislation passed by the Transvaal Legislature prior to the issue of the Letters Patent conferring responsible government on the Colony. The powers of the municipality are derived from a statute which it is of course within the competence of the Transvaal Legislature to vary.
British Indians In The Transvaal
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Indian subjects resident in the Transvaal are still denied the right to hold fixed property; and whether, under the new Registration Act, law-abiding educated Indians will be compelled to carry passes, which they may be called upon by any policeman at any time to produce.
The Answer to the first part of the Questionis in the affirmative; under the Asiatic Law Amendment Act holders of registration certificates under that Act are required to produce them to any policeman on demand.
French Contraband Trade With The New Hebrides
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received further complaints from missionaries in the New Hebrides and Australian traders with the islands of the continued importation by French ships of contraband; whether the French Government have any means of preventing this traffic; and whether he will endeavour to hasten negotiations with the French Government with a view to stopping it at the earliest possible moment in the interests alike of the natives and of British traders.
No recent complaints have been received from missionaries or Australian traders, but a representation has been received from the Australian Government. His Majesty's Government are in communication with the French Government on the question of the prohibition of the sale of liquor, etc., to natives of the islands, and hope for a favourable reply shortly. They trust that, in any case, the provisions as to the sale of arms, liquor, etc., will be brought into force within the next few months. They have no information as to what means the French Government may have meanwhile of preventing the traffic.
Great Britain And Russia
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is yet in a position to make a statement with respect to the terms of the agreement between His Majesty's Government and the Russian Government.
The Answer is in the negative. I am unable to make any further statement.
Turkey And Persia
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information respecting an incursion of Turkish troops into Persian territory; and whether any appeal has been made by the Persian Government to His Majesty's Government for assistance.
May I also ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to give the House in regard to the alleged violation of Persian territory by Turkish troops, and the massacre at Mavaneh of eighteen men and sixty women and children, mostly Christians.
His Majesty's Government have been informed by the Persian Government that a force of Turkish troops with guns have crossed into Persian territory near Urmia, have killed some villagers, and are inciting the Kurds to rebel. At the request of the Persian Government, His Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople has been instructed to make representations on the subject to the Turkish Government in the interest of peace.
Post Office Savings Bank Assets
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state what was the proportion per cent. of liquid or marketable assets to the whole of the assets held by the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt on account of the Post Office Savings Bank in each year from 1861 to 1906 inclusive.
The distinction suggested is one of degree, and it is therefore to a large extent a matter of opinion; and, in any case, the proportion of liquid or marketable securities to the whole of the assets held for the Post Office Savings Bank could not be given, without making a valuation of those securities. As I have recently explained, no such valuation has been given since 1902, when it was discontinued on the passing of the Act 4 Edw. VII., cap. 8. I may add, however, that till that date a statement showing the assets of the Post Office Savings Bank Fund, with a valuation thereof, was given in the Annual Reports of the Postmaster-General.
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider the present position financially sound?
Yes, with the Consolidated Fund as the security.
Export Duty On Coal
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, seeing that the present inflated prices of coal are injurious to the industries of this country and inflict hardship on small consumers, he will consider the desirability of appointing a Committee to inquire and report whether an export duty on coal could be imposed without injury to the best interests of the trade after the price of coal reaches a point which gives a fair return to the colliery owner on his capital and to the miner for his labour.
The question of an export duty on coal in all its bearings has received very full consideration by three successive Parliaments, as well as by His Majesty's present advisers and their predecessors in office; it was also dealt with by the recent Royal Commission on coal supplies in their Report, and I do not think that an inquiry such as is suggested would add anything to the information already available on the subject generally or with regard to the probable economic effects of the expedient proposed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of coal at Cardiff is now 21s., as compared with 14s. a few years since? Does he realise the hardship thus caused to the general community?
I dare say the figures are as stated.
Life-Saving Apparatus In French Coal Mines
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been directed to the fact that the French Minister of Public Works has recently signed a decree ordering that every coal mine employing 100 men underground at the same time must be provided with a portable respiratory apparatus, ready for immediate use and enabling a miner to remain at least one hour in an irrespirable atmosphere, and that the number of such appliances must be not less than two for each pit, placed in charge of an engineer or inspector familiar with their working, and provided with ten picked men, trained in the use of the apparatus and ready to be sent to the seat of danger immediately the necessity arises; and whether he can see his way to insist upon similar precautions being observed in British coal mines.
This matter was referred by me some time ago to the Royal Commission on Mines which is now sitting. As the hon. Member is doubtless aware, a Report has already been presented by the Royal Commission on the question of the use of rescue apparatus. The Com-mission did not feel justified in recommending that the provision of rescue apparatus should at the present time be made compulsory. They made, however, certain proposals for the establishment of central rescue stations, etc., and I am communicating with the owners with a view to their taking action.
Will the Commission report this session?
They may possibly make an interim Report. But they cannot finally report.
Wages And The Price Of Commodities
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the statement appearing in the last Consular Report from the United States that the average increase of wages during the last ten years has been 20 per cent., but the increase in the price of commodities has been 40 per cent., and that the cost of living of many has, in consequence, gone beyond their means of obtaining income; and whether he has any official information confirming these statements.
I have seen the statement referred to. The information in the possession of the Board of Trade leads them to believe that the prices of necessaries in the United States have increased in late years in greater proportion than money wages. I doubt, however, whether the precise figures given in the statement afford altogether a fair comparison, since prices generally in the United States were abnormally low in 1897, the first year of the decennial period. Taking an average of the years 1895–9 and confining comparison to articles of food and clothing, the increase in prices would appear to be nearer 30 than 40 per cent.
asked whether these statistics corresponded with those issued from the Statistical Bureau at Washington. Personally, he thought they did not.
asked whether the Consular Report did not distinctly state that the figures were taken from the volume issued by the Statistical Bureau.
was understood to say that this was the latest information the Board of Trade had got. In reply to a further Question from Mr. C. E. PRICE,
said that the increased cost of the necessaries of life and clothing were out of proportion to the increase of wages.
Is it not the fact that the figures refer largely to luxuries and not to the necessaries of life—to imported articles not manufactured in the country?
No, Sir, they do not refer to imported articles largely luxuries. I would not call clothing a luxury.
British And Foreign Trade Statistics
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the usefulness to the public of Volume Cd. 1761, containing memoranda, statistical tables, and charts on British and Foreign Trade and industrial conditions, he will issue another and similar volume bringing the information contained therein up to date; and whether he will act in a similar manner as to the Return on the condition of trade and people moved for on 12th August, 1903.
The Board of Trade have in preparation Reports dealing with several of the matters referred to in the two Fiscal Blue Books, but it is not proposed at present to publish any volumes on precisely the same lines. A Return on the lines of that moved for on the 12th August, 1903, has already been ordered on the Motion of the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division and will, I understand, be issued in a few days.
Commercial Agents For The Colonies
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any British manufacturers, other than those who are members of the Consultative Committee of the Board of Trade, have at any time made any representations to him that British consular or commercial agents should be appointed to the self-governing Colonies?
Yes, Sir. Evidence in favour of such appointments was given on behalf of various Chambers of Commerce before the Departmental Committee on Commercial Intelligence of 1897–8. In addition we have recently received representations from certain British Chambers of Commerce and a Resolution from the last Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire.
Has the right hon. Gentleman received any definite information from any particular manufacturer that these Consular Reports are of use to him in his business?
We have received representations in the usual way from Chambers of Commerce, which I think fairly represent the trade interest of the country.
Danish Coal Imports
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the statement which appears in the last Consular Report from Denmark that the total imports of coal to that country in 1906 was 2,668,500 tons; in 1905, 2,375,500 tons; that the figures for imports of coals from Germany were not available for 1906, but that in 1905 this import was 101,460 tons, much the same as during the previous year; that the export duty having now been abolished in the United Kingdom this small import of coals from Germany will practically cease; and whether he has any official information confirming these statements?
The figures quoted by my hon. friend would appear to be approximately correct. As regards the probable effect on imports of coal into Denmark of the abolition of the export duty in the United Kingdom, I have no official information at present beyond what is contained in the Consular Report.
Board Of Trade Consultative Commercial Committee
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade who are the members of the Board of Trade Consultative Commercial Intelligence Committee; what manufacturing or trading firms do they represent; and by whom were they selected.
The twenty-five members of the Commercial Intelligence Committee include (besides myself as Chairman) seven officials representing the Board of Trade, Foreign Office, Colonial Office, and India Office; four representatives of the great self-governing Colonies—Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; and thirteen members appointed by the Board of Trade in consultation with the Association of Chambers of Commerce. The names of the members of the present Committee, and the districts and trades with which they are connected, will be printed with the Votes. [The following is the list of names referred to.] Lord Avebury—London, General and Financial Interests. Mr. F. Brittain—Ex-President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce (Iron and Steel Trades). Mr. T. Craig-Brown—South of Scotland Chamber of Commerce (Woollen and Worsted Trades). Sir William Holland—(a Member of this House)—Ex-President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce (Cotton Trades). Sir Albert Rollit—London Chamber of Commerce and Hull District (General Mercantile Interests). Sir F. Forbes Adam—Ex-President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce (Cotton Trades). Sir Hugh Bell—North Eastern Districts (Iron and Steel Trades). Mr. W. H. Mitchell—President of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce (Woollen and Worsted Trades). Mr. R. Thompson—Belfast Chamber of Commerce (Linen Trades). Mr. D. A. Thomas (a Member of this House) South Wales (Coal and Tinplate Trades). Mr. E. Parkes—(a Member of this House) Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (Miscellaneous Metal Trades). Mr. G. H. Cox—Liverpool Chamber of Commerce (General Mercantile business). There is also a vacancy occasioned I regret to say by the recent death of Mr. T. F. Blackwell (of the well known firm of Crosse and Blackwell, Ltd.), who represented the London Chamber of Commerce and the General Provision trades. I propose to fill this vacancy at an early date by the appointment of a further commercial representative.
Commercial Agents In Self-Governing Colonies
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade how many consular or commercial agents it is proposed to appoint to the self-governing Colonies; what salary it is proposed to pay to them; and on what Vote that salary will be placed.
These questions are still under consideration. The cost will, I presume, be a charge on the Vote for the Board of Trade.
Who will appoint these gentlemen?
They will be appointed by the Board of Trade in consultation with the Colonial Office.
asked whether it was intended that the information obtained would be confined to British manufacturers.
I think it will be treated exactly as the information we are getting at the present moment from our Consuls abroad. A good deal of that is confidential and is only given to our own manufacturers, but a good deal that is embodied in the Reports is open to the whole world.
How can you expect to obtain information from foreign countries if your own information is not available to them?
How is it possible to keep the information secret?
I think it is done very successfully at the present moment.
asked whether commercial agents were to be appointed for the Crown Colonies.
I think that will be considered later on if these appointments prove successful.
Are we to understand that these Consuls will be under the Board of Trade and not the Foreign Office?
was understood to reply in the affirmative.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that ex-military men are not given these posts?
I should say that those appointed should be business men.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the number of accidents to tramcars when descending hills; what is the position of the inquiry into the question of a satisfactory brake; and whether the promise that no further orders would be granted for tramways on steep gradients is being carried out.
My attention has been called to accidents of this character and inquiries have been ordered in two cases that occurred within the last week. Apart from the attention which the Board's inspecting officers are necessarily giving to the subject the whole question of braking appliances on tramways is being investigated by Committees of the Tramways and Light Railways Association and the Municipal Tramways Association, and, as I have already informed the House, the Board are prepared to assist these Committees in a conbined investigation at a later stage. I know of no such promise as that to which the hon. Member refers at the end of his Question.
In answer to a Question I put some months ago did not the right hon. Gentleman say that until a satisfactory brake had been adopted further provisional orders for tramcars on steep gradients would not be granted?
I do not remember, but if the hon Member can give me the date I will look into the matter.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any information in his Department with regard to Canadian Railways; whether any of the railways in Canada are owned and worked by the Government; and, if so, whether he can state how the profits earned on these Government railways compare with the profits earned on railways built and managed by companies.
The Canadian official documents show that there were 21,355 miles of railway open for traffic at the 30th June, 1906, and that of this total 1,713 miles were owned and controlled by the Government, viz, the Inter-Colonial and Prince Edward Island lines, besides the Windsor Branch line thirty-two miles long which is leased by them to a private company. The proportion of working expenses to receipts in the case of the 1,713 miles of lines controlled by the Government in the year 1905–6 appears to be over 99 per cent., and in the case of the 19,640 miles of lines controlled by private companies, which include the Canadian Pacific, Grand Trunk, and other lines, the proportion is about 67½ per cent. It will be obvious from the enumeration of the lines owned and the parts of the country served by the Government and private companies respectively that the comparison is not a fair one.
Is it not the fact that the Canadian State lines fail to pay because they follow the All-Red Route, the longest route, while private commercial companies have secured the shortest and best paying route?
[No Answer was returned.]
London Motor Bus Companies
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received from the shareholders' committee of the four Motor Bus Companies, Limited, promoted by the British Motor Bus Trust, any request that the affairs of these companies should be reported on by the Board of Trade; if he is aware that 8,000 shareholders, most of whom were clerks and working men, subscribed the capital of the four companies; and whether, seeing the difficulties of this class of small shareholders combining to take action, he will accede to the request of the shareholders' committee to hold this investigation.
Yes, Sir, I have received a request from the chairman of the shareholders' committee of the four Motor Bus Companies asking the Board of Trade to order an investigation into the doings of the directors in these companies. The Board of Trade have no such general powers of investigation and their powers are limited to the express powers conferred by Statute. Under Section 56 of the Companies Act, 1862, the Board of Trade have, under the circumstances there set out, power to appoint an inspector, and an investigation is made by the Official Receiver in the case of all companies ordered by the Court to be wound-up. I am not aware that most of the shareholders were as stated in the question clerks and working men.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a letter, dated 12th June, from Messrs. Wood-thorpe, Bevan, and Company, auditors of the Motor Bus Company, Limited, addressed to the secretary of this company, stating that as their name appeared on the prospectus issued to the public, they had the strongest possible objection to the company passing into liquidation until its accounts had been audited in compliance with the provisions designed by the Legislature; and if he will at once call the attention of the company to this evasion of the Act, and, failing a satisactory reply, will he direct proceedings to be taken against the directors under the power contained in the Companies Act.
My attention has been called to two letters dated the 8th May and 12th June respectively addressed by Messrs Woodthorpe, Bevan and Company to the secretary of the Motos Bus Company, Limited, and published in the Press. In this case again the powers of the Board of Trade are strictly limited by Statute, the only power vested in the Board of Trade being that in Section 21 of the Companies Act, 1900, under which, if an appointment of an auditor is not made at an annual general meeting, the Board of Trade may on the application of any member of the company appoint an auditor of the company for the current year.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that on 21st December, 1906, a meeting of 700 to 800 shareholders in the London Motor Omnibus Company, Limited, of which A. T. Salisbury Jones, is chairman, was held at the King's Hall, Holborn; that the meeting, with a few dissentients, opposed an amalgamation scheme proposed by the chairman on the ground that he refused to give the shareholders any accounts of the company's trading or of another of his motor companies with which he proposed to amalgamate this company; and whether, seeing the directors outvoted the shareholders with promoter shares, he will say whether he will bring in an Amendment to the Companies Act of 1900 to compel directors to give every information to shareholders who find money to carry on public companies.
I am not aware of what took place at the meeting held on the 21st December, 1906, apart from the information which is contained in the letter addressed to me by the chairman of the shareholders committee of the four Motor Bus Companies. As to the second part of the Question, one of the principal objects aimed at by the Companies Bill now before the House is to secure the fullest information to shareholders.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that the directors of the Motor Bus Company, Limited, have refused to allow the auditors, Messrs. Woodthorpe, Bevan and Company, despite their protests and those of the shareholders, to audit the accounts and wind up the company, he proposes, under Section 21 of the Companies Act of 1900, to appoint an auditor to deal with the accounts of this company.
An application has been made to the Board of Trade to appoint an auditor in the case of the London Motor Omnibus Company, Limited, and an inquiry has been addressed to the applicant in order to ascertain whether the powers of the Board of Trade to appoint an auditor have yet arisen.
Australasian Mail Service
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if he has yet made any arrangements for the establishment of an all-British mail service to Australasia and the East; and will he state the position of the negotiations with this object in view.
The hon. Member is, of course, aware, that under the contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company an all-British mail service to the East already exists. I am not in a position to make any statement in regard to any further arrangement.
Select Committee On The Post Office Wages
I beg to ask the Postmaster - General with reference to the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages which recommends that London postman's wages should range from £49 to £91 a year, whether he is aware that the Berlin postmen's wages range from £63 to £93 a year; and whether, in view of the fact that German wages generally are lower than British wages, he will level up British postmen's wages to a proper standard. I beg also to ask the Postmaster-General if his attention has been directed to the fact that, although the London postal porters maximum wages of 30s. per week have not been increased since 1882, or during a period of rather more than 25 years, the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages does not recommend that an increase in that maximum should now be made, while it states that its recommendations are sufficient for a considerable period; and whether, in view of the increased cost of living and the consequent real decrease in wages sustained by the postal porters, he can see his way to increase the maximum to at least £100 a year.
As my right hon. friend already informed the hon. Member the recommendations of the Select Committee will receive the most careful consideration.
Am I to have any reply to my Questions or shall I repeat them on a future day?
With reference to the wage question the Postmaster-General is not aware if the hon. Member's statement is correct. The Postmaster-General is solely responsible for dealing with the recommendations of the Committee.
Royston School Teacher
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education, when the Papers dealing with the appointment of a school teacher at Royston will be in the hands of Members.
I understand these Papers will be delivered to-day.
East St Pancras School
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that some of the London County Council schools in East St. Pancras are dangerous, unhealthy, and overcrowded; whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that four weeks ago a portion of the ceilings of one of the class-rooms of a building in Werrington Street, used by the senior girls of the Stanley School, fell, injuring some of the children, and one little girl, Harriet Fryer of 41, Barclay Street is still seriously ill from the effects; that the shock received by this child has been so serious that the doctor in attendance says the illness may develop into St. Vitus's Dance; that, in spite of requests, no medical care or attention by the London County Council authorities has been given; and what steps does he propose taking to ensure this child and its mother receiving compensation.
I have no information as to the incidents referred to. If any liability to pay compensation exists, as to which I express no opinion, it will be a matter for the London County Council in the first instance, and in any case it is not one in which the Board of Education have any jurisdiction.
Will the right hon. Gentleman instruct somebody in his Department to inquire if the London County Council is responsible?
I think application should be made direct to the Londou County Council.
Merionethshire Education Dispute
On behalf of the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he has yet received any reply from the Merionethshire local education authority with respect to the payment of the salaries of the teachers of non-provided schools; and, if so, what is the substance of such reply.
Yes, Sir, the local authority have informed the Board of Education that they fully recognise the inconvenience caused to the teachers in the voluntary schools by the delay in the payment of the salaries, and that the grants received in respect of such schools have all been expended upon their maintenance, but, inasmuch as they have decided that public rates are only to be utilised in maintaining those schools over which they exercise full control, they regret they are not in a position to pay the salaries which fell due on June 30th; but I am informed that a further communication from the council will reach me to-day.
In the event of an unsatisfactory answer being still given, will the right hon. Gentleman take proceedings to see that these teachers receive their full salaries?
Has the right hon. Gentleman been informed that as a matter of fact every salary of every teacher in the twenty-one non-provided schools in Merionethshire has been paid?
I have no information of that kind, but I have no reason to suppose it is not true. In reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite, I can only repeat what I said the other afternoon. Until the salaries have been paid by the managers who are primarily responsible I have no liberty under the Defaulting Authorities Act to consider the question whether I should put the Act in force.
Does the right hon. Gentleman persist in saying he will not send a circular to the managers advising them that the Government will see them through if the salaries are paid?
As I read the Act of Parliament I have no authority to take the course suggested. I cannot guarantee to pay public money except under statutory authority.
In the letter which he received this morning from the authority, was the right hon. Gentleman informed that the salaries have all been paid?
No; had I been so informed I should have been able to give a different reply to my hon. friend.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say who paid these salaries?
If I had had the information I should have been able to give it my hon. friend.
Grants For Secondary Schools
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Government Grant to English secondary schools is £5 per head of the scholars over twelve years of age, and a grant per head of the scholars below that age equivalent in amount to what it would have been if they had remained in the elementary schools; that the grant to Welsh secondary schools is confined to the four years course, and is apportioned as follows:—First year, 75s.; second year, 85s.; third year, 95s.; fourth year, 100s.; whether the restriction as to the four years course has been removed in the case of English Secondary schools and applies now only to those of Wales; whether restrictions as to the division of time amongst the various subjects have been removed from the English regulations, while they have been retained in Welsh regulations; and, if so, will he say why these distinctions, all of which are to the disadvantage of the Welsh as compared with the English secondary schools, have been made or retained; and whether he can hold out any hope that they shall be forthwith removed.
My hon. friend is mistaken in his statement of the grants to English Secondary Schools. While it is true that in certain of those schools the grant will be £5 per head of the scholars over twelve, and a grant of £2 per head will be paid on some of the scholars between ten and twelve years of age, in other schools the grant will be, only 50s., with no grant for scholars under twelve. My hon. friend has correctly stated the scale of grants for the Welsh Secondary Schools, but it must be noted that, except two, all of the Welsh Schools will be paid on the scale he names. He will observe that the Welsh scale is intermediate between the two English scales, and in the actual working out of the figures on the respective scales it will be found that the total contribution to Wales out of the new money granted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is exactly the same proportion of the sum paid to England as has been paid in the last three years. The restriction as to a four years course has not been removed, but with a view to next year's regulations the Department is carefully considering whether having regard to the different conditions prevailing in Wales the restriction can be removed without detriment to Welsh education. With regard to the division of time amongst the various subjects, my hon. friend appears to have overlooked Article 6 of the Welsh regulations, which provides for the modification of the ordinary curriculum where necessary.
May I ask if a differentiation in the grant has been made for the first time this year between Welsh and English secondary schools, and were the head officials of the Welsh Department of the Board of Education consulted before the differentiation was made?
Certainly. My hon friend must understand that the English regulations differentiate between two types of schools in England, whereas in Wales with the exception of two schools they are all of one type. Had Wales been united with England in this matter the Welsh schools would not have been able to get the higher rate of grant.
Inspections Of Welsh Intermediate Schools
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he is in a position to say if the difficulties which have arisen with reference to the dual inspection of intermediate schools in Wales have now been overcome; and, if so, what is the nature of the arrangement which has been come to between the Board of Education and the Central Welsh Board.
The Board of Education's Chief Inspector in Wales and the Chief Inspector of the Central Welsh Board are now conferring with a view to arriving at a working arrangement to overcome the difficulties referred to.
When will the arrangement be completed? I asked this Question fully a month ago and got precisely the same Answer.
No one is more anxious than I am to complete it.
Is there not a strong feeling in Wales that it should be arranged at the earliest possible moment?
Yes, and I fully share that view.
Palmistry In Scotland
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to the increase of palmistry and crystal-gazing in Scotland; and will he explain why so few prosecutions for this offence have taken place under his jurisdiction. May I say that this Question has been so much altered since I handed it in that I think the proper form of putting it is to say—"The Junior Clerk at the Table and I beg to ask Question 36."
My attention has not been called to these practices. As the law stands they are not per se criminal offences. I see no reason to suppose that there has been any remissness on the part of the Procurators Fiscal or other authorities.
Scottish Churches Commission
I beg to ask the Prime Minister what amount of capital funds was entrusted for allocation to the Commissioners under The Churches (Scotland) Act, 1905; what sums have now been allocated to the Free Church and the United Free Church, respectively; and what amount remains unallocated.
The evidence given before the Royal Commission showed the total of all the funds of the undivided Church to be £1,618,000. I am informed that subject to the addition of certain legacies which were not then available, this is believed to be correct. The Commissioners are not at this moment in a position to give a final and specific statement of amounts under the several heads of allocation; but for the convenience of those interested, they have, in their Memoranda on this subject, closely followed the arrangement of the Abstract of Funds quoted in the Report of the Royal Commission, and a comparison of these documents will give the information required as accurately as is as yet practicable.
Do the Government intend to take any action to prevent the improper allocation of the money?
That is a matter clearly within the discretion of the Royal Commission, with whose action the Government has no power to interfere at this stage.
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, by a Memorandum dated 26th July, the Churches (Scotland) Act Commission has from capital funds subscribed for definite purposes allocated to the Free Church a lump sum of £250,000 for the support of the ministry, for itinerant preachers, and for administration, and that, to prevent the Church from being unduly fettered in its detailed distribution and management, this fund has been allocated without any restriction to the trust purposes for which it was originally subscribed; and whether, in view of this diversion of trust funds, he proposes to take any action.
I am acquainted with the terms of the Memorandum referred to by my hon. friend, but since the Commission have acted on the responsibility imposed on them by the Act of 1905, I am not prepared to take any action.
How will it be secured that the money is applied to the purposes for which it has been allocated if there are no restrictions as to its distribution?
That is a matter for the Royal Commission at present.
Fermanagh Agricultural Show
On behalf of the Member for South Down I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he will state what amount the Department contribute to the Fermanagh annual agricultural show; to whom is the paying order issued; who are respectively the manager, the treasurer, and the secretary of the show; what remuneration do they receive; and, seeing that this show receives a grant from public funds, will the Vice-President insist that the accounts are annually audited and that a statement of the financial position is published for the information of the public.
The Department do not make a direct grant in aid of the show held by the Fermanagh Farming Society, but the Fermanagh County Committee of Agriculture have this year out of the funds at their disposal contributed a sum of £106 towards the prize fund of the society in accordance with the conditions of the scheme of subsidies to agricultural shows. The proportion of this amount for which the Department will be liable to the county committee is £59. The paying order for this amount of £106 will be issued by the committee presumably to the treasurer of the society. The show is managed by a committee. The honorary secretary of the society is Sir Douglas Brooke, and the acting secretary is Mr. Robert W. Wilson, who presumably is authorised to act as treasurer. In the financial transactions for 1906, as audited, a sum of £20 appears to have been paid as salary to the secretary. The accounts of the society are audited each year and a copy is submitted to the Department through the County Committee of Agriculture. It is a matter for consideration by the County Committee of Agriculture concerned whether they will publish the information which they obtain in regard to the financial position of each society receiving a grant from the joint fund available for subsidies to shows.
Grangemellon Evicted Tenant
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners received an application for reinstatement from Andrew Farrell, who was evicted by Sir Anthony Weldon from his holding at Grangemellon, county Kildare, about eleven years ago; are the Estates Commissioners aware that Sir Anthony Weldon is in possession of 200 acres of grass land at Grangemellon; have they made inquiry whether he is willing to sell this land; and whether he can say what steps have been taken by the Estates Commissioners to reinstate Andrew Farrell or provide him with a holding.
The Estates Commissioners have received from Andrew Farrell an application for reinstatement in a holding which is occupied by another tenant. The Commissioners will consider the application upon the distribution of any untenanted land which they may acquire. Sir Anthony Weldon has informed the Commissioners that he has no untenanted land, except that which belongs to his demesne, and which he has no intention of selling.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the action taken by the Local Government Board relative to a complaint made by Nurse Geddes, of the Derry workhouse infimary, respecting the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Morris, both guardians of the union, to see a patient in the infirmary on the 28th April last; whether the Local Government Board, without asking for an explanation from the guardians in question or making any inquiry into the allegations made against them, but merely acting upon the unsupported statement of Nurse Geddes, wrote a letter, dated 17th May, to the board of guardians condemning the action of Mr. and Mrs. Morris as being most injudicious and calculated to affect seriously the chances of the patient's recovery; and if, having regard to the injury to the personal and public reputation of Mr. and Mrs. Morris in consequence of the charges and by the public censure involved in the letter of the Local Government Board, he will direct a full inquiry, if necessary upon oath, into all the circumstances connected with this matter.
In this case the nurse in charge of the infirmary ward complained that Mr. and Mrs. Morris visited the ward after visiting hours, and, despite her protests, insisted on speaking to a patient who was in a critical condition, with the result that the patient became much excited and was for a time seriously affected. The nurse's report came before the guardians who, upon a motion seconded by Mrs. Morris herself, requested the Local Government Board to take such action in the matter as they deemed right. The Board replied in the terms indicated in the Question. As regards the concluding part of the Question the Board wrote to Mr. Morris on 3rd June last, asking if he was prepared to deny the accuracy of certain statements made in the nurses report, but he has never done so. If, however, he is prepared to do so, the Board will hold an inquiry on oath into the matter.
Athenry Constable's Pension
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what provision has been made, in addition to his ordinary pension as a constable, for Constable O'Halloran, Royal Irish Constabulary, who was, in October last, shot and severely wounded near Athenry, county Galway, while protecting the house of Colonel Lopdell; was Constable O'Halloran near his promotion to the rank of acting-sergeant; and has the loss of promotion been considered in determining the provision to be made for him.
The amount of the pension to be awarded to the constable has not yet been decided; the matter is at present under consideration.
Margison Estate, Limerick
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland can he say why it is that the vesting orders have been so long withheld from the tenants on the Margison property around Oola, county Limerick, and Cullen, county Tipperary, inasmuch as the arrangements for sale and purchase were concluded, and articles signed, between the owners and the tenants as far back as April, 1905.
The purchase agreements relating to this estate were lodged in August, 1905. The case has not yet reached its turn to be dealt with in order of priority.
Mr Reddy, Mp—Removal From The Commission Of The Peace
On behalf of the hon. Member for Waterford, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the hon. Member for the Birr Division of King's County has been removed from the commission of the peace for a speech alleged to have been delivered by him at Kilchreest, without being asked to give an explanation of the speech; whether it is the usual practice of the Lord Chancellor to ask for explanations of any alleged misconduct; and whether the hon. Member for the Birr Division will be treated in the ordinary way, and be heard in his own defence.
Yes, Sir. The Lord Chancellor has superseded the hon. Member for the Birr Division in the Commission of the Peace. Some two months ago the Lord Chancellor had occasion to warn the hon. Member that as a magistrate he was bound to be specially careful to avoid the use of language that could in any way be construed as an incitement to a breach of the law. Notwithstanding this warning the hon. Member delivered a speech at Kilchreest on 21st July, in which he advised his hearers—not once or twice, but repeatedly—to drive the cattle off the grazing lands. The Lord Chancellor had a verbatim report of the speech before him, and therefore did not consider it necessary to call on the hon. Member for an explanation. The speech throughout was of such a character as to admit of no satisfactory explanation.
Is it not the usual practice in such a case to forward a copy of the speech to the person who is alleged to have made it and to ask whether he admits the authenticity of the report, and is it not a fact that in this case the report upon which the Lord Chancellor acted was of the usual official police type—a type that has not often been acted upon in Ireland?
I have read the speech of the hon. Member myself from the shorthand writer's report which is a verbation report of the speech, and I quite agree that he should have been communicated with if the question rested on any particular passage, or any particular paragraph, but the fact is that the whole speech was of such a character—that not one paragraph merely was of the kind complained of, but a great number.
May I ask who was the person who made the report—was it an ordinary police reporter?
He was a police reporter qualified to take down a speech in shorthand.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that juries in Ireland have repeatedly refused to act upon such reports of speeches after counsel had tested them showing that they were not reliable reports?
This, let me remind the hon. Member, is not a case of criminal prosecution. It is simply a question which is at the discretion of the Lord Chancellor—whether a person who made a speech of this sort is a proper person to be in the Commission of the Peace, and I am quite sure that if the hon. Member read the speech he would be satisfied that the hon. Member for the Birr Division was in the light of it in a position of not being qualified.
Is it not of the essence of the case that the Lord Chancellor should be satisfied that the person who supplied the report was competent to give a correct report of the speech?
[No answer was returned.]
As I understand it now the hon. Member is going to run away from what he said in the speech referred to.
Royal Irish Constabulary—Commission Of Inquiry In 1901
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in view of the disaffection in the Royal Irish Constabulary, why no action was taken to give effect to the recommendations, under the second heading, of the Viceregal Committee of Inquiry appointed in 1901.
My hon. friend is under a misapprehension. The recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry of 1901, under the second heading, namely, those not entailing legislation, have been carried into effect at a cost of £21,000 per annum.
Mr Justice Dodd
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland how many Land Commission appeals have been decided by the Hon. Mr. Justice Dodd since his appointment in February last; on how many days between his appointment and 1st August, 1907, has he sat as a Judge of the High Court for the King's Bench Division; did he go on circuit as a King's Bench Judge; what provision was made for the disposal of the appeals in the Land Commission during his absence from Land Commission duty; and is Mr. Justice Dodd at present vacation Judge and also Judge at the Commission at Green Street for the trial of criminal cases.
Mr. Justice Dodd has sat in twelve different counties and heard 372 Land Commission appeals, but the number of cases actually disposed of was very much larger, many cases having been settled or withdrawn in Court. Up to 1st instant, the learned Judge had sat in the King's Bench Division on twenty-two days. He also went on circuit as Judge of Assize. While he was so occupied, the duty of hearing appeals was discharged by Mr. Justice Wylie and Mr. Justice Fitzgerald. Mr. Justice Dodd is at present the vacation Judge, and he will also preside at the Commission at Green Street for trial of criminal cases. These duties fall to him in consequence of his appointment as a Judge of the High Court.
Labourers' Cottages—Advances In Ireland
I bog to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will state the total amount advanced from the Land Purchase Fund to rural district councils for the provision of cottages and allotments under the Labourers Act of 1906 up to the 30th June last.
The total amount is £79,915.
Exchequer Contributions To Irish Land Purchases
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will specify the Irish counties which, at 31st March last, had to their credit unexpended balances of the shares payable to those counties before the commencement of the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1906, out of the residue of the Exchequer contribution under The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, and the respective amounts so credited.
Armagh, £4,418; Down, £3,264; Galway, £5,131; Mayo, £9,553; Sligo. £2,933.
Nationalist Excursions On The River Blackwater
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that annoyance is being caused to Protestant residents along the River Blackwater, from Charlemont to Lough Neagh, by Nationalists who take part in river excursions on Sundays, and who, when passing through Protestant districts, behave in a threatening and provocative manner; whether he is aware that similar conduct last year provoked a disturbance, and the police undertook to prevent Nationalist excursionists giving offence in future; and whether, in view of the recent renewal of the practices complained of and the danger of a breach of the peace resulting therefrom, he will take action to prevent these exhibitions.
The police authorities inform me that on Sunday, 28th July, an excursion party was returning by steamer along the River Blackwater, when the band played Party tunes, and some of the persons on board shouted when passing through localities inhabited by the opposite party. Provocative conduct of this kind, from whichever side it may come, is much to be deprecated. It is the fact that similar conduct last year led to a disturbance. The police have no power to prevent excursions on the river, but they will use all possible efforts to preserve the peace, and will prosecute if offences should be committed. They will also use any influence they may possess with the leaders of the excursion parties in order that they may prevent any unruly followers from giving offence.
Lord Ardilaun's Herbert Estate
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will request the Estates Commissioners to induce Lord Ardilaun to sell the portion of the Herbert Estate in his possession to the occupying tenants, so that they may derive the benefits already secured by the other tenants of the larger portion of the estate which has already been sold to the tenants.
The Estates Commissioners inform me that this is not a case in which their intervention is possible. Under the regulations of 13th February, 1906, their action as conciliators is confined to cases in which differences exist between landlord and tenant in connection with the terms of sale and purchase. It does not appear that any negotiations for purchase are pending in this case. In reply to a further question by Mr. MURPHY—
said that compulsion to sell was out of the question.
Kenmare Estate, Kerry
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, seeing that the tenants on the Kenmare estate, county Kerry, have signed an agreement, one of the conditions of which is that a sale of the congested portions of the estate should take place through the Congested Districts Board, he will request the Board to make inquiries as to this sale in the county of Kerry without further delay.
The Congested Districts Board have received suggestions from the solicitor acting for the tenants on the Kenmare estate, and these will be considered by the Board at their next meeting. The estate has not been offered for sale to the Board.
Irish Evicted Tenants
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if the evicted tenants proposed to be reinstated on farms under the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Bill are approximately of the average age of sixty-five years; and, if so, if he will consider the advisability of arranging that such tenants shall be pensioned off at a cost of less than half the £2,000,000, the estimated cost of their reinstatement.
I have already informed the hon. Member that I have no information which would enable an estimate to be made of the average age of the evicted tenants whom it is proposed to restore. I would, however, add that many of the applicants are the sons or other representatives of deceased evicted tenants. The Answer to the latter part of the Question is in the negative. As regards the suggestion that the reinstatement of evicted tenants will cost £2,000,000, I would remind the hon. Member that the amounts to be advanced to enable reinstated tenants to purchase holdings will be repayable in the form of annuities.
Ballyquinton Point, County Down
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Lights Commissioners have decided to light Ballyquinton Point, county Down; and, if so, when the work will be commenced.
I am informed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights that they have not decided to light Ballyquinton Point.
Public Accounts Committee's Report
I beg to ask the Prime Minister what is the date of the day for the discussion of the Report from the Public Accounts Committee; and will the whole of the day be allocated for that purpose as promised.
I have repeatedly said that this date cannot be fixed until quite close to the end of the session, and there has been no promise of a whole day.
I have put sixteen Questions lately to the Secretary for War which have not been answered because the matter arises on this Report. Is the light hon. Gentleman aware that the evidence taken by that Committee is not yet in the hands of the Members.
I am not responsible for that, but it is an additional reason for postponing the consideration of the Report.
The evidence will be circulated next week.
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that deputy-lieutenancies of counties in Scotland, which positions are given as rewards for distinguished public services, are largely given to members of one political party; whether this is due to the absence of suitable men in the other political parties; and, if not, will he see that pressure is brought to bear on lords-lieutenant to appoint men without consideration of party, or will he bring in legislation depriving them of these important appointments.
I am not aware that deputy-lieutenancies are regarded as rewards for distinguished public services. They are selected by the lord-lieutenant, whose discretion in the matter is virtually absolute. I am afraid I have no means of bringing pressure to bear on lords-lieutenant even if I wished to exercise it, and I think we have many other and more important subjects requiring legislation. Under the new territorial system, however, it may be desirable to alter the qualification, and military services may be recognised in the appointments. This matter is under consideration.
Winter Sessions Of Parliament
I beg to ask the Prime Minister, is it intended next session to propose an early adjournment followed by an autumn or winter session, in accordance with evidence gathered a year ago from Members of the House.
I can make no announcement on this subject.
Belfast Labour Disputes
I desire to put the Question which I submitted in accordance with private notice yesterday to the Secretary of State for War, but to which, owing to the right hon. Gentleman's absence, I did not obtain an answer. It is whether he is aware that a large number of military troops were turned out yesterday morning to parade the streets of Belfast on picket duty with fixed bayonets and that each man was supplied with twenty rounds of ball cartridge; and whether he will use his influence to put a stop to this display of military, which only tends to render abortive all attempts to bring the dispute to a peaceful conclusion.
I am not sure that the hon. Member quite realises where the responsibility rests for dealing with a situation of this nature. By the law of the country, everyone is bound to aid in the suppression of riotous assemblages, and it is the duty of the civil authorities to regulate the force employed in proportion to the danger to be apprehended. At Belfast the situation has been judged sufficiently serious to call for military intervention, and the military authorities have complied, as they are by law bound to comply, with the requisition of the civil power. I may add that the composition and the duties of the force have been settled in consultation between the General Officer Commanding and the Irish Government, and I have every confidence that the orders issued to the troops are such as are demanded by the necessity of maintaining civil order.
I desire to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that in addition to their endeavours to maintain law and order the troops were being used as private employees of the Belfast railway and shipping companies?
I am not aware of that. It is the duty of these troops to give such assistance as is strictly necessary to the civil authorities to maintain law and order.
Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that through the presence of such a large force of military the Trade Disputes Act is rendered absolutely inoperative in Belfast, and so far as peaceful picketing is concerned it is absolutely hopeless under the present condition of martial law?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the action of the Irish executive in Belfast has the confidence of three-quarters or the majority of the inhabitants of the city?
May I now, Mr. Speaker, put the same question which I have put to the Secretary for War to the Chief Secretary for Ireland?
This is what may be called a change of venue, and I think I should like the hon. Member to repeat his question at a later date.
May I ask the Chief Secretary my last question, viz., whether he was aware that the Trade Disputes Act is being rendered absolutely inoperative by the presence of these troops and that peaceful picketing is an impossibility?
That is contrary to the information I have received. The hon. Member was kind enough a little while ago to put the question to me, and I telegraphed to Belfast for information on the point. The reply I received was that nothing could be more contrary to the wish of anyone than that the soldiers should prevent peaceful picketing. I only know of one instance which has occurred, where a Highlander is alleged to have assaulted a person answering to the description of a peaceful picketer. This was being made the subject of special inquiry. There is nothing further from the intention of the civil authorities in Belfast—so far as I can speak for them, but I must decline to hold myself responsible for them—I say there is nothing further from the intention of the civil authorities in Belfast than that peaceful picketing should be prevented. It is the desire of the military authorities that the troops should be withdrawn as speedily as possible, and as soon as is consistent with law and order in the city. The civil authorities cannot give Belfast over entirely to the strikers, there are other persons to be considered, and I assure the hon. Member that this strike presses heavily upon them. No one has the faintest desire that the dispute shall be maintained a day longer than is necessary, but in the opinion of the authorities there were grave circumstances which rendered it necessary that the military should be in the city owing to the disaffection among the police. That disaffection, however, has now been happily removed, and the police have returned to duty and are behaving in an admirable manner. I hope before long it will be possible to remove the military.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Robert Graham was assaulted by P.C. 588, and N. Bennett by P.C. 459, and John Gwynn by Sergt. 39, and others—men who were peacefully picketing, and whether he is aware that from information that comes to hand to-day the moment a man gets near a wagon he is seized by the police, batoned by them, and unable to have an opportunity of peacefully saying a word to any men taking the places of other workmen, and whether he will make inquiries into these facts?
If the hon. Member can give me the numbers I will make inquiry, but the information I may say is contrary to what I have received.
Will the right hon. Gentleman get the information from Belfast that these men who claim to be peaceful picketers are all armed with heavy bludgeons?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is interpreting the spirit or the letter of the Trade Disputes Act, to make it absolutely impossible for pickets to approach men who are acting as blacklegs?
I decline to make myself responsible for the civil authorities at Belfast, who are doing their best under very difficult circumstances, and under pressure from the citizens to maintain order. If any information is provided I will communicate with a view to ascertaining the actual facts.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the section of the citizens who brought this pressure to bear are the Employers' Protection Association, and the firms immediately concerned, and that the military are being employed even against the wishes of the employers who desire to submit the matter to arbitration? Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to sanction the continuance of this military force in Belfast under the circumstances that the employers would agree to arbitration?
I have no power to remove the military from Belfast if the civil authorities wish them to remain there.
Have the military authorities in supplying troops taken into consideration the enormous advantage they are giving to the employers?
The duty of the military authorities is to assist the local authorities when they are properly' called on to enforce the law. They are only obeying the law in doing it.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the military are being used as workmen in the interests of the employers, and will he put a stop to it?
I do not admit they are being used as workmen. When you are dealing with a great riot of this kind you naturally avoid using weapons of offence beyond what is more than necessary. No doubt the soldiers associate themselves with civilian methods, but that they have been acting as workmen I do not believe.
Is it proper for the soldiers to fix their bayonets when there is no sign of a riot?
I will consider a concrete case when it comes up.