Ships Complements On The China Station
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what is the actual complement of the two destroyers on the China station now commissioned by nucleus crews; and how soon these ships could be commissioned with full fighting crews without reducing the complement of other ships upon that station.
Details of complement and the mobilising arrangements have always been, and must continue to be, treated as confidential. The necessary ratings are available.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether any, and, if any, which, of the coastguard stations are at the present time short of men; if he will state, in relation to each, the number of men they are short, and for how long such deficiency has existed; and whether he proposes, and when, to fill up such vacancies.
I must refer the hon. Member to the Answer given to his previous Question on the 31st July. So far as the requirements of the Services are concerned the coastguard stations are not short of men.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty which of the coastguard stations have been found in excess of present requirements, and to what extent; what reductions have been made in such stations respectively; and when were they effected.
The Return now being prepared on the Motion of the hon. Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool will give information as to the coastguard stations which have been closed as being in excess of present requirements. Sixty-eight stations have been closed, involving a personnel of 316. Thirteen stations have been reduced on an average about two per station.
When will the Return be issued? It was asked for months ago.
It is in the hands of the printers.
Will it be before Parliament rises?
In what way have the conditions altered so as to reduce the number of men required in some cases?
That is a rather large question which hardly arises out of that on the Paper.
Will the hon. Gentleman endeavour to let us have the Report before the House rises?
We will make every effort to do so.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what are the present requirements of the Board in relation to the complement of coastguard stations; whether any alteration has been made during the past two years in the standard of strength or of efficiency; and, if so, in what respect, and when was such alteration made.
The requirements of the coastguard stations as regards complements are determined generally now, as in the past, by the naval and revenue duties to be performed. The standard of strength varies from time to time.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can state what was the number of casks made at the Deptford Victualling Yard Cooperage during the year 1906, and the number of men employed in this department during that year.
The total number of casks made at Deptford during 1906 was 12,983. The daily average number of persons employed upon cooperage work was forty-six.
War Office Administrative Staff
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the Departmental Committee on the training of officers for the administrative staff has presented its Report, and when will it be published; whether the results of the experimental course of instruction held at the London School of Economics are regarded as satisfactory; and whether it is proposed to continue it.
I expect very shortly to be in receipt of this Report, and will consider whether it cannot be laid on the Table of the House. The results of the first experimental course of instruction have been so satisfactory that it has been decided to hold a second course in October next.
The Union Jack
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War in view of the fact that the Navy uses the pattern of the Union Jack decided upon in 1801, why and for what reason the pattern used by the Army has been altered.
There is no difference between the Union Jack used by the Army and that used by the Navy. Does the hon. Member allude to the Army Council flag with the distinctive three cannons and three balls?
The Lord Mayor Of Dublin's Army Captaincy
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Lord Mayor of Dublin holds in perpetuity the rank of a captain of foot and draws the sum of £300 (Irish) annually from the Consolidated Fund as the pay of this rank; whether the name of this officer appears in the Army List; if not, what is the reason of its omission; and whether he has any claim upon this officer's services should they be required.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in answer to a Question on the 30th July, the Lord Mayor of Dublin receives a perpetual annuity, representing the pay of a captain of foot, which is charged upon the Consolidated Fund. The provisions of the Letters Patent of Charles II. regarding the rank and exercise of command by the Lord Mayor have become obsolete in course of time and he is no longer gazetted to hold rank in the Army. The Army has no claim upon his services.
Is it still being paid to him?
Of course it is.
Is this Government going to stop it?
[No Answer was returned.]
Young Indians In England
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will lay before the House the Report of, or the substance of the Report of, or any information concerning, the conclusions arrrived at by the Committee he has appointed to consider the question of giving advice and assistance to young men from India upon their arrival in this country.
The Committee have not reported yet, but I expect from the nature of the case that the report is likely to contain matter of a purely confidential character.
Death From Plague In India
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the deaths from plague in June last amounted to more than ·2349 per mille; and whether the like figure for the six months ended June amounted to more than 3·6 per mille of the population of India; what are the losses from cholera and fever and other chief epidemics for the same period; whether the like figures are available in respect of other parts of Asia of more or less similar climatic conditions; and, if so, whether he will lay them before the House.
The hon. Member has correctly stated the mortality from plague in India as a whole during June last and the six months ending June respectively. I am unable to give the corresponding figures for other epidemic diseases, as the mortality from them is not reported month by month to me. In 1905, the latest year for which complete figures for British India are available, the mortality rates for cholera, small-pox and fevers were 1·97, 0·32, and 19·74 per mille respectively. I have no information that would enable me to reply to the last part of the Question.
Would it not be desirable when actual figures are given that the figures per mile should also be stated, so as to prevent involuntary comparison with a population like that of these Islands?
I will consider that.
Presbyterian Mission In Calcutta
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the Established Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland have recently united their mission in Calcutta, and that the Army Council have appointed a committee, composing representatives of the four great Presbyterian Churches in the United Kingdom, to advise upon the distribution and employment of Presbyterian chaplains; and whether, in view of these facts, he will consider the advisability of inquiring whether the time is ripe to throw open the Presbyterian chaplaincies in India to ministers of all Presbyterian Churches.
I shall be glad to consider any representations on the subject which may be addressed to me by the Presbyterian Churches.
Cason Mine Disturbances
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give any information about the recent outbreak of Chinese coolies at the Cason mine and the reasons for its occurrence; how many Chinese have been repatriated up to this date owing to the expiry of their contracts; and how many will be due for repatriation up to the end of the present year.
The Secretary of State is informed by the Governor of the Transvaal that the outbreak at the Cason mine is under investigation. The ostensible cause would appear to be a desire on the part of the management to revise the terms of the existing piece-work agreement for drilling and to a misunderstanding as to the attitude of the coolies toward the proposal. The terms were published in advance and the management was led to believe by boss boys who said they represented the coolies that the terms would be generally acceptable. Opinion in the compound was, however, divided and a riot ensued. Two men were killed by the rioters, and two by shots fired by persons so far unknown. The murderers and the ringleaders have been arrested and the compound is quiet. As regards the second part of the Question, 573 labourers have been repatriated on the expiry of their contracts and the contracts of 15,890 expire up to the 31st December.
Isthmian Canal Labour
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies how many labourers from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, or any other islands in the British West Indies, are engaged on the Isthmian Canal.
I can only refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a Question asked by the hon. Member for Darlington in very similar terms on the 29th July.†
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will place in the library copies of the Bills recently introduced in the Transvaal Legislature dealing with questions of immigration, liquor laws, the field-cornet system, and the right of access by natives to the law courts.
† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 478, 479.
The Immigration Bill and the Bill to amend the liquor law which has been abandoned have been received and will be placed in the library. The other Bills will be placed there as soon as copies are received.
Hut Tax In British East Africa
I bog to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, during his projected visit to British East Africa, he will inquire into the desirability of altering the method of collection of the hut tax in native districts, so as to provide that the system of payment of taxation to British authorities through the medium of chiefs or sub-chiefs with a commission of 5 per cent. on collection may be reconsidered, and, if desirable, abandoned.
I will inquire into the matter, but so far as I am at present advised there is no reason to suppose that the present arrangement is not well adapted to the special circumstances of the East African Protectorate.
Panama Canal Labour Contract
On behalf of the hon. Member for Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that it is impossible to enforce the terms of the Panama Isthmian Canal Labour Contract, the Government will consider the desirability of its abrogation.
It might argumentatively be observed that if the Contract cannot be enforced against the United States Government it would become a dead letter, and it could evidently no longer be used as a binding form of agreement. But information on this point is still being sought, and, in the meanwhile, I should strongly deprecate any action which would seem to imply distrust in the ability and intentions of the Government of the United States of America to provide for the well-being of the labourers and to act towards them in strict good faith. His Majesty's Government feel no such distrust and have therefore no intention, as at present advised, of fettering the discretion of the Governor of Trinidad in regard to the recruitment of labour for Panama.
The Hague Conference And The Limitation Of Armaments
On behalf of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now in a position to announce the terms of the resolution to be moved by the British delegates at The Hague on the question of limiting armaments.
I can only repeat the replies I gave to the hon. Members for Andover and Norwood on the 1st instant.† It would hardly be courteous to the Conference for me to make any anticipatory statement of the terms of any resolution that may be brought before them.
Trinidad Labour Ordinance
On behalf of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall division of Sheffield, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if he can now state what Court decided that the recent Trinidad Ordinance cannot be enforced in the Panama zone; what was the status of the Court which pronounced this verdict; and has notice of appeal been given.
It is presumed that the hon. Member refers to a decision stated to have been given by the Supreme Court of the United States, by which it has been laid down that the Isthmian Canal Commission, with whom the contract entered into by Trinidad labourers is made, are part of the United States Government, and therefore cannot be sued for breach of contract. His Majesty's Government having received information to this effect, His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington has been instructed to report whether such a decision has been given. Until His Excellency's Report is received I am not in a position to furnish the hon. Member with any further information.
† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 1211–2.
Shall I put another Question down?
No, I will send the hon. Member the information.
Trade In Venezuela
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government are taking any steps, and if so, what steps, to secure the removal of the surtax of 30 per cent. on all goods shipped to Venezuelan ports from the West Indies, which was imposed by the Venezuelan Government in 1881 in contravention of Article 4 of the treaty of 1825.
I regret to state that I can add nothing to the Answer which I returned to the hon. Member on this subject on July 28th, 1906‡.
Are negotiations in progress?
The question has been discussed.
Civil Service Superannuation
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that no steps have yet been taken to repeal the seventh section of the Superannuation Act of 1859, though its immediate repeal was recommended by the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments in 1888; and whether, in these circumstances, any civil servant retiring on account of abolition of office is entitled to part of the extra allowances or benefits contemplated and provided by an unrepealed Act, even though his retirement did not result in the maximum amount of saving to the State as between salary and pension.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; to the second part in the negative. My hon. friend will observe that the provisions of the section in question are permissive only; and since the recommendation of
the Royal Commission, the Treasury has made it a rule not to grant the additional allowances contemplated by the section, except under special circumstances which rarely arise.‡ See (4) Debates, clxii., 213.
English Channel Fishery
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is contemplating the possibility of arranging, in the interests of the fishermen of the South Coast, an English Channel Fishery Convention on the lines of the North Sea Convention.
Yes, Sir, the matter is now receiving the careful consideration of the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that in some of the principal shipping ports of the United Kingdom the superintendents are failing to report to the Board of Trade cases where seamen fail to join their vessels after signing the articles of agreement; and whether he will issue instructions to the superintendents requesting them to report all such cases of failures to join to the Registrar-General, in order that the certificates of such seamen may be dealt with in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906.
The Board of Trade are not aware that superintendents are omitting to report cases where it is shown to their satisfaction that a seaman has wilfully or through misconduct failed to join his ship. In order, however, to remove any possible misconception of the requirements of the section, further instructions will be issued to superintendents in regard to the matter.
Is it not the fact the Merchant Shipping Act provides that the superintendent shall report all cases?
Yes, that is so.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the British Vice-Consul at Rotterdam will not permit any seamen to engage on vessels belonging to the Furness line as A.B.'s unless such seamen can prove three years sea service, and that at the same time on all other vessels, where the crews are supplied by the Rotterdam shipping masters, men are accepted as qualified able seamen although unable to prove three years sea service; whether he can say why the British Vice-Consul makes this distinction between vessels of the Furness line and other vessels; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made with regard to the conduct of this Vice-Consul at Rotterdam, and call upon him for the ground on which he can reconcile his different conduct in the two cases.
The Board of Trade are informed by the Vice-Consul at Rotterdam that no distinction is made by him between vessels of the Furness line and other vessels.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the British steamer "Palastrina" engaged a crew at Rotterdam on or about the 30th July, 1907; whether the British Vice-Consul allowed four seamen to be signed on the articles of the vessel as A.B.'s, not one of whom was able to prove that he had three years sea service; whether the "Palastrina" is now lying at Cardiff; and, if so, whether he will cause inquiries to be made at Rotterdam and Cardiff as to the want of three years sea service of these men who were signed on as able seamen.
The facts are as stated by my hon. friend. An assurance has, however, been received from the Vice-Consul that in future seamen who cannot prove the necessary sea service will not be given the rating of A.B.
May I call the hon. Gentleman's attention to his previous Answer? He now admits that the Vice-Consul has been signing men on as A.B.'s who could not prove three years service, and before that he said no distinction was made.
Both Answers are accurate.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the "Palastrina" is not one of the Furness line, and that before men are allowed to sign on for the Furness boats the Vice-Consul is particular to see that they prove three years service? Did he not in this case overlook the provision and allow incompetent men to sign on?
I do not admit that at all. If the hon. Member has any further information I shall be pleased to consider it.
Railway Dining Car Attendants
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the number of hours worked by the dining-car staff engaged on the important trains on the principal railways of Great Britain; whether he can see his way to request the several railway companies to furnish a complete Return of the actual hours this class of servants were on the trains each turn of duty during the month of July, 1907; and what other steps he proposes to take, if any, in this matter.
Dining car attendants would not appear to come within the scope of either the Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, or the Railway Regulation Act, 1893, and the Board of Trade have therefore no powers which would enable them to take the action suggested.
Under what Department do these men come?
said that although by Act of Parliament certain powers had been given to the Board, these men did not come within their scope. The Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, applied only to servants whose duties involved the safety of trains or passengers, while the Act of 1903 dealt with men engaged in working the traffic. These men came within neither category, and the Board consequently had not the power the hon. Member seemed to think.
asked whether the Government were not in a position to bring influence to bear on the railway companies to arrange proper hours.
said they could make representations, but there was no statutory force behind them.
Seeing that these men are employed on the trains will the hon. Gentleman further consider their case?
And will representations be made to the railway companies?
Yes, for what they are worth.
Conviction Under The Merchant Shipping Act At Middlesbrough
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the conviction under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, of a seaman named Thomas M'Atanney, at Middlesbrough on 23rd July; whether he is aware that M'Atanney signed on the steamer "Lady Lewis" on the 5th July and failed to join that ship, and afterwards signed on the 16th July on the steamer "Oakby," and failed to join that ship either; whether he can say if M'Atanney produced a discharge book when signing on the "Oakby"; and whether he will call the attention of the owners to the fact that seamen are being engaged on their vessels without producing certificates of discharge, and thereby encouraging men to obtain employment who make it a habitual practice to sign on ships and not go to sea in them.
The attention of the Board of Trade has been called to the conviction, under Section 65 (1) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, of the seaman referred to by my hon. friend. I am aware of the seaman's failure to join the "Oakby" but, in the ease of the "Lady Lewis," I am informed that the master on the arrival of the vessel at Cardiff reported that he had discharged the seaman at Middlesbrough. The seaman did not produce a discharge book when signing on the "Oakby" as his book had not yet been returned from Cardiff to Middlesbrough. The attention. of the owners of the "Oakby" has been called to my hon. friend's Question, and the Board of Trade will also communicate with shipowners generally in regard to the subject.
Lord Strathcona And The All-Red Route
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the present visit of Lord Strathcona to Canada has any bearing on the suggested subsidies by this country to certain railway and steamship routes to the Australian Colonies; and does he carry any instructions or authority from His Majesty's Government, or can the House be assured that no encouragement will be given to the Canadian proposal to establish what is known as the All-Red route.
The Board of Trade have no knowledge of the objects of Lord Strathcona's visit to Canada. As has already been stated in answer to previous Questions, His Majesty's Government has the matter of the proposed All-British Route under consideration, and I am not at present in a position to make any further announcement on the subject.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can definitely state that the branch in connection with London traffic, recently established in his office, is to be of a temporary character; whether it has been established pending legislation next session; and whether he can state what duties in connection with traffic this newly-appointed branch of the Department will be asked to perform.
Yes, Sir. It is not contemplated that the traffic branch should be of more than a temporary character, and its establishment is without prejudice to any future legislative proposals that may be made. Among the duties of the branch at the outset will be the collection of information and statistics with a view to bringing and keeping the Report of the Royal Commission up to date and the preparation of an annual Report with regard to London traffic for presentation to Parliament, the preliminary examination of new schemes seeking statutory authority so far as these come within the scope of the Board of Trade, and the consideration of any other questions affecting traffic in Greater London that the Departments concerned may desire to refer to it.
May I ask the hon. Gentleman what steps have been taken to empower the Commissioner to deal with items of London traffic which stand outside the scope of the Board of Trade? The duties of such a Commissioner would be very limited unless they were extended to the Home Office and the Local Government Board.
I could not answer that offhand.
Is it intended to introduce legislation next session dealing with this traffic question?
No doubt legislation will follow in due course, but whether next session or the session after I really cannot say.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is a considerable time since the Report of the Royal Commission, and there is a great difficulty with reference to London traffic? Either you must hang up schemes which are or may be of great advantage to the public, or else you must allow them to proceed at the risk of throwing out the whole subsequent development of the question.
I can assure the noble Lord that we are fully alive to the necessities of the case.
Are the Board satisfied that they have statutory powers to examine private Bills under the present law?
asked for notice of the Question.
Sir Hugh Owen
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if he can state whether Sir Hugh Owen, late Permanent Secretary to the Local Government Board, still holds any appointment as an official of a public authority for which he receives a salary; whether he is in receipt of a pension; and, if so, whether a reduction is made in this pension by the amount of the salary he receives from the appointment.
Sir Hugh Owen is receiver of the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, and also examiner of costs under the Borough Funds Acts, the net emoluments of these offices being £265 per annum. He is in receipt of a pension, and no deduction is made from it. The emoluments of the offices above-mentioned are not payable from Imperial funds.
Education Department Consultative Committee
On behalf of the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will give the names of the members of the Consultative Committee, the date of its formation, and the purposes for which it was formed.
The Consultative Committee consists at present of twenty-one members; I will send the hon. Member the names. The Committee was established on the 1st October, 1900, by an Order in Council under Section 4 of the Board of Education Act, 1899. The purposes for which it is formed are laid down in that section.
Are the members of this Committee appointed for life?
I really cannot say without reference to the Act.
Secondary School Grants
On behalf of the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will state what education standard a secondary school must possess in order to obtain the increased grant for secondary schools over and above the educational standard attained by schools earning only the lower grant.
Neckinger Council School, Bermondsey
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of the medical officer of health for Bermondsey as to the verminous and insanitary condition of the Neckinger London County Council school, Bermondsey; and whether he will require the school to be placed in a sanitary and cleanly condition before the children return to school after the holidays.
My attention has not been drawn to the statement referred to, but I have given directions for the matter to be investigated.
The Antwerp Shipping Dispute
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if the Peninsular and Oriental Shipping Company receive a subsidy from the Government in consequence of carrying the mails; if he is aware that the company in question shipped 1,600 persons in their boat "Borneo," which left the Albert Dock on Saturday morning last for Antwerp, to take the places of the dockers who were out there owing to a dispute with some of the shipping companies; and whether he intends taking any action in the matter.
The Peninsular and Oriental Company receives a subsidy for the conveyance of mails. My right hon. friend has no knowledge of the circumstances to which the hon. Member refers. The matter does not appear to be one in which he could take any action.
Irish Land Purchase
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what is the total amount of the agreed purchase money in the agreements for sale under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1903, lodged with the Land Commission to 30th June, 1907; how much money has been allocated by the Commission in payment of purchase money to the same date; how much money is now available for completion of the agreed sales; and is it proposed to find funds for the restoration of evicted tenants and the expropriation of new tenants or planters in priority to the funds required to complete the agreed voluntary sales under the Act of 1903 for which agreements have been lodged with the Estates Commissioners.
The total amount of the purchase money involved in the agreements lodged up to 30th June last, including sales to the Estates Commissioners and the Congested Districts Board, was in round numbers £47,500,000, of which £17,500,000 had been advanced up to that date. Money is at present being supplied to the Irish Land Purchase Fund by the National Debt Commissioners as and when required. The provision of funds for the purchase of lands under the Evicted Tenants Bill will not affect the provision of funds for ordinary land purchase under the Act of 1903. An additional and separate staff has been, and will continue to be provided for the work to be done under the Evicted Tenants Bill, and funds will be provided for the purposes of that Bill pari passu with the provision of funds for ordinary land purchase.
Mullaghboy-Robbery Of Postman
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that on 23rd July the postman from Carrigallen S.O. to Mullaghboy was attacked by three men disguised as women, who took from him five letters supposed to contain writs; and whether he will state why it was not considered necessary to afford the postman protection in this case, in view of the instructions issued to the local police by the police authorities in the matter.
The police authorities inform me that the facts are as stated in the first part of the Question. Letters containing writs are usually registered, but in this case the letters were ordinary post letters. The local police had no reason to apprehend that the contents of these letters would become known before delivery, otherwise special protection would have been given to the postman.
The Theft Of The Irish Crown Jewels
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with regard to the recent disappearance of Crown jewels from Dublin Castle, whether the jewels have yet been traced, recovered, or redeemed; and, if so, under what circumstances.
The reply is in the negative. The jewels have not been traced, recovered, or redeemed.
What efforts have the police made to detect the loyal and patriotic Unionist criminals who stole these jewels? Have they searched the haunts of the aristocratic loyal and patriotic Unionist criminals, the Kildare Street Club, for instance.
As we have no means of knowing who the thieves or receivers are, any speculation as to their politics would be out of place.
Is it not the fact nobody had access to this part of Dublin Castle where the Crown jewels were kept except persons known to be loyal and patriotic Unionists?
[No Answer was returned.]
Irish Land Annuities
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will state in what way the payment of part of his annuity in Guaranteed Land Stock, by a purchaser under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, would be unfair to other purchasers who did not choose to avail themselves of this mode of payment; who is, or are, the person or persons whose duty it is to make the rules, under Section 2 of the Act of 1891, to enable payments to be made in Guaranteed Land Stock; and is the £13,900,000 of existing Guaranteed Land Stock only very little, and how much, less than the total outstanding advances under the Act of 1891.
(i). The Sinking Fund instalments payable under the Act of 1891 have to-be accumulated by the National Debt Commissioners until such time as the amount so accumulated will redeem the original advance in Guaranteed Land Stock. The National Debt Commissioners apply all receipts on the accumulation account to the purchase of Guaranteed Land Stock at the prices obtaining from time to time, and when the Stock is below par the Stock credited to the tenant purchasers is in excess of the cash invested, and the benefit of such purchases accrues to the tenant purchasers as a whole, the period for which the annuity is payable being reduced accordingly. Owing to the large number of purchasers under the Act, about 46,000, the only practicable way of accumulating the Sinking Fund is to deal with the payments as a whole so that any advantage arising from the Stock being procurable below par may be equitably distributed. If one section of the tenant purchasers were to pay their instalments in Stock the progress of the accumulation would be retarded by the action of that section of tenant purchasers, whereas they would share equally with the rest in the benefit arising from payments in cash although they would have contributed nothing to produce that benefit, and those who paid in cash would suffer to a corresponding extent, (ii.) It is, of course, the Treasury who were given power to make a rule under the section referred to. (iii.) The existing Guaranteed Land Stock at 31st March last was £12,741,000, which amount has to be redeemed by the accumulation of the Sinking Fund instalments. Up to the same date the accumulation account had acquired £966,000 Stock, but of the remaining £11,775,000 only a small proportion was in the hands of the public.
Business Of The House
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he can afford facilities for the final stages of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill.
Yes, Sir; in view of the fact that this Bill has passed through all its stages in this House with the exception of part of the Report stage and the Third Reading, and of the very large measure of support which it has received at every stage, the Government propose to afford facilities for this Bill. The object of the Bill has gained steadily for many years in Parliamentary support, and the opposition to it has correspondingly dwindled. We think it is high time that the matter was settled. Perhaps I may be allowed to add that the other Bills for which we propose to give facilities are: The Limited Partnerships Bill and the Advertisement Regulations Bill. In regard to both of these it only remains to find time for consideration of the Lords' Amendments. The Lights on Vehicles Bill will also be starred, but it is proposed to exclude Scotland from its operation. We also hope to give facilities for the Notification of Births Bill, but this must depend upon the Bill being agreed to.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Bill will be taken?
I hope to-morrow night.
Crown Ecclesiastical Patronage
I beg to ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to a recent utterance of the Bishop of London in which he exhorted the Crown to reconsider its present method of exercising ecclesiastical patronage; if he proposes to take any steps to avoid a repetition of the procedure recently adopted, with the approval of the bishop, by which the induction of an evangelical clergyman appointed by the Crown to the living of St. Saviour's, Hoxton, was prevented; and if it is proposed to transfer the patronage of this living from the Crown to the sole patronage of the Bishop of London.
I have seen a report of the sermon to which my hon. friend appears to allude, but I cannot find any exhortation in it. The Vicar of St. Saviour's, Hoxton, was, I understand, allowed by the bishop to withdraw his resignation before his living was declared vacant. I have no control over these proceedings. I am considering whether the names of Crown nominees should be divulged in future before the vacancies actually occur. An arrangement has been for some time under consideration whereby there would be an interchange of shares of patronage, that is of alternate rights of patronage, between the Crown and the bishop. If this exchange is carried out this particular living would pass wholly to the bishop—others of equivalent value passing wholly to the Crown.
The Belfast Riots
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of the grave condition of affairs in Belfast, the Government would immediately take steps to prevail upon the railway and shipping companies to recognise the desirability of submitting all points of dispute to arbitration, and also in the meantime have the troops withdrawn for a stipulated period, with a view to securing a peaceful settlement.
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that Question, may I ask him whether he is aware of the speech made by a Member of this House at Belfast, in which he said that although the people of Belfast had no swords or guns they had broken bottles, and whether he proposes to take action against the hon. Member for inciting the people to riot?
Don't give him a free advertisement.
I can assure the hon. Member for Jarrow, who has given me notice of his Question, that the Government are fully alive to the urgency of this matter, and are doing all they can to secure a settlement of this most unfortunate strike. It will be remembered that two representatives of the Labour Federation, Messrs. Mitchell and Gee, did in the earlier stages of the dispute go over to Belfast, and did their best to secure a settlement, with very considerable beneficial results. I cannot but believe that, had they remained, all the difficulties would by this time have been overcome. Unfortunately, they were obliged to leave. I have arranged with the President of the Board of Trade that he should send over, and he is sending over to-day, one of these gentlemen, Mr. Mitchell, who is now a temporary servant of the Board of Trade; and he is going accompanied by a permanent servant of the Board of Trade in the Labour Department. They will at once do what they can to place themselves at the disposal of all parties. I have also just heard, I think somewhat authoritatively, from the representative of the trade unionist party in Ireland and the trade unions, that they are perfectly willing to refer this matter to arbitration. They suggest the name of Mr. Carlisle, an active member of the firm of Harland and Wolff, who are one of the largest, if not the largest, employers of labour in the United Kingdom. They say also that failing him they would be willing to allow the matter to be referred to Sir Antony MacDonnell. This, at all events, shows a disposition on their part to refer all these matters in dispute to arbitration. I have the most earnest hope, and am not altogether without some confidence, that in the course of a few hours we may hear that these negotiations which are going on on all sides have had a satisfactory result. Every effort, so far as I can do anything, will be in the interests of peace. So far as the removal of the troops is concerned, that is a matter entirely in the hands of the civil authority, and it is for them to consider the propriety of any such step. I have no responsibility; but from the information within my reach, I cannot say that I think any such proposal as that would add to the general sense of security on the part of the whole city of Belfast, whose interests must not be overlooked even in the presence of this most lamentable strike.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the reason of the breakdown of the negotiations with Messrs. Mitchell and Gee arose entirely from the obstinate position taken up by the railway company.
I do not think it is desirable for me at the present time to express any opinion.
asked whether the recent visit of Sir Antony MacDonnell was not with a view to arbitration, and, if so, whether he had reported the result of his inquiry.
Sir Antony MacDonnell went as a representative of the Government to ascertain facts for my information. I do not think I am at liberty to say more.
asked whether a full and complete inquiry would be made into the circumstances which had led to such disastrous results.
asked whether it was not the fact that the soldiers and the police had exercised the most wonderful self-control during the riots.
asked the right hon. Gentleman to say who were the civil authorities referred to who ordered out the military, seeing that the Lord Mayor did not consult the city magistrates or the city corporation.
asked whether the introduction of the military in Belfast was not chiefly owing to the extreme pressure brought to bear on both the local authorities and the Irish Office by the Shipping Federation, who wrote to the right hon. Gentleman on 25th July a threatening letter which contained the phrase that failing strong action by the Government they themselves would use force, that they would organise a force of their own, and whether the right hon. Gentleman had sent any reply to this letter depecating the use of such minatory language.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to the question I have put to him?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, considering the nature of the missiles used by the crowd in Belfast, and the fact that such crowd contained a large number of innocent women and children, he does not consider that the order to shoot by the troops with intent to kill was wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable?
I have a report here which tells the story related by the military commander, and I will read the details of it. It is dated the 12th, but it contains a narrative of what happened on the two days—
"Military report on the situation in Belfast during Saturday and Sunday, 10th and 11th August—
I have just received the following telegram—"Belfast, 12th August, 1907.—I have the honour to report that the troops were on picket duty in the streets on Saturday. All was quiet till about 12 noon, when a determined attack was made on some wagons of Messrs. Hughes in the Nationalist quarter in the Falls Road. Two pickets of the 1st Royal Berkshire Regi- ment came to help the police and formed a cordon across the street, afterwards falling in in rear of the wagons and escorting them down the road. The troops were greatly hampered in taking any offensive action, as three-quarters of the mob consisted of women and children, the men remaining in rear and throwing paving stones and broken bottles. Second Lieutenants Allfrey and Harvey and ten non-commissioned officers and men were cut about the head with missiles. The disturbance appeared purely local, and I am taking measures in concert with the police to guard against attacks on the pickets in this quarter. The conduct of the 1st Royal Berkshire pickets was admirable, all ranks showing the greatest forbearance and steadiness under the most trying circumstances. No troops were on picket duty yesterday (Sunday). At 7.15 p.m., however, an urgent telephonic communication was received from the Commissioner of Police that a serious riot had broken out again in the Falls Road district, and requesting that all available troops in the garrison should at once proceed to the vicinity. Within five minutes of the message being received all three battalions at Ormeau Park were under arms, the two battalions at Victoria Barracks and two troops of cavalry following shortly afterwards. On arrival at Cullingtree Police Barracks, which appeared to be the centre of the riot, the troops were halted. After consultation with the Commissioner of Police, it was decided to block the entrances to the streets to the north of the Grosvenor Road with a view to localising the disturbance, and also separating the Protestant and Catholic quarters north and south of the above road. A picket of fifty men of the 2nd Essex Regiment were ordered, in company with about twenty of the constabulary, to occupy a post about 150 yards north of the police barracks. The party were received with volleys of stones, and it was found necessary to clear the three worst streets at the point of the bayonet. The mob, however, did not await the charge, but fled down the streets, the inhabitants covering their escape by throwing stones, tin pots, filth, and other missiles from the upper windows. The charge, however, had a good moral effect, no further trouble taking place in this quarter. More stone-throwing took place at the picket of the 4th Middlesex Regiment guarding the debouches into the Grosvenor Road, and the cavalry had several times to clear the streets, followed up by parties of the infantry. The rioting gradually ceased, and about twelve midnight all troops returned to quarters. I regret to say that one officer (Second Lieutenant Passingham, 4th Middlesex Regiment) and seventeen hon commissioned officers and men are under medical treatment, all suffering more or less severely from contused wounds, chiefly in the head, caused by paving stones thrown at distances of nine or ten yards. The brunt of the fighting fell on the 4th Middlesex Regiment, two troops 3rd Dragoon Guards, and a picket of the 2nd Essex Regiment, mentioned above. The conduct of these corps was admirable, and there was never the slightest sign of the troops getting out of hand, though they often had to stand being mercilessly pelted at short ranges without being allowed to retaliate. The police co-operated splendidly with the troops, and some twenty arrests were made. Some portable searchlights would be of the greatest assistance and would save many casualties, as prior to commencing operations the mob extinguishes all street lamps. Wires and ropes were also fixed across the streets to impede the cavalry."
"Victoria Barracks, Belfast, 13th August, 1907.—Serious rioting last night. At 5 30 p.m. I placed troops in five posts round disaffected area with orders not to expose men unless necessary and keep rioters in their own quarter of city. Reserve at Ormean Park and Victoria Barracks. Mob attacked and broke all windows of Cullingtree Road Police Barracks. Rifle Brigade charged out and made twenty-five prisoners. This moved mob to Palls Road Barracks. Here the picket was so hardly pressed that the magistrate ordered troops to tire. Seven rounds were fired, three people killed, one, I regret to say, a woman, and several wounded. Reinforcements arrived about 8.15., and troops were able to hold their own. About 12.30 the troops returned to barracks, leaving a detachment at Falls Road, which left for barracks at 1.30; casualties fifteen, only three of these serious."
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us who is the local authority who ordered out these troops? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Lord Mayor did not consult the city magistrates nor did he consult the corporation; and I will further ask him can the Lord Mayor of a city call out the military on his personal responsibility?
I must have notice of that Question. The conditions under which the troops were called out are laid down in the King's Regulations.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my colleagues and myself on these benches have counselled peaceful behaviour during the whole strike?
I have no reason to doubt that. My opinion is that the people who have been taking part in these lamentable attacks are not strike workmen.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my Question, whether he knows that a Member of this House advocated to the people of Belfast that they should throw broken bottles at the troops if they had not swords or guns, and what action he proposes to take to prosecute that Member?
For inciting to riot.
Is it not a fact that this speech was delivered in England, and that England is not within the jurisdiction of the Chief Secretary for Ireland?
The matters which are engaging my attention and also the attention of the people of Belfast have not allowed me a moment to pay attention to the wild language which has been used, and to which no importance is attached in Belfast. The hon. Member paid a hasty visit to Belfast and disappeared very soon. Belfast people with all their faults are not likely to take any guidance from him. With reference to the letter that was addressed to me by the Shipping Federation, I dare say its terms were not very proper, and I have pointed out that in my reply. But I can say for myself that no pressure was put upon me or on any of us by the terms of that letter.