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Questions In The House

Volume 180: debated on Wednesday 14 August 1907

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Turnchapel Coaling Depot

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether there is any intention of proceeding immediately with the work involved in the establishment of a new coaling depot and fuelling depot for submarines at Turnchapel, near Plymouth.

Work on the coaling depot was started a considerable time ago, and is in hand now. Tenders will be invited shortly for the construction of the Fuel Oil Depot.

Battleship Collision


I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether a collision between the new battleships "Commonwealth" and "Albemarle" occurred early this year, resulting in severe damage to the former; whether he can state what was the Report of the Court of Inquiry which was held into the circumstances; whether the Report of the Court was accompanied by a covering letter from the Commander-in-Chief; and, if so, what was the nature of that Report and what was the final decision of the Board of Admiralty in the matter.

The Commander-in-Chief, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Arthur Wilson, reported that it was not in his opinion a case for court-martial, and the Board of Admiralty were of the same opinion.


Will the right hon Gentleman answer my Question as to the Court of Inquiry?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will not answer my Question why information of a precisely similar kind asked for in this House by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs was given him by the Admiralty to use against another hon. Member of this House?

That is a totally different Question. I have answered the hon. Member's Question. The Commander-in-Chief reported that it was not, in his opinion, a case for court-martial, and the Board of Admiralty were of the same opinion.


May I ask, does the Tight hon. Gentleman consider that an Answer to the paragraph which asks what was the Report of the Court of Inquiry which was held into the circumstances.

As I have said, the Commander-in-Chief reported that it was not, in his opinion, a case for court-martial, and the Board of Admiralty are of the same opinion.

Part of the Question is whether the Report of the Court was accompanied by a covering letter from the Commander-in-Chief, and what was the nature of that Report.

The hon. Gentleman really has not answered the Question.

The Home Fleet

I beg to ask the secretary to the Admiralty, what is the number of ships now forming the Home Fleet: of these, how many were present at the recent review at Portsmouth and afterwards proceeded to sea?

The Answer to the first part of the Question is 219 vessels, excluding submarines. One hundred and seventy of these, together with fifteen submarines, assembled at Cowes, all of which except four proceeded to sea after the inspection.

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what ships of the Home Fleet were engaged in the recent manœuvres in the Channel; what was the duration of these manœuvres, and will there be any further exercise of the Fleet at sea in the course of the present year; and, if so, when may it be expected?

One hundred and sixty-six vessels of the Home Fleet were engaged in exercises for two days in the Channel after leaving the Solent. Vessels from the Home Fleet will take part in fleet exercises in October next.

The Channel Fleet

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, if it is proposed to make any addition to the Channel Fleet; if so, what ships will be affected; from what divisions are they to be drawn; and what steps will be taken to replace the ships thus transferred?

The armoured cruisers "Black Prince" and "Duke of Edinburgh" will be added to the First Cruiser Squadron, and the two destroyer flotillas at Portland, with their attendant vessels, will be attached to the Channel Fleet for the present. The "Black Prince" is now in the Second Cruiser Squadron, and will be replaced there by the "Carnarvon." The "Duke of Edinburgh" comes from the Fifth Cruiser Squadron, and will be replaced shortly. The destroyers, which have hitherto formed part of the Home Fleet, are merely transferred to another command, and it is not at present intended to increase the total number of active service destroyers in Home waters in view of the large number with four-fifths crews which are attached to the Home Fleet?

Is it in contemplation to transfer any battleships to the Channel Fleet?

No, Sir. I have said the armoured cruisers "Black Prince" and "Duke of Edinburgh" are to be transferred.

Militia Stores

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that his predecessors have relieved a considerable proportion of the counties in Scotland of their liabilities, under the Militia Act of 1854, to provide stores and quarters for Militia battalions; and whether, in view of that partial relief, he will, when completing arrangements consequential upon the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, consider whether an equitable agreement can be come to under which the remaining Scottish counties will be relieved of their obligations under the Act of 1854 to provide or maintain Militia stores and quarters.

The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regards the rest of the Question, the whole matter is now receiving careful consideration.

Mufti Regulations

I beg to ask the' Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the possibility of extending the privilege of, under certain circumstances, wearing plain clothes, now granted to warrant officers and non-commissioned officers not below the rank of colour-sergeants, to men of lower ranks of good character.

The extension of the privilege to wear plain clothes has only recently been made to certain classes of non - commissioned officers. Soldiers of good character are under existing regulations permitted at the discretion of their Commanding Officer to wear plain clothes on pass or furlough beyond the limits of the garrison in which they are quartered. It is not proposed to further extend this privilege.

Tidworth Cavalry Stables

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the new cavalry stables at Tidworth have yet been commenced.

It is understood that the contractor will commence building operations next week.

We have been told for the last two months that the work is about to be commenced.

The Scots Greys

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War on what date it is proposed to move the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) from Tidworth to Bulford; and for how long a period they will be stationed at the latter camp. I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for War whether sufficient accommodation exists at Bulford mounted infantry camp for the whole of the personnel and horses of the 2nd Dragoons.

As regards these Questions there is no intention of moving this regiment to Bulford.

Are we to understand that the regiment is to remain at Tidworth throughout the winter? Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that on a former occasion he informed me that, if the barracks were not completed before the winter, the regiment would be temporarily removed?

The noble Lord is to understand nothing of the kind. The horses will go to Bulford, if the stables are not ready in time. There is plenty of accommodation at Tidworth for the men. I must add that I am surprised at the number of Questions put to me about this matter. I know the gallant officers and men of the Scots Greys, and do not for a moment suppose they are so effeminate—[Laughter, which drowned the end of the sentence].

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his comment upon my Question. Is he aware that the distance from Tidworth to Bulford is five miles; and how does he suppose the squadron leaders are going to look after the men with the horses at Bulford during the winter months when they themselves are stationed at Tidworth?

They will have to suffer a little inconvenience. At the urgent request of the hon. Gentleman and other Members, we moved this regiment from Piershill because the barracks were not sufficient and not sanitary. Necessarily this involved a little time before arrangements could be made under circumstances of great pressure. I am sure the regiment would be themselves the last to complain.

Do we understand that the regiment is to be quartered five miles away from their horses during the winter?

You are to understand that; and the soldiers are thankful that they have not to put up with worse hardships.

asked what arrangements the War Office proposed to make for the horses to be looked after at Bulford during the night? Were the men to sleep in huts or tents?

Cavalry Barracks

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what reasons have led the War Office to depart from their previous policy of stationing cavalry in cavalry barracks.

The Aliwal Barracks at Tidworth are being adapted for cavalry by provision of the necessary stables. There is no question of previous policy involved.

Medals For Meritorious Service

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the awards of the meritorious conduct modal are made only to officers and non-commissioned officers above the rank of corporal; and, if so, whether there is any reason why the medal should not also be given to corporals and private soldiers.

The medal for meritorious service is not awarded to officers, but only to warrant officers and sergeants. It carries with it an annuity not exceeding £20, and since its institution has always been confined to soldiers, or discharged soldiers, above the rank of corporal. The sum allotted for these annuities is not more than sufficient to meet the claims of warrant officers and sergeants. Corporals and privates may, after eighteen years service with an irreproachable character, be awarded the medal for long service and good conduct with a gratuity of £5.

The New County Associations

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to take-steps to form County Association" throughout the Kingdom simultaneously or only in selected areas.

I shall endeavour to start an association for every county in Great Britain during the coming autumn and winter. I have appointed a special Committee to assist me in this work.

India And The Sugar Convention

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will now have printed and distributed with the Votes the petitions presented from public bodies in India concerning the Sugar Convention, following the precedent of the Colonial Office.

Perhaps the hon. Member will move for the Papers. They will then be laid.

Panama Canal Labour

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the labourers engaged in the British West Indies for work on the Panama Isthmian Canal were informed that they would be permitted to taka with them their wives and families.

No, Sir, not so far as I am aware.

Transvaal Finance

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies when the full statement of the financial position of the Transvaal, which he promised to lay before the House, will be issued.

The Papers which were laid on Monday are expected to be issued in the course of this evening.

Transvaal Courts Of Law—Access Of Natives

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government have now received from the Transvaal any reply to their telegraphic inquiry as to the Bill 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 tribes can be transferred against their will from one district to another.

The Secretary of State is still awaiting an official answer to his inquiry. It would, however, appear from Press telegrams that the part of the Bill to which the right hon. Gentleman refers has been withdrawn.

South African Federation

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, having regard to the publication of the Command Paper on South African Federation, and the reasons urged in it for the union of the South African Colonies, His Majesty's Government propose to take any action in the matter.

The Papers were published for the information of Parliament. It is for the people and the Government of South Africa to decide when and how any further advance in the direction of federation shall be made.

Do the Government contemplate offering advice or assistance in the matter?

The Government will certainly give any assistance they can, bearing in mind, however, it is for them to follow and not initiate.

Isthmian Canal Commission

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the circumstances under which it was lately held that the courts in the canal zone have no jurisdiction against the Isthmian Canal Commission for breach of contract.

(Mr. RUNCIMAN, Dewsbury; for Sir EDWARD GREY)

My right hon. friend must refer the hon. Member to the reply returned to the hon. Member for Ecclesall on this subject yesterday.

Post Office Savings Bank Depositors— Investment In Consols

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the case of a Welsh quarryman whose savings in the Post Office Savings Bank, having reached the maximum sum allowed to be deposited, were from time to time, upon the advice of the postmaster invested in the purchase of Consols, and to the fact that in this way a sum of £500 was so invested at prices considerably over par, and that the quarryman in question, having now an opportunity of purchasing his home, finds that such Consols, if now sold, would realise only about £400; and whether he will arrange with the Postmaster-General that instructions shall be issued to local postmasters to the effect that, when advising depositors to invest their savings in Consols, they shall be informed of the risk of fluctuations in the market price of the same, and that there is no guarantee that, when wishing to realise, they will be be able to obtain a price equivalent to their investments.

No, Sir. My attention has not been called to the case referred to; but the official notices relating to the purchases of Government Stock through the Post Office Savings Bank clearly state that the Postmaster-General cannot take the responsibility of advising depositors with reference to their transactions or for any loss which may result from a fall in the price of the Stock between the dates of purchase and sale. If any postmaster has advised individual depositors otherwise, he has clearly been guilty of a breach of duty, of which due note will be taken, if the allegation is substantiated.

Post Office Purchases Of Consols

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state in detail what amount of Consols, then bearing interest at 2¾ per cent., were purchased on account of the Post Office Savings Bank in the year 1897, and at what prices.

The total nominal amount of Consols purchased on account of the Post Office Savings Bank Fund in 1897 was, as shown by the Return, House of Commons 108 of 1905, £6, 349, 485 11s. 9d. and the average price paid was £112 6s. I do not think that any purpose of public interest would be served by setting out in detail each separate transaction.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give me the highest price paid in 1897 for Consols?

Trustee Savings Bank

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been directed to a statement made by Mr. Gladstone in this House on 18th June, 1880, with reference to the Trustee Savings Bank, that the annual account is naturally and reasonably based upon the price of public securities on the day when the account is taken; and can he explain why the method of valuation which was natural and reasonable in 1880 is now abandoned.

I am aware of the statement referred to. It is fair to point out that it occurred in a speech in which Mr. Gladstone proposed to adopt a different method in place of that of market-price valuation. In recent years, as I have frequently explained, the publication of these valuations has been discontinued in accordance with the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1902.

Savings Banks

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the fact that while it is on all hands admitted that the savings bank should be self-supporting, there are, at the present time, deficiencies in the capital accounts of the Post Office Savings Bank, the Trustees' Savings Bank, and friendly societies, estimated, in the absence of official balance sheets, to amount to at least £15, 000, 000; that the interest on the securities held fell short last year by £133, 000 of the united amounts of interest paid and working expenses; that while the banks are liable to the public for upwards of £200, 000, 000 they hold no reserve to meet claims; and whether, having regard to the foregoing facts, he will consider the advisability of appointing early next session a Select Committee to inquire into the whole question for the purpose of suggesting a means whereby the banks may be restored to a solvent condition.

The hon. Member's calculation of the capital deficiency rests upon the method of valuation of securities at current market price, which was condemned as misleading by the Select Committee of 1902. As regards the deficiencies of annual income of the Savings Banks Funds, it must be borne in mind that in the case of the Post Office Savings Banks the Exchequer has gained considerably more from the surpluses on that account in former years than it has had to provide to make good the deficiencies of recent years; while the deficiency on the Trustee Savings Banks Account last year was less than £10, 000, and is being gradually reduced.

Inland Revenue Department

I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer the following Question, of which I have given him private notice:—Whether his attention has been called to a report on the work and organisation of the Inland Revenue Department published in the daily Press on the 12th inst., and purporting to be prepared at the request of the right hon. Gentleman; whether such report has official sanction; and if this report, apparently reflecting upon the honour, honesty, and competency, among others, of the assessors and collectors of Government taxes, represents the opinion of the Board of Inland Revenue.

My attention has been called to this matter. I understand that my hon. friend the Member for Cheltenham has since written to the Press explaining that the suggestion that the report in question was prepared or published at my request is wholly without foundation. It simply formulates a number of allegations and suggestions which my hon. friend has made from time to time, and for which he alone is answerable. I disclaim for myself and for the Board of Inland Revenue all responsibility for what it contains.

Metropolitan Police

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will be prepared to sanction the formation of a Metropolitan Police Association and, if formed, to recognise the association, in order that the members of the Metropolitan Police Force may be able to approach him, or the Chief Commissioner, jointly, and thus be on the same footing as Post Office or other Government servants whose associations are recognised by the heads of the several Government Departments under whom they serve.

No, Sir. The public safety depends on the discipline and obedience of the police—a fact which I am confident is fully recognised by the police—and such an association might tend to impair the ready obedience to orders which is essential in a highly disciplined force. The police can and do submit their grievances if they have any to the Commissioner and through him to the Home Secretary, and the admirable character and services of the force constitute an added claim for the prompt consideration of all reasonable representations which the Commissioner and the Home Secretary are always ready to give to them.

Lambeth Licensing Prosecution

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a statement by a police inspector in a recent case at the Lambeth police court to the effect that the Commissioner of Police had issued an order directing that a licensed victualler, charged with selling intoxicating liquor to a drunken person, was not to be permitted to have such person examined by a private doctor; and will he say whether such order has been issued, and, if so, whether it has received the sanction of the Home Office.

There is a rule in operation to the effect that in cases of drunkenness medical men are called in at the instance of the person charged, but not at the instance of third parties. As a considerable time must always elapse between the discovery of a drunken person on licensed premises and the decision to issue a summons against the licensee, there would seldom be anything gained by allowing a licensee against whom a charge has been made to have the person who was drunk examined by his own medical man. To meet the case so far as possible, however, there is a rule that when proceedings are likely to be taken against a licensee, the divisional surgeon of police is to be called in to examine the drunken person. The working of the Rules I have mentioned is under my consideration.

Antwerp Strike

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that on the 3rd instant a vessel from Antwerp was loaded with workmen at the Royal Albert Dock, London, for conveyance to Antwep to take the place of workmen on strike, each man selected to go being stamped with an indiarubber stamp; and whether he can take any steps to stop this practice in the interests of the good name of the country.

I have no information on this matter other than that contained in the hon. Member's Question, but in any case I have no authority to interfere.

Calf Lymph Production

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, in view of the fact that a sum of £1, 350 is set down on the current Estimates for the hire of calves for the production of glycerinated calf lymph, will he state the number of calves hired for this sum and the average age of calves so hired.

The sum of £1, 350 is the amount estimated to be required for the hire of calves during the current year. The number of calves hired will depend on the number found to be necessary from time to time during the year, and it cannot at present be stated what that number will be. The number hired up to 30th June last was 203. The average age of the calves hired last year was four months.

Why does the right hon. Gentleman estimate for £1, 350 this year, which is double the amount found necessary for last year? Does he anticipate a terrible outlay for small pox?

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, in view of the fact that during the last financial year the Board paid a sum of £860 17s. 6d. in respect of the hire of 505 calves for the production of glycerinated calf lymph, and that these calves were not on hire for more than a fortnight, whether he will explain why the Board find it necessary to pay so large a sum as 34s. for the use of a calf for a fortnight.

Before the lymph obtained from any calf is used, the calf is slaughtered and the carcase andergoes dissection and examination in order that it may be ascertained that the animal was in perfect health and free from any taint of tuberculosis. The amount paid includes a sum for the depreciation of the value of the carcase owing to the post-mortem examination. It has not been found practicable to obtain suitable calves at less terms than those now paid.

Victoria And Albert Museum

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he is now in a position to make any statement as to the appointment of a Consultative Committee for the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The matter has been having my careful consideration, and I am now in communication with the Treasury about it. I hope to have arrived at a satisfactory organisation in the early autumn, but am not yet in a position to make any statement, as the matter is still incomplete.

Merioneth Schools Disputes

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he will lay upon the Table a copy of the correspondence which has passed between the Board and the Merionethshire local education authority relative to the payment of the salaries of the teachers in the non-provided schools-there.

This correspondence is still proceeding. When it is complete I shall be happy to lay it upon the Table.

Education Examiners

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether in that office promotion by merit to the Higher Division or Examiners' Class is absolutely barred to Second Division clerks; whether in the outdoor staff a similar barrier exists in practice between the inspectors and sub-inspectors; whether the examiners and inspectors are appointed by nomination without examination; and, if so, whether he will take steps to modify the existing system of appointment and promotion.

The replies to the first and second paragraphs of the Question are in the negative, and to the third in the affirmative. The Question in the fourth paragraph, therefore, does not arise as regards promotion; while, as regards appointment, it has been having my consideration, but I am not prepared: to make any statement in regard to this.

School Accommodation Regulations

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether, in provided schools, the limit of accommodation sanctioned by the Board is the seating at desks and benches, or 10 square feet of area per child; whether, in non-provided schools, the limit allowed is constantly 8 square feet per child; and, if so, why a child in a non-provided school requires less space than one in a provided school; and whether he can state the number of cases in which additional accommodation would be necessary if 10 square feet were required in every school, and the approximate cost to the rates.

My hon. friend will find on page 7 of the List of Public Elementary Schools recently issued by the Board of Education (Cd. 3510 of 1907) an account of the principles upon which the accommodation of schools has been settled in the past. Speaking generally, all schools or class-rooms which were originally recognised subsequent to 1890 are assessed on the 10 square feet basis for older children, and on either the 8 square feet or 9 square feet basis for infants. Schools erected prior to 1890 with the aid of a loan were also assessed on the 10 square feet basis, but there are a considerable number of council schools whose accommodation is calculated at 8 square feet per child. I have no information as to the last paragraph, but I am taking steps to obtain it.

Dundee Postal Staff

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he is able to state an approximate date when the revision in the sorting office at Dundee, which has been under consideration for some eighteen months, is likely to come into effect. I beg also to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has decided that the telegraph branch of Dundee is overstaffed; if so, how many appointments are to be allowed to lapse, and how many hours overtime were worked in that department during last year; and, seeing that there are several learners, several of whom have service of three and a half years, will he see that they are appointed before any appointments are allowed to lapse and that the four vacancies which exist at present are filled without undue delay.

It will be convenient to deal with the hon. Member's two Questions together. The settlement of the revision of the Dundee Post Office, a matter of much intricacy, has been delayed owing to the necessity of considering it in connection with questions of a general nature which have been occupying attention. I am unable to mention any approximate date; but the hon. Member may rest assured that the matter will be carried through as soon as circumstances permit. In the meantime I am unable to furnish details on some of the points raised by the hon. Member, and I will communicate with him on the subject.

Confidential Reports In The Post Office

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will extend to officers of all grades in the Post Office similar regulations to those already in force in the Army, Navy, and Royal Marines, which require that an annual confidential report by superior officers on a subordinate, which is of an adverse character and affects his fitness for his present position or for promotion to a higher one, shall be read verbatim to him by his superior officer; and whether the Postmaster-General will direct the heads of departments to communicate to a subordinate the result of a report which is held to prejudice his chances of further advancement in the service; and, if so, whether a copy of such instructions will be laid upon the Table of the House at the same time they are promulgated.

As the hon. Member is aware the question of confidential reporting in the Post Office has lately received the consideration of the Select Committee on Post Office Servants of which he was a member, and my right hon. friend will give their recommendations careful consideration. I may add it is somewhat unreasonable to expect the Postmaster-General to answer questions in reference to this Report in a space of a few weeks, considering the intricate questions it deals with, questions which it took the Committee two years to report on.

Valuation Of Scottish Sheep Stocks

I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somersetshire, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the President of the Board of Agriculture has yet come to any decision with regard to the valuation of sheep stocks in Scotland under The Agricultural Holdings Act, 1906; and, if so, will he give this House particulars as to the result.

The question to which my hon. friend refers is receiving very careful consideration at the hands of the Government, but we are not yet in a position to make any further statement respecting it. We shall, however, endeavour to do so with the least possible delay. I may add that the question is somewhat more complicated than might be supposed, inasmuch as the answer to be given in each case depends upon the terms of the agreement or lease, and these are by no means uniform.

The Public Trustee

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in accordance with the provisions of Subection 3 of Section 8 of the Public Trustee Act, the Treasury has required that the Public Trustee shall be a person already in the public service.

Am I to gather from that Answer that, inasmuch as the Treasury have not exercised their statutory powers of requiring that a Public Trustee should be a gentleman already in the public service, they agree with the view of the Lord Chancellor that the chairman of Allsopp's Brewery is the best qualified person available for that post?

I do not know exactly what the view of the Lord Chancellor is. I, at all events, concur in it.

Neath Land Tax Commissioners

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that Mr. Thomas Leyson, as clerk to the Land Tax Commissioners for the division of Neath, in the county of Glamorgan, convened a meeting of the Land Tax Commissioners for that division for 30th January, 1907, by advertisement in the London Gazette, but did not send a notice of such meeting to each of the Land Tax Commissioners for such division as provided by The Land Tax Commissioners Act, 1906; whether he is aware that the said clerk alleges that, at a meeting held in pursuance of the notice by advertisement in the London Gazette on the said 30th January, twelve persons were appointed to be General Commissioners of Income Tax to supply vacancies in the list of General Commissioners of Income Tax for the said division; whether he will ascertain if, in fact, any such meeting was held, and who were present thereat; whether, if such a meeting was held, appointments of General Commissioners of Income Tax made thereat are valid; and if the appointments, if any, made at the said meeting are invalid, will he take steps to secure the proper appointment of General Commissioners of Income Tax for the said division.

The Act of last session did not impose on the clerk to the Land Tax Commissioners the duty of giving notice of all meetings to each Commissioner. The Act directs that this notice is to be given in such manner as the Treasury may prescribe. It is true that the Regulations which the Treasury issued under the Act have now imposed this duty on the Clerk, but at the time when application for this meeting was made to the Board of Inland Revenue and indeed when the meeting was actually held the Treasury regulations had not been issued and the meeting was accordingly convened in the ordinary way, after notice had been duly inserted in the Gazette. In these circumstances the Board of Inland Revenue have been advised that the appointments made at the meeting were valid.

Customs Statistical Assistant Clerks

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether a Treasury letter, dated 4th June, 1907, has been communicated to the assistant clerks (new class) in the Statistical Office, Customs, threatening them with punishment unless they withdrew the charge they have made that the conditions under which they were induced to enter the Civil Service are not being observed; whether the assistant clerks in reply have fowarded a memorial to the Commissioners of Customs for transmission to the Treasury in which they directly traverse the accuracy of the statements contained in the Treasury letter, repeat their charge, and attach copies of official documents in substantiation of their statements; and, if so, whether this reply has been received at the Treasury.

NO threat of punishment was held out in the communication to which the hon. Member refers. The Treasury have merely declined to consider any applications from the clerks in question for special promotion, until the charge of a "breach of faith" has been withdrawn; and I see no reason to depart from that decision.

Civil Service Old Writers

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the old writers who have been recently discharged from the Civil Service average over seventy-five years of age and over thirty-five years service; and whether he will grant them any further gratuity beyond £100 each.

The subject of these old writers was fully dealt with by my predecessor last year both by way of Answers in this House to Questions by my hon. friend, and by correspondence. I fully concur in the view which he took of the case, and I fear that I must decline to re-open the question.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman apply to these cases the precedent set in the cases of Lord Roberts and Lord Cromer?

[No Answer was returned.]

Select Committee On Post Office Servants Report

I beg to ask the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Bristol a Question of which I have given him private notice. It is as to a statement by Mr. W. B. Cheesman, of the Fawcett Association, that the Report of the Hob-house Committee was so revised by the Department before its presentation to Parliament as to make it unrecognisable. I wish to know if there is any foundation for that statement.

(Mr. CHARLES HOBHOUSE, ]]]]HS_COL-1310]]]] Bristol, E.)

I have seen the statement referred to. Mr. Cheesman was a witness before the Committee on behalf of the Fawcett Association, which is the organisation of the sorters in London. There is absolutely no truth in the statement attributed to him that the Report was sent to the Department for revision, or that it was revised by them. I, as Chairman of the Committee, prepared the Report in accordance with decisions taken upon each class of evidence, within a few days of hearing the witnesses thereon; though the task of summarising and collating the decisions necessarily occupied a long-period of time subsequently. There is no substantial difference between the decisions thus originally taken and those embodied in the Report, though, as the House will understand, decisions taken on very numerous and complex scales of pay were and could be only provisional, and required in some cases modification, and in others augmentation, when the earlier decisions came to be reviewed in the light of the later ones. Calculations were made for me by the financial experts as to the total cost of each alteration in the conditions of service or scales of pay, though, as I have pointed out, these were not permitted to affect the Draft Report. This was done with the approval of my colleagues, though the results were expressly not communicated to them, lost bias from financial considerations should subsequently be suggested. I would further mention that it is expressly pointed out in paragraph 530 of the Report that the Department were asked to work out the details of a scheme, the principles of which were originated by the Committee. The scheme subsequently presented by the Department was considerably altered in the Draft Report, to the advantage of the staff. A further statement has appeared in the Press that before the Report was submitted to the Committee, copies of it were sent to the Cabinet. This statement is without any foundation or truth. No copies of the Report were given or sent, so far as I know, to anyone save members of the Committee. If copies of the draft or completed Report have reached anyone before the Report was laid on the Table, they were procured by improper and underhand methods, without my knowledge and against my wish, and, as I am assured, contrary to the desire of the other members of the Committee.

Deceased Wife's Sister Bill

asked the Chairman of the Committee on Petitions what was the number of petitions presented for and against the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill.

replied that one petition had been received in favour of the Bill; 129 against, bearing 7, 724 signatures.

Irish Teachers' Grievances

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he has recommended to the consideration of the Education Board the grievances which national school teachers suffer under by the abuse of the arbitrary power of dismissal vested in the managers: and, if so, can he state with what result.

Yes, Sir, I communicated to the Commissioners of National Education an expression of the Irish Government's opinion that, if it were at all possible, effect should be given to the desire of the teachers for some protection against arbitrary dismissal. The Commissioners subsequently informed me that they had specially considered the matter. They think it desirable that a referee should be available in the case of dismissal of teachers, and two out of the four forms of agreement between managers and teachers which are in use provide for the appointment of a referee. The Commissioners, however, hold that they have no power to compel managers to adopt a form of agreement containing that provision.

In answer to a further Question—

said the Commissioners submit these forms of agreement, and use such influence as they have to persuade the managers to adopt one form or the other, but they have no power to compel them to do so.

Irish National Education Board

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will give the dates on which meetings of the National Education Board have been held between the 1st July, 1906, and 30th June, 1907; the names of the Commissioners present at each of these meetings; the number of meetings attended by each of the twenty Commissioners during the twelve months in question; and the remuneration in the way of salary or expenses, etc., paid to each Commissioner for each meeting attended.

The Answer to this Question consists mainly of a lengthy tabular statement which it would be more convenient to publish with tonight's Votes, and with the hon. Member's permission I will adopt that course.

Knox Estate, Sligo

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the tenantry on the Knox estate, situate in Geevagh, near Rivers-town, in the county of Sligo, have recently endeavoured to purchase their holdings from the landlord, Utred A-Knox, Esq.; whether he is aware that these offers of the tenants have been rejected by the landlord, who is an absentee; and whether, seeing that the landlord refuses to sell only on the basis of prohibitive prices, the Estates Commissioners will be asked to intervene with the view of bringing about a sale in this case.

The Estates Commissioners have no information in respect of the estate referred to. If, however, it be the case that the parties have failed to agree as to terms of sale, the Commissioners will, on being furnished with particulars, consider whether the case is one in which they might usefully offer their services as conciliators under the regulations.

Irish Teachers' Civil Rights

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Commissioners of National Education have taken any action in the direction of carrying out the Chief Secretary's recommendation in favour of restoring civil rights to the teachers.

The reply is in the negative. For full particulars I would refer to the Answer which I gave to the hon. Member for East Kerry on 13th May.†

Irish Education Code

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will ask the Commissioners of National Education to make arrangements whereby their codes and syllabuses will be laid upon the Table of the House of Commons for, say, one month before coming into operation.

The Commissioners of National Education inform me that it has never been the practice to place upon the Table of the House of Commons their codes and syllabuses, and that they see no reason for making a new departure in the matter.

They simply stated that it had never been their practice. I think, however, it would be a desirable thing if they were to do it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to the Commissioners to that effect?

Lismore Union Clerkship

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Local Government Board have sanctioned the appointment of an uncertificated bankrupt to the clerkship of the Lismore Union; whether the person appointed was connected with the Tallow conspiracy; and, if so, whether there is any precedent for the appointment of an undischarged bankrupt to such a position.

It is the fact that the clerk in question was, more than four years ago, in company with a number of other persons, cast in heavy damages in a civil action for what was known as the Tallow conspiracy, and was made a

† See (4) Debates, clxxiv., 581.
bankrupt in respect of the judgment debt and costs. I am not aware of any former precedent, but the Local Government Board, after full consideration and seeing the clerk in question, have not thought fit to refuse their sanction to the appointment.

May I ask what circumstances have arisen to justify that action in view of the fact that the late Chief Secretary (Mr. Bryce) refused to sanction the appointment of a man guilty of a criminal conspiracy.

The hon. Gentleman does not say that at all, but there are circumstances connected with every case which require consideration and the debt in respect of which this man was made a bankrupt was of such a character as to amount to the perpetual exclusion of him for life from any such service as this. After full consideration the Local Government Board came to the conclusion that they saw no reason why, in this particular case at all events, sanction should not be given.

Then the right hon. Gentleman does not deny that the man was guilty of a criminal conspiracy?

Will the right hon. Gentleman state what were the reasons given by the Court for declining to give him his discharge in bankruptcy?

I should like to have notice of that Question. But I quite agree that the refusal may have been made when application was made to obtain his discharge, but even as to that I am not quite sure. All I can say is that I gave the matter a most careful consideration. I have seen the gentleman in question. I placed myself in communication with him and I came to the conclusion that he was a perfectly qualified person to discharge the duties of this office to which he was nominated, not by me but by the Board.

Ballindereen Outrage

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has received information respecting the firing at Patrick Sheehan, of Ballindereen, when returning from Galway on 5th August; whether Sheehan was wounded; whether he has been fired at previously; and whether any arrests have been made in connection with this outrage.

Yes, Sir. Patrick Sheehan was fired at when returning from Galway on the night of the 5th August. He received several grains of shot in the hand and leg. He had not been fired at previously, but his house was fired into upwards of a year ago. No arrests have been made in connection with the present outrage. The night was dark and Sheehan did not see his assailants.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why no arrests have been made? Have the police made no endeavour to make arrests?

Yes, the police have made every endeavour, but if you are shot on a dark night by persons you do not see it is not always possible to make arrests.

Are there so many suspects in this district that the police have no idea as to possible identity?

[No Answer was returned.]

Borrisokane Cattle Driving Prosecution

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the proceedings at Borrisokane petty sessions on 7th August in connection with the charge against twenty men of illegal assembly, trespass, and driving cattle off the grazing lands of Lisnagower and Spring Park; will he state the result of the prosecution and how many magistrates were on the bench; and what further proceedings are to be taken.

There were two cases of unlawful assembly for hearing at the petty sessions referred to, and there were fifteen defendants in one case and eleven in the other. One case was fully heard, with the result that the bench was equally divided in opinion, and the case was therefore adjourned. Owing to the lateness of the hour the second case was also adjourned. The Court consisted of sixteen magistrates. The cases will be heard at the next petty sessions on the 4th proximo.

Ahascragh School

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that some time on the 5th and 7th instant the Weston schoolhouse, at Ahascragh, near Ballinasloe, which is used as a parochial hall, was broken into and wanton destruction committed both to the building and its contents; and whether the police have any clue as to the motive for the outrage or the perpetrators.

The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative, and to the second part in the negative.

Ballyshannon Cattle Driving

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that gates were removed recently from a grazing farm near Ballyshannon, and a thick stone wall levelled and the cattle driven off the lands; whether police have been drafted from this neighbourhood for service in Belfast; and whether the authorities have any information as to the perpetrators or the object of the outrage.

The police authorities inform me that the facts are as stated in the Question. Three constables were recently transferred from Ballyshannon to the north of Ireland, but their places have been filled up. The police have not succeeded in tracing the offenders.

Ballinamore Disturbances

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the circumstances connected with a charge brought against thirteen men at Ballinamore, county Leitrim, of resisting the service of writs; is he aware that the men were armed with pitchforks hedgeknives, scythes tied on the tops of stakes, and other implements, and they successfully defied the officers of the law; will he state the result of the prosecution; and whether he is aware that many magistrates are afraid to do their duty in such cases.

At Ballinamore Petty Session, on 27th July, proceedings were taken by the police against thirteen men with the object of requiring them to find sureties to be of good behaviour. The evidence was to the general effect stated in the Question. The magistrates by a majority refused the application. I am not aware of any foundation for the suggestion contained in the concluding part of the Question.

Tullamore Grazing Farm

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that the Estates Commissioners, some fifteen months ago, completed the purchase of a large grazing farm, the property of Messrs. Denning, about four miles from Tullamore, and divided it among adjoining small farmers without payment, but subject to purchase annuities, and that one of these tenants has just sold his allotment for £100 while retaining his original farm; and whether, seeing that the fact that the allotment is now in the possession of one occupier and the farm in that of another has defeated the purpose of the transaction, he proposes to take any, and, if any, what action in the matter.

The Estates Commissioners inform me that they have no knowledge of a sale by any of the purchasers in question, but if the hon. and learned Member will give the name of the person to whom he refers, the Commissioners will make inquiries in the matter.

The Belfast Riots

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has any further information to place before the House with regard to the condition of affairs in Belfast.

I am glad to be able to report that from information I received last night it was quiet in Belfast and things are looking well this morning-Representatives of the Board of Trade have arrived and are busily engaged in holding a conference. I have every hope that a speedy agreement may be arrived at.

Loch Shieldaig Salmon Prosecution

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland, in view of the fact that the expenses incurred in the prosecution of two men for being in a boat at sea at Loch Shieldaig, Ross-shire, on the 14th and 21st May, on a charge of intent to take salmon, were defrayed by the Local Fishery Board, will he state the names of the members of that Board and when it was constituted.

The Board, which was constituted in 1888, consists of Mr. Murray of Loch Carron, and the Earl of Lovelace.

Closure By Compartments

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the views expressed by Members of all political Parties and by members of the Government on behalf of the Government as to the defects and disadvantages of closure by compartments, he can make any announcement which would lead to at least the hope that he will ask the House early next Session to consider the establishment of a Committee of Public Business.

(Sir H. CAMBPELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)

The matter will be duly considered during the Recess.