Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 42: debated on Tuesday 22 October 1912

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

House Of Commons

Tuesday, 22nd October, 1912.

The House met at a Quarter before Three of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Private Business

Gas Orders Confirmation (No. 1) Bill [ Lords](by Order).

Third Reading deferred till To-morrow.

Shops Act, 1912

Copy presented of Order made by the Council of the borough of Eastbourne, and confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, fixing the closing hour on the several days of the week for certain Shops [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Copy presented of Order made by the Council of the borough of Calne, and confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, fixing the day on which certain Shops are to be closed for the weekly half-holiday and the closing hour on the several days of the week for certain Shops [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Copy presented of Order made by the Council of the borough of Bournemouth, and confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, fixing the day on which certain Shops are to be closed for the weekly half-holiday and the closing hour on the several days of the week for certain Shoos [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

National Insurance Act

Copy presented of Provisional Regulations made by the Irish Insurance Commissioners as to meeting places of Approved Societies and Branches thereof [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 344.]

Copy presented of Provisional Regulations made by the Irish Insurance Commissioners as to the application of the Transfer Value of a married woman electing not to become a Voluntary Contributor [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 345.]

Selection (Standing Committees)

Mr. Fenwick reported from the Committee of Selection—That they had discharged the following Member from Standing Committee A: Mr. Denman; and had appointed in substitution: Mr. Cecil Harmsworth.

Mr. Fenwick further reported from the Committee—That they had discharged the following Member from Standing Committee B (in respect of the Bee Disease Bill): Mr. Secretary M'Kenna; and had appointed in substitution (in respect of the said Bill): Mr. Runciman.

Mr. Fenwick further reported from the Committee—That they had added to Standing Committee B the following Fifteen Members (in respect of the Bee Disease Bill): Mr. King, Captain Waring, Mr. Robartes, Mr. Cecil Harmsworth, Mr. Winfrey, Mr. Vaughan-Davies, Colonel Lockwood, Mr. Nicholson, Sir John Spear, Mr. Charles Bathurst, Mr. Douglas Hall, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Ffrench, Mr. Patrick Meehan, and Mr. Albert Smith.

Reports to lie upon the Table.

Resident Magistrates (Ireland)

Return ordered "of the Resident Magistrates in Ireland on the 1st day of November, 1912, showing their names, ages when appointed, former vocation, present district, salaries on appointment and at present, and dates of appointment (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 277, of Session 1911)."—[ Mr. MacVeagh.]

Oral Answers To Questions

International Sea Fisheries Convention (English Channel)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he is in a position to report any progress in connection with the negotiations for the conclusion of an International Sea Fisheries Convention for the waters of the English Channel?

I have recently been informed that the text requires further examination, but that everything is being done by the French Government in order that their examination of the question may be concluded as rapidly as possible.

Canada (Naturalised Subjects)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether subjects of foreign nations becoming naturalised citizens of Canada, and thereby subjects of the Crown, are denied the right to require of British Consuls proper assistance when traveling abroad; and, if so, is he prepared to take steps to ensure that such British subjects may claim such assistance?

The effect of naturalisation in Canada is to make the person so naturalised a British subject within the limits of the Dominion only, and it is so stated in their certificates. Consequently they are not, strictly speaking, British subjects when beyond the limits of the Dominion. They are, however, in pursuance of the general Consular instructions, accorded the good offices of British Consular Officers in all countries. It is one of the objects of the measure foreshadowed in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the present Session of Parliament to remove such inequalities in these matters as at present exists.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many naturalised Canadians who even hold His Majesty's Commission are debarred from enjoying the full privileges of British subjects; does he think that is just and equitable, and will he endeavour to rectify it?

I was not aware of the particular details the hon. Member gives me, but I think he could not have caught the last part of my answer. We recognise all these inequalities ought to be removed, and legislation is foreshadowed in the speech from the Throne in order to remove them.

Persia

3.

asked whether any proposal has been made for the appointment of a new financial adviser in Persia; and whether any negotiations are still proceeding to enable the Persian Government to obtain an adequate loan?

During the recent visit of Monsieur Sazenow to this country the need of the Persian Government for securing an adequate loan was fully recognised. The matter is still under careful consideration. The question of a new financial adviser was-not specifically raised, but it was recognised that, if financiers made stipulations as to strong Treasury control a condition of lending money, the Persian Government would have to take them into consideration.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Swedish gendarmerie are actually being disbanded for want of funds?

No, Sir, I do not think we have that information, but if the hon. Member will put a question on the Paper I will inquire.

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the difficulties of the situation in Persia and the anxiety that is felt, he will arrange to take an early opportunity to make a statement to this House on the subject?

I cannot make a long statement in answer to an oral question and I cannot, of course, say what other opportunities will be available.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any official information showing that the hanging and butchery of Persians in Tabriz were perpetrated by order of Shuja-ud-Dowleh, one of the ex-Shah's generals, because the victims took part in the revolution that led to the dethronement of the ex-Shah; whether he is aware that Shuja-ud-Dowleh is still nominally assistant-governor of Tabriz, and is kept in that position by pressure from the Russian Government; and will representations be made in the proper quarter that Shuja-ud-Dowleh shall be brought to trial before a Persian tribunal?

The answer to the first question is in the negative; the answer to> the second question is that Shuja-ud-Dowleh is nominally Governor of Maraga, a place many miles away from Tabriz and, although he has been temporarily acting as Deputy to Sipahdar, who arrived at Tabriz on 1st September, there is, so far as I am aware, no foundation for assuming that he is kept in that position by pressure from the Russian Government; the answer to the last question is in the negative; if we undertook to do what the hon. Member asks in the last part of his question it would be an extension of our responsibilities that would be very undesirable. As I am informed that some charge has been made that I am responsible for Shuja's proceedings, I should like to take the opportunity of stating that it as entirely untrue that I have taken any action in support of him or his appointment. An inquiry was made early in the year of the British Minister at Teheran respecting Shuja's disposition towards the Persian Government, but it was not followed by any action on our part.

Arising out of that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that requests were repeatedly made by the Russian Government to the Persian Government to actually appoint this creature the Governor of Tabriz, and they refused to do so?

I cannot tell what may have passed between the Russian Government and the Persian Government, but, if the hon. Members wishes, he might put down a further question.

May I ask whether the White Book published by the Government does not contain proof that the Russians had great provocation in the murder and mutilation of their own subjects in Tabriz?

As the White Book has been published, hon. Members can study it for themselves.

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state, approximately, what is the total number of Russian troops now in Persia; and whether he has any official information showing that 3,000 more Russian troops have recently been sent there?

There were 12,400 Russian troops in Persia in July last. Since then I have heard from His Majesty's Consul at Tabriz, who has reported that Russian troops had begun to withdraw, and that about 2,300 had left Tabriz in the last two days. I have also heard that a Russian force is at present proceeding to the neighbourhood of the Turco-Persian frontier.

May we assume there is no truth in the statement that the Russian forces in Persia are being strengthened?

As far as we are aware, they have not been strengthened. Two thousand three hundred were actually withdrawing from Tabriz, but it is not quite clear where they were going, possibly they were the force going towards the Turco-Persian frontier.

Brussels Sugar Convention

7.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the Government of India was consulted before the Government decided to withdraw from the Brussels Sugar Convention; and whether that Government approved such withdrawal?

No, Sir. The Government of India was not an adherent to the Convention and was not consulted as to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.

Do I understand from that statement that the Secretary of State holds India was not vitally interested in this question?

Indian High Courts

8.

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, what steps, if any, have been taken to compensate Mr. Clark, the judgment against whom in the Calcutta High Court was reversed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and what steps, if any, have been taken to amend the system under which barrister judges are now appointed to the High Courts in India and to introduce reforms into the composition of the High Court of Calcutta?

Before the hon. Gentleman answers the question, may I ask whether it is the fact that under the provisions of the Indian High Courts Act, 1861, not less than one-third of the Judges, including the Chief Justices, must be barristers or advocates, that no responsible person has impeached the impartiality or the competence of this branch of the Indian judiciary, but that many tributes have been borne to its efficiency?

Mr. Clark was obliged to be present in England in connection with the hearing of the Privy Council appeal, and was therefore placed on deputation instead of furlough. As regards the latter part of the question, no steps of the kind suggested have been taken.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if in saying the hon. Member (Mr. Swift MacNeill) is correct, he has not exceeded his brief?

Khan Hotimardan

9.

asked whether the Government propose to publish any further Papers regarding the case of the Khan of Hotimardan?

May I then ask the hon. Gentleman whether the India Office associates itself with the Government of India in its repudiation of the base and cowardly attacks made upon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I am quoting.

If it is a quotation, that is all the more reason for it not being used for the purposes of a question.

Indian Students

10.

asked the names, duties, and salaries of such persons as are employed at the expense of the Indian revenue for the purpose of affording assistance to Indian students and other Indians sojourning in this Kingdom, in London, and elsewhere?

The names of the officers in question and their annual salaries are as follows: Mr. Mallet, Secretary for Indian Students, £1,000; Mr. T. W. Arnold, Educational Adviser in London, £800; Mr. Cheshire and Mr. Mohamed Rahman, assistants to Mr. Arnold (the latter acting temporarily), £400 and £5C0 respectively. As regards the duties of these officers, the Secretary of State for India has nothing to add to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for India on 30th July last and to the reply given to my hen. Friend on the 15th instant. The Secretary of State for India in Council has also authorised the payment of a fee of £100 a year to Mr. Campion, expert adviser on engineering questions, and of £50 to Sir Edward Candy, correspondent at Cambridge. Mr. Mallet and Mr. Arnold are provided with the necessary clerical assistance.

Army Ordnance Factory, Selby (Fair Wages)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that the wages paid to the labourers occupied at the Army Ordnance Factory near Selby are at a lower rate than the rate prescribed by the Resolution of the House of Commons of 10th March, 1909; and whether there is any reason why these labourers should not receive a minmum wage of sixpence per hour, especially in view of the fact that their occupation is of a dangerous character?

The wages of these men have recently been increased, and I am not aware that they are now not in accordance with the Resolution of this House. I shall be happy to consider any evidence to that effect that may be given me by the hon. Member.

British Army (Officers Retiring Allowances)

12.

asked whether the Committee which was inquiring into the question of the retiring allowances for officers has finished its investigations; and, if so, whether any alteration of the Army Order 237 of 1911 has been decided upon, in the case of those officers whose retiring allowances were cut down from £300 a year to £200 a year by this Army order, notwithstanding the fact that when they joined the Service the pension of £300 a year was promised to them under the Regulations then in force?

I hope to be able to make an announcement on this subject before long; but I cannot admit that the pension of £300 a year was promised to the officers concerned under the Regulations in force when they joined, as the Royal Warrant in its preamble expressly reserved to them the rights only of their rank at the time of issue.

Baden-Powell Military Kite

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War in what essential details the Baden-Powell military kite supplied to the German Government differed from he apparatus now adopted for the British Army and for which the reward of £5,000 was given?

It is not considered to be in the interests of the public service to publish the information required.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the latest improvements of the equipment, and will he take into consideration the fact that it costs about one-third the price of the other apparatus?

All those considerations have been taken into account, but one cannot make public statements about these matters without jeopardising the interests of the public service.

Territorial Force

14.

asked the number of officers, non-commissioned officers and men who attended the 1912 camp for fifteen days; the number who attended for eight days or for a shorter period; the number of officers, non-commissioned officers and men who were absent from camp this year with leave; and the number of officers, non-commissioned officers and men who were absent from camp this year without leave? Colonel SEELY: The figures are as follows:—

Officers.N.C.O.'s and Men.
For 15 days and over6,851154,800
For 8 days and less than 151,00666,195
For less than 8 days46314
Absent with leave1,31727,236
Absent without leave376,010
The figures for the London Electrical Engineers who do not complete training until the end of October are not included.

15 and 16.

asked (15) what numbers of the same forty-one officers and 6,755 men of the Territorial Force mentioned on page 117 of the General Annual Report of the British Army, published in 1912, for the year ending September, 1911, as absent without leave from camp in the year 1911 were again returned as absent this year; and, if any of these officers and men were so absent for the second time, whether any steps have been taken or will be taken to have their names removed from the Territorial Force; and (16) the number of officers, of non-commissioned officers, and of men now serving in the Infantry of the Territorial Force who have been absent with leave and without leave from the training of their battalions on two or more occasions according to the records kept at the headquarters of each battalion?

The information required by this and the next question is not available at the War Office, and could only be obtained by calling for a special return, which would involve considerable labour in compilation. It does not appear that the advantage to be derived from the return is sufficient to justify the additional work thrown on to the Territorial staff.

17.

asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he contemplates any proposal, and, if so, what, intended to make employers of labour more disposed to granting to their men facilities for service in the Territorial Force?

The question of compensating employers of men serving in the Territorial Force is under consideration, and inquiries are being made as to the most satisfactory form that this could take. I shall be glad to receive any suggestions that the hon. Member may desire to make on the subject.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of forwarding this undertaking by making modifications in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the Insurance Act?

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend. I do not know that that would be a very wise method to adopt.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of allowing a certain exemption in Income Tax to employers for the employés who go to camp, for instance, an exemption of £10 per year?

The hon. Member cannot expect an answer now to a question of that kind, of which notice should be given.

Waterloo

18 and 21.

asked (18) whether, in view of the approaching centenary of the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, the War Office contemplate any scheme of celebration on its account, or is giving its official patron age to any private undertaking, particularly in view of the fact that there is no memorial to the nation's arms as a whole on the field of Waterloo.

asked (21) whether, in case of any celebration of the approaching centenary of the battle of Waterloo, whether by erecting a monument on the field of battle or otherwise, representations will first be made to the German Government with a view to possible co-operation in the celebration and in order to mark the historical fact that the victory of Waterloo was due to the joint military operation of the British and Prussian armies?

May I ask, bearing in mind the long period since the battle, whether the Army Council will take it into consideration?

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, is he aware that the celebration of the anniversary of Waterloo was many years ago discontinued in deference to the wishes of the highest authority in order to promote feelings of peace and to let bygones be bygones?

Special Reserve Battalions

19 and 20.

asked (19) when it is proposed to alter the designation of the Special Reserve Battalions in the "London Gazette" from Special Reserve of Officers to Special Reserve or Special Reserve Infantry, thereby making it more clear to the general public that this force may contain men as well as officers; and (20) whether he intends, now that the fourth extra Reserve battalions have been deprived of their Regular engagement officers, to reintroduce the appointment of a Special Reserve Officer as instructor of musketry, as used to be the custom in former days, instead of attaching some strange officer to a battalion for the musketry period, which appears to be the present practice?

Land Value Duties

26.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the tables issued with their Annual Report by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue show a comparison between the yield of Income Budget Estimates, but no such figures are given in respect of the Land Taxes; and can he state to the House what his Budget Estimates were for Increment Value Duty, Undeveloped Land Duty, and Reversion Duty for the years 1910–11 and 1911–12, respectively?

I regret that the figures relating to the several Land Value Duties, which had been made public in my Budget Statement for the year 1911–12 were inadvertently omitted from the Annual Report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. I am having them circulated with the Votes. [See Written Answers this date.]

27.

asked why no reference is made in the Annual Report of the Inland Revenue Commissioners to the decisions given by Referees on appeals heard by them upon cases arising out of the valuation for the Land Taxes?

The decision of a Referee has no binding effect apart from the particular case which is referred to him; and it is not the practice to publish decisions of this character in the Annual Report, of the Commissioners.

That the decision of the Referee not a binding effect on the parties concerned?

Certainly. As I have said, it has a binding effect in the particular case.

Is it not, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, very important for parties who have similar cases with the Inland Revenue to know what the decisions of the Referees are, and in that way get information?

I think there is a good deal to be said for publishing cases bearing on some question of principle. I have been considering that question. I do not think it would be advisable to publish the decision in every case, and I am not sure that the parties would really care for that. At any rate, I do think there is a good deal to be said for publishing the decisions in cases which involve matters of principle.

Then I will repeat my question a little later on, when the right hon. Gentleman has had a little time to consider the matter.

28.

asked whether 2,240 valuations made in Ireland on occasions when Increment Value Duty was presumed to be payable have only yielded £34 to the revenue; and whether, in view of the unremunerative character of these proceedings, he will issue instructions that the valuation of land in Ireland be no further proceeded with?

Two thousand two hundred and forty occasion valuations were made in Ireland in the year 1911–12, but they were made without consideration whether duty was, or was not, presumably payable. In the same year £34 was collected out of £119 assessed as Increment Value Duty on occasions of transfers on sale and leases of land. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.

Is it not the case that in every transfer, whether in England or Ireland, a valuation has to be made on the presumption that Increment Value Duty is payable or may be payable?

The answer I have given is that the valuations were made without consideration whether duty was or was not presumably payable.

29.

asked the yield to the revenue of Increment Value Duty, Undeveloped Land Duty, and Reversion Duty, respectively, for the first six months of the current financial year?

I will refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Oswestry.

32.

asked the number of occasional valuations on 30th September, 1912, for which particulars have been duly lodged, but for which valuations have not yet been made?

37.

asked whether there are any, and, if so, how many, valuations arising on occasions for which particulars were lodged before the 31st December, 1910, and which are still outstanding; and when are these to be finished?

To obtain the information asked for would involve an expenditure of labour and time in valuation offices all over the country that I hardly think is justified by the object.

33.

asked whether any valuations are being made by unqualified valuers, that is to say, by men who are not members of the Surveyors' Institution or of the Auctioneers' Institute?

39.

asked the number of qualified valuers on the valuation staff on 30th September, 1912?

No valuations are being made by unqualified valuers. The number of valuers on the valuation staff for England and Wales on the 30th September was 758. Of these, 466 hold certificates of the Surveyors' Institution or Auctioneers' Institute; of the remaining, none were appointed who were not found to be, fully-qualified valuers by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue.

Does the number 758 refer to the number of principal valuers or does it include assistant valuers?

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that those who are found not to be qualified have not been employed to make any valuations?

34.

asked the number of occasional valuations made to the 30th of September, 1912?

The number of occasional valuations made in Great Britain, up to and including 30th September, 1912, was 403,527.

35.

asked the number of, and area included in, the valuations made to the 30th of September, 1912?

The number of provisional valuations made and served in Great Britain, up to and including 30th September, 1912, was 2,583,453. These valuations related to 3,256,568 hereditaments, and included approximately 7,243,764 acres.

are there not over 11,000,000 hereditaments, and if so, when does the right hon. Gentleman expect the valuation will be completed?

Foot-And-Mouth Disease

30.

asked out of what fund is the compensation for cattle slaughtered in Ireland in consequence of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease paid; what is the expenditure already incurred under this head up to the present date; and, if the Government of Ireland Bill becomes law, out of what fund will such expenditure be met, and whether out of the pockets of the Irish taxpayers or otherwise?

Compensation is payable out of the Cattle Pleuro-Pneumonia Account of the Cattle Diseases Fund under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, and that fund consists partly of contributions from local rates and partly of monies provided by Parliament. When the Government of Ireland Bill becomes law, the existing system of providing compensation will continue unless and until the Irish Parliament think fit to alter it, subject, of course, to the modification that the Irish Parliament will as regards the provision of money be substituted for the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The amount of the expenditure already incurred under this head in connection with the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak is £15,847.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me what proportion of that £15,000 was paid out of Irish rates and out of Imperial funds respectively?

The right hon. Gentleman says the proportion paid out of the rates is very small—can he tell me the amount?

Can my right hon. Friend state how much this fund amounts to, and whether there is statutory authority for applying it in this way?

It is annually made up by contributions from the rates. Every county council in Ireland is liable for a rate. That is the way the fund is made up every year, and it has been applied in the past in connection with outbreaks of swine fever. The prevalence of swine fever last year rather depleted the fund.

79.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he is now in a position to make any further statement as to the importation of Irish store cattle into the port of Glasgow?

I am in communication with the Glasgow local authority on this subject, but no definite arrangements for the landing of Irish store cattle there have yet been made.

I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland whether it is true, as stated in the "Times" to-day, that several fresh cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in the Mullingar district, and whether the announcement that forty milch cows in this small area are affected is well founded?

I have not seen the newspaper report in question, but the latest intelligence I have is that twenty-six animals have been affected in the Mullingar district, and 200 animals were in contact. These are all either slaughtered or will be slaughtered. I think that the report is probably accurate with regard to milch cows, because the outbreak has taken place in the town parks of Mullingar, and these are reserves of milch cows.

In view of the facts which the right hon. Gentleman has put before us, does he still adhere to the opinion that he expressed yesterday, that there is no reason for supposing that the disease has been for a considerable time in existence at Mullingar before it was known?

The report of the veterinary officer states his belief that it is about four days old.

Are not these town parks in the neighbourhood of Mullingar where the outbreaks took place in the immediate vicinity of the Mullingar Barracks, and, in view of the fact that the outbreak at Ballysax, county Kildare, was due to straw packing that was given to Mrs. Behan from the barracks, will the right hon. Gentleman investigate whether the outbreak is due to a similar cause in Mullingar?

All the facts will be investigated, but, as I said yesterday, there is no evidence to connect the barracks with the outbreak.

77.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he can make provisions for the safe use of the foreign animals wharf of the Manchester Ship Canal for the landing of Irish animals for the supply of local needs?

Under an Order issued on the 4th inst. Irish animals are allowed to be landed at the foreign animals wharf at Old Trafford, Manchester, but they must be detained there for inspection and supervision and removed from the wharf in accordance with the requirements of the Order, a copy of which I shall be glad to send to my hon. Friend.

Estate Duties

36.

asked the number and value of Estate Duty cases which were outstanding for any causes on 30th September, 1912, 30th September, 1911, 30th September, 1910, and 30th September, 1909?

On the 30th September, 1912, the number of Estate Duty cases outstanding by reason of valuation was 13,895, and their value £64,675,000; on the 30th September, 1911, the number and value were 18,970 and £73,109,000; on the 30th September, 1910, 8,127 and £40,695,000; and on the 30th September, 1909, 110 and £4,675,000. On each date there were, in addition, about 1,000 cases (being two days' receipts), which were outstanding from other causes-than valuation. I have no information as to the value represented by these cases.

42.

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman's Department has come to any decision as to the retention or sale of land received by the State in payment of Estate Duties under Section 56 of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910; if so, what is the decision; and will he say how much land has been so received by his Department, and is it an increasing quantity, in view of the present unremunerative nature of the holding of land?

As regards the first part of the question, it has been decided that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue shall act as intermediaries for the conveyance of property to other public Departments or authorities who might desire to purchase it. As regards the latter part, I beg to refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on the 17th instant to a question on the same subject to my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle.

Undeveloped Land Duty

38.

asked whether the Commissioners claim that Undeveloped Land Duty is payable on sites which are held in trust for the erection thereon of places of worship pending the erection of the edifice?

A body of trustees holding land in trust for the erection of a place of worship is deemed to be a governing body constituted for charitable purposes, and the land is held to be exempt from Undeveloped Land Duty under the provisions of Section 37 of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, provided it satisfies the condition laid down in that Section that it should be occupied and used by the charity for its own purposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that claims are being made for Undeveloped Land Duty on land exactly in that situation?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give me specific cases. I could not answer the question without some information.

Land Values Committee

40.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, an view of the complaints which have been made by and on behalf of landowners regarding the method and character of the Land Inquiry which is being carried out at his request he can arrange that schedules will be sent to those owners who express a desire to furnish information?

I have no doubt that the Committee will gladly comply with the suggestion made by my hon. Friend. I understand that a number of landowners have already sent in very valuable replies.

43.

asked whether copies of the evidence and Reports of the Departmental Committee on the position of tenant farmers, etc., which sat last year, have been or will be supplied to members of the secret land committee?

This is a matter that rests with the Land Inquiry Committee itself to determine.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any reason why the information sought for could not be obtained either by means of a Royal Commission or a Departmental Committee?

That surely does not arise out of this question. It simply asked for information upon a specific point.

Does it not arise from the fact that, if it were a Royal Commission or Departmental Committee it would naturally be in a position to call evidence from the Committee which has already reported?

I have not the faintest doubt that they will possess themselves of all the information available.

Quite apart from all this, I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he himself will take steps to see that this information is furnished to the particular body in question? He has the power to do it.

I think the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman makes is very valuable. I will communicate it to the Land Inquiry Committee as coming from him.

44.

asked the right lion. Gentleman whether he will exercise his influence in persuading the hon. Member for Halifax to remove from the Order Paper his blocking Motion, which prevents any discussion in this House upon the proceeding and operations of the secret Land Inquiry Committee?

As I said yesterday, no one would welcome the removal of this notice more than myself, and I have already made representations to that effect to my hon. Friend.

Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer, until the matter is discussed, agree to withdraw these land spies?

Discussion of the matter in the House does not rest with me. If it did, I should certainly welcome a discussion. I had nothing whatever to do with putting the Motion down, and, as my hon. Friend knows, I have done my best to have it removed.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman, in answering question 40, dealt with the precise point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University?

Financial Relations (Great Britain And Ireland)

41.

asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he has yet ascertained whether a pledge was given that the evidence before the Irish Finance Committee should be published, provided a considerable section of the House expressed a wish to that effect?

I will refer the hon. Member to the answer given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Prayer Book Alterations

45.

asked the Prime Minister what notice has been taken by Convocation of the Church of England of the letters of business issued by the Crown in 1907 inviting and enabling Convocation to make alterations in the prayer book; and whether it is intended to urge Convocation to hasten its action?

The matters referred to the two Convocations in 1906 were of great intricacy and importance, and required lengthy and careful deliberation. I understand that a special session of Convocation has been fixed for 19th November and the following days, at a time of year when it does not usually meet, with the object of expediting the business.

State-Aid For Housing

46.

:asked the Prime Minister whether he has now communicated with Lord Strachie with regard to the speech he made at Sherborne last month, in which he is reported to have advocated the adoption in England of the principle of State-aid for housing, which has been so successfully applied in Ireland under the provisions of the Labourers Acts; whether Lord Strachie was speaking on behalf-of the Government; and whether State-aid for housing is now the policy of the Government?

I understand from Lord Strachie that he expressly stated that he was only expressing his personal views on rural housing. The policy of the Government on the subject will be announced in due course.

Imperial Trade Commission

47.

asked whether, when the Imperial Trade Commission takes evidence, the trade of India, our only Empire, will be excluded from consideration?

The resolution of the Imperial Conference, in accordance with which the Royal Commission has been appointed, related to the natural resources and trade of the parts of the Empire represented at the conference. In so far as the trade of those parts of the Empire is concerned with the other parts of the Empire and with foreign countries, it is for the Commission itself to determine what evidence it will take.

If India is excluded, should not the title "Imperial" be deleted? Can it properly stand when India is excluded from the purview of the inquiry?

This was a Commission appointed in pursuance of the unanimous resolution of the Imperial Conference.

Is it not the case that the recommendation of the Imperial Conference did not exclude India, but that it was arranged by the Ministers who sat at the conference?

Public Services Commission

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to inform himself of the opinions held in India as to the appointment of the hon. Member for Leicester to the Public Services Commission, and particularly of the criticisms upon that appointment contained in that section of the Indian Press which represents more particularly the opinions of the Europeans in the public services in India?

His Majesty's Government have a general knowledge of the character of the criticisms to which the hon. Member alludes, as of criticisms of a different kind directed against the appointment of some other members of the Royal Commission, but they do not consider that in any of the cases there is reason to submit for approval any modification in its composition.

Would the Prime Minister allow, for instance, the "Pioneer" or certain papers in India representing the British services, and in that case does he decide to proceed with this appointment in spite of the statement of that representative of Europeans in India that it is regarded as an insult—I quote the word—insult?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these particular papers mentioned-in the question, not only object to the appointment of the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), but to the whole composition of the Committee?

United Kingdom (Separate Parliaments)

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered on their merits the proposals made in the recent speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty for the creation of ten or twelve separate Parliaments in the United Kingdom; and, if so, whether he will communicate to the House the results of such consideration?

I have naturally considered the tentative suggestions made by my right hon. Friend. For my own views on the subject I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the speech which I made on the introduction of the Bill for the better government of Ireland, and to which I have at present nothing to add.

In view of the fact that that statement of his was vague can the right hon. Gentleman give a definite answer to the present question?

Is there any precedent for such a great constitutional change as is now proposed, of which the country knows the first steps, being taken while the country is kept in profound ignorance of the intentions of the Government?

The hon. Member's question contains a great deal of controversial matter. I shall be very glad to meet him at the proper time.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it fair to the country or to the House of Commons?

How could the right hon. Gentleman consider on their merits in June proposals which were not made until December?

Land Reform

50.

asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that there is a desire among persons of all shades of political opinion for some measure of practicable land reform which will result in greater prosperity of agricultural industry, an increase of agricultural output, and improvement in the conditions of life of agricultural workers, he will, in lieu of the present private inquiry, appoint a Royal Commission on the lines of the United States Country Life Commission to take, evidence from persons belonging to all classes interested in agricultural land and its economic development, and report publicly to Parliament?

I promised the hon. Member that I would consider, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture, his suggestion that a Royal Commission should be appointed on the lines of the-United States Country Life Commission. I have not yet come to any decision in the matter.

Bearing in mind this new inquiry that is progressing in the country, will the right hon. Gentleman accelerate his consultation with the President of the Board of Agriculture on the subject?

Do the classes interested in agricultural land mentioned in the question include both those who farm the land and those who farm the farmers as well?

Marconi Agreement

51.

asked if the Marconi agreement was entered into by the Postmaster-General on his own responsibility and not as the result of a decision of the Cabinet as a whole; whether the Committee of Defence were formally consulted with regard thereto; and what practice obtains generally in determining matters of this nature with respect to which individual Ministers may act without reference to their colleagues?

It is not the practice to state what matters are brought before the Cabinet. Nor is it usual to say what subjects are discussed at the Committee of Imperial Defence, but in this occasion I may remark that the Committee of Imperial Defence was formally consulted on the matter on 14th December, 1911, and was informed of the course of the negotiations with the Marconi Company. It resolved that the negotiations should be continued. The terms finally agreed were communicated to the Committee of Imperial Defence after the tender had been accepted and to the Cable Landing Rights Committee before acceptance. These facts do not, of course, affect the constitutional responsibility for the agreement, which both my right hon. Friend and the Cabinet accept in full.

Civil Service (Ministers' Secretaries)

52.

asked the Prime Minister in how many cases during the last five years private secretaries of Members of the Government have received permanent appointments in the Civil Service without open competition; the particulars of such cases; and whether he will consider the advisability of abolishing a practice which operates to the detriment of the officers in the Civil Service, who have obtained their position as the result of open examination at expense and trouble to themselves, and who by their training and experience have established a special claim to promotion?

Particulars of all appointments which were made from 5th December, 1905, to 28th February last without competitive examination to posts in the Civil Service will be given in the Return moved for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bootle on the latter date. So far as I am aware, there are not more than four instances of private secretaries to Members of the Government, who were not previously Civil servants, being appointed to permanent posts in the Civil Service. These four are:—

  • Mr. Mark Sturgis, Special Commissioner of Income Tax.
  • Mr. F. N. Rogers (who had ceased to be a private secretary), Small Holdings Commission.
  • Mr. M. S. Green (who had previously been a Civil servant), Chairman of Irish Prisons Board.
  • Mr. Lionel Earle, Secretary to the Office of Works.
It has been by no means the normal practice to appoint members of the Civil Service in the ordinary course to any of these posts. As the lion. Member is aware, a Commission to inquire into the method of making appointments to the Civil Service is now sitting, and I prefer to await the Commission's Report before expressing any opinion on the point raised in the last part of the question. I am, I need not say, anxious that Civil servants should not be kept out of the prizes of the Civil Service, but in the case of all these appointments the public interest is the governing consideration.

Land Purchase (Ireland)

53.

asked the Prime Minister whether, as the completion of land purchase in Ireland has been admitted to be more important than Home Rule, he intends, whatever may be the fate of the Government of Ireland Bill, to facilitate and accelerate land purchase; and whether it is his intention to introduce a Bill for that purpose next Session?

54.

asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce fresh legislation or to expedite the working of the Land Purchase Acts, 1903 and 1909, by the methods already provided by any Clauses of the said Acts; and whether, should fresh legislation or an amending Act be contemplated, he can give the probable date of its introduction?

The Government fully recognise the importance of the question, and are now giving it careful consideration; but I am unable at present to anticipate the legislative programme of next year.

Has the Government any serious intention of proceeding with land purchase in Ireland, or is the matter no more than a debt of honour which does not brook delay.

That is not a very polite question, and had the hon. Gentleman listened to my answer, it is a totally unnecessary one.

Office Of Works (Designs Of Public Buildings)

55.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the criticism usually directed to de signs accepted and plans adopted for public buildings and other undertakings by His Majesty's Office of Works; and whether, in order to give public confidence in the work of that Department and to ensure the best value, taste, and style in all future public works, he is prepared to introduce some method of securing the best possible advice and general approval, either by appointing a representative consultative committee or otherwise?

The First Commissioner is responsible for the designs of all public buildings, the erection of which devolves upon his Department; and he is satisfied that, so far as ordinary buildings are concerned, no useful purpose would be served by the appointment of a consultative committee such as that suggested by the hon. Member. The First Commissioner feels that he can rely with confidence upon the experience of his trained staff. In the case of exceptional buildings, such as the War Office and the new public offices, it has been the practice to seek the assistance of architects of eminence outside the Department.

Congested Districts (Scotland) Board

56.

asked the Secretary for Scotland when the Report of the late Congested Districts Board (Scotland) to 31st March, 1912, will be presented?

The Report was issued Inst week, and is now obtainable.

Why did it take nearly seven months to bring out the Report and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that by keeping it back we Were deprived of the opportunity of discussing it on the Scottish Estimates?

Some of the officials of the Board were actively engaged in new work and that caused the delay in bringing out the Report.

Rosyth Dockyard (Housing)

57.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the recent Report of Dr. J. R. Currie, medical officer of health for the Dunfermline District Committee, on the housing of Rosyth workers; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Local Governmént Board for Scotland have made further inquiry into the matter. I am informed that the district committee meet to-day to consider the medical officer's report; and upon learning their views I hope to be in a position to decide what further action is called for.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the housing conditions at Rosyth are absolutely unspeakably bad, worse than anything we have ever known in London?

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the fact that the excessive price of land at Rosyth prevents housing experiments on an economic scale1?

Ostrich Farms, Scotland

58.

asked the Secretary for Scotland, whether he is aware that, in the opinion of experts, certain parts of the Scottish Highlands are admirably adapted for rearing ostriches, and that, if ostrich farms were started in the Highlands, the feathers of the birds would be even better than the feathers now obtained from South Africa; and whether, in these circumstances, he is prepared to consider the advisability of taking steps to establish in a suitable spot in the High ands a Government ostrich farm on an experimental basis?

The Board of Agriculture has been so much occupied with small holdings and other pressing matters that they have not yet devoted their attention to the possibilities of ostrich farming. If, however, my hon. and gallant Friend will submit the expert evidence to which he refers, I shall be glad to obtain expert opinion upon it.

Applications For Land (Scotland)

59.

asked what is the total number of applications to date for land to the Scottish Board of Agriculture, and the total amount of land which so far has been allocated?

The total number is about 4,500. As regards the second part of the question, I can only say that negotiations are in progress for a number of schemes for land settlement.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the ques- tion, "The total amount of land which so far has been allocated"?

Are all these people who have applied suitable for landowners, and have they all to pay their £170 before they are given a small holding?

No; I never heard of that condition. Of course, it is not reasonable to expect that all the applicants would be able to fulfil it.

School Of Forestry, Scotland

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is now in a position to state what arrangements he proposes to make with regard to the School of Forestry in Scotland?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he said the same thing four months ago, and are we to understand that the Scottish Office does not move at all until four months have passed?

The hon. Member seems to have forgotten that some time ago I appointed an Advisory Committee on the subject. I have not yet received a Report from that Committee.

Committee Of Council On Education, Scotland

61.

asked the Secretary for Scotland if he would state the reason for the special notification in the Gazette of the 15th instant concerning the composition of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, who are known as My Lords; and would he give the date of the last meeting of that body and the number of meetings, respectively, which its various members have attended?

The issue of a new Order in Council was rendered necessary by the change in the designation of Lord Haldane, one of the members of the Committee. With regard to the remainder of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to my answer to his question of 6th August last.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when that question was put on that occasion he did not answer this part of the question. There was no-reply?

May I ask a definite answer to the portion of the question to which my hon. Friend refers?

No, Sir, it was not answered. Are we to understand that the-Secretary for Scotland refuses to give the date of the last meeting of this so-called body?

62.

asked with reference to the duties imposed upon the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, and which are supposed to be performed at its meetings, if he would state whether minutes of these meetings are kept; who is responsible for such minutes; who is the chairman of the committee; and what is the number of members that constitute a quorum?

The questions, of my hon. Friend are founded upon a misapprehension of the functions and constitutional position of the Committee of Council referred to, which are similar to those of various other bodies in other Departments of the Government, like the English Board of Education, the Board of Trade, the English Local Government Board and the English Board of Agriculture.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that in years past this committee frequently met, and that minutes of the meetings are preserved among the archives of his; Department, and is there any reason why he should not be advised of the meetings?

I am not aware of frequent meetings, but I am aware that meetings have been held on important subjects. There is no reason why they should not be held again when occasion calls for them.

How does the right hon. Gentleman remove the misapprehension we have about this committee when he refuses to give any information?

I am afraid I cannot enter into this difficult question of constitutional history. I would refer my hon. Friend to the well-known work by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University (Sir William Anson). This committee is a growth in the progress of the Constitution. I cannot discuss it.

May I say that if the right hon. Gentleman would give the date of the last meeting, we could look it up for ourselves?

My impression is that I gave the date. If I did not give it I will inquire and let the hon. Member know the date. If I did give it, I will give it again.

I believe he does. My hon. and gallant Friend would not ask the question if he read the Minutes of the Department, because they are all signed by the president.

63.

asked what are the duties to be performed by the new Council on Scottish Education; and whether a representative from the School Board of Scotland will be appointed to the council?

My hon. Friend is mistaken in thinking that a new Council has been appointed. An Order in Council dealing with the constitution of the existing Committee of Council on Education in Scotland has recently been issued for the reason stated in the answer which I have just given to my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeenshire, but no change whatever has been made in the personnel of the committee.

Scottish Education

64.

asked the Secretary for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the address delivered at the general meeting of the Scottish School Board Association, in Galashiels, by the president of the association, the Rev. Dr. Smith, of Govan, in which the appointment of an advisory committee on education was advocated with the approval of the meeting, such an educational council to be composed of members representative of the various interests involved, and appointed for a term of years irrespective of Government changes, and to act as an advisory committee on Scottish education; and whether, in view of the dissatisfaction with the existing educational situation, he is prepared either to advise the creation of such a committee, or to appoint a committee of inquiry into the effect of the recent numerous changes in the educational system brought about by recent legislation?

I have seen a report of the address referred to. I am not prepared to advise the creation of a committee such as that outlined in the address, nor do I see sufficient occasion at the present time for the appointment of the committee of inquiry suggested by the hon. Member.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any explanation of the universal dissatisfaction which is felt in Scotland with respect to the administration of education, and has he seen the views which have been expressed on the subject by Sir James Donaldson, Professor Ramsay, and others?

Universal dissatisfaction does not exist. There is dissatisfaction among certain people, and there always will be in regard to any system of education in any country.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the suggestion as to meeting the unofficial Scottish Members of this House as an advisory committee as a beginning?