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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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

Albania

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any official information as to atrocities upon Moslems at Teleper and Klisura imputed to the Epirotes during their march towards the coast?

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any information regarding the burning of the town of Tepelini by Epirotes, and of the massacre of all the inhabitants, men, women and children, of the village of Batska; and whether the women of the latter place were first strangled and then cut to pieces?

I will reply to this question and to that of the hon. Member for Wirral (No. 4) together. The accounts of what is taking place in Southern Albania are very distressing, but I have received no realiable details, and such reports as reach me are, of course, from unofficial sources and un-authenticated. I have communicated with the Powers on the subject.

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any information re garding the situation at Durazzo, and can say whether any material or moral sup port is being afforded by his Majesty's Government to Prince William?

Durazzo is still invested by the insurgents, but has been for some time free from active attack. Rear-Admiral Troubridge is present with two of His Majesty's ships, and has orders to co-operate with the foreign men-of-war in providing for the personal security of the Prince, his officials, and all European non-combatants, should occasion arise.

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the admission of the Greek Minister at Durazzo that the Cretan criminals are now in Epirus, he can say who was responsible for the release of these prisoners; and if he can make repro sentations to the Hellenic Government to ask them to withdraw these criminals from Albania?

I have nothing to add to the reply given on the 25th June to a very similar question by the hon. Member for Central Hull.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the Conference in London, of which he acted as chairman, signed an agreement for the establishment of Albania as an autonomous State; and if he, as chairman of the Conference, signed the agreement?

The creation of an autonomous Albanian State rests on a resolution adopted at a meeting of the Ambassadors' Conference, over which my right hon. Friend presided. The proceedings of that Conference were not embodied in any formal document, and the occasion to sign an agreement did not, therefore, arise. To avoid misunderstanding, I may add that the Ambassadors' Conference acted simply as a means of keeping the Governments of the countries there represented in close touch with one another, and that their resolutions were simply the records of the points upon which these Governments were in agreement.

Am I to understand that there is no agreement as to the status of Albania?

Does that agreement entered into amongst the Powers imply any possibility of the maintenance of law and order?

I think my right hon. Friend has lately, in answer to a question, said that His Majesty's Government does not admit any responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in Albania.

7.

asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether the Epirote Government of M. Zographos has ever adhered to the agreement of Corfu?

The agreement concluded with the International Commission in Albania was accepted by Monsieur Zographos on behalf of the Epirote Provisional Government, but I regret to say that it has since been practically repudiated by other Epirotes.

8.

asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he will ascertain if the Greek Government pro poses to hold M. Doulis, commander of the Epirote forces, responsible for past massacres of Albanians?

I have been informed by the Greek Government that Colonel Doulis has been struck off the list of officers of the Greek Army. He is therefore no longer responsible to them.

Servia

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Servians are now advancing upon Elbasan?

A report has reached me that they have crossed the Albanian frontier, but I have no confirmation of it.

Persia

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will refer the question of the proposed railway across-Persia to the Government of India for their opinion as to whether a change of gauge, made at the Southern boundary of the Russian sphere in Persia, would better fulfil strategic requirements and at the same time offer greater commercial advantages to Indian trade than are offered by the proposed railway on the Russian gauge right through from the North to the boundary of the British sphere at or near Bundar Abbas on the Persian Gulf in the South?

The point as to break of gauge was originally considered with the Government of India, and the decision come to was in accordance with their views. The whole question of the railway continues, as a matter of course, to be considered in consultation with the Government of India in all its bearings.

How long ago is it since the Government of India gave their views regarding the proposed break of gauge on the boundary of the British sphere, and is it not possible that they might like to reconsider it?

I cannot charge my memory with the exact date, but presumably, as they were quite definitely consulted, if they had changed their opinion they would have let us know.

May I ask if the House will be placed in possession of the views of the Government of India, or is there any way of finding them?

I will consult with my right hon. Friend as to that, but presumably the communications between His Majesty's Government and the Government of India on this as on other matters are confidential.

Forest Of Dean (Deputy-Surveyor)

10.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he is now in a position to state who will be the successor of Mr. V. F. Leese as deputy-surveyor of the Forest of Dean; what are his qualifications for the post; and when he will take up his duties in the district?

Subject to the final adjustments of arrangements with the Government of India for securing the loan of his services, it is proposed to appoint Mr. A. D. Blascheck to succeed Mr. Leese as deputy-surveyor of the Forest of Dean, and director of the proposed Forestry Demonstration Area there. Mr. Blascheck is a Deputy-Conservator of Forests in India with thirteen and a half years' service, and has held a post as instructor at Dehra Dun College. He will take up his duties in the district on 1st October next.

May I ask whether this Indian gentleman will have the same duties and the same salary as the present deputy-surveyor?

I would like to have notice of that, but so far as the duties are concerned the responsibilities will not be less.

Will He be able to reduce the price of land for building in the Forest of Dean?

Housing Acts

11.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he can state on what principle it was decided to borrow £3,000,000 for building houses in agricultural districts; and whether he expects to build with this sum sufficient cottages to make good the shortage which both he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated at 125,000 last year?

The estimate of £3,000,000 was necessarily conjectural, for it is impossible to foresee to what extent the building of cottages will be undertaken by authorised societies under the Bill, and to what extent the Board themselves will have to build. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative; and I am not aware that I ever estimated the shortage of cottages at 125,000, but I hope that the sum named in the Bill will be sufficient to enable at any rate a substantial beginning to be made.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that 125,000 cottages were urgently needed, and as this Bill will only provide for about 15,000, when do the Government propose to build the other 110,000?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has had experience of building operations, and he knows perfectly well that we cannot start building 125,000 cottages right off. That does not alter the fact that there is a very great shortage in the country, and we must make a beginning some time.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say last week that £3,000,000 was a maximum amount?

I said that the sum in the Bill would not exceed that, but there is no reason why the amount should not be extended if necessity arises.

12.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether the houses to be built by the Government in agricultural districts, under the Housing Bill, are to be let at economic rents; and, if so, whether he can state what is an economic rent; and what he proposes is to take place in districts when the labourers cannot afford to pay an economic rent?

20.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture what percentage on the capital outlay he will consider an economic rent for cottages to be built under the provisions of the Housing Bill?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. A cottage let by the State at an economic rent will be let at such a rent as will be sufficient to pay interest on the capital expended and provide for other regular charges on the cottage. In those districts where the wages of labourers are insufficient to enable them to pay an economic rent, the Government's land proposals will provide means for raising their remuneration to the level of a fair living wage.

Will the Government's land proposals raise wages in time to enable men to pay economic rents?

13.

asked whether it is intended by Clause 2 of the Housing Bill to give the Government power to house permanent employés of Government Departments or only men employed temporarily on contract work for the Government; and, if the former, whether the Government propose to build houses for postmen in places where a scarcity now exists?

The object of Clause 2 of the Bill is to provide dwelling accommodation for permanent employés of Government Departments, including postmen, where sufficient accommodation is not already available.

Are we to understand that the Bill will not apply to the temporary navvies who are at Rosyth now, where a great deal of overcrowding has been caused by the action of the Government?

That is obviously an Admiralty question, and I believe that the Admiralty representatives have already made a statement with regard to the contractors' employés.

Is the Bill, or is it not, to deal with the present difficulties at Rosyth?

I have answered the question quite clearly. It is to provide the necessary accommodation for the permanent employés.

Then why did the Prime Minister say the other day that it was necessary to pass the Housing Bill in order to deal with the difficulty at Rosyth?

That is with the object of dealing with the permanent operations. Many of the men who will be permanently employed at Rosyth will have to be provided for next year.

18.

asked whether, under Clause 2 of the Housing Bill, it will be competent for the Commissioners of Woods to erect workmen's dwellings on Crown lands in the Forest of Dean, where there is a serious shortage of such dwellings and where the workpeople are the employés of Government lessees?

Clause 2 of the Housing Bill relates to the Local Government Board and the Commissioners of Works, and does not confer any powers upon the Commissioners of Woods. The latter Commissioners already have power, with the consent of the Treasury, to erect workmen's dwellings on Crown lands, in the Forest of Dean or elsewhere, if they think it desirable to do so, and whether such dwellings are intended for the use of workpeople who are employés of Government lessees or not. I have, as Commissioner of Woods, already offered land in the forest to local authorities on easy terms for building cottages, and am treating with public utility societies in a similar way.

Do the Government intend themselves to put up any cottages in the Forest of Dean or elsewhere?

We do not propose to do so at the present time. Until we see how many cottages are likely to be erected by local authorities and public utility societies I could not make a statement on the subject.

Do I understand that the Government are not prepared to accept the gifts of land which he said last week they probably would accept?

21.

asked what provisions in the Housing Bill would deal with the case of urgent need for ninety-two cottages stated in the Report of a Local Government Board inquiry at present to exist in the sixty-nine parishes comprising the Horncastle rural district area, where the highest rent which the economic condition of the agricultural industry will allow is 3s. per week and the lowest cost of a labourer's cottage, with garden, is £200?

Clause 1 of the Bill would appear to be applicable to the district in question; I am not prepared to admit that the economic difficulties suggested by the hon. Gentleman are insuperable.

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government propose to take the Housing Bill in the present or in the next Session; and whether they propose to deal with the housing question in the towns and industrial districts or to confine themselves solely to the agricultural districts?

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to what I said on Friday last. As regards the second part, the Bill does not deal with urban housing except as may be provided for Government employés under Clause 2. I can make no statement as to the business of next Session.

Can the right hon. Gentleman not say whether the Government intend to deal with the question of urban housing?

52.

asked the Prime Minister how it is proposed under the Government Housing Bill, bearing in mind that only £3,000,000 will be available for the provision of cottages by the Government in rural districts and the consequent sporadic and piecemeal treatment of the housing problem, to prevent irresistible political pressure being brought to bear upon the Government to erect cottages in certain districts and neglect others equally deserving of their sympathetic activities?

The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. The Government intend to supply the deficiency wherever it has arisen and is un-provided for, and the sum mentioned in the Bill is intended to enable a beginning to be made. I may add that the Board hope to have the assistance of public utility societies and of local committees, such as have already been set up in some counties by the Rural Housing Organisation Society, in the selection of the areas in which cottages are most urgently needed.

55.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the advisability of dividing the Housing Bill into two parts in order that the Clauses affecting the housing of employés at Rosyth may not be hampered in their passage into law by the contentious matter contained in other Clauses?

The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. The Government will be prepared, if necessary, to consider the hon. Gentleman's suggestion after the Second Reading of the Bill, but they hope that no such necessity will arise.

Botanic Society (Regent's Park)

14.

asked whether the Botanic Society have for several years sublet a portion of their gardens in Regent's Park for a golf school at a minimum rental of £200 a year; whether this rental has been included in the accounts under receipts for admission to the gardens; whether the tropical medicine garden has recently been rooted up and a number of bushes and trees cut down to provide a new golf ground, and whether these proceedings of the society, which purports to have a botanical object, have been taken with the cognisance and previous approval of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests?

I am informed that the Royal Botanic Society, until recently, sublet a small portion of their gardens for instruction in golf at a minimum rent of £200 a year, which rent I am informed appears as a separate item in the Society's accounts. That part has now been utilised to make better provision for exhibition of flowers, and the Society have recently formed a new small ground (which they are not subletting) for instruction in golf on what was practically waste ground, though it had at one time been used as a "French garden," and some fifteen years ago had been used for growing hardy medicinal and economic plants (not tropical). The new area for instruction in golf has been turfed, and in laying it out a few shrubs were removed or trimmed, and one tree cut down. The Commissioner of Woods in charge (Mr. Leveson-Gower) was not consulted before these small alterations were made, but he sees no reason to object to what has been done.

Does this society, although called the Botanic Society, take any interest whatever in the science of botany?

I could not say without notice. The Commissioners did not hear of these slight alterations until they were completed.

Small Holdings

15.

asked what sum of money in the current financial year it is proposed to spend in the payment of salaries, or salaries and expenses, to the advisers as to small holdings?

I cannot add anything at present to the answer which I gave to the hon. Gentleman's question on this subject on the 25th June.

16.

asked how many of the occupants of small holdings at the 31st December, 1913, or at any other period, obtained in Norfolk under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, were agricultural labourers?

On the 31st December, 1912, the number of small holders, tenants of the county council, in Norfolk was 848, of whom 361 were agricultural labourers. Later figures are not at present available.

17.

asked if it is the intention of the Government to refund or to cause to be refunded to the tenants of small holdings under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, the amount of the sinking fund charged in the rents pay able by the tenants; whether £4,074,885 is the sum paid or to be paid for the purchase of small holdings under the Act by county councils in England and Wales up to the 31st December, 1913; and whether this amount is being paid by the small holders in their rents, except in the case of Glamorgan and the West Riding?

If the hon. Gentleman refers to the sinking fund on land only, the answer to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the last part, I am informed that the answer which I gave to a similar question addressed to me on this subject on the 25th June last was incorrect, and that the rents now charged to small holders in the two counties named are sufficient to provide for the payment of the sinking fund. I would take this opportunity of thanking the hon. Gentleman for enabling me to correct my reply.

How is the right hon. Gentleman going to refund the money paid to the Sinking Fund on the land—through the local authorities or otherwise?

Obviously any financial transactions out of the Small Holdings Account must be done through the local authorities.

Will the right hon. Gentleman call upon the local authorities to refund the amounts they have received, or is he going to provide further money?

Anything that is done in this way will be provided for out of the Small Holdings Account.

Agricultural Education Conference

19.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture when he proposes to convoke the first meeting of the reconstituted Agricultural Education Conference; and why so long a period has been allowed to elapse since its reconstitution before the holding of its first meeting?

The Board have not yet been notified of the election of a representative by the Welsh National Agricultural Society, but otherwise the Conference is complete. I regret to have to say that Mr. Henry Hobhouse has not felt himself able to accept the chairmanship, in consequence of the heavy pressure of his other public work, and while the Conference will still, I am glad to say, have the benefit of his wide knowledge and experience, it is by no means easy to find a suitable successor in the chair who has the time to give to the work. I hope, however, to be able to make a satisfactory announcement on this point shortly, and arrangements will then be made for convening the first meeting of the Conference in the early autumn.

Crown Estate, Romford

22.

asked in what way the purchase of land at Romford on the 8th instant was considered desirable for the improvement of the adjoining Crown estate; and was it done with the object of preventing the building of artisans' houses on the land purchased?

The purchase was effected in order to secure an improved approach to other land belonging to the Crown and so render the latter more available for building. The Commissioner has no knowledge of any proposal to erect artisans' buildings on the land purchased.

23.

asked whether the land purchased at Romford on the 8th instant for £750 would be let on building lease for the purpose of erecting artisans' houses; if so, whether a ground rent securing a return of 4 per cent. on the money invested would be accepted; and, if not, what rent is asked?

The purchase has not yet been completed, and the Commissioner is not at present able to decide on the precise future disposition of the land, nor the rent that should be obtained for it.

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the Crown surveyor differed in the auction room to let it on building lease when he found that those who were inclined to buy it for that purpose were disappointed?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries into the demand, not for artisans' dwellings, but for artisans' small houses?

I have no doubt that when the purchase is complete the Commissioners will make all necessary inquiries.

Government Offices, Edinburgh

25.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether any sum of money is taken in the Office of Works Estimates for any work in connection with the proposed new Government offices in Edinburgh; and what are the present intentions of the First Commissioner with regard to proceeding with these buildings?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The whole subject is receiving the First Commissioner's consideration.

Scottish Office Of Works

26.

asked whether the First Commissioner has consulted with any Scottish Members on the Holmes Report as regards the proposed changes in the Scottish Office of Works; if so, whom; and on what date.

Yes, Sir. The First Commissioner consulted informally with the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, who put a question. He was accompanied by the Chairman and Secretary of the Scottish Liberal Members' Committee.

Was a decision come to on the part of the Scottish Office of Works or of the English Office of Works to call a meeting?

Has the hon. Gentleman proposed a formal conference of Liberal and Unionist Members?

The Commissioners would be very glad to have the opinion of any Member representing a Scottish constituency.

Are we to understand that Members of one side and not of the other were consulted?

I said that they were consulted informally, and I think properly, on certain matters.

National Insurance Act

Subsidiary Employments

27.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in the East, whether he is aware that in many districts the term "potato gatherer" is used to describe those engaged in harvesting the crop and the term "potato-picker" is used to describe those engaged in sorting potatoes at the pie; whether he is aware that both these employments are ordinarily adopted as subsidiary employments only, and not as the principal means of livelihood; and whether, in view of the fact that by Special Order, No. 916, of 1912, persons engaged in harvesting the crop are exempted from insurance if they are not already insured persons, he will advise the National Insurance Commissioners to exempt those engaged in sorting potatoes at the pie from insurance if they are not already insured persons?

The evidence put before the Commission by the representatives of agricultural interests at the time when the Order referred to was under consideration indicated that persons engaged in harvesting the crop were ordinarily persons who were not at other times employed within the meaning of the Act, but that the work of sorting potatoes at the pie was generally undertaken either by permanent farm hands or by women who engage in the regular series of field employments. As at present advised, therefore, the Commissioners do not consider that employment in sorting potatoes at the pie can properly be regarded as a subsidiary employment only.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in certain parts of the country the facts are precisely the opposite of those he has stated?

Oh, no; I have stated that evidence was secured from persons, competent to speak on behalf of the agricultural interests.

Does the hon. Gentleman propose to take steps to ascertain the real facts in other districts so far as they can be obtained?

I imagine that the evidence taken referred to all districts; if the hon. Member has any other evidence perhaps he will lay it before the Commission.

Choice Of Medical Attendant

28.

asked whether the Insurance Commissioners, or any of the insurance committees acting under their directions, claim to have an arbitrary power to refuse an insured person the choice of medical attendant; if so, is there any appeal, and to whom, from any decision come to; and have any Regulations been made upon the subject of applications by insured persons to make their own arrangements, or any definite directions given as to what circumstances should be taken into account in considering such applications?

Section 15 (3) of the Act of 1911 lays upon insurance committees the duty of deciding in the first instance upon applications from insured persons for permission to make their own arrangements. Regulations have been made in pursuance of the Section, and the provisions of Section 67 (2) are applicable to these cases.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in many cases this permission to make these arrangements is wholly ignored by the Committee?

I have stated that it is within the discretion of the Committee as to whether or not they give permission to persons to make their own arrangements.

Does the hon. Gentleman know that the policy of these committees, as a whole, openly stated, is to ignore the granting of this permission?

Whether permission is granted or not is a matter within the discretion of the committee.

Middlesex Committee

29.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, what the reason is for the Middlesex insurance committee delaying to discharge the claim of Mr. A. W. Leonard, of Ealing, in respect of payments made upwards of fifteen months previously for medical attendance and drugs; why a cheque, which was not forwarded until 4th July, 1914, for a proportionate amount of such payments only, should be dated 6th June, 1914, and why drawn on the insurance committee's petty cash account; whether such amount was not forwarded until after personal communication had been sent to the committee by Mr. Masterman; and, if so, what was the reason for this personal influence being exerted?

For the reasons stated in my previons reply to the hon. Member no calculation of the dividend due, and hence no payment could be made out of the Special Arrangements Fund until all accounts had been received. The case of the person referred to was in no way specially dealt with, the whole of the payments having been made at practically the same time.

35.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, whether the Middlesex insurance committee has yet distributed among the panel doctors any of the surplus funds for 1913; if not, what is the reason of the delay; and, if so, will be say what addition it has made to the fixed remuneration per head of persons treated?

Advances have been made to a total amount in excess of the amounts due in respect of insured persons on doctors' lists only; but the difference between the amounts due on the latter basis and the amount due in respect of the total insured population of the area entitled to treatment by doctors on the panel cannot be ascertained until the completion of the settlement now in progress.

36.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, whether the Middlesex insurance committee have distributed among the panel doctors of their area any sum for tuberculosis treatment; and, if no such distribution has taken place, will he say what is the cause of the delay?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; the second does not, therefore, arise.

Maternity Benefit

30.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, why William Deverill, of Chilmark, in the county of Wilts, a poor man with a wife and thirteen children, formerly a member of the Prudential Approved Society, and now a member of the Wiltshire Working Men's Conservative Benefit Society, has failed, in spite of repeated applications, to obtain maternity benefit on the occasion of the birth of his last child from either of the above societies; and whether the Insurance Commissioners will take steps to prevent this insured person from losing the maternity benefit, for the provision of which he has been paying weekly contributions out of his wages, owing to a refusal on the part of each of the above societies to admit its liability?

The Commissioners are informed that doubt arose as to which society was responsible for paying the benefit in question, owing to the fact that the insured person on receiving consent to transfer from his first society failed to inform his new society. They understand, however, that benefit has now been paid.

Is not this difficulty a reason why this man should not have gone to this Conservative society?

There was a doubt which society ought to pay, and the society which actually did pay was the Prudential.

Is the hon. Member aware that there are as many Liberals as Conservatives members of this society?

Amalgamated Society Of Tailors And Tailoresses, Manchester

31.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East whether he is aware that a special levy of 2s. per member has been made by the Amalgamated Society of Tailors and Tailoresses, Manchester; whether, if members refused to pay this levy, they will suffer any and, if so, what disadvantages; and what steps it is proposed to take to deal with such societies?

The Commissioners are informed that the levy referred to is a levy for the requirements of the trade union, with which they are in no way concerned. No levy has been made by the society in connection with national insurance.

Insured Seamen In Hospital

32.

asked if, in cases in which insured seamen are taken ill in a British port and ordered by a doctor into hospital, the expenses which the hospital authorities may require the ship owner to guarantee are in any circum stances recoverable from the insurance authorities; if they are not so recoverable, whether the shipowner can be compelled to pay such expenses; and if, in any proposals brought forward for the amendment of Part I. of the National Insurance Act, consideration will be given to the question of at any rate relieving ship owners of any responsibility for expenses incurred in connection with the medical treatment of insured seamen while in British ports?

The liability of a shipowner to provide surgical and medical advice and attendance and maintenance during periods of illness in respect of the seamen employed by him is determined by the Merchant Shipping Acts, and is not affected by the provisions of the National Insurance Acts. I cannot undertake to anticipate the provisions of future legislation with regard to the liabilities of shipowners to their employés.

Does the hon. Gentleman think it either fair or reasonable that British shipowners should be called upon to pay premiums for benefits they cannot obtain, and that it was never intended that they should obtain?

There is no evidence to show that any such state of affairs as that referred to really exists.

Is the suggestion that I have made in my question correct or is it incorrect? If it is correct are the ship-owners to obtain the benefits they have paid for?

The hon. Member, I think, does not apprehend that these men are dealt with under the Merchant Shipping Acts. Questions of that subject ought to be addressed to the Board of Trade.

National Health (Port Of London Casual Labour)

33.

asked whether the Insurance Commissioners propose to take any steps to explain to waterside labourers the provisions of the proposed National Health (Port of London Casual Labour) Order, 1914?

Yes, Sir. Before the Order comes into operation appropriate steps will be taken to make known its provisions to all persons who will be affected by it.

34.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East whether he has consulted any, and, if so, what representative organisations of waterside labourers in the Port of London as to the scheme for the payment of insurance contributions in respect of casual labour in the Port of London; and whether the scheme has been approved by such organisation?

The Insurance Commissioners called a conference last winter of representatives of all the principal trade unions concerned to discuss the scheme. As a result of this conference a small committee of the trade unions was appointed, with whom the commissioners have been in frequent consultation, and from whom they received a number of suggestions, some of which it was found possible to adopt.

Would the hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of having someone in the vicinity of the port to give to these men information regarding this Section of the Act?

Oh, yes, Sir; if the special Order is upheld, proper steps will taken to ensure that the provisions are made known to all concerned.

Does the hon. Gentleman say that this scheme has been approved by representatives of the trade unions?

I said that it had been prepared in consultation with the representatives of the principal trade unions.

Has it ever been submitted to them since it was completed, and has it been approved by them?

I do not think it is part of the duty of the Commissioners to submit schemes for approval by outside bodies.

Scottish Insurance Commissioners (Report)

49.

asked the Prime Minister, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whether he can say when the second Annual Report of the Scottish Insurance Commissioners will be distributed to Scottish Members?

My hon. Friend can obtain the Report referred to on applying at the Vote Office.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I mean the Scottish Report bound by itself?

National Amalgamated Approved Society

85.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that the agents employed by the National Amalgamated Approved Society, in carrying out the provisions of the National Insurance Act, Part I., cannot get the rules of that society; if he has power to compel the production of rules; and can he take some steps to get better conditions of service for a body of workers but little removed from Government servants?

Any member of the society referred to can obtain a copy of the rules at the price of 2d. The nature of the documents or instructions issued by approved societies to their employés, and the conditions of employment, are matters to be settled between the societies and their employés themselves; the Commissioners have no power to interfere in the internal government of societies in the manner suggested.

Royal Navy

Armed Merchant Vessels

37.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the case of merchant vessels now armed by the Admiralty, the commanders are officers under the Admiralty; whether the crews are under naval discipline; and, if not, whether any conditions are enforced that a certain proportion of officers and crew of the armed merchantmen should have served in the Navy?

The answer to all three parts of the question is in the negative.

38.

asked whether, in the case of merchantmen armed for use in warfare, inspections are made and experiments are attempted to see whether the guns mounted on these ships can be safely and properly handled; whether, in the course of their voyages, occasions are found for firing these guns; and whether the results of such gun trials or inspections have given satisfaction?

The reply to all three parts of the question is in the affirmative, except that no such tests have been made outside Home waters.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there have been any difficulties of vibration because of the firing of the guns on merchantships?

Elementary Education

40.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that the Paul's Parochial School, Hampstead is held under a lease from the Provost and College of Eton by which the lessees covenant not to alter or add to the schoolhouse and buildings without the licence of the lessors, and that on 20th July, 1887, Eton College gave such licence to the trustees to erect a parish room on part of the site; whether he is aware that the Board of Education inspectors reported on 4th March, 1914 that none of the rooms are well lighted or ventilated, the difficulties being accentuated by the building of the parish room against a wall which should contain windows, and that the noises in this room disturb the work of the school; whether the Board of Education have decided that there are other substantial defects prejudicial to the efficient conduct of the school; and whether he will represent to the Provost and College of Eton the desirability of withdrawing the licence for the parish room and in other ways making the school suitable and worthy of the estate?

The facts are substantially as stated in the question. The Board have drawn attention to the defects of the school, which are now under the consideration of the local education authority and the managers. I do not think that it would be proper for me to interfere between the landlord and tenant or to make any such representations as are suggested.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that Eton, the richest school in the world, is getting its money from the rent of a thoroughly ineffective school for the poor?

All I have to say at present is that the defects are engaging the attention of the local education authority, and the managers' attention will be drawn to them. At the moment I do not propose to take any further steps.

42.

asked the President of the Board of Education, whether his attention has been called to a summons heard before the Feltham magistrates on Monday last, when the head mistress of the Woodthorpe Road School, Ashford, was charged with assaulting a thirteen year old girl named Ivy Cooper by severely punishing her with a ruler or pointer three feet in length and heating the child on the hands and legs; whether he is aware that the medical man who examined the girl deposed to finding a lump as large as a walnut on the back of the right hand, a livid mark five inches long across the throat, and marks on the left hand, knuckles, and left arm, and across the body down to the thigh; that the accused admitted that she had caned a boy from the workhouse with a sugar cane with knots in it; whether her punishment book recorded twelve corporal punishments on recent dates; what notice will be taken of this case; and how far does the Education Department exercise control over school punishments?

I gather from reports which have appeared in the Press that when the case was heard the magistrates were unable to agree. I understand that the parents are applying for a fresh summons, and as the case may become the subject of further legal proceedings it would obviously be improper for me to express any opinion on it at the present stage.

In regard to how far does the Board of Education exercise control over school punishments?

The Board of Education have the power to inspect the punishment book, and they have power in extreme cases to withdraw the teacher's certificate. The dismissal of the teacher is a matter for the local education authority, not for the Board of Education.

The local education authorities have the power to dismiss any of their servants if they think they have given excessive punishment. I am not aware of any precedent in regard to the withdrawal of a teacher's certificate for abuse of powers in connection with corporal punishment. I will look into the matter if the hon. Member desires.

Finance Act (Education Grant)

41.

asked for the names of the new participants in the necessitous areas Grant and the amounts which each will receive?

I am afraid that I shall not be able to give the names of the new participants and the amounts they will each receive for at least three or four months. We have issued a circular to all local education authorities and now await their replies.

School Inspector (Retirement)

43.

asked the President of the Board of Education if his attention has been called to the case recently reported in which an inspector of the Board of Education in 1908 had his salary increment withheld by the secretary to the Board, although the usual increment certificate had been duly signed by the inspector's superior officer; if the inspector in question was subsequently retired on a small pension; if the secretary gave instructions and, if so, to whom, that the inspector should be informed of the reasons for stopping his advance; if such instructions were carried out; if, early in 1913, five years after the matter first arose, an inquiry was opened into the case; by whom such inquiry was ordered and of whom the Court consisted; if the inspector was given an opportunity of stating his case to the Court; if the Court made a report, and, if so, to whom; and if a copy of such Report can be laid upon the Table?

The case referred to is that of an inspector who was removed from his office as from the 30th September, 1911, on account of his inability to discharge efficiently the duties of his office. He had then served nine years, and under the provisions of the Superannuation Act of 18ST, the Treasury awarded him a lump sum of £175 11s. 1d. and a pension of £62 8s. per annum. In April, 1912, I received a statement, made on behalf of the inspector by his father, alleging grievances in respect of the circumstances which led up to his removal from the service. I directed an inquiry to be held into all the circumstances and into the grievances alleged, and requested Sir Thomas Milvain, K.C., Judge Advocate-General, to hold the inquiry. At the request of the complainants the inquiry was postponed until February, 1913. The case on both sides was conducted by eminent counsel instructed by solicitors, and the matters mentioned in the first eight lines of the hon. Member's question were all included in the reference to Sir Thomas Milvain. Sir Thomas Milvain reported to me that upon the eighth day of the inquiry the inspector, while under examination, expressed a desire to confer with his father and with counsel, and that a conference then took place between counsel on both sides, at which an agreement was reached and terms drawn up rendering further inquiry unnecessary. The agreement, of which a copy was furnished me by Sir Thomas Milvain, contained a withdrawal of all charges contained in the petition. In these circumstances, I see no advantage in now giving particulars of allegations, all of which have been withdrawn.

Was it not part of the agreement that the charge should be withdrawn in return for the lump sum paid as compensation?

I think there was no condition of that sort, but an undertaking was given by the Board of Education to use their best efforts.

The charges hanging over this man's head for five years were all withdrawn by the Board of Education?

The charges and allegations were made by an inspector; it was these allegations that were withdrawn.

Merthyr School Teachers' Salaries

44.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether the local education authority at Merthyr have acquiesced in the decision of the Board of Education and will pay the salaries of the Roman Catholic school teachers held by the Board to have been illegally dismissed; and, if not, will the Board apply for a mandamus to compel such payment?

I understand that the authority are taking counsel's opinion with reference to the Board's decision. I am unable to make any statement as to the action the Board may take until the authority have had sufficient opportunity of considering their legal position.

May I ask if the local authority are not in receipt of a Grant in respect of this school which they are not keeping efficient?

The matter is one on which the opinion of counsel is being taken, and I do not think I ought to commit myself in regard to any course I may take until I know what the attitude of the local authority is in regard to the matter.

Baby Clinics And Schools For Mothers

45.

asked the Prime Minister if it has now been decided what Departments are to be responsible for the administration of Grants to baby clinics and schools for mothers; and whether he can say what the arrangement is?

Any funds available for Grants to institutions of the nature of baby clinics and infant dispensaries whose primary object is to provide medical and surgical advice and treatment for infants and little children will be administered by the Local Government Board. Grants to institutions of the nature of schools for mothers, the object of which is primarily educational, which provide training and instruction for mothers in the care and management of infants and little children, and which may include systematic classes, or home visiting, or infant consultations (the provision of specific medical and surgical advice the treatment, if any, being only incidental), will be administered by the Board of Education Any cases of doubt or difficulty will be investigated by a Joint Committee of officers of the two Boards, which will include women medical officers.

East India Revenue Accounts

47.

asked the Prime Minister when the East India Revenue Accounts will be taken?

Returning Officers' Expenses

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has abandoned the suggestion of making the returning officer's expenses a charge on the public as in all other elections; and, if so, will he say why in elections for the House of Commons candidates should be asked to provide all the machinery for enabling the electorate to record their votes?

The answer is in the negative. The Government are fully aware of the desirability of the change suggested by my hon. Friend.

British Army

Inspector-General Of The Forces

53.

asked the Prime Minister whether any decision has been come to with respect to the appointment of a new Inspector-General of the Forces; and, if not, whether he will be able to give some information as to the proposals of the Government before the close of the present Session?

I propose to make a statement upon the matter before the close of the Session.

Army Pensions (Quarterly Payments)

57.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether frequent representations have been made that quarterly payments of pensions to Army pensioners is not only inconvenient but objectionable; and whether he will consider whether it is possible to make these payments at more frequent intervals, so that the men and their families may better enjoy the pension benefits?

Such representations are made from time to time, and the question of more frequent payments has more than once been thoroughly considered, but, for reasons which I am explaining to my hon. Friend more fully than is possible in an answer to a question, the Army Council are unable to introduce a universal change in the direction of more frequent payments.

Canteens Committee

59.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to the fact that no member of the Canteens Committee has had any practical experience of the canteen system; and whether he will consider the advisability of appointing two-additional members to this Committee, one of whom shall have had an extensive experience in catering and the other of whom shall have served in the ranks as a private soldier and has knowledge of his wants and grievances?

I see no need to alter the constitution of the Committee, which has already met. I am satisfied that its members have the necessary experience to enable them to deal with the question referred to them. Representatives of all the interests concerned will, no doubt, be able to lay their views before the Committee.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it would not be advisable to have private traders represented on this Committee besides catering companies and large firms like Harrods Stores?

Redford Barracks

60.

asked the Secretary of State for War if a date has now been fixed for the occupation of Redford Barracks and whether the Scots Greys are being removed there this year; and, if so, could he name a date?

The Scots Grays will move to Redford Barracks during the coming winter. No date has yet been fixed.

Army Rifle Meeting, Pirbright

61.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, with one exception, no senior general officer went to the Army rifle meeting recently held at Pirbright; and, if so, what steps he pro poses to take in future to remedy the lack of interest displayed?

Such a fact as that mentioned would not be reported to the Army Council, who do not propose to take any action in the matter. Attendance at this meeting is not compulsory.

Queen Alexandra Nursing Service

63.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, under the Regulations of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, it is compulsory for a staff nurse or sister to hold a certificate of three years' training in a recognised hospital?

Desertions (Percentage)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the net loss from desertions during the five years from 1904 to 1908 amounted to 6,086, or 3.22 per cent. of the total number of recruits enrolled during the same period, and during the five years 1909 to 1913 amounted to 7,002, or 4.72 per cent. of the total number of recruits enrolled during the same period; and, if so, to what cause does he assign the higher percentage of loss from desertion to men enrolled in the latter period?

On the basis taken the hon. Member's percentages appear to be approximately correct. But if the desertions in the first year only be considered there has been a slight diminution in the last four years. Similarly, the last four years show a slight decrease in the total struck off for desertion, without counting those who have rejoined. As regards the second part of the question it is difficult, especially within the limits of an answer to a question, to deal satisfactorily with the causes of desertion, but it may be due to the general causes which have affected recruiting, namely, increased emigration facilities and greater attractions of civil life.

Special Reserve

66.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can explain why the deficiency of first and second lieutenants actually serving in the Infantry of the Special Reserve is 1,194, seeing that the total deficiency in the Special Reserve is only 370?

My reply to the hon. Member of the 26th ultimo took account of all the officers on the strength of the Special Reserve, namely, those in units and those on the supplementary list.

Does the right hon. Gentleman include in those figures the officers of the Infantry of the Special Reserve actually serving in the Regular forces?

Those who are on the supplementary list are ready to go up on mobilisation, but they do not go into training or into camp.

Are officers ever counted twice over in the Special Reserve and the Regular Army?

Revenue And Insurance Act Amendment Bills

54.

asked the Prime Minister if it is the intention of the Government to introduce and pass into law the Revenue Bill and the National Insurance Act Amendment Bill in the Winter Session before Christmas?

I fear I cannot add anything to what I have already said with regard to next Session.

Did the right hon. Gentleman not say on Friday the Bill should be dropped and reintroduced?

Provided School Managers (Norfolk)

67.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that out of the six local managers of the Burston and Shimpling, Norfolk, provided school, two are clergymen, the rectors of Burston and Shimpling, respectively, and one the wife of a clergyman, the rector of Burston and his wife both being managers, thus giving two votes from one house and family in the case of the dismissal of teachers; whether he has considered the legality or otherwise of the appointment of the parish manager of the school as representing Shimpling; whether, on the last occasion of his appointment, April, 1913, any public notice had been given of his proposed appointment or election; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?

I have no information as to the persons forming the body of managers at this school, or as to the manner in which the parish meeting of Shimpling appointed their representative. The Board have no power to decide questions relating to the legality of the appointment of managers of council schools, and in the circumstances I do not propose to take any action in the matter.

68.

asked the President of the Board of Education, in view of the convictions held in the parishes of Burston Shimpling, Norfolk, and in the surrounding localities in regard to the dismissal of the teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Higdon, from the Burston and Shimpling provided school as being uncalled for and unjust, and of the suspicion of church and political partisanship as being the real reasons underlying these dismissals, and in view of the present position of affairs in Burston, where the parents have since 1st April persistently refused to send their children to the council school as a protest against the dismissal of these teachers, if he will consider the possibility of the Board of Education interviewing at this stage and either advising the reinstatement of the teachers concerned or instituting a thorough public investigation into the causes leading up to and culminating in their dismissal; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?

It would, I think, be inconsistent with the relations which Parliament has established between the Board of Education and responsible local education authorities that I should intervene in a matter of this kind. I understand that the action of the local education authority was taken after an investigation at which the teacher was legally represented.

Mines Inspection (South Wales)

69.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the report of the inspector of mines in the South Wales division for 1913, which purports to describe the care, condition, and treatment of 17,744 horses used underground in that division, occupies, apart from statistics, only six lines; whether the report made to the inspector of mines for that division by the special horse inspector for that division for 1913 contained fuller information, and whether the same will be published; and whether he will ascertain and inform the House how many separate mines in that division were inspected in 1913 by the special horse inspector, how many mines were so inspected more than once, and how many horses were actually inspected?

The inspector for the South Wales district is a man of few words but great administrative ability, and the hon. Member must not measure the amount of work done by the brevity of his reports. I find that between February and December, 1913, in addition to inspection by the general staff, 219 mines were inspected and 6,264 horses individually examined by the horse inspector. I am not, however, satisfied that in South Wales the ground has been adequately covered, and the chief inspector who visits South Wales next month, will advise me whether additional staff or better arrangements are required. Fuller reports will be made in future.

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the inspector for the South Wales division to send in a further report describing the result of his inspections?

I mean for the past year (1913), the inspections which the right hon. Gentleman said were frequent.

I will consider that point, but I could not promise hastily to issue another report.

White City (Indian Reservation Performances)

70.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that some days ago it was announced that a dog would be killed, stewed, and eaten in public as a quasi-religious sacrifice, but that, on the intervention, not of the Home Office, but of the National Canine Defence League, the dog was at the last moment removed from the menu and a lamb killed by a local butcher was substituted; and whether his Department will keep a vigilant eye on the performances in the Indian reservation at the White City with the object of preventing uncivilised practices?

I find that a statement to the effect that a dog was to be killed and eaten appeared in the Press, but it is very doubtful whether anything of the sort was really intended. Immediately on the publication of the report the police, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the National Canine Defence League represented to the authorities of the exhibition that such a proceeding ought not to be allowed, and the secretary of the exhibition forbade anything of the kind taking place. I am informed that it is not the fact that the dog was removed from the menu at the last moment and a lamb substituted. No dog was killed or obtained for the purpose mentioned. The police will do their best to prevent any objectionable practices of this sort at the exhibition or elsewhere.

Convict's Licence (John Clare)

71.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will state the considerations which influenced him in granting a fresh licence to John Clare, a convict on ticket-of-leave, who pleaded guilty to stealing a gold watch; whether he had official information to the effect that Clare had made a genuine attempt to earn an honest living as a bootmaker, but was driven from his employment because his shopmates refused to work with him; and, if so, whether such a situation frequently occurs; and whether he will consider the advisability of instituting some form of inquiry as to the employment of discharged prisoners?