asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the number of Russian officers at present employed with the Persian Cossacks, and whether he can say if the number has been increased or diminished since the beginning of the year?
The answer to the first part of the question is ten. I cannot say whether there has been any increase or decrease this year.
asked if the Russian consular authorities at Ispahan have Persian Cossacks commanded by Russian officers as consular guards, or is any necessary protection given by the Swedish gendarmerie?
The general rule throughout Persia is that consulates have guards, of the consul's own nationality, and not Persian Cossacks. I have no reason to believe that this rule does not prevail at Ispahan.
Has the British Consul any Indian guards at Ispahan?
I cannot say without notice.
asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he has official information to the effect that a sum of £42,000 belonging to-the Persian Government, and set aside by them for the payment of police and gendarmerie, has been impounded by the Russian authorities, and that in consequence the police are clamouring for arrears of pay and the Swedish officers of gendarmerie are threatening to resign; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take?
It appears that the surplus of the northern customs has been used to meet certain unexpected Russian demands. This has naturally increased the difficulties of the financial situation, but I have no information to show that the failure to pay the gendarmerie has been solely due to this fresh claim on the Treasury. I have instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg to discuss the whole matter with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Does not this action constitute a serious encroachment on the independence of the Persian Government?
I understand there are certain Russian claims on this particular sum which, according to my information, is not £42,000. But still a big sum has been retained to pay Russian claims, and the point I am raising is that it is very undesirable to press claims on Persia so as to increase her financial embarrassment.
Is this sum any part of the loan we made to Persia?
Certainly not. The loan we made is ear-marked for the purpose of the gendarmerie. This is a sum received from the Northern Customs.
asked whether the Russian authorities have signified their intention to permit the removal of Shuja-ud-Dowleh from the Governorship of Azerbaijan by the Persian Government; whether any withdrawal of Russian troops from that province is made dependent upon an increase of the Persian Cossacks commanded by Russian officers by an equal number of men; and whether an augmentation of the Persian (Swedish) gendarmerie in the North must be met by an identical increase of the Cossack Brigade?
I cannot give information as to possible or prospective changes in the Governorship of Azerbaijan. The withdrawal of Russian troops is stated to be dependent on the degree of order in Azerbaijan. The question of an increase in the Cossack Brigade and of strengthening the gendarmerie is still under consideration.
Does not this interference with the prerogative of the Persian Government in dismissing and appointing Governors of districts detract very greatly from the prestige of the Persian Government? Is it not a humiliation?
There has always been a certain amount of influence exercised in regard to the appointments of Governors, but, as I have said, I cannot give any information as to the possible or prospective changes in this Governorship. I do not understand there is any disagreement between the Russian and Persian Governments on this point at the present moment.
asked if the action of the Russian authorities in collecting taxes in Azerbaijan was undertaken at the invitation of M. Mornand, the Treasurer-General; whether the Persian Government, in consequence, wished to dismiss M. Mornand, but were unable to do so because of the opposition of the Russian authorities, and also because of the threat made by the Belgian Government that the dismissal of M. Mornand would be followed by the withdrawal of all Belgian officials now in Persia?
I am informed that the action of the Russian Government was due to a misunderstanding of a suggestion made by M. Mornand. I have no information in the sense of the second part of the question.
Is it true that M. Mornand has resigned?
I must ask for notice of that question.
Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the full and exact information is received by the Russian Foreign Office in St. Petersburg concerning the doings of their subordinates in Persia?
That question could be addressed to no one except the Russian Minister.
Wireless Telegraphy (China)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to an announcement from Shanghai that a-complete chain of Telefunken wireless stations is in process of completion in China; whether he is aware that the Chinese Government had intended to authorise Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company to issue £2,000,000 Chinese bonds in payment of Marconi wireless stations in China on the basis of a formal contract; whether he can state which of these two companies is to receive the wireless privileges in China; and what steps he can take to protect the interests of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, with which the Government is in contractual relationship?
I have seen the announcement referred to by the hon. Member, and am aware that a preliminary understanding of the nature described was entered into between the Marconi Company and the Chinese Minister of Finance. The Company have been informed that His Majesty's Government are prepared to afford them such support as they properly can, and will no doubt apply for support whenever they consider it necessary. I have, however, no information as to which of the two companies is to receive the wireless privileges of China.
Will the two contracts compete in any way?
I cannot say.
Is full value in the stations which are being erected being given for this loan of £2,000,000?
That is a matter—if I understand my hon. Friend's question rightly—between the Chinese Government and the people with whom they are making the contract. I understand the particular question to be whether if there is competition between a British company and a foreign company the British company will receive diplomatic support such as is usually given, and that question I have answered.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the Government has made any loan or advance to the State or kingdom of Albania or is under any financial obligation to make any such loan?
An advance of £5,000 was made by His Majesty's Government last December towards the relief of distress in Albania, as was stated in the House on the 19th February, but this was not strictly speaking an advance to the Government of Albania, as it was not under their control. The question of an international loan is under consideration, but His Majesty's Government are under no obligation to contribute anything to it.
Ottoman Public Debt (Sir Adam Block)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Sir Adam Block, British delegate and President of the Council of Administration of the Ottoman Public Debt, is chairman of the Imperial Ottoman Docks, Arsenals, and Naval Construction Company; whether he has considered the position of the British delegate in connection with the objects and work of this company; whether Sir Adam Block informed the Foreign Office that he was undertaking the position of chairman; whether the permission or sanction of the Foreign Office in this matter was given to Sir Adam Block; and whether any communications on this subject have passed between the Turkish Government and the Foreign Office?
In the early part of this year I was informed unofficially that the Constantinople Dockyard and Arsenal Company were desirous of obtaining the services of Sir Adam Block as chairman. I replied that the matter seemed one for private arrangement between the company and the Council of Foreign Bondholders, in whose service Sir Adam Block was. The Turkish Ambassador, in reply to an inquiry from him, was informed of this view. Understanding from a subsequent communication from the Turkish Ambassador that the Turkish Government desired the appointment and hoped no objection would be made to it, I expressed myself as favourable to it on general grounds; there was no question of my giving permission or sanction to Sir Adam Block, who is not, as British delegate on the Council of the Debt, appointed by or under the control of His Majesty's Government.
Was the approval of any other Government besides that of the Russian Government notified to the Foreign Office?
I do not see how the Russian Government came into the matter at all. I have not heard that any other foreign Government was consulted at all about the appointment of Sir Adam Block.
Is Sir Adam Block still holding an appointment in the Diplomatic Service, and, if so, what is the nature of that appointment?
He was in the Diplomatic Service, but I think I am correct in saying that he has no appointment in the Diplomatic Service now. He was the British delegate on the Council of Foreign Debt, and in that capacity he was appointed by and responsible to the Council of Foreign Bondholders, who are, of course, independent of His Majesty's Government.
Tokio (British Ambassador)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Ambassador in Tokio was last year in close contact with Mr. A. M. Pooley, recently condemned in Japan to imprisonment for blackmail and bribery; and whether he has called, or will call, for an explanation from the Ambassador of his relations with Mr. Pooley?
It is incorrect to state that His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokio was in "close contact" with Mr. Pooley. His Excellency informed me of such steps as he had taken with regard to information that had reached him, and his action appeared to me to be quite right.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman answer directly the last part of the question—whether he has called, or will call, for an explanation from the Ambassador?
Certainly I am not going to call for any explanation, because I heard at the time of the information which reached the Ambassador and what steps he had taken. This is a matter in which I understand that the man who was prosecuted has made an appeal, and it would be quite improper for me to state what information the British Ambassador may or may not have had, pending the trial.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to massacres in Epirus; and whether he has any information showing that definite steps will be taken by the Greek Government to put an end to this state of affairs?
I have little to add to what I have already told the House on this subject. The accounts of what has occurred in Southern Albania are very distressing, but I have received no details in regard to actual excesses or massacres, and such reports as have reached me as to the numbers that have been rendered homeless are from unofficial sources, which cannot all be considered as quite reliable. In Valona itself I hear from a reliable private source that there are now some 12,000 refugees, but I fear that it cannot be doubted that in the country round thousands more are destitute and in urgent need of the necessaries of life Some proposals have been made for their immediate relief. The Italian Government informed me that they were prepared to send maize and other necessaries at once, and His Majesty's Government are ready to bear their share of the cost, if the other Powers do likewise. I have since heard that the refugees have declined the maize and that the International Commission of Control have placed 100,000 frs. at the disposal of a special committee for purposes of immediate relief. Furthermore, the Powers are considering the dispatch from Durazzo of an international mission who will endeavour to elucidate past occurrences, and, I trust, contribute to the restoration of some sort of order and confidence. Such information as I have received that seemed trustworthy respecting excesses in Epirus I have brought to the knowledge of the Greek Government, pointing out that though I am convinced that M. Venizelos earnestly desires to prevent these occurrences, the fact of their being due to Greeks, however irresponsible, must produce a very unfavourable impression.
Ill-Treatment By Police (Bengal)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the statistics received from the province of Bengal of alleged serious ill-treatment or torture by the police in the year 1912–13, from which it appears that sixty-two cases were reported, that fifty were brought before the criminal Courts, that twelve resulted in the conviction of the accused constable, and seven are said to have been compromised; whether he can say how these figures compare with the figures of other years in Bengal; and whether he has received any similar report from other provinces?
The answer to the first part is in the affirmative, except that the number of convictions was thirteen, and not twelve, as stated. In regard to the second part, it is not possible to institute an exact comparison, since the reports for previous years do not furnish exactly comparable statistics. In reply to the third part, statements regarding cases of ill-treatment by the police are given in the annual police reports of the various provinces. I shall be glad to place these reports at the disposal of my hon. Friend.
Can the hon. Gentleman say generally whether the police torture in other provinces is commensurate with the police torture that takes place in Bengal; is it not a fact that in the last six years seventeen persons have died under police torture in India, and what steps have the Government taken?
Will the hon. Member please put that question down on the Paper?
Press Act, 1910
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he has now received the report of the judgment of the Chief Court of the Punjab in the appeal brought by the proprietor of the "Zemindar Press" of Lahore against a declaration of forfeiture made under the Press Act, 1910; whether, as the result of this appeal, the proprietors of this newspaper are penalised by a fine of £800 and the total loss of printing presses, together with the payment of costs on account of certain articles, which were held to be likely to spread dissatisfaction; whether he is aware that one of these articles was in effect a criticism of the Prime Minister and Lord Crewe for declining to see two representative Mahomedans who had come to London at the request of a large body of fellow Mahomedans to complain of the operation of the Press Act; whether any of the articles contained any incitement whatever to violence or disorder; and whether, in view of all the circumstances of this case, the Secretary of State will take any action in the matter?
The answers to the first, second, and third parts are in the affirmative, except that there were two orders of forfeiture and two judgments of the Chief Court. In regard to the fourth part, the Chief Court have upheld the local Government in its view that the articles were likely to bring into hatred and contempt and to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in British India. The Secretary of State does not propose to interfere in this case.
Can the hon. Gentleman say why the Secretary of State refused to see these two men who came over purposely as representing the people in India? The Secretary of State is paid a big salary, and is it not part of his duty?
I think the Secretary of State, in his discretion, did not see any occasion for seeing these gentlemen.
Was it not admitted that this paper is generally conducted on lines which are perfectly compatible with loyalty to this country, and that these were exceptional articles rather in the nature of criticism than incitements to sedition?
I cannot accept that version of the judgment. The view expressed by the judgment was that the tone of the articles must be regarded as being characteristic of the paper as a whole.
Confessions To Police
15 and 16.
asked the Under Secretary of State for India (1) whether the Secretary of State has yet come to any decision either to abolish or perpetuate the existing practice in India under which accused persons alleged to have confessed their guilt to the police are liable to have their confessions recorded by a magistrate and then used against them at their trial, without being given any opportunity of examining or cross-examining the policeman to whom they are alleged to have confessed; and (2) whether it is the intention of the Secretary of State to sanction the continuance of the system of committing accused or suspected persons in India to the personal custody of the police who are investigating the crime and to allow them to remain in that custody for as long as fifteen days and to be interrogated by the police for the purpose of eliciting a confession of guilt to be afterwards recorded and used against the prisoners at their trial?
Under Indian law the police are not permitted to interrogate a prisoner with a view to eliciting a confession, and a confession made to the police may not be recorded or admitted in evidence. There is thus no question of examining or cross-examining a police officer with regard to an alleged confession. The question of the treatment of confessions voluntarily made to magistrates before trial, including the remand to police custody of the accused, is still under consideration in connection with the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Has not this question been under consideration for over two years, and how soon will a decision be reached?
I think it has been under consideration for about that time, but careful opinions have been collected of the various local governments of India, and that takes time.
Have not these quaint and un-English judicial methods the direct effect of encouraging torture by the police in order to elicit evidence, and are any really strong steps being taken by the India Office to put a stop entirely to this practice of torture?
No, Sir. The Indian law is much stricter in its precautions to defend accused persons than the English law. Every effort as the hon. Member knows perfectly well, is made to root out the practice.
Indian Cavalry Regiments
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he can now say what steps have been or will be taken either to promote or else to compensate those officers of the Indian Army who would be debarred from promotion to the command of their regiments by the operation of the new rules introduced in December last?
The Secretary of State for India in Council has approved the Grant of a special rate of unemployed pay to officers vacating appointments in Indian Cavalry regiments under the orders referred to. He has also authorised relaxation of the rules in special cases where they occasion real hardship to existing seconds in command.
Public House Licences
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before the Finance Act of 1909, the City and County of London paid one-eighth of the total sum paid for licences for public-houses and beer-houses in the United Kingdom, exclusive of London; whether, for the five complete years ended 31st March, 1914, the aggregate duties have been no less than £3,207,000 for London and £14,683,000 for the whole of the United Kingdom, exclusive of London, equal to nine-fortieths; whether, if the old proportion had been maintained, London would have paid £1,300,000 less during the five years, equivalent to an excess for London of over £250,000 a year; whether the rate of increase has been in London 193 per cent. and the rest of the United Kingdom 76 per cent., and the average payment has risen from £28 to £87 in London, and in the rest of the United Kingdom from £14 to £20; and when he proposes to redress this state of affairs?
Before the Licence Duties were increased by the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, the city and county of London contributed about one-ninth of the total sum paid for licences for public houses and beer houses in the United Kingdom, and if this proportion had been maintained London would have paid about £1,980,000 out of the total amount collected in respect of those licences for the five years ended 31st March, 1914. The amounts which have actually been paid for the city and county of London for this period are not shown in the official records, for the reason explained on the 1st May, 1913, in a reply I gave to the right hon. Gentleman who was then Member for East Worcestershire, and I am not therefore in a position to check the comparison made by the hon. Member. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for East Nottingham on the 25th ultimo.
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to do anything to redress this manifest injustice?
As the hon. Member knows very well, I have done my best to induce the licensed victuallers to supply mc with information which would enable us to introduce a Bill to levy on the basis rather of the trade done. That would be very much better adapted to the case. Up to the present I have not succeeded, because the interests of the London licensed victuallers and those of the country are in direct opposition.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the information he asked for was perfectly useless for the purpose?
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that this injustice affects not merely licence holders, but the ratepayers of the whole of London, because the other ratepayers have to make up the reduction in the rateable value of licensed premises?
I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it Has an indirect effect undoubtedly on the rates.
asked whether the assessment to Income Tax for 1914–15 on income from possessions will be based on the average income which accrued due in each of the three preceding years?
I think this is the question which was put to me yesterday.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my question yesterday referred to incomes actually received, whereas this refers to income accrued due, and is it not the fact that income which accrues due is not paid until the following tax year?
I will consider the point, but I was under the impression that it was practically the same question.
I will ask the same question on Monday.
Settlement Estate Duty
asked whether, in cases where Settlement Estate Duty has been claimed on the occasion of deaths which have already occurred but has not yet been paid, it will now be exacted?
The answer is in the affirmative in the case of deaths occurring before the 12th May last.
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that this will be retrospective against the subject and not against himself?
It simply means that you cannot discriminate against people who pay their duty promptly. Those who have delayed paying Death Duties cannot be put in a better position than those who have not.
Is it the case that they will be called upon to pay the premium for insurance after the Insurance policy is voided?
They will be called upon to pay exactly what everyone else has paid before May, and it would be very unfair that these people should have a special advantage because they delayed payment of duty.
Is it not the fact that they will be called upon to pay after the bargain has already been repudiated?
I repeat that they will be called upon to pay what everyone else has paid under the same conditions as before.
Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean to insist on exacting the insurance premium when the policy itself has been voided, and that these people will be made to pay the duty when the consideration for which they are to pay it is not to be received?
Unless that were done we should also have to refund the money which has been paid by others, and where is that going to end?
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that that is the consequence of his own legislation, and not the fault of these people?
That is a matter which was argued in the House. If a thing is to be done you have to fix some date and you cannot discriminate as between people under the same circumstances, having to pay the same sum of money under the same law.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is only the rich people who are now complaining about the Budget?
Road Board (Chairmanship)
asked whether the chairmanship of the Road Board is a full-time appointment; and, if this is so, how Sir George Gibb can have time for the duties of the chairmanship of the committee for inquiring into the Holt Committee Report?
The statutory duties of the Chairman of the Road Board occupy his full time, but I hope that he may be able without undue inconvenience to perform the duties of Chairmanship of the Post Office Wages Committee, which he has been requested by the President of the Board of Trade to undertake.
Do his duties take up the whole time?
Certainly. They are very onerous duties. At the same time, Civil servants very often are invited to assist Committees and Commissions of this sort. Unless they were these Committees would suffer a good deal.
Who will undertake his duties when he is obliged to attend the meetings?
Surely the whole of his time will not be taken up by the Committee. He will be able to attend to the work of the Board. I have made inquiries about that. It may involve overtime, but he will be able to do it.
Will not onerous duties be imposed on the Road Board with reference to accounts under the Revenue Bill, and, if so, how will this official find time, being Chairman of a very important Committee?
I hope the Committee will have reported before the duties cast on him by the Revenue Bill will begin.
Land Valuation Department
asked whether up to October last travelling expenses and subsistence allowances were paid to assistant valuers under the Valuation Department when they were sent into the country to inspect properties; whether they were engaged on the understanding that this was the practice; whether since October last these allowances have been withheld; and, if so, on what grounds?
There has been no alteration in the regulations which govern the travelling expenses and subsistence allowance.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question on the Paper: Whether this allowance was given up to October last, and whether it has since been withdrawn?
I have said there is no alteration in the practice at all.
Land Court (Scotland)
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the special cases stated by the Land Court to the Court of Session for opinion are still being delayed through the continued illness of Lord Kennedy, the president of the Land Court; whether these cases have been before the Court since August, 1913; how much longer it is expected they will be delayed; and whether some steps will be taken to prevent similar delay in the future?
I have done all that is in my power to facilitate the work of the Land Court by appointing an interim chairman in terms of Section 3 (5) of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911, to act during the temporary absence through ill-health of Lord Kennedy. I understand the interim chairman is dealing with special cases along with the other work of the Court.
Is it the fact that none of these applications have ever been decided against Lord Kennedy, and therefore does it matter whether they are heard at all?
I cannot answer that question without notice.
Fishing Industry (Fraserburgh)
27 and 28.
asked the Secretary for Scotland (1) if there are upwards of 2,000 people from the Highlands and Islands engaged in the fishing industry at present at Fraserburgh; and whether any inspection of their quarters is made by a local government inspector; and (2) whether, in 58, Castle Street, Fraserburgh, there are a number of young women lodged in connection with an adjoining herring-curing yard; whether there are six grown-up young women sleeping three to a bed in low rooms fourteen feet square, the bedding being of straw; whether there is no through ventilation; whether the skylights are sealed with cement; whether the occupation of herring-curing is wet, dirty, and odoriferous; whether as a result there has been considerable sickness, the sick having in some cases to sleep three in a bed along with the healthy; and if he will say what steps he will take to remedy matters?
I am informed that the number of persons from the Highlands and Islands at present engaged in the fishing industry at Fraserburgh is, approximately, as stated by the Noble Marquess. A medical inspector of the Local Government Board is at present in Fraserburgh examining the conditions, but I have not yet received information on the detailed statements contained in the second question.
Housing Conditions (Greenock)
asked the Secretary for Scotland when he will be able to publish the Report of the inquiry by the Scottish Local Government Board in reference to the housing conditions of Greenock?
The Report is at present before the Local Government Board who propose to obtain forthwith the observations of the local authority, and will thereafter consider the question of its publication.
Small Holdings (Scotland)
asked whether the bed-recesses in the new kind of cottage which the Board of Agriculture for Scotland proposes to erect for small holders are lit from above by a sky-light; and in what manner is their proper ventilation provided for?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The rooms are ventilated by windows and chimneys.
asked whether the Scottish Board of Agriculture has yet built any of the new kind of cottages for small holders; and, if so, how many, and where?
Of the three standard types of cottages shown in Appendix 7 of the Report of the Board for last year there have been built:—Type 1. One cottage at Stonefield, Aberfoyle, and one at Lochearnhead. Type 2. Two cottages on new holdings at Harrietsfield, St. Boswells. Type 3. One cottage at Palace, Jedburgh.
Has my right hon. Friend had any complaints regarding type No. 1?
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he will place copies of the plans of the Scottish Board of Agriculture's cottages for small holders in the Library in order that Scottish Members of Parliament may judge for themselves whether the proposed cottages are satisfactory?
The plans and elevations of the three standard types of cottages are shown in the Appendix 7 of the Report of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland for 1913.
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that an ancient urn, described by the director of the National Museum of Antiquities as of rather unusual quality and not similar in ornamentation to any other example in the national collections of Scotland, was found recently at Hawcraig; whether it was sent as treasure trove to the King's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in Edinburgh; whether he advised that it should be placed in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh; and whether, seeing that there is an excellent museum, called the Perthshire Natural History Museum, in Perth, the principal town of the county in which the urn was found, he will make representations to the proper quarter with a view to the placing of the urn in the Perth Museum?
The reply to the first portion of my hon. Friend's question is in the affirmative. I am informed that the question of placing the urn in the Perthshire Natural History Museum instead of in the National Museum of Antiquities has been considered on a request by the Curator of the former Museum but that, in view of the fact that the urn is of a type somewhat distinct from the other examples of its class in the national collection and of the importance to the public and to students of making the latter as complete and representative as possible it has been decided that the national claim should prevail over that of the locality.
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that all important antiquities found in Scotland should be sent to the collection in Edinburgh and kept there?
No, but I suggest that where you have such a specimen it is much more valuable to have it in a National collection than in a small local collection.
Agricultural Institute, Inverness
asked the Secretary for Scotland if he has taken any further steps to meet the views of those who are anxious to establish an agricultural institute in Inverness; and, if so, what?
The Board of Agriculture for Scotland are arranging a meeting at Inverness with persons interested to discuss the question, and to ascertain the extent of local support which may be given to the project.
Trawling, Moray Firth
asked the Secretary for Scotland how many foreign trawlers were reported fishing in the Moray Firth since 1st January; if, during the same period, any British trawlers were seen in the Moray Firth and, if so, what distance from land; whether any prosecutions took place, and were the prosecutions directed against British or foreign trawlers, and with what result; how many Government vessels were employed in patrolling the Moray Firth during the period mentioned; what has been their cost to the State; and how is it that they are used for the purpose of arresting British trawlers, while foreigners can fish without molestation?
Since the 1st January last fifty-eight trawlers under foreign flags and two under British flags have been observed fishing in the Moray Firth. The two latter were observed respectively 10 miles and 13 miles from land. Three prosecutions have been instituted, two against masters of British trawlers and one against the master of a foreign trawler, who was detected fishing within the 3-mile limit. One British master was fined £75 or sixty days' imprisonment; the foreign master was fined £10 or sixty days, with the forfeiture of all fish on board his vessel; the charge against the other British master has not yet been tried. There has generally been one and at times two vessels patrolling the Firth, but as several vessels have been engaged, and have performed other duties, the cost cannot be stated. With regard to the last portion of the question, I would remind the Noble Marquess of the discussions which have taken place in the House during recent years on the point which he mentions, and of the inquiry of the Departmental Committee respecting fishery limits, which is now proceeding.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the foreign fines have been paid or the sentences carried into effect?
I would ask the hon. Member kindly to put the question down on the Paper.
Lecropt Public Sbhool
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that with regard to Lecropt public school the school board appointed a fully certificated teacher on the promise that they would receive a special Grant of £50; that that Grant has been paid regularly in April and May along with the annual Grant; that for the first time this Grant was not paid in May, 1914; and that the school board have been informed that it is not to be paid until 15th May, 1015, some fifteen months after it has been earned, a practice which is to be continued, thus keeping the board one year's Grant in arrear or, in other words, depiving them of a year's Grant; and will he say what are the reasons for this proceeding?
The Grant in question is payable from the Education (Scotland) Fund under Section 17 (9) of the Act of 1908. The secondary education committee for the county of Perth have adopted" an alternative scheme of Grants under that Sub-section, as therein provided, one feature of which is the limitation of the aggregate amount of such Grants in each year to a total sum to be fixed by the committee. This scheme applies to Lecropt Public School as to all other schools in the county. Payment of the Grant claimable under Section 17 (9) by that school has had to be postponed (in common with similar Grants claimable by other schools in the district) till near the end of the Committee's year (15th May, 1915), because until then (1) the aggregate amount claimable by schools in the county, and (2) the limiting sum to be fixed by the Committee cannot be ascertained. And until these two factors are ascertained, it cannot be known how much Grant is payable to any particular school.
Is the right hon. Gentleman endeavouring to ascertain these details?
I have explained why they cannot be ascertained till other factors are known.
Scottish Education Department
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he has recently received any representations from Scotland in favour of enlarged areas for Scottish educational administration; and whether the Scottish Education Department has reached any conclusion on the subject?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. There is a good deal of difference of opinion on the subject, and I am not at present prepared to make any statement.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how long it will be before the Scottish Education Department makes up its mind in the matter, more especially as the Department appears to be under the control of bureaucrats?
In this case we cannot be accused of bureaucratic or arbitrary action. The fact is that there is very great difference of opinion among Scottish Members on this subject.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the question does not refer to the Scottish Education Department's mind and not to the mind of the Scottish Members? Will the right hon. Gentleman give a straight answer for once in a way?
My hon. Friend is a little inconsistent. In one breath he complains of bureaucratic behaviour, and in the next he complains that the Scottish Department is deferring to the wishes of the Scottish Members.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he could not take the initiative of calling a meeting of the Scottish Members to discuss this extremely important question?
I shall be delighted to do that, if there is a general desire.
Is it not quite possible for local areas to be amalgamated and enlarged under the power conferred by the Act of 1908 in cases where the authorities desire that the areas should be enlarged?
The hon. and learned Member is quite right. There is power, but, unfortunately, the rates are affected dissimilarly in different districts, and the one which is adversely affected generally objects.
asked the Secretary for Scotland what is the final result of the negotiations in Berwickshire for the constitution of the county as a single administrative area for education?
The negotiations in question have broken down and the Committee in intimating this result state that, while they approve of larger areas, they consider that the matter can only be satisfactorily arranged by legislation.
Does not my right hon. Friend think that the answers to the last two questions show quite clearly the desirability that the Scottish Education Department should take some definite forward step now in order to ascertain whether the bulk of Scottish opinion is in favour of this change or not?
The matter cannot be dealt with except by legislation, and it is quite impossible to promise legislation at this moment,
As preparatory to legislation, is it not desirable to undertake further inquiry in the matter?
I am pretty well acquainted with Scottish opinion, but if my hon Friend can suggest some way of ascertaining it more fully I will be very glad to consider it.
Scottish Fisheries (Housing Accommodation)
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the terms of reference to the Royal Commission on Housing in Scotland include an examination of the provision made at various fishing ports for the temporary accommodation of those engaged in herring curing, etc.; and whether he is aware that the conditions in some of these ports call for the immediate attention of the Local Government Board for Scotland?
The matter referred to in the first portion of my hon. Friend's question is covered by the terms of reference to the Royal Commission. The herring curing stations are under inspection by the local authorities of the various areas in which they are situated, and, as I have already informed the Noble Marquess the Member for West Perthshire, one of the medical inspectors of the Local Government Board is at present engaged in examining the conditions at Fraserburgh.
In view of the many representations made with regard to these fisher girls this year, can the right hon. Gentleman not see that the representatives of the Local Government Board, going round from fishing port to fishing port, make a complete report on the conditions?
I would require notice of that question.
asked the Secretary for Scotland if he proposes to take any steps to give further time to the forty tenants at Kirkland who have been ordered to quit their houses within thirty days by decision at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on 22nd July; and whether the provisions of the Government Housing Bill would assist these tenants to obtain the houses which at present it is impossible for them to procure in the district?
I have no power to interfere with the order of the sheriff. I am informed that considering the number of houses alreary vacated, the nearness of several growing centres of population, and the tramway facilities, no great hardship need result through these houses being closed to occupation. The applicability of the Housing Bill would depend upon facts and circumstances, and I am not in a position to give an opinion on the question contained in the last part of the question.
asked the Secretary for Scotland if he will make application to the Treasury for some portion of the money set apart under the Government Housing Bill for the housing of Government employés for men employed in the torpedo factory, Greenock?
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether, having regard to the powers proposed to be conferred by the Housing Bill on the Local Government Board for Scotland with reference to the housing of Government employés, he will bear in mind the necessity of making such provision for the employés of the torpedo factory at Greenock, either directly or by assisting local co-partnership societies incorporated with this object?
asked if the new Housing Bill will allow provision to be made for the erection of dwelling-houses for those employed by or on behalf of the torpedo factory at Greenock?
As regards the powers to be conferred by the Housing Bill, I must refer my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock to the Bill itself. If and when the Bill becomes law, no doubt the case of Greenock will be considered by the Government Departments concerned.
Agricultural Labourers (Wages)
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the increased cost of living and the high rents that are paid for ordinary labourers' cottages in the district, the Government propose to increase the wages, which have remained unaltered for many years, of their lowest paid employés in the Forest of Dean?
Some time ago I set on foot the procedure necessary for a revision and increase of the wages referred to by the hon. Member, but I am not yet in a position to make a full statement on the subject.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the wages of these men are considerably below the workhouse minimum referred to in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Swindon speech?
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can say when a decision is likely to be arrived at, and also whether the evidence will be available at the time the applications are sent in?
I cannot answer the last part of the question until we have further details. The proposal we are intending to make in detail provides these men with a sufficiently large wage to give increased remuneration, and at the same time enable them to pay an economic rent for the cottages they occupy.
King's Bench Division
asked the Prime Minister whether he can now state to which of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Delay in the King's Bench Division, other than those requiring legislation, it is proposed to give effect; and whether the proposals of the Royal Commission dealing with the Long Vacation are to be adopted?
The recommendations of the Royal Commission on Delay in the King's Bench Division which can be carried into effect with the present number of judges of the King's Bench Division by administrative action are mainly those relating to the trial of Order 14 and other urgent cases during the Long Vacation, the hours of sitting of the judges of the King's Bench Division, arrangements as to the civil work on the Assizes and the arrangements of the work in London. These recommendations have, so far as practicable, been made effective by resolutions of the judges of the King's Bench Division, and, when necessary, followed by Rules made by the Rule Committee.
Sheriffs Court Appeal Court Bill
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a Bill entitled Sheriff's Court Appeal Court Bill, introduced by the Member for Banffshire; and whether he will give facilities for the early passage of the measure into law?
I regret to be unable to promise the facilities desired by my hon. and gallant Friend.
Income Tax Laws
asked the Prime Minister whether it is intended that the Commission on Income Tax shall inquire into the whole system and working of the Income Tax Laws, with a view to their codification and to the removal of the various anomalies that have arisen; and whether they will have power to suggest alterations in the machinery of the assessment and collection of Income Tax?
Yes, Sir. These matters will fall within the scope of the inquiry.
Second Chamber Reform
asked the Prime Minister whether, in preparing his Resolutions for the Reform of the Second Chamber, he has had the assistance of any Committee especially appointed by him to inquire into the working, composition, and powers of other Second Chambers?
The question has been examined in all its aspects by a Committee of the Cabinet, who took into account all relevant considerations.
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has taken into consideration Lord Lansdowne's Reform Bill?
Everything relevant will be taken into consideration.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the House will be in possession of the Resolutions?
I cannot give the date. I said it would be before the end of the Session.
Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that many of his followers do not want a Second Chamber at all?
English Bishoprics (Consecration Fees)
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the fees and charges payable by bishops of the Church of England on their consecration; and whether he will introduce legislation by which these burdens, which may amount in certain cases to £350, may be abolished?
I am aware that considerable fees are leviable on bishops upon their appointment. Only a portion of these fees are received by the Exchequer, and I am now considering whether some reduction in them cannot fairly be made by ordinary executive measures.
asked whether the Special Committee which is considering the prevailing industrial unrest and the means to be adopted to remedy the present state of affairs has yet completed its inquiries; and when the House will be afforded an opportunity of discussing the matter, in view of the condition now obtaining in regard to some of the most important industries of the country?
The Industrial Council, to which His Majesty's Government entrusted an inquiry with regard to certain matters relating to labour questions, reported last year. The recommendations of the Council are receiving the consideration of the Government.
Married Soldiers (Accommodation)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Government propose to commence at once the building at Bulford and Durrington of cottages for married soldiers employed at Bulford Camp; whether they will provide accommodation for men married off as well as those married on the strength; and how many will be ready for occupation before the end of this year?
I stated the position at Bulford generally in my reply to the hon. Gentleman on the 15th ultimo. Twenty married quarters in addition to the considerable number already existing are being built this financial year. No cottages are being built at Durrington, and the question of providing for men married off the strength is under consideration. At the end of this year there will be a total of 266 married quarters ready for occupation at Bulford.
What is the cause of the delay in the erection of these cottages, which are so badly needed?
They are going on as fast as they can.
Plow many of them are required?
I must have notice of that question.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now aware that just lately five young soldiers were taken by train, chained together like convicts, in charge of one police sergeant and a policeman, although their only crime was being absent from camp for a few days; whether this is a usual practice; and whether he can see his way to have this practice done away with?
I have made inquiry in this matter and find that the circumstances were such that the police officers responsible for these prisoners' safe custody were justified in considering that the use of handcuffs was necessary. The police are anxious to show all possible consideration to deserters in their custody, but their primary duty is to prevent the deserter repeating his offence, and in such cases as the one now in question it may not be possible to ensure this except by the use of handcuffs.
Can the right hon. Gentleman justify the action of the police in treating in this manner soldiers who have committed no serious crime at all? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that such a practice is very bad for recruiting, and that my attention has been drawn to this by the officer from whom I got the information?
I am not aware of the last matter mentioned by the hon. Member, but, as I am informed, the soldiers in question, or some of them, had stated their intention of deserting again, and it was in order to prevent them from running away that while they were being conveyed in custody they were handcuffed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if there had been more policemen available it would have been quite easy to convey these men without chaining them together; and is he aware that the fact is that the police did not want the trouble of going in larger numbers?
I am unable to answer that point. The hon. Member must not suppose that this matter had anything to do with the Metropolitan Police.
Does the right hon. Gentleman associate himself with the action of his subordinate officers?
The officers in question were not my subordinate officers.
These five young soldiers were actually handcuffed on one chain—they were all chained together one by one. Surely it is not possible that they were on a long chain like convicts?
As I am informed, there were only a sergeant and a police constable in charge of five soldiers who had deserted, and the soldiers stated their intention of running away again.
AU of them?
All or some. The officers, being alone, were quite aware that the soldiers would have an opportunity at the railway station of deserting, and they handcuffed the soldiers.
By a chain?
Is not this serious enough to render it necessary that the right hon. Gentleman should make further inquiries with a view of preventing a similar practice in future?
The right hon. Gentleman has fallen into the error of assuming that I had some responsibility in the matter. It was done by the local police, and not by the Home Office.
Has the right hon. Gentleman no means of using his influence with the local police?
Yes; I can find out what happened.
Is it not the case that questions relating to the administration of purely local police have been constantly refused in this House?
There is nothing in the question to show where this occurred. If I had known that it was a matter of purely local administration of course I would not have allowed the question.
asked whether the War Office appointed some years ago a gentleman connected with Smithfield Market as an expert adviser to assist them in the matter of their meat contracts; if so, what was his name and the amount of his remuneration; and was this gentleman consulted as to the advisability of so altering the War Office specification of 1913, whereby Australian beef from which the flanks and briskets had been removed was admitted?
An expert is employed when necessary for surprise inspections and other purposes. It would obviously impair his usefulness if his name were published. Payment is by fee according to the nature of the service performed. Expert advice was taken before the change of specification was made in 1913.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether the contract for the supply of meat to the Army has been given to the firm of Thomas Borthwick and Sons; and, if so, what precautions will be taken to see that the meat supplied is not of the same character as the meat seized on the premises of that firm and condemned by the City sanitary authorities as improperly excised and infested with parasitic worms on 18th December, 1913, and 20th January, 1914?
The current contract for the supply of frozen meat ex-store was secured by Messrs. Borthwick after competitive tendering. Before being taken over the meat will be inspected by a fully qualified inspecting officer.
Is any of this meat with these parts cut out going to be again supplied to the British Army, as was the case a year or two ago?
The meat which goes to the troops is perfectly sound.
asked if there had been any and, if so, what reduction in the establishment of the Special Reserve since the period of annual training was increased; and what is the normal and actual strength of this force at the present time?
The only reduction in the establishment of the Infantry Special Reserve since the annual training was increased to twenty-seven clays in March, 1911, has been that of eight sergeants in connection with the abolition of the Rifle Sub-depot. The strength on 1st July was 64,157.
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he will consider the possibility of arranging that the Coastguard telephones around the coast shall be available for use by long shore fisherman, so that these latter may get the advantage of that direct and rapid communication with the market which they at present lack?
The coast communication is installed for the purpose of passing messages on life-saving or the Naval Service, and it is not-considered desirable or practicable that its use should be extended as suggested. I may also observe that Coastguard stations are not invariably connected with local post offices.
Fertilisers And Feeding Stuffs Act
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he realises that a large trade is conducted both in fertilisers and feeding stuffs by the merchant sending an order to the manufacturer for a truck load to be sent direct to the farmer, and that in such cases, although the article sent may be seriously deficient in the percentage of its important ingredients as previously stated or advertised, the merchant can rely upon the warranty which he has obtained from the manufacturer, and there being no Clause in the Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs Act, 1906, authorising proceedings to be taken against the person giving a false warranty, the farmer or other purchaser suffers loss without any adequate remedy; and whether he will consider the desirability of introducing legislation to amend the above Act in the interests of the farmer by giving him such protection as is afforded by Section 20 (6) of the Food and Drugs Act. 1899?
The Board have under consideration the difficulty to which the hon. Gentleman refers. But I would point out that, although in certain cases no criminal proceedings can be taken under the Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs Act against a manufacturer in respect of goods resold by a retailer, the purchaser is not deprived of his civil remedy.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that owing to this system of merchants' warranties the county council prosecutions on behalf of poor men are rendered quite abortive?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any preparations are now being made for a military expedition in Somaliland; and, if so, what is the nature of these preparations?
No, Sir. I explained the situation in Somaliland on 24th February, and the policy then indicated has not been altered.
asked what is the nature of the instructions under which the civil officer in charge of Somaliland is now acting; and what are the instructions given to the military officer in charge at Burao?
No formal instructions have been Issued to the Commissioner of Somaliland, but he is, of course, aware of the policy of His Majesty's Government, and I am in close touch with him. There is no military officer at Burao, but a Commandant of the local forces has just been appointed, and I am considering in consultation with the Commissioner what instructions should be issued to him.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now undertake to lay further Papers on Somaliland?
I hope to lay further Papers in a few days.
National Insurance Act
Boyal London Mutual Insurance Society
asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, as representing the Insurance Commissioners, whether his attention has been called to the case of William James Mills, of Stanley Avenue, Fishponds, Bristol, a member of the Royal London Mutual Insurance Society, concerning whose illness, alleged to be caused by poisonous fish, a doctor's certificate was sent to the society on 6th June last; whether he is aware that this society declined to pay sick pay on the ground that the vendor should be sued by Mills for damages, and that not until 7th July, and after repeated applications by Mills and letters from the Commissioners, was sick pay paid; whether he is aware that Mills was practically starving owing to this four weeks' delay and had to dispose of part of his furniture in order to live; whether the doctor has stated that the illness has been greatly aggravated by the delay; and what steps the Commissioners are taking to prevent similar hardships being suffered through the neglect of certain approved societies?
As implied in the question the case referred to by the hon. Member had been brought before the Commissioners, and by them referred to the society concerned. The claim has now been paid. I am informed by the society that the reason for the postponement of the payment was that special investigation was required in this case, the circumstances of which appear to have been quite exceptional.
Sanatorium Treatment (Post Office)
asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that there are considerable numbers of the established staff of the Post Office who have made no provision by insurance for sanatorium treatment, he will see what steps can be taken to increase the opportunities of established servants of the Post Office to make such provision?
As I explained in my reply to the hon. Member's question of the 22nd inst., any member of the established staff of the Post Office can acquire a right to sanatorium treatment in return for a subscription of 2s. per annum. The opportunity thus afforded appears to mo to meet the needs of the case.
asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, as representing the Insurance Commissioners, if the Insurance Commissioners have decided that lion tamers must be insured but that onion peelers need not be; if he can state the grounds on which this distinction is drawn; and if, in view of the absence of a considered and rational policy in determining as to the liability of different classes of workers to be insured, he will consider as to appointing a Committee of experts to deal with this question?
Employment as an onion peeler has been specified in a special Order as a subsidiary employment, and contributions are not required to be paid in respect of persons so employed, if they are not already insured persons. No Order has been made with regard to employment as a lion tamer.
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if the Insurance Commissioners did not make a Regulation last year that lion tamers must be insured, and can he tell me what Regulation there is in regard to who shall or shall not be insured?
If a person is employed in contract service he is insurable, unless he is excepted under the second part of the Schedule.
What about donkey tamers?
Then you will be insured.
Board Of Education
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will state how many elementary schools, comprising how many school places, are still assessed on the 8 square feet per scholar basis; and whether, in view of the fact that overcrowded class-rooms predispose the children educated in them to tuberculosis, he will issue a circular fixing a date next year for assessing all schools on the 10 square feet basis?
In the Board's Annual Report for 1909–10 it was stated that outside London the reassessment of public elementary schools upon the basis of 10 square feet per head for older scholars, and 9 square feet for "infants" was practically completed. There are only a very few cases in which the reassessment has not come into force pending alterations to premises and the erection of new schools. In London the reassessment will be made as part of the scheme for reducing all classes to forty or forty-eight places for older children and infants respectively. I do not think the labour involved in ascertaining the precise number of cases still outstanding would be justified under the circumstances, nor does it appear to me necessary to issue a circular on the subject.
Private Schools Association
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has recently received a deputation from the Private Schools Association; if so, what was the object of such a deputation; and whether he can indicate the substance of any reply given to this deputation?
I recently received a joint deputation from the College of Preceptors and the Private Schools Association, who desired to lay before me their views with regard to the relation of private schools to a national system of education. The principal subject of discussion was the State inspection of private schools, but as our discussion was in the nature of an informal exchange of views there is nothing which, at the moment, I can publish with advantage.
Was the attitude of the deputation one of protest or one of congratulation?
It was one of inquiry.
Association Or Teachers (London)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that an association of teachers in London has passed a resolution questioning the legality of and protesting against the demands which have been lately required of the London education authority as a result of the survey on non-provided schools; whether he has received a copy of this resolution; of so, what answer has been returned; and whether, in view of the admitted danger of tuberculosis to children in ill-ventilated and overcrowded schools, he will continue to press upon local education authorities and managers the need of proper school buildings?
An association of teachers in London have sent me a memorandum, which I have acknowledged. It expresses anxiety with regard to the reports made to the Board upon the premises of certain voluntary schools in those boroughs, and with regard to the interests of the teachers concerned. I think that the Board's procedure in London and elsewhere is sufficient evidence of their intention to secure an adequate supply of suitable school accommodation.
Lancashire Education Committee
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made on behalf of the Lancashire Education Committee, to the effect that they have adopted a time-table setting out the order and period in which applications for the erection of new council schools can be dealt with; whether he is aware that under this time-table any application now made could not be dealt with till 1917; and, seeing that the effect of this rule will be that all new accommodation urgently required must be met by the erection or extension of non-provided schools, and in view of the disabilities which this would impose, especially on Nonconformists in single school areas with expanding populations, whether he will communicate with the, county education committee on the matter?