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Commons Chamber

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 30th July, 1914.

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

Private Business

Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway Bill,

Lords Amendments considered, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 27th July, and agreed to.

Brecon and Merthyr Tydvil Junction Railway Bill,

Lords Amendments to be considered To-morrow.

London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Bill,

Southend Gas Bill,

Wadhurst and District Gas Bill,

Lords Amendments considered, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 27th July, and agreed to.

Leeds Corporation Bill [ Lords],

Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

South-Western and Isle of Wight Junction Railway Bill [ Lords],

Read the third time, and passed, without Amendment.

Gas Light and Coke Company Bill [ Lords],

As amended, to be considered Tomorrow.

Skegness Urban District Council Bill [ Lords] (by Order),

Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Leighton Buzzard Gas Bill [ Lords] (by Order),

As amended considered:

Ordered, That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the third time.—[ The Chairman of Ways and Means].

Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Gas Provisional Orders (No. 3) Bill,

Lords Amendment considered, and agreed to.

Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 5) Bill,

Gas Provisional Order (No. 2) Bill,

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Intermediate Education (Ireland)

Copy presented of the Report of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland for the year 1913 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Reformatory And Industrial Schools (Ireland)

Copy presented of Fifty-second Report of the Inspector for the year ended 31st December, 1913 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Board Of Agriculture And Fisheries

Copy presented of Report of Proceedings at the Twenty-fourth Annual Meeting of Representatives of Authorities under the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act, 1888 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

County Courts (Plaints And Sittings)

Return presented relative thereto [Address 28th July; Mr. Ellis Griffith]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.

Boy Labour In The Post Office

Copy presented of Fourth Annual Report of Standing Committee on Boy Labour in the Post Office [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

National Insurance Act

Copy presented of Special Order, dated 24th July, 1914, made by the National Health Insurance Joint Committee and the Irish Insurance Commissioners, acting jointly, entitled the National Health Insurance (Subsidiary Employments) Consolidated Order (Ireland), 1914 [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 403.]

Copy presented of Special Order, dated 27th July, 1914, made by the National Health Insurance Joint Committee and the Welsh Insurance Commissioners, acting jointly, entitled the National Health Insurance (Wales) (Subsidiary Employments) Consolidated Order, 1914 by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 404.]

Oral Answers To Questions

Rotterdam (Harbour Construction)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Dutch Government has granted to the Vulkan Company, which is a large German firm, the right to construct a private harbour near Rotterdam, close to the North Sea; and whether the Vulkan Company works in the closest conjunction with the German Government; whether this action on the part of the Dutch Government constitutes a departure from the principles which hitherto have governed the administration of all harbours, docks, and waterways in Holland, namely, that they should be under public control; and whether he has information which he can give on the subject?

I understand that the concession to the Vulkan Company to dredge and deepen the river beside the land at Vlaardingen already in their possession has been granted in principle, but I have no reason to suppose that this will in any way interfere with the control of the waterway by the Netherlands Government. I am informed that the company acquired the land for the purpose of transhipping ore from sea vessels into Rhine lighters, and I have no doubt that any other foreign company would have the right to obtain a similar concession.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any other company has obtained concessions for the Dutch, notably the Thyssen Company?

It is impossible to consult the First Lord of the Admiralty about a, concession to a private company.

Haifa (British Vice-Consulate)

2.

asked whether the British Vice-Consulate at Haifa is to be raised to the level recently attained by the Consulates of other Powers at that place?

As at present advised I see no reason for altering the present status of the post.

Have not other Powers been differently advised? Have they not raised the status?

We have not got information that they have appointed a salaried Consul to this post. In any case I understand the fees received at this post were only £30 last year, which does not justify a salaried appointment.

Imperial Ottoman Docks Company

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the objects and conditions of the Imperial Ottoman Docks, Arsenals, and Naval Construction Company; and whether the British Ambassador in Constantinople has taken any part in furthering the formation of this company?

As I stated on the 5th of March, I am informed that the Turkish Government have granted a concession to a combination of the firms of Armstrong and Vickers for the organisation and reconstruction of the existing dockyards at Constantinople. This agreement was the result of private negotiations between the Turkish Government and the firms interested in which His Majesty's Government had no participation.

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that Sir Charles L. Ottley, late secretary of the Imperial Defence Committee, is a director of the Imperial Ottoman Docks, Arsenals, and Naval Construction Company, and that this company has been formed for the building and repair of the warships of a foreign Power; and whether he will take steps to provide that any servant of the Crown holding a position of the character held recently by Sir Charles L. Ottley shall be debarred on relinquishing his post from entering, directly or indirectly, the service of a foreign Power?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave on this subject on 20th March, 1912, and 9th January, 1913.

Will the Prime Minister reconsider this matter in view of recent developments on the Continent of Europe?

Is he an ex-admiral of the Royal Navy drawing pension, and is not his position as a pensioner rather inconsistent?

That question has been answered by my hon. Friend, as arranged through the usual channels.

Ballinskelligs Pier

4.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he can state what progress has been made with the construction of the pier at Ballinskelligs; and when it is expected that the work will be completed?

The greater part of the rock excavation for the pier has been done, and a good deal of the necessary filling-in to join the quay to the mainland has been accomplished. No definite date can be given for the completion of the work, as the rate of progress depends on the state of the weather, but it is not expected that the work will be completed before 31st March next.

Old Age Pensions

5.

asked the Chief Secretary on what ground an old age pension has not been granted to Johanna Fitzpatrick, Dungegan, Ballinskelligs, county Kerry, although the local committee which investigated her case were convinced that she had attained the statutory age; whether the local pension officer has been upheld in his contention that she has no right to the Christian name of Johanna because a family of the same name has been found in the Census Returns in which there happens to be the record of a girl whose Christian name was Julia; and whether he will have further inquiry made into the matter?

Johanna Fitzpatrick's last claim was disallowed in February, 1913, on the ground that there was no evidence that she was seventy years of age. It is not a fact that the pension officer contended that she had no right to the name of Johanna. In the record of her parents' family in the 1851 Census there is shown a child—Julia, aged six years, who, it would appear, is the claimant Johanna, the name Julia having been registered in error. If this is not the case, then the claimant has no evidence whatever of age. As the case has been decided, the Local Government Board have no power to re-open it.

What evidence can be forthcoming that this name of Johanna was registered in mistake for Julia?

Dingle Pier And Harbour

8.

asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that it is a considerable time since the promise was made that a Grant would be given for the improvement of the Dingle pier and harbour, and that as a result of this delay the fishing industry of the district, which is the largest in Ireland, has suffered very considerably; and whether, in view of those facts, immediate steps will be taken to have this question, which is so essential to this district, dealt with at the earliest possible moment?

Negotiations with the various bodies concerned in the preparation of the plans and the provision of the funds for the proposed improvements in the pier and harbour accommodation at Dingle are being conducted with as much expedition as possible.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman twelve months ago give practically the same reply?

I can assure the hon. Member that the matter has been constantly before me and the Board and very great difficulties have arisen. It is one of those questions which cannot be settled offhand however desirable it, may be that we should do so.

Land Purchase (Ireland)

9.

asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware of the continuing loss sustained, through no fault of theirs, by payers of interest in lieu of rent for land for which many of them signed purchase agreements eight or nine years ago; whether he is aware that all their payments are in addition to the prices they agreed to pay and in excess of the annuities they agreed to pay, and that they are now neither becoming owners, nor secure in their position, nor diminishing the debt they have contracted to the State; whether they are being dealt with impartially in the order of date of signature; whether he will state the order of progress in the respective registers now kept; what the cause of the delay is; and whether he will expedite the completion of the sales?

In their purchase agreements the tenants contracted to pay interest in lieu of rent on the purchase money until the date of their holdings being vested in them, and this interest is less than the rent they would have to pay if they had not agreed to purchase. Estates pending for sale before the Estates Commissioners are dealt with in their Order on the Registers in accordance with the Regulations made under Section 23 (8) of the Irish Land Act, 1903, and Section 4 of the Act of 1909. The sales are being dealt with by the Commissioners as rapidly as possible.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that eight years is an unexpected and an entirely unreasonable period?

It is a long period, but it really does not arise from want of money. It arises from the difficulty in getting work through having regard to the enormous details which have to be carried out.

16.

asked the Chief Secretary whether the Clements estate, Derry, county Mayo, has yet been acquired by the Congested Districts Board; and whether he is aware that the agent of this estate has declared to the tenants that the delay in purchase is due to the dilatory policy of the Board?

The estate referred to has not yet been purchased by the Congested Districts Board. An offer for purchase was issued in December, 1913, which was not accepted. Negotiations have since been proceeding, and the matter is at present under consideration. The Board have no information as to the statement alleged to have been made by the agent to the tenants.

Royal Irish Constabulary

11.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether any of the gratuities awarded in the year 1913–14 out of the Irish Constabulary Force Fund, benefit branch, went to the families of officers; if so, will he state their number, rank, and amount; the number of deceased men to whose families gratuities were awarded, with the amount, and the principle on which the distinction was made, if any?

During the year 1913–14 the following gratuities were paid from the benefit branch of the fund: £606 to the representatives of a deceased Assistant Inspector-General, £613 in the case of a county inspector, and £647 to the representatives of two district inspectors. Sums amounting to £13,772 were also paid to the widows and children of 145 other deceased subscribers. No distinction was made in the mode of calculating the grants to the families of officers and men.

12.

asked the Chief Secretary if he is aware of and will explain the charge of £193 18s. 3d. charged in the last year against the benefit branch of the Irish Constabulary Force Fund for compiling statistics?

The Inspector-General informs me that this payment was made to certain members of the staff of the constabulary office for overtime work in preparing extensive statistics of the benefit branch transactions, covering a period of thirty years, required by the National Debt Commissioners. The payment has been charged to the benefit fund with the approval of the Irish Government and the Treasury, and in accordance with a precedent of 1878, supported by legal opinion.

How does the right hon. Gentleman reconcile that payment out of the fund with the statement made in this House that the fund could be administered without expense to the subscribers?

Well, so far as there is a charge of this kind, it has to be paid in some way or other. This expense in connection with the working of the fund is a charge which properly falls on the fund.

14.

asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the action of Sergeant O'Connor, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, Roscommon, in searching a consignment of bottles packed in canvas and straw on the premises of Mr. Beades, licensed vintner, Roscommon; whether he had any warrant to search the premises or to inspect these packages; whether he had any special instructions from the police authorities to act in this manner; if so, at whose instance the warrant was granted or the instructions given; and if instructions will be given in future to the policemen and other members of the constabulary force to discharge their duties in such a manner as will be within the law and inoffensive to the people?

I am informed by the police authorities that on the 21st instant Sergeant O'Connor saw five bales of goods lying on the street outside the door of the publican mentioned, and the sergeant, suspecting that the bales contained arms, asked the publican to open them so that he could search them. The publican refused, but told the sergeant that he could come into his yard and search a similar bale. This the sergeant did, and found nothing but empty bottles. No warrant was issued and the sergeant had not received any instructions, but acted on his own initiative.

National Education (Ireland)

17.

asked the Chief Secretary whether any steps have been taken to reinstate Mr. Mansfield in his former position; whether the Commission of Inquiry which followed the charges for which he was dismissed did in effect substantiate almost every one of them; whether one of the principal officials of the Education Office stated at the inquiry that he could not find any rule of the Board which Mr. Mansfield had broken, and that he was therefore unable to explain or to justify his dismissal; and whether, under these circumstances, he proposes to take any action to compel the Board to do justice to this man, even though he has been the means of exposing the misconduct of the Board?

With regard to the first paragraph of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the question asked on this subject by the hon. Member for Mid-Antrim on the 19th February last. The Commissioners of National Education do not admit that the charges made by Mr. Mansfield were substantiated wholly or in part by the Committee of Inquiry. One of the officials of the Education Office stated in reply to a question put to him by a member of the Committee that he could not specify any special rule that was violated by Mr. Mansfield, but he did not say, as is alleged in the question, that he was therefore unable to explain or justify the dismissal of Mr. Mansfield. The Commissioners reserve to themselves the power to deal with teachers, as they may determine, who have conducted themselves improperly, and I have no power to interfere in the matter, although personally, and in the interests of primary education in Ireland, I should be glad if the dispute between the Board and Mr. Mansfield could be amicably arranged.

Is it a fact that the Committee of Inquiry which recently issued its Report was solely due to the charges brought by Mr. Mansfield against the National Board of Education in Ireland, and is it a fact that most of the charges were substantiated, and that the Committee condemned the Board?

No, Sir, I cannot go into that question, nor can I generally admit that the whole case regarding Mr. Mansfield was before the Committee. It is not a question whether he made direct charges or not. His conduct was condemned for other reasons. The inquiry has resulted in a very useful Report, and I am most anxious that the controversy should be brought to an end.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to convey to the National Board his personal desire that Mr. Mansfield should be reinstated?

It would be very easy to make the request that he should be reinstated, but unfortunately this is a matter affecting the discipline of the Board. I am using considerable pressure to bring about a result which it is desirable should be brought about in the interest of education.

May I ask whether the Committee of Inquiry reported that the Board permitted abuses to grow in volume until redress was impossible, and why, under these circumstances, blame should be attached to Mr. Mansfield for telling the truth?

The truth can be told in two different ways—I do not say by the same man. I am sorry that there should be this dispute between an efficient teacher and the Board, but I cannot myself control the Board.

I wish to give the right hon. Gentleman notice that owing to the unsatisfactory reply I will raise this question on the Appropriation Bill.

Assaults On Children

19.

asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that in the case of Thomas Madden, remanded to the Quarter Sessions on a charge of criminal assault on a child, and on which the Crown entered a nolle prosequi, three doctors, including a specialist, attended Court but were not asked a question, either publicly or privately; whether he is aware that there was only a difference of four months in the age of this child and of the child in another similar case where the prisoner was tried and convicted; and whether he will state why it was decided not to proceed with the case because the medical evidence would not justify that course when it was not known what the medical evidence was?

I am informed that two doctors made depositions in the Police Court as to the result of their examination of the child. The prison doctor also examined the prisoner and attended the Court and was interviewed by the Crown Counsel, and in consequence of what he stated it was decided not to proceed with the prosecution. According to the sworn evidence of the parents the age of the child alleged to have been assaulted by Madden was six years and eleven months, and the age of the other child eight and a half years. As I have already stated, in the case of the younger child there was no corroboration of her statement, whereas in the other case there was most conclusive proof of the guilt of the prisoner.

Labourers' Cottages (Ireland)

23.

asked the Chief Secretary whether, as promised, he has communicated with the Macroom Rural District Council as to the desirability of taking immediate steps to build the 120 cottages for labourers which, though sanctioned several years ago by the Local Government Board, have not yet been commenced; will he state when the improvement scheme of which these cottages are part was finally promulgated; whether their non-erection is due to the fact that the sum allowed by the district council for the erection of each cottage is insufficient to induce contractors to tender, having regard to the present prices of building materials; whether some pressure will be applied to the district council to compel them to provide cottages for labourers whose present dwellings have been long ago condemned by the medical officer of health as unfit for habitation; is he aware that other district councils have with success employed direct labour for the erection of labourers' cottages where contractors could not be obtained; and is there any reason why the Macroom Rural District Council should not have recourse to this method to relieve the housing necessities of these 120 labourers?

The Local Government Board have again communicated with the district council. The loan for the improvement scheme in question was sanctioned in September, 1908, and it is probably correct that the sum allowed by the district council for the erection of the cottages is insufficient to induce contractors to tender. The Board have asked the district council to call a special meeting for the purpose of issuing fresh advertisements for tenders without making any limit of expenditure. The tenders received should enable the council to judge whether it would be more satisfactory and economical for them to enter into contracts even at somewhat increased prices, or to inaugurate a scheme of direct labour. Only in very few instances has direct labour been attended with success, and experience has shown that as a general rule it is more satisfactory to have the cottages erected by contract.

Poaching (King's County)

24.

asked the Chief Secretary if he is aware that, on the 27th instant, at Edenderry (King's County) Sessions, three men were fined £60 each for poaching in the River Boyne and, in default of payment, sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour; if he can state the names of the justices who adjudicated; the exact offence or offences with which the defendants were charged; the names, ages, and conditions of life of the defendants; and whether defendants paid the fine or were committed to gaol?

I am informed that at Edenderry Petty Sessions, on the 25th instant, three men were fined £60 each for illegal fishing in the River Boyne, and in default twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour. The magistrates who adjudicated were Messrs. Tyrrell, Fay, Hamilton, Potterton, and Colonel Dunne. The exact offence with which the defendants were charged was unlawfully using a net for the taking of trout in the River Boyne without being duly licensed. Under Statute the minimum penalty for the offence is double the amount of the Licence Duty, which is £30. The defendants were Lawrence Bell, aged thirty-five; George Walker, aged thirty-two; and Thomas Hunt, aged thirty, all of no occupation. They have not paid the fines or been committed to prison, as a stay of fourteen days was placed upon the warrants.

Nigeria

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any and, if so, what portion of the fees, rents, and royalties leviable under the Minerals Ordinance, 1913 (Nigeria), will be handed over to the native owners of the lands on which such fees, rents, and royalties are to be levied?

It is proposed to repeal the Ordinance in question and the draft of an Ordinance to replace it is under consideration. I am not in a position at present to say what the provisions of the law will be in respect to the matters referred to.

30.

asked whether 107 prisoners were found to be detained in the prison in Northern Nigeria without any record being found of any conviction against them and that they had to be released; and, if so, how long these prisoners had been detained?

I have no information as to this alleged illegal detention of prisoners. If the hon. Member can give me any evidence of the occurrence of such cases, I will ask the Nigerian Government for a report upon them.

31.

asked what section of the Provincial Courts Ordinance provides for the case of civil suits between the Government and the natives of Nigeria?

This is provided for by a separate Ordinance—Chapter 7 of the Laws of Southern Nigeria.

32.

asked whether the Protectorate of Nigeria, with the exception of certain small areas not yet brought under British Government control, is in a state of unbroken peace and tranquility; and, if so, why the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court should not be extended to the whole Protectorate with the exception of the disturbed areas?

The satisfactory state of peace and tranquility does not demand the extension to the more backward territories of Nigeria of a system which has been shown to be manifestly unsuited to them, and to cause great delays and many abuses.

33.

asked if the Nigerian Provincial Courts Ordinance is passed will there be any provision that a native accused of a crime involving a sentence of death or penal servitude will be entitled as of right of demand to be tried by a judge of the Supreme Court with a jury and assessors?

No such provision is contained in the Ordinance. The provisions for transfer of cases to the Supreme Court and those requiring the confirmation of the Governor in the case of the heavier penalties are considered sufficient.

34.

asked if the Nigerian Provincial Courts Ordinance is passed will there be any provision that actions by or against a native wherein the Government is interested shall, on the request of the native or the Government, be tried by the Supreme Court, and not a Provincial Court presided over by an executive officer?

Suits by or against the Government will remain within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

35.

asked whether, considering the Supreme Court of Southern Nigeria has had jurisdiction over the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria for fourteen years, there is any urgency in the proposed legal changes; and whether the matter will be allowed to stand over till the wishes of the suitors and inhabitants could be taken and a Committee publicly inquire into the matter of the proposed changes?

It is only of recent years that the administration has been extended to large districts in the interior, to which the machinery of the Supreme Court has been found unsuitable. As I have already explained, the jurisdiction of the Court remains as before in the Colony and the principal centres of trade. There is no reason to delay the proposed legislation, which is advocated by all those who have adequate knowledge and experience.

36.

asked whether the Supreme Court of Northern Nigeria did not try any criminal and only one civil cause during the fourteen years of its existence; and, if not, how many civil and criminal cases have been tried during that period?

I am not in a position to give this information without reference to the Governor-General of Nigeria. I will ask him for a report.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the revenue from Court fees in Southern Nigeria for 1912 was £103,000 and the judicial expenditure only £15,000; and whether he will consider the possibility of appointing additional puisne judges to the Supreme Court of Southern Nigeria, if it were necessary to strengthen the judiciary to meet the requirements of the amalgamation?

The figures quoted do not appear to correspond with any at my disposal. But I am advised that no additional puisne judges are required.

38.

asked why African-British subjects in the Protectorate of Nigeria are to be placed under a different jurisdiction from African-British subjects in the Colony of Nigeria, the former under the Provincial and the latter under the Supreme Court; and whether the inhabitants of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the southern province of the Protectorate of Nigeria, who' have up till now had the right to be tried by a judge and jury or assessors, will be deprived of this right by the Provincial Courts Ordinance?

The machinery of the Supreme Court is ill adapted to the needs or the inhabitants in the interior, who are mostly in a somewhat primitive stage of development; but the Court will have jurisdiction in the Colony and also in all the important centres of trade in the Protectorate. Trial by jury has never been in force outside the Colony, and this will remain unchanged. Trials, with assessors, are provided for in the Protectorate under the Criminal Procedure Ordinance.

Art Collections (London)

39.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether, in view of the present procedure required to obtain permits to visit the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the Wallace Collection, and the portions of Windsor Castle formerly opened to the public, and having regard to the number of Scottish and other visitors at present in London, he will arrange that permits for all these places might be obtained under reasonable conditions either at the office of the Commissioner of Works or at any one central office?

The issue of permits in these cases is not a matter under the control of the First Commissioner, and he does not see his way to interfere with the arrangements made.

Government Of Ireland Bill

Volunteer Forces

18.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he has information and, if so, will he state for what purpose the Nationalist Volunteers in Ireland are being drilled and armed?

I have no information as to the purpose for which the Irish National Volunteers are being drilled and armed beyond the statements of the promoters of the movement which have been published in the daily Press, but the existence of this force and its object appear to me to be sufficiently explained by the existence of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to inform himself as to why the National Volunteers are being drilled and armed, and does he consider that the matter is of sufficient importance to claim the attention of the Government?

Certainly, they themselves have given full information in many proclamations and documents printed and published verbatim in the Press, which I have seen, and I dare say other Members have seen.

Am I to understand the reply of the right hon. Gentleman is given as the official answer on behalf of the Government?

Importation Of Arms

20.

asked the Chief Secretary whether the Irish Government have acted upon the view that arms and ammunition imported in contravention of the arms proclamation cannot be seized after they have been landed; and whether any instructions to that effect have been issued to the police?

May I ask whether it is not the case that ample powers of seizure of prohibited goods are conferred by the Customs Consolidation Act?

That is a question on which there is considerable difference of legal opinion. I have taken opinion as to what the powers of the police are, except so far as they have been constituted under Act of Parliament officers of Customs for the purpose of carrying out the Act.

May I ask whether the opinion of the Law Officers, either in England or Ireland, has been taken upon this point and, if so, on what date?

I cannot say. The subject-matter has been one of constant conversations between myself and the Attorney-General here, and there have also been recent communications with the Law Officers in Ireland.

May I ask—the matter is one of importance—for a specific answer to this question. Has any Law Officer in England or Ireland given the opinion that these goods cannot be seized the moment they are landed?

21.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the Government, feeling themselves estopped by their action in Belfast and other parts of Ulster from taking any measures in other parts of Ireland to prevent the landing and conveying of arms and other similar illegalities, communicated this new policy in orders or in written instructions to the chief officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, or whether they left these officers without any guidance as to how they should discharge their duties in view of the Government's decision not to enforce the law?

No such decision has been arrived at, and accordingly no such orders or written instructions have been issued.

22.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if, in view of the fact that the Assistant-Commissioner of Police, Dublin, committed an error of judgment in invoking the services of the military in connection with the importation of arms at Howth and showed lack of discretion, he will, without delay, place upon the Table the Reports and other Papers which justify this accusation?

Pending the inquiry into this very subject about to be held it is not desirable to lay any Reports or other Papers upon the Table.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is fair or equitable to adjudicate upon this case without the facts having been known?

No, Sir, I acted on the primâ facie view of the case, and the matter has been referred to an inquiry, at which the very question on the Paper will be investigated.

Has it occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that pending the inquiry he should suspend himself?

25.

asked when the inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Harrel will be held; who will conduct the inquiry; an I when the proceedings will be published?

The inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Harrel will be held without delay. It will be conducted by Lord Shaw, of Dunfermline, and the procedure will be in the hands of His Lordship.

26.

asked the Chief Secretary whether any general instructions relative to the importation of arms, in contravention of the Proclamation of December, 1913, were at any time issued to the police in Ireland; and, if so, whether he will publish those instructions?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The instructions were confidential, and I am not in a position to depart from the general rule as to non-publication of documents of this character.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on 8th July arms were actually passed through the Customs of Londonderry and afterwards seized, and, if so, upon what instructions were the officials in question and the police who assisted them acting?

On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is in order for the hon. Member for South Tipperary to call the hon. Member for the Abercrombie Division of Liverpool a liar?

That is a question which it is hardly necessary to put to me. The word is one which should not be used between gentlemen.

Is it proper for the hon. Gentleman to charge the Irish people with shooting in the dark, and murdering people? Is it proper for him to make those charges here in face of the charges of shooting down defenceless people in Dublin?

I hope that hon. Members will be able to sit on the benches near each other without insulting each other.

Will the right hon. Gentleman lay on the Table the instructions to the police to which he has referred?

Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman lay them on the Table of the House?

27.

asked whether the Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, on receiving a telephone message at his residence at 2 p.m. on Sunday from the Assistant Commissioner of Police acquainting him that arms had been landed at Howth, asked the Assistant Commissioner himself on the telephone to meet him at 2.45 p.m. at the Castle; whether the Assistant Commissioner informed him that he could be at the Castle at the hour named; and did he receive any subsequent message before leaving his residence from either the Assistant Commissioner or the Superintendent?

The Under-Secretary informs me that he telephoned to Mr. Harrel that he was coming down to the Castle at once, but that no hour was named, nor did the Assistant Commissioner make any engagement to meet the Under-Secretary. No subsequent message was received by the Under-Secretary before he left his house, but shortly after his arrival at the Castle a superintendent informed him that Mr. Harrel was sorry that he was unable to see the Under-Secretary as he had an engagement with General Cuthbert at the Kildare Street Club.

No. [AN HON. MEMBER: "From the landlords' club."] He telephoned, as it turned out, from his house in Monkstown direct to the Under-Secretary.

28.

asked the Chief Secretary whether he can now state the hour on Sunday morning at which the disembarkation of arms was commenced at Howth, the hour at which the intelligence of the disembarkation was received at the office of the Commissioner of Police, and the hour when the Assistant Commissioner left his office to meet the party who were in charge of the convoy of arms; whether he can say if the telephone message to the Under-Secretary from the Assistant Commissioner was taken by the former in person; and, if not, who took it; and what conversation, if any, such person had with the sender.

The disembarkation of the arms took place shortly after one o'clock. Notice of the disembarkation was received in the office of the Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police at 1.30 p.m., and was then telephoned to the Assistant Commissioner who was at his own residence. The Assistant Commissioner motored to the office which he left somewhere about 2.30 p.m. The telephone message from the Assistant Commissioner was taken by the Under-Secretary himself.

Was this telephonic communication made direct by Mr. Harrel to Sir James Dougherty, and did they speak to each other over the telephone?

45.

asked the Prime Minister if it will be open to the Imperial Government, under the Government of Ireland Bill, to prohibit the importation of arms into Ireland if and when that Bill comes into operation?

The right of prohibition to which the hon. Member refers is not affected by the Government of Ireland Bill.

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether it is his intention to advise His Majesty to revoke the proclamation prohibiting the importation of arms into Ireland?

The whole question is under consideration, and I can make no statement on the subject at present.

64.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury by whose order and on what authority sixteen small boxes of sporting cartridges, ordered from Birmingham by a Mullingar merchant in the ordinary course of his business, were examined, disturbed, and delayed on the 13th instant by Customs officials at Holyhead, and again on the 14th instant by Customs officials at North Wall, and a charge of 4s. made for each examination, though the goods were quite in order and carriage paid; and whether he will have the 8s. refunded and an apology tendered forthwith?

I am making inquiries in this case, and will in due course communicate the result to the hon. Member.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the charge has been made, and will he refund it and have an apology tendered to the owner of the goods?

I am making inquiries and will let the hon. Member know as soon as I have them completed.

King's Own Scottish Bordekeks

51.

asked the Prime Minister whether the King's Own Scottish Borderers are to be moved from Ireland, and, if so, when; and by which regiment are they to be replaced?

I am in communication with the military authorities with regard to this matter.

National Insurance Act

Arrears Cards

40.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East if he is aware that the Scottish Insurance Commission has already issued to approved societies the new arrears cards; and whether the English Insurance Commission will similarly take steps to issue arrears cards to approved societies without delay?

I am informed that the Scottish Commission have issued arrears cards in some cases, but, for the reasons given in my reply to the hon. Member on the 23rd July, have not proceeded with the issue.

Insurance Benevolent Fund

41.

asked when it is proposed by the Government to lay their proposals as to the Insurance Benevolent Fund before this House?

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether any and which of the proposed additional Grants in aid of National Insurance will require legislation; and whether it is proposed to postpone the Grant in aid of those who will suffer loss of benefits by reason of arrears until the early winter Session; and, if so, how the arrears regulations can be carried out in the meantime?

66 and 67.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury (1) whether and when it is intended to bring in Supplementary Estimates for the proposed Grants to local authorities or insurance committees for the treatment of dependants of insured persons suffering from tuberculosis; which Department will present such Estimates; and whether legislation will be necessary to give effect to the proposals of the Government; and (2) whether and when it is intended to bring in Supplementary-Estimates for the proposed Grants to provide and train an adequate supply of nurses; which Department will present such Estimates; and whether legislation will be necessary to give effect to the proposals of the Government?

The Supplementary Estimate to the National Health Insurance Joint Committee Vote was laid before the House on Tuesday last. This Estimate embodies those proposals of the Government which do not require legislation.

As the hon. Member has answered the questions for the Prime Minister, is he not necessarily prevented from dealing with the question of a discussion?

As my question, No 47, is to the Prime Minister, and as the hon. Gentleman obviously cannot answer a question upon the business of the House, may I be allowed to put it to the right hon. Gentleman?

Termination Of Membership

42.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East on what grounds the Insurance Commissioners have decided that a dispute as to the termination of an assured person's membership of an approved society is not a dispute within the meaning of the National Insurance Act, 1911; and what is the object and justification of the exceptional procedure in such cases contemplated by Circular A. S. 92 (revised)?

The question of passing a transfer value on an insured person leaving one approved society and joining another is not a dispute within the meaning of the Act. Section 31 directs the passing of a transfer value with the insured person by the Commissioners unless the society he is leaving proves that the consent of the society was not unreasonably withheld.

Has not this impartial and judicial body to decide on their merits these cases of transfer?

Is it not an impartial and judicial body which has to consider all such cases?

Certificates Of Exemption

43.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East how many certificates of exemption have been granted to employed persons mainly dependent on someone else where the employer has still to pay the employer's share of the contribution, but no one receives any benefit from such contribution?

On the 1st July there were 21,827 persons in England holding certicates of exemption granted on the ground of dependence. Approximately two-thirds of these persons were entitled to medical and sanatorium benefits. The remainder, if they continue to hold their certificates, will become entitled to the benefits as soon as the qualifying contributions have been paid.

Cost Of Administration

44.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East in how many approved societies and branches was there a deficiency on administration account for the period ended 12th January, 1913; to how many permission was given by the Commissioners to carry forward the deficiency to the year ending 11th January, 1914; and in how many a levy was made on the members in accordance with the National Insurance Act, 1911?

I am making inquiry and will communicate the information asked for to the hon. Member so far as it is available.

58.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East whether, in accordance with the Government Estimates, the total cost of administration of the National Insurance Act for one year is £4,136,340, made up of cost of central administration £876,140, administration by committees and societies, payable by them, £2,579,400, and £680,800 payable out of moneys provided by Parliament, or is the latter figure included in the former figure?

No, Sir. The sum of £2,579,400 includes £680,800 payable out of moneys provided by Parliament.

Deposit Contributors

59.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East what, in the absence this Session of a National Insurance Act" Amendment Bill, is to be the fate of the deposit contributors; and whether, in face of the opposition of the approved societies, the Government propose to set up a State approved society to embrace these persons?

It is proposed to continue the existing provisions for deposit contributors for a further period, during which special efforts will be made to encourage and facilitate transfers to approved societies.

What will be the extent of the period during which the fate of deposit contributors will remain in doubt?

The Section of the principal Act has been put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

Welsh Insurance Commissioners (Report)

60.

asked the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East whether the Welsh Insurance Report is being separately bound; and whether he proposes to issue a separately-bound copy of the Scottish Report?

I understand that arrangements are being made for the separate issue of each of these sections of the Report.

Rabbit Catchers

61.

asked whether it is necessary to procure an insurance card for a rabbit catcher and to stamp it during the weeks when he is engaged catching rabbits; and whether the Insurance Commissioners have decided that mole catchers are not employed persons but are contractors, and, therefore, free from cards and stamps?

The question whether a particular rabbit catcher or mole catcher is required to be insured depends upon the terms of the contract under which the work is done.

State Medical Service

71.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Government has definitely decided to establish a State medical service in connection with the National Health Insurance scheme?

If that is the fact, why did the Secretary to the Treasury state in his speech on the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill that this was part of the prospective programme of the Government?

Sanatoria

78.

asked the President of the Local Government Board how many of the twenty-two sanatoria built by means of the Grant of £1,500,000 in which work has been completed are new sanatoria built for the purpose of giving treatment under the National Insurance Act?

I will circulate with the reply to the hon. Member's non-oral question for to-day a statement relating to each case. [See Written Answers this date.]

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of those twenty-two sanatoria are new?

No, I cannot, without reference to each particular case. In many cases they are pavilions or adaptations of existing buildings, strictly speaking.

Yes, it will be circulated with the Votes in answer to a non-oral question.

Civil Service (Royal Commission)

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to make any statement as to what action it is proposed to take in regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service; and whether a Treasury Minute dealing with the subject will be laid upon the Table of the House before the termination of the Session?

I am afraid I am not yet able to make any statement upon the subject.

Will there be an Inquiry by a Royal Commission arising out of the Report?

The Inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman promised the other day?

Asylums Officers' Superannuation Act Amendment Bill

50.

asked the Prime Minister if he can see his way to giving facilities for the passage through all its stages this Session of the Asylums Officers' Superannuation Act Amendment Bill, introduced by the hon. Member for Roxburghhire?

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the question, is he aware that this is the Bill of the Asylums Workers' Association, which looks after the material and moral welfare of persons who are employed in asylums?

The Government are in favour of the principle of the Bill referred to, but I fear it will not be possible to pass it through all its remaining stages this Session.

Can the Prime Minister not make an exception in favour of this Bill which helps a deserving class, and which is non-contentious?

I am told that there is some opposition to it, and I very much regret that there should be.

Government Of Ireland (Amendment) Bill

52.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that no offer made by him in his attempt to avert civil strife has silenced the dreadful note of preparation, he will now abandon the Government of Ireland (Amendment) Bill and pass through this House a brief measure providing that a petition presented by Ulster electors, after One or more other local parliaments have been set up under the Government's scheme of devolution, will entitle that province to a boundary commission charged with the duty of delimiting an area in Ulster in which a referendum may be taken to determine whether that area shall withdraw its representatives from Dublin and send them to another local parliament willing to accept them or, failing such acceptance, to a local parliament for such area?

This is a matter which can more suitably be dealt with in Debate.

British Army

Royal Military College

53.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many vacancies were offered for examination into the Royal Military College at the recent examination, how many gentlemen competed, and how many were discarded at the medical examination; and whether any steps are being taken to increase competition?

Two hundred and fifteen Royal Military College Cadetships were offered for competition at the recent examination and there were between 350 and 360 candidates for them. About thirty-seven of these were pronounced unfit by the medical board, but they have the option of presenting themselves before the Appeal Board next month. The supply of candidates is at present the subject of inquiry.

Desertions

54.

asked the Secretary for War how many desertions of noncommissioned officers have taken place in each of the last three years, ending 31st March, from the Army; and how many desertions of the men in each of the same years?

The returns do not give details of desertions by ranks, and it is not possible therefore to give separate statistics for non-commissioned officers, and for men. The figures for non-commissioned officers and men are as follows:—

19111,664
19121,583
19131,552

Kent Royal Garrison Artillery

55.

asked the Secretary for War if he will state why the Kent Royal Garrison Artillery is so reorganised that an officer of that corps can never attain a higher rank and command than major commanding a single company, while an officer of a Kent regiment of infantry (Territorial) may rise to commanding a battalion of 1,000 men; and if he proposes to take any steps in the matter in view of the effect of such difference of opportunity and treatment upon the spirit and welfare of the Kent Royal Garrison Artillery?

The reorganisation was carried out on purely military grounds. A group of Royal Garrison Artillery Coast Defence units does not necessarily have a lieutenant-colonel on its establishment, and the Kent Royal Garrison Artillery is not in a special position.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to me why he has given two different replies to the same question? On one occasion did he not say that there was no difference between the promotion and status of officers of the Royal Garrison Artillery and of the officers of other branches of the Territorial Force?

I think the hon. Member is mistaken—at any rate that was not the intention I had in my mind in the answer I gave.

I will take the earliest opportunity to call attention to this subject.

Army Canteens (War Office Committee)

56.

asked the Secretary for War whether, if not already the case, he will consider the advantage of putting at least one non-commissioned officer on the Committee to be appointed on the question of canteens in the Army?

There are already four representatives of the Army on the Committee referred to, and I have received no representation in the sense of the question. I think that the best interests of all ranks are adequately represented.

Is it not the fact that the canteens are for the non-commissioned officers and men, and could not they be given one representative to put forward their views?

That might lead to a great deal—we might have a noncommissioned officer and a private. I believe the Committee is well satisfied as it is to look after the interests of the Army.

What is the right hon. Gentleman's objection to having a non-commissioned officer or a private, both as respectable and democratic as anybody?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered whether a small private trader should not be appointed?

Real And Personal Estate (Next-Of-Kin)

62.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the official statement that the property of the late Mrs. Blake, née Ellen Sheridan, has not accumulated means that it has been appropriated by the State to the exclusion of the next-of-kin or only that no account of its present value has been made out; whether he will produce a statement of the property, real and personal, showing all the payments made out of it since her death; the date at which the personal estate was found to be £96,778 4s. 11d. and the real estate £48,000; what that personal estate would amount to now at the average current rate of accumulation; and what, approximately, the real estate is estimated to be worth now?

All the information that can properly be given to the hon. Member was supplied to him by answer and correspondence two years ago. I can, if he wishes it, give him all the relevant references, but I see no useful purpose in repeating the information, or any reason to reverse the decision arrived at then.

63.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the High Court in London, when prescribing newspapers for insertion of advertisements for the next-of-kin of the late Mrs. Blake, née Ellen Sheridan, who are all Irish peasants, had not the assistance of any counsel on behalf of those peasants, and consequently prescribed newspapers which those peasants have never seen, that the firm of solicitors named by him had no interest in finding the next-of-kin in Ireland, and that professional next-of-kin agents are unfit persons to entrust with such a matter; seeing that no advertisement has yet been inserted in any newspaper circulating among Ellen Sheridan's kindred, and that unless this is done while the older of them are living their property must lapse to the State, whether the State, now free from Court control in this matter, will, by publishing in papers circulating amongst the next-of-kin an advertisement of all available identifying information, enable them to prove their kinship and recover their property; and, if not, will he say what law, order, or principle prevents the adoption of this course?

The hon. Member assumes that there is evidence as to the circumstances and whereabouts of the next-of-kin; this is not the case, and consequently the questions asked do not properly arise.

Customs And Excise Department

65.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury how many Excise officers have been appointed to the surveying grade under the amalgamation scheme in the past two years?

Fifteen have actually been appointed, and thirty-nine more have qualified, and are awaiting vacancies.

68 and 69.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury (1) whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Customs launchmen forwarded on the 11th June, 1913, a petition dealing with their grievances; whether a reply has been made; if not, what is the reason for the delay in the matter; and (2) whether he is aware that the Committee on the Customs Waterguard Service recommended, in their Report issued in May, 1912, improved pay and pension rights for Customs launchmen; whether those recommendations have been accepted; and, if so, from what date is it intended to put them into force?

A decision on the recommendation of the Committee referred to has been unavoidably delayed, as I explained in answer to the gallant and hon. Baronet the Member for Central Hull on 6th May last, pending the consideration of certain other questions involved. I am now about to deal with the latter questions, and having done so, shall be in a position to decide on the recommendation of the Committee, and the petition referred to.

May I ask whether consideration will be given owing to the delay as to the date for which any advance may be made?

The question of the date at which any advance will be granted will be considered and the delay will be taken into account.

Regent's Park

70.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the condition of the roads on the east side of Regent's Park, and to the fact that the roads in Regent's Park are kept in a worse condition than in any other park in the metropolis; and, if so, what action he proposes to take in the matter?

This question should be addressed, I understand, to the Office of Woods.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I addressed a question to the Secretary of the Treasury on a previous occasion?

House Of Commons (Attendants And Employés)

72.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether there has been any revision during the last four years of the payments made to the attendants and employés of the House for their attendance during the late sittings; whether some of these receive no additional payment unless the sitting of the House be prolonged after 5.30 a.m.; and whether arrangements can be made for a more adequate system of payment for overtime whenever the House sits after midnight?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and to the second in the affirmative. The salaries which the attendants receive have always been considered as covering the performance of all duties discharged during the Session, but an allowance is given when the sitting of the House is prolonged beyond 5.30 a.m. Any alteration of the existing arrangements must be made by the House of Commons Offices Commission.

Is there any possibility of having any regular machinery for revising these from time to time?

The House of Commons Offices Commission, the composition of which I can inform the hon. Member.

Is it possible for the proceedings of that august Commission to be reviewed in any way in the House?

Population (United Kingdom)

73.

asked the President of the Local Government Board the estimated increase or decrease in the population of England, Scotland, and Ireland, respectively, in the year 1913?

The estimated increase for England and Wales is 257,000; the estimated decrease for Scotland is 7,566; and for Ireland is 5,698.

Mental Deficiency Act

74.

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the communications which have passed between the guardians of the poor of St. Pancras and the Local Government Board, in which the Board have put forward the contention that defectives within the meaning of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, who have received any care from the guardians before the coming into operation of the Act do not fall within its scope; whether the Board adheres to this contention; and whether, seeing that the usefulness of the Act will be greatly diminished if this be its correct interpretation, he is prepared to consider the introduction of amending legislation?

The hon. Member's question does not correctly state the view held by the Local Government Board. The correspondence to which the hon. Member no doubt refers related to the proposed transfer of a defective person from the care of the guardians to that of the local authority under the Mental Deficiency Act, in pursuance of the Regulations made under proviso (ii.) of Section 30 of the Act. These Regulations apply only in the case of defectives subject to be dealt with under Section 2 (1) (b), and, while the Local Government Board have no authority to determine the question finally, it would appear that a person who has for some time been, and is still, an inmate of one of the guardians' institutions cannot be held to be a person subject to be dealt with under that provision on the ground that he is a person who is found neglected, abandoned. or without visible means of support. The question of amending legislation is one for the Home Secretary.

Housing (Wales)

75.