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War In Europe

Volume 65: debated on Friday 7 August 1914

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Vote Of Credit (£100,000,000) Agreed To

Army Supplementary Estimates, 1914–15;

Navy Supplementary Estimates, 1914–15

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

Resolution reported, "That a sum, not exceeding £100,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, beyond the ordinary Grants of Parliament, towards defraying expenses that may be incurred during the year ending 31st March, 1915, for all measures which may be taken for the security of the country, for the conduct of Naval and Military operations, for assisting the food supply, for promoting the continuance of trade, industry, and business communications, whether by means of insurance or indemnity against risk, or otherwise for the relief of distress, and generally for all expenses arising out of the existence of a state of war."

Resolution agreed to.

Additions To Army And Navy

Supplementary Estimates, 1914–15


Resolutions reported,

(1)"That an additional number of 500,000 men of all ranks be maintained for service at home and abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian possessions, in consequence of War in Europe, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."


(2)"That an additional number not exceeding 67,000 officers, seamen and boys be employed for the year ending 31st day of March, 1915."

Ways And Means

(3)"That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the ser vice of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915, a sum of £100,000,000 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom."

Resolutions agreed to.

Ordered, That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill that they do make provision therein pursuant to the said Resolution.—[ Mr. Gulland.]

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill

Considered in Committee.

Grants Out Ofconsolidated Fund

Clause 1—(Issue Of £104,642,055 Out Of The Consolidated Fund)

The Treasury may issue out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and apply towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the Service of the year ending on the thirty-first day of March, one thousand nine hundred and fifteen the sum of one hundred and four million six hundred and forty-two thousand and fifty-five pounds.

Amendment made: Leave out the word "one" ["one hundred and four million"], and insert instead thereof the word "two."

Clause 2—(Power For The Treasury To Borrow)

(1) The Treasury may borrow from any person, by the issue of Treasury Bills or otherwise, and the Bank of England and the Bank of Ireland may advance to the Treasury on the credit of the said sums, any sum or sums not exceeding in the whole one hundred and four million six hundred and forty-two thousand and fifty-five pounds.

Amendment made: Leave out the word "one" ["one hundred and four million"], and insert instead thereof the word "two."

Appropriation Of Grants

Clause 3—(Appropriation Of Sums Voted For Supply Services)

All sums granted by this Act and the other Act mentioned in Schedule (A) annexed to this Act out of the said Consolidated Fund towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty, amounting, as appears by the said Schedule, in the aggregate, to the sum of one hundred and seventy-three million seventy-nine thousand six hundred and eight pounds are appropriated, and shall be deemed to have been appropriated as from the date of the passing of the Acts mentioned in the said Schedule (A), for the Services and purposes expressed in Schedule (B) annexed hereto.

Amendment made: Leave out the word "one" ["one hundred and seventy-three millions"], and insert instead thereof the word "two."

Schedule (A)

Grants out of the Consolidated Fund173,079,608

Amendment made: Leave out "£173,079,608," and insert instead thereof "£273,079,608."

Schedule (B)—Appropriations Of Grants

Sums not exceeding
Supply Grants.Appropriations-in-Aid.
Part 13.—Revenue££
Departments, etc30,967,915961,098

Amendment made: At end add

"14. Naval and Military Operations, etc. (Vote of Credit), £100,000,000."

Grand Total173,079,60812,756,694

Amendment made: Leave out "£173,079,608," and insert "£273,079,608."

Schedule (A)

Grants out of the Consolidated Fund.

For the Service of the year ended on the 31st day of March, 1914:—
Under Act 4 Geo. 5 c. 1£2,792,053
For the Service of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915:—
Under Act 4 Geo. 5 c. 165,645,500
Under this Act104,642,055

Amendments made: Leave out "£104,642,055," and insert instead thereof "£204,642,055."

Leave out "£173,079,608," and insert instead thereof "£273,079,608."—[ The Chancellor of the Exchequer.]

Schedule (B)—Part 4


Schedule of Sums granted, and of the sums which may be applied as Appropriations-in-Aid in addition thereto, to defray the charges of the Navy Services herein particularly mentioned, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915, namely:—

Sums not exceeding
Supply Grants.Appropriations-in-Aid.
No. 1.—££
For wages, etc., to 151,000 officers, seamen, and boys, coastguard, and royal marines8,800,000126,000

Amendments made: Leave out "151,000" and insert instead thereof "218,000."

After the word "Marines" insert the words "(including an additional number of 67,000."—[ The Chancellor of the Exchequer.]

Schedule (B)—Part 5


Schedule of Sums granted, and of the sums which may be applied as Appropriations-in-Aid in addition thereto, to defray the charges of the Army Services herein particularly mentioned, which will come in course of

payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915, namely:—

Sums not exceeding
Supply Grants.Appropriations-in-Aid.
For grants, pay, allowances, training, and miscellaneous charges of the Territorial Force (not exceeding 313,933 men) and Channel Islands and Colonial Militia, including the expense of permanent staff3,086,000£ 5,650

Amendments made: In Item 4 leave out "(not exceeding 313,933 men)."—[ Mr. Tennant.]

Schedule (B)—Part 13

Amendment made: At end insert,

Schedule (B)—Part 14

Naval and Military Operations (Vote of Credit).—£100,000,000.

For defraying the Expenses which may be incurred during the year ending the 31st March, 1915, for all measures which may be taken for the security of the Country; for the conduct of Naval and Military Operations; for assisting the food supply; for promoting the continuance of trade, industry, business, and communications, whether by means of insurance or indemnity against risk or otherwise; for relief of distress; and generally for all Expenses arising out of the existence of a state of War.—[ The Chancellor of the Exchequer.]

Bill, as amended, considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

This morning I received a very important petition from the Constituency I represent asking that the question of the enforcement of small debts, debts accumulating for the future, should be taken into consideration. It is suggested that the County Courts should be either limited or that they should be closed for a period. These Courts are used largely for the purpose of collecting small debts, such as rent. There will be debts accumulating as the result in many cases of workmen being unable to find the means of meeting their creditors for food and so on, and it is thought even by a considerable number of the tradespeople in my locality, that some suggestion should be made to the House that these Courts should be suspended for a limited period, so that the working-classes and the poor debtor should have some consideration as well as the wealthy debtor.

Is there no power in the Home Office or in anyone else to prevent newsvendors bawling false and exaggerated news about the streets? They were doing it last night to the obvious discomposure of patriotic people not well informed on naval matters. They were bawling out reports about a great naval disaster, which referred to the regrettable sinking of His Majesty's Ship "Amphion." I do suggest, if there is no power to stop this, that such power should be sought and obtained.

I desire to associate myself with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) in the point he has just raised. Acting on behalf of a conference of working-class organisations, I sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealing with the question of small debts, and gave him notice that I was going to raise the matter to-day. Many Members of the House know, for instance, how much the question of hire purchase enters into working-class life. I think I am right in saying that there is no provision in the moratorium that was passed the other day covering small debts of any kind. At any rate, I believe I am right in saying there is nothing covering small debts below £5. We all know that there may be any number of families paying from 2s. to 2s. 6d. a week, and doing it honestly, in order to fulfil their agreements under the hire purchase system. It may be that owing to the husband or members of the family having gone to the war, or having been thrown out of employment, that they are absolutely unable to continue these payments. They cannot do it with the very best intentions in the world. The conference of working-class organisations, over which I presided, considered that this matter was one of very great urgency. I do not know whether the Secretary to the Treasury could give us any information on the point. Then there is the question raised by the hon. Member for Stoke as to whether the law of distraint is going to be allowed to operate without regard to the unfortunate circumstance in which many of the working-class people may be placed. It seems to me that it is legitimate for us to protect them, and I think every Member of the House will agree that we ought to seek to protect them, just as much as we make arrangements for protecting others. I am putting the thing forward in no party spirit. We have heard to-day that the House is likely to close for two weeks on Monday, and I think the Treasury ought to be in a position to give us some information on those points I have just raised, and I appeal to the Secretary to the Treasury to do so.

I want to ask the consideration of the Admiralty to a very serious and grave matter. Towards the end of last week a request was made by the Admiralty to the owners of Welsh collieries to ask the men to work on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. A number of the men employed at the collieries with which I am associated in South Wales wanted to go to work, but they were stopped from going by their leaders owing to a resolution passed by the Socialist Federation in Cardiff on the previous Friday. The Vice-Chairman of the Labour party the Member for South Glamorgan (Mr. Brace) is President of the Welsh Miners Federation. If these men had acted in this way in Germany they would have been taken out and shot forthwith, and it seems to me at a time when we were actually at war, when ships were actually waiting, and when the Admiralty within my own knowledge required this coal it ought not to have been possible for any men to stop men working to obtain the very necessaries to enable the Fleet to operate. It was a perfect scandal. What is the Government going to do in a case of this kind? It is not the men; the men themselves would be willing to work. The general manager of the collieries with which I am associated in Wales saw me this morning in London, and he told me that a number of men put on their working clothes on Tuesday and were anxious to go to work, but they were stopped by the Welsh Miners' Federation from going. This is a Socialist body, part of whose policy is that all war is wrong, and that every step should be taken to prevent the Navy getting the necessary supplies of coal. That is a resolution which was passed at a federation meeting presided over by Mr. Smillie. It is an endeavour on the part of the federation to persuade the working classes to take the view that they should do what they can to prevent the community engaging in war at all. That may be right or wrong from their standpoint, but it is a position to which the State for a moment cannot submit. I suggest there must be some power in the State to deal with men who incite citizens not to do their duty at a time of this kind. I feel very strongly about this or I would not have brought it under the attention of the House. But it came within my own knowledge that men had actually been prevented going to work by agents of the federation in pursuance of this Socialistic resolution. This occurred at a time when coal was necessary for the Navy, and when ships had been chartered and were waiting for coal. Such action was detrimental to the interests of this country, and I want to know what the Government is going to do.

I have not spoken, and I think it is due to an hon. Member who is absent that some explanation should be made on his behalf. I think I am right in saying that the hon. Member for South Glamorgan (Mr. Brace) did from this House wire to the men to go back to their work.

On a point of Order. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir A. Markham) has charged me with having stopped these men from going to work on Tuesday—

I never said a word about the hon. Member. I do not think he knows what he is talking about.

I merely turned round to confirm the statement of my hon. Friend that the hon. Member for South Glamorgan sent this telegram, when the hon. Member for Mansfield exclaimed: "Why did you stop them on Tuesday'" I think that is a very serious charge to bring against myself. I had nothing whatever to do with the matter. I only rose to make the explanation that I knew the hon. Member for South Glamorgan did send this telegram when he found the position we were in in this country on Monday afternoon, and I think the hon. Member for Mansfield should at least have found that out before he made such a serious charge against any one of his colleagues in this House.

I hope that this matter will not be pursued, and that nothing will be said to create quite uncalled-for apprehension and quite uncalled-for irritation. I would point out that the Conciliation Board arrangement provides for three days holiday at this period—Bank Holiday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Admiralty have no anxiety about their coal supply and certainly it is untrue that they were in want of coal at that time; but certain inquiries were made with a view of making doubly sure in all directions, so that there might be no delay in getting coal, and also in order, if I may say so, that undue inconvenience might not be caused to the private consumer over whom, at the present time, the Admiralty have all priority. That was one of the grounds for the inquiry. In point of fact a great many of the men did go to work on Tuesday—a great many of them, and they are all at work now. Further, I have the most complete assurances from the hon. Member for South Glamorgan that I can rely on him to do everything he can to secure that we shall get all the coal that we want. I hope the House will accept that from me in order there may not be any uncalled-for apprehension or irritation.

I want to call the attention of the House for one moment to the provision that is to be made for the wives and children, and possibly, later on, the widows and orphans of our soldiers and sailors. On the last occasion on which we had a great war, as I said yesterday, an appeal was made by the Lord Mayor for one large fund, and that fund was distributed amongst the different societies in existence for the relief of those who suffered by reason of the war. I see that the Government, knowing that the area of distress will be very much larger on this occasion, have, in my opinion most rightly, issued an appeal of a much larger and wider character—that is, an appeal for funds for the relief of distress generally. I hope that those responsible for that appeal will co-operate with the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and other bodies, one of which is, by Statute, compelled to take under its special charge the care of the widows and orphans of our soldiers and sailors. This morning there appears a very noble appeal headed by the Prince of Wales, and another not less nobly headed by the Queen Mother, while I have here a letter from His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, the President of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, asking me to use my influence with the Lord Mayor to issue an appeal on behalf of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation for the widows and orphans who, I fear, will shortly appear on the scene. It seems a pity that there should be all these rival funds. It seems a pity there cannot be co-ordination. There should be one large fund, and that fund should be distributed, according to needs, through the various forms of machinery which have acted so well for many years past in the relief of these various persons. The most necessitous on this occasion, those whose needs are really immediate, are the wives and children of the soldiers and sailors. They cannot in all cases wait for the setting up of new machinery. Here is old machinery at work, and I hope that that existing machinery may be used. I ask the Government to consider if they cannot bring in all these useful bodies, so that there may be one large fund which may be distributed through the various organisations which exist at present for diffusing any relief which may be needed by those most deserving objects of the benevolence of the nation.

I do not wish to add to the burden on the shoulders of the Government, but I venture to make one small suggestion which I think will not in any way add to their trouble, but may do something to steady the conditions of our national life. If one takes a glance at the national conditions under warfare, one is struck by this fact, that while many trades are grievously affected, there are a few that possibly benefit by war conditions, and one of the greatest of these is agriculture. The suggestion I venture to make to the Government is this, that they should allow those of us who have a knowledge of and an interest in agricultural districts, to form ourselves into a non-party Committee, in connection with the Board of Agriculture, but not adding to the burdens of that Board, to see whether in the months to come we cannot employ every possible hand in agriculture. I believe that by organisation we could absorb a great deal of labour in the agricultural districts, which at present is not being employed there. There are Members in all parts of the House with a greater knowledge of this matter than I have, but I think very large profits will be made by agriculturists in this country as a result of the war, and I am convinced if we, so far from relaxing our efforts to develop the agricultural districts during war-time, were to increase them, we should by a little organisation employ a great number of people, either temporarily or permanently in those districts. I am thinking of cases where a farmer dies—and cases of that sort—where farms come into the hands of landlords. I am certain that patriotic landlords would give us every assistance in this national crisis. The feeling of all of us must be that the greater the number of people who can continue in their normal occupation during this crisis the better. Of course a great number of people will necessarily have to live an entirely different life in every way from that they live in peace time, but in the rural districts, if some system of organisation can be thought out, we have a reservoir which will absorb a good deal of unemployment and give occupation to people who are useless in the fighting line, such as old men and boys, and enable them to do a great deal towards the support of their families. I do not ask the Government to give me any complete answer at the moment, but I do ask them earnestly to consider the question. Certainly the Noble Lord who has been appointed President of the Board of Agriculture will readily give us facilities if we in this House agree to form ourselves into a non-party Committee to consider this grave question.

I entirely agree with the appeal which the hon. Gentleman has made that all patriotic citizens who are not otherwise engaged in national service should turn their hands, as they most usefully may, to work in connection with the harvest and the resowing of the land as soon as possible in existing circumstances. I doubt, however, the efficacy or the advantage of a Parliamentary Committee to discuss the matter. There are most valuable means of effecting his purpose, but I doubt whether it would be most usefully effected through the medium of Members of this House joining forces on a non-party basis. A Belief Committee has been set up, and I am sure it must be a source of satisfaction to everyone in this House and to the country that steps had been taken so promptly to make arrangements for relief on an organised basis. I am glad to see that steps have been taken to fix maximum prices for groceries and other commodities. But the speculator is at work, not only in the towns but, I am sorry to say, to some extent in the country districts. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beck) has spoken of the possibility of farmers making huge profits. I hope the Government will make it impossible for the farmers or anyone else to make huge profits out of a national trouble. There is a serious danger to-day of persons turning national troubles to their own financial advantage, and I want to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government to take the earliest opportunity of putting a stop to any such possibility, even in the rural districts. The harvest is now being gathered in, and there is likely, at an early date, to be a very large quantity of wheat and other grain upon farm premises. May I appeal to the Government not to allow that valuable national asset to pass away from those farm premises, but that they will, at the earliest possible moment, take control of it themselves, so that they may deflect it to those particular parts of the country where there will be the most need for it in the course of the next few weeks. I want to make a very strong appeal to the Government not to rest satisfied with the organisation of the food supply in the towns, but at the earliest possible moment to take control of the food supply at present in the country districts and prevent it passing away from those places where the Government can most usefully control it, and from whence they may deflect it to those places where it will be most required.

1.0 P.M.

I should like to say a word as to the funds. I think the Prince of Wales' Fund is for general distress, and it will not in any way be possible for the money subscribed to it to be given to either of the other two funds which are most important—either the Patriotic Fund for the wives and children, which is what we may call a permanent charge on the country, nor will it be possible, I understand—and I have good authority for saying so—for any of this money to be diverted to the wives and families of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Fund, which is already an institution, for which there is now some money, but for which large sums will be wanted. I should like to give a word of warning to those who subscribe that there are these three funds and not merely one. I hope all those who can will give all they can to all three funds. As to the question of stopping County Court actions, it is no doubt very important that people should not be pressed whenever possible, and that as great discretion as possible should be left to the County Court judge. I want to warn the Government and my Friends below the Gangway not to press too hard on the Government in this matter, because there is a danger, if the recovery of debts is made impossible, that the credit of the working man or the working man's wife may be injured. The credit of the working man's wife at the present moment is one of their most important assets, and anything that will in any way destroy that credit or prevent tradesmen giving them credit for a week or two will be the greatest injury that could be inflicted on the working-classes. I hope that the Government in anything they do will not in any way injure that credit.

With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Arthur Henderson) as to the recovery of small debts, everybody must be in sympathy with the object the hon. Member has in view, inasmuch as the moratorium does not include small debts under £5, and there may be great pressure brought to bear in respect of hire purchase agreements and so forth. I desire to make a practical suggestion. I agree with the hon. Baronet who has just sat down, that the County Court judges have a very wide discretion in this matter. If they find in any particular case that there are facts which justify people not being called upon to pay, we may be perfectly certain that the County Court judges will exercise their discretion and stay execution, with the result that distraint will not be levied in cases where it ought not to be. The only practical suggestion I wish to make is that we who are County Court judges are familiar with circulars sent out by the Home Office with regard to matters that come before us. If the Government deals with this matter at all I suggest it might be dealt with by means of circulars sent out to the County Court judges calling their attention to the matter. The working classes will feel quite safe if the matter is left to the County Court judges, who are generally very lenient to the working-classes, and will take everything into consideration.

I regret I was not here when my hon. Friend called attention to this very important matter. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sanderson) that in so far as the discretion rests with the County Court judges—it does not always do so, as he knows—it will be exercised with great leniency and indulgence. I am sure a County Court judge would be giving the highest interpretation to his duty in doing so. From my experience I am sure they will exercise their functions sympathetically under the present conditions. Sometimes, of course, a County Court judge has no discretion, and the judgment and the warrant of distress go automatically.

I am not quite sure about the matter, because it is a very long time since I had anything to do with it. My own impression is that a good deal of the work goes automatically, and there is no discretion vested in the various officials. At the same time they can retard the action of the law where the law is harshly called into operation. I am sure my hon. Friend's experience is also mine, that the traders behave quite indulgently to the working classes where the failure to pay is not due to their fault. For instance, take the case of a great strike. I have never heard of any trader under these conditions issuing warrants for distress against workers who cannot pay.

That is quite true. They are really the workers bankers, and under those conditions I cannot imagine anyone exercising harshly his powers for the recovery of debt. Of course, there may be cases where a worker is in full work and either he or his wife has got into the habit of not paying their debts. I cannot see why the traders in that case should be deprived, under a sort of shadow of the moratorium, of the right of recovery of their debts, and that is why I will not at present take the responsibility of extending the moratorium until I am convinced that the traders are abusing their power, but I do not think they will. We shall discover that in a very short time, and it is better for the moment that there should be no interference with the power of the law under these conditions. On the whole we think it better to see how things are going. Another point which has been put is with regard to hire purchase agreements. I have had several letters from different parts of the country on this subject, and I think it is desirable that attention should be called to the proclamation of the law yesterday adopted by this House in reference to hire purchase agreements. In cases where the total amount of the original liabilities does not exceed £5 they are, I think, covered by the moratorium, notwithstanding that the instalments may be less than £5. It is very important that that should be known and I am glad my hon. Friend has given publicity to that fact. In a document like a moratorium proclamation it is impossible to deal by name with every form of debt, therefore I should be very glad if hon. Members would communicate with the Treasury if they have any special cases in which they wish to advise their constituents. The point raised by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher) has been dealt with by my right hon. Friend.

There is one question he did not answer, and that is, what is going to be done for the widows of those who are killed in battle who married off the strength? There is no Government pension for them at present. I most earnestly plead for them, and I want to inform the right hon. Gentleman that the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, of which I am chairman, has no money at their disposal at present.

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that all these questions have been very carefully considered by the Government. I do not think it would be advisable for us to announce a scheme prematurely. All that the House wishes to be assured, I think, is that the matter is being considered and that there will be a scheme to make provision for cases of this kind. That is the only answer I can give at present. I have also promised that the point raised by the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst) shall be considered by the Committee that is now investigating the matter of our food supplies. I know that the question put by my hon. Friend (Mr. Beck) is being considered, but it is premature to make any declaration upon it. I think the suggestion which he put forward, that there should be a non-party Committee which would investigate and consider and report to the Government, would undoubtedly be very helpful to the Government itself. Naturally we do not wish to deal with a question of that kind controversially under present conditions. It would be very desirable that there should be a non-party Committee to consider such a suggestion. I am sure the House will like to hear what reports we have had up to the present of the way in which the new arrangements with regard to banks are proceeding. I think they are very satisfactory at present. There is no sign of panic or commotion anywhere. The Governor of the Bank reports that there is no pressure anywhere except at Manchester, and there is no difficulty in coping with it, and the people are paying in freely. There is, I understand, a small queue at the Bank of England, but they are mostly people who want small change more than anything else, and I am told they mostly look like foreigners. This is a specimen of the sort of report from a great Joint Stock Bank. Here is one of the greatest of them. "Things are going on perfectly quietly both in London and throughout the country. People are paying in quite freely." I am getting reports of the same kind from other great banks.

There is a disposition in some cases for people to cross their cheques to the Bank of England, with a view to getting their notes converted into gold. I hope that will not be encouraged by the banks. That is rather an unfriendly thing to do at present. I do not wish to add anything more than I said the other day about that. I hope it will be distinctly discouraged. We want our gold to be paid, if there is any demand, and we can pay it, but at the same time I do not think under present conditions it is a helpful thing—distinctly the contrary—for any citizen of the United Kingdom to take part in a process of that kind. Luckily it is not serious, and it is only an indication which one finds in just a few places throughout the country. Here is the latest report I have had from another great bank. "Working wonderfully smoothly; nothing abnormal." I have taken steps, through the officers of the Inland Revenue and the Customs, to ascertain throughout the country, not merely whether in the banks things are working satisfactorily, but whether the traders think that the banks are working satisfactorily, because, after all, the Government came to their assistance in a time of great crisis, but on the express condition that they were to give help to the traders of the country. We want to keep things going, and working normally, and if that is done I think that we should save any kind of disaster. There may be unemployment and short time, but I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that things will recover, and in a very short time, certainly after a few weeks things will be working well throughout the country, and there will be no great distress. But we must have the assistance of the bankers and of all the great business interests in order to enable us to do so, and I hope by Monday to have reports from every part of the country showing, not merely from the bankers' point of view, whether things are working well, but also from the traders' point of view, whether the banks are helping them to keep things going. At present I have no further reports to give, but on Monday I hope I shall be able to give these reports, and for the moment I am sure the House will be very delighted to realise that things are working freely, and that people are keeping their heads, and I think that is very creditable to the people of the country under the circumstances.

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for asking a question with regard to the widows and orphans who are certain to be created before very long. He says he has a Committee inquiring into that, particularly with regard to soldiers marrying off the strength. Could he indicate in any way how soon that Committee will report? A few shillings at the moment are far more important to these poor people than a larger sum later on. In the face of the terrible suffering resulting from having lost the breadwinners, they will very often be in pecuniary circumstances of great gravity to themselves, and a few shillings would tide them over at a moment of extreme anxiety. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to indicate, if he can, when the Committee will report. If he can do so, the announcement would tend to relieve the anxiety. We have already lost a large number of men, and if the right hon. Gentleman would give the indication which I now ask, it would cheer up the people who have suffered bereavement.

I want on behalf of the children of England to make an appeal especially to the Board of Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I speak on behalf of the children in schools who are still paying fees. There are 400 ordinary public elementary schools—not higher elementary schools at all—in which there are no less than 138,000 children for whom school fees are being paid at the present time. I have been reading a speech which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25th November, 1902, and I could quote from it with effect on this point if I chose to weary the House by so doing. But I do not propose to read quotations. I make this appeal because I have constantly brought the question of school fees before the House. Let me point out one or two facts. These schools are almost all in industrial districts, like Lancashire and Cheshire, and they are in towns where the distress which is very likely to occur will be serious. I have facts showing that in some of these schools where fees are paid arrangements, for the supply of meals had to be organised all last winter. The children have been bringing the schools pence and receiving free meals all winter. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, at any rate, something might be done through the Board of Education to call the attention of local education authorities and school managers to their powers in this matter. I believe that a great deal of real benefit in the way of relieving distress-might be done in this way, and more especially by entirely sweeping away the school pence in the industrial districts.

The hon. Gentleman has assumed the responsibility of speaking on behalf of certain school children. I know something of these schools, for I had the honour of representing a, division of Manchester for some time. The hon. Member tells us that the schools are in large towns in Lancashire and Cheshire. That is perfectly true, but at the same time I think it right to say that the schools are in districts where there are alternative non-fee paying schools. The schools to which the hon. Member refers exist because the parents of the children attending them desire to pay fees. There is no doubt about that fact, and I am certain that the hon. Member is not speaking with any authority on behalf of the parents whose children attend the schools where fees are paid.

I have a suggestion to make most respectfully in an entirely nonparty way to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is with respect to a matter which I believe will be of some help to many people at this very difficult time. The point is a very simple one. I believe this war may be partly decided by questions relating to the financial and commercial endurance of the different countries involved. A Committee is now inquiring into our food supplies. I suggest that a Committee should be formed to inquire at once into the probable consequences of the war on our trade and production. Ministers are too busy at present to attend to that matter themselves, but I believe it would be of enormous advantage if information could be obtained on the subject. I would suggest that a Committee should be appointed to find out, for the help and guidance of the Government, how the State could help to maintain our credit and provide employment for people who will be affected by the war, and also to ascertain where the greatest distress will be likely to occur, so that the information obtained will be available in connection with the distribution of the money. The whole of our trade with Germany will be suspended. In other cases, however, we should receive a monopoly of the overseas trade. I think such a body as I suggest could ascertain which trades will be most injured by the war and which trades will be benefited. I believe that such information would be valuable to the Government in the distribution of the money and in helping the trades which are affected. For example, certain occupations will give more employment, such as Royal Naval shipbuilding, ordnance factories, and, I hope, agriculture. Other trades will probably give less employment; for instance, trades that fail to get cheap raw material, etc. If we had such a Committee, it would be helpful in finding out the districts to which should be sent such help as can be given by the Road Board and by means of the funds which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has providentially accumulated. In giving relief I think we should work on these lines. In the first place, it should be given to industries which can be saved by State intervention; secondly, help should be given by means of money granted by the Road Board; and, finally, if we cannot keep trade going in any other way, we should take steps which will enable people to maintain their efficiency while the war is going on. We should endeavour to see that no one will be left without food.

I wish to refer to the financial situation in order to ascertain from the Chancellor of the Exchequer certain information which, I think, it is desirable we should have. I wish to know whether the £1 notes available this morning have been issued in sufficient amount, because, on making application for them, I was told that there was a hitch, and that bankers could not obtain them. I do not know that that is true, because they were circulated this morning. I wish to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there was any shortage of what he anticipated would go out this morning. I should like to know also when the 10s. note is likely to be available, because it is most important for all classes that it should be in circulation, if possible, on Saturday when wages come to be paid. I hope I will be able to get an answer why the largo banks in London were not able to issue pound notes this morning.

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can say what has been done to prevent local shopkeepers in towns from raising unduly the price of food and necessaries for the very poor? The very poor are the people who suffer most, and they have already suffered. I would like to know what steps the right hon. Gentleman has taken to prevent this suffering from increasing?

Arising out of the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the effect of the moratorium on hire purchases, I want to be quite clear as to the measures which have been taken. It is well known that under the hire purchase system the persons who send out the goods on hire have a right by the agreement to seize the goods if the instalments are overdue. Have any steps been taken to prevent this being done?

In answer to the question of the hon. Member who has last spoken, all legal processes will be suspended by the moratorium, and not only will the person who supplies the goods on hire not be entitled to recover in the Courts, but he will not be entitled to exercise any other legal right in connection with the debt. Therefore, in the position which I indicated earlier in the day, the person who has been supplied with the goods would be protected from interference with them. In reference to the question raised by the hon. Member for Brighton, he put forward a valuable suggestion which is worthy of consideration by the Government. As he pointed out, the money accumulated by the Development Fund and even under the Road Board was, it was contemplated, to be used in a time of exceptional distress, and accumulations have been made with that object. I am very glad to be able to say that they represent a very considerable sum of money which will be available for expenditure in a time of distress of this kind. Not only that, but I believe that there have been considerable schemes prepared with that object. The matter referred to by the hon. Member for Shropshire is under the consideration of a Cabinet Committee, assisted by experts in the various trades. I think that they will be able to make an announcement very shortly. They have already, I think, succeeded in checking to a very large extent the rise in prices which was quite unnecessary, and not due to any scarcity, but due very largely to an anticipation of scarcity. I am very sorry to say that in some cases people have taken advantage of that in order to put up prices. On the whole I think that the traders have behaved with creditable self-restraint and self-respect. Some of them have not, but I think that in a very short time they will see the error of their ways and follow the very laudable general practice of people engaged in the same business. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, I hope, will be able to make an announcement, before the House adjourns, upon this important subject. In reply to the hon. Member for Ealing, the printing of the bank notes has not merely come up to anticipation but has exceeded it, so that we are able to distribute more notes than we anticipated when the announcement was made in the House. I am sorry to hear from the hon. Gentleman that some banks have not been well supplied with the notes. I heard something about it, and I communicated instantly with the authorities, who will see that this is remedied at once. We have had no complaints from leading banks on the subject.

I said "leading" banks. I have had no special news about the distribution, but in the reports which I have had from the banks there is no complaint in this respect. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is desirable to get the ten shilling notes out as fast as the printers can manage it. Up to the present they have done better than they promised when the arrangement was first made with them. My right hon. Friend, the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, will answer the question of the Noble Lord, who will, I think, find the answer quite satisfactory. A Cabinet Committee is dealing with the question of general distress, and the matter to which he called attention is being dealt with by the Admiralty in its own Department.

The Noble Lord put some questions with regard to delays that might arise in meeting claims for grants to widows, allowances to children, gratuities to parents and other relatives of sailors, marines and other seafaring persons. I can assure him that no delay whatever will take place in meeting claims. The matter has been the subject of several discussions with myself, and the claimants' branch of the Accountant-General Department are ready to move with the utmost expedition. The moment the persons can be identified the allowances will be made. The Noble Lord will be interested to hear that already the machinery is moving to identify the claims of relatives of the unfortunate men who went down in the "Amphion," and we shall certainly have no delay in this matter. With regard to the wives and children, in the case of the War Office I have no doubt that the same expedition will be used. The other aspect of the question raised by the Noble Lord is the case of the Reservist who is mobilised, and he asked what is to happen to the wife and children while the man is away. The Noble Lord knows that on mobilisation a man receives a month's pay. I can only speak for the Navy in this respect. In the War Office the practice is different. They receive their separation allowances. I think that in some cases men may have had time to hand their wives some or all of their money before embarkation, but not in a great many cases, because mobilisation was so rapid. Therefore, as far as that month's pay is concerned, in the vast majority of cases it is no immediate assistance to the wife and children. The Noble Lord knows that the sailor can make remittances to his wife and children, and he can make a declaration that he desires to make a regular monthly allotment. These are coming in in vast numbers since mobilisation, and we shall make allotments to the wives. These allotments will not be payable until the 1st of September. This is the 7th August. With regard to the intervening period there are a great many organisations and there are great kindnesses and enthusiasm on the part of private persons and others connected with the Service. We will undoubtedly do all we can in the various Departments to see to the wives and children, and we are considering whether it will be possible, though I can give no definite assurance on the point, to make the payment of the allotments forthwith rather than hold them to the 1st September. Though I cannot give any definite assurance, the Noble Lord knows that our interest in regard to the matter is just as keen as his.

Bill read the third time, and passed.

Injuries In War (Compensation) Money

Resolution reported, "That it is expedient to make provision for the grant of pensions and other allowances to certain persons if injured whilst employed in connection with warlike operations and to their dependants, and for other purposes connected therewith under any Act of the present Session relating to such provision."

Resolution agreed to.

Injuries In War (Compensation) Bill

Considered in Committee, reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

Education (Provision Of Meals) (Ireland) Bill

As amended, considered; read the third time, and passed.

Labourers (Ireland) Money

Resolution reported,

That, for carrying out the provisions of any Act of the present Session to amend the Law relating to Labourers in Ireland, it is expedient to increase the limit on the sums that may be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament for the purposes of payments in respect of advances made by the Land Commission for the provision of cottages and allotments under the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1906.

Resolution agreed to.

Labourers (Ireland) Bill

Considered in Committee; reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

Army (Supply Of Food, Forage And Stores) Bill

I beg to move, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable Food and Forage for His Majesty's Forces to be requisitioned in case of emergency."

The Bill has been slightly changed since it was put on the Order Paper, and it will now include stores as well as food and forage, and the purpose of the Bill is to apply to those articles the procedure under Section 115 of the Army Act.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Harold Baker. Presented accordingly, read the first time, and ordered to be printed. '[Bill 367.]

Bill read a second time.

Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill.—[ Mr. Harold Baker.]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee.

There is one Clause, which applies to food, forage and stores, the procedure under Section 115 of the Army Act, which enables the Government to take horses and vehicles in cases of emergency.

Bill reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

Patents, Designs And Trade Marks Bill

I beg to move, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to extend the powers of the Board of Trade during the continuance of the present hostilities, to make Rules under the Patents and Designs Act, 1907, and the Trade Marks Act, 1905."

This is a small Bill relating to Patents and Trade Marks made necessary owing to the war. In many cases persons, owing to Active Service and residence abroad, are unable to forward their renewal fees; and, under the existing Statutes, the Patents and Trade Marks in respect of which renewal fees are not duly paid will lapse. The Bill gives the Board of Trade power to make regulations empowering the Comptroller to extend the time for payment in cases where he thinks it necessary or expedient. The Bill will equally enable the time for filling up documents to be extended in proper cases. The Bill also gives power to the Board of Trade to make rules for the suspension of applications by alien enemies for patents, designs, and trade marks, and for the avoidance of grants or registrations of Trade Marks made by persons who are, in fact, alien enemies. It is thought that such power ought to be taken, but the power will only be exercised where national interests are at stake.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Robertson. Presented accordingly, read the first time, and ordered to be printed. [Bill 368.]

Bill read a second time.

Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill.—[ Mr. Robertson.]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee, reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.

Constabulary And Police (Ireland) Bill

Read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.

Considered in Committee.

Resolved, "That it is expedient to authorise further provision out of moneys provided by Parliament for the pay of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, and for pensions, allowances, and gratuities to members of those forces, their widows, and children, in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to amend the Law relating to the pay and pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police."—[ Mr. Gulland.]

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.

Milk And Dairies Bill

Lords Amendments considered.

Second Schedule—(Procedure For Stopping "Supply Of Milk Under Section Three)

(14) If an Order prohibiting the supply or use of milk is made against a dairyman he shall unless the Order has been made in consequence of his own default or neglect be entitled to recover from the responsible authority full compensation for any damage or loss which he may have sustained by reason of the making of the Order.

Lords Amendment: At the end of paragraph (14) insert the words: "The dairyman shall also be entitled to full compensation for any damage or loss which he may sustain in consequence of the responsible authority unreasonably neglecting or refusing to withdraw an Order made against him."

This is a Privilege Amendment, because it imposes a charge on the rates. The House will exercise its privilege on that matter and will not accept the Amendment. It is, however, open to the House to waive the question of Privilege and accept the Amendment.

I beg to move, "That Privilege be waived."

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Further Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Places Of Worship Enfranchisement Bill

Order read for consideration as Amended ( in the Standing Committee).

As one of the promoters of this Bill, I desire to acknowledge the help which Members on both sides of the House rendered when the Bill was considered in Grand Committee. It then passed without a division, and since then a petition has been sent to the Prime Minister asking that it be allowed to be starred as a Government measure, and that it might be regarded as non-controversial. Hon. Members on the other side are equally interested in the passing of the Bill as those of us on this side, and I now ask that it may be allowed to pass.

I understand that several hon. Members have objections to certain parts of this Bill and were given to understand that it would not be taken to-day, and had gone away; therefore, although I say nothing against the Bill, I must ask that it be put off until Monday.

Consideration of Bill deferred till Monday next.

Rivers Navigation Improvement (Ireland) Bill

Read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for Monday next.—[ Mr. Gulland.]

Elementary Education (Defective And Epileptic Children) Bill

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Osborne Estate Bill

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

A Royal Commission is appointed for Six o'clock, and I will leave the Chair until that hour.

Sitting accordingly suspended, at five minutes before Two of the clock.

The House reassembled at Six of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Royal Assent

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.

The House went, and, having returned, Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to:—

  • 1. Appropriation Act, 1914.
  • 2. British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914.
  • 3. Exportation of Horses Act, 1914.
  • 4. Trade Marks Act, 1914.
  • 5. Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1914.
  • 6. Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1914.
  • 7. Patents and Designs Act, 1914.
  • 8. County and Borough Councils (Qualification) Act, 1914.
  • 9. Coal Mines Act, 1914.
  • 10. Electoral Disabilities (Naval and Military Service) Removal Act, 1914.
  • 11. Isle of Man (Customs) Act, 1914.
  • 12. Army (Supply of Food, Forage, and Stores) Act, 1914.
  • 13. Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Act, 1914.
  • 14. Mall Approach Improvement Act, 1914.
  • 15. Electric Lighting Orders Confirmation (No. 5) Act, 1914.
  • 16. Gas Order Confirmation (No. 2) Act, 1914.
  • 17. Gas Orders Confirmation (No. 3) Act, 1914.
  • 18. Glasgow Corporation Order Confirmation Act, 1914.
  • 19. Clyde Navigation Order Confirmation Act, 1914.
  • 20. Local Government Board's Provisional Order Confirmation (No. 20) Act, 1914.
  • 21. Pier and Harbour Orders Confirmation (No. 2) Act, 1914.
  • 22. Leighton Buzzard Gas Act, 1914.
  • 23. Gas Light and Coke Company's Act, 1914.
  • 24. Leeds Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 25. Edenbridge and District Gas Act, 1914.
  • 26. Midland Railway Act, 1914.
  • 27. Skegness Urban District Council Act, 1914.
  • 28. South Western and Isle of Wight Junction Railway Act, 1914.
  • 29. Manchester Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 30. West Gloucestershire Water Act, 1914.
  • 31. Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway Act, 1914.
  • 32. London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Act, 1914.
  • 33. Northwich Urban District Council Act, 1914.
  • 34. Riddings District Gas Act, 1914.
  • 35. Southend-on-Sea Gas Act, 1914
  • 36. Wadhurst and District Gas Act, 1914.
  • 37. Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway Act, 1914.
  • 38. Poole Harbour Act, 1914.
  • 39. Great Northern Railway Act, 1914.
  • 40. Hayward's Heath Gas Act, 1914.
  • 41. Newcastle-upon-Tyne Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 42. Ossett Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 43. Walsall Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 44. St. Anne's-on-the-Sea Improvement Act, 1914.
  • 45. Bristol Corporation (Tramways) Act, 1914.
  • 46. Porthcawl Urban District Council Act, 1914.
  • 47. Wimbledon Corporation Act, 1914.
  • 48. Great Central Railway (Pension Fund) Act, 1914.
  • 49. Weston-super-Mare Urban District Council Act, 1914.
  • 50. Wesleyan and General Assurance Society Act, 1914.
  • 51. Glasgow (Tramways, Bridges, etc.) Act, 1914.
  • 52. City of London (Various Powers) Act, 1914.
  • 53. Clergy Mutual Assurance Society Act, 1914.
  • 54. Isle of Thanet Gas Act, 1914.
  • 55. London County Council (Money) Act, 1914.
  • 56. Oxford and District Tramways Act, 1914.
  • 57. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Corporation Act, 1914.
  • Defence Of The Realm Bill

    Trial Of Spies By Court-Martial

    I beg to move, "That leave be given to introduce a Bill to make Regulations during the present war for the Defence of the Realm." I ask leave to introduce another emergency Bill, the object of which, while it is important, is extremely simple.

    We ask for the following powers. Clause 1 provides that—

    "His Majesty in Council has power during the continuance of the present War to issue Regulations as to the powers and duties of the Admiralty and Army Council, and of the members of His Majesty's Forces, and other persons acting in His behalf, for securing the public safety and the defence of the Realm; and may by such Regulations authorise the trial by courts-martial and punishment of persons contravening any of the provisions of such Regulations designed—
  • (a) to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or any purpose, calculated to jeopardise the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's Forces or to assist the enemy; or
  • (b) to secure the safety of any means of communication, or of railways, docks or harbours;
  • in like manner as if such persons were subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under Section five of the Army Act."

    Punishment under Section 5 of the Army Act would not include the death sentence-Therefore, there would always be an opportunity of considering any action taken by the court-martial. The House will readily understand that it is extremely desirable in cases of tapping wires or attempts to blow up bridges that there should be an immediate Court to consider the offence of the offenders. I ask leave to introduce this Bill.

    No, Sir, it will date from the passing of the Act, and the Regulations will last during the continuance of the war.

    No, it will only apply to offences committed after the passing of the Act.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. McKenna and the Attorney-General. Presented accordingly, read the first time, and ordered to be printed. [Bill 359.]

    Bill read a second time.

    I beg to move, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill."

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee; reported without Amendment, read the third time, and passed.

    Saturday Sitting

    I beg to move, "That this House do sit to-morrow (Saturday) at twelve noon."

    Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any information as to the business to be taken?

    It is for the Royal Assent to the Bill which the House has just carried. I think there will be some Lords Amendments to some other Bills, and the Report stage of the Resolution on the agreed Housing Bill.

    Housing (No 2) Bill Money

    Committee to consider of authorising the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of such sums as may be required, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session, in connection with Housing; and of authorising the Treasury to borrow money on the security of moneys provided by Parliament or the Consolidated Fund by means of terminable annuities or Exchequer bonds for the issue of such sums or the repayment thereof; and to provide

    for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any expenses incurred in pursuance of such Act (King's Recommendation signified), To-morrow.—[ Mr. Herbert Lewis.]

    Message From The Lords

    That they have agreed to,—

    Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill,

    Army (Supply of Food Forage and Stores) Bill,

    Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Bill,

    Local Government Provisional Order (No. 3) Bill,

    Kirkcaldy Corporation Order Confirmation Bill,

    Anglo-Persian Oil Company (Acquisition of Capital) Bill,

    County Town and Parish Councils (Qualification) (Scotland) Bill,

    Diseases of Animals (Ireland) Bill,

    Entails (Scotland) Bill,

    Feudal Casualties (Scotland) Bill,

    East African Protectorates (Loans) Bill,

    Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill,

    Merchant Shipping Bill,

    Milk and Dairies (Scotland) Bill,

    Metropolitan Police (Employment in Scotland) (No. 2) Bill, without Amendment.

    Merchant Shipping (Convention) Bill, with an Amendment.

    National Insurance Act, 1911 (Part II. Amendment) Bill,

    Criminal Justice Administration Bill, with Amendments.

    Merchant Shipping (Convention) Bill

    Lords Amendment to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 369.]

    National Insurance Act, 1911 (Part Ii Amendment) Bill

    Lords Amendments to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 370.]

    Criminal Justice Administration Bill

    Lords Amendments to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 371.]

    Position Of Banks In United Kingdom

    Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 17th July, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

    I think the House would like to hear the latest returns from the banks all over the country. I am very glad to be able to state that they are perfectly satisfactory. That report comes not merely from the Bank of England, but from all the great banking institutions of the country, and I have only just heard this morning from Ireland that all is quiet at Dublin.

    Scotland is so sensible that I never expected anything would happen there.

    I have only heard from certain parts of Scotland, but I regard no news as being good news in this respect. I said something about the queue at the Bank of England, but that vanished in the course of the afternoon. The Bank has received to-day of gold, on foreign account, £5,611,000.

    There are one or two typical messages from banks. One bank very largely resorted to by retail traders reports "Everything just as usual; total paid in exceeds payings out." Another reports "All is going well." I have said something about Manchester. There was temporary excitement earlier in the day, but I am very glad to say that, in the course of the afternoon, it passed away completely. One other considerable bank reports "Everything going wonderfully smoothly. We had converted many receiving cashiers into paying cashiers in anticipation of excitement, but money has been coming in so well that we have had to reconvert them." The railways are paying in large sums of money in coin. I have the same kind of reports from the Post Office Savings Bank, both in London and elsewhere. Another very considerable bank reports "Business over the counters is very satisfactory." In London everything is working quite smoothly. The Clearing House Bankers met this afternoon and recorded their very great satisfaction with the way in which things are going on all over the country.

    I told the House earlier in the afternoon that I had communicated with the officers of Inland Revenue and Customs last night, with a view of ascertaining what the opinion of the traders is of the state of things, because I thought it would be well to have their point of view as well as that of the bankers. We have received telegrams from practically all over the country from our officers. I am summarising their reports, but I shall be able to give them in greater detail to-morrow, if necessary. They say there are no signs of the hoarding of gold anywhere. Trade everywhere is resuming normal conditions, and the traders are very satisfied with the arrangements made. They are also quite satisfied with the treatment accorded to them by private bankers. The Bank of England considered the position this afternoon, and in view of the very satisfactory state of things they feel that, in their judgment, business is so far re-established that it is no longer necessary to keep the bank rate at 6 per cent. They propose, therefore, to-morrow to reduce it to 5 per cent.

    I hope the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer invited me to fill a place on his Committee does not debar me from offering him congratulations on the success of the measures taken by him and the heads of the Bank of England and other great interests with whom he has been conferring. I think these congratulations are due to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but, indeed, we may congratulate our countrymen generally. I ventured to say two days ago that if the public kept its head the public would be safe. The public has kept its head.

    Germany And Belgium— Armistice

    I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has anything to communicate to the House with regard to the armistice which it is alleged has been applied for in Belgium, at Liege, and can he say what is the cause of the armistice?

    I am sorry I have no official news on that subject, and, therefore, I have nothing to communicate.

    New Bank Notes

    I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether the Bank of England, for the sake of its own dignity, could not give us something better than the new £1 note? It looks very much like a lottery ticket, or a ticket for a cloak-room. I hope that the next issue will prove to be something larger—I do not mean in amount, but something which one can handle.

    From the artistic point of view I cannot say that I am proud of this production, but it is the best we could do in the circumstances. In fact, we had to consider, first of all, what paper was available for that purpose, and there was no time to get a really artistic production. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) knows very well, we are considering the turning out of something of which we can be proud.

    May I ask the indulgence of the House to add, what I am sure did not occur to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. M. Henderson) is mistaken in supposing that the Bank of England is responsible for these notes. He seemed to think that they were responsible, whereas these are Government notes. The Government have done their best to meet an emergency, and will do better when they have had time. The Bank of England is in no way responsible for the paper on which the note is printed or for the artistic appearance of the notes.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-nine minutes before Seven of the clock, till tomorrow (Saturday), at Twelve noon.