Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 95: debated on Wednesday 27 June 1917

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

War

Royal Naval Air Service

1.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will state if an enemy submarine was attacked by a Royal Naval Air Service seaplane on 1st May last in the North Sea; if the attack was successful, and who was the pilot responsible; if on 14th June Zeppelin L43 was attacked by an officer of the Royal Naval Air Service; and, if so, was the attack successful, and who was the officer responsible?

We do not think it desirable to state where or how attacks are made on enemy submarines and Zeppelins. But, of course, in the case of such attacks, the names of the personnel engaged are duly reported to the Admiralty and appropriate reward is made.

Will the right hon.Gentleman in future adopt the policy of either publishing all the names of these officers or none, and not making distinctions between some officers and others?

Greece

Ex-King Constantine

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Government has undertaken to pay a pension to King Constantine, late King of Greece; and, if so, what is the amount of that pension?

10.

asked whether any annuity or payment has been made by the Greek Government to King Constantine on his abdication; and, if so, what the amount of the annuity or payment is, and also if the Treaty Powers are in any way responsible or have guaranteed such payments?

I am not yet aware what arrangement the High Commissioner came to with Monsieur Zaimis in regard to King Constantine's future pension. Presumably it will be paid from Greek revenues.

Are we to understand that the Foreign Office is not yet aware of the action taken in this matter?

I have told the hon. Gentleman that I am not yet aware of what arrangements were come to.

Why is it that the Press in this country get information of these events before the Foreign Office?

The following question stood in the name of Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD:

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the late King of Greece received a pension from or guaranteed by the Allies or any of them; and, if that be so, whether the amount can be stated?

Action Of Allies

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that on 19th June M. Venizelos sent a telegram to the Press of the United States disclosing that the guaranteeing powers prevented Greece from having a republican form of Government; whether the ties of blood between the British, Danish, German and Greek Royal families were in any or all these cases the grounds for this action of the guaranteeing powers; and whether it is the policy of the Allies, as also of the German Kaiser, to support the Greek Royal house against the Greek people?

The policy of the Guaranteeing Powers has been often stated, and the insinuations of the hon. Member have been often contradicted. There seems no reason to add anything to the answers already given.

Would it not be well to associate the United States with all these acts of great importance?

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, having regard to the misunderstanding which exists as to the action of the Allies in Greece, he will, as soon as possible, lay Papers dealing with the actions taken by the Allies from the date of the landing of Allied troops in Salonika to the date of the removal of King Constantine?

The time has not arrived when the full correspondence on this subject can be laid before the House.

Salonika Expedition

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now arrange for a full and frank discussion of Greece and the Salonika Expedition?

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, this is a question which can only be answered by the Leader of the House, but personally I do not think such a discussion would at present be in the public interest.

Albania

5.

asked whether His Majesty's Government have given any official recognition to the Italian protectorate over the Albanians?

The answer is in the negative. As regards the accuracy of the expression "Italian protectorate over the Albanians," I would refer the hon. Member to the recent answers given in the House.

Alsace-Lorraine

6.

asked whether it is a correct interpretation of the Allied note to President Wilson that Alsace and Lorraine are to be transferred to France without measures being taken to ascertain the wishes of the populations concerned?

I cannot undertake to expound the exact form in which the general principles laid down in the Allied note will be applied.

Are we to understand from that reply that the fate of these populations is to be determined without their wishes being ascertained?

No, Sir; I said I cannot undertake to expound the exact form in which the general principles laid down in the Allied Note will be applied. Obviously you cannot infer from that statement what the hon. Gentleman seems to desire.

But have these proposals been accepted by the Government of the United States or the new Government of Russia?

If the hon. Gentleman wants to ask another question he had better put it on the Paper.

Duchess Of Saxe-Coburg

11.

asked whether the annuity payable to the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg has been paid during the period of the War, and if the money has been remitted to Germany; and, if so, in what manner has it been sent?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for West Clare on the 5th instant. I am informed that the money is not remitted to Germany.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

13.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the regimental paymaster at Perth refused to sanction the payment of £15 sent home from France by Lance-Corporal David Ross, No. 226,032, 10th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, for the benefit of his mother and uncle, saying that £3 was only admissible to be paid, and denying the relatives any explanation of the refusal to pay the balance; if so, will he say why soldiers are discouraged to remit home for the benefit of their relatives any savings they may have made from their wages and allowances?

Owing to clerical error the account showed only £3 available, and the paymaster gave the only explanation he could. The matter has since been put right, and the whole sum of £15 has been issued. There was no idea of discouraging remittances.

Military Service

Conscientious Objectors

14.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what is the policy of the Army Council in regard to the granting of remission of sentences to conscientious objectors who are rejected by the tribunal or who refuse to accept the conditions of work under the Brace Committee; and whether such policy has resulted in repeated trials by court-martial for what is practically persistence in disobedience to military commands?

The policy of the Army Council in regard to such men has been to regard them as soldiers, and in consequence to accord them the clemency which is meted out to soldiers who have been guilty of offences against discipline. The scale of punishments laid down in paragraph 583 of the King's Regulations as suitable for offences committed by soldiers has been followed, and the sentences passed by courts-martial reduced accordingly. Twelve months' experience, however, has proved that the clemency has been invariably abused, and that as soon as such men are released from prison they immediately commit themselves again. It has, therefore, been decided to make no more remissions in such cases during the continuance of hostilities, and the sentences of district courts-martial will be left undisturbed.

Does that mean that exceptional circumstances will not be taken into consideration, and that instead of judging each case on its merits there will be a rule excluding all of them from any remission of sentences?

If there are any special circumstances I dare say they will be taken into account.

Does the policy of the Government now mean that the men who continue to disobey orders will serve successive sentences in prison?

Medical Re-Examination

21, 22, and 23.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War (1) whether his attention has been called to a recent meeting of the Mitcham Tribunal, at which a man passed for service asked permission to go before a special medical board; whether he is aware that this man is blind in one eye, half-blind in the other, and stone deaf, and had to be led into the room by a clerk; whether he proposes making any investigation into this case; (2) whether his attention has been called to a Mitcham chemist, the owner of a one-man business, who applied before the local tribunal for permission to go before a special medical board; whether he is aware that this man, formerly rejected for military service, has now been passed for general service, and that although he only weighs 91 lbs. he will be expected to carry a kit weighing 90 lbs. exclusive of his rifle; whether he has seen that Dr. Love, a member of the tribunal, described the classification as absurd; whether he proposes taking any action in the matter; (3) whether he will make investigation into the case of Charles Walker Smillie, of 7, Chipping-ham-place, Attercliffe, Sheffield, who was recently medically examined and passed for general service in the Army; whether he is aware that this man is 4 ft. 10 ins. in height and weighs about six stone, and that he will be expected to carry a kit heavier than himself; and whether, in the circumstances, he will cause a further medical examination to be made, either with a view to the discharge of this man from the Army or to the placing of him in a lower category?

27 and 28.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War (l) if he is aware that Harold Vincent Lawton, 77, St. Romans Road, South-sea, passed into Portsmouth Dockyard as engineer apprentice August, 1906, and was invalided out the same year with tubercle of the hip, that he has not been able to work for six and a half years, but has recently done sedentary work as a bank clerk, that he presented himself under the Derby scheme, was rejected for tubercle of the hip and given a blue form, and that H. V. Lawton was passed second general service in June, 1917; if he will inquire into this case and have, the matter put right; if A. C.I. 471, which suggests that any man who has been treated for tuberculosis at any time is to be rejected, has been abrogated; (2) if he is aware that Messrs. Leethem, corset makers, Portsmouth, who employ over 1,000 women hands, were asked in November last by the substitution officer, recruiting depot, if they would release a skilled pattern cutter, Robinson, a general service man, for the 6th Hants, if another of their cutters who had joined up but had become C 2 was returned to them; that Messrs. Leethem agreed in good faith, but now this substitute has been called up; that Messrs. Leethem have an excellent war record, and that they give their workers an allowance while in the Service and have promised to reinstate them after the War, but all this will be impossible if their factories have to shut down; and if he will inquire into the matter and allow Messrs. Leethem to retain all but general service skilled pattern cutters?

31.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will make inquiry into the methods of the medical board at St. Andrew's School. Stockport, where men are being summoned for a particular date for re-examination, kept waiting the whole day, and then sent away without examination and told to come come again, when a similar experience awaits them; and, in view of the hardship, inconvenience, and financial loss inflicted upon the men by this practice, will he take steps to effect an alteration?

I will answer at the same time Nos. 22, 23, 27, 28, and 31. In each of these cases it is necessary to obtain further particulars, and my hon. Friends shall be informed of the result as soon as possible.

32.

asked whether, under the provisions of the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act, a man who has been medically rejected, who attained the age of forty-one in April last, who has been substituted for a man who has been released for the Army, and who is working in an excepted occupation, is called up for medical re-examination?

A man who was excepted from the Military Service Acts, 1916, and attained the age of forty-one within thirty days after the 5th April, 1917, the date on which the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act, 1917, was passed, cannot be made liable for military service under the latter Act. If a notice requiring him to present himself for medical re-examination is sent to him, he should return it to the recruiting officer with a statement as to his age, which may be fortified by his birth certificate.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that he is excepted from this Act if he attains the age of forty-one before the expiration of the thirty days after the notice is served on him, and that therefore the answer is inaccurate?

Local Tribunals (Military Representatives)

26.

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether he has now completed his inquiries into the question of persons of military age and fitness serving as military representatives before tribunals; and whether he can state the result of these inquiries?

Out of ninety-four appeal military representatives eleven of military age have been found fit for general service. Instructions have been issued that arrangements must be made for these eleven officers to be relieved of their recruiting duties and to rejoin their units for duty.

Will these gentlemen go before the tribunal in the ordinary way like anybody else?

Field Punishment No 1

29.

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether he is aware that Private Ernest Richard Bowyer, No. 290739, l/7th Battalion Welsh Regiment, belonging to North Salford, but now stationed at Marton Hall, Yorkshire, has lately been punished by being confined to barracks without pay for one month and given field punishment No. 1. which means being handcuffed and tied to a tree for two hours each day; whether he is aware that this young soldier is only sixteen, years of age and three months and has served a year with the Colours, and that his offence was that he overstayed his first leave; and whether he will take steps to prevent punishments of these kinds to lads of sixteen years of age?

It is necessary to call for a report in this case, and I will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Interned Officers (Promotion)

33.

asked whether interned officers are being promoted in the regular course in accordance with a promise to that effect given by the Under-Secretary of 'State for War on 10th February, 1915; and, if not, will he give the reason why this undertaking has not been carried out?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on the 13th March to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York.

Review Of Exceptions

34

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he will give instructions to delay proceedings under the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act, 1917, pending the decision of the Committee to be appointed?

I regret that it is not possible to adopt my right hon. Friend's suggestion.

Young Recruits (Training)

35 and 36.

asked (1) whether any Regulation has been issued limiting the hours of work or training for recruits between the ages of eighteen and nineteen; and, if so, the nature of the Regulation; (2) whether youths of eighteen are now trained in special units; and what arrangements are made for their educa- tion, training, feeding, and accommodation which differ from those made for older soldiers?

I will answer at the same time No. 36. Arrangements have been made for recruits enlisted under the age of eighteen years and eight months to be posted to battalions organised for their reception, and to which recruits over the age of eighteen years and eight months are not posted. A special training syllabus has been drawn up in order that there should be no risk of overstrain, and attention is paid to education and games. Instructions have been issued for special attention to be paid to ensure that the accommodation provided and the messing arrangements are satisfactory, and that proper provision is made for rest and recreation. An additional allowance of bread is given to all recruits under the age of nineteen.

37.

asked when a youth who has been called up at the age of eighteen becomes entitled to his first leave; and at what intervals he can obtain leave subsequently?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East on the 20th instant.

Royal Garrison Artillery (Havre)

40.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he is aware that the men in the Royal Garrison Artillery at Havre are not receiving the Regulation food rations, as recently stated by the War Office, and that they are not receiving more than half the amount laid down in the Regulations; and if inquiry will be made into this matter?

I have no information which bears out the hon. Member's suggestion. I am making inquiries, and if the hon. Member will let me have any details in his possession I shall be obliged.

Members Of Parliament

56.

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that Members of the other House are not exempted from military service by reason of serving or sitting in that House; and if Members of this House are exempted, by what means, or for what reasons, such exemption is or can be obtained?

A Member of Parliament sitting in either House is not, as such, exempted from liability to be called up for military service. An Instruction was, however, issued in August last for the general guidance of recruiting officers that a Member of Parliament who, having been examined by a medical board, is found not fit for general service, is not to be called up.

Aldbrough Camp (Visitors)

15.

asked the Undersecretary of State for War if he is aware that the police have ordered the licensed victuallers and others not to supply food or drink to visitors at Aldbrough, East Yorks; and if he will say if this order was issued in consequence of any instructions or representations of the Army Council?

My hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I have made inquiry and am informed that the police have not issued any orders to the effect indicated in the Question.

Air Services

British Troops In Mesopotamia

19.

asked whether he has received any complaint, official or otherwise, regarding the type of machine supplied to the air pilots on service with the British troops in Mesopotamia?

I am not aware of the receipt of any communication on this matter which could with correctness be described as a complaint. The Commander-in-Chief in Mesopotamia has stated that he would like certain additions to the aeronautical equipment of his forces and his wishes in this respect are being met.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Germans have discovered ourruse de guerreand know that we are making it a dumping ground for the worst of our machines and they are making arrangements accordingly?

Will the Government give a day for the discussion of the Mesopotamia scandal?

Reprisals

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to give an early date for a Debate on our Air Services, policies, and administrations, in order to enable the Members of this House to express the views of their constituents on the question of reprisals?

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the War Cabinet, the Government or this House of Commons are responsible to the people for the policy and for the conduct of this War?

The War Cabinet is responsible to this House, and between us we are responsible to the people.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give this House an opportunity of expressing its views or at least the views of the country?

I have answered questions of this kind, I think, about once a day for ten days, and I have stated more than once that if I find there is any general desire to discuss the subject an opportunity will be given.

May I ask if the bombing of our cities and the murder of our women and children and other acts against civilised warfare are to go on for ever unpunished?

Is it not a fact that yesterday Lord Cowdray made a full and frank statement to many Members of this House who required explanation and that he explained why that information had to be confidential?

I am well aware of the meeting yesterday, and I think that it was very desirable.

65.

asked the Prime Minister whether his refusal to entertain any organised system of re- prisals is due to the fact of their impracticability or to the Government's antipathy to methods which they consider barbarous?

I can only refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to him yesterday.

In spite of the answer, will the Government consider one form of reprisals which admits of no delay, and that is the ignition of German forests? Has my right hon. Friend's attention been called to an admirable pamphlet by Professor Beale, in which he shows that a series of aeroplanes armed with special incendiary devices could very easily set on fire the Black Forest and other very valuable forest land?

I need not tell my hon. and gallant Friend that this is not the first time we have heard of that suggestion.

Pilots

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether, as a matter of policy, he will instruct naval and military authorities to release for service in the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service every man under twenty-five years of age who is peculiarly fitted for, and desirous of, becoming a pilot or, alternatively, if he will instruct the naval and military authorities to encourage suitable volunteers for the Air Service by at least registering their names?

I have been asked to answer this question. The provision of pilots in numbers sufficient for manning the increasing supply of aircraft is a question for the naval and military authorities, who are responsible for the recruitment and training of personnel. There is at present no difficulty in obtaining suitable volunteers for the Air Services and there is no lack of encouragement.

Are we to understand that we have all the pilots we require, and that there is no desire for adding to their numbers?

May I ask this question of the Prime Minister? It is a question of policy and not a question of detail for little understrappers to answer.

War Prisoners' Camp (Brocton)

20.

asked whether an interned German doctor named Staab has been or is to be sent to the war prisoners' camp at Brocton, Staffordshire; whether the British medical officers there have been requested to add him to their staff and to accord to him the entry to and the conveniences of their mess; and whether such mess room is outside the confines of the camp?

I am informed that no German doctor has been or is to be sent to the prisoners of war camp at Brocton.

Censorship (Russian Newspapers)

30.

asked if a censorship is exercised upon the entry into this country of the Russian Socialist newspapers; and, if not, will he explain why no Russian Socialist newspapers have reached English subscribers during the last few months?

In regard to the first part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 30th April to my hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset. I have no information as to the last part of the question, but the probable explanation is that none have been sent.

Food Supplies

Dairy Stock

38.

asked whether, in view of the shortage of foods for dairy stock in the neighbourhood of Dublin, he will consider at once the advisability of adopting the suggestion of the county Dublin food production advisory committee that the military authorities should not now purchase or commandeer any hay within a radius of 10 miles of the Irish metropolis, and will revise the prices of hay commandeered in the light of the shortage referred to, and of the other considerations mentioned in the recommendations of the committee?

I have not seen a copy of the recommendations referred to in the last part of the question, but the question is under consideration by the Irish (Forage) Advisory Committee and the Central Forage Committee.

Richmond Park (Land Cultivation)

43.

asked the First Commisiosner of Works whether he has obtained any report as to the condition of the land in Richmond Park recently broken up and sown down in oats; whether the operations connected with the cultivation of this plot of land have been carried out successfully; and whether he can state the acreage under oats and the expense incurred in cultivating and fencing the land?

I receive weekly reports on this subject. The operations of cultivation have been carried out successfully. Seventy-five acres have been placed under oats. The estimated cost is £696, including £424 for cultivation, £192 for manures, labour and horses, and £80 for threshing. The cost of fencing was £343.

Has the right hon. Gentleman visited the park himself, and can he vouch for the fact that the operations have been carried out successfully?

I visited the plot myself. I have a sample of the oats in a box here, and I am very pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that the operations have proved very successful.

What was the total acreage broken up—I understand that 75 acres were put down to oats?

Is it not the case that there are large portions of the plot on which there is nothing growing at all?

No, Sir. I think there is a small portion which, owing to the dry weather, has not been so successful as we-might wish.

I would sooner not answer that question until we have had the oats raised.

Profiteering

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to resolutions from meetings of representatives of the organised miners of North Staffordshire, the Midland Miners' Federation, and from a special conference of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, protesting against the continued increase and high cost of living, and calling upon the Government to take the necessary steps to abolish profiteering, to take over the full control of the necessaries of life, and to direct the distribution of the same, at reasonable prices, to the people; and whether he can indicate that the Government intend to deal with these matters on the lines suggested at an early date?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As I have stated in answer to previous questions, the Government are doing their best to deal effectively with this matter.

Australian And Canadian Wheat

60.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Australian Government have commandeered all the Australian wheat for the use of the Empire, and that there is an estimated exportable surplus of 80,000,000 bushels of wheat in Canada, he can say whether the Canadian Government has been asked if they will act in the same way as Australia; and, if not, will lie make this request to the Canadian Government?

The question of wheat supply from Canada has been discussed with the Canadian Government, but it is not proposed to adopt the suggestion made by the hon. Member. In view of the geographical differences between Canada and Australia the same methods of control are not equally suitable in the two countries.

Fruit Preservation (Sugar Supply)

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the anxiety in the country districts as to whether sufficient sugar will be forthcoming for the preservation of fruit; if he realises that sugar for this purpose is needed now and in the immediate future, and that if it is not provided large quantities of most useful food will be lost to the country; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

The Royal Commission on the Sugar Supply is distributing sugar for preserving fruit to about 500,000 applicants, mostly in rural districts, who are growers of their own fruit. This sugar is now being delivered to the applicants as rapidly as possible.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in many districts no sugar has arrived, and that if it does not arrive next week it will be no use for strawberries?

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us on what principle this distribution has been made, because I have a question down asking on what principle it is made, and, why certain large growers are given nothing and their applications taken no notice of?

I do not think I can anticipate the answer to that question which I have got.

Will the hon. Gentleman inquire from the War Cabinet, or from someone occupying a leading position in the Government, how it is that in regard to the distribution of sugar in Ireland no arrangement satisfactory to the needs of Ireland has been made by the Government?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on fifteen different occasions I was promised that a representative of Ireland would be appointed in connection with the distribution of sugar and the appointment is not made yet?

I cannot answer these supplementary questions, which are for the Food Controller. I am only answering in the absence of a representative of that Department.

When are we going to get a representative of the Food Controller in this House?

War Bonuses (Ireland)

39.

asked whether the employés in the remount depot at Lusk, county of Dublin, have received no war bonus addition to their wages although the employés in every other military depot in Ireland have been otherwise treated; and, if so, will he state the reason and say whether the employés at Lusk will now be placed on the same footing in respect of remuneration for their work as the same class of workers in similar depots elsewhere?

Horses (Crewe Auction Sale)

41.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that a considerable number of horses were sent to the Crewe auction sale last Friday, 22nd June, which, owing to the recent Order prohibiting, except under licence, the sale of farm horses, could not be sold and had to be returned home; and whether, in the future event of Orders imposing similar restrictions being made, he will take steps to ensure a longer notice of their coming into operation, so that the loss to owners ignorant of the restrictions and unnecessary traffic on the railways may be avoided?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. With regard to the second part, I would point out that as long a notice as possible of the fact that an Order has been made is always given to the public, but to give notice of the intention of making an Order would, to some extent, stultify its effect.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that entrances for the sale closed on the Monday and the order was made on the Saturday or the Friday before?

I was not aware of that circumstance and I very much regret the inconvenience caused, but I am afraid that in the circumstances it was inevitable.

"Kew Bulletin"

42.

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, on the plea of economy, the Government have suspended the publication of the "Kew Bulletin," which has been published for thirty years and has proved of service to those engaged in science, cultivation, and commerce connected with plant and agricultural resources of the over-seas dominions; and, if so, will he say what will be the total amount saved by this suspension of publication?

In reply I beg leave to refer my hon. Friend to the answer which the Parliamentary Secretary made to a question by the hon. Member for Devizes on the 18th inst. The matter is now-being reconsidered by the Publications Committee at the request of the Board. I hope it may prove possible to resume publication.

Enemy Air Raids

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are prepared to reconsider their decision with regard to the compensation of victims of air raids; if so, when it is proposed to make a definite statement in the House; and whether, under these circumstances, to prevent confusion and ensure equity, the Government will consider the advisability of abolishing the present system of Government insurance?

With regard to the first two parts of the question, I can add nothing to the replies I gave on the 19th and 22nd instant to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.

Might I ask the Leader of the House if he will make a definite and final statement as to whether it is or is not permissible for individuals occupying official positions to give information of approaching raids, because it is either necessary or unnecessary? [HON. MEMBERS: "That does not arise!"] What action does the Prime Minister propose to take with reference to the Lord Mayor's statement of last night?

49.

asked whether the Government has yet decided to adopt a policy of air-raid warning by day; if it is proposed to adopt a policy of air-raid warning by night; and, if so, if a standardised system of warning will be instituted throughout the country, or whether each local authority will be permitted to make its own arrangements?

The Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief established some time ago a system of night warnings which covers the whole country, and has worked well, and he has now established a system of day warnings in the area which is exposed to attack by hostile aeroplanes. In both cases the warnings are conveyed to the proper military and police authorities and to certain factories and institutions where special precautionary measures are required in the public interest; no public warning is given by the military authorities. In certain areas public warnings are prohibited by military order, and the Government has now decided that no public warning should be given in London, but elsewhere local authorities are allowed to give such warning if they think it desirable.

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to receive a deputation from the City in this connection as to whether warning should or should not be given?

I have already received a deputation, which included the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

America (Aeroplanes)

50.

asked the Prime Minister whether we have yet dispatched to the United States Government aeroplanes of our latest design for their guidance and information; and, if so, when these were dispatched or, if it is not proposed to assist the American Government in this matter, will he state the reason why?

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member on this matter on the 24th of May.

This question is addressed to the Prime Minister, and I must ask the Prime Minister to reply [Interruption.] On a point of Order. This question is purely on a point of policy—whether or not we should aid our American Allies in the construction of aeroplanes—and it is not for an Under-Secretary to answer at all.

On a point of Order. I should like to ask your ruling whether Ministers are obliged to answer Members who use offensive expressions towards them?

Conscription Of Wealth

52.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received a copy of a resolution unanimously adopted by the Industrial Triple Alliance, representing the miners, the railwaymen, and transport workers of the country, urging that conscription of wealth should have preceded conscription of human life, and calling on the Government for the immediate preparation of a register of wealth and property in order to prepare for real equality of sacrifice; and what steps the Government propose to take in this matter?

The Prime Minister has received a copy of the resolution referred to. I do not think anything would be gained by adopting the suggestion in the question.

May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman has made himself acquainted with the composition of this Conference, and is he aware that all the delegates were genuine bonâ fide working-class delegates, and not inflated delegates such as met at Leeds?

I know that this question is very seriously regarded by the working classes, but it is not a subject which can be discussed by question and answer.

Are we to understand that the statement made by the hon. Member for West Derby in the Liverpool by-election that 10 per cent, of the wealth of the country would be confiscated was not made with the authority of the Government?

I am not aware of the statement. The Government have not made such a statement; but I have stated myself, and the Prime Minister has also stated, that as long as money exists in the country we will take it for the War in one way or another.

Ministry Of Commerce

53.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the trade questions which are likely to arise in the near future and of the unanimous desire which has frequently been expressed by the chambers of commerce in this country, he will consider the desirability of separating the functions now exercised by the Board of Trade in this direction from its other functions and establishing a new Department, to be known as a ministry of commerce, to deal with all commercial questions?

The Government are not as at present advised prepared to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend.

Would the Prime Minister be prepared to receive a deputation on the subject in order that they may lay their views before him?

I have no doubt that if he had time he would. I am sure my hon. Friend agrees with me that this is not a question which arises now during the War. It is one to be dealt with after the War.

Are there not commercial questions which will have to be settled immediately after the War?

Mesopotamia Expedition

Royal Commission (Report)

54.

asked the Prime Minister if he intends to give a day for discussion of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Mesopotamian expedition?

I should be glad if my hon. Friend would put down the question again next week after the House has had time to study the Report.

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to continue Lord Hardinge in the position he now occupies?

The answer which I have given replies to that also. I would rather not make any statement on the matter until the House has had a little more time to consider the Report.

What will be done with Lord Hardinge's Report in connection with the recent troubles in Ireland?

I had hoped to avoid saying anything about this at all to-day, but it is obvious to the House that the Government could not allow a Report of this kind to reach them without immediately taking steps to see what action should be taken.

Is the principle of the Government in appointing these Commissioners that of setting a thief to catch a thief?

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the cases of the officials censured in the Report during the interval or not?

I have already said that it must be obvious that it is the duty of the Government to take immediate action in regard to those who are specially accused of culpability in the matter.

Is Lord Hardinge still in a position of great authority and eminence at the Foreign Office?

These questions assume that Lord Hardinge has been guilty. I do not wish to make any such assumption at present.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman of opinion that, pending a final judgment of the House, the Government—

Ministers (Public Directorships)

55.

asked the Prime Minister whether the rule that members of His Majesty's Government shall not hold directorships in public limited companies is still in force?

Are we to understand that Members can continue to vote public money into their own pockets so long as-they can put M.P. after their names?

Reconstruction Committee

57.

asked the Prime Minister when the Industrial Sub-Committee of the Reconstruction Committee on Women's Employment and also the Agricultural Sub-Committee of the same Committee last held a sitting?

As my Noble Friend is aware, being himself a member of the Sub-Committee, the chairman (the right hon. Member for Walthamstow) found it necessary to resign, and there has been considerable though unavoidable delay in appointing a successor. This, however, has not meant that there has been a suspension of the work of the Committee.

58.

asked the Prime Minister what Sub-Committees of the Reconstruction Committee have been appointed, and the names of the members of the Committee and its Sub-Committees?

As already stated by the late Prime Minister in answer to a question addressed to him on 10th July, 1916, it is not considered desirable to announce the names of members of the Sub-Committees appointed by the Reconstruction Committee. The names of the members of the Reconstruction Committee have been published. I will send the hon. Member a list of the names for his information.

Will the right hon. Gentleman state the names of the Sub-Committee, not the names of the members?

No, Sir. The reason which induced the late Government not to publish the names of these Sub-Committees still applies.

Will the Government undertake that in appointing these Sub-Committees the interests of Scotland will be better represented than they are on the Reconstruction Committee itself?

I was not aware that Scottish interests were not properly represented on the Reconstruction Committee, but I shall look into that, and also into the membership of the Sub-Committees.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no member of the Reconstruction Committee has any acquaintance with or knowledge of local government in Scotland?

The chairman of the Committee is a Scotsman, which will go some way to show that Scotland is not unrepresented.

I am afraid I was under a misapprehension as to this Committee. The Committee I had in mind was the one presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, which is not the Reconstruction Committee, but which is one of the most important Committees.

Trade With Allies

59.

asked the Prime Minister whether any steps of a constructive nature for the encouragement of trade in conjunction with our Allies have yet been taken by His Majesty's Government?

The answer is in the affirmative, but it is not desirable in the public interest to make a detailed announcement on the subject.

Soldiers And Sailors (Land Settlement)

61.

asked the Prime Minister what steps have already been taken to provide houses and land and the loan of the necessary capital for those of the sailors and soldiers who have already returned from the front incapacitated for further service, and who are desirous of becoming permanently settled on the land in the United Kingdom?

Steps are being taken to provide land and accommodation for ex-soldiers and sailors under the Small Holdings Colonies Act of last Session. The facilities are not intended primarily for incapacitated soldiers, although some of these will be taken in under the scheme where possible. A statement of the progress made under the Act was given by me on 27th March. Agricultural training for wounded soldiers and sailors is available either at Wye Agricultural College in Kent or through arrangements with individual farmers of standing. These training facilities, which are under the control of the Board of Agriculture and the local pensions committees, provide for the upkeep of a man's dependants during his period of training, for the payment of the fees of the training, and also for pocket-money for the man. No provision exists for the loan of capital for setting up ex-soldiers and sailors as farmers.

I do not quite understand the reply. Have any houses and lands been provided for our soldiers who want to go on the land in this country?

If my hon. and gallant Friend will read the answer, he will see that that is dealt with.

Is it not a fact that the Colonies Act only provides small holdings for 300 families and that we have 5,000,000 soldiers?

That, of course, only touches the fringe of the question. There is another question to which I shall give an answer later on which deals with another aspect of the matter.

Is there any national organisation for providing work for our soldiers and sailors who find themselves destitute and have given up their avocations?

That is one of the subjects with which the Reconstruction Committee is dealing now.

62.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Imperial Government have yet agreed with the Governments of the Oversea Empire as to the settlement and provision of land and houses and the loan, of the necessary capital for those of our sailors and soldiers who are anxious to settle on land for agricultural occupation after the War in our Oversea Empire?

It is obviously impossible to take action in the matter until the Report of the Committee now sitting has been received and considered.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when this Committee is likely to report, as this matter is very urgent, and are not the Dominions waiting for a lead from the Mother Country?

I cannot say when the Committee will report as I am not a member of the Committee. The Dominions are all represented on the Committee, and are perfectly well aware of what is going on through their representatives.

64.

asked the Prime Minister whether £2,000,000 have already been voted for buying land and providing houses and small holdings for sailors and soldiers who have served abroad in this War; and, if so, whether he can say why applicants are not coming forward in the numbers anticipated?

£2,000,000 was the sum mentioned in paragraph 101 of the Final Report of the Departmental Committee (Cd. 8,182), but no definite sum has been voted by Parliament for this purpose. Two estates have already been acquired by the Board on long lease for use as experimental land settlement colonies for discharged sailors and soldiers, and the acquisition of two other estates is contemplated one of which will be in Wales. These undertakings are being financed by the Treasury as and when required. Application for holdings cannot be usefully made or considered until the men are actually discharged from the Forces, but a satisfactory number of applications has been received from men who have already been discharged and are fit for work on the land, and many inquiries have been received from men who are still serving, but are not likely at present, in view of the uncertainty as to their future to make formal applications. No considerable number of applications, however, can be expected until the end of the War.

Yes. Without notice I cannot say exactly under what power it is done, but I have no doubt whatever that we have the power.

Allies' Commercial Treaties

63.

asked the Prime Minister whether any of our Allies have denounced or have intimated their intention of denouncing all existing commercial treaties so as to be free to make new treaties of commerce after the War; and whether His Majesty's Government wilt denounce all existing commercial treaties for the same purpose?

The Italian Government have denounced, with two exceptions, all their commercial treaties by which Italian tariff rates of duty are fixed. The French Government have intimated their intention to denounce all their commercial treaties, and the subject is now being considered by His Majesty's Government.

Farmers And Tradesmen (Return To Business After War)

66.

asked the Prime Minister if farmers and tradesmen who have joined the Army for the War will be free immediately on the conclusion of peace to return to their business?

The release of men from the military forces at the end of the War will depend on the conditions obtaining at the time. It is obviously impossible now to forecast what these conditions will be, or what priority can be given to particular classes of individuals.

Will my hon. Friend see the importance of coming to a decision on the point as soon as possible?

Dependants' Allowances (Women Investigators)

67.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many additional women investigators into dependants' allowance claims have been appointed recently in Manchester?

One additional woman investigator has been appointed and four Customs and Excise officers have been sent to assist with the work.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they are still short of men in this Department, and people are having to wait before they can get their separation allowances?

I know there is great delay, and it was for that reason that we set up the Committee. I am making inquiries as to whether anything more can be done.

Excess Profits Tax

68.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn by the Associated Chambers of Commerce to the accidental inequity brought about to excess tax payers by the device adopted, for the sake of convenience, by assessors of pitting one year's assessment levy against another instead of one' year's trading result against another; and how he proposes to rectify it?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It is the principle of the Excess Profits Duty, as laid down in Section 45 of the Finance Act, 1916, to provide a set-off in respect of deficiencies of profit against excess profits by reference to the rate of duty in force for the periods in which the excess and deficiency arise. The occasion for considering the point raised by my hon. Friend can only arise in connection with the assessment of the duty for the final accounting period.

70.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in computing the excess profits tax, he will recognise the claims of those who have sunk capital in developing industries to have the amount so expended by them added to their other capital expenditure in estimating their pre-war standard of profits?

In computing capital for the purposes of Excess Profits Duty account is taken under existing law of proprietors' capital employed in the business. A return on unremunerative capital invested during the standard years is also provided for by Section 41 (4) of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the case of the development of new industries, such as rubber companies, there has been hardship through the money they have expended not being taken into account as capital, but being treated as lost money?

No; as far as I recollect that is not the ground of their complaint. It is a very complicated subject, and could not be dealt with by way of question and answer.

Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to deal with it on the Budget to some extent?

I have received deputations. Of course, if any Amendment is moved on the subject it will be considered.

72.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Excess Profits Tax is payable by clergy men and other persons in receipt of tithe in respect of the increase during the War in tithe rent charges?

Receipt of tithe does not constitute a business within the scope of the Excess Profits Duty.

In view of the large increase in tithe rent charges during the War and the necessity for getting more money, will some consideration be given to it when the Finance Bill is in Committee?

The hon. Member has forgotten that the Excess Profits Duty does not apply unless the amount exceeds £200. I do not think there are many cases.

National Union Of Railwaymen

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the gentleman who attended the meeting of the National Union of Railwaymen held at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street on 17th June, in order to take notes of the proceedings for the Government, was instructed to do so by any individual Government Department or member of the Government, or whether he attended this meeting as part of his general routine duties?

My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The police reporter in question attended this meeting as part of the ordinary routine under which the police keep themselves informed as to the proceedings at all public meetings of an important character. I understand that no special instructions to attend the meeting were given by any Government Department.

Defence Of The Realm Losses Commission

73.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any claims arising in respect of property acquired by the War Office, the Admiralty, the Ministry of Munitions, the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic), or other Government Departments under the provisions of the Defence of the Realm Acts and Regulations have been settled by the Treasury without being submitted to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission; and what is the amount of the claims so settled?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; but to obtain the figures asked for in the second part would involve a disproportionate expenditure of time and labour by the Departments concerned.

Was not this Losses Commission set up to protect the taxpayer in regard to the assessment of these claims, and will the right hon. Gentleman see that all claims are submitted to them in the first instance?

I think the hon. Member is mistaken in the object of that Commission. It was set up not to protect the Treasury, but to protect individuals against arbitrary action by the Treasury. Where agreement is reached by the Department and sanctioned by the Treasury the House may be assured that too much is not being taken.

Why does not the Treasury leave the matter to the War Losses Commission, which was set up under Statute to deal with them?

I think the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. It was set up, I believe, to protect the public against arbitrary action by the Government and not with a view to protecting the Treasury.

Was it not intended that where property was taken under the powers conferred on a Government Department under the Defence of the Realm Acts and Regulations all cases should be submitted in the first instance to this tribunal?