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Oral Answers To Questions
31 July 1918
Volume 109

War

Concrete Vessels (Admiralty Contracts)

1.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if the British Construction Company. Barn-staple, Devon, is working under the Admiralty; and, if so, whether the terms of payment are for results achieved or whether payments are made on a cost plus percentage basis?

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Yes, Sir; contract terms have been arranged with the firm named for five reinforced concrete barges, and provide for payment of actual cost of labour, materials, and establishment charges (as verified by Admiralty accountants) plus a fixed sum for profit. The firm have also accepted an order for five concrete tugs, on the condition that they will leave to the Admiralty final decision as to terms of contract and price.

Royal Navy

Promotion By Seniority

2.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will say how many officers of the ranks of commodore, captain, and below have been given acting or substantive rank in the grades of rear-admiral, vice-admiral, and admiral, outside the method of promotion by seniority during the War; and, in the event of the answer being only one, whether the Board will have regard to the practice in our own Army and in other armies?

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The answer to the first part of the question is one: Captain (Commodore, First Class) Sir R. Y. Tyrwhitt, K.C.B., D.S.O., who was given the acting rank of Rear-Admiral in January last. With regard to the last part of the question, the Board of Admiralty are satisfied with the powers they possess at present.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the more satisfactory answer given by his colleague for the War Office and induce the Board of Admiralty to go and do likewise?

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Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire whether it is not a fact that the conditions are not at all satisfactory in the Army, and that they give rise to a great deal of difficulty?

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I cannot possibly answer that. But as regards my hon. and gallant Friend's further question, I was present at the discussion by the Board when the principle of giving acting flag rank to captains selected was adopted, and I was a member of the Board Committee that worked out the details of the application of the principle. I was impressed with the unprejudiced way the Sea Lords determined to meet war necessities as they arise, whilst at the same time preserving the great traditions of the Navy that promotion to flag rank must in no way be affected by personal and improper influences.

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Surely the same argument would apply to the Army, and surely there are some officers with merit?

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Admitted.

Pensions (Chief Yeomen Signals)

3.

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asked the Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that a number of chief yeomen signals drew 6d. per day from 14th August as seniority allowance, and that since the granting of pensions, plus pay, for those who have become eligible for pension the 6d. has been withdrawn and past money claimed as from date of pension, and the repayment required in one lump sum, in some cases equivalent to three-quarters of the annual pension; and, if he does not think the 6d. might well be retained, if he will have the repayment spread over a longer period?

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Senior allowance of 6d. a day is not payable to pensioners. In order, therefore, to obviate disparity of treatment as between pensioners called out at the commencement of hostilities (who have not received the allowance) and the men to whom pensions have recently been granted, it has been necessary to recover from the Latter the amount of senior allowance credited from the pension date onwards. Further, the retention of this allowance by these men would not only cause the above-mentioned disparity, but would also prevent the number of active service ratings eligible for the allowance from receiving the same, since only a certain number can draw the allowance.

As regards recovery, in this and all cases, it is certainly not our policy so to recover as to inflict hardship. The policy of spreading recovery over a period of time is the policy which generally governs our action in these matters, and certainly consideration will be given to any case in which it can be shown that hardship has been entailed by the method of recovery.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases the amount is at least three-quarters of the annual pension?

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I saw it in my hon. and gallant Friend's question, and I have asked for a list which will show in detail the pension receivable and the amount of the lump sum recovered so that I may examine it.

Treaties With Enemy Powers

4.

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can see his way to publish the text of the treaty recently concluded between Germany and Finland, and also the text of the treaties concluded between the Central Powers on the one hand and Roumania, the Ukraine, and Russia, at Brest-Litovsk, on the other, together with the appropriate maps in each case?

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Yes, Sir. Translations of the various treaties are in active preparation and will be published as soon as possible. They are very voluminous.

Russia

North Russian Expeditionary Force

5.

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what countries are represented in the Expeditionary Force which is to operate in Siberia?

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I am not at present in a position to make any statement on this subject.

9.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he can make a statement concerning military operations on the Murman coast; and who is the officer in command of the Murman Expedition?

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It is not desirable at present to add anything to the announcement which appeared in the Press.

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Will not the right hon. Gentleman make it perfectly clear that he will not answer questions on this subject, and so save them being put down?

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This is the first I have answered on this subject.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the names of these generals appear in the American Press?

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I cannot help that. I cannot add to my answer.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman be careful not to make any statement that he is not going to answer questions on the subject when addressed to him in a proper manner in this House?

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I have not done so.

Peace Proposals

6.

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether suggestions or proposals to enter into negotiations for peace have recently been received from the enemy?

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No enemy Government has approached us.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the report that was circulated lately—and now actually, I think, appearing in the Press—that proposals of this sort were considered in Conference not long ago at Versailles; and can he give that a denial?

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I presume I have given it a denial. No enemy Government has approached us.

General Reserve (Promotion Of Officers)

8.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that instances have occurred in which officers of the General Reserve above the rank of major have been reported on as fit and recommended for promotion by the general officers under whom they were serving overseas, and that they have been refused promotion in spite of the provisions of the Royal Warrant and of the Army Council Instruction under which they are eligible for it; and if, in the interests of the Service and in justice to the officers concerned, he will take steps to rectify this?

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This question is at present under consideration.

Gas Mask Illness

10.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will furnish a complete Return showing the number of officers and men in the Army who have suffered or are suffering from trench gums, a complaint alleged to be due to the combination of a noseclip and mouthpiece, especially the latter, of the small box respirator attached to the gas mask at present in use in the field?

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I regret that the figures asked for are not readily available, and the preparation of such a Return would involve an undue amount of time and labour. A special investigation, of which this subject will form a part, has recently been commenced at the Royal Army Medical College, and it is hoped that this will result in valuable information being obtained upon the prevalence and prevention of this condition.

Chinese Labour Corps

11.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the officers commanding Chinese Labour Corps in France have received instructions to prohibit their men from using maisons tolérées?

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I am making inquiry, and will acquaint my hon. Friend of the result in due course.

Expeditionary Force, France (Leave)

12.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he can furnish a reason why leave to England is granted from France to officers and men on Army corps and divisional staffs, and attached thereto, more frequently than to officers and men in or nearer the line, on whom the strain, discomfort, and peril of war weigh far more heavily; and if any steps can be taken to remedy this state of affairs?

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I regret that I am not in a position to answer my hon. Friend's question. All leave for officers and men of the Expeditionary Force serving in France is regulated by the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, and I have no doubt that he makes the best arrangements which the exigencies of the Service permit.

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Would it not be possible to make some arrangement by which the existing hardship which these men up the line do suffer in comparison with men in easier places could be remedied? There must be some remedy.

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I need hardly tell the House that the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief bears in mind all relevant facts.

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Would not the grievance be met if when a certain number of permits for leave are granted to a division these permits for leave were allocated to officers, non-commissioned officers, and men in proportion to the strength of those rank in that division?

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I would point out that that peculiar fact is before the Field-Marshal now.

15.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War concerning Private J. Finan, No. 61572, Royal Army Medical Corps, British Expeditionary Force, France, a soldier who has served in Egypt and Palestine for two years and since then has served four months in France, and has had no leave for the whole period of two years and four months, whether he will endeavour to arrange for the soldier in question to have a leave at an early date?

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I regret that I cannot take any special action in cases such as the one mentioned, but I know that the claims of all men so situated receive every consideration possible in the situation prevailing on the Western Front.

Egyptian Expeditionary Force

27.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Private E. H. Whitley, No. 59500, Machine Gun Corps, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, who has been on active service seventeen months in Salonika and Palestine, during which time he was with his company in every encounter, only reporting sick once, was told by the officer commanding his company two days before starting on leave to Egypt that his leave had been cancelled solely on account of refusal of inoculation; what disciplinary steps he proposes to take with this officer for not complying with his repeated assurances that men should not be penalised for exercising their legal right in regard to inoculation; whether he is aware that numbers of other officers have similarly defied his authority without being punished; and whether he will state why discipline is not maintained amongst officers who refuse to honour his published assurances by obeying Army Council instructions?

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I am making inquiry into the case of Private Whitley. I have no information which would support the statements made by my hon. Friend in the last two parts of his question, but if he will furnish me with particulars of any specific cases I will certainly have the matter taken up.

Military Service

Dockyard Labour

13.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if a time-expired Royal Engineer of thirteen years' service, now in France and eligible for £20 bounty and wanted by his chief in the dockyard, can forego the bounty and return to the dockyard?

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Without knowing the age and medical category of the man concerned, I regret I cannot say whether he could be released to return to the dockyards, but, speaking generally, the answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's question is in the negative.

Army Nursing Service

14.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the certificate of training presented in evidence of qualification by London Hospital nurses applying for posts in the Army service states that the nurse has had three years' training in the hospital or only two years' training?

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As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend on Thursday last, steps are always taken to ascertain that a nurse has completed the necessary period of training and service in the wards.

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Is there any differentiation in the nurses that come from the London Hospital and from the others?

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No, Sir.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he told us that a three years' certificate of training is necessary for appointment to the Army Nursing Service, and I ask him in the present question, Does the London Hospital certificate of training say two years or three years?

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I cannot add anything to the answer I have given; but I would like to point out that the three years includes two years' training, and one year's service in the wards.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that he told us, in reply to a question on 18th July, that time spent in private nursing is not allowed to count towards the qualifying period of three years? Does he tell us now that two years' training is all that is necessary in the hospital, and that the time spent in private nursing makes up the period?

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Certainly; I am within the recollection of the House. My answer was, "We are satisfied in every case with the nurse who comes from the London Hospital or any other hospital if she has completed the necessary period of training, and service in the ward."

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May I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the previous reply; will he explain the discrepancy in the two replies?

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The right hon. Gentleman has explained.

Prisoners Of War

Censorship Of Letters

17.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a letter of Mrs. Keegan, of Ballyshannon, county Donegal, directed to her son, James Keegan, of the Innis-killing Fusiliers, a prisoner of war in Germany, enclosing to him, in compliance with his request, a Sacred Heart badge and an Agnus Dei, was returned to Mrs. Keegan by the English censor, who, by way of explanation, enclosed a printed notice that letters to prisoners of war must not contain printed matter or any other enclosure, the last four words being underlined by the censor; whether, having regard to the fact that Mrs. Keegan has two other sons in the British Army, both of whom have been wounded, the one crippled for life and the other fighting again in France, there can be some relaxation in her case of the rule, not of the German, but of the English censor, which forbids a parent to send to her son, a prisoner of war, religious emblems affording him consolation in his captivity; and whether the Government have considered the prejudicial effect such a line of conduct is calculated to produce on enlistment?

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I am not aware of this case, but the facts are no doubt as stated, and I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that there are very sound reasons for imposing such a rule. If in this instance the badge and Agnus Dei are sent by Mrs. Keegan direct to the chief postal censor they will be forwarded by way of exception.

Prisoners Captured By British (Western Front)

18.

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asked what is the total number of prisoners captured by the British Armies since 21st March on the Western Front?

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Since the 21st March last, the number of prisoners captured by the British on the Western Front is about 14,500. It is not possible to give the exact number as the returns of those taken during the past few days have not yet been received.

General Election

Soldier Candidates

19.

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asked whether, in view of an election, officers and soldiers who have been adopted as prospective candidates will be granted immediate leave directly it is decided that an election shall take place?

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I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply on the 21st March last to a question put by my Noble and gallant Friend the Member for Horsham of which I am sending him a copy.

Electors (United Kingdom)

79.

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asked the President of the Local Government Board if he will state the total number of persons registered as electors in the United Kingdom up to 25th July, 1918; how many of these are females; and what steps have been taken to ensure that sailors afloat and soldiers serving in distant parts shall have the opportunity to vote at the next General Election?

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The information asked for by my hon. and learned Friend is not yet available. A Return will be prepared when the registers are complete. As to the latter part of the question, Orders in Council have been issued prescribing proxy areas and Regulations as to the mode of appointment of proxies. Forms have been prepared and forwarded to the ships and to distant fronts and stations for distribution to the voters to enable them to appoint proxies.

Etaples Hospital (Bombing By Germans)

20.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the German Government are now justifying the bombing of the Etaples Hospital on the night of 19th–20th May by the allegation that the Red Cross was not shown; and will he inquire into and expose this statement?

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I am aware that the German Government are justifying the bombing of Etaples Hospital on the night of the 19th/20th May, by the allegation that the Red Cross was not shown, and I have seen in a German newspaper photographs published by them with the intention of proving that the Red Cross sign did not exist on the 21st May, but did exist in large numbers on the 27th. German photographs of this nature, as we have reason to know, are never conclusive. In any case the hospitals were bombed on the night of 31st May—1st June in spite of the Red Cross signs, which German evidence shows to have been in existence on 27th May.

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The right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that the Red Cross sign was shown on the 19th?

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Am I personally satisfied? Yes.

Ayrton Fan

21.

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asked what is now the position in relation to the Ayrton fan; and whether Mr. Greenslade's services are being employed to supervise the training with this device?

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The Ayrton fan is a service issue, and is applied to the uses for which it is adapted. The answer to the second part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question is in the negative.

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Is training in the use of the fan by instructors who do not know how to use them still going on, and Professor Greenslade not being employed to put things right?

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Well, I am not quite sure that I can answer that question exactly at the present moment; but I know he has been round the country.

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Has the right hon. Gentleman read the report of Professor Greenslade?

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I have not personally read it, but we have it.

Naval And Military Pensions And Allowances

22.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the practice of the War Office is to stop separation allowances for wives and children in the cases of soldiers who, being unfit for further active service, are sent to work on the land; and whether separation allowances will be continued in cases in which the wages given to the soldier on the land are less than the combined amount formerly received of pay, value of rations, and separation allowances?

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Separation allowance is only stopped when the soldier is living at home.

28.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether, considering that the London allowance was designed to enable those who lived in London to meet the extra cost of living involved by residence there, and that such allowance is withdrawn on removal from the London area, the allowance is claimable by the wives of soldiers who find it necessary to remove from the country to London and thereby have to bear these extra costs; if not, whether he will explain why this allowance should be refused; and whether he will take steps to have such alterations made in order that all dependants living in the London area should receive similar treatment?

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I am afraid that I can find no ground for altering the present practice, which has been in force all through the War.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is fair or equitable that there should be two rates in the London area?

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As I have already, I think, informed my hon. and gallant Friend, the separation allowance in London is a continuation of the old allowance given to soldiers whose permanent homes were in London before the War; it was given mainly because rents in London were higher than elsewhere. There has been no general increase.

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Since it is admittedly owing to the increase of the rents in the London area, and that those who remove from London to the country lose—and rightly lose—the allowance, should not the tight hon. Gentleman consider the question as to whether or not those who find it necessary to remove from the country to London should receive the 3s. 6d.?

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No; I think not. It is the case where a man has a permanent home here. But I do not think it is desirable to encourage a general incursion into London. Any case of hardship, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, can be met by application to the local war pensions committee.

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Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise the injustice, say, in the case of two women living side by side, the one a Londoner in receipt of the 3s. 6d. and the other, having had to remove from the country, being deprived of the 3s. 6d.—is not that financial inequality?

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Well, there is inequality—

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Why should they come from the country?

31.

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asked whether the proposed increases in the scale of separation allowances will apply in the case of soldiers drawing family allowance whose families are accommodated in public quarters and in the case of soldiers drawing family allowance whose families are not so accommodated?

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The answer on both points is in the affirmative.

33.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if his attention has been called to the case of William Scott, son of Alexander Scott, of 25, Church Street, Johnstone, who voluntarily enlisted in 1915 when he was an apprentice fitter and his wages were 8s. per week, but after nine months' training was sent back to his trade, finished his time, and worked as a journeyman for twelve months at £4 a week wages, and was afterwards called up and transferred to a Highland regiment to act as fitter in a battery of the Royal Field Artillery; if he is aware that this soldier allots his mother 6d. a day; and if, having regard to the circumstances mentioned, the dependent mother is entitled to the full separation allowance?

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Inquiry will be made, and I will inform the hon. Member of the result in due course.

Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport)

23.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the promised reconsideration of the proposal to reduce the pay and allowances of storekeepers who enlisted voluntarily in the Mechanical Transport Service of the Army Service Corps in France has been effected or whether a mistake in regard to instructions has been made at the 3rd Echelon base in France; and whether the pay of 6s. per day, which was agreed upon enlistment, will in future be made to these men and arrears rectified as regards any deductions that have already been made?

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The matter is still under consideration.

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Does not the right hon. Gentleman remember that this question was raised about a couple of months ago, and does he not consider that an alleged breach of faith justifies a more rapid decision in the matter?

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The decision does not rest solely with the War Office.

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Will my right hon. Friend state the cause of the delay?

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I think my hon. Friend will know perfectly well that in these matters, involving finance, the Department is not free to act as they would wish to do.

Active Service Decorations (Dominion Troops)

25.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he can now state the decision as to the issue of a decoration for the Australian and New Zealand troops who served in Gallipoli; and whether any similar decoration will be granted to other Dominion troops?

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The issue of a decoration to Australian, New Zealand, and Newfoundland troops has been approved by His Majesty. It will be issued by the War Office, but the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundland will determine to whom it should be granted. This decoration will not be issued to Imperial troops, as it is designed to meet the desire of the Commonwealth, New Zealand, and Newfoundland Governments to mark the entry of their troops for the first time into a European war. If any other Dominion Government should desire a similar recognition for its troops, the question will, no doubt, be settled on similar lines.

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Are we to understand from that reply that Colonial troops will have two decorations and the Imperial troops only one for the same operation?

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No, Sir; I do not think so.

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Has any other Dominion Government applied for similar recognition?

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I think that is a question that ought to be put to my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. I said in my answer that a Dominion Government has the power in its own hands to give or not to give such a decoration.

Army Pay Office, Dublin

29.

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asked why, when ex-Service men apply for employment to the Control Section, Army Pay Office, Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin, they are informed that they cannot be engaged under any circumstances as civilians?

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There appears to be some misunderstanding locally. The only reason why ex-Service men cannot at present be engaged as civilian clerks in the office of the Regimental Pay Office. Dublin, is that there are no vacancies; but when there are, preference will be given to suitable discharged Service men.

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Am I to understand that these ex-Service men cannot be engaged in the Regimental Pay Office, Dublin, under any circumstances as civilians?

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As far as my information goes that is not the answer which was given. I am told that the answer was that extra civilian clerks could not be taken on without reference to the War Office, and they could not be taken on because the establishment was full.

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May I send the right hon. Gentleman a copy of the official answer sent by the officer?

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Food Supplies

Harvest Work (Convalescent Soldiers)

30.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he is aware that a convalescent soldier from a hospital if sent out for harvest work receives 2d. per hour out of the 6d. the farmer pays for his services; and whether, in order to secure a fair remuneration for the man and induce men to volunteer for the work, he will arrange that a less-sweated rate of pay is offered the convalescent soldier?

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The 2d. is drawn in addition to full pay and allowance, and has been fixed after careful consideration of the rates of wages drawn by other soldiers and by civilians engaged on the harvest.

Feeding-Stumps

39.

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asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he has received complaints of the manner in which feeding-stuffs are controlled and distributed by the Food Controller; and has he requested the control of feeding-stuffs by his Department and through the agricultural committees throughout the country?

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The Board of Agriculture have received numerous complaints respecting the control of feeding-stuffs. The substance of these complaints has been transmitted to the Ministry of Food, with whom the Board has for some time discussed the scheme of distribution to be adopted in the light of the supplies and requirements which may now be anticipated. The Board is not a United Kingdom authority, and has no powers to control manufacturers. The reply to, the second part of the question is therefore in the negative.

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Is it not a fact that the distribution of foodstuffs is so unsatisfactory because the Department of the Food Controller has no machinery in the country through which they can operate in regard to the distribution of foodstuffs?

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I am afraid that is so.

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Can it not be remedied? We want to get on with the War and get food for the people, and cannot something be done?

Harvesters' Beverages

70.

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asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the desirability of providing non-alcoholic drinks for harvesters in the coming harvest, and, in view of the relative failure of the fruit crop and of the consequent liberation of sugar which would otherwise have been used for making jam, he can see his way to allocate more sugar for the manufacture of non-alcoholic drinks during the period of harvest?

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The need for conserving the sugar stocks is so great that I am unable to authorise special issues of sugar for the purpose indicated.

75.

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the fact that in the case of the licensed house known as the "Chequers," in the village of Goldhanger, Essex, far in the country and in the midst of agriculture, the shortage of harvest beer has been the cause of complaints by the men and by the rector on their behalf; whether, in these circumstances, he can arrange for larger supplies of beer to be available than one and a-half barrels per week for sixty harvest men, such increased allowances being made immediately available in view of the short rations and laborious work of the men and the approach of heavy harvest labour; and whether the brewing of luxury beer will in future be restricted so as to increase the supply of harvest beer without increase in the consumption of grain?

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The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Additional supplies of beer for harvest purposes have been and are being allocated to each agricultural district. The brewing of luxury beer has already been extensively reduced in order to provide more of the lighter qualities for the industrial classes, and it is impossible to increase the supply of harvest beer without increasing the consumption of grain.

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Does my right hon. Friend suggest to the House that, in view of the heavy harvest, the supply of a barrel and a half per week for sixty harvest men is sufficient; and will he not take some definite steps to improve the condition of these men in this regard during harvest time?

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I will not dogmatise in my answer as to what is precisely a sufficient quantity in any given area, but my answer must be taken as implying that larger quantities are being distributed in the agricultural areas this year than last year.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman give attention to this specific allocation in this special district and deal with the matter accordingly?

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I shall be glad to take into account the conditions of any special district.

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Will that special allocation apply to harvesting in Ireland as well as in England? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is part of the Empire, anyhow?

Linseed Oil

71 and 72.

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asked the Minister of Food (1) whether it is with the knowledge and sanction of the Government that the United Kingdom Linseed Oil Consumers' Association, which has been entrusted with the function of distributing linseed oil to manufacturers in this country, refuses to make an allotment of more than 5 cwts. per month to anyone who is not a member of the association, to which admission is possible only by election and by payment of a fee of two guineas periodically; whether he will publish the names of the firms or individuals who are members of this association, and who are the individuals who determine the allotment of oils to manufacturers applying for a share of the available supply; (2) if the officials who determine the supply of linseed oil to manufacturers are connected with firms interested in the production and disposal of such oil; and has he received any complaints of the partial manner in which linseed oil is distributed?

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The United Kingdom Linseed Oil Consumers' Association was formed at the suggestion of my Department for the purpose of allocating linseed oil to the various trades by which supplies are required. Allotments in excess of 5 cwts. monthly are only made to members of the association, but any trader is eligible for membership at an annual subscription of two guineas. The membership exceeds 400, and I will forward a list of members to the hon. Baronet, if he so desires. The members of the committee which determines the allocation of linseed oil are elected by the association, and are necessarily representative of firms interested in the trades eligible for membership. No substantial complaints have been received of any partiality in the distribution of available supplies.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman please send me the list?

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Certainly.

Golden Syrup

73.

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asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the difficulty, since the price has been controlled, for retailers to obtain a supply of golden syrup; whether there are fair stocks of this article; and, if so, whether he will arrange, in consideration of the supply of jam being restricted, that a greater quantity of golden syrup shall be made available?

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I am aware that retailers find difficulty in obtaining as large supplies of golden syrup as they would be glad to have, but this is due not to the fact that it is controlled but to the abnormal demand for syrup consequent upon the restricted supplies of sugar and jam. The only effect of control was to reduce the extravagant prices which this abnormal demand had produced. Stocks of syrup are negligible. Every effort is being made to improve the supply, which is dependent upon the amount of tonnage available.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the advisability of rationing syrup, as it is a very good substitute for sugar?

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In connection with our consideration of the system of rationing jam that has been taken into account.

Meat

74.

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that London butchers are still having allotted to them old cow meat which, in pre-war days, would have been condemned as unfit for human consumption, and that in many cases London butchers are having delivered to them meat of inferior quality which is practically nothing but skin and bone; will he say on what grounds such meat is imported, seeing that there is no nutriment in it; and whether, considering the price that is demanded by the butchers in consequence of the cost of them, he will preclude altogether the importation into this country of such inferior meat?

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As the hon. and gallant Member was informed on Monday, the answer to this question was printed in last Thursday's OFFICIAL REPORT.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I withdrew the question owing to it being so late on the list, and, in the circumstances, will he be good enough to give the reply in the House?

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I think the answer was not given in the House because the question was not reached.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great importance London butchers attach to this question, and will he give instructions, or has he cabled instructions abroad that his buyers are not to purchase any more of this emaciated cow-beef that is being distributed so largely in London?

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If the hon. and gallant Member will look at the terms of the reply, as it has been printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and will cast his mind back to the information given to him together with a deputation which came to the House two or three days ago, he will have all the information as to our efforts to improve the quality.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to that one question, whether he will do so or has done so?

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Certainly.

Milk Grading

78.

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asked the President of the Local Government Board, with reference to the grading of milk, if he will state by whom certificates are to be granted that a herd is free from tuberculosis and what is to be the test; and whether he is aware that the milk of at least 85 per cent. of the cows which have been tested and react to the tuberculin test is free from tubercle and that previous injection of tuberculin within six weeks of a test will render the ensuing test worthless?

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Certificates as to freedom from tuberculosis, as determined by the tuberculin test after the 1st August, will have to be signed by a veterinary surgeon. The figures given by my hon. Friend are, as I am informed, approximately correct.

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What steps are going to be taken to prevent tuberculin from being in the possession of, and used by, people other than qualified veterinary surgeons?

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That is a question of which the hon. Member had better give me notice.

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That is raised in the question which points out that if an injection of tuberculin has taken place the test is quite valueless.

Territorial Force (Allowances)

32.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if his attention has been called to complaints made by members of the Territorial Force who, their period of enlistment being completed, are, in accordance with the usual practice, entitled to £15 allowance, the ground of their complaint being that they are only paid £5, the remaining £10 being put into the War Loan, and that no scrip or receipt of any kind is given to them; and if he will say whether the procedure complained of is in accordance with Army Regulations?

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There would appear to be a good deal of misapprehension regarding this bounty. It is payable one-third on completion of the term, and two-thirds with interest on discharge, but no investment of the money is made and consequently there is no question of scrip.

Kelvedon Fire

34.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he can now state the reason for the delay in reimbursing the Kelvedon Parish Council for the compulsory use on the 29th March, 1917, of their fire engine; whether he is aware that expenditure amounting to £4 17s. was incurred by the parish council in making an unnecessary attendance in obedience to superior military orders; and whether the expenditure will now be refunded by the War Office?

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I am afraid my inquiries are not yet complete. I will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Hat

35.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether his arrangements for requisitioning the 1918 crop of hay are now completed; what are his intentions and instructions to district purchase officers in this respect; and, in view of the recent wet weather, what provision will be made to enable dairy farmers and stockowners to feed their stock during the coming winter?

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It is hoped to publish the Army Council Order in the "London Gazette" on Friday next.

36.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether grass is in the Ormskirk district under his instruction being baled and stacked in bales green; and whether this process turns out satisfactory hay, or is much of it found to go mouldy in the centre of the bales?

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No, Sir. The local officers are discouraging such procedure in every way possible.

Land Drainage Bill

37.

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asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, under the Land Drainage Bill now before Parliament, the Board of Agriculture has power to provide for differential rating of an area within the limits of a Commission of Sewers already in existence, and for the total or partial exemption from such rating of buildings within such an area, as a substantive order, where it is not proposed to make any other alteration of the powers of the Commission or of the area of its jurisdiction?

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The Land Drainage Bill has now become an Act of Parliament. The point referred to cannot be answered in general terms, but the Board will be ready to give careful consideration to any petition on such matters which may be laid before them.

Cows (Tuberculin Test)

38.

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asked whether the Board has any information as to the percentage of the cows in the dairy herds of Great Britain that do not react to the tuberculin test; and whether it is more important that the animal should not react to the test or that her milk should be free from tubercle?

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The Board have no information as to the number of cows in dairy herds which react to the tuberculin test. It seems more important that milk should be free from tubercle bacilli than that the cows producing it should not react to the tuberculin test, though I am advised that the best way of securing tubercle free milk is to keep a herd of non-reacters.

Land Cultivation (Tractors)

40.

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asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will give the number of Fordson tractors with Oliver plough attached now at the disposal of the Food Production Department and also state the type of the 1,700 heavier tractors now available and of the further 200 to be provided?

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Three thousand seven hundred and eighty Fordson tractors with Oliver ploughs are at the disposal of the Department, but not all of these are proposed to be used for the Department's own tractor scheme. The 1,700 heavier tractors are of the following types:—Titan, 25 h.p. Mogul, Saunderson, Overtime, 35 h.p. Clayton. The further 200 tractors will be 35 h.p. Clayton.

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Would it not be practical, seeing that there is so much land to plough up a little later, to make a considerable addition to the heavier type of tractors because the Fordson tractor is quite unsuitable to plough any land except light land, and that is really quite unsuitable to spring work?

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I think the Food Production Department are of opinion that the 200 heavier tractors now on order will be sufficient for the purpose.

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Are the war agricultural committees not making representations on the subject?

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I do not think that any war agricultural committees are asking for more heavier tractors than we have provided.

District Wages Committee (Sussex)

41.

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asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that one of the appointed members of the Sussex District Wages Committee is an employer of agricultural labour and is therefore an interested party in deciding the wages and working conditions; and whether he will take steps to end this appointment and appoint some other person likely to be entirely impartial?

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The appointed members on the Sussex District Wages Committee are Colonel A. Sutherland Harris, High Sheriff of Sussex and Chairman of the Education Committee of the East Sussex County Council; Mr. W. P. G. Boxall, K.C., Recorder of Brighton; Mr. T. Pargeter, railway signalman and president of Newhaven Trades Council; Mr. C. C. Lacaita, J.P.; and the Hon. Lady Maxse. It does not appear to me that the personal interest of any of these persons in agricultural wages is sufficient to throw doubt on their impartiality.

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asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he will cause inquiry to be made as to whether some, if not many, of the appointed members of district wages committees are employers of agricultural labour, and therefore neither disinterested nor impartial persons, as is expected of those who come within the administration of these wages committees, as laid down in the regulations of the Corn Production Act; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

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The definition of agricultural employment in the Corn Production Act is wide, and it is probable that some of the appointed members employ men who come within it. Farmers dependent for their livelihood on the occupation of land have been excluded, but the difficulty of securing the services of persons familiar with rural conditions would be insuperable if the fact that they employed men who are subject to the provisions of the Act were held to debar them from exercising an impartial judgment. The reply to the last part of the question is therefore in the negative.

Iron And Steel Trades

43.

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he proposes to set up the committee to consider the exceptional difficulties experienced by the people of North Staffordshire under the monopoly of the North Staffordshire Railway Company, as recommended by the Report of the Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade to consider the position of the iron and steel trades?

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I am in communication with the parties interested in this matter and am considering whether any steps can be usefully taken in the direction indicated by the hon. and gallant Member. When a decision has been come to I will communicate with him further.

Foreign Dyes

44.

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asked whether the agreements into which he proposes to enter with manufacturers of dyes will include any provision relating to the exclusion of foreign dyes from this country; and, if so, what will be the general terms of such provision?

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There is no intention that the agreements which will be entered into with manufacturers of dyes shall include any provision relating to the exclusion of foreign dyes from this country.

Aliens

Titles Deprivation Act

45.

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asked the Prime Minister whether any, and, if so, what, steps have been taken under the provisions of the Titles Deprivation Act, 1917, which received the Royal Assent on 8th November, 1917, for the striking out of the Peerage Roll peers who have, during the present War, borne arms against His Majesty or who have adhered to His Majesty's enemies; and, if no steps for this purpose, as provided by Statute, have been taken, will he say what is the reason for the delay, having regard to the construction likely to be placed on the attitude of the Government in this matter?

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The Committee of Council appointed to deal with this matter will meet to-morrow. I am informed that no greater delay than was necessary has occurred in the presentation of the material for their Report.

46.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that an announcement, dated 24th May, appeared in the "London Gazette" that the King, as Sovereign of the Order of the Bath, had been pleased to command and declare that a person therein named, a Commander of the said Order, should from that date be removed from said Order, he being unworthy any longer to remain a member thereof; on what grounds, having regard to the undertaking given on 20th June, 1917, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the Prime Minister that orders had been given that henceforward all alien enemies shall cease to be members of any British Order of Chivalry to which they belonged before the War, there has been no public announcement of removal of enemy aliens from these Orders; have any enemy aliens been removed in consonance with that undertaking, and, if so, how many and what is the number of alien enemies removed from each order of knighthood, respectively, and the dates of such removals; and, if such removals have taken place, on what ground is the expulsion of an unworthy member who is unconnected with Royal families made a subject of notoriety while the expulsion of enemy princes is effected in secrecy?

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The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and, as regards the second part, the reply which I gave to the hon. and learned Member on 20th June last year was a public announcement. The information asked for in the last part of the question will take some time to collate, but as soon as the list is compiled it will be published. As regards the last part of the question, the officer referred to was a British subject, a full as distinct from an honorary member of the Order of the Bath and within the jurisdiction. The Sovereign was, therefore, able to remove him in the usual way.

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Why is not some public notification given of the names of the persons in the same way as in the case of British subjects? Why are German names sheltered at the expense of British subjects?

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Apparently the hon. Member did not hear my answer. I am told that it is difficult to find out who they all arc, but as soon as the names are known they will be published.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the part of the question which asks if any enemy aliens have already been removed?

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The hon. Member has evidently not followed this controversy like the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. MacNeill). The public announcement is that they are automatically removed.

Review Of Naturalisation Certificates (Committee)

49.

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asked the Prime Minister if the Committee recently appointed to review certificates of naturalisation is a purely Advisory Committee, or does he intend to give it executive power?

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My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. This Committee has not yet been appointed, but will be appointed as soon as the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Bill becomes law. Its functions are defined by the Bill.

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Will they be advisory only or will they have any executive power?

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My hon. Friend can judge of that as well as I can from the Bill. To some extent they will simply inquire and report, but to a great extent their report will be binding.

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Have the Government taken into consideration the suggestion of Lord Beresford that Mr. Justice Sankey's Committee should be wiped out of existence as unworthy of confidence?

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No, there is no question of the kind.

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Lord Beresford proposed it last night at the Albert Hall.

Prohibited Areas

50.

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asked the Prime Minister if he will call for a Report from the Naval Intelligence Department on the state of prohibited areas and the reason why so many persons of enemy origin still reside therein?

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I am informed that the competent naval and military authority has complete power under the Defence of the Realm Regulations to deal with any person residing in a prohibited area and that this power is fully used by him.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman call for a confidential report for his own guidance, in order that he may understand why these authorities are unable properly to exercise the powers which they wish to exercise and may remedy the defect?

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Why does the hon. Member say that they are unable to exercise them? I know, although I was not present, that, as a matter of fact, the Prime Minister discussed this question some time ago with the naval and military authorities, and I have every reason to believe that both he and they were satisfied with the powers.

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If I may, I will send to the right hon. Gentleman copies of confidential papers which will prove that there are people residing in prohibited areas whom the naval authorities would like to remove, and that so far they have not been able to do so.

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I shall be very glad to receive them, but I am rather sceptical.

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Is it not a fact that the naval and military authorities can only make recommendations to the Home Office, and that it is for the Home Office to accept or reject their recommendations?

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I do not know what the technical powers may be, but I know that both the naval and military authorities always exercise the authority.

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They can only make recommendations; they have no authority.

Internment

53.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Committee recently set up to investigate the non-internment of enemy subjects contains no member acquainted with the East End of London, although there are more enemy subjects and aliens in that part of the Metropolis than in any other part of the United Kingdom; and will he add to the Committee a member with experience of the East End?

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My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I believe that the facts are as stated in the question, but I do not think it necessary to add to the Committee a member with experience of the East End of London. The Committee deals with alien enemies only and not with other aliens.

S Oppenheimer And Company, Limited

67.

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make inquiries about S. Oppenheimer and Company, 47, St. John Street. Smith-field, a firm of alien enemy origin who largely control the ring of firms that were employed in the exporting to Germany from this country of goldbeaters' skins; can he ascertain if about the year 1901 Mr. Louis Oppenheimer, who has left this country, was discovered by the Inland Revenue authorities to have defrauded the Inland Revenue of a large sum by falsification of Income Tax returns over a series of years; is it intended to wind up this firm; and will Mr. Louis Oppenheimer be allowed to return to this country at the conclusion of hostilities?

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Inquiry into the business of S. Oppenheimer and Company, Limited, showed that nearly all the shares were held by persons of enemy origin who are citizens of the United States. Mr. Louis Oppenheimer, the previous manager of the business in London, became a naturalised citizen of the United States more than thirty years ago. There is no ground on which the business can be wound up by the Board of Trade, and they have no information as to Mr. Oppenheimer's Income Tax returns.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries of the Inland Revenue authorities to find out the enormous sums this man did default for?

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I do not know that any good purpose would be served by my making that sort of inquiry.

Town Leaseholders

47.

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asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the cases of town leaseholders, both shopkeepers and householders, whose leases have come or are coming to an end during the war years, in which the freeholders are claiming the full measure of repairs from the leaseholders, and that in many cases, owing to the shortage of labour and material, it is impossible to carry out these repairs; and whether, under these special circumstances caused by the War, the Government will consider the advisability of taking some action to afford these leaseholders relief either by extending the period of the existing leases or holding over all repairs until a reasonable time after the conclusion of peace?

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The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Law Officers advise that legislation would be required and this could not be introduced before the Recess. I shall, however, carefully consider the possibility of bringing in a Bill to deal with the hardship referred to after the House reassembles.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to include Ireland in this measure?

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I shall require notice of that question.

Temporary Civil Servants (Ex-Officers And Men)

48.

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asked the Prime Minister whether anxiety exists among the ex-officers and men who are holding temporary positions as Civil servants in the various Government Departments as to their status upon demobilisation; and whether, in view of their general feeling of insecurity, he can offer an assurance that the claims of these ex-officers and men to subsequent permanent Government employment will be considered before those of other temporary Civil servants?

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The whole question of recruitment for the Service after the War is now being examined, and my hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that the claims of those who have rendered service with the forces will receive the most sympathetic consideration.

Australia (Prime Minister's Speeches)

52.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia is the guest of His Majesty's Government?

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The answer is in the affirmative.

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May I ask whether it is consonant with the position of a guest of His Majesty's Government to make offensive speeches relative to political matters?

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The hon. Member must give notice of that question.

War Anniversary (Prime Minister's Message)

56.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will address, in the words of the announcement, an important message to the British people which is to be dispatched in a sealed envelope to the proprietor of every theatre, music hall, concert hall, and picture hall in the country, the idea being that at nine o'clock in the evening of 5th August the seal of the envelope be broken publicly on the stage and the message read to the assembled audience; why should the audiences in theatres and music halls have a precedence in being informed of this message, having regard to the fact that tens of thousands of people plunged in sorrow at the death in this War of near and beloved relatives have no inclination to frequent places of public amusement, and why should the contents of the message be in the possession of theatre and music hall audiences for hours before it will become known to the public in the morning newspapers; in music halls, where there are two performances nightly, will care be taken that the message be read, for the encouragement of early hours, to the audiences of the early as well as at the late performances; whether there is any and, if so, what precedent for this novel method of publishing an important announcement; and whether he will consider the propriety of describing this unique communication by some other term than message, that word being usually used in public documents for communications signed by a Secretary of State from the Sovereign to his people, for communications from one House of Parliament to the other, and for official communications from the President of the United States to Congress?

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I have been asked to reply to this question, as Chairman of the War Aims Committee. I must apologise for the length of the reply, though it is no longer than the question to which it refers. The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The scheme was specially designed to reach those who normally frequent places of entertainment, and not to draw audiences. In response to many urgent requests, it has been arranged to communicate the message also to the chairman of all fêtes, sports, and other public gatherings, organised for public and patriotic purposes, which have an evening programme. The message will be conveyed to the Press at the same time, and an opportunity will be thereby afforded for its notice and comments on the following day. The message will be read at all evening entertainments. With regard to the latter part of the question, it is admitted that the method is novel, and it is hoped that a corresponding advantage will thereby be obtained. As regards the use of the English word "message," while realising that that expression is in use in the manner described in the question, the Committee could find no statutory or Parliamentary embargo on its adoption in this case, and were of opinion that its simplicity of meaning commended its use.

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Is there any intention of the Prime Minister appearing at any of these music halls, either at the first or second performance?

Pottery Works, North Staffordshire (Coal Supply)

57.

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asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the closing down of pottery works in North Staffordshire owing to lack of coal due to the combing out of miners for the Army; and will he take steps to secure an adequate labour force for the maintenance of this staple British industry in view of the fact that America has 20,000,000 men of military age anxious to make the world safe for democracy?

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The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. The shortage of coal in the potteries in Staffordshire at the present time is not only due to the comb out of miners, but to the unfortunate influenza epidemic which has raged during the last month; and while it is hoped that an improvement in the output will now take place, it will still be necessary to ration the pottery industry, and the Controller of Coal Mines has agreed with the National Council of the pottery industry that this body should undertake the rationing on his behalf within the limits of the amount of coal which it is possible to allot to the industry. Every effort will be made to avoid unduly interfering with the industry.

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Will my right hon. Friend see, in allotting a certain amount of coal to the Staffordshire industry, that they are given priority in the pits in the district?

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No; I could not undertake to give any such promise. We have to have regard to the needs of the country as a whole. We could not allot output of any particular mines to the area in which the mines are situated.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that it is important that we should get the coal and not be given a certain ration which it is impossible to supply to us?

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I think it may be accepted that if the Coal Controller does give a particular ration for this industry, he will take steps to see that the coal is provided.

Income Tax (Allowance In Lieu Of Rations)

58.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now make any statement as to the exemption from assessment to Income Tax of naval and military allowances in lieu of rations?

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I have looked carefully into this matter and have come to the conclusion that the practice for the Navy and the Air Force may be assimilated to that which at present obtains for the Army. Broadly, the effect will be that where members of the naval, military or air forces receive pecuniary allowances in lieu of fuel and light, and rations to which they are entitled in kind, Income Tax will not be charged upon such pecuniary allowances. Lodging allowances will similarly be relieved except in the case of officers holding appointments for a fixed or practically fixed term.

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Will it be necessary to have a Bill or can it be done by administrative means?

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I have looked into it. It is doubtful whether legislation is needed. In the meantime we will do it, and, if necessary, it will be included in next year's Finance Bill?

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May we assume from the right hon. Gentle-man's reply that the Income Tax is not due on these allowances for the current Income Tax year?

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Yes; that is my intention.

Liverpool Post Office

59.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been drawn to a petition from the retired postal and telegraph officials, formerly of the Liverpool Post Office; and, if so, can he see his way to take their representation into favourable consideration?

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The answer to the first parts of the question is in the affirmative. I am afraid that I can add nothing to the answers given on several occasions to questions relating to proposals for increase of superannuation allowances to members of the Civil Service.

Old Age Pensions

60.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if pensioners who are not receiving more than £26 pension and are eligible for an old age pension are allowed to earn a further sum not exceeding 30s. per week and still receive an old age pension; and if he can see his way to grant an old age pension to all pensioners of seventy-five or eighty years of age who are unable to work in receipt of a pension not exceeding £52 per annum?

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The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative. Under the Old Age Pension Acts the legal limit for a pension is an income of £31 10s. from all sources as estimated under those Acts, and nobody in receipt of an income above that figure is entitled to a pension.

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Can my hon. Friend explain why the Treasury allow people in receipt of an old age pension to earn this further wage up to 30s. and refuse to give to people who may be in receipt of Army allowances the old age pension to which otherwise they would be entitled?

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I have answered that question very often. In the case of men already in receipt of a pension it is possible, by straining the law, to let that allowance be given, but in the case of the payment of an old age pension it is impossible to give that consideration without breaking the law, and fresh legislation would be necessary.

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Would it not be possible to introduce a small non-contentious measure to remedy this matter—there would be no dispute about it at all?

Civil Service (Joint Standing Councils)

61.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the recommendations contained in paragraph 25 of the Fourth Report of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, 1914 [Cd. 7338], in reference to the right of Civil servants to join trade unions and associations, the recognition of such associations, and their affiliation to a political party; whether any action has been taken in regard to these recommendations; and whether they will be considered by the Interdepartmental Committee which is about to consider the applicability of the principle of establishing joint standing councils to the case of the Civil Service?

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The Interdepartmental Committee will no doubt consider the recommendations referred to so far as they are strictly relevant to the inquiry.

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Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the questions raised in the Report of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service lie at the root of the problem of applying the principle of standing joint councils?

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Yes; I do realise it, but, as my hon. Friend knows, this is a Committee composed entirely of Ministers, and they will naturally deal with the whole subject so far as it is necessary to do so.

Railway Packing Regulations

64.

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that, notwithstanding the appeals to traders to dispense as far as possible with the use of timber for cases and containers for goods, complaints have been made to his Department that the railway companies are charging double rates on goods sent in packages instead of in cases as formerly, and, in addition, insisting on such traffic being consigned at owner's risk conditions; and whether, in view of the necessity for reducing the traffic on the railways by avoiding the return of empty cases and of the shortage of timber, he will make representations to the railway companies on the desirability of relaxing their requirements for packing goods in wooden cases, and that such goods if sent at owner's risk should be charged the same rates as when sent in cases?

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The only general alteration made by the railway companies in their packing regulations in recent years is, I think, that made in 1916, when, having regard to the shortage of timber referred to in the question, they agreed to accept traffic consigned in reliable fibre-board packages. I am aware that, in accordance with the provisions of the classification, certain articles consigned unpacked or lightly packed are charged at higher rates than if they had been more substantially packed, but I cannot undertake to ask the railway companies to reduce the charges in such cases or to accept at company's risk articles which, owing to insufficient packing, cannot safely be conveyed by rail.

Patents (British Subjects In Germany)

65.

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any, and, if so, how many, patents have been taken out by British subjects in Germany since the commencement of the War; if not, whether any application has been made to take out such patents; what attitude has been adopted by the German Government in the matter; whether all outstanding enemy patent rights in this country which were alive at the outbreak of hostilities have been voided; and whether, under the licences, if any, which have been issued to Germans since the War, patent fees will have to be paid for the use of patents in this country?

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According to the information available to the Board no patents have been taken out by British subjects in Germany since the commencement of the War, but numerous applications for patents have been made in Germany by British subjects under the licence issued by the Board which has recently been rescinded. There are no official statistics showing the exact number. The German Government followed the practice of the British Government in allowing applications for patent rights to be recorded, but refusing the grant of a patent on such applications. Enemy patent rights existing in this country on the outbreak of war were not voided as a whole, but the Board of Trade took powers to suspend or void any such patents or to grant licences to British subjects thereunder on the application of any person interested. No licences have been issued to Germans under these powers, but in the case of licences issued to British subjects royalties have been fixed in the majority of eases payable to the Public Trustee.

Railway Season Tickets

66.

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware how many places are similarly situated to Romford that, although over 12 miles, only the 10 per cent. increase is charged on the railway season tickets; and can he state the places?

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The arrangement that, where the distance travelled is only just over 12 miles, the 10 per cent. increase should not apply, is not confined to Romford, and is applicable to any other places similarly situated, but I cannot say how many places are so situated.

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Can the right hon. Gentleman give some indication of the distance over 12 miles that is allowed in order to exempt the place from the 20 per cent. and put it under the 10 per cent. increase?

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I do not think there is any arbitrary distance fixed. I think that considerations as to the local circumstances guide the Committee.

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In view of the anomaly that now exists, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of extending the area in which the 10 per cent. applies to the residential portions?

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I really think it would be a great mistake to reopen this question.

Post Office Pensioners (War Bonus)

81.

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asked the Postmaster-General whether, bearing in mind the increased cost of living and the principle accepted by Parliament in augmenting payments to old age pensioners, he can see his way to sanction a war bonus, at any rate, to the lower-pensioned officers of His Majesty's Post Office service?

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As I have previously stated, Post Office pensioners are in the same position as other retired Civil servants, and I am not in a position to take independent action in the matter.

Royal Dockyards (Soldiers)

82.

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asked the Minister of Munitions, if he is aware that many soldiers have been placed in Class W for the purpose of working in shipbuilding yards and such men have asked to be sent to yards near their homes; that there are several such who were formerly in Portsmouth Dockyard, but that their request to be employed near home has been refused; and if he can give any reason for this, and if he will have the men's requests favourably considered?

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I have been asked to answer this question. The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I may inform my hon. and gallant Friend that a considerable number of men nave resumed their employment in Portsmouth and in other dockyards, and naturally men who have left their employment for military service are taken back into their civil employment at the same dockyard if vacancies offer themselves. But it may happen that the need for the services of certain men is considered more pressing elsewhere, and in that case they would not be sent to the dockyard from which they came.

London Hospital Nurses

77.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether nurses trained in the London Hospital have been appointed to any posts under the jurisdiction of the Board?

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Before asking this question, may I ask, on a point of Order, why the following words were deleted from the question: "Whether he is aware that nurses at the London Hospital are taken from their training in the wards and sent out to do private nursing at the end of their second year, receiving 13s. per week, while the hospital draws not less than 29s. per week profit from their earnings; and whether he will see that no nurses are appointed from hospitals that exploit their nurses in this way"—with those words deleted the question is meaningless?

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The words were deleted because they were in the nature of giving, not asking, information to a Department which could not possibly have it, and was not responsible for it.

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The point was whether, if they possessed that information in regard to the London Hospital nurses, would they not refuse to appoint nurses who were exploited in this way and who were taken from their training in the wards at the end of their second year, depriving them of the amount of training which they should get in their third year, but which was denied to them in order that they might earn money for the hospital.

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The Board of Education has no control over the training of nurses at the London or any other hospital.

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Is an hon. Member permitted to make statements in a question, and then repeat them, which are entirely inaccurate?

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I was very anxious to satisfy the hon. Member. He was dissatisfied with the action I took. I was trying to show him the reason for the action I had taken.

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May I ask the question in this form—

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In the form on the Paper.

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My right hon. Friend has no information which would enable him to answer this question.

Hanley (Rates)

80.

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asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the recent rise in rates for the borough of Stoke-on-Trent, making the rates for the constituent borough of Hanley the highest in England; and, in view of the fact that the policy of the Government as regards production and distribution of coal is leading to the closing down of the pottery industry, will he consider the granting of a special subvention in relief of the rates for the borough of Hanley?

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I do not find that my attention has been called to this matter. If any application were to be made for a subvention it would have to be made to the Treasury.

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Will the right hon. Gentle-man, at any rate, point out to the Coal Controller that the rates in this borough have now reached close on 13s. in the £, and if this industry is further closed down it will be impossible to carry on municipal government?

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The hon. Member is as capable of pointing that out to the Coal Controller as I am.

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Does the Coal Controller know the conditions relating to local government which exist in the Potteries district and in the borough of Hanley?

Munitions

London Aeroplane Works (Dismissal)

83.

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asked the Minister of Munitions if he is in a position to state whether full inquiry has been made into the action of an employé at a London aeroplane works who was dismissed by his employers for ceasing work during a busy period of the day for the purpose of holding a meeting, in consequence of which the Government has taken over the factory in question; and what was the result of the inquiry?

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As I stated yesterday in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke, this matter is under consideration with both sides. In the circumstances I should be obliged if my hon. Friend will ask his question in a week's time.

Unemployment (Potteries)

84.

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asked the Minister of Munitions whether his Department can take any steps to meet the unemployment in the Potteries district, consequent on the cutting off of the coal supply, by giving that district the benefit of any new war work?

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Whilst I shall be glad to do anything possible to meet the desire of my hon. and gallant Friend, and will see if any arrangements can be made, I am bound to point out that, in placing munitions contracts, the governing consideration must be reliability and rapidity of supply.

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If any new processes have to come before the Ministry, involving new manufactures, will my hon. Friend remember that this district has been starving and is suffering very severely at present from unemployment?

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Certainly I will consider all the considerations which are proper to be considered.

85.

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asked the Minister of Munitions whether any of the money to be spent in connection with the extraction of oil from coal is being spent in North Staffordshire, in view of the unemployment in the district caused by the cutting off of the coal supplies and of the suitability of the coal?

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The question of dealing with North Staffordshire cannel is under consideration. I would however, point out that the scheme, which is for the utilisation of cannel at gasworks, does not involve the employment of additional labour in the process of car-bonisation, and to that extent it would not be of assistance in relieving unemployment.

Education Authorities (Administrative Staffs)

76.

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asked the President of the Board of Education if it is his intention to include in the proposed Bill to provide for the superannuation of secondary school teachers provisions for the superannuation of the members of the administrative staffs of education authorities, for whom no such provision is otherwise available?

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The answer is in the negative, but my right hon. Friend is in communication with the President of the Local Government Board on the matter.

National Expenditure

Sixth Report of the Select Committee brought up, and read; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 97.]

Seventh Report of the Select Committee (Form of Public Accounts) brought up, and read; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 98.]

Bill Presented

IRISH LAND (PROVISION FOR SAILORS AND SOLDIERS) BILL,—"to facilitate the provision of land in Ireland for men who have served in the Naval, Military, or Air Forces of the Crown in the present War, and for other purposes incidental thereto," presented by Mr. SHORTT; supported by the Attorney-General for Ireland; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 81.]