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Commons Chamber

Volume 110: debated on Thursday 24 October 1918

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 24th October, 1918.

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

Public Records (Ireland)

Copy presented of Fiftieth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland for 1917 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Intermediate Education (Ireland)

Copy presented of Rule prescribing an alternative work in English, Junior Grade, 1919, made under the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Acts [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Shops Act, 1912

Copy presented of Closing Order made under the Act by the Council of the under-mentioned local authority, and confirmed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland:—

  • Urban District of Newtownards

[by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Papers laid upon the Table by the Clerk of the House:—

  • 1. Irish Land Commission (Accounts)—Copy of Accounts of the Irish Land Commission for the year ended 31st March, 1918, and from 22nd August, 1881 to 31st March, 1918, together with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon [by Act]; to be printed. [No. 124];
  • 2. Church Temporalities (Ireland)—Copy of Accounts of the Irish Land Commission in respect of Church Temporalities in Ireland from 1st April, 1917, and from 26th July, 1869 (the date of the Irish Church Act) to 31st March, 1918, together with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 125];
  • 3. County Courts Act, 1888—Copy of Order made by the Lord Chancellor, dated 12th October, 1918, under Section 45 of the County Courts Act, 1888, directing that Albert Howe, Registrar of the County Court of Yorkshire held at Sheffield, shall not practise as a solicitor [by Act].
  • Oral Answers To Questions



    Arrest Of Mr Lockhart


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can state the circumstances under which Mr. Lockhart came to be arrested by the Bolshevik Government; where he was imprisoned, and the length of time he was kept there?

    I must refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Somerset on the 22nd instant.

    Surrender Of Baku (Armenian Force)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to furnish any information as to the friendliness or otherwise of the action of the local Armenian force during the recent evacuation of Baku by the force of General Dunsterville?

    It would appear that a certain amount of misapprehension exists in the public mind as to the action of the local Armenian force in entering into negotiations with the enemy relative to the surrender of Baku. His Majesty's Government have now been informed that these negotiations were undertaken by the Armenians on the advice of General Dunsterville when he saw that the fall of the town was imminent, and therefore no blame attaches to the action of the Armenians in this respect.

    How did the report which was sent out in this country come to be sent out on that occasion, blaming the Armenians in this matter?

    I am afraid that I could not answer that without notice. I am very glad to have this opportunity of making the matter absolutely clear.

    Is it not a fact that the Armenians rendered gallant service in aid of the Allied cause during the Turkish campaign?

    I should not care to say offhand, but I believe that to be true. Certainly the Allied cause owes a, considerable debt to the action of the Armenians.

    Can the Noble Lord give us any information as to the safety of the Baku force?

    Allied Assistance


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can report how much has been accomplished in sending to Russia, along with the American aid, assistance of a sanitary, medical, Red Cross, and Young Men's Christian Association character, as promised when the Allied expeditions went to Murmansk and Archangel; and whether this aid is being given to Russians irrespective of political party or social class?

    Joint arrangements have been made both by the British and American Red Cross and the British and American Y.M.C.A. for ministering to the needs of Russia, and contingents have already been sent out to Archangel, Murmansk and Vladivostok. Medical supplies have already been sent from this country to Northern Russia sufficient to meet the needs of the districts to which it is possible to send relief for the whole of the winter, and a British Red Cross unit with supplies will leave this country shortly for Vladivostock. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative.

    War Aims


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government to make any public reply to President Wilson's request of 27th September last that the statesmen of the Allies should state whether they were in agreement with his war aims?

    The hon. Gentleman need be under no anxiety as to the harmony which exists between the United States of America and the other associated Governments. If a public reply is made to President Wilson's speech he may be assured that the House will be made acquainted with it at the earliest possible date.

    Is the Noble Lord aware that President Wilson's fourteen points are undoubtedly endorsed by public opinion in this country and the refusal—

    League Of Nations

    French Commission (Report)

    3 and 4.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether it is proposed that the Report of the French Commission on the organisation of a League of Free Nations should form the basis of discussion of an Inter-Allied Commission; and whether he can state the names of the representatives to be appointed on this Commission by the British Government; and (2) whether he has approached the French Government with a view to the publication of the Report of the Commission, presided over by M. Leon Bourgeois, on the organisation of a League of Free Nations; and whether he can state the results of his inquiry?

    The answer to both questions is in the negative. Our policy and I believe that of the French Government also, has been to submit the Reports of our expert Committees to the Governments of the chief European Allies and of the United States for examination. The next step is to reach such a measure of definite agreement with these Governments as will furnish a basis and terms of reference on which our respective experts may meet and draft a detailed scheme. Such a definite agreement we are now trying to reach, and we hope to discuss the matter fully with the United States in the immediate future. Pending this discussion we have reason to believe that the publication of the French and British Reports might be regarded as premature and inopportune.

    Has any approach been made, or is it contemplated, to the neutral Governments, so as to get—

    Military Service

    Greeks (Exemptions)


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to how many Greeks resident in Great Britain has the Greek Minister in London granted exemption from military service under Article 3 of the recent agreement; and can he say what were the reasons assigned for such exemptions?

    The first part of the question should be addressed to the Minister of National Service. With regard to the second part, I would remind the hon. Member that the Greek Minister has power to exempt from military service any Greek subject in Great Britain, and that His Majesty's Government have no right to inquire the reasons for which such exemptions are granted.

    Is it according to precedent to make a treaty of this sort, giving one man power to exempt as many men as he likes from military service?


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Greeks resident in Ireland are exempt from military service under the recent agreement with Greece, although Greeks resident in Great Britain are liable to military service; and, if so, will he state the reason for such exemption?

    Greek subjects resident in Ireland are not liable to military service because the agreement of 8th August applies to Greek subjects in Great Britain only.

    Conscientious Objectors


    asked the Home Secretary whether, on Tuesday, 1st October, W. A. Thiel, a conscientious objector in Wandsworth Civil Prison, was kicked by the principal warder, who afterwards ordered four other warders to carry him to the top of the stairs and then instructed them to drop him; that he was then taken by the feet and pulled down two flights of iron stairs to the basement, and that at the top of the basement stairs the principal warder again ordered his assistants to drop him, after which he was further kicked and pulled down another flight of sixteen stone steps to a punishment cell; that, upon the prisoner complaining to the governor, he was referred to a visiting magistrate, who declined to allow him to call a witness, and stated that he had decided to go no further into the case as the prisoner had brought it on himself by refusing to obey orders; and whether he will cause an inquiry to be held and give Mr. Thiel an opportunity of calling witnesses?

    This prisoner's complaint has already been the subject of an inquiry in regular course by one of the visiting magistrates. The prisoner on the occasion referred to refused to leave his cell when required to attend before the governor, and had to be carried by the warders; but the magistrate was satisfied that his allegations as to his treatment were untrue. I cannot find any sufficient reason for ordering a further inquiry in the matter.

    Has not the right hon. Gentleman observed in the question that it is stated that the magistrate refused to allow the prisoner to call witnesses?

    War Work Volunteers


    asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that men over forty-five years of age, when medically graded, are allowed to volunteer as war work volunteers; if he will say under what conditions the Ministry of Labour supply these volunteers to employers; whether he is aware that some of these men are sent to work for firms for 7d. an hour; and whether, under the existing cost of living, he will see that men are not supplied on this low scale of wages?

    Men over forty-five are eligible for enrolment as war work volunteers for certain classes of work. The conditions upon which these men are supplied to employers by the Employment Exchanges on behalf of the Ministry of National Service provide that the employer will pay wages and allowances in accordance with the terms of the men's enrolment, of which I am sending a copy to my hon. Friend. I am not aware of any of these volunteers being sent to work for 7d. an hour, but if particulars are supplied I shall be happy to have inquiry made, with a view to ascertaining whether or not the conditions applicable to the employment of war work volunteers are being fulfilled.



    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has information concerning the congress of Czecho-Slovaks at Prague at which independence was demanded and the wish expressed that the Duke of Connaught should be invited to the throne; and whether these desires of the Czechoslovaks are in agreement with our national policy?

    I have no information on the subject beyond that which has appeared in the Press.

    International Opium Convention


    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, since the issue of the White Paper, No. 4, 1915 [Cd. 7813], the following Powers (in addition to Great Britain and the eleven Powers mentioned in that Paper) have ratified the International Opium Convention of 1912, namely, the Netherlands, Norway, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Uruguay; whether the United States, China, the Netherlands, Norway, and Honduras have also signed the Special Protocol opened at the Hague in July, 1914, with a view to putting the Convention into force without waiting for ratification of the Convention by all the signatory Powers; and whether His. Majesty's Government are now prepared to support the putting into force of some or all of the articles of the Convention?

    The answer to the two first parts of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government are still considering the question of putting into force some or all of the Articles of the International Opium Convention without waiting for its ratification by all the signatory Powers.

    Great Britain And Italy


    asked the Under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is responsible for the appointment of Mr. Victor Fisher, the secretary of an organisation which is called the British Workers' League, as a missioner in Italy in connection with the promotion of future industrial and commercial unity in Great Britain and Italy; whether he is authorised, as the representative of the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office, to confer with the leaders of Italian industry and to confer, as a British missioner with the Prime Minister of Italy; whether the appointment is temporary or for a period of years; and what are the previous experiences of Mr. Fisher and his special qualifications for this work?

    The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the remaining parts, therefore, do not appear to arise.

    Does my right hon. Friend know that statements appeared in the Press the day before yesterday giving categorical information on the lines of my question?

    I am afraid I did not know that. I admit I ought to have known it. I can only say my answer stands as I am informed.

    Will the Noble Lord make inquiries? He will find something very interesting.


    Coal Development


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that recently a mining expert from this country visited various coal areas in Ireland; if he will say for what purpose; was the visit a purely personal one or taken at the instance of the Irish Government; will the name of the expert be given; is he in any way associated with the English or Welsh colliery proprietors; has he made any Report as the result of his visit; and, if so, will it be made public?

    Mr. Philip Kirkup, a well-known mining expert, recently visited various coal areas in Ireland. His visit was entirely unofficial and unconnected with any English or Welsh colliery proprietors. He came at my personal invitation to give me the benefit of his great knowledge and experience, and to make to me any suggestions as to development and methods of working which he thought desirable. His visit was welcomed by all the proprietors of the collieries he visited, and I believe will have valuable results.



    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland (1) what steps, if any, are being taken with a view to the securing for Ireland a portion of the Grants to be provided for the building of houses, etc., in towns and villages after the War; is he aware that the Irish Convention made a special recommendation in its Report on this vital question; will he consider the advisability of setting up a small Irish Committee to look into the matter; and will he press the Irish claim in the proper quarters at once in view of the fact that Ireland had no representative on the Reconstruction Committee which considered the whole question; (2) if, in the event of money being allocated for the building of houses in towns and cities, he will see that the claims of rural workers who are still living in hovels will be safeguarded, and that money will be advanced to the local authorities to enable them to carry out to the end the erection of houses under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts?

    I am not yet in a position to make any statement on the subject. As I have already stated, it is intended that Ireland shall participate in any measures submitted to Parliament for the improvement of housing conditions.



    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that hardship is being caused to the poor throughout Ireland by reason of their being compelled to pay in one instalment the price laid down for seed potatoes given them last year through rural councils; if he is aware that practically all the latter bodies were and are anxious that this money should be paid in three separate instalments for three years but are precluded from doing so by reason of some clause in what is known as the Seed Act; and whether, in view of the cost of living and the inclemency of the weather as well as the shortage of coal and other things, which makes it practically impossible for the poor to live, he will amend this Seed Act in some way so that this money can be paid by instalments over three years?

    I am not aware that hardship has been caused as suggested in the question, or that there is any such general demand for the extension of time referred to. I do not, therefore, at present see any necessity for making any alterations in the conditions on which these loans are granted.

    Peat Fuel


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that in many parts of Ireland large bogs are in the sole possession of individuals who will not allow fuel to be obtained from them at any price; and, in view of the shortage of coal and fuel in general, will some steps be taken under the Defence of the Realm Regulations to compel such owners to let these turbaries to the poor at a reasonable and fixed rate?

    Royal Irish Constabulary

    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he has made any promise to ameliorate the pay and conditions of service of the Royal Irish Constabulary; whether he proposes to initiate legislation; and whether he has consulted or will consult the county councils with a view to place the relations of the Irish police force with the local authorities on a new basis?

    Ameliorations in pay and conditions of service have been promised to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and are now under consideration. Legislation will be introduced to give effect to them. The county councils have not been consulted, and it is not proposed to consult them as suggested.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the question of pensioners, and the inadequate pensions received in the past; and will he take into consideration that they should be compensated in manner equivalent to the real expense of living at present?


    asked the Chief Secretary if he will state the total number of men in the Royal Irish Constabulary who have married without permission and the number of such men having less than ten years' service; how many men have married without permission since the commencement of the War, and whether any of these men have resigned; if he is aware that some men were married without permission shortly after joining the force and are subject to an establishment penalty of £7 16s. per annum for a period of ten years, as well as an incidental and regularly recurring penalty by reason of not being allowed transfer expenses, cost of carriage of furniture, and separation allowances for absence on duty, and that the average of this latter penalty is in some cases greater than the established penalty; whether he is aware that the officers of the force are not in favour of all these penal disablities, that they consider these men should be exempt from the deduction of 1s. per week for barrack accommodation, as they pay rent for a private house, receiving no lodging allowance, and do not live in barracks: and whether, in view of assisting married men to maintain their families, he will consult the officers of the force, and, in the interests of the public service as well as of the wives and families of the men concerned, remove some of these disabilities?

    The information in the first two parts of the question is not on record and could only be obtained by investigations which would take considerable time. Since 1st July, 1914, seventy-two men have been reported for marrying without leave. I have no information as to whether any of these men have resigned. When men who have married without permission complete ten years' service in the Royal Irish Constabulary Force their marriages can, with the special sanction of the Inspector-General, be officially recognised and registered, and the disabilities previously attaching to them are in consequence removed. This Regulation was made on the recommendation of a Committee of Inquiry in 1914, and the Inspector-General does not recommend that any alteration should be made now.


    asked the Chief Secretary whether he can give the date on which he will introduce the promised measure dealing with the pay, pensions, and other matters of the Royal Irish Constabulary?


    School Teachers (Superannuation)


    asked the Chief Secretary whether he proposes to introduce a Bill proposing superannuation for Irish teachers on the lines of the Bill proposed for England?

    The hon. Member must await the Report of the Committee recently appointed by the Lord Lieutenant.

    Will he consider the question of giving the men who have resigned on very small pensions a larger pension?

    "Lynch's Brigade"


    asked the Chief Secretary whether, without disclosing information of value to the enemy, he will state the present strength of a unit which is being recruited under the Irish Government's scheme of voluntary enlistment and known as "Lynch's Brigade"; is the brigade clothed as a kilted regiment; and what are its distinguishing marks and insignia?

    My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. I do not think it would be desirable to disclose the information asked for in the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question. The formation will be clothed as ordinary Infantry, but there will be a sergeant-piper and five pipers who will wear the Irish kilt. The headdress will be of colonial type, with a green band and with a green and white hackle representing the plume of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The hat badge will be a representation of an Irish wolfhound.

    Will the units of Lynch's Brigade be of the Munster Fusiliers or will they be affiliated?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of clothing all units of British Infantry in tunics of the Australian type?

    No. I think the British troops are proud to wear the uniform they have.


    asked the Chief Secretary whether the appointment of officers to a unit known as "Lynch's Brigade" rests with the Irish Government, the War Office, or with the officer who has given his name to the unit; and are commissioned in the brigade confined to men of South Irish or American birth and of one religious denomination?

    My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. Officers for the formation mentioned will be appointed by the War Office. They will be Irishmen who have served in the present War but not necessarily of South Irish or American birth. There is no question of religious denomination.

    Voluntary Enlistment


    asked the Chief Secretary whether he can give the actual or approximate total cost incurred by the Irish Government or the War Office from 1st June to date or to latest date available in connection with the scheme of voluntary enlistment in Ireland?

    My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. The costs from 1st June to 21st October, 1918, of recruiting in Ireland were £30,575, exclusive of costs for premises, stationery, etc. Propaganda undertaken by the Irish Recruiting Council between 1st June and 30th September cost £21,898.

    Is the Department of the hon. Gentleman responsible for this expenditure, or the War Office or the Irish Government?

    I think if my hon. and gallant Friend will read the reply he will see that I have answered his point.

    Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his figures work out at £5 per head for each recruit, and is that not rather extravagant?

    I am not aware of it, and we do not know how many recruits are going to be obtained.

    asked the Chief Secretary whether he will give the number of men who have been attested and passed for service in the Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry, Air Force, and non-combatant units of the Service, respectively, from 1st June to 15th October, 1918, under the Irish Government's scheme of voluntary enlistment; and will he say whether those recruited for the Air Force were men to be instructed in actual flying or to perform ground service only?

    My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. The enlistments in Ireland from 1st June to 15th October were

    Royal Navy626
    Royal Air Force4,438
    exclusive of absentees from Britain and exclusive of men who volunteered but were found unfit or who for one reason or another were not posted. The disposal of the recruits between the corps in the Army is not known to my Department.

    Mineral Resources


    asked the Chief Secretary if his attention has been drawn to the announcement made by His Excellency at the Belfast Harbour Board on the 5th of August dealing with the developing of the mineral and other resources of Ireland; if he will say whether any programme has been approved of by the Government for the carrying out of these proposals; and, if so, when are they likely to be started?

    The Lord Lieutenant made his speech after consultation with me, and the matter is having our careful attention.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of my question as to when they are likely to be started?

    Mountjoy Prison


    asked if at present the evening duty of Nos. 1, 3, and 4 at Mountjoy Male Prison is being performed by about one-third of the entire staff, which means the bringing on duty of the same three officers almost every third or fourth evening; if he will state why the remaining officers on the staff are exempt from performing this duty in turn, seeing that they can be spared for other duties; and whether, seeing that this system constitutes a grievance to these officers performing this duty and is the cause of discontent amongst them, he will take the necessary steps to have this grievance remedied by causing the officers who are at present exempt to perform this duty in turn and thereby allay the discontent at present prevailing?

    The facts are as stated. The number of officers required for evening duty at Mountjoy Prison is seven, the total number of officers being fifty-one. The performance of this evening duty by the remaining officers of the staff who are either superintending officers or holders of special posts such as tradesmen and schoolmasters instructors would not be practicable, as it would involve a cessation of the special and essential duties performed by these officers during the period of the day for which they would have to be off duty as an equivalent for the extra hours of evening duty. All officers at Mountjoy Prison perform duty the same number of working hours, those employed in the evening being given a corresponding period off duty during ordinary working hours of the day.

    Arrest And Imprisonment


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the Press Censor for Ireland prohibited the "Dublin Evening Telegraph" newspaper in the beginning of August last from inserting a letter signed by W. Ignatius Bradshaw protesting against the arrest and imprisonment without trial of Irish men and Irish women; if he is aware that indignation exists in Ireland at the method employed by the Government agents who try to discredit Ireland in the eyes of other nations by making charges that they know cannot be sustained, and refusing either an opportunity of refuting the charges at a public trial, or even allowing a public protest in the Press against this conduct; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take in the matter?

    The Press Censor informs me that the "Dublin Evening Telegraph" was advised that the letter from the gentleman named should not be published. All matter is censored which is a clear breach of the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I do not propose to take any steps in the matter.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider it a grave hardship that people should be imprisoned and have no opportunity of a trial and that no protests should be allowed to be published?

    The hon. Member must know perfectly well that reports of meetings of protest are constantly being published.

    Here is a letter signed and sent to the public Press and its publication is prohibited.

    I have not seen the letter. The Irish Press Censor is a very experienced gentleman.

    Dublin Metropolitan Police


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether any superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police has been compulsorily retired within the last six months; if he is aware that it was the result of a charge which was brought against the retired superintendent by Superintendent Flynn, that five respectable men of long service and good records in the Dublin Metropolitan Police were dismissed on charges organised by the two superintendents referred to, and that the Chief Commissioner, Colonel Johnston, has consistently opposed either reinstatement of the men or an inquiry into the charges made against the dismissed constables; that irregularities in connection with the disappearance of property from Store Street police station, Dublin, was exposed in this House, and that an offer was made to give sworn evidence in support of these charges, and also the record of the police station book, and that no attempt was made to hold an inquiry; that memorials have been signed repeatedly by over 600 members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police complaining of the treatment meted out to their comrades; and if he will take steps to hold an inquiry as to the reinstatement of the men?

    A superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police was directed to resign within the past six months, but it was not the result of a charge brought by Superintendent Flynn. Five constables were dismised in November, 1916, four of them for offences of a very serious character. The suggestions as to superintendents organising charges is without foundation. With regard to the irregularities referred to, if the hon. Member will formulate any definite charge upon which action could be taken, I will consider the matter. Memorials, including a request for the reinstatement of the five dismissed constables have been received, signed by approximately 600 members of the force. Any representations that have hitherto been made were fully considered by the Chief Commissioner and by the Irish Government, and I am not aware of any reason for reopening this case.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a statement was made giving the name and address of the person from whom the stolen goods were obtained, the day it was lodged at Store Street police station, and the name of the officer in charge, with an intimation that the records would prove this and that absolutely no notice has been taken of it; and is he aware of the superintendent's own written statement to the effect that the dismissal of these men were the result of a conference in a public-house?

    I cannot deal with all these details in answer to a question without notice.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have already supplied this information about a dozen times and that absolutely no notice has been taken of it owing to the bigotry of the officer?

    If that is so, I am sure that it has been thoroughly investigated and found to be unfounded.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor in office were so far convinced that he asked me to interview the Commissioner of Police and ask him to reopen the case, and I did so?

    Irish Convention


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland how many members of the Irish Convention have objected to the repeal of the Defence of the Realm Regulation prohibiting the publication of certain documents connected with the proceedings of the Convention; whether such members have also expressed a desire that their names should not be published in connection with their objections; and what are the reasons of the Government for not acceding to the views of the majority?

    Eight members of the Irish Convention objected to the repeal of the Regulation referred to. I cannot give their names without their permission, and, as it has been suggested to me that the Convention might be called together again, it would be undesirable that the Regulation should be repealed for the present.

    Are eight members of the Convention to be allowed to overrule the opinion of the balance of ninety?

    No, Sir, they are not; but it must be obvious, if there is any chance of the Convention sitting again, that it would be undesirable to mention any names.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that there is any chance of the Convention sitting again? It is most preposterous.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the eight members to whom he has referred whether they will consent?

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government intend to call the Convention together?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman say who suggested to him that the Convention might be called together again?

    Is the Chairman of the Convention the principal stumbling-block?

    That is quite incorrect. The Chairman has pressed for this more than anyone else.

    Voluntary Recruiting Campaign


    asked the Prime Minister whether he will state the intentions of the Government, in view of the inadequate results of the voluntary recruiting campaign in Ireland?

    I am not in a position to make any statement.

    Food Supplies



    asked what is the percentage of cattle in Ireland to the whole of the United Kingdom, and what is the percentage as regards pigs; can he state what is the amount of feeding-stuffs actually delivered in Ireland for each of the four completed months since June, and how much has been delivered in Ireland during October; and can he say what percentage this total bears to the total amount of feeding-stuffs actually delivered in the United Kingdom during the same period?

    The percentage of cattle in Ireland to the number in the United Kingdom is approximately forty, and the corresponding figure for pigs is approximately thirty-five. The figures asked for in respect of feeding-stuffs delivered in Ireland are as follows:

    The figure for the month of October is not yet available. The Department have no information as to the quantity of feeding-stuffs imported into the United Kingdom during the same period.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that this allocation of about 10,000 tons really represents the proportion to which Ireland is entitled?

    I can hardly say that I am quite satisfied. Representations have been made and inquiries have taken place about it.

    Has the Department of Agriculture in Ireland charge of the distribution of feeding-stuffs in Ireland?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the information which reaches us is that the feeding-stuffs sent to Ireland are distributed amongst about four large breeders, and that there is a complete boycott of the small breeders?

    Bread Subsidy (Weekly Expenditure)


    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present weekly rate of expenditure on the bread subsidy; whether it is now expected that the original estimate of £40,000,000 for the current financial year will be exceeded; and, if so, to what extent?

    I have been asked to reply. It is impossible to state weekly figures of the bread subsidy, but based on the latest estimate of the cost for the Wheat Commission's year to 31st August, 1919, it is put by the Royal Commission on Wheat Supplies at a weekly average of from £1,040,000 to £1,150,000, after allowing for savings to be effected by use of potatoes and payments for licences for use of flour for precluded purposes. The amount of the subsidy depends largely upon the sources from which import requirements will be filled, and these in turn depend upon the amount of tonnage available for transport of bread-stuffs for ourselves and our Allies. These governing factors are subject to constant change, hence the estimate given may at any moment have to be substantially amended. For the same reason it is impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy the amount of subsidy likely to fall on the present financial year, but it will probably exceed £50,000,000, though it is hoped not to any great extent.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, if the present expenditure is continued, it is not more likely to exceed £65,000,000 than the figure he has named?

    Rates of expenditure, as my reply indicates, vary, but my advice is that the estimate may not be higher than £50,000,000.

    Have any steps been taken by the Ministry of Food or the Wheat Commission to give effect to the economies recommended by the National Expenditure Committee?

    That is scarcely a question which can be answered in a supplementary reply, but I may say that the matter has been constantly under our consideration and some effective steps have been taken.

    Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the question of reducing this amount very largely by utilising for bread the barley which is used for beer and spirits?

    Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the advisability of having a better quality of bread at a higher price, thereby reducing the amount of subsidy falling upon the rates?

    That is a larger question of policy than is even raised in the original question.

    Issue Of Forms

    asked the Food Controller whether he is aware that application forms (L. F. S. I) for concentrated feeding-stuffs under the Cattle Feeding-stuffs (Distribution) Order, 1918, made on the 14th instant, which forbids the purchase of any feeding-stuffs whatever after the 17th November next, unless application is lodged by the 1st November, have been so distributed that whilst the private traders and manufacturers have received abundant supplies of such forms the farmers' co-operative societies have received utterly inadequate supplies, so that their members have been obliged to leave them and register with private traders; and whether he can state approximately how many were printed, and how many were sent to the agricultural co-operative societies, and why a step so prejudicial to agricultural co-operation has been taken by the Ministry, and whether farmers who, under the above circumstances have registered with traders, and desire to transfer their registration to a co-operative society; will be allowed to do so?

    The points raised in the question came too late to my hands to take personal action before reaching the House. I understand that everything possible is being done by the Department to get the forms circulated, but owing to printing and other difficulties there undoubtedly has been some delay in some cases. I can only give my personal assurance that I will attend to the matter without delay, with a view to expediting the issue of forms.

    asked the Food Controller whether he can give any explanation of the statements in the following telegram received by the Agricultural Organisation Society to-day from the Preston Farmers' Society:

    "We have only received twenty L.F.S.L. forms. We require at least 2,000. Have made repeated applications to Commissioner at Chester without result. It is most disgraceful and should be investigated. Our members are registering with competitors who have unlimited supply of forms."

    Is it not a fact that private firms are really running the Ministry of Food?

    Members' Gallery (Admission Of Women)

    With regard to the Second Resolution passed yesterday for the admission of ladies to the Members' Gallery, it is stated in the papers this morning that you, Mr. Speaker, are making arrangements for the admission of ladies to the Strangers' Gallery, On the terms of the Motion, will it be open to men to have admission to the Ladies' Gallery?

    I confine myself to carrying out the Order of the House, which is that the Members' Gallery should be open to ladies as well as to men.

    As from Monday next. Some structural alterations are required, but they will have to be postponed until the next Recess. The Gallery, under present conditions, will be open to ladies on and after Monday next.

    May I ask whether the same orders for admission to the Gallery will be issued to men as to women?

    Exactly; that is what will be done, but, in the case of ladies, instead of putting "Mr.," hon. Members can put "Miss."

    Old Age Pensions


    asked whether, in the case of Patrick Collum, of Kilty-creevagh, Ballinamuck, county Longford, who was granted an old age pension of 2s. weekly in 1914, which he declined to accept on the grounds of inadequacy, whether there is any machinery at the disposal of the Local Government Board to enable them to review this decision; and, if it is found that Collum was wrongfully deprived of his full pension for four years, will an order be given for payment to him of the total sum which he now claims?

    The Local Government Board do not appear to have any papers in connection with the claim of Patrick Collum, of Kiltycreevagh, Ballinamuck, county Longford, for an old age pension. If the hon. Member would be good enough to obtain further details, I will have inquiries made.

    Do I understand that in case the inquiries result in establishing this claim an order for payment will be made?


    asked the Chief Secretary if he will inquire into the circumstances under which Bridget Walker, of Coolorty, county Longford, was deprived of her old age pension two years ago, when, because of her committal to Mullingar Lunatic Asylum, from which she has since been discharged, her pension was stopped after enjoying it for two years; whether he is aware that she is the wife of a labourer who is old and poor, and the loss of this pension is a hardship on both these poor people; and will the case be considered with a view to the renewal of the pension?

    Bridget Walker's claim for an old age pension was refused by the Local Government Board on the ground that she had not attained the age of seventy years. It appears this woman was in receipt of a pension for some years and was disqualified after having been sent to the Mullingar Asylum. Her name is not on the list of the family in the Census taken in 1851, and the record of her marriage shows that she was married in 1869, at the age of eighteen years. This would make her now sixty-six and half years of age, and she is therefore not entitled to an old age pension.


    asked the Pensions Minister if he is aware that instructions have been issued to Inland Revenue superintendents that all positions of old age pensions officers are to be filled with women, their salary to be £2 10s. per week, thus preventing the possible employment of discharged soldiers and sailors who might be suited for such work; and will he see that this disability to such men is removed in future?

    No such instructions as those mentioned in the first part of the question have been issued. A certain number of temporary women pensions officers have for some time past been appointed to replace officers of Customs and Excise released for military service. The Treasury has now under consideration a scheme, which has been submitted by the Board of Customs and Excise, for employing discharged sailors and soldiers as officers of Customs and Excise on pension and other duties.


    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the dissatisfaction among the miners of Durham and Northumberland at the assessment of aged miners' homes when pension officers account the resources of applicants for pensions; whether he is aware that, such homes being built and paid for by the miners, they resent their free-will offerings for the help of the aged being used as contributions to the Treasury, such assessments depriving aged people of a portion of pension and in some instances entirely; and what steps can be taken to prevent this diversion of public help to purposes foreign to the intentions of the contributors?

    The exclusion of the benefits derived from residence in the aged miners' homes from the means of old age pensioners and old age pension claimants could only be secured by an amendment of the law, which His Majesty's Government cannot undertake in present circumstances.

    May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to whom the question is addressed, as it is likely to be considered by a Committee, will he give opportunities for the whole of the anomalies of the Old Age Pensions Act to be considered, with a view to removing them?

    I believe there are anomalies in connection with the Act which ought to be removed. I should no like to give any promise of setting up a Committee, but that will be considered.

    Venereal Disease


    asked the Home Secretary whether any provision is to be made by which women who are arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act, Regulation 40D, and against whom no conviction is obtained, are to receive compensation for undergoing the special medical examination for venereal disease?

    Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into account the fact that, according to the "Times" last week, of the prosecutions under this Regulation, almost half the women are found to be not guilty, but, although not guilty, they are subjected to this examination, which is a terrible penalty in itself; and will he either give them compensation or withdraw the Regulation?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, though innocent of this crime, women are committed to prison for seven days as well as being examined?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, with regard to his statement that this examination is made by consent, that the prosecutor for the Government stated that if women refused to undergo the examination it would be taken as proof against them?

    If consent is not given in writing, how do the public know that consent is given at all?


    asked the Home Secretary whether he will now issue instructions that the consent of women to undergo the special medical examination for venereal disease provided for in the Defence of the Realm Act, Regulation 40D, shall in all cases be obtained in writing?

    This question is under the consideration of the Committee recently appointed.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that there is now evidence that women who give their consent to this examination do so because they are unaware that they have the right to refuse?

    Would the hon. Member give himself the trouble to put down some of these numerous questions so that they may be considered? They do not arise out of the questions upon the Paper.

    Household Fuel And Lighting Order


    asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the fact that the premises of the Four Hundred Club, in Bond Street, will be shortly reopened and that permission has been given to keep open till 12.30; if so, by whom this permission has been granted; and on what grounds this favour is conceded to a dancing establishment when churches are asked to discontinue their evening services?

    Under an Order made by my predecessor in 1915, clubs in London must close at midnight on Saturdays and Sundays and at 12.30 a.m. on other nights. No special permission to keep open till that time is required. So far as the latter part of the question relates to matters of heating and lighting, it is for the Board of Trade and not for my Department.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is consistent with the advice given about the heating and lighting of churches that this permission should be given to new clubs?

    General Gough (Marshal Haig's Dispatch)


    asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the reference to General Gough in the dispatch of the Commander-in-Chief, he is prepared to make any statement with regard to the position of this officer?

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

    Does my right hon. Friend not think the Government is in a sufficiently strong position to institute a close time for scapegoats?

    When will my right hon. Friend be prepared to make a statement as to the position of this officer, who is now under a serious stigma?

    I do not know exactly when it will be possible for me to make a statement, but I will do it as soon as I can.

    Prisoners Of War

    Germans In China


    asked the Home Secretary whether he can state the precise grounds on which negotiations with the German authorities for an exchange of prisoners broke down?

    The German Government have refused to ratify the agreement concluded at the Hague in July last unless His Majesty's Government are prepared to guarantee that the Germans in China will be neither interned nor removed from that country against their will.

    65, 66, 67, and 68.

    asked the Home Secretary (1) when the German delegates at the Hague first raised the question of the Germans in China; whether Lord Newton and General Belfield expressed any opinion upon the demand; and why they assented to the addition of the German reservation to the treaty;

    (2) whether he will publish the correspondence with the German government in regard to the ratification of the Hague treaty;

    (3) how many Germans there are in China; and what is involved in the German claim regarding them; and

    (4) whether Clause 1 of the Hague treaty closing Holzminden and Clausthal camps was agreed to because it was admitted by the German delegates that these camps were unfit for officers prisons; and whether the Government has since made any demand for the closing of these camps?

    The answers to these questions were published in yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT.

    I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, what one is to do? I postponed these questions yesterday and mentioned it to the Clerk at the Table, and at his suggestion I also mentioned it to my hon. Friend's private secretary, which is the usual way of communicating with Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman was not in the House at the time. I did all I could to postpone these questions, and I simply saw the record of them in to-day's "Times." The action of the right hon. Gentleman has prevented any supplementary questions being put.

    My secretary did not get the notice until after the replies had been sent out.

    Is it not a fact that whereas the French representatives arranged satisfactorily in regard to their prisoners, Lord Newton and General Belfield seem to have failed? Ought not this important question to have been entrusted to men of known and marked ability?

    I think that is an unfair reflection upon the two gentlemen concerned, but I will deal with it in the Debate.

    I am sorry to have to press this matter, Mr. Speaker, but it is important as other Members may want to postpone questions in similar circumstances. I postponed these questions before quarter to four, and, at the request of the Clerk at the Table, I told the private secretary of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not responsible that by a mistake of a Minister these answers were circulated.

    If the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) received an intimation before a quarter to four he ought not to have handed in the answers at the Table.

    I did not get notice of the postponement of the questions until after the replies had been dealt with. I saw the hon. Member in the Lobby during the Debate after questions, and he then told me. That was the first time I heard of it.

    French And German Prisoners (Exchange)


    asked the Home Secretary whether an agreement for an exchange of prisoners has been arranged between the French and German authorities?

    The reply is in the affirmative. The execution of the agreement commenced in July last. The French Government, however, found it necessary to suspend action almost immediately owing to the irregularities committed by the German Government. These irregularities have now been rectified, and the operation of the agreement is believed to have been resumed.

    Was a similar demand made by the French Government such as caused a breakdown of the negotiations between our Government and Germany?

    Day For Discussion


    asked the Prime Minister whether an early date can be granted to discuss the whole question of British prisoners of war in Germany?


    asked the Prime Minister whether he is now prepared to give a day for the discussion of the whole position of prisoners in enemy hands?

    I propose that an opportunity for this discussion should be given on Tuesday.

    Will the opportunity be of such a character that a Resolution may be put down and not merely the Adjournment of the House?

    I propose the Adjournment of the House. I fancy that will be the way most acceptable to the House, but I am not wedded to one method rather than another.

    If the Unionist and Liberal War Committees should request my right hon. Friend to allow a Resolution, will he allow it?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there are some cognate subjects which might be ruled out if there were a Resolution, and as the discussion will presumably not take all day it would be desirable in some respects to have the Adjournment?

    I am strongly inclined to think the Adjournment would be the most suitable method. I should be glad if my hon. Friend (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) and those with whom he is working will consider and discuss it.

    Ill-Treatment By Germans

    asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the continued brutality to British prisoners, he will immediately inform the German Government that at the close of the War all those responsible for the ill-treatment of our men shall be handed over to justice?

    A communication on the lines of my hon. Friend's question has already been sent to the German Government, and published in the Press.

    Civil Service Pensioners


    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, if it is not convenient to amend the Superannuation Acts so as to give Civil Service pensioners of £1 a week a bonus during the period of the War, he can see his way to grant these bonuses out of the War Credits?


    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the possibility of augmenting the pensions of retired Civil servants whose pensions do not exceed £1 per week by introducing legislation amending the Superannuation Acts, so as to allow of these men receiving for the period of the War a bonus to enable them to meet the increased cost of living?

    I have nothing to add to the numerous answers given to similar questions in this House by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and by myself in the course of last Session.

    Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of these persons, especially dockyard pensioners, are in very severe straits, and will he explain why he cannot deal with them?

    Economic Policy After War


    asked the Prime Minister when the statement on the economic policy after the War will be made?


    asked the Prime Minister whether the commercial treaties until recently in force between foreign countries and the United Kingdom have been denounced in order to eliminate the Most-Favoured-Nation clauses; if so, how many of the treaties have been denounced and when will they cease to be operative?

    The Prime Minister intends himself to make the economic statement which I have promised on behalf of the Government. I had hoped to-day to give a definite date, but in present circumstances it is impossible to do so.

    Does my right hon. Friend think it would be possible to give a day next week?