House Of Commons
Wednesday, 6th November, 1918.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Cowdenbeath Water Provisional Order Bill,
"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Cowdenbeath Water," presented by Mr. Munro; read the first time; to be read a second time upon Thursday, 14th November, and to be printed. [Bill 106.]
Savings Banks And Friendly Societies
Account [presented 5th November] to be printed. [No. 128.]
Representation Of The People Act, 1918
Copies presented of Four Orders in Council, dated 23rd October, 1918 (provisional except with respect to Scotland), made under the Act [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.
Small Holding Colonies Act, 1916
Copy presented of Report of the Interdepartmental Conference on the subject of the proposed extension to Ireland of the Small Holding Colonies Act, 1916 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Ministry Of Reconstruction
Copy presented of Report from the Advisory Council of the Minister of Reconstruction upon Standardisation of Railway Equipment [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Trade Boards Acts
Copy presented of Regulations, dated 31st October, 1918, made by the Minister of Labour under the Trade Boards Acts [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.
Navy, Army, And Air Services, Warlike Operations, And Other Expenditure Arising Out Of The War, 1918–19 (Supplementary Vote Of Credit)
Supplementary Estimate presented of the Amount required to be voted during the year ending 31st March, 1919, for general Navy, Army, and Air Services, Warlike Operations, and other Expenditure arising out of the War [by Command]; referred to the Committee of Supply, and to be printed. [No. 129.]
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the housing schemes for shipyard and marine engine works employés are to be proceeded with; if not, what alternative means are to be adopted to house the extra 75,000 men declared by the Controller-General of Merchant Shipbuilding to be necessary for the existing yards and their extensions; and whether, in view of the urgency of accommodation being found for these men as they come forward without subjecting them to any hardship or delay, he can announce that the housing and hostel schemes for this purpose will be pressed on immediately?
My right hon. Friend is, of course, aware that the claims for priority—both labour and material—are very urgent indeed from many directions. Nevertheless, the Controller-General of Merchant Shipbuilding will be bound, and so proposes, to press the schemes he has already prepared for securing accommodation for the additional men required, before the War Cabinet Priorities Committee and the War Cabinet itself.
May I presume that my right hon. Friend and the Controller-General are aware that some berths are being kept at present vacant owing to shortage of labour?
In one of these cases, apparently the most urgent, the men have been provided forthwith, and the accommodation is being secured today by commandeering.As regards housing, the next most urgent will be placed before the War Priorities Committee on Friday.
British Tonnage Lost
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state the gross tonnage of British steamships lost during the War up to the 31st October last and to what extent the loss has been made good by new construction and by purchase from abroad?
By arrangement with the Allies the losses for October cannot be published until three weeks have expired from the end of the month. During the War, up to the 30th September last—
|The gross tonnage of British merchant steamships lost by enemy action and marine risk amounted to||8,946,000|
|This has been made good by new construction, tonnage purchased abroad, and enemy tonnage captured and brought into service, to the extent of||5,443,000|
|Leaving a net deficit on the 30th September last of||3,503,000|
Does that mean that, as compared with July, 1914, there is a deficit of British ocean-going ships to the extent of 20 per cent?
My hon. Friend raises a question that I should like to look at in regard to "ocean-going." I should not like to say offhand.
Can the right hon. Gentleman state approximately the amount of the mercantile gross tonnage before the War?
I should want notice.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give separate figures of war loss as against marine loss?
I have no doubt that could be done if a question were put down.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state the number of shipowners who have agreed to pay full wages during the period they have been interned in enemy countries, and the proportion of officers who will be so provided for; and whether he can say what the Government intend to do in other cases for which no provision has been made by the shipowners?
Eighteen shipowners have, up to the present, informed the Board of Trade that they are paying full wages to all officers and members of their crews interned in enemy countries. It is not possible to state what proportion of interned officers will be so provided for. As regards the last part of the question, I am afraid I can only refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on this subject on 24th October.
Am I to infer, therefore, that the Government do not propose to do anything more than merely ask shipowners whether they are prepared to make any provision or not?
No, my hon. Friend is not entitled to infer that.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, seeing that schoolmasters, Royal Navy, are unaffected by the recent published changes in the pay and status of warrant officers, Royal Navy, he can say when the scheme which has been under consideration by their lordships for some months for the improvement in pay and status of schoolmasters, Royal Navy, will be promulgated?
I am afraid I cannot say more than that the matter is under consideration.
When does the right hon. Gentleman think the consideration will be brought to a conclusion?
It is not in our hands alone; there are other Departments. I should like to see it concluded at the earliest possible date so far as I am concerned.
Naval And Royal Marine Officers (Pay)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether consolidated rates of pay granted to Naval and Royal Marine officers employed in the Admiralty have been increased since the outbreak of hostilities; and, if so, by how much?
There have been a number of increases, and with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, I will circulate with the OFFICIAL REPORT the answer setting them forth.
The following is the statement referred to:
Consolidated rates of pay were introduced for certain classes of Naval and Marine officers serving at the Admiralty with effect as from 5th May, 1915. These have, in some cases, been increased with effect from 1st February last, as follows, namely:
|Majors, R. M||500||increased to||600|
|Lieut.-Commanders of over two years' seniority||430||increased to||500|
|Lieut.-Commanders of under two years' seniority||400||increased to||500|
|Captains, R.M||400||increased to||500|
In other cases, consolidated rates have been introduced which show a considerable increase over the emoluments (full pay and allowances) which the officers were previously in receipt of, e.g., as from 1st February last, sub-lieutenants, Royal Navy and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, receive £300 a year instead of £204, newly-promoted paymaster commanders, Royal Navy, £600 a year instead of £478 10s.
Recruiting Officers (Pay)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether in view of the fact that no increase has been made to the pay of naval recruiting staff officers during the War and that such pay is only at the rate of £200 a year, instructions can be issued for these salaries to be raised as soon as possible, taking into consideration the greatly increased cost of living and the fact that in some cases non-commissioned officers serving under senior staff officers are receiving larger emoluments than the officers under whom they are serving?
My hon. and gallant Friend will be glad to know that it has been decided to revise the salaries of the recruiting staff officers, Royal Marines, and the naval recruiting officers, temporarily, as from the 1st September, 1918. If my hon. and gallant Friend wishes, I will show him the details.
Rosyth Naval Base (School Accommodation)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether any arrangements have yet been made by the Admiralty with regard to school accommodation in the Rosyth district?
The local naval authorities are carefully investigating the present schooling arrangements at Rosyth in conjunction with the Dunfermline School Board, in order to determine the extent to which, if any, additional accommodation is required. From the information at present available the requirements would not appear to be in excess of accommodation.
German Submarine Warfare
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any and, if so, what number of British passenger ships have been attacked by German submarines since the undertaking given by the German Government to President Wilson to abstain from such attacks?
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can give the last date on which a vessel of British or other nationality was sunk by enemy action?
As regards attacks on British merchant vessels, we have no reliable and precise information. The last date on which a British ship or ship of other nationality was sunk by enemy submarine action was in the Mediterranean on 2nd November.
Is my right hon. Friend not aware that a British merchant steamer, the name of which I have just given to him, was torpedoed in the English Channel and reached port only two days ago?
I have no report of that, but I will take it from the hon. Member and make inquiries.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say if any food ships have been sunk?
I cannot say.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what was the last case of an Irish mail boat being attacked?
The last Irish mail boat sunk, as we know to our regret, was the "Leinster."
I said attacked, not sunk.
I do not know.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state what is the total number of cases of influenza at the Crystal Palace since the present epidemic broke out; how many of these were treated at the Palace; how many in hospital; how many were sent home for treatment, with the number of deaths in each class, respectively; and how many of the total cases had had inoculation of any kind?
Since the present epidemic broke out there have been 784 cases at the Crystal Palace: 538 were treated at the Palace; 233 were transferred from the Palace to local hospitals, and none was sent home for treatment. I should, however, add that 442 cases have been reported to us of men contracting influenza at home while on leave. As regards the number of deaths during the present epidemic, three died at the Crystal Palace, ninety-three died in local hospitals, and ten died at their own homes. I have already informed my hon. Friend that in none of the cases of death had there been inoculation against influenza or pneumonia.
I did not ask that question. I said "inoculation."
My hon. Friend asked how many of the death cases had been inoculated at any time. I confined my answer to cases of death. In cases of death there had been no inoculations. I am not certain whether, in a small number of other cases, men did not apply voluntarily for inoculation. So far, I am glad to say, those men are going on all right.
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question I have put down.
I must ask the hon. Member to put the question down again. I have tried to answer it.
I have put it down twice.
Coast Watchers (Ireland)
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether, in view of the fact that only 5 per cent. of the coast watchers in Ireland have ever served either in the forces of the Crown or in the Mercantile Marine during the present War, he will state how many of these men are of military age; whether he is aware that many ex-Service men are qualified and anxious for such work; and whether immediate steps will be taken to ensure that they are not kept out of employment by men who have never served although eligible?
Detailed inquiries are necessary in connection with my hon. and gallant Friend's question. Perhaps in the circumstances he will put it down again one day next week. I may remind my hon. and gallant Friend that, as I told him two days ago, in filling vacancies preference is given to discharged soldiers and sailors.
I will put it down again next week.
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether it is the fact that the maximum alternative pension which the widow of an ordinary seaman can obtain if the man dies of a disease certified as contracted on duty, such as influenza, is £130 per annum?
The answer is in the affirmative.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the maximum pension of the widow of a captain of one of His Majesty's ships is £80 per annum and of the widow of an admiral of £120 per annum, unless it is certified that he died from disease caused by extraordinary exposure or exertion on service; and whether the Board will represent to the Treasury that the condition for granting alternative pensions should be the same for officers' widows as for men and that the time has come for the amounts to be raised?
The ordinary service pension of the widow of a captain of less than three years' seniority is £80, and of other captains £90, while that of the widow of an admiral is as stated in the question. The question of increasing the ordinary rates of pensions to widows of officers whose deaths were not attributable to or accelerated by the Service, is at present under consideration.
Will the Board of Admiralty bear in mind that the answer to my first question by the Pensions Department showed that pensions are now from £30 to £10 less for admirals and captains than the maximum for ordinary seamen?
I gathered that the purpose of the former question was to prepare an argument in favour of a favourable answer being given to the second.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the payment of separation allowances to the wife is in some cases deferred till three weeks after the husband has been called up, whereby hardship is occasioned; and will he issue instructions that no such preventable delay shall occur in future?
So far as the issue of instructions can prevent delay, it is already prevented; but there are still inevitably isolated cases of failure. If my hon. Friend is aware of any cases of excessive delay, and will give me particulars, I shall be happy to have them inquired into.
asked the Prime Minister if he is in a position to state whether the new separation allowances are to be retrospective, and, if so, from what date; whether any other alterations are to be made; and whether he is able to say what war bonus it is proposed to give on war pensions?
I understand that my right hon. Friend the Member for Black-friars will make a statement on this subject after questions.
asked whether it is possible for an officer without private means to live on half-pay?
This is, I suppose, largely a matter of opinion, and depends upon the officer's rank and the calls upon his income; but my Noble Friend will remember that half-pay is not intended to be regarded as an adequate income for an indefinite period.
Apprentices On Enlistment
asked whether applications are received by the special grants committee from mothers of men who were apprentices when they enlisted; whether a grant is made where there was no dependence according to the regulations; and whether the basis of the grant is the wage the apprentice would have received had he been now working as an adult at his trade?
I have been asked to reply to this question. The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the last part, the basis of the grant is the wages the apprentice would have been earning if he had remained in civil life.
Disabled Officers (Maintenance Allowances)
asked the Pensions Minister whether an ex-officer who applies for training and cannot be placed can draw maintenance allowance whilst waiting in the same manner as is possible for the discharged soldier?
The answer is in the negative. The circumstances are very different, and in the case of officers the necessity for this special provision is not found to exist.
Is it not a fact that unfortunately in many cases the ex-officer has only his pension to live on; and has no private means of his own?
That may be so, but the question is whether there is a waiting list and we are not aware of it.
If there is a waiting list, will they get it?
If that state of affairs arises, we shall be prepared to consider it.
Are you training any?
asked the Pensions Minister whether any increase in the maintenance allowances for officers undergoing treatment has been made similar to that recently granted to the men?
No revision of the scale of maintenance allowances for officers undergoing treatment is considered to be necessary. In this connection I may refer my Noble Friend to the answer I gave to the question put to me on the 22nd October by the hon. Member for the Hornsey Division of Middlesex.
Is there any reason why officers should be treated less generously than the men?
I do not think they are treated less generously. As I pointed out in reply to the question, the pensions are put up to the highest rate of the total disablement rate; in addition to that, any maintenance due for treatment is paid by the State.
Alternative Pensions (Delays)
asked the Pensions Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the hardship occasioned to widows and dependants of soldiers reported killed or missing by reason of the delay which takes place in the grant of the alternative pension after the cessation of the separation allowance or other allowances; and whether steps will be taken for the more expeditious consideration and settlement of claims for alternative pensions, so that such pensions may become payable concurrently with the ordinary pension?
The delays referred to are mainly caused by the difficulty experienced in verifying pre-war earnings, owing to the fact that many employed have never kept books or have destroyed those which they had. But if the widow applies immediately after notification of the death of her husband, the claim can be investigated during the twenty-six weeks' continuance of separation allowance. Failure to comply is generally due to ignorance, and steps have been and are being taken, by announcements in the Press, to make the provisions in regard to alternative pensions more widely known.
Why cannot the Ministry of Pensions, seeing that they have got twenty-six weeks during which the separation allowance runs, make the necessary investigation during that twenty-six weeks, so that the alternative pension will start at the close of the twenty-six weeks?
That would mean that we should have to make investigations in every case, whether there was a prima facie case for an alternative pension or not, and it would involve a great deal of additional work for the staff.
I do not mean that. In cases where the widow applies immediately the husband is killed, cannot the Ministry do it in the twenty-six weeks that the separation allowance runs, so that the alternative pension would begin immediately in the twenty-seventh week?
That is precisely what I have just said in another question. If the woman applied directly, we could and should make, and in fact we do make, investigations during the twenty-six weeks.
Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
asked the Pensions Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the case of A. Diwell, late No. 6767, 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry; can he explain the delay which took place in the rectification of a mistake in the matter of this man's pension; is he aware that, as a result, the wife and family of the man were left without means of support for several months; and will he state why, in view of the admission made by his Department that the man's illness was attributable to service, the full pension which has now been awarded to him has been paid to him only from the 31st July last and not from the date of his discharge from the Army?
My attention has been drawn to this unfortunate case, the delay in the settlement of which has been due to a conflict of medical opinion. It has now been decided to regard the disability as aggravated by service and to award full arrears of pension as from the date of discharge. Instructions have been given for the immediate payment of the arrears.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will say whether, behind the published terms of armistice concluded with Turkey, a secret understanding has been come to with that Power relating to the retention of Constantinople and of Armenia?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any condition was made in connection with the terms on which Turkey was granted an armistice by which the position of Armenians was or might be prejudiced; and whether this country at the Peace Conference will be free to advocate terms securing the full liberty of Armenia?
With regard to question No. 17, I have to say that no understanding of any kind has been entered into with Turkey other than the terms of the armistice as published, except that we have agreed that Allied prisoners of war may be handed over to us wherever it can be done most expeditiously, and not necessarily at Constantinople. The answer to the last part of question No. 18 is in the affirmative.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government, when concluding peace with Turkey, will insist, as an indispensable condition, upon the removal of all Turkish sovereignty over the Armenian provinces?
I do not think it a convenient course to announce beforehand what His Majesty's Government will "insist on" when the Powers come to discuss terms of peace at the final Conference. As regards Armenia, it will perhaps suffice to say that we have always regarded the freeing of the Armenians from Turkish misrule as an important part of our Middle Eastern policy, and that we confidently look forward to its accomplishment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say sovereignty as well as misrule?
I think I have gone far enough in dealing with the question.
Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (Liquidation)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state why the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, which is the keystone of the German commerial system in China, has not been put into liquidation; and when it is likely to be so put?
The Chinese Government in August, 1917, immediately after China's declaration of war on the Central Powers took steps to put into liquidation the branches of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank at Shanghai, Tientsin, Canton, and other places in China. Foreign banking experts were appointed by the Chinese Government to assist the Chinese officials entrusted with the liquidation proceedings. His Majesty's Government have, of course, no power to take action themselves in the direction suggested. The Allied representatives at Peking have called the attention of the Chinese Government to the inadequacy of the measures so far taken in regard to enemy property and businesses in China.
Mombasa (Segregation Of Indians)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the policy of segregating the Indian population in Mombasa in a special area was decided on and carried cut by the recent land sale without consulting the India Office; and, if so, why?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the reply which I gave to a similar question by him on the 28th of October.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he declined to answer the question I put on the Paper?
No; if my memory serves me, the question of my hon. and gallant Friend was the same question, but in another form, and it was fully answered.
May I ask definitely whether this policy in Mombasa was or was not carried out without consulting the India Office?
The question was answered in the reply to which I have referred my hon. and gallant Friend.
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether the India Office was consulted or not?
I can only refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer I gave.
I will raise it on the Adjournment to-night.
Employment By British Government
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Richard Starcke, a German prisoner of war, has been appointed to a Government post in Togoland; whether he is also permitted to travel about and do work of a private character; whether even British residents in Togoland have to obtain permits to travel in that Colony; and whether it is necessary to take Germans of any sort into Government employment in either West Africa or elsewhere?
Richard Starcke is a German who was taken prisoner at Lome, in August, 1914. He is employed by the Public Works Department at a small salary, which he is allowed to supplement by private work under the supervision of the Controller of Enemy Property. This work consists almost entirely in repairing enemy property buildings under the Controller's charge. He is not allowed to leave Lome without a permit from the police, which only allows him to travel to a specified destination for a definite period. I am not aware whether British residents also require a permit. The Officer Commanding the British Forces in Togoland states that Mr. Starcke's knowledge of local affairs makes him extremely valuable to the Occupation Government, and in the circumstances I am not prepared to direct that his services should be dispensed with.
Will the hon. Gentleman, in considering future appointments, give due consideration to the grave objection there is both at home and abroad to the employment of Germans in the British Government service?
I agree with the general sentiments of my hon. Friend, but this is a case in which I have given him the view of the officer commanding the British forces, and I see no reason for not acting in accordance with it.
Prisoners Of War
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that parcels sent in as long ago as July last for conveyance to officer prisoners of war in Turkey by the exchange ship were refused by the military forwarding officer at Avonmouth Docks on the 23rd October immediately prior to the departure of the last steamer which could possibly catch the exchange ship; whether he can say why these parcels could not have been examined in the intervening three months to enable any error in packing to be rectified; and whether arrangements can now be made for all these refused packages to be conveyed by some other route to catch the exchange ship?
I am informed that the incident in question appears to have arisen owing to a delay in issuing instructions, which is much regretted; but it does not seem that blame is to be attached to the forwarding officer. Under the arrangements for carrying out the armistice it may be hoped that the prisoners will be released long before fresh parcels could reach them.
Military Hospitals (Women Doctors)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if, having regard to the fact that women doctors serving in military hospitals discharge similar duties, and receive the same pay as men doctors, and are entitled to wear the Royal Army Medical Corps badge, he will take steps to rectify the anomaly of their being refused even honorary commissions or to wear badges of rank which would be helpful to them in maintaining discipline; and if he can arrange that they obtain equivalent relief from Income Tax as is granted to men doctors under the Service rate?
I have been into this question very thoroughly, and find that it is legally impossible to grant commissions in the Army to women. Legislation would be necessary. I should be glad to consider the granting of marks of distinction among themselves.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has any hope of his introducing the necessary legislation this Session; and may I further ask him whether the marks of distinction which he proposes to confer are such as would enable a woman doctor or a woman surgeon to maintain the necessary discipline in order to carry out satisfactorily the work in which she is engaged?
As regards the first part of the question as to the introduction of legislation, I will consult my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. With regard to the marks of distinction, I personally am strongly opposed to the utilisation of the present Army marks of distinction for women, because if a woman has not the qualifications for a commission, it is no good camouflaging her with marks of distinction. I myself prefer the marks of distinction to take the form of the marks of distinction which are given to the administrators and directors of Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Wrens.
Did my right hon. Friend's reply cover honorary commissions when he said it was impossible to grant commissions?
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think legislation, giving these commissions, could go through this House very quickly?
My personal view upon that particular point would be of no value. I have already told my hon. Friend that I will state the case for and against to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Will the right hon. Gentleman go a little further than that and use his best efforts to have legislation prepared and passed through this Session?
Failing legislation, cannot an Amendment be inserted in the next Army Act which would cover this?
That Act, of course, will not come up for reconsideration until March or April next year, and, as I understand the position, the body of opinion in this House seems to be favourable to some speedy action.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of Question 26?
I have already answered that privately to my hon. Friend. It is purely a question for the Treasury.
Could not this desirable and desired legislation be carried through under the Defence of the Realm Act, seeing so much undesirable legislation has been so carried through?
Soldiers Under Nineteen
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he has any statement to make as to why a draft of lads under nineteen years of age was sent overseas from the Gordon Highlanders early in September; and how they came to be sent into the firing line?
The draft in question was due to leave this country on the 30th August, but, owing to a delay, did not cross to France until the 4th September. The men have already been withdrawn from the firing line, and those under nineteen years of age are being returned to England.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that owing to this gross blunder a certain number lost their lives, and there is a very strong feeling amongst parents at this serious breach of faith in sending these lads into the firing line?
I am not aware of any such thing. I do not regard it as a gross blunder. There were military considerations.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that Order applied to recruits in the Royal Air Force? [An HON. MEMBER: "Ireland!"]
I have nothing to do with the Royal Air Force.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Gunner J. F. Newman, No. 174783, aged 19, Penlee battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, No. 2 Fire Command (D. and C.), Cawsand, near Plymouth, has, since 21st May, 1918, been in Rouen, Trouville, Torquay, Derriford, Newhaven, and Cawsand military hospitals, respectively, and that his illness, valvular disease of the heart (mitral), has been confirmed at each hospital; can he state why this young soldier has been moved from place to place instead of being discharged; whether his former employers have made representations that this soldier should be allowed to resume light clerical work; and whether he will give consideration to this case with a view to the boy's discharge?
This case is being inquired into and I will acquaint my hon. Friend of the result as soon as possible.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that notwithstanding the decision of the Army Council at the end of August last not to send soldiers under nineteen years of age overseas, airmen who are under nineteen years of age, and in some cases under eighteen and a half years of age, have been sent overseas so recently as October last; and whether this is in accordance with the intention of the Army Council?
The decision to which my hon. Friend refers applied to the Army only. Having regard to the conditions of overseas service with the Air Force, the Air Council do not consider that it is necessary to make a similar rule.
asked why such delay is being experienced in the release of hay cutters from the Army when the names have been supplied of men available in this country, and they have been recommended for release, and the want of hay is acute at Great Yarmouth and Norwich, and, although there is plenty of hay in the county, it is not available owing to the dearth of cutters, and the horses are bordering on starvation in both the above cities?
Inquiries are being made, and I will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the shortage of heavy draught horses for agricultural work, he will see that at the earliest possible moment all suitable animals at the remount depots in this country are released primarily for use on the farms?
All cast horses suitable for work on the land are offered to the Food Production Department, and those which are not accepted are sold by public auction. As regards horses still fit for military purposes, the requirements of the Armies in France are such that it is impossible to spare any for work on the land.
May I call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that I worded my question quite generally, and that what I wanted an answer to was whether agriculture would have a primary place when there was a possibility of a large release of heavy draught horses from the remount depots?
I cannot say that. That is largely a question to be considered by the Committee on Demobilisation. I will certainly bring that point and other points to the notice of the Committee.
Bacon And Cheese
asked the Food Controller if he is aware that retail dealers in the country are compelled to take bacon and cheese, etc., of bad quality and to pay for the same; that 30 per cent. of the cheese imported into this country is damaged and is sent to retailers as part of their allotment, and that they are compelled to take it and pay for it; and that when retailers return this damaged cheese to wholesalers they are unable in many cases to get repayment of the price paid for the unmerchantable article?
I am aware that the quality of imported bacon and cheese is frequently inferior to that of home-cured bacon and British-made cheese, but there is absolutely no ground for the suggestion that 30 per cent. of the cheese reaches this country in a damaged condition, and I regret that such a suggestion should have been made. Retailers receiving damaged cheese as part of their allotment should return the cheese, not to the wholesalers, but to the Government damaged cheese agents, when they will be credited with the invoice value of the cheese returned.
Do they get any more cheese in its place?
Certainly, if cheese is available.
May I ask whether steps are being taken to provide the people of this country with better bacon than they have been having during the last two or three months?
Yes; steps are being taken.
asked the Food Controller whether millers' offals for chicken food are being retailed at 9s. 6d. per half-bushel, or at the rate of £7 12s. per quarter; and whether, in fairness to the producer, the Government will control these prices so that the price of millers' offals is proportionate to the price of corn?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The price of millers' offals has been fixed since the 7th February, under the Cattle Feeding-stuffs (Maximum Prices) Order, 1918, at £13 a ton ex mill, with certain authorised additions which in no case should exceed £3 a ton. If the hon. and gallant Member will inform me of any instance in which these prices have been exceeded, I will see that proper action is taken.
asked the Food Controller whether all Lincolnshire markets are to be closed against the sale of grading sheep and cattle; whether the action is contrary to the advice of local Commissioners, and whether there has been any resignation in consequence?
I was advised by a special committee appointed by the Central Agricultural Advisory Council that, in order to deal with the present heavy surplus of cattle from the grazing districts, supplies should first be taken from such districts, and that the markets should be closed for local supplies in arable districts. I have consented to this arrangement which in volves the closing of fat stock markets to local supplies in Lincolnshire, with the exception of Spalding and possibly one or two other places, as from to-day for a brief period, and meanwhile the markets in the closed area will be supplied from the adjacent grazing counties. The answer to the two last parts of the question is in the negative.
May I ask my right hon. Friend, for the information of the agriculturists in Lincolnshire, how he proposes that these cattle are to be kept alive? Grass is over, and in some cases there is no accommodation. How are feeding-stuffs to be provided where there is accommodation? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in conjunction with the Board of Agriculture, he will now ask the Priority Committee if further feeding-stuffs can be imported in order to keep these cattle alive?
As to the last part of the question, we are doing everything that we can to increase the quantity of feeding-stuffs. As to the first part of the question, I am quite satisfied that less loss will be incurred by the arrangement which has been made. We made that arrangement on the strength of the advice of the Advisory Council referred to.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider as an alternative the question of increasing the meat ration before Christmas, so as to absorb the surplus that is available?
That matter did not escape our attention, but finally we reached the conclusion that it was better to take a little now than to be absolutely without in the early part of next year.
Why does the right hon. Gentleman preclude Irish cattle that have been fattened during the grass season from being shipped to Great Britain, seeing that there are no means of keeping them in condition from this month onwards, and that in four or five months' time, under the present Regulations, they will be nothing but stores and springers?
We are not in this matter in any way prejudicing the position of Irish cattle supplies, because we are treating both countries alike. It is an action which ought to receive no opposition from the Irish Benches, because, as my right hon. Friend knows, I have discussed this matter at length with representatives from Ireland and an arrangement, which I concluded was satisfactory, was come to.
Are you not wasting the meat that the cattle have on them now?
I must say that in the arrangements which we have made I am satisfied that there will be a greater saving.
Is not the trouble due to the fact that after the disastrous experience you had last year yon have done nothing to increase the feeding-stuffs, and this stock is being wasted?
I would reply that it is simply due to the War.
Gabbari (Alexandria) Military Prison
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that prisoners in Gabbari military prison, Alexandria, Egypt, have been warned that they must not quote scripture in writing their letters and that friends who write to them must not make Biblical quotations; and whether there is a general rule precluding such quotations?
I have no information as to the statements contained in my hon. Friend's question, but will have inquiry made of the military authorities in Egypt and acquaint my hon. Friend of the result in due course.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Private C. W. Kapeller, No. 477205, Royal Army Medical Corps, now in Gabbari prison, Alexandria, Egypt, enlisted in September, 1914, as a non-combatant, went through the Gallipoli campaign as a stretcher bearer, later was fourteen months a stretcher bearer in Egypt, and did duty at the 65th casualty clearing station in Palestine; is he aware that on 23rd February, 1918, this man was sent to Cairo against his will for Infantry training, and was there threatened with trial and the death penalty for mutiny; why was the man after two years and nine months in the firing line court-martialled and imprisoned; whether he is aware that a promise had been made to his parent that Private Kapeller should be sent home; and why has that promise not been carried out?
I am making inquiry into this case, and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.
Royal Air Force
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he can give the percentage of deaths among young soldiers at Blandford Camp; whether they are still living under canvas and rendered liable to cold and pneumonia; whether he is aware that a number of soldiers have died in the camp from these causes; and what action is being taken?
asked the Under-Secretary of State to the Air Ministry whether his attention has been called to the serious state of things existing at the Royal Air Force camp at Bland-ford; whether he is aware that there are, and have been for many months, between 4,000 and 5,000 men at that camp under canvas; that all recruits, irrespective of age or ailment, are sent at once into tents; that ten men sleep in each tent on hard boards; that there are no drying-rooms; that the blankets frequently get wet through and the men have to sleep in them; that a man once wet through has to let his clothes dry on him; that among these men are many men over 40, some of them of the professional class, such as lawyers, university professors, and retired merchants, who have to sleep with rough companions who are frequently verminous; that in one section of the camp are some 2,000 men, all more or less invalids, many suffering from acute rheumatism, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, acute indigestion, and other complaints; that the total death-rate has of late been from 50 to 60 per week; and that, of these deaths, a large percentage has been due to pneumonia following cold and exposure and to other causes not due to influenza; whether he will cause an inquiry to be held immediately into the management of this camp and at once take steps with the view of saving human life and suffering and wasteful expenditure; and will he say upon whom the responsibility rests for the existing state of things there?
As stated in answer to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford on 30th October, the conditions at Blandford Camp have been engaging the close attention of the Air Council. Personal inspections have been made by Sir Humphrey Rolleston, a member of the Medical Administrative Committee, by the Inspector of Hospitals, and by the Medical Administrator. Additional doctors and nurses have been sent there, the hospital accommodation has been materially extended, and the camp has been kept well supplied with all necessary medical stores and equipment.The total number of men who now are, or have been, stationed at Blandford from 21st September to 2nd November, 1918, is 32,593. The total number of deaths has been seventy-eight. Of these, seventy-seven were due to influenza or pneumonia consequent on influenza. The percentage of deaths is, therefore, 24 per cent., and the weekly average 13.5. The average daily number of men under canvas for this period has been 6,611. The number has been steadily reduced, and it is hoped that all the men will be in buildings by to-night. From now on no recruits will be put under canvas. The regulation number of men sleeping in a tent is ten, and in no case have there been more than ten in a tent at Blandford; the usual number is eight. Boards are supplied to all men sleeping in tents. There are ten drying rooms, one for each section of the camp. In huts each man has four blankets; men under canvas have six. Each man has two sets of clothing. If one set gets wet through, he can change into dry clothing and have his wet ones dried in the drying rooms. It is clearly impossible to give preferential treatment to recruits who may have previously belonged to the professional classes. No discrimination is made in this respect. The number of men awaiting invaliding boards, suffering from the diseases mentioned in the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough, is 1,500. These men are now all in huts.
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that at the aerodrome at Wey-hill, near Andover, a two-foot gauge line has been constructed for a distance of about 300 yards on level ground from the sidings constructed at the railway; whether this involves delay of railway goods trucks and the unloading of goods for the aerodrome to the small two-foot gauge stock; if he can explain the reason why a full gauge line should not have been laid for this short distance; and whether it is proposed to now rectify this defect?
A temporary two-foot gauge track, about 600 yards long, has been laid. I am informed that no delay of railway trucks is involved. Apart from the difficulty of procuring standard track, it was not considered necessary to extend, as from whatever point the line might have finished, it would still have been necessary to tranship into two-foot gauge wagons, so that the building materials brought by rail could be distributed on to the site of the buildings under construction. The siding will not be required for the aerodrome after the construction work, which is approaching completion, is finished.
Gallipoli (British Troops)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether any decision has yet been arrived at with reference to conferring upon the British troops who fought in Gallipoli the decoration already given to Dominion troops for that campaign?
asked the Prime Minister whether any replies have been received from the Colonial Governments with reference to the proposals of the Government as to the issue of a decoration for the operations in Gallipoli; and whether he is in a position to announce the decision of the Government on this question?
I regret I cannot at present add anything to the answers given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to questions on the subject on the 17th and 21st October. Replies have not yet been received from all the Governments of the self-governing Dominions to whom the matter was referred.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very strong feeling that exists in this matter in Scotland, and that many gallant Scotsmen played a distinguished part in this part of the War, and will he try to do something to expedite the matter?
Can the right hon. Gentleman promise an answer next week in view of the fact that the Leader of the House promised an answer within a few days?
Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware of the very strong feeling in many parts of England as well as in Scotland, in the districts from where these men come who fought, and will he arrange for this to come under the notice of the Army Council?
I can assure the House that I am very well aware of the feeling, and I will bring the matter to the notice of the Army Council.
asked the Prime Minister whether any steps have been taken, or will be taken, for members of the Graves Commission to visit Gallipoli as soon as possible, so that the graves of British and Colonial officers and men who lost their lives during the operations in that Peninsula may be properly cared for?
As soon as the signing of an Armistice with the Turkish military authorities was announced, instructions were cabled to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Salonika, to form a special Graves Registration Unit for dispatch to the Gallipoli Peninsula at the earliest possible moment. A reply has been received that this Unit will form part of the first military contingent landing there, and will at once proceed to register, mark, and put in order all graves which are identifiable, with the assistance of the records of burial which have been collected and preserved by the Graves Registration Unit, Egypt. Instructions were at the same time sent to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Egypt, to detail officers of the Australian and New Zealand Forces to be included in the Staff of the Graves Registration Unit going to Gallipoli.
Temporary Clerks, Dublin (War Bonus)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War when the temporary clerks in the Army pay offices, Island Bridge, and the Record Office, Dublin, will be paid the war bonus of 1st July last; and if he will take steps to speed up the payment?
There has been no award of bonus which is directly applicable to these clerks, but the question of the grant to them of a further bonus is under consideration, and every effort is being made to expedite a settlement.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether existing cadet schools, battalions, and corps will be abolished when the War ends or within any already ascertained period; if so, within what period after the War; and whether information on this subject will be made public as soon as possible, in view of the occupation of private buildings for housing such schools, battalions, and corps, and in view of the future destination and disposal of the cadets concerned?
I am afraid it is not possible to say at present when officer cadet schools will be abolished, as it must depend on the requirements of the Army. The whole matter is, however, being closely watched, and notice of the abolition of the schools will be given as early as possible both to the cadets and the owners of private buildings concerned.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any notion when he will be able to make a statement?
As soon as I possibly can.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, notwithstanding the endeavours made by the commanders-in-chief of the various expeditionary forces to ensure that all men are considered in turn for a period of leave, cases have occurred in the Notts and Derby Regiment in which men have served for upwards of two and even three years without leave; and will he inquire into such cases?
From information which reaches me, I am sure that all concerned endeavour, as far as is practicable, to consider the claims of all men in turn. I regret that there are cases where men have been overseas for long periods without leave, but this is due, as I have frequently explained, to circumstances of the military situation which it is impossible to control.
British Army, Salonika (Report)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether any dispatch or Report of the operations of the British Army in Salonika prior to the surrender of the Bulgarian forces has been received by the Government; and, if so, when such Report will be published?
We have not yet got a Report.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to when he is likely to get it?
I think within the next week or two; but whenever we do get it there will be no avoidable delay in publishing it.
Hospitals (Consumption Of Liquors)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will supply the House with the particulars, which have already been circulated among the officers in command of military, war, Territorial, and general hospitals and hospitals established by the War Office in Poor Law institutions in the London district, giving the consumption of malt liquors and of wines and spirits by officers and other ranks in the above-named hospitals during the period 26th January, 1918, to 22nd February, 1918, and during the period 23rd February, 1918, to 29th March, 1918, taken out on the basis of 100 patients per day?
I find on further inquiry that these figures are available, and I shall be pleased to circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The following is the information circulated:
|Hospitals.||23 Feb., 1918, to 29 March, 1918.||26 Jan., 1918, to 22 Feb., 1918.|
|Malt Liquors.||Wines and Spirits.||Malt Liquors.||Wines and Spirits.|
|1/London General Hospital||11||92||4||59|
|2/London General Hospital||11||21||11||24|
|3/London General Hospital||—||3||—||3|
|4/London General Hospital||4||7||6||6|
|Queen Alexandra's, Mill-bank||4||32||2||1|
|Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service||1||18||1||1|
|Prince of Wales, Marylebone||17||21||12||50|
|Shepherd's Bush, Orthopædic||32||97||21||93|
|1/London General Hospital||9||13||6||10|
|2/London General Hospital||2||11||2||12|
|3London General Hospital||—||1||—||—|
|4/London General Hospital||3||4||3||3|
|Census and Barracks||2||10||—||4|
|City of London Military||1||1||—||—|
|Fulham Military||No return|
|Grove Road||No return|
|1st Australian Auxiliary||No return|
|New End Military||1||4||1||5|
|Bermondsey Military||No return|
|Albany Military||1||2||No ret'n|
asked the Prime Minister how many cases have been dealt with up to date by Mr. Justice Atkin's Committee which is considering the certificates of naturalisation granted to aliens; and how many naturalised aliens in the country still remain to be dealt with by this Committee?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave to the hon. Member for the Brentford Division on the 31st of October. The number of cases under Section 3—i.e., post-war naturalisation—remaining to be dealt with is about sixty. I cannot give figures as to the cases under the other Section.
Internment Or Repatriation
asked the Prime Minister how many cases of internment or repatriation of enemy aliens have been dealt with up to the present time by Mr. Justice Sankey's Committee; and how many are still on the list waiting for consideration?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The Committee are proceeding rapidly with their work, and the numbers vary from day to day. I cannot at the moment add anything to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for the Brentford Division on Thursday last.
Soldiers' Pay And Bounties
asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to state what further increase it is proposed to make to the pay of sailors, soldiers, and airmen, in view of the pay given to members of the Dominion and Colonial Forces?
asked the Prime Minister whether he can now announce if it is the intention of the Government to grant, on demobilisation, a war bounty to all who have served in the War, on similar lines to those issued on the conclusion of campaigns in the past; and, if so, what will be the amount?
I hope an announcement on this question may be made very shortly.
Minister Of Information
asked the Prime Minister whether he proposes to appoint a successor to Lord Beaverbrook as Minister of Information, or whether, in view of recent developments, it is intended to wind up the Department?
It is not proposed at present to make any appointment to the Ministry of Information.
asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to give relief to leaseholders; and when will it be introduced?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, it will not be possible to introduce such a Bill this Session.
Housing (Government Policy)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for a discussion on an early day on the housing policy of the Government?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for a discussion on an early day on the housing policy of the Government?
I do not think that it is possible to give a day for this discussion during the present Session.
Old Age Pensions
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps, by increasing the maximum income limits for old age pensions, more nearly to equalise the position of new applicants for pensions with that of existing pensioners, the former being now disqualified by an income which the latter are entitled to earn and receive?
I am unable to add to the previous replies that have been given on this subject, both by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the great discouragement to thrift by the imposition of these limits?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can now say that a reduction will be made in the price of the electoral registers?
I am sorry, but that is a question for the Local Government Board.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the recent Debate the late President of the Local Government Board said he would consult the Treasury and give an early answer: this has really arisen from that?
I did not know that, but if the right hon. Gentleman will put the question to me by private notice I will give him an answer. I am sorry for the mistake.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some constituencies the registers are not ready—that is the case in my own Constituency?
No; I was not aware of the fact—
still less that there had been such a bad exception made in the constituency of my right hon. Friend.
Will the right hon. Gentleman also give some answer to question 53, standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork County, West (Mr. O'Leary)?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether paper has been or will be supplied to political organisations for posters for the General Election; and if consideration will be given to the prohibition of the display of posters during the next General Election?
No paper has been, or will be, supplied through the Paper Controller's Department to political organisations for posters for the General Election. The question of prohibiting election posters altogether has been considered. It has, however, been decided to leave to the decision of candidates and their agents the use to which the paper supplied to them through the Department is put.
Am I to understand that the only paper that can be used for posters is the paper supplied to individual candidates?
I should like notice of that question. It is rather difficult.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a Parliamentary candidate who is his own election agent will be entitled to obtain, in addition to the petrol allotted to him as candidate, the quantity of petrol which would be allotted to his agent as such if the agent was another person?
The answer is in the negative.
asked the President of the Local Government Board if he will state what are the numbers of registered male and female voters in England, Ireland, and Scotland, respectively; and the numbers of military voters and voters on the absent voters' list?
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply given to his question on the 17th October. The materials for the Return there mentioned are not yet fully completed; but on an estimate derived from the returns received in respect of upwards of 70 per cent. of England and Wales, the number of male electors for those countries may be expected to be in round figures ten millions, and of female electors seven millions, and of naval and military voters three and a half millions. The question as to the figures for Scotland and Ireland should be addressed to the Scottish and Irish Offices.
When will the hon. Gentleman be in possession of information that will give him the full electorate over the whole country?
That is rather difficult to say, because, of course, the absent voters' lists will be in process of compilation up to the day of nomination, but as far as the figures are available, they are already given.
Does the hon. Gentleman propose to issue a Parliamentary Paper showing the number of electors for each constituency on the printed roll?
That matter will be submitted to my chief.
Has not a Return already been moved for in this House of these figures, and will it be provided?
That does not arise on this question.
asked the President of the Local Government Board by what date after the Royal Declaration dissolving Parliament candidates will have to post their election addresses to naval and military voters in order to ensure their delivery to absent voters before they receive their ballot-papers; whether he will guarantee that at least ten days before that date candidates will have access to corrected addresses supplied to returning officers by the record offices; and what arrangements will be made by returning officers to render possible the copying of the corrected lists by candidates or their agents in sufficient time for them to be of service?
On the first part of the question I would refer my right hon. Friend to the Regulations issued by the Postmaster-General. In regard to the second part, he will see that the giving of guarantees is impossible, but the arrangements which have been made contemplate that as soon as notice of a General Election is given—which will be eight days before the issue of the Royal Proclamation—the record offices will supply as rapidly as possible to the returning officer the latest particulars which they possess as to the addresses of the absent voters entered in their records. These, it is hoped, will reach the returning officers from two to four days from the date when notice is given, and returning officers are being warned to do their utmost to make the particulars available for the agents of the candidates.
Is the hon Gentleman aware that the returning officers are only to be supplied with two lists? How will it be possible for the candidates' agents or representatives, to make copies of those lists in the short time available?
There is only a very short time indeed available under the whole of the regulations and the law itself for this purpose, and we are using it to the very best of our ability.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this House was determined that soldiers should have a chance of recording their votes and of getting the election addresses?
We are trying to do that to the best of our ability, and no one can do more.
Is there any chance of any absent voters having a vote at all?
Undoubtedly. I do not think that question ought to have been put.
Is it not possible to state some day up to which the Postmaster-General can receive the addresses with some chance of them being delivered to the absent voter; otherwise there is no security whatever that the absent voter will get the addresses of the candidates?