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Oral Answers To Questions
18 February 1920
Volume 125

India

Eranchise Rules (Non-Brahmans)

5.

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asked the Secretary of State for India what instructions, if any, have been sent by him to the Government of India or to the Governor of Madras with regard to the framing of the franchise rules governing the representation of non-Brahmans in the province of Madras; and whether an agreement has been reached by the Government of India with regard to the method and amount of representation to be given to the non-Brahmans in Madras?

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My right hon. Friend has sent no instructions either to the Government of India or the Governor of Madras, beyond requesting, them to carry out as speedily as possible (along with other recommendations) the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee contained in paragraph of their Report under the heading "Clause 7" and explaining to the Governor of Madras that in recommending provision for non-Brahmans of "separate representation by means of reservation of seats" the Committee did not intend to recommend the setting up of separate electorates consisting only of non-Brahmans. The Viceroy reported on the 26th January that Lord Willingdon was hopeful of a speedy settlement of the matter. I am not aware whether a settlement has actually been reached.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Joint Committee expressly suggested that the matter should not be left to the Governor of Madras, but dealt with by the Government of India on its own initiative; and that a great deal of unrest has been caused in Madras by the intervention of the Governor of Madras in the very delicate negotiations.

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Who should properly intervene, or more properly intervene, than the Governor of Madras?

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I think it is quite obvious that the Governor of Madras is the proper person.

Financial Relations (Provincial Contributions)

6.

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asked what progress has been made by the Committee on financial relations which is considering the question of provincial contributions to the Government of India in view to the eventual equalisation in incidence of such contributions?

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The work of the Committee is barely begun, and no report of its progress has yet been received.

Officers' Pay And Pensions

7.

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asked when the new rates of unemployed pay and pensions for officers of the Indian Army, Indian Medical Service, and Royal Indian Marine will be published?

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I hope that revised rates of pension for officers of the Indian Army and Indian Medical Service will be settled shortly. Revised rates of unemployed pay are under consideration. I am awaiting the Government of India's views on the question of the revision of the rates of pension for officers of the Royal Indian Marine.

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Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of the date when these new rates of pensions will be published?

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No, Sir.

13.

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asked whether the Government of India intends to bring the pensions of officers now serving, and of those who served during the War, but have been invalided out, or reached the age limit, into line with the increases granted to the Royal Navy and British Army; and whether any further action is to be taken to improve the position of the widows and children of officers killed in action or subsequently dead of wounds and disease contracted on active service?

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The revision of the pension scale of officers of the Indian Army is now under consideration in communication with the Government of India. The question of improving the position of widows and children of deceased officers is for the Ministry of Pensions in the first place; the Royal Warrants on the subject are applied to the families of European officers of the Indian Army.

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Does the Ministry of Pensions here in England deal with the pensions of those in the Indian Army?

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I understand that is so.

British Officers (Shortage)

8.

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asked what arrangements have been made to remedy the shortage of British officers with the battalions of the Indian Army and to give leave to those officers who have for so long been deprived of it.

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A large number of temporary officers have been recruited from various sources to remedy the shortage, and I understand that regular officers are now coming home on leave pretty freely.

Officers' Uninsured Peesoinal Effects (Compensation)

9.

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asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in accordance with the recent Army Council Instruction, compensation will now be given to those officers of the 6th Poona Division whose personal effects, exclusive of military equipment, were removed out of the regimental depot stores by order of the Government of India and sent home uninsured and torpedoed in transit, without any warning having been given to either the officers concerned or their agents as to the removal or shipment of these belongings or any opportunity of insuring them?

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My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. Compensation will be given under Army Council Instruction 27 of 1920.

Mrs Annie Besant (Passage To India)

10.

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asked the Secretary of State for India what were the reasons which induced his Department to grant a passage to India to Mrs. Annie Besant, when there were still a great number of soldiers' wives waiting for passages in order that they might join their husbands in India?

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At the time when Mrs. Besant obtained her passage a certain number of passages had been set apart for military, and a certain number for civilian, passengers. Mrs. Besant belonged to the latter class, and consequently her passage would not have been available for a soldier's wife.

Military Clerks

11.

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asked what steps have been taken by the Government of India to improve the conditions of service of the military clerks on the unattached list employed in the brigade and divisional offices in India?

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The organisation and conditions of service of the Indian Unattached List are under examination by the Army in India Committee. Pending their report the rates of pay have been considered, and it is hoped that provisional revised rates will be announced shortly.

Kabul (Bolshevist Mission)

12.

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asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can give the House any information regarding the Bolshevist mission said to have been sent to Kabul?

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I am aware of the despatch of Bolshevist agents to Kabul. The situation is being very carefully watched both by the Government of India and by His Majesty's Government. I do not think that I can usefully say anything more at the present stage.

Death-Rate

IV.

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asked what was the death rate per 1,000 in British India from the years 1913 to 1919, inclusive?

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The death rate per 1,000 for the years 1913 to 1918 was as follows:

191328·72
191430·00
191529·94
191629·10
191732·72
191862·42

Figures for 1919 are not available.

The exceptionally high mortality in 1918 was due to a severe epidemic of influenza.

Participation In Strikes (Punishment)

18.

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asked what was the number of Indians fined and imprisoned or punished during 1919 for participation in strikes?

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Participation in strikes, is not an offence punishable under the ordinary Indian law. I have no information whether any prosecutions were instituted under the provisions of the Defence of India rules relating to tampering with Government or railway servants or to impeding work necessary for the prosecution of the war. But it seems very unlikely that any such prosecutions were required in 1919.

Massacres In Cilicia

Baltic And Black Sea Forces

19.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state what British naval forces are now in the Baltic and Black Seas, respectively; what naval restrictions on the movements of merchant ships in those seas are in force; and whether His Majesty's ships have taken part, or are taking part, in the fighting between the Bolshevists and General Deniken's forces on the Black Sea coasts?

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The answer to the first part of the hon. and gallant Member's question is—

In the Baltic, four light cruisers, and eight destroyers.

In the Black Sea, two battleships, three light cruisers, seven destroyers, and one sloop.

But in either area the number varies constantly.

As regards the blockade, the policy is as already announced by my right hon Friend, the Prime Minister; but owing to local conditions, there may be some delay in carrying it out in the Black Sea.

As to the last part of the question, our forces have been supporting General Deniken. They are at present employed in evacuating women, children, and wounded, from those regions which are being overrun by Bolshevists.

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Is it a fact that when the Bolshevist Army entered Odessa they were fired on by our ships, and did not this take place just at the time that the Prime Minister was making a pacifist speech in this House?

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In reply to the first part of the hon. and gallant Member's question I have no information; and as to the second part I think his description of the speech of the Prime Minister is singularly inaccurate.

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Are we to understand that the blockade still exists or does it not exist?

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I think the best advice I can give to my hon. and gallant Friend is to listen to my answers.

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In view of the raising of the blockade and the massacres in Cilicia would it not be possible to take some of our fleet from the Black Sea and send it to the Cilician coast to prevent the massacre of Armenians?

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The force we have at present in the Black Sea is fully occupied. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that our naval forces, wherever they are at present, have all the work they can do before them and it would be impossible to detach a portion of them in that way for this particular duty. It would be necessary to send out fresh forces if the duty he suggests were undertaken.

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In view of the change of policy, is it necessary to keep this fleet in the Black Sea?

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Yes. The change of policy has boon effective in the Baltic, but in the Black Sea there must be delay in carrying it out, and until the conditions are altered it would not be possible to detach any part of the force.

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Is our fleet in the Black Sea still under the orders of the Russian Admiral and obeying the orders of General Denikin?

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The Black Sea Fleet is under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean.

36.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the strength of the British Fleet in the Black Sea; whether it is engaged in active operations against any enemy and, if so, whom; and, if not, what is the object of its stay in those waters?

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The strength of the British Fleet in the Black Sea, is—

  • 2 battleships,
  • 3 light cruisers,
  • stroyers, and I sloop.
These vessels are not (engaged in active operations against any enemy, but are employed in support of the British troops at Batoum, in safeguarding the British Mission with General Deniken, and in affording protection to the women, children, and wounded, in districts which are being overrun by Bolshevists. Moreover, I should add that, inasmuch as a state of war still exists between this country and Turkey and Bulgaria, the necessary precautions during an armistice period cannot be relaxed.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we were told the other day by the Prime Minister that the British troops had been withdrawn from Batoum?

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I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong. What the Prime Minister said was that they were intended to be withdrawn, which is very different from saying that they had been withdrawn.

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The Prime Minister said they had been withdrawn. I read the Report very carefully.

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Surely that would be a misapprehension. It has been decided to withdraw the troops and the withdrawal has begun, but it has not been completed, and so long as any remain at Batoum, it is the duty of the Navy to protect them.

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Is it not the case that these ships have been instrumental in saving thousands of lives?

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Very probably so.

( by private notice)

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In view of the gravity of the information which the Leader of the House has given us in regard to Constantinople, what is the earliest date he can allocate for a discussion of the matter, rather than by the very unsatisfactory method of question and answer?

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Docs my right hon. Friend mean a discussion with regard to Constantinople or the Armenian question?

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I mean Constantinople, but of course that links up the Armenian question.

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As regards the Armenian question, we have taken all possible means to obtain information. The amount of information which we have is very small and very unreliable. The best plan of my right hon. Friend would be to put a motion on the paper, and I will see whether it is possible to give time.

Turkish Rule In Constanixople

50.

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asked the Prime Minister if the Inter-Allied Council has decided to maintain Turkish rule at Constantinople, and whether he will arrange that the British public shall receive as much and as prompt information as the French public?

54.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement to reassure the Armenian and Christian people of the Turkish Empire that the pledges and promises given to them will be strictly carried out?

56.

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asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government stand to the pledges they gave during the War, and repeated recently in both Houses of Parliament, that the Armenian and other subject races should be delivered from the dominion of Turkey?

57.

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asked the Prime Minister what part of Armenian territory it is proposed to leave under the domination of Turkey; whether the recent massacres and expulsions of Armenians are sufficient reasons for so leaving those territories; and, if not, whether he will say why the promises made by His Majesty's Government during the War are not to be carried out?

58.

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asked the Prime Minister whether, as part of the treaty with Turkey, he will see that the Christian races which are still loft in subjection are secured the right of carrying arms to protect themselves if their allies in the late War fail to secure them protection?

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I do not think that it is necessary to assure my hon. Friends and the House that the protection of the races referred to in the questions is one of the most vital subjects to be decided in the Turkish Treaty, and the steps necessary to secure that protection are being considered at the Conference, but it is not possible to report from day to day the progress of the discussions now-proceeding. In consequence, however, of the massacres in Armenia, and with the view of putting a stop to them, our representative in Constantinople was authorised to announce that the Peace Conference did propose to leave the Turks in Constantinople, but that, unless the massacres ceased, the decision of the Peace Conference would probably be modified, to the detriment of Turkey.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this leakage of information, which emanated from London, is constantly occurring, and can he take steps to put a stop to it?

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At the very beginning of the Conference that subject was taken up by the representatives of all the Allied countries, who recognised that nothing could be worse for the Peace Conference than that leakage, and we have done our best to prevent it.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how he reconciles the answer he has just given with the reply which he gave to the Noble Lord (Lord E. Cecil) last Thursday, in which he stated that an inquiry with regard to the fate of Constantinople was about the last question he could answer until the whole Turkish Treaty was finished?

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I do not think it is very difficult to reconcile. My own view, and I believe the view of the delegates at the Peace Conference, is that it would be undesirable to make public any part of a Treaty which has been arranged until the whole has been completed. It is very undesirable, for instance, that the Turks should learn one part of it without knowing what the whole is. But, on the other hand, this breaking out of these massacres in Armenia raises another question. We then had to decide whether or not this announcement, coupled with the statement I have made, might not be useful in preventing these massacres.

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Is the Government satisfied that any pressure put upon Constantinople is likely to be effective, seeing that the massacres are being carried out by Mustapha Kamil, a Nationalist leader, and his troops, who do not acknowledge the authority of the Sultan?

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We recognise that it may not be as effective as we desire, but we think it will have some effect, because, to put it mildly, there is some connection between the Nationalist movement and the Turkish Government, and our statement ought to have effect with anyone who desires the continuance of Turkish nationality.

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Does not my right hon. Friend think it would be more consonant with the traditions of the House it the announcement as to the fate of Constantinople could have been made in answer to a question in this House rather than communicated to Admiral de Robeck, and through him to the papers, and reached hon. Members in that way?

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I think there is no ground for any suggestion that there is want either of precedent or of courtesy to the House. The decision to send this message to Admiral de Robeck was taken with a view to preventing these massacres. It was at Constantinople alone that it could have any effect.

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If the massacres are committed, as is now stated, independently of the Central Government at Constantinople, why is the Sultan to be threatened with punishment by expulsion from his capital?

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I think my hon. Friend misunderstands. It is not a case of expulsion. It is a case of the whole Turkish nationality. Our view is that there is a hope that this statement might influence the Turks.

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that the news that the Turks are to be left in possession of Constantinople will be received with very grave disappointment and resentment by many thousands of people in the United Kingdom?

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That is a matter for argument.

53.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will invite the League of Nations to assume the duty of delivering the subject races of Turkey, and of protecting and guiding them until they are in a position to be wholly responsible for their own government and safety?

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I do not think the hon. Member's suggestion is practicable.

War (Official Naval History)

22.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state when the official Naval History of the War and official account of the battle of Jutland will be published; whether the Admiralty have any German official accounts of the battle of Jutland: and, if so, whether they can also be published?

32.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether satisfactory progress is being made in compiling the history of the battle of Jutland; whether any despatches of the German Admiral Von Scheer are being utilised to check the information available from our own official despatches and records; whether any other information has been acquired from German sources as to the demoralising effect of the battle on the German navy; and whether the services of the officer selected by the Admiralty to collate the facts as to the battle are such as to render him thoroughly competent to deal with the task?

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I understand that the first volume of the Naval History of the War, which is being compiled under the directions of the Committee of Imperial Defence, will be issued in about a month. The official narrative of the battle of Jutland will, I hope, be published shortly afterwards. The Admiralty are in possession of a report by Admiral von Scheer, the German Commander-in-Chief, on the battle, and have decided to publish it as an appendix to the official narrative. This report has been utilised to check the information available from our own records. There is a large amount of information, which is constantly being added to, which goes to show that the morale of the German fleet was very seriously shaken. As regards the last part of Question No. 32, I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for giving me the opportunity to defend an officer who, in my opinion, has been most unfairly attacked. The preparation of the official account consists to a large extent in plotting the movements of the ships engaged, from a great mass of evidence available. For this work Captain Harper is admirably qualified, being a navigating officer of the highest standing, besides having hail staff experience afloat during the War.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman's remarks also apply to his assistants?

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Obviously, as regards staff experience, I cannot apply my remarks to all his assistants, but as to their fitness and their claim to be released from this form of attack, I think their case is identical.

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Can my right hon. Friend say in what way Captain Harper has been most unfairly attacked, and where anybody has said that he is not fully qualified to produce a narrative of the battle of Jutland! This is not a substitute for a War staff report?

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There may be a question of interpretation. I should be the last person to desire to interpret the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but certain statements were brought to my notice which Captain Harper felt very much indeed. I considered that they did not reflect upon him, and I said so.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that hon. Members of this House do not write books before they know?

Royal Navy

National Defence (Lord Jellicob's Report)

20.

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asked whether Lord Jellicoe had made any Report to the Admiralty with reference to the problem of the national defence of the Empire: and, if so, whether that Report will be available to Members of the House of Commons?

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Lord Jellicoe has made no comprehensive report to the Admiralty on the Naval Defence of the Empire, that being rather a matter for the Admiralty themselves; but he has made a series of reports to the Dominion Governments on the local problems of Naval defence, including naturally the local aspects of Imperial defence.

As I informed my Noble and gallant Friend last Session, I will arrange that this House is put in possession of information on this subject equivalent to what is published elsewhere; but I think it will be best to issue it here in a single White Paper, and I therefore propose to wait until we know exactly what is being published in each Dominion.

Welfare Committee

21.

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asked whether the First Welfare Committee has concluded its sittings; whether it has made any report to the Admiralty and, if so, whether the report will be available to Members of the House of Commons; and, if so, whether the former recommendations, the recommendations of the First Welfare Committee, and the Admiralty decisions can be set out in parallel columns?

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The Welfare Committee has concluded its sittings, and expects to present a report to the Board of Admiralty in about a fortnight. Until the Board have received the report, I am afraid I cannot say what action may be taken.

Prize Monky

23.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty when the distribution of prize money to the Navy will be made?

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I would refer my Noble Friend to the reply given last Thursday to a similar question by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), a copy of which I am sending him.

Schoolmasters

24.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the number of schoolmasters who have been entered into His Majesty's Navy as a result of the recent Admiralty advertisement; and how many of all the dockyard apprentices or ex-apprentices who have been invited to enter the Navy as schoolmasters have accepted the invitation?

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Under the regulations for the Schoolmaster Branch, it is provided that schoolmaster candidates must have such qualifications as will enable them to undertake the preliminary course of instruction, Recently, applications were received from a number of dockyard ex-apprentices to enter for the 22 weeks' training as probationer schoolmasters. Six of these had completed their apprenticeship some time ago, and had actually had teaching experience. Of the remaining four, all had completed their apprenticeship some time ago: two are Whitworth Exhibitioners, and the other two had continued their education in outside secondary education establishments. These ten candidates have been accepted, and so far as we can see, appear to be quite suitable to take advantage of the probationary training now offered thorn. But we are not at all satisfied that in the case of applicants who have had no teaching experience whatever, the course of 22 weeks can equip them for the specialised and advanced educational work which they will ultimately have to undertake as schoolmasters, Royal Navy. That part of the scheme for training schoolmasters for the Navy is therefore now receiving consideration.

25.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, if he is aware that all naval schoolmasters, except the four head-masters, are in receipt of less pay and allowances than a large percentage of the chief petty officers of the Navy; that of the numerous branches of naval officers those of the schoolmaster branch only do not receive the pay of the rank they hold; and, as the new rates of pay for naval officers were approved in consequence of the changed economic situation, can arrangements be made so that schoolmasters also should receive corresponding rates of pay?

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As regards the first part of the question, no doubt the pay of chief petty officer of the engineer and artisan branches is in many cases in excess of the initial rates of pay of schoolmasters. As regards the second part, schoolmasters are the only warrant officers who do not receive the same rate of pay as other warrant officers, but it must be borne in mind that schoolmasters are given this rank on entry whereas in other branches it is rarely obtained, I am advised, under 10 years' service. As regards the final part, the question of the rate of emoluments for schoolmasters has been before us for some time, and representations on the matter have been made to the Government.

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that not only is the schoolmaster the worst paid of his rank, but he receives no separation allowance, no clothing allowance, no badge money, and no grog money?

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I could not say off-hand, but I will take it from my hon. and gallant Friend.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the pay of the schoolmaster compares as favourably to-day with the pay of the other warrant officers as it did before, the increase to the other warrant officers?

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As I have said, we have the pay of the schoolmasters under consideration.

Royal Fleet Reserve (Peace Retainer And Gratuities)

26.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in accordance with an undertaking given in October last, the Naval Welfare Committee have considered the questions of the peace retainer and gratuities to Royal Fleet Reserve, Class B ratings; and, if so, can he make a statement?

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Although no representative of the Royal Fleet Reserve, Class B, was attached to the Jerram Committee, which sat in the early part of last year, the Committee considered numerous requests affecting them, amongst which were these two points, and made recommendations thereon. These questions having been again raised, it was decided to refer them to the Naval Welfare Committee when it sat in the fall of the year, but in the meantime the Fourth Sea Lord and myself saw a deputation on the 14th November and discussed the increase of peace retainer and gratuities, together with a number of other matters. The reception of this deputation, which directly represented the men of the R.F.R., Class B, obviated the necessity to proceed with the original undertaking to refer these two points to the Naval Welfare Committee. The recommendations on the points raised by the deputation to the Fourth Sea Lord and myself have been considered by the Board of Admiralty, and the decision of the Government thereon is awaited.

Naval Officers (Income Tax)

27.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any decision has yet been come to as to the rate of Income Tax to be charged on the pay of naval officers; and whether, if the full civilian rate is to be charged, provision will be made in the forthcoming Navy Estimates for such increases in the pay of officers as will compensate them for this charge?

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The answer to the first part of the question is that it has been decided by the Government that as from the 1st April next Income Tax is to be charged on the assessable service emoluments of naval officers at the ordinary rates applicable to the rest of the community: and to the second part that no provision of the nature suggested has been made, the principle of charging increased rates of Income Tax having been decided upon when the new increased rates of pay were sanctioned. This decision was promulgated in the Fleet Order as the new rates of pay.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Admiral Halsey's Report with reference to the pay of naval officers it was recommended that if the Service rate of Income Tax were no longer to be charged the question of their pay would have to be reconsidered?

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That: is quite correct, but when the question was finally considered and decided that recommendation was not adopted.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases the Income Tax will very nearly swallow up the whole of the increased pay?

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I do not think so. I have looked through a great many specimen cases myself and that point was considered when we had the whole proposal before us, but there is hardly any case where the description would be applicable. No doubt, when you come to rearrange things, the new rates always adversely affect some of the old conditions.

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Are we to understand that officers serving abroad on long commissions are to be charged civilian rates of Income Tax?

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All officers are on the same rate.

Coal And Oil Fuel (Consumption)

29.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what was the expenditure of coal and oil fuel, respectively, by His Majesty's Navy during the last six months of the year 1919; and what amount of coal and oil fuel is expected to be expended by His Majesty's Navy during the present year?

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I am informed that it has not hitherto been considered advisable to publish figures relating to the Navy expenditure of coal and oil fuel, and I do not think it is desirable to depart from this practice.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Retired Naval Officers

28.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the case of naval officers who had retired prior to the War and who were called out to serve during the War, their pre-War pension has been increased by the amount due to the time so served?

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Retired naval officers who were called out during the War are not eligible to count such service for increase of retired pay, but, in lieu thereof, were granted a bonus of 25 per cent. upon their full pay during service. All such officers, however, are eligible to have their retired pay in respect of service before retirement re-assessed upon the revised scale introduced last year.

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May I ask whether in the case of officers who were kept on the time did not count for an increase of pension, and whether it is not unfair that officers who were last in from the retired list should not be rewarded in a similar manner for similar services?

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My hon. and gallant Friend will recognise that is a highly technical question of which I ought to have notice.

Disabillity Pensions

31.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can yet announce what is the increase of pension to be granted to those who served in the late War and are in receipt of disability pensions only?

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I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the reply given to a similar question by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) on Monday last, a copy of which I am sending him.

Officers' Children (Allowances)

38.

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asked the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can make any statement as to the granting of children's allowances to any rank of officers, Royal Navy, and if he can state the policy of the Admiralty as to married quarters for officers or give any information thereon?

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As regards the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question, I can only say that the grant of an allowance to certain ranks promoted from the lower deck is under consideration. As regards the second part of the question, it is not proposed to provide married quarters for Naval officers.

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Why has the allowance been withdrawn from Naval officers while it is continued in the Army?

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I do not know that any difference exists. I do not think so, but I really do not know.

Royal Dockyards

Chatham

30.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to what has been decided in regard to Chatham Dockyard, as the result, of the deputation to the Prime Minister and the prospect of work in that yard?

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Owing to the great pressure of work in the Constructive Department at Chatham now and for some months ahead, there is no immediate possibility of laying down a merchant ship at that yard. I may add that negotiations are nearing completion for the sale of some sixty acres of ground in Chatham Dockyard to a private firm for mercantile shipbuilding purposes.

Pembroke

33.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the event of Pembroke Dockyard being leased to a private firm, it will be a condition of the lease that the yard shall be maintained continuously at work for the period of the lease to the extent at least of its full pre-war normal capacity as deter-mined by the number of men employed; whether, if at any period enough private work Will not be available to ensure this, the Admiralty will provide sufficient Government work to enable the lessees to carry out the provisions of the lease in this respect; and if he will state what is the minimum term of the proposed lease?

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In the event referred to, it would be proposed to make it a condition of the lease that the lessee should take over our present employees, to be subject thereafter to the usual conditions of wages and service ruling in the industry under private management—less, of course, those established men who may be transferred to other dockyards. It is not proposed to make provision for the contingency referred to in the second part of the hon. Member's question; the terms of the lease are not yet settled, but the period would not be less than 21 years.

Hong Kong

37.

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asked the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can make any statement as to the petition to the Admiralty from the agreement workmen, Hong Kong dockyard; and if the answer to this petition can be expedited?

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The question of the pay of the Home Dockyard workmen serving under agreements at Hong Kong Dockyard, who are paid at rates fixed in local currency, is at present engaging the attention of the Department. I am not in a position at present to make any statement as to the decision which may be taken, but my hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that there will be no unnecessary delay in dealing with the Petition which has been received from the employees concerned.

Ss "River Clyde"

45.

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asked the Prime Minister, why the s.s. "River Clyde" has been sold to Foreigners; why this historic ship could not have been preserved at Malta; and whether nothing can be done to re-purchase this ship for preservation.

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The "River Clyde" was sold by auction because after very careful consideration it was not thought either that His Majesty's Government would have been justified in incurring the heavy expense involved in bringing her to this country, or that preservation at Malta was desirable.

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Could it not have been arranged to reserve the ship for a British firm? Would not the expense of keeping it at Malta have been infinitesimal?

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We thought the best way of disposing of property of that kind was by auction, and that is why it was done. It was a very old ship, and had it remained at Malta it would simply have rusted away and have been of no benefit to anybody.

Merchant Shipbuilding

Colwyn Committee (Report)

34.

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is now prepared to lay the Report of the Colwyn Committee on the Question of Merchant Shipbuilding in His Majesty's dockyards upon the Table of the House?

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It is hoped to lay this Report on the Table of the House shortly.

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Will the Report be available to hon. Members before the Naval Estimates are taken?

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Oh, yes.

Living-In System (London Shops)

39.

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asked the Minister of Labour if his attention has been called to the practical establishment of the curfew system by certain large firms in the neighbourhood of St. Paul's Cathedral whereby the liberty of the subject is seriously threatened; and if he will consider the advisability of introducing a measure controlling and limiting the living-in system?

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No representations have been made to the Department on this mater, but I have seen reports in the public Press. It appears that the particular difficulty has now been satisfactorily settled. Legislation does not appear to be necessary.

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May not a man shut his door when he likes, even if he lives in St. Paul's Churchyard?

Civil Liability Committees

42.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that dissatisfaction is caused to many local civil liability committees owing to their carefully considered recommendations being rejected by the Civil Liability Commissioners without any reason being assigned; and if he can see his way to have this method of procedure altered?

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I understand the hon. Member to mean by local civil liabilities committees, War Pensions Committees. On this assumption, I would state that wherever possible the grounds upon which the decisions of the Civil Liabilities Department are reached are communicated to these committees. All applications are decided in accordance with the Treasury Regulations by which the Department is governed. It is true that the Department is sometimes unable to accept the recommendations of local War Pensions Committees, but this is frequently due to the fact that local committees have failed to recognise that the regulations governing the grants of the Civil Liabilities Department are different from those under which the King's Fund, which is now ended, was operated. Every endeavour is being made to remove misunderstandings on the part of the War Pensions Committees, and they have been assured that where their recommendations are in accordance with the regulations, grants will be made.

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Has the procedure been established which states that if a man has been discharged from the Service 12 months he is not entitled to claim anything from the Civil Liabilities Commission, and docs that apply to men who have been receiving training or treatment?

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I think the hon. Member will find an answer to that question in detail in a reply given on Wednesday or Thursday last week.

Ministry Of Labour (Appointments Department)

43.

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asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the urgent need for placing every ex-officer, or men of similar accomplishments, in employment, he can state how many of these men have secured employment through the Appointments Department of the Ministry during the past 60 days; how many are still awaiting employment; and what efforts are being made to place the balance in positions at the earliest possible moment; and can he state to what extent has the scheme of placing these men through Members of this House been successful?

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3,868 men of the class referred to by the hon. Member have been placed in employment by the Appointments Department during the last eight weeks, 635 of this number having been placed in the week ended 13th February, 15,817 ex-officers and men are still on the books of the Department as unemployed. The efforts which are being taken to place these men in employment include the canvassing of individual firms, advertisement of the work of the Department in the public press and elsewhere and addresses to Chambers of Commerce and other representative bodies of business and professional men. At the present time special efforts are being made to set up, generally throughout the United Kingdom, additional special Employment Panels of business and professional men, to interview and advise all candidates for employment. These panels, which have been in full operation in the London district for more than two months, and have already been formed in twenty-six other towns, are proving of great use in finding employment for candidates. The scheme of placing men through hon. Members resulted in the issue to employers in the London district by fifty-three Members of some 2,000 letters, as a result of which at least seventy-five men have been placed in employment. I venture to take this opportunity of asking all Members to do all that lies in their power to assist the scheme and to interest others in the work.

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Why is it that only London M.P.'s have been asked, so far, to co-operate in this work? In view of the fact that the methods adopted in the London area appear to have been so eminently successful cannot the right hon. Gentleman see his way to apply it throughout the whole country?

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That is my intention. We made a beginning in London and the success undoubtedly justifies a continuance and extension of that procedure.

Employers' Roll Of Honour

44.

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asked the Minister of Labour (1) if he will consider the advisability of subdividing the roll of employers who, in answer to His Majesty's appeal, have co-operated with the State in the matter of providing employment for disabled ex-service men according to towns and districts; and if he will cause such rolls to be posted in some prominent place in every town and district; (2) what steps have been taken to give such publicity to the national roll in connection with the scheme for the employment of disabled ex-service men that the names of those firms which have, and of those firms which have not, co-operated with His Majesty's Government in this matter may be universally known?

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The names of the employers inscribed on the King's National Roll have been arranged under counties in the first issue which is now almost ready for publication. The Roll will be made available at Free Libraries and other public places throughout the country. I shall be glad to consider the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member in connection with the issue of the next edition.

In answer to the hon. and gallant Member's second question I have to say that the first edition of the King's National Roll is at present being printed and copies will be available within the next two or three weeks. It is proposed to distribute copies to all employers on the Roll and to other persons and organisations interested, as well as to make the Roll available in Public Libraries and other public places. Copies of the Roll will also be placed on sale.

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Is it possible to put them up in the Post Offices?

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I will consider whether that is feasible.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman also arrange to put up a list of employers who have not redeemed their promises to men who joined up?

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They have yet to be discovered.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the expediency of adding a list of the trades unions which have boycotted returned soldiers?

Profiteering Act

46.

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asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to introduce an Amending Bill to the Profiteering Act; if so, when; and whether any steps are in contemplation to make this Act more effective?

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I have been asked to reply. As indicated in my answer on Monday to questions, by the hon. Member for Hertford and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Bradford, I hope to introduce an Amending Bill at an early date.

Parliamentary Elections

47 and 48.

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asked the Prime Minister, (1) if he is now prepared to make an alteration in the procedure of elections whereby the long delay between the polling and the counting of the votes can be eliminated;

(2) if the intentions of the Representation of the People Act as regards absent voters would be fulfilled if an opportunity of filling up a proxy was offered to each member of His Majesty's forces on going abroad on duty for any length of time?

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The various Government Departments concerned are now considering this question and will report immediately. I cannot therefore make any statement to-day, but I hope to be able to do so by the end of next week.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making an exception in such a case as the Wrekin Division of Shropshire, where, apart from the Absent Voters' List, the result has always been a foregone conclusion?

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I cannot accept the statement of fact in the last part of the question. I do not think it is possible to make exceptions. We must have one rule.

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Will any other suggestions which have been made in connection with an amendment, of the Representation of the people Act be considered so that the whole can be dealt with together in one amending measure?

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If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will let me know what especially he refers to I will consider it, but my impression is that this change can be made without legislation.

Peace Treaty

Zeppelin's (Surrender)

49.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are now in possession of indisputable evidence that the seven Zeppelins which should have been surrendered by Germany under the Peace Treaty have been deliberately destroyed; what steps are being taken in the matter; and whether the attention of the German Government has been directed to this and other instances of the wilful destruction of German national assets, in connection with their application to the Allied Governments for a reduction in the amount of the indemnity imposed on Germany by the Peace Treaty?

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No information has been received by His Majesty's Government with regard to the matter referred to in the first part of the question. The second part does not, therefore, arise. As regards the last part, any action by the German Government which is likely to result in a breach of the Treaty of Versailles and which comes to our knowledge is at once brought to the notice of the Council of Ambassadors, with whom it lies to warn the German Government.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman ascertain whether there is any ground for the suggestion in the Press that these Zeppelins have been destroyed?

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There is a Commission at Berlin, on which the Air Force is represented, to deal with this kind of case. I think we can trust to it letting us know if there is any foundation for such a statement.

Neutral States (Paetition)

51.

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asked the Prime Minister whether any neutral state will be partitioned during the present secret conference of London?

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I can add nothing to what has already been said in reference to the publication of information with regard to the conference.

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When may we expect open diplomacy in all these matters?

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Never, I hope, in the sense the hon. and gallant Gentleman means.

Summer Time

52.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has come to any decision with regard to the permanent adoption of Summer Time in this country; and whether, before taking any step, he proposes to make inquiry into the working of the change?

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I have been asked to reply to this question. Summer Time was the subject of a very full inquiry by a Departmental Committee after its first introduction in the summer of 1916. No fresh considerations of importance have arisen since that inquiry, and I see no occasion for a further inquiry. As I stated in reply to a question on 4th August last by the hon. Member for the Henley Division, the Government believe that the general feeling is strongly in favour of the continuance of the system, and it is their intention to propose legislation for the purpose of making it permanent.

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If it is the intention of the Government to propose legislation, why do they continue this in the War Laws Emergency Bill?

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When is it proposed to put this system in operation, and will the right hon. Gentleman, if the question is still under consideration, have regard to the representations of those concerned in the agricultural industry?

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Yes, all questions are considered.

Military Stores Abroad

55.

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asked the Prime Minister whether any Allied country within whose territory British military and other stores are lying awaiting disposal have placed any export, duty upon such stoles if sold in that country for foreign export; if so, whether this restriction greatly retards the sale of such stores by the Disposals Board; and whether representations have been made to such Allied Governments urging that such regulations may be modified?

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No export duty has been levied in these cases. As regards ordinary Customs duty leviable on goods imported, arrangements have been made with the Allied Governments concerned to any a commuted rate in respect of surplus stores sold. These arrangements compare very favourably with the rate leviable under the ordinary tariffs, and so far as can be judged have not retarded sales.

Amritsar Incident

60.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he proposes to give an early opportunity for a discussion on the Amritsar incident?

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until the report of the Committee now sitting in India to inquire into this matter has been received it is not possible to consider this question.

Disabled Ex-Service Men

Unemployment

62.

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asked the Minister of Labour if more than 30,000 disabled ex-Service men are registered as unemployed; and if he will consider the advisability of issuing such a comprehensive statement in regard to the difficulties of his department in the matter as will give hon. Members of the House sufficient information upon which to base their consideration of the best means of grappling with the problem?

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The number of disabled ex-Service men on the registers or the Employment Exchanges at 6th February was 30,653. I am hopeful that, consequent upon the settlement of the moulders' dispute, the number of disabled men for whom employment has still to be found will decrease substantially in the near future, and that further improvement will result from additional efforts that are to be made to promote the success of the national Scheme for the employment of those men, when, within the next two or three weeks, the first edition of the King's National Roll is available. As regards the general causes of unemployment among these men, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to a comprehensive statement which was made in answer to a question asked by the hon. Member for Kirkdale on 22nd December.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman cause inquiries to be made as to the demonstrations of disabled ex-Service men, with a view to ascertaining for what length of time the individuals concerned have been unemployed?

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I shall be very glad to do anything in my power to assist in obtaining employment for any disabled men, but I do not think it is practicable to discover the men who are in the streets, and to ascertain the conditions of each man's case.

Vocational Training

67.

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asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there are about 100 discharged disabled men in the county of Wilts awaiting vocational training; that many of these men are on 20 per cent. to 70 per cent. pensions, and have not yet succeeded in obtaining work; and what steps he proposes to take in view of the fact that the out-of-work donation of these men will cease next month.

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The figure given in the first part of the question is approximately correct. Every effort is being made to place these men in training and prior consideration will be given to individual cases of hardship that may arise out of the cessation of any man's out-of-work donation.

Mansfield Registrarship

74.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Mansfield Board of Guardians advertised in the papers for applicants for the position of registrar for births and deaths, stating that preference would be given to ex-service men, but although several ex-service wounded men applied for the position, a person has been appointed who has not been in His Majesty's Forces; and will he take the necessary steps to cancel the appointment and instruct the guardians to appoint a person in accordance with their advertisement?

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The facts referred to in the question have already been brought to my notice and efforts have been made to induce the guardians to appoint an ex-service man to the office in question. The matter is, however, one for the guardians, and no powers are available under which the steps suggested in the last part of the question could be taken.

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Is it not a fact that the guardians have not kept faith with their promise, which was distinctly made, that preference would be given to ex-service men, and will not this set a very bad example to private employers in regard to the employment of ex-service men? Is there any course which the right hon. Gentleman could take with a view to cancelling this appointment, which is contrary to the advice given by His Majesty the King and the Government department?

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I entirely agree with my hon. Friend as to the deplorable eflect of this example, and if I had any power to intervene, under the circumstances I would.

Out-Of-Work Donation (Scotland)

65.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that ill many of the smaller urban centres in Scotland out-of-work donation continues to be paid to ex-soldiers who cannot find employment locally, and who have; not sufficient means to allow of their travelling to the bigger industrial centres; and whether, with a view to reducing the national expenditure on this unproductive donation and securing the more rapid return of ex-soldiers to productive work, he will favourably consider the institution of travelling grants, to be administered by the local authorities to men in search of work?

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According to my information, the obstacle in the way of the employment of ex-service men in the circumstances described in the question is the lack of housing accommodation in the industrial centres, rather than any inability to pay travelling expenses. The railway fare charged to an ex-service man travelling to take up employment found for him through an Employment Exchange is reduced to one-half the ordinary rate, and the amount of the fare thus charged may be advanced by the Exchange in proper cases, and subsequently repaid by the workman or his employer. I think these arrangements are working satisfactorily in providing means of travel.

Woolwich Arsenal (Discharged Men)

66.

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asked the Minister of Labour if he can state the percentage of the unskilled and semi-skilled men discharged from Woolwich Arsenal since the Armistice who have been found fresh employment?

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There are no figures available which would enable me to answer the question of my hon. Friend.

Housing

Lnterst On Loans

70.

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asked the Minister of Health whether the amount necessary for payment of interest on loans for housing schemes will have to be raised by the local authority, in the first instance, by means of the rates; and what are the provisions made by the Government for the repayment of such expenditure?

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Interest and other charges will be paid by the local authority out of its housing receipts which comprise rents, rates, and exchequer subsidy. Advance payments on account of Exchequer subsidy will be made half-yearly, on application from local authorities, at such times as are suitable in view of the dates at which various payments by such authorities in respect of loan charges are due.

Local Authorities (Default)

75.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he now possesses adequate powers to compel lethargic authorities to build houses where these are urgently needed; and, if so, whether he proposes to exercise these powers?

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I would refer my hon. Friend to the terms of the Housing, Town Planning, &c., Act, 1919, under which I am empowered to authorise county councils to act, or may act myself, in default of local authorities who do not take adequate steps to provide the houses needed in their areas. I have for some time been pressing backward authorities to expedite their schemes, and it is my intention to use my powers where this is necessary.

Census (1921)

72.

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asked the Minister of Health whether any proposals are to be submitted to Parliament in connection with the Census of 1921?

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Yes, Sir. I hope to introduce a Census Bill at an early date.

Registrar-General's Department

73.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he proposes to reorganise in any way the Department of the Registrar-General; whether, in connection therewith, it is proposed to increase the charge for certificates of births, marriages and deaths, and, if so, can he state what the proposed new charges will be?

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The reorganisation of the Registrar-General's Department has been receiving my close attention, but I have not had in contemplation any increase in the statutory foes payable by the public, which would, in any event, require legislation.

Maternity Homes

76.

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asked the Minister of Health what action is being taken by his Department to promote the establishment of maternity homes by municipal authorities?

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The Local Government Board and the Ministry of Health have for some time pressed upon local authorities, both in general circulars and in individual letters, the importance of the provision and maintenance of maternity homes, and have obtained Treasury sanction for a grant of half the approved expenditure on these purposes. A memorandum has just been issued and will be placed on sale, giving guidance as to suitable plans and equipment and so forth, of which I am sending a copy to the hon. Member. During the last year or so about 25 such homes were established by municipal authorities, and about 20 by voluntary bodies, who, as a rule, received financial assistance from local authorities. Many similar homes have been planned and are likely to be established in the near future.

Food Supplies

Milk (Dispute In South Wales)

( by prirate notice)

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asked the Minister for Food, whether he was aware that during the past 24 hours the milk producers in the South Wales area have ceased to supply the milk wholesalers, and whether in view of the serious consequence of this Act to densely populated areas affected he will intervene and call a conference, of the interested parties?

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I regret that by an accident I only received notice of this question a few minutes ago: but my attention had already been called to the fact that at the present moment there appears to be an extensive strike of milk producers in South Wales, and in Glamorgan, Monmouthshire and some other counties very large portions of the milk supply are at present being withheld from distribution. I am fully alive to the seriousness of the situation, and I will have inquiries made; indeed, I had already directed inquiries to be made.

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Is the hon. Member aware that a very large number of wholesalers have repudiated the prices which have been fixed by the Food Controller, and have fixed prices of their own, and that the milk producers have declined to fall in with those prices?

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The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. It is not a question of prices fixed by the Food Controller. As I understand it, this is a dispute between the Welsh producers of what is a reasonable price.

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In view of the seriousness of the position, will the hon. Member expedite the inquiries, and not confine them to communications which never come to an end?

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Yes. As promptly as possible inquiry will be made.

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Are we to understand that Bolshevism is spreading amongst the farmers?

President Wilson's Despatch

Supreme Allied Council (Reply)

( by private notice)

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asked the Leader of the House whether there is any truth in the statements appearing in the public Press to the effect that a harsh and uncompromising reply had been originally drafted to President Wilson's dispatch, but that this reply had been subsequently changed as the result of representations made by Lord Grey, the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

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There is not a shadow of foundation for any such suggestion, and, indeed, I think it hardly necessary to say that there is not a single representative of any of the Allied Powers at the Conference who does not recognise the supreme importance of a good understanding with the Government and the people of the United States.

Notices Of Motion:

Imprisonment Of Service Men

On this day fortnight, to call attention to the continued imprisonment of Service men, and to move a Resolution.—[ Mr. Griffiths.]

Control In Matters Agricultural

On this day fortnight, to call attention to regulations regarding control in matters agricultural, and to move a He-solution.—[ Mr. Cautley]

High Prices And Profiteering

On this day fortnight, to call attention to the question of high prices and profiteering, and to move a Resolution.—[ Mr. J. A. Parkison.]