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Commons Chamber

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 8th November, 1921.

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

Oral Answers To Questions

India

Married Officers

1.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any further information to give the House regarding the position of the married officer in the Indian Army, and the recognition of brevet rank, so far as pension is concerned?

As regards the first part of the question, I am not in a position to add anything to the answer I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Devizes on the 22nd July last, of which I will send my hon. Friend a copy. The question of the recognition of brevet rank for pension purposes should he addressed to the Secretary of State for War, the rules for the Indian Army following those for the British Army in this respect.

Is the status of the married officer in India now receiving consideration, or has the question been shelved?

I would rather that my hon. and gallant Friend gave me notice. My impression is that a promise was given that the question would be considered when a permanent scale was being arranged. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will give me notice, or I will write him on the subject.

Press Legislation

2.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can now state what action the Government of India have taken upon the Report of the Press Legislation Committee?

A Bill based upon the Committee's recommendation was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on the 15th September.

Amritsar Shooting

Sir

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the assessors appointed in that behalf have dealt with the claims put forward on behalf of those who lost their lives at Jallianwallah Bagh; and, if so, with what general results?

Trade Unions

4.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, considering that many of the so-called trade unions in India are stated to be little more than strike committees, and in view of the acts of violence and intimidation which have characterised a large proportion of the disputes in which these committees have been concerned, it is the intention of the Government of India to proceed with legislation for the purpose of giving legal status to trade unions in India, and to define the law of agency in such a way that no act could be made the ground of a claim on trade union funds unless it was definitely proved that the governing body had sanctioned the act; and whether, having regard to the difficulty of obtaining definite proof in a country like India, and to the fact that the majority of these loose organisations publish no accounts and assign no functions to their governing body, he will consider the question of the unfairness to the rest of the community of either legalising picketing or of putting these so-called trade unions outside the law?

The Government of India are considering the lines on which legislation should be undertaken for the registration and protection of trade unions and are consulting local governments with a view to submitting proposals. Pending receipt of actual proposals for legislation. I feel it would be premature to discuss the tentative conclusions on which the Government of India are cot suiting local governments.

Is the question justified in saying that many of these trade unions are little more than "strike committees"?

Seditious Leaflets (Indian Army)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for India what steps have been taken to put a stop to the circulation of leaflets in India tampering with the loyalty of the Indian Army; how many of the authors and printers of these leaflets have been prosecuted and with what result; and whether any of those who signed these leaflets have been allowed to go free?

This matter has engaged the close attention of the Government of India and local governments. I understand that the only leaflet of this nature that has come to notice has been proscribed under Section 12 of the Press Act. There were no signatures on the leaflet, though a few names were mentioned in it out of a very large numbers who are reported to have signed the "fatwa," extracts of which the leaflet purported to reproduce. The Press at Delhi, which printed the leaflet, has been ordered to give security, but has failed to do so, and has ceased working.

Colonel Aitken

7.

asked the Secretary of State for India if he can now state what form of recompense it has been decided to give to Colonel Aitken, whose conduct in East Africa was vindicated a year ago and who for several years has suffered owing to his not being employed?

Colonel Aitken is being permitted to retire with effect from 26th May, 1918, namely, the date on which he attained the age of 57, on the maximum pension of his rank, and is being granted the honorary rank of Brigadier-General on retirement.

Railways And Transport Service

9.

asked the Secretary of State for India what action, if any, is being taken by his Department or the Government of India to hasten orders for machinery, materials, etc. required for railway and transport service in India of a nature which at present cannot be manufactured in India now that the value of the rupee has more or less stabilised; and whether there are considerable arrears of orders usually placed in this country, due to unstable currency values, during the past two years?

It is the case that, owing to unfavourable financial conditions of which exchange is only one factor, it has been found necessary in recent years to restrict railway expenditure to a lower amount than might otherwise have been deemed desirable, but orders have been, and are being, placed for machinery, etc. up to the limits of the funds allotted for expenditure on the services concerned.

Can the right hon. Gentleman do anything to encourage orders from India in order to give work to men who are unemployed in this country?

I am very anxious to do everything in my power to develop the resources of India. If some arrangement of mutual advantage to both countries can be devised I shall he only too delighted to do everything in my power to facilitate it.

10.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is in a position to make any statement as to the policy of the Government or of the Government of India which will give effect to some of the proposals contained in the Report of the Committee set up to inquire into the position of Indian railways; whether any limit of time has been put to the period of consideration by the Government of India in view of the urgency of some of the recommendations?

I am not yet in a position to make a statement as to the policy arising out of the recommendations of the Indian Railway Committee. I have asked the Government of India for their general views on the Report, and it will be necessary to take the opinion of the Indian Legislature. I do not think it would be reasonable to impose any definite time limit for consideration but I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I have been, and am now, in constant telegraphic communication with the Government of India on the more urgent matters reported on by the Committee with a view to action as soon as possible.

Government Printing

11.

asked the Secretary of State for India how much money is each year spent by the Government of India and by the Provincial Governments upon printing; whether, if the habit of having each and every memorandum, minute, order, telegram, or other document printed was reduced, not only would a considerable financial saving be effected, but the secrecy and confidential character of official documents might be proportionately respected: whether a committee has been inquiring into the organisation and system of Government Departments in India; and whether this matter may be specially considered?

The recent Government of India Secretariat Procedure Committee, while recognising that Indian conditions necessitate official printing on a larger scale than in England, made certain recommendations for economy, which the Government of India have endorsed. Special steps are taken to secure secrecy for confidential documents. The total expenditure on Government presses in India in the current estimates is roughly 75 lakhs, this figure including cost of staff, material, and stores. I would point out that the estimates of the Government of India and the several Provinces are now subjected to close scrutiny by the respective legislatures.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that no documents printed in India can be regarded as absolutely secret and that the only way in which documents can be kept secret is by having them type written?

Agitators (Birthplaces)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali and the four others who it is reported have been convicted and sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment are by birth subjects of British India or of native states; if the latter, of what states; and what is the birthplace and parentage of Mr. Gandhi?

Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali are by birth subjects of the State of Rampur in the United Provinces. All the other accused are described as residents of places in British India. Mr. Gandhi's father was the Diwan of the State of Porebandar in Kathiawar.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of deporting Gandhi to his native State, to see whether that native State can deal with him?

Moplah Rebellion

13.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the situation in Malabar shows as yet any sign of improvement or otherwise?

I have not for some days past received any general review of the position. On the 27th October the Government of India reported that the General Officer Commanding the Madras District was satisfied with the situation, but needed more troops, which were being sent, in order to bring the operations to a close as soon as possible. The last received reports cover the four last days of October, and indicate that the troops and police are actively engaged in locating and capturing the rebels, who are still offering resistance, whenever they are met. In view of the difficulty of the country and the absence of communications, it is obvious that the complete pacification of the district must take time.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the communiqué issued by the district magistrate on the 4th of November stated that a refugee, with ghastly wounds in the neck, had seen 50 Hindus beheaded and their bodies thrown into a well? Has he no information about this?

I think that it would be more courteous if the Noble Lord had given me notice of a question of detail of that kind. I have stated to the House over and over again that there have been the most shocking atrocities committed by these rebels on loyal Hindu fellow subjects.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of all the communiqués which are published in the Press, which are issued by the district magistrate? Do not all these things come to his notice in the ordinary course?

To the best of my recollection every official telegram containing news on the subject of Malabar received in my office has been published, whether they are communications which have been issued in India or are reported by Reuter by the ordinary cable. There have been several telegrams from both sources reporting atrocities by the Moplahs. I cannot say offhand whether I have seen that particular telegram or whether it was an official communiqué.

In view of the violence of these crimes, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability, according to precedent, of offering the Moplahs Dominion Home Rule?

Ex-Service Men

Icdia Office (Legal Advices Department)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for India if a Mr. H. A. Painter, a non-service man, was engaged by the India Office Legal Advices Department in September last at a salary of £200, rising to £250 per annum; if at the time of his engagement by the India Office he was in other employment; why no notification of the vacancy was posted on the staff side notice board in accordance with the promise given at the Departmental Whitley Council, and in consequence no member of the staff knew of, or had the opportunity of applying for, the vacancy; if he is aware of the fact that suitable unemployed candidates are available from ex-service men's associations; and what action he purposes taking in this matter?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Chelsea on 2nd November. I believe it is the case that Mr. Painter was in employment up to the date of his appointment to the India Office. The arrangement for notifying vacancies was meant for posts tenable by persons already members of the India Office Establishment, but the special object of this appointment was to obtain a man with outside experience of a special kind. I do not know what action the hon. and gallant Member contemplates.

I am particularly anxious, in making appointments in my Department, to consider the claims of ex-service men. If there is any feeling that anything prejudicial to their interest has been done I shall be glad to receive a deputation.

Small Holdings, Scotland

37.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the Government has decided to treat applications for small holdings from ex-service men received after 1st March, 1921, as in the same category as others; if so, when this decision was reached, and when and in what manner it was brought to the notice of possible ex-service applicants; whether he is aware that many ex-service men have delayed their applications under the impression that there was no need for haste in view of the fact that thousands of their comrades who have made their applications three or four years ago have not yet gat holdings and whether he will suspend the,decision until all possible ex-service applicants have had adequate notice of it?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The decision of the Government on the subject was reached in January last, and was intimated by notice in the Press on the 13th of that month. With regard to the remainder of the question, my right hon. Friend is not aware that the position is as stated by my hon. and gallant Friend, and he cannot- undertake that the decision will be suspended?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many ex-soldiers have just left hospital and that they will be deprived of the benefits of this particular Act?

No, they will not be deprived of the benefits entirely. They will certainly lose their advantages under the Regulations as drawn on 1st March, but they can still tender an application.

But is it not a matter of fact that they will not be considered as ex-service men if they apply now, and that they will be deprived of the benefit of ex-service men merely because they have been in hospital?

Mental Treatment Institutions

43.

asked the Minister of Pensions the total number of lunatic asylums approved of by the Ministry of Pensions for ex-service men and the number of such approved institutions which are run for private gain?

Approximately 240 institutions are under the control of, or have been approved by, the Board of Control and the Ministry, and of these more than 60 are private establishments.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me, without notice, how many institutions there are other than pauper asylums and private licensed asylums approved of by his Department?

Government Departments (Dismissal Notices)

56.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many disabled ex-service men are under notice of dismissal in each of the various Government Departments?

The number of disabled men who are at present under notice of discharge from Government Departments in London is, as far as can be ascertained, 126. This figure does not include those engaged in an industrial or manipulative capacity, in respect of whom information is not immediately available. With the permission of the hon. Member, I will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Except where the employment is of a casual character, the cases of these men are still under consideration, as a result of which a considerable proportion of them will certainly be found employment in other branches of the Departments in which they are engaged. In addition a smaller number of disabled men have received warning that one month after the date on which the warning was given they are liable to receive one month's notice of discharge. The same observations apply to these cases.

Will the hon. Gentleman promise to do what he can for these unfortunate men? Will he cancel all notices of dismissal of disabled ex-service men while there are any non-service men and women being employed on the same work in the same Department?

It is impossible, consistently with the smooth and efficient working of the process of substitution, to give the undertaking to which my hon. Friend refers. He may rest assured that the special claim of disabled men is a matter of considerable concern to the Government.

May I ask whether the discharge of these 126 disabled ex-service men is one of the first-fruits of the application of the. Anti-waste League?

The following are the details promised by Mr. Young:

Admiralty62
War Office11
Post Office9
India Office9
Food Department8
Ministry of Labour6
Department of Overseas Trade6
Disposal and Liquidation Commission5
Air Ministry4
Ministry of Agriculture3
Department of Inland Revenue3
126

58.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, in Block C of the Disposal Board, 25 ex-service men and a war widow have received notice of dismissal, while 13 men and women without war service are being retained; and will he inquire into the matter?

I have made inquiry into this matter, and have ascertained that of the 13 non-service personnel referred to, three are being substituted by ex-service men, four are permanent civil servants, and the remaining six are juniors, engaged on elementary work, whose retention has recently been agreed to by the Departmental Substitution Committee, which includes the ex-service men's representative.

British Army

Bands (Civilian Engagements)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the Musicians' Union, which represents over 90 per cent. of the professional musicians of this country, and which strongly objects to the unfair competition with them of military and service bands, agreed to waive this objection provided Army bands were not allowed to undercut the rates that had been agreed upon between the members of the Musicians' Union and their employers; that his representatives concerned at the War Office met representatives of the Musicians' Union and gave this undertaking, and also agreed with them as to the minimum rates Army bands should charge when quoting for engagements in competition with professional musicians; that, despite this honourable undertaking, the agreement was broken by his representatives without any further consultation or communication with the representatives of the Musicians' Union who were loyally carrying it out; and that Army bandmasters are now allowed to quote any terms they think fit when canvassing for civilian engagements; and whether he will take steps to have this undertaking carried out in future?

I beg to refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring on 3rd May last. That answer indicated that Army bandmasters are not allowed to quote any terms they think fit, but are bound to charge fair rates which shall in no circumstances undercut civil bands. If the hon. Member will be good enough to bring to my notice any instance in which it is considered that these explicit instructions have been violated I will at once have it investigated.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that instances have been brought to the notice of his Department?

No, I am not. If my hon. Friend will give me notice of any instances I will look into them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman state what other useful purpose the officials of this particular Department serve, except to warn the public of the confusion and unrest that would be caused in the labour world if they interfered in every other trade and profession in the same way?

15.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that, notwithstanding the present abnormal unemployment in the country, the proprietors of the West Pier, Brighton, have discharged their permanent orchestra and are engaging relays of military bands in its place on the grounds that these bands, are much cheaper than those composed of professional musicians, and this notwithstanding the fact that the professional musicians concerned have offered to accept reductions in their salaries of 18s. and 20s. per week; whether he has considered the effect such unfair competition would have upon the present labour unrest if his Department allowed military units to compete in the same way with every other trade and profession in the country; and whether he proposes to abolish this unfair competition, or at least see that the rates agreed upon between professional musicians and their employers are not undercut by Army bands?

I have been asked to reply to this question. The Royal Air Force band was engaged by the proprietors of the West Pier, Brighton, at a fee which is considerably in excess of that for which civilian bands are obtainable. I am informed that the engagement followed the completion of a 3½years' contract and was entered into by the proprietors owing to their wish to revert to the pre-War practice of engaging service hands.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that many of these men are compelled to draw unemployment pay from the State because things like this are happening?

They are already employed by the Army in one capacity. Why should they compete with civilians outside their military duties?

War Medals

17.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any decision has been arrived at regarding clasps for the medals in commemoration of the great War?

Surely some decision can be arrived at three years after the War? Many of the men entitled to these clasps will be dead, otherwise.

I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that a decision will be reached as soon as possible, but it is a very important matter and a very expensive matter, as he realises, and I must ask that time he given to the consideration of it.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the granting of the British war medal to troops engaged in the United Kingdom, consideration will be given to the personnel manning anti-aircraft guns and searchlights in Kent, Essex, and London, many of whom were in action against enemy aircraft on more than 50 occasions?

As already stated in reply to previous ques- tions, it was decided, after the fullest consideration, that a War medal should not be granted for Home Service, with the exception that the British War medal should be awarded to the personnel of Coast Defence batteries actually engaged with hostile vessels during the War.

2Nd County Of London Yeomanry (Headquarters)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that on the occasion of the use of the headquarters of the 2nd County of London Yeomanry in Elverton Street, Westminster, by the Australian Forces during the late War a very definite agreement was entered into regarding compensation to be made for such use of the premises; that the amount of such compensation was definitely and finally agreed by the officials of the Australian Forces with the parties concerned at £1,766; that since June, 1919, when the War Office took over all liabilities in connection with the property under arrangements made directly with that Department, and including the payment of the sum of £1,766, it has been found impossible to secure any satisfaction of the claim notwithstanding innumerable reminders sent on the subject; and that the continued delay of the War Office in effecting a settlement of a definitely agreed amount of compensation is likely to cause still further expense to the public through a further claim now being in course of preparation to cover the subsequent period; and whether instructions will be at once given that immediate settlement of the first portion of the agreed amount, namely, £1,766, is to be made?

I have ascertained by reference to the Australian Force authorities that the amount claimed as compensation by the Territorial Force Association, namely, £1,766. was not considered or agreed to by them. On the contrary the claim, which was in the form of an estimate, was passed by the Australian Force authorities to the War Office without comment on the day after receipt, namely, on 28th August, 1919. On examination, the War Department found it necessary to reduce the estimated claim to £1,334, which amount covered both the period of occupation by the Australian Forces and the subsequent period of occupation by the Navy and Army Canteen Board, referred to in the last part of the question. The local military authorities proposed settlement at £1,334 to the Association in February last, but this proposal was refused. I regret the delay that has occurred in dealing with the case, which is a very complicated one, and if the Territorial Force Association are now prepared to accept £1,334, without prejudice to further consideration of the matter, payment will be made forthwith.

Is it not the case that all the delay which is occurring increases the liability of the War Office?

War Graves

The following question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:

"20. To ask the Secretary of State for War if he can see his way to make representations to the War Graves Commission that they should provide for the insertion of the soldier's age on the official record and not in the limited space reserved for relatives' inscriptions."

This question has been postponed, by request. When will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give a reply?

The Imperial War Graves Commission is meeting shortly, I think next week, and after that I shall be able to announce a decision.

Macgregor V Lord Advocate

16.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the case of Duncan Gregor Macgregor V. the Lord Advocate and another in which Macgregor sued for damages sustained by being run down by a motor car belonging to the War Department; whether he is aware that this action failed solely because of the theory that the Crown can do no wrong; whether his attention has been directed to the observations of the judges in the Second Division; whether he is aware that Macgregor is one of a family of nine brothers, all of whom served in the War; that he is very severely and permanently injured; that he has been so far put to very heavy charges for medicine and surgical treatment, and that his medical career has been seriously interrupted: and whether, in all the circumstances, as no action can lie in Law, he is prepared to consider an ex gratia allowance to Macgregor?

The opinions of the judges in this case were directed solely to the question whether an action for compensation for injury can lie against the Crown. It is not the practice of the Department to rely on its legal immunity and to refuse to pay compensation for injuries which have been caused by the wrongful acts of its servants. But in the present case, which has been carefully investigated by the Department, I am advised that the driver of the motor car was in no way to blame for the accident, and I am not prepared to make an ex gratia allowance to Mr. Macgregor.

Is it actually the case that the same practice obtains in Scotland as in the rest of the country, and is it not rather the fact that in Scotland there can lie no action against the Crown, whereas in England the Treasury defends these cases on behalf of the service, and a case is actionable?

I am afraid that is a legal question which I am not competent to answer.

Could my hon. and gallant Friend tell us how, without trial, he can state definitely to the House that the driver of the vehicle was not to blame?

Because the whole of the circumstances of the case were inquired into.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this case has been not only before the ordinary Courts in Scotland, but before the Appeal Court, and that the decision of the judges was solely as to the question that the Crown could do no wrong, and that they, in giving their decision, remarked on the hardship to this man, who fought right through the War, who was one of nine brothers who fought, and that the judges regretted that he had not the access to the law that the ordinary citizen had?

Is not the question of the responsibility of the driver a matter for the Courts, and not for the War Office, and will the hon. and gallant Gentleman not see that the matter is brought before the Courts, so that the Courts will have an opportunity of giving a decision on the legal question?

My information is that the whole question was inquired into carefully. The driver was held not to have been responsible.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Northants Regiment (Private S Peters)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will inquire into the case of Mr. S. Peters, late No. 3937, private, 1st Northants Regiment, who enlisted in 1893 and, after serving in India, fell sick, and suddenly, whilst on guard, became deaf and dumb; is he aware that this man was discharged with a pension of 7d. per day for 18 months and beyond this has had no pension at all; that he is a married man with five little children dependent on him; and will he take steps to have the proper award of pension, with arrears, paid to Mr. Peters?

I am informed that Private Peters was discharged medically unfit with the pension and in the circumstances stated, but it is necessary also to point out that he had served in the Army for six years only, and that in the opinion of the medical authorities his disability was not caused or aggravated by military service or climate. Private Peters' records indicate that he was married after discharge and when already suffering from his dis- ability. I much regret his circumstances, but the case is not one where an equitable claim to further assistance from Army funds can be made out.

Pensions Refused

44

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the refusal of Appeal Court 23 to grant a pension to Mrs. Wadsworth, of St. Agnes Mount, Leeds, was clue to the failure of the local doctor in the first instance to recognise her son's illness as due to Addison's disease; and whether, as there is evidence to show that the deceased soldier was suffering from this fatal but rare disease on discharge and continuously thereafter until he died, he will have the inquiry reopened?

The appeal of the mother of the late Private Thomas Wadsworth, Labour Corps, 281399, was heard on the 1st instant by a pensions appeal tribunal sitting at Leeds. After giving the fullest possible consideration to the evidence of the appellant and that contained in the documents, the tribunal came to the conclusion that the appeal mast be disallowed. The fact that the local doctor in the first instance failed to recognise deceased's illness as due to Addison's disease in no way affected the decision. The tribunal were not satisfied upon the evidence that the disease commenced during service. Section 8 of the War Pensions (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1919, provides that the decision of a tribunal shall be final.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether this young man was employed in the building industry?

53.

asked the Minister of Pensions, in regard to the case of Hugh Ralph, Bridgeton, reference No. 1/MR./2952, whether the medical board appointed by the Ministry definitely found that the soldier was suffering from disability due to varicose veins which had been aggravated by service, although it was doubtful to what precise degree it had been aggravated; whether the pre-War doctor of the soldier certified that to his knowledge he did not suffer from varicose veins before enlistment and his general health was good; on what medical grounds did the Ministry upset the finding of its own medical board and refuse the pension; whether it is the practice of the Ministry to reject the findings of its own medical boards without expert medical advice obtained after a fresh examination? and whether any further medical examination was made before the case was submitted to the appeal tribunal?

This man was discharged from the Army early in 1915. It was not till March, 1920, that he applied for a pension on account of varicose veins. The medical board which examined him said that the disability had been aggravated by service, but added, "it is not clear if the present degree of disablement is due to aggravation from service or post-demobilisation." The Ministry had to consider all the relevant facts before granting pension. They rejected the claim, and their rejection has been upheld by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal. whose decision is, by Act of Parliament, declared to be final. I may remind my hon. Friend that entitlement to pension is not solely a medical question, a fact which has been recognised by Parliament in the composite character of the statutory tribunals by whom appeals against rejection are heard and decided.

I did not quite catch the answer. Did the medical board which examined the man find definitely that his disablement had been aggravated by service, although it was uncertain to what degree the aggravation amounted?

There is a distinction between assessment of pension and entitlement. It is no part of a medical board's duty to consider the question of entitlement; its duty is to assess.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that I did not ask any question about entitlement at all? I asked merely whether the board did find, as a matter of fact, that the man's disablement was aggravated by service?

My hon. Friend could not have heard my answer. I said that the medical board which examined the man said that the disability had been aggravated by service, but added "it is not clear if the present degree of disablement is due to aggravation from service or post-demobilisation."

Hong Kong (Treatment Of Children)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received any report from the Commission set up in Hong Kong in reference to the system of mui tsai; and, if not, when he expects to receive a report?

I presume my hon. and gallant Friend refers to the Commission recently set up by the Governor to enquire into the industrial employment of children in Hong Kong and which bears no special reference to muit sai. Its report has not yet been received, but I understand that it should be available shortly.

Is there any intention whatever of moving in reference to muit sai in Hong Kong? Surely the buying and selling of children under the British flag ought to be abolished?

If I have heard my hon. and gallant Friend rightly I do not think he could have appreciated what I said in my reply, which was that the question into which the Commission was to inquire had no reference to the question of muit sai, on which, as he knows, there is a great deal to be said.

Proletarian Sunday Schools

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the seditious doctrines taught in the proletarian Sunday schools, which undermine the youth and adults of this country by the teaching of revolution, rebellion to the Crown, and such teachings as that Christ is a failure; whether there is any legislation under which these schools may be closed; and, if not, whether the Government will consider the desirability of introducing legislation which will enable them to do so and abolish this source of danger to the Constitution?

My attention has been drawn to the existence of such schools. There is no power to close them, and I am afraid I cannot hold out any hope that legislation will be undertaken.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in these schools ethical doctrines are taught as sound as any doctrine could be?

In view of the teaching in these schools, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it is important to have a special branch of the police to deal with them?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the songs sung in these Sunday schools is, "England, arise!"

Police Court Clerks (Press Commun Ications)

27.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that on a recent occasion the chief clerk of a Metropolitan Police Court communicated to the newspaper Press, in his official capacity, on a controversial matter such as licensing hours and drunkenness; and can he take any steps to stop such practices?

I am making inquiries, and will communicate further with the hon. Member.

Police Pensions

Sir

asked the Home Secretary whether a person who served during the War in a police force attached to a Government munition factory would be entitled to reckon such service as approved service for pension under Section 10 (iii) of the Police Pensions Act, 1921?

Weymouth Institute

asked the Home Secretary whether he will have a full inquiry conducted by non-official people into the management and conduct of the new Weymouth Institute, alias Portland Prison, where the boy Bucking ham committed suicide and other attempted escapes have occurred?

The Medical Inspector of Prisons and Dr. Pearson, who has special experience of Borstal inmates, visited the Portland Institution last week, and, in consultation with the Visiting Committee, inquired into the arrangements of the institute and the medical care and treatment of the inmates. I hope to have their report shortly. I also hope to visit the institution very shortly with my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. I will then consider whether any further inquiry is necessary.

In view of these two suicides—I understand since my question was put down there has been another case—and the number of attempts to escape from this institution, would it not be possible to have an independent inquiry?

I have told the hon. and gallant Member I intend to visit the institution, and I will consider whether it is necessary to have an inquiry. As far as the attempted escapes are concerned. I do not attach great importance to them. Our system is to give the boys a great deal of freedom in order to try to develop their sense of honour, and, of course, you will get cases of attempted escapes. As to the cases of suicide, that, of course, is an entirely different matter.

Can you combine the Borstal system, which is intended to give a certain amount of liberty, with Portland Prison, which was established and organised for quite other purposes?

Yes. The girls have been most successful in the Ailesbury Convict Prison for some time.

Disturbances (London)

30.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the fact that a ticket meeting under the auspices of the British Empire Union, held at the Central Hall, Westminster, on the 28th October, was broken up by a Communist and Sinn Fein mob who gained admission by forged tickets, the principal speaker, the Earl of Derby, being howled down and prevented from speaking, while German stink-bombs were thrown among the audience, the platform being ultimately stormed and the Union Jack torn down and trampled on to the accompaniment of the singing of rebel songs; whether any of those who broke up the meeting have been apprehended by the police; whether he is taking any action to prevent law-abiding citizens from being attacked by seditious mobs; and whether it is with his approval that the Sinn Fein flag receives police protection in London but not the Union Jack?

It was understood that admission to this meeting was to be by ticket only, but a party of police patrolled outside and was augmented at 8 p.m. At 8.50 p.m. the officer in charge was informed by the Secretary to the Central Hall authorities that men inside the building were attempting to storm the platform and damage the flags, and he feared that some persons would be assaulted. The officer in charge immediately entered the building with his force of police, ejected the ringleaders, and the others left. No persons were arrested. The duties of the police are confined to entering a building when called upon to prevent breaches of the peace, or to arrest persons charged with offences for which there is power to arrest. The police take action in the streets to prevent law-abiding citizens being attacked, whether by seditious mobs or any other person. The suggestion at the end of the question is unfounded.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain then, why a man was recently arrested in Whitehall for seizing a Sinn Fein flag and no one was arrested when the police were called into this hall where a mob was engaged in tearing down and trampling underfoot the Union Jack?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is a fact, that the followers of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) a short time ago, entered a public hall where a labour meeting was being held and mobbed the meeting and assaulted the speakers with the approval of the hon. Member and his friends?

34.

asked the Home Secretary whether the police have carried out any investigation to ascertain who was responsible for the recent encounter between the police and the unemployed in Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, and as to who was responsible for breaking up the recent meeting of the British Empire Union at the Central Hall; if so, with what result; do their investigations disclose the payment to certain individuals of sums of money to produce these results; and, if so, from what sources, both in these and other cases?

The Commissioner of Police is of opinion that the disturbance in Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus was a spontaneous outbreak on the part of the procession when they learned they would not he allowed to proceed to Trafalgar Square to hold a meeting. I have dealt in reply to a previous question with the disturbance in the Central Hall. The police believe that that disturbance was engineered by Communists, but they have no evidence of what particular person or persons were responsible, or of the payment of money to any persons.

What is the use of keeping up this expensive Department?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it was publicly stated in the Press that aliens were responsible for the encounters in Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, and also for what took place in the Central Hall, and has he any evidence to substantiate that?

What is the use of this expensive Department if it cannot prevent occurrences of this sort?

St Andrews Mental Hospital (Northampton)

31.

asked the Home Secretary whether it has been brought to his notice that the Lunacy Board of Control have been informed of allegations made against the administration of St. Andrew's Mental Hospital, Northampton; and whether, in face of the fact that the general public are at present much exercised about the management of mental hospitals, particularly private ones, he will order a very strict inquiry to be made into the matter?

A number of complaints have been made to the Board of Control as to the dismissal from this institution of certain officers, and in connection with these some general allegations have been made in regard to administration. The Board have informed the complainants that they have no power to intervene between the Committee and their servants, but that they would give careful consideration to any complaints as to the treatment of patients which might be brought before them. The hospital was visited and thoroughly inspected by two commissioners on the 16th and 17th May last, and they reported that the institution continued to be very well maintained, that all the patients were seen and were found to be properly and kindly cared for.

Police (Waterproof Suits)

33.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider providing police constables on point duty with white overalls or oilskins, such as are worn in certain cities in the country?

An improved waterproof suit is being introduced for the use of men on point duty in wet weather. White overalls are not considered suitable for point duty under the conditions of London traffic.

Before coming to a final decision in the matter, will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into what is done in the City of Manchester, for instance? I understand the police there wear white overalls when on point duty.

May we not have exemption of Members of Parliament for overrunning people?

Scotland

Teachers Superannuation

35.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the education authority for Scotland has in two of the cases after-mentioned refused, and in the other two cases has indicated that they are about to refuse, to pay the lump sum payable under their superannuation scheme of 1919 to retiring schoolmasters, to Duncan McNaught, J.P., LL.D., Kilmaurs Parish, Ayrshire, Thomas G. Meldrum, Kilmuir Easter, Ross-shire, John Thomson, New Spynie, Elgin, and Thomas Wilson, Roberton, Roxburgh; that these four are the four surviving parochial schoolmasters appointed, ad vitam aut culpam, prior to the Education Act of 1872, who, in the case of Mr. McNaught and Mr. Wilson recently retired, and in the other two cases are on the point of retiring, having fulfilled the duties of their offices till about the ages of 77, 76, 76, and 75 years respectively; that the ground of the said refusal is that they did not ask for leave to teach after reaching the age of 65; that in respect of their life appointments no such leave was necessary or, if necessary, they could not be expected to know of the need of such leave, it not being brought to their notice in connection with a superannuation scheme instituted many years after they each had reached the prescribed age of 65; and whether he will recall the decision or cause the education authority to recall their decision above stated?

The facts are substantially as stated in my hon. Friend's question. The refusal, however, in the two cases to which reference is made was not based solely on the ground that is indicated, but took cognisance also of the discretionary powers vested in the Department by Article 20 of the Superannuation Scheme. It did not appear to the Department to be either necessary or expedient to award benefits under that scheme to teachers who, after enjoying their full emoluments for some ten years beyond the normal limit, are now drawing from public funds superannuation allowances equal in amount to two-thirds of their full salary at retirement. I can therefore only reply to the last part of my hon. Friend's question in the negative.

Does not the hon. Gentleman see that these men saved the ratepayers' and taxpayers' money by serving until they were 75 or 77 years of age, and that he is actually penalising them for doing their duty by giving them less than other teachers who retired at 65 years of age?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Duncan McNaught is the greatest living authority on the important subject of the life of Robert Burns, and was it not greatly to the public advantage in Scotland that he should have gone on for this extra number of years teaching the children of Scotland? Why is he penalised?

I am fully aware that Mr. Duncan McNaught is one of the greatest authorities on Burns in Scotland.

I have no doubt that was in the mind of the Department when this was refused.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these four teachers are survivors of the old Scottish system of education, which gained for Scotland a reputation in educational matters that even all subsequent legislation on education has not been able to destroy?

Wheat And Oats (Subsidy)

36.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been directed to the uncertainty still existing in the minds of farmers in Scotland as to the payment of the £4 per acre of oats under the Corn Production Acts (Repeal) Act in cases where there has been a change of tenancy; whether it was the intention of the Government that the whole sum of £4 should be paid in respect of this year and no part in respect of the next three years; and what will be the result where a valuation in assessing the value of the way-going crop has taken no account of this payment and no mention of it was made in the submission to him?

My right hon. Friend is aware that some uncertainty exists, although Section 3 of the Corn Production Act, 1917, contains specific provisions as to the persons entitled to receive the payment referred to in cases where there has been a change of tenancy. The payment is made solely in respect of the crop of 1921. As regards the last part of the question, my right hon. Friend can only refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statutory direction as regards assessment of compensation contained in Sub-section (1) (b) of the Section already cited.

Committee On Rating (Report)

38.

asked the Secretary for Scotland when a report from Lord Dunedin's Committee on Rating in Scotland may be expected?

I understand that the Committee have not finished hearing evidence, and I cannot yet state when the report is likely to be completed.

France And Turkey

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether the terms of the recent agreement between the French Government and the Turkish Nationalist Government of Angora have been communicated to His Majesty's Government; whether they will be laid upon the Table of the House; and what steps have been taken to safeguard opportunities for British enterprise and commerce in the. territories handed over to Turkish control.

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The question of the official publication of the agreement is dependent on the permission of the French Government, who are being consulted. The only territory handed over to Turkish control which would not have come under such control under the Treaty of Sevres is a strip of territory along the north Syrian frontier in which no British commercial interests appear to be involved.

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the repeated statements that very valuable exclusive concessions have been promised to French capitalists, and is the situation being watched from the point of view of English capitalists?

My hon. and gallant Friend asked me a question about a particular strip of territory, and I have confined my answer to that.

Does not my question refer to the recent agreement, and is the Government satisfied that British commercial rights are not infringd in the other parts of Turkey under the agreement?

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether he expects the answer of the French Government as to the publication of this Treaty before the rising of the House?

Is not a part of the Bagdad Railway now a part of the frontier in question, and therefore are not British commercial interests affected?

Post Office

Air-Mail Services

40.

asked the Postmaster-General if, in order to assist British civil aviation, he will take steps to make an issue of aerial postage stamps?

I am considering how far wider publicity can be given to existing air-mail services with a view to increasing public interest in the traffic; hut, as at present advised, I do not think that the issue of a special postage stamp would have the effect desired by the hon. Member. A blue air-mail label, to be affixed to air-mail correspondence, is already issued on application at all head and branch post offices. Letters can be posted for the air mail in any letter box and at any time; and it would obviously hamper the free use of the service if only air-mail stamps could be used.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that already in France they are issuing special aerial postage stamps and that it has been very helpful to the service?

I shall be glad to consider that, but I hope my hon. Friend will also consider the point I have put.

West Of England Mails

41.

asked the Postmaster-General if his attention has been drawn to the injury to the interests of the trade of Liverpool, and consequently to employment, in that city, caused by the recent fixing of 4 p.m. as the latest hour for posting letters and circulars to the West of England; and will he alter the hour so that it may at least be possible to convey by mail the closing quotations of the Liverpool corn and other markets and the cable news received during the afternoon?

There has been some misunderstanding. Before the 3rd of October the time of posting at Liverpool for letters sent via Bristol for Certain places beyond, to secure the first morning delivery, was 4 p.m. On the 3rd of October the railway company instituted a train between Crewe and Bristol which appeared to justify a later despatch from Liverpool. The time of posting was therefore extended from 4 p.m. (or 4.30 with late fee) to 5.45 p.m. (or 6.15 with late fee). It was subsequently found that the new train frequently did not keep time and that the connection with the first morning delivery could not be relied upon. The Postmaster of Liverpool thereupon issued a notice to this effect in order that merchants and others might be aware of the risk involved in the use of the supplementary despatch. The attention of the railway companies has been directed to the inconvenience caused by the late running of the train.

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to obtain a later delivery for these important letters and thereby assist trade and employment in the Port of Liverpool?

That is the point on which I am still negotiating with the railway company. If they can keep the train up to time it will be possible to give the later delivery.

Circulars

42.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that post offices have refused to allow paper-maker's circulars to be sent at the special printed paper rates, because the circulars had printed on them, "This is a sample of our paper"; that firms are thereby being handicapped in their efforts to push trade; and whether he can see his way to order that such circulars are not to be treated as samples?

I am aware that post offices have refused to allow circulars to be sent at the special printed paper rate because the circulars had printed upon them "This is a sample of our paper." Under the published Regulations, samples are not admissible at the printed paper rate, and I cannot hold that these patterns, which are described by the senders as samples, are not such, nor can I alter the Regulations to admit samples of paper, but no others. The answer to the first part of the question is, yes, Sir. As these papers are admittedly samples, I cannot agree not to treat them as such.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they are not admitted as samples?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman's question states that the circulars had printed on them, "This is a sample of our paper."

Peace Treaties (German Reparation)

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether the arrangement is concluded and has been approved by the French Government and Germany for the payment in kind of 7,000,000,000 marks reparation to France; what are the terms; and was the British Government consulted?

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer must refer my hon. Friend to the White Paper on this subject promised in his answer of the 24th October to the hon. Member for Newcastle East (Major Barnes), which will, I understand, be available to-day. As the hon. Member will see from the White Paper, the French Government have, in accordance with the terms of the Agreement, submitted it for approval to the Reparation Commission, who have in turn referred it to the Governments represented thereon.

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what fund have the German payments of £5,444,000 for coal, £38,704,000 for costs of Army of Occupation, and £4,368,000 for ships been credited; what is the total amount of German reparation payments due to Great Britain under the Treaty of Versailles; when the next German reparation payment is due; and what are the amounts payable to the Allies and Great Britain, respectively?

With the permission of the hon. Member, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will circulate his reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT, as it is inevitably somewhat lengthy.

The following is the reply:

Of the sum of £5,544,000 received in repayment of the advances under the German Coal Deliveries Agreement, £5,500,000 has been appropriated in aid of the Vote for advances under that Agreement and the balance has been paid to the Exchequer. (My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer regrets that the figure of £5,444,000 given in his reply to the hon. and gallant Member for the Central Division of Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 18th ultimo was inaccurate, the correct figure being £5,544,000.) Out of the sum of £38,704,000 received up to the 30th September last on account of this country's claim for cost of armies of occupation, the, sum of £6,413,000 has been paid into the Exchequer as "special receipts," and the balance is being held by the Treasury in a Suspense Account pending payment to the Exchequer on the final ratification of the Financial Agreement signed at Paris on 13th August last. The sum of £4,368,000 is receivable hereafter in respect of ships sold; when received it will be paid into the Exchequer.

The Reparation Commission fixed at 132 milliards of gold marks (subject to certain adjustments) the total amount to be paid by Germany for reparation. The Treaty provides that the amounts received are to be divided by the Allied and Associated Governments in proportions determined upon by them. The British Empire proportion was fixed by the Spa Agreement at 22 per cent. of the receipts from Germany, the remainder being distributed as follows>:—France 52 per cent., Italy 10 per cent., Japan 75 per cent., Belgium 8 per cent., Portugal 75 per cent., and 6·5 per cent. was reserved for Greece, Roumania, the Serb Croat Slovene State and other powers entitled to reparation which were not signatories of the Agreement.

The Reparation Commission prescribed by the Schedule of Payments of May last that Germany was to pay to the Reparation Commission a fixed annuity of two milliard gold marks and a variable annuity equal to 26 per cent. of German exports, both in quarterly instalments, to provide for interest and Sinking Fund payments in respect of the Bonds to be delivered by Germany to the Commission by way of security for and acknowledgment of her debt, and issued as therein provided. The quarterly instalment of the variable annuity which is due on 15th November is estimated to be covered by deliveries in kind and receipts under the Reparation (Recovery) Act. The next payment due, therefore, is the sum of 500,000,000 gold marks (being the third quarterly instalment of the fixed annuity) which is due on 15th January next. On the assumption that the British cost of occupation will have been covered by that date, this sum will be payable to Belgium in respect of her priority.

Civil Service Estimates (Capital Outlay)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to reducing public expenditure in any one year, he has examined the Civil Service Estimates from the point of view that, as at present framed, considerable expenditure by, for instance, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Board of Works is capital expenditure, which should be spread over a number of years instead of being a charge upon the current revenue in a single year; whether he will consider the desirability of framing the Budget more in accordance with business principles in this respect; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made as to whether the efficiency and up-to-dateness of the Admiralty dockyards, for instance, would be improved if this method were introduced; apart from the main issue of relieving the taxpayer from paying in a single year for items which represent capital outlay, and should therefore be met by special short-term loans of, say, five to ten years?

The question of the form in which the Budget is presented, and in particular whether expenditure of a capital nature should be met from loans and not from revenue, has frequently been discussed in this House. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is certainly prepared to consider the question anew and will bear in mind the hon. Member's suggestions. He must, however, point out that alterations of form of the kind suggested do not in themselves reduce public expenditure by one penny, and do not reduce the amount of cash which the Exchequer has to find in any given year. Moreover, the loan commitments of the Government in the near future are already so heavy as to make it very doubtful whether it would be wise to add to them.

With regard to the last part of the question, which the hon. Gentleman has not answered, will he say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will appoint a Committee of Inquiry into the Admiralty dockyards with a view to ascertaining whether the results which I have indicated in my question would not be obtained?

No. My hon. Friend will hardly expect me to give an undertaking of that sort in a matter which is occupying my right hon. Friend's attention.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the efficiency of the Royal dockyards cannot be improved?

German Goods (Import Duties)

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Customs duty which is levied on goods from Germany is, in the case of invoices which are expressed in marks, levied on the current exchange value of the mark or on the actual value of the goods?

In the case of all goods liable to an ad valorem duty the statutory value is based on the price which an importer would pay for the goods delivered at the port of importation, and in practice, in the absence of any suspicion of bad faith, is calculated on the invoice price. If this is expressed in foreign currency it is converted into sterling at the rate of exchange current on the date on which the importing ship is reported under the Customs Act.

Does this.not mean that the greater the depreciation of the mark, the smaller the amount of duty which the hon. Gentleman will get on any given article?

Rosyth Naval Base (Housing)

50

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the heavy annual expenditure on railway fares and convenience money for Rosyth workers who cannot find housing accommodation in the vicinity of the dockyard, he will consider favourably a grant from the Treasury for the purpose of building a specified number of houses in Rosyth next year?

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer feels bound to await the Report of the Committee on National Expenditure before giving a decision on this question.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that every year he is spending about £100,000 on train fares and convenience money, and that he could build 100 houses every year for the same sum? Why not take the long view and get to work?

Unemployment

State Expenditure

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to lessening the burden to the tax- payer during the present trade and business depression, he will consider the desirability of spreading the total expenditure on unemployment, voted in the Supplementary Estimates during this Session, over a period of five to ten years, raising a special short-term loan for this purpose?

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks it is essential that we should meet current expenditure out of current revenue.

Income Tax Summonses

57.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been drawn to the large number of people who are out of employment and are being summoned for the non-payment of Income Tax; and whether, in view of the great distress that exists throughout the country and the inability to pay the tax through unemployment, he will issue instructions that every latitude be given before summonses are issued, and so prevent this additional cost to the taxpayer?

The hon. Member is, I think, under a misapprehension. The number of cases in which persons, who are in fact unemployed, are summoned for the non-payment of Income Tax, is relatively very small. Such cases, when they do arise, are due to the difficulty experienced by the local officials in ascertaining the individual taxpayer's circumstances and to his failure to intimate the fact of his unemployment. Under standing instructions, taxpayers who are known to be out of employment, and, in consequence, unable to pay arrears of Income Tax due from them, are not summoned.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many have been summoned, and that the cost of the summons has been added to the Income Tax? That is the position.

I think, if the hon. Gentleman will look at the answer I have just given, he will see that the circumstances are explained, and he will find that it is probably not the fault of the Inland Revenue.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the Ogmore Division a number of men have been proceeded against who were out of employment last March and have not resumed work; that the local Revenue officials were fully cognisant of the local circumstances; and will he take steps to prevent a repetition of that kind of thing?

I have already stated that to the best of my information and belief, where it is known that the men are out of work, they are not summoned. If the hon. Member knows of cases in which he believes that that rule has been broken, I shall be very glad if he will draw my attention to them.

Farm Labour, Kincardineshire

62.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that at the Stonehaven (Kincardineshire) Employment Exchange men are being compelled to accept employment with farmers for a wage of 6d. an hour or lose their unemployment benefit; that a number of men who refused to take the work have had their benefit stopped; and whether, in view of the fact that 6d. an hour is only about half the standard rate for general labourers, he will have inquiries made into this matter without delay?

I am making inquiry, and will communicate the result to my hon. Friend.

National Expenditure (Treasury Circular)

55.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the results of the Treasury Circular of 13th May last and the reductions promised in reply?

I beg to refer to my reply to the hon. Member for the Harrow Division (Mr. Mosley) on the 1st instant.

Does that mean the House of Commons will have no statement whatever about the results of this Circular?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman refers to the reply, he will see that I have referred to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he hopes to deal with these matters on the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Cotton Trade (Capital)

63.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the approximate amount of capital engaged in the cotton industry in this country in August, 1914, and at the present time, the price. of American and Egyptian cotton on 30th July, 1914, and 30th July, 1920, and the rate of wages prevailing in the industry on 30th July, 1914, and 30th July, 1920, respectively?

I regret that I am not in a position to furnish the information asked for in the first part of the question. The official quotations for middling American cotton and Fully Good Fair Egyptian, Sakellaridis, were, on 30th July, 1914, 6 86d. and 10·10d. per lb. respectively, and on 30th July, 1920, 26'15d. and 67d. per lb. respectively. It is not possible to give statistical information regarding wages in the form suggested in the question, owing to the great variety of rates involved, but I am informed that the increase in wages during the period specified has been estimated at somewhat over 170 per cent.

Hms "Bittern"

65.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, with reference to the question to him of 14th April last regarding the judgment in the action at the instance of the Admiralty and others against the owners of the ss. "Clan Sutherland," and the reply thereto, whether, seeing that no steps were taken by the Admiralty to rebut the charges of looting against the crew of H.M.S. "Bittern," although evidence was available, and in order to satisfy the desire of the relatives of members of the crew of the "Bittern" who lost their lives when the "Bittern" was sunk on 4th April, 1918, who resent the imputation of guilt which attaches to the memory of those men, the Admiralty will now institute a special inquiry into the charge of looting against the crew of the "Bittern," with a view of removing from the crew as a whole the stigma which, on account of the judgment referred to, attaches to each member of the crew, whether innocent or guilty?

The answer is in the negative. I repeat that the service records of "Bittern's" crew were not in any way affected by the allegations which were made at the trial.

Service Institutes

23.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that the Navy, Army, and Air Force institutes import all their stores into Iraq free of duty, and sell them to the troops in competition with British firms which have to pay import duty; if so, whether he will state on what grounds this preferential subsidy is given to the Navy, Army, and Air Force institutes; and whether it is intended to give a similar preferential subsidy to the Navy, Army, and Air Force institutes in England?

As the Noble Lord is aware, the Navy, Army and Air Force institutes provide the troops in Iraq and elsewhere with the institute amenities which are essential to their well-being. To enable the same amenities to be provided throughout Iraq as are provided at home and in other theatres, Navy, Army and Air Force institute stores are admitted free of duty on the condition that sales in institutes are restricted to members of the actual garrison. The conditions of sales in Army institutes and of trading carried out by local firms are so dissimilar as to render comparison impossible. The reply to the latter part of the Noble Lord's question is in the negative.

Is not this a clear case of trading being State subsidised at the expense of the taxpayer?

Motor Traffic (Identification Licences)

25.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the Staffordshire police have in recent weeks prosecuted many of the largest motor manufacturers in the country for alleged offences in relation to the use of general identification licences; and whether, having regard to the heavy expense incurred in defending these summonses, many of which have been dismissed, and the unjustifiable waste of money which would be involved by any attempt to comply with the view of the regulations taken by the Staffordshire police, he will give such instructions as will at once stop this interference with a large industry?

I have made inquiries and I find that the Staffordshire police, having been asked by the Ministry of Transport to take steps to stop the improper use of general identification marks, have prosecuted in a number of cases where there was primâa facie evidence of a breach of the regulations. There have been a few dismissals, but it would not be reasonable to expect the police to be able to obtain a conviction in every case. I do not find any ground for intervention on my part.

Why is it necessary for the Staffordshire police to be asked to take special action?