Trade And Commerce
Merchandise Marks (Legislation)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his Department can now give any information as to whether a Bill embodying the recommendations of the Merchandise and Marks Committee will be introduced next Session; and whether in the meantime arrangements will be made, before the introduction of the Bill, for those industries now suffering from inadequate legislation on the matter to be called upon to present their case to the Department?
As regards the first part of the question, it is hoped to introduce such a Bill; as regards the second part, the Committee heard a large amount of evidence before arriving at its conclusions, and there would, I think, be no advantage in inviting further representations before Parliament has passed the necessary legislation to enable existing grievances to be remedied.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the case of a large consignment of tea from Ceylon which was first shipped to the French market, but, owing to the congestion of traffic and delays, remained in bond at Marseilles and Paris; whether such tea, when imported into this country, received the benefit of the preference; and whether, on the production of satisfactory evidence that it came from Ceylon, the benefit will be given?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the second and third in the negative. To become eligible for preference, goods imported into this country must in law satisfy two conditions; they mush have been grown, produced, or manufactured in the British Empire, and they must also have been consigned from some part of the British Empire to the United Kingdom. As regards the tea in question, the latter condition is not fulfilled.
Steel Blooms, Billetts, And Slabs (Imports)
asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of tons of steel billetts and blooms for July and August, 1921, imported from Germany and Belgium, the value of same for July and August, and the average per ton for July and August for same; and the total number of tons of steel billetts and blooms imported into this country in June, July, and August, and the value and average price per ton?
The following statement gives the information desired by the hon. Member:Quantity and value of steel blooms, billetts, and slabs (other than of special steel) registered as imported into the United Kingdom during the under-mentioned periods.
|Months.||Total Imports.||Of which there was consigned—|
|From Germany.||From Belgium.|
|(a) Quantity Imported.|
|(b) Declared Value thereof.|
|(c) Average Declared Value per Ton.|
asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of persons engaged upon the manufacture of munitions of war, in all branches, throughout this country outside the Government establishments?
Information such as would enable me to furnish the particulars asked for by the hon. Member is not available without a special inquiry, which I am not prepared to undertake in the present position of the public finances.
Mercantile Marine War Risks Compensation Scheme
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make any statement regarding the provision of machinery to secure further investigation into such claims under the mercantile marine war risks compensation scheme as are regarded by the Board of Trade as being of doubtful admissibility; and whether such machinery will secure that such cases shall be reviewed and finally adjudicated upon?
The reply to both parts of the question is in the affirmative. My right hon. Friend has appointed a Committee for the purpose of advising the Board of Trade on all doubtful cases under the Mercantile Marine War Risks Compensation Scheme which may be referred to them by the Department. The following are the names of the members of the Committee:—Mr. Charles Hipwood, C.B. (Chairman).Sir A. Norman Hill, Bart.Captain Sir H. Acton Blake, K.C.M.G., K. C. V. O.Mr. Walter Ernest Hargreaves.Mr. H. Mead Taylor.Mr. E. W. S. Evans, M.R.C.S., L.S.A.
Coal Industry (Output)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the average weekly output of coal per man during the present year as compared with the average weekly output per man during the year preceding the War?
A comparison of the output per man per week would be misleading, as the working of short time, owing to trade depression, has been far more prevalent in the present year than in the year before the War. The output per man per shift worked was slightly under 21 cwts. in the former period. In the latter period it was slightly over 17 cwts., but shows a steady tendency to rise. In September it was nearly 18½ cwts. My hon. Friend is, of course, aware that the statutory limitation of hours of employment underground was changed in 1919 from eight to seven.
Germany (British Claims)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is possible for the English Clearing House to send to English creditors translations in English instead of copies in German of letters and documents received from the German Clearing House relating to the affairs of the individual English creditors?
Having regard to the large number of claims being dealt with by the Clearing Office, the adoption of the hon. Member's suggestion would entail a very considerable increase in the staff of that Department. Moreover, in the majority of cases, creditors, whose debts arise out of pre-War dealings with their German debtors, are familiar with the German language. In other cases the Clearing Office is always ready to furnish a translation if requested to do so, with the proviso that such translation must not be accepted as a substitute for the original document.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that various people in Germany who owed money to British firms in respect of goods delivered before the War have made payments to the Treuhaüder; that this official has not paid the money so received to the creditors; and is he prepared to take some suitable action?
I am aware of the fact and would refer my hon. Friend to the reply to a similar question given to the hon. and gallant Member for South East Essex (Lieut.-Colonel Hilder) on the 31st October.
Togoland And The Cameroons
askd the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the draft B mandate submitted by the French Government to the League of Nations contains a Clause permitting that Government in certain eventualities to utilise local mandate forces for military purposes outside the mandated area; whether his attention has been drawn to statements in the Press that an agreement or understanding exists upon this matter which precludes the British Government from opposing the insertion of this Clause; whether there is any truth in this suggestion; and, if not, whether the British representative on the Council of the League will be requested to draw attention to the violation which this constitutes to the terms of the Covenant?
The hon. and learned Member is referring, I think, to Article 3 of the French mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons. Under this Article the mandatory power may, in the event of a general war, use the native military forces, organised for police and defence purposes, to repel aggression or to defend territory outside the mandated area. This provision is in conformity with an understanding reached by the representatives of the principal Allied and Associated Powers in Paris early in 1919 at the time when the document which now constitutes Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was under discussion, and is not therefore in the opinion of His Majesty's Government contrary to the spirit or the letter of the Covenant. The hon. and learned Member will be reassured when I tell him that in a letter addressed on 2nd October, 1921, to the Governments of the Mandatory Powers, the Council of the League stated, as regards the territories to be administered in accordance with paragraph 5 of Article 22 of the Covenant, that whilst reserving examination of the details of the draft mandates the principles contained in the drafts, generally speaking, expressed the high objects which the Covenant had in view, and laid down in a spirit in harmony with that of the Covenant safeguards for the rights of all members of the League.
asked the President of the Board of Trade how many vessels are at present lying in various shipyards throughout the country in an unfinished state; whether he is aware of the widespread distress that has fallen upon many areas where shipbuilding operations are almost, or altogether, suspended; and whether any action is contemplated by the Government to consult the shipbuilding industry as to what steps might be taken to revive the trade?
According to the returns prepared by "Lloyd's Register" for the September quarter, the tonnage on which work had been suspended owing to the decline in the demand for tonnage amounted to 731,000 tons, and that which had been delayed in completion owing to abnormal causes to about 457,000 tons. These two totals amount to 36 per cent. of all tonnage under construction. I am aware that there is distress caused by the suspension of shipbuilding, as there is in other industries. The causes of the suspension are well known, and until these are removed I am afraid that any considerable revival is improbable; but my right hon. Friend is always ready to receive representations from those engaged in the industry.
Poor Law Relief
asked the Minister of Health whether he will inquire whether the Wandsworth guardians are putting any pressure upon any applicants for relief to sign a statement as to their willingness to emigrate?
I have made inquiries, and an informed that while the members of one relief committee in this union have suggested to young men appearing before them the desirability of making inquiries about the Australian Government scheme for emigration, no applicant for relief was asked to sign such a statement as is suggested, and no pressure was put upon anybody.
asked the Minister of Health, with regard to the recent White Paper purporting to give particulars of the financial results of the operation of the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Bill, as introduced by the Government, whether the estimated cost of the expenditure on outdoor relief, namely, £1,355,000 for the current half-year, as stated in White Paper, Cmd. 1533, is the cost as estimated by the various London boards of guardians; is this expenditure according to the scale and conditions to be prescribed by him, having regard to the fact that the cost of outdoor relief to rank for equalisation for the current half-year will be dependent on the scale and conditions to be prescribed by him; and may it be taken that the rates will be increased or decreased, as the case may be, in each union to the extent stated in the White Paper above referred to?
The estimate was based on information supplied by officers of the guardians, on the facts then known to them, and it is subject to modification in so far as any expenditure on out-relief may exceed the scale or contravene the conditions to be prescribed. How far this estimate will correspond with the actual increase or decrease of rates must necessarily depend upon a variety of factors, including, of course, the increase or decrease of the numbers of cases dealt with by the guardians.
asked the Minister of Health whether, seeing that the authorising of local authorities to undertake work by direct labour to pay not exceeding 75 per cent. of the district rates on public works for the relief of unemployment, as per Circulars 245 and 251 of the Ministry of Health, gives an incentive to local authorities to carry out this work by expensive methods of administration, and that the Minister of Health has received suggestions from organised contractors of a short period contract under which the services of contractors are offered on terms which, while giving the contractor no financial interest in the labour item, will enable the organisation of these firms to be economically utilised for the purpose of obtaining the best possible return for the expenditure on this class of work, he will say what reply, if any, has been given to the contractors making these suggestions and what recommendation, if any, has been made to the local authorities who will be entitled to the benefit of Government grants for organising and employing labour in the most efficient and economical manner?
It is for the local authority to determine how the works for which a grant is being made shall be carried out. If the works are being carried out by direct labour, it is open to the local authority to employ a firm of contractors as managers, on such terms as the local authority think fit. I am informing the organised contractors accordingly. I do not think that any special communication on the matter to local authorities is necessary. My own view is that as a general rule it is better to have the work carried out under ordinary contract conditions.
asked the Minister of Health whether he is now in a position to report the decision of the Ministry on the subject of a grant to the Chesterfield Council in respect of certain road schemes which, if put into operation, will absorb many of the unemployed in that town?
I have been asked to reply to this question. No decision has yet been arrived at. I am in communication with the Unemployment Grants Committee and with the Ministry of Labour on the subject of these applications, and will inform my hon. Friend of the decision as soon as I am in a position to do so.
asked the Minister of Health whether under the terms of the National Health Insurance Act a contributor who has paid over 104 contributions is not permitted to stamp his card when unemployed; whether if he fails to pay the penalty arrears by November such penalty will be deducted each week in the event of sickness; and whether he will lose from 1s. to 7s. a week in the event of sickness after 1st January, 1922?
The National Health Insurance Acts do not permit of the payment of contributions by persons who are unemployed, except in cases where fewer than 104 contributions stand to the credit of the insured person since the date of his entry into insurance. A person in arrears can, however, avoid reduction of benefits by making a small lump sum payment representing considerably less than his unpaid contributions; it would be of no advantage to him, therefore, to stamp his card in periods when he was unemployed. Every person in arrears has the option of making this small payment within a considerable period of grace or of accepting in lieu thereof a reduction of benfit during the calendar year next ensuing. These reductions of benefit are as stated in the question. It is obvious that, since the benefits of National Health Insurance are provided mainly out of contributions, full benefits could not be paid where insured persons are seriously in arrear. The Regulations governing arrears have been framed, however, to give the utmost indulgence consistent with the maintenance of the financial soundness of the approved societies.
Gold Mines, Dolgelly
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the Report of the Controller of the Department for the Development of the Mineral Resources in the United Kingdom, presented to Parliament in 1918, and particularly to the statement that gold of the value of £368,847 was recovered from mines near Dolgelly, Merionethshire; what sum was paid to the Treasury by way of royalty in respect of such gold; whether these mines are at present un-worked for want of capital; and whether a sum equivalent to the royalty received could be advanced, on loan or otherwise, so as to un-water and re-open the mines and provide work for the unemployed of the district?
I have called for a report on this question, and will communicate shortly with my hon. Friend.
Locomotives (Colonial Orders)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is a possibility of orders being placed for locomotives for Nigeria and other Colonies; and, if so, whether he will do his utmost to help in the placing of these orders in this country?
The answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The hon. Member may rest assured that my right hon. Friend will do his utmost, consistent with the interests of the Colonies concerned, to secure the placing of the orders in question, in this country.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the grave extent of unemployment existing in the industrial districts in the Wrekin area; whether, although in numerous places in the area the iron trade is carried on, the whole of the district is considered to be agricultural, and has in consequence not been certified as suffering from exceptional unemployment; and, if so, whether, in view of the circumstances, he will reconsider the matter?
My attention has been drawn to the circumstances in this area in connection with an application for a certificate of serious unemployment. I am making the necessary inquiries, and will let my hon. Friend know the result as soon as possible.
Central Provinces (Commissioners Of Divisions)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether the Legislative Council of the Central Provinces has passed a Resolution to abolish the appointments of Commissioners of Divisions; and, if so, what action is being taken by the Government of India in the matter?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I have not yet received any official communication on the subject from the local Government or the Government of India and no action could be taken in the sense indicated in the Resolution without the sanction of the Secretary of State in Council.
Cinematograph Films (Censorship)
asked the Secretary of State for India what has been the result of the establishment of censorship of cinema films in India, who are the censors, and what have they done?
I understand that boards for the censorship of films are at work in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Rangoon. They are appointed by the local Governments concerned. I have not received any reports as to their work. But I understand that the Government of India has recently had its attention drawn to the matter, and suggestions have been made to it for making the censorship in each place more efficient.
Army Officers (Pensions)
asked the Secretary of State for India why officers of the Indian Army who were due to retire but were retained for the duration of the War were not allowed to draw pension in addition to their pay and allowances for this period, whilst British officers were; and whether he can see his way to apply Army Order 364, of 1920, to officers in the Indian Army to equalise their position?
I am in communication with the Government of India as to whether there are sufficient grounds for granting to officers of the Indian Army a concession similar to that granted to British service officers by Army Order No. 364 of 1920.
Wazir Force, Jandola (Huts)
asked the Secretary of State for War if, in connection with the recent fighting on the North-West Frontier of India, he is aware that a battalion of an Indian regiment, partly British officered and forming portion of the Wazir force on active service at Jandola, in the heart of the Mashud country, was during the abnormal heat there in the month of July, 1921, promised, as a protection from the sun, Afghan huts which had been lying at Lahore since 1919; that the huts were brought in sections to Jandola; that head-quarters at Simla issued an order that the Wazir force must pay for these huts, and as the latter force had not the necessary funds to pay for them the battalion was not allowed to erect them, and the huts lay in sections at Jandola throughout the hot season; that an order was subsequently issued from Simla that pith helmets were to be worn by the troops in the tents; that there was at the time a cholera epidemic raging at Jandola which resulted in many deaths among the troops of the battalion; and whether any inquire has been, or will be, made into this matter?
I have no information on the subject, but will inquire from the Government of India.
Government Servants (Gandhi Caps)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether Government servants in India have been wearing Gandhi caps, and thus openly showing their participation in the disloyal non-co-operation movement that has been permitted to manifest itself; and, if so, whether steps have been taken to dismiss all such men from Government employ and to instal loyal men in their place, or what has been done in the matter?
I am informed that in Bombay the use of the caps has spread to Government and other offices, this being ascribed in part to the attraction of a novelty and to some extent to inti- midation. I observe also from the Press that the Government of the Central Provinces has issued orders that Government servants are not to wear the caps and that this order has been approved by the local Legislative Council. Similar orders appear to have been issued in some Government offices in Bombay.
Lahore Municipal Fire Brigade (Mr Newland)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether Mr. Newland, an ex-soldier and the superintendent of the Lahore Municipal Fire Brigade, was ordered by the Municipal Committee of Lahore to wear khaddar uniform, that is uniform made of Gandhi's homespun cloth, the badge of disloyalty to the British Government, and was compelled to resign his appointment in consequence; and, if so, what steps have been taken by the Government of India in the matter and what provision has been made for Mr. Newland?
The answer to the first part of the question is that Mr. Newland, with the rest of the municipal staff, was ordered to wear a uniform of Indian made khaki homespun. On the resolution being passed, Mr. Newland tendered his resignation, stating that it was impossible for him to accept the order. His resignation was supplemented by a general complaint of the Committee's neglect of the fire brigade and the inadequacy of his pay. His resignation was accepted. The Government of India understand that Mr. Newland has been re-employed elsewhere on the recommendation of the Deputy-Commissioner of the Lahore district.
Territorial Army (Institute, Shanklin)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether a new institute is being erected for members of the Territorial forces at Shanklin, Isle of Wight; whether a promise has been given that facilities for the sale of intoxicating drink will be provided if 50 members join the institute; and, if so, whether the matter will be reconsidered, in view of the objection to wet canteens being associated with institutes of this character expressed by the abstaining parents of young Territorials?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I have no information as to whether a licence has been applied for or promised. A grant of a licence rests with the discretion of the local licensing authorities, and I am not prepared to intervene in the matter.
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, for the purposes of Article I of the Royal Warrant or Section 8 of the War Pensions (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1919, serious negligence or misconduct, in the absence of any action by the competent military authority, may only be alleged by the Ministry of Pensions for the purpose of rejecting a claim for disablement if the facts are other than such as can be deduced from questions of military duty, and military discipline alone?
I have been asked to reply. The answer is in the affirmative.
Ministry Of Pensions
asked the Minister of Pensions the number of members of the staff of the Ministry who receive salaries of over £400 per annum; and the number of ex-service members who draw salaries over that amount?
The total number of the Ministry staff in receipt of salary and bonus exceeding £400 a year is 814, and of these 635, or 78 per cent., are ex-service men. I may add that the percentage of the total male staff in my Department who are ex-service men is 95.6.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that one month's notice only is given to temporary valuers by the Board of Inland Revenue; whether he is aware that some of these valuers have been in the service of the Board of Inland Revenue for 10 years and over; that the Board in the year 1919 agreed to give at least three months' notice to these men; and whether, seeing that it is the usual practice in Government Departments to give at least three months' notice to valuers and professional men, he will give directions that this practice be followed in the case of those temporary valuers with whose services it is desired to dispense, and who are employed by the Board of Inland Revenue?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given on the 31st ultimo and the 7th instant to the hon. and learned Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield). I am sending my hon. Friend copies of those replies.
Tuberculous Patients (Institutional Treatment)
asked the Minister of Pensions if he will take steps to relax the order that tuberculous ex-service men must be treated within the area of their residence, especially when greater benefits can be offered outside such area and voluntary means are available for the maintenance of the patient?
I have been asked to answer this question. So far as I am aware no such Order as is referred to in the question has been issued. The institutional treatment of tuberculous ex-service men is undertaken by the county and county borough councils, and it is within the discretion of a council, acting on the advice of their tuberculosis officer, to decide in what institution any particular case shall be treated, provided that the institution and the arrangements made by the council for the use of the particular institution have been approved by the Ministry of Health.
School Teachers' Certificates
asked the President of the Board of Education why the rules recently laid down by the Board with the object of fulfilling the Government's pledges to teachers who joined the Colours in the War contain no provision to benefit teachers who did not qualify for certificates within two years of passing the preliminary examination; whether the Board has refused to see a deputation of the Manchester Day Training College on this subject; and whether he will reconsider such refusal, have regard to the promises previously held out to ex-service teachers?
The promises, to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, are presumably those contained in the Board's Circulars 863 and 878, copies of which I am sending him. Those circulars related to students who were already in or had been accepted for admission to training colleges at the time of joining the forces, and I think the promises made in them have been amply fulfilled. As regards the deputation from the Manchester Day Training College, the students concerned were assisted by the Board under the scheme for the higher education of ex-service men to enter the training college after demobilisation. There is no evidence to show that their certification was in any way delayed by military service.
Mental Cases (Institutional Treatment)
asked the Minister of Pensions the names of the institutions approved by the Lunacy Board of Control to which uncertifiable ex-service men are being sent; by what authority the Lunacy Board, whose function re insanity is limited to the care of the certified, is placed in a position undefined by law in regard to its approval of homes for cases not serious enough to be placed under detention; and whether, in view of the anxiety of the nation that ex-service men, if uncertifiable, should not be placed to their detriment in semi-lunatic institutions under the tutelage of the Lunacy Board, will he take steps to secure that all uncertifiable cases suffering from war injury should have the advantage of hospital treatment absolutely free from detention and from stigma, instead of being forced, as at present, into institutions under lunacy by the threat of the loss of half their allowance?
I would remind my hon. Friend that questions affecting the Board of Control should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I understand, however, that there are no such institutions as suggested in the first part of the question. The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise. As regards the third part of the question, I have already taken steps to secure that all uncertifiable ex- service officers and men whose condition is due to war service shall have the advantage of hospital treatment under my control, and entirely independent of lunacy administration. Provision has been made in the Ministry Neurasthenic Hospitals for the accommodation and treatment by trained medical officers of the cases to which my hon. Friend refers.
Civil Service (Medical Disqualification)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether any ex-service men who passed or qualified at the last Civil Service examinations have been rejected for permanent appointments on account of disability occasioned through War service and/or defective eyesight?
One ex-service man who qualified at the recent examination for the clerical class has been rejected on account of disability considered to be aggravated by military service. The disability is active disease of both lungs, which makes indoor work unsuitable for him. Four were rejected for defective eyesight, not occasioned by War-service, two of whom had previously been rejected on the same ground after success at examinations which they attended before joining the Army.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if it is proposed to include in next year's Navy Estimates a Vote for the construction, maintenance, and operation of airships?.
The answer is in the negative. Responsibility for airship construction and maintenance rests entirely with the Air Ministry.
Reservists In The Royal Irish Constabulary
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether Royal Naval Reserve men who have joined the Royal Irish Constabulary are thereby discharged from the Royal Naval Reserve; and whether service in the Royal Irish Constabulary will be counted for pension in the Royal Naval Reserve?
Naval Reserve men who have joined the Royal Irish Constabulary are discharged from the Royal Naval Reserve unless they have completed three years' mobilised sea service or unless they have served ten years in the Royal Navy Reserve in the case of seamen ratings, and fifteen years in the case of engine-room artificers, engine-men, and stoker ratings. Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who are retained on the strength of the Royal Naval Reserve are eligible for gratuity or pension under the ordinary conditions.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if his attention has been called to the very poor autumn herring fishing this year, and to the great hardships that this will entail among the fishermen; and if, under these circumstances, the distribution of the balance of the naval prize money due to men who served in the drifters and trawlers during the War could be expedited, and the money paid about Christmas instead of a month or two later as proposed?
As indicated in my reply of the 2nd instant to a question of the hon. Member for the Devonport Division of Plymouth (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke), it is not yet possible to fix the value of a share in the final distribution of prize money, and for that reason alone it is not practicable to begin payment to men who served in drifters and trawlers, apart from which it would be very difficult to give preference in payment to any particular section of the ex-naval forces. Every effort is being made to hasten the date when payment can begin.
Mental Deficiency Acts (Expenditure)
asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the Circular issued last August by the Board of Control to local authorities under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, calling upon them to limit their expenditure under the Act next year to the total amount sanctioned for this year; whether he is aware that, even if no cases except those classed as urgent by the Board of Control are dealt with, the result of the limitation thus imposed will be to leave some 2,000 urgent cases uncared for, to their own unhappiness and suffering, to the great harm of many others, and at a cost to the community in rates and taxes for police, criminal justice, and Poor Law many times as great as the cost of looking after them under the Act; and will he consider this question?
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Treasury contribution to mental defectives is being withheld from many urgent and dangerous cases, with the result that they are left unrestrained and are a danger to the community; and whither admissions into institutions are limited to a prescribed number?
I have seen the Circular referred to. Local authorities are at present only able to deal with urgent cases, as defined by the Board of Control, provided that the expenditure involved falls within the limits of their approved estimates for 1921–22. The general question of the limitation of expenditure under the Mental Deficiency Acts necessitated by the decision of the Government that the public expenditure must be drastically reduced is receiving careful consideration, and the points mentioned in the questions will be borne in mind.
Food Standards (Monmouthshire)
asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been called to the Report of the county analyst for Monmouthshire, under the Foods and Drugs Act, which deals with the sale of rancid butter and the sale of baking powders and self-raising flour; has his attention been called to the Resolution passed by the Monmouthshire county council that in the council's opinion it is desirable that a limit for acidity or rancidity should be fixed for butter and all fats intended for human consumption, beyond which they shall not be saleable as such unless for culinary purposes, and in which case they should be clearly so marked; that it is desirable to fix a standard for baking powder and self-raising flour; and will he therefore take the necessary action to ensure the attainment of these several objects in the interests of the health of the community?
My attention has been drawn to the matter, but I have no power to fix standards for the articles mentioned.
West Ham Board Of Guardians (Election)
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that at a recent bye-election for a casual vacancy on the West Ham board of guardians two relieving officers in the employ of the board were found to have distributed literature to recipients of relief and otherwise used their influence in the election; and if he intends to take any action in the matter?
Yes, Sir. I have already made some inquiries about this case, and I am considering whether further action on my part is necessary.
Light-Horse Breeding, Scotland
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that the scheme for the encouragement of light-horse breeding promoted by the Board of Agriculture has been a great success in Aberdeenshire and that much regret is felt at the Board's decision to discontinue the scheme; and whether he can see his way to continue the scheme in those counties which have interested themselves in and supported the scheme?
While the scheme for the encouragement of light-horse breeding has received more support in Aberdeenshire than in several other counties, the facts before my right hon. Friend are not such as to show that the scheme in that county has been even moderately successful. He is aware that regret is felt in certain quarters at the decision to discontinue the scheme, but unless substantial contributions are forthcoming from local and other sources he is not prepared to reconsider the question of continuing the scheme.
Unfit Horses (Export)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in the Press that one of the Ministry's inspectors at Leith docks ordered three unfit horses to be destroyed; and whether the inspector has power to ensure obedience to such an order?
There have been no recent cases in which horses brought to Leith docks for shipment have been destroyed by order of the Ministry's inspector. Two horses were so destroyed as long ago as 5th May. The inspector's power to order slaughter in certain circumstances is contained in Section 1 (2) of the Exportation of Horses Act, 1914, and can be enforced.
Inland Revenue Stamp Office, Dundee
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to the threatened closing down of the Inland Revenue stamp office at Dundee; and, in view of the great inconvenience that will be caused through a large area of the East of Scotland if this is persisted in, will he have the matter reconsidered?
With the full approval of the Government, the Board of Inland Revenue have been recently engaged in a general review of all stamp offices in the country in the interests of economical administration. A number of stamp offices have already been closed and others are in process of extinction. The volume of work at Dundee has proved insufficient to occupy the full time of the marking officer in charge, and the discontinuance of the office will yield a saving in salaries and other expenses. Arrangements are being made for the sale of stamped forms at the local post office and for facilitating the transmission to Edinburgh of instruments which it is desired to stamp after execution. In view of these arrangements, it is anticipated that no substantial inconvenience will result from the change.
Safeguarding Of Industries Act
asked the President of the Board of Trade what provision is being made for emolument to the referee appointed to decide disputes arising under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act; whether complainants whose cases are heard by the referee will be allowed to be represented by counsel; and whether the Industries and Manufactures Department of the Board of Trade intends itself to employ counsel at the arbitrations?
The remuneration of the referee under Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act will depend upon the amount of work which he may be called upon to do, and will be a charge upon the Board of Trade Vote. As regards the remainder of the question, it is open to complainants to be represented by counsel should they so desire, but it is not the intention of the Board of Trade to employ counsel unless the complainants are so represented.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, on some consignments of dolls, His Majesty's Board of Customs are demanding a return from the importer as to the value of the glass-eye part of the doll; that the importer of such goods in most instances purchases these dolls from a firm whose business is the dressing of dolls, which firm in turn purchase the dolls from a doll factory, which doll factory in turn purchase the heads from a china factory, and the china factory purchase the glass eye from a glass works; and, seeing that the pattern and sizes are very varied and numerous and there is no special mark of identification, which makes it very difficult to obtain months afterwards the actual cost of any particular purchase, and further that the smallest size of glass eye can be purchased in London for 6d. per 100, will he consider the desirability of omitting the duty altogether?
Eyes of lamp-blown glass for dolls are liable to duty under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and in order that the duty may be correctly assessed it is necessary for the importer to produce evidence of the value of the eyes apart from the value of the doll itself, which is not dutiable.
Magic Lanterns And Cinematographs
ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what instructions have been issued by His Majesty's Board of Customs with regard to the duty on magis lanterns and cinematographs made by toy makers and sold in toy shops; and why in some ports the officers insist that duty shall be payable on the thick glass lenses, which are neither optical nor scientific, whilst in other ports the Customs officials insist that not alone shall duty be levied on the glass lenses, but on all parts of the lanterns, including the lamp and the chimney glass, as well as on the box which contains it and the extra slides which accompany the lantern, also on the amount paid in freight, and if the goods have been insured against breakage and theft, duty is also levied on the amount paid to the insurance company?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the President of the Board of Trade to a question on the same subject asked by the hon. Member for the Western Isle Division (Dr. Murray) on the 24th ultimo. The lanterns and cinematographs are chargeable as a whole, but the slides are not dutiable. I am not aware that there is any divergence of practice on the part of Customs officials at various ports, but if the hon. Member will give me particulars of any such divergence I will cause inquiry to be made. As regards the last part of the question, if the hon. Member will refer to the definition of value in Section IV (1) of the Act, he will see that duty is expressly chargeable on the cost of freight and insurance to the port of importation.
Development And Road Improvement Fund
asked the Minister of Transport whether the allocation of moneys by the Road Department is subject to Treasury approval; whether the money allocated is paid over to the authority to whom it is allocated quarterly, and, if so, in what proportion; whether any amount is retained for reserve, and, is so, what amount; whether the amount received from motor taxation is kept in a separate account, and, if so, whether the interest received on the same accrues to the advantage of that account?
The reply is in the affirmative, all allocations by the Minister being subject to Treasury approval. The money allocated is paid against requisitions submitted by local authorities showing the expenditure actually incurred and immediately anticipated. These requisitions are submitted quarterly in the case of grants towards maintenance, and payments on account on a 90 per cent. basis are made; the remaining 10 per cent. is held in reserve till final settlement. In other cases no periods are specified, but local authorities submit claims as they require further funds. The amount received from the motor taxation (less certain statutory deductions for sums due to local authorities under Section 2 (2) of the Roads Act, 1920) is paid into the road fund account, and all interest received accrues to the advantage of that account.
asked the Minister of Transport what is the amount which has been collected up to date in motor taxation; what amount from this has been allocated to local bodies; what amount has been paid out of this to highway authorities; what amount has been allocated in loans; and, when repayments are made, what happens to the money so returned?
The total proceeds from motor taxation to 31st October, 1921, are £10,437,997 2s. 6d. The whole of this amount, less statutory deductions, has been paid to the road fund and has been allocated to road works, and in the main to local authorities. All payments (including advances by way of loan) are made out of the road fund generally, and not out of particular collections. All sums received by way of repayment of loans or by way of interest are credited to the road fund.
asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the high railway rates of charges for carrying coal, coke, ironstone, lime, and other raw materials in connection with making pig iron, which is to a great extent crippling the industry; that pig-iron sent from various parts of Derbyshire to Birming ham is now 10s. per ton where the pre-War days it was 4s. 6d.; if he is prepared to receive a deputation from the managers and delegates of the blast-furnace workers who are connected with the board of con ciliation for blast furnaces and ironstone quarries in the Nottingham district; and if he will take action in the matter?
Substantial reductions have recently been made in the rates for iron ore, ironstone, and limestone for blast furnaces and steel works in Great Britain, and I am informed that a meeting between representatives of the railway companies and the Iron and Steel Federation has been fixed for to-morrow to discuss the question of railway rates affecting these industries. The reduction of these rates is a matter which is now within the discretion of the railway companies, and, under Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921, it is also open to any trader or representative body of traders to apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal to reduce the rates. In the circumstances, I should hardly feel justified in asking a deputation to wait upon me. I may add that the hon. Member somewhat overstates the increase in the rates on pig-iron conveyed from Derbyshire to Birmingham.
asked the Minister of Transport when the Report of the Crinan Canal Committee of Inquiry will be made public; and why there has been so much delay, seeing that Report was in the hands of the Ministry of Transport so far back as June last?
I have arranged for the publication of this Report.
Highland And Great North Of Scotland Railway (Wages)
asked the Minister of Transport, whether in Clause 67 of the Third Memorandum on Points of Interpretation, dated 1st July last, and circulated to the general managers of all railways on 22nd July last, it is provided that payment for the overtime of stationmasters and supervisors subsequent to 1st August, 1919, should be at the single hourly rate rather than on the previous arrangement of a percentage of salary and bonus on a commuted basis; whether the majority of the Scottish railway companies have paid on the new basis, less the amount of the previous payment; whether up till the present time the Highland and Great North of Scotland Railway Companies have declined to do so; and whether he is prepared to take any steps to get these companies to fulfil the terms of the instruction issued?
I have been in communication with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. He is causing inquiries to be made, and will communicate the result to my hon. Friend.
Midland Railway (Zone Tickets, Sheffield District)
asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Midland Railway Company are abolishing the system of zone tickets, which has been in operation in the Sheffield district for many years past; and whether he will use his endeavours to induce the railway compay to cancel their present proposals?
My attention has already been called to this matter. I am informed that the "zone" tickets in question were issued at such low rates as to be unremunerative, and for this reason were abolished by the company on the 31st October last. I understand, however, that the season tickets rates now in force in the Sheffield district are on a considerably lower basis than those in operation for similar distances generally on the Midland system. The company are under no statutory obligation to continue the issue of either zone or season tickets, and I regret that I am unable to interfere with their discretion in the matter. I would, however, remind the hon. Member of the provisions of the Railways Act, 1921, under which the public have secured to them an opportunity of bringing cases in which they think railway charges are excessive to the determination of the Rates Tribunal.
Siberia (Japanese Troops)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Imperial Japanese Government has officially confirmed the report appearing in the Press on 27th October, to the effect that the Japanese Government has resolved to evacuate Siberia, irrespective of the negotiations with the Far Eastern Republic?
The answer to the question is in the negative.
Spanish Foreign Legion (British Subjects)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Spanish Government has yet replied to the request of His Majesty's Government that a delegation of British officers should be sent to investigate the complaints of ill-treatment made by British subjects serving in the Spanish Foreign Legion against their officers and against the Spanish military authorities generally; and, if not, what further action he proposes to take in the matter, in view of the specific allegations of brutal treatment that have been made?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government are in further communication with the Spanish Government, and hope very shortly to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the question.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Swiss Government has proposed to His Majesty's Government a mutual abolition of visas to take effect on 1st December; whether it has made a similar proposal to the Governments of Belgium, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark; and whether, under these new circumstances, the Government will reconsider its decision as previously-announced?
My hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The answer to the first paragraph is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government have no information as to the second; and in reply to the third paragraph, I cannot say more at the moment than that I will carefully consider the Swiss proposal, which only reached the Home Office yesterday.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a protest has been lodged with the authorities and sent to the Press in Egypt from a large number of notables, merchants, lawyers, doctors, and engineers against the actions of the officials in regard to the Assiut incident, and that a request was made by them for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the procedure of the administration; whether the papers dealing with the incident have been filed by the Egyptian Government; and whether, since this means that the Egyptian Government refuses an inquiry and seeing that British officials were involved as well as Egyptian, His Majesty's Government will invite the inquiry as far as the British officials are concerned?
His Majesty's Acting High Commissioner has reported that such a protest has been lodged, but I have not yet learned how it has been disposed of. I understand that the Egyptian Procurator-General did conduct an inquiry, but I am not aware that any British officials were involved.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the "Times" correspondent in Cairo is a certain Mr. Merton, who is also an official in the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture; and whether, since it is irregular for officials under Government to hold the position of newspaper correspondent, he will have this inquired into?
I understand that the facts are as stated by the hon. Member. The matter, however, is one which solely concerns the Egyptian Government.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to the effect that certain members of the Egyptian bench have presented a petition to the Sultan complaining that the law of seniority has not been observed in the latest list of promotion?
The answer is in the negative.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the security for the investment of British capital in the development of the Sudan will be in any way unfavourably affected as a result of any treaty or agreement come to between the Egyptian delegation now in this country and the British Government; whether it is the policy of the British Government to urge upon the Sudan Government the importance of encouraging British capital to be invested in the development of the Sudan both by providing transport and bringing more soil under cultivation; and whether it is necessary for British would-be investors to be discouraged from getting their schemes advanced by the Government of the Sudan pending the settlement of the financial difficulties of the Sudan Government's irrigation schemes?
The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the last two parts, the Sudan Government are well aware of the desirability of attracting capital to the Sudan, but the development of the country must proceed gradually so that it may not be burdened in the early stages with loan charges in excess of its capacity.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Government propose to encourage British capital to be invested in the Sudan on works and schemes approved in principle by the Government of the Sudan, but not under that Government's immediate control; whether the Government of the Sudan, faced with a serious financial position on account of the liabilities incurred as a result of the Gezirah dam, are unable to grant any concessions or trade agreements that ultimately depend upon the security offered by the revenues of the Sudan as to payment of interest, etc.; and whether, under these circumstances, the British Government can take any steps to assist in the development of the Sudan by British capital?
As regards the first part of the question, I have nothing to add to the reply which I have just made to the hon. and gallant Member. In answer to the second part, I would point out that the Sudan Government, having regard to their existing, liabilities, are unable to grant concessions likely to diminish their future revenue. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the terms of the Trade Facilities Bill.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government have come to any decision in regard to the present financial position of the Sudan, especially the financing of the works now in progress for the completion of the Gezirah dam?
It is anticipated that, as in the past, the accounts of the Sudan Government will close with a surplus at the end of the current financial year. It will, however, be necessary for that Government in due course to raise further funds for the completion of the Gezirah scheme, and this matter is receiving their consideration.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the recent Report of M. Marcuard, the delegate of the international committee of the Red Cross on the situation of the Albanian refugees who have been driven from their homes by the advance of the Yugo-Slav troops; whether, out of 40,000, there have already died 10,000 from sickness and privation; and whether, in view of the approach of winter and the exhaustion of funds, the case of these people can be brought before the Yugo-Slav Government in the course of the present démarches?
I have not seen the document in question, but I have heard that M. Marcuard has recently visited Albania on behalf of the International Red Cross. It will rest with the latter to give its report publicity. For the rest, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply on Monday last to the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil).
Washington Conference (British Delegation)
asked the Prime Minister why the name of Sir Malcolm Delevingne, who was one of the delegates for the British Government at the Washington Conference of 1919, and has been a member of the governing body of the International Labour Office since its inception, does not appear on the present list of representatives; whether his place has been taken by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour; and, if so, why an official whose Parliamentary duties have already involved his leaving Geneva during the sitting of the Conference to return to this country has been appointed?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Prime Minister on Thursday last in reply to a question by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge).
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any and, if so, what dress allowance has been given to members of the secretariat accompanying the British delegates to Washington?
Outfit allowances have been authorised as follows for members of the secretariat accompanying the British delegates to Washington. Two-thirds of the actual vouched expenditure on outfit up to the following maximum limits which are in no case to be exceeded:
|Higher division staff:|
|For those who have not previously received outfit allowance||40|
|For those who have received outfits||25|
|Clerks and stenographers:|
|For those who have not received outfits||25|
|For those who have received outfits||15|
|Messengers, etc. (if uniform not provided)||10|
Ministry Of Food Accounts
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that Command Paper No. 1368, recently issued by his instructions, fails to publish the balance sheet of the Ships' Stores and Salvage Branch of the late Ministry of Food; whether, if the balance sheet were published, a loss would be disclosed instead of the profit which should have accrued; and what steps will be taken to rectify this omission and when?
I have been asked to reply. The Ships' Stores accounts of the Ministry of Food are included in the accounts of the Miscellaneous Section which disclose a credit balance of £2,750,000. I understand that a loss was sustained in respect of goods sold by the Navy and Army Canteen Board on a falling market, but that in other respects the service was self-supporting.
Wheat And Oats (Subsidy)
asked the Minister of Agriculture when payments of compensation to growers of wheat and oats in 1921 under the agreement reached on the repeal of the Agriculture Act, 1920, will actually be made?
By the Corn Production Acts (Repeal) Act the payments in respect of wheat and oats produced this year are to be made on the 1st January, 1922, and the payments due will be made on that date on claims received by the Ministry not later than the 18th July last. Claims made after the 18th July were accepted as an act of grace, and on the understanding that no guarantee could be given that payment would be made on the 1st January.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the value of the reductions made upon the claims under the Corn Production Acts exceeds the cost of the investigation; and, if so, why he has not arranged to have all the claims under the Acts investigated?
Without elaborate inquiry, it is not possible to state whether the partial investigation carried out by county agricultural committees has resulted in a saving equal to its cost. I am aware that several county committees consider this to be the case, but taking the claims as a whole it does not appear probable that the reduction effected as a result of a complete inspection would have compensated for the additional cost involved.
Cinematograph Films (Censorship)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that various authorities are passing resolutions approving the desirability of some censorship over films; and whether he is willing to collect and publish police evidence on the subject?
I have received two or three resolutions lately in favour of a Government censorship, but very few complaints have reached me as to the exhibition of objectionable films. I may point out that a committee of the National Council of Public Morals made an elaborate inquiry into the subject in 1917 and received statements from a number of Chief Constables, which are referred to in the report. I see no reason for any further inquiry at the present time.
Borstal Institution (Prisoner's Discharge)
asked the Home Secretary if the permission for a special licence of marriage in the case of the prisoner in Borstal has been given?
The Prison Commissioners on the recommendation of the Visiting Committee have decided that this prisoner may be discharged on licence from the Borstal Institution on the 3rd December. His marriage can, therefore, take place under ordinary conditions.
Commissioner Of Metropolitan Police (Salary)
asked the Home Secretary if he will state the salary of the late Commissioner of Police, Sir Nevil Macready whether any change has been made in the amount of the salary paid to the present Commissioner; and, if so, when and why?
Sir Nevil Macready received a special salary of £3,250 per annum. The salary of the present Commissioner was raised as from 1st March, 1920, from £2,000 to £3,000 on the recommendation of the Committee, under the chairmanship of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), appointed by the Treasury to advise them as to the emoluments which should attach to the principal posts in the Civil Service.
Medical Research Institute, Hampstead
asked the Home Secretary whether he has received a letter, signed by 25 persons living in the neighbourhood of the Mount Vernon Central Institute for Medical Research, Hampstead, complaining of the cries and shrieks of a dog between the 10th and 16th October; whether he has investigated the matter; and, if so, with what result?
I have received the letter referred to and have made inquiry. I am informed that on the first two days of the period covered by the question there was no dog on the premises; that one dog came on the 12th October and another, which was noisy at first, on the 13th, but that these have not been operated upon; that they have been inoculated with a drug, but without effect, and are still in perfect health. The dogs were seen by the Home Office inspector on the 14th and were found by him quiet and, apparently, normal.
Public Meetings (Disturbances)
asked the Home Secretary what instructions have been issued to the police as to how they who deal with the Communist bands ho are organised to attend and break up, either by noise or methods of violence, meetings of law-abiding citizens in the metropolitan area; and is he aware of the danger of a grave breach of the peace should the audiences attending such meetings be compelled to take the law into their own hands and deal forcibly with their opponents?
Persons who disturb a public meeting so as to interfere with the business, whether Communists or others, are dealt with under the Public Meetings Act, 1908. If the meeting is held in a building the police can only enter when called upon to do so by the conveners or some responsible person to suppress breaches of the peace, to assist in ejecting offenders, and to obtain the names and addresses of persons behaving in contravention of the Act in order that proceedings may be taken against them. I am well aware of the difficulties to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, and can assure him that the police do all they can within their powers to prevent serious breaches of the peace.
Sir Basil Thomson
asked the Home Secretary whether the honourable understanding come to between him and Sir Basil Thomson in March, 1920, regarding the latter's position was communicated at the time to the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan police and to the Cabinet; when General Horwood first complained of the arrangement come to under this honourable understanding; and when General Horwood first complained of alleged acts of insubordination on the part of Sir Basil Thomson?
The arrangement made in April, 1920, was settled in consultation with the Commissioner of Police. It was not a matter that required to be communicated to the Cabinet. I cannot say exactly when General Horwood first complained verbally, but he first complained in writing on 29th October, 1920, that the arrangement was unsatisfactory. As regards the third part of the question, to the best of my recollection it was in May or June, 1921, that General Horwood first complained verbally that Sir Basil Thomson was acting in disregard of the arrangements he had accepted, and without the Commissioner's approval or knowledge in matters in which he ought to have been consulted or informed.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the latest reported case of child torture resulting from mui tsai in Hong Kong; and whether the Colonial Office intends any longer to sanction this system?
I have seen a report in the Press to which I presume the hon. and gallant Member refers, and I am communicating with the Governor on the subject. As regards the action of the Government in relation to the general question of mui tsai, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given on the 24th October to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray).
asked the Secretary State for the Colonies if there is intention to hand over the Colony Kenya to the Government of India?
The answer is in the negative.
Constable Shot, Tipperary
asked the Chief Secretary whether Constable Kistin, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was fired at and wounded in Tipperary on 19th October; and what steps, if any, the Government have taken in the matter?
The facts are, I regret to say, as stated, except that the constable's name is Kirton. He was fired at while in a public-house late in the evening and wounded in the head and arm. The police have as yet been unable to obtain any information as to the identity of his assailant. I am glad to state that Constable Kirton is out of danger, his wounds are healing, and that he has been discharged from hospital.
Income Tax (Travelling Expenses)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether in certain suburban districts persons are not allowed to deduct their travelling expenses to and from their work for the purpose of rebate of Income Tax; and whether the Government contemplate any legislation in the matter?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Inland Revenue have had claims from residents in the suburbs for an allowance from Income Tax for travelling expenses to and from the City; whether such allowances have been refused in some cases and in others up to 1s. per day has been allowed if the claimant travels by the early morning workmen's trains; whether coalminers in South Wales are allowed their expenses of travelling to and from their work; what are the grounds for the discrimination between the various claims; and in what respect all such allowances differ in principle?
The question raised by my hon. Friends was fully dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on the 9th March last in replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford (Mr. Wise). I would refer my hon. Friends to the answer then given, copies of which I am sending them.
asked the Minister of Labour if, taking the 20 chief trades in the country, he will give the average weekly wage now being received by skilled labour and the corresponding wage received by unskilled labour?
I regret that the information available is insufficient to provide a basis for calculating the average earnings of skilled and unskilled men in the 20 principal industries. Before this could be done a comprehensive inquiry into individual earnings in those industries would be necessary.
Trade Boards Act
asked the Minister of Labour whether, although attention was drawn some time ago to the fact that a firm of clothiers with several branches in London was violating the Trade Boards Act, no action has been taken; and will he state the reason?
Delay has occurred in making this particular investigation owing to the many urgent demands upon the time of the trade board inspectors. An investigation will be made at an early date.
Administration Of Justice Act
asked the Attorney-General whether the class of divorce cases to be tried and determined by commissioners under Section 1 of the Administration of Justice Act has been prescribed in accordance with that Section; whether the rules of court mentioned in that Section have been made and published; whether, if the answer to the first two questions is in the negative, the persons entrusted with the duty of prescribing such class of cases and making such rules or either or any of them have the power to veto the reform embodied in the Section by declining to carry out or refraining from carrying out the duties so entrusted to them; and, if so, whether the Government will introduce fresh legislation at an early date to remove such power of veto and to permit of the appointment of other persons who are prepared to carry out the duties prescribed by Section 1 of the Administration of Justice Act?
I have made inquiries and am told that the answer to the first two parts of the question is in the negative. The answer to the third part is also in the negative, and the fourth part does not therefore arise. Nobody has declined to carry out or refrained from carrying out any duty, but, while the pressure of work in the King's Bench Division remains as heavy as it now is, it is not practicable to increase the amount of work to be done by the King's Bench Judges at Assizes.