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Commons Chamber

Volume 154: debated on Monday 15 May 1922

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House Of Commons

Monday, 15th May, 1922.

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

Private Business

Legal and General Assurance Society Bill [ Lords],

Read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Morton's Divorce Bill [ Lords],

Read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.

Newhaven and Seaford Water Bill [ Lords],

Ossett Corporation (Water) Bill [ Lords],

Read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Staffordshire Potteries Water Bill (King's Consent signified),

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Bolton Corporation Bill [ Lords],

To be read a Second time To-morrow.

Cambridge Corporation Bill [ Lords],

Read a Second time, and committed.

Great Northern Railway Bill [ Lords],

Rugby School Bill [ Lords],

Yorkshire Electric Power Bill [ Lords],

To be read a Second time To-morrow.

Jarrow Extension and Improvement Bill (by Order),

Second Reading deferred till Thursday, at a quarter-past Eight of the Clock.

Ayr Burgh (Tramways, etc.) Order Confirmation Bill,

Kilmarnock Water Provisional Order Bill,

Considered; to be read the Third time To-morrow.

Ministry Of Health Provisional Orders (No 9) Bill

"to confirm certain Provisional Orders of the Minister of Health relating to Bradford, Leek, New Quay, Runcorn, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, and Whit-stable," presented by Sir ALFRED MOND; read the First time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and to be printed. [Bill 119.]

Oral Answers To Questions

Gold And Silver (Imports And Exports)

6 and 7.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the quantities and value of the imports of gold, both bullion and coin, into this country for the year 1921, and also the exports of same for the like period;

(2) the quantity and value of silver bullion and coin imported into this country for the year 1921 and the exports for the same year?

Imports.Exports.
Quantity.Value.Quantity.Value.
Ozs. Troy.£Ozs. Troy.£
Gold Bullion10,340,64044,174,96910,599,94956,270,494
Gold Coin1,229,5795,501,078724,7013,077,664
Total of Gold Coin and Bullion11,570,21949,676,04711,324,65059,348,158
Silver Bullion46,000,4797,448,72862,562,94410,479,288
Silver Coin11,702,3082,815,7159,747,4171,570,984
Total of Silver Coin and Bullion57,702,78710,264,44372,310,36112,050,272
NOTE.—The above figures are provisional and subject to slight amendment on final examination of the returns.

Colonial Butter

8.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government hold any stocks of Colonial butter now or if they have any control over any stocks held in this country or due to arrive here in the future; if so, can he state when it is proposed to cease the control and owning of such stocks by his Department; and if any price is fixed for the sale of these goods before they are disposed of?

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

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Part Ii (Permanent Panel)

9.

asker the President of the Board of Trade whether, since the announcements made by his Department on the 14th September and 14th December, 1921, and 13th February,

With the permission of the hon. Member I will have figures circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT giving the particulars desired.

The figures are as follow:

The following statement shows the quantities and values of imports into and exports from the United Kingdom of gold and silver bullion and coin in 1921:

1922, a further member has been appointed to the Safeguarding of Industries Act (Part II) permanent panel; whether it is his intention to continue to add members to this panel; if so, whether he will consider the desirability of seeing that the commercial element of the community is given extended representation rather than that the number should be increased by members who are professional, or retired professional, men; and whether a panel of women might usefully be constituted so that on matters particularly affecting women they might have special representation?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. So far as it is possible to judge, it is unlikely that any further additions to the panel will be necessary for the present. With regard to the third part of the question, I would point out that the great majority of the panel already consists of persons of commercial or industrial experience. As regards the last part, I would refer to the answer given to the hon. Member on the 8th May.

Fabric Gloves

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it has been brought to his notice that in the year 1921 the total value of the imports of fabric gloves into Great Britain from all countries only amounted to £570,000, whereas the exports of cotton yarns to Germany alone, excluding finished threads, amounted to £3,715,756; and whether these figures were before the Glove Committee when it made its Report in January upon the question of applying Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act to the protection of the fabric glove industry?

As regards the total value of the imports of fabric gloves in 1921, I would refer to the answer which I gave the hon. Member on the 8th May. The exports of cotton yarns to Germany were as stated in the question, and these figures, together with those relating to imports of fabric gloves, were before the Committee.

Silk Manufactures

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet corapleted his consideration of theprimâ facie case put forward by the British silk manufacturers for the application of the provisions of the Safeguarding of Industries Act to their industry; and, if so, whether he can state the action he proposes to take?

Aprimâ facie case for reference to a Committee was not made out by the applicants, but they have since furnished certain further information which is being considered.

Synthetic Camphor

12.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the date when he received notice of objection to the imposing of a duty upon the importation of synthetic camphor; when the same was submitted to the referee; when a decision is likely to be arrived at; and if he is aware that these prolonged delays entail serious inconvenience to industry?

The formal notice of objection was served by the complainants on 28th December, The necessary statements by both sides were completed by 28th March and the hearing was opened on 1st April. Further proceedings were delayed by the illness of the referee until 29th April, when the second and final hearing took place. I have no doubt the decision will be given as soon as possible. I fully appreciate the desirability of avoiding delay, and there has been no avoidable delay by the Board of Trade in this case.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that this matter has already taken six months, and cannot he do something to prevent so much time being occupied with a single objection?

I regret as much as my hon. Friend the amount of time occupied, but my answer is that in this case it has been inevitable.

Millinery Sprays

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that within the last fortnight a City firm imported 30 parcels of millinery sprays which were detained by the Post Office for assessment of key industries duty on account of the fact that they contained small parts of lamp-blown glass, the total duty levied in the first place being 3s. 1d., which charge was subsequently amended to 11d.; whether he is aware that the Post Office charges for opening these goods in order to make the assessment of lid. amounted to 15s., that is to say, more than 15 times the amount of the duty held to be leviable under the Safeguarding of Industries Act; and whether, in view of the hardship caused to manufacturers in this country who import these goods for manipulation in their own workshops, he proposes to take any action in the matter?

I would refer to the answer given to the hon. Member for Whitechapel on 11th May, and to my subsequent statement in debate on the Board of Trade Vote. I am in communication with the Postmaster-General in the matter.

Does my right hon. Friend not see the stupidity of 15s. being spent in order to collect a tax of 11d., and cannot he make some other efficient arrangement so that this sum of money will not be spent in the collection of so small a tax?

That is exactly the point on which I am communicating with the Postmaster-General. The first I heard of the matter was when my attention was drawn to it by the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Whitechapel.

Snap Fasteners

15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the complaint which has been referred to a committee of inquiry under the Safeguarding of Industries Act (Part II), regarding snap fasteners, includes all types of snap fasteners such as are used for motor-car covers?

The complaint is not limited to any particular variety of snap fasteners, but it will, of course, be open to the committee in their findings to distinguish between different varieties if such a course appears to them desirable.

22.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state the quantities of snap fasteners imported into this country from Japan and from America for the years 1913 and 1921, respectively?

Press Buttons And Studs

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he was aware, before setting up the Committee to inquire into whether serious unemployment was being created in the press-button and stud industry in Great Britain owing to the importation from Germany, that the total value of imports of these articles from Germany during the six months ending 31st March, 1922, was £2,174; and, in view of the inconvenience and disturbance caused to the other manufacurers using these goods in having to leave their businesses and prepare rebutting evidence involving expenditure of time and money, can he say, in the event of the users being able to show that the importation of these goods from Germany is not creating serious unemployment now or in the immediate future, he is in a position to provide for the reimbursing of the expenses incurred in opposing the application?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I have no power to provide for the reimbursement suggested.

Lenses

17.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the 1,050,000 lenses and prisms imported into this country during the past six months chiefly consisted of toy articles such as kaleidoscopes, viewscopes, magic lanterns, magnifying glasses and similar articles; that the average complete value of the lenses and instruments was 6¾d.; and that these are classified as optical and scientific instruments upon which the Key Industry Duty of 33⅓ per cent, is levied; if he can say whether these articles are included in the reference to the Committee which is appointed by him to consider the placing of a further 33⅓ per cent. duty under the depreciated currency provisions of the Safeguarding of Industries Act on the ground that the importation of these toys is causing serious unemployment in this country: and is he aware that another Committee recently reported that the importation of such toys is not causing serious unemployment?

The total number of lenses, prisms, etc., registered as imported during the six months October to March was about 2,000,000. These, no doubt, included a considerable number of lenses imported with complete instruments, but I am unable to confirm the figure mentioned in the question. The average value of about 6½d. includes only the lenses, prisms, etc., not the instruments of which they formed part. Some of the articles mentioned in the question are included under the headings of optical elements or instruments in the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and are therefore liable to key industry duty. So far as such articles come within the scope of the optical or scientific instrument industry, they come within the terms of reference to the Committee referred to in the third part of the question, but so far as they concern the toy-making industry they have already been dealt with by the Toys Committee.

Referee's Decisions

18 and 19.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he is aware that sodium pyrophosphate (cream of tartar substitute) is still retained in the key list under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, although the recent decisions of the referee on points of principle in connection with the cream of tartar appeal definitely ruled that its inclusion was improper; if he will take steps to have this product, with some hundreds of others that are equally affected, removed from the key list without delay;

(2) if he is aware that the referee's decisions on points of principle already given in connection with appeals against the inclusion of certain products in the key list under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, have only been applied to products against which formal notice of appeal had been lodged by their deletion from the key list, and that a number of other products against which formal notice of appeal had not been lodged, but which are equally affected by the referee's rulings, are still retained in the key list; and whether he will order the immediate removal from the list of all such products?

For the purpose of reducing the number of cases to be heard by the referee, I have examined the views he has expressed in awards already given in their bearing on the complaints not yet heard. As a result, certain amendments of the lists issued under Section 1 (5) of the Act have been made. Sodium pyrophosphate has not been the subject of any formal complaint within the terms of Section 1 (5), and was accordingly outside the scope of my review.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how it is possible or easy to make a decision in regard to Part I of the Act when he is unable to make any decision in regard to Part II?

Component Parts

21.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to take action with a view of exempting from the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act articles of trifling value when they are component parts, similar to those of an electric light plant value £100, on which the amount of duty realisable on the dutiable part is 4s., seeing that the collection of such amounts usually entails expenditure of many times that of the duty apart from the delay and labour?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh on 13th February last.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on an electric lighting plant which costs £100 the sum collected is 4s., and does he not think it desirable to correct that?

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the reference I have given, I think he will be satisfied.

Trade With Germany

14.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total value of exports from the United Kingdom to Germany for the quarter ending 31st March; and can he also give the total value of imports from Germany to the United Kingdom for the same period?

The total values of the exports from the United Kingdom, consigned to Germany, and of the imports into the United Kingdom, consigned from Germany, registered during the quarter ended 31st March, 1922, are shown in the published British Official Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation for April, and are as follows:

£
Exports (of produce and manufactures of the United Kingdom)5,410,053
Exports (of foreign and colonial merchandise)4,708,029
Imports5,475,462

League Of Nations

25.

asked the Prime Minister whether the date of the next meeting of the assembly of the League of Nations has been fixed; if so, what is the date; whether the question of the admission of Germany and Russia to the League is to be raised; and who are to be the British representatives at the assembly?

The next session of the assembly of the League of Nations will commence on the 4th September. The question of the admission of Germany and Russia to the League does not appear on the first agenda circulated by the Secretary-General. The British representatives have not yet been nominated.

Is it possible for our Government to propose items for the agenda; and, if the question of the admission of these two countries, which have taken part in Genoa, is left out of the agenda, will the Government consider proposing it for discussion?

Does the omission of this question from the agenda prevent it coming up for discussion by the League?

My information is that it has not appeared on the first agenda circulated. I assume from that that there is still an opportunity of putting on items on the agenda; I think there is.

Is the attitude of the Government friendly to the admission of these two countries, and, if so, would they make it known?

I cannot answer a question of that kind, and I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will feel that himself. I do not think they stand quite in the same category.

31.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Council of the League of Nations has just assembled; and, if so, what is the agenda for the meeting?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The agenda is of considerable length, and perhaps the hon. Member will refer to the copy which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Peace Treaties

Eastern Galicia

26.

asked the Prime Minister whether the question of Eastern Galicia has been considered at Genoa; and whether, in view of the continued neglect by the Polish Government of the recommendations both of the Supreme Council and of the League of Nations in regard to Eastern Galicia, any further effort can be made diplomatically to persuade the Polish Government to give autonomy to Eastern Galicia?

(Mr. Cecil Harmsworth—who was received with cheers on his return after recent indisposition): It is understood that this question is engaging the attention of the Powers at Genoa. Separate diplomatic action would therefore be out of place.

German Reparation

37.

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government is aware of preparations alleged to have been made in France to mobilise troops to extend the occupation of German territory if reparations due are not paid by 31st May; if so, were they informed of these preparations by the French Government; if similar preparations are being made in Belgium; and, if His Majesty's Government have no information, will they make inquiries through the usual channels as to what preparations, if any, are being made?

His Majesty's Government is aware that it has been alleged that preparations have been made in France to mobilise troops to extend the occupation of German territory if reparations due are not paid by 31st May, but has reason to know that these allegations are untrue, and that no such preparations for the purpose alleged have been made either in France or Belgium. The answer to the second and third parts of the question is therefore in the negative.

38.

asked the Prime Minister the terms and the date of the invitation that the French Government has been reluctant to accept to discuss what common action should be taken by the Allies through a default by Germany in the payment of reparations; and the reasons communicated by the French Government for their reluctance?

On the 26th April the Prime Minister made to M. Barthou a request that a meeting of the Allied States signatories of the Treaty of Versailles should be held at Genoa before the dispersal of the present Conference to consider the attitude to be taken towards Germany on 31st May. The French Government have indicated, in reply, that they would not take part in any conversations on this subject before 31st May, either at Genoa or elsewhere.

Cannot we have definite and precise details of this request by the Prime Minister? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us view with a considerable amount of anxiety the growing tension between this country and France?

I do not know that I could make my information more specific than I have done. I have given the date at which the Prime Minister made the request and I have given the answer which M. Barthou, on behalf of the French Government, conveyed to the Prime Minister at Genoa. No documents were exchanged and the communications were verbal on both sides. I also view with anxiety and regret any failure to discuss freely agreements between us which may lead to estrangement or difficulty in critical circumstances.

Can we have an assurance that discussions will take place before any action of a military nature is taken against Germany?

Austria (Coal)

39.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the difficulty experienced by Austria in obtaining a sufficient supply of coal to enable her industries to compete in the markets of the world; whether he is aware that her water power, if developed, would give her over 60 per cent, of the energy and heat she needs; and will he say if Austria will be given an equal opportunity with Russia to obtain the money needed to develop her water power under the Trade Facilities Acts or other method by which this country is to be asked to assist in the reconstruction of Russia?

I am afraid I cannot undertake to answer what is at present a hypothetical question. As the hon. and gallant Member will be aware, very considerable financial assistance has been given, both directly and indirectly, by this country to Austria?

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by calling it a hypothetical question? Is it the first part or the second part which is hypothetical?

There is a small element of hypothesis in the first part, and a large element in the second part.

Why is it there is so strong a demand in this House for action against Germany while Austria is never mentioned in terms of indemnity, but always in terms of help?

Bulgaria (Allied Officers' Pay)

76.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the chief of the military organ of liquidation in Bulgaria receives 35 times as much pay as the chief-of-the-staff of the Bulgarian Army, as well as free quarters and motor cars; and, in view of the stringent economy enjoined upon the Bulgarian Army by the Allies, he will inquire into these rates of pay?

The rates of pay of the Allied officers serving on the military organisation of liquidation in Bulgaria were fixed by joint decision of the Allies. As they do not represent an unreasonable remuneration at the present rate of exchange, and as the organisation will be withdrawn as soon as the military clauses of the Treaty of Neuilly have been executed, I see no reason to review them.

Egypt (Sudan)

27.

asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to reports to the effect that the Egyptian Constitution Commission has declared the Sudan to be an inseparable part of Egypt; and, if so, will he state what attitude the Government propose to take in regard to the matter?

30.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Egyptian ministers and officials engaged upon the task of framing the future relations between Egypt and Great Britain have been definitely informed that the limits of concession have been reached, and that proposals put forward to annex the Sudan on behalf of the Egyptian Government, or other proposals which touch upon specially reserved subjects, will tend to imperil further negotiations?

I am aware that a sub-committee of the Egyptian Constitution Commission has made known in Egypt its intention of inserting in the draft constitution some such Clause as is alluded to by my hon. Friend. Lord Allenby has drawn the attention of the Egyptian Prime Minister to the impropriety of the Commission's incorporating in the draft constitution for Egypt any Clause dealing with the Sudan, since the Sudan is one of the points reserved for future discussion between His Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government. The Egyptian Government entirely share Lord Allenby's view of the incident, and Sarwat Pasha has promised to draw the serious attention of the Chairman of the Commission to the impropriety of what has occurred.

68.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government are contemplating or have come to any arrangement with the Government of the Sudan to permit of such financial assistance to the Sudan as will enable work to proceed for the entire completion of the Blue Nile dam; if so, what is the arrangement made; and, if not, what is the position of British shareholders in previous loans issued by the Government of the Sudan for the purpose of this work, which were guaranteed, as to interest, by the British Government.

As I informed the hon. and gallant Member on the 9th November, the whole subject is under consideration. The position of British shareholders in the Guaranteed Loan of 1919 is in no way affected.

Will my hon. Friend take care that if financial assistance is given there shall be no change in the constitution as regards this country?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that the con- stitution of the Sudan is one of the reserved subjects to be discussed when the whole question of Egypt comes up for consideration.

In that case, will the hon. Gentleman take care not to give any of the British taxpayers' money to a country which may pass partially out of our power?

69.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to recent statements made in Cairo regarding the present and future status of the Sudan and its definite relationship to the British Empire and whether the policy of the Government has in any way changed from that stated in 1921, namely, that any change in the administration of Egypt would in no way alter the political status of the Sudan?

I have been unable to trace the statement referred to by the hon. and gallant Member, but he may rest assured that no changes are contemplated in the administration of Egypt which will affect the political status of the Sudan.

70.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the concern and apprehension caused to the British and Sudanese of all classes, it is the intention of the Government to state clearly that there is no intention of handing over the administration of the Sudan to the Government in Cairo and that the development of the country will be continued under British administration and control?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made on this subject by the Prime Minister on 28th February, which Lord Allenby took occasion to quote in the course of a speech at Khartoum on the 26th April.

Ireland

Refugees

28.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that large numbers of ex-service men and loyalists have been forcibly compelled to leave Southern Ireland, abandoning their property and means of livelihood, and to seek refuge in this country; and whether the British Government will make provision for the maintenance of such persons and their families, many of whom are without means of support owing to the seizure of their property and businesses?

The Government have appointed a small Committee, presided over by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea, to consider cases of urgent distress among refugees who have been driven out of Ireland.

Will this Committee have full powers to provide accommodation for these people, who at the present moment are without means, and are stranded in this country?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on behalf of the Government, has placed a small sum at the disposal of this Committee to be used in cases of real distress, where the reasons for leaving Ireland are considered to be adequate, until the conditions in Ireland are so settled that the families can return.

Malicious Injuries (Compensation)

36.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the many cases of destruction of, and injuries to, property in Southern Ireland which have occurred since the date of the truce, on 11th July, 1921, and of the fact that Lord Shaw's Commission is not empowered to deal with these cases, he will take immediate steps to appoint a commission or tribunal to deal with such of those cases as have occurred between the 11th July, 1921, and 1st April, 1922, the date of the Order in Council transferring powers to the Provisional Government, and will urge on the Provisional Government the necessity of appointing a commission or tribunal to deal with such of those cases as have occurred, or may occur, since 1st April, 1922?

No, Sir. The Provisional Government hope that it will he possible to deal with all such cases in due course of law; and unless and until it becomes clear that this hope cannot be fulfilled, His Majesty's Government do not propose to suggest any different method of dealing with such cases.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that between the date of the truce and the date of the transfer of powers to the Provisional Government in control this year the British Government is responsible for paying some compensation to British subjects who have suffered injury?

I do not quite follow the hon. Baronet's question. The Provisional Government hopes to deal with all these cases in due course of law, and obviously that is the most desirable way of dealing with them.

I suggest that in the period between the date of the truce and the date of the transfer of the powers to the Provisional Government it is the responsibility of the British Government to pay compensation.

As there is a representative of the Provisional Government on this Committee, would it not be possible to have the reference to it extended by mutual consent so that these cases could be dealt with?

I should like to have notice of questions of that kind. My impression is that the source from which compensation will come in one class of case and the other may be different, and therefore there is reason for a different procedure here. I should like to have notice of the question so that I may give a full answer.

Surely the British Government was responsible for law and order in Ireland until the Provisional Government was set up, and, therefore, the British Government is responsible up to April for the damage done?

I am going to say what probably would come better from you, Mr. Speaker, that I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is putting an argument in the guise of a question.

Genoa Conference

29.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information to give to the House with regard to the progress of events at the Genoa Conference?

48.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the critical news from Genoa in the Press, which is the only source of information available to the House, and of the fear which is felt by the majority of the people of this country that theentente between England and France is seriously endangered, he has any statement to make as to the proceedings of the Genoa Conference during the latter part of the week ending 13th May; and whether the House of Commons will be given an early opportunity of debating the question and of being fully informed of the proceedings of the Conference up to date?

The reply of the Soviet Government to the Memorandum of the 3rd May has been received, and has been carefully examined by the Powers, and at the time that my latest information was sent off it seemed likely that all the Powers would be agreed as to the proper method of treating it. But I have no official information later than Saturday evening.

Will papers be laid before the House with regard to the proceeding at Genoa? At the present moment they are in rather a confused state.

I have, of course, laid the paper which was communicated to the Soviet representative, and there can be no objection to laying the reply of the Russian representative, although the substance of it has already appeared in the Press. I should prefer, however, to wait until the documents are received. Beyond that I cannot go until the Conference has finished its work. I have communicated with the Prime Minister on this subject.

Will the House have an opportunity of debating the whole question of Genoa in view of the fact that the only result up to the present is an Anglo-French disagreement and a Russo-German agreement?

As only a few summaries have appeared in the Papers, would it not be a convenience if Papers could be laid?

I should prefer delaying Papers for a day or two, if by that means I am able to lay at the same time the reply of the Powers.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the proceedings at Genoa are likely to terminate?

35.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Bolshevist delegates at Genoa have at any time categorically accepted the Cannes Resolutions and the conditions attached thereto since the opening of the International Conference?

Yes, Sir. M. Tchitcherin, speaking on behalf of the Russian Delegation at the first Plenary Session, stated that they adopted the Cannes Resolutions in principle, while reserving the right to present on their own part Supplementary Articles and Amendments to the existing Articles.

Has not Genoa shown that it is impossible to negotiate with the sanguinary scoundrels of the Soviet?

Anglo-French Oil Agreement

32.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Anglo-French oil agreement signed at San Remo on 24th April, 1920, is still in operation: if so, what steps His Majesty's Government take to see that these conditions are adhered to, especially in regard to Clause 6 regarding Russia: and whether any proposals are under consideration to include Italy in this agreement?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Clause 6 and other similar provisions in the agreement come into force only if British and French nationals decide to co-operate in the acquisition of specific concessions. As regards the third part of the question, there is no present intention of extending the agreement to other countries, but the Italian Government has asked for assurances as to certain features of the agreement, and these have been given.

Russia

Soviet Government (Recognition)

33.

asked the Prime Minister whether he and Signor Giolitti met at Lucerne and pledged themselves to give official recognition to the Soviet Government when the Bolshevist Armies occupied Warsaw; whether such an agreement is still in force; and whether he has any statement to make?

47.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, at the time when Poland seemed on the eve of being beaten by the Bolshevist Army, the Prime Minister pledged himself to Signor Giolitti to give official recognition to the Soviet Government as soon as the Bolshevist Armies occupied Warsaw; and whether he is in a position to make a statement on this matter?

I have had the notes of the conversations which took place between the Prime Minister and Signor Giolitti at Geneva in August, 1920, examined. They contain nothing that lends any support to this allegation, which is absolutely devoid of truth.

Reconstruction (British Assistance)

40.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the event of the British delegation at Genoa considering the reply of the Russian Government to the Memorandum of 3rd May, or as it may be subsequently modified, satisfactory, he will say what is the total sum which it is intended this country shall be pledged to advance to the Soviet Government under the Trade Facilities Act, under the scheme of an international corporation, under the exports credit scheme, or other financial scheme for the reconstruction of Russia?

It has been repeatedly stated that it is not proposed by His Majesty's Government to make any loan to the Soviet Government. As regards trade credits under the Trade Facilities Act or in connection with the International Corporation, I can make no statement in the present conditions at Genoa.

Will financial assistance be given to British merchants desirous of opening up trade with Russia or to the Russians themselves?

The proposals discussed were of the nature indicated in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question.

Armies (Frontier Concentration)

78.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now any information as to the preparations being made by the Bolshevist Government to attack Poland and Roumania, reports of these alleged preparations having been repeatedly produced recently, especially in the French Press?

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for the Wrekin Division (Sir C. Townshend) on the 11th May.

British Ships (Outrages)

79.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any reply has been received from the Soviet Government regarding the representations addressed to it recently with respect to the outrages committed against a number of British ships whilst navigating in the vicinity of the Russian coasts; and, if so, will he state the terms of such reply?

Yes, Sir, a reply has been received refusing to give the-satisfaction demanded. The matter is forming the subject of further representations.

Canadian Cattle Embargo

34.

asked the Prime Minister whether any communications have been made to the Canadian Government, through the Canadian High Commissioner or otherwise, since the Imperial Conference of 1917, explaining or modifying the pledge then given by Lord Ernle as Minister of Agriculture for the removal of the embargo on Canadian cattle; and whether such communications will be placed before Parliament before the discussion of the question in this House?

81.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, at the time of the Armistice or afterwards, any communication was sent from his Department to the Government of the Dominion of Canada with regard to the position of our flocks and herds in relation to the meat supplies of the country, and the bearing of that position upon our policy in the matter of the importation of store cattle; and, if so, whether the letter will be published before the House discusses any motion in regard to the cattle embargo?

I must apologise for the length of my reply, but the question asked is a very important one. Lord Ernie, then President of the Board of Agriculture, stated in this House on 25th May, 1917 (within a month of the Imperial War Conference), in reply to a question put by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, that at that time permission to import Canadian cattle, except for slaughter at the ports, was plainly impossible, that the prohibition rested rather on the agricultural policy of the United Kingdom than on the risk of disease, and that he could not say whether or under what conditions Canadian cattle might hereafter be permitted to enter this country except for slaughter at the ports. After the Armistice, on 3rd March, 1919, in the presence of the hon. Member for Sparkbrook, who was then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lorn Ernle informed Mr. Robertson, representative of the Canadian Department of Agriculture, and Mr. Arkell, Live Stock Commissioner for Canada, who were making representations on behalf of the Canadian Government through unofficial channels, that in view of the unsettled state of British agriculture following war conditions, it would be quite inopportune to take any action toward the removal of the embargo at that time. This interview was mentioned by Lord Ernle in a speech in another place on 25th March, 1920. In November, 1919, and January, 1921, a correspondence took place on the subject between my predecessor, Lord Lee of Fareham, and Sir George Perley, then High Commissioner for Canada, which is published in Appendix II of the Proceedings before the Royal Commission on Canadian Store Cattle. Lord Lee there restated the views previously expressed by Lord Ernle.

Is it not the case that the Noble Lord, Lord Long, when in office, also gave a pledge, a very definite pledge, at the Imperial Conference to the Canadian Government in regard to this matter?

Whitsuntide Recess

41.

asked the Prime Minister what arrangement is contemplated for Whitsuntide; when will the House rise; and for how long?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make the statement early in the week, and not at the end of it?

I cannot tell. I may be able to make it on Monday or I may not. If we do not make the progress with business I anticipate, perhaps it would be better for me to wait and see.

Can we have a statement which will dispose of the disquieting statement that the Government only intend to let the House have a long week-end?

The House and the Government are partners in this matter. Our interests are the same, and our duties are the same. Our interest is to get the longest holiday we can. Our duty is to do our business before we go on holiday.

Channel Tunnel

42.

asked the Prime Minister whether there is any prospect of a decision upon the advisability of proceeding with the construction of the Channel tunnel in the near future?

National Expendituee

43.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what decision has been come to by the Government to carry out their intention of accelerating the reduction of expenditure; and whether he will state precisely why this work could not be done by a Parliamentary Committee having the Geddes terms of reference?

44.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he intends to re-appoint the Geddes Committee for the purpose of reviewing and developing the recommendations which they made last year?

The Treasury has already taken up with the Departments the question as to what immediate and prospective reductions can be made on their Votes for the current year, and, as soon as answers are received, will be engaged in discussing with them all possible means of effecting economies. Committees are also being appointed to investigate (1) the practicability of a Ministry of Defence as recommended by the Geddes Committee, (2) the amalgamation and co-ordination of services common to the various fighting forces, and (3) the feasibility of introducing a system of making lump sum instead of percentage grants to local authorities. No advantage would be gained—at least at the present stage—by setting up any further Committee to deal with such matters.

Seeing that the Treasury have negotiated with the Admiralty and the Admiralty have said that they cannot reduce the expenditure, will the Government, in view of the complete divergence of opinion between the Geddes Committee and the Admiralty, have a special inquiry made into the case of Admiralty expenditure?

There is another question on the Paper as to Admiralty expenditure in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn). I think my hon. Friend is a little too pessimistic as to the result of the discussions.

Having regard to the failure of the Treasury last year to effect economies and the fact that the Geddes Committee had to be appointed because the Treasury could not control the Departments, will the right hon. Gentleman give the Treasury an assurance that they have the Cabinet behind them in dealing with this problem?

I cannot accept the premisses of my hon. Friend. I think they are really unfair alike to the Departments and to the Treasury. If my memory serves me aright, a saving of something like seventy millions had been made by the Departments and the Treasury in combination before any proposals were submitted by the Geddes Committee. But that is past history. I could not, however, entirely pass over what my hon. Friend said. He may rest assured that the Exchequer and the Treasury and the other Departments know that the Government are behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury efforts to reduce the expenditure of the country.

Why does the Lord Privy Seal consistently refuse to a Committee of this House the power of checking expenditure which he was willing to give, and did give with so much success, to an outside Committee?

I have offered more than once a Committee of this House, but every time I have done so my hon. and gallant Friend has put down a blocking Motion.

The right hon. Gentleman has never offered to a Committee of this House the terms of reference he gave to the Geddes Committee?

45.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, of the £21,000,000 reduction on the Navy Estimates proposed by the Geddes Committee, only £4,000,000 have been effectively made?

Of the reduction of £21,000,000 on the Navy Estimates proposed by the Geddes Committee, only fourteen millions were specified. Of this latter amount not all, even if accepted, could have been realised in the current, year owing to terminal charges, including compensation for discharges, and to the fact that when you are dealing with a service spread all over the globe delays must necessarily take place in effecting the necessary reductions. In the Esti mates of the current year the amount is less by sixteen millions than the Provisional Estimate which was before the Geddes Committee. Of this figure approximately eleven millions is directly due to the results of the Washington Conference, leaving a sum of five millions; but in order to assess the effective saving for the future this figure has to be increased by the amount represented by the terminal charges referred to above.

Then are we to take it that the statement by Sir Eric Geddes, an ex-First Lord of the Admiralty, which is repeated in this question, is inaccurate?

The hon. and gallant Member is very anxious to embroil me with my right hon. Friend Sir Eric Geddes, but if he will take my answer for what it states, and will not attempt to provoke a quarrel between Sir Eric Geddes and me, I shall be grateful.

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to any particular items in the Report of the Geddes Committee which have not been complied with, such, for example, as the reduction of Pembroke Dockyard, which is absolutely superfluous?

Would the right hon. Gentleman send a copy of this answer to his right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law)?

My attention has been called to the case of Pembroke. It was my duty—my rather painful duty—to receive a deputation from Pembroke, who pointed out how entirely the development of the town had been the creation of the Government dockyard, and how disastrous to the town and the fortunes of people who had embarked their money in every kind of investment there owing to the Government dockyard, would be the closing of the dockyard. But I quite agree that, in these days of necessarily rigid economy, one must face even hardships of that kind, if it can be shown that the dockyard is not needed.

Mining Accidents (Shot-Firing)

50.

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of accidents, fatal and non-fatal, that occurred in the mines of Great Britain during the year 1921 as a result of shot firing; whether safety appliances were used by the shot firers; if so, in how many cases; is he aware that the colliery firemen's association are strongly in favour of using these safety appliances; and will he take steps by legislation, if necessary, to enforce their adoption?

14 persons were killed and 167 suffered serious injury by accidents arising out of the use of explosives at mines during 1921. As regards the rest of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Rhondda West (Mr. John) on 7th March.

Did not the Secretary for Mines promise a deputation that he would consider setting a colliery apart where these tests could be exclusively taken, and what steps have been taken to give effect to that promise?

I should like to consider it. Everything, of course, should be done to ensure that a satisfactory experiment should be made. I am quite ready to take any steps, and I have set up a technical committee to go into the question of safety appliances in general.

Oil Borings, Midlothian

51.

asked the Secretary for Mines if oil has been struck in D'Arcy bore, Midlothian; what is the depth; whether the strata reached are oil bearing; and what is likely to be the quantity of oil delivered per hour?

Oil was met with on 6th May in the D'Arcy borehole at a depth of 1,810 feet, and the oil bearing formation was penetrated to a depth of 10 feet. By 9th May the oil had risen 170 feet in the borehole, the diameter of which is 8 inches. The oil is of excellent quality, with a high percentage of petrol, kerosene and lubricating oils. It will probably be necessary to instal a pump before an estimate of the yield can be arrived at.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at West Calder, although oil was struck, the quantities first issuing from the boring did not continue, and are the experts satisfied, when we have struck oil here, that it is likely to continue?

I should be very reluctant to say anything of the kind. The hon. Gentleman knows what a precarious thing it is.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if the force of the oil is sufficient without requiring a pump?

I have already said that it will probably require a pump to bring it to the surface.

52.

asked the Secretary for Mines what has been the total cost of the bore at West Calder, now abandoned, and of the bore at D'Arcy, Midlothian, up to the present; and how much more money will require to be spent before operations cease?

It is difficult to furnish definite particulars of the actual cost of individual borings which form part of the general scheme to drill for oil undertaken by Messrs. S. Pearson and Son under their agreement with His Majesty's Government. The estimated cost of the boring at West Calder to 31st December, 1921, may be put at £50,202, and of the D'Arcy Well at £42,298. These sums include a proportion of all overhead charges. The West Calder boring has now been abandoned at a depth of 3,918 feet, and drilling has been suspended at D'Arcy owing to oil having been met with at a depth of 1,810 feet. The further expenditure necessary should be very small, and it is hoped that it may be found possible to turn the D'Arcy Well over to commercial interests on favourable terms.

Coal (Pbices)

53.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the high retail prices still charged for household coal despite the big reduction in production costs, the Government will consider as to appointing a committee to inquire into the question of coal costs and prices and to report, among other things, as to the various profits resulting from the handling of coal at the various stages before it reaches the consumer?

Such a committee would be ineffective without the reimposition of some form of control, and I think it would be better to give a longer trial to the policy of leaving these things to the ordinary play of economic forces.

Dons not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be advisable to communicate with these middlemen in order to ensure that cheaper coal shall be supplied to consumers in the future than at the present time?

There are so many different kinds of coal that it is very difficult—

There are many different kinds of household coal. The hon. and gallant Member might get some household coal at much less than the best price, but I am not sure whether he would keep his cook.

China

Boxer Indemnity

64.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Boxer indemnity, when paid, is, or is not, the property of the British taxpayer; and, if it is, whether he will give an assurance that such funds will not be squandered upon educating Chinese students in England or any other foreign extension of our educational expenditure?

The Boxer indemnity is for damage sustained or military expenditure incurred during the rising of 1900, and the British share would be due to the Exchequer for the benefit of the taxpayer. On the entry of China into the War, indemnity payments were postponed for five years from 1st December, 1917, until 1st December, 1922. The attitude to be adopted by His Majesty's Government towards the resumption of indemnity payments next December is now under consideration in its various aspects, and I cannot anticipate at this stage what course His Majesty's Government will decide to take.

Cannot my hon. Friend give some assurance that it will not be presumed on behalf of the taxpayer that education of the Chinese student at his expense will be to his advantage?

Education

77.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why a Committee to consider the question of educating Chinese on British lines has been appointed; and what portion of the proposed expenditure is to be met from funds found by the British taxpayer?

The Committee has been appointed because the British community in China and well-informed opinion in this country believe the question to be one of considerable importance. Until it has reported, it is premature to discuss the question of expenditure.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that amongst the people who are ill-informed, to accept his distribution, he includes the whole of the taxpayers and ratepayers of the country, who are finding £103,000,000 this year for education? Are they not entitled to any little thing which may come in to help them to pay that enormous bill?

Is it a fact that the Committee has not met more than once during the whole year, and the last meeting was more than a year ago?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Americans spend a good deal of money in educating the Chinese, and if we did the same it would very much help our trading interests there?

I am aware they have spent a large sum of money in education in China and regard it as money very well spent indeed. As regards the meetings of the Committee, I will make inquiries.

British Missions (Ex-Enemy Countries)

66.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the number of British Missions, excluding the ordinary diplomatic missions, in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey?

As regards Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria, I would refer my hon Friend to the very full written reply given on 11th May to a question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith. There are no British Missions in Turkey, although there are various minor inter-Allied, organisations deriving mainly from Allied Military Occupation of Constantinople.

If I were to put a question on the Paper, would the hon. Gentleman be willing to give the amount of our interim expenses in respect of the Commission which we hope to recover from other countries?

I should be very glad to do that, but I shall probably have to ask for considerable notice, because I must inquire of another Department.

British Subjects, Florida (Protection)

72.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received yet any report as to the protection afforded at Miami, Florida, to British coloured citizens and to those missionaries who try to help them; whether the Rev. Irwin has yet received any compensation for the outrage committed upon him; and whether any other British subjects, white or coloured, have been forced to leave Miami by the threats or violence of the Ku Klux Klan within the last six months?

Reports have been received from His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington respecting the cases previously mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend. As regards the case of Mr. Irwin, the United States Government have informed His Majesty's Ambassador that diligent endeavours have been made to apprehend the persons responsible for the treatment accorded to this gentleman, but without result. No compensation has been paid to Mr. Irwin. I have heard of no case in which a British subject has been forced to leave Miami within the last six months.

Iceland

74.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any figures to show the number of merchants and other business men of British birth or nationality resident in Iceland; and whether, if there are any, he will consider inviting one of these to undertake the duties of consul or vice-consul?

According to the information available in this Department, there are no merchants or other business men of British birth or nationality normally resident in Iceland.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman, now that he is happily restored to this House, whether he will look into the question. There is much indignation amongst the fishermen who frequent those waters at the lack of protection they receive.

I know what the hon. and gallant Gentleman means. I had made inquiries.

75.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he yet has any information with regard to the arrest, conviction, and fining of the British fishing trawlers, "Sethon" and "Mikado," in Icelandic waters; and whether he can see his way to consider the making of formal representations to the Icelandic Government against the harsh treatment of our trawlers visiting Iceland on their lawful occasions?

These trawlers were fined respectively 2,500 kroner and 2,000 kroner for being found inside Icelandic territorial waters without having their fishing gear stowed away as prescribed by law. The skippers pleaded guilty and acquiesced in the fines imposed. No grounds have been shown for making representations to the Icelandic Government in any of these cases.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the fine in the second case was 2,000 kroner—

And that these skippers by no means acquiesced in these fines. Complaints of harsh treatment by the Icelandic Government and the officers of the gunboat are very strongly felt?

I am aware that there is great dissatisfaction amongst the fishing community in regard to the matter.

Transport

Tuxnel (Kent And Essex)

59.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport if his attention has been called to the resolutions passed by the county councils of Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire, calling for the construction of a tunnel between Kent and Essex, both for foot passengers, railway, and vehicular road traffic; and whether, having regard to the congestion arising from London being the only channel for traffic, he will consult these county authorities, each of whom have large numbers of unemployed available, with a view to the construction of a tunnel?

No, Sir. I have not received any resolutions from the county councils referred to. The matter is not one in which I am in a position to take any action.

Workmen's Excursion Fares

60.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport if he is aware that the railway companies are refusing to give cheap fares for workmen's annual excursions and, by insisting upon the present high charges, are depriving miners and other workmen of the benefit of their annual excursions; is he aware that the special rates charged in 1914 were, Cinderford to Blackpool, 5s. 9d return, and Cinderford to London, 6s. 7d return, whereas the rates demanded this year are 19s. 3d. and 25s. 9d.; and, in view of the reduced cost to the railway companies in wages, coal and other materials, will he make representations to the general managers of the railways concerned to reduce the charges so that the workmen may continue to have the benefit of their annual trips?

I understand that the companies are prepared to run day excursions between the points named at single fares for the return journey, which is the general basis adopted for excursion traffic to-day.

Roads, Durham

61.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether he is aware of the serious condition of disrepair of most of the roads in the County of Durham, especially of those radiating from West Hartlepool; and what early assistance his department can render to the local road authorities?

I am aware that many of the principal roads in the County of Durham, including those in the neighbourhood of West Hartlepool, are in serious need of repair. A programme is under consideration by the county council for extensive works of reconstruction, upon which the representative of this Ministry has been consulted. I hope that this programme will shortly be put in hand, with the aid of grants from the Road Fund.

Omnibus And Underground Routes (Congestion)

62.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether his department has recently made special inquiries into the state of congestion on the omnibus and underground routes, particularly at those hours of the day when professional and Government department employees have to travel; whether his department is still making practical investigations; what report has been rendered; have the Government insisted on better facilities, and if so what; have the Government considered the diversion of freight traffic from passenger routes at certain hours of the day; and what action does His Majesty's Government intend to take, in view of the fact that £5,000,000 has been granted to the traffic combine under the Trades Facilities Act?

The subject of facilities for London traffic has been, as the hon. Member is aware, the subject of several general inquiries, and the whole question of the control of London traffic will no doubt be considered by the Royal Commission on London Government. The matter is under continual observation by the Departments concerned, and I would refer the hon. Member to my answer to his question last Monday, to which I can only add that freight traffic is not carried over underground routes during peak load hours.

In the event of a Royal Commission being appointed and reporting, will some attention be given to it or will it be kept in the archives of the Government the same as they have done for the last century with regard to London traffic?

Iron (Railway Rates)

63.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport if he is aware that the railway-rate for a ton of bar-iron from Low Moor to Liverpool, which is £1 11s. 4d., instead of 14s. 5d. in 1914, was fixed in September, 1920, and has not been reduced, notwithstanding the decrease in the price of coal and wages employed in the transport; and, seeing that such a high freight rate operates prejudicially to any improvement in the export trade of iron, whether he will explain the reason for the delay that takes place in the reduction of the rates?

I understand that the rates for a 1-ton lot would be as stated in the first part of the question, and as regards the latter part I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of the 1st instant. He will be aware no doubt that within the last few days the companies have agreed to further modifications in charges for certain classes of traffic to come into operation on the 22nd instant.

Is the Minister satisfied with these reductions which were published last Saturday, and in a case like this, where a high charge has continued for a long time after expenses have fallen, should they not discount any future fall which is likely to take place and moderate the charges?

The matter is one in which the Minister is unable to take any effective action. It lies with the railway companies, subject to a public right of appeal, to fix the charges.

Education

Secondary Schools (Girls)

54.

asked the President of the Board of Education the proportion of girls receiving secondary education to the number of boys, and the total number in each case?

The number of girls in grant-aided secondary schools in England and Wales on the 1st October, 1921, was 176,241, and of boys 184,374. The proportion of girls to boys was, approximately, 96 to 100.

Motor-Car (Delivery Of Stores, Kent)

55.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has investigated the proposal of the education committee of the Kent County Council to purchase a motor-car for the delivery of stores to various districts within its area; how many motor-cars are to be employed in this service at the public expense; and whether it is his intention to take steps to prevent this extension of county council trading, which is carried on to a very large extent at the cost of the ratepayers and to the serious disadvantage of individual enterprise within the area of the county council?

I am informed that the Kent County Council have authorised their education committee as an experiment to purchase a motor lorry for the distribution of school materials to schools in their area. The arrangement, which presumably has been devised in the interests of the ratepayers, will, I understand, be subject to review in the light of its convenience and economy. I see no grounds for intervening in the matter.

Teachers (Superannuation)

57.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, with reference to the contributory scheme for the superannuation of school teachers, the amount of the pension payable will be calculated on the amount of the salary earned or on the amount of the salary less the 5 per cent, contribution?

Salary taken into account for the calculation of pension will be salary unreduced by the amount of contribution. I would call the hon. and gallant Member's attention to Clause 4 of the Bill.

58.

asked the President of the Board of Education, with reference to the contributory scheme for superannuation of school teachers, whether, in the event of a teacher who has contributed to the scheme dying or leaving his employment before he is eligible for benefit, his contribution will be returnable to him or his estate?

(by Private Notice) asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is intended to proceed with the Teachers' Superannuation Bill to-morrow, in view of the fact that the Committee thereupon which was proposed by the Government has not yet reported?

Does not this create difficulty in the minds of hon. Members in knowing how to vote, seeing that the Government have appointed a Committee to investigate the question, and that it is desirable that the Committee should present its Report before hon. Members are called on to vote?

The Government are proposing to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee on National Expenditure. That recommendation was to the effect that there should be an inquiry into the whole question of teachers' superannuation, and that pending the results of that inquiry the contribution of 5 per cent. in respect of pensions should be levied on teachers. It is for the pur- pose of giving effect to that recommendation that the Government are introducing the Bill.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise how very difficult it is for the House to discuss the Second Reading of this Measure when, apart altogether from the merits, the method by which this superannuation is to be carried out, and which is a matter of vital importance on the Second Reading, is the subject of inquiry?

Is it the intention of the Government before this Committee reports that the teachers should be, debited with 5 per cent, towards superannuation?

Is it proposed to apply this 5 per cent, collection in those areas where teachers are not on the Burnham scales?

Hon. Members must not anticipate the Debate which is to take place to-morrow.

Can the right hon. Gentleman state whether the inquiry is likely to be a long one or whether the Committee has been instructed to report very rapidly?