Passenger Aeroplanes (Wireless Apparatus)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of passenger-carrying aeroplanes trading between the Continent and Great Britain are fitted with wireless; and whether, for the greater safety of travellers, he is prepared to consider enforcing regulations in this regard with respect to every plane which carries passengers to and from this country?
This question should have been addressed to me. An agreement, which is being drawn up with the British aircraft companies operating on the recognised air routes between England and abroad under the Subsidy Scheme, will include a Clause providing that all approved fleets of aircraft shall be equipped with wireless. The agreement containing this Clause has not yet been signed, but at present all the large aircraft, 15 in number, trading regularly between London and Paris and London and Brussels are fitted with wireless and communicate regularly with the Air Ministry ground stations. Two small aircraft, with accommodation for only two passengers each, are not fitted. As regards foreign machines on the London-Continental route, one French machine is at present fitted with wireless, and the French companies have agreed that all their large passenger-carrying aircraft on this service shall be similarly equipped by the middle of August. The Dutch are also arranging to equip with wireless their aircraft on the Holland-England route.
May we take it that, before the end of the year, all machines, British or foreign, travelling between this country and other countries will be equipped with wireless?
Yes. I hope they will he so equipped long before the end of the flying season.
Trade And Commerce
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that penknives, cigarette cases, ash trays, metal pencil cases, pottery mugs, and various other articles, all bearing the name of a British trader, are allowed to be imported into this country without any indication of the country of origin thereon, on the ground that such articles are to be ultimately given away as advertisements; and if he will take legal opinion as to whether such admission is in accordance with the provisions of Section 16 of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, and in the meantime discontinue further admission of such articles?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative except that the articles referred to are not regarded as bearing the name of a British manufacturer in the sense in which the word "bear" is used in Section 16 of the Merchandise Marks Act. The administration of that Section is in the hands of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, and I am informed that their practice in this matter is in accordance with an opinion given by the Law Officers who were consulted in 1908. In view of this opinion the Commissioners hold that the articles in question cannot under the existing law be required to be marked with an indication of their country of origin, or, failing such indication, be prohibited from importation.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that in the Merchandise Marks Bill in another place words are inserted to make it wide enough to include articles of this sort?
That will be a very good opportunity of discussing the whole subject.
Can the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to see that goods manufactured abroad shall not be represented as British goods bearing the name of a British firm?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to press forward the new Bill to regulate merchandise marks?
The new Bill is proceeding in another place with quite conventional rapidity.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Government of India has recently placed an order for 5,000 binoculars with a French firm; and whether he will suggest to the respective Governments in the overseas Dominions and Crown Colonies that where British goods are equal in quality and price preference might be given to British products?
I would refer, as regards the first part of the question, to the answer given by the Under-Secretary for India to the hon. Member for the Newton Division of Lancashire on 29th March; and as regards the second part, to the Resolution on Imperial preference passed by the Imperial War Conference in 1917. I have no evidence that the principle laid down in this Resolution has not been acted upon.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an explanation why, if these goods can be made in Great Britain equal to the foreign article, the Indian Government placed this order in another country?
If the hon. Member will refer to the first answer I gave, he will find his question answered.
Catalogues (Australian Duty)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the action of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia in levying a duty of is. 3d. per copy upon a certain number of catalogues sent from a British firm to Australia; whether this is the only Government that places a tax on British trade catalogues; and whether he is prepared to take any action in this matter?
Trade catalogues have been dutiable on importation into Australia for a long time past, and the same is true of most other British Dominions and foreign countries. I see no ground for taking action in the matter. The actual duty levied under the British preferential tariff in Australia is 8d. per lb., or 35 per cent.ad valorem, whichever be greater.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the name of any other Dominion that imposes this duty?
Perhaps my hon. Friend will put that question on the Paper.
German Property (Great Britain)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any estimate has been made of the total assets of German nationals in this country which are in process of liquidation; if so, will he state the amount; whether he will explain the delay in liquidating and sequestrating this property; and whether, in view of the many demands of British nationals for reparation still unsatisfied, he will expedite this work in-order that relief may be afforded to British citizens who have suffered great loss both in health and money?
It is not possible at the present time to give a reliable estimate of the ultimate value of the total assets in this country of German nationals which are in process of liquidation. The realisation of marketable securities is being proceeded with as quickly as possible?
asked the Prime Minister whether any steps have been taken to settle the status and boundaries of Eastern Galicia; and what action the Government contemplate in relation to this question?
Under the arrangements arrived at at Genoa, the existing boundaries of Eastern Galicia are provisionally accepted for the purpose of the truce, but the final status of Eastern Galicia was not discussed at the Genoa Conference.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the question? Is he aware that this is a matter which was left in the hands of the principal Allied Powers by the Treaty of Paris, that nothing whatever is being done, and that a condition of very grave disorder and danger to Europe exists in Galicia?
Yes. I am aware that the decision rests with the Supreme Council or the principal Allied Powers, under the Treaty, and I agree that the future of this part of the world is a matter of great importance. I cannot say when it will be settled.
What is the policy of the Government? That is what I want to know. It is a very pressing matter.
If my Noble Friend wants an answer to that question, he must please put it on the Paper.
What action does the Government contemplate?
I did not understand my Noble Friend's question as meaning that. I was requested to make a statement of policy on the subject, and I am not prepared to do so without notice.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only last week, in answer to a question by me, he said that Eastern Galicia was being considered by the Conference at Genoa?
The boundaries of Galicia had come under discussion there in connection with the pact of peace, and were provisionally accepted for that purpose, but the status of Galicia did not.
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the German department charged with the destruction of war material recently invited the Stuttgart section of the Allied Commission to witness the destruction of some 2,000 firearms; whether the officer representing the Allied Commission ascertained later that the material destroyed consisted of old British and Russian rifles covered with a layer of German arms; whether he further discovered 2,000 German rifles concealed in a railway truck on a siding, and whether, since it is reasonable to assume that for every case of this kind that is found out many instances of similar deception go undetected, he will arrange for a memorandum to be issued dealing with the work accomplished by the Allied Commission up to the present, and indicating the extent to which the obligations of Gee-many, under the Versailles Treaty, with respect to the destruction of military material remain unfulfilled?
I have been asked to answer this question. The answer to the first three parts of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the last part, I am unable to accept the assumption that many cases of this kind go undetected, but I will consider whether any good purpose would be served by the issue of the memorandum suggested.
Considering that the answer to the first three parts of the question is in the affirmative, does it, not lend colour to the idea that in all probability there are enormous numbers of these consignments of arms dealt with in the same way, and does not the right hon. Gentleman think it desirable to inquire of the Allied Commission whether they are satisfied that quantities of the war material are really destroyed?
We are in constant communication with the Allied Commission, which reports, I think, fortnightly.
What is the position in regard to the arch-criminal? Is it true that the arch-criminal is about to be married?
That does not arise.
German War Criminals
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, as it seems improbable that anything effective will be done to secure the punishment of the German war criminals under the provisions of the Versailles Treaty, the Government will arrange for the issue in a permanent form of an official chronicle of German war atrocities, such as the sinking of hospital ships, the bombing of hospitals, the murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the looting of private property, and other similar acts, such record to be arranged in a manner readily available for reference and to contain a list of the men implicated and particulars of the various Hague and Geneva conventions which were violated by Germany?
The Allied Governments are at the moment in consultation as to the best procedure to be followed for dealing with the question of German war criminals. I can therefore make no statement on the subject.
But may we rest assured that due consideration will be given to the suggestion contained in this question, in order that, if the prisoners are not going to be dealt with as suggested by the Government, we should get some permanent record of their atrocities?
Consideration will be given to all these matters.
Safeguarding Of Industries Act
Japanese Window Blinds
asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is possible for his Department to take some action on behalf of the trading community to prevent the wholesale detention of goods which arises owing to the collection of duties now imposed upon miscellaneous goods, as in the case of a consignment of Japanese window blinds which arrived in London by the ss. "Polyphemus" on the 6th March; whether he is aware that the Customs refuse to deliver these goods unless a deposit equal to 33½ per cent. on 90 per cent. of the total value of the blinds was paid, for the reason that certain glass beads which form part of the blinds were manufactured by the lamp-blown process, and that, despite the statement made by the importer, supported by three glass experts, that the heads in question were not manufactured by the lamp-blown process, all efforts to obtain a return of the deposit have been without result; can he state whether the glass in question was submitted to his glass expert; and, if so, can he say what was the decision of that official?
I cannot admit that there is any wholesale detention of goods on importation as suggested in the question. As has been frequently stated, pending decision as to liability to Key Industry Duty, immediate delivery of imported goods may be obtained on a deposit being made with the Customs to secure any duty which may prove to be chargeable. I understand that this course was followed in the case of the consignment referred to. A deposit of £15 was made with the Customs on the 29th March, and the consignment was delivered out of charge of that Department on the following day. The goods have since been held to be not liable to Key Industry Duty, and the deposit refunded.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that certain expenses were incurred owing to the detention of these goods, and that it took two months to investigate and return the deposit?
I think the facts are not as stated by the hon. Member. The facts are as stated in my answer.
I understand the money was paid in March and was not received back until last week. Is not that two months?
Parcel Post (Customs Inspection
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has been able to make any new arrangements with the Postmaster- General as to the charges which the Post Office are now making for opening parcels for inspection by the Customs House staff, seeing that in a case recently dealt with the Post Office charges were 15s., and the amount of duty collected was 11d.?
As I informed the hon. Member for Edinburgh East on 15th May, I am in communication with the Postmaster-General on this subject.
When shall we have an answer?
I hope before long.
Part Ii (Complaints)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received a request from the artificial flower manufacturers of Great Britain for the imposing of a duty, under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, upon imported artificial flowers; and, if so, can he state if any decision has been arrived at?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received an application, under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, for the imposition of a duty on imported picture-frame moulding; if so, on what date it was received; and whether any decision has been arrived at in the matter?
I have already stated in reply to similar questions that I think it undesirable to give information regarding the nature or scope of any particular complaint unless it is referred to a Committee.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that as soon as an announcement is made that this matter is being reviewed by his Department, there is an enormous increase in the import of the article, pending a decision?
Surely that is what my hon. Friend desires.
No, it is not.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decision of the referee, under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, with reference to cream of tartar (including tartaric acid, vinegar, and acetic acid), synthetic camphor, and many other similar commodities, he will state what technical advice he took in drawing up a list in which so many articles were improperly included?
The list in question was prepared by officers of my Department, who utilised all appropriate sources of information, but it was thought undesirable to consult any interests which might be directly affected by the inclusion or exclusion of any particular commodity. In view of the comparatively very limited number of complaints which have been made, I am satisfied that the list issued was based on adequate technical knowledge.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a decision has been arrived at concerning the suitable Regulations as to drawback under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which he stated on 31st October last were under consideration; if so, whether they will be submitted to trading organisations, such as the London Chamber of Commerce; and, if not, whether he will state when he expects to make an announcement on this matter, as the uncertainty now prevailing is having a detrimental effect upon the re-export of goods from Great Britain?
I am informed that the Regulations in question have been available since the 3rd November last, and that copies have been forwarded by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to all bodies or persons who have made inquiry on the subject.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the disturbance to trade caused by the setting up of numerous committees under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, such as those on glass bottles, hooks and eyes, press buttons, wire nails, optical and scientific instruments, gas mantles, and the heavy expenses thereby incurred, he will suspend the appointment of any further committees till the Cabinet has been able to review the reports already given or, in the alternative, afford facilities for the Safeguarding of Industries Act Repeal Bill now before the House?
Scientific And Optical Instruments
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the amount of the duties collected for the six months ending 31st March on a wide range of scientific and optical instruments from all countries; and whether, seeing that by far the greatest proportion of that amount was collected in respect of cinematograph films, and that the duties actually collected on the other ranges of goods are very small and in some cases infinitesimal, on what grounds, seeing that the imports from Germany must be very small, he has decided that there is aprimâ facie case to refer to a Committee?
I am aware of the amount of the duties collected on the articles referred to in the question. The Board of Trade considered that aprimâ facie case was made out that the volume of imports from Germany of optical and scientific instruments, considered in relation to the present output of the industry in this country, was such as to exercise a serious effect on employment. Cinematograph films are not included within the Committee's terms of reference.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can explain why toys, such as magic lanterns and viewscopes, are classified as scientific instruments by his Department for the purpose of duty under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, while vacuum flasks and similar articles are not; whether he can explain why some glass hand-mirrors are held to be exempt from duty as optical glass, whereas those used for shaving purposes are held to be dutiable; and whether he will issue a list stating what glass articles are dutiable and thus save the present confusion, expense, and delay?
As regards magic lanterns and viewscopes, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers which I gave to the hon. Member for the Western Isles on the 24th October last and the 8th May respectively. Laboratory vacuum flasks are included in the list of articles dutiable under the heading of scientific glassware. As regards mirrors, a small number have been held to be dutiable as having worked surfaces and, consequently, falling under the heading of optical elements. In reply to the last part of the question, I would refer to the lists already issued under Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decision of the referee that synthetic camphor has been improperly included in the list issued under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, he will introduce legislation providing for the repayment of the duty to those who have been wrongly called upon to pay it?
No, Sir. Contingencies of the kind which has arisen in this particular case were specifically provided for by Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the decision given by the Referee under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act with reference to synthetic camphor covers other synthetic substances, including synthetic perfumery used by the manufacturers of fancy soaps; and, if so, whether he will issue immediate instructions to that effect and thus avoid the continued payment by manufacturers of duties improperly levied?
The decision of the Referee in the case mentioned by the hon. Member does not cover other synthetic substances, and consequently the second part of the question does not arise.
Part Ii (Orders)
asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement as to the Cabinet policy in reference to the imposition of Orders under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act?
asked the Prime Minister if he can now state the intentions of the Government in regard to putting into operation Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act in the case of the fabric glove and other industries in which the Committees have recommended that the said Act should be applied?
The President of the Board of Trade is not yet in a position to make a statement on this subject.
In these circumstances, are we to take it that we have heard the last of these Orders under Part II?
No, Sir. The hon. and gallant Member would, I am sure, be sorry not to have the opportunity of putting these questions.
In view of the great urgency of this matter, can the right hon. Gentleman state when the Government will announce its intentions in regard to the question?
No, Sir, I cannot say.
On a point of Order—
The hon. Member is repeating a question which has been put and answered. It has been stated that the Government have not made up their minds yet.
May I, without prejudice in the matter of urgency, repeat the question to the Prime Minister on Thursday, the first day, as I understand, when he will be in attendance in the House?
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will take an early opportunity of inviting representatives of the school teachers to meet him with a view to discussing the possibility at this stage of securing the voluntary co-operation of the teachers in relief of the taxpayer?
I am always open to discuss with representatives of the teachers any matters affecting the teaching profession on which I think discussion is likely to be valuable and teachers already have ample opportunities, either through membership of education committees or in other ways, of bringing to the notice of local education authorities any suggestions which they consider practicable for reducing the expenditure of the authorities on the administration or maintenance of the schools under their control. If, however, what the hon. and gallant. Member has in mind is a diminution this year of the cost to the taxpayer of teachers' superannuation, I am afraid that, in view of their declared attitude on the. Measure which was recently discussed in this House, such a discussion as is suggested would not at present be likely to lead to any useful results.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that runny of us who voted for the Adjournment on the Superannuation Bill did so because we believed that if the Government would negotiate with the teachers at this stage, they would be able to secure relief in taxes without either breaking a pledge of the Government or creating discontent among the teachers?
I need hardly say that I would welcome very much any approach from the teachers in that direction.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether any deductions have yet been made from the salaries of teachers in respect of the 5 per cent. levy for superannuation as recommended in the Geddes Report?
I am not aware that any such deductions have been made by local education authorities.
Pensions (Continuation Schools)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether the time spent by members of the teaching profession in the Selfridge and similar continuation schools will be included for pension purposes?
The service of teachers in the continuation school formerly conducted by Messrs. Selfridge was not service in a grant-aided school, and therefore is not within the definition of recognised service "under the School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1918; but if it was full-time service it can be treated as qualifying service.
Oath Of Allegiance
asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of the fact that school teachers are paid public servants and are pensioned by the State, he will consider the desirability of arranging that they take the oath of allegiance upon appointment?
The teachers are the employés of the local education authorities and managers and governing bodies of schools. I do not know of any facts which would justify the adoption of the hon. Member's suggestion.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are certain teachers who take every opportunity to undermine the patriotism and good will towards the King and the British Constitution of the children whom they teach, and in view of such doctrines being taught in schools which are maintained out of rates and taxes—
The hon. Member cannot make a speech when asking questions.
County School, Isleworth
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the conduct of a county school teacher, Mr. H. Moore, of the Isleworth County School; whether he is aware that Mr. Moore walks out of the room when the National Anthem is played; that he will not permit the boys to use capital letters for King, Empire, etc., and asks them whether they are Socialists; and whether, in view of the fact that this school is maintained by the local rates paid by all classes of the community, and that such conduct is repellant to many of the ratepayers supporting this school and to the parents of the children attending the school, he will take steps to bring the matter to the attention of the Middlesex education authority with a view to preventing in future such conduct on the part of the teacher or replacing him?
I have no information on the matter, but I will send a copy of the hon. Member's question to the local education authority.
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member of this House to lay an accusation of this kind against a person who has no opportunity whatsoever of defending himself? And are you aware, Sir, that this is the second occasion on which a similar accusation has been made against a member of the teaching profession, and do you know that in this case—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]
I assume, with regard to this question that when the hon. Member put it on the Paper, he satisfied himself as to the facts. If he did not do so, it would be reprehensible.
May I say, Sir, that I had certain evidence. Otherwise I would not have put it down.
I must trust hon. Members, for the credit of the House, to be careful in accepting statements, unless they be satisfied as to their origin before they put them on the Paper.
Local Authorities (Grants)
asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware that there is some doubt in the minds of certain local education authorities as to the amount of grants they will receive this year; and whether it will be possible to give some indication to local education authorities on this point in order that they may be able to make their plans for expenditure?
I hope shortly to be in a position to issue a statement on the subject.
Malicious Injuries Commission
asked-the Prime Minister whether an arrangement could be made between the British Government and the Provisional Government in Ireland under which the references to Lord Shaw's Commission could be extended so as to enable it to deal with cases of compensation that have arisen since 11th July, 1921?
As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to a question by the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for York, on the 15th instant, the Provisional Government hope that it will be possible to deal with these cases in due course of law. It is obviously preferable that such cases should be so dealt with, rather than by the exceptional method which it. has been necessary to adopt in the case of damage arising prior to 11th July last; and unless and until it becomes clear that the csaes referred to cannot be adequately dealt with under the existing law, His Majesty's Government would be reluctant to make any such proposal to the Provisional Government as that suggested in the question. I may add that these arrangements would, of course, be reconsidered in the event of any decisive change in the situation.
Is the right hon. Gentleman, whom we are very glad to see back, aware that there is a certain number of cases under which people are suffering great hardship, not being able to get compensation, and is he not further aware that Lord Shaw's Commission has all the machinery for dealing with them; and would it not be possible by mutual consent with the Provisional Government to have these cases dealt with, without prejudice to the obligation of the Provisional Government in future?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a great number of cases have been dealt with most satisfactorily since July of last year, and that litigants have no wish for intervention by Lord Shaw's Commission?
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us some assurance that these gross cases of outrage on the lives and property of British subjects will be dealt with by someone and compensation be paid, either by His Majesty's Government or the Provisional Government?
The position we took and which the Provisional Government took in these discussions was that the local authorities would be responsible for the damage, and that is a position which I do not think we can abandon in any way. The Irish local authorities are responsible for all the damages of any kind to anyone since the Truce and the Treaty. If that condition were to he overturned, a new situation would arise.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that that responsibility will not be evaded?
asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to pass into law before the Autumn Recess the necessary Bill for the ratification of the constitution of the Irish Free State together with the measures ancillary to it, and which have been promised, namely, an Indemnity Bill, a Bill to complete Land Purchase, and a Bill for the resettlement of ex-service men in Ireland?
As regards Lead Purchase, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my light hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to a question on this subject addressed to him by the hon. Member for St. Rollox on the 10th instant. All matters relating to the resettlement of ex-service men were by Article 9 of the Provisional Government (Transfer of Functions) Order, 1922, expressly excepted from transfer to the Provisional Government, and I am not aware of any necessity for further legislation on the subject. With regard to the first part of the question I will, with the permission of the House, make a further short statement at the close of questions on the Irish situation.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say anything in reference to the Indemnity Bill?
I hope that it will be pressed forward.
Royal Irish Constabulary (Refugees)
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that there are large numbers of ex-Royal Irish Constabulary men at present in this country who have been compelled to leave Ireland on disbandment by threats of murder should they remain or return to their homes; that many of these men are unable to find accommodation for themselves and their families, and receive no allowance towards their maintenance; that in the cases of men whose families are still in Ireland the separation allowance is only 2s. a day for wife and children, or a maximum payment of 14s. a week, whatever the size of the family may be, which is quite inadequate for their maintenance; and whether, under these circumstances, the Government will place at the disposal of these refugees some of the empty barrack accommodation which is available in this country, and allow adequate separation allowances to those men whose families are still in Ireland?
I am aware that it is stated that large numbers of disbanded members of the Royal Irish Constabulary are in this country, having been compelled to leave Ireland, but I have not been able to ascertain the actual numbers. As the House is aware, an Accommodation Bureau has been set up in Chester, with branches elsewhere in this country, for the purpose of assisting these men to secure accommodation. There has been no difficulty in securing accommodation at reasonable rates in any part of the country for single men or married couples; every application of this kind which has been received by the bureau has been met, and a considerable proportion of the men so accommodated have written expressing satisfaction with the accommodation provided. There is still plenty of vacant accommodation of this class, and any member of the force who desires accommodation should write at once either to the R.I.C., Accommodation Bureau, Chester, or to the Resettlement Branch, Irish Office. There has, however, been considerable difficulty in securing permanent accommodation for families with children, and special efforts to compile a register of houses in all parts of the country to be let or sold at reasonable rates are being made. Meanwhile, as an emergency measure, a boardinghouse in London has been secured by the Government, and a number of families are accommodated there at reasonable rates pending the finding of permanent accommodation, and it is hoped, if necessary, to make similar arrangements in other parts of the country. I should like to take this opportunity of acknowledging the very great assistance which the Government and the Royal Irish Constabulary have received from the police in all parts of the country. As regards separation allowance in the case of men whose families are still in Ireland, I cannot agree that 14s. a week, in addition to the disbandment pension, which can, if the pensioner so desires, be increased, for a period of two years, up to 35/60ths of the maximum pay of his rank, can be regarded as insufficient, but it is, of course, open to any individual member of the force who considers that he suffers exceptional hardship in this or in any other respect to apply to the tribunal appointed to deal with such eases.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are some 800 ex-Royal Irish Constabulary men in this country who inform me they have been unable to find accommodation—even such accommodation as the right hon. Gentleman indicates, for which they will have to pay—and is that fair, considering that they are expelled from their homes through no fault of their own?
Is it a fact that these men and their wives and families have to leave the town or village where they resided in Ireland at a moment's notice to save their lives, leaving all their property and furniture behind, and will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of giving them some compensation for the loss of their property?
Yes, Sir, the tribunal which is set up for these special eases obviously will take into consideration cases of this kind.
Will the right hon. Gentleman not give these people the use of empty barracks, which are not being utilised in any way at present, and for the use of which they would be grateful?
Are we to understand that all these claims have to be met out of the wretched sum of £10,000?
That has nothing whatever to do with these cases. The £10,000 is a small sum placed at the disposal of the Committee, headed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) for the relief of civilians who have come over here, temporarily as we hope, from Ireland. That has nothing whatever to do with the obligation which the Government has undertaken in regard to tile Royal Irish Constabulary.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consent to seeing one or two of us who have interviewed these men so that we may place their case more fully before him?
I shall be very glad to put my hon. Friend in touch with the persons who have this matter in their charge. Anything that he may bring forward will be carefully considered.
asked the Prime Minister whether the articles of agreement for a treaty between Great Britain and Southern Ireland, which have been embodied in the form of an Act by the Imperial Parliament, have been equally assented to by the elected assembly of Southern Ireland; whether Clause 1 of the Act provides for the immediate holding of a general election in the South of Ireland; and, having regard to the time that has already elapsed since the Act has been placed on the Statute Book, will he say when the election in question will be held?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the present conditions in Ireland and the powers conferred by Section 1 (2) of The Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, he will consult with the Provisional Government of Ireland with the object of hastening the date upon which the elections shall be held in Southern Ireland?
The Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Southern Ireland have been assented to by the elected representatives of Southern Ireland, and it is stated that 16th June next has provisionally been fixed as the election day.
Situation In Northern Ireland
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he had any information to give the House with regard to recent happenings in Ulster, and particularly with respect to the reported assassination of a member of the Northern Parliament early this morning?
It will, I think, be convenient to the House if I make a very brief statement on the situation which has developed in Ireland. The House has, no doubt, seen the terms of the agreement which has been arrived at in Dublin between the Provisional Government and the followers of Mr. De Valera. This agreement was only signed on Saturday afternoon, and we have not yet been able to form any final conclusion in regard to it. It would appear to raise very serious issues affecting not only the character and validity of the election contemplated in the Irish Free State Agreement Act, but also affecting the Treaty itself. We have, therefore, invited the Irish co-signatories of the Treaty to come to London and discuss these issues with the British signatories.I expect that a conference will take place towards the end of this week, and I hope to be in a position to make a full statement to the House on Monday on behalf of His Majesty's Government. Meanwhile, I trust that the House will refrain from premature and hasty judgment on the agreement, either in a favourable or an unfavourable sense. With regard to the situation in Northern Ireland, I profoundly regret to inform the House that I have just received a telegram from the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland (Sir James Craig) stating that Mr. W. J. Twaddell, Member for West Belfast, has been brutally assassinated outside his business premises in Belfast. Apart from this shocking fact, I do not desire to add anything to the full accounts which have appeared in the newspapers of the outrages organised by the Republicans in various parts of the six counties and of the continued conditions of sanguinary disorder which prevail in parts of Belfast. I have every confidence that the Northern Government will continue to grapple with the serious task of restoring law and order and maintaining it effectually. Four additional battalions landed in Ulster opportunely or. Saturday last, raising the Imperial Force in the six counties to 19 battalions. Further reinforcements will, of course, be sent to any extent that may be considered necessary in the opinion of the military authorities. I am in consultation with Ministers of the Northern Government—one of whom, Lord Londonderry, has been sent as a consultant by the Northern Government to this country—as to the further issue of arms and equipment to the police force which the Northern Government are organising, and, while every endeavour will be made to avoid unnecessary expense or sensational action, I can assure the House that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to support the Government of Northern Ireland in every way that is possible and necessary.
Can the right hon. Gentleman not add something as to the situation in the 26 counties? Can he not say something about the sufferings of the loyalists in the South, and the depredations on property?
I have made statement about the two subjects to which I referred, and I am not prepared at the present moment to endeavour to make an appreciation to the House of the social conditions prevailing in the 26 counties, grave though those may be. I can quite see, however, that some discussion may be necessary.
Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement next Monday? Will he talk about the matter then?
I am afraid I cannot make any promise.
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House how it is that he has made a one-sided statement as to the conditions that prevail in the six counties, and whether it is a fact that the village of Desertmartin was practically destroyed the other day, without any protection being given to the inhabitants, that a Catholic was murdered in the village, and four other Catholics in an adjoining district, and there was no protection for them, and no reference to them in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman?
I have never attempted to conceal from the House the obvious fact that murders and counter-murders are being done by both religious sects in the North of Ireland. I did not intend to slur over any of the painful incidents which have taken place. For the moment, however, the principal fact over the week-end has been the violent attempts to create outrages and disorder in what has hitherto been a peaceful part, of the country.
May I ask the Leader of the House what he precisely means by the statement to be made next Monday in view of the fact that he has already intimated that the Finance Bill will be confined to one day? Will this be an ordinary statement such as we have had now, or will it be put down for Debate, and if so, how?
Of course, I contemplate that at that time we shall have received the co-signatories to the Treaty, and that I will be able to tell the House exactly what has occurred in regard to the agreement which has been reached in Dublin, and which we are not in a position to do now. It would be very unfair and improper to attempt to do so now. Having made that statement at Question time, it will be entirely for the House to say whether they will have any further discussion.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies has stated it is his intention to make a statement about events in Dublin next Monday. May we therefore take it that hon. Members will be allowed to put down questions in reference to incidents in the 26 counties between now and then, and also question the Minister on the subject?
On a point of Order. I never contemplated that my statement would refer to anything except the negotiations which have been taking place between the different sections in the Irish Parliament, and the reference or hearing which these negotiations have upon the Treaty entered into in this country.
That is exactly what r apprehended. The relevancy lies in the possibility of the statement seriously affecting the position under the Treaty and the Statute passed by this House.
Would the right hon. Gentleman assure the House now that His Majesty's Government will in no circumstances go away from their promised intention to demand a free election in Ireland on the Treaty? [An HON. MEMBER: "Run away!"]
The hon. Member must, I think, put that question down.
Will the right hon. Gentleman supplement his statement by saying under whose control the British military forces in Northern Ireland are Whether they are under the. control of the Northern Parliament or who?
No, they are under the control of the British War Office.
Is the British War Office, then, responsible for law and order in Northern Ireland?
No, Sir; we are responsible for the defence of Northern Ireland.
Will the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS "Order, order!"]—give us an assurance that some definite steps will be taken to protect the minority in North-East Ulster, and also those—[HON. MEMBERS "In the South!"]—everywhere! [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—and—
We must not debate that matter now.
Amperial Preference (West Indies)
asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that on 29th January of this year the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies announced in Trinidad that the British Government had decided to make a trade agreement with the British West Indies, guaranteeing to them the existing rate of preference in the Customs duties of the United Kingdom for 10 years, he will say what steps His Majesty's Government propose to take to redeem that pledge?
asked whether any pledge has been given by the Government that the preferential duty on sugar will be continued for 10 years; and, if so, by what authority such a pledge has been given?
I have been asked to take this question and with the permission of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith, I will answer it and 110 together. I was authorised to announce in the West Indies that His Majesty's Government would propose to Parliament the continuance of preference on existing lines to articles at present enjoying it for a period of 10 years. It is the intention of His Majesty's Government to maintain this undertaking in any relevant financial legislation which it may be their duty to submit to Parliament, as long as they continue to enjoy His Majesty's confidence; and, as my right hon. Friend stated in reply to the hon. Member for Chelsea on the 23rd February, this legislation is, and must be, subject to Parliament's approval.
May I ask the Leader of the House whether this House was consulted before the Under-Secretary was authorised to give a pledge with the Colonies that preference would be continued for ten years?
I must ask for notice of the question. I was discussing with my right hon. Friend beside me the matter of the business of the House, and I do not know what is the subject-matter of the question.
Did the Secretary of State for the Colonies know anything about this?
Yes, Sir, I most gladly co-operated in bringing it to pass.
Does the Secretary of State for the Colonies think that he is qualified to give pledges for future fiscal arrangements, without consulting the House of Commons?
This is a matter which was discussed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will be quite ready to defend his action, and I shall be quite ready to do so, too.
May I ask the Secretary for the Colonies to consider the advisability of giving an undertaking that the substantial value of the preference shall not be less than that enjoyed at present?
Constantinople (Allied Censorship)
asked the Prime Minister whether the inter-Allied censorship continues to function; and if it is applied to Greck as well as to Turkish newspapers?
If, as I presume, my hon. Friend refers to the inter-Allied censorship at Constantinople, my latest information was to the effect that the censorship was in force and being applied without discrimination.
Asia Minor (Turks And Christian Minorities)
asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any reply from America as to the willingness of that. Government to co-operate with us in an inquiry into the alleged massacres in Asia Minor; whether any reply is now expected from France or Italy; whether he has decided to send a British mission; and, if so, when?
The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative, but there is reason to hope that an answer may be received shortly. The French and Italian Governments have accepted the proposals of His Majesty's Government. In regard to the third part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the replies which I gave to my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin on the 17th inst. No date can be fixed at present.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the answer that is anticipated from America is supposed to be favourable or otherwise?
I do not know.
Has an answer been received from the Angora Government?
I do not think so. I did not make inquiries immediately before coming to the House. At any rate, I have not seen the answer.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that when the French left Cilicia the Armenian population fled in terror, leaving about 1,000 out of 200,000; that these refugees are now most of them existing in miserable circumstances in Beirut and other places in Syria, Cyprus, and elsewhere, despite the promises made by the French and Turks that the Armenians would be safe if they remained in Cilicia; that the Turks are holding for a year the property of the Armenians who have fled, to be restored to them if they return in that time; and that within the last two years the Armenian garrison of Hajim was overpowered by the Turkish forces, after a long and heroic resistance, and nearly the whole population massacred and the town destroyed; and whether he will call for a Report and take whatever steps are possible to end this treatment of the Armenians?
On a point of Order. Is this question in order, Mr. Speaker, having regard to the fact that it deals with occurrences in a foreign country, for which no Minister in this House is responsible?
This is a matter in regard to which we are just about to send out a Commission, I understood, and, therefore, it is in order.
Our information is that the Armenians still remaining in Cilicia number at least 5,000, and it is doubtful whether the original total was morn than 150,000. Many of the refugees appear to be fairly well cared for in Syria, but shocking accounts have been received of the condition of those at Alexandretta. According to a recent, but still unconfirmed, report, the Kemalist authorities are about to decree that the property of Armenians who have fled the country will be confiscated if not reclaimed within three months. The report regarding the siege and destruction of Hadjin and the massacre of its inhabitants in October, 1920, is correct. His Majesty's Government are already fully informed on this subject, and it is their constant endeavour to secure in any settlement which is reached all possible protection for the minorities concerned.
Are any steps similar to those which the Government contemplate in reference to the Greek population in contemplation in reference to the Armenians?
I am not quite sure that I gather the purport of my right hon. Friend's question.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Government have said they are going to send, or ask leave to send, Allied observers over certain parts of Greek territory where the Greek population is supposed to be in great danger, and is a similar course going to be taken with regard to the Armenian population in Cilicia?
Notice should be given of that question.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that as recently as last summer the Turks deported eastward from Konia, as a mili- tary measure, all Greek and Armenian males over 12 years of age; that not less than 12,000 Greeks, deportees, have recently lost their lives in the vicinity of Kharput, under precisely similar circumstances to those in which multitudes of Armenians were done away with several years ago; that British consular officers have been informed of the conditions in the Kharput region and have sent the information on to London; and whether he will have inquiries made and a Report issued on the subject?
In regard to the first part of the question, His Majesty's Government have no definite information. In regard to the second part, they have every reason to believe that the facts quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend are correct. In regard to the third part, a report was recently received through His Majesty's Consul-General at Beyrout from a reliable source, relative to the passage of 20,000 deportees through Kharput, largely women and children, who were being driven eastwards, half naked, through deep snow. His Majesty's Government are at present considering the question of publishing some of the numerous reports on this subject which they have received.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any official information that Greek bands are threatening the southern boundary of Albania?
Complaints, showing that the Albanian Government are apprehensive of the action of Greek bands in these regions, have been received, and steps are being taken by the Boundary Commission to investigate these complaints.
Will the Government find it possible to make any representations in Athens on this subject, pointing out how serious it would be if the Greeks were to infringe the integrity of Albania?
I think the matter had better be left, in the first instance, to the Boundary Commission before we proceed to take any steps.
asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that it is specifically provided by the terms of the Nine-Power Treaty regarding China, the Chinese Customs Tariff Treaty, the Quadruple Pacific Treaty, Articles IX, X, and IV, respectively, that these treaties shall be ratified as soon as possible in accordance with the constitutional methods of the high contracting parties he can say whether these treaties will be brought before the House for ratification, and, if so, how soon; and whether an opportunity will be afforded to the House for discussing the terms of these treaties?
The treaties mentioned by the hon. Member will be ratified as soon as possible, but the constitution of this country does not require that they should be brought before the House prior to ratification. If the rules of the House permit, an opportunity of discussing the treaties will be given by the introduction of the Bill enabling His Majesty's Government to carry out their obligations under the Naval Treaty.
League Of Nations (Mandates)
asked the Prime Minister whether the present session of the Council of the League of Nations is now concluded, and, if not, when it will be concluded; whether any decision has been come to by the Council regarding any of the "A" or "B" mandates; what subjects on the agenda of the present council have been adjourned till the next meeting: and when that will take place?
The recent session of the Council of the League of Nations terminated on Wednesday last. "B" mandates were not discussed. The draft Palestine Mandate was considered, but its terms were not finally approved. An extraordinary meeting of the Council is to be held not later than the 15th July next, to consider both the "A" and "B" mandates. All the remaining questions on the agenda came under discussion, but in some cases, namely, the questions of minorities in Albania and Latvia, final decisions were postponed to a later session.
asked the Prime Minister whether the American replies to the British Note of 22nd December regarding the A and B Mandates may now be published?
There has been further correspondence with the Government of the United States regarding mandates since the receipt of the American replies in question. These replies could not be published without the consent of the Government of the United States, and I do not think that such consent should be sought until the correspondence has been completed.
Are we to understand the correspondence is still going on and that further communications will be made?
So I understand.
Canadian Cattle Embargo
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether at the Imperial War Conference of 1917 Lord Long either gave or supported any pledge that the Canadian cattle embargo would be removed; and whether he was speaking for the then Government?
If the hon. and gallant Member will refer to Command Paper 8(173 of 1917, he will see the exact words used by my Noble Friend at the Imperial Conference of 1917. As far as I know, there had been no previous Cabinet decision, and Lord Long said that he spoke for himself, as his name had been brought into the discussion. Lord Ernie was of course the Minister of Agriculture at that time.
Did not Lord Long say the position was that the restriction was to be removed and that the Board of Agriculture would take the necessary steps to do so, and, if so, was that a pledge or was it not?
As to the first part of the question, I should not like, from memory, to affirm or dissent. If the hon. and gallant Member is quoting, I am obliged to him for the information which he has imparted. I do not put any interpretation upon it; if the hon. and gallant Member desires to put an interpretation upon it, no doubt he is competent to do so.
Is the Government any more competent to give a pledge in this matter, without the sanction of the House, than in the case of a preference?
The Government is competent to pledge itself; its powers to give effect to the promises it makes are dependent on the support which it receives.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any subsidies are granted by His Majesty's Government to British shipping; and what is the estimated advantage to United States shipping which will be derived from the system of subsidy proposed by President Harding in his message to Congress on 28th February?
No payments are made. by His Majesty's Government to British shipping lines, save as mentioned below, except in return for services rendered in the carriage of mails. The contracts under which these payments are made sometimes include Clauses relating to the speed of the vessels employed, the frequency of the service, and ports of call, etc., but these are only introduced in order to secure the regularity and security of the postal service. In addition to the above, the Admiralty make a small contribution to the Union Castle line in order to secure calls at Ascension for the benefit of the naval personnel, and pay £90,000 a year to the Cunard Company under a contract of 1903, which expires in 1927. By this contract the Cunard Company agreed to maintain a ship, namely, the "Mauretania," of approved speed, and to admit the right of the Admiralty to pre-emption of this and certain other vessels in case of emergency. The total annual payments under all the above headings is about £600,000, while the payments made by the United States Post Office for mail contracts only are calculated at about 6,000,000 dollars (say, £1,364,000 at present rate of exchange). According to the best available estimate, the aid direct and indirect which the United States shipowner would receive under President Harding's proposals would amount each year to rather more than 12½ per cent. of the capital value of the vessel.
Would the hon. Gentleman say if any representations are being made to the United States as to the facts of the case?
If the hon. Gentleman will give me notice of any further question, I shall be obliged.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Egyptian deportees in Mahé, Seychelles Islands, are prevented from obtaining more than a limited monthly allowance from their own property; by what law men who have not been accused or tried are detained by the British authorities under penal conditions; whether he is aware that the postmaster is also the chemist, dentist, and dental expert; that these gentlemen need adequate and capable medical aid; that their sole water supply is a single tap running into a pool; and will he cause inquiries to be made into these conditions pending their restoration to their homes?
The reply to the first, third, and fifth parts of the question is in the negative, and to the fourth part, in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes) on 8th May.
Far Eastern Republic
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his attention has been called to a statement made by M. Tchitcherin at the Genoa Conference on the 16th instant, in which the Russian Minister warned Japan that any attack by the latter on the Far Eastern Republic would automatically bring about a state of war with Russia; and whether, in view of the fact that such a danger will threaten so long as Japan is in occupation of Siberian territory, and in view of Japan's pledges to the Powers to withdraw from Siberia, His Majesty's Government will make friendly representations to the Allied Government of Japan to evacuate Russian territory without further delay?
My attention has been called to a reported statement of this nature. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. His Majesty's Government rely on the fulfilment in due course of the undertakings of the Japanese Government.
Home-Grown Timber (Railway Rates)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether he is aware that the railway rates on home-grown timber are still 100 per cent. above the pre-War rates, although the increased cost-of-living figure has fallen from 176 to 81, and the cost of railway labour, stores, and material has been much reduced; and whether, seeing that the selling price of such timber is now only 25 per cent. above pre-War price, and the railway rate now has an extraordinarily high proportion to the selling price, he will use his influence with the railway companies to reduce the existing rate and thereby encourage a hardly-hit home industry?
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to my reply of the 8th instant to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Betterton), of which I am sending him a copy.
Has the hon. Member forgotten that in the reduction of railway rates that are coming into operation to-day home-grown timber is not included, and is he aware that it now costs more to convey English timber from Sussex to London than it does to bring foreign timber from Finland to London?
I have not forgotten those facts.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, in view of the large sums of public money now being expended on roads and the changed conditions of present-day vehicular traffic, he is aware that hundreds of different types of manholes, gullies, and other ironwork details, many of which are unsuitable or unsafe, are in daily use; and whether, in order to secure safety and economy of design and maintenance, he will take steps to bring about a definite scheme of standardisation for such details?
I am aware that there is little uniformity in the types of manholes, gullies, and other iron work used on highways. Local circumstances and conditions vary, however, so widely, that I am not disposed to attempt the, standardisation of castings for such purposes.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether he will consider the advisability of appointing a Committee to inquire into the whole question of the upkeep and repair of roads, having special regard to the division of responsibility therefore between the State and local authorities and to the equitable apportionment of the necessary taxation between various classes of road-users?
Yes, Sir, the matter is receiving consideration. No decision has yet been arrived at.
Will a Committee actually be set up in conformity with the promise given by the First Commissioner of Works?
There has been no promise given by my Noble Friend, but in the reply which I have just read I have told my hon. and gallant Friend that the matter is receiving consideration.
But was not a promise given by the First Commissioner of Works in another place on behalf of the Government?
London Docks (Approach Roads)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether the attention of his Department has been called to the urgent necessity of providing better approach roads to the docks of London; whether his Department has prepared or proposed any road improvement schemes to any of the road authorities concerned; and whether, in view of the necessity of providing work at the present time, his Department will call a conference of the authorities concerned with a view of improving all these roads as soon as possible?
The need for better approach roads to the London dock district is recognised, and various improvement schemes have been drafted. Discussions on the subject have been in progress for some time with the Port of London Authority and the local authorities concerned, and the. Ministry of Transport intend to pursue the matter in the hope of securing the collaboration of all interested parties in the promotion of measures designed to relieve the present congestion and delay.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether his attention has been called to the notice of the railway companies that they propose to extend weekend tickets from Fridays to Mondays, but only to places when the single third-class fare is 15s.; whether he is aware that the effect of this will be that the large population of London and Greater London will be unable to obtain this pre-War condition to any of the coast holiday resorts or other inland places unless they are over 100 miles away from London; and whether he will urge on the various railway companies the necessity of treating all passengers on equal terms, and of giving London short-distance passengers the same facilities as long-distance passengers are to be given?
I am informed that the conditions in respect of week-end tickets on the railways generally are as stated by the hon. Member. As the hon. Member is aware, the Minister has now no jurisdiction over railway fares; the railway companies are at liberty to make such modifications in fares as they consider expedient, but I am sending them a copy of my hon. Friend's question.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether any Return is issued of the grants made from the Road Fund to various local authorities and of the use to which such grants are put?
Information on the points mentioned in my Noble Friend's question is contained in the Annual Report on the Administration of the Road Fund presented by the Minister of Transport to Parliament. The report for the year 1920–21 has been available for some time, and I hope it will be possible to present the report for the year 1921–22 before the Summer Recess.
Does this report make it quite clear that the local authorities do in fact spend the grants allocated to them in all cases?
British Embassies And Legation's (Buildings)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the number of British Legations abroad of which His Majesty's Government own the buildings; what is the number held on lease; and what is the total annual amount of rent paid for these leasehold buildings?
His Majesty's Government own the buildings of 17 Legations. There are also 17 buildings held on lease at a total annual rental of £15,100.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the buildings of the nine occupied British Embassies abroad are the property of His Majesty's Government; whether he can state approximately the amount originally expended in the purchase of those buildings which are owned by the Government; and what is the approximate value of that property to-day?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, except that the summer residence only at Rio is the property of His Majesty's Government. Figures are not available in regard to Tokio, but the cost of the remainder was £252,759, the site at Constantinople and the villa at Posilipo being gifts. I regret that I am not in a position to give a reliable estimate of the present day value.
Shipping Charges, Portugal
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether any reply has yet been received from the Portuguese Government as regards the increased charges now being made on British shipping entering Portuguese ports; and can he make any statement as to what action the British Government has taken on this important action to British interests by a friendly and Allied Power?
Yes, Sir; His Majesty's Minister at Lisbon was recently informed by the Portuguese Government that they intended to submit shortly to the Cortes a Bill which, as far as national interests permitted, would take into sympathetic consideration the representations made by His Majesty's Government. The Portuguese Government having shown their readiness to meet His Majesty's Government in a friendly spirit, my hon. Friend will see that the second part of his question does not arise.
Brazil (Centenary Exhibition)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether his Department is encouraging British exhibitors to participate in the coming Centenary Exhibition at Rio; and whether the Foreign Office is, on his representations, simultaneously urging on the Brazilian Government the desirability of settling the long outstanding claims of British business men against it?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; as regards the second part, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. L. Lyle) on the 11th May and the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Sir W. de Frece) on the 18th May.
asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, what is the value of the land occupied by the Geological Museum in Piccadilly and Jermyn Street; what number of persons visited the Museum in the years 1919, 1920 and 1921, respectively; and whether arrangements could be made for the housing of the contents of the Museum at South Kensington or elsewhere so that it might be possible to dispose of this very valuable central site?
As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave to a similar question on the 4th of April last, of which I am sending him a copy. I am informed that the number of visitors to the Museum during the years in question was 27,600, 30,100 and 26,800, respectively. The First Commissioner hesitates to offer an opinion in regard to the suggestion contained in the last part of the question.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the Report of the Committee on Recruitment for the Indian Civil Service has now been received; and, if so, will he lay it upon the Table of the House?
My Noble Friend asked a few experts to advise him privately on this matter. He has, in another place, made it clear that their investigations were informal, and of a preliminary character. He does not anticipate that the result of their inquiries will be a Report which could with advantage he presented, at any rate, in the near future.
Bills Of Lading
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the reason why the India Office refuses to include a negligent navigation clause in bills of lading for shipments of stores on account of the Government of India, when such a clause is accepted by His Majesty's Treasury and the Admiralty, and is in accordance with the general commercial practice of the country?
The negligent navigation clause in bills of lading relieves the shipowner from responsibility for losses to cargo due to the negligence of his servants. The High Commissioner, acting on behalf of the Government of India, has declined to admit the clause in respect of his shipments to India, thereby continuing the previous practice of the Secretary of State in Council.
Is the Noble Lord aware that the Government of India is the only Government which has refused to allow this negligent clause?
Will the Noble Lord, in conjunction with the Board of Trade, consider the introduction of a harbour clause in the bill of lading?
As I have already explained in this matter, like so many matters of the kind, the High Commissioner acts on the instructions of the Government of India. I am prepared to ask my Noble Friend to make representations to the Government of India in this matter, but it seems premature to do so until everyone has adopted this clause.
Hong Kong (Strike)
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the strike at Hong Kong has broken out afresh, under the influence of Bolshevist propaganda, whether trade is much impeded by the recrudescence of this movement, and whether he can give the latest news as to the position?