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Written Answers

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 23 May 1922

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Written Answers

Government Departments

Overseas Trade Department

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether any changes are in contemplation in the organisation and control of the Overseas Trade Department; and, if so, whether he is able to make any statement with regard to the future of that Department?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 1st March last. The large economies which have been effected have involved a considerable reorganisation of the Headquarter's Staff and some reorganisation of the Overseas Services. It is not, however, intended to alter the status or control of the Department.

Stationery Office (Examiner Of Advertising Accounts)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he has recommended the Civil Service Commission to issue to Mr. Duncan Campbell a certificate of appointment in the permanent Civil Service, at a salary of £300, as examiner of advertising accounts in the Stationery Office; why such an appointment was made when there are already prominent civil servants in the Department able to undertake the duties of the post?

The consent of the Treasury has been given to the appointment of Mr. Duncan Campbell to the recently established post of Examiner of Advertising Accounts in the Stationery Office at a salary of £300 on the scale £300-£15-£400. The appointment in question was decided upon after the fullest consideration of the qualifications of other members of the Stationery Office staff and inquiry among ex-service men awaiting appointments in Government Departments and established civil servants, which failed to disclose a candidate possessed in a sufficient degree of the wide knowledge of the advertising trade required for the duties of the post.

Diplomatic Service (Income Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, seeing that representatives of British institutions and firms who spend their lives abroad receive their salaries without deduction of Income Tax, he can see his way to afford the same privilege to members of the British Diplomatic Service during the periods when their work entails of necessity lengthy residence in foreign lands?

The emoluments of an office, which are payable out of the public revenue of the United Kingdom, are chargeable with Income Tax, whether the duties of the office are performed within the United Kingdom or not, and I cannot see my way to restrict the scope of the Income Tax charge in the manner suggested by my hon. Friend.

Budget

Excess Profits Duty

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the following particulars with regard to the refund of Excess Profits Duty; the amount sanctioned for refund but not paid on list March, 1922, the claims for refund received to date exclusive of the above, and his estimate of the approximate total additional amount still to be refunded by the Treasury?

Repayments of Excess Profits Duty are made immediately the amount due is finally ascertained. I am unable to state the amount involved by claims at present under investigation, as many of them are disposed of locally without being brought before the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. The estimate asked for in the third part of the question will take some time to prepare, but if my hon. Friend will repeat his inquiry during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill, I hope to be able to give him the information then.

Taxation (Arrears)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion, if any, of the sums outstanding on 31st March last as due under arrears of Income Tax and Excess Profits Duty he estimates he will not eventually recover?

The amount of Income Tax stated in my reply of the 1st. May to the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) as unpaid on the 31st March, 1922, represented an estimate of the amount which will be actually paid after that date. The amount of Income Tax which, having been assessed, is subsequently discharged on the ground of non liability or lost as irrecoverable is never large. The arrears of Excess Profits Duty include large amounts which will be discharged on the settlement of pending objections and appeals, but I am unable at present to estimate the net amount which will ultimately be paid.

National Savings Certificates

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of War Savings Certificates included in the National Debt total of £7,654,500,000 as at 31st March, 1922; whether these are included at their issue price or at their redemption value; whether any interest on this portion of debt is provided for in this year's Budget; and, if so, how much?

The total of the National Debt at 31st March, 1922, includes £340,000,000 in respect of National Savings Certificates which are taken at their issue price. The estimate for National Debt services in this year's Budget includes £8,000,000 for interest on National Savings Certificates.

German Reparation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information has been gathered by the Reparations Commission as to the amount of capital exported from Germany since the Armistice and the possibilities of applying it to the payment of Germany's war obligations?

I understand that the Reparation Commission called upon the German Government on the 21st March last, as one of the conditions for the grant of a partial postponement of payments in 1922, to submit a scheme for preventing undue export of capital and to take all possible steps to Obtain the return to Germany of the capital already exported. So far as I am aware, the Reparation Commission has not published any statement as to the amounts in question, and from the very nature of the transactions referred to any estimate would be a matter of guess work.

Super-Tax Assessments

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of persons in 1913 who had incomes of £2,000 and up to £5,000, £5,000 and up to £10,000, £10,000 and up to £15,000, £15,000 and up to £20,000, £20,000 and up to £25,000, £25,000 and up to £30,000, £30,000 and up to £40,000, £40,000 and up to £50,000, £50,000 and up to £75,000, and £75,000 and up to £100,000; and the number of persons for 1921-22 with similar amounts?

Statistics showing the number of persons with incomes between £2,000 and £5,000 are not available for the year 1913–14. The following table, however, shows the number of persons assessed to Super-tax for each of the I 1920-21 are not final, as further assess-years in question. The numbers for

1913–14.1920–21.
Income.Number of Individuals.IncomeNumber of Individuals.
ExceedingNot exceedingExceedingNot exceeding
££££
5,00010,0009,0202,0005,00046,886
10,00015,0002,3935,00010,00015,904
15,00020,0001,00210,00015,0004,502
20,00025,00051415,00020,0001,914
25,00035,00046120,00025,000940
35,00045,00022625,00030,000605
45,00055,00013530,00040,000646
55,00065,0006840,00050,000358
65,00075,0004250,00075,000335
75,000100,0006775,000100,000126
100,00080100,000169
Total14,008Total72,385

Gretna Factory

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the strong feeling existing in Dumfriesshire and Cumberland in favour of the sale of Gretna factory, townships, etc.,en bloc, he will cancel or delay all further sales of stock and plant at Gretna until this question has been decided?

No sales have been arranged to take place at Gretna this month excepting a four days' sale of factory consumable stores, which were never included in the Government offer of Gretna in one lot. This factory has been advertised for sale as a whole since the middle of September last, and I do not propose to give instructions which would hamper the Disposal Board in the realisation of the property to the best advantage, but the Disposal Board will be prepared to give consideration to any offer to purchase the whole property as already advertised, if made at once. They cannot, however, wait indefinitely for offers which may never be forthcoming.

Royal Irish Constabulary

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that recently disbanded officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were

1920–21 are not final, as further assessments for that year will still be made:—

ordered away from their stations, and were for some time kept away from their stations with a view to their disbandment, have been granted subsistence allowances at the rate of 11s. per night instead of the subsistence allowances authorised by the Allowances Order of 1920; under what authority this was done; and will he give directions that- the proper allowances should be made?

The rates of subsistence authorised by the Allowances Order are not payable at the place of concentration for disbandment, the place of concentration being regarded as the station of the officers and men so concentrated. In some cases, however, special rates of subsistence allowances were sanctioned for officers who, owing to insufficiency of accommodation in barracks, were compelled to provide their own sleeping and messing arrangement. These rates were 11s. per night for the first 30 nights and 6s. per night thereafter, with an additional 4s. per night as a separation allowance for married officers who were compelled to reside apart from their families. In the case of officers who were compelled to live in hotels in Cork, where the cost of living is for the moment exceptionally high. pending final concentration in Dublin, a rate of 15s. per night for the first 30 nights, in addition to separation allow- ante of 4s. per night for the first 14 nights, was sanctioned. The representative of the officers concerned has expressed their satisfaction with this arrangement.

Uganda Cotton (Export Duty)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, since the imposition of export duties upon the export of raw cotton from Uganda, the output by the native producers has decreased or increased; and whether the present export duty represents a burden of 25 per cent. upon the actual value of the raw staple?

Since the imposition of this duty in 1919 the export of cotton from Uganda has increased very considerably; in 1919 approximately 36,530 bales of 400 lbs. each were exported, in 1920 52,186, and in 1921 over 82,000 bales. It is estimated that there will be a substantial reduction in the export for 1922, but this is for the most part due to the extremely unfavourable weather conditions that have prevailed throughout the country. With regard to the last part of! the question, on the average price paid to growers last season the duty amounts to a. considerably smaller percentage of the actual value of the raw product- than that mentioned, but with the return to more normal prices the question of the reduction of the duty is being carefuly considered.

India

Bye-Elections

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what bye-elections have taken place for the Indian Legislative Assembly and the Indian Council of State since the general election and the various legislative councils in India; for what reasons vacancies occurred; whether contests took place; and what were the constituencies involved?

I regret that the information is not on record, and could not be obtained without reference to each of the provincial councils.

Constitutional Reforms

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the views of Mr. S. M. Mitra, put forward in a pamphlet dealing with the attainment of peace in India; whether he will give consideration to the suggestions made with regard to the introduction of the principle of elections and selection so as to secure one Indian gentleman as governor of a province in British India, two as commissioners, and three as district officers; and whether he will also consider the advisability of removing what is described as inequality in the mode of trial of Europeans, British subjects, and natives of India, and of making Cochin a port for ocean liners?

The hon. Member has been good enough to send me a copy of the pamphlet referred to. It. raises a number of fundamental questions of policy which are not, I fear, susceptible of satisfactory discussion by means of question and answer.

Income Tax (Surplus Army Officers)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the compensation payable to officers in the Army who leave the Service in order to reduce the surplus of officers will be subject to Income Tax?

I have been asked by my right hon. Friend to answer this question. Army officers who leave the Service in order to reduce the surplus of officers will be chargeable with Income Tax in respect of their retired pay, as increased by the addition of the "compensation element," to which the Noble Lord refers. The lump sum gratuities which these officers also receive are not chargeable with Income Tax.

Post Office

Women Clerks, Edinburgh (Efficiency Bar)

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that the authorities in Edinburgh post office have stated that they have considered the passing of the Efficiency Bar for women clerks in the nature of a promotion, in direct contradiction to the answer of the Financial Secretary in this House on 31st October, he will reconsider the cases of the 11 women clerks stopped at the bar under this misinterpretation, especially as it is generally recognised that the work of the Edinburgh office is of a very high standard?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave on the 13th and 20th February to questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), and the hon. Member for Edinburgh Central (Mr. W. Graham). I am not aware that any statement has been made by the Post Office authorities in Edinburgh that the passing of the Efficiency Bar for women clerks is in the nature of a promotion.

Foreign Parcels (Postage)

asked the Postmaster-General if he can explain on what basis his charges are made for postage on parcels, seeing that the charge on an 11-lb. packet to the Ivory Coast is 3s. 3d., to Sierra Leone it is 4s. 9d., to Hong Kong 3s. 9d., and to India 5s. 3d., and why these variations exist?

The rates of postage on parcels for abroad are made up of three items—a fixed charge, irrespective of destination, to cover handling and conveyance in this country, the cost of conveyance by sea, and the sums actually paid to the countries of destination and any intermediate countries through which the parcels may pass. In the cases quoted by the hon. Member the rate payable to the country of destination varies from 6s. to 2s.; there are differences, also, in the cost of sea transport.

Great Britain And Spain (Commercial Treaty)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what active measures are being taken to clear up the misunderstanding with the Spanish Government regarding the excessive import duties on British-manufactured goods; whether retaliatory measures have been considered by His Majesty's Government. and, if so, what is their nature; and, if not, what policy and procedure is contemplated to effect a drastic modification on the part of the Spanish Government of the excessive duties on British-manufactured goods of Customs classes?

I am not aware of the misunderstanding to which the hon. Member refers. In view of the high duties imposed by the Spanish tariff, negotiations have been commenced with the Spanish Government for the conclusion of a commercial treaty, by virtue, of which, if the proposals of His Majesty's Government are adopted, certain of these duties would be modified. I hope that the negotiations will have a successful issue, but I do not think there would be any advantage at this stage in stating what action His Majesty's Government might find it necessary to take in the contrary event. The hon. Member may rest assured that in that event the action taken by His Majesty's Government will be designed to be effective.

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Photographic Cameras

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number and value of photographic cameras imported during the years 1913 and 1921, and also for each of the months of January, February, March, and April, 1921 and 1922; and the number and value of the above imported from Germany in each case?

The following statement shows the numbers and values of photographic cameras registered in each of the periods specified, as imported into the United Kingdom, consigned from Germany and from all countries respectively. The values shown are exclusive of the values of the lenses, which are included in the records under the heading, "Lenses, prisms, &c., optically worked, mounted or unmounted (including those imported or exported with complete instruments)," and are not, therefore, separately distinguished. Particulars for the year 1913 are not available, as importers were not then required to declare photographic cameras separately:

STATEMENT.
Period.Consigned from Germany.Consigned from all countries.
No.£No.£
Year 192113,23311,747324,998371,595
1921.
January779547,34846,830
February20449749,65053,249
March1,6381,75629,93031,619
April2,5932,37391,767116,238
1922.
January1,31877617,2696,492
February7384791,026743
March2,3361,44719,1039,423
April2,4761,67546,19721,051

Workmen's Railway Fares

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether there is any prospect of an early revision of the fares laid down as chargeable on workmen's trains?

I have no knowledge of any such intention, and I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that the Minister has now no direct jurisdiction over railway charges. The companies are at liberty to reduce the existing fares if they feel justified in so doing, and the Rates Tribunal has power to determine any applications for reduction made to them, under the provisions of Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921.

China (Marconi And Vickers Loans)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any representations have yet been made to the new Chinese Government as to the Chinese default on the Marconi bonds or Vickers bonds; and whether the new Government accept or repudiate liability for the loans?

His Majesty's Government have not yet received information of the constitution of a new Chinese Government; the second part of the question therefore does not arise.

School Teachers' Salaries

asked the President of the Board of Education what number of education authorities in England and Wales have adopted the scale which was allocated to their area by the Burnham Committee what number of authorities have adopted a lower scale than allocated; what number of authorities have only adopted the provisional minimum scale and what number have failed to adopt the provisional minimum; and what number of the whole have this year suspended the increments due under the Burnham scale?

259 local education authorities have adopted the standard scales which were allocated to their areas by the Standing Joint Committee. 39 local education authorities are paying their teachers on the provisional minimum scale. 14 local education authorities are paying their teachers on scales which are lower than the allocated standard scales, but higher than the provisional minimum scale. Two local education authorities are paying some only of their teachers on the allocated standard scales, and the rest on lower standard scales. Two local education authorities are paying their teachers on scales higher than the allocated standard scales. One local education authority has no scale in force. The Board have been informed by three local education authorities that they have decided to suspend the advances due under the Burnham scales on the 1st April, 1922.

Writs For Partition

asked the Attorney-General the number of writs issued out of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice for partition in each of the following years, viz., 1912, 1913, 1914, 1919, 1920, and 1921?

No record exists from which these particulars can be obtained. The writs for partition are not kept separate from other writs.