House Of Commons
Tuesday, 30th May, 1922.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Northampton Corporation Bill, Sunderland and South Shields Water Bill,
Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.
Bradford Canal (Abandonment) Bill [Lords],
As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.
Colne Valley Water Bill [Lords], As amended, considered:
Ordered, That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.—[ The Deputy-Chairman.]
Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.
Swansea Corporation Bill,
As amended, considered.
Ordered, That Standing Orders 223 and 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.—[ The Deputy-Chairman.]
Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.
London Electric and City and South London Railway Companies,
Read a Second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Grampian Electricity Supply Bill (by Order)—( King's Consent signified),
Bill Read the Third time, and passed.
Norfolk Fisheries Provisional Order Bill, Taw and Torridge Fisheries Provisional Order Bill,
Towy Fisheries Provisional Order Bill,
Read a Second time, and committed.
Pier And Harbour Provisional Orders (No 1) Bill
"to confirm certain Provisional Orders made by the Minister of Transport under the General Pier and Harbour Act, 1867, relating to Oulton Broad and Portnockie," presented by Mr. NEAL; read the First time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and to be printed. [Bill 144.]
For the County of Berks (Newbury Division), in the room of Sir WILLIAM ARTHUR MOUNT, baronet (Chiltern Hundreds).—[ Colonel Leslie Wilson.]
Oral Answers To Questions
Civil Service (Appointments)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, considering that the effect of Section 98 and Schedule III of the Government of India Act is to confer not a right but only aspes successionis to the appointments reserved to the Indian Civil Service, and as that expectation might be defeated by the abolition of these appointments, as has, in fact, been proposed by the legislative councils in certain provinces, will the Secretary of State for India consider the desirability of legislation, not only validating the covenant, but reserving to the Indian Civil Service a fixed proportion of appointments above the time scale?
I find some difficulty in understanding the exact nature of the legislation which my hon. and gallant Friend desires to suggest, but if his suggestion be that the Secretary of State in Council should deprive himself by law of the power of abolishing or reducing the number of high appointments at present available to members of the Indian Civil Service, however desirable or necessary such a step might be, I fear that is hardly a practicable proposal.
Will the Noble Lord uphold the covenant of the Indian civil servants, or are they to suffer in connection with the Montagu reforms?
That question does not in the least arise on this question The hon. and gallant Gentleman asks a specific question about certain appointments which I have endeavoured to answer.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, whether he will inquire as to a circular, alleged to have been issued by the inspector-general of prisoners, Bombay, to the effect that political prisoners should be treated as others in regard to food, clothing, work, and communications?
I will inquire from India whether any such circular was issued; the matter is one in which it is not desirable to interfere with the discretion of the Indian and Local Governments.
If such a circular be issued, will the Noble Lord see that it is enforced, and not whittled down in any way?
I have already replied that this is a matter which, think, is one that should be left to the Local Government.
Is there any reason to suppose that this preferential treatment of political prisoners is popular with other than a very small class in India?
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the large number of political prisoners now in gaol and the hot weather now in season, any special steps have been taken to see that prisoners are moved to more temperate gaols, and that the conditions and the punishments in the gaols are not adding to the discomforts of normal prison life in India; and, if he has no information on the subject, will he communicate with India, and in particular with Lahore?
The Secretary of State is satisfied that all reasonable steps to safeguard the health of prisoners, amongst which, however, he would not include removal from their native climate, are already taken in the normal course by the Government of India, of whom he is not prepared, accordingly, to make the inquiries suggested.
If there be a choice of gaols, will the Noble Lord see that the hottest is given to those who incite to crime?
Burn them alive!
Cork Harbour And Berehaven (Defences)
asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangement has been come to with the Minister of Defence of the Provisional Government of the South of Ireland relative to the defences of Cork Harbour and of Bere-haven?
The Treaty provided that certain harbour defences, including those of Cork Harbour and Berehaven, should remain in charge of British care and maintenance parties. This provision is being carried out and the parties are now actually garrisoning the forts.
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that these defence parties are sufficient to defend these forts from attack?
I hope so.
Are they armed?
I have no doubt they are, but I will make further inquiry into it.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the existing conditions in many parts of Ireland, he will grant to married non-commissioned officers and men of the Irish regiments which are being, or are about to be, disbanded, the same consideration as was extended to the Royal Irish Constabulary in the shape of a temporary separation allowance in cases where these individuals cannot at present safely return to their homes in Ireland?
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply yesterday to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Shettleston Division of Glasgow.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer he gave yesterday in no way answers the question I put now to him? What I ask now is why should disbanded soldiers who have to go back to Ireland be treated worse than the Constabulary?
I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend should say that they are treated worse. The answer I gave yesterday was to call attention to the Army Order under which those men get a bonus, and that is, I believe, a sufficient bonus, and as much as can be granted in the Service.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they get the bonus whether they live in Ireland, Scotland, Wales or elsewhere? What I am asking is why, owing to the conditions in Ireland by which these men cannot go back to their homes, they should not be treated like ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary?
Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at the answer he gave yesterday? If he does, he will find that these cases are quite outside the terms of the reference to my Committee. I cannot deal with them at all.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is, I think, not quite right in saying that these cases are outside the terms of reference to his Committee "if" there is financial need. It is because there may be financial need that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who puts this question, asks for their better treatment—treatment better than is given under the Army Order.
Ts the right hon. Gentleman aware that under the terms of reference to my Committee I can only deal with refugees who have landed in Great Britain from Ireland? These men are not refugees who have landed in Great Britain from Ireland.
Owing to the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall call attention to the matter on the Adjournment to-night.
British Troops, Dublin
asked the Secretary of State for War whether any British regiment is now in the Dublin area; if so, whether any casualties have occurred recently; whether the troops are allowed out of barracks; and for what purpose they are required?
The answer to the first and third parts of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the second part, I regret that a gunner of the Royal Artillery was killed on the 12th May, and a non-commissioned officer of the Royal Army Service Corps on the 27th May. In regard to the last part, the troops are required for reasons of policy which cannot be dealt with within the limits of a Parliamentary answer.
What steps are taken to safeguard the lives of these men in Dublin, as every time they are compelled to go out of barracks they are in danger of their lives—of being shot at?
Does the figure given by the right hon. Gentleman include the casualties or merely the killed?
No, these two lost their lives.
Can I have an answer to my question?
The hon. and gallant. Gentleman asks what precautions are taken?
No special precautions can be taken—
Subject to this, that, of course, the troops could be confined to barracks; but that is not a possible condition for any length of time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies deal with this question when he makes his statement to-day or to-morrow as to why troops are still retained in Dublin? That has not yet been answered by the Government.
Yes, I will endeavour to point out why it is necessary to keep them in Dublin.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give directions that these soldiers shall not be allowed out of barracks without having arms to protect them against these savages?
I am not going to interfere with the discretion of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in Ireland. He is very well aware of the conditions and makes the. arrangements he considers necessary.
Are these troops kept in Dublin at the request of the Provisional Government, or against their wish?
No, Sir; they are not kept in Dublin at the present time at the request of the Provisional Government, but because the process of evacuation has been temporarily suspended.
Kidnapped British Officers
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is any further news of the three officers and one man captured at Macroom; whether there is still any hope of their being alive; and whether His Majesty's Government or the Provisional Government are still taking any steps to avenge these officers or to ascertain their fate?
As I stated yesterday in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Burton, I regret that I have no further information on this subject. I am sorry, however, to say that the military authorities no longer feel able to hold out any hope that these men are still alive, and have so informed the relatives.
Is it true, as stated in the papers, that these three officers and one man who were captured were dragged into Macroom Castle, and have not been heard of since?
I do not know.
Who is in possession of Macroom Castle now?
I must ask for notice of that Question.
Malicious Injury Claims
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in case of awards made in defended cases for compensation for malicious injuries to property sustained between 21st January, 1919, and 11th July, 1921, Lord Shaw's Commission has any jurisdiction to consider such cases; and how soon the compensation awarded in such cases will be paid?
The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. In reply to the second part, application for payment in such cases should be made to the Provisional Government.
In view of the fact that there is no chance of anything being done immediately, will the Government pay the long overdue claims, or a portion of them, and charge it to the Provisional Government later on?
I do not think that we can well assume that there is no chance of the Provisional Government paying, but we certainly shall not pay over the last sums which will be due until we are satisfied that a similar rate of payment is being made by the Provisional Government.
Will the right hon. Gentleman pay these people something on account as many of them are in great distress?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that General Doran, an ex-member of His Majesty's forces, was on 22nd May arrested at Rosslare by the forces of the Provisional Government, assaulted, beaten, detained for some time without any charge being preferred, and only released by the action of the local demobilised soldiers; whether his attention has also been drawn to the fact that General Higginson was on 24th May severely wounded by revolver shots at Tipperary, and that on 22nd May, Patrick Gilligan, an ex-soldier, was murdered at Newport, County Tipperary; will he state how many officers, ex-officers, soldiers and ex-soldiers of His Majesty's army have been murdered in Ireland since the signing of the Treaty with the Sinn Fein representatives, and in how many cases criminals have been brought to justice; and whether His Majesty's Government will offer facilities to enable ex-members of His Majesty's army to emigrate from Southern Ireland to the Colonies?
My attention has been drawn to the outrages referred to in the first part of the question. I have no authentic information in regard to the arrest of General Doran except that it was not committed by the forces of the Provisional Government as stated by the hon. and gallant Member. I am informed that every effort is being made to trace and punish the perpetrators of the attempted murder of General Higginson and the murderers of Patrick Gilligan, but that no arrests have yet been made in either case. The number of officers murdered in Ireland since the Treaty is four, of ex-officers six, of soldiers three, and of ex-soldiers three. Whilst His Majesty's Government note that these dastardly murders and attempts upon the lives of British soldiers are denounced on behalf of the Provisional Government and others, the melancholy fact remains that no persons have been brought to justice for these crimes. Whether some such action as that suggested in the final part of this question will become necessary depends upon the course that events take.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give some indication of the source of information that enables him to contradict this statement? Does it come from the Provisional Government or from the military authorities in Ireland?
I must ascertain that.
Was not General Doran arrested by the police under the Provisional Government with assistance, and did not Mr. Michael Collins undertake to have an inquiry made? Has that inquiry been carried out?
The information which I have been able to obtain is that no inquiry has yet been held.
Will the right hon. Gentleman as far as possible see that ex-soldiers are given facilities to leave Ireland? Is he aware that in many cases they are subject to assaults, if not actually in danger of being murdered?
I think that in my statement to-morrow I shall be able to put the House in possession of the general situation in relation to these men.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are several thousands of ex-soldiers already dumped clown in Ireland, and when he makes his statement will he say whether the Government cannot do something to enable them to reside out of Ireland, at any rate for the time being?
I am not aware that the ex-soldiers are in any special danger in Ireland any more than the other persons who have been associated in one form or another with the Government service, or with the Unionist party in Ireland. No doubt they are all in some danger at the present time, but I do not think that the soldiers about to be disbanded in the Irish regiments will be in any more danger than other ex-soldiers and many scores of others in Ireland and various other classes and they stand in a different position from the Royal Trish Constabulary who have been serving for many years with definite duties as police and police control in all parts of Ireland. Consequently, they have an entirely different character of service to their record as compared with the soldiers who have been sent on overseas service. There is a great distinction between the two and it would be impossible for me to deal with all ex-soldiers in Ireland, or those who may subsequently return to Ireland, upon the basis arranged with the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Royal Irish Constabulary
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that pensioners of the Royal Irish Constabulary are having compulsory deductions made from their pensions in respect of claims for Income Tax for the year 1919–20, which have not been properly assessed and which are disputed, and in some cases where an appeal is pending from the assessment; and whether, in view of the great hardship on the pensioners of these compulsory deductions, which may turn out to be unjustified, he will give directions that no deductions shall be made from their pensions until the Income Tax has been finally and properly assessed?
My hon. and learned Friend has furnished me with particulars of the case to which his question relates. I am causing inquiry to be made into the matter and will communicate the result to him in due course.
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that many ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary residing in Ireland who were retired from the force in the usual way prior to, and in some cases years before, the recent disbandment, have Keen ordered under threats to leave their homes in the same way as men who have been recently disbanded, and that the sole ground for this action is that the men at one time served in the Royal Irish Constabulary; and whether the Government will take steps to render financial assistance in such cases, and to whom such men should apply?
I regret that there have been some instances of intimidation of this kind. His Majesty's Government, however, cannot see their way to regard these cases as different from those of other civilians compelled in present circumstances to leave Ireland; and any pensioner who has come to this country and is in need of assistance should apply to the Committee presided over by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea.
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of Sate for the Colonies if he will make a statement to-day on the position of affairs in Ireland?
I hope to do so to morrow.
Does the right hon. Gentleman give a definite undertaking to make a statement to-morrow before the House rises?
Will there be an opportunity of taking a vote on the statement?
My hon. and learned Friend has been too long a Member of the House not to know exactly what is the Parliamentary procedure on the Motion for the Adjournment.
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that we shall have a Debate. What is the good of the Debate without taking a vote?
Londonderry (Sinn Fein Troops)
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can give the House any information as to the invasion of Ulster territory from the South and West, and what steps have been taken by the British troops to disperse and drive out the invaders?
I cannot add anything to the answer I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Bradford (Major Boyd-Carpenter) yesterday, and the answers to questions arising out of it. I do not think that anything in the nature of invasion has taken place.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the public Press is full of the fact that Pettigo and Belleek, two villages in Ulster territory, have been invaded, and are held now by Free State troops or I.R.A. troops? I want to know what the Government are doing with the British troops. They say they have 19 battalions with which to drive out the invaders and safeguard Ulster.
That is what I said yesterday. Had I any further information on the subject, I should certainly give it to the House.
Owing to the most unsatisfactory answer of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask your leave, Mr. Speaker, to move the Adjournment of the House to draw attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the confessed and avowed failure and refusal of the Government to use British troops to defend Ulster.
On a point of Order. I venture to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the expressions "the confessed and avowed failure and refusal of the Government to use British troops in the defence of Ulster" are an entire misrepresentation and travesty of what I said.
I must leave the hon. and gallant: Member (Colonel Ashley) to bring this matter forward at the end of Questions. There are other questions to be put. He will recollect, however, that the initiative lies with the Government of Northern Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I do not know whether he has information that application has been made by the Government of Northern Ireland and not assented to by the War Office, or the General in Command of the British troops. That seems to be the proper way of dealing with the matter. We were informed yesterday that any request made by the Government of Northern Ireland would be promptly conceded.
Under whose orders, Mr. Speaker, are the troops in Ulster? Are they not under the Government of the United Kingdom? Are they not paid by this House? Yet we have just heard the Secretary of State for the Colonies say that he is going to do nothing to defend Ulster. He refuses to do anything. That is a matter of which this House should take cognisance.
On the point of Order. May I be permitted to say that I said nothing of the kind. I said the exact contrary. I said that the officers commanding the army in Ulster had been instructed to give all possible aid to the Northern Government in the defence of northern territory. The statement which my hon. and gallant Friend has repeated the second time is diametrically a reversal of the actual words which I used in the presence of the House.
Has a Minister of the Crown any right to shuffle off his responsibility to somebody else when he is put in charge of Northern Ireland by this House and by the Government?
On the same point of Order—
I will deal with this point first. This House has entrusted this business to the Government of Northern Ireland in the first instance. We have British troops there, and they are available when asked for by the civil Government.
I would respectfully remind you of the words used by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday when he said that certain military steps which might become necessary for the defence of Ulster could not be taken without reference to the Cabinet here.
That was a very different question. That was a question of these troops going over the border.
On that point, I submit that it is really the same point as that which has been put by my hon. and gallant Friend. It is really a question of what the military authorities there might consider the best step for the protection of the border, and it might very well be from the military point of view that to go over the border was the only means of defence. The right hon. Gentleman stated definitely yesterday that no such steps could be taken at the instance of the Government of Northern Ireland, or with their authority, without reference to the Cabinet here.
On a point of Order. May I ask you, as an Irishman, whether the time has not arrived for making some arrangement to abolish all borders in Ireland?
That does not arise. We all wish it were possible.
At the end of Questions—
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure of the Government to give authority to the military authorities to defend Ulster territory by any means in their power."
That, as I before indicated, is not a Motion that I can accept under Standing Order Number 10. It would subvert the constitution of the Government of Northern Ireland, a thing that is hardly desirable under Standing Order No. 10. I may say, however, that I propose to give the question of Ireland first place in the discussion on the Adjournment Motion to-morrow.
Without questioning your ruling in the slightest, may I ask you how the House is going to carry on, as apparently the troops in Ireland have two masters. They have the masters here and the masters in Ireland. If they get contradictory orders, what will happen?
The hon. and gallant Member knows the position as well as anybody. The military authority acts at the request of the civil authority, and, that request having been made, the military commander is the authority which decides the means.
If this House be responsible for the pay of the military, how can it be precluded from discussing a situation in which our troops are engaged, because if a discussion be out of order merely because it happens in Ireland, it would equally exclude all discussion if some disaster happened to us in Ireland?
May I be allowed to ask what is the constitutional position? Have we not established two Parliaments in Ireland, and have they not control of Ireland? If they cannot settle their differences, why should we be asked to send troops to settle their differences for them?
Supposing the civil authorities in Ireland give certain orders to the troops and supposing that this House thinks that those orders ought not to be given to troops who are under their supervision and whom they pay, is this House to have no opportunity of expressing its opinion?
In view of what my right hon. Friend has said, may I say that the British troops in Ulster are not under the orders of the Northern Government any more than the troops in Liverpool are under the orders of the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. But, if the Northern Government applies for the aid of troops in support of the civil power, that aid will be given, and the troops then, as you have said, will be under the orders of the military authority, who will assume control of that particular event and deal with it as they deem fit, and for that purpose will act, not only not under the orders of the Provisional Government, but under the orders of the Imperial Government.
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for answering my point of order. Why are we to be precluded from moving the Adjournment to consider the conduct of troops whom the right hon. Gentleman has just said are under the control of this Parliament?
The Motion is not to raise something that the troops have done, but something that the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Ashley) would like them to do, which is very different. That is the ground on which I rule that the Motion does not come under Standing Order No. 10.
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonics if ho is aware that there are several munition factories in Ireland, that these factories are in full work, and if he will inquire of the Provisional Government for what object these munition factories are producing munitions of war?
I should be obliged if my hon. Friend would put mc in possession of the data on which his question is based?
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire from the Provisional Government why these munitions are being made? He has facilities for seeing representatives of the Provisional Government of Ireland and conferring with them. I gave notice of this question last night. Will he make it his business to inquire into the matter? It is a very important matter.
I would ask my hon. Friend that I should have the advantage of which he is possessed before I embark upon further inquiries.
Is it a new policy of the Government that hon. Members have got to give a Minister details, instead of the Government giving them information? I have got information, which I suggest is true, and I want him if ho can to deny it.
I have had certain information, I would like to add to that the information of my hon. Friend, which I am certain he will place at the disposal of the public.
Why are the people of Northern Ireland being provided with munitions by the Government of this country while they are denied to people in the South?
Has the right hon. Gentleman pressed the Provisional Government, since he has had my question, to give definite information on this matter?
The hon. Member knows that he brought the question to me, and I think it is the least that can be asked of him that he should offer his information.
On a point of Order. Is it not the business of Ministers to give information to the House rather than to expect to receive it? And is not this a perfectly legitimate question, the answer to which the right hon. Gentleman can get from some of the members of the Provisional Government who are over here?
The question is one of which I only got notice about half-an-hour before I came to the House. I have some knowledge of what is being done in this respect, but I am not in a position to make a full statement on the subject. It must be clearly understood that if munition factories are working in Dublin the Provisional Government are within their rights under the existing legislation in so doing, but I agree that the manufacture of munitions or the importation of munitions upon a great scale would be a matter which would have most seriously to be considered. If my hon. Friend has information of a graver kind than I have to put at my disposal he should put it at the service of the Government.
I am willing to give any information which I have to the right hon. Gentleman, but he must know that any information which I have might lead to the murder of people who gave this information as the Government have failed to give any protection to anybody over there who gives information.
Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman has information that certain munition factories are working in Ireland?
Yes, I have information, but nothing I have heard leads me to suppose that anything is going forward on a great or formidable scale. Up to the present we have trusted to the Provisional Government to maintain order in Southern Ireland, and we have been enabling them to secure a certain amount of equipment and munitions which could be used for that purpose. That is the position up to the present. It may be that a new position will supervene, and when it does I must inform the House.
Now that the Provisional Government are manufacturing their own munitions of war, is the right hon. Gentleman suspending supplying thorn with munitions of war on this side?
Yes. I have suspended all supplies from the date of the Collins—de Valera Agreement.
Why are the Provisional Government allowed to manufacture munitions, and what does the eight hon. Gentleman consider to be a reasonable scale?
We are obviously approaching one of these recurrent crises in the Irish situation with which this House is familiar. I will make a statement to the House to-morrow on the subject. I would far rather that it should be considered by the House then than by these fragmentary questions and answers.
Provisional Parliament, Southern Ireland
(by Private Notice) asked the Colonial Secretary under what Clause of the Treaty, or by what authority, has the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in yesterday's "Gazette" dissolved the Parliament of Southern Ireland and called a Parliament to be known as the Provisional Parliament, to which the Provisional Government are to be responsible, and how are the members of this new Provisional Parliament to be chosen or elected, and whether this new Parliament is to meet in July?
The Parliament of Southern Ireland was dissolved, and the Parliament to which the Provisional Government is to be responsible was summoned, under the authority of Subsection (2) of Section I of the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922. This Subsection directs the necessary steps to be taken for holding, in accordance with the law now in force with respect to the franchise, numbers of members, and method of election and holding of elections to the Parliament of Southern Ireland, an election of members for the constituencies which would have been entitled to elect Members to that Parliament. The reply to the last part of the question is in the affirmative. I may add that I shall be dwelling on this subject in the course of my remarks to-morrow.
I only wanted to know how the members would be elected on the 1st July.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was the duty of the Provisional Government to dissolve the Parliament in Dublin, or whether it was the duty of the Lord Lieutenant, because he will observe that the Proclamation issued by the Provisional Government preceded by a considerable number of hours the special Proclamation issued in the "Gazette" by the Lord Lieutenant.
Yes, that was due to an accident, but the intention was that the Lord Lieutenant's Proclamation and the Proclamation by the Ministers of the Provisional Government should be simultaneous. I may point out that the only authority which can give any validity to this election or any validity to the Writs, or to any proceedings by any Parliament returned is the authority of the Crown as signified by the Lord Lieutenant.
Army Officers (Compulsory Retirement)
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the advisability in the case of junior officers retired under the scheme of Army reduction being given a step in rank on being placed in the reserve, as this would, in their being called upon, in case of emergency in the near future for active service, provide that they would have the seniority which their present degree of war experience would warrant?
Officers retired under the scheme of Army reductions will be granted such rank in the reserve as they are eligible for under Army Order 376 of 1918, which was framed to grant to officers the rank which their degree of war experience warranted.
Crown Colonies (Loans)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Colonial Office and the Treasury consider themselves bound by a statement of the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain to the effect that, guarantee or no, this country could not allow any Crown Colony to default in interest on their loans; and, if so, will they see that a definite guarantee is given in future so as to raise the money more cheaply?
I have not been able to trace the statement to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. I see no reason to anticipate that any Crown Colony will default in the interest on any of its loans, and I doubt whether it is either practicable or desirable to discuss what steps should or could be taken in so remote and improbable a contingency. In answer to the last part of the question, I am not prepared to urge my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask Parliament for a general authority to give a British Government guarantee for Crown Colony loans.
As this question is still in doubt, when the next loan takes place would it not be better that we should have a definite liability under which we should get the money more cheaply rather than have a very indefinite liability, which may be ultimately put upon us as a debt of honour?
This practice is not a new one. When these loans are issued, the prospectus clearly states upon its face that the British Government are not responsible either for the principle or interest and I cannot see what further steps or measures are called for. We have been very successful in raising these loans for the Colonies under the existing system with full notice to the investing public. The money raised by these loans has been largely spent. upon labour in this country and relieving unemployment. I understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes by the series of questions he is asking really to endanger the raising of these loans and so prevent them from employing British labour.
No. I want them to get money as cheaply as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any information on the financial position of the Government of Iraq; whether the budget is expected to balance this year; if not, whether any grant in aid will be made by the Imperial Government; and whether the cost of the armed forces stationed in Iraq is included in the budget?
The detailed Estimates for the current financial year have not yet been received from the Iraq Government, but I am assured that every effort is being made to balance the Budget. Should the expenditure, however, exceed the revenue this year, no grant in aid will be made from Imperial funds. The whole cost of the Iraq Army is borne by local revenues; the cost of the Imperial garrison and the cost of the Iraq levies are a charge upon Imperial funds.
Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that in the near future the whole of the forces in Iraq will be chargeable to the local Government?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that grave political crisis of which he informed us a few weeks ago is now at an end?
Yes, Sir. It has been happily ended and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has resumed his function.
Is there no possibility of the troops being a first charge upon the local revenue?
I made a lengthy statement on that subject the other day, and I then indicated the sort of cost we should have to look forward to in future years. The House debated the matter for a whole afternoon, and it is impossible for me to improve upon that statement in answer to a question.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the approximate strength of the Iraq levies?
The hon. Member must give notice of that question.
Concessions, Palestine (Mr Rutenberg)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will issue as a. White Paper particulars of the concessions in Palestine granted to Mr. Pinhas M. Rutenberg?
I do not think it necessary to incur the expense of reprinting the agreements with Mr. Rutenberg, but I will place copies in the Library.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not see the desirability of giving the House the fullest particulars of this concession in view of the very malicious opposition organised in certain anti-Semitic centres?
I think that hon. Members who wish to study this matter will have an opportunity in the Library of reading the details. It is rather a serious business to embark upon the widespread printing of these long and complicated documents, but if the interest of hon. Members in them is so great, I will have them printed.
Will the Paper placed in the Library make it clear that the terms of this concession were negotiated between Mr. Rutenberg and the Colonial Office, and what terms the Colonial Office has specifically agreed to and for which they are responsible?
I am quite ready to face this matter if there be any necessity to do so.
Has the right hon. Gentleman read the attack made upon this contract in the "Daily Mail"?
I read nothing but attacks upon everything in the "Daily Mail."
Liquor Traffic (State Management)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the authority under which he has appointed the State Management Districts Council as the body responsible for accounting to the State for the public money provided in the Estimates for expenditure in respect of the State management districts?
The authority under which the arrangements explained to the hon. and gallant Member in my answer of the 16th May have been made is the authority vested in my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland and myself for carrying on the public services for which we are responsible as Ministers of the Crown.
Naturalisation (Mr B Weinberg)
asked the Home Secretary whether he received in July, 1919, from Mr. B. Weinberg, Editor of the "Jewish Family Friend," an application for naturalisation; and, if so, can he give the grounds for the refusal to make efficient arrangements for dealing with applications for naturalisation from individuals of the highest reputation, especially those who are married to British subjects and have families born in this country?
An application was received in July, 1919, from Barnet Weinberg, who described himself as a printer of 103, Petherton Road, Highbury. This is, I expect, the application to which the hon. Member refers. As regards the second part of the question, I cannot accept the suggestion that I have refused to make efficient arrangements for dealing with applications for naturalisation, and I have nothing to add to various previous answers which I have given the hon. Member on this subject.
As there are some hundreds of these applications which have extended over many years surely there must be some lack of efficiency, otherwise these claims would have been dealt with and either dismissed or allowed?
No, Sir, there is no lack of efficiency, but if the House would allow me to treble the staff of this particular branch of my Department we could deal with the cases more quickly.
Seeing you now charge a fee of ten guineas, why not increase the fee and enlarge the staff?
Visas And Passports
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to Article 16 of the recommendations of the Third Commission (Economic) at Genoa relating to visas and passports; and what steps he proposes to take to carry out the advice contained therein?
The answer will be found in my reply to a similar question put to me on the 24th instant by the hon. Member for Acton.
Tipton Ammunition Factory (Explosion)
asked the Home Secretary when the Report of the Tipton ammunition factory explosion disaster will be published?
I am informed that an interim report has been drawn up, and I expect to receive it to-day.
Milk Grants, Scotland
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that the Scottish Board of Health has issued a circular intimating that it is proposed to reduce the grant for milk and meals for nursing and expectant mothers and infants forthwith, involving a. reduction from £100,000 to £9,000; whether he is aware that, in consequence, the Glasgow City Council has had to curtail its services, and that 13,000 children have been deprived of a pint of milk daily and 7,000 of a dinner; and whether, in view of the present distress due to unemployment, the circular will be withdrawn?
A circular has been issued intimating that the grant in aid of expenditure on food and milk provided under Maternity Service and Child Welfare Schemes has been limited for the current year to £6,000. I am sending a copy of the circular to the hon. Member. I understand that the town council of Glasgow has decided, in view of the limitation of the grant in aid, to restrict their scheme to the supply of milk to bottle-fed babies and meals to mothers, and that milk supplies from the council to children have ceased in, approximately, 11,000 cases, and meals in 6,000 cases. Having regard to the real objects of Maternity and Child Welfare Schemes, and to the fact that parish councils have received special statutory powers to deal with distress arising from unemployment, I cannot entertain the suggestion in the last part of the question.
asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the case of a counter clerk and telegraphist at Gracechurch Street branch office, who was called upon to make good the loss of £8 through paying out a stolen money order; and whether he will inquire further into the subject on the grounds that risk allowance is intended to cover only ordinary mistakes and not cases of fraud?
I am acquainted with the case to which the hon. Member refers. The officer in question, who holds a risk allowance, was called upon to make good the loss because he failed to observe the rules relating to the payment of money orders. This is the normal practice in the case of holders of risk allowances.
The question as to whether the risk allowance is intended to cover cases of fraud has not been answered. The Regulation specifically refers to the particular duties of the officer.
There is no question of fraud in this case. The officer concerned accepted an irregular signature. He has the risk allowance, and although I sympathise with him, I do not see it was possible for the Department to have done anything else.
London And Paris Wireless Service
asked the Postmaster-General whether the temporary permission which was granted to the Marconi Company to conduct a wireless telegraph service between London and Paris has been confirmed by the grant of a permanent licence; and whether, having regard to the prejudicial effect of the Marconi Company's service upon the State cable service and to the appreciable loss of revenue, he will, in accordance with his promise, cause the agreement to be laid before Parliament at the earliest possible moment?
No formal licence has yet been issued. The question of the conditions under which a permanent licence should be granted is still the subject of negotiation. In the event of an agreement being reached, its terms will be laid before Parliament in accordance with the promise given. The Marconi Company's service has probably withdrawn a certain amount of traffic from the cable service, but the loss of revenue involved is not appreciable.
Is it not suggested that the service would be a great saving to the public who wish to telegraph, whatever it may be to the State?
I must ask for notice of that question.
Outer London Letter Deliveries
asked the Postmaster-General by how many the establishment will be reduced when the proposals to abolish the 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. deliveries and institute a 3.30 p.m. delivery in the outer London districts is fully in operation; and whether full consideration has been given to the possible increase of business consequent upon the reduction of postal rates?
asked the Postmaster-General whether it is proposed to abolish the 6 p.m. delivery in the London suburbs; and, if so, what steps have been taken to ascertain the mind of the public with regard to such proposed reduction of postal facilities?
It. is proposed to replace two deliveries commencing at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively by a single delivery at 3.30 p.m. in the London sub-districts. The general effect will be that about 100,000 of the letters which fall into the existing 6 p.m. delivery will be delivered earlier than at present and within business hours. About 200,000 will be delivered two hours later, but as these letters are not delivered within business hours I do not think the delay is likely to cause any appreciable inconvenience. The reduction in the establishment is estimated at about 300 postmen, and there will be a saving of about £50,000 per annum. The increase of business would not affect the desirability of change.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the experience of the last 12 months has proved that an economy to the extent of £1,000 in his Department means a national waste to the extent of hundreds of thousands in the case of the ordinary channels of trade.
That is a matter for debate.
asked the Postmaster-General why sample packages, marked "No Value," which are accepted by foreign countries for delivery in the United Kingdom are being detained by the British postal authorities and a charge is made on the ground that the samples enclosed are of value though, on protest being made, the overcharge is generally refunded; and whether he will, with a view to avoiding these annoyances, make some international arrangement as to limitations or definitions?
By the Regulations of the International Postal Union a sample of merchandise may not be sent at the reduced sample rate of postage if it has a saleable value. In many foreign countries articles of saleable value are from time to time irregularly marked "No Value" and accepted for transmission at the reduced rate. When such a packet is detected in the British Service the appropriate charge is raised upon it as provided by the Postal Union Convention. Charges so levied are only refunded in special cases in which the addressee furnishes proof that the contents of the packet are not actually of saleable value, although they appear to be. I have no power to vary the arrangement made by the International Convention, the provisions of which on this point are clear. The remedy for the annoyance to which the hon. Member refers lies in strict observance of the Regulations by the senders of sample packets.
Will the right hon. Gentleman have these Regulations posted in a conspicuous place in our post offices?
I will suggest that.
asked the Postmaster-General whether he realises that many telephone subscribers are sceptical as to the record of calls accredited to them at their respective exchanges; and whether he is able to report to the House the opinion of the Post Office as to the possibility of installing in the near future in each exchange an effective automatic recorder?
Complaints of overcharging are diminishing as subscribers, formerly on the unlimited service rate, realise the extent of their use of the telephone. No satisfactory automatic record has yet been devised either in this country or abroad.
Has the Post Office ever thought of offering a reward for a satisfactory automatic recorder? It might encourage inventors.
I have seen such an apparatus as that to which my hon. Friend refers, but it is not considered satisfactory by the Post Office. I will note what the hon. Gentleman has said with regard to offering a prize.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that negotiations are now proceeding with the Post Office in regard to an automatic recorder? What view has the Postmaster-General expressed on the subject?
The opinion of the Post Office is that up to the present no proper apparatus has been found.
How many complaints are there? Is it a diminishing number?
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
Appeal (J Melia)
asked the Minister of Pensions why in the case of John Melia, of Heywood, whose appeal was allowed by the House of Lords Tribunal, the amount of £24 3s. 8d. was deducted, an amount that he had received in weekly payments under a previous award; and why no allowance was paid for the nine months that transpired between his allowance being cut off and his case coming before the House of Lords Tribunal, which body allowed his appeal?
The question referred to the Tribunal was whether aggravation of the disability by service had passed away, and that being decided in the man's favour, an appropriate award of a final weekly allowance was made. Awards of this nature are made where the disablement is less than 20 per cent. and are of a limited aggregate amount. It was, therefore, necessary to take into account the amount paid under the earlier award for which the current award was substituted. I may add that the man has gained substantially by the success of his appeal.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how they would have recovered the £24 3s. 8d. if the man had lost his appeal at the House of Lords Tribunal?
The position is that when a disability is under 20 per cent. the man gets a final award in a series of weekly payments which come to an end, but the man is not entitled to two sets of weekly payments, as suggested by my hon. Friend.
Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman see that an award was made that this man should receive 104 weeks' benefit at a certain rate, which amounts to a given sum, and that it is proposed to take £24 3s. 8d. from it?
I think that perhaps I did not make the matter quite clear. When a man is given a final payment, that is a payment which is obviously intended to close the case; he cannot have two final payments.
Royal Field Artillery (J Walker)
asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that Corporal Shoeing-Smith John Walker, No. 7426, Royal Field Artillery, has had his claim to pension disallowed although the symptoms of his disability were found by the medical board to be consistent with the after-effects of an attack of sunstroke; whether an endeavour was made to secure the whole of the available evidence bearing on this case; if he is satisfied that the written evidence of J. Spencer, which appears to have influenced the decision of the Ministry, was a genuine production, in view of the fact that Spencer is illiterate; and whether in such cases he will recommend to medical boards that the whole onus of proof as to the origin of disability and responsibility for the production and preservation of medical records shall not lie with claimants to pension?
As the decision of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal is by law final, my right hon. Friend regrets that the case cannot be reviewed.
Is it the case that the terms of the Royal Warrant do place the onus on the man of proving the origin of his disability?
It is obvious that no payment can be made from public funds unless the claimant has satisfied us as to his right to receive money from the taxpayer; but it is our duty to assist the man in every way in presenting his case.
Royal Engineers (F Alsopp)
asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the case of the late Sapper F. Alsopp, late, of the Royal Engineers, who was enlisted as A 1 and sent to Mesopotamia and was afterwards demobilised suffering from ill-health; that within a few weeks after his return to this country he was certified as suffering from disseminated sclerosis, from which he has since died; and will he state on what grounds all pension liability was denied to the man and now to the widow?
The Ministry decided that the disability in respect of which the late soldier claimed pension was unconnected with service, and that decision was confirmed on appeal by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal. No claim by the widow has so far reached the Ministry, but it is understood that one will shortly be sent in, when the matter will receive full consideration.
Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this man got progressively worse ever since he was discharged from the Army, and how long are the Ministry of Pensions going to shield themselves and rob these people, behind the tribunal?
The hon. Gentleman must be aware, as a Member of this House, that the House decided that any case in which the Ministry held that the man's claim was not justified should be decided, not by us, but by an independent tribunal. That independent tribunal has decided that we are right, and the hon. Member is not justified in the charge that he makes.
Widow's Pension (Mrs W R Munro)
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that Mrs. Munro, widow of the late William Ross Munro, private, No. 11,874, 5th Dragoon Guards, has been refused a pension in respect of her late husband; that the grounds of this refusal are that her late husband was removed from duty prior to the date of marriage; that her husband returned to duty at Dunbar depot and served there for six months after their marriage; that she drew wife's separation allowance for this period; that later, when he was placed on pension, she was recognised as his wife by his having the statutory allowance of £1 for himself, 5s. for his wife, and 3s. 9d. for one child, making a total of £1 8s. 9d., which is the correct amount, and allowances for a 50 per cent, pension; that the decision of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal makes it appear that, while Mrs. Munro is accepted as the wife of a serving soldier and pensioner, she is not to he accepted as the widow; and that Munro was married on 2nd July, 1915, and his discharge from the Army is dated 6th January, 1916; and whether, in view of these facts, he will have this case reviewed?
The late soldier was removed from duty, prior to the date of his marriage, for a disability which resulted in his death, and I regret, therefore, that his widow is not eligible for an award of pension.
Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman taken into account the last part of the question, which says that Munro was married on 2nd July, 1915, and his discharge certificate is dated 6th January, 1916? Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how he was married after he was discharged?
It is not a question of his being married after he was discharged. He was married after he was removed from duty on account of the illness. The point is that he got his illness before he married.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this man returned to duty and worked for several months, that his wife drew a soldier's wife's allowance, and that, when he was pensioned, his wife drew a pensioner's allowance and an allowance for her child as well?
It is, of course, quite true that a soldier who marries naturally draws a separation allowance for his wife, but there would be in this case no allowance so far as this Ministry is concerned. As a matter of fact, they received more than they ought, because he was not really entitled to an allowance from this Ministry for his wife.
If the hon. Member will look at the Order Paper, he will see that we cannot debate every question. It does not give other hon. Members a fair chance at all.
I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the answer on the facts as stated, I shall raise the matter on the Motion for Adjournment.
Canadian Cattle Embargo
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any notification was made to Dr. Tolmie, then Minister of Agriculture, that the British President of the Board of Agriculture could not carry out the pledge to lift the cattle embargo; and whether any public intimation based on this notification was made in the Canadian House of Commons?
I presume the hon. Member refers to conversations in 1919 between representatives of the Canadian Government and Lord Ernle, who was then President of the Board of Agriculture. The substance of these conversations was presumably conveyed by the Canadian representatives to Dr. Tolmie, who made a statement on the subject in reply to a question in the Canadian House of Commons on 11th March, 1920. I will circulate a copy of Dr. Tolmie's starement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the statement:
Extract from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Canadian House of Commons Debates, 11th March, 1920.
Embargo On Canadian Cattle
1. Yes. The legislation (United Kingdom) of 1896 prohibits the landing of cattle from all countries in the United Kingdom, except for purposes of immediate slaughter.
2. Yes. The representations, however, were of an informal nature and were not made through the usual official channels.
3. During the year 1919.
4. The representations for the removal of the embargo were made by Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell, the Live Stock Commissioner, through Colonel Amery, Parliamentary Secretary of the Colonial Office, and Lord Ernie, President of the Board of Agriculture. Both these gentlemen were seen on several occasions and the matter of the embargo discussed in detail. With Lord Ernle's approval, Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell conveyed similar representations to the Scottish Board of Agriculture, the Scottish and English Farmers' Unions, the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, the Agricultural Committee of the House of Commons, Special Committee of the London County Council, and to several other important, bodies in Scotland and in England, with the view of furnishing information which would enlist their support in Canada's position. The arguments used made reference to the health of Canadian cattle; to the fact that Canada regularly grows more cattle than she can finish; to the advantage which British feeders had previously obtained in feeding Canadian cattle; to the interests of British consumers in increasing the supply of fresh killed meat and to the very great importance of building up an Empire source of supply in compete- tion with the control of the British meat trade which had already been secured by American packers.
The campaign which was carried on by Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell led to the matter being taken up in the Imperial Parliament. A question on several occasions was asked respecting the position of the Government. In substance the reply of the Government fully recognised that the embargo could no longer be continued against Canadian cattle on the grounds of disease but that in consideration of the unsettled condition of British agriculture and the lack of confidence amongst feeders and breeders which would be created by removing the embargo, the Government regard it as inadvisable to take any action in the matter. It may be added that, in personal conversation with Dr. Robertson and Mr. Arkell, Lord Ernie gave it as his considered opinion that, in view of the unsettled state of British agriculture following War conditions, it would be quite inopportune to take any action toward the removal of the embargo at the present time.
Is it the fact that. Dr. Tolmie denies having made such a statement?
I cannot say.
Ex-Service Men (Air Ministry)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that in the Air Ministry (R.D. 3) there are cases of ex-service men men serving for half the pay under men very much younger than themselves, who only learnt their present profession while the ex-service men were fighting overseas; and what is the reason for this state of affairs?
The facts are not as stated in my Noble Friend's question. Of the 16 members of the staff of R.D. 3, 13 are ex-service and three non-service men. The average age of the ex-service men is 31, of the non-service men 29; the average pay is.E465 and £600 respectively. The non-service men are the most experienced and best qualified members of the staff, and it has not been found possible to replace them by ex-service men.
Commercial Aeroplanes, Great Britain And Germany
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is able to give the approximate number of com- mercial British planes in actual service in this country as compared with the number of German planes operating in Germany?
It is not possible to draw any useful comparison between the total number of British commercial aeroplanes in operation in this country and the number of German planes operating in Germany, as the new Regulations (which permit of the manufacture of civil machines under certain conditions) only came into force on 5th May, 1922. The total number of machines available for civil air transport in Germany is 225, including 100 old ex-military machines (which are reported to be in bad condition). It is probable, however, that the number of machines operating in Germany will increase as a result of the new Regulations coming into force. The total number of British aircraft holding Certificates of Airworthiness in Great Britain is 115. This number includes all machines used for "joy-riding" purposes and for cross-country flights with passengers or goods. The number of commercial aircraft actually in service on the London-Paris and London-Brussels routes is 18, but, in addition, occasional trips to the Continent are made with other machines.
asked the Secretary of State for Air which country now possesses the most powerfully-equipped air force; and whether any country has to-day a greater ratio than the two-Power standard formerly held by Great Britain on the seas?
The comparative assessment of air strength for which my hon. Friend asks is most difficult to calculate, depending, as it does, not only on numbers of squadrons, machines and personnel, but on relative efficiency of armament and fighting power. The general position was explained in my speech of 21st March last on the Air Estimates. I do not think it desirable or possible to compare air strength on the basis of a one-Power or two-Power standard, but the subject is too complicated to be dealt with usefully by way of question and answer.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider the desirability of posting in the window of each Employment Exchange a complete list of the names and addresses of those in receipt of the unemployment donation at the particular office, so that the local taxpayers can see who are the recipients and may be able to inform the authorities whether these recipients have, to their knowledge, refused work or are surreptitiously doing it while at the same time receiving assistance?
I do not think it would be right to adopt this suggestion. In the main, the claimants are self-respecting working people out of employment through no fault of their own, and receiving assistance from a fund three-fourths of the income of which is contributed by their fellow-workpeople and their employers. I may add that arrangements are in operation under which the guardians ascertain from the Employment Exchanges whether persons claiming relief are in receipt of unemployment benefit.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if the suggestion contained in this question were adopted, a considerable saving of the taxpayers' money would be effected?
I cannot accept that suggestion, in view of the fact which I have already stated, namely, that there is co-operation between the guardians and the unemployment relief authorities.
asked the Minister of Labour how many women are in receipt of the unemployment donation at the Falmouth Employment Exchange; how many of them are registered as domestic servants; how many of these registered women have been offered employment in domestic service; how many have refused this employment; and what is the weekly cost of the donations paid to women at this Exchange?
I understand that five women were in receipt of unemployment benefit at Falmouth on 26th May. I am obtaining the further details asked for, and will communicate them to my hon. and gallant Friend as soon as possible.
asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the increasing difficulty experienced by all families in obtaining domestic assistance and the dissatisfaction felt by the taxpayer at assisting 200,000 women, of whom a very large number could be absorbed in this class of employment, he will agree to the appointment of a small committee of business women to investigate the whole question and to advise the Government on the subject?
I do not under-estimate the difficult of obtaining domestic assistance, but I do not think any appreciable number of the women now drawing unemployment benefit could reasonably be asked to enter domestic service or would be accepted by mistresses if they were willing to do so. Many of them are trained workers in the textile and other trades. On 15th May under 140,000 women were drawing benefit out of a total of 911,000 registered as wholly unemployed. As 2,750,000 women are employed in insured trades, it will easily be seen, having regard to the general state of trade, that the proportion of women drawing benefit, namely, about 5 per cent., is not at all surprising.
May I have a reply to my question if the hon. Gentleman will reconsider the possibility of appointing a committee of business women to advise him?
I do not think at the moment the necessity for such an inquiry arises. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the House that we at the Labour Ministry are spending a great deal of time in perpetually watching the administration of the Act.
Official Publications (Prices)
asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he can make any statement as to the effect of the increased prices for all official publications: whether there is any intention of making a profit on these documents of public interest; and why it is necessary to charge 6d. for a copy of a Parliamentary Bill, thus reducing the demand by which expenses can be met?
The new scale of charges for Parliamentary publications was only adopted in the autumn of last year, and it is not possible, therefore, to form a final judgment as to the effect on sales and revenue of the increase in prices. The general tendency, despite reduction in numbers sold, is to show a greatly increased revenue from sales. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative; the selling price is never fixed above cost of production. With regard to the last part of the question, it is not the case that a flat rate of 6d. is now being charged for all Parliamentary Bills. The prices of Bills are fixed according to a scale based on cost of production, and, therefore, vary roughly according to the number of pages. The average for the first 97 Bills of the Session was about 4d. Although there has been some falling off in sales of copies of Bills, the revenue shows a substantial increase, as is the case in regard to Government publications generally.
Is it the case that the cost of production has increased four times within the last few years—that paper which cost 3s. two years ago cost 6s. last year and 12s. this year?
The hon. Baronet should put that question down.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether grants from public funds for phonetic research are provided in the Budget for 1922–23?
No provision for such grants is made in the Estimates of the Board of Education.
Scholarships (London County Council)
asked the President of the, Board of Education whether he is aware that a number of children who have won scholarships in the county of London have been refused by the London County Council on the grounds that their parents were not born in Great Britain; and, if so, will he use his influence to see that these children who were born and educated in this country and who, by their ability, have obtained the scholar- ships in question, are not penalised on account of their parents' place of birth?