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Written Answers

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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Written Answers

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Disability Pensions (G Widmore)

asked the Minister of Pensions on what grounds the pension of George Widmore, late private, Northampton Regiment, No. 59606, was reduced to less than 20 per cent.; whether he is aware that Widmore was severely wounded by gunshot wound in the chest from which he has suffered ever since; that he now lies in Rotherhithe hospital suffering from encephalitis lethargica, paralysed in limb and powers of speech; and that the pension was varied without the local war pensions committee being consulted or communicated with?

The award for the gunshot wound represents the degree of disablement found by a Medical Appeal Board last February. If disablement has since increased an application for reconsideration on that ground may be made through the local committee. The Pensions Appeal Tribunal having confirmed and thus made final the Ministry's decision in respect of the other disability, I regret that the case as regards that disability cannot be re-opened. With regard to the last part of the question, I would point out that local committees have no responsibility for decisions upon matters relating to assessment and entitlement, but they are officially informed of decisions arrived at.

Asylum Patients

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the knowledge that pension and allowances will be stopped in the event of an ex-service patient coming out of an asylum results in great hardship to the patient, who is often kept in confinement in order that his relatives may draw the money when he would otherwise have been liberated; and whether he will consider making to a patient so discharged a lump sum grant, together with dependants' allowances, for a period sufficient for him to obtain employment?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As I have pointed out in reply to the preceding question, powers of discharge are vested in visitors to asylums. As regards the second part of the question, I may remind my hon. and gallant Friend that a patient may be allowed out "on trial," and during that period the payments by the Ministry in respect of the man and his family continue, thus giving him an opportunity to re-adjust himself to the conditions of ordinary life. If, however, a patient is found to be suitable for discharge, without a period of trial, the position is met by pension appropriate to the degree of disablement due to service.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will consider altering the existing practice of classifying ex-service patients in asylums as private patients, having regard to the fact that this arrangement hands over the patient to the single individual, who is his next-of-kin and who has the power of keeping him in the asylum indefinitely, even after he has been certified as being harmless and when other relatives are prepared to support him?

The arrangement under which service patients in asylums are placed on the legal footing of private patients was made solely in the interests of the men and has received general approval. This classification entitles the patient to certain privileges, whilst not in any way limiting the powers of discharge vested under the Lunacy Acts in any three of the visitors of the asylum.

Aymy Reservists, Southern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for War how many reservists are at present in Southern Ireland; what arrangements have been made with the Free State Government to ensure the free mobilisation and despatch to their units in England or Northern Ireland in case of war; how many of these reservists have joined the Free State Army or the Irish Republican Army, respectively; and, having regard to this depletion of the reserves, whether His Majesty's Government are taking any steps to increase the available reserves of His Majesty's army?

The number of reservists residing in Southern Ireland at present is about 2,300, but I am not in a position to say how many of these men, if any, have joined the Free State Army or the Irish Republican Army. No special arrangements regarding their mobilisation have yet been made with the Irish Government. With regard to the last part of the question, special steps have been taken to increase the Reserves.

Post Office

Nottingham Chamber Of Commerce Journal

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the monthly journal of the Nottingham Chamber of Commerce is not allowed to be posted at the newspaper rate because it is a monthly publication, but has to bear the printed paper rate, and instead of being charged at 1d. costs 2d. or more, according to weight, for inland postage, but while it costs the Chamber 2d to post the journal to the members in Nottingham, they can send it to Canada for 1½d., and if it were a weekly publication it could be posted for 1d.; and whether he will abate these anomalies?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer on this subject given to the hon. Member for Poplar, South Division (Sir A. Yeo) on the 10th of May.

Southern Ireland

asked the Postmaster-General if he has seen an announcement by the postal authorities in the Irish Free State that no alteration is to be made in their postal rates will he explain the relationship of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Irish Free State as regards postal matters: and will he specially indicate what amount of postage letters sent to the Irish Free State should bear?

I understand that the Irish Free State does not propose to reduce the present rates of postage. The control of postal affairs in Southern Ireland has been undertaken by the Irish Provisional Government, and the relationship between the British Post Office and the Irish Free State Post Office is on similar lines to that which obtains in the case of other independent administrations. The postage payable on a letter to Ireland from this country is the ordinary inland rate,i.e., ½Ad. for 1 oz., 2d. for 3 oz. and ½d. for every additional oz.

Estimated Expenditure or Local Education Authorities, 1922–23.
Local Education Authorities Revised Estimates for 1921–22.Assumed by Board of Education for 1922–23.Local Education Authorities Preliminary Estimates, 1922–23.
(1)(2)(3)
Elementary Education.£££
Teachers' salaries42,567,58443,800,00043,591,135
Loan charges3,104,1093,250,0003,111,832
Administration and other expenditure*13,213,30312,000,00011,785,106
Special services†4,154,0733,400,0003,336,381‡
Total—Elementary63,039,06962,450,00061,824,454
Higher Education.
Training of teachers614,805§458,639
Secondary schools5,720,129§5,408,876
Technical, etc.4,069,520§3,786,526
Loan charges689,623§738,928
Administration673,884§670,283
Aid to students1,345,764§1,638,781
Other expenditure264,332§413,004
Total—Higher13,378,05713,000,00013,115,037
Total—Elementary and Higher76,417,12675,450,00074,939,491
* Other expenditure (Elementary Education) includes rent, rates, taxes, insurance, fuel, light, cleaning, caretakers' wages, stationery, repairs to buildings and furniture, capital outlay when charged to revenue, and miscellaneous charges.
† Special services (Elementary Education) include school medical services, provision of meals, special schools for defective children, organisation of physical training, evening play centres and nursery schools.
‡ This figure includes a sum considerably in excess of the limit of £300.000 for provision of. meals stated in paragraph 4 of Command Paper 1638. Full details are not yet available.
§ These items are included in the total of £13,000,000. A separate allocation has not been made.

Education

Expenditure

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he can state how the total expenditure of local education authorities, as estimated by them for 1922–23 in respect of elementary and higher education, respectively, compares with their total expenditure as shown in their revised estimates for 1921–22, and as assumed for the purposes of the Board's Estimates for 1922–23?

The figure are as follow. They are based on a first return, and the estimates in the cases of about 40 authorities for elementary education and 24 authorities for higher education have not yet been formally adopted by the councils concerned:—

Substantive Grant

asked the President of the Board of Education on what basis will reductions be made on grants to local education authorities in cases where it is necessary to do so in order to comply with the provision specified in the last paragraph of Section 3 of the Draft Statutory Rules and Orders governing regulations for substantive grant for the financial year 1922–23, and where the local authority has kept every item of its expenditure within the various limits and complied with all the regulations already prescribed by the board?

I am to-day giving a written answer to the hon. Member for the Central Division of Bristol, which will show the position as disclosed by a summary of the local education authorities' preliminary estimates for 1922–23. Even if the total expenditure of local education authorities falls within the limits laid down in paragraph 4 of Command Paper 1638, the Board, of course, reserve their power to refuse to recognise expenditure which appears to them on merits to be improper or extravagant.

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Administrative Expenses

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he can give an approximate idea as to the expenses caused to importers due to the collecting of the £21,000 under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act for the month of April, seeing that the collection involved the opening of many thousands of packages, for which the Post Office charged 6d. a package, which in one consignment represented 15s. against an amount of duty of 11d., and that on the larger packages at the docks and wharves the average charge for opening is 3s. 6d. per package, plus 5s. for the forwarding agent's charge for attendance in clearing of documents, apart from the question of delays, breakages due to repacking by unskilled persons, and the providing of the cash for the duties which traders hitherto have not been called upon to provide; and whether he will arrange that one or more packages out of a group could be examined instead of the bulk?

I have no means of obtaining the information requested. As regards the charge made by the Post Office, I may refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. C. White) on the 22nd instant. As regards the last part of the question, I would point out that while it is necessary for the protection of the revenue to maintain the right to require all imported packages to be opened for examination, it is the practice, in the absence of suspicion, and provided full particulars of contents are furnished, to require only a proportion of the packages of a consignment of goods entered as liable to Key Industry Duty to be opened, whether the importation takes place as cargo or by parcels post.

Government Departments

Surplus Officers

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many established civil servants surplus to requirements are now on the list known as the Treasury pool?

This question appears to be based on a misapprehension, as the Treasury pool was instituted not to deal with officers surplus to requirements, but to deal with promotions to posts in new Departments. It is only rarely that an established officer is surplus to requirements, owing to the large numbers of temporary staff employed, and therefore there is no central list of such officers, cases being dealt with as they arise.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the principle adopted for retiring surplus naval and military officers will also be adopted for retiring surplus established civil servants?

Provision is already made under the Superannuation Acts for the payment of compensation to civil servants on abolition of office; and it is not proposed to apply to the Civil Service the special arrangements proposed for naval and military officers.

Writing Assistant Class (Pay)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the request from the Civil Service Association for an interview regarding an increase of pay for writing assistants has been refused; and whether he will have it reconsidered?

The Association have been informed that the present rates of pay of the writing assistant class are in the view of the Treasury adequate, having regard to comparable rates in the Civil Service and elsewhere; but that, should the Association still so desire, the Treasury would be prepared to receive a deputation on the subject.

Public Trustee Act

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Public Trustee only acts for a domiciled Englishman, and although he will act for an Englishman whose property is in Scotland he will not act for a Scotsman whose property is in England; and whether he will take steps to secure the same facilities for Scotsmen as Englishmen?

I have been asked to answer this question. The Public Trustee Act, 1906, only applies to trusts which by reason of the circumstances of their creation, their objects, and the intention of the person creating the trusts are stamped with an English character, and would be enforceable or controlled primarily by the English Courts. Section 17 (2) of the Act precludes the extension of its provisions to Scotland, and having regard to the differences in practice and in law between England and Scotland it would not be practicable to introduce legislation to amend the Act in the manner suggested in the question. It should, however, often be practicable under the present law for a Scotsman who desires the services of the Public Trustee with regard to property in England to secure his object through an instrument operating under English law.

Import Duties

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of revenue collected in respect of duties imposed under the import duties on motor cars and motor cycles, clocks and watches, and musical instruments; and what propor- tion was collected on complete articles, and what amount on parts during the year ending 31st March last?

The figures are as follow:Statement showing the amount of revenue collected in the United Kingdom on motor cars, motor cycles, clocks and watches, musical instruments, and parts and accessories thereof, in the year ended 31st March, 1922.

Article.Amount of duty.
£
Motor cars322,000
Parts and accessories thereof388,000
Motor cycles and tricars23,000
Parts and accessories thereof31,000
Total motor cars, etc.£764,000
Clocks:
Complete137,000
Parts thereof25,000
Watches:
Complete224,000
Parts thereof64,000
Total clocks, watches, etc.£450,000
Musical instruments:
Complete166,000
Parts and accessories thereof64,000
Total musical instruments, etc£230,000

Stock Exchange (Interest Charges)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that in 1914 the committee of the Stock Exchange gave an undertaking to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer that, in return for the assistance which the Government had given them, they would hand to their clients any reduction in the rate of interest on the pre-War carry-over account as and when it took place; and, seeing that they increased their rate of interest when the bank rate went up and made no decrease now the, bank rate has gone down, will he consider what action can be taken to see that the undertaking which he obtained from the Stock Exchange should be carried out?

I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. Member by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the 10th instant, except to say that the debtors concerned have now had a very long period in which to settle their accounts and that it is most undesirable that these accounts should remain open longer than absolutely necessary.

Nationality Law

asked the Home Secretary the date of the introduction of the Government Bill, which has been agreed to by the Legislatures of the Dominions, for the amendment of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act., 1914, so as to enable the foreign-born children of British citizens who were themselves born abroad to retain their British nationality?

Loss Of Ss "Egypt"

asked the President the Board of Trade how many boats and rafts the "Egypt" carried, and of what capacity; how many were rendered unserviceable by the collision; whether he has any information that the lascar and Goanese sailors rushed the boats; and how many were left available for the European passengers and crew?

I would refer to the answer given yesterday to the hon. Members for South Battersea, (Viscount Curzon) and East Leyton (Mr. Malone).

Crown And Government Lands

asked the Prime Minister when the Report of the Committee upon Crown and Government Lands will be laid upon the Table of the House?

This Report was received by the Treasury on 24th May, and is at present under consideration. I am as yet not in a position to say when it will be laid.

Service Canteens (Assets)

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the United Services Fund has been obliged to curtail the grants hitherto made to the joint United Services Fund and the S.S.F.A. committees, which have been dealing with relief to widows and orphans and the dependants of ex-service men; whether, in the circumstances, some part of the large amount still due to the United Services Fund from the profits made by the canteens during the War can at once be paid over to the United Services Fund; and, if not, whether a public inquiry will be held into the causes of the delay in dealing with the money which is the property of ex-service men?

I have been asked to answer this question. In regard to the first part, I have no official information, but I have been given to understand that certain grants have been curtailed. In regard to the last part, as I informed the hon. Member for Portsmouth Central (Sir T. Bramsdon) on 11th May, I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the subject shortly. In the meantime I do not think any good purpose would be served by the institution of a public inquiry.

Colonial Dentists

asked the Minister of Health whether any tribunal exists which settles the status of dentists in practice in the Dominions who desire to practise in this country?

Under Section 8 of the Dentists Act, 1878, a person who shows that he holds a recognised certificate granted in a British Possession, and that he is of good character, is entitled on the payment of the registration fee to be registered as a Colonial dentist in the dentists' register without examination in the United Kingdom. A "recognised certificate" is defined by Section 10 as one which is recognised for the time being by the General Medical Council as furnishing sufficient guarantees of the possession of the requisite knowledge and skill for the efficient practice of dentistry or dental surgery. A Colonial dentist who does not hold such a certificate will not be admitted to the register, and, therefore, will not be allowed to practise in the United Kingdom after Section 1 of the Dentists Act, 1921, comes into operation.

Statutory Undertakings (Charges)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the continued high charges for essential services, as water, gas, and electricity, all over the country; and what, if any, steps he proposes to take to bring about a general decrease in such charges?

My Department deals only with water charges. These charges are generally limited by Statute, and I am not aware that they are generally excessive. In certain cases there is a right of application to my Department for revision, and any such application is carefully considered.

Municipal Undertakings (Renewals And Developments)

asked the Minister of Health whether his Department has considered the desirability of permitting local government authorities to set aside each year a sum of money for renewals and developments with the object of spending the aggregate, as far as possible, when there may be trade depression and extensive unemployment?

The question of making general provisions for renewal funds is being considered. Many local authorities now have power to accumulate renewal funds for trading undertakings. The accumulation of a fund for future developments is a different question and, on the whole, of doubtful advantage.

Allotments, Wallasey

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the difference of view which exists with regard to the Wallacre allotments between the Wallasey allotments holders and the parks committee of the Wallasey town council, he will arrange for the visit of an inspector with a view to the adjustment of this controversy to the mutual satisfaction of all parties?

I have been asked to reply as the matter in dispute is apparently one regarding the provision of allotments. I will arrange for inquiries to be made by one of the Ministry's inspectors and will communicate the result to my hon. Friend.

Agriculture (Rabbits)

asked the Minister of Agriculture when a Bill will be introduced to re-enact the provisions of Section 10 of the Corn Production Act, 1917, so as to give occupiers of agricultural land powers to keep down rabbits coming from land adjoining their holdings?

I am afraid I can add nothing to the reply which I gave to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member on the 18th instant.

Kenya Colony And Uganda (Railways)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, since Colonel F. D. Hammond, C.B.E., D.S.O., R.E., was instructed to inspect and make a report upon the administration of the railways in Kenya and Uganda, such report has been received; whether copies are available; and what steps, if any, have been taken to carry out some of the reforms suggested?

Colonel Hammond's Report on the administration of the railways in Kenya and Uganda has been received, and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House. The observations of the Governor of Kenya on the Report are now awaited. When these are received, it will be considered how far Colonel Hammond's recommendations can be carried into effect.

Railway Fares (Athletic Clubs)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, in view of the extreme and growing difficulty of obtaining playing-fields within the immediate London area, he will press on the railway companies the desirability of issuing the cheapest possible half-day tickets to those who can prove they are attached to any athletic or kindred organisations in the outer suburbs?

I sympathise with the object which the hon. Member has in view. The companies are at liberty to reduce fares at their discretion, and I would suggest that the particular railway companies concerned be approached direct by those organisations which desire concessions.

Unemployment

Germany

asked the Minister of Labour if he can state the latest returns of unemployment in Germany?

A summary of the latest returns of unemployment in Germany is given at page 235 of the current issue of the "Labour Gazette, ' a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend. They show that out of a total Trade Union membership of 6,284,233, 71,004 were out of work. This represents 1·1 per cent. The corresponding percentage for the end of February was 2·7 and for March 1921 3·6.

Ex-Service Men

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that W. Barber, 3/109, Stewart Street, Spring Hill, Birmingham, after demobilisation, had employment. for two-and-a-half years and was then thrown out of work; that he received ordinary out-of-work benefit for 13 weeks and, from 13th May, 1922, he has been informed that his unemployment benefits will cease for five weeks; and whether, seeing that had he been unemployed at demobilisation he would have received 19s. 6d. per week for 12 months, the Government is prepared to pay ex-service men in this position out-of-work benefits for the periods that they at present forfeit?

I have been asked to reply. I am making inquiries in regard to this case and will let my hon. and gallant friend know the result as soon as possible. It would appear probable, however, that this claimant has drawn uncovenanted benefit for five weeks since 6th April, and, therefore, under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act recently passed, cannot draw further benefit for five weeks. I dealt with this provision in the reply given to my hon. Friends the Members for Moss Side (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst), Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan), and St. George's (Mr. Erskine) on the 25th May, of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy. With regard to the latter part of the question, I am afraid I cannot admit the validity of the argument which seems to be implied, that because a man was in employment during the period when out-of-work donation was provided for unemployed ex-service men he is therefore entitled to receive out-of-work donation at the present time.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether disabled ex-service men undergoing treatment for their disability are eligible for out-of-work donation; whether he is aware that the D.C.M.S. has given a decision that disability treatment does not prevent the man from working; that employers will not engage a man under disability treatment on the grounds that he is unfit for work; and whether, having regard to these facts, he will withdraw his objection to these men receiving the out-of-work donation?

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that many ex-service men, members of the British Legion, have protested against the action of the Ministry of Labour in withholding the grant of out-of-work donation to disabled ex-service men undergoing treatment for their disability, in spite of the fact that D.C.M.S. decision states that the said treatment does not prevent the men from working; and if he will take action in the matter

I have been asked to reply. Unemployment benefit is not payable unless the applicant is available for and capable of work. Claims made by disabled men undergoing treatment are referred to the insurance officer for a decision on this point. The decision depends on the circumstances of the particular case, but I may mention that if full treatment allowance is being drawn benefit is disallowed. The applicant has, of course, the right to appeal to the Court of Referees against a disallowance.

Benefit

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Miss Agnes M'Evoy, of 1, Dover Street., Manchester, has been refused unemployment benefit upon the ground that she was discharged owing to a trade dispute, notwithstanding the certificate of her late employers, F. Shaw and Company, Limited, of Bradford, Manchester, rubber engineers, that she was discharged owing to reduction of staff caused by trade depression; and, whether he will have the case inquired into?

I am obtaining a report on this case, and will let my hon. and gallant Friend know the result as soon as possible.

Estate Clerks And Farmers' Bailiffs

asked the Minister of Labour whether estate clerks and farmers' bailiffs are insurable persons under the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920, in view of the fact that their employment depends on agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, which are excepted from the operation of the Act?

I have decided in a specific case submitted for my determination under Section 10 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, that a person employed as an estate clerk and typist keeping the books of the home farm, forestry department and other accounts in connection with an agricultural estate, is not employed in agriculture within the meaning of the Act. By virtue of this decision an estate clerk is required to be insured unless in any particular case the rate of remuneration exceeds in value £250 a year, in which case the employment is excepted under paragraph (h) of Part II of the First Schedule. The insurability of farmers' bailiffs depends on the actual work which the bailiff performs. Authoritative decisions with regard to particular cases may be given by me on application made under Section 10 of the Act, but in view of the responsibility placed on me by this Section, I could not undertake to give any decision without full particulars of the individual case. I should add that my decisions are subject to appeal to the High Court.

Land Settlement, Scotland

asked the Secretary for Scotland in what proportion of the new small holdings created in each of the last three years, and in that portion of the present year for which figures are available, the loans to the settlers exceed £200; and whether in the figures already given any increase of land granted under a landholder's tenure to statutory small tenants is reckoned as an enlargement or a new holding?

The approximate percentage of cases in which the equipment loans to the holders exceeded £200 was in 1919 one, in 1920 four, in 1921 30, and and for the portion of the present year for which figures are available 28. In addition, offers of loans exceeding this amount have been made in 150 cases. Four loans exceeding £200 for purchase of stock have been made to individual holders, and loans amounting to £20,000 approximately have been made to 11 sheep stock clubs embracing 144 holders, while offers of loans amounting to £32,400 have been made to six clubs embracing 153 holders. With regard to the latter part of the question statutory small tenants cannot receive enlargements in the same way as landholders, but may obtain additional land as new holdings. Such additions are included as new holdings in the figures published by the Board of Agriculture, but they are very few in number.