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Written Answers

Volume 154: debated on Wednesday 31 May 1922

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Written Answers

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Disability Pensions (S Caiiroll)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will inquire into the case of Mr. Sydney Carroll, late private No. 1,918, Bucks battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light. Infantry, number of identity certificate S.C.D. 1,200; is he aware that this man's pension was recently increased by 10 per cent., owing to his being a left-handed man, but that on 15th May last his pension was reduced by a medical board to 12s. per week; and, as this sum is incorrect., will he have inquiries made and the proper pension paid to Mr. Carroll without delay?

The new award is in accordance with the assessment of a medical board which recently examined the man with a view to the renewal of pension on the expiration of the last award next month. In assessing the existing degree of disablement the board took into account the fact that the man is left-handed. There is the usual right of appeal to a Medical Appeal Board, which may be exercised through the local committee.

Regional Finance Officer, Wales

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the post of regional finance officer for the Welsh region of the Ministry of Pensions has been filled by the transfer of a civil servant from the Liquidation and Disposals Commission; if so, whether he is aware that this civil servant is not a Welshman and has no knowledge of the Welsh language or of pensions administration; that the appointment has been made over the head of a Welsh disabled officer who has had 11 years' banking experience, has a good war record, and who, during his four years' service in the Ministry, has been recommended by the Department, by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and by a judge for the ability he has displayed; and whether, in view of the legitimate claim which can be made for the promotion of this pensions official, he will reconsider the appointment in question?

The post of Regional Finance Officer for the Wales region has been filled by the appointment of a highly-qualified permanent civil servant whose services with the Disposal and Liquidation Commission are at an end, and who is, therefore, available for transfer. In making this appointment, full consideration was given to the claims of existing officials of the Ministry.

British Army

Woolwich Arsenal

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Government has received any offer from any company or firm for the lease of the river frontage of the Woolwich Royal Dockyard and Arsenal; and, if so, whether the Government intend leasing the same for some sound constructive scheme that will find work for the Woolwich unemployed?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, but, as I am informing my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Captain Gee), I have it in contemplation to set up a Committee of Inquiry into the future of Woolwich.

Service Pensions

asked the Minister of Pensions whether a man who has served 12 years with the colours, pre-War, and over two years during the War, is entitled to have his service pension increased on attaining the age of 60?

I have been asked to answer this question. If the hon. Member will be good enough to furnish me with the name and other particulars of the man whom he has in mind, I will look into the case and communicate with him further. At present the particulars given are insufficient to enable me to reply definitely.

Royal Navy (Retired Pay)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why engineer officers who joined the service prior to 1903 are not entitled to count their time passed as pro- bationers towards pensions under the recent retirement scheme; if he is aware that these officers, though few in number, are thus placed in a disadvantageous position as compared with others of equal service; and whether the Admiralty will give further consideration to this matter?

Prior to 1st April, 1903, commissions were not issued to probationary assistant engineers, and as under the Naval Regulations only service covered by commission is allowed to count for retired pay purposes, the period in question cannot now be allowed to reckon. The rule is a general one and is not applicable only to officers retiring under the special retirement scheme.

Ex-Service Men

Labour Colony, Hollesley Bay

asked the Minister of Health whether he is in a position to state the result of his inquiries into the circumstances relating to the return, a body, of nearly 100 men from the labour colony, Hollesley Bay; and whether it is now possible to make the conditions at the labour colony sufficiently tolerable to induce men to stay there?

Of the 85 men who left this colony, 37 have applied for leave to return. There has been no further trouble, and there are now 130 men in residence. I do not think that there is any good ground for criticising the general conditions existing at the colony.

Birtley Training Centre

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that a number of men, who have been drafted from other parts of the country to the Birtley training centre, County Durham, are now receiving poor relief from the Chester-le-Street guardians, and that this charge upon the rates is increasing as men are being continuously moved to this centre where many remain after they have completed their training; and whether he intends to take any steps to relieve the guardians of such part of the financial burden as is due to the special conditions prevailing in Birtley, or what other action does he propose to take to meet this situation?

I have previous information to this effect, but I will make inquiries.

asked the Minister of Labour if it is a Regulation laid down by his Department that ex-service men who who have completed their training, and who have improverships offered in the area where they were trained, must not take such opportunities if they have come from another part of the country; and if he is aware that men have been refused permission to accept posts under these circumstances in the Birtley area?

No such Regulation has been laid down by my Department. Many local technical advisory committees comprised, as my hon. Friend knows, of equal numbers of representatives of employers and workpeople in the trades concerned are, however, strongly opposed to accepting men as improvers from other districts in cases where there are men in their own districts already awaiting improverships. I understand this difficulty has been acute in the Northern Counties, and particularly in the Newcastle district.

Poor Law Relief

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in some cases boards of guardians, when applied to for relief by ex-service men who have married war widows, take into consideration the money which those widows draw from the Government for the maintenance of their children by their first marriage; and will he see that proper instructions are issued to prevent this practice?

Boards of guardians are required by law, when considering applications for poor law relief, to take into account all the means available for the support of the particular applicant and his dependants, and my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that I have no power to issue instructions in contravention of the law.

London Traffic

asked the Minister of Health whether the Royal Commission on Greater London proposes to issue an interim Report; whether, in that case, it will deal with the traffic problem; and whether, before any action is taken on it, he will afford ample time for its consideration by the public and the public authorities concerned?

I am informed that the Commission do not propose to issue an interim Report dealing with the traffic problem. The last part of the question does not, therefore, arise.

Birth Certificates

asked the Minister of Health whether the regulations made from time to time by the Registrar-General in connection with the issue of birth certificates are public documents; and, if not, can copies be inspected in the Library of the House of Commons?

The Regulations referred to have not been published, being issued under Section 5 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1836, which does not require publication. I am, however, arranging for copies of them to be placed in the Library.

Ministry Of Health (Assistant Inspectors)

asked the Minister of Health the number of men assistant inspectors in his Department and the number of inspectors' and divisional inspectors' posts to which they are eligible for promotion; and the number of women assistant inspectors and the number of higher posts to which they are eligible for promotion?

The figures asked for by the hon. and gallant Member are as follow:

Assistant Inspectors92
Inspectors and Divisional Inspectors69
Assistant Inspectors41
In addition there are 120 Health Insurance officers, men, against 19 Health Insurance officers, women.The women staff is not organised on a divisional basis and, therefore, there are no divisional inspectors' posts for women.


National School, Bloomhill, Shannonbridge

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if his attention has been drawn to the seizure of the national school at Bloomhill, Shannon-bridge, King's County; whether he is aware that the parents have been forbidden to send their children to this school again; whether this action constitutes a breach of Article 16 of the Articles of Agreement with Southern Ireland; and, if so, will he make representations to the Provisional Government on this subject?

I regret that I have not yet completed my inquiries into this matter, and I must again ask the hon. and gallant Member to repeat this question at a later date.

Kidnapped British Officers

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information that the three officers kidnapped in County Cork have been murdered; and whether their next-of-kin have been so informed?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave yesterday to the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea, South (Viscount Curzon).



asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Indian Government loans, issued by Act of Parliament and by the authority of the Secretary of State for India and quoted under British funds, are ultimately a responsibility of the British Government?

The answer is in the negative. By Statute, loans raised under the East India Loans Acts are secured on the revenues of India alone in the, same manner as any other liability incurred by the Government of India. In the absence of a formal guarantee authorised by Parliament, the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom has no liability in respect of loans issued by the Indian or any other Government.

Civil Servants (Annuity)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the fact that a member of the Indian Civil Service is not in future to contribute 4 per cent. of his salary towards his retiring annuity is relevant to the position of a member of such service who retired under previously existing conditions, in accordance with which half his pension was provided by a provident fund; whether the whole of such member's annuity of £1,000 a year is now secured upon Indian revenues; whether any and, if so, what changes are made in other benefits to which Indian civil servants were entitled under their provident funds by way of dowers for daughters and annuities for widows and children; and whether such benefits, if still existing, are or are not secured upon the revenues of India?

The whole of the annuity of a member of the Indian Civil Service has been, since 1874, and continues to be, secured upon Indian revenues. The hon. Member will see from Annexure X to the Report of the Public Services Commission that, at the time of the Report, the proportion of the annuity contributed by the Service was estimated at about £250. No change has been made, in consequence of the decision with regard to annuity contributions, in the pensions or donations payable to widows and children of Indian civil servants. Such pensions and donations are in all cases chargeable to Indian revenues, subject to the right of the Secretary of State in the case of subscribers under the Indian Civil Service Family Pension Regulations to levy such subscriptions as may be necessary to meet the liability.

Post Office (Temporary Sorters)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that temporary sorters employed at the General Post Office have been discharged after seven and a half years' service; whether these men have or are asking for a gratuity on compassionate grounds or under Service Rule 167; whether, seeing that these men rendered efficient services during the War, with financial gain to the State, less sickness allowances, increments, and privileges as granted to the regular staff; and, in view of the present state of the labour market and their pressing economic needs, will he consider the re-engagement of these men to eliminate the present excessive overtime now being performed by the regular staff, or give immediate consideration to the granting of a compassionate allowance to those temporary servants?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 29th May to a similar question by the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. Will Thorne).


asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of sugar imported in the years 1902, 1914, and 1921, respectively, and the quantity refined in this country in each of these three years?

The total quantities of sugar imported into the United Kingdom in the years specified were as follow:

The quantities of unrefined sugar delivered for refining in bonded factories were:


As the system of bonded refineries had not been established in 1902, corresponding figures for that year are not available. I may, however, state that., in 1904—the first complete calendar year during which the system was in operation—the quantity so delivered was approximately 12,500,000 cwts, the total imports of sugar in that year having been 32,289,000 cwts.

Concessions Palestine (Mr Rutenberg)

asked the. Secretary of State for the Colonies by what authority the High Commissioner for Palestine granted a concession for important public works in Palestine to Mr. Rutenberg; what efforts or inquiries were made by the High Commissioner to discover British engineers who could command the capital necessary to carry through the work in contemplation; what are the names of the capitalists in the United States who are finding the necessary capital for Mr. Rutenberg; and is the High Commissioner empowered to grant concessions to foreigners without consultation with His Majesty's Government?

As regards the first and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the full statement made in reply to a question by the hon. Baronet, Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), on the 7th November last. As was then explained, Mr. Rutenberg has not yet received the concession referred to; but an agreement was concluded with him in September, 1921, under which, provided he succeeds in forming a limited liability company with adequate capital within a period of two years from that date, the concession will be granted to the said company on application. This agreement was concluded under the authority of His Majesty's Government. No such company has yet been formed, and I am consequently unable to give any information as to the source from which the capital is to be provided. With regard to the last part of the question, the High Commissioner is not empowered under present conditions to grant concessions of any kind without the prior approval of His Majesty's Government.

Friendly Societies' Returns (Fee)

asked the Home Secretary whether any final decision has been arrived at with reference to the suggested imposition of a fee of 10s. for the annual return made by friendly societies to the Chief Registrar?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for the Frome Division of Somerset (Mr. Hurd).

Spring Register Of Electors

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that the spring register of electors only comes into operation on 15th April, just after the spring local government elections are over, he will take steps for this register to be prepared and made operative for use at such elections?

The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that the change suggested would involve consequential changes in the qualifying periods and in all other dates for both registers in the year, and that, if his suggestion applies to the county council elections, the changes would need to be substantial. The question of framing a scheme of registration dates which would meet the object indicated in the question has been frequently considered; but no alternative has been found which is not open to greater objections than the present scheme.

Surplus Government Optical Field Classes

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the number of optical field glasses disposed of by the Disposals Board during the years 1920 and 1921, and the approximate average price per piece obtained?

The preparation of the statement required by the hon. Member would involve considerable clerical labour which, with the depleted staffs now available, I regret I am not in a position to undertake.

Government Offices (Unstamped Letters)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total amount of the postage surcharges of the various public offices on the unstamped letters they receive wrongly marked O.H.M.S.?

I regret that I am not in possession of the information sought by my right hon. Friend.

Housing, Scotland

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that great uneasiness is felt in the districts of Crawford and Abington by reason of recent demands on tenants to purchase houses at prices far above what they can afford under the present conditions of trade and employment; if any alternative accommodation is available in these areas; and what is the attitude of the Scottish Board of Health towards the renewal of the Rent Restriction Acts?

I have no information as regards the first two parts of the question. As to the last part, I cannot add anything to the reply given on the 24th May by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to the hon. Member for Heywood and Radcliffe (Mr. Halls).

Domestic Service (Juveniles)

asked the Minister of Labour whether, as advisory committees on juvenile employment are statutory bodies, appointed and maintained financially by the Ministry of Labour and working under the Labour Exchanges Act, 1909, which forbids any responsibility with regard to wages or other conditions beyond supplying information as to the rate of wages desired or offered, he will cause theultra vires circular issued by the Central Advisory Committee on Juvenile Employment, laying down conditions of employment and rates of pay in private domestic service, to be withdrawn?

May I again make it clear to my hon. and gallant Friend that the class of employé here concerned is not the adult domestic servant, but the young girl under 18? When the Labour Exchanges Act was before Parliament in 1909 it was contemplated that, in dealing with juvenile applicants for employment, Exchanges would be guided and assisted by juvenile employment committees; and in February, 1910, as a result of consultation between the President of the Board of Trade (then responsible for Employment Exchanges) and the President of the Board of Education, special rules with regard to juvenile applicants were framed. The circular referred to was issued under the authority given by these special rules. Undoubtedly, however, the compulsory Unemployment Insurance Act—benefit under which may depend upon whether a young person has reasonably refused an offer of employment—creates a new set of circumstances, in consequence of which the circular may have results not originally intended. I propose, therefore, to discuss the whole matter with the London Central Juvenile Advisory Committee at an early date.

Employment Exchanges

asked the Minister of Labour the average total cost per week of the Westminster Employment Exchange, men's and women's departments separately, and of the Great Marlborough Street Employment Exchange?

The staff at Employment Exchanges depends so largely on the volume of unemployment that it is not possible to give a reliable average figure of cost. For the Exchanges mentioned the present weekly cost of staff and premises, which it should be noted covers a very high level of unemployment, are, approximately, as follow:

Westminster—Men's Department140
Westminster Women's Department52
Great Marlborough Street112
About 25 per cent. should be added to these figures for headquarters and other common expenses.

Timber (Railway Rates)

asked the. Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, since the cost of labour and the cost of coal are at present the principal components of railway rates, and since both these items have been materially reduced from the highest level where they stood when the railway rates for wood manufactured in this country were increased, in the case of homegrown timber railway rates form from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. of their cost to purchasers, he will make representations to the railway companies with a view to reducing such rates and encouraging home trade?

I have been in communication with the railway companies on this matter. I am informed that they are unable at present to see their way to make any reduction in the rates in England and Wales. In these circumstances, the traders can, if they desire, submit their complaint to the Rates Tribunal.

Compensation For Subsidences

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the existing law with regard to mining subsidence operates harshly against the general public; whether the Government intends re-introducing the Compensation for Subsidence Bill with a view to its early passage into law; and if he will take action in the matter?

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. G. Barker) on 12th April last.