Binoculars And Opera Glasses
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the considerable loss to trade, especially that of re-export, in low-priced binoculars and opera glasses since the introduction of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which has imposed a duty of 33⅓ per cont. on such imported articles and, seeing that these low-priced articles are not manufactured in Great Britain, although the Safeguarding of Industries Act was passed into Law nearly a year ago, is he prepared to consider the advisability of bringing in an amending Bill to remove from the list of dutiable commodities such articles which were not made in Great Britain previous to the Safeguarding of Industries Act and have not been made since?
My attention has not been called to any trade effects of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member, and, in view of the provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, I am unable to agree that the Act is responsible for any falling-off which there may have been in re-exports of this particular kind. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative; and in this connection I would remind the hon. Member of the Amendment which I moved during the Committee stage of the Bill on the 20th July of last year, but which was not accepted by the House.
If I supply the right hon. Gentleman with information, will he have investigation made so as to prevent any unnecessary loss of trade to this country?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a duty of 33⅓ per cent. is being levied upon imported gas mantles, or parts thereof, under Part 1 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, as ordered by the referee; and, if nut., whether he will state why the finding of the referee has not been acted upon?
Duty is being levied upon certain ingredients of gas mantles, in accordance with the decision of the referee.
Research Apparatus And Chemicals
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the statement by Sir J. J. Thomson, O.M., F.R.S., in his recent presidential address to the Institute of Physics, to the effect that the Safeguarding of Industries Act had increased the difficulties of research in this country; that he had lost more time since the War by the use of imperfect materials than in the previous 40 years he had been working; that over and over again apparatus which had taken a fortnight or three weeks to construct had cracked during the next night with the result that the whole thing had to be repeated; and whether he will consider Sir J. J. Thomson's suggestion that a system of licences under the Act for research institutions should be set up?
I have not seen the precise statement quoted by the hon. and gallant Member, but I am aware of Sir J. J. Thomson's general attitude on this matter, and that he did refer to difficulties alleged to he caused by the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I would point out, however, that the inferiority of apparatus and materials cannot be ascribed to that Act, since there is no prohibition of importation and the duty is not of sufficient magnitude to deter an investigator from obtaining foreign goods if their quality is appreciably higher than that of the domestic products; and I may add that there is conclusive evidence that Germany is far from maintaining her pre-War standard of quality. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to a statement by the director of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, that certain organic chemicals obtained from British firms in this country have been found impure and useless for research and experiment; and whether he can take steps to secure to such scientific institutions the necessary materials with which to carry on their work?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the secretary of the Royal Holloway College states that, as a result of the passing of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, practically all research is greatly hindered by the necessity of preparing compounds which formerly one could buy, and that at the present time research students at the college spend from one-third to one-half of their time in preparing compounds which formerly could be bought; and whether the Government can do anything to assist those students in this matter?
I am aware that statements of the kind quoted have been made. I would point out that imports are not prohibited, and I suggest that it would be a useful course for research workers and others concerned to place themselves in direct communication with the British makers of fine chemicals, who will, I am confident, welcome any detailed criticism and co-operation in the development of the British industry, to their mutual advantage.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they have put themselves in direct communication with British makers? Does he not think that the use, of these articles is rendered prohibitive by the increase in prices, and does that not prevent research being carried out in a proper way in this country?
These men have no time to go to the laboratories to tell them how proper materials can be got from Germany. Is not the present arrangement hampering research?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the chemistry department of the University College, Dundee, has stated that the Safeguarding of Industries Act has put an additional tax on the department, particularly in the provision of materials for research; that research work is undoubtedly hampered by the Act; that they have had to abandon certain work which they would have undertaken had the cost of materials been less; and whether he will consider raising the public grants to such institutions by the amount of the tax imposed on them by the Act;
I have not seen the statement to which the hon. Member refers. I doubt, however, if the increased cost of research can be properly ascribed except to a very limited extent to the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act in view of the great increase in cost of all kinds in recent years, and I hope that the stimulus given by the Act to scientific work in industry in this country will more than off-set any disadvantages. The distribution of Exchequer grants to universities and colleges is made after a very careful consideration of their individual needs, and I cannot undertake to direct a specific increase as suggested in the question.
As the President of the Board of Trade told the House that it was the right hon. Gentleman who "left this foundling upon his doorstep," does he not feel morally bound to compensate for the harm he has done?
I am afraid that is a matter of controversy.
asked the President of the. Board of Trade why, since under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, Section 2 (1) (a), it is not possible for an Order to be made imposing a duty on glass bottles imported from Holland so long as the existing commercial treaty between Great Britain and Holland remains in force, he has referred to a commit lee of inquiry a complaint and application in this conection?
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. As I stated, in answer to the hon. Member for Whitechapel on the 29th May, the Treaty of 1837 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands would prevent the imposition of a duty on Dutch goods under Section 2 (1) (b) of the Safeguarding, of industries Act., but not of a duty under Section 2 (1) (a) of that Act, to which the application now before the Committee relates, so far as imports from the Netherlands are concerned.
British Dyestuffs Corporation
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that negotiations are in progress for a working arrangement regarding production, distribution, and prices between the British Dyestuffs Corporation and the principal dyemakers in Germany; and whether the Government have expressed their approval or disapproval of such a working agreement?
I am aware that certain discussions have taken place between the interests mentioned by the hon. Member. The views of His Majesty's Government must obviously depend upon the terms of the agreement, if and when one is reached, but I understand that the discussions have so far been only of a preliminary and non-committal character.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether Mr. Vernon Clay has resigned his directorship or managership of the British Dyestuffs Corporation; if so, whether he can state the reason for Mr. Clay's action; whether several of the principal technical experts have recently left the service of the corporation; and whether, in view of the further fact that Dr. Levenstein has also resigned his directorship on the ground that, from absence of practical technical direction, the corporation was failing to achieve its object, he will appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject?
Changes in the directorate or staff of the British Dyestuffs Corporation are not required to be reported to the Board of Trade, but I understand that Mr. Vernon Clay has not resigned his directorship. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Stafford on 29th May.
Has Mr. Clay resigned any appointment he holds in connection with this organisation?
I am not aware of that.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what have been the values of imports and exports from the United Kingdom to and from Russia for the first five months of this year; and briefly what are the principal goods imported and exported and how the figures compare with the like period of 1921?
As the answer is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, have it circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
Particulars of the trade between the United Kingdom and Russia for the periods specified in the question are not available. For the first three months, however, of 1922 and of 1921 the aggregate value of the merchandise imported to or exported from the United Kingdom, which was registered as consigned from or to Russia, was as follows:
|—||3 months ended 31st March, 1922.||3 months ended 31st March, 1921.|
|United Kingdom Produce and Manufactures.||713,590||42,569|
|Foreign and Colonial Merchandise.||123,197||13,984|
The imports for the first three months of the current year included not less than £208,000 in respect of timber, compared with £17,000 in the corresponding period of 1921, and the exports of United Kingdom goods in January-March, 1922, included £57,000 in respect, of jute sacks, £53,000 in respect of coal, and £16,000 in respect of textile machinery, compared with nothing in the like period of 1921.
Owing to the fact that the separation of imports and exports from and to Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from those from and to Russia was only carried out as from 1st January, 1921, the figures for the first quarter of 1921 unavoidably include as imports from or exports to Russia some trade which, had the change been made earlier, would have been registered as from or to one or more of the other States named above.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information that, as a result of the Pact of Peace at Genoa, there has been either a partial or complete demobilisation of the forces of the Russian Soviet Government?
As the forces of the Russian Soviet Government were not mobilised, the question does not arise.
Did not the Prime Minister urge, as one of the reasons for not taking action quite recently on a certain event, that there were great forces massed on the frontier, the House of Commons being ignorant of that fact? Were those forces there?
That is a different question. This is a question of mobilisation.
There must be mobilisation before there can be demobilisation.
Then there never was any mobilisation?
There was no mobilisation of forces, because that would mean five millions, but there were forces on that frontier.
Have any of the forces that were on the frontier, known to the Prime Minister, been demobilised?
It is not a question of demobilisation.
Have they been removed?
That is another question. If the hon. Gentleman will put that down, I will answer it.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received the terms of the commercial accord concluded between the Italian Government and the Soviet Government of Russia; whether the terms can be laid upon the Table; what progress has been made in the commercial negotiations between the Soviet Government and the Governments of Norway and Czecho-Slovakia, respectively; and whether the Soviet Government is negotiating agreements with any other Governments?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the second part, therefore, does not arise. A draft commercial agreement between the Soviet Government and the Czecho-Slovak Government has, I understand, been initialled, but I have not received a copy of it I have no information about negotiations for commercial agreements between the Soviet Government and the Norwegian or other foreign Governments.
Japanese Troops, Siberia
asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that an official Russian Government organ published a statement on 24th May to the effect that the remnants of Semenoff's Army are arriving in Vladivostok with the aid of the Japanese; whether, in view of the uneasiness which this development will cause to the Russian Government., His Majesty's Government will make representations to Japan to withdraw her troops from Siberia; and whether His Majesty's Government regards the action of the Japanese Government as a violation of the pledge given both at the Washington and Genoa Conference?
I have not seen the statement referred to by my right hon. Friend, nor have I any information to show that the Japanese Government are introducing remnants of General Semenoff's Army into Vladivostok. The remainder of the question, therefore, does not arise.
Railway Construction (Torrington And Portmadoc)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport what is the nature of the industries served by the railways now in course of construction between Torrington and Halwill, and between Portmadoc and Dinas; the respective length of these lines; and the estimated amount of the Government's contribution to each?
The line from Torrington to Halwill will be about 20¼ miles in length, and will mainly serve the china clay industry and agriculture. The line from Portmadoc to Dinas will he about 25 miles in length, of which 12½, miles are already constructed, and will mainly serve the slate industry and agriculture. In each case the Government contribution is based upon half the estimated costs of construction, subject to the maximum amounts of £125,000 and £37,500 respectively.
Suburban Railways (Electrification)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, seeing that the Government have undertaken to guarantee capital expenditure of six and a half millions by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies for the electrification of their suburban lines; that it is a condition of the guarantee that the work shall be started at an early date and be carried out within three years, and that the generation of the necessary power shall be done at cost price; that the formal application of the railways to the Electricity Commissioners for consent to erect a generating station for the working of the lines is opposed by the West Kent Company; that this company are themselves promoting a scheme for putting up a station at Erith, and are pressing to have the railway load in order to improve the financial position of what is in the nature of a speculative enterprise; that practically all the shares in the West Kent Company are owned by the South Metropolitan Company, who have recently joined a large group of London electricity supply companies; that the opposition of the West Kent Company, if successful, is likely to delay the electrification of these railway lines, and to increase the cost of power supply for the working of the lines; that any uncertainty of supply or inflated cost will have to be borne by the railway passengers; and that the erection of a non-purchaseable capital station at Erith will seriously affect the purchase rights of the London County Council, he will state whether the Advisory Committee under the Trade Facilities Act were aware, when they came to the agreement to assist the railway companies, that the consent of the Commissioners would be necessary for putting up the station; and whether there was any consultation between the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport on the subject?
The answer to both parts of the question is in the affirmative. I must not, however, be taken to concur in all the statements of the preamble, many of which are matters for argument.
Is there any hope, in view of the large amount of unemployment in the area, that consent will be given at an early date?
That is not the question I am asked.
I think it is.
asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of trawlers and other fishing vessels laid up in British ports, exclusive of those undergoing refit and repairs?
In round figures, the number of vessels laid up, otherwise than for refit or repairs, at the principal ports in Great Britain on the 10th instant was: 345 steam trawlers and steam liners, 70 motor trawlers, 4 sailing trawlers, and 468 steam and motor drifters. I shall be happy to give my hon. Friend details if he requires them.
Agriculture (Government Policy)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government have decided to substitute the protection of cattle breeding for the subsidising of corn growing as their agricultural policy?
The answer is in the negative. The policy of the Govern- ment is not one of protection or of subsidies. In view of the varied conditions of soil and climate in this country it is considered best to leave to the occupiers of land full discretion to use their land for whatever purpose is in their opinion the most profitable.
Does that same policy apply to the production of sugar beet?
That is quite a different matter.
That question does not arise here. This is a question of cattle and corn.
Electric Lighting Companies (Charges)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that the electric lighting companies have increased their charges since 1914 in some cases by as much as 60 per cent., partly to keep up the dividends of their shareholders, and now only propose a reduction of 5 per cent., in spite of the fall in the price of material, he will appoint an expert Committee to go into the question of the costs and staffing of the companies in the interests of the general public?
I have been asked to reply. The increases in the maximum charges authorised to be made by electricity authorities, to which my Noble Friend refers, have sometimes been made under the terms of their Provisional Orders incorporating Section 32 of the Schedule of the Electric Lighting Clauses Act, 1899, but in a majority of cases under the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act, 1918, and in each case after the Minister has considered a Report by the Electricity Commissioners. Under these circumstances, I do not think that the appointment of a Committee would be useful. I shall be glad to look into any particular case to which the Noble Lord calls my attention.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the view is that the Ministry must have authorised increased charges, not merely of 60 per cent., but of as much as 120 per cent. in some cases?
I cannot deal with the general question, but if the Noble Lord will draw my attention to particular figures, I will consider them.
Is it not the fact that, while the cost of living during the War period rose 176 per cent. above pre-War figures, the cost. of electricity rose only 50 per cent.?
I cannot go into the figures, but under the Temporary Increase of Charges Act, no increase can be authorised which would secure a dividend larger than three-fourths of the pre-War dividend.
Canadian Cattle Embargo
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the finding of the Royal Commission on the Importation of Store Cattle that any imports of store cattle from Canada would not represent a net addition to home supplies, he can state what number of cattle Canada has guaranteed to supply annually, in the event of the repeal of the so-called embargo, in order to make good the deficiency that would be caused in home production, and for how many years such guarantee would hold good?
The Canadian Government has given no guarantee as to the number of store cattle that could he sent to this country from Canada. On the contrary, Dr. Tolmie, who was at that time Minister of Agriculture for the Dominion of Canada, stated in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the Importation of Store Cattle that Canadians would cease to send cattle here if there was a better market in the United States.
Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been directed to Conclusion No. 6 of the Royal Commission, which is entirely opposed to the suggestion made in this question.?
Yes, Sir; my attention has been directed very often to all the conclusions.
Is it the desire of the Government to keep this trade in America?
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the date on which the discussion on the Canadian cattle embargo will be taken?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he can now announce the date fixed for the discussion of the Canadian cattle embargo question?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is in a position to state when it is proposed to proceed with the discussion of the Canadian cattle embargo question?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he can now give a definite date when a discussion may take place on the removal of the embargo on Canadian store cattle?
I will endeavour to find an occasion between the Committee and Report stages of the Finance Bill.
Alexandra Park (Government Occupation)
asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, what is the reason for the delay in the settlement of the claim which the Alexandra Park trustees formulated in 1919 in respect of the War-time occupation of this public property by the Government; and when the matter will be closed, so that the palace may be restored to the public use?
As the answer to this question is of considerable length, I propose, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The answer is as follows:
I am not aware that any formal claim in respect of reinstatement was put forward by the Alexandra Palace trustees in 1919. When the War Office vacated the premises in that year, a schedule of dilapidations was drawn up, but as the Office of Works had in the meantime taken possession of the building, it was agreed to defer consideration of the question until their occupation should have ceased. The palace was vacated in portions on various dates, starting on the 30th July, 1921, and ending the first week in February of this year. The claim for reinstatement was made on the 18th October, 1921, and advances totalling £11,000 were made on the 21st October and the 2nd February last. These advances were made with the object of enabling the trustees to proceed at once with the reinstatement of their property, but I gather from the report of their last annual meeting that of this amount £9,000 still remains on deposit with their bankers. The larger part of the claim, which is a very extensive and complicated one, has been agreed in principle, but there are still some items on which it has not yet been possible to reach agreement.
asked the Minister of Labour the present policy of the Government on the question of unemployment whether he is aware that 90,000 children over 16 are idle; and what steps are contemplated to deal with this continual deterioration of character during the critical period of adolescence?
The policy of the Government on the question of unemployment has been fully stated and discussed on several occasions during the present Session. The number of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 registered as unemployed on the 22nd May was 83,807. A number of those over 16 years of age are drawing unemployment benefit, but in the main we must look to a revival of trade for a solution of this problem.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, if that he the only step that is contemplated by the Government, this is an extremely dangerous state of affairs to allow to go on without any improvement, because from 14 to 18, the period of adolescence, is the most critical period in the formation of character?
As I have already indicated, a large number—I think the majority—of these people over the age of 16 are receiving benefit as the result of arrangements made under the Act.
May I respectfully repeat that the question is not one of benefit, but one of children at a very critical period—
The hon. Member is giving his own opinion, and not asking a question.
On a point of Order. May I respectfully point out that my question asks what steps are contemplated for dealing with the question of children during the critical period of adolescence, and that the hon. Gentleman replies that it is merely a question of benefit, which, I submit, is not meeting the problem?
The answer is not satisfactory to the hon. Member.
asked the Minister of Labour the total number of men and women unemployed for the last week for which returns are available, and the amount paid in benefit?
On the 29th May there were on the live registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain 1,204,300 men and 188,200 women, compared with 1,293,575 men and 231,724 women on 1st May. Some part of this decrease, though probably not a large part, arises from the temporary exhaustion of benefit. The total amount paid in unemployment benefit during the week ended the 27th May was about £690,000.
Capital Export, Germany
asked the Prime Minister what reply the German Government has made to the demand of the Reparation Commission of 21st March, that it should produce a scheme to prevent the undue export of capital from Germany and to secure the return of capital already exported; and whether His Majesty's Government will refuse its assent to any postponement of payments by Germany until such a scheme is produced?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the Note addressed by the German Government on the 28th May to the Reparation Commission, and to the Reparation Commission's reply, dated 31st May, both of which have been published in the Press. My hon. Friend will have observed that the German Government states that it attaches very special importance to the return of exported capital, and is prepared to discuss in detail with the Committee of Guarantees the steps to be taken against the flight of capital, and, on the basis of such discussion, to adopt any measures that may be deemed useful for the purpose. The German Government will, before 30th June, 1922, submit to the Reparation Commission a programme setting forth the measures referred to above.
asked the Prime Minister whether the French Government are in any way pledged not to take extended sanctions in the Ruhr or at Frankfort without first consulting or getting the consent of the Allied and/or Associated Powers; and whether, if the Germans do not meet their liabilities, the French after giving a fortnight's interval intend to advance into the Ruhr on 15th June?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made by the Leader of the House in reply to a question put to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Central thin (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 18th May. In view of the recent Notes exchanged between the German Government and the Reparation Commission, the second part of the question does not at the moment arise.
Are we to understand that the statement made by the Leader of the House still holds the field, in spite of the statement to a different effect made in Paris?
I am not aware of any statement made in Paris, but the statement made by the Leader of the House certainly represents the view of His Majesty's Government.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay upon the Table the instructions given to the British representatives on the Reparation Commission of the Paris Conference; and, if there were no instructions, whether he will lay upon the Table the official reports of the speeches of the British representatives on that Commission?
No written instructions were given to the British representatives on the Commission referred to, and no official reports exist of the speeches made by the members of the Commission during the course of their deliberations. Accordingly neither part of the question arises.
Will the right hon. Gentleman lay upon the Table the decisions of the various Committees—whether British, inter-Allied, or French Committees—appointed to report upon the question of reparation, because the House has had no chance of seeing them?
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman requires to put a question on the Paper. It does not arise out of the question which has been asked.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the terms of the agreement reached as to German reparation, and how far they modify the terms of the London agreement of last year?
The German Government's Note of 28th May and the Reparation Commission's reply of 31st May were published in the Press. Under the Schedule of Payments dated 6th May, 1921, Germany was required, in addition to meeting the costs of occupation, to pay in respect of reparation a fixed annuity of two milliard gold marks and a variable annuity equivalent to 26 per cent. of German exports. By the Note of 31st May Germany is required to pay during 1922, in respect of reparation and of the costs of occupation 720 million gold marks in cash and to make deliveries in kind up to the value of 1,450 million gold marks. The remainder of Germany's obligations under the Schedule of Payments in respect of the year 1922 are postponed, subject to the conditions laid down by the Reparation Commission.
Is there any truth in the report in this morning's papers that the German Government has declared, in view of the failure of the bankers to find an international loan, that they do not regard themselves as bound by any of their undertakings?
I have no information at all to that effect.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay upon the Table the Reports of the Cunliffe Committee of 1918 on Reparation and of the Treasury Committee on the same subject?
There was no Treasury Committee on Reparation and this part of the question therefore does not arise. As regards the remainder of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to a question on the same subject asked by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh on the 13th February last, of which I am sending him a copy.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the amount payable by Germany, under the London agreement, up to and including 31st May; and what amount has actually been paid?
I am informed that the total amount which would have been payable by Germany for the period 1st May, 1921, up to 30th April, 1922, under the Schedule of Payments of 5th May, 1921, had the operation of that Schedule not been modified by the Reparation Commission, would have been approximately 2,670 million gold marks; and that the total amount actually paid by Germany during the same period was 1,878 million gold marks. The former figure is, however, exclusive of Germany's liability for costs of Armies of Occupation, whereas the latter includes 213 million gold marks applied towards meeting such costs.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the effect of the Genoa Pact of Peace on the disarmament discussions of the League of Nations?
So far as I can see, any agreement having for it objects the preservation of peace in Europe or elsewhere cannot but have a favourable effect upon the efforts of the League of Nations to secure a universal reduction of armaments.
Greece And Turkey
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the manifesto issued by the Turkish Congress at Lausanne setting out the claims of the Turkish nation and alleging Greek atrocities on Turkish populations, and in view of the repeated charges of cruelty made against the Turkish Government by the American relief organisations in Pontus and Anatolia, he can now reconsider his decision not to publish the Report of the Inter-Allied Commission on Creek atrocities, having regard to the great and long-continued interest taken by the people of this country in Near-Eastern relations?
In the answer which I gave on 22nd March, 1920. I fully explained the reasons why the Allied Governments thought it undesirable to publish this Report, and I have nothing to add to that explanation.
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made in arranging peace between Turkey and Greece?
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the negotiations to bring about peace between Greece and Turkey; and what is the present position of the negotiations?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave to the hon. Members for the Wrekin (Sir C. Townshend), for Yeovil (Mr. Aubrey Herbert), and for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on 25th May. Since that date, His Majesty's Government have continued to make every effort to bring about an early peace, but the difficulty of this task has been much increased by the continued refusal of the Grand National Assembly of Angora to accept the proposals put forward in Paris for an armistice and for a general settlement.
Germany And Russia
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has now any information as to the alleged military alliance or convention between Germany and Russia?
Both the German and Russian Governments have categorically denied the existence of any such convention.
Foreign States (Military Preparations)
asked the Prime Minister which Department of the Government is charged with the duty of ascertaining the facts as to the military preparations of foreign States and any reciprocal agreements into which such States may enter; whether this duty is discharged by the Foreign Office, the War Office, or the Cabinet secretariat; and whether, when the responsible Department receives any information, that information is made available to the Cabinet?
The War Office deals with military intelligence regarding foreign Powers and the Foreign Office is responsible so far as agreements are concerned. All information in the possession of these Departments is at the disposal of His Majesty's Government as required, and, if deemed of sufficient importance, would be brought before the Cabinet.
Austria (Financial Re-Organisation)
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the financial re-organisation of Austria?
The Austrian Government have taken steps to obtain a considerable increase of revenue by the revision of taxation, and are proposing various measures for the reduction of expenditure by the dismissal of superfluous personnel and the reorganisation of State industrial concerns. The following interim loans have been promised to Austria, in order to enable her to tide over the period before she has at her disposal the market credits, at present under the consideration of financial houses in London and New York:
Great Britain, £2,250,000.
Czecho-Slovakia, 500,000,000 Czech crowns.
France 55,000,000 francs.
Italy, about 70,000,000 lire.
The British credit was advanced in February last, and made it possible to arrest the fall in the value of the kroner for a considerable period. I understand that the French and Italian credits are not yet available.
Are we to understand that we are the only country so far that has lent money to Vienna, and that the other countries have not implemented their bargain?
What is the security against this loan?
There are certain securities in the shape of Austrian possessions, of which my hon. Friend knows, because he asked me a question before—certain art treasures and others. With regard to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), I understand that the offer of help has not been fully implemented by other Powers to the same extent as by this country.
If the principle and interest are not paid, are you going to take the property?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the state of the negotiations for what he called, I think, the "market advance"?
I have not spoken of any market advance.
I understood that there was a temporary loan—I may have misheard the answer—of £2,000,000, and other promises, in order to give time for the permanent advance to be made.
There is no question of negotiations in the matter. The loan has been granted, and Austria has been dealing with it.
Has the money been spent?
Have the Governmen taken any steps to try to secure freer trade between Austria and the neighbouring countries?
We are constantly exercising every possible pressure in that direction.
Is this money raised by loan, and guaranteed by the Government?
It was part of an amount the House of Commons voted for the aid of Austria—the last amount which has been advanced.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say this loan was granted by the British Government as a temporary measure in order to tide over the period intervening before a permanent advance could be made—a market advance. What is the condition of the negotiations as to that permanent advance?
I thought the Noble Lord had taken a very considerable interest in the matter, and I do not understand his misapprehension. The loan we have granted is a loan, not with a view to a permanent advance by someone else, but a loan by the British Government to Austria as against certain securities. It may be hoped that in the future, when Austria becomes better established again, she will be able to realise advances for herself from the market.
Is it not a fact that this loan was made pending a settlement by America which should empower Austria to pledge her Customs and other property in order to secure a general international loan? Has there been any progress made in the direction of getting that general loan properly secured, and, if not, what is our security at present, and how much longer are we going to go on with tapestries as a security?
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked me a very long series of questions by way of supplementaries. I will answer to the best of my power. Undoubtedly the position of Austria became acute because of the fact that she was not able to get rid of the lien which existed over the whole*of her securities, and, taking special consideration of that fact, we agreed to make an advance which otherwise we should not have promised to make at all. We gave that advance because of the difficulty in which she then found herself, and because of her inability to get herself right. It was accordingly, pending the possibility of her obtaining such relief, that we gave that loan. It was because of the condition in which she found herself. It was not in any sense contingent upon her finding relief otherwise. Up to the present she has not been able to be put in a position in which she could get rid of the lien on her assets. Sufficient advance has not been made with that, question in America.
Is there any time limit in respect to loans promised by other Powers?
I do not think there is any time limit attached.
We must not enter upon a Debate.
Poland And Rumania (Troops, Eastern Frontiers)
asked the Prime Minister whether the Governments of Poland and Rumania have been able to withdraw or diminish their troops on their eastern frontiers by reason of the pact of peace made at Genoa?
I have no information as to any such reduction or withdrawal.
Civil Service Board Of Arbitration
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is now in a position to state the decision of the Government as to the retention or reintroduction of the Civil Service Board of Arbitration set up as a result of the Report of the Whitley Commission?
I beg to refer to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith on the 24th May, to which I have nothing to add.
Trade Facilities Act (London Tube Railways)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he can now state the terms of the loan granted to the underground railways of London under the Trade Facilities Act for the purpose of extending and improving some of the tube railways of London; whether any conditions have been made for a sinking fund in order to repay the capital; and whether any condition has been made as to the number of men to be employed and as to the date when the work shall be commenced?
There is no question of a capital advance by His Majesty's Government to the London Underground Railway Company. The Treasury has agreed to guarantee principle and interest of issues of debentures to be made by the London Electric Railway Company and the City and South London Railway Company up to a combined total of £6,000,000. The terms of the issues will be subject to the approval of the Treasury and are not yet finally determined. No condition has been imposed as to a sinking fund, but the company in the Bill now before the House are seeking power to create a fund for redemption purposes. No specific conditions have been made as to the number of men to be employed, but it has been stipulated that work shall be started as soon as possible, and, in fact, the inauguration of the Edgware extension takes place, I understand, to-day.
Will the same facilities he given to local authorities who are owners of their own municipal tramways?
I do not think that arises. This is a special case. If the hon. Member will put a question down, I will answer it.
Housing (Government Policy)
asked the Minister of Health what is the present policy of the Government regarding the housing shortage; what is the normal rate of building required yearly; and how many houses have been built yearly since the Armistice by local, urban, county, or district authorities, and how many have been built by private enterprise since the cancellation of the Government subsidy?
As regards the first, and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the replies which I gave on the 24th May and 20th March last, copies of which I am sending to him. The number of houses completed yearly since the Armistice by local authorities and public utility societies is as follows:
|1922 (to 1st May)||…||…||30,135|
and in addition 33,308 houses had been completed up to 31st May by private builders under the Government subsidy. Information is not available as to the number of houses built or building by private enterprise outside the Government subsidy, but I may point out that subsidy to private builders continues to be payable in respect of qualified houses completed by the 23rd instant.
Will the right hon. Baronet answer the second part of the question. What is the normal rate of building required yearly?
I think the hon. Member will find that is covered in the answer.
Northern Ireland (Republican Army Raids)
asked the Prime Minister whether any portion of Northern Ireland is now in the occupation of the Irish Republican Army; and what action is being taken by the Government?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the second part does not arise.
Free State Constitution Bill
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House an assurance that the amendment by the House of the terms and conditions contained in the Free State Constitution Bill, on which public servants in Ireland will retire or be discharged and pensioned, will not of itself involve the rejection of the Bill?
I regret that the hon. and learned Member should be dissatisfied with the replies which have already been given to this question; but it must be obvious to the House that, it is impossible to give a categorical reply as to the effect of a hypothetical Amendment to a hypothetical provision in the Constitution or in the Bill for ratifying the Constitution. No reply, other than what has already been stated, can be given to the hon. and learned Member's question except upon a consideration both of the provision to be amended and of the Amendment proposed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he has been asked several times for a definite answer to a definite, question, whether this House will have an opportunity of considering, and, if necessary, amending the terms and conditions referred to in this question, on the Free State Constitution Bill, or upon any other occasion?
As I have repeatedly said, nothing can possibly fetter the entire power and discretion of the House to act as it may think fit in regard to any Measure or legislation brought before it. The question is what advice the Government will tender to the House, and the view the House will take of that advice.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question on the Paper? If the House decides on consideration of the Free State Constitution Pill to amend these terms and conditions, will that, of itself, destroy the Bill?
How can I forecast what the, consequences will be of a hypothetical Amendment to a Bill which has not yet been introduced?
Does the right, hon. Gentleman recollect that in the case of the Treaty Bill, when it was before the House, the House was told that they could either take the Bill or leave it? Will the same procedure be followed in the case of the Bill to confirm the Constitution?
In the case of the Treaty Bill the Government took the view that it was vital to their position that the Treaty provisions should be given effect to without Amendment. As to whether the Government will take that view in connection with the forthcoming legislation, I cannot, at this juncture, say. At any rate, some considerable interval will elapse before it is brought before the House.
Is it not a fact that, during the discussion on the Treaty Bill it was said that the greatest latitude would be left to the House to amend the Bill dealing with the Constitution?
I could not have made such a suggestion as that. Clearly, if a definite agreement has been reached on both sides, that agreement cannot be altered here without involving a consequential alteration on the other side, and the House, before taking such a step, will have to weigh very carefully, with the perfect power to which I have referred, the consequences of such step.
Is it not clear, from the right hon. Gentleman's last answer, that the Government is going to make an agreement without consulting this House?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are literally hundreds of questions which it is impossible for the Government or the representatives of the Free State Government to have discussed during the last few days which must arise on this Bill and which are of the greatest importance to the Northern Government? Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot make a statement that we shall be allowed to discuss these questions and, if necessary, amend the Bill?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say why an agreement between two parties in the South of Ireland should not be as binding as an agreement between the Northern Government and this Government in their desire to conquer a portion of the population in the North-East corner of Ulster?
This is not a question of any agreement between parties in the South of Ireland, but a question of how this House and how the Government responsible to this House should discharge their duties in safeguarding certain important interests in Ireland in the process of transferring the powers of government,. I would ask not to be called upon at this stage to define the attitude which the Government will adopt when the final Bill is brought before the House. It may well be that there are classes of subjects contained in the Bill which it would be very proper for the House to deal with without impinging upon the main structure of the Bill or of the agreement between the two parties. I cannot say at this stage. At any rate, a considerable number of weeks, possibly months, will intervene before the stage is reached when the House will be asked to consider this Measure and when the questions which hon. Members have in view will have to be thrashed out in detail.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the rights of this House are safeguarded?
It will be for the House to consider whether or not it will take any advice given by the Government.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement as to the present situation in Ireland?
I had hoped that it would be possible to make a short further statement to the House this afternoon, with the permission of the House, but I think that it would be more convenient in the general interest if I defer that statement until to-morrow, or, perhaps, until Thursday. I hope by Thursday to be in a position to make a brief statement.
Local Authorities, London (Expenditure)
asked the Minister of Health what is the amount of money expended on unemployment relief works, and on maternity and child welfare and sanitary services, by each city and borough council in the administrative county of London, in respect of the several years covered by the Ministry of Health Return of 10th November, 1921, on London Local Authorities (Expenditure); whether the amounts given in the said Return as total expenditure for each local authority take into account amounts received or paid as equalisation grants or payments under the Act of 1894; whether salaries and wages, or other expenditure, in respect of revenue-producing undertakings, e.g., electricity, is included in the amounts stated in the said Return, and in what way have surpluses or deficits in connection with revenue-producing undertakings been treated for the purposes of the said Return; and what treatment was accorded in the compilation of the Return to surplus or deficit balances brought forward or carried forward?
As the answer is necessarily somewhat detailed and lengthy, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
I will send the hon. Member a statement including such information as is available in regard to the first part of the question. As to the second part, the return referred to is a return of expenditure and not of receipts. Contributions by a Council under the London (Equalisation of Rates) Act, which are paid under precept, were not included in the expenditure of the Council, but expenditure met out of grants received under the Act was, of course, included in the expenditure of the spending authority. The total expenditure out of revenue in respect of revenue-producing undertakings, including salaries and wages, was included in the return, irrespective of whether there was a profit or loss. Similarly the total expenditure of each Council on all services combined was included in the return irrespective of whether the total receipts during any one year were greater or less than the expenditure.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give a list of the undertakings in which the money of the taxpayer has been invested, showing the amount of money which has been invested; what return has been received; and what is the value of the investment to-day in each case?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to House of Commons Paper 250 of 1921 and House of Commons Paper 60 of 1922.
House Of Lords
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state when the Resolutions on the Reform of the House of Lords are to be submitted?
No, Sir. I cannot name a day.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has said that rather frequently, and that the last time he replied to the question he said that on account of the continued illness of the Foreign Secretary some new steps must he taken to bring those Resolutions forward. What steps is it proposed to take?
If my hon. Friend will refer to my answer, he will find that he has not quoted me correctly. I said that if my Noble Friend (Lord Curzon) remained for a prolonged period unable to introduce the matter, we must take other steps. I have reason to think that it is the desire in the other place that these Resolutions should, if possible, be introduced by my Noble Friend who, as the Leader of the House, is the natural person to introduce them. My Noble Friend himself hopes to be able to do so.
Does the recent addition of five peers to the House of Lords fulfil the Government's idea of reform of that Chamber?
No. These were meant to strengthen the Lords.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state which nations have now accepted invitations to The Hague Conference; and whether he can state the names of the British expert advisers and economists attending the Conference?
I am not aware what Powers besides His Majesty's Government have yet accepted the invitation to The Hague Commission. In answer to the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to him by the Lord Privy Seal on the 30th ultimo. The other British advisers attending the Commission will be Sir Sydney Chapman for the Board of Trade, Mr. H. E. Fass for the Treasury, Mr. J. D. Gregory for the Foreign Office, and Mr. Leslie Urquhart.
Internees, Ruhleben (Relief)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to state how many of the internees of the camp at Ruhleben during the period of the War have applied for relief from funds collected by the Government for such pur- poses; and how many have been successful in such application?
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the sums (up to a total of £5,000,000) provided in the Estimates in 1921–22 and 1922–23 for Grants for Compensation for Damage by Enemy Action. On this assumption, the answer to the first part of the question is 1797, and to the second part of the question (up to the present) 11.
Sugar Beet Companies
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what change has taken place, if any, in the value of the shares in the British Sugar Beet Company since the announcement that the Excise duty on home-grown sugar would be removed?
There is no company of this name. Of the two companies, Home Grown Sugar, Limited, and the English Beet Sugar Corporation, Limited, I am informed that the alteration in the average price of the shares of the first named company since 30th March last is negligible. I have no information as to the second.
Norman Fairfowl (Reforma-Tory School Detention)
(by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he has received representations from a public meeting held in Edinbane, Isle of Skye, and presided over by Dr. Farquhar MacRae, protesting against the character and severity of a sentence of four years' detention in a reformatory, passed in the Sheriff's Courts at Portree, upon a school-boy named Norman Fairfowl, 15 years of age, on his pleading guilty to having "lifted" from a shop counter, when no one was present, a pocket book, which he afterwards discovered contained a sum of money, and which he delivered up intact to the policeman the following morning; whether he is aware that the boy bore an excellent character in the community and in the school, and that the local people do not believe there was any intention to steal; whether he has made inquiries into this case; and whether he proposes to have the sentence reviewed?
I have received representations of the nature referred to in the first part of the question. I have made full inquiry into the circumstances of the case. The youth in question pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing a pocket book containing £15 10s. in money and a postal order for 9s. 1d. The father was present during the Court proceedings. When charged by the police with the theft Fairfowl at first denied it, but later he admitted it, and produced the pocket book, postal order and money with the exception of £1. This sum, I understand, his father offered to repay. Representations regarding the boy's previous good character have been made to me, but after careful consideration, and having regard to the power of the managers of the reformatory school to release him on licence should his conduct in the school justify this course, I do not feel justified in advising any interference with the order of the Court. I may add, that the case was fully investigated on the representation of my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire, in whose constituency Fairfowl resides.
Has the right hon. Gentleman asked the schoolmistress in whose school the boy was receiving his education as to his character, and has fie made independent inquiries of independent persons in the community as to the character of this boy, and is he aware that, on behalf of the boy, it was said that the reason why he did not at once go back with the pocket-book was that he was frightened, and is he not aware that to anyone who understands boys' psychology that is a reasonable explanation?
I do not know what my hon. Friend means by independent inquiry. I have made the inquiry which is always made in cases of this kind, when representations are made to the responsible Minister, and it was only after inquiry of that kind, and being satisfied that all the relevant circumstances were before the Court, that I declined to take the unusual course of interfering with the decision of an experienced judge, who had decided the case after all the circumstances had been laid before him.
I beg to give notice that I will call attention to this scandal on the Adjournment to-night.
Had the judge his attention called to the provisions of the First Offenders Act, dealing specifically with these cases?
I have not the least doubt that the judge had that Act before him and decided in the exercise of his discretion that this case was more suitable for reformatory treatment than for the application of the First Offenders Act.
Ronald True (Reprieve)
(by Private Notice)
asked the Home Secretary whether he has any statement to make with regard to his action in ordering the detention in a criminal lunatic asylum of Ronald True?
My right hon. Friend has done his level best to be back, in order to answer this question, of which notice was received. He only managed to get away for the week-end, to visit at Ypres the grave of his son, who fell in action. He is coming back as rapidly as he can. I am afraid that he is only just arriving in London. In view of the nature of the visit, I hope that the House will be satisfied. In his absence, perhaps, the House will allow me to make on the subject a detailed statement which is rather long.
May I postpone my question until to-morrow?
I think that perhaps that would be the best course to take in the circumstances.
May I put a question on the Rules of the House? If I put the question, and the Home Secretary replies to-morrow, and I then ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House on a definite matter of urgent public importance, and you are able to accept the Motion, shall I be ruled out of order, on the ground that I should have moved that Motion to-day, instead of to-morrow?
In these circumstances I shall not take objection on the ground of time, but keep my mind entirely clear as to any other questions.