Fishing Industries, Western Europe
asked the Minister of Agriculture the assistance the respective Governments of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Holland afford to their fishing industries in the way of special facilities or subsidies; and is he aware that trawlers and other fishing boats of those countries are landing their catches at British ports, thereby causing great loss and unemployment to our own fishermen?
As the answer to the hon. Member's question is lengthy, I propose, with his permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
Sweden.—During 1921 a State subsidy of Kr.100,000 was granted in aid of the Icelandic fishery, but, even with this assistance, the undertaking was not a financial success, and a deficit of some Kr.30,000 was incurred. A subsidy has been granted this year, but particulars are not yet available.
Denmark.—In December, 1921, a State guarantee of a sum not exceeding Kr.25,000 was granted with the object of running a. small steamer with a cargo of about 70 tons of fish three or four times a month from Thyberon, in Jutland, to England. The intention was that the vessel should run at ordinary rates and the guarantee only be used in the event of the experiment showing a loss on working. The guarantee was not to be used for the purpose of reducing rates. No information is available as to whether any subvention has actually been paid. By the Law No. 118 of 11th March, 1921, power to grant loans to fishermen or to fishermen's loan associations, up to a maximum of Kr.500,000, was granted, while Law No. 197 of 10th May, 1922, authorises loans in the same direction up to a maximum of Kr.400,000. This latter law also empowers the Government to grant fishermen, who permanently reside in the Slesvig district, direct loans, without security being given, for the purchase of fishing vessels which are not of a size to be registered, and loans to members of loan associations in the Slesvig district may also be granted from the means at the disposal of the association on the same terms.
Germany.—There is no direct subsidy granted by the State to the fishing industry. No information is available as to whether an indirect subsidy is given, but investigations are being made.
Holland. — There are two separate schemes whereby the Dutch Government directly subsidises its fishing industry. Scheme A applies to such communes as have agreed to certain conditions laid down by the Government, and the Ministry is informed that Scheveningen and Katwyk are the only communes that have entered into the necessary agreement. The scheme provides for compensation for losses incurred in the operation of trawlers between the 1st January and the 15th May, 1922, and the maximum amount of compensation granted per vessel is 1,750 florins. The
object of this scheme appears to be to keep the vessels at sea. Scheme B applies to the Zuyderzee fishermen, but full particulars of this scheme are not known. It is understood, however, that the Netherlands Government is prepared to grant a guarantee of 1,500,000 florins to the employers through the agency of the Zuyderzee Crediet Bank.
With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave to the question addressed to him on the 3rd April last by the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Colonel L. Ward), to which I should like to add that a Committee consisting of representatives of all branches of the fishing industry, and of the two fishery Departments for England and Scotland respectively, is at present considering what steps can be taken, if any, to ameliorate the conditions referred to.
National Defence (Aeroplanes Available)
asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the total number of aeroplanes available for the purposes of national defence, in a case of emergency, in Great Britain, France, Germany, and America?
I would refer my Noble and gallant Friend to the figures given in reply to a question by the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. L. Malone) on the 24th February, which showed that some 773 aeroplanes were in active use in the Royal Air Force throughout the world, and that the total number of aeroplanes on the establishment of the Royal Air Force was 1,938. I do not consider it advisable in the public interests to state the number of aeroplanes available for national defence in an emergency, and any information I could give as to the number of aeroplanes available in other countries would have to be discounted in various directions before a comparison could be drawn.
Is this question of the number of aeroplanes immediately available for national defence receiving the consideration of the Committee of Imperial Defence?
Yes, Sir, certainly.
Alexandra Park (Government Occupation)
asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether his attention has been called to the statement of one of the Alexandra Park trustees regarding their experience of the working of his Department; that the processes through which a claim passes are, firstly, agreement between the trustees' surveyor and the Government surveyor; secondly, submission for confirmation in detail by the chief valuer; thirdly, submission for confirmation in detail by the chief compensation officer; fourthly, report by the Commissioners of the Office of Works; fifthly, reference to the War Compensation Court; and sixthly, reference to the arbitrator of the Court; and whether, in the interests of claimants and the taxpayer, some less circuitous means of settlement can be devised?
I have seen the statement in question, but it does not describe quite accurately the procedure employed in settling claims in respect of the re-instatement of requisitioned premises. The claims as a whole are dealt with by the chief compensation officer, who refers matters of technical detail connected with dilapidations proper to the technical advisers of the Department. These officers then endeavour to arrive at a provisional settlement, which, after approval by the Commissioners, is submitted to the War Compensation Court. So far as I am aware, the Court have never referred any claim o an arbitrator, though in exceptional cases they may decide to consult their own advisers. A thorough examination of such claims against public funds is essential in the interests of the taxpayer, and I do not see how, having regard to the large amounts of public money involved and the fact that the War Compensation Court require the fullest information on which to base their decisions, any more expeditious and more satisfactory procedure can be devised. In the present, as in other cases, the Court have authorised payments on account in order to enable claimants to meet immediate needs, and every endeavour is made to ensure that claimants receive sympathetic and fair consideration.
Could the hon. Baronet give any idea of what percentage of the claims really goes in expenses before the end is reached?
Mounted Police, London
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there has recently been any increase in the horsed police force of the Metropolitan Police; if so, what has been the increase in numbers, and for what reason; if these men are armed in any way when on duty; and what is the object of permanently having some of these men on duty at some of the crowded traffic crossings in London when the traffic is well managed by the ordinary policeman on foot?
There has been no recent increase in the strength of the mounted police, and their numbers are now smaller than before the War. They are not armed when on duty, being merely provided with a truncheon. The employment of mounted men at busy crossing has been found of advantage, because they are in a better position than the foot police to keep the traffic under observation.
asked the Minister of Labour the total number of unemployed in the building trades for last week and the amount paid out in benefit?
The number of persons registered as unemployed in the building trades in Great Britain on 22nd May, the latest date for which figures are available, was 116,012, of whom 41,550 were craftsmen and 74,462 labourers, and the amount paid in benefit in the week preceding Monday, 22nd May, was about £65,000.
Has the hon. Gentleman considered the desirability of making representations to the Minister of Health that, instead of paying this money for doing nothing, these men should be employed on building houses, which are wanted?
The whole matter involved in the hon. Member's supplementary question is under consideration.
asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed on 10th June and on 10th March; and the respective amounts paid out on those two dates in unemployment donation?
The number of persons on the Live Registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain on 6th June, the latest date for which figures are available, was about 1,440,200, compared with 1,708,747 on 6th March. A part of this decrease arises from the temporary exhaustion of benefit. The amounts paid in benefit were approximately £529,000 for the week ended 10th June and £1,180,000 for the week ended 11th March.
Do these figures include the men coming under the Clause relating to the five weeks' pay?
Yes, Sir, those are included.
asked the Minister of Labour haw many persons he reckons are now unemployed in Great Britain; and how many of these are not drawing the unemployment insurance money?
The number of men, women, boys and girls on the Live Registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain at 6th June was about 1,440,200, compared with 1,617,082 at 1st May. I am unable to state precisely the number of persons unemployed not included in these figures, but I have no reason to believe that it is very large. Of the 1,440,200 persons registered as unemployed, about 757,000 were in receipt of unemployment benefit. Many of the remainder will be eligible for benefit again as from 15th June, if still unemployed, genuinely unable to obtain work, and otherwise satisfying the conditions laid down.
Provisional Parliament (Oath)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the members of the Government, and of the Provisional Parliament, summoned for the 1st July, 1922, will he required to take the oath laid down in the Treaty?
No, Sir. The Treaty prescribes the oath to be taken by Members of the Parliament of the Irish Free State, and not by Members of a Provisional Parliament.
Will Ministers elected to the Provisional Parliament have to declare their approval of the terms of the Treaty?
Yes, Sir. All Ministers of the Provisional Government are obliged, by Article 17 of the Treaty, to sign the declaration which is set out in that Article.
May we understand that the Members of the Parliament which is summoned to meet on 1st July will not he required to take an oath of any description to anyone?
Yes, Sir, that is the position. That is in accordance with what the Treaty has prescribed. Only Ministers sign the declaration, until such time as the Free State Parliament is constituted, in which case the oath agreed upon in the Treaty comes into force.
And there will be no Republican oath taken either?
Certainly there will be no Republican oath administered.
Mr De Valera (Meetings In Scotland)
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to the announcement that Mr. de Valera is going to hold a demonstration at Glasgow on Sunday next and subsequently in other parts of Scotland; whether this may not lead to breaches of the peace; and whether it is the intention of the Government to allow these meetings to take place?
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the statement that Mr. de Valera is to address meetings in Glasgow and Dundee, and what steps he proposes to take to prevent a breach of the peace arising out of these meetings?
I have been asked to reply to these questions. My attention has been called to notices in the Press regarding the meetings referred to. The usual steps will be taken to preserve order.
Is it not quite obvious that Mr. de Valera is going to Scotland to preach murder and destruction of property?
That is the very question I disallowed. The hon. Member is putting his personal opinion into the question.
May I ask the Leader of the House whether we are to understand from the reply that the Government have no power to prevent persons who have been responsible for rebellion and outrage in Ireland from coming to this country, and preaching their propaganda here?
That is the same thing. It is exactly what I have struck out from the hon. Member's original question.
Do we understand that it is the intention of the Government to allow these meetings to take place?
I am not aware that the Government have any power to prevent them.
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to accept any offer on the part of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray) to address a public meeting in his own constituency?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps between now and Sunday to pass the necessary legislation to give him power?
Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention, in the event of this gentleman preaching sedition in Glasgow, to allow similar meetings to take place later on?
That is an entirely hypothetical question.
Is it a fact that these questions are put by gentlemen who cannot address their own constituencies?
At the end of Questions—
In view of the unsatisfactory reply which I have received, in reply to my question by private notice, I ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure of the Government to take adequate steps to prevent breaches of the peace, by permitting Mr. de Valera to hold a meeting in Glasgow, and, subsequently, in other places in Scotland."
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure of the Government to take adequate steps to prevent breaches of the peace by permitting Mr. de Valera to hold a meeting in Glasgow and, subsequently, in other places in Scotland." That is not a Motion which I can accept. The holding of meetings may be perfectly right. It is only in the case of wrong action at such meetings that the authorities are hound to interfere.
Supposing a meeting be held, and a disturbance takes place, is one entitled to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to the failure of the Home Secretary or the Secretary for Scotland to take the necessary action?
There are many meetings that are lively, and none the worse for that. Opinions as to what is a disturbance differ. I notice that the Press sometimes thinks there has been a "scene" in the House when I have not observed it.
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to statements in the English and Irish Press to the effect that four loyalists were carried away by the forces which retreated from the British troops at Pettigo. If so, can he say whether such statements are true, and, if so, whether these prisoners have yet been released or are in safety?
I am making inquiry into this matter. I have had information as to the names of some men mho have been carried off. I will make further inquiries.
Am I to understand from that reply that the right hon. Gentleman thinks there is substance in the statement? If so, may I ask him whether the retreating troops in question were or were not Free State troops?
I am making inquiries. A certain number of special constables have been captured or kidnapped or taken away, and I am making inquiries to get a list of names. Four names have been given.
Were they taken away by the Free State troops, or not?
They were probably taken away by Free State troops in this particular case; but that would not exhaust the question; because they would be men who had been special constables in the area, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State.
In the course of his inquiries will the right hon. Gentleman find out, and inform the House, how many citizens of Belfast and other parts of the six counties have been taken, captured or kidnapped by someone's orders, and never brought to trial, and who do not know why they have been taken, captured or kidnapped?
I am afraid it would be no use trying to deal with these topics at question time. Of course, a great many persons have suffered illegal and improper injuries to life and property, both in Northern and Southern Ireland.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what opportunity we may have, and when, to discuss the appalling condition of affairs in the six counties, where life and property is not safe, and innocent citizens are arrested and not brought to trial?
We had a discussion on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Whitsuntide Recess only a fort- night ago. For any further opportunities, my hon. Friend must ask the Leader of the House.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these wholesale arrests, captures, kidnappings, or whatever they may be called, have all taken place since the House rose?
This is a long way from the original question. The question of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Pennefather) dealt with a particular case, and asked whether 12 persons had been carried off into Free State territory.
Does it make any difference if there were nearly 500 arrested, captured or kidnapped?
It makes a difference in regard to allowing a special question to he put. There must be something immediately arising to justify a question not on the Paper?
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any reason to believe that these men are in safety or that anything has happened to them?
Four names have been given to me of persons who have been carried off, arrested, or taken away. I know nothing else. I am making inquiries.
Circulars (Postage Abroad)
asked the Postmaster-General whether he has taken any steps to prevent the postage of printed circulars and other matter in foreign countries for delivery in this country; whether he can make arrangements under the International Postal Union to stop the postage in foreign countries of large batches of circulars and letters which do not come under the category of ordinary postal matter which is the basis of the union; and, in view of the new postal rates in this country now in force, whether he can make any statement on this matter?
I have taken such steps as are practicable to prevent the posting abroad by British firms of circulars, etc., intended for delivery in this country. The practice, however, does not infringe any provision of the International Postal Conventions. As the posting of circulars abroad was stated to be due to the increase of postage rates in this country, it is to be hoped that the restoration of the ½d. rate for inland printed papers will result in its discontinuance. Should, however, the practice continue, I will consider the advisability of taking powers to deal with it.
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will explain fully the new postal Regulations as to posting printed matter and ½d. postcards before 3.30 p.m. daily in London and which Regulation has been made before 1.30 p.m. in some provincial towns; will lie state whether, under these Regulations, all printed papers and postcards posted after these hours must bear further postage stamps and, if so, to what amount, or whether such printed matter and postcards posted after these Regulation hours will only be delayed in delivery; and will he undertake that notices are displayed in the post offices stating exactly what the new Regulation means?
The Regulation to which the hon. Member refers applies only to papers or cards sent at the printed paper rate and prepaid ½d. only; it does not apply to postcards, on which the postage is 1d. The ½d. packets posted after the specified time are not surcharged with additional postage, but are set aside to be dealt with on the following day. Notices on the subject were displayed in the post office windows before the alteration came into force, and a statement was sent to the Press. If the hon. Member has in mind any case in which, in his opinion, the time for posting has been fixed unduly early, and he will give me particulars, I shall be happy to make inquiries.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of instituting a special tariff for letters from moneylenders, who are flooding Members of this House and the public schools?
That question should be put on the Paper.
Iceland (British Fishermen)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has further examined the complaints made by British fishermen against the treatment at the hands of the Icelandic Government and its servants, and against the British Consul in Iceland; and whether he has decided on any steps to remove the causes of these complaints?
The complaints received regarding the treatment of British fishermen by the Icelandic authorities have been carefully examined, and His Majesty's Consul at Reykjavik has been instructed to make representations to the Icelandic Government in regard to the attempts of the authorities to obtain evidence before trial and the requirement that gear should be unshackled and fish stored before entry into territorial waters.
Saghalien (Japanese Occupation)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Japan undertook to evacuate the nothern portion of the island Saghalien during the negotiations at Washington; and whether this evacuation has commenced?
The Japanese representative at the Washington Conference gave an assurance that the occupation of Northern Saghalien was "only a temporary measure," and would come to an end as soon as a satisfactory settlement could be arranged with "an orderly Russian Government." The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.
Will the hon. Gentleman state exactly what sort of Government it is in the Far East, whether or no it is elected on exactly the same ground as the present House of Commons and on an entirely different basis from what hon. Members generally regard as a Soviet?
The Minister was quoting the statement of another Government.
asked the Prime Minister if the details of the agenda for The Hague Conference have yet been settled; and, if so, what is the agenda?
A general statement of the agenda for The Hague Commission is contained in the Resolutions of the Final Plenary Session of the Genoa Conference which are contained in Section 8 of Command Paper 1667. This statement has not been further elaborated.
Is there an item on the agenda to discuss the advisability of a free exchange of commodities instead of the high tariffs which exist now in all countries?
I shall be glad if the hon. Member will give me notice.
asked the Minister of Health how many applications have been made to him by local authorities for permission to reduce the rentals of council houses erected with the State guarantee; in how many cases the permission has been granted; whether the grant of such permission increases the financial liability of the State; how much, in that case, has been added to the financial liability of the State during the last year ending:30th April; and what is the policy of his Department in respect to such reductions?
Applications for reductions of rent have been received from some 400 local authorities, being about one-third of the authorities carrying out schemes, and reductions have been agreed in the case of 225 authorities. If it were assumed that the original rents could in all cases have been collected, these reductions would increase the deficit for which the State is liable by approximately £75,000 per annum. Rules for determination of rents are laid down in the Regulations approved by Parliament, arid it is my policy to secure that no rents are fixed less than those contemplated by the Regulations.
Trade With Russia
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his atten- tion has been called to the frequent assertion that the British Government prefers to pay out unemployment donation rather than to pay the money for work done in producing the articles Russia needs; whether any orders are now being placed by Russia in this country; if so, whether on credit or against cash payment; what is the trading method of the Russian Government generally in purchasing goods; and whether, if Russia is prepared with actual cash, there is any bar to her obtaining at the present time practically all her requirements?
As regards the first part of the question, my right hon. Friend's attention has been drawn from time to time to such statements. As my hon. Friend is aware, the Government have spared no effort to secure conditions under which a wider resumption of trade with Russia will be possible. I am informed that some orders are being placed by Russia in this country, usually, I understand, upon a cash basis. The practice of the Russian Government is to purchase its foreign requirements through the Commissariat for Foreign Trade or through agencies set up on its behalf. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.
House Of Lords
asked the Prime Minister when His Majesty's Government intend to introduce proposals for the reform of the House of Lords?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave yesterday in reply to a question by the hon. Member for West Derbyshire.
Canadian Cattle Embargo
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can now state the day he will allot for the Debate on the Resolution to be submitted in favour of the removal of the embargo on the importation of Canadian livestock; and, if the decision of the House be in favour of such removal, whether the Government will take prompt steps to have the embargo removed?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave yesterday to questions on this subject. As regards the last part of the question, I should prefer to reserve any statement until after the Debate, when the decision of the House will have been taken.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give approximately the date when he hopes to have a Debate?
I gave that yesterday. Between the Committee and Report stages of the Finance Bill. Beyond that I cannot say.
Income Tax (Arrears)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the arrears of Income Tax at the present time, excluding the second instalments due in July, as compared with corresponding figures for the three previous years?
The approximate amounts of Income Tax estimated to be due to be paid (excluding the second instalment due on the 1st July following), but not paid by the 31st May, were as follow:—
|31st May, 1919||…||…||24,000,000|
|31st May, 1920||…||…||29,000,000|
|31st May, 1921||…||…||39,000,000|
|31st May, 1922||…||…||64,000,000|
In the exceptional circumstances of the present time, the estimate for 1922 is necessarily subject to a considerable margin of error.
Genoa Conference (Bankers' Meeting)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Bank of England has yet called a. meeting of the central banks and banks regulating credit policy in the several countries, as recommended by the Finance Commission of the Genoa Conference; and whether America will co-operate in the bankers' meeting?
I understand that the Bank of England is in communication with representatives of other central banks in regard to the date which would be most convenient for the meeting and other questions preliminary to the issue of formal invitations. I am not in a position to say exactly what banks will be represented.
Was it the intention of the Bankers' Conference to conclude its sittings before The Hague Conference was held?
The meeting of the central bankers is a matter which is entirely independent of what may be done at The Hague Conference.
Brigand Attacks, Chanak (British Casualties)
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether the report that 12 British soldiers captured by the Kemalists near the Dardanelles have been massacred is true, and, if so, what action does he propose to take?
My information is that the report is exaggerated. The actual casualties were two men killed and one man missing. The incident occurred south of Chanak, when the usual area patrols encountered a band of brigands some 150 strong, whose hostility appears to have been mainly directed against the Greeks and not against the British. The situation is now quiet.
Is there any truth in the report in the evening papers that 12 British soldiers have lost their lives in this area?
That is the report, I imagine, which forms the basis of the question, and my answer is that I am informed two have been killed and one is missing.
Is it correct to call them Kemalists? Is it not prejudicial to the negotiations that are going on?
I call them brigands.
Reprieve Of True
Home Secretary's Statement
(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether he had any statement to make in regard to his action in ordering the detention in a criminal lunatic asylum of Ronald True?
I understand that my action in the discharge of the most painful and difficult duty that any Home Secretary has to perform has met with considerable criticism, and excited controversy, and I feel that it would be in accordance with the wishes of the House that I should deal with the matter at some considerable length, and in some detail. In the first place, I hope to show the House that the course taken by me was in every essential that which would have been taken, and could only have been taken, by any Home Secretary, and is in entire accordance with the practice in other cases in the past for very many years.I understand that my action is criticised on two grounds; first, that I need not have instituted any inquiry into the mental condition of True, and, secondly, that having received the report certifying him insane, I need not have acted upon that. Dealing with the first point, that I need not have instituted any further inquiry, it is said that I was in some degree re-opening an issue which I should have regarded as having been closed by the findings of the jury before whom the case was brought. It is said, I understand, that I have flouted the verdict of.a British jury, and the decisions of the High Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal. I have really done nothing whatever of the kind. Let me quote the words of the Section under which I acted—Section 2 (4) of the Criminal Lunatics Act, 1884:
It will be observed that the Section is peremptory in its terms. If the Home Secretary has reason to believe that a prisoner under sentence of death is insane he shall order an inquiry. What were the grounds for such a belief in this case? I had the reports of two prison doctors who had the prisoner under close observation for nearly two months. Those doctors gave evidence at the trial, as did two other medical men, to the effect that in their judgment the prisoner wag certifiably insane. I had that evidence, and I knew also that no rebutting evidence was called during the trial for the reason that the prosecution found themselves unable to obtain any such evidence. This does not mean that the jury were wrong, or that there was a miscarriage of justice at the trial. There were, in fact, two issues which are quite distinct. Was the prisoner at the time when he committed the offence insane within the limits of the doctrine of criminal responsibility as laid down by the courts? That is the question to which the jury had to give an answer. The further question, which arises under the Act which I have quoted, is whether the prisoner at the time of the statutory inquiry—being then under sentence of death—was insane within the meaning of the ordinary law so that he could be certified and removed to an asylum. The question is left by the Statute to the unfettered judgment of two or more medical men; and in instituting such a medical inquiry I was in no way running counter to the views of the judges. On the contrary, the learned judge who tried the case in the first instance, in reporting to me, according to custom, that he had passed sentence of death, drew my special attention to the medical evidence as affording matter for consideration, while, at the conclusion of the appeal which was dismissed, the Lord Chief Justice used these words:"In the case of a prisoner under sentence of death, if it appears to a Secretary of State, either by means of a certificate signed by two members of the Visiting Committee of the prison in which such prisoner is confined, or by any other means, that there is reason to believe such prisoner to be insane, the Secretary of State shall appoint two or more legally qualified medical practitioners, and the said medical practitioners shall forthwith examine such prisoner and inquire as to his sanity, and after such examination and inquiry such practitioners shall make a report in writing to the Secretary of State as to the sanity of the prisoner, and they, or the majority of them, may certify in writing that he is insane."
So that, if I may recapitulate, the reason which I had to believe that the prisoner was insane was first of all the reports of the prison doctors, who had had him under observation, that at that time they considered him certifiable as insane. There was the request of the learned Judge who tried the case that I should carefully consider the evidence as to sanity given at the trial, and there was the very plain hint of the Lord Chief Justice. If in these circumstances I had neglected to put the provisions of the Statute into operation by directing a medical inquiry, I should have been guilty of a flagrant breach of public duty, and, when challenged, as I undoubtedly should have been challenged, I should have had no defence. Now I come to the second ground of criticism. That is to say that, having received a report in due form that the prisoner was insane, I was not bound to act upon such report. Those who take that view are under a complete misapprehension. The principle that an insane man should not go to execution has been enshrined in the law of this country for at least 300 years. If the House will allow me, I will quote a few of the authorities. Sir Edward Coke, in his "Institutes," in discussing an Act passed in the reign of Henry, says:"In these circumstances and for these reasons the appeal will be dismissed. It only remains to add, as has been pointed out by Sir Richard Muir, that, apart altogether from any question of appeal, there are certain powers in the Home Secretary which in a proper case are always exercised."
Sir Mathew Hale, in his "Pleas of the Crown," says:"It was further provided by the said Act of 33 Henry the 8th that if a man attainted of treason became mad that notwithstanding he should be executed; which cruell and inhuman law lived not long but was repealed, for in that point also it was against the common law."
Sergeant Hawkins, in his "Pleas of the Crown," says in Chapter 1, Section 3, page 2:"If a man in his sound memory commits a capital offence.… and after judgment becomes of non-sane memory, his execution shall be spared, for were he of sound memory he might allege somewhat in stay of judgment or execution."
Blackstone in his Commentaries, volume 4, page 465, says:"And it seems agreed at this day that if one who has committed a capital offence becomes non-compos before conviction he shall not be arraigned, and if after conviction that he shall not be executed."
In the reign of William III, Sir John Hawles, the Solicitor-General, said in one of the State trials:"Another cause of regular reprieve is it the offender becomes non-compos between the judgment and the award of execution, for regularly, as was formerly observed, though a man be compos when he commits a capital crime, yet if he becomes non-compos after judgment he shall nut be ordered for execution."
And Stephens, the well-known legal writer, in his "Commentaries," entirely approves of those statements as to the legal position. That is the position with regard to those two points. Clearly in the circumstances it was my duty to set up a committee of inquiry. The committee consisted of two most highly experienced official doctors who had had long experience. One had been for many years superintendent of Broadmoor Asylum, and the other is now a Prison Commissioner, and both are men who for years have had the complete confidence of judges when they gave evidence as to sanity or insanity in criminal cases. It was my statutory duty to set up that committee of inquiry, and when they reported to me that True was insane, and certified him to be insane, I was bound by the law of the land to reprieve him. The third doctor was a very well known specialist, Sir Maurice Craig, who is well known to all medical men. The third criticism which I have seen, a criticism which, if made lightly and without good grounds, was the cruellest criticism that could have been made, was that I was influenced by some undue, high-placed, aristocratic pressure in this matter. I assure the House that I know nothing of who True is or who his relations are. I had not any communication from anyone about him except from the learned judge. Until the Committee was set up and had begun to function there had been no communication of any kind from his solicitor to the Home Office. Alter it was set up the solicitor for the prisoner presented, as they generally do, a petition for his reprieve. Subsequently Dr. Dyer saw a relative of the prisoner, and took evidence with regard to the circumstances of his youth and his antecedents, but, with those exceptions, I have had no representations of any sort or kind from any living soul about this case. I hope that the House will believe me that I was actuated in this as in all other cases by nothing but the pure merits of the case."Nothing is more certain than that a person who falls mad after a crime is committed shall not be tried for it, and if he falls mad after judgment he shall not he executed."
In view of the impossibility of debating the Home Secretary's statement by means of supplementary questions and answers, may I ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the action of the Home Secretary in instituting an inquiry into the sanity of Ronald True?"
Before I put this matter to the House, I must make it quite clear that no question of the Adjournment can arise on the subject of the advice tendered to His Majesty by a Home Secretary with regard to a reprieve, or the converse, of a criminal who has been convicted. That is maintained by a long series of decisions by my predecessors. I will put the question to the House on quite other grounds than that. The question can only be, whether the Home Secretary acted rightly under the powers entrusted to him in this matter.
The pleasure of the House not having been signified,
Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and, fewer than 40 Members having, accordingly, risen, the House proceeded to the Business of the Day.
Wireless Telegraphy And Signalling Bill
"to amend The Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1904, and to make further provision with respect to the regulation of wireless telegraphy and visual and sound signalling," presented by Mr. KELLAWAY; to be read a Second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 148.]
Advertisements Regulation Bill Lords
Read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Tuesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 149.]