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Ireland

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 14 June 1922

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Conference (Lord Chief Justice)

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Lord Chief Justice of England attended a committee of Ministers dealing with the Irish question; and, if so, why this departure from constitutional practice was made?

The Lord Chief Justice, who was a member of the Irish Conference and at that time His Majesty's Attorney-General, took a leading part in the constitutional discussions between British and Irish representatives at that Conference. When difficulties and differences of opinion arose upon the question whether the Draft Constitution was in harmony with the Treaty, it was thought convenient in the public interest, and not in the circumstances improper, that the Lord Chief Justice should resume his discussion upon this particular question. He took no part in any other and more general discussion, and no part in any decision of Ministers. The task undertaken by Lord Hewart can hardly be described as a departure from constitutional practice, inasmuch as no precedent is believed to exist for the occasion on which his assistance was requested. It is reasonable to suppose that his duty in this matter is now finally discharged.

I should not like to give that answer without saying, as one of His Majesty's Ministers, that we are under a great obligation to Lord Hewart for having consented to give us his assistance in this matter, as he was somewhat reluctant to do so.

The right hon. Gentleman is aware that I did not desire to make any attack on the Lord Chief Justice in asking my question.

Even with the qualifications and restrictions which the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out, does he not think that there are grave objections to a judge, who may have to decide judicially questions arising out of these very considerations, even appearing to be in consultation with Ministers on the matter?

Undoubtedly the position was one of some delicacy. I think Lord Hewart reluctantly resumed any part in the Conferences, and he was strictly limited within the sphere I have described. All I can say is that I believe Lord Hewart's intervention, his consent to give us that assistance, was as welcome to the other parties to the negotiations as to ourselves, and contributed signally to such success as was attained by the Conferences.

Army Reservists

74.

asked the Secretary of State for War if any reservists have been struck off the Army Reserve by the recent disbandment of Irish regiments; and, if so, how many?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. The second part, therefore, does not arise.

Kidnapped British Officers

53.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now give the House any information as to the fate of the three British officers and one private who were kidnapped at Macroom at the end of April and are supposed to have been murdered?

I regret that I can add nothing to the reply which I gave to the Noble Lord the Member for Battersea South on the 30th May last, namely, that I have no further information regarding these officers and the soldier, but that the military authorities no longer feel able to hold out any hope that they are still alive.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say anything as to the rumour which was very current that these officers and the soldier were taken to Macroom Castle, tried by a detachment of the Irish Republican Army, and shot there?

No, I know nothing of that. I shall be very glad of any evidence given to me on the question.

Is it the case that Macroom Castle was surrounded and held by His Majesty's forces? If so, why were the men inside the Castle not taken prisoners?

Is there any truth in the story told that the Commanding Officer of the Hampshire Regiment, in which two of these officers served, had communicated with the next-of-kin as to the death and murder of these officers?

I have said that the military authorities no longer feel any hope that these officers and the soldier are alive. I also said on another occasion, believe, that the relatives have been informed. At any rate, I understood that.

Special Constabulary, Ulster

54 and 55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether his attention has been called to the action of the Ulster special constabulary in holding up, searching, and subjecting to insult and indignity His Eminence Cardinal Logue arid Most Reverend Dr. O'Donnell at Lisnadell, County Armagh, on Tuesday 6th June, when proceeding on their religious duties; whether he is aware that, on His Eminence protesting against such treatment and objecting to the searching of a parcel of diocesan letters and documents, an order was given to cover that man with a rifle, and a rifle and revolver were immediately thrust under his nose; that a full search was then made of all papers and documents; that even a box in which were holy oils for confirmation was opened, though Archbishop O'Donnell explained what was in it; that this was the second occasion on which His Eminence the Cardinal and Dr. O'Donnell had been subjected to this indignity, as they had been similarly held up on the 24th May by the specials at Lisnadell and subjected to search and insult; and whether, in view of the fact that this repeated interference with ministers in the discharge of their religious duties is a direct breach of the letter and sprit and whole intention of Section 5 of The Government of Ireland Act, 1920, he will have that Act suspended as its constitution is no longer being observed;

(2) whether his attention has been drawn to the official statement from the headquarters of the special constabulary in Belfast that the specials, in holding up His Eminence Cardinal Logue and the Most Reverend Dr. O'Donnell, had exceeded their instructions; whether he can state what are the instructions given to special constables in such matters; and whether he will issue in the form of a White Paper a statement setting out the nature of the instructions, written and oral, issued to the specials for carrying out their duties in the Northern area?

My attention has been called to this incident, and I took the opportunity of reading His Eminence's letter in the Irish newspapers. I may say at once that His Majesty's Government consider that the incident was very regrettable. His Eminence had just delivered a speech, the whole object of which was to bring about a more peaceful, rational and Christian temper in Ireland, and it is indeed lamentable that he should have been subjected to so much want of consideration. I was very glad to learn that an official rebuke was spontaneously administered by those in charge of the Special Constabulary to their agents for their conduct in this matter. The phrase "exceeded their instructions" is clearly intended in that sense. I do not think it is necessary, nor indeed do I think it is practicable, to lay in the form of a White Paper instructions, general or special, which may be issued by the police authorities to constables coping with the kind of situation which has arisen in Northern Ireland.

I may add that I have had the advantage of a conversation with Sir James Craig on this subject, and he has desired me to say that it is far indeed from the wishes or intentions of the Government of Northern Ireland that any want of courtesy or consideration should be shown to Cardinal Logue or any other high dignitary of the Catholic Church.

In view of the fact that the first insult and indignity was put upon Cardinal Logue in pursuit of his ecclesiastical duties on 24th May, and that subsequently he was insulted in a much more offensive form on 6th June, why were no steps taken to protect him and other distinguished ecclesiastics in the discharge of their functions?

I have no information other than that which I have given to the House. The matter, of course, is one primarily to he raised in the Ulster Parliament.

Peace Pact, Belfast

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the action of the Special Constabulary in Belfast in arresting and detaining, without charge or trial, two Catholic members of the Conciliation or Peace Committee set up under the Craig-Collins pact; whether he has information that warrants have been issued for three other Catholic members of the committee; and whether, seeing that the peace pact cannot be carried out while the Government of Northern Ireland pursue this policy, he will inform it that the £500,000 grant recently voted will be withdrawn from the Ulster Parliament and handed over to a committee who will use it for the relief of the expelled workers and Catholic refugees in Belfast who have been left without homes or livelihood?

Yes, Sir; my attention has been drawn from various quarters to this matter, and I have personally seen the representatives of the Northern Government upon the subject. They inform me that charges of substance are to be preferred against these two men, but I have not yet received information as to what these charges are. It certainly is a great pity that the committee which was to have been set up under the agreement of the 31st March should have met with so little success, and I do not think anyone can be satisfied that the position should be left where it now stands. The Imperial Government was a party to the agreement of the 31st March, and on this ground as well as on others has the responsibility for endeavouring to secure its execution as opportunity may serve. We have been passing through an extremely critical and violent period in Northern Ireland in the last few weeks, and at the first opportunity afforded by a calmer situation, I shall endeavour to press upon all parties concerned the importance of persevering in an endeavour to carry out that agreement. At the present moment such intervention would not be useful, both sides being animated by the greatest possible distrust and indignation against one another.

With regard to the last part of the question, I cannot see that it would be any advantage at the present time to withdraw this grant, which is divided proportionately between Protestants and Catholics, and which is a mitigating and merciful factor in the general harshness of the scene.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say by what process of impartial administration this pact can be carried out if the representatives of one side to the pact are arrested and imprisoned without charge and there are no representatives of the Catholics on this body?

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies will he also tell the House whether, in fact, the Craig-Collins pact did not break down completely as a result of the action of the Provisional Government in setting up a railway commission of their own? Secondly, what useful purpose could be secured to the unemployed in Belfast by the withdrawing of the grant of £500,000 from His Majesty's Government, which would involve the withdrawal for the same reason of £500,000 voted by the Corporation and the Harbour Board of Belfast to be distributed in the proportion provided as between the two sections of unemployed in that community?

I think, on reflection, my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division of Belfast (Mr. Devlin) will see that my answer covers the whole point raised in his question. I do not for a moment suggest that the agreement is being carried out at the present time, but I hope an opportunity will occur soon when we can resume our efforts.

In view of the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the House, that this £500,000 of Imperial money, advanced for a definite specific purpose should be distributed upon the terms laid down, namely, impartial administration as between the different interests concerned, what steps does he propose to take to deal with the fact that the representatives of the Catholic body have been arrested by the orders of the Ulster Government?

May I also ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks a worse service could be rendered to the cause of peace than the putting down of offensive and unfounded accusations of this kind?

I may answer the supplementary question of the hon. Member for the Falls Division. His Majesty's Government naturally are responsible for seeing that this money is distributed in the proportion agreed upon, and in the quarters for which it was intended. I shall be quite glad to answer questions in the House upon that subject. I am assured that Catholic unemployed will get the full share of the money prescribed for them. I am quite willing to take responsibility for doing my best to see that this is carried out.

In view of the fact that they have no representation upon the administrative body, what guarantee have they that the money allocated by the Imperial Government will be adjusted according to the spirit of the allocation?

That is very far from the question originally on the Paper. If my hon. Friend puts down another question, I am quite ready to show him the machinery which will be adopted for making sure that there is a distribution of the grant in proportion to the population.

Outrages (Ulster)

58.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the evidence on which he based his suggestion that Protestants and Sinn Feiners were equally responsible for the recent outrages in Ulster?

The hon. and gallant Member does not quote the words of my statement, which were reported as follows:

"There is no comparison between the position of the Protestants, Loyalists, or Unionists, in Southern Ireland and that of the Catholics in Northern Ireland, because a most vehement and combative campaign is going on there. I am not saying who began it, or against whom the greater amount of blame rests, but, undoubtedly, a very active combat is going on there, with many killed and wounded on both sides…
To this statement I adhere.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise there were several statements in that speech, all of them suggesting to some of us that he considered that the Protestants were equally responsible with the Sinn Feiners? May I suggest—

Sinn Fein Courts

59.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to proceedings instituted at the Sinn Fein supreme court, Dublin, on 31st May, when an order was secured restraining Martin J. Hughes from proceeding with a action in enemy courts, namely, His Majesty's Courts of Justice, etc.; whether these courts function under the authority of the Dail Eireann; and whether such procedure is in accordance with the Treaty?

I have seen a newspaper report of the proceedings referred to. It is a matter of common knowledge and I have never sought to disguise the fact that so called Republican Courts have continued their irregular activities since the Treaty. Their continuance side by side with the legally established courts is one of the many anomalies of the present transitional period which must presumably disappear when the Irish Free State has been duly set up and its Constitution has become operative. As the Provisional Government have no responsibility for and do not recognise these courts no direct breach of the Treaty arises, but certainly it is a very wrongful situation.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps the Provisional Government is taking to bring into action again the Courts of Justice in Dublin?

Raid (Londonderry)

60.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that strong armed parties have crossed the border of Northern Ireland from the Free State, near Londonderry, and broken up the house of Mr. Maxwell-Moore, which is on the Londonderry border, and that protection has been refused by the military authorities if he will state the reason for this refusal; and if compensation will be given in this and similar cases and by whom?

I understand that an attack was made on the house of Mr. Maxwell-Moore on 3rd May last, with the result that windows were broken and some other damage was done. A request from Mr. Maxwell-Moore for protection was received by military authorities and was passed on to the civil police, as it is quite impossible for the Army, in addition to their other responsibilities, to undertake the protection of private individuals and their property. This involves no change in the procedure which for the past three years has been carried out in Ireland. In reply to the third part, provision is made under the existing law for compensation in this and similar cases.

Military Action (Rettigo And Beleek)

61.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if it is intended to accede to the demand of the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland for an inquiry into the action of His Majesty's military forces at Pettigo and Beleek; and. if so, will he state the reasons?

No, Sir. It is not intended to institute any such inquiry. His Majesty's Government believe themselves to be fully informed as to the facts, and accept full responsibility for the action which the military authorities took by their express direction.

Nakuru (Assault Upon Mr C F Andrews)

57.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received any Report upon the assault committed upon Mr. C. F. Andrews at Nakuru; and, if so, will he state the nature of the Report and the action that is being taken thereon by the Government?

I will circulate the Governor's despatch on this subject, with the reply which has been sent to him, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the despatch and reply:

Government House,

Nairobi,

Kenya.

28th April, 1922.

SIR,

With reference to your despatch No. 422 of 15th March, I have the honour to inform you that during his visit to Kenya Mr. C. F. Andrews, on 26th October, 1921, reported privately to Lieut.-Colonel Notley, then Acting Colonial Secretary, as to an assault which he stated had been made upon him at Nakuru Station while travelling by the Uganda Railway from Nairobi to Uganda.

2. He stated that a European, whose name he did not mention, seined him by the body when he was seated in his compartment and attempted to drag him from the train, afterwards catching hold of his beard several times, and repeating this behaviour at the following station.

3. Mr. Andrews was naturally much upset by the occurrence, and I caused an expression of my great regret to be conveyed to him. But as no official complaint war, submitted, and as Mr. Andrews particularly requested that no public action should be taken, I considered it inadvisable to pursue the matter further.

4. On his return journey from Uganda special precautions were taken by the police to prevent any unseemly behaviour towards Mr. Andrews.

I have, etc.,

(Signed) EOWARD NORTHEY.

Governor.

The Right Honourable

Winston Churchill, P.C.. M.P.,

Secretary of State for the Colonies,

Downing Street, London. S.W.

Downing Street,

7th June, 1922.

SIR,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch No. 545 of the 28th of April, regarding the assault which was made upon Mr. C. F. Andrews at Nakuru Station, oil the Uganda Railway.

2. I have received with regret this report of an act which was as foolish as it was reprehensible. I recognise that Mr. Andrews' request that no public action should be taken prevented you from carrying the matter further, but it would have been a source of satisfaction to me, as no doubt to all responsible inhabitants of the colony, if the offender had received the punishment he deserved.

I have, etc.,

(Signed) WINSTON S. CHURCHILL.

Governor,

Major-General,

Sir E. Northey, K.C.M.G., C.B., etc.

Government Timber (Prices)

65.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if 15,000 standards of spruce lying in Canada and belonging to this country have been sold to a firm of London timber importers; if so, what was the price per standard paid for the wood and how did it compare with the prevailing market value; and was any attempt made by the Govern- ment to obtain any better price after the offer had been received from the purchaser?

Approximately 10,000 standards of spruce lying in Canada have been sold to a firm of London timber importers, who have intimated their intention to exercise an option given to them to purchase a further 5,000 standards. In accordance with the invariable rule in such cases, I am not prepared to disclose the price of sale. There is no timber of comparable quality on the market. The offer was closed with upon expert advice.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Disability Pensions (Stabilisation)

66.

asked the Minister of Pensions when he will put into operation the Clause of the Act recently placed upon the Statute Book stabilising disability pensions after the disabled man has been in receipt of an award for four years or more?

I am sending my hon. and gallant. Friend a copy of the Regulations providing for the making of final awards which took effect on the 1st January last and have since that date been in full operation.

Edmonton Pensions Committee

67.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has ordered the. Edmonton, N., War Pensions Committee to increase the salary of their 19-yearsold office boy from £1 7s. 6d. to £2 14s. per week; and, if so, whether he will state the reasons for his action?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Committees were recently informed that clerks over 17 years of age should be considered for increase of salary within prescribed limits. But the Committees, whose servants the clerks are were instructed to submit their recommendations as to the revised salary that should be paid, due regard being had to the nature of the work and the merits of each case.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of discharging the boy, and employing an ex-service man in his place?

Scotland

Education Grants

68.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that under the draft Minute of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, providing for the payment of grants from the Education (Scotland) Fund under Section 21 (2) (a) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, there are two variations from the method of allocation adopted last year in the exclusion of burghs from participation in the excess staffing grants and in the raising of the rate of deduction in respect of the valuation from 4d. to 6d.; whether he is aware that under both heads Edinburgh is more seriously affected financially than any of the other burghs in Scotland, particularly in the matter of valuation; and whether, having regard to these facts, the method of distribution followed in 1921–22 can be retained?

I am naturally aware of the variations to which my hon. Friend refers. The Minute, which was framed after the most careful consideration, was circulated in draft to all the education authorities in Scotland, and from the representations I have received I am satisfied that it has the approval of the great majority. I would remind my hon. Friend that any alteration in the direction he suggests could only be effected at the expense of other authorities, many of whom are faced with the prospect of a more serious reduction of grant than is anticipated in the case of Edinburgh. The reply to the last part of his question is therefore in the negative.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case of Edinburgh the reduction is as large as 75 per cent. of the entire grant, and in view of that, will he arrange with the Leader of the House to allow an opportunity for the discussion of the prayer to His Majesty to refuse assent to this Minute?

I am aware that the reduction in Edinburgh is a very considerable amount, though I am not prepared to subscribe to the exact sum which my hon. Friend mentions. On the other matter I will consult my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Licences, Newmilns And Darvel

69.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that the polls taken on 2nd November, 1920, in the burghs of Newmilns and Darvel were declared valid by the Court of Session on 7th March, 1922, and that on 27th May, 1922, the licences in these burghs were nevertheless confirmed for another year; and what action he proposes to take to secure that the lawfully expressed wishes of the inhabitants of these burghs shall not be deprived of effect?

I am aware of the facts in the cases referred to by my hon. Friend. I am advised that I have no jurisdiction to intervene in the matter. My right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate, however, is considering whether any remedy by way of legal process is open to him as representing the public interest.

Education

Teachers' Superannuation

71.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the hardship entailed by the provision that a teacher must reach the age of 65 before he or she can get back, in the form of pension, the money that has been contributed towards superannuation; and will he secure that, when any teacher retires before the age of 65, that teacher may claim to be repaid the total amount, in a lump sum, of all the contributions that he or she has paid?

I understand the question to refer to the provisions of the School Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. I do not think I can usefully; by way of question and answer, anticipate the discussions which will, no doubt, take place on the provisions of that Bill.

Local Authorities (Grants)

72.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether be has received a resolution from the Gloucestershire Education Committee protesting against the decision of the Board to exclude in the calculation of their deficiency grant to local education authorities from 1st April, 1927, the equivalent of the substantive grants paid by the Board to the non-provided secondary schools and against the proposals leading thereto during the next five years, since the effect must be either to add a heavy burden to the local rates or to deprive the schools of essential aid which they receive from the authorities and without which it will be impossible for the governors to carry on the schools; what course he proposes to take; and whether he proposes to take any action in this matter?

I have received a copy of the resolution referred to. I cannot defend the anomaly under which the Exchequer is liable to bear a larger proportion of the cost of a school which is aided by an authority than of a school which is provided by the authority. The removal of this anomaly will be spread over five years, and I see no reason why the decision of the Government in this matter should be modified.

Performing Animals

75.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government intend to intro duce legislation to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee on Performing Anmals?

The recommendations of the Select Committee are being carefully considered, but I am not in a position at present to make any statement as to the intentions of His Majesty's Government.

Government Departments (Temporary Clerical Staff)

76.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the proposed reductions in the salaries of the temporary clerical staff from 1st June; whether wages from 55s. to 75s. weekly are all subject to reduction by 7s. 6d., with lower reductions as applied to lower wages; whether anything can be done to secure a fairer grading of the reduction between 55s. and 75s., as the present proposal unduly penalises the staff on the lower limit; and whether, in view of the fact that a reduction was made as from 1st February last and that the cost of living has dropped only seven points in the interval, the present reduction can be reconsidered, especially as the temporary staff never enjoyed the cost-of-living sliding scale as applied to the permanent staff?

As stated in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy) on the 31st ultimo, the rates of remuneration payable to the temporary clerical staff are at present under consideration by a Committee of the National Whitley Council for the Civil Service, and no decision has yet been reached.

Beer Duty

77.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were, for the financial years ending 31st March, 1914, and 31st March, 1922, the total number of barrels of beer on which duty was paid and the sum received in respect of duty for each year?

The total number of standard barrels of home-made beer on which duty was paid, and the sums received in respect of duty in the financial years ended 31st March, 1914, and 1922, respectively, were as follow:

Quantities on which duty was paid.Net duty received.
Standard Barrels.£
Year ended 31st March, 1914.35,864,29113,622,971
Year ended 31st March, 1922.24,351,970121,844,583

Income Tax

78.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a British subject is able to escape United Kingdom Income Tax by investing his capital in foreign securities and by living for more than six months in each year of assessment in the Isle of Man, the Channel Isles, or elsewhere outside the United Kingdom; and, if so, if he will say what steps the Government propose to prevent this method of tax evasion?

The position under the existing law is, broadly speaking, that an individual, whether or not a British subject, is chargeable to Income Tax, as a resident in the United Kingdom, if he resides here for six months or more in any year of assessment, or, if he maintains a residence here, unless he is abroad for the whole year of assessment. Further, a British subject is similarly chargeable if, being usually resident in the United Kingdom, he happens to be abroad temporarily. The question whether or not the British subject in the circumstances described by the hon. Member is liable to United Kingdom Income Tax depends, therefore, upon the facts of the particular case.

Revenue (Tobacco And Beer)

79 and 80.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why the Customs duties on tobacco are estimated to produce only £47,295,000 during the current financial year, although they produced £55,199,000 in the year to 31st March, 1922;

(2) why the Excise duties on beer are estimated to produce only £94,480,000 during the current financial year, although they produced £121,865,000 in the year to 31st March, 1922?

As I explained in my Budget Statement, the reduction in the Budget Estimates of Customs and Excise duties, including the beer and tobacco duties, as compared with last year's receipts, was in part due to the fact that they relate only to Great Britain and Northern Ireland instead of the whole United Kingdom, as previously, and in part to anticipated fall in consumption based on the experience of the previous three or four months.

Canal Bridges (Heavy Traffic)

70.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether his attention has been called to a special notice issued by the Company of Proprietors of Stour-bridge Navigation to the owners and users of locomotives and heavy motor cars to the effect that their canal bridges were built to deal with road traffic, as was usual in 1780, and that they are therefore unable to give permission for their bridges to be used for the passage of locomotives and heavy motor cars; and whether, in view of the serious effect this decision will have in retarding the establishment of an efficient road service, he will take steps to ensure that such bridges are strengthened sufficiently to ensure the safe passage of the ordinary modern vehicle?

My attention has been drawn to the notice referred to. The question of the reconstruction of bridges over canals and railways, which are unequal to the demands of modern road traffic, has for some time been engaging the attention of the Ministry. Every encouragement is given to highway authorities to submit schemes for the strengthening or reconstruction of such bridges, in conjunction with the companies or persons responsible for their maintenance, and I am prepared to entertain applications for grants from the Road Fund towards the expenditure to he incurred on approved schemes of this nature.

Telephone Subscribers (Deposits)

73.

asked the Postmaster-General what was the total sum, on 31st March last, of the deposits in his hands in respect of subscribers' accounts for telephone services; and what is the justification for this system of deposits in the case of local authorities, the risk of whose default is negligible?

The total amount held on deposit at the 31st March, 1922, was £1,441,000. The deposit usually represents approximately two-thirds of the credit given for calls, and the present system of payment is more favourable to subscribers than the previous arrangement, under which all local calls were paid for in advance and trunk calls, against which a deposit was held, monthly in arrear. Deposits are required, not merely as security, but in order to finance the service during the period for which credit is given.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not a fact that the ratepayers use the interest on this money?

If that be a fact, the fact that we are giving credit for a much larger amount than the amount on deposit is a fair set-off.

Is it a fact that the right hon. Gentleman's Department demand a deposit from a good many local authorities to whom his Department owe large sums of money; does lie not think that that is somewhat unfair; and will he not look into it?

Near East (Alleged Massacres)

( by Private Notice)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a telegram from the Patriarch of Constantinople, dated 10th June, announcing that two massacres of Christian women and children have taken place at the Pontus; that a fortnight ago 1,300 women and children from Samsoun were forcibly removed to the interior and were all massacred near Kayak; and whether he has any confirmation of these massacres from the British authorities on the spot?

I understand my hon. Friend did not receive notice of this question in time, though I sent it very early—