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Commons Chamber

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 14 June 1922

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 14th June, 1922.

The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Private Business

Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 10) Bill,

Read a Second time, and committed.

Caledonian Railway Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under The Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to the Caledonian Railway," presented by Mr. MURNO; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered To-morrow.

Buckhaven And Leven Gas Provisional Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under The Private Legislation (Scotland) Act, 1399, relating to Buckhaven and Leven Gas," presented by Mr. MUNRO; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to he considered To-morrow.

Oral Answers To Questions

Royal Navy

Engine-Room Artificers

5.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether provision will be made to secure for all service-trained engine-room artificers, i.e., ex-engine-room artificer apprentices who are discharged on reduction, a certificate which shall be equal to an indenture of apprenticeship, so as to give them a fair chance to obtain employment on shore?

A trade certificate, giving the nature of the training, qualifications at mined, and the length of service, is issued to engine-room artificers on discharge, and this should meet all requirements.

Will the Admiralty negotiate with the trade unions so as to make sure that such a certificate will be accepted by them as full qualification for membership of a trade union?

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember the difficulties which have existed as regards ex-soldiers and sailors in relation to trade unions, and will he, in view of that;, negotiate the arrangement I have suggested?

6.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Admiralty will consider the advisability, in view of their discharge under the reduction scheme, to include the certificate allowances in the substantive pay of chief and engine-room artificers as a basis for assessing gratuities?

The gratuities are calculated on substantive pay in all cases, without regard to non-substantive pay or allowances, and no reason is seen for making an exception in favour of one branch of the Service.

Engineer Lieutenants

7.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Admiralty will reconsider the terms under which engineer lieutenants promoted from warrant rank by seniority are to retire under Admiralty Fleet. Orders; and whether these officers can be given the same retiring privileges as those given to engineer lieutenants from warrant rank who were promoted, without regard to seniority, to fill vacancies created during the stress of war?

The engineer lieutenants from warrant rank promoted under special schemes during the War were specially selected for promotion from among officers recommended by the Fleet, and being, in general, promoted at an earlier age than those promoted for long and zealous service, will have sacrificed considerably greater prospects financially by being retired compulsorily now instead of serving until the age of 55. The Admiralty considered, therefore, that a case existed for giving these officers special treatment in fixing the terms to be given to lieutenants promoted from warrant rank, and they see no reason for extending to other officers the special rates of retired pay given in their case.

Rio De Janeiro Exhibition

8.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a Japanese squadron is to visit Rio de Janeiro in honour of the forthcoming exhibition; whether, in view of the withdrawal of the South-east Coast of America squadron and to the importance of the occasion, the Admiralty will reconsider their decision not to send a representative squadron to those waters from Bermuda; and whether he can state what the actual cost would be?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, the Admiralty consider that adequate representation could not be secured by the despatch of a squadron composed of less than two battle cruisers. The cost of this, however, would amount to £50,800, as previously stated on 31st May in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for West Derby. The decision that, under the circumstances, a representative squadron could not be sent was made with much regret.

Do we understand that the Admiralty no longer take the view that trade follows the flag?

Does the £50,000 imply that no money can be spent on fuel on those ships?

No; I understand that the £50,000 represents the additional cost of taking the two battle cruisers away over and above what would have been spent otherwise.

Lieutenant-Commanders

9.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether all the lieut.-commanders promoted to the rank of commander on the 31st March last, and antedated to 31st December last, have been paid at commander's rate of pay as from the date of their promotion; if not, whether the reason can be stated; and, in view of the altogether exceptional circumstances, if the payment of the difference of pay to these officers can be authorised forthwith?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The position of those officers who received lieut.-commanders' pay only between the 31st December, 1921, and the 31st March, 1922, owing to their being in posts specifically laid down for officers of that rank, is under consideration.

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "under consideration," and have any of these officers been paid commanders' pay?

In the case of those who have been in lieut.-commanders' posts and have received lieut.-commanders' pay during that period and have not so far received the difference between that and commanders' pay the question whether it is possible to pay them that difference and treat them as having been commanders is under consideration at this moment.

Ranker Officers

12.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that when paymasters and surgeons were reduced in numbers some time back the age limit was applied gradually; and if he can see his way to apply this rule to those ranker officers over 50 years of age who otherwise must be thrown out forthwith, seeing that the effect of the present proposals will embitter these gentlemen and injure the senior Service?

In the case of the medical and accountant officers referred to, the reduction in the age of compulsory retirement was made, not as a means of reducing the numbers borne, but as part of an arrangement for bringing the Regulations in those branches into line with the Regulations in the other' branches of the Service. The circumstances, therefore, differed entirely from those existing at present, since it is now necessary, in the interests of economy, to make an immediate reduction of the num- bers borne to those required, and it is impossible, therefore, to spread the reduction of age over a number of years as previously.

Commissioned Gunners

13.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if, seeing that promotion from commissioned gunner to lieutenant is really automatic for commissioned gunner with a clean sheet, and that it is unfair to retire these gentlemen at 50 instead of 55 when a known number would have reached maximum pay and rank at. 55, he will reconsider the matter?

Promotion from commissioned gunner to lieutenant is made in vacancies and is not automatic. The Admiralty, therefore, were unable to take into account, in fixing the rate of retired pay to be given under the retirement scheme, the possibility that such promotion would have occurred at a later date before the officer reached the age of 55.

Is not promotion really automatic, and can it not be foretold with fair precision?

With a Navy which is being generally reduced, the number of vacancies will not be increased in the normal scale.

14.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that the rates of pay and pension of commissioned gunners and those promoted lieutenants are so drawn that the maximum is reached at or near 55 years of age, and that now the entire basis on which the pay and pension were computed has been altered by taking off five years, and that it is not under the new scheme possible to reach the maximum or anything near it; and if he can so arrange that the maximum be reached at 50 years of age?

Under existing Regulations, it is only in rare cases that the maximum rates of pay and retired pay are reached by lieutenants from warrant rank on retirement at the age of 55. In the small minority of cases in which officers do not reach the rank of lieutenant before retirement, the possibility of reaching the maximum rate of pay and retired pay of a commissioned officer from warrant rank will still exist, except where the officer is promoted at a late age in branches where the 10-year rule applies. The Admiralty do not consider it necessary to make special provision for such cases, the number of which will be very small. I would also refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply of the 29th May on the same subject.

Since the number is so very small, will the right hon. Gentleman see if he can evolve some scheme which will be fairer to these ranker officers?

We endeavour in our scheme to be fair to everyone; but the difficulties are not altogether so easy to surmount.

French Naval Programme

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he can state the number of vessels in the new French naval programme which war has shown to be capable of use for attacking commerce; and whether he can give the number of each class of vessel in this naval programme and the approximate cost?

The total number of vessels in the new French programme is 34. This number is made up of

  • 3 Light Cruisers.
  • 6 Flotilla Leaders.
  • 12 Destroyers.
  • 12 Submarines.
  • 1 Aeroplane Carrier.
The estimated cost of each vessel is not known, but a credit of 755,000,000 francs (or £30,200,000 at par) has been voted for the construction of the whole programme.

Admiralty (Salaries)

11.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty bow many officials at the Admiralty are now in receipt of salaries of £1,000 per annum and over?

The number of officials in receipt of basic salaries of £1,000 per annum and over is 39. The number whose present total remuneration, i.e., salary plus bonus, is £1,000 and over is 97. This number will, of course, decrease as the cost of living falls.

Russia (Mrs Stan Harding)

3.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further action has been taken by the Secretary of State with regard to the wrongful imprisonment of Mrs. Stan Harding by the Russian Soviet Government since the note verbale of 4th January, 1922, from the British Agent to the Assistant Commissary for Russian Foreign Affairs, stating that His Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs could not accept the reply of the Soviet Government in justification of the incident or of the refusal of the Soviet Government to grant compensation to Mrs. Stan Harding, as demanded by the British Secretary of State; and whether it is proposed to continue to negotiate trade and other agreements with the Russian Soviet Government until the redress demanded by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for this outrage on a British citizen who was given a safe conduct by the Russian Soviet Government has been obtained?

Since the note of the 4th of January, the correspondence on this matter has been published in a White Paper. For the rest I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Prime Minister to his question of the 29th May.

Is it not a very unusual procedure for His Majesty's Government, when demanding reparation for a gross outrage to a British subject, to inform the reign Government that if reparation be not made, all that will be done by His Majesty's Government is that information will be given to the Press?

I do not know about that, but the matter is under the immediate and constant attention of the Government, and we hope still to obtain redress.

Samsljn (Bombardment)

4.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been called to a bombardment of Samsun by the Greek fleet and the destruction of noncombatant property; and whether, seeing that the neutrality of the Bhosphorus and the Dardanelles has been proclaimed by the Allied Powers, he is prepared to make any statement as to the action of the Greek fleet and the consent of the Allies?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The object of the attack appears to have been the destruction of stocks of munitions of war which are known to have been arriving at that port from Russia. His Majesty's Government have no information regarding the destruction of non-combatant property. The neutrality of the Straits zone, which has been maintained by the Allies since 10th August last in regard to the Greco-Turkish conflict, does not affect the passage of belligerent vessels through those waters. The Allies were not notified of the Greek intention to carry out the present bombardment and there is no question of their consent thereto.

What does the word "neutrality" mean, if armed forces are allowed to go through the so-called neutral zone.

I have given my hon. Friend the proper interpretation of the actual position. Should he require further illumination on the subject, perhaps he will put down a question.

I should think that is highly improbable. I have no information to that effect whatever.

Unemployment

Trade Dispute Disqualification (Committee)

15.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is now in a position to state the composition of the ad hoc Committee which he promised to set up to inquire into the possibility of framing amending legislation whereby the innocent victims of a trade dispute should not be debarred from receiving the unemployed pay to which they had been compelled to contribute when at work?

The composition of the Committee is as follows:

Chairman:

Sir Thomas Munro.

Members:

Employers' side:

  • My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Sir Allan Smith).
  • Sir Henry Holloway.
  • My hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Sir Thomas Robinson).
  • Sir Andrew Duncan.

Workers' side:

  • My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham West (Mr. Hayday).
  • Mr. Arthur Pugh.
  • Mr. Arthur Shaw.
  • Mr. A. H. Smethurst.

Ministry of Labour:

  • Sir David Shackleton.
  • Mr. T. W. Phillips.

And the terms of reference are—

"to examine the working of the trade dispute disqualification for unemployment benefit as contained in Section 87 (1) of the National Insurance Act, 1911, and Section 8 (1) of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, and to consider whether any, and if so what, modifications should be made therein."

Can the right hon. Gentleman encourage the Committee to meet promptly, so that if legislation be recommended, it can take place without delay?

I said when I promised the Committee that it was very doubtful indeed whether it could deal with such a complicated question in such a way as to make it possible for us to legislate this Session.

Fishermen

16.

asked the Minister of Labour the approximate number of unemployed fishermen of all classes in the British Isles and the average amount paid weekly in unemployed benefit; and can he state the number of share fishermen who are not eligible for unemployed benefit?

19 and 20.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) the approximate number of share fishermen in the British Isles who are exempt from the Unemployment Insurance Act; whether he proposes to take any steps to bring such men within the scope of the Act;

(2) the approximate number of unemployed fishermen of all classes in the British Isles; and what is the weekly amount of unemployment benefit paid to them during the past three months?

On 22nd May about 3,000 fishermen in Great Britain insured under the Unemployment Insurance Acts were unemployed. The amount paid in benefit for the week commencing on that date was about £1,550 and for the previous three months averaged about £1,920 weekly. I cannot state the total number of fishermen unemployed or the number of share fishermen not eligible for benefit. But the number of fishermen insured represents about 35 per cent. of the number in the industry. Share fishermen could not be brought within the Act without fresh legislation. I am not prepared to introduce such legislation at the present time.

Women

21.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of women who before the War were in domestic employment; and, if he cannot, will he state the total number of women receiving unemployment pay?

According to the Census of 1911 the number of women aged 18 and upwards employed in domestic indoor service in Great Britain at the date of the Census was about 1,200,000. On 6th June, 1922, the total number of women wholly unemployed and in receipt of unemployment benefit was under 57,500, all of whom had paid a considerable number of unemployment insurance contributions, or had otherwise shown that they are normally employed in some insured trade among which domestic service is not included.

Land Drainage Scheme

63.

asked the Minister of Agriculture why he ordered that land drainage schemes for the relief of unemployment should be discontinued on the 31st May last; whether he is aware that the Gloucester Agricultural Committee and other county committees have unanimously passed resolutions urging that this useful work should be proceeded with as the summer is the time when the work can be best done, and that the National Farmers' Union have intimated that such a course would not interfere with the supply of labour on the land; and whether, since, taking into account the contributions made by owners and occupiers and the large employment of unskilled labour, expenditure on drainage schemes for the relief of unemployment is more economical and of greater national benefit than the payment of doles, he will reconsider his decision?

The closing of all drainage work unemployed on 31st May was decided upon by His Majesty's Government after full consideration of all the conditions, and was accepted by drainage authorities and County Agricultural Committees as an essential condition when applying for grants from public funds to enable them to carry out schemes. The matter has received constant attention and my right hon. Friend has been able to arrange with His Majesty's Treasury for schemes carried out by County Agricultural Committees to continue to be financed by Government up to 30th June, by which date it is expected that all the schemes which are now in hand will be completed. My right hon. Friend regrets that, as he explained in reply to the hon. Members for the. Forest of Dean and Stroud on the 29th May, the Government is not able to extend the scheme beyond the date mentioned.

Ex-Service Men (Ophthalmic Optical Industry)

22.

asked the Minister of Labour what constitutes the advisory panel for the ophthalmic optical industry and the date of its formation; whether those employed in the industry are represented on the panel; and, if not, whether he will give favourable consideration to giving those employed representation thereon?

An advisory panel for this industry was set up in the London area in March last, and consisted of nine employers representing the manufacturing, jobbing and prescription firms. A similar local panel was set up in Birmingham last month. Employés in the industry are not at present represented on the panels owing to the absence of any organisation from which nominations could be obtained. If any suitable association of the employés in this in- dustry comes into existence I will reconsider the constitution of the advisory panels.

If I send to the right hon. Gentleman the name of an association covering these people, will he consider the point?

23.

further asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there is an acute depression in the jobbing and prescription business of the ophthalmic optical industry, and that ex-service men are being trained for this business under his control without much hope of securing employment at the end of their training; and whether, in view of this state of affairs, he will consider a revision of the whole scheme of training in this connection?

The opinion of the jobbing, prescription and retail branch of the ophthalmic optical trade is that there will be a number of openings for disabled men. Some 16 vacancies have already been offered. Disabled men will only be trained for this industry in as far as vacancies are available for them in workshops.

Housing

Completed Houses

26.

asked the Minister of Health the number of houses now completed under the Housing Acts of 1919; the number in the course of construction; and the total number which will be erected when the Government's housing programme under the 1919 Acts is completed?

The number of houses completed by local authorities, public utility societies and private builders under the State-aided housing schemes on the 1st June was 149,207; and in addition 3,079 dwellings had been provided by the conversion of huts and hostels. The number of houses in course of construction by local authorities and public utility societies is 40,970, and preliminary certificates have been issued to private builders for 8,846 houses which, to qualify for subsidy, must be completed by 23rd instant. The total number of houses to be erected by local authorities and public utility societies under the scheme is 176,000, to which must be added some 40,000 houses to be built by private builders.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what further steps the Government propose to take to provide the balance of the half million houses promised at the last Election?

I made a speech on the subject yesterday, and my hon. Friend made a long speech, to which, later, I may have some opportunity of replying.

Norwegian Cement

34.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the action of the marketing company of the Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers in excluding from British markets cement produced in Norway under a threat to flood the Norwegian markets with British cement; and, in view of the effect this will have on maintaining the existing high cost of building, whether he will take steps to ensure that British contractors will, as heretofore, be in a position to secure the equally serviceable and less costly cements produced on the Continent?

I have been asked to reply. The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, but if the hon. Member will send me any information he may have on the subject, I will consider it.

Dulwich Estates Scheme (Subsidy)

36.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Dulwich estates governors erected a number of houses under the Government housing scheme and that the estates governors have communicated frequently with his Department asking for payment of the subsidy due from the Government; what is the amount of such subsidy; whether it has been paid; if not, what is the reason for the same being withheld; and, seeing that the estates governors require the subsidy to enable them to carry on their educational work, will he give instructions for the liability to be discharged without further delay?

Payments on account of the annual subsidy payable for the year ended 31st March last were made in June and October of last year. The balance of subsidy due up to the end of that year could not be determined until the accounts had been made up and audited. This has now been done, and the balance due is being paid.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the small amounts he referred to as having been paid up to June and October last year account for a very small number of houses, and seeing that the whole of the houses have been disposed of, and the necessity of the Governors having the money for education purposes, will he take immediate steps to see that they receive the amount due from the Government?

If the hon. Member will read the answer he will see that I said the accounts have now been made up and audited, and the balance due is being paid.

Ware Street, Hoxton

40.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has received a scheme from the London County Council for the clearance of the slum area known as Ware Street, Hoxton; what was the date when such scheme was received; will he state if his Department has approved or disapproved of the scheme; what is the reason for the delay in the decision; and when his Department will inform the London County Council whether they may proceed with this clearance scheme?

A scheme for the clearance of the area referred to was made by the London County Council on the 4th May, 1920, and submitted to the Ministry in July, 1920. Consideration of the scheme was deferred until further progress had been made by the council in the provision of new housing accommodation. Details of the scheme have been discussed with representatives of the Council, and a formal Order confirming the scheme will be issued in a day or two.

Starvation Cases, Durham

27.

asked the Minister of Health if he will give the fol- lowing particulars regarding starvation cases in county Durham in 1920; and whether the deceased persons or, in the case of a baby, its parents applied for relief, or were known to the guardians or their officers, together with such information as was given in the annual lists which were published until 1919, and a full reply of the coroners relating to these eases?

Health Visitors (Salaries)

28.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has received any resolutions of protest against the low salaries being paid to health visitors; whether his Department has any control in this matter; whether he has issued any advice to local authorities on the rates of remuneration for these public servants; and, if so, will he state the nature of this advice?

I would refer the hon. Member to replies which I gave to questions on this subject on 3rd April and 10th May, of which I am sending him copies.

Spontaneous Combustion (Coal Refuse)

29.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider introducing legislation to deal with the dangers arising out of the liability to spontaneous combustion of refuse heaps from coal mines, giving powers to local authorities to prevent the permanent disfigurement of certain areas, to compel colliery owners to take such steps as will effectively prevent such heaps taking fire, and to provide against nuisances arising therefrom?

Local authorities already possess powers under the Public Health Act to proceed against persons responsible for accumulations or deposits which are nuisances or injurious to health, and as at present advised, I doubt whether there is a sufficient ease for further legislation.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not see that though it cannot be proved that these heaps are injurious to health, they may be dangerous to the community and particularly to property?

I should have thought that if they were dangerous to the community, they would probably be injurious to health.

Boards Of Guardians (Financial Position)

31.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial condition in which the Sheffield Board of Guardians find themselves; if he can state whether the board of guardians in question have asked the Government to give permission for the raising of a loan or overdraft up to £60,000, to be repaid by 30th September; whether the total indebtedness of the union is £150,000; and if he will take action in the matter?

I am aware of the financial situation of the Sheffield Union and, with a view to assisting the guardians I have sanctioned a loan of £300,000, the repayment of which is to be spread over a period of five years. I have also authorised certain overdrafts pending the collection of the current rates.

32.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial position in which the Cannock Chase Guardians find themselves; that they have decided to suspend for three months their compulsory orders against miners for the repayment of relief on loan given out last year during the coal stoppage and if he will take action in the matter?

I do riot think that the financial position of this board of guardians is so serious as the hon. Member suggests, and I have no information as to the second part of the question, but I will make inquiries. I have authorised the guardians to borrow by way of overdraft a sum of £9,000 for the purpose of meeting their current expenditure.

When is the Prime Minister going to deal with the whole question of guardians, which he promised to do?

33.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the desperate financial position of the Blaina Board of Guardians; that the assistant overseer said he did not expect to collect more than 28 per cent. of the rates of this half-year and that over 100 persons had to mortgage property to pay the last rate; if he can state the total rate in the £ for Poor Law purposes and the total rate levied for all purposes for Blaina; and if he will take action in the matter?

I presume the hon. Member has in mind the Nantyglo and Blaina Urban District. An investigation of the position is being made by officials of my Department and a deputation from the District Council is being seen this week. The total rate in the £ for the urban district for the current half-year is 12s. 9d. (exclusive of the water rate), of which 4s. is for Poor Law purposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious position in which all boards of guardians find themselves, and is he aware that in some localities there are as many as 175 per 1,000 of the population on Poor Law relief? Is the Government prepared to take any steps to remedy the serious position in which the guardians find themselves?

As the hon. Member is aware, I have been dealing with this question for a long time, and am in constant touch with the boards of guardians. If the necessity arises, I facilitate loans for a period to help them over the difficulty in which they find themselves at the present time. I am glad to say that, contrary to certain fears expressed, the applications for loans have been on a smaller scale than had been anticipated.

Is it not time that the right hon. Gentleman got in front of the question and did not follow it?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the loans advanced to various local authorities are exhausted in about six months, and they find themselves in the same economic position as before?

Poplar (Outdoor Relief)

38.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Poplar guardians have made a practice of giving outdoor relief to parents whose children are receiving free meals from the education authority, and in doing so have taken no account of the assistance given by way of meals, and that the guardians have refused to furnish any particulars of the cases in which relief has been duplicated in this way; and if he will state whether, seeing that such action is contrary to the principle of the Act empowering education authorities to feed necessitous children, his Department propose to take the matter up with the guardians?

Casual Wards, Durham (Stone Pounding)

39.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in the case of Rex v. Baddeley a London stipendiary magistrate declared that a task of stone pounding imposed in a casual ward governed by the general order of 18th December, 1892, was illegal; that the Local Government Board or its President or the Minister of Health subsequently to this decision made such a task legal in various unions; whether he will now state the names of the unions (if any) in the county of Durham in which it was so made legal, and the dates at which it was legalised in each such union; whether he will cause the casual wards in Durham county and their methods of administration to be examined to see whether proper sleeping accommodation and suitable bed clothing has been supplied in all the Durham county casual wards; whether there is any severity of task of work, strictness of detention, defect of dietary, or harshness of administration likely to account for persons dying of starvation or privation instead of applying for Poor Law relief; whether the Regulations as to giving a mid-day meal to casual paupers on the day of discharge are complied with, and also, in cases where it is not given, are the reasons entered in the admission and discharge book in all the unions of Durham county; and, if not, which union or unions is or are in default?

The hon. Member has mistaken the effect of the judgment referred to. The task of work in question would have been perfectly legal if the guardians had passed the necessary Resolution and obtained the necessary approval. I will make inquiries into the other matters referred to, but the information which I have obtained in response to the hon. Member's request does not support the suggestion that the deaths from starvation or privation in the county are attributable to any defect in the administration of the Poor Law.

Water Supply (England And Wales)

41.

asked the Minister of Health whether the attention of his Department has been drawn to the prospective shortage of water in the district supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board if the present drought continues; whether he has taken any action in order to urge on the Water Board the necessity of providing for London's water supply; if so, will he state what action has been taken; and if he proposes to take any further steps in order to protect water consumers in the Metropolitan area?

I am keeping in close touch with the Metropolitan Water Board, who fully appreciate the position and are taking all possible precautions. At present there is no shortage, nor, having regard to the available supplies, is the situation likely to become generally serious, even if the drought should continue. It is important, of course, that, in view of the very exceptional spell of dry weather which has been experienced, the public should exercise all reasonable care in the use of water.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is any amount of water in Wales, and cannot facilities be given to bring that water to various parts of the country?

42.

asked the Minister of Health whether a water shortage is anticipated this year; if so, in what localities and to what extont; and what action is being taken by His Majesty's Government?

There is at present no serious shortage of water supplies generally, although some places are already in difficulties. The conditions differ greatly even in neighbouring districts, but the outlook, if the drought continues, is least satisfactory in the south and south-east. My Department are assisting authorities who are, or are likely to be, in difficulties. I will send the hon. Member a copy of a circular which was issued in March last.

Has any progress been made, and if so to what extent, with regard to the general inquiry into the water supply of England and Wales?

As my right hon. Friend knows, there is a general inquiry going on. I do not think that I can tell him exactly what progress has been made, but a very careful survey is being made of the water supply and the sources of water supply of the country.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since Birmingham got its water supply from Wales, there has been no shortage?

Sudan (Status)

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether discussions on the status of the Sudan in relation to Egypt have now taken place whether the situation has now been precisely defined; whether he is aware that the uncertainties of the position have for some time past been causing grave uneasiness ad dislocation in business circles, by whom large sums have been invested towards the economic development of the Sudan, and that the fact that the question was under discussion has caused apprehension as to the security of their invested capital; and whether he will make an early statement on the subject?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the remainder I would remind the hon. and gallant Member of the categorical statement made by the Prime Minister on the 28th February last that His Majesty's Government cannot agree to any change in the status of that country (the Sudan) that would in the slightest degree diminish the security for the many millions of British capital which are already invested in its development—to the great advantage of the Sudan.

Imperial Conferences, 1917–18 (Reports)

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether a full report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conferences of 1917 and 1918 can now be published?

Extracts from minutes of proceedings and papers laid before the Imperial War Conference of 1917 and 1918 were published as Parliamentary Papers in May, 1917, and October, 1918. As at present advised, I do not think that the time has yet come for considering the question of publishing full reports, which would, in any event, necessitate detailed examination of the proceedings by His Majesty's Government and reference to all the Dominion Governments represented at the Conferences. The decision to publish, if taken at all, could be properly taken only by the Imperial Conference as a whole.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the decisions of these two Conferences do not now form the basis of policy, not only in this country, but in many of the Dominions, and how can public opinion be properly informed unless the public get something more than the bald publication which has already been made?

These Conferences were in the nature of. Cabinet Councils, and for their full usefulness the secrecy usually attaching to the proceedings of Ministers in Council must be observed. I do not think that the time has come when these proceedings should he published in full, if, indeed, as I say, that time should ever come, until the historian deals with that period.

Have not the Blue Books published in reference to earlier Conferences been the means of giving information to the public as to matters on which policy is now based?

In the years between the earlier Imperial Conferences an' the later meetings, such as those of 1917 and 1918, immense strides forward have been made, and the matters taken into consideration at the later Conferences were in many eases of a much more confidential character, but even as regards the earlier Conferences I think that particular discussions were not published.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be better for the world at large if there were less secrecy among Ministers in all countries?

No. I think that the complaint made yesterday was that the Cabinet Secretariat prepared for publication matters which ought to be kept confidential. Without accepting that charge, I think that the proceedings of councils of Ministers, whether in this country alone, or in other parts of the Empire, when in council, should be in private.

House Of Lords

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will introduce at an early date and pass through all its stages a Bill amending the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which will enable peeresses in their own right to sit and vote in the House of Lords?

The question whether peeresses in their own right should sit and vote in the House of Lords was fully debated during the passage through Parliament of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919, and the House of Lords on more than one occasion declined to accept proposals that the Bill should enable them to sit. I have every reason to suppose that the House of Lords would, if a Bill were presented to them, adhere to the opinion which they then held, and I should not think myself justified in the present state of Parliamentary business in introducing legislation which would, in my opinion, have no chance of passing into law.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the admission of women into the House of Lords should be included in the proposals for the reform of the House of Lords which are shortly to be laid before the House?

I will not give that pledge, but obviously any proposals for the reform of the House of Lords will raise the question whether women will be eligible or not.

If the right hon. Gentleman agrees with the generally expressed idea that wives are the greatest help-mates of man, would he not agree that women should be allowed to sit in the House of Lords?

50.

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the postponement of the discussion on the House of Lords' Resolutions owing to the illness of Lord Curzon, whether the Government will publish the Resolutions at once so as to obtain the full benefit of discussion in the public Press and elsewhere?

Does the right hon. Gentleman think there is much good in reforming the House of Lords unless at the same time he will do something to alter the relations between the two Houses?

No, Sir. I think there would be no use in doing the one without the other.

Am I right in saying that the Government policy, as outlined in reference to the Prime Minister's speech on Genoa, is to have criticism first and to make a reply afterwards Would they not like to hear the criticisms first before making speeches?

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to introduce a Bill for the purpose of altering the relations between the two Houses?

No, Sir. The Government have already stated that they propose to proceed in the first instance by Resolution—a Resolution affording, as we hope, ground of agreement on which to found a Bill.

Would it not be advantageous to have the criticisms first and then for the leaders in the House of Lords to make their speeches?

Perhaps I am perplexed by the introduction of Genoa. This is a reference merely to the Resolution in the House of Lords. It appears to the Government that it would be con- venient that, as soon as possible after the tabling of the Resolution in the House of Lords, the preliminary discussion in the House of Lords should take place, in which the Leader of the House can explain the views of the Government in relation to the Resolution.

May we expect the Resolution to be introduced in another place before the end of the present Session?

Oh, yes, Sir; certainly. I cannot give a day at the present moment, but communications are proceeding or are about to take place between the representatives of the Government in the other House and leading Members of that House as to the date and the circumstances in which the Resolution should be moved.

May we expect that event to take place within a month from now, or before the end of June?

I cannot say definitely. What I said a couple of days ago was that I had some reason to believe that leading Members in the House of Lords would wish the Resolution to be moved by the Leader of that House, if that be possible. That would involve a certain delay, and the communications will be directed to ascertaining whether the general sense of the other place is in favour of waiting till my Noble Friend, Lord Curzon, can speak—whether that House would prefer to wait for him, or whether they would prefer an earlier day, when the Resolution would have to be in the hands of another of my colleagues.

Will it be before the Autumn Recess? [HON. MEMBERS: "That has been answered!"]

Ireland

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—

New Member Sworn

Brigadier-General HOWARD CLIFTON BROWN, for the County of Berks (Newbury Division).

Selection (Standing Committees)

Standing Committee B

SIR SAMUEL ROBERTS reported from the Committee of Selection; That they had discharged the following Members from Standing Committee B: Mr. Foot, Mr. Hayward, Mr. Reid, and Lieut.-Colonel Royds; and had appointed in substitution: Mr. Briant, Mr. Kenyon, Colonel Sir Alexander Sprat, and Sir Douglas Newton.

Report to lie upon the Table.

Merchant Shipping (Venereal Disease) (No 2) Bill

Order for Second. Reading To-morrow read, and discharged; Bill withdrawn.

Orders Of The Day

Law Of Property Bill Lords

As amended ( in the Standing Committee), considered.

In view of a communication I have received from the Solicitor-General, I do not propose to move the new Clause standing in my name on the Order Paper (Amendment of 27 & 28 Vie., c. 114, is. 25 & 26).

New Clause—(Alimentary Trusts)

  • (1) Where any income (including an annuity or other periodical income payment) is directed to he held on alimentary trusts for the benefit of any person (in this Section called "the principal beneficiary") for the period of his life or for any less period then during that period (in this Section called the "trust period") the said income shall, without prejudice to any prior interest, be held on the following trusts, namely:—
  • Upon trust for the principal beneficiary during the trust period or until he (whether before or after the termination of any prior interest) does or attempts to do or suffers any act or thing or until any event happens (other than an advance under any statutory or express power) whereby if the said income were payable during the trust period to the principal beneficiary absolutely during that period he would be deprived of the sight to receive the sense or any part thereof, in any of which cases, as well as on the termination of the trust period, which first happens, this trust of the said income shall fail or determine;
  • (ii) If the trust aforesaid fails or determines during the subsistence of the trust period, then, during the residue of that period, the said income shall be held upon trust for the application thereof for the maintenance, support, or otherwise for the benefit of all or any one or more exclusively of the other or others of the principal beneficiary and his or her wife or husband, if any, and his or her children or more remote issue, if any, as the trustees in their absolute discretion, without being liable to account for the exercise of such discretion, think fit, or, if there shall be no wife, husband, or issue of the principal beneficiary in existence, then for the maintenance, support, or otherwise for the benefit of all or any one or more exclusively of the other or others of the principal beneficiary and the persons who would, if he were actually dead, he entitled to the trust property or the income thereof or of the annuity fund, if any, or arrears of the annuity, as the case may be, as the trustees in their absolute discretion, without being liable to account as aforesaid, think fit.
  • (2) This Section only applies to trusts coming into operation after the commencement of this Act, and shall have effect subject to any variation of the implied trusts aforesaid contained in the instrument creating the trust.
  • (3) Nothing in this Section shall operate to validate any trust which, if contained in the instrument creating the trust, would be liable to be set aside.—[Mr. Dennis Herbert.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    T beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The object of this very long Clause is to be able to express in simple words what are alimentary trusts, and to be enabled to include in a document, by means of the simple words "alimentary trusts," certain provisions usual in our practice at the present time which are set out in the proposed new Clause. It is a Clause to deal with money which is settled for the benefit of some persons who, in ordinary language, are not to be trusted with money, and the only way to do that at present is to give discretionary powers to the trustees, under which they, in effect, allow money to the beneficiary from week to week or month to month, as the case may be. I am sure some of my Scottish Friends in the House will be gratified that we have been able to find at least something in Scottish law that is worthy of being copied in this country. This simply brings into English law what. I believe, is commonly known in Scotland as an alimentary trust.

    I have carefully considered this proposed new Clause in consultation with those who understand the subject a great deal better than I do, and I am satisfied, from what I have been told, that this is a Clause which I ought to recommend the House to accept. It is purely permissive. It follows what is a. common form in English documents today, and, as the hon. Member who moved it said, it is well recognised in Scottish Law. If the cautious folk across the Border think the Clause is safe, and, after experience, have adhered to it as part of their law, I do not think we shall he very rash in accepting it.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Clause I—("Legal Estates" And "Equitable Interests," And Repeal Of The Statute Of Uses)

    (4) A. legal estate shall not be capable of subsisting or of being created in an undivided share in land, and in this Part of this Act "land" does not include an undivided share therein unless the context so requires.

    I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (4).

    Perhaps I may be allowed to explain shortly the situation with regard to undivided shares in land. There are two kinds of shares in freehold land. One is what is called a "tenancy in common," and the other a "joint tenancy." The meaning of the words "tenancy in common" is that each owner possesses the entirety of the whole land, and if any one of them dies, that share of the land passes to his executors or trustees. Each owner, as it were, is entitled to the whole of the freehold land. The meaning of "joint tenancy" is altogether different..Each is entitled to the whole land, but upon the death of one it passes to the survivors. It is proposed to do away with the whole of the tenancy in common, that is, the undivided shares in land, and' that, I suggest, is a mistake. I see no reason why this old law, which, I venture to say, works so satisfactorily, should be done away with by this Bill. There is an impression abroad that you will be able to transfer land on the same principle that you transfer stocks and shares, but that, I think, has been proved to he a fallacy. So great an authority as Lord Haldane has said that it cannot be placed on the same footing, and as that, except for the point I will mention in a moment, is the only sound argument for doing away with these undivided shares in land, I think I am right in the view I hold that these undivided shares, shared in common, should be allowed to remain part of our law.

    Let me give the reasons. If more than two persons purchase land, and it is conveyed to them, each becomes legally possessed of the whole, and no legal dealings can take place with the land without the consent of all the persons if one dies, his share passes to the executors or trustees, and it is a powerful security. Each person can mortgage his share in the land, and transfer the legal ownership to the mortgagee, and it forms a splendid security. Now if this tenancy in common be done away with, and it is turned into a joint tenancy, then trustees will be set up, if you wish to have separate ownership, and here is my first very strong point. It is a great mistake and disadvantage, that instead of having one simple deed, you have in the one case to have a deed conveying absolute ownership, which will pass under joint tenancy, instead of having that firm security which the other will give. In cases of partnership this is very important. Of course, in a well-drawn partnership deed, you set out trusts in the partnership, but lots of enterprising people, and young people in a small way, start business and become successful. They buy land, and have it conveyed to two or three of them, and it is conveyed as tenants in common. They, perhaps, have no partnership deed at all. The matter is too small, or, if they have a partnership deed, it is an imperfect one.

    4.0 P.M.

    What happens? These young persons prosper. They buy land, and for a long time—perhaps altogether through their career, until they get fairly well advanced in age—there is no deed of trust set up. That tenancy in common, the method of transferring the land by that principle, is the finest security these young people could have. Instead of that, you now convert these undivided shares into a joint tenancy, and the trust, as I say, will have to be created, and, if at the time of the passing of this Act, there are a number of cases in which there are these tenancies in existence, they become ipso facto converted into joint tenancies, and they pass over to the survivors. And so you alter this whole system which has proved so satisfactory for a long time. Under the Bill, all these undivided shares will no longer become legal. They will become equitable. They will automatically become transferred to trustees, and, if more than four persons are owners of the estate of the tenancy in common the legal estate passes over to the Public Trustee. I do not want to make my points too technical, nor my speech too long, but I do suggest that in connection with this matter the Public Trustee is brought in unnecessarily. I know what my hon. and learned Friend will say. He will say that in the majority of cases it will be only a nominal arrangement, but I think he will find that it will be an arrangement which will not be appreciated if automatically these cases which are set out in detail in this particularly complicated Bill and especially in the Third Schedule pass over to the Public Trustee as trustee. What is the objection? I know what my hon. and learned Friend will say. He will say that the objection to this is that sometimes people who own these undivided shares go to the Court because they cannot agree. They agree all very well when things are prosperous and when there is no necessity to interfere with the arrangement, but, when there is trouble, when perhaps there is a death, or when there are cantankerous people, sometimes they have to go to the Court with a partition action. May I say that the number of partition actions has been very much exaggerated? I have been in practice as a solicitor for 44 years, and I suppose that it will hardly be credited when I say that during the whole of that time I have never had occasion to go to the Court with a partition action. I do not think that my experience is singular. I think it will be found that there are a large number of practitioners who have been as long in practice as I have and who have not had a partition action. If things go wrongly, people get litigious and go to the Court. Different rights are represented in the action, and a great deal of expense is incurred. That expense is unwarranted, and I think the Judges of the High Court ought to do what they can to stop the waste of money in costs which are incurred unnecessarily and without any justification in these partition actions. How is that to be done? Either by a, sale of the land, which is often ordered to get over the difficulty, or by taking other measures to settle the questions which arise in connection with these partition actions Many persons are represented in these partition actions who ought not to be represented. If it were desired to meet this system, which is a very efficient system and has worked so satisfactorily and so long for the benefit of people who go and speculatively buy a piece of land jointly, it would not be a difficult job for the draftsmen of this Bill to make arrangements by which the difficulties could be got over and the matter settled.

    There is one other point in connection with partition actions. I put down a question as to the number of partition actions which had been entered during specified years, mentioning the three years before the War and the last three years. The answer was that it was impossible to get the information because it would involve such an amount of trouble that they could not undertake it. Why is it that there is an impression among certain people that there are a large number of partition actions? It arises in this way. The matter comes up for the consideration of the Court again and again, and, too often, it is shelved and put aside. People think that there have been a dozen actions when all the while there has been only one. There cannot be any doubt in my mind as an old practitioner that, where these is a desire on the part of the legislature to do away with burdensome expense it is our duty to do so, hut, on the other hand, where it is desired, as I think it is desired here, that a system of conveyancing, and of ownership and of transfer, which is so beneficial and works so satisfactorily as does this system of tenancy in common, should continue to exist, I think it is a pity that, it should be done away with.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    Only a word is needed from me to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. I would call the attention of the Solicitor-General to the fact that this proposal was not contained in the Real Property and Conveyancing Bills introduced from time to time by Lord Haldane. In none of those earlier Bills was this proposal. It first appeared in the Bill of 1920, so that it is not an essential part of the scheme for the alteration of the real property law. It is a later suggestion, and I submit that is not a wise suggestion. The holding of property in common is quite a usual form of procedure. It has been adopted in hundreds and thousands of cases throughout this country, and the fact that it has been adopted in so many cases is, surely, a very strong argument for its continuance. All over the country partners have acquired property in this way, and it will come to them with very great surprise when this Bill comes into operation on 1st January, 1925, to find that they have been deprived of the legal estate in their property; and it will come with even greater amazement to the mortgagees concerned when they learn that, although they have mortgages upon partnership property which is held by tenants in common, their legal estate as mortgagees has passed entirely out of their hands and that their interest is restricted simply to a claim upon the purchase money on sale. Generally, property that is purchased by partners and held by them in undivided shares is not purchased for speculative purposes but for business or family purposes, and the difficulty, as my hon. Friend says, is that this is an attempt to do the impossible. It is an attempt to assimilate real and personal property and to make the dealing in real property similar to the dealing in stocks and shares. Of course, if stocks and shares are held by half-a-dozen individuals they can be easily divided, but that does not apply to land. Under the Third Schedule the property will become vested in the Public Trustee in a large number of eases. This will apply if there are more than four co-owners, if an owner of any share is not of full age, if an owner is not beneficially entitled, or if there is any undivided share which is not free from encumbrances. A great many properties held as tenancies in common at present will come within one of those four categories; it will bring about an immense change.

    I suggest that the Amendment does not strike at any vital part of the Bill. If undivided shares are allowed to continue the Bill will remain in all its essential features undisturbed. The only effect will be to shorten the Bill and simplify its terms, but, if the Solicitor-General be obliged to insist upon the retention of this Sub-section, it will mean an unnecessary disturbance as coon as the Bill passes into law. I hope, having regard to the fact that it was only a later suggestion and was not contained in the earlier Bill, he may at any rate be able to see his way to drop this Sub-section, carrying with it certain consequential amendments. It will, at any rate, make the Bill so much shorter, and I assure him that the Amendment is not proposed in any obstructive spirit or with any desire to strike at any real, vital part of the Bill, but is genuinely put forward as being a simplifying proposals.

    Sir L. SCOTT