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Written Answers

Volume 155: debated on Monday 19 June 1922

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Written Answers

Boards Of Guardians (Financial Position)

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has completed its investigations as to the financial position of Poor Law guardians in relation to the present unexampled demands for relief; and whether he is able to announce a decision?

My right hon. Friend is receiving a. deputation on this subject to-morrow.

Kent And Essex Railways (Thames Tunnel)

asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the urgent need of a connecting tunnel between Essex and Kent to carry railway and road traffic and to the statement that this would improve traffic with Continental customers, ease congestion in the Metropolis, and link up the North direct with the South; and whether, in view of the present waste of available labour, he will consider this among other schemes to alleviate unemployment?

I have been asked to reply. I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave him on the 8th and 15th May last. I am informed that no such scheme has been submitted by any local authority or other public body with a view to alleviating unemployment.


Cost Of Construction

asked the Minister of Health if, taking a comparison between the cost of building a State-subsidised house in 1919 and in June, 1922, respectively, he can state the percentages of decreased outlay in respect of each item of cost making up the aggregate?

Percentage reduction compared with June, 1919.Percentage reduction compared with September, 1920.
Fall in labour rates would represent2·312·6
Fall in prices of materials would represent9·217·8
Balance to give the actual fall in tender prices, which includes reduction in cost of plant and other overhead charges, profit, remuneration, and the value of increased output36·626·5
Total reduction48·57·
The information available does not enable further sub-division to be made with accuracy between the reductions due to impaired output, decreased profit and lower overhead charges.

Dentistry (Registration)

asked the Minister of Health if a number of young men who have completed an apprenticeship in dentistry are unable to become registered as qualified dentists; and what steps can be taken, if any, as will ensure qualified apprentices entering the profession for which, at considerable trouble and expense, they have been specially trained?

The average price per house of tenders approved in the month ending 1st June, 1922, was £404. This figure shows a reduction of 48 per cent. on the average for June, 1.919, and 57 per cent. on that for September, 1920, the month of the highest average.

Comparing June, 1922, with June, 1919—Per cent.
The average reduction in the rates of wages current is6
The average reduction in the prices of materials is about19
Comparing June, 1922, with September, 1920—
The average reduction in wages rates would be33·5
The average reduction in prices of materials would be37
If a fairly average proportion between the costs of labour, materials and other charges be taken in both cases, the percentage reductions on the price of the cottage due to the above would be as follows:

In the case of persons aprenticed as dental mechanics, there is nothing in the Dentists Act to prevent them continuing to be employed as mechanics, but in future they will not be allowed to practise dentistry unless they are eligible for and succeed in passing the prescribed examination. If the hon. Member refers to pupils of unqualified practitioners, there is no provision for their registration unless they have been engaged in practice before the passing of the Act.

Asylum Patient (Complaint)

asked the Minister of Health whether, during the month of May last, he received a complaint from a university graduate of serious damage done to a patient by an asylum doctor sending reports of suspected fraudulency to the Board of Control; and whether, in the interests of all, he can see his way clear to have an immediate and thorough investigation?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The case has already been fully investigated, and I see no occasion for further inquiry.

Public Halls, Poplar (Political Meetings)

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the action of the Poplar Borough Council in permitting political organisations to use public buildings as offices and committee rooms for propaganda purposes, and to use public notice boards for political announcements; whether an adequate payment is made for such usage; and, if not, will he take steps to prevent the charges for lighting, cleaning, and telephone falling upon the ratepayers, and present an estimate of the cost already incurred by such procedure?

I am informed by the borough council that the Regulations issued by them permit of their public halls being let free of charge to all political parties for meetings, on requisition signed by 20 ratepayers, and that bills announcing political meetings are posted outside the halls in which the meetings are held. I am also informed that no separate accounts are kept of the cost of lighting, cleaning, etc., in connection with such meetings. I have no power to take any action in the matter, except upon an appeal against a decision by the district auditor on the accounts before him at audit.


Surplus Army Officers (Gratuity)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the gratuity granted to surplus officers of the Indian Army on their retirement will be subject to the deduction of Income Tax, either in India or England?

The gratuity granted to surplus officers of the Indian Army on retirement will not be subject to either British or Indian Income Tax.

Railway Material (Continental Contracts)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the serious inconvenience which has been caused to certain Indian railways through delay in the execution of contracts for railway material which have been placed with Continental firms: and will he inquire into this matter?

Purchases of material for Indian railways directly managed by the State are made under the direct orders of the Government of India by the High Commissioner for India, who informs me that he is not aware of any inconvenience of the nature suggested having arisen. As regards railways managed by companies, no case of inconvenience from the cause mentioned has been brought to my notice, but I will make inquiry.

Insulators (Tenders)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to a letter from the Secretary of the National Pottery Workers, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, referring the Indian Stores Department to a statement that advertisements were appearing in German papers for tenders for porcelain and glass insulators; whether the Government are prepared to use the rate of exchange or other things to encourage competition with our home productions; whether he is aware that workers in this country, capable of producing such commodities, are unemployed and in receipt of unemployment pay; whether any orders have been given out to Germany through any merchant to supply such articles to one of the Crown Colonies; and whether he will give the particulars of the transactions referred to?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 15th June to a question asked by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). I am informed by the High Commissioner for India that he has not hitherto found it necessary to advertise directly in Continental papers.

Army Oificers (Marriage Allowance)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the grant of a marriage allowance to the married British officers of the British and Indian Armies serving in India, similar to the grant given to married officers serving at home, can now be approved in principle, in the hope that with a good harvest the financial stringency in India may soon be relaxed and the grant then carried into effect?

No advantage would be gained by considering the question at the present time, but my hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that it will not be lost sight of.


Revenue (Collection)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies who is responsible for the collection of revenue in Southern Ireland; if he has any information as to how much revenue was raised in Southern Ireland during the last financial year; and whether he will ask the Provisional Government in Dublin to supply figures showing the amount of same?

Under Articles 2 and 6 of the Provisional Government (Transfer of Functions) Order, 1922, all functions relating to the assessment, levying arid collection of taxes in Southern Ireland have been transferred to the Provisional Government as from 1st April, 1922. The Customs and Excise revenue attributable to Southern Ireland far the last financial year was approximately £19½ millions and that collected £21½ millions. As far as Inland Revenue is concerned no figure is available. By virtue of Article 14 (1) of the Transfer of Functions Order, the Imperial Revenue Departments are, for the time being, collecting Southern Irish Revenue as paid agents for the Provisional Government.

Friendly Societies' Returns

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in reference to the charge levied on friendly societies making returns, whether the Government will consider an amendment of the Act making permissible the rendering of consolidated returns, in order to lighten labour and to equalise the charge as between societies having many branches and those which are centralised?

This suggestion will be considered among others, although I am inclined to doubt whether it would be practicable to arrange for consolidated returns in the case of societies with separately registered branches, each of which has its own independently audited accounts.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what was the result of the deputation he received in reference to the new charge of 10s. on friendly societies making returns?

The deputation referred to was received by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The representations made by the deputation are under consideration.

Private Companies

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the number of companies now registered at Somerset House which comply with the three following conditions, namely, is registered under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1917, has not more than 50 shareholders, and has not issued any of its shares as a result of a public invitation to subscribe for shares; and what proportion does such number bear to the total number of companies limited by shares and now registered at Somerset House and classed, as live companies?

I have been asked to reply. The total number of companies registered with the Registrar of Companies which are now in operation in England and Scotland, and have a share capital, is approximately 78,000. Of those companies, about 60,000 are private companies within the meaning of the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1917, having not more than 50 shareholders, exclusive of employés, and not having issued an invitation to the public to subscribe for shares.

White City (Labour Conditions)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether any sum has been granted by the Government for the purpose of restoring the White City, and, if so, will he state the amount; whether he is aware that this money is being used under conditions which violate the Fair Wages Clause of the House of Commons; that employment on the work of restoration is confined to members of the British Legion; that men taken on have to sign a form agreeing to the rates of wages paid; that carpenters are doing painters' work, plasterers doing labourers' work, etc.; that the only workmen receiving the proper rates are those engaged on scaffolding, which has been let out to contract; and whether any action can be taken to secure compliance with the Fair Wages Clause?

I have been asked to answer this question. The War Compensation Court awarded to the owners of the White City, in respect of its occupation by the Crown, sums amounting to £358,588 11 s. 6d., exclusive of £3,000 for costs. These amounts have been paid to the owners as directed by the Court. I have no knowledge of the circumstances referred to in the last part of the question.

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Fabric Gloves

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received a protest from the Bolton Chamber of Commerce against the issue of an Order, under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, to include fabric gloves; and, if so, can he make a statement on the subject?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, I propose to make a statement on the subject in due course.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many fabric gloves -were imported from Germany last year?

During the year 1921 the quantities of gloves of textile materials registered as imported into the United Kingdom, consigned from Germany, were as follow:

Dozen pairs.
Gloves of woven fabric:
Gloves (knitted, netted or crocheted goods, including gloves of knitted fabric):
Of cotton or of which the chief value is cotton530,968
Of wool or of which the chief value is wool3,540
Of other textile materials, not woven9,231
It is not possible to separate the quantities of gloves of knitted fabric from knitted, netted or crocheted gloves.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in reference to the several applications he has received from silk manufacturers for the making of an Order imposing a duty on imported silk, he is now in a position to state whether he intends to appoint a Committee to consider this matter?

No primâ facie case has been made out by the applicants for reference to a Committee.

Embroideries And Ladies' Dress Shields

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he has received an application to impose a duty on imported embroideries, and, if so, is he prepared to give an undertaking that, if a Committee is appointed to consider this subject, he will see that some women are appointed on the same;(2) if he has received a request to make an order under the Safeguarding of Industries Act imposing a duty on ladies' dress shields; and, if so, will be, before appointing any Committee, consult representatives of some women's organisations on the subject?

I have already stated in reply to similar questions that I think it undesirable to give information regarding the nature or scope of any particular complaint unless it is referred to a Com- mittee. With regard to the second parts of the questions, I would refer to the answer given to the hon. Member on the 8th May.

Gas Mantles

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can give the date when the Referee announced his decision that a duty of 33⅓ per cent. was payable on certain materials used in the manufacture of gas mantles and the date when this decision was put into force; and, in view of the uncertainty and chaos existing in the trade, can he make an immediate announcement as to what the actual duty payable is on each gas mantle?

The decision of the Referee was signed on the 22nd May, and became operative as from the 25th May. The assessment of duty is a matter for the Commissioners of Customs, who I understand expect to issue in the course of the next few days instructions as to the valuations to be taken for the purpose of assessing duty.


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many half-watt lamps were bought in Holland by British dealers in 1920 and 1921; what the purchase price per lamp was; and at what price these lamps were afterwards sold to the public?

I am unable to state the numbers of half-watt lamps bought in Holland by British dealers in 1920 and 1921. The imports into the United Kingdom of electric glow lamps, gas filled, consigned from the Netherlands, were as follows:

I have no information as to the prices charged to the British public for lamps obtained from Holland.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantities and values of vulcanised fibre imported into this country from the United States of America during the year 1912, 1913, 1914, 1920 and 1921, respectively, and the corresponding figures for as many months of 1922 as are at present available?

The value of "fibre, vulcanised, etc.," imported into the United Kingdom from all countries during each of the year specified in the question was as follows:

I am unable to state the quantities imported, or to distinguish the values imported from the United States of America in any year except 1921. In that year practically the whole of the imports were consigned from the United States. No information is at present available with regard to any months of the year 1922.

Navy, Army And Air Force Instttutes

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute is trading with money which was made as profits by Expeditionary Force canteens; if interest has been paid on this borrowed capital; and when the balance-sheet for the trading of the year 1921 will be issued?

The balance of a loan by the Expeditionary Force Canteens to the Navy and Army Canteen Board is still in the hands of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, but will be available for payment to the United Services Fund as soon as the general question of the disposal of profits arising from War canteen trading is finally settled. The settlement will cover also claims for interest. With regard to the last part of the question, it is hoped that this balance sheet can be completed before the end of the summer.

War Casualties, Palestine And Mesopotamia

asked the Secretary of State for War the total approximate number of men who were employed dining the War in Palestine and in Mesopotamia, respectively, in military operations in those countries; and the total number wounded and killed or died of wounds or disease in each country?

It is not possible to give separate figures for Palestine, but the approximate total number of officers and men employed in Egypt and Palestine during the War was 1,192,511; the number employed in Mesopotamia was approximately 889,702. As regards the last part of the question, the numbers killed, including died of wounds or disease, were 16,366 in Egypt and Palestine, and 31,758 in Mesopotamia; the number wounded were 38,090 and 51,156 respectively.

Civil Aviation

asked the Secretary of State for Air if his attention has been called to the widespread criticism concerning the inefficiency and inadequacy of the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to civil aviation; and when will he take an opportunity to make a statement to the House on this matter?

I have read a great many articles in the Press on the subject of civil aviation, containing an infinite variety of conflicting criticisms and suggestions, and I welcome this indication of increasing public interest in aeronautical subjects. The policy of the Ministry is, as I stated in my speech introducing the Air Estimates, to concentrate on the maintenance of the Continental air services, both in order to give experience, and as a demonstration of what is now possible in competition with the most intense form of rail and sea transport in operation to-day. It is too soon yet to gauge the success, or otherwise, of the present subsidy scheme, as it has only been in operation a. few weeks, but an opportunity can be taken to discuss the whole subject if the House so desire on the Civil Aviation Vote, which is still on the Paper.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware of the decreasing numbers of passengers carried on the London-Paris and other air routes; and what steps are being taken by the Controller of Civil Aviation to increase the safety and efficiency of these services?

The volume of passenger traffic across the Channel is being carefully watched. Actually, for April and May of this year the numbers carried on the London-Paris route were approximately equal to the numbers for those months last year, but there was a considerable decrease during the first two weeks of June. The British lines are carrying a larger proportion of these passengers than was the case last year. About 50 per cent. more aircraft are being employed on the Continental routes, and on an average each of these aircraft is flying more than twice as much as was the case last year. Consequently, more than three times the seating accommodation is available this as compared with last year for approximately the same traffic. An official air route between London and Paris has been settled in consultation with the French and Belgian authorities. A similar air route to Brussels has been selected this week by our experts, but must be referred to the French and Belgians for concurrence. General rules for flying along these and other official routes are being issued. New rules for taking off and landing at Croydon aerodrome have been drawn up and are now in force. All such regulations will be posted in a prominent position on the aerodrome.Periodic conferences between the Air Ministry officials, representatives of operating firms, and pilots actually flying on the cross-Channel air routes are being arranged for the purpose of discussing measures of safety and means of obtaining reliability of service in the future. By means of these meetings, pilots will also be given instructions regarding the care and use of the latest instruments, and kept up to date in the progress of air navigation. A system is being introduced by which a pilot's licence can be endorsed, suspended or withdrawn for acts of neglect, carelessness or dangerous flying. The work of ground engineers licensed by the Air Council will be more closely supervised than formerly and further qualifications in ability to inspect and maintain instruments will shortly be demanded from them. Operating firms are being requested to report fully on all cases of engine failure and engine trouble, and each case will be investigated by experts with a view to eliminating the causes. More stringent rules regarding the use of radio-telephony by pilots are being introduced with the objects of providing more rapid information of weather conditions along the route and of preventing interference between aircraft. A fixed time- table for aircraft flying along the route is being drawn up in order that pilots may know approximately what aircraft are flying near them at any given time. The question as to whether the provision of an assistant pilot should be made compulsory is under consideration. It is a complicated question, and cannot be decided hastily; meanwhile, the carriage of passengers seated beside the pilot has been forbidden.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Widow's Appeal (Mrs Fletcher)

asked the Minister of Pensions the reasons for the delay in the hearing of the appeal of Mrs. Alice Fletcher, of Great Harwood, widow of the late Corporal W. Fletcher, No. 1,228, Coldstream Guards; whether this appeal was lodged against the decision of his Ministry in September last; and whether he will take steps to expedite the hearing?

I regret the delay. Inquiries were being made with a view to establishing the claim; as, however, this has not proved possible, the papers have been forwarded to the tribunal with a request for an early hearing.

Disability Pensions (W Horrooks)

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that Driver W. Horrocks, No. 53,134, Royal Field Artillery, residing at 113, Caroline Street, Wigan, who joined the Regular Army in November, 1908, lost his right eye in 1911 in the execution of his duties as a non-commissioned officer; that he was kept in the Army, and in August, 1914, was sent to serve in France, where he served for 3½ years, when he contracted adenitis and was discharged on 6th May, 1918; and that he was awarded a permanent pension for the loss of his eye of 10s. 6d. per week, which was stopped in June, 1921, because he was in receipt of a pension for disability through service in the Great War; and, seeing that this pension has now been stopped, will he have this case looked into with a view to this man, who served nine years and 163 days in the Service, receiving a pension for the loss of his eye?

Instructions are being given for a provisional award of pension at the rate of 10s. 6d. a week, pending settlement of the general question involved.


Provision Of Meals

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has received any protests from local authorities against the contents of Circular 1261, issued on the 17th May, 1922, relative to the Education (Provision of Meals) Acts; and whether he will take into consideration in this connection the varied claims of localities, particularly mining districts, which suffer from trade depression and low wages more than others?

I have received protests from five local education authorities and three boards of guardians against the policy outlined in Circular 1261. In distributing the sum which may be voted by Parliament in aid of the expenditure of local education authorities under the Provision of Meals Acts, the Board will have regard to the relevant circumstances of different areas subject to the considerations mentioned in the Circular.

Day Continuation Schools

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has informed the London County Council that Parliamentary sanction must be sought before the Council can be released from their statutory obligation in respect of the London day continuation schools; whether Parliamentary sanction was likewise obtained for discontinuance, under parallel conditions, of the Birmingham day continuation schools and, if not, by what authority the Birmingham schools have been discontinued without the knowledge and consent of the House?

The answer to the first part of the right hon. Member's question is in the affirmative, and to the second part is in the negative. I did not authorise the discontinuance of the schools, but in view of the financial position and the decision of the city council not to provide the funds necessary for conducting the schools on a basis of obligatory attendance, I did not consider it practicable to insist on a continuance of the expenditure to the extent of reducing the grant in respect of other services of higher education.

Scholarships (Girls)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is the intention of his Department to grant State scholarships to girls this year, seeing that the full number was not given last year; and, if so, how many does he propose to grant?

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

Infants' Departments

asked the President of the Board of Education the number of infant schools or departments that have been merged for purposes of economy into the senior school and placed under the head master of the senior school; and how many women have in this way lost headships?

During the last six months there has been 37 cases of reorganisation in which an infants' department has been merged in a school of which the head teacher is a man. In 26 of these cases the change took place upon the resignation of the head mistress of the infants' school, or her retirement from the profession. In six of the remaining cases the Board were informed that the head mistress would be retained as an assistant mistress.

Teaching Staff (Recruiting)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether the number of persons entering the teaching profession has increased or decreased since the Burnham scale came into operation, and to what extent?

I am unable to give a figure for the total number of persons entering the teaching profession. The number of persons recognised by the Board as intending teachers (i.e., as bursars, pupil teachers or student teachers) during the last three years has been as follows:


Isleworth County Schools (Mr H Moore)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has completed his inquiry into the case of Mr. H. F. Moore, county school teacher, of Isleworth; and with what result?

I have communicated with the authorities of the Isleworth County Schools and have received from the vice-chairman of the governing body a letter in which he states that he has made inquiry and is satisfied that the allegations made in the hon. Member's question of 22nd May as to the conduct and opinions of Mr. H. Moore are without foundation.


Agricultural Labourers (Poor Law Relief, Berwick)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of the Berwick Board of Guardians that, as agricultural labourers were not covered by the Government Unemployment Insurance Scheme, they could not appeal for relief under Article 11; whether he is aware that at the same meeting a farm labourer made application for relief that the scale of relief would have amounted to 30s. 6d. per week; that it was decided by the board to give only 15s. a week; that the reason given for this decision was that the wage agreed upon, according to the finding of the conciliation committee, for a farm labourer was 32s. 6d. per week; that the members of the guardians who proposed 15s. is the leader of the farmers' side of the conciliation committee: and what steps the Ministry are prepared to take in the matter?

My attention has not previously been drawn to this matter, hut I am making inquiries and will communicate with the hon. Member.

Army Reserve Men

asked the Minister of Labour whether men on the Army Reserve, Section D, in receipt of 1s. per day pension are ineligible for unemployment pay?

The receipt of such a pension is not a disqualification for unemployment, benefit. If the men referred to are unemployed and fulfil the requisite conditions, benefit would be payable. I am sending the Noble Lord particulars of the conditions which must be satisfied.

Complaint, Aldershot

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that much dissatisfaction exists regarding the arrangements for signing at the Aldershot Employment Exchange and that complaints have been made to trade union secretaries that their members have to wait three and four hours before they can sign on for benefit; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made and steps to be taken that will remove the cause for such complaints?

I have made inquiries and find that in spite of limited accommodation the arrangements at the Aldershot Exchange enable all applicants to be attended to without delay. The present complaint appears to have arisen from delay which for special reasons took place in attending to two members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union on one occasion. Steps have been taken to prevent similar delay in future.

Uncovenanted Benefit

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the great hardship involved in many instances by the gap of five weeks during which unemployed persons receive no benefit; and can he see his way to temporarily amend the present Act so as to enable continuous benefit to be paid in such cases?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given on the 25th May, of which I am sending him a copy. The arrangements with regard to the five weeks' gap apply only to un-covenanted benefit and not to covenanted benefit. They are expressly laid down in an Act which was passed last April, and which as I would remind my hon. Friend, extended considerably the periods for which benefit is payable. In view of the limited resources of the Unemployment Fund it is impracticable to propose any further extension of benefit.

Fabric Glove Makers

asked the Minister of Labour what number of fabric glove workers were totally or partially unemployed during the month of May?

I am not able to give the figures asked for, as makers of fabric gloves are not distinguished from other glove makers in the statistics of the. Department.

Aliens (Deportation)

asked the Home Secretary how many aliens have been deported during the past five months, and of these how many were Europeans, Americans, Japanese, and Chinese, respectively; what was the principal nature of the offences for which deportation was ordered; and how many of these deportees were reported to have returned to this country after previous deportation?

During the first five months of the present year 176 aliens, including 127 Europeans, 21 Americans, five Japanese, and 21 Chinese, were deported from this country. The offences leading to deportation included various breaches of the Aliens Order, 75 (including 33 cases of illegal landing); smuggling and kindred offences, 22; possession, etc., of dangerous drugs, 19; larceny, 20; and miscellaneous offences, 40. One of these aliens returned to this country, is now in prison for the offence, and will be deported again.

Mortuaries (Women)

asked the Home Secretary what is the general practice in the case of women being found dead and the body conveyed to the mortuary whether the body is examined and otherwise attended to by men only, even in cases where female attendance is available; and, if so, will he take such steps as will ensure female services being utilised wherever possible?

This is not a matter in which I have jurisdiction, but I understand that the general practice is for all bodies to be searched by the male mortuary keeper.

Criminal Lunacy

asked the Home Secretary what course is pursued in the case of a man who, having been found guilty of murder, sentenced to death, reprieved on the ground of insanity, and ordered to be detained as a criminal lunatic, is subsequently certified to have recovered his sanity?

The Criminal Lunatics Act of 1884 provides that where a man is certified sane in the circumstances mentioned, the Home Secretary, if satisfied that it is proper to do so, may direct that he be remitted to prison to be dealt with according to law.

Street Accidents, London (Police Reports)

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that for years past the public were permitted to get copies of the police reports of accidents in the streets of London for the fee of Is. 6d.; that, during the War, this fee was raised to 2s. 6d., and has now been further raised to 5s.; and, seeing that such sum is considerably above the cost of copying out the statement, and is in effect a tax on people who are entitled to obtain such reports, whether he will take steps to have the price reduced?

I do not think the increased fee is excessive, having regard to the labour required, which often involves lengthy search of records as well as the copying of the reports.

Criminality Among Boys

asked the Home Secretary whether he can give any statistics showing the increase of criminality among boys in this country; and whether the matter, in his opinion, merits investigation as to its causes and treatment?

I do not know of any figures pointing to a general increase of criminality among boys.

Metropolitan Police

asked the Home Secretary the number of civilian employés or Civil Service officials and the number of police officers, respectively, who were employed in the Commissioner's office of the Metropolitan police at New Scotland Yard at the end of the financial years 1914, 1918 and 1922 in the following departments: executive branch, clerical staff; messengers; criminal investigation department, correspondence registry; habitual criminal records office; and candidates department: the number of male and female employés classed as civilian or Civil Service; and the number of each rank of superintendent, inspector, sergeant, and constable in each of the periods?

The numbers of the staff in the Commissioner's office are shown each year in the Accounts of the Metropolitan Police and Police Pension Funds, which are presented to Parliament and to which I would refer the hon. Member. To prepare detailed returns in the form asked for in the question would involve considerable expenditure of time and labour, which I am reluctant to impose on the clerical staff at New Scotland Yard without some further indication of the purpose which would be served thereby.

asked the Home Secretary the authorised strength of the mounted branch of the Metropolitan Police at the end of the financial years 1914, 1918, and 1922, and the annual cost in each of these years: what rank is held by the officer in charge, and does he perform other duties; when was he appointed, and what is his salary; who was his predecessor in charge of the mounted branch and what was his salary; what special qualification or police experience is required in this appointment: and has the present holder of office risen from the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police?

The strength of the mounted branch on the 31st March, 1922, excluding farrier and grooms, was 264. I cannot give corresponding figures for the earlier years, since the mounted police were not then organised as a separate establishment as they are now, and for the same reason I cannot give comparative figures of cost. The nearest figures available are those of the establishment of horses, which was 343 in 1914, 337 in 1918 and 292 at the present time. The officer in charge of the mounted branch as it now exists holds the rank of chief inspector, He is liable to perform other duties if required. The officer responsible to the Commissioner for the administration and efficiency of the branch is the Deputy-Assistant Com-missioner. The Chief Inspector was appointed on the 29th September last at the ordinary salary of an officer of that rank. The rank and pay of the officer previously in charge were that of a sub-divisional inspector, His special qualification is a thorough knowledge of horsemanship and horsemastership, together with tact and ability in dealing with men. This officer has risen from the rank and file of the police.

Post Office Advisory Council (Recommendations)

asked the Postmaster-General how many specific recommendations have been put forward by his business advisory committee; how many he has accepted, and how many he has declined to accept; and will he in each case state what they are?

A number of recommendations have been made by the Post Office Advisory Council and put into practice. They are made to me in confidence, and I cannot, therefore, give the detailed information asked for by the hon. Member.

Ex-Service Men

Land Settlement, Scotland

asked the Secretary for Scotland if Balaphetrish Farm, Tiree, is being broken up; whether ex-service men were promised to have land on this farm when broken up; how many ex-service men have been given land on this farm and how many civilians; and the amount of land now held by these civilians in addition to the amount of land given them on the breaking up of this farm?

I am aware that the farm referred to by the hon. Member has been divided into 37 new holdings and an area of common pasture. No promise of land on this farm was made to ex-service men. Of the 37 new holders, 10 served in the Navy, 10 in the Army, and 17 in the Mercantile Marine during the War. No separate area of land has been allocated to other holders, but the right to graze a specified number of cattle on the common pasture has been conceded, at the instance of the proprietor, to eight existing holders to compensate them for the loss of other grazing through drifting sand. I have no information as to the area of the holdings occupied by these men.

Government Departments (Publicity Officers)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has engaged a press officer without reference to the Joint Substitution Board and without inquiry as to whether an ex-service man was available; if so, whether, since such action contravenes the Treasury Circular of September, 1920, and having regard to the available for such a position of highly-qualified disabled officers on the books of the Joint Substitution Board, he will reconsider this matter?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave on the 21st March to a question by the hon. Member for Islington East (Mr. Raper).

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has temporarily engaged non-service Press officers at the War Office without considering the qualifications and claims of disabled ex-service men with journalistic experience now upon the books of the Joint Substitution Board; and, if so, whether he will reconsider these appointments?

No, Sir; the two gentlemen concerned were appointed in April, 1919, 18 months before the Joint Substitution Board was set up. One of them was over military age, and the other was in medical category C3 and in an exempted occupation. It would not be either in the public interest, or fair to the present holders, who have given excellent service, to dismiss them in order to replace them by ex-service men employed on a similar temporary basis.

Income Tax Reassessment, Scotland

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Scotland is omitted from the provisions of the Finance Bill in regard to revaluation for the purpose of Income Tax, Schedule A?

The re-assessment for the purposes of Income Tax Schedule A, to come into force for the year 1923–24, will of course embrace Scotland, but the modifications of procedure necessary to enable the work of re-assessment to be undertaken in England and Wales are not required in Scotland, where different conditions prevail. The provisions of Clause 22 of the Finance Bill do not therefore apply as respect the latter country.

Road Vehicles Bill

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether it is proposed to introduce in the present Session legislation to carry into effect any or all the recommendations contained in the Second Interim Report of the Departmental Committee on the Taxation and Regulation of Road Vehicles?

I am afraid it will not be possible to find time this Session for the proposed Road Vehicles Bill.

Oil Concessions

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, since Great Britain is not bound by any agreement or treaty to consult France, or any other country, before British subjects or companies acquire oil concessions in any territory, other than that over which Great Britain has accepted a mandate, whether any obstacles will be put in the way of British subjects or companies obtaining such concessions as security against loans raised for the special purpose of obtaining orders from such countries for the supply of British manufactured articles?