House Of Commons
Tuesday, 20th June, 1922.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Ayr Burgh (Electricity) Bill [ Lords] (by Order),
Second Reading deferred till Tomorrow.
Buckhaven and Leven Gas Commission
Order Confirmation Bill (by Order),
Consideration deferred till Thursday, at a quarter-past Eight of the Clock.
Oral Answers To Questions
Imprisoned Agitators (Burma)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India how many agitators, political or otherwise, are imprisoned on account of their agitation in Burma; how many of these are Burmese; and how many Indian?
I am unable to supply the hon. and gallant Member with the figures asked for, and would refer to the reply given him on the 22nd February last. But I have no reason to think that the number is more than six or seven, if so many. The Government of India were consulted, as promised in that reply, but their answer has not yet been received.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, if he can now give a Return showing the difference between the cost of administration of the Central and Provincial Governments in India before and after the introduction of the reforms under the Government of India Act of 1919?
I much regret the delay which has occurred in supplying the hon. and gallant Member with these figures. I received certain figures from the Government of India in March last, but as it appeared that they had not been prepared on a uniform basis and would therefore have been misleading, I had to telegraph asking for their revision, which has involved a reference to several provinces. I can assure the hon. Baronet that the matter has not been overlooked and that I will furnish the figures as soon as possible.
Civil Service (Pensions)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India why the concession of proportionate pensions is not given to officers of the Indian Medical Service in permanent civil employment; and why such officers do not receive the same privileges and concessions as have been, or may be, accorded to other civil officers as a result of the detriment to their prospects and the altered conditions of service resulting from the reform scheme?
Officers of the Indian Medical Service in permanent civil employment are permitted to retire on proportionate pensions if they are unable to be re-employed in military duties to which, under the terms of their appointment, they are always liable to recall. I am in correspondence with the Government of India in regard to the applicability of these conditions to officers who, by reason of the length and nature of their civil employment, have had a reasonable expectation of continuance therein up to the time of their normal retirement.
Can the Noble Lord say when he expects some reply or decision about this matter?
I hope shortly. It is an important matter which requires consideration.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what steps he proposes to take to remove the grave fears as to the security of their pensions which have caused the European officers in Government services in India to form associations for the protection of their interests and to memorialise the Secretary of State on this and other associated matters?
I can add nothing to what was said on this subject in paragraphs 3 and 4 of a despatch from the late Secretary of State, dated the 9th February last, which was presented to Parliament, and a copy of which I will send to the hon. Member.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India why an arbitrary limit of time was fixed after which no proportionate pension could be, claimed; and whether he is aware that the effect of such a limit is to compel the retirement of a considerable number of officers before that date and before they would otherwise retire?
I would refer the hon. Member to my observations on this matter in the course of the Debate on the India Office Vote on Thursday last but I might say in amplification that an arbitrary date was first fixed, because it is clearly not an ideal condition in the public service that its members should be able at any time to claim to retire on pension at short notice. On the other hand, it has now become apparent that if the date in 1924 originally fixed is adhered to, many officers will not be sufficiently assured as to future conditions by that time, and will therefore retire while the opportunity is open. It has therefore been decided that the opportunity must be kept open for a considerable additional period, and, as I said on the 15th, a definite announcement on the subject will be made shortly.
Is there any decision being come to with regard to these civil servants which can be announced all at once, or are the points raised in these memorials being taken separately?
I am afraid I do not quite understand the hon. Gentleman's question. He refers in his question on the Paper to the arbitrary limit of time after which no proportionate pension can be claimed. I referred to that in ray speech last week, and I have endeavoured to amplify that reply to-day.
Army Pay And Pensions
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the views of the Government of India have now been received on the question of the adjustment of the pay and pensions of those officers of the Indian Army who were retained in the Army on account of the War beyond the date on which they became due to be placed on the retired list; and, if so, can he make a statement of the subject?
The Government of India's views have now been received and are under consideration. I cannot promise an immediate decision, as further correspondence will probably be necessary, but will do my best to expedite it.
Can my Noble Friend give me any time at which I can put down a question?
I will notify my hon. and gallant Friend privately when it is possible to give an answer.
Irish Regiments (Disbandment)
7, 8 and 9.
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that the report of the disbandment of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, consequent on the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has caused great resentment not only among the people of Ulster, of which nearly every family has given members to this regiment during the past 230 years, but also among the 30,000 ex-soldiers of the regiment living in Ulster, and that they regard the substance of this report as a breach of faith in respect to Army Order No. 78, of 11th March, 1922, which, in enumerating the Irish regiments to be disbanded, clearly indicated that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the oldest and only original Ulster Regiment, was to be retained intact; whether, in view of this, the subject can be reconsidered;(2) whether he is aware that the recruiting area of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, an Ulster and Protestant regiment since 1689, comprises three counties, namely, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry, with a combined population of about 360,000, and that the recruiting area of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, a regiment originally raised in the South of Ireland, mainly Roman Catholic, consists of only one county, namely, Armagh, with a population of about 120,000; whether, seeing that as a consequence of this it is easier to recruit two battalions of Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers rather than one of each regiment, the disbandment of the second battalion of the former regiment can be reconsidered; (3) whether he is aware that the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have recruited in their present area for the past 230 years; whether the retention of a battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers by the sacrifice of a battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers will interfere with the old privilege of an Ulster man to confine his attestation solely to service in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and not committing himself to service in the Royal Irish Fusiliers or any other regiment; and whether, if the two regiments are to be retained, he will arrange for separate regimental depots as at present?
I am acquainted with the circumstances of these two distinguished regiments, and with the conditions governing their recruiting and maintenance. The future of these regiments is now receiving my personal attention, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that, in coming to a decision, full consideration will be given to the claims of the regiments concerned, and to such considerations as those which he adduces.
Seeing that it is quite easy to recruit six battalions in Ulster, would it not be preferable to retain the second battalions of both the Irish Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, and to disband the English and Scottish battalions, which, it is well known, cannot recruit territorially?
Then I should get exactly similar questions on behalf of the English battalions concerned.
I am referring to the battalions that cannot recruit territorially, which is well known in many cases.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether officers who are badly placed in their regiments as regards age and are never, in consequence of this, likely to be promoted, may be allowed to retire on the same terms as officers compulsorily retired under War Office letter of 22nd February, 1922?
As I have already stated in reply to my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot, the compensation terms are only for officers whose careers in the Army are compulsorily terminated solely by reason of the reductions in the establishment of the Army.
asked the Secretary of State for War if all soldiers on discharge are entitled to a month's leave on full pay?
Under the Regulations at present in force, any soldier who is transferred to the Reserve, or who is discharged on the termination of his engagement and not for misconduct or physical unfitness may be granted 28 days' leave on full pay if this leave can be taken before the date on which he is due for such transfer or discharge.
Is this leave in all cases possible where men come home from India who have been kept out there compulsorily for about a year over their time?
Every attempt is made to give leave where it can be taken before the date of transfer or discharge.
In other cases, is some advantage given to the man in lieu of the 28 days' leave?
No. This is not a right of the man, but a privilege.
Artillery Practice (Writesand Bay)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to set aside a portion of Whitesand Bay, near Plymouth, for gun practice; and whether he will withdraw this proposal, having regard to the detrimental effect these operations would have upon the local fishing community, particularly the fishermen of Looe and Polperro?
I am making inquiry of the local military authorities.
Children's Holiday Camps (Military Facilities)
asked the Secretary of State for War why organisations for providing holiday camps for children attending elementary schools are refused the use of unoccupied military redoubts and similar buildings, whilst this privilege is granted to cadet corps?
The children in question are not in the same position as the members of recognised cadet corps which are affiliated to units of the Territorial Army. The use of Government grounds by the general public has been found on occasion to entail much expenditure on sanitation and clearance after occupation. I regret that I do not see my way to extend the present privileges in the direction suggested.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in industrial areas only an infinitesimal portion of the children ever have a holiday in the country or at the Seaside, and that this is almost entirely due to lack of accommodation. In these circumstances, and considering the health of the children, who are to some extent children of the State, cannot the right hon. Gentleman give some further facilities?
Of course, I sympathise, as the hon. Gentleman does, with these children, but I am afraid I cannot grant the use of military quarters even for that purpose.
Ex-Service Men (Overseas Settlement)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what facilities for settlement he can now afford those officers now being retrenched from the Navy and Army who are desirous of settling in the Colonies; can they be given free or assisted passages for themselves and families; and, if so, can such assistance be given at once?
Schemes for assisted passages and for affording help in other directions, under the provisions of the Empire Settlement Act, are under discussion with various Overseas Governments, and I hope that satisfactory arrangements regarding passages and otherwise will soon be arrived at with certain of those Governments.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in his capacity as Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, considering the point of view of naval officers who have been retrenched?
asked the Secretary for Scotland what steps have been taken in Scotland to publish and supply all necessary information regarding the various schemes for overseas settlement with financial assistance that have been devised and agreed to by the British, the Dominion and Crown Colonies Governments; and whether, seeing that in view of the need of certain skilled tradesmen in some of the Dominions the present schemes provide a most favourable opportunity for married men with their families, as also single men and women, to establish themselves in the Overseas Dominions, special arrangements could be made to assist the emigration officials of the Dominions to provide the information through the employment exchanges and also through the agency of parish councils?
I have been asked to reply to this question. Full information regarding the Government scheme for granting free passages to ex-service men has been made available in Scotland, as in other parts of the Empire, through the handbooks of the Overseas Settlement Committee, local employment committees and exchanges, ex-service organisations, etc. No schemes under the Empire Settlement Act have yet been agreed to with any Dominion Government, but full use will be made of employment exchanges and all other suitable agencies to ensure publicity for all such schemes. The Oversea Employ- ment Branch of the Ministry of Labour possesses the requisite machinery for advertising through employment exchanges or otherwise any opportunities for skilled workmen overseas, which are brought to their notice by Dominion or Colonial Governments.
Will that information be available at the Post Offices?
I will consider that. Certain information is available.
Kidnapped Persons (Pettigo)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now state the result of the inquiries he has made in regard to the kidnapping from Pettigo of certain loyalists by Free State forces; whether these persons have been released un- injured; if not, where they now are; and who is responsible for their safety?
I am in communication with the Provisional Government with regard to these men, but am not yet in a position to make any statement.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that nearly two weeks have elapsed since these men were kidnapped, and does he not think that in this space of time the Government ought to have obtained information as to their safety or otherwise?
I am holding for the time being 14 prisoners taken at Pettigo. They are in Ireland.
Will my right hon. Friend insist, when these men are released, that the Provisional Government pay full compensation for their injuries, because they have been captured by the Provisional Government's forces?
I do not think I can answer that question at the present time.
Will my right hon. Friend answer it if I put it down at 48 hours' notice? It is a very important point.
I am not prepared to say, until I am better informed of all the circumstances, as to what demand could be made for compensation.
If, as stated in my right hon. Friend's answer, he holds the Provisional Government responsible for the capture of these men, surely the Provisional Government ought to pay compensation.
Will my right hon. Friend say why the Provisional Government cannot give an answer as to the illegal action of their troops in less time than a fortnight?
I think this matter might much better be allowed to be adjusted in the course of a few days. I expect these men will be delivered over to us, and then we shall find out what were the circumstances in which they were taken away, and whether there are any grounds for the charges of misconduct against them. I have heard certain charges which are made, and we have to look into all these matters before you can say straight off whether a demand for compensation can be made. I am not prepared now to go any further than to say that I am provisionally holding the men taken at the capture of Pettigo, although it is by no means clear that charges can be formulated against them.
Are we to understand from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that he is satisfied these men are alive and in safety?
I have never said anything which indicated that. The names have been given to me of four men who were carried off, but I am not clear in each case whether they have been carried off from territory inside the Free State, in which they were domiciled, or whether they were carried off from just over the border. I have no further information.
Distress (Imperial Grant)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to ensure the impartial administration of the money voted by Parliament for the relief of distress in accordance with the Collins-Craig pact?
I see no reason, whatever, to doubt the assurances given me by Sir James Craig that the money promised by the Government for relief of distress in Belfast is being administered with impartiality. At the same time the British Government countersigned the Agreement in question and is, therefore, bound to form its own judgment for the information of the House as to how far effect has been given to its terms. For this purpose I have instructed an experienced public official to proceed to Belfast and to inquire and report to me upon the extent to which effect has been given to the Agreement. The officer selected for this purpose is Mr. S. G. Tallents, C.B., who at one time represented the British Government with marked ability at Riga. In order to make his services available, Mr. Tallents has been detached from the post he has since filled as Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant.
Was it not part of the Agreement that there should be an equal number of Catholics and Protestants on the Committee to distribute this money which has been voted by the Imperial Government?
No, Sir, I do not think that is so.
I think it is so.
No, Sir. There were two Committees, as far as my recollection serves me. One was to investigate cases and the other to assist in the formation of a new joint police force. This money was to be distributed on certain principles and in certain directions, but, as far as my recollection goes, there was no such arrangement as the hon. Member mentions.
How much money has been allocated for this purpose?
Under the agreement of 31st March, £500,000 was to be granted by the British Exchequer for the relief of distress in Belfast, of which two-thirds was to go to Protestants and one-third to Catholics.
How much has been allocated by the Government for the relief of Protestants driven out of the South of Ireland?
That has nothing to do with the question or with the supplementary question.
Do I understand that £350,000 is to be devoted to those who drove the Catholics out and £150,000 to the Catholics who were driven out?
I think that is an extremely one-sided manner of summing up the causes of the difficulties at present arising in Belfast.
Royal Irish Constabulary
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether a pensioner of the Royal Irish Constabulary who accepts a position in the Colonial police or the Indian police will have any deduction made from his pension or his pay?
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the provisions of Clause 1 (3) of the Constabulary (Ireland) Bill, which provides that if any officer or constable to whom a compensation allowance has been awarded takes service in any police force, the allowance may be suspended in whole or in part so long as he remains in such force. I am in communication with the Treasury as to the scope of this provision.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consult the law officers as to whether the Indian and Colonial police forces are police forces within the meaning of the Section to which he refers?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the three officers and one soldier murdered at Macroom were employed on service when they were captured; and whether the Government, either individually or in concert with the Provisional Government, are going to take any further steps to catch the murderers and avenge the death of these gallant soldiers?
These officers and the soldiers with them were not on any special duty when they were kidnapped. In reply to the latter part of the question, the Provisional Government is continuing its inquiries into the matter, but I regret that they have hitherto not been able to trace the persons responsible for this outrage. With regard to the future steps which can be taken, I wish dis- tinctly to state that neither in this case nor in the case of any other servants or ex-servant of the Crown murdered in South Ireland since the signature of the Treaty will the British Government relinquish its efforts to secure the apprehension and punishment of the guilty persons. It would be quite impossible for the Irish Free State to retain the position of a civilised Government unless it were to make untiring exertions to secure the apprehension and punishment of persons guilty of having broken the solemn pact entered into between the representatives of the two countries by treacherous and brutal assassinations. There can be no question of drawing a veil over these events.
Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the letter from the father of one of these murdered officers in Monday's "Times" stating they were seen to enter an inn at Macroom and that they never came out again, and that., if no one has been arrested, it is not for want of clues, but because there is no machinery of law and order in the district?
I have read the letter. It is, no doubt, true there has been no machinery of law and order in the district, up to the present. I trust as the time passes law and order will regain authority. Then will be the time when inquiry can be made and evidence gone into, and when, I trust, the guilty parties will he brought to justice.
Can the right hon. Gentleman not inform the House whether the innkeeper, or some persons living in the have been interrogated as to what happened to the officers after entering the premises?
I certainly cannot at the present time. I have said the district at present is not under the effective control of the Provisional Government. I have no means or methods of making inquiries other than those which have already been conducted.
How long is this to be permitted to go on?
I have given the hon. Gentleman answers to his questions. I should have thought he would have accepted them.
Special Constabulary (Ulster)
( by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to, the acts of the Special Constabulary holding up the motor car in which His Eminence Cardinal Logue and His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin were travelling to Armagh after administering confirmation last Thursday; whether the car was pulled up by the Specials who demanded the chauffeur's licence, which he immediately produced, informing them that the passengers he was driving were Cardinal Logue and the Archbishop O'Donnell; whether the leader of the Specials ordered the Cardinal and the Archbishop to get, out on the roadside and be searched, which they did, after which they were-searched, their bags also searched; whether the pockets of the car were-searched, the cushions lifted and the bonnet of the engine scrutinised and the chauffeur ordered to take off the spare wheel. Whether this is the third occasion in three months that Cardinal Logue and his coadjutor Archbishop have been submitted to similar indignities; and whether in view of the repeated declarations made on behalf of the Northern Government that these insults were committed against their explicit instructions and in opposition to their orders, steps would be taken to have the Special Constabulary suspended, and what action he proposed to take to put an end to these constant and recurring outrages against distinguished ecclesiastics in the pursuit of their religious duties?
The incident referred to by the hon. Member, came to my knowledge on the 16th instant, and I immediately asked the Secretary to the Government of Northern Ireland for a report on the subject. His reply, received yesterday, was in the following terms:
I have for the moment no further information to add to this reply."I received your wire about Cardinal Logue's car, but as the Constabulary Authorities were making inquiries, news came in of five Unionists murdered in that district this morning, and all of the former inquiries are necessarily postponed. In any case the matter does not seem of outstanding importance. Both the Prime Minister's car and the cars of the highest Protestant ecclesiastical and judicial dignitaries have been searched without protest. We ore trying to stamp out murder, and no citizen need object to a little inconvenience caused by measures to this end."
Does the right hon. Gentleman, as paymaster of these Special constables, really think that is a serious answer to give to the House? Has he not himself stated at the Treasury Box repeatedly that he resents and regrets these indignities put upon ecclesiastics? Is it suggested by implication that these ecclesiastics were in any way responsible, directly or indirectly, for the things he quotes in his answer?
I gave an answer on this subject which is correctly described by the hon. Gentleman, in which I expressed regret at this kind of events happening, but I should have thought that the last possible occasion on which to draw attention to an inconvenience of this kind would be in connection with five or six most horrible murders in Ireland which had convulsed the whole district and which had naturally led to the police being active and vigilant.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in denouncing these horrors, but similar horrors had occurred three or four days before, and these were, I understand, reprisals. My main point is that these distinguished dignitaries were attacked on two separate occasions before there were any murders, and Cardinal Logue, a venerated ecclesiastic, 83 years of age, was stopped and a pistol held at his head—
On a point of Order. Is an hon. Member, under the guise of a question, entitled to make a most provocative speech?
He is incapable of making a provocative speech.
The hon. Member has had a full answer to his original question.
With all respect, the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question at all. What I want to know is what he proposes to do to stop these indignities being put upon these ecclesiastics in the pursuit of their duty. He pays these Special constables, and has the right to determine what is to be done.
I do not think that it would be opportune for me to make any further representation to the Government of Northern Ireland. I have stated, on behalf of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, his regret that anything in the nature of inconvenience or discourtesy should have been experienced by the Cardinal and the Archbishop, but they are travelling about now in districts which are convulsed by excitement—
This will make them more excited.
and they cannot be sure that they may not be subjected to the same sort of interrogatories and examination of their papers as are all other persons there. I think it is inopportune to press a matter like that, in view of the fact that this very district was the scene of these murders.
Present Situation (Debate)
( by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement to the House with regard to the situation in Ireland this week?
The House knows that I am not at all disinclined to give it the fullest possible information about Ireland, and, indeed, I think the Government has frequently gained very considerable advantage by the fact of the discussions which have taken place in this House on the Irish question. At the same time, I do feel that the present is not a very opportune moment for a discussion. I feel that one ought to take place before very long, but there are so many uncertain factors at this moment that discussion in this House might very well be prejudicial to the public interest, and, if the House would permit rue, I would ask to be allowed to reserve any statement I might make till a somewhat later period.
Can the right hon. Gentleman be a little more definite as to the date? The state of Ireland is deplorable. Outrages are taking place every day, and it is very desirable that the House should be fully informed as to what is taking place in Ireland and what measures are being taken.
The Colonial Office Vote is down for next Thursday, but I am sure it would he of no advantage to discuss Ireland then. Provided that it comes round, however, there is an Irish Supply Vote, I understand, still open, and application through the usual chan- nels, if my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House approves, would undoubtedly enable the House to discuss it then.
In view of the fact that questions on Ireland in this House are very difficult, is it not only fair that the House should have an opportunity of getting some explanation from the Colonial Secretary as to what is going on in Ireland, and what definite steps are being taken, seeing that loyalists are being butchered there every day?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take note that I will repeat the question at an early date next week?
In view of the fact that at the beginning of last week we were told that we were going to have a statement on Ireland, first of ail next day, then, as far as my memory serves me, it was put off till the Thursday, then we were told we must wait till this week—possibly a late day in this week—and, now that we were waiting till Thursday, which is the last day, I understand that all we shall have is an opportunity for discussing it on the Colonial Office Vote—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Then, in those circumstances, I do think the House should know what is going on and that we should have some explanation of the events that are taking place. I do not wish to insinuate for one moment that there is not a proper answer to be given by the Government, but I think the Government ought to give an answer, and ought not to say that at some later date, without any date being mentioned, something will be done.
If it be the desire of the House to have a discussion on Ireland next week, we have no wish to shirk such a discussion. What my right hon. Friend and the Government are anxious for is to avoid an incomplete discussion, which settles nothing, where the statements cannot be conclusive, and may be mischievous because of the uncertainties of the situation at the moment. If, however, it be the desire of the House to take an Irish Vote next week for the purpose of discussing the Irish situation, I will make arrangements accordingly. I am sure the House will recognise that, as my right hon. Friend has said, he has never shown the slightest desire to shirk discussion. When we are in the position, not of agreeing to or of refusing, but of choosing a day for discussion, we are not actuated by any desire to conceal information from the House or to shelter ourselves, but solely by the desire that discussion in the House should do no mischief, and should be as useful and informative as it can be.
Is it the fact that during the Whitsuntide Recess, when there was no discussion in this House and when no questions were being put, there was more peace in Ireland than there has been during the period when this campaign has been carried on in this House?
I do not think the two events had the slightest relation to one another.
When the time comes for the discussion of the lamentable state of affairs in the North of Ireland, will the Colonial Secretary, in deploring and describing the horrors that have taken place in the North of Ireland, and particularly in Belfast—horrors of which I have an equal abomination with himself —take care to describe the horrors not merely on one side, hut on both sides?
I will endeavour to do full justice.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received information as to the area of lands in native occupation in Kenya Colony alienated to white men since 1914?
I regret that the return has not yet reached me.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Draft Ordinance amending the compulsory Labour Ordinance in Kenya Colony has now been received and whether this will be laid upon the Table of the House?
Draft Amending Ordinances have been received from Kenya and Zanzibar and will be considered with the Uganda Draft Ordinance when it is received. With regard to the latter part of the question, I would invite the hon. Member's attention to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 16th of May.
Hong Kong (Treatment Of Children)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the mui tsai system of Hong Kong is in existence in any other and, if so, which dependency or dependencies of the Crown?
I find that the mui tsai system is in existence in Malaya among the Chinese immigrants and colonists, and the Governments of the Straits Settlements and of the Federated Malay States are being requested to send full reports on the conditions under which it prevails. I am not aware of the prevalence of the system elsewhere in the Empire, but it probably exists to some extent wherever there is a considerable community of Chinese. If on inquiry from the Governor it is found that, the incidents attaching to the institution and ether local circumstances are the same as prevail in Hong Kong, I propose to follow a similar course to that which I adopted in that case.
Southern Rhodesia (Land Ownership)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of the chief native commissioner of Southern Rhodesia that the number of natives in that Protectorate who now own land has reached eight; and whether he proposes to take any steps towards accelerating the process by which the natives of that territory may become tribal or individual owners of alienated or unalienated land?
I have not yet seen the statement referred to. I do not think that it is possible for me to take any steps in the direction indicated in the second part of my Noble Friend's question. A suggestion that districts should he set aside in Southern Rhodesia in which natives alone might acquire land was considered in connection with the draft Letters Patent, and dealt with in paragraph 10 of my despatch to the High Commissioner for South Africa published in Cmd. 1573.
Native Population, Msoro
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the statement that the whole native population of Msoro has been removed in order to make room for European occupation; whether he can say how many natives are affected and over what area of land; and what compensation, if any, was made to the people expropriated from their lands?
My attention has recently been called to the matter, but I have at present no information as to the action which is re-ported to have been taken. I am asking the High Commissioner for South Africa for a report by telegraph.
British North Borneo (Gambling Rights)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received from the British North Borneo Company any statement showing the amount of money derived by that company from its sale of the monopoly right to organise gambling amongst the Chinese coolies labouring on the plantations in North Borneo?
The British North Borneo Company has now furnished me with the information for which I asked. I understand that the company, in order to restrict gambling, does not put up to auction, but invites tenders for the monopoly and control of the gambling rights throughout the territory and not merely among the Chinese coolies on estates as the hon. Member suggests. The net revenue forthcoming from this source in 1921 was £10,800.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government has considered the Report of the Select Committee on Performing Animals; whether, in view of the strong difference of opinion on the whole subject among the Members forming part of this Committee, he proposes to take any action by way of legislation or regulation; and, if so, of what nature?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 14th instant to a question on this subject.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the members of the Committee were, at any rate, agreed that something was needed in the way of greater regulation; and could machinery of some sort not be devised?
The whole matter is under consideration.
Will Lord Haldane'e Committee have any powers in this matter?
I cannot answer that question.
Prisoners (Newspaper Articles)
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the publication in the Press of details concerning the life in gaol, or while under detention at His Majesty's pleasure, of convicted prisoners; if so, by what means such information is obtained; and what steps he proposes to take to put a stop to the communication or publication of such information?
asked the Home Secretary if he is aware that reports of interviews with convicted prisoners have appeared in the public Press; and if he is prepared to grant facilities to all convicted prisoners to be interviewed?
Reports of interviews with convicted prisoners that appear in the Press must not be regarded as necessarily authentic. They sometimes diverge considerably from the truth, and sometimes are pure inventions. I see no reason at present for any alteration in the rules governing visits.
Will the Home Secretary be kind enough to answer the intermediate portion of my question, namely, by what, means such information is obtained?
The information is not obtained. It is invented outside.
Does the Home Secretary suggest that there were no such communications made—that they were all invented?
I have made inquiry. I think I know the particular interview to which my hon. Friend refers, and, so far as I can find out, no such interview took place.
Is it not a very good thing that what occurs in the prisons should get out sometimes—information as to how these prisons are conducted?
Employment Of Women Act, 1920
asked the Home Secretary whether any Orders have been made under the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act, 1920; if so, when will they come into operation; to what industries they apply; what is approximately the number of people who will be thrown out of employment thereby; and what provision will be made for their maintenance?
A number of Orders have been made under the Act, some under Section 2 permitting the adoption of the two-shift system in particular works, some under Section 5 postponing the operation of the Act in the iron and steel, glass and paper making industries, until 1st July of this year. The latter Orders took effect from 1st January, 1921, the date on which the Act came into operation generally. None of these Orders have had the effect of throwing anyone out of employment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire as to whether the operation of this, Act on the 1st July will not throw some of these young people out of employment, and, if so, will he take means of providing for them in the present industrial depression?
My present information is that it is not throwing them out of employment.
asked the Home Secretary whether there have been cases in the past similar to that of Ronald True in which persons have been found to be of sound mind at the time the murder was committed and after conviction and before execution became insane and were reprieved; and have any such persons recovered their sanity and been executed, or is it to be understood that when a reprieve has once been granted, execution cannot follow, even within a reasonable time upon the convict recovering his sanity?
Since the Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1908, the sentence of death has been respited, and the prisoner removed to Broadmoor after Statutory Inquiry, in 11 cases. I know of only one similar case—that of Townley in 1864—where the prisoner was afterwards certified sane, and in that case the sentence of death, which had been re-spited, was commuted to one of penal servitude for life, and he was removed from an asylum to prison. In no recent case has the prisoner afterwards been certified sane under Section 3 of the Criminal Lunatics Act, 1884. I think it may remove some misapprehension that appears to exist, if I state that in eight of the eleven cases that have occurred since 1908, either the Judge or the Court of Criminal Appeal, or both, while satisfied that the verdict of the jury was correct, and that the prisoner had properly been found guilty of murder and not insane in the legal sense when he committed the crime, nevertheless suggested that it was desirable that further inquiry under the powers vested in the Home Secretary should be made as to the mental condition of the prisoner before the sentence of death was carried out.
Am I to understand that it is possible for a man to be executed if he recovers his sanity under such circumstances?
There is nothing in the law to prevent it, but, of course, whether it would be done is another matter.
How often has a special inquiry been made?
I have answered that. There have been 11 cases since 1908, when the Court of Criminal Appeal was set up. In no case since then has a man recovered his sanity. In 1864 such a case occurred, and when he recovered his sanity, he went back to serve his term of penal servitude for life.
I appreciate that, but how often is a medical inquiry made to ascertain whether a man has recovered?
Perhaps the hon. Member will put that question on the Paper.
Jurors (Sessions And High Court)
asked the Home Secretary on what instructions jurors are summoned for Sessions and High Court juries; whether he is aware that there are many complaints about the excessive number of persons who are now summoned to the various Courts, many of whom are never called for service, and are kept waiting idle about the various Courts; and whether, in view of the expense and waste of time to many business people, he can issue any orders to those responsible for summoning jurors that only a necessary and reasonable number of persons should be summoned for each Session or Court?
Jurors are summoned by the Sheriffs in compliance with precepts issued by Clerks of Assize or Clerks of the Peace or a notice from the Crown Office. As it is very necessary that there should be a sufficient number in attendance to try the cases that have to be tried, it is inevitable that more jurors should sometimes be summoned than are actually required. I have no authority to issue instructions on the subject.
asked the Home Secretary if he will take steps to amend the Law relating to local elections, so as to prevent vindictive prosecutions for technical breaches of the law, in view of the reference by Mr. Justice McCardie in the case of Nichol v. Fearby and Nichol v. Robinson to the town clerk of Morpeth, to the effect that the town clerk was responsible for action being taken for the purposes of revenge, and in order to effect, if possible, the financial ruin of two reputable and worthy citizens of small means; and if he is aware that the action was due to the town clerk having secured, as stated by Mr. Justice McCardie, a person to claim as common informer £1,400 from two councillors who had failed to send in the proper legal return of their election expenses?
I understand that further proceedings in this case are probable, and while it is still sub judice, I can express no opinion with regard to it.
May I ask the Home Secretary what evidence, if any, Mr. Justice McCardic had for saying that the town clerk of Morpeth was vindictive in the case referred to in the question; and, further, can the Home Secretary institute a full and free inquiry into the whole case at Morpeth?
I am afraid that I cannot answer that without notice.
Edinburgh Prison (Flour Tenders)
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the recent tender forms for flour issued by the governor of His Majesty's Prison at Edinburgh, in which it is expressly stipulated that the tenders must be for Canadian or American flour; whether he is familiar with the position of the British flour milling industry during many months past, namely, that the industry has only been working at two-thirds of its capacity, with the result that numbers of workers in the flour milling industry are unemployed; whether he is aware that such unemployment is mainly due to the dumping of foreign flour at prices which are below those at which flour is sold in the country of origin; and whether he will issue instructions that in tenders for public contracts for supplies of flour British millers will have adequate opportunity of tendering without specific exclusion by the terms of the tender?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. No contract for imported flour was placed as a result of the issue of these forms. The contract for the flour required at Edinburgh Prison was given to a firm of British millers. The practice of the Prison Commission for Scotland is to give to British firms an opportunity of tendering in all cases, and this practice will continue in future.
Why were the words "Canadian or American" specifically set down in this form of tender?
In order to get the quotation for the price. It was subsequently discovered that the difference in price might be outweighed by the difference in quality, and accordingly an unrestricted tender was issued.
Sunday Collection, Merionethshire
asked the Postmaster-General when he proposes to arrange for a Sunday collection of letters at Dolgelley and other towns in the County of Merioneth?
This matter will he pursued, in the event of the provision of a suitable train service. I should not feel justified in asking the railway company to open the line specially on Sundays in order to afford a despatch of letters.
asked the Postmaster-General when he will be able to announce his decision on the salary claim of the salaried sub-postmasters?
This claim was settled some months ago, and the decision duly promulgated.
Empire Wireless Chain
asked the Postmaster-General what is the nature of the contract made between the Australian Government and the Marconi Australian Wireless Com- pany; has the British Post Office any share in the arrangement; and what means are now proposed to bring Australia into the British Government's Empire wireless chain?
The contract in question is too long to summarise in an answer to the hon. Member's question, but I shall be happy to show him a copy of it for his private information if he so desires. The British Post, Office has no share in the arrangement, except to the extent that the contract contemplates communication with a station in this country, and that for the erection of such a station the cooperation of the British Post Office, in some form or other, is necessary. The bearing of the contract upon the Empire Wireless Scheme is under the consideration of the Government.
Is it a fact that Australia is definitely out of the Empire Wireless Scheme?
No, it is not a fact.
asked the Postmaster-General whether the conference with the Canadian Government regarding the Empire wireless chain, which was announced as about to take place more than a year ago, has yet been held; and what is Canada's present relationship towards the Empire wireless project of the British Post Office?
Informal conversations only have so far taken place. The Canadian Government will shortly send two technical representatives to discuss the whole subject with representatives of His Majesty's Government, and, after these discussions have taken place, it will be possible to describe the relationship of Canada towards the Empire Wireless Scheme.
Circulars Posted Abroad
asked the Postmaster-General whether the Post Office has recently delivered a large number of circulars nominally issued from the office of the Alpine Sports, Limited, 5, Endsleigh Gardens, London, but actually posted on the Continent; and, if so, seeing that the effect of this procedure is to divert the entire proceeds of the sale of the stamps into a foreign Treasury, and to throw the whole cost of the handling and delivery in this country upon British taxpayers, whether he has any means of preventing or discouraging such methods of securing private gain at public expense?
A large number of circulars issued by Alpine Sports, Limited, and by the Free Church Touring Guild, have recently been received in the mails from Austria. The excuse for this practice has hitherto been the increase in the printed papers rate. As the postage on inland printed papers has now been reduced to the pre-War rate of ½d., I hope the firms concerned will discontinue the practice they have thought fit to adopt; should this continue, it may be necessary to ask Parliament to grant additional powers in order that this practice may cease.
May I ask whether we are to understand that the excuse the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned is accepted by the Post Office as adequate and satisfactory?
No, certainly not.
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will state the names of the town sub-offices which come within the provisions of paragraph 936 of the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Servants, 1913, which was presided over by Mr. R. D. Holt whether he will state which of these offices have been converted, and why the remaining sub-offices have not been dealt with in accordance with the recommendation which was accepted by the then Postmaster-General; whether the withdrawal of telegraph delivery from some of the more important of these sub-offices will, by reducing the emoluments, have the effect of placing such offices outside the application of the recommendations; and whether he will state when, and in what order, he will be willing to convert these offices into Crown offices with an established staff?
I have no list of the offices referred to, nor of those in which the Select Committee's recommendation was carried out. The policy of conversion was suspended owing to the War. I am not prepared at present to resume it except in cases where special reasons for conversion exist. The withdrawal of telegraph delivery will in some cases have the effect stated.
64 and 65.
asked the Postmaster-General (1) if he will state, approximately, what volume of the parcel post is now carried by the railways and also what proportion of the postage is paid to the railway companies for their services; whether, in view of the urgency of a cheaper parcel post service, any revision of the charges paid to the railway companies is possible; if so, does he propose to obtain such revision at an early date;(2) whether any of the motor-van services, which the Post Office established before the War, between London and adjacent towns of 50 to 100 miles distance have been re-established or if it is the intention to do so; whether these motor-van services helped considerably in providing a cheaper parcel post service before the War; and will he consider this or any other means of giving a cheaper parcel post service at the present time?
Rather more than 90 per cent. of the parcel post is carried over the whole or part of its journey by rail. As the result of negotiations, which have recently been concluded with the railway companies, the companies have agreed to accept 40 per cent. of the postage on railway-borne parcels, as compared with 55 per cent. which was payable to them under the Parcel Post Act of 1882, and a Bill to confirm this agreement will. shortly be introduced. In consideration of this reduction in the proportion of the postage payable to the companies, the Post Office agrees not to re-establish the parcel coaches or otherwise to transfer parcel mails to road transport.The parcel post is at present carried on on an unremunerative basis, and I regret that it is not. possible to offer any reduction in the postage rates.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage of the loss on the parcel post was incurred in connection with the motor service?
I shall be glad to get my hon. Friend that information, but I am afraid I cannot give it at the moment.
Rings And Trusts
asked the Prime Minister whether he can ascertain and inform the House when the Committee investigating rings and trusts is likely to submit its Report?
I have been asked to reply. My hon. and gallant Friend appears to be under some misapprehension. There is no Committee, appointed by the Government, which is engaged on an inquiry of the kind mentioned.
We have had questions about this before, and it has been specifically stated that there is a Committee inquiring into rings and trusts.
I think the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the Profiteering Acts, which are not now in operation.
Unemployment (Building Trade)
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will reconsider their present policy of paying unemployed building operatives £65,000 per week for doing nothing instead of allowing them to build houses?
My right hon. Friend has already on more than one occasion indicated the grounds of the policy adopted by the Government, and the hon. Member may take it that all relevant considerations were taken into account in reaching a decision, including the consideration that the whole burden involved in Government housing undertaken at present normally falls on the taxpayer and lasts for a long period, which it is to be hoped will not be the case as regards unemployment benefit in the building trade. He is glad to note that unemployment in that trade is in fact steadily decreasing.
Would the hon. Gentleman make representations to the Prime Minister that since the last statement made on behalf of the Government the bank rate has fallen, and would therefore reduce considerably any slight loss there might be in the building of houses?
I will convey that statement to the Minister of Health.
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that the reserve for the Royal Air Force to be provided by civil aviation has almost entirely disappeared, and that as a consequence our defensive power in the air has fallen to a dangerously low level in comparison with other countries and in relation to the other arms of our own service; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?
On a point of Order. I put down this question to the Prime Minister, and expected an answer from the Lord Privy Seal. How can the Secretary of State for Air reply to a question referring to other forces, especially as he is not in the Cabinet, and the other two right hon. Gentlemen are? The whole point of the question was in putting it to the Prime Minister or to the Lord Privy Seal.
I am sorry if my right hon. and gallant Friend thinks there was any discourtesy—
in asking my right hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Guest) to reply to the question. He was good enough to show me the terms of his answer, in which I concur. I asked him to answer, because thought there might be supplementary questions that he would be more competent to answer than I myself. But will read the answer.My right hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that His Majesty's Government are alive to the bearing upon national security of the developments of aviation in all their various aspects, and are giving the present position their very careful consideration. It must not, however, be taken to indicate that our defensive power is necessarily dependent to more than a limited degree upon the condition of civil aviation.
What action is the Government really taking now, apart from consideration, in view of the deplorable situation in which we stand in the air relatively to other Powers?
It is generally held, I think, that consideration should precede action.
But consideration has proceeded for two years, and this is the result I ask what action is now being taken after two years' consideration?
I can give no further answer. I do not profess to be conversant with the details, but what I do know is that the position as a whole, and the serious questions involved, are under consideration at this time. Beyond that I cannot go. If my right hon. and gallant Friend desires further information, apart from broad policy, I shall be obliged if he will put a question down.
I will do so for Thursday to the Prime Minister.
asked the Secretary of State for Air if he can state the approximate number of civil aircraft of value for war purposes now available in the principal European countries and in the United States of America?
The numbers of civil aircraft borne on the French, Belgian, and Dutch registers on 1st May were 598, 39, and 15 respectively. In the absence of any authoritative statement by the Governments concerned, it is impossible to say what proportion of these aeroplanes would be of value for fighting or war-training purposes, but it is probable that the number fit for modern warfare would be small. As regards Germany, 225 aeroplanes were, on 1st May, available for air traffic, but none of these would be of value for war purposes. As regards America, the estimated number of civil aircraft in operation in 1921 was 1,200. Of these, approximately 600 were employed by civil air transport companies.
Turkey And Greece
asked the Prime Minister what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the action of the Greek Government in sending warships into the Black Sea to bombard the Turkish coast towns; and whether any communications have been sent by or to the Greek Government on this subject?
His Majesty's Government, while considering that the bombardment of Samsun may be technically justifiable, deeply regret the incident as likely to impair the chances of peace, and are taking steps to ensure that the Greek Government are informed of their view, in the hope that such bombardments may not be repeated.
While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that very satisfactory answer, may I ask if it would not be possible to exercise some control over these Greek warships going through the Straits and into the Bosphorus?
I should prefer not to add anything to the answer I have given to the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
House Of Lords
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can now say when the Resolutions for the alteration of the relations between the two Houses of Parliament will be introduced?
I hope that they may be introduced in the week beginning the 16th July, when it is expected that my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will himself be able to attend and move them.
Will not the Resolution affecting the relations between the two Houses be introduced in this House?
No, Sir; that question has been answered several times already. The Resolution in relation to the reform of the other House deals also with the relations between the two Houses, and it will be introduced in another place.
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will inform the House what procedure is followed by the different Departments in submitting names of persons for the Honours List?
Some weeks before the date of each Honours List, Departments are asked by the Prime Minister's directions to send to the Prime Minister the names of any persons whom they desire to recommend for an honour. The names eventually approved are submitted by the Prime Minister to the King.
Does any Department act as a clearing house for the other Departments, and are the different recommendations of the Departments sent to one Department of the State and there again gone over, and a final list made out for the Prime Minister?
The recommendations of the Departments are sent direct to the Prime Minister, and the special adviser, by virtue of his office to the Prime Minister, in relation to honours given to departmental servants, is the permanent head of the Treasury.
What method is adopted by the Prime Minister to select the names for honours? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"]
How much do you give for a baronetcy, and what is the price of a knighthood? [An HON. MEMBER: "The present market value!"]
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the interests of economy and convenience, he will consider the desirability of reducing the size of British coins so that the halfpenny should be of the same size as the United States of America cent, or, alternatively, of introducing nickel coins as in several Colonies and foreign countries, such as India, Ceylon, France, Belgium and the United States of America?
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not aware of any demand for a reduction in the size of British bronze coinage or a change in the alloy used. The resulting economy, if any, would be negligible.
South Eastern And Chatham Railway (Electrification)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Trade Facilities Committee have undertaken to guarantee capital expenditure and interest of six and a half millions by the South Eastern Railway Company, such expenditure including an amount of about one and a half millions for the erection of a power station for the sole use of the South Eastern Railway Company; and, seeing that such outlay upon a power station by the South Eastern Railway Company would defeat the objects of the Electricity Supply Act, 1919, and of the Electricity Supply Bill now before the House, that the. South Eastern Railway Company has undertaken to keep the capital cost of its power station apart from other capital expenditure under its scheme, and also keep separate accounts of costs of generation, so that the travelling public may not suffer from undue capital expenditure and abnormally high costs of generation, and that in the public interest one super-station, as contemplated in the 1919 Act, would more adequately meet the transport and power and lighting needs of the areas affected, whether he will inquire further into this matter?
The Treasury have expressed their willingness on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee under the Trade Facilities Act, to guarantee the principal and interest of a loan of £6,500,000 to be raised for the purpose of electrifying the suburban service of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company, and for the erection of a power station. As regards the erection of the power station, the recommendation of the Advisory Committee has been given subject to the approval of the Electricity Commissioners, who are at the present time holding an inquiry into the applications which have been made by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company and other parties for permission to erect a station in the area concerned.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the security the Government will hold against the advance to the South Eastern Railway Company under the Trade Facilities Act?
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. No advances are made by His Majesty's Government under the Trade Facilities Act which is limited to guarantees of loans raised by the parties concerned. The South Eastern and Chatham Company have undertaken to make annual payments sufficient to cover the service of the guaranteed loan.
Railway Carriage Doors (Security)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether he is prepared to appoint a Select or Departmental Committee to inquire into the question of the provision of better security of the doors of carriages on passenger trains and whether he is aware that inventions have been produced which automatically keep the doors of the carriages locked until the train becomes stationary?
I have been asked to reply to this question. A number of devices for locking railway carriage doors automatically until a train becomes stationary have been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Transport and examined by the Inspecting officers of railways. I am advised that such devices would be liable to interfere with the egress of passengers in the event of accident or emergency and are also open to other practical objections. In the circumstances, I do not think that an inquiry such as my hon. Friend suggests is called for.
Income Tax (Mr E Jennings)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to the case of Mr. E. Jennings, of 68, Rosslyn Street, St. Michaels, Liverpool, who has been refused a rebatement of Income Tax in the case of his daughter acting as his housekeeper; and, if not, will he make inquiries into this matter?
I am making inquiry into this case, and will communicate the result to the hon. Member.
Safeguarding Of Industries Act
French And American Goons
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the principal commodities imported from France upon which £28,830 was collected under the Safeguarding of Industries Act during the period October to March; and can he give similar information concerning commodities imported from the United States on which £38,000 was collected for the same period?
The figures referred to relate to the period from October to May inclusive, and not from October to March, as stated in the question. In the case of the amount of £28,830 collected in respect of goods consigned from France, the principal articles were optical glass and elements, optical instruments and fine chemicals. Of the amount of £38,177 collected in respect of goods consigned from the United States of America, the principal articles were fine chemicals, scientific instruments, optical glass and elements, optical instruments, wireless valves and similar rectifiers, and vacuum tubes.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at Paris resolutions were come to pledging the Allies to economic solidarity after the War?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pianos imported during the year 1921, upon which a duty of 33⅓ per cent. was levied, consisted of toy pianos of the value of 1s. and upwards; and what proportion of the duty collected on musical instruments was on musical toys, such as trumpets, squeakers, bagpipes, and hurdy-gurdies?
I regret that the information required is not available.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the position which is being created by the fact that importers of naphthalene in flakes are now to have their importations admitted free of duty, while importers of naphthalene in the shape of round balls will have to pay duty; and does he see his way clear to propose arrangements to amend the Safeguarding of Industries Act, so as either to exclude naphthalene altogether or include it in whatever form it arrives?
I have been asked to reply. The hon. Member is in error. I am sending him a copy of a. notice which appeared in the Board of Trade Journal on 6th April last, from which he will see that naphthalene in all forms may now be imported free of duty.
Did the hon. Member hear the reply given by the Department the other day, which stated that if naphthalene was imported in flakes it would be admitted free of duty, but if it was imported in the shape of round balls it would have to pay duty?
I heard the question put and the answer given to it the other day, but I am afraid the hon. Member did not fully appreciate the effect of the answer.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the chaos now existing in the gas mantle industry by the uncertainty prevailing as to what tax is payable; seeing that the taxable material is assumed to be about 5 per cent. of the value of the mantle, can he say why he is demanding that 25 per cent. shall be deposited; and, if he is not yet in a position to announce what the duty is to be, will he reduce this percentage of 25 per cent. immediately?
The hon. Member is, I think, under a misapprehension. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his reply to the hon. Member for Whitechapel on the 15th instant, the 25 per cent. refers not to the duty, but to the value on which the duty is calculated. The deposit of duty is therefore at the rate of only 8⅓ per cent. of the value of the mantle, and my right hon. Friend does not see his way to reduce this amount further pending the determination of the exact rates appropriate to the various types of mantle, which is expected within the next few days.
Will the, hon. and gallant Member consider the advisability, in view of the prevalence of unemployment in the gas mantle trade, of taking steps to increase the duty on gas mantles?
That question does not arise.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is possible for him, in conjunction with the Board of Customs, to take some action to exempt small consignments from duties under the Safeguarding of Industries Act when the amount of duty does not reach, say 10s., seeing that in a recent case, in order to obtain the sum of 11d., being the amount of duty payable on certain articles of glassware, the Post Office charged 15s. for opening the parcels, and in consignments which do not arrive by post the charge for opening one packing: case is 3s. 6d., the cost for rent, breaking-in, and breaking-out often amounts to as much as 20s. in addition to other charges?
It would not be possible to take any action of the kind suggested by the hon. and gallant Member without legislation, which at present is not contemplated.
Is the matter being considered in view of the actual inconvenience which has arisen?
No legislation is contemplated at the present moment.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much per cent. the British Beer Duty has increased since 1913, and by how much per cent. the Beer Duty has been increased or reduced in Germany during the same period?
The duty on British beer has been increased by 1,190 per cent. since 1913. As regards the German tax, the basis of charge was altered in 1918 and has since been levied on the beer itself instead of on malt. This makes it impossible to state with precision the percentage increase in the duty since 1913. In any ease, in view of the variations in the exchange value and the purchasing power of the mark a calculation of the percentage increase would be meaningless.
Is it not the case that, while the tax on beer in this country has increased over a thousand per cent., t