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Written Answers

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 21 June 1922

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Written Answers

Royal Navy

Officers' Pay And Allowances

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether any reduction of allowances and for pay of naval officers is to be made as from 1st July; and, if so, will he state the reductions and the reason for making them at the proposed date?

Owing to the very urgent need for economy, instructions have been issued for the table money of all Flag Officers and Commodores to be reduced to the pre-War rates as from the 1st July, 1922. These directions have been coupled with a notification to the effect that, in the circumstances, entertaining on the scale hitherto customary is not considered necessary or justifiable. No other reductions in the pay or allowances of naval officers from that date are contemplated.

Pilotage Claim

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if be is aware that Skipper John Smith, R.N.R., Barron Hall, St. Monance, Fife, late skipper of His Majesty's Drifter "Mackay," tender to His Majesty's Ship "Pactolus," who served in that capacity from 16th April, 1915, until invalided on 3rd January, 1918, has not yet received any of the pilot money due to him; and will he take steps to ensure payment?

The pilotage claim in question was considered in January last, and the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union, through whom the claim was rendered, were informed that no payment was allowable. The skipper was also informed on 14th June, 1922, that no payment is allowed to skippers or others in Naval Service for pilotage services such as those detailed in his claim.

British Army

Home Service (Recognition)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the possibility of granting some recognition to those officers and men who were ordered to remain in England on military service during the War?

As I have previously stated, the question of granting a medal for military service at home during the War has been already most carefully considered and negatived. With regard to other forms of recognition, the circumstance of not serving overseas naturally did not disqualify any officers or soldiers who rendered meritorious service during the War from receiving such appropriate honours and rewards as they might have received for analogous good service in time of peace.

Woolwich Arsenal (Committee Of Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is able to state the terms of reference and the members of the Committee he proposes to set up to inquire into the status of Woolwich Arsenal?

The constitution of the Committee on the future of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, is as follows:

  • Chairman.
  • Sir James Stevenson, Bt., G.C.M.G.
  • Members.
  • Mr. George Balfour, M.P.
  • Sir J. Creedy, K.C.B., C.V.O (Secretary of the War Office).
  • Mr. Eyres-Monsell, M.P. (Civil Lord of the Admiralty).
  • Sir Howard Frank, Bt., K.C.B. (Director-General of Lands, War Office).
  • Mr. A. Hayday, M.P.
  • Colonel (temporary Colonel on the Staff) B. R. Kirwan, C.B., C.M.G. (Director of Artillery, War Office).
  • Mr. H. Mensforth, C.B.E. (Director-General of Factories, War Office).
  • Captain H. R. Norbury, C.B., R.N. (Director of Armament Supply, Admiralty).
  • Joint Secretaries.
  • Mr. G. F. S. Hills (War Office).
  • Mr. S. H. Leake (Private Secretary to Sir James Stevenson, Colonial Office).

Terms of Reference.

In view of the fact that since the establishment of Woolwich there are many new factors which call for consideration, such as the liability to attack from the air, the alteration in manufacturing conditions caused by the vast developments in the industrial and transport conditions of the United Kingdom, the existence both of the war factories and the increased trade facilities and the difficulties of maintaining the Arsenal on a peace basis, and as these differences may call for corresponding alterations in the general policy of munitions supply and design, and having regard to the large industrial population of Woolwich and the unemployment caused by the reduction during peace time of the necessary output of Woolwich, the Committee are asked:—

  • (1) To report on the practicability of transferring all or part of the manufacturing functions of Woolwich, (a) to Government factories in a locality less exposed to attack from the air and better situated from the point of view of provision of material and power, or (b) in part to the private trade.
  • (2) If the second alternative is the more desirable, to suggest what further steps are necessary to ensure that adequate supplies will be forthcoming in war as well as in peace.
  • (3) If manufacturing is to be continued in whole or in part at Woolwich, to examine the possibilities of concentration so as to provide space for other industrial developments by private enterprise.
  • (4) If it is found desirable to remove the work of inspection, research, testing, etc., from Woolwich to propose a scheme for carrying out these functions.
  • Scotland

    Juvenile Offenders

    asked the Secretary for Scotland the number of convictions of juveniles under 16 years of age for theft obtained in Portree Sheriff Court during the years 1912, 1913, 1920, and 1921, respectively?

    No convictions of juveniles under 16 years of age for theft were obtained in Portree Sheriff Court during the years 1912, 1913, and 1920. In 1921 there was one case in which three boys were convicted of housebreaking with intent to steal.

    asked the Secretary for Scotland the number of juveniles sentenced in Scotland to detention in a reformatory in the year 1921; and how many of these were first offenders?

    In Scotland in the year 1921, 129 juveniles were ordered to be detained in reformatories. Of these, 42 were first offenders.

    Church Sites, Gretna (Price)

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Disposal Commission have asked the Scottish Episcopalian Church authorities for a sum of over £600 as payment for the purchase of two church sites, extending to about an acre each, upon the Government's property of Gretna and Eastriggs, and that the price paid by the Government in 1916 for the land upon which the churches, by arrangement, have been built was about £38 per acre; and, if so, whether he has sanctioned this proposed transaction and the prices asked?

    The price asked for these two church sites is approximately as stated. I would, however, point out to my hon. and gallant Friend that the comparison drawn in the question between the purchase price of the land and the price for sale leaves entirely out of account the heavy expenditure which has been incurred on the development of the property, particularly on the construction and reconstruction of roads fronting on the sites. I would add that the basis of valuation of the two sites in question is the same as that of all church sites at Gretna, and that this valuation has been accepted by a church of another denomination in the case of two other sites, the sales of which have been carried out.

    Stationery Office (Businesses Purchased)

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what London printing businesses were acquired during the War by His Majesty's Stationery Office by means of order; under what powers were these businesses acquired; what sums were paid for these businesses; and to what uses are these businesses now being put?

    His Majesty's Stationery Office acquired the business of Hayman, Christy and Lilly, Ltd., Farringdon Road (at that time in the hands of a Receiver) on the 20th April, 1918, and the printing press of Harrison & Sons, Ltd., at the Foreign Office on the 8th November, 1918. These requisitions were made under Regulation 8EE of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, the provisions of the Regulations mentioned in Regulation 8EE being applied to the Controller of His Majesty's Stationery Office by Treasury Order, dated 1st March, 1918 (Statutory Rules and Orders, No. 242 of 1918). The amounts paid for the two businesses were £15,970 8s. and £36,104 12s. 5d. respectively. With regard to the last part of the question, the business acquired from Hayman, Christy and Lilly, Ltd., has now been closed down, and the plant and machinery has been transferred to other printing presses under the control of the Stationery Office. The Foreign Office Printing Press is still maintained for the execution of confidential printing.

    Entertainments Duty

    Mr.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether entertainments provided by Navy, Army, and Air Force institutes are now liable to Entertainments Duty; why is this necessary; and approximately what amount is it expected will accrue to the Treasury from this source in the current financial year?

    As stated by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 15th March last in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke, the Navy, Army and Air Force institutes decided to surrender the exemptions from Entertainments Duty which had previously been granted to them. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no information as to the amount of revenue which will accrue from this source.

    Beer Duty

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any country in the world pays so high a duty upon beer as does Great Britain; and whether he can hold out any prospect of a lighter burden in future for this particular trade?

    The information available does not enable me to reply to the first part of the question. As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, of course, unable to anticipate, future Budgets.

    Corporation Profits Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that on or about the 30th July of last year the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave an interview to a deputation, representing the trading community of the country, and promised that, in the event of the Corporation Profits Tax being continued in this year's Finance Bill, he would cause the cooperative trading societies to be again made liable to the tax; and what steps he intends to take to fulfil his undertaking?

    I am afraid my hon. and gallant Friend has been misinformed. As he will remember, the question of the liability of Co-operative Societies to Corporation Profits Tax was fully discussed in connection with the Finance Bill of last year and no under- taking has been given to introduce legislation to modify the existing statutory basis of liability laid down as a result of that discussion.

    Education

    Decentralised Administration, Kent

    asked the President of the Board of Education what has been the result of the operations of district education boards working under the county education committees; whether they have led to greater efficiency in the control of elementary education; whether he can give an approximate estimate of the annual establishment expenses of some of these 'boards; and whether the results attained have been proportionate to the cost?

    My right hon. Friend presumes the hon. Member refers to the arrangements made by the Kent Local Education Authority in 1920 and subsequently. It is too soon to form an opinion as to the advantages of these arrangements for decentralised administration as compared with those of centralised administration. I have no detailed figures as to the cost of the Kent arrangements; but the whole question of the cost of educational administration is at present engaging the Board's careful consideration.

    Barkingside Mossford Lodge School

    asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that the council of Dr. Barnardo's Village Homes, Ilford, have intimated to the local education authority that it will no longer be responsible for the education of 800 children now resident there; whether the Department have informed the Ilford Education Authority that the responsibility for the education of these children, gathered from all parts of the world, devolves upon it; and whether, in view of the precedent which is being created and of the great financial responsibility being suddenly added to the burdens of a local authority, he will have this matter reconsidered?

    The Barkingside Moss-ford Lodge School is aided by the Board of Education under Section 15 of the Education Act, 1902. The Board have been informed by the local education authority that the Governors of the Barnardo's Homes contemplate the discontinuance of the maintenance of the school. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative. The Board are in communication with the local education authority regarding the financial effect of certain proposals which the Governors are understood to have made for contributing to the cost of maintaining the school in future, and the Board are awaiting more precise information as to the effect of those proposals.

    Housing

    Flats

    asked the Minister of Health what schemes of purchase and conversion of houses into flats have been carried out, stating, in respect of each scheme, by whom it was carried out and the cost of each; and in whose possession the properties now are?

    Schemes for the purchase and conversion of houses into flats have been carried out by or on behalf of 46 local authorities, the number of flats provided being 752. In respect of 319 flats on behalf of eight local authorities, the work of conversion was undertaken by His Majesty's Office of Works; in other cases by the local authorities themselves. The information as to cost asked for is not yet in my possession. The properties are in the possession of the local authorities concerned.

    Finance

    asked the Minister of Health if he will give, in respect of the sum of £9,630,000 provided in this year's Estimates as a grant towards the deficit on housing schemes, the total number of houses on which it is calculated, distinguishing between the number of houses that are occupied, the number that are in process of completion but not occupied, and the number which are not yet commenced; the capital cost on which interest and redemption is calculated, the rate of interest charged, and the provision allowed for redemption; the other outgoings, giving separately the amounts calculated for repairs, insurance, rates, losses, and voids; the rents calculated to be received within the current year; and the amount based on a penny rate that is debited to the local authorities?

    £9,400,000 of the total Estimate is the anticipated deficit in excess of a penny rate for the current financial year in respect of 176,000 houses, of which 100,000 were available for occupation at the beginning of the year, 52,000 were in course of erection and 24,000 had not then been started. The capital cost is estimated at £190,000,000. Interest and redemption have been calculated at 6·8 per cent. per annum in respect of £140,000,000 and 6·3 per cent. in respect of £50,000,000; the periods allowed for redemption are 20 years for roads, 30 years for sewers, 60 years for building and 80 years for land. The anticipated income during the year from rents, excluding rates, costs of repairs, management, voids, etc., is £2,200,000. The amount provisionally fixed as the allowance for repairs is 15 per cent. of the total rent (excluding rates), for management 5 per cent., and for losses and voids 5 per cent. It is estimated the net average rent income after allowing for outgoings will be £16 per house for a full year's occupancy. The estimated produce of the penny rate to be contributed by local authorities is £750,000.

    asked the Minister of Health the number and actual cost of houses paid for to date erected by local authorities under the Housing Acts of 1919, and the rate of interest on and period of the loans borrowed to pay for the same?

    116,000 houses have been completed to date, but the bulk of these are included in contracts still proceeding. Final accounts had been passed to the end of April for less than 5,000 houses and the actual cost of building in these cases works out at an average of £916 for the house alone. It is estimated that the total all-in cost of the houses in question will be £1,076. As regards loans, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement furnished in reply to his question of 22nd March.

    Government Programme

    asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that the cost of building houses has fallen from £1,100 per house named in the Geddes Report to under £300 per house and that in the same time the bank rate has fallen 2 per cent., he will consider the possibility of the Government completing their original programme of 500,000 houses without exceeding the annual charge of £10,000,000 per annum named in the Geddes Report?

    I cannot usefully add anything to the statement of policy made by me in introducing the Ministry of Health Estimates for the current year. Nor can I share the hon. Member's sanguine anticipation that his suggestion is financially possible.

    Blind Persons Act

    asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities have not yet submitted schemes under the Blind Persons Act, 1920; how many schemes submitted have not yet been approved; and what action he has taken or proposes to take regarding those authorities which have not yet fulfilled their statutory duties?

    32 local authorities have not yet submitted schemes under the Blind Persons Act, 1920. All schemes submitted have been approved or promised approval subject to modifications. 27 authorities have schemes under consideration, and I trust that the remaining authorities, five in number, will reconsider their decision in the matter at an early date.

    Hoards Of Guardians (Loans And Overdrafts)

    asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the serious financial position of a large number of boards of guardians in the country, he can see his way to relax the stringency which has been exercised with regard to the limitation of the periods for which loans or overdrafts are granted or permitted for the purpose of providing for expenditure upon the relief of unemployed persons and their families?

    I do not think that there has been any undue stringency. I am anxious to afford the guardians all reasonable assistance in this matter.

    Tea Stocks, Manchester

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the stock of tea in bonded warehouses in Manchester on 30th April or last available date?

    The stock of tea in the Manchester bonded warehouses on 30th April (the latest date for which particulars are available) was 16,314,000 lbs.

    Tobacco Cultivation

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the acreage under tobacco and the amount of the tobacco crops in 1921 for France, Germany, Hungary, and the United States of America respectively?

    I have been asked to reply. I have no information as regards Germany. The following particulars for the other three countries mentioned in the question have been published by the International Agricultural Institute:

    Acres.Yield in lbs.
    United States1,473,0001,117,680,000
    France32,00038,910,000
    Hungary48,900

    Board Of Trade (Statistical Returns)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade on what date the, monthly Statistical Returns are usually published; on what date they were published in June; and whether in future they can be published at an earlier date than was the case this month?

    The rule is that these Returns are published on the tenth working day of the month. In the present month that day fell on the 14th, but the Returns were in fact published on the 15th.

    Emigration From Canada

    asked the President of the Board of Trade Why, in the statistical abstract for the several British Overseas Dominions and Protectorates for each year from 1905 to 1919 (Cmd. 1630), the number of emigrants leaving Canada cannot be stated, whereas this information is available in regard to all other Dominions; and whether the figures to complete the Return can be obtained from the Canadian authorities?

    The statement referred to by the hon. Member was submitted to, and approved by, the Canadian Statistical authorities before the issue of the volume in which it is contained. There are no official statistics of emigration from Canada.

    Monte Video Tramway

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has been successful in his efforts to obtain for the British-owned tramway undertaking at Monte Video the return of its property and funds sequestered some time back by the national or local authority?

    Since the date of the hon. and gallant Member's last question on this subject, the Bill for the increase in tariff on the tramway has passed the Chamber of Deputies and gone up to the Senate. The appeal of the company against the action of the municipality is now before the Uruguayan Courts. Pending a decision of the Senate in one case and the Courts in the other, representations by His Majesty's Government would be out of place.

    Assizes (Smaller Towns)

    asked the Attorney-General if any decision has now been reached as a result of the Lord Chancellor's consideration of the desirability of reducing the number of Assizes in the smaller towns?

    The Lord Chancellor at the close of April appointed a Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice Rigby Swift, to consider what re-arrangements of the Circuits can be effected so as to promote economy and the greater despatch of business in the High Court. The Committee has had several sittings. No decision can be reached upon the matter until a Report is received.

    Overseas Land Settlement

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any arrangements have been made whereby his Department will be notified by the Overseas Settlement Committee before schemes are approved for the settlement of trained agriculturists overseas?

    Arrangements have been made whereby any scheme which may be formulated by the Overseas Settlement Committee for land settlement overseas shall be submitted to my Department for consideration.

    Argentine Meat (Prices)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the average price of Argentine meat at the Liverpool docks; and what is the average price paid by the retail purchaser?

    I have been asked to reply. I am unable to give prices for Liverpool docks separately, but the average declared value of Argentine meat imported into the United Kingdom in May last was: Chilled beef, 50s. per cwt.; frozen beef, 44s. 3d. per cwt.; and frozen mutton and lamb, 73s. 7d. per cwt. The Ministry of Agriculture does not collect statistics of retail prices, but the average retail prices on 1st June of frozen and chilled beef and of frozen mutton from all sources as published by the Ministry of Labour were: Ribs of beef 10¾d. per lb., and thin flank 6¼d per lb.; legs of mutton is. 0¼d. per lb., and breast of mutton 5¼d. per lb.

    Unemployment Benefit

    asked the Minister of Labour what was the total cost in 1921–22 of administering the payment of unemployed benefit, the amount distributed, and the percentage cost of all administrative charges to the benefit received by insured persons?

    I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of the reply which I gave to a similar question on Wednesday last, in which I stated that the total cost referred to was approximately £5,150,000 of which about £3,635,000 was borne by the Unemployment Fund. In the current year, as my hon. Friend is doubtless aware, the whole of the cost of administration will be borne by the Unemployment Fund. The amount paid in benefit during 1921–22 was approximately £66,500,000 and the percentage cost of all administrative charges to benefit paid is about 7·75 for that year.

    Refreshment Department, House Of Commons (Prices)

    asked the hon. Member for Cheltenham, as Chairman of the Kitchen and Refreshment Rooms Committee, whether, owing to the reduced cost of tea and milk, he can see his way to reduce the price of tea and bread and butter from the present charge of 7d. to a more reasonable figure; and whether, seeing that the charge for a glass of barley water is 6d., which represents a profit of 500 per cent., this charge can be reduced?

    In reply to the question of the hon. Member, may I be permitted to inform him that the allegations which it contains are inaccurate? The charge for barley water is twopence, not sixpence per glass. Our profits are not 500 per cent., indeed, they rarely exceed 30 per cent., while the price of tea and its accompaniments is arranged on the basis established at the principal clubs.