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Written Answers

Volume 155: debated on Monday 26 June 1922

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Written Answers

Navy, Army, And Air Force Institutes

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of persons employed by the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes at the headquarters of that organisation in London in the following categories: non-service men, non-service women, ex-service men, ex-service women, serving officers, and other serving ranks; how many members of this personnel are disabled: and the total amount paid in salaries and wages to this staff for 1921, and also for the four months ending 30th April, 1922?

I am informed that the numbers of persons employed at the headquarter offices of the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes in London, in the categories mentioned, are as follow:—

Non-service men313
Non-service women362
Ex-service men230
Ex-service women10
Serving officers4
Other serving ranksNil
Disabled personnel61

As I have previously explained, the expenses of this organisation are not chargeable to Army Votes, and I am not therefore in a position to state the total amounts of the salaries in question.

Service Canteens (Accounts)

asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Mr. Lister, chairman of the British Legion, to the effect that he and his committee are satisfied that the sum of £7,200,000 is the amount which the United Services Fund will receive from the war canteen profits, whereas about £13,000,000 are involved; on what authority Mr. Lister was able to make this definite statement to the British Legion conference; if Mr. Lister or any other official of the British Legion and United Services Fund has had access to the canteen accounts, or been given information thereon which has been asked for repeatedly in this House and invariably refused; and if he will now give instructions for full particulars concerning the accounts of the Expeditionary Force canteens and the Navy and Army Canteen Board to be placed upon the Table of the House for the information of its Members?

The United Services Fund, of the Council of which Mr. Lister is a member, have agreed to accept a sum of £3,351,000 in final settlement of the balance of their claim; this sum, added to the payment of £3,849,000, which, as indicated in the Report of the Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield (Sir S. Roberts), has already been ma& to them, makes up the total of £7,200,000 to which, I understand, Mr. Lister referred. The accounts, as I have previously stated, are not yet ready, and I am not, therefore, in a position to order their publication, but the Council of the United Services. Fund was put in possession of the information then available.

asked the Secretary of State for War if the profits made by the Expeditionary Force Canteens are to be utilised for payment of losses made by the Navy and Army Canteen Board during 1919–20; whether he is aware that these profits were designated for a fund to benefit the members of the Army and Air Force and their dependants; and whether he will take steps to prevent the money being utilised for payment of losses incurred by a trading organisation in which the Navy is a partner?

The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative, and to the last part in the negative. The losses made by the Navy and Army Canteen Board were not due to the partnership of the Navy in that organisation, but to the circumstances of the Army and Air Force during the period of its operations, and it is consequently only equitable that those losses should be set against the profits of the earlier period. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the Report of the Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for the Eeclesall Division of Sheffield (Sir S. Roberts), on the fifth page of which the course that I have indicated is recommended.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Special Diet Allowance

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to resolutions passed by a meeting of the British Legion N. S. District Council, Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, strongly protesting against the new Regulations issued by the Minister of Pensions with reference to the special diet allowance to disabled ex-service men, under which only men suffering from pulmonary T. B. and diabetes are allowed to make application for a renewal of the allowance, and strongly pressing the Minister of Pensions to immediately cancel the Regulation, which, it is alleged, will cause much privation and suffering; and whether he will consider the matter with a view to removing the restrictions complained of?

The provision of special diet was introduced to meet abnormal conditions in regard to food supply which no longer obtain, and at a time when the pension scale was considerably lower than at present. The new instructions were not issued without the most careful consideration by my right hon. Friend, in full consultation with his medical advisers; and he is satisfied that the revised procedure entails no hardship or harmful consequences from a medical point of view to the pensioner. I may acid that the concession forms no part of the Royal Warrant, and recent investigations showed that there had been considerable abuse of the old Regulations.

Hospital Patients, Liverpool (Leave Arrangements)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the serious unrest and dissatisfaction existing amongst the patients at the Ministry of Pensions hospitals at Knotty Ash, Liverpool, and Mossley Hill Hospital, Liverpool, the new Regulations that have been imposed upon them being of such a character that men who ought to have plenty of fresh air are deprived of the same; and whether he will have inquiries made into the matter, with a view to allowing more liberty at the above-mentioned hospitals?

The leave arrangements at these hospitals are not less favourable than at any other Ministry hospital, and are greatly in excess of any such facilities granted by civil hospitals. My hon. Friend will realise that privileges of this nature cannot be extended to the prejudice of the successful treatment of the men or the effective management of the institution. There are ample opportunities for the patients to get plenty of fresh air apart from the leave arrangements.

Final Awards

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to resolutions at a meeting of the North Staffordshire District Council of the British Legion, Stoke-on-Trent, urgently requesting that all men who have been in receipt of a pension for four years should be given the right and option of choosing a permanent pension or a final lump sum, etc., settlement; and whether he will take the matter into consideration with a view to making arrangements as requested?

I would remind my hon. Friend that it was expressly provided in the War Pensions Act, 1921, that the cases of all men who have been on the pension list for four years or more should be considered with a view to making a final award. Regulations to give effect to this provision were issued in January last, and have since been in active operation. All cases are being dealt with as rapidly as is possible.

Naval Schoolmasters

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty the conditions of service of schoolmasters in the Navy in regard to their emoluments and to their pensions on retirement?

If, as I presume, the information desired is in regard to the forthcoming revised conditions of service of schoolmasters in the Navy, I would ask the hon. Member to await the announcement on this subject, which I hope will be made within the next few weeks.

Ex-Service Men

Government Departments (Publicity Officers)

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the name of the non-service publicity officer engaged on a five years' contract in his Department; whether he is aware that an ex-service man with the requisite qualifications and experience could be obtained for this work; and whether, in view of the Government's repeated pledges and the recommendations of the Lytton Report, he will take steps to obtain an ex-service man for this post?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply of the 29th March to the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Raper), of which I am sending him a copy. I may add that the recommendations of the Lytton Committee as regards my Department have been fully carried out, and at present, of the temporary male staff of the Ministry, about 99 per cent. are ex-service men.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the name of the non-service intelligence officer in his Department; whether he has refused to substitute him on the ground that he did his best to join the Army; whether this reason is inadmissible under the Lytton Report; whether representations have been made to him by the Secretary to the Treasury that a disabled officer with suitable qualifications and excellent testimonials is available for this post; and whether, in view of the Government's pledges to give priority of employment to ex-service, men, he will now reconsider this matter?

Mr. Chapman was appointed intelligence officer in the Post Office on the grounds of his experience of Government publicity work in another Government Department, for which he was engaged during the War. I have received representations from a number of quarters, but in the circumstances of the case I do not consider that it would be in the public interest to make a change in the appointment.

asked the Postmaster-General whether the publicity officer who is at present working at the General Post Office, and who did not serve in the late War, was appointed subsequent to the adoption of the Lytton Report; and, seeing that he was appointed because no ex-service men with sufficient experience were available, can he see his way to interview any ex-service candidates for such a position who may have become available from other Government offices, if their qualifications are satisfactory?

Yes, Sir, the intelligence officer was appointed subsequent to the adoption of the Lytton Report, in view of the special qualifications for this work which he had obtained in another Government Department. Having regard to his knowledge of the activities of the Post Office and of the duties required of him, I do not consider it would be in the public interest to replace him by another candidate who would have no such experience.

Valuat Lon Office

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether it has been decided to establish 104 men in the Valuation Department at present serving on an unestablished basis; and, if so, what preference, if any, is being given to ex-service men?

The question of establishing a number of men, who are serving on the temporary staff of the Valuation Office, has been under consideration, but it has not been found possible to proceed with the matter at present.

Customs And Excise Outdoor Department

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if a number of vacancies for pensions officers exist in the outdoor staff of the Customs and Excise Department; if these officers deal with male and female pensioners; and what special efforts are being made to secure these posts for ex-service men temporarily engaged in the Civil Service but under notice of discharge owing to the reduction in staff?

Vacancies exist in the two grades in the Customs and Excise Outdoor Department, which perform old age pension work, namely, the grade of Customs and Excise officer, members of which combine old age pension work with their revenue duties in certain areas, and the grade of woman pension officer, which is solely engaged on old age pension work. Both grades deal with male and female pensioners. The grade of Customs and Excise officer has been for some time, and is still being, recruited from ex-service men.

Unemployment

Mine Workers

asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the approximate number of mine workers who were unemployed on 31st May, 1922, giving the number in receipt of unemployment benefit on the same date, and the number of mine workers who were disqualified from receiving benefit during the months of January, February, March, April, and May, 1922?

The number of mine workers in Great Britain unemployed on 22nd May, the latest date for which particulars are available, was 97,272, of whom about 56,000 were in receipt of benefit. No record is available as to the number of persons in any particular industry who have been disqualified from benefit.

Applicant For Benefit, Wrexham (Questions)

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been directed to a reference in the Press to the questions put by a member of the Wrexham Unemployed Advisory Committee when considering the case of an applicant for unemployed benefit; and whether, in view of the impropriety of a question as to whether the applicant, an ex-service man, ought to do without children when unemployed, he will take the necessary steps to prevent a repetition of such occurrences?

I am making inquiry, and will let my hon. Friend know the result as soon as possible.

Coal Industry (Wages)

asked the Minister of Labour the average weekly earnings per person employed in the coal-mining industry for the latest four weeks for which particulars are available, and for the corresponding four weeks in 1914, giving also the percentage rise, and the percentage rise in the cost of living?

I have been asked to reply. I regret that I have not any later official figures than those for the quarter ending 30th September, 1921. I hope to have those for the two succeeding quarters shortly. According to figures supplied to me by the courtesy of the Mining Association, the average weekly earnings of all persons employed in the coal mining industry in April last (making allowance for the Easter holidays) was approximately 51s. According to information supplied to the Coal Industry Commission of 1919, the corresponding figure for June, 1914, was 30s. 6d. This shows an increase of 67 per cent. The rise in the cost of living over the same period is 81 per cent.

Canadian Cattle Embargo

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to resolutions passed unanimously by a meeting of the North Staffordshire Butchers Retailers' Association, Stoke-on-Trent, indicating that, consequent upon the embargo on Canadian store cattle, and the high prices being demanded for fresh meat, very many working-class people are unable to purchase adequate supplies for themselves and their families, and that the necessities of the people require the removal of the embargo; and whether he can indicate the steps he has taken or proposes to take in the matter?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. I do not agree that the removal of the embargo would result in cheap fresh meat for the working classes, and I would point out that the Royal Commission on the Importation of Canadian Cattle held out no such hope.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether a special embargo is placed on the importation of live Canadian cattle into the United Kingdom; and is the importation from abroad of all cattle subjected to certain quarantine restrictions?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. The embargo, which is laid down by the provisions of the Diseases of Animals Acts, 1894 and 1896, is a general one, applicable alike to all countries outside the United Kingdom. With regard to the last part, under the existing law all cattle landed from abroad are required either to be slaughtered at the port of landing or, in the exceptional cases when entry is allowed, to be detained in quarantine for a period prescribed in each case by the Ministry.

Crown Forests And Waste Lands

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many forest or waste lands over 100 acres in extent there are belonging to the Crown to which the Act 1 and 2 William IV, cap. 59, applies; and will he set out their names and the places where they exist?

Particulars of the forests or waste lands belonging to the Crown cannot very well be given within the limits of an answer. I refer the hon. Member to the following Parliamentary Papers, namely, House of Commons No. 8 (1912) and Command No. 7488 (1914), copies of which I am sending to him. The application of the Act 1 and 2 William IV, cap. 59, to the forests or waste lands referred to in such Papers is a matter of controversy.

British Dyestuffs Corporation

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that public anxiety with regard to the present and future of the dye industry in this country has been increased by the disclosures at the recent annual meeting of the British Dyestuffs Corporation; and whether he will now consider the appointment of a Select Committee to go into the whole question?

My right hon. Friend has already stated that he is not prepared to recommend the appointment of a Committee, and he sees no reason to modify that conclusion.

Tea Imports

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity and value of tea imported into this country for the year ending 31st March last; and what percentage of the total imports received the preference Customs duty?

The quantity of tea imported into the United Kingdom during the 12 months ended March, 1922, was 449,554,431 lbs., and the value, £25,016,455. It is not yet possible to give a complete statement as to how much of this tea will receive the preferential rate of Customs duty. The net quantity, however, on which duty was paid during the above-mentioned period was 413,587,094 lbs., and of this amount 371,662,805 lbs., or about 90 per cent., was charged with duty at the preferential rate.

German Hollow-Ware (Imports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total quantities and values of aluminium, steel, wrought-iron, and enamelled hollow-ware imported into this country from Germany for the, year ending 31st March last, and on which it is now proposed to impose a duty of 33⅓ per cent.?

The following statement shows the quantities and values of certain descriptions of hollow-ware registered during the 12 months ended 31st March, 1922, as imported into the United Kingdom consigned from Germany:—

Quantity.Value.
Tons.£
Aluminium hollow-ware, domestic.1,014166,775
Iron and steel hollow-ware (household, kitchen, etc. utensils):
Cast, enameled1,980115,867
Wrought, enameled6,968294,275
Figures are not available showing separately the imports of steel and wrought-iron hollowware, respectively.

Home-Brewed Beer

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of standard barrels of beer brewed in the British Isles for home consumption during the first five months of 1921 and 1922?

The number of standard barrels of beer brewed in the British Isles for home consumption in. the first five months of 1921 and 1922, respectively, was as follows:Five months ended 31st May, 1921, 9,956,631.Five months ended 31st May, 1922,. 8,391,000 (approximately).

Income Tax

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that certain directors and officials, formerly interested in and employed by the two breweries which were acquired by the Central Control (Liquor Traffic) Board in the year 1918, have been compelled to pay Income Tax upon the amounts awarded to them as compensation for the loss of their positions in those brewery companies; and whether he will consider whether any concession can be made to them in relief of the hardship involved?

I am aware of the cases to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. The payments in question were, however, specifically made to the officials concerned in respect of their past services, and were accordingly assessed to Income Tax in the normal course.

Church Sites, Gretna

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the prices charged, or to be charged, for church sites at Gretna are at the rate of about £350 per acre; and whether the land upon which the churches stand was acquired by the Government a few years ago at the rate of, approximately. £28 per acre?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer given on the 21st June.

Radium

asked the Minister of Health whether, having regard to the established uses of radium for medical purposes, and its tremendous possibilities and potentialities, he is making inquiries with the object of obtaining in the public interest this hitherto very scarce substance; and whether he is aware that considerable quantities of this commodity are to be found in this country, notably in Cornwall, but largely undeveloped?

Radium salts are at present used, medically, for research and for the treatment of certain special morbid conditions. The Medical Research Council has a provisional supply at its disposal, and it may be assumed that there will be an increasing demand for radium. I am not, however, in a position to recommend the development of its production in any particular area, as that obviously is dependent upon geological and commercial considerations.

Boards Of Guardians (Financial Position)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to a resolution passed at a meeting of the Guardians of the Stoke and Wolstanton Union, Stoke-on-Trent, making a protest to the Government against the intermittent discontinuance.of Unemployment Insurance benefit, which is placing the burden of relief to such unemployed persons upon the rates; and whether he has considered or will consider the same with a view to giving these necessitous unemployed people and hard-pressed local authorities some adequate monetary assistance from State funds?

My attention has not previously been called to this resolution, but I would remind the hon. Member that the Prime Minister promised the deputation representing Poor Law authorities, which he received last week, that he would give the particular question referred to his consideration.

Infectious Diseases (Quarantine Precautions)

asked the Home Secretary whether the quarantine precautions against the introduction of smallpox, plague, and other infectious and contagious diseases in human kind are still enforced in the case of citizens of His Majesty's Dominions overseas, as well as in the case of foreigners?

The Quarantine Acts were repealed in 1896. The measures now adopted for preventing the introduction of infectious disease into this country are based on the provisions of international conventions, and no distinction is made between persons of British and foreign nationality.

Caerphilly Magistrates

asked the Home Secretary the number of magistrates eligible to sit at the Petty Sessional Court at Caerphilly, Glamorganshire, who are resident within that area; whether he is aware that grave inconvenience is experienced by the inhabitants of that area by reason of the fact that the number of resident magistrates is at present inadequate; and whether he will make representations to the proper quarters in favour of the creation of an additonal number of magistrates who will be resident in the neighbourhood?

I understand that 13 magistrates eligible to sit at Caerphilly live in the Petty Sessional Division, and that the. Advisory Committee for Glamorganehire, whose duty it would be to call the Lord Chancellor's attention to inconvenience, has not made any proposal for further appointments. But in reply to my inquiry the Clerk to the Court has made certain suggestions which I will pass on to the Lord Chancellor for his consideration.

Leicester Night Telegraph Service

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that during the week ending 16th June the average daily number of telegrams which had accumulated during the night, and which were waiting to be handled when the office re-opened at 7 o'clock in the morning, amounted to 25; that a keen desire exists for the maintenance of the telegraph facilities hitherto enjoyed by the people in the County of Leicester and in the many towns for which the city of Leicester acts as a transmitting station; and whether, in accordance with his express desire not to handicap any attempt to revive the trade of the community, he will restore to Leicester its 24-hour telegraph service, which was of such vital importance to the community, not only in its every day business, but as a means of communication in serious emergency?

I am aware that the average number of telegrams received at Leicester between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. approximates to the number quoted by the hon. Member. A considerable proportion, however, come to hand between midnight and 6 a.m., and would not, in ordinary course, be delivered until the morning even if the office were open. Urgent telegrams can still be handed in throughout the night at the sorting office, and as Leicester is not the transmitting office for any offices with exceptional hours of telegraph business, the question of transmitted telegrams is of no relevance. I find it difficult to believe that the closure of the telegraph office between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. can handicap commercial business, and I do not think the small number of telegrams dealt with between those hours justify the expenditure involved.

Kenya Protectorate (Harry Thuku)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the man Harry Thuku has been deported; whether before deportation he was given any trial; and, if not, what opportunities were provided for giving the man the elemental human right of meeting the allegations made against him?

The removal of Harry Thuku to Kismayu, a port in the Kenya Protectorate, has not actually been reported by the Governor, but in view of the disturbance which occurred when he was temporarily detained at Nairobi pending deportation, I have no doubt that the Order has been carried into effect. The Removal of Natives Ordinance does not provide for trial or hearing. The power to deport a native to another part of the country has existed: since 1909, and I am not aware that any question has arisen of its being unjustly exercised. It is a modification of the power which has existed under Orders in Council since 1897 to order, without any further formalities than those prescribed under the Removal of Natives Ordinance, the deportation of any person, European or non-European, who is conducting himself so as to be dangerous to peace and good order. In a country where there is a large and primitive native population, some provision of the kind is required, and the efficacy of the Ordinance in restraining seditious or violent tendencies would be seriously weakened if the procedure of an ordinary trial were required. The fact that a full report has to be sent to the Secretary of State ensures that action taken under the Ordinance is carefully watched.

Sudan

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that recently an article condemning the British policy in the Sudan and insisting that the Sudan and Egypt are indivisible was sent to the newspaper "Alhadara"; that the editor of the newspaper, instead of publishing it, sent the article to the authorities, who forbade publication; and that the authorities accused Lieutenant Aly Effendi Abdul Latif, of the 10th Sudanese Regiment, of being a party to this article and put him under arrest in the 14th Sudanese Regiment pending trial by the civil authorities at Khartoum: and, if so, will His Majesty's Government supply this House with the full article?

The reply to the first three parts of the question is in the negative; the last part does not therefore arise.

Education (Provision Of Meals)

asked the Paresident of the Board of Education whether it is intended that the Education (Provision of Meals) Act is only to apply to the extent of the Government grant for this purpose for 1922–23; and whether effective co-operation with Poor Law authorities, as laid down by the circular issued, means that any costs incurred beyond the limits of the grant stated must be met by the Poor Law authorities from the rates?

A local education authority has power under the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1914, to spend out of the rates such sums as may be necessary to meet the cost of the provision of food under Section 3 of the Provision of Meals Act, 1906, without the consent of the Board of Education. This power is not affected by the limitation of the amount of expenditure under these Acts in aid of which Government grant is available. As regards the second part of the question, the view of the Government, after reviewing the expenditure under the Provision of Meals Acts since 1908, is that the available grant for 1922–23 should suffice to meet all reasonable and proper expenditure under those Acts. The relief of destitution as such is not a matter for local education authorities and the education rate.