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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 155: debated on Monday 26 June 1922

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Holbeach Marsh (Enclosure)

1.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Mr. Thompson, of Holbeach Marsh, has made application for authority to enclose a portion of the out-marsh, Gedney Dawsmere, fronting his farms; that an inquiry was held early this year by an officer of his Department, at which it was shown that the work in question would provide employment for many workmen; and, seeing that the season most suitable for starting such works is rapidly passing, and that the applicant has frequently written pressing for the matter to be, ex- pedited, will he state the reason for the delay in arriving at a decision?

The consent of the Board of Trade has now been granted to this scheme, the consideration of which has necessarily taken some time, as some difficult and complex questions of title arising out of old local Acts were involved, and it was necessary to consult other Government Departments interested.

Is it not a fact that the hon. Gentleman's Department has only given a qualifying assent especially in regard to navigation, and that they cannot be expected to proceed with the work unless they have full authority?

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Fabric Gloves

2.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Board, in laying an Order imposing a duty on fabric gloves, took into account the interests of spinners of yarn; whether any representations were made on their behalf; and, if so, to what effect?

The answer to the brat part of the question is in the affirmative. Representations were made on behalf of the spinners of fine cotton yarns in this country, the general contention being that the imposition of a duty on fabric gloves would be adverse to their interests, since it would tend to restrict the exports of yarn to Germany.

Did the hon. Gentleman not say that they could not take into account any of the evidence given before the Committee?

Was not this matter taken out of the hands of the Committee, and settled by the Board of Trade?

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he would be prepared to bring up to date the memorandum drawn up by the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade on German currency; and, if so, can he state when copies will be available?

22.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the table given on page 10 of the Fabric Glove Committee's Report can be amplified by a supplementary table showing the figures down to a more recent date than December last, seeing that such supplementary figures are already in possession of the Department, showing a different ratio between the internal purchasing power of the mark and the external purchasing power of the mark; and whether he can inform the House why the Fabric Glove Committee's Report, which is the earliest of the Safeguarding of Industries Acts, Part II Reports, is in the appendix rather than the latest Report at the date of which more recent figures could have been supplied?

I will have circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT additional figures, bringing the table referred to up to date as far as the information is available. With regard to the last part of Question 22, the Reports of the Committees are printed in the form in which they were received by the Board of Trade, and the Fabric Gloves Committee was the only one which appended the table in question to its Report.

23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Committee set up to inquire as to the importation of fabric gloves decided to disregard the evidence of the Bolton spinners on the ground that its terms of reference did not allow of consideration being given to any effect which a protective order might have upon employment in industries other than those handling the finished article against which the order was made; and whether he will consider an amendment of the Act in order to admit consideration of evidence so important to the issue?

I am aware that although the Committee took certain evidence of the kind to which the hon. Member refers, they ultimately decided to make no report upon it for the reason given. The purpose of the appointment of a Committee under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act is to elicit specific facts as to the position of the industry to which the complaint relates, and to arrive at some conclusion as to the direct effect of the imposition of a duty. The consideration of indirect effects would involve the Committee in an indefinite inquiry, and is a matter rather for the Board of Trade and this House, if and when a draft order is laid before it, and my right hon. Friend is not prepared to propose any Amendment of the Act of the kind suggested.

Glassware

3.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the draft Order under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act applies only in respect of domestic illuminating and mounting glassware to articles imported from Germany, in view of the fact that the Committee inquired into and recommended a duty upon similar articles imported from Czecho-Slovakia?

This is one of the matters with which my right hon. Friend will deal when the Order comes before the House.

5.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the total quantities and values of glassware imported from Germany into this country for the year ending 31st March, 1922, and on which it is now proposed to impose a duty of 33⅓ per cent.?

The answer involves a statement of figures, which, with the hon. Member's permission, I will have circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following statement shows the quantities and values of certain deserip- tions of glassware registered during the twelve months ended 31st March, 1922, as imported into the United Kingdom, consigned from Germany:

Quantity.Value.
cwts.£
Domestic and fancy glassware (including cooking utensils, table glassware, ornamental glassware).54,375105,375
Illumination glassware:—
Globes and shades (other than oil lamp chimneys).39,80473,103
Other descriptions (other than oil lamp chimneys, electric lamp bulbs and miner's lamp glasses).430852

The range of articles included under the heading "Domestic and Fancy Glassware" is wider than that covered by the Safeguarding of Industries (No. 1) Order, as separate particulars are not available with regard to articles not so covered.

9.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has had an opportunity of considering the decision of the referee, given on 12th June, regarding the complaint of Messrs. Lang and Sons as to the referee's definition of scientific glassware; and, if so, whether it is intended to take action thereon?

The learned referee has decided that the articles to which the complaint relates are properly included in the list issued by the Board of Trade. The question whether any particular imported goods do or do not fall within any of the descriptions is a matter for the determination of His Majesty's Customs.

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the very grave unemployment in the Yorkshire glass trade at Mexborough and elsewhere, he can expedite the completion of the inquiry into the importation of glass bottles and take the requisite action thereon if a case is proved?

I am informed that the Committee have completed the hearing of evidence, and I have no doubt that they will prepare their Report as expeditiously as possible.

Is the hon. Baronet aware that, if any rise in the price of glass bottles takes place, the mineral water trade of this country will be entirely ruined?

15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether hi special attention has been called to Section r of the Report of the Domestic Illuminating and Mounting Glassware Committee under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act; whether the draft Order laid upon the Table of the House includes the tumblers to which that Section refers; and, if so, whether he can offer the House any statistics or other information as to the grounds on which he has made the Order in respect of tumblers in the face of the Committee's recommendation?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; the answer to the second part is in the negative; and the third part consequently does not arise.

18.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that Section 5 of the Domestic, Illuminating, and Mounting Glassware Committee's Report under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, Part II, expressly states their opinion that glassware, so far as it may be the subject of an Order in consequence of this Report, should be expressly defined as not including pressed glass, he will state why note (a) to the Schedule contained in the draft Order laid upon the Table of the House limits the exclusion to any article of glassware which is only pressed; and whether he can state why this form of words is used in place of the words recommended by the Committee?

I am advised that certain types of glassware which are made of pressed glass undergo other processes and are not ordinarily included within the term "pressed glass," and the formula employed in the draft Order has consequently been adopted for the sake of greater clearness.

Is it understood that pressed glass is exempted from the Order, although, if it is coloured in any way, it is dutiable?

Has the Board of Trade power to include an article not recommended by the Committee for duty?

Inquiries

4.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, Part II, Sub-section 2, the Committee had power to inquire into the effect of any proposed order on industries using the goods on which a duty was to be imposed; and whether evidence was, in fact, tendered or invited from workshops, restaurants and other establishments using for the purposes of their business the articles on which a- duty is to be laid?

The terms of reference to Committees appointed under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act have, in accordance with Section 2 (3) of the Act, in all cases included a direction that the Committee should report on the effect which the imposition of a duty would exert on employment in any industry using goods of the description in question as material. As regards the goods covered by the draft Order, the Reports of the Committees indicate that no evidence was offered to lead them to conclude that the imposition of a duty on imports from Germany would affect employment in other industries.

Bronze Powders

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that no announcement has yet been made as to the findings of the Bronze Powders Committee set up under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and of the fact that the Order laid upon the Table of the House contains no mention of bronze powders, he will say whether no Order will be made applying the Act to bronze powders imported from Germany?

In view of the nature of the Report of the Committee, which will be presented to Parliament and published in the course of the next few days, it is not proposed to make an Order applying to imported bronze powders.

Aluminium Hollow-Ware

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to Section 14 of the Aluminium Hollow-ware Committee's Report under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and to the fact that the recommendation contained therein was repeated in the same Committee's Report respecting wrought enamelled hollowware; and whether he can give the reason why, in spite of this recommendation emphasised by repetition, the draft Order proposes to place an import duty on both types of hollow-ware for the maximum period of time allowed under Section 9 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act?

This is a matter with which my right hon. Friend will deal when moving the Resolution to approve the draft Order.

Toy Photographic Outfits

14.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, when an importer of certain powders in a toy photographic outfit applied to his Department to know if duty was payable, his Department refused the information, although a sample was submitted; and can he state why the same was not submitted to his expert for his decision seeing that the importer had no means of ascertaining, as the supplier refused to disclose the composition of the mixture in question?

The hon. Member appears to be under some misapprehension. The analysis of samples of goods proposed to be imported is no part of the duties of the Board of Trade; they are, however, always ready to give information as to the liability to duty of goods the composition of which is stated. In this case the applicant furnished no information on the subject, but it is, of course, open to him to employ an independent commercial analyst.

Naphthalene

17.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether naphthalene when imported in the shape of flakes is free of duty, but when imported in ball shape duty must be paid; and whether he can further state what action can be taken by the importer to obtain a refund of the sum he is compelled to deposit before delivery of naphthalene in ball form can be obtained, seeing that His Majesty's Customs refuse to return the same?

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave him on the 20th June, and as regards the second part, I must direct his attention to Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.

A few days ago I was told in answer to a question that this article was not dutiable, and how does the hon. Baronet harmonise that reply with his answer to-day?

Will the hon. Baronet say whether it is dutiable or not? I have had two replies, one saying "Yes," and the other "No."

French Optical Goods

19.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to state the result of his investigation into the statement made by a large exporting house of French optical goods that their turnover in these goods had been seriously affected by a duty of 33⅓ per cent. imposed upon French optical goods, which he formerly exported to Australia and other British Dominions, which trade was now being done from France direct instead of viâ London as hitherto; and can he state the result of his investigation into the statement of another manufacturer that his trade with the United States and Canada had been affected owing to his inability to obtain drawback on opera glasses which he fitted into bags?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which was given to him on the 19th June, to which I have at present nothing to add.

Optical And Scientific Instruments

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his atten- tion has been called to the statement made by Major A. G. Church, D.S.O., general secretary of the National Union of Scientific Workers, before the Optical and Scientific Committee under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, to the effect that the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act and the consequent difficulties placed in the way of an adequate supply of glass vessels and instruments to hospitals and medical schools have greatly retarded scientific research; whether he is aware that in some cases research in certain branches has been abandoned owing to the vastly increased cost; and what steps he proposes to take in order to obviate this threatened arrest of medical and scientific progress?

I have seen the statement in question, which appears to be based on the assumption that all difficulties of the kinds mentioned are due to the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and takes no account of the change in the cost of all commodities, and also in industrial conditions in Germany which have resulted in abnormal delay in delivery and a lower standard of quality than prevailed pre-War. I am satisfied that British manufacturers are making every effort to improve the quality and reduce the cost of their products, and sympathetic cooperation with them on the part of men of science will expedite that process and be to the advantage of all concerned.

Are the research workers to be content to wait until these materials and instruments are satisfactorily produced in this country?

I have already said in my answer that I do not think it is fair to attribute the whole of these results to the operation of the Act.

League Of Nations

Admission Of Germany

25.

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement as to the attitude of the Government towards the admission of Germany to the League of Nations?

This is not a question which concerns Great Britain alone, and it primarily concerns Germany herself; but as far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, we would support a proposal to admit Germany into the League of Nations.

Peace Treaties

German Reparation

29.

asked the Prime Minister if he will state the actual present position of the German reparation problem; and if it is the intention of the Government to co-operate with France in enforcing reparations from Germany as laid down in the Treaty of Versailles?

A partial postponement of the reparation payments which would otherwise have been due in 1922 was granted conditionally by the decision of the Reparation Commission communicated to the German Government on the 21st March, which has been presented to Parliament (Command Paper 1634). The postponement was confirmed on the 31st May. The German Government have up to the present made the payments required by these decisions and satisfied the Reparation Commission in regard to the conditions laid down. The technical position at the moment, therefore, is that payment is being made by Germany in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and no question arises of special steps to enforce payment.

French Claims

35.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Pierpoint Morgan committee of bankers reported that a German loan could be successfully floated if considerable reductions were made in the amount claimed for reparations under the Versailles Treaty, and seeing that France, under such a scheme, would be called upon to make the greatest sacrifice of her claims, the Government will endeavour, in the interests of international prosperity, to effect a settlement by proposing to France to remit her debt to this country if France will agree to the reduction of her reparation claims?

I do not think it is desirable at the present time to add anything to the statement which I made in the Debate on the 31st May.

Police Organisation, Germany

36.

asked the Prime Minister whether the German Government have intimated their intention of maintaining a police organisation twice as strong in number as that allowed; and, if so, what action the Government and the Allies contemplate in the matter?

I have been asked to answer this question. I have no information that the German Government have asked to maintain a police organisation twice as strong as that sanctioned by the Allies. The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise. The question of the organisation of the police is, however, under the consideration of the Inter-Allied Commission of Control.

Air Power

30.

asked the Prime Minister whether, as our Air Force is dangerously deficient as a protection against invasion, and the fighting services are costing this year £167,000,000 as against £86,000,000 pre-War, he will appoint a Commission to ascertain how most efficiently the public money can be spent for defence, having regard to modern aircraft developments?

No, Sir. The matters referred to are already under the consideration of the Committee of Imperial Defence.

Has any de-finite action been taken to avoid a great waste of the taxpayers' money?

The matter is being carefully considered by the experts who advise the Government, and they are also considering the machinery for the purpose.

In view of the fact that the Committee of Imperial Defence is a very hard-worked body, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of appointing a separate Commission?

I think it must be the Committee of Imperial Defence—a separate Committee of that body.

Russia (Military Formations)

31.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now ascertained whether the formations massing on the Russian frontier have been in any way reduced as a result of the Truce of Peace agreed upon at Genoa?

No information has yet been received of any reduction in the number of Russian formations on the Western frontier.

When can I put down the question again with some likelihood of getting information?

Unemployment

Building Trade

32.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the large amount of unemployment in the building trades, involving expenditure at the rate of over £65,000 per week in unemployment benefit, the Government will revise their policy and now allow grants to be made from their unemployment relief fund towards local authorities prepared to erect houses where serious overcrowding continues?

The question whether it is possible to assist local authorities in the manner suggested is to be considered by the Unemployment Committee of the Cabinet.

When the Committee consider this question, will they bear in mind that the present system is costing the rates £4,000,000 a year, which is paid to building operatives who are doing nothing? Would it not be more productive to use the money for building houses?

Of course, the Committee will bear that in mind. It is what they are considering.

Local Burdens

33.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the additional charges thrown on the local rates by the exceptional amount of unemployment in the Middlesbrough district has increased the cost of production, on account of local rates, on every ton of steel manufactured in certain large works from 8d. per ton in 1914 to 5s. 4d. per ton to-day; and will the Government therefore consider the possibility of granting further assistance to local authorities for these national charges?

I have no knowledge of the figures which the hon. Member quotes, and I am not clear whether in his calculations he has made allowance for decreased production. As regards the question of further State assistance towards local charges, the Government can add nothing to the statement recently made by the Prime Minister to a deputation of local authorities.

As the Prime Minister is to consider some points submitted to him, shall we be able to get a reply to those further points?

Miners, Nottinghamshire

38.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a Resolution passed on 17th June by the magistrates of the county of Notts, who, being impressed with the extreme distress now existing among the miners and their families in portions of the county, are of opinion that steps should be taken by His Majesty's Government to tide over the emergency by allowing an immediate advance of such unemployment pay as would, under existing Regulations, be payable at a later date to such applicants as are wholly or partially unemployed; and whether the Government is prepared to take such steps?

34.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received a communication from the Notts county magistrates asking for emergency relief to miners and their families who are suffering acute distress in certain districts; and, if so, what steps he intends to take to relieve the distress?

I have been asked to reply. I have received a copy of the resolution referred to, and have sent a reply, a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend and my Noble Friend. I may add that a deputation from boards of guardians and others represented to the Prime Minister last Tuesday that a heavy burden is thrown upon Poor Law Unions by the "gaps" in unemployment benefit, and the Prime Minister in reply undertook to consider the matter in consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Has any decision been come to? Are these people to be handed over entirely to boards of guardians?

Import Duties

39.

asked the Prime Minister, as in so many cases rates and taxes requisite to meet national charges have increased to an extent which precludes producers, both employers and workpeople, from competing even in our own markets with foreign producers, if the Government will consider the desirability of reviewing our system of taxation to provide, amongst other things, that the Free Trade principle of collecting import duties for revenue purposes upon commodities imported and also produced at home may be re-established?

The system of local rating is at present under comprehensive review, and everything is being done for the purpose of making it possible to reduce taxation. The proposal made by my hon. Friend in the latter part of the question is a subject of acute controversy, and is not capable of being treated within the limits of a Parliamentary answer.

House Of Lords

40.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Resolutions for the reform of the Second Chamber, which are to be introduced in another place, are also to be moved in this House, in view of the fact that the relations of the two Houses must be affected by any reform of the Second Chamber?

It is the intention that the Resolutions should be moved and discussed in the House of Lords, and the further steps to be taken will be considered in the light of that discussion.

When will the Resolutions be first published? Will it be in advance of the Debate in the House of Lords?

That is really a matter for the Leader of the other House rather than for me. I imagine they will appear on the Order Paper of the other House a few days before the Debate.

And when this comes about, will Peeresses in their own rights have the same rights as Peers? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if the Resolutions will be brought before the House of Commons before the Recess?

As I have said, our further course will he dependent on the discussion in the House of Lords, and will be decided after that discussion. In reply to my Noble Friend the bon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) I have to say I think I should he wrong at this moment in foreshadowing any part of the Resolutions.

When is it intended to proceed with the business? Is not that a matter for the Government to settle?

Government Business

41.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will without delay announce the list of Bills and other business with which the Government propose to proceed before the Adjournment, with a view to giving the House an opportunity to co-operate with the Government in bringing the Session to an end by the end of July?

42.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what are the legislative Measures which the Government propose to introduce in the present Session?

I am afraid that it is too early for me to attempt to make a forecast of the business which it will be necessary to take during the remainder of the Session.

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind, I will not say his promise, but the desire which he has expressed, that we should have more than the usual number of days devoted to Supply this Session?

I have had that very much present my mind, but the course of business has rendered it extremely difficult for me to carry out my intention. The right hon. Gentleman knows I am daily asked for special days for discussion, very much to the detriment of Government business.

Murder Of Field-Marshal Sir H Wilson, Mp

44.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the revolvers with which Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was assassinated were service revolvers; and, if so, whether he can state what their numbers were?

The revolvers were Webley, Mark V, 147643–1915, and Webley, Mark VI, 324967–1917.

Has the right hon. Gentleman made any inquiries as to whether these revolvers formed part of those handed over to the Irish Provisional Government?

I speak with very imperfect information, but such information as I have would lead me to suppose they were not. I have made inquiries, but have not yet got an answer. A large number of records have to be searched, in order to find out if these numbers are there. That is being done at this moment, to try to get the answer. I gathered what was in my Noble Friend's mind.

Were the distinguishing numbers of the rifles and revolvers handed over by our Government to the Irish Provisional Government recorded?

I understand that they were. I am reminded by the War Office that search is being made to find out whether these particular revolvers were among those handed over. I can only say at the present moment—and this is perhaps as far as I ought to go—that I have no reason to suppose that they were.

100.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the name of the official who was responsible for giving the order to discontinue the police protection of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson?

It would not be correct to say that any order was given to discontinue the police protection of the Field-Marshal. In November, 1921, a special officer was placed at the disposal of the War Office for the protection of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff if and when it was thought necessary. That arrangement still remains. When the Field-Marshal ceased to be Chief of the Imperial General Staff police protection had been discontinued for Ministers and others.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether an arrangement was made to have a policeman on short beat near the late Field-Marshal's house?

No, but an arrangement had been made for a policeman to be on short beat outside Lord Carson's house, which is not far away.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why arrangements were not made to have a short beat outside the late Field-Marshal's house, if it was necessary outside Lord Carson's?

Because there was no reason to suppose that the Field-Marshal was in danger.

101.

asked the Home Secretary whether the raids carried out by Scotland Yard, following the political assassination of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, have revealed the existence of preparations made in this country by the agents of Mr. de Valera and the Irish Republican Army for the use of firearms and bombs against any persons who take a prominent part in opposing the establishment of an Irish Republic?

It would be contrary to the public interest to announce, exactly what was discovered or what additional precautions are being taken, but nothing was found revealing the existence of an organised plot to use firearms and bombs against any specific person.

102.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the political assassination of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson by two members of the Irish Republican Army, any members of that army known to the police in England will be placed under observation, and steps taken to guard the ports of entry from Ireland against the entry of further members of this army?

It is obviously undesirable to specify exactly the measures adopted, but the police will take all steps possible to prevent crime. The ports are being watched.

Is there any information to show that these two criminals are members of the Irish Republican Army?

That is not for me to say. The evidence is there. It is for the Courts to decide.

Are any members of the Irish Republican Army employed in London in any public Department?

( by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he had seen the statement issued on Saturday from the Irish Republican Army at headquarters, the Four Courts, Dublin, refusing to condemn such action as the murder of the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson while certain alleged causes continue, and, if so, whether he intended to take any action, or whether he intended to permit the Irish Republican Army to continue peaceably to enjoy possession of the Four Courts in Dublin?

I read with disgust the disgraceful statement issued from that quarter on this event. I propose to deal with the question of the continued occupation of the Four Courts by the Republican Executive in the course of the statement I am about to make to the House.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say now whether the Irish Republican Army is maintaining its headquarters in the Four Courts in Dublin with the consent of the Provisional Government, or in defiance of it?

Wi11 the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of sending a British force to eject them forcibly?

Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether Mr. Collins, or any other member of the Provisional Government, has expressed any view on the statement of the Irish Republican Army of last Saturday?

I have heard of nothing. It was only in the papers on Saturday. I have had no communication at all.

Palestine (Water-Power Concession)

45.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can now inform the House when an opportunity will be given for full discussion of the Rutenberg concessions?

We hope to take the Colonial Office Vote, which was postponed last week, on Tuesday week.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the Acting Foreign Secretary in another place declared that the delay in giving details of this concession was due to the fact that a full Debate was going to take place in this House? Does he not agree that a full Debate cannot take place if the other multifarious questions relating to his Department are to be discussed?

I think the arrangement is that the time up to the dinner hour shall be devoted to some of the other matters hon. Members have asked to have discussed, and that the time after dinner shall be devoted to this particular subject. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will be quite prepared to defend the action of the Government on that. occasion.

87.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the High Commissioner of Palestine, have granted, or contemplate granting, a concession to Mr. Pinhus Rutenberg; and, if so, whether His Majesty's Government have satisfied themselves as to the antecedents of the proposed concessionaire?

I understand that this matter is to be raised on the Colonial Office Vote. I propose to deal fully with it during the Debate on that Vote.

Is Pinhus Rutenberg in any way connected with Pinhus Rutenberg who is known in Russia as a dangerous world revolutionary, and who is suspected most strongly of having murdered with his own hands the priest Gapon?

I cannot be expected to give a biographical sketch in answer to a question. I was quite ready to do it on Thursday last—to go into the matter fully—and I shall be quite ready when the Colonial Office Vote comes on; but it is an entire delusion to imagine that he is a Bolshevist. He is an anti-Bolshevist, and was driven out of Russia because he was an anti-Bolshevist.

Would it not be useful to know beforehand the antecedents of this man?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will wait, the information will come upon him with surprise.

Guatemala

55.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government of General Orellana in Guatemala has yet been recognised; and, if not, whether a British Minister still resides at the British Legation in Guatemala city?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and to the second in the affirmative.

Greece And Turkey

56.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received details of the damage caused to the persons and property of non-combatants in the recent bombardment of Samsun by Greek warships; whether any neutral persons were killed or injured, or their property damaged: and what were the total casualties?

His Majesty's High Commissioner at Constantinople has been asked to report any information which he may be able to obtain.

Will the hon. Gentleman send me that information, or shall I put down another question?

It will be convenient if the hon. and gallant Member will put down another question.

57.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of the Government has been called to a speech by Mustapha Kemal Pasha at Ismid on 20th June, in which he made a strong indictment of the policy of the British Government towards Turkey and justified the atrocities of the Turks committed against the Greeks on the ground of military necessity, and finally made the official announcement that his Government would not take part in the inquiry which the British Government has resolved to make, with the full assent of all our Allies; and what action the Government intend to take in reference to this challenge?

I have only seen the version of this speech which appeared in the Press. While justifying generally the description given by my hon. Friend, it contained no reference to the rejection of the proposed Commission of Inquiry. In any case, no special or separate action on the part of His Majesty's Government is called for.

Has the hon. Gentleman, in fact, received any information as to whether this Commission will be allowed to proceed?

Perhaps the Noble Lord will put that question down. I am not quite sure.

Assyrian Christian Refugees

58.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received representations from Dr. Nansen's agent at Novorossisk, Caucasus, to the effect that 1,000 starving and destitute Assyrian Christians, formerly domiciled in the Mosul Province of Mesopotamia, have reached the port of Novorossisk after wandering through Azerbidjian; and whether the British or Iraq Governments will endeavour to arrange for the repatriation of these refugees to their original homes, and will meanwhile provide sufficient assistance to prevent them from starving through the agency of Dr. Nansen?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government have expended a sum of nearly two million pounds sterling on these Assyrians, towards whom His Majesty's Government had certain indirect responsibilities during military operations in Mesopotamia. They do not, however, feel justified in entertaining the idea of making a further charge on the British taxpayer to assist these unfortunate people.

Will the hon. Gentleman approach the Government of Iraq, to find out whether they are willing to have these people, who wish to return to their homes, back again?

I think it would be more in order for my hon. Friend to put that question to the Colonial Office.

Who is responsible for sending these refugees to Novorossisk? Has the British Government anything to do with it?

British Travellers (Money)

59.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what efforts, if any, are made by his Department to inform prospective British travellers as to the amount of money which they are allowed to carry across the frontiers of the countries they propose to visit?

So far as I am aware, there is no limit to the amount of money which British travellers are allowed to carry into the countries they propose to visit. As regards the export of currency, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to his question on 24th May last.

Seeing that these sums vary in every country in Europe, and that it is impossible for a traveller to carry them all in mind, would it not be possible to hand over details on a printed form with the passport or when the visa is stamped, and so save a great deal of trouble?

Elections (Compulsory Voting)

60.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what European and other countries have adopted the system of making voting at elections compulsory on the part of those who are entitled to that privilege; and whether the system so adopted is working satisfactorily in each country concerned?

I regret that I have not sufficiently complete and reliable information to enable me to answer the question.

As this is a very important question, would it not be possible for the hon. Gentleman to get details from our two nearest neighbours, Holland and Belgium, who have both adopted this system?

I have no doubt that it would be possible, but I should hesitate to circularise all the self-governing countries.

Tithe Rentcharge

63.

asked the Minister of Health how many owners of tithe rent-charge attached to benefices have made the necessary statutory declaration under the Ecclesiastical Tithe (Rates) Act that their income is under £300; and how many that it is over £300 but under £500?

I regret that the information desired by the hon. and gallant Member is not available. It could only be obtained by asking for a special return from the overseers of every parish in the country.

Temporary Tax Clerks, Derbyshire

66.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the wages of ex-service men employed as temporary clerks in the Inland Revenue Tax Departments in Derbyshire have had, or are about to have, their wages reduced, as follows: where the pay is 65. a week by 9s. per week, and where the pay is 56s. a week by 7s. 6d. per week; and whether, seeing that the duties of these men are of a highly technical character and are practically on a par with the established staff, many of the latter having taken up this work during the War and receiving much higher pay, he will, if the reduction has already taken place, have the matter reconsidered with a view to ensuring that these men shall receive a living wage?

I beg to refer to the answer given on the 14th instant to the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), to which I have nothing to add at present.

Does the hon. Baronet really consider that this wage is sufficient to keep these men, who have sacrificed so much for their country?

That is not at all the point. The point is that this question is answered in the answer to which I have referred, and which says that the matter is under consideration by the National Whitley Council. That seems to be the proper body to deal with the subject.

Coal Industry

Miners' Wages And Coal Prices

46.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he can give the reasons why miners are receiving low wages while the price of coal to the consumer is so far above pre-War levels; and if he has the figures to show what factors prevail to cause such wide divergence between pithead prices for coal and the cost to the consumer?

In a reply given to my hon. Friend the. Member for Keighley (Sir R. Clough) on the 29th May, I gave the figures supplied to me by the Coal Merchants' Federation, giving the various items accounting for the difference between pithead and retail prices for coal. Since then there has been a considerable reduction in the retail prices in London, and I have asked the Coal Merchants' Federation if they can give me similar figures applicable to the present position. As regards miners' wages, I am to-day giving in reply to the hon. Member for Farnworth (Captain Bagley) some figures relating to the average weekly wages of miners. But the chief cause of low earnings in many districts lies in the fact that short time is being worked owing to the industrial depression.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it is that the consumer has to pay such large prices for coal when the miners are receiving such low wages?

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the answer to which I have referred him, he will see that the prices for London were given, including pithead prices, railway charges, distribution charges, clerical charges, and so on, which account for the whole sum; but, as I have said, since then there has been a reduction in the price in London, and I am asking for further figures, because the old ones cannot be quite up to date.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how a sudden reduction in the price of coal in London can be made when there has been no corresponding sudden reduction in the wages of the miners, or in railway freights or any other particular?

That is exactly the question I have put to the Coal Merchants' Federation.

Fuel Oil

47.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether the Anglo-Persian Oil Company's refinery at Llandarcy, near Swansea, in which the Government holds a controlling interest, will be available for refining oil produced by the destructive distillation of coal should any South Wales coal owners consider it desirable to set up the necessary retorts?

I understand that the refinery, as at present arranged, will be occupied with the treatment of crude petroleum only. Any extension of it for refining oil produced by the destructive distillation of coal would be a matter for negotiation between the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and colliery interests.

I cannot imagine that the Government will have any objection to it, but I think they have already said that they do not interfere in the commercial activities of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

48.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been drawn to the increasing replacement of coal by oil in many spheres of industry and commerce, and the consequent permanent increase in unemployment in the coal industry; and whether his Department has made any researches into the desirability of setting up retorts in those coalfields where profits are declining and unemployment increasing, with a view to producing oil by destructive distillation?

I am aware that the use of oil is increasing, but I think it is only a small factor among the causes of unemployment in the coalfields. The development of supplies of oil from home sources by the carbonisation of coal is a subject that is now occupying the close attention of the Fuel Research Board, and, in fact, was largely responsible for its institution in 1917. I would refer the hon. Member to the Report of the Board for the years 1920–21, the second section of which is devoted to the question of low temperature carbonisation.

Miners (Migration)

49.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that a number of miners from South Wales have recently travelled to South Yorkshire in search of employment in the pits there; what proportion have been able to obtain it; and whether he can issue a warning to men in other coalfields that there is scarcely sufficient work in the Yorkshire coalfield for the local miners?

I gather from reports in the Press that a number of miners from South Wales have recently been seeking employment at South Yorkshire collieries, but I am unable to say what proportion of them have been successful. With regard to the last part of the question, the conditions in the coalfields are, I think, already sufficiently well known to make any such warning unnecessary, but I am consulting the Ministry of Labour on the subject.

Electricity Commission

53.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, under the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, the salaries of the Electricity Commissioners, their staff, office and other expenses, have to be paid by the authorised undertakers supplying electricity throughout the country; what these salaries and expenses for the year 1921 amounted to; and whether he is aware that a compulsory levy is now being made on the undertakers to recover them?

The answers to the first and third parts of the question are in the affirmative. The net cost of the Electricity Commissioners in the financial year 1921–22 is, approximately, £40,000.

is the hon. Gentleman aware that since the introduction of this Bill something like £250,000 has been spent by the Electricity Commissioners, which is charged to the authorised electricity authorities throughout the country; and, if that is so, how can he expect, with these expenses being piled on them, that they can reduce the price of electricity?

54.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport what was the cost to the authorised undertakers supplying electricity in the proposed London and Home Counties Electricity District of the inquiry held by the Electricity Commissioners in June and July last, with reference to schemes for the establishment of such an electricity district; and what, has been the result of that inquiry?

I understand that the Electricity Commissioners have no information as to the cost incurred by the authorised undertakers of the public inquiry in question. As the result of the inquiry, the Commissioners issued in December last a statement of their decisions, which was circulated to all interested parties, and are now engaged upon the preparation of a draft special Order.

Is it not a fact that the cost of the London inquiry has been definitely fixed, and that levies have been made on the authorised undertakers for repayment?

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Captain E S Robinson

77.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that Captain E. S. Robinson, of Urney, Killiney, county Dublin, was invalided out of the Army in July, 1919 suffering from Meniere's disease, which was entirely due to military service, and has rendered him incapable of any employment since that time; that, notwithstanding this, his disability is now found to have been aggravated only by military service, and his pension reduced to 60 per cent.; and whether, under the special circumstances, he will take such steps as will restore this officer's pension to the original amount?

This officer's disability has at no time been accepted by the Ministry as attributable to service, but only as aggravated by it. He has been informed of his right of appeal against this decision to an independent tribunal, but has declined to exercise it. The award current at the 60 per cent. disablement rate is in accordance with the finding of the last medical board, and as the officer declines to be re-examined by a Medical Appeal Board there are no grounds for reviewing this assessment.

What is the particular independent tribunal to which the officer will have an opportunity of going?

It. will be the ordinary Medical Appeal Board, the ordinary channel which everyone else accepts, though so far this officer has not thought fit to avail himself of it.

Disability Pensions

80.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will state the total number of ex-service men drawing disability pensions, divided as follows: Under 10 per cent.; between 10 per cent. and 20 per cent.; between 20 per cent. and 50 per cent.; and over 50 per cent.?

The Royal Warrant does not provide for pension where the degree of disablement is assessed at less than 20 per cent.: but I may inform my hon. and gallant Friend that about 120,000 men in this category are receiving final weekly allowances. Approximately, 633,000 disability pensions, assessed at from 20 to 50 per cent. (both inclusive), and about 107,000, assessed at over 50 per cent., are now in payment.

Post Office

Lost Male Bags (Reward)

72.

asked the Postmaster-General if his attention has been called to the case of William Johnston, a Glasgow dairyman, who found two bags, the property of the Post Office, containing £1,760, and which bags had been dropped from a mail van, and who was rewarded with 30s. for his honesty; and whether, in addition to increasing the sum indicated, he will follow the example of the police authorities and base future rewards on a percentage of the value of the property?

Two other persons claimed to have found these bags, which contained £1,380, and the evidence points to the fact that all three claimants, in addition to a police constable, contributed to their restoration. In the circumstances the three claimants were all rewarded. I do not think that Mr. Johnston's share was inadequate for the services which he rendered. The circumstances were such as to afford the finders reasonable knowledge of the ownership of the property, sufficient to have rendered it incumbent upon them to return the property to the Post Office and, if instead of so doing, they intended to appropriate the property to their own use, they would have laid themselves open to prosecution for larceny by finding. I cannot undertake that a finder of a mail bag should be rewarded according to the value of the property.

Hornsey Town Council (Accounts)

73.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that sums amounting to £1,273 lls. ld. are due by the Postmaster-General to the Hornsey Town Council in respect of trench re-instalment accounts, and that some of these accounts date back to January last; and whether, seeing that on its side the General Post Office demands payments in advance in respect of sums to be due by the corporation without any interest allowance, the Department will now pay this £1,273 to the corporation together with an allowance for interest?

The sums referred to are in respect of seven accounts received on various dates between January and May, of which four had to be returned to the Council for amendment. All the accounts have now been paid except one, which was received back from the council, after correction, a few days ago. There is no case of payment of interest.

Metropolitan Police Stations (Telephone Calls)

75.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will make arrangements by which any Metropolitan police station can be enabled to call up all other London stations simultaneously by telephone?

Any application for telephone service from the Metropolitan Police would in the ordinary course receive the immediate attention of the Post. Office, but it is not within my province to arrange for the provision of particular services unasked.

Ireland

Civil Servants (Retirement)

84.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Irish civil servants who are desirous of being superannuated and receiving compensation under Article 10 of the Treaty and Article 7 of the Order in Council, Transferring Powers, of April, 1922, are now at liberty to make application for that purpose; whether the six months' notice will run from the date of such application; and whether it will be possible for them, in cases where it is proper and desirable in their interests to do so, to be superannuated before the expiration of the six months' notice?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In reply to the second and third parts of the question, the formulation of the rules and conditions necessary for carrying into effect Article 10 of the Treaty and Article 7 of the Transfer of Functions Order is a matter for the Provisional Government.

Shall we in this House have an opportunity of discussing these Rules and Regulations which will govern the status of our civil servants?

Yes, ultimately, when the final stages of the Irish Constitution come before this House, legislative proposals will have to he made.

Am I to understand that we shall have that opportunity on the discussion of the Free State Constitution?

Either that or the ancillary Bill containing minor pro visions which will accompany it.

Malicious Injuries Commission

85.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies by what authority the Compensation (Ireland) Commission supersedes the existing statutory machinery for assessing compensation for criminal or malicious injuries in Southern Ireland; whether this Commission has power to enforce the attendance of witnesses and to administer an oath to witnesses; and, if so, by what authority, statutory or otherwise, these powers have been conferred upon the Commission?

In reply to the first part of the question, the Compensation (Ireland) Commission does not supersede the existing statutory machinery for assessing compensation for criminal and malicious injuries in Southern Ireland. Inasmuch, however, as this machinery is inoperative, the Commission provided an alternative means whereby injured persons may obtain relief. The reply to the second part of the question is in the negative, and the third part does not arise.

I would rather give an answer after I have had an opportunity of consulting my legal advisers.

The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that a Commission of which he knows nothing, and which has no legal authority, will supersede the ordinary law. Surely we ought to have some information on that point.

That is certainly not the answer I gave, nor any fair deduction from it. It is rather a habit the hon. and gallant Gentleman has. If he will put down a definite question, I will then give him the answer, in regard to which I shall have had an opportunity of consulting my legal advisers.

That is the very question I put. Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first part of my question, by what statutory authority the Commission has been set up?

I have said I am not prepared to frame the exact words of an answers to legal question of that kind.

Are we to understand that the Provisional Government have agreed to pay the compensation which will be awarded by Lord Shaw's Commission?

The Provisional Government have agreed to pay the whole of the compensation, both to our own people and to theirs, and then they will recover from us the amount of damages for which we are responsible.

Titles Of Honour

86.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, seeing that Clause 5 of the suggested Constitution for the Irish Free State precludes His Majesty from conferring titles of honour upon Irish subjects who have served him faithfully and well in Ireland without the consent of the Minister of that State, he will state in which other Colonial or Dominion Constitution such a provision occurs?

No such provision is embodied in any Dominion or Colonial Constitution.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of recommending to the Prime Minister that this rule should be adopted in the case of South Africa?

is there any reason why a South African millionaire should be enobled without asking the Government, or even with their consent and approval, and have an entirely different system adopted in Southern Ireland?

Kidnapping, Cavan

88.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has received information of the kidnapping of David Pollock, son of Sergeant-major Pollock, both demobilised soldiers, which took place at Cavan on the 14th June; if he is aware that David Pollock's life was threatened if the family did not return to Cavan before 21st June; can he give any information as to David Pollock; and what steps has he taken to obtain his release?

The reply to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. Representations have been made to the Provisional Government to secure Pollock's release, and I am hoping that he may be released to-day or to-morrow.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how it is that the Provisional Government's efforts in these matters are so ineffective?

Free State Constitution

89.