Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1922

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

Mexico

1 and 2.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether the British members of the Mixed Claims Commission to be set up in Mexico have yet been appointed;

(2) whether, in view of the fact that an agreement has been entered into between the Mexican Finance Minister and the International Committee of Bondholders in the matter of Mexican external obligations, that the claims of British subjects against the Mexican Government may be submitted to a Mixed Commission, and that the country is governed in a peaceable and constitutional manner, there are any further obstacles to recognition by His Majesty's Government of the Mexican Government; and, if so. what are they?

I have not yet received particulars of the agreement reached between the Mexican Authorities and the International Committee, and am, therefore, unable to express any opinion on this point at the moment. The Mexican Government have forwarded to His Majesty's Government revised proposals for an agreement for the establishment of a Claims Commission, and these proposals are now being examined. Until this agreement has been finally negotiated, no appointments to the Commission can be made.

Is it a fact that so long ago as last October, in all essentials, the proposals of the Government as to the Mixed Claims Commission were agreed upon by the Mexican Government, and why is it necessary to draw this matter out so?

With regard to the agreement arrived at with the bankers and the Mexican Government, would it not be perfectly possible to obtain a copy of the agreement from the many representatives of the bankers in this country?

I will inquire about that. I should think it extremely probable that we have a copy at the Foreign Office, but I have not seen it myself.

Greece And Turkey

4.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a protest has been received from the Angora Government referring to the neutrality of the Constantinople zone, which was proclaimed by the Allied Great Powers, and complaining that the port of Constantinople is used freely by Greece as a naval base for aggressive action against Turkish Black Sea ports; and whether His Majesty's Government intend to allow this action to continue, or what steps are being taken?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but the protest has been addressed to the French and Italian Governments, as well as to His Majesty's Government, and inevitaby requires joint consideration.

Is it correct that the Greek warships are using Constantinople as a base?

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will put down a formal question as to that point.

Egypt

Barakat Pasha

5.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the treatment recommended for Barakat Pasha; whether the treatment was recommended by a qualified dentist; and whether, in the absence of a qualified dentist in the Seychelles, the treatment could be carried out?

The reply to the first portion of the question is in the negative. As regards the remainder, I have nothing to add to my reply to the question asked by the hon. Member on 5th April.

Can we have an assurance that the work will not be carried out by a blacksmith?

Negotiations

6.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the names of the Egyptians who are at present concerned in the negotiations with this country; and which of them are opposed to the return of Zaghloul Pasha from banishment?

As regards the first portion of the hon. Member's question, I would refer to my reply to a question asked on 22nd June by the hon. and gallant Member for Bromley (Lieut.-Colonel James). I am not aware of the views held by individual Egyptian Ministers respecting the return of Zaghloul Pasha.

In order that apprehensions may be removed, may I ask whether any recommendation has been made that they should declare an election and, from the chosen representatives, decide who shall negotiate with this country?

That is a different question altogether. The question of an election rests with the Egyptian Government.

Will it be necessary to decide who shall have a vote under the new Constitution before there can be any voting in Egypt?

Ought it not to be left to the Egyptians themselves to decide their constitutional election?

British Declaration

7.

asked the Under-Secretary of St-ate for Foreign Affairs whether Lord Granville's Egyptian despatch of 1884, to the effect that in important questions affecting the administration of Egypt the advice of His Majesty's Government should be followed, and that Ministers and Governors must carry out this notice or forfeit their offices, has been officially revoked by His Majesty's Government now that they have declared Egypt to be an independent sovereign State?

The Declaration to Egypt, which was approved by this House on the 14th March, replaces or revokes previous instructions with which it is inconsistent.

State Railways

8.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the revenues of the Egyptian State Railways constitute one of the securities to the foreign bondholders for the payment of Egyptian debt; whether he has any information that the Minister of Transport to the Egyptian Government has issued to himself and to members of his family 14 first-class free passes for life on the Egyptian State Railways; and whether, if this report be substantially accurate, steps can be taken to protect the interests of the Egyptians themselves or of the foreign bondholders against such abuses?

Save in so far as the general revenues of Egypt constitute security for the payment of interest on the Egyptian Debt, the revenue of the State railways is not specifically charged. I have no information that the Minister of Transport has issued 14 free passes for life to the members of his family; the last part of the question does not, therefore, arise.

Will the hon. Gentleman ascertain whether the facts are as stated?

I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend ought to ask me to make a rather frivolous inquiry of that kind.

In these affairs, again, would it not be better to leave it in the hands of the Egyptians to determine their policy?

Government Departments

Admiralty

9.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction which exists as a result of the prolonged inflation of the numbers in the Civil Service staff attached to the Admiralty, especially in view of the drastic reductions in the fighting personnel; whether it is considered that there is justification for employing 2,417 more persons at the Admiralty than were so employed in the year 1914, while the total number of ships of all kinds only exceeds the 1914 strength by 65 out of a total of 1,123; and by what date it is expected that commensurate reductions will have been made?

The figure of 2,417 quoted by the hon. and gallant Member is incorrect; it should be 1,678 if naval officers are included, or 1,561 if civil staff only be taken. A large proportion of this increase is employed for the benefit of the fighting personnel in the distribution of prize money, medals and marriage allowance, etc. It is hoped that a large part of this work will be completed by the end of this year, and that the numbers will then he considerably reduced. In the meantime they are under continual scrutiny and reduction.

In the meantime, may I ask how the hon. and gallant Gentleman can defend the increase of 400 per cent. or over in the case of naval constructors, who have nothing to do with marriage allowance? When will these people be reduced?

I have given a general answer. I think it would be better to put these matters of reduction of staff on an occasion when the subject can be debated.

Will a further reduction of staff in the Admiralty take place before the issue of clasps?

There is another question on the Paper with reference to that matter.

Ministry Of Pensions (Publicity Branch)

39.

asked the Minister of Pensions the names of the officials now employed in the Publicity Branch of the Ministry of Pensions and the salaries paid in each case; whether these officials are non-service men and retained on five-year contracts; and if he will explain under what circumstances such contracts were made and quote the Treasury Regulation authorising such procedure?

There are only two officials employed in the Publicity Branch at the present time—one, who is paid a salary of £700 a year, is a non-service man, and the other, a temporary male clerk with 71s. 6d. a week, is an ex-service man. The former officer was appointed in April, 1918, and was then assured by the Minister of Pensions at the time that his appointment would not be for a shorter period than five years. This officer relinquished a post carrying pensionable rights and he possesses special qualifications for the work.

War Office (Publicity Department)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give the number of officers employed in the Press or Publicity Department at the War Office; and how many of these are service men and how many non-service men?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the replies given to my hon. and gallant Friends the Members for Moss Side and Harhorough on the 19th and 27th June, respectively.

Post Office (Publicity Department)

52.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will give the number of officers employed in the Press or Publicity Department at the Post Office; and how many of these are service and how many non-service men?

One such officer is employed at the Post Office; he is a non-service man.

Royal Navy

Brazilian Centenary

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what vessels of war are at present stationed on the North American and West Indies station; what would be the extra cost of sending those vessels to Rio de Janeiro for the forthcoming exhibition; and whether this has been considered by their Lordships and with what result?

The force attached to the North America and West Indies station consists of the light cruisers

  • "Raleigh,"
  • "Capetown,"
  • "Calcutta," and
  • "Constance,"
and the sloops
  • "Valerian" and
  • "Wistaria."
The estimated additional cost of sending these skips to Rio de Janeiro is £38,000 including the return voyage. As implied in my reply to the Noble and gallant Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) on the 14th June, the Admiralty do not consider that these ships would constitute a squadron adequately representative of the British Empire.

Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that these four magnificent light cruisers would be better than nothing at Rio?

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that men engaged in commerce are extremely anxious that British ships should go to Rio?

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how long it is since the British flag has been shown in those waters?

Pembroke Dockyard

12.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty by how much the cost of the work carried out at Pembroke Dockyard on H.M.S. "Capetown," H.M.S. "President," and the R.F.A. "Oleander," exceeded the estimate in each case; whether, in view of the situation as disclosed by the figures and the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, the Admiralty will reconsider the decision to maintain Pembroke?

As far as can be ascertained, the amounts by which the cost of the work has exceeded the original estimate so far are

£
"Capetown"148,000
"President"18,500
"Oleander"17,000

These excesses have been contributed to by a number of causes, including additional work ordered, changes in wages and cost of materials, delays due to strikes and more urgent work, and generally to labour conditions during the last three years. These conditions, however, affect the work of all the dockyards, and the Admiralty are of opinion that the unsatisfactory results at Pembroke must be attributed mainly to inadequate output of work by the men employed there, and have called serious attention to the necessity for improvement. The reasons for the decision of His Majesty's Government with regard to the retention of Pembroke Dockyard have been given in previous answers and statements, to which I would refer my Noble and gallant Friend.

Is it not obvious that an extra cost of £180,000 is a very serious matter in these days, and is it not really better that the whole question of Pembroke dockyard should be reconsidered forthwith?

I quite agree as to the serious increase, but I have nothing to add to my answer and to my previous statements.

Was the decision to carry on with this work arrived at by the Admiralty or the Cabinet Secretariat?

It was arrived at by the Government in view of national interests.

I have already said in this House that, as far as the Admiralty is concerned, we can do without it.

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say who is responsible for supervising men who have turned out an inadequate output?

The Director of Dockyards under the Board of Admiralty, and we are taking fairly drastic steps in regard to that.

Was the view of the Admiralty frankly put before the Government?

Yes, certainly it was, and the question has been debated in this House, and when I introduced Vote 10 the other day I gave the full national reasons. I do not believe it would pay to do away with Pembroke in the present state of unemployment.

Table Money

15.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is the total estimated saving from the reduction of table money and allowances to flag officers and commodores: and what is the maximum reduction in any one case?

The estimated saving consequent on the reduction of table money to pre-War rates, which takes effect from the 1st July next is as follows:

Compared with rates in force prior to the 1st April, 1922£15,650
Compared with rates in force at present£11,900
The corresponding maximum reductions in any one case are £821 and £639 per annum respectively.

Is this the second reduction which has been made this year and is the figure of 800 exclusive of the reduction of 200 already effected in one particular instance?

On 1st July we shall be back to pre-War rates and that figure is inclusive.

Does the total figure of a single reduction of one officer amount to nearly £1,100 this year?

Capital Ships (Air Attacks)

16.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether it is proposed to carry out experiments with the various methods of attack from the air against any of the capital ships due to be scrapped under the terms of the Washington agreement?

Can we be informed of some details? How many ships are going to be experimented upon and when will it take place?

The experiments are being carried out on H.M.S. "Superb." These will be preceded by those on the monitor "Gordon," which does not come under the provisions of the Washington Treaty.

Prize Money

17.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that the first share-out of prize money was granted in full to the estate of every rating of the Royal Navy who was killed in action; if he is aware that the second share-out of prize money is being withheld from such estates; and if he will see that this matter is put right, and the dependant of no man killed in the service of his country shall be penalised for such service?

The amount of naval prize money correctly payable to the legal representatives of those killed on qualifying service is the amount which the latter would have earned had they continued to serve until the Armistice. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any specific case in mind which does not seem to have been dealt with on those lines, perhaps he will let me have the particulars.

Am I to understand from the answer that the family of a man who was killed in the service of the country early in the War is in at least as good a position as the family of a man who passed through the fighting and is now alive, and if my hon. Friend thinks this would be only just?

Yes, and if there are any special cases I shall be glad to have them.

56.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware of the great delay in the distribution of the second share-out of prize money; and if he can expedite the same?

13.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware of the delay in the distribution of naval prize money and the hardship thereby entailed; and whether he will take immediate steps to get this matter settled?

As stated in reply to the hon. Member for Plymouth on the 15th March last, the final distribution of naval prize money is expected to extend over a period of at least nine months. Groups of initial letters are being opened for payment as fast as the reduced staff available admits. Consideration is given to any cases of special necessity, the hardship of which is represented to the Admiralty and justifies special payment.

Housing Loans (Local Authorities)

21.

asked the Minister of Health if he will state the total amount of money borrowed for the purposes of financing the various Government assisted housing schemes by local authorities; the terms on which the money has been raised, including particulars of the amounts borrowed for periods, with or without a break clause, of five years and less, also for 10, 15, 20 years, and for over 20 years; and the rates of interest payable?

I must refer the hon. Member to the very full statement furnished in reply to his question of the 22nd March. Later information for the whole country is not yet available.

22.

further asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fall in the bank rate, he will favourably consider making loans to local authorities at a rate of interest not exceeding 3½ per cent., repayable over 60 years, to enable them without further State assistance to erect houses in those districts where serious overcrowding still continues and where there are large numbers in the building trades out of work?

No, Sir. The terms on which the Local Loans Fund can lend depend on the price at which local loans stock can be issued, which is only indirectly affected by changes in the bank rate. The hon. Member's proposal would involve a new Government subsidy for housing.

Has the right hon. Baronet in mind that the Government lent to Ireland many millions of money on more favourable terms, and why should not this country have the same advantage as has been given to the sister island?

Poor Law Relief

23.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the disparity existing between different provincial Poor Law areas with regard to the numbers of people receiving relief, and that whereas the numbers per 1,000 who were receiving relief on 31st December, 1921, in Liverpool, Sheffield, and Middlesbrough were 131, 122, and 109, respectively, the average number receiving relief in 34 other provincial unions was only 14 per 1,000; and, as these figures show a greater inequality of burden than exists in the London area, will he take steps whereby provincial Poor Law unions may have the advantage of relief similar to that afforded to the London unions by the equalisation of rates provisions contained in the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act which the Government passed last year to assist necessitous London areas?

I am aware of the disparity to which the hon. Member refers, and I have considered whether it would be possible to adopt some such plan as he suggests. But in view of the absence among the provincial unions of the common interest which is the basis of the Metropolitan arrangements, I doubt whether any such plan is practicable.

Has the right hon. Baronet considered whether a basis the same as the necessitous school area grant might not be worked out to get over the difficulties he foresees?

I have considered that very carefully, but do not see my way to get over the difficulty.

29.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will state the four boards of guardians in London who have the largest numbers of persons receiving outdoor relief at the present time; can he give the numbers in each case; will he state if any of these boards are paying above the scale of outdoor relief laid down by his Department; and, if so, which ones, and how much above the scale?

The four boards of guardians who have the largest numbers of persons in receipt of relief are Poplar, Greenwich, Wandsworth, and Camberwell. I am sending the hon. Member a statement of the details for which he asks.

Colne Valley Water Act

24.

asked the Minister of Health whether under the Colne Valley Water Act any preferential arrangement as to the supply of water has been given to members of the National Federation of Building Trades Employers and the London Master Builders' and Allied Industries Association?

There is no preferential treatment given under the Colne Valley Water Bill to the associations mentioned. I am informed that during the passage of the Bill through Parliament the promoters came to an arrangement with these associations, who had petitioned against the Bill, for the supply of water for building purposes, to which they would net otherwise be entitled; but the company did not themselves come under any obligation to give a supply to members of the associations on any better terms than to anybody else.

Borough Extension

25.

asked the Minister of Health what action he proposes to take with reference to the Doncaster Provisional Order, having regard to his decision to advise the setting up of a Royal Commission to consider the question of borough extensions in the counties and the constitution of county boroughs?

The proposed appointment of a Royal Commission was not intended to prejudice cases now under consideration, and as I understand that the town council are anxious to proceed with this Bill, which has now passed through Committee, I think that the question of its further progress should be left to the decision of the House.

When the right hon. Baronet announced the decision of the Government to set up a Royal Commission, did he not state that in the interval we must call a halt, and did he not at the same time give notice that no contentious proposals for the creation of county boroughs would be entertained by the Ministry, and is he not aware that this is a very contentious proposal, and will he explain his illogical and contradictory answer?

My answer was neither illogical nor contradictory. I said the Ministry will not accept, till the Royal Commission has reported, any more contentious business. This Bill has passed from the purview of the Ministry. What I intended to safeguard was application being made to the Ministry for further Provisional Orders. I never intended that a Bill which this House has accepted on Second Reading and in Committee should be subsequently withdrawn without the House having an opportunity of dealing with it rather than myself.

Rent Restrictions Act

28.

asked the Minister of Health if he will consider the desirability of calling a conference representative of both landlords and tenants to consider an agreed-on policy at the expiration of the Rent Restrictions Act, it being understood that the Government would give such policy the force of law?

I am afraid that it would be difficult to convene such a conference, and that even if it were convened it would not be likely to arrive at any agreement., but if my hon. Friend can make any suggestions for arriving at the desired result I shall be happy to consider them.

Unemployment

Statistics (London)

20.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can make any statement as to unemployment in London at the present time; whether there has been a general decrease for men, women, and young persons leaving school during the last few months; and how do the present figures of unemployed in London compare with the highest figures he has recorded?

There has been a continuous improvement in employment in the Greater London area during recent months. The percentage unemployed in insured trades on 22nd May, 1922, in the Greater London area was 10.6, as compared with 12.1 at the end of last January, and 13.2 on 27th May, 1921, when unemployment was at its highest point. On 19th June, 1922, there were on the live registers of Employment Exchanges in this area 156,775 men, 30,007 women, and 11,022 boys and girls; compared with 183,036 men, 81,193 women, and 28,382 boys and girls on 27th May, 1921.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the statement in the papers by the Mayor of Poplar that two yards have made application for unemployed, as they have work waiting to be done, and they cannot get the men in consequence of the treatment they are receiving at the hands of the guardians?

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire as to the accuracy of the statement?

In view of the enormous demand for domestic servants, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there are 30,000 unemployed?

left the Chamber, and returned with a copy of a newspaper, which he handed to Dr. Macnamara.

Glove Workers

18.

asked the Minister of Labour if he can state the number of glove workers who were totally or partially unemployed during the first week in May?

On 24th April, the nearest date for which particulars are available, there were 470 glove workers registered at Employment Exchanges in Great Britain as wholly unemployed, and 407 as working systematic short time.

Ireland

Gun-Running

30.

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he can state the extent to which gun-running from abroad is now being carried on in Irish waters; how many ships are known to have landed cargoes; how many have been detected; and what is the general policy of the Government in the matter?

I have no reason to suppose that gun-running from abroad is being carried on in Irish waters to any appreciable extent; nor so far as I am aware, has any ship successfully attempted to land a cargo of arms. One vessel carrying ammunition has been intercepted and her cargo confiscated. A second suspected vessel was also intercepted, but no arms were found on hoard her. In reply to the last part of the question, I can assure the hon. Member that the policy of His Majesty's Government has been, and will continue to be, to prevent by all possible means the acquisition of munitions of war by persons or parties known to be acting in defiance of lawful authority.

Is it a fact that factories have already been set up for the manufacture of ammunition, and what steps are being taken to prevent necessary materials being landed for that purpose?

The Provisional Government are within their rights in setting up factories for the manufacture of munitions if they find it necessary, or to apply to us or to make contracts abroad.

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to get accurate information as to whether or not arms are landed in Ireland?

I do not know. I cannot say; but we have intercepted several cargoes which were ordered for people who were opposed to the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government can import arms. They have only to ask for arms and they will be supplied with them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what right the British Government has to interfere with the importation of arms either by the Free State Government or by the Free State Government's opponents?

Would the right hon. Gentleman interfere with a citizen of Canada who was importing arms?

It is very difficult to know from a question like that what is the position of the hon. and gallant Member in these matters. We are passing through a very difficult time, which is not comparable to any existing situation in any of our great Dominions. The Provisional Government is in a period of transition, and very exceptional and anomalous procedure is involved in that period.

Is the House to understand that the Free State Government will be furnished with further supplies of arms if they ask for them?

If in my judgment, and with the approval of my colleagues, that course is thought necessary and proper, certainly.

Military Force, Southern Ireland

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can inform the House of the existence of any obstacles in the way of the Irish Provisional Government raising an adequate force to maintain law and order, from the absence of which so many British subjects are suffering; and whether, in that case, these obstacles are in any way due to causes whose removal this country might facilitate?

I am not aware of any material obstacles preventing the achievement of the desirable end indicated by the hon. Member; but there have been obvious political difficulties, which still exist, although I am glad to think that they are now far less formidable than before the recent elections. I know of no way in which His Majesty's Government can assist at present in the removal of these difficulties otherwise than by a consistent fulfilment of the policy which has been fully explained to the House.

Attack On Insurgents, Dublin

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he could give the House any account of the happenings in Dublin during the last 24 hours?

This morning at dawn the forces of the Provisional Government attacked the insurgent bands occupying the Four Courts in Dublin. This decision in no way arose out of the Debate in this House, nor in consequence of the declaration of His Majesty's Government to Parliament. It arose as the result of further aggressive anarchic action by Mr. Rory O'Connor's insurgents, culminating in the forcible seizure of one of the principal officers of the Irish Army.

I can add little to the information which has already been published by the Press on the course of the fighting. The Provisional Government are solely responsible for the operations, and they have so far made me no communication on the subject. They have declined all assistance from the Imperial forces, except so far as equipment is concerned.

The fighting is still in progress, and I have no trustworthy information as to casualties. The Four Courts appears to be a position of considerable structural strength, and no definite result has yet been achieved.

It is not for me to make suggestions. I merely asked a simple question.

Palestine (Mr Abramson)

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is proposed to appoint Mr. Abramson to a post in Palestine; if so, will he say what his name was before it became Abramson; and what his nationality was before it became British?

With regard to the first part of the question, Mr. Abramson has been holding a post under the Palestine Administration for the last two years, and it is proposed to retain his services. I have no information in regard to the second and third parts, and am not aware that there is any ground for the insinuations that they contain. Mr. Abramson has served the British Government with great credit both during and since the War.

Has the Colonial Office no information as to the latter part of the question, whether this gentleman is not an English-born subject, and whether there are not hundreds of retired officers, who fought during the War for us, who could have been appointed to this Governor's berth, rather than seeking a gentleman who was not. British born, but who was born a subject of one of the enemy countries?

We are at the present moment administering one of the former enemy countries, and it is natural that persons who have been resident in those countries and are deeply acquainted with all their affairs should be able to be of use and service. Mr. Abramson held a commission in the British forces and rendered valuable services during the whole process of the reconquering and reconquest of Palestine, and he is from every point of view a most reputable and competent man.

And not by faith a Jew. Will the right hon. Gentleman put a stop to these insinuations which suggest that, while a Jew may be employed in the British Civil Service in this country, or anywhere else, he may not be employed in Palestine: which is the policy of the anti-Semitic party led by the hon. Member?

Navy, Army, And Air Force Institutes

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware of the system whereby the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes supply goods in their shops at ordinary retail prices, less 8 per cent., and at the same time make a profit on the rations supplied to the men; if he is aware that profits as high as 50 and 75 per cent. are made in the wet and dry canteens, respectively; and if he will do anything to alter, for the benefit of the men, this method of privileged trading?

As the reply is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The shops to which my hon. Friend refers are presumably the service institutes conducted by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. These institutes are an integral part of the organisation of every Air Force station at home.

The practice of paying rebates on the gross takings in such institutions has been in force for a great many years, and was instituted long prior to the formation of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. Moneys received by way of such rebate are spent for the collective benefit of the men by the commanding officer of the unit or station. The suggestion implied in my hon. Friend's question that the 8 per cent. rebate is paid out of profits made on the sale of the articles for the commuted portion of the ration is entirely without foundation; the retail price of these articles is fixed on a basis which ensures that it shall not be more than the cost of the same articles if supplied by the Royal Army Service Corps.

I am advised that the percentage of profits in the wet and dry canteens, as quoted by my hon. Friend, are incorrect and exaggerated, and that while gross profits on certain lines, such as cups of tea and coffee, are undoubtedly high, the prices charged in service institutes do not admit of more than a low margin on the profits as a whole.

Such profits as may accrue eventually from trading in institutes, after necessary expenses have been met, would, in any event, be spent for the benefit of the men of the Services under the direction of the Board of Admiralty, the Army Council, and the Air Council.

The present system under which institutes of the Navy, Army and Air Force are conducted by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes was adopted after full consideration of the matter by a joint conference of the three Services, and I am satisfied that it is at the present time the best possible system from the point of view of the Royal Air Force and of the men themselves, who are represented on the local committee of management, and I do not propose to alter it.

Wireless Telephony (Weather Bulletin)

34.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the extent to which wireless telephony is being utilised in France to assist agriculture by broadcasting a weather bulletin twice daily from the national meteorological office; and whether any similar schemes are in contemplation for this country?

I have been asked to answer this question. Pending the result of inquiries which are being made, I have no information, other than that which has appeared in the Press, as to the French arrangements for issuing weather forecasts to agriculturists by wireless telephony. The feasibility of using wireless telephony for this purpose in this country is at present under consideration. I may say, however, that the Air Ministry issues daily by means of wireless telegraphy a number of weather reports which could be of considerable use to agriculturists, and with a view to meeting the case of agriculturists and others possessing, or about to instal, wireless receiving apparatus, a pamphlet giving particulars regarding these messages and instructions as to their reception and utilisation has been prepared and will he issued in the course of a few days. In addition, the pre-War arrangement by which afternoon forecasts were issued during the harvest season was extended two years ago, so as to enable a farmer, on payment of the cost of telegraphing, to obtain a special forecast at any time which suited his individual need.

St James's Park (Lake Buildings)

36.

asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he can explain the delay in clearing the lake buildings in St. James's Park and re-establishing the lake; whether he can now give a definite date when the work will be completed; and if it will be during the present summer months?

As regards the clearance of the buildings, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to a similar question on the 15th instant by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. As regards the re-establishment of the lake, I very much regret to say that preliminary experiments show that the fissures in the concrete bed are deeper and more numerous than was expected. This raises a very serious financial problem, and though no estimates of reparation have been prepared, I imagine that the cost would be serious, and under present conditions it may prove necessary to confine the work of repair to a small portion of the lake.

Dyestuffs

38.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any information which would indicate that critics of the British Dyestuffs Act have been in consultation or negotiation with representatives of German dyestuffs interests with a view to devising means of securing the modification or repeal of the British Dyestuffs Act?

No doubt persons interested in the importation of German dyestuffs into this country have endeavoured to obtain from German makers price quotations which can be adduced as arguments for the modification of the Act, but I have no reason to think that this has been done to any great extent.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Diabetes And Tuberculosis (Diet)

40.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, bearing in mind the need for special diet in cases of diabetes and tuberculosis, he will reconsider and revise the terms of Circular 2097, whereby special diet is to be disallowed in certain cases, and revert to the system hitherto in operation?

I would refer ray hon. Friend to the answer given on the 26th June to the hon. Member for Burslem in reply to a similar question, of which I am sending him a copy.

Widows' Pensions

41.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will give consideration to the terms of Article 11 of the Royal Warrant whereby the eligibility of a widow to be granted a pension is, among other conditions, that the soldier's death must occur within seven years of receiving a wound or injuries, with a view to cancelling this provision of the Article?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Wandsworth Central, on the 13th June, of which I am sending him a copy.

India

Army Officers (Discharge And Compensation)

42.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the number of captains and subalterns whom it is proposed to discharge from the Indian Army; what procedure is being adopted in the selection for discharge, and what compensation it is proposed to pay to officers of both ranks; and whether consideration will be given in special cases of hardship involved, particularly in the cases of young officers trained at Sandhurst, who have made the Army their career and have had no training for civil employment?

The number of surplus officers will be about 2,400, but is not yet finally determined. I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of the Regulations governing compensation. The selection is wholly in the hands of the military authorities in India, who will give as much consideration to personal circumstances as is consistent with the paramount interests of the Service and with justice to all parties.

Is it a fact that many of these officers who are excess served throughout the whole War?

That may be, but that does not affect the point that consideration is being given, so that the minimum of hardship will be caused, and the best officers can be retained.

Murder Of S P Eaton (Compensation)

43.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he is aware that the late Mr. Stanley Patrick Eaton, manager of the rubber plantation of the Pullangode Rubber Company at Manjeri, was murdered by the Moplahs during the Mappilla rising of 1921; that he had been assured by the collector of the Calicut district that it was quite safe for him to return to his estate; that the said Stanley Patrick Eaton was the sole support of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Netterville Albert Eaton, of Belcarres, Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin; that the said John Nettcrville Albert Eaton was from 1883 to 1896 an engineer under the Public Works Department of India, from which he was retired without pension, but with a compassionate gratuity of £250, owing to chronic dysentery contracted during his public service in India from complications of which he is still incapacitated; that the said J. N. A. Eaton has applied to the Government of Madras for compensation for the loss of his son and only means of support, and has received a reply from the Chief Secretary of the Government of Madras to the effect that the Government can accept no responsibility for loss of life caused during the Mappilla rebellion; if he is aware, however, that they granted compensation to the widow of the late Stanley Patrick Eaton; and if he will have the parents' claim reconsidered, having regard to their present almost destitute condition, and the father's past services for the Empire and his disability caused thereby?

I am aware of most of the circumstances stated in the hon and gallant Member's question, but I did not know that the request of the late Mr. Eaton's widow for compensation had already been met, or that the request of his father had been refused. I will send a copy of the question to the Madras Government for their consideration, but my Noble Friend does not feel that he could dictate to the local Government as to the manner in which they should deal with the very numerous applications from sufferers from the recent disturbances in Malabar.

Murder Of Sir Henry Wilson

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether O'Brien or Connolly, The murderers of the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, were released from prison in England or Scotland under the Treaty arrangements with the Sinn Fein Provisional Government?

I have been asked to reply. As this question has been put down, and failure to reply might create prejudice, I will depart from the usual procedure in regard to matters which are the subject of judicial proceedings, and reply to it. The answer is in the negative.

I would, however, beg hon. Members, while the case is sub judice, to refrain from putting questions of this kind, which are calculated to be prejudicial to persons awaiting trial. All the relevant facts will be disclosed at the proper time.

35.

asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, if he will state who is responsible for keeping the national flag flying at topmast on the public buildings, e.g., the Tower of London, the Customs House, and other State-owned buildings during the time when the public funeral of the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was in progress; and whether he is aware that keen resentment has in consequence been aroused, to allay which, will he make careful inquiry into the circumstances, and give such directions as he may deem necessary?

My Department is responsible for issuing instructions as regards flags on public buildings. Flags were not generally flown on public offices, but the War Office flew the flag half mast. The Admiralty flag is never lowered, even on the death of the Sovereign, but the White Ensign was flown on the Mall Arch at half mast as a mark of respect to the late Field-Marshal. The Tower, being a fortress, is under the jurisdiction of the Constable. The Custom House flies its own flag, like the Admiralty, and it is much regretted that through a misunderstanding this flag was not dropped. Instructions were given for the flag on the Houses of Parliament to tie flown at half mast during the funeral ceremony.

Has the hon. Gentleman received any explanation from the Constable of the Tower for the want of respect shown there?

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it was with your concurrence and approval that the notice appeared on Monday morning, the day of the funeral, stating that only those ticket-holders, Members of this House and others, who happened to possess near them Court suits or uniforms could attend the funeral?

I was one of those most anxious to pay my respects to the memory of the late Field-Marshal, but I was precluded from doing so. Although I have outgrown my Court suit, I have a uniform, but not here.

Hague Conference

46.

asked the Prime Minister if he can give the House any information with regard to the proceedings at the Hague Conference?

The meetings of the non-Russian Commission have been occupied with arranging the procedure for the work of the Conference. Three Sub-commissions have been formed, for debts, property and credits. Complete unanimity has been attained among the representatives of the Powers attending.

Has the question of credits been discussed between the British and the Russian delegates, and what instructions have been given to the British delegates in reference to that matter?

The Russian delegates only arrived at The Hague the day before yesterday. I am not in a position to answer the question at the moment.

What are the instructions of the British delegates with regard to that matter?

I dare say that I can give them if the hon. and gallant Member will give me notice.

Coal Industry

Prices (Reduction)

48.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether the reduction of 9s. per ton in London in the prices of the best house coal is also being proportionately introduced in the prices of coal in the provincial districts; and, if not, why, when there is such a reduction in the prices of coal, the benefits cannot be extended to all classes of the community irrespective of residence?

I believe that there is a tendency for the retail price of coal to fall in the provinces as well as in London, but I have not the information to enable me to give a categorical answer to the hon. Member's question. As regards the last part of the question I would remind the hon. Member that the price of coal depends upon factors which are not uniform throughout the country, and over which the Government have no control.

Production (Cost)

49.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that coal is selling in London at 40s. per ton; can he say what the coal-getter at the coalface gets per ton; what is charged for royalty, rent, and wayleaves per ton; what for plant per ton and carriage or freights per ton: and what coal merchants got per ton for delivery in London?

I understand that the cheaper qualities of house coal are now selling in London at rather less than 405. a ton, but I am not in a position to give, an analysis of the production costs of particular classes of coal. With regard to distribution costs I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Keighley on the 29th May.

Miners' Wages

50.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that miners' wages are only 20 per cent. above 1914 wages, or one-fifth; that the cost of living is 80 per cent., or four-fifths, above 1914 prices; that miners' wages depend on the selling price of coal less the expenses of the trade: and that this means a further reduction of miners' wages; and will he say what course the Government intend to take to meet the cases of such reductions?

On the first two parts of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 26th June to the hon. and gallant Member for Farnworth, and on the last part to the answer given on the 27th June to the hon. Member for Abertillery. A reduction in the pithead price of coal does not necessarily mean a reduction in the men's weekly earnings. Apart from the fact that many miners are now, unfortunately, on the guaranteed minimum, it is possible that a reduction in price may lead to increased trade, and so to more regular working and a reduction in cost per ton.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the children of these miners are not getting enough food, and will he call on the nation that has to pay in the future through the weakness of its men and its women to take action?

Will the right hon. Gentleman have some inquiry made as to how it is that the miners cannot get a sufficient wage, the owners cannot earn a profit, and yet the price of coal is so high that industries cannot he re-established?

I cannot agree as to an inquiry. I regret very much what the hon. Member has told me, but I have no power to grant any money.

Is this the reward for those left behind by the men who laid down their lives on the battlefield?

Post Office (Receipts)

51.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the increase in Post Office receipts for the period from 1st April to 17th June, compared with the corresponding period of last year; and what proportion of that increase is derived from the postal carrying service, telephones, and telegraphs, respectively?

The payments into the Exchequer between the 1st April and the 17th June, 1922, were £2,000,000 in excess of the payments during the corresponding period in 1921. This increase is accounted for almost entirely by the telephone receipts, which were abnormally low in the early months of 1921–22 owing to the introduction of the system of deferred payments under the new tariff.

Forestry Commission (Annual Report)

57.

asked the hon. Member for Monmouth, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, if he can say when the Annual Report of the Forestry Commission will be published?

The Second Annual Report of the Forestry Commissioners will be published early in July.

Women Police Patrols

60.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that he has stated that the Metropolitan police women patrols will be reduced and not disbanded, he will state how many he proposes to retain and in what capacities and for what duties?

I cannot give a definite answer as yet, but up to the present it has been arranged that three women patrols should be retained for the purpose of taking statements from women and girls.

Is it not a fact that the three women who have been offered the post have refused it, because they realised that it was only camouflage?

I do not think that that is so. I understand from the Commissioner that they have accepted it.

61.

asked the Home Secretary when he proposes to institute the inquiry into the work of the Metropolitan police women patrols?

I am not aware that there is any necessity for further inquiry at the present time.

Palace Of Westminster (Night Guardianship)

62.

asked the Home Secretary if the night guardianship of the Palace of Westminster is to be taken from the police and entrusted to a body of amateur constables; and, if so, whether, owing to the lack of intimate knowledge of these men that must prevail, he will say why this policy has been adopted?

In the interests of economy, the police who have been employed on night watching duties at the Houses of Parliament are to be substituted by night watchmen. I need hardly add that the men in question have been selected with the greatest care.

In view of recent happenings, is not that a rather dangerous thing to do at the present time, when these buildings and the rooms of Ministers should be guarded by police the whole time?

No, I do not think so. We are only carrying out what is the custom in every other Government Department in the country.

Russia (Mrs Stan Harding)

3.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will inform the House what is the exact position in which the claim of Mrs. Stan Harding against the Russian Soviet Government for compensation in respect of illegal imprisonment and theft on arrival in Russia with a safe conduct from the Soviet authorities, which was supported by a special despatch from the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, now stands?

Mrs. Stan Harding's claim will be put forward together with the claims of other British subjects if and when the negotiations with the Soviet Government at The Hague reach the stage at which such action can be taken.

Is the hon. Member aware that this claim was put forward at the Genoa Conference, and that an express demand was made many months ago by the Foreign Secretary, and is it not unfair to this unfortunate lady that her claim should not be met while trading agreements are being negotiated? Should not a matter of this kind, involving the liberty of a British subject who was, admittedly, under a safe conduct which has been infringed, take precedence of a trading arrangement?

It is a matter of importance, but my hon. Friend does not realise that there is a great number of other cases.

Is there any precedent, for referring a case of insult and injury to a British subject to w economic conference?

Mormons

asked the Home Secretary whether he has received any report as to the tarring and feathering of three Mormons; whether any arrests have taken place; and, if not, whether any steps are being taken to put a stop to the recurrence of such incidents?

I have not received any report as to such an incident. The police are ordinarily able to prevent the occurrence of such outrages in this country, but no police system could preclude altogether the possibility of their occurrence.

Does that answer mean that the police are not going to do all they can to protect all persons in this country, even if they are Mormons?

Convict Conmy (Disciplinary Sentence)

59.

asked the Home Secretary whether the disciplinary sentence upon Convict Conmy, living in chains for six months for having broken prison, can be reviewed in consideration of the severity of the punishment?

An order was given by a Director of Convict. Prisons that Conmy should be restrained by chains weighing about seven pounds fastened round his ankles and to a belt round his waist. It is done as a precaution against escape. The question of abolishing the system is under consideration. I am in consultation with the Prison Commissioners as to the immediate removal of the restraint from Conmy. No other prisoner is so restrained.

Apart from the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman, how long would such punishment continue? Is it true that such punishment was to continue in this case for six months?

Not necessarily. The Regulation permits its continuance for six months, but I am informed that it is very rarely continued for anything approaching that time.