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Oral Answers To Questions
29 June 1922
Volume 155

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

Poor Law Relief

1.

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asked the Minister of Pensions if his attention has been called to cases where large amounts of Poor Law relief have been granted to persons to whom Army or Navy pensions were due, but which were delayed in issue; that in a recent case £3 a week was given in poor relief to a widow and her family for nine months, and when the pension and arrears, amounting to over £100, was received by her she spent the whole amount without repaying any part of the relief granted; if, as similar cases have occurred, arrangements can be made by which the guardians can claim direct from the Ministry of Pensions when relief is given in anticipation of a pension which is ultimately granted, and thus relieve the ratepayers of a financial burden which is not fairly theirs; if he is aware that the Minister of Health, in a circular, No. 281, impressed on boards of guardians and all Government Departments the necessity of close co-operation in public administration; and if he will see that his Department assists in this direction?

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I am giving this matter my personal consideration, and I hope it may be found possible to make arrangements which will meet my hon. Friend's proposal.

Special Diets

6.

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has recently withdrawn the special diet allowed to pensioners in tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus cases; and whether, since the withdrawal of these diets is a breach of faith to the pensioners concerned who received their pensions plus the special diets, and who will now be compelled to purchase such necessary diets from their pensions, he will withdraw the circular issued by his Department cancelling these diets?

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I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Burslem on the 26th June, of which I am sending him a copy. Additional allowances for special diet have not been withdrawn from pensioners suffering from tuberculosis or diabetes. The allowance is indeed expressly continued in these cases by the new Regulations when the rate of pension or allowances and other circumstances justify the grant. I may add that the allowance in question is not provided for by the terms of the warrants, and has never been attached to any class of pension. No breach of faith is therefore involved by the modification of the Regulations.

Pensioners (Deaths)

7.

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asked the Minister of Pensions the number of men, women and children pensioners in charge of his Department who have died during the years 1920 and 1921?

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I regret to say that during the years 1920 and 1921 the approximate number of deaths among pensioners was as follows:

Men19,500
Widows and other Dependants16,000

Widows' Pensions

8.

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asked the Minister of Pensions what is the limit of years allowed by his Department during which a widow can claim a widow's pension in the event of her husband, being an ex-service man, dying from disease or wounds caused by the War; and whether, in view of the number of men who have died as a result of war service after a period of years, he can see his way to propose a longer period of years than is now allowed during which a widow may claim a pension?

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I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the time limit of seven years in Article 11 of the Royal Warrant, and I would refer him 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.

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Is the period of seven years extended in special cases?

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The cases are very few in number. I am told there are only ten, and I am treating individual cases on their merits.

Pensions (Commutation)

47.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that in the case of pensioners wishing to commute their pensions considerable hardship is inflicted when they are compelled to board for commutation hundreds of miles away from their homes; and can he arrange that in the case of ex-members of the Royal Irish Constabulary they shall be boarded for commutation of pensions by a board nearest to their homes, thus entailing upon them the minimum of expense and physical effort?

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Special arrangements have been made for dealing with these particular cases by the appointment of medical referees in London, Manchester and Glasgow, and all possible regard is had to economy and convenience in arranging the requisite examinations. I may add that if an applicant resides at some distance from the nearest centre he is paid the cost of his railway fare.

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Why is it not possible, seeing that enormous number of Irish soldiers who fought in the War, to board in some part of Ireland? Why should these men be dragged across to London? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that recently an officer who had both legs shot off and has to crawl along the floor on stumps had to come to London and—

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This is not the time for speeches.

Children Allowances

2.

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has had his attention drawn to the hardship of stopping children allowances in treatment cases, particularly in cases of prolonged treatment, in respect to children born more than nine months after treatment commenced, as laid down in the new regulations, paragraph 242D, sub-paragraph 3 (a); and whether, seeing that this regulation is at variance with the terms of Article 24 (3) of the Royal Warrant, he will consider the advisability of revising the interpretation mentioned in the Fortnightly Circular G, paragraph 7.

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My right hon. Friend is not prepared to modify these instructions in the manner suggested. Treatment allowances were designed to meet the circumstances and family obligations of the patient at the time that treatment commenced. Article 6 of the Royal Warrant has been generously interpreted so as to permit of allowances being paid for children born within nine months after treatment commenced; but they are not properly payable in respect of children born at a later date.

Labour Corps (Private F G Stacey)

5.

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asked the Minister of Pensions, in reference to Private Fairfax George Stacey, No. 181,699, Labour Corps, who died on the 2nd February, 1922, whether he is aware that he was discharged from the Army as unfit on 21st August, 1917; that he attended St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the London neurological clinic for treatment up to the 4th November, 1921; that after that date he was too ill to attend; that owing to his disability the pension which he was receiving was increased; that the doctor of the neurological clinic certified that his death was undoubtedly due to weakness caused by war service; that his widow applied for a pension more than three months ago; that owing to her circumstances she has since been in receipt of poor relief; and that no decision on her case has yet been received from the local war pensions committee; and whether he will make inquiries with a view to her case being dealt with at the earliest possible date?

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The late soldier was discharged on account of dysentery and subsequently received pension and medical treatment for that disability and for hysteria. He died some 4½ years after discharge from broncho-pneumonia which, after full consideration of all the circumstances, the Ministry were unable to accept as being connected with military service. The widow was informed on the 21st June of the rejection of her claim to pension and of her right of appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal.

Ex-Service Men

Ministry Of Pensions

3.

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asked the Minister of Pensions how many of the staff employed at any of the headquarters of the Ministry in London consist of ex-service officers and men; will he give a comparison of the numbers so employed with the number employed on 30th June or other convenient date in 1921; and will he say how many ex-officers are now employed as compared with the number employed on the above-mentioned date?

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During the past 12 months the total number of staff employed at, headquarters was reduced by 1,867. As a result of substitution 2,107 ex-service officers and men were employed in the Ministry's headquarter offices on the 1st June this year, as against 1,670 on the corresponding date last year. I regret that I am not in a position to answer the last part of the question. Officers are not shown separately in the statistics kept of the ex-service staff.

Unemployment

51.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in reviewing the question of the gap of five weeks between the lapse of unemployment benefit and its renewal in accordance with the undertaking of the Prime Minister, he will specially consider the position of ex-service men who have at present no chance of employment; and when will he be able to announce the decision of the Government on the subject as a whole?

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All relevant considerations will be borne in mind, but it would be impracticable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts to distinguish between ex-service men and others. As regards the last part of the question, I hope that an announcement may be made shortly.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that some special dis- crimination should be given in the case of ex-service men who are suffering in this way from unemployment?

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A great deal of time and attention have been devoted to this subject, and I am afraid the conclusion is that it is impossible to make that discrimination now.

War Office

67.

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether there are employed at the War Office at the present time two non-service intelligence or Press officers; whether he is aware that there are many trained journalists who served with His Majesty's forces who are fully qualified to discharge the duties now discharged by these non-service men; and whether he will take steps to substitute ex-service men for these non-service men?

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

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Does that mean that my hon. Friend is going to get rid of these non-service men and put service men in their places?

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No. If the hon. and learned Member refers to the answer I have mentioned, he will see what it means.

Royal Air Force

Aeroplanes

10.

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asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been directed to the fact that at the recent display of the Royal Air Force at Hendon the aeroplanes used were each, approximately, four years old; whether similar machines are being used in Iraq, Somaliland, and India on active service: whether any squadrons of the Royal Air Force are equipped with up-to-date aeroplanes; what number of new and improved aeroplanes have been supplied to squadrons of the Royal Air Force this year; and what is the cost of such supply?

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In answer to the first question, it is true that the aeroplanes used at Hendon, with the exception of the experimental machines, were not less than four years old, but they were all thoroughly sound and serviceable, many of them recently re-conditioned, and all capable of satisfactory performance. As regards the second and third questions, the same general remark applies, but some of the squadrons abroad have been partly re-armed with new aeroplanes, and the four squadrons working with the Navy are being completely re-armed. The answer to the fourth and fifth questions is, that 10 aeroplanes of new type have been issued to squadrons since the 1st April, 1922, and that the approximate cost was £106,000.

11.

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asked the Secretary of State for Air if he can give the date of construction of the majority of machines now in use for air work in Iraq; whether these machines are satisfactory and their carrying capacity adequate when the proper load of petrol is carried for the desert journey; and at what date will more modern machines, such as those being now used on the, London-Paris route, be sent out to replace the older types?

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With the exception of the Vickers type, all the aeroplanes used on the cross-desert route are either of 1918 or 1919 build; the Vickers, of 1921 build, with a few of 1919 and 1920. These aeroplanes are all serviceable, and it would be expensive and quite unnecessary to replace them at present. In the interests of economy, it is urgently necessary to use up existing serviceable war stocks of aeroplanes before ordering new ones. The aeroplanes are not specially built for the cross-desert route, and it is neither necessary, nor practicable to build a new type of aeroplane for every kind of work which the Air Force has to do. The civil aeroplanes used on the London-Paris route are of a variety of types, and would not be suitable for Royal Air Force work without extensive modifications. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the question of the re-equipment of the Royal Air Force with new types of aeroplanes is fully recognised as one of the greatest importance and is being given constant careful consideration by my expert advisers.

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Is it not a fact that many firms engaged in the manufacture of aircraft and aircraft engines are being compelled to go out of business altogether through lack of orders?

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I regret to say there is a good deal of truth in the Noble Lord's supplementary.

Burney Airship Scheme

13.

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asked the Secretary of State for Air if his Department has approved the Burney airship scheme; and, if any reservations were made., what were those reservations?

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The Burney airship scheme has been referred to the Committee of Imperial Defence for consideration, and I do not think that it would be proper for me to make any further statement on the matter at the present time.

32.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Burney airship scheme has yet been considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence; and when a decision may be expected?

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The Burney airship scheme is being considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence, and it is hoped that a decision will be taken at an early date.

Civil Aviation

12.

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asked the Secretary of State for Air, in view of the allegations now being made that civil aviation in this country has almost entirely disappeared, and that the aircraft industry is lacking in orders to keep it in a normal healthy condition, whether he will state what steps he proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs?

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It would be impracticable to deal adequately with the state of civil aviation in this country by way of question and answer, and I can only repeat the suggestion made in my reply to the hon. Member for East Leyton on the 19th June, that, if the House desires, an opportunity to discuss the question can be taken on the Civil Aviation Vote, which is still on the Paper.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman speak to the Leader of the, House, with a view to getting an additional Supply day for this important purpose?

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I suggest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the usual channels.

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I am asking whether the right hon. Gentleman will support those who wish for an additional day. He is aware that the 20 days are fully occupied with controversial and political topics.

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Is it not advisable, seeing that a Committee is now sitting on civil aviation, that the matter should be left in abeyance until their first report comes forward, and is it riot a fact that that report is expected very shortly?

Egypt

Martial Law

15.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government will reconsider the continuance of British martial law in Egypt now that that country has been declared an independent foreign State?

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I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on this subject to his question of the 25th May.

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Thank you for the reply. On what grounds is martial law continued?

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If the hon. Member will look at the relevant White Paper he will find what he asks for.

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Could we get any information as to the grounds for the continuation of martial law?

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I think I have already given the hon. Member, or one of his colleagues, an answer on that very question. If he will put down a definite question I will endeavour to give a satisfactory reply.

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Who is responsible for the continuation of martial law? Is it the British or the Egyptian Government?

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I should like to have notice.

Railway Department (Mr Pearson)

16.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Mr. Pearson, an administrator in the Egyptian Government Railway Department, has been for some time incapacitated for work through illness, and that he is now carried to and from his office daily since his sick-leave has expired; and whether, since this leads to inefficiency in the working of his Department, His Majesty's Government will instruct Lord Allenby to order his retirement?

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I have no information regarding the first part of the question. The remainder does not therefore arise. I should add that, in any case, Lord Allenby would have no power to intervene in such a matter.

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Will the hon. Member endeavour to get some information?

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Ireland

Trust Funds

9.

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asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that there are persons domiciled in Great Britain who are beneficiaries of trust funds in charge of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland; will such persons be liable to taxation both in Great Britain and Ireland in respect of such funds; will opportunity be given them of having these funds transferred to Great Britain; and will he say when and to whom should application for transfer be made?

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The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In reply to the second part, discussions are taking place between the Imperial and Provisional Governments with a view to dealing with cases of double Income Tax arising out of the grant of Dominion status to Ireland. As regards the third and fourth parts, the question whether such funds can be transferred from the courts in which they are vested depends upon the circumstances of the litigation out of which the trust arose, and in some cases such a transfer would no doubt be possible with the con- sent of all parties concerned, but His Majesty's Government see no grounds for any special steps in the matter, nor indeed would legislation on such a subject be practicable.

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Would it not be possible, seeing that these funds were paid in in Ireland at a time when Ireland was under the control of this country, for persons interested to transfer their funds to England for safety under existing circumstances, and will the right hon. Baronet consider the propriety of legislation in order to give effect to the wishes of beneficiaries?

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If the hon. Baronet will read the answer, I have answered both those points.

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Has the right hon. Baronet considered the propriety of legislation with a view to protecting the interests of persons who have paid funds into court on a certain faith and footing and who desire to transfer them to England now?

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Will any opportunity be afforded to Members of the House to discuss the terms the right hon. Baronet says are being arranged between the Imperial Government and the Provisional Government?

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I presume the hon. Gentleman refers to double Income Tax?

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Not necessarily in all cases. There may be other taxes of a like kind. Double taxation is contemplated in my question.

Sinn Fein Outrages (Sentences)

23 and 24.

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asked the Home Secretary (1) whether, with reference to the case which occurred at Bromley, Kent, on 16th June, 1921, in which the police were shot at by Sinn Fein criminals, and two of the police concerned were awarded the police medal for bravery, and for which crime four men were arrested, one of whom got 12 years' penal servitude, and the other three got 10 years' penal servitude, he can state whether these men are now serving their sentence or whether they have been released; and, if so, on what date;

(2) whether, in the cases of incendiarism and attempted murder which occurred at Wandsworth, when six or seven arrests were made and convictions obtained against Sinn Fein miscreants, and at Mitcham, where one arrest was made and conviction obtained, and at Clerkenwell, where two arrests were made and convictions obtained, he can state whether these persons are still serving their sentence or whether they have been released; and, if released, upon what date, and after having served what period of their sentence?

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I am not sure what is the Clerk-enwell case to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, but as regards the others the eight men convicted were released from prison in February last in pursuance of the amnesty for offences committed prior to the truce from Irish political motives. They had served from eight to twelve months.

Attack On Insurgents, Dublin

( by Private Notice)

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any further information with reference to the happenings in Dublin during the last 24 hours?

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I am afraid I have very little to add to the full and continuous reports which are reaching this country through the medium of the Press. The Provisional Government, as I said yesterday, are conducting these operations and they are not reporting their progress to me officially in any way. They appear to be persisting in their operations with resolution. There are considerable difficulties from the point of view of the great structural strength of the building in the lower portion of which the insurgents are ensconced, and the artillery have not yet made sufficient impression upon them to induce a surrender. There has been a certain amount of disorder in different parts of the City of Dublin by sympathisers with the insurgents, who have commandeered houses at different points from which they have fired on the passers-by and of course upon Free State troops. This again is a subject of some consequence. The situation is not wholly free from anxiety, but we are confining our assistance entirely to supplying the Government of the Free State with any material they may require, and they have continued to decline any assistance of any sort or kind from the British troops, in which they are no doubt well advised, as it is undoubtedly an Irish quarrel, in which the Irish Provisional Government are acting in the sense of the mandate they have received from the Irish people.

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Has the right hon. Gentleman any information to give beyond what appears in the public Press? Surely he must be in communication with the Commander-in-Chief there and also with Mr. Cope, at Dublin Castle, who would inform him fully of what is going on?

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I have a good deal of information of one kind and another, but I have no information beyond what has appeared in the Press which it would be useful for me to give to the House or which the House in its discretion would wish me to give. Naturally, I make continual inquiries and get a good deal of information, but, on the whole, I think the case is pretty fairly put by the reports which are appearing in the newspapers.

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Are we to understand from the answer that the British Government are giving arms and ammunition to the Free State troops, and, if so, what guarantees have we that those Free State troops will not mutiny and turn round against us?

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We are certainly giving arms and ammunition to the Free State troops, and I am sure that in so doing we are acting in full accordance with the wishes and intentions of the House when it passed the Irish Free State (Agreement) Bill.

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If we are giving arms and ammunition to the Free State troops, what steps are we taking to ascertain whether this is really a serious affair or only a sham fight?

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In a sham fight people do not usually get killed, and I deprecate very much suggestions which seem to show that the Irish Provisional Government and the troops under their orders are not doing the very best they can loyally and effectively to carry out the Treaty and to maintain order in their country. They are making an effort and they are suffering, and it, is quite true of both sides that there is little organisation. Both sides are weak, but it is certainly not a time to mock at a serious attempt made by men who are striking a blow for the freedom, order and ultimate unity of their country.

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If this be purely an Irish quarrel, can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that there will be no interference on the part of British troops in Dublin?

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Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, I would like to know what action British troops would take, providing the Free State troops were finally defeated?

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We have enough real trouble on our hands without my attempting to forecast our actions in such hypothetical conditions.

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If the—

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The original question has been very fully answered.

Lost Property (Police Charges)

19.

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what Statute and Regulations Scotland Yard charges 2s. 6d. in the £ on articles lost and found and restored by the police to the rightful owners; what portion of such percentage is paid to persons, other than the police, who assist in finding such property, and what becomes of the remainder; when lost property is returned to Scotland Yard by persons who demand and are paid nothing for their trouble, is the same percentage charged against the owner; and, if so, why?

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The charges payable in respect of property found in public carriages are fixed by the Secretary of State's Order made under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act, 1869, and the London Cab and Stage Carriage Act, 1907, to which I would refer my hon. Friend. The whole reward goes to the driver or conductor who deposited the property. If he does not claim the reward the loser is not charged with it. The Order to which I have referred relates only to property found in public carriages and no award is chargeable in any other case.

Convict Conmy (Disciplinary Sentence)

20.

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asked the Home Secretary whether Arthur Conmy, who escaped from Parkhurst Prison, has been punished by being put into an iron belt and fetters connected with 6-lb. chains; whether this punishment is to continue for six months; and, if so, whether he will take steps to have this punishment mitigated?

22.

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asked the Home Secretary whether a prisoner who recently escaped from Ryde Prison and was recaptured has been sentenced to confinement in chains; if so, for how long; what is the weight of the chains; who passed this sentence upon him and who confirmed it; whether he has approved of this sentence; and how many other prisoners are at present undergoing this punishment?

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I would refer to the answer I gave yesterday to the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. The chains have been removed.

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Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in addition to the change in this particular, he will take steps to see that the whole system which imposes such punishment shall be abolished?

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I said yesterday that the question of its abolition is under consideration.

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Am I right in understanding that usually a person who escapes in that way is flogged, and that in this case chains were placed upon the man in lieu of flogging him.? Am I to understand that if chains are not to be used in future we are to return to flogging?

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No. I am not quite sure whether it is possible to flog for trying to escape. In any case it would not be a substitute for chains.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman substitute some other penalty for attempting to escape than that of putting the person in chains?

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I have dealt with that question.

Cinema Exhibitions

21.

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asked the Home Secretary if he has received representations from the Somerset county education committee as to the mental, moral, and physical harm done to children and young persons by certain classes of cinema exhibitions, and calling for more effective control; whether this impression is confirmed by his Department; and whether he will invite the opinions of other representative bodies, both as to the exact nature of the evil and the means of remedy most suited to their local conditions?

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Yes, Sir, I have received such representations. No doubt many films are exhibited which are not fit for children to see. I have recently consulted local authorities as to their exercise of the powers they possess under the Cinematograph Act, 1909. I will consider the suggestion in the last part of the question.

Loans To Allies (Interest)

25.

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asked the Prime Minister, with reference to the money advances made by us to other countries and to our request for interest on these advances as from October next, whether he will say what rate of interest is to be charged; and whether that rate of interest will be the same as the interest charged by America upon the debt we owe to that country?

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No request has yet been made to the Allied Governments in question for payments of interest in cash in October next, but they have been informed that His Majesty's Government must be regarded as free to make such a request. The rate of interest to be charged will be a matter for discussion, as is also the rate to be paid on our debt to the United States Government. Hitherto interest has been calculated on our advances to the Allied Governments in question at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum, with some small exceptions. Interest on our debt to the United States Government has also hitherto been calculated at 5 per cent. per annum.

Peace Treaties

Royalist Movement, Germany

26.

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asked the Prime Minister whether instructions have been sent to His Majesty's representative in Berlin with reference to the attitude that he should adopt towards any proposed restoration of the Hohenzollern or Wittelsbach houses to the throne of Germany; and whether he can assure the House that the chief interest of His Majesty's Government in Germany is the retention and stabilisation of the existing government?

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I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I returned to him on the 22nd June, to which I have nothing to add.

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May I ask the Prime Minister whether he appreciates the fact that any declaration by him would prevent this disastrous action taking place in Germany, and would, therefore, be far more useful made now than after the event in question?

Police, Germany

31.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the German Government have intimated to the Allies that they do not propose to carry out, until 1925 the obligations entered into, consequent upon their acceptance of the London ultimatum of 5th May, 1921, with respect to the placing of the police upon a pre-War footing; and whether, seeing that this means in effect that Germany is retaining a military force largely in excess of that allowed under the Treaty of Versailles, he will state what steps will be taken to compel Germany to carry out her undertakings on a question vital to the establishment of European peace?

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I have been asked to answer this question. The German Government has submitted proposals to the Inter-Allied Military Commission of Control for the re-organisation of the police forces. These proposals are at present under examination by that body.

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Would not that have the effect of practically putting a large proportion of the police on a military footing?

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I do not know what the proposals are, so I cannot say.

40.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, seeing that the German Government is required under the Treaty of Peace, and conventions entered into subsequently, to place the various police forces under the control of the local authorities on the same footing as in 1913, and that the German Government have arranged to maintain 75,000 police in Prussia alone as a mobile State force with complete military equipment, leaving under local control less than 10,000 of the older men who are no use for military service, what action will be taken to compel the disbandment of this force?

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I have been asked to answer this question. The information in my possession is that the German Government have not arranged to maintain in Prussia a total of 75,000 mobile police, with full military equipment; the second part of the question does not therefore arise.

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For how many police have the German Government arranged in lieu of the 75,000 mentioned in the question?

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I am afraid that I cannot answer that.

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Is it not obvious that recent events in Germany make it necessary for the Republic to maintain a sufficient police force? Are not my hon. Friends behind me simply helping the Monarchists in Germany?

41.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the present total strength of the police forces in Germany of which the Allies have reliable knowledge; and what proportion of the men are accommodated in barracks and how many live at home or in lodgings?

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I have been asked to answer this question. Germany is allowed to maintain a total of 150,000 police in accordance with the Boulogne Note of June, 1920; the Inter-Allied Military Commission of Control have not reported that the police forces are over strength at the present time. The War Office have no detailed information as to the number of police accommodated in barracks; this question is at present the subject of negotiations between the German Government and the Inter-Allied Military Commission of Control.

Army Of Occupation (Rhine And Silesia)

48.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total cost of the Army of Occupation on the Rhine and Silesia since 1st April, 1922?

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My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The cost of the British Army of Occupation on the Rhine and in Silesia for the period 1st April to 30th June, 1922, is estimated at £600,000.

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How much of this is met by the German indemnity?

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That should be addressed to the Treasury.

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Is it £600,000 altogether or £600,000 in addition to the cost that would be incurred in any case?

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£600,000 altogether—the two combined.

Unemployment

Benefit (Necessitous Areas)

27.

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asked the Prime Minister if he can now announce the result of the sympathetic consideration which he promised the deputation he received from necessitous areas last week he would give their suggestion that the gap period of five weeks waiting for unemployment benefit should be abolished, in order that local authorities should not have thrown upon their rates the additional burden of maintaining those receiving no benefit during these five weeks?

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This question is being carefully investigated by the various Departments concerned, and I am not yet in a position to give the decision of the Government upon it.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman realise how seriously this question is pressing on industries in the necessitous areas, and that it will strangle trade unless something is done promptly? Can he give an early sympathetic reply.

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I am fully alive to that. It was represented to me with very great force, as the hon. Member knows, by a deputation quite recently, but it involves a great deal of consideraation of finance.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is simply starving our people by instalments?

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It is not really a question of starvation, but it is a question of the burden on the rates.

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Is it not a fact that the local authorities are practically bankrupt, and that in many places they cannot afford to give. relief?

Middlesbrough

56.

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asked the Minister of Health if he will state the total number of persons relieved and the amount paid in relief by the Middlesbrough Board of Guardians in the week ending 7th June, and the corresponding figures for the two preceding years and for 1914, or for the nearest similar period for which figures are available in those years; and the amount in the pound of the Middlesbrough Guardians' precepts for the half-years ending Michaelmas 1914, 1920, 1921 and 1922?

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I am sending the hon. Member the information he desires.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman hand the same information to members of the Cabinet who are considering the needs of necessitous areas?

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Certainly; if they require information on the subject I will transmit it to them.

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Will it appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

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Aerial Defence

28.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will give the names of the persons forming the Committee to consider the problem of aerial defence; how long the Committee has been in being; how many sittings have been held; who is the chairman, and what means are taken to consult the War Office, Admiralty and Air Ministry, and to keep them informed of the conclusions arrived at?

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It is not considered desirable to give the information asked for as to the composition and proceedings of committees conducting secret inquiries. The Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry are represented on the Committee, and its conclusions will be communicated to the Departments concerned in due course.

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Can my right hon. Friend answer the second part of the question as to how long this Committee has been in being? Is he aware that there is a great deal of public anxiety that money is being wasted on obsolete weapons of war and not on the Air Service?

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I know there is a feeling of anxiety, and quite reasonably so. I also know that this matter is being pressed forward by the various Departments concerned, but there is some preparation required before they can investigate the matter.

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How long has the Committee been functioning?

Russia

Siberia (Japanese Troops)

29.

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asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government has received official confirmation of the report that the Japanese Government has decided to withdraw its troops from the maritime Province of Siberia by the end of October, 1922, and any official information as to the Japanese Government's intentions respecting the Russian half of the Island of Sakhalin, which is now occupied by Japanese troops, and which Japan at the.Washington Conference pledged herself to evacuate as well as the maritime Province?

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The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Japanese Government has not yet announced when it intends to evacuate the northern half of the island of Sakhalin.

Trade Delegation, London

30.

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asked the Prime Minister who is now the head of the Russian trade delegation in London; and has the Government made any representation to him with regard to the large subsidies for the propagation of Communist, policy which are finding their way into this country, and which are a violation of the trading agreement?

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Monsieur Berzin is Chargé d' Affaires in the absence of Monsieur Krassin. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.

United States Tariff

33.

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asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that, the United States tariff, if carried, will practically prohibit the importation of most of the staple manufactured articles of this country, His Majesty's Government will inform the Government of the United States of America that the payment of the interest on our War Debt is impossible unless the American tariff is lowered to such a point as will enable our goods to enter freely into America?

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All relevant considerations will he borne in mind by His Majesty's Government in dealing with the subjects referred to in the question.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that our industries are threatened by this tariff?

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One keeps steadily in mind that the American tariff makes it more difficult for us to pay our debts to America. That is perfectly plain, and I think my Noble Friend will recognise that that is not a consideration one would forget in dealing with the United States.

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Do not our tariffs make it more difficult for the Germans to pay their debts to us?

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The remark of my hon. Friend would be apposite if we had anything like the American tariff in existence in this country.

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Sixty-nine per cent.

Safeguarding Of Industries Act

34.

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asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that a sharp division of opinion exists in commercial circles regarding the benefits or otherwise derived from Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, he will consider the desirability of appointing a Commission to inquire into the results of the working of Part I before deciding to put Part II in operation?

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I have been asked to reply. Inasmuch as Part I of the Act deals with an entirely different problem from that with which Part II is intended to deal, it does not appear that an inquiry into the operation of Part I would throw any light on the expediency or otherwise of the proposed order under Part II, which relates to industries of quite a different character. I am unable, therefore, to accept my hon. Friend's suggestion.

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In view of the fact that the object of both parts is to foster British industry, is it not desirable to find out, whether the operations of Part I have been effective or otherwise before putting Part II into operation, virtually for the same purpose?

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That is not a view which I think is a sound view. The problems are quite different. The proper opportunity for my hon. Friend to put that contention forward is when the Order which proposes to apply Part II is brought before the House.

Honours Lists

35.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Prime Minister of a Dominion is consulted before a person domiciled in that Dominion is recommended for an honour?

37 and 33.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) when he will give an opportunity for the discussion of the Motion standing on the Paper for the appointment of a Joint Committee to consider the present methods of submitting names of persons for honours for the consideration of His Majesty;

(2) whether the lists of names of persons recommended for honours by the heads of the chief Departments are supplemented by other lists drawn up by other members of the Government?

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The Government are quite ready to discuss the methods of submitting names for honours. There have already been several Debates on the subject in this House in recent years and one discussion in this Parliament. Our difficulty arises out of the state of public business, which is very much in arrears and will involve the prolongation of our sittings well into August with the certainty of an Autumn Session. But the Government are prepared to find facilities for a discussion as soon as the state of public business permits.

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Will an opportunity be given of discussing the Motion standing on the Paper in the name of 180 Members in all parts of the House?

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That may afford the best opportunity of discussing the question. I will consider it.

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Was the Prime Minister of South Africa consulted specifically with regard to the offer of a recent peerage?

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My lion. Friend is referring to a matter which will be discussed on this Motion.

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Is there not a simple plain question on the Paper which can be answered, whether the Prime Minister of a Dominion is consulted or not?

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Will the right hon. Gentleman take the opportunity of denying here and now that Sir J. Robinson was given a peerage for a financial consideration?

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Will the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of when a day will be given or when a question on that point cart be put down with any prospect of being answered?

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The question put by my Noble Friend and my hon. Friend behind is one of the questions which, I think, will be discussed on that occasion, and the reply will be given by the Government, but if I begin to give an answer to one particular part of the question I should have to go by way of question and answer into the whole matter, which will be discussed to-day in another place. But I am quite prepared to have the whole matter discussed. With regard to the time, I have not yet had time to consult those who are largely responsible for the arrangement of business. I understand that it will be impossible to have a discussion next week on the subject, but perhaps a question on the subject can be put next week, and then the Leader of the House will be in attendance and give an answer.

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I will put down a question next week.

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Is it not a fact that the same question has already been put to the Prime Minister of South Africa, and that he says that he made no recommendation and knew nothing about it?

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I think that we must not have further questions on the subject now.

Ministry Of Defence

39.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can allocate a day or portion of a day during the present Session to discuss the whole question of the efficient and economical administration of the three fighting services, and the advisability of setting up without further delay a Ministry of Defence, as advocated in the Geddes Report and subsequently laid out on general lines in the Ministry of Defence Creation Bill standing in the names of the Member for East Herts and other hon. Members?

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No, Sir. In view of the pressure of Parliamentary business, I fear that it is impossible to allocate time for the purposes of this discussion during the present Session. As has already been stated, the question of the creation of a Ministry of Defence is being considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence.

Canadian Cattle Embargo

42.

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he can now state the date upon which the discussion on the Canadian cattle embargo question will be taken?

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My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House hopes to be in a position to make an announcement next week.

Members Of Parliament (Free Railway Travel—Income Tax Deduction)

43.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can state the approximate saving annually through free railway travelling for Members having been disallowed, and the estimated loss of revenue by remission of Income Tax on Members' allowance of £400 per annum; and if he can state how many Members, from conscientious or other reasons, have refused the Income Tax remission?

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It is estimated that the cost of free railway travelling for Members between London and their constituencies would amount, under present conditions, and assuming the House to sit for 40 weeks in the year, to about £77,000 per annum. As regards the remainder of the question, it is not the case that there has been a remission of Income Tax on allowances paid to Members of this House but a Member is, equally with ally other taxpayer, entitled to claim a deduction in respect of expenses wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of his duties. Claims of this nature may be made at any time within three years after the end of the year of assessment to which the claim relates, and it is therefore not possible to furnish the particulars for which the hon. Member is asking.

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May I bring to my right hon. Friend's notice that this allowance means to poor Members of this House a saving of less than £20 a year and to the rich Members who would not allow them to accept railway passes amounts to nearly £200 a year, and will he take into consideration the heavy expense of long distance travelling to which some Members are subject and revise the whole business in the interests of poorer Members?

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That is the very matter which forms a subject of acute controversy.

Super-Tax

44.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the amount of Super-tax in arrear; and whether, in view of the many persons liable to pay and who are unable to meet the tax out of income owing to the fact that it is levied on unproductive property, it is the intention of the Government to compel such persons to borrow or sell out capital to meet the tax?

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:The amount of Super-tax in assessment and due for payment., but not paid by the 24th June, 1922, for the United Kingdom (including Southern Ireland) is estimated at £18,000,000; while I am unable to accept the views of my Noble and gallant Friend as to the causes contributing to these arrears, I can assure him that in cases of difficulty action is taken appropriate to the circumstances of the individual case.

52.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the approximate amounts of Super-tax estimated to be due to be paid, but not paid, on 31st March of each of the years from 1919 to 1922, inclusive?

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The approximate amounts of Super-tax estimated to be due to be paid, but not paid, by 31st March were as follows:

United Kingdom.
£
31st March, 19196,500,000
31st March, 19208,000,000
31st March, 192116,000,000
31st March, 192224,000,000

It will be remembered that the scope of the Super-tax was extended, and the rates of tax were increased, by the Finance Act, 1920.

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In how many cases have legal proceedings been taken to compel payment?

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In view of the Debate last night I think it would be entirely improper and inexpedient to give the kind of details that the bon. Member requires.

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Do the overdue amounts carry interest?

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No, they do not. I am sure the House will recognise that in the present conditions it would be very inexpedient to be harsh, in many cases, in the exaction of the amount of tax due.

Income Tax

May's Trustees

45.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the evidence given before the official arbitrator on the 14th September, 1921, and 2nd May, 1922, and reported in the Press, in the case of May's Trustees v. London County Council, where the audited profits on a farm of 400 acres were proved at £39 per acre; whether he is aware that Income Tax, Schedule B, was paid on an assessment of about £2 an acre, and that the loss to the Exchequer since 1913, owing to the farmer in question being assessed under Schedule B, has amounted to £18,000; and whether he will state, for each year since September, 1913, the assessment under Schedule B, the actual profits, the amount of Income Tax paid under Schedule B, and the amount which would have been payable as Income Tax, Schedule D, and Super-tax, if such taxes had been chargeable in respect of the farm in question?

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I had not previously seen any report of the proceedings to which the hon. Member refers. As he is doubtless aware, the Board of Inland Revenue are precluded from furnishing particulars regarding the affairs of individual taxpayers, and I am therefore unable to give the information for which he is asking.

Germany

49.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the German Republic collected in Income Tax in 1920 and 1921?

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For Income Tax proper the yield was 9,593 millions of paper marks in the year ended 31st March, 1921, and 28,146 millions in the year ended 31st March, 1922. For all taxes on income the figures are 11,025 millions and 31,853 millions respectively.

Excess Profits Duty (Rebate)

50.

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the amount rebated since 1st April, 1922, of Excess Profits Duty?

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The amount of Excess Profits Duty (including Munitions Levy) repaid in Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the 1st April, 1922, to the 24th June, 1922, inclusive, is £16,960,000.

Women Police Patrols

53.

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asked the Home Secretary what number of women patrols have been disbanded in the Metropolitan area; and what number of such patrols are still retained?

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The authorised establishment of women patrols was 113; the present strength is 56.

Firearms (Importation)

54.

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asked the Home Secretary what steps, if any, are taken to ascertain whether persons entering this country are or are not carrying firearms; and whether firearms can enter this country by post?

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Such steps with regard to persons entering this country from overseas are taken in the course of the Customs examination. Packages sent from overseas by parcels post are examined by the Customs. Firearms sent in other post packages from overseas, without licence, are detained and handed to the Customs for action. If my hon. Friend means to refer to Ireland, I would refer him to the answer given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford on the 26th instant. All regulations as to removals of firearms apply to removals by post.

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Are any steps being taken to search people coming from Ireland, in view of the fact that people going to Ireland are searched?

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In eases of suspicion there would be search in exactly the same way.

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Why should not people coming in be searched in exactly the same way as those going to Ireland?

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Can Members of Parliament be exempt from that?

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May I draw attention to the question on the Paper? I ask what steps are taken to ascertain whether persons entering this country are or are not carrying firearms?

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That is the question I have answered. It is done by the Customs. They search the luggage and anything that would be likely to contain firearms.

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Are persons searched?

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Yes, if the Customs suspect that they may have arms hidden.

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is there any difference of procedure adopted in the case of people going out of the country compared with those coming into the country?

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There may be a difference in the amount, because the firearms being taken out are far more than those coming in. The principle is the same.

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Do you always search people coming into this country, or only when you have reason to suspect them?

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When we have reason to suspect them. We do not search every one.

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Is there any difference in practice in the case of people coming from Ireland compared with those coming from foreign countries?

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No, the practice is the same. If there is any suspicion of their having arms, they are searched.

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On what would that suspicion be based?

Legitimation By Marriage

55.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he will name a date for the promised introduction of the Bill dealing with legitimation by subsequent marriage?

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I regret I am not yet in a position give a date, but I hope the Bill will not be long delayed.

Imperial And Local Finance

57.

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asked the Minister of Health how many years have elapsed since relations between the Imperial and local exchequers were last adjusted by legislation?

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The relations between the Imeprial and local exchequers are frequently being adjusted. The last general adjustment was effected by the Local Government Act, 1888. Since then, however, many of the grants have been revised, and additional grants have; been provided for both by legislation and by direct Votes by Parliament.

Special Schools Grant

61.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the protest issued by the local education authorities regarding circular 1,245, announcing the restriction of the Treasury grant for the coming year towards the education of the blind, deaf, physically defective, and epileptic children to the amount paid in the current year; whether it is the duty of the education authorities to make provision for these children; whether he is aware that there are large numbers of defective children for whom no provision has yet been made; and whether, in view of the importance of this matter to the future of the race, he will reconsider his decision to restrict the provision of education for these afflicted children?

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My right hon. Friend is glad to say that it has been found possible to remove, in nearly every case, the restriction on the number of defective children who may be sent to existing special schools by individual local education authorities. A circular on the subject will be issued to authorities during the next few days.

Postal Deliveries, London

62.

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asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that complaints are being made by business firms and residents in the northern suburban area that packets with a halfpenny stamp, even if posted before 3.30 p.m., are not delivered, as they should be, the same evening or early next morning; and that those who complain are informed that to ensure punctual delivery they had better put on an additiinal halfpenny stamp; and will he have this alleged delay investigated?

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I ant having inquiry made, and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

His Majesty's Drifter "Blue Sky" (Loss)

63.

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether His Majesty's Drifter "Blue Sky" left, Portsmouth on 12th June; whether she was last sighted off Beachy Head on the lath at 12.15 p.m.; what steps were taken to ascertain here whereabouts after that; and whether her loss was published in the newspapers before the relatives of the officers and men on board had been notified?

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The reply to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The "Blue Sky" should normally have reached Invergordon about the 17th June in pursuance of orders given to her by the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet. Her instructions were to report her position at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily, and she was last heard calling Sheerness Wireless Telegraph Station at 17.53 on the 13th June, but no actual message was received, as that station does not receive messages on the wave length used by naval drifters. I may add that many vessels and drifters were proceeding north at the time.

The Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, reported at 8 p.m. on the 17th June that the vessel had not arrived, and at his request inquiries were made immediately, and at 10 am. on the 18th June the Commander-in-Chief, More, reported that wreckage was coming ashore at Herne Bay and Margate and that the Duty Destroyer was being sent out to search. Further inquiries elicited the information that on the night of the 13th June nothing was heard or seen by Foreness Signal Station, Kentish Knock Light Vessel or North Goodwin Light Vessel which could throw any light on the disappearance of the "Blue Sky."

These facts were communicated to the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, who at 11.58 p.m. on the 18th June reported that he was informing the next-of-kin of the officers and men who had been embarked that it was feared that the vessel was lost. I am not aware at what times the various relatives concerned received the Commander-in-Chief's telegrams. The toss of the "Blue Sky" appeared in the evening newspapers of Monday, the 19th June, and it was anticipated that all the next-of-kin of those who had lost their lives would have been informed before this time.

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Was not the interval between the 13th and 17th rather long before inquiries were started, and is there any reason to know how this accident occurred?

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As to the last part of the question, we are still making inquiries. So far, there is nothing at all to throw any light on the disappearance of this vessel. A large number of drifters and trawlers were proceeding north all the time, and the mere cessation of wireless reports for two days would not, in the ordinary course, give reason for anxiety in reasonably calm weather. But instructions have been given that in future drifters are to go in pairs.

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Is it not a fact that the interval between the 13th and 17th was unduly long?

Coal Prices (Reduction)

64.

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asked the Secretary for Mines whether the recent reduction in coal prices in London will have any effect upon miners' wages; and what part of this reduction, if any, is borne by the London coal merchants?

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I am informed by the Coal Merchants' Federation that this reduction was made on account of the stagnation of trade., in the hope of attracting business, and that it has been accompanied by a drop of about 7s. in the pithead price at many collieries. On the relationship be- tween prices and wages, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Morpeth.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give an explanation of the fall of 9s. in the retail price of coal in London, similar to that which he gave a fortnight before this fall, explaining exactly what is going to be the effect upon the coal merchants themselves, seeing that they said a few days before this that they were simply getting 5d. per ton profit off their sales? I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the House an explanation, because there is a feeling in the country that there has been criminal exploitation.

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Of course, I am dependent on the Coal Merchants' Federation for any figures they are good enough to supply to me; I have no power to compel them. I think it is tolerably clear if the hon. Member will look at the analysis which I gave of the reports about a month ago, and read my answer to this question, that the probability is the merchants are standing the loss themselves as regards the difference between the two prices.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the figures given by the London coal merchants that they were only making 5d. per ton profit before, in spite of the fact that they have now reduced the price by 9s. per ton?

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I have no reason to suppose they are making any profit now. It is quite possible—and probable—they are making a loss.

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Will the Prime Minister say whether the Mines Department cannot be empowered to get these figures, and, if not, should it not be done away with in the interests of economy?

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That would involve legislation, and the question should be put down on the Paper.

British Army

Catterick Aerodrome

68.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he has made any further inquiries into the condition of Catterick aerodrome; whether he is aware that many huts are going to ruin; that brick and cement hangars remain in an unfinished state and are rotting; and that iron framework, designed for windows, is being used to fill up gaps in hedges; whether, in view of the fact that these huts and buildings are occupying some of the best pre-War farm land, he will have inquiries made as to the possibility of restoring the land to agriculture; and whether the proposal, announced on the 11th April, that the buildings were to be handed over to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission at an early date, has been carried out?

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I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 11th April last to the hon. Member for West Nottingham. In regard to the last part of the question, it is hoped that the transfer of the aerodrome to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission will be effected shortly.

Boot Contracts

69.

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asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he will state the number of pairs of boots with chrome uppers, the number of pairs of boots with British vegetable-tanned uppers, and the number of pairs of boots with Indian vegetable-tanned uppers in the last series of contracts placed for ankle boots for the Army?

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The last series of contracts was for the purchase of 37,500 pairs of boots. The specification under which the contracts were made permitted the use, in the manufacture of the uppers, of any of the three types of leather mentioned by my hon. Friend. The contract is not yet quite completed, but the boots received up to date have uppers of vegetable-tanned leather, tanned in India and curried in the United Kingdom.

Bulgaria (Russian Troops)

14.

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a plot was recently discovered by the Bulgarian Government whereby the refugee Russian troops under General Wrangel were to be used in a revolution against the Bulgarian Government; whether these troops are now being disarmed; whether the arms taken from Wrangel's troops are being handed over to the Allied Commission; and how are those arms being disposed of?

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The Bulgarian Government recently arrested several hundred Russian officers in Bulgaria, and expelled them from the country, but judicial proceedings to establish their guilt have not yet taken place. The answers to the second and third parts of the question are in the affirmative. In regard to the last part of this question, the share handed over to His Majesty's Government is being destroyed.

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What is being done by the other officers of the Allied Commission?

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I cannot answer on behalf of foreign governments.

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Is not this a matter which very much concerns us, as if they are handed over by other Allied officers to other countries, there may be continuous trouble, which may injure this country?

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Is there a word of truth in the suggestion that General Wrangel or his officers had anything to do with this question?

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I am not accepting the language of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) in describing the cause of these officers being expelled from Bulgaria.

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Has it not been admitted that these officers—

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The hon. and gallant Gentleman has had a complete answer to his question. Now he wants to give his own opinion.

Rent Restrictions Acts

59.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the change in economic conditions which has come about since the percentage increase of rent was fixed under the Rent Restrictions Acts have greatly increased the financial difficulties of the middle and working classes; and whether he will immediately introduce legislation for the purpose of materially reducing the percentage by which rents can be increased over those of pre-War?

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I will consider the point raised by the hon. Member, but I cannot give any undertaking as to the introduction of legislation.

Railway Fares (Workmen)

65.

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to complaints respecting increased fares to miners and other workers who travel by train to and from the place of their employment, and that in some cases it is alleged the increase is considerably over 100 per cent. as compared with previous rates; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made and issue a statement showing the distance travelled and rate charged per person per day, per week, or longer period, as the case may be, in July, 1914, and at the present time on branch and main lines in North and South Staffordshire, and in Warwickshire, with a view to a more satisfactory arrangement of fares for workmen's trains referred to?

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My attention has been drawn to certain complaints of this nature. Workmen's fares were increased as from 1st September, 1920, and on the average the fares now in operation throughout Great. Britain show an increase of 85 per cent. over those in operation in August, 1920. Increases were limited by a decision of the Government to a maximum of 2s. per week. If the hon. Member desires more detailed particulars and will inform me what specific points he has in mind, I will have further enquiries made. I would remind him that under Sections 60 and 78 of the Railways Act, 1921, representations can be made to the Rates Tribunal for a reduction in fares.

Mexico (Alleged Brigandage)

( by Private Notice)

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a number of English employés of the Cortez Oil Company, in Mexico, have been captured by brigands, and if he can give any information to the House on the subject.

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I have not yet received any confirmation of the reports on this subject which have appeared in the Press. A telegram of inquiry has been sent to His Majesty's representative at Mexico City, and I will inform the hon. Member as soon as possible of the reply.