House Of Commons
Tuesday, 13th, March, 1923.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock Mr. SPEAKER in the chair.
Private Bills (Standing Orders not previously inquired into complied with),
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table Report from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the case of the following Bills, referred on the Second Reading thereof, the Standing Orders not previously inquired into, which are applicable thereto, have been complied with, namely:
City and South London Railway Bill
London Electric Railway Bill.
Wimbledon and Sutton Railway Bill.
Provisional Order Bills (Standing Orders applicable thereto complied with),
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table Report from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the case of the following Bill, referred on the First Reading thereof, the Standing Orders which are applicable thereto have been complied with, namely:
Pier and Harbour Provisional Order (No. 1) Bill.
Bill to be read a. Second time Tomorrow.
Port of London (Finance) Bill,
Reported, without Amendment; Report to lie upon the Table.
Bill to be read the Third time.
South Staffordshire Mines Drainage Bill,
Reported, without Amendment; Report to lie upon the Table.
Bill to be read the Third time.
Wallasey Embankment Bill,
Reported, with Amendments; Report to lie upon the Table, arid to be printed.
I beg to present a petition signed by a large number of women voters in the city of Manchester protesting against the seditious and blasphemous teaching of proletarian Sunday schools and soliciting Parliament to prevent it.
I beg to present a numerously signed petition from the Kensington branch of the National Citizens' Union protesting against the seditious revolutionary teaching in Communist and proletarian Sunday schools and urging that legislation should be introduced as soon as possible to prevent the poisoning of the minds of the British children.
Can I present a petition signed by 500 clerical gentlemen in England, generally approving of the Labour party?
The hon. Member should give notice in the ordinary way.
Oral Answers To Questions
Trade And Commerce
asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the total quantity of pitch manufactured in Great Britain in 1922; what was the quantity of pitch exported from Great Britain in 1922; what quantity of pitch was manufactured in South Wales in 1922; and what quantity was exported from South Wales to France and Belgium in 1922?
According to returns furnished to the Chief Inspector of Alkali, etc. works, the total quantity of pitch produced in the United Kingdom in 1922 was 514,236 tons, of which 16,248 tons were produced in South Wales. The total exports of pitch in 1922 amounted to 428,317 tons. Twenty tons were registered as consigned to France from ports in South Wales. No consignments to Belgium were registered at South Wales ports.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that France is placed in a specially advantageous position with her supplies of reparation coal from Germany, which she salads with best British small coal, and binds with British pitch to manufacture a cheaper briquette than can be produced in Great Britain; and whether, to prevent the transference of the British patent fuel industry to France, he will take steps to restrict the exportation of pitch to France and Belgium on similar lines to the restrictions on the exportation of scrap iron from this country now in force?
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension in thinking that there is any restriction on the export of scrap iron from this country. I am aware that the patent fuel industry is passing through a difficult time, but I do not think that it would be in the interests of industry generally to restrict the export of pitch; nor have I any power to do so without authority from Parliament.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the patent fuel industry of this country, 95 per cent. of which is situated in the South Wales coalfield, is a great asset for the development of industry generally, and uses up some 4,000,000 tons of small coal, which otherwise would be useless, and that a large number of men are unemployed owing to the depression in this industry?
Is it not the fact that the correct explanation of that is that the patent fuel manufacturers last summer were offered large new contracts for pitch, which they did not accept, and that they are suffering in consequence?
I am aware of the importance of the industry, but I think that the time has not yet come to adopt the line which the hon. Member suggests. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Clarry), I do not know what are the facts.
We do not hear one word of what you are saying.
In reference to pitch, is not the position due to the use of the altogether out-of-date system of taking the gas through the mains, and blowing the dust in such quantities with it that the pitch loses much of its value because of the dust which it contains?
Internal And External Trade
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can state the total value of internal trade and external trade, respectively, in goods produced in Great Britain for the year ended 31st December, 1913, and for the year ended 31st December, 1922?
I regret that I am unable to furnish the hon. Member with any figures of aggregate internal trade in Great Britain during the years 1913 and 1922 for comparison with the published figures of exports.
British Capital (Investment Abroad)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will arrange for the publication by his Department, either monthly or quarterly, of statistics showing the investment of British capital in the industrial and commercial undertakings and Government and municipal loans of Germany, Austria, and the other succession States, as well as in Poland and the Baltic States, such statistics to show not only the total so placed but the amount for each industry and type of private or public undertaking?
I am not in possession of the data necessary for the preparation of the very complicated statistics for which the hon. Member asks.
Would it not he possible that the data should be obtained, seeing that it is so necessary?
Only at enormous expense.
Could you not cut it out of something else?
asked the President of the Board of Trade, if the s.s. "Agene" sailed during the week ending 2nd March, 1923, from Maryport Dock, Cumberland, carrying 600 tons of coke; if the s.s. "Avigot," during the same period and from the same place, left with 500 tons of coke; can he say what was the port or ports of destination of these vessels; and can he say at what these cargoes were valued for the purpose of export?
I am informed that no ships named "Agene" or "Avigot" can be traced as sailing from Maryport during the week ending 2nd March, 1923; but the s.s. "Agate" left that port on the 23rd February with a cargo of 704 tons of coke for Antwerp and the s.s. "Avocet" left on the 27th February with 547 tons of coke for Dunkirk. I regret that I am unable to give information as to the value of the cargoes.
If these figures cannot be given now how does it come about that the Board of Trade obtain the figures which are given in the statistics regarding the value of exports?
Because the figures are obtained by the Board of Trade for aggregation and for the collection of statistics, but the Board of Customs never allow the value of individual cargoes to be given.
If they have not got the individual cargoes how can they give the aggregate?
I should have said not "given," but "published."
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the trade ship project; and, in view of the serious state of unemployment in the port of Hull and the fact that the reconditioning of the s.s. "British Trade" is giving employment to 450 men there, and in view also of the advantages which trade in all parts of the country will derive from this venture, whether the Government is prepared to support the project?
Yes, Sir, the Department of Overseas Trade has been in frequent communication with the promoters of this project. I am in full sympathy with any well-considered scheme for assisting British trade, but it is not possible for His Majesty's Government to give their official support to this or any other particular scheme until they are satisfied that the proposed exhibition has secured a substantial measure of support from, and is fairly representative of, British industry, and that the whole venture is on a sound footing.
Registration Of Business Names Act
asked the President of the Board of Trade what, was the amount of the loss to the Treasury in the working of the Registration of Business Names Act during the year 1922; and what was the number of firms registered during that year?
The loss in the working of the Registration of Business Names Act, 1916, during 1922 amounted to £1,475. The number of applications registered during that year was 17,174.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the British combine of cement-makers makes it a condition that in order to secure the most favourable terms their customers must give an undertaking not to buy cement from any foreign source or from any British maker not in their combine; and whether, seeing that this attempt to crush out all competition by selling at a lower price to those who will give this undertaking than to those who refuse is a practice at variance with the best interest of the community and, in effect, an illegal restraint upon trade, he will say what steps he proposes to take in order to combat this evil practice?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 3rd November last, to which I have nothing to add.
Is the Noble Lord not prepared to take action to prevent trusts from putting up the price of building material so excessively, on the lines of the Government Inquiry, as suggested some time ago?
The Government are watching the situation very carefully, but the facts at present in our possession do not lead us to believe that the steps suggested by the hon. Member would be appropriate now.
Is the Noble Lord aware that under the housing schemes in certain parts of Scotland we were asked to take cement from a trust in London, whereas we could manufacture it for much less?
I should be very much obliged if the hon. Member will give us all the information at his disposal.
We have done so already.
Knitting Machines (Export)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the number and value of knitting machines exported from the United Kingdom in the years 1913 and 1922, respectively?
The exports of hosiery and knitting machines from the United Kingdom during the year 1922 amounted to 269 tons valued at £155,277. Corresponding figures for 1913 are not available, as hosiery and knitting machines were, in that year, included under the general heading "Textile Machinery."
Flour (Imports And Exports)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the quantity of flour exported from this country for the last period for which figures are available, and the quantity of flour imported during the same period?
During the month of February, 1923, the quantity of wheat meal and flour registered as exported from the United Kingdom was 167,215 cwts., and the quantity registered during the same period as imported into this country was 1,112,491 cwts. The corresponding figures for the calendar year 1922 are 2,329,087 and 13,481,021 cwts. respectively.
Coast Erosions, Millom
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has received representations from the Millom Urban District Council on the question of coast erosion; and whether, having regard to the fact that this is a national service, he will consider the question of making it a charge upon the finances of the nation?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. In reply to the second part of the question I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay on 19th February.
Is the Noble Lord aware of the fact that many of these local authorities have reached their rateable limit and that this national work cannot, will not, and ought not to be done at the expense of the ratepayers?
May I draw attention to the fact that in many parts of the country this is a very serious matter indeed, and will the Noble Lord not do something to try to prevent it?
The matter was carefully considered by a Royal Commission some years ago, and no new reasons have been put forward to depart from the course which they recommended.
Has not very very serious damage been done, especially in Lincolnshire, since the Royal Commission sat, and is not that sufficient reason for reconsidering the matter?
I do not think that the damage done since the Royal Commission sat is more than was done before it sat.
I assure the Noble Lord that it is so.
Enemy Debts Clearing Office
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will investigate the circumstances attending the discharge of Mr. S. W. Cameron, previously engaged under the Board of Trade in the Enemy Debts Clearing Office, whose leaving certificate stated the reason specifically to be the amount of sick leave the man found it necessary to take; and, as the man is a disabled ex-service man, will he extend leniency, as his sick leave is consequent upon his War service disability?
I have carefully investigated the circumstances attending the discharge of Mr. S. W. Cameron from the Clearing Office (Enemy Debts), and I regret that I am unable to alter the decision already reached in this case.
Is the Noble Lord aware that the certificate of discharge stated specifically that it was on account of the sick leave taken, and that the sick leave was due entirely to war services rendered? Does he not think that such action on the part of the Government would be very much against the principle, which is urged on private employers, of giving employment to ex-service men?
All the clerical members of the staff in that Department are ex-service men. Reductions having been necessary, the decision was come to in the case of Mr. Cameron, in view of all the circumstances of the case.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the discharge of numerous ex-service men from the Civil Service at a time when the Joint Substitution Board officially announce that here are over 1,100 substitutable posts; whether 25,000 non-service temporary staff are retained; and, if so, whether, in view of the pledges given that ex-service men he given priority whenever necessary discharges are effected, he will look into this?
I am aware that a certain number of ex-service men have had to be discharged by various Government Departments on reduction of staff, and that, according to statistics obtained at the end of last year, approximately 1,100 women were employed in posts which were capable of being filled eventually by ex-service men, in so far as the duties were not coming to an end. As I have already explained, in many cases these women are employed upon work which is rapidly terminating, and their replacement by new personnel on the eve of the completion of their tasks would be extremely wasteful. In other cases substitution is proceeding as rapidly as is consistent with the efficient conduct of the business of the employing Department, in view of the fact that these officers are the residue left of a very much larger number by a continuous and severe process of substitution. Excluding the above women and a very small number of men retained for similar reasons, the non-service personnel temporarily employed in the Civil Service consists almost wholly of women engaged upon duties unsuitable for men. I am satisfied that there has been no departure from the Government's policy of substituting ex-service for non-service personnel wherever possible and of giving every possible preference to ex-service men when discharges are being made.
Can the rigt hon. Gentleman tell me if, in any of these cases where ex-service men are discharged, civilians are put in their places?
I could not say that without notice.
What duties are being discharged by women in these services which could not be equally well discharged by ex-service men? Could not, for instance, the duties of typewriting be discharged by disabled ex-service men just as well as by women?
I will look into that point, and communicate with my hon. and learned Friend.
Is the Ex-Service Civil Servants' Association satisfied with the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman?
I really cannot say that without notice.
Land Settlement (Scotland)
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health how many ex-service men obtained entry during the year ended Whitsunday, 1922, to small holdings constituted by the Board of Agriculture in the counties of Caithness and Sutherland; how many will have obtained entry during the year ending Whitsunday, 1923: whether any schemes have been approved under which ex-service men will get holdings during the year ending Whitsunday, 1924; and, if so, how many holdings will be constituted under such schemes during that year?
The answer to the first part of the question is 55; to the second part 6. Schemes have been approved under which 74 ex-service men will get holdings in the year ending Whitsunday, 1924, provided it is found possible to carry out all these schemes.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman give the statistics for all the other counties?
If my right hon. Friend will put down a question I will give him all the information I can.
Mechanical Transport (War Surplus)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government handed over to the Slough Trading Company for disposal, as part of the War surplus under the agreement with the company, dated the 9th April, 1920, all or sonic part of the mechanical transport vehicles and spares of the British forces in occupation of Ireland; how many lorries and cars, and what quantities of spares, were so handed over; on what date those vehicles and spares were declared surplus; and whether the Slough Trading Company were liable to make any and, if so, what payment to the Government for them, in addition to the sum of £3,350,000 originally fixed by the agreement for the purchase of the mechanical transport war surplus?
Under the agreement referred to all mechanical transport vehicles and spares surplus in Ireland on the 7th April, 1920, and becoming surplus for two years thereafter, were sold to the Slough Trading Company. I regret that, with the present depleted clerical staff, it is not feasible to undertake the scrutiny of accounts which would be necessary to supply the information required in the second and third parts of the question. As regards the fourth part of the question, the agreement with the Slough Trading Company provides for a share of the receipts for mechanical transport being paid to the Government, when those receipts amount to over £5,000,000. I may add that the sum paid by the Slough Trading Company for mechanical transport and spares was £3,650,000 not £3,350,000.
Have other trading companies an opportunity of tendering for these supplies or has this company a monopoly for surplus motors?
I would like notice of that question.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, under the contract between the Government and the Slough Trading Company, dated the 9th April, 1920, for the sale of mechanical transport war surplus, the Government are entitled to receive any payments for surplus lorries and stores sold by the company after the 6th April, 1922; and whether he can state the number of lorries and quantities of stores handed over to the company under the agreement and still remaining unsold by the company?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer my Noble and gallant. Friend to the answer that I gave on the 7th instant to the hon. and gallant Member for Hulme (Lieut.-Colonel Nall).
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, in order to prevent the return to America of American-built war-surplus motor lorries, the United States Government imposed a 90 per cent. import tariff upon them: how many of such American-built war-surplus lorries have been sold by the British Government for use in the United Kingdom, and what was the average price realised per vehicle: how many of such lorries remain in the hands of the Disposal Board; and whether he can suggest any method of disposing of them which will avoid the sale by a British Government Department of foreign manufactures in competition with British manufactures?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, the preparation of the return called for would necessarily involve a scrutiny of the records of sales spread over a period of four years, and I regret that it is not feasible to undertake this work with the present depleted clerical staff. With regard to the third and fourth parts of the question, only 265 lorries of American manufacture remain in the hands of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission in this country, and I think my Noble and gallant Friend will agree that the sale of such a comparatively small number of lorries cannot exercise serious influence on the market for second-hand or new lorries of home manufacture.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the disposal of all these surplus war lorries is very gravely affecting the British commercial motor vehicle industry, in which there is a large number of men out of work?
Could not the right hon. Gentleman get the services of some of the discharged ex-service men at Kew, in order not to have this depleted clerical staff?
That does not arise here.
German Capital (Great Britain)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give particulars as to the amount of German capital lodged in this country with banks and other financial houses under British jurisdiction; and whether he will take steps to ensure either its use to pay in part reparations or else or secure its extradition to the country of origin?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The policy of His Majesty's Government on the subject of reparations has already been made known.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a great deal of incorrect argument is based on this assumption, and will he give the information in order to prevent misunderstanding among the public?
It would have to be a very rough estimate.
Would not even a rough estimate be very much better than to have a lot of incorrect information in circulation?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a statement that during the year 1922 10,000,000 industrial assurance policies were lapsed, upon which not less than £20,000,000 had been paid in premiums all of which had been lost by the holders of these policies; and whether, under the circumstances, he would have an inquiry into this matter, as it appeared from the published statement of accounts of the various companies that the shareholders had been dividing amongst themselves dividends and bonuses of 50, 60, and 80 per cent. and over, and that such profits were contributed to very largely by the premiums paid on the lapsed policies of the unemployed?
The answer to the first part of this question is in the negatice. A Committee, appointed in the year 1919, of which Lord Parmoor was the Chairman, considered the question of lapsed policies among other matters relating to industrial assurance, and made certain recommendations on the subject. Provisions to give effect to these recommendations were included in a Bill introduced in another place, which was read a Third time on the 8th March. In these circumstances I think no useful purpose would be served by a, further inquiry.
Is the Noble Lord aware that many of these companies and societies have not yet had an annual meeting? How, then, can the information and statistics alleged in the question be available?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Report of the advisory committee on life-saving appliances is completed; and whether it is proposed to lay the same before the House?
The Report of the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee is now being printed and will be published very shortly.
When the Report is published will opportunity be furnished to this House to discuss the recommendations of this Committee?
That question should be addressed to the Prime Minister.
Safeguarding Of Industries Act
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the value of the imports of aluminium hollow-ware, during the six months ending 31st December, 1922, from Poland and Germany, respectively?
The declared values of imports of aluminium hollowware (domestic) registered during the six months ended December, 1922, as consigned from Poland and Germany, werefrom Poland (including Dantzig), £36; from Germany, £104,141.
Does this refer to enamelled or painted aluminium ware?
It is classified as aluminium hollow-ware. Whether it is painted or enamelled I do not know.
Is a spoon hollow-ware?
further asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the value of the imports of table glassware, during the six months ending 31st December, 1922, from Belgium and Germany, respectively?
Table glassware is not separately recorded in the trade statistics, but is included under the heading "Domestic and fancy glassware." The declared value of the imports into the United Kingdom of domestic and fancy glassware registered during the six months ended 31st December, 1922, as consigned from Belgium and Germany, amounted to £223,661 and £89,856 respectively.
Does not the Safeguarding of Industries Act protect the Belgian glass against the Germans?
I do not think so.
Is it not protection offered in a quarter where it is not needed and denied in a quarter where it appears to be urgent?
Lace Industry, Nottingham
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he still refuses to acknowledge the claim of the Nottingham lace industry to be included in the Safeguarding of Industries Act; and, if so, what alternative proposal he is prepared to make to relieve this industry from the disastrous effects of the economic condition of Europe?
I would refer my Noble Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe yesterday.
As the reply referred to did not answer my question, may I ask why the Government refused to give protection under the safeguarding of Industries Act to the lace industry, having regard to the fact that the lace industry has clearly established its claim to be included in the Act?
If my Noble Friend will look at the reply to which I have referred him, he will see that the point was dealt with fully by my right hon. Friend.
Is it suggested that this is a key industry?
British Museum (Fees)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that under present conditions parties of elementary school children, accompanied by their teachers, are in the habit of making educational visits to the British Museum during school hours without any cost in respect of admission; that these facilities may be endangered if Clause 9 of the Fees (Increase) Bill becomes law; and whether he will give an undertaking that the regulations to be made by the trustees of the Museum, with the consent of the Treasury, shall make provision for the continued free admission of school children, accompanied by their teachers, on approved educational visits to the Museum on all school days?
At national galleries and museums where entrance fees are already imposed the practice has always been to admit such organised parties of school children without charge of any kind by arrangement with the director. Power to make similar arrangements will certainly be taken in any regulations relative to admission fees at the British Museum and Natural History Museum. I may add that at national galleries and museums where entrance fees are already charged, the director issues at his discretion free passes at any time to persons regularly using the collections and libraries for purposes of study or research. The same discretion will be enjoyed by the Directors of the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Will it also have reference to the institution described by the late Clerk of the House as a museum of historical antiquity, namely, the House of Commons?
In view of the fact that the amount collected by fees charged for entrance to the British Museum will be very small, and that it will go to the Treasury and not to the British Museum, will the Government abandon the proposal to charge fees?
I am thankful for all contributions, however small.
Ex-Officers (Employment In Ruhr District)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether persons temporarily employed in the Army during the War, and who have received their discharge without pension, require the permission of the War Office before accepting service under the French Government in connection with their occupation of the Ruhr; and whether, in the event of such permission being required, he can assure the House that no difficulties will be placed in the way of officers who desire to tender their services as above?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the second part does not therefore arise.
Do I understand that if such a letter, refusing permission in a case such as that suggested, was sent, it was sent in error, and that no permission was needed?
I have not seen this case, but if the ex-officer is neither in the Army nor the Reserve the War Office have no control over his action, and are in a position neither to withhold nor give permission.
Army Pay Corps
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will explain why M. Meaney, Army Pay Corps, a life pensioner (6th December, 1919, Chelsea Commissioners), ceased to he entitled to his life pension; and what is the Army Regulation which provides for such cancellation?
Mr. Meaney was granted in December, 1919, a service pension of 8d. a day under Army Order 330 of 1918, as he had 14 years' service, and it was thought that his temporary disability pension from the Ministry of Pensions would be made permanent. In June, 1922, his disability had fallen below 20 per cent., and he ceased to be entitled to a separate disability pension and therefore to the Chelsea pension under Army Order 330 of 1918. He was, however, awarded a permanent pension of 8d. a day for service and disability combined under Article 1163 of the Pay Warrant of 1914. The answer to the last part of the question is, Army Order 330 of 1918.
Am I not correct in saying that a life pension was granted to him by the Chelsea Commissioners, and that there was no condition or qualification whatsoever?
I think that that is answered in the reply which I have given.
43 and 44.
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office (1) how many officers have been transferred from other corps or regiments to the Royal Army Pay Corps since the Armistice; how many of those officers so transferred are either chartered or incorporated accountants;
(2) how many regular commissions have been granted in the Royal Army Pay Corps since the Armistice; and how many of those who have received such regular commissions, excluding those to officers transferred from other corps or regiments, are either chartered or incorporated accountants?
The number of new commissions granted is 36, and the number of officers transferred is 14. Out of these numbers, 4 officers and 1 officer respectively were chartered or incorporated accountants.
Is it considered to be in the interests of sound financial administration that men should be transferred from a combatant arm of the Service to an important financial department of the Army?
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the, continued high cost of living, he will consider the postponing to a later date than 1st April next of the reduction of 1s. 6d. per week from the allowance to the dependants of serving soldiers which is likely to cause great hardship?
Under Army Order 357 of 1920 the rate of marriage allowance varies according to the cost-of-living index figure, which will be 80 for next year as compared with 90 at present. I cannot undertake to suspend, as proposed, the normal operation of this rule, but I would point out that the reduction of 1s. 6d. quoted by the hon. Member operates only on the high total allowance admissible when the number of children is five or over. For a wife only, no reduction will be made.
Royal Army Medical Corps (Officers'uniform)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed at Woolwich have recently received special orders from the Director-General of Army Medical Services prohibiting these officers from wearing slacks when performing dismounted duties, and adding that they shall, when in uniform, always wear riding-breeches, top-boots or gaiters, and spurs; and whether, seeing that of all the units stationed at Woolwich the Royal Army Medical Corps is the only one which has been singled out for this order, and that other arms performing dismounted duties generally wear the slacks objected to by the Director-General of Army Medical Services, he will state the reasons for this order?
No orders on this subject have been issued by the Director-General of Army Medical Services. The general rule however in all branches of the Service is that breeches with leggings or puttees are worn on parade and in public, whilst slacks may be worn in barracks at the discretion of the commanding officer. I am informed that a few officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Woolwich sonic time ago adopted the practice of wearing slacks in public, and that the only action taken by the Director-General in the matter consisted in unofficially drawing attention to the laxity of dress which had been noticed.
Cannot the difficulty be overcome by asking them to wear kilts?
Will these sartorial elegancies increase the medical or surgical efficiency of the officers concerned?
31 and 32.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War (1) if his attention has been called to the boating accident at Dundrum, County Down, on 4th February, when eight soldiers were drowned; if he has information as to the number of the deceased men who could swim:
(2) if he will make inquiries as to how far the King's Regulations, paragraphs 713–715, regarding the teaching of swimming, are carried out; if he is aware that at many stations where swimming facilities exist the Regulations are practically ignored; and if, in the interests of the health and efficiency of the men, he will see that orders are given for commanding officers to carry out the Regulations?
My attention has been called to the distressing accident at Dundrum, and I understand that of the eight soldiers drowned two could not swim. The general Regulation is that swimming will be taught at all stations where facilities exist, and I am not aware that this rule is disregarded. If, however, the hon. Member will give me more specific particulars, I will inquire further. The facilities and opportunities at different stations naturally vary.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman make special inquiries as regards Aldershot, where there are ample swimming ponds, and find out how far the Regulations are carried out there?
Stobbs Estate, Roxburghshire
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what was the original cost of the estate of Stobbs, Roxburghshire, which was acquired for military purposes: what is the most recent valuation of the property; and what is the annual income and the average annual expenditure on the property, including administration, during the last five years?
The answer to the first part of the question is £50.000, and to the last part, income £1,246, expenditure approximately £1,200. There has been no recent valuation.
Ranker Officers (Pensions)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that there are such anomalies as that of a lieutenant-colonel who was awarded the D.S.O., who commanded a unit at the front for some years, and is now receiving a sergeant's pension of 30s. a week, as against a lieutenant of the Royal Marines who served as an officer for a less period than two years and is now receiving retired pay exceeding £5 per week; and whether he will agree to the formation of a Committee to consider the whole question of ranker officers' pensions?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave on the 27th February to the hon. and gallant Member for Blackpool. I am not prepared to agree to the setting up of a Committee on this question.
Staff In Egypt
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War the number of officers on, or attached to, the staff in Egypt on the 1st February, 1913, the 1st November, 1922 and the 1st February, 1923?
The numbers respectively are 13, 55 and 51.
Does the hon. and gallant. Gentleman not consider the last figure as showing a somewhat excessive number of staff officers?
The figures have been brought down very much since November, 1920, when it was 119, and the high figure is due to the increase in the number of troops as compared with the pre-War number and the disturbed state of the country.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman prepared to issue a statement showing what are the duties of these officers?
I should like notice of that.
Drill Hall, Newport (Mon)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the women's section of the Newport Labour party made an application to the officer in command of the 1st Monmouthshire Regiment at the drill hall, Newport. (Mon.), for the hire of the drill hall for a sale of work, and that their application was refused on the ground that the drill hall could not be let for charitable or trade purposes; whether he is aware that, despite the reason given for the refusal, the drill hall has in fact been frequently let for chapel bazaars, for boxing contests, and for trade shows; and will he make inquiries into the matter?
I have made inquiries, and I understand that the refusal was in accordance with the consistent policy of the battalion, which is not to let the hall to any political party in any circumstances. I am not in a position to interfere with the discretion of the local authorities in the matter.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware as a result of his inquiries that this hall has been let for party purposes, and for purposes contrary to the conditions set out in the refusal given on this occasion?
I am not aware of that. I made inquiries, and I am told it has only been let. for the purposes mentioned in the hon. Member's question, namely, charitable or trade purposes.
Is the Under-Secretary for War aware that during the last 25 years this hall has never been let to any political organisation whatever?
British And French Military Missions
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War the number and rank of the officers composing the British Military Mission in Paris, and the number and rank of the officers composing the French Mission in London?
The British section of the Allied Military Committee of Versailles consists, at the present time, of four officers, namely, one Major-General, who is also Military Attaché accredited to France, Spain and Portugal, two Lieutenant-Colonels and one Captain. There is also an assistant Military Attaché a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, who is occupied entirely on the normal duties of a Military AttachéThe French Military Mission, in London, is composed of one Général de Brigade (Major-General), Military Attaché, one Lieutenant-Colonel, assistant Military Attaché, one Captain, assistant to the Military Attaché. The relative strength of the British and French Missions is not comparable, as the French Mission, in London, is occupied solely on Military Attaché's duties, whereas the British Mission in Paris is a section of the Allied Military Committee of Versailles with special duties.
Is the French General who was attaché to the French Mission in London last week still on the strength or has he gone back to barracks?
I informed the hon. Member last week that this officer was a full General because I went by the Foreign Office list and I am afraid the Foreign Office does not take quite the same notice of military details as the War Office. As a matter of fact, this officer was the Military Attaché.
Is the Major-General in Paris paid at the rate of a Major-General or as an ordinary attaché?
I should like notice of that question.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what were the number of staff officers, and the rank of these officers, employed on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in Constantinople, and attached to this staff, on the 20th December last?
As the detail of ranks and numbers would take some time to read, I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the detail:
The number of staff officers and attached officers at General Headquarters, Constantinople, and their ranks according to the January Army List, is:
|Colonel on the Staff||2|
if the following are included (Intelligence Corps, Allied Police Commission, Sub-Commission of Disarmament, Turkish Gendarmerie, Inter-Allied Commission of Special Elements and Liaison Sections, Ottoman War Office, and Constantinople Base) the figures are:
|Colonel on the Staff||2|
Military Mission (Poland)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what is the personnel of the British military mission in Poland at the present time: and for how long this mission will be continued?
The personnel of the British military mission in Poland at the present time consists ofThree officers, Four other ranks, and one locally engaged interpreter. The mission is being withdrawn on 31st March, 1923, and replaced by a military attaché.
War Office Registry
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what are the duties of the Department of the War Office Registry and the total personnel of each grade, and the cost of this Department, now and in 1913?
As the answer to this question is very long, I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
The numbers by grades of the Registry staff in 1913 and at present are as follows:—
|Second Division, Higher Grade||14|
|Assistant Principal Presskeeper||2|
|Senior Staff Clerk||1|
|Second Division, Higher Grade||1|
|Temporary Clerk (Ex-Soldiers)||50|
|Assistant Principal Presskeeper||2|
|(including 9 to be released by the end of March).|
Excluding those about. to be released, the present staff of the Registry is less than twice the size of the staff in 1913, despite the fact that the volume of incoming correspondence received in the office—over which the Department can exercise no control—is still more than twice the pre-War volume and amounts to well over a million letters a year.
The total cost of the staff in 1913 was£11,297. The cost at the present time is £31,662 inclusive of bonus.
The duties of this Central Registry, which serves the whole office, are as follows:
Receipt, registration and distribution of letters etc.—Despatch of letters, books and parcels. Daily record of transit of registered papers. Custody of registered papers. Index of important decisions. Despatch of correspondence for Military Commands and for Missions abroad. General correspondence with General Post Office on postal etc. matters. Weeding of War Office papers with a view to the destruction of those now obsolete. Encoding, decoding and distribution of telegrams.
In addition to the above staff, there is a small temporary section of retired civil servants re-employed who are engaged in the task of weeding the very large number of papers which have accumulated during the War.
Air Service (Brevet Rank)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the grant of appropriate brevet rank to those regular officers of the Army who were seconded for service with the Royal Air Force during the recent War and who were accorded special promotion in that force in the various honours lists?
The services rendered by such officers whilst serving with the Royal Air Force will not be overlooked, but I do not think the course suggested would be expedient. The grant of honours and rewards for War services ceased some time ago.
Lieut-Paymasters (Pay And Allowances)
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office what is the total amount per annum of the pay and allowances received by a lieutenant-paymaster holding a regular commission in the Royal Army Pay Department whilst stationed at home?
The total amount per annum of the pay and allowances of a. lieutenant and paymaster stationed at home is £468 (single) and £534 (married).
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the average pay in a City of London office to-day for a duly qualified chartered accountant is £250 per annum, and has he considered, in the interests of his Department, that Commissions in the Royal Army Pay Corps should be given only to men qualified in view of the high salary given?
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the hon. and gallant Member who has just put the question was himself on officer in the Army Pay Corps?
What on earth has that got to do with the question?
Perhaps that question had better be put to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Malone) outside the House.
United Services Fund
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if, in view of the fact that the United Services Fund have no copies of their charter available for distribution, he will cause a copy to be laid upon the Table of this House?
I do not think that the charter need be reprinted as a Parliamentary paper, but I will certainly see that copies are placed in the Library for the information of Members.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the accounts of the United Services Fund in respect of the payments made by local area branches are audited and, if so, by whom; and if any audit is conducted in connection with the distribution account of the head office at 29, Cromwell Road?
As has been explained to the House before, the United Services Fund was formed by Royal Charter, and its council of management is not responsible to the War Office. I am therefore not in a position to answer for them on the points raised in this question. I would suggest reference to the head office of the fund.
France And Ruhr District
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he will give the House all information in his Department with regard to the progress of the French occupation of the Ruhr?
No, Sir. I cannot deal with such a subject within the limits of a Parliamentary answer.
asked the Prime Minister if it is his intention to introduce a Bill giving to women the franchise on the same conditions as it applies to men, both as to age and otherwise?
The answer is in the negative.
Real Property Law
asked the Prime Minister when he proposes to introduce the Bill to consolidate the law relating to real property?
I have been asked to reply. A series of Bills will be required and are in preparation. Owing to the intricate and technical nature of the subject it is impossible to hurry their completion and consequently I am unable to fix a date for their introduction.
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that an assurance was given that a Consolidating Bill would be passed and that it is of the highest importance that such a Measure should be passed during the present Session?
I quite recognise that it is desirable to pass these Bills as soon as possible, but I think the House will agree it is also important that they should not give rise to ambiguity.
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us, which Act passed by this House has not been ambiguous?
asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the repeated statements that large quantities of fish are destroyed at various fishing ports and harbours owing to the lack of transport facilities and the high cost of transit, he will appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole question of the fish supply in order that the waste of so much valuable food may be prevented?
I have been asked to reply. I am aware that considerable quantities of fish have from time to time been destroyed or thrown back into the sea. This rarely occurs at the principal fishing ports, where regular landings take place, but generally happens at the minor fishing stations as a consequence of occasional landings of abnormal quantities or fish such as herring, mackerel, sprats and pilchards. It is not possible to anticipate these events nor is it practicable to prepare adequate transport facilities to cope with them. As regards railway transport, there have been two recent reductions in the rates charged for fish and very few complaints have been received by my Department for some time either that lack of railway facilities or high cost of transit prevents the supply of fish normally landed at the recognised fishing ports from reaching the public. In these circumstances I scarcely think it would be advisable to appoint a Committee to inquire into this subject.
Heritable Property Law
asked the Prime Minister if he has received a copy of a resolution from the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce requesting the Government to pass legislation with a view to simplifying the transfer of heritable property in Scotland and amending the law of succession; and if he proposes to accede to this request?
I have been asked to reply. The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. My Noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland will be glad to proceed with this Meausre if opportunity arises.
Is an opportunity likely to arise during this Session?
I am afraid I cannot answer that question.
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether the Secretary for Scotland is aware that the prosecution of the whaling industry in Shetland has resulted in the closing down of the herring fishing stations throughout the west side of Shetland; that no stations will re-open so long as whaling is permitted; that there has been a consequent loss of capital to curers and of wages to fish workers; and if he will state what further evidence he requires to satisfy him that whaling is prejudicial to the herring industry?
My Noble Friend is aware that the closing down of curing stations was due in part to the decline of the herring fishing on the west side of Shetland, but the question at issue is whether such decline was caused by the prosecution of the whaling industry. As regards the reopening of stations, I would remind the hon. Member that a few stations were opened last year, and that part of the west side catch of 35,000 crams was landed at these stations. My Noble Friend is aware that the closing of stations has resulted in loss to curers and fishing workers. It is impossible to specify in anticipation what circumstances may occur in future to justify a decision that whaling is prejudicial to the herring fishery. The case hitherto put forward is substantially that in the period before the War the development of the whaling industry and the decline of the herring fishery were coincident in point of time. My Noble Friend considers that evidence or experience showing a causal relation between the fortunes of the two industries would be of consequence.
Are we to understand that there was no reason at all for passing the Act which was passed by the last Parliament?
What is the specific cause of complaint against the whales? Is it that the cutting up and curing of the whales pollutes and fouls the water, or is it that the hunting of the whales chases away the herring shoals?
Port Seton Harbour
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether he is aware that the absence of adequate harbour accommodation at Port Seton adversely affects the coal industry as well as the fishing industry; that coal has now to be taken to Leith at a cost of 2s. 1d. per ton, and if adequate facilities were provided at Port Seton the net realised price of coal would be increased by that amount, and both owners and miners would benefit accordingly; and whether he will recommend the adoption of the scheme of enlargement to the Development Commissioners?
The subjects of transport, working costs, and prices in the coal industry do not fall within the province of my Noble Friend's Department, and he is, therefore, unable to express any opinion on the matters referred to in the first two parts of the question. I am informed that any application which might be made by the Harbour Commissioners for assistance from the Development Fund could only be considered by the Development Commissioners in so far as its object was the development and improvement of the fisheries.
Is not the question of the development of trade in Scotland a matter for the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department?
The question of the coal trade is obviously not specifically a question for the Secretary for Scotland; this is the spending of Government money for a particular object which does not some within the authority of the Secretary for Scotland.
Do I understand that in the application of the Development Fund to Scotland, no part of the money can be used for the development of harbour accommodation?
No part of the money can be used for the development of harbour accommodation for the coal trade, it can be used for the development of harbour accommodation for the fishing industry.
Would this not develop the fishing industry for these honest people?
In so far as the development of the harbour would include, or provide, facilities for the herring fishing, the charge would be one properly falling on this Fund; in so far as it would assist the coal trade, which is, I understand, the contention of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Linlithgow, it would not properly be a charge upon this fund.
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether, seeing that the Member recently appointed by him to the Scottish Land Court is proprietor of a landed estate in the North of Scotland and a director of a soft-goods store in Glasgow and that with one exception all the members of the Scottish Land Court are landlords, he will say whether they are permitted to adjudicate on the question of fair rents in the counties where their landed estates are situated; and whether he will now consider the appointment of a member more representative of the interests of small landholders and with a knowledge of the Highlands, the people, their language, and aspirations, so as to establish this tribunal in the confidence not only of landlords but also of small landholders?
I am informed that the member recently appointed is proprietor of a small landed estate in Caithness and that the two of her agricultural members were tenant farmers who have purchased their farms. The first-mentioned member was formerly a director of a firm of warehousemen in Glasgow, but retired from that office some months ago. In the allocation of cases care is taken to ensure that no member shall adjudicate on any application in which he is in any way interested. The importance of securing a member well qualified to discharge the duties was fully in view by my Noble Friend in making the last appointment, and he will have regard to the same considerations in making any future appointment.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the gentleman to whom reference is made in this question is a Highlander belonging to one of the principal clans in Sutherlandshire, that he has a full knowledge of the language and of the interests of the people, and that this appointment was warmly welcomed by the people of Caithness and Sutherland, and by none more than by the small landholders?
That is what the Minister has said.
|By which Cruiser detected.||Number of Detections.||Locus.||Port to which Vessel taken.||Results of Trials.|
|"Brenda"||…||…||1||Off Haddingtonshire Coast.||Leith||…||…||Not yet tried.|
|"Freya"||…||…||2||(a) Off Buchanness.||Peterhead||…||Fined £80 or 60 days.|
|(b) Off Brora.||Charged at sea||…||Not yet tried.|
|"Minna"||…||…||1||Loch Roag||Stornoway||…||Fined £100 or 60 days.|
|"Vigilant"||…||…||2||Firth of Clyde, off Great Cumbrae.||Charged at sea||(a) Pined £10 or 26 days.|
|(b) Fined £50 or 40 days.|
Is it not the fact that these vessels are quite inadequate to afford that protection it is their duty to do because of their insufficient speed?
I do not think that question arises out of the answer.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Battersea can tell them about speed!
Deer Forest, Kintail (Arbitration)
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether he is aware of recent arbitration proceedings to determine a claim by a landlord from Kintail, Ross-shire, against the nation for compulsory grazing of sheep in his deer forest during the War, and consequent frightening of deer on his lands; whether the arbiter, who in the case is a sheriff-principal, is to receive, or has received, any extra remuneration out of national funds; whether he is aware that two King's counsel, two advocates,
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health which cruisers were concerned in the detection of illegal fishing in February last, and in which waters; into which ports were the captured vessels taken; whether prosecutions were instituted; and, if so, what penalties were imposed?
As the reply to my hon. and gallant Friend's question can most conveniently be given in the form of a tabulated statement, I propose, with his permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the statement:
and half-a-dozen other lawyers, two duke's commissioners, and numerous other partially employed factors and gamekeepers were engaged for seven days to ascertain what degree of fright and injury was occasioned to this landlord's deer by the sheep grazing on his forest; why the nation's interest was not represented at this inquiry by Crown counsel or agents, and why this claim was not submitted to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission; and what is to be the total cost to the British taxpayer in connection with this alleged injury to deer and the consequent arbitration proceedings?
With regard to the first part of the question, I am aware of the proceedings referred to which arose out of claims for compensation for alleged diminution of letting or selling value of the deer forest which was compulsorily stocked with sheep. In answer to the second part, the arbiter did not act in his official capacity as a sheriff-principal, and his remuneration as arbiter will form part of the arbitration expenses. With reference to the third part, the number of persons engaged on behalf of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland was kept as small as the importance of the case would permit. My Noble Friend has no control over the numbers engaged on behalf of the claimants. With reference to the fourth part, the national interest was represented by the counsel acting for the Board of Agriculture. In answer to part five, reference to the Defence of the Realm Losses Commission would not have been competent, as in law such claims, failing agreement, must be settled by arbitration before a single arbiter. I am unable at present to answer the last part of the question, as the arbiter has not yet issued his award.
Will the Under-Secretary for Scotland make inquiries and so put himself in possession of information that will enable him to answer the other part of the question; he says he is unable to answer it?
I am unable to answer it because the facts are not as yet published. I do not know the answer because the answer is not known to anybody.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that a great many ex-service men desire to be settled in that particular part of Ross-shire, and now that the arbitration is over will he see to it that a settlement is speedily effected?
No doubt any further developments will be carefully watched.
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health the amount of money now standing to the credit of the Development Commissioners?
Excluding the Corn Repeal moneys and a gift from the Red Cross for specific purposes, the balance on the Development Fund on the 10th instant was £400,375, including cash and investments at cost price. There are, however, considerable commitments to be set against this sum; and, as the hon. and gallant Member will observe from the Estimate for the Vote on Account, it has been found necessary to ask Parliament to vote a further sum of £250,000 in 1923–24.
Rent Arrears, Glasgow
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he is aware that a large number of tenants are being brought before the Glasgow Sheriff Court for arrears of rent and that they cannot afford to get the legal assistance necessary to defend them; and will he take such steps as will allow a tenant summoned to be defended by a person other than a solicitor?
I am aware that the number of actions for non-payment of rent is large; as regards the ability of the tenants in question to pay for legal assistance I have no information. Parties may appear in the Small Debt. Court, in which actions relating to sums not exceeding £20 are usually raised, by themselves, by any member of their family, or by any person whom the Sheriff permits.I would also remind the hon. Member that the law already makes provision for legal assistance to poor persons. In these circumstances it seems unnecessary to take further steps in the direction suggested in the last part of the question.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that these persons are mostly summoned for being unable to pay rent owing to unemployment and if they cannot pay rent they cannot pay legal expenses? Is he further aware that the lawyers are so busy on other work that it is almost impossible for them to serve in the Sheriff Court?
There is specific provision made in the Sheriff Court Law of Scotland for the representation of poor persons. If the hon. Member knows of any cases where they cannot get such assistance if he will bring them to my notice I will have the matter looked into.
Owing to the unsatisfactory answer which I have received I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.
asked the Under-Secretary for the Scottish Board of Health what are the historical buildings in Scotland whose maintenance is under the supervision of the Government; what is the total cost of maintenance; and what are the numbers employed in the same?
I am sending the hon. Member a list of the historic buildings and ancient monuments in Scotland which are maintained by my Department. The annual cost of maintenance is £39,000, and the average number of men employed is 200.
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he will state the number of applications for small holdings at present on the waiting list of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland; and what proportion of the said applications have been on the Board's waiting list for over two years?
The number of outstanding applications on the lists of the Board of Agriculture for Scotland is 10,040, including 3,769 from ex-service men; of the total applications approximately 8,150, including 2,700 from ex-service men, have been on the lists for two years or more. These numbers, however, include a considerable proportion of cases in which the applicants may prove unsuitable owing to inexperience, lack of capital or other reasons.
Crown Fishing Rights
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he is aware that many Crown fishing rights in the south-west of Scotland are, let privately at a nominal rent to the proprietors of the adjacent land; and whether, with a view to increasing revenue from these fishing rights and giving the public an opportunity of acquiring same, steps will be taken in future to put them up for open competition?
I have been asked to reply. The Crown's fishing rights in Scotland are in charge of the Commissioner of Woods. Crown salmon fishings in the sea are offered for letting by public tender for a term of years. As regards Crown salmon fishings in rivers, in several cases leases have been granted to angling associations or to local authorities for the benefit of residents in the district, and generally speaking it is only when the fishings are of trifling value or there are special considerations affecting them that they are offered to the ex adverso proprietors direct. I shall be glad to have inquiry made concerning any particular case which the hon. Member has in mind.
Agricultural Workers (Wages)
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he can state the number of conciliation committees which have been constituted in Scotland under the provisions of Section 4 (1) of the Agriculture Acts (Repeal) Act, 1921, and the steps, if any, taken by them to adjust the rate of wages for agricultural workers in their districts?
No conciliation committees have been constituted in Scotland under the provisions of Section 4 (1) of the Act of 1921. Shortly after the passing of that Act the Board of Agriculture offered their assistance to the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and to the Scottish Farm Servants' Union in connection with the formation of local committees. Both unions, however, replied that they did not desire any action to be taken by the Board.
Potatoes (Wart Disease)
further asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he can state the new arrangements arrived at for the prevention of the spread of wart disease among potatoes, and the conditions under which potatoes may be moved from one district to another?
The Board of Agriculture do not at present propose to make new regulations for the control of wart disease within Scotland. As regards the movement of potatoes from Scotland to England, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries informed the hon. and gallant Member for Galloway on Tuesday last that he proposed to issue an Order at an early date.
When will the report be issued?
I am afraid that I cannot say, as the matter lies rather with the Minister of Agriculture.
National Health Insurance
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether any investigation has been made into the possibility of so developing and extending the existing system of insurance as to make adequate provision thereunder for all cases of invalidity and disability arising before the age of 70, as recommended by the Majority Report of the Departmental Committee on Old Age Pensions; and, if not, whether he will cause such an inquiry to be made?
No such investigation has vet been made and inasmuch as a scheme of this kind would almost inevitably involve a considerable measure of State assistance I am afraid that it is hardly practicable while our present financial difficulties continue.
Could the Chancellor of the Exchequer provide the House with the actuarial data necessary to work out such a contributory scheme as is suggested?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a practical scheme does exist—that associated with the name of Mr. Broad, late Member for Clay Cross—and will he examine that scheme in order that it may be further investigated?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that German dyes imported into the Irish Free State are re-exported into this country; and whether he will take steps to prevent this evasion of the Dyestuffs Act?
I am not aware that German dyestuffs subject to the restrictions laid down by the Dyestuffs Act are being improperly introduced into this country from the Irish Free State. If my hon. and gallant Friend will furnish me with particulars of any cases which he has in mind, I will have inquiry made.
Development Fund (Grants And Loans)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount of grants and loans made out of the Development Fund since the establishment of the Development Commission in 1969; and how much of this sum has been allocated to purposes from which agricultural labourers receive any direct benefit?
The total amount of grants and loans made out of the Development Fund between the establishment of the Development Commission in 1909 and the 9th instant is as follows:
There is nothing in the Development and Roads Improvement Fund Acts, 1909 and 1910, prescribing advances for the direct benefit of agricultural labourers, though they, in common with the rest of the agricultural community, have benefited by the improvements in agricultural methods arising from the operation of the Act. Under the Corn Production Acts (Repeal) Act, 1921, a sum of £850,000 was added to the Development Fund for the purpose of providing a special fund for promoting agricultural development, including the establishment of scholarships and maintenance grants for the sons and daughters of agricultural workmen and others, and a sum of £100,000 has been set aside from this source to meet the last-mentioned purpose over a period of five years.