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Volume 161: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1923

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Entertainments Duty


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the exemption of agricultural and horticultural shows from the Entertainments Duty, in view of the educational purpose served by such shows and the general depression in the country districts?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on the 20th February to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Market Harborough (Major Sir K. Fraser).

Food Taxes


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if ho is able to relieve the people of this country of any or all of the taxes on tea, sugar, and other necessaries of life?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of tea and of sugar was raised last week, is he aware of the great hardship upon widows, old age pensioners, and unemployed persons, and can he promise some relief to them from these very pressing hardships?

Motor-Car Import Duty


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the gross amount of £1,403,697 collected as motor-car import duty in the year ended 31st March, 1923, was reduced by repayments to a net amount of £763,913; whether the repayments included sums repaid in respect of motor cars and parts thereof to be used as commercial vehicles exempted from duty; if so, what amount was repaid under that heading; and whether he can state the approximate annual cost to the State in salaries and expenses of dealing with claims for repayment of import duty in respect of exempted vehicles?

I beg to refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer which I gave on the 8th instant to a similar question put by the hon. Member for Coventry (Sir E. Manville).

British Cellulose And Chemical Manufacturing Co


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the exact nature of the services for which the Government directors of the British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company, Limited, received £1,000 in 1922–23 and are to receive £500 in 1923–24?

The services referred to are those normally performed by directors of public companies.

Is there any special reason why these fees should not be paid by the companies rather than by the British taxpayer?

I think the special reason is the one that exists in several cases of companies that were founded during the War, where a Government director is there on purpose to watch the interests of the Government and the taxpayer, and is paid as their guardian and representative.

Land Values (Rating And Taxation)


asked the Prime Minister how many municipal authorities have passed resolutions in favour of the rating and taxation of land values; and whether he will introduce legislation to give effect thereto?

I understand that since 1918 representations have been received from 17 borough councils in favour of the rating of land values. The Government has no intention of introducing legislation on the subject.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the rating of land values would give a great impetus to the building of houses?

Tobacco-Dealers' Licences


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether licences for the sale of tobacco and cigarettes are granted to holders of coffee stalls; and, if so, whether he will state on what grounds a licence for the sale of these articles has been refused to a disabled ex-service man, i.e., Frederick Hyatt, late corporal in the Rifle Brigade, of 65, Lyon Park Avenue, Wembley, who has invested the whole of his small savings in this business?

The question whether tobacco-dealers' licences can be issued in respect of coffee stalls depends on various considerations, such as the nature of the stall and the proposed hours of sale. As regards the case of Frederick Hyatt, I am having inquiry made into the matter, and I will communicate with the hon. Member in due course.

Navy, Army, And Air Force Institute


asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he is aware that the manager of the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institute is to receive a salary of £7,500 per annum; if he can give the names of the members of the Board of Management who have granted this salary, and the name and business record of the manager; and if the Government can interfere to secure an adequate salary for this gentleman?

As regards the first portion of his question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to his question on the 1st March.

The members of the Board of Management were:

Sir C. C. Barrie, K.B.E., M.P. (Chairman).

G. McKechnie, Esq. (Deputy-Chairman).

Paymaster-Captain H. J. Hargraves, C.B.E.

Brevet-Colonel E. Gibb, C.M. G., C. B. E., D. S. O.

Squadron-Leader H. B. Bonning.

The name of the general manager is Mr. J. C. Goff. The appointment and qualifications for the post are matters which fall within the competence of the Board of Management, and I regret, therefore, that I am not in a position to supply information as to this gentleman's business record. The Government see no reason to interfere with the decision of the Board of Management as regards the salary of the general manager.

Iraq Railways


asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the name and character of the syndicate from whom the Government has recently received an offer to purchase the Iraq railways from Basra to Bagdad?

As I explained to the House in the Debate on the let March, negotiations with the syndicate came to nothing. In the circumstances, I do not see how any useful purpose would be served by giving the details now asked for.

Shall we be obliged to continue in occupation of this country in any way if we release these railways or sell them?

Does the hon. Member think there is anybody foolish enough to buy these railways?

Jute Industry Dispute, Dundee

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister for Labour if his attention has been drawn to the serious state of affairs in the jute industry in Dundee, where a lock-out of the whole industry is threatened; if he is keeping in touch with the situation, and if he will take such steps as may be open to him to utilise the machinery of conciliation at the disposal of his Department, in order to avert the widespread misery and distress resulting from the stoppage of an industry which employs such a large proportion of the working population of Dundee?

I understand that there is a serious state of things in the jute trade in Dundee. I am keeping in close and constant touch with the situation, and shall take all proper action open to me with a view to assisting in a settlement of this dispute.

Milk (Special Designation) Order, 1922

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the provisions of the Milk (Special Designations) Order, 1922, and whether he is in a position to make any statement on the subject?

Yes, Sir. There are certain detailed provisions in this Order which appear to me to be capable of some amendment so far as I have bad time to go into the matter. I propose to consider the Order in detail as soon as possible and to reissue it with such amendments as appear to me to be desirable after consultation with all parties interested. My hon. Friend is aware that under the Act of 1922 the Order remains in force unless it is annulled in the manner prescribed by the Act. Any new Order must, of course, be laid before Parliament, and would equally be open for discussion and, if not agreed, to annulment by presentation of an address to His Majesty.

Private Members' Motion

I wish to ask your advice, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) obtained the Adjournment of the House on a Motion which was accepted by you, and which obtained the necessary support. That Motion superseded a Bill which was down for 8.15 last evening, the Warrington Corporation Water Bill which automatically should have come on at that time. A fortnight ago I happened to be lucky in the ballot in drawing first place and I put down a reasoned motion for to-night in regard to trade and Empire development. I noticed on the Order Paper this morning that my Motion does not appear upon it and the Warrington Corporation Water Bill does. I have no doubt that that Bill is a very important Measure, particularly for the people of Warrington, but the Motion which I had down was also an important one.

I am corning to that. I want to emphasise this point that the Motion which stands in my name is one which excites an extraordinary amount of interest in this House, and a great number of Members wish to speak on it. One hon. Member from the North of England has cancelled an engagement in order to be here specially, and a distinguished Member of one of the Dominion Parliaments had made special arrangements to be present to-night—

The hon. Member cannot, under the plea of a point, of Order, make a speech.

I will come to the point of Order at once. Private Members have very few opportunities of bringing forward their Motions. Next Wednesday week, the 22nd March, is taken by the Government. I do not object to giving way for a Government Motion. My point of Order is this. What is the alternative which is at the disposal of private Members? Are there or can there be open to them any means under the Rules and procedure of this House to secure the discussion of a Motion which has been excluded, as in this instance.

In the first place, the hon. Member was not at all correct in saying that his Motion has disappeared from the Order Paper. If he will look at page 746, he will find it there set out in full, along with the Amendments which it is proposed to move to it.

With regard to his other point, it is the duty of the Chairman of Ways and Means to set down Private Bill business at 8.15, and, on referring to Standing Order No. 8, paragraph (3), the hon. Member will see that it is to be set down on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Therefore, the matter is entirely in the hands of the Chairman of Ways and Means, and is not one over which I have any jurisdiction. The Chairman of Ways and Means is appointed by the House to supervise the business of Private Bills, and I have no doubt he exercises his duty in a proper manner. It is not a matter which I have any jurisdiction. Hon. Members who ballot stand their chance. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose.

My chief point is, Will you kindly indicate what means are open to hon. Members who have Motions treated similarly to this to secure that they shall be taken at some future time—that facilities are given for their discussion?

There are still a number of ballots. I am going to call one just now. In addition to that, if the hon. Member will look at the Order Paper, he will see that there is a Motion very similar to his own which stands first on the Civil Service Estimates.

Would it be possible to indicate to the Chairman of Ways and Means that at any rate these Private Bills should be put down so as to secure an equal distribution between Government days and Private Members' days?

What steps can be taken to alter the Standing Order so as to avoid this infringement of the rights of Private Members?

If the hon. Member wants to amend the Standing Orders, he must Table a Motion to that effect, and then try to induce the Government to give time for it.