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.