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Volume 161: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1923

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Allotments (Wallasey)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the rents of allotments have been increased by the Wallasey Council to approximately £20 an acre; that the council are considering the question of letting the Wallasey golf links at an annual rental of 46s. per acre: and whether, having regard to the view of the allotment holders that their allotments are a recreation, he will inquire intro the reason for the considerable difference in the rents for these two forms of recreation?

These matters are within the discretion of the town council, and I have no authority to intervene.

Farm Workers, Norfolk (Wages)

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the deadlock in regard to farm wages in Norfolk, and whether he will take steps to bring the parties together with a view to preventing the strike which is threatened for Friday next?

I have seen the Press reports of the dispute in question and have sent an officer into the area to ascertain the precise situation. I have instructed him to place his services at the disposal of the parties with a view to assisting them in arriving at a settlement.

It beg to give notice that I will call attention to this subject on the Adjournment of the House at the earliest opportunity.

Sanitary Inspectors


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in many county districts sanitary inspectors have been appointed at a small salary inclusive of travelling expenses; and whether, in view of the fact that by compelling the inspector to meet his travelling expenses out of his own salary the tendency is to discourage him from incurring any more expenses than he can help, to the detriment of the efficient discharge of his duties, he will issue an instruction that in all future appointments the salary paid must be exclusive of travelling expenses?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. If the unsatisfactory conditions to which the hon. Member refers arise, I think that they are probably due in the case of these particular officers not so much to the fact that travelling expenses are not excluded from the salary as to the possible inadequacy of the total remuneration. In such a case it is for the local authority to review the position and to propose the necessary steps to remedy it.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the appointment of these officers by the local authorities is subject to the jurisdiction of his own Ministry, and why does he not see that they receive a salary exclusive of travelling expenses?

Is the Minister of Health not aware that his Department provides part of the salaries, and therefore he is responsible?

Is it not a good thing to discourage servants of the State from incurring more expenses than are necessary?


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the St. Austell Rural District Council advertised for a full-time qualified sanitary inspector at a salary of £175 per annum, to include travelling expenses; whether the Ministry sanctioned the appointment at this salary; and whether, in view of the present cost of living and the fact that the inspector in question will have to find his own travelling expenses out of the £175 per annum, he will for all future appointments lay down a scale which would he more in keeping with present-day needs?


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Little Lever Urban District Council published an advertisement in connection with the joint appointment of a qualified whole-time sanitary inspector and assistant surveyor, the salary for the joint appointment to he £175 per annum, inclusive of bonus; whether the Ministry sanctioned the appointment at this salary; and whether, in view of the important work of a sanitary inspector, the Ministry will, in future cases, insist upon the payment of a salary commensurate with the duties and with the cost of living?

The answer to the first two parts of these questions is in the affirmative. The candidates, who are properly qualified, themselves applied for the respective posts with full knowledge of the salaries offered. In present circumstances, I cannot require local authorities to pay salaries in excess of what they themselves consider necessary and what enables them to obtain qualified officers.

Edmonton Infirmary (Lunacyorder)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the three days' order, signed by a relieving officer for the committal of a Mrs. H. D. to the lunacy ward of Edmonton Infirmary on 8th November, 1921, has disappeared, and is said to have been cut out, from the guardians' book; that a doctor's statement given to this relieving officer, imputing insanity to the said lady, has in like manner mysteriously disappeared; that the lady was found to be suffering from concussion of the brain, due to a fall on the head; that when her son hurried to her, from a distance, and, finding her sane, applied for leave to take her home, assuming responsibility in accordance with Section 22 of the Lunacy Act, he was told he had no voice in the matter; that the lady was not seen by a magistrate at any time, and that the infirmary doctor only looked at her from the foot of her bed; that she was detained for 17 days in the company of lunatics and treated with indignity, classed undeservedly as a lunatic and then set free, and that, or, being questioned as to these proceedings, the board of control told the infirmary authorities to withhold all information; and, in view of the suspicion attaching to the disappearance of documents, which were admittedly in the keeping of the infirmary officials, will he institute an inquiry in order to discover the culprits, who may be supposed to have abstracted them to hide their delinquency, and also cause strict investigation to be made into the infringements of the Lunacy Act which secured the illegal committal and detention of a patient suffering from the usual symptoms of a prolonged state of unconsciousness, due to severe head injury?

I am asking the guardians for a report on this case, and when it is received I will communicate with the hon. Member.

Official Referee


asked the Attorney-General whether he has had his attention called to the proceedings in Shrager v. Dighton and others, which occupied 25 days in hearing before the Official Referee; whether he is aware that the costs incurred in this case are estimated at £25,000; and whether he will move for a Select Committee to examine into this example of costly judicial proceedings with a view to introducing legislation designed to provide means whereby litigants can secure cheaper and speedier decisions?

My attention has not been called to this case, in which the Crown was not a party nor have I any information as to the costs incurred. The answer to the latter part of the question is in the negative.

Default Summonses (Servicefees)


asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that the fee for service of default summonses in the County Court, where served by an officer of the Court, is 1s. for each person served, which fee includes mileage and filing; that solicitors are allowed 5s. for service, 3s. 4d. to 6s. 8d. for affidavit. of service, and a sum not exceeding 5s. to 11s. 8d. for mileage for performing this duty, with consequent hardship upon needy persons; and that this duty is taken out of the hands of the officers of the Court for the purpose of charging extra costs against defendants; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take to stop this practice?

A default summons may, at the option of the plaintiff, be served by himself, or by some clerk or servant in his permanent and exclusive employment, or by his solicitor. or by an officer of the Court. If the Court serves the summons an inclusive fee of 1s. for each person served is charged. If a solicitor is employed he is entitled to charge an inclusive fee of 3s. if the amount is between £2 and £5, or 5s. if the amount is between £5 and £10. A charge for mileage or for affidavit of service can only be made on the service of a special default summons, that is, a summons to recover more than £10. I see no reason to believe that the suggestion that the duty is, as a general practice. taken out of the hands of officers of the Court for the purpose of making costs is well founded, for I am informed that, taken as a whole, the operation is not remunerative to a solicitor at the charges allowed on taxation.

London Parks (Waste Paper)


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he can give an estimate of the cost incurred monthly by his Department in gathering waste paper and refuse deposited by visitors to the London parks?

The average monthly expenditure during the summer months is £400, and £90 during the winter months.

Can the right hon. Gentleman bring this waste to the notice of the public?

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for having mentioned that very desirable object. No doubt there is much money spent in this way which could be saved if the public would take more care.

Would it not be well to give the officials instructions to remonstrate with these who are careless, which, to my own certain knowledge, they never do?

Would not this cost he very much reduced if more receptacles for waste paper were placed in the parks?

The best way to reduce the cost is for the public not to scatter so much waste paper about.

Westminster Hall Roof


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether, in view of the great interest taken in the matter, he will give facilities for Members to visit the roof of Westminster Hall prior to the final removal of the scaffolding?

Facilities will be given for two parties to view the roof of Westminster Hall at 12 noon and 4 p.m. on Wednesday next, the 21st instant, under the guidance of Sir Frank Baines, the Director of Works, who has been in charge of the repairs throughout. I would suggest that Members should assemble in front of the war memorial at St. Stephen's Entrance at the hours named.

I am afraid it would be an acrobatic feat for most Members to visit the roof without the scaffolding.

Statues (Cleaning)


asked the First Commissioner of Works whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the statue of Lord Napier of Magdala is constantly washed while the statue of Field-Marshal Lord Strathnairn has never been washed; whether he will take steps to have that of Lord Strathnairn washed in future; and call he say who has been responsible for the past neglect?

M'grigor's Bank


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War on what grounds the War Office has refused to assist regimental funds which have suffered as a result of the failure of M`Grigor's Bank; and why the distinction is made between compensation to officers and the non-payment of any compensation to funds concerned with private soldiers and non-commissioned officers, many of which funds are devoted solely to charitable purposes?

In view of the very varied nature of the accounts classed as regimental funds, it was decided by the Government that the grant of 10s. in the £ should be given only in cases where the loss involved serious hardship to individuals. That, I think, covers the hon. Member's point about charitable purposes. The decision whether such hardship exists in each case was entrusted to a Committee presided over by Lord Askwith. The War Office is giving effect to the findings of that Committee. In this respect there is no distinction between officers and men.

Scientific Society Journals(Post Office Registration)


asked the Postmaster-General whether steps can be taken to register the journals of a scientific society published monthly as newspapers, in view of the small cost that would be entailed?

The newspaper rate of postage is confined by Statute to journals published at intervals of not more than seven days. My hon. Friend regrets that he cannot undertake to promote legislation extending the rate to monthly newspapers. Such an extension could not be restricted to the journals in which the hon. and gallant Member is interested, and would involve a considerable sacrifice of revenue on a post which is, and always has been, carried on at a loss.

Can the hon. Gentleman say what the extra loss would be?