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Written Answers

Volume 161: debated on Friday 16 March 1923

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Written Answers

Trade And Commerce

Exports (Statistics)

asked the President of the Board of Trade (on 13th March) (1) if he will give the figures of exports and imports from and to the United Kingdom for each year since 1909, inclusive and exclusive, of gold and bullion;(2) if he will give the quantities of coal, coke, and pig-iron exported to Germany for each of the last 12 months, and the price per ton charged for the same; will he say whether any duty was paid on the same; and, if so, what was the amount of the said duty?

has since supplied the following statement, which shows the quantities and the average declared values per ton of coal, coke, and pig-iron, the produce and manufactures of the United Kingdom, exported from the United Kingdom, registered during each month from March, 1922, to February, 1923, inclusive, as consigned to Germany:

(A) Coal.
Month and Year.Quantity Exported.Average Declared Value per ton.
March, 1922467,7180196
April, 1922256,6180198
May, 1922601,47301910
June, 1922889,6440198
July, 19221,133,402100
August, 19221,165,228105
September, 19221,060,801108
October, 1922918,598110
November, 1922735,153116
December, 1922509,769114
January, 1923521,854112
February, 19231,000,0971211
(B) Coke.
Month and Year.Quantity Exported.Average Declared Value per ton.
March, 19221,3041910
April, 19227,239180
May, 192215,812174
June, 192239,409169
July, 192246,5801610
August, 192237,2581611
September, 192240,028181
October, 192228,8691811
November, 192210,957199
December, 192213,4991100
January, 19233,379198
February, 192314,00611811
(C) Pig-iron.
Month and Year.Quantity Exported.Average Declared Value per ton.
March, 19222,082532
April, 192211,66741810
May, 19227,6604156
June, 19225,3054174
July, 19221,7014198
August, 19223,440543
September, 19229,045499
October, 10222,2804710
November, 19221,100467
Year.Value, including Gold and Silver Bullion and Specie.Value, excluding Gold and Silver Bullion and Specie.
(i) Total Exports from the United Kingdom.
Thousand £.Thousand £.
(ii) Total Imports into the United Kingdom.
Thousand £.Thousand £.
*Complete particulars of imports and exports of bullion and specie are not available for these years.

Month and Tear.Quantity Exported.Average Delared Value per ton.
December, 19229614168
January, 19232,40041311
February, 19235,580521

No export duty was payable on coal, coke, or pig-iron exported from the United Kingdom during the period to which the above particulars relate.

The following statement gives the information desired, so far as the particulars are available:

Cycles And Motor Vehicles (Importsand Exports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total exports and imports of cycles, motor cycles, and motor cars during the years 1913 and 1922, respectively?

Imported Eggs

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of eggs imported during 1913 and 1922, respectively; and the total value of such imports?

The imports of eggs into the United Kingdom during 1913 amounted to 21,579,950 great hundreds, valued at £9,590,602; and in 1922 to 13,661,671 great hundreds, valued at £11,301,652.

Town.Percentage Increases in Rates of Wages between the end of 1913 and March, 1923.
Bricklayers.Masons.*Carpenters and Joiners.Plumbers.Plasterers.PaintersLabourers.
Hourly Rates.
Weekly Rates.†
*Banker Hands.
† Calculated on the basis of the recognised hours of labour in a full normal week taking into account both summer and winter hours.

Building Trade (Wages)

asked the Minister of Labour what at the present time is the percentage increase in wages above the wages of 1913 in each of the building trades, including labourers?

The amounts of increase in the rates of wages of building trade operatives have varied in different localities. The following table shows the percentage increases, between the end of 1913 and the present date, in the recognised rates of wages in 10 towns of varying importance in different parts of the country.As the weekly working hours have been reduced since 1913, the percentage increases in weekly rates of wages are less than those in hourly rates. Accordingly, both the hourly and the weekly percentages are shown in the table:

Post Office

Underground Plant

asked the Postmaster-General if it is the policy of his Department wherever possible to do away with poles for carrying telegraph and telephone wires; and. if so, whether he will reconsider any schemes involving the erection of poles with a view to the wires being placed underground?

The substitution of underground for overhead plant, wherever the expense is justified, has been the policy of the Post Office for many years. Generally speaking, owing to the heavy cost, it is not economical to provide underground plant for a few subscribers, but in any section where there is a reasonable prospect of at least 12 new circuits, that is 24 wires, being required within a few years, underground cables are provided.

Advisory Council

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has yet re-appointed the Post Office Advisory Council; and, if so, whether the composition of the Council may be stated, with particulars of the qualifications of the members?

The Advisory Council were re-appointed by my predecessor to hold office for one year, and I propose to avail myself of their services if they are good enough to assist me. I may add a few more names, and therefore, with the permission of the hon. Member, will postpone the publication of the list of members for the present.

Unemployment, Blaydon And Dunston

asked the Minister of Labour what number of persons there were on the Exchange registers in the Blaydon and Dunston districts on 31st December, 1921, 31st December, 1922, and 28th February, 1923?

The numbers of persons on the live registers of the Employment Exchanges at Blaydon and Dunston at dates nearest to those mentioned were as follow:

Numbers of persons on the live registers.

22nd Dec, 1921.18th Dec., 1922.5th Mar., 1923.
Dunston *1,709826785

* Exclusive of juveniles at each date and of women also at 5th March, 1923. These persons were registered at the Gateshead Exchange.

Ex-Service Men

Ministry Of Labour

asked the Minister of Labour what is the total number of non-service staff, male and female, respectively, still retained in his Department; what are the reasons in each case for such retention; and whether, in view of the large number of ex-service men now unemployed and on the pool of the Joint Substitution Board, he will take steps to effect further substitution?

Particulars of the temporary staff of the Ministry (including both Headquarters and Provincial Offices and excluding industial staff employed in the Ministry's Training Factories and part-time workers) are as follow:—

Of the 27 non-service men still employed in the Ministry, six will, under present arrangements, cease to be so employed within the next month. Of the remainder, four are pre-War employés and as such exempt from substitution under the terms of the Lytton Report; one is a caretaker whose retention is necessary under the terms of the agreement under which the Department occupies the premises of which he is in charge; three are men for whom substitutes with the necessary qualifications are not at present available on the books of the Joint Substitution Board but who will be substituted if appropriate substitutes are forthcoming; one (aged 69) is retained on compassionate grounds in circumstances which I should be happy to explain to my hon. Friend; and 12 are possessed of special technical qualifications, and it is not, in my opinion, in the interests of ex-service men as a whole that they should be displaced at present. The eases of the 16 men last referred to, however, have been, and are, constantly under review, and should it appear to me at any time that circumstances justify their replacement by an ex-service man, the necessary instructions will be given.Of the 1,721 non-service temporary women employed in a temporary capacity, 352 are engaged as typists and shorthand typists and as such are not liable to substitution under the terms of the Lytton Report. The remainder are employed either:—

  • (i) on clerical work especially appropriate to women, e.g., on the women's side of the Employment Exchanges and dealing with juveniles and women applicants for training; or
  • (ii) on routine and semi-manipulative work in the Claims and Record Office, Kew.
  • The work which is allotted to the 1,721 women above referred to is work which ought properly—in accordance with the existing practice of the Civil Service, as accepted by the Whitley Council for the Civil Service, as also with that of business houses—to be performed by women officers, and I am satisfied that further substitution in connection therewith cannot properly be proceeded with.

    The family circumstances of all the temporary women retained at Kew are being examined again in order to ensure that the only women retained are those who are dependent on their earnings at that office or have others dependent on them. I may add that since 1st October, 1920, the date at which the present arrangements for "substitution" were put into operation, the number of non-service men employed in the Ministry in a temporary capacity has been reduced from 541 to 27; and the number of temporary women officers from 3,449 to 1,721.

    Lancashire Fusiliers (J Sixsmith)

    asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that Mr. James Sixsmith, formerly Private, No. 64677, Lancashire Fusiliers, now residing at 89, Grimshaw Lane, Upholland, near Wigan, is a disabled ex-service trainee trained to take up poultry farming under the scheme of the Ministry by the Lancashire County Council; that he applied for a grant to the Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Department while he was undergoing training in 1920; that the county council has offered him a suitable small holding with cottage which he is unable to accept because he has no money with which to stock it; that the only material ground against making Mr. Sixsmith a grant which is put forward by the Department is that he did not take active steps to prosecute his claim; and that Mr. Sixsmith, having put forward his claim and received a receipt, did not know that any further action on his part was necessary, and has been patiently waiting to hear from the Department; and if he will now reconsider this case and so enable this man to take up the occupation for which ho has been trained at the public expense?

    I have been asked to reply. Mr. Sixsmith wrote to the Military Service (Civil Liabilities Department) in July, 1920, inquiring as to the conditions of a grant. He was referred to the local war pensions committee for Abram to whom he should have applied in the first place. Mr. Sixsmith did not apply to the committee, and nothing further was heard from him by them or by the Department until January, 1923, when he made a fresh application for a grant. The last date for accepting applications (with certain exceptions which do not affect Mr. Sixsmith) was 30th September, 1921. His application was therefore long out of date, and the Department cannot now treat the inquiry made in July, 1920, as a valid application. In any case grants can be given only if there is serious financial hardship due to war service. There are no features of exceptional hardship, since Mr. Sixsmith has been for a considerable period and is now in employment.

    Widow's Pension Claim (Mrs Gillespie)

    asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the case of Mrs. Gillespie, of 21, Warwick Street, Norwich, who claims pension in respect of her late husband, Private Gillespie, No. 55537, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and who has one child and is destitute; and whether, seeing that the rejection of this claim was based on the absence of a continual medical history and that this defect in the claim was due to the unwillingness of Private Gillespie to go sick or claim sick leave, he will secure a revision of the adverse decision?

    All the circumstances of this case received the fullest consideration by my medical advisers, both in connection with the late soldier's claim to pension and with that of his widow. The Ministry was, however, unable to accept the cause of death as being connected with service, and that decision, having been confirmed on appeal by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal, is now final.

    War Graves Commission (Naval Memorials)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the Imperial War Graves Commission is proposing to erect marine memorials; if so, how much public money it is proposed to spend upon these memorials; whether only firms named by the architect have been allowed to tender for the work of making and erecting these memorials: and, if so, whether he will give instructions that where public money is being spent upon memorials the work of making and erecting the same shall be open to public tender?

    The Imperial War Graves Commission is in process of erecting three memorials to the memory of officers and men of the Royal Navy who were lost at sea. The total cost to the public of the three memorials is not expected to exceed £70,000. The procedure adopted by the Imperial War Graves Commission when placing contracts for the construction of these memorials was that of competition among selected firms. Advertisements were inserted in the public Press inviting applications to be placed on a selected list from firms desirous of tendering, and the contracts were placed by competition among the firms so selected. The execution of a certain part, however, of these memorials, consisting of work to be carried out in bronze, was offered for tender to firms nominated by the eminent architect responsible for the design, the Commis- sion, after full consideration, accepting the architect's advice that the work was of an artistic nature which necessitated this procedure.

    Potato Prices

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the wholesale price of potatoes paid to farmers has varied during the last few years from 17s. to £14 per ton; and, if so, whether he will consider the advisability of fixing the prices at a uniform average rate or to adopt some method in order to avoid these extreme fluctuations in price?

    I am aware that the prices received by farmers for their potatoes have varied considerably during the past few years, but I would remind the hon. Member that the highest prices were due to abnormal causes arising out of the War, while the present low prices are due to an unusually abundant crop this year. With regard to the last part of the question I think it is generally agreed that it would be undesirable to revert to the system of Government control of prices.

    Iraq Railways (Oil Fuel Supplies)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies why public tenders were not invited for the supply of oil fuel for the railways in Iraq; and whether any effort whatever has been made to secure supplies from any other quarter before deciding that no further reduction can be expected?

    The negotiations for the supply of oil fuel for the Iraq railways have been conducted in Bagdad, though His Majesty's Government have been able to arrange for a reduction in the price recently by action in London. The High Commissioner will be asked to report whether any alternative source of supply has been considered or is available.

    Empire Settlementm (Australian Delegation)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the terms of reference of the Commission being sent out to Australia by the Overseas Settlement Department if it will visit each State, and when it is expected to return?

    The Delegation is visiting Australia at the invitation of the Commonwealth Government to examine the working of the schemes of settlement already in force, or in contemplation, and the arrangements which have been made for the reception and absorption of the settlers. They will also consider what lines of development afford the best hope of progress, having regard to the different classes of settlers and their general welfare and prospects in the future. The Delegation will confer with the Australian authorities as to the best means of carrying out the common objects in view, and will endeavour to collect as full and authoritative information as possible on all present and future aspects of the settlement problem. The itinerary of the Delegation will be settled in consultation with the Australian authorities after arrival in Australia. At present I am unable to state definitely when they may be expected to return.