House Of Commons
Thursday, 3rd May, 1923.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
PRIVATE BILLS [ Lords] (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 Bill, originating in the Lords, and referred on the First Reading thereof, the Standing Orders not previously inquired into which are applicable thereto have been complied with, namely:
Smethwick Corporation (Gas) Bill [ Lords].
Bill to be read a Second time.
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 Bills, referred on the First Reading thereof, the Standing Orders which are applicable thereto have been complied with, namely:
- Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill.
- Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 4) Bill.
- Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Frimley and Farnborough District Water Company) Bill.
- Bradford Corporation (Trolley Vehicles) Provisional Order (No. 1) Bill.
Bills to be read a second time To-morrow.
Private Bill Petitions (Standing Orders not 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 Petition for the following Bill, the Standing Orders have not been complied with, namely:
Seaham Harbour Dock.
Report referred to the Select Committee on Standing Orders.
Runcorn District Water Board Bill [ Lords]—( King's Consent signified),
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
Bank of England Bill (by Order),
As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.
Oral Answers To Questions
War Pensions Acts (Amendment) Bill
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is in agreement with the object of the War Pensions Acts (Amendment) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. F. O. Roberts); and whether the Government intend to give facilities for its passage into law during the present Session?
My view of the actual proposals contained in this Bill is given in my reply to the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. A. J. Bennett) on the 19th April. With regard to the latter part of the question, I can add nothing to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Bromwich on the 16th April by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
When is the right hon. Gentleman likely to make a statement to the House on this important question?
I hope, if the Opposition consider there is anything wrong with the administration of pensions, they will take the opportunity of saying so in Debate, and I shall be glad of the opportunity of replying. The whole principle of this Bill can be secured by administration.
If you get the "bag" will you take it?
Will not the right hon. Gentleman kindly communicate with those who want to help him in administering the principle embodied in that Bill and tell us how we can do it?
Am I to understand that the principle embodied in the Bill, namely, that all incapacity is to be considered as attributable to War service, unless the contrary is proved, is one which the right hon. Gentleman accepts and says he can carry nut by administration?
No Government could possibly accept that principle, and no Government could administer such a Bill.
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
asked the Minister of Pensions whether statistical returns are regularly prepared by chief area officers and forwarded to the Ministry; whether these officers are aware of the number of men in their areas under treatment; and, if so, will he state the nature of the difficulty which prevents them from giving the number of such cases that are those of pensioners who have been notified of final awards?
The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. I am considering whether by an adaptation of the standard form of return the particulars to which the hon. Member refers can be made readily available in future.
asked the Minister of Pensions what was the number of whole-time and part-time sub-offices closed in the county of Durham during the 12 months ending 31st December, 1922; whether he is aware that the regional advisory council was informed at the time they were considering the reorganisation proposals that sub-offices necessary for the convenience of pensioners would be retained; and what facilities exist at the present time in the colliery and rural villages situate some miles from the area offices for pensioners requiring treatment or desiring to submit claims for consideration.
When the new organisation was introduced last May there were in the county of Durham 19 sub-offices and 32 part-time pay stations. An extension of the postal draft system of payment enabled the pay stations to be dispensed with, and the sub-offices were gradually closed down where the volume of the work no longer justified their retention, until the present organisation, consisting of eight area offices, two whole-time sub-offices, and seven part-time sub-offices, was arrived at. These arrangements, with the assistance of voluntary workers, of whom there are already 280, have been found to meet all reasonable requirements of pensioners in the district.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the difficulties in the way of pensioners desiring to submit claims, because of the distances involved and the lack of travelling facilities and will he consider the last part of my question?
I shall be happy to consider any case where the hon. Member can show me that difficulties have arisen in the working of the new system, as we are anxious to watch how it goes and make any improvement which may prove to be necessary.
asked the Minister of Pensions the number of widows who have been refused pensions on the ground that the marriage had taken place after the pensioner had left the Army?
No separate record is kept of these cases; nor would such a record be of any value, as it would only indicate the extent to which claimants were unaware of the express provisions of the Royal Warrant.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hundreds of these women have had to resort to the Poor Law; and does he not think it time the Royal Warrant was amended to make provision for them?
The Ministry is, by the action of the House, limited to compensation for anything which arises out of the War, and I am not prepared to make such an alteration as the hon. Member suggests.
asked the Minister of Pensions how many applications for widows' pensions were made in the 12 months ending 31st March 1923; and how many were refused owing to the death of the pensioner not being accepted as due to a disability incurred on war service, or owing to the pensioner dying more than seven years after the first removal from duty?
During the period stated 9,725 applications for widows' pension were considered by the Department, and in 4,540 cases full pension was granted under Article 11, while of the cases which had to be rejected, on various grounds, under that Article, 340 were found to be eligible for a smaller pension under some other provision of the Warrant.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the hon. Member's question. How many were refused because of the death, due to disability, occurring seven years after removal from duty?
I do not think that is asked for separately in the question, but we can give that answer if it be asked for specifically.
asked the Minister of Pensions how many confidential instructions have been issued by the Secretariat of the Ministry; whether any of them amend and alter the interpretation of the clauses of Royal Warrants and Ministry regulations; whether these instructions before being issued are submitted for consideration to the Central Advisory Committee; and whether, as the Minister responsible to Parliament for carrying out the provisions of the Royal Warrants, he will in future lay instructions upon the Table of the House before they are issued?
I do not know what particular instructions the hon. Member has in view. In accordance with the customary practice of all public Departments, instructions to subordinate officers are issued on my behalf, as from time to time may be found necessary, on all branches of the work of my Department. No instruction affecting the existing interpretation of the Royal Warrants is issued without my concurrence, and it has been my policy and that of my predecessor to seek the advice of the Advisory Committee freely on proposals of sufficient magnitude or difficulty. I could not accept the suggestion in the last part of the question, which would be impracticable.
Is it a fact that the instructions so issued have in any way altered the interpretation previosuly put upon the Clauses of the Royal Warrant and the Regulations?
I must have notice of any particular point the hon. Member wishes to raise, but I wish to make it perfectly clear that no instructions have been issued in any way to prejudice the decisions of the medical boards as against the men.
That is not an answer to my question, of which I gave notice, and which appears on the Paper. Do any of these confidential instructions, in fact, alter the interpretation of the Clauses of the Royal Warrant and the Ministry's Regulations? I submit I should have an answer to that question.
It is quite clear that we are governed by the Warrant and we carry out the Warrant.
Home Treatment Cases (Gateshead)
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that there are a number of men in the Borough of Gateshead who are in receipt of home treatment without allowances; that most of them are totally incapacitated and unable to work; that their pensions, often only 8s. a week, are insufficient to live upon; and whether he will either give instructions that these men shall receive full treatment allowances or arrange for them to be boarded so that their degree of assessment will afford fuller compensation for periods of sickness than is the case at present?
In the absence of information as to the cases which the hon. Member has in view, I am unable to say what can be done; but if he will furnish particulars they shall be fully inquired into.
Bronchitis And Asthma Cases
asked the Minister of Pensions what provision is made in the case of men suffering from bronchitis and/or asthma who appeal on the grounds that they are under-assessed; and whether men suffering from these disabilities, on home treatment without allowances, can have the same privilege extended to them as is given to the men on in-patient treatment with allowances, i.e., that they may be reboarded when ill and not, as at present, have to wait until they have recovered from the attack of sickness that incapacitates them from work before the appeal to the Medical Appeal Board is considered?
The right of application for reconsideration of a conditional assessment applies equally to all disabilities and the instructions do not, as the hon. Member appears to think, preclude applications of this nature being dealt with when the man is undergoing home treatment without allowances.
asked the Minister of Pensions in how many cases an increase in the current rate of pension has been made when a final award was given in a four-year case; and what reduction in the expenditure for pensions it is estimated will occur as a result of the granting of final weekly allowances in lieu of conditional pensions and the issue of a final award at a lower percentage than that current when the pensioner was before the Board for final award?
In some 4,000 cases the final award has been at a higher rate than the previous conditional award. The amount of the payment is, and always has been, decided by the extent of the disablement. I am unable to estimate that any decrease in the expenditure on pensions (as distinct from administration) will arise from making final awards.
Will the Minister kindly answer the third paragraph in the question, regarding the reduction of pensions and number which have been reduced?
I went carefully through the hon. and gallant Member's question, and I think I have answered it fully. He is mistaken in thinking that making final awards involves economy, except in administration.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the hardship inflicted in many cases by his refusal to continue to their dependants the issue of pensions granted to ex-service men for disabilities incurred during war service when their subsequent death happens to occur more than seven years after the date of the casualty responsible for their disability; and will he take steps to amend the Royal Warrant so that such pensions may be continued?
I am not quite clear what the hon. Member has in mind, but I may point out that I have no authority in any circumstances to continue pensions awarded to disabled to their dependants.
asked the Minister of Pensions what was the total number of educational grants made by the Special Grants Committee in the 12 months ending 31st March, 1923; what was the number of cases in which grants were renewed and how many current grants were cancelled; what was the number of new applications for educational grants recommended by the War Pensions Committee, and in how many cases were grants made; whether he is aware that grave dissatisfaction exists among members of war pensions committees at the refusal of grants for the education of the orphan children of deceased ex-service men; and whether he will take action to ensure that applications for educational grants receive sympathetic consideration?
During the period mentioned the number of new educational grants made for the children of non-commissioned officers and men was 1,622, the number renewed was 4,724, while 457 were withdrawn. About 3,500 new applications were received, but I am afraid that without considerable research I could not say how many of these were recommended by the War Pensions Committee. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that applications of this nature are given full and sympathetic consideration.
Trainee (W E Piston Hughes)
asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been called to the case of W. E. Picton Hughes, of the Factory House, Llandovery, a trainee at the Prince of Wales' convalescent centre, Barry, who, on the 29th March last, was given leave to visit his family, and who has been refused readmission to the convalescent centre owing to an outbreak of scarlet fever in his home; is he aware that the treatment allowance has been suspended and that the family have no means of subsistence; and whether, in view of the fact that the man is prevented from returning to the convalescent home by circumstances over which he has no control, steps will be taken to pay the home treatment allowance during the man's enforced detention at home?
I am having the circumstances of this case inquired into and will communicate with the hon. Member.
asked the President of the Board of Education the number of students who have left training colleges for teachers since the summer of 1922; what proportion of this number is made up of ex-service men who have undergone intensive training; and how many of these men who have undergone intensive training have obtained employment as certificated teachers?
The number of students who finished their courses at training colleges of all descriptions after the end of the session 1921–22 is 980. The total number of ex-service men who have left the special training colleges conducted by the Ministry of Labour is 915, but this figure includes 150 who left before the end of the session 1921–22. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour tells me that 585 of these men are known to be employed as teachers and 495 are fully certificated. I should add that 300 of the ex-service students in question did not complete their course until February and April this year.
Land Settlement (Scotland)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether there is a system under which Government grants are made to ex-soldiers to assist them to purchase their own homes; and if, in that case, he can state what this system is and the extent to which recourse is being made to it by ex-service men?
I am not quite clear what system the hon. Member has in mind. Unless he is thinking of the land settlement schemes—as to which he will be able to obtain information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Board of Agriculture for Scotland—I am not aware of any system of the nature described.
Ex-Temporary Civil Servants
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been drawn to the great difficulty experienced by ex-service men, temporary civil servants, who are discharged as redundant, in obtaining other employment; whether representations have been made by the association representing these men that, in view of the fact that the nature of their work in the Civil Service does not qualify them for posts in civil employment, and that there is a prejudice in commercial circles against employing them as clerks, they should be given a month's pay for each year's service where the officer discharged as redundant has been at least four years in the Civil Service; and whether action will be taken to give the ex-service men and women discharged as redundant a gratuity on discharge if they have completed four years or more satisfactory service as temporary civil servants?
It is largely in view of the difficulty of obtaining private employment in present circumstances that a special body has been set up with the duty of seeing that, where ever possible, alternative employment in other Government Departments is offered to ex-service men who have been engaged in temporary capacies in a Department in which their services are no longer required. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. The Treasury have no power to grant retiring gratuities in these cases.
Seeing that female telegraphists and other women civil servants are granted a gratuity upon leaving the Service, could not the Department reconsider the matter with a view to extending the same principle to ex-service men and women when they leave the Service on redundancy?
I have already said that we have no power in this matter.
Ministry Of Pensions
asked the Minister of Pensions whether the late regional director of the Northern Region was transferred to the South-Western Region at his own request; whether his removal expenses were paid; whether the present regional director, Northern Region, was transferred from Nottingham to Newcastle to fill the vacancy, as the regional headquarters at Nottingham were being closed; whether his removal expenses have been, or will be, paid; and, if so, will he state why the lower grade clerical staff cannot receive the same privileges on transfer as regional directors with a salary of £875 per annum, who have, in addition, service pensions?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative and that to the second part in the affirmative. When the transfer of a particular officer to a new station is necessitated by the public interest, removal expenses may be paid. This rule applies to all ranks, permanent or temporary.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the position of the clerks who are redundant at Nottingham, in view of the fact that their salaries are only £3 per week and it is well nigh impossible for them to take up appointments in Birmingham unless assisted by the payment of removal expenses?
I am afraid I cannot give any undertaking such as the hon. Member asks for. If any of them are removed by our wish, as being essential for our requirements, then it will be open to them to claim payment.
Was not a promise given that the redundant servants at Nottingham would be allotted to vacancies at Birmingham; and if these vacancies are offered and accepted and the removal takes place, will not the Department consider the payment of the removal expenses, as they do in the case of the higher paid permanent officials?
It is not a case of whether they are higher paid or not. When we send a man, whatever his rank, from one place to another, by our orders his removal expenses are paid—not otherwise.
If in consequence of the removal of the Department from Nottingham to Birmingham, these men take vacancies in Birmingham, whether at the request of the Department or not, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to pay removal expenses?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the higher officials who got removal expenses has £900 a year in addition to £1,000 pension?
I am not prepared to go beyond what I have said.
Does it not appear that it is a farce to say you will find vacancies for £3 a week clerks if you make it impossible for them to accept the vacancies?
asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in the case of discharges of temporary officers on the ground of redundancy, priority of retention is accorded as follows: disabled ex-service men, overseas ex-service men, other ex-service men, and non-service men; whether the non-service men in his Department are mainly permanent civil servants; and whether, before discharging a temporary ex-service man as redundant, he will consider the question of reverting a permanent civil servant, non-service, to the Department whence he was transferred to the Ministry of Pensions?
Subject to the overriding consideration of efficiency, the answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The suggestion made in the concluding paragraph is impracticable; the permanent posts formerly held by these officers have naturally been filled. In any case, their reversion would not be in the public interests, nor would it add to the total number of ex-service men in the employ of the State.
asked the Minister of Pensions what is the name and salary of the principal officer in each region; whether some of these officers are permanent civil servants and some temporary civil servants; and whether, seeing that, though performing duties of equal importance and responsibility, the
|Region.||Name of Principal Officer.||Salary.|
|London||…||Lieut.-General Sir W. Furse, K.C.B., D.S.O.||…||…||975|
|Scotland||…||Lieut.-Colonel H. L. Warden, D.S.O.||…||…||975|
|Northern||…||Major-General F. H. Kelly, C.B., C.M.G.||…||…||875|
|North-Western||…||Lieut.-Colonel C. H. Townsend||…||…||900|
|Yorkshire||…||Dr. F. G. M. Simpson (Acting)||…||…||1,300*|
|Wales||…||Lieut.-Colonel Bickerton Edwards, C.B.E.||…||…||1,300*|
|West Midlands||Lieut.-Colonel E. V. Sydenham, D.S.O.||…||…||900|
|South-Western||…||Captain H. G. Alston, C.B., R.N.||…||…||875|
|Ulster||…||Dr. A. E. Knight, D.S.O., M.C.||…||…||1,200*|
|Ireland (South)||…||C. A. Pim||…||…||875|
* Also holds the post of Commissioner of Medical Services.
All those officers are temporary civil servants and the latter part of the question does not, therefore, arise.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if any of the various Committees which are being set up will be able to inquire into the desirability of modifying or retaining the present pensionable age of the various classes of public servants; and whether, seeing that considerations have arisen since those ages were originally fixed which may modify their retention, he will, in the interests of the general taxpayer, consider in any case the desirability of such investigation?
A Special Committee of the National Whitley Council for the Civil Service has been set up to deal with questions of superannuation. It would be open to that Committee to examine the particular question referred to in the hon. Member's question.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in the arrangement between the Treasury and the Corps of Commissionaires
temporary civil servants receive less salary than the permanent civil servant, he will state what is the reason for the differentiation in salary?
As the answer is a lengthy one, I am circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
neither the British Museum nor its trustees are mentioned; that copies of this arrangement were given to the men employed in the Museum in January, 1921, some time after application had been made to the Civil Service Arbitration Board for their case to be again put on the list; whether he is aware that the men's case was prejudiced by being withdrawn from arbitration in December, 1920, after it had been waiting since July of that year, and, being dealt with in 1921, no award was given until March, 1922; and whether, in view of all the circumstances, and also of the fact that the trustees of the British Museum have not applied to the men the provisions of the Treasury letter of January, 1921, under which the weekly wage staffs were to be given a 48-hour week, he will reconsider the decision not to grade these men?
As stated in answer to previous questions, no arrangement exists between the Treasury and the Corps of Commissionaires in regard to the commissionaires in the British Museum. Any postponement in the presentation of the commissionaires' case to the Civil Service Arbitration Board was due to the commissionaires' own action, and there is no reason to suppose that their case was prejudiced thereby. On the contrary, they benefited, inasmuch as they received an improvement in their rate of remuneration in the intervening period, and were relieved of certain payments to the Corps of Commissionaires for which they had been previously liable. The question of grading has already been fully considered, and I am not aware that the decision reached on this point, is in any way affected by the hours worked by the commissionaires.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the average deduction made in the wages of the 4,667 persons receiving not more than £3 per week employed at the Inland Revenue Office since the last increment was granted?
I regret that it is impossible to calculate the suggested average figures without undue expenditure of time and labour. A wage of £3 8s. 4d. a year ago is now represented by £3, as the result of the revision by reference to cost of living, to which the remuneration of all civil servants is subject.
Royal, Irish Constabulary Force Fund
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the Vice-Regal Commission on the Reorganisation and Pay of the Irish Police Forces, the Chairman of which was the right hon. Sir John Ross, one of the judges of the High Court of Justice in Ireland, unanimously recommended, in December, 1919, that the Royal Irish Constabulary Force Fund (Benefit Branch) should be wound up as soon as possible; and whether, in view of the fact that there have been no entrants into this fund since 1883 and that the Royal Irish Constabulary has now been disbanded, he will consider the advisability of giving effect without further delay to the above recommendation of the Vice-Regal Commission?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to a question on this subject addressed to him on the 19th February last by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast South (Mr. Moles), of which I am sending him a copy.
Will my hon. Friend reconsider this question, as the conditions are constantly changing, and there is now a large surplus in this Fund?
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that all the ex-Royal Irish Constabulary men in this country are anxious that this Fund should be wound up?
I will convey those questions to my right hon. Friend.
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the statement made by Thomas McGlynn, who was deported to Ireland and subsequently released, to the effect that his release was in no way due to reasons of ill-health, and that he gave no undertaking not to involve himself in future activities against the Irish Free State, as he has never previously taken action hostile to the Free State; and whether he will make further inquiry into the reason of McGlynn's release?
I would refer to the reply given to a similar question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for the Central Division of Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 26th ultimo.
asked the Home Secretary in what place in His Majesty's Dominions Joseph Sweeney, of 378, Windmill Hill, Motherwell, deported to Ireland on or about 10th March last, is at present lodged; and whether he can give any indication as to when this man will be permitted to return to the land of his birth and to his own home?
Joseph Sweeney is at present interned in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman give any indication when these people, who were deported many months ago, are going to have any trial, or whether they are going to have any justice meted out to them at all?
Police Pensions (W Huckle, Newmarket)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Police Constable William Huckle, of Newmarket, was ordered to hand in his uniform on 1st April, 1919; and whether, seeing that this constable was consequently on duty subsequent to 31st March, 1919, and could have been called upon to perform duties during the early hours of 1st April, 1919, he will be held entitled to a pension on the higher scale, which is payable to all who were discharged subsequent to 31st March, 1919?
I am informed that ex-Police Constable Huckle ceased duty at 10.30 p.m. on 31st March, 1919, and his journal for that day contains the entry, "Retired after 33 years 2 months 9 days' service." He was not on duty on 1st April and was not regarded as available for duty on that day. In these circumstances, my right hon. Friend sees no ground for the suggestion that Police Constable Hackle is entitled to reassessment of his pension on the higher scale.
Will the hon. Member ask the Home Secretary to look into this matter further, in order to see whether this man, who had to parade on 1st April in accordance with the orders and instructions given to him, was not, as the ordinary man would believe, carrying out his duties, and, therefore, on duty and, if so, is he not entitled to the increased pension?
Is it not a fact that the conveyance of a uniform after a man has completed his tour of duty is regarded as additional duty, so much so that, in the Metropolitan Police, for which the hon. Gentleman's Department is directly responsible, there is an instruction that a man must hand in his uniform before he completes his tour of duty; and is he aware that, in a recent High Court decision against the Standing Joint Committee of Gloucestershire, it was held that a man who was on duty for only half-an-hour after he had completed his time for pension was actually entitled to the increased pension?
In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn (Sir J. Remnant), I will convey what he says to the Home Secretary, but I understand that this man was not told to parade on let April.
I have seen the instruction to him to do so.
In reply to the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Hayes), I understand that this officer did not attend to hand in his uniform on 1st April, but that the articles of clothing were handed in by another officer.
He took them himself.
asked the Home Secretary whether he can give the number of deaths for the year 1922 in which the cause of death was not, or could not, be certified?
The number of uncertified deaths in the year in question was 5,487.
asked the Home Secretary who will adopt Doris Hawker (Doreen Hawkes) upon her return to England?
I am informed that the girl is returning to her mother.
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that, arising out of the Corn Sales Act, 1921, men engaged carrying sacks of corn to and from lighters, ships and warehouses are carrying weights up to 18 and 20 stones all day long, and in some cases for several days together, resulting in damage to their physique, accidents and sometimes loss of life; and whether any steps can be taken to ameliorate the conditions of labour of these workmen?
No complaints on this subject have been received at the Home Office, and, so far as London is concerned, it would appear from inquiries made by the Factory Department that the weight of the sack does not generally exceed 16 stones, which is regarded by the men as reasonable, and that there has been no recent alteration in the practice. If, however, the hon. Member will furnish me with the information on which his question is based, I shall be glad to have the matter further investigated.
Maintenance Order Applications (Identification)
asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been called to a case in which a man was charged with being the father of an illegitimate child, but was discharged at once owing to the plaintiff immediately stating that he was not the man against whom she wished the charge to be made; and whether he will consider the possibility of devising a method of preliminary identification which will prevent an innocent man being subjected to a humiliating ordeal in an open court when his innocence could at once have been proved without any appearance in a public court?
My right hon. Friend cannot think of any means of precluding absolutely the possibility of such an incident as this. I would point out that proceedings for determining the paternity of an illegitimate child and making the father liable for its maintenance are not criminal proceedings, but are taken on complaint by the child's mother.
Imprisonment For Debt
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that expert opinion is in favour of the reform of the law regarding imprisonment for debt; and whether he will consider the introduction of other methods of dealing with this offence?
I am aware that the law on the subject has been criticised. My right hon. Friend could not propose legislation.
Football Cup Tie
30, 31 and 32.
asked the Home Secretary (1) whether the Metropolitan Police, when accepting duty on premises to which the public have not access, such as Wembley Park and other places, accept responsibility for the preservation of order; if so, whether they decide the strength of the force required and make provision for available reserves;(2) whether he will institute an inquiry, in the interests of the Metropolitan Police, into the arrangements made in connection with the final of the English Cup at Wembley, the failure to make reasonable provision for the safety of spectators, and the inability to cope with the serious and dangerous situation which arose as a result; (3) whether he will take steps to prevent the user of the Stadium at Wembley Park for any large gathering till such time as the entrances and exits to and from the structures and ground have been replanned and rebuilt to make them reasonably safe for the public; and whether he will consider the advisability of initiating legislation requiring all grounds and buildings to which the public are invited in large numbers to be licensed only after the appropriate licensing authority has satisfied itself as to the proper planning and construction of the premises for the purposes proposed, and under conditions and regulations requiring good management and control?
As regards the first, two questions, I can add nothing to the answer given by my right hon. Friend yesterday. As regards the third question, if some form of Committee is appointed to consider the question in all its aspects, the adequacy of existing powers in relation to grounds and buildings of the kind would be one of the matters for inquiry.
Will the hon. Gentleman also include in the scope of the inquiry some of the football fields around Oxford?
Lunacy (Married Persons)
asked the Home Secretary how many married persons are at present detained in lunatic asylums in England and Wales; how many of these have been certified for more than five years; whether the Government intend to promote legislation to carry into effect the recommendations of the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce; and is he aware that the late Home Secretary in July, 1921, promised to give the information now asked for to the House?
I am informed by the Board of Control that information was collected by them in 1921, and it was found that on the 1st January of that year there were under care in institutions for the insane in England and Wales (excluding Broadmoor), 14,058 males and 19,292 females, who were described as married; and that of these 7,121 males and 10,801 females had been certified more than five years. There are no later figures available. It is not the intention of the Government to promote legislation on the subject this Session.
Chairmen Of Guardians (Justices Of The Peace)
asked the Home Secretary whether his consultation with the Lord Chancellor and the Minister of Health has taken place with reference to the question of appointing the chairman of a board of guardians as justice of the peace by virtue of and for the period of his office; and, if so, whether any decision has been arrived at?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 18th April by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General to a question asked by the hon. Member for the Bodmin Division (Mr. Foot).
Heavy Motor Traffic
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that in certain counties a campaign exists against those using the roads for heavy motor traffic, taking the form of frequent prosecutions and heavy fines, with a view to directing this traffic to other roads in other counties; and whether he will institute an inquiry into the matter?
I have been asked to answer this question. There is no evidence in my possession to support the assertion in the first part of the hon. Member's question, and I do not think it necessary to institute any formal inquiry into the matter.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider the matter further if I send him evidence which has reached me?
If the hon. Member will send me any information, I shall be glad to consider it.
Shoplifting Conviction (Brixton)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Marie Dickenson, aged 82, was sentenced at Brixton last week to three months' imprisonment for shoplifting; and whether, in view of her age, he will recommend her discharge on probation, or, alternatively, make arrangements for her period of detention to be served in some place other than a convict prison?
This woman was convicted at Lambeth Police Court after very many previous convictions of similar offences. She is serving her sentence at Holloway Prison. My right hon. Friend could not recommend her release on probation. The experiment of merely binding her over has been tried more than once. On one such occasion, in 1919, she was convicted again in less than a month.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on the same day that this old lady of 82 was sent to prison for three months, at the London Sessions, a wealthy lady 20 years younger was charged on three separate counts with shoplifting and was bound over?
I have not any particulars here of such a case.
asked the Home Secretary whether it is his practice to issue warrants authorising the Postmaster-General to open specified letters, or whether he issues a warrant authorising the opening of all letters addressed to certain individuals; and how long the present practice has been in vogue?
Warrants are issued in respect of specified letters or of all letters addressed to a specified individual, according as circumstances may require. The present practice has been in vogue for many years.
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the practice of issuing warrants for the opening of all letters addressed to one individual has been in vogue for a long time, and, if so, for how many years?
I am afraid I cannot say for how many years, but that particular practice has been in vogue for a great number of years.
Is it not a fact that that practice was introduced in 1914 and never existed before then?
My information is that it has been the practice for a great many years; I can find out how many years if the hon. Member puts down a question.
Do the Post Office open letters without a warrant from the Home Office?
Who specifies the opening of these letters?
A warrant has always to be obtained from the Home Office.
Deed Stamping (Penalties)
asked the Home Secretary whether any penalties have been paid after stamping of deeds in England since 1917; and, if so, will he give the amount for each year and the amount remitted or returned?
I have been asked to reply to this question. Particulars of the amounts paid as penalties on after stamping are given in the annual reports of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. The amounts for the years 1921–22 and 1922–23 are £8,756 and £16,690 respectively. I am unable to give the amount by which the full penalties legally exigible exceed the amounts paid.
Stoke Park Industrial School, Bristol
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to complaints regarding the treatment of girls in Stoke Park Industrial School, Stapleton, Bristol; whether he is aware that Edith Mansfield, who was sent to this school at 11 years of age to be detained until she reached the age of 16, is still confined there at the age of 22; that Dora Thorp was sent to this school at the age of 12 and is still there in her twenty-fourth year; and whether he will make inquiries as to the reason for the detention of these girls, and any others in a like position, beyond the period specified at the time of their entry into the school?
Both these girls were committed by order of a Court to industrial schools until they reached the age of 16. The former was certified to be mentally defective, and transferred to the Stoke Park Colony, under Section 9 of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913. The latter was not found fit for discharge on the expiry of her sentence, as her mental condition was reported to be that of a child of 11, and her home offered no proper means of supervision. I understand that the guardians who accepted responsibility for her maintenance decided that in the girl's own interest she needed further care and training at the Stoke Park Colony. In neither case has my right hon. Friend any further jurisdiction, but he is bringing the hon. Member's question to the notice of the Minister of Health.
Can the hon. Gentleman say at what period during their detention mental deficiency was first detected?
I rather think the age was 16 years, but I would prefer a question to be put down about that.
Accused Persons (Coroner's Warrant)
asked the Home Secretary whether he will grant a judicial inquiry into the apparently conflicting functions of coroners and magistrates with reference to the preliminary investigation into cases of homicide and into the necessity for such a change in the administration of the law as will protect accused persons who are acquitted by the magistrates from having to await trial at the assizes on a coroner's warrant?
The questions involved will be considered before any general Amendment of the law as to coroner's inquests is proposed.
Will the hon. Gentleman also answer Question 97, as it is correlated to this question?
Elementary Schools (Statistics)
asked the President of the Board of Education how many children attended free elementary schools, and the numbers of teachers employed in these schools, at 31st March, 1914 and 1922, respectively?
As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following are the figures referred to:
England and Wales.
Public elementary schools (including schools recognised under Section 25 of the Education Act, 1921, formerly Section 15 of the Education Act, 1902):
|Total number on the Registers.||Total numbeer of teachers (all grades).|
In 1913–14 there were 143,296 fee-paying pupils (included in the figure above), while in 1921–22 no fees were charged.
It would not be possible for me without disproportionate labour to state separately the number of teachers employed in fee-paying public elementary schools in 1913–14.
Local Authorities (Loans)
asked the President of the Board of Education the amount of loans raised for purposes of elementary education by the education authorities of England and Wales for the years 1919, 1920 and 1921?
With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following are the figures:
Loans raised by Local Education Authorities in England and Wales for purposes of elementary education:
The figures for 1921–22 are not yet complete.
Certificated Teachers (Marriage Disqualification)
asked the President of the Board of Education if there are any statistics available showing the number of local authorities who make marriage a disqualification for employment as certificated teachers?
I regret that I possess no official statistics on this point.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very important law case on this point in London at the present time between the London County Council and the teachers?
asked the President of the Board of Education if there are any statistics available showing the number of certificated teachers who are employed at the rate of pay of uncertificated teachers?
I regret that I do not possess the information asked for.
Is the President of the Board of Education aware that there has been an increase in the number of certificated teachers who are being employed at uncertificated rates of pay, and is that the general tendency throughout the country?
No, I do not think so, but am not possession of sufficient information to say definitely.
Will the right hon. Gentleman get that information and make it available to the House.
I cannot do that without imposing elaborate labour on the local authorities.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the question could be put to the local authorities and they could give the answer immediately?
Munitions (Private Manufacture)
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government of the United States has made any suggestion to His Majesty's Government in regard to possible international procedure for controlling the private manufacture of and traffic in arms and munitions of war; and if His Majesty's Government will give favourable consideration to any suggestions of the kind which may at any time be put forward by the Government of the United States?
No such suggestion has been made by the United States Government. As to the future, it would be contrary to the traditional practice to answer hypothetical questions.
Is it not a fact that the real difficulty in checking this traffic is that the United States Government will not adhere to the Convention of St. Germains, and will not His Majesty's Government make representations to the United States that they should do so?
Sir Percy Cox's Announcement
asked the Prime Minister whether Sir Percy Cox, on leaving Iraq, has been authorised to make any further announcement of policy; if so, what; and whether such policy has been discussed with, and agreed by, King Feisal and the Arab Government?
asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government have received an authentic report of a speech delivered by Sir Percy Cox on his return to Bagdad; and whether he had authority for saying that the British would no doubt remain in Iraq for many years, until Iraq could stand alone, or that perhaps in four years' time British responsibility in that country would end?
The answer to the first part of the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir T. Bennett) is that I have received no such Report.An announcement has been made to-day by Sir Percy Cox in Bagdad, with the authority of His Majesty's Government, and with the full approval of King Feisal and his Government. The announcement was as follows:
"It will be remembered that in the autumn of last year after a lengthy exchange of views, it was decided between the Governments of His Britannic Majesty and His Majesty King Feisal that a Treaty of Alliance should be entered into between His Britannic Majesty and His Majesty the King of Iraq. This Treaty, which was signed on the 10th October, 1922, and the term of which was to be 20 years (subject to periodical revision at the desire of either party) provided for the establishment of an independent constitutional Government in Iraq, enjoying a certain measure of advice and assistance from Great Britain of the nature and extent indicated in the text of the Treaty itself and of subsidiary Agreements which were to be made there-under.
"Since then the Iraq Government has made great strides along the path of independent and stable existence, and has been able successfully to assume administrative responsibility, and both parties being equally anxious that the commitments and responsibilities of His Majesty's Government in respect of Iraq should be terminated as soon as possible, it is considered that the period of the Treaty in its present form can conveniently be shortened. In order to obviate the inconvenience of introducing Amendments into the body of a Treaty already signed, it has been decided to bring about the necessary modifications by means of a protocol which, like the Treaty itself, will be subject to ratification by the Constituent Assembly.
"Accordingly a protocol has now been signed by the parties in the following terms:—
'It is understood between the High Contracting Parties that, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 18, the present Treaty shall terminate upon Iraq becoming a member of the League of Nations, and in any case not later than four years from the ratification of peace with Turkey. Nothing in this Protocol shall prevent a fresh agreement from being concluded with a view to regulate the subsequent relations between the High Contracting Parties; and negotiations for that object shall be entered into between them before the expiration of the above period.'
"It will be noticed that under this protocol the Treaty in its present form is to terminate on the entry of Iraq into the League of Nations, or in four years, whichever may be earlier.
"The position of Oraq as regards the League is that when the Treaty has been ratified, His Britannic Majesty will be bound under Article 6 to use his good offices to secure the admission of Iraq to membership of the League of Nations as soon as possible. His Majesty's Government will be in a position to take this step on the fulfilment of the two following essential conditions, namely, the delimitation of the frontiers of Iraq and the establishment of a stable Government in accordance with the Organic Law.
The effect of these arrangements is that, if the conditions are fulfilled, His Majesty's Government will be in a position to support an application by Iraq for membership of the League of Nations, which implies full and complete independence, at any time within a maximum of four years from the ratification of peace with Turkey. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the deep appreciation of His Majesty's Government for the distinguished and devoted services of Sir Percy Cox and all the officers who have so loyally co-operated with him in circumstances of great difficulty, and in some cases in the past of personal danger. I feel sure that the House will agree that the step which has been taken to-day is a fitting culmination of the great work which Sir Percy Cox has performed during 39 years in the service of the Crown."There is every reason to hope that both these conditions will be fulfilled at no distant date."
Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate the date at which the long-deferred meeting of the Constituent Assembly of Iraq is to take place, at which this Treaty is to be ratified?
I am afraid I could not answer that question without notice, and I think it might be better, in view of the many issues involved, if this matter could be debated in the usual way in the House. That opportunity will arise whenever the Middle Eastern services are taken, for which there will be ample time before Whitsuntide, if the House so desires.
Are we to understand that this Constituent Assembly in Iraq is given the privilege of ratifying this Treaty, when this ancient Parliament is not to have the opportunity of saying "yea" or "nay"?
Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister has announced to the House that the ratification of this House will be invited for this Treaty?
If he announced that, of course, that will be the case.
United States Liquor Law (British Ships)
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information as to the proposed action of the United States executive in consequence of the supreme court decision that liquor may not be brought inside the three-mile limit of territorial waters; and what action the British Government will take if British ships carrying liquor are excluded from American ports?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The second part puts a hypothetical question, which I should not be asked to answer.
Aviation Convention (France And Czechoslovakia)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has yet seen the text of the recently concluded Aviation Convention between France and Czechoslovakia; and can he state what steps are being taken to preserve rights on this market to the British aeroplane manufacturers?
I regret that I am not able to add anything to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member on Thursday last. I have asked to be supplied with a copy of the Convention, but I have not yet received it.
Air Fleets (Great Powers)
asked the Secretary of State for Air what are the relative strengths of the air fleets of Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States of America; what are the number of aeroplanes each of these countries have now in commission and constructing, and what is their personnel; and whether he can state the number of pilots on the fighting strength of each country?
As regards the air services of Great Britain and France, I would refer the hon. Member to the figures which I gave in this House in my speech on the Air Estimates on 14th March and also to my reply on 27th February last to the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone.As regards Italy, the air service is undergoing a process of reorganisation as a result of the recent decision of the Government of that country to establish a unified Air Force, which will absorb the separate air services of the Army and Navy. Consequently, no reliable figures can at present be given. As regards the United States of America, I understand that the number of serviceable aircraft in commission, excluding training machines, is approximately 500, while the number of pilots and observers in the air services is about 1,200. As regards the number of aircraft actually under construction for the various air services, no figures are available for France, Italy, or the United States of America, and it is not in the public interest to give the numbers for this country.
Has the Air Ministry considered the calling of a conference on the same lines as the Washington Conference for limiting armaments with regard to the aeroplane fighting services?
Yes; a proposal of that kind has always been in my mind.
Civil Aviation (Report)
asked the Secretary of State for Air when the next Report on civil aviation will be published?
I hope the Report will be ready for issue in about a month's time.
France And Ruhr District (Customs Duties)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the question of the disposal of the money collected by the French Customs posts in the Ruhr district on British goods entering the occupied territory has yet been settled; and what steps are now being taken by His Majesty's Government to pursue the question?
I have nothing to add to previous replies.
Can the right hon. Gentleman now state what steps are being taken to pursue this question?
The steps are continuing.
Are the steps going forward or backward?
In the direction of the goal, and, when it is reached, I hope to be able to give a more satisfactory answer.
Is any of the money which is taken from British traders coming to the British Exchequer?
I must ask for notice of that question.
Enemy Action (Compensation Claims)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the very great number of genuine applicants for reparation under the fund at the disposal of the Royal Commission for Suffering and Damage by Enemy Action who are unable to get settlement owing to their claims having been lodged after the expiration of the time limit, i.e., 15th February, 1922; and whether he will take steps to meet these belated claims in cases where their genuineness could be proved?
I have been asked to reply. I would refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool on 19th February, of which I am sending the hon. and gallant Member a copy.
In view of the large number of genuine claims which are coming to light every week in this matter, is this question being re-considered?
It does not lie with the Government, but with the Royal Commission, and they have already expressed in their first report the course which they intend to pursue.
Is the Noble Lord aware that there were a great number of people involved in 1916 whose homes were wrecked, who have not only not had their claims settled, but have not even been decided?
Yes, I am aware of that. The Royal Commission decided to investigate the claims made up to a certain date, and there were 29,000 of those claims sent in time. The Commission is now considering other claims.
Is not the Government responsible for fixing the conditions under which these people, injured in the War, are compensated, and is it not a fact that many of these sailors who were travelling abroad at the time did not know about the limitation of the date, and were precluded in that way from making a claim?
The hon. Member will find the terms of reference to the Royal Commission in the Report.
Will the Noble Lord expedite the settlement of these claims, and get on with it?
We are doing all we can.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the failure of the German Government to carry out their Treaty obligations to pay compensation to the victims of air raids in this country, and the fact that the assessments of the Reparation Commission for the damage caused by these air raids have been largely scaled down owing to the sums voted by Parliament for meeting this damage proving insufficient, he will consider the propriety of providing further sums for meeting the admitted claims of the victims of the air raids?
There is no such Treaty obligation as the hon. Member refers to, nor any assessment by the Reparation Commission. Parliament, however, agreed to provide a sum of £5,000,000 to be used as a fund out of which payments can be made to individuals as an act of grace on the part of His Majesty's Government. This is in addition to the insurance scheme which covered the greater number of such cases. Five million pounds was fixed as a final settlement at a time when expectations as to the reparations to be received from Germany were much higher than they are now and I fear I can hold out no prospect of its being increased.
Commercial Motor Vehicles (Import Duty)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether commercial motor vehicles exempted from the payment of Import Duty are liable to periodical inspection to prevent their use by subsequent purchasers for the conveyance of passengers; and whether a register of vehicles and parts imported free of duty is kept for the purpose of such inspection?
The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part of the question a register is kept of commercial vehicles imported free of duty if capable of being put to dutiable use. Motor car parts are only allowed to be imported free of duty if the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are satisfied that they are either incapable of use in a dutiable vehicle, or, if not incapable of such use, are actually used in the manufacture or repair of an exempt vehicle.
Are any steps being taken to check the use of such vehicles on importation?
If my Noble Friend requires exact information, he had better put a question down.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the estimated number of persons liable to Super-tax during the financial year ended 31st March last; and what was the estimated total income of these persons for Super-tax purposes?
Complete figures in respect of the year 1922–23 are not yet available; but it is provisionally anticipated that the total number of persons liable to Super-tax for that year will be about 80,000, with an estimated total income of £470,000,000.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the estimated number of persons with incomes of above £5,000 a year during the financial year ended 31st March last; and what was the estimated total income of these persons?
Statistics for the year 1922–23 will not be available for some months. For the year 1921–22 it is estimated that there were 28,800 persons with incomes exceeding £5,000 with an estimated total income of £367,000,000.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give estimated figures for the financial year ended 31st March last showing the gross income brought under review for Income Tax and Super-tax, the estimated income liable to tax before deduction of personal allowances, etc., and the estimated total net income on which Income Tax was paid?
Final estimates of the income dealt with for Income Tax purposes will not be available for some considerable time, but the following provisional estimates have been made:
|Great Britain and Northern Ireland.|
|Actual income liable to tax before deduction of personal or family allowances and reliefs||2,250,000,000|
|Total taxable income on which tax was paid||1,250,000,000|
Income Tax Assessments
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the dissatisfaction amongst the taxpayers who have received notice of considerable increases in their assessments consequent on the new system of valuation for Income Tax, he will give instructions that the increase is to be limited to 15 per cent.?
My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in thinking that there is a new system of valuation of property for Income Tax purposes. The basis on which the annual values of property are fixed was explained in a reply which I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Richmond. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of that reply, from which he will see that it is neither competent nor necessary for me to issue instructions in the sense indicated in his question.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that houses have been assessed between 40 and 100 per cent. above their ordinary valuation for Income Tax purposes only and not for local rates; and is he also aware that 25 per cent. of the increase of the 40 per cent. was allowed to cover repairs on these houses for which the new owners are asked to pay?
Is it not a fact that this assessment is being used to bring into operation the Inhabited House Duty on poor property which never paid the tax before?
That seems to be a new question, and there are other questions raising the same point.
Can I have an answer to my question?
The hon. and gallant Member is anticipating a later question on the Paper.
I have no connection with any other question.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated amount of increase in the nett assessment, Schedule A (England and Wales), in consequence of the revaluation under the Finance Act of 1922; and what amount of increased revenue based on such increased assessments he has provided for in the Budget Statement for 1923–4?
Final estimates of the increase in the amount of actual income assessed under Schedule A, in consequence of the revaluation will not be available for about two years, but it has been provisionally forecast that the increase for Great Britain will amount to about £25,000,000. My Budget Estimate of Income Tax for 1923–24 was made after full consideration of all the relevant circumstances, including the revaluation, but I am not prepared to make separate estimates of its constituent factors.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether instructions were issued by the Inland Revenue to inspectors of taxes to increase assessments on the revaluation of Schedule A by a percentage; and, if so, what percentages were mentioned in such instructions?
The varying conditions governing different classes of property in different localities preclude the possibility of laying down any percentage of increase which could be of general application, and the Inland Revenue authorities have made no attempt to do so. The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question is therefore in the negative, and the second part does not arise.
Is it not the custom for the Income Tax Department to increase the assessment of cottage property by an equivalent of 40 per cent. of the net rental for Income Tax purposes?
I was not aware of that.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that assessments under the new Schedule A valuation show increases of from 40 to 100 per cent.; and whether, since such increases are inequitable as being based upon a War-time, and therefore transitory and fictitious, value, he will inform the House upon what basis the officials prepared the new assessments?
With regard to the basis on which the revaluation of property is now being made for Income Tax purposes, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I have to-day given to the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Galbraith) on this subject. I would add that Section 32 of the Finance Act of last year, while providing that the Income Tax assessments for 1923–24 are to be based on the annual values as determined for 1922–23, provides also that any person who can show that the annual, value of any property for 1923–24 is less than the annual value so assessed, is entitled to have the assessment reduced to the value for 1923–24. Moreover, in the event of the annual value of any property decreasing during the period for which the valuations now being made may be continued in force, an appropriate reduction in the amount of the Income Tax assessment on such property would, in accordance with the established practice of the District Commissioners of Taxes, be admitted.In the light of what I have stated, it will be seen that the broad objective of the present re-assessment is to secure Income Tax in respect of income from property on the basis of the income actually derived from the property, and I think my hon. Friend will appreciate that there is no ground for the suggestion contained in the second part of his question.
Is right hon. Gentleman aware that answer to which he has referred House has not been given?
The question will probably be put another time.
On a point of Order. Can we have the answer to the question of the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Galbraith)?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred to Question 69, which was not asked. Perhaps he will read the answer?
I am much obliged to the hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to read the answer to No. 69. The question was:
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in many districts in East Surrey the new assessments for Schedule A are on the average from 50 to 100 per cent. over those previously existing; will he say what is the basis upon which the new assessments have been made and, in particular, whether any valuation was made for such purpose; and, if so, when and by whom?
The answer is:
The revaluation for Income Tax purposes which is now proceeding in accordance with the decision reached by Parliament last year, is being made under the old established law which, broadly speaking, provides that the annual value of property is the rack rent at which it is let or is worth to be let by the year. My hon. Friend will appreciate that in these circumstances the assessment is normally governed by the rent actually paid. As regards properties occupied by the owner, it is commonly the case that a fair estimate of the annual value is readily obtainable by reference to the actual rents paid for similar adjacent properties. In cases of special difficulty an expert valuation has been made and placed at the disposal of the Local Commissioners by whom the assessments are made.
Does not the Chancellor think it rather unfair that the assessments should be made at a time of extreme difficulty, when prices are fictitious, and values placed high against those who want places for occupancy?
The short answer to that is that there ought to have been valuations in 1915 and in 1920. It may be that these are times of extreme difficulty, but people for some years have been paying less Income Tax than they ought to have paid.
Can we have the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that these assessments are made after the actual inspection of the property, or are they made on a flat-rate scale by inspectors who have never actually seen the property which they are assessing?
I think I made it plain in my last answer that the assessments are made principally by the local commissioners who, I think, have ample knowledge for the purpose.
Yes, but have they actually inspected the house property?
Munition Factory (Hackney Marshes)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the restoration of the land at present occupied by a munition factory on the Hackney Marshes, especially in view of the advent of summer; and whether, in view of the statement of the chairman of the parks committee of the London County Council with regard to the expenditure incurred by that authority, he will endeavour, as soon as possible, to come to an agreement with this authority and start the work forthwith?
I have caused inquiries to be made of the clerk to the parks committee of the London County Council with regard to the statement said to have been made by the chairman, but have not succeeded in identifying it. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend would be good enough to send me a copy. I am unable at the moment to add anything to the previous answers that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given on this subject, but I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that, so far as the Disposal and Liquidation Commission is concerned, everything possible is being done to hasten a settlement, and I understand that a letter addressed by them to the London County Council on 1st February last is now under active discussion at the Council, to whom several reminders have been sent.
Concrete Ship "Cretepond"
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that one of the concrete ships, the "Cretepond," built for the Government during the War, has been lying on the mud in Cardiff docks for several years, useless, and now unsaleable, with a caretaker on board drawing £5 per week wages; how much this vessel cost to build; how much has been paid, and is due, for dock dues and caretaker's wages; and what steps the Disposal Board took to stop this expenditure?
I have been asked to reply. The concrete barge "Cretepond," which was built for the Government, has been lying in Cardiff docks for several years, as stated in the question. She was abandoned to the underwriters as a constructive total loss, but liability was disputed, and the matter will have to be settled by the Courts. The cost of the vessel is included with that of other vessels built—or partly built and cancelled—and cannot be given separately. £1,615 has been paid in dock dues and £303 for caretaking. £30,000 and expenses are being claimed against the underwriters. All possible steps are being taken to have the case heard in the near future.
Could not the Noble Lord take this £5 per week, and put it to a more useful purpose?
I do not think so much money has been spent, but I have asked for further information. I will write to the hon. Gentleman.
Will the Noble Lord accept my assurance that £5 a week is being paid to the caretaker?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can state the assessable value of the agricultural land of Great Britain; what amount of rates was paid in respect of such land in the last year for which statistics are available by the occupiers: and what amount was paid in relief of rates on agricultural land by the Treasury and by the occupiers of rateable hereditaments, other than agricultural land, respectively?