Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 206: debated on Wednesday 11 May 1927

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

China

Russian Documents (Peking)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any evidence was found, as the result of the raid by the Chinese Government on the Russian Embassy at Peking, of anti-British activities being carried on by the Soviet officials in China; and, if so, what action he proposes to take?

I cannot usefully say anything more about the character of the documents seized by the Chinese until I have received and examined the White Book Which the Peking Government has announced its intention to publish.

Considering the weeks that have elapsed since the visit by the Chinese authorities to the Soviet premises, cannot my right hon. Friend say when he will be in a position to give the information asked for?

I cannot say anything more than that I hope to be in a position to give further information when I have received the White Paper.

Will my right hon. Friend have any objection to my repeating the question in a fortnight's time?

None whatever, but my hon. and gallant Friend must not make me responsible for the time which the Chinese Government think proper to use in the examination of the documents before they publish them.

Does the right hon. Gentleman take responsibility for the Chinese White Paper?

Cannot my right hon. Friend get into telegraphic communication with our representative there with a view to having the salient parts of the White Paper sent here by telegraph as quickly as possible?

At present the White Paper is not in existence, and His Majesty's representative in Peking cannot send me a summary of a book that has not yet appeared. I have no doubt that he will give me some information as to the general character of it when it appears, but I think it will probably be necessary for me to see the book myself before I express an opinion on the documents.

Ex-Emperor (Birthday Celebrations)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that His Majesty's Consul-General at Tientsin attended the birthday celebrations of the ex-Emperor of the Ching dynasty of China; and whether he will explain why this action was taken?

League Of Nations (Traffic In Women Report)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has made any representations to the Permanent Advisory Committee of the League of Nations with a view to having Part 2 of the League of Nations Report on Traffic in Women published; and, if so, if he can state the answer he has received?

No, Sir. As stated in reply to the hon. Member on 27th April, publication can only be decided by the Council.

Has the right hon. Gentleman had an opportunity of reading this Report himself yet?

Yes, Sir. I was rapporteur to the Council, and I thought it my duty to read this Report.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that in the public interest this Report ought to be published?

I think there is an exaggerated importance attached to Part 2 of the Report. All that is of substance for the formation of judgment and policy is contained in Part 1. Part 2 is complementary, supplementary and illustrative, but does not really add to the information already in possession of the public. I would like to say that I am not prejudging the question of the publication of Part 2. That rests with the Council which thought— I did not suggest it to them— that it was only courteous to the Governments whose countries were particularly mentioned in Part 2 that they should have an opportunity of seeing the Report beforehand.

Cairo-Karachi Air, Route (Persia)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any further statement to make with regard to the impediment placed in the way of the Cairo-Karachi air route by the Government of Persia; and whether the difficulty has now been got over?

No, Sir. At present I have nothing to add to the reply returned to the hon. and gallant Member on 28th April.

Vatican (British Legation)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the maintenance of a Legation at the Vatican is now regarded as a matter of permanent policy or, if not, what developments are awaited to fulfil the period necessary for the completion of its desirability according to the policy of earlier post-War Governments?

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have no intention of withdrawing the Mission to the Holy See.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it is considered necessary to maintain the Legation at the Vatican?

His Majesty's Government found it convenient to establish this delegation at a time of great international trouble and difficulty. To withdraw the delegation now would, I think, he an almost offensive action, which we should be slow to adopt. Apart from that, whatver views we may have individually about the Roman Church, there can be no doubt that the head of that Church represents a great force in the world and is venerated by many millions of His Majesty's subjects.

May I ask whether, as this delegation was sent at a time of abnormal circumstances, now that conditions have become normal we ought not as a matter of ordinary policy to withdraw the delegation?

No, Sir, I think certainly not. I think it would be highly impolitic.

Is it not a fact that the appointment of the delegation was one of ordinary policy and did not entirely arise under extraordinary circumstances?

I think that ordinary and extraordinary circumstances combined to induce the Government of the day to make that decision.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) keep this Legation in being very properly?

Czechoslovakia (British Firms)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the taxation authorities in Czechoslovakia are demanding from British firms contributions by way of capital levy on goods supplied to business houses in that country, and that these demands are being extended to trade debts incurred previous to the outbreak of war; and will he say what steps he proposes to take in this matter?

Representations in this sense have recently been addressed to me by certain British interests concerned, and the matter is now being investigated.

Government Departments

Admiralty

7.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of appointments at Admiralty headquarters with a salary of £500 per annum or more that have been created since July, 1914; what are the duties of the officers or officials in each case; and how many are in receipt of half-pay or pension in addition to the civil pay?

The preparation in detail of the particulars asked for by the hon. Member would involve an expenditure of time and labour which hardly seems to be justified by the circumstances. I would refer the hon. Member to the Navy Estimates for 1914–15 and 1927 respectively, comparison between which would indicate what additional posts of the character indicated have been created since 1914–15.

Could not the hon. and gallant Gentleman inform the House of the figures of the increase in the number of officers receiving the amount stated in the question?

I certainly could give the House that number, but it would take a good deal of time and labour to work it all out. My answer so far has covered the point raised by the hon. Member who put the question.

Could not the hon. and gallant Gentleman give a plain figure of the officers receiving a salary of £500 or over between 1914 and 1927, without referring to the details of the duties performed?

I will consider the suggestion, but I would point out that to get particulars and numbers would necessitate looking into facts and figures and would take a great deal of time.

Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider employing a £500 a year man to collect this information?

War Office

32.

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of appointments at the War Office with a salary of £500 per annum or more that have been created since July, 1914; what are the duties of the officers or officials in each case; and how many are in receipt of retired pay or pension in addition to civil pay?

I would refer the hon. Member to pages 89 to 99 of the Army Estimates for 1914 and to Appendix XI of the Army Estimates for 1927.

Ministry Of Health

33.

asked the Minister of Health how many men and women, respectively, are employed in the higher administrative, junior administrative, higher executive grades, and above in his Department; and how many are employed in the headquarters department of the Ministry?

223 men and 14 women are employed in the administrative and higher executive grades and above in my Department. They are all employed at headquarters.

Royal Navy

Kidney Diseases

11.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of officers and ratings of the Royal Navy who were invalided with nephritis and other diseases of the kidneys during the years 1924, 1925 and 1926, respectively; and whether, seeing that the incidence of kidney trouble may be due to the fact that only condensed water is available for drinking purposes in His Majesty's ships, it would be possible to aerate condensed water before consumption by ships' companies?

In 1924, six cases were invalided from the Royal Navy (excluding Marines at headquarters) for disease of the kidneys (five for nephritis and one for stone in the kidney). Particulars of cases which occurred in 1925 and 1926 are not yet available. The question of whether the consumption of distilled water is in any way detrimental to health has been the subject of inquiry, but there is no evidence available that it is a factor in the causation of disease. I may add that the distilled water produced in ships undergoes considerable aeration before it is consumed by the ships' companies.

Rheumatism

12.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of boys, second and first class, Royal Navy, at the training establishment, Shotley, who were admitted to sick-quarters and hospital suffering from rheumatism and kindred complaints during the years 1924, 1925 and 1926; and the number of boys and men under 21 years of age who have been invalided from the Royal Navy owing to rheumatism during the years 1925 and 1926?

The following numbers of boys, second and first class, Royal Navy, at the Training Establishment, Shotley, were admitted to sick quarters and hospital for "rheumatism" and kindred complaints:

In 192420
In 192511
In 192613
The information asked for in the second part of the question is not readily available and its compilation would involve an expenditure of time and labour which I think my hon. Friend would not consider justified in the circumstances.

Does my right hon. Friend not think that some investigation should be made of these cases of rheumatism among first-class boys?

They are kept under observation and the figures do not go to show that there is any increase.

Would it not be easy to ascertain how many men under 21 have been invalided as a result of contracting rheumatism?

I hope that the House will not insist on my giving these very detailed figures, which may cause an increase in the Estimates of my Department.

Is not this matter of such importance to the health of the men in the Royal Navy that we ought to have these facts and figures before us?

But we have a medical department who are very diligent in this matter, and there is no prima facie evidence that there is anything wrong.

Are we to understand that the medical officers are satisfied that there are no extraordinary circumstances causing this unfortunate disability?

I certainly imagine that that is so. I shall be only too glad to investigate these cases.

Will the First Lord say how many of these cases were invalided out with heart disease?

Devonport Dockyard (Discharges)

8.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether dock-yard officials received a request on behalf of the established men recently discharged from His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, to the effect that the notices should be cancelled for a month in order that a case might be drafted on behalf of the discharged men; whether this request was rejected; and, if so, the reason for its rejection?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the other parts therefore do not arise.

9.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to the established men discharged from His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, whether he will say why it is that these men were informed on one notice that their services were not entirely satisfactory, that on another notice it was stated that they were discharged on reduction, and in a third place that their character was excellent in every respect; and whether, as the statement that their services are not entirely satisfactory is calculated to place them in an impossible position when they are seeking re-employment elsewhere, he can withdraw this comment?

The statements referred to in the first and second parts of the question are statements of fact. I have no knowledge of the third communication referred to. The reply to the last part of the question is in the negative.

May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if it is the practice of the Government to dispense with the services of those established servants who have been given an assurance that they will have work as long as they can do it?

They are employed subject to their approved efficiency. It is not the policy of the Government to do away with the services of established men, but in certain cases it is inevitable.

The men who have been discharged are less efficient than those who are kept on.

If the men discharged are less efficient than those who remain, does that justify the Department in declaring that these men are inefficient and discharging them?

Then what is the reason why these established servants have been discharged?

10.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give an undertaking that the discharge of six established men at His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, was an exception, and that it is the intention of the Admiralty not to discharge any more established men?

No such assurance can be given, but it is not intended to discharge on reduction established men whose services are satisfactory when numbers can be reduced to the extent required by discharging hired men.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it has always been clearly understood that an established man has security of employment and certain pension rights subject to his efficiency; and can the hon. and gallant Gentleman positively say that in the case of the efficient men their contracts will not be broken and that they will be kept on?

I think my answer is calculated to allay anxiety on that point.

Is it not true that it is rather difficult for the Government not to discharge men, seeing that both the Socialists and the Members of the Labour party are always asking for a reduced Navy?

Waitresses (Hours Of Employment)

14.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the waitresses in Lyons' teashops worked for 12 hours at a stretch on the occasion of the Cup Final at Wembley; whether these hours are their usual working hours or only for special occasions; whether, in view of this apparent hardship suffered by the waitresses, he is still satisfied with the decision that special boards are not necessary in the catering trades; and what action he proposes to take to prevent the employment of women for such abnormal hours?

I have no information as to the hours or wages of these waitresses on the occasion of the Cup Final, nor have any complaints been addressed to me. If the hours worked were as stated they were certainly in excess of those usually worked.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the last part of my question? This evidence was given to me direct.

If the hon. and gallant Member will give me evidence, I shall be very glad to consider it and as regards the last part of his question, it depends on the answer to the foregoing. It would also depend on whether the case was entirely abnormal or whether it was partly normal as regards the hours worked.

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "evidence"? Have I to bring the waitresses themselves?

If the hon. and gallant Member wishes to do so, I shall be glad to hear the evidence, but that is not necessary. He can give me particulars of the hours and the various other information on paper in the first instance.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that the wages paid by Lyons, and the hours of their workers, are better than almost any other in the trade; but is it not also true that in no industry is a Trade Board more necessary than in the catering industry, because the wages are perfectly outrageous?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on the figures which he himself published last year, less than 1 per cent. of the catering trade employés are organised in trade unions and that there is no body to act for them?

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's first reply and the unsatisfactory conditions in Lyons' and other places, is he prepared to set up a Trade Board in this industry?

Unemployment

Portsmouth Dockyard (Discharges)

15.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men who were recently discharged from Portsmouth Dockyard who have been found work elsewhere through the efforts of his Department?

Of the 600 men recently discharged from Portsmouth Dockyard some 450 have registered at the Portsmouth Employment Exchange and 26 have so far been placed in other employment by the Exchange. I understand also that some 50 or 60 others have obtained work with contractors in the Dockyard. Local officers of the Department will continue their efforts to find work for the remainder.

In view of that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if any effort is being made by his Depart- ment to obtain employment for these men in Portsmouth, or to bring them into touch with employment in other districts?

I think that is the case, but I will find out further information and give it to the hon. Member.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether in these cases where a Government Department discharges employés in large numbers, it is customary to consult other Departments to ascertain whether there is a reasonable probability of the men obtaining employment elsewhere?

I have no right to answer off-hand for my right hon. Friend. The discharges were made as part of general Government policy with regard to the Navy.

Is it customary for the right hon. Gentleman to be consulted as to whether these men can be found other employment before they are discharged?

Is there no co-ordination whatever between Departments in connection with these discharges?

Young Persons (Insurance)

17.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of boys and girls, respectively, of ages 16 to 17 and 17 to 18, who are insured persons; and the number of boys and girls, respectively, transferred to registers of men and women during the last available year?

It is estimated that at July, 1926, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of juveniles insured under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, exclusive of persons insured under Special Schemes, was made up as follows:

Boys:
16 and under 17274,000
17 and under 18290,000
Girls:
16 and under 17198,500
17 and under 18202,500
It is probable that the number of insured persons who became 18 years of age during 1926 was slightly less than the number who were aged 17 and under 18 at July of that year, but precise statistics on this point are not available.

Road Works, Hastings

18.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a number of casual labourers employed by the Hastings Corporation on the reconstruction of the road on the sea front went on strike recently, complaining that the work was too hard, and had to be discharged; and whether these men will be treated as entitled to unemployment relief?

I am having inquiries made and will let my hon. and gallant Friend know the result as soon as possible.

In the event of the first part of the question being a correct statement of the facts, will these men be entitled to unemployment relief?

When the right hon. Gentleman is making inquiries, will he particularly inquire into the statement that these men went on strike complaining that the work was too hard?

Is it not a fact that the very hard work is done by mechanical navvies instead of ordinary labour? [HON. MEMBERS: "Ridiculous."]

Flying Meeting, Bournemouth

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether any of the pilots or mechanics taking part in the flying meeting at Bournemouth on Monday, 18th April, were members of the Royal Air Force; whether any materials or machines belonging to the Royal Air Force were used on this occasion; and, if so, whether any damage was caused to any of the machines so used?

As regards the first part of the question, a number of Royal Air Force officers flew in the competition, but not on service machines, and the answer to the remaining parts of the question is in the negative.

Is it necessary for pilots to obtain special permits before taking part in these pageants?

Privately-Owned Aircraft

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many privately-owned aircraft there are in Great Britain and Northern Ireland licensed to fly, apart from the aircraft owned by the companies drawing a subsidy from the Government; and how many of these former are light aeroplanes?

The number of civil aircraft with valid certificates of airworthiness, excluding those owned by the Air Council, by Imperial Airways, Limited, and by subsidised light aeroplane club companies, is 138: of these, 36 are light aeroplanes.

Royal Air Force

Stores And Material (Sales)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what amounts have been received from sales of airship stores and material during the years 1925 and 1926?

The receipts were, approximately, £8,800 in 1925 and £2,900 in 1926.

Airships

25 and 26.

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) if there is more than one mooring-mast in England suitable for the R. 100 and R. 101; and is it contemplated, or possible, that both vessels can use one mast simultaneously;

(2) if it is proposed to handle the R. 100 for trials at Howden without any mooring-mast at that station; and does he, propose to erect a mooring-mast at that place, and, if not, will the mooring-mast at Cardington be available for R. 100 directly the ship is ready for trials?

There is only one mooring-mast in England suitable for the R. 100 and R. 101, namely, that at Cardington, and it is not proposed to erect a second at Howden. The Cardington mast can be used by both airships, but not simultaneously; it is not contemplated that they will be in the air for their trial flights at the same time or that difficulty will in practice arise in regard to the availability of the mast for either airship when ready.

Can the hon. Baronet give us some idea as to the date of completion of the Howden airship and the Cardington airship, in view of the possibility of simultaneous trials?

I could not say definitely, but we hope to have both flying next year.

Does not the hon. Baronet think it essential that there should be more than one mooring mast in this country in case of bad weather?

What has happened to the mast at Pulham, in Norfolk? Is that not suitable?

There is only one mast at Cardington suitable for these airships. For the trials, I think, the one mast is sufficient.

Supposing it is necessary to have both in the air simultaneously, what protection will there be for the two airships if they should require separate masts?

Is it not necessary to ballast these large airships, when they are secured to mooring masts, before they can be replaced in their sheds; and, if that be so, and if these two ships are to do trials simultaneously, how are they to get back to their sheds unless they are ballasted at the mooring masts?

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what amount of the sums of £31,650, £36,000 and £39,750 spent upon salaries of officials, designers and draughtsmen at Cardington in the years 1925, 1926 and 1927, respectively, are included in the sum of £260,000 stated to have been expended upon experimental work in connection with the proposed airship R. 101?

I regret that as the hon. Member's question first appeared on the Order Paper yesterday, and to supply the figures required entails some, investigation, I am not yet in a position to give a reply. I will communicate the figures to him as soon as they are available.

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what amount of the sums of £31,650, £36,000 and £39,750 spent upon salaries of officials, designers and draughtsmen at Cardington, in the years 1925, 1926 and 1927, respectively, have to be added to the estimated sum of £280,000 for wages and materials in connection with the construction of R. 101 to include the necessary design and overhead charges?

Of the amounts quoted by the hon. Member, sums of £7,630, £13,540 and £20,000, respectively, may be taken as chargeable against R. 101 in respect of design, and £2,710, £6,010 and £14,120, respectively, in respect of overheads.

Government Stock Dividends (Receipts)

asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that the Public Trustee issues cheques in payment of dividends on Government stock in his hands, with a notice that a 2d. stamp must be placed on the back thereof as a receipt, and that cheques have been dishonoured by reason of this stamp not being affixed; that, in addition to his authorised charges, 2d. is deducted from the amount of the dividend for the stamp on the cheque; and under what legal authority the receipt stamp for such dividends is required by the Public Trustee?

The hon. and gallant Member's question appears to be based upon a misapprehension. The Public Trustee does not issue cheques in payment of dividends on Government stocks. The Public Trustee, like other persons, is subject to the provisions of the Stamp Act, and when making payments to beneficiaries requires a receipt stamped 2d. for any sum of two pounds or upwards paid to a beneficiary. In certain cases when payment is made by cheque a form of receipt is printed on the back of the cheque. The revenue stamp of 2d. is an ordinary trust expense chargeable to the Trust Fund in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (2) of the Public Trustee Act, 1906.

Post Office

Telephone Directory (Advertisements)

31.

asked the Postmaster-General on what grounds his Department decided not to permit Messrs. Russian Oil Products, Limited, to advertise again in the Telephone Directory, in view of the fact that a Court of Appeal, on 12th May, 1921, consisting of Lord Justices Banks, Warrington, and Scrutton, declared that British Courts could not question the Soviet Government's title to property if that title was acquired by its laws within its own territory?

It is the practice to refuse advertisements which are likely to give rise to political controversy and I regard the advertisement referred to as falling within this category.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 75 per cent. of these oil products are sold to other firms in this country, and then retailed by them as fine spirit, and is not that advertising these goods through different firms?

May we take it that there has been no pressure applied to the right hon. Gentleman's Department by the great oil combines of this country to induce him to take up this attitude?

Oh, yes; the hon. Member may certainly take that to be the case.

Telegraph Service

30.

asked the Postmaster-General the aggregate loss on the telegraph service since 1869 up to 31st March, 1927?

The aggregate loss is estimated approximately at £44,500,000.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken to encourage the telephone service?

When calculating these figures, is consideration given to those services that are known to be contracted for actually below cost price, such as newspaper telegraph messages, and so forth?

Yes, the figures include every kind of service. Before 1906 the figures for telephones and telegraphs were not separated.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of advertising the telegraph service in the same manner as the telephone service is being advertised?

Council Houses (Sale)

34.

asked the Minister of Health whether any local authorities have declined to offer for sale council houses built under the 1923 Act, or to operate the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act; and what action his Department has taken to encourage local authorities to sell houses to those who wish to buy?

The control of houses erected by local authorities is a matter for those authorities, and the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts and similar provisions are adoptive by local authorities. My right hon. Friend has, by circular and other means, recommended local authorities to utilise the powers which they possess for the encouragement of house ownership, and although there are many local authorities which have not taken action, the use of these powers is becoming more widespread every year.

Is there no other way in which we can ginger up the local authorities except by way of circulars, seeing that it is the Unionist party's policy that every man should own his own house?

We are doing all we can, but if the Noble Lady can make any further suggestion I shall be glad to consider it.

Contributory Pensions Act

35.

asked the Minister of Health if a man employed by a public authority, who was an excepted person under the Health Insurance Acts, but who has paid contributions of 4½d. per week under the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act from the 4th January, 1926, until his subsequent superannuation, is treated as eligible for an old age pension under the latter Act, he having attained the age of 65, irrespective of the amount of his superannuation pay?

Yes, Sir; subject to compliance with the ordinary statutory conditions.

Small-Pox

36.

asked the Minister of Health in how many of the cases of small-pox which have ended fatally this year vaccination had taken place?

Since the reply given on this subject to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel Howard-Bury) on 9th instant, a further death has occurred among patients suffering from small-pox. Of the 28 cases which have ended fatally this year, 21 were unvaccinated at the time when they acquired infection, while seven had been vaccinated in infancy. The ages of the latter at the time when they were attacked by small-pox were: 22, 23, 44, 50, 54, 58 and 62, respectively.

Is the hon. Gentleman quite satisfied that the diagnosis proved conclusively that all these cases were small-pox?

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether any of these cases of small-pox were contracted abroad?

That is another matter. The hon. Member had better put down a question.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the types of cases in the last few months have been more virulent than any we have had for some time?

Petrol And Crude Oil Imports

38.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of gallons of petrol and crude oil brought into this country last year, or the most convenient year for which figures are obtainable?

I would refer the hon. Member to the Accounts of Trade and Navigation of the United Kingdom for December last, on pages 46 and 68 of which he will find the information he desires, in respect of the year 1926.

Transport

Piccadilly Circus (Road Widening)

40.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the building operations in Piccadilly Circus are now finished; and when it proposed to begin widening the road, and so prevent what is now a continuous block?

The carrying out of the widening during the London season, when the traffic in this neighbourhood is at its densest, would only add to the existing difficulties. Further, Piccadilly must be repaved in the very near future, and it is obviously desirable that the works should be carried out together. It has therefore been arranged that they shall be put in hand in August.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what period is covered by the London season?

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose that this block in Piccadilly is to go on until August?

First of all, I cannot admit that there is an extensive block, but for the reasons I have stated in the answer, I think it is desirable that the two works should be carried out together and that they should be postponed until August.

Glasgow-Balloch Road (Motor Traffic)

42.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the motor omnibus and other motor traffic during the summer months on the Glasgow-Balloch road is of such a volume and nature as to constitute a grave danger to the public; and whether he proposes to take any steps to regulate this traffic by a system of licensing and control or otherwise so as to ensure the public safety?

My attention had not previously been drawn to the volume of traffic on this particular road. So far as motor omnibus traffic is concerned, Part IV of the Draft Road Traffic Bill which I have recently circulated provides for a system of licensing and control of these vehicles throughout the country.

India (Textile Tariff Board)

43 and 44.

asked the Under Secretary of State for India (1) whether he is aware that the Government of India have stated that they considered it essential to publish their decision on the more important recommendations of the India (Textile) Tariff Board when the recommendations were announced; and, as the recommendations have now been made public, if he is in a position to announce the decision of the Government of India on the proposals;

(2) whether he can make any statement as to the action proposed to be taken by the Government of India on the Report of the Indian (Textile) Tariff Board, which recommends that the duty on cotton goods up to 40's counts from all sources shall be raised from 11 per cent. to 15 per cent.?

I will reply to these questions together. The answer to the first part of question No. 43 is in the affirmative. As regards the latter part of that question, there is no truth whatever in the statement which appeared in the Press last week that the Report of the Tariff Board has been published in India. That being the case, it is obviously not possible for me to make any statement either as to the contents of the Report or as to the action that will be taken on it. I can, however, say this that a decision may be expected shortly.

Are we to assume that the recommendations of this Committee, if and when they are published, will necessarily be accepted by the Government of India?

I am not prepared to make any further statement than that I have already made in the House, that the decision of the Government of India will in all probability be announced simultaneously with the publication of the Report.

Royal Commission On Lunacy

45.

asked the Prime Minister if and when it is proposed to introduce legislation embodying the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Lunacy, presided over by Mr. R. F. Macmillan, K.C.?

I have been asked to reply. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) on 10th March last.

Is it not the fact that experienced doctors in their evidence before the Commission stated they did not know what went on behind their backs?

I have no knowledge of the first part of the hon. and gallant Member's question, and I would refer him to the answer of the 10th March.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is no such person as R. F. Macmillan, K.C?

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the introduction of the Trade Disputes Bill is another proof, if proof were needed, of the urgency of the need for dealing with lunacy?

Patrington Farm Colony

47.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the total loss incurred in respect of the Patrington estate?

I regret that I am not yet able to add anything to the answers which I gave to my hon. Friend on 17th November and 16th March last. I am informed that several months must elapse before the final accounts for Patrington Farm Settlement will be ready for publication.

When these accounts are presented can we have some estimate of the amount that has been spent in unemployment relief and the value of the training for the men?

I think it would be absolutely impossible to make an estimate of that kind. There is no evidence of unemployment in agriculture; on the contrary, hon. Members opposite tell me that there is such a shortage of labour that people out of the workhouse have to be employed.

We are trying to let the farms. The House will perhaps be glad to know that all the agricultural workers who remained on the estate have got employment elsewhere.

Imperial Preference (Revenue)

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of duty collected at the full and preferential rate in respect of all the commodities to which Imperial Preference applies for the years 1925–26 and 1926–27, respectively?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Penny) on 18th November last and to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir J. Power) on 26th April.

African Railway Finance Company, Limited

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the guarantee of £2,000,000 granted to the African Railway Finance Company, Limited, under the Trade Facilities Act, is part of the amount of £10,000,000 agreed to be guaranteed to East Africa?

Franchise (Failure To Vote)

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the forthcoming Representation of the People Bill, any steps will be taken to disfranchise for a period those persons who fail to vote at any election without good cause shown?

No, Sir. In the view of His Majesty's Government the proposal contained in my hon. Friend's question would not be practicable.

Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability, on the introduction of this Measure, of abolishing two-member constituencies and making them single member constituencies?

Atlantic Flight (French Airmen)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the Royal Air Force is able to assist in any way in the search for the two missing French airmen, Captains Nungesser and Coli?

The Air Ministry has been in close consultation with the appropriate French authorities in this country and has given them all the advice and assistance in their power. If any further specific request for assistance is made by the French authorities, it will, of course, be immediately forthcoming.

Has the hon. Baronet offered the French authorities the use of some of our machines in the West of England for searching the Western Channel approaches if they desire us to do so?

We have been in the closest possible touch with the French Attache, and have done everything in our power to help him. We have sent out warnings to all units in the coastal area to keep a special look-out. We have not sent any special patrol into any part of the Channel, but if the French were specifically to request us to do so, we should do so.