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Commons Chamber

Volume 222: debated on Monday 19 November 1928

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House Of Commons

Monday, 19th November, 1928.

The House met at a quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

Oral Answers To Questions

Basle Mission Trading Company

2.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the properties of the Basle Mission Trading Company have yet been restored to that company; and, if not, when it is proposed that such restoration shall take place?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Discussions with the Basle Mission Trading Company and with the Commonwealth Trust are proceeding.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, when it was agreed to re-transfer to the Basle Mission Company the properties held by the Commonwealth Trust, any arrangements were made with regard to dilapidations; what is the amount involved in such dilapidations; and whether liability for this amount will devolve upon the people of the Gold Coast Colony, the Commonwealth Trust, or the British Government?

No, Sir. The agreement was that the properties should be restored free of encumbrances. As I understand the situation, the properties are being taken over as they stand and the question of dilapidations has not been raised. The second and third parts of this question therefore do not arise.

India

Sholapur Textile Union (Civil Proceedings)

3.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if his attention has been drawn to a recent case in Bombay, when the Courts granted an injunction restraining members of the Sholapur Textile Union from inciting workmen by speeches, meetings, or any other way, to strike or continue to strike; and if, in view of the fact that this is the first action of the kind instituted in India, he will, for the information of the House, state the Act under which this action was taken?

My attention has been drawn to this case. So far as my information goes the suit is a civil suit and one of the points at issue appears to be whether or not the defendants are members of a registered Trades Union. Under Section 18 (1) of the Indian Trades Union Act, 1926, officers and members of Trades Unions are only exempt from civil proceedings on grounds such as those now alleged in the plaint if the Union is registered under the Act. There was at least one similar case before the Act of 1926, but this is the first case that I have heard of since that Act wag passed.

Sir Denys Bray (Persia)

4.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India for what purpose the Foreign Secretary of the Government of India has recently again visited Persia; whether, during his stay in Persia, he entered into negotiations with the Persian Government or with His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Persia; what was the object of these negotiations; and what is the reason for their being conducted by Sir Denys Bray rather than by His Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Persia?

Sir Denys Bray merely landed in Persia for a few hours on his way from India to England. He entered into no negotiations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Sir Denys Bray has developed this habit of always landing for a few hours in Persia and that it makes the public mind rather uneasy?

It is only right, in view of the charge which the hon. Member has made, to explain that most of the time was spent at Jash when he was flying with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Air. Unfortunately they had a forced landing there.

I want to assist the Under-Secertary in this matter. Can we now take it, from his answer that neither the previous visit of Sir Denys Bray nor this visit were anything more than a temporary landing for a few hours?

Yes, I have already explained in my answer that Sir Denys Bray entered into no negotiations of any sort.

Western India States Agency

7.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the location, area, and total population of territories placed under the direct administration of the Western India States Agency; are the people in these territories considered British subjects purely or do they owe allegiance to any other sovereign authority; what rights of representation do these people possess as British subjects; what voice have they in the matter of taxation and general administration conducted by British officials; and to whom are these British officials responsible for their policy and conduct of affairs?

The total area of the territories included in the Western India States Agency is about 35,000 square miles and the population about 3½ millions. The people of these territories are not considered British subjects, but owe allegiance to the Rulers of the various States, and no question arises therefore of their having rights of representation as British subjects. The British officials employed in the Agency are responsible, through the Agent to the Governor-General, to the Government of India. If the hon. Member's question is intended to be limited to petty estates or other areas in which the functions of the officers of the Agency may for various reasons be more directly administrative, I regret that I have not the detailed information that would be required to answer the question.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear, if the British political agents are responsible to the Governor-General, the British Viceroy, what right the people in these Agencies have to approach the same officer with regard to their grievances or to mal-administration?

:I think that I have answered the question on the paper fairly fully in my original answer. It is impossible within the compass of a parliamentary answer to explain the divergent and varying conditions in this Agency.

Indian States

8.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, if the Government is taking any steps to ascertain the condition of government in the Native States of India before committing this country to any fresh obligations regarding the future of these states?

Information on this subject is obtained in the ordinary course, through Political Officers.

Does the Noble Lord think that the present means of obtaining information are sufficient Is he aware that citizens of these Native States have not any means of getting their grievances before the responsible authorities?

That really deals with an entirely different matter. As the hon. Gentleman's colleague, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Wallhead), is not present to ask his question—I am not complaining of it, but only referring to it—I have not had the opportunity of explaining what is the exact position of these States vis-a-vis the Indian Government. I do not think that the particular point which the hon. Gentleman asks arises out of this case.

Is it not a fact that the position is largely one regulated by Treaty in this case?

I think the hon. Gentleman is aware that I always endeavour to give all the information there is in answer to questions, but I rather deprecate attempting to answer questions on matters of high constitutional importance in reply to a supplementary question. The answer which I had prepared in reply to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil's question which was not asked deals with the matter.

5.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the number of Indian States in which representative institutions for the enactment of laws exist; in which liberty of person and freedom of speech, meeting, and association exist; and the number in which there is a fixed civil list, subject to independent audit, for the rulers and their families?

In the absence of fuller information than is available here, I regret that I cannot give the figures for which the hon. Member asks.

6.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he will inform the House of the nature of the responsibility of the Paramount Power for the good government of the Indian States and the conditions of intervention by the Paramount Power in the internal administration of the States; and whether machinery exists in any of the States whereby the grievances of the peoples of a State may be made known by them to the Paramount Power or whereby, in case of necessity, they may invoke intervention to obtain the redress of such grievances?

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the explanation of the rights and duties of the Paramount Power given in the letter from the Viceroy to His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad of the 27th March, 1926, of which a copy was included in the papers presented to Parliament at the time (Command Paper No. 2621 of 1926). As regards the second part, the Political Officers appointed to the various States or groups of States are responsible for keeping the Paramount Power supplied with whatever local information is necessary for the proper discharge of its functions.

Are we to understand from that answer that a citizen of one of these States has the right to approach the Political Officer with a grievance which he may have against the Ruler of that State?

It is really impossible, within the limits of an answer to a Parliamentary question, to explain exactly what the position is. It is a matter of the highest importance, as it affects the relations of the Crown with these States. If the hon. Gentleman wants information on a specific point, he must put a question down. If he will read this letter from the late Viceroy to which I have referred, he will find the case stated there.

Singapore Naval Base

9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any protests have been received from the Singapore Chamber of Commerce or other public bodies in the Straits Settlements, protesting against the proposal to include the cost of the garrison for the new naval base at Singapore in the charges against the Colony: what reply has been made; if he can state the estimated cost of the full garrison annually after the new base, arsenal and dockyard have been fully established; whether any extra charges for the naval and aerial armaments and establishments at Singapore arising out of the naval base will be thrown on the exchequer of the Colony; and, if so, what amount?

Representations have been received from the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council, the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, and others: and the matter is new under consideration. I regret that I am not in a position to make a definite statement of the estimated cost of the full garrison after the new base, arsenal and dockyard have been fully established. The answer to the remainder of the question is in the negative.

Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is not answering the last part but one of the question, as to whether any extra charges for the naval and aerial armaments and establishments at Singapore will be thrown on the exchequer of the Colony?

That is the last part of the question. "The answer to the remainder of the question is in the negative."

Does that mean that there will be no extra charges on the Colony?

Surely for annual upkeep there will be an extra charge, and, that being the case, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman at the same time to say if he is defending the interests of the Colonies as against the War Office and the Admiralty?

It is a matter for the Government as a whole to arrange negotiations. These questions of distribution of expenditure cannot be replied to quite in the form in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman puts them in the course of a supplementary question.

Straits Settlements (Criminal Appeals)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the unofficial members of council in the Straits Settlements are pressing for the creation of a Court of Criminal Appeal on the same lines as that which exists in England and the Federated Malay States; and what action the local government and the home Government are taking in the matter?

I have no information on this subject, but I will make inquiry of the officer administering the Government.

Colonial Service (Travelling Allowances)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the extent of the deficit as to shipping fares falling on a civil servant in respect of himself, wife, and each child, after receiving the travelling allowances laid down by regulation, when proceeding on leave at the present time to the United Kingdom from each of the Pacific Colonies, Dependencies, or Mandated Territories, and from the New Hebrides?

As the answer is somewhat long, I will, with the Noble Lord's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

It is not possible to give figures to cover every case, but the following figures will serve to show the position where maximum allowances are payable:

Fiji and Western Pacific High Commission: Officials serving in Suva:

The cost of a return passage to this country ranges from £211 (first class) to £122 (third class). The maximum leave passage grant under the Regulations is £240 (£120 in respect of the officer, £60 in respect of his wife, and £60 in respect of a child or children).

Tonga—Staff of Agency and Consulate:

The cost of a return passage to this country ranges from £222 (first class) to £133 (third class). The maximum leave passage grant is £273 (£131 in respect of the officer, £71 in respect of his wife, and £71 in respect of a child or children).

British Solomon Islands Protectorate:

Thee cost of a return passage to this country ranges from £228 (first class) to £167 (second class). The maximum leave passage grant is £270 (£180 for the officer, £30 for his wife, and £30 for each child up to two).

Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony:

There is no regular passenger service, and precise figures as to the cost of passage are not available. The fare is approximately the same as for the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. The maximum leave passage grant is approximately £300 (£120 for the officer, £60 for his wife, and £60 for each child up to two).

New Hebrides:

The cost of a return passage to this country ranges from £232 (first class) to £183 (second class).

In the case of officials in the British service the maximum leave passage grant is £348 (£132 for the officer, £72 for his wife, and £72 for each child up to two).

In the case of officials of the Joint Court the Regulations provide for a return passage to Europe in certain circumstances for the officer, but not for his wife and children. New Regulations are under discussion.

In the case of other Condominium officials the maximum leave passage grant provided under the Regulations is £60, but new Regulations are under discussion.

Children under three years of age travel free, and children between three and ten years of age at half rates.

Kenya

Locusts

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Kenya Colony has recently suffered from a serious plague of locusts whether anyone was available on the spot to advise the Government of Kenya on the most experienced methods of fighting locusts: and what steps have been taken or are being taken to exterminate the locusts and to prevent a repetition of a similar visitation?

Yes, Sir. I understand that all possible measures were taken by the authorities in Kenya to deal with this plague. Special expenditure amounting to £6,500 was sanctioned for an anti-locust campaign which was vigorously prosecuted by the Department of Agriculture, which includes a staff of entomologists. Also, with the generous co-operation of the Government of Portuguese East Africa, it was arranged that Dr. Fuller, who is now entomological adviser to that Government and who previously had many years' experience of locust work in the service of His Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa, should visit Kenya. I understand that Dr. Fuller has visited the principal areas affected, and submitted a full report to the Government. In his speech to the Legislative Council on the 14th August last, Sir Edward Grigg stated that the Government of Kenya agreed with Dr. Fuller that some permanent organisation is desirable for studying the origin and movements of swarms, and that the suggestions which Dr. Fuller had made in this respect would be considered in connection with next year's estimates.

Water Rights

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether a Water Bill for Kenya Colony has been submitted to him for approval containing Clauses requiring every British subject, native or immigrant, to obtain a licence before he is allowed to take any water in the Colony, whether from streams or wells of his own construction, except in utensils which can be carried by hand; and whether he has yet given sanction to this Bill?

The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative. I understand that a Bill dealing with water rights was introduced and read a Second time in the Legislative Council of Kenya on the 22nd of August and was then referred to a Select Committee of the Council.

Native Reserves

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Government of Kenya Colony has accepted a resolution of the unofficial members of the Legislative Council calling for the alienation of more land for white settlement; whether any Bill to this effect has been submitted to His Majesty's Government for approval; and whether, before accepting the proposals, he will take note of the fears of the representatives of the native interests that the land available for the future extension of native reserves will thereby be restricted?

I understand that the resolution referred to was carried in the Legislative Council of Kenya. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. The hon. Member may rest assured that in the consideration of any such proposals the interests of the natives would not be overlooked, and I may point out that the mover of the resolution made it clear that the motion confines itself entirely to those areas which could be made available without involving any question of native rights.

War Compensation Claims (Maltese Seamen)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any decision has been arrived at in the matter of awards to Maltese seamen for war damage; and when the amounts awarded will be paid to the men concerned?

Arrangements are now being made for the distribution of German reparation receipts among the Colonies and Protectorates, and I hope, therefore that payment in the cases mentioned by the hon. Member will be made at a very early date.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication as to what is approximately meant by that early date, as these men have been waiting for a long time?

It has meant years of work as the hon. Member knows, and we are hopeful now that the matter is reaching a conclusion.

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now taken legal advice on the action of the Moslems in Jerusalem in erecting masonry constructions on top of the Kotel Maaravi or Wailing Wall in violation of the status quo; and whether he has now issued orders that new construction on this ancient wall be forbidden?

No, Sir; I have found it necessary to obtain more precise information on certain points before taking legal advice, and I am consulting the Palestine Government by telegraph on these points.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is that when a temporary structure is erected at the foot of the wall for the Feast of the Passover by the Jewish community the police remove it by force, while the Arabs are allowed to put stone structures of a permanent character on the upper courses of the wall?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I am afraid, is misinformed. It has no connection with the Feast of the Passover whatever, and a full account of what has happened has been given in an answer by my right hon Friend, and in putting a supplementary question the hon. and gallant Gentleman is giving a misleading view of the situation. The whole question is what exactly is the status quo that we maintain under the clause of the Mandate. There are various questions to be cleared up before high legal advice can be asked on that point.

It is obvious that we are favouring one religious denomination as against another.

No, certainly not. If there is one thing that His Majesty's Government and the Palestine Government are determined to do it is not to favour one as against the other.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that that answer is conveyed to the Government in Palestine?

It has been conveyed again and again, and it is in the terms of the Mandate. It would be very unfair to charge either Lord Plumer or his predecessors with infringing the spirit and letter of the Mandate.

Zambesi Bridge

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any decision has yet been taken with regard to the construction of the Zambesi Bridge?

I regret that owing to the abnormal condition of the Zambesi it will still be some time before completion of the investigations in hand. Until their results are known, no decision is possible.

Can the right hon. Gentleman hold out some expectation of a tentative date by which this very long delay can be overcome?

According to the last telegram, the abnormal condition of the river is abating somewhat, but until we get the engineer's and surveyor's report it, is very difficult to fix a date. It is now entirely a question of technical advice.

In view of the serious condition of the coal-mining industry in this country, will His Majesty's Government do their utmost to prevent the completion of this bridge, with British guarantees, so long as the Portuguese labourers in the coalfields there are paid 5s. a month?

Honestly, I cannot give that undertaking. The question of the guarantees under the East African Guarantee Act is being approached not from the point of view of anything connected with affairs in Portuguese territory, but owing to the great difficulty of both native and other producers in British Nyasaland in exporting their products.

Can the right hon. Gentleman not say whether it is the case that the labourers in the coalfields on Portuguese territory, the development of which is to be facilitated by this bridge, are paid 5s. a month?

The hon. Mem-her must put that question to the Foreign Office. I cannot carry in my head figures of that sort relating to foreign territory. I have not seen what they are.

Cinematograph Films Act (Colonies)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the names of the Colonies or Protectorates that have not yet replied to the communication addressed to their Governors on the subject of the introduction of legislation that would give effect to the Clauses contained in the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927?

With the hon. Member's permission I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list showing the Colonies and Protectorates that have not yet replied.

Is it not a fact that some of the Colonies have replied that legislation cannot be usefully introduced locally to embody the principles of this Act?

I think my right hon. Friend gave an answer to this question last week.

What I am trying to find out is how the right hon. Gentleman reconciles these replies with the promises made to this House when the Cinematograph Films Act was introduced, that the Colonies would give certain protection for British films.

I should like to look at the exact words. All that my right hon. Friend undertook to do was to draw the attention of the Colonial Governments to the legislation which we were passing and to ask them whether in the local circumstances it was feasible to apply similar provisions in their countries.

Following is the list:

  • Nyasaland Protectorate;
  • Somaliland Protectorate;
  • Zanzibar Protectorate;
  • Gambia;
  • Gold Coast;
  • Cyprus;
  • Gibraltar;
  • Mauritius;
  • Seychelles;
  • Fiji;
  • Western Pacific;
  • St. Helena;
  • Hong Kong;
  • Straits Settlements;
  • Federated Malay States;
  • Unfederated Malay States;
  • British North Borneo;
  • Bahamas;
  • Barbados;
  • Bermuda;
  • British Guiana.

It should be explained that the communication addressed to the Governors, etc., did not specifically call for a reply, but merely enclosed a copy of the Cinematograph Films Act, 192, together with a copy of the regulations issued there-under by the Board of Trade, for information and for consideration as to how far some or all of the provisions of the Act could usefully be embodied in local Colonial legislation in the near future.

League Of Nations

Sierra Leone (Slavery)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the appreciation expressed by the mom- bers of the League of Nations during the recent Assembly at the action of the British Government with regard to domestic slavery in Sierra Leone and to the invitation to the British Government to submit next year to the League of Nations a Report upon the results which have accrued to this action; and whether it is proposed to accede to this invitation?

Yes, Sir. The Governor recently stated that it was not yet possible to estimate the full effect of the Ordinance, but he is being requested to furnish a Report on its results in due course.

Arms (Manufacture)

74.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any steps have been taken to call a meeting of the special commission entrusted with the drawing up of a draft convention on the manufacture of arms and ammunition and of implements of war before the next Session of the Council of the League of Nations, in accordance with the resolution passed at the last Assembly and confirmed by the Council?

Yes, Sir. The Third Session of the Commission will open at Geneva on the 5th December.

International Labour Office

77.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the items of expenditure in the budget of the International Labour Office to which he took exception at the recent meetings of the League of Nations Assembly?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for West-houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on the 15th instant.

In view of the growing importance of the work of the International Labour Office and in view of the opinion expressed on all sides of this House on Wednesday last is it not a calamity that the right hon. Gentle- man should have sought to reduce the budget of the International Labour Office?

But is it not a calamity that the budget of the International Labour Office should be reduced?

The hon. Gentleman is under an entire misapprehension. He had better wait until the White Paper is issued.

Ceylon (Constitution)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action His Majesty's Government intend to take in regard to the Report of the Special Commission on the Constitution for Ceylon?

I am not yet in a position to make any statement in the matter. A large number of resolutions dealing with the recommendations of the Special Commission have been introduced and debated in the, Legislative Council of Ceylon, and I must await a full report of the proceedings in the Council and also the considered views of the Ceylon Government in regard to them.

Is it intended to deal with this matter before the fall of the Government?

British East Africa (Commission's Report)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether this House will be given an opportunity of considering the Report of the Hilton Young Commission on East African questions before any action is taken on its basis?

If the hon. Member will refer to the report of the Debate on the Colonial Services Vote for the year 1927–28 he will see that I have already given an undertaking that the Report of this Commission will be available for Parliamentary discussion before any final action is taken upon it.

Bouvet Island (British Claim)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the British Government has arrived at any decision in regard to the British and Norwegian claims to Bouvet Island?

50.

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement regarding the withdrawal of British claims to sovereignty over Bouvet island in favour of Norwegian claims?

I have been asked to reply. After careful review of all the issues involved, and having regard to the friendly relations existing between the two countries, His Majesty's Government have decided to waive the British claim to Bouvet. Island in favour of Norway.

Empire Settlement

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs the number Of assisted emigrants for the Dominions for the first six months of this year, giving the categories of employment in which these emigrants were assisted?

The total number of persons assisted to proceed to the oversea. Dominions during the first six months of this year was 29,223. Of this number, 12,132 are known to have proceeded to farm work, 3,660 (women) to domestic employment; the employment to which the remainder, numbering 13,431, proceeded is not known.

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs if he is yet in a position to make any statement with regard to the future arrangements for immigration to Canada?

No, Sir, but I hope to be in a position to do so before the House rises for the Christmas Recess.

Irish Free State (Ex-British Civil Servants)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether, now that the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has been given, he can say when the compensation to Irish civil servants under Article 10 of the Treaty will be paid?

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether his attention has been called to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council presided over by Lord Reading which was given on the 13th instant; whether he is aware that the case of these civil servants has been before the Courts since November, 1923, and has been the subject of four decisions in which 14 Judges have participated; and whether, in view of the fact that the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council presided over by Lord Reading upholds the judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council presided over by the late Lord Cave, of 3rd May, 1927, he will now take steps to see that these civil servants receive the compensation to which they are entitled under Article 10 of the Treaty between Great Britain and the Irish Free State, of 6th December, 1921?

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether his attention has been called to the Report of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, issued on Tuesday last, on the reference submitted to them as to the correctness of their previous decision in the case of Wigg and Cochrane, relating to the amount of compensation payable to ex-British civil servants in the Irish Free State under Article X of the Irish Treaty; whether he is aware that the Judicial Committee, on their special reference, have unanimously confirmed the previous judgment of that Committee; and whether he will take steps to see that compensation will now be paid immediately to these ex-British civil servants in the Irish Free State who have suffered seriously by reason of the prolonged delays in the payment of the compensation to which they were held to be entitled by the Privy Council so long ago as May, 1927?

The questions arising out of the recent Report of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are under examination, but I am not in a position to make any statement at present.

Apart from the important constitutional question involved, can the right hon. Gentleman not see that prompt payment by the British Government, who are wholly responsible, is made to these unfortunate people who for three or four years have not received the compensation to which the Privy Council has twice held that they are entitled?

We shall endeavour to act as promptly as we can, but the hon. Member must realise that it is a very difficult situation. I cannot be expected to say more than that at the moment.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is anticipated that he will be in a position to answer the question?

Was it not in regard to this question that the Whip was taken away from the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto)?

Trade And Commerce

Irish Free State

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Empire Marketing Board is taking any steps to develop trade and commerce with the Irish Free State?

The Empire Marketing Board is limited, by the terms of its Vote, to the furtherance of the marketing of Empire products in this country. So far, therefore, as the development of trade with the Irish Free State is concerned, the Board's activities in the fields of scientific research, economic investigation and publicity are directed to promoting the marketing of Free State products in the United Kingdom in common with the products of other parts of the Empire, including home agricultural produce.

Empire Tobacco

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Imperial Economic Committee on Tobacco has reported; and, if so, whether the Empire Marketing Board has taken the Report into consideration, and with what result?

The Imperial Economic Committee have lately issued a report upon Tobacco, and this Board is now engaging the attention of the Empire Marketing Board. The Board have already issued, in accordance with the Committee's recommendation, a comprehensive list of Empire smoking tobaccos, cigarettes and cigars on general sale in the retail shops. Copies of this list are obtainable post free on application to the Board. Some Press advertising on behalf of Empire tobaccos is being undertaken and a special set of posters is being prepared.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any samples are going to be obtained and placed in the Smoke Room?

Could not the hoardings which are used for pictures at the present time be used for Empire tobacco advertisements?

The pictures on the hoardings are continually being changed. A new set is about to be issued, and a set of Empire tobacco posters will be there very shortly.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the British House of Commons about 3 ozs. of Empire tobacco are sold per week?

As a non-smoker, I am not aware of that fact, but I will draw the attention of the Kitchen Committee to it.

Shipping Rates (Canadian Apples)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, (1) whether he will bring to the notice of the Imperial Shipping Committee, with a view to their taking action, the fact an attempt is being made to restrict shipments to Britain of Canadian and Nova Scotian apples to certain steamship lines in order to force up freights to a higher level than those operating from New York;

(2) whether he is aware of the pressure that has been brought to bear upon a large number of growers of Canadian and Nova Scotian apples, and that the growers who refused to sign the agreement are being penalised by an extra 20 per cent. freightage; and will he draw the attention of the Imperial Shipping Company to this action of one or two particular steamship lines sailing under our flag, with a view to their taking action in the matter?

Representations from persons interested in the trade, on the points raised in my hon. Friend's two questions, have been received by His Majesty's Government in Great Britain and are under consideration.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is due to the attempt mentioned in the question that the apples offered for sale in the dining rooms of the House are not English?

British Herrings (Poland)

42.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, (1) whether he is prepared to take steps with a view to simplifying the present complicated procedure for obtaining a certificate of origin for British herring exported to Poland;

(2) whether the Government have made further representations to Poland regarding the preferential duty at present accorded to Norwegian over British herring?

Since the answer which I gave the hon. Member on July 16th, H.M. Minister at Warsaw has received instructions to make further representations in connection with the forthcoming revision of the Polish Customs Tariff. As regards certificates of origin, I am afraid that. it would be useless to ask the Polish Government to dispense with their present requirements so long as Poland continues to prohibit the import of herrings (except under licence) from Germany whilst not prohibiting them from other countries.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of urging the acceptance of a certificate granted by one of our own fishery officers?

We have made that representation before, and I am afraid without success.

Motor Show, New Zealand

51.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he is aware that at the annual motor show recently held in Christchurch, New Zealand, only three English makes of motor cars were exhibited, and those not 1929 models; and whether he can take any action to stimulate British participation in motor shows of this nature?

I have obtained a telegraphic report from His Majesty's Trade Commissioner's office in New Zealand on this matter and am informed that at the motor show held at Christchurch from the 3rd to the 10th of the current. month, 20 British motor cars were exhibited as well as two commercial vehicles and ten motor cycles. The date on which cars for exhibition would have to be shipped from this country would prevent the exhibition of 1929 models.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether those 20 care were of 20 different makes?

No, I have not that information, but, if the hon. Member desires it, I will obtain it.

Dried Fruit Trade (Labour Conditions, Levant)

67.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the common desire of all parties to prevent the competition or consumption of sweated goods in this country; and whether he will therefore cause a Report to be made on the conditions of wages, hours, and health conditions in the dried fruit trade of the Levant?

Export Credits (Russia)

72.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any representations have been made to the German Government at any time by, or on behalf of, His Majesty's Government on the subject of the grant of credits to Russia?

Canadian Harvest (British Workers)

The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. HAYES:

37. To ask the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the case of two Liverpool youths and two Belfast youths who, having endured great hardships in their tramp from Toronto to Quebec, endeavoured to secure a passage on the ss. "Melita" as stowaways to return home, and for which act were sentenced by a Quebec court to one month's imprisonment; whether he is aware that the sentence was imposed as a lesson to others; that the judge said there was no work there except for farmers and that the sending to Canada of such untrained youths required, investigation; and whether he will take steps to secure the early release and passage home of these youths?

I am not quite clear that the Secretary of State has any powers as regards a sentence passed by a Quebec Court.

The only information which I have regarding the cases referred to in the hon. Member's question is that which has appeared in the Press. The Dominion authorities in this country have records of all persons who have proceeded to Canada during the past season, and this record does not include the names of any of these four men. I have asked the Dominion authorities if they can supply me with information in regard to these cases showing how and when the men entered Canada.

While appreciating the position of the Quebec Court, may I ask whether the Secretary of State will pay special attention to securing a passage home for these boys in the same way as the returning harvesters?

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs how many men were sent to Canada for temporary work as harvesters; how many still remain in Canada; and how many more are likely to return?

The total number of men who went to Canada for temporary work as harvesters was 8,449. It is estimated that 2,720 men are still in Canada, hut it is not possible to state how many of these will ultimately return to this country. Over 300 letters have already been received by the Dominion authorities in London from harvesters who have recently come back from Canada expressing a desire to return to the Dominion next spring.

Is the right hon. Gentleman's Department taking any steps to keep in touch with the men who are remaining out there?

We are doing what we can, but we have not a large administrative machinery within the sphere of the Government of Canada.

May I take it that the returning harvesters will not be treated as deportees?

Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that the term "deportees" has been used on the other side?

There may have been some deportees, but the great mass of the men are paying their own fares back, in some cases the reduced fare.

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that these 2,720 are remaining in Canada, or have some of them gone over the border into the United States?

I have no evidence on the last point. It is possible that some of them are still finishing up temporary jobs and may come back, but I understand a large proportion of them have accepted satisfactory work for the winter.

Government Departments

Overseas Trade Department

44.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether the Department for Overseas Trade employs canvassers and commercial travellers; and, if so, what is the number of such employés and the purpose of their employment?

We employ no canvassers nor commercial travellers in the ordinary meaning of the words in connection with the London Fair. We do, however, place each Section of that Fair in charge of a permanent official of the Department of Overseas Trade whose normal work is to handle questions relating to the industries included in that Section. These officers have a great deal of specialised knowledge of the industries with which they deal and they of course use their best endeavours to make their Section as fully representative as possible.

Ministries (Reorganisation)

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government have finally decided not to abolish the Ministry of Transport, the Department of Mines, and the Department of Overseas Trade, as suggested in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget statement and in his own statement of 21st December, 1927?

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether it is still the policy of the Government to abolish the Ministry of Transport and the Departments of Mines and Overseas Trade as soon as Parliamentary opportunity permits?

I am not prepared to add anything to what I have already said on this subject.

Does the light hon. Gentleman not realise that it must be very unsatisfactory for those who are employed in these Departments not to know whether they still remain under sentence of death?

If the hon. Member will look at the last paragraph of the answer that I gave on 21st December last, he will see that I said that the matter to be dealt with must be treated as a non-controversial question. There is no chance of that, and there is therefore no chance of anything being done in the lifetime of the present Parliament. If the hon. Gentleman or those behind him will put a question to me in the next Parliament, I will endeavour to give him an answer.

Will the Prime Minister add to the information that he has given us by saying definitely whether it is still the policy of the Government to abolish the three departments?

Yes, but from the answer the hon. Gentleman will see that it is impossible to demolish them before the House rises and that, therefore, the question does not arise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last week he stated that he had replied to this question on 21st December, 1927, and that he was kind enough to send me a copy of the reply, which was no reply at all; and is he aware that the country is rather anxious to know what he proposes to do with these departments in the unlikely event of the Conservatives returning to office?

We shall consider whether we shall put it in our election address.

Office Of Works (Discharges)

64.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, the reason for discharging men during the last few months from the industrial staff of the Supplies Division of the Office of Works; and whether the circular sent out to employers was taken into consideration before these discharges were made?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT
(Lieut.-Colonel Sir Vivian Henderson)

Sixteen men have been discharged from the Supplies Division since August. Four of these were dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct, while the remainder had been engaged on work of a temporary nature, on the completion of which there was no further opportunity of utilising their services. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative.

Diplomatic And Consular Service

73.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether confidential reports are kept on officials in the diplomatic or consular service or connected with his Department; whether these reports are communicated to the individuals concerned; and whether the individual has any means of redress similar to the procedure in force in the Army and Navy?

The responsible authorities are kept fully informed as to the services of all officers connected with the Foreign Office. Where circumstances render it desirable any reports received are communicated to the individuals concerned; no action is taken on an adverse report without the individual concerned being given an opportunity of stating his own case.

Radium

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the increased demand for radium for curative purposes and of the uneconomical character of purchases of small quantities by institutions, he will consider rendering Government assistance in obtaining supplies?

I have been asked to reply. The whole question of the radium requirements of this country in relation to present sources of supply is at present under consideration by a Sub-Committee of the Committee of Civil Research.

In the meantime will the Parliamentary Secretary allow institutions to purchase radium on the same terms as they have already permission to purchase?

Have any representations been made to the Belgian Government as to the exorbitant prices charged in the Belgian Congo?

Unemployment

Forth And Clyde (Canal Scheme)

46.

asked the Prime Minister when the Government last considered the Forth and Clyde canal project; whether a survey has been under taken; and, if so, and by whom, and on, whose behalf?

I have been asked to, answer this question. Schemes for the construction of a ship canal between the Forth and Clyde have been considered on numerous occasions since the conclusion of the War and up to the present time. As has previously been explained, it is for the advocates of any such scheme to carry out any necessary surveys if they consider that any useful purpose would be served thereby, but so far as I am aware they have not yet carried out any such survey.

In view of the Prime Minister's sympathetic expression that the West of Scotland was an area which should receive attention will the Minister of Transport have a survey made of the proposed line of this canal and an estimate of the cost?

Surveys have been made in the past and the estimated cost for the post-War period varied from £14,000,000 to £50,000,000.

Will the right hon. Gentleman now consider another survey in view of the extreme unemployment in the district, which is calling urgently for some consideration?

I think a survey was carried out in the not very distant past, and the hon. Member must realise that any survey could not be successfully concluded in order to give employment immediately.

As it is eight or 10 years since the last survey was made, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the present circumstances demand a further consideration?

I do not think that the estimate which was made then is likely to be decreased now.

Date.Estimated number of insured persons aged 16 to 61 inclusive.Number of insured persona aged 16 to 64 inclusive, un-employed (estimated for 1924).Difference between Cols. 2 and 3.Estimated number of insured persons aged 16 to 64 inclusive in employment, after deducting from Col. 4 3½ per cent, of the numbers in Col. 2 to allow for sickness* and other unrecorded non-employment, exclusive of temporary holidays.
Including persons directly involved in trade disputes.

Excluding personas directly invoiced in trade disputes.

Thousands.Thousands.Thousands.Thousands.Thousands.
October, 192811,6581,35610,3029,8949,892
October, 192411,1461,2069,9409,5509,543

* The sickness rate has been taken at an estimated annual mean; it has not been possible to allow for Seasonal Variations.

Juvenile Labour (Red1siributign)

84.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of juveniles and young people who have been transferred from other districts to employment in the London area within the last four months?

The total number of juveniles transferred from the distressed mining areas to London during the past four months was 195. Separate figures for young people above 18 years of age are not available.

Has this meant a smaller number of London juveniles being placed in employment?

What steps does the hon. Gentleman propose to take in order to ensure that this increase in the juvenile population of London will

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that it was not a survey at all, but a guess?

Statistics

83.

asked the Minister of Labour the estimated number of insured persons in employment in October of this year and in October, 1924?

As the reply involves a number of figures, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

not add to the grievous overcrowding which exists in the places to which they have gone?

Does the hon. Gentleman know whether there is any juvenile unemployment in London?

Undoubtedly there is a certain amount, but that does not in the least mean that the boys who are being transferred will take the places of others who would otherwise have got employment.

Does that answer suggest or mean that special jobs have been created for these lads? Where have they come from? Out of the sky?

No, Sir. We have been successful in finding in London jobs for 195 boys from distressed areas, who would not otherwise have got jobs.

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why these jobs have not been produced before for the youths of London?

Because, by a special effort, we have been able in many cases to get jobs for these boys which otherwise would not have been given to them.

Will the same staff that was engaged for finding these places for boys in distressed areas continue in operation, so that the London boys may have the benefit of their services?

Crown Property (Recent Street)

53.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he can state the reason for the delay in leasing the vacant site on Crown property between Nos. 86 and 90, Regent Street: and whether any negotiations are now pending for the leasing of this site?

This site has a frontage of only 37 feet to Regent Street and of 33 feet 6 inches to Glasshouse Street, and on account of the small amount of window space available and the heavy cost of building in accordance with the approved design for the Quadrant, it has been difficult to let. It has twice been put up to public tender, but no offer was received on either occasion. Arrangements have now been completed by private treaty for a building lease to date from the 10th October last, and it is understood that the new building will be erected forthwith.

Tithe Rentcharge

56.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many County Court summonses have been issued against farmers by tithe owners during the last four years?

I am unable to supply the information asked for by the hon. Member. The Ministry has no jurisdiction in regard to the collection of annuatithe rentcharge by tithe owners.

Agriculture

Arable Land And Farm Purchases

57.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many acres of arable land have been put down to grass during the last four years; and how many farmers have purchased their holdings during the same period?

The decrease in the area of arable land during the last four years is 817,500 acres. The bulk of this has been laid down to grass, but some part has undoubtedly been taken for building or other non-agricultural purposes. I regret that I have not the data which would enable me to answer the second part of the question.

Wheat Stocks

58.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has any estimate of the stock of wheat in Great Britain at the ports and in stack at the end of October?

According to trade estimates, the stocks at ports in the United Kingdom of wheat and wheat flour expressed as wheat on 1st November last were 3,171,000 cwt. Estimates of stocks remaining on farms in England and Wales are made by my Department only on the 1st January and 1st April of each year, and I regret that I am consequently unable to furnish the second figure asked for by my hon. Friend.

Pig Production (Embargo)

62.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what increase has taken place in the pig production of this country since the embargo on Continental pork?

The embargo on the importation of pork from the Continent does not appear to have had any appreciable effect on the total pig production of this country, but there is evidence that production for the fresh pork market has increased. I would add that the embargo was imposed as a measure of protection against disease and not with the intention of stimulating production in this country.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any idea as to what the difference in the price of pork has been since the embargo?

If the hon. Member will put down a question giving the date at which he would like the price stated, I will try to get the information.

Certainly, there is very serious infection by foot-and-mouth disease in the near countries of Europe.

Is not the result of the embargo, with the falling price of pigs, a tariff on agricultural produce which is not really a help to farmers?

Bankruptcies

66.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many farmers have gone bankrupt or filed a petition with their creditors during the last four years?

The numbers of receiving orders made against farmers in England and Wales in each of the four years 1924 to 1927 were 233, 238, 224 and 290 respectively. The numbers of deeds of arrangement executed by farmers during those four years were 127, 130, 118 and 178 respectively.

Lee Valley (Flooding)

60.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whethere any consideration has been given to the scheme suggested by the consulting engineers of the Lee Conservancy Board for the amelioration of the flooding conditions in the Lee Valley, as being a work upon which a considerable number of unemployed men could be engaged; and whether steps will be taken to confer upon the authorities concerned the necessary powers to proceed with the scheme?

A scheme dealing with the River Lee was before my Department some years ago, but it had very little bearing on agricultural interests. I am always prepared to consider any new proposals, but I am bound to point out that the Lee Conservancy is not a Drainage Authority under the Land Drainage Acts, and any scheme for that River would probably be a matter for consideration by the Unemployment Grants Committee and not by my Department.

Duke Of Cambridge Statue, Whitehall

65.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, if he has under consideration the question of removing the statue to the memory of the late Duke of Cambridge from Whitehall to some other place?

In view of the fact that we now see the military achievements of this Field-Marshal in a truer perspective than was the case when this monument was first put up—

Surely I am entitled to ask a question, and to give my reasons for putting it? May I ask whether, in the circumstances stated, the hon. Gentleman cannot find room on the site of this statue for a statue of Field-Marshal Earl Haig?

Coal Industry

Amalgamations

68.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he can estimate the effect which Part 1 of the Mining Industry Act, 1926, has had in bringing about amalgamations in the coal trade?

I cannot say more than is said on the first page of the Report on this subject presented to Parliament on 5th November.

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether it is not true that there is no amalgamation taking place in Durham, and that therefore the Act has no effect whatever, and in view of that difficulty is he prepared to take steps?

I do not read this question on the Paper as dealing with Durham. The Report deals with the whole country.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that large amalgamations have taken place with little or no effect?

Low Temperature Carbonisation

69.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that the South Metropolitan Gas Company intend building a low temperature carbonisation plant at the West Greenwich works; and if he can state whether any financial assistance will be given to the company for the erection of such plant?

I have no information on this subject apart from what has appeared in the Press.

Local Government And Rating

Coal Industry (Yorkshire)

70.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he will state the estimated percentage reduction in the cost of production of coal produced in Yorkshire due to the de-rating proposals?

On the basis of the latest available information, the estimated average reduction in the cost of production of coal commercially disposable in Yorkshire due to the de-rating of the collieries themselves would be about 4d. a ton, or 2½ per cent.

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that that will rehabilitate the industry in Yorkshire?

No, but what I have stated must not be taken into account apart from the reduction of freights owing to the de-rating of railways.