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Commons Chamber

Volume 235: debated on Wednesday 26 February 1930

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 26th February, 1930.

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

Private Business

Dartford and Purfleet (Thames) Tunnel Bill (Certified Bill) (by Order),

Second Reading deferred till Wednesday next.

Severn Fisheries Provisional Order Bill,

Read a Second time, and committed.

Oral Answers To Questions

China

Imported Arms

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the yearly figure shown by the latest Chinese Maritime Customs returns of arms and munitions imported through the Customs at the Chinese treaty ports; and can he state from which countries these arms were shipped?

The most recent returns of the Chinese Maritime Customs show that the importation of arms and munitions of war through them in 1928 amounted to a total net value equivalent, at the average rate of exchange, to, roughly, £1,750,000. These figures do not include imports for sporting purposes or for individual self-defence. With my hon. Friend's permission, I will have the detailed particulars circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Have any recent protests been made by the British representatives in China with reference to the importation of arms?

How does the right hon. Gentleman separate arms for individuals for self-defence and arms that are to be used against other people?

I am afraid I can only give the answer that has been provided for me.

Following are the detailed particulars:

Note.—The following figures include arms imported for British and other foreign naval and military forces in China as well as for such institutions as the Chinese Maritime Customs and the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. The various countries named are those from which the arms are shipped, and are not necessarily those of origin.

STATEMENT showing the value of direct gross imports through the Maritime Customs of arms and munitions into China during the year 1928, distinguishing the countries whence imported.

(Extracted from the Statistical Returns, Part II, Vol. 1, Imports—published by the Chinese Maritime Customs.)

China.

Arms and munitions of war:
1928.
Haikwan Taels.
Total imports of which from:11,400,315
Hongkong171,659
French Indo-China34,301
British India45
Great Britain34,577
Norway4,868,550
Sweden44,557
Poland2,536,646
Germany3,208,897
Netherlands21,242
Belgium16,154
France19,398
Korea305
Japan (including Formosa)393,005
Philippine Islands1,763
United States (including Hawaii)49,216

Arms and munitions, sporting and self-defence.Haikwan Taels.
Total imports of which from:125,671
Hongkong37,455
French Indo-China1,869
British India462
Great Britain23,105
Germany12,392
Belgium1,038
France64
Korea394
Japan (including Formosa)35,089
Philippine Islands160
United States (including Hawaii)13,643
NOTE.—The equivalent of the Haikwan Tael during the year 1928 was 2s. 11 1/16d.

Railway Loan Agreement

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can give any information as to the position which has arisen owing to the Chinese Ministry of Railways having demanded payment from the Pekin-Mukden Railway of a portion of its revenue for local purposes; and what has been the result of the protests from the British Legation to the Chinese authorities in connection with this matter?

I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Londonderry (Major Ross) last Monday.

Military Movements

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information regarding the combined movement of the northern generals in China against Nanking; and whether the Kuominchun leaders have carried out any disbandment of their forces?

The most important commander in the North recently issued a manifesto calling on the head of the Chinese Government to resign his offices and leave the country. Warlike preparations are reported to have been made on both sides, but I have no report of any open hostilities, nor any definite information as to the attitude of other northern military commanders. There has, so far as my information shows, been no effective disbandment of the various military forces in China.

Is the League of Nations taking any part in trying to get these forces disbanded?

Hankow Debentures (Interest)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Hankow authorities are in default in the payment of interest on the municipal debentures?

So far as I am aware, there is no default in the payment of interest on the debentures of the former British concession at Hankow, except in respect of the interest for the first half of 1927 which was paid in depreciated notes of the Hankow Central Bank.

Missionaries (Extra-Territorial Privileges)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has received any communications from British missionary societies in regard to extraterritorial privileges in China; and what is the purport of such communications'?

I have received no such communications; the second part of the question, therefore, does not arise.

Boxer Indemnity Fund

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the policy of His Majesty's Government towards the question of the Boxer Indemnity Fund?

His Majesty's Government are in negotiation with the Chinese Government for the return of the accumulated and future instalments of the Boxer indemnity to the Chinese Government on terms in harmony with the report of the Advisory Committee set up under the China Indemnity (Application) Act, 1925. A draft agreement has been reached between His Majesty's Minister and the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs for the consideration of both Governments, and I am at present awaiting the text.

Passports

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is his intention to take any steps towards the abolition of passports or to minimise the difficulties and expenses incurred in connection with them?

The resumption of relations with the Soviet Government, together with the modifications made in the passport requirements of certain other Governments, have now made it possible to authorise the grant of an endorsement for all countries in Europe as a general rule. Apart from the considerations to which I drew attention in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kennington on 6th November last, my hon. Friend will, no doubt, remember that the Debate on the Children's (Employment Abroad) Bill, on 28th January, brought out the fact that the passport system has a very real value in connection with the white slave traffic.

Nicaragua (British Claims)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any settlement has yet been made in respect of the British claims arising out of the recent disturbances in Nicaragua?

According to my information the new Nicaraguan Commission, which is to complete its task within 18 months, if possible, has been engaged continuously since November last in the examination of claims of 1,000 dollars and under. No award has yet been made.

League Of Nations

Poland-Lithuania Frontier

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress the Council of the League of Nations have made in the settlement of the differences between Poland and Lithuania with regard to Vilna and the frontier generally; and what the present position is?

A sub-committee constituted by the Advisory and Technical Committee of the League of Nations has been investigating the problem on the spot. Its Report will probably be ready for the consideration of the Committee when it meets in March, so that the final Report should be ready in time for the May session of the Council. Other outstanding questions have formed the subject of direct negotiations between the Polish and Lithuanian Governments.

Is it not a fact that the situation between the two countries is less feverish than it was six months ago?

Covenant

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is proposed to make any alteration in the Covenant of the League of Nations; and, if so, the nature of the proposed alterations?

A committee is now sitting at Geneva to report on the amendments necessary to bring the Covenant into harmony with the Pact of Paris. As regards the nature of the amendments proposed, those put forward by the British delegation were designed to eliminate from Articles 12 and 15 of the Covenant the so-called right of "private war" which they now allow.

Would any alteration made in tine Covenant be brought before both Houses of Parliament before it is ratified?

We have already undertaken to lay all these Treaties before both Houses, and, before ratification takes place, there will certainly be an opportunity given to this House.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it would be possible to lay the instructions which have been issued to the British representative on the Committee?

Can my right hon. Friend say whether his predecessor published any of the instructions which he gave?

International Opium Convention

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether all countries have now signed and ratified the International Opium Convention of 1925; and, if not, whether he will give the names of those abstaining?

Ratifications and definite accessions to this Convention have been deposited on behalf of 34 countries. There are 11 other countries on whose behalf signatures or accessions have been given but which still require, before they take effect, ratification or confirmation. Twenty-five countries have neither signed nor ratified nor acceded. I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the details:

Second Opium Conference Of The League Op Nations Convention

(Geneva, 19th February, 1925.)

Ratifications or definitive Accessions.

  • Austria.
  • Belgium.
  • United Kingdom, of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including all Colonies, Protectorates and Mandated Territories).
  • Canada.
  • Australia.
  • Union of South Africa.
  • New Zealand Western Samoa.
  • India.
  • Bulgaria.
  • Czechoslovakia.
  • Free City of Danzig (through the intermediary of Poland).
  • Dominican Republic.
  • Egypt.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Greece.
  • Italy (for the Kingdom and Colonies).
  • Japan.
  • Latvia.
  • Luxemburg.
  • Monaco.
  • Netherlands (including Netherlands Indies, Surinam and Curacao).
  • Poland.
  • Portugal.
  • Rumania.
  • Salvador.
  • San Marino.
  • Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes.
  • Siam.
  • Spain.
  • Sudan.
  • Switzerland.
  • Venezuela.

Signatures or Accessions not yet perfected by Ratification.

  • Albania.
  • Bolivia.
  • Brazil.
  • Chile.
  • Cuba.
  • Denmark.
  • Hungary.
  • Irish Free State.
  • Nicaragua.
  • Persia.
  • Uruguay.

The Convention is open to Accession by:

  • Abyssinia.
  • Afghanistan.
  • United States of America.
  • Argentine Republic.
  • China.
  • Colombia.
  • Costa Rica.
  • Ecuador.
  • Estonia.
  • Guatemala.
  • Haiti.
  • Hejaz.
  • Honduras.
  • Iceland.
  • Liberia.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Lithuania.
  • Mexico.
  • Norway.
  • Panama.
  • Paraguay.
  • Peru.
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  • Sweden.
  • Turkey.

Gas Protocol

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which States have now ratified the Gas Protocol?

The answer is rather long, and I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

In view of the fact that the Soviet Government is not a member of the League of Nations, has the right hon. Gentleman taken any steps to ascertain their views on the matter?

No, I have not taken any steps, but that hardly arises out of the question on the Paper.

The folio-wing is the answer:

The following have either ratified or definitely acceded to the Geneva Gas Protocol:

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • Canada.
  • The Commonwealth of Australia.
  • New Zealand.
  • The Union of South Africa.
  • India.
  • Austria.
  • Belgium.
  • China.
  • Egypt.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Italy.
  • Liberia.
  • Persia.
  • Poland.
  • Rumania.
  • Spain.
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  • Turkey.
  • Venezuela.
  • Yugoslavia.

Congo Basin Treaties

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the proce- dure which it is intended to adopt in connection with the discussions for the revision of the Congo Basin treaties?

The whole question of the attitude to be adopted by His Majesty's Government and the procedure to be followed in these discussions are still under consideration by the interested Departments, and I am not in a position to make a statement at present.

Will the right hon. Gentleman expedite that consideration, because the matter is becoming rather urgent?

The hon. Member knows that, where there are a number of Departments concerned, it is not easy to expedite decisions.

Russia

Typhus

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the epidemic of typhus at present raging in Russia, he will consider the advisability of discontinuing the issue of visas to Russian subjects?

His Majesty's Government have no information regarding the existence of any such epidemic beyond what has appeared in the Press, but I am asking His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow for a report on the subject.

Propaganda

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that, as officially stated in the Russian newspaper, Rul, of 11th February, 200 persons are to be sent to the Russian Commercial Commission in London, most of whom have been trained in a school of Communist propaganda; that among the qualifications necessary in the future for all members of commercial agencies will be the tenure of an active or reserve appointment in the red army; whether he will represent to the Russian Government the desirability of restricting the number of the proposed Russian staff in London; and whether His Majesty's Government will endeavour to ensure that these com- mercial agencies are used exclusively for trade and not for subversive propaganda?

The right hon. Gentleman appears to be under some misapprehension about any "official" statement. According to my information, the newspaper referred to is published outside the Soviet Union and is in opposition to the Soviet Government. Nothing has occurred to justify any representations to the Soviet Government on the lines suggested by the right hon. Gentleman in the latter part of his question.

Naval Movements

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will take steps to ascertain from the Soviet Ambassador whether the Russian naval forces in the Black Sea have been recently augmented by ships transferred from the Baltic?

No, Sir. I see no need to make any inquiries of the nature indicated. It is common knowledge that two Soviet warships arrived recently in the Black Sea.

Does any augmentation of the number of Russian men of war in the Baltic and Black Sea, affect the naval forces of the other signatories to the Treaty of Lausanne?

British Embassy

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any members of the British Embassy to Russia have yet visited any cities other than Moscow; and, if so, on how many occasions?

So far as I am aware, since their arrival in the Soviet Union, the members of the Embassy have been occupied at the seat of Government, but the movements of the staff of His Majesty's missions abroad are, as the hon. and gallant Member is well aware, within the discretion of His Majesty's Ambassadors and Ministers.

Will the right hon. Gentleman instruct our Ambassador to see that his staff goes into the outlying parts of Russia to investigate the question of religious persecution?

I have already said that the movement of the staff is at the discretion of the Ambassador.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any reason to suppose that there is any difficulty being put in the way of the members of the Embassy in Russia?

Would the right hon. Gentleman advise the staff to attend the Baptist chapels while in Russia?

Am I not right in thinking that the right hon. Gentleman also believes in religion?

Equador (British Bondholders)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information about the default upon its obligations to British holders by the Government of Equador upon the Guayaquil and Quito Railway bonds; and will he request His Majesty's representative in Equador to watch developments and report to the Foreign Office?

Yes, Sir. Full reports on this question are already being received through His Majesty's Consul at Guayaquil, who is carefully watching the situation.

Kellogg Pact

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the names of the Powers who have deposited at Washington instruments of adherence to the Treaty of Renunciation of War, signed at Paris 27th August, 1928?

Yes, Sir. As, however, the list of nations is somewhat long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the list:

Kellogg Pact, 27Th August, 1928

Paeties As On The 14Th Feuruary, 1930

Original Signatories.

  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland (British Empire).
  • Australia.
  • Canada.
  • India.
  • Irish Free State.
  • New Zealand.
  • South Africa.
  • Belgium.
  • Czechoslovakia.
  • France. Germany.
  • Italy.
  • Japan.
  • Poland.
  • United States of America.

Accessions.

Abyssinia.Latvia.
Afghanistan.Liberia.
Albania.Lithuania.
Austria.Luxemburg.
Bulgaria.Mexico.
Chile.Netherlands.
China.Nicaragua.
Costa Rica.Norway.
Cuba.Panama.
Danzig.Paraguay.
Denmark.Persia.
Dominican Republic.Peru.
Portugal.
Egypt.Rumania.
Estonia.Siam.
Finland.Soviet Union.
Greece.Spain.
Guatemala.Sweden.
Hayti.Switzerland.
Honduras.Turkey.
Hungary.Venezuela.
Iceland.Yugoslavia.

Great Britain And United States (Visa Charges)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the result of the negotiations between this country and the United States of America with regard to the reciprocal abolition or reduction of passport visa charges?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave in reply to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hacking) on Monday last.

Fighting Services (Wheat And Meat Supplies)

32.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the diffi- culties in the way of purchasing British meat and wheat for the requirements of the Navy and thus carry out the Government instruction to buy British goods?

The difficulties in regard to meat are the same as those which for nearly 4½ years prevented the last Government from adopting the course desired by the right hon. Gentleman. Certain trials of National Mark all-English flour are being carried out in connection with naval shore establishments.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Conservative Government did make an arrangement?

I am aware that there was a decision made upon the eve of the General Election, but I am not sure that decisions made under those circumstances are the best.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the introduction of a percentage of British wheat into the loaves used is an economy?

I have already said that trials of National Mark all-English flour are being carried out in the naval shore establishments.

Ought not the right hon. Gentleman's Department to be setting a good example to private firms in this country?

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the letter issued by the Minister of Agriculture on the subject of British-mark beef, and whether he is now prepared to arrange for the issue of home-produced meat to forces serving at home?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the last part, I have nothing to add to previous replies on this subject.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those replies are quite unsatisfactory, and will he do something to help the Minister of Agriculture to encourage the sale of British meat?

Royal Navy

Royal Naval School Of Music

33.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether there is any intention of transferring the Royal Naval School of Music from Eastney to Deal; and whether, seeing that the majority of the band boys are recruited locally, this fact will be taken into consideration before any decision is arrived at?

A proposal for the transfer of the Royal Naval School of Music from Eastney to Deal has been received and is being investigated. All the relevant factors will be taken into consideration before any decision is arrived at.

Devonport Dockyard (Alternative Work)

34.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will bear in mind the position of dockyard employés concerned when the revised system of accounting and clocking are introduced in His Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, with a view to finding these employés alternative work?

This matter will certainly be borne in mind, as it was at Portsmouth when the revised system was introduced.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service (Retiring Allowances)

35.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, seeing that the scheme of retiring allowances and gratuities to officers of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service makes no provision for officers who retired before the 1st July, 1929, and in view of the hardship many of these men are suffering, he can see his way to make the scheme retrospective in order to include those officers who fulfil the conditions but who retired before the 1st July, 1929?

I regret that it is not possible to vary the terms of the scheme as promulgated. In introducing a new scheme a limit must be fixed to the date to which it can be made retrospective and I am afraid that it is inevitable that some persons will thereby be ineligible to benefit.

Kenya

Native Services

41.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Governor of Kenya Colony, in a speech to the Legislative Council on 14th May, 1928, promised to produce, in connection with the Estimates for 1929, a schedule, or schedules, proving that every penny of direct native taxation in Kenya is spent on direct native services in the native reserves; and whether he will give, for the past five years, figures showing the amount of such direct native taxation and the amount spent on direct native services in the native reserves, respectively?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Governor of Kenya has been requested to furnish the figures asked for, but these have not yet been received.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Chief Native Commissioner in Kenya stated to the Parliamentary Commission that only 25 per cent. of the taxes contributed by the natives was spent Uipon the natives?

Native Land Trust Bill

55.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether objection has been raised in the Legislative Council of Kenya to the passing of the Native Land Trust Bill, with the Amendments desired by the Secretary of State; and what action the Government proposes to take in the matter?

Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend is in communication with the Governor on the subject and I am not in a position to reply yet to the second part of the question.

Church Of Scotland (Official Representation)

56.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that official representation has been refused to the heads of the Church of Scotland in Kenya on public occasions on the ground that the Secretary of State cannot grant the Church of Scotland the privilege of such representation, as it is a rule throughout the Empire that such representation be given to the Church of England only; and whether, seeing that there is no established church in the Colony, he will state on what grounds this differentiation is based?

My Noble Friend has no knowledge of the circumstances which have given rise to this question, but if the hon. Member will furnish me with particulars the matter will be investigated. The suggestion in the question as to a rule confirming official representation of religious communities on public occasions to one denomination is not understood.

Unemployment

Minister's Memorandum

46.

asked the Prime Minister, whether he intends to publish the memorandum on unemployment submitted to him by the First Commissioner of Works, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.

May we know whether this influential triumvirate have been converted to the Liberal solution for attacking unemployment?

If this memorandum is likely to help unemployment, what good purpose is served by keeping it secret?

The reason why Cabinets have secret documents, is that, if there were no secret documents, Cabinets would never do their work at all.

While I do not contest that view, is this a document which can of necessity be called secret? We want to help the unemployed. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman give us this document, which is better than the policy of the Lord Privy Seal?

Has not the right hon. Gentleman discovered who gave this information concerning Cabinet secrets to the public Press?

Dundee

94.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons who were provided with employment by the Dundee Employment Exchange during the six months to 31st December, 3928; and the six months ended 31st December, 1929?

Dundee Employment Exchange.

10th July, 1928, to 14th January, 1929.9th July, 1929, to 13th January, 1930.
Males.Females.Total.Males.Females.Total.
Fresh and renewal claims made.14,7237,60822,33118,21911,06829,287
Claims disallowed on the ground "not genuinely seeking work":
(a) By Insurance Officers6835461,229103318421
(b) Recommended for disallowance by Courts of Referees on 78-day review.90109199144164308

Education

School Attendance Bill

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give facilities this Session for the Education (School Attendance) Bill?

I have nothing to add to the statement I made in answer to a question on the 30th January by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). Everything depends upon the state of public business.

Is the Prime Minister aware that, while the permanence of the present regimé is well understood in this House, there are a great many local edu

During the six months ended 31st December, 1928, 2,368 vacancies were filled by the Dundee Employment Exchange, and 2,968 during the six months ended 30th December, 1929.

95.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men and women who signed on at the Dundee Employment Exchange during the six months ended 31st December, 1928, and the six months ended 31st December, 1929, and who were refused unemployment benefit on the ground of not genuinely seeking work?

As the reply consists of a Table of figures, I will circulate it, if I may, in the OFFICIAL REPOET.

Following is the Table:

cation authorities throughout the country in very genuine doubt as to whether the Government will last sufficiently long to pass this legislation?

The House may depend upon me to do everything I possibly can to assure the local authorities one way or another, in the most effective way possible, that this Bill is going to be made an Act of Parliament.

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that he can always rely upon the support of the hon. Gentleman?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if there is a Disolution we shall come back again upon these seats?

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind that pupils at schools, if they do not get this Bill this Session, will be in grave doubt, whether or not, to train for teaching, and that that will aggravate the problem of the supply of teachers?

Maintenance Allowances

86.

asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware that many education authorities are of opinion that maintenance grants for school children at 14 years of age should be provided exclusively from Exchequer funds; and will he favourably consider such a course on account of the poverty in many of the industrial and depressed areas in the country?

I am aware that some opinions have been expressed in favour of this course, but I am unable to adopt it.

Historical Documents (Sale)

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the sale to a United States collector by the Royal Institution of Great Britain of the headquarters' papers of the British Army during the American revolutionary war; and whether he proposes to take action to restrain the sale of British historical documents to persons in foreign countries?

50.

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware of the sale of the Carleton or Dorchester papers to a private individual in the United States; and if he will take steps to make it illegal to sell documents of historic interest to private citizens of foreign countries?

I have just heard of the sale of these papers. From the historical point of view, hon. Members may know that the papers formed the subject of four volumes published some years ago by the Historical Manuscripts Commission. So far as public despatches are concerned, I understand that the Public Record Office have copies of the despatches to America, and originals of the despatches from America to this country. The remainder of the collection consists of correspondence which passed in America. The question of taking steps to prevent the sale abroad of historical manuscripts has been considered by successive Governments, but I regret no practicable policy has so far been found which would meet all the various cases which arise. I consider, however, that it is the duty of those possessing documents of national historical value to give an opportunity, should need arise for their sale, for their retention in this country.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman investigate the circumstances under which this sale took place, the particular circumstances attending the sale, and will he see whether even now he cannot take some action thereon?

I regret very much to say that the contract is absolutely and fully complete and that nothing can be done to undo it.

Is it not very reprehensible that the officials of this institution should have kept the matter quiet until the whole thing was brought to completion?

If they did not inform him or any member of the Government, will the right hon. Gentleman ask them to keep the Government informed in the future if they intend to sell more manuscripts?

I purposely put the last sentence in my reply so that not only those officials but the whole public ought to know that in fairness to the nation they ought to disclose their intentions to the Government.

Does not the right bon. Gentleman think that there is a particular duty upon an institution which has a Royal Charter to preserve these documents in this country?

Imam Of Yemen (Negotiations)

51.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply has been sent to the request from the Imam of Yemen suggesting that he should negotiate outstanding points requiring settlement in London direct with the Colonial Office instead of through Aden?

The Imam was informed that His Majesty's Government considered that on account of the great distance and lack of communications between the Imam's capital and London it would be a mutual convenience if the negotiations could be held either in Sanaa or at Aden.

Palestine

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

52.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is in a position to make any statement regarding the committee recently appointed by the Mandates Com-mission of the League of Nations to inquire into matters affecting the Wailing Wall?

In accordance with the resolution adopted by the Council of the League of Nations in January, the members of the Commission in question will be appointed by His Majesty s Government with the approval of the Council. The constitution of the Commission is now under consideration.

I presume so, but the Terms of Reference have not been decided upon. They will be laid down along with the other conditions when the constitution of the Commission is decided.

Is not the Government proposing to lay down in the Terms of Reference requirements as to the taking of evidence?

His Majesty's Government will submit to the Council of the League the names proposed, and also the proposed Terms of Reference.

Will it be made clear, in drawing up the Terms of Reference, that the conditions of the Proclamation made in Palestine in regard to the status quo in connection with this matter, will be maintained?

Disturbances

53.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to state when the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the recent disturbances in Palestine will be published; and whether the evidence will be published at the same time?

I am not yet in a position to add anything to previous replies on this subject.

55.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the numbers of Jews and Arabs that have been sentenced to death in Palestine for the riots of last summer; and whether any of the sentences have been commuted to imprisonment?

Two Jews have been sentenced to death by the Court of Criminal Assize, but according to my latest information their appeals have not yet been heard. Seventeen Arabs have been sentenced to death by the Court of Criminal Assize, and in all cases the sentence has been confirmed by the Court of Appeal. No death sentences have yet been confirmed or commuted by the High Commissioner.

Can the hon. Gentleman say that the reports that these sentences have been commuted to 15 years' imprisonment are untrue?

Yes, Sir. I understand the position is that a number of those convicted have applied for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, and in the meantime the question of commutation is left over.

Trade And Commerce

Empire Marketing Board (Posters)

58.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will arrange that the Empire Marketing Board posters shall be designed to advertise products and objects which it is desired to bring to the notice of the public, in view of the fact that the present posters are more ornamental than useful?

I have been asked to reply. The board's posters are primarily designed to create a general background for the more specific advertisements undertaken by the Governments of various parts of the Empire, as well as by producers and others directly concerned in the sale of individual commodities. By way of illustration of the board's general theme of Empire buying, however, the posters have frequently drawn specific attention to particular products, which it is desired to bring to the notice of the public, and they will continue to do so within the limits of the board's general policy.

Does not the hon. Member consider that the mental and artistic side is rather overdone, to the detriment of the sale of the products?

Is the hon. Member aware that the other day a poster appeared showing a tiger and a pineapple, raising the question whether tigers eat pineapples?

Trade Statistics (Raw Wool)

88.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity and value of raw wool, greasy and scoured, exported from and imported into all Dominions and foreign countries for which returns are available for each of the last three completed years?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a similar question asked by him on the 11th February, which gave figures for 1925, 1926 and 1927. According to the latest volume of the "International Yearbook of Agricultural Statistics," published by the International Institute of Agriculture, Rome, the total imports of wool into 71 countries, British and foreign, amounted, in 1928, to 2,564.2 million lb., and the exports and re-exports to 2,477.1 million lb. This volume contains revised figures for 1927, the corresponding figures for imports being 2,710.6 million lb., and for exports and re-exports 2,606.1 million lb.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that total figures are of very little use in this connection, and that what are wanted are figures of one's individual competitors? Will the hon. Gentleman make an attempt to get the Department furnished with relevant figures as to trade, as heretofore?

Dominion And Merchant Shipping Legislation

59.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Government propose to introduce legislation to carry out the recommendations of the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation and Merchant Shipping Legislation, 1929, as stated in paragraph 43 of Cmd. 3479?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) on the 13th February, to which I am not in a position to add anything.

Agriculture

Potato Industry

60.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what sum has been allocated by the Empire Marketing Board to the present campaign on behalf of home-grown potatoes respectively as Press advertising and other forms of publicity; and whether he can say what has been the response to the board's efforts in this direction?

It is not the normal practice to assign fixed sums from the Empire Marketing Board for the advertisement of particular commodities, and no such assignment has been made in respect of home-grown potatoes. It is not possible to make any estimate of direct results accruing from the publicity which the board have given to this subject, as it is part of their general scheme for promoting the marketing of Empire produce from home and overseas.

Does the hon. Member not think in the particular circumstances that he might do a little more on behalf of the Government to facilitate better publicity on these matters?

May I ask whether we are encouraging the Colonies to do for us what we are now doing for them in the way of advertising goods?

89.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will accede to the appeal made by farmers, landowners, smallholders and farm workers that importation of new, or luxury, potatoes be suspended pending investigation into the risk of diseases being introduced by them and in order that stocks of home-grown potatoes may be sold before they go to waste?

Prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of potatoes into this country have already been imposed under the Destructive Insects and Pests Acts where there is danger of the introduction of pests or diseases into this country, and in all cases where importation is allowed the potatoes are required to be accompanied by an official certificate of health. Prohibitions and restrictions on economic grounds are precluded by the International Convention for the Abolition of Import and Export Prohibitions and Restrictions, ratified by the late Government.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the list of diseases is increasing, and that unless suspension is made very soon the stocks of potatoes at home will go to waste?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are constantly reviewing this matter and that the restrictions with regard to disease are very strictly adhered to.

When the right hon. Gentleman always refers to the acts of the late Government, is it because the present Government have no policy of their own?

The Convention was concluded by the late Government, and it cannot be dispensed with until June, 1931.

In view of the fact that the United States and Canada are keeping out British potatoes merely on the ground that there is danger of the importation of disease, has not the hon. Gentleman yet received sufficient indication that there is a positive danger of disease being introduced into this country by the importation of potatoes from France?

I have already said that we are continually investigating these cases and that the prohibitions are most strictly adhered to. If the hon. Member can tell me of any case, I will gladly go into it.

May I further ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the fact that other countries refuse to accept our clean health certificate with regard to potatoes, he will adopt the same course in the interest of the British producers?

When the right hon. Gentleman is considering this matter, will he—

As far as other countries are concerned, of course it is for them to carry out their own undertakings. All that we are responsible for is carrying out our own.

In view of the terrible state of the potato industry in this country, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it is time that we adopted the stringent measures against the foreigners which they are adopting against us?

I can only reply that our action in this matter is prescribed by the International Convention which was concluded by the last Government. As far as we are concerned, we have not, and cannot obtain, any freedom of action in this or kindred matters until June, 1931.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he is considering this matter, to bear in mind that it is not only a question of the Convention, but of a great deal of employment which is given in the ports in connection with the importing of potatoes, and that very important business interests are involved?

Pig Industry

61.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion. Affairs whether it is the intention of the Empire Marketing Board to consider the recommendations contained in the Second Interim Report of the Pig Industry Council with a view to increasing the consumption of home-produced pig-meat?

The recommendations contained in the Report in question were addressed primarily to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and not to the Empire Marketing Board. A substantial annual grant to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is provided out of the Empire Marketing Fund for the improvement of methods of marketing home produce, but the Empire Marketing; Board is not in general directly concerned with the carrying out of any recommendations to that end.

Empire Settlement

62.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs the number of persons rejected during the previous 12 months by the Canadian Government doctors as unfit for migration to Canada?

The total number of persons rejected in this country on medical examination as "prohibited immigrants" under the Canadian Immigration Law during 1929 was 1,289. In addition 9,523 persons were certified owing to physical defects as unsuitable, though not prohibited, migrants, but of this number 3,436 were subsequently permitted to proceed, after the Dominion authorities had satisfied themselves that the arrangements for their settlement in Canada were satisfactory, and on 21st February 431 were still under consideration. The total number of persons finally rejected up to that date was, therefore, 6,945. The total number of persons examined was 86,793.

Can the hon. Member say whether the large number of rejections is caused through the increased standard of fitness required by the Canadian authorities?

Seeing the enormous number of people who are rejected, will the hon. Member bear in mind that the best way of really dealing with unfit citizens is the establishment of nursing schools and welfare centres in crowded areas?

May I ask if the hon. Member is satisfied that the expense to which intending migrants are put in connection with this medical examination is reduced to the minimum?

Air Services (Australia And India)

63.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when he now expects the establishment of an air mail service from this country to Australia; and whether arrangements have been made with the Netherlands Government for the use of the landing grounds, aerodromes and facilities for flying boats in the Dutch East Indies for this purpose?

As regards the first part of the question, I cannot as yet give a definite date. The answer to the second part is in the negative.

Are negotiations in progress with the Netherlands Government as to facilities?

There is no trouble anticipated in the negotiations with Holland, especially in view of the fact that the Dutch have had facilities from us at Singapore.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some hesitation is being experienced in granting facilities to the Dutch for further flights, and will the hon. Member look into the matter in view of possible reprisals?

There is a good deal of misapprehension in regard to this matter. The matter is under the jurisdiction of the Indian Government, and the Indian Government have simply said to the British as well as the Dutch that until meteorological, wireless and ground arrangements are complete, it is inadvisable to have these flights.

64.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why, in the Imperial Airways London-to-India air route, it is necessary to proceed to Athens by rail; when it is expected that the air route to India will be available by air throughout; what action is being taken; and whether there is any shortage of aircraft?

It having been found impossible up to the present to conclude with the Italian Government arrangements which were commercially satisfactory to Imperial Airways., Ltd., for the permanent operation of the air route to Athens via Genoa and Naples, the company have diverted the service for the present to a central European route. Until more experience has been gained of this new route, and in order to ensure as far as possible regularity in the arrival of mails, the company deemed it advisable during the winter months to send the mails by train between Cologne and Athens on the outward journey and between Athens and Paris on the return journey. The company hope to be in a position to carry out regular flights over this route in the spring. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.

Transport

Automatic Signals

65.

asked the Minister of Transport whether his recent reports from the provinces on the various systems of electric automatic traffic signals show that they are meeting with success; are similar experiments in the Metropolitan area under consideration; and can he give particulars?

So far as I am aware the experiments made in the provinces with automatic traffic signals are generally giving satisfactory results, but it is important that the apparatus should be of a suitable type and that the signals should only be erected where the best results are likely to be obtained. Arrangements are being made to carry out an experiment with signals of this nature in Oxford Street.

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many automatic signals are at present in use in the Metropolitan area?

There is some difficulty on that point, as to the capacity of English manufacturers to manufacture according to requirements at the present moment, and it may be necessary to experiment with imported articles. As soon as the experimental stage is passed we shall be able to make suitable arrangements with British manufacturers.

Would it be right to say that every single one now in use is made abroad?

Ewell And Epsom By-Pass

66.

asked the Minister of Transport whether in view of the proposal to make a by-pass road to avoid Ewell, he will consider the advisability of dealing with the town of Epsom at the same time and make a road which will by-pass both Ewell and Epsom?

The suggestion put forward by the hon. and gallant Member was fully considered before the line of the Ewell by-pass was determined.

In view of the strong feeling on the subject is it possible for the hon. Gentleman to send a representative to inspect this road again with a view to the matter being reconsidered?

All the local authorities concerned are, I believe, in communication with the Ministry, and their representations have been and will be considered. I would point out that the congestion of traffic in Epsom High Street, particularly on race days, will be materially relieved by the new road which will be opened shortly.

Railway Accident, Rutherglen

67.

asked the Minister of Transport if his attention has been called to the railway accident which occurred at Rutherglen on 17th February, when 51 people were injured; if he has made any investigations into the cause of this accident; and what steps are being taken in order to avoid such disasters in the future?

An inquiry has already been ordered into the causes of this accident and I will give careful consideration to any recommendations which may be made as a result of that inquiry.

Blind And Deaf Pedestrians

68.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will consider the issue by his Department, or by local authorities, of conspicuous and distinctive armlets to be worn by the blind and the totally deaf for the avoidance of traffic accidents, as is done in Canton Vaud and elsewhere in Switzerland?

I have no power to take the action suggested by the hon. Member.

Port Glasgow (West Harbour)

70.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the quay wall of the west harbour at Port Glasgow is in need of repair; what are the estimated costs of the necessary repairs; and whether the funds of the harbour trust are sufficient to meet them?

I have been in communication with the Port Glasgow Harbour Trustees and am informed that the west harbour at Port Glasgow has silted up and that, in the opinion of the trustees, owing to its narrow entrance and lack of proper accommodation, further expense on the harbour would not be justified. The trustees have accordingly disposed of this harbour to the Port Glasgow Town Council for conversion into a recreation ground. They state that the mid and east harbours which remain under their control are more than ample for the requirements of shipping.

Motor Bicycles (Number Plates)

71.

asked the Minister of Transport if it is intended in any way to alter the present regulations relating to the size of motor-bicycle number plates?

Notice of my intention to amend the present regu- lations was given in the London and Edinburgh Gazettes of the 24th January, and I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the draft Regulations which I propose to make, subject to any amendments which may be made as the result of representations put forward within the prescribed limit of time.

Is the Minister of Transport aware that the proposed increase in size will mean that all present stocks will have to be scrapped and that motor cyclists will have to buy new plates and new lamps, which will mean a loss of thousands of pounds not only to cyclists, but to manufacturers as well?

I am aware of the objections which motor cyclists and the trade have to the change, and, before making the change, I met representatives of the trade and the motor cyclists' organisations and discussed the matter with them. One must take into account their objections, but I must also take into account the insistent demand of the police that the number plates should be adequate in size.

London Underground Railways Services (Extension)

72.

asked the Minister of Transport if his attention has been called to the possibility of relieving passenger traffic congestion by the extension of underground services which at present end at New Cross, Southern Railway, and New Cross Gate, Southern Railway; and whether he will bring to the notice of the appropriate authority this means of reaching the rapidly growing suburbs of Kent and Surrey?

This matter has been considered on previous occasions, but I will again bring it to the notice of the railways concerned.

Railway Passenger Rolling Stock

74.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in the interests of public safety, he has made representations to the railway companies upon the matter of substituting steel for wood in the construction of passenger rolling stock; and, if so, what progress has been made in this direction?

I have made representations to the railway companies in regard to this matter and under- stand that they are building a number of steel coaches, the results of which are being carefully watched.

Railway Passenger Service, Harringay

75.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the congestion of passenger traffic at Harringay; and if he will communicate with the London and North Eastern Railway Company with a view to a tube station being built at this part of the new route about to be opened up north of Finsbury Park?

I will bring my hon. Friend's suggestion to the notice of the London Electric Railway Company.

Motor Traffic

76.

asked the Minister of Transport how many Orders made by his Department totally prohibiting mechanically-propelled vehicles on certain highways are now operative; and the total mileage of the highways involved?

There are now in operation 13 Orders made under Section 7 (4) of the Roads Act, 1920, totally prohibiting mechanically-propelled vehicles. The total mileage of roads involved is 23.

77.

asked the Minister of Transport how many Orders made by his Department limiting the speed of mechanically-propelled vehicles on certain highways to a maximum of 10 miles are now operative: and the total mileage of the highways involved?

The total number of Regulations made under Section 9 (1) of the Motor Car Act, 1903, limiting the speed of motor cars to 10 miles an hour, is 226. Of these 12 have been made since 1919 by the Minister of Transport. The other 214 Orders were made by the Local Government Board in whom the powers to make these Regulations were originally vested. I am unable to state the total mileage of highways involved.

Does not the answer indicate that the Ministry of Transport is a much more enlightened body than the Local Government Board?

The answer indicates that the Ministry of Transport is much more reserved in granting powers than the old Local Government Board.

Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to see that these Orders are enforced; and that where they are unnecessary they will be taken off?

The first point of the hon. and gallant Member's question is a matter for the Home Secretary. The second point is somewhat involved, and various considerations arise in connection with the Road Traffic Bill now before the House.

Tyne (Cross-River Traffic)

78.

asked the Minister of Transport if an engineer has been appointed to advise on a crossing of the River Tyne between South Shields and Tynemouth; and, if so, will he give the name of such engineer?

The Town Councils of South Shields and Tynemouth were advised in December last of the offer of a grant towards the cost of an engineering investigation, but I have not yet been furnished with the name of the engineer whom they propose to appoint.

Are negotiations going on between the Minister's Department and the local authority concerned with regard to the appointment referred to?

We do not, of course, submit a particular name, but we have suggested a panel of names to the local authority for consideration. Up to the present we have not received a reply from the local authority.

Motor Vehicles (Accidents)

92.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can give the comparative figures for the quarters ended 30:. September and 31st December, 1929, showing the numbers of fatal accidents in England in which the following classes of motor vehicles were involved: motor cycles, private cars, trade, commercial, and general passenger vehicles?

I regret I am not in a position to give these figures for the country as a whole.

Has my hon. Friend any information to show or suggest that accidents which involve motor cycles are on the increase?

I shall look into the matter, and any information that the hon. Member can give me will be considered.

Electricity Supplies

West Renfrewshire

69.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will take steps to expedite the introduction of electric light in the area of West Renfrewshire covered by the powers given to the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company, particularly in the Kilbarchan and Milliken Park district that have not yet been furnished with any such supply?

The authorised distributors for the West Renfrewshire area, namely, the Strath-clyde Electricity Supply Company, Limited, are already providing supplies in each of the parishes included in the area of supply under their Order of 1925. With regard to the Kilbarchan and Milliken Park district, I understand that the result of a canvass made by the company a few months ago was not regarded as very promising in relation to the capital expenditure required for providing a supply in that district; and that the prospect" of a supply are dependent on housing development at Milliken Park.

Battersea Power Station

73.

asked the Minister of Transport the present position concerning the Battersea electric power station; and whether he has received any further report on the matter?

I understand that the London Power Company hope to complete early in March the experiments with the full-sized washing plant referred to in my answer on the 29th January, and will then submit a further report.

May I ask whether the work is still proceeding on the original site of the Battersea Power Station?

The sanction given in respect of one-third of the station during the time when the right hon. and gallant Member was Minister of Transport is proceeding. The question in dispute is whether any further sections of the station will be allowed to be erected.