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Volume 236: debated on Tuesday 4 March 1930

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Dockyards (Alternative Work)


asked the Lord Privy Seal when he will be in a position to inform the House of Commons on the nature of the Government scheme for providing alternative employment to men thrown out of work in Government dockyards and private workshops by reason of reductions in naval armaments?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on the 11th February to the hon. Member for North Newcastle (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle), a copy of which I am sending to him.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer did not deal with this particular aspect of the question at all?

On the contrary, I think that the reply then covered this question. The gist of the question was whether any special steps were to be taken to meet the unemployment resulting from the proposed abandonment of certain naval construction. The answer I then gave was "No."

Is it a fact that any schemes for alternative work in the dockyards have been definitely abandoned?

Scottish Wholesale Co-Operative Society (German Machinery)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can now state the result of his inquiries with reference to the recent purchase of German machinery by the Scottish Wholesale Co-operative Society?

My inquiries show that, while it is the normal policy of the society to purchase in this country, there were circumstances connected with this case which called for a departure from that policy.

Has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that there is a real and proper reason for this purchase?

I took the unusual course, when my attention was drawn to this case, to inquire into it personally, especially having regard to the fact that I issued a circular urging the purchase of British goods. I examined the case personally, and I am satisfied that it was entirely Justified.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make special inquiries into the number of foreign cars owned by Members of this House?

Pit Mounds (Levelling)


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is aware that the Association of Midland Local Authorities is still awaiting further proposals from him with reference to the scheme for the levelling of pit mounds in the Black Country; and can he state the reason for the continued delay?

The length of time for which this matter has been under consideration is accounted for by the complexity of the subject and by a desire to go to the limit of what is possible to meet the local authorities. Proposals which must be regarded as the most favourable which can be made, and as final, were sent to the association on the 1st March. I hope the offer will be accepted in the spirit in which it is made, and that there will be no further delay in commencing the work.

Am I to understand that at long last an offer in writing has been actually sent to these local authorities?

Not at long last; but, after long negotiations, we have endeavoured to meet the difficulties of the local authorities. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that their borrowing power is affected, and I have been endeavouring for six months to find ways and means of getting over it.

Liverpool University (Grant)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is prepared to treat Liverpool University as a statutory body of the kind qualified to receive benefit under the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act, 1929, and consider an application from the university for a scheme of improvement involving a grant which would relieve unemployment?

Grants under Part II, Section 4 (3), of the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act, 1929, can be made only to local authorities, and any such statutory bodies as carry on undertakings under statutory powers otherwise than for profit. If the university claim to be eligible under that Section, my right hon. Friend will be glad to consider a statement of their case. Part I of the Act would in any case not be applicable.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman consider applying Part II of this Act to such applications?

As I have already said, it is up to the particular body to establish their claim under the Act. It is not for me either to anticipate that claim or to pre-judge it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman not consider, in view of the suitability of universities to put forward such schemes, undertaking, if necessary, to amend the Act, so as to make it possible; and is he aware that the University of Liverpool have been definitely informed that they are not eligible under the present Act, and that statutory changes would be required?

The answer I gave was that, if any university could establish their claim under the Act, consideration would be given to it. If, however, the hon. Lady informs me that they have made a claim, and that they are not eligible, I cannot promise to alter the Act.

Inland Waterways


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has in view any comprehensive scheme to deal with the inland waterways of this country, and particularly to make the existing canals of value to trade by deepening and widening?

The policy of the Government in regard to this matter was recently explained fully to the House by my hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, on the occasion of the Motion for the Adjournment on the 25th January last.

Government Proposals


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Cabinet Committee who are considering proposals in relation to the mitigation of unemployment have yet arrived at any conclusions?

As the right hon. Gentleman must be aware, it is not the practice to divulge the recommendations of Cabinet Committees.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Chancellor of the Duchy is getting very anxious about this matter, and cannot he give some satisfaction to the House?

Government Policy


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in connection with the mitigation of unemployment, he will consider the raising of a loan for the provision of relief and other works; the grant of pensions to the old workers in industry; a short-term programme of certain economic works; and a long-term programme for the fundamental reorganisation of industry?

The policy of the Government in regard to the relief of unemployment has already been announced to the House.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise the valuable nature of these proposals and the source from which they have been derived; and is he going to give any satisfaction to his colleagues, who are so well and loyally supporting him?

Are we to take it that the full policy of the Government in regard to unemployment has been completely announced?

The hon. Member can take it for granted that the policy of His Majesty's Government has been and will be announced by me.

May we ask the right hon. Gentleman when he announced it, so that we may be able to ascertain what the whole policy of the Government is?

On two or three occasions before the return of the right hon. Gentleman.

Canadian Wheat And British Products (Exchange)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has any statement to make respecting the results of his consultations with the representatives of the Canadian wheat pool?

I have nothing to add to the full statement which I made on this subject on the 25th February, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.

Coal Exports (Canada)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can state the coal area which will supply the 40,000 tons of coal which are to be shipped to Canada; and from what ports in Great Britain the shipment is to be made?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he will be able to make a statement?

I am quite sure the hon. Member will appreciate that these matters must be determined by the particular firms. I was concerned in getting orders for this country, and I was quite impartial as to where the coal came from.

Mossley, Lancashire


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his Department has yet received any schemes for the relief of the unemployment situation from the Mossley Borough Council, Lancashire?

Having regard to the very heavy unemployment in Mossley, I am disappointed to learn that no formal application has yet been submitted by the Mossley Town Council to the Unemploy- ment Grants Committee for a grant towards works for the relief of unemployment.

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate the position in Lancashire as disclosed by the latest unemployment figures?

I have already expressed my disappointment that no application has come from a town suffering so heavily. The figures for Lancashire again this week shows 11,000 odd increase in Lancashire alone.

Is the right hon. Gentleman preparing any schemes for reducing the number of unemployed in Lancashire?

I am in almost daily consultation with the representatives of the cotton trade in Lancashire. The difficulty will be manifest to the whole House. It is one of those cases where no temporary relief can really help the permanent solution.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has made any representation to India about the new Import Duties?

The hon. Member will have seen in the Press the very strong representations made by His Majesty's Government on that side of the question.

Is one of the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman his disagreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer over certain matters?

On the contrary, the friendship between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself would almost equal the unanimity among hon. Members opposite.

Aged Workers (Retirement)


asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will reconsider its decision regarding the voluntary retirement of aged workers in view of the increase in the number of unemployed?

I have nothing to add to the previous replies on this subject

May I ask whether this matter has or has not been before the sub-committee, whether that sub-committee has met, and, if it has come to a conclusion, what are the findings of the Cabinet in respect to that matter?

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman promised work or maintenance just before the last election?