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Commons Chamber

Volume 236: debated on Thursday 6 March 1930

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 6th March, 1930.

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

Private Business

Private Bills (Standing Orders not previously inquired into complied with),

Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table Report from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That in the case of the following Bill, referred on the Second Reading thereof, the Standing Orders not previously inquired into, which are applicable thereto, have been complied with, namely:

London Midland and Scottish Railway (No. 2) Bill.

Bill committed.

Oral Answers To Questions

Aliens

Domestic Servants

1.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of permits that have been issued during the previous 12 months, under Article 1 (3) (6) of the Aliens Order, 1920, in respect to women and girls to enable them to take up domestic work in this country; and can she give the original nationality of these persons?

The number of permits issued in respect of alien women to enable them to enter and to take up domestic work in this country during the year 1929 was 4,151. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving the detail of this total.

Does my right hon. Friend think that it is necessary to bring in 4,000 people under the conditions which exist in this country?

Following is the table:

Permits issued in respect of alien females (women and girls) to enable them to enter and take up domestic work in this country during the year 1929.

From:

America (U.S.A.)1
Austria142
Belgium58
Brazil1
Czechoslovakia62
Denmark636
Holland52
Estonia5
Finland26
France371
Germany491
Greece9
Hungary14
Iceland2
Italy115
Jugo-Slavia7
Latvia5
Luxemburg4
Norway109
Persia1
Poland15
Portugal1
Rumania7
Russia10
Spain13
Sweden142
Switzerland1,852
4,151

Russians (Depoetations)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of undesirable aliens of Russian nationality who have actually been deported since he assumed office; and how many of such persons were ordered for deportation by British Courts previous to the resumption of diplomatic relations?

When I came into office in June last I found outstanding some four cases of reputed Russians recommended by Courts for deportation. Between that date and the end of the year 21 similar cases were recommended, all prior to the resumption of diplomatic relations. The number of deportation orders actually made is two and the aliens concerned have left the country. In 11 cases investigation has definitely failed to establish Soviet Russian or any other alien nationality. In three cases I decided in view of all the circumstances not to order deportation. Investigation is proceeding in the remaining cases, which include a number in which the sentences of imprisonment passed by the Courts have not yet expired.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether those two deportations have taken place since we resumed diplomatic relations with Russia?

Is it not a fact that these men or women are maintained at the expense of this country?

Some of them being in prison, they must necessarily be maintained at our expense.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the date when these two men were deported, and can he say whether he can hold out any hopes that the nationality of the others he mentioned will, in fact, be established?

Unemployment

Training Centres

2.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that admission to training centres is limited almost entirely to depressed mining areas, she will consider an extension of the scheme to enable persons in other areas to have an opportunity of receiving such training in order to assist those men who by the accident of residence outside the mining areas are deprived of the benefits of the scheme?

One of the objects of the centres at which men are trained for other employment in this country is to assist in finding an opening for the marked surplus of labour in the depressed mining areas, and men from such areas must continue for the present to have a definite preference, but the facilities are by no means entirely confined to them. At a recent date, out of 3,596 men at these centres, 1,453 came from areas other than those scheduled as depressed mining areas. There is no corresponding restriction as regards training for overseas.

Will the right hon. Lady give favourable consideration to a considerable extension of the system of training centres, in order to enable those who have been out of work for a long period, and who by the accident of residence are excluded from the scheme, to take advantage of those opportunities of training?

I am giving my closest consideration to those areas that are becoming depressed areas.

5.

asked the Minister of Labour the location of training centres now established in the country, the capital sums expended on equipment, etc., the annual charges, and the number of trainees, men and women, respectively, on 31st January, 1930?

As the reply to this question is somewhat long, I will, with the hon. Members permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL RFPORT.

Following is the reply:

Apart from the provision made for training juveniles, training centres established in the country and administered or financially assisted by the Ministry of Labour are as follow:

1. Men.—A. For employment in this country:

Government Training Centres—Birmingham, Dudley, Wallsend, Bristol, Glasgow, Park Royal, Slough, Watford.

Transfer Instructional Centres—Blackpool, Carshalton, Fermyn Woods, Poole, Presteign.

B. For employment overseas:

Overseas Training Centres—Claydon,* Brandon,* Cranwich, High Lodge, West Tofts, Carstairs. *

* Include a limited number of training places for employment in this country.

2. Women:

Home Training Centres—Annfield Plain, Bishop Auckland, Blaydon, Blyth, Stockton, Gateshead, Jarrow, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, South Shields, Sunderland, Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan, Workington, Cardiff, Pontypridd, Hengoed, Ystrad, Mountain Ash, Aberdare, Pontypool, Maesteg, Abertillery, Swansea, Hamilton, Cowdenbeath, Glasgow, Chatham, Dover, Bristol, Leamington.

Overseas Hostels—Portobello Road, London; Newcastle, Millersneuk, Lenzie; Cardiff.

The capital sums expended on equipment, etc., amount in all to approximately £393,000, and the annual training charges to approximately £610,000.

The number of trainees in training on 31st January, 1930, was as follows:

(1) Men:
Government Training Centres2,912
Transfer Instruction Centres892
Overseas Training Centres868
(2) Women:
Home Training Centres1,135
Overseas Hostels60

Building Trades

3.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed in the building industry at the last convenient date; and the number of unemployed at the same date last year?

At 27th January, 1930, there were 149,403 insured persons classified as belonging to the building industry recorded as unemployed in Great Britain, as compared with 159,219 at 21st January, 1929.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that later figures were mentioned last week in another place by the Government spokesman?

The right hon. Lady realises, of course, how serious this matter is. How does she account for it?

Is it not a fact that the building industry is overloaded with employés owing to the late Government breaking an agreement entered into in 1924?

Benefit And Domiciliary Relief

4.

asked the Minister of Labour the total amount of money paid for unemployment relief for the year 1929?

During 1929 approximately £44,400,000 was paid to claimants for unemployment benefit. In addition about £6,000,000 was paid as domiciliary relief to able-bodied unemployed persons.

Cotton Industry

7.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of male and female cotton operatives in the spinning and weaving sections who were registered as unemployed at the latest convenient date?

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

Will the right hon. Lady say if there is a larger number of unemployed in the cotton industry to-day than ever before under similar circumstances?

in the tea-room, a diagram, which I know exists, showing the position of the unemployment figure as between different trades and in different towns?

If the right hon. Lady finds that what I say is correct, will she impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer the necessity of instituting a policy of Safeguarding?

Following is the statement:

MEN and WOMEN classified as belonging to the COTTON INDUSTRY on the Registers of Employment Exchanges in the 57 principal cotton trade centres at 27th January, 1930.
Department.Wholly unemployed.Temporarily stopped.Totals.
Men.Women.Total.Men.Women.Total.
Card and Blowing Room9155,3526,2671,2996,8768,17514,442
Spinning5,2674,3969,6638,4586,90115,35925,022
Beaming, Winding and Warping.9424,3015,2432,10111,46413,56518,808
Weaving2,8319,24712,0783,16710,14013,30725,385
Other processes6442008443893317201,564
Total10,59923,49634,09515,41435,71251,12685,221

Transfer Of Labour

8.

asked the Minister of Labour the general effect upon the local unemployment figures in the districts to which migration has taken place on account of the working of the system of industrial transference?

The number of men transferred from the depressed areas is regulated by the absorptive capacity of the receiving districts. The general effect of transference on the figures of unemployment in those districts is therefore negligible.

Did not the right hon. Lady say that this effect was not negligible a little while ago? When did she discover that it was negligible?

Were the fears of the Government when they were in opposition groundless?

Insurance (Reciprocal Arrangements)

9.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she intends to make reciprocal arrangements for unemployment insurance with other countries on lines similar to those recently made with Switzerland?

I shall be quite happy to make a similar arrangement with any other country which is in the same position as Switzerland to make such an arrangement and desires to do do.

Has the right hon. Lady thought of the possibility of making such arrangements with Germany, where they have an unemployment insurance scheme not entirely dissimilar from ours?

I think that it is perhaps not sufficiently understood what is the arrangement. The arrangement is that these nationals are treated equally with ours if they are resident, and can qualify otherwise under the same conditions.

Exchanges

10.

asked the Minister of Labour which are the 13 Employment Exchanges which have been authorised and completed since May, 1929?

The 13 Employment Exchanges completed and occupied since May, 1929, are as follow:

  • Basford.
  • Morriston.
  • Workington.
  • Kingston-on-Thames.
  • Barnsley.
  • Todmorden.
  • Walham Green.
  • Stamford.
  • Failsworth.
  • Clapham Junction (Battersea).
  • Pontypool.
  • Mansfield.
  • Runcorn.
The decision to erect these new premises was in every case taken before May, 1929, but the rate of progress in building has been substantially accelerated since that date.

What steps is the right hon. Lady taking with regard to opening Employment Exchanges in those towns where unemployment is so rife owing to the action of the present Government with regard to Safeguarding?

What are the Exchanges to which the right hon. Lady refers, which were both initiated and completed under the present Government's regime?

I think that was a misunderstanding. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will see that I said nothing of the kind.

I am in the memory of some hon. Members on this side that the right hon. Lady used the word "initiated."

No, the questioner, I think, intended to use the word "initiated." I said that they had been opened since the Government came into office.

13.

asked the Minister of Labour the salary paid to branch managers who are appointed to areas which have no Employment Exchange; whether these branch managers are responsible for engaging their staffs; and, if so, are they compelled to pay wages at the same standard as that which operates in the case of those directly employed by the Ministry of Labour?

The fixed remuneration of branch managers ranges from £20 per annum plus Cost-of-Living bonus for a normal volume of work of four hours per week, to £200 per annum plus bonus for a normal volume of work of 40 hours per week. In addition, special allowances are paid for work in excess of the normal. Branch managers are responsible for providing any staff necessary for the performance of Ministry of Labour work, and it is stipulated that the remuneration and conditions of service of staff so employed shall be not less favourable than those given by good employers in the district.

Has the right hon. Lady any returns showing what are the rates paid to those people who are employed in this way?

Shipwrights And Boileemakers

11.

asked the Minister of Labour if she is now in a position to give any information with regard to the average length of the spells of employment obtained by shipwrights and boilermakers?

I regret that I am not yet in a position to give any information on this point.

Shall I put another question down, or will the right hon. Lady send me the information?

The difficulty is that there is only one point at which I can make the necessary inquiries, and I am having that done.

Insurance Fund (Overdraft)

12.

asked the Minister of Labour the present rate of interest charged on the overdraft of the Unemployment Insurance Fund?

Having regard to the conditions of the money market, does the right hon. Lady consider that an equitable rate?

Juveniles

14.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of advisory committees in connection with Employment Exchanges for the purpose of placing juveniles in employment; and whether reports of their work are presented each year?

The number of advisory committees for juvenile employment at present operating in connection with the Employment Exchanges is 174. Each of these Committees presents annually a report to the Minister. The majority of the reports for the year 1929 have already been received, and in accordance with the usual practice a summary of the reports will be published.

Is the right hon. Lady satisfied that most of these advisory committees serve no useful purpose?

Home Office (Women Administrative Officers)

15.

asked the Home Secretary whether there are any women now employed on the administrative staff of the Home Office; and can he state at what intervals do the examinations take place for the recruitment of these positions?

There is one woman assistant principal of the administrative grade employed in the Home Office. The examinations for posts of this grade in the Civil Service are held annually in the summer of each year.

Police

London Women Police (Uniform)

16.

asked the Home Secretary if he will, in the interests of law and art, consider making an alteration in the present uniform of the London women police?

I would refer to the reply I gave on the 13th February, to which I have nothing to add at present.

Robbery (Compensation Claim)

17.

asked the Home Secretary whether he has yet been able to discover any means by which compensation can be given to Mrs. Sylvia Machin, of Ilford, who was robbed by a Metropolitan police constable when on duty on his beat, in view of the fact that Mrs. Sylvia Machin is not pecuniarily able to sue the police?

I have looked further into this matter with every desire to take a sympathetic view. According to my information Mrs. Machin stated, after the arrest of the constable, that she had lost two rolls of shirting valued by her at £7. One roll, valued at £1 5s. Id., was identified as her property and returned to her. Therefore the loss that she suffered as a direct consequence of the constable's action was limited, according to her own statement, to £5 14s. 11d. It is true that she said she had lost a contract, but it appears that that was due to her having failed to insure against burglary—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—as required by the terms of the contract. She has now insured and recovered the contract. I am further advised that she clearly has no legal claim upon the police inasmuch as it is a well established principle of law that no employer, whether public or private, has any liability for a criminal act of his servant, committed outside the scope of the servant's authority and indeed in violation of his authority. To depart from this principle would be an innovation, the effect of which might extend far beyond the Metropolitan Police, and I can only say that I have been unable to find in the circumstances of the case anything that would justify me in proposing such a departure.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, as a result of the burglary, this poor woman lost her employment for many months, and, therefore, that her loss has been much more than that of the few yards of cloth referred to? She has lost £5 per week in wages for many weeks. In view of the fact that compensation has been given by the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest, cannot compensation be given where a policeman in uniform and on his beat robs a poor woman like this?

I have said, in answer to previous questions, that in no like case is there any precedent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Then make one!"] I understand that hon. Members believe that very serious loss has been suffered by this woman. I have no evidence of it. If hon. Members can furnish me with any proof of any such loss, I will try to find a way of affording some recompense.

May I point out that I sent a long letter from Mrs. Machin to the right hon. Gentleman? I have no doubt he kept a copy of it, but he kindly returned it to me. In this letter, the whole of her loss is set out, together with the facts that she has several children, that she is separated from her husband, is entirely responsible for the maintenance of her children and herself, has lost her house because she cannot pay the rent, and is now living with a brother-in-law.

The Home Office cannot accept statements in a letter as proof. But I shall be glad to discuss the terms of that letter with my hon. Friend.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say on a previous occasion that he was anxious to meet the views of the House? Is he still prepared to do so?

I said on a former occasion as well as to-day that if any evidence is afforded of anything approaching a condition of ruin I will make further endeavours to afford some recompense for her loss.

Royal Irish Constabulary Force Fund

22.

asked the Home Secretary when the Royal Irish Constabulary Force Fund is wound up, what it is proposed to do with the surplus remaining?

No, Sir. The process of winding up the fund cannot be completed for many years to come and it will be for the Government of the day to decide how any balance of assets should be dealt with; but I must point out that when in 1891 the fund was in danger of becoming insolvent, it received an Exchequer Grant of £150,000, on the express condition that any balance remaining to the credit of the fund after all its liabilities had been discharged should be returned to the Treasury.

British And Foreign Police (Reciprocal Facilities)

24.

asked the Home Secretary whether it is intended to provide foreign police officers with facilities at Scotland Yard; and if similar facilities are being offered abroad to English police officers?

28.

asked the Home Secretary whether it is proposed to accommodate at Scotland Yard detectives from the police headquarters of Paris and Berlin; whether officials of the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard are to be installed at the headquarters of the Paris and Berlin police; and, if so, whether he can state the purpose of these developments?

It has for many years been the practice to afford to accredited foreign police officers facilities to acquaint themselves with the procedure and organisation of the Metropolitan Police. Similarly, officers of the Metropolitan Force who have visited foreign forces from time to time have always been given every possible assistance. There has been no recent change of practice or procedure in these respects, and none is contemplated.

May we assume that the same facilities will be given to Russian police as to German and French police?

International Conferences

25.

asked the Home Secretary if this country is participating in an international police organisation; and if he can give the House some information on this subject?

Apart from international conferences—of a purely deliberative character—which representatives of the police have attended from time to time, I know of nothing that could be described as an international police organisation.

Refugees' Passport Certificates (Nansen Stamp)

18.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the advantages accruing from the use of the Nansen stamp system in connection with the passport certificate issued to refugees; and whether he will take early steps to introduce it in this country?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It was indicated at the last Assembly of the League of Nations that His Majesty's Government were prepared to adopt the scheme, and the method of its application in this country is now under consideration.

Street Accidents, London

19.

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

NUMBER OF PERSONS KILLED.

Metropolitan Police District and City of London.

Mechanically Propelled Vehicles.Quarter ended 30th September, 1929.Quarter ended 31st December, 1929.
M.P.D.City of London.Total.M.P.D.City of London.Total.
Motor cycles71715555
Private cars8888145145
Trade, commercial, etc.11231151313134
Cabs121212113
Omnibuses and tramcars3232473*50*
31533183907*397*

* Includes 1injured in the quarter ended 31st March, 1929.

Jury Service (Elected Representatives)

20.

asked the Home Secretary if he will consider making an amendment to the Juries Acts, 1825 to 1922, extending the exemptions from jury service so as to include elected representatives serving on borough, county, or district councils?

23.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the possibility of freeing from jury service elected representatives of the people serving as borough, county, or district councillors?

I do not see my way to propose legislation for extending the exemptions from jury service.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very strong feeling on the part of those who serve on local authorities that some recompense should be given to them in this respect for the time and service which they give to local government?

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us some reason why this exemption should not be afforded to these people?

The reply can best be given in tabular form, and with the hon. Member's permission I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

At present, they are exempt from serving upon county juries. I can only say that at present I am unable to propose any other relief.

Deaths (Starvation And Exposure)

21.

asked the Home Secretary the number of verdicts of death from want, exposure, etc., returned during the years 1927, 1928, and 1929?

100 in 1927; 95 in 1928. The figures for 1929 are not yet available. The numbers stated may include some deaths not due to destitution and some where destitution, exposure or self-neglect aggravated disease.

Easter (Stabilisation)

26.

asked the Home Secretary whether any opinions have been officially expressed by any Church or other Christian body, within the meaning of Section 2 (2) of the Easter Act, 1928; and, if so, what are those opinions?

I will circulate a statement on the subject, so far as I am in a position to do so, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

Summary Of Replies

England and Wales.

Church of England:

Both convocations agree to the date proposed in the Act in the event of general ecclesiastical concurrence.

Church of Wales:

No objection, subject to general agreement among the churches.

Governing Body, Wesleyan Methodists:

No objection, subject to general agreement among the churches.

Primitive Methodist Church, General Committee:

Heartily approve.

Baptist Union, General Secretary:

No objection.

Congregational Union, Assembly:

No objection.

United Methodists Church, Connexional Committee:

No objection.

Scotland.

(Communicated by the Secretary of State for Scotland.)

Church of Scotland:

Express no opinion.

United Free Church:

Express no opinion.

Reformed Presbyterian Church:

Express no opinion.

Free Presbyterian Church:

Express no opinion.

Episcopal Church:

Approve.

Congregationalists:

Approve.

Baptists:

Approve.

Northern Ireland.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretary.)

Church of Ireland:

Agree if the other great religious bodies in the kingdom do so.

Methodists:

Approve.

Presbyterians:

Approve.

Baptists:

No objection.

Communist Publication

29.

asked the Home Secretary whether it is upon his instructions that copies of Inprecorr are not delivered; and, if so, for what reason this publication of the Communist International is detained?

Copies of this periodical have for some time past been stopped under the authority of a Secretary of State's Warrant to the Postmaster-General on the ground that its circulation in this country would be contrary to the public interest.

Industrial Diseases (Silicosis)

30.

asked the Home Secretary if, following the recent Report on the conditions of silicosis, further legislation is being prepared; and if he can give any information as to when the Bill will be presented to the House?

Yes, Sir. A Bill is being prepared and while I cannot pledge the Government I hope that it may be presented to Parliament before the end of the present month.

31.

asked the Home Secretary if he can give particulars of the committee which has been appointed by the Medical Research Council further to investigate pulmonary silicosis, and other pulmonary conditions arising from industrial processes; and if he can indicate the scope of the inquiry?

The appointment of this Committee and the scope of their inquiry were announced in the Press of the 22nd February. The Committee will advise on the further investigation of pulmonary silicosis and of other pulmonary conditions associated with the inhalation of dust3 arising from industrial processes. It will be their duty to survey the whole field and to advise the council on new lines of inquiry that may be profitably pursued, and they will assist in the supervision of such investigations as it may be decided to initiate or support. The work will be directed particularly towards obtaining, in co-operation with the Factory Department, more accurate knowledge of the causes and diagnosis of silicosis and of other industrial pulmonary disorders.

Workers' International Relief (Document)

33.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to a document, dated 28th February, 1930, and circulated by the Workers' International Relief, British section; and, in view of the fact that statements in this document are calculated to lead to a breach of the peace, will he consider if he can institute proceedings?

I have seen a copy of the document to which I think the hon. Member refers. As at present advised I do not think that the case is one which calls for action with a view to proceedings.

Have the activities of this organisation anything to do with the number of extra police in the streets to-day?

Demonstrations of the kind referred to are sometimes made more successful by those measures.

Russia

Arcos Limited (Discharged Employes)

34.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a large number of employés of Arcos Limited, the Russian trade delegation in London, had been on 17th February discharged from their employment; whether any of these discharged employés are Russian subjects; and, if so, whether they have returned to Russia or are now upon the British labour market?

The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. I am causing inquiry to he made in regard to the last part.

Religious Situation (Intercessory Prayers)

45.

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the controversy regarding intercessory services on the religious situation in Russia, the Government will arrange for the cancellation of all church parades on Sunday, 16th March, as part of the routine compulsory for the naval, military, and air forces, and issue instructions that all ranks of the forces shall be at liberty to attend, or refrain from attending, church services which may otherwise be available to them?

I am happy to say that it looks as though the matter can be satisfactorily settled on the lines indicated in the answer which I gave on Tuesday last in reply to a Private Notice question by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.

May I ask how the Prime Minister's pledge, given in this House, of full spiritual liberty, can be fulfilled if officers and men are compelled to attend parades and services at which even chaplains to the Forces have announced their intention to insist on making their protest?

We shall have to observe what happens. I am very unwilling, in connection with this subject, to raise the whole question of compulsory parades, which will be raised if the matter is not satisfactorily settled on this occasion.

Is not the Prime Minister aware that, if he allows the present position to obtain, men will be compelled against their will to go and listen to these intercessory prayers, and does he consider that to be a means of ensuring full spiritual liberty?

May I ask, quite irrespective of this particular issue of an intercessory service, what the Labour Government are doing, anyway, to compel soldiers and sailors to go to church whether they want to go or not?

Is there a single man in His Majesty's Services that would object to these intercessory prayers?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall take an early opportunity of raising this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Education

Staffing

35.

asked the President of the Board of Education what steps are being taken to ensure that a sufficient number of additional teachers are being trained in preparation for the raising of the school-leaving age?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave on the 6th and 13th February in answer to similar questions by the hon. Members for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) and East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall), of which I am sending her copies.

Reorganisation Schemes

36.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has received schemes of reorganisation from Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle; and whether these schemes cover the school population under the control of these authorities?

The programme which has been received from the Liverpool Authority deals only with the year 1930–31 and therefore contains only an instalment of the Authority's general scheme of reorganisation. I have not yet received the Manchester programme but expect it very shortly. The programme submitted by the Newcastle Authority provides for a scheme of reorganisation covering the whole school population under their control.

Married Women Teachers

37.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he can state the number of local education authorities which permit women to continue teaching after marriage; and the total number of married women teachers now in employment by local education authorities?

I regret that I have no information showing how many local education authorities have regulations permitting women teachers to continue in employment after marriage. On the 31st March, 1929, there were 12,280 married women employed as teachers by local education authorities.

Maintenance Allowances

38.

asked the President of the Board of Education, whether he can now make a further statement upon the main principles upon which need will be assessed in deciding the eligibility for maintenance of children under the Bill for raising the school-leaving age?

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate when he will be able to make a statement on this important matter having regard to the general public interest taken in regard to it?

I am not sure when the committee meet again, and I do not quite know what they will do.

School-Leaving Age

39.

asked the President of the Board of Education if he has received from any local education authorities representations that the poverty of their district will prevent them from carrying out the necessary requirements for the compulsory raising of the school age in 1931; and, if so, what action he proposes to take in such cases?

47.

asked the President of the Board of Education if he has any information as to the school-leaving age in Turkey?

I am informed that in Turkey attendance at school is compulsory until at least the age of 12.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the school-leaving age in Turkey has been raised to 16?

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to ascertain whether my information is correct?

I will make further inquiries. I do not know whether my hon. Friend wants to use it in argument.

Senior Boys (Men Teachers)

40.

asked the President of the Board of Education, as there are three times as many women teachers in public elementary schools in England and Wales as men teachers, if he will take steps to see that boys over 14 years of age when the school age is raised compulsorily shall be taught by men teachers only?

I have no doubt that local authorities and managers will be generally anxious to have a large number of men teachers for the older boys in the schools.

The question to which I want an answer is whether the right hon. Gentleman will see that these boys are always taught by men teachers. I do not think that this question should be left to the action of the local authorities, and it is a matter which ought to be dealt with by the Board of Education.

The system under which we are working is that the local authorities use their own judgment in the matter.

Is the President of the Board of Education going to take any special steps to see that men teachers are provided?

I stated quite recently that the extra teachers who are being trained in the colleges this year have a larger proportion of men than usual.

Is it the policy of His Majesty's Government to teach the youth of this country by women?

Certainly not. I have already pointed out that the discretion lies with the local education authority.

Is it not the policy of this country to teach the children through the most efficient teachers who are available?

Depressed Districts, Lancashire

41.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, seeing that the Lancashire cotton industry has been suffering for eight years from depression resulting in the closing of several factories and much unemployment, he will consider the desirability of offering special financial consideration to such districts on account of the increased expenditure necessitated by the compulsory raising of the school age in 1931?

I do not think that any special arrangements are necessary. The formula under which grant is paid in respect of elementary education already operates so as to secure that the Exchequer bears an increased proportion of the cost in the poorer areas.

Is the President of the Board of Education not aware that there are districts in Lancashire in such serious financial difficulties that they are exercising their minds about the increase which is being put upon them by the proposals of the Government; and what are the Government going to do to help them out of those financial difficulties?

As a matter of fact a large proportion of the increased cost is provided by the State.

In view of the general interest which is taken in this matter on both sides of the House, does the right hon. Gentleman propose, before a Second Beading is given to this Bill, to issue a White Paper explaining more explicitly than has been done hitherto the principles on which the Bill will proceed?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it has been stated in a report in the "Manchester Guardian" that the textile workers have unanimously called for the raising of the school age in Lancashire?

I think the information which has been asked for will be found in the Financial Memorandum on the Bill.

School Names

42.

asked the President of the Board of Education if he will, where possible, prescribe and elsewhere recommend that primary and other schools be no longed named after the street or road in which they are situated?

No doubt there is often little imagination used in the naming of schools, as of new streets, in our country. But I must leave matters of this kind to the discretion of the local education authorities.

Do I understand from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that there would be no objection on the part of the Board if the change indicated in the question were made?

Certainly. My personal preference would be for more interesting names.

New School, Doncaster (Collapse)

43.

asked the President of the Board of Education if he has completed his inquiries with regard to the collapse of the school in course of erection on the Intake site, Doncaster; and, if so, whether he can state the result of the inquiry?

In accordance with the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend on the 28th November last, I asked the Doncaster Local Education Authority for a report from an independent expert on the stability of the new structure of the Intake School. The authority have now furnished me with a report by a firm of consulting engineers, who state that the necessary repairs and further strengthening measures have been completed to their satisfaction, and that the stability of the school, so far as the structural sufficiency of the steelwork is concerned, is now entirely beyond question.

Is it not the case that this disaster happened owing to the use of foreign steel?

School Attendance Bill

44.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has received a resolution from the Workers' Educational Association, south-western district, representing over 60 branches and groups, and over 2,500 adult students in Devon and Cornwall, urging the Government to proceed immediately with the Education (School Attendance) Bill on the grounds that its passing will contribute considerably to the social, economic and intellectual well-being of the nation; and whether he can state when it is proposed to introduce this legislation?

I have received the resolution referred to. In answer to the second part of the question, I cannot add anything to the answer given by the Prime Minister last week. The Bill has been introduced and is printed.

Non-Provided Schools (Building Grants)

46.

asked the President of the Board of Education when he proposes to make an announcement with regard to the provision of building grants for non-provided schools?

I cannot at the moment say when I shall be able to make a statement on this subject.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this delay in making a statement, in view of the increasing burdens on those responsible for these schools, is placing them in a very difficult position indeed?

The question is extraordinarily difficult, and it is no use trying to hurry it.

Will my right hon. Friend be in a position to make a statement on this matter before his Bill dealing with the school-leaving age has a Second Reading?

I am not in a position to make any statement about it at all at present.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that, if he makes no statement, hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House who have given pledges in regard to that matter will be placed in a very difficult position?

School Buildings (Defects)

48.

asked the President of the Board of Education if there have been any changes since June last in the instruction given to inspectors of schools as to their duties with respect to structural and sanitary defects in school buildings and premises; and if they have a duty to report such defects when they observe them?

The answer to the first part of the question is "No," and to the second part "Yes."

Housing

Southwark

49.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has any recent statistics and can state the present number of condemned houses in the borough of Southwark, and the most recent figures of where more than three persons occupy one room in this borough?

I am informed by the town clerk that there are 635 condemned houses in the borough. As regards the last part of the question, I have no information more recent than that which was published in the report of the census of 1921.

Has my right hon. Friend any information as to how it is intended to re-house these people?

Specifications (British Materials)

50.

asked the Minister of Health the methods adopted by local authorities in order to bring into practice the recommendations of the Minister's Circular Letter 1960 and, in particular, whether local authorities are impressing upon their technical officers and consultants the necessity of specifications being framed in accordance with British practice and British materials?

I have no information of the detailed measures taken by local authorities in this matter, but I have every reason to think that they are acting on the recommendations.

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the fact that the wording of some specifications follows so closely the description of goods manufactured abroad that, in competing with those goods, home manufacturers have been very greatly prejudiced?

Slum Clearance

53.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in order to assist local authorities and to lessen the holding up of slum-clearance and town-planning and improvement schemes, he will circulate the terms of the proposed slum-clearance Bill for their information; and whether the general form of the Bill, including the financial provisions, is now settled?

I do not think that the suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend is a practicable one; I hope to be able to introduce the Bill at an early date.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the case of several Bills, including, presumably, the Transport Bill, the text has been circulated for the information of those concerned, and will he reconsider the matter?

Will the Bill be introduced before Christmas—or rather, before Easter?

54.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Southampton Borough Council has decided to postpone for six months proceeding with five slum-clearance schemes pending forthcoming legislation, and that decision was a result of an interview by representatives of the council with officials at the Ministry of Health who had expressed surprise at such schemes being proceeded with at the present time owing to the possibility of legislation; and when such legislation is likely to be introduced?

At a recent interview with an officer of my Department, the Town Clerk of Southampton was informed that, on account of a decision of the Courts, local authorities were holding up schemes until further legislation had been passed. I have not been informed what decision the town council have reached. I hope to be able to introduce legislation at an early date.

Westminster (Flats)

58.

asked the Minister of Health whether before sanctioning the scheme of the Westminster City Council to erect 814 flats, he will see if the proposal to instal coal fires in each flat for cooking and heating purposes can be reconsidered?

The proposal of this council to erect flats on the Grosvenor Estate and in Ebury Bridge Road, is not one that required any sanction on my part. I will, however, communicate my hon. Friend's suggestion to the council.

Will the right hon. Gentleman not have some regard to the health of the neighbourhood rather than have 814 open fires added in such flats?

Social Insurance (Committee)

51.

asked the Minister of Health if the Cabinet Committee who are considering proposals in connection with social insurance have yet arrived at any conclusions?

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the right hon. Gentleman on the same subject on 23rd January.

What is this Committee doing? What is the reason? Is it the Chancellor of the Exchequer who is stopping this Committee from proceeding with its labours?

The right hon. Gentleman, in spite of his Front Bench position, is acting with all the irresponsibility of a back bencher.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether one side of ministerial responsibility is not to give a plain answer to a plain question?

Public Health

Condensed Skimmed Milk

52.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that tins sold as condensed skimmed milk are not milk at all and are unfit for children, and in some countries are not allowed to be sold as milk, he will take steps to have the designation on these tins changed from milk to milk products?

The composition of the article in question seems to be sufficiently indicated by the present designation, and I do not propose to take any steps to have it altered.

Influenza

63.

asked the Minister of Health if he will state how the number of cases of influenza among the insured population during the months of January and February of this year compare with the number reported for the corresponding period of 1929; and whether he can give the figures approximately?

The information asked for by the hon. Member is not available and could only be obtained by calling for a special return from every one of the 7,000 Approved Societies and branches administering National Health Insurance.

If the hon. Member will put down a question, I will try to give him an answer.

Diphtheria

72.

asked the Minister of Health if he will state how many school children have been immunised and how many inoculated with the intention of preventing diphtheria during 1929?

May we not have statistics in order that we may see whether diphtheria is prevented as a result of inoculation?

Radium

59.

asked the Minister of Health whether any progress has been made in obtaining supplies of radium independently of the present foreign monopoly, and especially from mines and workings within the Empire; and what steps are being taken to this end?

The primary objective is to increase the amount of radium at present available for use in this country, and the Radium Trust has thought it best, with that object, to have recourse to the existing sources of supply, including such supply as is available in this country.

I am quite aware of that fact; but is my right hon. Friend aware that the Committee recommended that an effort should be made to get an independent supply in the Empire?

I understand, though I cannot be responsible for it, that the Committee is considering the question now.

Has the right hon. Gentleman made inquiries as to the Cornish supply and the possibility of increasing it?

60.

asked the Minister of Health at what price radium is now being purchased for medical and surgical purposes in the public welfare; and if he is satisfied that the price charged is a fair one?

I understand my hon. and gallant Friend refers to the purchase of radium by the Radium Trust. The Trust will in due course present their annual report and will doubtless deal in it with the question of their purchases.

Mental Cases

64.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has received any communications from local authorities recommending that mental defectives on leaving institutions should be offered certain advice in regard to the non-desirability of their marriage or, alternatively, that they should, previous to marriage, consent to undergo surgical treatment with a view to the prevention of further propagation of their species; and whether he is prepared to legislate in this direction?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a similar question by the hon. and gallant Member for the Abingdon Division (Major Glyn) on 19th February.

Reconstituted Milk

66.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that at a recent food and cookery exhibition at Olympia, London, reconstituted milk was supplied to members of the public, and that a firm of manufacturers of emulsifying machines have advertised the claim that milk and cream made on their stand was supplied to all the demonstration and competition theatres at that exhibition; and whether, in view of the extended sale of emulsifying machines, he will take prompt steps to remind all food and drugs authorities that the sale of reconstituted milk is illegal?

I have received information to the effect of the first part of the question. The food and drugs authorities are already aware of the statutory provision prohibiting the sale of reconstituted milk as milk, and on the information at present before me I do not think it necessary to address any special communication to them on the subject.