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Post Office

Volume 236: debated on Thursday 6 March 1930

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £995,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1930, for the salaries and expenses of the Post Office, including telegraphs and telephones."

I take it that hon. Members have availed themselves of the opportunity of perusing the Estimates. This supplementary sum has been necessitated by contingencies which could not have been foreseen. If hon. Members will turn to pages 13 and 14 of the Supplementary Estimates they will observe that the chief item to which this Estimate refers is fully explained, and there is no need for me to detain the Committee long in giving further explanations. The first item, salaries and wages, is for a sum of £619,000 and explains itself. A sum of £420,000 is required for the purpose of meeting the continuation of the cost-of-living bonus at the 70 per cent. level. Speaking personally I think that that concession has been much appreciated by all the employés of the Department.

It has already been ruled that the question of the bonus must not be discussed. It is a matter for the Treasury. That was the decision reached a few days ago.

The sum of £199,000 is required to meet extra charges in connection with the Post Office and postal telephones. That expenditure should be welcomed by the Committee, inasmuch as it is due in the main to an increase in circuits, or, to put it in another way, is due to an increase of business. Items under Subheads E1 and E2 are mainly due, again, to an increase of business, both by way of railway transit and road services. It means that we have to pay for railway transit a sum of £70,000 in excess of what was anticipated, and for road contracts an extra £25,000. Under Subhead K, purchase of engineering stores, extra expenditure amounted to £242,000, and in round figures £126,000 of that has been required for making purchases with a view to the expansion of the telephone service and as a result of helping in the relief of unemployment by increasing the underground or telephone ducts and such like in connection with the extension of the service. There was also a sum of £116,000 in reference to the purchase of stores which should have come into the previous year but which fell to be paid in April, and that of course has to be included in this Estimate.

The hon. Gentleman has given a figure of £126,000 which I understand covers two of the items under Subhead K. I should like to know the amount for each of the three items under that subhead?

The total sum in respect of Subhead K for engineering materials is £242,000 and as I have already explained that is made up of two sums of £126,000 and £116,000. I think the Noble Lord has misunderstood me.

My point is that under Subhead K there are three items labelled (a), (b) and (c), but the hon. Gentleman has only given us, so far, two sets of figures. I want him to tell us how much is required for each of these three items.

I will take steps to get those figures and let the Noble Lord have them later. The next important item is a sum of £52,000 which arises from compensation payable in connection with the explosion in High Holborn. The Committee will be interested to know that 200 claims are being paid, that about 100 have been rejected and that 50 are still on hand and the sum of £52,000 is an estimate of the maximum amount that will mature for payment under this head during the financial year. The next item is in respect of wireless broadcasting and the excess sum required is due to the fact that the number of licences in the year 1928–29 proved greater than was anticipated when the original Estimate was sanctioned. The Estimate was based on an anticipated issue of 2,590,000 licences but the actual number issued was 2,716,000, an excess over the Estimate of 126,000. That, I think, is a pleasing aspect of the Estimate and one which will be welcomed by the Committee. The issues during January, February and March were exceptionally heavy. All these various items which I have mentioned would bring the total Estimate up to £1,460,000 but we have Appropriations-in-Aid amounting to £51,000 for services rendered in connection with old age pensions and with widows' and orphans' pensions and other matters. The net amount of the Supplementary Estimate is, therefore, £995,000, and I have briefly outlined its main features.

I do not propose to wander into forbidden ground by seeking to debate the question of the 70 per cent. bonus. I quite understand the ruling of the Chairman on that matter and will obey it, but, as we wish to debate this Estimate, I think the hon. Gentleman ought to supplement his explanation by dissecting this figure of £225,000 which appears under Subhead A 2. The Estimate states that this additional provision is required (1) to meet the cost of retaining the Civil Service bonus at 70 and (2) for a heavier increase than was provided for in postal and telephone traffic and I think the hon. Gentleman ought to tell us how this amount is made up in respect of these two matters. It seems that something more than bonus must have brought this £225,000 into account. Does this mean a heavier increase in the bonus or a heavier increase in the amount of employment than was anticipated, or does it mean that nothing at all was provided for in anticipation of the bonus being retained at 70 for the full year. I think the hon. Gentleman ought also to tell us now what was the amount which came into credit as the result of increased revenue. We require these figures as we proceed with this Debate and I hope he will not defer giving them until the end of the Debate.

I really thought I had made myself clear in the first instance as to the amounts under Subheads A 2 and A 4.

I am referring only to the £225,000, and I wish to know how that sum is divided between these various items.

On a point of Order. May we have an opportunity of hearing what the Assistant Postmaster-General is saying?

I was saying that I think it would probably be better if the hon. Member would give us an opportunity to get those details for which he has asked. In respect of the £199,000, which relates to the increase in the volume of postal and telephone traffic, a sum of £70,000 is in reference to postal traffic and a sum of £129,000 is in reference to telephone traffic. I hope that is clear.

I only want an explanation about this total sum of £225,000 which comes under Subhead A 2. I leave aside altogether the sum of £394,000 under Subhead At I want to know to what extent is the requirement in respect of Civil Service bonus an ingredient in that figure of £225,000, and whether the amount of that ingredient is the difference between the normal 65 per cent. bonus and the 70 per cent. bonus which was granted, or was anything at all provided for in the original Estimate in respect of the bonus? Does this refer to an increase in the ratio of the bonus only, or to an increase in the number of men employed and the amount of wages? We are also told that the increase given as (2) under this Subhead is more than covered by increased revenue and we should like to know what is the amount which came into credit as the result of increased revenue.

I think the hon. Gentleman has not read the details of this item sufficiently fully. He will see that these two Sub-heads A 2 and A 4 are to be taken together, and the bonus relates only to the item (1) under Sub-head A 2, and to Sub-head A 4. The bonus for the London services and the provincial services together amounts to £420,000. The item (2) under Sub-head A 2 deals with an entirely different matter and has no connection with the bonus. It deals with the fact that there was an unexpected increase in postal and telephone traffic over the amount anticipated when the original Estimate was framed. That unexpected increase involved an expenditure of £199,000. The noble Lord, I think, asked how that was divided between telephone and postal expenses and the answer is that £70,000 relates to postal expenses and £129,000 to telephone expenses.

Can the Postmaster-General give me any information as to Sub-head K and as to how this sum of £242,000 is divided between items (a). (b) and (c)?

I cannot at the moment separate the items (a) and (b) of this Subhead but (a) and (b) together relate to the general policy of telephone development not anticipated when this Estimate was originally framed—both rural telephone development and trunk development. Items (a) and (b) together involved an expenditure of £126,000. The other item (c) relates to the carrying over of certain stores and involves an expenditure of £116,000 which makes the total of £242,000.

I should like to extend a cordial welcome to the Assistant Postmaster-General, as this is the first occasion on which he has made an oration here in that capacity. The Postmaster-General has told us more than once that he attaches great importance to House of Commons control over the Post Office, and, in fact, regards it as vital to Post Office efficiency. Therefore, I hope he will not resent it if we inquire closely into the items of this Estimate. I was sorry that he was unable to answer completely the questions which we asked him on the spur of the moment, but no doubt the complete information will be forthcoming before the close of the Debate. It is all the more important that we should take this opportunity of dealing with the Estimate because, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has admitted, the occasions on which hon. Members can examine the Post Office accounts and question the Postmaster-General on his administration are exceedingly rare and though we all have the pleasure of putting down questions to the right hon. Gentleman it is seldom that those questions are reached at Question Time. Therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make the fullest use of this opportunity to give us the information which we require. I hope hon. Members opposite representing the Union of Post Office Workers will also take this opportunity of voicing the point of view of the staff on the various items of Post Office expenditure.

8.0 p.m.

I should like to draw attention to several items which are of an exceptionally varied nature, and to ask certain questions about them, and I am sure that not only the Committee but also the public outside would like to have some information upon them. The Assistant Postmaster-General, in his opening remarks, grouped Items A.2 and A.4 together, and I think, if I may say so, that that was a proper way to present the Estimates. The method, prescribed by Parliamentary procedure, in which Post Office accounts are presented is designed to make it as difficult as possible for any ordinary Member of the House of Commons, especially anyone who has not had inside knowledge of the Post Office, to understand exactly how the money is being spent. The hon. Member is quite right to take A.2 and A 4 together, because together they are a much better classification than they are separate. I asked him how much was for bonus and how much for postal and telephone traffic, and he has been kind enough to give me that information, which is that £70,000 is in respect of unforeseen increase in postal traffic, while £129,000 is in respect of unforeseen telephone traffic.

I notice that there is no mention of the telegraphs. That unhappy service continues to dwindle, and although my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), whose illness, I am sure, everyone in the House regrets very much, was successful in his last year in reducing the loss on that service by half, it is still continuing to lose, and has not lost less than we anticipated. Again, there is no increase in the Savings Bank, and that is an index of—

The Noble Lord is criticising what is not in the Estimate, and, if that is allowed, we may be here till a very late hour discussing what is irrelevant.

I was not criticising it in the least; I was merely drawing attention to the fact that this sum under Subheads A 2 and A 4, which cover all these services, is merely required, apart from the bonus, on account of unforeseen growth in the postal and telephone traffic. In regard to the postal traffic, which shows an increase of £70,000, I should be grateful if the Postmaster-General could tell us how that is actually made up. I think I am right in saying that the Christmas postal traffic this year exceeded all previous records, and also exceeded anticipations. Therefore, I presume that part of this Vote is on account of the extra Christmas traffic.

The Committee must be well aware that in handling Christmas traffic it is necessary for the Post Office to take on a great number of temporary men, and one of the questions that I would like to ask the Postmaster-General is this: Were these men paid at the same rate as they have been paid in previous years, or was any measure of the concession in regard to bonus, which strictly only applies to the established staff, was any concession analogous to that given to the temporary staff taken on at Chris- tmas time? If the established staff of the Post Office have, at the taxpayers' expense, been given a little douceur of £420,000, I am sure we should all wish the temporary staff who come on at christmas time also to have some share of the largess that appears to be going about.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how much of this increased postal traffic was due to the expansion of the air mails. That is a line of postal development which, in my opinion, has the greatest possible opportunities for development in the future. During the administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon, the number of air mail services was doubled—it was raised from 20 to 40—and the traffic carried by aeroplanes, letters and parcels, increased over 100 per cent. I hope that part of the unforeseen expenditure has been due to a further extension of the air mail traffic, and I hope the Postmaster-General will be able to give the Committee an assurance that he will continue the policy of my right hon. Friend in furthering, by all means in his power, the development and extension of the air mail service.

None of these things can be seen from the accounts that are presented to the House of Commons. We can see them, of course, in the Commercial Accounts, which are published about 10 months late, and so are no good for the current year. It is, therefore, necessary to ask the right hon. Gentleman for details on these matters. I do not think I ought to leave the question of the mails without asking the right hon. Gentleman if he can tell us anything further about mail bag losses. He was able to make the other day what I certainly thought a very satisfactory statement on that matter, and I am merely asking if he has anything to add and whether he has any reason to believe that the steps that he has taken, I understand, in carrying out the recommendations of the Committee appointed by the right hon. Member for South Croydon are proving effective.

Then we come to the £129,000 required on account of heavier telephone traffic than was anticipated. The Assistant Postmaster-General did not give us any details at all about that; he merely said it was on account of heavier traffic. We are very glad to hear that the traffic has been heavier, but what sort of increased business does it mean? Does it mean that more exchanges have been opened, that the service has developed more quickly than was anticipated?

We opened a great many more exchanges than were opened by any previous Government, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman has done his best to expedite the opening of exchanges. Or does it mean that he has been employing more operators per exchange? I hope he is not employing fewer operators per exchange. My recent public remarks on the subject of the Post Office, I need hardly say, have brought me a very voluminous correspondence, and it strikes me that almost everybody who gets a wrong telephone number has felt it his duty to write to me about it. But I have got the impression, in my personal experience, that the service in London during the last few months has not been quite as good as it used to be, and I should like to have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that fewer operators have not been employed in relation to the number of calls than used to be employed, and that there has been no false economy in that respect.

Has the increase of £129,000 been spent at all in giving increased mechanical supervision to the automatic exchanges? As the Committee knows, engineers have to be in constant attendance in the automatic exchanges to deal with any fault that may arise or occur. Has the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary to increase the number of engineers in the automatic exchanges? Certainly, we have had far more complaints in regard to the automatic exchanges than we hoped would be the case when they were introduced. I am connected with an automatic exchange in my house, and the only time I really wanted it it has gone wrong. I am bound to say that it generally works right, but I have heard of hon. Friends who have chronic trouble with the automatic exchanges, and I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General is spending any part of this £129,000 in employing more engineers to supervise, maintain and keep in order the automatic exchanges throughout the country.

That leads me to this important point: If any part of this money is being spent in engineers, if the maintenance cost of the automatic exchanges is being raised, of course it may alter the whole question as to whether the automatic exchanges are a profitable proposition. The Post Office, when they instituted the system, hoped that it would be an economy, and I should very much like to know whether that view is still held. There is also another item on which I should like information from the right hon. Gentleman under this subhead, and that is in regard to the foreign trunk traffic. Has any important share of this £129,000 been due to the foreign trunk telephone traffic? Again, that is one of the directions in which some of the biggest telephone developments will lie. Hon. Members opposite are sometimes fond of asking what we did when we were in office. Practically the whole of the present foreign telephone developments took place under the administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon. When he came into office, in 1924, only four countries could be communicated with by telephone. When he left office there were over 20.

We then come to item E 1: "Conveyance of mails by rail, £70,000." This, I understand, is mainly on account of parcel mails. There is a remark in the details which I do not quite understand. It says that the increased provision is more than covered by increased revenue, but I expect that the Committee knows that the parcel post is run at a very heavy loss. When I was at the Post Office, I was told that there was a loss of over 2d. on every parcel that was carried through the post. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman will explain how he hopes to get the £70,000 back on an increased traffic, if the traffic is so unremunerative that it is possible to say that the heavier the traffic the greater the loss, and that there is a net loss of over 2d. on every parcel? One part of the parcels post which is not run at a loss is the cash-on delivery service, which was another reform instituted by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon. How much of this £70,000 has been spent in the development of the cash-on-delivery postal service? That service was started in 1926, and there was a great deal of doubt at the time in regard to its inauguration. One of my hon. Friends—I think the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley)—was doubtful of the wisdom of the step, but it worked without a hitch from the beginning, and, by the time we left office, over 2,000,000 parcels a year were being carried by the service. Has there been any expansion of that service since then, and does any part of the £70,000 represent an increased growth of the service? There was a further extension of the service, which we called the railway cash-on-delivery service, dealing with parcels which were too heavy to go by the ordinary parcels post. That was started about 18 months after the other, and, when I left the Post Office, it was still in a fairly small way, not more than 50,000 or 60,000 parcels a year being carried, but, of course, the individual parcels were bigger and more important than the ordinary parcels that went through the parcels post. I should be grateful if the Postmaster-General could tell us anything about the extension of that service. A third development in regard to parcels which was started by the late Postmaster-General, was the raising of the weight of parcels from 11 lbs. to 22 lbs. The way that reform was carried out was that in the first instance—

The right hon. Gentleman is now dealing with Post Office policy. He must keep to the Estimate, and I do not think that it is necessary to go into questions of policy.

Surely I am entitled to ask the hon. Gentleman who gave few details in his speech, how much of this money is being spent on these various services. The Estimate says that it is being spent on parcel services going by rail, and I am asking him whether any of it is being spent on the cash-on-delivery services. Surely the Committee are entitled to information on that point.

I agree with the Noble Lord, but I think he was going further than that.

I think I am entitled to ask questions on these points of detail. I hope that you will remember Mr. Young, how very rare are the occasions which we get for asking the Postmaster-General anything. Therefore, we must take full opportunity of these very rare intervals, if only to establish the principle of House of Commons control.

The opportunities for asking for information may be rare, but surely the questions which have been asked have been answered.

My questions are all confined to these Estimates. Now we are on the subject of parcel mails carried by rail, I would point out that there was one part of the statement which the hon. Gentleman made to the House the other day, in regard to mail robberies, which he did not deal with fully. Has he taken any steps for the further safeguarding of parcels that go by train? Probably every Member of the Committee has had experience of walking down a corridor train, and, in passing through the guard's van, finding the mail bags left there unattended. If we were not all extremely honest people, we should be tempted to carry them away. That is one of the matters to inquire into which my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon appointed a Committee, and I hope that the Postmaster-General will be able to give us some special information in regard to the robberies that occur on trains. I believe that a great deal of the dishonesty which has been attributed to the postal service relates to thefts that have occurred on railways, and not in the Post Office, but still, the Postmaster-General's responsibility does not cease when the bags are on the train.

That is a matter which the Chair will not allow me to discuss, but which I shall be delighted to discuss with the hon. Gentleman when it is in order. Passing to Item K, "Engineering Materials £242,000," I must say that the Committee have a complaint here. This Estimate covers three items—(a) the policy of extending telephone call office service, (b) acceleration of main underground telephone work, and (c) meeting a larger volume of stores, which is practically a re-vote. When I asked the Postmaster-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General to tell us, they were unable to say how this sum is divided between these three items.

I had better intervene to explain that the sum of £126,000 covers (a) and (b) together, and that £116,000 covers (c). I told the Noble Lord that I cannot separate the £126,000 between (a) and (b), because they cannot be physically separated It is a common volume of stock, which can be used for one purpose or the other as required.

Then this leads one to a number of rather important points. The first point I should like to make is that the policy of extending telephone call office services to many villages and rural railway stations is not a policy for which the right hon. Gentleman was responsible, but, again, was one of the reforms carried out by the late Government. When we came into office not 16 per cent. of the railway stations had a telephone office, but if that work is properly carried out I hope nearly every one of the 1,400 railway stations in the country will have a telephone attached to it. If I remember rightly, the estimate for that work was considerably over £100,000. Can the Postmaster-General tell us whether the work of carrying telephones to every railway station is yet completed, and, if not, how much still remains to be done? That work ought to be nearly completed, because the orders for it were given last April; and if it is, then very little of the £126,000 can be for the acceleration of main underground telephone works in connection with the relief of unemployment. I have something to say to hon. Members opposite about that. As far as I am aware, this is the only reference in the whole of the Estimates to the relief of unemployment; and there is one extraordinary discrepancy which I think I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain. We have followed closely the efforts the Lord Privy Seal has been making to cure unemployment. On more than one occasion he has told us that within this financial year the Post Office was going to do something to help him. May I read a passage from a speech made by the Lord Privy Seal on 3rd July last year?

The Noble Lord is only entitled to deal with the amount of money for that purpose in the Estimates.

Am I not entitled to ask whether this description is accurate, in view of the announcement made by the Lord Privy Seal from the Treasury Bench last July?

That is a question which ought to be put to the Lord Privy Seal when he is here. The Postmaster-General is dealing with his own Supplementary Estimates for a specific purpose.

All I can say is, this shows how difficult it is to secure any effective control of the Post Office by this House. I am not allowed by the Chair, no doubt perfectly rightly, to go into that matter, and therefore I am unable to refer to the promises the Lord Privy Seal made in regard to steel telegraph posts. I should have liked to go into that question, but I cannot. I understand from this Estimate—because I can see no reference to it in this Estimate—that nothing has been done to further the use of steel telegraph posts as a means of helping the steel industry. I think that is not provided for in this Estimate, and therefore that part of the Lord Privy Seal's programme has gone by the board. I have another quotation from the Lord Privy Seal which is absolutely germane, and I do not think the Chair can say it is out of order. This is what he said on the 4th November last:

"We have no right to say to a private employer 'You speed up' without making a similar appeal to Government departments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1929; col. 666, Vol. 231.]

The Noble Lord would be quite in order if we were discussing what the Lord Privy Seal had accomplished through Government Departments, but surely the Noble Lord, having himself been responsible in his day for Supplementary Estimates, must know that in discussing these Estimates we are confined to the purpose of the Estimates. These Estimates are for certain telephone services which have been provided, and we are not entitled to find fault with all the things that have not been done.

On a point of Order. The point is this. By cross-examining the Postmaster-General I tried to find out how the £242,000 is split up between (a) (b) and (c). He cannot tell me that. He only knows that £126,000 is divided somehow or other, but he cannot say how, between (a) and (b). I point out to him that item (a) must necessarily absorb a great deal of that £126,000, and, therefore, there is very little left for item (b), which contains the only reference to unemployment in the whole of the programme. Surely I am entitled to draw attention to the fact that as recently as last November the Lord Privy Seal said the Government were going to spend £750,000 on telephone extensions?

That may be true, for all I know, but I presume that he did not say he was going to spend it by the 31st of March.

Even if he did, that is not the Postmaster-General's fault. The Postmaster-General has to deal with what has been done in his own Department, and in regard to this £126,000, while he says it cannot be broken up into (a) and (b), we know that it is for the purpose of extending the telephone service to villages and railway stations and the acceleration of main underground telephone works in connection with the relief of unemployment.

Surely I am entitled to ascertain how much of this money has been spent on relief of unemployment and to ask the Government for an explanation of this discrepancy between their expenditure and the statement of the Lord Privy Seal as to what they were going to spend.

The Noble Lord is entitled to ask how much of this money has been spent in the direction of providing work for the unemployed, but he is not entitled to enter into a discussion of what has not been spent in that direction.

There are so many omissions of what might have been done to help unemployment that the opportunities for discussion are a great deal curtailed, and, therefore, I will put my question to the right hon. Gentleman in this specific form. He says the £126,000 has been spent on (a) and (b). I say the whole of that money has been spent as a result of the programme of the late Government announced last Parliament, and not a penny of this Estimate is going towards the relief of unemployment, and that the statement made by the Lord Privy Seal on 4th November was a fraud and a sham; and there I leave the matter. Then we come to item (c). There we have the very large figure of £116,000 for stores which were ordered by the previous Government but were not paid for before 31st March, and therefore fall into the Estimate this year. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a specific question on a point which has recently been brought to my notice. The late Government introduced a new type of telephone instrument. I forget its technical name, but it is an instrument which a subscriber can speak into and hear with without having to use both hands. The late Government ordered 100,000 of those instruments, and they should have been ready early this summer. I am informed that those instruments have not been issued—that they are lying in the works, but have not been issued to the public. Even those subscribers who are willing to pay the extra rent of 10s. a year which is charged are finding the greatest difficulty in obtaining those instruments, and yet they are clogging up the works because they have not been issued. Is that information correct? It comes to me from a responsible source although I cannot vouch for it, but I am asking for information. I hope this matter will be looked into because, if it is true, it is a very bad case.

I now come to item E 2, the conveyance of mails by road (contract work). For this contract work an additional sum of £25,000 is required. I think that is a most extraordinary item to find in the Supplementary Estimates of the Socialist Government. The note to item E 2, says that this is
"Provision for certain contract road services which it was anticipated would have been replaced during the year by departmental motor mail van."
What does that mean? Whereas the late Government was willing and anxious to extend the mail van service of the Post Office the Postmaster-General has been clinging to private enterprise, and, instead of employing Post Office vans, he has spent on these contracts £25,000 in order to pay private enterprise for doing this work. I am a strong believer in private enterprise, and it may be that the Postmaster-General was right, and that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon may have been too precipitate. I would like to ask what is the explanation of this item. May I draw the attention of the Committee to the enormous possibilities of the Post Office in regard to this motor mail van business. The late Government installed over 2,000 motor mail vans and cycles, but the present Postmaster-General does not appear to be carrying out that policy. I think the Lord Privy Seal would be grateful if the Postmaster-General would increase the number of motor mail vans, because that would do something to employ more men in the motor car industry, which needs it very badly at the present time.

Now I come to Item L 7, the Holborn explosion, and the amount required for compensation is £52,000. I do not wish be go into that matter in detail, but I should like to ask if the right hon. Gentleman is taking any steps, and, if so, what steps, to try and prevent as far as possible a repetition of that disaster. The danger of gas explosions underneath the streets by electrical contact with Post Office telephones is, of course, getting greater every year, and, in view of this fact, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to be able to tell us what is being done to prevent a recurrence of these accidents.

The next item I wish to mention is the sum of £38,000 for wireless broadcasting. The Assistant Postmaster-General told us that there are at the present moment 2,700,000 wireless licences, and I am sure every Member of this Committee is glad that wireless still continues to go ahead at the great rate that it has done during the last two or three years. The whole broadcasting service is, of course, a very great experiment. During its earliest years it was in charge of a purely private company, but during the last two years it has been in charge of a public utility corporation. I am not quite sure that the public is satisfied that the service provided by this corporation is better than the service that was provided by the company, but that is a big question, and I think the example of the British Broadcasting Corporation is very interesting but one that ought to be very carefully watched. Although we are voting the British Broadcasting Corporation £38,000 in this Estimate, we are really only voting them their own money. The commercial accounts show that the revenue of the British Broadcasting Corporation is somewhere in the neighbourhood of £800,000, and this Vote will bring it up to nearly £850,000 a year. Of course, the State takes a very large share as well. The Postmaster-General charges 1s. 3d. for collecting every 10s. licence, and he charges a further sum by way of Entertainments Duty. I think I am correct in saying that he takes more than 2s. 6d. out of every licence, including the 1s. 3d. for collecting. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman in this matter is only the agent for the Treasury. I think this is the only opportunity we get for saying anything in regard to broadcasting—

This is not the opportunity for debating that question. The rules on this question are definitely laid down, and any discussion upon broadcasting would be out of order and must be raised only upon the main Estimate or by other methods open to hon. Members.

As we are asked to pay £38,000 to the British Broadcasting Corporation for services rendered, are we not entitled to discuss those services?

No, not on this Estimate, because this is only the conclusion of the matters dealt with in the original Estimate, and no new principle is involved.

On a point of Order. I am not sure whether you are aware, Sir, that the Noble Lord has already been called to order seven times by Mr. Young, and I want to ask, if I may with great respect, how many times an hon. Member requires to be called to order before you ask him to resume his seat?

You mentioned, Sir, that we cannot now deal with the services covered by this sum of £38,000. May I ask what would happen if the Committee did not approve of this Vote?

I cannot answer that question, it ought not to be addressed to me.

I am sorry to have transgressed beyond the Ruling of the Chair, but, having been invited more than once by the Postmaster-General to exercise every opportunity of Parliamentary control and investigation, I have endeavoured to do so, and I apologise if I have got out of order in so doing. It is not easy to keep within the rules of order and at the same time to get all the information which I am sure the House and the country outside desires to have about the work of the Post Office and the great services which are attached to it.

I share the opinion of the Noble Lord that the Postmaster-General has insufficient opportunities for developing the case of the Post Office in this House, and I would suggest to the Noble Lord that he would help me considerably to have questions answered by the Postmaster-General if he could persuade his colleagues on the other side of the House to ask other Ministers fewer questions or fewer supplementary questions.

I do not mind doing that, because it would bring revenue to the Post Office.

I do not know what this has to do with the Supplementary Estimate.

I want to submit, with great respect, that it has a good deal to do with it, because, if you send a 1½d. letter by post, you make the Post Office pay, whereas, if you send postcards, you do not. I thought that the Noble Lord rather challenged me to intervene in this Debate, but that he felt very safe in doing so because he knew perfectly well that there were so many limitations on the Debate that it was not possible for me to enter into an argument with him. I suggest that the Noble Lord, in asking so many questions, has attempted a criticism of the Post Office because it is now administered by a Socialist Minister, but, in doing so, I think he must have forgotten that many of the things for which the Post Office is now responsible were due partly to his administration and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), as well as to the administration of Ministers who preceded him.

It is quite true that these Estimates do not help us very considerably in get- ting to know precisely all the details which the Postmaster-General places before the House, or the totals which those details involve. I have been in the House but a very short time, but I have studied a good many of these Estimates from time to time, and I have never yet found that the Estimates of any Department give you precisely the thing that you want to know. For that a Socialist Government is not necessarily responsible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nationalisation!"]. Nationalisation, as controlling the War Office, the Admiralty, and so on, can be brought into the picture, but I should very much like to see these Estimates given in more detail. The question asked by the Noble Lord with regard to the bonus related in some measure to whether the rates paid for casual workers at Christmas time had in them an element of the increased bonus, or the concession in regard to bonus which was made to the established classes. The answer, I suggest, is that, by maintaining for last Christmas the same rate—

The hon. Member, I think, is quite aware that, by the desire of the Committee, a full discussion was allowed on this subject a few days ago, but there was a clear understanding that it should not be raised again on any of these subsequent Estimates.

The Christmas work, which I think is what the hon. Member was discussing, does not affect the established staff, to whom the bonus applies, but chiefly temporary men, and temporary men are not covered by the bonus. Is not that the point?

The point put by the Noble Lord was as to whether the rates paid for temporary Christmas work had in them an element of bonus as a recognition of the concession made to the established staff. In so far as they were the same rates as were paid previously at Christmas, I presume that they had, but that does not enter into this case at all. The fact is that temporary rates are very low. They are higher than they were, as a result of representations made by my organisation to the administration presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon and by the Noble Lord. The rates, however, are still very low—too low—and I had hoped, therefore, that the Noble Lord, in dealing with these Estimates, would have made a suggestion as to where those rates could have been improved. He also referred to telephone operators, and asked whether more or fewer were employed now as covered by these Estimates. The answer must be that the number of telephone operators cannot be more, but must be less owing to the extension of automatic telephones. In so far as the automatic telephone services are covered by these Estimates, I was in sympathy with the Noble Lord when be said that he found himself in a difficulty in regard to the operation of the automatic telephone, but I think he made the dangerous admission that every time he went to it it went wrong.

No. The only time that it went wrong in my house was when there was a fire.

I do not want to repeat what I said the other day. The point that I am making is that I do not see how it was possible for the Noble Lord to make very much out of the development of the automatic telephone, seeing that he, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon, claimed responsibility for its introduction. The Noble Lord asked whether it was profitable or not, but, surely, that is a matter which does not arise on these Estimates at all. The Noble Lord is very fond of quoting New York against London with regard to the telephone system, but I read in this evening's paper that:

"New York is rapidly being placed upon the automatic system, and the system works well. It is hoped that the whole of the exchanges throughout the city will be automatic in a few years."
I am afraid, unless the Noble Lord wakes up, that he will find that a good deal of his case against the Post Office will have dwindled away. He chided us who are members of the Union of Post Office Workers as to whether, with regard to these Estimates, we were going to raise questions with which he was familiar. I rather thought he would have, borne in mind that there is not very much scope in this one page for raising staff questions. I will do my best, but I shall have to keep my eye on the Chair. When the occasion serves, I shall be very willing to point to defects of the Post Office which are largely the creation of bad administration by Conservative Ministers in the past, but this is not the time for that. The Noble Lord congratulated him-self upon the success of the cash-on-de-livery system. I congratulate him, too. He congratulated himself upon the extension of rural telephones. I congratulate him too, because he and his right hon. Friend accepted the advice of the Union of Post Office Workers when he put that proposition to the Post Office. There are a number of other constructive propositions that we put to them which we are still waiting to see effect given to. I am glad to find the Noble Lord has not charged the Socialist Government with the Holborn explosion, nor did he say very much about the British Broadcasting Corporation, because, if he did, he would find that there would be a good many answers to a good many of the criticisms against the Post Office on the success of that undertaking.

The questions I would like to address to my right hon. Friend relate particularly to the conveyance of mails by road contract work. There is provision for certain contract road services which it was anticipated would have been replaced by Departmental motor mail vans. I do not expect my hon. Friend to give me a concise answer, but I would ask him to make an inquiry as to whether the policy laid down by the late Postmaster-General and Assistant Postmaster-General is working satisfactorily, whether he is continuing the policy which requires that before a contractor is displaced by a Post Office owned motor van there shall be shown a saving of expense, whether he is satisfied that such provisions in regard to the retention of any other contractors or in regard to any proposals that may be in mind for the opening up or sealing up of other contracts have taken into account the requirements of the fair wages Clause, and whether the Post Office insists that these contractors competing with the Post Office motor mail vans pay their employés a proper wage. That has a very substantial bearing upon the question of unemployment, about which the Noble Lord chided the Postmaster-General.

9.0 p.m.

I should also like to ask something in regard to Item K (b), where reference is made to works in connection with the relief of unemployment. Is it possible, by developing this telephone work, to restore to the service some of those thousands of labourers who were displaced as the result of the late Postmaster-General's policy? Can he bring some of them back? There are thousands of them. If the Post Office can now expand or accelerate its work in dealing with telephone operations and the laying of cables, these men should be given a reasonable opportunity. These points will give the hon. Gentleman an opportunity of making such inquiries as, I am sure, will lead to results indicating that it will be necessary for him, if progress is to be made in these things, to reverse part of the policy of the late Postmaster-General which led to the displacement of labour. If, in these Estimates dealing with engineering materials and the conveyance of mails by road, he can find work for these people who have been displaced and, at the same time, give an opportunity for the thousands of men who are engaged on part-time labour at very low rates of pay, he will have given the service a good deal to be satisfied with, and he will be able to show that the Post Office can substantially contribute to the difficulties of unemployment if it is given the opportunity.

There are two points about which I wish to ask for information. I do so with the greater confidence because I remember that recently the Postmaster-General said that discussions about the Post Office did not imply that it was inefficient and that, as it was the property of the public, we had a right to expect from it a higher standard than from other concerns. The first point to which I want to draw attention is the item for £52,000 paid in connection with the Holborn explosion. The Assistant Postmaster-General indicated that this would be the maximum sum payable. I want to ask, further, what proportion is that sum of the total amount of damage that was done. As far as I remember, there was not very much blame attaching to the Post Office in connection with it and far more damage than £52,000 was done. I should very much like to know what proportion of that was paid by the Post Office and, further, whether any gas, electric light or public utility company contributed.

The second point I want to ask about is under the heading of Appropriations-in-Aid. There is an item of £51,000, and I should like to know how that exact sum was arrived at and the sources from which it comes. For instance, I should like to know whether the Post Office has had to convey more mails from place to place than it originally contracted to do, and whether it has done any more work for railways than it has done in the past. I should also like to know whether any sites have been sold and whether they have received any further rent for Post Office premises which have been sub-let. I hope we shall be told that, if this sum has been arrived at in any of these ways, there are further ways in which money can be raised.

I understand that, in respect to the damage done by the Holborn explosion, an arrangement was come to between the Post Office and the Gas Light and Coke Company under which, without prejudice, liability for the damage caused by the explosion was admitted, and admitted upon the terms that the Post Office and the gas company would contribute in equal shares to reimbursing the sufferers from the explosion the loss which they had incurred. That arrangement which followed upon the Home Office inquiry, which was a very prolonged and exhaustive one, was very creditable both to the Post Office and to the gas company. It was made some 12 months ago, it may be 10 months ago, and, though it was quickly brought about, the carrying into effect of that arrangement to which both the Post Office and the gas company pledged themselves, has been lamentably slow. We have now arrived at a date 15 months after the explosion, and I understand that many of the claims are outstanding, claims which have been lodged and have been under the consideration of the Post Office, which in the matter of this settlement appeared to be taking the leading part, though, no doubt, it has to confer with the legal representatives of the gas company. At this late date many of the sufferers, some of them quite small people who have suffered in their business, stand without compensation at all. I should like to ask the Postmaster-General, and I hope he will be able to give me the information, how much of the estimated sum of £52,000 has at this date been paid? In the arrangement that was made that sum, whatever it amounts to, must be doubled, because I understand that the arrangement carried with it the liability of the gas company to contribute an equal amount, but from the information which I received—and I am in very close touch with the claimants in respect of the damage sustained in connection with this explosion—the sum which to date has been received amounts to nothing like £104,000. If the Postmaster-General would be good enough to give me the figure, I should be very glad to have it.

There is one further matter upon which I should welcome an assurance from the Postmaster-General. It is said that the course of litigation is slow. Be it so, I am not prepared to deal with that topic to-night. All I can say is, be the course of litigation as slow as it may be, it is nothing like as slow as the course of settlement upon an admitted liability. I ask the Postmaster-General to instruct those who are responsible for this settlement to proceed to settle without further delay and not to raise inconsistent and captious objections to claims. I realise full well that it is public money which is being applied to this settlement and due and full regard must be had to that fact, but when I find, as I find day after day, one claim put forward on certain grounds accepted and another claim put forward on almost identical grounds rejected or queried, I do ask the Postmaster-General to bring to bear his influence and his authority on those who are interested in this settlement to deal with it on broad and proper lines with due regard to public economy, but with equal regard to the just claims of those who admittedly have suffered from this explosion which took place as long as 15 months ago and who to-day stand without that compensation which has been promised to them.

I rise with some diffidence to speak in this Debate, because I am an unpractised speaker, and I am not used to the Rules of the House. Bearing in mind the great difficulty which the Noble Lord had in keeping within the Rules of Order, I feel even more diffident about it, especially as I hope to touch upon a few of the points which he made. The Noble Lord spoke about the question of stolen mail bags, a matter in which all of us have a great deal of interest, and he ventured the opinion that many mail bags were left unattended in course of transmission. He said that that was the responsibility of the Postmaster-General. However that may be in theory, we know that in practice a very large number of mail bags are left unattended. I do not think that we should add weight to the responsibility of the Postmaster-General in circumstances which he cannot avoid. I suppose the Noble Lord would not make a suggestion that a post office servant should be despatched always with a single bag.

With regard to the additional provision in Item "E 1" in which the sum set down is £70,000, the Noble Lord invited the Postmaster-General to give us some explanation of this Supplementary Estimate. I wish to add my voice to that of the Noble Lord in asking the Postmaster-General to give us some explanation unless there may be some difficulty of policy about it. I would suggest that one of the main features, perhaps the main cause of the increased expenditure on this particular postal service, is the very heavy fees which the Post Office has to pay for carriage. I suggest to the Noble Lord—he will know of course and will be able to correct me if I am wrong—that under the present system 50 per cent. of the postage on postal packages has to be devoted to cost of carriage which goes to the railway companies. I think that that is a matter which has a distinct bearing upon the item which has been mentioned. I should like, at any rate, to have some definite information about it if it is possible for such information to be given. I notice that in two classes A 2 and A 4 no great complaints were made about the postal section proper. That is a section which, year in and year out, has paid handsomely to the Post Office and the public, yet there is no special merit to be attached to that Department over the other Departments which have been mentioned and complained about by the Noble Lord. The Noble Lord spoke about the Savings Bank. I am not sure whether that was one of the points about which he was in difficulty. The hon. Mem- ber for Crewe (Mr. Bowen) referred to certain action by the trade union which had led to an improvement in the service in other directions. The same group of people made recommendations or suggestions to the Post Office more than 20 years ago about the Savings Bank. It was not a Labour Postmaster-General who refused to accept those suggestions, or other suggestions put forward. He would not allow the people who were making the suggestions—

I have re trained from interrupting the hon. Member because I thought that he was making a maiden speech, but I understand that that is not so. I cannot allow him to proceed further with that line of argument.

I am sorry. I am innocent in all other directions. I was interested in the criticism which the Noble Lord made regarding the telegraph section. A good deal of criticism has been made against the telegraph section of the British Post Office, but I have never yet heard a reference to the extraordinary difficulties under which the telegraph section started, right from the time when it was taken over from the old company. It started with difficulties, and difficulties have been piled upon it year in and year out. I have never yet heard a reference to the subsidy which the British telegraphs—

The hon. Member must keep to the items in the Supplementary Estimate. He must not go outside those items.

I understood the Chair man to rule that such a reference came in in connection with these Estimates, because it was concealed in items A 2 and A4. I was glad to hear the Noble Lord's criticisms. He has had a very wide experience of Post Office administration, and I hope that the Postmaster General will deal with all his criticisms.

The amount that we are asked to vote is a very considerable one, £995,000, but, considering that it relates to the Post Office and the telephone department, I do not think that it is such a large amount, seeing that the Post Office is making a very considerable profit. We ought to go carefully into some of the items. With regard to the conveyance of mails, I should like to know whether any of the extra expenditure is to be spent in giving added protection to the mails. Scarcely a day passes that we do not see some reference to the loss or robbery of mails. Is some of the extra money that it being spent on the conveyance of mails to provide more adequate protection? With regard to the policy of extending telephone call offices in villages and rural areas generally, nothing is wanted more. I put questions to the late Postmaster-General the right hon. Member for Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson) when he was carrying out a system for the county of Essex, part of which I represent, greatly increasing the number of rural telephones and installing telephones at rural railway stations.

I hope that some of the extra expenditure in this Department—I believe that £126,000 is particularly devoted to extending the telephones—will provide a larger number of rural telephones, and that every rural railway station in the kingdom will be provided with a telephone. It is important for the farmers and for all of us. We are almost the most backward country in the extension of our telephone system. Any money that is spent in extending our telephone system is well spent, because it brings back a return in increased trade. I would ask the Postmaster-General to devote a larger amount of money for the providing of rural telephones. There have been large numbers of complaints especially with regard to toll calls in districts not very far from London, many of them rural exchanges and many of them out-of-date exchanges. The complaint has been as to inaudibility which is due, I suppose, either to the lack of current or to the fact that they have an antiquated machine at the exchange. I would ask the Postmaster-General to go into the question of these rural telephone exchanges, for they are becoming worse and worse. Very often you can hardly hear what the person is saying; no matter how clear or distinct he tries to be, it is almost impossible to hear.

The laying of underground telephone lines is most vital. I would draw attention to a case where wires went over a garage and the garage caught fire, and now the unfortunate man is being sued. The other day the Postmaster-General refused to accept a majority verdict, and again the unfortunate man is to be put to the expense of the case being brought forward. The wires might well have been laid underground in front of the garage, and not over it. The man tried to insure the other day against further damage, but he was told that that was impossible because the garage did not belong to him and he could not insure somebody else's property. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, wherever possible, in order to avoid cases like this, will have the telephone wires laid underground, so as to avoid damage by fire or storm or by trees being blown down. Any expenditure on these lines is reproductive, giving employment to the unemployed and doing a vast amount of good.

In regard to the Holborn explosion, I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General is taking any steps to prevent similar occurrences. The reason for such an explosion is that the telephone lines are laid close to gas mains and electric light cables. In former days if there was a leakage in the gas main under an ordinary macadam road, the gas was able gradually to escape, but nowadays our roads are made of material that is imperviable to wet or gas, and the gas cannot escape and lies in pockets. When you have an electric cable close to the gas main and you have the telephone wires there, you run very great risk of an explosion similar to that at Holborn. I hope that the Postmaster-General will take due precautions against a repetition of such an explosion.

With regard to the last item, wireless broadcasting, that is becoming more and more popular. No less than 2,716,000 people have got listening sets, and it is becoming more and more important. The Postmaster-General should look to the direction of this service and see that broadcasting is run on absolutely nonpolitical lines, for we have had already serious objection raised to some of the things that have been spoken lately, such as those by Mr. Nicholson, to which great exception has been taken by many people in this country. I do hope that as there are so many people paying for licences, the right hon. Gentleman will see that this very important service is run on absolutely and strictly impartial lines.

I had hoped to speak on the question of the Post Office on a larger scale one evening last week, but the inordinate eloquence of certain Members of the House, including the Postmaster-General and his votaries prevented me from making a speech that night. It was "roses, roses all the way," to the tune of "Great is the Postmaster-General, and the Secretary of the Union of Postal Workers is his prophet." It is a rather more gloomy matter to-night with all this criticism afloat. I put down a Motion to reduce this Vote by £100. I am perfectly prepared to withdraw that Motion if I am permitted to make a few remarks, and these are the remarks. I am speaking technically on the sum to be voted as Supplementary Estimate, and therefore I think I am in order. The point I wish to raise is the injustice of the treatment of the provincial towns and the rural districts as compared with London. You will see in this additional sum required that London is getting £225,000, while £394,000 goes to the provinces, but, comparing that with the total sum, the proportion is very different, and is something like 11 to 20. That is only an example which I have gathered from the statistics of the way in which everything has been sacrificed by the Post Office to the interests of the Metropolitan area. The whole countryside is being scamped in its services and generally ill-treated. The Londoner has his late post, and he is going to have a post office open all night—

The hon. Gentleman cannot discuss the details of the postal system on the Supplementary Vote.

On that point of Order. Is not the hon. Gentleman entitled to urge that this £70,000 would be better spent in Oxford than in London?

I think it is possible he might, but the £70,000 is not detailed here, and the hon. Gentleman was raising the question of later posts.

It is only an illustration of the way in which the countryside is being wronged compared with the excellent service given in London. In regard to salaries, the arrangements are of a similar sort. My suggestion has reference—

With regard to the point of Order raised by the Noble Lord, I do not see the £70,000 here.

Before you entered the Chair the Postmaster-General explained these items under A 2 and A 4 which deal with the establishments. A 2 is £225,000 and A 4 is £394,000. He added them together and said that out of the total £420,000 is being spent in bonuses, £70,000 in extended postal traffic and £129,000 in telephones. That was the £70,000 to which I referred.

I do not dispute what the Noble Lord said about the £70,000. The only point is that the hon. Member cannot discuss the details of the services.

Surely it is open to the hon. Member to argue that the money in question could be better spent in a different direction.

I will give an illustration. These statistics of a department prove, like everything else with which I have to do in connection with the Post Office, the fact which no provincial Member will deny, that the provinces are being neglected absolutely and entirely. A town of 77,000 inhabitants has no post after 4 o'clock, whereas it used to have three posts.

The hon. Gentleman must wait until the Estimates come up. He cannot discuss that on a Supplementary Estimate.

I am afraid I, perhaps, have been getting out of order, and I must congratulate you, Mr. Dunnico, on your perspicacity in detecting it.

"Decortications of the golden grain, Are set to lure the aged fowl in vain."

I have had the opportunity to-night of hearing the Assistant Postmaster-General, who has already been congratulated upon his first appearance in that capacity. I certainly join in the congratulation, because I know it will be a great gratification in the town in which I was born that one who is a fellow-townsman of mine should have been included in His Majesty's Ministry. He comes from a city which is not as great as some in riches, but which in fame is not second to any other. I am glad to have had the opportunity of hearing him deal with these Supplementary Estimates.

There are one or two questions I should like to put. I understand that there has been additional expenditure upon rural telephones. I would like to know what has been the cost to the Post Office authorities consequent on the recent storms. They were very heavy in my part of the country, and they must have put not merely a considerable burden on those who have houses and property, but involved the Post Office authorities in a heavy loss. It was very serious in the district in which I live, and I am sure the Committee would like to know what was the extent of the burden as far as the Post Office was concerned. Something has been said in the discussion as to the amount that has been spent on rural telephones. I have to express my gratitude to the Assistant Postmaster-General for the courtesy with which he has considered several cases I have put before him. I have no doubt my experience has been shared by other Members. It may be that in some instances we have not had all we asked for, but in every instance there has been an inquiry and, certainly, in a number of cases I have submitted the facilities have been granted. I have no doubt that in this Vote are included some of the out-of-the-way villages of which we Members who represent rural constituencies know something, where they have been cut off from ordinary communication with the country, and where new telephones and call offices are being established.

I have found one difficulty in relation to telephone sub-offices, and that is the difficulty of securing persons who will undertake to work it. I could not understand why that difficulty should arise until I was informed that the amount paid by the Post Office to anyone who undertakes to work a telephone sub-office is the handsome amount of one guinea per year. I hope the Assistant Postmaster-General will be able to give us some information on this matter. Take a Devonshire village, or a Cornish village, and I suppose the conditions are the same in villages throughout the rest of the country, the claim is made that there must be constant attention from the 1st January until the 31st December, and I was astonished to hear that the only allowance made to the small shopkeeper for the work he was doing for the State during the whole 12 months was the sum of one guinea. In a little village in Cornwall, appropriately named Merrymeet, I found that the total sum paid for the telephone, for the Post Office, for the provision of the Post Office, and for the supply of pens and paper, came to the total of £2 18s. 4d. per month. I do not quarrel with that amount very much, but I should demur to undertaking the responsibility of looking after a telephone sub-post office from New Year's Day until the 31st December, with a constant call upon my attention and attendance, for a guinea a year. Perhaps the Postmaster-General will tell us whether he is satisfied that the State is dealing fairly with these little people who belong to no strong organisation.

As you know, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, I am the most obedient and docile Member of this House, formidable as may be the appearance of the party to which I belong, and I was simply going to ask whether the sums paid in respect of the new offices which have been opened were adequate. I know that some part of this sum has been used for the establishment of sub-post offices. I will not pursue that subject further, except to suggest that no part of the expenditure included in this Estimate will be more welcome than that on rural telephones. If I am in order, may I express my approval of that expenditure. The backwardness of our country districts is something of which we ought to be ashamed. I had an experience in a Cornish village the other day. A family when in Canada heard every Saturday the results of the matches in the three football leagues. Now that they are living in a Cornish village of about the same size someone has to go on a motor cycle four miles to find what has happened in the local football league. The submission I make to the Postmaster-General is this, that without distinction we in this House desire a revival of agriculture, and agriculture cannot be revived unless we satisfactorily tackle the question of rural telephones. That is one of the first necessities.

May I make this suggestion to the Postmaster-General, that instead of relying only upon representations which may be made by hon. Members interested in their constituencies there should be a survey of these conditions, and that upon that survey, in which the three principal parties should be represented, something might be done to secure that the money which is now being provided is put to the fullest possible purpose, and that other money may be provided as occasion arises. I also ask whether something can be done to meet the system of credits which now exist. When a telephone is to be established the local folk are called upon to give some guarantee. I understand that there has been a change of policy in this connection. I know that when people have put in a claim for a telephone exchange they have been asked to give a guarantee, which is sometimes a burden upon people who are already overburdened. I am glad to hear that this system is to be changed or revised. If the House can be told that a more generous policy is going to be established and that a village away from a large town is to have some recognition of its special claims without demanding a guarantee from a number of small folk, it would be unanimously received with gratitude by many people.

As something like one-third of the membership of the Association which I represent is employed in the Post Office I feel that something should be said on their behalf in reply to some of the observations made by the late Assistant Postmaster-General. The Noble Lord began with an inquiry as to whether that part of the Vote which deals with salaries and wage's contained any evidence of expenditure by way of increased remuneration to temporary Christmas staffs, following upon the concession given to established civil servants in respect of bonus some little time ago. The Noble Lord who asked that question was for something like four-and-a-half years Assistant Postmaster-General. During that period four Christmases passed and presented seasons in which the Post Office had to engage temporary staffs on a very large scale. The late Assistant Postmaster-General ought to know that temporary staffs are not paid on the basis of a basic wage plus bonus. For that reason the question, coming from the late Assistant Postmaster-General, was a confession of sheer ignorance of the Department over which he presided which ought never to have been made in this House.

On several other points in the Estimates the Noble Lord tried to minimise the provision that was being made by stressing the amount of work which had been done by the late administration. For example, he told us that when the late administration took office there were telephone call boxes at only 16 per cent. of the railway stations of this country, and he indicated that when the late administration left office that number had increased very considerably. He told us also that when the late administration took office telephonic communication was possible with only four foreign countries, whereas at the end of the late administration it was possible with no fewer than 20 countries. Accepting the Noble Lord's figures as correct—a very unsafe thing to do, because on another query he was wrong by no less than 100 per cent.—that meant that a tremendous amount of work, technical and otherwise, must have been done by the Post Office staff during the period of the late administration. Yet it is the Noble Lord himself who has occupied column after column in the newspapers attacking the very staff which has produced the figures that he himself quoted here to-night.

I did not hear the Noble Lord's speech, but it would not be in order to pursue that subject.

I understand that you were not present when the Noble Lord made that point, but it was one of the very few points in regard to which the Chairman found the Noble Lord to be in order. I wish to say, on behalf of the Post Office staffs that I represent, that there is most profound resentment of the action of a Minister who occupied an important Government post—

The question before the Committee is not the action of an ex-Minister, but this Supple- mentary Estimate for the Post Office. I cannot allow any discussion of actions of ex-Ministers.

If an ex-Minister puts to the present Minister questions which by their nature reflect upon the staff which is engaged on the items covered by these Estimates, cannot some reply be made on behalf of the staffs concerned?

In that case may I conclude my observations with the statement that, however legitimate the questions which have come from the ex-Assistant Postmaster-General may be—many of them were found to be illegitimate—I think they would have come with better grace from any other member of the late administration than from himself.

There is an Amendment on the Paper to reduce the Vote. My complaint is that the Postmaster-General has not spent enough. I would refer the Committee to page 14 of the Supplementary Estimates and to Items A 2 and A 4, which relate to provincial establishments. It says there, "See explanation under Subhead A 2 above." I find that the additional provision is required for, among other things, "a heavier increase than was provided for in the volume of postal and telephone traffic," and it states that, "The increase under (2) is more than covered by increased revenue." My point is that the Postmaster-General ought to have arranged for larger development. He admits that because of the capital expenditure incurred the revenue has increased. Increased facilities have been given not only in the metropolitan establishment but also in the provincial establishment. As a provincial Member, I would press upon him very strongly that he badly requires to develop postal facilities in the rural areas.

We have to be very careful what we refer to in our speeches, but I believe that I am entitled to point out how the postal facilities in rural areas have gone down, and to show that the Minister, if he had expended more capital, would have got more revenue, and we in the rural areas would have had better postal facilities by this time. Take the case of my own constituency. We had a sorting car which ran through from London to Elgin. The Post Office cut down expenditure and that car is now stopped in Aberdeen. I brought the master to the notice of the Postmaster-General and he told me that the reason for the change was the expense of running the car.

The hon. Gentleman is not speaking of the telephone system at all, but of some other matter.

That subject cannot be raised in detail. These are only Supplementary Estimates. General policy has to be discussed when the main Estimates are before the Committee. When Supplementary Estimates come forward, discussion should be confined to the particular items referred to.

We have had the fact stated that by greater capital expenditure greater revenue accrues to the Post Office. Surely I am entitled to show that if more than £394,000 had been spent on the provincial establishments, we could have had a better result?

Then I am very sorry. Let me refer to the item relating to engineering materials. I would like some information regarding Subhead B and the acceleration of underground telephone works in connection with the relief of unemployment. It seems that we should have the Lord Privy Seal here instead of the Postmaster-General. Surely we shall be allowed to discuss the question of unemployment in connection with this item?

The only question which the hon. Member is entitled to discuss is whether or not this money shall be spent for the purpose named.

I am quite prepared to allow a certain amount of liberty and of latitude, but hon. Members must realise that there are limits.

It seems an extraordinary thing that reference should be made in the Estimate to this item of main underground telephone works as being "in connection with the relief of unemployment." I come from a part of the world where underground wires are very much needed because every winter snowstorms sweep away the overhead telephone wires, and surely I am entitled to suggest that the Postmaster-General might spend a little more money for the relief of unemployment by increasing the number of underground wires in Aberdeen. In regard to Subhead K, which deals with engineering materials, I should like to ask if we are to have automatic exchanges in the rural areas or not. I find that in many cases hi my own constituency the ordinary exchanges are being installed in the rural areas instead of the automatic exchanges, and I wish to ask the Postmaster-General if he is spending this money on automatic exchanges or on the continuance of the old exchanges, which are so unsatisfactory, especially in the country districts. Also with regard to this large amount for engineering materials, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is going to have any of these materials forwarded to Aberdeenshire in order to obviate delay in connection with new exchanges. I find that it is often necessary to wait for more than six months, and when I raised the matter I was told that the reason for the delay was in the engineering department and in the difficulty of getting the necessary materials.

I rise to reply at this stage because so many questions have already been asked that I should like to deal with them while I can bear them in mind, and I hope that some of the points which I shall mention and which are ancillary to the questions already raised by hon. Members, may anticipate further questions which other hon. Members may have in mind.

Will there be a further answer later on, as I understand a number of my hon. Friends still wish to speak on this Estimate?

Some of us have been sitting here for a considerable time. Do I understand that this is an effort to closure the Debate or are we to have the privilege of raising other questions afterwards and getting a further reply?

I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would answer further questions later on.

10.0 p.m.

We know and appreciate the courtesy of the hon. Gentleman the Minister and we sympathise with him when he says that he cannot deal with a large number of questions all at once. On the other hand, I think he ought to give us an assurance that either he or the Assistant Postmaster-General will reply at a later stage to the further questions which hon. Members may wish to put on this Vote. I do not suggest any undertaking but I ask at least for a concession that there shall be no closure of my hon. Friends.

I must preserve the independence of the Chair and I would point out to hon. Members that the question of the Closure is not one for the Minister but for the Chair.

Surely the Chair is not concerned with the question of the Closure, unless the Closure is moved?

The implication was that some attempt to prevent hon. Members exercising their right of Debate would be made. That is a question which rests with me, and not the Minister.

With all respect, I submit that unless the Closure is moved by some Member of the Committee, the Chair is not concerned with the Closure. I think that the Minister, for his own part, is quite willing that further questions should be answered later on.

I wish to make it perfectly clear to the right hon. Gentleman that the implication was that certain Members entitled to speak would be closured, and I wish to make it perfectly clear also that the question of the Closure is one to be decided by the Chair.

May I put it to you, Mr. Dunnico, that the Closure is a Motion which may be moved either by a back bencher or from the Front Bench, and, surely, the Postmaster-General is entitled to express the Government's intention of moving the Closure?

The question of preserving the rights of Members of this Committee is a question for the Chair alone.

I hope that when I have answered the questions which have already been put to me, the Committee will find it possible to allow us to have this Vote in a reasonable time, and we shall not move the Closure if we are allowed to have it within a reasonable time. Some of the questions addressed to me by different hon. Members relate to the same matters and I take the opportunity of dealing with those together. I was asked whether the increase in postal traffic is due to the Christmas pressure. It is partly due to the Christmas pressure, because, as the Noble Lord has said, last Christmas was a record in that respect. The increase in the bonus does not apply to men employed for a few days or for a fortnight at Christmas time, but, according to the Treasury's authority, is confined to the permanent servants of the State. With regard to the rural telephone, broadly, the position is this: Within the last six months, or perhaps a little more, 3,200 rural telephone call offices have been opened, and there are a large number of others which have been authorised and others are under consideration. In answer to the question about railway stations, telephones are now fitted at about 1,400 rural railway stations; that is to say, that the rural call offices have been increased by about 50 per cent. during the last six or seven months, and we have followed out what has been explained as the policy both of this Government and of the last.

How many more stations are there still to have telephone exchanges put in?

In the neighbourhood of 500, or perhaps 600. I think there are about 2,000 stations altogether, so that leaves 500 or 600 which are not yet provided. One or two hon. Members—

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us if he intends to instal telephones in every station?

I am not in a position to say that I intend to instal the telephone in every station, or indeed in every post office, because we have to take into account the cost on one side and the usage of the telephone on the other, and come to a decision which takes both of those factors into account, but we have installed the number I have mentioned, and there is a large number of others under consideration. When they have been installed, I should take into account naturally what further steps were to be undertaken.

Where it has been decided that there is to be no call office at a country post office, will the hon. Gentleman in that case agree to put a telephone at the local station?

I could not give a general undertaking of that kind. If there were no call office at the village post office, then on the question whether you would put it there, you would have to take into account the question of cost, the use of the machine, the time per day during which trains were running, and questions like that, which must be decided as each case is raised and cannot be decided by a general statement across the Floor of the House. In regard to automatic telephones, we are proceeding to instal them in the villages as rapidly as possible. There are altogether 260 automatic exchanges, and of these at present 92 are in the rural areas. I was asked by more than one Member—

Is it the hon. Gentleman's policy to instal automatic rather than ordinary telephones?

Yes, it is our policy to favour the automatic as against the manual telephones, especially in rural districts, because in the rural districts with quite a small number of subscribers the automatic gives you a full night service and a Sunday service, which are not available with a manual exchange until there are 20 subscribers at least. The questions that have been put on the air mail I can answer very broadly in this way. The air mail has in fact rather exceeded the expectations that were formed in regard to it some years ago. The air mail to India was opened in April last, and at present, speaking very broadly and without figures in front of me, the broad achievement of the air mail is that it carries, all told, about 5 per cent. of the total letter and parcel traffic between India and this country.

Yes. The late Assistant Postmaster-General put me a rather puzzling question as to how it was that the parcel post is showing an increased revenue in the Estimates, when, as a matter of fact, there is a loss upon every parcel carried. That part of the Estimates refers only to our transactions with the railway companies. As the Noble Lord is aware, the bargain with the railway companies is that they obtain 40 per cent. of the receipts on parcels which they carry by rail. All that these Estimates show is that as a result of an increase in the parcel post we are obtaining a larger revenue from the remaining 60 per cent. Nevertheless, we do involve ourselves in a loss, because the other part of the work necessary to carry the parcel post does entail a loss of about 2d. a packet.

The questions that I have been asked with regard to mail robberies I will not answer with any very great fullness. I may say that the reforms which have been suggested by the Committee to which the Noble Lord referred are now being carried out. They are being very actively introduced, and they will be completed in a comparatively short time, but as to the actual nature of those reforms, I would prefer not to make any statement here. I have been asked some questions about the new single-handed telephone and I was asked whether it was true that the Post Office was holding up the supplies of these instruments. There have been certain statements of that sort which have come to us from various parts of the country—complaints and rumours that some obstruction is taking place. Whenever those complaints have come, we have immediately sent to the surveyor in the area concerned and asked what grounds there are for them, and in all these cases the answer has been that there is no delay whatever in providing this new telephone where it is asked for, but that there is a certain delay in delivery. As has been stated, 100,000 were ordered, but they are made by only one firm, and, therefore, we cannot provide them more rapidly than that firm is able to give us delivery.

Is it untrue, then that the firm which is making them is lumbered up with instruments, of which the Post Office will not take delivery?

That statement is untrue. I was asked certain questions about the licence fee for the work that the Post Office does on behalf of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Out of the 10s. which is paid for a licence to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Post Office take 1s. 3d. for the expenses which the collection of these licences entails. The expense to the Post Office is not very far from 1s. 3d. Not very much profit is made out of this part of the transaction. I would point out to the Committee the remarkable fact that, whereas this Estimate was founded upon the assumption that the rate of increase of broadcasting licences to listeners to the programmes would be at the rate of last year, the number of licences for which fees are paid increased so unexpectedly in the first three months of the year, that this Supplementary Estimate has been needed. One of the causes of that increase is that the unlicensed sets are being dealt with, and a great many more licences are taken up, not only because of the prosecutions that are reported in the papers, but because it is known that the Post Office detecting agency for this purpose is at work. It is that work which is partly responsible for this 1s. 3d. fee, and is part of the justification for the payment which is made to the Post Office for this purpose.

Finally, I pass to a number of questions about the Holborn explosion. We have taken a number of precautions, of too technical a character to be explained here, for ventilating shafts and have made arrangements for pumping foul air out of the tubes, while a number of appliances, which our chief engineer has devised for detecting any leakage of foul air, have been installed, so that I may say—

All tubes of this class, and, in cases where these appliances cannot be installed, the tubes are being filled up, so that I may say that precautions are being taken to make any such explosion exceedingly unlikely in future. One or two hon. Members asked questions as to the compensation for damage. I have not the exact figures, but this is the position, as I can broadly state it. The Commission of Inquiry which was founded to investigate the explosion, found that it was partly due to certain Post Office workings, because of the use of a lighter and for other reasons; and they also found that a leakage of gas was taking place in the mains of the Gas Light and Coke Company. The Commission made no legal statement about the position, but their findings rather suggested that there was a responsibility on the Post Office, and a responsibility on the Gas Light and Coke Company, both of whom must be classed together if the matter were taken before a Court of Law. There were heavy claims from third-parties—from the tradesmen whose premises were rendered inaccessible for, I think, several months, from public authorities like the Holborn Borough Council, and the two main parties, the Post Office and the Gas Light and Coke Company, came to an agreement that they would share the expense involved in meeting the claims of those third-parties. I should have explained that these are not the only expenses involved. There are other expenses in addition to those in this Supplementary Estimate. There are the expenses in which the Post Office itself was involved—this tube was blown up—which will be met out of the ordinary Post Office Vote. Although much of the work has been done, it has not been necessary to introduce a Supplementary Estimate, because a large part of the work has been done with implements which have been taken out of store and therefore have not necessarily to be accounted for now.

The third-party claims, for which the two authorities are responsible, are roughly estimated to amount to about £104,000, and the Post Office share is about £52,000. The hon. and learned Member for Holborn (Mr. Stuart Bevan) complained that there had been great delays in meeting the claims. There are 100 claims which were not met because the Post Office and the Gas Light and Coke Company held that the claimants had no legal ground for their claims, and those I am not dealing with; but of the claims which have been admitted, my broad recollection is that there are only 50 which have not yet been met. The sum paid out is comparatively small in proportion to the total of £104,000, because some of those 50 are very large undertakings, great public authorities whose claims amount to several thousand pounds. From inquiries I made two or three weeks ago, I derived the impression that every possible expedition had been used in meeting these claims, but I have noted the complaint of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I will see whether it is possible—if it be necessary—that the remaining claims can be more quickly dealt with.

Is that the joint contribution—£9,000 from the Post Office and £9,000 from the Gas Company?

No, I think the £18,000 is our share out of the £52,000; but I may perhaps explain that that is not a proof of slowness, because that £18,000 has met the larger number of the smaller claims—those of the tradesmen. The reason the, sum outstanding is large is that we have larger potential claims to deal with, such as that of the Holborn Borough Council, which is over £40,000, that of the Charing Cross Electricity Supply Company, and those of the Metropolitan Water Board and other public or public utility authorities I think I have now answered most of the questions put to me.

I wish to refer to one or two matters which have not been mentioned by the Postmaster-General. Before doing so, I should like to associate myself with what has been said by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) as to the courtesy with which the Post Office have dealt with matters in my own constituency. I am speaking from my own experience, and I think that my experience in dealing with the Post Office is rather more than other hon. Members, because in the constituency which I represent storms have such a great effect in interrupting Post Office communications. In all the representations which I have made to the Post Office I have been met promptly and courteously, and for that I wish to thank the Postmaster-General. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to a matter of considerable importance to the whole country. It has been mentioned in the course of this Debate that the rural telephones are of great importance to agriculture, and we all know that that is so.

There is another matter of great importance to agriculture, and that is the parcels post, more especially so far as it deals with small articles of agriculture such as butter and eggs. I would like to refer to the way in which eggs are carried. In the old days of the parcels post eggs used to be carried in baskets. The parcels post is now carried in bags, with the result that parcels of eggs packed in cardboard are of often very badly damaged. There are so many complaints about this matter that it has almost stopped the sending of eggs by parcels post. Many packages sent by parcels post are sent in a firm basket and obviously in the case of large and heavy packages which are hoisted on board a boat or put into a train or roughly handled there is far less danger of damage to the contents than if those parcels are sent in a canvas bag the result of which is very well known to those who try to send eggs from a distance. I ask the Postmaster-General whether it would not be possible to introduce a system of baskets again, particularly in those districts from which large quantities of eggs are sent, and at the same time see whether some smaller charge could not be introduced for the carriage of eggs. By that means a great opportunity would be given to those in outlying parts of the country to send their eggs in with advantage and with increased safety, whereas they are now badly handicapped by the amount of damage that is done to the parcels in the post.

With regard to the conveyance of mails by road by contract, I want just to say a word. Some little debate has taken place earlier in the evening on this matter, but I would ask the Postmaster-General to remember, if he is thinking of substituting Post Office vans for contractors' carts in some of the outlying parts of the country, that he may do a great deal to interfere with people travelling about the country who are now able to get a lift in a contractor's cart, while they would not be able to get a lift in a Post Office van. I think that this matter might be borne in mind, particularly in regard to outlying parts of the country where there are not the ordinary means, such as omnibuses, by which people can get about, but where nevertheless long distances have to be covered, and people rely largely on getting a lift in a contractor's cart which is carrying the mails.

Passing to the question of rural telephones, I should like to ask the Postmaster-General if he can inform me as to a matter which I have had the greatest difficulty in understanding. In some cases a guarantee is asked for in the country, while in other cases no guarantee is asked for, when a public telephone call office is opened. I am unable to ascertain on what basis the Post Office works in that matter. In one case in a county with which I am acquainted, a guarantee was asked for and was given by the county council, and, after two or three years' correspondence, the Post Office have been good enough to relieve the county council of that guarantee. In another place a circuit has been opened, with call offices, without a guarantee being asked for, while in yet another place a guarantee is being asked for which is entirely holding up a very necessary rural telephone service. In that particular place we are endeavouring to get the doctor and the lifeboat on to the local circuit, but we are told that we cannot have the circuit connected, although the main wires are quite close, unless we find eight subscribers at £8 apiece, an extraordinarily difficult thing to do in a poor country district. I would say to the Postmaster-General with regard to rural telephones generally, that he has to advertise his wares, to push his wares, rather than allow these things to stand in the way of the expansion of the use of the telephone.

In that connection there is another matter which I have already pressed on the Post Office, and that is the importance of having sound-proof cabinets in the public call offices. It is perfectly ridiculous to put up a public call office in a country post office and then expect the public to go in and have their private conversations in the shop, for the whole countryside to know what is going on. How can you expect anyone to go in and spend 6d. in order to have their private conversations overheard? One knows that it is hard enough in the country to keep anything private, and, if one cannot make a bargain about a cow or a horse or anything of that kind over the telephone without it being overheard, people will simply not use the telephone. Within the last year I know of one circuit which has been opened with silence cabinets installed, and another where they have not been installed. Again I ask, on what basis does the Post Office act? I am told that it costs money. Of course it costs money, but it does not cost very much, and, if you do not spend that initial capital on silence cabinets, you will not get your return in revenue. It works out in the end, but, in order to push the telephone service, it must be made convenient and attractive to the public, and I should like to urge this with all the force of which I am capable on the Post Office, who, as far as I have been acquainted with them under their present control, are inclined to be receptive of new ideas.

There is one matter in connection with this Estimate to which I desire to call the attention of the Postmaster-General, and which has not been referred to in the Debate so far as I know. Item K deals with one aspect of it. In my part of the country we have great difficulty with the engineering section of the Post Office Department, arising from extraordinary delays in getting repairs made to the telephone. That was brought to the notice of the late Postmaster-General, and, after much trouble, we got some rectification. Of course, the recent storm has caused delays of an abnormal type, but quite apart from the storm, there seems to be some curious inability of the engineering department to make anything like a rapid and efficient repair of these ordinary breakdowns, which will occur in the best telephone system. From my experience there seems to be a curious detachment between the engineering and the administrative sections of the Post Office, a curious break somehow or other in the reporting of defects and getting them remedied.

I should greatly appreciate it if the Postmaster-General would look into the matter and see why we in Wiltshire have such extraordinary difficulty in getting repairs done in a reasonable time. It is a serious matter when these delays occur, because we have an entirely new system coming into force now—the National Marks scheme. Unless we have telephonic communication between the individual farmer and Hungerford, where the National Mark system co-ordination takes place, a man's egg trade may be completely lost. He does not know the current price. He does not know any of the difficulties that have arisen. We are dependent more and more in the country districts on the telephone. My own son was for three weeks without the telephone. Trade necessities arising in agriculture should really be met by some survey of the question of delays in the engineering department.

I should like to pay a tribute to the Postmaster-General for the kindness with which he intervened to save a beautiful section of my Division. The engineering department was set visibly to work by someone to put a hideous set of poles up a beautiful hill leading to Savernake Forest. I called the hon. Gentleman's attention to it, and he immediately got to work and after spending a day or two in making personal inquiry he had the work done in such a way as to preserve the beauty of the hill instead of ruining it. I should like to congratulate him upon the expenditure of money on brightening post offices and encourage him to go on with the work. I should like to invite him to my constituency to see many offices which require a great deal of brightening. The rural telephone problem has really become more and more necessary to rural areas and, if the hon. Gentleman thought any service could be rendered by calling into counsel one or two members from each of the three parties who have special knowledge of rural conditions, and would be able to make suggestions on a non-party basis as to how this rural service might be developed, I am sure my party would be pleased to co-operate. We lay the greatest stress upon the importance of the development of the rural telephone service and we shall be glad if he will encourage it in any way in his power.

I wish to bring before the Committee a matter I have been asked to raise by a number of constituents and others. There is an item of £38,000 for wireless broadcasting, and it is stated that the increase is off-set by an increase in licence fees. The increased popularity of broadcasting means, after it has been in operation for some time, a revision of general policy from time to time by the Postmaster-General. I should like to ask him whether he is satisfied with the general policy that is being-pursued and the service that is being offered to the public. I do not wish to criticise the British Broadcasting Corporation. I think the service it has rendered is excellent. With regard to Sunday broadcasting—

I want to suggest that if we could have an improvement with regard to this matter that I want to bring before the Postmaster-General the increase, instead of being £38,000 might be £128,000. Am I not in order?

Are we to understand that the Postmaster-General is responsible for the policy of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

The hon. Lady was raising a point of Order, and I was listening to her. This particular part indicates that there has been a return to the British Broadcasting Corporation owing to an increase of licences.

The point I want to put before you, Mr. Young, is to ask whether it would not be in order to discuss a matter in which a very large number of the citizens of this country are interested, and in regard to which I wanted to urge upon the Postmaster-General that it would lead to a very much larger increase from licence fees.

I think the hon. Lady must await the main Vote for that purpose. At the moment, we cannot discuss the policy of the British Broadcasting Corporation, but only the increased amount received from licences causing increased payment to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

I wanted to raise tht question of Sunday broadcasting, but, with your permission, I will raise it later.

I want to open a rather fresh field for the consideration of the Postmaster-General in respect of the Estimates which have been put before us. There is one part of the Postmaster-General's administration on which his eye rests less frequently than on those parts which are closer to headquarters. I refer to Northern Ireland, which it is quite as much his duty to look after as any other part of the system which he administers. We have before us to-night in Items A 2 and E 1 allusions to increases of traffic—an increase in the volume of postal traffic and also an increase in the volume of parcel mails. The heavier traffic, both in mails and in parcels, to Northern Ireland has this effect, that it generally tends to delay. Mails have to be got from the train to the boat, and later from the boat to another train, and, in the case of my constituency in Londonderry they may have to cross a town as well. Therefore, any increase may tend to delay, and this money, or part of it, is no doubt spent, or should be spent, in making efficient arrangements in order to avoid undue delays in connection with the mails to Northern Ireland. I would like to know whether this is so, and what arrangements have been made. Again and again, I believe 17 times since June, the mails from Kingstown to Belfast have missed the connection. Those mails have been delayed and have had to be delivered by some inappropriate post.

As to another route by which mails and parcel mails are taken from the North of England, the Heysham route, the boat is supposed to get in at half-past six, and it is of great importance that it should get in approximately at that time or it means delay. The Heysham boat has regularly been missing the first delivery which it is scheduled to catch. Anyone carrying on business with the North of England is seriously handicapped by such delay. The further west you are in Northern Ireland the more you are affected by these delays. I should be glad if the Postmaster-General could tell me whether the delay is due to the increased volume of letter and parcel traffic, as well it may be, or whether it is due to some other cause. It is very difficult to tell which it may be. I should like to know what arrangements are being made to deal with these things, and whether it is proposed to put on, as I understand has been suggested, a sorting van on the train from Dublin, which might shorten the time of delivery at the other end, or whether, as I would suggest, it might be better to run through mails as far as possible by Larne and Stranraer. I understand that the complaints as to mails missing their connection are much rarer by the Larne-Stranraer route than by Kingstown or Heysham.

There must be, so far as I can see, a definite discrimination against the Northern Ireland area in connection with the extension of rural telephones. I should have supposed that in spending the sum of £126,000 in extending telephone call offices to villages and rural railway stations, the development of a wholly undeveloped area or an under-developed area such as Northern Ireland would have been one of the prime objects of the sum of money which we are asked to vote. We cannot expect people to get the habit of using a telephone until they have got accustomed to it, until they have seen it in the local post office and have had an opportunity of using it. I associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton), although I do not propose to repeat his arguments, as to the difficulty in a poor agricultural district of getting a guaranteed number of subscribers. It is very hard to get the telephone habit started there, but when it does start it comes with a rush.

The telephone call office is the poor man's telephone, and I would ask the Postmaster-General to give a much wider extension to the system in Northern Ireland. Several hon. Members have said that the English telephone system in the rural areas is about the worst in Europe. I disagree with them strongly, because the English system is twice as good as that in Ireland. From the figures which I have obtained from the right hon. Gentleman, the number of persons per telephone in Great Britain is 24 and in Northern Ireland 56. Therefore, the telephone is only about half as much developed in Northern Ireland as it is in England and Scotland, including the waste spaces, if I may use the term, in Scotland. That shows the urgent need for further development in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland about one-third of the rural post offices and the rural railway stations have telephones. There are even railway junctions which have not got telephones. The figure I have given is about half that in England. In my submission it is a matter which should be set right. Now we come to what is authorised as the programme. Under this Vote there are 124 new stations authorised for Northern Ireland. Even this leaves a large number still unprovided for, but I am anxious to know how many of these have been actually completed and opened, because by December last there were only 38 new telephone stations opened in the area, out of 124 which had been authorised. In all, 3,200 had been opened and yet this, which is the most undeveloped district in the whole of the country has been given only 38 of these.

Let me contrast that with an English county. A question was asked by one of my hon. Friends who represents a constituency in Devonshire, covering about the same period as that with respect to which I asked how many were opened in Northern Ireland. In Devonshire alone, 76 new stations had been opened. That is twice as many as the total for the whole of the six counties in Northern Ireland. I am not in the least degree criticising the right hon. Gentleman for having opened 76 stations in Devonshire, which I am sure were necessary, but I do criticise him with all the power I can in opening that proportion in an English county and only 38 in the whole of the six counties in Northern Ireland.

I pass on to K 3, which deals with the question of work for the Post Office which has been accelerated with a view to the relief of unemployment. Of course, one could quite sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman if in his anxiety to relieve unemployment he should tend to be rather more concerned with unemployment in Great Britain than in Northern Ireland, because unemployment in Northern Ireland is not given in the list over here. There is a separate set of figures, but, still, the right hon. Gentleman's duty as the authority for Post Office work is just as great to those who are unemployed, and who might have some employment in work for the Post Office, in Northern Ireland, as it is to those in this country. As far as I know, there has been only one piece of expedited work in connection with the Post Office started in Northern Ireland. I should be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman could tell me of any other. That is in connection with fresh lines to Glasgow. It is only ancillary to the Glasgow scheme, and is only a fraction of the amount spent on this side of the Channel. I do not think that one pennyworth of expedited work has been started by the Post Office in the rest of Northern Ireland. The only help that has been given has been in connection with the Glasgow scheme, and it has only been given to one district, the Belfast district, and the whole of the rest of the six counties of Northern Ireland, as far as I know, have not had one pennyworth of expedited work allotted to them. I do not think I am asking anything which is unusual or unfair, but I appeal to the Post Office authorities to treat this part of Northern Ireland, not in preference, but on an equality with the rest of this country. I do suggest that the facts which I have brought forward to-night show that it is quite clear that we are not being treated fairly or equally with the rest of the country.

I want to thank the Postmaster-General for his intervention because he certainly anticipated one or two of the points I intended to raise, notably the matter of the increase in the number of wireless licences. There are, however, one or two further points I desire to put before him. I understand, that it is the policy of the Postmaster-General to increase the use of automatic exchanges, and if that is so I should like to know what effect it is likely to have on the employment of telephone operatives. Then with regard to the question of the acceleration of main underground telephone works in connection with the relief of employment. The right hon. Gentleman did not answer the question in regard to putting the telephone wires underground. The interference in the recent gales was extremely bad, and not only from the point of view of the convenience of users of the telephone but from the point of view of economy it would be true economy to spend the large capital sum necessary and place the telephone wires underground. I understand, on your ruling, Mr. Chairman, that it is not possible to go into the question of employment other than the employment given by the money which is in this Vote, but I suggest that what provision can be made should be made for putting the telephone service underground.

I should also like to ask the Postmaster-General to consider whether it is not possible to move the telegraph poles a great deal further back from the side of the road? A large number of accidents occur because these poles are right alongside the road, and in these days of increased motor traffic and road congestion I think this matter should be given some consideration, and in considering it perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will also have in mind putting the wires underground instead of having poles at all. The Postmaster-General mentioned the question of the neophone, and their provision. I suggest that one place where they should be provided as speedily as possible is in the public telephone call boxes, which are used by a large number of people. There is always the danger of a certain amount of infection from the telephone instrument. The provision of this neophone instrument means that the mouthpiece cannot get closer to the user of the telephone than a certain distance, and, from that point of view, they are more hygienic than the present method. I think these neophone telephones should be installed as speedily as possible in all telephone boxes. Those are the only questions I desire to put to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will be able to give me a reply to them.

I hope the Committee will allow us to have this Vote now. [Interruption.] We have had a very lengthy discussion, and it is now 11 o'clock. There are 14 other Votes to follow, and I can assure hon. Members that the various points which have been brought forward for my consideration will be most carefully examined. In fairness to the Votes which are to follow, I hope the Committee will now be ready to pass this Vote.

I hope hon. Members will allow me to answer the few questions which are still outstanding, and will then let us have the Vote.

The hon. Gentleman must not appeal on the ground that there are other Votes to follow. This is Committee of Supply, and we are not concerned with the Votes that are to follow.

I am not appealing on that small ground, but on the ground that the discussion has been a lengthy one. I was asked why it was that in some cases we asked for a guarantee for rural telephones and in other cases did not. The answer is that it depends mainly, even entirely, on the expense which that telephone is going to entail. At present there is not a rural call-office in every post office. If the expense is up to a certain reasonable limit the Post Office meets it, but if the expense is beyond that limit the Post Office meets part of it and asks for a guarantee for the remainder. That is the reason why there is a difference in the treatment of one village as compared with another. The hon. and gallant Member for Londonderry (Major Ross) asked about Northern Ireland. Most of his questions were concerned with delays to the mail traffic between this country and Northern Ireland. These delays have been discussed by the Post Office for some time. At the present moment there is a conference taking place between the Post Office Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland and the Postmaster for Northern Ireland. The latter has put forward certain pro-

Division No. 215.]

AYES.

[11.4 p.m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Burgin, Dr. E. L.Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Gill, T. H.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherCalne, Derwent Hall-Gillett, George M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Cameron, A. G.Glassey, A. E.
Alpass, J. H.Cape, ThomasGossling, A. G.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeCarter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Gould, F.
Angell, NormanCharleton, H. C.Graham, Rt. Hon. Win. (Edin., Cent.)
Arnott, JohnCluse, W. S.Granville, E.
Aske, Sir RobertCocks, Frederick SeymourGray, Milner
Ayles, WalterCove, William G.Greenwood, Rt. Hon A. (Colne).
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)Daggar, GeorgeGrenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Barnes, Alfred JohnDallas, GeorgeHall, G. H Merthyr Tydvil)
Batey, JosephDalton, HughHamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Bellamy, AlbertDavies, E. C. (Montgomery)Hardie, George D.
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Harris, Percy A.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Denman, Hon. R. D.Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Benson, G.Dukes, C.Haycock, A. W.
Bentham, Dr. EthelDuncan, CharlesHayday, Arthur
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Ede, James ChuterHenderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Birkett, W. NormanEdmunds, J. E.Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Bowen, J. W.Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Egan, W. H.Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Brothers, M.Elmley, ViscountHerriotts, J.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Foot, IsaacHoffman, P. C.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Forgan, Dr. RobertHollins, A.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Freeman, PeterHopkin, Daniel
Burgess, F. G.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Horrabin, J. F.

posals, and the Advisory Committee will consider them.

I was about to conclude by saying that the other questions put to me suggest that they have been put, not so much in order that I might give an answer containing information, but that I might deal with them in the Post Office. All the suggestions and complaints that have been made will be looked at very closely, and I hope that as a result many of the points that hon. Members have raised we shall be able to meet.

There is one question that I put specifically, and the Postmaster-General has not answered it, and that was what has become of the £750,000 of the Lord Privy Seal.

The Noble Lord is aware that questions of that sort have been ruled out of order.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 97.

Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Milner, J.Sherwood, G. H.
Hunter, Dr. JosephMorley, RalphShield, George William
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Shillaker, J. F.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Simmons, C. J.
John, William (Rhondda, West)Mort, D. L.Sinkinson, George
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Moses, J. J. H.Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Jowett, Ht. Hon. F. W.Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Muggeridge, H. T.Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Kelly, W. T.Nathan, Major H. L.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Kennedy, ThomasNoel Baker, P. J.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Kinley, J.Oldfield, J. R.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Lang, GordonOliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Sorensen, R.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeOliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Stephen, Campbell
Lathan, G.Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Law, A. (Rosendale)Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Strauss, G. R.
Lawrence, SusanPalin, John HenrySullivan, J.
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Paling, WilfridSutton, J. E.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Leach, W.Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnTaylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Tinker, John Joseph
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Phillips, Dr. MarlonToole, Joseph
Lees, J.Picton-Tubervill, Edith.Tout, W. J.
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Potts, John S.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Logan, David GilbertQuibell, D. J. K.Turner, B.
Longbottom, A. W.Ramsay, T. B. WilsonVaughan, D. J.
Longden, F.Raynes, W. R.Viant, S. P.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Richards, R.Wallace, H. W.
Lunn, WilliamRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Watkins, F. C.
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Welsh, James (Paisley)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Ritson, J.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
McElwee, A.Romeril, H. G.West, F. R.
McEntee, V. L.Rosbotham D. S. T.White, H. G.
McShane, John JamesRowson, GuyWilkinson, Ellen C.
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Salter, Dr. AlfredWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Mansfield, W.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
March, S.Sanders, W. S.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Marcus, M.Sandham, E.Wise, E. F.
Marley, J.Sawyer, G. F.Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Marshall, FredScrymgeour, E.
Messer, FredScurr, John

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.

Middleton, G.Sexton, JamesMr. Hayes and Mr. William Whiteley.
Mills, J. E.Shepherd, Arthur Lewis

NOES.

Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesEdmondson, Major A. J.Ramsbotham, H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Elliot, Major Walter E.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Balllie-Hamilton. Hon. Charles W.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Everard, W. LindsayRodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Balniel, LordFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Salmon, Major I.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Glyn, Major R. G. C.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Gower, Sir RobertSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bird, Ernest RoyGreene, W. P. CrawfordSassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Boothby, R. J. G.Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Smithers, Waldron
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Hartington, Marquess ofSomerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Boyce, H. L.Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Bracken, B.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamHoward-Bury, Colonel C. K.Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Buchan, JohnHudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Butler, R. A.Hurd, Percy A.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardJones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Carver, Major W. H.King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Castle Stewart, Earl ofLamb, Sir J. Q.Warrender, Sir Victor
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonLewis, Oswald (Colchester)Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)Llewellin, Major J. J.Wayland, Sir William A.
Colman, N. C. D.MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Courtauld, Major J. S.Margesson, Captain H. D.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Marjoribanks, E. C.Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Crookshank, Capt. H. C.Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Womersley, W. J.
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyMorrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Muirhead, A. J.
Davies, Dr. VernonNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.

Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Oman, Sir Charles William C.Major Sir George Hennessy and
Duckworth, G. A. V.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamSir Frederick Thomson.
Dug dale, Capt. T. L.Peake, Captain Osbert

Original Question put accordingly, granted for the said Service."

"That a sum, not exceeding £995,000, be

The Committee proceeded to a Division.

(seated and covered): On a point of Order. Was there not a reduction moved by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman)?

Division No. 216]

AYES.

[11.13 p.m.

Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hastings, Dr. SomervillePaling, Wilfrid
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Haycock, A. W.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherHayday, ArthurPeters, Dr. Sidney John
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Alpass, J. H.Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Phillips, Dr. Marion
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHenderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Angell, NormanHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Potts, John S.
Arnott, JohnHerriotts, J.Quibell, D. J. K.
Aske, Sir RobertHoffman, P. C.Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Ayles, WalterHollins, A.Raynes, W. R.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Hopkin, DanielRichards, R.
Barnes, Alfred JohnHorrabin, J. F.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Batey, JosephHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bellamy, AlbertHunter, Dr. JosephRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodHutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Ritson, J.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Romeril, H. G.
Benson, G.John, William (Rhondda, West)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Bentham, Dr. EthelJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Rowson, Guy
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Birkett, W. NormanJowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Bowen, J. W.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Sanders, W. S.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Kelly, W. T.Sandham, E.
Bromfield, WilliamKennedy, ThomasSawyer, G. F.
Brothers, M.Kinley, J.Scrymgeour, E.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Lang, GordonScurr, John
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSexton, James
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Lathan, G.Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Burgess, F. G.Law, A. (Rosendale)Sherwood, G. H.
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Lawrence, SusanShield, George William
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Shillaker, J. F.
Calne, Derwert HallLawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Simmons, C. J.
Cameron, A. G.Leach, W.Sinkinson, George
Cape, ThomasLee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C.Lees, J.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cluse, W. S.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLogan, David GilbertSmith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cove, William G.Longbottom, A. W.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Daggar, GeorgeLongden, F.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Dallas, GeorgeLovat-Fraser, J. A.Sorensen, R.
Dalton, HughLunn, WilliamStephen, Campbell
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Strauss, G. R.
Denman, Hon. R. D.MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Sullivan, J.
Dukes, C.McElwee, A.Sutton, J. E.
Duncan, CharlesMcEntee, V. L.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Ede, James ChuterMcShane, John JamesTaylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Edmunds, J. E.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Marcus, M.Toole, Joseph
Egan, W. H.Marley, J.Tout, W. J.
Elmley, ViscountMarshall, FredTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Foot, IsaacMesser, FredTurner, B.
Forgan, Dr. RobertMiddleton, G.Vaughan, D. J.
Freeman, PeterMills, J. E.Viant, S. P.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Milner, J.Wallace, H. W.
Gibbins, JosephMorley, RalphWatkins, F. C.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gill, T. H.Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Gillett, George M.Mort, D. L.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Glassey, A. E.Moses, J. J. H.West, F. R.
Gossling, A. G.Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)White, H. G.
Gould, F.Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Muggeridge, H. T.Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)
Granville, E.Nathan, Major H. L.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Gray, MilnerNoel Baker, P. J.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Oldfield, J. R.Wise, E. F.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Hall, G. H Merthyr Tydvil)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.

Hardie, George D.Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Mr. Hayes and Mr. William Whiteley.
Harris, Percy A.Palin, John Henry

The Committee divided: Ayes, 209; Noes, 92.

NOES.

Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesEdmondson, Major A. J.Ramsbotham, H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Elliot, Major Walter E.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Everard, W. LindsayRodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Balniel, LordFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Salmon, Major I.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Glyn, Major R. G. C.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Gower, Sir RobertSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bird, Ernest RoyGreene, W. P. CrawfordSassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Boothby, R. J. G.Guinness, Rt. Hon. Waiter E.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Smithers, Waldron
Boyce, H. L.Hartington, Marquess ofSomerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Bracken, B.Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamHeneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Butler, R. A.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHoward-Bury, Colonel C. K.Thomson, Sir F.
Carver, Major W. H.Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Castle Stewart, Earl ofKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonLamb, Sir J. Q.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)Llewellin, Major J. J.Warrender, Sir Victor
Colman, N. C. D.MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Courtauld, Major J. S.Margesson, Captain H. D.Wayland, Sir William A.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Marjoribanks, E. C.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyMorrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Womersley, W. J.
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Muirhead, A. J.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Davies, Dr. VernonNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Oman, Sir Charles William C.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.

Duckworth, G. A. V.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamCaptain Sir George Bowyer and
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Peake, Captain OsbertCaptain Wallace.