Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 237: debated on Monday 24 March 1930

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

House Of Commons

Monday, 24th March, 1930.

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

Private Business

East Surrey Water Bill,

Read the Third time, and passed.

Reading Corporation Bill (Certified Bill), Rochdale Corporation (No. 1) Bill (Certified Bill),

As amended, considered; read the Third time (pursuant to the Order of the House of 11th December), and passed.

Bromborough Dock Bill [Lords],

Falmouth Water Bill [Lords] (Certified Bill),

Shakespeare Birthplace, etc., Trust (Amendment) Bill [Lords],

Read a Second time, and committed.

Bristol Corporation (No. 1) Bill (Certified Bill) (by Order),

Metropolitan Railway Bill (Certified Bill) (by Order),

As amended, considered; read the Third time (pursuant to the Order the House of 11th December), and passed.

Glasgow Corporation Bill (by Order), Second Reading deferred till Wednesday, at half-past Seven of the clock.

Coquet Fisheries Provisional Order Bill, Read the Third time, and passed.

Oral Answers To Questions

India

Railway Official's Memorial

3.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has now received the memorial from Mr. C. N. B. Smart, resident engineer in the service of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company; and, if so, what, if any, decision has been come to in regard to the claim of this officer to be admitted to the benefit of the recommendations of the Lee Commission?

This memorial is still with the Government of India. They inform me that the general question of domicile involved in it is proving very difficult to settle. Many officers will be affected by the decision. Both the Government of India and I greatly regret that the disposal of this memorial should have been, in conse- quence, held up for so long, but I have taken steps to secure that no further avoidable delay shall occur.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see whether a mistake is not being made through mixing up this man's case with the case of other entrants? I think that is what is causing the delay. It is a consideration which does not apply in his case. I do not want to press the right hon. Gentleman for an answer, but I would point out that already 18 months have gone by.

If the hon. Member can show me that this is a case that stands by itself, it may be possible to do something, and I would be very happy to hear from him.

Panjab States Subjects' Association (Memorial)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has seen the memorial addressed to the Viceroy by the members of the executive Board of the Panjab States Subjects' Association, and reported on by a committee of the States People's Conference, presided over by Mr. Amrital V. Thakkar; if not, will he ask to see this; and, if so, what action does he propose to take?

I have seen a copy of the memorial. As it is addressed to the Viceroy, my understand that the Government of India.

Child Marriage Restraint Act

5.

asked the Secretary of State for India what steps, if any, have been taken by the Government of India to give effect, or to obtain the powers necessary to enable them to give effect, to the following recommendations of the Joshi Age of Consent Committee for the purpose of child Marriage Restraint Act, 1928; that an accurate marriage register be kept through an administrative department of the Government containing certain specified particulars; that there shall be a general Act requiring in districts where not already required compulsory notification of births by the father to a. prescribed local authority; that certificates of marriage and certificates of birth be issued free of cost to the parties concerned; that women police be employed in the investigation of sexual offences and that where these are not available other respectable women be invited to be present; and that women jurors be empanelled in trials for rape, etc.?

Local governments have been consulted on these and other recommendations of the Age of Consent Committee and the Government of India is awaiting their views before arriving at a final decision.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there are any women police in India?

Mr Gandhi (Statements)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the Government of India has considered the recent statements of Mr. Gandhi in support of the civil disobedience campaign with a view to prosecution for a breach of the law; and, if so, what action it is intended to take?

The policy of the Government of India in these and kindred matters was announced on 25th January by His Excellency the Viceroy, and to this announcement I would draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman.

Medical Degrees

9.

asked the Secretary of State for India if his attention has been drawn to the action of the Indian university authorities which prevents the General Medical Council from being in a position to guarantee the standard of Indian medical degrees and to recognise them for registration on the general medical register; if he is aware that such action will bar future holders of these degrees from the main field of medical practice outside India; and if he will take steps to ensure a reasonable settlement of the question at an early date?

10.

asked the Secretary of State for India what action the Government of India proposes to take following the refusal of the British Medical Council to extend recognition to Indian medical degrees; and whether it is now the intention of the Government of India to introduce into the assembly during the present session legislation embodying proposals for the early establishment of an All-India Medical Council?

I explained the general position in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon (Mr. Freeman) on the 20th March. I am aware that the decision of the General Medical Council will prevent holders of Indian medical degrees gained during the period of non-recognition from practising in this country. The Government of India informed me on the 6th January that they did not expect to be able to introduce legislation for the establishment of a General Medical Council in India during the present session of the Indian Legislative Assembly, and I have not heard from them since on this point.

Is the right hon. Gentleman taking steps to ask the Government of India whether they cannot provisionally agree to make arrangements so that Indian gentlemen who will qualify for practice during the next six months or 12 months may not be finally debarred from practising for the rest of their lives?

These are, naturally, matters on which I am consulting the Indian Government.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the cause of the dispute is the alleged statement that the training of the Indian medical student is not of the standard which the General Medical Council regard as necessary for practitioners in this country?

It would not be suitable in a reply to a supplementary question to deal with the whole question of training.

Air Force Training (Indians)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for India how many of the Indian gentlemen who sat for the military examinations held in India last November qualified for entrance into Cranwell; and what action the Government of India are taking to organise a separate Indian air force?

Elections

12.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any decision has been arrived at in. regard to the date of the elections to the Legislative Assembly and the Provincial Legislative Councils in India; and, if not, whether he can give any indication as to when he hopes to be in a position to make a statement on this matter?

14.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any and, if so, how many of the seats in the Central and Provincial Legislatures in India vacated by resignation following upon the decisions of the Lahore Congress are being contested by Congress members?

I am making inquiries and will inform my hon. Friend as soon as I receive the information.

Trade And Commerce

Cotton Import Ditties, India

15.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether, in appealing to the Government of India for a reconsideration of their proposal to increase the general tariff on cotton piece goods from 11 per cent, to 20 per cent., he suggested that a preferential rebate should be made to British cotton piece goods; and whether a preferential rebate has been made?

16.

asked the Secretary of State for India if he will state what is the present position of the Cotton Industry Protection Bill; and if he can give the House any additional information about the proposed preferential rebate on British cotton piece goods?

The Bill introduced by the Government of India at the beginning of this month provided for a duty of 15 per cent. on cotton piece goods from the United Kingdom. On cotton piece goods from other countries it provided for a duty of 20 per cent., with a minimum of 3½ annas per pound in the case of plain gray goods only. The Government of India have, I understand, agreed to accept an amendment proposing to provide for the following duties: on plain gray goods from the United Kingdom, 15 per cent., with a minimum of 3½ annas per pound; on other piece goods from the United Kingdom, 15 per cent. The duties on goods from countries other than the United Kingdom remain as in the original Bill. The Measure is still under the consideration of the Legislative Assembly. As the hon. Member will see from the correspondence circulated on the 17th March, the representations made to the Government of India came from the Cabinet. No suggestion was or has been made by me at any time as to the preferential treatment of goods from the United Kingdom. This suggestion originated in India.

Having regard to the policy of His Majesty's Government being contrary to preferential tariffs, has this proposal of the Government of India the approval of His Majesty's Government?

I am called upon to protect the fiscal rights of India, and that I intend to do.

May we take it that the representations made by the Cabinet were made prior to the consideration of the amendment, and that since the amendment no representations of any kind have been made?

Yes. As the hon. Member will see from the date of the telegram to which I referred as being sent by the Cabinet, they were prior to Mr. Cheety's amendment.

Is it a fact that, whatever amendments may be made, it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government to make representations to protect the interests of Lancashire?

The hon. Member must make no assumptions on his own account. He must follow the correspondence and make accurate deductions from it.

Is it not clear that, since representations were made, there has been a change of policy—that in the first case the Cabinet did think it necessary to make representations and that since the change of policy no remarks have come from His Majesty's Government?

The Cabinet sent their considered views in the telegram, but they have to have regard to the established and indisputable rights of India and the Legislative Assembly in these matters.

Export Trade (Advertising Schemes)

41.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has any knowledge of any recent schemes organised by British manufacturers and traders for advertising British goods abroad; and whether His Majesty's Government have made any contribution towards them?

Certain schemes for advertising British goods abroad have been brought to my attention. My Department has been, and still is, ready to give any assistance in its power to well-considered schemes put forward by representative bodies but has not made, and is not proposing to make any financial contribution.

Russia (Export Credits)

42.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what is the total amount of credit granted by the present Government under the Export Credit Facilities Act for exports to the Soviet Union and to all other countries, respectively?

The face value of contracts entered into under the Export Credits Guarantee Scheme from 10th June, 1929, to 1st March last in respect of exports to Russia was £719,370, and in respect of exports to all other countries £3,192,952.

Apart from the Soviet Union, which comes under a special dispensation, have any credits been granted to individuals or firms who had defaulted in their obligations towards British bondholders?

58.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he will consider whether preferential treatment can be given in the matter of guarantees under the Export Credits Facilities Act to British nationals whose property has been confiscated by the Soviet?

I fear it would not be practicable io adopt the hon. and gallant Member's proposal.

Can the hon. Gentleman make any suggestions in order to help these British nationals?

I am afraid that I cannot in connection with the Export Credits Department.

59.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department how much money, up to date, has been advanced by way of loan under the Export Credit Facilities Act to agents of the Soviet Government; and whether it is intended to continue these facilities and increase them?

No money has been advanced by way of loan or otherwise under the Export Credits Guarantee Scheme to agents of the Soviet Government. The Department has, up to the 1st March, contracted to guarantee the payment of bills of exchange for £719,370, drawn by British exporters in respect of exports to Russia. It is proposed to continue the facilities afforded by the scheme.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what will be the sum total represented in applications for credit facilities which have been rejected because the period in question was over 12 months?

Is it not the policy of His Majesty's Government not to grant any facilities for loans until the question of debts has been settled and until the Soviet Government—

Brazil

43.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has taken any steps to confer with the Brazilian Government in order to develop the importation of Brazilian high-grade iron ore, Brazilian cotton, and Brazilian beef, against Brazil taking British manufactured goods?

Will the hon. Gentleman put this point to the Brazilian Government when the Brazilian Government again seeks in the near future to issue a loan in London?

Denmark (Trade Mission)

44.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has considered the despatch of an economic mission to Denmark, seeing that Britain is Denmark's best customer and that Denmark could take a much larger volume of British productions?

The question of the despatch of economic missions to various countries abroad is at present under consideration. His Majesty's Legation at Copenhagen and my Department have been taking active steps to endeavour to increase British export trade with Denmark. It is too early yet to say whether the despatch of an economic mission to Denmark would be one of the best methods of attaining this object.

is the hon. Gentleman aware that, owing to the disorganisation of trade between Denmark and Germany, now is an opportune moment for a little initiative to be used, with every hope of a satisfactory result for British trade, and will he, therefore, consider at once the sending of a trade mission?

Is this not a question of the efficiency of the consular representation, and, having regard to the special circumstances, will the whole question of consular representation and their efficiency in the last 10 years be considered with a view to replacement where necessary?

It is only a part of the question that concerns consuls. Our Minister at Copenhagen has taken a very active part in regard to this subject.

I hope the hon. Gentleman will rest assured that I made no reflection upon our consuls. I mean that he should go rather a little further by backing them up with a trade mission.

Textile Trade (Exports)

48.

asked the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department whether any representative of his Department has recently visited Lancashire for the purpose of initiating with manufacturers measures to recapture the sale of medium quality sheetings in the South American markets?

49.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether his Department has taken steps to consult Lancashire manufacturers of flannelettes and gabardines with a view to discovering the reason, and finding a remedy, for the relatively small amount of our exports of those goods to the River Plate?

The commercial counsellor to His Majesty's Embassy in Buenos Aires was in Manchester for four days last month for the special purpose of affording an opportunity to any firms who desired to discuss with him any questions and difficulties in connection with their trade with Argentina which he can, if necessary, investigate on his return to Buenos Aires next month. Sir William Clare Lees, who visited South America with Lord D'Abernon's Mission,, has recently addressed a meeting in Manchester.

Rolling Stock (Jamaica Ant) South Africa)

52.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has yet conferred with the manufacturers of rolling stock respecting the recent loss of orders for Jamaica and South Africa; and, if he has, what arrangements he has made to secure such orders in future?

My Department has recently had certain consultations with members of the industry concerned in regard to orders such as those mentioned. It is under consideration whether a conference on this subject would serve a useful purpose.

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the resolution passed by the Bradford chamber of Commerce in favour of Free Trade within the Empire?

Russia

Religious Situation

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any Report from His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow regarding any abatement of religious persecution in Russia following upon the recent decree?

I have nothing to add to the reply which I returned (Mr. Albery) on the 17th of March.

But this question does not deal with the original persecution, but with the original persecution, but with the abatement, and has the right hon. Gentleman had no information about that?

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the British Ambassador has as yet replied to his inquiry concerning the English Church in Moscow?

Yes, Sir. I under stand that while the church itself is unused, the property of which it forms part is at present occupied by the Finnish Legation. The use of this church by the British community hardly arises as a practical qustion. The possible congregation is extremely small and not in a position to undertake the expenditure for upkeep, heating, etc., which would be necessary. Moreover, their spiritual needs are at present being met by the services held in the Embassy building.

The church is not required for the reasons I have already given, and the church is unused at the moment, as I have reported to the House on more than one occasion.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke a moment ago about the service being held in the Embassy building. Is there by this time an Embassy building, or does he mean the hotel in which the Embassy was at first quartered?

There is a house that has been used, though part of the staff of the Embassy are located at an hotel.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with reference to the recent announcement made by the Central Committee of the Communist party in Russia containing instructions to local party organisation concerning churches, whether this announcement was reported to him from an official source; and if His Majesty's Government regards the central committee ot the communist party in Russia as being representative of the Russian Government?

I think it may be assumed that, in making an announcement of this kind, the Executive Committee of the Communist party represents the views of the Soviet Government.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the second part of the question as to whether His Majesty's Government regard the Central Committee of the Communist party in Russia as being representative of the Russian Government?

May we have an answer to the first part of the question. [Interruption.]

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any discussions took place between himself, or anyone on his behalf, and any Soviet representative in this country on the subject of the publication or non-publication of the report which has been received from the British ambassador at Moscow, with regard to the religious persecution that is going on in Russia, before the decision of the Government not to issue the report to Members of the House was arrived at?

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's decision, and his decision alone, that we are not going to have any Papers in regard to what has taken place on any communications from the Russian ambassador?

The decision which I gave to the House was the decision of His Majesty's Government.

Then there is going to be this secret diplomacy which you always deplore.

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has ascertained from the British Ambassador at Moscow as to whether religious education, or religious instruction, or Bible readings of any kind may be given to children or young people in public or private schools or at meetings or circles for Biblical or religious instruction within Soviet Russia?

No, Sir. The points raised in the hon. Member's question appear to be covered by Articles 3, 17 and 18 of the Decree of the 8th of April, 1929, which has been issued as a Command Paper.

Is it not a fact that the articles to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred me expressly forbid the giving of any religious instruction to children, and is not that in itself evidence of religious persecution?

Yes. The Foreign Secretary referred me to certain articles. Is it not a fact that those particular articles forbid all organised religious instruction being given to children, and is that not evidence of religious persecution?

On a further point of Order, may I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that, as the matter of religious education in Russia is one of the internal affairs of Russia, it ought not to be the subject of questions in this House?

British Relations

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the subjects he Ambassador other than those arising out of the recent treaty?

No, Sir. It is not in accordance with precedent, and I do not consider that it would be in the public interest to give detailed information, in reply to Parliamentary questions, regarding all subjects touched upon in my conversations with the representatives of foreign States.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether at any time he has raised with the Soviet Ambassador the question of religious persecution in Russia?

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, seeing that negotiations with the Soviet for a period of three months, he can intimate when he will be in a position to mak a statement regarding their progress?

I am not prepared to commit myself to any particular date, but the House may rest assured that there has been, and will be, no avoidable delay in these negotiations.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give some indication as to what time the negotiations will take to complete?

I am afraid that I cannot. Ambassador communicating with his Government, and, after he has sent a communication through, it is often two or three weeks before we get the reply. It is quite impossible for me to name a date at this moment.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman indicate some period—say one day, or one year. or some approximate time?

Are we to understand the right hon. Gentleman to say definitely that, when the negotiations are concluded, he will make a statement to this House?

I have already intimated to the House, in reply to another question, that I will take into consideration the question whether the circumstances enable me to make a statement; and, as soon as the circumstances do, that statement will be made.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether any progress at all has yet been made in the settlement of the claims of British creditors?

55.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether any financial assistance is being given to Russia by the Government, either directly or indirectly, other than through the exports credits guarantee scheme?

Timber Exports (Forced Labour)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will call for a report from the British Minister to Finland in regard to the unrest on the Russo-Finnish border and the recent representative meeting there; and as to whether there is danger of an outbreak through the impressment of numbers of Ingrians for timber labour in the forests?

No, Sir. I have no reason to suppose that the disturb- antes to which the hon. and gallant Member refers are of such magnitude as to warrant my calling for special reports upon the subject.

Is it the policy of the Government to do nothing in this matter and rest under the comments which are being made in the Swedish and Finnish Press about us receiving the products of slave labour?

British Embassy, Petrograd (Plate)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has asked the British Ambassador in Moscow to make representations with regard to the theft of the Embassy plate at Petrograd; and whether a claim has been submitted for this?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to our Ambassador in Moscow, and ask him also especially to keep his eyes open?

I am quite satisfied that our Ambassador, since he has been in Moscow, has had his eyes well open.

Debts, Claims And Counter-Claims

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the joint committee of experts for the discussion and settlement of claims and debts against the Soviet Government by British nationals has been set up, as contemplated in the Protocol of 3rd October, 1929?

No, Sir. The constitution of the contemplated committee and the scope of its work are still under consideration.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is in the interest of the British taxpayer that we should be committed to a further liability of £2,000,000 while these claims remain outstanding?

At Question Time we are not concerned with Ministers' opinions or what they think.

Propaganda

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the issue of "Pravda," the official organ of the Soviet Government, of the 17th instant, stating that the Soviet Government never has, and never will, negotiate with anyone regarding the activities of the Comintern; and whether, in view of the express terms of the treaty between this country and Soviet Russia, he will take up this matter immediately with the Soviet Ambassador and ask for the explanation of his Government and report the same to the House?

No, Sir; but I have seen a similar article which appeared in "Pravda" of the 18th March. As regards the last parts of the question, I am not disposed to give undue attention to articles in "Pravda," which is not the "official organ of the Soviet Government," as the right hon. Gentleman alleges.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is another breach of the Agreement; and how long is he going to submit to being humiliated in this way?

Will the right hon. Gentleman state the evidence on which he says that this is not the official journal of the Soviet Government?

Is not "Pravda" the official organ of the Communist party, which is really supreme in Russia?

League Of Nations

Great Britain (Liabilities)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, seeing that under Article 16 of the Covenant as it stands Great Britain is bound to sever financial and commercial intercourse with any State which goes to war without submitting the dispute to report by the Council of the League or thereafter acts against the unanimous recommendation of the Council, and that under the proposed amendment to Article 16 Great Britain will be bound to sever relations with any State which goes to war in any circum- stances, he will state whether this increase in our liabilities has the approval of His Majesty's Government?

The Committee for the amendment of the Covenant proposed no amendment to Article 16. The Committee, a copy of whose Report is available in the Library, expressed the view that the effect of their amendments would be to reduce the chances of war and therefore the possibility of sanctions. The Committee's Report is at present under consideration.

Will these possible amendments to the Covenant be communicated to the American Government and shall we consider their views prior to committing ourselves?

I do not see that I am under any obligation to communicate these amendments to the American Government or to non-members of the League.

Is it not a fact that the amendments are due to the Kellogg Pact, and is it not also the fact that the risks we incur will be due to America taking a different view from ourselves of our liabilities under the Covenant of the League?

Disarmament (Preparatory Commission)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to state when the next meeting of the Preparatory Commission for Disarmament will be held at Geneva?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say that, whatever the results of the Naval Conference, the Government intend to press on at the earliest possible moment with the full Disarmament Conference?

The matter does not rest with His Majesty's Government. It will be for the Preparatory Commission to recommend to the Council or Assembly of the League when the Disarmament Conference should be held.

Government Departments

Foreign Office (Passport Department)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in order to secure a reduction in the number of persons employed in the passport department of the Foreign Office and to obviate the annoyance to the public, he is taking any steps to reduce the necessity for carrying passports and securing visas?

As I informed the House as recently as the 26th of February, the passport system has a very real value in connection with the white slave traffic, and also, in view of the unemployment problem in this country, for the control of immigration, as explained in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Kennington (Mr. Matters), on the 6th of November. The Passport Office is not concerned with the issue of visas, but I would observe that agreements for the abolition of visas have been concluded with a considerable number of European countries, including those most frequently visited by British subjects.

Is it actually necessary for passports alone to employ 264 people in the Foreign Office?

When you employ anyone you set that person on and these people have not been set on during the régime of this Government. The right hon. Gentleman must have clearly understood that from my first reply.

May I press for an answer to a very plain question, whether the right hon. Gentleman really considers that for passport purposes it is necessary to employ 264 people?

As the late Government thought it necessary I o employ them, surely the right hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot object to me continuing them.

Consular Service

50.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what is the total number of British Consular officers, including honorary officers, serving abroad; how many of these are unpaid; and whether it is proposed to increase the number of paid Consular officers?

There are at present 897 British Consular officers. Of these 376 are salaried officers. The remaining 521 are unsalaried, including 16 acting officers. As regards the last part of the question, it is not at present contemplated to increase the number except in regard to the Soviet Union.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of these unsalaried officers are in very important commercial posts? Is the matter receiving his continued attention?

I am aware of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman bas said, but I do not understand in what way he wants me to act.

The hon. Gentleman might increase the number of State officers, from whom naturally more service can be expected.

Export Credits Department

57.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what action has been taken in connection with the Report of the Niemeyer Committee which was appointed to consider the future of the Export Credits Guarantee Department?

I propose to make a statement to the House on this matter at the earliest opportunity.

Embassy, Washington (Furniture)

79.

asked the First Commissioner of Works if he will give the reasons why it is the Permanent Secretary of his Department who should be directed to visit America with the primary object of dealing with the standard of furnishing of the new Embassy at Washington; and will he state the reasons why the technical officers of his Department are not considered suit- ably qualified to decide on the spot important points relating to the furnishing of the Embassy?

The matters demanding settlement are of sufficient importance to require the decision of the Permanent Secretary, and of such a nature that a decision could not properly be given without a personal visit. It is impossible to give the technical offcers of the Department the unfettered discretion implied in the second discretion implied in the second part of the question.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say, roughly, what this trip will cost?

New Buildings, Edinburgh

81.

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he has yet received the Report of the Scottish Fine Arts Commission on the plans for the new buildings on the Calton site in Edinburgh; and whether he will state the terms of reference to the Commission?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland has not been limited to any precise terms of reference in this matter, but has been asked to advise and report upon the plans, etc., which have been submitted to it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that no final decision shall be come to in regard to these plans until the City Council of Edinburgh has been fully consulted?

That matter has been settled between the late Government and the city council.

Embassy, Rio De Janeiro

82.

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he proposes to send the Permanent Secretary of his Department to Rio de Janeiro in order to set the standard of the building and furnishing of the new Embassy there, or whether he proposes to entrust the supervision to the discretion of the technical officers responsible for the work connected with the new Embassy?

The development of the scheme for a new Embassy at Rio de Janeiro has not yet reached a stage at which any question can arise as to whether points of policy or principle connected with the building and furnishing services, carried out by the executive divisions of the Department, call for a visit by the Permanent Secretary of my Department. Any such question will, however, be decided on its merits as and when occasion arises.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take advantage of the occasion of the opening at the new Embassy at Rio to give another joy-ride to one of the permanent officials?

I think that is a perfectly offensive question in reference to a civil servant who, I believe, is most highly respected by everyone.

Passports

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any negotiations are proceeding for the abolition of the passports between Great Britain and any foreign Powers, on the lines of the abolition of passports between Norway, Sweden and Denmark?

No negotiations for the abolition of passports are in progress. I would observe that, although an arrangement between the Scandinavian countries provides for the abolition of passports under certain conditions in the case of their respective nationals entering one another's territories, a so-called "Scandinavian travel card" is required instead.

Yugoslavia (Bomb Outrages)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement with regard to the representations made by the representatives, at Sofia, of Great Britain, France, and Italy, to the Bulgarian Government with a view to taking such steps as may be possible for the prevention of any repetition of the bomb outrages committed at Pirot and Strumnitza, in Yugoslavia, on the 3rd March arid 9th March by Macedonian revolutionaries operating from Bulgarian territory?

His Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the French and Italian Governments, have tendered advice to the Bulgarian Government through the intermediary of their representatives at Sofia; and, according to the latest information at my disposal, the Bulgarian Government are endeavouring with tact and courage to take the situation in hand and to arrest and punish those responsible for the outrages. The three Governments have also urged the Yugoslav Government to maintain an attitude of patience and forbearance, and both Governments will have all the sympathy of His Majesty's Government in their attempts to liquidate these incidents in a spirit of mutual co-operation.

Are His Majesty's Government satisfied that the Bulgarian Government have taken all possible steps up to the present to prevent a repetition of these outrages?

Egypt (Draft Agreement)

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he intends to make any proposals to the Egyptian delegation going beyond the draft agreement of last year; and, if so, what is their nature?

No, Sir. The proposals of His Majesty's Government are already on record in Command Paper 3376 of 1929.

Does the right hon. Gentleman still consider them to be his absolute limit?

Great Britain And United States (Visa Fees)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the amount paid by British subjects visiting the United States in the way of visa fees annually; and the relation which this sum bears to the amount charged to Americans visiting this country on account of visa fees?

No figures are available as to the amount paid annually in visa fees by British subjects visiting the United States, but, according to the last annual report of the United States Secretary of Labour in my possession, 23,197 visitors from the United Kingdom were admitted to the United States in the United States fiscal year 1927–28. The majority of these persons would have paid a fee of 10 dollars, though a few may have been in transit. For the year 1928, the fees collected for visas issued to United States citizens visiting this country amounted to about £170,000.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this is a case for mutual cancellation of visa fees in both countries?

I have already stated to the House that for financial reasons we could not do it at present.

China (Attack On British Ship)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the attack on 15th January last on the British vessel "Tuckwo" by an armed boarding party of Chinese under the guise of their being under orders from the Kiangsu Government to intercept the ship and remove well-known bad characters and a quantity of ammunition; that, in the first place, this boarding party opened fire on the vessel with rifles, killing a Chinese passenger and seriously wounding a quartermaster; that, when on board the vessel, having searched for opium, of the existence of which apparently they were aware, they left the ship taking with them large packages of opium weighing about 50 pounds a-piece, also small packages of opium from the third-class Chinese passenger quarters; that the vessel was subjected to frequent volleys of rifle fire on the ship by Chinese on the river bank; that at the time a member of His Majesty's Legation was on passage in the vessel from Nanking to Shanghai; whether any official Report of the circumstances has been received from him or from the Legation; and whether any official steps have been taken to prevent occurrences of this kind in the future?

I have received from His Majesty's Minister at Peking a memorandum prepared by the member of His Majesty's Legation who was on board the steamship "Tuckwo' on the 15th January when the vessel was fired on and boarded by a party of Chinese who professed to be in search of arms, opium, and a bank robber, and removed from the ship a considerable quantity of opium. One Chinese passenger was apparently shot dead, and the Chinese quartermaster of the ship was shot and subsequently died. No attempt was made to interfere with the foreign passengers or their cabins. His Majesty's Minister subsequently made a vigorous protest to the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs. Sir Miles Lampson 'said that, while he had instructed His Majesty's Consuls to arrange, in proper cases, for search in regular form by duly accredited Chinese anti-opium officials of British ships at the ports, there must be no more of these unwarranted attacks on British shipping.

In view of the very un-settled state of affairs which is developing in China, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving more adequate protection to officers and seamen navigating British ships in Chinese waters?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any reply has been received from the Foreign Minister to the protest which has been made?

United States (Seizure Of British Ship)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the seizure in territorial waters of a British ship by American coastguards-men alleged to be acting in connection with an undecided civil claim against the company owning the vessel; whether he can state the facts of this seizure; whether this practice of seizing vessels under similar circumstances is adopted generally by foreign nations; and how many British vessels have been seized under similar circumstances?

According to reports in the Press—and I have no other information on the subject—a British ship, the "Chief Capilano," was seized on the 19th March within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States by a United States revenue cutter, on a writ obtained by certain United States shippers who had a claim against her owners. The "Chief Capilano" was, I understand, released on the 21st or 22nd March, the United States Federal Court at Seattle having held her seizure to have been illegal. As regards the hon. Member's inquiry whether the practice of seizing vessels under similar circumstances is adopted generally by foreign nations, this all depends on the domestic law of the nations concerned. As regards the last part of the question, I have no information as to the number of British vessels arrested in circumstances similar to the "Chief Capilano."

Will any compensation be paid, in view of the fact that the seizure was illegal?

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

39.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether the alteration he claims to have made in dealing with the pensions of men who have passed the seven-year limit applies also to the widows of men who have died more than seven years after discharge from the Army; and, if so, in what way the conditions of the latter have been altered?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given to a similar question by him on 17th February.

Palestine

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government maintains the view that the major questions of policy effecting the future administration of the Palestine mandate are out- side the terms of reference of the Shaw Commission and cannot be affected by its Report?

"Major questions" of policy are for the Government to determine. It was announced in September last that, when the Report of the Shaw Commission had been received, the Government would consider along what lines within the terms of the Mandate future policy in Palestine should be directed. That question they will consider; but I am certainly not prepared to say that their conclusions will not be "affected" by the Report of the Commission.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say that they will not be affected to the extent of deflecting in any way from the terms of the mandate?

Certainly. I only guarded myself, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question is a very wide one.

Are we to take it that the Government definitely do not intend to set up a Royal Commission in connection with the future of Palestine, but intend to come to a decision themselves on the subject after the Report is received?

If the House would just await the consideration, that is one of the points which we shall have to pass in review when we have finished the study of the Report.

London Naval Conference

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he call assure. the House that, in the discussions which he is conducting in connection with the Naval Conference, he has made it clear to the representatives of the other Powers that there is no intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to seek to abate in any way the obligations already assumed by this country under the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Locarno?

His Majesty's Government have neither contemplated nor discussed any abatement of their obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations or the Treaty of Locarno.

May we take it also that the Government have not discussed any increase in the way of those obligations?

I think all these questions ought to be put down, because the House will obviously understand that an unprepared answer is sometimes rudely given.

Coal Industry (Lord Mayor's Fund)

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the intention to wind up the Lord Mayor of London's fund for the relief of distressed mining areas; and whether any steps will be taken to meet distress in these areas which would otherwise have been relieved from that fund?

I have been asked to reply. The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, the powers and resources in the hands of the new public assistance authorities will, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health anticipates, suffice without further emergency measures.

Will the hon. Lady say that, in the event of the Lord Mayor's Fund being wound up, due consideration will be given to the distress in those mining areas, which is now almost as great as it ever was before?

My right hon. Friend anticipates that the new public assistance authorities will be able to meet the situation. We shall certainly watch the matter.

British Holiday Resorts

54.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether, in view of the trade depression throughout the country generally, he will, in the interests of British holiday resorts, suggest to the Travel Association of Great Britain and Ireland the desirability of initiating an effective propaganda campaign by Press, poster, wireless, etc., urging the public to spend their holidays this year in Great Britain instead of abroad?

The Travel Association of Great Britain and Ireland is carrying out all over the world a national publicity campaign in order to increase the number of visitors to this country. The British health and pleasure resorts, a number of whom are members of the Association, will benefit directly from this campaign. For the Association to urge people in this country not to go abroad would be contrary to the objects for which the Association was formed. On the other hand, as the result of the publicity given to our own country, persons at home will, no doubt, realise that many of the advantages which they are in the habit of seeking abroad would be found in Great Britain and Ireland.

Horses (Export)

60.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of horses that were exported to France or Belgium for the three months ended to the last convenient date?

The number of horses exported to France or Belgium from Great Britain during the three months December, 1929, to February, 1930, was 970.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the majority of these horses are killed with the greatest cruelty in the slaughter-houses in Belgium and France?

Can my right hon. Friend say how many of the horses which were exported to France and Belgium were exported for slaughter?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make some public statement in the Press as to the true facts of the situation regarding the exportation of horses, because Members of this House are being inundated with letters from all kinds of people, and all that we want to know are the facts?

I made a statement in answer to a question last Thursday, and I think that their attention should be called to it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement in the Press in order to save the continuance of this enormous amount of correspondence?

Can my right hon. Friend say definitely that no horses have been exported to France and Belgium for slaughter during the last two or three months?

Fishing Industry (Loan Facilities)

61.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he proposes to extend to English fishermen the same loan facilities for the replacement of lost nets and gear as are being granted in the case of Scottish fishermen?

The loan facilities referred to are being granted only in respect of the replacement of nets and gear lost by Scottish fishermen in the gale of 11th November last. The loss of gear by English vessels in that gale did not, to any appreciable extent, fall upon the fishermen themselves but upon the shore owners of the vessels. These owners have made no appeal for public assistance, and I have no reason to think that they desire it.

English Harbours (Debt Remission)

62.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is taking any steps to relieve the financial and economic position of the English fishing harbours on the same lines as is being done for Scotland?

The remission of certain harbour debts due to the Development Fund in respect of English harbours has been considered on the same basis as debts in respect, of Scottish harbours. Remissions have been sanctioned in the case of the harbours at Berwick, Newlyn, Staithes and Brixham.

Is the right hon. Gentleman going to have a survey made of the other small harbours around the English coast in the same way as is being done in Scotland?

The subject is being gone into very carefully by the Fisheries Inquiry which is now proceeding.

Agriculture

Credits

63.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the annual liability falling upon his Department or upon the Treasury to meet public expenses in connection with the Agricultural Credits Act, 1928; and what is the amount of public money that has been expended to date?

Mr. N. BUXTON