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Commons Chamber

Volume 237: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1930

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 25th March, 1930.

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

Untitled Debate

Oral Answers To Questions

Unemployment

South Wark

1.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether any schemes or proposals have been made to him by the borough of Southwark to date for the purpose of relieving unemployment and with what result; and whether he has any plans for the relief of unemployment in this borough?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to him on this subject on the 10th December, 1929, and the 11th of this month to which I have nothing to add.

Canada (British Coal)

2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can now make a statement concerning the proposal for the purpose of mitigating unemployment that vessels carrying grain from Canada might secure return cargoes of British coal?

Yes, Sir, my information is that very considerable orders for British anthracite and soft coal have been obtained in Canada and that a substantial volume of tonnage has been chartered for this trade for the opening of the St. Lawrence navigation.

Lindsey County Council (New Offices)

3.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can make any statement regarding the scheme put forward to him by the Lindsey County Council for the completion of the new county council offices as an aid to helping local unemployment?

It has not yet been possible to give a decision on the scheme which is still under consideration by the Unemployment Grants Committee.

Derbyshire

4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether any further schemes to deal with the unemployment problem in Derbyshire have been submitted to his Department since the 21st January last; if he will give the names of the authorities which have submitted these further schemes and particulars as to the nature of the work involved; and if he will state which of these schemes and which of the schemes under consideration on the 21st January have been approved or are still under consideration, and the total amount of money involved in each case?

As the answer is a long one and involves considerable detail, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate in it the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

I understand my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind the districts of Long Eaton, Borrowash, Alvastone, Melbourne and Swadlincote. No formal applications for grant in respect of schemes of work for the relief of unemployment have been received from these districts by the Unemployment Grants Committee since 21st January, 1930. The Committee are in communication with the Swadlincote Urban District Council regarding a scheme of road reconstruction which that council have in contemplation. Since 21st January, 1930, a road improvement scheme costing £1,753, submitted by the Alvastone and Boulton Urban District Council, has been approved for grant by the Committee.

Motor Industry

5.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if his attention has been called to the increase in unemployment in the motor vehicle manufacturing trade of which the Ministry of Labour March Gazette makes special mention; and whether he has any proposals with regard to its alleviation?

I am aware of the increases in unemployment to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. With regard to the second part of the question I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the White Paper which I presented to Parliament a few days ago, which shows the large amount of Government assistance given to schemes of national development. I have also repeatedly explained to the House the policy which I am actively pursuing with a view to encouraging by every means possible the extension of British trade both in home and overseas markets.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make further representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in addition to those which he has already made, with regard to the danger of taking off these duties?

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the reason that there is so much unemployment in this trade is due to the horse-power tax put on by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Bristol

6.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many of the schemes that have been approved by the Government for the relief of unemployment in the city of Bristol have been commenced; and when the rest of the schemes will be started?

Two schemes in the Bristol district have been approved under Part I of the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act, 1929. One of these, estimated to cost some £1,200,060, was commenced on the 5th March, the other, involving expenditure of £144,000, is due to start by the 14th May. Under Part II of the Act, 15 schemes submitted during the period 1st June, 1929, to 28th February, 1930, have been approved for grant by the Unemployment Grants Committee. Work has started on at least 11 of these schemes, two of which have already been completed. As regards the remaining four schemes, my information is that work should start at a very early date. Seven road schemes estimated to cost £180,580 have also been approved. Work has started on four of these schemes.

May I ask whether the trade union rates of wages are being paid in connection with these schemes?

The usual Fair Wages Clause is always inserted, but I cannot speak for any definite or particular scheme. If the hon. Member has any case in mind, perhaps he will draw my attention to it.

Mercantile Marine

Health Conditions

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to state when the joint advisory committee set up by the Ministry of Health and the Board of Trade to consider matters affecting the health of the mercantile marine will make their report?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on this subject to the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) on the 24th December, 1929, of which I am sending him a copy.

Can the President of the Board of Trade say something more as to what is the real position, because that is a long time ago?

I was not asked that in the question, but, if the hon. and gallant Member will put down a question on that point, I will give him the information up to date.

British Seamen (Employment)

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether His Majesty's Government proposes to introduce legislation providing that every ship flying the British flag shall carry a certain number of British seamen?

While I am anxious to secure the greatest possible amount of employment for British seamen, I am afraid that the course suggested would not necessarily help in that direction.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say if he has received any representations lately on this subject from the Seamen's Union or any other union?

No, Sir, not representations, but I have answered questions which have been asked in the House recently to which I have given rather long replies.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that legislation on these lines exists in a number of countries, and has been most successful; and will the right hon. Gentleman consider this fact in view of the abnormal unemployment among seamen at the present time?

That point has been put in previous questions. As regards ships trading (here, they are subject to regulations, but, as regards ships trading abroad, the position is difficult, because, as I have already told the House, I am afraid that any effort may lead to ships being registered abroad, and, in that case, it might lead to more and not less unemployment.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that ships regularly trading here are paying off British crews arid engaging foreign crews, and can nothing be done to stop that?

I have already replied to questions on that point put to me by my hon. and gallant Friend, but I find very great difficulty in dealing with the question.

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present number of British seamen registered as unemployed; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

At 24th February, 1930, there were 21,143 wholly unemployed seamen on the registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain, but statistics of the numbers who were British subjects are not available. As regards the second part of the question, no doubt my hon. and gallant Friend is aware of the efforts which are being made to extend trade in the hope of reducing unemployment.

Would my right hon. Friend be prepared to receive a deputation from the seamen concerned when he has seen the Coal Bill successfully through the House?

In view of the serious unemployment which has just been disclosed, will the right hon. Gentleman consider some means of endeavouring to raise the percentage of British seamen above that figure?

I have already replied to numerous questions on that point. As far as I have any influence in the matter, it will be exercised in that direction, but the difficulties are very considerable.

Dundee (Port Conference Regulations)

20.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether representations have been made to him regarding the position of Dundee under what are termed the port conference regulations, whereby vessels discharging at that port are debarred from receiving there return cargo, which, although available, must be sent to Glasgow at increased cost; and will he take steps to facilitate the removal of the embargo?

No representations have been made to me in the matter, and I am informed that vessels discharging at Dundee also load there. If my hon. Friend has any information to the contrary, and will send it to me, I will have the matter investigated.

Cinematograph Films Act

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any representations have been made to him, either by the associations or societies connected with the cinematograph industry or by private exhibitors, asking that Part I of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927, should be amended, in view of the inability of the exhibitors to procure sufficient good British films to comply with the requirements of the Act?

I have just received a resolution on this subject from the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association which is under consideration.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, if the Act is allowed to remain as at present, it will bring a great amount of ruin to the British cinematograph industry, and cause still more unemployment?

I know there are matters in that Act which are in dispute, and I have always indicated that in regard to past legislation. I shall be most willing to consider any matter arising under the Act.

Wheat And Bread Prices

12.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if and when the reduction in the price of bread suggested by the Food Council is likely to become effective?

I understand that the price recommended for bread by the London associations of master bakers was reduced yesterday to 8d. per 4 lb., which is within the scale approved by the Food Council.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that bread has been sold recently in Liverpool at 2½d. per two-pound loaf, and can be give the House any information on that subject?

I could not do so without notice. I have answered the hon. Member's question which referred to the price of bread in London. If any more information is wanted, perhaps the hon. Member will put down a further question.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks 8d. for a four-pound loaf is a fair price in present circumstances, in view of the low price of wheat?

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give figures for any definite dates to show the extent to which variations in the price of wheat affect the retail price of bread?

With the hon. and gallant Member's consent, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving a comparison of the average values of imported wheat and of the price of bread in London, during a period before the War and a recent period, which will illustrate the relation between the prices of wheat and bread.

Is it not the fact that the price of wheat has varied by something like 17s. in the last eight months; and, if that be so, would it not be possible for the Government to put a duty of 10s. a quarter on foreign wheat without varying the price of bread to the consumer?

Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of the Food Council to the disparity between the present price of wheat and the price of the loaf; and does he think that 8d. a loaf is a suitable and adequate price at the present time?

In reply to the second Supplementary Question, this matter is constantly before the Food Council, and, in fact, a question was asked upon it by an hon. Member opposite earlier to-day.

Is it not a fact that private enterprise supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite is responsible for the discrepancy between the price of wheat and of the loaf?

Following is the table:

Average value per cwt. of wheat imported into the United Kingdom.Average selling price of dread per 41bs. in London.
s.d.
1899–19036·725·2
1904–19087·465·5
1909–19138·465·8
1922–192512·139·1
1925‒192911…678…9

This statement shows that, during the 15 years preceding the War, while wheat was rising in price, bread was rising less rapidly; and that, in recent years, while bread has not been as cheap in relation to wheat as immediately prior to the War, it has not been as dear, in relation to wheat, as in the first of the three pre-war quinquennia. In making use of these comparisons, the fact that the bread prices relate to London only, while the wheat with which it is compared is the entire imported supply should be borne in mind.

Owing to differences in the proportions of wheat of various origins that contribute to the supply of bread in different localities and at different times, the prices for any specified grades of wheat may fail to provide a satisfactory measure of variations in the cost of the principal ingredient in bread, apart from changes in the cost of baking, of flour milling, and of distribution.

Company Law

15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consider the advisability of introducing legislation for the establishment, in the case of companies of diffused ownership, of a supervisory council representing the shareholders?

I would remind the hon. Member that the directors are appointed by and responsible to the shareholders, and I do not think it would be desirable to diminish the directors' authority and responsibility by the institution of a council to supervise them.

Is it not the case that in many large public companies the shareholders have practically no control and no knowledge of what is going on?

Various proposals have been made for the amendment for the Companies Acts, but I confess that it is difficult to believe that a suggestion on these lines would be valuable. I will consider this among other proposals, but I ought to indicate that view now.

Is not the Liberal party a company of diffused ownership at the present time?

21.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what number the 2,600 companies which till recently neglected to publish balance sheets and to hold statutory meetings has been reduced; and what he proposes to do about those which have not yet complied with the provisions of the Act of Parliament?

I presume that the hon. and gallant Member refers to the 2,600 public companies which my hon. Friend indicated on the 18th February last had at that time failed to file with the Registrar an annual return in respect of 1929, such return including a balance sheet. The procedure in regard to this matter was set out in the reply to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. F. Owen) on 4th February. This procedure has been followed, and, as a result, the number of cases in which no re-terns, or incomplete returns necessitating correspondence, has been received, has been reduced below 1,500.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the time has come for taking rather sharper measures with these delinquent companies?

That might involve amendment of the Companies Acts, which has been the subject of recent legislation; but my hon. Friend will see the very great improvement that has taken place on this point within the short space of about four weeks.

Trade And Commerce

Tariff Truce

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the outcome of the proceedings at Geneva with regard to the suggested tariff truce?

18.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the abstention of all the British Dominions from the Tariff Truce Conference and the rejection by that conference of the Government's proposals, he intends to take further part in its discussions?

23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has any statement to make regarding his negotiations for a tariff truce at Geneva?

26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the result of his recent negotiations with the European Powers at Geneva as to a tariff truce?

The House will be aware that I recently visited Geneva and took part in the discussions which have for some time been in progress for the conclusion of an international convention on this subject. I am glad to state that a Convention was signed yesterday, as well as a Protocol regarding future negotiations for reducing trade barriers. Both documents were signed on behalf of Great Britain; the former also by 10 other countries, and the latter by 14. The text of these documents will in due course be laid before the House.

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the fact that the chairman of this committee, as reported in the daily Press, stated that, if they had taken a first hesitating step, it was all that they had taken; and does that justify the optimism that the right hon. Gentleman has always shown in regard to this matter?

Certainly. While it is true that the Convention now signed falls short of the original draft, it is nevertheless, in my opinion, a very valuable document.

Will this document which was signed yesterday preclude the taking of any step at all by His Majesty's Government during the next two years to safeguard any enterprise in this country?

I think the effect will be to give a basis on which to proceed with negotiations for the discussion of the reduction of tariffs in Europe, and I believe that that will be of very great importance to the trade of this country.

None of the questions to which the right hon. Gentleman has replied suggested a Debate on this matter.

Russian Timber Imports (Forged Labour)

19.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the fact that convict labour is being employed in Russia in the production of timber; and, if so, will he take steps to prevent its importation into this country under the powers conferred upon him by the Foreign Prison-made Goods Act, 1987?

The Foreign Prison-made Goods Act, 1897, is administered by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, who have power to take the necessary action in the matter on evidence being tendered to them proving to their satisfaction that the goods in question arc prison-made goods within the meaning of the Act. Any representations in regard to any particular consignment should, accordingly, be addressed to the Commissioners.

Engineering Industry

25.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the intention of the Government to set up an inquiry into the engineering industry on the lines of those now being held into the cotton and iron and steel industries?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the extent of the unemployment prevailing in the engineering industry, especially on the North East Coast?

Yes, that is unfortunately true; but various committees are investigating,, at all events, allied subjects, and just at the moment we do not propose to appoint another on this subject, but the condition of the industry is constantly before us.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the engineering industry, as regards the number of unemployed, compares unfavourably with either of the two industries which are at present being investigated by committees?

I could not, off-hand, reply on that point, but I can assure the hon. Member that we have the condition of engineering under constant review. It is, unfortunately, serious.

Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act

27.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in order to allay uncertainities in industries, he can now state the intention of the Government with regard to the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act when it expires at the end of this year; and whether it is intended to renew it in any form?

I have at present nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member on the 17th December.

Could the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of the date when he will be likely to make a statement about this very important matter?

No, Sir. I think, speaking from memory, that the Act expires in January, 1931. The matter is at present under consideration, and a statement will be made as soon as possible, but I could not at the moment promise a date.

Steel Industry

46.

asked the Prime Minister when he expects to receive a Report from the committee which is examining the position of the steel industry in this country; whether this Report will be published; and whether he will also publish the evidence upon which the Report is based?

I understand that the committee hope to be in a position to submit their Report to the Government shortly after Easter. The question of publication cannot be considered until the Report is received. The evidence taken by the committee will not be published, as it has been submitted on the express understanding that it would be treated as confidential.

Safeguarding And Import Duties

Motor Industry

17.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many foreign motor cars have been imported since 1st February; and how that compares with the figure for 1929?

As shown in the current issue of the "Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation of the United Kingdom," to which I would refer the hon. And gallant Member for details, the total numbers of motor vehicles and chassis, excluding tractors, recorded as imported during the months of February, 1929, and February, 1930, were 2,710 and 1,458 respectively. Data are not available to show how many of these were of foreign manufacture.

61.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the fact that cranes for salvaging broken-down motor cars, which are bolted to motor vehicles, have been imported free of duty; and, in view of the law relating to parts or accessories of motor cars and the fact that they are not used except when bolted to motor vehicles, what action does he propose to take?

Representations have been received by the Customs regarding the liability to import duty, as motor car parts or accessories, of certain cranes which are capable of use for salvaging broken down motor cars. The cranes in question however are not made as parts of any particular motor car chassis but can be bolted to any flat surface. They are suitable not only for motor breakdowns but also for general use and it is understood that they are commonly so used. In the circumstances these cranes cannot be regarded as liable to import duty as parts or accessories of motor cars.

In view of the fact that the trade are of opinion that these cranes are only used when bolted to a motor car, are they not obviously part of a motor car under the Act?

I have already stated that that is not the view taken by my advisers.

Is not the percentage of the cranes used for any other purpose so small that such an argument cannot have much weight?

Wrapping Paper

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the apprehension entertained with regard to the effects of any repeal of the duties on imported foreign wrapping paper; and mill he state what answer he has given to the petitions initiated and organised both by the em- ployés of various firms and by trade unions concerned which he has received that these duties should not be repealed?

I cannot trace the receipt of any petitions of the kind described.

Will the right hon. Gentleman send an answer if I supply him with the petitions this afternoon?

I do not think that that is the proper way. If the people who forward the petition send it to me, of course an acknowledgement will be made.

Coal Mining Industry

Statistics

22.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity of coal produced in Great Britain in 1929, and the figures showing separately its distribution among the various classes of consumers, including industrial undertakings, gas companies, householders, and the export trade?

With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT such information as is at present available as to the production and consumption of coal in Great Britain during 1929.

Following is the information:

1929.Million Tons.
Output of Coal in Great Britain257.9
Quantity Shipped Abroad:
Exports of coal …60.2
Exports of coke and manufactured fuel (coal equivalent) Coal shipped for the use of steamers engaged in the foreign trade …16.4
Shipments to Northern Ireland …2.4
Total quantity of coal shipped abroad and to Northern Ireland …84.4
Quantity of coal available for home consumption for all purposes …173.5

Particulars of the quantity of coal consumed at gas works during 1929 are not yet available, but in both 1927 and 1928 the figure was just under 17 million tons (exclusive of the coal-equivalent of gas-coke exported).

The estimated quantity of coal consumed for domestic purposes, including miners' coal, is approximately 40 million tons per annum.

The remaining quantity of coal available for home consumption was used for general manufactures and all other purposes including the production of electricity, iron and steel, for colliery engines, by railways and for coastwise transport.

Women Employès

77.

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of women employed at the pithead, coalmines, in this country in 1911, 1921, and 1929, respectively?

The total number of women and girls employed at coalmines in Great Britain in 1911 was 6,210; in 1921, 6,084; and in 1929 approximately 4,070. Of the number in 1929, 765 were clerks. Separate figures of clerks for the earlier years are not available.

Can the hon. Member say what the rest of the women will do, what kind of work they will do?

Horses And Ponies (Casualties)

79.

asked the Secretary for Mines how many horses and ponies have been killed and injured in the coal mines of Great Britain for the years 1920 to 1929, inclusive?

For the period up to the end of 1928 I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on the 16th July last to my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor, of which I am sending him a copy. For the year ended 30th June, 1929, the number killed or destroyed in consequence of injury or accident was 1,840, and in consequence of disease or old age 1,519. The number injured was 5,674.

Machine Coal-Cutting, Lancashire

81.

asked the Secretary for Mines what proportion of coal was cut by machinery in Lancashire in 1913 and in 1928, respectively?

Of the total quantity of coal raised in Lancashire in 1913, 8 per cent. was cut by machinery, and in 1928 the proportion was 20 per cent.

British Army

Chemical Warfare Laboratories (Experiments On Animals)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for War the numbers and kinds of animals that have been used in each year for experimental purposes at Porton chemical warfare laboratory since the establishment of the laboratory; and the number that have been killed each year as a result of the experiments?

I am having this information obtained, and will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT in due course.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether animals are used for experimental purposes at the chemical warfare laboratory at Sutton Oak?

Woolwich Arsenal And Small Arms Factory, Enfield

32 and 33.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office (1) if he will state the nature of the new proposals he has made concerning short time at the Woolwich Arsenal; and what is the estimate of the savings which will be effected by such proposals;

(2) if he will state the estimated saving which will be effected by the Government decision officially announced this week at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield Lock, to abolish piece-work at the end of this month; and what it is estimated will be the reduction in earnings of the men concerned?

I have nothing to add to the information which I gave to the House last night during the Debate on Army Estimates.

Is not the hon. Gentleman ready to state to the House now, owing to the considerable anxiety which is being caused in both these areas, when he will be able to make a definite statement on the matter?

The negotiations are not quite complete. I expect to meet the representatives of the workpeople this week, and I hope to be able to give an answer very shortly.

Scotland

Housing

34.

asked the Secretary of Sate for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the progress being made in the improvement of housing in the rural districts of Scotland under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926, in those counties and county districts in which the Act is being worked; whether he has yet decided what steps to take to deal with the housing situation in those districts in which the local authorities are unwilling or unable to put the Act into operation; and whether proposals for improving Scottish rural housing will be included in the Housing Bill which is about to be introduced?

Without in any way disparaging the good work done by several county councils, I regret to say that as a whole I am not satisfied with the progress made under the Act referred to. As regards the second part of the question, in view of the fact that district committees as housing authorities wilt, in terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, cease to exist as from 15th May next, I do not propose to bring further pressure to bear on those of them that are not already operating the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, but the attention of the new county councils will, immediately after that date, be directed. to the provisions of the latter Act. As regards the last part of the question. I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to await the introduction of the Bill.

Seeing that the hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with the progress that is being made even in those counties that are working,.he Act, that he admits that there arc a number of counties in which the Act is not being worked at all, and that it comes to an end next year, cannot, he give an assurance that this vital question will be dealt with in the new Bill?

I have already assured the hon. and gallant Gentleman that immediately after 15th May, when the new authorities are constituted, I propose to draw the attention of such authorities as are not operating the Act to its provisions.

Even those that are operating the Act are not doing it to the satisfaction of the hon. Gentleman, or of the people of Scotland. Cannot he give us an assurance that some better legislation will be introduced to deal with the rural housing situation under the new Bill?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman had better await the introduction of the Bill.

Is it not the case that there is more work being done under the Act in Scotland than in the whole of England with its very much larger area?

Questions of comparison of that kind are very difficult to answer on the spur of the moment.

May we take it that the Government propose to introduce a Bill to deal with rural housing during their term of office?

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can say what has been the total expenditure incurred since 1918 by local authorities in acquiring land for housing schemes under the Housing Acts; what is the total acreage acquired; what proportion of that expenditure and acreage had reference to compulsory acquisition decided at arbitration; and, in respect of such compulsory acquisition, what was the total amount of legal costs falling upon the public funds, in addition to the actual cost of the land?

Is there any chance of getting a grip on what the question asks for in the course of, say, three months?

We are advised that a special return would be required from all local authorities on the subject, and it is doubtful whether the expenses of obtaining and tabulating it would be justified by the results.

Is it not going to be the business of the Department to obtain reports so that the Government may understand the extent to which they will have to give financial assistance?

It is very doubtful whether the results of such an inquiry would justify the expense.

Is it not the intention of the Government to make sure that, wherever they are spending money, they have to know every detail?

The Housing Acts do not provide that we ought to be informed of every detail. The amounts of the subsidy are fixed by the House.

Is it not the case that the returns will be made by the local authorities and that, therefore, very little expense will be thrown upon the Government Department itself?

No, that is the point. We do not get the return now, and we should require to ask for a special return of all those figures.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total sum paid to date from public funds as subsidies on houses under the Housing Acts; and if he can give an estimate of the total deficit on such houses that has been borne by the local authorities out of the rates apart from State grants?

As at the 21st, instant, the total amount paid in Scotland in housing Exchequer subsidies was £10,880,258. I regret that the information desired in the latter part of the question is not available.

Is it not going to be the duty of the Government to know all that takes place? Surely the Government could put pressure on the local authorities to make returns giving details of where the expenditure has taken place?

Whether the Housing Acts ought to be altered would be a matter for discussion in the House. As the law at present stands, we are not called upon to ask for the provision of all details from local authorities in the matter of how they spend their share of the housing money.

Will the hon. Gentleman see that the time of the local authorities which might usefully be used in getting on with housing is not taken up by filling up forms?

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the annual contribution made during 1929–30 or latest year in respect of housing schemes in Scotland under the Housing Acts of 1919, 1923, 1924, and 1926, and the number of houses in each case in respect of which subsidy was paid, including houses reconditioned under the last Act?

The information desired will not be available for the financial year 1929–30 until after the end of the current month, but I am sending my hon. Friend a statement giving particulars for the financial year 1928–29.

74.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of houses at present under construction by local authorities with State assistance, and the numbers under construction at the corresponding date last year?

As at the 28th February, the latest date for which particulars are available, the number of houses under construction by local authorities with State assistance in Scotland was 7,269. The number under construction at the corresponding date last year was 11,838. The figures, however, began to decrease, as the hon. and gallant Member is aware, in September, 1928, and the rate of decrease between that date and June, 1929, is as great as since the present Government took office. It must also be remembered that last year the then Government were allowing about 60 per cent. of two-roomed houses, whereas the proportion now permitted unless in exceptional cases has been reduced to 25 per cent.

Does not the hon. Member consider that it is a very grave dereliction of duty on the part of his Government to do nothing to implement its election pledges about accelerating the rate of house building and, further, does he not think that by standing on a petty point about two-roomed houses—

The hon. and gallant Member seems to be asking for the Minister's opinion.

On the point of the size of the houses. it is of very great importance to local administration in Scotland to know the opinion of the hon. Member, because the opinion of the hon. Member and his right hon. Friend prevents certain houses being built.

The hon. and gallant Member must put down a question to ascertain the policy of the Government with reference to these matters.

What does the hon. Member propose to do to accelerate the programme of building at present going on in Scotland? Does he not think that it is more necessary to build houses than merely to attack his predecessors in office?

It has been frequently announced in this House that the Government propose to introduce a Bill for that purpose, and I would advise the Noble Lord to await that Bill.

75.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of building trade workers at. present employed on local authority housing schemes; and the number so employed at the corresponding date last year?

As at the 28th February, the latest date for which particulars are available, the number of building trade workers employed on local authorities' housing schemes in Scotland was 4,723. As at the corresponding date last year the number was 4,838.

Does not the hon. Member think that the necessity of bringing in housing legislation at an early date is greatly reinforced by the figures he has read to the House?

There is a difference of 100 building trade workers. To the extent of that 100, certainly I agree.

Does the hon. Member mean by that answer that be is quite satisfied with the rate of progress? Does he not look for acceleration and increase in the houses built?

The fact that the Government are not satisfied is evident from the fact that they are bringing in a Bill.

71.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many members of his staff are engaged upon work in connection with local authorities' housing schemes; and what has been the amount of Departmental expenditure in salaries, etc., upon such work during the past 12 months?

A total of 38 officers of the Department of Health for Scotland are engaged whole-time on work under the Housing Acts. The expenditure on salaries during the present financial year is approximately £14,300.

Do not the duties of these officers include what I have asked in previous questions to-day, the obtaining of information as to what has taken place?

No, Sir. They do not at all involve meticulous examination of the expenditure of local authorities.

Wester Iiailes Farm (Building Equipment)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can state the estimated cost of the housing which will be created by the Department of Agriculture on the farm of Wester Hailes; and from what financial sources this cost will be met?

The estimated cost of the building equipment on the 17 holdings to be formed on the farm of Wester Hailes is £12,805, and the cost will be met from the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund.

Is it right that the cost of housing within the area of a wealthy corporation like the City of Edinburgh should be borne out of the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund, which is so urgently needed to provide small holdings in the rural districts?

The allocation of the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund depends on the provisions of half-a-dozen different Acts. The matter is too complicated to be discussed within the limits of a Parliamentary question.

Fishing Industry

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is prepared to extend the period during which applications may be made by fishermen for Government loans for the replacement of nets and gear; and whether he will arrange that fishermen who have been unsuccessful or only partially successful in their applications for grants from the voluntary fund will be given facilities for applying for Government loans?

As intimated in the course of the Debate on 6th March, I am anxious to give all reasonable facilities to the fishermen to apply for the loans referred to, and I have decided that the period should be extended. 30th April is in view as the new closing date. The extension of time will, I hope, meet the point raised in the second part of the question.

Have the Government under consideration any permanent scheme in addition to the present one to provide for these fishermen?

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his inquiries into the question of the destruction by foreign trawlers of cod nets in the Moray Firth have been completed; if so, what is the result of his investigation; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that in future the local fishermen will be allowed to pursue their legitimate calling without interference from foreigners?

The investigations made into the damage which occurred during the week-end from 8th to 10th March have been completed. I am communicating the particulars to the Board of Trade for consideration whether any action towards recovery of compensation can usefully be instituted. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave him last Tuesday.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he gave me no reply on this point?

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of fishery cruisers and other vessels employed in policing the seas round the coasts of Scotland; and whether it is proposed to add to their number?

Eight vessels—two of which are equipped with hydroplanes—are regularly engaged in this service. It is not meantime proposed to add to their number, but another cruiser will shortly be equipped with a hydroplane, subject to the money being voted by Parliament.

Poor Relief

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether any agreement has been reached with regard to the relief of the able-bodied poor coming from the South of Ireland who have not acquired a settlement in Scotland?

The negotiations begun by our predecessors in office have not yet led to any definite result.

Exchequer Grants

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can give a return showing totals for the counties, burghs, and all other rating authorities, respectively, of moneys payable in 1929–30 by the Treasury in respect of grants in aid, with particulars under the following heads: in compensation for rate-relief under the Agricultural Rates Acts and the Local Government Act; housing subsidies; education; Poor Law relief and mental deficiency; highways; and police, public health, and other services, apart from the housing subsidies mentioned above?

I shall be glad to send these figures to my hon. Friend as and when they become available.

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to see that these figures, as well as being supplied to the hon. Member who asked the question, are circulated to all Members of die House?

If that is the desire, perhaps an hon. Member will put a question at a later date to enable the figures to be circulated in the OFFPICIAL REPORT.

School-Leaving Age

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether any decision has been made as to the date upon which the raising of the school age will come into operation in Scotland and, if so, whether he is now in a position to state the date?

The proposed date for raising the school-leaving age is 1st April, 1931.

Pigs (Slaughter)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of local authorities in Scotland who have adopted the Ministry of Health model by-law 9b in regard to the slaughter of pigs up to 28th February?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave to his question on this subject on 17th February. The position as I then explained it remains unchanged.

Has the hon. Gentleman any information as to the efficacy of the methods adopted under the model by-law 9b with regard to this. matter?

No, Sir. As I understand the matter, the conditions explained in the previous answer have not changed since that date.

Rating Relief (Legal Costs)

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the amount expended by the local authorities in Scotland upon legal costs in connection with the rate reliefs under the Local Government Act?

The information desired in the question is not in my possession and it could only be obtained by inquiry which would involve an undue expenditure of time and money.

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can, with reference to the Local Government Act, state the original gross rental and the reduced assessed rental. respectively, of the agricultural, industrial, and transport lands and heritages that have benefited under the Act; and if he can state what is the total rate-reduction on each of these classes of land and heritages, and what is the amount of the grants the Treasury has to pay in compensation to the local authorities?

Lands and Heritages.Estimated Unreduced Rateable Value.Estimated Reduced Rateable Value.Estimated Rate Reduction.*
Agricultural2,831,636707,909950,000
Industrial3,735,195933,7991,600,000
Freight Transport1,644,438411,109650,000
8,211,2692,052,8173,200,000

* The rate reduction in each case is the same as the amount of the grant that the Treasury will have to pay in compensation to Local Authorities.

Department Of Health

72.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the actual cost of the Scottish Health Department in salaries, office establishment, and general expenditure in 1929–30, and the cost in 1913–14 of the Department and other Departments since coalesced with it; and how the expenditure in connection with agriculture and housing in the latest year compares with that in 1913–14?

The estimated net expenditure to be incurred by or on behalf of the Department of Health for Scotland during the year ending 31st March, 1930, is £3,160,000. The combined expenditure incurred by the Local Government Board for Scotland, the National Health Insurance Commission (Scotland) and the Highlands and Islands (Medical Service) Board in the year 1913–14 was £674,000. As regards the latter part of the question the estimated expenditure of the Department on housing during 1929–30 is £1,652,000, while the corresponding expenditure in 1913–14 was nil. The gross expenditure from the Vote for the Department of Agriculture for Scotland (which is a separate Department) for 1928–29 was £522,536, as compared with £246,591 in 1913–14.

Cinematograph Films (Censorship)

73.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been called to

As the answer involves a tabular statement, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

The following table contains the information desired, based on the rates payable in the years 1927–28:

the fact that the Home Office issued a circular letter on 16th December, 1929, to licensing authorities with reference to the local censorship of films for children and young people; and whether it is his intention to issue a similar letter to licensing authorities in Scotland?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, notwithstanding decisions of the Courts in England that local authorities may attach to licences under the Cinematograph Act, 1909, conditions other than "safety" conditions, I am advised that the Courts in Scotland would be unlikely to take the same view. In the circumstances I do not propose in the meantime to issue any circular to Scottish licensing authorities.

Has the hon. Member received copies of resolutions passed by several education authorities in Scotland with regard to the necessity of doing something in this matter?

Agricultural Credits

76.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made with the proposals for the incorporation of a company to operate Part I of the Agricultural Credits (Scotland) Act, which was passed a year ago; and whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction among Scottish farmers at being denied credit facilities which are available to farmers in England?

For reasons which I have explained in reply to questions put to me on 28th January, 4th, 11th and 18th February, it has unfortunately not been found possible, as yet, to bring Part I of the Act into operation. Negotiations are, however, being actively pursued in two different directions, and I am still hopeful that some way out of the difficulty may be found.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the agricultural community of Scotland some idea when they may get the advantages that were proposed to be given by that Act?

The agricultural community realise the difficulties in regard to this matter as keenly as I do myself. The agricultural community are satisfied that I am doing my best to overcome the difficulties.

Is it not a fact that four of the eight Scottish banks have agreed already to co-operate with the Government, and cannot the right hon. Gentleman proceed to put Part I of the Act into operation with the co-operation of those four banks, and leave out the others?

Is it not a fact that the banks in Scotland have been primarily responsible for the condition of agriculture in Scotland by refusing to give these credits before?

London Naval Conference

45.

asked the Prime Minister if he can state the approximate number of resolutions and petitions he has received asking the British Government to make proposals to the Naval Conference for definite reductions in naval armaments, and particularly for the abolition of battleships

I have received a large number of resolutions and petitions from bodies representative of every shade of opinion urging limitation of armaments and the abolition of certain categories of ships. As the hon. Member will, I am sure, appreciate, it would take some considerable research to ascertain the number of such resolutions, which continue to be addressed to me from day to day.

Does the right hon. Gentleman attach any serious value to these resolutions?

47.

asked the Prime Minister if he is now in a position to make any statement regarding the Naval Conference?

No useful purpose would be served by any statement at the present time.

Is there any truth in the statement that the Conference is about to adjourn for about six months?

Economic Advisory Council

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the nature of the investigations now being undertaken by the Economic Advisory Council?

The nature of the investigations of the Economic Advisory Council is fully set out in the recent White Paper (find. 3478). The proceedings of the Council are confidential; and it would be contrary to the public interest for details of its inquiries in every instance to be made public.

Will the right hon. Gentleman from time to time make arrangements to publish the conclusions, or some of the conclusions, arrived at by the Council?

If the bon. Member will look at the White Paper, he will find that those conclusions are all set out.

Revenue Appeals (Costs)

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider the advisability of including in the next Finance Bill a provision to give the trial judge or superior tribunal, before whom a case might come, resulting from an appeal by the Inland Revenue from a decision in favour of a taxpayer, power to direct that the Inland Revenue pay the taxed costs of the taxpayer, even though the taxpayer fail, lf the judge or tribunal is satisfied that the case raises a point of principle not covered by previous authority?

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the case of Jones v. James Leeming; and whether he proposes to take action to revise the instructions respecting the taking of Income Tax cases to the House of Lords?

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in the case of Jones v. Leeming, the costs of the action in the Court of Appeal and in the House of Lords will be borne by the Crown or by the respondent?

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider taking steps to ensure that, when the Inland Revenue authorities appeal against a decision of the courts in favour of a taxpayer, the costs of both sides shall be borne by the Inland Revenue if the result of the action is unfavourable to the latter?

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider the inclusion in the Finance Bill of a provision giving the trial judge or superior tribunal before whom an Inland Revenue case had been tried power to direct that the Inland Revenue should pay the taxed costs of the taxpayer, even though the taxpayer should fail, if the judge or tribunal was satisfied that the case raised a point of principle not covered by previous authority; and what action he proposes to take in this matter?

I do not think that legislation in the sense suggested is necessary or desirable. The case specifically referred to was one in which the Board of Inland Revenue felt bound to seek an authoritative ruling from the highest tribunal on a point of income tax law on which the guidance given by previous judicial decisions in other cases was uncertain. In accordance with their established practice in appeals of this type they undertook from the outset to pay the taxpayer's costs, whatever the event, both in the Court of Appeal and in the House of Lords. I see nothing in this case that calls for an alteration in the existing law or practice as regards Revenue appeals.

In view of the fact that the Income Tax authorities have twice received a very severe rebuke from the highest legal tribunal in the land, can the right hon. Gentleman take some action to stop this bluffing and bullying of Income Taxpayers?

I do not think that a question addressed in such offensive terms calls for a reply.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Law Officers of the Crown were consulted before the case was taken to the House of Lords?

I suppose they were, but it is quite evident from the supplementary questions that the purport of my reply has not been appreciated. This was a matter upon which there was some doubt, and the Inland Revenue authorities were anxious that there should be a decision by the highest judicial body in the country, and therefore they undertook to pay the whole costs, both the costs of the Crown and the costs of the taxpayer, in order to get that decision. I do not see that anybody has any grievance at all.

Is it not a fact that the Law Officers of the Crown are employed for the purpose of advising the Chancellor of the Exchequer on these matters?

In view of that statement, is it quite clear then, that in future, in eases where the Law is in doubt and which the Inland Revenue take to the highest court, the costs to the taxpayer will be reimbursed by the Inland Revenue Department?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the House of Lords has passed such comment before?

Import Duties (Revenue)

56.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount collected by the Inland Revenue from duties on foreign imported goods of any kind during the current financial year?

The approximate net amount of revenue derived from the duties on imported goods up to the 28th February of the current financial year was £110,615,000.

Mr. MARJORIBANKS </