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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 244: debated on Tuesday 4 November 1930

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War Memorials (Wreaths)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether Dominion Governments were consulted before the despatch of the communication to Foreign Powers respecting the laying of wreaths on War memorials; and, if so, what was the nature of the replies received thereto?

His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions were informed by telegram of the position in advance of the communication to Foreign Governments. Two replies were received to this telegram, both of which expressed concurrence in the proposed action.

No. As I have said, two replies have been received, including one from the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Does the hon. Member think that a reply informing the Dominions that they had taken this action is the proper procedure?

Trade And Commerce

Empire Trade

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs the nature of his reply to the Manchester Association of Importers, and Exporters regarding their suggestions for a more systematic investigation of Empire problems?

The Association were informed that the letter and memorandum setting out their views on Imperial trade would receive careful consideration.

Tariff Truce

3.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state, since the 24th March, 1930, what additional countries have signed the final Act resulting from the recent International Commercial Convention discussed at Geneva?

The final Act of the Preliminary Conference with a view to concerted economic action which was signed at. Geneva by 17 countries on the 24th March last, remained open for signature to the 15th April, 1930. During that period it was signed by Czechoslovakia.

May I ask whether the position of His Majesty's Government has changed towards this conference as there are so few additional signatories forth-coming?

No. Later questions will, I think, give the hon. Member additional information regarding the number of countries which have ratified the Convention and the next steps that are to be taken.

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make concerning the operations of the tariff truce; and whether any of the British Dominions have now signified their acceptance of the same, or if he is taking any further steps to secure the reduction of tariff?

As regards the first and third parts of the question, the Com- mercial Convention concluded at Geneva in March last has up to the present been ratified by eight countries; the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The Questionnaire attached to Article 1 of the Protocol regarding the programme for future negotiations has been circulated to all the Governments represented at that Conference, the great majority of whom have now sent their replies to the Secretariat of the League of Nations. These replies were studied at a meeting of the Economic Committee of the League, held last week. In accordance with Article 13 of the Commercial Convention a meeting has been arranged for 17th November, to consider the bringing into force of the Convention and at this meeting the replies to the Questionnaire will also be considered with a view to framing a programme for a further Conference at which the possibility of securing reduction in tariffs will be examined. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his full answer, does he not consider that the attitude of the Dominions in this matter is much more important than the attitude of any foreign country, and will he, in view of the new situation which has developed, give notice in February to denounce the Truce until such time as the Dominions have been consulted?

I cannot give any such undertaking. I do not disguise for a moment the importance of any representations that the Dominions may make, but that does not preclude us from doing our best to secure a downward movement in European tariffs.

Is it the policy of His Majesty's Government to refuse any opportunity that is open to them; to close the doors?

On the contrary. I did my best to explain yesterday afternoon the attitude we adopted in that matter. It is not a question of closing doors at all

Has the right hon. Gentleman explained this dangerous and futile course to the Imperial Conference?

12.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government have been successful in arranging a tariff truce with the Dominions?

Does not my right hon. Friend feel that it is more urgently desirable to have a tariff truce with the Dominions than with foreign countries?

We had better await the outcome of the proceedings of the economic side of the Imperial Conference.

31.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the ratification of the Tariff Truce by the Government at Geneva will be submitted to Parliament for endorsement?

The Commercial Convention has been ratified by His Majesty the King in respect of the United Kingdom. No question of endorsement arises. I would point out that the Convention was laid before Parliament before ratification and was fully debated in this House.

Then this House has nothing further to say or do in connection with this Treaty until next year, when we can denounce it?

Not at all. Hon. Members opposite can avail themselves of the opportunity of debate, and I should hope that that opportunity will be used to support this movement.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that a wholly new situation has been created by the Imperial Conference?

No, Sir. That is where I quite differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think that any new situation has been created. As I have pointed out before, there is no prejudice whatever in this Treaty to any decision which might be taken on the economic side of the Imperial Conference.

Is the right hon. Gentleman still prepared to go on and ignore the desires and wishes of our Dominions?

Iron And Steel Trade

6.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of pig-iron imported into the United Kingdom in 1880 and in 1929; what was the quantity of pig-iron produced in this country in the same two years; and whether it would have been possible for this country to have produced that pig-iron without imported iron-ore?

The quantity of pig-iron and ferro-alloys imported and retained in the United Kingdom in 1880 was 58,000 tons, and in 1929 153,000 tons; the production in the United Kingdom in the same years was 7,749,000 tons and 7,580,000 tons respectively. The metal equivalent of the unexhausted iron-ore deposits of the United Kingdom exceeded the total of production and imports in these years; but, of course, many other factors enter into a consideration of the practicability of the exclusive use of home-produced ore.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what Mr. Gladstone said about this in 1880?

7.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the estimated average amount of coal used in the production of one ton of pig iron and of one ton of steel, respectively

I understand that, according to the estimates of the National Federation of Iron and Steel Manufacturers, on the average, about two tons of coal are consumed in the production of a ton of pig iron and three tons in the production of a ton of finished steel.

Russia

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Russian goods are being dumped into this country; whether he has any information as to the action that has been taken by Belgium and other countries in connection with similar matters; and what action is he taking on behalf of this country?

I am aware that some classes of Russian goods are being sold to this country at low prices. I understand that in France and Belgium the importation of certain Russian goods is prohibited except under licence. With regard to the third part of the question I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply which my hon. Friend the Secretary for the Department of Overseas Trade gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames (Sir G. Penny).

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as regards that reply, it was stated then that the British Government did not propose to take any action, and I now desire to ask him, as President of the Board of Trade, whether he agrees with that statement or whether anything is going to be done on behalf of this country?

The only way in which we can take action is by tariffs, prohibition, or licences. We are perfectly satisfied that the loss to our trade from any action of that kind would be greater than any gain.

18.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what has been the quantity of wheat imported in each month since June, 1930, from ports of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics?

The total quantity of wheat imported into Great Britain and Northern Ireland and registered during the month of June, 1930, as consigned from the Soviet Union (Russia) was 7,890 cwts. The corresponding figures for July, August and September, 1930, were given yesterday in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Kingston-on Thames.

20.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any record of the amount of grain imported into this country from Russian sources during the months of July, August and September?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which was given him yesterday on this subject.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, apart from grain, many other products are being dumped into this country to the injury of our trade?

23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will indicate the nature and quantity of the chief exports to Russia during 1930 to the latest convenient date?

During the first nine months of this year the quantities of the principal exports from the United Kingdom registered as consigned to the Soviet Union (Russia) were as follow:

British Produce and Manufactures.—Machinery and parts thereof, 20,348 tons; refined sugar, 126,513 tons; iron and steel and manufactures thereof, 5,254 tons; ammonium sulphate, 30,058 tons; and wool tops, other than merino, 725 tons.

Imported Merchandise.—Pig lead, 28,848 tons; tin blocks, ingots, etc., 2,472 tons; tea, 2,763 tons; and crude rubber, 3,624 tons.

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much wheat has been imported from Russia during 1930 to the latest convenient date?

I would refer the Noble Lord to the answer given yesterday to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Mr. Turton), of which I am sending him a copy.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Co-operative Wholesale Society have been large purchasers of this grain?

28.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of agricultural machinery exported to Russia since January, 1930, from Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The total declared value of the exports of agricultural machinery and parts thereof manufactured in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and registered during the nine months ended 30th September, 1930, as consigned to the Soviet Union (Russia) amounted to £41,943.

Dyestuffs (Importation Regulation) Act

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to state the policy of the Government with regard to the Dyestuffs (Importation Regulation) Act, 1919?

32.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government has decided to allow the Dyestuffs (Import Regulations) Act, 1920, to lapse next January?

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that this House shall have a full opportunity of debating the issue before the Government decide on any course of action or inaction?

This afternoon I cannot give a promise as to the precise form of discussion, but I should say, without giving a pledge, that there will be opportunities in the House before a final decision is taken.

I am very much obliged, but does the right hon. Gentleman not appreciate that the question of affording an opportunity which, he so rightly says, the House ought to have, rests with him? I trust he will provide it.

Without giving any pledge at all, I can reply that there will in fact, in the course of the proceedings, be an opportunity for discussing this matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to assure the House that, whatever else he does, he will do nothing whatever to encourage British trade?

Foreign Tariffs (Luxury Articles)

14.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many countries adopt as an integral part of their tariff any proposals prohibiting or limiting the importation of so-called luxury articles; what those countries are; and what the articles are in each case?

Even if it were possible to distinguish "so called luxury articles "from other goods I could not, generally speaking, say how far Customs duties imposed by other countries are specifically intended to limit the import of such goods on the ground that they are luxuries. Similarly, as regards the limited range of import prohibitions and restrictions now operative, it is not possible, in general, to distinguish between those directed against the import of goods solely because they are luxuries and those dictated by other motives.

Cotton Industry

25.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that modern efficient cotton-spinning mills are being closed down in Lancashire, while old inefficient mills arc being opened up; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent the closing of efficient mills?

I am not aware that the situation is such as the hon. Member suggests. My information is that where mills are being closed down, it is in general because they cannot be profitably run, and that where they are being restarted, production is expected to be on a profitable basis.

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman had his attention specifically drawn to these cases when he was in Lancashire recently?

I am afraid that my attention was called to a great many matters in Lancashire, and on that matter, as the hon. Member is well aware, there is acute difference of opinion within the industry itself.

Is it not a fact that there can be no difference of opinion as to when a mill was built and whether it is efficient or not efficient?

The real test, of course, is Whether in existing conditions it can be run on a remunerative basis, and that, I am afraid, is really the test that must be applied.

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to the assistance which would be given to the Lancashire cotton industry if the British public used wax instead of wood matches; and if he will take steps to remit the tax on British-made wax matches with this object in view?

The answer to both parts of the question is in the negative.

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if His Majesty's Government have any financial responsibility, immediate or remote, in any moneys loaned by the Bank of England to the Lancashire Cotton Corporation?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the precise relation between the British Government and the Securities Management Trust which is financing this Corporation?

I am afraid that it would be very difficult indeed to say what the relations are. There is no liability on the part of the Government.

German Cereals (Imports)

26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that considerable quantities of German oatmeal, groats, and pearl barley are being imported into this country; and if he will inquire as to the extent to which the low price of these imports is due to the import bonds issued by the German Government to subsidise these agricultural products?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, while there can be little doubt that the import bond system may have allowed the products in question to be offered at lower prices than would otherwise have prevailed, it would, I am afraid, be impossible to isolate this single factor from others affecting prices in this country or to determine accurately its effect. The issue of these import bonds in respect of the products named by the hon. and gallant Member is being discontinued by the German Government as from to-morrow.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this has been a direct source of unemployment in British mills, particularly in Scotland?

That, again, is, of course, a debatable matter, but, in any event, I call attention to the fact that after to-morrow these bonds will disappear.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to why the German Government are withdrawing these bonds?

No, Sir. That is hardly a sphere of debate into which I can be drawn on the present occasion.

Companies Act

4 and 5.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the number of public companies which, on 1st November, 1930, had not complied with the requirements of the Companies Act, 1929, to lodge annual accounts and balance sheets for the 12 months which expired on 31st December, 1929;

(2) the number of public companies which, on 1st November, 1930, had not complied within the period prescribed by the Companies Act, 1929, with the requirements to lodge annual accounts and balance sheets in respect of the 12 months ended 30th June, 1930?

The provisions of the Companies Act which the hon. and gallant Member appears to have in mind require a company to make an annual return once in every calendar year and forward it to the Registrar together with, in the case of a public company, a copy of the last audited balance sheet. The number of public companies which had not on 1st November filed their annual return for 1929, including the last audited balance sheet, was 19. I may add that none of these companies can be said to be of any public importance.

22.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a test by means of an automatic diary is operated by the Companies Registration Department of Somerset House to detect non-compliance with the Companies Act of 1929 as to the filing of accounts and balance sheets within the prescribed period; and, if there is not a continuous test for the protection of the public, will he ask the life assurance offices committee to assist him to set up a suitable system based upon their methods for issuing reminders of premiums due on policies?

A system of the kind indicated in the question is in operation as regards public companies registered on or after the 1st January, 1929, and the possibility of extending it will be considered in the light of experience, but the requirements of the Act are not such as to enable the Registrar to determine in the case of every company from the information in his possession the date on which the annual return is due to be filed.

Mercantile Marine

Cunard Company (Assisted Insurance)

8.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is yet in a position to make any statement about the intention of the Government to carry part of the insurance on one or both of the ships to he built for the Cunard Company, subject to the payment of a premium; and will he state whether he will accept further marine insurance business of a similar nature?

The nature of the proposals for assisting the Cunard Company in the matter of insurance will, I hope, be explained to the House very shortly. They apply only to one or at the most two ships of a specially high value.

Will this cover be continued when the vessels go to sea or only when they are building?

I shall be very grateful to my hon. Friend if he will defer these questions because I propose to give a detailed explanation to the House when this matter comes before it.

As this is a departure from the usual practice, will the right hon. Gentleman produce a White Paper before the debate showing exactly what we are doing?

I am not sure whether a White Paper will accompany the Financial Resolution, but I will bear it in mind. In any case, hon. Members will have full and exact information.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman see the advantage of all these statements being made to the House before the discussion begins?

I am not responsible for any discussions which have taken place in the newspapers and outside. I have to conduct the negotiations.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while this company has been seeking Government assistance, it has at the same time been discharging its workers of 65 years and over and will he also bear that fact in mind?

May I ask whether it has been decided that one of these new Cunarders is to come to the Tyne?

Loss Of The Steamship "Radyr"

9.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the recent loss of the steamship "Radyr" with all bands was ascribed by the court of inquiry in part to the breaking in of the hatches owing to the quality and condition of some of the hatch covers; and whether he will now require that steel shall be used for exposed hatch covers on sea-going vessels and carry out more frequent surveys of the hatch covers of such vessels?

The report of the court of inquiry in this case raises several important questions which require and are receiving very careful consideration. It will also be necessary to discuss them with those concerned before it is possible to decide what action should be taken.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman been warned repeatedly from these benches during the last twelve months that unless the Board of Trade insists upon strong action in the case of vessels going to sea with a low freeboard loss of life must occur as it has in this case.

I am aware that my hon. Friend has raised that question, but I have explained in a previous reply that on particular proposals there was a great division of technical opinion. This point is raised in one of the last paragraphs in this report, and it will be carefully considered.

Fog Sirens

27.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that the new German ships "Bremen" and "Europa" have had their fog sirens fitted to the foremast instead of on the forepart of the funnel or funnels amidships; and whether the Board have considered the desirability of adopting this practice where possible in future in the case of passenger ships in the British mercantile marine?

No, Sir. The question of the adoption of a fog siren arrangement of the kind indicated by the hon. Member is a matter primarily for the shipowner. If an application were made by the owner of a passenger steamer coming under Board of Trade survey for the fitting of an arrangement of the kind indicated the Board would give it careful consideration.

Maritime Conventions

29.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the desires of the shipping industry of this country for the early ratification of the Maritime Conventions relating to the load line, the limitation of liability, maritime mortgages, and liens and immunity; and whether it is intended to introduce legislation for this purpose other than that for the ratification of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention referred to in the gracious Speech?

Yes, Sir. Legislation to give effect to the Conventions relative to the Load Line, the Limitation of Shipowners' Liability, and Maritime Mortgages and Liens will be introduced as soon as possible. The Immunity of State-owned Ships Convention requires before legislation can be undertaken a supplementary agreement which has not yet been signed by the Powers concerned.

Would it not be convenient if all these Conventions, which are now ready for ratification, were included in a single Bill?

No, Sir. I have considered that point, but, as regards several of them, as the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware, there is still a certain amount of ground to be covered, and I am now quite satisfied that it would be better to proceed in the order laid down by the Government.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if the alteration in helm orders will come into these ratifications?

No, Sir. That point is covered by the Safety of Life at Sea. Convention, which was included in the Speech from the Throne and which will be taken in another place at a very early date.

Cinematograph Films Act

19.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of prosecutions that have taken place during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date against independent cinema exhibitors for not showing the required quota of British cinematograph films as laid down in the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927; and whether convictions have been obtained in all such prosecutions?

In the last 12 months proceedings have been taken in 25 cases in which exhibitors have failed to comply with the quota. Convictions were obtained in 22 cases, in another the defendant received the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act, but was ordered to pay costs; the two remaining cases were dismissed. I am afraid that I do not know what my hon. Friend means precisely by the expression "independent exhibitor" in this, connection.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the independent exhibitors are those that are not in the combines, and is it not the combines that are monopolising all the good British films and forcing the smaller exhibitor right out of the business?

That raises a much larger question. My information is that these convictions were not applicable to at least the leading combines.

Will my right hon. Friend see that, in the granting of certificates to the smaller exhibitors, they are treated with a little more generosity?

That is a separate issue. It is a matter which I must consider. I will look into it.

Coastguard Service (Inquiry)

30.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to one of the findings of the court of inquiry which has been investigating the circumstances attending the recent loss of the yacht "Islander" to the effect that a more comprehensive inquiry should be made into the whole coastguard system; and whether he will set up such a committee of inquiry, with terms of reference empowering it to consider the advisability of the return of the coastguard service to Admiralty control?

The most careful consideration will be given by the Government to the report of the inquiry in this case. I need hardly say that the Government will welcome the fullest inquiry into the coastguard service but I cannot yet say what form the inquiry will take. Perhaps the House will allow me to add a note of our universal regret that this disaster involved the loss of the life of one of our most respected colleagues in this House.

If I put down a question in a week's time, will the right hon. Gentleman be in a position then to say whether a committee will or will not be set up to inquire into the question of the coastguard service?

An inquiry will be undertaken, but perhaps the hon. and gallant Member would defer his question a little longer. There are important points to be decided in determining the precise form of the inquiry and I am afraid I should require rather more than a week.

Will a statement be made by the right hon. Gentleman at some time as to conclusions on the findings already made by the court in reference to that disaster?

I could not pledge myself to that this afternoon, because I have only just received, officially, the findings of the court, but I could give hon. Members any information regarding our views on that report when the time comes.

Government Departments

Trade Unions (Recognition)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has received a copy of a resolution passed at a joint meeting of representatives of the National Union of Ship Joiners, Furnishers, and Allied Trades and the Government Workers Industrial Union, urging that a joint committee be formed to press for immediate recognition of these two trade unions for representation on any existing bodies recognised for negotiating purposes by the Admiralty, War Office, or other Government Departments; and if he intends to take any action to facilitate their aspirations?

Yes, Sir. The Joint Committee in question has been informed that the composition of the employés sides of the bodies referred to is primarily the concern of the employés sides themselves.

Can the hon. Gentleman say for what reason these unions are denied the usual and proper discussion of their grievances?

Is it not a fact that this organisation is not a trade union, but a goose club?

The representation of unions in connection with negotiating bodies is a matter of national agreement and to include bodies other than those on national lines would be a breach of the agreement.

Would my hon. Friend say what he means by national agreement? Is he aware that the first of these unions concerned represents over 90 per cent. of the people engaged in the trade?

A national agreement means an agreement between the Government and the national body that represents the trade union movement of the country, and I cannot go beyond that.

As regards the Government Workers' Industrial Union, is it not a fact that that is the chief union in Woolwich Arsenal; and did not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to have an investigation as to the rival claims of the two unions there, and what is the result?

I have had an investigation into the question raised by the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood). I have personally investigated the matter, and so has my right bon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, and we have come to the conclusion that a local unit is not a national body, and, although it is a discussable matter as to whether the particular union referred to has the majority of unskilled men in the Arsenal in its membership, nevertheless the men who are in the national union are properly represented, and, if the men in the local union desire to have representation, their right course is to negotiate with the national union.

Is the Financial Secretary aware that the supplementary question just addressed to him is based on what is known as a terminological inexactitude?

May we know if it is now the principle that the workers of this country are not to be permitted to be represented by the unions which they themselves desire?

Wages (Girls)

55.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, as the result of the recent reduction in the Civil Service bonus, girls are employed in certain Departments of the Civil Service on a full-time basis on rates of pay as low as 12s. 2d. per week; and what steps he proposes to take to stop such sweating in Government establishments?

I understand that the girls employed at this rate of pay are newly entered learners aged 15 years conditioned to a 39-hour week. As the hon. Member is aware, their wages will automatically increase with age; and at the age of 18, subject to satisfactory service, they will pass into a grade rising, at current rates, from 26s. 3d. to 41s. per week.

Does the Financial Secretary regard this rate of 12s. 2d. a week as in any way a justifiable and defensible rate for a Labour Government to pay for full-time labour?

Numbers of Industrial and non-industrial staffs on let January, 1930.Salaries and ages, Quarter ended 31st December, 1929.Numbers of Industrial and non-industrial staffs on 1st July, 1930.Salaries and Wages, Quarter ended 31st March, 1930.*
££
Inland Revenue21,4861,570,08921,8611,576,496
Customs and Excise11,623984,54411,6851,002,385
Other Departments401,97318,964,384410,24619,298,960
Totals435,08221,519,017443,79221,807,841

* This is the latest date for which information as to the cost of salaries and wages is available.

58.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the number of civil servants of all grades, excluding the Post Office, employed at the latest convenient date in 1913, and the total cost in wages and salaries; the corresponding numbers and cost at the latest convenient current date; and the average percentage increase in cost per head as compared with the latest cost-of-living index figure?

Excluding the Post Office, the number of civil servants of all grades employed in 1929-30 was 209,268 with salaries and wages amounting to £48,676,766. The comparable figures for 1913-14 were 156,600 and £20,020,000, respectively. This shows an average increase in cost per head of

Staff Statistics

56.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what additions have been made to the personnel of those engaged in collecting taxes from the public since the beginning of the year; and what is the total number of additional civil servants employed in all Departments and the total cost involved by such additions?

As the answer involves a number of figures, I propose, subject to the consent of the hon. Member, to circulate a reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

approximately 82 per cent. as compared with an average cost-of-living index figure of 63.4 for the year 1929-30.

Ex-Service Men

57.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the recent agreement, concerning no loss on promotion for ex-service permanent non-pensionable clerks in the Civil Service, has resulted in an anomaly as far as concerns ex-service men appointed to established clerical rank from the South-borough examinations.; that these clerks are candidates who were appointed between the 1st July, 1926, and the 1st October, 1927; that they are now in receipt of salaries in default of those granted to promoted permanent non pensionable clerks since that date by amounts varying from £12 to £36 per annum; and will he cause further inquiry to be made into the matter?

I am not aware of any anomaly arising from the agreement to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, but if he will send me particulars of the cases which he has in mind, I will have inquiry made.

Will the hon. Gentleman receive a representation in regard to these ex-service men?

I think that I ought first to have the point brought before me in writing; and I will consider what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has suggested.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these men who passed their examinations and were accepted into the service as established clerks are in a worse position than those who were rightly made permanent, because they were able to carry out their duties

I have looked into this carefully; it is a complicated matter, and until I know exactly what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has in mind, I am not in a position to answer the question.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the anomaly to which the question draws attention has been further increased this week by an award of the Industrial Court dealing with increases and promotions, and will the hon. Gentleman re-examine the whole subject in the light of the question and the award of the Court?

I do not think that I can add anything to the answer which I have given. This is a very complicated question, and, if the anomaly, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the hon. Member feel exists, is clearly expressed, I will endeavour to investigate it and see what can be done.

British Army

Cadet Corps (Government Assistance)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the possibility of devising means whereby properly constituted organisations of boys, such as cadet corps, can be assisted to carry on the non-military side of their work, observing that official recognition of the cadet corps movement ceased on 31st October?

As the hon. and gallant Member is aware, the War Office has now no direct concern in, or responsibility for, cadet units. But my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is in communication with the President of the Board of Education to see whether a scheme can be devised for the loan, on terms, through the medium of the Board of Education, of certain limited quantities of camp equipment to approved organisations concerned in the welfare of juveniles. I need hardly add that a scheme of this kind, if it is practicable, would have the warmest sympathy of the Secretary of State.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State for War promised to make a statement on this point, and when will he be in a position to give a definite statement as promised?

I will remind my right hon. Friend of that promise, and perhaps he himself will give a direct answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

If I put this question down in one week's time, shall we be allowed to have an answer then?

Officers' Pensions

35.

asked the Secretary of State for War what has been the annual amount of money paid as pensions to retired Army officers during the years 1925. 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, respectively?

I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the figures:

The expenditure from Army funds on the retired pay of officers (excluding pensions for wounds) during the financial years 1925–1930 was as follows:

£
Year ended 31st March, 19263,320,339
Year ended 31st March, 19273,339,300
Year ended 31st March, 19283,358,362
Year ended 31st March, 19293,384,103
Year ended 31st March, 19303,422,500*

* Estimated expenditure.

Animals (Experiments)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of old horses which are unfit for further service and are at present being used for 'the purpose of poison gas research at Hampshire station; and whether the experiments include the cultivation of bacteria for spreading plague?

As my right hon. Friend stated in his reply to similar questions yesterday, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy, during the period 1921 to 1930 only 25 horses have been used in connection with experiments at Porton. None of the experiments included the cultivation of bacteria for spreading plague.

Promotions From The Ranks

37.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Army were granted commissions during the 12 months ended 30th June, 1930, and the comparative figures for the preceding 12 months?

I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement giving the figures for which he asks.

Following are the figures:

STATEMENT showing the number of commissions in the Army granted to other ranks during the years ended 30th June, 1930 and 1929.
Commissions granted to Non-Commissioned Officers rough Cadet Colleges.Commissions direct to Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers as Quartermasters, etc.
July, 1929—June, 1930.2951
July, 1928—June, 1929.2697

38.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps, if any, he has taken to increase the number of commissions granted to warrant officers, noncommissioned officers, and men of the Army, and to increase the proportion of such commissions to the total number of commissions granted?

My right hon. Friend has this question under his personal consideration and hopes to be able to deal with it in his speech on the introduction of next year's Army Estimates.

Schoolmistresses

39.

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of Army schoolmistresses in each grade, respectively, on the last available date?

The number of Queen's Army schoolmistresses serving at the present time at home and abroad, including India, is 335, of whom 285 are certificated and 50 uncertificated.

Scotland

Agricultural Credits

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress, if any, he has made in putting into operation the provisions of the Agricultural Credits (Scotland) Act, 1929?

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps have been taken to bring into operation the provisions of Part I of the Agricultural Credits (Scotland) Act, 1929?

Active negotiations have been proceeding, and the position now is that two alternative methods of meeting the difficulties are in an advanced stage of discussion. I hope, to be in a position ere long to announce that one or other of these will be adopted.

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that two years ago an English Act corresponding to this one was passed, and has been in active operation for over a year; and is he aware that, while the English farmers are getting credit, the Scottish farmers are not?

I am well aware of that fact, but I would remind my right hon. and learned Friend that the difficulty, so far as Scotland is concerned, has been in getting the banks to take up the schemes as freely as the English banks did.

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House that the Scottish banks are now prepared to take them up?

Small Holdings, Lushentyre

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the latest available costs incurred in the acquisition and development of the estate of Lushentyre for smallholdings; the cost likely to be incurred in the development of the estate by the Government; and the date when the settlement is likely to become effective?

The costs of acquisition have yet to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919. The costs incurred to date in connection with the development of the property (including the purchase of sheep stock) amount to approximately £2,600; the total cost of development, exclusive of acquisition but including the equipment of the new holdings is estimated at £8,650. During the development period some of the prospective new holders have been and will be given temporary lets for grazing and small cultivations and are being employed by the Department on development works; they are also being given facilities for the erection of dwelling-houses and steading buildings, and will be given effective occupation of their holdings at the earliest possible date.

Local Government Act

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the proportion of the total grant credited to the county council of Ross and Cromarty which is allocated in respect of each of the various services to the Island of Lewis and the mainland part of the county, respectively, as specified in the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929?

I am making inquiry and will communicate further with the hon. Member.

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received any complaints respecting the operation of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, especially the portion dealing with public assistance; and if any steps have been taken to ensure a better working of the Act?

I cannot within the limits of a Parliamentary reply deal with the various representa- tions my right hon. Friend has received regarding the Act, but he is presently considering various representations which have been made to him on the lines indicated in the hon. Member's question, and he would be glad if the hon. Member could give him any additional information which may have come to his notice.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the conference has been arranged between himself and the local authorities with regard to public assistance?

No conference has been arranged between me and the local authorities, but I understand that there is to be an informal conference arranged for this purpose. I do not know whether it has been held or not.

Did not the hon. Gentleman give a promise that he would arrange to hold a conference with the local authorities?

No, Sir, a friendly discussion with some authorities, but it has not yet been fixed.

Dumbarton County Council (Unemployed Members)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that members of the Dumbarton County Council who are unemployed are refused payment for attending meetings of the council because they have not lost time, and that they are refused unemployment insurance benefit for the days engaged on council work on the ground that they are not available for work; and whether he will take steps to enable them to be paid for attendance at council meetings?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Part III of the Fourth Schedule of the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1929 provides for the payment of allowances in respect of time necessarily lost from ordinary employment. I am informed by the Minister of Labour that one member to whom the allowance was refused has claimed benefit in respect of the days on which he attended meetings, but has not yet taken the requisite steps to prove that he was unemployed on these days. My right hon. Friend is, however, further consulting the Minister of Labour and will communicate with the hon. Member.

Poor-Houses

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his inspectors have taken steps to test the quality and weight of foodstuffs supplied to Scottish poor-houses; whether any separate record of reports on this matter is kept by his Department; and whether departmental action has been rendered necessary by the nature of such reports?

The responsibility for testing the quality and weight of food supplied to Scottish poor-houses rests entirely with the local authorities concerned. If deficiencies, either in weight or quality were discovered in any particular case, it would be for the local authority to take such action as might be necessary having regard to the terms of their contract with the supplier. The Department of Health for Scotland has poor-house dietaries submitted to it and considers complaints as to adequacy or quality. No complaints as to dietaries have been recently received.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of paupers at present in the poor-houses of Scotland; the number of casuals being relieved in those institutions; and the number of beds in such institutions other than for casuals?

As the reply is long, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The total number of sane poor in poorhouses in Scotland at the 15th September, 1930, was 11,830 including 433 dependants.

The total number of casuals in receipt of relief in Scotland at the 15th May, 1930, the latest date for which informa-

Death-rates per 1,000 in Scotland.

1927.1928.1929.
M.F.M.F.M.F.
All ages14·0712·8913·8712·8515·0913·99
Under 15 years11·99·611·89·712·09·4

Paisley Police (Dismissals)

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland tion is available, was 243, including 19 dependants.

The returns received by the Department of Health for Scotland do not discriminate between casuals receiving indoor and outdoor relief respectively. Casuals who apply to public assistance authorities are relieved by the granting of a line to a lodging house, by admission to a casual, sick or shelter house, or by admission to a poorhouse. The numbers admitted to poorhouses are, however, understood to be considerably less than the numbers dealt with by the other methods.

As regards the last part of the question, the total sanctioned accommodation in Scottish poorhouses is approximately 18,000 beds, but it is not possible to say how many of these are available for cases other than casuals, as accommodation is not specifically allocated for the reception of casual cases. Where casuals are admitted to a poorhouse, such arrangements are made for their accommodation as are convenient in the individual institution, regard being had to the number to be admitted and the vacant accommodation available at the moment.

Mortality Statistics

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the separate death rates among men, women and children in Scotland in the years 1927, 1928 and 1929?

As the answer involves a number of figures, I propose, 'with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The statement appended gives the death-rate in Scotland in the case of males and females of all ages and children under 15 years respectively:—

if the report by the sheriff-principal of Renfrewshire on his inquiry into the appeals against dismissal by four paisley policemen has been received; and, if so, when he will be in a position to give his decision?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I have made orders dismissing one and allowing three of the appeals, and copies of the orders were sent to the parties concerned on the 31st October.

Deer Forests

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has now considered the Report of the advisory committee appointed to consider what steps should be taken to give effect to the findings of the Deer Forest Commission of 1921; and whether he proposes to introduce any legislation on the subject?

Some time ago I arranged a joint conference of the interests concerned with this problem and three weeks ago I received a report outlining proposals for legislation. These are now under my consideration.

Herring Fishermen (Assistance)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered any proposals for assisting the Scottish fishermen in the replacement of the herring drifters which have become unseaworthy and for the provision of a new and less costly type of vessel capable of being run at a lower cost; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

As stated in my reply to the hon. and learned Member on the 15th April, this matter is within the scope of the inquiries of the Committee of the Economic Advisory Council on the Fishing Industry; but pending the report of that Committee I have made it my business to obtain information on the subject, particularly as regards the experiments which are being made in devising new types of vessel and the hon. and learned Member may be assured that the question will receive the Government's careful consideration in the light of the Committee's Report.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman prepared to take action in this very urgent matter without waiting for the committee's report, as he has all the facts before him and is aware of the situation?

I think both the hon. Member and I would be well advised to await the report.

Unemployed Teachers

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the large number of graduate teachers unemployed in Scotland; and, if so, whether he will take steps to see that education authorities employ such teachers on continuation class work instead of allowing day-class teachers to work overtime?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but my right hon. Friend has no power to require the Education Authorities to adopt the suggestion made by the hon. Member. I may add that the raising of the school age will be a material contribution to the solution of the problem of unemployment among teachers.

Can the hon. Gentleman say at the moment how many such unemployed graduate teachers there are?

Singapore Naval Base

45.

asked the Prime Minister when it will be possible to make a further announcement about the future work on the construction of the new naval base at Singapore?

As my hon. and gallant Friend will be aware, the question of the Singapore Base was one of the matters proposed for discussion at the Imperial Conference. The Conference is still in session, and I am not in a position to say when a further announcement on the subject can be made.

Chancellor Of The Duchy Of Lancaster

46.

asked the Prime Minister what are the present duties of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?

The duties of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are to control the management of the Duchy Estates and Revenues and also, with the County Palatine of Lancaster, to appoint justices of the peace and county court judges and to direct the administration of the estates of persons dying intestate and without kin and to perform various duties which in other counties devolve upon the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary. At the present time the Chancellor is also engaged on special work in connection with various Departments, and with the Imperial Conference.

Can my right hon. Friend say if there has been any change in the duties since my hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley) resigned the post? Does the present Chancellor perform different duties now?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has always been used for miscellaneous, pressing duties, and in that respect there has been no change.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the present Chancellor is drawing up any memoranda on the unemployment question?

National Finance

Debt (Interest)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the average over-all rate per cent. of interest upon the whole of the nominal amount of the National Debt, including the floating debt and the debt to the United States of America, and taking into account the relief in debt-service cost obtained recently by the replacing of the 4 per cent. tax-free loan by 4 per cent loan subject to tax?

The interest charge in the current year as estimated in the Budget represents almost precisely 4 per cent. on the total nominal deadweight debt on 31st March, 1930. The saving referred to in the question takes the form of an addition to Income Tax revenue and not of a reduction in debt charges. The saving is roughly £675,000 per annum.

May we therefore assume that the total over-all average cost of the interest on the whole of the nominal amount of the National Debt is somewhere slightly less than 4 per cent.

Does the saving in the change from 4 per cent. tax-free loan to 4 per cent. loan subject to tax alter that figure by any material amount?

Really, the hon. Member should listen. I gave an answer to that point also, and I pointed out that the change is from tax-free interest to interest liable to tax. The saving, therefore, is not a reduction in Debt charges, but an addition to Income Tax revenue, and amounts to £675,000 a year.

Five Per Cent War Loan

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated amount of Five per Cent. War Loan, 1929–47, which is held abroad, distinguishing amounts held in the Dominions and in foreign countries?

Motor Taxation

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is the intention of the Government to alter the existing system of taxing motor cars?

No definite proposal is before the Government to alter the system of taxing motor cars. I am, and always have been, prepared, however, to consider any alteration in the horse-power formula governing the taxation of private motor cars which, without involving loss of revenue, would assist British manufacturers.

Finance And Industry

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to receive a report from the Macmillan Committee inquiring into currency policy?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on Thursday last to similar questions by the hon. Members for Southampton (Mr. Morley), North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan), and Birkenhead, East (Mr. White).

League Of Nations (Gold Delegation)

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the interim report of the Gold Delegation of the Financial Committee of the League of Nations; and what steps it is proposed to take to carry out the recommendations contained therein?

I have received this interim report, which bears upon the possibility that future supplies of new gold may prove inadequate to meet the world's monetary requirements. The measures which it suggests to meet such an eventuality are international in scope and lie only in part in the sphere of Governments. Moreover, the Delegation has not yet completed its investigation.

Will the right hon. Gentleman lay that as a White Paper? It is published and printed in English in Geneva, but it is not available for Members of the House.

At first sight, I see no objection to doing that, and I will consider it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take such action as is possible through the British representative on the League of Nations?

I do not think that at the moment it will be desirable that I should make any statement beyond what I have said. As the hon. Member knows, this Committee has not yet concluded its investigations, and no action could be taken until its next report has been made.

Smuggling

54.

asked· the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has recently been drawn to the increased amount of smuggling taking place on the South and East Coasts; and whether his Department are taking special precautions to prevent it?

My attention has already been drawn to various reports in the Press on this subject, and such action as is deemed necessary has been taken.

Have any inquiries been made of the responsible journalist who wrote these articles, and said he was on the boat and saw this going on?

Has the hon. Gentleman any official knowledge or information that some smuggling is actually taking place?

Whatever action is necessary is being taken, but it is not desirable to go into details.

Coal Mining

Deputation To Scandinavia

68.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he can give the House any information concerning the results of his recent visit to Scandinavia with a deputation from the coal industry?

The SECRETARY for MINES
(Mr. Shinwell)