Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 244: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1930

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

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 12th November, 1930.

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

Oral Answers To Questions

China

Nanking Government

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether an agreement has now been reached on all outstanding points between His Majesty's Government and the Nanking Government?

As I have already announced to the House, agreement has been reached on a number of questions. With regard to the question of extraterritoriality, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I returned to him on the 5th of November.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether conversations are going on, and how long it will be before they are concluded?

Does this refer to the agreement with reference to the Hankow and Canton Railway?

No, that is not included. If the hon. Gentleman desires to have further information on that point and will put a question down, I will give him an answer.

Does the agreement include any points in regard to the Boxer Indemnity

Yes, as I announced in the House, that is one of the questions dealt with.

Do not the Boxer Indemnity and the Hankow and Canton Railway fit in with one another?

If the hon. Member requires further information on this matter, and will put down a question, I shall be pleased to give it.

League Of Nations

Slavery

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he intends to furnish to the League of Nations the information in possession of the Government respecting the present general position in regard to slavery, in accordance with the resolution passed by the Eleventh Assembly of the League of Nations?

This matter will be carefully considered, but I am not yet able to state what action His Majesty's Government will take on the resolution of the Assembly.

Does the right hon. Gentleman include in his consideration of this matter the question of slave labour in Russia?

May I have an answer to my question, or shall I raise it on the Adjournment?

On a point of Order. May I say, as the right hon. Gentleman is unable to give me an answer, that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment at an early date?

Is the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) entitled to give notice to raise a matter on the Adjournment upon a supplementary question which has nothing whatever to do with the original question?

The hon. Member can raise any question he likes on the Motion for the Adjournment.

I quite understand that an hon. Member can raise anything he likes on the Adjournment, but I would like to ask is it in order for an hon. Member, in putting a supplementary question which has no connection with the original question on the Paper, to give notice that he will raise that question on the Motion for the Adjournment and thus take up the time of the House?

The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) himself has been taking up the time of the House.

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what nations are not parties to the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1926; and with reference to Article 4 that the high contracting parties shall give to one another every assistance with the object of securing the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, whether any endeavour has been made by this country separately, or in association with other countries, to secure the adhesion of countries where slavery is known to exist?

Twenty-four countries have not yet signed the AntiSlavery Convention of 1926, and 12 countries have signed or otherwise acceded, but have not yet ratified. I am circulating the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave on the 5th of November to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White).

May I presume that Russia is among the countries that have not signed?

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into the five-year-plan which has condemned the bulk of the Russian people to penal servitude for five years?

Following are the names:

Countries who have neither signed nor acceded to the Convention.
Afghanistan.Lichtenstein.
Argentine Republic.Luxemburg.
Mexico.
Bolivia.Paraguay.
Brazil.Peru.
Chile.Salvador.
Costa Rica.San Merion.
Free City of Danzig.Siam.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Guatemala.
Hejaz.
Honduras.Switzerland.
Iceland.Turkey.
Japan.Venezuela.

Countries who have signed or acceded to, but have not yet ratified, the Convention.
Abyssinia.France.
Albania.Lithuania.
China.Panama.
Colombia.Persia.
Cuba.Rumania.
Dominican Republic.Uruguay.

Minorities (Commission)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any further action has been taken as a result of the declaration made by the Government in committee at the Assembly of the League of Nations in September last to the effect that they were prepared to consider on its merits the setting up of a permanent minorities commission?

The representative of His Majesty's Government at Geneva did not commit himself either for or against the proposal for a permanent minorities commission. General agreement was reached in the Sixth Committee of the Assembly that no change should be made at present in the existing procedure, which should, however, be applied as fully as possible.

Do I understand that the Government have quite an open mind on this matter of a permanent minorities commission?

Disarmament

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if any further action has been taken in pursuance of the policy expressed in his statement made at the Assembly of the League of Nations last September that, in the opinion of the British Government., Article 8 of the Covenant with regard to disarmament was as binding and as important as any other article contained therein or in the Treaties of Peace?

As the hon. Member is aware, the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference is now in session at Geneva, and I trust that its deliberations will be successful in preparing the way for the execution by all States Members of the League of Article 8 of the Covenant.

Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear that until other States have carried out their obligations under Article 8 they cannot rely upon us to carry out our duties under Article 16, which deals with sanctions?

That is a very large question to have to settle by way of an answer to a question.

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the instructions given to the British delegation to the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament include the acceptance of the principle of no limitation of trained reserves; and whether this principle has been accepted by His Majesty's Government?

When the present Session of the Preparatory Commission is ended, I will issue a White Paper setting out its conclusions and indicating the attitude adopted by the representative of His Majesty's Government on the various questions discussed. Meanwhile I do not, consider that such points as that raised by my hon. and gallant Friend can be usefully dealt with at this stage.

I sin much obliged to my right hon. Friend for his answer. Could the right hon. Gentleman find it convenient to say whether there has been any alteration of policy with regard to the question of the limitation of trained reserves?

During the sittings which are now being held I deprecate having to answer specific questions. I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend to accept the offer which I have made.

Mandates Commission

asked the Prime Minister what steps it is proposed to recommend to give effect to the declaration of the British Government's delegate at Geneva that the experience which the Mandates Commission was acquiring should be utilised more than it is for the benefit of Native races throughout the world?

The reference appears to be to the remarks made in the 6th Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Buxton) who was one of the British delegates at the 11th Session of the Assembly. My hon. Friend drew attention to the valuable process of pooling the results and experience in Colonial Administration derived from the work of the Permanent Mandates Commission, and he emphasised the fact that the principle of trusteeship was derived not only from the provisions of the Mandates but also from Article 23 of the Covenant which applied to all territories under the jurisdiction of members of the League. His Majesty's Government always devote close attention to the work of the Permanent Mandates Commission, and consider whether any lessons can be drawn from it involving principles of general application to the administration of Colonial Territories. They propose to continue to study the work of the Commission with this end in view.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statement referred to is an invitation to the Mandates Commission to extend their authority over all British Colonies, and can we have an assurance from the Prime Minister that it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government to extend the authority of the Mandates Commission to any other Colony?

I have no hesitation in giving that assurance. That idea has never entered our minds.

Before any recommendation of the Mandates Commission is given effect to by His Majesty's Government in respect of the territories aver which they hold a mandate, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that there will be communication and consultation with the Government of the Union of South Africa and of the Commonwealth of Australia, which also have Mandatory territories under their control?

I think that ought to have notice of such an important question as that.

Russia

Russo-Asiatic Consolidated, Limited (Claim)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the claims of the Russo-Asiatic Consolidated, Limited, against the Russian Government; and whether he has taken the matter up with the Russian Government through the Soviet Ambassador?

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can inform the House as to what has happened in connection with the claim of the Russo-Asiatic Consolidated, Limited, against the Russian Soviet Government for £56,000,000 in respect of the confiscation of their property in Soviet Russia; and what action the British Government are taking in support of the claim of this British company?

The claims of this company arise out of losses due to the revolution of 1917. It is, therefore, one of a number of similar claims registered at the Board of Trade and now forming a subject of discussion by the Joint Anglo-Soviet Committee sitting in London.

Is this not an entirely different matter from the Lena Goldfields case, in which the Soviet Government have repudiated the arbitration award?

Is the right hon. Gentleman Not aware that the delay in the settlement of this matter involves a loss to British shareholders of about £8,000 a day, and will he urge the Committee to proceed with greater speed?

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am doing all that I can to keep the Committee sitting in order to facilitate a settlement.

Will the Foreign Secretary answer the last part of my question as to whether he has taken the matter up with the Russian Government through the Soviet Ambassador?

It is not necessary for me to take the matter up with the Ambassador when there is a Committee sitting dealing with the whole question.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take up this question with the Ambassador?

British Newspaper Correspondents (Facilities)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will endeavour to obtain from the Soviet Government facilities for British newspaper correspondents in Russia similar to those which they receive in other large European countries?

I doubt whether this is a matter in which His Majesty's Government can usefully intervene. British newspapers, in deciding whether or not to send correspondents to Soviet Russia, will no doubt take into consideration the conditions under which their representatives will carry on their work.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the principal grievance is the very severe censorship imposed, and will the right hon. Gentleman press this on the Soviet Government with a view to improving the understanding between the two countries?

I am always trying to press the Soviet Government with one thing or another.

Labour Conditions

63.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he will call for a report from the commercial diplomatic officer of the wages and conditions in the timber trade, collectivist farms, and factories of Soviet Russia, stating where prison labour and forced labour are employed, and to what extent?

I regret that I am unable to accept the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion.

Animal Shelter, Prague

7.

asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that, as a result of an action of an employé of His Majesty's Embassy, a shelter for animals in Prague has been closed; and will he consider making representations on the subject, with a view to the withdrawal of their objections?

Yes, Sir. It is true that certain citizens of Prague, one of whom happened to be an employé of His Majesty's Legation, recently lodged a complaint regarding the site of a shelter for animals situated near their private residences. As a result of this complaint the local magistrate ordered the shelter to be removed elsewhere. The employé in question is a Czech national who was only exercising the ordinary rights of a citizen. As he was not acting in his capacity of employé of His Majesty's Legation, the affair is not one which concerns His Majesty's Government in any way. The question of representations does not, therefore, arise.

Argentina (Trade Agreement)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has had any intimation from the Argentine Government of their intention to seek legislative approval of the D'Abernon agreement?

The Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs recently informed His Majesty's Ambassador that Lord D'Abernon's agreement was awaiting the approval of the Senate, and that when this was given the Executive would take the necessary steps to put it into force.

I do not know what the hon. Member means by negotiations. We are doing all that we can in the matter.

Royal Navy

Specialist Courses

12.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of applications that have been made to his Department, during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date, by officers (ex-mate class) to take specialist courses; the number of these that have been selected; and will he give particulars of the number of ex-mates who have been promoted to commander on the active list during the same period?

During the 12 months ended 31st October, 1930, seven applications were received from officers, ex-mate, to take specialist courses. Of these, three officers have already been selected, and it is anticipated that two more will he appointed in January next and two in February. During the same period two lieutenant-commanders, ex-mate, have been promoted to commander.

Can the First Lord of the Admiralty say whether the small number of applications is due to the difficulty of the examination?

I think it is due to a variety of causes. The whole question of the position of the mates and ex-mates has not been satisfactory.

New Cruisers (Tonnage)

13.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the respective tonnages of the three cruisers included in the recent naval building programme?

The standard tonnage of each of the cruisers referred to is about 7,000 tons.

Reductions (Pensions And Compensation)

14.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will introduce a scheme for the pension and compensation of ranks and ratings in the Royal Navy and employés in naval establishments rendered superfluous by the London Naval Treaty?

As regards personnel of the Royal Navy, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave him on the 25th June (OFFICIAL REPORT, Columns 1125–6). So far as employés in the Royal Dockyards are concerned, the occasion to consider the introduction of any special scheme of the kind suggested has not arisen, as there is sufficient work to keep the dockyards, with the normal fluctuations in numbers, fully employed.

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered any scheme, as he suggested in his previous answer to which he has referred me, in regard to officers who are to be retired from the Navy?

The hon. and gallant Member's question in this case refers to reductions due to the London Naval Treaty. I said then that we would take into consideration the position of officers whom we failed to absorb. At the moment I am riot prepared to go further than that; we must wait and see what the outcome is.

Russian Timber (Purchases)

15.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what was the amount of timber bought by his Department from Russia for the years 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, respectively?

All Russian timber is bought from importers in this Country. The amounts are:

Standards.
19251,044
19261,327
19271,140
1928 558
19291,317
1930984(up to date).

Are we to understand that the previous Government bought far more timber from Russia than the present Government? [Interruption.]

Marriage Allowances

17.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the Board of Admiralty have now reached a decision regarding the award of marriage allowances to naval officers?

Devonport Dockyard (Apprentices)

18.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many apprentices have been discharged from Devonport Dockyard in the last four months; the reasons for their discharge; and whether a system can be inaugurated so to regulate the engagement of apprentices in order that they shall not, bearing also in mind the necessary sacrifice made by their parents, find themselves discharged on the completion of their apprenticeships without opportunities of employment?

With regard to the first part of the question, two apprentices have been discharged from Devonport Dockyard in the last four months, having been appointed to another Department. As regards the second part of the question, the hon. Member will appreciate that the number of apprentices to be entered in the dockyards each year must necessarily be fixed at least five years before they become qualified craftsmen, and that in the intervening period circumstances are liable to change. The number of entries has, however, been greatly diminished in the last 10 years, and every effort is made to secure that there shall be no surplus over Admiralty requirements.

Home Establishments (Leave With Pay)

19.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has now considered the reports furnished by all yards and establishments in home waters which observed the closed holiday week; and what arrangements have been decided upon in the future regarding the week's holiday leave with pay?

The detailed reports from the various establishments have only recently been received. They will he duly considered.

Specialist Officers

20.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the number of cadet-entry officers who have specialised in (G), (T), (N), A/S, (S), W/T, P, and R.T., and staff duties since the issue of Admiralty Fleet Order, No. 1,095, of 16th April, 1926, which stated that lieutenants promoted from the rank of mate are eligible to specialise under the same conditions as other lieutenants; the number of lieutenants (ex-mate) who have qualified in these branches since that date; and the number of these officers who are taking the 1930 courses and who have been selected for the 1931 courses?

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

Following is the reply:

The number of (ex-cadet) officers who have specialised in these subjects since the issue of Admiralty Fleet Order 1,095, of lath April. 1926, is as follows:

"G"59
"T"55
"N"45
"S" and "W/T"39
"A/S"6
"P. and R.T."17
Staff99

The number of ex-mates who have specialised in these subjects during the same period is as follows:

"G"1
"T"1

No lieutenants (ex-mates) are taking the 1930 courses in these subjects, and none have yet been selected for the 1931 courses.

Palestine

21.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies when he expects to be in a position to define the financial provision which it is proposed to make for the purposes of agricultural development, as referred to in the recently issued statement of policy relating to Palestine [Cmd. 3692]?

I have been asked to reply to this question. I have already told the House that the matter is under active consideration. I am not in a position to name a date.

May I ask whether or not it is to be understood that no financial provision was defined or taken into consideration before the pronouncement as to policy?

I understand that there is to be a day next week for the discussion of Palestine, when the Government's financial policy will be fully explained.

22.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government will publish the instructions given to Sir John Hope-Simpson leading to his visit to Palestine, and his report on immigration, land settlement, and development [Cmd. 3686.]

The hon. and gallant Member has already been informed of Sir J. Hope-Simpson's instructions. No formal commission was issued to him.

23.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the names of all the persons who accompanied him on his recent visit to the Near East; in what capacity they travelled; whether they all went at the expense of the taxpayer; and what was the total cost of the visit?

The Under-Secretary was accompanied by his Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Mathers), and by an officer in the Mediterranean Department of the Colonial Office. The tour was undertaken in accordance with the general policy of establishing closer contact between the Colonial Office and oversea Governments. The expenses of the party will be borne by public funds, in conformity with the established practice in such cases. The exact cost of the tour is not yet known, but it will be approximately £600.

Is there any precedent for a Parliamentary Private Secretary going at the Government's expense?

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the criticism and disapproval of the new statement of policy with regard to Palestine, His Majesty's Government will refrain from promulgating any ordinances in Palestine on the basis of the White Paper until Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss it?

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the advisability of recommending the Government of Palestine to defer action upon the statement of policy recently presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State until an opportunity has been given for a debate in both Houses of Parliament?

The White Paper on Palestine issued by His Majesty's Government after the receipt of the Hope Simpson report has given rise to some misunderstanding and has been misinterpreted in some essential points; and His Majesty's Government, therefore, do not intend to proclaim ordinances before discussion of the White Paper in this House. I must repeat that His Majesty's Government intend to carry out their obligations under the Mandate to both sections of the population in Palestine.

I am sure that the Prime Minister will realise that it is important to have this matter cleared up as soon as possible. When can he give us an opportunity for a discussion on this subject?

The matter has been in the hands of the usual channels, and I believe that to-morrow, in the course of the statement of next week's business, the subject will be announced. I cannot quite say when it will take place. It may be Monday; it may be Tuesday.

Are we to draw the deduction from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that the Government are prepared to modify the drafting of the White Paper and to make a statement to that effect in the debate when it takes place?

The right hon. Gentleman might wait for the debate. The substance, I think, is all right.

Southern Nigeria

24 and 25.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1), what action the Government proposes to take in view of the finding of the commission of inquiry that the firing by police at certain places, including that which occurred at Utu Etim Ekpo, in the Calabar province, Southern Nigeria, on 15th December last, by a platoon of 26 men with rifles and a Lewis gun, when 18 women were killed and 19 wounded, was not justified; (2), whether the recommendations of the Aba commission of inquiry into the disturbances in Southern Nigeria last December, particularly as regard the free pardon of certain persons, the desirability of changes in the methods of imposing taxation, and the reconsideration both of the collective fines actually imposed and of the whole subject of collective punishment, are being carried into effect?

It is not proposed to take a decision on the report of the commission until the views of the Government of Nigeria have been received and considered. The transmission of these views has been delayed owing to a change in the administration of the Government of Nigeria, but a telegram has been despatched urging expedition.

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, according to the report, out of 13 cases of firing which were investigated, eight were found to be not justified; and can we have some assurance that the officers responsible for these cases are at least being removed to areas which will give their qualities rather less scope?

All I can say is that there has been a change in regard to the Colonial Secretary in Nigeria, which has delayed the receipt of the report, and the Governor himself is ill in this country. We are awaiting the report, which I hope will be here shortly.

Ceylon

27.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered the resolution sent to him as passed at a mass meeting held in Colombo, Ceylon, on 23rd October, representative of all communities in the island, with regard to the financial position of the island; and what action it is proposed to take in the matter?

The resolution to which the hon. and learned Member refers has been received. My Noble Friend is satisfied that the Government of Ceylon is taking adequate steps to deal with the financial situation. He does not consider that any special action is called for on his part.

Is not the hon. Gentleman keeping in view the fact that one of the resolutions passed at this most representative meeting which is referred to in the question was to the effect that the Income Tax proposals were against the wishes of the people, and would do great harm and aggravate the difficulties of the country in a time of unprecedented depression?

I have very full information as to the meeting which was held, and more than a quarter of the people who attended that meeting were members of the Labour party, who were not allowed either to speak or to move an amendment. If an Income Tax is to be imposed upon Ceylon, that will be a matter for the Legislative Council. I understand that the Governor does not feel that it is in his power to interfere.

Is it not the case that on the Second Reading of the Bill the official members were instructed to vote for the Bill, and that without the official vote the Bill would have been defeated?

Kenya

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give instructions to the Government of Kenya that in the preparation of the estimates of expenditure for the year 1931 the sums proposed to be spent on Arab and African education, respectively, shall be shown in separate schedules or in separate sections of the same schedule?

As the draft Estimates for the year 193I have already been drawn up by the Government of Kenya, my Noble Friend fears that it would be too late to make a change as suggested; but he will bring the matter to the notice of the Government of Kenya, and he hopes that it may be possible for the expenditure on Arab and African education to be shown separately in the Estimates for 1932 and subsequent years.

Can the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that this practice of the Kenya Government every year since 1926 has not been a device to prevent the ascertainment of what money has been spent on this object?

I do not know what was in the mind of the Kenya Government on this matter, and cannot tell the House what their intention was. We have promised to see that the practice is altered from now onwards.

Transjordan

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present cost to the British Treasury and/or the Palestine Government of the administration of Transjordan; what is the cost of the defence force; and whether any subsidy, direct or indirect, is paid to the ruler or Government of Transjordan?

As regards the first part of the question, the sum provided in this year's Estimates as the British contribution towards the expenses of the Transjordan administration was £60,000. A further grant-in-aid of £24,000 will, however, be necessary, and a Supplementary Estimate for that amount is about to be presented to Parliament. Palestine does not contribute towards the cost. It is assumed that the second part of the question refers to the Transjordan Frontier Force. The cost of this force for the current financial year is estimated at £250,000, of which part is chargeable to Palestine and part to His Majesty's Government. As regards the third part of the question, the Emir's Civil List, amounting in the current year to £13,524, is provided for in the Estimates of the Transjordan Administration.

A subsidy was paid for a number of years. Has it been dropped altogether?

I think I have given my hon. and gallant Friend a very full reply. A supplementary estimate is to be put down.

West Indies (Sugar Industry)

30.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present position of employment and production in the West Indian cane-sugar industry; and how many contract labourers have been repatriated during the past six months at the expense of the Island Governments?

The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that this matter cannot be dealt with fully within the limits of an oral reply. Briefly the position is that as yet unemployment is serious only in British Guiana, Antigua and St. Kitts, where it is being dealt with by means of relief works, which are already in progress. In British Guiana these works will probably attain a considerable scale and are estimated to cost £112,000 by 31st March next. Such information as is at present available indicates that, so far, the aggregate production of sugar has not been greatly curtailed. There is, however, no recent report from British Guiana, but one is expected shortly. No contract labourers have been repatriated to India during the past six months, and the Secretary of State is not aware that any have been repatriated to other destinations.

Seeing that the Secretary of State telegraphed specially in the middle of September to the Governors of the West Indies and British Guiana for a report on the subject, may we know whether a report has yet been received, and, if so, whether it will be published?

In view of the need for relief works in these islands, do the Government think it is a good investment to guarantee loans to Russia?

Northern Rhodesia

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Joint Committee of this House and another place intended to be set up to inquire into closer union in East Africa will be instructed under its terms of reference to inquire into the future status and constitution of Northern Rhodesia; and, if so, whether those terms of reference will vest in the committee a discretion to admit evidence on behalf of the non-official members of the legislative council of Northern Rhodesia?

The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. The second part, therefore, does not arise.

I beg to give notice that I shall raise the question of the constitutional position of the people of Northern Rhodesia, the proposals of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and the suggestions made by the Prime Minister of South Africa on the Adjournment of the House at an early date.

Aviation

Trans-Atlantic Plight ("Miss Columbia")

34.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that a Royal Air Force flying boat proceeded from Mount Batten to the Scilly Isles for the purpose of transporting petrol to the aeroplane "Miss Columbia" on its recent trans-Atlantic flight; and if he will state the cost of this voyage?

Yes, Sir, petrol was supplied to this American0 aeroplane, as stated in the question, and the cost has since been refunded to the Air Ministry. No special expenditure was incurred as the flying boat was, in any case, due for a navigational exercise that day, and the opportunity was taken to carry out some photographic work at Penzance and the Scilly Islands, an occasion for which was already being awaited.

Light Aeroplane Clubs

35.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he can give particulars of the number of members of light aeroplane clubs who have obtained "A" licences during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date, stating the names of the clubs to which these members belong?

The number of new "A" pilot's licences issued to members of subsidised light aeroplane clubs during the year ended 31st July, 1930, was 441. With my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving the names of the clubs and the numbers of new licences issued to the members of each club.

Does the table also show the number of light aeroplane clubs that commenced operations during the same period?

Following is the table:

Club.Number of Licences issued.
Bristol and Wessex20
Cinque Ports38
Hampshire44
Lancashire26
Liverpool and District23
London47
Midland28
Newcastle33
Norfolk and Norwich15
Northamptonshire7
Nottingham3
Scottish21
Suffolk and Eastern Counties12
Yorkshire17
Clubs affiliated to National Flying Services, Limited107
Total441

Flying Regulations (Crowded Areas)

37.

asked the Under Secretary of State for Air whether he contemplates issuing instructions to prevent loss of life by stopping aircraft flying over crowded areas except in cases of necessity

The regulations governing civil and service flying now in force contain provisions, the object of which is to prevent danger to life in populated areas. It is forbidden, for instance, to fly over a city or town except at a height which will enable the aircraft to land outside the city or town in the event of mechanical breakdown or other cause, subject to this proviso, that the prohibition is not to apply to any area comprised within a circle with a radius of one mile from the centre of a licensed aerodrome, of a Royal Air Force aerodrome or of an aerodrome under the control of the Secretary of State. It is also forbidden to carry out any trick or exhibition flying over a populated area or, in general, to fly in such a way as to cause unnecessary danger to persons on the ground. Power has also been taken to impose such restrictions as are considered expedient in the interest of public safety upon flying over large gatherings of people in special circumstances. My Noble Friend does not think that further instructions such as those suggested by my hon. Friend are necessary or practicable.

Contractors (Financial Stability)

38.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that several companies and firms which have supplied material, specified to be manufactured by them in Air Ministry contracts, to a heating engineering firm now in liquidation, have been unable to receive payment for goods so supplied; whether the Air Ministry takes any steps to ascertain the financial stability of firms with which it makes contracts; and whether the Ministry intends to do anything to meet the accounts of such sub-contractors?

Yes, Sir, I am aware of the case to which, I think, the hon. and gallant Member is referring. The answer to the second part of this question is in the affirmative, but to the last part in the negative. Inquiries were made when the firm in question was placed on the Air Ministry list, but it would be impossible for the Air Ministry to guarantee the solvency of contractors in relation to the various sub-contractors with whom they may have dealings.

If there is still money unpaid by the Air Ministry, will it be paid over to the sub-contractors and not direct to the contracting firm?

Does not the fact that a firm is contracting for the British Government naturally lead the sub-contractors to believe that it is solvent?

Accidents (Investigation)

41.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider the desirability of ordering that all inquiries into accidents to aircraft shall be held in public; that all relevant evidence shall be made public; and that a full description of the machine shall in each case be given where, as a result of the inquiry, the cause or probable cause of the accident is determined?

My Noble Friend has the whole question of the investigation of aircraft accidents under his immediate consideration, but he is not at present able to make any announcement on the subject.

Sea-Going Aeroplanes

39 and 40.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) whether, in view of the fact that at the naval demonstration on 1st of November an all-metal machine which was compelled to make a false landing on the sea sank immediately after touching the water, that an all-metal non-buoyant type of machine is the only one used at sea by this country for long-ranging reconnaissance flights up to 100 miles from the parent ship, and that such machines have never been known to remain afloat for more than three minutes, he will consider the resumption for use in such long distance flights of machines with a wooden fuselage and air bags in the tail which have a buoyancy of two or three hours in fair weather;

(2) whether a rubber raft, which requires time for detachment and inflation, such as is furnished to all-metal machines, has been subjected to practical tests as a life-saving device in non-buoyant aircraft at sea; and, if so, with what results?

A life-saving collapsible dinghy, which can be very rapidly inflated by mechanical means, has recently been subjected to practical tests with satisfactory results, and will be carried by all sea-going aeroplanes which are large enough to be so equipped. I am advised that the re-introduction of wooden construction would be a some- what retrograde step; but action is being taken to improve the buoyancy of all aircraft operating from aircraft carriers, and all-metal sea-going aircraft, at least up to the standard—two or three hours' buoyancy—mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.

Is it not a fact that, owing to the introduction of the all-metal aeroplane, it was necessary to restrict the distance an aeroplane could fly from its carrier very considerably, and, in view of that, will the hon. Gentleman consider, at least temporarily, the reintroduction of a portion of the old type aeroplane?

I think the answer to the latter part of the question is in the negative. So far as the first part is concerned, the whole question is a matter of experiment and consideration, and everything is being done on the lines of the answer to the original question.

Airworthiness (Flutter)

42.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what types of aircraft have been condemned or excluded from further use in Service flying, or on which pilots have made adverse reports, on account of wing-flutter or otherwise; and whether any machines of such types are still in use for Service flying and are permitted to be used in civilian flying services?

Cases of wing, aileron, or tail flutter have been reported in different types of aircraft, mostly experimental, from time to time. If such flutter has proved to be incurable the type has not been adopted for Service or civil use. One obsolescent type of Service aircraft which is potentially liable to flutter at extreme speeds is permitted to be flown only at speeds at which flutter does not in fact occur. No flutter is known to occur in any aircraft now holding a British certificate of airworthiness.

Transport

Traffic Census, Oxford

43.

asked the Minister of Transport if he can state, from figures obtained at the last vehicle census taken by the Ministry, what was the number of vehicles passing through Oxford from the Midlands, the North, and the West, and vice versa; what proportion of these were through motor coach services; and haw many were heavy goods lorries

According to a census of traffic taken at Magdalen Bridge, Oxford, in 1928, the average daily number of vehicles was 22,584. These figures include 1,218 motor omnibuses and motor coaches and 1,746 goods motor vehicles, but the statistics do not enable me to differentiate between local and through traffic.

Steam-Driven Vehicles

44.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of the 331,906 licences issued for goods road motor vehicles current at the end of May are in respect of steam-propelled vehicles of the lorry and tractor type, respectively; and whether any other country permits the passage through the streets of cities of steam-driven lorries?

I am unable to state how many licences for goods vehicles current at the end of May were issued in respect of steamdriven vehicles but the census of mechanically-propelled road vehicles taken during the quarter ended September, 1929, showed that there were then 8,520 goods vehicles driven by steam. Tractors are separately classified and are not included in the figure quoted by the hon. and gallant Member. As regards the last part of the question, I have no information.

Will the hon. Gentleman make inquiries as to whether any other countries permit these heavy steam vehicles to go through the streets emitting sparks?

With regard to sparks, regulations can be made, and are under consideration, under the Road Traffic Act, 1930.

Oxford By-Pass Road Scheme

49.

asked the Minister of Transport in what stage are the negotiations between the Oxford City Corporation, the Berkshire County Council and the Ministry of Transport in regard to the by-pass road, plans of which have been prepared for the diversion of through traffic from the streets of Oxford; whether the point at which the road will cross the river has yet been decided; how soon is it thought that work will be commenced on this project; if the by-pass to the north of Oxford, which will run via Headington to Eynsham, has been finally approved; and, if so, when work will be commenced?

I am aware that a, scheme for the diversion of through traffic from the streets of Oxford, which would involve the crossing of the river, has been under consideration by the authorities concerned but no application for assistance from the Road Fund has yet been made. The Berkshire County Council have, however, submitted a scheme for the construction of a new road between South Hinksey and North Hinksey, which road will enable traffic to by-pass Oxford on the South. The county council have been informed that the scheme is approved in principle for a grant from the Road Fund, and I hope that there will be no avoidable delay in the commencement of the work. The preliminary details of the northern by-pass are now being examined with a view to approval in principle being given. I am informed that if the scheme is approved it is hoped to commence the works early next year.

Is the Minister of Transport aware that heavy traffic passing through Oxford is doing very serious damage to buildings of every kind, and will he take steps to hasten the construction of this by-pass so as to avoid this danger?

I am fully aware of the particular difficulties which exist in the city of Oxford, and I have taken very great trouble to try and put the matter right, but I must depend for success upon the active co-operation of all the local authorities concerned.

Road Surface

52.

asked the Minister of Transport if the experiments made by his Department have indicated which is the best road surface from the point of view of visibility at night?

The answer is in the negative. It seems doubtful whether any one material could be proved to be invariably the best from the point of view of visibility at night under all the widely varying climatic and traffic conditions to which roads are subject.

Glasgow-Edinburgh Road

54.

asked the Minister of Transport the approximate date when the Glasgow-Edinburgh road will be completed; and what are the reasons for the delay with the work?

I am informed that the full extent of the Glasgow-Edinburgh road will probably be available for traffic before the end of the year, with the exception of short bypasses at Salsburgh, Bankhead and Newbridge, although the final surfacing operations may not be entirely completed for the whole distance. It is, however, anticipated that the whole will be completed during the coming year. The delay which has taken place is partly due to the negotiations with the railway companies with regard to bridges and in part to the fact that the constructional work on seven miles of the existing road was postponed until the cost of the other sections could be more closely determined.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that every effort is being made to give employment on this road to the unemployed in that area?

As far as the present Government are concerned, certainly; I cannot answer for the last one.

Bridge Scheme, Queensferry

55.

asked the Minister of Transport the present position in connection with the proposed Forth road-bridge at Queensferry; and whether the Government, in considering the question of financial assistance, has taken into account the reduction in unemployment that would be effected by proceeding with the construction of the proposed bridge?

Certain technical proposals are still being examined. In considering the matter the fullest weight will be given to the effect which such a scheme would produce upon unemployment.

London Traffic

57.

asked the Minister of Transport whether it is intended to introduce before Christmas the Measure for the co-ordination of London traffic?

Can the hon. Gentleman give any indication when this Measure will be produced?

That seems to me to be a question for the Leader of the House and not for me.

Motoring Offences (Returns)

73.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider the desirability of keeping a complete record of all cases affecting motorists which may come up in the courts during the year 1931, so that it will be possible better to gauge the actual operation of the Road Traffic Act?

Under existing arrangements information is available concerning all motoring offences, and returns have been laid before Parliament, the latest having been printed this summer, as House of Commons Paper 139. There is no intention of altering these arrangements and in due course returns will be prepared first for 1930 and later for 1931.

Unemployment

Government Proposals

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he proposes to place before the House further proposals for dealing with unemployment; and, if so, whether he can state the date upon which the proposals will be communicated to the House?

Certain legislative proposals bearing directly upon unemployment are already before the House and, in order that the House may have before it a comprehensive statement of Government unemployment policy in all its aspects, a White Paper is now in course of preparation and will, I hope, be available shortly.

When does the right hon. Gentleman intend to implement the alluring promises of "Labour and the Nation"?

Distressed Areas (New Industries)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in establishing new industries in the depressed areas for the purpose of finding alternative employment?

This is a question to which attention is given as and when opportunity offers, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that it is primarily a matter for industry to choose its own location, and that it is extremely difficult to attempt to influence this freedom of choice.

Are we to understand from the answer that no new industry has been made during the 18 months?

Fulham Electricity Generating Station

53.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in connection with the proposed extension of the electricity generating station at Fulham, which it is estimated will consume when completed some 2,250 tons of coal per day, he can now inform the House as to the nature of the report of the Government, chemist on the result of the experiments as to the possibility of eliminating the danger to surrounding districts arising from the emission of sulphur fumes?

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the experiments at Grove Road have been on a scale which will give a sure reason that a conclusion may be arrived at with regard to this enormous consumption of 2,250 tons of coal at this proposed generating station?

I think that the experiments on the part of the London Power Company have been on a scale of real substance which enable us to get conclusions out of the report, but the hon. Gentleman will, of course, draw his own conclusions from the report when it is published, and I think it will be wrong for me to anticipate it.

Government Departments

Ministry Of Transport (Appointments)

58.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that notices inviting Post Office employés to apply for appointments to the Ministry of Transport, Traffic Commissioners' office, were posted less than 24 hours before the latest time for the submission of the applications to the postmaster; whether it is intended to extend the time for the receipt of applications of these appointments; and whether, in view of the small number of promotions available to Post Office employés, he will see that more time is allowed if future announcements of this kind are made?

The arrangements made in the Post Office are a matter for the Postmaster-General. Notices inviting applications for the appointments mentioned were circulated to Government Departments on the 23rd October with a request that a limited number of names might be forwarded to the Ministry of Transport not later than the 4th November. I should point out that the number of posts available is very limited. Endeavours are made to give as long notice as possible in all announcements of appointments.

Can the Minister say the date on which the Postmaster-General received the communication from the Ministry of Transport?

The date upon which we notified the various Government Departments was 23rd October. The question as to when the Postmaster sent out his own notice should be addressed to my right hon. Friend.

New Offices, Whitehall

59.

asked the First Commissioner of Works if the designs of the proposed new Government offices in Whitehall will be put to open competition or confined to architects of the Office of Works?

While it has been decided that the design for the proposed Government offices in Whitehall will be entrusted to an architect in private practice, the precise method of selection has not yet been settled.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in accepting the design, he will insist upon British material only being used?

Rental

61.

asked the First Commissioner of Works the total cost per annum of the hiring or leasing of accommodation for the housing of Government Departments in the London area?

The total rental paid out of Office of Works Votes for housing Government Departments in the London area is £416,000 per annum.

In view of the magnitude of that expenditure, nearly half-a-million a year, does not the First Commissioner think that the interests of economy as well as of efficiency would be served by a much more extensive programme of building as distinct from renting from private owners?

I shall be very glad if the House will help me in the interests of economy by passing the very short Bill I hope to introduce shortly.

Agriculture

Smallholdings

64.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the approximate cost to the State, if any, of the Small Holdings Acts, 1908 to 1914?

I have been asked to reply. Up to the 31st March, 1919, the total amount paid by the State to councils in England and Wales in respect of smallholdings provided under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908, was approximately £396,000. Of this sum approximately two-thirds consisted of legal and other expenses of acquisition which were repaid to councils under Section 21 of the Act. Since the date mentioned any losses on these holdings have not been shown separately from those incurred in respect of the holdings provided under the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919, but the proportion would be very small.

Can the hon. Member tell us whether that figure includes the sum expended in rates?

66.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give the number of schemes for establishing smallholdings submitted to the Minister under the Small Holdings Act of 1926; the number of county councils which have submitted schemes; and the number of persons actually established in smallholdings under the 1926 Act to date?

212 schemes for establishing small holdings under the Act of 1926 have been submitted by 44 councils. About a quarter of these schemes will not he carried into effect for various reasons, but on the other hand some acquisitions which did not involve loss have been effected by councils without reference to the Ministry. The number of persons actually established in smallholdings provided under the Act up to 31st December, 1929, was 444, and the total number of holdings that will eventually be created on the lands acquired including acquisitions effected this year, is approximately 670.

Land Settlement

65.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give the approximate net cost to the State of the Land Settlement Act during 1919–26; and the number of persons settled on the land under that Act for the period 1919–26?

As the reply is long and contains a number of figures, it is proposed with my hon. Friend's permission to circulate it in the OFFICIAL. REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The number of holdings provided by councils under the Land Settlement Scheme during the period 1919 to 1926 was about 16,000. The net capital expenditure incurred on the purchase and equipment of land was approximately £15,250,000, of which £14,000,000 was advanced by the Public Works Loan Commissioners out of the Land Settlement Fund, the remainder being provided locally. These figures include a certain

amount spent on the equipment of land acquired before 1918. The sum advanced is repayable in full over varying periods with interest at rates varying from 4¾ per cent. to 6½ per cent., the average rate being 6¼ per cent. The losses due to the fact that the rents of the holdings fall short of the loan payments and the charges for repairs, management, etc., were repaid annually to councils for each year up to 31st March, 1926. The amount so repaid was £5,100,000, but it should be observed:

  • (a) That the number of holdings only reached its maximum in 1923; and
  • (b) That some part of the loss related to pre-War holdings upon which further money was spent after 1938.
  • As from 1st April, 1926, the Ministry pays to each council a predetermined annual contribution for the whole of the council's pre-War and post-War holdings. The total amounts so payable in respect of the first five years were approximately as follows, and it may he assumed that the hulk is in respect of the holdings created after 1918:

    £
    1926737,000*
    1927902,000
    1928892,000
    1929865,000
    1930845,000

    The contributions will continue at a progressively diminishing rate until by reason of the repayment of loans, the annual charges will fall to the level of the annual income. The high costs prevailing during the period when most of the equipment was provided are, of course, reflected in these figures.

    * The full contribution of about £900,000 was reduced to this figure in consequence of overlapping with payments made under the arrangements in force up to 31st March, 1926.

    Tuberculosis, Kent (Sanatorium Treatment)

    67.

    asked the Minister of Health the number of tuberculosis cases awaiting admission for sanatorium treatment in Kent county on the 1st November as compared with the 1st May; and whether such cases awaiting admission include patients notified tuberculous on account of acute pleurisy?

    The number of persons who were awaiting admission to residential institutions under the county council's scheme was 99 on the 1st of November, as compared with 81 on the 1st of May, the number of persons who were receiving treatment on these dates respectively being 595 and 559. These figures relate to persons medically recommended as suitable for residential treatment, and include any such persons who may have been notified as tuberculous on account of acute pleurisy.

    In view of the fact that I can bring to the notice of the Minister specific cases where doctors have certified people as urgent cases and that they have had to wait many weeks, will she urge the county council medical authorities to take steps to provide greater sanatorium accommodation?

    If the hon. Member will give me any cases, I shall be delighted to inquire into them.

    Is the hon. Lady aware that there has been a shortage of accommodation for a very long time and that the Minister has promised to look into the matter?

    Scotland

    Criminal Lunatic Department (Perth Prison)

    68.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can state the number of persons who are still detained in the criminal lunatic department of Perth Prison who have been certified as sane for one, two, and three or more years, respectively?

    I am obtaining the information desired and will communicate it to my hon. Friend.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the provisions of the 1857 Act are not used to give imprisonment for life to these people?

    National Health Insurance (Medical Referees)

    69.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the names of the medical referees for Glasgow under the National Health Insurance Act; when they were appointed, and the salaries paid in each case; and whether the approved societies have any right of nomination and bear any portion of the expenditure involved?

    I am sending my hon. Friend a statement containing the information asked for in the first part of the question. As regards the latter part, the appointment of medical referees are made, with the approval of the Secretary of State for Scotland, by the Department of Health for Scotland who select the doctors best qualified in their opinion to act as referees. The cost of the referee service is a charge on National Health Insurance Funds.

    70.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if there are regulations for the guidance of medical referees under the National Health Insurance Act; and, if so, whether the rules lay down any period of time from certification by the panel doctor before the referee may question the seriousness of the illness of the person so certified by his or her own medical adviser?

    The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. Cases may be referred to the regional medical officer for his opinion either as to capacity for work or state of health at any stage of the illness.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say who refers them to the regional medical officer? Has not the panel doctor any authority in regard to the state of health? Is it the panel doctor who refers them?

    The selection of cases for reference is made by the approved society or general practitioner concerned and can be made either on a question of capacity or incapacity for work or in order to obtain a second opinion about the patient's state of health. Insured persons in receipt of certificates of incapacity for work from their panel practitioners can be referred at any time. It should be borne in mind that the medical referees merely express an opinion on the question of incapacity. The decision as to whether benefit should be continued or stopped rests entirely with the approved society and though they may be influenced by the opinion expressed by the medical referee the matter is one for which they must accept complete responsibility?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of discontent owing to the number of references that are made, quite obviously without any real reason, to the regional medical officer, and will he look into the matter and have it stopped?

    If my hon. Friend has any particular case brought to his notice, I shall be prepared to have inquiries made about it.

    Captive Animals' Performances (Children)

    72.

    asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the desirability of introducing legislation to prevent children attending performances in which captive animals appear?

    My right hon. Friend is not prepared to introduce legislation on this subject.

    Aliens (Russian Subjects)

    74.

    asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics repudiates responsibility for the activities of the Third International, he proposes to refuse admission to this country, either in official or unofficial capacities, of all Russian subjects known to have any connection, direct or indirect, with that organisation?

    Every application for a visa to enable a Soviet citizen to come to this country is the subject of special consideration and as at present advised, my right hon. Friend does not think any change of practice is called for.

    In view of the fact that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have declared that the Soviet Government and the Third International are identical, what steps does the hon. Member propose to take in answer to the latter part of the question?

    I have already answered that question. We do not propose to make any change.

    Tanganyika (Juvenile Offenders)

    32.

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies Whether there has been a further increase in the number of juvenile offenders in Tanganyika during the year 1929; and what steps have been taken to provide suitable accommodation for those needing institutional training?