House Of Commons
Wednesday, 19th November, 1930.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
London and North Eastern Railway Order Confirmation Bill,
Considered: to be read the Third time To-morrow.
Marriages Provisional Orders Bill,
Read a Second time, and committed.
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received a report from His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow on the subject of unemployment in the Soviet Union?
Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Moscow recently reported the promulgation on the 9th of October of a decree of the Commissariat of Labour to the effect that, as there was an acute shortage of labour in all industries, no provision is being made in the Social Insurance budget for unemployment payments during the current quarter.
British Embassy, Moscow
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if it is the intention of the Government to appoint either a naval, a military, or an air attaché to the British Embassy in Moscow?
No, Sir. It is not proposed to make such appointments.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say why it is not proposed, in view of the number of armed forces possessed by the Soviet Government?
One of the reasons is that we have a little regard for economy.
If that is so, why should we not withdraw our military attaché from Holland and Denmark, where there is no army at all and send them to countries where there are armies?
asked the First Commissioner of Works when the British Embassy in Moscow will be ready for occupation; what are the terms of the lease of the new Embassy; and what rent is being paid to the Soviet Government?
It is expected that the building will be ready for occupation by January next. The premises have been taken for a period of 20 years from June last, with an option in favour of His Majesty's Government to determine every fifth year. The rent is £4,500 per annum, in addition to an initial lump sum payment of £20,000.
Would the right hon. Gentleman state if that sum includes rates and taxes?
If the hon. and gallant Member will give me notice I will inquire.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having another possible break in the lease, as unfortunately it was necessary in 1927 to break the lease of our premises in Moscow?
We are much more sensible than they were in 1927.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he explained to the Russian Soviet Ambassador, prior to his signing, the pledge with regard to propaganda under paragraph 7 of the Protocol of the 3rd October, 1929, that such pledge was understood by the British Government and Parliament to be applicable to the propagandist activities of the Comintern as explained by him to the House of Commons on the 18th November, 1929?
The conditions under which diplomatic relations were resumed, in accordance with the terms of the Protocol of the 3rd of October, were fully explained in my speech of the 5th of November, 1929. No further explanation was, therefore, required.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he informed the House in November last, when the Protocol was under consideration, that the pledge about to be given by the Soviet Ambassador as to propaganda, would include the activities of the Comintern? Does he not think that the House was misled on that occasion if that pledge did not include the activities of the Comintern?
I cannot admit that the house was misled for a single moment. I do not depart from the statement that I have made.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has made any representations to the Soviet Government similar to those officially announced to have been made by the French Government, protesting against the allegation officially advanced in the 10-day defence programme that the British Government have been involved with the French Government and a group of Russian professors in a plot for the invasion of the United States of Soviet Russia.?
A very long report in Russian of depositions made in the course of proceedings against certain engineers and others in Moscow has just been received, and is now being examined. If the right hon. Gentleman will put down a question for this day week, I hope to be able to inform him what action, if any, I propose to take.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any claims by British firms or companies arising from the compulsory acquisition of their property by the Russian Soviet Government have yet been considered by the Joint Anglo-Soviet Committee appointed to deal with such claims; whether any of the claimants have been called upon to give evidence; and whether the Soviet Government have agreed in principle to pay compensation in respect of any claims found by the committee to be genuine?
As I have already informed the House, all questions concerning Anglo-Soviet debts and claims are at present under discussion by the committee to which the bon. Member refers. I am not in a position to make any further statement on the subject.
Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the specific question that has been put; whether any claimants have yet been examined? Do the Government intend to let this matter drift, having regard to the millions of British money concerned?
I have nothing to add to what I have already said.
London And Washington Naval Treaties
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any further steps have been taken in relation to the outstanding differences left by the London Naval Treaty?
Certain conversations have recently taken place, but I am not in a position at present to make any statement on the subject.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication when he will be able to make a. statement?
I am afraid not. These conferences began as long ago as last May and were reopened in September. They have recently been reopened again. How long they will continue or what progress will be made I am not at the moment in a position to say.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any information as to the intentions of the French Government with regard to its availing itself of the replacement tonnage of capital ships permissible under the Washington Agreement?
The answer is in the negative.
Has the First Lord's attention been called to notices which have appeared in the Press in connection with this matter?
I am aware of what has appeared in the Press,
asked the First lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware of any naval construction now being undertaken by foreign Powers which will place Great Britain at a disadvantage on the expiry of the Washington and London Naval Treaties; and what steps he proposes to take to protect British interests?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The second part of the question, therefore, does not arise.
Does that mean in the opinion of the Sea Lords also?
It means exactly what I have said.
Murder Of British Missionaries
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any communication from the Chinese National Government as to the capture of the persons guilty of the murder of the two missionaries, Misses Nettleton and Harrison; and what further steps are being taken to protect British subjects in China?
Since my reply to the hon. Members for East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall) and Kidderminster (Mr. Wardlaw-Milne) on the 3rd of November, His Majesty's Minister in China has received a further Note from the Minister for Foreign Affairs expressing on behalf of the Chinese Government their profound grief, and stating that they had telegraphed instructions to the Provincial Government to apprehend and bring to justice the guilty parties. Chinese troops have been despatched for this purpose to the -district concerned. His Majesty's Minister recently issued instructions to all consular officers in disturbed dis- tricts in China to give warning in ample time to any British subjects who might be endangered by the activities of brigands and bandits.
Is it true that since this unfortunate occurrence missionaries belonging to other countries have been captured?
I cannot say whether there is any definite information to that effect.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on any recent changes in the conditions in China?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply returned to the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) on the 10th of November. The Governor of Manchuria arrived in Nan king on the 12th of November for a personal exchange of views with the heads of the National Government. I have no information of any other development in the situation.
Is it not the case that civil war is gradually coming to an end?
I have already reported that conditions continue to improve.
Five Per Cent Loan, 1913
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received a complaint that the Chinese Government has refused to recognise the yellow bonds of the Chinese Five Per Cent. Loan of 1913, purchased in the open market in London in good faith by British investors; and whether he will make a protest and request the Chinese authorities to honour their obligations?
A complaint of this nature has been received. Representations were made to the Chinese Government who have recently returned an unfavourable reply. I am in communication with the interested British parties, and am considering what further action can usefully be taken.
As a committee has been formed will the right hon. Gentle- man allow representatives of the parties interested to call and see him or the Under-Secretary on this matter?
I will arrange for them to see the proper representative at my office, along with the Under-Secretary of State. I have to devote a lot of time to other conferences.
League Of Nations
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals are being made at Geneva on behalf of the Government for derogations from the draft Disarmament Convention?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 12th of November.
In view of the reports which have appeared in the Press, may I ask whether it is the ease that the representative of the Government on the Preparatory Commission has proposed a derogation of the draft Convention allowing the Government to increase forthwith beyond the Convention in case of rebellion within the Empire?
I have already stated to the House, and I think the House generally has accepted the position, that when the present session of the Preparatory Commission terminates I will publish a full statement indicating the line our representative has taken; and I understand that the House accepted that position.
Are we to have reports of these amendments appearing in the Press without the House being informed about them?
The hon. Member has been sufficiently long in this House to know that he may expect anything from the Press.
asked the Minister of Labour if, and when, it is intended to give effect to the recommendations made on 10th June, 1930, by the Inter- national Labour Conference of the League of Nations on the hours of work in commerce and offices?
This along with the other decisions of the fourteenth Session of the International Labour Conference, are under consideration at the present time.
Can this matter be considered in the Bill which was presented yesterday by the Minister of Labour, and the Clauses extended to cover commerce and offices?
I do not think so, but I have said to the hon. Gentleman that the Government proposals will be laid before the House by means of a White Paper.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of retired naval officers who last year received as pensions a total sum of £2,474,542?
The average number of officers in receipt of retired pay throughout the financial year 1929 was 7,980.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is prepared to specify a minimum strength for the British Navy below which it will not be allowed to fall in any circumstances?
The British Navy will be maintained at a strength which, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, will provide adequate security and enable this country to fulfil its commitments. It must be obvious to the hon. and gallant Member that it is quite impossible to specify the minimum strength which may be required in the future.
Ex-Fleet Reserve Men (Bonus)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if ex-Fleet Reserve men are allowed to count the time served with the Fleet Reserve for bonus when employed in His Majesty's dockyards as unestablished men?
The reply is in the negative.
Will the First Lord say why there should be this differential treatment in the case of these Reserve men as compared with other men in the dockyards?
I am not aware that there is any differential treatment at all. The suggestion of the hon. Member in his question is so wide that it would affect all State services, not only those in the dockyards.
Would the First Lord consider a shorter period of service counting for establishment?
No. I do not think that would be at all wise.
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter in view of the fact that these men are penalised as compared with other naval men?
I am not aware that they are penalised at all. The hon. Member raises a much wider issue affecting State services generally.
Compensation Claim (George L Morgan)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty on what grounds it has been decided that George Lemuel Morgan, of 94, Skinner Street, Chatham, is ineligible for compensation for disability due to the contraction of tuberculosis whilst working in Chatham Dockyard?
This man accepted the Government Scheme of Compensation framed under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and his claim to compensation was a matter for consideration by the Treasury in whom is vested the administration of the scheme. On the evidence submitted the Treasury were unable to regard the pulmonary tuberculosis in respect of which his claim arose as a result of personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment or of an industrial disease scheduled under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and were therefore unable to award compensation to him.
Does not the First Lord think that this is a clear case for an ex gratia payment on humanitarian lines?
That matter does not rest at all with me or my Department. The question ought to be addressed to the Treasury.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty who is responsible for the care of the graves of naval ratings buried in the North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar; and if he will give instructions for the graves and wooden crosses to be put into a proper condition and properly maintained, with a wooden cross to each grave giving particulars of the rating buried there?
No reports have been received that these graves are not in a satisfactory condition, but I will make inquiries into the matter and let the hon. and gallant Member know the result.
Engine-Room Artificers (Recruiting Expenses)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the total cost of advertising in the Press during the past three years for men to join the Royal Navy as engine-room artificers; the cost incurred for applicants' travelling and maintenance during. examination tests: the numbers failing to pass; and the expenses incurred in such cases?
As the reply is rather long I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the 0FFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the reply:
The cost of advertising in the Press for engine-room artificers cannot be stated; advertisements arc rarely inserted for engine-room artificers alone, but for all ratings for which vacancies exist.
The numbers failing to pass during the past three years are:
The cost of applicants' travelling and maintenance during examination tests is approximately as follows:
|—||Accepted Applicants.||Rejected Applicants.|
|Travelling.||Maintenance including pay.||Travelling.||Maintenance only.|
Pixsions (Reserve Men)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will consider the possibility of granting the Greenwich Hospital pension of 5d. per day to all Naval Reserve men at the age of 05 years with from 15 to 3i years' service who have received the long-service and good conduct medals?
Greenwich Hospital pensions are part of the benefits of Greenwich Hospital, which, in regard to the age pension of 5d. a day, are restricted by Order in Council to pensioners from the active service who are in receipt of naval pensions for life. In these circumstances I regret that Naval Reserve men are not eligible.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that Naval Reserve men who served during the Great War in mine-sweepers and merchant ships, pensioned since 1923, only receive £12 per annum instead of £18 as granted to the older men; and will he take any steps to help these men?
The pension to which my hon. Friend refers is a deferred pension at the rate of £12 a year formerly granted to ex-members of the Royal Naval Reserve. It was susceptible of increase to £18 a year, under the provisions of Orders-in-Council which extended to Navy and Reserve pensioners benefits similar to those laid down in the Pensions (Increase) Acts, but these benefits do not apply to such pensions awarded after the 13th August, 1920. The particular type of pension is -now obsolete hut a certain number of awards at the rate of £12 a year have been made since August, 1920, and it is regretted that for the reason stated they are not susceptible of increase to £18.
Jamaica (Juvenile And Women Offenders)
21 and 23.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, (1) how many paid probation officers there are in Jamaica;(2) how many women prisoners there are in Kingston penitentiary and what facilities are provided for the classification of these prisoners?
The number of women prisoners in the general penitentiary at 31st December, 1929, was 73. Full details as to classification, etc., in the gaols and prisons are given in Section 24 of the Jamaica Blue Book for 1929, a copy of which I will have sent to the hon. and gallant Member. The report on Probation Work for the year does not give the exact number of probation officers, paid or otherwise, but alludes to "a large staff" which is under the direction of two capable officers. Provision is made in the Colony's Estimates for the current year for £768 to cover allowances for probation work throughout the parishes of the Colony.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will take immediate steps to establish separate children's courts at Kingston and in other centres in Jamaica?
The law of Jamaica allows a discretion to a Resident Magistrate or the presiding Justices to order that the case against any child shall he heard in camera. Early this year the Secretary of State appointed a Committee to consider the arrangements in force in the Dependencies under the control of the Colonial Office in connection with the trial and punishment of young offenders, and the recommendations made by the Committee were discussed at the Colonial Office Conference in the summer and communicated to the Colonial Governments in September. Among the recommendations is a model draft law which deals fully with, inter alia, the establishment of juvenile courts, and the Government of Jamaica amongst other dependencies has been asked to consider the introduction of legislation on the lines of the model.
Gold Coast (Imports Of Spirits)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of gallons of spirits that were imported into the Gold Coast for the six months ended to the last convenient date; and can he give comparable figures for the same period in 1920?
The number of gallons of spirits imported into the Gold Coast for the six months ended September last was 190,354. For the corresponding period of 1920 the figure was 105,900 gallons.
Iraq (Treatment Of Christians)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House any recent information regarding the treatment of Christians in Iraq?
Yes, Sir. There is no reason to suppose that the various Christian communities in Iraq are not receiving sympathetic and equitable treatment from the Iraq Government. I am aware that allegations to the contrary have recently appeared. Inquiry was made of the High Commissioner who was in England and of the officer acting for him, and as a result my Noble Friend is satisfied that the charges made against the Government of Iraq were not well founded.
Are we to understand that the treatment of the Assyrian Christians is now satisfactory?
I have read all the reports and papers on this subject, and I am satisfied that what is stated in my reply gives a very fair and reasonable account of the position, but I would be very glad if the hon. Member would communicate to me any instances of alleged ill-treatment that have come to his notice, so that I can have inquiry made.
Nyasaland (Zambesi Bridge)
asked the Under-Secretary of Slate for the Colonies whether the Nyasaland authorities will have any control of the rates for traffic passing over the Zambesi bridge; and, if not, who will fix or control the rates?
I would refer the hon. Member to Clause 1 of the Agreement with the Central Africa and Shire Highlands Railway Companies, a copy of which has been placed in the Library, as it would be difficult to explain the exact extent of the control without a long quotation.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the control of the rates over the Zambesi bridge will either hamper or assist the economic development of Nyasaland, and will he see that such control is provided in the articles of association of the company that Nyasaland will not be injured?
Those considerations have already been before us for a considerable time, and any decisions that have been reached have been reached with those considerations hi mind.
When is it expected that the bridge will be finished?
North And South Rhodesia (Amalgamation)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the observations of the Governor of Northern Rhodesia have now been received in respect of the telegram sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 30th September last by the unofficial members of the legislative council of Northern Rhodesia, on the subject of the amalgamation of the two Rhodesias; if so, whether he will inform the House of the purport of those observations; and whether a reply has now been sent, or is about to be sent, to the unofficial members, and in what terms?
I would refer the hon. Member to the report of my speech on the Motion for Adjournment last night.
Is it intended to publish these observations, and will the hon. Gentleman recollect that last night he quoted a document which he promised to lay on the Table?
Since the Noble Lord asks me, I will certainly do that.
I claimed the right that the document from which he quoted should be published.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Government is aware that Harry Thuku has now been exiled from his tribe and district in Kenya Colony for more than 8?I years without trial; arid what the result, if any, has been of the Secretary of State's reference to the Kenya Government on this subject?
My Noble Friend understands that it was the wish of the Governor of Kenya, who recently left the colony on leave pending the expiration of his term of office, that Harry Thuku should be permitted to return to the Kikuyu Reserve in the near future; but he was unable before leaving Kenya to make any official recommendation in the matter. The new Governor of Kenya will be requested to report on the question as soon as he can do so after assuming office.
Now that this interesting figure has reappeared in Parliament will the Under-Secretary state the exact nature of Mr. Thuku's crime?
West Indies (Sugar Industry)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received from the Governors of the West Indies and British Guiana the reports on the economic position for which he telegraphed specially in the middle of September; if not, will he hasten the production of these reports; and, if he has received them, will he state what is their substance and when will they be published?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I returned to the question of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson) on the 17th of November, to which at present I can add nothing.
Ceylon (Income Tax)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the new Income Tax Bill which is to be introduced in the Ceylon Legislature imposes considerable penalties on companies registered in Great Britain; and whether he will receive a deputation on the subject?
Representations have been received regarding certain provisions of the Ceylon Income Tax Bill which affect the profits of non-resident shipowners and charterers. Those representations have been communicated to the Governor of Ceylon, and pending the receipt of his reply I do not think that there would be any advantage in my receiving a deputation on the subject; but I will communicate to the Governor any detailed criticisms which the Noble Lord may wish to furnish to me.
Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to receive a deputation before the Bill reaches its final stages?
Yes, certainly; later on I shall be glad to do so.
Is it not the case that the Colonial Secretary of Ceylon stated that the Governor will instruct the official members of the Legislative Council Lo vote for the Income Tax Bill, and that but for this action the Bill would not pass?
I am not aware of that fact.
Hong Kong (Mui-Tsai System)
asked the Tinder-Secretary of State for the Colonies, if, in view of the great interest in the report of the Governor of Hong Kong, dated 25th June, 1930, on the working of the mui-tsai regulations, he will arrange for this report to be issued as a White Paper?
Yes, Sir. We shall be glad to have this report printed and published.
Royal Air Force
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will say whether there is any regulation, and, if so, its terms, which lays down the procedure to be adopted in the case of men found to be unsuitable or incompetent after entering the service; and whether it applies to mechanics and other engineering units?
I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. The regulation in question is paragraph 504 of the King's Regulations and Air Council Instructions for the Royal Air Force. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the paragraph in question, and he will see that it lays down the procedure to be followed in the eases which he has in mind. It applies to airmen of all trade classifications.
Airship R101 (Crew's Dependants)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will consider making a deduction in the rents of the Ministry's houses at Cardington for the dependants of those lost in the disaster to the R101?
I have been asked to reply. Less than one-third of the dependants reside in Air Ministry houses. My noble Friend regrets, therefore, that he cannot agree to the adoption of the hon. Member's suggestion, the effect of which would he to pay compensation on a more liberal scale for some dependants than for others.
May I ask that this matter he reconsidered in view of the fact that many of these houses are let at 15s. a week rent, that there is a shortage of houses in the district, and that the pensions are only 20s. to 30s. in many cases?
I can communicate that request to my right hon. Friend, but he has already examined the whole situation from every point of view.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether Mr. Rudd, the father and dependant of E. G. Rudd, rigger, who lost his life in the R101, has been discharged from the airship works at Cardington; and why he was among the first to receive notice of discharge?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the last part does not, therefore, arise.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air why the pensions granted to the dependants of those who were lost in R101 are not yet being paid; whether he is aware that the Air Ministry is demanding payment of current rents, from those dependants who are living in houses belonging to the Air Ministry; and will he expedite the payment of the pensions and ensure that the rents are not demanded until the pensions are actually being paid?
The pensions granted to the dependants of those who were lost in the R101 cannot be paid until certain necessary formalities have been completed, but such of the dependants as were in immediate need of money have been granted advances to enable them to meet their needs, including accruing rent. It has been made clear to all the widows that, if they so desire, advances of pension up to the limit of their entitlement will be issued to them pending the completion of the formalities.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if the pensions of those who lost their lives on the R101 are calculated on the scale of pensions granted to the relatives of men in the Navy and Army killed in action or on a special scale?
The relatives of Royal Air Force personnel who lost their lives on the R101 have been granted pensions calculated on a scale, applicable to the case of death in action, which is common to the Navy, Army and Air Force. With regard to grants to the relatives of the civilians who lost their lives in the disaster, T would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) 6th November; but the brief answer is that they are likewise on the most beneficial scale permissible under the standing authorities.
Is my hon. Friend aware that a number of anomalies and injustices exist in regard to these pensions; and will he ask the Secretary of State for Air to inquire into the matter himself as soon as possible?
Personnel And Cost
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will give particulars as to the number of the personnel of the Royal Air Force for the years 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1929–30, and 1930–31, respectively, and the annual cost. of the service for the same periods?
The numbers of personnel in the Royal Air Force paid for out of Air Votes are set out in a table which, with my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am not sure what my hon. Friend means by the annual cost of the service. If he will be so good as to communicate with the Under-Secretary of State for Air, he will endeavour to supply the figures required.
Following is the trade:
|Number of Personnel (exclusive of those serving in India).|
* Average for the year.
|† Estimated maximum allowed to be borne at any period of the year.|
|‡ On 29th January, 1930, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Colchester, a figure of 30,670 was given as the number of the Royal Air Force in July, 1929. This figure, however, included the R.A.F. in India.|
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if parachutes are now issued as standard equipment to the crews of sea-planes, flying-boats,. and fleet air-arm land aircraft?
Parachutes have now either been issued, or are on order, for all sea-going aircraft, except for one type which is obsolescent.
Airship R100 (Atlantic Voyage)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that no written appreciation or certificate of any kind has been issued to the officers and crew of R100 who successfully carried out the voyage across the Atlantic; and if he will consider issuing a fascimile of the oral message of thanks delivered by the late Secretary of State for Air?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to him by the Under-Secretary of State for Air on I1th November, to which I have nothing to add, except that the message of thanks delivered by the late Secretary of State for Air to the officers and crew of R100 on their return from Canada last August was reproduced in the. Press at the time.
Will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the fact that many precedents exist for giving some appreciation of this unique feat; and, further, is he aware that the very meagre appreciation referred to was not a written message, but merely an oral message delivered by the Secretary of State for Air and that, if it were put on paper, the men could carry it with them into civil life?
I will convey the hon. Member's suggestion to my right hon. Friend, but I would point out to him that this crossing was not unique. There had been other crossings prior to this by other kinds of aircraft.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when the Air Ministry are likely to be able to make an announcement on any change of procedure of the conditions governing the grant of certificates of airworthiness for civil aircraft?
A committee has recently been set up to inquire into certain difficulties experienced by British aircraft constructors in connection with the certification of aircraft for airworthiness, but my Noble Friend is not in a position to give a date for the production of a report by the committee.
If I put this question down in a week's time, will the hon. Gentleman be able to answer then?
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when the Air Ministry are likely to be able to make an announcement on any change of procedure of present methods of investigating and reporting the findings into Royal Air Force and civil air accidents?
No, Sir, I regret that I can add nothing at present to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald) on 12th November.
Road Surfaces (Experiments)
asked the Minister of Transport whether he can give any information to the House in connection with experiments recently conducted on the resistance to skidding exerted by various road surfaces?
The trial sections to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member's question on 18th June last have since been laid along the course of the Kingston by-pass in Surrey, and the nonskid qualities of the various materials are now being tested. These trials will, however, have to proceed for a long period under varying weather conditions before reliable deductions can be drawn.
Police Motor-Cycle Service
asked the Minister of Transport whether he can give any information about the proposed regulations with regard to the formation of a new motor-cycle department of the police service under the Road Traffic Act?
Arrangements are in train for the organisation of these units in the various police forces with a view to the better control of road traffic and the proper enforcement of the provisions of the Road Traffic Act. No regulations under the Act are required in connection with these special units.
When will the part of the Act dealing with this force come into operation?
It will be substantially in operation—perhaps not completely—by the beginning of next year, but the responsibility in that matter, as far as the Government are concerned, rests with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
Approximately, how many people will be involved?
Probably the number of motor units will he in the neigh bourhood of 1,000 for the whole country.
Will the Road Fund contribute towards the cost?
Yes, in accordance with the Act, there will be an annual contribution, not towards the police fund as such, but towards the motor vehicles, out of the Road Fund.
Will this force be recruited from the existing police force or will there be any special enlistment?
I think that that is a matter for the local authorities, but I understand that, in the main, they will be recruited from the existing force.
Will the machines be British made?
I should assume so, but that is a question for the Home Secretary.
Will these police on motor cycles be in uniform?
I understand that in any case nobody can be stopped upon the road unless by a policeman in uniform. Perhaps the hon. Member will consult the Act to verify that, but I think it is so.
Motor Licences (Reminders)
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will issue instructions that those licensing authorities which are accustomed to issue reminders to drivers that their licences have expired shall be entitled to continue this practice under the new Road Traffic Act regulations?
I am satisfied that it is necessary that there should be uniformity of practice in this matter, as difficulties have arisen in cases where a person has moved from an area in which reminders are issued to another in which they are not. After careful consideration I have reached the conclusion that the expense entailed by the adoption universally of the practice of issuing reminders would not be justified. It would be necessary for all licensing authorities to maintain special card indexes for the purpose and in the aggregate to address and send through the post between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 forms. I have therefore notified licensing authorities that as from 1st December the cost of issuing these reminders cannot be accepted as a charge against the Road Fund.
Is it not the fact that the licensing authorities which adopt this practice do so now in the interests of economy; and cannot the Department adopt the business principle that courtesy and consideration for the convenience of customers will in the long run lead to efficiency?
I do not think that the licensing authorities do it in the interests of economy. It may be so, in one or two cases, but I think it just an instance of the normal desire of the official machine to be very courteous to everybody. That is probably the reason, but I really cannot see that the step is justified. Licences are carried by drivers. The driver always has his licence with him, and one has a right to assume that people who have the responsibility of driving cars are aware of their obligations in this respect.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many people completely support him in this sensible action in the interests of economy? Why should people have to be reminded of these obligations?
I am very much obliged to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the dangerous state of the main road from Woolwich to Bexley, known as Wickham Hill, which is still without a footpath on its most dangerous bend; and if, in view of recurring damage to tramcars and other vehicles, he will order a local inquiry?
My attention has not been called to the condition of this road. I am, however, informed that there is a footpath on one side of the road throughout its length and that a footpath on the other side is being provided as the frontages are developed. I do not consider that a local inquiry is necessary, but I will bring my hon. Friend's question to the attention of the responsible highway authority.
Motor Traffic (Learners)
asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to an inquest held in the coroner's court at Hammersmith, on Saturday, 15th November, on a fatal accident to a man of 81 years of age, who was knocked down and killed in Chelsea by a woman learning to drive a motor car; and if he will consider the advisability of securing the construction of driving parkways in the neighbourhood of large towns where people can learn to drive without being a danger to the public?
My attention has not been drawn to the particular accident referred to by the hon. Member. As regards the second part of the question, I do not think that, apart from other considerations, the expense of providing special roads for the use of persons learning to drive motor vehicles would be justified.
Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that this murder in the streets by incompetent drivers has gone on long enough?
asked the First Commissioner of Works whether, in view of the increasing number of fatal accidents caused by people learning to drive motor cars in the streets, he will consider allocating a certain portion of the parks where people could learn to drive without being a danger to the public?
Having regard to the interests of other users of the Royal parks, I do not consider that it would be desirable to set apart any of the roads in these parks for this purpose.
Now that the horse is not as popular as it was before the War, could not a part of the roads be adapted for the purpose?
No. I am sure I should be very sorry indeed that the user of the roads should be changed in that fashion. It is rather nice to see horses there.
Is it not the case that the horses belong to the rich people?
Railway Passenger Accommodation (Fish Workers)
asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the dangerous conditions of overcrowding in which women and other fish-workers returning from Yarmouth and Lowestoft to Scotland have in former years been compelled to travel, he will take steps, either by representation to the railway authorities or otherwise, to see that adequate railway-carriage accommodation is provided at the approaching termination of the East Anglian fishing season?
I will bring the hon. and gallant Member's representations to the notice of the railway companies concerned.
London Omnibuses (Standing Passengers)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the breaking of regulations concerning standing passengers in omnibuses; and how many prosecutions for this offence in the Metropolitan Police area have taken place during the last 12 months?
As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, it is the considered policy to allow some latitude in the matter of standing passengers during the rush hours, provided the number of standing passengers does not exceed five. Where this number is exceeded or standing passengers are carried at other times of day, action is taken by the police and in the 12 months ended 31st October last proceedings were instituted in 110 cases. In addition proceedings were instituted against conductors of motor coaches in 70 eases.
Will the Home Secretary try to see that better omnibuses are allowed to ply for hire along those overcrowded routes in the future, so as to prevent straphanging?
Insurance Fund (Royal Commission)
asked the Prime Minister when he will be in a position to announce the names of the members of the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply as he is unable to be present himself. It is not yet possible to say precisely when this announcement will be made but there will be no avoidable delay.
Will the right hon. Lady give the House some indication as to when this Commission will be appointed, as this is a very important matter?
I would ask the hon. Member to await the further announcement.
Road Schemes, London
asked the Minister of Transport how many London men were employed on arterial roads receiving financial assistance from the London County Council and from the Government at the last available date, and on the same date in 1929, 1928, and 1927, respectively?
I assume that the hon. Member refers to the programme of works on arterial roads arranged for in the year 1923–24 and carried out under the direct supervision of my Department, towards the cost of which the London County Council made a contribution on condition that a pro- portion of the labour employed should be recruited from the London Employment Exchanges. The programme of works referred to, estimated to cost £3,000,000, is now practically completed and the number of men so recruited who were in employment on 31st October, 1930, was 42. On the corresponding date in 1929, 1928 and 1927, the respective numbers were 141,272 and 664. I would add that other schemes have been carried out under the direct supervision of the Ministry towards the cost of which the London County Council have contributed, but without the condition regarding recruitment through London Exchanges, and in these cases information is not available in the Department as to the number of London men employed on the works.
Is it proposed to initiate any new schemes on similar lines to meet the special conditions of unemployment this winter, or is this to be allowed to lapse?
I am not sure that schemes could be submitted on exactly similar lines, because a great deal of this work has now been completed. We are in negotiation with the London County Council as to a considerable programme of public improvements which I am anxious to get carried forward at the earliest possible date.
asked the First Com- missioner of Works if, before approving the plans for the new Employment Ex- change in Bristol, he will satisfy himself that adequate and suitable conveniences for both sexes are provided?
For reasons Which have been given in this House, it is the policy of my Department or of Ministry of Labour to provide conveniences for applicants attending Employment Exchanges. The plans for the Bristol Exchange have been discussed with the local employment committee, and arrangements have been made to meet cases of emergency.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether the local Employment Exchange committee are fully satisfied with the plans?
I should not like to say that anybody is satisfied with anything, but, so far as it is possible to satisfy them, I think they are.
Is my right bon. Friend aware that in Berlin and in other large Continental cities there is provision of this sort?
asked the Minister of Labour the estimated number of men employed on works of improvement and new construction on classified roads and bridges, excluding those on work of maintenance, repair and reconstruction?
The number is approximately 21,500.
Does that mean that this 21,000, who are employed under the Road Fund, which was not started by the present Government, must be deducted from the total of 72,000 who are said to be directly employed under Government schemes?
Yes, that is so.
Trade And Commerce
Export Credits (Turkey)
56 and 57.
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department (1) if he is prepared to divert credits allocated to certain foreign markets under the Export Credits Scheme, but which have not been exhausted, to the Turkish markets where traders have been refused credit insurance facilities;(2)if the full amount of credit allocated under the Export Credits eme for Turkey has been exhausted; and, if so, whether, seeing that there is business to be done in that country, providing employment for operatives in the woollen industry of the West Riding of Yorkshire if credit insurance is provided, he will make a further allocation of credit for Turkey?
The Advisory Committee to the Export Credits Guarantee Department will be glad to consider on their merits any proposals regarding exports to Turkey.
Does the hon. Gentleman not consider that, in the difficult times through which we are passing, along with business men all over the country, the Department might be prepared to take greater risks than normally of making bad debts, in order to win trade in foreign markets and provide employment, whereas restriction of insurance facilities would throw many people out of employment?
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he will ascertain and state what measures are being taken by the Chinese Government against Soviet dumping at Shanghai; and whether he will make inquiries of the British representative there as to what extent, if any, British trade in the Far East is being thereby affected?
No information regarding the steps taken by the Chinese Government against Soviet dumping at Shanghai has been received. The Commercial Counsellor at Shanghai has been requested to forward a report on the subject.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make inquiries as to what steps are being taken in the United States of America to place an embargo on Russian manganese, coal, timber, wood pulp, glue, and wheat; and will His Majesty's Government consider the advisability of taking similar steps?
I understand that the only action of this kind taken in the United States was the placing of an embargo on the importation of Russian timber and Russian pulp wood. In each case the prohibition was removed after a few days. The second part of the question does not, therefore, arise.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will ascertain and state whether cargoes of Soviet wheat have been refused in Sweden and what measures the Swedish Government has taken to stop the import of Soviet timber; and will he consider taking similar measures in this country?
I have no information on the subject, but I have no doubt that, if any action of the kind suggested in the question had been taken, His Majesty's Minister would have reported the matter. The second part of the question does not arise.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say why the second part of the question does not arise?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government at the next meeting of the League of Nations to call attention to Soviet dumping in Europe?
I fear I can only refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 3rd November to the similar question asked by the hon. And gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), which indicates the attitude of His Majesty's Government to the League's activities in these matters.
Would it not strengthen the hands of the Government if they took action before they went to Geneva?
Yes, Sir, but it all depends on what the action is. Quite plainly, all the questions refer to prohibition, tariffs or licences, and I have indicated that, in our view, they would aggravate rather than cure the disease.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Belgian Government is taking effective measures to fight against Soviet dumping in industry and agriculture; and will he consider the advisability of taking similar steps in this country?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which was given to a question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) on 4th November, of which I am sending him a copy.
Office, Londonderry (Counter Duties)
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that at the general post office, Londonderry, one counter clerk is expected to take in parcels, sell postage stamps, sell insurance stamps, accept documents for stamping, and sort and deliver private box and callers' letters; and, seeing that for one clerk to exercise these functions involves undue fatigue to him and delay to customers of the post office, will he take steps to remedy this state of affairs?
I am having inquiry made into the matter and will communicate with the hon. Member.
Is the hon. Member aware that the recent reductions in the Post Office have been condemned by the Chamber of Commerce, the local newspapers, and the representatives of the Post Office workers?
I will see that the points raised by the hon. Member are taken into consideration when the reply to the original question is prepared.
asked the Postmaster-General the number of letters addressed to the organizers of the Irish sweepstake on the Manchester November Handicap which were opened by the Post Office and the total amount of money which was returned to the senders?
9,031 letters addressed to the organisers of the sweepstake in question have been opened by the Post Office. The total amount of money returned to the senders is approximately £6,960.
Telephone Cables, Northern Ireland (Contracts)
asked the Postmaster-General whether the contracts for the extensions of telephone cables now being carried out between Belfast, Newtownards, Bangor, and adjoining places were put up to public competition; and what steps were taken to bring the matter to the notice of possible tenderers?
The contracts in question, which were for the laying of earthenware ducts, were put out to com- petitive tender among firms selected from the Department's list of eligible contractors.
Dyestuffs (Import Regula- Tion) Act, 1920
asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the position of the Government in regard to the expiry of the Dyestuffs Act, now imminent?
Yes, Sir. The Government have given full and careful consideration to the position in respect of the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920, in the light of the Report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee.The Act provided for the safeguarding of the dye-making industry by a system of prohibition subject to licensing, and it was expressly provided in Section 5 of the Act that it should continue in force for a period of 10 years and no longer. That clearly indicated the opinion of the framers of the Act that a period of 10 years should be sufficient to enable the, industry to become firmly established and thereafter to meet international competition unaided. The comprehensive Report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee shows that the industry has now reached a stage at which it is capable of meeting a very large proportion of the requirements of dyestuff users in the United Kingdom and of carrying on an increasing export trade, and the manufacturers have indicated their ability to meet normal foreign competition in respect of prices. It appears then that the object of the Act has been attained. The Government have also had under consideration representations from all the interests affected, including the users of dyestuffs and the organisations of employers and operatives in the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire. These using industries have represented that the burden of developing the dyestuffs industry during the period of the Act has fallen mainly upon them, and that there is in present circumstances no justification for the continuance of the Act beyond the period originally contemplated. The Government have decided that the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act shall be allowed to lapse at the appointed date, that is, on the 15th January next.
Is it not a fact that the makers of dye in this country are prepared to give an undertaking that, if the Act is continued, there shall be the free entry of any dye which cannot be manufactured in this country of an equal excellence and at an equal price to the foreign dyes, and, if that is so, how can any dye user in this country possibly be prejudiced by the continuance of the Act?
It is quite true that they have made representations in that sense, but there is, of course, controversy even on that point among the users. I dare not go into details in reply to a supplementary question, but I can, of course, if hon. Members opposite exercise their opportunity on the Adjournment or in any other way, give much fuller details.
The information which the right hon. Gentleman has given is of no use at all. This matter is of very vital importance. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is controversy, and, of course, the whole House will expect a much fuller statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]—than is possible in answer to a Parliamentary question. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman formally if the Government will give time at an early date for a full discussion on this subject in such a manner that the voice of the House may be ascertained?
The point was raised by my right hon. Friend on the last occasion. I said then that I could not give any pledge regarding Government time, having regard to the nature of Business, but I said that there were other opportunities. It may be that the Adjournment is not very suitable, but I see no reason why on a private Member's Motion—[Interruption]—this matter should not be discussed.
I can only observe at this point that, if we are not met, it is always open to us to put it down in the form of a Vote of Censure.
Coal Mines Act
asked the Secretary for Mines whether the national industrial council under the Coal Mines Act, 1930, has yet been constituted; and if he will give the names of the members of the council?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Rosbotham).
Is the Minister aware that he did not reply to the second part of my question yesterday? All he said was that he hoped to be in a position to set up the council this week; will he answer the second part of the question whether he can give the names or not?
I think perhaps that my hon. Friend had better wait the announcement, which will come very shortly.
Can the Minister tell us when he will be in a position to give the names that constitute the council?
Before the end of this week.
Have the coal-owners agreed to carry out any part of this Act?
My hon. Friend had better wait and see.
asked the Secretary for Mines if he will issue a White Paper giving the various schemes set up in the different coalfields under the Coal Mines Act, 1930?
The Central Scheme and District Scheme's made under Part I. of the Coal Mines Act, 1930, have been published by the Stationery Office. I will arrange for two or three sets of the Schemes to be placed in the Library.
asked the Home Secretary the estimated cost of keeping a record of the number of animals involved on the basis of the 403,141 experiments for purposes of vivisection performed last year?
The cost would depend on the amount of detail required to be collected and tabulated and the degree of completeness to be attained in the collection. Additional clerical assistance would be needed in any case, and the inspectors would have to give a certain amount of the time which is at present available for "inspection."