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Commons Chamber

Volume 245: debated on Thursday 20 November 1930

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 20th November, 1930.

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

Private Business

London and North Eastern Railway Order Confirmation Bill,

Read the Third time, and passed.

Fraserburgh Harbour Order Confirmation Bill [ Lords],

Grampian Electricity Supply Order Confirmation Bill [ Lords],

Considered; to be read the Third time To-morrow.

Oral Answers To Questions

Unemployment

Women

1.

asked the Minister of Labour if she will state the estimated number of women who have been given direct employment by emergency schemes initiated by the present Government?

I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Lanark North (Miss Lee) on 6th November.

Is it quite clear that the claim is made by the Government that women obtained direct employment as a result of schemes initiated by them?

Has anything come of the Committee that was to look into the question of finding employment and training for women over 33?

Employment Exchanges (Accommodation)

2.

asked the Minister of Labour what progress has been made to provide new premises for the Jarrow and Hebburn Employment Exchange?

The site which the Department had in view for the Hebburn and Jarrow Employment Exchange at the beginning of the year proved, upon examination, to be unsatisfactory. Further search is being made and will be continued until a suitable site has been obtained.

11.

asked the Minister of Labour if she is aware of the lack of proper Employment Exchange accommodation at Eston and Marske; and if she will take the necessary steps in order to provide better facilities for those who are unemployed and reside in those districts, and who have to sign the unemployed register from time to time?

I have already explained to my hon. Friend in letters written to him in Au mist, why the circumstances at Eston and Marske do not justify the opening of separate offices. There has been no change in the situation since that time.

Is the Minister not aware that when the unemployment figures in these districts were less than now, better accommodation was provided?

Domestic Service

6.

asked the Minister of Labour if her Department has made any estimates of the vacancies available in private service for domestic servants, and if she will give the number?

Has the Minister considered the enormous number of applications there have been for private domestic servants, and is she going to do something in order to find out how many are required and to arrange for a supply?

The Employment Exchanges are taking up this work very energetically. It is understood, of course, among domestic servants that the great majority of places are places for trained women. We have no means at present of knowing the number of vacancies.

7.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she can say how many women have actually been placed in the last year in domestic service through Employment Exchanges; and if she can show cooks and kitchen-maids separately?

Between 23rd September, 1929, and 6th October, 1930, 81,064 vacancies for women in domestic service were filled by Employment Exchanges in Great Britain. Of these, 38,082 were in resident domestic service and 42,982 in non-resident service. Separate figures for cooks and kitchen-maids are not available.

30.

asked the Minister of Labour what is the number of foreign girls who have been permitted to enter this country and take up domestic situations; and what is the number of women of British nationality qualified for domestic service who are in receipt of unemployment benefit?

As regards the first part of the question the number of permits issued this year up to 31st October was 4,475. I have no statistics enabling me to answer the second part of the question.

Are the same steps taken with regard to girls coming over here, as with regard to the waiters referred to in a previous question, in order that they may be more or less kept out of the country?

We make the most careful investigation as to whether the mistresses requiring this foreign labour would be satisfied with English labour.

Is consideration given to the number of women in this country eligible for domestic service who are being paid the dole; and will the right hon. Lady take steps to keep out as many as possible of these foreign girls?

Is it not the case that if girls do take employment in domestic service they immediately transfer themselves out of insurable employment?

Is it not the ease that domestic service is not an insurable occupation and therefore that the last question of the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich (Sir F. Hall) does not arise; and does not the right hon. Lady agree that women corning under the unemployment insurance scheme must not be shoved out into domestic service, whether they are British or not?

In cases where these girls enter into service, does any supervision of any kind follow them, as to the conditions of service under which they work?

I believe that in the case of Finnish, Swedish, and Danish Girls there are associations in London which take that matter into account.

Transitional Benefit

9.

asked the Minister of Labour what is the liability in the present financial year of the Treasury for the payment of benefit under the transitional benefit arrangements, and what is the present weekly increase in liability?

It is estimated that the cost of transitional benefit, including administration, during the financial year 1930–1931 will be £22,000,000. The weekly increase in liability is at present about £4,000.

I require notice of that question. Broadly speaking, it is between 400,000 and 450,000.

Waiters

10.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the grave state of unemployment and of the number of foreign waiters employed by the large hotels and restaurants in this country, she will consider starting training centres for men of British nationality to become waiters so as to provide entirely British staffs for large restaurants?

In addition to the training afforded in the catering industry itself, the London County Council conduct a school for waiters and there are some other establishments of a similar kind. My Department have arranged specially with the London County Council school for the training of a number of men and the possibility of some further extension of the training of waiters or other catering trade workers is under consideration. As regards the possibility of displacing foreign waiters, it is important to bear in mind that they have for the most part been resident here for many years. New entrants are not admitted to this country except under strict limitations both as to number and period of stay which fully safeguard the position of persons already resident here. Those who are admitted, with very few exceptions, come in either under Agreements for Exchange, or for the admission of student employés for a period not exceeding 12 months.

20.

asked the Minister of Labour how many foreign waiters are in employment in this country; and how many British waiters are out of employment here?

I regret that I have no information as to the number of foreign waiters employed in this country. At 27th October, 1930, there were on the registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain 8,571 applicants of all nationalities classified as waiters. Separate figures for waiters of British nationality are not available. This figure includes barmen, canteen workers and restaurant counter hands.

Does the Minister not have to grant permission to foreign waiters to come here, and how is it that she has not the information asked for?

On a previous question I replied to that point. We do not, as a matter of fact, admit foreigners just now, but, as I have said, a large number of foreigners have been in this country for many years, and they do not come under my Department.

Will the Minister take steps to see that a census is taken next spring of foreign waiters?

Insurance Fund

12.

asked the Minister of Labour whether the figures given by her Department of the weekly amount by which the outgoings of the Unemployment Fund exceed the revenue do, in fact, include proper allowance for interest on the loan; whether the interest is being paid or added to the debt of the fund; and what the weekly deficit of the fund is, allowing for the proper proportion of interest on the debt?

If the hon. arid gallant Member will refer to my reply to him of 6th November, he will see that I stated explicitly that the figure of £606,000 was exclusive of a half-yearly payment of interest on 30th September amounting to £1,066,625. This interest averaged £40,000 a week over the 26 weeks in the half year.

Am I to take it that the figure given by the Minister's Department is inaccurate, and that the interest in added to the debt?

The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken. I said it was as stated in my reply to his question.

Because I understood the hon. and gallant Member to use the word "exclusive." If he had used the word "inclusive," I would have replied.

Government Relief Schemes

17.

asked the Minister of Labour if she will state the average length of time during which the 72,000 persons directly employed under schemes promoted by the Government will continue in such employment?

I am afraid that owing to the variation in the duration of the schemes, no such calculation is possible.

Roads And Bridges Schemes

19.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons included in the estimates of persons employed under schemes initiated by the present Government who are engaged on works of improvement and new construction on classified roads and bridges?

I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare).

Do I understand that the Government are claiming with respect to persons who have been put on road work? Is that supposed to have been initiated by the present Government?

Devon

22.

asked the Minister of Labour if she will, as an experiment, place such sums as would be involved, assuming the present payments of unemployment pay continue for six months, at the disposal of the local authorities in Devon and enable those authorities to execute needful work instead of, as now, making payments with no resultant work being done?

Cannot the Minister take the necessary powers? They would be very valuable.

Special legislation of a very fundamental character would be required.

Transferred Workers

23.

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken in connection with transferred workers to ascertain that they continue to be employed as the result of their transference?

Workpeople are transferred only if there is employment for them. If that employment comes to an end, they are advised to call at the Employment Exchange and, so far as is practicable, they are assisted to find other employment.

Insured Persons (Birth Certificates)

24.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she is aware that managers of Employment Exchanges are in the habit of demanding birth certificates from insured persons; if she vii say who meets the expense; and whether more than one certificate is demanded?

The Department do not insist on production of evidence of age unless this is necessary in connection with a claim to benefit or some point of doubt with regard to contributions; but as such evidence when once supplied is noted in the records and is not normally required again from the insured person, it is obviously convenient and it should be given on entry into insurance or other early date, thus avoiding the possibility of delay in dealing with a claim made by him later on. It is, therefore, the practice to ask for a birth certificate on entry into insurance. The other occasion on which a birth certificate is commonly asked for is when the claimant is apparently approaching the age of 65 and has not previously supplied evidence of age. The cost of a birth certificate for this purpose is 6d., and is borne by the insured persons.

Cannot the right hon. Lady take steps to see that where the applicant is a poor person the cost is borne by the Employment Exchange?

I very much doubt whether I can do anything in that matter. It is a matter which affects not only my own Department, but other insurance as well.

Dock Labourers, Liverpool

25.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she is aware of the inconvenience caused to dock labourers at the Liverpool docks having to report morning and afternoon each working day, when unemployed, at the various clearing houses; that many of the men, particularly those from the new housing areas (the omnibus fare from which is 3d.), have to remain in the vicinity of the docks (after being unable to obtain work on the 8 a.m. stand, and knowing there is no prospect of work at 1 p.m.) for no other reason than to report their unemployment in the afternoon; and whether she will make regulations to make it sufficient for an unemployed docker to report after the 8 a.m. stand only?

Inquiries show that engagements do in fact take place at both the morning and the afternoon calls and, in order to secure employment, it is necessary for these men to attend at one or other of the call places on both occasions; therefore, there is no special inconvenience in their having to attend a clearing house to sign the unemployed register if not engaged. Under the present system, therefore, my hon. Friend's suggestion cannot be adopted.

Is it not a fact that these conditions do not only apply to Liverpool, but to every other port; and is the right hon. Lady aware of the fact that shipyard workers, whose employment is equally casual, have only to sign on twice a week, instead of twice a day?

Is the right hon. Lady aware that these conditions exist in Salford docks with the same general resentment?

I am aware that this is a general condition at the docks, but, as long as this system obtains, I cannot see a better method for signing on. The clearing house is the most convenient for this purpose.

Would the right hon. Lady's Department not, object if any change in this direction were proposed? If the unions arrange a different system so as to reduce the number of visits, would the right hon. Lady be opposed to that change?

Scotland

26.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of per- sons registered as unemployed in. Scot land on 1st June, 1929, and at the latest available date?

At 10th November, 1930, there were 290,897 persons on the registers of Employment Exchanges in Scotland as compared with 144,243 at 3rd June, 1929.

27.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men directly employed on unemployment relief schemes in Scotland at the latest available date?

The number of men directly employed in Scotland on 26th September on schemes assisted by the Unemployment Grants Committee, Ministry of Transport and Department of Agriculture for Scotland was 9,502.

Does that answer indicate that the Government's relict schemes have only been capable of absorbing a very small proportion of the increased number of unemployed in Scotland?

29.

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the complaints made by employers in Glasgow regarding their difficulty in engaging workers through the Employment Exchanges, whether she intends to take any steps to assist employers to get labour through the Exchanges?

I am not aware that employers in Glasgow have had any difficulty in obtaining labour through the Employment Exchanges except in the case of certain classes of skilled work-people of whom there is a known shortage. I should be glad to have any particulars which the hon. Member can give me.

Will the right hon. Lady look into a case, if I supply her with the name of a firm at Maryhill, Glasgow, who have been advertising and who put a letter in the "Glasgow Herald" on 11th November, but who cannot get labour, although they are appealing for unskilled labour—

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the complaint in Glasgow is on the part of the workers, that they cannot get, jobs, either from the employers or the Employment. Exchanges?

I shall most certainly go into the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train), and I shall be glad to have particulars of it.

The "Glasgow Herald" letter was unsigned—no name attached. It was anonymous, like all these other complaints. They had not the courage to sign it.

On a point of Order. Is an hon. Member entitled to quote from an anonymous letter which is a slander against working-class people in the City of Glasgow?

If the question is put in that way, the hon. Member who puts it is responsible.

United States

31.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she has any information as to the present extent of unemployment in the United States of America and as to the measures which are being taken there to cope with it?

The exact extent of unemployment at the present time in the United States of America is not known, since there are no official statistics showing the numbers unemployed; but there can be no doubt that there is a large amount of unemployment in that country. The official index of employment in manufacturing industries was 79.7 for September, 1930, as compared with 100, the average index for the year 1926. The American Federation of Labour reported that according to returns received from trade unions in a number of cities, 21 per cent. of the membership were unemployed at the beginning of October, 1930. I understand that an Emergency Committee for Employment was set up by the President last month to organise, in co-operation with State and local authorities and charity organisations, measures for the relief of the needy unemployed, and that schemes of public works are in hand or in contemplation.

In view of the fact that one Member on the Treasury Bench has taken a figure of 5,000,000 unemployed in America, and another has reported it to be 10,000,000, would it not be advisable to secure some information as to whether it is 5,000,000 or 10,000,000?

Royal Commission

46.

asked the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make with reference to the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry into Unemployment Insurance; and, if so, whether he can state the terms of reference, together with the proposed membership and the date on which it is proposed it shall commence its labours?

50.

asked the Prime Minister when he proposes to make a further announcement concerning the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance?

I have been asked to answer this question. It is not yet possible to add anything to the reply which the Prime Minister gave to the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) on the 6th November.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when we shall be able to have that reply?

I cannot say that definitely, but I know that fairly rapid progress is being made in setting up the membership of the Commission, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that it always takes a considerable amount of time.

If I repeat the question this day week, will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give me an answer?

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider putting a woman on this Commission?

Railways (Wages Agreements)

13.

asked the Minister of Labour whether she has any statement to make with regard to the progress of the negotiations pending between the railway companies of this country and the trade unions concerned relative to the remuneration to be paid in future to railway employés?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given regarding this matter on Monday last, of which I am sending him a copy.

Safeguarded Industries (Wages And Conditions)

16.

asked the Minister of Labour if she will cause inquiries to be made and issue a report on the movements and changes which may have taken place in the wages and conditions of the workpeople in those industries covered by the provisions of the Safeguarding of Industries Act for the period which those provisions have been in operation?

I doubt whether it would now be practicable to obtain, by special inquiries, particulars for past years which would provide a satisfactory basis for a comprehensive report on this subject. Some information, however, is available as to such general changes in rates of wages as have taken place and I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement summarising this information.

Following is the statement:

No general change in rates of wages or normal weekly hours of labour has been reported since the imposition of the Duties now in operation under the Safeguarding of Industries Act in any of the industries to which these Duties apply, except fabric glove making and paper manufacture.

In the case of fabric gloves a reduction of 12½ per cent. in rates of wages which had been made in April, 1923, was restored in 1928.

In the paper-making industry agreed reductions in rates of wages amounting to seven-eighths of a penny or one penny per hour for men and three-eighths of a penny for women, came into operation in August, 1930. These reductions applied to the whole of the paper-making industry irrespective of any distinction between safeguarded and non-safeguarded sections.

It is possible that apart from general changes in rates of wages or hours of labour, changes may have occurred affect- ing workpeople employed by individual firms. Moreover, actual earnings may have altered as a result of changes in the state of trade and employment. Statistics as to such changes are not, however, available.

Cost Of Living

18.

asked the Minister of Labour what was the average over-all index figure of the general purchasing value level of money (retail prices) in the United Kingdom for the period covered by the years 1914 to 1917, inclusive; and similarly for the month of October, 1930, using 1913 equal 100?

The Ministry of Labour index-number relating to changes in working-class cost-of-living showed average increases, as compared with July, 1914, of 23 per cent. in 1915, 46 per cent, in 1916, 76 per cent, in 1917, and 56 per cent, at 1st October, 1930. Comparable figures are not available for dates prior to July, 1914.

Arrest (Plaistow)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of Mr. William Henry Fisher, of Plaistow, London, E., and whether it is proposed to make any grant to him on that account; and will he give the House particulars?

The attention of my right hon. Friend was called to this case by my hon. Friend the Member for Plaistow (Mr. Thorne). My right hon. Friend has made inquiry and is satisfied that this is not a case in which he would be justified in entertaining any application for payment, by way of compensation from public funds.

White Lead Poisoning

35.

asked the Home Secretary the number of cases of lead poisoning notified, and the number of deaths which have occurred since the imposition of the new regulations dealing with the use of white lead?

The Regulations under the Lead Paint Act came into force on the 1st October, 1927. During 1928, 87 cases were reported, including 20 deaths; during 1929, there were 75 cases including 10 deaths; and during the nine months ending the 30th September last, there were 43 cases including 9 deaths.

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether he is satisfied that these regulations are sufficient to meet the needs of the case?

I may say that they are constantly under review, having regard to the facts in cases that are brought to our notice.

Poor Prisoners' Defence Act

37.

asked the Home Secretary whether regulations have yet been drawn up with regard to the Poor Prisoners' Defence Act, 1930?

Regulations are in course of preparation, and it is expected that they will be published before the Act comes into operation on the 1st January, 1931.

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that these regulations fulfil the pledge given by the Government during the progress of this Bill, that King's Counsel should be provided in cases of exceptional difficulty?

I am sure that any pledge of that kind will not be overlooked by my right hon. Friend, and I can assure the House that all relevant facts will be taken into consideration.

With respect to a poor prisoner having the choice of his own solicitor, will the regulation which the Government promised be incorporated in the body of regulations?

I cannot answer the latter part of the question, but my hon. Friend may rest assured that all relevant facts will be taken into consideration.

But is it not true that the hon. Gentleman himself gave an explicit promise on the Committee stage of the Bill that such would be done?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my anxiety is caused by the fact that the Government opposed at every stage of the Bill an Amendment which contained the provision of King's Counsel?

Traffic Regulations (Processions)

38.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the desirabiilty of making regulations for the better organisation of traffic upon special occasions which would lessen the dislocation and congestion which cause business and financial loss, especially with a view of arranging for processions, such as the Lord Mayor's show, to take place at such times and by such routes as would cause least obstruction to traffic?

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has power to make regulations for preventing obstruction of the streets within the Metropolitan Police District in all times of public processions, and did in fact make such regulations on the occasion of the recent Lord Mayor's Show. In framing regulations, every effort is made to reduce to a minimum the inevitable interference with traffic.

Could it be suggested that this Show should take place at a time when there is not so much traffic about, like a Saturday afternoon, or that it should take place at Olympia or the Stadium at Wembley or somewhere like that?

Aliens

40.

asked the Home Secretary how many persons of foreign nationality have been admitted into Great Britain since 1st January, 1930, for the purpose of taking up residence in this country; and what principal nationalities such persons claim?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statistics published quarterly and yearly. The latest return (Cmd. Paper 3576 II) shows that during the nine months ended the 30th September, 1930, 385,112 alien passengers landed in the United King- dom. I cannot say how many intended to take up residence here, but experience shows that a great proportion of the persons were here for visits or other temporary reasons, and I may perhaps draw attention to the footnotes to Table I of the return mentioned, and to Table II of the Annual Return.

Do I understand that no record is kept of what these people come over here for and whether they are remaining or getting other occupations?

I think not, but, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman will read the papers that I am sending him, and then requires further information, I shall be glad to give it.

41.

asked the Home Secretary whether steps are taken by his Department to see that foreign persons admitted to this country, ostensibly to attend schools and colleges, do not, in fact, enter any gainful occupations in Great Britain?

The Home Office is regularly engaged in preventing evasion of the law which requires that an alien shall not enter this country for employment except in pursuance of a permit issued by the Minister of Labour, and in proper cases my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary requires an alien guilty of such evasion to leave the country.

Will the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to communicate with the Ministry of Labour and draw their attention to the fact that they are allowing an enormous number of foreign girls to come into this country and get work in theatres, to the detriment of our own working class?

Can the hon. Gentleman say if there have been any deportations recently?

52.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the number of unemployed, he will take steps to prevent Frenchmen coming over to this country to sell onions?

Will the hon. Member approach the Minister of Agriculture to give his sympathetic consideration to this matter, in the same way as he is doing in regard to fruit?

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that these picturesque immigrants are very popular in the countryside, and will help to popularise the French nation among our people?

Absinthe

43.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is prepared to introduce legislation forbidding the manufacture, sale, and use of absinthe in this country?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that legislation has already been passed by France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, forbidding the sale and manufacture of this drink, and is this country going to lag behind those Continental countries in this matter?

I am aware of the facts as stated by the hon. and gallant Member, hut so far as I am aware there is no ground for taking action in this country.

Lotteries And Sweepstakes (Irish Free State)

44.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider introducing legislation to provide that all persons passing to and fro between this country and the Irish Free State may be asked to declare whether they carry cash or correspondence in relation to lotteries or sweepstakes and, if so, may be forbidden entrance or exit on the ground that they are engaged in an illegal enterprise?

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend does not think that such legislation is either necessary or desirable.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of making representations to the Government in order to legalise lotteries for charitable purposes?

Coastguard Service

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to say whether it is his intention to set up a Parliamentary committee to make comprehensive inquiry into the whole question of the coastguard service?

I have been asked to answer this question. As the hon. and gallant Member has already been informed, there will be an inquiry into the general questions raised by the report on the "Islander" case, and an announcement as to the form which the inquiry will take will be made at the earliest possible moment.

In view of the urgency of this important matter, cannot the hon. Gentleman say when this inquiry will actually take place?

The matter is before my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

If I put a question down in a week's time, will the hon. Gentleman be able then to give me a reply?

I cannot promise that on behalf of my right hon. Friend, but I should think it is quite possible.

Russia (Sugar)

18.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to inform the House of the results of the inquiry which he promised should be instituted with respect to the arrangements which have been made by the Soviet Government for the purchase and disposal of sugar?

I have been asked to answer this question. Under the Export Credits Guarantee Scheme guarantees have been given in connection with the export to Russia of cane sugar refined in this country. While I have no official information on the subject, I understand that Russia has also bought raw sugar direct from Cuba. No guarantees have been given in connection with these latter transactions, which would not fall within the scope of the scheme. Latvia normally imports considerable quantities of sugar from Russia, but, although official statistics for the current year are not yet available, private inquiries which I have made suggest that the amount of sugar entering Latvia during 1930 from Russia has so far been considerably less than in 1928 and 1929.

Is there any truth in the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech on the 4th of this month, about which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said he would pledge himself to set down a departmental minute to inquire as to the authenticity of the point raised by my right hon. Friend?

Imperial Preference

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether the undertaking given by the Government to the Imperial Conference to continue the existing imperial preferences for three years includes both the McKenna and Safeguarding Duties?

51.

asked the Prime Minister whether the pledge given at the Imperial Conference to maintain all existing preferences intact for three years applies to the preferences enjoyed by other parts of the Empire in respect of the McKenna and Safeguarding Duties, the Silk Duty, and Key Industries Duties?

I have been asked to reply. Paragraph 3 of the Declaration made by the United Kingdom Government at the Imperial Conference applies to all existing duties. This application is, of course, governed by any provisions, e.g. as to duration, in the existing law relating to those duties, and is subject to the rights of the United Kingdom Parliament to fix the Budget from year to year.

Will the right hon. Gentleman clear up this point in regard to the McKenna Duties: seeing that the margin of preference at present is 11 per cent., if he decided to reduce the McKenna Duties, would he be precluded by his pledge from reducing them below 10 per cent.?

Certainly not. It will work out like this. Take the case of the McKenna Duties. If we reduced a duty upon foreign imports from 33½ per cent. to 11 per cent. and brought in imports from the Empire free, the existing margin would still be maintained.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider himself entitled to reduce the McKenna Duties altogether?

Does not the pledge to maintain the existing preferential margin mean a pledge so far as the Government are concerned, unless it is over-ridden by Parliament, to maintain every duty that carries preference with it at the present moment?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows if he has read it carefully—there is snore than one condition—this Declaration to maintain the existing preferential margins is subject to what may be done at the Conference at Ottawa, and it is governed by the maintenance of the right of Parliament to deal with these duties; but apart from that, there is, of course, an obligation that the existing duties—using the word existing in the sense I explained in reply to the question—would maintain the preference.

I want to ask, apart from any equivocation about the rights of Parliament—

That shows how unsuitable it is to try to debate this kind of subject at Question Time.

Convicts (Transport)

53.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to a fight between five convicts and warders in a railway train near Romsey; whether it is usual for a party of convicts sentenced separately to be taken together to their destination; whether in this case the strength of the escort was in accordance with Regulations; and if he proposes to take any action in the matter?

A full inquiry is being made into this case, and I am not at present in a position to make a statement.

Education

Conveyance Of Children

54.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of the additional expenditure involved and of the representations made to him respecting the increased expenditure by local education authorities in connection with the conveyance of children to senior schools consequent upon the adoption of reorganisation schemes, he proposes materially to increase the present grant of 20 per cent.?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave, a fortnight ago, to the Noble Lord the Member for Dorset South (Viscount Cranborne), of which I am sending him a copy.

Is it the policy of the Board of Education to make an extra grant to rural authorities, in view of the fact that they are called upon to spend large sums of money that the urban authorities are not called upon to spend?

University Scholarships And Exhibitions

55.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has any information as to the proportion of scholarships and exhibitions secured in open competition by children whose education began in the primary schools at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge?

I regret that I have no information as to open scholarships awarded at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

School Attendance Bill

56.

asked the President of the Board of Education how the estimated figure of £5 per head or thereabouts mentioned in the White Paper as likely to be incurred under the Education (School Attendance) Bill upon the education of children aged 14 to 15 years, is allocated as between teachers' salaries, loan charges, administrative expenses, and other items of expenditure?

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the estimate of £2,500,000, given in the Financial Memorandum of the Bill, for the extra provision for educating the additional age group. This sum is allocated as follows:

£
Salaries of teachers1,800,000
Loan charges, maintenance of buildings, provision of books, and allowance for overhead charges700,000

59.

asked the President of the Board of Education which education authorities within the boundaries of Greater London have notified him that they will be ready to deal with the increased number of children necessitated by the Education Bill by the date mentioned therein, and which have failed to do so up to the present date?

Local education authorities have not been asked to notify the Board whether they will be ready to deal with the additional children to be retained in the schools under the Bill now before the House. All the authorities in Greater London, except the London County Council, Hornsey, and Wimbledon, have submitted complete or partial programmes for the three years 1930–33, which take account of the provision necessary for the additional children. These programmes suggest that, generally speaking, the necessary accommodation will be available, though it may not be possible to avoid temporary pressure in a few districts, particularly where extensive housing developments are taking place. It cannot be assumed that the authorities which have not submitted programmes making the necessary provision will, in fact, be unable to do so if the Bill become law.

Is it still the intention of the Government to launch this Bill when they know that numerous authorities are not ready with the accommodation required or with the teachers?

Is it not a fact that the greater part of the County of London has ample accommodation?

Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman sent a letter to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Major Tryon) in Which he said that only 50 local authorities, which included none of the large authorities and no county authorities, will be ready or have said that they will be ready by 1st April next—

62.

asked the President of the Board of Education the estimated amount of the burden falling upon the rates in England to meet the expenditure which would be incurred through the raising of the school age and in the provision of maintenance grants on the scale proposed; and whether he can supply the estimated figures for each county and city area in England?

In the Financial Memorandum on the Education (School Attendance) Bill I have given an estimate of the eventual additional charge on the rates in England and Wales. I am unable, however, to supply separate figures for England or for individual areas.

65.

asked the President of the Board of Education the substance of any representations made to him by the County Councils' Association in regard to the date of operation of the Education (School Attendance) Bill and any other provisions of the Bill?

I have been informed by the Education Committee of the County Councils' Association that the earliest date for raising the school age should be 1st September, 1933, and that, in regard to maintenance allowances, they see no reason for a departure from the recommendations of the committee representing the local authorities.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that unless pressure comes from above some of the county councils referred to in this question will not be ready by 1973?

Commercial Training

60.

asked the President of the Board of Education in how many elementary day schools special commercial training over a period of more than one year is given; and whether he will consider making arrangements which will enable suitable scholars to obtain at least two years' commercial instruction prior to reaching the age of 14?

I regret that I have not the necessary information to enable me to answer the first part of the hon. Member's question. As regards the second part of the question, the type of instruction to be provided for older children is, generally speaking, left to the discretion of the local education authorities. I have, however, already drawn the attention of the authorities to the importance of providing facilities for varying types of instruction for these older children, and, as one of the results of reorganisation now going on, there is a continued increase in the number of schools in which such facilities are, in fact, provided.

Has the right hon. Gentleman drawn the attention of the local authorities to the necessity of providing special instruction in rural areas?

Secondary Schools

63.

asked the President of the Board of Education how many secondary schools which are both rate-and grant-aided have equipment enabling them to give mechanical and practical courses at least the equivalent of the courses provided in junior technical schools?

I regret that 1 am unable to give the desired information. A certain number of secondary schools include engineering courses in their curriculum and possess the necessary equipment for this purpose, and if my hon. Friend so desires, I shall be glad to give him any information I can in regard to them. But I am afraid that I have not found it possible to apply the standards obtaining in junior technical schools so as to make the comparison suggested in the question.

In considering the plans of new secondary schools, will the right hon. Gentleman try to see that provision is made for adequate courses of practical instruction suitable to the ages of the boys and girls there?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, without that, the extra year will be a waste of time?

Maintenance Allowances

64.

asked the President of the Board of Education the name of any county in which children are obliged to attend school beyond the age of 14 where maintenance allowances are granted to such children to enable them to attend school after that age?

The education authority for the County of Carnarvonshire has adopted a byelaw requiring attendance at school up to the age of 15, and has also in operation a scheme of maintenance allowances for children over the age of 14.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note that the question was meant to refer to "country" and not "county"?

Are all the maintenance allowances given by Carnarvonshire on a flat rate?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a flat rate in Carnarvonshire of 3s. a week?

School-Leaving Age

66.

asked the President of the Board of Education what Foreign States or provinces of the Dominions have raised the school-leaving age above 14 years; and which of these states or provinces, if any, have both a school year consisting of as many hours' attendance as are required in this country, and a system under which no exemptions are permitted below the school-leaving age?

As regard the first part of the question, the countries concerned are:

Norway;

Fourteen of the cantons of Switzerland;

Forty-three of the 48 States of the United States of America and the District of Columbia;

The provinces of Nova. Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta in Canada;

All four provinces of the Union of South Africa (as regards children of European descent).

As regards the second part of the question, the only country which appears both to require as much attendance per annum as is required in this country and to make no provision for exemption is Norway, as regards its urban schools.

Is it not a fact that in Norway a very short school year is required in the rural schools?

Housing

Regional Town Planning

67.

asked the Minister of Health whether he proposes to appoint an advisory committee, consisting of experts in town-planning, representatives of the local authorities, and civil servants, to consider the present schemes of the regional town-planning committees and select those which can be put into immediate operation?

Many reports have been issued by Advisory Regional Committees, but these are far from being approved schemes. No regional schemes have been approved, though many proposals of a regional character are embodied in approved town plans or pre- liminary statements, and several have been or are being carried out by Local Authorities. I am not at present satisfied that any useful purpose would be served by such a committee as that suggested, but the matter is being further considered.

Did the right hon. Gentleman, in turning down this scheme, overlook the fact that this is a proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)?

Rural Workers Act (Carmarthenshire)

69.

asked the Minister of Health the number of applications received by the Carmarthenshire County Council for grants under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1926; the number of successful applications; the amount of money granted under this Act; and if he is satisfied with the results of the working of this Act in the county of Carmarthen?

Applications have been made in respect of 83 dwellings, and assistance amounting to £2,084 has been promised in respect of 22. These results are not very great, but I have at present no reason to suppose that the Council are not endeavouring to make a proper use of their powers under the Act.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 90 per cent. of the applicants in Scotland were successful?

Cottage Tenants, Paston, Norfolk

88.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that a London company of property owners are purchasing property in the village of Paston, Norfolk, and forcing cottage holders, under the threat of losing their employment, to become tied tenants, with restrictions on chicken keeping and liable to eviction on change of employment; and what steps he proposes to take to safeguard the interests of agricultural workers in these cases?

I have no information on the matter, which does not appear to be one in which I am empowered to take any action, but perhaps my hon. Friend will send me particulars in regard to it.

Public Health

Tuberculosis, South Shields

68.

asked the Minister of Health if he has yet received a report from his representative who recently investigated the prevalence of tuberculosis in the county borough of South Shields; if so, what action he proposes taking; and if he will consider at an early date calling a conference of the authorities for dealing with tuberculosis on the Tyneside, with a view to securing the inauguration of a centralised and comprehensive scheme at the earliest possible moment?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I have already communicated with the town council and have made certain suggestions for increasing the hospital provision available for the treatment of this disease in South Shields. As regards the last part of the question', if the local authorities concerned consider that a conference would be desirable, I shall be glad to do anything in my power to facilitate it.

May I take it that the right hon. Gentleman would be willing to call such a conference if requested, and arrange for one of his officers to attend?

Medical Journals (Advertised Drugs)

73.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider the desirability of amending the Medical Act of 1886 with a view to controlling advertisements of drugs in medical papers?

I am not aware that there is any ground for proposing to extend the control which I understand is already exercised over advertisements of this character by the proprietors of the medical journals concerned.

Death Certification

79.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Dr. F. J. Waldo, the Southwark coroner, at recent inquest, to the effect that there are thousands of doctors who certify death without seeing the body of the deceased, and that it should be made compulsory that all bodies should be examined; and will he consider the appointment of a departmental committee to consider this subject with the object of introducing legislation which will make it imperative for doctors to see the deceased persons before death certificates are issued?

My attention has not previously been drawn to the statement referred to. This subject was, however, fully discussed during the passage through this House of the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1926; and I do not see sufficient reason for any further action in present circumstances.

But cannot the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries into the experience of these coroners?

Anatomical Examination (Paupers' Bodies)

82.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the public assistance committees of several counties have decided that in future bodies of friendless paupers are to be available for dissection at medical schools; can he say whether any regulations exist by which a friendless pauper, who is dying in a hospital, is notified of the fact that his body-will be handed over for the purpose of dissection unless he protests; and are any arrangements made by the authorities to satisfy themselves that when the dissected body is buried the correct remains of the body are properly interred?

The answer to the first and third parts of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, any inmate of an institution may express a desire that his body shall be interred without anatomical examination, and Section 7 of the Anatomy Act, 1832. provides that such a wish shall be respected.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any intimation is given to these inmates, and whether it is not the fact that many inmates have no relatives?

Contributory Pensions Act

70.

asked the Minister of Health if he will take the necessary steps to ascertain the cost involved if the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1929, were amended to provide that a wife, on attaining the age of 65, could be granted an old age contributory pension in respect of her husband's insurance, notwithstanding the fact that the husband had not attained the age of 65, but was of the age of 60 or upwards?

I regret that I could not, in present conditions, justify the expense which would be incurred in making the extensive research and calculations necessary to obtain the information desired by my hon. Friend.

71.

asked the Minister of Health if he will state the number of persons employed in an excepted employment by virtue of a certificate given under paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of Part II of the First Schedule to the National Insurance Act who have become voluntary contributors under the National Health Insurance Act, in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1929?

I regret that this information is not available and could only be obtained by inquiry from the 7,000 approved societies and branches.

72.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that about 5,500 employés of the late Poor Law authorities in London who were formerly insured for full pension benefits under the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age (Contributory) Pensions Act, 1925, are liable to be deprived of their old age pension benefits for which they have paid contributions except they become voluntary contributors; and whether, in view of the hardship to many of these persons involved, he will say what action the Government proposes to take in the matter?

I presume that the hon. Member is referring to those employés who on transfer to the London County Council are no longer compulsorily insured for old age pensions because they, in common with other employés of the council, are covered by the exception provided for in Section 9, pro- viso (c) of the Act. As the ground for this exception is that the terms of employment secure superannuation rights equivalent to those conferred by the Act by way of old age pensions, and as an old age pension in addition can normally be secured by voluntary insurance, I cannot agree that there is any hardship as suggested in the question. In any event, the position could not be altered without legislation.

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire further into this matter, because if he does I think he will find that there is considerable hardship?

84.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is giving consideration to the fact that many old age and widows' contributory pensions will be in jeopardy owing to the period of the prolongation of insurance coming to an end on 31st December next; and whether he will take steps to meet the situation?

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply given on 30th October to the hon. Members for Greenwich (Mr. Palmer) and Bothwell (Mr. Sullivan) on the same subject.

87.