House Of Commons
Monday, 24th November, 1930.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Oral Answers To Questions
Trade And Commerce
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has received a copy of the resolution recently passed by the India section of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in connection with the guarding of the mutual trade between Great Britain and India against suppression and injury; and, if so, what action he proposes to take in respect of such resolution?
I have received the resolution. As to the second part of the question, I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply given by the Prime Minister last Tuesday to the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst).
I have read that answer, but will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence at the Conference in the direction of helping the Lancashire cotton industry?
The Conference is intended to promote good will between this country and India, and this is the best way of helping trade.
Antwerp Exhibition (British Section)
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has any statement to make to the House regarding the results achieved by the British section of the Antwerp Exhibition?
The British section of the International Colonial and Maritime Exhibition, which closed at Antwerp on the 4th November, achieved an unqualified success. Tributes to the splendid impression created by the British exhibit have been received from Belgians of all ranks. The total attendance at the Exhibition is reported to have been more than 10,000,000 persons, of which approximately 7,000,090 are stated to have passed through the British pavilion. British commercial exhibitors in the pavilion have reported almost unanimously their satisfaction with the results of their participation, which in many cases far exceeded their expectations.
To what use is the British pavilion being put after the Exhibition is closed?
I understand that it is being pulled down.
Development Of Overseas Trade Council
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what steps are being taken to make known the conclusions arrived at and the information obtained by the Development of Overseas Trade Council to the manufacturers and trading community?
The decisions of the Development Council are communicated to the public either by means of statements on the Floor of the House or through the Press. On the return of trade missions initiated by the Council, reports will be published as soon as possible. Arrangements are also being made for the communication to the manufacturers and traders concerned of the information collected. For example, it has been arranged that Lord Kirkley and his colleagues on the Government Trade Mission to South Africa which has just returned, shall address meetings of business men in Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle, and shall also meet several of the leading trade associations.
Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the valuable information collected by the Council and the conclusions to which they arrive are put at the disposal of everyone concerned?
We are constantly considering that matter, and are trying to find means by which it is possible to make them available to the public and the Press.
Are the information and the conclusions reached by the Council circulated to the firms whose names are on the special list?
I cannot say definitely without notice whether this information is, but I have no doubt that that is the object of the circular, and that the information available will be given to them.
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department the value of the imports of the mandated territory of South-West Africa from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany, respectively, in the years 1928 and 1929; and if he will indicate any special measures adopted by His Majesty's Government to extend the trade of Great Britain in that territory?
As the reply, which in-eludes a number of figures, is rather long, I propose, with the hon. Member's consent, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is it not a fact that the German trade is constantly on the increase, and what steps are the Department taking to secure that our trade gets fair play?
When the hon. Member gets the answer, he will see what we are doing. We constantly have the point before us.
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether British firms are permitted to display poster and newspaper advertisements for British products in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics; and, if not, what means they are allowed to adopt to make their products known to the Russian people?
Poster, newspaper and other advertisements are accepted in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics from foreign firms by a special State Bureau, in which such business is centralised.
Having regard to the fact that no advertisements of British companies are allowed in Soviet Russia, does not the hon. Gentleman think it desirable to say that we cannot go on allowing Russian oil products to be sold here[Interruption.)
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he is yet in a position to inform the House what are the exceptional cases in which British firms may by special permission sell direct to wholesalers and retailers in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics?
As the answer to the question asked by the, hon. Member is rather long, I will, with his permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the answer which he gave last week was authoritative or not?
I have no doubt that it was.
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if the Cuban sugar bought by the Soviet Government and brought here to be refined is guaranteed in full under the exports credit scheme or whether the refining charges only are guaranteed?
The guarantees given under the Export Credits Guarantee Scheme in connection with the export of sugar to Russia covered a proportion of the bills of exchange drawn in respect of the full cost of the shipments.
That is to say, that the sugar is bought by Russia in Cuba, and that our credit was used to guarantee the payment for it?
The guarantees were given on a transaction which covers the cost of the purchase of the sugar as well as the expenditure of refining it.
Is it not a fact that some of the sugar so bought has now been sent hack to England to be sold again against our own products?
I do not think that that is so; I think that the hon. Gentleman has been misinformed.
Has the hon. Gentleman's attention been called to a statement on this very point which was made by the Prime Minister on the 4th November?
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the effect of this guarantee on our own sugar manufacturers?
Was not the object of this transaction to withdraw from the sugar pool a large quantity of sugar, and were not the producers of sugar thereby benefited?
The object of the transaction was to give work to British refiners.
British Cotton Goods (Nyasaland)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet investigated the reasons for the fall of the proportion of United Kingdom cotton goods entering Nyasaland to about one-third of what it was five years ago and the reasons why the importations of similar foreign cotton goods have doubled in that period; and if he will examine the Congo Basin treaties to ascertain whether they operate to the disadvantage of United Kingdom goods?
The decline in the exports of United Kingdom cotton piece goods to Nyasaland and other British territories in East Africa has for some years received the close attention of the Department of Overseas Trade, which has furnished special reports on the subject to the cotton industry in this country, but there do not appear to be any special reasons for this decline other than those which have, unfortunately, led to reductions in such exports to many other destinations. As regards the second part of the question, I think there is a fairly wide consensus of opinion that en balance the Congo Basin Convention is of advantage to the trade of this country.
Is it not the case that the principal competitor is Japan, and that the wages paid there are less than half what they are in this country?
asked the Secretary of State for India whether be will state, from the information in his possession, the number of films that have been prohibited from exhibition in India for the 12 months ended to the last convenient date; whether he has any knowledge of any alterations that have taken place in the regulations for the exhibition of films during the same period; and can he give particulars to the House?
According to the information in my possession, the exhibition of 25 films was prohibited during the 12 months ending on the 30th September last. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.
How many of those are British films?
My hon. Friend has a question on that point later in the week.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether any modifications have been made in the regulations since the introduction of the "talkies"?
I have answered that question already. Arai DIS.
asked the Secretary of State for India what has been the result of the discussion in jirga with the Afridis; and whether he proposes to take any further measures for the protection of the frontier in. consequence?
The jirga did not succeed in finding any acceptable alternative to the protective measures decided on by Government which are already being taken and were described in the communique published on lath October.
Are the Government of India in favour of the policy of masterly inactivity which he is maintaining?
The policy pursued is the policy of His Majesty's Government.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not apprehensive that these half-hearted measures will cause grave disaster?
asked the Secretary of State for India if he can make any statement as to the present situation in India?
I am circulating a statement giving the Government of India's appreciation of the situation to date.
Following is the statement:
Appreciation of the situation by the Government of India up to 22nd November, 1930.
Reports from Provinces for the first half of November show that the tendencies noticeable during the past two months still continue.
Madras continues to be quiet, and the release of prisoners has so far had no effect on the situation. In fact, very few have attempted to resume their activities.
In Bihar and Orissa improvement continues, and is reflected in the comparatively small number of convictions. There were, however, several cases of violence during the fortnight. Picketing has decreased in intensity, and persons arrested in connection with the civil disobedience movement are showing less obduracy.
The Bengal Government has little to report. The general improvement has now extended to the few districts in which conditions gave some cause for anxiety, and in Midnapore, which for some time has been a source of trouble, a sign of improving conditions is the return to duty of numerous village watchmen who had resigned.
In the United Provinces agitation in the towns is on the decline, and, except for occasional demonstrations, there is little activity, but efforts are being made by Congress emissaries to influence the rural areas, and advantage is being taken of the low prices of agricultural produce to incite tenants not to pay their rents. In this Province the number of persons released, on undertakings not to resume their activities, is more than 20 per cent. of the total number of convictions.
In Assam there has been definite improvement, and picketing appears to have practically stopped for the time being.
Delhi also reports that picketing is now less organised and effective than it was, the number of Congress meetings has declined, and this is true of most Provinces.
The fortnightly reports of most Provinces mention, as a result of the lapse of Press Ordinance, the revival, in certain sections of the Press, of organised encouragement of the civil disobedience movement and persistent misrepresentations and abuse of Government.
In Bombay, the past week has been comparatively free of incident.
Bombay City has been quiet, and in Gujarat the situation gives less cause for anxiety and the movement is less widespread, but, while there has been a general decline in active enthusiasm, this has been replaced in some areas by an attitude of passive resistance in which depression has replaced hope of success. The methods employed, are, with occasional exceptions, non-violent, but thoroughly obstructive. Disgraceful scenes of rowdyism are reported from Karachi but details are lacking.
The celebration of Jawahar Day was held in many parts of the country. The demonstrations were on a comparatively small scale.
Developments at the Round Table Conference are being watched with the keenest interest by newspapers of all persuasions, the publication of the Government of India's Despatch being followed by a more intensive discussion of the proposals lying before the Conference than has hitherto occurred. Indian Press opinion is dissatisfied with the Government of India's proposals. Some Liberal newspapers consider that the Despatch is an advance upon the Simon Report, especially in its appreciation of political tendencies and nationalist aspirations, but they regard the advance proposed as inadequate, and the general tendency is to criticise the proposals relating to the centre and to safeguards. The attempts now proceeding in London to reach a settlement on communal issues are naturally followed with close interest. The developments in regard to federation have so far attracted less attention than might have been expected, but they have already stimulated constructive thought and will it is hoped divert attention to an increasing degree from purely destructive criticism. Generally, there are indications of wider appreciation of the importance of the Conference and of increasing hopefulness of a successful issue.
Railway Service (Sick Leave)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to a recent action of the Railway Board in India by imposing a condition of the production of a medical certificate for absence from duty on account of scikness even for a period of only one day; and what action he proposes to take in the matter
I have no information. The matter is entirely within the discretion of the Railway Board.
asked the Secretary of State for India whether it is his intention to review any cases of political prisoners in India, particularly those of women and young people, who have not been guilty of acts of violence?
I regret that I cannot add anything to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend last Monday.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that cases of technical and minor offences might be reviewed with advantage at the present time?
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will state such information as he possesses with regard to the declared intention of the Congress party to set up independent civil and criminal courts, and of any attempt, successful or otherwise, to convene such courts?
There have been attempts, for instance in Gujerat in Bombay and Tipperah in Bengal, to set up arbitration courts but not with any particular success.
Have they in fact met?
I cannot say. The hon. Gentleman asked me for all the information I had, and I have given him all that I have.
I have already asked the question if they have met, so will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries and find out whether they have met?
I will consider that point.
Is it contrary to law for private persons to resort to arbitration?
I have answered that question.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a recent issue of "Pravda," an official Soviet organ, containing the statement that amongst the recent successes of the Soviet Government has been a peasant poll-tax revolt in Nigeria., native demonstrations in the Sudan, railway strikes in the Transvaal, peasant disorders in Kenya, and two risings in Samoa; and whether he is taking action having regard to the terms of the Treaty with Soviet Russia?
The right hon. Gentleman appears to have misunderstood or mistranslated the article referred to in the question. This article, which appeared on the 7th of November, mentioned the various events referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as items of news. The article, however, so far as we are able to discover, contained no reference whatever either to the Soviet Government or to its recent successes.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think this is a very unfriendly way of treating a country with which they are in Treaty relations, and is it not subjecting this country to still another humiliation?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the United States Government have this morning announced that they are going to take the very steps which we are urging him to take?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any complaints that British anti-Bolshevist propaganda is being carried on in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics; and whether any such propaganda is, to his knowledge, being carried on?
No complaints of the nature suggested by the hon. Member have been received.
Will the right hon. Gentleman devote his attention to the allegations which have appeared in the Soviet Press that this Government is carrying on propaganda in that country?
I am afraid I have something else to do than be running after such statements.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the bulk of the Press in Russia is official, and that it is his duty to look after it?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these accusations were made against the Lena Goldfields Company and that that was the ground for turning them out of Russia?
Has the right hon. Gentleman knowledge that propaganda of this kind is being carried on?
I can add nothing to what I have already said, in view of questions already on the Order paper.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ask the British Ambassador to make inquiries concerning certain decrees of the Soviet Government giving detailed instructions for the manufacture and dumping of a large number of commodities?
On a point of Order. Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, I should like to ask you, Sir, whether you yourself are satisfied that the serious allegations contained in the question can be substantiated?
It is not for me to decide whether statements in questions can be substantiated.
Is there not a Regulation—Regulation No.2—governing questions, that the questioner makes himself responsible for the accuracy of his statements?
That is quite another matter.
I have already asked His Majesty's Ambassador for a report on this matter.
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake, so far as decrees in relation to which he gets information from our Ambassador are concerned, to make such information available to this House?
Had not the right hon. Gentleman better await the report of the inquiries?
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman give information in connection with the question I asked him last week?
I am not going to give information until I have seen the report myself.
On a point of Order. May I put down a question to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs asking if he will ask the British Ambassadors to make inquiries from Germany and other countries—
The hon. Member had better hand his question in at the Table.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the indictment by the Government of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics of a number of specialists and professors on a charge of conspiracy with the British general staff against the Government of the Soviets; and whether he has made any representations to the Soviet Ambassador or otherwise with a view to dissociating the British Government or any of its staff and officers from any participation in the alleged conspiracy?
In reply to a similar question last Wednesday, I requested the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir R. Rodd) to repeat the question on Wednesday next, when I hope to give a considered reply.
Russian Oil Products, Limited (Directors)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the conditions made in relation to the permission afforded Mr. Terakopoff and Dr. Rabinovitch to reside in this country; and whether he has recently received any application far permission to reside in this country on behalf of any persons who have just been appointed directors of the Russian Oil Products, Limited?
Dr. Rabinovitch has been resident in this country since August, 1914, and his stay is not subject to any special conditions. Mr. Terakopoff was given leave to land for three months in March, 1924, and the condition has been varied from time to time. He is at present subject to a condition requiring him to leave the United Kingdom not later than 20th June, 1931. Applications for visas for two persons coming to join the board of Russian Oil Products, Limited, have recently been received.
Has the Parliamentary Secretary received any application from either of the two gentlemen mentioned in the first part of this question to remain longer in this country, or to have the conditions varied, inasmuch as they were ordered to go back to Russia and did not want to return there?
I should require notice of that question. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put it down on the Paper.
Can the hon. Gentleman assure the House that there will be no more new permits issued for people to take the places of these gentlemen?
French Foreign Legion (British Subjects)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has had any applications during the previous 12 months asking for his intervention to further the release of legionaries of British nationality serving with the French Government; and whether he has taken any action in the matter?
During the past 12 months I have received three applications for assistance in securing the release of British subjects from the French Foreign Legion. In the case of two of these men I addressed appeals to the French Government, who have undertaken to give them careful consideration. In the third case, there were no grounds on which I felt able to take action.
Can my right hon. Friend say when he hopes to get a reply to these two requests?
That rests with the French Government.
Do these people not have to take an oath before a British magistrate, and, if so, would it not be well to inform the magistrates that they should deal very carefully with these people?
I do not think that arises on this question.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if be has received information of internal trouble in Venezuela; and if adequate measures will be taken for the security of British interests in that country?
No, Sir. My latest information from His Majesty s Minister at Caracas is that the situation in Venezuela appears to be entirely normal. No special measures to protect British interests in that country are, therefore, proposed.
League Of Nations
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is yet in a position to state what action His Majesty's Government will take on the resolution of the Eleventh Assembly of the League of Nations on slavery; and if he has yet been able to take any steps to obtain the co-operation of nations who do not belong to the League of Nations in this matter?
In reply to the first. part of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by me on the 5th of November to the hon. Member for Birkenhead East (Mr. Graham White). In reply to the second part, in the event of any international conference being summoned, or any permanent commission being set up, to deal with this question, the League of Nations would no doubt consider the desirability of inviting non-member States to participate.
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the second part of his reply, will he be very particular to see that, if such an occasion arises, the products of slave labour will be excluded from the countries that signed the Pact—like Russia?
I do not think that question arises in this connection.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will lay a full report on the proceedings of the last Assembly of the League of Nations and its committees in regard to the proposals made for harmonising the Covenant and the Pact of Paris, showing in each case the attitude taken by His Majesty's Government to the suggested changes?
Yes, Sir. I am prepared to lay a White Paper dealing with the proposed amendments of the Covenant a the League and the attitude in relation thereto both of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and of the other Governments represented at the Imperial Conference.
Mexico (British Investors)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will instruct His Majesty's Minister in Mexico to request the Mexican Government to ratify the agreement made on 25th July last between the committee of bankers and the Mexican Minister of Finance for the liquidation of the Mexican Government debt; and will he request His Majesty's Minister to inform the Mexican Government that His Majesty's Government regards with concern the treatment which £200,000,000 of British savings has received in Mexico during the past 16 years?
As the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) was informed on Monday last, this agreement has been signed by the Mexican Government, and will, I understand, be brought in due course before Congress for ratification. For the moment, therefore, no further representations seem to be called for. As regards the second part of the question, I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that His Majesty's Minister at Mexico City has lost, and will lose, no opportunity of impressing upon the Mexican Government the desirability of arriving at a settlement of Mexico's outstanding obligations to British subjects and companies.
Film "Hell's Angels"
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what answer he has returned to the German Government with reference to the protest made against the exhibition of the film in London entitled "Hell's Angels"?
No protest against the exhibition of this film in London has been received from the German Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the gas protocol outlawing the use of poison gas in war, which has been ratified by 27 States and signed by 19 others, does not prohibit the use of tear-gas, smoke-screens and high-explosive gas-shells, steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to secure their prohibition?
My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. Tear-gases and shells producing poisonous fumes are prohibited under the Geneva Protocol. Smoke-screens, on the other hand, in so far as they do not contain poisonous elements, are not within the scope of the Protocol.
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he can give figures showing the principal reasons assigned by men who have given up smallholdings since 1920?
I regret I have no detailed information giving the particulars desired by the hon. Member.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman find out what proportion of the figures of failures and of people who gave up, which he gave last week, was due to economic or and what proportion to other reasons? Would it not be a simple question?
It would be a simple question, but it would mean going into the details of individual cases for a large number of years, and it would be difficult to ascertain.
If we are to spend vast sums of money on developing these holdings, surely it would be right to know why some have not succeeded—[Interruption.]
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that Mr. A. F. Carnell, an ex-service man, of Clacton-on-Sea, having occupied a smallholding for seven years and secured fourth prize in all Essex in the smallholders' competition, has made application to be allowed to purchase his holding, and that on the recommendation of the Smallholdings and Allotments Subcommittee of the Essex County Council his application has been refused by the Ministry of Agriculture on the ground that such a purchase would be contrary to good estate management; and whether he will take steps to see that this decision is immediately reversed?
I understand that the facts are not quite as stated in the question. The Essex County Council have applied for my consent to their refusal of Mr. Carnell's application to purchase his holding. The matter is still before me, and I will cause full inquiry to be made and will consider all the relevant facts before coming to decision.
Will the right hon. Gentleman understand that Mr. Carnell considers that a ruling has been given by the Ministry of Agriculture that he is not to be allowed to purchase this farm, and will he have official notice given to him that such is not the case?
I think the statement I have made will show that Mr. Carnell is mistaken.
National Mark (Beef And Wheat Flour)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is now in a position to make a statement on the progress of the National Mark Scheme for the grading and marking of beef at Birmingham.?
Not will standing the opposition to the National Mark Beef Scheme which still exists among certain sections of the trade in Birmingham, the number of sides graded and marked has mounted rapidly during the last 10 weeks and the ground lost when local difficulties first arose has been more than recovered. This reflects a growing and insistent public demand for National Mark beef, and I am hopeful that the wholesale salesmen will recognise that it justifies a reconsideration of their attitude, which causes extra expense and serious inconvenience to many retail butchers in the city, as well as adding to the cost of the scheme to public funds.
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to extend this scheme to any other centres in Great Britain?
Yes, we are now considering extending it to another city.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what he attributes the increase, and whether the scheme is still opposed by the trade in Birmingham?
It is now opposed by only a section. The success is undoubtedly due to the public appreciation of the beef that is marked.
Does the opposition include opposition from the War Office to the National Mark Scheme?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has evidence of a demand among farmers for National Mark all-English wheat flour; and what action, if any, he is taking to encourage and stimulate the demand?
My Department has had the assistance of the National Farmers' Union in commending the National Mark All-English Flour Scheme to the notice of farmers and of agricultural consumers generally. Reports from millers in most agricultural areas indicate, however, that the demand for National Mark flour has been disappointing, even in those areas where the wheat is grown, although many country millers have made energetic efforts to promote sales. In the circumstances, I am arranging, by means of further publicity, particularly in the East of England, to bring prominently before the agricultural community the opportunity which the National Mark Wheat Flour Scheme provides for giving effective preference in their own households to home agricultural produce.
asked the Minister of Agriculture the price at which potatoes have been sold to Spain from the Lincolnshire districts in 1927. 1928. 1929, and 1930?
I regret the information asked for by my hon. Friend is not available.
Education And Training (Women)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether women are to share in any special facilities for training provided by the Ministry at demonstration centres or elsewhere under the new Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill; and whether instruction in rural domestic economy is to be incorporated in the existing services for agricultural education, in order to meet the needs of the women members on the new family farms and holdings?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative if the women to whom the Noble Lady refers are desirous of obtaining small holdings and are otherwise suitable as tenants. I will consider the question of special facilities for training the wives and daughters of prospective smallholders. In reply to the second part of the question, I may explain that courses in rural domestic economy are already recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture as eligible for aid under its Regulations, and 1 have no reason to doubt that where there is a local demand for this kind of instruction the Local Authority concerned will take steps to provide it.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say in how many cases grants have already been made to this Fund?
I will gladly do so if my hon. and gallant Friend will give me notice.
asked the Minister of Agriculture when the proposals of His Majesty's Government for assisting the cereal producers of this country will be introduced?
I am unable at present to add anything to the reply which I gave on Monday last to questions on this subject by the hon and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage), and the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer).
If I put down another question next week is it likely that there will be a statement by the Government as to any reciprocal arrangements stating whether the Government are going to help in this matter?
I cannot promise. I am afraid that next week I shall only be able to give the same reply.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether in view of the effect of dumping on agriculure, horticulture, and fruit-growing in this country, he can state what products are dumped, or have been dumped, within the last 12 months; and whether, if he does not possess the information, he will institute an inquiry to obtain it with the object of ensuring adequate protection to the producing interests concerned?
If the hon. Member will let me know explicitly what he understands by dumping, I will see whether it is possible to supply him with the information required.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether dumping is regarded in this country as the sending into this country of goods produced at wages which would not be tolerated here?
asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of agricultural workers who are at present unemployed?
I regret that statistics are not available showing the number of agricultural workers at present unemployed.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman find out these figures before he proceeds with the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill?
I do not think that they have any relation to it at all.
Government Establishments (Industrial Workers)
asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of a High Court decision that certain stokers in the employ of His Majesty's Office of Works and other Government establishments and other classes of workers in Government employ are not insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, although in many cases these workers are interchangeable with others deemed insurable, she proposes to take steps to remedy the situation?
This decision cannot be altered without legislation, and my right hon. Friend cannot undertake at present to introduce legislation on the subject.
asked he Prime Minister whether he can now state the terms of reference to the Royal Corn-mission on Unemployment Insurance, and state the names of those serving upon it?
Not just yet.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication of when it will be possible to make a statement?
I cannot say, but we are hurrying things along as quickly as possible.
asked the Minister of Labour on what basis under the Unemployment Insurance Acts are the duties of porters at hospitals differentiated so that a porter, classified as attendant, in the X-ray department of St. Thomas's Hospital, London, is insurable, while a porter in the general building in the same hospital is non-insurable?
I have not been able on the information given in the question to trace rulings to the effect suggested, but if my hon. and gallant friend will let me have the names of the employés to whom he refers, I will have inquiries made and try to give him the information he desires.
Housing (Rural Areas)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is his intention to invite representatives of the Liberal party to serve on the committee which he is appointing to inquire into the conditions of rural housing?
No, Sir. When appointing the committee to inquire into the conditions of occupation of agricultural cottages, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Health, and I did not think it desirable to give representation to political parties as such, but to select members on the ground of their experience.
Royal Parks (Speed Limit Notices)
asked the First Commissioner of Works if he will consider some means of lighting the speed-limit notices now posted up at the entrances to the Royal parks so as to ensure adequate visibility at night?
The boards at present erected are experimental and, where it is proved to be necessary, will be replaced by notices in reflecting material, or illuminated signs.
Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the fact that many of these notice boards are on lamp posts and that, as the light is diffused horizontally instead of vertically, there are no means of seeing the board under the lamp at night?
If the hon. and gallant Member will speak to me afterwards and tell me where the notices are of which he complains, I will have the matter looked into.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what he means by "experimented"? Does he mean that it is an experiment whether the speed limit is to be maintained or not?
So far as I am concerned, the speed limit is going to be kept, and may be reduced.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many of the Royal Parks there is no notice about speed limits?
Regent's Park (Dogs)
asked the First Commissioner of Works if he will consider revising the regulation which enforces dogs being kept on the lead in certain areas in Regent's Park?
I have given this matter careful consideration, but I am afraid that I cannot see my way to relax the rule, which is designed for the protection of the flower beds.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are no flowers or plants in the parks at the moment which can possibly be harmed by any animal? Why not let the dogs have a free run for their money during the six winter months?
British Embassy, Rio De Janeiro
asked the, First Commissioner of Works the date upon which it was decided to purchase a site for the proposed new Embassy at Rio de Janeiro; the date upon which the purchase was made; the date upon which, the Brazilian Government offered to present a site; the reason why the gift of the site had not been either accepted' or rejected as at 18th November, 1930; and whether he will invite a committee of three Members of Parliament to examine the position with a view to the termination of the deadlock?
The purchase of a site was approved by Parliament on the 23rd February, 1928. The purchase was completed on 21st March, 1928. An intimation was received on the 6th March last that the Municipality of Rio were in a position to offer on lease site in the proposed new Embassy quarter. No definite information is yet available as regards the terms and conditions on which the site can be leased, nor is anything definite known as regards the dates when the town planning scheme will be started or completed. The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that before an Embassy can be built, not only must roads, drains, water, etc., be available, but the Department must be satisfied that the future development of the district will proceed' on satisfactory lines. As the town planning scheme is still in an immature stage I do not think that any useful purpose will be served by the appointment of a committee as suggested.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when Lord D'Abernon was in Brazil with the British mission only a few months ago he inspected the site and gave a definite opinion upon it to the right hon. Gentleman's Department?
That is very likely, but the facts are as I have stated, and it is facts and not opinions which have to, be acted upon.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these very facts—which I do not dispute—were investi- gated by Lord D'Abernon at the request of his own Department and an opinion given on them to his Department?
I cannot help what Lord D'Abernon's opinion is. The opinion of the Department, which is responsible for carrying through the undertaking, is as I have stated.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman communicate with the authorities in Rio with a view to bringing this deadlock to an end?
If the hon. and -gallant Gentleman will take the opportunity of meeting me either here or across the way at the Department, I will show him the whole of the correspondence from which he will be convinced that we are doing everything possible.
Buildings, Whitehall (Reconstruction)
asked the First Commissioner of Works whether the reconstruction at Whitehall will involve provision for an increased number of civil servants; and for how many persons accommodation will be provided?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the second part, I anticipate that it will be possible to provide accommodation in the new building for approximately 7,500 persons.
Is it still intended to proceed with this heavy expenditure?
I think you had better wait and see.
Land Registration Department
asked the Attorney-General whether he will state the numbers, grades, and duties of the staff administering the Land Registration Act, 1925, as at 18th November, 1930?
I have been asked to reply. The number at the date mentioned was 482, particulars of which I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following are the particulars;
The staff administering the Land Registration Act, 1925, as at nth November, 1930, amounted to 482 made up as follows:
|Technical Mapping Staff||95|
|Paper Keeping and Messenger Staff||84|
The Chief Land Registrar and his clerical staff and such legal and technical officers as may be required from time to time are also engaged on the work of the Land Charges Department, the Middlesex Deeds Department and the Agricultural Credits Department of His Majesty's Land Registry.
asked the Attorney-General what reason has been assigned for the fact that in 696 cases during the past 12 months the period of 14 days required for the first registration and advertisement of applications in non-compulsory areas under the Land Registration Act and rules has been exceeded; and will he cause an examination to be made into the working of the Department, with the object of eliminating delay in delivery of final documents to the public?
There are two main reasons for such delay:
Board Of Agriculture
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in connection with the augmentation of staff necessitated by the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill, arrangements will be made for the inclusion of an adequate proportion of women on the administrative arid technical staff and on any machinery which the Minister may set up for the purpose of carrying out the proposals in the Bill?
I fully appreciate the importance of the part which women must play in the success of the various projects embodied in the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill, and I can assure the Noble Lady that the desirability of allocating an adequate place to women in the staff and organisation which it will be necessary to bring into existence for carrying out the provisions of the Bill will not be overlooked.
asked the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to state when the Government is likely to proceed with any measure of electoral reform?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 10th November in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Sir G. Penny).
May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman can assure the House that he will not depart from his usual policy of complete muddle?
National And Tate Galleries
46. The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of
To ask the Prime Minister whether he will consider adding to the Bill to enable the trustees of the National Gallery to lend their pictures a clause to empower the trustees to sell such pictures and drawings now stored at the National Gallery as may be declared to be only of slight interest and not usually exhibited, and to use the proceeds of sale for the purchase of other works of art of greater interest and suitable for permanent exhibition.
May I be allowed to make a small correction in the terms of this question, and after the words "National Gallery" add the words "and Tate Gallery."
The effect of the hon. Member's proposal might not be advantageous, and, in any event, it will not be possible to deal with it in the forthcoming Bill about loans of pictures overseas.
Solicitors (Fraudulent Conversion)
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the losses caused by the frauds of solicitors convicted in the criminal courts, he will give facilities for an agreed Bill, based upon an amalgamation of the two Bills recently introduced by private Members into the House, for the purpose of protecting the public against losses arising from frauds by solicitors convicted in the criminal courts?
I believe that the position as regards an agreed Bill is still as indicated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Louth on 17th July last. In any ease, I regret that, at this stage of the Session, I cannot undertake to give facilities for any Private Member's Bill.
Fabric Glove Industry (Wages)
asked the Minister of Labour if she can state the amount paid in wages to workers in the fabric glove industry during the months of October, 1929, and October, 1930, respectively?
I regret that the figures desired are not available.
Could the hon. Gentleman give any indication of the state of affairs in this industry as regards wages?
I can only repeat that the figures are not available.
Has the hon. Gentleman any knowledge as to the wages paid to the individual workers—sweated wages?
Washington Hours Conven Tion
asked the Minister of Labour which of the countries that have unconditionally ratified the Washington Hours Convention of 1919 have already actually passed legislation to carry out the proposals therein contained?
I would refer the hon. Member to the second part of the reply given on 21st November to the hon. Member for Newcastle East (Sir R. Aske).
Poor Law (Old Age Pensioners)
asked the Minister of Health if he will state what action he proposes to take with regard to the resolution he has received from the Chester, Walsall, and other old age pensions committees in regard to deductions made from old age pensioners in Poor Law institutions?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on the 13th November to the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Shepherd) on the same subject.
Contributory Pensions Act
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the children of a marriage in which the wife subsequently finds it necessary to divorce her husband are not entitled to any financial benefit on the death of their father, whose second wife., however, is in receipt of a widow's pension; and whether he will take steps to enable pensions to be granted to children so placed?
The hon. Member appears to be under a misapprehension, since in the circumstances mentioned allowances would be payable in respect of the children of the first marriage in addition to the widow's pension payable to the second wife.
Mentally Defective Children (Recorns)
asked the President of the Board of Education if local education authorities compile complete records of the careers of children after leaving school who have been segregated for education purposes in schools for the mentally defective?
The Board urge all local education authorities which provide schools for mentally defective children to compile records of the after careers of children who have left, so far as they are able, and nearly all authorities do so; but they are not in a position to ensure that these records shall be complete. An analysis of the records for seven areas will be found in paragraph 88 of the report of the Board's Chief Medical Officer for 1925.
asked the President of the Board of Education if he can give the percentage increase in the number of children in attendance at elementary schools who were between the ages of 9 and 11 years of age on 31st March, 1930, over the number of children of similar age on 31st March, 1928, and the percentage increase in the number of free places in secondary schools available on 1st September,]928, and 1st September, 1930, respectively?
The number of pupils between the ages of 9 and 11 in public elementary schools maintained by local education authorities, as on 31st March, 1930, represents an increase of 41.8 per cent. over the corresponding number as on 31st March, 1928. The number of free places in secondary schools awarded at the beginning of the school year 1930–31 represents an increase of 20.8 per cent. over the corresponding number awarded at the beginning of the school year 1928–29.
Will my hon. Friend draw the attention of the local education authorities to the effect on this matter of what is known as the bulge, and urge the local authorities to make additional provision?
I will bear that suggestion in mind.
School Attendance Bill
asked the President of the Board of Education if he has any figures to show how many extra persons will be employed (such as carpenters, bricklayers, slaters, teachers, etc.) under the Education (School Attendance) Bill?
My right hon. Friend has estimated that by the time the full additional age group is in the schools, some 8,000 additional teachers will be required in 1932–33 as a result of raising the school-leaving age; but he has not formed any estimate of the number of other persons who will be employed as a result of the provision to be made for educating the 'additional children.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary not think it is time that some estimate was formed of the additional charge in view of the Bill now before the House?
That is not the function of the Board of Education.
Is it not an Education Bill?
asked the Minister of Labour how many aliens are registered as unemployed at Employment Exchanges in this country?
I regret that statistics giving the information desired are not available.
Is there any possibility of getting this information by any further application?
I am afraid not. As a matter of fact, the only interest which the Ministry of Labour has in these matters is as to whether the person is insurable and whether he is insured.
asked the Minister of Health how many aliens were in receipt of Poor Law relief on the last available date?
My right hon. Friend regrets that this information is not available.
Could the hon. Lady state whether any aliens are drawing unemployment relief in this country?
I am afraid I cannot say. I have answered the question on the Paper.
asked the Home Secretary whether a record is kept of the names, addresses and occupations of all aliens registered with the police in this country; and whether he will consider the desirability of publishing in tabulated form the number of aliens now engaged in each occupation, respectively, and the number of those unemployed?
The particulars specified in the first paragraph are among those with which aliens must provide the Registration Officer when registering under Article 6 of the Aliens Order. The records are not tabulated so as to show occupations, and no purpose commensurate with the expense would be served by making a change in this respect. My right hon. Friend regrets he is unable to take the course suggested in the last part of the question.
Income Tax Assessments (Tithe)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, on country estates, each owning many Schedule A income tax assessments, a large amount of tithe is being redeemed on an annuity basis; that it has been the practice of owners paying, under Board of Agriculture orders, such a consolidated tithe to agree with inspectors that such tithe he set off in each parish against one sufficiently large Schedule A assessment., thus saving the adjustment of many small sums of tithe, and that this system has worked well in the past; and why, in connection with the revaluation now pending, instructions have recently been issued to inspectors forbidding them to enter into such agreed arrangements, having in view the amount of clerical work thereby involved on the part of tax inspectors and landowners?
My right hon. Friend is aware of the practice referred to by the hon. Member. He is advised, however, that it gives rise to considerable practical difficulties, and, while it had certain advantages in the past, these advantages largely disappeared with the stabilisation of the tithe rent charge.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this new instruction will increase the staff in the Department very materially; and, as this House is anxious for economy, will he reconsider the matter?
This is a very highly technical and complicated matter, and, if the hon. Member wishes to pursue it, perhaps he would like to take it up with the Inland Revenue Department. In that case, I shall be happy to make arrangements.
Have these instructions, in fact, been given in consequence of the pending re-valuation?
I have nothing to add to what I have said.
Social Services (Cost)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the cost per head of population of social services in Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Italy, respectively, in 1929?
With regard to this country the usual annual return will be available shortly. I regret that I cannot give the particulars far foreign countries.
Would it not be very desirable that the Treasury should ascertain these figures?