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Commons Chamber

Volume 256: debated on Tuesday 22 September 1931

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 22nd September, 1931.

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

Oral Answers To Questions

Coal Industry

Automatic Gas Detectors

2.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he can state the position with regard to the inquiry into the use of automatic gas alarms in gaseous mines?

The series of pit trials of a newly constructed detector, decided upon by my predecessor, are in progress.

Can the hon. Gentleman say when these gas alarm trials ate likely to be completed?

The arrangement made by my predecessor for the trials was only made on the 13th August. The trials are being made by arrangement with the manufacturers and with the co-operation of a colliery company in Yorkshire. I cannot say how soon the trials will have their results, but I shall be glad to inform the hon. Member as soon as I can.

European Coal Owners (Conference)

3.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he can give the House any information with regard to the conference of European coal owners convened by the Central Council of Coal Owners; and what is the purpose of the conference?

I am informed that the Central Council have invited the organisations representative of the colliery owners in the principal coal-producing countries of Europe to a conference to be held in London on the 30th September to discuss the possibility of formulating arrangements for regulating the supply and conditions of supply of coal so as to secure a more stable and more economic basis of operation for the coal mining industry in the various countries.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Department will be represented at this conference and whether the interests of the British coal miners will be safeguarded?

My hon. Friend will understand that the arrangements for this conference have been made by the colliery owners themselves. I have no power of intervention unless I am asked to intervene, nor have I power to ask for the miners to be represented. Of course when, later on, the whole question comes up for consideration at Geneva, then all the several interests will have their proper representation.

But is the hon. Member aware that this conference is largely the result of the recommendations of the Scandinavian delegation, and having regard to the interest manifested by the Department in this international conference would it not be wise to have the Department represented?

Of course, if the Department are invited to be represented, I shall be happy to comply, but I have no power to dictate in what is to all intents and purposes a private conference.

Pit Horses And Ponies

4.

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he has considered representations submitted from miners' lodges, churches, and various kinds of societies and organisations, during recent months, supporting proposals for a single-shift working day for pit horses and ponies; for improving regulations to provide better lighted roadways of adequate height and width, and properly laid, and without holes being cut between sleepers, to allow the animals to work in greater comfort and less danger; for a regulation prohibiting the use of ponies on steep inclines, and also the practice of attaching horses and ponies in front of loaded tubs going downhill; and the training of boys for at least one year before they are certified to take charge of a pony underground for driving purposes; and whether he intends to take steps immediately to adopt these reforms?

I have not yet had opportunity to consider these representations in detail, but generally I am aware of their purport. As my predecessors have done, I shall reinforce by my personal attention the unremitting efforts of my Department to ensure that the present standard, which generally, to the credit of the industry, is a good one, shall be maintained and where necessary improved.

Is it the intention of the hon. Gentleman to follow the official inquiry made into these matters by his predecessor, with a view to further improvements?

I thought my answer implied that. I have reason to believe that at all these collieries proper inspections are being made, and wherever action is necessary it will be taken.

Has the hon. Gentleman in his mind the question of compulsory orders for sufficient height and width of roadways for ponies and traffic to pass?

That is a question of detail, which I would prefer to be put upon the Order Paper.

Harton Coal Company (Royalties And Local Rates)

5.

asked the Secretary for Mines the average cost per ton for coal mined by the Harton Coal Company, South Shields, in their Harton, St. Hilda and Westoe, Boldon and Marsden pits of royalties and local rates, respectively?

This information is not in my possession. But in any case I am precluded from disclosing information with respect to a particular undertaking unless the owner of the undertaking consents.

Pit-Head Baths

6.

asked the Secretary for Mines how many schemes for pit-head baths are now in process of erection; how many are under consideration; and whether any alteration of policy is anticipated?

Pit-head Baths under Mining Industry Act, 1926.
Baths so far completed67
Baths (including extensions) in respect of which tenders have been approved48
Baths in respect of which preliminary plans have been approved43
Total158

As regards the last part of the question, I have no reason to anticipate any alteration in the present policy of the Miners' Welfare Committee in erecting baths as rapidly as possible so long as funds permit.

Miners' Welfare Fund

7.

asked the Secretary for Mines what is the total expenditure to date out of the Welfare Fund; and is any alteration of policy anticipated?

The total payments made out of the Miners' Welfare Fund to 18th September, 1931, amounted to £9,147,801. No alteration of policy has been under consideration, as a Committee of inquiry was appointed in July last.

I understand that the Committee has made certain preliminary arrangements. It was only appointed in July by my predecessor, under the chairmanship of Viscount Chelmsford, and I have no report as to their progress, but I shall obtain that later.

The terms of reference were these:

"To inquire how far the objects of Section 20 of the Mining Industry Act, 1920, have been met, what remains to be done, and whether the scope of the fund and the existing machinery for its administration as defined in that Section and as developed in practice are satisfactory for the future; and to report on all these matters with particular reference to the question of the amount and duration of the levy in the future."

Coal Mines Act

8.

asked the Secretary for Mines Whether he is aware that a colliery near Barnsley which has been idle for about two years still has an allocation quota of 80,000 tons per annum; and whether, seeing that the workmen who worked at the colliery reside mainly within the Darton council's area, he will introduce amending legislation to ensure this 80,000 tons remaining within the locality to which it belongs?

I am aware of the action taken in this case, which is not contrary to the provisions of the Act. I can hold out no hope of amending legislation.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor promised in this House to consider amending the Act when he had obtained sufficient evidence whereupon to base his case?

Before the hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask whether this is not another instance of the dislocation of the mining industry through the Coal Mines Act?

In reply to the first supplementary question, I think the reply that I have given as to the possibility of future legislation is in almost identical terms to the reply given by my predecessor.

Is it not the case that the coalowners in Yorkshire have no desire to amend the Act?

Bechuanaland

Masarava Tribe

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has yet received a report from the commissioner appointed to investigate the conditions of the Masarwa tribe in Bechuanaland?

Mr M Segolodi

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs the grounds on which Mr. M. Segolodi, who recently acted as guide and interpreter to a mission of investigation in Bechuanaland which included a member of the faculty of the Witwatersrand University, has been banished from his home by the protectorate administration?

The High Commissioner for South Africa has reported that, acting under Bechuanaland Protectorate Proclamation No. 15 of 1907, he recently authorised the Resident Commissioner to issue an order to Moanaphuti Segolodi to confine himself within the limits of those parts of the Protectorate which lie outside the Bamangwato Reserve. The High Commissioner took this action on the ground that it had been shown to his satisfaction that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the continued residence of Moanaphuti in the Bamangwato Reserve, where his actions have aroused strong opposition on the part of the tribe, involved danger to the peace of the Protectorate. I may add that it would not be correct to say that this action was taken because Moanaphuti accompanied the party referred to in the hon. Member's question.

Imperial Economic Conference

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can give any further information as to the date when the Imperial Economic Conference will be held at Ottawa?

Can the hon. Member say whether the Canadian Government have made any announcement at all as to when the Conference will be held?

Trade And Commerce

Food And Drink Imports

12.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total declared value of the retained imports of articles of food and drink into the United Kingdom, giving the particulars separately relating to Empire and non-Empire countries for the years 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1917, 1928, 1929, and 1930?

As the answer involves a number of figures

The total declared value of the retained imports of articles of food and drink into the United Kingdom during the years specified was given on Tuesday last in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose. Similar particulars, distinguishing the retained imports consigned from British and foreign countries, respectively, have not been calculated in respect of the whole period, but the following table shows, so far as the information is available, the value of the retained imports of articles of food and drink into the United Kingdom consigned from British and foreign countries respectively, and the proportions of the total imports of these commodities that were consigned from these countries. Throughout the period the retained imports amounted to over 90 per cent. of the total imports from both British and foreign countries.

Imports of Food and Drink into the United Kingdom.

Retained Imports.Proportion of Total Imports.
Year.From British Countries.From Foreign CountriesFrom Britis Countries.From Foreign Countries.
Million £.Million £.Per cent.Per cent.
191128·571·5
191229·570·5
191371·6199·526·973·1
191428·871·2
191733·566·5
1928184·1302·638·661·4
1929175·4316·336·463·6
1930164·7271·938·361·7

Note.—Owing to territorial changes the figures for 1928 onwards are not strictly comparable with those for earlier years. In particular, the figures for 1928 to 1930 relate to imports into Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including those from the Irish Free State, while the figures for 1911 to 1917 relate to imports into the British Isles as a whole and, therefore, include imports into Southern Ireland from countries abroad.

Tobacco And Brewing Industries

14 and 15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the total amount of capital invested in the tobacco industry of Great Britain;

(2) the total amount of capital invested in the breweries of Great Britain?

Unemployed Shipping

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of British shipping unemployed and laid up in port, either in numbers of vessels or in tonnage?

According to the quarterly returns issued by the Chamber of Shipping, at 1st July last, 743 vessels of a total tonnage of 2,018,255 tons were laid up at ports of Great Britain and Ireland.

I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL, REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Balance Of Trade

17.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is taking any and, if so, what steps to carry out the recommendation contained in paragraph 417 of the Macmillan Report, that the figures of the trade balance of this country, published by the Board, should be placed on a more exact basis?

Inquiries are now being made with, a view to securing as much information as is immediately available regarding the balance of trade, and careful consideration will be given, as soon as circumstances permit, to the more detailed recommendations of the Macmillan Committee.

Can the right hon. Gentleman make a statement now as to when he is likely to be in a position to make a report of the decision to the House?

I am not sure that I follow the hon. Gentleman. This is a question which asks whether certain recommendations of the Macmillan Committee are being carried out. We are engaged at the moment in getting the most detailed and accurate information that we can. The Macmillan Committee made certain recommendations about detailed statistics of acceptances and so on of foreign issues and sinking funds being made available in this country. It will he very desirable that this information should be available for one's calculations, and as soon as we have collected the information, we want to go on and see what we can do.

What, in the opinion of the Government, would be the effect of every country securing a favourable balance of trade?

Shale-Oil Industry

44 and 51.

asked (1) the Prime Minister whether the proposals submitted to him by the late President of the Board of Trade with regard to the shale-oil industry were considered by him and with what result;

(2) the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can state the date on which proposals for a quota for home-produced oil were submitted to the Treasury; whether they were brought to his attention; and with what result?

I have been asked to reply. The proposals in question were communicated to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a letter dated 11th August, and a copy was sent to the Treasury on the following day. By that time all the Ministers concerned were wholly absorbed in discussions on the financial situation.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether on the 12th August a letter was not personally directed to him by the President of the Board of Trade, whether he had an opportunity of reading it, and with what result?

I did not receive a letter from the President of the Board of Trade on 12th August. I believe that such a letter was addressed to the Prime Minister on that date, but the proposals were not received by the Treasury until 15th August. As I have already stated in reply to the question on the Paper, at that time I and other Ministers were wholly absorbed in considering the financial situation.

I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for having cleared up that point. May I ask if those proposals are to be considered by the Government?

This question does not really fall within my province. It is a matter for the Minister of Mines in the first place, then the President of the Board of Trade, and then the Cabinet.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether this matter is not now before the Treasury and the Prime Minister, and will it receive the consideration of the Government?

I cannot speak for the Government. I can speak only for my own Department. [Interruption.] As far as I am concerned, it is not a Departmental Treasury matter.

With great respect I rise to a point of Order. This is an important point. In the Debate on the Income Tax last week the right hon. Gentleman stated to the House that he had not received any communication from the Board of Trade with regard to this matter, and that point has now been cleared up. On this point I submit, Mr. Speaker, that I have a right to put this further question to the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the fact that the matter is before the Government, will the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has replied on behalf of the Prime Minister, ascertain whether the Government propose to consider this question at the earliest opportunity?

British Army

Mechanisation

18.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office, whether any change is contemplated in the programme for mechanisation of the Army, in view of the financial situation?

There is no programme. The mechanisation of the Army in the past has been governed from year to year by the financial and other considerations involved, and in taking any further decisions full regard will be had to the present financial situation.

Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell me in a little more detail; is the War Office going on building tanks?

There is no alteration in this year's programme whatever. The question of what we shall do next year will have to be settled when we draw up the Army Estimates for the coming year.

Will the hon. Gentleman recommend to his leader that he should adopt here the same policy that he has adopted in regard to the other economies?

Personnel

19.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether any reduction in the number of generals, lieutenant-generals, major-generals and brigadiers is contemplated in view of the financial situation?

The present Government have followed the late Government in accepting the conclusion of the May Committee that the present strength of the Army is no more than adequate for requirements under present world conditions. In these circumstances, there is no reason for any reduction in the numbers of the senior ranks of officers who are not more than sufficient to supply suitable incumbents of command and staff appointments.

Is not this matter to be reconsidered in view of the announcement yesterday that the proposed cuts in soldiers' pay are to be reduced and economies sought in other directions?

I do not see that that has any bearing whatever on the number of personnel.

Is it proposed to reduce the pensions of generals and others who have retired?

Butter

20.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if, in view of the fact that British soldiers are to receive a daily ration of one and a-half ounces of butter during their sojourn in Manchester for the forthcoming military tattoo at Belle Vue, the butter supplied will be of home or Empire origin; and whether the butter normally issued as rations to the Army is exclusively of home or Empire origin?

Butter does not form part of the ration normally issued to the Army, but at the discretion of the commanding officer it may be purchased regimentally out of the allowance in lieu of rations. The attention of commanding officers has been called to the desirability of purchasing produce of British origin. I am informed by the organisers of the Belle Vue Tattoo that all the supplies issued to the troops taking part in the tattoo will be products of the United Kingdom or some other part of the Empire.

Ceremonial Uniforms

21.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether, in view of the Prime Minister's statement as to the need for national economy, he will prohibit the use of expensive ceremonial uniforms, which cannot be of value under Service conditions?

The Household Cavalry and Foot Guards are the only units supplied with ceremonial uniforms, and no change is contemplated.

Tinned Fruit

22.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office the amount of foreign tinned fruit that was supplied to the Army during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date?

Tinned fruit does not form part of the soldier's ration and is purchased by the War Office only to meet the requirements of the Air Force overseas and of hospitals at home. Preference is given as far as possible to products of the United Kingdom or other parts of the Empire, and approximately 87 per cent. of the tinned fruit purchased by the Department during the past 12 months was of home or Dominion origin.

Is it the intention of the Government to supply 100 per cent, of either Empire or home-produced tinned fruit?

Eighty-seven per cent. is a high proportion, and the Army Council and the people responsible feel that they are obliged to consult the special demands of people who may, for some reason of their own, wish for some other fruit than that of Dominion origin.

National Finance

Army Pay

23.

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware of the following hard cases due to cuts in the Army pay: where a private soldier who joined before 1925 and draws 3s. 6d. a day, being 2s. 9d. for pay and 9d. after two years' service, i.e., since 1927, is now being reduced to 2s., a cut of nearly 43 per cent.; where a private soldier pre-1925, who draws 4s. a day, is being reduced to 2s. 3d. a day, a cut of over 43 per cent.; and also the case of officers with more than six years' service and less than 15 years' service, and drawing £319 a year, are losing £61 a year, a cut of 18 per cent.; and whether he will look into these cases and see whether the cuts can be more evenly distributed?

My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that his figures, which were not in fact correct as regards the private soldier, are now out of date, in view of the answer given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight). A comprehensive statement with regard to the effect of the new decision will be made as soon as possible.

Can my hon. Friend say that there will now be no cuts in soldiers' pay of more than 10 per cent.?

Will the new cuts also be applicable to majors and officers of higher standing?

If the figures are out of date, are not the percentages also wrong, because they do not include maintenance and clothing?

Are we to understand that the cuts in the salaries of the higher ranks are to be reduced to 10 per cent.?

No; the position is that no reduction in pay which will be effected by putting the whole Army on the 1925 rates of pay will now produce a reduction in any particular person's pay by more than 10 per cent. of what he was receiving before.

They will not be affected in the same way because the rates in the higher ranks were not changed in 1925 from the 1919 figures.

State Pensions

46.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is now able to state the result of his inquiries as to the method of carrying out the declared intention of the Government to secure equality of sacrifice by reducing the present charge of £5,000 per annum on the national Exchequer on account of the payment to the recipient of the Earl Nelson pension?

I am not able to add, at present, to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on Tuesday last.

I am in communication with these persons, and I will give the hon. Member an answer as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider taxing the reserves of co-operative societies?

Gold Standard

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government will consider the advisability of proposing to the Council of the League of Nations that a conference of countries on the Gold Standard should be called with a view to taking joint action to deal with the present economic situation?

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government will call together immediately a world conference on gold?

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement which I made of the Government's policy in this matter in the course of my speech yesterday.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say which countries are resisting a conference of this kind?

In view of the present situation, does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer think that international consideration of this question is desirable, and cannot this country take the initiative?

I cannot add anything to what I said yesterday when I dealt with this matter fully. It is no use inviting people to a conference unless you have some assurance beforehand that they will be likely to respond.

Fiduciary Note Issue

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how long it is intended to keep the fiduciary note issue at the figure of £275,000,000?

In view of the fact that the note issue was based on sterling at its pre-War parity, has not a case been made out for substantially increasing the note issue?

I should be very glad to receive a statement of the case from the hon. Member.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman receive a statement on behalf of the party in February, and he took no notice of it?

Co-Operative Societies (Income Tax)

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider subjecting the income derived from the reserves of co-operative societies, irrespective of the particular mode of investment and any net profits which are not actually returned periodically to members by way of dividend or discount on purchases, to Income Tax charges in the present Budget?

The hon. Member will appreciate that I cannot at this stage add to the proposals sanctioned by the House in the Budget resolutions.

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will, when conducting the promised examination into the question of taxation to be paid by co-operative societies, give special attention to the large increase in their turnover, amounting to £13,000,000 during the past year, and to the loss of revenue caused by the absorption in these societies of small businesses which previously had paid Income Tax?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Campbell) on the 17th September. I am not aware that an examination into the question of the taxation of co-operative societies has been promised, and, indeed, I doubt if one is required. If and when a new examination is undertaken, however, all relevant considerations will naturally be taken into account.

The noise was very great the other day, but some of us thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised this examination.

Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer realise the sense of grievance that is felt by private traders, in view of the serious additional burden which has now been placed upon them and which is entirely escaped by their trade rivals?

Five Per Cent War Loan

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider, in lieu of a conversion loan, the issue of premium bonds at a low rate of interest in substitution for the 5 per cent. War Stock, in view of the resultant saving in interest?

Members Oe Parliament

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in taking steps to ensure equality of sacrifice, he will consider inviting the Members of this House to surrender one-tenth of their total income during this crisis?

I think this is a matter which might best be left to individual Members of the House.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that already a cut of a similar amount has been imposed on the salaries of Members of the House; and is it true that that percentage has been imposed by the National Government at the request of wealthy Members on the other side in order to punish Members on this side?

Income Tax Payments

60.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the suggestion that teachers and other persons liable to Income Tax may be allowed to spread the increased payments over a longer period instead of having to find three-quarters of the whole year's tax by 1st January; and whether a system of stamp payment will be considered to allow of weekly contributions?

This raises a question which cannot be dealt with suitably within the limits of a Parliamentary answer, but I will look into the matter.

British Treasury Credits United States And France)

61.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the recent credits given to Britain, any conditions, political or economic, were imposed?

I desire to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, arising out of his answer "No," how he squares that answer with the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday that a reduction of the cut in unemployment benefit was impossible because of the conditions of borrowing?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that two weeks ago certain French newspapers were declaring that there were political conditions attached, particularly in regard to disarmament?

65.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to whom the commission of 1¼ per cent. on the loan of $200,000,000 obtained in the United States of America and on the 2,500,000,000 francs in France is to be payable?

This is payable to the participating banks and banking houses in the United States and France, respectively.

Foreign Currencies (Purchases)

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if any further steps have been taken by His Majesty's Government to prevent the purchase of foreign currencies by British subjects resident in Great Britain for purposes other than those of trade or similar approved objects?

The Treasury have to-day made an Order under Section 1 (3) of the Gold Standard (Amendment) Act, 1931, that until further notice purchases of foreign exchange, or transfers of funds with the object of acquiring such exchange directly or indirectly, by British subjects or persons resident in the United Kingdom shall be prohibited except for the purpose of financing

  • (1) normal trading requirements,
  • (2) contracts existing before 21st September, 1931,
  • (3) reasonable travelling or other personal purposes.
  • I am glad to say that the British banks and foreign banks in London are willingly co-operating in making this Order operative.

    Has my right hon. Friend any information as to the amount of money that has been exchanged by British nationals, apart altogether from the requirements of trade and other purposes?

    I would refer the hon. Member to what I said on that point in my speech yesterday.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman alive to the fact that an embargo on foreign loans, or a prohibition of the purchase of foreign stocks, hits the export trades of this country at the same time as is affects sterling?

    I think I am fairly well aware, if I may say so, of all the relevant facts.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of talk in all circles about the amount of national money that was transferred, and could he give a more circumstantial reply, instead of a mere negative?

    I would advise the hen. Member not to pay attention to wild statements.

    Foreign Sterling Balances

    64.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he bas taken steps to carry out the recommendations of the Macmillan Committee with regard to ascertaining the amount of foreign balances and foreign liquid assets held in London in sterling and publishing the aggregate at monthly intervals; and, if so, with what result?

    The Bank of England are obtaining the figures; but, in present circumstances, it would not I think be in the public interest to publish them.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not that information was in the possession either of the Bank or of the Treasury at the time of the crisis three weeks ago?

    French War Debt

    68.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will state the amount of the French War Loan raised in this country during the War; and how much of this sum has been cancelled, either as the result of the Balfour Note or any other agreement.?

    The net War Debt of France to His Majesty's Government at the date of funding amounted to £600,006,000. No part of the Debt was cancelled, but by the Funding Agreement of I2th July, 1926 (Command Paper 2692) the Debt was settled on terms which are equivalent, on a 5 per cent. basis, to the remission of about two-thirds of the Debt.

    Scotland

    Housing (Johnstone, Renfrew)

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether all outstanding claims for payment for certain contracts in conection with houses built in the burgh of Johnstone, in the county of Renfrew, under the 1919 Housing Act have yet been met; and, if not, whether he will state the reasons therefor?

    I am informed that all claims for payment by contractors in connection with the scheme referred to have been met except in the cases of the brick, joiner and plumber work contracts. As regards the brick and joiner work contracts, the failure to adjust the final accounts is due to the long illness and recent death of the contractor, but it is hoped to reach a settlement at; an early date. In the case of the plumber work contract, the final accounts have been adjusted except for certain items to which the Department of Health for Scotland, in their examination of the accounts for purposes of State subsidy, have taken exception. An early meeting is being arranged between the local authority and the officials of the Department with a view to a settlement.

    Moray Firth (Foreign Trawlers)

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any statement to make in connection with trawling by foreign vessels in the Moray Firth?

    No, Sir, but I 'am fully alive to the importance of this matter, and it is engaging my earnest attention.

    May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has any report under his consideration, actively or otherwise, and whether he is aware that depredations by foreign trawlers continue to the detriment of our own fishermen?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Home Secretary to prepare a new coat of arms for the new Secretary of State for Scotland?

    Are we to understand that in this Department particularly there is to be continuity of policy?

    Mark Trust

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can state what is the present position with regard to the recommendations of the Educational Endowments Commission in connection with the Marr Trust?

    It is understood that the Educational Endowments Commissioners are adjusting a scheme for the Marr Trust before they submit it to the Scottish Education Department in terms of Section 20 of the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act, 1928.

    Poor Law Relief

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total amount paid out by public assistance committees in Edinburgh and Leith for the year ending on the latest convenient date; and will he give similar information for the preceding three years, showing the numbers of persons in each period?

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

    I could give the hon. Member the gross totals. They are: For the year ending 15th May, 1928, £332,000, roughly; 1929, £326,000, roughly; 1930, £339,000, roughly; 1931, £264,000, roughly.

    Following is the answer:

    The expenditure on aliments to the outdoor poor in Edinburgh (including Leith) for the years ended 15th May, 1931, 1930, 1929 and 1928, was:

    Ordinary Poor.Destitute able-bodied unemployed poor.
    Year ended 15th May—££
    1931109,88582,573
    1930104,664143,904
    1929103,566156,595
    1928101,795170,610

    The cost of indoor relief in corresponding years was as follows:

    Both ordinary and destitute able-bodied poor.
    Year ended 15th May:
    £
    193171,236
    193090,211
    192966,093
    192859,491

    The total expenditure on both outdoor and indoor relief for each of the years in question was as follows:

    Year ended 15th May:
    £
    1931263,696
    1930338,779
    1929326,254
    1928331,896

    The total number of persons relieved in the various years is not available. The

    Outdoor Poor.Indoor Poor.
    Ordinary Poor.Destitute ablebodied unemployed poor.Ordinary Poor.Destitute ablebodied unemployed poor.
    Poor persons.Depts.Poor persons.Depts.Poor persons.Depts.Poor persons.Depts.
    At 15th May, 19313,9333,0022,4755,7821,17715159
    At 15th May, 19304,5673,0021,7963,2021,26431186
    At 15th May, 19294.5183,2973,8147,7831,32330273
    At 15th May, 19283,6062,8233,8107,3931,26639261

    Teachers' Salaries, Edinburgh

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of teachers in the Edinburgh Corporation area who will be affected by the contemplated cuts in remuneration; and what is the total amount of their annual salaries at the existing scales?

    The Department are informed that the Corporation of Edinburgh propose that the existing scales of salaries of teachers in the day schools of their area shall be subjected to a flat rate reduction in all grades. The number of teachers in the service of the Edinburgh Corporation on the 31st March whose services were recorded for the purposes of the Superannuation Scheme for Teachers (Scotland) Act was 1,944. The salary bill for the year ended 31st March, 1931, in respect of teachers whose service under the corporation was recorded for superannuation purposes was £572,537.

    Arising out of the reference to what the Edinburgh Corporation propose in respect of a cut, may we take it that the right hon. Gentleman is not going on the assumption that that cut is now to remain, in view of the fact that the national cut is being reduced from 15 per cent. to 10 per cent.?

    No, Sir. I did not refer to the amount of tile cut, but to the method of imposing it—a flat rate reduction.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the settlement referred to is a reduction of 10 per

    following are the numbers of sane poor chargeable at 15th May in each year:

    cent. and 2 per cent. in two stages, and will not that be reconsidered in view of the decision yesterday?

    I was referring not to the amount of the cut, but to the method of imposing it, which is to be a flat rate for all grades.

    Unemployment

    Transitional Benefit (Kettering)

    31.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of persons within the area of the Kettering Employment Exchange at present in receipt of transitional unemployment benefit who under the Government's proposals will be referred to the public assistance committee for the calculation of their rate of benefit; and whether, in the case of persons living with their parents or relatives, old age pensions and earnings of other members of the family will have to be taken into account by the public assistance committee when deciding the amount of need of the unemployed persons?

    At, 24th August, 1931, there were 125 men and 29 women on the register of the Kettering Employment Exchange, with claims authorised for transitional benefit. In regard to the latter part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to a reply which I gave to a similar question by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. R. A. Taylor) on the 15th instant.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman reply to the question on the Order Paper and include all persons who have at present received 26 weeks' benefit?

    The answer I have given does answer specifically the question on the Order Paper. There is another question on the Paper to-day dealing with the 26 weeks' period.

    Needs Test

    33.

    asked the Minister of Labour if it is proposed that the new provisions as to a means test apply to all those now on transitional benefit, those on standard benefit who exhaust their present benefit period between now and January, 1931, and those on standard benefit who by January, 1932, will have exhausted 26 or more weeks of their period?

    As stated in the White Paper Cmd. 3952, the needs test will apply to persons now drawing transitional benefit and to those coming on to transitional payments in future, including those who do so because they have reached the 26 weeks' limit of insurance benefit.

    It is not quite clear how that answer applies to the last clause of the question on the Paper. May I ask definitely whether those are included who are referred to in that last clause, that is, those who are on standard benefit but who by January, 1932, will have exhausted 26 weeks or more of their benefit?

    I confess I was unable to appreciate why that particular month was put in the question, but I would remind the hon. Lady that I made a statement on this point in the early hours of this morning, and, if she will be good enough to read what I said then, I think she will find it is quite clear to her.

    34.

    asked the Minister of Labour what instructions or regulations have been issued to public assistance committees respecting the needs test for transitional payments to claimants who have already received 26 weeks' benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts?

    No such instructions or regulations have yet been issued. Regulations are now under consideration and will be laid before Parliament in due course.

    In framing the regulations will the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the position of thrifty individuals who may own a portion of the house in which they live or who have small savings and who, if the Poor Law test is applied, will have to become absolutely destitute before they can receive assistance?

    Yes, we will bear that and all relevant points in mind; and, as I have said, the regulations will be laid before Parliament.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to discuss these regulations while they are being drawn up with representatives of the organised unemployed?

    Scientific And Industrial Research

    35.

    asked the Lord President of the Council whether the Industrial Research Department carries out investigations on behalf of private firms or companies; if so, under what authority it does so; how many such investigations have been made during recent years; and whether fees are charged?

    The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research carries out special investigations for private firms and companies on repayment, under conditions which have been approved from time to time by my predecessors and by His Majesty's Treasury, and in accordance with provision made annually in the estimates of the Department. Particulars of the numbers of such investigations undertaken in recent years are not available, but the estimated receipts of the Department during the current financial year on this account amount to £22,500 approximately. This sum does not include test fees or contributions made by private firms, companies and individuals towards the cost of investigations in- cluded in the normal programme of the, Department. Receipts from these sources are estimated at £53,500 in the current financial year.

    Arable Farming

    36.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the depression in agricultural areas, he will consider making it compulsory for brewers to use British-grown malting barley in all beer brewed in Great Britain; and if he will take steps to ensure that the price paid to British growers shall be not less than the world price?

    The suggestions made by the hon. Member would involve legislation, and in that connection I would refer him to the reply given by the Prime Minister on the 14th September to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite) of which I am sending him a copy.

    We are told that the brewers are very patriotic. Would not this be an acid test of their patriotism?

    India

    Rupee-Sterling Exchange

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is prepared to re-open the question of rupee-sterling parity under present circumstances?

    Since the right hon. and gallant Member put down his question, the decision to suspend gold payments in this country has been announced. In the circumstances, the Government gave immediate consideration to the policy to be adopted in regard to the rupee exchange, and, as I stated at the Round Table Conference yesterday, it has been decided to maintain the rate of 1s. 6d. sterling.

    Could I have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the cost of pegging the rupee to sterling by purchase of what I think are called reversed Council Bills will not fall upon the taxpayers of this country?

    I would ask the right hon. and gallant Member to give me notice of that question.

    Burma Round Table Conference

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is yet in a position to announce the details of the proposed Round Table Conference on Burma?

    The present position was stated in an answer to the hon. and gallant Member for South Derbyshire (Major Pole) yesterday.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman be in a position to give details of this conference if a question is put to him on Monday next?

    I could not definitely tic myself down to a day. Certain invitations have been given, and on the question whether those invitations are accepted depends whether I shall be able to give the information on Monday; but I am anxious to make a statement, as soon as possible.

    Sudan (Education)

    40.

    asked the Cinder-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement as to the policy pursued with regard to education in the Sudan; whether this is directed towards producing an English culture and a knowledge of English or an Oriental culture and a knowledge of Arabic; or whether the question has not as vet been considered?

    The general system of education in the Sudan is definitely designed to foster indigenous culture and a knowledge of the vernacular, whether Arabic or some local language. In the Gordon College and a few schools subsidiary to it, boys are trained for careers as doctors, engineers, accountants, etc., and for this a knowledge of English is essential for practical purposes, and is therefore provided. A special Commission investigated the working of the Gordon College in 1928–1929. I shall be glad to show the right hon. and gallant Gentleman a copy of the Commission's report if he so desires.

    National Maternity Service

    41.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is continuing the negotiations commenced by his predecessor on the subject of a national maternity service; and, if so, when he expects to complete them?

    I have been asked to reply. The action taken by my right hon. Friend's predecessor was in the first instance to bring this question before the Approved Societies Consultative Council. The council appointed a sub-committee the report of which is being awaited. As regards the second question my right hon. Friend regrets that, like his predecessor, he is unable to give any definite date.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the present Government ought to make up their mind more quickly?

    Cannot the right hon. Gentleman do a little better than his predecessor?

    I have the greatest possible confidence that my right hon. Friend will be able to do better.

    Disarmament Conference

    42.

    asked the Prime Minister what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the resolution submitted to the present assembly of the League of Nations by the delegations of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, calling upon Governments to abstain from any increase of their armaments pending the result of the Disarmament Conference; when a declaration of our attitude is to be made; and whether it is proposed to act upon such declaration?

    45.

    asked the Prime Minister whether, with a view to securing a definite result from the discussions about to begin in the third committee of the Assembly of the League of Nations, the Government will propose a definite plan for a truce in armament construction until after the Disarmament Conference, including a proposal not to lay down new ships of war, not to construct additional squadrons of aircraft, and not to increase expenditure on land material of war?

    These proposals are under the consideration of His Majesty's Government who are in communication with their representative at Geneva.

    Does he not think it is unfortunate that there should be this delay after the magnificent lead given by the Italian Foreign Minister?

    Fishing Industry (Inquiry)

    43.

    asked the Prime Minister if the sub-committee of the Economic Advisory Council set up to deal with the fishing industry is still in existence; and if it has finished its inquiries?

    I understand that this committee has completed its inquiry, and that the Prime Minister hopes shortly to receive its report.

    Zambesi Bridge

    53.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will cause inquiry to he made as to the probability of this country having to meet all the interest on the loan for the Zambesi Bridge as well as to refund the capital of £3,000,000; what work is already actually under way; and what it would cost to cancel the contracts that have been let?

    I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend sees no reason to alter the view, formed at the time it was decided to undertake the construction of the bridge, that the Nyasaland Government, with the assistance of the grants sanctioned from the Colonial Development Fund, will be in a position to meet the whole of the interest and sinking fund charges on the loan. By the end of July last the railway approaches, 26½miles in length, were about half finished; the buildings, etc., at the site were in course of completion; large quantities of plant and material had been collected; work had begun on nine piers; and steelwork ordered in this country was well in hand. My right hon. Friend does not consider that any useful purpose would be served by inquiring what it would cost to cancel the contracts.

    I am to understand that that is the opinion of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs? I put down this question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and not to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, who, of course, is a railway expert. Has he inquired into the finance of this matter?

    I have answered the question on behalf of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. I cannot answer for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    I put my question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish to know whether the Treasury are satisfied that this waste of money has got to go on.

    Ought not any work in this country to be carried on, in order to give employment?

    On a point of Order. I wish to know whether there is any serious unemployment among the natives on the Zambesi?

    Bank For International Settlements

    55.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will inquire whether the annual report of the Bank for International Settlements is being considered at the present time by the appropriate League of Nations committee, so as to maintain contact between world public opinion and the bank?

    I will make the inquiry suggested by the hon. Member, and will inform him of the result in due course.

    British Subjects (Holidays Abroad)

    63.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider the advisability of imposing a tax, during the continuance of the financial crisis, on all British subjects who go abroad for the purpose of holidays or amusement?

    Government Departments

    Temporary Personnel

    66.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he can assure the House, pending Government consideration of and decision on the recommendations of the Tomlin Commission in regard to the establishment of temporary male and female clerks, that discharges of temporary personnel shall be suspended?

    No, Sir. I am afraid it would be impossible for me to undertake to retain temporary personnel becoming redundant in their offices unless there is suitable work elsewhere on which they can be employed.

    Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that recruiting is still proceeding by open competitive examination for the writing assistant class; and does he regard it as reasonable to recruit women on the one hand and to turn out, men with 10 or more years' service on the other?

    As the hon. Member knows, this question is very complicated, and not suitable for discussion by way of question and answer.

    Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman be prepared to go into this matter with representatives of the staff?

    I shall be happy to discuss it with the hon. Member, but I do not want to pledge myself, at the present moment of stress, to begin to receive deputations.

    Wages

    67.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will state the number of industrial and non-industrial male and female workers employed in the various Departments of the State whose salaries, excluding emoluments, do not average for men 25s. per week in the provinces and for women 21s. 6d. per week?

    Information in the form desired by the hon. Member is not available. I am, however, causing the necessary inquiries to be made and will communicate the results to the hon. Member in due course.

    Is there a very considerable number of these women receiving just over 21s. a week in the employment of the Government?

    I have promised to get the information and communicate it to the hon. Member.

    Is there any intention of asking those women who receive less than 21s. to accept a 10 per cent. reduction?

    Negotiating Machinery

    69.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that cases have recently occurred in which the negotiating machinery set up within the Civil Service for the discussion and settlement of administrative issues has not been used; and whether it is proposed to continue to use this machinery in the future as in the past

    I am not aware of the cases which the hon. Member has in mind, but I have no reason to believe that the fullest practicable use is not made of the negotiating machinery in the Civil Service for the discussion of matters affecting the conditions of service of the staff.

    Division No. 487.]

    AYES.

    [3.45 p.m.

    Acland-Troyto, Lieut.-ColonelBirchall, Major Sir John DearmanCayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
    Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesBirkett, W. NormanCayzer, Maj Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S.)
    Albery, Irving JamesBlindell, JamesCecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)
    Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Bowater, Col. Sir T. VansittartChadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton
    Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Chamberlain. Rt. Hn. Sir J.A. (Birm-.W.)
    Allen, Lt. Col. Sir William (Armagh)Boyce, LeslieChamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)
    Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Bracken, B.Chapman, Sir S.
    Aske, Sir RobertBriscoe, Richard GeorgeChristie, J. A.
    Astor, M aj, Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)Broadbent, Colonel J.Church, Major A. G.
    Astor, ViscountessBrown, Ernest (Leith)Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
    Atkinson, C.Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Clydesdale, Marquess of
    Ballile-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.Buchan, JohnCobb, Sir Cyril
    Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T,Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George
    Balfour, George (Hampstead)Bullock, Captain MalcolmCohen, Major J. Brunel
    Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)Burton, Colonel H. W.Colfox, Major William Philip
    Balniel, LordButler, R. A.Colman, N. C. D
    Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Butt, Sir AlfredColville, Major D. J.