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Commons Chamber

Volume 307: debated on Thursday 19 December 1935

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 19th December, 1935.

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

Memorial To Admiral Of The Fleet Earl Jellicoe

(Major G. Davies) reported His Majesty's Answer to the Address, as followeth

I have received your Address praying that I will give directions that a Monument be erected at the public charge to the memory of the late Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe, as an expression of the admiration of the House of Commons for his illustrious naval career, and its gratitude for his devoted services to the State, and assuring Me that you will make good the expenses attending the same.

It is right that the Nation should honour in this way the memory of a great Admiral, whose whole life was inspired by the highest ideals of public service, and I will gladly give directions for effect to be given to your proposal.

Private Business

Edinburgh Corporation Order Confirmation Bill,

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

Perth Corporation Order Confirmation Bill [ Lords] (by Order),

Consideration deferred till Tuesday, 4th February.

Oral Answers To Questions


Borough Exchange


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that numbers of men have at times to stand outside in the rain while attending at the Walworth Road (Borough) Employment Exchange, he will consider whether some shelter can be afforded them during this waiting period in inclement weather?

Applicants at the Borough Exchange are timed to attend at quarter hourly intervals, and, apart from quite exceptional circumstances, it should not be necessary for them to wait outside provided they attend at the time previously given to them. Perhaps the hon. Member will speak to me.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having a canopy erected outside the Walworth Road (Borough) Employment Exchange to protect those waiting during inclement weather?

I shall be pleased if the hon. Member will speak to me about this so that we can discuss it.

Special Areas


asked the Minister of Labour what action the Commissioner for the special areas has taken, or proposes to take, upon the report submitted to him by a joint committee of the northeast sections of the Institute of Chemistry, the Chemical Society, and the Society of Chemical Industry?

The report covered a wide range of subjects, and, I am informed, the Commissioner is still engaged in examining them in conjunction with the many interests concerned.


asked the Minister of Labour how much of the £296,000 disbursed to date by the Commissioners of special areas has been spent in Wales; and what amount out of the £2,800,000 commitments is confined to Wales?

The answers to the two parts of the question are £110,000 and £720,000 respectively.

If the hon. Member will put down a question, I will be glad to answer it after the Recess.

23 and 24.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) the amount and purpose of any grants, made by the Commissioner for the special areas to assist the unemployed in the county borough of Sunderland;

(2) whether in view of the fact that 9,564 applicants for insurance benefit and unemployment assistance, or 39 per cent. of the unemployed or over 16 per cent. of the insured workers registered on 22nd July, 1935, at the Sunderland, Pallion, and Southwick-on-Wear employment exchanges, had been unemployed for periods of from one to five years and over and that over 5,000 of them had been unemployed for three years and over, he will ask the Commissioner for the special areas to prepare a scheme or schemes to deal specifically with unemployment in Sunderland?

As has been pointed out on previous occasions, the purpose of the Commissioners for the special areas is to promote the social improvement and industrial development of those areas. It is not part of their duty to formulate schemes designed primarily to provide employment. I am having inquiries made as to the grants from the Special Areas Fund directly attributable to the Commissioner's work in Sunderland and will send the hon. Member particulars. There are, however, other grants made by the Commissioner to national organisations, e.g., for social service or land settlement, which benefit residents in Sunderland as well as other special areas; the amount of these affecting Sunderland cannot be stated.



asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that large numbers of the unemployed in Liverpool will not be able to receive their unemployment pay for Christmas week until the holidays are over; and will he take steps to adjust this position?

The arrangements in this connection were explained in my reply of 12th December to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Woods) and will be the same at Liverpool as elsewhere.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men who are due for payment on Thursday will be paid on Tuesday, and could not the men who are due for payment on Friday be paid also on Tuesday?

This is the arrangement which, after most careful consideration, was adopted on the last occasion when Christmas fell on a Wednesday. The hon. Member will see that what he is asking means that there might be a gap between the Tuesday and the Friday.

Does this arrangement not mean that a great many of these people will have no Christmas dinner at all?


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the need of taking steps to improve the condition of the unemployed during the winter months to prevent the additional hardships resulting from cold and lack of warm clothes; and whether there are any concessions that he proposes to make with regard to a special Christmas allowance?

I cannot add to the statements which have already been made to the House on this subject.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider amending the present Unemployment Insurance Acts with a view to making eligible to draw benefit on their return all persons who leave the United Kingdom for any part of the British Empire with a view either to taking or seeking employment, provided that the number of stamps to their credit prior to leaving the country fulfil the usual statutory conditions governing payment of benefit had they stayed in the United Kingdom?

Section 3 (3) (c) of the Unemployment Insurance Act and Regulations made thereunder already deal with a certain class of persons who work abroad, and I am not aware of sufficient justification for extending these provisions to cases of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member.

Is the right hon. Gentleman giving consideration particularly to the case that has been placed before him?

I am giving consideration to that case, but the answer, as the hon. Member will see, deals with the general situation as asked by him.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Mr. W. Ainscough, of 23, Queen Street, Orrell, near Wigan, is in receipt of unemployment benefit for himself and dependant's benefit for his wife, but that, owing to the deputy umpire's decision, payment of dependants' benefit to his four children, all of whom are under 14 years of age and living with him, has been stopped; and whether he will take such legislative action as may be necessary to safeguard dependants' benefits in this and similar cases?

I am aware of the decision to which the hon. Member refers. I can give no undertaking with regard to legislative action.

Since this is a means test for unemployed on standard benefit, will the right hon. Gentleman not consider rearranging this kind of test?

I have gone into the case. As the hon. Member knows, the umpire decided that they were not the applicants' dependants, and that, of course, renders the position a difficult one.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that in 1934 female contributors to unemployment insurance drew benefits to the value of only two-fifths of the contributions paid by female contributors, whereas males drew benefits to the value of nearly three-fourths of the value of their contributions, he will ask the unemployment insurance statutory committee to report as to the advisability of increasing the scale of female benefits to the same level as that of male benefits; and further, what would be the cost of the said increase?

Representations on this matter have already been made to the committee by certain organisations, and I have no doubt that the committee will take them into consideration and in doing so will prepare estimates of the cost of any proposals that seem worthy of examination.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply to this question and to my previous question concerning the Anomalies Act, I beg to give notice that I propose to raise both questions at the earliest opportunity after the Christmas Recess.



asked the Minister of Labour whether special arrangements are made to supervise the welfare of juveniles who are transferred under the juvenile transference scheme?

Yes, Sir. The greatest care is taken to ensure that the welfare of transferred juveniles is adequately supervised. The Department is assisted in many areas by special after-care committees and by voluntary organisations. Hostels are being established in certain districts where there is difficulty in obtaining suitable lodgings. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of a memorandum issued to juvenile committees on the subjects concerned.


asked the Minister of Labour how many boys and girls were transferred to employment other than seasonal work under the juvenile transference scheme, in the period of the nine months ended 30th September, 1935; and how many returned home during that period on the ground that they were unsuitable for the vacancy?

During the period of nine months ended September, 1935, 3,059 boys and 2,894 girls were transferred to employment other than seasonal work. During the same period, 81 boys and 119 girls returned home on the ground that they were unsuitable for the vacancy.


asked the Minister of Labour the number of juveniles who have been transferred under his auspices during this year from distressed areas to work in Birmingham; and whether the applicants for transfer exceed the facilities he has available for their accommodation?

During the current year 393 juveniles have been transferred from areas scheduled under the Ministry's juvenile transference scheme to employment in Birmingham. These transferences have taken place under the auspices of the local education authority which exercises choice of employment powers under Section 81 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, in Birmingham. No difficulty has been hitherto experienced in obtaining suitable accommodation for these juveniles. It is proposed, however, shortly to establish a small hostel where boys can be accommodated for a short period until arrangements are made to place them in approved lodgings.

In view of the great need for additional juvenile labour in Birmingham, will my right hon. Friend do all he can to bring in more juveniles from the distressed areas?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the application of the means test to parents who wish to follow their children militates against the transfer of large numbers of young persons?



asked the Minister of Labour whether it is his intention to institute work schemes for Liverpool; and would he be prepared financially to assist the Liverpool Corporation in the construction of an underground electric passenger service for that city?

My Department has no powers or funds for this purpose. The particular scheme referred to is one for consideration in the first instance by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Transport, but I am informed that it has not yet been placed before him.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he intends to establish a trading estate in the special area of the city of Liverpool?

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to consider further the policy in regard to this matter?

It is a matter of law. The hon. Member will understand that this is not a special area under the special Act.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he can state, in relation to the city of Liverpool, the number of appeals dealt with by the appeals tribunal under the Unemployment Assistance Board during the three months ended 30th September, 1935; and the number of such appeals in which increases were granted?

In the three months ended 30th September last, the three appeal tribunals concerned dealt with 142 appeals against determinations by applicants from the city of Liverpool. In 83 of these cases the determinations were increased by the tribunals.

Share Fishermen (Insurance)


asked the Minister of Labour whether the question of unemployment insurance for share fishermen has been referred to the statutory committee; and, if so, when he expects to receive the recommendations of the committee?

I have submitted this matter to the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee for their advice. I am informed that the committee will take the matter up as soon as they have completed their consideration of other important matters already before them including the finance of the Unemployment Fund and the question of raising the salary limit for non-manual workers. I cannot, of course, say when I shall get the committee's recommendations.

Will my right hon. Friend press the matter in the interests of these share fishermen?

I can assure my hon. Friend that there will be no avoidable delay in dealing with the matter.

Family Budgets


asked the Minister of Labour whether it is his intention to cause a fresh inquiry to be made into the subject of family budgets, in order that the information obtained through the investigation made in 1904 may be brought up to date?

This matter is under consideration, but I am not at present in a position to make a definite statement.

Jarrow-Hebburn Exchange


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet been able to send an inspector to view the overcrowding at the new Jarrow-Hebburn Employment Exchange; and whether, in view of the present bad weather, some new arrangements can be made for the shelter of the men?

An inspector attended the exchange on two successive signing days during the week when the hon. Member put her previous question on this matter, and saw no sign of queueing in the street or congestion inside the building. There was some congestion in the week ending 30th November for special and temporary reasons arising out of the change in the benefit rate for children and this may have given rise to the complaints which the hon. Member has in mind. I am informed that queues rarely occur, but if the hon. Member has evidence to the contrary I will gladly make further inquiry.



asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the representations from the Bolton and District Local Employment Committee suggesting that, in order to remove what is regarded as a stigma by the applicants, the administration of the Unemployment Assistance Board be merged into the Employment Exchange Department; and, if so, what reply has been returned?

This question was raised at a meeting of the Bolton and District Local Employment Committee on 12th December. The committee were then informed that since the machinery for the administration of unemployment assistance is prescribed by Statute it is not possible to adopt their suggestion.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men who are drawing benefit from the Unemployment Assistance Board regard it as a stigma upon them to be drawing benefit from this board as they would not be doing if they were drawing statutory unemployment benefit?

My hon. Friend will understand that this arises under the law which puts the able-bodied unemployed under the care of a special national board.


asked the Minister of Labour the total amount paid in unemployment assistance under the Order in Council and the present Unemployment Assistance Board from 1931 up to the most recent date?

The total expenditure (excluding the cost of administration) out of the Unemployment Fund to 30th November, 1935, on transitional payments under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance (National Economy) (No. 2) Order, 1931, and on unemployment allowances is approximately £185,000,000.


asked the Minister of Labour the number of people receiving unemployment assistance in the county of Durham for each year since the operation of the needs test; and the total amount paid in each year?

I am having the available particulars extracted, and will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.

Will the figures show separately the numbers in the administrative county boroughs in the county of Durham?


asked the Minister of Labour the total number of unemployed receiving allowances under the Unemployment Assistance Board; and what number of these are new cases since the operation of the standstill arrangement?

On 25th November last, 697,766 persons had current applications for unemployment assistance authorised for payment. No record has been kept as to the proportion of these which are new cases since February last.

Anomalies Act


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the complaints he has received of the regulations under the Anomalies Act from bodies representing the women and the trade unions affected by the Act, he will now refer the question of the working of the Act to the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee?

The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee have already given me advice regarding the Seasonal Workers (Anomalies) Regulations, and as at present advised I do not think that there is ground for asking them to examine the working of the other Anomalies Regulations.

Travelling Expenses


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that owing to the closing of works in certain areas workers have to seek employment outside the district, and if they secure work it means travelling long distances to and from it; and will he consider making arrangements for the Employment Exchanges to issue free travelling vouchers if the place of employment is over a specified distance?

The travelling expenses of workers proceeding to employment at a distance may be advanced on loan by Employment Exchanges, subject to the repayment, under certain conditions, of a proportion only of the cost. Workers from the depressed areas may receive a free grant for the same purpose. In both cases the facilities apply to the provision of the outward fare of workers entering employment, and I am afraid I could not consider issuing travelling warrants for free daily travelling to workpeople going to and from their work.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a full statement on this question, because there is some doubt in the minds of these people about daily travelling?

If the hon. Member has any particular point in mind, I shall be glad to have it from him.

Advisory Committee


asked the Minister of Labour whether all the advisory committees are now working under the Unemployment Assistance Board; and at what intervals such committees meet?


asked the Minister of Labour how many advisory committees under the Unemployment Act are working in Northumberland; what is the number of members of each committee, respectively; and how many meetings have been held in each case?

No advisory committees have yet been set up. The functions to be exercised by the advisory committees are a part of the whole problem of the future arrangements for the administration of unemployment assistance which is now receiving the anxious consideration of the board and myself. As indicated in reply to the hon. Member for Birkenhead, East (Mr. White) on 24th October, I have suggested to the board that in present circumstances it would be premature to constitute them formally.

Why have not these advisory committees been set up, as they are the only shred of representation that the public has in respect of the administration of unemployment assistance?



asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed in the Hoyland urban district area on the last available date, and the number on standard benefit and unemployment assistance benefit, respectively?

The available statistics relate to employment exchange areas and not to local government areas. At 25th November, 1935, there were 2,313 unemployed persons on the registers of the Hoyland Employment Exchange, of whom 1,239 were persons with claims admitted for insurance benefit and 850 were persons with applications authorised for unemployment allowances.

Colonial Labour (Recruitment)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the questionnaire sent from the International Labour Office on the question of the recruitment of Colonial labour; and whether he can state His Majesty's Government's policy on this matter?

The questionnaire has been considered, and it is hoped to send the replies to the International Labour Office very shortly. The general effect of the replies to the various questions is that His Majesty's Government are in sympathy with the principles embodied in the questionnaire but that, in applying these principles, it is necessary to have regard to the great diversity of conditions in the various British Dependencies in which labourers are recruited. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that to a great extent the proposals in the questionnaire reflect the measures already in operation in the British Dependencies concerned.

Grocery Trade (Wages And Conditions)


asked the Minister of Labour whether in view of the representations made by prominent grocers for an inquiry into wages and conditions in the grocery trade, he will state what steps he intends taking in the matter?

I hope to have an opportunity of discussing these matters with the interests concerned, in the near future.

Cost Of Living Index


asked the Minister of Labour the cost-of-living index figure for each year since 1918, with the latest available figure for 1935?

As the reply involves a list of figures I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The averages of the cost of living index figures, showing the average increase, as compared with July, 1914, in the cost of maintaining unchanged the pre-war standard of living of working-class families, were as follow:

Increase per cent.

At 30th November, 1935, the latest date of computation, the index figure was 47.

Coal Industry

Miners' Wages


asked the Minister of Labour the percentage increase per shift in miners' wages over 1913 now being paid, and the percentage increase in the index figure for the cost of living for the same period, with similar figures for railway employés?

According to statistics published by the Mines Department, the average earnings (exclusive of allowances in kind) per man-shift worked in the quarter ended 30th June, 1935, was 9s. 2.85d., as compared with 6s. 5¾d. in June, 1914, an increase of about 42 per cent. The average weekly payments (including payments for overtime, Sunday duty, night duty, etc.) to male adults in railway conciliation grades in the week ended 9th March, 1935, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Transport, was 63s. 1d. According to statements made to the Railway National Wages Board by the Railway Companies in 1932, the corresponding figure in 1914 was 28s. 5d. The increase in average weekly wages, calculated from these figures, is thus 122 per cent. The cost of living index number showed an increase, as compared with July, 1914, of 41 per cent. at 1st March, 1935, and of 40 per cent. at 1st June, 1935.


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that colliery workers have long distances to travel to their work and that the travelling expenses for that purpose reduce the wages; and will he say whether this has been considered by his Department so that such fares may be met by the issuing of railway or motor vouchers to those who travel beyond a specified distance?

I am, of course, aware that many colliery workers have to travel considerable distances to their work, as also have many other workers, but I am not clear how the hon. Member suggests that the cost of the proposed vouchers should be met. If it is suggested that it should come out of the funds available within the industry for wages purposes, it appears to be a question for discussion between owners and workmen within the industry.

The question was put down to the Minister of Labour and passed on to the Minister of Mines.


asked the Secretary for Mines, in view of his assurance that he intends to see that a fair pit-head price is taken as a basis for the wages ascertainment, what form of investigation is intended to detect and prevent the concealment of the true pithead price by the method of forming intermediary selling companies?

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave yesterday to a question on this subject by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams).

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the question deals only with subsidiary companies of the collieries, and that the ascertainment price is equally concealed by the common interests of directors in the collieries and in the selling companies. Could I have an answer?


asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the disparities of the figures of costs, wages, prices, etc., issued by coal-owners' and coalminers' organisations, respectively, and the necessity of giving the public accurate statistics upon which to base their judgment on the present dispute, he will consider appointing a small accountants' committee of inquiry to examine and report quickly upon the facts in question?

No, Sir, and perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to refer to the answer which I gave on 17th December to the hon. and gallant Member for Islington, North (Colonel Goodman), of which I am sending him a copy.

Glapwell Collieries, Derbyshire (Overtime)


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of days during the month of November, 1935, on which overtime was worked by the underground employés of the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company, Limited, at the Glapwell Collieries, Derbyshire; how many man-shifts were involved; and the reasons for the overtime worked?

Two pits were drawing coal at Glapwell during November, No. 1 for 22 days and No. 3 for 17 days. Some overtime below-ground was worked on each of these days. The total number of man-shifts affected during the five weeks ending 3rd December, was 43,488; the number of overtime shifts was 1,403. 30 per cent. of the overtime was due to mechanical and electrical breakdowns or to faulty ground, and the remainder to a shortage of railway wagons which kept the pit standing for considerable periods and might have involved closing the pit entirely for the following day. I am informed that the circumstances during this period were quite abnormal.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the overtime worked at this colliery is contrary to the wishes of the men, who have to walk three or four miles owing to the very limited transport facilities?

Is it not a fact that the deputies on some of these shifts told the men they must bring extra snap to-morrow because they were going to work extra time, and that is not emergency time?

New Entrants


asked the Secretary for Mines whether in view of the large surplus of men in the coal-mining industry, the regulations are still in force under which would-be new entrants are dissuaded or barred; and whether he can give, for the latest 12 months for which figures are available, the new entrants into the coal-mining industry, indicating whether these workers are young or older men?

I have been asked to reply. The undertaking given by the Mining Association in 1927 restricting entry of persons over 18 years of age into certain coal-mining occupations, remains in force. During the insurance year July, 1933, to July, 1934, there were 5,874 entrants from other industries, many of whom, however, had been previously employed in coal mining. Corresponding figures for a later period are not yet available.

Electricity Supply Companies


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the inability of certain electricity companies to obtain the supplies of coal for which they have contracted and that, in consequence, their stocks are dangerously depleted; and whether he will take steps, either by temporarily removing the quota or otherwise, to ensure that they are able to obtain the coal necessary for them to produce the current required?

I am aware of the difficulty experienced by some electricity supply companies in obtaining supplies of coal, in particular by an undertaking in the constituency which my hon. and gallant Friend represents, and I am in touch with the chairman of the undertaking on the subject. On the general question of supplies, I would emphasise that the Central Council of Colliery Owners are freely issuing such allocations as are required to meet the requirements of consumers, and that at last week's meeting of the council all applications from the districts for supplementary allocations were granted in full.

Cotton Spinning Industry Bill


asked the Minister of Labour the approximate number of persons who will be thrown out of work by the operations of the Cotton Spinning Industry Bill, if its purpose of eliminating £2,000,000 worth of spindles is achieved?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire on 18th July, of which I am sending him a copy.

Poisons Board (Recommendations)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when regulations are likely to be introduced to bring into effect the recent recommendations of the Poisons Board; and whether such regulations will vary in any way these recommendations?

The Poisons List and Rules will be issued at the end of the present month. There are certain differences from the original recommendations, but the modifications have been decided upon after consultation with the board.

Butane (Distribution)


asked the Home Secretary whether his officers on inspectors have made a report on the containers or compressed steel bottles used for supplying liquid gas in bulk to consumers; will he give the results; and whether his Department has approved the distribution of this type of gas?

I presume that the hon. Member has in mind the gas known as butane, which I understand is being supplied for domestic use in certain parts of the country. Approval to the distribution of this type of gas is not required, but the position in relation to the vessels in which the gas is supplied is under investigation by the Chief Inspector of Explosives. When his inquiries are completed the question of making certain regulations applicable to these vessels will be promptly considered. In the meantime such steps as are possible are being taken to secure that the vessels comply with the necessary standards of safety.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, when these Regulations are made, seeing whether the vessels or containers are small so that they can be utilised in working-class houses?

I ant not sure that the considerations which my Department has to bear in mind and apply have to do with that aspect of the matter. The Department is primarily concerned in seeing that the containers are safe and will not explode, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Member says and make inquiry.

Courts Of Summary Jurisdiction (Chief Constables)


asked the Home Secretary how far it is the practice for chief constables to occupy a seat on the bench or beside the clerks of the justices in the courts of summary jurisdiction; and whether this practice has the approval of the Home Office?

Chief constables, of course, exercise a function which is quite distinct from that of the judiciary and take no part in the deliberation or decision of magistrates. I feel sure that a chief constable, if present in court, always endeavours to take up a position which leaves no room for doubt on this point.

Accused Persons (Bail)


asked the Home Secretary how many persons during the last completed year who were afterwards found not guilty were refused bail and suffered imprisonment?

Ministers' Salaries


asked the Prime Minister whether he proposes to introduce legislation to put Ministerial salaries on a more equitable basis?

I have had this matter in mind for some time, but I am not in a position to make any statement.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he will recast the whole of this idea of salaries for Cabinet Ministers because of the difference between a Member of Parliament and a Cabinet Minister, the result of which is the amount of intriguing and petty jealousies that go on.

Naval Disarmament


asked the Prime Minister what instructions he has given to the British delegates regarding America's proposal for a 20 per cent. all-round cut in naval armaments; and why the announcement of the proposal to build seven new destroyers was made at this juncture?

As regards the first part of the question, it is not in the public interest at present to publish the instructions that have been given to the British delegation to the present Naval Conference. As regards the second part of the question, the seven new destroyers are required for the replacement under the existing treaties of war built destroyers which are becoming worn out. The proposal was announced so that foreign delegations might be aware of our intention and be under no misapprehension that it was connected with any proposals before the conference.

Will the Prime Minister please say whether the instructions he has given to our delegates at the conference are in consonance with the pledges he put forward during the Election with regard to disarmament?

British Foreign Policy


asked the Prime Minister whether his statement during the General Election that the League of Nations will remain the keystone of British foreign policy still represents the policy of His Majesty's Government?

Arising from the very brief reply of the Prime Minister, may I ask him to give some illustration of what is meant by this rather picturesque phrase?

I wish to ask the Prime Minister how he reconciles the reply he has just made with his approval of the Paris proposals?

I hope the hon. Member will be good enough to await the speech which I propose to make in the course of the Debate to-day.

Tyneside (Royal Commission)


asked the Prime Minister the reasons which have led to recent alterations in the personnel of the Royal Commission on Local Government on the Tyneside; and when he expects to be in possession of the Commission's report?

Unfortunately the right hon. Sir Sidney Rowlatt, who was chairman of this commission, has found it necessary to resign his appointment for private reasons. It was thought that the work of the commission would be facilitated by recommending to His Majesty that its members should, in the reconstitution consequent upon the chairman's resignation, be increased to five. I regret that I cannot at the present stage give any indication of the date on which the commission will be in a position to submit a report.

Will the three new members appointed on the commission visit the area, as the three original ones did, before they proceed with their investigations?

Air Raid (Precautions)


asked the Home Secretary whether he contemplates placing, or has actually placed, orders for gas masks for the civilian population; if so, how many and at what price; whether any scheme for the provision of air-proof containers for infants and air-proof covers for perambulators has been adopted; and will he give particulars?

I would remind the hon. Member that an undertaking has been given that a full statement on this subject will be made in the near future, and I would ask him to await the statement.

Pamphlet (Distribution, Liverpool)


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that a speech by Dr. Goebbels attacking the Soviet Government has been published as a pamphlet, printed in English but at Berlin, and that this pamphlet has been distributed broadcast by seamen from German ships at the port of Liverpool; and whether he proposes to take any action to put a stop to these attacks by foreign nationals upon a Government with which His Majesty's Government are in friendly relations?

The Chief Constable of Liverpool informs me that the police, after making inquiries, have no knowledge of this pamphlet being distributed by German seamen. The second part of the question does not therefore arise.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether if this had been anti-Nazi propaganda the same course would have been taken?

If I submit to the right hon. Gentleman a copy of the pamphlet and a letter accompanying it from the man who received it, will he take further action in the matter?

I shall, of course, be very ready to receive what the hon. Member would like to show me.

Shop Assistants (Sunday Work)


asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the employment of shop assistants in a shop on Sunday on work other than that of serving customers; and whether he will take steps to discourage the practice?

My attention has not previously been called to the employment referred to. Perhaps my hon. Friend would communicate with me further in the matter.

Metropolitan Police

Assistance (Telephone Messages)


asked the Home Secretary whether a London resident, who hears a burglar in his house, gets police aid quicker on the average by telephoning to the nearest police station, or by telephoning to the new information room at Scotland Yard which is in wireless contact with police cars?

Circumstances, such as distance from the nearest police station, vary a good deal, but generally speaking quicker results will be obtained by telephoning direct to the Information Room at New Scotland Yard.

Women Police


asked the Home Secretary the number of policewomen in the Metropolitan Police Force; and what increase, if any, has occurred since 1931?

The strength of women police in the Metropolitan Police district has increased, in the period referred to, from 47 to 66. I have now sanctioned a revised total establishment of 142, and the necessary steps are being taken to give effect by stages to this decision.

University-Trained Men


asked the Home Secretary how many university-trained men are now in the Metropolitan Police Force and in what capacity are they employed?

Animal Clinics


asked the Home Secretary the number of local authorities that have clinics where domestic or other animals are treated for diseases or injuries and where they can be humanely destroyed when necessary; whether local authorities contribute money annually towards the upkeep of such clinics in England, Wales, or Scotland; whether any local authorities provide in the police stations in their areas any proper provision for the treatment of unwanted or strayed domestic animals as well as for their destruction; and what are the usual means employed by police officers for the humane destruction of such animals?

I can reply to this question only so far as it relates to the police in England and Wales. They would not attempt to treat injured or diseased animals, but would call in a veterinary surgeon when necessary, or convey the animal to some institution where it could be properly treated. As regards destruction, some police forces have a lethal chamber, but more generally they have standing arrangements with a local veterinary surgeon or dogs' home to undertake destruction in a suitable manner.

School Children (Agricultural Work)


asked the Home Secretary what steps he takes in agricultural areas to regulate the employment of school children in tasks such as the lifting of potatoes; and to what extent has he done so in the past?

The employment of school children in agricultural work is subject to the restrictions in Part II of the Children and Young Persons Act and the by-laws made by local authorities who are responsible for their enforcement. Similar provisions have been in force for many years.

Is the right hon. Gentleman acting in conjunction with the Board of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture in this matter?

I am sure that there is proper contact between the Departments, but if my hon. Friend has any instance which he wishes to bring to my notice, I will attend to it.

Racecourse Betting Control Board


asked the Home Secretary what are the total liabilities of the Betting Control Board; and whether recent grants have been made out of profit or capital?

In pursuance of Section 3 (8) of the Racecourse Betting Act, 1928, the accounts of the Racecourse Betting Control Board are presented annually to Parliament. The accounts for the year 1935 are, of course, not yet available, but the published accounts for the year 1934 show that on the 31st December of that year the liabilities of the board amounted to £2,196,308. The grants referred to are made out of the excess of annual revenue over expenditure from the operations of the totalisator.


asked the Home Secretary whether, before approving the recent grant from the Racecourse Betting Control Board for the assistance of horse-breeding during 1936, he took any steps to ascertain whether the grant in question would be so distributed as to benefit all types of horse-breeding in Great Britain; and whether it will be possible to arrange for any supplementary grant during 1936 to assist those sections of horse-breeding which will not benefit by the £5,000 granted to the Hunters' Improvement Society?

The grant of £5,000 was approved for the specific purpose of awarding premiums for thoroughbred stallions in 1936. As regards further grants for other sections of horse-breeding the board have informed me that they will bear this question in mind when preparing schemes for the application of money from the Totalisator Fund.

Polling Facilities (Hospital Patients)


asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the possibility of providing facilities to enable hospital patients to record their votes at elections if on the register?

I will have my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion noted for consideration in connection with any opportunity that might arise for reviewing the present system of voting by post.

Welsh Church Act (Burial Grounds)


asked the Home Secretary in how many cases the local authorities in Wales have exercised their powers, under the Welsh Church Act, of taking over the burial grounds, and in how many cases they have not yet done so; and whether he proposes to take any steps to regularise the present position?

149 burial grounds have been transferred to the local authorities concerned; 670 remain in the hands of the Welsh Church Commissioners. As regards the last part of the question the matter is receiving my careful consideration but I am not yet in a position to make any statement.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this matter is one of grave urgency, because many of the burial grounds are steadily deteriorating, and does he propose to take early action?

It is certainly both a difficult and an urgent matter and that is why, as I have already said, it is receiving my careful consideration.

Late Sir Roger Casement


asked the Home Secretary whether permission has been or is to be granted for the removal to Ireland of the remains of the late Sir Roger Casement; and, if so, on what grounds?

Capital Punishment


asked the Home Secretary the policy of the Government on capital punishment?

No alteration of the law on this subject is contemplated in the Government's legislative programme.

Holloway Prison (Governorship)


asked the Home Secretary whether, when he is appointing a Governor of Holloway Prison in the place of the late Dr. Morton, he will consider the advisability of appointing a woman to that position?

The vacancy in the governorship of Holloway Prison was filled in July, after carefully considering all the circumstances, by the appointment of Dr. J. C. McI. Matheson, D.S.O.

Wild Birds (Importation)


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that, despite regulations against snaring wild birds in this country, such wild birds are still being imported into this country from abroad; and whether any warning has been issued to those interested in carrying on this trade that it is illegal?

I am looking into this question, and will consider whether there are any steps which I can usefully take. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any definite information bearing on the matter, I shall be much obliged if he will communicate it to me.


Milk Supply (Necessitous Children)


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will issue instructions that free milk shall be given to all children of school age whose parents are unemployed persons on the means test, in view of the desirability of the maximum number of children getting milk at school and of the fact that unemployed persons on the means test cannot in most cases afford to pay for milk for their children?

The conditions under which local education authorities may provide free milk for children attending public elementary schools are governed by the terms of Section 84 of the Education Act, 1921, and under that Section I have no power to issue the instructions which my hon. Friend desires. I would invite the attention of the hon. Member to the board's Circular 1443 issued on Monday last, which sets out the board's policy on the selection of children for provision of meals, and of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the children of the people who stint themselves in order to feed their children adequately are penalised as compared with those of the people who neglect their children?

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will look at the Circular I have issued.

Black-Listed Schools


asked the President of the Board of Education the number of elementary schools in Liverpool which have been black-listed; and what steps are being taken to place such schools in a satisfactory state either by reconstruction or replacement?

The number of public elementary schools in Liverpool which are still on the list of schools with defective premises is 34. The problem which these schools present cannot be satisfactorily solved by their treatment in isolation from one another or without due regard to housing difficulties. The board are in consultation with the local education authority, and the authorities of the non-provided schools with a view to assisting them to formulate a comprehensive plan for dealing with the problem.


asked the President of the Board of Education how many schools are now black-listed; and how many of these are non-provided schools?

The number of schools on the list of schools with defective premises is now 1,104, of which 772 are non-provided schools.

Playing Fields


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will take early steps to obtain information with regard to the number of elementary schools in Great Britain which are provided with playing fields with a view to evolving a scheme to accelerate the provision of fields for those schools which do not already possess them?

I am proposing to ask local education authorities to survey the needs of their areas in regard to playing-fields for school children, with a view to supplementing wherever practicable the existing provision if this is inadequate.

Kindness To Animals


asked the President of the Board of Education whether any specific suggestions have been issued by his Department to local education authorities in regard to the encouragement of instruction relating to the humane treatment of animals and birds in all elementary and secondary schools; and whether he will consider the issuing of a special suitable publication with this end in view?

The Board of Education do not, prescribe the subjects to be included in the curriculum of schools but their "Handbook of Suggestions for Teachers" calls attention to the desirability of inculcating kindness to animals, and I am confident that teachers are fully alive to the importance of this matter.



asked the President of the Board of Education how many children left school at the age of 14 years, and how many went from the elementary to higher schools at the age of 11 years, from Midsummer, 1931, to Midsummer, 1935?

As the answer contains a tabular statement of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:


Public Elementary Schools maintained by local education authorities.

A.—Number of pupils who left for reasons other than further education on attaining the age of exemption from compulsory school attendance.

Year ended.Number who left (aged under 14) at end of term preceding holiday period during which they became 14.Number who left aged 14, and under 14¼.Total
31st March, 1932.42,554290,685333,239
31st March, 1933.37,509251,684289,193
31st March, 1934.58,827389,781448,608
31st March, 1935.59,084385,880444,964

B.—Number of pupils aged 11 and over who left for further full-time education at schools or institutions other than public elementary schools.

Year ended.Number of pupils.
31st March, 193282,418
31st March, 193379,523
31st March, 193484,260
31st March, 193584,789

School Attendance (Exemptions)


asked the President of the Board of Education what percentage of children obtained exemption from school attendance in Plymouth and other areas where the school age has been raised to 15?

As the answer contains a considerable number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The percentages of children attending public elementary schools who were granted exemption from school attendance at some time before attaining the age of 15 in the areas which have adopted a by-law raising the age of school attendance to 15 were during 1934–35 as follow:

Per cent.
E. Suffolk86









*In these areas the by-laws were in operation during the latter part only of the year.

Physical Training


asked the President of the Board of Education what is the present approximate annual contribution made by way of Government grant to assist the provision of gymnasia, playing fields, and physical training organisers at elementary and secondary schools in Great Britain; and whether he is satisfied that progress in the provision of such necessary amenities is proceeding satisfactorily?

It is estimated that during the current financial year a grant of approximately £35,000 will be paid for the organisation of physical training in public elementary schools. The corresponding figure for secondary schools cannot be ascertained. As the expenditure on gymnasia and playing fields is not returned as a separate item in the local education authorities' accounts, I regret that I am unable to answer the hon. Member's question on this point. As regards the second part of the question, the Government are anxious to accelerate progress with the provision of facilities for physical training, and I am proposing to issue a circular to local education authorities on the matter in the near future.

Malnutrition (Lancashire)


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the statement of the responsible medical officers that malnutrition among Lancashire schoolchildren has seriously increased; and what steps, if any, he is prepared to take to remedy this state of affairs?

In his annual report for the year, 1934, the school medical officer for Lancashire gives particulars of an increase in malnutrition from 1.75 per cent., in 1933, to 2.19 per cent. in 1934, amongst routine cases. In 1930 the percentage was 2.16. As regards the second part of the question, the school medical officer explains in his report that the provision of free meals and milk is more than keeping pace with the malnutrition discovered at medical inspections.

Is the right hon. Gentleman now prepared to advise the Government to bring to an end once for all this policy of public economy by the starvation of babies?

Private Schools


asked the President of the Board of Education whether there has been any increase in the number of private schools offering themselves for inspection by the Board since the publication of the report of the Departmental Committee on private schools; and whether he can state the numbers of private schools which have invited inspection and the number that have been inspected?

228 private schools have offered themselves for inspection by the Board since the issue of the report. There are 1,105 private schools open to the Board's inspection, of which 1,013 have been inspected.

Education Bill


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is prepared to issue the terms of the new Education Bill to Members before the Recess?

The Bill is being given its First Reading this afternoon, but I regret that it is not possible to print it immediately.

Public Health



asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the copy of the resolution unanimously recommended by the council of the British Medical Association, urging the appointment of a national maternity service; and whether he will consider introducing legislation to give effect to the suggestions contained in the resolution?

I have received a copy of the memorandum referred to by the hon. Member, and I will give it my careful consideration. I cannot at present undertake to introduce legislation on this subject beyond that already promised for securing an organised service of salaried midwives.


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that the maternity mortality rate has steadily risen over the last four years and of repeated medical assertions that 50 per cent. of such cases are avoidable, he proposes to take steps to increase the number of ante-natal and post-natal clinics in the country and any other steps that may ameliorate this state of affairs?

Yes, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on this subject to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on 12th December, of which I am sending him a copy.


asked the Minister of Health whether, in the Government Bill now being drafted to deal with maternal mortality, he will also make provision for measures to reduce ill-health after child-birth?

I would ask my hon. Friend to await the introduction of this Bill which, as already announced, will be mainly concerned with the provision of an organised service of salaried midwives.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult with the Minister of Labour and the officials who deal with unemployment, with a view to carrying out these measures?

Chinese Eggs

82 and 83.

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he is aware that reports made by competent analysts to the Scientific Poultry Breeders' Association declare that Chinese eggs, in whatever form they reach this country, are contaminated with excremental bacteria, within three days become putrefying at a temperature of 45 to 50, and are unhygienic as a food; and whether he will take steps to see that such imports are stopped forthwith;

(2) whether he is aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction, not only among poultry keepers, but with the consuming public, at the importation of eggs from China in a condition which has been declared unhygienic by competent analysts; and whether he will take steps to ensure that the names and addresses of all firms taking delivery of these eggs shall be published in the local newspapers?

Representations were made to my Department earlier in the year respecting frozen eggs from China, which included references to the reports mentioned by my hon. Friend. Examinations of a number of samples were specially made by the Department, in which no disease-producing organisms were detected, and the other kinds of bacteria found were such as commonly occur in other articles of food.

In view of the fact that the public would be unwilling to consume these eggs if they knew the origin of them, can any other steps be taken to protect the public against being supplied with such eggs unawares?

I am afraid that the allegations of my hon. and gallant Friend are not borne out by the information in the possession of my Department.

Inoculation (London County Council Hospitals)


asked the Minister of Health against what diseases are child patients in London County Council hospitals inoculated; and whether the consent of the parents is obtained before such inoculations are performed?

I understand that inoculations for the prevention of diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough and measles are occasionally done in London County Council hospitals, and that whenever practicable the consent of the parents is obtained.

What is the proportion of cases dealt with without the consent of the parents?

The consent of the parents is always obtained whenever that is practicable.

National Health Insurance And Widows' Pensions


asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider removing the difficulties which have arisen in the working of the Health Insurance Act and Widows' Pensions Act when he is preparing the promised legislation on this subject?

If the hon. Member will let me know the particular difficulties he has in mind, I will be glad to consider them.

Land Values (Rating)


asked the Minister of Health whether the Government are prepared to consider an alteration in the present rating system and adopt the method of levying rates upon owners in respect of the value of land apart from improvements?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Oliver) an 11th December.


Slum Clearance


asked the Minister of Health whether he can furnish an estimate of the number of dwelling-houses demolished in England and Wales since the armistice under slum-clearance schemes and for other reasons, respectively?

I would refer my hon. Friend to Table V of the statement recently issued by my Department (of which I am sending him a copy). This gives the number of houses demolished under the slum clearance provisions of the Housing Act, 1930, up to 30th September, 1935, namely, 58,168. I estimate that about 14,000 slum houses were demolished between the Armistice and the coming into operation of that Act. I have no information as to the number of houses demolished for other reasons.

Hackney Marshes


asked the Minister of Health whether he has any statement to make on the proposal of the London County Council to use part of Hackney Marshes for building purposes?

An application has been made to the Divisional Court to prohibit the proceedings for the appropriation of this land for housing purposes. At the preliminary hearing a rule nisi was granted to the applicant. The matter will come before the court again in due course.

Housing Act, 1935 (Appointed Day)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, until he has declared the appointed day under Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1935, new tenants may be added without offence and, in fact, are being so added, to already overcrowded houses; and how soon he will be able to declare the appointed day, respectively, for London and other areas?

I am aware of the desirability of fixing the appointed day in such a way as to minimise the difficulties to which my hon. Friend refers, but I must take into account progress made in the provision of new accommodation required for the abatement of overcrowding.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the delay is liable to invalidate the accuracy of the survey on which all action for decrowding under the Act is to be based?

Old Age Pensions


asked the Minister of Health the number of persons in receipt of contributory and non-contributory old age pensions, respectively?

The number of persons in receipt of old age pensions under or by virtue of the Contributory Pensions Acts on 30th September, 1935, was 1,741,840, and the number under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 to 1924, independently of the Contributory Pensions Acts, was 688,690.

Fire Protection, London (Old Houses)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the serious consequences likely to arise from fire in the many houses in the Metropolis which were built more than 100 years ago, as exemplified by the recent fire in Wimpole Street; and whether he proposes to seek new powers in order to compel better means of escape to be provided in such buildings?

The subject of protection from fire is dealt with in the London Building Act, 1930, and the London County Council (General Powers) Act of last Session also confers on the council a power of making by-laws on the subject. If further statutory powers are needed, the London County Council will no doubt consider the question of applying to Parliament to confer them.

Income Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the Department of Income Tax are demanding Income Tax from weekly wage earners who are compelled by the means test authorities to maintain adult able-bodied unemployed relatives, and refusing to allow dependants' rebate in respect of such relatives; and whether he would be prepared to issue instructions that, where the granting of such rebates brings the income below tax level, such claims should not be pressed?

The hon. Member will find, on referring to the OFFICIAL REPORT, that this matter was considered on 19th June last. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.

Does the Minister not propose to make any alteration in an administrative Order which bears so hardly on very poor people?

Reference to the report I have mentioned will show that the hardship has been very much removed.