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Commons Chamber

Volume 309: debated on Monday 24 February 1936

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House Of Commons

Monday, 24th February, 1936.

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

Private Business

Cirencester Gas Bill,

Read a Second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.

London Passenger Transport Board Bill (by Order),

Second Reading deferred till Wednesday 4th March, at half-past Seven of the Clock.

Wolverhampton Corporation Bill (by Order),

Read a Second time, and committed.

Ministry of Health Provisional Order Bury and District Joint Hospital District) Bill,

Ministry of Health Provisional Order Chester and Derby) Bill,

Read the Third time, and passed.

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

Consideration deferred till Wednesday 4th March, at half-past Seven of the Clock.

Oral Answers To Questions

India

Mr S C Bose

1.

asked. the Under-Secretary of State for India under what conditions was Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose, a detenu in Bengal, permitted to leave India; and how has he been permitted to visit Ireland?

As my hon. Friend will be aware, Mr. Bose was permitted to leave India in order to receive particular medical treatment. The territorial validity of his passport was framed accordingly. The question of his admission to the Irish Free State is one for the Free State authorities.

Does the hon. Member think that any harm will come from Mr. Bose's visit to Ireland?

Can the Under-Secretary say whether he obtained medical treatment in Dublin?

Civil Service

2.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the unsatisfactory state of recruitment of British candidates for the Indian Civil Service in 1935, as reported by the Civil Service Commission, he proposes to take any action to restore the proportion of British to Indian recruits to the 50–50 ratio fixed in 1924?

Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend hopes to be in a position very shortly to make an announcement of the measures to be taken to restore the 50–50 ratio as soon as Part III of the Government of India Act, 1935, comes into force. If present expectations are fulfilled, it should be possible to make a beginning in 1937.

3.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he will bring up to date the numbers of British and Indian members, respectively, in the All-India Services, as compared with the last published Return which showed the composition of those services on 1st January, 1933?

I am circulating a statement showing the composition of the All-India Services on 1st January, 1935. Figures for 1st January, 1936, are not yet available.

Following is the statement:

Statement showing the composition of the All-India Services on 1st. January, 1935.
Service.Europeans.Indians.
Indian Civil Service (including incumbents of listed posts).756544
Indian Police495170
Indian Agricultural Service.3928
Indian Educational Service (Men's Branch)7564
Indian Educational Service(Women's Branch).113
Indian Forest Service18889
Indian Medical Service (Civil).205100
Indian Service of Engineers.268273
Indian Veterinary Service161
Total2,0531,272

China (Tientsin-Pukow Railway)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has become of the special reserve fund which the Chinese Government set up for the purpose of paying in monthly instalments to meet the arrears due to the bondholders in the Tientsin-Pukow Railway; and whether payments into this fund are still being made?

I understand that the special reserve fund has been used for the service of the original and supplementary loan issues. So far payments have been made on coupons which were eleven years in arrear. Payments continue to be made into the fund, but in December last were 20 months behind the agreed schedule.

League Of Nations

6 and 21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether His Majesty's Government or the League accept the position that any country unwilling to co-operate, or judged an aggressor, should indefinitely remain a member of the League without being subject to any penalty for default;

(2) whether any proposals have yet been under consideration to remove from the League those nations which are not prepared to keep the peace of the League or to co-operate in its preservation?

The point raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is covered by Article 16 (4) of the Covenant, which provides that any member of the League which has violated any Covenant of the League may be declared to be no longer a member of the League by a vote of the Council concurred in by the representatives of all the other members of the League represented thereon.

British Trawlers (Norwegian Gun-Boats)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that three British trawlers, "Esquimaux," "Arkwright," and "Bunsen" have been molested by Norwegian gun-boats on the high seas outside of the red line; and whether, in view of the agreement come to between His Majesty's Government and the Norwegian Government, His Majesty's Government propose to take steps either to secure enforcement of the agreement or, alternatively, to afford protection to British vessels on the high seas?

I have seen copies of the statements by the skippers of these three trawlers in which they complained that Norwegian gun-boats have interfered with their fishery operations outside the "red line," which is the provisional limit observed in practice by British trawlers and by the Norwegian authorities since 1925. His Majesty's Minister at Oslo has been instructed to ask for information from the Norwegian Government regarding these incidents and to add that if the "red line" were not to be adhered to, a new situation would arise rendering it difficult to continue the negotiations at present in progress for a general settlement of the whole controversy.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether fishery cruisers are working in those waters?

Manchurian-Mongolian Frontier

7 and 8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he will make a statement with regard to the situation on the Manchukuo-Mongolian Frontier;

(2) whether he has any information regarding the incident on 12th February, when Japanese-Manchukuo troops were bombed at Olohodoka, in the territory of the Mongolian People's Republic?

There have during the past year been a number of skirmishes between small bodies of Mongol and Japanese-Manchurian troops along the border between Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. The details of the particular incidents referred to are still obscure, but I understand that neither the Soviet Government nor the Japanese Government are disposed to attach any undue importance to it, and that proposals have been put forward with the object of reducing the risk of further similar incidents.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Mongolian People's Republic is part of the Republic of China that has been stolen by the Soviet?

Confidential Document (Italian Publication)

Mr Eden's Statement

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish as a White Paper the Report of the Inter-departmental Committee presided over by Sir John Maffey on the question of an Italian occupation of Abyssinia; on what date this report was presented; and whether its conclusions have been accepted by His Majesty's Government as the basis of their policy?

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been directed to the publication in the "Giornale d'Italia" of a document purporting to be a report to his Department on British interests in Abyssinia from a committee of which Sir John Maffey, Permanent Under-Secretary to the Colonies, was chairman; whether he has caused any inquiries to be instituted as to the means whereby the newspaper in question obtained a copy of this confidential report; and with what result?

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the publication in an Italian newspaper of a confidential document on Abyssinia, prepared by Sir John Maffey and presented to the Foreign Office in June last; and whether this document represents the views of His Majesty's Government?

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to publish as a White Paper the document relating to Abyssinia which has been published in an Italian newspaper?

51.

asked the Prime Minister how the Maffey Report came to be supplied to the Italian Government or the Vatican?

The House will be aware that through an indiscretion, or a deliberate breach of confidence which every effort is being made to trace, a confidential document, the property of His Majesty's Government, has apparently come into the possession of an Italian newspaper. The leakage of information of this character must naturally be a matter of serious concern to the Government and every effort is being, and will be, made to determine the cause. I deprecate, however, any suggestion that the document is in itself, and particularly at this date, of an especially secret character, the disclosure of which can be a source either of any great embarrassment to His Majesty's Government, or of any danger to the interests of the country. Still less is there any justification for the suggestion which has, I understand, been put forward in Italian newspapers that its contents are such as to establish either the variability or the insincerity of the policy followed by His Majesty's Government in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute.

I will tell the House precisely how the report embodied in the document originated. Towards the end of January, 1935, when the Abyssinian situation was already a cause of pre-occupation to His Majesty's Government as a member of the Council of the League, an inquiry was made by the Italian Government as to the nature and extent of British interests in Abyssinia. An inter-Departmental Committee was thereupon set up, under the chairmanship of the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, for the purpose of estimating British interests in Abyssinia and of attempting an appreciation of the extent to which these interests might be affected by external events. I must make it clear that it was in no sense the task of this Committee to deal with His Majesty's Government's obligations under the Covenant or to attempt to frame a policy for His Majesty's Government in what had by that time come to be the possibility of serious trouble between Italy and Abyssinia. Had it been otherwise, the Committee would have been differently constituted. It was merely concerned to establish facts.

The Committee's investigation naturally occupied some time, and in the ultimate event no specific reply was returned to the Italian inquiry, owing to the fact that by the time the examination was completed the rapid development of Italian activities in regard to Abyssinia was beginning to raise the whole question of the integrity of Abyssinia, as to which any personal interests were naturally subordinated to our obligations as a member of the League. The Committee reported to my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 18th June last and its report was to the effect that there was no important British interest in Abyssinia with the exception of Lake Tsana, the waters of the Blue Nile, and certain tribal grazing rights. This, I may say ot once, is precisely the consideration which has underlain every authoritative statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. That policy has been inspired by no selfish or ulterior motive, but solely by consideration of the duties incumbent on His Majesty's Government as a member of the League of Nations and as whole-hearted supporters of the doctrine of collective security.

After a full review of all these circumstances I have come to the conclusion that no useful purpose would be served by publishing this document as a White Paper.

May I ask whether any steps are being taken to check these leakages, of which this is not the first within recent months, and a continuation of which will undoubtedly lead to very serious consequences? Can we have an assurance that what happened in Paris in the case of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor and what has happened in this case will really come to an end?

I quite agree with the hon. Member that the leakage of any secret British document must be a matter of grave concern, and I know that the House will not expect me to state what steps the Government propose to take. At the same time I think we must distinguish between the theft or disappearance of a British document and the leakage in Paris, over which His Majesty's Government have no control.

If we did away with secret diplomacy, we should have none of this trouble.

Can the Foreign Secretary give us the personnel of this Committee? He has given us only the name of the Chairman.

This was a Civil Service inquiry, and I do not think that the House would wish me to go beyond the answer I have given.

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the publication in the "Giornale d'Italia" of confidential reports on British interests in Abyssinia, presented to the Foreign Office last June by an Inter-departmental Committee presided over by the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office; whether he can inform the House as to how this confidential document came into the possession of an Italian newspaper; whether the Press leakages, which occurred during the recent Hoare-Laval negotiations, have yet been traced; and what steps are being taken by the Government to stop similar leakages in future?

As regards the first and second parts of the question I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I have just given to the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton). As regards the third part, I understand that the leakage in question took place in Paris. As regards the last part, any precautions which may be considered necessary will be taken in addition to those which are already in force.

May I ask whether the recent document which appeared in the Italian Press was printed or not? Was it a letter sent to various people or a typewritten document sent by a confidential secretary?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered a, possible leakage in this way? I do not ask him to give me a definite reply.

Italy And Abyssinia

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can assure the House that British economic and political interests in Abyssinia are still restricted to those centred on the waters of Lake Tsana and the Blue Nile?

Yes, Sir, with the exception of frontier interests, notably the protection and preservation of tribal watering and grazing rights.

Do these "interests" include the construction of a motor road under British control between Lake Tsana and the Sudan?

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the Committee of Eighteen is to meet at Geneva to consider the report relating to an oil embargo?

Will the right hon. Gentleman move the committee at the earliest moment to invite the co-operation of the United States of America?

Franco-Italian Agreement

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether in view of the fact that the terms of the secret Rome accord between France and Italy have been known to the Government since January, 1935, he will make them known to the House?

It would not be proper for me to publish the information in my possession in regard to the terms of an agreement between foreign powers which they have not seen fit to publish themselves.

Is the right hon. Gentleman making any representations to the French Government that the terms of this accord conflict with their engagements with the League of Nations?

I did not say that I had the terms of the accord, but that I had information in my possession with regard to them.

Does not that information show that the French Government were acting contrary to their obligations to the League of Nations, and, if so, did the Government make any representations to that effect?

May I ask whether any engagement between two Powers who are members of the League is binding unless it is published?

Government Departments (Foreign Office Staff)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is the practice of his Department to ascertain at what school recruits to the staff of the Department were educated; and, if so, which are the first four schools, according to the numbers recruited, from which additions to the staff have been made in the last four years?

Information regarding the schools at which candidates for the administrative class of the Civil Service (including recruits to the Foreign Office and Diplomatic and Consular Services) have been educated is furnished to the Civil Service Commission by the candidates. As regards the Foreign Office and Diplomatic and Consular Services, the particulars desired by the hon. Member are as follow:

  • 1. Eton
  • 2. Rugby.
  • 3. Winchester.
  • 4. Marlborough and Repton.
  • Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Foreign Office might improve the intellectual standard of its staff if it were to extend its recruitment over a wider area than these rather exclusive educational establishments?

    The recruitment is over the widest area. The question is who gets into the net.

    Tripoli (British Subjects)

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Carmelo Psaila and Robert Ghirlando, British subjects, have been imprisoned in Tripoli since December and January last, respectively, it being stated against them that they had uttered remarks insolent to Italy; whether he is aware that the Italian authorities have declared their intention of bringing them before a military tribunal; and whether His Majesty's Government have taken any steps to secure for these men a fair and open trial without delay?

    The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome is investigating the facts, and I have asked him to hasten his report with a view to deciding whether action should be taken by His Majesty's Government.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British subjects in Tripoli are undergoing something like persecution solely on account of their nationality? Has he considered suggesting to the Italian Government that our nationals should get the same courtesy and consideration that the Italians receive here?

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say when these two gentlemen became British subjects?

    How long does the right hon. Gentleman think that we can afford to wait without some information while these men are in prison—not, I trust, for more than a month?

    Trade And Commerce

    British Fair, Hong Kong

    23.

    asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he can give any further information relative to the British trade fair at Hong Kong; to what extent His Majesty's Government are now assisting it; and to what extent it is supported by British manufacturers?

    I have been asked to reply. I am informed that the organisers of the British trade fair to be held in Hong Kong in December next have formed an influential committee in this country and that negotiations are proceeding between the organisers and prospective United Kingdom exhibitors. As regards the attitude of His Majesty's Government, the Governor of Hong Kong has accepted the position of Patron, and His Majesty's Consul-General at Canton and the Commercial Secretary for South China (who is also Trade Commissioner, Hong Kong), have been authorised to accept honorary positions as members of the council of the fair.

    Johannesburg Exhibition

    24.

    asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department to what extent and in what way His Majesty's Government is supporting the exhibition to be held at Johannesburg this year?

    The Department of Overseas Trade is organising on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom a prestige exhibit for display in a national pavilion to be erected in the exhibition grounds. The Department is also supplying to United Kingdom manufacturers who contemplate participation, full information and advice regarding the South African market. The closest co-operation exists between the Department and the Federation of British Industries and the exhibition executive committee in Johannesburg.

    Will the hon. Member see that a similar prestige exhibit is arranged for the exhibition in Hong Kong?

    Argentine Trade Agreement

    52.

    asked the Prime Minister whether the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the question of the renewal or modification of the AngloArgentine trade agreement before negotiations are opened for this purpose?

    As has already been stated, the question of the future of the agreement referred to by my hon. Friend is under consideration. I fear I can give no undertaking that the Government will be able to afford a special opportunity for discussion.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider it right that the House of Commons should have an opportunity of discussing and reviewing the very far-reaching effects of this agreement upon home production and Empire trade, before renewing it for another period of years?

    I think it will be obvious that my answer refers to discussion before negotiation. Discussion before negotiation, I think, would probably have a disastrous effect in any case of this kind. After negotiations, it is always open to the House, if it so desires, to discuss the matter, but it is not the usual practice to have such discussion before the negotiations have been entered upon.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that discussion after the negotiations is not very much use?

    Eggs (Imports From Poland)

    56.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, between 1933 and 1935, the imports of eggs from Poland into Great Britain have increased by no less than 40,000,000; and whether he will have the trade treaty with Poland denounced in order that this matter may be rectified?

    I am aware of the figures to which my hon. Friend refers. The agreement with Poland cannot be terminated until 31st December, 1936. The point raised by my hon. Friend will be borne in mind.

    Dominion Tariff Boards (Applications)

    64.

    asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will furnish information as to the number of applications made by industries in this country under the provisions of the Ottawa Agreements Act to the tariff boards in Canada, Australia and New Zealand; and what have been the results of those applications?

    As the answer is necessarily long and contains tables and figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Following is the answer:

    CANADA.
    Item No.Items which have been raised as a result of an application by the U.K. Government on behalf of U.K. manufacturers.British Preferential* Tariff rates at the time of hearing.Remarks.
    551Yarns, composed wholly or in part of wool or hair but not containing silk or artificial silk, n.o.p.15 per cent, ad val. plus 11¼ cts. Per Ib.These items were covered by the comprehensive inquiry of the Tariff Board into the woollen industry. The Board recommended a reduction in the duties under item 554b to 27½ per cent. ad val. 17 cts. per lb. with a maximum of 65 cts. per lb. and the deletion of item 554e. These recommendations were included in the 1935 Budget. At the request of the U.K. Government item 552 was withdrawn and as sufficient material was not available the investigation into items 568, 668a and 568 b was left in abeyance.
    551aYarns and warps, composed wholly of wool or in part of wool or hair, imported by manufacturers for use exclusively in their own factories, n.o.p.10 per cent, ad val. plus 7½ cts. per lb.
    552Felt, pressed, of all kinds, in the web, not consisting of or in combination with any woven, knitted or other fabric or material.15 per cent, ad val. plus 7½ cts. per lb.
    553Blankets of any material, not to include automobile rugs, steamer rugs or similar articles.22½ per cent, ad val. plus 10 cts. per lb.
    554Woven fabrics, composed wholly or in chief part by weight of yarns of wool or hair not exceeding in weight six ounces to the square yard n.o.p., when imported in the grey or unfinished condition for the purpose of being dyed or finished in Canada.20 per cent, ad val. plus 9¼ cts. per lb.
    554bWoven fabrics, composed wholly or in part of yarns of wool or hair, n.o.p.27½ per cent, ad val. plus 18¾ cts. Per lb.
    554eWoven fabrics, composed wholly or in part of yarns of wool or hair, weighing not less than eighteen ounces per square yard.25 per cent, ad val. plus 20 cts. per lb.
    555Clothing, wearing apparel and articles made from woven fabrics, and all textile manufactures, wholly or partially manufactured, composed wholly or in part of wool or similar animal fibres, but of which the component of chief value is not silk nor artificial silk, n.o.p., fabrics, coated or impregnated, composed wholly or in part of yarns of wool or hair but not containing silk nor artificial silk, n.o.p.30 per cent, ad val. plus 18¾ cts. Per lb.
    568Knitted garments, knitted underwear and knitted goods, n.o.p.25 per cent, ad val.
    568aSocks and stockings of all kinds30 per cent, ad val., plus 75 cts. Per doz. pairs.
    568bGloves and mitts of all kinds, n.o.p.25 per cent, ad val.
    Ex. 156whisky$8 per proof gallon§Withdrawn.
    Ex. 120Canned herrings1¼ cts. to 3frac12; cts.† per box according to size.No date of hearing announced.
    Ex. 352 and Ex.427Water meters20 per cent, or 15 per cent.† ad val.
    Ex.537Rovings, yarns and warps, wholly of jute, not more advance than singles.12½ per cent. ad val.Free entry accorded

    Item No.Items which have been raised as a result of an application by the U.K. Government on behalf of U.K. manufacturers.British Preferential* Tariff rates at the time of hearing.Remarks.
    Ex. 537aRovings, yarns and warps, wholly of jute, including yarn twist, cords and twines, generally used for packaging and other purposes.20 per cent, ad val.Duty increased to 27½t, ad val.
    Ex.548Canvas of flax or hemp, coated or impregnated.25 per cent, ad val., plus 3 cts. per lb.Duty reduced to 15 per cent. ad val.
    611aBoots, shoes, slippers and insoles of any material, n.o.p.25 per cent, ad val.No reduction recommended
    Ex.711Tin/lead alloys in ingots of 56 lb. upwards and containing not less than 55 per cent, of tin and not more than 3½percent. of antimony15 per cent, ad val.†No date of hearing announced.
    Ex. 341Tin/lead/antimony alloys in pigs weighing not less than 100 lb., and containing not less than 15 per cent, of tin and antimony, balance lead.10 per cent, ad val. †No date of hearing announced.
    66aBiscuits15 per cent, or 20 per cent, ad val.Biscuits valued at not less than 20 cts. per lb., f.o.b. accorded free entry.
    430Nuts and bolts with or without threads; washers and rivets, of iron or steel, coated or not, nut and bolt blanks, of iron or steel.50 cts. per 100 lb.,† plus 10 per cent. ad val.No date of hearing announced.
    Ex. 506Wooden doors17½ per cent, ad val.Free entry accorded to wooden doors of a height and width not less than 6 ft. and 2 ft. respectively.
    572Turkish or imitation Turkish or other floor rugs or carpets, and carpets, n.o.p.30 per cent, ad val ‡plus 5 cts. Per sq. ft.
    522Rovings, yarns and warps wholly of cotton, not more advanced than singles n.o.p.12½ per cent, ad val. plus 2 cts. per lb.Hearing has taken place but the report of the Tariff Board has not yet been issued.
    522aRovings, yarns and warps wholly of cotton, not more advanced than singles, when imported by manufacturers of knitted goods, to be used in their own factories in the manufacture of knitted goods.12½ per cent, ad val.
    522bYarns, wholly of cotton, coarser than number forty but exceeding number twenty, not more advanced than singles, when imported by manufacturers for use exclusively in their own factories in the manufacture of cotton sewing thread and crochet, knitting, darning and embroidery cottons.7½ per cent, ad val.
    522cRovings, yarns and warps, wholly of cotton, including threads, cords and twines generally used for sewing, stitching, packaging and other purposes; n.o.p. cotton yarns, wholly or partially covered with metallic strips, generally known as tinsel thread.15 per cent, ad val. plus 2 cts. per lb.
    523Woven fabrics, wholly of cotton, not bleached, mercerized, not coloured, n.o.p. and cotton seam-less bags.17½ per cent, ad val. plus 2 cts. per lb.
    523aWoven fabrics, wholly of cotton bleached or mercerized, not coloured, n.o.p.20 per cent, ad val. plus 2 cts. per lb.

    Item No.Items which have been raised as a result of an application by the U.K. Government on behalf of U.K. manufacturers.British Preferential* Tariff rates at the time of hearing.Remarks.
    523bWoven fabrics, wholly of cotton printed dyed or coloured, n.o.p.22½ per cent, ad val. plus 2 cts. per lb.Hearing has taken place but the report of the Tariff Board has not yet been issued.
    523eWoven fabrics, wholly of cotton, with cut pile, n.o.p.15 per cent, ad val.
    561Woven fabrics, wholly or in part, of artificial silk or similar synthetic fibres produced by chemical processes, not to contain wool, not including fabrics in chief part by weight of silk, n.o.p.27½ per cent, ad val. plus 30 cts. per lb.

    * When the duty exceeds 15 per cent. ad val., or in the case of a specific duty or a specific and ad valorem duty combined, in which the computed rate exceeds 15 per cent. ad val., the British Preferential rate is subject to a discount of 10 per cent. of the duty.

    † Present duties.
    ‡Duty at time of withdrawal.

    *Duty at time of withdrawal. The rate was reduced to $5 under the 1935 Budget.

    Australia

    A very large number of rates of duty in the Australian tariff have been reviewed by the Tariff Board under Article 11 of the Trade Agreement concluded at Ottawa with His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia, and particulars of the resulting tariff changes have been published from time to time in the Board of Trade Journal.

    New Zealand

    There is no Tariff Board in New Zealand but a Royal Commission has already made an inquiry into the protective duties there in accordance with Article 8 of the Trade Agreement concluded at Ottawa. Details of the tariff changes made as a result of this inquiry were published in the Board of Trade Journal on 13th December, 1934.

    Irish Free State

    65.

    asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what is the estimated value of the increase of trade as a result of the recent agreement to the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State, respectively?

    It would not be practicable to give a detailed estimate of the value of increased trade likely to result from the recent arrangement with the Irish Free State, but there is every reason to hope that the value to the trade between the two countries will be substantial.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that a member of the Irish Free State Government announced that, in his view, the trade of the Free State would increase by £750,000 a year, while in the case of this country the increase would be nil, and does he think that an accurate forecast?

    Danzig

    18.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement as to the attitude of the League authorities towards the manner in which tile National Socialist Government in the free city of Danzig is carrying out the undertakings given on its behalf at the last council meeting at Geneva?

    I an: not in a position to make any such statement. The League of Nations is represented at Danzig by a resident High Commissioner whose duty it is to report to the council on any matter to which he considers that its attention should be drawn. He can be relied upon to keep careful watch on the matter to which my hon. Friend refers.

    Commons And Manorial Wastes

    25.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of instances of common lands and manorial wastes to which, between 1st August, 1931, and 31st December, 1935, the public have been granted rights of air and exercise under the Law of Property Act, 1925, and the total acreage of such commons and manorial wastes?

    The number of common lands and manorial wastes, to which public rights of access for air and exercise have been granted during the period indicated, is 30; and the total acreage of such lands is 91,030 acres.

    26.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the report of the Select Committee on Commons, 1913; and whether, in view of the need for legislation on many points affecting common land, he will be able to introduce a Bill implementing the recommendations of that committee next Session?

    I am aware of the report of the committee referred to, but I am not at present in a position to say whether time can be found next Session for the passage of a Bill implementing the recommendations of the committee.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman sympathetically consider this question when he is considering his programme for next year?

    27.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture the date on which the last reliable survey of the commons and manorial wastes of England and Wales was made; and whether he will consider legislation requiring county and county borough councils to make such a survey and requiring them to see that no further illegal enclosures take place?

    A return presented to the House of Commons in 1874 gave particulars of waste lands subject to rights of common and of common field lands in England and Wales, so far as could be ascertained from documents in the Office of the Inclosure and Tithe Commissioners, supplemented by estimates. In 1916 the Commons and. Footpaths Preservation Society prepared an estimate of the acreage of commons which was based on the return of 1874 and amounted to approximately 1,750,000 acres. An exhaustive survey such as the hon. Member would appear to contemplate defining the precise bounds of all common lands would be both complicated and lengthy and I regret that I cannot at present promise legislation on the lines suggested.

    Agriculture

    National Mark Egg Scheme

    28.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the recommendations of the committee which he appointed to consider the present unsatisfactory position of the National Mark Egg scheme; and what action he proposes to take in order to deal with that position?

    I presume my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to an informal committee of the National Mark Egg and Poultry Trade Advisory Committee and National Mark Egg Central, Limited, which was constituted in November last. This committee has not yet presented its final report and, until it has done so, I am unable to forecast what action, if any, may be required.

    Bacon (Export)

    29.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps have been taken by the Bacon Marketing Board since its inception to increase the export trade in British bacon products?

    Owing to the conditions obtaining in overseas markets since the Bacon Marketing Scheme came into operation, the board have not been able to increase the export trade in British bacon.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman confine his attention to supplying enough bacon for the home market at reasonable prices?

    Potatoes (Eelworm)

    30.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to recent outbreaks in this country of eelworm disease in potatoes; and what provision has been made for research into the question of whether a cheap and practical method can be evolved for overcoming this pest?

    I am aware of the increasing prevalence of eelworm in potatoes, and substantial additional grants have, after consultation with the Agricultural Research Council, been made to the Institute of Agricultural Parasitology for the purpose of extending and expediting research work on the pest, the object being to devise practical measures of control.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, judging from a test made in Lincoln in regard to the production of potatoes, this disease is largely due to the use of artificial manure?

    Tithe Rentcharge (Royal Commission's Report)

    31.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture on what grounds the Report of the Royal Commission on Tithe, which has till now been withheld from the House of Commons, has been communicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other individuals?

    The grounds are that consultations have been necessary with the object of elucidating certain matters arising from the Report for the convenience of all concerned.

    Land Drainage

    32.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in order to relieve the occupiers of cottage property from assessment in respect of land drainage rates, he will consider introducing a Bill which will enable a land drainage board by resolution to assess and levy drainage rates on the owners of all hereditaments, other than agricultural land, in a land drainage district, or any part thereof, where the gross Schedule A assessment does not exceed £35?

    As I informed my hon. Friend on 4th February, I do not see any possibility of further land drainage legislation being introduced this Session. I have, however, noted his suggestion.

    That reply is hardly good enough. Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that something will have to be done to remedy this, and that there is in my question a suggestion which would provide him with a way out of his difficulties?

    Oats (Imports From Canada)

    33.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the present position as to the importation of oats from the Dominion of Canada; and whether this position is accepted as satisfactory to oat growers in the United Kingdom?

    My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, is at present in communication with the Canadian Government in regard to the importation of oats from Canada into the United Kingdom during the current cereal year, and pending a reply from the Canadian Government I am not in a position to make a statement on the matter.

    Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the importation of oats from Canada last year was greater than ever before, and was that in accordance with existing treaties with the Canadian Government?

    My hon. Friend will realise that while the matter is under discussion it would be unwise for me to express any opinion.

    Milk Prices (Committee's Report)

    35.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has yet received the report of the Committee of Investigation with regard to the contract prices for milk for 1935–36; and whether it is proposed to make the report available to Members of the House of Commons?

    The Report of the Committee of Investigation referred to has not yet been received. It has been the practice to publish findings but not reports of the Committee of Investigation, and I am not in a position to say at this stage to what extent, if any, this practice will be varied in this instance.

    In view of the importance of this matter, would the right hon. Gentleman give his consideration to the whole question?

    Levant Fair (British Livestock)

    36.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any arrangements are being made for the exhibition of British livestock in the agricultural section of the Levant Fair at Tel Aviv to be held in May next?

    No official arrangements are being made for the exhibition of British livestock at the Levant Fair.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that very much livestock is imported into Palestine, and will he make representations to agriculture interests in this country as to the desirability of advertising the advantage of British livestock?

    I am grateful to the hon. Member for the attention which he has drawn to the matter, and I hope British agricultural interests will see their way to take some such action.

    Post Office

    Delivery Of Letters (West Central District)

    37.

    asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the first delivery of letters in Mecklenburgh Square, W.C.1, takes place about 8.25 a.m.; and if the reorganisation now in progress in the West Central district will result in expediting this delivery at an early date?

    Delivery in Mecklenburgh Square normally commences at about 8.10 and finishes at 8.30 a.m. These times will be maintained under the reorganisation, and I am afraid that it would not be practicable to improve upon them.

    Is it not a. fact that certain other districts, such as Hampstead, have a very much earlier delivery, at about 7.45?

    I cannot answer that without notice, but we have tried to improve the position in the district to which the hon. Member refers.

    His Majesty's Ship "Ganges" (Postal Address)

    38.

    asked the Postmaster-General whether he will restore the postal address of His Majesty's Ship "Ganges" to Harwich, so that this naval training ship may be associated with the name and place which for so long has been connected with the Royal Navy?

    The change in the postal address of His Majesty's Ship "Ganges" was made at the request of the captain-in-charge. The effect has been to afford some improvement in the postal service to the training ship and there seems to be no justification for altering the arrangements.

    Boors Of Stamps (Advertisements)

    39.

    asked the Postmaster-General whether in view of the note of warning issued by the Stock Exchange in their report on fixed trusts and the fact that these trusts are at present the subject of an inquiry instituted by the President of the Board of Trade, he will discontinue the insertion in the books of stamps sold by the Post Office of advertisements of the National Fixed Investment Trust, Limited?

    Advertisements in the books of stamps sold by the Post Office are subject to certain contractual arrangements, which can, if necessary, be reviewed when the result of the inquiry instituted by the President of the Board of Trade is known. At, present, however, there seems to be no sufficient reason for discontinuing the insertion of the advertisements referred to.

    Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that the horse will be well away before the stable door is closed?

    I do not know which animal is referred to, but I should have thought it would be better to await the results of the inquiry before doing anything.

    Telephone Service

    40.

    asked the Postmaster-General whether he proposes to put telephone subscribers on a basis of equality with users of call boxes by making no charge for the call when a telegram is sent through the telephone?

    The object of waving the call office fee in the case of telegrams dictated from call offices is by treating such offices virtually as Post Offices, to facilitate the handing in of telegrams by the general public at all hours of the day and night. Telephone subscribers have the advantage over call office users of being saved the inconvenience of having to visit a Post Office or call office to hand in their telegrams. To waive the penny fee in their case would involve a heavy loss of revenue which I do not feel justified in incurring at present.

    Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman consider that call offices should be subsidized at the expense of ordinary subscribers?

    Call offices are not subsidized. It is a great advantage to be able to send a telegram from one's house without going out-of-doors.

    Houses Of Parliament

    Stonework (Disposal)

    41.

    asked the First Commissioner of Works what arrangements are made for the disposal of stone removed from the Houses of Parliament in connection with the restoration work now in progress?

    Large stone suitable for rock gardens is being disposed of in large or small quantities at 10s. a ton, and smaller stone at 5s. a ton, purchasers to pay, or provide for, cartage. Ornamental pieces suitable for sundials, garden ornaments, etc., are available at various fixed prices. The stone available may be seen on application to the Superintendent of Works (Mr. Holman) at the Houses of Parliament.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much has been realised so far from the sale of the stone?

    House Of Commons (Acoustics)

    42.

    asked the First Commissioner of Works whether his attention has been drawn to the bad acoustic properties of the House of Commons, and the difficulties experienced by Members sitting on the back benches in hearing the speeches of Ministers; will he consider having installed in the House microphones and loud speakers to remedy this; and what would be the cost of this installation?

    I do not consider that the acoustics of this Chamber are unsatisfactory, and I know of no system of microphones and loud speakers which would be suitable for installation in this House, where it is the practice for hon. Members to speak from different places.

    Will the Minister consider introducing the same system in this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."]—as that which is installed in another place?

    No, for the reason I have already given. The reason why the system referred to works in another place is, I gather, because the microphones are on the Table there, but as hon. Members in this House speak from many different parts of the House, it would not be practicable.

    Although my right hon. Friend can be heard everywhere in the House when he replies at Question Time, would it not be desirable to have some installation of the kind mentioned, in the Press Gallery, so that the answers given by some other Ministers might be heard in the Press Gallery?

    I remember Mr. Speaker once saying that anybody who was worth hearing could be heard in this House.

    Lighting

    44.

    asked the First Commissioner of Works what percentage of the electric lamps in the Houses of Parliament are of the gas filled type; and how long will it be before this type entirely supersedes the less efficient types still largely in use?

    About 75 per cent. of the electric lamps in the Houses of Parliament are of the gas-filled type: I am not in a position to forecast the date by which this type only will be in general use, as substitution of gas-filled lamps where available takes place as the old types wear out.

    Would it not be economic to replace all the old-fashioned lamps forthwith by new ones which only use half the energy; and is it not the case that in this respect at present this House is worse equipped than many private houses in the country?

    AS I have said, 75 per cent. have already been converted and I am converting all the time. There are still some of the old lamps not actually in the House but in places where bright illumination is not needed. I have no doubt that those remaining old lamps will be replaced in due course.

    Budget (Broadcasting Arrangements)

    43.

    asked the First Commissioner of Works whether, in, view of the widespread interest throughout the Empire and the world generally in the Budget speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he will consult with the Government departments concerned and other necessary authorities for the purpose of seeing whether arrangements can be made so that the delivery of this speech may be broadcast?

    I have consulted the authorities concerned who remain of the opinion, which they believe to be shared by the House generally, that it is undesirable that the proceedings of Parliament should be broadcast. It has been the practice in recent years for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a broadcast on the Budget in the evening after the Budget speech.

    Defence Services

    Armaments Industry (Profits)

    45.

    asked the Prime Minister what steps, if any, have been taken to ratify his pledge of last May that there shall be no profiteering in the armaments industry; and whether he is satisfied that the present share speculation and inflation does not violate the terms of his pledge?

    I would refer the hon. Member to statements made by my Noble and right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air in June and July last, of which I am sending him copies, as to the steps taken to secure that excessive profits are not made in regard to orders placed in connection with the expansion of the Royal Air Force; and to the reply which I gave on Thursday last to the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) when I said that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that excessive profits are not made in the orders which will be placed to make good deficiencies in the Defence Forces. As regards the second part of the question, His Majesty's Government are determined to give effect to the undertaking that excessive profits are not made on armament contracts; but they cannot accept any responsibility for the movements of share prices on the Stock Exchange.

    Has the Prime Minister no concern whatever with this gross public scandal; and will he not take the appropriate means of putting an end to this gambling, by bringing the important industry of armament-making under public ownership and control?

    Is it not a fact that the rise in the price of shares makes absolutely no difference to the cost of production?

    When the right hon. Gentleman makes reference to "appropriate measures" what does he mean?

    The measures that have been taken, so far, in the limited expansion which has been made, I believe to be satisfactory. The House will have the opportunity, on the pertinent Estimates, of debating that matter. We have, as the House is aware—and they will be told more details presently—a very great problem, in which we desire the co-operation of the whole House, in expansion, that will. have to be met in the next four or five years and, as we go on to meet those conditions, one of our greatest problems will be to consider whether such measures as we have taken hitherto Rill be sufficient. If we think they are not sufficient, we shall certainly suggest others.

    May I press the Prime Minister? Will he take no steps whatever to meet this grave public scandal?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman take care, in order to retain public confidence, not to give way to pressure to put in charge of this kind of work, industrial magnates who have profited much in the past from subsidies of the Government?

    Is it not a fact that armament and aviation firms are to-day not making profits out of the arms and areoplanes which they are supplying to our own country, but out of those which they are making for other people?

    49.

    asked the Prime Minister whether the insertion of a costings clause in armament supply contracts is the sole safeguard contemplated by the Government against excessive profits?

    Is the Prime Minister in a position, in order to allay public anxiety, to specify what other measures will be taken?

    No, Sir. I think I am not prepared at this moment to amplify the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) a few minutes ago, and I would say, with great respect, to the hon. Member, in the words of one of his former leaders, that he should "wait and see."

    May I ask the Prime Minister, since it has been proved already that in this so-called tension, huge profits have been made by swindling or any other term you care to give it—

    Works, Lancashire

    46.

    asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the large expenditure proposed to be spent on modernising and improving our defensive forces, he will consider giving some special inducements to manufacturers to start works in certain of the distressed areas in Lancashire which, although in a depressed condition, are not included in the scheduled areas under the present Special Areas Act?

    I have been asked to reply. It is already the practice in placing Government contracts to give a preference, other things being equal, to firms in the scheduled depressed areas, which include large parts of Lancashire. The Government is unable, on grounds of general policy, to accept the suggestion that a special inducement, other than that conferred by the preference above referred to, should be given to manufacturers to start works in any particular district of Lancashire.

    Do I understand from the answer that the areas outside those scheduled in the Act, which I have mentioned in the question, are not to get any benefit from this at all?

    No, the hon. and gallant Member is not entitled to draw that deduction. The policy is, other things being equal, to give a preference to firms in the depressed areas including those in Lancashire. The answer means what it says.

    And is the meaning of it that the areas to which I refer are not to be included?

    House Of Lords

    47.

    asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to introduce legislation during the present Session for the reform of the House of Lords?

    International Situation (Information)

    48.

    asked the Prime Minister whether confidential information regarding the international position is now being given to the Leader of the Opposition, as has been done in previous Parliaments, in periods of tension?

    Does not the Prime Minister think that it is employing unnecessarily alarmist language to use the term "a period of tension"; and may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks that there is a period of tension now?

    Perhaps the hon. Member would address his question to my questioner.

    Cabinet Ministers (Newspaper Articles)

    50.

    asked the Prime Minister who takes the decision whether or not a given newspaper article by a Cabinet Minister infringes the Cabinet rule; and at what date or epoch, or by what other criterion, a subject passes from the permitted historical to the forbidden political sphere?

    The answer to the first part of the question is that in this, as in other matters, individual Ministers must be judges of their own conduct. If they are in any doubt, they are always able to consult the Prime Minister of the day or their colleagues. In reply to the second part of the question, I can only say that each case must obviously be decided on its merits.

    Paddington Estate Trust

    54.

    asked the hon. Member for Central Leeds as representing the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, whether the interest which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have in the management of the Paddington Estate Trust amounts to a controlling interest; and whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' consent is necessary before any change or redevolopment can take place in the property under the control of the Paddington Estate Trust?

    The position in this estate is that, while the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are entitled to a share, generally one-third, of the income, the management is in the hands of a trust. The basis of the relationship between the two bodies is that the Commissioners are he freeholders, the trust holding a lease for the residue of 2,000 years.

    The Commissioners have power to require that they shall join with the trust in the grant of any sublease or tenancy, but this power cannot be regarded as entitling them to claim more than protection of their present financial interests or of the value of their reversion in some 1,900 years' time.

    Am I right in thinking that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners cannot establish any control over any changes which may take place in the property?

    That is so. They can in no way control changes unless they were manifestly to the financial disadvantage of the Commissioners.

    Does the hon. Gentleman consider that it is in the interest of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that they should derive profits, or at least an income, from a trading estate over which they have so little control?

    The position is admittedly not wholly satisfactory. It is one from which the Commissioners can only escape by Act of Parliament, failing voluntary agreement. They have on more than one occasion attempted to obtain physical division of the property whereby they would acquire absolute control of their own share, but that has not yet been possible.

    Mercantile Marine (New Construction)

    55.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the total tonnage of new shipping constructed during 1935 and the tonnage for 1934?

    I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the tonnage of merchant vessels of 100 tons gross and over launched during 1934 and 1935 respectively and the tonnage under construction at 31st December in each of those two years.

    Following is the statement:

    Tonnage launched:

    According to the returns of Lloyd's Register of Shipping, the tonnage of merchant vessels of 100 tons gross and upwards launched in the world during 1934 and 1935 was 967,419 tons gross and 1,302,080 tons gross respectively.

    The corresponding figures for Great Britain and Ireland were 459,877 tons gross in 1934 and 499,011 tons gross in 1935.

    These figures include all vessels launched, whether they were completed during the year or not.

    Tonnage under construction:

    There were under construction in the world on the 31st December, 1935, 1,543,153 tons gross of merchant vessels of 100 tons gross or upwards, of which 743,086 tons gross were under construction in Great Britain and Ireland.

    The corresponding figures for 1934 were 1,251,722 tons gross in the world and 596,834 tons gross in Great Britain and Ireland.

    These returns of vessels under construction include all vessels not completed whether they had been launched or not.

    Palestine (Land Occupation)

    58.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can tell the House how much land still remains in Palestine owned by the Arabs; and what proportion of this land is held, respectively, by owner-occupiers, by landlords, or on some communal system?

    I am consulting the High Commissioner for Palestine on the points raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, and I will communicate with him in due course.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the legislation proposed in Palestine as to the restriction on the sale of land in the future is intended to apply to all land held by the Arabs or only to that held by owner-occupiers?

    The proposed legislation will apply to all land outside the excluded areas, whether held by Arabs or by Jews and whether held by landlords or by owner-occupiers.

    Can we be assured that legislation will not be imposed without this House being consulted?

    Scotland

    Industrial Development

    60.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered the recommendation made by the Commissioner of Special Areas in Scotland that an authoritative Scottish body should be set up to assist development and research with a. view to the encouragement of Scottish industrial enterprises; and whether he proposes to take, or has taken, any steps to give effect to the recommendation?

    The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I hope to be in a position to make a statement at an early date.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman, in any steps he takes, bear in mind not only those areas which are specially scheduled as distressed areas, but those areas which, although not scheduled, are in a position of considerable distress?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman consider including in the terms of work of this body, in addition to economic and commercial matters, social and cultural matters that will be for the benefit of Scotland?

    Public Assistance (Disability Pension)

    61.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of the First Division of the Court of Session in the appeal by Aberdeen County Council against the decision of a sheriff who held that the Poor Law Act of 1934 prohibited local relieving officers from taking into account the first £1 of a disability pension; and whether he will introduce amending legislation at an early date to carry out the intention of the Government to disregard such disability pension payments in granting public assistance?

    By the decision to which the hon. Member refers, and which was pronounced by the First Division of the Court of Session on 13th February, it was held, reversing the judgment of the Sheriff, that the direction to disregard the first 20s. of any wounds or disability pension applies only in the assessment of the amount of relief to be afforded, and not in the determination of the question whether the applicant for relief is a poor person within the meaning of the Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1845. I am informed that the question of an appeal against this decision is at the moment under active consideration. The whole position is being carefully examined, but at the moment my right hon. Friend is not in a position to say what action, if any, may be necessary.

    May I ask whether, in the meantime, Poor Law authorities will operate the decision as originally given by the sheriff, and that while the appeal is pending no ex-service man shall be penalised?

    I am afraid that the decision of the Court of Session holds until it is reversed.

    Is it not the case that this decision will be applied only to new applicants?

    South Africa (Native Franchise)

    63.

    asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will make inquiries as to the particulars of the suggested compromise in respect of the native franchise in the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa?

    66.

    asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will ask for a report from His Majesty's High Commissioner in the Union of South Africa on the recent proposals as regards native representation?

    The matter relates to legislation which is at present under the consideration of the Parliament of the Union of South Africa. I am being kept informed as to the position by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in the Union.

    Does the Statute of Westminster entirely deprive my right hon. Friend of any power to protect the legitimate interests of these natives?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the other scheme is no compromise whatever, and that they are both diametrically opposed to the interests of justice?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that great anxiety has been expressed by those who are qualified to speak for the natives in Cape Province?

    Unemployment

    Statistics

    67.

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons in receipt of transitional benefit in each Employment Exchange area in the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, with the weekly cost of benefit, during the three months ended December, 1934?

    This information is being extracted, and will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as it is available.

    68.

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed persons in Great Britain up to the last available date; the number of persons chargeable to the Unemployment Assistance Board; the number of persons unemployed in the special areas; and the number of persons chargeable to the Unemployment Assistance Board in the special areas?

    At 20th January, 1936, there were 2,159,722 unemployed persons on the registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain, of whom 735,665 were applicants for unemployment allowances. The corresponding figures for the special areas were 423,587 and 226,696, respectively.

    Stand-Still Arrangement

    69.

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons in the special areas who, for various reasons, are not protected by the stand-still arrangement, and the additional cost to the board provided these persons were so protected?

    The provisions of the Unemployment Assistance (Temporary Provisions), 1935, apply to all persons who are in receipt of allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board, and in all cases applicants receive the amounts which would have been payable by way of transitional payments or the amounts computed on the basis of the board's regulations, whichever are the more favourable to them. I do not, understand, therefore, the hon. Member's reference to persons who are not protected by these arrangements.

    Will the hon. and gallant Member try to reply to the question? Is there no difference between the board's regulations which were withdrawn and the transitional payments which were formerly in operation? Seeing that the transitional payments were higher than those under the board's regulations will he now tell the House what is the actual difference in the cost between the two?

    The hon. Member asked me to answer his question. His question is, "Will I state the number of persons in special areas who for various reasons are not protected by the stand-still arrangement?" and as I find it difficult to understand to what people the hon. Member refers—and I still find it difficult—I cannot state the number of persons.

    Is not the hon. and gallant Member aware that all new cases, and all cases in which there is a change of circumstances, come under the board's regulations, and not under the stand-still order? Is the hon. and gallant Member not aware of that very well known fact, and is he not in a position to tell the House the additional cost?

    No, the stand-still arrangement means that whichever is the higher sum to which a man is entitled, whether under the Unemployment Assistant Board's determination or under transitional payments, he is to get the higher sum.

    On a point of Order. This is really rather important, because the Minister apparently misunderstands entirely what the position is in the special areas.

    Insurance (Inconsiderable Employment) Regulations

    70.

    asked the Minister of Labour what steps he intends to take to preserve the stamp insurance rights of workpeople who obtain employment under the conditions laid down in the Unemployment Insurance (Inconsiderable Employment) Regulations, 1935?

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the same subject on 12th February to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher).

    Does the hon. and gallant Member say that it is his intention not to give the House some form of explanation of the Order other than the answer to a question by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher)?

    But is the Minister aware that the Order is not so easily explained? The language used by himself and his officials is not always readily understood, and will he take steps to see that this House and the country are better acquainted with the provisions of the Order?

    I think the hon.-Member will agree that it would be a big order to start explaining Government Orders which were not easily understandable in answer to supplementary questions.

    I am not asking the Minister to answer a supplementary question, but will he take the opportunity to explain it to Parliament on some suitable occasion?

    I will certainly consider the hon. Member's suggestion for explaining anything which is not clear to the hon. Member.

    Royal Air Force

    Aeroplanes (Wireless Equipment)

    71.

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the Royal Air Force machine that landed in the sea near Havre was equipped with wireless; whether this; machine was in communication with any wireless station; and, if so, why this machine was not directed by wireless to some English aerodrome free from fog?

    The aircraft was in communication throughout by wireless with Andover wireless station. Bearings were given to the pilot and he was instructed to land at Northolt, as his own aerodrome was obscured by low clouds.

    Does not my right hon. Friend think that the Air Ministry ought to have made quite certain that the weather conditions were suitable before allowing these exercises on that night?

    One of the reasons for these exercises was to train pilots in flying under cloud conditions.