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Commons Chamber

Volume 314: debated on Wednesday 8 July 1936

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 8th July, 1936.

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

Private Business

Epsom and Walton Downs Regulation Bill [Lords],

As amended, to be considered upon Monday next.

Land Drainage Provisional Order (No. 2) Bill,

Read the Third time, and passed.

Oral Answers To Questions

Italy And Abyssinia

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will inform the House as to the attitude of the French Government towards the proposed abandonment of sanctions; and whether they desired to abandon them unconditionally or with reservations?

The attitude of the French Government towards the proposed abandonment of sanctions was made clear in the communique issued in Paris on 19th June, in which it was stated that the French Government, having been informed of the position as regards the question of sanctions, considered that the existing circumstances tended in favour of accepting their removal. The French representative on the Co-ordination Committee agreed to the proposal, which the committee decided on 6th July to submit to the various Governments concerned, in which it was proposed that the Governments of the members of the League of Nations should abrogate, on 15th July next, the restrictive measures taken by them in conformity with the committee's proposals last autumn. He made no condition or reservation.

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Government intend to oppose or acquiesce in the illegal conquest of Abyssinia by Italy?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) on 22nd June, and to that given by me to the hon. Member for East. Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) on 1st July, to which I have nothing to add.

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the question of the conquest of Abyssinia by Italy was discussed at the recent meeting of the Council of the League of Nations at Geneva; and, if so, what was the attitude taken by His Majesty's Government and what decision was agreed to?

The question of the conquest of Abyssinia by Italy was not discussed at the recent meeting of the Council, but at the Assembly. In the preamble to the recommendation passed by the Assembly on 4th July, it was stated that the Assembly remained firmly attached to the principles of the Covenant, which were also expressed in other diplomatic instruments, such as the declaration of the American States dated 3rd August, 1932, excluding the settlement of territorial questions by force. In favour of this recommendation, the United Kingdom Delegation voted, together with 43 other Delegations. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the recommendation.

The terms of the League's recommendation make it clear that there has been no recognition of Italy's annexation of Abyssinia at the present Assembly.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the reason for the additional expenditure last year in connection with the movements of the Navy in the Mediterranean and with the drafting of troops to Egypt and the western desert?

I would refer my hon. Friend to my statement on this point during the Debate in the House on 24th February. There is nothing which I can add to that statement.

In view of the fact that we now know that the Government were never prepared to risk a single ship, why were they sent there at all?

Mediterranean League Powers

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at what time, and under what conditions, the British guarantee to assist Jugoslavia, Greece and Turkey against an Italian attack will be terminated; and to what extent the guarantee differs from the terms of the Covenant of the League of Nations?

As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend on this particular point in the course of the Debate on 18th June, to which I have nothing to add. With regard to the second part, the assurances in question arise out of paragraph 3 of Article 16 of the Covenant and cannot, therefore, be said to differ from it.

Has any progress been made towards appointing a date for this arrangement to come to an end?

I am afraid I cannot at present add to my right hon. Friend's answer.

46.

asked the Prime Minister in what way he proposes to implement the pledge of protection to Mediterranean League Powers?

The actual steps which would be taken by His Majesty's Government to implement the assurances in question would obviously depend on the circumstances of the aggression against which the assurances were intended to provide a guarantee. I would, however, remind the hon. Member that these assurances are purely provisional and that His Majesty's Government regard the eventuality to which they are intended to apply not only as hypothetical but as improbable.

While trusting that the right hon. Gentleman is fully restored to health, does not his answer mean the throwing over of the Home Secretary when he declared something very different quite recently?

Did not he say he was not prepared to risk a single ship in the Mediterranean?

Is it clear that on this Occasion, and for this purpose, the Government are prepared to risk a British ship?

Dardanelles

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Dardanelles Straits Convention is treated as being a part of the Treaty of Lausanne; and what modifications of the latter have been requested of the Turkish Government in exchange for the proposal that the former should be abrogated?

Article 23 of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey, signed at Lausanne on 24th July, 1923, states that the parties to the Treaty recognise the principle of freedom of transit and navigation in the Straits as prescribed in the separate Straits Convention signed that clay, which was to have the same force and effect as if it formed part of the Treaty of Peace. Similarly the preamble to the Straits Convention states that the parties to the Convention desire to ensure freedom of transit and navigation in accordance with the principles laid down in Article 23 of the Treaty of Peace. No modifications of the Treaty of Peace have been sought from the Turkish Government.

Would the Noble Lord tell me why we make this very important concession to Turkey, and whether we should not ask them for the recision of some of the concessions we have granted to them?

For the simple reason that nothing affecting the Treaty of Peace arises out of these discussions.

As the Straits Convention is an annexe to the Treaty of Peace, surely it must be regarded as part of the Treaty of Peace as a whole, and if one part of it is modified, surely other parts should be modified as well?

Danzig

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make with reference to the situation in Danzig?

I have nothing to add to the statement which my right hon. Friend made on this subject in the House on Monday last.

Can my Noble Friend give an assurance that the High Commissioner will be fully supported by the British Government through the League, in the admirable and impartial way in which he has carried out his duties?

His Majesty's Government always act properly as a member of the League.

International Labour Organisation

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what States are members of the International Labour Organisation which are not members of the League; and what States, whether members of the League or not, are not members of the International Labour Organisation?

The following States are members of the International Labour Organisation which are not members of the League: The United States, Brazil, Japan, Egypt. All members of the League are members of the International Labour Organisation. Of the States with which His Majesty's Government normally maintain diplomatic relations, the following are members neither of the League nor of the International Labour Organisation: Germany, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, The Papal State.

Consular Service

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what changes have been made in the recruitment or administration of the Consular Service since November, 1931; and the increase in numbers of this service since that date?

No change has been made of recent years in the method of recruiting the Consular Service. As regards administration, the various branches of the service were amalgamated in 1934 and 1935, as far as future entrants were concerned, so that such officers will not now spend all their career in one area. The total number of salaried officers in 1931 was 351, and at present is 348, a decrease of three.

Is every endeavour being made to obtain British nationals to accept this service, before the appointment of foreigners'?

To the best of my knowledge, yes; but perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that question down.

League Of Nations

10 and 11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether, in view of the failure of the League of Nations to apply economic and financial sanctions, it is proposed to take any steps to reorganise the League along its present lines in September;

(2) whether, at the next meeting of the League of Nations, he will put forward a proposal to consider the question of regional pacts as applied to the League?

I cannot at present add anything to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to a question by the hon. Member for East Willesden (Mr. D. G. Somerville) on Monday last.

United States (Capital Ships, Construction)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any notification has yet been received from the Government of the United States of their announced intention, in view of the non-adherence of Japan to the London Naval Treaty, 1936, to construct capital ships with 16-inch guns instead of with 14-inch guns?

Is the Minister aware of the statement made last week by the acting-Secretary to the Navy, to the effect that the United States intended to change her policy on those grounds?

No notification has been received from the Government of the United States.

Anglo-Egyptian Conversa Tions

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make Any statement as to the present Anglo-Egyptian negotiations?

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any information on the renewal of the negotiations for an Anglo-Egyptian treaty; on what subjects agreement has been reached; and what subjects remain for discussion?

Conversations between the heads of the two delegations were resumed at once upon the return of His Majesty's High Commissioner to Cairo. Up to date, these conversations have been restricted to the military clauses of the treaty. No final agreement has yet been reached. The question of the Sudan, and the civil clauses of the treaty, still remain to be discussed.

Does the Minister expect to be able to make a statement before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Is regard being had, in these conversations, to the importance of securing water rights for the Canal zone?

Manchuria

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any official report has reached him as to the announcement by the Foreign Minister of the de facto State of Manchukuo relating to the extra territorial rights of foreigners; what is the precise nature of the changes contemplated; and to what extent the rights of British subjects are affected?

Yes, Sir. I understand that the authorities in Manchuria issued a statement in general terms on 1st July to the effect that it was their intention gradually to abolish the extra-territorial rights at present enjoyed by the subjects of Powers which have not recognised that regime. As my hon. Friend will no doubt be aware, a treaty providing for the gradual abolition of Japanese extra territorial rights in Manchuria was concluded between the Japanese Government and the Manchurian authorities on 10th June. This was mainly concerned with the gradual application of Manchurian taxes to Japanese subjects. The intentions of the Manchurian authorities in regard to the extra territorial rights of other foreign Powers are no doubt similar, though no details are yet available.

Is my Noble Friend aware that since the adoption of this policy by the Manchukuo Government there has been the very serious incident of the arrest of a British subject of Indian nationality in Manchukuo, and will the Government take all necessary steps to protect the interests of British nationals in that State?

I have already explained that His Majesty's Government have yet no detailed information. We are closely watching the position, but until those details are known, it is impossible to know what action it would be proper to take.

Is it true that Japan is the only country not inconvenienced by our non-recognition of Manchukuo?

China (Smuggling)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received information from His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Peking on the question of the placing of Chinese Customs guards in the goods yards of the railway termini at Tientsin and Peking; and whether any attempt has been made to prevent the Chinese Customs service from adopting this safeguard?

No, Sir. The necessary inquiries have been made, but there has not yet been time to receive a reply.

Mandated Territories

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, as His Majesty's Government have in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute pursued a policy not in complete accord with that of the Dominion most closely concerned by Italy's breaches of treaty and unprovoked aggression, he will give an undertaking that in any future discussion with regard to the return of the former German colonies, he will relate his policy closely to the desires of the Union of South Africa?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made in the House on 12th May by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for West Birkenhead (Lieut.-Colonel Sandeman Allen), to which I have nothing to add.

Does not that mean that the Union is resolutely inflexible on the matter?

Is the Noble Lord aware of the large amount of propaganda that is taking place in the area mentioned in the question; and what steps are being taken to combat it?

Germany (British Note)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the German Government have explained to His Majesty's Government the reason of their failure to answer the inquiry addressed to them by His Majesty's Government on 6th May?

The German Government have given no formal explanation of their delay in replying to the British inquiries. They have, however, indicated that they have hitherto been reluctant to return an answer in view of the obscurity of the international situation.

Is the Noble Lord aware of the open contempt with which the officially-inspired Press of Germany is treating this questionnaire?

Royal Navy

China Squadron

21.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any orders have been issued to the Commander-in-Chief of the China squadron in connection with the customs incident between China and Japan?

Prize Fund

22.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether there is any surplus still in hand of the grants which were made from the residue of the prize fund which came into operation by the passing of the Naval Prize Act, 1928; and, if so, whether he will give particulars and state when and to whom it is proposed to distribute the same?

The entire residue Of the Naval Prize Fund has been disposed of. A final statement of account was presented to this House on 16th February, 1934.

Palestine

Situation

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make on the latest situation in Palestine?

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make on the present position in Palestine?

While there has been some fluctuation from time to time in the number of acts of violence, there is little apparent change in the situation since my statement on 19th June. The broken nature of the country, and the opportunities which it affords for sniping and for acts of sabotage by armed persons at night, necessarily adds to the difficulties of Government in restoring order. Numerous arrests and seizures of arms and ammunition have been effected in the course of operations, and collective fines in sums varying from £5,000 to £60 have been imposed on the towns of Lydda and Hebron and on a number of villages. On 28th June the garrison was further reinforced by a mechanised cavalry regiment, the 8th Hussars.

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet received the communications from the Supreme Moslem Council containing the original proposals of the Arabs and also explaining very clearly that they still support the strike?

Yes, Sir; communications have been received. I think the communications added to their original demands.

In view of the continuance of the political strike, involving, as it is doing, not only loss of material wealth but loss of human life, what steps, if any, are contemplated with regard to the leaders who are inspiring this strike?

We are doing all we can by military reinforcements to restore order in the whole country.

Have not the Supreme Moslem Council made it quite clear that, while supporting the strike, they do not agree with the acts of violence?

Has the Minister paid any attention to the criticism of the Palestine High Court as to the method of conducting affairs in Palestine, especially the demolition of parts of Jaffa?

It is not the duty of this House or of myself to comment on anything said by a Judge in the High Court, any more than it is the duty of Ministers here to comment on what is said by the Lord Chief Justice or any other Judge in this country.

Foreign Propaganda

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now received a report from the High Commissioner, Palestine, on the existence of Italian propaganda in Palestine and adjoining countries?

I have received certain information as to propaganda from outside sources, but I do not consider that it would be in the public interest to make any detailed statement. I would assure the hon. and gallant Member that the position is being carefully watched, and that all practicable measures are being taken to counteract hostile foreign propaganda.

Mufti Of Jerusalem

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Mufti of Jerusalem was selected for his appointment by the High Commissioner for Palestine or elected by his fellow Moslems?

I am glad to have the opportunity to make this matter clear. The Mufti of Jerusalem holds the appointment of Rais el-Ulema or President of the Supreme Moslem Sharia Council. His Eminence was elected to this office in 1922 by a Moslem general committee which was itself elected by secondary electors.

Is it not a fact that the Mufti is not and never has been a Government official, as has been alleged?

I say that he was elected by Mohammedans, but he is recognised by the Government.

Is it not the case that the Grand Mufti does receive £600 per annum from the Palestine Government?

As I explained before, in respect of purely judicial functions he receives, as do the Judges in Palestine, remuneration from public funds.

Jaffa (Demolition Of Houses)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any of the houses recently destroyed in Jaffa possessed archaeological interest; and whether the Government of Palestine is trying to preserve the ancient features of the country?

It is most unlikely that any of the houses recently destroyed in Jaffa possessed archaeologi- cal interest. As regards the second part of the question, the answer is in the affirmative. By an Ordinance enacted as early as 1920 a special Department of the Palestine Administration was established for the protection of the historical monuments and antiquities of Palestine, and this Department has been actively administered.

Moslem Religious Courts

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that during the past two years Jewish taxpayers in Palestine have contributed approximately £9,000 towards the cost of the maintenance of the Moslem Supreme Council while the Jewish religious courts and the Chief Rabbi have received no financial support of any kind from Government sources; and whether it is proposed that this arrangement should be continued indefinitely.

The expenditure on the Moslem Religious Courts exceeds their income and this deficit is a charge on public funds to which both Arab and Jewish taxpayers contribute. No similar subvention is held to be required in the case of the Courts of the other religious communities. The President of the Supreme Moslem Council has agreed in principle progressively to diminish the deficit by the reduction of expenditure and the increase of fees. The deficit, which was £12,610 in 1933–34, was reduced to £9,520 in 1934–35; and it is expected that within the measurable future the administration of the Moslem Religious Courts will involve no charge on public funds.

Italian Broadcasts

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to state the result of his inquiries into the nature of recent broadcast messages in Arabic from Bari?

No, Sir. I have addressed an inquiry to the High Commissioner for Palestine as to the allegation that recent Arabic broadcasts from Bari have included defamation of British troops, but I have not yet received the High Commissioner's report.

Nyasaland (Native Labour, Emigration)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to carry out the recommendations of the committee which was appointed by the Governor of Nyasaland to inquire into the recruitment of labour for work in Southern Rhodesia and the South African Union; and, in particular, whether any steps will be taken to promote an economic alternative to emigration, in order to prevent the serious consequences to native social and economic life outlined in the committee's report?

As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen) on 1st July, I am awaiting the Governor's considered recommendations before coming to any decisions as to the various lines of action which would seem to be called for.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration, when he is considering this matter, the possibility of the development of cotton in this area?

Efforts have been made in that direction, as the hon. Member knows, but it is a very difficult country from the point, of view of growing economic crops for export. The principal crop grown by natives in Nyasaland is tobacco, but the market for tobacco is rather limited.

Might not that be a reason for paying special attention to the possibilities of cotton?

Efforts have been made for a number of years to introduce cotton in Nyasaland.

Trinidad (Radio Service)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received the report from the Governor with relation to direct radio communication with the island of Trinidad?

Yes, Sir. I have now received the report, and am communicating with my hon. Friend on the subject.

Trade And Commerce

Colonies (Import Quotas)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he proposes any modification in the quotas now in force for imports into various Colonies; and whether any steps are proposed to be taken to restrict importation into Uganda and Kenya to the figures of 1924, or in proportion to that rate?

As regards the first part of the question, no general revision of the quotas is proposed at present. As regards the second part of the question, international obligations under the Berlin and Brussels Acts and the St. Germain Convention prevent the introduction of quota restriction on imports into Kenya and Uganda.

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to prevent the importation, under the quotas, of cotton cloth which is only finished in this country, and is not really British cloth?

I shall be very glad to have any detailed representations as to whether these quotas are being evaded in any particular way.

Australia

92.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the restrictions imposed by Japan on Australian goods following upon the declaration of His Majesty's Government in Australia and their subsequent action to maintain the Australian market for British goods, he will take steps to reduce imports from Japan into this country until Japanese discrimination against Australia ceases?

My right hon. Friend has not yet received a copy of the Ordinance, but I understand that it is so framed as to restrict the importation of certain commodities from Australia. The question of making representations to the Japanese Government, or taking other steps in regard to this matter, is one for His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia. As my right hon. Friend has already stated, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom fully recognise the value to United Kingdom trade of the recent revision of the Commonwealth duties on textiles.

Is not this an opportunity of intimating that action taken against any part of the Empire is action taken against the whole?

Kenya

Land Occupation (Indians)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is willing, in order to meet the objections of the Indian community in Kenya and of public opinion in India, to leave the question of the occupation of land in the Kenya highlands to be dealt with as a matter of administrative practice as hitherto?

There is not and never has been any intention of varying the procedure hitherto followed, by which this question is dealt with as a matter of administrative practice.

Is it not a fact that what has hitherto been merely an administrative practice has now become a legal obligation?

No. As I explained very fully in answer to questions last week and the week before, that is a complete misapprehension.

White Settlers (Financial Assistance)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give particulars of the assistance granted to white settlers in Kenya since 1931, whether in the form of subsidies remission of taxation, licence duties, or railway rates; what sums have been advanced through the land bank; how much has been refunded, whether in interest or capital repayment; what sums are still owing to the Government by the settlers; and what number and proportion of the settlers have benefited by these measures?

I regret that I am not in a position to furnish full and accurate information on all the points desired by the hon. and gallant Member, but I am asking the Governor to furnish me with a full statement. With the hon. Member's permission I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement of such figures as are in my possession.

Following is the statement:

Under the Agricultural Advances Scheme sanctioned in 1930 sums have been advanced from surplus balances to farmers which are repayable with interest. The amount outstanding at the end of 1935 was £106,595. A land bank has been established with an authorised capital of £500,000 and steps are now being taken to increase that capital to £750,000 with a possible extension to £1,000,000. The total amount of advances made by the bank up to date has been £518,425, some of the original advances having been repaid with interest and re-lent. A subsidy to enable an economic price to be paid for maize has been approved for the current year amounting to £12,500. Railway rates on certain commodities have been reduced, but the reductions cover a variety of articles and are designed to benefit the trade of Kenya generally, native as well as European, and not any one section. Loans, totalling £116,090 have been made to the maize, wheat and barley industries. Provision is made for repayment by a levy on exported maize should prices hereafter permit.

Malta

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the intention of the Government, during the interim period before the new constitution for Malta is promulgated, to see that all persons inhabiting the Colony shall have full liberty of conscience in regard to religious matters?

The existing Constitution provides that all persons in Malta shall have full liberty of conscience and the free exercise of their respective modes of religious worship: and it is the intention of His Majesty's Government fully to maintain this provision in force.

German Airship "Hindenburg"

40.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that on 30th June the German airship "Hindenburg" flew for the second time within a few weeks at a low altitude over Leeds; whether he has any statement to make on the matter; and, in particular, whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to allow foreign aircraft to fly low over this country without adhering to a specified route at a reasonable altitude?

39.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the German airship "Hindenburg" is regularly flying over various parts of this country; and whether there is any understanding between the British and German Governments on the matter?

There has hitherto been no question of this airship regularly flying over this country. While, under the Anglo-German Air Convention, each of the contracting parties grants liberty of passage to the aircraft of the other, this is subject to the proviso that special formal permission would be necessary for the operation of a regular route by an air transport company of one of the parties across the other's territory. In accordance with this there is an understanding between the British and German Governments that the "Hindenburg" and the "Graf Zeppelin" will avoid flying over this country except when forced to do so by some urgent necessity of navigation. There is therefore no right under the convention for an airship undertaking a regular service to fly over this country: and an airship so engaged would only be justified in doing so if compelled thereto by stress of weather. The question of recent flights is being taken up with the German Government.

Is the right hon. Baronet aware that on the last occasion that the "Hindenburg" flew over the industrial districts of the north she was right off her course, and would this kind of licence be granted to foreign aeroplanes?

Does not the right hon. Baronet think the Germans know all about our arsenals and dockyards without flying over them?

Is the right hon. Baronet aware that the hon. Member's constituency is not the only part of the country to which the "Hindenburg" appears to have paid particular attention?

56.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will invite the commander of the German airship "Hindenburg" to fly over London so as to give the inhabitants the opportunity of seeing the ship?

Does my right hon. Friend remember that three years ago the "Graf Zeppelin" flew right over the centre of London and took Members of this House for joy-rides; and does he also remember the great pleasure which that trip gave not only to Members of this House, but also to the inhabitants of London?

58, 59 and 60.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) whether the Air Ministry meteorological reports of weather conditions over and around the British Isles on Sunday last were such as to render imperative the crossing of the British coast by an airship making for Germany, or whether conditions would have reasonably allowed of a course up channel to have been taken;

(2) whether the German airship "Hindenburg" flew over or sufficiently close to allow observation of any prohibited area when crossing England on Sunday last; and, if so, what action the Air Ministry propose to take in the matter;

(3) the number of journeys across the Atlantic undertaken by German airships during the past three months; and the number of times the English coast has been crossed during such passages?

As regards the need for the course taken by the "Hindenburg" on Sunday last, it is not possible to form an accurate judgment by a subsequent examination of the data contained in ordinary meteorological reports, particularly as the commander of an airship may have to take into account additional safety factors peculiar to lighter-than-air craft. I think it is therefore reasonable to assume that the commander of the airship exercised a proper discretion on this occasion. No complaints respecting low flying or failure to observe the regulations as regards flying over prohibited areas have been received, and there is no reason to believe that the regulations were not properly observed. German airships have made 11 return journeys across the Atlantic since the end of March, but as they (in common with foreign aircraft generally) are not kept under special observation, unless they are reported to be infringing regulations, I am unable to state the precise number of occasions on which they have crossed the English coast.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very grave misgivings that exist in the country with regard to this airship, and will he take action to see that a repetition of these flights round these particular areas is not allowed indefinitely to continue without a protest being made by His Majesty's Government?

These flights are allowed only in case of urgent necessity, and certainly not as part of a regular service, and the avoidance of prohibited areas must be strictly observed, and, as I said in answer to another question, these recent flights, are being taken up with the German Government.

What was the urgent necessity on the last occasion for the airship going north?

Can my right hon. Friend say whether cameras are permitted to be carried on this airship?

Foreign aircraft flying over British territory are not allowed to carry cameras unless permission has been obtained.

63.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Graf Zeppelin flew at a low elevation over the Solent and Portsmouth area on the evening of 5th July; whether there are any regulations to prevent such flying; and what steps are taken to enforce them?

As regards the first part of the question I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend, who, I assume, is referring to the airship Hindenburg, to the reply which I have already given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour). As regards the second part, detailed regulations dealing with low flying in different circumstances, and with flying over prohibited areas, are contained in the Air Navigation (Consolidation) Order, of which I am sending a copy to my hon. and gallant Friend. As regards the last part of the question, any infringement of the regulations reported by the police would be taken up with the German Air Ministry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this airship flew at a very low elevation over Southampton Water down the Solent, and over the prohibited area of Portsmouth on Sunday evening last; and as he says that no complaints have been received, will he receive the number of complaints which I have received from my constituents about this infringement?

I shall be glad to have any information the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes to give me.

Is it not a fact that a regular air liner from the Isle of Wight to London stops at Portsmouth and goes right over this prohibited area, and that a foreigner could go on that air liner and take photographs from the windows?

Royal Air Force (Accident, Driffield Aerodrome)

44.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he can give the House any information in connection with the fatal accident to Richard Sygroves, who was killed at Driffield aerodrome; and whether he can give the cause of the accident?

This workman was an employé of a firm of contractors engaged upon constructional work at the Driffield aerodrome, which is being prepared for occupation as a Royal Air Force station. I regret that I am informed that he was struck by a scaffold board which fell from the roof.

Foreign Policy

45.

asked the Prime Minister if he will arrange for a three days' Debate on foreign affairs before the House adjourns in July?

There have already been several Debates on foreign policy this Session, and further opportunities remain for the subject to be debated on allotted Supply Days and on the Appropriation Bill.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the motives behind this question are the same that he outlined in a recent speech at a school, and will he use his influence to avoid the repetition of what has taken place during the last six months so that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen responsible for Versailles, Gallipoli and the Dardanelles shall not be allowed to dominate these Debates?

Defence

Supplementary Estimates

47.

asked the Prime Minister when it is proposed to present the Supplementary Estimates dealing with the Defence Forces announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday, 3rd July?

Supplementary Estimates for the Navy, Army and Air Services have been presented to the House, and will be available to Members to-morrow.

Trade Union Co-Operation

49.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether he is receiving full co-operation from the trade union movement in the production of the munitions required to support the present foreign policy of the Government?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Short) and the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) on 25th March and 1st April respectively.

Has the right hon. Gentleman actually as yet been in contact with any representatives of trade unions in connection with the Government's rearmament programme?

Do we understand that the Government are perfectly satisfied with the progress made and that no consultation is to take place?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that intelligent trade unionists are not prepared to give cooperation?

Food Supplies And Raw Materials

50.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether steps are being taken to bring all matters relating to the maintenance in this country of adequate food supplies and raw materials into the framework of a coordinated scheme under a single Government Department?

If, as I understand, my hon. Friend has in mind the establishment of a new executive Ministry, the answer is in the negative.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that under present arrangements the question of increased production of foodstuffs is being examined?

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend seems to have misunderstood the question, can he say whether there is any intention on the part of the Government to bring these matters under one of the existing Government Departments?

All these matters are under one existing Department—under the Committee of Imperial Defence.

51.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether any steps have yet been taken to increase the amount of grain stored in the United Kingdom?

53.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether any decision of His Majesty's Government, based upon the conclusions of the special sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence now examining the problems of our food supplies in the event of war, will be announced to the House prior to the Adjournment for the Summer Recess?

Substantial progress has been made in the inquiry into food supply in time of war, but it has many aspects and each is the subject of thorough investigation. No final decision can be arrived at with regard to grain storage apart from decisions on other matters now under examination. Grain storage itself involves many factors such as location, transport, security and naturally market considerations. Much of the Committee's task is concerned with matters of organisation including the preparation of plans for the defence of trade and for the distribution of supplies through all stages to the consumer. I could, of course, should the House so desire, give an account of the work in progress, but I think it would probably be more convenient if I reserved my statement until the results of the inquiry can be given.

Is not the main thing to get the grain into this country, and will not the port authorities give every possible assistance once that principle is accepted?

I do not know what my hon. Friend means by saying "the main thing is to get the grain into this country." If grain is to be stored, it must either be produced in increased quantities or brought into the country. When a decision is arrived at on many of the matters to which I have referred, then will be the time to decide whether it is necessary to increase the storage of grain.

Is it not a fact that ample accommodation is not yet fully used, and as and when it is decided that it shall be used, will not the port authorities come to an arrangement with the Government and make use of the existing accommodation immediately?

That is very true and, when a decision is arrived at, no doubt the co-operation of the port authorities will be available.

Why all this anxiety? Have you any country in mind that will make an attack upon this country?

Are we to understand from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the advisability or not of storing large quantities of grain in this country is still undecided by the Government?

As I have already said in my answer, if my hon. Friend will read it again, the ultimate answer to that question depends upon decisions on a number of other factors which are being closely investigated at the present time.

Ministry Of Supply

52.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether His Majesty's Government have yet reached a decision as to the advisability of setting up a ministry of supply?

The Government will set up such a ministry if and as soon as they are satisfied that this would be in the public interest and calculated to facilitate or increase the rate of the completion of the Government programme.

Are we to understand that this matter is still under consideration, or that a decision has been taken for the time being not to set up a separate ministry of supply?

It is a misconception of the position to speak of the decision as final. It is a matter which must constantly be under Government consideration, every day and every week.

If there is such keenness on the other side to secure adequate food supplies in time of war, why should not the Government start now and see that every family is adequately supplied?

Unemployment Assistance Regulations

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the difficulty in recording an expression of opinion on certain aspects of the household means test in the forthcoming Unemployment Assistance Regulations, he will withdraw the Government Whips and permit a free Vote of the House.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that many of his supporters will be in a position of great difficulty?

I recognise, if the hon. Gentleman were in my place and I in his, the answer that I should have got.

Will the right hon. Gentleman advise the resignation of his Government and try it out?

If this means test really had to take into account all the earnings of the family, including widows and children, how does it differ from Circular 1069 of the Labour party?

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement with regard to the issue of the draft Unemployment Assistance Regulations?

In order to meet the convenience of the House, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has done his utmost to arrange for the issue of the draft Unemployment Assistance Regulations some days earlier than 14th July, the date previously announced. He now finds that it will be possible to issue them to-morrow, 9th July. Copies of the draft Regulations and other relevant documents will be obtainable in the Vote Office to-morrow evening.

Is it proposed that these draft Regulations shall be debated before the House rises for the Summer Adjournment?

May I ask the Prime Minister to consider this point. These Regulations concern a vast number of people and time is extremely short to ascertain what their effect Will be. Further, they concern local authorities who will be presently rising for their summer vacation, and will have but a short time to consider them. Is it not possible to have a Debate but not to come to a final decision until the autumn?

I understood that the right hon. Gentleman desired to raise that point. While I have always been anxious since I have been Leader of the House to do what I can to meet the Opposition in any reasonable demand, I cannot see my way, after mature consideration, to accede to that request. By dint of a good deal of rather heavy work we have arranged to produce these Regulations some days earlier than was originally intended, and in our view ample time will be allowed—far longer than was allowed last year; the time was short then. In our view it is the duty of the House, as soon as they have had an opportunity of studying these Regulations, to see that they are passed, if the House think fit to pass them. I can say nothing at the moment as to the date, because I am anxious to give the House as long as possible for their consideration. We propose to give three days' full discussion to this matter, and we propose to complete it before the House rises for the Recess.

May I put another point to the Prime Minister? As he knows, the difficulty about these Regulations is that it is not possible for the House to amend them. The difficulty over the last Regulations was that they were unamendable, and if a preliminary discussion was held before the House rises for the adjournment it would be possible to review the whole matter, and if there was a necessity for amendment they could be reintroduced in the autumn; otherwise we shall be in the same difficulty as last year, when Regulations which had been passed had to be withdrawn.

What the right hon. Gentleman has said is the fact, and it is because of that fact that the Government have given so much time to a close examination of the details of these Regulations. I do not believe that the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman anticipates will arise in practice. The fact that we have to take them as a whole or leave them is owing to the Statute.

Has not the Prime Minister really supported the point 1 made? If it took so long for the Government to consider these Regulations, is it fair for this House and the country to have to come to a final decision at such very short notice?

I do not quite see the force of that. I think the work we have done will render the work of the House very much easier.

May I ask the Prime Minister to consider three points? First of all, is he aware that the local authorities are vitally concerned, that in Scotland at the present time all the local authorities are on holiday, that the town council of the second city in Britain—Glasgow—has now risen for the holidays, and that it is impossible to consult with the local representatives? Secondly, is he aware that on the issue of Income Tax in regard to children, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he thought that it was always desirable before finally making up his mind on legislation to hear what the Members of the House have to say, and will the Prime Minister employ the same practice on these Regulations as he does in the case of Income Tax for the rich? Thirdly, seeing that the Government and the board which has had to go into the matter have now taken 12 months to consider it, surely the Prime Minister might give the House of Commons at least a much more reasonable opportunity of examining the Regulations?

With regard to the last point, the hon. Member and the House must bear in mind that at the time of the last General Election it was made perfectly clear that these amended Regulations would be brought forward, and certain undertakings were given at the time by Members who contested seats at the General Election. It has been our endeavour—unfortunately a very protracted one—to get these Regulations as quickly as we could. We have been pressed by the Opposition to produce the Regulations, and not only to produce them, but to pass them into law. With regard to the hon. Member's point about local authorities, he is aware that there is no statutory connection between the public assistance allowances paid by the local authorities and those paid under the Regulations. The local authorities so far as they may be available have all the information that the hon. Member and other Scottish Members will require and they can get the information they may desire, and in our view there will be ample time for the examination of the Regulations and for them to get such information as they desire. I do not believe for one moment that with the period of time now remaining any Member of the House who desires to make himself sufficiently familiar with the subject to take part in the three days' Debate will be in any way hampered in doing so.

Would the House or the Government lose anything by at least hearing what the Members of the House of Commons have to say before finally making up their minds? Having heard what the board has to say and what every other kind of people has to say, is it too much to ask the right hon. Gentleman, before bringing the Regulations forward in final form, that he should ask the public representatives of the people concerned what they have to say before making up his mind?

I trust that will be so. There will be a very long period, and in that time the House will have no difficulty in listening to what may be said by those who are qualified to speak on this very difficult subject, and come to a decision.

May I put two points to the Prime Minister? The first concerns a matter to which he has already referred when he said there is no connection whatever between the public assistance committees of the local authorities and the new Regulations. I would point out that there is a very vital connection, that is to say, the question of the second appointed day, which is bound to come up. May I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that, in fairness to the local authorities, who will not be aware of the Government's proposals until Friday morning, an interval of time should elapse before the Government make up their mind in order that they may hear what the local authorities have to say? My second point is that the trade union movement of the country will not be aware of the proposals which are made, and their members are very vitally concerned by them. Surely there ought to be some interval of time in which they can make their representations to the Government? Would it not be meeting the convenience of the House on all sides, and would it not perhaps be wiser for the Government to allow representations to be made to them after a free discussion rather than to come to a decision which they might have to reverse when the House re-assembles in the autumn?

The right hon. Gentleman has put his points very clearly and very reasonably, but I cannot see my way to meet him, because in my view it is important that the House should come to its decision and that, particularly after the long time we have been waiting, there should be no further delay. With regard to the appointed day, I understand it will be announced to-morrow. We have been at pains to put the appointed day a considerable distance ahead, and this will give ample time for all the authorities to study the proposals and to make their necessary arrangements.

I understand the new Regulations are to operate from 1st November. We are not asking for any change of date. There can be no delay if the House meets in October. There is no reason why the decision should be taken now. If it were taken in October, the right hon. Gentleman would in the meantime have had the advantage of being able to collect public opinion on this matter before the House comes to a final decision.

I think the right hon. Gentleman said 1st November; I believe it is 16th November.

May I ask a question on behalf of the City of Glasgow, which has suffered more than any other city in regard to the strain put upon it? The Prime Minister has said that there will be time for the local authorities to consider these Regulations, but if a decision is taken now what will be the good of that consideration, since it will not be possible for any change to be made. It is no good telling us a certain thing has been decided unless we have power to say it is wrong and that it has to be put right. What right has any government to say that a local authority, treated as Glasgow would be, with a big surplus—[Interruption].

Airport, London

61.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what arrangements have now been made for the development of a site in Essex for a central airport for London; whether any alternative sites are under consideration; and what transportation facilities are available to and from Central London for the site selected?

There is at present no information which I could add to that which I gave to my hon. and learned Friend on 20th May last.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Court of Common Council has given approval to the site in Essex, and whether consideration of any further site is before the Council or not?

We have received no formal application from the City of London, nor from other authorities.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for what he has said, is he satisfied that the Fairlop site is sufficiently centrally situated to be of real assistance in view of the existing transport facilities?

Information is available for hackney and goods vehicles only and for the years indicated in the statement which follows. The figures relate to vehicles for which licences were current at any time during the quarter ended 30th September, 1935.
Hackney Vehicles.
YearElectrically propelled.Light Oil Fuel.Coal Gas Fuel.Other Fuel (Heavy Oil, etc.)Total.
1932Not available.84,950
1933Not available.85,077
19341,00281,72912,39785,129
19351,17678,8305,54185,547

Goods Vehicles.
YearElectrically propelledStream driven.Light Oil Fuel.Coal Gas Fuel.Other Fuel (Heavy Oil, etc.).Total.
19321,3255,849362,646280370,100
19331,3035,100380,0101,074387,487
19341,5482,735404,710104,317413,320
19351,8912,113425,276145,429434,723

Roads (Island Of Lewis)

65.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the widespread opposition among the people of the Island of Lewis to 10-feet roads with passing-places as being too narrow for the greatly increased traffic; and whether he will extend his 100 per cent. grants to carrying out a progressive widening and improvement of roads and help to preserve the present safety on these roads by maintaining the 16-feet width at all points?

Transport

Mechanical Vehicles (Statistics)

64.

asked the Minister of Transport the number of mechanical vehicles using as fuel petrol, oil, coal gas, or pulverised fuel, in use in the British Isles in the following years 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, respectively?

I will, with permission, circulate these figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that though I put a question to the Ministry it was not this question; and that even the first question was not answered properly?

It need not be the same question, but at any rate the same answer applies.

Commercial Travellers' Cars

66.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is now in a position to state what action he proposes to take with regard to the representations recently made to him by a deputation representing commercial travellers?

The United Commercial Travellers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland recently represented to me that commercial travellers who slightly adapted ordinary private cars to carry samples not for sale were placed under certain disabilities through having to take out "C" licences for their vehicles as if these vehicles were commercial vehicles. I have made regulations which will relieve this hardship.

Underground Garages

67.

asked the Minister of Transport whether his Department has issued, or intends to issue, any circular to local authorities suggesting the desirability of building underground garages; and, if so, whether he can give any details?

:A letter addressed on my behalf to local authorities on 15th August, 1935, contains the following paragraph:

"35. By section 16 of the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, 1935, the powers of local authorities to provide parking places are now extended so as to include the provision of buildings and underground parking places for the same purpose, with power to let on hire. The Minister regards the provision of adequate parking accommodation at reasonable charges as a potent means of reducing the inconvenience to traffic and the danger to life and limb caused by the presence of waiting vehicles in the streets. Where private enterprise does not meet public needs in this regard, the Minister trusts that in all appropriate cases this important matter may receive the very early consideration of local authorities."

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it necessary to get powers from Parliament to make grants to local authorities for building such garages?

I do not think that is necessary. The local authorities have power to make a charge to recoup their expenses.

Level Crossings, Bridges And Roads (Lancashire)

68.

asked the Minister of Transport the number of level crossings in Lancashire in 1935 and the number of level crossings abolished during the years 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1935, stating the amount of grants made by his Department towards the costs of such replacements?

The number of level crossings in Lancashire in 1935, so far as can be ascertained from the available records, was 253, of which 56 were on classified roads. Three level crossings were abolished or eliminated during the period 1st April, 1930, to 31st March, 1935, with the aid of grants from the Road Fund amounting to £56,221.

69.

asked the Minister of Transport the number of bridges in Lancashire which are scheduled as defective in 1935, stating the number of bridges which have been strengthened and the number of new bridges built during the years 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1935, and the amount of grants made for this purpose during the same years?

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate such information as I have in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the information:

Two hundred and sixty two privately-owned bridges on classified roads and the more important unclassified roads in Lancashire were scheduled in 1930 as bridges to which a weight limit might be applied under Section 30 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933. During the period 1st April, 1931, to 31st March, 1936, grants from the Road Fund were made for the strengthening of 12 privately-owned bridges and the construction of 29 new bridges amounting to £265,421. In addition, a number of other publicly-owned bridges have been strengthened and new bridges built in Lancashire but detailed information is not readily available as many bridges were included in comprehensive road improvement schemes assisted by grants from the Road Fund.

70.

asked the Minister of Transport the number of new roads or roads under repair which have received, or are receiving, grants from his Department during the years 1934 and 1935 in Lancashire, stating the total amount of such grants and the number of people employed on such work?

I will, with permission, circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

County of Lancashire.

County Areas.County Boroughs.
1934–35.1935–36.1934–35.1935–36.
Number.Amount.Number.Amount.Number.Amount.Number.Amount.
Grants in repect of:££££

(a) New Road Construction.

Nil.5117,311Nil.976,607

(b) Major Improvements.

65121,083107240,4951832,77836118,200
In addition grants amounting to £358,312 in 1934–35 and £362,415 in 1935–36 were made to the Lancashire County Council under the classification scheme towards the maintenance and minor improvement of all classified roads in the County Area.
No information is available as to the number of men employed on these works.

Prosecution, Hove

71.

asked the Minister of Transport in connection with the case of Messrs. Clarke's Bread Company, Limited, of Fonthill Road, Hove, who were prosecuted by the traffic commissioners for breaches of the road traffic regulations, how many summonses were issued for permitting men to drive for more than 11 hours in 24; how many summonses were issued for allowing men to drive for more than 5½ hours without one hour's rest; how many summonses were issued for allowing men to drive without at least 10 hours' consecutive rest in 24; what was the total amount of fines imposed in connection with these breaches of the law; and what action he intends taking in the matter?

Permitting driving for more than 11 hours in 24135
Permitting driving for continuous periods exceeding 5½ hours93
Permitting conditions under which persons driving had less than 10 consecutive hours for rest in 245
233

The total amount of the fines imposed was £699, or with costs £821 odd. The requisite action appears to have been taken in the manner prescribed by law.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in consequence of the disorganised state of the men in many of these industries we are unable to get the records of the hours worked?

The hon. Member can hardly put that question after the answer I have given. It is clear that this firm was fined a considerable amount of money in a prosecution. It is the desire of Parliament to see that the law is observed and every practical step will be taken to that end.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the commissioner reported the firm and not the men in question, because they are afraid to make a report lest they should be victimised?

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of taking powers to impose cumulative penalties, and has he not enough experience of the working of the Act to enable him to take steps to reduce the very long hours that are now being worked on the roads?

The hours are limited by law, and Parliament has done its best in that respect. It is true that men are naturally reluctant to give information, but I do not see how that could be overcome by any Act of Parliament.

Road Schemes

73.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, seeing that in the next financial year, 1937, he proposes to take over certain specified roadways as a national responsibility, he is taking any steps to ensure that the present autho- rities continue their present schemes of widening and repairing such roads until the transfer is made?

I have no reason to suppose that highway authorities will neglect their responsibilities.

74.

asked the Minister of Transport the estimated amount of expenditure to be made under the schemes submitted by the Leicestershire County Council under the five-year road plan; the estimated amount of expenditure under such of those schemes as have been approved for the purposes of Road Fund grants; and the amount of the Road Fund grants promised in respect of such schemes?

The estimated cost of schemes included in the five-year programme submitted by the County of Leicester is £1,945,898. The estimated cost of the works for which, grants have already been made or indicated is £941,111, and the estimated amount of grant from the Road Fund in respect of such works is £623,818.