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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 315: debated on Wednesday 22 July 1936

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Argentina (Trade Agreement)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will, in order to prevent misunderstanding, make it clear to the Argentine Government that the British public requires to be satisfied that there has been a removal of the restrictions which have deprived earning power to £200,000,000 invested in the Anglo-Argentine railways before ratification of any trade agreement dealing with Anglo-Argentine textile and meat transactions?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to a similar question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne, North (Sir N. Grattan-Doyle) on 24th June, to which I have nothing to add.

Collective Security


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the success attained in the British Empire by the policy of collective security in protecting it from attack, he will seek an extension of the principle and the inclusion of other States willing to co-operate loyally on this basis?

The policy of His Majesty's Government as a member of the League of Nations is to apply the principles of the Covenant collectively, and it is their hope that all Governments will co-operate to this end.

Is it not a fact that the British Empire has a great lesson to teach the world in the successful working of our collective system, as in so many other things, and will the right hon. Gentleman press this forward as energetically as he can?

In view of the circumstances, will my right hon. Friend make sure that we do not transfer any part of the British Empire to any foreign State?

Germany (Olympic Games)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now ask for an assurance from the German Government that they do not propose to make use of the occasion of the Olympic Games being held in Berlin for the purposes of political propaganda and as implying recognition of and support for the Nazi regime?

Is it not notorious that the German Government use all these occasions for propaganda purposes, and can we not have some security that the persecution of the Jews will not immediately commence after the Olympic Games are over?

The hon. Gentleman asked whether I could give an assurance from the German Government on this subject, and my answer was perfectly clear.

Does not my right hon. Friend view with disfavour these impertinent pin-pricks against a friendly nation?

Is it not a fact that the very magnificent and large stadium that has been erected for the Olympic Games is going to be permanently used for Military or Air purposes?

France, Belgium And United Kingdom (Meeting, London)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has communicated to the other signatories of the agreement of 19th March his view that the situation has not arisen envisaged in that agreement that if conciliation failed certain steps described in Sections 1 and 2 of the letter to be addressed to Belgium and France would be taken, including joint action, against aggression; and whether his view is shared by the representatives of France and Belgium?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the question asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) on 21st July on the subject of the forthcoming meeting of the Locarno Powers.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the point which was not covered in that reply yesterday, as to the view taken by France and Belgium?

I think it has been made quite clear that the purpose of the conversations is a constructive one for further progress in Europe, and I should deprecate anything being said until the meeting is over to give a contrary impression.

But it is a fact, is it not, that the staff arrangements in the meantime remain in full force?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement with reference to the forthcoming meeting of Locarno Powers?

I would refer the hon. Member to the terms of the reply given by the Prime Minister yesterday to a question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) to which I have nothing to add.

May I ask the names of the British delegation; and also whether it has been made perfectly clear to the German Government that this is only a preliminary conference, and that no decisions will be taken which will be prejudicial to the forthcoming principal conference?

The British delegates will be the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal and myself. As regards the purpose of the conference, I think that has already been made abundantly clear, and I have nothing to add to what I have said.




asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any further information as to the situation in China since he made his last statement; and will he give particulars?

As regards the situation in South China, relations between the Central Government and the provinces of Kwangtung and Kwangsi remain strained. On 14th July the Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee at Nanking passed a unanimous resolution abolishing the South-west Political Council and the South-west Branch Executive Committee. I have no information of any fighting having taken place between the Central Government troops and the South-western forces; and it appears probable that the authority of the Central Government will be asserted without hostilities. I understand that the principal leader of the South-western forces has in fact left Canton for Hongkong. As regards the situation in North China there has been no marked change of recent months, except in so far as concerns the smuggling problem. For the present position in regard to this matter I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 13th July to a question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing).

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether smuggling is just as prevalent as it was?

If the hon. Gentleman will read the answer to which I have referred him he will find the latest information on the subject.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he hopes to be able to make a statement on smuggling in Northern China before the House rises?

I cannot say whether the situation will have appreciably altered before the House rises, but if my hon. Friend will put down a question for this day week, I will give the House any further information in my possession.

Has there been any further answer from the Japanese Government?

European Union (Committee Of Inquiry)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government are in favour of calling together the Committee of Inquiry for European Union, created by the late M. Briand; and, if so, whether they will co-operate with the French Government for such purpose?

The question of the Committee of Inquiry for European Union is on the agenda of the forthcoming session of the League Assembly, and I should prefer not to anticipate the discussion of this item which will take place in the normal course at Geneva.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the statement that was made in the Chamber of Deputies on 23rd June by the French Prime Minister expressing a strong desire that this policy should be adopted?

I think my answer infers that we shall keep our liberty of action in the matter, but obviously we should not resist any demand for discussion.

Iraq (Arab Disturbances)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what British interests are imperilled by the recent revolt of Arabs in Iraq in which 4,000 Arabs have lost their lives; and whether any British lives or property are in danger?

The disturbances to which by hon. and gallant Friend refers affected only a limited area in the Middle Euphrates district. I understand that there was some loss of life, but I have no reason to suppose that the casualties in any way approached the figure quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend. My information is that the disturbances are now at an end, and so far as I am aware no British lives or interest have been endangered.

Does not this indicate that life under Arab rule is dangerous as well as under other people's rule?

I do not think it would be fair to draw too unfavourable or unfriendly deductions from events which are not limited to one particular form of rule.

Royal Navy

Training Establishment, Rosyth


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state approximately when a beginning will be made with the erection of the training establishment for boys and for artificer apprentices at Rosyth; whether additional housing accommodation will have to be provided and, if so, by whom; and whether the local authority will require to provide any additional public service?

It is anticipated that a commencement will be made with the erection of the training establishment at Rosyth in approximately 12 months' time. The Admiralty do not propose to provide residences other than those which will be erected within the establishment. Information at present available suggests that no additional public service will be required.

Drifter Fleet


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will consider making a financial contribution towards the annual expenses for maintenance and repairs of the number of drifters which will be required for Admiralty purposes in the event of war?

I regret that I cannot hold out to my hon. Friend any hope of subsidising any part of the drifter fleet from naval funds.

Does not my Noble Friend see the danger, unless some form of assistance is forthcoming, of losing a class of seamen who may be absolutely essential to the security of this country in the event of war, and will he reconsider this matter from the point of view of the value of the personnel?

From the Admiralty point of view all sections of the fishing fleet and of the mercantile marine are equally important, and it is difficult to discriminate by giving subsidies to one section and not to all of them.

"City Of Khartoum" (Rescue Measures)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty at what hour the naval authorities at Alexandria received notice that the flying-boat "City of Khartoum" was missing; at what hour the first naval vessel left the harbour; at what hour the stand-by destroyer left the harbour; and whether there was any misunderstanding or miscarriage of signalling or orders resulting in delay of rescue measures?

According to my information, the fact that the "City of Khartoum" was overdue was reported to His Majesty's Steamship "Beagle," which was emergency destroyer at the time, at 8.44 p.m., over an hour after the flying-boat had actually crashed, and after getting steam up she proceeded to sea to search at 9.35. I am not aware of any misunderstanding or miscarriage of signalling or orders on the part of the naval authorities resulting in delay of rescue measures.

Does it normally take an hour, or nearly an hour, for an emergency vessel to get under way in the Navy, and is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with that length of time?

I have asked a question arising out of the answer, which disclosed a state of affairs which I feared obtained, and I now wish to know whether the Noble Lord is satisfied with the fact that it took nearly an hour for this stand-by vessel to proceed to sea after receiving notice that the aeroplane was missing and in the sea?

I understand that the destroyer got to sea at the earliest possible moment.

Why will not the Noble Lord be quite candid with the House, and tell us exactly what happened on this occasion?

Having regard to the anxiety which is felt when the First Lord of the Admiralty is absent, can the hon. Gentleman tell us where he is to-day?


Police Force


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the nature of the duties which members of the Palestine Police Force have been called upon to carry out since the declaration of the Arab strike last April; whether he is aware that British policemen have protested against an attempt to use them as soldiers and that a number were sent home under arrest from Haifa on this account; what was the nature of the demands put forward by the Arab policemen in the district of Jerusalem under threat of strike action if the demands were not conceded; and whether all the demands were granted?

The duties of the Palestine Police Force, which is an armed force, are prescribed by various Ordinances, by regulations made thereunder, and by special regulations made by the High Commissioner, since the outbreak of the disturbances, under the Palestine Defence Order in Council. I am not aware of any such protest as that referred to in the second part of the question. I will ask the High Commissioner for information on the points raised in the third and fourth parts of the question.

Arab Officials' Memorial


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the fact that a body of Arab Government officials, including judges and administrative officers, have signed a memorandum condemning the policy of His Majesty's Government in respect of Palestine, whether any disciplinary action is contemplated; and whether these officials will remain in the service of the Government they criticise?

I have recently received, through the High Commissioner, a memorial presented to him by Arab officers in the First Division of the public service of Palestine, on the subject of the present situation in that country. The memorial is now under my consideration, and I am not in a position to say what reply will be returned to it.

Is it consistent with the duty of these officials to submit such a memorial upon events in Palestine?

No, but I think a matter of this kind is governed by the traditions of the British public service and the Services generally, and if the memorial is submitted to the Secretary of State through the High Commissioner, in the recognised and prescribed way, it is always considered.

Has the Minister also received the findings of the judge of the Supreme Court, and are they in accordance with the statement he made in this House regarding affairs in Palestine?

I do not know what the hon. Member means. I made a statement in regard to the state of affairs generally; this petition from the Arab civil servants also deals with the matter generally.

Do we understand that these people have the right to submit this petition?

On a point of Order. I wanted to put down a question on the subject of the findings of the Supreme Court, and I tried to do so, but it was ruled out. Is there any way by which I may do that?

Royal Commission


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now announce the personel of the Palestine Commission and the date when it will commence work?

I hope to be able to make a statement about the personnel and terms of reference of the commission to-day week.

Can the Minister say anything about the date when they will commence working?

I cannot say anything but what I have already said. The commission obviously cannot go to Palestine until there is sufficient order in the country to enable it to move about the country.

Surely the members of the commission should be ready to face the difficulties of the task they have taken on?

No, it is quite impossible to send out a Royal Commission until local conditions permit.

Is it not because conditions are difficult that the commission is being appointed? Why not send it out to get on with the job, instead of sending it out when the trouble is over?

Has the situation improved, and is it better than it was three weeks ao?

I say quite frankly that the position is still serious. The amount of armed outrage, shooting, holding up of communications and threats to pipe-lines is still serious.

Is it impossible to reconsider the decision not to appoint a woman on this commission?

That is rather another matter. I have already answered a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Lovat-Fraser) on that point, in which I said that I did ask the High Commissioner whether it was practicable, and I received a reply, which I gave to the House, that it would affect the religious susceptibilities of the zealous Jews and many of the Arabs.

Would the right hon. Gentleman receive representations on this matter from people in this country who also are acquainted with the facts?

I have received such representations, including some from educated Arabs now in England, but they cannot speak for all in Palestine. Anyone who knows the conditions there knows that people of that type do not represent what is a considerable section of the community.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of withdrawing the troops?

May I ask a supplementary question on Question 24? Is it an index of the fitness of the Arabs for self-government that they would not even appear before a Commission which included a woman?

I do not think that that question arises out of the question on the Paper.

Jewish Immigration


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will assure the House that no change in the declared policy of the Government with regard to the immigration of Jews into Palestine will take place until after the Royal Commission has reported?

As I informed the House on 19th June, His Majesty's Government can contemplate no change of policy whatsoever with regard to Palestine until they have received and considered the report of the Royal Commission. As regards, however, the suggestion that there should be a temporary suspension of immigration while the Commission is carrying out its inquiry, I am not at present in a position to make any statement as to the intentions of His Majesty's Government beyond saying that their decision will be taken in due course on the merits of the case, and that there is no question of it being influenced by violence or attempts at intimidation.

Trinidad Electric Light Company


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the date on which the Municipality of the Port of Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies, will take over, in accordance with the judgment of the court, the Trinidad Electric Light Company?

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Trinidad did not finally conclude the matters arising out of the arbitration, since, in the first place, it directed remission to the arbitrators on one question and, in the second place, as neither the Port of Spain Municipality nor the Trinidad Electric Light Company is satisfied with the judgment of the Supreme Court, they are proceeding by way of appeal to the Privy Council. It is expected that the appeal will be heard in October.

Gold Coast (Education)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is any system of compulsory education for native children under the Gold Coast administration and the number of native children of school age in the Colony?

There is no system of compulsory education in the Gold Coast. I have already informed the hon. Member that no statistics are available showing the number of children of school age. It has been roughly estimated that the number is 700,000 in the Gold Coast, Ashanti and the Northern Territories Protectorate.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is satisfactory that only 43,000 children should be receiving educational facilities out of a total of 700,000?

I do not think that is a fact. The hon. Gentleman asked me how many were receiving education in Government or Government-aided schools, but I think others receive education in the mission schools. I gave him the figures for the Gold Coast. Ashanti is a separate Colony, and the Northern Territories Protectorate is another.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that during the last 35 years, only 30,000 children have been given educational opportunities in the Gold Coast, and that at that rate of progress it would take 700 years to educate them all?

I think that calculation is not made upon a sound basis, or that that deduction can be drawn. As a matter of fact, the Gold Coast regards itself as rather in the van of progress.

If the right hon. Gentleman's figures are only approximate, is it not time that attention were given to getting definite statistics?

I do not think that quite as many Africans are educated in the Gold Coast as in other Government schools in East Africa, but very good progress is being made.

Cinematograph Films

Censorship (Colonies)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reports his Department has received during the past two years of cinematograph films banned from exhibition in any of His Majesty's Colonies; will he give the country of origin of same; what method of censorship of films exists in the Colonies; and what alterations in same are contemplated?

The censorship of films in the Colonies is necessarily a matter for the local authorities, and cases in which films are banned are not normally reported to me. In the majority of the Colonies the censorship is exercised by a special board consisting of two or more members. The system appears to be working satisfactorily, and I have received no suggestions that any change is required.

Would the right hon. Gentleman answer that part of the question which asks for the country of origin of the banned films?

Not more than 40 films have been banned, and there are between 40 and 50 Colonies and Protectorates, which all have their different and varying systems. It would be ridiculous if, every time they banned a film, they reported to me.

For the purpose of assisting the British film industry, could not the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries?

If the hon. Gentleman has any case of grievance of the British film industry because of the banning of a film in any particular Colony, I should be prepared to make inquiry into the matter, but a general roving inquiry would lead us nowhere.

Hong Kong

26 and 27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the difficulty of exhibiting British films in Hong Kong owing to the system of block-booking and blind-booking imposed by American distributors on Hong Kong distributors; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter;

(2) whether, in order to secure the adequate exhibition of British films in Hong Kong, he will require the compulsory exhibition of a 20 per cent. quota of British films at each performance in accordance with the principle of the Cinematograph Films, Act, 1927?

22 and 23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) the number of cinematograph films released for exhibition in Hong Kong during the year ended 30th June, 1935, of British and American origin, respectively;

(2) whether, in order to secure the exhibition of a reasonable proportion of British films in Hong Kong, he will consider the imposition of a special registration tax on foreign films analogous to the tax on foreign motor cars imposed under Ordinance No. 32, of 27th October, 1932?

I am afraid that I have not the figures asked for by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), but I will ask the Governor of Hong Kong if he can supply them. On the question of policy, I am fully alive to the considerations that have prompted my hon. Friend's questions. For economic reasons, the moment is not very opportune for imposing restrictions upon film enterprise in Hong Kong, but the whole question is engaging my attention, and I can promise my hon. Friends that it will not be lost sight of.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the period ending on 30th June this year the proportion of American films in Hong Kong was something like 92 per cent., while the proportion of British films was only 5 per cent.? In view of the very serious question of prestige which may arise in connection with the showing of films to Chinese audiences, will my right hon. Friend speedily get in touch with the Colonial Governor on the matter?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also suggest that the same Clauses as are embodied in the Cinematograph Films Act in this country should be included in that Act?

I believe that the institution of quotas in China, and particularly in Hong Kong, would be an extremely difficult way of doing it. It is conceivable that it could be done by differential taxation, but I do not want to prejudge the issue.

Tanganyika (Marriage Customs)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that a girl named Kekwe, in Tanganyika, was recently sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for the manslaughter of the man chosen by her parents to marry her against her will; and whether he will consider promoting a law in Tanganyika, and in other British dependencies in Africa, requiring notice of intending marriage to be given to the tribal authority, who shall register such marriage and prevent it if the girl refuses, or will he take other steps to prevent the forced marriage of African girls?

I have seen a reference in the Press to the case mentioned by the hon. Member. As regards the general question involved, I understand that in all British African Dependencies women are free to bring cases of attempted coercion to the notice of the authorities, in which event appropriate steps would be taken. I am asking the Governors of the Dependencies concerned whether the present practice is, in their view, sufficient to prevent abuses, and if not, what further steps they consider might be taken in the matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the authority in that particular case was Archdeacon Owen, who has very great knowledge of the customs in the Colony; and will he, perhaps, communicate with Archdeacon Owen and take his statement?

In the first part of my reply I said that I have seen a reference in the Press. It was a letter from Archdeacon Owen in the "Manchester Guardian." It is quite true that he has great knowledge of the Kavirondo tribe. In most African tribes the old idea of coercion is completely eradicated.

Kenya (Publications, Confiscation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what grounds the administration of Kenya Colony confiscates in the post books of Socialist economic theory and history by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and similar writers, when such books are openly published in this country by reputable firms of publishers?

I have no information as to publications which are confiscated in the post in Kenya, as it is customary to leave this matter to the discretion of Colonial Governments.

Is the Minister aware that it was an Englishman in Kenya who wrote to a quite creditable English firm for some literature that he wanted to study?

I had supposed that it must have been an English settler who wanted to wade through that dreariest of dreary books "Das Capital."

West Africa (Mineral Resources)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any steps will be taken to secure uniform conditions as regards the ownership of minerals in the West African Colonies; and whether he will secure that a proportion of the profits arising from mining shall be placed in a trust fund to be applied in due course to African progress and development?

As the hon. Member knows, the Crown owns the minerals in some parts of West Africa but not in others, and I do not contemplate any steps to alter existing rights of ownership. In the West African Colonies, Government expenditure is, almost entirely, devoted to the native population, whether by way of administration or through the development of social services. In the case of Sierra Leone and of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, trust funds have been established into which are paid mining rents or royalties, or a proportion of them, and from which grants are made for the development of services in the areas whence the funds' income is derived.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what particular services these funds are applied? Are they applied specifically to the improvement of education and to health services?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I think, in those cases in which the minerals are held to belong to a native tribe collectively, the trust funds would be used for the benefit of that tribe.

Is any proportion of the profits from the trust devoted to the purposes mentioned by my hon. Friend?

The question is a rather complicated one because of the variety of ownership. In some places the minerals are owned by the Crown, in others they are owned by the natives, and there are different types of native ownership; but where the funds are derived from mineral royalties or mineral rents which belong to natives, they are, of course, specially allocated for the benefit of the owner.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what rents, royalties, or licence fees are received by the Crown for mining properties in Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast, respectively?

I will send the hon. Member a statement giving the information he desires. It will take a little time to prepare.

Northern Rhodesia (Mining Companies, Taxation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what sums have been paid in taxation by the mining companies of Northern Rhodesia; and what proportion this sum bears to the total revenue?

It is not possible to say exactly what proportion of the revenue is contributed by the mining companies, since payments made by them under such heads as licences and rents and Customs are not shown separately from those paid by other companies or individuals. As regards Income Tax alone, the two chief mining companies paid a total of £119,676 in the years 1934 and 1935. The revenue of the Protectorate for those two years totalled £1,590,656.

Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to obtain information, as he suggested in reply to my previous question?

I believe that in the main the minerals in Northern Rhodesia belong to British South Africa and not to the Government. The Government revenue is derived from the mines from other forms of taxation. The difficulty is to form any scientific comparison between the revenues from minerals which belong to the natives or to companies or to the Government in the various African territories, because they are all different.

Royal Air Force

Aerodromes (Expenditure)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the original purchase price paid for the Filton Aerodrome, together with the cost of clearing, laying down to grass, and the erection of hangars and buildings; the price received when this aerodrome was sold after the War; and the annual rent which the State now pays to the Bristol Aeroplane Company for the same aerodrome, which is now used by an air squadron?

The Filton Aerodrome was held under the Defence of the Realm Act up to the end of 1918 at rentals amounting to about £425 per annum, and the expenditure incurred on preparing the site and erecting and maintaining buildings is understood to have been £210,000. The site was subsequently acquired by the Disposals Board for £11,500 and disposed of to the Bristol Aeroplane Company for £59,000, which included £47,500 as the value of the buildings. The present annual rent paid to the company is £2,553 17s. 9d.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the purchase price paid for the Leigherton aerodrome and the cost of clearing, laying to grass, and the erection of the necessary buildings?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the purchase price for the Rendcombe aerodrome and the cost of clearing, laying to grass and the erection of the necessary buildings?

The position in both cases is that it is not proposed to proceed with the acquisition of the aerodromes in question.

These were wartime aerodromes held under the Defence of the Realm Act and given up after the War.

I must press for an answer. What amount has been expended, and what is the value now if anyone purchases?

Why is not a full answer given, since in both questions that particular point is mentioned?

I understood the hon. Member wished to know what the expenditure would be now on the aerodromes. We do not propose to acquire them for aerodromes.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the purchase price for Leuchars aerodrome and the cost of clearing, laying to grass and the erection of the necessary buildings?

If, as I presume, the hon. Member has in mind a recent purchase of land for the purpose of extending the Royal Air Force station at Leuchars, the purchase price was £6,900 and the cost of levelling and seeding £5,000. This extension does not involve additional buildings.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the purchase price paid for Minchinhampton aero- drome and the cost of clearing and laying to grass, and the erection of the necessary buildings?

This information is not available, negotiations for the acquisition of this site not having yet been opened.

Is the right hon. Baronet not aware that he is raising the price against the Government itself?

Discharge Certificate


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that Edward Luckhurst was discharged on 27th April, 1936, from the Royal Air Force Home aircraft depot at Henlow without any discharge certificate, thereby rendering him liable to arrest for three days until the discharge certificate was forwarded to him; that the said certificate, as received, contains three lines obliterated in Indian ink which prevents him from utilising the certificate, so that he is unable to obtain employment; and whether he will have a full amended certificate sent to Mr. Luckhurst?

At the time of discharge this airman was given a brief statement of trade qualifications, character and general conduct on Form 310, pending the issue of the usual temporary protection certificate, which was despatched to him on the following day. He was thus completely protected against the possibility of arrest. He was subsequently informed at the Air Ministry that his service certificate, which is also the official certificate of discharge, would be replaced, in view of certain obliterations on it, but he refused to surrender it for this purpose. If he will forward the certificate to the Officer in Charge of Records, Royal Air Force, Ruislip, a new one will be issued without delay.

Aviation (Maybury Committee's Report)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how long the Maybury Committee has been sitting; and when he expects to receive its report?

The first meeting of the committee was held on 19th September, 1935. Its report has been delayed by sickness and other causes, but it is now in course of preparation, and, I understand, will be ready for submission to my Noble Friend at a very early date.


Road Accidents, Stoke-On-Trent


asked the Minister of Transport whether a report can now be issued of the investigations into the reasons for the road accidents in the city of Stoke-on-Trent?

The hon. Gentleman will recall that this investigation was suspended at the request of the Stoke-on-Trent City Council pending the appointment of a new chief constable.


asked the Minister of Transport the number of road accidents monthly for the last six months in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the number in six cities with a similar population?

Accidents (Railway Employés)


asked the Minister of Transport the number of accidents to employés on the railways during the first six months of 1924, 1934, 1935, and 1936; and has he received a report of the accident at Preston on 11th March and, if so, is it proposed to take any action?

The records of railway accidents are compiled for yearly periods, and will be found in the annual reports of the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways. The accident at Preston on 11th March was the subject of an official inquiry by one of my officers, and his report and recommendations have been referred to the railway companies.

Railway Line, Norfolk


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has any information with regard to the proposal by the London and North-Eastern Railway Company to take over the line passing through Norfolk at present controlled by the Midland and Great Northern Company, with particular reference to the future of the works at Melton Constable?

I am informed that the London and North-Eastern Railway Company are in fact taking over responsibility for this line, and that the detailed arrangements for the future conduct of the engineering works at Melton Constable have yet to be made.

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his good offices with the railway company for the purpose of ensuring that employment is found for the railwaymen concerned, and will assistance be given in finding housing accommodation for men who are moved to another district who have bought houses in Melton Constable which in many instances represent the whole of their life savings?

If the matters mentioned by the hon. Gentleman come within my jurisdiction, I will do my best to assist him.

Road Signs


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will issue instructions that there shall be no de-restriction speed signs on roads which do not accommodate at least three lines of traffic?


asked the Minister of Transport what number of prosecutions for non-observance of halt signs have taken place since such signs were instituted; and whether he will issue an order for the placing of halt signs on all branch roads leading to arterial or through roads?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has informed me that he has no information on the number of prosecutions for this offence. The directions governing the placing of this sign provide for its erection at road junctions where the driver of a vehicle approaching a major road from a minor road cannot have a reasonably clear view in both directions of the major road before he enters that road.


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will take steps to require the placing of some indication on lamp-posts in districts outside towns or villages which may not easily be recognisable as controlled areas to show that a 30 miles per hour speed limit is in force?

Where the speed limit is not in force in a built-up area every lamp post is marked with a de-restriction sign. The absence of such a sign is a clear indication that the limit is in force.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in a large number of districts in the country the lamp-posts are not marked in the restricted areas?

No, Sir, I was not aware of it, or I should not have given the answer that I have given. If my hon. and gallant Friend can give me any information about those particular roads I shall be most happy.

Earl's Gate Crossing, Stirlingshire


asked the Minister of Transport whether, having regard to the fact that the present traffic arrangements at Earl's Gate Crossing, Stirlingshire, as previously referred to by him, have not improved the dangerous character of the crossing, he is prepared to advise the placing of a traffic island on this crossing?

Road Traffic Lanes

51 and 52.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) what mileage of roads is marked into traffic lanes; what action is taken to bring to the attention of road users the desirability of observing such indication; and what information he has to show that such action is adequate;

(2) what mileage of Class I roads is adapted to bear, respectively, three and four lanes for traffic; and what proportion of such mileage is so marked?

Statistics on this basis which, were they kept, would be in constant need of revision, are not available. With regard to the second question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to paragraph 82 of the Highway Code. The prevention of dangerous or careless driving is a matter for the police.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not the fact that the proportion of accidents taking place on roads so marked is almost negligible?

I should not care to say that without notice, but I will have it verified.

Will my right hon. Friend consider circularising the local authorities in order to get more of the roads marked into traffic lanes?

As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, that course has been pursued, but I will see whether any further steps can be taken.

Omnibus Terminus (Oxford Road, Putney)


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that an omnibus rank has now been established opposite to the taxi-meter-cab rank in Oxford Road, Putney, causing great delay to traffic; and will he take appropriate steps to deal with this obstruction?


asked the Minister of Transport on whose authority the terminus for omnibuses on the No. 14 route has now been established in Oxford Road, Putney, on the opposite side of the road to a long-established taximeter-cab rank, thus causing considerable obstruction to traffic?


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will take steps to abate the congestion caused in Oxford Road, Putney, by the location of an omnibus terminus immediately opposite to a taximeter-cab rank, with the consequence that there is only room for one-way traffic?

The fixing of omnibus termini is a matter for the Traffic Commissioner after consultation with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, and this matter is still engaging their attention.

Charing Cross Bridge


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has now had an opportunity of fully considering the report he has received from the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee on Charing Cross bridge; and, in view of the number of precedents of the publication of similar reports by the Ministry of Transport, will he consider the full publication of the same?

I do not know what the hon. Member means by similar reports, but in the special circumstances of this case I am prepared to publish the report, and in the meantime I am asking the London County Council for their views upon it.

Motor Car Luggage Trailers


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that drivers of motor cars with small luggage trailers attached are being prosecuted for exceeding 30 miles per hour on open country roads; and whether he will consider, while leaving this speed limit in force for caravan trailers, making a regulation exempting these small vehicles?

Parliament decided in 1934 to make special provision for two-wheeled trailers, the motor cars drawing which are allowed a speed of 30 miles per hour as against 20.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if a lorry were driven to Scotland with a small luggage trailer attached, it would have to go at 30 miles an hour all the way?

In view of the circumstances that cannot be considered unreasonable.

Proposed Forth Road-Bridge


asked the Minister of Transport in view of the presentation of the case by the local authorities in support of the projected Forth road-bridge, whether it is the intention to make a statement of the attitude of the Government before the Recess?

The date on which the local authorities have sent their case to my Department makes a negative answer to this question inevitable.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the published statement that this report was sent a number of days ago, and can he say, if delay has taken place, where it has taken place?

My recollection is that this report was received in my Department at the week-end. It has taken the local authorities some months to prepare a very involved case, and it would be an injustice to them to give a decision upon it without due examination.

Will my right hon. Friend make arrangements to receive a deputation of local authorities before the Recess.

If the local authorities make that or any other request, I shall be most happy to entertain it.

Is the Minister aware that the Scottish people as a whole are desperately indignant at the manner in which their opinion on this question is being flouted?

Yes, Sir, I am aware that many people are indignant on many occasions.

Royston Cross-Roads (Traffic Lights)


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the number of accidents which have occurred at the Royston cross-roads; and whether, in view of the need for the installation of traffic lights, he will take action to induce the local authority concerned to move in the matter without further delay?

I will acquaint my hon. and gallant Friend with the result of the discussions undertaken on my behalf with Hertfordshire County Council.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no scout or policeman at that particular cross-roads?

I am not sure that I quite heard the question. It is a local matter, and I will do my best to advance the suggestion which the hon. and gallant Member has made.

Coal Distillation Plant (Jarrow)


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of his decision that the North-East Coast is unsuitable for coal distillation plants, he will consult with the President of the Board of Trade and inform the town council of Jarrow whether it is desirable to proceed on the suggested scheme for the erection of such a plant in Jarrow?

The suggestion that Jarrow might be a suitable place for a hydrogenation plant was first made by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. A. Edwards) during the Debate on the Board of Trade Vote last week. My right hon. Friend in replying did not express any opinion as to the suitability of the Jarrow site for a scheme of this kind, but said that he would do everything he could to push forward any proposals that were made to him for the utilisation of the site, whether for a hydrogenation plant or for any other industrial purpose. I indicated in the course of a recent speech that if the hydrogenation process can show the results for which we hope, the question of setting up plants additional to the one now working at Billingham would have to be vigorously pursued. But in the event of Government assistance being found necessary for such additional plants, I had to point out that in selecting sites one of the considerations would necessarily be the vulnerability from possible attacks in the event of war.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, when his right hon. Friend received a deputation from Jarrow, this was one of the suggestions that he threw out? In view of his statement, is there any use whatever in the Jarrow Council going on making plans?

I am very much afraid the hon. Lady did not read my speech, but only glanced at it. I never said a single word which would justify the opening phrase used in her question. I entirely support the views of the President of the Board of Trade. All that I said in Wales, and all that I shall say, is that once the hydrogenation process is proved a commercial success, I hope we shall see a large number of units erected. I hope there will be more in her area, but it is perfectly obvious that there must also be other units in other parts of the country for the purpose of the general defence of the country.

If we are dealing, as we must be, with long-range business on such a large scale, does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that a statement like that simply damns the plan from the beginning? Are we to understand that the north-east is being ruled out on the point of vulnerability? Cannot we have some statement from the Government?

Of course, it is not ruled out. If the hon. Lady will look at my speech she will see no word in it to justify that.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are other parts of Durham less vulnerable for this purpose than Billingham itself?

Electricity Distribution (Committee's Report)


asked the Minister of Transport whether it is intended to introduce legislation on the subject of the Report of the Committee on Electricity Distribution; and can he give any indication as to when it will be introduced?

I will send the hon. Member a copy of the answer to this question given on Monday.


River Leven (Destruction Of Fish)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that on Monday, 6th July, thousands of salmon and sea-trout were destroyed owing to some chemical pollution being run into the River Leven as it flows from Loch Lomond into the Clyde; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent this state of affairs continuing till, in a few years, there would be no fish in what is one of the principal salmon fishing rivers in the country?

I am aware of the unfortunate destruction of fish referred to. Inquiries made in the matter have not so far established the cause of the destruction but the county council, which is the local authority under the Rivers Pollution Prevention Acts, is continuing its inquiries and I hope that these may result in steps which will prevent a recurrence of such destruction.

Rent Restriction


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, having regard to the hardships inflicted upon tenants by landlords as the result of decontrol of subjects, he is prepared to introduce legislation to extend the provisions of Section 2 of the Rent Restrictions Act, 1923, giving universal control to all subjects as specified in that Act?

The Rent Restrictions Acts expire, so far as Scotland is concerned, on 28th May, 1938, and in due course consideration will be given to the question what action, whether legislative or otherwise, may be required before that date. The hon. Member may rest assured that the interests of all concerned, including tenants of controlled houses, will be kept in view.

Is not the Minister aware that many subjects at the present moment are not protected by the Rent Restrictions Act, 1923, that their houses are decontrolled and that the tenants are at the whim and caprice of landlords; and in these circumstances is he prepared to take adequate steps to protect the interest of tenants?

I am afraid that I am not in a position to give any undertaking at this stage. All these matters will be taken into consideration when the Rent Restrictions Acts come up for reconsideration.

May I take it from the answer that I shall be required to wait until 1938 before repeating this question?

If the hon. Member has cases which come within the law which are a hardship to the individual, and will communicate with me, I will make inquiries into the matter.

Farm Workers (Committee's Report)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, and when, it is his intention to take action to give effect to the findings of the Committee on Farm Workers in Scotland?

The Committee's report has been receiving my consideration, but I am not yet in a position to say what action the Government propose to take.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the desirability of handling this matter quickly?

Oh, yes; as my hon. Friend is well aware, the report came into my hands last week.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be able to make a statement before the House rises?

Ferrier V Scottish Milk Marketing Board


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the decision of the House of Lords in Ferrier V. Scottish Milk Marketing Board; and what steps the board propose to take to refund to Scottish producer-retailers the amounts that have been wrongfully taken from them?

I am informed that the board are considering the whole position arising from the judgment referred to and no doubt the board in due course will issue a statement as to the action which they propose to take.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any idea when that statement is likely to be issued? Will it be before the rising of Parliament for the Summer Recess?

There have been numerous discussions on this point. The board are considering the matter to-morrow, and I think that a statement should be made to the House before we adjourn.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that restitution is made to those who have had sums wrongfully taken from them?

That is a matter which rests with the board, and not with the Department.