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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 319: debated on Tuesday 2 February 1937

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British Army

Palestine Reservists (Employment)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will collect and publish the names and addresses of all the firms which have refused to reengage the reservists who recently were compelled to leave their employment in order to go to Palestine?

I doubt if the compilation of an exhaustive list is feasible, while it would be unfair to those employers who have been prevented, by circumstances beyond their control, from taking reservists back into employment.

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot see his way to publish the names and addresses, will he consider the advisability of making them available for Members of this House, so that they can take what action they may think fit in any particular case?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that as far as I am aware no employers have deliberately refused to take these men back into their employment. Some of them had temporary employment only and in some cases works had closed down while the men were absent. In nearly every case that I have investigated the employers have done their best to reinstate the men.


asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 500 Army reservists now unemployed on their return from Palestine were in employment when called up for service?


asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the reservists returned from Palestine were re-engaged in their jobs; how many have found new situations; and how many who were in employment before going to Palestine are now unemployed?

Of 2,145 reservists who have communicated with the War Office since their return from Palestine, 1,600 are recorded as having been in employment when called up, and at least 1,134 of these have been reinstated by their former employers. A further 303 are known to have secured other employment. Three hundred and one of the 2,145 reservists were registered on 25th January last as unemployed; 79 of these were in employment when called up.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the public ought to know the employers' reasons for not reinstating them?

As I pointed out in reply to previous supplementary questions, the employers in nearly every case have done their very best to employ these men. There are more of these men in employment than at the time when they went out to Palestine. There are 200 more in employment now than last week, and 400 more than at the time when this question was first raised some weeks ago.

Are the Government considering taking into their employment an additional number of these men?

I have not made any particular effort to get these men into Government employment, and I do not know whether they would qualify for Government employment, but the figures really are not unsatisfactory.

Will the right hon. Gentleman put pressure on Government Departments to take on more of these men?

Vocational Training


asked the Secretary of State for War whether serving soldiers undergoing vocational training before their return to civil life are required to make any financial contribution towards the cost of such training, and, if so, how much?

Yes, Sir. The standard fees range from 5s. a week for a private or lance-corporal to 10s. a week for a warrant officer, Class I, with half rates for courses in dairy, general or pig farming.

Has the right hon. Gentleman this question under review, with the object of doing away with these charges and thereby making the Service more attractive?

Ought not the training to be reckoned as part of the remuneratory service rendered by the State to the soldiers, who have themselves rendered service to the State?

Recruits (Training And Nourishment Experiment)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make a statement on the experiment of special training and nourishment for certain selected recruits under standard; and whether he proposes to extend the experiment to include large numbers of recruits now rejected as unfit?

At the end of the initial three months' training, 31 of the 33 recruits who had, been selected for experiment were adjudged to be fit to start the normal recruits' course and were passed to their regimental depots for this purpose; 24 have since been passed as up to standard, while seven, who have not yet reached normal standard but have made such progress as to justify their retention, are under special observation at their depots. The experiment is regarded as successful, and its practical application on a larger scale is under consideration.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication as to the approximate weekly cost in keeping these men in nourishment, to maintain the standard?

Now that the Minister has proved that the diet with which he has been experimenting since 13th October is good, with margarine left out, will he see that everybody in the Army gets butter?

Will the right hon. Gentleman hand over the text of that experiment to the Ministry of Labour, as it will be very useful for dealing with people in the Special Areas from the point of view of nutrition?

Estimates (Memorandum)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the advisability, when the Army Estimates are introduced in 1937, of including in the explanatory paper a reference to the fact that the armed forces are required inter alia for the carrying out of the obligations undertaken in connection with the Covenant of the League of Nations?

Yes, Sir. I will consider how far a general statement as to the purposes for which the Army is maintained can suitably be included in the Memorandum in question.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that recruitment would be increased if recruits were told that they would be required mainly for the defence of their own homes?



asked the Secretary of State for War when the new blue or green uniforms are to be issued to the Regular and Territorial armies?

Arrangements have been made for the supply of the blue or green uniforms to those troops taking part in the Coronation parade in London, but no decision has yet been reached regarding the general issue of the uniforms.

Will the right hon. Gentleman include red in the colours, so as to make it really patriotic?

The Coronation (London Territorial Representation)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the great disappointment among London Territorial units that only a small party from each is to take part in the Coronation parade; and whether, in view of the fact that county units have local celebrations, whereas London units do not, and that London units worked hard at the Jubilee and bore the brunt of the duties at His late Majesty's funeral at short notice, he will reconsider the question, so that all serving Territorials in London may take part in the Coronation ceremonies, if they wish to do so?

I think that some misunderstanding may have arisen in the minds of certain London Territorial units with regard to the true facts of this matter. The street lining will involve approximately 18,500 men, apart from the representatives of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, and the Territorial Army will provide more than 50 per cent. of this number. As it is desirable that every Territorial Unit in the country should be represented at this National ceremony it will be obvious that only limited detachments can be taken from each unit, and it has been decided that all Territorial units shall be treated on an equal basis.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that throughout the Provinces among all ranks of the Territorial Army there is general satisfaction with the arrangements which are being made?

Unemployed Reservists


asked the Secretary of State for War the total number of Army reservists now unemployed?

Inquiries were recently made of 113,793 Army reservists regarding their employment situation. 7,782 failed to reply, but of the balance 88,954, or 84 per cent., were recorded as being in employment, and 17,057, or 16 per cent., unemployed.

Am I to understand that this is the result of special investigations, and that the right hon. Gentleman does not receive periodical reports from the Ministry of Labour?

We keep in touch with the Ministry of Labour all the time as regards the employment of ex-service men.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these men are long-term unemployed men?

Majors (Half-Pay)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers of the rank of major have, during the past six months, been placed on half-pay and informed that they are not likely to be employed again; how many of such officers had been recommended for command prior to being placed on half-pay; whether the half-pay of such officers is less than their retired pay would be; and whether by being placed on half-pay, they are deprived of the opportunity of earning the maximum pension for their rank?

Between 1st August, 1936, and 31st January, 1937, 71 majors were due to be placed on the half-pay list and were informed that they were not likely to be re-employed. Of this number, eight majors had previously been considered as possibly suitable eventually for command but failed to be selected when the occasion arose. Generally speaking, the rate of half-pay would be less than the rate of retired pay, and in fact the majority of the officers applied to retire instead of being placed on the half-pay list. With eight exceptions the officers had insufficient service for the maximum rate of retired pay in the rank of major, but, unless he is actually superseded, no major who is not selected as suitable for promotion is placed on half-pay until he has completed at least three years' service in the rank and so earned a major's pension, and has attained age 45.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the bigger the number of officers he places on half-pay the better he will please hon. Members on these benches?

Generals (Active List)


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the average age, in their several categories, of officers of the rank of general at present on the active list?

The average ages, by categories, of generals of the combatant arms who are at present on the active list, are: Generals, 62 years; Lieut.-Generals, 58 years; Major-Generals, 56 years.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether those averages are higher or lower than in 1914?


Old Edinburgh (Preservation)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can make any further statement about the preservation of Old Edinburgh, particularly Tailors' Hall?

I met representatives of the corporation on 25th January and have now under consideration certain suggestions which they made to me in connection with the preservation of buildings of architectural interest affected by their housing operations in Old Edinburgh. I have been considering the question of Tailors' Hall Buildings and have been in further communication with the corporation. I regret, however, that I am not yet in a position to make any statement on the subject.

May I ask that the right hon. Gentleman will not allow any question of amenities to interfere unduly with the campaign for rehousing the people in decent houses?

Farm Workers, Fife (Unemployment Assistance)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that unemployed farm workers in the county of Fife are being informed that the public assistance committee cannot make supplementary payments to the amounts given under the new insurance scales for unemployed farm workers; whether he has considered a case referred to him in which an unemployed farm worker who, previous to being included in the insurance scheme, would have received 29s. per week able-bodied relief is now only entitled to an insurance rate of 24s., and, as this is insufficient for his family needs, has had to be offered detention in the poorhouse; and whether he can take steps to ensure that farm workers who, with their employers, pay insurance premiums will not now be worse off than before the insurance scheme was inaugurated?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; each application for public assistance falls to be considered on its merits. I am informed that only one application from a man in receipt of benefit under the Unemployment Insurance (Agriculture) Act, 1936, has so far been received by the Fife county public assistance committee. This would appear to be the case referred to in the second part of the question. The man has lodged with the Department of Health for Scotland a statutory complaint and they are at present in communication with the local authority on the matter. I shall communicate with the right hon. Member when a decision is reached.

In view of the urgency of this question to all farm servants in Scotland, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to expedite a decision, and, if necessary, introduce legislation as quickly as possible?

I will do my utmost to expedite a decision. Obviously I cannot suggest legislation until I know the decision.

Is it not the case that until the coming into operation of Part 2 of the Act people on standard benefit, including agricultural workers, can have their payments augmented by the public assistance committee if they so desire, and that the Fife public assistance committee could have done so in this case, if they so desired?

That is what I have said. I have said that the answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; that people in the county of Fife are not being told that the public assistance committee cannot make supplementary payments.

Do I understand that the Fife County Council are acting in contravention of the Statute?

No, Sir. I was asked whether unemployed farm workers in the county of Fife are being informed that the public assistance committee cannot make supplement4ry payments. I said that the answer was in the negative.

Juvenile Court, Maryhill

14 and 15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) the total number of cases dealt with and the number of convictions in the juvenile court for Maryhill division for the years 1935 and 1936, respectively;

(2) the total amount of fines imposed in the juvenile court of Maryhill division for the years 1935 and 1936, respectively?

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

When circulating the report will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind the fact that I received a promise from the late Secretary of State to make an inquiry in regard to this division as to the large number of juveniles who were being prosecuted?

If the hon. Member has any representations to make to me after seeing the answer, I shall be glad to receive them.

Following is the table of figures:

Year.Number of cases tried.Number of cases in which persons dealt with found guilty of an offence.Total amount of fines imposed.

"Red Biddy"


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he contemplates taking any action to regulate or abolish the sale of the red wine commonly called "Red Biddy" in Scotland?

The ordinary statutory regulations governing the sale of wine apply to the sale of the cheap red wine known as "RED BIDDY." and further restrictions upon its sale could not, I fear, prevent anyone from subsequently mixing it with methylated spirit and drinking the concoction. I have no reason to believe that this concoction which is also known as "Red Biddy" is on sale in any area. Any solution of the problem of methylated spirit drinking would, I think, have to be on different lines. I am not in a position to make any statement about legislation, but the question is at present under careful review.

Has the beverage known as "Red Biddy" ever been analysed?

Cannot steps be taken with regard to the sale of this very dangerous liquid, to make it saleable only by chemists, and remove it from public houses altogether?

The question of methylated spirit drinking was the substance of a Bill introduced into the House some time ago, and it is that question, the drinking of methylated spirits, which is receiving my attention.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that "Red Biddy" and methylated spirits are used together, and that they are creating havoc, absolute physical and moral havoc, among the people?

Yes, but the problem, obviously is the injury that is caused by the drinking of methylated spirits. It is the sale of methylated spirits which is the necessary part to be controlled.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this question, particularly in Glasgow, in many of the low public houses there, is a direct menace to the mental welfare of the people, and in his review will he take the question of the drinking of red wine into immediate consideration with a view to dealing with the problem drastically?

I am aware of the problem, and not long ago I had a conversation with Lord Salversen. The difficulty is that of controlling the sale of methylated spirits which does the injury when it is mixed with red wine or any other beverage.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has investigated the merits of the poured concrete or corolite type of house; and whether he is prepared to ask local authorities to consider this type of construction in cases where there is a local shortage of bricklayers?

Yes, Sir; I have investigated the merits of the poured concrete type of house, and I am prepared to give careful consideration to any proposals by local authorities for the building of such houses.

Coal Industry

North Staffordshire (Statistics)


asked the Secretary for Mines the amounts paid in royalties in the North Staffordshire area during 1925, 1930, 1934, and 1935, respectively?

The estimated amount paid by colliery owners in North Staffordshire in royalties and wayleaves (including the rental value of freehold mineral where worked by the proprietors) was in 1925, £84,000; in 1930, £102,000; in 1934, £109,000 and in 1935, £112,000.


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of miners injured in the North Staffordshire area in 1935 and the causes of the accidents; what number of visits were made underground in the area by inspectors of mines; and how many visits were made after the termination of the shifts?

For the answer to the first part of his Question I would refer the hon. Member to page 186 of the Annual Report of my Department for 1935. As regards the second part, the total number of inspections made underground was 602. I am not sure to what the hon. Member is referring in the last part of his question, but if he desires to know the number of inspections on the day, afternoon and night shifts, the figures are 498, 36 and 68 respectively.

Firedamp Detectors


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is satisfied with the progress made in the introduction of firedamp detectors; can he state the percentage of collieries that have installed a complement of automatic gas-detectors since the order came into force in 1935; and can the percentage be given of each mining area?

As the hon. Member is aware, flame safety lamps are recognised as firedamp detectors and the answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second and third parts, the number of colliery companies which have installed automatic firedamp detectors to the number of five or more, is 22, of which six have installed them since 1st October, 1935, when the Firedamp Detector Regulations came into force. In addition, a number of detectors have been purchased by local coalowners' associations and moved from colliery to colliery for trial.

Is the Minister satisfied, and, if not, what steps is he going to take to recommend the introduction of more effective machinery?

Perhaps the hon. Member has overlooked the fact that some time ago I set up a committee to investigate the problem, and the committee is now taking evidence.

Strangeways Colliery, Hindley


asked the Secretary for Mines the reasons for the recent closing down of Strangeways Colliery, Hindley; the number of persons thrown out of work thereby; and whether there is any possibility of this pit re-opening?

I am informed that this colliery was closed owing to the exhaustion of all the principal seams; the number of men employed prior to closing was 462; as only some thin upper seams are left, it is unlikely that the colliery will be re-opened.

In view of the fact that this is the seventeenth colliery which has been closed in this neighbourhood in the last eight years, and that there is ample evidence that there is plenty of coal underground in the neighbourhood, cannot the Secretary for Mines do something to re-open some of these pits?

The question refers to one particular pit, and as I said, there are only some thin upper seams left, and it is not likely that the pit will be re-opened.

Miners' Lamps (Cost)


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is in a position to state whether all, or how many, mineworkers are called upon to pay for the artificial light they use to follow their employment; and can he ascertain what is the annual cost to each worker where he is called upon to pay?

I am aware that in some cases mine workers are called upon to bear some or all of the cost in respect of lamps, but the practice is by no means universal or uniform where it exists. I regret that I have no statistical information.

Cannot the hon. and gallant Member find out for me the number of pits where this is being done? Is it not possible for the inspectors to find this out?

It would be a big undertaking, and they have considerable duties to carry out in the interests of safety.

Is it not a fact that the cost is 6d. per week, which is 26s. a year out of their money?

I have no statistical information, and I cannot confirm or deny the information of the hon. Member.

Wage Earners (Statistics)


asked the Secretary for Mines the average weekly earnings of all workmen employed in the coal mines of Great Britain, the output per shift, and the number of persons employed for the years 1935 and 1936?

As the reply involves a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Great Britain.
1935.1936 (Provisional).
1.Average Weekly Cash Earnings of all wage-earners employed.£25s.6d:£29s.10d.
2.Output of Saleable coal per manshift worked23·35 cwts.23·46
3.Average Number of wage-earners employed754,300756,000
NOTE.—The particulars of cash earnings shown above do not include the value of allowances in kind which amounted on the average to 1s. 10d. per week in 1935 and are estimated to have been. 1s. 11d. per week in 1936.

National Committee Of Investigation


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of complaints that have been dealt with by the National Committee of Investigation set up under Section 5 of the Coal Mines Act, 1930; and in how many cases have the complaints been substantiated?

Two complaints have been lodged with the National Committee of Investigation since it was set up in 1930. One complaint lodged in March, 1931, was rejected by the committee. The other complaint, lodged about two weeks ago, is under investigation.

Harworth Colliery (Dispute)


asked the Secretary for Mines what action he is taking to bring about a settlement of the dispute at Harworth colliery, Nottinghamshire?

I have at present nothing to add to the answer I gave to a question by the hon. Member for Workington {Mr. Cape) last Tuesday.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the delay in reaching a settlement is mainly due to the eviction of hundreds of men in this area, and in view of that will he exert extra pressure to bring about a settlement?

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware of the fact which has just been brought to his notice, that

Yes, Sir, the average weekly cash earnings of all wage earners employed have risen from £2 5s. 6d. in 1935 to 2 9s. 10d. (provisional figure) last year.

The reply is as follows.

the colliery company is obtaining many orders against the tenants of these houses, that this is further aggravating the dispute and is likely to cause serious trouble, and will he not take some early action?

There are many aspects of this problem, but I would prefer not to make any statement at present.

Are we to understand that the Government can take no action to put a stop to the tyrannical conduct of these coalowners, and are we to understand that men in this country are not to be permitted to join whatever trade union they desire?

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman pay special attention to the question of the attempt of these coal-owners to evict these men, and is he aware that there has been no such eviction in Great Britain for nearly half a century, and that public opinion would overwhelmingly condemn any such action?

Contract Prices


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will make a statement showing the amount of money accruing to the mine owners to date as a result of the voluntary increase in contract prices; the total contribution made to wages; and what relation this figure has to the total wage increase?

I am informed that during the nine months, 1st January to 30th September, 1936, the total amount of the special increases in wages resulting from the agreement reached in January, 1936, was £4,318,000 while the amount received by the coal owners from voluntary increases in contract prices was £1,712,000. Figures for the last three months of last year are not available.

Bullcroft Colliery, Doncaster (Accident)


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that Kenneth Oliver, aged 14 years, employed at the Bullcroft Colliery, Doncaster, was fatally injured on 13th January; that he had been employed six days prior to the accident and was engaged in uncoupling tubs; whether he had received any training; and whether the Coal Mines Regulations provide for such training?

Yes, Sir, and I understand that the facts were as stated by the hon. Member. As regards the latter part of the question, the boy had not attended the voluntary safety classes, but he had been instructed by the colliery safety officer in the proper method of coupling and uncoupling tubs. Although he was working under the general supervision of an adult haulage hand and was required to uncouple tubs only when the set was standing, such work was not, in my opinion, suitable for a boy who had only been at the pit for six days, and I understand that the management have made better arrangements for the future. The Coal Mines General Regulations do not prescribe any course of training for boys entering the industry, but, as the hon. Member will be aware, much progress has been made on a voluntary basis.

Will the question of accidents to children of these tender years come before the Commission that is now dealing with safety in mines, and may we expect a recommendation from it upon this matter?

I cannot say anything about any recommendation which the Royal Commission may make, but the evidence which has been put before the Commission has very forcibly brought to its notice the whole question of the safety of boys in the mining industry.

Empire Settlement


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that a resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Legislative Assembly of the province of Saskatchewan on 27th February, 1936, urging the Canadian Government to get into touch with His Majesty's Government in Great Britain with a view to putting forward a scheme for the voluntary redistribution of the white peoples of the Empire; and whether, in view of this official expression of opinion from one of the Canadian Provinces, he will reconsider the question of British migration to that country and renew negotiations with the Canadian Government in this connection?

I have seen the resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan last February. As is pointed out in my hon. Friend's question, the Resolution was addressed to the Canadian Government, and it is clearly for the Canadian Government to decide what action, if any, they propose to take in regard to it. As regards the more general issue raised in the second part of the question, as I stated in the Debate on 25th January, the Government here take every occasion that presents itself of discussing this important subject with Dominion Ministers, and I hope that the forthcoming Imperial Conference will provide a further opportunity of doing so.

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman ask the Canadian Government in the meantime whether they have considered the proposal of the Saskatchewan Government?

I am quite prepared to make inquiries, but it is for the Canadian Government to consider the matter and to take any initiative which they wish.


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what is the most recent information he has received with reference to the number of settlers in the state of Victoria from the United Kingdom who have been, and are still, in a state of distress on account of conditions not being fulfilled upon which they were induced to emigrate to Victoria and take up land there; and is he satisfied that the agreements bearing on this matter, entered into between His Majesty's Government and the Commonwealth of Australia, have been carried out?

Of the 311 Settlers under the Victoria Land Settlement Schemes whose cases were dealt with by the Royal Commission set up by the Victoria Government in 1930, only about half a dozen, so far as any recent information on record in my Department shows, are still finding difficulty in reestablishing themselves, either in this country or in Australia. I have reason to believe that the settlement adopted by the Government of Victoria, with the concurrence of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Governments, subsequent to the Royal Commission's Report has been put fully in effect.

Is anything being done to assist the half dozen who have found difficulty in trying to establish themselves?

It is as a result of our assistance that in many other cases the settlers have found satisfactory employment. We have done everything we could in the case of those half dozen when they have asked us to do so, and we are ready to continue giving any help we possibly can.



asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Dominions have been consulted on the question of volunteers for the fighting in Spain; what is the attitude of the Irish Government; and whether His Majesty's Government have endeavoured to obtain their concurrence in the measures of prohibition that have been taken?

The Dominion Governments were informed both of the course which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom proposed to follow and of the action taken. As regards the latter part of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, East (Mr. Mander) on 26th January.

I have said in that reply that the attitude of the Irish Free State Government will no doubt be stated at the appropriate time in the Non-Intervention Committee, on which the Irish Free State is represented. It is not for me to make any statement about the attitude of the Irish Free State Government.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman see that unless he can induce the Commonwealth Governments to put themselves in line with the British point of view, non-intervention will not be non-intervention?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say, for the information of the House, whether the position is that residents in the Dominions are now free to go to Spain and fight on either side?

It is for the Dominion Governments to make any statement which they wish to make on this matter.

Mercantile Marine

Imperial Shipping Committee's Report


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement upon the discussions between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and His Majesty's Governments in Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand about the assistance of British shipping services in the Pacific?

I am not in a position to add anything to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) on 26th January.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the House may expect to have some information on the nature of the proposals made?

Negotiations are taking place with a number of Dominion Governments. I would not like to hazard a suggestion as to the length of time, but I have no reason to think that any longer time will be spent than is necessary.

Steamship "Theems" (Collision)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give particulars of the number of officers and crew employed on the steamship "Theems" at the time of her collision with the French steam trawler "Notre Dame de Lourdes," on 10th January; the nature of the certificates held by the officers; whether, at the time of the casualty, there was any man on the bridge besides the boatswain; what certificate is held by the boatswain; and whether it is his intention to order a formal investigation in this case?

Inquiries into the circumstances in which this collision occurred have not yet been completed and it is not possible, therefore, at present to supply the whole of the information asked for, or to say whether a formal investigation will be held. I am informed, however, that the steamship "Theems" carried a crew of ten, and that the only certificated officer on board was the master, who is the holder of a home trade certificate as mate.

In the light of that reply, will the hon. Gentleman consider recommending the Government to change the point of view enunciated on their behalf at Geneva and to see that only certificated officers are in charge of ships whether coastwise or otherwise?

I think that is a very different question and if the hon. Member desires an answer to it, perhaps he will put it on the Paper.

Danish Vessel's Crew


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the steamship "Maria Toft" left Cardiff last week and was anchored in Barry Roads to pick up a crew sent from Germany; and whether this has been done in accordance with the Aliens Order and with the authority of the Ministry of Labour in regard to the employment of seamen?

I have made inquiries and find that this Danish vessel arrived at Cardiff on 14th January bound for Vigo, and as some of the crew declined to proceed the owners made arrangements for their repatriation and their replacement by others, including six German seamen. As these seamen were not for employment in the United Kingdom, Ministry of Labour permits under the Aliens Order for their engagement were not required.

Is it the case that this vessel anchored within the three-mile limit and took on the German crew in British territorial waters?

But is there nothing unusual in taking a ship out of port for the specific purpose of embarking another crew when the legitimate crew have signed their contracts?

Trade And Commerce

India (Cotton Piece Goods, Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade in view of the recent Japanese official reports that the volume of Japanese cotton-piece goods imported into India was larger in the year 1936 than that supplied by Lancashire, whether he can indicate the latest comparative statistics of imports of these goods from the two sources of supply; and whether the relative ratio disclosed is consistent with the proportionate purchase of Indian Products by Britain and Japan?

The latest figures of Indian trade available relate to the II months ended November, 1936. During that period imports of cotton piece-goods consigned from the United Kingdom amounted to 337,000,000 yards, valued at £5.4 million and from Japan to 431,000,000 yards, valued at £4.2 million. In the same period the value of exports of Indian merchandise to the United Kingdom was £38.4 million and to Japan £8.0 million. Corresponding figures of imports of all merchandise were £33.6 million from the United Kingdom and £14.8 million from Japan. My hon. Friend will recollect that maximum imports of Japanese cotton goods into India are regulated according to the terms of the Indo-Japanese Treaty of 1933 whereby these imports are linked on a quota basis with exports of Indian raw cotton to Japan.

Cotton Industry


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the Government's intention to apply to weaving sections of the cotton trade the principles of the Cotton Spinning Industry Act, 1936; and, if so, whether he can give any indication of the probable date on which legislation will be introduced?

My right hon. Friend has received no proposals from the weaving sections of the cotton trade for legislation on the lines of the Cotton Spinning Industry Act, 1936.

Has any attempt been made by the hon. Gentleman's Department to ascertain whether the weaving section of the trade desire the principles of the Cotton Spinning Industry Act to be applied to that section of the trade?

I believe the weaving sec-ton of the trade has a committee at work, but no report of the results of the work of that committee has yet been made to my Department.

Would the hon. Gentleman address himself to the Supplementary Question which I asked—whether his Department has made any approach to the weaving section of the trade in order to ascertain whether they desire the remedy applied to the spinning section of the trade, to be applied also to the weaving section?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the purchase of spindles under the Cotton Spinning Industry Act has yet commenced; if so, how many have so far been purchased; and whether he is now in a position to say how many spindles are likely to be dealt with as surplus under the Act?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I would ask the hon. Member to await the report which the Spindles Board are required to make under Section 20 of the Cotton Spinning Industry Act and which the Board of Trade are required to lay before the House. As regards the third part, I fear that it is impossible for me to forecast the number of spindles that the Spindles Board are likely to purchase.

When may the House reasonably expect the publication of the information asked for in the second part of the question?

Wood Pulp


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the increase by Scandinavian and other Baltic countries of the price of pulp by about 40 per cent.; whether he has information as to the operation of a ring of foreign pulp manufacturers; and whether he will take these facts into consideration when trade agreements with these countries come to an end, especially in view of the fact that foreign newsprint is not subject to a tariff on importation into this country?

I am aware that considerable increases have recently occurred in world prices both of wood pulp and of the timber from which it is made. I am also aware of the Scandinavian and European Conventions for the regulation of pulp production. The answer to the last part is in the affirmative.

Pig-Iron (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any information as to the negotiations which are now on foot for the importation of a considerable quantity of pig-iron from Russia; and whether, in view of the increased importation of such material from foreign sources during recent months and the large supplies available, both in this country and the Empire, any steps are being taken to discourage unnecessary importation of foreign pig-iron?

Pig-iron was imported in substantial quantities in 1936 from Russia and other foreign countries and from British India, and I understand that it is likely that the requirements of the British market will require further importations in the current year. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that foreign pig-iron is subject on importation to a duty of 33⅓ per cent. ad valorem, while Empire pig-iron can be imported free of duty.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great shortage of what is known as scrap-iron, which puts the pig-iron manufacturers in this country at a great disadvantage?

What is perhaps more relevant to the question under consideration is that there is a very real shortage of pig-iron.

Cinematograph Industry


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the number of cinematograph films that have been made during the previous 12 months, or are being made at the present time for commercial purposes, in which Government property was or is being used; and will he give particulars of what payment has been made to the Government for the use thereof?

I am about to send the hon. Member the information for which he asked in his question on a similar matter on 10th December last; I will add to it such information as can properly be given in reply to his present question.


asked the President of the Board of Trade when it is intended to introduce legislation to implement the findings of the Moyne Committee on the cinematograph industry in this country; and whether he can give an assurance that such legislation will be of a nature that will lead to the better protection of the British film industry?

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend on 8th December last.

Does my hon. Friend realise that this industry is in a very serious position, and will he give it notice that unless they come to some decision shortly the Government will take action on their own account?

I think that legislation in connection with this industry must as far as possible be canvassed with the industry first. I am awaiting replies from within the industry, and I propose to give the industry a full opportunity of considering the way in which it ought to be governed.

Will my hon. Friend ask them to hurry up? Otherwise there will be no industry left.

Does the hon. Gentleman intend to give effect to the report brought in by this Committee, or is he having it pigeon-holed as many other reports have been in the past?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that British films do not get a reasonable chance in the United States; and whether, in view of the large revenue received by the United States film producers in respect of exhibiting in this country, he can take steps to ensure a greater measure of reciprocity?

Calcium Carbide


asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity of calcium carbide consumed in Great Britain during the last 12 months for which figures are available; the percentages thereof of home and foreign production, respectively; and the number of factories in Great Britain over which the home production was spread?

The retained imports of calcium carbide in the year 1936 amounted to 1,107,000 cwts. So far as is known, all calcium carbide consumed in this country in recent years has been obtained from imported sources.

Iron And Steel Federation


asked the President of the Board of Trade what is to be done with the profits made by the British Iron and Steel Federation out of their dealings with imported iron and steel, other than iron and steel imported under the cartel agreement?

I am informed that the intention of the Federation is to use any profits there may be for some corporate purpose such as, for instance, the encouragement of the export trade; at the moment, however, they fear that substantial losses may result from some of the later transactions.

Germany (Fats And Oils)


asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether to bring up to date the figures already published for 1934, he will state for the years 1935 and 1936 the amounts of edible fats and oils and of industrial fats and oils, respectively, consumed in Germany, produced in Germany, and imported into Germany?

The Commercial Counsellor to His Majesty's Em-

German Production, Net Imports and Consumption of Oils and Fats in each of the Years 1934, 1935 and 1936.
(Taken from article written by Heir Backe, Under-Secretary of State, German Ministry for Food and Agriculture, in the first copy of "Der Vierjahresplan.")
In 1,000 tons (metric).
Edible tallow252525
Premier jus and oleo-margarine10911
Vegetable oils162740
Technical fats (tallow bone fat, fish oils)485052
Net Imports:
Edible tallow, Premier jus and oleo-margarine1
Technical fats311928
Oil content equivalent from oil seeds676408600
Vegetable oils, oily acids and hard fats347970
Whale oil142248160
Edible tallow, Premier jus and oleo-margarine353436
Other substitute fats151515
Pnre vegetable edible fats6057·155·4
Pure edible oils140136·2126
Industrial fats434378368

Government Departments

Board Of Trade (Clearing Offices)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give particulars of the number of staff, if any, still employed in the clearing house for

bassy in Berlin informs me that it is not possible for him to obtain figures for the years 1935 and 1936 comparable with those published on page 241 of his last report on Economic Conditions in Germany, to which I assume the hon. Member refers. He has, however, sent me a more recent set of figures for the years 1934, 1935 and 1936. They are taken from a semi-official German publication, and I will circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the figures:

enemy debts; what sum, if any, is paid yearly to the Office of Works by that Department for accommodation?

No staff is now employed in the Clearing Office on work relating to enemy debts. Nine persons are, however, fully employed in Board of Trade headquarters offices on work relating to ex-enemy property, and a further six persons are partly so employed. Their work consists chiefly in completing the release to former owners of unliquidated property, and in the conduct of legal proceedings and claims brought against the administrator. The annual rental payable to the Office of Works for the accommodation of this staff and the voluminous records of the Clearing Office is at present £1,923.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether surplus office accommodation is handed over to the Office of Works?

Joint Industrial Councils


asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the advisability of setting up in all Government workshops advisory appeal tribunals composed of representatives of the management and employés before which all cases of dismissal may be brought in accordance with modern industrial practice?

For many years there have existed in the principal Departments employing industrial staff joint industrial councils or alternative machinery the general object of which is to secure, by means of regular joint discussion between representatives of the Government and of the employés, the fullest measure of co-operation in the administration and work, in the national interests and with a view to the increased well-being of all concerned therein. I am satisfied that in general these councils and the local machinery associated with them afford adequate arrangements for the proper discussion of any difficulties such as those referred to in the question.

Would it not be practicable for those who have been dismissed to make an appeal, to be heard privately by some organ of these joint industrial councils, as is done in industry at the present time with satisfactory results in many cases?

I have heard no sort of complaint with regard to this machinery.

Naval Aircraft


asked the Prime Minister whether any decision has been arrived at with reference to the controversy between the Admiralty and the Air Ministry concerning the control of naval aircraft; and whether he will give an assurance that no change will be brought into operation before the House has an opportunity of discussing it?

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave on 28th January in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher).

Can the Prime Minister say how long it is likely to be before a decision is arrived at?

Royal Air Force


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the unforeseen delays which have occurred in the carrying out of the expansion programme for the Royal Air Force, he will consider the desirability of appointing a committee to inquire into means whereby the programme may be accelerated?

No, Sir. The whole defence programme has since its inception been under the continuous review of the special Cabinet Committee to which I referred in the statement which I made on 27th February last year in reply to a question by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of that reply.

National Finance

Holiday Resorts (Expenditure)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, as part of any future general scheme for expenditure on public works during a trade depression, he will include plans for rendering our inland and seaside holiday and health resorts and spas attractive by improving the hotels, the indoor entertainments, and outdoor sports, by all of which Continental resorts attract visitors from the United Kingdom?

The matters referred to in the question, in so far as they are appropriate subjects of public expenditure, are primarily for the consideration of the local authorities concerned. I do not consider that there is any case for State grants for these purposes.

Male Servants Duty


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any negotiations have taken place between the Treasury and local authorities with regard to the desirability of abolishing the duty on the employment of male servants?

No, Sir, but the subject is being considered by the Minister of Health and representatives of local authorities in connection with the forthcoming revision of the block grant.

Will that enable the matter to be dealt with before the coming Budget; and is it not very desirable that it should be so dealt with, in view of the strong feeling both in the House and the country as to the prejudicial effect of this duty upon the provision of work for unemployed men?

Income Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take steps to remedy the present system under which the foreign firms importing meat into this country operate through associated British companies, and the foreign controlling company fix the prices at which the meat is purchased and sold by the British company, so that a minimum of British Income Tax is payable?

I would draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the fact that the Income Tax Act, 1918, in Rule 7 of the General Rules applicable to all Schedules, already contains a provision enabling an appropriate charge of Income Tax to be made upon a foreign concern which, owing to its close connection with a British concern, is able so to arrange the course of business between them that the business done by the British concern produces less than the ordinary profits which might be expected to arise. My right hon. Friend may rest assured that steps are taken in the normal application of the Act to secure the assessment of any tax that is due.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the foreign firms will be taxed equally with the British firms?

That is a rather larger assurance that I should be prepared to give.

52, 53 and 54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he will state the amount of the income for the year ended 31st March, 1936, arising in the United Kingdom subject to double taxation generally and, in particular, by reason of taxes imposed by the United States of America;

(2) whether he will state the amount of income arising in the United States of America subject to United Kingdom Income Tax for the year ended 31st March, 1936;

(3) whether there is any obstacle to an arrangement with the United States of America granting reciprocal relief from double taxation?

I regret that I am unable to furnish any estimate of the income arising in the United Kingdom or in any foreign country which may be subject to double taxation. As regards the question of relief from double taxation as between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, I would remind my hon. Friend that our law provides for arrangements on a reciprocal basis with foreign countries for relieving from double Income Tax shipping and air transport profits and profits derived from business carried on through agencies, and the arrangements already in force include one with the United States for the mutual exemption of shipping profits. No proposals for any extension of the sphere of relief provided by the existing law have been made to us by the United States Government, and as at present advised I do not think the time opportune for raising the question from this side.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the United States Revenue Act, 1936, Section 131, relief is given to American nationals on such of their income as is already subject to tax in this country? Is he also aware that owing to the increase of taxation throughout the world the question of double taxation is becoming important and a real hindrance to the revival of international trade?

The question is whether we should derive advantage or disadvantage by such an arrangement as my hon. Friend proposes. As at present advised, I do not think that we should derive advantage.

Public Works Loans


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases during 1936 the Public Works Loan Board accepted repayment of loans made by them at interest rates exceeding 5 per cent. without any premium or with a premium reduced below their normal scale; and in what circumstances the Board is still prepared to make a similar concession?

During the year 1936 the Public Works Loan Board accepted repayment in respect of loans made at interest rates exceeding 5 per cent. per annum without any premium or with a premium reduced below the normal scale in 95 cases. With regard to the second part of the question, the board are authorised to accept repayment without premium of the unexpended balance of loans made for schemes which have proved less costly than anticipated, and of loans made under the Agricultural Credits Act, 1923. The board are also authorised to waive the normal premium or to accept a reduced premium in certain cases in which the loan has been made for housing purposes and the borrowing authority has been compelled either by statute or by the terms of its mortgage to accept premature repayment of its advances to individual borrowers or to make immediate repayment to the Public Works Loan Board of some part of its advances.

Land Tax (Tithe Redemption)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the increase in the future assessment of the land to Land Tax, owing to the absence of any provision in the Tithe Act, 1936, for a deduction in respect of the tithe redemption annuity substituted for tithe rentcharge which was itself subject to Land Tax; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent the imposition of this additional burden on agriculture?

The Tithe Act, 1936, effected a comprehensive settlement on the basis of a self-balancing scheme as between the general body of tithe-owners on the one hand and the general body of tithe-payers on the other. In the general finance of the scheme certain deductions were made for the purpose of determining the amount of redemption stock issuable to tithe-owners, among the deductions being the estimated total amount of Land Tax previously payable by tithe-owners in respect of tithe rentcharge. The effect of these deductions was to enable a lower redemption annuity to be fixed for tithe-payers. In these circumstances I do not think it inequitable that tithe-payers, who are paying a smaller annuity because of the deduction made against tithe-owners for Land Tax, should themselves in future bear that Land Tax.

In view of the undertakings given by the Government during the passing of the Tithe Act that the Government were not going to make any money out of owner or payer, does my right hon. Friend think that the Government are honouring that obligation?

Is it not a fact that this increased Land Tax assessment means in some cases from one-third to one-half the relief given to the tithe-payer in the 1936 Act?

That may be so or it may not; I am not prepared to say. In any case, against that must be set the lower annuity that is payable in consequence.

Liquor Traffic (State Control)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the management of the State traffic in liquor in Carlisle, Gretna, and Cromarty pay no Income Tax; and how much the profits for 1935 would have been reduced if Income Tax had been paid?

Income Tax is not chargeable on profits which accrue to the State. As regards the schemes to which my hon. Friend refers, the Income Tax for 1935–36, if chargeable, would, it is estimated, have been approximately £14,800.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the attempts from time to time to bring discredit upon the State management schemes are resented by those who know the position, and that the position now is not only a vast improvement on the pre-control period, but is probably the best in the country?


asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the report of the Select Committee on Estimates, he approves of the State traffic in liquor in Gretna and Cromarty being managed from Glasgow, which is about 90 miles from Gretna and 300 miles from Cromarty; and, if not, whether he proposes to take any action?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given to his questions on Thursday last. As was then stated by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, I am satisfied that the existing management, which comprises local superintendents in the two Scottish districts under the control of a general manager in Glasgow is efficient and economical. In the circumstances the last part of the question does not arise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Carlisle experiment, to which the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) referred a few moments ago, is regarded by people who know a great deal more about it than he does as little short of a scandal?

Alcoholic Drinks (Railway Trains)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the granting of an Excise licence for the sale of alcoholic refreshment on railway trains is made subject to any restrictions as to hours of sale and the soliciting of orders and the serving of such refreshments in ordinary passenger compartments?


Afforestation (Special Areas)


asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, the total acreage of land for planting now secured towards the scheme of extra planting undertaken to relieve unemployment in the Special Areas; the location and acreage so secured for County Durham, South Wales, and Scotland, respectively; and the number of unemployed men who have been set to work in the three Special Areas aforementioned, respectively?

The acreage of land for planting actually secured towards the scheme of extra planting in the Special Areas is 6,926 being part of a much larger area approved for acquisition. 4,904 acres are in the north of England, none in County Durham itself and 2,022 acres in South Wales. The scheme is not applicable to Scotland. It will not be possible to start afforestation operations on these new acquisitions during the current planting season, but in South Wales 35 persons, and in the north of England 17 persons, are employed on nursery work for the Special Areas scheme.

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say why so little afforestation has been undertaken in the county of Durham?

A great deal has been done in the neighbouring counties which will give relief to the county of Durham.

Why has so little been undertaken in the county of Durham? Why has it been neglected?

Is not there any land in the neighbourhood of Durham that could be planted?


asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, how much money has been paid to the Forestry Commissioners in respect to the additional planting undertaken to relieve unemployment in the Special Areas; and, if possible, what amount was paid for acreage in or near county Durham, South Wales, and Scotland Special Areas, respectively?

The grant-in-aid to the Forestry Commission was increased during the financial year 1936–37 by £200,000 in respect of afforestation schemes in or near the Special Areas in England and Wales, but without allocation to the different areas. The actual sums paid for the acquisition of land are South Wales £9,450, North of England £10,365. In addition acquisitions amounting to approximately £100,000 have been approved by the Commissioners.

May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to reply to the question how much money has been spent on acreage in the county of Durham?

If that is correct, how can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that the county of Durham has not been neglected? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] May I put a further supplementary question if the hon. and gallant Member is unable to answer, namely, whether the Forestry Commissioners have in contemplation any afforestation schemes for the county of Durham?

The Forestry Commissioners are under an obligation to arrange special afforestation schemes for the Special Areas, of which the county of Durham forms a part. There is no obligation to select individual counties.

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the question on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Durham County