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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 320: debated on Thursday 18 February 1937

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asked the Minister of Labour how many of the 42 girls under the age of 18 transferred to industrial employment in Leicestershire in 1935 and how many of the 126 similar girls similarly transferred in 1936 were transferred from Greenock; how many of these girls from Greenock, in each of these years, were placed in the woollen industry; and what were the total sums spent on travelling expenses and on subsistence allowances for the girls so placed in each of these years?

No girls have been transferred from Greenock to industrial employment in Leicestershire under the juvenile transference scheme in 1935 or 1936. The other points in the hon. Member's question, therefore, do not arise.


asked the Minister of Labour the number of young men sent out of the county of Durham to training centres during 1935 and 1936 and, if possible, what percentage of these trainees have secured permanent employment?

Contributors' Books


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that insured contributors are being discharged from their employment because of employers' failure to obtain emergency books in accordance with the requirements of Clause 9 (1) of the Statutory Rules and Orders, 1936, No. 331, caused by the illegal retention of insured contributors' regular books by employers; and whether he will consider the application of a penalty, thereby enforcing the Ministry's regulations and avoiding financial hardships to insured contributors?

No, Sir; but cases have been brought to my notice in which workers are said to have been discharged because of failure to present regular unemployment books. A worker whose last employer has not returned his regular book can obtain another from any Employment Exchange, and the employer in fault is liable to a fine not exceeding £10.

Is it not the case that there are hundreds of workers in a mobile industry like my own who are affected in this way, and I would ask the Minister whether it is not possible for him to make it clear to the employers that they as well as the workmen have a responsibility? Is it not true that if an employer does not give a workman his old book, he loses many days in wages, and is unable to make any claim? Is it not the duty of the employer under the regulations to see that a workman has his regular book, and, if he has not, that it is his duty to get an emergency book from the Exchange and fill it in?

I have explained the position to the hon. Member. He has had some correspondence with the Department on the matter, and perhaps he will discuss it with them further. I must make it clear that the fault is not all on one side. There is a difference between the regular book and an emergency book.



asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons in receipt of transitional payments in the administrative county of Durham, the county boroughs of Sunderland, Gateshead, and South Shields, each year from 1931 to 1936; and the amount paid to

Statistics showing the numbers of separate individuals making application for transitional payments or unemployment allowances in a year in particular areas are not available. The following Table, however, shows the average weekly number of payments of transitional payments or unemployment allowances made through Employment Exchanges in the areas mentioned in each of the years 1931 to 1936:
Year.Administrative County of Durham.Sunderland.South Shields.Gateshead.

The following Table shows the approximate amounts paid in transitional payments or unemployment allowances through Employment Exchanges in the same areas in each of the years 1931 to 1936:

Year.Administrative County of Durham.Sunderland.South Shields.Gateshead.
1931 (7 weeks)305,63586,44740,74240,640
1932 (52 weeks)3,100,406828,612375,509314,108
1933 (52 weeks)3,249,677933,460408,011358,822
1934 (52 weeks)2,600,196925,796409,298355,383
1935 (52 weeks)2,865,154976,698456,247383,933
1936 (53 weeks)2,581,971795,562421,438349,124

16 and 17.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) in how many cases in the city of Leicester recipients of unemployment assistance have received increased allowances as compared with the amounts they received under the standstill agreement; and in how many cases there have been decreases in the payments made to them;

(2) In how many cases in Great Britain recipients of unemployment assistance have received increased allowances as compared with the amounts they received under the standstill agreement; and in how many cases there have been reductions in the payments made to them?

Information relating specifically to the city of Leicester is not available but in the Unemployment Assistance

applicants in those areas during the same period?

As the reply includes a table of figures, I will, if I may, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

Board's Leicester area, which extends beyond the city boundaries, there were about 500 persons in receipt of more than they would have received under the standstill arrangements when all cases had been reviewed under the new regulations in December last. No person in this area was in receipt of less than under the standstill arrangements on 29th January, which is the latest date for which information is available. In Great Britain as a whole the increased assessments numbered about 230,000 and the decreases 394 on the corresponding dates.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving publicity to the facts of which he has spoken, and put an end to the misleading propaganda which was organised against the Government when the regulations were introduced?


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state, to date, the number of increases and decreases resulting from the introduction of the new unemployment assistance regulations in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Wallsend, Willington Quay, and the administrative county of Northumberland?

In December last when all cases had been reviewed under the new regulations the numbers of persons in receipt of more than they would have received under the standstill arrangements in the Unemployment Assistance Board's Newcastle-on-Tyne and Wallsend areas were about 2,000 and 850 respectively. In the board's areas which roughly cover the county of Northumberland (including Newcastle-on-Tyne and Wallsend) the number was about 9,500. On 29th January, which is the latest date for which information is available, no person in either the Newcastle-on-Tyne or Wallsend areas was in receipt of less than under the standstill arrangements. There were, however, two such persons in the county of Northumberland. Separate particulars in respect of Willington Quay, which is included in the board's Wallsend area, are not available.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what is the percentage of the unemployed dealt with in those figures?

Will the right hon. Gentleman give some particulars as to the people who will receive reductions?

The hon. Member and his friends are constantly asking for information about decreases, and there is no reason why my hon. Friend should not ask about the increases.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to mislead the House, and is it not a fact that there are large reductions to come, which will begin to operate in three separate blocks over 18 months?

If I am asked about that, I shall be prepared to give accurate information, as I am doing now.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now able to state what Coronation grant to the unemployed is the Unemployment Advisory Board prepared to give?

I informed the hon. Member last week that I would let him know as soon as I was in a position to make a statement in reply to a further question. I expect to be able to answer him next Thursday if he will ask me then.

What allowance, if any, will be made to Income Tax payers in order to celebrate the Coronation?

Seasonal Workers


asked the Minister of Labour what has been the result of the relaxation of the rules regarding unemployment benefit for seasonal workers; and whether, in view of the satisfactory condition of the fund, he now feels justified in admitting these workers to benefit on normal terms?

There has been a substantial reduction in the number of disallowances imposed under the provisions relating to seasonal workers since the Anomalies (Seasonal Workers) Order, 1935, came into force. I have no further amendment of this Order in contemplation at the present time.

Can the Minister give any figures in support of the statement that the position of seasonal workers is improving?

Yes, in the 12 months preceding that date the number of claims disallowed by the court of referees under the regulations was 18,435, and in the subsequent 12 months the number of disallowances was only 10,853.

Is the right hon. Gentleman considering a repeal of these harsh provisions?

As I have pointed out, these provisions have been greatly mitigated by the Order passed by the House.

Special Areas


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give the findings of the investigation by the independent expert who has visited South-West Durham to inquire into the whole question of possible development of industry in that district on the invitation of the former Commissioner of the Special Areas, Sir Malcolm Stewart, in the summer of 1936?

With the concurrence of the Commissioner I am having a copy of this report placed in the Library. I should add that it must not be assumed that the Commissioner or the Government necessarily endorse the proposals made in the report.


asked the Minister of Labour whether any progress has been made in the voluntary drainage scheme recommended in paragraph 188 of the third report of the Commissioner for the Special Areas, England and Wales, by which drainage it would be possible to set free for working millions of tons of coal in South-West Durham and give employment to many unemployed miners?

While I must not be understood as accepting the implications in the latter part of the hon. Member's question, I would refer him to the answer given on 1st December last by my hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines to the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart). Since that reply was given, I understand that the Commissioner for the Special Areas has discussed the problem with the South-West Durham Development Board and certain tentative inquiries are being made in the matter. It has not, however, proved possible, up to the present, for any further action to be taken.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will invite some responsible industrialists to discuss the possibility of setting up a board to advise on the establishment of works to carry out new processes in the Special Areas, the finance to be provided out of the Special Areas Reconstruction Act?

The Commissioners for Special Areas are already devoting considerable attention to the possibility of securing new industrial undertakings for the Special Areas, including undertakings carrying out new processes, and my hon. Friend is no doubt aware that: the Commissioners have recently appointed industrial advisers to assist them in this matter.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but in view of the fact that we do not seem to have made much progress, will he consider the matter from the specific point of view indicated in the question?

Is the Prime Minister not aware that since 1932 he has been saying that these matters are being considered, and considered and considered, but that just nothing is happening in these Special Areas?



asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the large amount of unemployment in the Hoyland area, any steps are being taken to provide other means of employment than at present exist?

I am unable to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 17th December.

Has the right hon. Gentleman made any inquiries in this case? Is he aware that there is a pool of unemployment in this district which does not decrease? The pits have stopped, and unless some new industry is brought in there is likely to be a constant percentage of unemployment of about 40 per cent.

In my answer to the hon. Member I gave a full description of the situation from the exchange point of view.

But I am asking another question—whether anything is being done to provide work for these people? The last answer did not indicate anything of that kind.

I told the hon. Member that this matter was under the consideration of the Government.

Unemployment Fund


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet received the report of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee upon the financial condition of the Unemployment Fund; and, if so, whether he proposes to publish it?

Yes, Sir. The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee have presented their report upon the condition of the Unemployment Fund at 31st December, 1936, and copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office at 6 p.m. on Monday next.

Insurance (Income Limit)


asked the Minister of Labour when the Bill will be at the disposal of the House for raising the standard of income for purposes of unemployment insurance?

The question of raising the limit to which the hon. Member refers is still under consideration, and I am not, therefore, in a position to state the intention of His Majesty's Government on the matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a promise was given in the House as far back as 1934 to set up a Committee when the Bill was going through, that the matter has received consideration for a long time, and that he has now had a report for several months, and is he prepared to give an early answer to this question?

I cannot give an answer at the moment, but I note the understanding which the hon. Member has of the reforming zeal of His Majesty's Government.

Agricultural Workers


asked the Minister of Labour whether in the view of his advisers, an agricultural worker is insured against unemployment in accordance with the work he does or whether his insurance is dependent upon the person for whom he works?

This is a matter for legal interpretation in each case, such interpretation being governed in particular by the provision of Section 4 (2) of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, as amended by the Fifth Schedule to the Unemployment Insurance (Agriculture) Act, 1936, that:

"In determining any question as to whether any occupation in which a person is or has been employed, is or was insurable employment, or is or was employment in agriculture regard shall be had to the nature of the work on which he is or was employed, rather than to the business of the person by whom he is or was employed."
I am advised, however, that where the employer of a worker who performs work of an agricultural nature is not himself engaged in agriculture, the nature of the employer's business may become an important consideration.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that an agricultural worker who does agricultural work on an estate is not accepted for unemployment insurance?

I would not like to accept that generally, but if my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind, perhaps he will bring it to my notice. It is really a matter for legal interpretation in each case.

Should it not be the Minister of Labour's duty to bring everybody he can under the Insurance Act?

I have already brought in several Measures to do that during the last two or three years.

Branch Exchanges (Managers' Remuneration)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that managers of branch employment exchanges are remunerated on a sliding scale varying with the number of unemployed persons on the register at their branches, and that the result is to diminish the remuneration of any branch manager in proportion to his success in obtaining work for applicants and reducing the number of unemployed; and whether he will so modify this system that branch managers shall not, by the prospect of diminished remuneration, be discouraged from endeavouring to reduce the number of applicants on the register at their branch exchanges?

The terms of remuneration of branch managers, which were revised last year, necessarily take account of substantial variations of the volume of work, but I do not think there is any foundation for the suggestion that the effect is to discourage branch managers from endeavouring to reduce the number of applicants on the register. On the contrary, in assessing the volume of work, account is taken of the manager's efforts to fill vacancies from his register.

Is it a fact that 25 hours are allocated for some of these exchanges when the work demands 80 or 90 hours a week, and are the wages at the sweated figure of £2 a week for some of the clerks?

That is another issue. This is the basic rate which was reviewed last year, and in certain circumstances there may be increases.

Girls (Welfare)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that many girls come up to London without availing themselves of the facilities offered by his Ministry and that the consequent wastage is serious and what steps he is taking to make these facilities better known and to impress on parents the danger of allowing their daughters to come up to London through unregulated sources?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, every practicable step is taken by my officers and by juvenile advisory committees to make known, both to parents and children, by addresses and personal interviews, as well as by leaflets, posters and films, the facilities which the Department offers, including the arrangements for safeguarding the welfare of young girls taking employment away from home. I am grateful to my right hon. and gallant Friend for enabling me to draw attention once more to these facilities.

Aliens (Permits)


asked the Minister of Labour the number of aliens working in Great Britain under permits, distinguishing the number of extended permits, and giving the number employed in each industry during the three months ended 30th December, 1936?

I regret that the Department's records do not enable this information to be given in the form asked for. Perhaps the hon. Member will have a word with me, so that I may see whether I can assist him.

Holidays With Pay


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will cause a White Paper to be published indicating the number of insured workers in Great Britain who regularly receive holidays with pay, together with the nature of their employment and geographical distribution when at work?

My hon. Friend will find an account of the arrangements in operation with regard to payment of wages for holidays, under the provisions of collective agreements between employers' and workers' organisations, in a special article in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" for April, 1936, which gave particulars, so far as available, of the industries and localities covered by these agreements. The number of workpeople concerned cannot be stated exactly, but is estimated at about 1,500,000. I am not in possession of information showing the extent to which paid holidays are granted to wage-earners in industries not covered by such collective agreements.

Has the right hon. Gentleman received any representations from industries or trade unions on this subject since the House approved the principle of annual holidays with pay?

Can the right hon. Gentleman supply hon. Members with a copy of the article?

Special Areas Bill


asked the Minister of Labour when the new Special Areas Bill will be ready?

There is a later question to-day on this subject addressed to the Prime Minister.


asked the Prime Minister whether he can now state when the Special Areas Bill will be introduced?

I hope that it may be possible to introduce the Bill at the end of next week.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Bill will be at the disposal of hon. Members?

I think the introduction of the Bill and the supply of it go together. When the Bill is introduced it will be immediately available. But I will look into that point.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that it is really important that the House should have time to consider the contents of a Bill of this nature?

Bread (Prices)


asked the Minister of Labour the average retail price of white bread per 4-lb. loaf in Great Britain, Germany, Italy and France as at the last convenient date; and has he any statistics that will show the relation which the wheat bread bears to the average weekly wage of the industrial workers in the respective countries?

Country.Date to which price relates.Average retail price of 4-lb. of bread.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland:—
All districts (general average)1st December, 19368¾d.
1st February, 19379¼d.
London1st December, 19368½d.
1st February, 19379d.
ParisDecember, 1936.3·99 francs.
Berlin16th December, 1936White bread (rolls, etc.), 1·22 reichsmarks.
Rye bread, 0·60 reichsmarks.
33 other large towns16th December, 1936White bread (rolls, etc.), 1·09 to 1·67 reichsmarks.
Rye bread, 0·44 to 0·82 reichsmarks.
Province of Rome21st December, 19362·91, 3·45 and 3·64 lire.

The prices shown for Great Britain and Northern Ireland are for white bread of the kinds most generally bought by working-class families. For Paris, the price shown is that officially quoted for "white bread, first quality." The prices quoted for Germany are those shown, in official publications, for (a) wheat bread sold in rolls or other small sizes, and (b) rye bread, which is widely consumed in that country. The prices shown for Italy (Rome) are those officially fixed for loaves of varying sizes and different qualities of flour.



As the reply contains a table of figures, I will, if I may, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Has the Minister any information concerning the quality of the bread supplied?

Following is the reply:

I am not in possession of information as to the prices of comparable qualities of white bread in these countries, but such particulars as are available are given in the following table. Statistics are not available showing the average wages of industrial workers generally in the countries specified, or the relation which the price of wheat bread bears to average wages.

employed as gamekeepers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The numbers enumerated as gamekeepers and game-watchers at the Census of 1931 (in England and Wales, and in Scotland) and at the Census of 1926 (in Northern Ireland) were, at those dates, as follow:

England and Wales10,706
Northern Ireland151

Are the Government making any arrangements for these men to be more usefully employed in the event of an outbreak of war?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these men are likely to tie included in the unemployment insurance scheme at an early date?

Trade Dispute, Harworth


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any information as to how many possession orders have been obtained by Messrs. Barber, Walker, Limited, against their tenants involved in the present trade dispute at Harworth, Nottinghamshire; and when the earliest order is due for execution?

As I originally addressed this question to the Home Secretary, and as it has been referred to the Minister of Labour, will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to obtain these particulars, since I ask the question for a special reason in view of the special circumstances?

On a point of Order. May I ask why this question was passed over to the Minister of Labour if he has no information on it and no responsibility for it? To whom should I address the question?

Stag Hunting Incident, High Wycombe


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a hunting incident, on the 9th instant, when a stag was chased through West Wycombe across a railway line into the main street of High Wycombe, and subsequently captured by the aid of a police patrol car and handed back to the hunt; and whether he is prepared to consider introducing legislation that will make all such acts of cruelty illegal?

I have obtained a report from the Chief Constable of High Wycombe, which states that on 9th February two constables were on motor patrol on the main London to Oxford road and, at a point about 1½ miles from West Wycombe, overtook a stag running along the centre of the road. No hounds or huntsmen were to be seen. The stag entered the garden of a house, jumped through the fence and then through a second fence on to the railway line. It travelled towards High Wycombe along the railway line for some 500 yards and, on reaching the railway goods yard, returned to the main road. Apparently confused by the volume of traffic at this point, the stag jumped a fence and landed in the adjoining stream where the water is about 18 inches deep. Having crossed the stream, it found its way into the back garden of one of a row of houses bordering the stream and entered a shed, where it was secured. The animal was in a nervous state and bleeding from both forelegs. After an interval of about an hour, six persons arrived with a box van, into which the animal was loaded. The hon. Member will, therefore, see that the constables were not taking part in hunting the animal at all.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that I was not suggesting in any way that the constables were responsible for hunting the animal, but that the Berks and Bucks staghounds were the hunt? I was asking whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider introducing legislation to prevent in future occurrences such as this, which outrage the feelings of all decent people?

I have stated the facts, as it was my duty to do, fully and impartially, and everybody can form his own opinion on them. I am afraid I cannot take upon myself to add to the crowded programme of Government legislation.

Will the Home Secretary be so kind as to suggest to certain hon. Members sitting behind him the impropriety of laughing at the idea of a bleeding animal?

Corporal Punishment (Children)


asked the Home Secretary whether he will without delay introduce legislation to prohibit the infliction of repeated sentences of corporal punishment upon children by juvenile courts, in view of recent cases which have occurred at Aldershot and elsewhere; to which his attention has been drawn, and in view of the growing public dislike of the infliction of corporal punishment?

The question of amending the law was fully discussed in 1932 in connection with the Children and Young Persons Bill, and the proposals contained in the Home Office Bill are well known. Parliament, however, then decided that the power to order birching should be retained. The Government cannot undertake further legislation on this subject at present.

Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that birching a bad boy will make him any better?

Prison Service

Subordinate Probation Officers


asked the Home Secretary how many subordinate probation officers failed to pass the test for appointment to the prison service at the last class at Wakefield Prison; and whether candidates generally are interviewed and their credentials examined before they are taken from permanent posts outside the service and put to needless expense?

Of the 51 men who joined the last class at Wakefield Training School, one resigned and 12 failed to qualify. The second part of the question is to the same effect as the question which the hon. Member addressed to me, and which I answered, on 19th November last.



asked the Home Secretary whether he is satisfied that there is a sufficient number of officers at Parkhurst convict prison to cope with the innovations of prison reform and safe custody; whether he is aware that many officers are unable to have their complete annual leave at the time required or leave in lieu of overtime; and whether he is aware of the discontent amongst members of the staff as a consequence?

I know of no reason for thinking that the staff at Parkhurst prison is insufficient for present needs. The date at which an individual officer can be allowed to take his annual leave and the amount which can be taken in one instalment necessarily depends on the claims of others; but I am glad to say that all leave due to the discipline staff was taken last year, including equivalent leave for overtime, and I am not aware that there is any discontent.

Instructors (Wages)


asked the Home Secretary what are the rates of wages of civilian instructors or assistants who were trained in outside industries and employed at their appropriate trades in prisons and institutions; and if, having regard to recent increases of pay of tradesmen serving under the War Office and the Admiralty, he will consider the position of similar ratings in the prison service with a view of improving their rates of pay?

The existing rates are from £3 10s. to £4 5s. a week. My attention had already been drawn to the considerations to which the hon. Member refers, and the question whether a revision of the existing rates is desirable is at the present time under consideration.

Is it a fact that when a reduction of wages takes place in a trade outside, a corresponding reduction takes place inside this service?

Cock Fighting


asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the communication sent to him in respect to the alleged spread of cock-fighting in Cumberland and Westmorland; and whether any special steps are being taken by the police to deal with it?

The communication to which the hon. Member refers gives no details of any kind, but I have communicated with the chief constable of Cumberland and Westmorland who informs me that all possible action is taken to enforce the law.

Has the right hon. Gentleman not seen Press cuttings relating to these cock fights, and the difficulty of getting information because of the fears of the informers; and will special steps be taken by the police to deal with this matter?

I did see a Press cutting, but it was of an entirely general kind, and did not contain any detailed information at all. As I say, I have made special inquiries and the chief constable is conscious of the importance which I attach to the matter.

If I forward particulars of definite cases, will the right hon. Gentleman consider them?

The Coronation


asked the Home Secretary what arrangements have been made by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis for the parking in the West End of motor cars belonging to seat-holders occupying seats in the stands in the Royal parks, or otherwise, on the occasion of the Coronation procession of Their Majesties on 12th May?

Under the arrangements contemplated by the Commissioner of Police, only cars provided with special windscreen labels will be admitted to the Coronation area on 12th May. The means of access to each section of the route will be designated on the label, each section having a label of a special colour, and setting down places will be allotted to each section. Arrangements will be made for parking to be permitted in certain streets which will be sign-posted. When the available parking space has been filled drivers will have to proceed outside the Coronation Area by the sign-posted routes. The available parking space will, of course, be very limited, and it is to be hoped that spectators and seat holders will use public vehicles as far as possible in preference to private vehicles. The question of the provision of certain additional parking space in the Royal parks for seat holders in the parks is at present under consideration.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when there will be a notification as to where the parking places are?


asked the Lord President of the Council whether any arrangements are being made to reserve an adequate number of Coronation seats in Parliament Square or elsewhere which Members of Parliament may purchase for their relatives or friends?

As I have already stated, it is proposed to allocate the seats in such a manner as to provide representation of the various aspects of the national life. The number of seats to be reserved for the two Houses of Parliament under these arrangements is approximately 2,500.

Air Raid Precautions


asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the nature of the criticism of air-protection plans by the Cambridge scientists anti-war group, he proposes to take any steps to reassure the public as to the efficacy of the Government's proposals?

I am advised that the experiments carried out by the persons referred to depend on academic assumptions and have been interpreted on purely theoretical lines. Both the experiments themselves and the deductions made from them are consequently open to grave criticism. The Government's recommendations on the other hand are based upon carefully conducted experiments employing actual war gases liberated under practical conditions, and having particular regard to the circumstances in which gas can be discharged from aircraft. My right hon. Friend is satisfied, as I stated on 15th February in reply to a question by the hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. Duncan) that the recommended methods of gas-proofing would be effective in affording a very great measure of protection and would reduce materially the number of casualties which might otherwise occur.

37 and 38.

asked the Home Secretary (1) when it is proposed to take action arising out of the recommendations of the Fire Service Committee;

(2) what are the arrangements proposed to organise the fire service of the country in units and collectively against fires, etc., arising from hostile attack?

With regard to fire brigade co-operation for emergency purposes, schemes on a regional basis will be submitted to the local authorities concerned for their consideration as soon as the necessary preparatory work can be completed. With regard to the extension of local fire-fighting services to meet the risk of incendiary attack from the air, the action already being taken was summarised in a reply given to the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Sandys) on 2nd December, 1936. A memorandum on the whole subject of emergency fire brigade organisation is about to be issued to local authorities, together with a circular indicating the extent to which, and the conditions under which, Exchequer assistance will be given to fire brigade authorities in connection with their emergency schemes. The memorandum and the circular will be placed on sale, and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Metropolitan And City Police Orphanage


asked the Home Secretary whether he can make a statement respecting the future of the inmates of the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage; whether any decision has been reached respecting the amount to be allocated for maintenance of each inmate discharged; whether members of the police forces have been consulted; and whether they are willing to contribute to enable adequate maintenance to be provided?

The Commissioner of Police informs me that these and other questions arising out of the decision to close the orphanage are still under consideration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that people have been offered £20 per annum to maintain these children in their own homes; and does he think that this is an adequate sum?

I do know that a committee is considering the whole question, and that it has not yet made its recommendations.

Have members of the respective police forces been consulted as to whether they are willing, if the necessity arises, to make these contributions?

I could not answer that question—certainly not without notice. I repeat that there is a committee considering the matter, and that their recommendations have not yet been made.

Inflammable Toys


asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to recent cases of death through fire caused by the accidental ignition of children's toys made of celluloid; and whether he proposes to take action to prevent such articles being exposed for sale?


asked the Home Secretary how many accidents, fatal or otherwise, to children occurred in each of the last three years through the use of celluloid toys; and whether he will consider the practicability of preventing the sale of inflammable toys?

I have no statistics on the point, but accidents of this kind have been brought to the notice of the Home Office from time to time. I am afraid that the practical difficulties in the way of controlling the sale of celluloid toys by means of legislation would be very great.

Clubs Bill


asked the Home Secretary whether it is the intention of the Government during the current Session to introduce legislation dealing with the registration and licensing of clubs?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply to a question on this subject by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on 25th January, to which I have nothing to add.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Crosville Motor Services, Limited, are about to establish a licensed club at their depot in Carnarvon; and in view of the danger that may arise to the travelling public owing to the taking of intoxicating drinks in that club, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it an urgent matter to bring in legislation to deal with such cases?

Of course I know nothing of that case, but I may inform the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it is not contemplated that the proposed legislation will prohibit the consumption of any intoxicants in any club.

Does not the proposed legislation contemplate giving some power to licensing authorities to refuse or grant such licences?

Twenty-Four Hour Clock


asked the Home Secretary whether in view of the fact that the majority of Continental countries have adopted the 24-hour clock for official use and train services, he will consider the appointment of a Departmental Committee for the purpose of reporting on the advantages of the same for Great Britain?

No, Sir. I do not think that there is any wide public demand for the suggested change.

Road Safety (Police Patrols)


asked the Home Secretary whether he has any proposals to make for more effective use of police patrols in encouraging the observance of the Highway Code by all classes of road users?

The answer is a very long one, Mr. Speaker, but the matter is of importance.

Yes, Sir. I have had this matter under examination for some time, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Transport, and have formed the opinion that good results would be achieved by augmenting the personnel available, not so much with a view to more frequent penal action, but primarily for the purpose of inculcating a higher standard of road sense and behaviour on the part of all classes of road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. With the concurrence of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is proposed to arrange for an experiment, involving a substantial increase in the number of patrols, to be carried out for a limited period in a few selected areas, including the Metropolitan Police District. For this purpose it will, of course, be necessary to secure the co-operation of any police authorities and chief officers of police who may be concerned, but I have no doubt that this will be forthcoming. The process of recruitment and the necessity for special training will make it impossible to put the full additional force on the roads before the autumn. It is contemplated that when the experiment is in full operation, it will allow for an increase of about 800 men. It is proposed, without prejudice to any permanent arrangement, that the cost of this experimental increase should be borne by the Exchequer, and the necessary Estimates will be presented to the House in due course.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and myself are anxious that it should be appreciated that, whilst there is, of course, no intention of relaxing the enforcement of the law, the experiment is designed primarily to assist and educate the road user, and not to increase the number of prosecutions. The effect upon accidents will be closely watched. In order that effective touch may be maintained with the progress of the experiment and the work of the patrols generally, arrangements are being made for the appointment of a joint consultative committee which will consist of representatives of the Departments concerned and a number of chief officers of police.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his very clear answer, may I ask whether he will consider impressing upon the police the importance of warnings in cases where there is a real element of danger, as against merely technical prosecutions or warnings?

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that these police patrols appreciate that pedestrians still have the right to use the roads of this country?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the question of introducing legislation to place the onus of non-fault upon the shoulders of motorists?

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to prevent the Minister of Transport from de-restricting roads in defiance of, and against the wishes of, local watch committees?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the education of pedestrians in road sense will include lessons in skipping?


Physical Training


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will take into consideration the work of the Lancashire keep-fit movement for women and girls, with a view to that organisation's representation on the National Advisory Council, as proposed in Cmd. 5364, and/or any of the committees set up to develop and co-ordinate the work of the National Advisory Council?

In constituting the National Advisory Council the Government have endeavoured to include on it persons possessing experience of the wide variety of problems which the Council will be called upon to consider, but considerations of numbers made it impossible to include representatives of local movements such as that referred to by the hon. Member. I have no doubt, however, that account will be taken of local achievements, when the constitution of local committees is under consideration.


Area.Net expenditure on Provisions of Meals (including milk*).
Area under County Council.5,4064,9137,51411,04213,93312,105
All other areas excluding Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda.13,11713,30615,43720,90322,99426,500
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough4,2164,3983,5583,1013,5583,703
Rhondda Urban District5,6256,76310,5509,7556,5119,222
Area under County Council7,7017,3549,4769,92212,02812,502
All other areas12,57911,65913,82612,73413,06713,220

* Excluding milk provided on payment under voluntary arrangements in connection with the Milk in Schools Scheme.

existence for many years and has been doing a lot of work among mill girls and people of that kind who might be missed by the Government's scheme, which, I feel, will attract clerical workers more than these other workers?

It will be one of the first duties of the National Committee to get into touch with those who have been doing this work in the localities, and I think, the hon. Member may rest assured that this organisation will be taken into account.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that this work has been going on for a number of years and that vast experience has been accumulated? What Lancashire thought of three or four years ago the rest of England is thinking of today.

Meals (School Children)


asked the President of the Board of Education the amount of money spent in the feeding of schoolchildren, including the supply of milk, in the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth for each year from 1930 to date, giving the amounts separately for each county and for Merthyr and the Rhondda?

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

Following is the answer:



asked the President of the Board of Education how many secondary schools there are in the country; and what number are fully provided with gymnasia equipment?

On 1st October, 1936, out of a total of 1,393 grant-earning secondary schools in England and Wales, 980 were fully provided with gymnasia equipment.


asked the President of the Board of Education the number of elementary and central schools there are in the country; and how many are partly and wholly supplied with gymnasia equipment?

The total number of public elementary schools (which include central schools) in England and Wales is 20,875. As regards the second part of the question, the board have note of 60 cases since 1929 of new public elementary schools where the plans as finally approved included the provision of a separate gymnasium. In the absence of a gymnasium, school halls have in many cases been equipped for gymnastic work.

British Foreign Policy


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the importance of securing national unity in support of our Defence programme and foreign policy, he will issue a definite invitation to the leaders of the parties in Opposition to consult with him on the subject?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to a question which he addressed to me on 10th November last, and to the supplementary question arising therefrom.

In view of the extreme gravity of the situation, does not the Prime Minister think it worth while to make the attempt at any rate to achieve unity rather than that we should remain a disunited nation?

As the hon. Member knows from the supplementary answer I gave him last November, I think the initiative should come from hon. Members opposite. There is no one more accessible than I am.

Defence (Imperial Contributions)


asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make with reference to the proposals of the Government to be laid before the Imperial Conference respecting a greater share in the cost of Imperial Defence being borne by the Dominions?

While welcoming the opportunity afforded by the Imperial Conference for the discussion of defence and other common problems, I would remind the hon. Member that the defence expenditure of the Dominions is entirely a matter for His Majesty's Governments in the respective Dominions.

Did not the Prime Minister see the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty on this subject, which created widespread comment throughout the Empire, and will he not give us some information on this subject?

Can the Prime Minister say whether the First Lord of the Admiralty was speaking on behalf of the Government on that occasion?

Jarrow (Steelworks)


asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to accede to the request of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle to receive an influential deputation from Tyneside with regard to the steelworks at Jarrow?

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the deputation which I was asked to receive following a conference held at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 5th February. I regret that the pressure upon my time makes it impossible for me to receive this deputation, but I have informed the Town Clerk of Newcastle-on-Tyne that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade would be prepared to do so.

As the Prime Minister has just assured us that he is the most accessible of all the Ministers, may I ask why he continually refuses to hear the case of this Special Area, in view of the fact that on his own suggestion we have already exhausted all the departmental channels, and the steel situation is now becoming so serious that Cabinet action is obviously required?

I should perhaps have said "necessarily accessible" In regard to a deputation like this, the Board of Trade is the proper Department to see. I would remind the hon. Lady that all Cabinet Ministers are co-equal but, fortunately, not co-eternal.

While regretting, of course, this suggestion of political mortality on the part of the Prime Minister, may I ask him whether he is aware that the Departmental channels concerned have said on certain matters which were put forward "This needs Cabinet action," and is not the Premier the only person who can decide upon Cabinet action?

No, that is not in accordance with the constitutional practice. If the Prime Minister were to undertake to see deputations which might come to him from all over the country on subjects which are exciting interest, he would be able to do nothing else. The Departmental Minister brings the subject to the Cabinet. That is what he is there for.

Members' Meetings (Ministers' Addresses)


asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the indulgence by Ministers in the practice of addressing unofficial committees or meetings of Members within the precincts of the House during the time the House is sitting; and whether, having regard to the fact that such meetings seriously deplete the attendance at other important business in the Chamber and provide sections of Members, such as, for example, the Conservative Air Committee, with information not vouchsafed to the whole House, he will recommend Ministers to avoid this practice?

I think it is well known that many meetings are held in committee rooms upstairs while the House is in session, and, so far as I am aware, such meetings are not confined to Members of any one party in the House. My Noble Friend the Secretary of State for Air informs me that, in addressing a meeting upstairs recently he did not do more than amplify and explain information which has been given in Parliamentary Debates. The main purpose of these meetings is to enable Members to keep themselves informed on various aspects of public affairs, and I do not propose to take any step to interfere with the discretion of those hon. Members who call these meetings in asking whoever they consider most qualified to address them. I am sure that my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for Air would welcome an opportunity of addressing Members of the Opposition if the hon. Gentleman would make the necessary arrangements.

While appreciating the remarks which the Prime Minister has just made, may I ask whether he has observed the strange contrast between the reluctance of the Air Ministry to give information from the Treasury Bench with the readiness of the Secretary of State for Air to give that information before unofficial meetings of Members upstairs.

Health Insurance And Contributory Pensions


asked the Minister of Health whether he can now state what action he proposes to take on the representations made by the Joint Council of Qualified Opticians against the draft regulations for the administration of ophthalmic benefit which were issued on 27th November, 1936?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given on 26th January to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Captain Macnamara). The substantive Regulations will be issued without any avoidable delay.


asked the Minister of Health the approximate number of persons between the ages of 60 and 65 years who are at present insured under the National Health and Contributory Pensions Acts?

In the middle of 1936, which is the latest date for which information is available, the number of persons between the ages of 60 and 65 who were insured under the National Health Insurance and Contributory Pensions Acts was, estimated to be 850,000.

Does the Minister know that when the majority of these people reach 65 years of age, if they are unemployed and if the wife is not 65 years of age, they suffer a reduction in their incomes of 16s. per week, and will he do something to relieve this kind of distress?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give any hope that he will at any early date introduce provision for a scheme of contributory pensions at 55 years of age for spinsters, in view of the large support for this proposal in all parts of the House?

I understand the hon. Member to refer to a non-contributory addition to the benefits of the contributory pensions scheme. In that case the answer is in the negative. Similar proposals have been made in the past, and it has not been found practicable to adopt them.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say, for the comfort of those hardworking women who are pressing for this very just reform, that the attitude of the Government is at least friendly?

Houses (Numbering)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that complaint has been made by representative organisations of traders of the difficulty and delay caused to their members in the delivery of goods to householders in urban areas through the absence of numbers on the houses in many streets; and whether he will issue a circular to urban and rural district councils calling their attention to the duty imposed upon them by Section 64 of the Towns Improvement (Clauses) Act, 1847, to cause the houses in a street to be numbered?

I have recently received representations on this subject from two such organisations. I am not aware that there has been any general failure on the part of local authorities, who have a discretion in the matter, and in the circumstances I do not think it necessary to issue a circular.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider sending a circular to those snobbish people who like to have names on their houses, pointing out that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have numbers?


Building Materials (Prices)


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the considerable advances now taking place in all kinds of building material and the consequent increased cost of municipal houses for the working classes, he will set up machinery to control prices and so prevent profiteering?

The building of houses by local authorities is only one factor in the present demand for building materials. My hon. Friend can rest assured that the cost of these houses and the prices of building materials are being closely watched by my Department, and where tenders have been unduly high I have asked for them to be reconsidered.

Rural Workers (Depwade)


asked the Minister of Health how many houses have been reconditioned in the area of the Depwade Rural District Council under the Rural Workers Housing Act; how many applications under the same Act have been refused; in how many cases has the assistance been given by way of loan, and how many by grant; what is the biggest grant made; and will he inquire as to the necessity of a £100 grant just given to recondition a cottage on the application of Mr. E. J. Mann?

Up to 31st December, 1936, the latest date for which figures are available, one house had been reconditioned with assistance by way of loan; two houses were in process of being reconditioned on the; promise of a grant of £100 in each case: applications for grant in respect of 12 houses had been refused and applications in respect of three houses were under consideration. Administration of the Acts in accordance with the scheme approved by me is vested in the local authority. I understand the application for the particular grant referred to has been withdrawn.

Has the right hon. Gentleman made an inquiry into the application of Mr. Mann, and is he aware that a grant was made in this case where demolition took place rather than reconditioning? Is he satisfied in this matter?

If the application has been withdrawn, I should not think it necessary for me to take any action, but if the hon. Gentleman thinks it is particularly important, I shall be glad to do what he wants.

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire whether demolition has taken place, and may I ask, in addition, whether it is wise to give £100 grant in a case like this to people who are rich enough to pay for their own?

I would say, in answer to the last part of the question, that the hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension as to the intention and value of the Act. Under the Act, the full benefit of the period of 20 years goes to the tenant. I am glad to be able to dispel that misconceived idea which is hampering us, so far as this Act is concerned.

Is not the applicant in this case very well able to give the benefit to his tenant without seeking assistance from the State?

Slum Clearance


asked the Minister of Health how many reports from his inspectors in respect of slum-clearance orders were considered by him during 1936; and whether, in any of these cases, he ordered an inquiry by an independent tribunal?

4,064 reports were made by housing inspectors during 1936 in connection with slum clearance operations: all the inquiries which I direct for this purpose are held by officers of my Department.

Helpringham, East Kesteven


asked the Minister of Health what steps are being taken to improve the housing conditions in the parish of Helpringham, in the East Kesteven rural district council; how many houses have been condemned under the slum-clearance scheme and how many built; whether there is a shortage of houses in the parish; and, if so, whether any new cottages have been built to meet the shortage?

I will ascertain the position in the particular parish mentioned in the question, and inform the hon. Member.

Papworth Village Settlement


asked the Minister of Health whether or not annual accounts are published in connection with the Papworth Village Settlement and sanatorium?

I understand that the Papworth Village Settlement, whose objects include the sanatorium hospital as well as the settlement at Papworth, is incorporated under the Companies Act as a company without profits to members, and that copies of the accounts are forwarded annually to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, in addition to being circulated to all members of the association.


asked the Minister of Health whether the Papworth tuberculosis sanatorium is under the supervision and control of his Department; whether the Ministry of Health inspectors make periodical inspections there; and whether there is a hospital board or committee in connection therewith with powers of supervision and control?

The sanatorium-hospital at Papworth is approved by me as an institution for the treatment of tuberculous patients sent by local authorities, and is inspected from time to time by my officers. It is to this extent under the supervision of my Department, but it is not, of course, under my Department's control. The articles of association of Papworth Village Settlement, whose objects include the sanatorium-hospital, provide for the affairs of the settlement to be conducted by a committee of management.

In view of what I hope are the unfounded allegations made against Papworth, could not the Minister arrange for a deputation of Members of all parties to visit the institution?

I shall be very glad to do that, but I do not think that any notice has been taken of these allegations.


asked the Minister of Health whether the Papworth Village Settlement and tuberculosis sanatorium is registered as a private charity?

I understand that Papworth Village Settlement, including the sanatorium-hospital, is registered as a War charity under the War Charities Act, 1916.

Public Health

Maternal Mortality


asked the Minister of Health when the district reports on maternal mortality, etc., are likely to be published?

Year.Expenditure on revenue account on maternity and child welfare services by local authorities in the geographical county ofExpenditure included in column 2 of the Council of
GlamorganMonmouth.Rhondda Urban District.Merthyr Tydfil County Borough.

[ Note.—The figures include the expenditure of voluntary bodies only in so far as it is met by contributions from local authorities.]

National Finance

Exchange Equalisation Fund


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there is any considerable profit standing to the credit of the Exchange Equalisation Fund?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the possibility of utilising the profit, which he said in his last Budget statement was there, for the

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the report on the special investigations recently made by my officers into maternal mortality in various parts of the country. This report is now being printed, and I hope to be in a position to present it to the House at an early date.

Maternity And Child Welfare


asked the Minister of Health the amount of money spent in maternity and child welfare services in the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth for each year from 1930 to date, giving the amounts separately for Rhondda and Merthyr and for each county?

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

Following is the answer:

purpose of the Government's rearmament loan?

Customs And Excise Duties (Foodstuffs)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount of revenue raised during the last financial year for which figures are available, by means of Customs and Excise Duties upon foodstuffs of the same description as those produced in the British Isles?

It is difficult to give a firm figure, but the answer is approximately £28,000,000 for the year ended 31st March, 1936.

Compensation Brokers, Limited


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the declared object of the recently established company, entitled Compensation Brokers, Limited, is the financing of barter trade between Germany and the British Dominions; and, as this involves the granting of new credits to Germany, do His Majesty's Government intend taking any action in the matter?

I understand that the company referred to is a brokerage firm and does not give financial credits. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that the whole object of this firm is to enable Germany to purchase goods from the Dominions by a system of barter financed by this company, so that Germany will not have to pay for the goods which become available, and that thereby credit will be given to Germany for materials which can be used for armament purposes; and does he intend taking any steps?

Will it be necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to give his approval to any loan that may be necessary for this purpose?