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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 320: debated on Monday 22 February 1937

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India

British Cotton Goods (Tariff)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will make representations to the Government of India to the effect that a 20 per cent. tariff on British cotton goods entering India is unnecessary for the protection of Indian industry, in view of the fact that Indian cotton goods are competing with British cotton goods in the Colonial markets without special protection or concessions?

My Noble Friend regrets that he is unable to act as suggested. As stated by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade last Tuesday, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Mr. Duckworth), the point will be borne in mind in the negotiations for a new trade agreement between this country and India.

Now that the unilateral fiscal convention is out of the way, surely something can be done to get this tariff reduced, so that Lancashire may have a chance of getting back some of the trade of which we were deprived by the fiscal convention?

As was said by my hon. Friend, there will be an opportunity for negotiation this summer.

Cotton Mills (Wages)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can give any figures showing an increase or a reduction in the wages paid in cotton mills in India during the last two years?

I will ask the Government of India whether they have any statistics such as my hon. Friend requires.

China (British Trade Marks)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of the Chinese Ministry of Industries in refusing protection to a well-known British trade mark registered for electric lamps which is being used by a Chinese firm on a different class of goods; and what action he proposes to take for the protection of British traders whose trade marks are infringed?

I have consulted His Majesty's Representative at Peking who states that no recent instance of the nature described by my hon. Friend has been brought to his notice. I understand, however, that a trade mark registered in respect of electric lamps by an American concern was last year imitated on cigarettes. So far as I am aware, no British interests were involved.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the refusal of the Chinese authorities to protect a trade nark registered in China by a British firm for soap-class goods which is being used by a Chinese firm for face cream; and whether he will draw the attention of the Chinese Government to the injustice of this decision?

The difficulties experienced by British firms in this connection arise out of the provisions of the relevant article of the Chinese Trade Mark Law, as applied by the Chinese Courts; it is held that the exclusive right to the use of a trade mark is confined to the class of goods specified in the application for registration, and cannot be extended to cover articles in other categories. The attention of the competent department of the Chinese Government has frequently been drawn to this unsatisfactory state of affairs, and an assurance has recently been received that the matter will receive attention when the Trade Mark Law is next revised.

Can the Noble Lord ascertain within a reasonable time the view of the Chinese Government?

I am at present expecting a full report on the subject from His Majesty's Ambassador at Peking.

Locarno Powers (British Note)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any reply has been received from the Belgian Government to the British note of 4th November, 1936; and whether he will communicate its contents to the House?

The answer to the first part of the question is, Yes, Sir. This note forms part of a preliminary exchange of views between the five Locarno Powers. It has been decided that these preliminary exchanges of view should be regarded as confidential, and the hon. Member will, I am sure, realise that this decision is in the general interest of the negotiations themselves.

Can nothing be done to prevent an impasse between the German Government and the Italian Government; and will the Minister assure the House that no question of amour propre will prevent the British Government seeking to take further action with a view to bringing these countries into line?

I assure the hon. Member that His Majesty's Government will do everything that is possible and appropriate.

Will His Majesty's Government put a blunt question to these two Governments as to whether or not they intend to reply to the note?

It is for His Majesty's Government to say what is likely to produce the best results.

The Coronation

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what foreign Governments are being invited to send representatives to attend the Coronation; what foreign Governments have already appointed their representatives; and the names of the representatives so appointed?

Invitations to send representatives to attend the Coronation have been sent to all Heads of States who are in diplomatic relations with His Majesty, and to certain independent States which are in treaty relations with this country without diplomatic representation. The information asked for in the second and third parts of the question is somewhat voluminous and I will therefore, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him whether an invitation has been sent to the Government of Spain?

Following is the information:

List of the foreign Governments who have already appointed their representatives and of the names of the representatives appointed.

Argentine Republic:

H.E. Dr. Tomas le Breton, Special Ambassador, representing the Argentine Nation (Argentine Ambassador in Paris).

Belgium:

H.R.H. The Count of Flanders. G.C.V.O., brother of and representing His Majesty the King of the Belgians.

Bolivia:

Senor Don Victor Carlos Aramayo, representing the Republic of Bolivia (former Bolivian Minister in London).

Brazil:

H.E. Senhor Raul Regis de Oliveira, G.B.E., representing the President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil (Brazilian Ambassador in London).

Bulgaria:

H.R.H. The Prince of Preslay, brother of and representing His Majesty the King of the Bulgarians.

Chile:

H.E. Senor Don Agustin Edwards, G.B.E., representing the Republic of Chile (Chilean Ambassador in London).

China:

Dr. K'ung Hsiang Hsi, representing the National Government of the Republic of China (Vice-Chairman of the Executive Yuan and Minister of Finance).

Czechoslovak Republic:

Dr. Milan Hodza, representing the Czechoslovak Republic (Prime Minister).

Denmark:

H.R.H. The Crown Prince of Denmark, G.C.V.O., son of and representing His Majesty the King of Denmark and Iceland.

Ecuador:

Senor Don Antonio Quevedo, Special Envoy, representing the Republic of Ecuador (Minister Designate of Ecuador in London).

Egypt:

H.H. Prince Mohammed Ali, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., Prince Regent, cousin of and representing His Majesty the King of Egypt.

Estonia:

General Johan Laidoner, K.C.M.G., representing the Republic of Estonia.

Greece:

H.R.H. The Crown Prince of Greece, brother of and representing His Majesty the King of the Hellenes.

Guatemala:

Senor Dr. Don José Matos, Special Envoy, representing the Republic of Guatemala (former Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Hayti:

Monsieur Ernest G. Chauvet, representing the Republic of Hayti (Minister Resident in London).

Honduras:

Senor Don Tiburcio Carias, representing the Republic of Honduras (son of the President).

Iran:

H.E. Hassan Esfandiary, representing His Imperial Majesty the Shahinshah of Iran (President of the Majlis).

Iraq:

H.R.H. The Amir Abdul Illah, uncle of and representing His Majesty the King of Iraq (son of His late Majesty King Ali of the Hedjaz).

Japan:

H.I.H. Prince Chichibu, G. C. V. O., and H.I.H. Princess Chichibu. Brother of and representing His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.

Latvia:

Monsieur Vilhelms Munters, representing the President of the Republic of Latvia (Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Lithuania:

H.E. Monsieur Stasys Lozoraitis, representing the President of the Republic of Lithuania (Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Luxemburg:

H.R.H. The Prince of Luxemburg, Consort of and representing Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg.

Mexico:

Senor Don Primo Villa Michel, Special Envoy, representing the United States of Mexico (Minister Designate of Mexico in London).

Nepal:

Commanding-General Sir Kaiser Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, K.B.E., representing His Majesty the Maharajadhiraja of Nepal (nephew of H.H. the Maharaja of Nepal).

Netherlands:

H.R.H. Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, daughter of and representing Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands, and H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

Nicaragua:

Senor Dr. Don Constantino Herdocia, representing the Republic of Nicaragua (Nicaraguan Minister in London).

Norway:

H.R.H. The Crown Prince of Norway, G.C.V.O., and H.R.H. The Crown Princess. Son of and representing His Majesty the King of Norway.

Panama:

Senor Dr. Don Arnulfo Arias, representing the President of the Republic of Panama (Minister of Panama in London).

Paraguay:

Senor Dr. Don Rogelio Espinosa, Special Envoy, representing the Republic of Paraguay (Chargé d'Affaires ad. int. of Paraguay in London).

Portugal:

H.E. Senhor Dr. Armindo Rodrigues de Sttau Monteiro, Special Ambassador, representing the Portuguese Republic (Portuguese Ambassador in London).

Salvador:

Senor Don Raul Contreras, representing the President of the Republic of Salvador (Salvadorean Minister to Spain and the Vatican).

San Marino:

Melvill A. Jamieson, Esq., Special Envoy, representing the Republic of San Marino (Consul-General of San Marino in London).

Saudi Arabia:

H.R.H. The Emir Saud, G.B.E., son of and representing His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia.

Siam:

H.R.H. Prince Chula Chakrabongs, cousin of and representing His Majesty the King of Siam.

Soviet Union:

Monsieur M. M. Litvinov, representing the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs).

Sweden:

H.R.H. The Crown Prince of Sweden, G.C.B., G.C.V.O. (Royal Victorian Chain) and H.R.H. The Crown Princess. (Son of and representing His Majesty the King of Sweden.)

Switzerland:

Monsieur Charles R. Paravicini, Special Envoy, representing the Swiss Confederation (Swiss Minister in London).

Turkey:

General Ismet Inonu, representing the Turkish Republic (President of the Council).

United States:

The Hon. James Watson Gerard, G.C.B., representing the United States of America (a former United States Ambassador in Berlin).

Uruguay:

Senor Dr. Don Luis Alberto de Herrera, G.B.E., representing the Oriental Republic of the Uruguay.

Venezuela:

Senor Dr. Don Caracciolo Parra-Perez, representing the United States of Venezuela (Venezuelan Minister in London).

Yemen:

H.R.H. Seif al Islam Husein, son of and representing His Majesty the King of the Yemen.

Yugoslavia:

H.R.H. Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, G.C.V.O. (Royal Victorian Chain) and H.R.H. Princess Olga (Prince Regent). Uncle of and representing His Majesty the King of Yugoslavia.

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether invitations to attend the Coronation have now been sent to the various European countries; and has he yet received any intimation as to who will be the chief representative of Germany at the ceremony?

The answer to the first part of the question is, Yes, Sir. No intimation has so far been received as to who will be the representative of Germany at the ceremony.

Cannot we have some guarantee that this country will not be insulted by the presence of General Goering?

On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to put a question of that kind, with regard to another country—

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now give the names of the selected representatives of all the Colonies, with the respective detachments of troops from each, which have been invited to take part in the Coronation?

The Colonial military contingent which will take part in the Coronation Procession will consist of detachments of officers, British noncommissioned officers, and African, Arab or Malay non-commissioned officers, from the permanent Forces in the Colonial dependencies: namely, the Royal West African Frontier Force, the King's African Rifles, the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, the Transjordan Frontier Force and the Malay Regiment, and of officers and noncommissioned officers from the various local volunteer defence forces. The total number of officers and non-commissioned officers forming the contingent will be in the neighbourhood of 120. I am not at present in a position to furnish the detailed names of all the officers and noncommissioned officers who have been selected for this purpose by the several Colonial Governments.

66.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether His Majesty's Government will signalise the forthcoming Coronation by introducing a further instalment of the five-day working week in Government Departments; and whether he will introduce legislation to enable banks, which so desire, to follow this example?

I regret that I cannot hold out any hope of the adoption of these suggestions.

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend remember them sympathetically?

Is the Financial Secretary aware that you have got the power if you have got the will?

Territorial Waters (Three Mile Limit)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with which foreign countries agreements have been entered into to the effect that territorial waters shall be greater than three miles?

No such agreements have been concluded by His Majesty's Government.

Is the Noble Lord aware that the fishing industry is very much concerned about this matter?

Afghanistan

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House information regarding the conversations which took place between His Royal Highness the Sirdar Mohamed Hashim Khan, Prime Minister of Afghanistan, and members of His Majesty's Government during the recent visit of His Royal Highness to London; what were the subjects discussed; and what was the attitude of the Afghan Government towards the road building programme which the Government of India is carrying out in the Khaisora Valley of Waziristan?

My right hon. Friend was glad to take the opportunity of His Royal Highness's informal visit of courtesy to London to discuss with him general questions of interest to the Afghan Government. The matter mentioned in the last part of the question was not discussed with His Royal Highness.

Spain

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that further volunteering for Spain is to be banned, the British Government will suggest to the Non-Intervention Committee that all the volunteers actually on the spot shall now be recalled by their respective Governments or lose the rights of citizenship?

The question of the recall of foreign volunteers now in Spain has already been raised in the Non-Intervention Committee, and His Majesty's Government have made it clear that they are prepared to take part in an early discussion of this matter. It would at present be premature to forecast what detailed measures to this end will be discussed.

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

13.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that many ex-service men of the Great War are said to be becoming prematurely aged or incapacitated as a result of the general aftereffects of their war service and should receive pension for their condition; and whether he will make a statement upon the attitude of his Department to such cases and the possibility of pensions being granted to them?

My attention has been drawn to certain statements to the effect quoted, and as they may tend to rouse hopes that can only be disappointed, I am glad to have an opportunity of making the position clear. I have no power to award compensation for disablement other than such as results from specific injuries or ailments which it has been established are traceable to war service. So far as the question relates to other conditions not so established, consideration would be the concern of other services which are not within my statutory powers and on which I am not in a position to express any opinion. I may say, however, that such inquiry as I have made into the matter has not disclosed any evidence from general medical experience which would support the suggestion that there is any greater likelihood of premature incapacity among ex-service men as such than in other sections of the civil community of similar age. Inquiries are, I am informed, being pursued by the British Legion and other ex-service men's associations the results of which it is their intention to lay before the Minister or Ministers whose Departments may be concerned.

In view of the fact that the benefit of the doubt goes against the ex-service man at present, will the Minister inquire into the regulations and change them, so that the ex-service man will get the benefit of the doubt?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the benefit of the doubt does not go against the ex-service man.

Agriculture

Milk Marketing Scheme

14.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what further action has been taken by the Milk Marketing Board in the case of William Mitcheson, of Burnhope Flatts farm, Burnhope, County Durham, whose three cows were sold for 7s. under a county court order; and whether he will institute an inquiry into the whole circumstances under Section 15 (2) of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931?

I am informed that the Milk Marketing Board are taking further action under the procedure authorised by rules of the court for the recovery of the amount due from Mr. Mitcheson. With regard to the second part of the question, I am advised that the matter is not one appropriate for investigation by an Agricultural Marketing Reorganisation Commission under the provisions of Section 15 (2) of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931.

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Milk Marketing Board to use their clemency in this case, as the man, I believe, is not unreasonable in the matter?

The hon. Member will appreciate that in connection with these levies, the board must operate justly between all the producers, those who pay and those who do not.

Will the right hon. Gentleman have this Section 15 (2) looked into, to see whether or not the Milk Marketing Board have the power to take the steps which they have taken quite recently?

Poultry Industry

15.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any research has been carried out to ascertain whether it is possible to carry on the poultry industry in this country on the basis of the present prices of eggs and foodstuffs, respectively; and, if not, whether he will arrange for research to be carried out in this respect forthwith?

Research into the costs and returns of commercial egg and poultry farming has been in progress for some years at various advisory centres, and the results are published from time to time. The hon. Baronet will appreciate that prices of eggs and feeding-stuffs are only two of the factors which govern the economic position of the industry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the wholesale price of feeding-stuffs has gone up nearly 50 per cent. in the last 12 months and that the price of eggs has gone down compared with 12 months ago, and that the whole industry is faced with bankruptcy?

As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I am glad to say that the cost of feeding-stuffs was slightly easier recently, and as regards the second part of his supplementary question, the answer to my hon. Friend is in the negative. The price of National Mark Standard eggs on 19th February, in London, was 16s. 6d. per long hundred, against 15s. per long hundred last year and 13s. per long hundred at the same date in the two previous years.

Will my right hon. Friend tell us how many recruits from the labour-training centres are flowing into this egg business?

Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's previous answer, is it not a fact that the foreigner is always paying for tariffs instead of the British trading interests?

16.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will introduce legislation to secure for poultry producers a stable price commensurate with the cost of production for their products?

The costs of production of poultry products are influenced by many factors, such as weather and world movements in feeding stuff prices, for which the Government are not responsible, and they also vary considerably from one type of producer to another. I am not clear, therefore, how my right hon. Friend would propose to attain the objective to which he refers, but if he would care to let me have any concrete proposals I will, of course, consider them.

Is it not the duty of the Government to submit concrete proposals to secure a stable price commensurate with the cost of production in the poultry industry?

Would it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to introduce legislation to produce a stable price to the egg producers exclusively, and to the farmers?

17.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what was the number of eggs imported in 1936 from countries from which imports are not controlled by trade agreements; and whether, in view of the serious plight of the poultry industry, he will take steps to secure the prohibition or reduction of such imports?

I have been asked to reply. With my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the countries from which eggs were imported last year and with whom we have no trade agreements in which eggs are specifically mentioned, together with the quantities of eggs imported from such countries. I would point out, however, that we have commercial treaties with most of these countries under which they are accorded most-favoured-nation rights. As regards the second part of the question, there is nothing that I can usefully add to the replies that have been given by my right hon. Friends, the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Board of Trade, to recent questions on the subject.

Could not the hon. and gallant Gentleman add to the report which he has indicated that he will be able to make anything about the subsidisation of egg exportation from the countries concerned?

If the right hon. Gentleman wants any other information and puts down a request for it on the Paper, I will see what can be done in the matter.

Following is the list:

Imports during 1936 from countries with whom we have no trade agreements in which eggs are specifically mentioned.

Eggs in Shell.

Country.Great hundreds.
Irish Free State2,563,216
Australia1,634,919
South Africa371,705
Canada103,348
New Zealand34,279
Other Empire Countries4,504
Netherlands3,799,534
Roumania1,168,617
Belgium539,927
Yugoslavia127,428
Germany41,150
France902
Egypt256,854
United States of America1,167
Argentina368,979
Uruguay249,477
Brazil88,386
Chile21,180
China1,356,888
Japan150
Other foreign countries686

Eggs not in Shell.

Cwts.
British countries (not separately distinguished)7,044
China862,021
Other foreign countries (not separately distinguished)20,932

18.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what organisations exist in Great Britain for the co-operative grading and marketing of eggs, and how many poultry farming concerns are members of such organisations?

I am collecting the information desired by my hon. Friend and hope to have it ready to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the information asked for in these questions is continually altering because of the fact that a very large number of people engaged in poultry farming are going out of business?

Following is the information:

The following agricultural co-operative organisations grade and pack eggs under the National Mark schemes in operation in England and Wales and in Scotland:

England:

Berks. Co-operative Poultry Producers, Limited, Wokingham, Berks.

Thames Valley Poultry Producers, Limited, Didcot, Berks.

Pumpsaint and District Agricultural Co-operative Society, Limited, Lampeter, Cardiganshire.

Bude and District Poultry Producers, Limited, Bude, Cornwall.

Cornwall Farmers' Egg Marketing Society, Limited, Wadebridge, Cornwall.

Poultry Farmers of Devon, Limited, Callington, Cornwall.

The Beaminster and District Collecting Depot, Limited, Beaminster, Dorset.

Northern Agricultural Co-operative Society, Limited, Gateshead, Durham.

Melton Mowbray and District Farmers' Association, Limited, Melton Mowbray, Leicester.

Stamford and District Co-operative Egg and Poultry Society, Limited, Stamford, Lincoln.

Norfolk Egg Producers, Limited. Norwich.

Northamptonshire Egg Producers, Limited, Northampton.

Clynderwen and District Farmers' Association, Limited, Clynderwen, Pembroke.

Shropshire Egg Producers, Limited, Craven Arms, Shropshire.

Framlingham and Eastern Counties Co-operative Egg and Poultry Society, Limited, Framlingham, Suffolk.

Sappa, Limited, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

Heathfield and District Poultry Keepers' Association, Limited, Heath-field, Sussex.

Stonegate and South Eastern Farmers' Co-operative Society, Limited, Stone-gate, Ticehurst, Sussex.

Pershore Co-operative Fruit Market, Limited, Pershore, Worcester.

East Yorkshire Farmers, Limited, Beverley, Yorks.

Scotland:

Aberdeenshire Egg Producers, Limited, Turriff.

Caithness Egg Marketing Society, Limited, Thurso.

Dunvegan Egg Depot, Dunvegan, Skye.

In addition to these there are a number of similar organisations in both countries which do not market their eggs under the National Mark. Egg grading and packing is also carried on by various agricultural co-operative societies as a part of their ordinary business. I regret that I have no precise details of the membership of these societies generally.

19.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many poultry-farming concerns there are in Great Britain; and what has been their annual egg production during the past three years.

As the reply includes a table of figures, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will my right hon. Friend, in circulating that report, designate the number of poultry keepers who are very small men, men in receipt of a total income lower than that of many wage-earners?

The question on the Paper does not ask for that particular information, but if the Noble Lord desires it, I shall be glad to furnish it as far as I can.

Is it not the case that many ex-service men were persuaded to put their gratuities into this industry and are now being ruined?

Statement giving the average prices of certain kinds of feeding stuffs in England and Wales, in half-yearly periods, 1934 to 1936.
Period (six months).Wheat* per cwt.Oats* per cwt.Maize, Argentina† per 480 lb.Bran, British† per ton (2,240 lb.).Weatings† per ton (2,240 lb.).Fish Meal† per ton (2,240 lb.).
s.d.s.d.£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.£s.d.
January-June, 193447601025965901640
July-December, 1934506613267661301690
January-June, 1935411701085180519615160
July-December, 1935556401756066901530
January-June, 19366560018861001014180
July-December, 19367116914261567601520

* Average prices returned at markets scheduled under the Corn Returns Act, 1882, and the Corn Sales Act, 1921.

† Average prices at wholesale markets at Bristol, Hull, Liverpool and London. Prices are on mill or store a erage for bran, weatings and fish meal, relate to quantities of not less than 2 tons.

Will the Government act now that the Communist party has taken this matter up?

Following is the reply:

The latest information available regarding the number of farmers keeping poultry relates to the year 1931, when fowls were kept on approximately 300,000 agricultural holdings exceeding one acre in extent in England and Wales in respect of which returns were received under the Agricultural Returns Act, 1925. No comparable figures are available relating to Great Britain as a whole, and there is no reliable information as to the number of persons who keep poultry on holdings of one acre and less including gardens and backyards.

As regards the second part of the question, the following statement shows the estimated production of eggs in each of the past three years in England and Wales and in Great Britain.

Year (June to May).England and Wales Millions.Great Britain Millions.
1933–343,7794,241
1934–353,7364,194
1935–363,590(a)
(a) Not yet available.

Note.—The above figures include the estimated production of eggs on holdings one acre and less in extent.

20.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what has been the course of the price of poultry feeding stuffs in Great Britain during the past three years?

As the reply involves a table of figures, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to have it circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the table:

21.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that Danish and so-called fresh Rumanian eggs are on offer at 6s. per 120 free on rail to London; and whether he can expedite the report of the Import Duties Advisory Committee so as to save from ruin the many small poultry-rearers who have embarked their whole capital in the industry?

I have been asked to reply. I do not know the source from which the figures quoted by my right hon. and gallant Friend have been obtained. Prices of imported eggs in the early part of this year were low, but they have recently risen to more normal levels. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer my right hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest and Christchurch (Major Mills) and the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Touche) on 16th February.

25.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the large increase in the imports of eggs since the standstill arrangement was terminated, he will consider a renewal of such an arrangement in order that the poultry industry may be saved from bankruptcy?

I have been asked to reply. I would refer to the reply which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade gave on 9th February to the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers).

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that I asked this question last Tuesday of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, who said that it was a question that should be addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, and that now that I have put it to the Minister of Agriculture he refers me to the Minister of Mines, and the Minister of Mines refers me to the previous answer?

26.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what arrangements exist in this country for placing home-laid eggs in cold storage?

I am not clear as to the exact nature of the information regarding the cold storage of eggs which my hon. Friend desires, but if he will be good enough to give me details of his requirements, I shall be happy to supply him with such information as is available.

Seed Potatoes

23.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the average price per cwt. of "King Edward" seed potatoes in the important markets; whether there is any shortage; and, if so, have there been any imports of seed potatoes recently?

Average prices of "King Edward" seed potatoes are not readily available, but I am not not aware of any shortage of supplies. I understand that during the months of December and January licences were issued for the importation of about 2,100 tons of seed potatoes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in certain areas of this country would-be buyers of seed potatoes find extreme difficulty in obtaining them?

I am not aware of that, but if the hon. Gentleman will give me the information, I shall be very grateful.

White Fish Industry (Government Proposals)

24.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has now considered the second report of the Sea Fish Commission dealing with white fish; and whether he has any statement to make as to the Government's intentions with regard to it?

The Government have now given full consideration to the second report of the Sea Fish Commission—of which Sir Andrew Duncan was chairman—dealing with the white fish industry.

The Commission summed up the present circumstances of the industry in the following terms:
"It is clear that, on the whole, there is not in this important food product a remunerative return to the producer, or a satisfactory result in quality and price to the consumer; and that, while those engaged, in the distributive sections are not gaining undue profits, intermediate marketing expenses are, in total, a heavy burden."
From its survey of the facts, the Commission drew the conclusion that considerably improved organisation, distributive as well as productive, was an indispensable condition for the prosperity of the industry, and that such improved organisation could not be achieved without legislative sanction and they made recommendations with that end in view. These recommendations have been discussed with representatives of the main body of producers and of various sections of distributors, including wholesale fish merchants, fishmongers, and fish friers. The distributors have expressed general approval of the recommendations. The producers, through the British Trawlers' Federation, have represented that their case is too urgent to await the issue of the necessarily lengthy process of organising the distributive trades. They have, accordingly, submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself a scheme for the regulation of production and marketing which is based on the principles embodied in the Agricultural Marketing Acts, and have asked for the necessary powers to give effect to it.

The Government regard this as reasonable and propose to introduce legislation which will enable such a scheme to be brought forward as early as possible. This scheme would, however, be only the first step towards an effort at reorganisation of the whole industry. The legislation will, therefore, provide for the constitution of an impartial body analagous to the Commission recommended by the Sea Fish Commission. It would be the duty of the Commission to assist in the organisation of the distributors, to consider and recommend to the Ministers schemes for the improvement of distribution, to supervise the operation of such schemes as well as of the producers' scheme, and generally to promote co-operation among all sections of the industry. Provision will also be made for the constitution of a representative Central Board or Joint Council, somewhat similar to that recommended by the Sea Fish Commission, to consider matters of common interest to the industry and trade as a whole. The Government's proposals, as will be seen, are based on the same general principles as those underlying the recommendations of the Sea Fish Commission, and the discussions we have had with representatives of the various sections of the industry lead us to believe they will be generally acceptable to them.

The recommendations of the Sea Fish Commission included important proposals regarding the inspection and safety of fishing vessels and the conditions of service of the crews of trawlers, with special reference to methods of payment. The first of these two points is being dealt with by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, partly by administrative action, and partly by legislation at present before the House. The second point we propose to deal with in the Bill which we are now preparing. We shall submit the Bill to the House as soon as possible.

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that the producer's scheme will not be presented as a whole to take or to leave, but that it will be susceptible of such Amendments as commend themselves to the House as a whole?

The producer's scheme will follow, as I am at present advised, the same method of presentation to the House as was embodied in the Agricultural Marketing Act.

May we have an assurance that we shall not find ourselves offered a scheme to take or to leave in its original form, but that the Minister will be empowered to accept any Amendments which commend themselves to the House?

The hon. Member had better wait until the Bill comes forward. I will bear all these points in mind. There will have to be a great deal of consultation before the Bill reaches its final form.

In preparing the Measure, will the hon. Gentleman endeavour to do as my hon. Friend suggests and produce a scheme that is susceptible of Amendment, especially since apparently some independent Commission is going to help to prepare it?

I will bear all these considerations in mind, but I would rather not give an assurance at present.

Post Office

Facilities, Brentwood

27.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the shortage of accommodation in the post office at Brentwood, Essex; whether any plans have been drawn up for its extension; and, if so, when work is likely to start?

The deficiencies in the accommodation at the Brentwood post office are fully appreciated. Plans providing for a new post office on the site of the present building and adjoining property have been settled, and it is expected that building work will commence in the autumn.

Telephone Service

28.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the telephone kiosk promised to Livingston Station village, West Lothian, on 15th December last, has not yet been set up; what is the cause of the delay; and when will the erection of the kiosk be carried through?

A site has been selected and when this has been approved by the county council, the kiosk will be provided as soon as possible. As regards the question of delay, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to his question of 15th December last.

May I ask when application was made to the county council for authority to erect this kiosk?

As soon as our plans were prepared, we applied to the county council for their permission, but I think my hon. Friend should be well satisfied now that he is going to get his kiosk.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this delay reflects unfavourably on both the Post Office and the county council?

37.

asked the Postmaster-General what steps he has taken or proposes to take to accelerate the installation of telephones in those districts of the county of Warwickshire which adjoin the city of Birmingham?

The difficulty to which the hon. Member refers has been experienced at eight exchanges in the area. At half of these exchanges the public demand for service, which has followed the recent tariff concessions, has outrun the capacity of the exchange equipment. In the remaining areas there is shortage of external plant. I have the matter very carefully under review, and I will do my utmost to minimise the inconvenience caused by the delay in obtaining the necessary plant.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, is he aware that in my constituency there are a number of subscribers who have been waiting well over six months for service, and that in many cases their names have been in the Telephone Directory since last October, and they are still without service?

This is one of the penalties of success. The concessions made have been so popular that we have had an overwhelming number of new orders. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are doing our level best for all concerned.

Is not this state of affairs one of the penalties of the Government's rearmament programme?

Engineering Department

30.

asked the Postmaster-General how many of the 1,051 rejected applicants for employment with the Post Office Engineering Department were accorded a personal interview?

Forty-four of these applicants were accorded a personal interview. The remaining applications received careful consideration but as they contained no evidence of suitability for employment in the engineering department no useful purpose would have been served by calling these applicants up for personal interview.

Money Order Department (Employes, Sick Leave)

31.

asked the Postmaster-General the number of employés in the Money Order Department who were absent through illness, and the average duration of such illness, for the years 1934, 1935, and 1936, and the number of employés employed for each of the aforementioned years?

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

Will the information give the number of employés who have received six months' sick pay and those who have received half pay?

The information will show how many have been absent and the number of days of sick absence, which is what the hon. Member who put the question asked.

Following is the information:
YearNumber of employes.Number who were absent at any time during the year on sick leave.Average sick absence per person employed (in days).
19342,9262,18610·2
19352,7682,12911·1
19362,7342,15511·3

Foreign Telephone Equipment

33.

asked the Postmaster-General what telephone installation equipment has been ordered abroad in the last 12 months, and whether he can state its nature and its value?

During the last 12 months telephone equipment of foreign manufacture was ordered to the net value of £1,131. This was for the extension of certain old exchanges which were introduced experimentally when the automatic system was in its infancy. They are likely to be replaced by exchanges of standard type at no distant date. The purchase of foreign manufactured goods for 1936 represents less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. of the total purchases of exchange equipment by the Post Office.

British Broadcasting Corporation

New Stations

29.

asked the Postmaster-General when it is proposed to open the new broadcasting stations at Stagshaw, Newcastle-on-Tyne; and whether he has received any information as to when the new broadcasting stations at South Devon and in the neighbourhood of the Bristol Channel will be commenced?

I am informed by the British Broadcasting Corporation that the new station at Stagshaw, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, will be opened in the autumn. Negotiations for the purchase of a site in South Devon are approaching completion. Tests of several possible sites for the proposed relay station in the neighbourhood of the Bristol Channel are proceeding.

I think I have given my hon. Friend all the information which is available.

Television (Radius)

32.

asked the Postmaster-General whether recent television experiments have revealed a wider radius of reception; whether he can state the maximum radius now found to be possible; and how this compares with similar experiments in other countries?

I am informed by the British Broadcasting Corporation that the maximum range of the London television station varies with direction; but experience so far suggests that the average range for good reception is of the order mentioned in the Television Committee's report, namely, about 25 miles. Owing to differences in conditions it is difficult to make precise comparisons; but in general the results obtained in other countries are understood to be somewhat similar to those obtained here.

Broadcasts

34.

asked the Postmaster-General when he last exercised his powers under Sub-section (3) of Clause 4 of the Licence and Agreement between His Majesty's Postmaster-General and the British Broadcasting Corporation?

The sub-Clause in question empowers the Postmaster-General to issue a "Notice" requiring the Corporation to refrain from sending any specified broadcast matter. It may be drawn in general terms or may be related to a particular subject. A "Notice" of the former type has been issued desiring the Corporation to abstain from broadcasting any expression of its own opinion in regard to matters of public policy, etc. No "Notice" of the latter type has been issued.

Prevention being better than cure, will the Postmaster-General now exercise his powers under this Clause and prevent the broadcasting of any subject-matter which is subversive to the British Constitution and British interests?

My right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General has at all times exercised the powers conferred upon him by this House and cannot go beyond those powers.

I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that under this Clause the Postmaster-General had power to do what I asked.

35.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will ask the British Broadcasting Corporation to supply to the House of Commons Library verbatim copies of all broadcasts of a political or controversial nature?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer which I gave on 17th February to my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons).

Cannot the hon. Gentleman do something to soothe the jagged nerves of his supporters?

36.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will obtain from the British Broadcasting Corporation a list of the members of the Central Council for School Broadcasting appointed by the Corporation under paragraph 9 of the Charter of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

As requested by my hon. and gallant Friend, I have obtained from the British Broadcasting Corporation a list of the members of the Central Council for School Broadcasting. As this list contains over 50 names, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is it not on account of the fact that there are 50 names that so much matter gets through which it were better should not get through?

Following is the list:

Central Council for School Broadcasting.

Chairman: W. W. Vaughan, M.V.O., D.Litt.

Vice-Chairman: Sir Henry Richards, C.B.

Representative Members.

Board of Education (3): Miss D. M. Hammonds, H.M.I.; G. T. Hankin, H.M.I.; W. P. Wheldon, LL.B., D.S.O.

Scottish Education Department: J. W. Peck, C.B., F.R.S.E.

Ministry of Education for Northern Ireland: A. N. Bonaparte Wyse, C.B.E.

Association of Education Committees: Percival Sharp, LL.D., B.Sc.

Association of Directors and Secretaries for Education (2): A. L. Binns, M.C., B.Sc.; F. Herbert Toyne.

County Councils Association: F. Salter Davies, C.B.E.

Association of Municipal Corporations: F. P. Armitage, C.B.E.

London County Council: John Brown, M.B.E., M.C.

Association of Directors of Education in Scotland: J. Coutts Morrison.

Association of Councils of Counties and Cities in Scotland: Sir Charles Cleland, K.B.E., M.V.O., D.L., LL.D., F.E.I.S.

Association of County Councils in Scotland. (Representatives not yet appointed.)

Federation of Education Committees (Wales and Monmouth): T. J. Rees.

National Union of Teachers (4): H. H. Cartwright; W. W. Hill, B.Sc.; W. Lloyd Pierce; Mrs. E. V. Parker.

Joint Committee of the Four Secondary Associations (3): Incorporated Association of Headmasters, Headmistresses, Assistant Masters, Assistant Mistresses: A. Hay; H. Hugh Jones; Miss D. W. Wright.

Joint Committee of the Three Technical and Art Associations: Association of Teachers in Technical Institutes, Associations of Principals in Technical Institutes, National Society of Art Masters: J. Wickham Murray.

Independent Schools Association: S. Maxwell, LL.B.

Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools: Bernard Rendall.

Educational Institute of Scotland: Harry Blackwood, F.E.I.S.

Training College Association: Miss H. J. Hartle.

Council of Principals of Training Colleges. (Representative not yet appointed.)

Scottish Council for School Broadcasting: Chairman, Sir Charles Cleland, K.B.E., M.V.O., LL.D. Chairman of Scottish Executive, G. A. Burnett, B.Sc.

Nominated Members.

W. W. Vaughan, M.V.O., D.Litt.

Sir Henry Richards, C.B.

  • R. N. Armfelt.
  • C. W. Baty.
  • O. F. Brown, B.Sc.
  • Cyril Burt, D.Sc.
  • Professor F. Clarke.
  • Professor W. J. Gruffydd.
  • W. A. F. Hepburn, M.C.
  • W. H. Perkins, M.Sc.
  • Frank Roscoe.
  • Dr. Geoffrey Shaw, H.M.I.
  • Miss H. V. Stuart.
  • P. Wilson.
  • H. A. S. Wortley.

Secretary: A. C. Cameron, M.C.

Palestine

Constitution

The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS:

39. To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is prepared to have a further inquiry into the constitutional relationship of Palestine to the United Kingdom, having regard to the fact that the Colonial Office, by extending to Palestine treaties entered into by the United Kingdom and foreign countries, recognise Palestine as part of the British Empire, while the Treasury, by declining to extend to Palestine the Imperial preference provisions of the Finance Act, 1919, treat Palestine fiscally as a foreign country?

In putting this question may I raise a point of Order? This question, which concerns two Departments of State, was addressed to the Prime Minister, and I observe that on the Order Paper it is addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The transfer was made without my knowledge.

The question was transferred to the Department which has the information.

I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by such an inquiry as my hon. Friend suggests. Commercial treaties between the United Kingdom and foreign countries are in appropriate cases applied to Palestine, with the concurrence of the Palestine Government, in virtue of the fact that under the Mandate His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of that Territory. This circumstance does not, however, affect the juridical difficulties which, as has been explained on previous occasions, stand in the way of the extension to Palestine of the benefits of Imperial preference.

Situation

40.

(for Lieut.-Colonel Sir William Allen) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that outrages have broken out again and are of daily occurrence in Palestine; and whether, as this is partly due to the disarming of the police in certain districts, he will say what steps are being taken to prevent the recurrence of crime?

The situation in Palestine remains generally as described in my reply to a question by the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) on 19th January, of which I will send my hon. and gallant Friend a copy. On the information at my disposal I see no grounds whatever for the suggestion that any recurrence of crime in Palestine is due to the disarming of the police in certain limited areas.

Are members of the civil population allowed to carry arms?

Royal Air Force (North Coates Fitties)

41.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many Royal Air Force personnel have been at North Coates Fitties since 1st December, 1936; on how many days have they been able to fly; and whether he is satisfied that this is a suitable station for winter training?

I have been asked to reply. The average number of men under training at North Coates Fitties during the period mentioned was 58, and flying was practicable on 25 days, excluding the Christmas leave period and Sundays. The limited amount of flying was due to the abnormal weather conditions experienced in the country generally during this period, and my right hon. Friend is advised that North Coates Fitties is considered as suitable for winter training as other stations in this country.

Aircraft Factory (Speke)

42.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the people ejected from the ground to be used for the new aircraft factory at Speke are being paid compensation and are being assisted in finding new homes or farms?

The Corporation of Liverpool have undertaken to give the Air Ministry vacant possession of this site and my hon. Friend's question relates, therefore, to a matter between the corporation and their tenants. My right hon. Friend is given to understand that the corporation have the matter in hand.

Fishing Industry (Dispute, North Shields)

44.

asked the Minister of Labour what is the present position regarding the dispute in the fishing industry at North Shields; how many men are affected; and whether he proposes to take any action towards a settlement?

It is understood that work has been resumed, and that a ballot is being taken by the union on the question of accepting the counter proposals of the owners or referring the matter to arbitration.

Is the Minister aware that on both sides of this dispute there is a strong feeling that unless early legislative action is taken by the Government not only will any settlement be purely temporary but the industry, which is an old native industry, will be lost to that Special Area; and will he consult with the Minister of Agriculture as to the action which has been promised and which is eagerly awaited as the one hope in a position which is regarded as almost desperate?

Fleet Air-Arm

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to say whether the future of the Fleet air-arm is being considered by the Government or by some other body; when the matter last came before the body considering it; and when the decision of the Government may be expected?

I have nothing to add to the previous replies which I have given to the hon. and gallant Member in reply to questions on this subject.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, raise this matter at the earliest possible moment on the Adjournment of the House.

Imperial Defence

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty at Bradford on 5th February represents the policy of His Majesty's Government in relation to Imperial Defence and the co-operation of the Dominions?

My right hon. Friend made no new statement of policy. The subject of his speech was the complete freedom of the Member States of the British Commonwealth of Nations to decide for themselves their policies of defence. Whilst stating that the chief burden of defence expenditure falls on Great Britain, my right hon. Friend once again declared that

"it would be a grave mistake if we tried to impose some rigid plan upon the other members of the Empire."
Similarly, as to economic questions, he made it clear that any agreements that had been or might be reached, resulted in the British Commonwealth from a common outlook and a spontaneous desire for co-operation.

Is the Prime Minister aware that, in the course of the same speech, the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that local Dominion schemes were both extravagant and inefficient, and the "Times" of 12th February, published a report from its correspondent in Ottawa to the effect that the Canadian Government were gravely embarrassed by his statement; and can he not do something to prevent these repeated Ministerial indiscretions?

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's statement is incorrect, because I have been in communication with the Canadian Government and what did happen was that what are called abbreviated reports—but what some people might call garbled reports—were sent across to Canada. They were used, by those whom one might expect to use them, as sticks with which to beat the Canadian Government. We have had no complaint from the Canadian Government.

In view of the fact that a progressive Government is in power in Canada, may we take it that Conservatives were using those sticks?

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that the authority for my statement was the "Times," which is a supporter of the Government?

I do not question the authority of the hon. Member. I have read the speech in the first person and I have made myself acquainted with it. I am very grateful for the opportunity which the House gives me of reading all these speeches very carefully.

Armaments Manufacture

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government have any intention to implement any part of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Private Manufacture of Armaments; and, if so whether he will print a White Paper stating what their proposals are?

I regret that I am not yet in a position to add to the answer I gave last week on this subject.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is rather unfair to the distinguished ladies and gentlemen, who gave two years of their time to the Royal Commission, that no notice should be taken of their recommendations for so long a time?

I should have thought that the longer time which was given would show that greater appreciation was given to the recommendations.

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now give the House any definite assurance that machinery has been set up to prevent abnormal profiteering in the manufacture of armaments; and, if so, will these be retrospective, dating back to when the first £300,000,000 was put into operation?

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 28th January to the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Day), of which I am sending him a copy.

Have the Government nothing more to add now to that answer, or are they still going to admit that they are just going along on the same lines as in 1914–18, allowing a general swindle to get right through, especially members of their own party?

I do not agree with what the hon. Gentleman says on that point.

Germany (Armaments)

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government are prepared to invite the German Government to stop their present policy of re-arming, and to withdraw recognition from Germany unless Herr Hitler's Government is prepared to meet this demand?

Chinese Liquid Eggs

49.

asked the Lord President of the Council what research has been carried out to ascertain whether Chinese liquid eggs imported into this country are hygienic foodstuffs; and, if not, whether he can arrange for further investigation to take place?

The answer to the first part of the question, in so far as the Medical Research Council are concerned, is in the negative. As regards the second part, I am informed that the matter is not of a kind which would come within the Council's sphere, except on representations from the appropriate administrative Department that there was need for special research work going beyond the scope of ordinary methods of examination. In this connection, I am informed by the Minister of Health that samples of frozen Chinese eggs have been examined in the laboratory of his Department and that no evidence was found of the presence of any pathogenic organisms.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that nearly 1000,000,000 of these eggs came into British ports last year from China?

Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill

50.

asked the Minister of Health to which administrative counties of England and Wales will Section 3 (1) of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill apply in the event of the Bill becoming law in its present form?

It is anticipated that the administrative counties of Middlesex and Surrey will be the only counties affected by the provisions of Clause 3 (1) of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill.

51.

asked the Minister Of Health whether he will state, in respect of each of the administrative counties affected by Section 3 (1) of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill, the amount that the county would have to contribute to the deficiency under the present law and the amount the county will have to contribute if the Bill is enacted in its present form?

Under the Local Government Act, 1929, no contribution was payable by a county council when the county apportionment was less than the amount required to be set aside out of it for payment to the councils of county districts; the whole of the deficiency was made good by the Exchequer. Under the proposals contained in the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill it is estimated that the contributions to be made under Clause 3 (1) by the Middlesex County Council will be limited to the product of a penny rate (approximately £71,000) and the contribution by the Surrey County Council will be £36,000 in each year of the next grant period commencing on 1st April next.

52.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will state, in respect of each of the counties affected by Section 3 (1) of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill, the amount the Exchequer would have had to contribute to the deficiency under the existing law and the amount the Exchequer will have to contribute if the Bill is enacted in its present form?

It is estimated that under the present law the contributions to be made by the Exchequer in each year of the grant period commencing on 1st April next in cases where the county apportionment is less than the amount required to be set aside for payment to the councils of county districts would be £131,000 (£107,000 in the case of Middlesex and £24,000 in the case of Surrey). Under the proposals contained in the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill it is estimated that the contributions to be made by the Exchequer under Clause 3 (1) will be £159,000 (£123,000 in the case of Middlesex and £36,000 in the case of Surrey).

Steel And Scrap Iron

54.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give this House any information in connection with the steel and scrap iron agreement?

My right hon. Friend understands that, as is reported in the Press, the iron and steel industry has made arrangements with the National Federation of Scrap Iron and Steel Merchants for the better organisation of supplies of scrap. The object of these arrangements is, I understand, to improve the collection and distribution of supplies.

Can the Minister state what percentage of increase in the prices is arrived at in this agreement?

Is the Minister aware that smaller employers in this industry are being squeezed out because they cannot get materials?

Are we to understand from the answer which the Minister has given that the only information which the Board of Trade has on this vital matter of the raw materials of steel is from casual notices in the Press, and are they not taking any share whatever in the organisation of this vital matter?

The hon. Lady must not understand that; it was only a reference that I made.

Royal Navy (Apprentices)

55.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the number of engine-room artificers and other apprentices, specifying which, who, since the inception of the scheme of promotion to cadet (E) and midshipman (E), have been promoted each year; and whether, in view of the large increase in the number of cadet-entry engineer-officers, he will remove the limit of two only per year for apprentices and arrange for a larger number of these well-fitted men to become officers?

The numbers of apprentices promoted to midshipman (E) are as follow:

  • Two in each of the years 1924, 1925 and 1928;
  • One in each of the years 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933 and 1934;
  • None in the years 1930 and 1932.
In 1935, one apprentice was promoted to cadet (E), and in 1936, two.

It would not be possible, without examination of the individual records, to ascertain whether these midshipmen and cadets, before selection, were being trained as engine-room, electrical or ordnance artificers. The hon. Member will appreciate that these numbers relate to a period when the entries to the mechanical training establishment were smaller than they are now. I may add that I am considering whether an increase can be made in the number of cadets (E) taken from this source, provided that suitable candidates are forthcoming.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the limit of two apprentices per year is sufficient encouragement to these young men to take a keen interest in their profession?

No, Sir. I should like to see more, and the question whether it is possible to increase the number is under consideration.

Education

Senior Schools (Visits)

56.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether any instructions have been issued limiting the facilities for, educational visits in the case of senior schools; have the authorities been consulted in the matter; and does the board discriminate in this connection in favour of secondary schools?

No instructions have been issued limiting the facilities for educational visits in the case of senior schools, and the second part of the question does not, therefore, arise. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.

Transport Facilities

57.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the hardship to parents where children have to pay omnibus fares for children's school attendance, a cost much higher than comparable transport by tramcar; and whether he will endeavour to secure equality of treatment by arrangement with the transport authorities or otherwise?

If the hon. Member has any particular case of hardship in mind, and will let me know the facts, I shall be glad to see whether anything can be done.

School Children (Milk)

58.

asked the President of the Board of Education the nature of the experiments now being made to render more palatable the consumption of fresh milk by children who do not care for it in its raw state?

So far as I am aware no experiments of this kind are now being made, but we are considering the whole question in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Milk Marketing Board and the National Milk Publicity Council. The practical difficulties are, however, substantial, and an experiment conducted last year in Ayrshire by the Hannah Dairy Research Institute in co-operation with the Scottish Milk Marketing Board produced rather disappointing results.

Can I have my hon. Friend's assurance, on behalf of the children referred to in this question, that the Department will continue to experiment and to endeavour to allay the opposition on the part of the Milk Marketing Board to this scheme?

That, clearly, is a matter for further consideration by ourselves and the other authorities.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that by going to any of the local milk bars it is possible to find out 253 ways of utilising milk to make it more palatable?

Woolwich Arsenal (Accident)

59.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now give the House any information in connection with the fatal accident to a window cleaner at Woolwich Arsenal?

The matter is still under consideration. I will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as investigations are completed.

Air Raid Precautions

60 and 61.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will make an investigation into the observations of the Cambridge scientists as the result of their examination of recommendations put forward by the Air Raids Precautions Department of the Home Office;

(2) whether he will cause to be published the full scientific evidence on which the proposals for the gasproofing of rooms in private houses have been based?

I presume the hon. Member refers to the Cambridge Scientists' Anti-War Group, but I would point out that this group must not be confused with the general body of Cambridge scientists, and indeed His Majesty's Government are advised in regard to these matters by the most distinguished scientific experts, not only from Cambridge, but from Oxford and other universities. The observations of the Cambridge Scientists' Anti-War Group have been carefully investigated, with the result that both the experiments themselves and the deductions made from them have been proved to be open to grave criticism. It would not be in the public interest to disclose details of the experiments upon which the Government's plans are based, but, as I said in answer to a previous question, these experiments were conducted with actual war gases liberated under practical conditions, and the measures proposed would be effective in affording a very great measure of protection.

Is not the difficulty with scientists the same as with lawyers—that they never agree?

Is my hon. Friend aware that this so-called anti-war movement is a subsidiary of the Communist party, and that the Executive of the Labour party have declared it to be subversive and unworthy of recognition?

Night Baking (Departmental Committee)

62.

asked the Home Secretary if he will give the terms of reference and names of the Departmental Committee on night baking; and when the committee will begin to take evidence?

Yes, Sir; the terms of reference of the Committee are:

"To inquire into the effects likely to ensue, to those engaged in the bread baking and flour confectionery industry, and to the public, in the event of the abolition by legislation of the practice of night baking now prevalent in the industry; and to consider and report whether or not such legislation would be desirable."
  • The members are:
  • The Right Hon. Lord Alness, K.C. (Chairman).
  • Mr. John Adamson, Chartered Accountant, of Messrs. McClelland, Ker & Co.
  • Mr. A. W. Garrett, Deputy Chief Inspector of Factories.
  • The Hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Marshall).
  • My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall).
The Committee held a preliminary meeting last week, and is taking evidence from the Factory Department to-day. I understand that arrangements are in train for the associations of employers and workers chiefly concerned to give evidence as soon as practicable. Any other bodies of persons desirous of giving evidence should communicate with the Secretary at the Home Office as soon as possible.

Would the hon. Gentleman be prepared to take evidence from the Irish Free State as to the effect of the abolition of night baking, recently passed by the Irish Free State Parliament, on the public, the employers, and the workers concerned?

Catering Trade (Hours Of Work)

63.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the long hours worked by club and hotel employés; and whether he will introduce legislation to deal with this matter?

I have consulted my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Labour, and understand that no general information on this subject is available beyond that contained in the report of an inquiry into remuneration and hours of employment in the catering trade which was published in 193o. I would point out, however, that the hours of work of certain classes of young persons employed in hotels are already limited under the Shops Act, 1934, and that the hours of other juvenile attendants in these establishments have recently been the subject of inquiry by the Departmental Committee on Hours of Employment of Young Persons in Certain Unregulated Occupations, whose report is to be published shortly. As regards the second part of the question, I am not aware that any general legislation on this question is at present in contemplation; but so far as the case of young persons is concerned consideration will, of course, be given to the recommendations of the Departmental Committee.

Is it not clear, from my hon. Friend's answer, that the bulk of these people are not protected by legislation or by trade unions?

Could not this problem be easily cleared up if the hon. Gentleman would ask Members of his own party behind him to do some of their own work?

Mr. Lloyd