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Commons Chamber

Volume 322: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1937

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 14th April, 1937.

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

Private Business

London Passenger Transport Board Bill (by Order),

Consideration, as amended, deferred till Monday next.

London County Council (General Powers) Money

Considered in Committee of the whole House.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That for the purposes of any Act of the present Session providing, among other things, for the extension of the powers of the London County Council under Sections seventy and seventy-one of the Education Act, 1921, to include a power to provide, furnish, equip, maintain, and carry on the business of an hotel in conjunction with, or as part of, their Westminster Technical Institute situate in Vincent Square, in the city of Westminster, in connection with the supply in such hotel of education in all or any branch of the hotel industry, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of such sums as may be necessary to defray the expenses of the Board of Education in respect of such grants as may become payable under the Education Act, 1921, by reason of the extension aforesaid."—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

May I ask what is the nature of the business to be carried on in this hotel? Not only is it proposed to set up a school, but apparently it is intended to carry on a hotel business. Will the hotel be open to the public?

I am afraid that all I can do at the moment is to explain the position to the Committee. It is my duty in matters of this kind to move Private Business formally, and if objection is taken to it, it becomes opposed Business, and has to be set down for debate at 7.30. The rather unusual procedure we are going through at the moment comes about in this way. The London County Council, as a higher education authority, receive a grant from the Exchequer of, I think, half their expenditure on education, and if in any Bill which they introduce they ask for additional powers which mean further expenditure in connection with their duties as an education authority, there has to be this particular form of Money Resolution. Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not seen it, but a White Paper has been issued in connection with this matter, which states that the London County Council, as the local education authority, desire to make provision for the training of persons who wish to take up hotel management, and for that purpose they require these additional powers which they have included in this Bill. The White Paper states that the net charge to the Exchequer resulting from the proposal will vary annually, but is not expected at any time to exceed a sum of the order of £1,500 or £1,800 a year. I can give the Committee that explanation of the position; but as regards the merits of the case one way or the other, of course it is not for me, as Chairman of Ways and Means, to say anything.

I take it that the proposal can be debated on the Bill, if desired—that the position will not be prejudiced if this Resolution is passed to-day?

It will not be debated in Committee on the Floor of the House unless objection is taken to the Resolution. If the Resolution is passed, the Committee on Private Bills, which takes the London County Council Bill, will then have to consider the Clauses which are to give the council these extended powers which would result in this increased expenditure.

The Chairman of Ways and Means says it is expected that the expenditure will not be more than £1,500 to £1,800 a year—

Most of us who know anything of these expectations know that they are generally exceeded in the course of a few years. It seems an unsatisfactory position if we cannot debate the Money Resolution at some time. Can we object to it now?

If the hon. Member objects, there can be no further proceedings now.

Whereupon The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

Oral Answers To Questions

Danzig

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the new League of Nations High Commissioner in Danzig is receiving full facilities for carrying out the duties allocated to him by the League Council; whether, in particular, full and unimpeded contact is permitted between him and the Danzig population; and whether there is any interference with his telephone calls and postal correspondence?

I have no reason to suppose that the High Commissioner is not meeting with the co-operation of the Danzig Senate in the performance of his task. He has not, so far as I am aware, reported to the Council of the League on any of the particular matters referred to by the hon. Member.

Do I understand that my right hon. Friend has made inquiries and that that is the position?

It is not for me to make inquiries. It is for the High Commissioner to report to the Council if and when he thinks fit.

But did not the right hon. Gentleman say last week, in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), that he would make inquiries on this point? Has he done so; and if not, will he be good enough to carry out that undertaking?

If I gave that undertaking I will do so, but I have no recollection of it.

Abyssinia

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any reports about the decision of the Italian Government to expend large sums upon the development of the Eritrean port of Assab?

My latest information is to the effect that a substantial harbour is in course of construction at Assab. I understand that the amount to be spent on it will be slightly under £1,000,000, spread over five years.

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the Italian allegation that the bombing outrage against Marshal Graziani was planned in this country; and whether he will take steps to counteract such propaganda?

I understand that an allegation to this effect appeared in an Italian newspaper. I need hardly tell the House that it is a grotesque fabrication which will receive no credence in any responsible quarter.

In view of the fact that the Italian Press is controlled by the Italian Government, will not the right hon. Gentleman make representations to the Italian Foreign Office?

I do not think this matter is of any importance. I regard the statement with contempt. It is not worth bothering about.

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a statement with reference to the expulsion of six British missionaries from Abyssinia?

I cannot at present add to the statement made on this subject by my Noble Friend on Monday last.

Belgium (Locarno Treaty)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a statement concerning the recent Anglo-Franco-Belgian conversations; and whether Belgium is now released from all military obligations to this country other than those to which she is committed by the Covenant of the League of Nations?

As my Noble Friend stated on Monday last, I hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly.

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the German renunciation of the Locarno Treaty and the approaching releasement of Belgium from her obligations under the treaty, His Majesty's Government still regard themselves as bound by the terms of that treaty?

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government are still bound by the first paragraph of Section III of the Text of Proposals of 19th March, 1936, by which they declared, as regards their obligations to France and Belgium, that nothing that had happened before or since the breach of the Treaty of Locarno could be considered as having freed the signatories of that treaty from any of their obligations or guarantees and that the latter subsisted in their entirety.

In view of the fact that two signatories to the treaty have now cleared out and that the third, Italy, is notoriously unreliable, is it not time for us to clear out also?

Certainly not. We consider that the treaty has advantages to His Majesty's Government.

Spain

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any information or reports as to commercial concessions granted by the rebel leaders in Spain to Germany and to Italy, and especially as to the granting of rights to exploit ore mines in Spain and Spanish Morocco?

I have certain information which goes to show that General Franco has entered into current commercial contracts with various foreign countries. Such contracts must, however, be distinguished from commercial concessions for the future. His Majesty's Consul at Tetuan reported in February a rumour of the sale of the iron ore products of the Espanola del Rif mine in Spanish Morocco to German nationals. This report was not, however, confirmed, and I am now informed that the mine in question had been authorised to fulfil its contracts with the United Kingdom for the rest of the year. I have had no reports to show that General Franco has granted, or promised to grant, to Germany or Italy any right to exploit iron mines in Spain or Spanish Morocco.

In the event of General Franco being defeated, will the Spanish Government be entitled to nullify everything that has been done?

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government with regard to the request made by the Spanish Government for an inquiry by the Non-Intervention Committee into the invasion of Spanish territory by Italian armed forces?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my noble Friend gave to a question asked on this subject by the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) on Monday last.

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the position of Mr. Koestler, recently News-Chronicle correspondent in Malaga, where he is being detained, what charges have been made against him, and what efforts are being made to obtain his release?

Mr. Koestler is not a British subject, but, in view of the fact that he was a correspondent of an English newspaper, His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has already been instructed to inform the insurgent authorities unofficially that His Majesty's Government are concerned for his welfare and would be glad of information concerning his position.

Although Mr. Koestler is not a British subject, is my right hon. Friend aware that he was taken by a Spanish staff officer by force from the house of Sir Peter Chalmers-Mitchell which was flying the Union Jack? In those circumstances, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it is right that we should make the most urgent representations?

It is because of the connection of this gentleman with an English newspaper that I have taken this action.

But is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that these are the facts—that he was taken by force from that house?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how representations are made to a Government which the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) does not recognise?

I understood my right hon. Friend to say that the facts as stated by me are correct?

I would not like to say that. What I do say is that we have taken what action we can in the exceptional circumstances.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, as the Government are recognised by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), he can communicate through him?

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many notes have been addressed by His Majesty's diplomatic agents to the insurgent leaders at Burgos since 1st January last; and how many replies have been received?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave yesterday to a similar question asked by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), and express the hope that he too will not find it indispensable to press for this information, for the reasons already given.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what country the Non-Intervention Committee has entrusted the observation of the French frontier of Spain?

The observation of the Franco-Spanish frontier is not entrusted to any one country. It will be under- taken by five administrators, each in charge of a separate zone. According to the present arrangements these administrators will be a Swedish, a Norwegian, a Finnish, a Latvian and a Netherlands subject respectively. They are responsible to a "Chief Administrator" who is in charge of the whole frontier. The officer appointed for this post is Colonel Lunn, a Danish subject.

I am told that the subcommittee is to meet to-morrow and that the scheme will be in full operation early next week.

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any communication from the Spanish Government as to the landing of Italian combatants in substantial numbers at Cadiz on or about 24th March; and, if so, whether he has made, or is making, inquiries as to the facts of the case?

Yes, Sir. A Note has now been received from the Spanish Ambassador in which it is stated that the Embassy have received confirmation of the disembarkation at Cadiz on 23rd, 24th and 25th March of 10,000 Italians. I am making inquiries into the statements contained in this Note.

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House of the result of his inquiries?

Yes, Sir. They all go to show that I would like next week's scheme this week, if I could get it.

Would not this be a gross breach of the undertakings given by the Italian Government?

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that His Majesty's Government have not accorded belligerent rights to the rebel forces in Spain, instructions have been or will be given to provide adequate protection for British ships to carry on their legitimate trade in delivering non-contraband goods to Spanish ports?

Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to await the Debate this afternoon.

Italy And Jugoslavia

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent Agreement made between Italy and Jugoslavia?

I do not think I could properly undertake to make a statement on an agreement to which His Majesty's Government are not party.

Is this Treaty in any way adverse, in the view of the Foreign Secretary, to the Mediterranean policy of His Majesty's Government?

All I can say is that all agreements, in so far as they are designed to further amicable relations, are naturally welcomed.

Is this Agreement in any way inimical to the Anglo-Italian Declaration of 2nd January?

Has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that this Agreement will not affect adversely our trade relations with the two countries?

China (Smuggling)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the statement of Sir Frederick Maze, the inspector-general of the Chinese maritime customs, to the National Government, giving instances of armed smuggling in North China, especially in Tientsin and Tsingtao; and, seeing that these practices are a contravention of the Sino-Japanese treaty of 1896 as well as of the Tariff Autonomy Agreement of 1930, in view of the importance of this matter to British exports, will he make representations to all the Powers interested?

I have not seen the statement in question, unless it is the statement reported in the Press in January and referred to in the reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Moreing) on 8th February. The facts are well known and, as I have previously stated, representations in regard to the matter have been made to the Japanese Government by His Majesty's Government and by at least one other Government. A recent report gives ground for thinking that the situation generally is improving, but I will consider whether there is any further action that can usefully be taken.

The Coronation

16.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether any of His Majesty's ships will visit North-east coast ports during the Coronation celebrations?

The answer is in the negative. The Home Fleet, with the exception of a few destroyers which will be visiting Harwich, Dover and Southampton, will be at Southend and in the Thames from 7th to 13th May. As the Home Fleet is proceeding to Spithead for the Coronation Review immediately after this visit, I am afraid that it is impossible to arrange for visits to more distant ports at this period.

Royal Navy

Torpedo Factory Workers (Scotland)

17.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that men at present serving in the Royal Naval torpedo factory, Greenock, who have volunteered, and have been accepted, for service in the Royal Naval torpedo works at Alexandria, have been unable to get housing accommodation at Alexandria, and whether he will forthwith proceed with the erection of houses at or near Alexandria for torpedo workers, as was formerly done by the Admiralty at Greenock, or take other steps to relieve these workers of the inconvenience and expense of travelling between Greenock and Alexandria?

With regard to the first part of the question, I have ascertained that of the 10 men transferred for service reasons from Greenock to Alexandria, nine have obtained houses in that locality. In answer to the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 17th February by my right hon. Friend. The erection of houses at Greenock at Admiralty expense during the War was an exceptional measure, taken at a time when municipalities had not the facilities for undertaking housing schemes which they now possess.

Cruisers (6-Inch Guns)

18.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the total number of British, United States of America, Japanese, French, Italian, and German cruisers, respectively, built and building, each of which carries more than six 6-inch guns?

20.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state, separately, the total number of British, United States of America, Japanese, French, Italian, and German cruisers, built and building, each of which carries not more than six 6-inch guns?

As regards the foreign cruisers, I am unable to add anything to the information contained in the Command Paper "Fleets"; and as regards our own, it would be undesirable to give any additional details.

Would the Noble Lord indicate whether the "Dido" class of cruiser is built with any specific purpose or objective, in view of the fact that other nations are not building cruisers with so small a proportion of guns?

My hon. Friend will, of course, realise that we do not necessarily build ships to follow the example of other countries; we build them for our own needs. Cruisers of this kind will have a very useful purpose.

Does the Noble Lord not think that the Germans and Italians know all that is going on in this country just as we know what is going on in Germany and Italy?

Is it worth while putting these guns into British ships, if they are not allowed to fire them?

Will the Noble Lord appeal to his hon. Friends to have regard to the national interests before putting questions of this kind?

19.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in order to allay public anxiety, he will make a statement in regard to the striking power and effectiveness of the "Dido" class of cruisers in relation to the gun-power, armour, and range of the cruisers at present built or building by the principal naval Powers?

The Admiralty are satisfied that the cruisers of the "Dido" class will prove a valuable and effective addition to the Fleet. I must not, however, be drawn into a premature disclosure of their design and armament.

Dockyard Dismissals

21.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the terms of the notice sent to other Government Departments informing them of the circumstances of the dismissal of the five men from the dockyards in case those men might apply for entry into other Government industrial establishments?

No, Sir. I think the hon. Member will agree that it is quite inadvisable to publish confidential communications between one Government Department and another.

In view of the fact that these communications condemn these men to become more or less permanent recipients of public assistance, does the Noble Lord not think they ought to know the contents of the message?

The hon. Member is quite wrong in saying that these communications condemn these men before all employers.

Are private employers likely to employ men who have been prohibited from being engaged in any Government establishment?

Palestine

Royal Commission's Report

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now state the date of publication of the Palestine report?

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that this House will have an opportunity of considering the Report of the Royal Commission on Palestine before a Government decision is reached on the matter?

Until the Report of the Royal Commission on Palestine is received I can make no statement.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the report will be communicated to Members of the House before it is sent to any persons outside?

I hope the Prime Minister will not neglect to let the League of Nations know.

Citrus Industry

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the damage done to the Palestine citrus industry during the recent season as a result of the bad conditions under which the fruit was shipped from Palestine to Great Britain; and whether he proposes to take any steps to prevent a repetition of this damage in future seasons?

I am aware that some of the Palestine fruit has, unfortunately, arrived in this country during the present season in a very bad state. I am advised that, in so far as such wastage is abnormal this year, it is probably due to the exceptionally heavy rains during the harvest. The Palestine Government are at present considering a plan of research to discover the causes of the smaller amount of wastage that normally occurs. Meanwhile it would be wrong to assume that the conditions on shipboard are solely responsible.

Crime

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any information as to the murder of Mrs. Engelhardt, near Petach Tikrah; and what steps are being taken to protect life and stock in Palestine?

I have no official information regarding this murder, but I am asking the High Commissioner for a report. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply which was given on 6th April to the Member for Wolverhampton, East (Mr. Mander). No murders or attempted murders have been reported between 18th March and 11th April, when I regret to learn that not only the crime referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, but also armed attacks on several Arabs took place.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman get reports of these murders that take place? Why is it that he never has any information?

Is the right hon. Gentleman taking any steps to enforce law and order in Palestine; and has he still complete confidence in the High Commissioner?

I am not in Palestine. I am not taking any steps, but, as I have explained in answer to the question, a great many steps have been taken.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is responsible for law and order? May I ask what steps are being taken?

Tanganyika (Nutrition)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make any statement as to the Departmental Committee in Tanganyika on the subject of human nutrition in that territory; and whether that committee will take into consideration the memorandum by the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, pointing out the need of combining medical and anthropological inquiry in respect of nutrition problems?

As the result of the circular despatch published in 1936 as Colonial No. 121, a Departmental Committee has been set up in Tanganyika as in many other parts of the Colonial Empire to study questions relating to human nutrition. Copies of the memorandum to which the hon. Member refers have already been sent to all African Governments, and I have no doubt that the desirability of combining medical and anthropological inquiry will be given full weight by the committee.

Is there actual guidance in the despatch referred to that inquiry should follow those lines?

Yes. This despatch suggests certain lines, and, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows, a special committee of the Civil and Research Organisation here are receiving replies as they come in from the various Dependencies.

Federated Malay States (Workers' Organisations)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the recent strikes in Selangor and Negri Sembilan, it is intended to permit the coolies on the rubber plantations and the mine workers in the Federated Malay States to organise in trades unions; and whether, as the agitators arrested by the police in Selangor were trying to organise such trade unions and as strikes are in fact legal in Selangor, he will state by what authority in the past organisers of strikes have been banished from Selangor by the British Resident under the provisions of the Banishment Enactment?

The association of labourers in trade unions in the Federated Malay States is, and has for many years been, permitted. Unions and guilds of labourers can be, and are, established by registration under the Societies Enactment. As regards the second part of the question, I am not aware of any cases of expulsion simply in respect of the organisation of strikes, but there have been cases in which expulsion has been ordered where industrial disputes have been misused for the purpose of incitement to violence and disorder.

British Honduras

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the purpose of the exchange of land which has recently taken place in British Honduras between the Government and the Belize Estates and Produce Company; and whether he is satisfied that this exchange was in the public interest?

The purpose of this transaction is to settle a long-standing dispute between the Government of British Honduras and the Belize Estate and Produce Company, Limited, as to the ownership of certain lands on the western frontier of the Colony. I am satisfied that this settlement is in the public interest.

Is it true that the land received by the Government has been completely denuded of saleable trees?

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the amount proposed to be spent during the coming year in British Honduras on building houses for officials and on paying their passages when on leave?

The only sum provided in the Estimates of British Honduras, 1937, for building houses for officials is $1,500 for quarters for a police sergeant. Proposals for constructing quarters for five senior officials at a total cost of $57,000 are under consideration in the Colony, but no decision has been reached. No "leave passages" are provided from public funds in British Honduras.

Trinidad And Tobago

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is prepared to recommend the grant of a new and enlarged constitution to the important colony of Trinidad and Tobago, in view of the new constitution granted to the lesser West Indian islands?

I have not received any serious demand for a revision of the existing constitution, and in the circumstances I am of the opinion that consideration of the matter would be premature.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to give an undertaking that if the application is made he would regard it in a friendly fashion?

I would rather see what proposal is made and from whom it comes. I understand that the majority of the people in Trinidad are very well satisfied with their present Government.

Colonial Dependencies (Native Labour)

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any steps are being taken to bring the recruiting of labourers in British Dependencies in Africa into line with the provision of the International Labour Office Recruiting Convention of 1936, especially as regards the payment by the employer of the expenses of the worker's journey to and from the place of his employment and the protection of the workers on this journey?

I am still in communication with the Governments of the Colonial Dependencies on this matter. I am hoping that it will be found possible for the Convention to be applied without modification to all the Dependencies for which I am responsible.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has instituted any inquiries into the question of contract labour in connection with indigenous workers in mines and other industries in preparation for the International Labour Conference of 1938?

The Governments of the Colonial Dependencies are already in possession of the recommendations of the Committee of Experts on Native Labour of the International Labour Office on this question, and I intend to communicate with them again as soon as the report on the subject, which is now being prepared by the International Labour Office for consideration at the International Labour Conference in 1938, is available.

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether the provisional agreement between the Governments of Nyasaland and Northern and Southern Rhodesia would preclude any possibility of recruiting natives in any of those territories for work in the Union of South Africa; and whether he will take steps to secure that it shall be open to natives of Nyasaland, if they desire it, to be recruited for work in the Union, where wages are higher?

The agreement does not preclude recruitment of natives for work in the Union, but it provides that any proposal for such recruitment shall form the subject of prior consultation between the Governments of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Hitherto, organised recruitment of Nyasaland natives for work outside Nyasaland has been prohibited, but the question whether it is desirable to permit such recruitment on a limited scale for the Rand is receiving careful consideration, and a small experimental recruitment has been sanctioned.

Broadcasting (Empire Service)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what manner the Colonial and/or Protectorate Governments assist financially towards the cost of broadcasting to the British Colonies and Protectorates, and what broadcasting services for Europe are at present being operated in their respective territories?

With regard to the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Postmaster-General to the question by the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Viant) on 12th April. With regard to the latter part of the question, no broadcast services designed for reception in Europe are operated in the Colonial Dependencies.

Are any negotiations going on for the purpose of increasing the contribution?

Cuba (British Subjects, Repatriation)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many British subjects have been repatriated from Cuba to the various West Indian islands; and what steps have been taken to ensure them a livelihood in these islands?

As the reply to this question contains detailed figures, and is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. But I may say that the total number repatriated from Cuba to British West Indian islands in the last two and a quarter years is 458 persons.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give me the answer to the second part of my question, which will not be in tabular form?

As regards the second part of the question, the Government of Jamaica has under consideration proposals for various schemes of public works which should provide employment for local labour. The Governor of Barbados reported in June, 1936, that there was not a great deal of employment in the Colony, and that various schemes of public expenditure, e.g., on waterworks and roads, provided work for a large proportion of the labour which was not engaged in agriculture.

Following are the figures:

Number of repatriations of British West Indians from Cuba since 1st January, 1935:

In 1935.
To Jamaica218
To Barbados3
To other Islands2
223
In 1936.
To Jamaica155
To Barbados10
To other Islands8
173
In 1937 (to 12th April).
To Jamaica28
To Barbados32
To other Islands2
62
Total458

Aviation

School Aeroplanes

40.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider, along with the President of the Board of Education, the provision of school aeroplanes at convenient places for the encouragement of civil aviation among the rising generation?

It has been found possible to present obsolete airframes and engines for instructional use on the ground to schools.

Does that mean that any education authority that desires to take advantage of these aeroplanes for tuition purposes will be able to do so, with the assistance of officers of the Air Department?

Yes, I think so, if they apply and if they have suitable premises and machines are available.

Air Liner "Capricornus"

41.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what weather reports were given to the "Capricornus" from the French meteorological stations as to the conditions around Macon on 24th March; and whether any warning was given as to the possibility of ice-forming conditions?

As this accident is at present under investigation by the French authorities, no official information regarding the weather reports given by French meteorological stations is as yet in my possession. As regards the last part of the question, however, the weather forecast supplied to the pilot before he left England indicated that conditions favourable for ice formation might be met with up to 5,000 feet between Macon and Marseilles.

In view of the fact that the inquiry is being held by the French authorities, have we in this country the power to cross-examine the French witnesses; and will the evidence and conclusions of the French inquiry be published in this country in the same way as in the case of a British inquiry?

As my hon. and gallant Friend says, the investigation is being carried out by the French authorities. I hope it will be possible to publish the conclusions of the report, but we shall have to get the permission of the French Government to do so.

No; the investigation is being carried out by the French authorities.

Imperial Airways (De-Icing Apparatus)

42.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that two large air-liners belonging to Imperial Airways have been lost in Europe during the last month, and that neither of these machines was fitted with de-icing apparatus in spite of the fact that the weather reports indicated snow or sleet; and whether this company proposes to run its European services next winter with machines still not equipped with deicing devices?

As regards the first part of the question, the facts are as stated, but pending the conclusion of the investigations it is not established that if there had been de-icing equipment on the aircraft they would not have been lost. As regards the last part, I can only say at the moment that the closest possible attention is being given both by Imperial Airways and by the Department to the two outstanding problems of ice formation on the wings and on the air-screw.

Do Imperial Airways propose to run their European services next winter with machines not equipped with de-icers?

I hope that the experiments that are now being conducted will result in a suitable device.

Is the right hon. Baronet aware that the other line, British Airways, has machines which are equipped with de-icers?

Is there any difficulty in making the equipment of so-called ice-breaking contrivances compulsory upon all aircraft when time and circumstances so warrant?

I should like to explain that there are a great many parts of an aeroplane which have to be protected against ice. The most important is the engine, and, as far as that is concerned, we have satisfactory protection.

Trans-Canada Route

43.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps have been taken by the Air Ministry to ensure that the proposed Trans-Canada air route is equipped with British machines?

The organisation of this service is a matter for His Majesty's Government in the Dominion of Canada.

Blind Flying And Homing

44.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the Air Ministry has made any investigations in the latest methods of blind flying and homing now installed at the airports of Dubendorf, Zurich, and Tempelhof, Berlin, with a view to their adoption on Imperial Airways routes; and what has been the result of such investigations?

I am advised that the apparatus installed at the airports named is similar to that with which Croydon, Heston and Gatwick are now equipped. The question of the installation of this equipment at other airports on the Imperial routes is under consideration, but except at Newfoundland it does not necessarily appear that its employment will be required in the meteorological conditions obtaining outside Europe.

Airport, Lullingstone

51.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether any decision has yet been reached regarding the establishment of an airport at Lulling-stone, Kent, for the use of Imperial Airways, Limited?

While the Air Ministry welcome the proposal to create additional aerodrome facilities within reasonable distance of London and have given and will give all such technical advice as may be desired by the Southern Railway in connection with the development of the site at Lullingstone in accordance with the plans which are being prepared by the railway's own technical advisers, any decision in regard to the establishment of the Airport will be one to be taken by the Southern Railway and will not rest with the Air Ministry. It is understood that the railway are proceeding with the project. As regards the possible use of the Airport by Imperial Airways, there is nothing that I could add to the information which I gave my hon. and learned Friend on 24th March last.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether this aerodrome will be for the use of Imperial Airways exclusively or for the use of general air traffic?

Does the right hon. Baronet consider that it would be right or not that, if an air port is established in this district, it should be utilised exclusively for one firm, namely, Imperial Airways? Does he not think that, as a matter of policy, it should be available for general use by all air traffic?

Aircraft Workers (Fair Wages Clause)

52.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he can make a statement relative to the correspondence with the National Council of Aircraft Workers with reference to the alleged non-operation of the Fair Wages Clause at the firm of Airscrew, Limited; and what action does he propose to take?

I have examined carefully the correspondence forwarded to me by the National Council of Aircraft Workers and the statements made by that organisation and I cannot see that there is any evidence that the terms of the Fair Wages Clause are not being complied with by the Airscrew Company, Limited. I am making further inquiries, however, with regard to certain statements which appear in the correspondence.

Development (Committee's Recommendations)

53.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the Air Ministry have given consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of the committee that considered the development of civil aviation in the United Kingdom; and what action is being taken at present?

Consideration has been given to the conclusions and recommendations of the committee and, as stated by my Noble Friend in the Memorandum accompanying Air Estimates, the Government have approved those recommendations which call for action on their part. The necessary steps to put these recommendations into force are at present under active consideration in the Air Ministry.

State Aid

54.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he will indicate the amounts of State aid and/or subsidies paid towards civil aviation for the most recent year by foreign countries for which figures are available?

As a table of figures is involved, I am circulating the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is it the policy of the Air Ministry at any time in the near future to encourage the promotion of British internal air lines by granting some State subvention? Has anything been done since the publication of the Maybury Report to give effect to any proposals for the promotion of home air lines?

Following is the reply:

Amounts of the air transport subsidies for the last year for which information is available and also of the civil aviation votes (including the subsidies) as a whole, since the latter figures may be regarded broadly as representing State aid to civil aviation. In each case the local currency has, for convenience, been converted to sterling at par rates of exchange.

Air transport subsidy.Total civil aviation vote.
££
Belgium84,857126,933
Czechoslovakia114,546283,125
Denmark13,77461,139
Finland16,48817,782
France1,195,5321,413,851
Germany962,120Not available
Greece43,49672,268
Italy765,736803,400
Netherlands45,23599,281
Poland136,007390,433
Rumania4,91624,770
Sweden45,24064,375
Switzerland18,63629,956
Yugoslavia26,40441,069
U.S.A2,511,330*5,371,625
Netherlands East Indies.33,03148,256
Japan213,853666,845

* Air Mail loss.

Empire Flying Boats (Windows)

55.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the windows of the Empire flying boats are of such a size that in case of emergency it would not be possible for passengers to escape thereby; and whether he will consider the advisability of issuing instructions that whenever possible windows of all passenger aeroplanes should be sufficiently large to allow passengers to escape through them?

The windows of the Empire boats are specially constructed to withstand buffeting from the sea in heavy weather, and consequently are not intended for use as emergency exits. Adequate emergency exits are, however, provided from all passenger compartments of these boats, and the dimensions of all these exits are larger than the minimum considered necessary for safety.

Is it not a fact that the emergency exits are in the roof and, if the machine is on its back, incapable of use?

Will the right hon. Baronet see that these emergency exits are not sufficiently large to enable certain people to commit spectacular suicide?

South American Service

56.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether the Inter-Departmental Committee on International Air Communications has considered the question of the establishment of a British air service to South America; and whether any decision has been reached in the matter?

Yes, Sir. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence intimated on 22nd March last, His Majesty's Government have decided, subject to satisfactory terms being agreed, to select British Airways Limited to operate an experimental service to West Africa and to act as the chosen instrument of the Government for the development of any future subsidised South American service.

Maybury Committee (Recommendations)

59.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what legislation will be necessary in order to carry into effect the recommendations of the Maybury Committee; and how far can the recommendations be carried into effect without Parliamentary action?

As regards the first part of the question, so far as can be seen no legislation will be necessary. As regards the second part, further Parliamentary action will be required in regard to a draft Order for the licensing of air transport and commercial flying which will be laid before both Houses in due course in accordance with Section 5 of the Air Navigation Act, 1936.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon this matter will be brought before the House?

These recommendations were only approved in March of this year. I cannot say exactly when they will be brought before the House.

Aerodrome, North London

60.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps have been taken to discover and secure a suitable site for a standard aerodrome to the north of London, as recommended by the Maybury Committee?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Everard) on 24th March last.

Defence

Armament Orders (Germany)

47.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether any orders have been given during the past three years by the German Government or German private firms to firms in this country for the supply of machines or material to Germany in connection with German re-armament?

I regret that I have no information on this matter.

Did not the Minister last week in reply to a question state that the British Government had bought £169,000 worth of machines and material from German firms in 1936 for British armament purposes, and did he not consider it derogatory to this country to be obtaining supplies for British re-armament from Germany?

The hon. Member's question refers to orders given to private firms in this country. As to that I have no information.

Joists And Bars (Prices)

49.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether he has made any further inquiries into the published statements affirming that the price of MS joists has risen during the past year from £4 12s. 6d. to £9 12s. 6d. and MS bars from £4 17s. 6d. to £10?

Yes, Sir. I am informed that the prices referred to are f.o.b. Antwerp, and only prices for shipment to the East. They do not apply to British material or to sales in this country.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the circular in question, which was issued by William Jackson and Company, is being sent out to firms in this country?

I have no information to that effect, but I will accept it from the right hon. Gentleman.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the circular in question, and has he communicated with William Jackson and Company as to the undesirability of issuing statements which might be misinterpreted?

I will consider the suggestion, but I would point out that the word "nominal" appears, which indicates that the quotations are not very important.

Having regard to the fact that figures are published which are found to be incorrect, will the right hon. Gentleman suggest to the Iron and Steel Federation the desirability of having authentic figures published from time to time?

I will consider that suggestion, but I do not think there is any doubt at all as to the prices of iron and steel issued by the Iron and Steel Federation.

Aircraft Manufacture (Profits)

58.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he can give the House the standard of profit laid down for the manufacture of aircraft?

I would refer the hon. Member to the replies which were given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence on Wednesday last to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander).

Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that when the Estimates were under discussion I asked this question and he said that he would be pleased to give me the information. What has happened since then?

All the information possible has been given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the information could not be given. What is the reason for this difference of view?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no information at all has been given?

Food Supplies

67.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what minimum number of days' supply of wheat and flour the Government intend to work up in order to allay the alarm in the public mind owing to the present inadequate reserve of supplies?

I am not at present in a position to make any statement with regard to the question of storing additional quantities of wheat and flour. I would, however, point out in connection with certain statements that have recently appeared in the Press, that according to my information, stocks of wheat and flour in this country are being maintained at the normal level of at least three months' supply.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread disquiet in the country owing to the feeling that there is not sufficient supply available in case of emergency?

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that there is a plentiful supply of oats as well as wheat? Oats in Scotland are good for men and in England for horses.

48.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, in view of the present condition of the agricultural industry and the uncertainties of the future, when he will be in a position to make a statement to the House regarding the Government's plans to protect the food supplies of this country in war-time?

I am not at present in a position to say when a further statement may be made as to the Government's plans for protecting food supplies in war time.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what his opinion is as to the condition of the agricultural industry at this moment?

Agriculture

75.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in addition to the Government's policy of spending money on the Navy, Army, and Air Force as the lines of defence for this country, he can assure the House of Commons that agriculture has not been overlooked, since this expenditure may be valueless if agriculture be neglected?

I have been asked to reply. I can assure my hon. Friend that every aspect of home agriculture is being considered in connection with this question.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the absolute hopelessness which is eating into the heart of the countryside owing to the failure of the Government to support agriculture?

Has the Minister noticed any new indication of a desire on the part of any of the services to place more business with the home agriculturists?

I am asked in the question on the Order Paper whether I can assure the House that agriculture has not been overlooked. I can give that assurance.

Singapore (Fortification)

50.

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence what is the total cost to date of the fortification at Singapore; and how much of that amount was contributed by the respective Dominions?

Dominion, Colonial and other contributions are as follow:—

£
New Zealand1,000,000
Federated Malay States2,000,000
Hong Kong250,000
H.H. Sultan and State of Johore500,000
Total£3,750,000

In addition the Government of Straits Settlements have provided over 3,000 acres of land.

Royal Air Force (Equipment Depot, Cumberland)

57.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air in what part of Cumberland the proposed Air Force Equipment Depot will be situated; what labour will be employed this year upon its preparation; and what number of employés he expects will be regularly employed when it is established?

The new Royal Air Force Equipment Depot which is being established in Cumberland will be situated in the vicinity of Carlisle. It is expected that some 15o men will be employed upon its construction in about two months' time and probably as many as 500 in six months. So far as can be foreseen at present, it is expected that the depot will employ about 1,400 men when it is fully established.

Transport

Railway Accidents

62.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he proposes to publish complete reports of the inquiries into the recent rail accidents?

Toll-Free Bridge, Selby

65.

asked the Minister of Transport when work will be commenced upon the new toll-free bridge over the River Ouse at Selby?

Motor Car Driving Licences

66.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the fact that a person driving a motor car after the expiration of a licence lays himself liable to an offence under Section 4 (1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, he will consider introducing legislation or making regulations to the effect that all driving licences should expire on 31st December each year?

This requirement would create congestion in licensing offices. I have arranged for reminders to be sent to holders of expiring driving licences.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there will be any great difficulty seeing what is done with regard to renewing Inland Revenue licences?

Is it not a fact that more than 3,000,000 Inland Revenue licences have to be issued on the same day?

Police Traffic Patrols

77.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many policemen have been engaged as traffic patrols during each of the past five years; how many prosecutions for motoring offences have taken place and how many convictions; and what is the yearly cost of the maintenance of this organisation?

The motor patrols form part of the strengths of the various police forces, and it would not be possible to give the particulars asked for with regard to their strength and cost for the country generally without much detailed inquiry and analysis. Figures of prosecutions and convictions are available in the Returns of offences relating to motor vehicles presented annually to this House. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the strength of the Metropolitan police motor patrols, and of the numbers of prosecutions and convictions in the Metropolitan police district.

May I have a reply to the last part of the question? Can that information be given?

Following is the statement:

Strength of Metropolitan Police Traffic Patrols.

1933522 (including 33 Serjeants and 485 Constables).
1934522 (including 33 Serjeants and 485 Constables).
1935526 (including 33 Serjeants and 489 Constables).
1936560 (including 37 Serjeants 519 Constables).
1937686 (including 63 Serjeants and 613 Constables).

Prosecutions and Convictions for Motoring Offences in the Metropolitan Police District.
Year.Total Prosecutions (Charges and Summonses).Total Convictions.
193244,24937,152
193353,18846,055
193480,43768,585
1935118,410101,051
1936140,692121,639

Post Office, Llanelly

69.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has considered the representations from the Llanelly Borough Council complaining of the delay in proceeding with extensions and improvements of the Llanelly post office; and, in view of these complaints, what steps he proposes to take to expedite the carrying out of the improvements promised by his Department as far back as two years ago?

The representations of the Llanelly Borough Council have been considered, and the reason why more rapid progress with the extension of the Llanelly post office has not been possible has been fully explained to that body. I have already assured the hon. Member that every effort is being made to expedite matters, and I am satisfied that that is so.

House Of Commons (Postal Correspondence)

70.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has any figures showing how the volume of correspondence passing through the House of Commons post office has changed during the past 20 years; whether it has been necessary to increase the staff during this period; and, if so, to what extent?

I am sorry that the statistics asked for by my hon. Friend are not available. The number of staff has shown little change in recent years as temporary assistance is readily obtainable from the South Western District Post Office when necessary.

Town And Country Planning Act, 1932 (Appeals)

73.

asked the Minister of Health how many appeals he has received from local authorities in connection with the erection of new dwelling-houses, and how many he has upheld?

I understand that my hon. Friend wishes to know the number of appeals made under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, against the refusal of local authorities to permit development. The total number of appeals during the years 1933 to 1936 was 2,087. In 600 of these the local authority was upheld, and in 346 the appellant was successful. The remainder were either withdrawn or settled by agreement.

Straits Convention

74.