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Commons Chamber

Volume 326: debated on Monday 26 July 1937

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House Of Commons

Monday, 26th July, 1937.

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

Private Business

Southampton Corporation Bill,

Staffordshire Potteries Water Board Bill,

Watford Corporation Bill,

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Liverpool United Hospital Bill [Lords],

Read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Bristol Transport Bill [Lords],

As amended, considered:

Ordered, That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.— [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Canvey Island Urban District Council Bill [Lords],

As amended, considered:

Ordered, That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.— [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Dartford Tunnel Bill [Lords],

As amended, considered; Amendments made:

Ordered, That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.— [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Saint Paul's and Saint James' Churches (Sheffield) Bill [Lords],

As amended, considered:

Ordered, That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the Third time.— [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.

East India (Budget)

Address for

"Return of the Budget of the Governor-General of India in Council for 1937–38."—[Earl Winterton.]

Colonial Stock Acts, 1877 To 1934

Copy ordered

"of Treasury List of Stocks in respect of which the provisions of the Colonial Stock Act, 1900, are for the time being complied with."—[Lieut.-Colonel Colville.]

Aliens (Naturalisation)

Address for

"Return showing (i) Particulars of all Miens to whom certificates of naturalisation have been issued and whose oaths of allegiance have, during the year ended the 31st day of December, 1936, been registered at the Home Office; (2) Information as to any Miens who have, during the same period, obtained Acts of Naturalisation from the legislature; and (3) Particulars of cases in which certificates of naturalisation have been revoked during the same period (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 160, of Session 1935–36)."—[Mr. Lloyd.]

Oral Answers To Questions

India (High Court Judges)

1.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the number of vakils who are at present serving in India as High Court judges?

I regret that I am unable to give the number of High Court judges who were vakils at the time of appointment, but the number of judges of the Chartered High Courts who, prior to their appointment, were not banisters or members of the Indian Civil Service, is 24.

The hon. Member will have to put a question down if he wants to know what their duties are. He asked me only the actual numbers.

Spain

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that petrol, which is a Government monopoly in France intended for national defence, has been sent by order across to Spain free of duty for purposes of the war; and whether he will bring the matter to the attention of the Non-Intervention Committee?

As the House is aware, petrol is not one of the goods prohibited to be exported to Spain under the Non-Intervention Agreement. No reports are, therefore, received by the board regarding consignments of petrol crossing the frontier from France.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a question was put in the French Chamber and received no answer?

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to a book issued by the Press department of the Spanish Embassy in London entitled "The Spanish Peoples' Fight for Liberty;" and whether he will make representations against this breach of ambassadorial etiquette in issuing propaganda?

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government do not however, consider that the contents of this book are such as to call for representations to the Spanish Government.

Will my right hon. Friend state what would be the probable attitude of the Soviet Government if His Majesty's Minister engaged in similar activities?

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has information as to the total number of aeroplanes and tanks engaged during the civil war on the side of the various Governments which are opposed to General Franco in Spain; and what were their countries of origin?

I am not in a position to give an authoritative estimate of the total quantities involved. Such information as is in my possession tends, however, to show that such material has been supplied both from European and non-European sources in considerable quantities.

Is it not the case that all the aeroplanes in the hands of the Spanish Government belong to the Spanish Government, while the German aeroplanes belong to Germany?

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the illegal action of the Valencia Government in transferring the gold of Spain to a foreign country, he will consider the desirability of inviting the League of Nations to become trustees of this gold and to hold it in trust for the Spanish people until such time as the civil war is ended and a Government responsible for all Spaniards can restore this gold to its rightful owners, the inhabitants of that country?

I do not think that any useful result would be obtained by making the proposal which my hon. and gallant Friend suggests.

Is it not almost inevitable that difficulties will arise if British ships are purchased by this gold illegally taken from Spain?

Was it really an illegal action, and cannot the Spanish Government send their gold where they like?

It is an extremely complicated question. All I would say at the moment is that it does not seem to me that my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion is a practicable one.

If there is any question of the ownership of the gold, surely it is not a matter for the right hon. Gentleman to decide, but is a matter for the courts?

Has the right hon. Gentleman any ground for thinking that the statement in the question that this was an illegal removal is justified?

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any complaint has been received from owners or masters of British merchant ships captured by Spanish naval forces as to the method of capture or as to the treatment of ships' companies after capture?

I have been asked to reply. No such complaints have been received.

In view of my right hon. and gallant Friend's answer, may I ask whether he considers that the rules of the sea have been observed and that any suggestions to the contrary arc exaggerated and hysterical?

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman received any message of thanks from the captain of the "MacGregor," which was fired on seven times while the British Navy stood by?

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement concerning the deadlock reached in the proceedings of the Non-Intervention Committee on Tuesday last?

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make as to the progress of the British proposals to the Non-Intervention Committee?

In view of the difficulty experienced by the Non-Intervention Committee at its meeting on Tuesday last in reaching agreement on the order in which the various parts of the British proposals should be discussed, His Majesty's Government have felt that it might be more convenient for the Governments concerned to submit in writing their considered views on the principal points in these proposals. To this end they have drawn up a series of questions which have already been communicated to the countries represented on the Committee and which will be submitted by Lord Plymouth to the Chairman's Sub-Committee this afternoon. It is hoped that the Committee will agree to communicate these questions to the governments for their immediate consideration. The further attitude of His Majesty's Government will naturally be dependent on the nature of the replies received to these questions, for the receipt of which it is proposed that the Committee should fix a definite time limit.

Will His Majesty's Government guarantee to the House that they will in no way deviate from the terms submitted to the Non-Intervention Committee and that in no circumstances will belligerent rights be accorded before the withdrawal of foreign troops?

That is a very wide question, going far beyond the one on the Paper. So far as the position of the Government is concerned, naturally we stand by our proposals, and it is in an endeavour to hasten results that we are following this procedure.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the time allowed for the receipt of these answers will permit of their being considered before this House rises for the Summer Recess?

May I ask at what time the replies are likely to be considered, seeing that the House rises on Friday?

Naturally we want to act as quickly as we can, but it is not only we who are concerned.

Is it not clear from the number of Italian troops at present taking part in the fighting round Madrid that the Italian Government have no intention of withdrawing any of their troops as long as they think that Franco has a chance of being victorious?

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any further information to give the House regarding the Spanish guns emplaced opposite Gibraltar?

I have been asked to reply. If my hon. Friend will specify what further information he requires, my right hon. Friend will readily consider his request.

Would it be contrary to the public interest to state where they come from? Do His Majesty's Government know the country of origin of these guns?

I am not prepared to answer a question on a specific point of that kind unless it is put on the Paper.

May I ask the Foreign Secretary when he expects a reply to the questions he kindly forwarded to our agents in Southern Spain, as to the German guns, in the early part of last week?

It has been on the Order Paper two days, and the right hon. Gentleman kindly offered to get me an answer.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that he is going to bluff the House in this way?

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that General Franco has alleged that guns of British manufacture have been discovered at Bilbao; and whether His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye has been or will be instructed to inform General Franco that no guns or other armaments have been supplied by this country to the Spanish Government since the outbreak of the civil war?

Yes, Sir. It was recently brought to the notice of His Majesty's Government that there existed a widespread belief in the territory under the control of General Franco, as well as elsewhere, that guns of recent British manufacture were captured from the Basques at Bilbao. Instructions were accordingly sent to His Majesty's Ambassador at Hendaye to inform General Franco's Government categorically that no war material had been exported under licence from this country to Spain, either directly or indirectly, since the civil war began. Sir Henry Chilton at the same time informed General Franco's Government that, if they were able to give markings or dates of any British guns found in Bilbao which appeared to have been manufactured since the civil war began, His Majesty's Government would be very willing to endeavour to ascertain how they could have reached Spain.

Is not this a type of propaganda which has extended even to uninformed Members on the other side of the House?

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the murder by Spanish Government militia of an English woman named Miss Boland, in Barcelona, on r6th June; and what steps he is taking to have these soldiers brought to justice?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statement which I made in the House on this subject on 5th July.

In view of the fact that everyone in the house was murdered, including a woman who was expecting to be confined in three weeks, and of the further fact that the same kind of thing was going on in other houses, is it not clear that either the whole thing was deliberate or that the so-called Government of Spain is no government at all?

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in view of the fact that there are nine British consular posts at present open in territory held by the Valencia Government and 14 in the territory held by General Franco, and that it is part of the regular duties of all these consular officers to report promptly on events of interest to His Majesty's Government occurring within their consular districts, he can give comparative figures of the number of political murders and other atrocities committed in each area?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statement on this subject which my Noble Friend made on 13th July.

Is it not clear from these reports that not only were the greater number of outrages committed on the side of the so-called Spanish Government but that they were the original ones, and that anything done by General Franco has been retaliation?

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the evacuation of refugees is, in the view of His Majesty's Government, a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement in Spain?

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the policy of His Majesty's Government in the matter of evacuating women and children from Spain is regarded by the Government purely as humanitarian action or as implying some degree of military assistance?

The degree in which the removal of refugees from a besieged or blockaded place might or might not affect the military situation must depend upon the circumstances of the particular case. His Majesty's Government who, in the evacuation of women and children from Spain during the existing conflict, have acted throughout from purely humanitarian motives, do not consider that the evacuation of civilians from Spain which they have effected or assisted is a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement or inconsistent with the policy of nonintervention which they have adopted.

In view of the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty on Thursday, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement for our ships to protect a refugee ship when fired at by the enemy?

I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that my answer covers the supplementary question which he has asked, and that I made it definite that the action we have taken, in our view, is not a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement.

Is it not the case that the First Lord definitely stated that in his opinion any kind of evacuation of women and children from a besieged town was a form of assistance, and may we be assured that His Majesty's Government do not share that view?

I read with care the speech of my right hon. Friend, and I did not so interpret it. I have said that the action which we have taken is not a breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement.

While it may not be a contravention of the Non-Intervention Agreement, is it not a fact that it is of direct assistance to those in command of a beleaguered city that there should be an evacuation of refugees?

Has the right hon. Gentleman received any requests that these children should also be evacuated from South Wales?

With regard to the refugees in Santander, is it the desire of His Majesty's Government that they should be evacuated, and will the right hon. Gentleman give the same protection as was given at Bilbao?

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider suspending British assistance in the evacuation of Basque refugees until he is satisfied that the Basque Government has released all hostages and political prisoners in its hands or given to them the fullest possible opportunity of leaving Basque territory?

The Spanish Government have been informed that His Majesty's Government expect that, in return for the protection which is being offered to Spanish refugee ships proceeding from Santander, the political prisoners and hostages detained at that town will be released and allowed to make use of such evacuation facilities as may be available. do not consider that any further action in regard to this matter is called for at present, but I can assure my hon. Friend that His Majesty's Government will continue to take an active interest in the welfare of all non-combatants held as prisoners on political grounds by the contending parties in Spain.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider returning these refugees now?

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any reports from consular authorities at Flushing or Rotterdam as to the circumstances under which the steamship "Thorpehall" was recently not allowed by the Dutch authorities to clear for Bordeaux until the master had signed an undertaking not to enter Spanish waters, and officers of the ship were sent for and interrogated by Dutch police officials without the knowledge or assent of the master?

Yes, Sir. I have received reports of the incident referred to, but, according to my information, clearance was not refused to the ship. The Dutch authorities, I understand, were not prepared, however, to arrest and return to the ship certain members of the crew who had deserted and refused to return to Santander, unless the master gave an undertaking to call at Bordeaux. This he did, and the ship sailed on 16th July.

Is it not an unprecedented action for these police officers to send for the officers from the ship, and to interrogate them, without having the courtesy to ask permission of the master to do so, or permitting the master to be present at the interrogation?

The circumstances of this case were somewhat exceptional. I understand that the crew in this case were Spanish, and in view of the presence of General Franco they did not want to go back to Santander.

51.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the arduous and difficult duties that have been so effectively carried out by His Majesty's ships off the Spanish coast, the Board of Admiralty will grant all officers and men concerned extra leave on their return to this country?

Arrangements are made, as far as possible, for ships to be relieved after comparatively short spells of service in Spanish waters. In the circumstances, I think that the normal allowance of leave is adequate.

Is the Board of Admiralty quite satisfied with the way the Navy has performed its duties?

Is the satisfaction of the Admiralty proportionate to the efficiency of the assistance given by the commanders in question in carrying out General Franco's blockade?

That is going beyond what the hon. and gallant Gentleman raised in the question on the Paper.

52.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any statement to make regarding the firing by the "Amirante Cervera" on the steamship "MacGregor"?

According to the reports of one of His Majesty's ships which was in the vicinity the British steamship "MacGregor," with 1,500 refugees on board, on leaving Santander on Thursday afternoon, 22nd July, was ordered by the cruiser "Almirante Cervera," by signal, to stop. As the "MacGregor" took no notice, two warning shots were fired across her bows by the "Cervera" and shortly after one or two more warning shots were fired, all shots being well clear of the ship. As the "MacGregor" was outside territorial waters when the last warning shot was fired, the "Cervera" was requested to cease fire, and the "MacGregor" was taken under the protection of His Majesty's Ship "Kempenfelt." She proceeded without further interference. Signals were then exchanged between the Cervera" and the British Naval authorities in which the captain of the "Cervera" represented that the "MacGregor" in not obeying the order to stop had taken advantage of his humanitarian feelings, but that he was not taking further action. From the reports received from the British Naval authorities it quite clear that the shots fired by the "Amirante Cervera" were warning shots only, and that no attempt whatever was made to hit the steamship "MacGregor."

Will any representations be made to General Franco in view of the fact that warning shots were fired at this ship when she was outside territorial waters, and was in fact some seven miles from Moro Island?

The ship had just left territorial waters apparently, according to our information, when the last warning shot was fired and, in view of the fact that the ship was delving the authorities on the spot and taking great risks, I do not think any representations are called for with regard to the action of the "Almirante Cervera."

Was the "MacGregor," in fact, committing any illegal act during the time she was inside territorial waters?

53.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether in view of the attempt to sink the steamship "MacGregor," carrying 2,000 refugees, made by a Spanish cruiser on the high seas, the Cabinet will reconsider the present declared policy as to naval protection?

As will have been clear from the answer which I have just given to the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), I cannot accept the suggestion of the right hon. Member that an attempt was made to sink the steamship "MacGregor." According to my information, the shots fired by the "Almirante Cervera" were, as I have said, warning shots only, and no attempt whatever was made to hit the British vessel.

The question asks whether, in view of a certain fact, the Government will reconsider their policy, I have explained that the fact is not as the right hon. Gentleman proposes it, and there is no reason, therefore, why we should reconsider it.

China

China National Tea Corporation

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information about the formation of the China National Tea Corporation; what proportion of the capital of the corporation is owned by the national and by the provincial Governments in China; and whether he will represent to the Chinese Government that the establishment of a Government organisation for the production and marketing of tea in competition with private undertakings would be calculated to inflict serious injury upon important British interests of long standing?

I have seen a reference in the Press to this corporation. I will gladly give consideration to any representations that I may receive from British interests that may be affected, but so far none have reached me.

When my right hon. Friend makes further inquiry will he take due note of the fact that this syndicate pays 10 per cent. to itself before doing anything for the benet of the tea trade?

I have seen only Press reports on the matter, but I will gladly make inquiries.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any doubt that the Chinese Government have a right to do this?

Copyright Law

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken to prevent the unauthorised reprinting of British books in China to the detriment of British publishing firms?

I expect to receive shortly from His Majesty's Ambassador the report on this subject which my Noble Friend undertook to obtain in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair) on nth June.

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to try to secure a copy of the catalogue of the Youths' Bookstall, Shanghai, in which he will see hundreds of English books offered at a discount of 40 per cent.?

I am aware of the complaints there have been in this matter and that is why I asked for this report.

Trade And Commerce

Iron Ore (Spain)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any reports from His Majesty's representatives as to whether the shipments of iron ore from the British-owned mines in the Basque country are being despatched regularly?

I am unable at present to add anything to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) on 22nd June, but I expect to receive a full report on this subject shortly.

Has the right hon. Gentleman been informed that General Franco proposes to confiscate any of the shipments which he seizes?

Paris Exhibition (United Kingdom Pavilion, Exhibits)

28.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department why the three chief exhibits which the visitor sees on entering the British Pavilion of the International Exhibition in Paris are a large model of people hunting, another of people shooting, and a large picture of the Prime Minister fishing; and whether he is satisfied that this arrangement is either suitable or dignified?

I cannot accept the suggestion in the first part of the question that the three exhibits mentioned are the chief exhibits which the visitor sees on entering. Love of sport, however, has always been a characteristic feature of our national life, and I understand that it was for that reason that the Council for Art and Industry, who, on the invitation of His Majesty's Government undertook the responsibility for the selection of exhibits and for their display in the United Kingdom Pavilion, arranged this particular series of exhibits. I should mention that all forms of sports and games are represented, including football, cricket, golf, and, I may add, darts. The answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the usual reaction of visitors to the British Pavilion is to laugh at these exhibits, and is it not possible now to take steps to change them, so that they shall not be so ridiculously unrepresentative of British life?

Is it not the case that the Prime Minister always lands his fish, and that the Socialist party always get a fouled line?

Is it not possible in the Exhibition to suggest that the British people occasionally do some work?

29 and 30.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department (1) whether he has given consideration to the correspondence sent to him by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent; why the letter was sent out stating that no studio pottery was to be exhibited at the Paris Exhibition; and will he call a conference at once of representative pottery manufacturers and pottery artists to enable him to hear the representative opinion on the pottery section of the British Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition, and to take any action that is mutually agreed upon;

(2) whether he can give the whole of the names of the people who influenced or decided on the pottery exhibits; and will he state why Stoke, Fenton, and Longton pottery and Longton bone china are not better represented in the pottery section in the British Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition?

As the hen. Member was informed by my predecessor, the responsibility for the selection of exhibits and for their arrangement and display in the United Kingdom Pavilion at Paris was entrusted by His Majesty's Government to the Council for Art and Industry. In the circumstances, I am very much afraid the conference suggested would not serve any useful purpose. A list of members of the Council's Pottery Sub-Committee has already been communicated to the hon. Member, but I shall be happy to send him another copy, together with a list of the members of the council.

Did the hon. Gentleman see the letter in the "Times" from a well-known potter, and is he aware of the deep resentment which exists in the pottery industry at the way in which these exhibits have been chosen; is he further aware that the industry are of the opinion that certain influences have been at work to have brought this position about?

Yes, Sir, I am aware that certain criticisms have been passed; on the other hand, I am aware that many exhibits have been the subject of very favourable comment. Indeed, only last week a buyer from one of the largest houses in the United States told us that certain of the exhibits were the best he had ever seen, and asked for the names of the exhibitors in order that he might place large orders for the American market.

In order that Members might be able to form an opinion about these exhibits, has the hon. Gentleman any photographs which he could put up in the Tea Room?

Yes, Sir, I have photographs, and I will arrange for them to be put up in the Tea Room.

Film Industry

60.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the second biggest film company in this country, the Associated British Cinemas, Limited, has been fined no less than five times recently for failing to comply with Part III of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927, as to the exhibitors' quota, the magistrate informing the company that the run of the American film would amply repay them for the small fine he was entitled to impose; whether he is aware that the chairman and managing director of this company is a member of the Films Advisory Committee who are advisers to the Board of Trade; and whether he will make inquiries into this matter in the interests of public policy?

I am aware of the facts to which my hon. Friend calls attention, though I would add that the five offences occurred at different cinemas during three quota years and that the company controls some 250 cinemas. I do not think any further inquiry on my part is necessary.

In view of the fact that this gentleman is in the important position of advising the Board of Trade, does my right hon. and gallant Friend think that Mr. John Maxwell is a suitable person to advise the Board of Trade owing to the continual breaking of the law by this company?

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult for exhibitors to comply with this part of the Act?

Brazilian Railways (British Investors)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he will, on behalf of the scattered body of British investors who are suffering hardship owing to their savings having been invested in Brazilian railways, take their case up with the Brazilian government, in view of the fact that, owing to the policy of the Brazilian authorities, much of the British capital sunk in the Leopoldina Railway Company, the Leopoldina Terminal Company, and the Great Western Railway of Brazil has been rendered almost worthless.

I understand that direct negotiations are in progress between the Brazilian Government and the companies in question. I am, moreover, in close touch with the companies in the matter.

Iraq (Jews)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he has any information as to the anti-Jewish troubles in Iraq; and whether, in view of our treaty with Iraq, it is intended still to afford any protection to Jews in that state.

As regards the first part of the Question, I have no confirmation of the Press reports to which the right hon. Gentleman no doubt refers, but I have addressed an inquiry on the subject to His Majesty's Ambassador at Bagdad. Meanwhile the right hon. Gentleman will have seen that the Iraqi Minister in London has issued in the Press an official denial of the rumours in question. As regards the second part of the Question, the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty and Alliance contains no provisions regarding the protection of minorities, but this point was dealt with in the Declaration of Guarantees made by the Iraqi Government when Iraq was admitted to membership of the League of Nations. The information at my disposal shows that the Iraqi Government are fully alive to their responsibilities in this matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman continue to impress upon the Iraq Government the importance of the protection of all minorities in that country?

Russia (Major D Graham Pole)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Major D. Graham Pole, a former Member of Parliament, now residing in South Kensington, when on a cruise with his wife on the Canadian Pacific steamship "Empress of Australia," while stopping at Leningrad, was refused permission to land although booked for intourist sightseeing, the authorities refusing to give any reason for such refusal; whether representations have been made by the Foreign Office in the matter; and with what result?

My hon. Friend has furnished me with certain information on this matter, and I am making inquiries through His Majesty's Embassy at Moscow.

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire whether the reason for this man's exclusion from Russia was that he had an excessively bourgeois appearance?

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me why no hon. Member put down a question when I was refused admission to America?

Naval And Military Pensions And Grants

27.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that of all disabilities suffered by ex-service men, apart from total and chronic invalidity, the loss of both arms is the disability which most completely precludes a man from earning; and, in view of this fact, will be reconsider the grant of a pension of £2 a week and a constant attendance allowance of £1 a week with a view to the increase of these amounts?

The compensation awarded to these men is the maximum permissible under the Royal Warrants and is at the rate awarded for total disablement approved by Parliament in 1919 when the cost of living was much higher than it is to-day. This rate has been maintained by successive Governments, and though I am well aware of the serious handicap caused to these men by their disability, my Ministry, I am glad to say, has been successful in supplying artificial aids which enable most of these cases to perform many kinds of remunerative activity.

Is the Minister aware that no artificial aids can be supplied to enable a man who has lost both arms to perform any of the ordinary functions?

My hon. Friend is not correct. I know of cases in which quite satisfactory aids were supplied which enabled the men to carry on with their work.

Agriculture

Poultry Industry

31.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that imports of eggs in shell increased from 8,974,000 great hundreds in the first six months of 1935 to 11,531,000 great hundreds in the corresponding period of this year; and whether, in the light of these circumstances, he can state what steps it is now proposed to take to safeguard egg production in this country?

I am aware of the increase in imports of eggs this year compared with the corresponding period in 1935, but I would remind my hon. Friend that the average price of eggs during the first half of this year has been substantially higher than in the same period in 1935. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 19th July to questions by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills) and by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers).

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a tremendous increase in the cost of feeding stuffs, and that this more than cancels out the advantage of the extra price?

I am aware that feeding stuffs have advanced in price since 1935 by about 30 per cent., but the cost of feeding stuffs, of course, is due to world conditions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think, in view of the rise in price that he has mentioned, that no action is necessary by the Government to deal with this hard-hit industry?

Is the Minister considering the large number of poultry producers who are going bankrupt every day?

Workers (Statistics)

34.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the average number of wage earners employed in agriculture and the approximate annual wages bill during each of the past six years.

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

Following is the reply: The following table shows the total numbers of regular and of casual workers in England and Wales on 4th June in each of the past six years, as returned by occupiers of agricultural holdings of over one acre in extent. No statistics are available from which a reliable estimate could be made of the aggregate amount of wages paid in agriculture.

Regular WorkersCasual WorkersAll Workers.
1931616,307100,300716,607
1932597,65299,829697,481
1933595,711119,835715,546
1934575,808112,164687,972
1935507,801105,342673,203
1936546,81493,759640,573

Post Office

Emergency Telephone Calls

35.

asked the Postmaster-General, whether, in view of the fact that persons desiring to make an emergency call for police, fire, or ambulance from a manual telephone exchange call-box have to first insert two pennies in the call-box, he will see if some method of call can be devised to obviate this disadvantage in case the caller is not in possession of the necessary coins at the time of an emergency.

(Major Tryon): Emergency calls can be made from all street kiosks, whether on manual or automatic exchanges, without the insertion of any money in the coin box. The call is made by means of an emergency pushbutton in the case of a kiosk on a manual exchange.

I understand that unfortunately one individual lost 2d. by not knowing how to put through an emergency call, but I think the two answers I have given in Parliament on this subject, and the correspondence, will avoid a similar disaster occurring again in the hon. Member's family.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question: are these push buttons in all public telephone kiosks?

No. As I told the hon. Member in an earlier answer about the same 2d., they are not necessary in kiosks which are connected with automatic exchanges, where the call can be got through by dialling for the operator.

Will the right hon. Gentleman please answer my question, and not refer to the 2d.?

Air Mails, East And South Africa

36.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he can give particulars of the weights of first-class mail carried to East and South Africa under the Empire air mail scheme; and whether the public are responding to his appeal to post their letters and postcards for this service daily throughout the week in order to facilitate the accommodation of the mail loads, as they offer, to the aircraft capacity available?

Since the first stage of the Empire Air Mail Scheme was inaugurated on 29th June, about 5½ tons of United Kingdom first-class mails have been conveyed each week to East and South Africa. In response to my appeal to the public to post their letters for these services throughout the week, and not, as in the past, on Thursdays and Fridays only, there has been a perceptible transfer of postings to the week-end and early part of the week; but until a more extensive spreading out of postings, particularly in the case of South Africa, can be achieved, the risk remains that part of the letters posted may have to be excluded from the next available despatch.

Does my right hon. Friend intend giving wider publicity to his views on this question?

We shall be very happy to do all we can to do that, because the matter is one of great importance.

What percentage of the first-class mail does the 5½ tons represent?

Territorial Army (Temporary Employes)

38.

asked the Postmaster-General whether any differentiation is made between men on the permanent and temporary staffs who are members of the Territorial Army in regard to leave with pay for attendance at camp?

Temporary officers in the Post Office are allowed the same privileges as permanent officers in the matter of attendance at Territorial camps, provided that they have completed six months' service.

Telegraph Establishment (Staff)

39.

asked the Postmaster-General how many men are on the telegraph establishment on a permanent and temporary basis, and of those on a temporary basis how many have been employed on the telegraph establishment for five years or more?

The latest figures available show that the purely telegraph establishments comprise about 2,130 permanent male telegraphists. Particulars of temporary male telegraphists are not immediately available, but it is estimated that the number is about 300. It is not possible without detailed local examination to say how many of the temporary men have been employed for as much as five years, but the number must be very small indeed. In the Central Telegraph Office in London, where nearly half the male telegraphist staff is employed, there is no temporary telegraphist with as much as five years' service.

Is it a fact that none of these men who are engaged on a temporary basis can ever be employed on a permanent basis in the telegraph establishment?

Employés (Statistics

40.

asked the Postmaster-General what was the total number of postal workers as at 31st March, 1937, or other convenient date; how many of these were male, how many were female, and how many of each group were in receipt of wages of less than 50s. per week; and, of those earning less than 50s. per week, how many male and female, respectively, were above 21 and 30 years of age, respectively?

The total number of Post Office employés, full-time and part-time, on 31st March, 1937, was 261,832, and of this number 202,094 were males and 59,738 females. The number of full-time male employés who were in receipt of less than 50s. a week was 32,200, and of these 17,600 and 8,400 were above 21 and 30 years of age respectively. The number of full-time female employés who were in receipt of less than 50s. a week was 18,300, and of these 7,900 and 1,200 were above 21 and 30 years of age respectively. With the exception of 2,300 men and women cleaners and 1,300 temporary staff, mainly temporary postmen and telephonists, all the staff over 30 years of age in receipt of less than 50s. a week will receive increments which will bring them up to or above that figure in three years or less.

Air Raid Precautions (Government Offices)

42.

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he has any information to show what number of Government offices have provided gas-proof rooms for their staffs in the event of air raids, as recommended by his Department as the first line of defence against such attacks?

The problem of protecting the staffs of Government offices in the event of air attack is at present under consideration.

Tower Of London (Warders)

43.

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether, in view of the fact that the parchment warrant which the warders of the Tower of London receive on their appointment reserves to them their full civic liberties, he will agree to allow them the same rights of collective bargaining as those enjoyed by all other civil servants?

I have been asked to reply to this question. No representations have been made to my right hon. Friend on the subject. If the hon. Member will let me know what he has in mind, I will consider it.

Is the hon. Baronet aware that negotiations have taken place many times in the last few years, and the Constable of the Tower refuses to allow these men to engage in collective bargaining?

Yes, Sir; but the point to which the hon. Member is referring is not quite on the same lines as the point raised in the question.

Accidents, (Injured Persons, Rehabilitation)

44.

asked the Minister of Health what, if any, steps he has in contemplation to give effect to the recommendation of the inter-Departmental committee on the rehabilitation of persons injured by accidents, with particular reference to the treatment of the 200,000 cases of fracture which occur annually?

My right hon. Friend has already sent copies of the Interim Report of this committee to the county and county borough councils in England and Wales, with a cover- ing circular a copy of which I will send to my hon. Friend. He will be aware that in this report the committee express the hope that they will be in a position to present a further report without delay, and my right hon. Friend does not propose to take any further general action on this subject until he has received that report.

In view of the great importance of the subject, will the Minister be good enough to place copies of this report in the Vote Office before the rising of the House, in order that they may be accessible to Members without the necessity of filling up the green form?

Old Age Pensions

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Mineworkers Federation have carried a resolution at their annual conference calling upon the Government to increase the old age pension to £1 week; and whether consideration will be given to this appeal when legislation for the next Session of Parliament is under review?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In reply to the second part, I cannot add anything to what has already been said in reply to recent questions on this subject.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the replies were in the negative; and may I ask him, in view of the appeals that have been made from all over the country, to give consideration to this point when a review of legislation is taking place?

Before the Prime Minister comes to a definite conclusion on this matter, will he consider two things: first, the setting up of a committee of inquiry to ascertain how people in receipt of 10s. a week are living; and, secondly, what are the views of the local authorities—the local authorities who are being burdened by public assistance?

The question I was asked had relation to a particular resolution passed by the Miners' Federation.

Has the Prime Minister's attention been drawn to the fact that this proposal was in the Labour party's election programme in 1929, and was not carried out by them?

Preservation Of Amenities

46.

asked the Minister of Health whether the promised investigation has yet disclosed that his Department has the power to do everything necessary to prevent the destruction of beautiful sites and historic buildings, or whether further legislation is essential for this purpose?

The investigation is proceeding, but my right hon. Friend is not at present in a position to add to the answer given to my hon. Friend on 2nd June.

Will the hon. Gentleman convey to the Minister the feeling that a great many people think there is indifference on the part of his Department on this very important subject?

I can assure the hon. Member that there is no indifference on the part of my Department at all. I am sure that he would be the first to desire that investigation should be as thorough as possible.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House how soon we are likely to get the information asked for?

47.

asked the Minister of Health what action, within the power of his Department, he proposes to take to compel re-conditioning so as to avoid the destruction of the historic cottages at Swanage?

A public local inquiry into five clearance orders made by the urban district council was held by an inspector of my Department on 21st July. When the inspector's report is received, my right hon. Friend will give the most careful consideration to all the evidence placed before him before making a decision on the orders.

Has the hon. Gentleman the power in his Department to override decisions made locally?

International Labour Conference

48.

asked the Minister of Labour particulars of the draft conventions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference prior to April, 1936, regarding which no statement as to the action proposed by His Majesty's Government has yet been published.

There has not yet been any public statement of the position of His Majesty's Government in regard to the Convention concerning the reduction of hours in glass-bottle works (1935) or the recommendation concerning unemployment among young persons (1935). The issue of White Papers in these cases is under consideration.

Trinidad (Naval Assistance)

49.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what special steps of a naval character it is proposed to take to safeguard the oil supplies in Trinidad from possible civil disturbance in the future; and whether a small naval base there would be considered.

No special steps such as those suggested in the question are considered necessary, but His Majesty's ships will continue to give such assistance as may be possible to the civil authorities upon whom the responsibility rests for the maintenance of order.

As my right hon. Friend is aware the island is the most important source of supply for oil in the Empire so surely something more should be done to protect this source of supply and not leave things as they are, that is civil protection only?

My hon. Friend need have no anxiety, the civil authority will take the necessary steps in order to prevent a recurrence of what has taken place recently.

50.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, during the recent disturbances in Trinidad, the Governor of that colony made any appeal for assistance to ships of His Majesty's fleet; and whether such assistance was available and forthcoming?

Will my right hon. Friend bring these facts to the notice of hon. Members opposite in the hope that some who are considering doing otherwise may now support supplies for the Navy?

Palestine

Mufti Of Jerusalem

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any steps have yet been taken to prevent further agitation by the Mufti?

The Government of Palestine, with the assistance of the military authorities, is keeping a close watch on the situation, and I am confident that all necessary measures will be taken to check agitation inconsistent with the peace, order and good government of Palestine, in whatever quarter it may arise.

Are we to understand the Mufti is still allowed to circulate and to stir up trouble and to go free?

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman asked a question about agitation. I think he has gone in for a good deal of agitation before in his career. The whole question is whether it is agitation leading to a breach of the peace. Expression of political opinion by the ordinary methods to which we are accustomed in this country is not an offence.

Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman compares the agitation that we carry on on these benches with the agitation of the Mufti?

In that case, is the Mufti to be arrested or to be allowed to go free?

I cannot possibly answer that question. It entirely depends on what he does.

Royal Commission's Report

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give a list of the reforms in the administration of Palestine recommended by the Royal Commission which it is intended to implement shortly?

In accordance with paragraph 6 of the Statement of Policy issued by His Majesty's Government, legislation to amend the Immigration Ordinance and to provide the High Commissioner with the necessary powers to control land transactions is now being prepared. Changes are being made in the organisation of the district administration, but I shall find it necessary to take the High Commissioner into consultation with regard to the other recommendations contained in the report of the Royal Commission, and the right hon. Gentleman will realise that the question of their adoption, with or without modification, must depend to some extent on financial considerations and, in many cases, on the outcome of the forthcoming examination of the Annual Report for 1936 and the Royal Commission's Report by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League.

Are we to understand that all the recommendations of the Royal Commission which were for a reform of the administration will be left over till partition has taken place and only those recommendations will be implemented which are inconvenient to the Jews?

It is quite impossible to say, as the Permanent Mandates Commission has asked for a special session to deal with the report for the year covering the disturbances and the conduct of the administration and as the Royal Commission's Report is before them. To adopt proposals with any finality until we have heard the views of the League of Nations as to the needs of the country that we are administering under Mandate would, I think, be flouting the League of Nations.

As this is the last opportunity we shall get of asking the right hon. Gentleman questions before he commits us, may I ask him why in these circumstances—

The right hon. and gallant Member may ask a question, but we cannot have a Debate.

Coal Industry

Accidents (Statistics)

56.

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of persons killed and seriously injured this year, and the principal causes of the accidents?

The total number killed this year up to 30th June was 387 and the number seriously injured was 1,618. I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate the details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The information is as follows:

Number of persons killed and seriously injured at mines under the Coal Mines Act during the six months ended 30th June, 1937.
Place or Cause of Accident.Number killed.Number seriously injured.

Underground.

Explosions of Firedamp or Coal Dust.1924
Falls of Ground198790
Shaft Accidents1711
Haulage Accidents83366
Miscellaneous38281
Total3551,472

Surface.

On railways, sidings or tramways.1252
Other surface accidents2094
Total32146
Total (Underground and Surface.)3871,618

Closed Pits

57.

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of pits closed since 1926 and the estimated number of men thrown out of work by such closings in South and West Yorkshire, respectively?

Since 1st January, 1926, 30 pits in South Yorkshire employing Do or more wage-earners each and in the aggregate 6,900 wage-earners, have been abandoned or closed and not re-opened. The comparable figures for West Yorkshire are 71 pits and 10,500 wage-earners.

Supreme Court (Shorthand Writers)

58.

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the recent statement by the Lord Chief Justice that it was intolerable that public time should be wasted and the attention of judges distracted by judicial note-taking in longhand, owing to the failure of the Government to supply shorthand writers to the courts; and whether, having regard to the delay in the administration of the law thereby caused, steps will be taken at an early date to deal with the matter?

I have been asked to reply. Steps have already been taken so as to introduce a system of shorthand reporting in the courts and, as stated by my hon. and learned Friend in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Dobbie) on 21st July, this is expected to be in operation in October.

So that this may take place without fail, will my hon. and gallant Friend draw the attention of his hon. and learned Friend to the fact that there are arrears of some 700 cases in the King's Bench Division at the beginning of the present session, and that these arrears are rapidly increasing?

I think that my hon. and learned Friend is well aware of these facts.

Royal Air Force (Land Acquisition, Methwold)

61.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the Air Ministry are proposing to acquire arable land in the neighbourhood of Methwold, which is at present cultivated by five different farmers for whom there is no alternative land available, for purposes of an auxiliary landing ground; and whether he is satisfied that there is no derelict land in the same neighbourhood that could equally well be adapted?

I am aware of the proposal referred to, and can assure my hon. Friend that there is in the same neighbourhood no derelict land that could equally well be adapted.

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that these are very small farmers who will be left with their farmhouses but without the land they have been fanning, and that there is no alternative land, and will he bear that in mind in connection with any amelioration of their losses?

I think that in nearly all these cases there are agricultural difficulties. My Department will, if this proposal is put into operation, do its best to place these aerodromes where the least inconvenience is caused?

Education (Private Schools)

62.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether the Board has information as to the number of private schools and the number of children attending them, and as to the standard of health and education in these schools?

My information as regards the first part of the question is very incomplete, but I have no reason to dissent from the estimate of the Departmental Committee on Private Schools that the number of such schools in England and Wales is in the neighbourhood of 10,000, and that they contain some 400,000 pupils of all ages. With regard to the second part of the question, 743 private schools, containing rather more than 90,000 pupils, are recognised by the Board as efficient. Among other conditions for such recognition, a school has to satisfy the Board that it is kept on a level of efficiency which is satisfactory and the premises must be healthy. I have no information as to the standard of health and education in the other private schools.

63.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether any action has been taken as a result of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on Private Schools in 1932; and, if not, whether the Board proposes to take any steps to secure the registration and inspection of such schools.

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the second part of the question, I can hold out no hope of Parliamentary time being at present available for what will be a complicated and probably contentious measure. In addition, the local education authorities will be fully occupied, during the next few years, in exercising the duties and powers conferred on them by the Education Act, 1936, and in giving effect to the other parts of the Government's policy of educational reform; I should, therefore, be reluctant to add to their burdens at the present time by legislation in the direction which the hon. Member has in mind.