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Commons Chamber

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 15 March 1927

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 15th March, 1927.

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

Private Business

PRIVATE BILLS (Standing Orders not previously inquired into complied with),

Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table deport from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the ease of the following Bill, referred on the Second Reading thereof, the Standing Orders not previously inquired into, which are applicable thereto, have been complied with, namely:

County of London Electric Supply Company Bill.

Bill committed.

PROVISIONAL ORDER BILLS (No Standing Orders applicable),

Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table Report from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the case of the following Bills, referred on the First Reading thereof, no Standing Orders are applicable, namely:

Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 1) Bill.

Marriages Provisional Order Bill.

Bills to be read a Second time To-morrow.

Nar Valley Drainage Bill,

As amended, to be considered To-morrow.

Reading Gas Bill,

As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.

North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Bill [ Lords],

Yeadon Waterworks Bill [ Lords],

To he read a Second time To-morrow.

London, Midland, and Scottish Railway Bill (by Order),

Second Reading deferred till Monday next, at a Quarter-past Eight of the Clock.

Oral Answers To Questions

"Foudroyant" And "Cutty Sark"


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners have given orders for the removal of the historic frigate "Foudroyant," in use for 20 years as a boys' training ship and still used for this purpose, and the historic clipper the "Cutty Sark," in spite of the offer of the respective owners to pay harbour dues; whether he proposes to take any steps to prevent this action; and, if it is persisted in, whether his Department has berths at its disposal where these two vessels could be preserved?

I am informed that the Falmouth Harbour Committee have given notice to the owners of the "Foudroyant" and "Cutty Sark" that their vessels cannot occupy their present berths, owing to the demands for further accommodation. The owners are being asked to meet the Harbour Committee to see if other berths within the harbour can be found where these vessels can be moored with head and stern moorings. The Board of Trade have no power to interfere, and have no berths at their disposal.

Is the right hon. Gentleman interesting himself in the matter, in view of the fact that the "Foudroyant" trains boys for the sea and the "Cutty Sark" is an old relic of the heyday of the sailing ship in commerce carrying?

Yes, and that is why I have already been in communication, though I have no power to intervene with the Harbour Commissioners, to ascertain if there is to be a meeting between the harbour authorities and the owners.


Anglo-Russian Trade

2 and 3.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if, in view of the fall in British exports to Russia of agricultural machinery, he can state the value of such exports from Germany to Russia in 1913 and 1926, respectively;

(2) if, in view of the fall in British exports to Russia of agricultural machinery, he can state the value of such exports from the United States of America in 1913 and 1926, respectively?

The value of agricultural machinery exported from Germany to Russia in 1913 was £699,000. In 1926 the value of such machinery exported to the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics was £613,000, and to the Succession States (including the parts of Poland formerly German and Austrian) £145,000. The value of agricultural machinery exported from the United States to Russia in the year ended 30th June, 1914, was £1,509,000. In 1926 the value of such machinery exported to the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics was about £1,365,000. The figures of the exports to the Succession States in 1926 are not yet available, but in 1925 they amounted in value to £27,000.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to German exports of agricultural machinery being financed by British capital?

No, I have not any. The only thing that springs to the eye in comparing the returns is that the Soviet places very few orders here.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the statement that Russian industrial requirements for the year 1926–27, apart from orders for railways, municipalities and agriculture, amount to £15,000,000; and whether, seeing that no case of default has taken place in connection with Russian orders for British manufactures he will say what, steps he will take to encourage British manufacturers to develop Anglo-Russian trade?

I understand that a statement to the effect indicated by the hon. Member has re- cently appeared in the "Soviet Union monthly." As I have repeatedly stated, it rests with the Russian Government to take the necessary steps to encourage manufacturers to trade.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that speeches made by members of the Cabinet have created a good deal of anxiety and uncertainty in the minds of those conducting Anglo-Russian trade, and does he not think it his duty as President of the Board of Trade to do what he can to remove the misconception created by his colleagues?

No, I am quite clear as to what it is that deters British manufacturers from giving large credits to Russia. It is the conditions obtaining in Russia, and it is only the action of the Soviet Government that can remedy it.

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the long credit, amounting to three years, that is demanded by the Soviet, Government from British manufacturers, and will he take steps to inform that Government that those are not terms of credit that British manufacturers can give?

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the heavy losses that have been occasioned to Germany in connection with their large concessions in Russia and to the fact than an appeal has been made of the German Government for further cash to prevent collapse?

Is it not the case that Britain has lent money to Germany at one rate of interest, which in turn has been advanced to Russia so as to enable the German people to continue their trade with Russia?

With regard to the point put by my hon. Friend, I have seen a report, which I believe is well authenticated. With regard to loans, no doubt a certain amount of money has been lent by financiers in this country to Germany, and it may be that Germans have lent money, and they have certainly granted credit, to Russia, but those who advanced the money rely upon German and not Russian credit.

Military Forces


asked the Secretary of State for War what are the approximate numbers of the military forces of the Russian Soviet Republics, both on a peace and war basis; and whether any reduction or increase has recently been made in such forces?

According to the latest information which I have, the standing army of Russia numbers nearly 650,000 men, and if the "Territorial" Militia be included, over 1,000,000, while the Reserves number over 8,000,000 in addition. As regards the last part of the question the strength of these forces has shown a slight increase during the past year.

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been called to speeches in the last few weeks by members of the Soviet Government, stating that war between Soviet Russia and the capitalist States is inevitable, and asking the masses in Russia to continue their work while the Red Army is being made ready for the inevitable clash?

Detention Of British Seaman


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received any complaint from ex-Fireman David Scott concerning the treatment received by him in Russia; and what, if any, action he contemplates taking in connection therewith?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is considering any steps which may be taken on behalf of Mr. David Scott in connection with his treatment in Russia?

His Majesty's Government have not received any complaint from Mr. Scott. A protest against Mr. Scott's treatment was made but, as my right hon. Friend stated on the 23rd ultimo, this is not a case in which compensation could be claimed, and no further action is contemplated.

Is it not a fact that a report of the case when dealt with in one of the Russian courts is available, and cannot the hon. Gentleman obtain a copy for the benefit of his colleague?

Is it not a fact that this case has not been dealt with in any Russian court of any kind or description?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Sailors' and Firemen's Union have asked the British Trades Union Congress to sever connection with Russia until satisfaction is given on this question?

Poison Gas


asked the Secretary of State for Wax whether he is aware that several factories are being operated by the Soviet Government in Russia for the manufacture of poison gas; and can he state the number and location of such factories and the present and potential output?

His Majesty's Government have information that the study of gas warfare is being actively pursued in Soviet Russia. Numerous factories have been set up and are in course of erection, which are or will be capable of poison gas production on a very considerable scale_ It is not considered that any useful purpose will be served by detailing the number and location of such factories or by indicating their present and potential output, but there is no doubt that the Soviet military authorities are actively studying this type of warfare and making preparations on a large scale for its possible eventual use.

Can the right hon. Gentleman state whether in his opinion the preparations being made for this kind of warfare in Russia are greater or less than in other countries?

There is no doubt that much greater preparations are being made in Russia than anywhere else in the world.

In view of the very unnatural effects of this warfare, cannot the right hon. Gentleman consider whether an offer might be made to Russia and all other countries that we are prepared to abandon this weapon entirely if they would be prepared to do the same?

I would draw the attention of the hon. Member to the Convention at Washington and the proceedings which are now before the League of Nations. Russia is not a party to either of those.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House the source of his information about Russia?

France (Customs Tariffs)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the Bill introduced by the Government into the French Chamber of Deputies on 3rd March last, under which prohibitive increases in French tariffs are proposed; whether he is aware that in some cases the increases in tariffs on the import of machinery, and particularly oil engines, amount to an increase of 200 to 500 per cent; and what steps are being taken by his Department to protect the interests of British manufacturers?

A translation of the French Tariff Bill will be published immediately in the Board f Trade Journal (the first instalment appearing on Thursday next), and as soon as the views of British traders regarding the proposals are available, I will consider whether any action can usefully be taken by His Majesty's Government.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is information which has already been circulated to the French deputies and that it involves, in the case of a 50 h.p. oil engine, an increase of tax from £51 to £212, and will he see that his Department takes energetic action?

I am taking precisely the kind of action the Department can take, namely, as soon as information is available, to publish it and consult the manufacturers who are likely to be affected.

Casquets Wireless Beacon


asked the President of the Board of Trade if the experimental beacon wireless station at the Casquets light vessel, English Channel, has proved a success; and if it is intended to extend similar stations round the coast of the British Isles?

I am informed that the experimental wireless beacon at the Casquets has proved a success. Wireless beacons will be established at suitable points round the coast as circumstances permit.

British Army

Recruits (Rejection)


asked the Secretary of State for War the percentage of applicants for recruitment in the Army whose applications were refused on physical and medical grounds in the following years, respectively, 1913, 1914, 1919, and 1926?

On page 12 of the General Annual Report on the British Army for 1926 the right hon. Member will find the figures for the years 1911–12 and 1912–13 and for the years 1920–21 onwards. I regret that figures for 1914 and 1919 are not available.

I Chink the hon. Member would be wise to look at the actual figures.

Woolwich And Sandhurst


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has ever-considered the advisability, for the purposes of economy, of amalgamating Woolwich and Sandhurst; and whether he could state, approximately, the amount of such economies?

The question has been under consideration on more than one occasion but, apart from other difficulties, the accommodation is not sufficient either at Sandhurst or Woolwich to meet the requirements of both establishments.

War Office (Staff Officers)


asked the Secretary of State for War what were the number of staff officers employed at the War Office in 1914 and in 1927?

The number of military officers employed at the War Office in 1914 was 174. The present number is 244.

Military Prison, Woking


asked the Secretary of State for War to state what is the cost of the military prison at Woking; how many prisoners are detained there; and what is the cost to the State of each prisoner?

The cost of the military prison at Woking is estimated at £6,800 a year. The average number of prisoners detained there during 1926 was 16, the cost based on that number being 23s. 4d. a prisoner a day. The question whether other suitable and more economical arrangements for dealing with these prisoners could be made is under consideration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it costs more to keep a prisoner there than to send a boy to Eton to-day?

What is the usual accommodation there? What is the number?

The high cost is because, fortunately, we have only an average of 16. That is the fortunate fact.

That is precisely what is being Poked into at this moment.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider amalgamating with the Admiralty for combined treatment of naval and military prisoners?



asked the Secretary of State for War, with regard to the housing schemes which he is promoting at Aldershot and elsewhere, whether the work is being done by his Department, His Majesty's Office of Works, or by private contract; if he will state the average cost per house of the non-parlour type and of the parlour type, respectively?

Married quarters for Army personnel are as a rule erected under War Department contracts, though in a few cases the work is done by labour directly employed under the Royal Engineers. The conditions under which these quarters are built are generally speaking dissimilar to those obtaining in civilian housing schemes; the type of quarter is not precisely the same as the civilian type, and the prices are therefore not comparable. At Did-cot, for example, where we are building some quarters the cost of a house containing a living room, scullery, and three bedrooms is estimated to cost £530.

Courts-Martial (Civil Offences)


asked the Secretary of State for War the number of offences against the Civil Law which were dealt with at the 3,269 courts-martial held during the year ending 30th September, 1926; and if he will consider the desirability of submitting to the Civil Courts all alleged offences against the Civil Law committed by officers and other ranks serving in the Army?

I regret that I am unable to supply the information asked for in the first part of the question, To do so would involve the examination of the proceedings of all the courts-martial. As regards the last part of the question, I am not prepared to make any change in the existing procedure.

Pensions Disallowed


asked the Secretary of State for War how many men were invalided from the service in 1926; how many of these were denied pensions on the ground of non-attributability; how many appealed to the War Office against the original decision; and in how many cases the decision was modified?

The exact number of men invalided from the Army during 1926 is not available, but the total number of disability cases (including those of men already discharged) dealt with by the Chelsea Commissioners during that year was 2,546. In 2,100 cases the disability was found to be not attributable to military service, but 639 of the men concerned were eligible for non-attributable awards of gratuity or temporary pension. As I informed the hon. Member in July last, it is not possible to distinguish between appeals made by the men themselves and eases referred to the War Office by the Chelsea Commissioners for further consideration. The approximate number of cases referred under both heads was 137, and the decision was modified in 59.

Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that the figures with regard to invaliding from the Army are not kept at the War Office? Can they not be made available? Is the Department considering the necessity for establishing a proper legal appeal tribunal?

In the answer, I give the cases dealt with by Chelsea Hospital. There are other cases in the commands which do not necessarily come before the Chelsea Commission.

Does the hon. and gallant Member think that the present method of assessment could be improved upon?

I think that the present method of assessment is proving quite satisfactory.

Is the Department considering the necessity of establishing an appeal tribunal? And has the hon. and gallant Member's attention been called to the remarks of the First Lord of the Admiralty last night?

My attention has not been called to those remarks. The question of an appeal tribunal has been considered on many occasions, but it is not considered necessary to set one up.

Foreign Investments


asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the tendency to invest money in countries where labour is cheaper than British labour, he will cause an inquiry to be made into the matter and into the advisability of exercising some sort of control over foreign investments?

The answer is in the negative.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that many of these investments are directed to the detriment of British trade and British standards of living?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in spite of the very great shortage of capital for reconstruction in certain British industries, the Prudential Insurance Company and others have been able to invest very large sums in Poland, where the cost of labour is low?


Police Fund


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has had any official communication from the trustees of the Police Fund with regard to the Scottish share; what proportion of the total fund is to be allocated to Scotland; on what principle this proportion is to be distributed among the Scottish police forces; and upon what objects it will be spent?

The holder of my office for the time being is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Police Fund. The fund relates to Great Britain and is not allocated between England and Scotland. As regards the remainder of the question, I would refer to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Horne Secretary on the 17th February.

Will there be no allocation to Scotland? When the allo- cation is made, surely the right hon. Gentleman will be responsible for the distribution among the different forces in Scotland?

:I have made it clear in my answer that no allocation has been made. The questions will be considered on their merits whether they come from Scotland or England.

School Accommodation, Broughton


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that a petition was signed over six years ago by parents in the parish of Broughton, Peeblesshire, appealing to the Peeblesshire education authority to give them a school within the three miles limit for children in the district; that so far nothing has been done; that children are being allowed to leave school at 13 years of age in Peeblesshire where they are outside the three miles limit from the nearest school; that nothing is being done to provide reasonable opportunities for education in several instances in the foregoing district; and what action, if any, is he prepared to take, with a view to the Education Acts being carried out by the Peeblesshire education authority?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the question on the 1st instant. The education authority now inform me that following upon the petition referred to, a survey of educational requirements for the whole area was made and one new school was built. The authority were not satisfied, however, that the circumstances justified providing a school for the petitioners. They affirm that they do everything in their power to discourage children leaving school before the leaving age, and repeat that all applications made to them for travelling facilities have been granted. If the hon. Member will furnish me with particulars of the specific cases he has in mind, I shall be glad to consider what further action can he taken.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Peebles Education Authority furnished him with wrong information on the last occasion, hence the necessity for putting this question? I will give the right hon. Gentleman the information.

Erribol Estate (Sale)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the hoggs forming part of the proper ewe stock of Erribol Farm, but wintering in the Black Isle or elsewhere, will be taken over by the purchaser; and whether acclimatisation value will be paid for all of these sheep?

The hoggs in question were taken over by the purchaser at acclimatisation value—with the exception of the shotts, which were retained by the Board, and which will be sold by them at the end of the wintering period.

Is it not a fact that the number of questions asked on this absorbing subject exceeds the number of sheep sold by several?

Coal Mining Industry

Working Hours


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will prepare a statement showing the hours worked in the various mining districts prior to the stoppage and the hours now in operation; and whether he will state the times of descending and ascending for the same periods?

Before the stoppage of last May the full ordinary underground shift was seven hours not including winding-time. The only exceptions were the hewing shifts in Northumber land and Durham which were generally rather shorter. At the present time the corresponding figure is eight, except in Yorkshire, Kent, and Notts and Derby, and in Northumberland and Durham for hewers, where it is 7½. The winding times vary pit by pit, and shift by shift. The latest information that I have relating to the average winding time in each district will be found on page 269 of the Royal Commission's Report.


asked the Secretary for Mines the average time spent below ground each working day by the miners in the coalfields of this country where the full eight hours have been enforced by the employers?

Approximately eight and a half hours, with a shorter period on Saturdays, in many districts.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some of the larger collieries in South Wales nine and a half hours elapse from the time the first man goes down to the time the last man comes up?

NUMBER or Wage-earners employed above and below ground at Coal Mines in Great Britain during the weeks ended 27th February, 1926, and 26th February, 1927, and the number of Coal Miners insured under the Unemployment Insurance Acts recorded as Unemployed at 22nd February, 1926, and 21st February, 1927, respectively, the nearest dates for which information is available.

Area.Number of Wage-earners employed during the week endedNumber of persons unemployed at 22nd February, 1926.Number of Persons unemployed at 21st February, 1927.
27th Feb., 1926.26th Feb., 1927.Wholly unemployed.Temporary StoppagesTotal.Wholly unemployed.Temporary Stoppages.Total.

England and Wales.

Cumberland and Westmorland.11,41611,4171,1935251,718732126858
Lancashire and Cheshire.97,56290,5626,0836,26812,3517,6263,12710,753
Notts and Leicester68,31368,2537368931,6291,2494,6715,920
Staffs., Worcester and Salop.71,30267,6684,2189955,2133,8176864,503
Gloucester and Somerset.13,62711,5561,2057141,9191,535801,615
Wales and Monmouth.230,368201,43830,3367,14037,47647,68517,45965,144
Remainder of England.3014034139311404
England and Wales980,279901,84984,28717,877102,164114,56162,110176,671
Great Britain1,107,5261,012,684100,11618,620118,736134,52863,211197,739

It should be noted that the number of insured persons recorded as unemployed for any particular date includes some persons partially employed, who are also included in the number on the books of the colliery companies for the corresponding date: the latter number also includes some persons (e.g., persons under 16 years

Miners (Employment)


asked the Secretary for Mines what was the total number of miners employed above and below ground in each of the coalfields of Great Britain for the week ending 27th February, 1926, and for the week ending 26th February, 1927, respectively; and what was the total number of miners unemployed in each British coalfield during each of the said two periods?

Following are the figures:

of age) who are not insured against unemployment. The two sets of figures are therefore not mutually exclusive, and due caution should be exercised in making comparisons between the sums of the two sets of figures for different dates, as the amount of overlapping may vary considerably from time to time.

Mines At Work


asked the Secretary for Mines what was the total number of coal mines at work in each of the coalfields of Great Britain during the week ending 27th February, 1926, and during the week ending 26th February, 1927?

Following are the figures:

Number of Coal Mines at Work during the Week ended 27th February, 1926, and daring the Week ended 26th February, 1927.
District.Week ended 27 Feb., 1926.Week ended 26 Feb., 1927
Cumberland and Westmorland.3029
South Yorkshire102105
West Yorkshire132128
Lancashire and Cheshire202195
Derbyshire (except South Derbyshire).9792
South Derbyshire108
Cannock Chase2828
North Staffordshire6365
South Staffordshire and Worcester.8892
Forest of Dean4442
Somerset 1718
Total, England1,2541,238
South Wales and Monmouth526501
North Wales2925
Total, Wales555526
Fife and Clackmannan5759
The Lothians (Mid and East)2825
Ayrshire 7874
Total, Scotland396385
Great Britain2,2052,149

Wheelless Tubs (Haulage)


asked the Secretary for Mines whether he can state the names of the collieries and the districts where they are still using the guns for coal haulage of wheelless tubs?

There are 17 collieries, all in the Somerset coalfield. I will circulate their names in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to get facilities for the early passage of the Bill on the Order Paper to-day—Coal Mines (Abolition of Wheelless Tubs) Bill, in order that this old and degrading system may be abolished?

Any question as to the business of the House should not be addressed to me.

Will the right hon. Gentleman enable hon. Members to realise what this system means, by providing photographs showing the abominable conditions under which these people are working in the mines?

As the right hon. Gentleman has said that these men are all in Somerset, is he aware that there are two mines in Wales where that system is employed?

How is the right hon. Gentleman going to become aware of it? When a question is put down asking for definite information, it means, if the Department cannot give the information, that they are neglecting their duties in not being able to report on the conditions of the mines [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]

The following is the list of mines in the Somerset Coalfield:

  • Old Mills.
  • Farrington.
  • Mells.
  • Moorewood.
  • Newbury.
  • New Rock.
  • Norton Hill.
  • Bromley.
  • Pensford.
  • Braysdown.
  • Camerton.
  • Priston.
  • Clandown.
  • Dunkerton.
  • Radstoek.
  • Kilmersdon.
  • Foxcote and Writhlington.



asked the Secretary for Mines what was the total quantity of coal exported from each of the exporting coalfields of Great Britain during the week ending 27th February, 1926, and during the week ending 26th February, 1927; and what was the average f.o.b. price per ton of exported coal (large) in each of the said two periods

Total Quantities of All Classes of Coal exported from the Various Groups of Ports in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Average declared value per ton f.o.b. of Large Coal exported from certain Ports during the months of February, 1926 and 1927.
A. All Classes of Coal.B. Large Coal.
Groups of Ports.Quantity of Coal Exported during the month of—Ports.Average declared value per ton f.o.b. of large coal exported during the month of—
February, 1926.February, 1927.February, 1926.February, 1927.
Bristol Channel Ports2,057,7561,793,774Cardiff2192210
North-Western Ports143,272114,489Hull2042111
North-Eastern Ports1,346,4741,572,324Hartlepool175172
Humber Ports205,888173,587Newcastle-on-Tyne156159
Other Ports on the East Coast.14,55910,974Leith156186
Other English Ports
East Scottish Ports366,526323,999
West Scottish Ports199,307176,701
North Irish Ports6,2247,008
All Ports in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.4,340,0064,172,856All Ports in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.208218

Coke Ovens


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of collieries, and the districts in which they are situated, where coke ovens are still idle that were in operation prior to the stoppage?

Boys (Medical Examination)


asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that boys of 14 years of age are permitted to work in coal mines without a previous medical examination for fitness; that under the Factories and Workshops Acts no child of 14 years of age is permitted to work without a previous medical

at each of the following ports: Cardiff, Hull, Hartlepool, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Leith, and Glasgow?

I regret that I am unable to give the precise information desired, but such figures as are available I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the available figures:

examination by the certifying factory surgeon; and will he take steps to remedy this anomalous condition of affairs by seeing that no child is allowed to work in a coal mine without previous medical examination and certification of fitness for that occupation?

I am aware of the facts stated, but doubtless my hon. Friend is aware that the existing system of examination under the Factories and Workshops Acts has been recently condemned by a Committee of Inquiry as a failure and that an improved system of examination is to be submitted to the House in the Factories Bill. If it is approved, the application of similar provisions to mines and quarries will certainly be considered.

Miners' Nystagmus


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of cases of miners' nystagmus during 1925 and 1926, respectively; whether the incidence of this disease is still heavy; and what action, if any, does he propose to take?

In 1925 the number of new cases in which compensation was paid was 3,444 and the number continued from previous years was 7,890. The figures for 1926 are not yet available. The Mining Association and the Miners' Federation have been invited to cooperate with the Home Office to give effect to the recommendation of the Nvstagmus Committee, and continual effort are being made to improve lighting in mines.


asked the Secretary for Mines how many cases of miner's nystagmus have been reported during each of the last seven years; and whether he has any means of ascertaining how many of such cases have occurred at pits where the method of illumination is by oil lamps and by electric lamps, respectively?

As the information required by the hon. Member involves a series of figures, I propose, with his permission, to circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. With regard to the second part of the question, the information could not be obtained without returns from every colliery, which would be very laborious both to prepare and to collate; and in view of the number and diversity of the factors contrbuting to the incidence of nystagmus, the results would not warrant the expenditure of this amount of labour.

Following are the figures promised:

The statistics of workmen's compensation are as follows:

Cases continued from the previous
New Cases.year.

The figures for 1926 are not yet available.



asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the Samuel Commission elicited the information that there are 57 different types of coal wagons in use in this country, varying in capacity from eight to 20 tons; that if all the wagons were 20 tons capacity a reduction in freightage charge, equal to 10 per cent., would be possible; and that 69 per cent. of the wagons are privately owned by 10,000 separate owners, and it was estimated that if these wagons were all owned by one company 9,000,000 engine hours per annum would be saved; and, in view of their recommendation that a committee on mineral transport should he set up, will he state what his intentions are on this question?

A Joint Standing Committee on Mineral Transport, such as the Samuel Commission recommended, was appointed on the 17th February and has already held its first meeting.

Competency Certificates


asked the Secretary for Mines whether, as there is now a surplus of men holding first-or second-class certificates, a number of them in addition holding degrees or diplomas, it is still the policy of the Department to operate Section 22 of the Mining Industry Act, 1926, so debarring these men from attaining to the higher official positions, and at the same time to refuse to amend Regulation 47, so barring them, to a very large extent, from the position of over-men?

Nothing that the Mines Department is allowed to do under Section 22 of the Mining Industry Act, 1926, will debar any holder of a first- or second-class certificate from seeking the higher posts in the industry; nor is any person so qualified debarred from seeking the post of overman. All who hold qualifying certificates for the respective posts are, and will continue to be, eligible for appointment on their merits.


asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the fact that in 1921, the latest date for which the figures are available, there were only 400 fewer men holding first-or second-class certificates employed, otherwise than as managers or oversmen, than there were oversmen holding only firemen's certificates, and that since that time about 2,000 certificates of competency have been granted under the Coal Mines Act, he will consider the advisability, in the interests of safety and efficiency as well as for the encouragement of the large number of students attending the mining classes in the mining districts, of so amending Regulation 47 of the Coal Mines Act as to make it compulsory that the official defined in that Regulation as superior to the fireman, but inferior to the under-manager, shall be required to hold at least a second-class certificate of competency under the Coal Mines Act?

This proposal has been very fully considered, on several occasions, during the past few years and rejected. All the considerations to which the hon. Member calls attention were taken fully into account, and no fresh reasons for re-opening the question have been brought to my notice.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider doing something some time for the improvement of the mining industry?

Fatal Accidents (Boys)


asked the Secretary for Mines the number of young persons under the age of 18 killed in the coal mines of this country during the months of December, 1926, and January and February, 1927?

Twenty persons under 18 years of age were killed at coal mines in Great Britain during the months of December, 1926, and January and February, 1927.



asked the Secretary for Mines if his attention has been drawn to the recent ascertainment of the position as to profits and wages in the Durham coalfield, and to the fact that it reveals that wages which would be 20 per cent. below minimum rates could be paid from the funds remaining after meeting all other expenditure; and, viewing the fact that the workmen have made great sacrifices as to both hours and wages, will he take action in re-organisation of the industry to reduce the cost of production and give some hope to the workmen of better conditions than now exist?

The hon. Member does not specify what action he has in mind, and I do not understand in what manner he thinks it is within the power of the Government to achieve the result indicated. It can only be done by the industry itself, if it can be done at all; and the fact that the ascertainment shows an economic wage lower than the minimum and therefore involves a loss to the owners obviously provides the best possible incentive to those engaged in it to do everything in their power to that end.

May I ask what organisation the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up for the purpose of increasing the amount which comes to the workmen?

My answer quite meets that point. The Government cannot do anything. It is for those who are chiefly interested in the industry to carry out these improvements.

Is it not a fact that the Samuel Commission laid the utmost stress on the need for re-organisation; that there is very little going on; and why do not the Government expedite it by legislation?

Is it not the fact that the cost of production in Durham is largely affected by the large increase in local rates due to the action of the Chester-le-Street Guardians?

Overwinding Accidents

41 and 42.

asked the Secretary for Mines (1) how many accidents have occurred during the last five years due to overwinding; how many have occurred since 1st December, 1926; how many deaths occurred as a result of such accidents; and in how many cases was electrically driven winding gear in use;

(2) how many collieries in Great Britain have steam-driven winding engines and electrically-driven winding engines, respectively?

It will take a little time to get the information asked for in this and the following question. If the hon. Member will repeat the questions this day week, I hope to be able to reply.

Motor Traffic

Compulsory Insurance


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has decided to make motor insurance against third-party risks compulsory?

This question has been under my consideration in connection with the Bill for the better regulation of road traffic. The draft Bill which I hope will be circulated during the course of this week provides for a certain measure of compulsory insurance in the case of public service vehicles on the part of persons or companies who are not in a position to carry their own risks. The extension of this provision to all motor vehicles presents considerable difficulties. I am at present inclined to the view that it would be desirable to gain practical experience of the working of compulsory insurance in connection with public service vehicles before attempting to extend its application to all motor vehicles.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that compulsory insurance for taxicabs and single-owned omnibuses has been enforced by the Home Office for a considerable period; and in the light of that experience, is he prepared to extend it to all owners of motor cars?

If the hon. Member had appreciated my answer, he would have gathered that I propose in the draft Bill that compulsory insurance should be imposed on public service vehicles, and that as regards private vehicles we should see how it works.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the position in which some people are placed in the event of a collision with another car, the owner of which is not insured. Considerable damage is sometimes done, and it is not covered by insurance. Will he not realise the importance of insisting upon private cars being insured?

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remember that it is not so much a question of the vehicle being insured as the driver of a vehicle taking out an insurance. There is a distinction.

It shows that it would be much better to wait and see the proposals of the Bill, and discuss it afterwards.

Is not the risk with the commercial and privately-owned car rather than with the public service vehicles; and, if third-party insurance is to be insisted upon, ought it not to be insisted upon in the cases where the risk lies?

This is developing into a debate on a Bill which has not vet been printed.

Street Accidents, London


asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to deal with the problems created by trade and commercial motor vehicles in London which have killed 104 persons and been involved in 6,058 accidents to persons and property within the Metropolis during the last quarter of 1926?

I regret to say that accidents, both fatal regret non-fatal, caused by vehicles in the Metropolis, are not by any means confined to trade and commercial vehicles; 189 persons have been killed, and 25,000 accidents have been occasioned to persons and property by other classes of vehicles in the period mentioned in the question. The problem of these accidents must be dealt with as a whole. I am expecting in the course of the next few days a report from the London Traffic Advisory Committee on the subject of the prevention of street accidents, and I have convened a conference of representatives of all local authorities and other bodies concerned in the metropolitan area, for the 21st March, to consider the question.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the time has now come when legislation should be tightened up and penalties increased on people who are taking other people's lives in this way?

Local Authorities' Vehicles (Taxation)


asked the Minister of Transport how many vehicles, mechanically and electrically driven, are Owned by local authorities and used in non-trading services such as sanitary and road cleansing; and the net sum paid in taxation for these vehicles in 1925 and 1926?

The records of the licensing authorities are maintained in such a form that the information desired by the hon. Member could only be extracted by a long and laborious search. I hope, therefore, that he will not press for a return.

is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the increase of the taxation on those vehicles that operate only within the districts where they are owned, and that the item is a very considerable sum for the local authorities, and have representations been made to him, and what does he intend to do in the matter?

As the hon. Member is aware, this subject was very fully discussed on the Budget last year, and no doubt it will come up again for discussion this year. I do not remember having received any special representation on the point.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to afford the information by circularising the whole of the local authorities as to the number of vehicles they have.

No; I reckon that in these days of economy we should try to save where we can.

Omnibuses, London


asked the Minister of Transport how many omnibuses belonging to the London General Omnibus Company and their associated companies have been allocated routes in the Metropolitan Police Area under the London Traffic Act; and how many omnibuses have been allocated routes under the same Act belonging to private individuals and to companies in which the London General Omnibus Company has no share interest?

There has not been any allocation of omnibus routes under the London Traffic Act. The routes now being worked were selected by the companies, or the individual proprietors themselves, subject to the condition that the route or routes selected were approved by the Commissioner of Police or the licensing authority. The Orders and Regulations with regard to "restricted" streets merely stabilised the position, as at certain dates, on the streets affected. The numbers of omnibuses scheduled for operation in the Metropolitan Police District at 1st November, 1926, were as follows: 4,190 belonging to the London General Omnibus Company and associated companies or to undertakings in which that company have a controlling interest, and 409 belonging to independent proprietors.

Does not that prove that the combine has now complete control owing to the working of the London Traffic Act—that it has a practical monopoly?

I lo not think that follows. The condition is largely the same as existed before the Act.

Is it not a fact that the combine has bought out most of the other undertakings?


asked the Minister of Transport whether the discussions at present taking place upon the co-ordination of London passenger-carrying transport undertakings include any consultation with the Independent Omnibus Owners' Association?

The question whether some form of co-ordination or co-operation between London passenger transport agencies is practicable is under consideration by the London Traffic Advisory Committee, to whom I had referred the matter, and I understand that they propose to consult all interested parties before submitting any proposals to me.

In view of the fact that, as far as one can gather, the conversations between the London County Council and the General Omnibus Company have reached an advanced stage, has not the time come when the right hon. Gentleman's Committee ought to take some steps to consult with these independent proprietors, who own 400 omnibuses?

That is exactly what I say; it is proposed to consult all interested parties.

Franchise To Women


asked the Prime Minister on what date he proposes to make his promised statement on the granting of Parliamentary suffrage to women at the age of 21?


asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet reached any decision with regard to the extension of the franchise to women below the age of 30 years; and, if so, when it is proposed to introduce the necessary legislation?

I shall answer these questions together. As has already been announced, a statement on this subject will be made before Easter.

Are we to understand that the Bill is to be introduced before the General Election?

I think it would be much better to await the statement which is promised before Easter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give the statement to this House in the first place, and not to any outside body?

China (Shanghai Defence Force)


asked the Prime Minister the last date on which the Committee of Imperial Defence met; whether the despatch of the Shanghai Defence Force has been under consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence; and how many times the Committee has met during the present year?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave him on the 11th March, 1926.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the City of Shanghai has been asked to make any contribution towards the cost of the British Defence Force sent there; and whether British citizens domiciled there pay British Income Tax?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull. As regards the second part of the question, a British citizen domiciled in Shanghai, in common with other persons, who are not resident in the United Kingdom, is, broadly speaking, liable to British Income Tax on any income which he derives from this country; such persons are not otherwise liable to the tax.

I do not know; I could not say without notice what is the taxation in Shanghai itself. I am speaking only of British taxation.

Is it the case that during the War they escaped Supertax, Excess Profits Duty, and so on?

I do not know that they were subject to any special exemption during the War. They are subject to the usual rule, the same as any other residents outside the United Kingdom.

Are not these people doing everything they can to defend their own city, and are not these questions extremely unfair?

Income Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that in many cases, particularly of London working-class houses, the revenue authorities are declining to deduct from the assessment the usual allowance for repairs; if any instruction or communication has been issued to the authorities in any districts directing a cessation of this allowance; and, if so, to what districts such an instruction or communication has been sent?

The statutory allowance for repairs is expressly prohibited by the income Tax Acts in the case of any property where the rent, as reduced by the repairs allowance which would be granted if the Income Tax assessment under Schedule A were on the amount of the rent, exceeds the gross Schedule A assessment of the property, which in the Metropolitan area is the annual value appearing in the valuation list. As part of the normal procedure following the recent revaluation of the Metropolis, the Inspectors of Taxes generally were reminded of the statutory position.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the annual value of the property and profits assessed to Income Tax in the year ending 5th April, 1926, in England, Scotland, and Wales (including Monmouthshire), respectively, showing the amounts separately under each schedule?

As explained in the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Pontypridd on the 9th December last, the present statistics of the Income Tax do not distinguish Wales separately from England. The latest year for which particulars for England (including Wales) and Scotland are available is 1924–25 and, with the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving the figures for that year.

Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that in pre-War years the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to give the information asked for?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable dissatisfaction in the Principality of Wales because we do not get separate figures in this way, which we did get in pre-War times? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to my question last December, gave a provisional promise that he would consider the proposal for the present financial year.

I do not know about that promise. I have no doubt there may be dissatisfaction in Wales over this and other matters.

Fallowing is the table promised:

Schedule.Actual Income assessed to Income Tax, 1924–25.
England (including Wales).Scotland.
E (Manual Wage Earners).295,654,51545,354,844
E (other Assessments).593,372,04049,513,669
Total (excluding Schedule C).2,032,583,565210,803,732
Schedule C£135,403,139 (Great Britain).

Notes.—1. Actual Income, means the statutory income of taxpayers, estimated in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Acts, excluding the income of individuals with a total income not exceeding the exemption limit, which for 1924–25 was £150 for earned income and £135 for investment income.

2. The interest and dividends coming in charge under Schedule C are assessed in London for the whole of Great Britain, and the amount payable to Scotland cannot be distinguished.

Entertainments Duty


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received any representations from the entertainment industry as to the fact that the Entertainments Duty is not levied upon places of public refreshment which give entertainment in conjunction with meals; and what steps he is proposing to take to remedy this inequality so long as the Entertainments Duty is in existence?

My right hon. Friend has received such representations in connection with a deputation from the entertainments industry which is to be received at the Treasury. For the rest, I cannot add anything to the reply given to my hon. Friend on the 31st March last.


Sutton By-Pass Road


asked the Minister of Transport if his attention has been drawn to the dangerous condition of the Sutton by-pass road; what representations, if any, he has made to the authorities concerned; and what action is being taken?

I am not aware that the sections of this by-pass which are open to traffic are in a dangerous condition, and I have not made any representations in the matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the majority of motorists, instead of using this by-pass road, go through Sutton, on account of the awful conditions of the by-pass road?

Probably the reason is that a temporary surface has been put on the road, as is usually the case, until the road consolidates; but in a short time, when a proper surface has been put on, the road will be all right.

When will the proper surface be put on? Motorists at present shun the road.

Railway Wagons, Hull


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the inconvenience and loss of trade which is being caused by the shortage of railway wagons at the port of Hull; and what steps he intends to take to remedy the repeated complaints that have been made by the traders of this city?

I am aware that there has been a shortage of wagons at Hull for the timber trade, and I have been in communication with the railway company on the subject. From recent information I have received it appears that the position has considerably improved.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is only since the railways have been amalgamated and placed under the control of his Department that these complaints have arisen?

No. It may be post hoc, but it is not propter hoc; it is not because of my Department, but owing to the general strike and the coal trade dispute.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that a great many telegraph poles are made in the Hull district and that they are for the General Post Office, and that great delay has been caused owing to the shortage of wagons and the inability of traders to obtain transport?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much of the delay is due to the private ownership of wagons, and would it not be likely to be reduced if there was a pooling of wagons?

That I cannot say. In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend., I would state that we do appreciate the position at Hull, and we are doing all that we can. I know it is a considerable inconvenience to the traders.

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by an improvement? On the 12th of this month one of the biggest importers could get only 60 per cent. of the wagons he required, and that sort of thing is general through the port.

The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) seems to be giving information, rather than asking for it.

Commercial Vehicles (Dangerous Driving)


asked the Minister of Transport how many drivers of commercial road vehicles were prosecuted for excessive speed and/or dangerous driving during 1926 and during January and February, l927; and how many were involved in fatal accidents during the same periods?

I have been asked to reply. The returns of prosecutions and, of accidents furnished to my Department for statistical purposes do not distinguish those concerning drivers of commercial road vehicles, so that I am not in a position to answer the question.


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that drivers of commercial road vehicles are often ordered to cover distances from point to point which necessitate an average speed of 35 miles per hour and over; and seeing that this entails dangerous speeds for heavily loaded vehicles, will he endeavour to deal with the question in such a manner as to prevent such speeds being ordered?

I have been asked to reply. So far as the Metropolitan Police District is concerned I am informed that, generally speaking, the police are not aware that drivers of any vehicles are ordered to drive at a speed which would be in excess of the limits allowed by the law, but if such cases were brought to their notice, necessary action would be taken against the person or persons responsible for giving such orders. There are occasionally cases, when the owner is present, in which there is evidence that the owner had ordered the driver to commit a breach of the law. In such cases the owner is prosecuted for aiding and abetting. If the hon. Member has any cases of an average speed of 35 miles an hour and if he will let me know, I will consider them very carefully.

The right hon. Gentleman has only replied in regard to the Metropolitan area, but my question deals with the country at large. Has he no further information?

No, Sir; I have not, and really there is nobody who has the information in regard to the rural districts or the non-Metropolitan areas unless the hon. Member were to apply to the Watch Committees. It is only the Metropolitan Police who are directly under the control of the Secretary of State, the others are under Watch Committees or Standing Joint Committees.

Explosion, Beaconsfield Road, W4


asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been called to the evidence and verdict at the inquest upon Mrs. Elizabeth Waterworth, of 1, Beaconsfield Road, W.4, who received fatal injuries in an explosion at this address; whether the gas which caused the explosion was evolved by the heating of the covering of certain adjacent electric cables in the road; and, if so, whether he has taken any steps to prevent such an occurrence in future?

I am advised by the Electricity Commissioners that there does not appear to be sufficient evidence that the explosion was in fact due to the breakdown of an electric main, but I am asking them to make further inquiries.

Will the right hon. Gentleman do all he can to press for a public inquiry into teat case so as to allay the great anxiety felt in the district in regard to this explosion?

I think I had better wait and hear the result of the further inquiries to be made by the Electricity Commissioners. If they are not satisfactory, I will consider what my hon. Friend suggests, namely, a public inquiry.


Amateur Transmitting Stations


asked the Postmaster-General the number of amateur broadcasting wireless stations there are in operation in Great Britain?

No amateur wireless station is authorised to undertake broadcasting. It is one of the conditions of the licences granted for experimental wireless stations that the stations shall not be used for general calls, or for sending news or other communications of a non-experimental character.

Have there been any prosecutions for broadcasting by amateur transmitting stations without a licence?

No, I think not. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a question.

British Broadcasting Corporation


asked the Postmaster-General how many meetings have been held by the governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation since their appointment?

Under the terms of their charter the British Broadcasting Corporation are required to furnish an annual report of their proceedings. They are not required to notify me of the dates or number of meetings they are holding, and I do not propose to ask them to do so.

Programmes (Publication)


asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the valuable press property being built up by a private firm as a result of the monopoly of broadcasting programmes and news supplied to the "Radio Times," he will consider the printing by, and publication from, the State printing works of broadcast programmes and news?

I understand that the British Broadcasting Corporation have made arrangements which they consider satisfactory for the printing and publication of the "Radio Times." The responsibility in this matter rests with the Corporation, and I do not propose to intervene.

Do the British Broadcasting Company get any monetary consideration in return for the very valuable news which they hand over to the proprietors of the "Radio Times"?

I do not follow the question. The British Broadcasting Company has ceased to exist and the "Radio Times" is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Receiving Licences (Hospitals)


asked the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that when in use in a hospital which is spread over a series of separate buildings each specific wireless receiving set, if separated in these separate buildings, has to have a separate licence, he will reconsider this Regulation?

The rule governing the use of wireless receiving sets in hospitals is that a single licence covers the installation of any number of receiving sets for general use in the main building; but separate licences are necessary for sets installed in other buildings, for example, in the private residential quarters of members of the staff. I am always prepared to give consideration to any case in which a strict application of the rule appears to work harshly.

Is it not obvious that this would impose hardship in the case of a hospital with several buildings; and does the right hon. Gentleman consider it reasonable that separate licences should be necessary in the case of a hospital?

I think it is quite reasonable to require separate licences in the case of residential quarters for each building.

But in the case of a hospital with segregated buildings a separate licence has to be taken out for each building, and is not that a hardship?

No. I have already explained that the rule does not so apply. The rule that there must be a separate licence to each block of buildings applies only to residential quarters.

May I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have received authentic information that it is not so?

Oscullation (Detection)


asked the Postmaster-General if he can give the House the number of cars made use of throughout the country for the detection of the source of oscillation caused by wireless sets; and whether there is any present intention to increase that number?

One car is in use at present, and a second car is on order.

Post Office

Puivate Branch Telephonists


asked the Postmaster-General how many telephone subscribers who have private branch exchanges in the London area have, during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date, availed themselves of the opportunity of having their private branch switchboard telephonists trained in telephone operating free of charge?