House Of Commons
Tuesday, 19th August, 1919.
The House met at Twelve of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Merchant Shipping (Losses)
Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 1st August; Lieut.-Colonel Burgoyne]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 199.]
Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 1st August; Lieut.-Colonel Burgoyne]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 200.]
Public Works (Ireland)
Copy presented of Eighty-seventh Annual Report of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, with Appendices, for the year ending 31st March, 1919 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Trade Boards Acts
Copy presented of Regulations, dated 12th August, 1919, made by the Minister of Labour under Section 11 of the Trade Boards Act, 1909, with respect to the constitution and proceedings of the Trade Board for the Tobacco Trade (Ireland) [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.
Intermediate Education (Ireland)
Copy presented of Revised Rules for the application of the additional sum of £50,000 granted by Parliament for Intermediate Education in Ireland [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907
Copy presented of Return giving particulars of cases in which persons have been reinstated with the assistance of the Estates Commissioners during the quarters ended 30th June, 1918, 30th September, 1918, 31st December, 1918, and 31st March, 1919 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Agricultural Prices (Ireland)
Return presented relative thereto [ordered 29th May; Major Newman]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 201.]
Shops Act, 1912
Copy presented of Closing Order made by the Council of the under-mentioned local authority, and confirmed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland:—
Town of Maryborough
[by Act]; to lie upon the Table.
Imprisonment Of A Member
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had received the following letter relating to the imprisonment of a Member:
General Headquarters, Ireland,
Parkgate, Dublin, 15th August, 1919.
I have the honour to report that on the 14th day of July, 1919, Mr. Pete Paul Galligan, M.P. for West Cavan, was arrested under a direction issued by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Ireland, and committed to Belfast Prison, there to await his trial by court-martial for offences under the Defence of the Realm Regulations.
Mr. Galligan has been tried by district court-martial at Belfast and sentenced to one year's imprisonment with hard labour for the following offences under the above Regulations:
The sentence has been duly confirmed, and the accused committed to prison.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
For General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Ireland.
The Right Honourable The Speaker,
House of Commans, London, S.W. 1.
Welsh Church (Temporalities) Bill
Message from the Lords: That they do not insist upon their Amendments to the Welsh Church (Temporalities) Bill to which this House has disagreed.
Oral Answers To Questions
Hotel Majestic, Paris
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the monthly payment made, or to be made, for the occupation of the Hotel Majestic, in Paris?
I have been asked to reply. The compensation paid by my Department to the owners of the Hotel Majestic, Paris, for the use of the hotel and its contents is at the rate of 7,870 francs per day.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Oversea Trade Department whether he is aware that the trade in cured herrings was on the increase with America before the out break of war; whether his attention has been called to the Report of the Fishery Board for Scotland, 1918 [Cd. 231], in which it is stated that with a view to encouraging and developing the trade it would be an advantage to have a Government official visiting the various large centres in Canada and the United States, and that efforts should be made to introduce cured herrings into China and Japan; and whether, in view of the importance to British trade and credit of increasing exports from the United Kingdom, he will take steps to carry out the recommendations contained in the Report?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. My attention had not previously been called to the Report of the Fishery Board for Scotland for 1918. I am now in communication with the Board on the subject of the recommendation referred to.
asked the Secretary of State for War how many German prisoners in our hands have yet been sent back to Germany; at what rate the evacuation is being effected; and are steps taken to see that those in a bad condition in France are sent back first?
In accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Peace, the general repatriation of German prisoners of war cannot be commenced until the Treaty is ratified. In the meantime, nearly all who are sick or incapacitated have already been sent back from this country and France. This will be continued until all such cases have been repatriated, but the speed with which this can be effected is dependent on suitable means of transport being available.
Machine Gun Corps (Private E Hewitt)
asked the Secretary for War whether he is aware that Private E. Hewitt, No. 156846, of the 29th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, a 1914 soldier, twice wounded, and due for de mobilisation, has been under arrest since 6th May awaiting court-martial for over staying his leave; whether there are many other cases in the Army of this sort of indefinite imprisonment without trial; and what steps can be taken to hasten this man's trial in particular?
Inquiries are being made, and the hon. and gallant Member will be informed of the result in due course.
Royal Fusiliers (Jewish Battalions)
asked whether the status of the Jewish battalions of the Royal Fusiliers now in Palestine has yet been decided; whether they are for general service or only for service in Palestine; whether 400 Jewish soldiers enlisted in the United States of America in these battalions will be allowed local demobilisation, as they request, instead of repatriation to America; and what are the rules regarding the local demobilisation of Jewish soldiers now in Palestine?
:The whole matter is under consideration, and it is hoped to arrive at a decision very shortly.
Department Of Military Intelligence
asked what was the numerical strength of the Department of Military Intelligence, officers, other ranks, and civilians, respectively, at Home and abroad on 1st July, 1914, on 1st November, 1918, and on list July, 1919; and how many of these officers, other ranks, and civilians, respectively, have been transferred to the Home Office since the Armistice?
The figures asked for in the first part of the question are as follows:—
|—||1st July, 1914.||1st Nov., 1918,||1st July, 1919.|
|Civilians (men and women)||44||5,525||783|
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the process of reducing this Intelligence Department is still going on, or have we reached the lowest limit?
Oh, no, it is still going on. The officers referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State the other day who arc engaged in the review of the foreign Press are also due for demobilisation.
Anti-Aircraft Gun Defences
asked the Secretary for War whether he will state the number of officers and men who are now employed in this country for anti aircraft gun defences?
The numbers employed in this country in connection with antiaircraft defences on the 11th August were: Officers, 273; other ranks, 2,319. The corresponding numbers on the 11th November, 1918, were: Officers, 717; other ranks, 11,948. The work of removing the equipment from stations that arc no longer required is in progress, and when this is completed the personel will be further reduced.
Surplus Army Stores (Textile Goods)
asked on what basis posit-war reserves of wool textiles and garments, including blankets, are estimated; what are these reserves; and what relation such reserves have to the quantities stated as being held in stock by the War Office?
The basis on which. reserves are estimated depends on the strength and composition of the Army of the future and its expansion on mobilisation, and as those matters are at present under consideration; it is impracticable yet to say what reserves will be required.
asked what quantity of the 5,451,858 yards of cloth declared surplus from the Armistice to 8th August consisted of greatcoat khaki, serge khaki, tartan khaki, and whipcord and Bedford cord, purchased for service dress, apart from the black, grey and other cloths included in the whole figure?
The quantities are as follows:
|Cloth Drab, Melton||…||5,378|
|Cloth Drab, Union||…||84,244|
|Cloth Drab, Waterproof||…||57|
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the approximate cost of the stocks held by the War Office as at 12th August, 1919, and the quantities declared surplus from the Armistice to 8th August of woollen textiles for service wear, including blankets and finished garments, hosiery, etc., already specified?
It would take a very considerable amount of time and labour to obtain this information, and, in view of the great pressure of work in the Department, I hope my hon. Friend will not press for the figures.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any means of disposing of these stocks or putting them upon the market for sale?
That is what we hope to do. As I said the other day, as soon as we have reached a conclusion as to the requirements of our post-war Army we shall be able to make a disposal of a very large quantity of this cloth. It will be disposed of by the Disposal Board.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication when the conclusion will be reached?
No, I am afraid I cannot say now.
Soldiers At Political Meetings
asked whether the permission granted to soldiers to attend political meetings has been withdrawn, and, if so, on what grounds?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the latter part does not, therefore, arise.
asked the Secretary for War whether, in order to obtain release on compassionate grounds in the case of proprietors of one-man businesses, a soldier must be deemed to have been the sole proprietor of the business for a consecutive period of at least twelve calendar months immediately previous to the date on which he joined the Colours; that he must be-over thirty years of age at the date of the application, and that he must have joined for immediate service on or before 1st January, 1917; and will he state whether a soldier is entitled to release in the event of the death of a parent owning such business and leaving the son the sole proprietor thereof?
The conditions for release of one-man business proprietors on compassionate grounds are correctly stated by my hon. and gallant Friend, but those conditions do not apply to a soldier who, owing to the death of a parent, becomes the sole proprietor of such a business. The possibility of extending the conditions of release on business grounds to cover cases such as the one referred to is at present under consideration.
General Officers (Home And Oversea)
asked the Secretary for War how many generals, and of what rank, are now employed both at home and overseads; how many general officers have been told to go on leave on half-pay without any further information as to whether their services in future are likely to be required or not; how many corps, division, brigade, lines of communication, and base staffs, either up to establishment or on a reduced establishment, are in the various Army areas at home and oversea; and if steps can be at once taken to inform officers for ho v much longer their services are likely to be required in order that they may make necessary arrangements?
The number of general officers employed at home and oversea is: Generals, 8; lieutenant-generals, 27; major-generals, 122; brigadier-generals, 488. The number of generals on half-pay is: Generals, 8; lieutenant-generals, 25; major-generals, 49. These officers have not yet been informed whether their services will be required or not, but they will be informed as soon as the appointments to the after-war Army have been decided. Establishments arc in process of being re- duced but it is not possible to forecast the period for which each officer's services are likely to be required. As regards the third part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question, this information is being obtained, and I will write to him shortly on the subject.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the generals have acting rank do they get the pay of acting rank?
I do not think generals do get acting rank. An officer will only get the pay of acting rank if they are performing the duty.
Can the staffs of the 488 brigadier-generals be allowed to be demobilised because of these 488 brigadier-generals 50 per cent. have a staff with them?
That question is being examined and very closely watched now, and I hope some definite conclusions may be reached within the next few days.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how 488 brigadier-generals are now being employed?
Obviously, I cannot do that without notice.
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether it has been definitely decided not to grant any increase on Service pensions?
An announcement on the whole subject will be made shortly.
Will it be during the Recess?
Yes. As soon as the Government have reached a decision they will announce it forthwith.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it will be a negative decision?
I cannot say anything about it. But I should think my hon. Friend would be safe in assuming that the same treatment would be meted out to the Army as has been meted out to the Navy.
Voluntary Aid Detachment (Nursing Staff)
asked the financial Secretary to the War Office whether Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing members who have worked in military hospitals receive gratuity; whether Voluntary Aid Detachment general service members working in the same hospitals receive no gratuity; whether, if a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse has served any part of her time as a general service member, she is debarred from gratuity; and whether he can revise these anomalies?
The facts arc as stated, except that a nurse is not debarred from gratuity on her service as such by reason of previous service in a non-professional capacity. The nursing members receive gratuity because they are part of the nursing service; the general service members receive, instead, furlough and out-of-work donation on termination on the same lines as members of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. It is not proposed to make any change.
asked the Pensions Minister whether he is aware that in the case of two boys going to Greenwich Hospital School, the one the son of a sailor who is still alive, and the other the son of a sailor who has been killed, the first obtains his education free, whereas the Ministry of Pensions takes away from the widow the 5s. per week she gets for her boy; and whether, since this hardship is inflicted under Article 2 of the Royal Warrant and Order in Council, ho will procure a fresh Order in Council which is not oppressive to the widows of those who have fallen in the War?
The allowance given in respect of the child of a deceased soldier or sailor is intended for its maintenance, and if the State is already maintaining the child, whether in the Army or Navy, or an institution supported by public funds, the allowance is reduced or suspended, so that there may not be double payment. This appears to be a proper provision, and my right hon. Friend does not consider that an amendment of the Article is necessary.
Does it not amount to a discrimination that the active sailor who is still alive gets his son educated free, while the widow whose husband has been killed has 5s. a week deducted?
No, my hon. and gallant Friend is putting the cart before the horse. You cannot expect an allowance twice over for the same service, and, as there is the difference which I have pointed out between the two cases, the practice described is followed. My hon. and gallant Friend will gather that in future children's allowances will be much in favour of the class for which he is now speaking.
Army Pay Clerks
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether in creases of wages of 10s. per week to men and 5s. per week to women have recently been granted to temporary Government clerks; if so, whether Army Pay Corps clerks have participated in this advance; and, if not, whether he will give instructions that the advance will be extended to them in view of the increase in the cost of living since their present wages were fixed?
Increases, as stated, have recently been given to the clerks in the Headquarter Offices of Public Departments under an arrangement which does not apply to clerks in Army offices such as pay offices. The wages in these latter offices are in course of review.
Salvage Work (France And Belgium)
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he can give the approximate cost to the War Office of the military and civilian labour engaged upon salvage work in France and Belgium between 1lth November, 1918, and 31st March, 1919, and the average monthly cost from that date; whether the military authorities are satisfied that the net result to be expected from the sale of much of the material salved, after collection and cost of transportation, maintenance, and protection is considered, will entail an actual loss to the country; and whether a good deal of the work of clearing the ground of shells and other litter can be now undertaken by the French authorities, in order to save this country needless expense and to permit the bulk of the-100,000 men in France and Belgium being released from military service and the attendant costs of administration dispensed with?
In reply to the first part of the question, I am attempting to collect the necessary data for an approximate estimate. With regard to the other points raised, I can add nothing to what my right lion. Friend said in Debate on the 12th instant.
:Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether a lot of the men involved in this question are simply fooling about doing nothing at all, and would not it be well to get rid of them and have them demobilised?
If the situation were really such as is described by my hon. Friend it would be very desirable to do-what he suggests.
Have any representations been made by the Quartermaster-General at the War Office to the effect that, in view of the cost of labour and maintenance, the obtaining of these surplus salvage materials in France has not paid according to the prices obtained by the Ministry of Munitions, and have representations been made by responsible officers of the War Office?
The whole thing has been very closely examined by the Government. Obviously it is not a question to be considered by one Department alone. No credit is given to Army funds in respect of sales of material.
:Is it not a fact that the Government of the United States four weeks ago concluded an arrangement with the French Government whereby, for a lump sum, the French Government took over all American stores in France and undertook to clear them up and enable the American troops to be at once demobilised?
I cannot answer as to arrangements made between the French and the American Governments.
Is it not a case of paying ninepence for fourpence?
If that be the case I hope there will be other advantages besides the purely financial advantages.
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the question himself, and see whether it is not possible to make some such arrangement as that which has been made between the French and the American Governments?
I have been going into it closely myself during the last few days.
Is it a fact that many officers are hanging on to their jobs in France, and as long as they are able will continue to do so, and that meantime they are keeping staffs there unnecessarily?
That is another aspect of the problem which has not escaped my notice.
Is it not true that the only advantage derived from this business is that it is keeping a lot of idlers in jobs?
Oh, dear me, no! The Ministry of Munitions confidentially expect to realise an enormous sum by the selling of surplus material.
Army (Conditions Of Service)
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is now in a position to announce the' new conditions of pay and pension for the Army; whether he is aware that the delay in making public the terms of future service with the Army is the cause of officers resigning whose continued service in the Army is much to be desired; and what has been the reason for the delay in publishing these figures and terms, since it has been repeatedly stated that the War Office Committee had reached a decision find had obtained Treasury approval?
These matters are under the consideration of His Majesty's Government, and I am not yet in a position to make an announcement, though I hope to do so very shortly. I am not aware of the statements referred to in the last part of the question.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a largo number of officers have made arrangements for taking houses on next quarter day, and that if this announcement is held up very much longer they will not be able to carry out those arrangements, and can he give an assurance that some such announcement will be made before the end of this month?
I cannot say more than that an announcement will be made as soon as a definite decision is reached. No one is more anxious than the Army Council and myself that a decision should be come to with the least possible delay.
Is it the intention of the Treasury to economise on the Army by maintaining officers' pay at a very low rate after the Navy and the Air Service have been dealt with?
It is not a question for the Treasury. It is a question for the Government to decide, and the Government are deciding it.
Ministry Of Pensions (Edinburgh Office)
asked the Pensions Minister whether he can state how many Scotsmen and how many Englishmen have obtained employment in the Edinburgh office of the Ministry?
In the Scottish Regional Headquarters at Edinburgh there are 125 Scotsmen and five Englishmen. And there are still many Scotsmen in the Ministry outside Scotland.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how the five Englishmen got in?
By superior ability.
Scottish Fisheries Commissioners
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the Scottish Fisheries Committee have issued their final Report, or whether instructions have been given for its publication and circulation in the same way as the two previous Interim Reports issued by the Committee?
I assume that my hon. and gallant Friend refers to the final Report of the Freshwater Fisheries Committee which I appointed in 1917. I have received the Report and the question of publication is receiving my consideration.
Is there any truth in the rumour that it is not intended to publish it?
I have not heard the rumour, and I do not think that it has any foundation in fact.
Food Supplies (Vegetables)
asked the Food Controller if he is aware that vegetables are going to rot in fields within twenty miles of London; if he is aware that it is a waste of both labour and produce; if he will take steps to prevent such waste by taking over by the Government such produce and retail such vegetables to the consumer in London and utilise some of the Government lorries to convey the same to the markets; and if he will also take similar steps to procure fruit and retail it, which to-day is being sold from l½d. to 4d. per 1b. (apples), retailed at 9d. per lb., plums 1d. and 2½d., sold by retailer at 10d. and 1s. per lb.?
Rumours of this description are constantly reaching my Department, but in the majority of cases they are found to be wholly or mainly untrustworthy. If my hon. Friend has any definite information in his possession and will convey it to me, I will cause the promptest inquiries to be made. I may add that apples are now being sold at from 3d. to 5d. per lb., and plums at from 4d. to 8d., and I do not propose to take over the crops as suggested by the hon. Member.
Land Settlement (Ex-Service Men)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if he will state the number of demobilised soldiers resettled upon the land and in what capacity?
No complete figures are available as to the total number of demobilised soldiers who have resettled on the land, but 222 ex-Service men have been settled on the Board's farm settlements, and 563 ex-Service men have been provided with small holdings by county councils or the councils of county boroughs.
Does that include men who have been settled on poultry farms?
It includes all kinds of smallholders.
How many of the 222 are, settled as smallholders and how many are on probation?
I could not give those figures without notice.
Not even approximately?
No; I would very much sooner not make a guess, but will send the actual figures to my hon. Friend if he wishes.
I should be very much obliged.
Disposal Board Sales
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether he was aware that by the direction of the Disposal Board silk sewings which originally cost 18s. per lb. were offered for sale in Leeds at 24s. per lb.; that silk sewings which originally cost 20s. per lb. were offered for sale in Leeds at 28s. and 29s. per lb.; and whether he would take the necessary steps to prevent this profiteering by the Government?
The facts are generally as stated in the first two parts of the question. There is no Government monopoly of these materials, and the selling prices referred to are based on the current market values, with a bare margin to cover the heavier handling charges incurred in offering the material in small lots, for the benefit of the small purchaser. The question of profiteering does not arise. It is the duty of the Disposal Board to secure the highest prices for the National Exchequer and to take advantage of favourable markets.
Are we to assume that the Government regard 40 per cent. profit as not profiteering?
There is no profiteering here. It would be a very egregious thing if we were to sell the taxpayers' property at less than its value.
Blandford (Government Railway)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions to state the cost to the State in laying and constructing the railway to Blandford and the total cost of taking persons and material to and from Blandford; and what it would have cost the State to have taken persons and material over a similar distance on any of the privately-owned rail ways?
:I have been asked to answer this question. I am informed that the net cost of the construction of the railway to Blandford (after deducting receipts from plant sold and traffic during construction) was £59,877. The line was handed over to the Railway Executive Committee on 1st July, 1919, by whom it has been since managed As to the remainder of the question, I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.
Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether a commission on the sale of food and non-intoxicating liquors was paid to all managers of licensed premises in the Carlisle area under the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic); and, if so, whether he would supply a list of the licensed premises selling liquor for consumption on the premises in the city of Carlisle and state the amount which the commission on the sale of food and temperance drinks yielded to each manager in the year 1918?
:In most of the houses under the direct control of the Board, both in Carlisle and in the surrounding district, a commission on the sale of food and non-intoxicants is given to the Board's managers, in some cases the manager being allowed the whole of the profit on the sale of food. My hon. Friend will find par- ticulars on the subject in the fourth Report of the Board and in the Report of the Board's general manager for the Carlisle and district area for 1918, both of which have been published as Parliamentary Papers (Cd. 9055 and Cmd. 137). I am sending my hon. Friend copies.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what was the net profit made in the Carlisle area for 19181?
I do not carry the figures in my mind, but the result can be found in the Report.
May I ask why Carlisle continues to be the subject of exceptional experiments in this behalf. Is the hon. Gentleman aware what a dreary place they have made of it?
My experience does not correspond with that of my hon. Friend. I have found it a rather cheerful neighbourhood.
What is the reason for continuing to make Carlisle the subject of continual experiments, to which other places are not subjected?
The experiment at Carlisle has proved to be successful. The general question of the policy to be followed in this area will be dealt with when the Government's general policy with regard to the liquor traffic is decided.
Is Carlisle a kind of corpus vile on which experiments arc to be tried with a view of subsequent application to the rest of the country?
This experiment at Carlisle has been going on for four years.
Demobilised Miners (Employment)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he was aware of the number of miners who had been demobilised from the Army, Navy, and munition works, and the number of such demobilised miners who had been found employment in the coal mines of this country since the Armistice was signed in November last; whether he would issue a statement showing the same progressively month by month, commencing December, 1918, and afterwards for each month, respectively, up to and including July of this year; and whether he could indicate at the same time the percentage of such miners who were physically unable to follow their employment every day the pit was open for work?
The number of miners demobilised from the Army, Navy, and Air Force respectively, up to 14th August, 1919, is:
London County Council Schemes
asked the Minister of Health what housing schemes the London County Council had now in hand; and the approximate number of houses being built at present, and the respective districts in which they were situated?
Schemes for the erection of 650 houses at Hammersmith and eighty-one houses at Norbury have been fully approved by the Ministry of Health, and I understand that work will begin at Hammersmith on Monday next. I am informed that the tender for the houses at Norbury has been withdrawn, and that new tenders are to be asked for at once. Plans for block dwellings to accommodate about 500 people at Tabard Street were approved by the Ministry of Health about six weeks ago, and the county council hope to go to tender for these buildings very shortly. A site of 147 acres at Roehampton, to be used partly for housing purposes has been approved by the Ministry of Health, but the plans for the lay-out of the site and design of the houses have not yet been laid before the Ministry. I understand that the council have other proposals before them, but these have not yet been submitted.
May I ask whether, when the Minister is sanctioning schemes for housing, he has any record or details of the financial obligations which fall upon the country arising out of the scheme?
Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.
The House went, and, having returned,
reported the Royal Assent to:
Adjourned at Seventeen minutes before One o'clock.