HC Deb 11 June 1907 vol 175 cc1277-308

2. £4,060,000, Supplies and Clothing.

SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester shire, Forest of Dean)

asked what had been done with regard to the ventilation of the Army Clothing Factory.


said that the recommendations of certain scientific experts, who had been consulted, had modified to a certain degree the proposals of the Home Office. These recommendations had been carried out, and the result had been vastly to improve the condition of the atmosphere in the factory.

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

asked whether periodical readings were taken of the state of the atmosphere.




Are they taken by officers from the War Office, or by officers from the Home Office?


They are regularly taken by a medical officer.

Vote agreed to.

3. Motion made, and Question pro posed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,671,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge for Armaments and Engineer Stores, including Technical Committees, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908."

*MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)

said that not alone the Army but much more the Navy was concerned with the question he intended to raise, but they had the advantage of being answered in connection with the Army by a Cabinet Minister who was a great authority on explosives, having served for years on the Explosives Committee. It was important to bear in mind in discussing this Vote in reference to explosions of cordite in the Navy that the same cordite was used in the Army. He proposed to instance a few cases of spontaneous combustion which affected the cordite used by the Army. The question was an extremely serious one, and it was far more serious than the cordite question raised in 1895, which resulted in turning out the Government of that date. There had been many explosions of late, and many disasters with smokeless powders in other navies; and therefore he thought the attitude they ought to adopt was that suggested by Bismarck, who took as his maxim in such matters that for the defence of any country it was the duty of the Government to provide the Army and Navy with the best weapons of offence and defence that money could procure. The Government would be judged by the way they grappled with this question and by the way they showed their determination to provide the Navy and the Army with the most efficient cordite without regard to the expense, so long as the safety of the lives of the men was endangered. Of course the Government could not be held responsible for the spontaneous explosions that had taken place either afloat or on shore. They could not be responsible for the cases of spontaneous explosion which occurred on the "Fox," at Woolwich, and in the two land magazines in India during the last ten months. They could not be liable for explosions which had occurred owing to the absence of refrigerating machinery up to the time they took office. It was well known that cordite was a thing which was bound to deteriorate with storage or if the temperature got above 70° F. Consequently there was a great necessity for the immediate introduction of refrigerating machinery. The Government could not be held responsible for the fact that a quantity of an adulterated explosive or doctored cordite had been seized at Messrs. Kynoch's, because they could not have anticipated that any firm in this country would have attempted to introduce into an explosive an ingredient which would have the effect of masking the heat test which was the only test that stood between safety and the destruction of our men on shore. It was universally admitted that chloride of mercury masked the heat test; in fact this had already been conceded by the Government. In reply to a question whether the Explosives Act had been contravened by Kynoch, Ltd., adding mercuric chloride which enabled the explosive to defeat the official test, so that it might be in a state of decomposition and yet be passed as satisfactory, the representative of the Government said — The addition of even a very minute quantity of mercuric chloride to an explosive of this class does defeat the official test in the manner stated." That was to say, the cordite might be in a state of decomposition, and yet it would pass the test as satisfactory. The Secretary of State for War had also acknowledged that there was nothing in the researches of the Explosives Committee, in evidence over a period of seven years' investigation, and nothing in the report of that Committee which in any way justified a firm in adding mercuric chloride to cordite. That the Government considered the situation a very serious one had been shown by their vigilance in seizing all the explosives containing chloride of mercury. He understood that about sixty-five tons of adulterated cordite were lying at Woolwich and more elsewhere which had been seized. He wished to remind the Committee that what had been seized were new explosives which had not undergone any deterioration through high temperature and long storage. They were therefore far safer than those which the guilty firms had already passed into our ships say three or four years ago. The Government had stated their view in regard to this matter through the Home Secretary, who had said — I have arranged with my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War for the sub mission to a conference of experts of the question whether it is possible consistently with the public safety to deal with the seized explosive in any other manner than by destruction. That was to say they were considering the advisability of dealing in this way with new explosives which had not undergone any deterioration through storage or through high temperatures, and they thought the position was so serious that it was necessary to appoint a Committee of experts to consider whether they should destroy this adulterated cordite or deal with it in some other way, and all this time there remained both afloat and ashore cordite which had been doctored by mercuric chloride, which defeated all tests to which it had been subjected, lying in storage perhaps for five, six or seven years. So long as it remained there, he would press to know whether the Government proposed to withdraw it. He understood that mercuric chloride had been added by Messrs. Kynoch and the National Explosives Company and one other firm. He omitted to mention the third firm as it was some years ago with German mitro cotton of which the firm were unaware that it had been treated with mercuric chloride. Had instructions been given to put this untested cordite containing mercuric chloride in safe places where it would not be a danger to the lives of soldiers and sailors? They all knew that cordite and smokeless powders became dangerous after lying in storage and in hot temperatures. There had been an explosion on the '' Revenge '' arising from cordite which was only five years old, and which had been on board only four years. In the case of the "Fox" explosion the cordite was eight years old, and had only been on board for two years. That showed that even with good explosives there was great danger which could only be guarded against by frequent testt. Suppose mercuric chloride had been added, then the heat test would have been rendered useless, and if that ex plosive were put in very hot magazines it might deteriorate so rapidly as to cause explosions such as those which occurred on board the French battleship. That showed the seriousness of the situation. There had been two explosions in land magazines in India, and to show the necessity of the Government's being perfectly candid in this matter he would recall to the mind of the Secretary of State for War a question which he addressed to him in this House not long ago. The hon. Member for Norwood asked whether there had been any spontaneous explosions in land magazines during the year 1906, and the answer given to that question was a little misleading. The right hon. Gentle man said — There had been no explosions in land magazines under the control of the War Office. Now as the magazines in India were land magazines though not under the control of the War Office, he contended that that answer was somewhat misleading. At any rate it was the War Office that conducted the inquiry into the causes of the explosions in land magazines in India. Subsequently he asked a question whether it was not true that there had been two explosions in land magazines in India, and the answer returned was in the affirmative. Hon. Members were aware of the circumstances under which an explosion occurred on board the ''Revenge'' and on board the "Fox," and the Government stated that they were not due to deterioration. With regard to the "Revenge," he traversed the Government's statement altogether, because that cordite had given a very bad heat test and the only safe course was to throw it overboard. With regard to the cordite on the ''Fox'' the Government said — It is supposed that the cause was high temperature acting on a weak spot in the cartridge. It seemed quite absurd to talk about weak spots in a cartridge, for that was something which would only excite the merriment of midshipmen afloat. It was quite certain that cordite did not explode unless it had deteriorated or decomposed and it was this decomposition that of course produced so called weak spots. The reason why he asked who were the makers of the cordite which exploded in the land magazine in India and in the "Fox" was very obvious. It was necessary to show that even good cordite exploded if kept for a certain time, or subjected to high temperatures. There was no suggestion of mercuric chloride in connection with the "Fox" and the Indian explosions, for the cordite was manufactured at the Government establishment at Waltham Abbey, and why the Government should have re fused to give the name of the maker passed his comprehension. The real truth of the matter was that there could be no reflection whatever on the makers when the cordite was from five to eight years old. The argument was clear. If that cordite had been subjected to the heat test a short time be fore, its dangerous state would have been detected and the ship never have been within an ace of destruction. On the other hand the Kynoch cordite with mercuric chloride would, even if deteriorated, appear perfectly good under the heat test. That was why he pressed the Government for a statement that they would bring about immediately the withdrawal of the doctored cordite afloat and ashore. The "Fox" explosion occurred on 31st October, 1906. The representatives of the War Office went out, and, he believed, they brought home samples of the cordite. The next explosion they heard of in this country was the disastrous one at Woolwich. It did a great deal of damage, and £25,000 had to be paid in compensation. He was prepared to state on high authority that the samples of cordite which were brought home from the "Fox" were stored in the magazine of the research laboratory at Woolwich, and that it was this cordite which exploded there on 11th February last. The explosions which he had instanced showed the extraordinary danger of trifling with this question of cordite ashore and afloat. The hon. Member for Norwood had asked whether a Report would be presented to the House concerning the explosion at Woolwich. It was most important that they should know all the facts about that explosion, and he desired to impress on the Secretary of State for War that they should be taken fully into the confidence of the Government, and that the Report of the committee of experts should be given to the House. He maintained that the reticence in the matter was in all probability due to the fact that it was known that the cordite which was in the research magazine was the same kind of cordite which had exploded spontaneously on board the "Fox." The explosion on board the "Fox" and the explosions in the land magazines in India were warnings which came to them when the Estimates were being framed in October. Then came the Woolwich explosion on 11th February before the Estimates were submitted to the House. With the warnings afforded by those explosions alone, apart from all others in foreign navies, the Government ought to have realised the absolute necessity of introducing very liberal Estimates when dealing with this question. Another warning which threw suspicion on the cordite manufactured by Messrs. Kynoch was the explosion which took place in a mine in Wales in February, 1906. The suspicion of the Home Office be came a certainty then —and the War Office should have known of it —that the illegal treatment of explosives was being carried out by this firm which had obtained the bulk of the contracts of the War Office and the Admiralty, and which had been supplying both branches of the Service for many years past. That fact alone should have warned the Government of the necessity of having liberal Estimates in connection with cordite this year, When the suspicion had become an absolute certainty in connection with the cordite supplied by Messrs. Kynoch, he found that on 12th March MR. Gold, manager of the high explosives department of that firm, stated that Messrs. Kynoch always added mercuric chloride to their explosives. It was true that in the following month the manager of the factory at Arklow stated that it was only added to their mining explosives, a statement which might be explained by the fact that the Arklow works gave up making cordite about seven years ago. All these things had happened long before the time when the Government appointed a Committee to inquire, and it was clearly the duty of the Government to bring in a Supplementary Estimate in order to provide cordite to replace the deteriorated cordite ashore, and also to replace the doctored stuff which had been bought from Messrs. Kynoch and the National Explosives Company, the other company which used mercuric chloride in its manufacture. It was three months since Messrs. Kynoch's manager admitted that mercuric chloride was used in the manufacture of cordite, and yet the Government had not produced a Supplementary Estimate or ordered the destruction or withdrawal of the dangerous stuff still in the magazines. From an examination of the combined Estimates of the Army and Navy, he found that on ammunition, explosives, and projectiles, the reduction amounted to £651,000, or 31 per cent. on the total. The Committee would remember that this was a reduction on the reduced amount voted last year. He must protest against the economies which were preached in certain newspapers and the argument that because one Government had carried out a reduction another Government was justified in carrying it further. That was a doctrine which would justify the piling up of the load on the camel's back on the ground that if it could carry one load it could carry more. There was no justification for such a huge reduction. The argument which he had advanced might now be summarised. If cordite not treated with mercuric chloride spontaneously exploded, as in the cases he had given, there was far greater reason for taking special care with cordite which had been doctored and which they could not possibly test. It ought to be with drawn at once. We had had lessons enough from foreign navies. In the case of the "Iéna" the French Government were given repeated warnings by experts; the Mexican battleship "Aquidaban" was lost through spontaneous combustion of cordite; there was evidence to show that the "Maine" explosion was due to the same cause of spontaneous combustion; and the explosion on the Japanese battle ship "Mikasa" had been attributed by a commission of the Japanese Diet to cordite supplied by a British firm. He happened to know that the cordite which exploded on the "Mikasa" was cordite containing chloride of mercury and supplied by Kynoch's. Shortly before that explosion the heat test had been tried, and the cordite responded perfectly. That was inevitable, because the chloride of mercury effectually masked the heat test. That was an accident which might happen at any moment with the untested cordite now in our own magazines. The Japanese report was a great reflection on British cordite firms, and therefore it could not be too soon known that the Government repudiated the action of those firms which had been adding mercuric chloride and thereby endangering all our battleships, cruisers, and land magazines where that cordite was stored. There had only been four teen years experience of smokeless powders. They were introduced into the Service for the first time in 1892. There had been a certain amount of research work on the part of the Ex plosives Committee, but there had not been the effectual test of long storage in hot magazines. On the other hand, there was only the negative experience of explosions which had occurred, and which showed that cordite could not stand long storage in heat. There was the utmost need for the greatest possible caution in dealing with smokeless powder. Another reason why the Government should act at once, viz., that they could not make up for a lack of cordite on the outbreak of war. A twelve-inch cordite cartridge, after it had been made, had to undergo a three months drying process; therefore it was perfectly evident that cordite could not be replaced quickly if the present supply was destroyed. With regard to the proportion of Kynoch cordite in the two services he could not reconcile the two answers given by the Government. The Admiralty stated that no figures were available to enable them to answer with anything approaching accuracy the Questions put in the House. The War Office, on the other hand, had declared that it would not be in the public interest to answer the Questions and to give the information. From those two answers it appeared that the War Office did know the amount, and therefore the Admiralty must know as well. He was not using exaggerated language when he declared that the present crisis was far more serious than the crisis of 1895, which concerned the Army only, whereas this crisis affected the Navy far more than the Army; and it was an occasion for a full and frank disclosure and for the fearless spending of almost any sum. A Supplementary Estimate ought to be introduced this year rather than next year, and it was absurd to suppose that the money could be provided by surpluses from other Votes which were acknowledged to have been cut down to the lowest limits consistent with safety. Therefore, he asked the Government to make a statement which would allay all anxiety on this question, and which would, show that they were taking action to prevent all possibility of disaster by cordite both in land magazines and in those afloat. He begged to move the reduction of the vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,670,900, be granted for the said Service." —(MR. Bellairs.)


thought his hon. friend the Member for Lynn Regis had been well justified in raising this vitally important question. No subject ought to produce more uneasiness in the mind of the House of Commons than one in which an idea was involved that there might be, not only in our land magazines but, what was much worse, in our ships at sea, large stores of dangerous material which would not only destroy the most valuable property of the nation, but, worse still, possibly destroy numerous human lives. Therefore, it was right that this question should be probed to the bottom, and it was the more necessary because irregularities had recently come to light which had caused doubts as to the quality of the cordite supplied by various firms. He was not there to speak for the Admiralty; he would let them speak for themselves; but for Army purposes he might say that this matter had received close attention for some time past, and they had ample stores of cordite to replace all about which suspicion had been entertained. The matter had been receiving attention for some time past, and the War Office stood to-day in a position which enabled them to know as nearly as was practicable what they were about. He said "as nearly as was practicable" because it was a very difficult subject. He under stood from the speech of his hon. friend the Member for Lynn Regis, that the Government should destroy all cordite in the preparation of which mercuric chloride was used. He thought that there lay at the bottom of the hon. Gentleman's argument a fallacy. Mercuric chloride did not in any way affect cordite. It did not make it more dangerous. What it did do was to mask the use of the heat test. If that were so, it became necessary to subject all cordite in which the presence of mercuric chloride was discovered to close examination by means of other tests. The course the Government had taken was that they had stopped the use of all cordite in which there was any trace of mercuric chloride, and they were taking stringent steps as regarded cordite about which there was any suspicion, to subject it to a different heat test from that to which cordite was ordinarily subjected, one which mercuric chloride could not mask, and, above all, in cases where there was the least doubt, to apply a more vigilant test which mercuric chloride could not mask.


asked where these tests were being carried out.


said that they were being carried out wherever they had the cordite. They had taken care to earmark all cordite, and no cordite about which there was any suspicion would be made available for use until it had passed the test. Wherever cordite was under suspicion they had laid an embargo upon its use until tested. He was sure the House would desire the fullest information to be given. The House was entitled to be taken in to the confidence of the Government. The reticence about the Woolwich explosion had nothing whatever to do with mercuric chloride. The Govern- ment had there samples of certain ex plosives which it was thought might put us ahead of other nations, but these samples had now, unfortunately, disappeared into space. He could assure the Committee that the cordite which was at Woolwich was not cordite which came from Kynoch's, but cordite from Waltham Abbey, which had gone out to India and there become dubious; it was there for the very purpose of being subjected to investigation. The reason why he was reticent about the Woolwich magazine was that the Government did not wish to go into the details of what was stored there at the time of the explosion. He did not want to go into the consideration of questions of chemistry, but his hon. friend had referred to the action of this compound, which was one of the fastest of explosives, and also to the action of black powder. In black powder the particles of carbon, and the atoms of oxygen which were in combination with something else, lay side by side. These two substances side by side were very stable, and when the flash ignited the powder, the oxygen was freed, and had to travel a certain space, very small, and unite with the carbon, and they had a slow explosion and a great deal of smoke. Nitro-glycerine and gun-cotton, which were the ingredients of cordite, had wholly different properties. In gun-cotton and nitro-glycerine the atoms of oxygen and carbon lay together in one very complex molecule. The atoms of oxygen, when released, rushed very quickly to the carbon and produced a tremendous explosion. The result was that all these explosives were by nature dangerous. It was quite true that black powder, on the other hand, was a safe explosive, but the black powder was feeble and emitted smoke, and any nation which used it would be out of it with other nations. They had, therefore, to deal with chemical problems in order to do what they could to tame the dangerous explosives. The discovery of the means by which to tame these explosives was a very remarkable one. The nitro-glycerine and the gun-cotton had been found to be capable of being rolled together under heat, mixed together with a solvent, and so incorporated that they made a kind of paste which would roll into a gelatinised form and assume a character which made them safe to handle and, which was much more important, safe to burn and capable of burning slowly. The process of kneading them together and making them into a horny substance made them perfectly safe, unless they changed their character, and it gave them a quality which remained for some time unchanged. He did not know whether hon. Members realised how perfectly safe a thing cordite was when it was in proper condition. He used at one time to take a great interest in these subjects, and served on the Explosives Committee. He then had a walking-stick made of cordite with which he came many times to that House. It stood safely in the cloak-room for a long time; he observed a judicious reticence about it, and there was nothing in its appearance to cause apprehension. This method of taming cordite and making it a slow-burning but very powerful ex plosive was a great discovery of modern science. But, of course, this substance had to be closely watched lest it should get away from the tame condition to which it had been brought by incorporation and the action of the solvent, and go back to its original character. Consequently it had to be subjected to a very careful test to see that it was in a right condition. All powders of whatever description in which the carbon and oxygen were in the same molecule were prone to deteriorate, particularly under heat. To some extent also the nitrogen compounds might be given off, and might assume by contact with the atmosphere the shape of nitrous acid or nitric acid. In that way reactions might be caused in the powder, making these bad spots and developing heat which might cause local explosions that were communicated to the whole mass. The result was that they had to test in the very closest fashion to see whether the cordite was properly made, and not only so, but they had to test after certain intervals to see whether it had not deteriorated. He said, therefore, that the very best cordite made by the best process could not be trusted if exposed for a prolonged period to an unduly high temperature. That was why they were so careful about the magazines of ships, because in a hot climate like India there was danger, and also in an unduly cold climate, where the nitro-glycerine was frozen out. All cordite, therefore, was subjected to the Abel heat test, to set free and disintegrate the nitrogen compounds of which he had spoken. Very elaborate and delicate tests were made by means of fine tissue paper steeped in starch which was so exposed at a given temperature to the action of the fumes from the cordite that it would show certain lines, according as the fumes were given off abnormally quickly or normally, just as they should under the high temperature at which the test was conducted. Now, mercuric chloride had the property of preventing the giving off of the nitrous compounds, it interfered in a fashion which made it impossible for the test to act properly. The Abel heat test, which was the one they generally used, was the standard test for British cordite. The Abel heat test, which depended on the starch paper being affected by the emanations given off from the cordite under heat, was masked by the mercuric chloride, which prevented the emanations from being given off. Coming to the point which had been much discussed, could it be said that the mercuric chloride was useful in cordite, or served any other purpose than masking the heat test? He emphatically said no. He quite agreed that in the case of gun-cotton, on the contrary, mercuric chloride was used for a useful purpose. Gun-cotton, unlike gelatinised cordite, was not a hard, horny substance, but had an open texture. Like everything else easily accessible to the atmosphere, it was apt to be ravaged by bacilli, which formed a fungus that destroyed the gun-cotton. Mercuric chloride, which was a very fine antiseptic, destroyed the bacilli and prevented the fungoid growth. The nature of cordite, however, excluded these fungoid growths, and there was no excuse for using mercuric chloride as an antiseptic in cordite. In the case of cordite there was one purpose only for which, in the opinion of his advisers, mercuric chloride could be used, and that was masking the heat test. He hoped he had made it quite clear. There were other tests to which they subjected suspected cordite, and there was a way in which they could apply the Abel heat test even when mercuric chloride was present, for mercuric chloride only masked a certain degree of temperature, and they had only to raise that temperature and so modify the test and they presently found that they got outside the range of the masking operation of the mercuric chloride. Consequently they could at every turn, if only they had reason to suspect it, tell whether the cordite was bad, notwithstanding the presence of mercuric chloride. But it was very wrong to put the mercuric chloride in, because it was well-known that the Abel heat test was normally applied to cordite for our war purposes. They knew pretty well where the cordite was stored which was under suspicion, and they were subjecting everything that was in the least doubtful to the tests which could not be masked by mercuric chloride. It would be absurd to destroy all the cordite regardless of whether it was good or bad, for mercuric chloride did no damage to the cordite, it only masked the test. If there were the least risk to the ships or the men the Government would destroy the whole of the cordite, regardless of expense, but if by testing they could make sure that the cordite was good it was well to do so, always taking care to use the tests which eluded the mercuric chloride. The question had been submitted to perhaps the strongest scientific Committee that had ever sat, on which there were some of the first men of science in the country, under whose advice and guidance everything would be done. They thought that, in a matter of life and death like this, they ought to have the highest authority that could be obtained; they were deeply aware of the gravity of the situation, and were sparing no pains in their power.


thought the Committee were fortunate in having this full explanation and also in the fact that no man in the House was so competent to give it as the right hon. Gentleman. The Committee generally were not so much interested in the details of the question in the form in which it had been raised. But it was of the greatest possible importance that the right hon. Gentleman should have been enabled to make the statement he had done. Many thousands of tons of this explosive were distributed throughout the Empire, and there was in regard to it great alarm, which it was imperative to allay in the interests of the services and of the nation. The right hon. Gentleman had made it perfectly clear that the War Office realised there was a danger; that they were aware of the means to be taken to guard against it; that they meant to take no risks; and that they were using effective tests to secure the safety of the lives of the soldiers and sailors and, equally, the safety of the Empire entrusted to their charge.

Lord R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

said he was not quite so well satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman as his right hon. friend appeared to be. He thought the Committee was indebted to the hon. Member for Kings Lynn for introducing the subject. The Committee did not sufficiently realise the frightful danger that existed in cordite which contained mercuric chloride being allowed to be stored in magazines or in ships. He did not propose to enter into the composition of cordite, which had been clearly explained by the right hon. Gentleman, but the point was quite simple. It was a very important matter in the preparation of cordite which was really safe, and the preparation of gun-cotton that the acids should be thoroughly and completely washed out, if the result was to be a stable compound which would not be liable to spontaneous combustion. Owing to imperfect manufacture, or to the cordite being stored under unsuitable conditions, they might have, without the slightest warning, an explosion of the most disastrous character. They had an appalling list of such accidents. There were the explosions on the American ship ''Maine," on the Mexican ship "Aquidaban," on the Japanese ship "Mikasa," on the French ship" Iéna," on the "Fox," and the "Revenge," and in addition to those there were two explosions in land magazines in India, and the explosion at Woolwich, which might or might not have been caused by the deterioration and spontaneous combustion of cordite. The Committee would realise that the danger was exceedingly great. No one had ever disputed the fact that the addition of mercuric chloride did not make cordite more likely to explode. But it did prevent their ascertaining whether the cordite was in a condition likely to cause an explosion. The only way in which that could be ascertained, until the novel tests of which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken, was by the Abel heat test, by which cordite was subjected to a certain amount of heat for a certain time, and if in the course of that period no change took place in the starch paper the cordite was in satisfactory condition; but if during that period a substantial change did take place in the starch paper, the cordite was unsatisfactory. But when mercuric chloride was introduced there was no change in the starch paper for a very long period. The right hon. Gentleman had said the Government protected itself by adopting other tests which would be equally as effective as the Abel test, and he had explained those tests. But they were of an exceedingly delicate character and took a considerable time to carry out.


said they could use the Abel heat test, and then by these tests carry the examination still further.


said the right hon. Gentleman spoke from the information supplied by experts with whom he could not compete, but he would certainly suggest that there was considerable difficulty in effectively carrying out the test. If it was so simple a way of getting round the difficulty where mercuric chloride existed, he could not understand why those responsible had not taken that course. He observed that while the right hon. Gentleman said that he had tests quite as effective as the Abel heat test, he also said that he would reject cordite that contained mercuric chloride, and under those circumstances it did not seem to him that these recently-discovered tests were quite so effective as had been suggested. With regard to Messrs. Kynoch, he only desired to say one word. They knew that a considerable quantity of cordite now existing in the magazines of the Army and Navy had been supplied by that firm, and they knew that that cordite contained mercuric chloride. The three points that Messrs. Kynoch made in defence of this cordite in a letter to The Times were, first that mercuric chloride was valuable as an antiseptic; secondly, that it was used in Germany—although his information was that it was not used in the German War Office stores.


said it was used for gun cotton.


And thirdly, that mercuric chloride would very well pass the heat test. Of course it would. He appealed to the Government to say whether they were taking the best course in this matter. It was their responsiblity, and if any accident occurred after this debate the responsibility would be very great indeed. He could not help thinking it would be far better to find out what cordite had been supplied by this firm and what contained mercuric chloride, and destroy it altogether. It might cost a few thousands of pounds, but it would be a perfectly safe course. The right hon. Gentleman had said they had put an embargo on the use of this cordite until it had been tested. It was not a question of use, but of storage. Were the Government quite certain that this cordite was stored in places where if it exploded it would do no harm? He doubted that even in the case of the Army, but was it so in this case of the Navy? That was a question they were entitled to ask, because although the Vote before the Committee was an Army Vote the question was too important to be restricted by any rules. Was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say that the cordite supplied by Messrs. Kynoch was stored in such places that if it exploded it would do no harm? Was it stored in any of His Majesty's ships? Surely the Government were not going to allow the question of a few thousands of pounds to stand between the safety of perhaps more than one of His Majesty's ships and their duty! He could not believe that the Government would take such a dangerous course as had been indicated. The observation about the Navy was very much strengthened by what had been said. An hon. Member had asked the other day how much of Kynoch's cordite existed in the Navy. The answer was that they did not know where it was, nor could they tell how much there was. Surely that was a condition of things which the House was not going to allow. The authorities at the Admiralty must instantly make every possible inquiry if there was any doubt as to whether the cordite was taken from Kynoch's or not, and they must submit it to a very searching and complete test, or destroy it.

MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

Throw it overboard.


agreed. Were they really going to allow the ships to go about at sea carrying these gigantic charges which would blow everybody to atoms if they exploded, without knowing whether the cordite came from Kynoch's or from elsewhere? He thought they were entitled to something more than they had received before they could rest satisfied in the matter. It was not a matter on which any Member of the House, however resolutely attached to economy, would resist for a moment, if the Government said they had been taken in by their contractor, and that further inquiry showed that they could no longer rely on the safety of this particular explosive. If they required a Supplementary Estimate to replace the cordite that had become dangerous, they would be suported by every Member of the House without a word of comment or criticism. He very earnestly hoped that the Government would not allow any question of finance or economy to stand between them and their supreme duty, which was to see to the safety of the services of the Army and Navy.

MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

said his noble friend who had just sat down had made an appeal to the Government that they should ascertain what cordite there was in the land stores contaminated by mercuric chloride, and that where it was found it should be destroyed. He understood from the speech of his right hon. friend, that the first suggestion of the noble Lord was being carried out by the Department. With regard to the second point, that a destruction of the cordite should take place, being an economist and a Scotsman, he could not help thinking that some of the cordite might be perfectly good. If there were any risk in storing, more particularly as applied to ships in His Majesty's service, then let the cordite be thrown overboard by all means. There were two points on which he would venture to ask questions of his right hon. friend. First of all whether strict injunctions had been given that no further cordite impregnated with mercuric chloride should be received for the purposes of the Army?




said it was a great relief to the Committee to know that. The second question was as to the amount of cordite which the military forces of the Crown possessed. He understood from what his hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn had said, that a very considerable reduction had been made in the Vote.


said he had stated that he could only speak for the Army, and he should say that there was ample cordite to replace all that had been dealt with.


said he had been listening and trying to learn what were the conditions of the contract for the supply of cordite. He understood that it was usual in Government Departments to give specifications of the thing required, and if they were supplied with something they did not intend to have, or they did not require, and that thing had to be destroyed, the cost and expense should fall upon those who supplied the thing that was not asked for. He would like to know what was the position in that respect.


said the different ingredients of the cordite were given in the specification, and whatever was specified was all that was allowed to be done. Therefore the introduction of mercuric chloride was excluded from the specification, and it was a violation of the conditions of the contract that mercuric chloride should be put in.


said the question was, supposing this material was to be destroyed, would the loss fall upon the contractors who supplied the thing that was not asked for?


My friend need not be apprehensive.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)

said he had listened with great attention to the interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but he regretted that he was not able to follow him in the scientific part of his observations. He gathered that the right hon. Gentleman was thoroughly conversant with the whole of the details and that he would do his best to see that no bad ammunition was received in future. It was unknown where this cordite was, and whether it could be traced or not he did not know. He could not see why it was impossible to trace it. He would point out to the hon. Gentleman, who seemed to think that all due care was being taken with regard to the storage of this bad ammunition, that no care had been taken with regard to the storage on ships. The Committee wanted to know what steps would be taken to see that this particular cordite was removed from the ships which were now at sea or in dock. It was absolutely necessary for the safety of the lives of the men and property that something should be done. He admitted at once that great anxiety had been shown by the right hon. Gentleman that something should be done with regard to the Army, but before the debate closed on such an important question they should have some definite assurance with regard to the matter. There were two representatives of the Admiralty present, and they ought to have some assurance that steps were being taken to ascertain whether or not this cordite was stored in ships, and that, if it was so stored, it would be removed. They did not wish to put any difficulties in the way of the right hon. Gentleman or to approach the question from a Party point of view, but really it was of such great importance that it ought to be attended to, and he had no doubt that it would be attended to as soon as possible. They must have some assurance, however, before the debate closed, that that some thing would be done.


said that, as the hon. Gentleman had correctly stated, he was not really responsible in this matter. The question of cordite was an important one, and, although he might be out of order, he might be permitted to say a few words on the subject. He believed that reference had been made to explosions on board the "Fox" and the "Revenge." He had got an official account of both those occurrences which he would read. On 31st December, 1899, at 1 a.m., a 6-inch quick-firing cordite cartridge ignited spontaneously on board 'Revenge' in Mediterranean. The magazine was flooded, and the ignition did not extend, but it was subsequently found that the two other cartridges in the same box were burnt out. On 31st October, 1906, at 1 a.m., a 6-inch quick-firing cordite cartridge ignited spontaneously on board 'Fox' at Bombay. There were three other cartridges in the same box but only two of them ignited.


Was that accounted for?


It was not accounted for. ''The magazine was flooded, and but little damage was done.


Was any damage done in the case of the "Revenge"?




said he was afraid that if he allowed this matter to be gone into it would raise a discussion on the Admiralty's action. [Cries of "No."] It must be understood that this was only to be an explanation by the Minister, and no discussion on it was to follow.


In the case of 'Revenge' the cordite was about five years old, and that which ignited in 'Fox' was nearly nine years old. In both instances the cause of the ignition is attributed to a local impurity, causing a weak spot in the cordite, which deteriorated at that point more rapidly than the mass of the charge, and the process was probably hastened through the average magazine temperatures in both ships being unusually high. It has been recognised ever since the introduction of smokeless propellants that abnormally high temperatures of 100° Fah. and over exercised an injurious effect on cordite, but experiment has recently established the fact that all cordite, however well made, slowly but continuously deteriorates at a rate which varies with the temperature at which it is stored. It has therefore been decided to fit cooling apparatus to the magazines of all ships, commencing with those on hot stations, and those building, and the necessity for artificially cooling land magazines in hot climates has been recognised, and the best method of doing this is now under consideration. The tests to which cordite will be periodically subjected have also been made more stringent, and an additional test will shortly be introduced which it is hoped will enable the condition of a doubtful sample of cordite to be ascertained with much more accuracy than has, up to the present, been possible. He did not think that he needed to say any more than that. The Admiralty had discovered that Messrs. Kynoch had of late years been adding a small proportion of mercuric chloride to the cordite made by them. The effect of this was to mask the ordinary test. He had been told by an expert that it was doubtful whether the small quantity of mercuric chloride used by Messrs. Kynoch had in itself any deleterious effect upon the cordite, but its addition was obviously most objectionable. The cordite which ignited in "Revenge" and "Fox" was not made by Messrs. Kynoch. He might mention that all the cordite received this year containing the ingredient in question had been rejected, not as being necessarily dangerous, but as being not in accordance with the terms of the contract. With regard to the cordite on board ship they had no reason to believe that it had been injuriously affected, but they had appointed a scientific Committee, with Lord Rayleigh as president, to advise the Admiralty. There was not the faintest reason for apprehension, and all precautions had been and were being taken.

SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somersetshire, Wellington)

said that what the Committee wanted was a definite assurance from the Government that the cordite in use would, as far as science could make it, be absolutely free from suspicion of danger either as regards storage or change of climate, so that officers and men should know that they were not dealing with an article which was unsafe. With such an assurance they need not prolong a debate which was calculated to create a feeling of distrust in the minds of our soldiers and sailors.


said he felt himself to be in a position safely and properly to give the assurance asked for. There was not the smallest occasion for a scare; not the slightest. All these explosives had a certain element of danger in them. The cordite which was really dangerous was the old-fashioned cordite that contained 56 per cent. of nitro-glycerine. They had now introduced a new form of this explosive called modified cordite, in which the percentage of nitro-glycerine was much less—he thought it was about 30 per cent. or even lower than that. The only cordite about which there had been any question was not the newly made cordite which was much safer. The addition of mercuric chloride did not make the thing dangerous, and the kind to which it had been applied was the safe kind of cordite. Therefore he could safely and properly give the assurance for which the right hon. Baronet had asked. He did not believe the explosives under the charge of the War Office were ever in so safe a condition or of such a quality of manufacture as they were to-day.

MR. C. DUNCAN (Barrow-in-Furness)

said they had heard a good deal about the blue-water school and the two-Power standard, but it occurred to him that there was evidence in the seriousness of this question that they might be a two-Power standard to-day and a no-Power standard to-morrow. He would like to know whether any more cordite was going to be ordered from the particular firm who had been introducing mercuric chloride into their cordite. If ever there was anything dastardly in this world it was the action of a firm which had placed all our military establishments and ships of war in the greatest possible danger. If it was so necessary that in regard to cordite they should have an article above suspicion, why in the name of common-sense could not the nation manufacture its own? If there was such a real danger from tampering with this article surely it should be manufactured by the State. No matter how serious the position caused by the adulteration of cordite might be it appeared that there were firms in this country who were prepared to take all risks and place the nation in very serious danger without the slightest consideration.

CAPTAIN HERVEY (Bury St. Edmunds)

asked whether any portion of each consignment went through any special test before being issued either to the Army or the Navy. If cordite was supposed to be manufactured to a certain standard under a certain specification, and if each consignment had bean properly examined, they would have known at once that bichloride of mercury had been used. He wished to know whether the proper tests were applied in the case of each consignment received, and whether it was found that bichloride of mercury had been used.

MR. MOND (Chester)

said he understood that the use of bichloride of mercury was simply to mask the heat test. As that could be remedied by increasing the temperature, it seemed to him a very simple thing to do. He asked whether cordite with this mercuric chloride in it which had been tested had shown any inferiority as compared with ordinary cordite which had no chloride in it. If a superior test was used any defect in the cordite would show itself. With the more severe test, had this cordite shown itself to be deficient, or was it as safe as the ordinary cordite which had passed the ordinary test? If the latter was the case there would be no fear of its exploding spontaneously. He asked whether the sum involved in this matter was a large one, whether the tests showed that the cordite was inferior, whether any more orders would be given to the firm which had deceived the British Government, and whether they could not reject the whole of the stuff.


said he had not thought it necessary to inquire into what was the amount of money involved. It had been asked whether chloride of mercury made cordite any worse. No; cordite was not any worse for it; it was not in the least more liable to explode. The cordite was cordite made according to the best and most modern method, and was therefore the cordite least subject to any accident. At the same time, the Government thought it right to subject it to the very closest tests. Every consignment had been tested. Some of these consignments passed the test unduly. The Government found out afterwards that the heat test had been masked by the presence of mercuric chloride, and they had consequently subjected all these consignments to fresh tests. As to the question raised by the Member for Barrow and another hon. Member, he might say that no cordite was being obtained from the manufacturers who put mercuric chloride into it. What the course of the Government would be hereafter he did not wish to say at present. He was sorry to say that the manufacture of cordite by the Government afforded no absolute security. The explosions which recently took place in India were explosions, he believed, of the Government's own cordite. The Government establishment had a distinguished expert at its head. Two or three private firms that he knew had the highest skill at their command, too. He did not think there was very much difference between Government manufacture and private manufacture in the way of ensuring safety. In its earlier forms cordite was a dangerous substance, As now manufactured it was much safer. and the cordite which had been under discussion was of this kind. All cordite, however, required to be carefully watched, because under the influence of causes which could not be guarded against without special precautions—heat and age-it tended to deteriorate and become dangerous.


said the debate had left some serious doubts in his mind. The Committee would observe that both the Admiralty and the War Office refused specifically to withdraw or to destroy the cordite which they had no reason to know did not contain mercuric chloride. He wanted to contrast their action with that of the Home Office in regard to the same stuff made by the same people. The Committee would remember that when it was suggested that there was no danger in this stuff the Home Secretary stated in set terms that every bit of it had been removed from the ordinary storage, and that the Home Office had appointed a Committee to consider whether anything could be done except to destroy it at once. He thought that was a strong comment upon the implication which underlay the whole of the statements of the War Office and the Admiralty that there was no serious or imminent danger to be apprehended from this stuff. It was admitted that His Majesty's ships were going about the seas carrying this stuff which no human being could say was not in a dangerous condition, liable to spontaneous combustion at any moment. They were told that a scientific Committee would be appointed. That Committee might take any time for its deliberations, and they were to wait hoping that nothing would happen until the deliberations were completed. The House, the country, and the service were entitled to know what steps were being taken regarding the cordite on board His Majesty's ships at this moment. He wished to know what was being done as to Kynoch's cordite on board the ships. He agreed that it was extremely desirable that no alarmist opinions should get abroad, but the debate had gone far enough to make it absolutely necessary, if alarmist views were to be kept in check, that some plain statement should be made to the House why stuff which the Home Office considered eminently dangerous should be allowed to be carried about in ships and stored in magazines pending the inquiry.


said he was not altogether satisfied with the statement of the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman had made a most interesting speech, but his assurances did not satisfy him on many points, even the most scientific points on which he spoke with authority. There were equally distinguished scientific people who disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman. At the Kynoch trial a great authority, Sir Frederick Nathan, stated that the mercury might be set free in time and cause spontaneous ignition. It appeared, therefore, that mercuric chloride, in the opinion of a scientific authority, not only masked the heat test, on which point opinion was unanimous, but was dangerous in the explosive itself, especially in the case of cordite which had undergone several years of storage. When his right hon. friend dealt with the question of tests he felt a little bit reassured, but the effect of what was said by the Secretary to the Admiralty was to do away with that feeling. He had refreshed his memory as to the evidence in regard to the trials, and he found that Captain Thomson, one of the highest authorities, said that he knew of no reliable test except the heat test introduced by Sir Frederick Abel. In regard to the use of silver foil as a test, Captain Thomson said there seemed to be some indication that it acted as a mask. In regard to gold foil he said that it vapourised and that a long series of experiments would be required to find whether silver foil or gold foil could be used. With regard to the suggested new test of raising the heat it had been tried and found wanting. The Secretary for War said they had got a reliable test which was being applied everywhere on the spot but the Secretary to the Admiralty said nothing about that test. The Secretary to the Admiralty said that they had appointed a Committee under Lord Rayleigh, and pending their report the untested cordite with mercuric chloride would remain on board the ships. The hon. Member for Barrow had urged that what had been stated in the debate was an argument for the Admiralty manufacturing the cordite. The answer to that was that Government cordite was just as liable to deterioration as that of private firms. Indeed, it was Waltham Abbey cordite that had exploded on the "Fox" and in the land magazines in India, and the argument he had endeavoured to enforce was that the danger could only be guarded against by ventilation, refrigerating machinery, and continuous tests, whereas the doctored cordite was most dangerous of all in that it had never been tested.


said that so far as the Government establishments were concerned they did not adulterate from purely vicious motives.


said they had no reason to suppose that private firms would ever again act as Kynoch Limited, had done. If reserves of cordite were accumulated they were liable to deteriorate, and, therefore, what the Government required was capacity for large output, so that if war broke out cordite could be manufactured as rapidly as possible. He had not received from his right hon. friend an assurance that a Supplementary Estimate would be introduced for the purpose of replacing suspicious as well as deteriorated cordite. He very much regretted that in the circumstances he must divide the Committee on this question.


asked whether the same experts would in the future be asked to pass under review the whole of the cordite supplied to the three great Departments of State—the Home Office, the Navy, and the Army— especially the cordite for hot climates. Had the cordite abroad been tested and found deteriorated; and had a new supply been sent out to take its place? He thought that a stronger assurance might be given to the Committee as to the supply of pure and up-to-standard cordite which had been sent abroad; and whether the deteriorated cordite would be returned to the manufacturers. He also wanted to know the number of years it was since the cordite at present abroad or on board His Majesty's ships had been manufactured; and what steps had been taken to throw it overboard if it was found to be decomposed. He understood that the Secretary of State for War had stated that in one case the cordite was nine years old, and in another six years old; he hoped that steps would be taken to destroy all the old cordite. He also asked how it

came about that in a matter where the safety of the Navy and the Army was concerned, the War Office and the Admiralty had to depend on the experts of the Home Office.


said that the War Office did not depend on the Home Office experts. The standard of the age of cordite varied, according to the diameter of the cartridge. All the cordite which was looked upon with suspicion had been dealt with, and all those things were looked at as closely as they could be by their own War Office experts.


said that the Secretary for War had stated that cordite M.D. was less liable to deterioration. His impression was that there was no gain in this respect and that cordite M.D. was simply intended to prevent erosion of the guns. He had consulted experts on the matter, who assured him that the M.D. cordite was not one whit better than the old cordite in respect of safety, but that it did lessen the erosion.


asked whether, if it was a fact that Kynochs had supplied cordite treated with mercuric chloride, it was not possible to find out the ships to which that cordite had gone. The Government ought not to have anything more to do with Kynochs; they ought to be struck off the contractors list for having submitted the country to so great a danger.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 23; Noes, 196. (Division List No. 228.)

Banbury, Sir Frederick George Duncan,Robert (Lanark,Govan Pease,Herbert Pike(Darlington
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry.N.) Fell, Arthur Rawlinson,John Frederick Peel
Beck, A. Cecil Fletcher, J. S. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bertram, Julius Gordon, J. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Bowles, G. Stewart Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS Edm'ds Thomson.W.Mitchell- (Lanark)
Carlile, E. Hildred Hills, J. W.
Craig,Charles Curtis(Antrim,S. Middlemore, John Throgmorton TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Bellairs and Lord Robert Cecil.
Craig.Captain James(Down,E.) Moore, William
Craik, Sir Henry Nield, Herbert
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Armitage R. Baker,Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)
Acland, Francis Dyke Armstrong, W. C. Heaton Balfour, Robert (Lanark)
Allen, Charles P. (Strond) Astbury,John Meir Barker, John
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Hobart, Sir Robert Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone,N.) Hobhouse, Charles E. H. Richardson. A.
Bell, Richard Holland, Sir William Henry Rickett, J. Compton
Benn,W.(T'W'rHamlets,S. Geo Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Berridgc, T. H. D. Hope,WBateman(Somerset,N. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Bethell,SirJ.H. (EssexRomf'rd Horniman, Emslie John Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Billson, Alfred Hudson, Walter Robinson, S.
Bowerman, C. W. Johnson, John (Gateshead) Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Brace, William Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Roe, Sir Thomas
Bramsdon, T. A. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Rowlands, J.
Branch, James Jones.William (Carnarvonshire Runciman, Walter
Brigg, John Jowett, F. W. Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland)
Bright, J. A. Kearley, Hudson E. Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne)
Brooke, Stopford Kekewich, Sir George Sears, J. E.
Brunner,RtHn.SirJT.(Cheshirc King,Alfred John (Knutsford) Seddon.J.
Bryce, J. Annan King.Sir Henry Seymour(Hull) Shackleton. David James
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Laidlaw, Robert Sherwell, Arthur James
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Lambert, George Shipman. Dr. John G.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Lamont, Norman Silcock. Thomas Ball
Byles, William Pollard Lea,HughCecil(St.Pancras,E.) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Cameron, Robert Lehmann, R. C. Snowden, P.
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Lever, A.Levy (Essex,Harwich Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cleland, J. W. Levy, Maurice Stanger, H. Y.
Clough, William Lewis, John Herbert Steadman. W. C.
Clynes, J. R. Lynch, H. B. Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Macdonald,J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Corbett.CH (Sussex.E.Grinst'd Macpherson, J. T. Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. M'Crae, George Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Summerbell, T.
Cox, Harold M'Micking, Major G. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Crombie, John William Maddison, Frederick Thomas,SirA.(Glamorgan,E.)
Crooks, William Manfield, Harry (Northants) Thomas,DavidAlfred(Merthyr
Crosfield, A. H. Marks,G.Croydon(Launceston) Thomasson, Franklin
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Marnham, F. J. Torance. Sir A. M.
Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Massie, J. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Duncan,C (Barrow-in-Furness) Menzies, Walter Verney, F. W.
Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley) Micklem, Nathaniel Walker. H. De R. (Leicester)
Edwards, Clements (Denbigh) Mond, A. Walton,SirJohnL.( Leeds, S.)
Essex, R. W. Money, L. G. Chiozza Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Esslemont, George Birnie Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Ward. John (Stoke upon Trent)
Everett, R. Lacey Morse, L. L. Wardle, George J.
Faber, G. H. (Boston) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Waving. Walter
Fenwick, Charles Murray, James Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Kerens, T. R. Myer, Horatio Waterlow. D. S.
Findlay, Alexander Nicholls, George Watt. Henry A.
Fullerton, Hugh Nicholson,CharlesN. (Doncaster Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Gill, A. H. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Weir, James Galloway
Glover, Thomas Nussey, Thomas Willans Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Goddard, Daniel Ford Nuttall, Harry Whittaker. Sir Thomas Palmer
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) O'Grady, J. Wiles, Thomas
Griffith, Ellis J. Parker, James (Halifax) Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Haldane, Rt. Hon Richard B. Partington. Oswald Williams,Llewelyn(Carmarth'n
Hardy, George A (Suffolk) Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)
Harmsworth, Cecil B (Worc'r) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Harvey,W.E. (Derbyshire,N.E. Pollard, Dr. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Haworth, Arthur A. Priestley. Arthur (Grantham) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton
Hazel, Dr. A. E. Radford, G. H.
Helme, Norval Watson Rainy, A. Rolland TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and MR. J. A. Pease.
Hemmerde, Edward George Rea, Russell (Gloucester)
Henry, Charles S. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'
Higham, John Sharp Richards,Thomas(W.Monm'th)

Question put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

And, it being after a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.