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001″ PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES:

002″ Official Report.

003″ FIFTH SERIES—VOLUME 196.

004″ SECOND SESSION OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.

005″ 17 GEORGE V.

006″ HOUSE OF COMMONS.

007″ SIXTH VOLUME OF SESSION 1926.

008″ This Volume may be cited as 196 H.C. Deb. 5 s.

009″ COMPRISING PERIOD FROM MONDAY, 17TH MAY, TO FRIDAY, 18TH JUNE.

010″ LONDON:

011″ PRINTED & PUBLISHED BY HIS MAJESTY’S STATIONERY OFFICE.

012″ To be purchased directly from H.M STATIONERY OFFICE at the following addresses:

013″ Adastral House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2; 28, Abingdon Street, London, S.W.1;

014″ York Street, Manchester; 1, St. Andrew’s Crescent, Cardiff;

015″ or 120, George Street, Edinburgh;

016″ or through any Bookseller.

017″ 1926

018″ Price 10/6 Net.

 

019″ [FORMED BY MR. BALDWIN, NOVEMBER, 1924].

020″>Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons—Rt. Hon. STANLEY BALDWIN, M.P.021″>Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the House of Commons—Rt. Hon. Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, K.G., M.P.022″>Lord President of the Council—Rt. Hon. the Earl of BALFOUR, K.G., O.M. Lord Chancellor—Rt. Hon. Viscount CAVE, G.C.M.G., K.C.

023″>Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords—Most Hon. the Marquess of SALISBURY, K.G., G.C.V.O., C.B.

024″>Chancellor of the Exchequer—Rt. Hon. WINSTON LEONARD SPENCER CHURCHILL, C.H., M.P.

025″>Secretary of State for Home Affairs—Rt. Hon. Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS, Bart., M.P.

026″>Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs—Rt. Hon. LEOPOLD C. M. S. AMERY, M.P.

027″>Secretary of State for War—Rt. Hon. Sir LAMING WORTHINGTON-EVANS, Bart., G.B.E., M.P.

028″>Secretary of State for India—Rt. Hon. the Earl of BIRKENHEAD, K.C.

029″>Secretary of State for Air—Rt. Hon. Sir SAMUEL HOARE, Bart., C.M.G., M.P.

030″>First Lord of the Admiralty—Rt. Hon. W. C. BRIDGEMAN, M.P.

031″>President of the Board of Trade—Rt. Hon. Sir PHILIP CUNLIFFE-LISTER, K.B.E., M.C., M.P.

032″>Minister of Health—Rt. Hon. ARTHUR NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN, M.P.

033″>Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries—Rt. Hon. WALTER GUINNESS, D.S.O., M.P.

034″>Secretary for Scotland—Rt. Hon. Sir JOHN GILMOUR, Bart., D.S.O., M.P.

035″>President of the Board of Education—Rt. Hon. Lord EUSTACE PERCY, M.P.

036″>Minister of Labour—Rt. Hon. Sir ARTHUR RAMSAY STEEL-MAITLAND, Bart., M.P.

037″>First Commissioner of Works—Rt. Hon. Viscount PEEL, G.B.E.

038″>Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—Rt. Hon. Viscount CECIL OF CHELWOOD.

039″>Attorney-General—Rt. Hon. Sir DOUGLAS MCGAREL HOGG, K.C, M.P.

040″>Home Affairs—041″>Secretary of State—Rt. Hon. Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS, Bart., M.P.042″>Under-Secretary of State—Captain DOUGLAS H. HACKING, O.B.E., M.P.

043″>Foreign Affairs

044″>Secretary of State—Rt. Hon. Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, K.G., M.P.

045″>Under-Secretary of State—GODFREY L. T. LOCKER-LAMPSON, Esq., M.P.

046″>Dominion Affairs and the Colonies

047″>Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and Secretary of State for the Colonies—Rt. Hon. L. S. AMERY, M.P.

048″>Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs—The Earl of CLARENDON.

049″>Under-Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs—Hon W. G. A. ORMSBY-GORE, M.P.

050″>War Office

051″>Secretary of State—Rt. Hon. Sir LAMING WORTHINGTON-EVANS, Bart., G.B.E., M.P.

052″>Under-Secretary of State—The Earl of ONSLOW, O.B.E.

053″>Financial Secretary—Captain H. DOUGLAS KING, C.B.E., D.S.O., V.D., R.N.V.R., M.P.

054″>Air Ministry

055″>Secretary of State—Rt. Hon. Sir SAMUEL HOARE, Bart., C.M.G., M.P.

056″>Under-Secretary of State and Vice-President, Air Council—Major Sir PHILIP SASSOON, Bart., G.B.E., C.M.G., M.P.

057″>India Office

058″>Secretary of State—Rt. Hon. the Earl of BIRKENHEAD, K.C.

059″>Under-Secretary of State—Major Rt. Hon. Earl WINTERTON, M.P.

060″>Admiralty

061″>First Lord—Rt. Hon. W. C. BRIDGEMAN, M.P.

062″>Parliamentary and Financial Secretary—J. C. C. DAVIDSON, Esq., C.H., C.B., M.P.

063″>Civil Lord—Earl STANHOPE, D.S.O., M.C.

064″>Board of Trade

065″>President—Rt. Hon. Sir PHILIP CUNLIFFE-LISTER, K.B.E., M.C, M.P.

066″>Parliamentary Secretary—Sir ROBERT BURTON CHADWICK, M.P.

067″>Mines Department—Parliamentary Secretary—Colonel Rt. Hon. G. R. LANE Fox, M.P.

068″>Overseas Trade Department—Parliamentary Secretary—ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL, Esq., M.P.

069″>Ministry of Health

070″>Minister—Rt. Hon. ARTHUR NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN, M.P.

071″>Parliamentary Secretary—Sir H. KINGSLEY WOOD, M.P.

072″>Ministry of Transport

073″>Minister—Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. WILFRID W. ASHLEY, M.P.

074″>Parliamentary Secretary—Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. MOORE-BRABAZON, M.C, M.P.

075″>Board of Education

076″>President—Rt. Hon. Lord EUSTACE PERCY, M.P.

077″>Parliamentary Secretary—The Duchess of ATHOLL, M.P.

078″>Ministry of Labour

079″>Minister—Rt. Hon. Sir ARTHUR RAMSAY STEEL-MAITLAND, Bart., M.P.

080″>Parliamentary Secretary—HENRY B. BETTERTON, Esq., C.B.E., M.P.

081″>Ministry of Pensions

082″>Minister—Major Rt. Hon. GEORGE C TRYON, M.P.

083″>Parliamentary Secretary—Lieut.-Col. G. F. STANLEY, C.M.G., M.P.

084″>Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

085″>Minister—Rt. Hon. WALTER GUINNESS, D.S.O., M.P.

086″>Parliamentary Secretary and Deputy Minister of Fisheries—Rt. Hon. Lord BLEDISLOE OF LYDNEY, K.B.E.

087″>Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

088″>Rt. Hon. Viscount CECIL OF CHELWOOD.

089″>First Commissioner of Works

090″>Rt. Hon. Viscount PEEL, G.B.E.

091″>Attorney General

092″>Rt. Hon. Sir DOUGLAS McGAREL HOGG, K.C., M.P.

093″>Solicitor General

094″>Sir THOMAS W. H. INSKIP, C.B.E., K.C., M.P.

095″>General Post Office

096″>Postmaster-General—Rt. Hon. Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL-THOMSON, Bart., K.B.E., M.P.

097″>Assistant Postmaster-General—Viscount WOLMER, M.P.

098″>Paymaster General

099″>The Duke of SUTHERLAND.

100″>Treasury

101″>Chancellor of the Exchequer—Rt. Hon. WINSTON LEONARD SPENCER CHURCHILL, C.H., M.P.

102″>Parliamentary Secretary—Commander Rt. Hon. BOLTON MEREDITP EYRES MONSELL, R.N., M.P.

103″>Financial Secretary—Rt. Hon. RONALD McNEILL, M.P.

104″>Lords Commissioners—

105″>Major WILLIAM COPE, M.P.

106″>FREDERICK CHARLES THOMSON, Esq., K.C., M.P.

107″>Captain Viscount CURZON, C.B.E., V.D., M.P.

108″>Captain Lord STANLEY, M.C., M.P. (unpaid).

109″>Assistant Government Whips—

110″>Captain HENRY D. R. MARGESSON, M.C., M.P. (unpaid).

111″>Captain G. E. W. BOWYER, M.C., M.P. (unpaid).

112″>Scotland

113″>Secretary—Rt. Hon. Sir JOHN GILMOUR, Bart., D.S.O., M.P.

114″>Lord Advocate—Rt. Hon. WILLIAM WATSON, K.C., M.P.

115″>Solicitor-General—ALEXANDER MUNRO MACROBERT, K.C., M.P.

116″>Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health—Captain WALTER E. ELLIOT, M.C., M.P.

117″>His Majesty’s Household

118″>Lord Chamberlain—Rt. Hon. the Earl of CROMER, G.C.I.E., C.V.O.

119″>Lord Steward—Rt. Hon. the Earl of SHAFTESBURY, K.P., G.C.V.O., C.B.E.

120″>Master of the Horse—Rt. Hon. the Earl of GRANARD, K.P., G.C.V.O.

121″>Treasurer—Colonel Rt. Hon. GEORGE A. GIBBS, M.P.

122″>Controller—Major Sir HARRY BARNSTON, Bart., M.P.

123″>Vice-Chamberlain—Major J. R. G. HENNESSY, O.B.E., M.P.

124″>Lords in Waiting—

125″>The Earl of LUCAN, K.B.E., C.B.

126″>Viscount GAGE.

127″>The Earl of AIRLIE, M.C.

128″>Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms—The Earl of PLYMOUTH.

129″>Captain of the King’s Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard—Lord DESBOROUGH, K.C.V.O.

130″>Charity Commissioner in the House of Commons—Lieut.-Colonel H. H. SPENDER-CLAY, C.M.G., M.C, M.P.

131″>Forestry Commissioner—Sir CHARLES FORESTIER-WALKER, K.B.E., M.P.

132″>Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing Ecclesiastical Commissioners—Major J. D. BIRCHALL, M.P.

133″ Right Hon. J. H. WHITLET, M.P.134″ CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS—Right Hon. JAMES FITZALAN HOPE, M.P.135″ DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN—Captain Right Hon. EDWARD A. FITZROY, M.P.

136″>Clerk of the House of Commons—Sir T. LONSDALE WEBSTER, K.C.B.

137″>Clerk-Assistant—H. C. DAWKINS, Esq., C.B., M.B.E.

138″>Second Clerk-Assistant—G. F. M. CAMPION, Esq.

139″>Principal Clerks—

140″>Public Bill Office and Clerk of Fees—H. A. FERGUSON DAVIE, Esq., C.B.

141″>Clerk of the Journals—J. W. G. BOND, Esq.

142″>Committee and Private Bill Office—F. R. WILLIAMS WYNN, Esq.

143″>Senior Clerks—ARTHUR H. ELLIS, Esq.; R. P. COLOMB, Esq.; BRYAN FELL, Esq.; Sir J. S. HORSBURGH-PORTER, Bt.; F. C. BRAMWELL, Esq.; C. R. TURNER, Esq.; W. K. GIBBONS, Esq.; O. C. WILLIAMS, Esq.; G. W. B. THROCKMORTON, Esq.; B. H. COODE, Esq.

144″>Assistant Clerks—A. W. M. BULL, Esq.; F. W. METCALFE, Esq.; C. R. P. DIVER, Esq.; E. A. FELLOWES, Esq.; C. L. FERGUSON, Esq.; R. A. W. DENT, Esq.; L. A. ABRAHAM, Esq.; N. L. LOCKTON, Esq.; S. ST. G. S. KINGDOM, Esq.; E. J. H. EDENBOROUGH, Esq.; D. J. GORDON, Esq.

145″>Accountant—J. LUXFORD, Esq. Assistant—Captain C. L. WATSON.

146″>Serjeant at Arms—Admiral Sir C. KEPPEL, K.C.T.E., K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O.

147″>Deputy Serjeant—F. R. GOSSET, Esq.

148″>Assistant Serjeant—W. H. ERSKINE, Esq., M.B.E.

149″>Office Clerk (Serjeant at Arms Department)—Mr. C. A. PLYMEN.

150″>Admission Order Office—Major CONWAY-POOLE and Lieut. G. WEAVER.

151″>Chaplain to the Speaker—Rev. Canon CARNEGIE, M.A.

152″>Counsel to the Speaker—Sir ERNEST MOON, K.C.B., K.C.

153″>Secretary to the Speaker—Lieut.-Col. RALPH VERNEY, C.I.E., C.V.O.

154″>Trainbearer to the Speaker—Mr. W. MURRELL.

155″>Examiners of Private Bills—Hon. E. GULLY, C.B. and EDWARD VIGORS, Esq.

156″>Taxing Master—Hon. E. GULLY, C.B. Clerk—

157″>Editor of Official Report of Debates—W. TURNER PERKINS, Esq.

158″>Assistant Editor—T. H. PARR, Esq.

159″>Vote Office—Principal Clerk—Major B. T. ST. JOHN. Assistant Clerk—J. G. MOUNSEY, Esq.

160″>Librarian—AUSTIN SMYTH, Esq. Assistant Librarian—J. V. KITTO, Esq.

161″>Clerks in Library—Mr. A. R. JARVIS FIRMIN and Mr. J. W. C. BEASLEY.

162″>Superintendent of Works—Mr. T. WILSON.

163″>Engineer in Residence—Mr. W. H. BOWDEN.

164″>Postmaster—Mr. T. R. THIRTLE.

165″>Officer in charge of Police—Inspector J. E. MASON.

166″>Refreshment Department Manager—Mr. R. J. BRADLEY.

167″>Revised, 17th May, 1926.

168″ IN THE SECOND SESSION OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.

169″ SEVENTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF

170″ HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V.

171″ SIXTH VOLUME OF SESSION 1926.

 

1

Monday, 17th May, 1926.
172″ [OFFICIAL REPORT.]

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

 

174″>Bermondsey Borough Council (Street Trading) Bill,175″>Read the Third time and passed.176″>Medway Conservancy Bill,

177″>Oldham Extension Bill,

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

179″>Leicestershire and Warwickshire Electric Power Bill, [Lords],

180″>Read a Second time, and committed.

181″>Bethlem Hospital Bill [Lords] (by Order),

182″>Second Reading deferred till Wednesday.

183″>”to confirm a Provisional Order made by one of His Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State under the Marriages Validity (Provisional Orders) Acts, 1905 and 1924,” presented by Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON-HICKS; 2read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and to be printed. [Bill 113.]
184″>”to confirm a Provisional Order under the Land Drainage Acts, 1861 and 1918, amending The Land Drainage (Ouse) Provisional Order Confirmation Act, 1925,” presented by Mr. GUINNESS; read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and be printed. [Bill 114.]

 

185″>2. Sir HENRY SLESSER asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he is aware that the Manor House, Beckington, Frome, Somerset, is about to be exported to America; and, if so, will he take any action to retain this beautiful Jacobean house in this Country?186″>Sir HARRY BARNSTON (for the First Commissioner of Works): The First Commissioner has caused inquiries to be made, but has been unable to obtain any information on the subject of this building. In any case, if inhabited, the3Department has no powers except to purchase, and for this purpose there are not, funds available.

187″>3. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he can inform the House how many men in the employment of the Houses of Parliament ceased work during the recent general strike and to what Unions they respectively belonged?188″>Sir H. BARNSTON: Of 72 men engaged on the Engineering Services of the Houses of Parliament, the number of men on strike varied from day to day, the maximum number being 47. The cleaning staff remained on duty during the whole of the strike period. In addition, 109 men employed by a Contractor on Building maintenance ceased work. The Department makes no inquiries as to what Unions its employés belong, but it may be assumed that the skilled men belonged to their appropriate craft unions and the unskilled men to the various unions which cater for that class of labour.189″>Mr. W. THORNE: Is there any truth in the statement that the First Commissioner of Works is attempting to force a reduction of 5s. a week on the men?

190″>Sir H. BARNSTON: The hon. Member should give notice of that question.

191″>Sir VANSITTART BOWATER: This being an illegal strike, do the Government purpose taking any action against the leaders of either of the unions that have affected this House for any damage that may have been caused?

192″>Sir H. BARNSTON: That question should be put to my hon. Friend, the Under Secretary of State.

193″>5. Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Minister of Labour whether he is able to give the House an appropriate figure of the amount lost in wages throughout Great Britain during the period of the general strike?194″>The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR. (Mr.4Betterton): It has not yet been possible to collect the material for making even an approximate estimate, but it is clear that the amount of wages lost will run into many millions.

195″>Mr. J BECKETT: Can the hon. Gentleman give us any idea of the amount of profit lost?

196″>Mr. BETTERTON: No, I cannot.

197″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: Is a return or estimate of the wages lost being prepared for the information of this House?

198″>Mr. BETTERTON: If the hon. and gallant Member will repeat his question later, I will give the best answer that I can. At the moment, it is not possible to give even an appropriate estimate.

199″>8. Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, apart from the general loss to British trade and commerce during the general strike, he is able to give the House an approximate statement of the sum necessarily expended by the Government in connection with the crisis?200″>The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER. (Mr. Churchill): I cannot estimate with complete accuracy the effect of the general strike on the Exchequer. The direct expenditure by the Government will probably not have been large. In some cases there will be countervailing receipts, and in others the strike has caused savings in normal expenditure—for instance, in practice, flying, at Woolwich Arsenal, &c. On the whole I do not anticipate that the net direct expenditure will exceed £750,000, and it may be less.
As regard revenue, increased Customs clearances before the strike may be set off against any Reduction during the strike period. The effect upon direct taxation would mainly appear in next year’s assessments, and any loss of profits may be made up by increased trade activity in the interval.
Assuming that the coal stoppage is not greatly prolonged and that there is an early return to normal conditions, I do not anticipate any appreciable disturbance in the out-turn of the current5financial year, and I see no reason at present to propose any additional taxation.

201″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is, perhaps, the cheapest attempt at a revolution in the history of the world?

202″>9. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether an estimate is being made of the cost of the recent strike, dividing it into actual expenditure by the Government and local authorities, respectively, and estimated loss of trade; and when it is expected that this will be ready?

203″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I do not think any reliable estimate can be framed for a considerable time, and I am not able to go beyond the answer I have just given to the hon. Member for the Acton Division of Middlesex (Sir H. Brittain).

204″>7. Captain GARRO-JONES asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the general terms of the Government’s agreement with the proprietors of the “Morning Post” for the printing and publication of the “British Gazette” upon its premises?

205″>Mr. CHURCHILL: Possession was taken by the Government of the premises and plant of the Morning Post Company under the Emergency Regulations, and it was agreed that during the term of requisition the Government should be responsible for all expenditure necessarily incurred by the Company in addition to expenditure directly incurred by the Government, and that all receipts in respect of the same period should accrue to the Government. No compensation for disturbance, nor for the non-appearance of an emergency issue, nor for any other indirect effects of the Government occupation of the premises was asked for by the directors of the newspaper.

206″>Mr. MONTAGUE: Did the Government also take possession of the editor?

207″>Mr. THURTLE: Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether the “Morning Post” was taken over because its normal output is most in harmony with that of the Government?

208″>Captain GARRO-JONES: I had not intended to put this question, but in

6view of the last part of the right hon. Gentleman’s reply, is it not a fact that, even had they asked for compensation, they would not have been able to get it, because no substantial compensation could arise for a journal making no profit?

209″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I think that is rather an ungracious suggestion, in view of the fact that no such request was addressed to the Government.

210″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: Is it not a fact that the “Morning Post” is the only newspaper that was willing and patriotic enough to offer its premises and services to His Majesty’s Government?

211″>Mr. CHURCHILL: No; that is not so. The “Morning Post” did offer its premises, but several other newspapers— important newspapers—were equally ready, had it been thought that their premises were equally convenient.

212″>Mr. J. JONES: Can the right hon. Gentleman say why the “Morning Post” was selected, in view of the fact that the “Morning Post” and its proprietor have been the principal opponents of the miners in this dispute?

213″>Mr. CHURCHILL: There was no particular favour in selecting the premises of a newspaper of this kind, and preventing it from appearing at all, even in an emergency edition, during the strike. I, personally, did not take any part in the decision to take these particular premises. They were selected by His Majesty’s Stationery Office, after careful examination of the different plants available, the different premises available and the suitability of those premises to the publication of a newspaper under strike conditions, and I accepted the advice which was tendered to me by the officials of the Stationery Office.

214″>Colonel APPLIN: May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the public do not owe a great debt to the proprietor and the editor of the “Morning Post”?

215″>Mr. J. JONES. Is it not most unfortunate that the Government should have selected a paper which has been the principal opponent—

216″>Mr. SPEAKER: Members are contributing their personal opinions.

7
217″>Mr. BASIL PETO (By Private Notice). asked the Home Secretary whether he has been informed that a motor car conspicuously labelled the “Bermondsey Council of Action” was in Palace Yard on Thursday evening at the rising of the House, whether he has any infomation as to the nature and the functions of this body, and by whose authority it is constituted, and if it exercises or claims to exercise any duties or functions which belong to His Majesty’s Government, or any local government, or municipality, or which are calculated to interfere with the rights and liberties of any of His Majesty’s subjects, and if so, whether he will take the necessary steps to put an end to this body and to deal in an appropriate manner with the persons who constitute it?218″>The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks): My attention had not previously been called to the motor car in question, but the body which owned it has had little effect on the recent strike, and, indeed, one benefit of the strike has been to prove the impotence of this and similar bodies.

219″>Mr. THURTLE: Does not this Council of Action bear a strong resemblance to the Ulster Committee of 1914?

220″>Mr. SPEAKER: That is a matter of personal opinion.

221″>Mr. B. PETO: Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, without giving undue advertisement to these people, he can inform the House who are the persons who actually constitute this impotent body, the Bermondsey Council of Action?

222″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I have not been able to find out who they are.

223″>Miss WILKINSON (by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister, whether he is aware that in spite of the appeal to the Prime Minister, the Wholesale Newsagents’ Federation still refuse to meet the representatives of that union, and, as a result, over 2,500 men are still out, and the distribution of newspapers is impeded? 8224″>The PRIME MINISTER: I regret to inform the hon. Lady that I have had no notice of that question. It is the first I have heard of it.225″>Miss WILKINSON: I am sorry. I placed it in the Speaker’s Office, and received his permission at precisely a quarter to twelve this morning.

226″>Mr. SPEAKER: I must say it is not my duty to pass on questions. I always assume that a Member has sent a copy to the Minister at the same time.

227″>Miss WILKINSON: May I apologise to you, Sir, and to the Prime Minister. It is owing to my lack of knowledge.

228″>Mr. BECKETT: In view of the very serious urgency, can the right hon. Gentleman, some time to-day or tomorrow, receive representations, or make inquiries about this matter?

229″>The PRIME MINISTER: I am afraid I have no knowledge of the subject at issue, but I will speak to the appropriate Minister.

230″>Mr. W. THORNE: May I ask whether the Prime Minister did not understand, and I think all of us understood, that when the printing trade made the arrangement along with the employers, newsagents were included, and that it was signed, sealed and settled?

231″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: On the point of procedure. On Friday I waited on you, Sir, with a Private Notice Question to the Prime Minister, and you told me to lodge it at 10, Downing Street, which I did. I have now received a note from you saying that there are Questions on to-morrow’s Order Paper, and that my question is anticipated. With all deference, that hardly seems a reason why, if I happen to be earlier than other questioners, I should not have the preference. The matter is urgent.

232″>Mr. SPEAKER: The hon. and learned Gentleman was not earlier. Another hon. Member had handed in a Question before the House rose on Friday. The hon. and learned Member handed his in after the House had risen.

233″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: May I point out that by taking the form of a Private Notice Question of an urgent matter which comes up to-day and not to-morrow,

9I did expedite it, because I took the more interruptions, I shall have to direct him to expeditious method?

234″>Mr. SPEAKER: It is my object to see that a Member does not get in front of another by that means.

235″>Miss WILKINSON: May I ask whether I may give notice of this Question for to-morrow?

236″>Mr. SPEAKER: To the Minister of Labour—yes.

237″>Mr. LUMLEY (by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state if dock workers who were not on strike, but were prevented from working during the strike, are entitled to unemployment pay?238″>Mr. BETTERTON: It has been held, subject to appeal to the statutory authorities that the general stoppage elsewhere than in the mining industry was not a trade dispute within the meaning of the Unemployment Insurance Acts. Accordingly, workers who were thrown out of employment involuntarily are not disqualified for benefit on account of the stoppage. It will, of course, be necessary for a claimant to show that his loss of employment was involuntary.239″>Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL: In view of that, will there be any charge on the trade union funds for those payments which have to be made in consequence of the stoppage?

240″>Mr. PALING: May I ask whether that decision has been arrived at since last Friday or Saturday, because in my own constituency there were some people who were refused benefit on this very point?

241″>Mr. BETTERTON: In such cases I recommend claimants to apply again. I am not quite sure when the decision of the Chief Insurance Officer was arrived at, but in such cases I would recommend they should apply again.

242″>Sir F. HALL: May I ask for a reply to the point I raised?

243″>Mr. J. JONES: You have not raised a point; you have raised the price of coal by 1s. a ton.

244″>Mr. SPEAKER: If the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) persists in these

10Interruptions, I shall have to direct him to withdraw from the House.

245″>Mr. JONES: Thank you, Sir.

246″>Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD: May I ask the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make as to the present position of the settlement.247″>The PRIME MINISTER: I have no statement to make to the House. I have no information to give which has not been made public in the usual way. I have no further information at the moment in regard to the mining situation.248″>Mr. W. THORNE: Will the Prime Minister say whether, in consequence of the stoppage in the coalfields, any effort is being made to prevent the exploitation of the coal already got in various parts of the country.

249″>The PRIME MINISTER: I should like to have notice of that question. It is not in my department. Obviously, that is a thing which will have to be safeguarded.

250″>Mr. J. JONES: In view of the questions put by the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich (Sir F. Hall), will the right hon. Gentleman say why the coal merchants of London have put up their price a penny per cwt. for coal since the dispute started?

251″>Mr. SPEAKER: That is another question.

252″>11. Viscount SANDON asked the Prime Minister whether the East African Loans Bill and the Smoke Abatement Bill can be taken before Whitsuntide; and if not, whether he can name a date?253″>The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin): I regret that it will not be possible to deal with either of these Measures before the Whitsuntide Recess.254″>12. Viscount SANDON asked the Prime Minister when it is proposed to introduce and give a second Reading to the Bill dealing with the recommendations of the Food Commission as to short weight, and whether its passage into law can be assured?

 

11255″>The PRIME MINISTER: A Bill to give effect to the recommendations of the Food Council is in an advanced stage of preparation, and I hope that it will be introduced at an early date.

256″>Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER: Is it the intention of the Government to take it right through all its stages this Session?

257″>The PRIME MINISTER: We must see about that. I do not think myself it will be very controversial; I hope not. If it does not prove to be very controversial, I have hopes of getting it through before we rise for the Summer Recess.

258″>4. Colonel DAY asked the Minister of Labour if his attention has been drawn to the death of Edward Cox, of Evers-leigh-road, Battersea, who was electro, cuted by an uninsulated wire when working on the South London Tube extension at Trinity-road Station; and, in view of the danger to workmen engaged on such undertakings, will he cause regulations to be made with a view to all electric cables being insulated?259″>The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): I have been asked to answer this question. My attention has been called to the accident to which the hon. Member refers. I am making certain inquiries, and propose to consider, when these are complete, whether there is any action that I could usefully take.260″>Colonel DAY: Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether uninsulated wire is used on account of economy?

261″>Colonel ASHLEY: I could not answer that question without notice.

262″>Mr. H. WILLIAMS: Is it possible to run electric railways with insulated cables?

263″>6. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has with regard to the present situation in Poland?264″>The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Cham-12berlain): My information adds nothing of substance to what has appeared in the Press. Marshal Pilsudski appears to be in control of Warsaw, and a provisional Government of non-party complexion has been set up, pending the election of a new President of the Republic in ten days’ time.

265″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I recognise the difficulties caused by the lack of news, but this new Government, I presume, has not yet been recognised by His Majesty’s Government?

266″>Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN: I have had no time for recognising a Government since this took place, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants information on that question, perhaps by Wednesday of next week I can give it. [Laughter] I meant Wednesday of this week.

267″>Colonel DAY asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is is yet in a position to make a statement as to the loss of public money at the British Museum bookstall?268″>The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Ronald McNeill): The total loss of public money to date has been £446 6s. 4d. The matter has been under continuous investigation, and arrangements have been made which, it is hoped, will result in cessation of losses269″>Colonel DAY: Can the right hon. Gentleman say what the new arrngements are?

270″>Mr. McNEILL: No, I cannot say exactly what are the new arrangements, but I presume they are in the nature of an increasing stringency in checking the accounts.

271″>That they have agreed to272″>Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, with Amendments.273″>Amendments to—

274″>Bristol Water Bill [Lords],

275″>Bristol Cemetery Bill [Lords], without Amendment.

276″>That they have passed a Bill, intituled, “An Act to authorise the Provost,

13Magistrates, and Councillors of the burgh of Helensburgh to extend their gasworks; and for other purposes.” [Helensburgh Gas Order Confirmation Bill [Lords.]

277″>Ordered (under Section 7 of The Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899) to be considered To-morrow.
278″>Lords Amendments to be considered Tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 115.]

 

279″>Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary the number of special constables that were recruited in the Metropolitan police district from 1st May, 1826, to and including 12th May, 1926.280″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: The number of special constables enrolled in the Metropolitan Police District from 1st to 12th instant inclusive was 51,000, apart from the Civil Constabulary Reserve.

281″>Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary the strength of the mounted unit of The Special Constabulary recruited since 3rd May.

282″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: The Mounted Special Constabulary consisted of four troops of 25 mounted men each, inclusive of the Inspector in charge.

 

 

283″>Mr. DUCKWORTH asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that, under the subsidy given for molasses, a further grant of 4s. 7·1d. over and above the 4s.3·8d. above per cwt. is given provided such molasses contain about 2 per 14cent, to 3 per cent. of extractable sugar, and that such sugar is wasted since the product is comparatively valueless; and whether he will consider the desirability of continuing such assistance?

284″>Mr. GUINNESS: I am aware of the differences in the rates of subsidy payable on molasses as set out in the First Schedule to the British Sugar (Subsidy) Act, 1925, but I would point out that the rates are related to the percentage of sweetening matter present, and not to the percentage of crystallised sugar which may be extractable from molasses by further independent process. I am assured that the factories endeavour to extract all possible sugar from the beet juice so as to leave as little sugar as possible in the residue in order to earn a greater amount of subsidy on sugar as sugar. With regard to the latter part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on the 4th May to the hon. Member for Blackpool (Sir W. de Frece). The cessation of State assistance upon any class of sugar product upon which subsidy is paid and Excise duty imposed would reduce the total measure of assistance granted by Parliament to the industry as a whole and would be a breach of faith. I am therefore not prepared to consider any alteration in the molasses scale.

 

 

285″>Colonel DAY asked the Minister of Health if his attention had been drawn to the increasing use of the ultra-violet ray by masseurs, barbers, and other unqualified persons; and, in view of the danger produced by over-dosage in certain cases, if he will consider action with a view to the registration of all persons who utilise this method of treatment?286″>Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN: I have not received any evidence of injury resulting from the use of ultra-violet rays by unqualified persons, but if the hon. Member is aware of any specific cases in which such injury has arisen I should be glad if he would furnish me with particulars with a view to further inquiry.

 

 

15 

287″ [8TH ALLOTTED DAY.]288″>Considered in Committee.289″ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]

290″>Motion made, and Question proposed,
“That a sum not exceeding £311,191 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the salaries and expenses of the office of the Privy Council for trade and Subordinate Departments, including certain services arising out of the War.”—[Note.—£210,000 has been voted on account.]291″>Sir ROBERT HAMILTON: It must be a matter of satisfaction to the whole House that to-day our deliberations can be continued free from the serious preoccupations of recent times, and that His Majesty’s Government can give their full endeavour to legitimate business: that our criticisms and observations are free. I hope I am not alone in taking exception to the great tendency of past years, that has been particularly marked during the last few years, by which matters formerly left to the legislation of this House have been to an increasing degree left to the control of Departments. That has been partially done by legislation which enabled Departments to which the matters were left to to make Rules and Orders. We have had a very marked result in the authority which has been assumed by the Departments, and in the action which has been taken by the Board of Trade in connection with the safeguarding of industries. It may have been necessary to take special and exceptional measures to deal with the circumstances then existing, but, for the sake of argument, I take the Act passed in 1921 as an instance of the special methods. When it was introduced, the Prime Minister said it was very difficult to legislate in the dark, to bring in ad hoc legislation of that nature without being able to see what the repercussions might be. Since that time we have gained further experience. We have seen the directions in16which the Safeguarding of Industries Act has been worked. Whatever good or whatever harm that Act may have done it has left us safeguarding. Whatever the original meaning attached to the safeguarding of the industries that were endangered by the War and by post-War conditions it has now come to mean little more than protection.
The greatest difficulty we had to meet after the War was the difficulty, a difficulty still with us to-day; of great unemployment caused throughout our manufacturing industries. It will be remembered that not very many years ago the present Prime Minister declared that the only way of dealing with the unemployment then existing was by introducing a protective system into this country. That suggestion was rejected. However, it was not very long afterwards that the Prime Minister was ready to take action, and declaring again he was not going to bring in a measure of Protection, said that whatever he did by way of relieving the difficulties of the country should be done by way of safeguarding. He declared that he had a mandate from the country to go in this way. On 17th December, in a Debate in this House, the right hon. Gentleman said:
“Any duty, in my view, levied under the Safeguarding of Industries Act should be a general and not a particular one.”— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1924; col. 1064, Vol. 179.]
Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by way of—

292″>The CHAIRMAN: It is not possible on the Resolution before the Committee to have a general debate on Protection. The Board of Trade have discretion as to the way the Safeguarding of Industries Act should be applied. If the hon. Gentleman confines himself to that he will be in order, but a general discussion on protection will not be in order.

293”>Sir R. HAMILTON: I accept your ruling, Mr. Hope. I was only leading up to the manner in which the White Paper, with which I wish particularly to deal, was introduced in the House. However, I will keep my remarks within the limit by saying that the Safeguarding of Industries Act which was promised to get over the difficulty of combining a general tariff and a limited tariff, was, in fact, never introduced: instead of having

17legislation to deal with this very vital matter affecting the whole country and affecting the whole of our industry, the whole trade system of the country was based upon this White Paper No. 2327. It may be perhaps as well at this moment to give the points to which I refer—I will try to keep within the Safeguarding of Industries Act—for however this matter may be understood in this House, I am sure it is not understood outside.
This White Paper is not based on any Act of Parliament whatever, and the whole action which has been taken in regard to the system under which our industries work and our commerce has been carried on is not based on legislation by this House, but merely based on a White Paper issued by a Department.
Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, dealing with key industries, expires, or would normally expire, on 1st October next, if it be not renewed. There are indications, however, that this part of the Act is likely to be renewed. Part II (a) of the Act still remains on the Statute Book, but has become dormant. Part II (b) has expired by the efflux of time, and Part II (a) has been replaced by the White Paper to which I have referred. As I have said, this White Paper is not based upon an Act of Parliament, but is the order of a department of the Government. On the 16th February, 1925, the President of the Board of Trade insisted that this White Paper laid down conditions which would have to be fulfilled before an industry could obtain assistance. When we come to deal with the White Paper, we shall see how very vague is the basis on which the committees appointed under that White Paper are expected to work, and that vagueness was, I am afraid, added to considerably by the action of the President of the Board of Trade himself when he said on the 11th June:
“The White Paper lays down procedure, inquiries and instructions, but such a word as ‘conditions’ is not used a single time. This is not an Act of Parliament, and is not to be interpreted as an Act of Parliament. It is to be interpreted in the most general and open way.”
Thus early we see that the idea that Committees were to be bound by the conditions laid down in this White Paper is thrown to the wind, and the President himself says interpretations of the

18most wide and open nature are to be given to the instructions contained in it. The White Paper is divided into two parts, one of them relating to the conditions under which industries may apply to the Board of Trade. When the Board of Trade has granted the Committee, there are instructions as to how the Committee are to deal with the application. What I wish to draw attention to is that from start to finish this paper is absolutely vague. There is nothing definite about it. Expressions are used which are open to the most conflicting constructions, and not only that, but we shall see that apart from the instructions to them laid down in this White Paper the Committees have been subject to influences from the President of the Board of Trade himself. An industry when applying to the Board of Trade has to follow a certain procedure. If the Board of Trade is satisfied that a prima facie case for an inquiry has been established, a committee is appointed and if the committee report that a duty ought to be imposed, the Board and the Treasury concur in the proposals. It is a sort of Box and Cox arrangement. If an industry goes to the Board of Trade and gets a committee appointed, the committee naturally think that all the conditions that it is necessary to fulfil have been fulfilled by the industry in its application to the Board of Trade, and, on the other hand, if the committee gives a finding the Board of Trade is able to refer to that finding and say that, because it has reported in that way, therefore, that must be the correct interpretation and the correct decision on the matters which have been submitted to it.
We do not even know what is an applicant industry. What is it that constitutes an industry? The worsted industry applied for a committee, although the trade union operatives of that industry opposed it most strongly. Are the operatives to be considered part of the industry or not? Then, too, what is “of substantial importance.” In the case of gas mantles, the industry was found to be of national importance on the intervention of the President himself, who instructed the committee that the use of such mantles during the war enabled gas to be stripped of various constituents which are essential for the manufacture of

19explosives, and gas so stripped would be practically useless for lighting purposes without incandescent mantles. It is not so much the instruction that was given that one objects to, but what one does find very good ground for objecting to is that the committee should be set up with certain rules which it is supposed to follow, and then that it should be subjected to instructions given to it by the very person who has set it up.
Again, we come to that extraordinary word “abnormal,” which has been the cause of very great difficulties—”abnormal importations.” This is a really pivotal matter, because, as I understand it, unless abnormal importation be proved, the whole of the case must fall to the ground. The President himself said, on the 10th February, 1925:
“Before an industry can obtain an inquiry into it it has got to show not only that in some countries wages are lower, but that the competition is exceptional and the rate of imports abnormal.”
However, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade pursued the matter further, and said:
“The committee’s definition of the word abnormal is not given so much weight to by the Government as a whole that they consider they must abandon the whole idea of a tax, because in that one particular the committee have not given an out-and-out ‘Yes.'”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th June, 1925; col. 2334, Vol. 184.]
Where the Committee gives an out-and-out ‘No’ they are instructed by the Board of Trade that that out-and-out ‘No’ can be interpreted into a ‘Yes.’ The President actually went further, and said:
“We are not to be bound by any rigid definition. I am by no means sure that if you take a reasonable definition of the word abnormal the lace imports are not abnormal.”
I quote that as another instance of the difficulties there must be in committees such as these interpreting instructions on so-called evidence which is not given on oath. Paragraph (3) of the instructions in Section II says:
“Whether the foreign goods so imported are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom at prices which are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured or produced into the United Kingdom.”
Those expressions “similar goods” and “can be profitably manufactured” have

20given rise naturally to the most conflicting decisions. What are “similar goods”? How can it be said that we can arrive at what are “similar goods,” and what is “profitably manufactured”? What is to be the rate of profit allowed? Paragraph (4) says:
“whether, by reason of the severity and extent of such competition, employment in the manufacture or production of such in the United Kingdom is being, or is likely to be, serious affected.”
Again, how is it possible for a committee to say whether employment in the manufacture or production of such goods in the United Kingdom is being or is likely to be seriously affected. Again, under paragraph (5) the committee are asked to decide
“whether such exceptional competition comes largely from countries where the conditions are so different from those in this country as to render the competition unfair.”
Anyone who has followed the labours of the committees must see at once what difficulties they are faced with in arriving at the proper meaning of the word “unfair.” I will not go into the various difficulties of the committees, and I have only referred to these points in the instructions in order to show the very great difficulties that the most informed committees must have in attempting to determine these questions. Pararaph (6) provides that the committee have to decide
“whether the applicant industry is being carried on in the United Kingdom with reasonable efficiency and economy.”
That is a very difficult question to inquire into, but unfortunately for the public the inquiries of this kind were mostly held in camera because it was supposed that trade secrets might be given away to trade competitors, and the result is that the general public is left entirely in ignorance of the grounds upon which the committee arrived at its decision. Under paragraph (7) the committee have to report
“whether the imposition of a duty on goods of the class or description in question would exert a serious adverse effect on employment in any other industry being an industry using goods of that class or description in production.”
That means that other industries have their say in the matter, but what about the merchant shopkeepers, and the consumer? The result of this is that while

21you have before the committee the persons engaged in industries whose interests may be affected by the production of this particular article, the shopkeepers and the consumers and the taxpayers are left out, and they have no locus standi before the committee. Section III deals with the constitution of committees. I do not want to say a word against the gentlemen who have given their time and labour endeavouring to give decisions on the very difficult matters that have been placed before them, guided only by these very vague instructions; but I do ask this committee to consider whether it is right that the whole system of trade and commerce should be dealt with in this manner by irresponsible committees appointed by the Department, guided by no laws of procedure and bound by no rules of evidence.
Sometimes, as I have already pointed out, the evidence is taken in camera, and consequently the whole country is in ignorance of the actual evidence given. It has been said that at some of the meetings of the committees a shorthand note of the evidence was taken and published and the findings they have come to in some cases raise the laughter of the whole world. Incidentally I should like to show the ignorant manner in which some of these difficult and complicated questions have been approached and dealt with. I will quote very shortly one or two instances of the conflicting results that have been arrived at by the labours of the different committees. Take, for example, gas mantles. In this case abnormal importation was not proved and the committees’ conclusion was based on other factors. In the case of gloves, if any hon. Member likes to look at the report, he will see how the imports were found to be abnormal by a calculation made of the retained imports on figures produced by the applicants which were subjected to no test at all. The committee that dealt with lace interpreted “similar goods” as being similar in appearance, but not similar in quality, whereas the committee which dealt with brooms and brushes decided in exactly the contrary sense, that is they said they must be similar in character, but not necessarily similar in appearance.
One unfortunate result of the working of these Committees in regard to the ques-

22tion of unfair competition has been connected with Germany. In one case we have seen that Germany is beginning to feel that the direction of legislation is being pointed against her, and the result of her world trade may be—I hope it will not—that it will have a very serious affect upon our trade in foreign markets. In regard to the paper bag trade there has-been a most extraordinary result. As a matter of fact the Federation of Paper Bag Manufacturers did not make an application to the Board of Trade, but it gave conditional evidence before the committee, and got a conditional judgment. There again the name of Germany was brought in, and although it was held that the German competition was not unfair, the committee held that the system adopted might be to the disadvantage of the producers in Great Britain.
I have quoted these instances as shortly as I can, and without elaboration, in order to bring before the committee what is actually happening before these various committees. We find conflicting decisions and interpretations, and we have a very serious unsettling of our industries, and that is the inevitable result because we get, as the Prime Minister himself pointed out, a kind of gambling in trade, and you are appointing a committee to protect your own particular industry. One industry gets this protection, and another industry, equally well entitled to it, fails to get that protection. There have been 34 applications made to the committees of which 13 have been rejected, and up to the present nine have been granted. The grounds on which some of the industries get protection before the committees are very confusing to the ordinary public, and this must necessarily be so, because the evidence on which the public can form their own judgment is very limited. We see that the authority of Parliament has not been increased by handing over these matters of such vital importance to departmental committees, and another incidental result that we see is that our taxation, instead of being dealt with all in one Finance Bill at one time of the year, is brought in by piecemeal legislation from time to time. This makes it very difficult for the House to consider the whole question of taxation, as it should be considered, at one time.

23I should like now to refer shortly to Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. Another committee was appointed recently to look into the working of Part I of the Act. The present Prime Minister, when, as President of the Board of Trade, he introduced, in May, 1921, the Financial Resolution for the Safeguarding of Industries Act, said:
“Whenever national defence came before the House of Commons the House was always practically unanimous; and in the matter of these key industries we believe we are presenting a list such that, the more it is examined, the more it will be found that the industries enumerated are absolutely necessary for national defence. The list has been cut down to the narrowest limits.”— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1921; col. 1552, Vol. 141.]
When, however, we look at the recently issued Report of this committee, which was presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, we see that the terms of reference to the committee were:
“to inquire into and report upon the effect of Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, on the development of the industries manufacturing the goods covered by the Schedule to that Act.”
That was the first part of the reference, and on page 5 of their Report they say:
“Products which were not manufactured in this country, or which were made here on a large scale for the first time during the period of national emergency, and which were initially safeguarded owing, in large measure, to their use in such a crisis, have since proved to be of fundamental importance in British industries and scientific research of all kinds. Whilst their key value in war should not, therefore, altogether be lost sight of, the key value of the industries for peace-time requirements is, we think, in general, itself adequate reason for taking special steps to ensure their healthy development in the United Kingdom.”
I suppose the “special steps to ensure their healthy development in the United Kingdom” were the continuation of the duty of 33⅓ per cent.

294″>The CHAIRMAN: With regard to this part of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, I understand that, so long as it is on the Statute Book, the Board has no discretion in the matter. Unlike the ordinary requirements of the other part, this part, if it has to be renewed, would have to be renewed by legislation, and it appears to me, therefore, that the question is one which cannot be discussed in Committee of Supply.

24295″>Sir R. HAMILTON: May I not refer to the Report of the Board of Trade Committee?

296″>The CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think so, but if the hon. Member is arguing as to whether it ought or ought not to be renewed, that is a purely legislative matter.

297″>The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister): May I point out that the Committee of Ways and Means has already passed the Resolution upon which is founded the provision for continuing these duties in the Finance Bill, which is going to be introduced on Wednesday?

298″>The CHAIRMAN: It is clearly a matter for the Finance Bill.

299″>Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER: Shall we not be entitled in this Debate to raise the question of the policy of the President of the Board of Trade in deciding to include specific articles covered by Part I? It is the policy of the Department that we want to attack, rather than the actual Bill itself.

300″>The CHAIRMAN: No; I think that legislation is required. Under Part II, the Board of Trade have a discretion as to whether they shall or shall not order the inquiry laid down in the procedure, and discussion on that would be in order, but in the other case it is purely a matter of legislation.

301″>Sir R. HAMILTON: I accept your ruling, of course, but there are so many departmental committees of the Board of Trade that one more or less would seem to make no difference. I should like now to refer to two other Committees of the Board of Trade, and I do not think I shall be out of order in doing so. They are referred to in the Merchandise Marks Bill.

302″>The CHAIRMAN. I understand that those Committees have been set up.

303″>Sir R. HAMILTON: It is proposed to set up two more committees.

304″>The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid the hon. Member will have to wait for that Bill.

305″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: It has already received its Second Reading.

306″>Sir R. HAMILTON: Yes, I was only going to refer to it as an illustra-

25tion of the number of committees which the Board of Trade has set up in pursuance of its present policy of government by Committees. I will conclude my remarks by simply saying that I hope what I have said with regard to the Committees set up under the White Paper will make the House hesitate, at this time of the day, and consider whether, in the case of a nation with the largest trade in the world, Committees of this sort can really be considered reasonable for dealing with matters which affect the whole population of the country, and whether it is not better to legislate openly in the House of Commons, and let the whole country know what we are doing in regard to any change in our fiscal system, rather than allowing such changes to be dealt with in some back room by irresponsible Committees set up by a Government Department.

307″>Mr. LLOYD GEORGE: I have very little to add to what has been said with such force and clearness by my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) about the particular Measure to which he has referred and the way in which it is administered by the Board of Trade. I would like to emphasise the importance of one point which my hon. Friend made, and that is that, before we come to any conclusions as to the working of this Act, we ought to be in possession of the evidence which has influenced the Committees in coming to their conclusions. Although we cannot discuss the merits of any legislation here, I think it is important that the considerations that have weighed with the committees in coming to their conclusions should be present to the mind of the House. We ought to know what the evidence is and what are the facts and the figures, and I cannot conceive why any part of this evidence should be suppressed. I can understand the delicacy of forcing trade witnesses to give evidence on matters which they regard as trade secrets. That, of course, is important. But there is one difference between this country and America, and I think it is rather in favour of America. It is that we have far more trade secrets than they have in America. They are far more open about what they are doing and the way in which they show their machinery and let the public into the secret of what they are doing. I remember, when the Census of

26Production Act was introduced, the difficulties one had in getting information of the most elementary character, because traders said, “You are forcing us to reveal our trade secrets.” It was very ridiculous, and it has since been discovered that there was nothing in that, point, and that some of their rivals knew all about them already. In so far as these secrets are patented, they can be ascertained from the specifications, and in so far as they are not patented you may depend upon it that in some way or other they are discovered. Therefore, it is perfectly absurd that these facts and figures, which are such an element in inducing the committees to arrive at their decisions, should be withheld from the public. It is the public who have to judge, and it is the public who have to suffer if a mistake is made. I, therefore, would enforce as far as I can the contention of my hon. Friend on that subject.
But those are not the questions I wanted specially to address to the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to know from him first of all, whether the judgment he gave the House a fortnight or three weeks ago about the trade position has been in any degree modified by the figures for April. When he made that very illuminating survey of the situation, he had not the April figures in mind. For instance, he pointed out that, whereas a year or two ago the percentage we have regained of our export trade was something like 75 per cent., at the end of the first three months of the year we had actually regained 82 per cent. of our trade. I do not know how he arrived at those figures. Probably he was thinking of volume and not value.

308″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: Yes, everything was brought down to the proper denominator.

309″>Mr. LLOYD GEORGE: And probably upon that basis 82 per cent. was a very fair calculation. But since then the figures are very much worse. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has made any computation taking the four months, whether he can explain why the month of April was so bad, and whether he can extract some measure of hope out of the facts in his possession which will encourage the public, which stands sadly in need of encouragement. I should also like to know what is the position of the

27Census of Production. Owing to the War, we were unable to have our decennial valuation return. Last year the President of the Board of Trade inaugurated a fresh Census under the Act that I carried in 1906. I should like to know whether the Board of Trade can issue some preliminary figures, because I have not been able to find two experts to agree as to what has happened with regard to British trade at all. We have recovered anything from 75 to 82 per cent. of our export trade, which means that on the whole we are certainly 20 per cent. down as far as foreign trade is concerned. Then we are told that is more than made up by the increase in our production in the home market. It is, therefore, very important that we should know exactly what the position is, whether production as a whole is stationary, whether it has increased or diminished, in what respect it has decreased, where it has been depressed and where it has appreciated. I can well understand that with a gigantic task like that of tabulating the whole of the returns of the census of production the right hon. Gentleman could not give us a full report for a very long time to come, but could he not give us something like a kind of preliminary report, something like the census authorities of the Ministry of Health and the Registrar-General give with regard to the census of population—something that will give aggregate figures, at any rate which will give the country some kind of idea of what is happening with regard to production.
The next question I should like to ask is how is the inquiry getting on. There was an inquiry into British trade set lip in 1924. We have already had two reports, both very valuable, but neither bringing us up to what we really want to know. There is a mass of information of a very valuble but inconclusive character. I am not complaining, because they themselves up to the present have not reached their conclusions, and they are simply giving from time to time provisional opinions with regard to two or three matters of the greatest importance when you want to form conclusions. One would like to know whether there is any hope of the inquiry being brought to a termination, and of our receiving the report at an early date because there are a great many very disquieting features

28still in the outlook, and if they are able to dispel these clouds, if they are able to point out that they are purely temporary and provisional, and that things are gradually improving, giving good ground for hope in the future, that would be very encouraging to British industry. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to inform us, first of all, when he is likely to give us the first preliminary report under the census of production, when we are likely to get the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the whole position of British industry, and if he has modified his estimates to any extent in consequence of the returns for April.

310″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I welcome the questions that have been put by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and I hope we shall get some information on those points. It must be in the mind of many hon. Members that as the result of the happenings of the last fortnight, this Department must be, I suppose, above all others, the one most likely to have to come to the House for supplementary Estimates. It will be time to criticise those Estimates when they are presented, but perhaps one might say a word or two about the work that is likely to be the subject of a supplementary Estimate in advance. Perhaps I have had in the last fortnight or so, amidst all my other anxieties, as much to do with the people who have been working in the right hon. Gentleman’s Department on special emergency food work as any hon. Member, and probably more. While one regretted the grave circumstances which led to the necessity for putting into operation any food emergency measures, I want in fairness to say that, so far as my experience went, the help that was given by the Department was careful, courteous, and impartial, and it was appreciated by many of us who had to busy ourselves extensively with what was, after all, our prime function of feeding the people for whom we were responsible. We will deal with the supplementary Estimates when they come, but it is only fair, on a day like this, to make that acknowledgment.
4.0 P.M.
In regard to the general Vote, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there are many things still giving us grave cause for anxiety in the trade out-look, and I think we have to come up against the fact that we depend upon our export trade perhaps

29more than upon anything else. I am reminded that the Prime Minister, at Knowsley, in July of last year, said:
“We are depending more than any country on our export trade for the support of our great population.”
There is nothing, so far as I can see, very encouraging in the present outlook for our export trade. I endorse what was said just now about the fullness and clearness of the statement which the President of the Board of Trade made on the 29th April, which was much appreciated, but, when I look at the figures, I am rather doubtful about his optimism in the matter, although, of course, we all would like to be optimistic to-day in trade matters. For example, the exports for 1923 amounted to £767,000,000; in 1924, to £800,000,000; and in 1925, to £773,000,000. Whereas, comparing 1923 and 1924, we had an increase of £33,000,000, comparing 1924 with 1925, we had a decrease of £27,000,000. Of course, I agree that one must be careful in drawing too close a conclusion because of the working of world and national prices, but, even when you have allowed for the substitution of the 1924 for the 1925 prices, there is still a net reduction in exports of over £6,000,000. Moreover, that tendency is not corrected, so far as one can judge from the returns, for the first three months of this year.

311″>Mr. LLOYD GEORGE: Four months.

312″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I am taking the first three months, because I have had more time to examine them. I only saw the other figures in the “Board of Trade Journal” this morning. Taking the first three months, whereas our exports for 1925 amounted to £208,000,000 those in the present year have amounted only to £189,000,000. There is not such a marked difference in prices between those two periods and 1924, and the figures are not at all encouraging. Moreover, the same tendency is reflected if one looks at the balance of trade during the past two years. In 1924, the surplus of imports over exports was £324,000,000, and in 1925 it was £385,000,000. That also is a very serious factor to take into account. I noticed— I think in one of the January numbers of the “Board of Trade Journal”—a reference to the balance available for oversea investment, and I think the

30figure given there for 1924 was something like £63,000,000.

313”>Sir FREDRIC WISE indicated dissent.

314″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I am quoting the “Board of Trade Journal.” I know the hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) is an expert in these matters, but he must forgive me if I rely upon those with whom I worked for some, months in an official capacity, and whose authority I respect. They give the figure for 1924 as £63,000,000, and as having been reduced in 1925 to £28,000,000. These figures give us cumulative cause for anxiety in that they all point the same way, that trade is not improving in spite of the publication of different figures with regard to unemployment. These figures of the Board of Trade do not seem to me to justify the optimism which some people feel when they read the figures published by the Minister of Labour. I have read from time to time the speeches of the President of the Board of Trade in this country on these matters, and I have selected a couple of statements from these speeches. He will remember saying this at Middles brough in September:
“The Government ought to act to the full within the limits where Government action is useful. The job of the Government is to try both in what it did and no less in what it left undone to create conditions under which industry could best thrive and compete.”
Perhaps one of the burdens of our criticism will be that it is not merely what the President has done, but what he has left undone which has contributed to the failure to secure that trade recovery which so many of us desire. For example, speaking on a later date in the Debate on the Safeguarding Duties, he said:
“What has been exercising my mind is how to correct the enormously increasing adverse balance of trade.”
He will remember these words I am sure:
“How can we export more than we are exporting at the present time?”
He will forgive my saying so, but there does not seem to have been very much result from the exercise of his mind since that particular Debate. What has happened with regard to the Board of Trade policy in connection with safeguarding? I wonder if the President will tell us that the considered policy of safeguarding is assisting the development

31of export trade. I shall be very interested to hear what he has to say about that. I know he has information available to himself which is hardly available to us, but, so far as we can judge from cold print, the figures which are supplied to us by the Board of Trade in the White Papers and in the Board of Trade Journals show that, so far from assisting export trade, the operation of the Safeguarding Duties has actually interfered with export trade. My reading of the trade results since the Safeguarding policy was adopted, leads me to this conclusion: That the export trade in touring cars and cabs has been materially retarded and the re-export trade seriously damaged; that the re-export trade in clocks has been damaged; that the export trade and re-export trade in watches has been damaged; in the case of cutlery, that the export trade in knives, scissors, and razors in all cases has been damaged, although I admit that in that case we have not had a very long period in which to form a judgment; in the case of lace, the duty in which has been operating for a considerable period, that the export and re-export trade has been very seriously damaged indeed. We were informed a few days ago that the “British Gazette” was the official organ of the Government, so that I suppose any utterances from that organ about trade will carry great authority. [Interruption.] You cannot have it both ways. If the “British Gazette” was the authoritative organ of the Government during the past fortnight, we must give due weight to it, and this is what it says:
“Employment in the lace industry has become very bad indeed.”
I think the President will not desire to dispute that fact. There is complete evidence from the trade returns concerning lace that the position has grown very much worse since the imposition of the duty than was the case before.

315″>Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE: What about the Tiverton lace factory?

316″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I shall be very interested presently to listen to what the hon. and gallant Member has to say about that.

317″>Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE: There were 55 per cent. unemployed in

32June, and there are only 11 per cent. unemployed now.

318″>Mr. ALEXANDER: That depends upon what they are making. I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte) will tell us later. It does not, however, destroy my argument for one moment. I am taking the published returns for the whole of the lace industry in the country, and, judging from those published figures, there can be no doubt that the position has worsened and has not improved. I want to take another point, where I think the President might have done more for the trade of the country than he has done. There have been two or three legislative matters before the House of Commons, for which I do not suggest the President is responsible, but where we think he might have brought far more pressure upon those responsible for the policy than he did on behalf of British trade. If you take the effect upon our export trade of the contributory scheme for pensions, so far from acting on behalf of trade and protecting against impositions of that kind upon industry, I gather—

319″>The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid this point cannot be pursued. It is purely a legislative matter, and, in any case, it is a matter for which other members of the Cabinet are responsible.

320″>Mr. ALEXANDER: This is the Board of Trade Vote, and what we are anxious to say on this occasion is that we should have liked to have seen far more open opposition to something which injured trade from the Cabinet Minister in charge of the Department of Trade than was actually the case. There is no doubt in our mind that the contributory scheme with its charge upon industry has been a factor in retarding our export trade. I can see the Chairman has his eye upon me and I will not go into the figures, but the same remark applies to Unemployment Insurance contributions and the return to the Gold Standard. There is another matter on which I hope I shall be able to keep in order, and it is the question of the general policy of the Government in urging people to buy British goods. That is a very fine appeal to patriotic sentiment, and one with which I do not at all quarrel, but, if that is to be the main policy of the Government for rehabilitating trade in general and

33for helping export trade, then I am afraid that they are going to be very disappointed in the results, for they will be failing to keep in mind, as I gathered on April 29th the President wanted to keep in mind, the importance of the European and foreign markets as well as of w the home market and the British Empire market.
I want to impress upon the committee, if I may, the very great importance of the European market. There has been far too big a tendency in this House during the last two or three years to overlook the importance of the European market in striving for the development of the Empire market. I have been into the figures again, and I find that in 1913 our European market was 34 per cent. of the whole of our market, and in 1924 it was 31 per cent. Obviously, if we can do anything to restore the purchasing capacity of Europe, and to develop their potential buying power, we shall be doing far more for the immediate relief of British trade depression than by simply going on with a policy of trying to get our people to buy British goods. It has to be remembered that every time we develop here and there a home trade by the slogan, “Buy British Goods,” we actually displace probably as much, and probably more, British labour from industries which have been, and would be, making goods for export. So much as you develop British produce for the home market, so much you displace labour which has been engaged in making goods for export; and, whilst I am not at all against a general policy of assisting British production for the British markets, I think we ought not to lose sight of the fact that we shall be displacing a considerable portion of the trade at present carried on in the export department. I am disappointed, therefore, that that has been really the chief contribution, the biggest contribution, that the Board of Trade has been able to make towards the rehabilitation of British trade.
I should like to emphasize in connection with that the great disappointment that we feel—I know the President expected me to say this—that the Government have not been more willing to recognise the potentiality of the Russian market. I notice the hon. and gallant Member for the Everton division of Liverpool (Colonel Woodcock) smiles.

34It is not the first time he has smiled, but the actual experience of some of those who are engaged in Russian trade is not such as would bear out his apparent view. I speak for those who have been engaged in Russian trade now for nearly three years, and who, considering the limited sphere, have done a tremendous volume of trade with Russia. It has amounted to millions of pounds, and there has not been a single bill—post-dated bills as well as other bills—which has not been met on the day when it was due. We have had every kind of inducement from our experience in the matter to go into further business with Russia. The answer of the President of the Board of Trade will probably be, “You can trade with Russia. We are not stopping you from trading with Russia.” I know that will be the answer; but whereas we are prepared to do the business in a reasonable discounting way, the policy of the Government and the utterances of its members and particularly of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in places like Battersea, are not such as to give confidence to other people in the City to discount Russian bills at a reasonable rate.
If trade with Russia was discounted by the various interests concerned at the same rate that we have been able to do it, there would not be anything like the same cause for pressing the Government to extend the credit facilities policy to Russia. It is largely the political policy of the Government, apparently supported by the President of the Board of Trade through his utterances, that leads to unsettlement with regard to Russian trade. We urge that the Government should quite frankly admit that they have been wrong in regard to the Russian trade position. Their attitude has been wrong. I think that events will prove that it has been wrong, and will prove even to the Government that they have been wrong. We have proved from our experience the soundness of going into trade with Russia, and we believe that if the Government will extend their hand to assisting trade with Russia, other people besides ourselves will be able to enjoy the benefits of trade in that direction.
I want to say a word or two in regard to the general policy which has been

35adumbrated respecting the development of trade with the Empire, and I wish to emphasise that it will be of little use our developing a policy for increased Empire trade unless the increase that we get in that trade is an actual increase on the whole of our turnover. If we are going to get a development of Empire trade simply by the displacement of our business with the foreign market or of some measure of our home trade, it will not be of any use to us at all. If we are to have real development it must be something which will develop in addition to all the existing arrangements of trade that we have to-day. In that connection, I am sorry that the Board of Trade, apparently, have not paid very much attention to what has been developing in the Dominions. I asked a question without notice the other day on that matter, and I apoligised for doing so; but the President of the Board of Trade did not seem to know very much about the development of the policy of Control Boards in New Zealand and Australia.
I want to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell us officially on behalf of the Government what is the present position with regard to Control Boards in New Zealand, Australia, and possibly Canada. I do not know much about the Canadian position, but I gather that they are moving towards some pooling in regard to wheat. I am particularly interested in the case of New Zealand. As far as I have been able to ascertain, and this is why I want official information, the Control Board in New Zealand has a good deal of Government backing. It is not actually a Government Board, but it seems to have a semi-official character. That Board proposes to regulate all c.i.f. contracts, and this arrangement will mean that the products coming from New Zealand to this country will be placed in their hands, and the prices we believe will be raised to the British consumer. The Board will control importers on this side—I had fears it might operate during the national emergency—and importers will not be able to obtain the supplies they require except at the will of this Control Board. I deduce from that, that by the raising of the price, Empire trade will be damaged, and some people are saying that it is already being damaged.

36321″>Mr. HURD: Is it in operation, or is it proposed?

322″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I gather that the actual functioning of the Board is not to take place until the 1st August, but that some officer is acting from the 1st May in London. On that point I want official information. The President of the Board of Trade knows how important is the dairy trade of New Zealand with this country. We take 22 per cent of the Butter we import from New Zealand, and we take 48 per cent. of the cheese we import from New Zealand. This trade, apparently, is to be placed in the hands of the more or less rigid control of a Board, which is not merely a private pooling Board, but has some amount of Government backing. That is a point which should be within the knowledge of the Board of Trade. If the Board is going to function to the detriment of British traders in this country, the Board of Trade ought to make representation to the Dominion Government on the matter.
I would like to utter a word of warning to those who are interested in this Control Board, and draw attention to an article which appeared in the “Imperial Food Journal” on the 22nd April. We have enjoyed in the last few years considerable development in the New Zealand butter trade; very good quality of butter well-graded, reliable always at whatever time of shipment as to quality. But they must not think that they are going to play ducks and drakes with the British importer because they have got to a position like that. Here is an interesting quotation from the “Imperial Food Journal:”
“An examination of the new season’s Siberian butter now arriving in London reveals 10 per cent. superfine quality, 70 per cent. first-grade quality, as compared with last year 10 per cent. first quality, 90 per cent. second and third qualities.”
There can be no doubt, from this and other articles I have read, that Siberian and Argentine supplies are going to be very severe competitors with New Zealand imports into this country; increasingly severe, and of every quality. If we are not to have any help in regard to trade with Russia on the one hand, and we are to have the policy of trying to develop trade with the Empire on the other hand, is it not possible for the Board of Trade to

37make the position quite clear to the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government, if a similar control begins to operate in Australia. I speak for those who have a considerable knowledge of, and considerable trade in, these particular products. We are engaged every week in handling very large quantities of these particular products, whether from New Zealand or Siberia or other parts of the world, and we do not like the present outlook, in view of the promised operations of this Control Board, and we should like to know what is the attitude of the Government in regard to it.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the attitude of the Board of Trade towards the development of the inquiry by the League of Nations through the Economic Conference. I observe that the Government have sent to the preparatory Committee two gentlemen in whom we all have confidence, Sir Arthur Bal-four, whose capacity we all know, and whose devotion to public duty we all admire, and Mr. Layton, the editor of the “Economist.” When the Economic Conference was under discussion last September at Geneva, M. Loucher said that one of the most important things to bear in mind was that if they were to get a really exhaustive and fruitful inquiry into international trade, economic relationships, statistics of consumption and the like, it was essential that working class interests should be consulted. I am glad to say that some of the other nations which have been represented in the discussions of the Preparatory Committee have had the good sense to take into consultation working-class representatives with trade experience.
I know that some hon. Members will smile when I say it, but there is no better working-class trade experience in the world than co-operative trade experience, and three Governments have appointed to the Preparatory Committee as one of their representatives a prominent national co-operator. We should have appreciated it if that could have been arranged in this country. I do not suggest that a co-operator should take the place of one of the two eminent gentlemen who have been appointed as representatives of this cuontry, but I do ask of a country like ours, going into a discussion of this kind, if it is not possible to give direct representation to the co-operative move-

38ment of this country, that the President of the Board of Trade should arrange that co-operative information and advice on international, as well as national, co-operation should be made available to the representatives who have been appointed to represent the British Government. That is not all that we should desire, and I think I am not asking too much. I believe that the trade of the world will only recover, as we would all like to see it recover, when there is a far greater measure of international co-operation in relation to finance and trade than we have at the present time. As far as we are concerned in our own co-operative movement, we have already obtained very considerable experience through our international wholesale trading society, and we hope to get further experience in regard to international co-operative banks, which ought to be put at the disposal of the representatives who are engaged on behalf of the British Government in the work of the Preparatory Committee at Geneva.
With respect to the operation of the Preparatory Committee, I have read hastily the first Report of the Preparatory Committee issued by the International Labour Office. I take one or two paragraphs. Here is one:
“They consider it to be most desirable that producing States should make a serious effort to fill the gap occasioned by the lack of regular compilation of data regarding mining and industrial output, the index number of production, and the movements of trade and industry, together with statistics of stocks.”
That emphasises the request which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made for information as to the position of the returns of the census of production recently undertaken. It is obvious that the International Committee are anxious for a census of production to be undertaken in all the countries which will be a party to the international economic discussions, and I should like to know whether the President of the Board of Trade will be able to assist them with that information. I notice also that they passed this resolution:
“Governments should collect and publish at intervals as short and regular as possible adequate statistical data to serve as the basis of such indices, and they therefore request the Council to address a strong re-

39presentation to the various States calling their attention to the great importance attached to the collection of statistics of production.”
Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade can tell us whether he has received from the Preparatory Committee at Geneva this request, and if he is prepared to meet it The Committee further say:
“They have been obliged to recognise that among the factors which contribute most to the economic difficulties of the present moment and to the excessive fluctuations of prices which accompany them the following are deserving of special attention.”
I am not going to keep the Committee long, but I do want to draw the attention of the President to this point. These are their conclusions:
“1. The excessive and artificial development of certain industries which were created to meet war needs and which are incompatible with the proper organisation of economic life in time of peace as well as the establishment, under the influence of economic nationalism, of certain industries which present the character of artificiality on the one hand because they aggravate world over-production, and on the other because they bear no relation to the resources and traditions of the countries which have created them.”
I am certain the President of the Board of Trade will have to give attention to the view expressed by the Preparatory Committee, and I hope you, Mr. Hope, will not pull me up when I say that it is something which must immediately be taken into account in connection with the policy of the Government in asking the House to renew Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. Nearly the whole of the products covered by that Section of the Act—

323″>The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member is not entitled to pursue that topic at this time.

324″>Mr. ALEXANDER: We shall have to try and raise that question at another time, but it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who has studied the question and who is anxious to see the rehabilitation of world trade—which alone is going to do us good—that we must adopt some policy which will not lead to the special and artificial fostering of a trade in this or that country but which will lead to the development

40of production on a far more co-operative basis, using the resources of the world for the benefit of the whole trading nations of the world, not always keeping in mind our immediate interest in fostering a particular industry in this country. I am sorry your view, Mr. Hope, will not allow me to pursue that matter further at the present time. The only other question to which I want to call attention is this. Since the War there has been a great difference between pre-War and post-War experience in the relation of wholesale and retail prices. I have looked at a number of statistical charts, and whereas before the War it was very rare to find a long period during which the retail level of prices remained considerably above the level of wholesale prices, since the War there have been quite long periods, as long as seven and eight months, when a fall in the level of wholesale prices has not been met by a corresponding fall in retail prices. That is a point to which the Board of Trade should give careful attention.
I expect the President of the Board of Trade will say that, as far as food prices are concerned, the Food Council has been set up, and it is functioning, but only as far as the very limited powers he has bestowed upon the Food Council will allow them to go; and that these things will improve. It is true that in the last 12 months prices have been gradually falling, but if you take the end of 1925 you have the curious experience, especially as regards food, of a rising retail price with a falling wholesale price. I know that is largely due to the lag which nearly always takes place between the one overtaking the other, but when I compared the statistics of the post-war period, with the pre-War period, I think, as a result of what took place in fixing retail prices during the War that there has been a consistent tendency since to charge too large a part to the consumer in the retail price. From the evidence given by some of the witnesses from the wholesale side before the Balfour Committee, it would appear that whereas the wholesale side of trade since the War has suffered heavy losses owing to the variations in the market, it has been a rare occurrence for the retailers to make similar sacrifices. The Board of Trade might give some attention to this matter and see whether there is not some way in which they can assist the productive

41and wholesale trade by making some arrangement by which the retail prices may be more in accordance with wholesale prices.
As far as food is concerned, I do not think the action of the Food Council has always been as helpful as it might have been. Take bread. Not long ago the Food Council issued a Report in which they suggested what should be the varying figures of the price of bread based upon the price of flour. My information is that they formed their conclusions very largely from the figures which we submitted on behalf of one of our largest operative societies. The figure issued by the Food Council for the price of bread is higher than is necessary. From the statistics we put in on behalf of the Co-operative Society we found, after making every allowance for establishment charges and depreciation for trade union conditions, and even for such charges as life assurance, that we could make a higher profit than would be necessary if we charged the price as fixed by the Food Council.

325″>Mr. HURD: Nationally.

326″>Mr. ALEXANDER: Yes, even nationally. I do not say that all co-operative societies are perfect, but from the detailed costings which we freely gave to the Food Council, too high a price is fixed by the Food Council. And on what ground? It is on the ground that if they do not fix that price, the inefficient and small people will have to go out of business. If there is to be a recovery of British trade, if the President of the Board of Trade is to have regard to the various factors which contribute to the cost of production, it will not do for the Food Council to think of things which will keep inefficiency established, and keep the cost of living so high as to affect the cost of production. I am sorry, therefore, that the Food Council has not taken more effective action. If the President of the Board really wants to produce such an effect upon the cost of living as will have a beneficial effect upon the cost of production, then he must arm the Food Council with far more drastic powers than they have at present. I make no complaint of the personnel of the Food Council, but you are giving them an impossible task in trying to get the cost of living down until you

42give them far more plenary powers than they have at present. I am obliged to the committee for the patience with which they have listened to me, and I hope we may have some reply from the President of the Board of Trade which will reassure us on some of the points raised.

327″>Sir ROBERT HORNE: I have listened with intense interest to the speech by the hon. Member, who rendered during his term of office most distinguished service to the Board of Trade. The impression which his speech gives is one of wide knowledge of the subject with which he has been dealing and a clear point of view, although it is not one with which I entirely agree, as to what our trade policy ought to be. He spoke with obvious enthusiasm, which reminded me of the controversies of years ago of leaving to other countries the business of making things which they can best make, and confining our activities to making those things which are within our capacity. That would be a very benign theory if we could get other people to accept it as well.
There are many things which we could supply to the great continent of America at a much cheaper price than the same commodities are manufactured in the United States to-day. But, unfortunately, the United States does not look at it in that light, and they put a very severe embargo on the commodities which we can best make going into their markets. If we are going to be perpetually excluded from almost every other market in the world, except at a high ransom, then obviously we shall have to turn our own methods into the production of whatever we can have a chance of selling, and not only is some policy of safeguarding necessary, but the experience we have had during the last two or three years has been quite sufficient justification for the measures which have been adopted. The hon. Member has asked about results, and I have no doubt the President of the Board of Trade will give him a much better answer than I can. But it was perfectly apparent to me that he was forgetting altogether the increased consumption of the home market through the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
The hon. Gentleman made a reference, as he was bound to do, to our neglect of

43trade with Russia. I am sure that he will not accuse me of any particular reluctance to trade with that country, because he knows that I was a signatory to a trade agreement which was made with Russia. Unfortunately that agreement produced very disappointing results. It offered us conditions which I in my heart believed would bring about an increased flow of trade between Russia and this country. But very little has developed from the arrangements which were made in that agreement. People who made no agreement at all have done just as well as we have, and our unhappy experience has been that nearly every stipulation that was solemnly made in that document has been broken from time to time and has been broken in the most flagrant fashion during the past 10 days by people who solemnly bound themselves to its terms. That is not very encouraging. But if the hon. Member takes it from the trade point of view alone, I think he will find that the ordinary trader in this country and the banks in this country are offering to Russian trade all the advantages it is possible to offer from a business point of view. I confess I do not understand what the hon. Member meant when he said that the Government should do something special to encourage trade with Russia. Why should we not do something special to encourage trade with other parts of the world which are more favourable to us?

328″>Mr. ALEXANDER: All I ask is that the Government should not mete out special disabilities to Russia, but should include Russia in the same insurance schemes as all other countries.

329″>Sir R. HORNE: My hon. Friend is surely exaggerating that point of view, because, as he knows, not only does the Export Credits scheme not extend to all countries, but there are some insurance schemes which are as yet not applied to any other country at all. These, I believe, are under consideration. You must take into account in trade the particular state of your debtor and his reliability. One might use the very illustration which the hon. Gentleman used, of a certain amount of trade being done by individuals in this country with Russia. It shows there are people who are not at all unwilling to take the burden

44of that trade, provided the advantages offered to them are sufficient. In my belief the only way in which you will succeed in the end in creating any trade with Russia is by letting it develop along normal channels. After all, what is the gravamen of this attack? What does the hon. Gentleman expect that trade with Russia will amount to altogether at the best? We know what it was before the War, when Russia was a rich country, with its resources developing and when it included a very much larger territory and a more immense population than that of to-day. The whole of its trade, even at the zenith of its career, was not more than is given us in manufactured articles by our little Dominion of New Zealand.
When the hon. Gentleman contrasts the development of Continental and Russian trade with Empire trade and asks us to turn our eyes to the Continent of Europe and Russia rather than to our Dominions, he is asking something which it would be madness for us to adopt. He used a phrase which seemed to me to be full of fallacy. He said that we were only substituting Empire trade for our Continental trade. But surely that is not the position at all? To-day we have a capacity for manufacturing goods sufficient to supply not merely the Dominions but our old European customers. It is only because they are not buying from us that we are not selling to them. We can, at any time, develop that European trade without in any way making a substitution, to the advantage both of the people who are able to buy from us and those who are able to sell.
I leave that particular part of the hon. Gentleman’s speech in order to refer in passing to another point. I have seldom found anyone—it is somewhat refreshing to find anyone now—who is so confirmed a Free Trader as my hon. Friend. He not only deprecates the putting on of any imposts upon foreign goods coming into this country, so as to give an advantage to our own producers, but he disapproves of the Board of Trade issuing to the community an injunction to “Buy British goods.” He says: “Do you not understand that if they buy British goods they are checking an export?” The cult of Free Trade could go no further than that. I do not propose, even if I thought I was

45capable of doing it, to disabuse my hon. Friend of that particular point of view. I should prefer that he should hold it determinedly and utter it constantly, and I hope that he and the Labour party will go to the country at the next Election with the slogan “Buy foreign goods.”
The only part of the hon. Member’s speech with which I agreed was that in which he dealt with the present anxieties of our trade. I do not think that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will disagree, that the present is an occasion for some disquietude. 1925 was a very bad year. It was worse than 1924, which in itself was bad enough. All our great staple trades were really in the abyss of despair. The steel trade manufactured last year 800,000 tons of steel less than in the year before. The shipbuilding trade is in a morass. The cotton and woollen trades have had a very bad time. It is true that the first quarter of this year showed some signs of revival, particularly in the month of March. But April has blasted all our hopes, and, owing to recent events, we must anticipate that the month of May will show a further decline in the volume of our trade. If you take the first quarter of this year as being a period of rather better trade, you will find that whereas our imports have gone up by 16 per cent. over our imports of 1913, our exports have gone down by 20 per cent. as compared with our exports of 1913. That is the period to which it is necessary to look back, because it is the only year by which we can measure our prosperity.
These figures reveal a very serious state of affairs. They reveal an adverse balance of trade of colossal dimensions, and unfortunately that situation does not seem to grow better. It seems, rather, on the whole, to grow worse. One read last year the explanations which came from the Board of Trade with regard to the way in which that adverse balance was made up, but I do not think that even those explanations would be sufficient to cover the adverse balance of the present year, and if things go on as they are that advance balance must increase. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade shakes his head. I shall be very glad to hear from him that he can give a more optimistic account of

46the situation. I think that everyone who has considered the figures of the present year looks at them with extreme anxiety. One had been hopeful that there might have been some change in the world’s trade which would have brought us into a position of greater prosperity. There are various suggestions which have been made for reviving the trade of this country. We adopted the Trade Facilities Scheme, and we are now discarding it. I do not know how long my right hon. Friend expects to go on with the Export Credit Scheme, or whether he thinks that that also should soon come to an end. But it is perfectly apparent that, whatever temporary advantages these schemes brought about, they did not bring in their train any permanent benefit. Now we are departing from them. We have to get on to a much more solid position somewhere.
What is really at the bottom of all this, trade depression? It seems to be useless now to go over the ordinary features of which we know—the wreckage of the world, the lack of customers, and the inability of people to purchase to the same extent as they did in the past. But there are certain features which, I think, go deeper than that, and to which this House should pay some attention. I may be greatly daring in thinking that this is a convenient opportunity to consider the position in which we stand, and what we may be able to do to make things better. We are not an ineffective people in this country. We see other countries prospering greatly at the present time. We see some countries which financially are not nearly in such a strong or sound position as we are, which yet are able to afford much greater employment to their people, countries in which no such distress exists as that which we are experiencing. What are the reasons which go to the root of this problem, and in. what way is it possible that we might redress our difficulties? I would like to say, as a preliminary to the few remarks which I have to make on this topic, that I think we have demonstrated to the world that the people in this old country are not only as sane and as patient and as serene as those of any other country in the world, but that for the particular business in hand, whatever it may be, when we apply our minds to it we are the moat effective people in the world.

47I am not talking of any section of the community, but of all the sections of the community, who were ranged against each other in the course of the last fortnight. I am certain that you could not find in any other part of the world a mass of people who were engaged in a strike of vital importance, who so completely restrained themselves from any acts of violence in the course of the struggle. It was one of the greatest examples of restaint on the part of people that could be found in the history of the world. The temptation to assault and violence when you are idle and on strike and see other people doing your business, must be very great indeed. I must say that I admired the people who in the course of the past fortnight preserved themselves from all acts of violence.
5 P.M.
On the other side, the skill and power of the community which were exhibited in carrying on the affairs of the country has extracted the admiration of the whole world. I should like the committee to accept from me a personal reminiscence. During the War I was put in a position in which I had to control a very large quantity of products which were required for the carrying on of the War. I was working in close co-operation with the United States. I began my job with the belief that the Americans, having come into the War, would produce with more “hustle” and activity than our people and, in particular, that their manufacturers would show more inventiveness and resource than our manufacturers when confronted with new problems. My experience was exactly the contrary. At that time, without any question, we got much the quickest and best product from the British shops, and our employers and the managers of our great industries showed a skill and resource in finding out new methods and new designs when confronted with difficulties such as no other people I know of exhibited then or afterwards. But to-day the situation is no longer like that. We seem, somehow, to have slipped back in our capacity to deal with the situation of world trade. We do not seem to be so active as we were, and I think everybody who has been to America recently, as I have, and particu-

48larly that delegation which was sent by one of the leading newspapers of this country, have come to the same conclusion, namely, that the people across the water are to-day working harder than we are. I am talking both of the employers and the workers.
In my view, from such conversations as I have had and from what I have seen going forward, the employers of America are putting their hearts and souls into their business in a way our people are not doing and equally there is a degree of activity and enthusiasm about the work which is being given by the ordinary workmen in America which completely surpasses anything you can see here. There may be very good reason for it. They are certainly in a very much more hopeful position, but at any rate the contrast is very obvious. There is an hon. and gallant Friend of mine sitting opposite who will bear out everything I say because I believe he and I had similar experiences. It may be that there is more opportunity there; certainly there is greater reason for confidence which puts more activity into the operations of trade, but the contrast undoubtedly is very marked, and I fear, without some increased activity in this country, we shall take a very minor place in the future compared with the great Continent on the other side of the water.
A representative of the workmen who was one of the delegation to which I have referred returned with the message that co-operation and goodwill had a great deal to do with the higher production which we see in America. I am sure that is true, but co-operation and goodwill must be translated into practice. What is the kind of practice which ought to result from co-operation and goodwill? I think undoubtedly when one comes to consider, what is the main factor in the prosperity of America at present, one finds it is that of high production. I was interested to see that one of the resolutions passed by the Trade Union Congress in America in the autumn of last year, stated that the first essential of success was high production and that it inured equally to the benefit of the employer and the workman. We should all like to see that doctrine thoroughly

49understood and practised here. We have for a long time, I am afraid, taken another view, and I find traces of the opposing fallacy, even in the Coal Report, where it is suggested that you must not have any increase in the production of coal because you will not find a market for it. Why, the whole truth about the economic problem, so far as industry is concerned, is that the bigger production you have upon your outlay the cheaper you are able to sell the commodity, and the cheaper the commodity the bigger your market.

330″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: And the bigger the wages you can pay.

331″>Sir R. HORNE: You have only to take an illustration from the motor-car industry of America. People said,” You cannot turn out all those motor cars; you will not find people to purchase them.” But as soon as they were being made cheaply enough, an enormously increasing market was found for them. So it is in the experience of the world with regard to every commodity. If I might make an interpellation with regard to coal, I would say that many people at the present time believe that a high output of coal would be detrimental to the trade. They say that there is so much competition from oil that you cannot find markets, and many people will tell you that the reason why you have all this trouble in the coal trade is because there is not sufficient consumption. The truth is that if you examine the figures which the Commissioners themselves give, and exclude the Continent of America and Britain from your survey, you will find looking at the chief coal markets of the world, that so far from the consumption having gone down, it has gone up. Whereas before the War the consumption of coal in our main export markets was 466,000,000 tons, in 1924 it had gone up to 491,000,000 tons and in 1925 to 494,000,000 tons—a steady increase in the consumption of coal. I have never been one of those who believed that the consumption of coal in the world was going to be less. The question which remains is: Can you sell it at a price to get the market? The trouble has been that, whereas, of the amount sold in these markets before the War our proportion was 19 per cent., in 1924 it had gone down to 16 per cent. and in 1925 to 14 per cent.

50That is the explanation of the difficulty we have had in selling our coal.
I only give that as an illustration of my main theme which, I am sure, is accepted by everybody, that high production is the secret of success and prosperity in trade in any country, and also the basic secret of high wages. I know I need not elaborate that point to the President of the Board of Trade because it is a doctrine which he has preached for a long time—I am afraid sometimes to ears which were not willing to listen. But may I urge upon him the necessity of inculcating some of the doctrines which we have recently learned. In his high official position, as head of the trade of this country, he can well take occasion without any offence, to let our employers understand how necessary it is that advantage should be taken of every new device of science, and how important it is, as we have learned from the experience of other countries that nothing that is wasteful in production should be left as part of the machinery of the factory. That is one of the great lessons which we have learned.
May I suggest another on which perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will take some action, and which I derived from an interesting speech made by one of those delegates when he returned from America after a survey of the American shops. It came very close to my breast because I remembered an experience during the War which created intense anxiety in my mind. This delegate gave as one of the reasons for the difficulties in our trade and one of the factors which enabled industry to be carried on with more efficiency and expedition in America, the fact that at the present time our lines of demarcation as between trades were such as to create great impediments in the activity of some of our shops. That brought to my mind an experience during the War when two of our most important torpedo boat destroyers were held up in harbour in this country because of a dispute between two trade unions as to which of them had the right to do a particular job that would not have taken more than a short time to accomplish, upon the coaming of a hatch. These two vessels, at a time when the country needed their services most anxiously, were held up for some days until that dispute was

51settled. Mr. George Barnes, who was well known in this House, gave an even more extraordinary illustration the other day, as to how for months the shipbuilding yards on the North-East coast of England were deprived of their ordinary business because of a, similar dispute between two Trade Unions.
I should like to suggest to those who are members of trade unions and who are listening to me, that if these rules which may have been very necessary in the past and had a good foundation in experience, are now found to be obsolete and if they tend to become pernicious, the time has come to review their efficacy and consider whether it would not be better to get rid of a system which undoubtedly in other parts of the world has proved detrimental and has been discarded. If I might make a suggestion to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, I would propose to him that he might take some suitable opportunity of conferring with the leaders of the trade unions on this matter with a view to getting rid of something which, I am certain, particularly in the shipyards, is a great impediment to our trade and a cause of increases in the ordinary expenses of the building of our craft.
There is one more matter of this kind which I wish to mention and, again, as a preliminary, I am going to give a personal experience in order to indicate why I am specially interested. Two years ago I was trying to put through a transaction with a very large firm in France who are producers of iron ore. When we had come very nearly to some arrangement, the French manufacturer and mine-owner said to me,” But I refuse to send my boats to your English ports.” I asked him why, and he said, “It would mean a great increase of the cost.” Again I asked him why, and this is what he told me, and he showed me the records of several voyages to substantiate his words. He had two boats which carried ore from the ore fields to wherever it was to be landed and the records of those voyages showed that a boat took three times as long, on the average, to discharge in an English port as a boat similarly loaded in a Continental port. You can imagine what a difference in freight it makes when you hold up a ship for ten days instead of

52three days, and how it adds to the cost of the iron ore and to the cost of the steel which you make from the iron ore.

332″>Mr. KELLY: Did you verify that statement?

333″>Sir R. HORNE: Yes, I verified the facts. I know that the experience of other people is the same, because I have gone into the records of a great many other kinds of cargoes at different ports, and that is why I wish to direct the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the matter to-day. We are, after all, living by exports, and, as we live in an island, one of the chief costs of the goods we produce and send away is dock charges and the cost of the dock labour in loading and unloading our vessels. What I find, having gone into this matter a little more particularly, is that not only is the time of discharge in this country considerably greater than at Rotterdam, Havre, Dunkirk, or Hamburg, but the cost, on the average, of discharging and tallying in our country is something like 50 per cent. higher than abroad. I am sure hon. Members who are shipowners know that what I am saying is substantiated by innumerable instances, and indeed it has had the effect in a large number of cases of sending our vessels abroad, for their discharge at foreign ports rather than here, and seeking rather to get cargoes for Continental ports than for English ports.
These matters seem to me to have a vital effect upon our trade. It is surely our duty at the present time to get down our costs in every way possible. Everything comes back at the present time to the question of price, and price depends upon cost, and cost depends upon our mechanism and upon the way in which we organise. I am not seeking to impute the blame to one set of people more than to another, but I say that this is a thing which seems to me to deserve complete investigation, and that some attempt should be made to remedy an evil which, I am sure, is causing us a loss of very much trade, which otherwise to-day we should obtain. I think, if I may venture to say so before this Committee, that this is a good time to raise this question. I believe that the people of this country at the present moment are more anxious to co-operate than at any time since the War. I think we under-

53stand to-day the need of working in a common spirit and in complete amity, with a desire, not for the benefit of any one section of the community, but for the advantage and prosperity of all. We have shown that we are a country which bears well a period of vicissitude. I am sure that we ought now to strive with all our might—every individual citizen and every organisation—to give the great people of this country the prosperity which they deserve.

334″>Mr. MONTAGUE: The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) expressed himself as being somewhat depressed with the confirmed Free Trade views of the late Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I may confess myself also equally depressed, but not quite for the same reason. I do not believe in imposts on foreign goods, and in that sense I am not a Protectionist, but it does seem to me to be rather late in the day, after generations of discussions, to bring forward all the old arguments about imports and exports checking each other and so forth. We all agree that in the long run you cannot export goods without importing them. That is true, but that does not happen to be the argument, which has to do with the question of the purchase of British goods. I do not know that I think it a very important matter that the Board of Trade should advertise hugely, counting upon the patriotism of the people, in favour of the purchase of British goods. When the argument is put forward that if you buy goods in this country, whether it is a question of imposts upon foreign goods or not, you are merely displacing the labour which would otherwise be employed in making goods which you could sell to foreign countries, surely the obvious answer to that is that while it is true that other countries would buy from you and therefore employ your labour, it is also true that if a merchant purchases goods at one period from Berlin and then substitutes Liverpool or Manchester for Berlin, there is just as much trade being done of a mutual character. The people in Manchester or Liverpool are providing just as much work for the merchant, say, in Sheffield, or his workpeople, as the foreign producer would be providing—[HON. MEMBERS:”Hear, hear!”], with the difference and with the advantage, from my point of view—and my point of view is not that of those who want to cheer

54what I am saying at this moment—that you have two transactions in this country instead of one.
That seems to me to be the answer to the old Free Trade argument, which I do not accept. I do not think it is a Labour point of view particularly, and I am certainly convinced that it is not the Socialist point of view. I do not believe in Free Trade, but neither do I believe, for other reasons, in artificial imposts upon foreign goods coming into this country. I think the reasons are of a technical character, with which probably my Free Trade friends would agree. I do not need to go into them, but I do disagree with the late Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade when he takes the Board of Trade to task with regard to the question of the control of imports. I believe in the control of imports. I believe that we ought to develop our own country to the utmost, and that for more than one reason I think we should develop our own country to the utmost because, by developing all the trade you can within your own shores, you have a greater control over the economic conditions and over the questions of wages and conditions, so that I would encourage as far as possible the development of our own industry and leave the question of exchange between this country and other countries to the surplus of the argument, and I think we could leave that question very safely once we had developed our own country to its fullest possible resources. Yes, but that is Socialism. You cannot develop this country to its fullest possible resources if you who are Protectionists, equally with Free Traders, hold the view of the right hon. Member for Hillhead that we are bound to be, and ought to set ourselves out to be, an exporting country, that we must always depend on exports, and that we should do all we can, whether by Empire trade or in any other way, to keep this country essentially an industrial and exporting nation. I do not think it is a good thing that you should try to keep this country essentially an industrial and exporting nation.
That brings me to the main argument, which the right hon. Member for Hillhead explained in dealing with the question of high production. He said that in America it had been proved that high production was the secret of high wages

55and of prosperity. In the first place, I am not quite sure that high production is much more the rule in America than it is here. In this country there are many industries which are very highly efficient and in which production is very high indeed, and up-to-date methods are being adopted, and adopted successfully. Also, I am not sure that high production is the universal rule in American industries. It may be true of Fords and the Bethlehem Steel Works, and of quite a number of very important shops and big industries in America, but I do not think it is true universally throughout American industries or agriculture. The point, however, which I wish to put before the Committee is this, that so long as you have a small amount of high production, so long as it is localised, then those who adopt those highly efficient mass-production methods are bound to have an advantage. It does not follow that the advantage is a national one, because we have to take into account the point, for instance, that if Ford’s Motor Works in America, by mass production, are able to produce a very cheap car, and, therefore, to sell that car in very large quantities, the people who are buying motor cars as a new item of expenditure are not spending their money upon something else. That is a point of view at least to be considered.
I do not say that that is the last word on the subject, but the real point, surely, is this, that so long as it is localised and confined to a number of works, or even to one country, you can “point a moral or adorn a tale” about high production and high wages quite easily, but mass production must inevitably mean, sooner or later, universal mass production; it must mean mass production in all countries, in all industrial countries, and when that begins, when you have not only this country, but also Germany, Italy, France, and the rest of our competitors carrying out the policy of mass production, what is going to happen to high wages, and where are you going to get rid of your products? That is what you have to consider. It is all very well to say that if only you produce twice as much as you produce now, you will be able to sell so much more easily, but do you think that other nations are going to stand still while you are doing it? I read an account, I think it was in the” Econo-

56mist,” of a new coal hewer in Germany, which tears out coal from the face like a knife going into butter, and mechanically puts the coal into conveyers, which are electrically propelled. We ought to do the same thing, it is true, but that does not solve the problem. The problem is one of universal economics, and ultimately you will have the position as you had in earlier stages of industrial Britain, and Europe, and the world, of essential over-production, or of relative over-production, of commodities, the piling up of large quantities of goods which cannot be sold. The only way, surely, to deal with a problem of that kind is to consider the question from a different point of view. Let me say, in passing, that I should very much like to have had from the right hon. Member for Hillhead some particulars about this old charge against the trade unions of restricting output.

335″>Sir R. HORNE: I did not say a single word about trade unions restricting output in this country. I said the theory had been held that you could have too much output, but I did not say to whom it belonged at all. I am afraid some employers have held it as strongly as some trade unions sometimes.

336″>Mr. MONTAGUE: If I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, I certainly shall not continue upon that line of thought. I will not carry the argument farther, because I evidently misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but I will go on to the moral that I wished to draw from what I had previously said. I believe in the development of our own industry, in our own country; and I believe in the control of imports in this way: if it is not going too far beyond the confines of this Vote—I do not wish to offend against the rules of procedure— I should like, by way of illustration, to say that suppose you bought more of your food supplies from the growers of food in this country, suppose you developed your agriculture, and suppose that the balance that was necessary to come into this country from foreign countries, from the Empire, or from anywhere else was known, surely it would be good policy for this country not merely to control the imports of foreign foodstuffs, but to make State purchases of foreign foodstuffs, to organise scientifically the whole production and distribution of foodstuffs in this country.

57What is true of that might also be true of industry generally, and it is a policy which I hope some future occupants of the offices of the Board of Trade will follow. It might very well apply to the question of Imperial trade, and hon. Members opposite are very much interested in the development of the Empire. I do not disagree with that. By all means develop the Empire. At the same time, do not develop the Empire merely for the purpose of assisting the people in between, who get their rake-off from in between the producer and the consumer. That is by the way. The point I want to make is this: Why should it not be a good thing for this country to develop the Empire in this way, or develop foreign countries in this way for our own purpose? There are American capitalists who are not investing their surplus capital in foreign concerns, but are actually building their own factories in foreign countries, making certain portions of their semi raw material in foreign countries. In our own country, there are people, for instance, like Liptons, who develop Ceylon by growing their own tea there, by the investment on the spot of British capital. The same with the meat-juice firms, who have their cattle ranches in South Africa and Australia. It is the exploitation of the British Empire by British capital.
If that can be done by private capitalists, why should it not be a good thing for the Board of Trade to develop that policy for the nation? There are many things you ask the nation to do. I am dealing with the real question, and that is the feeding, clothing, sheltering and educating a population of 45,000,000 people. If you can solve the food production problem by developing your own country to its uttermost, knowing what people require, knowing what you can produce and what the balance is, and then develop your own Imperial lands by direct State production of exactly the quantity of goods you require as the balance for feeding the population of this country, that is a far better method than a method which simply means taking it out of the consumer by imposts on foreign goods. [HON. MEMBERS: “No !”] Perhaps I do not understand it. I am trying to show, anyhow, not only my limitations, but what I think about the subject generally. Whether I understand the question of imposts upon

58foreign imports or not, I do feel that I understand the importance of developing the food supplies of this country, and I think if you want to develop Imperial trade and develop the Empire from a productive point of view, you cannot do better than organise it scientifically, producing for use, and not merely for profit. That production for use policy is the only way you are going to get over the other difficulty of manufactured articles.
I have referred to the question of high production. When it becomes universal, you will not get rid of your products, but if you only make things to use, and when you do produce what you want to use, whether food supplies or anything else, you will have solved the economic problem. There will be no unemployment, no over-production, and we shall not be at the mercy, as we are to-day, of the lowest denominator, not only of European but of Asiatic conditions, and of the machinations of foreign finance and the fluctuations of foreign markets.

337″>Sir F. WISE: I have listened to the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) with a certain amount of amazement. He believes in the home production, and so do I, but I am against him as far as he is against the foreign trade of this country. You may say, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) said, that we live on the export trade of this country. You may say it is the breath of this country, because if you had not your exports, you could not possibly pay for the imports.

338″>Mr. MONTAGUE: Why are you a Protectionist then?

339″>Sir F. WISE: I did not say I was a Protectionist at all, but I will tell the hon. Member one thing. I am against the State purchase of any commodity. I think if he will do me the honour of looking up the trading accounts of this country, both during the War and after the War, I believe he may possibly change his mind. My main object in rising this afternoon is to forward what has already been said by the hon. Member for Hills-borough (Mr. A. V. Alexander), and also my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead in regard to the balance of trade in this country. I cannot help thinking that it is one of the gravest problems we

59have to face at the present time. The hon. Member for Hillsborough mentioned certain figures, and perhaps the Committee will forgive me if I go into those figures again. They may be slightly technical, but it is important that the whole country should understand the gravity and the smallness of this trade balance. Our imports in 1925 were £1,300,000,000. That was 3·5 in excess of 1924. Our exports—and I should like respectfully to contradict the figures that the hon. Member for Hillsborough gave— as far as I can remember were £927,000,000 or a decrease of 1·4 compared with 1924. That leaves a debit balance of £395,000,000. How is that paid for? That is paid for by our invisible exports. [An hon. Member: “The whole of it?”] The whole of the debit balance of £395,000,000 is paid for by our invisible exports. They include foreign investments, and the Committee must know that our foreign investments compared with pre-War days have gone down considerably since the War.

340″>Mr. H. WILLIAMS: No.

341″>Sir F. WISE: Our foreign investments were very much greater in pre-War days than they are to-day. I differ from the hon. member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams), and I think if he looks up the figures he will find I am more or less correct. The invisible exports include, as I say, foreign investments, shipping, bankers’ commissions, and insurance. These invisible exports came to £425,000,000 in 1925, and if you deduct the £395,000,000 for the excess of imports over exports, you find a balance of only £28,000,000. It is very small. It has gradually been reduced. In 1924, that balance was £63,000,000, and in 1923 £152,000,000. I quite agree that we have had to pay our external debt out of that amount, but for a huge country like ours—and this figure is only an estimate—to have such a small overseas balance shows indeed the gravity of the situation, as far as our trade is concerned.
What does it mean? It means that our foreign investments are reduced, because the overseas balance of £28,000,000 is available for overseas investment. Actually our overseas investments have been greater than this amount. In 1925 they were £88,000,000,

60and in 1924 they were £134,000,000, but if you look at it from the point of possibly investing more than your oversea trade balance, you will find that your exchange will depreciate or you will have to export gold against the balance. I think the President of the Board of Trade possibly will have more satisfactory figures to give us for the first three months of this year.
The hon. Member for Islington referred to the home market. I am sure he will be pleased, and I think the President will agree with what I say, that the home market for 1925 was indeed good, and you have only to look at the Clearing House returns, which were a record for 1925, to realise that the trade at home was good. But it is the export trade, the world trade to which the right hon. Member for Hillhead referred, on which we depend to a very large extent. This world trade, as the hon. Member for Islington must know, is wrapped up in finance. Trade is far more wrapped up in finance to-day than in 1913–1914. You have your various difficult currency problems to settle. You have an absolutely new trade in the shape of what is called forward exchange. How can you do trade with countries like Italy or France except under great difficulties, when you get the lira rising over 10 points in a day and the franc four or five points? It makes it difficult. It shows how finance is wrapped up in trade, and how it affects the trade of this country. Thank goodness, our credit has kept good. It is the mainspring of trade. You may say in a commercial sense credit is the promise to pay at a future time for valuable consideration in the present. So long as we can get satisfactory credit, so long as we can maintain it at a cheap level, it will be good, and a benefit to trade in this country.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead referred to the United States of America, and that portion of his speech was very interesting. Can the Committee conceive the fact that the United States is a creditor to-day and was a debtor in 1913–1914, must affect the world trade and also the trade in regard to this country? Take the debts which are due to the United States—£3,000,000,000 over 62 years. Does anybody in this Committee think that that will not affect the trade of the country? During the three months January

61to March, the world exports to the United States have been greater than the imports from the United States. That is a benefit to World trade, but with that huge debt no one can conceive that until something definite was settled with regard to that debt the trade could come down to the normal capacity of 1913–1914. I am not a great believer in this War Debt. I know it affects trade, and I remember what was placed to the credit of Bismarck. He said, after the 1870–1871 war, that he would sooner give an indemnity than receive one. Those words are worth remembering, especially as I understand the French Finance Minister is in this country. The embargo on foreign loans has affected our export trade. I quite appreciate that it may be an advantage to this country to receive £15,000,000 in America at that particular time, for it would help to pay the external debt; but it must affect the trade of this country. This £15,000,000 was the Commonwealth Loan which New York took instead of London.
I hardly like to touch upon the gold standard because it is such a technical question, but undoubtedly it affected our export trade in 1925, however we may have benefited through the imports from other countries being cheaper. I cannot help feeling that the crux of the whole trade of this country comes down to Government finance. Our immense debt of £7,600,000,000, our burden of taxation —for we are heavier taxed than any country in the world—does any member of this Committee think that this helps our trade? It is the burden of taxation which affects us as much as anything, and that cannot be reduced unless you reduce the Government expenditure. When hon. Members realise that every penny the Government takes from us all has to be made by commerce and industry, and goes out of commerce and industry into the Government’s pockets, I think the President of the Board of Trade will agree with me that possibly the great burden, even more so in our case than in the case of perhaps any other nation, is the enormous expenditure of the Government at the present time. Take the local expenditure. In 1925–1926 the local expenditure was £166,000,000, £6,000,000 more than the previous year. In 1913–1914 the local expenditure was only £87,000,000. I do not wish to keep the Committee any longer,

62but I do want to impress upon them the absolute necessity of keeping up our export trade, because we have somehow or other to pay for the food and raw material coming into this country. We can only do that by our export trade. I contend that the reduction of the Government expenditure would do more than anything else to help that trade. I sincerely hope that when the President of the Board of Trade comes to reply he may be able to give us some reassuring figures as to the balance of trade in this country, which is so important for the nation as a whole.

342″>Captain GARRO-JONES: I only rise to call attention to one particular matter. Before, however, I come to that, I should like to confess that I have listened to some of these interesting debates on economics with some feeling of confusion. I have heard one hon. Member say that he believes in Tariff Reform and also in Free Trade. I must confess some little inability to understand what that means. I believe that in Australia they call that sort of policy a “Yes-and-No” policy. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) always makes a most valuable contribution to our Debates, but, if I may say so with all respect, in view of his great knowledge on these matters, he is a little one-sided. He always seems prepared to speak of the shortcomings or failures on the part of labour, on the working side, but he does not seem to draw the attention of the Committee or the House to any shortcomings on the part of the employers. His whole speech was an attack, as I considered it, on the methods in which actual labour was carried out in this country.
I only give one example. He said that it cost 50 per cent. more to unload a ship in English ports than it does in various European ports. I consider that to be most misleading. In view of what has been said as to the Exchange by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman ought to know that it is impossible to make comparisons with the cost in these European countries in which the Exchange is different from our own. Not only that, but we have had comparisons of figures with the United States. I want to make one more remark in connection with the payment of high wages. It

63is repeatedly said on the other side that we ought to work harder, and that high production means high wages. I, myself, feel considerable sympathy with those who have some doubt as to whether that is actually carried into effect. We have lately heard of a book by a couple of engineers as to the course of work in the United States, and in this book, high wages as a result of high protection are advocated. In the past in this country, in almost every sphere of activity where payment of wages was in relation to the results, where the results were increased, not only was it found that wages did not and have not increased, but frequently they decreased. I can give a case from my own limited industrial experience— and perhaps it may be accounted as a fair example—where people have been paid so much per hundred for certain articles. By skill and extra work they doubled their output, whereupon their employer said: “We shall have to half the pay or the commission.” Until that spirit is totally eradicated, it is no use saying that high production means higher wages or higher payment. We must have some sort of guarantee to meet cases of that sort.
However, I really rose to ask the President of the Board of Trade, who is to speak shortly, as to the Committee on the Administration of the Companies Acts. I myself have been interested in this, so far as is in my power in this matter. I should like to ask him whether he can do something to expedite the inquiry of the Committee which is looking into the matter of the malpractices now being carried on in connection with the formation of companies and transactions in stocks and shares. Only the other day I asked him if he could not do anything to expedite the deliberations of that Committee. He said that he did not think he could; that he had not done so, and he appeared extremely unwilling to tell us what is going on. I should like to contrast the attitude of the President of the Board of Trade in respect to that Committee with his attitude towards the Committee for the Safeguarding of Industries. This matter to which I refer is one of the greatest urgency, and I would submit to him very respectfully that a matter of this kind, protecting the small investors of this country, is at least

64of equal importance with the other. This Committee has been sitting for 15 months. We have had no indication as to how it is going on, and the President of the Board seems reluctant to do anything to hasten its deliberations. I have prepared a list of these malpractices, but as I only desire to speak for a few moments, and I am not quite sure whether it would be in order to give them, I shall not deal with them. But I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will do something to expedite the findings of the Committee, because to hundreds of thousands of people all over the country it is a very important matter—this matter of security for the small investor. They are looking to the right hon. Gentleman to tackle the matter and to remedy the large number of grievances which undoubtedly exist.

343″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I will deal with a number of details to begin with, and then come to the wider topics which have been raised by hon. Members. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Hackney South (Captain Garro Jones), may I say that I was unwilling to press the very strong, very busy, and very representative Committee dealing with the whole of company law administration to present their report before their labours were completed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think, will realise from his own experience that you cannot get the best brains to deal with a very complicated subject, and give that Committee very heavy work to do, to which the members devote a great deal of time and energy, without giving them a chance to make a thoroughly good job of the work you have given them to do.

344″>Colonel WOODCOCK: Has the right hon. Gentleman any idea—we have asked many times—as to the date when the Report will be out?

345″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I am glad to say that I have now received the Report, and I hope to publish it at a, very early date. I would not be in order in discussing the recommendations of the Report; besides, I have not yet had time to study it. But I can say at once that I have read enough of it to say that it is of very great interest and value; it covers the whole field by the recommendations it makes.

346″>Captain GARRO-JONES: Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to publish it?

 

65347″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: Yes, Sir, I do—to publish it at an early date. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) criticised the Safeguarding of Industries Act administration by the Board of Trade, and said that the Board of Trade had been guilty of dealing with safeguarding by departmental action when the matter ought to have been dealt with by legislation. In dealing with this matter, the Government have taken exactly the action which was asked for by one section of the Liberal party when the present leader passed the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I well remember it, and hon. Members in the House then will also remember it. When the original Act was introduced and passed by the Liberal party, the dissentient part of the Liberal party said: “It is very wrong.” That was the point taken by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Leith (Capt. W. Benn), whose absence we all regret.
6 P.M.
His point was, “You have no business to deal with safeguarding by Orders”— which was the procedure under the Safeguarding of Industries Act—”what you ought to do, if you are to put on taxes at all, is to put them on through the regular constitutional machinery of a Finance Bill. That is the way in which we shall escape from executive action and get the proper Parliamentary practice and procedure.” That is exactly what we have done; but now I am criticised for a duty imposed through the regular financial machinery. The duties which we passed last Autumn passed through the whole of the regular machinery of finance in this House. Therefore, so far from having usurped the privileges of Parliament by embarking on a course of executive action, we are carrying all our duties by regular financial procedure. To talk about our putting things away in a back room is really fantastic, because this House has the opportunity, when the Bills are brought forward, of seeing what the facts are, and of criticising the proposals upon their merits, and I shall be prepared on the proper occasion, whenever duties are brought forward, to defend them on the full responsibility of the Government.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) had another criticism. His criticism was not so much directed to procedure, but, he said, the

66results were unsatisfactory. The results are quite satisfactory to us, and will be increasingly so as further duties are put on, and, if the hon. Member addresses his inquiries to those hon. Members who have a close acquaintance with the factories which are producing the articles in question, he will find in every case that what we have done has been of great assistance to them. He said to us, “What about lace?” and suggested that we forgot that there are still some unemployed in that industry. I know there are, but he did not tell the Committee that the demand for lace throughout the world has gone down, and that if it had not been for putting on of that duty those people would be wholly out of work in this country to-day. That duty has kept people in work whose employment would otherwise have gone. If he inquires what is happening in the glove industry, which a few months’ ago had large numbers of men out of work and numbers on short time, he will find that to-day nearly all those men are working in their industry, and that apprentices are now being taken on where apprentices had not been seen for years.
The same is true of other trades. He said, also,” You are killing the export trade.” That is a remarkable suggestion. I find that in the case of motor-cars, which he quoted to us, our exports in 1924 were £6,500,000 and in 1925 £9,500,000. Indeed, it is only natural to suppose that that would be the result, because it is certainly true that if you wish to keep an export trade and to be able to compete in foreign markets you must have sufficient security to persuade manufacturers to lay down good plant and have a sufficient volume of production to be able to sell at competitive prices. Whether you proceed by this method or any other, unless the home market is made reasonably secure there is no guarantee that you will be able to carry forward your export trade. I will come back to the other point of the hon. Member for Hillsborough in a moment.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), asked what progress was being made with the Census of Production. We are proceeding with it as rapidly as we can, and we are examining now representative samples of the returns which have come in from leading industries in

67order to see whether they are sufficiently reliable and sufficiently representative to enable us to present preliminary figures or preliminary estimates, as regards some of the most essential trades. There will be no delay in pressing forward with that work. He asked also about the Balfour Committee. I certainly do not wish to interfere with the course which the Balfour Committee have mapped out for themselves. Their considered judgment was that they wanted to get all the facts before they began to discuss conclusions, and I have no doubt it was a wise decision on their part. They have published two volumes of great value, and hope to be able fairly soon to complete, a third volume on those special groups of industries on which they have taken a great deal of evidence.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough raised the question of Russia, asking me if I realised the potentialities of the Russian market. I think there is no one on this side of the House who does not realise those potentialities, but there are some people who seem to overrate them, and overrate what that market can ever be to this country, seeing that Russia is not as near to us geographically as it is to other great industrial countries. But the development of those potentialities does not rest with this Government, but with the Government of Russia; it is only that Government which can create the conditions of full trading facilities of which he speaks. I would add here that it is not anything the Government does which creates the discount rate. The hon. Gentleman said the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech in Battersea about Russia, and he then remarked “That is what keeps the discount rate of Russian bills high.” I have a great admiration for the Chancellor’s speeches, but I am quite sure that they do not settle the discount rate in the City.

348″>Mr. J. JONES: They settle nothing.

349″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: The discount rate of Russian Bills is settled by one thing and one thing only, and that is the value which the people who are asked to discount those bills put upon them, and it would be very unwise for any Government to attempt to put any other value on them.

68The hon. Member also said a word or two about Control Boards in the Dominions. I am sure he will be the last to depreciate the value of co-operative efforts amongst producers. These boards, co-operative boards of producers, are, I am sure, a natural and inevitable development, and are sound in principle. After all, the pooling of supplies is necessary, not only if the producer is to get the best advantage, but if he is to sell his goods to the best advantage of the consumer. It is only by pooling, I think, that you can get uniform grading, which is essential if you are to secure a high standard of quality through all the commodities; get expert packing; and improved marketing by continuity of supplies and by better advertising and by the avoidance of speculation.
Those are obvious advantages in the pooling of supplies, and, provided that no attempt is made to exploit the consumer, they are all to the good; but I believe it is difficult to exploit the consumer unless there is a monopoly, and any attempt to do so is bound to defeat its own ends. I do not say that a pool may not now and again, perhaps, try misguidedly to influence the market by the holding back of supplies for a time, but I am quits sure that any general attempt to hold back supplies by any producers pool, where there is not a monopoly—and there is no question of that here—is bound to defeat its own object, is bound to create a glut and to create uneven prices, whereas the whole object of good marketing must be to increase consumption. Therefore, the sound policy for a producers’ board is one which is good alike for the producers and the consumers. My hon. Friend spoke rather as though these boards were new.
Of course, he knows that is not so, that they are only following what has been done in other countries. Practically the whole of the fresh fruit of California is marketed by a Californian Board. The Danish bacon supplies are similarly marketed in this country—all their export business, I think, is done co-operatively. In view of the question he has raised, I think it is fair to say that the Royal Commission on Food prices, after a rather careful examination of the activities of the New Zealand Meat Producers Board, gave this finding:
“306.—Our conclusion from such evidence as we have taken is that the operations of

69the New Zealand Meat Producers’ Board have not been an important factor in determining the average level of mutton and lamb prices during the last three years. Indeed, we find it difficult to see how the Board can be responsible for raising the average level of prices unless it can be shown either to have deliberately withheld or diverted supplies from the British market, or to have taken steps, directly or indirectly, to restrict production. Neither of these possible alternatives has, in fact, been adopted, and we do not believe that either course represents the policy of the New Zealand Meat Producers or the New Zealand Government.”
“307.—It seems to be admitted on all hands that the Board have succeeded in reducing the activities of speculators, but since temporary depressions of price have a disturbing effect on production, and confer no corresponding benefit on consumers, we cannot endorse the view that the operations of the Board have run counter to the general interests of Great Britain as a consuming country.”
I would also remind the Committee that the Imperial Economic Committee, on which a distinguished co-operative colleague of the hon. Member has a seat, is now embarking on an exhaustive consideration of the marketing of dairy produce, and that it will be possible for that body to explore all the advantages, and disadvantages, if there be any, of those boards. I did not reply to him the other day, not because I was unaware of these boards, but because I thought this would be a more convenient time, and that I should have the opportunity to give him a longer answer.

350″>Mr. ALEXANDER: One thing to be remembered is that the British market is practically the only one which New Zealand has for exports of these particular products, and almost the whole of their exports come into this country. We must, therefore, take care that the operations of the Board does not lead to the exploitation of the consumer here.

351″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: But they have not a monopoly. You have a Producers Board, for instance, for New Zealand butter and they are competing with Danish and other produce. Australian meat is competing with Argentine meat, and the Canadian wheat pool is competing with Australian wheat. Therefore, you have the full force of competition in any commodity with which these Boards are dealing. I am convinced that it would be a better policy for them to improve their position in the market by relying upon increased consumption

70rather than upon a limitation of supplies. Surely that is a sound position.
I have also been asked a question about the proposed Economic Conference of and the League of Nations. I should like to point out that the Committee which, is now sitting is a preparatory committee engaged in drawing up an agenda which will in due course be submitted to the full Council.
This committee is not, as the hon. Member supposed, appointed by tie Governments concerned, nor is it going to be a conference of Government representatives. The hon. Member for Hillsborough asked me whether I would appoint some member of the co-operative organisation upon the British delegation, but I would like to point out that the appointments of members of the committee are not made by the Governments but by the League of Nations itself, and I think it is important that it should be understood that the Conference, when it takes place, is not going to be a conference of Government representatives, but it is going to be like the Brussels Conference, a meeting of business and labour experts. It should also be clearly understood that its recommendations will not be recommendations of the Governments, and will not in any way bind us. A conclusion has been drawn, on account of something which has been discovered in the report of one of the committees in regard to tariffs, that we ought-to abandon our Safeguarding of Industries policy, but I can hold out no hope of that. In the first place, the gentlemen who are sitting around this table and discussing their respective tariffs, with the exception of the representatives from this country, all come from countries which have general tariffs, and the last thing which I am sure-they have the least intention or expectation of doing is that their Governments will become converted to free trade. In this matter, the policy of the Government with regard to the industries of this country must be dictated solely by the interests of British industries.
Two or three hon. Members have raised the question of the general trade position, and they have asked me whether I have anything to say in addition to the speech I made on this subject when going into Committee of Supply. Obviously, it would be impossible for me, in view of the events of the last week or two, and

71before we know how soon we can see a settlement of the mining dispute, to give anything but a most speculative account of our trade or its prospects. I am not going to attempt any such speculation now. We did start the first quarter of the year distinctly better than the previous twelve months. It is true that the April figures show a serious falling off, but that was an abnormal month, because we were coming under the threat of a coal dispute, with the result that people were less and less willing to place orders.
April was also the month in which Easter fell. If that is to be taken as an indication of what we are to look forward to in normal times beyond the first quarter, I should regard it as a very depressing month. But I do not think we ought to take it as an indication of what is likely to be the normal state of trade, and I should be disinclined to draw any very certain deductions from those figures. In this connection, there are certain figures to be borne in mind. The first is, when comparing April this year with April a year ago, we find that prices have fallen by something like one twelfth, so that imports this year are really about equal to the imports of April, 1925. There is, however, this consolation. When you come to raw materials, which in April, 1925, were much lower than in March, 1925, we find that this year the imports of raw material are 3 per cent. up in April as compared with March. I agree that when you come to the exports the position is serious. Even taking into account the decrease in values and the non-working days of Easter, there is a serious diminution. But, if it is impossible to estimate what the prospects are, it is not difficult to draw some lessons. It is vital, if we are to look forward, as the Prime Minister said, that all our efforts should be directed towards a settlement and a building up. It is essential that there should be increased output and more confidence. Manufacturers must be ready to adopt and instal the most up-to-date equipment and plant. There is also the other side of the picture. There must be a response by the workmen to justify further expenditure on plant, because both those things go together hand in hand.

72Notwithstanding what has been said in this Debate, I am certain that at the present time we are not living on credit, although our net trade balance is nothing like as much as it should be. Nevertheless we have still got a trade balance available for investment. Some remarks have been made which appeared to discredit the campaign we have started in to “Buy British Goods,” but I have nothing to retract in regard to anything I have said on that subject, and I shall go on preaching it. I am confident that whether or not I go on preaching it, the country is prepared to go on practising it. This will accomplish two things. In the first place we are creating more employment by making our purchases as much as possible in the home market; and in the second place it will increase our trade balance available for development and for investment in the Empire market. We must not under-rate the importance of the home market and the Empire market because our prospects depend largely on the development of both.
Even so we have got to get the biggest share we can in any market. Our prices have been coming down, and this has created a, readiness on the part of the people of other countries to buy our goods. Another thing which is helping to sell British goods is British prestige. It is not only prestige as to the quality of our goods, but it is something of the prestige of our country and everything for which it stands. I believe to-day, after all that has happened recently, the prestige of this country stands higher in the world than it ever did before. I believe there is a greater admiration for us as a people, and I believe, looking to the future, we can use that prestige to advantage, going forward in the markets of the world, and this will enable us to redress a great deal of the loss that might otherwise have occurred from the events of the past fortnight.

352″>Major CRAWFURD: I am sure that everyone will join in hoping that the aspirations contained in the right hon. Gentleman’s last few sentences may be borne out by events and I feel sure, too, that he is right when he says that at the present moment, perhaps especially because of the events of the last few weeks, there is a greater determination amongst

73all classes to make a combined effort to help British trade. For that reason it seems to me that the present time is a very opportune one for the right hon. Gentleman to consider very carefully whether the policy which the Government and his Department are pursuing at the moment is not in some respects calculated to harm British trade more than to help it. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his remarks, said that he was very satisfied with the results of the safeguarding policy. He went further. Not only was he satisfied with past achievements, but he ventured into the realm of prophecy. and said that the future would hold even better things as the result of this policy. May I ask him three things with regard to the results of the safeguarding policy?
Let me take first the results of safeguarding in the lace industry. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the figures, with which I have no doubt he is perfectly familiar, with regard to imports. re-exports, retained imports and British exports in the cotton lace and net industry, comparing the period July-December in 1924, when there was no safeguarding duty, and in 1925, when there was a safeguarding duty. With regard to imports, they have fallen off in that period by very nearly 75 per cent., which, no doubt, is a cause of satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters. But re-exports have fallen from just over £1,000,000 worth to £87,000 worth. What is true of the lace trade is also very largely true of other trades. I have been informed only this morning that the same result has followed very largely in the cutlery trade The hon. Member for the Hillsborough Division of Sheffield (Mr. A. V. Alexander) knows a great deal about the cutlery trade, and he may be able to confirm this, but I am told that there is a very large movement now in the cutlery trade for buying direct from Germany, whereas formerly a large re-export trade was done in this country. I have not the figures for that trade with me, but I have the figures for the re-export trade in the cotton lace and net industry, and there, as I have said, the re-exports have fallen from just over £1,000,000 to £87,000.
Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary, if he replies later, will give us some information confirming those figures or

74criticising them in any way that they deserve. The retained imports, on the other hand—which, after all, are surely the imports that affect British trade—have not decreased, but have increased in the same period from £117,000 odd to £165,000 odd, and the British exports have declined from £1,300,000 to a shade over £1,000,000.
No doubt the right hon. Gentleman is familiar with these figures, and I would ask him, is he satisfied with that as one result of the safeguarding policy? The right hon. Gentleman, in criticising the hon. Member for Hillsborough, said that the hon. Member for Hillsborough had quoted some of these figures but had omitted to say that there had been a general falling off in the world demand, and, therefore, I suppose he considered that the argument of the hon. Member for Hillsborough fell to the ground; but within a few sentences the right hon. Gentleman himself was quoting, as an example of the benefits of safeguarding, the experience of the motor trade, where, as he pointed out, the exports had gone up. Does he contend that there has not been an equally large increase in the world demand for motor cars? If the argument is invalidated in the one respect, surely it is in the other.
Let me now turn to a more recent example, that of gas mantles. Here again I am largely seeking information, because I think the Debates on these Votes are the occasion for trying to get information. Is it true that, as a result of the safeguarding duty on gas mantles, an agreement has been arrived at between British and German makers, whereby, in consideration of a lump payment to the German makers, they have undertaken not to import German gas mantles into this country? I should like to have some information about that. If that is true, is it true that the result has been to remove all competition from the gas mantle industry, and to leave the consumer at the mercy of a ring? The third point that I want to raise with regard to the success or otherwise of the safeguarding policy is this: Has the right hon. Gentleman’s Department had any complaints at all with regard to delays owing to the difficulty of saying what is an article that falls under the safeguarding category and what is an article that does not? For instance, I have had a complaint this

75morning—and this may possibly be worth going into by the right hon. Gentleman— in connection with the cutlery industry. What is cutlery? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will have a ready answer, but in this particular case the complaint relates to small toy scissors, which are part of the equipment of an imported doll. There was some doubt at the Customs as to whether that was an article to be taxed or not, and I understand that the Customs Authorities said that they were not able to make the decision themselves, and would refer the matter to the Board of Trade. I am told that the importers in this case have already waited three months for the decision, and are still waiting. I would like an answer, if I might have it, to these three questions as to whether in those respects the safeguarding policy has been a success.
Now may I turn for a moment to the question of the Committees which are set up by the right hon. Gentleman. My first complaint is this. I believe that when the original Safeguarding Act, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, was passed, during the period of office of the Coalition Government, the present Prime Minister was then the president of the Board of Trade, and I believe that, in deference to the very generally expressed wish of the House at that time, he increased the number of members of each Committee from three to five. The present President of the Board of Trade has allowed a minimum number of three and a maximum of five, but I believe that in every single case the number appointed has been, not five, but three. The result has been that very often evidence has been heard by these Committees with only two members of the Committee sitting, and sometimes with only one. That, surely, cannot be a very satisfactory state of affairs. Then I think we have a certain amount of complaint with regard to the personnel. I do not want to mention any names, but in one particular case we have had sitting on a Committee, which is to decide whether a particular industry is or is not to have the advantages of this safeguarding legislation, a member who is notorious for his Protectionist views.—

353″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: As people who are acting in the public service are being attacked, may I point out

76that there have also been what the hon. and gallant Member terms notorious Free Traders, members of his own party; and both, I believe, have given impartial and just decisions.

354″>Major CRAWFURD: My criticism would equally apply to that. The fact remains that people who sit on these committees should be as far as possible impartial people. Then I think it would perhaps be as well—and this is a specific complaint not about persons, but about procedure—if the right hon. Gentleman would lay down rules for the procedure of these Committees. For instance, I gather that on one occasion a learned Counsel who was appearing for one of the parties had to make a very grave complaint that the proceedings were prolonged to such an hour that it was physically impossible for him to continue his task, while on another occasion, when Counsel employed by one of the parties concerned had to leave the committee, it was carried on till 9 o’clock at night, and the chairman of the committee, so I am informed, gave as his reason for this that he had been instructed and pressed by the right hon. Gentleman to bring the proceedings to a conclusion and make a report.
I should like to ask another question. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his remarks, said that the House of Commons has the opportunity of seeing what the facts are. I deny that. One of our complaints all last summer, day after day and night after night, was that we could not get to know what the facts were. The right, hon. Gentleman appoints these Committees, they hear evidence, and they produce Reports. It is true that we get copies of the Reports, but we do not get the evidence on which those reports are based, and I would suggest that to say that this House has the opportunity of seeing what the facts are is—unconsciously, of course—misleading the House. What we do want is to have a better opportunity of seeing what are the facts on which these conclusions are reached, and I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman or the Parliamentary Secretary if there is any definite procedure under which the Board of Trade considers these reports when they are made.
We know what the right hon. Gentleman does. Over and over again, standing at that Box, answering criticisms

77which we have made in the light of information which we have had to pick and scrape where we can because the right hon. Gentleman will not give it to us—over and over again the right hon. Gentleman has said—[A laugh]. An hon. Member is amused, but I do not think that this is a matter for amusement. The House of Commons, after all, has as its chief duty the watching of the methods of taxing the community. That is the basis on which it rests, and I submit that over and over again we have been asked to make decisions with regard to taxing the community, and we have not had the facts upon which alone a real decision and a considered judgment can be given. If that amuses the hon. Member, well and good, but it does not amuse us. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the procedure for estimating and for coming to a conclusion upon he reports which these Committees make. I have in my hand a copy of the Report of the Committee on Wrapping Paper, on which we are to have a duty this year, and I will, if I may, read a few lines from paragraph 64 on page 23. The Committee says this:
“A duty on such an article as wrapping paper, used by every trade and industry, must necessarily imply a wide area of disturbance. It is an added objection that the subject-matter of the tax will not be quite easy to define. The duty will also operate somewhat harshly on those export businesses which deal in commodities made of wrapping-paper, and may in some degree affect the home demand for such goods. In brief, the effects of a duty cannot in this particular case be localised.”
In that short passage there are four or five expressions which demand consideration and which can only be judged if the evidence that prompts them can be considered by the people who have to make the decision, and here is this House of Commons all through these Debates last year, in spite of repeated requests and repeated protests, denied the right to consider the evidence on which these conclusions are based. The right hon. Gentleman has continually sheltered himself behind the Committees. When we asked for the evidence the invariable reply was “if the Committees have been set up, they are composed of capable and honourable ladies and gentlemen, and I am perfectly content to rely on their judgement” and he let the whole case go by default. I will not say it shows a want of proper respect to the House, but

78if he will consider the matter carefully, I think he will see that the consideration I put forward has a good deal of substance in it. He is not allowing the House to carry out the duty for which its Members were elected unless he will allow us to see this information and to judge for ourselves. I should like to know if there is any definite method in arriving at a decision upon these reports, and I should also like to know if there is any machinery at all for revising the decision. I hardly think the right hon. Gentleman himself can be satisfied with the results of the Safeguarding policy with regard to cotton net and lace.

355″>The CHAIRMAN: The duties are imposed for a term of years. Therefore, any question of revision would not depend on the action of the Board of Trade, but would require legislation.

356″>Major CRAWFURD: The point I was trying to make was that when the term of five years comes to a conclusion the House, I presume, will be called upon again to make a decision. Is there any proposal to publish information from time to time as to the working of the duties? If that is not in order I will leave the subject, and I will ask one or two questions as to the policy of the Department with regard to exhibitions. A little while ago the right hon. Gentleman made the announcement that the Government was paying £25,000 for advertising the British Industries Fair. How far has that money been successfully expended?

357″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: On a point of Order. This is a matter that arises on the Vote for the Department of Overseas Trade.

358″>The CHAIRMAN: Do I understand the President of the Board of Trade has no control over it?

359″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: Not over this Estimate. The expenses of the British Industries Fair are on the Vote for Overseas Trade.

360″>The CHAIRMAN: If it be clear that there is a separate Vote, under the practice of the House, it must be discussed on that.

361″>Major CRAWFURD: I will bring the matter up on another occasion. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to shirk discussion.

79I also understand we are not allowed on this occasion to raise the subject of the Committee presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary in regard to key industries.

362″>The CHAIRMAN: I do not think I have said that. I am not quite clear whether this Committee is one that has been appointed by the Board of Trade. We are not entitled to discuss whether there should be other key industries included in the list or whether some that are now included should be taken away, because all that would require legislation, but, as to the proceedings or personnel of the Committee, I imagine that would be in order

363″>Major CRAWFURD: I rather wanted to know what were the conclusions that the Board of Trade came to on that Report. If I am not misinformed, the Report was finished, and handed in four days before the Budget statement, and it recommended a renewal of the duties that had been imposed under the previous Act. I find, from figures supplied by the Board of Trade with regard to some of these articles, that there are very considerable imports into this country which are used by various industries.

364″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: On a point of Order. Of course, the whole of this is the subject of legislation. This Report was published as a White Paper in connection with the Budget. The Ways and Means Resolution includes the whole of the duties, and all these duties which the hon. Member is now discussing will figure in the Finance Bill.

365″>The CHAIRMAN: The merits of the inclusion of any of these duties cannot be discussed now, particularly as they are already included in the Ways and Means Resolution and in the Finance Bill, which I understand will be discussed on Wednesday and Thursday. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is asking for information, or criticising the delays of the Committee, or the personnel of the Committee, that no doubt will be in order, or if he is asking merely whether the Report can be published soon, but he cannot discuss the merits of the duty.

366″>Major CRAWFURD: I assume, as this is a Committee appointed by the Board of

80Trade, it reports to the Board of Trade, which takes certain action on the Report. It is not until the Cabinet has considered the Report of the Board of Trade that these things are enshrined in proposed legislation. It is the process which takes place before that point is arrived at on which I should like information. It is really with regard to the policy, not of the Government but of the Department in recommending certain things which affect British trade. These figures will show that there is a large number of articles which come under the key industry category which have been imported in the last four or five years, which are used by a large number of important trades.

367″>The CHAIRMAN: I think this must really wait until Wednesday.

368″>Major CRAWFURD: Then may I ask has the Committee set up by the Department invited and considered the criticism of the trades that may be affected by these duties? My point with regard to the composition of the Committee is this. It consisted of very distinguished people, and was presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary. In addition to him there were two distinguished scientists and a very distinguished patent lawyer. In a Committee which was considering the effects of legislation of this kind, surely there ought to have been someone who would have been able to represent the commercial interests of the country.

369″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: Would he have been as impartial as the hon. Member desires?

370″>Major CRAWFURD: I do not see that there is any reason at all why a commercial man cannot be impartial. There are many trades that are affected by these duties, and many that are not. I think it would have been better if people with commercial experience, able to bring their knowledge to bear on the effect of these duties on the commercial life of the country, had been included on the Committee. At any rate, apparently only four days elapsed between the report of the Committee dealing with duties on thousands of articles and the day on which they were enshrined in the Bill.
My final point is this. I think there was a slight omission from the right hon. Gentleman’s speech, when he was making a general survey of the prospects of trade.

81Perhaps it would be possible for his colleague before the end of the Debate to make a general survey of the activities of the Board of Trade. The expenditure of the Board of Trade has very largely increased as compared with the pre-War period. Two Committees have recommended the total abolition of the Department of Overseas Trade. I wonder whether we can have a little explanation of the large increase in these figures.

371″>7.0 P.M.

372″>Colonel WOODCOCK: May I congratulate my right hon. Friend for even the small ray of hope he was able to put into the very fine speech he made, notwithstanding all the circumstances connected with the last fortnight or even with the last few months. It is most encouraging that we can look forward with hope to the future, and that our trade will have an opportunity of improving and increasing and seeing better conditions than we have seen during the development of the coal crisis. One of the greatest surprises to me is that the Labour Benches have been unoccupied. The average number in attendance during the whole of the afternoon has not exceeded eight and the maximum has been 10. If that is the interest the Labour Party take in the men they represent, it shows a very bad case indeed. Even on the Liberal benches there has been a far greater proportion, and in some cases a greater number— there were several deputy leaders there— while the Opposition benches, with all their interest in the working man and unemployment, have been almost bare. I must apologise for being drawn into those remarks. I am very glad to make them, because I feel there is a great deal of truth in them, and I hope that those who represent the Labour Party will in future show a better attendance.
With reference to the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander), it is always very interesting to listen to the speeches which he prepares with great care and delivers with a very pleasing manner. I am a great admirer of his work, but what I admired mostly of his ability in to-day’s speech was the great memory which he showed. Yesterday I read through very carefully the speech he made on this very Vote last year. His abilities shown in that speech are only exceeded by his memory, because, if he will read the Official Report, not for

82to-morrow, but for the 6th July of last year, he will find almost the speech of to-day reported verbatim. It is a great thing to have a good memory, and if he prepares one good speech, as he did last year, it will last him for two or three years. There is one thing he always refers to, and that is trade with Russia. He told us last year— I shall not read it again, but it was the same as he said to-day— about the amount of trade they were doing with Russia, referring to his connection with the co-operative interest. He says they have had no trouble in discounting bills or in any other business way. I congratulate him on having done so well. He is very welcome to continue that trade, and he is very lucky not to have encountered the trouble which other commercial houses have unfortunately had.
If this country is going to have trade with Russia, let it be carried on by the private enterprise with which he is associated. I can tell him of other companies that have not been so fortunate. He has altogether over-estimated the trade we are going to get from Russia, as even if it gets back to the 1913 figures, we have been told by the right- hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) that in 1913 the trade of Russia was not as large as the trade of New Zealand. If we are going to worry the Government about Russia in order to get a little extra trade, we are running after the shadow instead of the substance.

373″>Mr. ALEXANDER: With regard to his reference to my speech last year, if the Government continues the same insane policy this year as well as last year, there is no reason why we should not come to the same conclusion. It is perfectly true that the figures for trade with Russia were not so large before the War. Given the potential purchasing capacity of the people they did not have under the Czars but will have if they are allowed to develop in the proper way, it is capable of great expansion.

374″>Colonel WOODCOCK: I do not think that anybody on these Benches will follow the hon. Member’s remarks about Russia. If he wants me to refer to his speech last year, I can only refer to a speech which is on the same destructive lines as it is this year, without the least bit of constructive suggestion about it. If he is going to reprove sin, he is only going to reprove a

83condition of things which continued just as it was left by a Government in which he was an Under-Secretary in the Department which we are discussing to-day.
Speaking about trade, we have been told that retailers’ profits at the present day were too high, and the hon. Member for Hillsborough instanced the case of his own concern, the Co-operative Societies. They could very fairly set an example and reduce their profits, and so give the poor working man the benefit, by the reduction of prices which he complains are too high in the retail business. I do agree that the ratio of profit that retailers are making to-day is totally out of proportion to the ratio of profit they made in pre-War days. As to the wholesalers’ profit, that has been a precarious item, and the merchant knows very well they have been uncertain and small. That does not apply to the Co-operative Society, which is both wholesale and retail. The wholesaler throughout the country has taken great risks and come down on many occasions with contracts, but the retailer, as the hon. Member knows from his own experience, is making profits totally out of proportion, and not in ratio to what he made in pre-War days.
A great deal has been said about imports and exports. Unfortunately our exports are decreasing and our imports are increasing, which brings us to the foreign investments which we are making in this country, and which are such an important factor in the whole well-being of this country. I want to ask the President of the Board of Trade if the Government are encouraging foreign investments as they did in pre-War days. There was a period since the War when there was an embargo placed upon all foreign investments in order to damp them down as much as possible. Is the Government still adopting the policy of not encouraging foreign investment of the money we have in this country? Again, he spoke about our not living on our credit. That is a most encouraging thing to hear from the President of the Board of Trade, but we are getting far nearer that point than we were some years ago, and, unless things are going to improve and be in a better relation, we shall be getting down to the very knuckle, and probably have to live upon our credit subsequently.

84It is this national credit and national prestige of which he has spoken, and which has been developed in our foreign trade and in our Crown Colonies which should be helped, as it brings trade to this country and thus increases our exports so that with our exports increasing we may have better trade and less unemployment. This country has passed through a very serious state during the last six months, which probably accounts more than anything for the trade returns for the last four months. I hope that with the settlement of all this industrial unrest there will be an opportunity for employers to make contracts that will be beneficial, that there will be a stimulating freedom for them to commit themselves to more business enterprise in all parts of the world. If we are going to have this unrest brought to a settlement, and 10 years of good steady work, I think this country will again return to a prewar state.

375″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I do re-echo that part of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool (Colonel Woodcock) about the necessity for work. We have heard an extraordinary speech made by the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), in which he gave certain facts about the rate of unloading vessels and turning ships round in our ports. He gave some extraordinary figures, and alleged that it cost 50 per cent. more to unload and turn round ships in this country than on the Continent. Coming from an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, an ex-President of the Board of Trade, and an ex-Minister of Labour, three offices which qualify him to be listened to, that statement is going to do us much harm abroad. I regret it was made without being supported by any evidence or figures, because I do not believe it. Perhaps you can pick out isolated cases here and there. I hope the President of the Board of Trade or his Department will look into this case, and issue an authoritative denial, because I am quite convinced, from what I know of the work done at our seaports, that it is not true. If it be true, there should be a most searching inquiry by the Board of Trade into the causes, and remedies should be suggested. I shall refuse to believe it is true, generally speaking, until the Board of Trade has substantiated it. In the case of Hull, we

85are a very cheap port, and the dock workers in Hull work extremely hard and ships are turned round extremely rapidly. Their trouble there is to get work to do. The President of the Board of Trade must take up this matter. When the right hon. Member for Hillhead makes a statement of that sort, it is a matter that must be tackled by the Board of Trade.
I have frequently complained of this extremely costly Department. The cost is very heavy, and really it does nothing at all to assist British trade. Endless returns and statistics are compiled, but we are not getting value for £521,000. The President of the Board of Trade and his Department, with the best will in the world, are not doing anything active at the present moment for British trade. One thing they could do without legislation would be to get up a strong committee to look into this question of costs in our ports. I hope they will do so, and that they will visit Hull, where they will find our costs are cheap. I hope that, if there be anything to be learned from Hull, it will be applied to other ports as well. That is one thins which I hope the President of the Board of Trade will tackle without undue delay.
There is another thing he can do. The President of the Board of Trade has a peculiar position in this country. He attends all the great meetings of employers and the annual dinners of Chambers of Commerce. He makes the speech of the evening. I have listened to many of his speeches with great pleasure; they are made after dinner, but they do not suffer from that. We have just been through a very damaging time. The Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day in answer to a quesion said, “We have not spent very much in the last fortnight. The direct expenditure of the Goverment has not been very much more than three-quarters of a million. I do not expect my Income Tax return is very much down.” He was thoroughly optimistic. Apparently, the only serious expenditure was “The British Gazette.” I have asked for a detailed estimate to be made, as far as it can be made, of the actual cost within the last fortnight. It is necessary and desirable that the country should know not only the direct Government expenditure but the estimated loss in trade, contracts, exports and imports.

86The President of the Board of Trade is specially responsible, and I hope he will impress more than ever on the people of this country the necessity for hard work. That appeal should be addressed to all classes. As far as I can make out, the people in this country only work hard when there is a strike in progress. The salient factors of our social life seem to be a mad search for pleasure, a want of seriousness and a want of enterprise. People think so much about sport. There is too much dissipation and riotous living. [HON. MEMBERS: “Oh!”] I would advise the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) to go to the West End of London and see what is going on there. Let him try to get a table at any popular restaurant and see the expenditure. The idleness and dissipation among the upper classes and the middle classes, which is naturally copied by the working classes, is tremendous. The working classes copy the example, although they are not able to afford the luxuries. They look to pleasure as the principal aim of life and not to work. I am not blaming them. They only take the example from above. They are not the most to blame. The most to blame are the men of education and the leaders of industry who ought to set a better example. When you have an employer of labour not coming to his office on Saturday and only arriving at noon on Monday, it is not for him to complain that his staff consists of clock watchers—people who are always looking at the clock and waiting to get away. That is the sort of spirit that has worked great harm in this country.

376″>The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Major Sir Archibald Sinclair): I hope the hon. and gallant Member will explain to the Committee how the President of the Board of Trade is responsible for this condition of things.

377″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I will explain to him fully what he ought to do. After what has happened during the last 14 days, whatever else results, I hope there will be a different spirit in this country. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will use his great position to drive the lesson home on all occasions. There is no doubt that in other countries commercial people are working harder than we are to-day, and harder than we have been working for some years past. There is a great opportunity for the Presi-

87dent of the Board of Trade to lead a great crusade. I am sure that he would do much more good by going to the great industrial centres than remaining in his own office. He has able subordinates, who can carry on very well for him. The Government were able to send their undersecretaries to different parts of the country during the recent strike, and got on very well without them. Let the secretaries carry on in the Board of Trade, and let the President of the Board of Trade go to the great centres and preach the doctrine of hard work and enterprise, the recovery of the old pioneering spirit, the throwing overboard of industrial Conservatism, which is nearly as disastrous as political Conservatism. I refer to the reluctance to take advantage of new inventions and discoveries, the reluctance to make use of the excellent scientists passing through our universities and to bring all the brains and enterprise possible into our business.
The President of the Board of Trade is the youngest but one in the Cabinet. He is only a year or so older than I am. Let him preach to the youth of England, who will have to save England, and will have to save our industries and our commerce. Let them do what their forefathers did when they built up the greatness of this country as a commercial nation; let them recover our lost markets. We spend over £500,000 on the Board of Trade, but apart from Blue Books, statistics, &c., there is nothing practical to show for it. Nothing is done by the Board of Trade to help British commerce in any way comparable with the enormous expenditure. I have been stirred into saying these things by some of the remarks that have been made in this Debate and by my realisation of the enormous losses of this year, partly due to the uncertainty of what was going to happen before 1st May, and partly by the great damage that must have been done during the last fortnight.

378″>Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE: I would not detain the Committee or the Government from proceeding with other business if it were not that I feel very strongly that perhaps this is rather a special occasion in the industrial history of this country and a time when, above all other times, the House of Commons should make perfectly clear to the country what it

88believes to be necessary for the future of its industrial life. I do not propose to follow my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) in the sermon which he addressed to the youth of England, or in the copy-book maxims which he thinks the President of the Board of Trade ought to preach in the industrial towns and cities; but I do think that it is extremely important at a time like this, when possibly more than at any other time in recent years, the country is prepared for co-operation in a unique degree amongst all classes of workers, we should consider what are the troubles with which industry is faced and to what extent Parliament can help in overcoming them.
I do not feel quite so optimistic as my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade when he reviewed the conditions of our industry and gave the figures of exports and imxports. It is true that those figures only tell one side of the story. It is well known that figures can be made to prove nearly anything, but when one realises that our exports —I speak of last year particularly— represent £773,000,000, or £28,000,000 less than 1924 and only £6,000,000 better than 1923, whereas our imports, even excluding re-exports, show an increase of £31,000,000 over 1921 and £191,000,000 over 1923, it does not require any great knowledge of finance or any great investigation of export or import figures to enable one to realise that there is something wrong and something which the country must take note of. I want to make it clear that I appreciate the possibility that a large excess of imports does not necessarily mean that the country is suffering to the extent that the figures would at first indicate. Let us consider what are the difficulties to the employer on the one hand and the worker on the other. Perhaps it would be fair to take the position of the worker first. His position to-day arises from the results of a long period during which he has not received from industry the reward which the expansion of trade might have led him to expect. I think that is the root cause of the trouble. In other words, he is not getting the standard of life which a century of industrial expansion in Great Britain almost entitles him to expect.
Anyone who studies the past history of industry in this country will be struck

89first and foremost with the fact that considering the enormous wealth which the country has gained from industry for a century and a half, the progress of the industrial worker has not been commensurate with the wealth gained by other members of the community. If there is one thing more than another which makes the worker in industry uneasy and difficult to deal with it is the feeling that he is not getting a fair return or a fair share of what industry yields, and possibly to that it might be right to add the feeling that the industry in which he is engaged is not being worked to the best possible advantage. I would ask the Committee to consider this point. Why is it that the worker in industry is not getting the share that he expects? This is an opportunity in the history of this country for the trade unions themselves to consider whether some of their rules are not antiquated and out of date and whether some of those rules have not more to do with keeping down the standard of living of the workers than anything else. This is a time when they can without any fear of loss of pride consider whether some of those rules refer to the past and have no value in these times of modern industry.
If the worker is not getting a sufficient share from industry, the question arises whether there is any fiscal matter in regard to which Parliament can help him. It would not be in Order, and I do not propose to do it, to enter into fiscal questions in detail, but I would put this one question, which I think the worker would be wise to consider, i.e., whether cheapness gained at the expense of the standard of living of the workman is not cheapness gained very dearly. Then there is the enormous question of production. We hear a great deal of the enormous advantage which the American workman enjoys, and which industry in the United States enjoys, speaking generally. I have some knowledge not only of industry in this country but also in the United States and other parts of the world, and I think there is a definite misconception on that point. It is true that the amount of money which the American workman handles is very much larger than that which is handled by the British worker, but I question whether at the end of the month or at the end of the year the American workman has any

90larger amount of savings or any larger balance that he can turn to as a result of the more intensive industry which he has put in during that period.

379″>Captain GARRO-JONES: I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish to convey a false impression. As he knows, even a casual glance at the figures of the savings bank deposits in the United States for the last five years show that they have increased five-fold, and in some cases ten-fold, in some States.

380″>Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE: I am not disputing that point, nor am I questioning the enormous wealth and indeed the increasing wealth, of the United States. But the deposits in this country are increasing also. The point I wished to make before passing from the question of earnings in America and in this country was with the object of trying to get the British workman not purely to look to the American system as his only safeguard, but to consider whether he is not really, in a way, more advanced here than in America. I am not at all sure that the advance in industry in the United States has brought that country into a condition in which it is really so well able to take a move forward in world trade as we are in this country.
I do not agree with those who are constantly pessimistic as regards the outlook for British trade. We are all fond of talking of the advantage of the League of Nations, and everyone will agree that if it is desirable to support the League of Nations in every possible way, but we do not hear a single word of the League of British Nations, which would give us within ourselves and quite independent of other people a far greater expansion of trade than any country has yet experienced. There is no cotton operative in the north of England who could not tell you that only about 3 per cent of the cotton he uses comes from British sources, but he does not know that there is no reason whatever why a much larger proportion should not come from British Possessions. The only reason those Possessions do not produce more cotton is because they have not got a sufficient supply of the very things we want to sell, railway materials, machinery and building materials. The development of our own Empire, and the expansion of British credit for that purpose would

91give us a far bigger move forward in world trade than probably any country has ever experienced before.
Let me turn to the question of the employers. I said just now that the workmen’s strongest feeling was a demand for a greater share in industry; and that to my mind they must get. In the same way it is equally essential that the British industrialist should be free from the restrictions which at present compass him about. There is hardly an employer of labour in this country who during the last few years has felt able to enter into any contract with any certainty at all that he would be able to carry it out; that before the time came for the contract to be fulfilled there might not be some new restrictions on the part of the unions, or a strike, or a lock-out, which would prevent his carrying out the contract. That has more to do with our slow advance in trade than almost anything else. They were faced with this difficulty almost every week in the last few years, and if it is the case that the standard of living of the worker has to be raised—and it has—it is equally essential that the employer should be assured that he is going to get co-operation from the workmen in trying to get the greatest possible production and in carrying out the contracts into which he has entered.
I feel a little diffidence in dealing with the next point, but in all the discussions which have taken place in this House there has been more nonsense talked on the subject of economy than on anything else. The other day I took the trouble to go into the Library and look up the Debates which took place in the House of Commons just 110 years ago, and almost word for word the speeches I have heard delivered here in the last few months were delivered by our predecessors 110 years ago. There were statements made in that year as to the country arriving at a state of bankruptcy because we had an expenditure much greater than anything that had been known before. May I refer to one speech specially, made in the House of Commons on the 3rd April, 1816 which ends as follows:
“There is not a single independent man to be found who did not believe that the very safety of the country depended … on the absolute practice of economy.…

92It would never do to go upon a system of borrowing £8,000,000 in a year of peace.”
If our forefathers could look at us now they would be tempted to say that we are as frightened of the position to-day as they were in the days gone by. The amount a country spends is not the essential point. Real economy is not saving money at all. Real economy is spending money wisely, and the thing we have to look at is whether we are getting value for the money we spend. We are not getting it by payment to people to do nothing, and we are not helping industry by the consequent increase of taxation. That brings me to the next point I want to make, and which I ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to carefully consider. Is not this the time when he should consider what is wrong, if there is something wrong, with the industries of this country; that he should do something on a big scale to meet the difficulty? I suggest to him that there is one definite way in which he could help industrialists very much. In the various industries of the country it would be possible to get committees together of those engaged in them to consider whether there is any action that can be taken by the Government to assist the industry so that industrial reorganisation should come about
I am not suggesting another general inquiry into the industries of the country, but an inquiry as to the difficulties from which industrialists are suffering in particular industries, and with particulars from the people in the industries themselves, the President of the Board of Trade would be able to point out any further developments which are necessary or possible for Parliament to take to help the trade of the country. A good deal could be done. It cannot be done by Parliament alone, but it can be done if it comes from within the industries themselves. I do not want to go into the matter in detail at the moment, but I think the time has come, after this great struggle, when the whole country is more willing than it has been for many long years to face the position, and for all classes to work together. Employers and employed feel that if there is anything they can do to get industry on a proper basis, this is the moment when any move would not be misunderstood. I am more than anxious that this oppor-

93tunity should be taken; when employers and employed feel that restrictions must go, when new machinery and new ideas can come into force, when a system of co-partnership can be arranged. This is the moment to bring the necessary changes into effect and if the House of Commons will say that it looks willingly to a consideration of any steps necessary for reorganisation and reconstruction so that we may further develop our trade and industry, we shall have done some good in discussing this matter to-day.

381″>Mr. KELLY: I should not have taken part in this Debate but for the number of times I have heard a reference to the antiquated rules of trades unions. Hon. Members who have spoken have done so in general terms. At least they might have given us some idea of the particular rule to which they were referring. I wondered whether it was the depressed engineering trade or the shipbuilding trade. If so, then they had better look not in the direction of the workmen, but in the direction of the employers and ask them to get rid of their antiquated rules and methods of training and working. The present position of the industries of this country is not due to the non-co-operation of the workmen. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) lectured us this afternoon, and I think he might have known better having occupied Cabinet rank. He said that if something was done by the workmen of this country, then everything would go right, that we should have high wages and good trade, and secure those orders which the country wanted. We listened to him at great length, but not one idea was given to the Government or to the country that would help us at this moment. He gave high praise to the President of the Board of Trade, and I marvelled at the language coming from that quarter.
The right hon. Gentleman only told us one thing— that there should be a response from the men in the shops. A speech of that kind in this House is an insult to the millions of men and women who are employed in the industries of this country. It is not a question of a response on the part of the workers; it is not a question of any difficulty in cooperation. The difficulty lies in the fact that for some reason or other those who have the control of the businesses of this

94country have not been able to secure the orders. If they can find the orders the people are there to do the work and there are no better workpeople in the world. That is admitted by the employers. The other point was that made by the hon. and gallant Member for Everton (Colonel Woodcock) who is so rarely in the House. He referred to the few Members present on these Benches. I do not blame my colleagues for absenting themselves when speeches of that kind are being delivered in this House. Many of them are engaged in Committee work at this moment, and some are engaged in connection with a dispute that is being cleared up. There is little need, therefore, for the references made by the hon. Member for Everton. It will be time enough for him to lecture members of the Labour Party when he attends to his own duties in the House.

382″>Sir DOUGLAS NEWTON: It is not my custom to take up the time of the House very frequently, and I do not wish to do so for more than a minute or two now. I would like, however, to direct the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the working of the Standards Department of the Board of Trade. I am glad to notice that there is an increased allowance of £440 in the Vote, and I hope that that increase will be sufficient to enable the Standards Department to deal adequately and, I hope, more quickly, with the work with which it is entrusted. The work of this Department is somewhat in arrear. Members have been unable to obtain the annual reports which many look forward to receiving. It is important that these reports should be in the possession of Members at any rate before this Vote is taken. There is one other point to which I would refer, and that is the work of the Food Council. I put a question to the President of the Board of Trade recently, and suggested that the Food Council’s terms of reference might be extended to enable them to deal with the question of selling food by weight or by measure. I am sorry that objection was taken to that extended reference, but I hope that there may be a reconsideration of the matter, because I can conceive no body better fitted to deal with the question of the sale of foodstuffs by weight and by measure than the Food Council. They have done much excellent work in protecting the interests of the housewives

95of the country. The field is by no means covered yet, and if the terms of reference were extended they might do still more useful work in the future.

383″>Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

384″>Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

385″>Motion made, and Question proposed,
“That a sum, not exceeding £237,811, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the Salaries and Expenses of certain services transferred from the Mercantile Marine Fund, and other services connected with the Mercantile Marine, including the Coastguard, General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen, Merchant Seamen’s Fund Pensions, and Grants to the General Lighthouse Fund and other Lighthouse Authorities.” [Note.— £170,000 has been voted on account.]386″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I do so in order to draw attention to certain grievances of the Mercantile Marine of the country. I will refer first to a grievance of those who take an interest in Mercantile Marine affairs, and that is that this Vote is always taken at an hour of the evening when either everyone wants to get away or Members are going out to dinner. In other words, the Vote is always taken at a time when proper attention cannot be given to it. Undeterred by that fact, and supported by the presence of an hon. colleague from Hull and the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley), I propose to state one or two long-felt grievances on the part of that magnificent body of men, the British Mercantile Marine. First, I will deal with the officers. The officers to-day have three main grounds of complaint. The first is that they suffer from a great deal of unemployment. That cannot be helped, as it is part of the result of the worldwide depression of trade.
A second grievance is that in far too many ships the obsolete two-watch system is still carried on. I consider that all vessels, except those of the smallest size, say, 1,000 tons, should carry three watch-keeping officers. I have had some experience of watch-keeping. I kept watch for many years at sea, and I hold that96the two-watch system is not suitable for modern conditions. Vessels are getting faster, and traffic is more congested at sea on the main routes, and the strain of watch and watch is very hard on officers. If you have the master of the ship and two mates, those two mates have to keep watch and watch, they have to take sights, they may be required for any emergency, and on long voyages the system is barbarous. The three-watch system would be in accordance with the Government’s declared policy of an eight-hours day, and it would relieve a good deal of the present unemployment by absorbing some of the fully qualified officers, with fine records in the War, who cannot get berths at all, and are having to serve before the mast, or are working as dock labourers and in all sorts of shore-going jobs. I hope the Board of Trade is sympathetic to the proposal.
Secondly, the Merchant Service Officers have for long asked for some superannuation or pension scheme on a contributory basis. Most of the great shipping lines have such schemes already. The officers contribute, the companies contribute, and everything is alright; but the smaller lines and what are known as the tramp lines, for the most part have no such scheme. By the very nature of their calling, officers of the Mercantile Marine need such a scheme. They would be willing to contribute. The great majority of the shipowners would be prepared to assist, but they know always that two or three recalcitrant or obscurantist members of the shipowning profession stand in the way. I hope that the Board of Trade will give sympathetic attention to this matter. What is needed is a wide superannuation scheme for the shipping companies and all ships that have not already an approved scheme. We want someone who will do for the Mercantile Service Officers what the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) did with his great health insurance and pension schemes for other sections of the community. The Government should contribute to such a scheme as a lasting monument to the men of the Mercantile Marine. A great many of them have risen from the fo’csle, and they served the country well in the War. They are deserving of assistance and recognition now.

97Before I come to deal with the seamen and firemen and the catering branch, I want to say something on the question of oil in navigable waters. This is a very serious matter on the north-east coast. The Board of Trade will have to send a representative to Washington or New York for the Convention which the United States Government has summoned for this year. I want to be assured that those British representatives are working to a practical proposition. The fact that the United States Government has called this International Convention does not relieve the Board of Trade of the responsibility of having a workable scheme. Have they the best available people to work on it? Amongst those I include, of course, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I hope that they are looking into this very difficult and important question. Many of the old fishermen on the northeast coast have put down the extraordinarily bad fishing seasons that we have been having to the oil in navigable waters. The oil does great harm to sea-birds, and every humanitarian and lover of beauty will, I am sure, support anything that will prevent the wholesale destruction of beautiful sea birds by oil.
Last night, in anticipation of this Debate, I was reading that great poem of Coleridge’s, the “Lay of the Ancient Mariner.” I need not remind the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade of what happened to the man who slew the albatross. Hundreds of beautiful sea-birds are being destroyed by oil. The fishermen pick the birds out of the sea and try to clean their feathers [Laughter]. An hon. Member laughs. It is a pathetic thing to see beautiful birds with their feathers clogged with oil. The hon. Gentleman who laughs, I think, does not know the sufferings of these birds. The seaside resorts in many cases are also suffering from the oil, which is spoiling the amenities of the coast and driving still more people abroad for their holidays, when they might be spending their money in England. If the International Convention which is to deal with the matter should fail, I shall blame the Board of Trade, for we are the principal mercantile nation, we have most ships using and discharging oil, and we should have a workable scheme ready for the Convention.

98With reference to the men of the Mercantile Marine, I am astonished at the attitude of the Board of Trade on the question of the employment of seamen, and particularly the preference given by many shipowners to foreigners and Asiatics instead of British seamen. I asked the Parliamentary Secretary a little while ago if his attention had been drawn to the serious unemployment amongst seamen and the number of foreigners who were taking the places of Britishers in British ships, and he said there was a certain amount of unemployment amongst British seamen, but it was not possible to give the exact figures, and all the rest of it. He said the number of aliens was only some 5 per cent.

387″>The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Burton Chadwick): Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman read my answer to his next supplementary question?

388″>8.0 P.M.

389″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I have not the report here, but I did get the exact figure later. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary himself is not unsympathetic in the matter, and that the answer I have referred to was prepared by his Department. I say that the Department is not sympathetic, and that it ought to be, and that it is up to the political head to make the Department sympathetic. The Parliamentary Secretary says that he does not think representations to the shipowners would serve any useful purpose. Representations from the Board of Trade might serve a very useful purpose. Let me give the figures of unemployment in the Mercantile Marine.
The last figures which I could get showed 10,794 seamen registered for unemployment benefit and reporting at the Mercantile Marine Offices. There are many more who, despairing of getting ships, have gone into other employments and are not reporting as unemployed. Of the number registered, 2,217 were seamen, 5,000 were firemen, and some 3,500 belonged to the catering department. That is a very high figure of unemployment among these men, many of whom are tried seamen, who went through the War. The House of Commons passed a special vote of thanks to the men of the Mercantile Marine for their services in the War and,

99now, many of these men are unable to get ships, though they are willing to work. Let us examine the reason for this state of affairs. The figures for 1925, the latest I could obtain, show that at the end of that year there were employed on British ships foreigners, other than Asiatics and Africans, to the number of 13,798. There are also Asiatics and Africans, some of whom are British subjects or who say they are British subjects, such as Arabs from Aden who may really come from the hinterland, and Chinese from Hong Kong or perhaps from the neighbourhood of Canton—people who do not speak English, but who call themselves British subjects, and when it suits them claim some other nationality. The number of these employed on British ships is l6,789. Thus there are over 30,000 Asiatics, Africans and other foreigners employed in British ships. I do not wish to stress that point unduly. Many of these Asiatics and others are British subjects who were very valuable in the War, and who were very steadfast and loyal, and I do not wish to raise any racial prejudice. I would only point out that in order to get foreigners into employment as footmen or chauffeurs, all sorts of formalities have to be gone through with the Ministry of Labour, yet in the case of seamen there are no difficulties at all. I know that the law does not prevent British shipowners signing on these foreigners, but I think when ever they can, shipowners ought to take suitable British seamen first. That may not be very strict and orthodox Free Trade, but these are not orthodox times. When the Government think fit to safeguard this or that key industry, and protect this or that manufacturing process, when we cease to be a Free Trade country, then I think the men in the Mercantile Marine are also entitled to some protection by the efforts of the Board of Trade, and by such influence as the Board of Trade can bring upon the shipowners.
I would invite the Parliamentary Secretary to come down to the docks at Hull or at Grimsby and to see the splendid material which is there idle, and would like to see if he would give the same reply to those men as that which he gave to me on this matter. I admit that many ships engaged in certain trades must employ foreigners. There are ships

100which do not touch at any home port, and there are ships which work constantly under tropical conditions, and therefore must employ a certain amount of Asiatic or coloured labour. I do not want any hard and fast rule laid down, but I think it is pitiable when we have excellent men looking for berths in a port like Hull, that a British ship which touches that port at the end of every voyage should sign on a deck crew of Japanese. It may suit the Japanese Admiralty to have these fine reserves ready for the Japanese Navy when they are required, but I do not think it suits the British Admiralty and it ought not to suit the British Board of Trade. Every effort should be made to induce shipowners whose ships enjoy the protection of our flag and our Fleet, the services of our consuls abroad, and the prestige of the British name, to give preference to suitable British seamen and firemen wherever they are available.

390″>Mr. WOMERSLEY: I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to tell the Committee what has happened to the fund known as the Lascar Fund. The administration of this fund, I understand, is in charge of the Board of Trade, and some of the aged seamen who ought to benefit from it do not appear to be getting the consideration which they deserve. I should also like to raise the question of the payment of reparations to seamen. It has been stated more than once in the House of Commons that this matter is now closed, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that that statement has not given satisfaction in the seaports. There are many men who feel that their claims have not received just consideration, and many anomalies exist. There are cases where a ship’s boy has actually drawn more by way of reparation than the captain of his ship. I would impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary that there is a feeling in the ports that this question ought to be reopened, and consideration given to certain claims and that the matter ought to be dealt with quickly.
In the course of the Debate on the previous Vote a question was raised which I am told ought properly to have been raised on this Vote, and I hope I shall be in order in referring to it. It is the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne)

101of the excessive cost of turning round and unloading vessels in our ports. If there is anything in the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, the Board of Trade should at once institute an inquiry. Those who represent seaport towns realise that for such a statement to go forth to the world will be detrimental to our trade. We of the Humber ports are very proud of our records in the matter of unloading ships. The port of Immingham, near Grimsby, has a world record for loading coal.

391″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain FitzRoy): I do not think this Vote covers the question of port authorities discharging ships.

392″>Mr. WOMERSLEY: It is rather unfortunate that there should have been a change in the Chair at this juncture, because I am informed that the Committee were told previously that the matter could not be raised on the previous Vote, but might be raised on this Vote. Of course I bow to the ruling of the Chair.

393″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: If the Government were responsible for the charges levied, it would be in order but I do not think that is the case.

394″>Mr. WOMERSLEY: I wanted to make this point clear, because it is in the best interests of the Mercantile Marine as a whole— for which the Board of Trade is responsible— that this matter should be investigated. I appeal to the President of the Board of Trade, through the Parliamentary Secretary, to consider the setting up of a committee of inquiry at once to ascertain whether the statements made are accurate or otherwise.

395″>Mr. KELLY: I rise to ask some questions in regard to Item M and Item O in the Estimates dealing with lighthouses in British occupation. I desire to have some further information as to these lighthouses, where they are situated, and who are manning them. Are they being manned by people from this country, and, if so, what are the rates of pay and conditions attaching to the employment of lighthouse keepers, and to the crews of vessels who are taking out reliefs and other workers? I notice that the word “temporary” is used with regard to them, and I should also like to know how long it is expected that we shall hold on

102to these lighthouses. Regarding the special grant to the General Lighthouse Fund, I should like to know what steps the Board of Trade intend to take to see that that fund is administered in a way that will give reasonable conditions to the officers and men in the lighthouse service. Officers who served well during the War, and took even more risks than officers in the Navy, have not been rewarded in any reasonable way for their services. Although they were doing work even more serious than the work of the fighting ships, and although they carried fighting men on board during that period, when the time came for handing out the rewards, they were looked upon as non-combatants.
If the Government are going to spend this money as a grant to the General Lighthouse Fund, they ought to see that these officers and men, are properly treated. For some time they have been endeavouring to set up a Whitley Council, so that the Elder Brethren of Trinity House and those in their service might meet together and discuss the conditions attaching to the service. For some reason difficult to understand, the Elder Brethren have declined to agree to a Whitley Council to cover the officers and men on the steam-boats and light vessels, and those engaged on the wharves. I hope the Board of Trade will see that the men in the Trinity House service have the opportunity of getting consideration.

396″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: I do not know that the Parliamentary Secretary can answer these questions, but I am afraid this has nothing to do with the Vote.

397″>Mr. KELLY: Then may I put it in this way. We are handing out some £15,000 this year and £30,000 was handed out last year. Are we to be told that the Department knows nothing of the conditions in regard to the expending of that money?

398″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: If the hon. Member will examine the Estimates, I think he will see that this is a special grant towards the removal of wrecks.

399″>Mr. KELLY: The men I am dealing with are the men who remove those wrecks.

400″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: I think they are under a different authority from

103the Board of Trade. They are under Trinity House, and not the Board of Trade.

401″>Mr. KELLY: I suppose that Trinity House has to receive its finances through the Board of Trade from the light dues which are gathered up by the Board of Trade, and the only opportunity we have of dealing with the expenditure of the Board of Trade on lights is now, when we have this grant before us.

402″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: I cannot see that this question comes under this Vote at all.

403″>Mr. ALEXANDER: On a point of Order. I understand that there may be a separate administration of the Fund, but it is the duty of the Parliamentary Secretary to preside periodically over the finance committee of the Lighthouse Fund on behalf of the Board of Trade, and it is, therefore, difficult to know how we are going to deal with this grant from public funds unless we can criticise it on this Vote.

404″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who represents the Board of Trade will enlighten me on that subject. I may be wrong.

405″>Sir B. CHADWICK: The Board of Trade is responsible for the administration of what is known as the Lighthouse Fund, and that is why this £15,000 is included in this Vote, but it is no part of the business of the Board of Trade to control the administration of Trinity House. I do not think I have any power to say anything to Trinity House in respect to the question to which the hon. Member is referring, namely, the treatment of Trinity House servants.

406″>Mr. KELLY: May I suggest, Capt. FitzRoy, that the Elder Brethren make a statement at all times to their employés that before they can do anything to improve the conditions of their people, they are bound to have the approval of the Board of Trade? I have been told that by the Deputy Master of the Elder Brethren time and time again that they have to come to the Board of Trade for approval, and this is the only time when I have the chance of coming face to face with the Board of Trade on the whole matter. These are the people who have to remove these wrecks,

104and I ask the Board of Trade whether they are satisfying themselves as to the conditions operating in that service for men and officers on light vessels, and on the yachts and steam-boats, and of men who are engaged in the lighthouses, and whether they have been properly manned with sufficient staff.
We heard something in the previous Debate about home markets. I do not want to go over that Debate, but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he considers that he is helping the home markets when he is paying wages such as are paid in the Board of Trade at the present time. Does he expect typists to be able to live at anything like a reasonable standard of life at 22s. per week? Does he expect that an outdoor officer in connection with stores is going to have an adequate standard of life on 27s. per week? I think the time for the President and the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade to talk about assisting home markets is when they are paying proper wages, and when they do that, they will have no need to advertise the buying of British goods.

407″>Sir B. CHADWICK: First, let me clear up that point as to the margin between the Board of Trade and Trinity House. The Board of Trade have the responsibility of administering the Lighthouse Fund, and this grant, to which the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) refers, of £15,000 in respect of wreck removals, is an additional grant made to the Lighthouse Fund by the Treasury. Trinity House are entirely responsible for the administration of their own affairs, and at the present time, I understand, they have this matter under examination by their own men. Only when it becomes a matter of finance, do they come to the Board of Trade, and, as far as I understand it, the only voice that the Board of Trade have in the matter is to approve or disapprove of any financial scheme laid before them.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) spoke in regard to the officers of the Mercantile Marine, as indeed all the speakers have done, and I can say this, that they could come to nobody more sympathetic in regard to the officers of the Mercantile Marine than to myself. The hon. and gallant Member spoke of the two-watch system, and urged that that

105was a wrong condition on board ship. I think on the whole ft is undesirable, and I should say that it is now only adopted in small ships. But in any case it is not a matter for the Board of Trade, who have no legislative powers in the matter of watches. They have only to do with matters affecting the safety of the ship. The question of watches is entirely a matter for the men to arrange themselves with the shipowners, and I am informed that the two-watch system is only adopted to a very small degree in our British ships. With regard to the superannuation scheme for officers, that again is a matter for the men themselves. There are no Government funds in connection with it. It would be impossible to establish a superannuation scheme for one particular class of employés in one branch of industry. If you established a superannuation scheme for Mercantile Marine officers, why not do the same for firemen and stewards, and why not help any other class of workers in any other industry in this way?

408″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: They have it already under the present Government scheme. There are several Government schemes for pensions, but the officers have not got anything. They are exempt.

409″>Sir B. CHADWICK: I think they are only included in special schemes arising out of the War, but this would be quite a different matter. This would be purely a scheme arising out of the conditions of an industry, and it would seem to me to open the door to every branch of industry coming to the Government with the same claim. The hon. and gallant Gentleman raised the question of oil in navigable waters. That is a matter which in its effect on the birds, to which he referred, is quite as serious as he stated, but in the aggregate, in its effect on our coasts, I do not think it is quite as serious as he made out, and I do not think examination discovers the danger or the damage that he seems to suppose.
However, in August, 1924, the Board of Trade circulated a questionnaire to a number of local authorities, chambers of commerce, harbour authorities, coastguards, &c, to discover the extent of the pollution of the coast, and whether it had increased or decreased. The

106information collected seemed to indicate that the Act of 1922 had undoubtedly had a good effect, but it still seemed doubtful whether the nuisance could be kept within reasonable bounds within territorial waters, and it was obvious that, if action was to be taken to regulate the discharge of oil outside territorial waters, such measures could only be effected by international action. The hon. and gallant Gentleman’s main point was that the Board of Trade should be alive to-day and equipped to take whatever part they were called upon to take in discussions at Washington, and on that point he may rest assured we shall be fully prepared.

410″>Mr. ALEXANDER: Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether they have got any further with the inquiries as to suitable appliances for separating oil from water when the oil is discharged?

411″>Sir B. CHADWICK: I have not personal knowledge of that. I do know that experiments are being made all the time with various types of machines, but how far they have got I do not know. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull then spoke of the employment of aliens, and he recommended that the Board of Trade should consult shipowners on this matter. There, again, I think he is rather exaggerating the employment of foreign seamen on British ships. Obviously, one would like to see the number and percentage of Britishers employed in the mercantile marine increased, but we must remember the number of our ships employed almost entirely in inter-foreign trade, and it is not unreasonable that a certain number of foreigners should be employed on such ships.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the other day at Question Time rather put the ship on the same footing as the. British factory. It is a totally different problem. You cannot apply the same conditions in restricting foreign labour to a ship as you can to a factory. This whole question was very fully considered by Parliament immediately after the War, and the Act of 1919, I think, required that the masters, chief officers and chief engineers of British ships should be British subjects unless the ships were trading abroad. In the case of the remainder of the crew, the only requirement was that they should be paid the standard wages, and there is

107also the requirement with regard to the language test.
I have not the figures, but let me state that the percentage of foreigners in British ships has been steadily reduced in the last 25 years. In 1901, it was 16 per cent; in 1911, it was 12·7 per cent., and in 1921, 7 per cent. That is the latest year for which I have the figures. After all, when one contemplates the British Mercantile Marine and its world-wide activities, that is not a very large percentage, and those activities are largely in foreign countries under conditions which necessitate the carrying of foreign crews, if only for the sake of the language they speak. A great many of necessity carry stewards, quartermasters, and so forth, who can speak the language of the foreign passengers carried in our ships, so that 7 per cent. does not seem a very large percentage. I am sure that to make any representations to shipowners that they should try to reduce the number of foreigners is quite unnecessary, and I do not think it would have any effect.
The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) spoke of the Lascar Fund. The Lascar Fund has nothing to do with this Vote; I think it is administered by the Ministry of Health. As to Reparations, that, again, comes under another Vote. Lighthouses in British occupation are rather a complicated subject. There are three lighthouses in the Red Sea which came under the administration of the Board of Trade when Turkey came into the War. The whole point is this: The French Ottoman Lighthouse Concessionaire, who built these lighthouses on behalf of the Turkish Government, has been anxious, as far as I understand, that the Turkish Government should have them back, but no arrangement has ever been made, and the British Government have remained responsible for these lighthouses, which are very important to British shipping. The shipowners of this country have been consulted, and it has been suggested—I do not know by whom, but by someone who does not know shipowners as well as I know them—that these should be made a charge on the General Lighthouse Fund, and the shipowners refuse flatly to have anything to do with that. Ultimately, as it is an international matter, it will have to be settled, I think, under the

108Treaty of Lausanne. That is the explanation why this charge for these lighthouses falls on the British Government at the present time, and it appears to be nearing a conclusion.

412″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I do not propose to press the reduction, but I must say one word to clear up a misconception as to the employment of foreign seamen on British ships. The hon. Member says the figure was 7 per cent., but I have figures from his own return showing over 30,000, some of whom were Asiatic, who are practically British subjects it is true, but 30,000 foreigners actually registered at British Marine offices, although that leaves out altogether those employed on certain routes where the ships do not touch at British ports. I was careful to say that I would not have pressed the matter under ordinary circumstances, but the point was that 30,000 of these men signed on in the marine offices in this country. That is the point. It is no use the hon. Gentleman talking about seven per cent., and I really think he might see whether he could not make representations to the shipping companies to do a little more to employ these men.

413″>Sir B. CHADWICK: I am not surprised at the hon. and gallant Gentleman putting the matter forward in the way he has done. He has put it quite clearly. I will look into it. I will see how far the hon. and gallant Gentleman—I will not say how far he is correct—because I am sure he is correct—but how far I agree with the deduction he draws from the figures.

414″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I should like to point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that the figures I have given were supplied to me on the 16th February, 1926. That is the date of the written answer which contained the figures which I hold in my hand. They are from the Board of Trade itself. I hope the hon. Gentleman will look into this matter. In view of what he has said, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

415″>Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

416″>Original Question again proposed.

417″>Mr. ALEXANDER: I should like to put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that my hon. Friends and myself would like that this Vote should stand over for the time being so that there may be a further,

109opportunity of raising matters we should like to raise.

418″>Sir B. CHADWICK: That is a matter which should have been arranged through the usual channels, and I find it difficult on my own responsibility to accede to the request.

419″>Mr. ALEXANDER: Well I really must put it to the Parliamentary Secretary. I think there can be no possible objection to doing now what has been done again and again, and what has been done in relation to a previous vote to-night. The Debate can be postponed till another day, and leave questions open for the time being.

420″>Sir B. CHADWICK: My hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Viscount

110Curzon) tells me that there is no objection to this.

421″>Motion made, and Question, “That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,” put, and agreed to.—[Sir B. Chadwick.]

422″>Committee report Progress; to sit-again To-morrow.

423″>The remaining Orders were read and postponed.

424″>Resolved, “That this House do adjourn.”—[Captain Viscount Curzon.]425″>Adjourned accordingly at Eighteen Minutes before Nine o’Clock.

 

111

Tuesday, 18th May, 1926.
426″>The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

 

427″>Helensburgh Gas Order Confirmation Bill [Lords],428″>Considered; to be read the Third time To-morrow.

 

429″>2. Captain FOXCROFT asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the work performed by the independent omnibuses during the general strike, he can see his way to rescind or amend the Order restraining their appearance upon the London streets?430″>3. Colonel APPLIN asked the Minister of Transport whether he will allow all privately-owned omnibuses which are efficient, and which continued to run during the strike, to remain on their respective routes where they have replaced London General omnibuses which had ceased to operate?431″>5. Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Minister of Transport whether he has received a resolution from the Acton Borough Council with reference to the service of the independent omnibuses during the recent general strike; and whether he can see his way to recommending that the terms of the resolution be duly considered?

432″>The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): I fully appreciate the services which the independent omnibus proprietors and their employés have rendered to the public during the recent crisis, but it must not be overlooked that the larger undertakings, by the speedy

112reorganisation of services, also contributed to the provision of transport facilities for the public of Greater London. I am, however, asking the London Traffic Advisory Committee to consider the various suggestions made by my hon. Friends, and to advise me generally thereon.

433″>Mr. T. WILLIAMS: Is this intended as the first attack upon trade unions?

434″>Colonel ASHLEY: It has nothing at all to do with trade unions; it has to do with London traffic.

435″>Mr. WILLIAMS: Blacklegs!

436″>Mr. R. MORRISON: Will the suggestions referred to the Traffic Advisory Committee include the finding of alternative routes further out for these vehicles?

437″>Colonel ASHLEY: The hon. Gentleman will see what are the suggestions if he will look at Questions 2, 3 and 5 on the Order Paper.

438″>6. Mr. R. MORRISON asked the Minister of Transport how many railway accidents took place between 4th and 14th May and the number of persons killed and injured as a result of same?439″>Colonel ASHLEY: The railway companies have reported the occurrence of six accidents to trains between the dates mentioned, as a result of which four persons are reported to have been killed and 35 injured.440″>Mr. MORRISON: May I ask whether the usual public inquiries will be held into these cases?

441″>Colonel ASHLEY: I am asking the inspectors to hold the usual inquiries, and, as regards one, he has so far sent in a preliminary report that it was caused by a malicious interference with the rails.

442″>Major Sir GRANVILLE WHELER: Can the right hon. Gentleman give any information about the recent damage to the Scotch express?

443″>Colonel ASHLEY: That is one of the cases now being investigated, but I am awaiting a fuller report by the official whom I sent down to investigate.

113
444″>9. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can yet state the cost of publishing the Government newspaper known as the “British Gazette”; what amounts have been received from sales and advertisements, if any; and what compensation is to be paid to the “Morning Post” newspaper?445″>The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill): The general terms of the agreement between the Government and the proprietors of the “Morning Post” were stated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney (Captain Garro-Jones) yesterday. With regard to the cost of publishing the “British Gazette,” full information is not yet available. According to the approximate figures already in my possession, it would appear that the gross cost was in the neighbourhood of £22,000. Against this, if every copy issued had been paid for, there would be receipts of nearly the same amount. The methods of distribution were, however, naturally in an early stage of improvisation. The Civil Commissioners were urged to make such distributions as they might think necessary for the purpose of informing the public and allaying rumours or alarm. We do not yet know to what extent free issues were made. In consequence, it would be prudent to write the estimated receipts down to £14,000. There may also be a few contingent expenses not yet returned. Speaking generally, it would, I believe, be safe to say that the total net cost will not exceed £10,000, which is, to my mind, a surprisingly small charge, considering the difficulties which had to be overcome and the very short period for which the publication was issued. Had the general strike lasted for another three days, there was every reason to expect an actual profit. Still, it was no doubt better that it should have ended when it did.

446″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: I am very glad to have the right hon. Gentleman’s opinion. Might I ask him to answer the part of the question to which he has not replied, about advertisements? Certain advertisements appeared in the paper. Were they paid for?

114447″>Mr. CHURCHILL: No, Sir. We decided not to accept any advertisements, but I think I know what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has in his mind. I authorised an announcement being included in the last issue of the paper to the effect that, as the “Morning Post” had not been able to publish during the whole period of the strike, it would resume publication at an early date, and for that I take full responsibility.

448″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: May I ask how these losses compare with the monthly losses incurred in normal times by the “Daily Herald,” which are paid for by the trade unions?

449″>Mr. MACKINDER: May I ask what was the salary of the editor, and whether that will be met out of the Supplementary Estimate?

450″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Editor of the “Morning Post”—

451”>Mr. MACKINDER: No, the editor of the “British Gazette.”

452″>Mr. CHURCHILL:—or to any function exercised by anyone else in an honorary capacity. The “Morning Post” editorial staff placed itself at the disposal of the Government, and no fresh arrangements were made in their case.

453″>Mr. T. WILLIAMS: Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman’s reply that the Coalowners’ Association have made no payment whatsoever for the column reviewing the coal situation in the last issue?

454″>Sir H. BRITTAIN: Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, may I ask if the middle of a General Strike is the time to boggle about sales and advertisements?

455″>Mr. CHURCHILL: That column, which I saw myself before it was inserted, consisted exclusively of extracts from the Report of the Coal Commission. No payments were made on account of it from any quarter.

456″>Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: Has the right hon. Gentleman invited those persons who had free copies of this paper thrust into their letter-boxes, including my own, to send any payment? I am quite prepared to send payment if I know to whom it should be sent.

 

115457″>Mr. CHURCHILL: We shall be glad to receive from the hon, and gallant Gentleman the payment which he thinks it is his duty to make. I trust he benefited by reading the “British Gazette.”

458″>Colonel DAY: Do the figures include the cost of distribution and circulation?

459″>Mr. CHURCHILL: Yes, Sir.

460″>Miss WILKINSON (by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that, in spite of the appeal of the Prime Minister, the Wholesale Newsagents’ Federation still refuse to meet the representatives of the unions in dispute, and that as a result over 2,500 are still out and the distribution of newspapers is impeded?461″>The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Betterton): I am informed that the Wholesale Newsagents’ Federation have now met a representative of the Printing and Kindred Trades’ Federation and have explained their position to him. I have no information that the distribution of newspapers has at present been seriously impeded.462″>Mr. BECKETT: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the terms are such that only a proportion of the men out, and those selected by the employers without any regard to seniority or service, are offered to be reinstated, and does he not feel that this is a case where mediation could suitably be undertaken?

463″>Mr. BETTERTON: No, Sir; I have no knowledge one way or the other as to what are the terms. I have no information.

464″>Mr. BECKETT: If the hon. Gentleman has no knowledge of these serious facts which are involving thousands of London men, can he not make it his business to get into touch with both parties, and find out for himself whether these actions are in accordance with the spirit which the Prime Minister wished to be observed?

465″>Sir WILLIAM DAVISON: Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that the society in question is the society which prevented hundreds of small newsvendors from getting their papers some months ago, simply because they were in sympathetic strike with the booksellers?

116466″>Mr. BECKETT: Before the hon. Gentleman answers that, may I tell him—[HON. MEMBERS: “No!”] May I ask him, then, if he is aware that that Society of Small Retail Newsagents has refused to distribute papers until these men get their rights?

467″>Mr. BETTERTON: I do not know that that supplementary question arises out of the original question. In regard to the other question put by the hon. Member, I am not at present prepared to reply, in view of the fact that the Wholesale Newsagents’ Federation is now meeting the representative of the printing trades.

468″>Mr. BECKETT: If I may be permitted to put—

469″>Mr. SPEAKER: We had better have the next question.

470″>Sir JOHN PENNEFATHER (by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that unemployment benefit has been refused in Liverpool to a number of victims of the general strike who, because of it, were prevented from working, although anxious to do so, and will he instruct the Liverpool and district Employment Exchanges by telegraph how to deal with such cases?471″>Mr. BETTERTON: I have only just received notice of this question, and have, therefore, not been able to make inquiries. I will, however, do so. Meanwhile, I may say that the Exchanges have already received instructions, the general effect of which is that those who withdrew their labour are disqualified for benefit, on the ground that they left their employment voluntarily without just cause, while those who lost their employment involuntarily are not so disqualified.472″>Mr. PALING: In view of the fact that as late as last Friday and Saturday thousands of these people were told that they could not have this pay, and in view of the recent decision, what steps will be taken to give the people information that they may make a second application for it?

473″>Mr. BETTERTON: The necessary steps, as far as the Ministry is concerned, have been taken and the instructions to which I have just referred have been sent forward to the officials of the Employment Exchanges. I may add that in any

117case where the applicant is dissatisfied he has a statutory right laid down by Act of Parliament to appeal from the Court of Referees to the Umpire.

474″>Sir J. PENNEFATHER: Have the instructions been sent by telegram or by telephone?

475″>Mr. BETTERTON: No, Sir, they were sent by post in the usual way.

476″>Mr. H. WILLIAMS: When?

477″>Mr. BETTERTON: I think about two days ago. I am not quite certain as to the time.

478″>7. Colonel DAY asked the Postmaster-General if his attention has been drawn to the expressed desire of the skippers of the Yarmouth and Lowestoft fishing smacks, urging that the British Broadcasting Company give aid by broadcasting the daily state of the markets at the large ports, the catches landed, and the area where the fish has been caught; and, in view of the importance of such fishermen being able to locate herring shoals, if he will take such steps that will result in the industry being assisted in the required direction?479″>The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE and FISHERIES (Mr. Guinness): I have been asked to reply. No application has been received either from the smacksmen or from the herring fishermen for information of this kind to be broadcast. Before the English herring season commences in the autumn, I will make inquiries as to whether such a service could usefully be instituted, but as far as my present information goes, the number of fishing vessels equipped with receiving sets remains small.480″>Colonel DAY: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the French Government give this assistance by the aid of a dirigible balloon, and will he consider that as well?

481″>Sir FRANK MEYER: Has the right hon. Gentleman received any information from Yarmouth that the fishing industry desires to take lessons from the French as to how to run their industry?

118
482″>8. Colonel DAY asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the number of bungalows being erected by speculative builders in the area of the Thames Valley that is subject to severe flooding during wet weather; and, in view of the danger to the health of the inmates, if he will consider the advisability of power being vested in local authorities to prohibit the erection of such dwellings in unsuitable places?483″>The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain): My attention has been drawn to this matter. Local authorities already have power, under the Town Planning Acts, to prohibit building in unsuitable areas, and they can also make by-laws requiring the foundations of new buildings to be of a specified height.

484″>10. Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state what question of Government responsibility is causing the Treasury to delay agreeing to terms of remit for submission to the Civil Service Arbitration Court of the case for a cessation of the super-cut of the cost-of-living bonus now imposed upon civil servants in receipt of over £500 a year?485″>Mr. CHURCHILL: No, Sir. I cannot for the moment add anything to the replies which I have already given to the hon. and learned Member on this subject.
486″>Mr. BASIL PETO (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the demands made upon the Regular Army during the recent emergency, it is proposed to cancel or curtail higher training, both Brigade and Divisional, during the coming training season, and whether also from motives of economy this will receive the consideration of the Army Council?487″>The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans): Owing to the dislocation of the training programme, it will be necessary to limit the training to training within the areas of Commands.

 

119 

488″>Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD: May I ask the Prime Minister if He can make any statement as to the Whitsuntide Recess; and whether he can announce the business for Thursday, of this week, and also what business it is proposed to take on the resumption of our sittings?489″>The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin): I hope that it will be possible for the House to adjourn for the Whitsuntide Recess on Thursday next until Tuesday, 1st June.
To-morrow, Wednesday, we shall commence the Debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, and it has been arranged through the usual channels that this Debate shall be resumed on Thursday this week, and the Division taken not later than 3 o’clock. After that business has been disposed of, the Adjournment of the House will be moved, and, until 6 o’clock, Members will be able to raise questions in which they are interested.
The House will meet on Thursday at 11 o’clock, and Questions will be taken until 12 o’clock.
After 11 o’clock to-night we propose to take Orders No. 3—Merchandise Marks (Imported Goods) (Expenses), Report—and No. 4—Electricity (Supply) (Money), Report.
I will make a statement on Thursday as to the business which we propose to take during the first week we resume, but probably the first will be a Supply day.490″>Mr. B. PETO: Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been called to the fact that the 2nd June is Derby Day?

491″>The PRIME MINISTER: I have been considering that, and also the beginning of August.

492″>Reported, with Amendments, from Standing Committee B.493″>Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.494″>Minutes of the Proceedings of the Standing Committee to be printed.

495″>Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be taken into consideration upon Thursday, and to be printed. [Bill 116.]

120
496″>That they have agreed to,497″>Amendments to—

498″>Birkenhead Corporation Bill [Lords], without Amendment.

499″>That they have passed a Bill, intituled, “An Act to empower the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the city of Worcester to provide and work tramways, light railways, trolley vehicles, and omnibuses; to make further provision with regard to the improvement of the city; and for other purposes.’ [Worcester Corporation Bill [Lords.]

500″>Read the First time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
501″>Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON reported from the Chairmen’s Panel: That they had appointed Mr. Morgan Jones to act as Chairman of Standing Committee B (in respect of the Secretaries of State Bill), Mr. Samuel Roberts (in respect of the Markets and Fairs (Weighing of Cattle) Bill [Lords] and the Land Drainage Bill [Lords]), and Mr. Ellis Davies (in respect of the Unemployment Insurance Bill); and that they had appointed Major Sir Richard Barnett to act as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills (in respect of the Burgh Registers (Scotland) Bill and the Execution of Diligence (Scotland) Bill [Lords]).
502″>Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Ilfracombe) Bill,503″>Reported, without Amendment [Provisional Order confirmed]; Report to lie upon the Table.504″>Bill to be read the Third time Tomorrow.

505″>Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill,

506″>Reported, with Amendments [Provisional Orders confirmed]; Report to lie upon the Table.

507″>Bill, as amended, to be considered To-morrow.

 

121508″>Teignmouth and Shaldon Bridge Bill,

509″>Darwen Corporation Bill [Lords],

510″>Southern Railway Bill,

511″>Shoreham Harbour Bill,

512″>Reported, with Amendments; Reports to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.

513″>Messrs. Hoare Trustees Bill [Lords],

514″>Reported, with Amendments; Report to lie upon the Table.

515″>Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON reported from the Committee of Selection, That they had added the following Member to Standing Committee B: Lieut.-Colonel Heneage.516″>Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON further reported from the Committee; That they had added the following fifteen Members to Standing Committee B (in respect of the Secretaries of State Bill): Mr. William Adamson, the Lord Advocate, Sir Samuel Chapman, Mr. Couper, Mr. Cowan, Sir Henry Craik, Earl of Dalkeith, Sir Harry Hope, Major MacAndrew, Mr. Neil Maclean, Mr. McNeill, Mr. Robert Smith, Mr. Stephen, Colonel Thom, and Mr. Wright.517″>Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON further reported from the Committee; That they had added the following Fifteen Members to Standing Committee B (in respect of the Markets and Fairs (Weighing of Cattle) Bill [Lords] and the Land Drainage Bill [Lords]: Mr. Blundell, Major Braithwaite Captain Briscoe, Mr. Buxton, Sir Henry Cautley, Mr. Dean, Mr. Duckworth, Mr. Guinness, Mr. Hurd, Mr. Hugh Morrison, Mr. Shepperson, Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart, Mr. Taylor, Mr. M’Lean Watson, and Mr. Windsor.

518″>MR. WILLIAM NICHOLSON further reported from the Committee; That they had added the following Fifteen Members to Standing Committee B (in respect of the Unemployment Insurance Bill); Mr. Albery, Mr. John Baker, Mr. Batey, Mr. Betterton, Sir Warden Chilcott, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Robert Hudson, Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy, Colonel Perkins, Lieut.-Colonel Pownall, Mr. Thomas Shaw, Major Oliver Stanley, Sir Arthur

122Steel-Maitland, Major Tasker, and Major Sir Granville Wheler.

519″>Mr. WILLIAM NICHOLSON further reported from the Committee; That they had added the following Fifteen Members to the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills (in respect of the Burgh Registers (Scotland) Bill, the Execution of Diligence (Scotland) Bill [Lords], and the Criminal Appeal (Scotland) Bill [Lords]): the Lord Advocate, Lord Balniel, Captain Bourne, Major Crawfurd, Major George Davies, Lord Fermoy, Mr. Groves, Captain D’Arcy Hall, Mr. Harmsworth, Lieut.-Colonel James, Mr. W. C. Robinson, Mr. Rennie Smith, Mr. Stamford, Major Steel, and Mr. Charles Williams.520″>Reports to lie upon the Table.

 

521″>Mr. T. THOMSON asked the Minister of Transport the number of persons employed on road schemes assisted by the Minister of Transport for the relief of unemployment at the present time and a, year ago, respectively?522″>Mr. BETTERTON: I have been asked to reply. At 27th March, 1926, there were 19,721 persons engaged on road schemes assisted by the Ministry of Transport, as compared with 18,197 at 28th March, 1925. The figures take no account of the employment provided indirectly in the preparation and transport of materials, etc.

 

 

523″>Mr. LIVINGSTONE asked the Secretary for Scotland how many new schemes for settling ex-service men on the land in Scotland are on hand in the Board of Agriculture, and how many men it is expected will be settled on the areas in such schemes?524″>Sir J. GILMOUR: The number of land settlement schemes, which the Board of Agriculture for Scotland are developing or to which they are committed, is 32. Under these schemes 133 new holdings and 85 enlargements of existing holdings will be formed. In addition, the Board

123have in contemplation 12 schemes, which, if put into operation, would provide about 113 new holdings and 167 enlargements. It is not possible at this stage to say how many of the applicants who may be settled will be ex-service men.

 

 

525″>Sir B. FALLE asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether a decision has yet been reached regarding the independent appeal tribunal for officers and men invalided from the Service?526″>Mr. BRIDGEMAN: Very careful consideration has been given to this matter. My hon. and gallant Friend is of course aware that the establishment of tribunals to deal with cases arising during the War was an innovation, but it was no doubt justified by the extraordinary conditions of the time, namely, the conscription of the majority of the adult male population, the arduous conditions of War service and the difficult and complex medical questions involved. Under post-War conditions the same necessity does not, however, exist.

527″>Under existing conditions the service medical history of every man is well known from the date of entry onwards throughout his career. The duties expected of him and the conditions under which they are performed are well known to the medical officers of the Service, and I cannot admit that any outside tribunal or referee is more competent to determine whether a man is physically fit for retention in the Service or not, and whether a disease is attributable to the Service or not than they are. The decisions of local surveying officers are always subject to review by the medical authorities of the Admiralty, and any officer or man who is aggrieved by the decision in his case can appeal to the Board of Admiralty with the result that his case is thoroughly investigated again. I feel sure that on reflection my hon. and gallant Friend will agree that it would be quite impracticable to remit the question whether an officer or man is fit for retention in a fighting force to any authority outside the Department, and, as to the other issue, he cannot fail to recognise that the surveying medical officers are independent and unprejudiced judges who cannot have any

124personal interest whatever in the matter to prevent them from giving each case the most sympathetic consideration possible.

528″>I am, therefore, convinced that there is no justification for establishing a general right of appeal beyond the Board of Admiralty in these cases, and though I undertook to consider the possibility of making exceptions to the general rule in special cases, I find it impossible after full consideration to support any such proposal. Satisfied as I am that a general right of appeal is unnecessary, I have come to the conclusion that to single out any one or more diseases as affording grounds for exceptional treatment could have no other result but to create a sense of grievance among those who were invalided for other diseases or injuries.

529″>I have consulted my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air, and they fully endorse the conclusions I have reached and I regret, therefore, that I cannot recommend any departure from the present rule that the decisions of the Board of Admiralty must be final.

 

530″>Colonel DAY asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if any troops were engaged in the operation of the trains in Great Britain between 1st and 14th May, 1926; and, if so, the numbers so employed and in what capacity they were so engaged;531″>(2) the number of armoured cars and tanks that were drafted into the Metropolitan area between 3rd and 13th May, 1926;

532″>(3) the number of troops that were employed at the Port of London Authority between 2nd and 14th May for any purpose; the regiments from which they were drawn; and on what duties they were engaged?

533″>Sir L. WORTH INGTONEVANS: I do not see that any public interest would be served by disclosing the details of troop movements during the emergency. I feel sure, however, that this House is grateful to the Army for the efficient and good-tempered manner in which they performed their duties.

 

 

125 

534″ [9TH ALLOTTED DAY.]535″>Considered in Committee.536″ [Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]

537″>Motion made, and Question proposed,
“That a sum, not exceeding £536,100, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for Relief arising out of Unemployment.”—[Note: £610,000 has been voted on account.]538″>Mr. LANSBURY: The discussions of last week on this matter were full of sympathy, but some of us went away just as unsatisfied as we have gone away from every previous Debate during the last three or four years. What was the position taken up by the predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman and the Minister before that? It is that each succeeding Minister of Health, and each succeeding Chancellor of the Exchequer, has apparently laid it down that these necessitous areas and the question of dealing with unemployed were a matter between the Ministry of Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Committees. Apparently now the policy, until this House orders otherwise, is the settled one that the Government are to cast the burden on to the local authority. It is true that most of us who raise this question do so in the interests of our own Divisions, but I suppose no one will suggest that that is anything against the principle, that we put forward. We would not be very worthy representatives of places like Poplar or Middlesbrough if we did not persistently force on the attention of the House the condition in which our people are placed by the burdens cast upon them. It is no answer to say—at least, I do not think it is, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health would have considered it any answer when he was agitating this question himself—that because126somebody else had not done something, therefore we ought not to grumble because the present Minister is doing nothing. He has been in his present office a pretty considerable time now, and I think he will agree that during that period the burden on the Poor Law authorities has certainly increased; and I think he will also agree that a very large amount of that increase is due to the policy of the Government of which he is a member. I need not restate the facts I have put before the Committee in regard to that policy, but I would like to make it clear that it is not so easy to get rid of this question by a mere statement, as the right hon. Gentleman appears to think it is. He seemed to me to treat the fact that the number of persons chargeable to the Poor Law had increased in quite a casual way. [Interruption.] I am dealing with the number of persons in receipt of domiciliary relief on certain dates, and I say that number has increased, and I will give the figures in a moment from the returns of the Government.
An hon. Member opposite, representing, I think, one of the Yorkshire Divisions, says that in his opinion the policy of the present Government has not increased the number of able-bodied persons seeking relief; and, therefore, I would like the Minister to give us his explanation of the increase. Take the figures for London, which are the only ones I have available, for the dates, Saturday, 31st October, 1925, and Saturday, 1st November, 1924. They are the latest figures we have been able to get. Comparing those figures hon. Members will find that in the Western district of London the increase is about 2,000; in the North district the increase is again about 2,000; in the Central district it is about 11,000; in the Eastern district it is about 14,000; and in the Southern district it is about 16,000. Those figures are derived from a comparison of the numbers relieved by the Poor Law guardians in November, 1924, and October, 1925.

539″>Mr. LUKE THOMPSON: What are the numbers due to unemployment?

540″>Mr. LANSBURY: If the hon. Member will have patience I will come to that in a moment. It is perfectly true that these are not all able-bodied men, but a proportion of them most certainly are; I

127think I shall be able to prove that from the figures of one union. It is rather difficult to get the figures for the whole country analysed, but one can occasionally get them for one particular union, and we in Poplar, which is one of the unions concerned, are able to show that through the policy of the Ministry of Labour our figures have tended to go up during the whole of the last half-year ending 31st March—about that there cannot be any dispute whatever. Here are the numbers of persons disallowed benefit in particular weeks under the new legislation of the Minister of Labour; they are persons who, because of that legislation, have had to apply for relief. These are new cases: 5th September, 146 persons; 12th September, 93; 19th September, 84; 26th September, 102; 3rd October, 95; 10th October, 91; 17th October, 102; 24th October, 115; 31st October, 66; 7th November, 80; 14th November, 71; 21st November, 81. The average for the 12 weeks was 94. That is our experience in a London union, and I think we are entitled to say it would be the experience of all the industrial areas in the country.

541″>Mr. THOMPSON: May I ask whether those figures include men under 25, or whether they are married people?

542″>Mr. LANSBURY: Some of them are young people under 25—able-bodied men who have been disallowed benefit for one reason or the other by the Employment Exchanges.

543″>Mr. THOMPSON: Yes—for one reason or another.

544″>Mr. LANSBURY: We take a good deal of pains to find out why those people have been disallowed benefit, and I think if the Board are challenged they will be able to give the right hon. Gentleman the reasons in each individual case. Whatever our crimes at Poplar may be, we do try to find out all about each man who comes before us. The extraordinary thing is that these figures began to rise directly the Minister of Labour’s new Act came into operation. The figures I have just read out relate to men—not men, women and children, as I was giving before; and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will deny that we spent in the half-year ending 31st March £50,000 more than we

128budgeted for, owing to the fact that we had this large increase of men as a consequence of the new Regulations. I do not want to repeat all the things I said last time, but I must repeat that men and women are now disallowed benefit because they are persons who are not likely to obtain insurable employment, or for whom insurable employment is not available.

545″>Mr. THOMPSON: No, I think—

546″>Mr. LANSBURY: The hon. Member must have a little patience. He will not deny that the Regulations which have been laid down must apply to a consider able number of people, and that those would be refused unemployment benefit. The Minister of Labour never denies that. He says, “This is an insurance scheme, ad if the people are not likely to be engaged in an insurable occupation then they must go to the Poor Law.” We object to that; we say they ought not to be sent to the Poor Law—

547″>Mr. THOMPSON: That is the 1924 Act.

548″>Mr. LANSBURY: It is the 1925 Act which gives the Minister a great deal of discretion in these matters, and it has also lengthened the waiting period; and in our district that has made a very considerable difference. I know it may be argued that you can work figures how you please, but the cold, solid fact remains that, until this period, starting in September of last year, the figures were not rising, and they did rise afterwards. We say that that is due to the legislation of the Minister of Labour. In any case, however, supposing that I concede to the hon. Member and the Government that it is nothing to do with them, it is equally nothing to do with us. We have not produced the conditions that throw this large number of men upon our books. When the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) states, as he did the other day, that it is because of conditions in particular places, due to local maladministration, and so on, that there is unemployment in particular places, I am willing, although I know it is incorrect, to let him say that about us in the East End, but he cannot say that about Sheffield; he cannot say it about Middlesbrough.
That, therefore, is no answer to our case, and when the right hon. Gentleman says that the Committee which he set up

129was unable to accept any of the schemes that were put forward, I think he must answer the question which was raised that afternoon, just as we glanced at the end of the Report where the Committee say that, if it were thought that they were unduly hard on those who had put forward schemes, their conclusions were to some extent limited because of the limitations of the reference that was put to them; so that it is just possible that, with a wider reference, that Committee might have been able to give some better, or at least some more useful, lead and guidance on this subject than they were able to do with the reference upon which they made their inquiry. I want also to say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not think he got rid altogether of my argument about land settlement. When I said that I felt very angry with him and others because of the position into which the Hollesley Bay Colony had got, it probably was not right that I should have put the blame on him for bringing about the change, but he has now been responsible for it for 20 months, and he could change it if he would. When he said that it is exactly the same as it was in the early days, I am sure he was speaking without accurate knowledge of the subject.

549″>The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain): I said that it was the same as it was in the time of my predecessor.

550″>Mr. LANSBURY: I am never going to argue in defence of anything that any of my friends did with which I might happen to disagree, but you have to remember this about them, that they did not have the solid backing of a majority that meekly marches into the Lobby whenever they are told. The badge of sufferance was the badge of our tribe during those few months, and we could not expect even one with so agile a mind as my right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) to be able to work miracles; he had enough to do standing up to the right hon. Gentleman’s colleague, who did his best to obstruct and hinder every piece of decent work we were trying to do. [Interruption.] Nobody will deny that; I am sure the right hon. Gentleman himself will be the first to admit it. But the point is that this is a very serious matter, and

130although, as the right hon. Gentleman says, only about 300 men are at Hollesley Bay just now, his advisers should have told him that it would take 600 quite easily—we have had 650 there many a time. I know that, because for two or three years I was Chairman of the Committee, and I know how many men we could take.

551″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I think he has misundersttod the point of my observation. I did not suggest that the number was insignificant; what I did suggest was that the proportion of men who were found permanent jobs on the land was insignificant compared with the number of men who passed through the institution.

552″>Mr. LANSBURY: That is perfectly true, but the right hon. Gentleman also knows that one of his predecessors did not allow the scheme to operate, but just shut it down. If he will inquire from the Central Unemployed Body, he will find in the offices of that body a complete scheme for dealing with these young men and married men, and, even though it is true that only a few went through and on to the land, it is equally true that there were large numbers of others who in the judgment of the Committee of the Central Unemployed Body were quite fit, if places could have been found for them or if settlements could have been created for them, to take their places on the land. I want to say in passing that I am bitterly opposed to spending public money on emigration until our own land is developed, but, on the other hand, I have no objection to assisting any man who wants to go abroad so long as he goes where there is a decent chance of his obtaining proper employment, and Hollesley Bay most certainly did a very great deal on those lines. I should like to hear from the Minister responsible—I suppose it is the Minister of Labour, and perhaps I may be out of order, but it would be a good thing if this Committee could hear what proposals the Government have for dealing with these young and middle-aged men, either here or abroad. As I said at the beginning, we go on talking about them and saying what a serious thing it is, but practically nothing is being done.

131I want the right hon. Gentleman to get down to this question of the land. If he thinks it is so hopeless to try to put men on the land, I would ask him to inquire from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who is sitting next to him. We know that the Ministry of Labour set up a smaller experiment on lines similar to but better than those which are followed at Hollesley Bay, and if it be true, as was reported in the Press the other day, that that has been very successful, why should it be said that it is wrong to ask that those settlements should be multiplied in order to deal with a larger number of men? I personally do not believe that it is impossible or impracticable to train men first in the sort of institution that the Government themselves set up somewhere in Suffolk, and from there to pass them out on to other settlements which another set of unemployed men may have prepared for their reception. In this business of training men you have first of all to get the men that you think will be suitable for training, and, while training them, to find an outlet for them. I think the outlet should be, for instance, parcels of land on which other unemployed men are doing the rough work, and other skilled men are putting up the houses and buildings that are necessary, and I would put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether that is not exactly what has to be done in a colony. If you send men to a colony, exactly that sort of procedure has to be gone through. No one, I think, will say that England or Wales is overcrowded outside the towns, and no one, I think, will deny that our land is as good land as any that there is in the world.
What I am pleading for is that this land, of which there is less under cultivation now than there was at the end of the War, and the men who are idle, should be brought into connection the one with the other. I am asking that a portion of the money at present spent by local authorities and others for this purpose should stop, and that the Government should give a definite grant towards land development in this country. To those who think that the men from London or any other town are no use for this purpose, I want to point out that not only London but Glasgow and Edinburgh demonstrated before the

132War that this was a perfectly practical proposition. That it will cost money I do not deny, but it costs money at present to keep men idle, and the last state of the man is very often worse than the first. I hope the Minister of Health will give more attention to this subject because, whether we like it or not, or whether industry is going to run on in a peaceful manner or not, it is certain that we have not got through the period of unemployment and we have a large number of unemployed with us permanently.
Where this was done before the War it was successful and in the little tiny experiment which the Minister of Labour has put forward, and which he has taken the Prince of Wales down to see, it has been demonstrated what can be done with these young men. I am asking that it should be done on a much more extensive scale. The Prime Minister said the other night that he must keep his word, and that he was looked upon as an honourable man in the country. There have been other Prime Ministers who have made pledges. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made a great many pledges during the War as to what should be done for the men who fought when they came back. It is all very well for hon. Members to sneer and say that we are trying to make party capital out of this, but if you get rid of these grievances, then we shall not be able to make party capital out of them. I do not think many of us can be accused of making party capital out of this question, because at the end of the Boer War exactly the same thing happened as is happening now. I remember taking Mr. Gerald Balfour, when he was President of the Local Government Board, down to Laindon and Hollesley Bay, where we went through rows of men, one lot on a pauper colony and the other on the central unemployed colony, and the amazing thing was that 80 to 90 per cent. of them had served in the war, and all they had got at the end was that one lot were working under pauper conditions and the other on the central unemployed colony. None of them had been provided work as ordinary free citizens and the same thing is happening to-day.

133The right hon. Gentleman has told us to-day that he cannot supply us with a Return showing the number of ex-service men who are at present in receipt of Poor Law relief. I think he really ought to get that Return, because this House and the country ought to know the number of men and women who were connected with the War who had been forced to go to the Poor Law for relief. In the St. Pancras Union there are 15 between 31 and 41 years of age, 19 between 41 and 50 years of age, 40 between 51 to 60 and 51 between 61 to 70. Some of them fought in wars before the Great War, but I want to ask whether we really think this is the proper way to treat men whom you acclaimed as heroes during the War and whom you assured, certain during the last war, again and again, that things should never be as they had been.

553″>Captain FRASER: Has the hon. Member taken the trouble to ascertain how many of these cases are in St. Pancras Workhouse owing to disabilities arising out of the War?

554″>Mr. LANSBURY: If they are in the workhouse through disabilities arising out of the War, that is a still greater shame. Most of them are allowed to come out, so they are able to get about.

555″>Captain FRASER: I am sure, quite accidentally, the hon. Member has misunderstood my question. He has suggested that there is a large number of ex-service men in this workhouse. Has the hon. Member taken any trouble to ascertain the conditions which necessitated them going there, and whether they have anything to do with the War?

556″>Mr. LANSBURY: Certainly I have, and I am informed that all of them are there owing to the fact that they went to the War. Out of 148 of these men, 111 went out with passes, which means that they are able to get about. But whatever their state, the workhouse is not the proper place for men who were told when they went to fight for their King and country that they should be treated decently when they got back. I took the case of St. Pancras because I thought it might be said I was always quoting figures from my own district to the exclusion of others, but I will take my own parish. I am the Socialist and Pacifist Member for Bow and Bromley,

134and I believe that the overwhelming number of people who voted for me at the last Election are people whose sons, and even they themselves, went to the War or had something to do with it, and a good deal of the reason why they voted as they did and came over to my party is the abominable treatment they have received since they came back. We have 2,309 able-bodied men on relief in the Poplar Union who served in one way or another in the War. That is a disgrace to this House. I should like any hon. Member who thinks that can be defended to come to the constituency and defend it. Those men deserve something better of the community than to be sent to the tender mercies of the Poor Law, even to such a board of guardians as that in Poplar. But that is not the worst of it. Those men have 6,585 women and children dependent on them. That is a total of nearly 9,000 who ought, under any law of equity, to be outside the Poor Law, and when I ask the Minister of Labour what he is going to do about it he simply says there is an Unemployment Insurance Scheme and that is all the Government is able to do. I do not think that ought to be good enough for this House. I think something ought to be done to take these people outside the workhouse altogether.
I should like to say two or three words about another rather helpless set of men and women in our community. During the War the casual wards of our workhouses were practically emtpy except for the aged and sick. The prisons were very largely empty. That proves quite conclusively that men and women will go to useful occupations if given the chance, and these people really were improved out of existence, as it were. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that slowly but surely what is called the tramp population is coming back. I do not think the tramp, either man or woman, is necessarily a bad person, or one whom society should treat as an outcast. I look on them as the working class expression of that roving spirit which takes the well-to-do from one end of the earth to the other, sometimes tiger hunting, sometimes doing this, that and the other from one end of the globe right round. The regular tramp is very much the same sort of person. But everyone agrees that that population gets filled up in bad times by

135men and women who suffer from sheer misfortune. There was a saying in days gone by:
“From Hell, Hull and Halifax, good Lord deliver us,”
because the tramp, if he got to Hull or Halifax, had a pretty short shrift, and he gave both those towns a very wide berth. I am not going to try to argue that the conditions are anything like as brutal as they were in the old days, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is quite satisfied that the conditions in the casual wards have really been put on a better footing throughout the country. They largely went out of use during the war, and some districts have not yet got them back into a proper condition. I want to read to him what, not Frank Gray, but another visitor said when he went round to certain casual wards:
“The ward was crowded—about eight persons altogether I should think. Food was good—soup and bread and margarine in the evening, tea and bread and margarine in the morning. It is generally considered a good place, and the porters and tramps are all right, though one of the latter curses badly, and the bugs were terrible. I got mighty little sleep. They came out of the wall and the beetles were about the floor.”
If any of you had been in Australia with me in 1884, you would know what beetles and cockroaches are. I lived among them for about a month, and I got precious little sleep:
“The bugs bite like old Harry. I have never struck bugs before. They thoroughly alarmed me, and I carried out several murders. They suck your blood. In the end I rang the bell and asked for another cell, but all were full. I asked them to let me sleep in the bathroom. In the end, after taking off my shirt and cleaning it time and again I lay down and let them bite. Such is man’s adaptability—environment, I suppose.”
The right hon. Gentleman, I know, will not defend that. I believe the lady in Oldham who is taking this business up is trying to induce the central authority to make the local authorities do their duty by these men. Here in London we have more or less the cellular system of treating the tramp as a person who must be away from his fellows at night. He is put in a cell. I do not want to exaggerate, but I think I would rather be in a cell in Brixton Prison than in the up-to-date cells of the casual wards of the Metropolis. I think the prison cells are more comfortable.

136I will not repeat what I said about the right hon. Gentleman’s ancestry the other day, but he is credited with having a progressive mind. I suppose the present system of dealing with tramps is about 100 years old. I have been told we have improved the conditions, that is, we have made them in some places cleaner, and left them dirtier in others, but we still maintain a sort of semi-criminal atmosphere around the tramp, and I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman first of all whether he does not think the time has come, when the tramp should without question be allowed to go away the first thing in the morning, especially in London, and secondly whether on Sundays it would not be possible to let them go out, even with the casual wards as they are at present, and allow them to come back at night. The bulk of them are not a criminal class. Here again the House will be surprised to hear that the bulk of these men served in the Army at one time or another, and I think they deserve better treatment than that of semi-criminals, and they should have some other sort of treatment than that of the present casual ward system. I mean that instead of taking it for granted that a man who comes to this town sleeps here to-night and of necessity must be sent on somewhere else, there should be in each county some settlement to which these men could voluntarily go, where the younger of them might get some kind of training which would fit them for occupation on the land or wherever it could be found. In is a disgrace to our common humanity to leave them. It they are at the present time. I am not putting this as a charge against the right hon. Gentleman. I am putting it against our whole conception of what should be done with the tramp. A fair proportion of the tramps might want to continue their tramping, but there are large numbers who, if they were taken in hand when first they are driven on to the roads could be put on their feet and given a decent chance. If we could have a report of the work done at the shelter on the Embankment I am certain that they do rescue a number of people from being obliged merely to tramp along the roads from place to place.
The fundamental thing to remember is that, however we penalise the men and however brutal the treatment may be, even if it is the breaking of stones and

137the picking of oakum, which breaks their hearts in doing it when they are new-men, it does not solve the matter. When people are hungry they will do almost anything. We do not get rid of this evil by repression. That is the reason why I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give the question of the tramp some attention. I specially ask him to give attention to the question of land settlement for the younger men with whom we have to deal through the Poor Law and Employment Exchanges. In the City of Birmingham when Sir Oliver Lodge was there, a scheme was put forward, which was well reported upon, by means of which the huge mountains of slag and slack in the Midlands could have been afforested and, instead of being ugly eyesores, as they are to-day, they could have been made places of beauty and utility. The Committee and the House generally ought to get down to the fact that after we have talked to-night and after we talked last week, the answer we always get is that nothing can be done; nothing is practicable. It is time somebody found something practicable. It is not sufficient answer to me this afternoon to prove that I am wrong. The Government have to prove that they are right. It is not right to leave masses of men in the condition in which they find themselves to-day.

557″>Mr. LLOYD GEORGE: I should like to say a few words to endorse what has fallen from the hon. Member in respect of his plea that a greater effort should be made in the training of some of the unemployed, especially the younger men, for land settlement. Before I come to that point I must say a few words regarding what fell from him on the question of pledges to those who were recruited in the War. Pledges were undoubtedly given of a very specific and attractive character at the time when there was voluntary enlistment. He was good enough to say that when I was Prime Minister voluntary enlistment had passed and recruitment for the Services was compulsory. I was, however, a Minister during the time of voluntary enlistment, and I am not repudiating any responsibility. If there are hundreds of ex-service men in the workhouses, from whatever cause, it would be worth while having a special investigation into the matter, because of the prejudice which is involved in the fact that there are men

138who served their country in time of danger who have had this humilation inflicted upon them.
In saying this I would remind my hon. Friend—I know that his sense of justice would make him feel it—that there is another side to the question. There never has been a war in which we were engaged where such ample provision has been made for those who were disabled and for the widows and orphans of those who fell in battle. I do not like to say that the provision was on as generous or adequate scale, but it is the largest that has ever been made in the history of this country, and the largest made by any belligerent country in Europe.
I had to go through the pensions when we were considering the question of the compensation to be paid by the Germans, and I found that the scale of pensions paid by other countries, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy were not comparable to the scale of pensions which we made for the widows and dependants of the fallen and for those who were disabled. It made a very heavy charge upon the taxes of this country, but nobody has grudged it in my hearing. On the contrary, the pressure from the House of Commons has been towards giving more generous treatment, and all parties have vied with each other in urging Governments and Ministers of Pensions to do more to include within the benevolence of the State men who by some accident had been excluded. I have never heard a word of complaint from anybody. If there are hundreds of ex-service men who are in the workhouse, it should be known that provision has been made for hundreds of thousands, and I am not sure that it does not run into millions. It is fair that that should be stated, otherwise it might be felt that we had forgotten the great services and sacrifice made by these people and the readiness with which they faced death on behalf of their King and Country in the hour of danger. We have not done so. It is not a reproach that can be levelled against any Government or any party and certainly not against the taxpayers of this country. I thought it right as one who was a Member of one Government or another during the whole of that period that I should say that.

139There is another pledge—I am not sure whether it was given by me or by my predecessor; but it does not matter, it was given on behalf of the country—that we would do our best to settle ex-service men on the land. I forget the actual figure that was voted, but it was the largest Vote ever given by this House for settling ex-service men on the land. I think it was £18,000,000. No such figure had ever before been voted by the House of Commons or by any other assembly for the purpose of settling ex-service men upon the land. There are difficulties and they are not new difficulties. They existed during the time of the old wars of Rome. Anyone who has read the very fascinating accounts of the conflicts of Sulla, Marius and Cæsar will remember that in the course of every war there was a promise given to settle the soldiers upon the land when the war was over; but there were always practical difficulties when the war was over. It was not that those who gave the pledge were breaking faith with their soldiers and were forgetting the great service they rendered, but they did not know where to get the land, and time after time failure was reported. Hon. Members may remember that the problem was only settled when that astute man, not a warrior but a statesman, Augustus, came to the throne and was able to settle all these claims. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) will be the Augustus who will discharge all these obligations. It is a very difficult thing to deal with, and the difficulty is that you have to deal with the whole system.
4.0 P.M.
Unless you deal with the whole of the land system, you will not be able to settle the problem, because, so long as the existing system lasts, you will not be able to find the land. The other difficulty, of course, was that immediately after the War the cost of building was three times what it was before the War. Therefore, in putting up the homesteads and farm buildings you had to pay something which was far beyond what could be converted into an economic rent, and the money in a very short time was liquidated, although it ran to a figure of £18,000,000. Things are better now. The cost of building is considerably less. I am not at all sure

140that it is not about half what it was in the days immediately after the War. Therefore, the problem is a very much easier one, and more within the compass of economic adjustment than it was then.
Having said so much, I would urge the appeal made by my hon. Friend to the Minister of Health—that some real effort should be made to train young people for the land. It may be said that it is too late to turn the man who is 40 or 50 on to cultivating the soil and that in his case it is a hopeless task, but one of the most distressing features of the present unemployment is the vast number of young people who are on the unemployment register. In the old days, when there was unemployment, employers of labour got rid of the least efficient. They put them off for the moment, and kept the most vigorous and the more energetic in order to preserve such business as they had. But now there is no choice. Another feature is this. Here you have from 150,000 to 200,000 young men coming every year on to the labour market straight from the schools, and there is no work for them. They can only find work by excluding people who are already in a job. Those are people whom you could at the present moment train for the purposes of the land.
It is a mistake to imagine that a man who has not been on the land is not able to cultivate. When I was on the prairie in Canada, I met a man from Birmingham who was a pure artisan. He had a most prosperous homestead. He had just got his harvest home. He had been there for years, and he was very happy. He was an artisan, and he and his family were putting the whole of their strength into it and they were extraordinarily happy and successful. Another man I met there was a policeman from Derby, who also had never been on the land before. He had a section of about 160 acres. He was unable at once to cultivate the whole of it, but the first year he cultivated 40 acres, the next year he went on to 60 acres, and gradually he hoped within a short time to be able to cultivate the whole 160 acres. I found a great many people who had never been on the land before. Another thing I discovered there was that there were a number of young fellows who had never been on the land, and who were acting as apprentices, learning how to do it.

141Why on earth cannot something be done to train people in the way suggested by my hon. Friend?] I do not know what arrangements are made for training men who are going over to Canada and Australia and elsewhere. I believe it is a condition of the grant which has been given that there should be an opportunity for preliminary training. Why should not that preliminary training be given here to assist people to cultivate the soil at home? It is a great mistake to assume that we are at the end of the possibilities of employment on our land. We are every year buying £400,000,000 worth of food of kinds which the soil of this country is capable of producing. I am not so absurd as to suggest that you could raise the whole of that £400,000,000 worth here. That would be a preposterous statement to make. But everybody will admit that you can at least raise £100,000,000 worth; that is within the limits of economic possibilities. Can anyone point to me any business—woollen, cotton, engineering, coal, boots and shoes, or any other product—in which you could raise an extra £100,000,000 worth and get a market at home. Here is something for which a market is waiting. You have a market for £400,000,000 worth, and, if you can raise an extra £100,000,000 worth within the country, the market is here at your own door.
May I point this out? There are to-day fewer men employed on the land than there were 20, 30 or 40 years ago. There is less cultivation, and, if hon. Gentlemen will take the trouble to inquire, they will find that cultivation has gone down since the War. For some reason or another the output of agricultural land in England since the War has gone down by several millions1 in value and by a considerable quantity. Whatever the reason, it is certainly worth looking into. I know perfectly well that it cannot be done unless the State comes in somehow to assist in the preliminary processes, and it is worth doing. There was an hon. Gentleman who interrupted my hon. Friend and said, “Will you protect”? There is no protection in Denmark. There is no protection for Holland. If you had the same number of men employed on the land here as in Denmark, then, in proportion to the acreage of the two countries, you would have very nearly one million more men employed on the

142land in England than you have at the present time; and, if you take Holland, you would have the equivalent of an addition of 2,000,000—not population, but 2,000,000 more engaged in work on the land. Those are two countries where you have no protection for agriculture, but where agriculture depends entirely upon its profits, upon the skill of the agriculturists, upon organisations which the Government assist, and, in addition, upon a certain amount of preliminary investment by the State. I would ask my right hon. Friend whether it is not worth while to look into this matter.
I agree with my hon. Friend with regard to the problem of unemployment. Trade will probably improve when these troubles have settled down and when we have recovered from the recent difficulties. All the world is producing, and therefore all the world will have a greater capacity to buy. Gradually, I have no doubt, trade will recover, but it will be a slow process, and meanwhile you have to absorb an extra 150,000 every year. May I point this out? It has been the result of a good deal of recent investigation and organs of the Press of all kinds have been calling attention to it. You cannot recover without creating more unemployment. I will point out at once what I mean. I mean that labour-saving appliances have become an essential part of the process of recovery in every country in the world. Many papers have been calling attention to that fact in America and in France, and our problem is this: Unemployment amongst us is creating and is breeding unemployment. In the United States of America the immigration laws restricting the immigration of fresh labour have driven employers and employed to increased labour-saving appliance. They have had to do it. Labour has just as great an interest in it there as employers, because there is a scarcity of labour. They are actually smuggling men across from Canada in defiance of the immigration laws, bringing people from Canada and infringing the immigration laws because there is a shortage of labour. There is there none of that feeling that if you have a machine that saves the work of 100 men it means throwing 99 people out of a job. Why? Because they know perfectly well that there is a shortage of labour. Therefore, I will not say

143the whole of the community join in a conspiracy because it is not the word, but it is the interest of the whole of the community there to have labour-saving appliances, because every workman knows that he will get an increased share in the profit which will inure from that process and that there is no danger of his being thrown out of work.
Take the case of France, who is rapidly becoming our great competitor in Europe and taking the place in that respect of Germany, largely because she has the ironworks and the potash works and all the enterprises which the Germans built up in Alsace-Lorraine. But, apart from that, there has been a great industrial development in France. France has had to re-equip the whole of her machinery in the industrial areas. She has created new industrial areas in the South, because during the War she had to start factories there. She has the most modern machinery. What is the other point? Because of the enormous casualties of the War, which destroyed labour, and because also of increased production and other reasons the French are using labour-saving appliances, and I have no doubt at all that in the process of competition we shall be compelled to do the same thing. I have no doubt at all that it is one of the things which will be the salvation of the mines. You are closing down bad pits, and the result inevitably will he increased unemployment. [HON. MEMBERS: “No!”] I mean in the mines. You need fewer men to turn out a larger quantity of coal. That stands to reason, because, if you have an uneconomic pit, it is one where you have to employ more men to produce the same quantity of coal than in a first-class pit. Therefore, the moment you close down bad pits, and work the better class pits, you need fewer men.
I want to point this out. Even good trade does not really bring you face to face with the end of the problem of unemployment. On the contrary, good trade in itself may create for a short time unemployment. After all, these lessons are not new ones. The Napoleonic wars saw exactly the same process. There were new discoveries of labour-saving appliances of all kinds, and men were thrown out of jobs. Therefore, although

144you increase the wealth of the country, you are for a short time diminishing employment. I would beg that we should not treat the problem of unemployment as if it were something in the course of coming to an end, something which would come to an end in the course of the next 18 months, and eliminate from the minds of Ministers and from the Debates of this House and the country the old anxiety. On the contrary, I agree that it is an anxiety that will remain, until we do something better than merely pay young men from year to year a large subsistence allowance for remaining idle, and supplement it by a resource to the Poor Law merely in order to reduce what appears to be the aggregate figure of unemployment. There is only one industry in this country which affords a fair opening for the employment of the surplus population in a way which will enrich the country and at the same time add to the security of the country in the event of fresh trouble, and that is to develop the resources of the land.

558″>Mr. L. THOMPSON: I should not have inflicted any speech upon the Committee to-day had it not been for the remarks of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) who referred to a speech I made last week when the House was in Committee. I, like him, want to be quite clear on the matter in question, and I will therefore try to clear up the point that has been raised relevant to the relationship of the Act of 1925 and the increase in the amount of guardian relief. I did not claim that the whole of the Act of 1925 should be excluded. What I said was this, that the percentages of disallowment for unemployment bore a relation of 70 per cent. to the Act of 1924 and 30 per cent. to the Act of 1925, and I asked what proportion of the 1925 disallowances came on to the guardians for relief. My point has been sustained and rather acknowledged by the hon. Member in his speech to-day. It is a fact that 70 per cent. of the disallowances were under the Act of 1924, and a large proportion of that would go to the guardians for relief. The hon. Member referred to the statutory conditions under which these disallowances took place. I, too, have gone rather carefully into these points, and also as regards disallowances in my own town.

145The suggestion of hon. Members on the other side is that a large portion is due to the stringent measures of the Act of 1925 and to the instruction of Ministers that there is an increase in the applications for Poor Law relief. It is a curious fact, however, that, comparing the disallowances under the 1924 Act, I find in my own area that there is 1 per cent. less for the last six months than a year ago, so it is very clear that there has not been any undue stringency in administration, but that due regard has been taken of continual unemployment. It comes to this, having allowed for that, what proportion of the 1925 Act is responsible for the increase of applications for Poor Law relief? The figures the hon. Member gave were quite unconvincing. I have not the figures of my own constituency yet; I will get them, but I believe it is fair to say that a fair proportion is due to the 1925 Act, but that the major portion is due to the 1924 Act, and also to the fact that in many districts there has been a more generous administration of Poor Law relief which has tended to increase the number of recipients. I think that is the true explanation. Like the hon. Member, I am anxious to get at the facts.
May I say one other word on the general question of unemployment raised by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), and their legitimate question as to whether we cannot get something practical out of these discussions. It is difficult to raise practical issues, because we may transgress the rules of the Committee, but I think we can make at least one or two practical suggestions. In the first place, I should say that on both sides of the House we should try to agree to a period of rest and peace, thereby giving stability to industry. That is one of the things which will help an increase of production. In the second place, we should leave the old-fashioned idea behind that the basis of real production is to be low wages; and we should accept as a new principle the real relation of wages to output as the basis of all true production in the future.
Let me illustrate what I mean from my own personal experience. As a young man I worked in the shipyard.

146In those days we used to take up the plates by hand labour from start to finish. In fact everything was done by hand to the hauling up and placing the plates on the shipside. This has been altered until to-day, I can take you to a shipyard on the Continent where you will find two plates clamped together, worked on revolving tables by one man operating a duplicate electric punch. No one can say that the same conditions obtain to day in the shipbuilding yards as they did 10 or 15 years ago, and what I contend is this. On the one side the masters will have to be prepared to relate wages to output, to accept an economic basis of wages, and allow men to earn as much as they can on that basis. On the other hand—

559″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: I do not think I can allow the hon. Member to develop his argument any further, because it will lead to a very wide debate.

560″>Mr. THOMPSON: The reason I pursued this line, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, was because other Members have suggested that unemployment may be dealt with by developments in other directions, but I will limit my argument to saying that on the other hand we shall have to relax a lot of our foolish restrictions. Given these two basic principles, there is no reason why unemployment might not be gradually and I think permanently reduced, and the industries of this country put on a permanent basis.

561″>Captain FRASER: I only want to make just one or two observations in reply to the suggestions that have been made by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). I was glad, indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said what he did as to the efforts which have been made by all Governments since the War to redeem as far as possible the pledges made during the War. I feel acutely the allegation that pledges have not been kept by all Governments since the War, because all of us at that time were responsible for those pledges, and I lend what aid I can to the efforts of any Government to see that pledges of this kind are kept. But it is fair that a statement should have been made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon

147Boroughs to show that such pledges have been kept to a very large extent indeed, and that the country should not be misled by statements as to a small number of ex-service men who happen to be in poor circumstances into believing that the ex-service man has been in general neglected. This country has done more not only for the disabled ex-service men but for those cases of difficulty and unemployment arising out of the circumstances of the War than any other country, certainly more than any other European country.
This is true not only so far as the Government are concerned but also as concerns employers of labour, local authorities and the public generally as private citizens, who have done whatever they can to serve the ex-service men. We as a country can take credit for having done our best to meet the pledges we made and redeem them. As regards the particular statement made by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, there are a certain number of ex-service men in Poor Law institutions, that is undoubtedly the case, and may I ask how could it be otherwise? No pledge was given that all the difficulties which would arise from unemployment, and all the hardships of civilian life, would be entirely removed from nearly 5,000,000 of the population. There are not only ex-service men but all sorts of other people who are down on their luck, and the fact that there are ex-service men in this position does not involve the country in any blame or in any broken pledge. It cannot be interpreted as having meant that we would guard every man who served his country from all the incidences of civil life, of accident or disease. I believe the majority of the cases of ex-service men in difficulty and in Poor Law institutions are not cases in which it can be shown that active service directly or indirectly produced the distress, and the Committee may be misled, the country may be misled—I hope there is no intention deliberately to mislead either—if the argument is allowed to go entirely unchallenged, that we have neglected our ex-service men because there are a few in difficulties and in circumstances which do not, I believe, arise out of the War.

562″>Mr. HADEN GUEST: I am glad the Debate has taken the turn it has, and

148also for the speech made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I am certain of one thing in regard to this difficult problem, that is, that it cannot be solved by revolving round the problem of the necessitous areas. One must go outside. The Government’s policy cannot be regarded as satisfactory in any way, because it does not really deal with the fundamental problems, which have been well known not for five years but for 20 years and more. It is a question which has been fully explored by various Commissions and Committees, and the situation with regard to the poorer parts of the country has been dealt with in some way since the time when Booth’s book on “Poverty” was written. The unemployed continue, pauperism continues, and the schemes continue.
I want to approach the subject from a slightly different point of view, to suggest, in fact, that this problem of necessitous areas is not really a problem at all, that it is a disease of society and a characteristic disease of society—the division between the “haves” and the “have nots.” There are two things that can be done. One thing is immediate amelioration, and the ordinary proposal with regard to immediate amelioration in these areas is, of course, the proposal of a subsidy in some form. But a subsidy is already being given in one form or another; very large subsidies are being given by means of loans or otherwise. My point is that these subsidies do not help the fundamental difficulty at all; they do not help us to solve the problem of these areas, the problem being to make them healthy, to prevent the processes of degeneration which are going on and increasing, and to set at work the processes of health. The return to processes of health, the return to a method of healthy growth in the community, is the urgent problem which all Governments ought to set themselves, and I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), in suggesting the very much greater use of colonies for the training of men, is on the right lines. I do not believe that that covers the whole of the field of difficulty, but it does cover a large part of it.
I wonder whether hon. Members opposite are fully seized of what the

149actual problem is? So many men seem to think that the whole problem is one of a large number of men who are parasitic either on the Poor Law or on the dole. As a matter of fact the real trouble is not that. It is precisely the other way about. The real trouble of the necessitous areas is that they are inhabited by people who are employed by industries which are parasitic on those people and on the community; that is to say, industries which pay very low wages and which do not adequately provide for the employment of the people. Let hon. Members take their minds to any poor district that they know. I have in my own mind a particular street in a very poor part of London. Let hon. Members examine the economics of the people living in that street. They will find, if they take a street of about 50 houses, that a number of the people are weekly wage-earners, a number of them are near the docks and are casual wage-earners, a good many of them are boy and girl workers who are underpaid, that is to say, they are paid a wage which is not sufficient economically to support them apart from living partly on the earnings of their parents; and there will be a good many women who are also underpaid. In my own district of Southwark and in other districts of a similar character throughout London there is a large number of industries which employ large numbers of boys and girls and women at very low wages, which are not by any possibility sufficient to support them in health and strength. What is the result of that?

563″>Sir WILLIAM PERRING: Will the hon. Gentleman mention one or two, so that we might argue the matter? He said that some industries are parasitic on the people. Will he give a few of the industries, so that we might trace the causes and possibly remedy them?

564″>Mr. GUEST: I do not wish to give the names of actual industries across the Floor of the House, or the places, but if the hon. Member wishes to have any names I shall be glad to give them to him privately. I do not wish to advertise the names here, for the sake of the firms concerned, because it is not entirely the fault of those firms; some of them are firms of very good repute indeed. If the hon. Member looks into the matter even super-

150ficially, he will be able to find out without any trouble that a large number of firms do pay very low wages indeed. This-question of parasitism is an enormously important one and is really the cause to a large extent of the very bad conditions and the financially bad conditions in particular necessitous areas. What happens? These people are to a large extent paid wages on which they cannot support life. They, therefore, apply for Poor Law relief. There are also the casual workers who do not get a wage sufficient to support them. They, therefore, apply for unemployment relief. By applying for this relief they inflict a charge on the public Exchequer, and they consequently depress the condition of that particular district still further by raising its rates. But in addition to that, in my experience, over 20 years in a very poor part of London, in a street of character—I am thinking of a particular poor street that I know well—there is an enormous bill to be paid every year by the community for hospital relief in the voluntary hospitals, because the people living in that street are unhealthy. There is also a considerable bill to be paid for police, because people living under these conditions are very much more likely to infringe the law than are those living under better conditions.
This is actually the situation—that you have in these poorer districts of England industries paying very little and paying so little that the people cannot live on it properly, so that they are getting Poor Law relief and unemployment relief, and you have those industries making profits and paying dividends while they are really being subsidised out of public funds. That is a very unhealthy state of affaire. I will give the hon. Member who interrupted the concrete example for which he asked. It came up in the House the other day. Let the hon. Member look into the wages paid in the gas mantle industry, which is one of the “safeguarded” industries. He will find that the wages are very low and are not adequate to support life. They are round about £1 a week. I had a little altercation with the President of the Board of Trade in connection with that matter. It is common knowledge that the facts are as I have stated. But industries of that character in those districts

151are really subsidised out of public funds, partly by rates and partly by charity. The people who subscribe to Guy’s Hospital, which is largely employed in relieving conditions caused by the poverty of a large part of London, are subsidising the industries of that particular part of London.
I did not bring this subject up for the purpose of making a point in Debate. I did so because I believe it is really at the root of the matter—this question of parasitic industries living on the community and paying low wages. They produce in various parts of the country conditions of degeneration of the population, which conditions are actually infectious like other illnesses, and spread and spread and spread. If, for instance, hon. Members will examine any very poor part of London, they will find that the conditions of poverty, illness, and so on, are not widespread in a uniform way in that particular district, but they are in patches. There are in different parts of London certain definite patches or pockets of very poor and very degraded and very often criminally-minded people. I could indicate to hon. Members certain definite localities where you could find a very small proportion of criminals, mentally deficient people, prostitutes, vagrants and so on. To a certain extent those areas are created by the actual conditions of those necessitous areas and they act as centres of infection for the whole of the good community. They are really points from which the life of the community is being drained away. Until those particular areas, which are limited and geographically well-defined, are dealt with effectively, you cannot deal with the problem of necessitous areas, because you have a continual disease exhalation poisoning the life of the community.
You want to do the first thing that is always done with regard to infectious disease by any medical officer in charge of it; you want to separate the sick from the well. You must take a number of people who are in the labour market and are being treated by the ordinary Poor Law, and are sick in one way or another away from the people who are well. That is a thing which was not dealt with by the hon. Member who opened this Debate. It can be done largely by administrative effort—the separation of the unemployed

152and healthy men from those who are unemployed and unhealthy. With regard to training colonies, I urge very strongly indeed that colonies of the character proposed by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley and by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, which cannot be too highly commended, ought to be separated as far as possible in every way from the Poor Law. A great deal can also be done by educational methods, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. While the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley urged quite rightly that men should be trained to settle on the land in this country, it is also necessary to realise that at the present time, as a matter of immediate policy, it is easy to train them for settlement in the Dominions. I therefore urge that that should be borne in mind, and that as a matter of setting the forces of healthy growth at work in these necessitous areas you should attempt to pick out from those areas as large a number of young and healthy men as possible, and set them to work either on the land of this country or in the Dominions. I believe that one or other of these two things would be very desirable.
There is another matter to which I would refer, though it would require legislation. I do not think you will be able to tackle the problem of necessitous areas unless you tackle your parasitic industries in those areas, and you cannot do that unless you remove the industries out of the towns into satellite towns, and break up the large areas in town populations which are in themselves a cause of disease, and that disease you cannot cure as long as that condition remains. It is absolutely impossible to cure the difficulties as they exist in West Ham or Middlesbrough or Southwark, or any other necessitous area, while those conditions remain. You must get away from these places; you must break up these places and deal with them in a pretty vigorous manner, if you are to get healthy growth and healthy circulation of life and healthy circulation of wealth. One has to look at this matter of necessitous areas, and the industries in them, keeping in mind another aspect of national finance. It is not altogether a matter of financial administration as between national finance and local finance. You have to consider another financial factor—that is the capital value of the

153life of the man or woman employed in those districts.
I do not know if hon. Members realise that the life of a manual worker in a poor district in London or any large industrial town, is between five and 10 years shorter than that of a man of the same kind living under better conditions of life. That means to say that the conditions of that life actually deprive the community of at least five years’ work from that man. I do not put it on humanitarian grounds. That is one of the ways in which parasitic industries make their profits—by turning the capital value of human life into pounds shillings and pence. It is a very bad thing for the community that it should be so. These industries are not content to take the subsidies afforded out of Poor Law relief, National Health Insurance and Unemployment Insurance, but they also take part of the life capital of men; they actually take years of these men’s lives. That is a thing which we certainly ought to stop. It would probably require a complicated procedure to do so, but a great deal can be done by purely administrative measures. The Ministry of Labour have very large powers and the Ministry of Health have large powers for dealing with such matters as housing, public health, and the treatment of defectives and consumptives and all the different classes of the community who need to be separated and segregrated in order to bring the problem within our grasp. I believe if we are willing to take a sufficiently big view, we can solve the problem of the necessitous areas.
Appeals have been made for peace and harmony in our industries. Peace and harmony depend on elementary justice and commonsense, and the way in which to establish our industries firmly is to offer our workers a reasonably secure chance of a happy life and regular work. At present the so-called necessitous areas of our community are the foundations on which the industrial life of the nation is based. The foundations of our industrial life are in a morass of insecurity, discontent and financial profligracy in those areas. Our industrial life is founded on the slums and the parasitic industries which are using up human life. I believe, inevitably, we must turn from the financial and administrative aspect of this matter to the human factor. If we looked at the

154necessitous areas, not from the point of view of rates or the amount of subsidy which the Government gives, but from the point of view of the organisation of the life of the people, in order that they may be healthily and properly employed, we should get much nearer a solution of this difficulty. I do not think it is so excessively complicated, but you cannot solve the problem by revolving round and round it like a wasp on a pane of glass. I hope the Minister will adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and set up, not one colony, but a number of colonies, and encourage all those measures which aim at the development of life and energy and at growth out of the conditions of the necessitous areas, instead of allowing them to drain our life away as they are doing at the present time.

565″>Sir ALFRED MOND: The subject before the Committee is one which calls up recollections of the days when I occupied the position which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health occupies now. It always appeared to me then, as it very largely does now, that the discussion of the question revolved very much round the point of whether the money to deal with this troublesome problem is to come from the rates or from the taxes. Interesting as that point is in itself, it offers no solution of the problem. It is merely a question of source from which the money is to be forthcoming in order to deal with the difficult question of what we are pleased to call, somewhat inexactly, necessitous areas. I cannot agree with the diagnosis of the last speaker as to the causes of the problem. His eye seems to be fixed exclusively on certain parts of London. When I was dealing with this matter my worst necessitous areas were large industrial districts like Sheffield and Middlesbrough, not full of degenerates and parasitic industries, but full of workmen of the finest type and masters of the greatest ability who had no opportunity of exercising their craft. This was due to the fact, obvious to anyone who takes the trouble to analyse the figures of unemployment more than superficially, that certain specific inudustries suffer from depression—in a relatively small number of cases with intensity—and unemployment in a particular industry produces the present anomalous

155condition of things. Therefore, in dealing with degeneracy, which is really the problem which the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Haden Guest) has brought forward, or in dealing with the industries to which he refers—and machinery exists which could be applied in the cases of industries such as he indicated—you are not really dealing with the fundamentals of the problem which we have to solve in this matter.
There are two aspects of the question. One may be called the Poor Law aspect. From the Poor Law point of view, one feature which seemed to be obvious when I had to deal with this problem, was that our Poor Law system dated from the time of Queen Elizabeth. Anybody who has to administer it, will discover that, while it may have been suitable or adaptable to the economic conditions of the Tudor period, it is entirely unsuitable to modem industrial conditions. The delimitation of the areas under that system was unscientific. The result is that when in a certain area like Sheffield you had drawn together a large population from outside, as was the case during the War, and when that population after the War found there was no employment, under your Poor Law, many centuries old, you could not restore them to where they came from, and the whole burden fell on the ratepayer of a relatively limited area. The obvious answer is that the areas should be much more widely spread.
We had the same case in South Wales. We had a relatively small mining area like Bedwelty, where the pits had gone out of commission, where we had the whole population almost starving, the board of guardians bankrupt and the shopkeepers bankrupt. Obviously it was fantastic to impose a burden on that community, which spread over a county like Glamorgan, could have been carried without difficulty, and the time would have come when the population would have followed the natural course of absorption which takes place. Therefore, administratively, the first thing you want to do from the Poor Law point of view is to deal with the wider area. Take the case of West Ham and other outlying districts around London. I was responsible in this House for introducing

156the equalisation of rates in the London Poor Law area, but then you have growing up outside that circle an enormous industrial area, and just because it happens to be administratively separated, quite arbitrarily, from the great body to which it belongs, a very heavy burden is cast on the resources of the rateable valuation of the very poorest people. That is quite wrong and unfair, and obviously the right answer is that they should be included in the larger area so that you can pool rich and poor equally in meeting this burden. That, of course, does not really deal with the entire problem. I must confess I always had a certain amount of sympathy, even though officially I had to oppose that view, with those who said that when unemployment of an exceptional character fell upon these areas it was more a national than a local concern. There is a great deal to be said for that view, but it carries with it the corollary that if it is admitted that national assistance is to be forthcoming, you must have national control over expenditure. You cannot allow boards of guardians to spend national money at their own sweet will. If that condition is admitted, I think there is a great deal to be said for these exceptional cases receiving assistance from outside.
In regard to the wider problem, I do not wish to open up again a proposition which I have laid before the House of Commons on more than one occasion, and which has been before the country for more than one year. I still maintain, however, that it is possible, without any additional expense to the community, by a more intelligent method of using the money which you are paying out in unemployment benefit, so to stimulate your industries—those industries which require stimulating and which are basic—that a large amount of your difficulty would disappear. It is extraordinary to, me that the sequence of events seems to have been so little followed or understood by those dealing with this problem when the evidence is so obvious on every hand. The chief trade depression for some years—it is improving a little—has been first in the shipbuilding industry and next in the engineering and in the steel and iron trades. The steel and iron trades are connected with the coal trade, and it may be a surprising fact to know that if the

157steel and iron industries of this country to-day consumed the same amount of coal as they did in 1913, we would actually have a shortage of coal in this country instead of the present depression. That shows the intimate connection between them, and yet the Government subsidise coal at the bottom when they could, without any expense attaching to the taxpayer, have subsidised shipbuilding and engineering at the top. If that had been done, the rest would have followed naturally in its course. The scheme is still there, and it can still be used, and I believe by its means we could get through a great deal of our present difficulties. I believe it would tend very largely to accelerate the undoubted improvement in trade which has been unfortunately interrupted by the present labour disputes. I am certain it could be fruitfully employed, and would with the smallest amount of trouble and expense, and the least dislocation and in the shortest time, produce the most effective results.
The last speaker referred to conditions of health and housing, and I quite agree with him in much of what he said upon those matters, but he will want to go much further, if he is to prevent the production of those degenerates whose aggregation in these areas produces the very type of industry to which he referred. I do not agree with him that it is the low paid type of industry which produces the degenerate areas. I think it is the degenerates who crowd into those areas who attract what he calls the parasitic industries, and I think he will agree with me that prevention ought to begin at the beginning. To stop the production of degenerates would seem to be a physiological, rather than a sociological problem which public opinion is not prepared to deal with, and when the hon. Member talks of the causes of these evils, and of making alterations in our social structure, he should bear in mind that some day you will have to take some steps to prevent the production of an element and a class in the population which is not required.
5.0 p.m.
I turn for a moment to the question of emigration. A certain stimulation of emigration to the Dominions and Colonies would be of the very greatest advantage. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Lloyd George) brought forward arguments

158which we have often heard, and with which nobody diagrees, but the question of the method by which to apply the principles laid down is a great deal more open to discussion. I think myself that the methods which he has proposed are more likely to depopulate our country than to populate it. It is more possible to drive people out of business who are in it than to bring people into it who know nothing about it. For all that, the problem is there, and it ought to be dealt with by whatever Government is in office. There is a great deal to be done, and not merely by slavishly adopting any one system from any one country. I see a new development with which we are just beginning to experiment in this country, which is much more likely to be fruitful, as far as we are concerned, in the use of our agricultural land than adopting the methods prevalent in Denmark, and that is the intense improvement of our grassland, such as is being worked out in Germany. The subject is too long for me to expatiate on it now, but it is one which is being taken up and to which the Minister of Agriculture could very well apply some of his time. There are so many directions in which science could be applied to agriculture, and I think that we are very backward and remiss in not doing more in that direction.
I am hopeful, myself, of absorbing our unemployed population. There is one great law which people are liable to forget and with which nature has kindly provided us, and that is the law of compensation. It is a law which, when things look black in one direction, suddenly shows bright hopes in another. Who would have thought a few years ago that we could establish in this country a great industry like the artificial silk industry, which is rapidly developing, which in a few years’ time will employ many thousands of people, and which, with the improvement of methods, may employ hundreds of thousands of people in the next ten years? How about the development of industries like wireless, which has been recently seen to grow and to require more and more people to carry it on? In an industrial country like ours there are always hundreds of new things coining along to employ surplus labour, and, therefore, the reservoir or pool of such labour, although it may be over full

159at one time, will, in normal conditions, undoubtedly diminish, again.
It is the intermediate times, the slack times, that ought to occupy our minds. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs spoke about labour saving machinery. I am sure he did not mean to imply that its use would ultimately produce unemployment. It is those slack periods to which it is really the duty of the community to pay some regard, and that is really where our whole organisation of the unemployment problem up to now has been inefficient. The slack period between the stoppage of the uneconomic pit and the development of the new colliery is an aspect of the coal mining problem to which I hope the Government will pay considerable attention. Germany, I observe, when they went through a somewhat similar crisis on the Ruhr, worked out schemes for the absorption of the men before a pit was closed, and they did not throw thousands of people out of work, but relief schemes were created beforehand, and the thing was done systematically and in an orderly manner. It is certain that we have the capacity to organise things as well as any other country, and finance ought not to stand in the way. I can imagine that we could organise public works, new road schemes, and so on, in advance, and plan them so that you can systematically take your people from one place and put them to work in another so as to form a continuous chain of employment.
We all recognise—and hon. Members who understand mining recognise it very well—that the reorganisation of collieries is a question of time and may involve temporary stoppages, but nobody wants those people to leave the industry. It would be in every way deplorable, and, therefore, it seems to me essential that schemes should be thought out well beforehand and placed on orderly, well thought out, and agreed lines between all the parties concerned. I do not know how far I should be in order in discussing the effect of the Government stoppage of the Trade Facilities Act, but I am certain it will not help the unemployment problem, and I should have thought that some such scheme as that would be essential for the reorganisation of the mining industry. It is no use disguising the fact that at the present time money is

160very difficult to obtain for collieries, and if this great new reorganisation is to be carried out, it can only be done with the assistance, not of a subsidy, but of Government credit such as has been extended to many industries in the last few years. I believe that if this is done a great many of the fears about hundreds of thousands of men walking the streets and unable to find work will largely vanish.
Housing is very important in this connection. The creation of new houses so as to be able to transfer men and get the necessary mobility is of the very first importance, and there, again, I think there should be co-operation between the Ministry of Health and the localities in the terms for the erection of houses, of whatever type, and co-operation in finance. I am convinced that these problems are not insoluble, but they are not soluble as long as you treat every one of them as a watertight compartment, and as long as one Minister says: “This has nothing to do with me,” and another Minister says: “I must safeguard my particular interest.” If you appoint a committee to correlate these things, I am convinced that the problems could be solved and many of our difficulties overcome. The position is not really hopeless, and I believe that in a first-class industrial country like ours the difficulties could be alleviated and brought down almost to vanishing point.

566″>Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS: I intervene in this Debate because I represent one of the necessitous areas. I will not deal with the agricultural question, which has been raised by the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond), but I am in agreement with him in regard to the desirability of larger Poor Law areas. I am afraid, however, it was he, more than anybody else, who prevented unemployment being taken over as a national charge, as I think it should have been. In the early years, when unemployment became acute, our local council refused to levy rates for unemployment, saying it was a national problem that ought to be financed from national funds, without local funds being called upon, and I think it was the right hon. Baronet himself who refused that and advised them to raise loans, which they did, with the result that to-day they have raised in loans considerably over half a million

161pounds, and for some years to come they will be crippled by the repayment of the principal and interest of those loans. I believe it would have been easier if those areas had been widened. The right hon. Member suggested that they might have included the whole of Glamorganshire, but if you go in that direction, you might just as well go all the way and put it on a national basis, which I think would be the only fair way. At present it is unfair as between district and district. In fact, the Poor Law system of this country, when we are talking about differences made by unemployment during the last few years, has always been unfair as between one district and another, and it always will be unfair until the whole system is made a national one.
In the constituency that I represent we have two Poor Law unions, the Newport Union and the Bedwellty Union. I know men on both of those boards, one of which is quite as capable as the other, and yet there is a great difference between those two unions. I happen to live in the Newport Union, and I pay rates there, so that in one sense I should be very pleased that they are lower in Newport than in Bedwellty, but that does not make it any fairer. The one district is highly industrial and the other largely agricultural, which makes all the difference. There are two great differences. The source of income is affected in a colliery district in a way in which it is not affected in the agricultural district, for in the former it is based upon the output of the collieries. A large proportion of the assessable area of the Bedwellty Union is derived from collieries, and the assessment is on the basis of output. In consequence, when a colliery closes down or works short time, the assessable value drops, and the reduced rating capacity has to be made good by other ratepayers at a time when a large number of them are unemployed, so that it cuts both ways. To put it briefly, when the rating capacity of collieries is lower, the guardians’ expenditure on relief is increased, so that they are hit both ways.
If I compare those two unions, hon. Members will see where the difference comes in. Even in 1914, before unemployment was as bad as we have had it since, the Bedwellty poor rate was 6s. in the £, which was very high indeed. In the Newport area it was only 1s. O½d., so there you get the unfairness of our

162Poor Law system in normal times clearly shown. In 1925 the poor rate in Bedwellty was 10s. 8d. in the £, and in Newport it was 2s. 1d. The amount of relief had gone up in altogether a different ratio—I think, about nine times in the Bedwellty area and five times in the Newport area. For the half-year ended March, 1925, a loan of £70,000 was obtained. It was advised by the Minister, so that they should be able to carry on, and that meant 2s. 6d. in the £ for the half year, so that if they had been rated to the full amount that they required for relief, the rate would have been 15s. 8d. in the £ last year. They were paying relief in 1914 amounting to £18,252 in Bedwellty and to £11,598 in Newport. That was in normal times. In 1925 it had gone up to £166,400 in Bedwellty and £55,830 in Newport. That is nine times more in one area, and five times more in the other, the reason being that one area was agricultural and the other almost entirely industrial. The estimate for the present half year is no less than £233,000 odd, there having been a further loan granted a week or two ago. The weight of all these loans means crippling those districts in the future. Of course, with all the unemployment, and the relief required, they need to have additional officers and offices, and additional expenditure in other ways.
The arrears of rates in Bedwellty in 1921 were £142,961. Newport had no arrears whatsoever. The report I have from Newport is that in February this year, there was something over £33,000 of current rate uncollected, that there was no difficulty in the 41 parishes, and that by the end of March that would all be in, and had all come in. That is the difference in the two areas. The estimated difference in the relief now paid and in normal times in Bedwellty is £150,000 per annum, and in Newport £44,000. Of course, the tightening up of the rules applied to unemployment insurance, for which my hon. Friend opposite was very largely responsible, has affected the rates very considerably in the industrial parts. The new conditions will cost the Bedwellty Guardians about £30,000 a year more in relief. Newport said the amount was negligible.
It does not, therefore, affect alike two adjoining areas in the same con-

163stituency. The difference is so unfair that I think nothing less than a national scheme for unemployment should be established. We have asked for grants for necessitous areas. If that were agreed to, it would be none the less fair for all. If the whole of the loans were taken over by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and paid in these necessitous areas, it would be none the less fair, because of others on the border line. There would be some hardship upon somebody, which is another argument in favour of a national scheme, and a national scheme only. As regards the Widows’ and Orphans’ Pension Fund, Bedwellty thinks that that will relieve them of an expenditure of from £10,000 to £15,000 a year. The Newport people say it relieves them to the extent of £10,000 a year. But against that, as I have said, the tightening-up of the unemployment scheme has meant £30,000 less to Bedwellty.
I venture to think the Economy Bill will have some effect, again, because the grant to the Unemployment Fund is to be reduced, and they will make the number of men fit in with the amount of money, so that there will be a further cutting-off in the Employment Exchanges, and, consequently, more people seeking relief from the guardians in those areas. The loans raised by Bedwellty up to February of this year total £579,000. They have raised a loan since then. Newport has raised no loan whatsoever. Its future is free, while in the years to come Bedwellty will be burdened with the repayment of its loans. I will give the loans they have had. On the 31st March, 1922, they had a loan of £70,000. That was the first loan that was advised by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). At that time, if he had devised a national scheme, this area would not be placed in the position in which it is placed to-day. In 1923, it had a loan of £110,000; in 1924, £110,000; in 1925, £129,000; and the estimate for this year of all their requirements will mean another £160,000. That makes up the total I gave of £579,000. There has been an addition to that for 1926. The repayment of these loans, which is a very serious matter, will be in 1927 £65,373, which is not a very hopeful view for 1927.

164567″>Sir W. PERRING: How much in the pound?

568″>Mr. EDWARDS: I cannot say how much repayment in the pound; that is the repayment of principal and interest.

569″>Sir W. PERRING: It is a burden on industry.

570″>Mr. EDWARDS: In 1928, it will be £57,911; in 1929, £67,035; in 1930, £64,413. And so it goes on. They are burdened to such an extent, that they will not know how to live in the years to come. This matter will have to be faced, for I do not know what a district like that is going to do unless the question be faced. The result will be that they will not be able to meet these payments, which will have to be met from somewhere else. These loans, indeed, are a very serious matter. The scale of relief at Bedwellty, which was sanctioned, and even suggested, by the Ministry of Health, is a shilling or so per week more than in the Newport area, which is natural, because the cost of everything is higher in an industrial district than in an agricultural district. If it be a shilling more, the difference is very small, and really does not make up the difference between the prices of commodities in the different areas. The Economy Bill will, of course, further increase the rates. The amount of money for unemployment will be made to fit in, and that will raise the rates. People will have to come on the rates, especially in the colliery districts. Although there is a demand for a reduction in wages to-day, the wages paid have been so low, and unemployment has been so bad, that these people are not prepared for even a week’s stoppage. They have to apply to the guardians almost at once. The present lock-out in a district like Bedwellty will send up expenditure again. Then, as to education, although Circular 1371 was withdrawn, it was estimated in Monmouthshire that it would mean a 6d. rate. Although the Circular was withdrawn, Clause 14 of the Economy Bill puts them in the same position as they were before.
The putting of these things on the local rates is very unfair. Unemployment, above everything else, should have been one of the things that should have been a national burden, met from national funds. We have heard on many occasions in this House from the hon.

165Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) as to the cost at Blaina. Up to 1921 it was one of the best communities, I should say, in the whole country. In 1920, they collected 90 per cent. of the rates, which I suppose would compare favourably with any other district. But it began to go down from then through unemployment setting in. The pits were closed, and the whole township was put on the rates. In April, 1921, there was only 41 per cent. of the rates collected for Blaina; in April, 1922, 28 per cent.; in April, 1923, 19 per cent.; and in April, 1924, 23 per cent. So that they have come down from 90 per cent. to 23 per cent. In that area the number of owner-occupiers of houses is no less than 1,329. There were unemployed about 950 of that number, the result being that 75 per cent. of the property is mortgaged up to the hilt. That will be a continual burden upon the guardians. There is another town in the same Poor Law area, Rhymney, another old prosperous town, where, to-day, I think there is not a single industry working, but the people there happen to live nearer than the Blaina people to the more successful work, and through workmen’s trains and other means, they can find work in surrounding districts, so that it has not been as big a burden there as in the other area. Still, it is a considerable burden, and when you compare two unions, as I have done, the difference is not due to more capable administration in one than in the other. Although we ask for some relief for these necessitous areas, I do not think you will ever settle the problem until the State takes it over as a national burden, as I think it should have done from the very beginning.

571″>Sir W. PERRING: The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat has, I think, emphasised once again an aspect of our industrial problem, which, sooner or later, must receive from Parliament, and particularly from the Minister of Health, more than a passing consideration. I was myself very disappointed, in the discussion which took place last week on the necessitous areas, with the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, but I excuse him on the ground that perhaps his mind was full of other questions. But I do say that local taxation is having a more serious effect on industry than almost anything else of which we

166can speak. I believe that if we could have laid before this House statistics showing what is the effect of rates on a ton of coal, on a ton of steel, on a ton of transport and on a ton of shipbuilding, it would be found that the cumulative effect is the difference between selling our steel and ships at a profit, and not being able to sell them, because we cannot compete.
We have never had an authoritative statement presented to this House. I do hope that the Balfour Committee now sitting will deal with this aspect of the problem, and give us some information by which we can pin down the relationship of taxation to industry. For this reason, as has been very well said by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. C. Edwards), and which was very much emphasised by the hon. Member for the Hartlepools (Sir W. Sugden) last week, that the disparity between a highly industrial area and a residential district is so great that the burden is not spread equally. It is placed heavily on the districts which, really, by reason of their industrial difficulties—that is to say, the competing in the markets of the world, and competing with labour which works longer hours for the money it gets—are to that extent handicapped, and, further, they are handicapped by putting upon those districts a burden of rates which is sufficient to make the industries incapable of competing in the markets to which I have just referred. I ask in all seriousness—and I do not want to specially single out hon. Gentlemen opposite—that these questions should receive greater consideration than has been the case in the past. I am one of those who think that the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is 10 times as helpful as the speeches we have had so often from various quarters of the House, and which are largely based on sentiment in regard to the depraved conditions in the slums.
You may talk as much as you like about parasitic industries and the relationship of life in our slums to the other branches of society. But as one whose life from the age of 13 to 20 was spent in a slum in the way of business, which was identified with an area of the sort, I came in. contact so much with the lower strata of society that I can say from my own experience that these slum areas are largely made up by the drifting of people

167who are either physically or mentally inefficient. They drift into these areas. It is not solely the result of parasitic or other industries, because when you talk in the way—reference was made by one hon. Member to the gas mantle industry—that is often done about industries that one must always remember that the whole conditions of any specified industry is in a large measure due to the competition in the world’s markets, and the prices paid for mantles, or in other of the industries described as parasitic. I do not accept that term “parasitic.” The wages paid in these industries are, in a great measure, due to the competition of the forces of the world, and until we can alter those forces we shall either have to abandon industry altogether or to pay the economic wages of the industry. It is very unfortunate, but we cannot get away from facing the facts.
We have heard a great deal of the necessity of better processes in industry, of the need for research, and all those things which will enable industry to carry on in a better way, with more scientific appliances and so on, thus producing lower costs, and paying higher wages in the industry. I want to point out, or to ask the Minister, to say how can an impoverished industry, which has for a lengthened period of years been struggling to make ends meet, and cannot pay either good wages or dividends, provide money for the purpose of scientific research? It is asking too much of that industry. I am going to suggest that the Government Departments concerned, particularly the Board of Trade, which is supposed to look after the interests of trade, and the Board of Agriculture, which is supposed to watch the welfare of agriculture, should realise to the very full—I am not going to say they have not helped—should realise, not partially and spasmodically, but to the very full, that they have obligations to devote money freely on wisely-directed and proper research work, and so give the industry concerned, for which they are primarily responsible as State Departments, the benefit of the best research work’—if they come to the conclusion that, by the money they provide and the scientific knowledge which is available, the Departments would be

168giving to these industries very much needed help, help that would put them on a proper footing!
Industries to-day are only paying low dividends and low wages. They have not the means to embark upon experimental and exploratory schemes, though they may desire to find better methods, and a more profitable way of competing. These considerations will have, I think, to receive some attention. I am not suggesting the Departments are not doing something in the direction I have indicated, because they are, but I think they could do more. Then again, might I suggest even to the leaders of the trade unions, who I know are prompted in their policy to promote the welfare of the men engaged in industry, that they might also view their responsibilities aright? Those in the trade unions they represent are more or less partners in industry, and they should be real partners in industry—

572″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: I am afraid the hon. Member is now getting beyond the scope of the Resolution before the Committee.

573″>Sir W. PERRING: I am very sorry, Captain FitzRoy, I will deal with another aspect of the subject. In our great industries we have had in a large measure captains of industry, men of brain, and we have had the tightening up of regulations. I want to say in all seriousness—for the matter has been emphasised repeatedly—that in this respect the trade unions, like every other branch of trade should review their own regulations that are operative in many of our great industries, and consider whether the policy which provides that one man should only do one job at a time—

574″>The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN: There, again, the hon. Gentleman is getting beyond the scope of the Debate.

575″>Sir W. PERRING: Well, then, Sir, I do not want to trespass in that way. There is, however, just one other point I should like to make. We have been discussing the necessitous areas and Poor Law administration. It has been argued here, and I also have suggested that some rearrangement of the burden of taxation should be made so as to make it easier for the industrial areas than it has been in comparison with the non-industrial areas.

169When we attend to this matter we must remember that there must be equality introduced by the Department, so that the relief grant is regulated. The two things must go together, I do feel this, that some of the areas to which we are referring, by a generous administration of our Poor Law, are sapping the self-reliance of many of our workers. There are areas—I do not wish to mention any—but there are areas, London areas and others, which have been very generous in their administration of the Poor Law. They have done it with the best intentions. They have given generously. In some cases you create a burden by the Poor Law, and that burden is cast upon the industries, and when that is so, you are indirectly affecting the industries which belong to that particular district. The effect of that is that the generosity of those who administer the Poor Law in certain areas has accentuated the troubles which we have to meet.
If an industry is burdened those engaged in it lose their employment because of the inability of the industry to compete. Those who have the responsibility of administering the Poor Law, have the greatest responsibility, and they are not entitled to come down to this House and complain about the failure of the Government to do all they ought to do if they are not equally making their own contribution by a wise and judicial administration in their own areas. There is nothing worse than the sapping of the self-reliance of those who are engaged in industry. I think we can very properly direct our attention in that direction.
To-day there are undoubtedly masses of young people who are growing up in the belief that the State ought to do for them what they ought to do for themselves. Having regard to the fact that we have a percentage of our population who are not very strong-willed, and not very competent to fight their way in the world, who value lightly their responsibility and succumb, and in that process accept what they otherwise would have to fight for, our policy should be, whether in the administration of industry or of the Poor Law, to encourage the younger generation to fight—[HON. MEMBERS: “Hear, hear!”] Let me finish my observations to fight with that robustness which was known to genera-

170tions past, and not to succumb and think that they can jog along comfortably with the assistance of the Poor Law; that they have not to make any effort on their own behalf. If this policy is allowed to grow up amongst any section, amongst a certain section—I am not suggesting it is a vast section, but there, is a section, however small it may be—if it is encouraged, that section is always in danger of becoming an increasing and a growing section. Therefore, I do suggest that the Departments and the Minister should not fail to attend to these matters, in relation to our local government. There are many hon. Members in this House who are engaged in the work of local government. They should endeavour to correct, so far as lies in their power, those matters which need correction before they venture to offer criticism to a Government Department for their lack of what they think they ought to do for industry.

576″>Mr. HUGH EDWARDS: The Committee, I think, will agree with the very powerful lead which has been given for a specially favourable consideration of the claims of the necessitous areas. I think, however, that the figures which were given by one hon. Member must have struck us. I venture to think that such statistics suggest a special claim upon the nation at large. What is the position? In these industrial districts we find large masses of men out of work through no fault of their own. These people cannot be allowed to starve; something must be done for them. There is the drain on the rates, as we have heard from hon. Members, and there is also the inability of the necessitous areas to bear such burdens. The Government must in some form or other aid these necessitous areas. I remember, and the whole House will remember, that in the days of the War, when some places on the East Coast, some towns there, were being bombarded, they made an appeal to the Government to come to their help on the ground that as we were all in the War, it was unfair that one part of the country should suffer while the rest of the country should go free. That consideration which applied in the days of the War, I venture to think, should apply to the necessitous areas as a whole. I have always felt in these Debates on unemployment, in listening to such speeches as that

171powerful speech we heard from the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), that the matter was one entitled to the sympathetic consideration of members of all parties. I have further felt that we are in danger, a standing danger in these Debates, of being more concerned with the relief of unemployment than we are for its remedy. We are in constant danger of concentrating our attention on consequences rather than causes. We are all, I think, prepared to acknowledge that in social, as in all individual ills, the first step in searching for a remedy is to ascertain the nature of the disease. In talking of unemployment, in its essence, we talk as though it were all of one piece, one texture, one colour, whereas, I may remind the Committee, unemployment has a three-fold aspect. There is, first of all, the cyclical, that form which at irregular periods afflicts industries and occupations usually regarded as stable. Then there is the seasonal form, in which the periods of unemployment follow each other with a regularity which can be calculated. Last of all, there is the most sinister aspect of unemployment, what may be called chronic unemployment, that form which persists through all the seasons of the year with an unyielding obstinacy. That, I think we are all agreed, is the form of unemployment which constitutes the gravity of the problem in our time.
Reference has been made to Denmark and other agricultural countries. It must be recognised, I think, that where the life of a community is based wholly, or almost wholly, upon agriculture, there is rarely chronic unemployment. When, however, the life of a community is based upon manufacture and export, it is subject to the sway of forces over which it has no control. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) put his finger on the spot to-day when he suggested that employment in a community depends upon buying no less than upon selling. What is the main generating cause of unemployment in our country in these days? I think I shall carry Members with me when I suggest that it is loss of markets, due either to the poverty of countries which were once our customers or to the fact that other countries are now competing with us for outside

172markets. Unfortunately, this country no longer possesses its old monopoly. Countries which formerly purchased from us now manufacture for themselves, and for export as well as for home use. Sooner or later, and sooner rather than later, I hope, this House must face the problem from that standpoint. A short time ago the General Federation of Trade Unions made a very practical suggestion. They suggested the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, on which no politicians of any kind should be given a place [HON. MEMBERS: “Hear, hear!”] I am glad to find that is appreciated.

577″>Mr. J. JONES: We are not politicians.

578″>Mr. EDWARDS: No, I never thought so.

579″>Mr. JONES: Your party are out of work because you are politicians.

580″>Mr. EDWARDS: It ought to be recognised more clearly than it is that unemployment is not due to one cause, but to a number of causes acting in combination. There are circumstances which predispose to unemployment, circumstances which precipitate unemployment, and circumstances which perpetuate unemployment. We ought to have a scientific examination into the operation of these various causes to ascertain which predispose to unemployment, which precipitate it and which perpetuate it. In the recent action of the Government in appointing the Coal Commission we have a precedent for such a Commission as has been suggested. I think we are all agreed that the Coal Commission has done excellent work by exploring the industry and by throwing light on various aspects of it, and it would be well if we could have a Commission of Inquiry into the real causes of unemployment.
This is a problem which transcends all political strife, and is a matter for national co-operation and not for party exploitation. It is no good going on with attempts to relieve the co-sequences of unemployment while leaving the causes untouched. Reference has been made to migration to the Dominions and the Colonies. That is an avenue which can be explored. I hope migration will be regarded not as deportation, but as a means of helping all classes, and that facilities will be found to enable all classes to take

173advantage of it. The effectiveness of any unemployment scheme must be measured by two things, firstly, the completeness with which it can absorb the unemployed, and secondly, its power to create more economic value than is consumed in the process. We must set ourselves to do two things if this problem is to be solved, or if its solution is to be brought even within reasonable dimensions: to recover lost markets and to discover new markets. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) made a memorable delaration that there are no rabbits to be found in the hat. We all recognise the force of that observation. It is up to the House, it is up to the Government, it is up to all parties, to seek the rabbits where alone they can be found.

581″>Mr. J. JONES: To those of us who have been identified with the movement to get a reorganisation of local taxation, this Debate has been very interesting. There was a time when some of us in the East End of London were looked upon as though we were revolutionaries, because we dared to demand that national burdens should be nationally borne. Now we find that in all parts of the country and in all parts of the House, on the opposite side of it as well as on this, the problem is being recognised in all its potentialities. In the district I represent we are “up against it” in the extreme. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health and those associated with him in his office know that we are perpetually appealing to them for loans, and that since the depression in trade set in we have borrowed no less than £2,000,000—not to meet a local responsibility, because by no stretch of the imagination can it be described as local. The interest we have to pay next year and the payment to be made in redemption of the loans, will amount to more than our total rate for Poor Law purposes in the years before the War. I would like to ask those who know more about figures than I do how long this is going to continue? Either some Government, it may not be the present one, must face the problem, or we shall have the absolute bankruptcy of some of our most important industrial areas. The poor cannot go on keeping the poor for ever; and, as an hon. Member opposite pointed out, manufacturers, too, are

174beginning to find out the seriousness of the problem.
A suggestion was made to the Committee—and though districts were not mentioned I suppose we in the district I represent were referred to—that we were mainly responsible because we are too generous in the administration of relief. As a matter of fact, we give a family of three people less with which to keep themselves for a week than hon. Members opposite pay for the maintenance of a convict at Dartmoor. If the ordinary workman is inclined to be a law-breaker, it would be better for him, from the physical point of view, to break the law and to get a sentence of penal servitude than to ask for Poor Law relief. Per head of the population, you are paying more for the maintenance of your criminals than for the maintenance of people who are genuinely out of employment; so the charge of extravagance is on the other side. I came to-day through the East End of London and saw the soldiers marching back from Victoria Park, as though they had beaten the Germans once again. They came through the City and they were cheered, naturally cheered, because they were workmen who themselves will be out of work in a few years time. They are nearly all short-service men. They marched through the City with their bands playing, well dressed and well provided for—better off than the men who have to go down the coal mines. So far as we are concerned, we have no opposition to those men; but we know the bill will have to be paid.
In West Ham this week we have had 15,000 more applications for relief. Why? For men and women thrown out of work because of the dispute. If there had been no general strike at all the mere stoppage of the mines would put thousands of our people out of work. The Government’s own restrictions mean that the power supply will be reduced by almost 50 per cent., and automatically thousands upon thousands of men and women will be thrown on Poor Law relief. Those people do not belong to trade unions, because in many cases they are in sweated industries; for one reason or another they are not members of trade unions, and they come automatically on to the Poor Law. What are we to do with them? The Minister of Health can-

175not tell us, except that we are to follow a certain scale of relief which he has passed. Are those of us who are members of Boards of Guardians to say to them, “There is nothing for you”? We have to come to the right hon. Gentleman and ask him whether he is prepared to lend us some more money, when he knows he will never get it back. “You cannot take the breeks off a Hielan’man.” We have got down to the bottom of things; we cannot face the situation. We are paying 9s. in the £ for poor rate purposes alone out of a total rate of 25s., and the rate keeps on going up, not through any fault of ours, for we cannot help ourselves. There ought to be a reorganisation of our taxation. Nobody objects to paying. But then the suggestion is made that there must be some control over local expenditure. We do not object to control, providing we get a fair deal in the amount of control. The Minister of Health already has power in this matter. So long as we were able to find money out of our own pockets, there was no control, but as soon as we have to borrow money there is control, and conditions are laid down which we have to accept. We are up against two propositions. On the one side we have got people who do not want control, and on the other side we have got people who want all control.
Could not the Government meet us to this extent? They have turned down the proposition that this expenditure should be recognised as a national charge, but could not they say that in cases where the Minister is satisfied as to the circumstances loans will be granted free of interest? The interest alone on the money we have borrowed will shortly come to as much as our total rate was 10 years ago—if we are compelled to go on borrowing. That would be a small contribution for the Government to make towards the solution of what is becoming daily a more difficult problem. As a compromise on the whole position as to national and local charges, let us say that the money borrowed by local authorities which have been forced into the position I have described should be granted free of interest. It would be a small contribution, not all we would like to have, but at least what we are entitled to as a contribution towards the big responsi-

176bility being placed upon localities which are hard hit.
6.0 p.m.
Through the administration of unemployment benefit we are also in a great difficulty. Almost every week fresh people are being disqualified, and they come for Poor Law relief. Where is it going to end? Those of us who represent districts like my own are always being lampooned because, I suppose, we are not regarded as being respectable. If respectability means that you have always got to shirk your responsibility, then we we are not respectable. We have always placed the proposition before the public that we are prepared to accept full responsibility for our poor as far as we are able, but when we are asked to pay 25s. in the £ in rates, 9s. of which is for Poor Law purposes, and we find another district gets off with 7s. in the £ for the same purposes, then we naturally feel that we are not being fairly treated. The people who can afford to pay get off in this way, and those who cannot afford it are compelled to shoulder the burden. For these reasons, I ask the Government not to turn down the appeal which has been made to them. If they cannot meet us by granting us some direct assistance, at least, they ought to say that they will allow us to have the loans we have already obtained, and those we may apply for in the future, free of interest.
There is a big body of opinion growing up in the East End of London in favour of declaring that we should not administer the Poor Law any longer. We are prepared to look after the children and the old people and administer our medical services, but we cannot go on for ever carrying all these able-bodied people on our shoulders in addition to our other responsibilities. All I can say is that the general strike will be nothing compared with the position which will arise if our Poor Law authorities are forced to meet the position now being forced upon them. Therefore, I hope the Government will meet us, and, if they are not prepared to take over the administration themselves, in which case it will cost much more than it is costing now, I hope they will do something in the direction which I have indicated.

582″>Mr. ERNESTEVANS: I know there are a good many hon. Members more qualified

177to speak on this subject than I am, but I wish to say that the point of view which has been expressed by the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) is one which I think must appeal to the sympathies of every Member of this House with considerable force, in whatever part of the House he may happen to be sitting. I know it has been the custom to speak of unemployment as a national problem, and I do not think there is a single Member of the House who has not used that phrase. It is when you come to apply that phrase in a practical way that one appreciates the difficulty, and one realises that in such a district as that represented by the hon. Member for Silvertown, they are called upon to find a large sum of money to meet a problem which does not arise out of the ordinary conditions which obtain alone in that district, but which is part of the problem which we all have described as a national problem.
I want to ask two or three questions, because I find very considerable difficulty when discussing unemployment in arriving at an accurate opinion in regard to which one can feel perfectly satisfied. Before the events of the last fortnight it was announced that the figures of unemployment showed a considerable decrease, and it is in regard to that fact that I want to ask a few questions. I should like to ask the Minister of Labour how many men under the age of 25 or 30 are now on the Unemployment Roll. I am referring to the period ending a fortnight ago. It seems to me that this really has reference to one of the most disastrous complications of the unemployment problem. Unfortunately, it is the case, I am afraid, that there is a very large number of men in this country, young in years, many of them ex-service men, who since the War have never really had a proper opportunity of settling down to work. Whilst one recognises that even in normal times there must be a certain number of unemployed, one of the aspects of the problem which causes me the gravest anxiety, and must cause the gravest anxiety to anybody who looks at this problem from the point of view of the welfare of the country, is the number of young men who have not had a chance of working, and are not working now, and who have no prospects of being able to find employment in the future. It is for that reason

178that I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to refer to this aspect of the problem, and to tell us how many men under the age of 25 or 30 are out of employment, and what prospects there are in his opinion of finding employment for that class of person in the near future.
My next question is, how far is the decrease in unemployment due to the employment of women, because that is a practical problem. If the decrease in the unemployment figures is merely due to the fact that a certain number of women have been absorbed in a certain kind of industry and the men folk are still out of employment, then the decrease does not show much improvement in the actual position. My third question is, has the Parliamentary Secretary got any figures he can give us in regard to the extent to which the industrial districts are drawing men from the rural districts? This is part of a large problem which I shall not deal with now, but it has a very important relevance to the whole question of unemployment in this country.
There was some talk a short time ago in some newspapers about creating a brighter London, and we should all like to create a brighter country. We all know what has been done in the rural districts under the Board of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture by means of women’s institutes and various other organisations to add to the interest and attractiveness of life in the rural districts; but unfortunately it is the case that in large numbers young men, and virile men, are every week leaving the countryside for the large towns where either they do not find work, or, if they find work, they do so at the expense of others who are thrown out of employment. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary, if he can, to give us some indication as to the extent to which these resources are being drawn from the countryside.
Another question I wish to ask is, What is responsible for the reduction in the unemployment figures? From whence have these people been absorbed, and into which industries have they gone? Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will also say whether there are industries, and which they are, in which there has proved to be a real shortage of labour? These four questions are subjects upon which some information would

179be of great value to myself and many other hon. Members who, without seeking to put forward any hindrances to a solution of the unemployment problem, are anxious to form a genuine estimate of the seriousness of the problem in the country at the present time.

583″>Captain MACMILLAN: This discussion has ranged over a fairly wide field, and I wish to raise one or two points which I think are relevant to the main question we are now discussing. As one of those hon. Members of this House who joined a deputation to the Prime Minister, the result of which was that the Goschen Committee was appointed, I would like to make one or two remarks as to what I understood was the decision of that Committee. It has been a great source of disappointment to many hon. Members connected with necessitous areas that no practical scheme was found by that Committee suitable to be recommended to the Government. Personally, I think that Committee took rather a narrow view of its powers and its duties. Certain schemes were put forward for consideration which were found to be, on careful analysis, impracticable and unworkable, and I have no hesitation in saying that if that Committee, which was a very strong one, consisting of men with wide experience, held that view, their decision would be accepted by most people.
I think, however, it was a narrow view, because they put the whole onus of suggesting schemes upon other people, and the onus should lie upon the Government of the day. If that Committee were unable to recommend any specific schemes which were brought before them, at least it should have considered alternative methods which might have had the desired effect. We are now faced with the position that no practical scheme has been recommended to the Government, and the only thing we can do is to consider what I myself have always advanced as a much more important aspect of the case and the wider issue which underlies this problem, namely, the whole question of the basis of national and local taxation. I know schemes have been suggested for necessitous areas, but they have mostly been as a palliative or some temporary expedient

180to meet the present condition of those areas.
In the present condition of the country and in its present situation the whole basis of our taxation as between local and national taxation seems to me to demand reconsideration. After all, we are now faced with this tendency. All social legislation which is put forward in regard to health and other services, and which is perpetually being put forward, involves some charge upon the rates. We are passing a great number of small private Bills and Government Bills, all in the class of social legislation, which will lead to some increase in local taxation. In addition to that, there is a tendency in regard to Unemployment Insurance Schemes to administer them in a way that gives fair play to the members who are insured in those schemes. Therefore, we must regard unemployment insurance as an insurance, but by the mere lapse of time the bringing into effect of these statutory regulations involves expenditure and automatically throws a charge upon the rates.
In my own constituency I find, for instance, that in the week ending on the 3rd April this year, 5,159 persons were relieved, at an expense to the rates of £2,100, as against 4,100 persons last year at an expense to the rates of £l,590. The addition is about 1,000 persons at an increased cost of £575, or about 12s. per person, so that there is no case here of extravagance or of improper administration by the board of guardians. When we consider the expenditure of the country as a whole, it is surely the total amount of expenditure that we have to consider; it does not really matter whether it is local or whether it is national. On page 7 of the Financial Statement for the year there is given—I suppose because the Treasury realise the importance of this question of local taxation—a statement showing the amount of taxation that is raised locally, and it is interesting to note that the amount spent on Poor Law administration is by no means the greater part of it. People are very apt to exaggerate the cost of Poor Law administration in regard to local taxation. The amount raised locally in England and Wales was £147,000,000, of which £31,000,000 was spent on the relief of the poor, £31,000,000 on education, £9,000,000 on police, and £74,000,000 on other services.

181When we consider the expenditure of the country as a whole, and when we consider questions of economy, it is no economy simply to transfer certain burdens from local to national expenditure, just as it would be no economy to transfer them from national to local expenditure. What we want to consider is what is the best way in which those burdens may be borne, how they can have the least harmful effect upon productive industry, and whether, by easing a burden here or shifting it a little there, it may be possible to produce a good effect upon the general state of employment and prosperity in the country as a whole. When we come to consider the basis of local taxation, an entirely different aspect immediately confronts us. The basis of local taxation is really purely mediæval. I can imagine no one, except, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood)—who is entirely mediæval—thinking that it can be right to raise money for public services solely upon the basis of the assessable value of land. That idea belongs to a day, surely, when land was almost the only form of property in the world, when the occupation of land was a very reasonable and proper criterion of the capacity—

584″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: Is not land the only form of property whose value is created by the communal expenditure of the ratepayers’ money?

585″>Captain MACMILLAN: If I were to plunge too far into that controversy, I should probably be called to order, but I was trying to point out that, whereas the occupation or ownership of land might have been a reasonable criterion for the raising of money for public services in times gone by, in the present state of this country it is no longer a good criterion. When we really consider the proper solution of these problems, we must feel that this Government or some other will some day have to face the question whether the whole system of raising local taxation is not built upon an obsolete and mediæval foundation. Apart from that, we must realise that this method of raising the money required for local services throws an undue burden on productive industry. I have just quoted figures showing the increased cost of Poor Law relief this year as compared with last

182year in my own constituency. In addition, one works, rated at some £10,000 a, year, has gone into liquidation, another great works allied with it has also gone into liquidation, and there are three great works standing idle, so that you have, side by side with the increase in local expenditure, a reduction in the amount of assessable value from which the money can be raised. That is very serious for the great basic industries of the country, and I am bound to say that many people feel that in these questions the power of finance and the power of the rentier have been exercised unduly against the power of the entrepreneur and the power of the producer—that there is a real opposition between the interests of finance and the interests of productive industry, and that there has not been sufficient consideration by the bankers of the demands of the producer. The whole tendency of this method of raising taxation, if it goes on, must be to increase all the time the cost of the basic products.
I quite recognise that the Government are unable to produce, through the Goschen Committee or any other committee, a satisfactory expedient by way of subsidy to these necessitous areas, but I think the tune has come for a really careful consideration of the whole of the problems relating to local and national taxation. It may be possible to transfer altogether certain burdens from local to national expenditure, and that, of course, would mean that the control of that expenditure would have to be national control. After all, however, the way in which many of these burdens have grown up is quite arbitrary. In 1870, for instance, Parliament in its wisdom declared that all children should be educated at the public expense, and, in doing so, laid it down that part of the expenditure was to be borne by the National Exchequer and part was to be provided from local taxation. There is, however, no fixed and immutable law by which such a division should be made. It might have been argued that, since Parliament had declared that all children should be educated, it was up to Parliament to provide money for that purpose, and that it had no real right to throw that burden upon certain areas.
This problem, of course, would not be as pressing as it is if all England were divided into entirely homogeneous areas.

183The whole point is that the areas are not homogeneous—they are not of the same character. As the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) has often pointed out, there are areas where you have very many poor people living, as opposed to wealthier areas, but you have more than that. By our system of trade, and by our system of building up industries, which, of course, is based upon geographical reasons, you have in one area nearly always collected certain trades all of the same character. For instance, you have the shipbuilding areas, you have the areas of heavy industries, iron and steel and so on, and, therefore, when there is a slump in the particular industries in those areas, there is an undue burden for the time being. If all the country were divided for purposes of local taxation into parishes or areas which were of exactly the same character, it would not matter in the least, of course, whether the money was raised locally or nationally; the effect would be the same; but when you have both of these two factors existing side by side, when you have certain trades that are liable to great fluctuations collected in one part of the country, which, therefore, during a period of slump, has to carry unduly heavy burdens, it does become a question whether that situation could not be eased by shifting the burden from one shoulder to another.
I venture to think that this question will have to be faced, either by this Government or by some other Government, and we shall have to try, whether it be by altering the basis of local taxation from that of assessable value to an income basis, by shifting certain burdens entirely on to the National Exchequer, or by some other means, to check the tendency, which many of us view with alarm, towards the paradox that business to-day is profitable in inverse ratio to the number of men employed and the quantity of assessable land occupied. You have the extreme case of the professional man, perhaps employing one clerk and occupying one room rated at, say, £100 a year, making an income of, perhaps, £40,000 a year, while, so far as rates are concerned, he makes practically no contribution. On the other hand, you may have an unsuccessful business, occupying a large acreage of ground which is necessary for the purposes of

184the business, losing money, perhaps, in these times, year after year, and yet carrying this enormous burden, simply because the nature of the business requires the occupation of a large area of assessable land. This is a really serious problem in many industries, because the burden due to the necessity for the occupation of large areas of land makes it more and more difficult for them to meet competition in other countries. Therefore, I not only feel bound to express disappointment that the Government have been unable to find temporary expedients to help necessitous areas—upon which, however, I do not lay so much stress at this moment—but I venture to stress what seems to me to be the underlying problem of the whole matter, namely, that very soon some steps will have to be taken towards a general review of our system of taxation, particularly with a view to reducing as far as possible the burdens which now fall so heavily upon the great productive industries of this country.

586″>Mr. MONTAGUE: I think that the speech we have just heard, well informed and closely reasoned as it was, will be greatly appreciated on this side of the Committee. This question of national and local taxation is one in regard to which we on this side have a policy, and that is that in questions which are not local but are national in their character, such as the effect of unemployment, questions which have to do with national industry, and the various economic considerations that face the nation, the expenditure ought to be borne by the State. That point of view has been well put by the last speaker, but I would like to put to him one consideration in reference to it, and this also will be of interest, I think, to the hon. Member for North Paddington (Sir W. Perring). It is no use pointing out how rates are a handicap to industry, or how difficult it is for industries to compete when they are very highly rated locally, and at the same time to support the argument that is continually being put forward from the other side with regard to national taxation, that such taxation is a hindrance to industry in another way by interfering with the springs of capital and capital investment. If you are going to take the line that rating in local areas is a greater burden upon industry than taxation, then

185you are arguing for placing more taxation upon the nation, for placing more imposts upon the taxpayers of the country, and you have then to deal with the effect of that taxation upon industry in another way.
A few weeks ago during the Budget Debates the late Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out that 100 years ago the ratio of taxation to the national income, that is to say, to the income of the people of the nation, was about one-sixth, and to-day it is practically the same. The figures are £72,000,000 against £400,000,000 a 100 years ago, and to-day you have a Budget of £800,000,000 against a national income of £4,000,000,000. My right hon. Friend pointed out that the body of people enjoying the income can better afford to pay a sixth of a large income than of a small one. It is less a burden to pay one-sixth of an income of £4,000,000,000 than it is to pay taxation of a sixth upon an income of £400,000,000, so that, though we are going to take the burden for these national considerations, such as unemployment—these avenues of expenditure—away from where they obviously mean a great burden upon industry and place it upon the shoulders of the nation, that is, upon the general taxpayer, you must take into account the fact that the nation is not the poor nation it is alleged to be, that it is much richer proportionately than ever it was, that there is a far better case to be made for placing unemployment upon national taxation than there is for letting the burden of rates mount still higher, especially in those particular localities referred to.
I wanted to speak more particularly upon the larger question of unemployment in relation to the aspect of administration, which was touched upon by the opener of the Debate and also by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). The right hon. Gentleman’s speeches are extremely interesting nowadays. They remind me of the story of a nigger who was fishing from the deck of a ship. He caught a fish which was very heavy and pulled him into the sea. He scrambled back on deck and soliloquised, “I wonder whether this nigger am fishing or the damn fish an niggering.” That query rather suggested itself to me with regard to the tone of the speeches that are being made by one section at least of the Liberal party. I

186think it is the case of the fish niggering, and I do not think these advanced ideas that are being put forward will go very far from the standpoint of the political complexion of the House. What the hon. Member said on the subject of agricultural education and development was very important. In a speech he made some time ago he said the balance of imports over exports this year has turned. We find ourselves unable to sell as much as in our present plight we have to buy. I think the adverse balance is something like £400,000,000.
I know this question is involved with invisible exports and the rest of it, but it is a coincidence that that adverse balance is precisely the amount that we pay for foreign food. As I said yesterday—it is very curious that it is possible to go over some of the points that were dealt with on the Board of Trade Vote—and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs bore out, although the question of export trade is exceptionally important so long as you have to find the wherewithal by selling goods to buy the food that you do not grow for yourself, yet it would be far better that we should make ourselves more a food-growing country than we are at present. We are the only country which has not agriculture as its fundamental basis. Our agriculture is not really so fundamental as in most countries which, even in their export trade, are competing fairly successfully with us. It is only on the basis of a highly developed agriculture you can get prosperity and you can, at any rate, counteract the influence of the bad conditions of fluctuations of trade, of commerce, of wages, of industrial conditions, and so on in those European and Asiatic countries against which we are competing. It is important, therefore, that we should consider very carefully the possibility of training unemployed men for work upon the land, and I hope the Government will pay much closer attention to that subject. Surely, it is possible to get more accurate facts and figures and a closer idea of what is possible in the way of research in the utilisation of our land. We are told we could extend our food-growing capacity. That is obvious, because it has diminished very rapidly in recent years, and I believe with scientific and intensive cultivation, with the application of half or quarter to

187research that we put, for instance, into the development of poison gas, we should go very far in making ourselves independent of foreign countries with regard to our food supply.
That is one of the reasons why I feel very much concerned about this question of emigration. It is possibly necessary to pay attention to the question of emigration in many cases, but, from a fundamental point of view, surely it is not a, good thing that we should, first of all, encourage emigration to our Dominions when our own country is going out of cultivation year by year. The reason why it is a bad thing, in my opinion, is this. It is not a question of the emigration of the least capable or the least trained or the least physically fit. Our Dominions will not have such people. They want people who have some knowledge of farming, people who are physically strong, fine specimens of manhood capable of developing the Dominions. We cannot afford to lose those people and leave the less efficient behind. It may be necessary that some amount of emigration should take place, but our attention should surely be directed to using that good material on our own land and keeping this country and its stock as efficient as it could possibly be. I am aware that you cannot solve the agricultural problem by turning unemployed men loose in a field. I remember when the right hon. John Burns was President of the Local Government Board, the development of the Hollesley Bay Colony was turned down, I think, rather unfairly and unjustly, because of the essential difficulties that the President was faced with in endeavouring to solve a difficult problem, the problem of unemployment, destitution and inefficiency by the process of founding isolated agricultural colonies.
I do not think that is quite the way you have to do much more than that. There are certain difficulties that you have to consider. More and more with the development of modern society, the development of towns and the amenities of town life, with the taking of people for generations away from the land, there is a psychology that you have to deal with. The townsman does not like the isolation of the countryside; it is very difficult to get people voluntarily to set themselves to become agriculturists

188when it means isolation and conditions that are unfavourable in many ways, but particularly with regard to social life. You have to allow time for the training of the men. You have to find money for it. You have to get the best expert advice, which the Government ought to be able to do, in order to make them able efficiently to cultivate the soil. Then you have to deal with the question of putting them on the land. Housing has been referred to, but it is more than a question of housing. Why is it not possible, side by side with this policy of Britain for the British, cultivating the land and training our men for agricultural pursuits, to get back some of those subsidiary industries for the countryside? There is the making of boxes and wicker baskets and a thousand and one things subsidiary to agriculture. Why should they all be done in the towns? Why should not they be done in the villages and places which will make it possible for a different kind of life to be led from that of the old type of agricultural labourer?
During the War you got over a similar difficulty with German prisoners. You put them upon the soil 25 miles away from a town. You got motor lorries to take them out in the morning and bring them back at night. You have to consider the possibility of spreading the population out and not merely putting them on the land and letting the thing solve itself, because it will not do it, but you have to take hold of the question on practical lines. I welcome the line of discussion that has taken place to-day. It is very important indeed. I am not arguing against doing all you can in developing our export trade. My opinions are pretty well known. Under the circumstances, we have to do our best to develop and restore our foreign trade, but you are not going to be so successful as you were in the 19th century, because other nations have become industrialised on the top of a more efficient agriculture than we possess. That is a very serious consideration. If we make the best use of our land agriculturally, on practical and scientific lines, it will be far better than merely trusting to private enterprise and the scramble for profits in order to solve problems of this character. You will not solve them in that way.

189I should like to say a word with regard to the inefficiency and the badness of State interference and State regulation in industrial matters. This applies to the question of agriculture and any administrative action that can be taken with regard to research and the training of agricultural workers. No one on this side, be he ever so much a Socialist, denies the disadvantages of State interference. No one denies that State control, in the sense of bureaucratic departmentalism, can be carried too far, and is often very bad. Our point of view is that even with its badness it is much better than the waste of efficiency in many sides of our present individual enterprise system. With regard to the larger and general question, we are ready as Socialists to discuss with the Government side how to overcome the difficulties and how to make State regulations and State control of national industry consistent with such co-operative autonomy as is possible.
It is no argument against State control or Socialism merely to say that it means bureaucracy—it may do—but if the best men in the nation, especially the best business minds, apply themselves particularly to the fact that it is impossible to solve many of these peculiar industrial problems by leaving them entirely to private enterprise, then we can get together and find how we can counteract the admitted disadvantages of State interference with and Government control over industry. We want to find some way in which we can serve public ends and coordinate and apply production and distribution in a scientific manner. It need not be by the bureaucratic methods that are suggested. We on this side, as Socialists, do not believe in bureaucracy. We want scientific consideration of things, and it is not sufficient merely to leave the question to settle itself. We must apply the mind of the nation scientifically to bring to a solution all these problems, which are very complex and essentially national.

587″>Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN: I do not propose to take up much of the time of the House, because the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Charles Edwards) has given a startling set of figures in regard to the situation which has arisen in some of our industrial districts, and has pretty-well covered the ground. With the hon.

190Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Captain Macmillan) I am sorry that the Goschen Committee could not find a way out of the difficulty in which we find ourselves in the necessitous areas. In the district where I come from the poor rate at the present time, without allowing anything for interest and repayment of loans, is soaring somewhere in the region of 10s. in the £. The right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) said that in regard to one of the necessitous districts—Sheffield—the trouble there was that people went into the Sheffield area because of certain work that was required to be done during the War and that when the War ended the work came to an end, they could not find employment and they were not adapted for other kinds of work.
What applies to Sheffield applies to an area like Bedwellty and other industrial valleys in South Wales, especially the Pontypridd Poor Law area, which embraces the Parliamentary Divisions of Rhondda and Pontypridd. A large number of men were brought into that district during the War to replace men who had left and also to produce a greater quantity of coal for the needs of the nation during the War. Suddenly, at the beginning of 1921, we found 14,000 men who had been employed at the collieries in the Pontypridd Poor Law Union thrown out of work, because the collieries had come to a standstill through no further work being available, and they were too poor to carry it on. In that small area we had 14,000 men who in consequence of their unemployment became dependent either on the Unemployment Insurance Fund or upon the Poor Law Union for their maintenance. These men who are unemployed are settled in the district and there is no other work for them to do. We are not like Sheffield, where there are other industries. In the Rhondda Valley and in the Pontypridd area we have only the coal mining industry. We have no side-lines there; we are dependent upon coal mining for employment for our people.
The problem with which we are confronted has not been brought upon us by our own action; it was forced upon us during the War. The hon. and gallant Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser) paid a very high eulogy to the successive Governments with regard to what they

191have done for the ex-service man, and asserted that the pledges that were made during the War in regard to employment had been carried out. I am exceedingly sorry that I cannot endorse that commendation, and I will apply one test to show that successive Governments have not carried out their pledges. In the Pontypridd Poor Law area last week there were over 1,200 ex-service men receiving Poor Law relief. I am not alluding to able-bodied men. The hon. Member said that it could not be proved that, in respect to anyone who had done service and had been disabled in the War, the pledges in regard to him had not been carried out. What is his reply to the situation that exists in the Pontypridd area? These ex-service men were in receipt of Poor Law relief.

588″>Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS: Without pension?

589″>Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN: They are disabled men. Over 800 are certified to be disabled to the extent of between 4 per cent. and 9 per cent. and 400 are certified to be disabled to the extent of from 14 per cent, to 19 per cent. Any man who is disabled between 4 per cent. and 9 per cent. or 14 per cent. and 19 per cent. cannot follow his occupation as a coal miner. It is unfair that the Pontypridd Union should have to bear the Burden of these 1,200 men who are certified to be disabled as a result of the War.
The right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) spoke of the necessity of having joint control between the Ministries of Labour, Pensions and Health. The Labour party have been advocating that for years. In this case, surely, the Ministry of Labour could find some employment for these men, and relieve them of the stigma of having to receive Poor Law relief after having served during the War. They are no longer fit for the coal mining industry. They could not go back even if the mining industry was ever so prosperous, because of the disability from which they suffer. I would urge that there should be coordination of the Departments in this matter. I am profoundly disappointed that the Goschen Committee was not successful in finding’ a solution for the troubles from which we have been suf-

192fering from 1921, through circumstances over which we have no control. We have from 5,000 to 6,000 people in receipt of Poor Law relief to-day. It is manifestly unfair that the extra burden of maintenance should be cast upon the locality in respect of men who are suffering as a result of their war service. We maintain that the burden ought to be borne nationally rather than locally.

590″>7.0 P.M.

591″>Mr. RYE: During the last Debate on this subject considerable stress was laid by Members opposite on the question of the wealthy boroughs in the Metropolitan area not contributing adequately towards the needs of the poor in the poorer districts. Particular mention was made of the City of Westminster. The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Miss Lawrence), said, very truly, that Westminster is a very important and wealthy city, and suggested that that city was not doing its duty by the poorer areas. It is only fair that the fact should be known that Westminster does contribute heavily to the poorer boroughs within the Metropolitan area. In the City of Westminster—I speak for it because I happen to be a member of the City Council—we had an aggregate assessable value at the last quinquennial valuation of over £9,000,000, and last year we raised, by a rate of 9s. 9d. in the pound, £4,036,000. Of that £4,036,000 and of that rate of 9s. 9d. in the pound, the City of Westminster paid away to the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, and under the Equalisation of Rates Act, 1894, over £900,000. It was equivalent to 2s. 3d. in the pound on the rateable value. I venture to suggest that Westminster has done its duty well to the poorer areas.

592″>Mr. LANSBURY: The point was that though dealing with the poorer districts in the county of London, like East and West Ham and Tottenham, those outside the county get nothing at all from the rich parts of London within the county.

593″>Mr. RYE: I agree with the hon. Member that the position is a very anomalous one. The position is that within the Metropolitan area, where there are 28 boroughs, this contribution is made to the Metropolitan Poor Law Fund. But that does not alter the fact that the suggestion was made, that Westminster, this very wealthy and influential city, was not

193doing its duty to the present area. Of 9s. 9d. in the pound rates in this city, 2s. 3d. in the pound is paid away to the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund and under the Equalisation of Rates Act. It may interest the Committee to know that, so far as the actual domestic requirements of the city are concerned, all they need is £522,000 for lighting, paving, baths, and other domestic requirements. In addition to that, all they need for their own guardians is £118,000, making a total of £640,000 out of the very large total of £4,036,000. All the rest is paid away to outside bodies. Part goes to the Metropolitan Asylums Board, £260,000; part to the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, £756,000; the London County Council for the General Rate took £772,000; for Education £980,000, for Equalisation of Rates £169,000, and for Metropolitan Police £434,000. These are the figures for 1925–26. Therefore, the Committee will appreciate the fact that, although Westminster is a very wealthy city and a very large sum of money is raised, it is raised to a large extent for the benefit of outside bodies. It may be said that it would be possible even to increase the rates and give a further contribution to the poorer areas. I want to point out, however, that although there are very many wealthy people in the city and many important buildings, there is also the fact that there is a considerable poor area in the Pimlieo district, and any increase of assessment and the raising of rates would affect materially and prejudice the poorer people within this great city. I suggest therefore that Westminster has done its duty very nobly to those in need of material assistance.

594″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: It is perhaps inevitable that, in a Debate of this description, a large number of speeches should be devoted to painting to the Committee the terrible conditions of some of our districts at the present time. I am not oblivious to the fact that half of my unfortunate constituents at the present moment are on the Poor Law, and cannot live except for Poor Law assistance. There has been in the course of this Debate a long series of speeches not merely deploring and pointing out the present inequities, but also making suggestions to the Government of very valuable and possible reforms. I hope the Parlia-

194mentary Secretary, when he replies, will deal with the points raised in some of those speeches. We have had suggestions not only from the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), but from various other Members, of lines on which it might be possible to train more people for work on the land and to make it easier for people who want to cultivate the land to get on that land.
We have also heard a very valuable suggestion made as to the necessity of reforming in some way our system of local taxation. There has been the suggestion, for instance, that London rates should be equalised more fully than they are to-day, and no man painted a truer or more sombre picture of local government in the poorer districts of London than the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones). The case that was made out for the spreading of the burden of unemployment throughout greater London rather than leaving it localised as it is at present would take a great deal of answering from the Government benches. The hon. Member opposite who sits for Loughborough (Mr. Rye) and represents Westminster has pointed out, quite clearly, that Westminster has done its duty. I would like to point out to him and to the Committee that I wish I was quite so certain that the Duke of Westminster is doing his duty. Nothing personal is meant. Obviously, we have got to get greater resources for these authorities.

595″>Mr. RYE: When the right hon. Gentleman states that the Duke of Westminster is not doing his duty or inquires whether he is or is not, may I draw attention to the fact that the Duke of Westminster recently in effect gave the City of Westminster an important site for a housing scheme.

596″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: I was only using his name as an illustration in connection with revenue for those local authorities. It is well known that the ground landlords contribute not one penny piece to the rates, either in Westminster or elsewhere. When we hear of the poverty of those districts, I wish the Government would remember that it is possible to supplement the revenue by calling on the owners of ground rents to make a small contribution to the local

195exchequer. It would be a mere measure of justice, and would tend to make it more possible for those local authorities to make both ends meet. It is well known that in Scotland the ground landlords do contribute to the rates, a small amount it is true; but in England so far they are exempt, and, if it be necessary to supplement the revenues of those boroughs, I would submit there is a source ready to tax, and justly available for local needs. The Government themselves, as a result of the Coal Commission’s Report, have decided to adopt one of the points in that valuable document, that the royalty owners should contribute definitely 5 per cent. tax upon their royalties towards the welfare fund. The expenditure of the rates is the communal welfare fund, and we might work for a similar contribution by that particular class of property owner to the local necessities of the different boroughs, not only in the East End of London but in Westminster also. I feel certain that the hon. Member who sits for Loughborough would be only too glad to see the revenues of Westminster increased, so that we might have a town even more beautiful, well kept, well dusted, and looked after than it is at present.
By far the most illuminating speech of all came from the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Captain Macmillan). He was speaking to the Committee in accents and language and voice that reminded me of our late colleague here, Sir Leo Chiozza Money. He made out an irresistible case for the revision of local taxation. I did not think the hon. and gallant Member for Stock-ton-on-Tees was quite aware of the basis of our local taxation, but at any rate he did realise that the principal curse of this present system of local taxation is that it levies a specially heavy burden upon productive industry and upon housing. I, who sit for a district which is very largely a mining district, would emphasise his argument by saying that in North Staffordshire the rates on the colliery companies are a large factor in making the getting of coal in that district unprofitable. The very heavy local rates levied on the collieries, and upon iron and steel works at Shelton Park mean the producing of goods in this country at a price which cannot compete with neutral markets overseas. The rates are

196added as an overhead charge to the cost of production. They make industry after industry unprofitable, and yet it requires a Debate such as this for an hon. Member on the Conservative benches to point out to the Government that it is this extraordinary heavy burden of local rates on factories and productive industries that creates unemployment, throws our men out of work, and makes it more difficult for us to recover our proper place in the trade of the world.
I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health is present. I wish he had been present when the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton-on-Tees was making his speech. Cannot he in the near future take a hint from his own followers behind and make a change in local taxation which would be of inestimable benefit to British trade and would help to reduce unemployment? Last year in the passage of a certain Bill, he took steps to relieve machinery of half the local rating. Unfortunately, the burden which was taken off the shoulders of productive industry in that case was transferred to the rest of the ratepayers and in fact was spread to other forms of industry. Everyone of his arguments in recommending that change to the House were arguments on all fours with the argument used by the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton-on-Tees, and he showed that it was those rates on machinery which added to the cost of production and increased unemployment. He took his courage in both hands, divided his party very largely and carried that proposal. Cannot he go further?
Here is the coal trade in a particularly bad condition, but the iron and steel trade is almost as uncomfortably placed at the present time. Those two industries feel the burden of local rates more than any other. Why cannot he just consider what Birmingham would have done 30 years ago. Thirty years ago Birmingham would have been in the forefront of the argument that rates should be taken off buildings, improvements and factories, and placed upon land value, which is the creation of communal effort. There you have a just and advantageous basis; just, because the value of the land is created by the community and not by the owner—and I attach more importance to justice than to anything else—and advantageous,

197because by placing the burden there you relieve industry, you encourage employment, and you cheapen production. Speaker after speaker in this Debate has put forward the contention that if we are really to get to the root of the unemployed problem we shall have to get more people back on to the land. Most people, even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, look upon it solely as a question of the Government spending money to acquire the land and make it good, and training the men to work it. There is the other side as well.
Can we not, instead of merely assisting men to get on to the land, assist the present owners to use their land and ask the men to go there. At the present moment land that is badly used, whether it is urban or rural land, land that is allowed to grow thistles, to go out of cultivation, land that is only a receptacle for dead cats and empty tins, is the property of the worst citizens in the country, for that land in proportion to its uselessness, or rather in proportion to the bad use made of it, escapes its rates and local taxation. We, therefore, meet the arguments put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton. on-Tees (Captain Macmillan)—the reform of local taxation and the relief of producing industries—we meet the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Captain Fraser), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury)—the desirability of getting more men on the land—and we meet the argument of the hon. Member for Silver-town (Mr. J. Jones)—the exhausted resources of these small, poor local authorities—by persuading the Minister of Health to change the basis of local taxation and levy his rates, not as at present in a form that penalises industry and helps landlords to keep their land idle, but in a way which will free industry completely from these burdens and lay the burdens themselves upon those people who have it in their power not only to keep the land idle but to keep Englishmen idle too. Let him levy his rates upon them so that there will be a stimulus to them to use their land, or to sell it to someone who will use it.

597″>Mr. DEAN: I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, but I notice that as a means of meeting the unemployment

198of this country the question of agriculture has been referred to. Previous speakers, including the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), have given the House the impression that people did not go on to the land because the land could not employ them, that if you only made it more attractive you would get men to go on to the land. I do not think the Committee quite understands the position. It has been said that there is far less land under cultivation now than there was immediately after the War. Why is that? I know that immediately after the War all classes of the community were willing to go on to the land, they were willing to put their capital into the land and employ labour, but the result has been, and I know it from personal experience, that the capital which has been invested in this way has not made a profitable return. And that is one of the reasons why land is gradually going out of cultivation. Another reason is that the agricultural worker is paid a less wage than almost any other trade in the country. We have heard a great deal as to how we are to get the unemployed back to the land, but does the Committee realise that the unemployed youth is now leaving the land; and little blame to him. As one who has lived in an agricultural district I am proud of the young men we rear in the country, and we generally find that if they go to the towns and seek employment they get that employment. What attraction is there to-day in the present circumstances? You may educate your boys but unless you give them some attraction to return to the land I am afraid you will get very few of them back. It is suggested that if we cultivated more land we should find more employment, but at the present time we cannot get sufficient labour to work the land that is already in cultivation. That is the condition of agriculture at the present moment.

598″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: Thirty bob a week.

599″>Mr. DEAN: I agree, and that is one of the things of which I am complaining. But does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the farmer to-day in the present conditions, and in certain districts, can pay

199more than 30s. a week? I know a great many farmers who are paying 30s. a week, and they would be richer if they did not employ any labour, but let the land go out of cultivation. They are too patriotic for that and cling to all the land they are cultivating.

600″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: Will you let the labourers have the land instead?

601″>Mr. DEAN: If the right hon. Member would only wait he would find that I am going to make a suggestion. It is that we should encourage small occupying ownership; and I will tell the Committee why I make that suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs quoted one or two instances of men going to Canada and starting their holdings there. They have been successful. Those are more or less exceptional cases. You will never get people to remain on the land, or go back to the land, unless you can give them an incentive, something that is their own, something to which they can look forward. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) seems to think that it is the landlords who are standing in the way of the occupying owner to-day. Perhaps without being conceited I may say that I know a little more about country districts and the rural conditions than he does, and I do not think you will find many landlords who will stand in the way of the occupying owner. But where you cannot get an occupying ownership you may have a tenancy under the county council. I quite agree that where you have a tenancy the man should have a bit of land. A bit of land has a curious attraction for a tenant. If the man is only a tenant he works for a master, and at the end of five or six years, whether he leaves or not, he is always afraid that either the master may not like him or that he will not like the master, and he does not take any real interest in his holding.
A great many cottages have been built by county councils, and it has always struck me how few of these council houses have been made to look like real homes. They have not been made to look like real homes because of the uncertainty of the tenancy. If we can only have small cottage holdings by which these men can become owners there will then be no

200difficulty, and there would be no question in a few years of the men being turned out of their homes. I have discussed this question with some of my hon. Friends and they say, “Yes, but supposing a farmer dismisses that man, what is he going to do?” That man is living in his own home, and you cannot turn him out. He will work for another master. But if you are going to put him in simply as a tenant, and the master does not like him, he can be turned out. I think it is absolutely necessary in certain cases that there should be tied houses, but I do not think that is the best way of improving rural conditions and getting people back to the land. I hope the Government will make a great effort to push forward the policy of occupying ownership. It is going to be the work of years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs by his scheme will never solve unemployment, and he will never get more people on to the land. The Labour party talk about bringing people back to the land, but unless they are going to make that land profitable men will not go back in spite of anything they may do.
We have to be united on this question. This is no party question. We must all do all we can to make rural life happy, and get men of all classes back to the land. If we are united we may do a great deal, but as long as we are divided you will see the industry of agriculture in a decaying condition, with less and less people on the land. One of the reasons why land is not better cultivated to-day is because you cannot get sufficient labour to cultivate it in an efficient manner. My hon. and gallant Friend opposite says, “Yes, at 30s. a week.” Does he suggest that you should protect a man’s wages and that when that man has produced a commodity you are going to sell it in a free market when other countries can produce the same commodity at a cheaper price?

602″>Mr. CECIL WILSON: I am sure that many on this side of the Committee will agree with much that the last speaker has said. It is somewhat unfortunate that in debating this question we should be without the Report to which the Minister of Health referred last week. If I understood aright what he said, it was that the Goschen Committee had come to the conclusion that none of the

201suggestions made were at all practicable for giving assistance to necessitous areas. It is somewhat unfortunate that the terms of reference to the Goschen Committee should have been too narrow, for the Committee was limited to considering any scheme which might be submitted to it. The terms of reference did not suggest that the Committee should make any suggestion other than a suggestion based on one or other of those schemes. Therefore, it would not appear that the consideration which they gave to the subject could be wide enough to cover what is really required. Even if it had been wide enough, it may be that the Government would think that there was nothing which could possibly bring about a solution of the problem.
I suppose we may take it, from what the right hon. Gentleman said, that so far as any assistance to the necessitous areas is concerned, in the direction which has been suggested here from time to time, it is really finished with, and that if relief were in any way suggested, the Government would be inclined to say that they could not go any further in that way. We are all agreed that there is a very considerable amount of difficulty which would have to be overcome. In one way or another grants have been given and a great deal has been done for the relief of unemployment. But we have all to recognise that the schemes which have been put forward from time to time, while they have lessened the total of unemployed somewhat, have still left us with 1,000,000 people out of work. Some four or five years ago the Minister of Labour in the Coalition Government said that, so far as he could see, after the War there would be at least 800,000 people more or less continually unemployed. We have not got down to that figure yet, but we are finding it exceedingly difficult to get the total reduced. I am sure that there is a general feeling in the House that we should ask ourselves whether there is nothing more that we can do in directions other than that in which we have hitherto gone.
In 1919 the then Prime Minister called a special conference of representatives of workers and employers—what was called the Joint Industrial Committee—and the Chairman of that Committee, the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R.

202Horne), at the first sitting, expressed the view that the assembly had no parallel in our history. He regarded it as a body which might make extremely valuable suggestions towards difficulties which were then foreseen. That Committee presented a Report of a very valuable character. It was very quickly drawn up, and it mentioned under their respective heads a number of things which the Committee thought might be done in order to meet the then difficulty. The Committee dealt with unemployment and with a number of other matters in close relationship to it. There was a special Report presented by the Labour members of the Committee on the causes of unrest and the remedies.
It is truly said that there is to-day a great deal of feeling of a character very similar to that which existed at the time when that Committee was instructed to report. We meet here to discuss this question again and again, without making anything in the way of real progress. We have almost got into the way of feeling that the numbers of unemployed must continue and that there is no solution. But none of us can regard it as in any way satisfactory that this Parliament, with all its possibilites and powers, should be discussing this question again and again and yet getting no nearer to anything in the way of a solution of the problem. I want to ask whether it is possible for us to get back again to the spirit of 1919, when that Conference met and the Committee reported, whether if there were a somewhat similar conference now, with an equally wise chairman, we might not get more in the way of finding some solution. I do not suggest that we should have a conference confined to the discussions of 1919. We should in no way limit the outlook or inquiry which the Committee might make. There are tremendous difficulties to be faced. There would require to be the very beet possible spirit. But this problem is one of such magnitude that the time has gone by for any quarrel about particular methods. I do not think it is a question for the House alone to deal with. There are many people outside whose assistance and advice we should be only too glad to make use of, people who would be able to give very valuable contributions. I throw this out as a suggestion, and possibly some good may come of it.

 

203603″>Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE: There have been several suggestions from both sides of the Committee, that what we want to do is to get as many men as possible on the land. There is certainly no disagreement on that point. The only difficulty is that no concrete solution has been put forward by any of the speakers. Although I do not pretend to be able to put forward a panacea for all the land difficulties, I can mention one or two difficulties from which the land is suffering. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) spoke of the large amount of agricultural produce that we get from abroad, and the sum mentioned was £400,000,000. He suggested that possibly £100,000,000 worth of that might be grown and sold in this country. It will be universally agreed that that would be a good thing, but unfortunately I did not see from his speech how it could be accomplished. The bulk of the produce that we get from abroad is corn produce, and that produce is the hardest to grow in this country as a paying proposition. Climate difficulties are well known, and it is a fact that as a whole bakers prefer foreign wheat to English wheat in making bread. The British farmer has to face competition in the weather in getting as good a grain of corn as his foreign competitors produce.
There are other difficulties. The Government can certainly encourage the growing of arable produce in this country. Nearly all corn—wheat, flour and biscuits to a certain extent—obtained by Government contract is foreign. All such contracts should be placed in this country. That would certainly assist the corn producer. There is one good thing which the Government are doing. They are encouraging the growing of wheat of a nature which is comparable with the foreign-grown wheat at the establishment at Cambridge. I hope very much that when this wheat is proved, it will be equal to the best. foreign wheat. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs mentioned that he liked the systems of Denmark and Holland, and he referred to those two countries as Free Trade agricultural countries. Denmark is not a Free Trade country, nor is Holland. Denmark is entirely an agricultural country, and, therefore, it puts tariff duties on just those commodities that suit it. It is a very flat country. Within its area are, I

204believe, only two hills, about 500 feet high, and there are practically no industries.
There is practically no produce brought in from abroad, and therefore all the resources of the co-operative movement in that country can be employed to sell their produce abroad. Where co-operation fails in agriculture in our case is that we are constantly swamped by the importation of foreign produce into this country, a factor which has upset all the systems of co-operation so far started here. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) made the suggestion that the labourer should own land. I think all Members on this side would be very glad to see the real agricultural labourer owning land, but, like all his party, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman refuses to face the practical difficulties. Another hon. Member talked about scientific co-operation. It is these theories, unsupported by any practical suggestions, which make the agriculturist so tired of being preached at constantly. Quite naturally, they look to see the result of experiments which have been made in small holdings.
I was privileged recently to see the result of the settlement of some ex-Service men on the land in Kent. The holdings were excellent in many respects. The total acreage was about 700 acres and the small holdings ranged in size from about 15 acres to 50 acres. They were of a very suitable size, it was good land, and there was an excellent market available, namely, London. But there is this difficulty, that the money expended in buildings and in other ways on the small holdings caused a loss on the 700 acres of about £l,000 a year to the county. If the Government are going to repeat that all over the country it means a very large total loss. In addition to that, there is a more serious consideration and that is the capital which each of these men requires in order to make the small holding a paying proposition. The amount of capital varied roughly from about £1,000 to £2,000 each and the man with £2,000 in his small holding was better off than the man with only £1,000. From that it will be seen the enormous expense and difficulty involved in getting small holdings going all over the

205country. They had one advantage; they did employ more men on this land than were employed before the small holdings were started. But the capital which each individual must have, and the interest on the money which the authorities have to borrow, are difficulties in the way of making small holdings on a large scale a paying proposition.
It is well to recognise the reasons why the country is unpopular as compared with the town. Lower wages are mentioned as one of the causes, but there are other minor reasons which accumulate. There is the question of the distance which the children have to travel to school, and the general educational difficulties. There is the loneliness of the wives who very often have been brought up in towns, and hon. Members will probably know of cases in which a man who has been doing well on the land has been persuaded to leave the country by his wife. Perhaps the wireless and omnibuses will do something by bringing the towns closer. There is another difficulty in which the Government can help us, and that is the housing difficulty. So far, neither the Chamberlain scheme nor the Labour Government’s scheme have helped rural areas much. The houses which have been built in rural areas have been very close to the towns and have been largely occupied by townspeople. A scheme should be started to encourage the building of houses in purely agricultural areas. The landlord system, so much decried by the Labour party, and crippled by the taxation of the Liberal party, had this advantage, that it did build houses in order to meet the growing needs of the agricultural areas. What is more, where the estate was of the proper size, there was a squad of builders, plumbers and other workers to keep the houses in proper repair and not until taxation crippled the landlords did that system fail. It is possible in certain cases to continue it, but that is generally in cases where the landlord has an income derived from other sources, or is interested in other businesses. That shows that the whole matter in connection with the land is very largely a matter of capital, and it is difficult to see how the Labour party’s solution, namely, nationalisation, can succeed.

206The question of rates has already been raised. Rates bear very heavily on the country, and are increasing in the country as in the towns. The road rate is very heavy, and, as in many other things, the farmer does not see that the road rate brings him in a fair return for the money he is paying. When the farmer is so near the border line, I think he should receive special terms in regard to rates. All sides will agree that the agricultural industry is worse hit than perhaps any industry except coal mining. There is a certain similitude between coal mining and agriculture in that the coal mining difficulty is partly one of housing and the agricultural difficulty is also partly one of housing. If there is any one thing which the Minister can do to help agriculture, I would ask him to do as much as he can to facilitate the building of small cottages in the country.

604″>Mr. BARKER: I want to make a personal appeal to the Minister with reference to the housing in my constituency. The Blaina area has been very badly hit by unemployment for the past five years, and practically no houses have been built there in that period. The housing conditions are deplorable and have been condemned by the county medical officer, while there have been several serious epidemics. I have made personal efforts to get the Minister to receive a deputation from the local authorities, but up to the present without success. The Minister will not say “yes” or “no,” but the deputation is denied access to him in London. I understand he is sending down an inspector.

605″>The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Attlee): I may point out to the hon. Member that this Vote deals with unemployment. Does he intend to connect this subject with unemployment?

606″>Mr. BARKER: I was going to point out that it is through unemployment that this housing difficulty has arisen because the Minister, owing to the poverty of the area, has refused to sanction a loan. I wish to emphasise, with all courtesy, what I have already said, and I want the Minister to accede to the request which has been made to him by the local authorities. They are not satisfied to be represented by proxy, especially when the proxy is representing himself rather than the authorities. The question of unemployment has been continually

207before the House of Commons since 1920, and the Minister of Health has acted in more than one capacity with reference to this question. I remember when a deputation, one of the largest which ever waited upon a Minister, waited upon the Prime Minister of the Coalition Government to ask relief for necessitous areas, and one of the strongest spokesmen on that deputation in favour of relief for the necessitous areas was the present Minister of Health. Now he has changed his attitude.
We have brought before the House of Commons on many occasions the condition of these areas, the inhabitants of which are treated as if they were living in penal settlements. Unemployment increases their poverty and, at the same time, increases their local taxation. Opinions have been expressed from all quarters on the question of local taxation, but nothing is being done. A Committee has been set up by the Government and a Report has been made, but the Report is not available to Members of the House and we do not know what are the findings of the Committee. We do know, however, that the misery in these areas is beyond description and why people should be singled out for treatment of this kind in a highly civilised country like ours passes my humble comprehension. It does not matter how many times the question is brought before the House of Commons; a day is appointed, a number of speeches are made and the end is always the same. Nothing whatever is done and the people of these areas are left in a deplorable condition. Industries are being shut down very largely through the increase in the local burden of rates.
The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Charles Edwards) in a forcible speech has given striking figures which ought to receive the serious attention of the Minister. In the Bedwellty area they have paid £500,000 during the last five years to relieve unemployment alone, and the condition of the area is no better now than it was two or three years ago. As a matter of fact, owing to the present lock-out, the whole area is now unemployed. Yet the Government in this Vote are actually reducing the amount for this purpose by £325,000. That reflects no credit on the Government, and the money saved to the national Exchequer will

208simply increase the local rates. Reference is made in the Vote to juvenile employment, a question which affects my constituency very seriously. For the last four years every boy upon reaching the age of 14 has been turned out of the school and has been unable to get any employment. We have hundreds, if not thousands of boys, who are not receiving education, who are not receiving unemployment benefit and who cannot get employment of any kind. They are to be seen every day half clothed and half fed going with sacks on their backs to pick up pieces of coal at some old “tip”
8.0 P.M.
The condition of the young men in these areas is a disgrace to the country. Nothing is being done to educate them, to find them employment or to train them for employment. Nothing is done for them until they are upwards of 20 years of age. That is a very short-sighted, stupid and cruel policy. These boys ought to be kept at school or trained for some employment. There should be some effort made to maintain these boys, because they are not entitled to unemployment benefit, and it is almost impossible in an area like Bedwellty to get any relief for them from the Poor Law. These are very grave questions. They are questions that are causing tremendous unrest in this country. There is not the slightest doubt that the upheavals that we are seeing day after day are the result of the ignoring of these very profound questions by this House, and it makes one almost despair to get up in this House, month after month and year after year, and recite these terrible details, and to find the Government absolutely callous and deaf and doing nothing whatever to relieve the situation. I should like to refer to other matters in this connection, but I am afraid I should not be in order. There is a matter which arises really out of unemployment, and that is the way in which the Ministry of Health are refusing to lend loans to education authorities and retarding—

607″>The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope): I am afraid the prevision of the hon. Member was right.

608″>Mr. BARKER: I am sorry. I did not want to transgress, but I should like to have brought that matter forward, because it is a very serious one to my

209constituents. I will conclude by making a really honest appeal to the Minister to give deputations access to the Ministry, so that they can themselves lay their grievances before him. It is quite impossible for this work to be done by proxy, however good an officer the right hon. Gentleman may send down to the localities. It will not satisfy these local authorities, and I think they ought to have more generous treatment, and at any rate they should have access to the Minister when they want to come and see him.

609″>Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN: If there be any hon. Member—and I do not think there is one, unless it be my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour—who has sat right through this Debate, he will, I think, sympathise with me in my difficulty in trying to clear my mind as to what it is that I have to answer. Hon. Members seem to have been in considerable doubt as to the subject of the Vote which we are supposed to be discussing, and I cannot help observing that more than one hon. and right hon. Gentleman seemed to have no further interest in the Debate after he had discharged his speech. I am glad to be able to except from that observation the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), who opened this Debate and who is mainly responsible for the fact that we are continuing this Debate to-day. He wanted to have another shot and tell us a little more about his ideas in connection with Hollesley Bay. I have the fullest sympathy, and I am in accord, with the hon. Member in his general theory that no system is satisfactory which attempts to deal with unemployed men simply by giving them enough to live upon but without finding them any work to do. I agree with that position, but, of course, the problem which faces this Government, as it has faced every Government in succession, is really, on the general question of unemployment, to try to find work for people who cannot find work in the trades in which they have been accustomed to work. The situation is, no doubt, specially complicated by the fact that the intervention of the War brought about a situation in which a large number of young men have never had any specialised training and have never had the oppor-

210tunity, which has been given to young men in the past, of learning a trade. We find ourselves, therefore, in the presence of a considerable number of men who, in normal and ordinary times, would have been skilled men, but who to-day are absolutely unskilled and, therefore, are waiting upon that particular part of the market in which there is the greatest superabundance.
The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) says that the one industry in which there is room for any number of these men is on the land. His chief object, I think, in intervening in this Debate was to give a little further fillip to that land policy which has had such a disastrous effect upon his own party, but he did not tell us to-day, and he never has told us, how you are going to enable the people whom he is going to put on the land to make a living out of it. It is not the slightest use to talk about Denmark and to say that if we had the same number of people in proportion to our population engaged in agriculture as has Denmark, we should not have any unemployed. Of course we should not, but we have to face the facts of the situation as they are to-day, and the fact is this, that Denmark has got its market, and has got it in this country. If we are going to replace Denmark and take the market for ourselves, either we have got to have Protection and to keep the Danish produce out, or else we have got, somehow or other, to find some way of producing here more cheaply than they can produce in Denmark. We have had no help from the right hon. Gentleman on either of those two points, and until he can show us how we are going to enable the people who are going to be taken out of the towns and given a six months’ course of training to earn a livelihood on the land by producing more cheaply than that highly organised and specialised nation, Denmark, I, for one, cannot treat his remedy very seriously. Let me come back to the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. He keeps mixing up two classes of people. He talks about the spirit of adventure which used to carry the old explorers out to every part of the globe, and which now, according to him, animates the ordinary tramp.

610″>Mr. LANSBURY: No, I meant the person who nowadays is the well-to-do tramp, who goes round in a yacht or a

211steamship and shoots tigers and wild game and so on—the same spirit, in a very different sense.

611″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Perhaps there is a certain amount of truth in that. At any rate, I agree that there is quite a considerable percentage of the tramps who prefer that style of life to any other. The hon. Member tells us that nowadays there are going to the boards of guardians able-bodied men who, in the ordinary course, would have found work in a skilled trade—

612″>Mr. LANSBURY: Or unskilled.

613″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:—Or unskilled, but the difference between Hollesley Bay and the sort of colony which alone has a chance of success is that Hollesley Bay is filled with people who never, under any circumstances, could develop into suitable agricultural workers.

614″>Mr. LANSBURY indicated dissent

615″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The hon. Member shakes his head, but that is what I think is the explanation of Hollesley Bay’s non-success.

616″>Mr. LANSBURY: Will the right hon Gentleman go down with me and see?

617″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I should like very much to go down to Hollesley Bay, either with or without the hon. Member, but I am afraid that he cannot get over the fact, which I pointed out the other day, that out of the people who are at Hollesley Bay only an infinitesimal proportion can be found work on the land. I say that you must contrast what has happened at Hollesley Bay with the comparative success which appears to be attending the Ministry of Labour at Laindon. There you have got a colony where people are selected with a view to giving them a training either for oversea settlement or for work on the land. The hon. Member does not want people to go overseas, but I see an hon. Member immediately behind him who thinks that that is the best chance. At any rate, this colony provides both. It provides both for men who want to go overseas and for men who want to stop here, and up to the present the success which has attended this experiment is sufficient, I think, to give us some hope that the experiment may not only be continued in that particular place, but that it may perhaps be extended elsewhere. I think we should

212all be only too glad if, by the expenditure of a certain amount of money in training these men, you could really succeed in pulling them out of the ruck of the unemployed who never will be able to find work and putting them among the ranks of those who really will be able to provide for themselves.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) thinks that the question of necessitous areas cannot be dealt with unless you have very much larger areas than are covered by the existing usage. I am inclined to agree with him, and I can in this respect—in respect of the Necessitous Areas Committee and the whole question of necessitous areas—only repeat in two or three words what I said on the last occasion. I said then that a number of schemes had been put before the Government for the allocation of an Exchequer grant among the so-called necessitous areas. Those schemes have been examined by the Committee which was set up for the purpose, and that Committee has reported that not one of them is a practicable scheme. They have at any rate in several cases reported that, in their opinion, no amendment of the scheme could make it practicable. Then we are told that they ought to have been allowed to look around to see if they could not think of a scheme of their own. To that I say, first of all, that this is no time for coming upon the Exchequer for further grants of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 to be allocated to various localities and to be paid for by the taxpayers in increased taxation, and, secondly, I say that if you are going to have central funds distributed for this purpose, you must have central control, the very thing which I desire to avoid and which, I believe, I can avoid. I would ask hon. Members who are interested in this subject just to look, if they will, at the report of the speech which I made on the last occasion, and they will see what I believe to be the real, permanent policy which this House ought to adopt in this connection.

618″>Mr. HARDIE: I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman did not deal with the question of emigration. A question was put to the effect that the people taken out could only be physically fit and highly skilled, and that it left behind those who were unfit.

 

213619″>It being 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.

620″>Read a Second time, and committed.621″>Colonel GRETTON: I beg to move,
“That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out Schedule 1, Part I, Item 9.”
By turning to the Bill, Members will perceive that Item 9 shows that one of the purposes of the expenditure is the “Reconstruction of Waterloo Bridge, and provision of temporary bridge,” for which £100,000 is proposed to be expended during the current financial year, and another £100,000 in the first half of the next financial year. This is a question which has aroused great interest, and is not only of importance to London. I believe it is a question of national importance. Waterloo Bridge is one of the most remarkable bridges in Europe to-day, and it is the finest bridge æsthetically and artistically in this country. This Bill proposes to condemn that bridge to destruction, and to make expenditure upon a scheme for the reconstruction of Waterloo Bridge.
I do not propose to discuss now the artistic and æsthetic beauties of Waterloo Bridge. I will leave that to others who are more competent than myself. I will only say now, that it is a matter which is to be deprecated to set about the destruction of great monuments erected in the past, if they can be preserved. There is a great tendency in these days to look at everything from an entirely utilitarian point of view, but there are other considerations, and everyone who conies to London, and sees the River Thames with its buildings, particularly Somerset House, the Cathedral of St. Paul’s, and the whole vista of the river, must be struck by the beauty of the bridge, and its entire appropriateness to the setting in which it is. It would Be, I venture to submit, a national calamity that a bridge of this beauty, this fame and these associations should be214destroyed, unless it were an absolute necessity.
The controversy about Waterloo Bridge has arisen because there has been a serious subsidence of two piers of the bridge, and it had to be closed for a considerable period, and alternative means of crossing the river provided. It is admitted on all hands that the problem of Waterloo Bridge has to be dealt with. I submit that the problem of Waterloo Bridge is not an isolated problem. It is part of the whole problem of traffic crossing the river from North to South, and vice versa, and to deal with Waterloo Bridge as an isolated case would lead to great error, and possibly great extravagance and unnecessary expenditure. It has been contended that the bridge is too narrow for the traffic. As a matter of fact, it has been shown that the traffic over Waterloo Bridge is from 14 per cent. to 15 per cent. less in recent years than it was in the year 1913, so that it cannot be contended that the traffic over the bridge has extended, and for that reason the bridge ought to be destroyed, and another one erected in its place.
I will turn to consider the subsidence of the arches. It is a fact, I believe, that owing to the construction of the Embankment, and other alterations on the banks of the river, the area of the River Thames has been diminished by at least one-tenth since the days when the bridge was constructed, and, by the narrowing of the channel, the rapidity of the tidal stream has been increased, as stands to reason. Therefore, owing to the scouring of the bottom of the river, the speed of the tidal stream has been increased. From this it has happened that a considerable portion of the gravel which overlies the clay-bed of the river under the piers in question has been gradually swept away by the increased speed of the stream, and the construction of the piers, devised to meet the state of things existing more than a century ago, has not proved to be adequate to meet the new conditions. What has happened has been that the gravel stratum has been scoured away and the channel has been deepened. Some years ago an attempt was made to meet this, but it was not successful. Concrete aprons were placed out, but as the scour increased, the bed of the river was swept away. Now the gravel is beginning to be swept away and the

215two pillars, particularly No. 4, have sunk seriously. In all these matters it is a conflict of expert and engineering evidence. At any rate, a large number of engineers believe that it is possible to underpin these piers and preserve them as part present structure. There is, I say, a conflict of evidence. On the other hand, engineers of great experience in dealing with London’s subsoils are prepared to undertake the work and to stake their reputation upon it, and contractors of eminence are prepared to carry out the work if the scheme should be adopted. It is not my business to judge between the experts, but it may be said that the opinion of Sir D. Hay with some variation of detail is supported by a number of engineers with experience at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, London and elsewhere in the kingdom in underpinning of arches and bridges, and this method has been successfully adopted and carried out without difficulty and without loss of life. In the case of the Rhine a bridge carrying the railway was successfully underpinned. I am not contending that these opinions are absolutely decisive, but at any rate it is the opinion of Mr. Dalrymple Hay, and firms are prepared to undertake the work and preserve the piers and Waterloo Bridge as it now exists.
In the reports made upon the reconstruction of the Bridge I rather gather that the London County Council engineer’s estimate for the work, which means the underpinning of the piers, is£988,000. The estimate for underpinning the bridge as it now exists and filling in the two archways which are more or less defective would be from £650,000 to £725,000. But this is not what the County Council is now proposing. They have abandoned the scheme for reconstructing and spending, approximately, £1,000,000 to take down the bridge and reconstruct it, because they now come to the House and ask us to vote a sum towards taking down the bridge completely and building a new bridge. It is stated that the County Council is now proceeding to call for competitive designs for an entirely new bridge, the cost of which we do not know. The sum of £1,500,000 has been more or less vaguely talked of in connection with this matter. I think I have said enough to show that there is a very

216strong case indeed for believing that Waterloo Bridge can be preserved if it is desired to do so. On the ground of keeping a great national monument, even apart from the traffic going across it, there is no reason to destroy the bridge. In fact to put a new bridge over that part of the river would be in the opinion of experts to interfere with the traffic in the Strand, and would lead to greater congestion and greater difficulty of traffic than at the present time. I put it to the House that this problem of the traffic across the river is not going to be solved by a new Waterloo Bridge of a wider description. It is no use driving the traffic into a dead end, or into the congested traffic running at right angles. Something else has got to be done, and this problem of Waterloo Bridge reconstruction will not help us for one moment or help the great problem of the north and south traffic across the Thames.
There is the case of St. Paul’s Bridge and the case of Lambeth Bridge, and the case of the projected Charing Cross bridge. I venture to suggest that at this juncture that it is folly to spend £1,500,000 when we do know, whether the London County Council or anyone likes it or not, in the immediate future something must be undertaken, something must be done to find an alternative means of crossing the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and the present Westminster Bridge: that is to make a high level bridge which will reach over the Strand and take the north and south traffic further back into London where it can be dealt with without congestion.
I believe this somewhat rapid decision, this sudden decision to destroy Waterloo Bridge, a wrong step has been taken, and inquiry should be set up to deal with all the factors in the case, and to deal with them on the Floor of this House. The whole problem of London traffic as well as the beauty of the Thames and its aesthetic and architectural possibilities should be left to that inquiry. There need be no very long delay in dealing with this matter. This controversy has lasted for some time, and the various technical and professional opinions as to what is required should be got and harmonised so as to bring them into proper relation one with another and so deal with the problem, not on the smaller question of the destruction of Waterloo Bridge which

217ought not to be destroyed at all, but should continue to fulfil any useful and necessary and efficient function in dealing with its share of London across the river traffic. What is required is the investigation I Rave suggested and a report, and the most expert opinions which can be got together, for this is not a case only of the London County Council; it is a national problem and one in which Parliament should have its share. For these reasons and others which I hope other hon. Members will put forward I venture to bring this proposal before the House and to move that Item 9 be omitted from the Bill in order that an inquiry may be held.

622″>Sir MARTIN CONWAY: I beg to second the Amendment.
During the last few years since the War every kind of municipality in this country has been engaged in setting up war memorials. Suppose that instead of erecting all those separate war memorials we had, as a nation, collectively, built somewhere in London the finest architectural memorial that we could devise, and had lavished upon it all the art of which our greatest artists were capable, and then suppose that 100 years hence it was found to be inconvenient for traffic. Do you imagine it would be easy to persuade people to destroy that war memorial for the sake of convenience? Waterloo Bridge was by Act of Parliament designated Waterloo Bridge, and erected as a memorial to the gallantry and the achievements of our Army at the Battle of Waterloo. It is the memorial of the Waterloo campaign, officially so made and so consecrated by this House. Now we are asked, upon some practical grounds, to knock down this war memorial of our ancestors, to destroy that which was set up in memory of their deeds. A more miserable proposition was never laid before the people of this country.
This Waterloo Bridge, besides being thus sentimentally sacred to the people of this country, is, I make bold to say, the finest architectural achievement of the 19th century not only in this country but in all Europe. If I am asked to substantiate that statement I shall, of course, find it difficult to do so, because tastes differ, some people think one way and some another, but that is the general consensus of the opinion of the civilised world, at least of that part of it which

218pays attention and which develops its taste in these matters. The bridge is not only a noble work of architecture, renowned throughout the whole world, but it occupies a position of such extraordinary eminence in the midst of this greatest city on earth that its reputation is worldwide. It stands adjacent to Somerset House, and from the principal points from which it is to be seen, looking down the river, it stands as a foreground to the dome of St. Paul’s. The combination of that beautiful bridge with that noble building at its end, and with St. Paul’s rising behind, is, in fact, the one great vista, the one great magnificent scene that this city possesses. That is London! For all the peoples of the world, and the peoples of our own race scattered about the world who come to London, that must be one of the great visions that will recur to their minds when they go away. And we are asked to destroy that and to put some kind of modern structure in the place of that!
We are asked to do this for practical reasons. Practical reasons have their value, but they have also their limitations. Nobody, I suppose, would be willing to drive a road through Westminster Abbey for practical reasons; I doubt if they would tunnel under St. Paul’s, for practical reasons; I almost doubt whether they would drive a highway through this House, for practical reasons. There are limitations, and the question is where the line is to be drawn. Sometimes there will be objects of national interest and importance which lie balanced on the line of division, and some people may say one thing and some another as to destroying or preserving them. The people of Croydon, to take a small instance, found the Whitgift Hospital extremely inconvenient, and in order to make some exit from the town more convenient they desired to cut off a corner of Whitgift Hospital and thus to ruin its architectural value. They were not allowed to do it—I think it was this House which interposed some difficulty—and were forced to keep their most precious treasure—not that many of them knew it was so; but to their very great advantage they were prevented from destroying a portion of an ancient building of considerable, interest and much beauty, for practical reasons. In that case the sentimental or the artistic reason was held to override the practical reason,

219and the road had to twist itself about a little bit.

623″>The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): There is a by-pass road round it.

624″>Sir MARTIN CONWAY: Well, there may be a by-pass round Waterloo Bridge. I have been a little bit pontifical, and I apologise to the House for thus describing the superlative eminence of Waterloo Bridge as a work of art, but I am supported by official bodies, whose opinion one is bound to take into account. The Royal Academy has pronounced in favour of the retention of Waterloo Bridge, for artistic reasons. The Royal Institute of British Architects has expressed a similar opinion; and the London Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Architectural Club, and other bodies of repute, whose opinion carries weight, support absolutely what I have said about the artistic value of Waterloo Bridge.
Not only is it a magnificent work of architecture, but it is an extraordinary piece of craftsmanship, of laying stone upon stone, worked by hand in the manner that is no longer likely to be followed in any building hereafter to be erected. It represents a bygone and very magnificent work of the hands of man. Apart altogether from its artistic value, as a piece of craftsmanship, as a memorial to the skill of the handicraftsmen of a hundred years ago, it ranks highest amongst all the works that exist in this country. Every man who laid hands on its building must have been proud of the exercise of his handicraft on so splendid a thing; and as a memorial to handicraft as well as a memorial to art, and standing as it does in the heart of London, it deserves to be preserved to the end of all the ages.
Why is it to be destroyed? It is held that the traffic problem overrides the supreme artistic value of this work, and that for considerations of traffic it must be done away with. The phrase in the Schedule of the Bill speaks of the bridge being “reconstructed,” whereas the proposition is nothing of the kind. If we hold the county council to the wording of that Schedule, what they ask for is money to reconstruct the bridge. We would not mind that, if that is what

220they were going to do. But what they mean by reconstruct is to destroy, and build a new bridge, and that is not reconstruction. Reconstruction, yes, but destruction, no! The traffic problem amounts to this: You have, by the necessity of things, two lines of traffic, one going North and South and one going East and West, and they have to cross the bridge. That is the problem you have to overcome. You get in no degree a solution of that problem by widening the bridge. Even if you double the width of the bridge you double the block in the Strand, and make things still worse. Therefore, that is no solution of the problem at all. The problem of the London traffic is a very much larger thing than that. You have got sooner or later to tackle that problem on a large scale and face the necessity of constructing a bridge at Charing Cross. That is a thing we must come up against sooner or later, and that is what we shall have to do. You may postpone, but you will not really improve the serious problem of London traffic except by a great undertaking in the Charing Cross direction.
One of the practical reasons which leads me to oppose with all the vigour I can this undertaking foreshadowed by the London County Council is because it will really be spending a large sum of money which will tend to postpone the tackling of the problem on the large scale in which it must eventually be tackled. When you have spent £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 in this way you have really done nothing to tackle the real problem. We have also been threatened with a bridge at St. Paul’s which would be a terrible disaster, and would mean a great danger to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We are also threatened with the destruction of Waterloo Bridge, and the third misfortune is the postponement for years to come of the very necessary construction of a bridge at Charing Cross. That triple disaster is threatened, and I entreat the House at all events to save us from one of the prongs of this fatal trident.
The whole question of our London bridges should be treated as a single problem. At the present time the London County Council have part of the river to look after, and the City Corporation have to look after another part, but no

221single authority is taking the problem of our London bridges into its consideration. No authoritative commission has ever examined the whole question, taking into consideration the history of the past and the likelihood of developments in the future. I hope as a result of this Debate that the Government may perhaps see fit to appoint a Commission to look into the entire problem as one great and single problem, regarding it in all its aspects in order to arrive at a solution which will benefit the whole city and improve instead of damage its beauty, and which will find a solution of this problem on practical lines, at the same time preserving the amenities and the beauty of which we have had reason to be proud in the past.

625″>Sir CYRIL COBB: This question was before the House two years ago when I had the honour of representing the County Council on the introduction of the Money Bill of that year. We were then at the beginning of our troubles with Waterloo Bridge. We discussed it then not only in connection with the bridge known as Waterloo Bridge, but in relation to the general traffic problem of London in connection with bridges over the Thames. I want to assure the House that the London County Council has taken no hasty action in regard to this matter. For two years they have been considering this question, and we have had the advice of eminent engineers who have served the Council for many years and eminent engineers outside the Council itself, some of whom have world wide reputations. We have also had the advice of many people interested in this question not only from the engineering but also the architectural point of view and also from the purely aesthetic and historical point of view, and everyone has had an opportunity of laying their views before the Council. Meanwhile the position in regard to the bridge has become very much worse as far as the traffic is concerned, and we were obliged to build a temporary bridge alongside of Waterloo Bridge to take the necessary traffic. That relieved the position somewhat so far as the traffic was concerned, but it did not in any way solve the problem.
We have had four alternative courses placed before us, and it was not until the end of last last year that the Council

222itself, after various deliberations, many consultations, and after receiving many deputations which came before the Council, took a final decision in this matter, and then the Council decided by an overwhelming majority that the re-building of the bridge was the only course which the Council could safely take.

626″>Mr. HARRIS: Will the hon. Member tell the House how he voted on that occasion?

627″>Sir C. COBB: By 82 votes to 32 it was decided that the only course to take was that the old bridge should be pulled down and a new bridge put in its place. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green has asked me to state how I voted on that occasion. I have no hesitation in saying that I voted in the minority, because I honestly believed at the end of last year that it was quite possible to reconstruct the bridge, although at a very great cost. As to the artistic value of the bridge, I agree with everything said by the Seconder of this Resolution, and I believed that the problem of the bridge itself might have been solved by a reconstruction or underpinning of Waterloo Bridge. But I believe that no longer. Now matters have gone very much worse with the bridge itself, and I believe the cost of underpinning, or rather, reconstructing the bridge, would be very much heavier than it was then; and I have come to the conclusion, after a further and much more minute study of the traffic problem, that the traffic problem in London is growing so rapidly that it would be almost useless to continue to have, where Waterloo Bridge is now, a bridge which only takes three lines of traffic.
I was saying that we had four possible courses before us. The first course would have been to underpin the existing bridge, as was suggested by an eminent engineer. If we had done that, it is quite true that a year ago we might, perhaps, have saved the bridge, but, so far as traffic was concerned, we should still only have had the old Waterloo Bridge, of its old size, with three lines’ of traffic, and nobody knew what would be the actual cost of underpinning. We were told by an eminent engineer, who is specially interested in the matter, that it would cost £650,000, but I am inclined to think it would cost a good deal more. The

223second course that we had before us was to reconstruct Waterloo Bridge in its present state, that is to say, exactly as it is now, with its three lines of traffic, but with much stronger, deeper and firmer foundations. That, we were told, would cost £988,000. That may be a sound estimate or not; it is almost impossible to gauge the truth of estimates1 of this kind.
The third course suggested was that we should rebuild Waterloo Bridge, building it much wider so as to take four lines of traffic. The advantage would be that the bridge would be able to carry more of the traffic which we believe will in time require to go over Waterloo Bridge, wherever other bridges are built across the Thames. That, however, would only give one more line of traffic, and it would have the very unfortunate effect of interfering seriously with the river traffic. In considering the question of Waterloo Bridge, we should never forget that there are two kinds of traffic which have to be considered, the river traffic and the over-bridge traffic. To deepen the existing narrow, 120-foot arches of Waterloo Bridge would have a dangerous effect on the river traffic. It would render the navigation of the river much more difficult to have deep arches than to have the arches as they are now, and, if the bridge were broadened, the arches must necessarily be deepened, although it would not be possible at the same time to make them of larger span. Therefore considering also that this would cost a little over £1,000,000, we decided that it was not a suitable method of dealing with the problem.
The fourth plan was to pull down Waterloo Bridge and build an entirely new bridge—a, stone bridge taking six lines of traffic, with arches of a span of 180 feet, and with only five arches instead of the existing eight. That would solve to a very large extent the traffic problem; so far as we can see it, it would solve it for the moment. It gives ample room and space for the river traffic, and it allows six lines of traffic on Waterloo Bridge itself. That scheme would probably cost a little over £1,250,000. The Council decided to adopt that fourth plan, and all I have to say further on the matter is this: We have as a duty to look to this matter as

224a traffic problem primarily, and we consider that, from the point of view of traffic, whatever may be the case with regard to the future planning of Charing Cross Bridge or any other bridge over the Thames, it is essential that there should be a proper cross-river traffic where Waterloo Bridge is now. In the second place, for us, who have to ask the ratepayers for their money, it is a problem, if we are going to spend £750,000, or £1,000,000, or £1,250,000 of the ratepayers’ money, whether we are justified in asking the ratepayers for that money merely for the preservation of an historic monument.
9.0 P.M.
For these reasons the council decided to rebuild Waterloo Bridge, and what we are askings for now is £100,000 in order to begin operations. I hope that the House will not pass this Instruction, because in that case one of two things must happen. If we are allowed no money for this specific purpose this year, what are we to do in the existing ruinous state of Waterloo Bridge? Are we to do nothing? It looks to me, on the other hand, as though we should have to take it out of the rates. We have no money for this purpose, and I hardly think that the hon. and gallant Member who moved this Instruction tonight would like to see the London County Council bleeding the ratepayers for this purpose by taking it out of the rates account. It is quite certain that money will have to be spent on making the existing Waterloo Bridge safe within the next 12 months, and, unless we get the money now for that purpose, it will be very difficult indeed for the council to deal with the necessary repairs to the bridge itself. I have put the case for the council as succinctly as possible. Four courses have been open to us; we have given full consideration to every one of them, and we have come to the conclusion, with very much reluctance on the part of some of us, especially myself, that nothing can be done with the present Waterloo Bridge to make it a good solution of the traffic problem, and that we shall have to pull it down and build a new bridge.

628″>Mr. GOSLING: I rise for the purpose of opposing the Motion, and I do so with due regard to all the sentiments that have been expressed about this wonderful bridge. I remember, during the short

225time that I was at the Ministry of Transport, meeting those who were interested in Waterloo and other bridges and I remember that in one case the last word to me from the deputation, whom I received sympathetically because my feelings were with them, was that the bridge should not be destroyed because Shakespeare once walked over it. That, I am sure, is the difficulty in which the Minister of Transport now finds himself in matters of this kind; he is torn between those who want the improvement made and those who want the monument to remain where it is. I speak rather from the river point of view, which has not been touched upon quite so strongly as the traffic problem. I remember Waterloo Bridge for, I suppose, quite as long as anyone in this House. I have known it all my life. When I was an apprentice I helped to take the timber to Waterloo Bridge to save it from subsidence, and, on looking up the accounts of that operation, I find that considerably over £500,000 was spent upon it. I remember helping to float to the spot the elm piles which were put round the bridge. If the bridge is again to be repaired in the same kind of way, I suppose it would last for perhaps another 60 or 70 years. If the bridge is going to remain there all that time it is going to be an obstruction over which I do not know how we shall get.
The modernising of the river has been so great during the last 30 years that it calls for a different kind of traffic entirely from what was known when Waterloo Bridge was built. When I was a young fellow on the river, we used rather to like these obstructions because they kept novices away. Unless you knew the way to negotiate a bridge, you could not get through. I remember the obstruction of Waterloo Bridge from my very early days. It always wanted a very practical man to find his way through with much smaller craft than have to go through now. It was the same at Vauxhall, old Battersea, Putney and Kew, but they have all gone. I have learned wisdom since then, and I can quite see that that kind of obstruction must go. Though I give way to no one in my admiration of Waterloo Bridge, I should prefer to see it somewhere else nowadays than where it is. If by any means it could be transported to the higher reaches of the river

226it would be an excellent thing to do. While it was able to stand and could be used, for the sentimental reasons which have been put forward no one liked to complain of it, but when it is in the state it is in now and the suggestion is to practically rebuild it, you are going to rebuild a real obstruction, which will be realised more and more as the years go on. It is not as if you were just doing it up for a year or two. You must do it in such a way that it will stand for the next 60 or 70 years. It is over 40 years since it was done, and it has stood all this time, and to expend anything like £500,000 or more means that you must be doing something that will last a great number of years.
With all the improvements that have been made, we have now the finest docks in the world, and the river is the only way from them. There is no way from them by land, until you get a new road, which is going to cost £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, to the docks, and Heaven knows when that is going to be done. The river is the only great highway that we have. On the land you have the power, if there is a chance of doing it, of shifting the traffic, perhaps this way or that, but on the river you have not. There is only one waterway, and if you allow an obstruction to remain you can see the effect that is going to have on all the craft that will be used in the next 30 or 40 years. The whole of the riverside is altering. I have the same admiration as others have for a bridge like Waterloo, and for the whole riverside. It reeks with interest. Look at the Tower. I could run right down the river and give you all the places—I know them so well. The trouble is that you cannot widen Waterloo Bridge. If you widen it it will not be navigable. The hon. Member who spoke for the County Council said it would make navigation more difficult. It would make navigation impossible if the bridge was widened. It is at such a heavy angle that only by knowing the way can you find a way through. If it were any wider you would not get through without damage. Barges and the kind of craft now used on the river are more than double the size they were w*hen the last repair took place, and the tendency, as the wharves get better and machinery improves, is to increase the size of the craft for the cheaper and better transit of traffic. I remember the day when I thought it was better to have

227obstructions, that it was better for the navigation to be difficult and for craft to be small, but I do not think that any longer. Take the whole of London up to, say, Brentford. You have modernised all the bridges right through except this one, and while this might have stood as long as it was able, it would in my opinion be a great mistake to spend a great deal of money on it and perpetuate what is really an obstruction for a great number of years.
The only other word I want to say is this. After all, you are dealing with a body of some importance, the London County Council—which ought to know its own business. I will not say this House has no right to interfere, but it ought to be very careful how it interferes with a great body like the County Council. I entirely agree with the suggestion—I made it when I was at Whitehall for that little time—that it would be a great advantage if all those who are responsible for bridges across the Thames tried to act together, but whatever you do and whatever you say, you cannot get away from the fact that this bridge will come down altogether if you are not very careful, because having put the piles in to hold the bridge up, it is making the scour much more intense and I believe is affecting some of the other piers, which will have to be looked at very soon. The bridge has practically got to come down if it goes up again—it amounts to the same thing. The great demand is that it should be wider. If you make it wider, you obstruct the navigation to such an extent that you will have done a lasting injury to the traffic on the Thames. For these reasons I oppose the Motion, and hope the House will allow the County Council to do its own business in its own way.

629″>Sir JOHN SIMON: The hon. Gentleman has made, as we all feel, not only a very charming but a very effective speech, and I am sure I am not the only one who has been much impressed by it. I agree entirely when he claims that the House should exercise its undoubted rights very carefully before it interferes with the deliberate judgment of the London County Council, and I agree with him also when he says practical considerations of traffic, whether afloat or on the road, are considerations which must be given full weight.

228Waterloo Bridge, besides being in the charge of the London County Council as one of the municipal adjuncts in connection with traffic, is a great national monument, and while I would most gladly acquiesce, once there is preponderate authoritative judgment expressed that the bridge cannot be preserved without wholly disproportionate practical inconvenience and fearful expense, I am not prepared to accept the suggestion that it should be pulled down and destroyed until that situation is really established. The hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb), to whose speech we listened with great attention, will pardon me when I say that I have not in the least appreciated the processes of his mind which enabled him a few months ago to vote against the particular proposal which he is now recommending to the House. He voted only a few months ago as a member of the County Council against this very proposal. He told the House that something has happened to him—I do not know what—between December of last year and the present time, which has convinced him that his second thoughts are best.

630″>Sir C. COBB: I did not say that anything has happened to me, but that a good deal has happened to the bridge.

631″>Sir J. SIMON: The hon. Member’s foundations have been undermined and he thinks it is hopeless to underpin. Anyone who has studied the documents, as far as they are available, will have some difficulty in understanding why an opinion which was held a few months ago that we ought to have some authoritative judgment expressed as the result of an impartial inquiry, should be abandoned at the present time. Let me point out to the House what appears from the actual document issued by the London County Council. I have here the agenda of the county council for the 15th December last year. This document shows that a bridges’ sub-committee had been appointed which was considering this subject in detail. The report of the Improvement of Bridges sub-committee of the 10th December, 1925, covers a number of pages, drawn up and signed by Mr. R. C. Norman, a most distinguished member of the county council. The report shows that the subcommittee, specially appointed for the purpose, had had before them the traffic

229considerations in great detail, the views of a number of very expert gentlemen, engineers and others, and they reported most faithfully to the body which appointed them what was the effect upon their minds of this mass of material. They say that, counting all the engineers who from first to last have made considered reports on the subject,
“technical opinion is as equally divided as it is possible to be with regard to the practicability of maintaining the existing structure.”
I understand that doctors may differ, like lawyers and other unnecessary persons, but it is a very different thing to come to the House of Commons and say that there is formed by expert opinion, by which we are bound to be guided, an overwhelming preponderance of judgment that this bridge cannot be saved, and to say that the situation is, that it is “six of one and half a dozen of the other,” and that
“technical opinion is as equally divided as it is possible to be”—
That is the present situation according to the sub-committee.

632″>Mr. CAMPBELL: Will the right hon. and learned Member explain to the House what else the Committee said?

633”>Sir J. SIMON: I am going to do so. Next, they quoted with approval this view of the Bridges’ Committee—
“If it had been possible to maintain by any means the existing structure, we think the Council might well have been willing to sacrifice a valuable traffic improvement to the preservation of so beautiful and famous a bridge.”
That is a view with which those who desire to see a splendid national monument preserved where possible will very largely sympathise, and it is the view of the Bridges Committee of the London County Council. Therefore, the report of this committee, which was given to the county council only a few months ago proceeded somewhat on these lines, first of all, “Our estimate is that there is really a balance, as equal as it can be, of expert opinion as to whether the bridge can or cannot be saved and, secondly, we approve the view of the Bridges Committee that if it can be saved,
“the Council might well have been willing to sacrifice a valuable traffic improvement to the preservation of so beautiful and famous a bridge.”

230These being the conclusions of this committee, what is it they recommended to the county council? They pointed out in their report that policy in this matter is necessarily dependent upon engineering considerations, and that the council, with all respect to its members, is a most unsuitable body for the determination of vexed technical questions. The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) has assured us, from very long and interesting experience, that he fears the bridge is going to fall down, but that does not impress me much, because this question really depends upon extremely expert judgment of engineers and others. Therefore, this sub-committee of the county council only five months ago recommended the county council on these lines:
“That the First Commissioner of Works be asked whether His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to set up a technical commission to inquire whether the Council can safely undertake the underpinning of Waterloo Bridge so as to preserve it in perpetuity in a condition, fit to take the traffic which may be expected to make use of it; and if the answer to the question is in the affirmative, what methods of underpinning should be adopted and what would be the probable cost?”
I do not wish to gratify my natural interest in ancient and splendid architectural constructions to the point of making difficulties for London traffic, whether by road or river, but I do submit that this being the report of the sub-committee of the County Council itself, which was selected for the purpose of going into this matter in detail and making a recommendation, it is rather a strong order within a few months to be told that there is nothing for the House of Commons to do but to give permission for the bridge to be destroyed.
What happened to the report of this sub-committee? It came before the County Council, and it was proposed that the very course should be taken to which I have referred, and the hon. Member for West Fulham—I am not in the least reproaching him, but I am pointing out a very material fact—a most experienced and valued member of the council, voted in favour of that proposal, yet to-day he is recommending the House of Commons to authorise the destruction of the bridge. There was another view expressed by a gentleman of great eminence, who moved to leave out all the words after a certain

231word in line 1, and to substitute the following resolution:
“That the Improvements Committee be instructed to take steps forthwith for the reconstruction of Waterloo Bridge.”
If this was an ordinary municipal matter, we ought to give final support to the view taken even by a majority of the London County Council. It is a great body that deserves the thanks of us all. But after all, Waterloo Bridge is a national monument, and unless it can be shown, as the result of such an inquiry as this committee of the County Council itself recommended, that really it is not possible to save the bridge without inflicting intolerable inconvenience upon traffic and life, then most undoubtedly the bridge ought to be saved. I hope the House of Commons will forgive me if I remind them of what this bridge stands for. I cannot imagine the County Council or anybody else coming here and proposing that they should get authority to pull down Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. Yet really Waterloo Bridge, opened in 1817, after the peace that followed the Napoleonic Wars, was at the time, and it is to-day, a great national memorial to an age that is gone, which at that time was regarded as just as much embodying the sacrifices and the relief of this country as the Cenotaph in Whitehall is regarded by the present generation. The Duke of Wellington, who was in command of the Allied Forces in 1817, 150,000 men drawn from the five nations occupying the territory of France, came home here on purpose to attend the opening of that bridge, and I think it is historically established that that was the time when he called the attention of the Government here to the importance of not having an unlimited occupation of the country of our late enemies but of arriving at terms of reducing reparations which resulted in the Army being withdrawn. If anybody thinks I am exaggerating, I would beg them to read again the last words in the chapter in “Vanity Fair,” where Thackeray describes the emotions stirred by the field of Waterloo. Look again at the account of that age which you will find in Mr. Thomas Hardy’s pageant of “the Dynasts.”
There can be no question whatever among persons of any party who really feel the importance of preserving these great historic traditions, that it is an

232immense misfortune if this bridge has to be pulled down. Whatever may be the wisdom of the County Council, it is quite certain once they pull it down they will never be able to give us again a memorial of that age. I cannot imagine that, thinking of these practical considerations, that we ought to see this in any other spirit than the spirit in which we expect the London County Council in a hundred years’ time to consider a proposal on the grounds of traffic inconvenience or what not, to move the Cenotaph from Whitehall. The fact is that apart from this being admittedly one of the most splendid monuments of the genius of Rennie, apart from it being characteristic of that combination of practical skill with beauty of form and usefulness which may be found in that age, it stands at a place in London where every visitor realises that it is one of our great treasures. What is going to be said of the House of Commons if it has to be written of this Parliament, “You did not think it necessary to get rid of Charing Cross Railway Bridge, but you pulled down Waterloo Bridge instead.” I cannot believe that people who really respect the great possessions of the nation would do that. Therefore, I submit while no doubt this has to be done, if it is proved that it cannot be maintained or if it is established that the inconvenience is so gross and other methods were impossible, that we must sacrifice a great artistic treasure, I do submit that the circumstances as I have tried to describe them, do not justify the County Council in getting this power from the House of Commons. Their own subcommittee has strongly recommended another and more careful course. There are known to be extremely authoritative persons who believe that the bridge can perfectly well be restored and maintained and in those circumstances I think it would be a pity if the House of Commons were to give authority which, once given, can never be withdrawn and authorise a destruction which hereafter we might bitterly regret.

634″>Sir HENRY JACKSON: The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has expressed a hope that this matter of Waterloo Bridge might be referred to some impartial tribunal. I have the honour to be a member of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, and

233this matter has been referred to them by the Minister. It has been under their consideration now for some considerable time, and whatever the right hon. Member for Spen Valley may think of that Committee from its personnel, I would remind him that it was entrusted by Parliament with dealing with the great problem of London traffic and many problems of the co-ordination of that traffic. I hope it may be of interest to the House if I briefly tell the conclusions that that Advisory Committee came to and the reason for its conclusions. It was decided that the problem of Waterloo Bridge could not be treated as an isolated problem of a single bridge. It was felt that the bridge problem should be treated as whole. The Committee, therefore, with all the advice and facts in possession of the officials of the Ministry, have been considering the bridge problem in that way. We decided to deal with what I call the bridges in the centre zone of London, that is seven bridges commencing with Tower Bridge, and ending with Vauxhall.
I need not remind this House that four of those bridges are under the control of the City Corporation, the Tower, London, Southwark and Blackfriars, and four are vested in the London County Council: Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth and Vauxhall. I hope I may be allowed to express the deep debt of gratitude that the Committee feels to its Chairman, Sir Henry Maybury, who collected and collated the vast amount of detail that was necessary. This great splendid Report which he submitted to the Committee formed the basis of their deliberations and the decision they came to. I am not going to burden this House with all the decisions we came to, but I would merely refer to the decision in regard to Waterloo Bridge. The main result of our deliberations was this, that to-day 43 per cent. of the whole of the traffic across the bridges in that zone is passing over two bridges, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge. We unanimously came to the conclusion that the time is not far distant when some relief will have to be given to those two famous bridges. May I give a few short figures showing the tremendous increase of traffic over the seven bridges in the last 12 years? Statistics have been taken

234during July from eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night of the traffic passing over these bridges. The first figure was taken in 1913 and the second figure in 1925, for the three City bridges—Southwark Bridge as a matter of fact at that time was in the hands of the engineers—and the result is as follows: In 1913, 42,000 vehicles, with a tonnage of 147,000 tons, went over the three City bridges. In 1925 it had increased to 48,000 vehicles, with a tonnage of 209,000 tons, an increase of 14 per cent. in vehicles and 42 per cent. in tonnage.
When we come to the three bridges under the control of the London County Council—and once again one of the bridges, Lambeth Bridge, is out of action—we have very startling figures. In 1913 there passed over these three bridges, Waterloo, Vauxhall and Westminster, 36,000 vehicles. In 1925 there were 52,000 vehicles, an increase of over 44 per cent. and the tonnage over these three bridges had increased at the rate of about 35 per cent. Coming to Waterloo Bridge itself we had these rather interesting figures. Waterloo Bridge is, of course, the narrowest of all the London Bridges. It has only accommodation for three lines of traffic, whereas the approaches to the bridge, on both sides—and this is a most important point—will accommodate five lines of traffic. You have the fact, therefore, that here is a bridge whose approaches can accommodate five lines of traffic on both sides coming to a bottle neck with only three lines of traffic possible, and I am expressing the unanimous view of the Traffic Advisory Committee that in central London to-day any bridge which has only three lines of traffic is uneconomic. It can only be used economically by using it for one-way traffic only, and that is an intolerable way in which to treat a great London central bridge.

635″>Sir WILLIAM DAVISON: Does the hon. Member suggest that the traffic over Waterloo Bridge has also increased. Is it not a fact that the traffic over that bridge has decreased?

636″>Sir H. JACKSON: I am coming to that point. The traffic over Waterloo Bridge has decreased by 14 per cent. as compared with 1913, and I am able to give some satisfactory reasons for that decrease. If we take the tonnage which

235is passing over the whole of these seven bridges to-day at 10O per cent., then only 6 per cent. of that tonnage is passing over Waterloo Bridge, and the reason is this, that Waterloo Bridge has for some time been avoided by vehicles, and the traffic that should have passed over that bridge has been diverted to Westminster Bridge. Let me give some rather interesting figures in proof of this. Take Westminster Bridge, for which, I am sure, every Member of this House has a great personal affection and reverance, and comparing 1913 with 1925, for the hours between eight in the morning and eight at night—the number of vehicles over Westminster Bridge has increased by no less than 82·5 per cent., and the tonnage by 87·6 per cent. This amazing increase over Westminster Bridge, which now takes more traffic on the vehicular basis and the tonnage basis than any other bridge in London, is largely due, in our opinion, to the divorce of the traffic which clearly should have gone over a bridge like Waterloo Bridge. Whilst there is no fear or anxiety for Westminster Bridge at this moment, and, indeed, an eminent firm of civil engineers have recently reported favourably upon it, I would like to ask the House to contemplate what might happen if the strain on Westminster Bridge became too great. The presence of the County Hall and St. Thomas’s Hospital at one end of the bridge practically makes it impossible to put up by the side of it some temporary arrangement, such as was erected by Waterloo Bridge, and so the Traffic Advisory Committee look with great anxiety to the future of Westminster Bridge because of the possibility of it being overstrained and the impossibility of giving it relief.
What are the alternatives which the Committee have considered? We have considered most carefully every one of the alternatives mentioned to-night. We have considered the question of underpinning the present Waterloo Bridge, and I can assure the House that we have had nothing but admiration for the great efforts, the sympathetic efforts, of that great volume of artistic opinion which has been standing for the preservation of that bridge. We have admired the great efforts of the Earl of Crawford and many other distinguished men. We fully sympathise with their point of view, but we

236have to look at this problem from a traffic point of view. I need not stress what has been said—namely, the difference in cost, the problematic figure that has been given for underpinning Waterloo Bridge and the figure of £1,500,000 which the new bridge is supposed to cost. It has been said to us, as it has been said here to-night, why do you not build a new bridge at Charing Cross? That is a very common argument, and we have carefully considered that proposal. I am sure the House will allow me to give our views on the question of Charing Cross Bridge. It has been advocated for many years, and there will be agreement in this House that the unsightly iron railway bridge mars a vista across the Thames of unparalleled beauty. We shall all agree on that, but I sometimes wonder whether people realise what it would cost. The removal of Charing Cross railway station to the south side of the river, the removal of the bridge itself and the building of a new traffic bridge, we are advised would cost, after paying compensation of one kind and another, something in the neighbourhood of £15,000,000. I would remind the House further of this, that it would receive the most stubborn opposition from the Southern Railway. They will tell you that every day they bring into the railway station from 35,000 to 45,000 people, and what that great volume of traffic means is a very serious problem.
Another proposal made to us is to let the station remain and construct an entirely new railway bridge and superimpose upon it a capacious road bridge. We have said “No” to that proposal. It would cost untold millions. Another proposition we have had is a bridge commencing at Nurse Cavell’s statue sweeping over the Strand by means of a bridge, across the Thames and meeting the present Waterloo Bridge where it joins Waterloo Road. The cost of that proposal, we are assured, will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £5,000,000. All these things were most carefully considered by the Committee. I hope I may be allowed to read a few sentences on these two matters of Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge from the Report of the Traffic Advisory Committee on London Bridges, which was submitted to the Minister:
“Waterloo Bridge has failed by reason of age and traffic stresses. It is clear that a road bridge at this point cannot be dis-

237pensed with, and also that the present temporary relief structure cannot be regarded as other than a make-shift. The bridge must be reconstructed to its present dimensions, or a new bridge, providing for additional lines of traffic, must be built. The Committee understand that the London County Council are advised that it would cost approximately £1,000,000 to reconstruct the old bridge in its present form and dimensions, and £1,300,000 to provide a new bridge for six lines of traffic. Having regard to the estimates of cost and to the small additional expenditure required to provide for additional width, they are driven to the conclusion, on purely traffic grounds, that a new bridge to accommodate not less than four lines of traffic should be proceeded with as soon as possible.”
Their decision on Charing Cross is as follows:
“A road bridge across the river in the neighbourhood of Charing Cross is, in the opinion of the Committee, also an urgent necessity, but as it would involve very heavy capital expenditure, both for the structure and for the acquisition of properties, and having regard to the delay which would be experienced in reaching agreement on any such proposal and thereafter obtaining the necessary legislative authority, it is clear that, even taking an optimistic view, work could not be commenced under from three to five years, and as the work would of necessity be spread over a like period, it is safe to predict that such a bridge would not be available for traffic under eight or ten years.”
Those are the reasons upon which the Traffic Advisory Committee, after a very long consideration of all the pros and cons, have decided to support the County Council. My hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway) asked about the block which might occur in the Strand if six lines of traffic suddenly came in place of three. My answer to that is this—that that would have been a pertinent point of criticism perhaps a year ago, but during this year the Committee have been experimenting at great centres with gyratory forms of traffic. They can be seen outside this House, in Trafalgar Square and at Hyde Park Corner. We shall be able to cope with increased traffic in the Strand because of the new system of movement in Trafalgar Square, and also because the Strand itself is becoming more and more a one-way street.
Just a word in conclusion with regard to the future. In dealing with the bridge problem in London you must always take a big conception and the long view. I have told the House the lesson of the

238last 10 years in the growth of traffic over these bridges. What is to be the result of the next 10 or 20 years? In 1921 in Greater London the number of people who held a licence to drive a motor was one in 48. In 1925 it was one in 25. That is to say that in four years the motor-owning public of Greater London has practically doubled. What is it going to be in the next 10 years? In 1910 the journeys per head of the population in Greater London, for trains, omnibuses and trams, were 250, while in 1925 they were 440. There you have two factors, an enormous increase of motor vehicles and increased travelling by the general public. There is another great factor. New towns are arising in Greater London. The London County Council, through its wise decision in regard to housing at Becontree, Downham and Bellingham, is causing new towns to arise, and we are advising and welcoming that proposal.
I have had the privilege, thanks to the kindness of my right hon. Friend the Minister, of acting on a Court of Inquiry into improved travelling facilities in North London and East London, and we have the same appeal from all these millions of men and women, “Give us improved travelling facilities.” The essentials of improved facilities are fluidity of traffic and rapidity of traffic. One of the greatest problems of congestion to-day is the insufficiency of bridges across the Thames. It is no use building wide roads if when you come to the Thames you have bottle-necks. Bridges are the key positions. So the Advisory Committee, without hesitation, has advised the Minister, who referred this matter to them, to support the London County Council, and I hope that this House will not be unmindful, as the late Minister of Transport has told the House, that the London County Council is a great body to whom this House by Statute has entrusted the bridges.

637″>Sir WILLIAM BULL: I intervene in the Debate for only two or three minutes. I have a very uneasy feeling that if the subsidence of Waterloo Bridge had not taken place we should never have heard anything with regard to the widening of the bridge. I am certain that, but for the unfortunate subsidence, the Traffic Committee, the County Council and other authorities would not have interfered with Waterloo Bridge. We have had a

239very interesting lecture with regard to the fact that Waterloo Bridge can very easily and safely be repaired. My humble contribution to the Debate is this: I have always taken a deep interest in the river, as the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) knows. I was Chairman of the Bridges Committee of the County Council on more than one occasion, and I suggest that Waterloo Bridge ought to be repaired and maintained as a memorial of Waterloo. The hon. Member for Whitechapel referred to the fact that it is very difficult to navigate Waterloo Bridge. I have done a good deal of sailing, and have also navigated in the river, and I think that that is the case. But what is the proposal? He admits that the scour comes across the river at a very awkward angle indeed. It is proposed now, instead of having a three-line traffic bridge, to make it a six-line bridge. I suggest that that will make the navigation at that particular point double as difficult as it is now.

638″>Mr. GOSLING: The right hon. Baronet forgets that the new bridge will have only five spans.

639″>Sir W. BULL: That is all very well, but in spite of that the set of the river at that particular point, through an arch which is practically a tunnel, will make the river very difficult to navigate. I challenge the hon. Member for Whitechapel to contradict that statement. He knows the traffic difficulties well. The long barges that they have now, with a bridge having six lines of traffic, will be a danger to navigation. I am very much surprised that the Port of London Authority have not taken action with regard to that very fact.

640″>Mr. GOSLING: The Port of London Authority want the bridge, and support the idea.

641″>Sir W. BULL: My second point is that we are essentially a dilatory race. I recollect many years ago, when I was more active in this House, fighting a battle in regard to national buildings—the Board of Education and the other buildings—which were being put up in Great George Street. That corner was about to be built, and there was a magnificent design with a cupola at the top. It was suggested then that, inasmuch as the rest of the building could not be proceeded with

240for some time, the cupola should not be put up at that time. I insisted that the cupola should be put up, although everyone said it would be unsightly, because it would be years before the rest of the building was put up. Had that cupola not been put up, the corresponding cupola at the other end would never have been erected, and that design never have been completed. The point of that story is that if you widen Waterloo Bridge and make it into a six-line traffic bridge, the Charing Cross Bridge will not be built for 20, 30 or 40 years. People will be content; they will say that the expense of the Charing Cross Bridge is too great. On the other hand, if Waterloo Bridge is merely repaired, and frankly made into a monument of Waterloo, I believe the Charing Cross Bridge would be forced on the attention of London, and would be built.
In spite of the objections of the railway, everyone admits that a bridge at that point is absolutely necessary. I do not think the point about taking the station to the other side of the river weighs with people at all. One hon. Member spoke of 35,000 people using it. I am surprised that there are only 35,000 people, and I do not think that is an argument against a Charing Cross Bridge. If only 35,000 people use it, surely it ought to be swept away, and we ought to have a proper bridge there. I ask hon. Members to mark my words. I am speaking in this House (my words will be reported), and I say that 20 or 30 years hence Charing Cross Bridge will not be built, if the present Waterloo Bridge be pulled down and another constructed in its place. Canova, one of the greatest critics of his time, said it was worth while coming to London to see Waterloo Bridge alone, and I ask hon. Members to bear that in mind.

642″>Mr. SCURR: I yield to no one who has taken part in this Debate as regards admiration for the beauty of Waterloo Bridge. I am essentially a Londoner, and I am very proud of that monument, as it has been described, and I have enjoyed the view from it as many other Members have, but although Keats has told us that
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,”
beauty must also depend upon utility, and unless a thing which is beautiful is also useful it is idle for us to talk about

241its beauty. In regard to this bridge, we find that those who are most concerned about it, those who have artistic consciousness, are themselves very much divided in regard to the beauty of Waterloo Bridge. At any rate, it will be admitted that John Ruskin knew something about art and architecture, and in his “Lectures on Architecture” he makes this reference to Waterloo Bridge:
“It is not indeed the fault of living designers that the Waterloo arch is nothing more than a gloomy and hollow heap of wedged blocks of granite.”
10.0 P.M.
Thus we find that one who was acknowledged as an authority on artistic matters did not hold the view which has been expressed so often during this Debate. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) laid great stress on the point that a committee of the London County Council had made a report in regard to the balance of opinion among the experts on the question of a new building or of underpinning the existing structure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would not know that the report of the committee was only carried by the casting vote of the chairman. The committee were equally divided, and the minority took a view quite opposite to that expressed in the report.

643″>Mr. RYE: Is the hon. Member referring to the sub-committee or the general committee?

644″>Mr. SCURR: To the sub-committee. The right hon. Baronet the Member for South Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull) has cast some doubt upon the views put forward by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling) regarding the navigation of the river, but with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I prefer to take the opinion of the hon. Member for Whitechapel on that matter, because he has had practical experience all his life in connection with the river. In the documents which have been submitted to us urging the preservation of Waterloo Bridge, we find it reported very emphatically that the plans which were put forward are absolutely impossible of being carried out. I would ask hon. Members to refer to page 24, Appendix 7, and they will see a considered opinion there of the scheme which is put forward for underpinning.

242We should remember that the London County Council is charged with the maintenance of this bridge and has taken considerable trouble in investigating the various aspects of the question, including the historical aspect, and I think they are absolutely right in the action which they have taken. The hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway) suggested that no one would propose the removal of an ancient monument purely for traffic considerations, but I would recall to him that a much more historical monument than Waterloo Bridge, namely, Temple Bar, was removed because of traffic considerations. In this case the traffic considerations are so important that the House will only do right in supporting the London County Council’s action.

645″>Mr. RYE: I join in this Debate in order to draw attention to the very definite opinions expressed by five of the six experts who were called in by the conference of learned societies concerning the demolition or preservation of this bridge. Sufficient emphasis has not been laid on the opinions of these experts, who were skilled and technical men, and who were consulted as to whether the bridge could be underpinned, and so maintained. Five of them reported, without hesitation, in favour of underpinning, and the sixth decided that the views expressed by the London County Council’s advisers were correct. Not only did these five experts give this opinion, but they were men of acknowledged experience. They were not theorists or visionaries, but men who had undertaken work of this description. They included men who had tunneled under the Thames, and one of them had underpinned the Newcastle high level bridge. Furthermore, 17 civil engineers, including Sir Wilfred Stokes and Sir Francis Fox, said that this bridge, which was alleged to be worn-out and defective, was nothing of the kind, but could be preserved and ought to be preserved.
Yet in the face of these opinions, when the recommendation of the sub-Committee, which had been adopted by the Improvements Committee, came before the London County Council that body, to the astonishment of the general public, ignored the views of the experts and ignored the outcry raised on all sides on sentimental grounds. They cared nothing

243for a national monument, nothing about the record of the great battle of Waterloo, but decided that the bridge must come down. It would be a calamity if that which was erected, or at all events adopted—because it was commenced in 1811 and finished in 1817—as the equivalent of our Cenotaph to-day were taken down on the ground of traffic needs; we should be taking part in a most scandalous action. I ask the House to remember that there is no suggestion, on the part of those who are in favour of this Instruction, that the London County Council should be told it is their duty to underpin this bridge. All that we say is that this question, a vexed question if you like, should be referred to a technical commission of experts versed in engineering matters, and that, if they decide that the bridge should be underpinned, at least the matter might be reconsidered by the London County Council. When I read the agenda of the County Council I found that statements made by the sub-Committee were, many of them, in favour of the retention of the bridge, and I noticed that they said:
“Whereas the Council has undoubtedly a duty to provide for traffic needs, it is no less bound to maintain monuments of historic and artistic interest committed to its care.”
I noticed further that they said:
“If the bridge goes, the loss is irreparable, whereas other opportunities of providing for the traffic may occur.”
And they added:
“We are concerned with a monument of even more than national importance.”
Yet my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) tells us that this great national monument, that is regarded throughout the world as a magnificent work of art and a great example of engineering skill, this monument, that was adopted to commemorate the glorious battle of Waterloo, should be swept aside for the needs of traffic. That is not the view of the sub-committee of the London County Council, and I hope the Members of this House will resist this proposal.

646″>Sir GEORGE HUME: I am not surprised that Members of this House feel extremely reluctant to see a plunge taken in the direction suggested by this Bill. We on the London County Council, who have had to deal with this extremely difficult problem for the last two years,

244have lived through the whole of the agitation; we have had to live through the anxiety and the distress of having to deal drastically with a monument of this character, but we have been forced step by step to realise that the matter had to be dealt with and that it was the responsibility of the Council to deal with it. Two years ago we found that one pier had subsided. To-day that bridge would be in the river if that pier were not being held up by the supports which we put under it, and a second pier to-day is in the same condition that the first one was in two years ago. While this deterioration is going on, we are advised that, as a result of those supports which we put under the arches, the river is silting up and navigation is being threatened. Already in February, 1925, the Council had passed a resolution to the fact that in their opinion it was desirable that the bridge should be reconstructed, but that was not an operative resolution. After that was passed, very largely at that time to draw public attention to it—because we were anxious to do nothing unnecessarily to hurt aesthetic feelings, in which we shared—further examination drove us to the conclusion that time was extremely valuable in this matter, and that the Council might be held up to the odium of the public should anything serious happen in connection with that bridge.
Realising the difficulties when we originally had to deal with them, we asked the City to come in and share the responsibility with us. We suggested to the City of London that there should be a Joint Committee set up to examine the whole question of the bridges, both in their area and in ours, but, in their wisdom they decided that they could not take that step, and we had to go on alone. We hear a good deal to-day about engineering opinion. We found, in this dilemma on the County Council, that we had various opinions, but before this controversy was raised we were not satisfied to ask our own engineer to give us his opinion, but brought in two other most eminent engineers, who had immense experience in bridge construction—Sir Maurice FitzMaurice, who had been our own engineer and who had been watching this bridge and the other bridges for years, and was thoroughly acquainted with the problem, and Mr. Basil Mott. They gave us their opinion

245before any of these storms had arisen, or before anybody was, shall I say, briefed in the matter, and they said that, of course, nothing was impossible to engineers if we did not mind the cost in money and possibly the cost in life, which was a very serious opinion for the London County Council to have.
After that, other engineers, extremely eminent, I admit, but men who had not had the knowledge and had not been nursing this bridge like our own engineers, gave their opinion, but the right hon. and learned Member for the Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), with all his ability, could not put it higher than this, that there was a fifty-fifty opinion that the bridge could be reconstructed. Could a responsible body like the London County Council, playing with the ratepayers’ money, take a fifty-fifty chance? After all, it is the Council that is responsible. If this House refuses us this money, does that remove our responsibility? So long as there are alternative courses open to the Council, does it not yet carry that responsibility? I have heard no suggestion here that if this is to be a national monument, if this House will control things, there is any money coming from the nation to rebuild the bridge. The money has to come out of the pockets of the London ratepayers. Nobody can suggest that the county council is blind to aesthetic or historic matters. We have spent heaps of money in trying to save historical monuments, and in building up museums, where we pay tribute to history. This bridge is the responsibility of the London County Council, and this House will do a serious thing if it should refuse to allow the council to deal with the bridge along the lines on which it may be advised, out of capital account. An alternative is open to the council, but if that alternative had to be adopted, we certainly should not be justified in putting a much heavier burden on the ratepayers, and the only practical result would be that we should have to withdraw our support from a lot of other big schemes in London which are being adumbrated to-day. That being so, I hope this House will hesitate before it gives an adverse vote on this matter.

647″>Mr. HARRIS: I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Sir G. Hume) with some surprise, but that

246surprise was not confined to his speech, because I may refer also to a similar speech made by the hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb). I plead guilty to being also a member of the London County Council, and also plead guilty to having voted with the minority on this question, but I had in my company in that minority not only the hon. Member for West Fulham but also the hon. Member for Greenwich. I can respect the attitude of the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Gosling), who has been consistent in his attitude, that owing to the needs of traffic, and so on, it is necessary that this bridge should be removed, but I fail to understand why, after having all the discussion in the London County Council, after listening to the debates, after reading the report, after seeing all the engineers in December, I think I am right in saying, the hon. Member for Greenwich voted in the minority. Now, for some reason I fail to understand, except, perhaps, that he has been asked to back the Bill, he entirely changes his attitude for a hundred and one reasons.

648″>Sir G. HUME: I did vote in the minority, but my reason for doing so was that I wanted to give public opinion one more chance of being satisfied.

649″>Mr. HARRIS: That is exactly what I am going to ask the House to do—to give public opinion one more chance. I do not think I need say any more. I think the interruption of the hon. Member for Greenwich is far more effective than his speech. I want to give the nation one more chance. I am all in favour, and always have been in favour, of the autonomy of London government. I quite agree in principle that a great town like London should have the right to manage its own affairs, but, unfortunately, only too often has the House intervened. It will not, for instance, leave London to manage its own business, and has a Traffic Advisory Committee run by an official of the Ministry of Transport, who invents all sorts of roundabouts and various methods of running London traffic, no doubt good in themselves. The House, unfortunately, in the past has been only too prone to interfere in the internal affairs of London government.
If it were really a question of constructing a new bridge across the river,

247if it merely affected the facilities of London traffic, I quite agree it would be far better to leave it to the elected members for London on the London County Council. But this question is something very much larger. It is something of national importance. After all, London is not merely a conglomeration of towns, not merely a great place where a large number of people live and work, and form a town. London is the capital city of the Empire. It is not only the political centre; it is the inspiration of every part of the great Dominions which form the British Empire. I am a Londoner, but for a number of years I lived in New Zealand, and I have family connections with New Zealand. My friends and relations come to London in the same spirit as devout Catholics go to Rome or Mohammedans go to Mecca. They look upon London as something more than its capital; they look upon it as the spiritual inspiration for the whole Empire. Every stone is precious. Every street means something. Every building is of value. It is treasured and pictured in almost every home in almost every part of the Empire. I know there are some who think the Empire is based on economic, not sentimental, bonds, but, believe me, there are those to whom London is an inspiration, which they value in a way, perhaps, it is difficult to understand by those who spend most of their time within its areas.
It is for them I appeal. It may be mere sentiment that looks upon the River Thames in the way that has been described, and because of the inspiration of Waterloo Bridge, which is part of the great national monument with Somerset House and is an architectural feature associated with London as it is known to visitors from other parts of the Empire. I think, therefore, we cannot look upon this problem as merely a traffic question. It is not a question as to whether three or six lines are sufficient for the traffic. We have to look upon it as part of the artistic tradition of the capital city.
When, however, we come to the technical point of view, I think a very strong case has been made out for a reconsideration of that side. The hon. Member opposite I remember swept aside the technical advice of 25 years

248ago called in to give information as to the possibility of saving the bridge. This latter point has been shown by experts who speak with great authority and have a right to give their opinion. Sir Dalrymple Hay has had more experience of dealing with the problem of London clay than of any other man, and he was able to say, when asked as to whether the bridge can be saved because of this particular difficulty, that there is no practical difficulty in underpinning the bridge. It would be better economy to spend half a million in saving this bridge than having to spend not less than £1,250,000 and probably £1,500,000 in building another bridge.
I agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hammersmith South (Sir W. Bull), that to have an entirely new bridge at the cost of £1,500,000 makes the chance of constructing a new bridge at Charing Cross a remote possibility. I would remind hon. Members that if the foundations of Waterloo Bridge are weak, the foundations of the Charing Cross Bridge are equally rotten. During the War we had a Bill promoted by the railway company to strengthen that bridge. The evidence then showed that the bridge was quite unsatisfactory for heavy trains, and the South-Eastern heavy trains are now diverted to Victoria, while only local traffic is taken across Charing Cross Bridge. Sooner or later the railway company know that they will have to reconstruct Charing Cross Bridge. No doubt they would like to put the cost of rebuilding it on to the London ratepayers, but if there were a conference of all the authorities concerned—the Traffic Advisory Committee, the London County. Council, the City Corporation Bridge House Estates Committee, and the railway company—I have no doubt that if they really wished to construct a new bridge a very satisfactory bargain could be carried through. With the traffic congestion in the Strand, a new bridge carrying ordinary traffic is far more urgently required than the widening of Waterloo Bridge.
The Advisory Committee admitted that, and were only frightened at the cost. But there is a nice little nest-egg in the hands of the City Corporation Bridge House Estates Committee, who are going to build a bridge at St. Paul’s which, I

249submit with very great respect, is not wanted. The authorities of St. Paul’s Cathedral view the proposal with great dissatisfaction, because they are afraid the extra congestion of traffic there may weaken the foundations of the dome of St. Paul’s, to preserve which so much money has already been collected; and with Southwark Bridge, which has recently been rebuilt, the traffic interests of that part of London do not seem to justify this very large expenditure. Is it unfair or unreasonable, to suggest that this large fund, which is now entirely in the hands of the City Corporation, who are rather jealous of spending it outside the City boundary, really belongs to London as a whole? If that fund became available, there could be a reconsideration of all the circumstances affecting the needs of new bridges along the River Thames. Meanwhile, we are going to prejudice the whole problem by embarking on what I think is a quite needless expenditure upon a brand new bridge, when this fine national monument can be preserved at a reasonable cost. Therefore, I ask hon. Members to take a large view of this problem, and to exercise their rights as Members of Parliament to preserve that great monument which commemorates Waterloo.

650″>Mr. B. SMITH: Like the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), I would ask the House to take a large view of this question, a view large enough to include a thought for the development of traffic in the future. Undoubtedly Waterloo Bridge is of great aesthetic interest, but in its present situation, having regard to the inlets to it from Kingsway and Wellington Street, it is not of the value to traffic that it should be. There is another factor in the situation which has not been mentioned, and I only rise to mention it, and that is the possibility of Covent Garden market being moved to the Foundling Hospital estate. We have the promise of the authorities of Covent Garden that any new scheme for the development of that area would enable us to create a one-way street in the Strand, with a parallel route for traffic along Maiden Lane and Covent Garden out into Aldwych.
The present bridge is now avoided by all fast-moving traffic. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Central Wands-

250worth (Sir H. Jackson), I am a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee, and I say that bridge is now definitely avoided by all fast-moving traffic. I think it will be fair to say that 60 per cent. of the traffic at present using the bridge is heavy traffic for Covent Garden. With the closing of Covent Garden market and the development of rail facilities for feeding the new site, Waterloo Bridge would attract its fair quota of fast-moving traffic. In its present state it is three-line traffic bridge, and with any slow-moving traffic making use of it, fast traffic cannot then get through. The site is an admirable one for a five-span bridge, with outlets to the south and to the north, and a widened bridge would, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a good many others, relieve the present abnormal stress on Westminister Bridge. Complaint is made that no authoritative people have discussed this problem. The London County Council have had it under discussion for upwards of two years. Much is made of the fact that five eminent engineers have said that it is possible to underpin the bridge.
If you had 500 eminent engineers I am sure every one of them would answer, “Yes, it is possible to underpin the bridge.” It is possible to do this at a cost which is estimated between £650,000 and £900,000, and then it would be-guaranteed for only 25 or 30 years. On the other hand, for an expenditure of £1,300,000 you get your six-line traffic bridge with a guarantee of 100 years’ life. The House has been called upon to give those who oppose this Measure another chance, but if you do so, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many experienced people, it will simply check the development of London traffic from north to south for a period of 75 years.
With regard to the construction of a bridge at Charing Cross, that has been estimated at the lowest to cost £9,500,000 and at its highest £15,000,000. If we find £15,000,000 for that purpose it will take three or four years to get the necessary legislation passed, and then it would take three or four years after that to build the bridge. In the case of Waterloo Bridge with the by-pass bridge which has already been erected, if the County Council are given the powers now being asked for, there is nothing to stop the new Waterloo Bridge being erected during the

251next two years. Whichever way are looks at it, one feels that it is a serious thing to destroy a monument of that character. I have not had much of the aesthetic about me, and at sunset I have enjoyed looking at Waterloo Bridge; but when I place against that the necessity of the development of the traffic facilities of London and catering for the increasing volume of traffic from north to south, and the ever-increasing size, weight and length of the river traffic, I am bound to say that I ought to support this Measure, and I am willing to seek my sunsets elsewhere.
I ask the House to remember that the London County Council have considered this problem for two years and the Traffic Committee for one year. We have had before us the committees interested in art and various aesthetic bodies, and willing as we were to meet their point of view, we have unanimously been driven to the conclusion that this new bridge is essential for London traffic, and if built on proper lines, I do not think it will be an eyesore, or calculated to wound the aesthetic notions of Londoners.

651″>The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): We have had a Debate to-night on a subject which is a welcome change from the barren topic of political controversy. Not only is the subject we have been discussing a most interesting one, but the speeches delivered have been of very high merit, and they have shown that hon. Members, whichever side of this question they take have deeply studied this important subject. Personally, when I heard those who pleaded for the retention of the bridge on the ground of its beauty and its historic associations, I felt that I must support the instruction. Then, when I heard other hon. Members pointing out the necessities of London traffic, and that you could not for all time hold up the traffic on the river—which is, perhaps, even more important than the road traffic—I felt that I could not vote for the instruction. As far as the Government are concerned, their attitude is simple and plain, and, I think, logical. It is that this is a matter the responsibility of which must, and should be shouldered by the London County Council, and that it is not a matter of sufficient public importance for the Government itself, as a Government, to intervene.

252Having said this, may I, in a few sentences, because there are other hon. Members who want to speak before Eleven o’clock, put this to the House? The statutory duty of looking after certain bridges in the Metropolitan area has by Parliament been put upon the London County Council. By law they are the guardians of these bridges, and are responsible for their upkeep and their reconstruction. The London County Council is a popularly elected body, and a very important body, second only to Parliament in this area. I put it to the House of Commons that we must envisage a very important decision if the House deliberately rescinds a decision of the County Council on such an important matter. It is not outside the power of the House of Commons; the House has a perfect right to do so; but the House of Commons must consider the responsibility it takes when it thinks of overriding a decision the responsibility for which has been specifically put by law on the shoulders of this great democratically elected body. If the House of Commons does so, I think it must consider whether the London County Council may not, possibly, look to the National Exchequer to help them in their difficulty. If the wishes of the County Council are turned down, and their views as to the ratepayers’ money are rejected, then I think the House of Commons might find itself in a difficult position as regards these London bridges in the future. I repeat that the decision is one for the House of Commons. The responsibility is for the County Council, but I do press the House to consider whether it would be right in overriding a decision of a great body such as the London County Council.

652″>Sir W. DAVISON: If any further argument were required to reinforce the Motion which has been moved to give an instruction to the Committee with regard to this Bill, I think we have had it in the speeches to which the House has listened with such interest and attention from all sides to-night. They show that in every quarter authoritative opinion on the subject is still in a state of flux. The hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith), from the Front Opposition Bench, said, and I entirely agree with him, that in a matter like this it is necessary for Parliament and the country to

253take a long view. It is just for that very reason that we want to have this matter referred to an independent and authoritative committee, so that the whole question of these bridges across the Thames may be considered together, and that we may have an authoritative report on the whole matter. That is the whole case of those who are moving this instruction to-night—that we should not in a moment of panic rush into some decision which may be irrevocable and irreparable. A thousand times is that argument enforced when we remember that the matter at issue is one of our greatest national monuments. The Minister has said the London bridges are a matter for the London County Council, and that it would be very improper, and Parliament would be going outside its proper functions were it to interfere in this matter.

653″>Colonel ASHLEY: No, I did not say that. I said the House of Commons should investigate the point. I did not say it was improper.

654″>Sir W. DAVISON: I am quite prepared to accept that emendation. It was undesirable for the House of Commons to interfere in the matter, as the London County Council had the responsibility of the bridges. But Waterloo Bridge is not only a bridge across the Thames. It is one of the great national monuments of the country. Suppose it was proposed to run a highway through St. Paul’s Cathedral so that the traffic in Cheap-side could be relieved, would you say that was a matter for the City Corporation and Parliament ought not to interfere? Of course you would not, and St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey are unquestionably comparable monuments with Waterloo Bridge. Waterloo Bridge is not only a national monument. It is recognised for its beauty all over the civilised world. It is one of the most outstanding bridges in the world, and for us to sweep it away because there has been a vote of a chairman of some subcommittee of the county council without the most authoritative pronouncement would, in my opinion, show that Parliament was unworthy of the great trust that is reposed in it.
In the speech the Chairman of the County Council made this evening, there was one point that struck me. He said this committee of the London County

254Council that had had this matter in hand had approached the Corporation of the City of London, who are the other great bridge authority in the Metropolis, and that, rightly or wrongly, the Bridge House Estates Committee had declined to negotiate with them in the matter. If this is referred, as is suggested in the Instruction, to an authoritative committee appointed by the Government, the first thing it would do would be to invite the Bridge House Estates Committee to come into consultation with them. We have heard to-night, what we all know, of the shortage of cash, both national and municipal, that is available even for great improvements. If you get the Bridge House Estates Committee and the Corporation into conference on this matter of a bridge across the Thames, you will have at any rate for discussion a sum of £4,000,000 which that committee has already accumulated for the building of a bridge over the Thames. The Corporation of the City of London and the Bridge House Estates Committee have again and again gone outside the limits of the narrow purview of the City in order to do work of national importance. The Bridge House Committee provided the funds for the building of the Tower Bridge. The Corporation also gave the nation Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches, which are also outside the purview of the City.
If the Corporation, again with that wide view it has often taken in time of national emergency, would say, “We are not going to build a useless bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral and incidentally greatly endanger another national monument”—if you do not take care you will have all your national monuments coming down—but offered to build a bridge at Charing Cross, conditionally on Waterloo Bridge being underpinned and restored, you would have a scheme which could be started without any delay and Waterloo bridge could be preserved as a national monument.

655”>Captain FRASER: The right hon. Baronet the Member for Hammersmith (Sir William Bull) said he was uneasy about this matter because had the bridge not begun to subside he thought the question of a wider bridge might never have arisen. At the risk of offending those who take the aesthetic view,

255although I do not desire to offend, I am going to try to put briefly another point of view. I am uneasy in another way. I feel that had this bridge not begun to subside, it would never have been regarded by many Members of this House, nor by many people outside, as the very important national monument which it is said to be. I have every respect for historical associations, but when I was told earlier this evening that this monument was to be compared with the Cenotaph, it made me hesitate. Another speaker told us something which led those who did not know this particular piece of history to see that there is some doubt whether the comparison with the Cenotaph is a fair one. This bridge, I understand, may have arrived at maturity some short time after the Battle of Waterloo, but it was begun four years before, and it is not, therefore, representative of any very unanimous or national desire to have it regarded as a permanent edifice for that object.
One can only examine the evidence in regard to the bridge, for as regards one’s own capacity of judging on one’s own knowledge, the question is exceedingly difficult. It may be said of me that perhaps I am in a peculiarly difficult position for I have not seen the bridge since I went over it 10 years ago on the way to Waterloo Station. Possibly that is a qualification for the ordinary man in the street who does not see the bridge either, although he is the man who will have to pay. He is the man who must be regarded by the London County Council. I hope it will be believed that I have every regard for the aesthetic view which is so strongly and firmly put forward, but I submit that that view represents the view of a very small minority, and that the ordinary man in the street, the ordinary traveller going to and from his work and, above all, the ratepayer whose money is being used by the County Council are entitled to primary consideration.
The right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said that he would agree to the demolition of the bridge were it shown that the cost of underpinning it or of reconstructing it in something like its present shape was out of all proportion to the usefulness of the bridge after

256such a process had taken place, and if at the same time it was shown that the present disadvantages of the bridge were really very grave. The evidence which can be obtained by anyone who cares to go into it at the County Council shows that these two conditions have been satisfied. It seems to me to be a considerable waste of money to spend something between £600,000 and £900,000 for a patched-up job, when for a very little more we could get a really fine modern bridge. The evidence which can be seen by anyone who cares to look for it, shows that both as regards road traffic and river traffic the second condition laid down by the right hon. Gentleman is met. That is to say, there is at present very serious embarrassment to both those types of traffic.
In view of the enormous increase of traffic in the last four years, it cannot be denied that in four or 40 years’ time these conditions would be very greatly aggravated. Then it is suggested that to make a new bridge here will postpone for a very long time the Charing Cross scheme. We have been shown conclusively, I think, that the Charing Cross scheme cannot come to fruition in any event for some considerable time. The Charing Cross Bridge is good for another 30 years, and if that is so, we must let it stay there for something like that time. At any rate, we cannot contemplate meantime embarking on a large expenditure which the Charing Cross scheme involves. I had the honour to be a member of the London County Council a year ago, when I voted for the demolition of this bridge thinking a final settlement had been come to, but the County Council in their wisdom through the action of others, held the matter over for 12 months. Further discussions took place, and I am bound to say my feeling, quite apart from any special inquiry I may have made in this matter, is that it would be very wise if this House took the advice of the London County Council. The London County Council have given very mature consideration to the matter. They have not lightly entered upon this matter which disturbed many of them from the aesthetic point of view more than it disturbed me. For my part, even if I had not inquired into the matter, I would suggest that the Debate here to-night

257must convince any person who has any special knowledge of the subject that this, the greatest of all municipal bodies, should be followed in the advice which after serious and anxious consideration it gives to the House.

 

Division No. 221.] AYES. [10.55 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Fairfax. Captain J. G. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Fenby, T. D. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf’ld.)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Fielden, E. B. Oakley, T.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Ford, Sir P. J. O’Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Balniel, Lord Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Grace, John Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Greene, W. P. Crawford Pennefather, Sir John
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper
Blundell, F. N. Harris, Percy A. Reid, D. D. (County Down)
Boothby, R. J. G. Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Bourne. Captain Robert Croft Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Rye, F. G.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Holland, Sir Arthur Salter, Dr. Alfred
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hopkins, J. W. W. Sandeman, A. Stewart
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Brown-Lindsay, Major H. Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Shepperson, E. W.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N’th’I’d., Hexham) Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh’n) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Huntingfield, Lord Smith, R. W. (Aberd’n & Kinc’dine, C.)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hurd, Percy A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Burman, J. B. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Jephcott, A. R. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Knox, Sir Alfred Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey;
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Lynn, Sir R. J. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Christie, J. A. MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Cooper, A. Duff McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Couper, J. B. McLean, Major A. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Crookshank, Cpt.H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Merriman, F. B. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Moore, Sir Newton J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Dlxey, A. C. Morden, Colonel Walter Grant Colonel Gretton and Sir Martin Conway.
Eden, Captain Anthony Morris, R. H.
Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Neville, R. J.
NOES.
Albery, Irving James Gillett, George M. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro’) Gower, Sir Robert Kelly, W. T.
Ammon, Charles George Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Kennedy, T.
Atkinson, C. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Kidd, J. (Linilthgow)
Barnes, A. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) King, Captain Henry Douglas
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Groves, T. Lamb, J. Q.
Barr, J. Grundy, T. W. Lansbury, George
Batey, Joseph Guest, L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Lawson, John James
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Lindley, F. W.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Looker, Herbert William
Broad, F. A. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Lougher, L.
Buchanan, G. Hanbury, C. Lowth, T.
Braithwaite, Major Hardie, George D. Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
Campbell, E. T. Harland, A. Lunn, William
Chapman, Sir S. Harrison, G. J. C. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Charleton, H. C. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Clarry, Reginald George Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Hawke, John Anthony March, S.
Compton, Joseph Hayday, Arthur Margesson, Captain D.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hayes. John Henry Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf’d, Henley) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Day, Colonel Harry Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Montague, Frederick
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Duckworth John Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Duncan, C. Hilton, Cecil Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Dunnico, H. Hirst, G. H. Murnin H.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwailty) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Naylor, T. E.
Elveden, Viscount Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw’k, Nun.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
England, Colonel A. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Forrest, W. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Palin, John Henry
Fraser, Captain Ian Hume, Sir G. H. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E. Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Perring, Sir William George
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen’l) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Gates, Percy Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton John William (Rhondda West) Ponsonby, Arthur

 

258656″>Question put,
“That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out Schedule 1, Part 1, Item 9.”

657″>The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes, 158.

 

259

Potts, John S. Stephen, Campbell Watts, Dr. T.
Radford, E. A. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Raine, W. Storry-Deans, R. Westwood, J.
Remer, J. R. Strickland, Sir Gerald Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur’y, Ch’ts’y) Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Tasker, Major R. Inigo Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianeily)
Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Thorn, Lt.- Col. J. G. (Dumbarton) Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Salmon, Major I. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland) Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Samuel, Samuel (W’dsworth, Putney) Thurtle, E. Windsor, Walter
Sanders, Sir Robert A. Townend, A. E. Wise, Sir Fredric
Sanderson, Sir Frank Varley, Frank B. Womersley, W. J.
Scurr, John Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Slaw Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Viant, S. P.
Shiels, Dr. Drummond Waddington, R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Smillie, Robert Warne, G. H. Sir Cyril Cobb and Mr. Gosling.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)

 

658″>Again considered in Committee.659″ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]

660″>Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question,
“That a sum, not exceeding £536,100, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for Relief arising out of Unemployment.”661″>Question again proposed.662”>Motion made, and Question, “That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,” put, and agreed to.—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]

663″>Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

664″>Resolution reported,
“That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to require an indication of origin to be given in the case of certain imported goods, it is expedient to authorise any expenses incurred by or in connection with any committee appointed for the purposes of the said Act, up to such amount as the Treasury may approve, to be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.” Resolution agreed to.
665″>Resolution reported,
“That it is expedient to charge on the Consolidated Fund any sums required by the Treasury for fulfilling any guarantees of the payment of interest or principal on any loans raised under any Act of the present Session to amend the law with respect to the supply of electricity which may be given by the Treasury under that Act.”666″>Resolution read a Second time.260667”>Motion made, and Question proposed, “That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.”

668″>Mr. G. BALFOUR: I do not wish to detain the House for more than a second, but I cannot allow this Resolution to pass without adding a word to the protest made on Friday last. We regard it as a very serious matter at this particular period to guarantee a sum which, under Clause 26, is £33,500,000. I simply wish, in a word, again to emphasise the protest which was made in this House on Friday last.

669″>Question put, and agreed to.

670″>”Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte, Mr. Ammon, and Mr. Smithers, nominated Members of the Select Committee on the Post Office (Sites) Bill.”—[Colonel Gibbs.]
671″>Order for Second Reading read, and discharged; Bill withdrawn.
672″>Order for Second Reading read, and discharged; Bill withdrawn.673″>The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
674″>Resolved, “That this House do now adjourn.”—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]675″>Adjourned accordingly at Seven Minutes after Eleven o’Clock.

 

261

Wednesday, 19th May, 1926.
676″>The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

 

677″>Manchester Ship Canal (Staff Superannuation) Bill (changed from “Manchester Ship Canal (Superannuation) Bill”),678″>Read the Third time, and passed.679″>Bethlem Hospital Bill [Lords] (by Order),

680″>Read a Second time, and committed.

681″>Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to insert therein such provisions as may be necessary for the purpose of confirming the agreement entered into between the governors of the hospital and the Right Honourable Viscount Rothermere with respect to Bethlem Hospital and for the vesting of the hospital site or part thereof in the London County Council as an open space and for any purposes incidental thereto.—[Sir George Hume.]

682″>Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Ilfracombe) Bill,

683″>Read the Third time, and passed.

684″>Helensburgh Gas Order Confirmation Bill [Lords],

685″>Read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.

686″>Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill,

687″>As amended, considered; to be read the Third time to-morrow.

688″>Mr. T. KENNEDY: I desire to present a petition on behalf of the Pathhead United Free Church, Kirkcaldy, which shows:
“That your petitioners view with alarm the proposal to raise Imperial revenue by 262the imposition of a tax on betting transactions; because the habit of betting and gambling is already very widespread and is doing serious harm to the well-being of the nation; and because your petitioners believe that to raise revenue by such a tax would tend to root the hurtful practice more deeply in the nation’s life. Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray your honourable House to reject the aforesaid proposal.689″>And your petitioners will ever pray.

690″ (Signed) DONALD GRAY

691″ align=”right”>(Moderator).

692″ align=”right”>JAMES BRODIE

693″ align=”right”>(Session Clerk).”

694″>I desire also to present similar petitions on behalf of the following:

695″>James Gillespie, Moderator, Normand Road United Free Church, Dysart.

696″>William Muir, Session Clerk.

697″>John McCracken, Moderator, Erskine United Free Church, Burntisland.

698″>David Thomson, Session Clerk,

699″>Stewart D. Gray, Moderator, Victoria Road United Free Church, Kirkcaldy.

700″>John Barnes, Session Clerk.

701″>James G. Calderwood, Moderator, Loughborough Road United Free Church, Kirkcaldy.

702″>Robert Taylor, Session Clerk.

703″>John McLennan, Moderator, Methil United Free Church, Methil.

704″>James D. Allan, Session Clerk.

705″>Return ordered “of Street and Road Tramways and Light Railways authorised by Act or Order, showing the amount of capital authorised, paid up, and expended; the length of line authorised and the length open for traffic, and number of cars owned at the 31st day of December, 1925, in respect of companies, and the end of the financial year 1925–26 in respect of local authorities; the gross receipts, working expenditure, net receipts, and appropriations, the transactions in reserve funds, and traffic and operating statistics for the year ended on the foregoing dates, respectively (in continuation of Return to an Order of
263the House, dated the 12th day of May, 1925); also similar particulars relating to Trackless Trolley Undertakings.”—[Colonel Ashley.]

 

706″>1. Sir FREDRIC WISE asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if France has paid her share in regard to the 1855 Guaranteed Ottoman 4 per cent. Loan and the Cyprus Tribute?707″>The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain): No, Sir.
708″>3. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the proceedings of the Conference at Geneva, dealing with questions affecting passports, are to be published; and, if so, can he state by what date a Report will be available?709″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: This is a matter for the Conference itself to determine, and I regret that I am, therefore, not in a position to answer the hon. Member’s question.
710″>4. Major KINDERSLEY asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Zinovieff, Lozovsky, Radek, Trotsky, and other prominent Russians, members of the Soviet Government, have published statements that the general strike in this country was political and an important stage towards the Communist revolution, and that contributions from Russian workmen will enable the British rank and file of the strikers to continue the struggle and prove that their leaders have lied in denying the political nature of the strike; and whether, in view of the fact that such statements emanating from such sources are inconsistent with the friendly relations 264officially existing between His Majesty’s Government and the Soviet Government, he has made or will make representations to the said Government on the subject?711″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: I am aware of statements of the kind mentioned which have been, made recently by individuals holding official positions in Moscow. I am awaiting further information before deciding what, if any, steps to take.

712″>Mr. WALLHEAD: Is it not a fact that most of the persons mentioned in the question are not members of the Russian Government; secondly, is it not true that Members of His Majesty’s present Government, notably the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made opprobrious speeches in regard to the Russian Government; and, thirdly, is it not true that most of the money referred to has been raised by the Russian Trade Union movement itself?

713″>Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT: Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been called to the fact that not many months ago the statement was publicly made by Zinovieff that the industrial life of this country was to be brought to an end on 1st May?

714″>Mr. PALING: Is it not true that less than two months ago equally unfriendly statements have been made towards the Russian Government in this House?

715″>Sir A. CHAIMBERLAIN: I do not think there is anything for me to do except to thank hon. Members for having given me the information they have.

716″>Commander OLIVER LOCKER-LAMPSON: Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the time has come to withdraw recognition from the Russian Government?

717″>Mr. WALLHEAD: Are we not going to have the questions answered by the right hon. Gentleman?

718″>6. Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now able to give the House an approximate figure of the amount lost in wages throughout Great Britain during the period of the general strike; and, if not, whether he can say at what date such approximate figure will be available?265719″>The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Betterton): I cannot say how long it will take to collect the necessary figures, but I hope it may be possible to do so within about a month.

720″>Sir H. BRITTAIN: May I put down this question again in, say, four weeks time?

721″>Mr. BETTERTON: Yes, Sir.

722″>Mr. BECKETT: If the hon. Gentleman is publishing a statement of this kind, will he make out a full statement and include, with the losses, both wages and profits?

723″>Mr. BETTERTON: I do not think it is possible to give anything in regard to the latter. In regard to the former I will give all the information I can.

724″>Sir H. CROFT: Will the hon. Gentleman consider the matter in order that the country may know, and be clear, on the enormous loss of profit, and the consequent loss to the revenue owing to the strike?

725″>Mr. BETTERTON: Yes, Sir, I will certainly do what I can.

726″>Mr. HADEN GUEST (by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that 37 men belonging to the National Union of Printing, Book-binding, Machine Ruling and Paper Workers, who were unemployed before the recent strike, and in receipt of unemployment benefit at the Walworth Road Employment Exchange, have now been debarred from benefit on the ground that they are not genuinely seeking work or they are not able to obtain suitable employment, and if he will state whether these men have now been refused benefit with his authority?727″>Mr. BETTERTON: These cases have not previously been brought to my notice. I will have inquiry made, and let the hon. Member know the result.728″>Mr. GUEST: Will the Parliamentary Secretary very carefully reconsider any decision which may have been made in view of the unfortunate effect which that decision may have on public feeling at the present time?

266729″>Mr. BETTERTON: I will, of course, consider any case which is brought to my notice.

730″>5. Mr. ROBERT YOUNG asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that Clause 11 of Admiralty Fleet Order 743, referring to the 1926 Welfare Conference, prevents naval ratings from submitting for consideration matters which they consider important; whether the decision that no request is to be repeated which has previously received the reply that the decision is to be regarded as final, can be modified in such a way that requests which have in part been submitted may be reconsidered; and whether, in view of altered or altering conditions, the word final can be modified to mean for a definite and stated period of time before the request can be renewed?731″>The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Davidson): I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 9th December to the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (OFFICIAL REPORT, cols. 432–3).732″>Mr. YOUNG: If these matters are refused reconsideration, will that not mean that welfare conferences will Boon come to an end?

733″>Mr. DAVIDSON: No, Sir.

734″>7. Mr. DUCKWORTH asked the Postmaster-General whether he will arrange for the British Broadcasting Company to continue permanently to broadcast part of its special service of news and comment initiated during the recent emergency?735″>The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson): The arrangements for the distribution of news by means of the British Broadcasting Company’s stations are governed by an agreement between the Company and the Press. This agreement will expire with the termination of the present licence to the Company on the 31st December next, and the new Broadcasting Authority267which it is proposed to set up will be free to make fresh arrangements for the broadcasting of news.

736″>8. Mr. T. KENNEDY asked the Postmaster-General the number of 1st class certificates in radiotelegraphy gained by students at schools in the following areas since 1st January, 1925: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bournemouth, and London?737″>Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON: The numbers are as follow: Glasgow, 8; Newcastle, 13; Liverpool, 26; Manchester, 14; Birmingham, none; Cardiff, 46; Bournemouth, 43; and London, 211.
738″>9. Sir F. WISE asked the President of the Board of Trade the position in regard to the Government’s advances against flax?739″>Mr. A. M. SAMUEL (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department): I presume my hon. Friend is referring to advances made to certain firms six years ago against the export of flax under the Advances Scheme which is no longer in operation. The Department is at present working upon the accounts connected with these flax transactions, and will apply shortly to the Treasury for a write-off of the losses incurred.740″>Sir F. WISE: May I ask the hon. Gentleman what will be the approximate loss?

741″>Mr. SAMUEL: I have not been able to obtain details to enable me to form any conclusion at the moment, but I will let my hon. Friend know in due course.

742″>10. Mr. T. WILLIAMS asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware that hundreds of children at Armthorpe, near Doncaster, are deprived of any education because of lack of accommodation: that unless temporary schools 268are erected many of these children will receive no education for two years or more; and will he insist upon the county committee providing temporary facilities at the earliest possible moment?743″>The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Lord Eustace Percy): I am aware of the need for the provision of additional school accommodation at Armthorpe. Plans for 350 additional places, forming the first instalment of a permanent school for 1,000 children, were approved by my Department last August, and, pending the erection of this building, about 330 children have been provided for in temporary premises opened last year. I have no doubt that the local authority are proceeding as quickly as possible with the provision required to meet the needs of the rapidly developing industrial parts of their area.

744″>Mr. WILLIAMS: Is the noble Lord aware that a permanent school is likely to take from 18 months to two years to erect, and will the Board insist upon the West Riding Education Committee making temporary provision, since every child in the district over 10 years of age is receiving no education at all?

745″>Lord E. PERCY: I will ask the local authority whether they can provide temporary accommodation.

746″>11. Mr. HADEN GUEST asked the Minister of Transport whether it is the intention of the Government to make any payment out of the Road Fund, or otherwise, towards the cost of the building of St. Paul’s Bridge across the Thames; and what arrangements it is proposed to make to rehouse the population in Southwark who will be displaced by this building?747″>The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): As regards the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave on the 4th May to my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth, of which I am sending him a copy. As regards the second part of the question, I would point out that rehousing is primarily a matter for the local authorities concerned.748″>Mr. GUEST: In view of the very great obscurity which surrounds the question

269of building St. Paul’s Bridge, will the Government consider the desirability of referring the matter to a special Committee to consider the bridges over the Thames in London as a whole?

749″>Sir WILLIAM DAVISON: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there is a great consensus of opinion against building a bridge at St. Paul’s at all, and, on the other hand, a desire for building a bridge at Charing Cross; and will he make representations to the City Corporation, who have large funds in hand for the building of bridges, and see whether they would not consent to consider the building of a bridge at Charing Cross, which is urgently needed, rather than at St. Paul’s.

750″>Colonel ASHLEY: The second Supplementary question goes rather outside the scope of the question on the Paper. With regard to the first supplementary of the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Guest) I must say that a grant for the approaches to (St. Paul’s bridge was indicated by the Ministry of Transport some time ago, and it is now in abeyance till the whole question of the bridges has been further considered.

751″>Mr. GUEST: Is the question going to be reconsidered by the Government, or is it being referred to the Bridge and House Estates Committee; and might I also ask whether the right hon. Gentleman does not think that it is only a Committee appointed by the Government that will be in a position to solve this very important question?

752″>Colonel ASHLEY: So far as the Road Fund goes, with which I am only concerned, I am reviewing the question of the bridges as a whole.

753″>Major Sir GRANVILLE WHELER: In making this large grant for work of this kind, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there is a great and increasing demand for unclassified roads?

754″>Colonel ASHLEY: Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will allow me to point out that the larger amount of money for the Road Fund comes from the big towns.

755″>Colonel DAY: In regard to the latter part of the question as to the people being turned out of their houses, will the right hon. Gentleman make representa-

270tions to the local authorities, which have big housing estates, that they should allow these people to occupy the houses?

756″>Colonel ASHLEY: That is primarily a matter for the local authorities.

757″>2. Mr. FENBY (for Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any further statement on the situation in Poland?758″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: The information in my possession confirms the statements published in the Press that the fighting in Warsaw is now over, that the President of the Republic and the Cabinet have resigned, that a provisional Government has been formed under the auspices of Marshal Pilsudski, and that steps are now being taken to elect a new President and to form a permanent Government.
759″>12. Colonel DAY asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to secure employment for lads discharged from prison after serving sentence; if any positions have been found for lads leaving prison in the years 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925; and, if so, how many and what was the nature of the employment found?760″>The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks): The difficult task of finding employment for young prisoners on discharge is undertaken at local prisons by the Young Prisoners’ Committees, who are responsible for the arrangements for their disposal and after-care. These Committees are composed of members of the Prisoners’ Aid Society, visiting magistrates, superior officers of the prison, and suitable voluntary workers. Lads and girls discharged from Borstal Institutions are dealt with by the Borstal Association. For the results achieved by these agencies during the years mentioned by the hon. Member, I would refer him to the Annual Reports of the Prison Com-271missioners, in which the available information is contained; that for 1925, however, is not yet ready.

761″>Colonel DAY: Cannot we have an answer to the last part of the question, as to how many of these boys have obtained employment?

762″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: If the hon. and gallant Member will read the Report of the Prison Commissioners, he will find full information.

763″>13. Sir F. WISE asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what revenue or taxes are pledged by Germany as security for reparations; and what did they realise in 1925?764″>The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Ronald McNeill): The revenues assigned as collateral security for the payments to be made from the German budgets under the Dawes Plan are the Customs, and the Tobacco, Beer, Alcohol and Sugar Taxes. The amount produced by these taxes in 1925 was approximately 1,809 million reichmarks (say £90,000,000). The Transportation Tax on railway receipts is also payable to the Reparation Commission under the Dawes Plan up to an amount of £12,500,000 in 1925–26, and up to an amount of £14,500,000 thereafter. The yield of the tax in 1925 was £16,000,000.
765″>14. Sir HENRY BUCKINGHAM asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of assessments made for Income Tax under Schedules D and E, respectively, for the years 1924–25 and 1925–26; the number of additional assessments which have been made under Schedules D and E for 1924–25 and 1925–26, respectively; and the number of reductions of assessments made under Schedules D and E for the same years?766″>Mr. McNEILL: I regret that the information which my hon. Friend desires is not available.
767″>16. Mr. MACQUISTEN asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the 272undesirability of allowing the means of transport of the masses of the people of London to be in the hands of a monopoly, he will cause the London Traffic Act, which tends to create such monopoly, to be amended so as to permit any of His Majesty’s subjects to ply for hire without interference by the Minister of Transport, and meantime direct that all prosecutions against any of the independent omnibus proprietors be forthwith abandoned?768″>Colonel ASHLEY: I have been asked to answer this question. I am unable to accept the conclusion of my hon. Friend that the London Traffic Act tends to create a monopoly in the passenger transport services in London, nor can I agree that it would be in the public interest to allow the uncontrolled operation of vehicles plying for hire upon the streets. In every other city in England the number of hackney vehicles is controlled, and the necessity for such control is no less in London that other cities. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by me yesterday to a question by the hon. Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain) of which I am sending him a copy.

769″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the more omnibuses there are in London which are run by the men who own them and drive them, the safer we shall be from any traffic interruption; and does he not also agree, whatever the Statute may say, that he has no more right to stop men running these omnibuses in the streets than the pickets have?

770″>The following question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. MACQUISTEN:771″>17. Mr. MACQUISTEN asked the Prime Minister whether, in any legislation directed to restoring to the ordinary members of trade unions of employers or employed the control of their organisations, he will ensure that not only the male members of such organisations shall have a vote on all questions of the cessation or resumption of work, but also that the wives of all members of any union,273in respect that they are more deeply affected by industrial strife than are their husbands, shall also be entitled to vote on such issues, and that the vote of the male members shall not be counted unless their wives also vote?

772″>Mr. THURTLE: On a point of Order. I submit that this question is hypothetical in its nature, and therefore out of Order.

773″>Mr. SPEAKER: I think the hon. Member is right. I had not observed it. The question refers to some hypothetical legislation, and is therefore out of Order.

774″>Mr. CAMPBELL (by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether, having regard to the railway companies being unable to run excursion trains, and that the workers are short of money, owing to the disastrous strike, he has considered the advisability of postponing the Whit Monday Bank Holiday to the Tuesday following the August Bank Holiday?775″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I have no evidence that there is any general desire for such a change, and I cannot think it would be to the public convenience to change the date of the Bank Holiday at such short notice.776″>Mr. CAMPBELL: Was not a similar course taken in 1916?

777″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: That is almost like referring to what Mr. Gladstone said in 1872.

778″>Mr. WALLHEAD: Could not the brigade of volunteers that you have enrolled find conveyances for the people who cannot travel?

779″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: May I ask the Prime Minister a question, of which I have given him private notice, namely, whether his attention—780″>Mr. SPEAKER: I do not think I have seen that question.781″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: I served it on the Prime Minister. May I pass it on to you now, Sir?

274782″>Mr. SPEAKER: I thought the hon. and learned Member was rising to ask a supplementary question when I called on him. I have received no private notice of this question from him.

783″>Mr. MACQUISTEN: May I hand it to you now, Sir?

784″>Commander LOCKER-LAMPSON (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Russian Soviet Government has asked that the official status of its representatives at Chesham House should be raised from that of a Legation to that of an Embassy?785″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: Verbal inquiry on this subject was recently made by the Soviet Chargé d’Affaires, who stated that he had received instructions to send an official note on the subject. I have not yet received the note, and therefore have not had occasion to give any reply.
786″>Mr. THURTLE (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been called to the fact that three British subjects have been convicted, and sentenced to heavy terms of imprisonment, on charges of espionage in France, and if he has any statement to make on the matter?787″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: Yes, Sir. His Majesty’s Ambassador at Paris has informed me of the sentences passed upon these three British subjects. In the month of December, when they were arrested, Lord Crewe, on instructions from His Majesty’s Government, issued the following démenti:
“Statements having appeared in the Press regarding the arrest of certain British subjects representing the Bleriot-Burndept Wireless Company in Paris on an alleged charge of espionage in France, His Majesty’s Embassy is authorised to declare that no Department of His Majesty’s Government is in any way connected with or has any knowledge of the activities of the firm in question.” 

275788″>Mr. THURTLE: In view of the antecedents of one of these men, who was in the British Intelligence Department, will the right hon. Gentleman now declare that the Government have no connection whatever with the work which these men have been carrying on?

789″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: When His Majesty’s Government authorise His Majesty’s representative in Paris to make a statement, and that statement is made in the terms which I have read to the House, further confirmation by His Majesty’s Ministers is quite unnecessary.

790″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: Are we to understand that the tribunal in France which tried this case ventures to doubt the statement of His Majesy’s Ministers on this matter?

791″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: I have not seen a report of the trial, I only know its result, but I have no reason to suppose that the judgment of the tribunal indicates any doubt as to the truth of the statement made by His Majesty’s Government, and in any case that statement is made by His Majesty’s Government on their authority.

792″>Mr. AMMON: May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has not made the denunciation on behalf of the firm? The question was whether he denies any knowledge on the part of the Government in respect of these people?

793″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: My answer, if the hon. Member will be good enough to read the démenti which was published last December, and which I have read now, refers, as he will see, to His Majesty’s Government.

794″>Mr. T. WILLIAMS: Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell the House when last, if ever, any one of the persons referred to received money for secret service work from this Government?

795″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: I cannot tell that without—

796″>Mr. SPEAKER: Such a question as that, and any other question on this subject, affecting another State, must be put down.

797″>Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN: May I appeal to hon. Gentlemen to consider the effect

276of the questions they are putting. What their object is I do not know, but I am sure it cannot be to cast doubt upon the statements which His Majesty’s Government has made, which I have read to the House, and which I will now repeat:
“His Majesty’s Embassy is authorised to declare that no Department of His Majesty’s Government is in any way connected with or has any knowledge of the activities of the firm in question.”

 

798″>Resolved,
“That this House do meet To-morrow, at Eleven of the Clock; that no Questions be taken after Twelve of the Clock; that at Three of the Clock, unless previously concluded, Mr. Speaker shall put every Question necessary to conclude the Proceedings on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, and that at Six of the Clock, unless previously adjourned, Mr. Speaker shall adjourn the House without Question put.” —[The Prime Minister.]
799″>That they have agreed to,—800″>Ayrshire Electricity Order Confirmation Bill, without Amendment.801″>That they have passed a Bill, intituled, “An Act to confirm a Provisional Order, under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway.” [London, Midland, and Scottish Railway Order Confirmation Bill [Lords.]

802″>And also, a Bill, intituled, “An Act to confer further powers on the Abertillery and District Water Board.” [Abertillery and District Water Board Bill [Lords.]

803″>Ordered (under Section 7 of the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1899) to be considered Tomorrow.
804″>Read the First time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
277
805″>Reported, with Amendments, from the Local Legislation Committee (Section B); Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.

 

806″>Colonel DAY asked the Postmaster-General the number of chars-a-bane or other conveyances that were engaged to transport the employés to and from their occupation from 1st to 14th May, 1926, and the cost of same?807″>Viscount WOLMER: One hundred and thirty-nine chars-a-banc were engaged for the transport of telephone and telegraph employés to and from their work in London, and the cost was about £15,000.

 

808″>Colonel DAY asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of naval ratings that were employed at the Port of London Authority or other docks in Great Britain from 1st to 14th May; and on what duties they were engaged?809″>Mr. DAVIDSON: The number of naval ranks and ratings employed at the Port of London Authority or other docks in Great Britain from 1st to 14th May was as follows:

Operating duties 23 457
Protection duties 67 1,043

810″>Colonel DAY asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if any naval ratings were employed in the mines from 1st to 14th May, 1926; and, if so, in which mines they were so employed, and on what duties they were engaged?

811″>Mr. DAVIDSON: No naval ranks or ratings were employed in the mines.

812″>Colonel DAY asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if any naval ratings were employed upon the railways operating in

278Great Britain between 1st and 14th May, 1926; and, if so, in what capacity they were so employed, and the numbers so engaged?

813″>Mr. DAVIDSON: No naval ranks or ratings were employed on the railways.

 

814″>Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Undersecretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, when the parks taken over by His Majesty’s Government in connection with the strike will again be available for the public; and what cost, if any, has fallen upon his Department during the period in which these parks have been closed?815″>Captain HACKING: Regent’s Park has already been re-opened, and Hyde Park is to be re-opened to the public to-morrow. These are the only parks with which the First Commissioner is concerned. He is not yet in a position to state the cost which has fallen on the Department in connection with the use made of the parks during the strike.

 

816″>Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary the number of casualties and the nature of same that occurred to any of the officers or men of the special constabulary in the Metropolitan Police area since 3rd May?817″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: There were 26 casualties, 18 as the result of assaults and eight as the result of motor cycle collisions, etc. In three cases the injuries were somewhat serious, one special constable suffering a broken wrist, another was stabbed with a chisel, while a third received severe cuts about the face.

818″>Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary how many metal helmets and truncheons were issued to the Special Constabulary recruited in the Metropolitan Police area since 3rd May?

819″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: 43,800 truncheons were issued to the Special Constabulary, and 11,000 truncheons and helmets were issued to the Civil Constabulary Reserve in the Metropolitan area.

 

279820″>Sir G. BUTLER asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has received any representations as to the hardship which may be caused to prospective candidates for the Consular service by the inclusion at short notice of economics as a compulsory subject at the forthcoming; competitive entrance examination; what action he proposes to take; and whether, in view of the inconvenience caused in many directions, he can undertake that alterations in the syllabus of examinations for entrance to the services under his control shall not be made without such notice as shall remove hardship for candidates from the universities?

821″>Mr. A. M. SAMUEL: My attention has been called to the matter, but I am of opinion that it would be impracticable at this date to make any change in the syllabus of the examination this year. I can assure my hon. Friend that in case of any changes in future in the syllabus of such examinations every effort will be made to give adequate notice to intending candidates.

 

822″>Mr. R. YOUNG asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will afford opportunities for engine-room artificer apprentices on His Majesty’s Ship “Fisgard” taking the open competition in June for 25 special entry cadets for the Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham, Devonport, or whether he will consider the advisability of filling, in whole or in part, the 25 vacancies for engineering cadets from the apprentices now being trained in His Majesty’s Ship “Fisgard” at Portsmouth?823″>Mr. BRIDGEMAN: The “Fisgard” Establishment is one for the training of mechanics for His Majesty’s Naval Service, and the present facilities open to apprentices of outstanding ability and qualifications to become commissioned officers are considered adequate. The answer to the second part of the question is that such action would not meet the requirements of the Service.

 

280824″>Sir A. SPROT asked the Minister of transport what is the present position of matters as regards the obtaining of way-leave from certain proprietors in Salsburgh to permit of the laying of an electric cable, the want of which is holding up the public lighting of the Salsburgh district, Lanarkshire?

825″>Colonel ASHLEY: Objection has been taken to the power company’s application for the wayleaves to which my hon. Friend refers, and a further inquiry, for which I hope to make arrangements at an early date, will be necessary.

 

826″>Sir L. SCOTT asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, since the Finance Act, 1925, was in Committee, he has considered the Amendment then moved that upon profits of industrial companies put to reserve for replacement of obsolescent plant and machinery or other purposes of development a lower rate of Income Tax should be payable; what steps, if any, he has taken to consider, in consultation with the interests affected, the best way of giving practical effect to the proposal; and whether he will endeavour, in consultation with the interests affected, to arrive at a solution of the problem capable of adoption when the finances of the country permit it?827″>Mr. RONALD McNEILL: The proposal to which my hon. and learned Friend refers has received the careful consideration of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he will continue to explore it, but for the present, at any rate, he does not see his way to make proposals for a relief which would be both costly and complicated.

 

828″>Colonel DAY asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total number of £1 notes and 10s. currency notes issued for the 12 months to the last convenient date?829″>Mr. R. McNEILL: The figures are as follow:

281

£1 notes
10s. notes
Currency Notes Certificates.

282

 

283 

830″>Order for Second Reading read.831″>Motion made, and Question proposed, “That the Bill be now read a Second time.”832”>Mr. WILLIAM GRAHAM: I beg to move, to leave out the word “now,” and, at the end of the Question, to add the words “upon this day six months.”
The Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill affords an opportunity to review some of the larger financial problems which confront the country. It is the practice in connection with our financial discussion to reserve a great deal of the details for the Debate on the Evolutions voted immediately after the Budget speech and for the Committee stage of the Bill itself. Accordingly this afternoon I propose to follow the usual practice on these occasions of selecting only one or two of the larger subjects and inviting the consideration of hon. Members to those particular questions. The great difficulty we have in discussing the Finance Bill this year is that it is increasingly hard to ascertain the kind of financial principles which this Government is pursuing.
Throughout the whole range of their financial operations the principles upon which they have proceeded are such as no ordinary man can unravel. During the discussion of the Committee stage of this Measure I think we shall be able- to show great inconsistency and contradiction, more particularly in the dangerous policy of raiding one fund after another in order to balance the Budget, extending tariffism, and embarking on a Betting Duty which many of us believe to be financially and industrially disastrous. Leaving aside all considerations of that kind I propose to deal with two or three of the larger problems. The first of these problems is that dealing with the structure of the Income Tax in Great Britain. The House will observe that in this Bill there is a proposal to depart from the three years’ average which has been in operation for a considerable time under Schedule D, and to substitute for a great field of taxable material the basis of the preceding year

284The Royal Commission on the Income Tax in 1919 reviewed this question at great length; and, therefore, it is unnecessary to urge that this matter is one of vital importance at a time when our Income Tax and Super-tax together are producing £350,000,000 per annum.
All hon. Members, whatever their view in fiscal matters may be, should be satisfied that the administration of the Income Tax is on a sound basis. We want to be quite sure that we are collecting from all the people who are legally liable all that they ought to pay. The Royal Commission, in its analysis of the recommendations, agreed that the best proposal was the year of assessment itself. There is not the least doubt that that is the ideal basis for any Income Tax. It is the basis which is nearest to the time in which the profits are being made. From many points of view that is a system which secures that payment will be made with ease and convenience by the taxpayers of the time. The Royal Commission, however, as a body of tolerably practical people, were driven to the conclusion that the sacrifice which would be involved in the year of transition, at a time when the yield of Income Tax in this country was from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000, would be too great, and accordingly they fell back upon the recommendation—unanimously, if I remember aright—that the figures for the preceding year should be adopted, and that recommendation has been embodied by the present Government in the Finance Bill of this year.
Let me make it perfectly plain at this stage that we on this side of the House will offer no objection to that part of the scheme, subject to certain detailed explanations which I think the whole House will undeniably require; but we are entitled this afternoon very strongly to attack what the Government are failing to do or refraining from doing in other important Departments of the Income Tax structure. I shall have very little difficulty in showing that, up to a point, their failure to adopt other recommendations, which were unanimous, of the Royal Commission in 1919, is leading to a somewhat lopsided position in regard to Income Tax in Great Britain. Shortly, the position is that, since the Royal Commission reported, this House

285has given effect to practically every recommendation of that Commission which involved a sacrifice of revenue, and, to be perfectly frank on the point, the adoption of those recommendations led to certain concessions to people of minor income in the community which certainly were urgently required; but the House up to the present time has practically failed, save in one or two minor points, to give effect to other recommendations of the Royal Commission which are of vital importance to the taxpayers and to the Government of the day.
Let us single out two of the recommendations. What the Royal Commission submitted to this country was not a series of incidental propositions. It offered to the Government of the day and to succeeding Governments a scheme for Income Tax administration, and included in that scheme there were two recommendations, one of which dealt with the evasion of Income Tax, and the other with the placing of the agricultural community on a basis of assessment in line with that of other taxpayers, for all practical purposes, in the State. It is increasingly important to try to direct the attention of Parliament to the situation which has arisen. Many of us never subscribed to the extravagant statements as to tax evasion which were made, even to the Royal Commission itself; but I am bound to remind the House, and certainly the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, that there were reliable witnesses who said that round about that time, including the Excess Profits Duty, as much as £100,000,000 had been lost to the Exchequer by evasion over a short term of years; and they went on to say that in their view the annual amount lost by evasion was not less than something between £5,000,000 and £10,000,000. Many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House who are familiar with these matters think it is a great deal more, but even if it is only £5,000,000 to £10,000,000 at the present time, that is an amount which should be collected by the Exchequer, and the evasion of which is a manifest injustice to other taxpayers who are dong their duty under the law as it stands.
The Royal Commission recommended, I agree, certain tolerably drastic proposals, including the calling for certain

286information which is vitally necessary if this tax is to be properly administered, and some additional powers for the Treasury and the Income Tax authorities. It has always been our regret, on this side of the House, that, in the conflict which was provoked by the Revenue Bill of the Coalition Government, many of these valuable proposals of the Royal Commission totally disappeared. Now we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who is raiding, as I have already said, every fund in creation for the purpose of balancing his Budget, driven to propose in this House a duty on betting, but neglecting year by year to gather up anything between £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 of revenue which competent authorities say is lying to his hand if these recommendations are enforced. During the Committee stage of this Bill we shall again press these proposals of the Royal Commission.
The other point in Income Tax administration to which we have regularly directed attention on this side of the House has been the system of assessing the agricultural community. As hon. Members know, the farmer to-day has an option of being assessed for Income Tax purposes on the basis of one time the annual valuation or his annual rent, or of making his return in the ordinary way showing his profit under Schedule D, and I am advised that, notwithstanding the agricultural depression of recent times, a comparatively small number of farmers have exercised the option of being assessed on the basis of actual profits. Here, again, the Royal Commission in 1919 made a unanimous recommendation. They said that no longer could the community tolerate the excuse, or the suggestion, that farmers did not keep books, and therefore could not make proper returns. I invite any hon. Member in this House who has ever owed anything to a farmer to tell me that farmers do not keep books. That argument has now disappeared. The unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission has, however, not been followed, and the consequence is that we go on taxing the agricultural community in this country on a quite exceptional and quite indefensible basis.
Hon. Members will agree with me that, while there has been agricultural depres-

287sion during recent years, there could be no hardship to any man who is assessed on the basis of what he is actually earning as income year by year, and, moreover, this has become increasingly important for a series of other reasons. This Government, anxious to help the agricultural community directly and indirectly, has embarked upon one form of subsidy after another. The subsidy to beet sugar was defended, very largely, on the ground that it was going to be a benefit to agriculture, and there are many concealed subsidies in connection with local rating which affect the agricultural community. All these things have been conferred at a time and in circumstances when we cannot say with accuracy what fanners are earning, because we do not get returns to that effect. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that not only is it necessary that his information in this respect should be complete, but that it is a matter of elementary justice to the taxpayers as a whole that he should have that information without delay, and that he should adopt that part of the recommendations of the Royal Commission and make his scheme one complete whole, assessing all classes engaged in trade on the basis of the profits which they actually earn.
That is all that I propose to say at this stage upon the large general issue which is raised by the proposals of the Bill in regard to taking the figures for the previous year as the basis of assessment for Income Tax purposes. I now turn to what has been the subject of considerable debate in this House, namely, the great expenditure during the War and the apparent stabilisation of expenditure at about £800,000,000 during the past two or three years. There has settled down on some classes interested in financial problems a kind of fatalism. They say that, with prices at their present level, with the fixed burden, as they regard it, of the National Debt, and with other obligations, there is practically no possibility of reducing our Budgets very much below £800,000,000 in the near future. This afternoon, mainly because we shall be discussing this subject during the Committee stage, I will not enlarge upon what hon. and right hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House have said already regard-

288ing the Debt, but there are two other great blocks of expenditure which I believe members both of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Estimates Committee, and others, will agree call for very special investigation. There is, first of all, £116,000,000 which we are finding this year for armaments, and, secondly, approximately £240,000,000 which is expended on what are now described as the social services. We desire to see that expenditure on armaments drastically cut down. We recognise that we must rely on international agreement leading to a better state of affairs, but I am going to suggest that there are immediate steps which the Chancellor can take for a fair reduction of expenditure without any injustice to the interests that are primarily involved.
What has been the experience of practically every Committee that has investigated this expenditure in recent times? I cannot speak of the results of the latest Committee that has been engaged on the subject, but the great difficulty of representative Committees in this House is that of getting near to the actual facts of the situation. You may examine witnesses from the Departments at very great length, but you can only deal with the problem in bulk. You can only ascertain large scale figures. Moreover, to every proposa1 for reduction which is put up there are reams of argument and every kind of case for the maintenance of the conditions as you find them. Unless this House is prepared to put two or three people inside these Departments, more or less permanently to sit down with the officials and find out exactly what is going on, I am afraid there is very little hope unless we adopt another proposal. If we cannot get at it by means of investigation through all these Committees, we can with safety impose the duty upon the Departments themselves. Let us assume, for a moment, that there will be some coordination of these services in the near future. I would say, in the light of our experience in representative Committees in recent times, that you could to-day impose an overhead cut of £5,000,000 each year for three years on the Departments.

833″>The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill): On each?

834″>Mr. GRAHAM: On all—I am making a very moderate proposal—of £5,000,000,

289and throw on them the duty of effecting economies within that limit, and in three years, at least, if that programme were adopted, you would have wiped off about £15,000,000 of this expenditure. In my view it is not merely enough, but I believe that in the process you would find out what could be done. It is only by a device of this kind that you are going to force upon the Departments engaged in this class of expenditure the task of achieving economy. That is one definite suggestion that I make in a Debate of this kind. Much as we deplore the financial methods of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I have always said that none of us to-day are relieved of the duty of throwing into the common pool every concrete suggestion we can offer, and I think there are many Members of the House who will agree that that is a suggestion which should be considered.
I turn to another sphere which has become highly controversial within recent times. We are spending about £240,000,000 per annum on the social services, and the policy the Government have so far adopted appears to be one calculated, unless the services are to be restricted, to throw increasing obligations upon the local authorities, with the idea that we are going by that route to reduce the burden on the State. Accordingly, what has been proposed is, during the present year, stabilisation of the percentage grant system or its continuance in terms of the method that is already in force, but during that time anxious inquiry as to an alteration of the basis and, unless we are wrong in all our forecasts, the fixing of some form of block grant by the State, probably for a period of three years, and then request the local authorities to do all they can within the limited sum placed at their disposal, with no doubt a certain greater measure of freedom from centralised control. Hon. Members might say at once: “If you object to a block grant or an overhead cut in the social services, why do you recommend it in the case of armaments?” I recommend it because the two circumstances are entirely different. Except to a very limited extent, the vast expenditure on armaments is not productive in the true sense, and all experience has shown that it does not even bring us security. It is altogether different in the sphere of the social services. Many of these social

290services are, for all practical purposes, new. They are only beginning to find out the task with which they are confronted, especially in the crowded centres of population, but they are beginning to minister effectively to the health and strength of our industrial population, without which there can be no true economic recovery in this land or in any other, and it is just at this time that this, as we regard it, mischievous policy of the Government is introduced and when it is proposed by a kind of block grant to replace the percentage system.
But there is another charge. In 1922, following a recommendation by the Geddes Committee, which in my judgment was very imperfectly considered, the Coalition Government appointed a Committee to consider the percentage grant system. That Committee, of which some of us were members, took a great mass of evidence. It is common knowledge that 85 per cent. of that evidence was against any serious modification of the percentage grant system. But to this day that Committee has never reported, and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced this policy, at all events through the President of the Board of Education and other Departments, before the Report has been produced. Even if he decides to run counter to what undeniably would be the recommendation of the Report if it were in line with the evidence, it is surely the plain duty of the right hon. Gentleman to obtain that information for us before the proposals of next year are introduced. To the best of my knowledge there is no likelihood of the Report being forthcoming, yet we are apparently to be committed to a scheme of this kind.
There are one or two drastic and final objections to the proposal. It violates an economic argument which has been put forward, not by men on our side of the House at all, but of a very representative character in problems of taxation. The great tendency in the State has been towards personal taxes rather than taxation of buildings, plant or fixed machinery. It is otherwise, of course, in the case of the local authorities, and to a very large extent they rely to-day on taxation imposed upon the annual valuation of property. Everyone recognises that that is not nearly so true to the principle of ability to pay, yet unless

291those services are restricted, it means that there will be a greater burden on the local authorities, and more particularly a greater burden in the distressed areas which have suffered most from industrial depression and are therefore least able, in the process of industrial recovery, to bear this form of overhead or fixed charge. That is one objection to the proposal the Government have made. There are many other objections. But we do not leave this problem in a purely negative position. Over and over again we have made proposals to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which we believe would safeguard the percentage system, improve it very largely, protect the position of the local authorities, give a very much better return for the money and avoid the controversy, or a large part of it, which will be involved in the right hon. Gentleman’s scheme.
What is our proposal? We have drawn attention to the very great variation in the price which is paid for services in different localities. Undeniably, there is certain inefficiency in the percentage system as it now operates, and we have argued that if we could adopt a different method, by arriving at a unit of cost, which would give us an effective comparison area by area, we should then find out not only how we could get a far better return for the money, but how we could make the service much more efficient than in many cases it now is. That proposal was put very clearly before the Meston Committee by competent witnesses, and I suggest that that is the true method of dealing with the difficulty in this connection. One point which we have constantly to bear in mind is that by transferring any particular burden to the local authority, we do not improve the general taxation one iota from the standpoint of business and commerce or industry generally. The real issue for all industry in this country is the aggregate amount of Imperial and local taxation, and not these items considered separately. We are entitled to hear from the right hon. Gentleman what he proposes to do in that sphere which underlies many of his financial proposals.
There is only one further subject to which I would draw the attention of the House. Most of us are more than ever convinced that, try as it will, this House

292can hardly get near to the realities of the financial situation. When Budget Debates take place they run over a large number of specific issues. A great block of our expenditure year after year is never discussed at all by the House, owing to the pressure of Parliamentary time. Another great block of expenditure on the Supply Services is, by common consent, very insufficiently discussed, because the opportunity, quite rightly, is, taken for debating grievances, local conditions and a variety of problems of, that kind. The Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee may work as energetically as they like on the actual figures of the year in one case and on post-mortem examination in the other, but with the best will in the world they cover only a limited part of the field. Is there no method by which we can, delegate responsibility to some competent section of the House. By delegation of responsibility I do not mean entrusting power in finance, but to delegate the responsibility of real investigation to a section of this House, making it the primary duty of that section to relate’ our finance year by year to general industrial conditions.
Let me illustrate my point. The Board of Trade at the present time is engaged in the production of certain reports. They have issued a very valuable document dealing with overseas markets. They have issued another report which is a survey of industrial relations within this country. Taken together, whatever view we may have of public ownership or of the Socialist solution of the industrial problem, or anything of that kind, the fact remains that there is a great mass of material in both these reports of vital importance to industry now, and with a profound bearing upon our system of national finance. But these reports are never considered in detail in this House. They are never related here to our financial system. They remain buried, or they are in danger of being buried, in Government Departments, or in the minds of people wrongly called experts, whose views are not considered suitable for public debate. These reports are of importance at a, time like this, when our burden is £800,000,000 per annum, when we have still more than 1,000,000 people out of work, and when, by common consent, we are in danger of losing per-

293manently certain of our overseas markets with their reaction upon the standard of living at home.
I have suggested recently for the consideration of Members that a Commission of this House, not anything on the lines of the French model, but some kind of body representative of the House should be appointed whose business it would be systematically to study these documents dealing with industry and national finance and place the results of its deliberations, with some kind of technical assistance thrown in, at the disposal of the House, and even of the Government of the day. We on this side, while we believe that there can be no true solution of the industrial problem outside the principles we hold, still recognise that there is a vast mass of immediate material which is going to waste, which in our judgment would be a very valuable instrument if we made use of it. These are my observations in moving the rejection of the Bill, and I offer them in the hope that hon. Members will feel that there is on this side of the House just as definite and vital an interest in fundamental things as there is elsewhere, and that dark as the situation may be for industry and commerce to-day, the use of this mass of reliable technical information would contribute materially to human recovery and public good.

835″>Lieut.-Colonel THOM: The Finance Bill of this year contains a number of new proposals, and it is evident from the course of the Debate on the Budget Resolutions that those proposals do not command the universal assent of the House. I welcome and support them all. I do not intend to refer in detail to the novel financial devices proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I wish to support the proposals contained in Clause 7 of the Bill, and briefly to advert to the attitude of hon. and right hon. Members below the Gangway opposite towards that part of the Bill.
For many years past we have enjoyed a Preference in our Dominion markets. No one doubts that that Preference has been a valuable one. I do not wish to trouble the House with figures, but one readily realises that, whenever and wherever that Preference was granted, there has immediately followed a great and rapid expansion of trade between

294this country and the Dominion which had accorded the Preference. We have also to remember that our exports in manufactured goods to our Dominion markets mean for us something between £250,000,000 and £300,000,000 a year, representing in wages something like £220,000,000. One has only to realise these facts to see that it is clear that without these Dominion markets, and without the Preference that we have enjoyed so long, it would be impossible for us to maintain our great industrial population. Clause 7 of the Bill stabilises the Preference which this country has granted to our Colonies and the Dominions. The Preference which we have enjoyed in the Dominion markets has been very valuable to us, and the Preference we wish to accord to our Dominions in the home market will be undoubtedly equally valuable to the Dominions.
But it is necessary to remember that the Dominions at the moment are only in their infancy. They have not developed their full productive capacity. The result is that they are not able to take advantage of the possibilities of the increased trade which this Preference holds out unless they embark upon far-reaching ventures for the further development of their resources and upon costly enterprises and schemes for the settlement of emigrants in their territories. These enterprises will not be undertaken and prosecuted with that vigour, courage and vision which are necessary to make them successful, unless there is some element of permanence in the trade advantages which inspire them. Therefore I welcome Clause 7 of the Bill, because I am certain that, as a result of the permanent advantages which that Clause confers on our Dominions, there will be a quicker development of our Imperial resources and a great expansion of Imperial trade.
May I remind the House that our Imperial trade is the most valuable part of our trade? Surely it is plain that it is to our advantage to buy our foodstuffs and the basic raw materials for our industries from those countries which, in return, buy the manufactured products of our industries. In the past our Colonies have bought millions and millions of pounds worth of manufactured goods from this country, repre-

295senting millions and millions of pounds in wages to the working men of this country. Our Imperial markets have been valuable in the past, and they will be more valuable in the future, because more and more our Dominions will buy our manufactured goods. Foreign countries are not anxious to buy our manufactured goods, because they desire to stimulate their own manufacturers. If anyone examines our trade figures, he will find that the policy of these great industrial nations, with whom we have to compete in the markets of the world, is rather to sell to us their highly manufactured products and to establish credits in this country with which they will be able to compete with us in the purchase of raw materials in the markets of the world. When we realise this, we see that our Imperial trade is by far the most valuable part of our trade, and I welcome Clause 7 because it will result in an increase of that trade, and will be a stimulus generally to Imperial development.
May I offer one other observation in support of the proposal? With the rapid advance of science in recent years, and with the more intelligent and effective application of science to industry, the products of industry tend more and more to become perfect and more and more suitable for the purposes for which those manufactures are designed. But if the advance of science has been rapid, if the application of science to industry has been more effective, these are features which are universal; they are not confined to this country, or to any particular country. The result is that you find the manufactured products of the great industrial countries of the world approximate more and more to perfection and become more and more suitable for the purposes for which they are designed. Therefore, so far as these purposes are concerned, there is not much to choose between the products of this country and those of any other country. What does that mean? It means that advertising becomes more and more important. That is a fact which is realised by every commercial body throughout the Empire. Our Imperial markets have been, as I have said, valuable to us in the past. They will be more valuable in the days to come as they

296grow. The great industrial nations of the world also realise the value of these markets, and they are competing with us for the capture of these markets, and much will depend, so far as the future of trade and industry of this country is concerned, upon the efficacy of the advertising policy which is adopted.
I know of no more compelling and effective advertisement than the advertisement which the British trader can make when he announces in the Colonial markets that our wares are just as good as the wares which come from Germany or America, that they are the products of the homeland where we have decided to give the Dominions an advantage and a preference over the products of foreign countries. For that reason I welcome these proposals. I think they will tend to increase the advantages we enjoy in the Imperial markets, will result in a great expansion of the trade with our Dominions, and accelerate the development of the British Empire which must redound to the advantage of the trade and industries of this country.
4.0 P.M.
Having said so much in support of these proposals, may I quite shortly refer to the attitude taken by hon. and right hon. Members on the other side of the House? From the Debates on the Budget Resolutions I came to the conclusion that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite opposed Clause 7 of the Bill and the stabilisation of this Imperial Preference because it interferes with the free and unimpeded flow of the current of trade. It is a Clause which is repugnant to their traditional faith of Free Trade; therefore, it is to be condemned, and condemned without trial. That is a narrow view. This narrow view was a characteristic of the policy of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite before the War, and it is a characteristic of their policy now. But it was not a characteristic of their attitude during the War and immediately after the War? But I refer to a few utterances which came from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite during the War and just after the termination of the War, when its lessons were fresh in the memory of us all. Dealing with the fiscal question and analogous questions in 1918, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for

297Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said:
“We must face all these questions with new eyes, without regard to pre-War views or pre-War speeches.”
Later on he said:
“In order to secure better production and better distribution, I shall look at every problem simply from the point of view of what is the best method of securing the objects at which we are aiming without any regard to theoretical opinions about Free Trade or Tariff Reform.”
May I give one example of what was said during the War by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman)? In 1915, in this House, he said:
“It will be our business to see that our own commercial men and those who manufacture goods for our commercial men to export shall be given every advantage the Government can place at their disposal.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd December, 1915; col. 672, Vol. 77.]
Later on in 1916, as reported in the “Times,” he said:
“Whatever his views on fiscal questions had been or were, he was convinced that our future trade policy must be based on a new foundation, in the light of the events that had happened since war broke out. ‘Never again’ were the words he applied to the present situation.”
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite learned these lessons during the War, and during the War and at the end of the War they were enthusiastic—just as enthusiastic as we are on this side of the House—about the development of the Empire. But as the danger has receded, as the hour of peril has passed, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to be in danger of forgetting those lessons. May I say this in conclusion? They have made it clear that, should they be returned to power, one of the first things they will do will be to repeal Clause 7 of the Bill and to terminate the preferences which we have given to our Dominions. I think that is a most unfortunate attitude to take up. I am going to assume, for the sake of argument, that hon. Members opposite are returned to power. I make that assumption. One thing is certain. They will not be returned upon this issue upon which I am speaking at the present moment. They will be returned upon a confused complex of issues, and, when they get into power upon that confused complex of issues,

298they say they are going to repeal these preferences which we have given to our Dominions. They may get into power by the will of the people on those confused issues, but, if they repeal the provisions of this Clause, they will do so in direct defiance of the wishes of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom. I am confident of one thing. If this issue were put singly to the nation, unconfused by any other issue, and if the nation were asked to express its opinion upon it, there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of granting to the Dominions a Preference similar to the Preference which they have granted to us, because there is a recognition that that would be to the advantage both of us and of the Dominions, and there is also a recognition that the Dominions during the War made sacrifices which constitute a debt which can never be repaid.
From another point of view, the attitude of hon. and right hon. Members opposite is unfortunate in that it tends to associate the policy of the development of the Empire with one party in the State. I think that is bad. It is true that the development and the consolidation of the Empire is and always has been the main and dominant aim of the Unionist party, but it is a matter of national importance. One has only to look at the history of the matter to see that the future of this country depends upon Imperial development. If we are to progress, and prosper, to maintain our position among the great industrial countries of the world, it is absolutely essential that vigorously, courageously and immediately we should undertake a policy of Imperial development. Therefore, I suggest, the importance of the subject is such that it should be kept outside the sphere of party politics. In taking up this attitude, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have done a disservice, because they have tended to associate in the mind of the country this great policy with only one party in the State.

836″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: I am quite sure, whatever may be the opinion in various quarters of the House on fiscal questions, we can all join in congratulating the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dumbarton (Lieut.-Colonel Thom) on the vigour and warmth with which he has

299enunciated his views. I will make only one single comment on his speech. I hope, in course of time, he will cease to confuse the advocacy of what he called Imperial or Colonial Preference with the advocacy of the development of the British Empire. The things are not the same. The development of the British Empire is just as dear to the hearts of many of us who are strong Free Traders as it is to those who call themselves Protectionists. But I can quite understand the warmth with which he has expressed his views this afternoon, and I am sure that the House will be glad to hear him on other subjects.
I turn, however, away from the immediate controversy on which he has spoken with so much ability to deal with more recent events. I do so largely because of a certain degree of surprise with which the country, and I must say I myself, heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that the stoppage of work during the last fortnight or three weeks was going to cost the Exchequer this year only the comparatively small sum of £750,000. The smallness of that sum is out of all proportion to the injury which has been inflicted upon British industry and commerce during that stoppage. Naturally I, as I presume many observers, have been trying to make some estimate of what the country has lost in its failure to solve its industrial differences without resort to force. The stoppage of the last three weeks covered not only the railways and the coal mines, each of them responsible for the maintenance of very large numbers of our population, but the trams, omnibuses and other forms of transport on the roads; the iron and steel industries, which are directly dependent upon the coal trade, and the other metal trades, all of which have been affected directly or indirectly; the heavy chemical trade, and in a remoter degree the textile industries. All of these have undoubtedly suffered from the stoppage of work. What has been lost in the great power industry it is impossible to estimate. It will be impossible for a long time to arrive at anything like precise figures, but I think I am expressing the views of a good many people when I say that I fear the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that the £750,000 which he thinks will be lost to

300the revenue this year because of the stop-page—

837″>Mr. CHURCHILL: My right hon. Friend has quite misunderstood the answer which I gave. I said that the direct extra charge to the State would not be more than £750,000; that is, the disbursements we have to make for extra police, the civil constabulary, and the various expenses—will not be more than £750,000. I also said that I do not at the present time see any reason which makes it necessary for me to propose fresh taxation. I am not attempting in any way to estimate the enormous loss which the strike has cost, and is still costing, the trade and industry of the country.

838″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: I presume, therefore, from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just now said, that the loss to the Revenue on one side or the other of the balance sheet may be estimated at the present time at about £750,000?

839″>Mr. CHURCHILL: No, it is not a question of loss to the Revenue. It is a question of additional expenditure for which I may have to propose a Supplementary Estimate to the House. That will be under £750,000.

840″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: No. The extra expenditure on one side of the balance sheet is surely the same as if there were a similar diminution on the other side. I do not wish to misstate the case or to enter into controversy with the right hon. Gentleman.

841″>Mr. CHURCHILL: No.

842″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: What I am hoping to do is to arrive at some sort of estimate, if one can, of the loss which the country as a whole has incurred, and which must be directly reflected upon the revenue of the country. That is a matter of very prime concern to us, and it seems to me a matter of even greater importance than the temporary question of the revenue of this immediate year.

843″>Mr. CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!

844″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: Let me try to arrive at some sort of estimate of what we have lost in our principal industries. We start with the coal trade, which has a normal output of £14,000,000 sterling a month. Taking the pit-head prices, it is clear that we have lost at least £7,000,000 there,

301and that £7,000,000 will not be made up by greater activity on the return of the mines to their full working capacity. The time has been lost, and it has been lost for ever. The railways, in the course of the fortnight or three weeks, have certainly lost something in the region of £8,000,000. The total monthly income from passengers and the carriage of goods works out at about £16,000,000 sterling, and they have probably lost half of that at least, and it may be a good deal more. In the pig-iron trade, which produces normally about 500,000 tons a month, of the value of £2,500,000, we may take it that at least half, and probably a good deal more, has been lost, for I fear that a good many of the blast furnaces which were damped down may not be lighted up again, and certainly those who have a direct or indirect connection with the industry know that at least eight or nine have been blown out for good, so that the injury there may be of a more permanent character. In the steel trade, the normal output of which is 600,000 tons a month, or of the value of something like £5,000,000, or probably a little more, the loss again will be in the region of £2,500,000.

845″>Mr. CHURCHILL: For the fortnight?

846″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: I am taking the rough fortnight, because the few days afterwards cannot be cut off quite precisely. In the textile industry exports have undoubtedly been curtailed. The normal amount exported per month is about £22,000,000 sterling, and I think it is a fair estimate to say that a quarter of that, or about £5,000,000, was lost owing to the stoppage. In heavy chemicals and fine chemicals, taking the export figures alone, and remembering that each month we export about £2,000,000 worth, there has been a loss of at least £500,000. In the engineering and metal goods trade, I find it much more difficult to make anything in the nature of a rough estimate. But I think it is safe to say that about £2,500,000 has been lost in that industry alone. That makes, even with those items, and I have not added a very large number more, which were indirectly affected, a total loss of about £26,750,000. I do not suppose it is an exaggeration to say that the stoppage of the fortnight, more or less, has probably lost this country somewhere in the region of £30,000,000 worth

302of trade. That cannot be the whole of the tale. The docks have been stopped; shipping of every class has been held up, from necessity through lack of labour; cargoes have been delayed, held on the docks, in the warehouses or in the ships themselves; and the indirect losses have found practically no offset. Even the loss on the road services has not altogether been made up by the amazing activities of the motors on which we were dependent for a fortnight for the carriage of the essential goods and the foodstuffs on which we live.
If one takes the whole of these losses, direct and indirect, it is quite apparent that the taxable body on which the right hon. Gentleman can draw his revenue will have shrunk. It is unfortunate that there are also other effects on our foreign markets which are, after all, in some parts of the country just as important as the Imperial markets to which the hon. and gallant Member was referring. The loss there in the placing of contracts is a matter of very grave concern, and I am afraid has already gone some way. I take one example. The Finnish State Railways have for years been good customers of our’s in the North of England for the coal which they use in their engines. The whole of their orders for the coal supplies for the year, which usually are placed in England, have gone to Germany. We have lost that; whether we shall regain it or not only prices and quality will decide in the future. Contracts for future deliveries all over the Baltic have passed away from this country and have been placed mainly in Germany, though some have been placed elsewhere, and, oddly enough, a few have been placed in France. Besides that, there has been an immense shipment of coal by Rhine barges down the river to Continental countries which used to be fed from our coal mines, especially in the East of England. Those are losses to British industry which we may find it difficult to regain, for once great foreign suppliers have got into these markets and buyers and engineers have got into the habit of using foreign coal, it is not so easy to regain their custom.
The building up of these connections is one of the things which has been of inestimable value to every one of our great industries. This stoppage, therefore,

303whatever may be our views as to the cause of it or of anything that pertains to it, has done a very grave injury to British industry and commerce, from which we, cannot expect to recover very rapidly. How soon can we hope to recover? I ask that question for one very good reason. There is a tendency, both in this country and abroad, to look on the whole of our prospects as dark, our future uncertain, the chance which we have of regaining our predominant trading position in the world possibly gone for ever. In so far as that impression is conveyed from this country to other countries abroad, it is just as well that we in this House should remember that there is another side to the picture, and that things are not altogether bad with us. They are certainly not as bad as with any one of the Continental countries. We shall undoubtedly take some time to recover from losses of trade, grave interruptions in traffic, the holding up of our commerce, and the dislocation by which the regular flow of trade will be badly injured. But we have the foundations of prosperity on which we can build.
Let us go back to the year 1921 for an example of what can be done in the way of rapid recovery. In 1921 the stoppage in the coal mines lasted for something like 13 weeks. During those weeks there was very little coal mined; the iron and steel trade came almost to a standstill; furnaces were damped down all over the country. British shipping, which normally would carry coal away from this country to the foreign markets of the world and thereby reduce the rate of freight for return cargoes, was for the time being paralysed. Throughout the whole of that summer there was a dislocation far longer than, and week by week just as serious, as anything which happened in the last three weeks here, for the coal trade actually was the key to the situation. Two remarkable things happened. The first was the very rapid recovery of coal mining itself. Before the strike broke out or the lock-out was declared in 1921, we were mining at the rate of about 4,000,000 tons a week. In July, just after the strike was over, we came up at once to 3,860,000 tons a week. Actually in the month of August, eight weeks after the strike, we had exceeded the March figures, and had regained a good deal that we had lost. In the

304meantime the activity of our merchants and the industry of our miners were so great that in the course of something like eight weeks we did recover a good deal of the custom which we had lost during the prolonged stoppage.
Great as has been the injury done during the last few weeks, if we have anything like the same enterprise among our merchants abroad and the same industry in the mines, there is very little doubt that we can recover from these grave injuries in the course of a very few weeks. That I take to be not a sombre prophecy, but one which is based on actual experience, and as cheering to those of us who have been reading in far too many journals of the dark side of British industry and commerce. In the pig-iron industry there was nothing like the same rapid recovery. Here, again, we shall probably find an exact picture of what will take place in the next few months Oddly enough, the pig-iron industry took about six months to recover from the serious interruption of its work. That was only natural from the nature of the trade. But whereas pig-iron recovered slowly, the production of crude steel went up by leaps and bounds. We can only hope that we shall have exactly the same experience in this country in the immediate future. Within something like four months of the conclusion of the stoppage in 1921 the output of crude steel had actually doubled in this country. If anything like that were to be the experience of the great black regions of England and Scotland now, we shall have a very rapid diminution of the numbers of unemployed.
These matters can be gauged in another way. There was, during the six months after the 1921 stoppage, a most amazing recovery of British finance. It was a time of falling prices, and yet during that period the deposits in the bank went up by very nearly £100,000,000—a most remarkable fact. That £100,000,000 may be interpreted in various ways by theoretical economists, but it did not mean that in the months after the stoppage there had been anything like a shrinkage of trade. It showed the remarkable powers of recovery of this country and the resilience with which it rebounds from every blow. There is, however, one element now which undoubtedly gives us ground for increased satisfaction, and I hope assurance, as to

305the rapidity of our recovery, and that is that we are on the gold standard. It really is amazing that even at this time of day, after 12 months’ experience, there should still be some people who say that the return to the gold standard has been an injury. The return to the gold standard has been a benefit to commerce and everybody in it.
There is no doubt that too rapid deflation may bring a good many injuries in its train, and it was, of course, quite possible that too rapid deflation had a direct effect upon wages and upon employment. But, on the other hand, the return to the gold standard has so increased the value of nominal wages that the cost of living figures have tended favourably during the last few months. The value of the pound sterling is higher now than at any time during the last 12 years. The purchasing power of the people has increased. Of the gold standard we may say that getting on a sound financial basis is of as great benefit to the people as a whole as to those who handle high finance. [Interruption.] I am going on the assumption that there has been no increase in wages. If wages remained exactly the same during the last 12 months, my argument is that our having gone on to the gold standard during that period has indeed been a benefit to the wage-earner and to those who are engaged in high finance.

847″>Miss WILKINSON: But wages have been reduced.

848″>Mr. RUNCIMAN: The reduction of wages does not come in this financial problem. I am only pointing out that a return to the gold standard, so far from being an injury to the wage-earning class, has indeed been of benefit to them. Whether there has been in some industries a reduction of wages is quite another question, which I am not discussing at the moment. It may or may not be justifiable, but it does not affect the point which I am making now. There is another thing which has had a great deal to do with the maintenance of the high value of the sovereign. The arrangements which were made last year for stabilising sterling exchange in New York have proved to be sound. The best proof of that is that the 300,000,000 dollars credit lies in New York entirely untapped. It has had its good effect, undoubtedly. I said at the time that I thought it was

306worth paying for, and I think so now. Then there is the £150,000,000 of gold in the Bank of England.
These facts have undoubtedly had a great deal to do with keeping up the reputation of the pound sterling in New York. But there is another thing which has undoubtedly tended to keep the pound sterling up to its high level, and that is that there has been so much confidence in America during the last three weeks in the temper with which all classes of the community in the United Kingdom would pass through their trials, that there has been no disturbance of the American deposits in London—a most remarkable fact. If there had been anything like a rapid withdrawal of deposits from London its effect on the money market might have been disastrous at a very critical moment, and the full effect of that would have been seen, not only in the withdrawal of American credits, but probably the withdrawal of other foreign credits as well.
The last element which has undoubtedly tended to preserve the stabilisation of our exchange has been the amazing capacity of our invisible exports We draw, year by year, perhaps something in the region of £240,000,000 as interest on foreign investments. That, of course, has remained uninterrupted. It has gone on with a regular £20,000,000 a month, or £10,000,000 during the last fortnight, and that has all been to the good. There has been, of course, the volume of invisible exports in the way of shipping freights, insurance charges, banking commissions, and so on, which go to make up a sum total of a very large figure. I presume it is not an exaggeration to say that they represent at least £10,000,000 during the last fortnight. These two enormous items of invisible exports have undoubtedly tended to stabilise our reputation in the world, for it is on reputation that exchange very largely depends. It is not purely a matter of mathematics, summing up what our exports are in one table and what our imports are in another, not merely a matter of our commitments with regard to foreign war debts or the payments made by our debtors or to our creditors abroad.
There is a great deal in the reputation which the financial world has gained of what the British temper is in money

307matters, even in times of great industrial storm. It is a remarkable fact, as we look back over the last three weeks, to find that throughout the whole of this terrific strain upon the temper of all classes there has been, comparatively, extraordinarily little damage done. The rioting was very largely in a restricted area and was confined mainly to classes of the population who were not themselves directly involved in the great dispute. The amount of loss of life has been almost negligible, if one may say that of any loss of life. Extraordinarily small has been the injury to human life during the past few weeks. Whatever may have been the determination with which men entered into the struggle and with which they may continue to struggle in all industrial disputes, the fact is that there remains predominant in the British mind a sense of lair play as well as of determination. There has been a growing sense throughout the country and the world that, whatever may be thought of the objects of those who were striving on the one side or the other, good temper and good feeling would predominate in the end. It was that reputation as much as anything which has tended to increase the status of Great Britain in the financial world, and it is the true basis upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer can build his finance, and without which his contrivances, however good they may be, would, in the long run, prove to be unreliable.
I offer no opinion to-day on the details by which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to increase his revenue. I have already said that I think his Betting Duty is bad and may do real harm. I do not believe in making permanent his Preferences. I dislike a 10 years’ limit to any financial proposals in this House. They ought to be dealt with year by year. But I think it is necessary that, at all events, outside observers, who have no official responsibility, who are capable of taking a large view of British finance, should declare that all this talk about the paralysis of the United Kingdom, the shakiness of its finance, and the blackness of its future, is rubbish. We have as great powers of returning to prosperity in this country as ever we have had in the past. There is the power of co-operation, which has not yet been fully exhausted and which may even now be applied to the mining

308industry. There is the power of enterprise by which men will take risks tempered by knowledge. There is the desire on all hands to extend the commerce of this country, not only within the Imperial boundaries, but throughout the whole world. There is the great ambition of all those engaged in industry and commerce to make their contribution towards the return of prosperity.

849″>Sir ROBERT SANDERS: I am sure we must all feel reassured by what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), speaking with his great knowledge of trade and commerce, has just said, and, though unable to speak with his authority, I should like to say that it seems to me also that recent happenings have cleared away from the horizon a cloud of which everyone has been in fear for months and years past. The fact that this cloud has been cleared away may likely lead to considerably better times in the future than we have had for some years past. The Finance Bill which we are now considering has this peculiarity that it covers an enormous field, and I feel bound almost to apologise to the House for confining myself to one or two actual proposals in the Bill. I wish first to deal with the proposals relating to motor taxation and the Road Fund. A great many of us have received telegrams asking us to take a certain course with regard to the proposals concerning the customs duties on imported motor cars. That is merely a Committee point which can be dealt with by an Amendment in Committee, and I do not propose to say anything further about it to-day.
Concerning the proposals as to the Road Fund, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows—I have taken means to let him know—that I am sorry that he has touched the Road Fund at all. It has been said that it is a breach of faith to do so. It is true, however, that what one Parliament has done another Parliament can reverse. Anyone acquainted with Parliamentary procedure knows that perfectly well, but the trouble is that a great many people have said already that this is a breach of faith and they will continue to say so and we shall have to argue that question all over the country. The reason why I object to any tampering with the Road Fund is that the roads-

309want all the money they can get, and a great deal more, and as has already been said in this Debate, it is not an economy to take money off the taxes in order to put it on the rates. It is a fact that the cost of both classified and unclassified roads has gone up enormously and the extra cost is caused not by local use but by the wear and tear of roads due to vehicles coming from a distance. For these reasons I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman touched the Road Fund at all, but, having said so much, I admit that his attack upon it is not nearly so bad as I expected it was going to be. With regard to the taking of the capital sum it can be said that that sum of money and more had been advanced by the Exchequer to the roads in previous years and the Exchequer, being hard up, it is perhaps easy for the right hon. Gentleman to defend his action in taking that money back again. What I do not like is the taking of one-third of the taxes on light cars. That hardly amounts to a raid on a large scale—I suppose one could only call it petty larceny—and a great deal of the money will come back from the extra duty which has been put on the heavy motor cars.
I am very glad to know that all the money taken out of the Road Fund comes off the cost of new construction and that the grants to local authorities will not be less but will actually be more than they have been previously. I would impress upon my right hon. Friend that it would be a good thing to make that fact more generally known. The figures of the Ministry of Transport are rather difficult to obtain. They are not easy to understand and they are very seldom up-to-date. I do not know why it is that, whereas one can obtain the figures concerning other Departments up to the find of last year, one cannot get the figures connected with the Ministry of Transport up to the same period and that Department always seemed to be several months behind other Departments in this matter. It is true that by the courtesy of the Minister I and a great many of my hon. Friends have been able to see these figures and to learn a great deal about them, but the outsider is without that knowledge, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would save himself and his followers a great deal of trouble by publishing the fact that

310this cost falls wholly on new construction and that both classified and unclassified roads will be getting more in the future than they have got in the past. I know it is contrary to my right hon. Friend’s nature to do anything in the matter of advertisement, but I would urge upon him that this is a time when it would be wise to let these facts be known as widely as possible.
Another subject on which I desire to make some remarks is that of the Betting Duty. We have heard a great deal already in the House on this subject and our letter-boxes overwhelm us with literature dealing with the matter. I am quite ready to agree that on an issue of that sort we should all pay attention to the opinions of our pastors and masters. As it happens both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself had as our pastor and master, Dr. Welldon, the present Dean of Durham, and I understand he is a wholehearted supporter of the duty, so that we can both support it without any want of respect for the opinions of those who taught us in our youth. The effects of this duty are not very clearly stated in the letters that one gets on the subject from various bodies, and I think there is a certain amount of prejudice in regard to the matter. When we come down to the concrete reasons for voting against the proposal, one of the chief arguments seems to be that the imposition of the duty will increase the amount of street betting. I do not believe that is so. The street bookmaker does not cater for the same class of customer as those affected, and in addition, I think the result of the duty will probably be that the police and magistrates will be stricter in dealing with those who engage in any form of illegal betting. The next argument used against it is that it would lead to future legislation which would legalise betting at present illegal. That is the old system which one has found over and over again with regard to proposals in this House, of what I may call funking the next fence but one. It is not that the present proposal is likely to lead to any harm, but that some time in the future some other proposals may possibly be made and it is the other possible proposal that the objectors dislike.
I support this proposal, in the first place, because I think it will bring in money, and it will raise that money on a

311luxury which anyone can forego, and which a great many people would be better to forego. I am strongly of opinion that it will lessen, instead of increasing, the amount of betting. I do not suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer disguises from himself that it is going to be a rather difficult duty to work. There is the matter of the certificate, to which objection has been taken on both sides. Some of the people who send us letters on this matter say that by issuing these certificates the Government will give its sanction to betting and bookmaking. On the other hand, I believe the bookmakers also object to this system, and on something like the same grounds, saying that by it Government sanction may possibly be given to the “welsher.” Personally I do not think there is much in either of these objections. As I understand it, the certificate gives no sort of guarantee. It will be like a motor certificate or a dog licence. If you get a motor certificate it is no guarantee that you can drive a car, and a dog licence is no guarantee that the dog does not bite, and I see that power is to be taken to refuse to renew a certificate on the conviction of the man who holds it. I presume that if a man who gets a certificate is brought before the Courts he will not get a certificate in future. There is also the question of tickets and stamps, and this, I believe, is likely to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer a good deal of trouble. I am told that this will occasion great trouble in the moment just before a race when people are rushing to make their bets in a great hurry. In such circumstances, to sort out the stamps and tickets necessary for the different bets will be a cause of considerable difficulty. I hope before the Act comes into force the Chancellor of the Exchequer will devise some more workable system than the stamp system promises to be.
The reason why I think that the duty will have the effect of diminishing the amount of betting is that it will diminish the odds, which are short enough already. I see that Lord Astor, who speaks with some authority on the subject, in a letter the other day, said that it did not make any difference to a man who was inclined to bet whether the odds against him were 20 to 1 or 100 to 6. I dare say that is quite true, but it is likely to make a great

312deal of difference when it is a question between “even money” and “five to four on,” and when the favourite comes to a very short price indeed. Those are the cases in which people lose money. It is not so much on the 100 to 6 chances that people lose a lot of money, but they generally lose more than they can afford on what they regard as really good things Hence, I believe this tax is likely to do a good deal to counteract betting in that way. I believe that the bookmaking fraternity concur in their idea that the tax will have a tendency, not to increase, but to reduce betting. For those reasons, I heartily support the Chancellor of the Exchequer in bringing this tax forward, and I only hope he will get as much out of it as he expects to do.

850″>Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE: Like the right hon. Member for Wells (Sir R. Sanders), I propose to commence what I have to say by dealing with the Road Fund. When discussing the Economy Bill, a number of epithets were hurled at the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he retailed to us with a good deal of gusto later on in his reply speech. The right hon. Member for Wells has, I think, added another one to-day when he spoke of petty larceny.

851″>Mr. CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!

852″>Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE: As far as I am concerned, I wish to eschew the epithets that have been already used, and to suggest that in proceeding as he proposes the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be guilty of conversion. The right hon. Gentleman is no novice in conversion in the political field, and, like the Vicar of Bray, some of his conversions have coincided, in his case, with preferment, but this is the first time that conversion in the legal sense has been charged to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think it adequately describes his action. There can be no doubt that the moneys provided under the Road Fund for motor taxation were provided on the basis that they would be used for the roads; there is no doubt that they are still required for that purpose, and there is no doubt that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is converting that money to his own use, not, of course, his personal use, but his use as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I said just now that the money is required for the purpose for which it was under-

313stood it was raised. No one can doubt that not only classified but unclassified roads need all the money they can get at the present time. In my own constituency and neighbourhood, in the surrounding districts of Leicestershire, I am told there are large numbers of unclassified roads on which money has to be spent from the rates, which are, as a matter of fact, used by a very great deal of through heavy traffic, and for which money from the Exchequer ought reasonably to be paid. In the adjoining district to that in which I live in Surrey, there is an unclassified road on which a very large amount of money will shortly have to be expended. I am referring to the rural district of Dorking, where, I am informed, a thousand tons of material and a cost of £l,500 will have shortly to be spent in consequence of the fact that this road has been destroyed by heavy omnibus traffic, and it seems to me very hard that a rate should be put on that district which, I am informed, may amount to over 6d. in the £, on a road destroyed by through traffic, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not be prepared to contribute out of the Exchequer any money. That is on account of the fact that that road belongs to the unclassified series.

853″>Mr. CHURCHILL: We are giving more money to them.

854″>Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE: But the right hon. Gentleman is not giving as much as he could do if he were not converting the money from this Fund to other uses, as he is doing at the present time.
I had not intended to say anything today with regard to the gold standard, because I dealt with that very fully in Committee on the Budget, but, as the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) threw out a challenge on this matter, I cannot pass that challenge by without just one word. The right hon. Member for West Swansea said what a splendid thing it is for everybody concerned, because the pound now buys more than it did before. That will only be true provided in other respects people are equally situated to-day as they would have been but for that change. As a matter of fact, what has happened is that the general level of wholesale prices has fallen 13 per cent., and that

314fall of 13 per cent, has undoubtedly had a most damaging effect upon the industry of this country, and particularly upon the export trade. There is no doubt in my mind—and I think there is no doubt in the minds of a number of economists, including Sir Josiah Stamp—that that has had a very large part to play in the situation in which the coal industry finds itself to-day. I have spoken about this before, and I do not want to weary the House on this point, but I do contend that injury to industry, unemployment, and the threatened reduction in the wages of the coalminers are largely due to this resumption of the gold standard.
I want now to pass from those individual questions to a larger aspect of the finance disclosed in this Bill. My principal objection to this Finance Bill and to the whole policy, not only of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but of the party opposite which it represents, is that it is all part of a system of broadening the basis of taxation. This is a process that has been going on for some time. and it is consolidated in this Bill, as I think, with disastrous consequences. Certainly, “broadening the basis of taxation” is a very pleasant expression. It suggests an edifice which at one time rested only upon a small point, and has now been spread out so that the foundations of our financial system are more stable and lasting, but when we come from that pleasant ideal down to the actual facts, we find that what it really means is transferring the burden from the shoulders most able to bear it to the shoulders of those less able to bear it, whether it takes the form of industry or of individuals. Let me illustrate that from two angles.
First, let me take the whole question of direct taxation. Those whose principal contribution to the State revenues takes the form of direct taxation are wont to point with a good deal of annoyance to the very large sums that they are called upon to pay. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has endeavoured to show that, in spite of his reductions in taxation, those who pay the direct taxes contribute as large a proportion as they ever did before. But suppose, instead of looking at it from that angle, we consider the amount contributed by direct taxes, as compared with the amount paid out in interest and charges on the National Debt.

315It is quite true that the whole of that which is paid out under the changes on the National Debt does not go back into the pockets of the wealthier classes of the community. Some of it goes abroad, and some of it goes to the poorer people, but in the main that does go back into the pockets of those who may be termed wealthy. It is also true that the whole of the direct taxes are not paid by persons of considerable wealth, but, broadly speaking, we may take those two receipts and payments as covering the same class of society. Let us consider the margin between the direct taxes and the Debt charges in the Estimates of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the present year.
Death Duties for this present year are estimated to bring in £66,000,000, Income Tax £255,000,000, and Super-tax £65,000,000, or a total of £386,000,000. The Debt charges in this year are £364,000,000. The margin of the direct taxes over Debt charges is, therefore, only £22,000,000, and even if you add the proceeds of the Excess Profits Duty and the Corporation Profits Tax, you only get a margin of £30,000,000 available for the general expenditure of the State. As you go back, you find that that margin was very much greater. Last year the margin was £30,000,000, if you take the direct taxes only, and £46,000,000 if you include the Excess Profits Duty and the Corporation Profits Tax. In the previous year the figures were £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 respectively, and if you go back to 1920–21, you find that the figures were £100,000,000 and £313,000,000 respectively. In other words, the proceeds of these forms of taxation, instead of being, as they were before, largely available for the general communal purposes of the State, are now almost wholly used up in providing the Debt charges, which return into the pockets of the people who have to pay them.
Again, I said just now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer urges in defence of his policy that nearly as large a percentage of taxation takes the form of direct taxation as it did in days gone by. Bearing in mind the fact that taxes are at a very much lower rate, it shows that those in possession of great incomes have a very much larger residue after paying taxes than they had a little while back. Therefore, those members of the popula-

316tion are very much better off than they were before.
Now let me take another aspect. The interest on the Debt is a very great burden on the State. From another angle, it represents a very great tribute that is paid by the community to the holders of war debt. In the years that I have been quoting, it stood roughly, in pounds, at the same figure as it stands to-day. The interest on the Debt has not varied very much from something a little over £300,000,000 during the last five or six years. But while the figure in pounds has remained the same, its purchasing power has enormously increased. In 1920–21 the index figure of wholesale commodities reached as high as 380, taking the year 1901 as 100. Last year it had fallen to 185, and, largely owing to the gold policy, it has fallen to-day below 160. That is to say, it has fallen below half the figure at which it stood in 1920–21. The fall of the index figure means that the purchasing power of the interest on the Debt has more than doubled in that course of time, and, therefore, in terms of commodities, which is the only thing that really matters, the burden of the Debt has more than doubled during the last five or six years. We have made a great effort at reducing the Debt by means of a Sinking Fund, and to-day we are knocking £50,000,000 a year off the Debt, but what a very small thing that is, if at the same time the whole basis of our calculations has been changing, so that the effective burden of the interest on the Debt is more than double to-day what it was five or six years ago.
5.0 P.M.
Let us turn to the other side of the picture. I have said that the whole policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the party opposite, as re presented by finance, for the past five or six years, has been to improve the position of the holders of wealth and to throw the burden upon industry and upon labour. Let me first take the case of industry. I find, looking back over the Budgets of many years past, that it was the general practice that the Post Office should just, about pay for itself. But when we come to last year and this year, we find that that principle is now being departed from. The Post Office at the present time is making a profit of £5,000,000 a year. Hon.

317Members may say, “Surely you will not complain of a Department making a profit?” What I do complain is that that profit is not being used in the way it ought to be used, that is, for the relief of industry.
The cost of a reduction from l½d. to 1d. in the postage would be about £5,000,000, as I am informed, and, therefore, it would be a perfectly legitimate action to use the profit at present produced to effect that great financial reform, to the immense relief of industry all over the country. It is not being done at the present time, because it is contrary to the policy of broadening the basis of taxation. Again, there is incorporated in this Bill the fruits of the Economy Bill, which deprived employers of the penny per man in the case of unemployment insurance to which they were entitled. I have already dealt with the Road Fund, and with the effect of the 13 per cent, fall in prices—again, a very big blow struck at industry and manufacture in this country. So much for the effect on industry.
Now for the effect upon labour and the people concerned. When we come to miners, again you see the effects of the whole policy which has increased the benefits falling to wealth, and reduced the benefits falling to industry in the present difficulties of the mining trade and the result which is being demanded, of a fall in miners’ wages. You have the policy, again, in the Economy Bill of reducing the amount spent upon insurance and upon education. All these things are working out in increasing poverty, or, at any rate, in preventing the people from rising above poverty. I am not one of those who pour out in this House a large number of sentimental facts which are sometimes called sob-stuff, but I do think this little extract which has been sent me by a doctor is worth reading to the House. In 1924, the school medical officer in Reading weighed all the boys of 12–71 in number—in three elementary schools in the centre of the town. He also weighed all the boys of 12–34 in number—in Reading School, a secondary school, containing some scholarship but mostly fee-paying pupils. The average height of the boys of 12 in the secondary school was 4½ inches higher, and the average weight 12½ lbs. greater than in the other schools.

318The point of those figures is this: In so far as you have broadened the basis of taxation, as I have been describing, you are transferring money from the poorer people to the wealthy. The effect upon the lives of the poorer people is displayed by those statistics regarding the growth of boys to which I have just referred, so that you can come down from theoretical to practical and human considerations in the matter.
Let me illustrate it by two more things. Last year we had the taxes upon silk and artificial silk. It was erroneously said, I think, by some people in opposing those taxes that they would very much raise the price of those articles to the public. What has actually happened, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has admitted, has been that the fall in prices, which would otherwise have taken place, was not allowed to come into operation. But the point I want to make is that the tax presses most heavily upon the poorer people who buy the cheaper articles, because the tax is greater in proportion on the poorer articles than on the better articles.
We have in the present Finance Bill a further illustration of the same kind of proposed duty. If you take the tax upon optical glass, which is to be put up to 50 per cent., most people, I think, are under the impression that that only applies to telescopes and scientific glass, but one of the principal objects covered by this tax is the lens in a camera. If you take an expensive camera, say one of fifteen guineas, the lens in that camera is half the value of the camera. If, on the other band, you take a cheap camera, say 10s., the lens will only be 5 per cent, of the value of the camera. Therefore, when you put a, 50 per cent. tax on the camera as a whole, as is done in this Bill, you are putting a much heavier burden on the cheaper lens in proportion than on the dearer one.
What is the remedy for all this? First of all, dealing with the War Debt, proposals have been made to repudiate the Debt. Personally, I have never hesitated to condemn such a policy as not only immoral, but absolutely impossible to carry out. Another proposal has been made to reduce the rate of interest on the Debt—again a proposal which, personally, I could not countenance, because not

319only again would it be, I think, a breach of faith, but I think it would be quite unworkable. The proposal I put forward was the levy on capital. That, I think, was perfectly workable, and has been worked in many countries, and if it had been adopted when the War came to an end, it would have produced a most valuable result in preventing the state of things which we have at the present time. All those proposals were rejected for reasons which seemed good to Members on the opposite side of the House, but what I want to know is, what proposal have they got to prevent the state of things which I have envisaged?

855″>The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Ronald McNeill): May I ask which of those proposals the hon. Gentleman recommends now?

856″>Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE: I made it quite clear that I do not support repudiation of the Debt, or a reduction of the rate of interest, but I still think a capital levy is a practical proposal. I am not, however, wedded to the particular policy of a capital levy, if other proposals can be found which produce the same effective result, namely, the placing of a special burden on those already in possession of great wealth, with a view to the relief of industry and labour. There are many proposals which, when the proper time comes, I am quite prepared to put forward either in addition to, or in substitution of, the capital levy. The point I am making now is that not only does the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the party opposite put forward no proposals in that direction, but that they are taking steps in exactly the opposite direction. The broadening of the basis of taxation is having the effect of tilting the balance against industry and against labour in favour of the possessors of what I may call static wealth. That seems to me to be injuring the prosperity of the country, injuring the promotion of industry, injuring our export trade, injuring employment, and is, I think, largely responsible for the position in which our coal trade is at the present time. Further, and above all those physical effects, it is having a very serious psychological effect upon the people of this country. I do not think Members opposite realise the extent to

320which the continued throwing of burdens on to industry and labour is making a psychological opposition to the carrying on of industry at the present time. The workers of this country feel that they are not having a square deal. They feel that with the progress of knowledge they ought to be improving, and improving rapidly, their economic status in the country. They are perfectly right in thinking this would be possible. One of the things which stands in the way is this idea of broadening the basis of taxation. It is this which goes in the opposite direction, and is producing in their minds the kind of feeling which we all, on whatever side of the House we sit, deplore, but which cannot be cured until the whole policy is reversed.

857″>Sir ROBERT NEWMAN: I propose to deal only with that aspect of the Budget which relates to the proposal to put a tax on betting, and I think I may claim that I can approach this question with a perfectly unprejudiced mind, because I am not ashamed of saying I am very fond of seeing a good day’s racing; at the same time, I never have a bet, and so I have no prejudice against racing as a sport, and I have no particular financial interest in the question of betting. But, after a most careful consideration of the pros and cons, I have certainly come to the conclusion that I feel justified in adding my appeal to that of others to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to withdraw this proposal in this Budget.
I am not going to deal with the moral side of the question, because my experience is that when people commence to talk about morality, they very often descend into cant, and, to be quite candid, when I hear people and see people holding up their hands in holy horror at the idea of anybody making money as a bookmaker, and at the same time see those people quite prepared to make large fortunes by exploiting native and other labour, then I think we have descended to mere hypocrisy. I am going to approach the question from quite a different aspect. In the first place, I think that when the Government are going to establish a new principle, the taxation of betting, it ought to be introduced in a separate Bill, and not sandwiched in a Budget.

321I want to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that in the Southern Irish Parliament they are also, I believe, going to propose a tax on betting; it is not going to be introduced in the Budget, but in a separate Measure. I think that ought to be done so far as the present proposal is concerned. It would be quite feasible to postpone the proposed tax on betting and to bring in a separate Measure in the Autumn Session. It would be quite feasible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech in introducing the Budget, seemed to me to make a statement which showed that he really did not quite know the subject with which he was dealing. It struck me as very remarkable, for he said—if my memory serves me aright, and, anyhow, it was to this effect—that the tax would not affect the present racing season, and, therefore, he proposed to bring it in on 1st November. That would seem to show that the Chancellor of the Exchequer really knew nothing whatever about it, because the racing season does not end in October at all. There are three or four weeks in December during which racing goes on. There is the Liverpool Cup, the Derby Cup and the Manchester Handicaps, amongst others. Therefore, I cannot help thinking, whoever advised the Chancellor to bring in the tax at present, there must have been some misunderstanding.
Therefore, I venture to suggest that as betting during the winter months is comparatively speaking small, the tax might easily be introduced in a separate Bill, and then Parliament would have an opportunity of considering the question from A to Z, and on its merits, without being confused with other factors, import duties, and the like. I make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for these reasons, to withdraw this proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman will not accept that proposal, at any rate I suggest that the question should be decided by the free vote of the House. I know it would probably be said that this is not the usual custom for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to follow. There I quite agree, but this is rather a remarkable suggestion. There was a Commission appointed only quite recently to consider this question of the taxation of betting. That Commission

322reported against it. [An HON. MEMBER: “The majority did.”] My hon. Friend to my right says that a majority did; taken as a whole, the result of the Commission was that a majority was against the proposed tax on betting. It seems to be rather remarkable, the Commission having been appointed, and the Commission, including Members of this House, having heard evidence and spent a good deal of time in the matter, that in less than two years the bulk of their recommendations should be put on one side, perhaps against their wish, and we should be putting a betting duty into the Finance Bill.
That is not all. A little earlier in this Session an hon. Member who sits opposite asked leave to introduce a Bill to legalise betting. The House actually refused to allow that Bill to be introduced. It would not so much as allow a First Reading to take place in the present Session. I know, of course, it will be said by many hon. Members that this is not legalising betting. [HON. MEMBEES: “Hear, hear!”] There I rather join issue with hon. Members. It may not legalise betting to-day, but it must inevitably lead to the legalisation of betting, and I will tell hon. Members the reason. The present proposal is most unfair. It is most unjust. It cannot work. I want justice done to the bookmakers as well as to anybody else. What does this proposal suggest? The bookmaker has got to pay a duty for his certificate. He has got to put on—I am not sure about the technical description—but some kind of stamp on every betting transaction. If he does not do it, he renders himself liable to certain pains and penalties, including arrest without warrant. I may say, by the way, that I very much object to these increasing arrests without warrant. He is subject to these penalties, and yet under the law he has no right actually to recover the money. I am just wishing to show the House how impossible it will be to continue this system very long without making it somehow legal.
In addition to this, there is a very strong opinion against this Bill on the part of those who are known as the sporting fraternity, that is to say, men who take an interest in racing from its best standpoint. They look upon this proposed tax as one which will have a very detrimental effect upon the sport.

323I am not putting it forward as my opinion one way or the other, but, when we consider that objection as well as the objection of a large number of people, who on religious and other grounds are opposed to it, I do say that this is not a duty to be brought in and thrust through the House as a Budget proposal with the Whips on.
There is another point. I do not believe that 10 per cent, of the electors at the last election had any idea whatever that such a proposal as this would be brought forward. That is why I feel that it should be withdrawn from the present financial proposals. It could be, if the Government wish, dealt with by a separate measure without being confused with other proposals. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to listen to this appeal, I think the matter should be decided by the free vote of the House. It is a new principle. It is not a question of finance in the Budget. I do say that to ask Members here to give a vote upon a question which is a vital principle to a great many and to ask-them either to do that or to vote against the Government is placing them in a most unfair position. I only speak for myself. I shall not vote for the proposal. I imagine there are other hon. Members in the same position. I do not object to the tax on moral grounds, but I do object to passing a Bill of this sort with a new principle which ought to be dealt with separately and not confused with the other Budget proposals.

858″>Mr. DIXEY: I should like to say a word or two purely in regard to this duty on betting, but from an opposite point of view. There has always been in this country a moral feeling, to my mind quite unjustified, in regard to proper betting. I do not hold the view at all that bets properly made and in accordance with the limits of a person’s income are bad either for the moral health of the country or for the State. We have Known of efforts that have bean made to stifle proper recreation for the community, and these efforts always recoil very seriously upon the heads of the very people who are supposed to want to improve the lives and morals of the community. Because I think like that, I welcome very strongly indeed the provision which the Chancellor of the Ex-

324chequer has made in the Finance Bill. In saying that, however, I do feel with the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman) that the only logical conclusion of a tax of this sort would be to give proper and full recognition of legal betting. It seems to me that it is a totally impossible position for the State to take up, to say that they are going to license bookmakers, to make them pay £10 a year for their licence, £10 a year for their premises—if they are fortunate enough to have premises—and to put ail sorts of onerous conditions upon the bookmakers, and at the same time say to them: “We are licensing you, and putting on all sorts of conditions; nevertheless, we are not going to give you any benefit of the law of the land in respect to your calling.”
It seems to me that if a bookmaker is recognised by the State to such an extent that it says, “We are going to provide a a revenue out of you,” at all events that man is rightly entitled to say that the contract he makes in respect to which he is going to be taxed ought to be fully recognised by the State, and he ought to have equally the right of enforcing his contracts as well as any other man who carries on any other sort of business in the country. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer: Does he think it possible to reconsider the whole position in regard to the Budget? Does he not think it would be fair to consider establishing the gambling laws and the lottery laws of this country on a proper and firm basis? I speak with great humility on the matter, but, as a lawyer, I am perhaps entitled to say this: that everyone of us knows that the present state of the gambling laws of this country are very bad indeed; even in regard to lotteries, people do not know quite what is and what is not a lottery. If you ask any of the most eminent counsel for their advice upon any particular lottery, what they reply is: “To the best of my opinion, I can only tell you that I think it is all right, but I take no responsibility.” Surely that is a state of affairs that in a great country like this, and, if I may say so, a sporting country, is very lamentable. My first point is that I should like, from the point of view of equity and justice to this class of the community, who live on racing and betting, to say: Would it not be advisable to reconsider the whole position?

325There is a further point. This Bill proposes to legalise certain bookmakers. There is no doubt about it that a large amount of money which is at present placed with recognised bookmakers is liable to go outside to street bookmakers. Naturally the people do not like this, particularly working men and working women who do not necessarily think that it is bad to bet. I know in my own part of the country—Cumberland—that men have their recreation, and they like to follow the form of the horses, and put a bob on. I do not see any particular harm in that, if they are getting some real pleasure out of it, as it may be others get out of their amusement. Does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer think this is playing into the hands of the street bookmaker? A large number of people who think they can get better odds, who are betting small amounts of money, are quite ready to say, “I am not going to pay this tax; I am going to one of the street bookies to place my money with him.” I do feel that this differentiation between the licensed bookie and the other at the present time shows that you know little about the street bookie. You are likely to drive quite an amount of money from the legitimate bookmaker to the street bookie, whom you do not touch. Finally, I do feel that the time has come when we should rise above the position of looking at betting as a tremendous vice. If it is going to be allowed by the State at all, the best thing to do is to put it on a clean and proper basis. The police, who have the unpleasant job of looking round barbers’ shops to see whether they can find people consorting there for the purposes of betting, could be materially relieved and given the opportunity of doing far more valuable work. By putting the whole of our betting system on a proper footing, we could relieve a large portion of what I would call petty strife in the country, and relieve the Police Courts in the North of England of a large amount of work.
In conclusion, I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether between now and the tax coming into operation he will set up a Committee to go into the whole question of gambling, and to suggest amendments in the whole of the gambling law. It is most urgent, and is only fair to the bookmakers, who, after all, have to make their living out of these trans-

326actions. Let us remember that horse-racing in this country, which is a great national sport, could not be kept going for any length of time without betting. We all bet. A lot of hon. Members opposite, and Members in all parts of the House—I will not include my right hon. Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser), who is sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, for I have no doubt he looks strictly upon betting—even Members on the Labour Benches like to “have a little bit on” occasionally. I have no doubt the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) has had a bet once or twice.

859″>Mr. J. JONES: And will have again.

860″>Mr. DIXEY: I hope it will be again and again. I know it is very difficult to get the Chancellor of the Exchequer to change his mind, but I do hope he will realise that there is a tremendous feeling in the country that we ought to rid ourselves of this hypocrisy of betting, and try to get the law of the country put straight.

861″>Major GEORGE DAVIES: When I began to go into this question of the Betting Duty and the position I ought to take up, I came to the conclusion that, most likely, I should be entirely alone amongst the Conservatives in being opposed to the tax. [HON. MEMBERS: “No!”] I was glad to find, in the course of this Debate, that I was not the solitary person that I expected I should be. I have read a good deal of the tendencious literature with which we have all been inundated, and I have read some books on the subject, and I have come to the conclusion that as soon as we—that is, those of us who are giving expression to our objections to this tax—take up a logical position, the situation goes, because all the logic, in my opinion, and all the common sense, are behind the provisions of the Bill. It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Sir E. Newman) to say he is not raising the moral issue. It is the moral issue that is raised; there is no question about it. As far as logic is concerned, people who say that it is an un-Christian and an unsocial thing to bet, because covetousness is at the bottom of betting, do not seem to have the first idea of what are the motives of the person who lays a bet; and those who say, as I have been

327informed in some of this literature, that if we wish to gain some advantage without giving corresponding service to somebody or to the State we are guilty of an un-Christian or an unsocial action, seem to have lost all sense of proportion.
Looking at it from the other side, those who say that if you tax betting as you tax liquor you will reduce and control it, are indulging in a false argument, because the question of taxing betting cannot be dealt with in the same way as taxing a commodity. If a man is accustomed to pay 10s. for a bottle of champagne, and finds that as a result of taxation he has got to pay 20s., he drinks less champagne —there is no question of it; but if he is accustomed to bet in terms of 10s. and he find that for every “Bradbury” he pulls out of his pocket he is only going to get odds of four to one instead of five to one, that is not going to affect the amount of betting he does as a direct tax on the commodities he consumes affects his expenditure in that direction.
I cannot help feeling that a great many of the efforts to use logical arguments against this tax on betting fall to the ground. On the one side we have the bookmaking fraternity saying that it is going to put them out of business, and on the other side representatives of the churches are saying it is going to encourage betting. Those views can be set off one against the other. In giving this matter the consideration which it deserves from one who is responsible for even a small share of the legislation of the country, I do feel that we have to take into account this very large question—which is the moral question, whether you can argue it logically or cannot—that there are a very large ram ber of people in this country who would be very deeply wounded in their most vital conscientious feelings by a Betting Duty. It is not like a political issue, such as Free Trade versus Protection, or whether there should be Home Rule for Ireland or should not; those great issues which cleave people and parties asunder are purely political questions; but this is a question upon which very strong views are held by some of the most desirable and responsible citizens of the country. Even if they are in a minority, even if their position logically is assailable, nevertheless I feel that we

328have a responsibility towards their attitude of mind, and that if, for the sake of a comparatively small amount of revenue, we take action which will outrage that feeling, we shall be taking, tactically and politically, an unwise course. Therefore, I join in urging upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to withdraw this provision from his Finance Bill, and either, as my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter suggested, deal with it in a separate measure, or else take the wider point of view, which I think would be the wiser, and say that this matter shall be left alone and the necessary revenue raised from some other source.

862″>Mr. J. JONES: As one of those who is not very much addicted to gambling—although I sometimes have tried my luck, and generally failed—I am not going to set up any high moral standard, for the very simple reason that I do not see much difference between those who get their income on the Stock Exchange and those who earn their living on the racecourse. All this high-falutin’ nonsense about morality in connection with putting a shilling on a horse does not appeal to me with any great force. I am opposed to the Betting Duty for totally different reasons, because, under the provisions of the Budget, it is the old tale over again of there being one law for the rich and another for the poor. If you can afford to be on the telephone, if you can afford to send a telegram, if you can afford to visit private offices kept by a bookmaker, then everything in the garden is lovely from the moral point of view; and if you can afford to take a day off, losing a day’s wages, and go and gamble on the racecourse, then you are a perfectly respectable citizen. But if I walk outside my house and meet a bookmaker friend and say to him, “Bill, put half-a-dollar for me on a horse “—not the horse I own, but the one I would like to—I am a criminal in the eyes of some of those who talk high morality in these matters. I reckon I am not a criminal because I have a spare shilling in my pocket and “chance my arm.” I have sometimes backed myself at billiards, because I fancied myself—though after the game was over I did not. I am going to vote against the betting tax because I do not believe in differentiating between sections of the community in

329regard to so-called offences. Gambling is either right or wrong. If we think it is wrong, we ought to use all our power against it—[Interruption]—and, if we could, stop it; but I would like to see the Government that would try! They would have to begin at the top before they could deal with those at the bottom! I want to see the time come when people will be in a position to enjoy themselves without the necessity for gambling.
I wish to speak about another matter more directly interesting the people I represent, and that is the Road Fund. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor is probably aware that in the last 15 years enormous improvements have taken place in the docks and river of London. Over the area from Tilbury to London Bridge £15,000,000 has been spent by the Port of London Authority and those responsible for the river in order to bring London up to its present position as the greatest port in the world. The docks have been made capable of accommodating the biggest ships that sail the ocean, and the river has been improved, but the road approaches to the docks remain very much as they were 15 or 16 years ago. I am pleased to say that as soon as the Ministry of Transport came into being it proposed to improve the road transit to the docks. A great plan of it was exhibited in this House, and those hon. Members who represented London constituencies admired the proposal, and said that it was just what was needed. What is the use of improving the docks and the river while leaving the road approaches to the docks and the river practically as they were 20 years ago? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said he does not intend to touch the money for roads already in existence, but that it was the fund for new roads that he was going to raid. We have been turned down in West Ham because, so we have been told, the roads to the docks are not arterial roads in the ordinary sense of the term. The road to the Albert and Victoria Dock and King George’s Dock is not a road to Brentwood Market or to Romford Market, or even to Southend; it is the road to the Empire, because ships from every part of the civilised, and some parts of the uncivilised, world visit those great docks. This road is an absolute necessity in view

330of modern developments, and yet we are told that the Road Fund is to be raided, and the money allotted to us—a sum of £3,000,000 was allotted to us under the road scheme—is to be taken from us.
Any hon. Member who knows anything about the East End of London and its dockside population knows what absolute congestion exists there through the roads being too narrow to carry the enormous traffic to and from the docks. Any hon. Member who visited the scene would be compelled to admit the absolute necessity of doing something on a very large scale. The locality is unable to bear the cost. The cost of maintaining the roads is almost too much for local authorities to bear. Owing to the heavy motor traffic it is now costing about four times as much to repair the roads to and from the docks as it used to cost 15 or 16 years ago. The right hon. Gentleman ought to consider cases like ours.
We do not put ourselves forward as the only people to be considered, but here is a case where a scheme was prepared by the Ministry of Transport, where everybody accepted it, and where the local authorities concerned were prepared to pay a reasonable sum towards the cost. It is not merely the cost as far as we are concerned, but it means the development of the trade of London. Practically one-fourth of the population live in and around London, and surely we have a right to expect in regard to a great scheme like this that the Government should reconsider the taking away of this money. This has already been described as a raid on the Road Fund, but in our case it is highway robbery. Of course I do not mean that in an individual sense, and I should not like to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a highway robber, but it is at any rate taking away money that is very badly needed in our own district. I hope what I have suggested will receive favourable consideration, and that we shall be allowed to go on with the scheme which has already been adopted.

863″>Lieut.-Colonel HORLICK: There is only one point I wish to bring forward, and it is to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make one small concession in connection with the new duty proposed to be placed on wrapping paper. What I wish particularly to refer to is straw-board on reels, which is commonly known

331as strawpaper. As its name implies, strawboard is made practically entirely of straw, and very nearly the whole of our supply of strawboard is manufactured in Holland. The thicker strawboard comes over in flat sheets, the thinner kind in reels, and is used by the importer for the manufacture of the corrugated paper very largely in the manufacture of fibre board boxes and kindred boxes of that kind, as also in the wrapping up of certain food products put up in bottles or other breakable materials of that kind.
My reasons for objecting to this duty are four in number. The first is that the. Board of Trade instituted a committee last September which finished its sittings by the end of November. They inquired into the question of duties of various types on wrapping paper, and, although I have studied the report of that committee, I cannot throughout its pages find any mention whatever of strawpaper. This is also verified by the import and export list of 1925, and obviously straw-board is not included. I know the Board of Trade have a right to insert another material or product after the Advisory Committee has finished its labours, but, in view of what the Prime Minister states namely, that only after the most stringent inquiry would any product be taxed under the safeguarding proposals, it does not seem to me that a product which has obviously not been reported upon by a committee should be put into the list subsequently. I know there is a very strong feeling amongst the importers of this product that they have not been dealt with fairly.
My second reason is that these duties are Safeguarding Duties. I have tried to discover what British material is to be safeguarded in this case, because straw-paper is not made in Great Britain. That is economically impossible because it is not a paying concern to make it from straw in this country. Some foreign countries have cheap straw, but Great Britain has a shortage of straw. In Holland the straw is close to the factories, and it is brought there by cheap water transport as against rail transport in this country. Another point is that the farmers in Holland are interested in the factories which produce this raw material, and it does seem to me that we are draw-

332ing rather close to Protection and away from safeguarding if there is no specific industry of this kind in this country or a similar article which is going to be taxed. I do not call that safeguarding at all. I know strawpaper was made in this country some time ago, and it was better than that which was made anywhere else, but that does not alter the fact that at the present time it cannot be made for the economic reason I have stated.
Now let me turn to the practical side—if this duty be put on, is it going to assist British industry? I do not think so. At the present time, there is a very close competition between boxes made from corrugated paper and fibre board on the one hand, and the Scandinavian wooden shook, which is also imported, on the other. The prices at present are very level. Once the duty has been imposed are British manufacturers going to take the Dutch or British article, or are they going to revert to the Scandinavian wood boxes, which will be from 10–15 per cent. cheaper?
My third reason is really a corollary of the second. A certain amount of unemployment will be produced in this country if strawpaper has this duty placed upon it. In my own constituency there is a manufacturer of corrugated paper made from imported Dutch strawpaper, and the firm very much fear, if this duty be imposed, that they will have to turn off between 50 and 60 per cent, of their employés. They employ only about 100 men, but we do not want to impose any duty which is going to turn out of employment 30, or even one or two men without the most searching inquiry, such was promised by the Prime Minsiter.
I have only one other small point to add, and that is the cost to the Exchequer. As this article was not reported upon in the original Committee’s Report, it seems to me that when drawing up the estimate it cannot have been included. There are some 15,000 tons of strawpaper imported into this country per annum, and the price is about £10 per ton. This would produce £23,000 per annum had it been included in the estimate. But I do not think it can have been included. It will, therefore, be easier for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to grant this small request, because he will not be losing any of his revenue. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to see his way to grant this request, or at any rate give

333an opportunity for the whole of the question with regard to the strawpaper to be re-examined.

864″>6.0 P.M.

865″>Mr. LIVINGSTONE: I should like to say a word or two about the Clause which seeks to levy a duty on wrapping paper. It cannot be made too clear that this proposal is not the result of an application of the British paper industry for the protection of that industry, but the application of one section only of that industry. I am speaking as one who has no connection of any kind with overseas paper makers. All my dealings in the overseas market are on the selling side. Therefore I have no interest in this matter except that of the British paper industry. That industry may be divided roughly into five main sections: the rag-paper industry, the esparto paper industry, the wood-free paper industry, the newsprint industry, and, lastly, the wrapping-paper industry. The rag-paper mills obtain rags from every quarter of the world and convert them by the skill of British paper makers into the finest writing papers. The esparto paper mills use as their raw material esparto, commonly known as Spanish grass. This particular grass is imported from Tripoli Tunis, Algeria and Spain, and it is converted into a paper which cannot be equalled by any other paper-making country in Europe or in America. Indeed in this particular article we have no competition at all. The third section is the wood-free section. This is made from a chemical pulp, that is, wood reduced to pulp by chemical means, and again in this case we make a paper which fears no competition from any paper-making countries in the world. The white page on which the OFFICIAL REPORT is printed is a good example of a wood-free paper. Next comes the newsprint section. In that section we import wood pulp, but unlike the wood-free section we use a mechanical pulp produced by mechanical means only and not chemically. We produce in that section good newsprint and book papers and we can hold our own with any paper-making country in the world in regard to this particular article. Those four important sections of the paper industry, therefore, neither require nor request protection. We can compete, and do compete successfully, in every oversea market; we can sell those papers in any

334market in the world, regardless of any competition. Then we come to the wrapping and packing paper section, which has applied to the Board of Trade, and, with the assistance of the Board of Trade, this Clause has been put into the Finance Bill this year. I want to be quite fair; many of my friends are engaged in that section of the industry, but, speaking generally, it is the least efficient, the least progressive, and the least enterprising section of the whole British paper industry. [An HON. MEMBER: “Why”?] Because in many cases they make paper which no self-respecting paper maker desires to make; because they often make paper which no foreigner will trouble to make; because they make paper which the enlightened consumer does not want. Paragraph 26 of the Committee’s Report illustrates this point quite clearly. It says:
“As the papers made from home-produced materials are not generally imported, no direct comparison between home and importers’ prices was offered in respect of them, nor did the parties go closely into the question of the terms on which the alternative wrappings like Kraft or sulphites can compete with the brown wrappings which they are tending to displace. One or two typical illustrations, however, were sufficient to show that, sheet for sheet, and on the basis of equal strength, Kraft has a decided price advantage, though its price per ton is much higher.”
That is why the wrapping and packing paper section of the British industry is bringing this blemish on the whole British paper industry, and the Board of Trade and the Government are advertising to every foreign paper buyer the fact that the British paper industry is no longer able to compete with other paper-producing countries in the world. That will not do us any good with our foreign buyers. Let me now give the opinion of one of the greatest experts in this country on wrapping paper, the hon. Member for East Dorset (Mr. Hall Caine). I am glad to see him in his place; I told him I hoped to have the pleasure of reading this in his presence. He was the chief technical adviser on paper to the Ministry of Munitions during the War. He said:
“The wrapping and packing paper trade has also suffered severely during the last two years, partly because of its antiquated machinery—a paper machine never seems to be used for the manufacture of wrapping paper until it has exhausted its use for the manufacture of other classes—and partly because of the change in the class

335of wrapping paper demanded. Before the introduction of Kraft paper, the British paper manufacturer could hold his own, but, in recent years the importation of Kraft and other wrapping papers manufactured from wood pulp has dealt a severe blow to the old-fashioned type of wrapping paper hitherto made in England. Kraft paper can, of course, and will, be made in this country, but to be competitive it must be manufactured on modern fast-running and up-to-date machines. There are few of this class of machine in British wrapping paper mills.”
With every word there expressed I heartily agree.

866″>Mr. HALL CAINE: Will the hon. Member say on what date that was written, and where?

867″>Mr. LIVINGSTONE: It was written, I think, two or three years ago. It was not any ill-considered after-dinner speech of my hon. Friend; it was a signed article by him in the “Manchester Guardian Commercial” about two years ago. What was true then is even more true to-day. I have just this moment heard from the London Chamber of Commerce that a consignment of vulcanised fibre has been held up at the London docks. Vulcanised fibre is made from pure cotton cellulose, that is to say, from paper made from cotton rags. By no stretch of the imagination can it be described as packing or wrapping paper. But that vulcanised fibre, made from paper, has been held up in the London docks because it is made from paper. It cannot be described by any Customs officer. as in any way resembling wrapping paper. To begin with, it is much too expensive to use for wrapping paper, and, secondly, it is entirely different in character. When is all this tomfoolery on the part of the Board of Trade going to end? Consignments of other kinds are being held up all this week. I have been told of various cases in which paper that is not wrapping paper, and could not be used as wrapping paper, is being held up because of this impending duty on imported packing and wrapping paper.

868″>Mr. RADFORD: For a very short time this evening I wish to trouble the House to consider the question of the evasion of Super-tax and Death Duties. Had I been called immediately following one of the speeches on the Betting Duty, I should have apologised to the House for taking them on to a rather dull and

336uninteresting subject, but I think that anything will compare favourably with the discussion on Kraft and wrapping papers to which we have just listened, with all due respect to the ability with which the last two speakers expressed their views. About a year ago I put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether his attention had been drawn to the numerous cases of the formation of limited companies to take over the private estates of various persons, and whether he had taken into account the loss of revenue which was being thereby incurred. I am very disappointed not to see in the Finance Bill which is now before us any further strengthening of the law, with a view to closing the meshes of the net through which these large fish are escaping.
I would like at the outset to make it clear that I do not consider that the formation of a company, or the acquisition of a derelict company, to take over the private estate of a person, of necessity implies any evasion of tax. As the law stands now, it is undoubtedly very inequitable that a rich man with a big estate is not allowed, if the estate be owned by him personally and not by a limited company, any expenses of management—secretaries, clerks, agents, and so on—in arriving at his Super-tax liability. In the case of a very rich man, it is an absolute impossibility for him to manage all his affairs himself, and it is inequitable that all the expenses of managing them should be disregarded in arriving at his Super-tax liability. That, no doubt, may have given rise to the original idea of forming companies to take over these estates. But what was originally legitimate has now gradually extended into what, in my opinion, is illegitimate.
The Legislature has recognised this, and has made, if I may say so without disrespect, a very feeble effort, in Section 21 of the Finance Act, 1922, to cope with some of the evils which have crept in in regard to this tax evasion. I want to make it clear that I am not referring only to landed property, but to the whole of the investments and assets of the persons concerned. Individuals who had a legitimate motive for forming companies to take over their estates, in order to ensure that they should only pay Super-tax on their real income—that is to say, on the dividends that the company was

337able to pay to them out of the income from what had previously been their property—found that, by the company abstaining from the payment of dividends, they could avoid Super-tax altogether, except as regards such money as they absolutely needed to live upon. In other words, they could arrange that the company which they owned should only pay such dividends as were absolutely necessary to provide them with the minimum of cash that they required. It was to deal with such cases as this that Section 21 of the Finance Act, 1922, was passed. It provided that
“Where it appears to the Special Commissioners that any company to which this Section applies has not, within a reasonable time after the end of any year or other period ending on any date subsequent to the fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-two, for which accounts have been made up, distributed to its members in such manner as to render the amount distributed liable to be included in the statements to be made by the members of the company of their total income for the purposes of Super-tax, a reasonable part of its actual income from all sources for the said year or other period, the Commissioners may, by notice in writing to the company, direct that for purposes of assessment to Super-tax the said income of the company shall, for the year or other period specified in the notice, be deemed to be the income of the members,”
and so on. Unfortunately, however, there were such limitations in the definition of the companies to which the Section was applicable that this has really become inoperative. The Section only applies to a company which has been incorporated since the 5th April, 1914, in which the number of shareholders, computed as therein provided, is not more than 50, which has not issued any of its shares as a result of a public invitation to subscribe for shares, and is under the control of not more than five persons. I want to emphasise the fact that the word there is “and,” and not “or,” so that, as long as any one of these four provisions is complied with, the company does not come within the provisions of this Section. As regards the provision that a company which was registered prior to the 5th April, 1914, does not come within this Section, it is true that when the Act was passed in 1922 it looked as though the Inland Revenue was going to be made safe, but here is an advertisement, dated the 30th January, 1926, in a well-known financial paper, the “Accountant”:

338″Advertiser desires to purchase registration of company formed prior to 5th April, 1914. Memorandum must have wide powers as to holding and dealing in real and personal estate.—Box 565, c/o G. & Co., Publishers, Ltd., London.”
I know from my own personal knowledge, and this is not the only advertisement I have seen, that there is a demand for derelict companies formed prior to the 5th April, 1914, in order that they may be acquired, and that thereby, with due alteration of their memorandum and articles of association, they may be used to acquire estates of private persons, and thus enable practically complete avoidance of Super-tax. I remember that, at the time when I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer a year ago whether his attention had been drawn to the formation of companies in this way, I had seen only the week before the registration of a large company, with a capital of approximately £1,000,000, to take over the large estate and investments of one of our nobility. One thing that struck me particularly about it at the time was that, though this estate was being taken over by this company with a capital of about £1,000,000, some £5,000 or £10,000 preference shares were offered for public subscription. It was obvious that there could have been no legitimate financial reason for making that offer to the public. The cost of advertising and all the other steps they would have to take would wipe out a considerable amount of the small number they offered, but it was obvious that by doing that they would at once make the company they had formed clear of this provision of Section 21 of the Finance Act, 1922, inasmuch as it would be a company which had issued some of its shares as the result of a public invitation to subscribe. At that time, presumably, the particular persons interested were not able to acquire a company which had been registered prior to 5th April, 1914, but their financial advisers had pointed out that by making a public issue of a few shares they could avoid the provisions of the Act in another way.
Worse than all these cases I have drawn attention to is one I saw recently, which I can put in these terms. The whole of the investments and property of a certain individual were sold to a company for a large purchase price which was to be paid by the company to this indi-

339vidual in 40 or 50 half-yearly instalments of a certain amount in cash without interest. The effect of that transaction when it came to be worked out was clear. The details of the investments were not published, but imagine that it was £2,000,000 of 5 per cent. War Loan—nothing more and nothing less. The £100,000 income from this £2,000,000 of War Loan was liable first of all to 4s. in £ Income Tax—that is £20,000—and Super-tax on the balance of £80,000, to the extent of something in the neighbourhood of £30,000, making the total taxation nearly £50,000 out of the £100,000, He then sold the War Loan, the purchase price to be paid in instalments spread over 25 years. The company was liable for Income Tax at 4s., but it had no Super-tax to pay as a company. It was able then to enter into a contract with him, carefully worked out in advance, that it would pay the purchase price of £2,000,000 by half-yearly instalments at the rate of £80,000 a year. That was not income. It was the payment to him by instalments of a capital sum, on which he was not liable for a penny piece of Super-tax. We must always be prepared for a certain amount of tax evasion on the part of all classes of the community, but I contend that whereas we are accustomed to knowing that possibly some of the smaller fishes, who ought to be caught, may slip through the meshes of the net, it is entirely the wrong way round when we have the net and it is some of the big fish who can slip through, because the expense and trouble of taking such steps as those I have outlined make it not worth while, to anyone but a person with a very big income.
It is not much use criticising if you have no constructive suggestion to make, and I suggest that without waiting another year, when the thing will have gone further and further, a Clause should be inserted in this Finance Bill altering and strengthening Section 21 of the Finance Act, 1922, or alteratively replacing it entirely by a fresh Clause. I felt impelled to raise this matter in the House, and I hope it will reach the ears of the Chancellor in due course. Where I have addressed working-class meetings up and down the country combating the views of our Socialist friends opposite, I have always pointed out that we not only have 4s. Income Tax, but a Super-tax rising to

3406s. in the £, and that the very richest people in the country are paying approximately 10s. in the £ on their income. That is true of the bulk of the rich people of the country, and I think it is the duty of the Government to put a provision in this Bill now to ensure that it shall be compulsorily applicable to the small minority of the rich people of the country who are seeking to evade it.

869″>Mr. GILLETT: I should like entirely to support the hon. Member, but I am afraid the result of his speech may not be quite what he intended, because, as he informed us, he used the argument as to the weight of taxation borne by the wealthy classes when he was trying to oppose Socialist policy. While he was speaking, I could only think the cases he was giving would probably be exceedingly good to use on the Socialist platform.

870″>Mr. RADFORD: I trust that if the hon. Member makes what I consider to be not a particularly sporting use of my remarks, he will do me the justice of adding that the Conservative speaker in question was urging the Government to tighten the law to prevent such abuses.

871″>Mr. GILLETT: If the hon. Member had allowed me to finish he would have seen that it was very much on those lines that I was anxious to support him, because I think the illustration he has given is exceedingly useful as showing what is taking place in regard to evasion of taxation. I entirely agree with him that there are wealthy people who are paying their taxation in a perfectly straight way, and it is people like those the hon. Member complained of who are really little short of a curse to the country. In the business world you come across men of the kind he has referred to, who are always trying to see how near they can get to the law so as to avoid certain payments, and you always discover that people who are perfectly innocent are bound to suffer from the Regulations which have to be brought into effect in order to counteract the sharp practices of people similar to those the hon. Member referred to. I very much hope the Treasury will consider how far this practice is being carried out, and if they are convinced that it is really going on to any great extent—and I am inclined very much to agree with the hon. Member, though my experience is

341nothing like his, not being in the same class of business—they will tackle the thing at once and not allow it to drift on for another 12 months, because it does no good to anyone and it would be invaluable if the law could be tightened up and people who were bound to pay should be made to pay, in justice to others who are honourably playing the game.
I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea (Mr. Runciman) that it is well to have put before the House a fairly hopeful view of the trade position at present. At the same time he did not mention certain special circumstances which give rather a different complexion, and at any rate have to be borne in mind when we look at the picture he has painted. One of those circumstances, of course, is that we have still untouched the vast mass of unemployment. The other, and a new one is this. Many of us had begun to hope that the position on the Continent was getting rather better from a financial standpoint, and speaking personally—it may be that other hon. Members who are better acquainted with the subject were expecting it—it has been a great disappointment to me in the last two or three months to find that in certain countries whose exchanges one had hoped had become fairly stabilised for the time being—there has been not alone the serious slump that has taken place in France but Belgium, Poland and Italy, whose exchanges have been fairly stable for a number of months, have had breaks in them which we know will only add to the difficulty of those who are doing trade with those countries. There are certainly factors, looking at the whole position, which must compel the House to view the situation very gravely.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the way in which the money market had faced the difficulties of the last fortnight. I think possibly there is one explanation in which hon. Members opposite will not agree with me, that the suggestions made in certain quarters that the strike was of a revolutionary character were not taken seriously by those interested in the financial world, and that if they had been really believed in, as certain papers desired they should be believed in, seemingly, the financial position would not have remained as it

342is. But the wonderful calmness of the country and the way the strike was taken convinced the large mass of the owners of stocks that the disturbance was not revolutionary, but was an industrial strike such as was planned by the leaders.
The Budget seems to me to be a selection of items rather like a Tit-Bits newspaper. You have a Betting Duty and safeguarding, and you jump from one subject to another in a way that is rather different from the Budget of last year. I am rather impressed with the futility of the two suggestions attempting to stabilise taxation. I cannot think how the Chancellor imagines he is going to bind the nation definitely for 10 years by inserting a Clause to say that Imperial Preference and the Safeguarding of Industries are to go on for 10 years. What is to prevent any Government, in another Budget, before the 10 years are out, if they so desire, anulling and cancelling these Clauses? However, I suppose the Chancellor thinks in some way he is securing a certain policy. If that is what he wants, he may possibly secure that end, but a succeeding Government can alter the policy if they so desire. I agree that at the end of 10 years probably the policy of the Conservative party will be to support the Safeguarding of Industries, but I should not be at all certain that that would be the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I cannot imagine that anyone would be prepared to say what his policy might be in 10 years on any of these questions.
One of the main items in the Budget proposals is a hindrance to trade. During last week, we heard of the hold-up of the docks. I was rather amused when an hon. Member was speaking from those benches to hear that we were having another hold-up. This time I concluded it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who had taken the place of the dockers in regard to the hold-up he is complaining of to-day. The mass of regulations on the safeguarding of industries and the preference and protective measures the party opposite are introducing, seem to be only a perpetual hindrance to the development of our trade. We see small matters mentioned in the Budget—small technical questions. A Clause ought to be put into the Bill authorising the Treasury to exempt certain articles if they are so

343small that it is not worth while troubling about them. One proposal that is being dealt with under the safeguarding legislation is the very important question of glass. If I remember rightly, before the War the London County Council had been asked to develop the study of glass in one of their large polytechnics. At that time, the County Council said that the study of this question was a national matter and they asked the Government if they would make a considerable grant of money in order that this study of the manufacture of glass might be developed at the polytechnic. The Government refused to do that, and while the London County Council and the Government were deciding who should pay for the enlargement of the institute, the War came on and the problem of lenses became very acute.
It seems to me that in these industries—I have been reading the Report of the Safeguarding dealing with glass—it is much more satisfactory if we want to help an industry, to help it by a method which I admit is not to be defended on financial grounds. If we want to have an industry in this country like the glass industry, which was so needed during the war, it is infinitely sounder to give a subsidy than to have a protective tariff. In the Report dealing with the safeguarding of glass, over and over again it is stated that glass of the highest quality is manufactured in this country, but nobody seems to want to buy it. It is also stated that in Germany there is a demand for this glass. Before the war in Germany it was specially required for military purposes, but that demand has gone, because the German Army is now smaller than the English Army. If we want to get these industries going, and if they cannot be made to pay on an ordinary economic basis, it is far better that they should be treated in the way that we are tackling the sugar beet question than in having duties imposed which only add to the block on the Customs frontiers of this country, by adding further items to the very many small items, affecting a very limited number of people, which block the Customs frontiers.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer deals with the question of the licensing of motor vehicles, I hope he will give thought before he imposes a heavy duty

344upon a vehicle which I know many hon. Members, especially those who drive motor cars, regard as a perfect abomination. I refer to the char-a-banc. Although it may be a very great nuisance on a country road when one is driving a motor, to discover that a char-a-banc party is ahead, when we look at the matter from the standpoint of the crowded districts of a great city like London, we have to bear in mind that there are crowds of men and women who had not seen the countryside of England until the char-a-banc came along. They are now seeing the country in a way that only those who have private motor cars have been able to see it. The char-a-banc provides a cheap form of travel for these masses of men and women, who find great enjoyment from it. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he is imposing extra taxes will bear in mind that it is not merely a question of enjoyment to these people, but a very important matter of health to them, and that taxation which is going to put any hindrance in the way of this healthful form of recreation and enjoyment is prejudicial to the well-being of the country.
In regard to the Betting Duty, I would like to endorse what was said by one of the hon. Members on the benches below the Gangway on this side. When we look at the proposals of the Betting Duty, we must ask ourselves whether they correspond with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said when he informed us that this duty did not legalise betting. I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend said, that if we look at the Regulations that have to be entered into and the restrictions imposed upon those who wish to take part in betting as a bookmaker, the effect is very clear. The strangest thing of all is the Clause dealing with police entry into buildings where betting is being carried on. I suppose that at the present time the only power the police have to enter any place is when they go into some club where betting is being carried on in an illegal manner. Now, strange to say, the police are to be empowered to go into any of these buildings where betting is being carried on, and they are to go there, not for the purpose of stopping it or arresting those taking part in it, but to see that the law is being carried out in regard to the betting that is going on.

345If we are going to split hairs on legal points, it may be proved that this duty does not legalise betting, but to the ordinary man in the street it does legalise betting, with the result that the people will look upon betting as a part of our legal system, quite as much as the drink trade or any other trade which is carried on and is taxed. For these reasons I think that what was said by the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) is of very great importance, because once the idea is held generally that betting is legalised, then we at once come to the question of street betting. If we are going to have legalised betting, we must tackle the whole problem and deal equally with every section connected with it. What we are doing at the present time, however much the Chancellor of the Exchequer may try to argue that he is not altering the law, is that a vast mass of men and women will say that he is legalising betting, and will look upon it as having been legalised.
What will inevitably follow will be that the Government will not be content to let the law remain in the condition in which it will be when we have passed this Finance Bill, and in two or three years’ time they will propose that the whole system should be legalised. I am not going into the question of whether it is or is not well to legalise betting. I am opposed to it, but there is a great deal to be said for legalising betting. I put it to hon. Members opposite who favour the legalising of betting that it would be better to realise that the whole principle of this Bill really legalises betting, and the people who wish to make a protest against it ought to make their protest now, because it will be futile a year or two hence when perhaps the small man in the street is going to be dealt with by the Government for people to object, because the whole principle of the thing will have been given away in this Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the fact that the Trade Facilities Act is not to be renewed. That statement met with a good deal of approval in the House. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has made a mistake. I recognise the force of the criticisms that have been made against this Act, but the way in which it has been worked is only

346a secondary point. The hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) has stated that the creation of stock of this kind, with the Government guarantee behind it, to a certain extent must influence the standing of Government stocks. I think that side of the question has been over accentuated, because with the enormous sums of money which the Government have in stocks, it seems to me to be making too much of it to say that the stock created by the Trade Facilities Act will outweigh the essential thing, and that is the providing of anything that will help to keep trade going and to find work for the unemployed. On these grounds, I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that that Act is to come to an end in a year or two’s time when it is due to expire.
The fundamental question in regard to this Budget, as of all Budgets, was raised by the hon. Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) when he dealt with the whole question of how taxation is distributed among those who have the money and those who have not. Hon. Members opposite would do well to consider the very interesting figures given by the hon. Member, because possibly they do not fully realise how these facts in regard to taxation and the distribution of wealth are being talked about in quarters which 20 or 30 years ago never troubled their heads or thought it was of any importance to know anything about taxation, or what was being done with the wealth of the country. Behind the great movement of the last fortnight and the response to the strike called by the trade union leaders, there was great dissatisfaction as to the distribution of wealth and the fact that so many men and women in this country were feeling that they were being asked to accept reductions in wages, whilst they knew perfectly well that the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer year after year had been to give relief in taxation to classes of men and women who were best qualified from the amount of their wealth to have borne that taxation. We have had a warning in the last fortnight, and I suggest that it is a matter that hon. Members opposite might carefully consider.

872″>Mr. RONALD McNEILL: I confess that the Debate this afternoon as far as it has gone has come upon me as a very

347pleasant surprise. This is one of the chief Government Measures of the year, if not the chief Government Measure of the year, and when I saw the Order Paper I fancied that we must be in for a rather formidable task, for I saw that the Opposition had put down an Amendment for the rejection of the Bill. I thought when I heard that the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) was going to open the Debate that we should have had a very thoroughgoing criticism of the proposals in the Bill. I found also that four or five leaders of the Liberal party had also put an Amendment on the Paper, which presumably they would have moved if they had had the opportunity. That Amendment traverses every salient part of the Budget and criticises all its proposals. The list of those associated with that Amendment is headed by the name of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I hope the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) will not be offended if I speak of him as his leader. The Leader of the Liberal party has not honoured us with his presence to-day, and consequently, I suppose, took no interest in this particular Amendment. But the right hon. Member for West Swansea made a most interesting speech which had no relation whatever to the Amendment which stands in his name on the Paper. In fact, I do not think throughout his speech, with perhaps one single exception, that there was a word to which I, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could take any exception.
On the contrary, in the present circumstances it was a most helpful and useful speech. He showed very conclusively the tremendous damage likely to be inflicted on the trade of this country by the recent industrial crisis through which we have passed, and he went on to give good reasons for saying that we were not to take too pessimistic a view of the situation and that in spite of the crisis through which we had just passed he thought the country might rapidly recover. That was certainly not an attack upon the Bill, the Second Reading of which is before the House to-day, and, therefore, I find so far as the attack of these two right hon. Gentlemen is concerned that my task is a comparatively easy one. The right hon.

348Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh also made, as he always does, a very thoughtful and careful speech, but he made no great attack, so far as I could follow him, on the actual proposals of the Bill. It is true he gave reasons for objecting to the provisions which have been made in the Economy Bill, and which no doubt underlie the finance of the year, and to that extent it is relevant to the proposals we are now making. Otherwise, the only two real criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman made were, first, that we have not inserted in this Bill drastic proposals for dealing with tax evasion— a subject also dealt with by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Radford)— and, in the second place, that we have not made provisions which will impose heavier taxation on the agricultural industry. He complained that we have not made arrangements for the assessment of those engaged in agriculture which would impose a heavier burden of Income Tax upon them. Unless that was the meaning of his objection to the option now given, then the only alternative in his mind is that the farmers when they do exercise the option should exercise it in a way which will impose upon themselves the higher taxation which is necessary.
The Second Reading of the Finance Bill is, of course, one stage only in the very long and elaborate process by which the finance of the year is supervised and controlled by the House of Commons. But the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, like all other Second Readings, is not really concerned with minute details, but with the general principles contained in the Bill. Acceptance of the Second Reading does not involve the acceptance of every detail proposed in the Measure. On the other hand, the rejection of the Second Reading would involve the disapproval by Parliament of the whole scheme of finance for the year proposed by the Government, and, consequently, disapproval of the Government which brings it forward, and, therefore, if the House—I do not think it is very likely to do it—were to reject the present Bill it would mean that they wished the finances of the country to be placed under the control and management of one or other of the two parties opposite, or of the two parties in combination. Has the House any very clear idea what that

349result would be? Has it any clear idea of the financial proposals of the parties opposite? Is it even sure that the two parties above and below the Gangway respectively have any financial policy in common? I do not think there is any indication from the speeches we have heard to-day that there is any more agreement between them than there is between either of them and ourselves.
We have heard from the hon. Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), who no doubt is a person of influence in the party opposite on questions of finance, that he still regards the Capital Levy as the means, or the chief means, of dealing with our financial difficulties. I heard a speech not long ago from an hon. Member opposite who went a good deal further, and evidently regarded a repudiation of the National Debt, in some form or other, as the chief way out of our difficulties. But of this we may be quite certain, that, although our financial burdens at the present time are heavy enough—we all know that the taxpayer is groaning under the weight of taxation—if hon. Members opposite were to be made responsible for the finances of the year it would be a case of the taxpayer exchanging chastisement with whips for chastisement with scorpions. Hon. Members opposite have certain economies which they occasionally tell us they would make, but they never leave us in any doubt that the expenditure which we should be called upon to bear would be infinitely heavier than anything contained in the present Bill or likely to be ever proposed by the present Government.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite, in his opening speech, told us, and we have often heard it from the benches opposite, that he looks upon a drastic cutting down of armaments, which means national defence, as the chief means of escaping from the heavy expenditure of to-day. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman went on to give us what I thought was a very reasonable and moderate view as to the particular economies that might be made. He spoke of a sum of £5,000,000 a year for three years as being a possible economy on the fighting Services. Well, I do not think that is a very extravagant hope, and I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend hopes to effect economies—I do not know whether they will reach that figure or

350not. I am sure of this, however, that any economies that can be made either in the fighting Services or elsewhere will be made so far as it is possible from year to year. We on this side of the House cannot, and will never, agree with hon. Members opposite that economy in the fighting Services, that is in national defence, can or ought to be carried out recklessly and merely for the sake of reducing expenditure, altogether apart from the requirements of those Services. The other economies of the right hon. Gentleman opposite would be the result of an increase of revenue and would come from the increased taxation which he wishes to place upon the agricultural interest. That is not an expedient to which we on this side of the House can accede. We regard the agricultural interest as fully taxed at present, if not overtaxed, and we cannot accept the idea that any change of the sort proposed by the right hon. Member opposite is a possible expedient for increasing revenue at the present time.

873″>Mr. W. GRAHAM: I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but that is not the real point. The whole point was the unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commissions to put the taxation of agricultural land on exactly the same basis as all other industries in this country.

874″>Mr. McNEILL: Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the carrying out of that recommendation would have the effect of placing heavier taxation on the agricultural industry? That is the point.

875″>Mr. GRAHAM: But surely the right hon. Gentleman will not dispute this proposition; that there can be nothing unfair in putting taxes on profit actually earned. That is the whole basis, and nothing else is before us in debate.

876″>Mr. McNEILL: I am not speaking as to whether it is fair or not. I am asking the right hon. Gentleman whether that is his intention. Our intention is not to do anything which would at the present time increase the taxation, which we think is already ample, upon the agricultural interest. The real principle which we are called upon to assert in the Second Reading of this Bill is not so much any changes in taxation as changes in financial administration. The Bill we are

351asking the House to accept to-day makes no change in the great staples of taxation in this country. The great pillars upon which rests the structure of the financial edifice are not to be touched. There is the Income Tax, the Super-tax and the Death Duties, the great trio of direct taxation; and there are the Duties on tea, sugar, tobacco, spirits and beer. All those great staples of taxation are not touched at all in the present Finance Bill, and, therefore, I may say that so far as changes in taxation are concerned they are, comparatively speaking, unimportant. It is true that we also continue the Key Industries Duties, and we continue the McKenna Duties, with very slight alterations, and, therefore, the main scheme of taxation remains, and will remain after the Bill is passed, exactly as it is at present.
7.0 P.M.
As regards the payment of Debt, my right hon. Friend has vindicated his extreme orthodoxy by the proposal which excited the criticism of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), but which, at all events, has made good the inroad that the coal subsidy made upon the provision for the redemption of Debt, in the way the Chancellor of the Exchequer described in opening his Budget, and a Clause of this Bill gives effect to that proposal. There are only three changes in taxation which, to judge from the Debate this afternoon, are likely to excite very much debate. There is, first of all, the duty to be placed on wrapping paper. Two hon. Members have criticised that proposal, and one of them suggested, if I recollect rightly, that this proposal ought to have been placed in the Safeguarding Bill. As a matter of fact, the wrapping paper duty has passed through exactly the same ordeal as the other safeguarding duties imposed last autumn, and it was only because of the exigencies of Parliamentary time that it was not then included in that Bill. It has run the gauntlet of the Committee which examines these articles and trades suggested for safeguarding; it has passed through that ordeal and is now included in this Bill instead of in the Safeguarding Bill, and the whole procedure and machinery for bringing it before Parliament is exactly the same as in the case of the other duties passed last year.

352When the Bills come into Committee, no doubt those considerations which hon. Members have brought forward this afternoon will be very carefully considered, but those criticisms certainly do not go to the principle of this Measure, and are essentially Committee points.
Then there will no doubt also be, when we get into Committee, a good deal to be said about bringing commercial motor cars within the McKenna Duties and the increased schedule of duties on the heavy motor vehicles. These again are essentially committee points and I will only now say, in order to forestall any misunderstanding on the point, that the bringing of commercial vehicles within the scope of the duty is not for safeguarding purposes but is entirely in order to escape the administrative difficulties, in fact the impossible difficulties, created in the case of motor cars when this particular species of car, with the parts, were excluded from the duties. It is interesting to remember that it was the original intention of Mr. McKenna to have included these cars and they were only subsequently dropped out because it was felt that it was better to give an exemption to those who were engaged in commerce. Therefore, so far as the principle of safeguarding is concerned, no question arises with regard to that.
There will also no doubt be a good deal of discussion when the time comes over Clauses 40 and 41, which deal with the Road Fund. We have had some criticism of that this afternoon, and one from my right hon. Friend the Member for the Wells Division (Sir R. Sanders). I am glad to see that the idea that in this matter there has been anything in the nature of a breach of pledge appears now to be dropped. [An HON. MEMBER: “No!”] I do not know whether anybody takes that view, but certainly no one who has addressed the House this afternoon has ventured to bring up that idea. I notice that there are a good many Members who, in quite a different connection, have emphasised the perfect freedom of one Parliament to reverse the proceedings of a preceding Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea has insisted on that in reference to Imperial Preference. What applies to one applies to the other. If Parliament is free to reverse the Imperial Preferences of a former Parliament, it is

353equally free to reverse the arrangements that may have been made in former years in quite different circumstances for dealing with the upkeep and maintenance of the roads. The Bill carries out the decision of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to transfer from the Road Fund “surplus” to the Exchequer the sum of £7,000,000. Let me mention, in case it should have escaped notice—though it was mentioned by my right hon. Friend in opening the Budget—that on no showing whatever can that be regarded as a breach of pledge, as hon. Members opposite call it.

877″>Mr. SN0WDEN: “Larceny” was the word used.

878″>Mr. McNEILL: I notice nobody else did, and I think it was the right hon. Gentleman opposite who used the word “steal” in former Debate. Considering that shortly after the Armistice a sum of £8,000,000, in regard to which there was no sort of contractual obligation, was granted from the Exchequer to the Road Fund for the upkeep of roads, the most and the very worst that can be said about this £7,000,000 is that the Exchequer now, owing to altered circumstances, has taken back, not the whole, but seven-eighths of the gift which was then given. In this Bill and the proposals made for dealing with the roads, there is no departure whatever from the principle, to which we still adhere, that the users of the roads ought to pay for their upkeep, but what we are saying now is that, in addition to mere use and wear of the roads, there is a pleasure and luxury element in the use of motor cars, and it is perfectly reasonable that we should make a division—I do not say a division that can be scientifically accurate, but at all events a division—between that element which is the element of pleasure and luxury, and the element which is mere wear and tear of the roads. Therefore, we say that the element which is attributable to pleasure and luxury should go into the Exchequer. But the Road Fund really does not suffer, as compared with what anybody expected it to enjoy at the time it was formed. Its income will be infinitely larger, even after this terrible raid that is to be made on it, than anybody ever anticipated in 1920 and even in the present year its income is seventeen and a half million pounds and

354there is a larger sum for the maintenance and upkeep of the roads than was estimated last year and a larger sum than was expended last year.
In addition to that, there is another point—and I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells, who is so interested in this matter, has borne it in mind. A sum of, I think, £1,250,000 has been set aside by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this year for the use of unclassified roads, especially in rural districts. Those are provisions which are, I think—I was going to say generous, but at all events very fair, provisions under the existing financial circumstances of the country, and I do not think anybody can say that, having regard to the necessities of the country, and the demands on the Exchequer for administration in all its branches, that that represents by any means a mean sum to be appropriated solely to the upkeep and improvement of the roads.
I said just now that it seemed to me that the main principles of this Bill, with which we are concerned on Second Reading, do not mainly consist of any changes of this sort in taxation, and that they really depended a great deal more on the alteration of the permanent law with regard to taxation, especially as seen in two principles. I refer especially—and now I come to what was said by the right hon. Member for West Swansea—to one principle embodied in this Bill which is one which I am quite certain will be warmly welcomed by Members on this side of the House, and that is the seventh Clause which for 10 years stabilises, so far as we can do anything to stabilise it, the system of Imperial Preferences, and in this connection I would like to say with how much pleasure I listened to the very able maiden speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Dumbartonshire (Lieut.-Colonel Thom). I think it was a speech which shows that when the House at all events is discussing these matters of Imperial concern, he will be able very materially to add to the information of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea, in referring to this principle of stabilising—and it was referred to by some other Members, including the hon. Member who spoke immediately before me—emphasised the

355freedom which Parliament must have to deal with these matters in the future, whether we stabilise or not. That is perfectly true. No one suggests that any thing we can do will tie the hands of any future Parliament but if I may, with out offence, refer to the Leader of the party of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea, I would ask him how he reconciles his view with the action of his leader. I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is not here, but his consistency in all political principles is known to everybody in the House. It was only four years ago that the Leader of the Opposition—

879″>Major CRAWFURD: What about the Chancellor of the Exchequer? That was only two years ago.

880″>Mr. McNEILL: It was only four years ago that the Leader of the Liberal party did exactly what we are doing now and which offends the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea so grievously, because in 1921 the present Viceroy of India, who at that time was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, paid a visit to the West Indies. While he was out there he was authorised by the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was Prime Minister at that time, to make an announcement in the West Indies that the measure of preference which was given at that time to the Dominions and Colonies should be stabilised for 10 years at the existing rates. When he came home in 1922 the following year, in this House, actually speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, Mr. Wood repeated that this system of preference was to be continued for 10 years.
Now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea, notwithstanding that clear action of his leader, tells us that this is a principle which ought to be resisted and then he goes on to give us this warning that
“when a Government with different political and fiscal opinions sits on the Treasury Bench this declaration will be said to have no force and no validity.”
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to inform us, directly or indirectly, whether that view is shared by his Leader, because it is obviously of very great importance to the House to know

356not merely what the right hon. Gentleman thinks—though that is very important, too—but more important to know what his Leader thinks, and, therefore, what he would be likely to do if the time came when he again was at the head of a Government with different political and fiscal opinions. I think we are entitled to know what the Liberal party stands for on this issue.

881″>Mr. BUCHANAN: You had better ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is most likely to know.

882″>Mr. McNEILL: Right hon. Gentlemen of the Labour party have given us fair warning that when the time comes, and they have an opportunity, they will scrap what we are doing now. I see that the right hon. Member for Come Valley nods his head. Even Jupiter nods sometimes. We are warned that this proposal will be scrapped. The hon. Member for Hills-borough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) gave us formal warning of that only the other day. All I can say is that we are very glad to know so clearly what are the intentions of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have no doubt that they will take every opportunity of proclaiming their views upon this point to the country. Obviously they will not make that declaration here and try to keep it back in the country. But should they fail to make it known in the country we shall not fail; we shall let the country know what will be one of the first results of displacing the present Government and putting in power a combination of either of the parties opposite. I feel certain that the majority of instructed opinion in this country is so increasingly in favour of the great system of Imperial Preference, with its infinite value to the future of this country, commercially as well as in other ways, that nothing which we could proclaim would be more likely to retain us on this side of the House than the announcement of the intentions of which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have warned us.
The second great principle embodied in this Bill is the change in the system or the method of assessing Income Tax. The right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh told us that he did not object to the proposal to put the assessment on the previous year’s income instead of on the three years’ average. As the right hon. Gentle-

357man truly said, the proposal is carrying out the very strong recommendation of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission called attention to the fact that in the evidence given before them there was an immense amount of support for the idea of the change, which they endorsed and emphatically recommended. The right hon. Gentleman complained that we have not done anything to give effect to some other recommendations of the Royal Commission in the direction of preventing evasion. My hon. Friend the Member for South Salford spoke very strongly on the same point. May I say to my hon. Friend that there is no difference of opinion in any part of the House that every possible step should be taken to prevent the evasion of tax. But the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh has overlooked a certain amount that has been done already in that direction. He said that something like £5-£ 10,000,000 a, year was probably lost through evasion of the tax. The right hon. Gentleman ignores what has been done in recent years to meet this very point.
I do not think that the Royal Commission, if sitting to-day, could speak in quite the same terms with regard to the evasion. “We have had legislation to deal with the evasion of Super-tax by one-man companies. We have been given examples to-day of the way in which evasion still goes on. Of course the House realise that a great deal of ingenuity is constantly being expended in devising ways in—I will not say evading, for that is hardly fair—but in finding out exactly how far the law prevents certain things being done. There is nothing wrong in carrying out any transaction which is strictly within the law. There is an equal amount of ingenuity being extended by the Inland Revenue authorities for stopping the holes, so to speak, and trying to make the thing watertight. There is always that contest going on. I am certain that the speech which my hon. Friend made this evening will be very carefully considered by the Inland Revenue authorities, and it is quite possible that he may assist them in following out the sort of cases he had in mind and in devising machinery for dealing with them.
My hon. Friend asked my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with the matter in this

358Bill. He must remember that it is one thing to be able to come to the House and give an example of a rather scandalous case, and it is quite a different thing to be able to draft a Clause in an Act of Parliament which will hit that particular case and not hit a great many other cases which are not intended to be hit. I cannot say at this moment whether it would be possible to frame a Clause which would have the effect that my hon. Friend desires, without having other effects which he would not desire, but the matter will certainly be considered, and my hon. Friend will no doubt bring forward any proposals he may have to make when the Bill goes into Committee, and then will be the time to consider whether his proposal meets the case.
With regard to this change over from the three years’ average to the previous year’s income, the House will find a number of Clauses grouped in Part 4, along with this change. I admit that the wording of these Clauses is in some cases extremely intricate, and hon. Members will no doubt be anxious in Committee to know exactly what is the meaning of them. What is being done is this: There are categories of income which are first of all transferred from Schedule A to Schedule D. The most important of them are profits derived from mines, railways, gas works, docks and similar undertakings. This transfer from one schedule to another is not only a formal change of classification. It is more than that. There are many varieties of method in assessing Income Tax under these schedules. Some are already based upon the profits of the previous year; some are based on an average of the years; some are based on an average of seven years; and in one case, if not more, they are based on an average over an unfixed period, which is left to the discretion of the Commissioners of Income Tax. Therefore, in order to carry out a great scheme of simplification, these various categories are first of all to be transferred to Schedule D, in order that all that confused medley may be swept away, and when they are grouped together under Schedule D they may then all be based on the profits of the previous year.
Accompanying this change, other Clauses, which may at first puzzle some hon. Members, are necessary, because the transition from one system to the

359other may involve in certain cases exceptional hardship, which will have to be dealt with for that transition period, and there are certain contingencies which may arise in the course of business, when the change takes place, for which provision has to be made. All the Clauses which are grouped in Part 4 of the Bill are for that purpose. Passing from Income Tax, there is one other provision of the Bill which lays down a certain landmark in the road which we are slowly travelling since the War. Five years ago the Excess Profits Duty was repealed. Although the tax was no longer in existence, old assessments have been kept open up to the present time, and large sums of money have been brought in through assessments which were standing over. But in the Finance Act of 1921, which left the door open for these assessments to be revised, the door was left open quite indefinitely, the words being that they were to continue open “until Parliament otherwise determines.” As my right hon. Friend said in opening the Budget, it has now been decided that sufficient time has passed and sufficient opportunities have been given on the one side and on the other, for dealing with these assessments which were overdue, and we have decided that that door is now to be closed and no further investigation on one side or the other will be allowed— with one exception only. If a case should come to light in which there was either positive fraud or wilful default on the part of a taxpayer, it is obviously right that this Bill should not operate as an act of oblivion and that the right of the Crown in such cases should be kept open.
These appear to me to be, in the broadest possible outline, the main characteristics of the Bill which the Government now ask the House to read a second time. Like all modern Finance Bills, it contains, of course, a very great mass of intricate detail which will have to be considered, debated and examined when the Bill goes into Committee. That mass of detail reflects the great and growing complexity of the business life of a great industrial community like ours. Hon. Members will no doubt scrutinise the whole of the Bill at the proper time, and, I dare say, many valuable suggestions may be made with a view to improving the Bill as it stands.

360So far as concerns the general scheme of taxation as laid down in this Bill for raising the revenue necessary For the year, I do not think, speaking of it as a whole, that the House of Commons is likely to refuse to give the Bill a Second Reading and thus take upon itself the responsibility of rejecting the whole of the proposals of the Government for dealing with the national finances in the present year.

883″>Mr. HARDIE: It would seem that Government after Government come along with new ideas on the subject of taxation and in the present Finance Bill we have got down to what is called the gambling tax. How much better it would have been had the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who knows the subject well, brought in proposals dealing with the taxation of land values. The city of Glasgow suffers severely to-day because in every improvement which it desires to make, values created by the presence and increase of population find their way through extortionate prices into the hands of a few unscrupulous landlords. This means that the city of Glasgow is held up in every improvement it seeks to make by a handful of men. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer held other views, he made a powerful speech which is known as the Manchester speech, in relation to land values, in which he described in detail what was meant by the taxation of land values. He did not leave anything out of consideration; he dealt with the subject thoroughly and he showed not only the justice, but the great national need of getting back some of the income stolen from the industry of this country. Instead of a piffling duty on betting it would have been better had the right hon. Gentleman considered a tax of this kind. But a Tory Government will tax anything except what they regard as their own sacred holding, the land. They say, “You can tax anything else but do not touch the land” and yet the land is the basis upon which every generation depends for the things on which it lives.
I wish to draw attention to what may seem a small thing, but the Budget is made up of small things. If we could stop all the small thefts that are going on we could build up our national finances on a sounder basis. I refer to the present which is made every year to

361the distillers of this country, in the rebate on industrial spirit of 5d. per gallon. That is part of the swindle which was done under the 1880 Spirit Act, because when that Act said “per gallon,” it did not specify per gallon of “pure spirit’ or “industrial spirit” and when we come down to the facts, we find that it is not 5d. on each gallon of spirits, because almost 50 per cent. of the liquid on which the 5d. rebate is allowed consists of water, and it works out actually at something like 9¼d. per gallon of spirit. At present because of the Cabinet system of government, it is impossible in this House to get down to working details of this kind in regard to any industry. Since 1880 there has been going on a system which prevents the continuous working of the plant engaged in producing this spirit. This system not only prevents greater production but prevents the employment of more men. Yet all the time we continue the stupid practice of paying a rebate on this article.
Why the great Tory minds on the Front Bench, those who are always talking about reconstruction and about getting more work out of the working people, should go on blindly with a system which prevents machinery working to its proper capacity passes my comprehension. I think it must be because the average politician who sits on the Front Bench does not get down to the details of industry. They always talk about industry in the clouds. Their artistic instinct is at its best in outlining the clouds and not in giving the details. Under the system to which I refer, we are making a yearly present to the distillers of this country of hundreds of thousands of pounds, while, at the same time, we are preventing the increased production of the article in question. I could understand putting a tax on the importation of the same article from other countries if it was to increase production in this country, but we do not do anything of the kind. We put l0d. on what is brought in and we give 9¼d. to the distiller. That is not even good finance and it is simply due to the ignorance of the people who are dealing with the subject that the system continues.
At the present time plant of this kind has to be stopped periodically in order to get what are called the measurements for taxation purposes. Our taxation laws

362take it for granted that there is no honest person in the British Isles. They treat everybody as being dishonest and therefore, we cannot trust any manufacturer to give a true account of what he is doing. Accordingly we shut down plant of this kind for four days out of the seven when we could go on keeping it at work and keeping men employed and producing something. I know the indifference of Chancellers of the Exchequer and other Front Benchers to these basic details, but they are the things which really matter. These are the holes in the dam through which the wealth of the country is running out. I brought this matter up before in the House and I tried to get previous Governments to deal with the question but I found that details did not appear to matter. The possibilities of accomplishing something are trampled under foot simply because the subject does not come within the purview of those who talk in flowery language about industrial reconstruction.
This nation will never do anything else but make huge mistakes unless we get down to the things which are at the basis of industry, unless we have the knowledge of how things are done and until we learn how to stop the damage which is being done. The continuous working of this plant in distilleries would mean more work and more wages. Two years ago, when the Government refused to recognise this industry, an American plant was brought into this country and put up at Hull. The only function of that plant was to generate power alcohol. The usual thing has happened. Here in Parliament this matter had been explained time after time by myself, and others who understand it, and what has been the result? Instead of the subject being taken up, instead of this being made a basic industry, this American plant is brought into the country. They immediately come into competition with the distillers, and the D.C.L. of Edinburgh step in and buy out at a ransom price to get the full monopoly and control of this industrial alcohol plant. Now they have the monopoly rights for Australia.
I do not want the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself to go into the distilleries and breweries, but I want him to send someone there who understands the subject. He has the men in his Depart-

363ment who could be sent out in order to get something done. The question of the production of this power has been thrashed out here in a House just as crowded as the present one, but there was always someone in the Gallery who was interested in the matter. Here is an opportunity to have a real industry not based on the expenditure of money. All that is asked is that you shall in your Regulations give power to allow of the continuous working of this plant instead of the present intermittent working which is rendered necessary by the taking of measurements for taxation. I know that we cannot trust many people. We must have an army of chemists going about to see that our food is not poisoned because someone or other wants a halfpenny extra profit. That is the result of the commercial system. It breeds dishonesty so that even in the case of infants’ food we have to employ specialists to see that the children are not poisoned. But surely we can trust the manufacturers to some extent, and even if it was necessary to put on more men to watch the manufacturers, it would be worth while in the interests of the industry of the British nation to begin to sit up and take notice of these things. This is only one little thing that I am dealing with, and we have done nothing with it since 1880.
Here we are, a nation using millions and millions of gallons of petrol, and it is only now that we are getting a Petroleum Bill. It came in last Session, when I objected to it, and it is now in the other House. I objected to it because it was only an owners’ Bill, and did nothing but provide good things for those who own and sell petrol. When it comes back to this House, I shall want to have it further amended. As I was saying, 1880 is our last attempt to deal with this spirit industry, and what is the use of men claiming to be great politicians, or great nationalists, or great patriots, if they only smile and push us off when we want them to get down to details 1 I do not expect a man on the Front Bench—that is where I quarrel with the Cabinet system—to know every detail, but the system prevents each of those who know the conditions from getting right down to the matter. In the three years during which I have been here, I have brought this

364question up every year, and I have always been fobbed off with some kind of statement to the effect that it would be looked into, and then nothing else has happened. I want this suggestion of mine to be looked into thoroughly, because you would do far more with this than you can with a gambling tax, and you would do more than you would with either if you had a Land Values Tax. Take the basis of the rum-running trade in America. If you tightened up now even those places that are making only the quantity that is necessary for the rum-running people, you would not only employ more men, obtain greater revenue, and make it impossible for anybody else to compete with this country in industrial alcohol, but you would have a full control nationally, if you took your courage in both hands now and took the advice of one who knows.

884″>Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and, 40 Members being present

885″>Lieut.-Colonel GAULT: It is not my intention to take up more than a very few minutes of the time of the House, but I feel that, as a country Member, I should like to add my congratulations to the many which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already received, not only upon so successfully balancing his Budget but more especially upon the Clauses of the Finance Bill dealing with Imperial Preference, which, I feel, will be a very real legislative contribution to the strengthening of Empire ties and to the consolidation of Imperial commerce. As we all know, it is only under conditions of peace and stability that trade can flourish and expand, and I feel that, as a result of the 10 years of guaranteed Imperial Preference, those who are responsible for our business activities and enterprises will be given that necessary assurance upon which they can carry on business negotiations, which can only accrue to the advantage of our trade and industry, whether it be in the factory or on the land, throughout the component parts of the British Commonwealth.
I must frankly admit that it is, however, with some misgiving that I observe, under Clause 41, that the Chancellor has appropriated some £7,000,000 from the Road Fund. This, in the present critical condition of national finance, may be a not unwise decision, but I sincerely hope

365that, if that condition improves, the right hon. Gentleman may see his way clear to allow the Road Fund to be utilised for the purpose for which it was originally intended, and so relieve the ratepayer from the very heavy burden which he has now got to carry in connection with the maintenance and upkeep of our roads. There are to-day some £46,000,000 a year required for the maintenance of our principal roads, and another £6,000,000 for our secondary roads, and I think last year the Road Fund amounted to a little less than a third of that amount. On the assumption that “wheels should maintain the roads which are built to support them,’ it would seem fair to argue that the Road Fund should be kept and maintained for the purpose of the building f our roads until such time as it fully meets our financial requirements in this respect. This, I think, is more fully reasonable when one takes into consideration that some 96 per cent, of the traffic to-day is of the petrol-driven vehicle type. I believe I am expressing the opinion of a very large number of my constituents, many of whom are farmers owning their own land, and smallholders—and they do not all own motor cars—when I express the hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his wisdom, when times improve may be able to allow the Road Fund to be used in the future for the purpose for which it was originally intended.

886″>Mr. HAMMERSLEY: I intervene in this Debate to express my pleasure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought fit to retain substantially unaltered those taxes on silk and artificial silk which he introduced last year, and which we know particularly as the Silk Duties. In the Bill now before the House, in Clause 5, it is proposed to make various minor emendations of the Silk Duties, but there is no proposal to make any vital alteration. Probably the most contentious part of last year’s Budget was that part which dealt with the imposition of taxes on silk and artificial silk. There was a great storm of protest throughout many parts of the country, and in this House amongst the Opposition parties, who were divided in so many things, there was unanimity in forecasting failure for the working of these duties. It was said that these taxes would be a threat to the new and growing trade in artificial silk,

366that they would be an unnecessary burden on the finery of poor working-class girls, that they would be a blow to the great textile trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and that they would be an imposition which would cost more to collect than the revenue which it was hoped to obtain from them. In a sentence, they were described by the Opposition as taxes which were bad in principle and which would prove even worse in practice.
It is, perhaps, only fair to say that a great deal of this opposition was aggravated by the necessity which arose of having, together with the tax on natural silk, a tax on artificial silk. In many parts of the House there were people who thought that natural silk, as a luxury material, was a proper vehicle whereby we could introduce taxation, but those people who confined their criticism to an endeavour to separate artificial silk from real silk could have had very little know-ledge of the real properties of the fibre. It is, practically speaking, impossible for anybody other than an expert to discriminate in the made-up material between artificial silk and real silk, and to attempt to tax real silk without taxing artificial silk would have been to cause a, blow unfairly and unjustly, which might have meant almost a death-blow, to the real manufacturing silk industry. Since that time, we have had the opportunity of observing the working of these taxes, and the period we have had in which to observe is sufficiently long for us to notice definite indications, though it is not quite long enough for us to draw absolutely final and definite conclusions. I would like to state that no reliable conclusion can be obtained by comparing the figures for last year with the figures for the previous year, because in the first quarter of last year the taxes were not imposed, and in the second quarter of that year there was a distinct hiatus between the proposal to introduce the taxes and the taxes themselves being definitely imposed as a matter of law, and during that hiatus there was a very large amount of dumping of artificial silk into this country from the Continent.
Probably the most noticeable effect of the working of these taxes has been the diminution of the importation of artificial silk into this country, particularly from Italy. In the first half of 1925

367we imported from Italy into this country approximately 4,500,000 lbs. weight of artificial silk, and in the second half of 1925 we imported less than 500,000 lbs. weight of artificial silk. Side by side with this decrease in imports, we have an increase in exports. Prior to the imposition of these duties, it was a fact that the imports of artificial silk into this country—and by that I refer not only to artificial silk yarn but to artificial silk thread and to manufactured goods therefrom—showed an excess over exports, but now we observe precisely the opposite effect. Now we have got an increase of exports over imports, and I would particularly draw the attention of the House to this fact, that during the whole of this period the natural increase in the consumption of British natural and artificial silk has been maintained, and to-day the consumption per head in this country of artificial silk is approximately twice as much as that of any other country in the world, the United States of America not excepted.
8.0 P.M.
So we can observe an increase in production which has grown from 24,000,000 lbs. in 1924 to 30,000,000 lbs. in 1925—an alteration from an unfavourable balance of trade in this commodity to a favourable balance of trade, and, side by side with that, we have the setting-up of new mills for the making of artificial silk. Therefore, when we come to consider this threatened new trade of the manufacture of artificial silk in this country, we find precisely the opposite has taken place. Twelve new companies have been started in which artificial silk is to be made. It is quite true that thus far their production has not materially added to the amount made in this country, but in course of time they will no doubt materially affect the quantity this country makes. In connection with this matter, I would particularly draw attention to the fact that one should not forget that with the tariff walls which are raised against the exportation of this country’s products, it has become the policy of some of the largest firms making artificial silk to put up factories in other countries, so that to-day in the United States of America, and in Germany and France, we have concerns which are more or less

368British-controlled, and which are, in fact, though not in name, making what is British artificial silk.
A second objection was that the taxation of these materials would impose an unnecessary and unjustifiable increase in price on the decorative material which is used by the poorer classes of the population. That prophecy has been falsified by the event. There has been no increase in the price of artificial silk. The excise tax has been paid by the British manufacturer from the commencement, and the Customs Duties have been paid by the foreigner. To-day the cheap artificial silk stockings, about which we heard so much during the last Budget Debate, can be bought at as low a price as they could then, and in respect of many of the mixed materials containing artificial silk, you can buy them even more cheaply to-day than you could 12 months ago. But perhaps the mast weighty objection which was brought to bear against the imposition of these silk duties was the protest which came from the great textile trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire. They have been, and continue to be, in a state of great depression, and it is only natural that in respect of artificial silk they should look with the keenest suspicion on any steps which might prevent the exportation of their products, but here, again, we find that the taxes have had precisely the opposite effect. It was stated in this House that the major consumption of artificial silk in this country was not by the textile trades, but by the silk trade of Leek and Macclesfield, and it was estimated that less than 33⅓ per cent, of the total consumption of artificial silk in this country was by the textile trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Now we find that over 50 per cent. of the total consumption of artificial silk is in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and this increased proportion should be recognised as taking place side by side with an increased total consumption.
It is true that the textile trades have been depressed, but of the many sections of these trades—and particularly I speak in reference to the cotton trade—that section which has been the most prosperous, or, shall I say, the least depressed, has been that section which has had to deal with artificial silk. It is only during the last three months that

369figures have been available to show the amount of cotton cloth containing artificial silk which has been exported, but assuming there is no increase throughout the remaining three-quarters of the year, if we take it the figures will be maintained at the figures of the first quarter of the year, we shall have exported about 55,000,000 yards of cloth containing artificial silk. I notice that during the recent application of the hosiery trade for protection, Mr. Hartshorn, the vice-chairman of the National Joint Industrial Council of the Hosiery Trade, and general secretary of the Nottingham and District Hosiery Workers’ Society stated, in reply to the question as to how he accounted for the increased numbers employed, that this was due to the development of the artificial silk trade, and agreed that the Silk Duties had benefited this side of their business. So that, if we consider those trades using artificial silk as a mixture, we find the tendency has been definitely to benefit those trades and not to depress them.
Then we have to consider the objection that this would be a costly method of raising revenue—that the cost of collecting the money would exceed almost the amount which was to be received. With the exception of, perhaps, £200,000, the receipts from the Silk Duty have approximated to the estimated revenue, and I personally feel quite convinced that next year the receipts from this duty will exceed the amount estimated in the Financial Statement. Then it was suggested that scores of officials would have to be employed and new places built in which to house them. None of those forecasts has proved true. My information from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce is that, with the assistance of the Advisory Committee, everything is working to the greatest satisfaction. It is true that at first there were difficulties. Those difficulties have been got over, and I think one might say, without fear of contradiction, that, on the whole, the collection of the Silk Duties has proceeded with less difficulty than was anticipated by even the moat optimistic partisan.
It would be foolish to suggest that by merely putting a tax on silk and artificial silk one was able to stimulate the silk trade and revive the textile trades. That

370is not the contention, but the contention was, that by this particular legislation which was introduced last year, with its system of drawbacks, and its safeguarding of the export trade, you could use the luxury material of silk and the quasi-luxury material of artificial silk as an appropriate medium for the collection of revenue, and, side by side with that action, you have the effect, through the protective tariff of that duty, of an increase of employment, and an alteration from an unfavourable balance of trade in respect of that commodity to a favourable balance of trade. I think there should be no section of this House who would propose to make any substantial alteration in the duty. I should be sorry if anything I have said should be assumed to suggest that I was desirous of these duties being increased. I neither want to see them increased nor substantially altered. They have played their part. They have provided an increase of employment. They have obtained for us an increase of revenue, and they have secured valuable assistance to the textile trades. I trust there will be no effort made by any party in this House to do anything to end or to render ineffective this valuable new weapon in our fiscal machinery.

887″>Mr. BARCLAY-HARVEY: There was one point which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in his Financial Statement which I do not think has received any great attention in the House, but which has caused me, at any rate, as a back bencher, some gratification, and that was his reference to the position of the great railways of this country. One of the reasons for his proposal for dealing with the Road Fund was his recognition of the gross unfairness from which the railways have suffered for years past. I only mention that in passing, as it is right that someone should offer some appreciation of that point. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary was rather pleased with the fact that they have given towards the rural roads a sum of £1,250,000, and I should be churlish if I did not express the appreciation we all feel that we have some more money in the country districts. But I should be betraying my trust as a rural Member if I did not point out, that even if we get the full £1,250,000, that only means

371about £9 per mile for unclassified roads, and I am assured by the local road surveyor in my own district that at least £80 a mile is necessary if the roads are to be kept in proper condition.
Therefore, while we are very grateful for what we have got, we must at least hope that in the future, when the country is in a more prosperous condition, we shall get some more help. But my general point is, that now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken up this question of the Road Fund, I hope he will not stop there, but will pursue it, and take a lively interest in the distribution of the money which is left. I can assure him that one of the things which caused the greatest interest throughout the country during the whole of last autumn and winter was his proposed raid on the Road Fund. Nothing excited a country audience more, or gave greater gratification, than the assurance that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not really intend to raid them to any serious extent, and I think we can congratulate ourselves we have got off so lightly. But I do hope when he comes to hand over the amount of money he intends to hand over to the Ministry of Transport, that he will keep a close eye on what they do. We had a good example this afternoon of the attitude of the Ministry, in the reply which the Minister himself gave to a question, when he said that of course the large towns contribute very largely, or most largely, to the Road Fund, and therefore they must receive some consideration.
Of course the large towns contribute largely to the Road Fund because there are a larger number of motor cars registered there. If they were all taxicabs they would largely confine their activities to the cities and towns, but we find that motor vehicles of every description come out in their multitudes to destroy the roads which people in the country have to keep going, very largely for their benefit. That is just the whole strong position of the rural people: it is because we have to keep up these roads for the benefit of the people living in the towns and cities that we contend that we ought to have more money devoted to the rural roads. I myself think that we might very well ask for a revision of the present system of granting money. The

372percentage system seems to me to have been immediately designed to give money to those who have it. The rich counties, which can afford to spend large sums themselves, are thereby enabled to get large sums from the Central Road Fund. The result is that less money is left for the poorer districts who cannot put forward these claims.
There is another point. Large sums of money are still being spent upon what I claim are mere luxury features in our roads. I have not the slightest objection to seeing corners straightened and roads widened. These, in themselves, are most estimable things to do. The better and the straighter roads we can get the better for all. At the same time all these things we have to pay for, and perhaps the most benefit is reaped by those whom I call speed merchants. I am most heartily in favour of the speed merchant in normal times, for no one enjoys a run along a good straight road more than I do myself; still, I look on this as a luxury at the present time, and one which we cannot afford. By doing this perhaps we leave the poorer districts and the rural roads to get into a lamentable condition, which may, indeed, become little short of disastrous.
In many parts of the country, too, the road rates are far too high. They cannot be made any higher, and the present system of giving grants really encourages extravagance. I believe that in an extra grant of 75 per cent, for first-class roads and 50 per cent, for second-class roads, to be given only when the road rate exceeds a certain amount, or a system whereby grants shall be given, not on account of a high road rate, but by reason of the productivity of a penny rate in the pound coupled with the mileage of the districts, you would get some justice for the poorer districts such as the one I have the honour to represent. I do hope that the Chancellor will keep a close eye on the Minister of Transport and all his doings. I do hope he will attempt to curb unnecessary expenditure on roads, and see if he cannot within the limits he has set himself in relation to the Road Fund, give a larger contribution to the poorer districts.
Having said that I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the way in which he has at least given us a hope, in spite of the fact that he has had to raid our fund, that we shall

373have an increasing amount of deduction in respect of motor cars. To the extent I have indicated I welcome it, while I am sorry that he should have had to make any raid upon the fund at all. Still we realise in these days of financial stringency, as everyone must do, that we are spending as much money as we possibly can on our roads in view of the condition of our finances as a whole. In conclusion, I would say again that I only hope that the large percentage that has already been given may even yet be given to those very seriously hit and necessitous country districts.

888”>Sir EDWARD ILIFFE: There are one or two points to which I should like to direct the attention of the House. The Budget proposals as a whole, I think, commend themselves to the great majority of Members of this House. There are, however, when we are criticising the Bill, certain Clauses which I should wish were not there, and certain other Clauses omitted that I should like to see embodied in the Bill. I should not, however, like it to be thought that I do not very heartily approve of the Budget. I am sorry that the Chancellor has not inserted a Clause in the Bill enabling a deduction to be made for Income Tax purposes in respect of wasting assets. In these days of high taxation it is very necessary to see that Income Tax payers are not asked to pay Income Tax except in respect of profits actually earned. The fact that no allowance is made at the present time for certain classes of wasting assets creates, in my opinion, a sense of unfairness which it is very desirable to remove. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. B. Peto) moved a Clause last year dealing with this matter. In speaking upon it he mentioned that the same point had been brought up year after year when the Finance Bill was introduced. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied to my hon. Friend. I should like to read to the House one or two extracts from the right hon. Gentleman’s speech. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:
“It is quite true, as my hon. Friend has stated, that three successive Chancellors of the Exchequer in three successive years have promised that faithful and sympathetic consideration shall be given to the serious case which he has made, and which he makes not only on his own behalf, but in representation of an important body of public opinion in this country. But none of these Chan-

374cellors of the Exchequer survived to carry out their promise. In the last four years there have been six Chancellors of the Exchequer who sat in the Chair that I now occupy, and I feel sure that the Committee will feel that anything of that kind ought now to come to an end and that we ought to have a continuity. On that basis I can promise my hon. Friend that there shall be the most careful watching of the serious case which he has put forward with the view of seeing whether, if there were the possibility in any future years for giving a further relief of Income Tax, it could be applied in the way suggested.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June, 1925; cols. 454–5, Vol. 185.]
As the Chancellor still occupies that position, I had hoped, in view of that declaration, that a Clause would have been inserted in this Finance Bill to deal with this very important matter. On behalf of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce I had the privilege a short time ago of interviewing the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on this point, and expressed the hope that legislation would be introduced to remove the legitimate grievance of traders being required to pay Income Tax upon profits not made. I trust that even now, if a Clause of this kind is put forward, it will be accepted by the Chancellor. I understand that the only reason for not dealing with this matter at the present time is that the cost to the country would be too great in loss of income. If that be so, it merely accentuates the unfairness of the position, because it seems that a very large number of people indeed are paying Income Tax on profits which are not really profits at all. It may be said that this is the wrong time to deal with a matter of this kind. I submit, however, that no time is a wrong time to put right an injustice.
I am sorry to see that the Chancellor, in his search for new revenue, has not taken the opportunity of putting cooperative trading on a more equitable basis. I am not in the least degree opposed to co-operative trading and would like to see it go ahead, provided it is not being carried on unfairly in competition with the general trade of the country. I do not know whether hon. Members realise that there are 5,000,000 members of co-operative societies, roughly 11 per cent. of our population. In 1911 the membership numbered 2,500,000, which was, roughly, 5 per cent, of the population at that tune; so that the co-

375operative movement is growing very rapidly indeed. In 1924 their retail sales amounted to no less than £175,000,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget statement a few weeks ago, referred to the Royal Commission on Income Tax in 1920, and is adopting certain of their recommendations. That Commission dealt with the question of co-operative societies, and made three recommendations which I would like to read to the House. The first was:
“Any part of the net proceeds which is not actually returned to members as dividend or discount is a profit which should be charged to tax.”
The second was:
“The income derived from invested reserves should, irrespective of the particular mode of investment, be subject to tax.”
The third recommended, in effect, that a co-operative society should be treated exactly as a limited liability company trading in similar circumstances and under similar conditions, and added:
“If our proposals are acted upon, it will be necessary to amend the existing law in so far as it confers special exemption on co-operative societies.”
I think the time has now come when these recommendations should be carried out.
I would like to say one or two words about the Road Fund. I am very glad this Fund will continue to grow as motorists increase in number. On the whole I do not think motorists will unduly quarrel with the decision of the Chancellor to appropriate out of this year’s receipts from motor vehicle taxation the sum of £3,500,000 for general purposes, and I do not think they will quarrel with the proportion it is proposed to divert to general revenue purposes in future years. But this depends, I think, upon motorists having confidence that the proportion is not likely to be increased in the future. I am afraid, after what has happened, that no pledge given by the Government on this particular matter—if they were willing to give a pledge, which I take it they are not—would give motorists that feeling of confidence respecting the future of the Fund which they would like to possess. The transfer of the £7,000,000 from the so-called “surplus Road Fund” is, in my opinion, a “very different matter indeed. Specific promises were made that the

376whole of the money raised from motor vehicle taxation in the past should be used for road purposes, and unless there are extenuating circumstances, I feel it is somewhat difficult to justify the action of the Chancellor on moral grounds. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who spoke a few moments ago, said that a special grant of more than £8,000,000 was made direct to the Road Fund in the year 1920, and he emphasised the point that that was a larger sum than it was now proposed to divert from the Fund, evidently feeling that here was a complete justification for the Chancellor’s proposals. A few days ago, I put a question to the Minister of Transport on this particular matter, and was informed that the grant of £8,250,000 was given with the dual object of reconditioning the roads of the country after the War and of finding employment for ex-service men on demobilisation.
In the same reply I was informed that revenue was diverted from the Road Fund to the Exchequer during the War to the amount of, approximately, £7,233,000, so that this special grant of £8,250,000 was really made for the purpose of adjusting the previous raids upon the Road Fund, and it is quite obvious, therefore, that one cannot quote that same sum of £8,250,000 in justification of the present transfer of money from the Road Fund. If it is possible to justify this transfer on moral grounds—and I hope it is, because I am very anxious that I should never have any reason to doubt the rectitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in these matters—I still feel that it is very difficult to justify this transfer on grounds of equity. In the past it has been the practice when any highway authority applied for a grant towards the construction of a new road that the Minister has declined to sanction the grant unless the amount were available out of the current year’s revenue. As, in many cases, it takes three or four years to carry out a piece of new road work after the grant has been made, the money has necessarily to be put on one side ready for the time when payment is required. That is the real origin of the so-called “Surplus Fund,” and I am informed that every penny of that Fund has been earmarked already for grants which have been sanctioned.
This view is confirmed, to some extent, by the fact that in recent years the

377Minister of Transport has refused grants for necessary road improvements on the ground of lack of funds, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking on the Economy Bill I thought it was a little inconsistent for him to point out that the Road Fund was growing so rapidly that the Minister of Transport found it impossible to spend the money as quickly as it was being collected, while at the same time the Minister of Transport was refusing grants for necessary road construction because of lack of funds. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain this little inconsistency during the course of this Debate. There are one or two other points in connection with road finance to which I would like to direct attention, but I think, possibly, it would be more suitable to deal with them on the Committee stage.
I want to say a word or two about the proposed abolition of the three years’ average for Income Tax. I happen to be chairman of the Finance and Taxation Committee of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, and I am speaking on behalf of that body. At the annual meeting in April last a proposal was made by the London Chamber of Commerce that the association as an association should advocate the abolition of the three years’ average. The question was debated at some length and the proposal was defeated, so that it can be taken that it is the considered view of the commercial community that they prefer the retention of the three years’ average. I am bound, however, to state that the official spokesman who represented the association, and who placed the views of the association before the Income Tax Commission, spoke in favour of the substitution of one year for three years.
It is quite clear that we live in far too complicated an age and the step which is now contemplated will make for simplicity. The danger of the proposed alteration is, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that the averaging of profits for Income Tax purposes makes for stabilisation in Income Tax receipts and that will not be the case when the averaging is done away with. It is however clear that the expenditure of the country is more or less stable while the revenue varies considerably with good

378and bad trade. The effect of this proposed change would be that in times of depression the Chancellor of the day may find it necessary to increase the rate of the Income Tax at a time when such an increase will add to the prevailing depression, and he will be able to reduce the tax in times when trade is good and when a reduction is not so imperative. If, however, the Government itself could form a sort of Income Tax pool and only take for the purposes of current year’s revenue the average amount produced in Income Tax and Super-tax during the three preceding years then, we should have all the advantages which are derived from the one year’s system and we should suffer few of the corresponding disadvantages. There are certain further disadvantages which at the proper time we as an association shall take an opportunity of asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider. I think those are the main points to which I would like to ask the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

889″>Mr. RILEY: The speech to which we have just listened as well as the speech which preceded it, if they cannot be described as pæons of praise they have at least expressed a general approval of the Budget. I think it is now time that a note of criticism should be sounded. I want to criticise the Budget from two points of view and I express my regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not taken the advantage, particularly in view of the present financial situation, of tapping new and additional sources of revenue. I regret that he has not taken advantage of the present situation to announce that long deferred reform in regard to the taxation of land values. I think we were entitled to expect from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of his past record, that he would at least have risen to the occasion, and being bold and courageous, and in the light of his speeches in the past on this subject, I should have thought that he would have tried to carry out his often expressed desire with regard to utilising the enormous values of land for national purposes.
That course was all the more desirable because he has been reduced to such great straits that he has had to scrape together one of two millions here and there by putting his hands into funds belonging

379to the great mass of working people. By such a policy he has alienated millions of electors at a time when he was in a position to tax some 3,000 landowners without any great danger to his political fortunes. By neglecting some measure dealing with the taxation of land values he has fallen into the error that one would not have expected the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to have fallen into, that is of maintaining the historic reputation of the stupidity of the Conservative party. He has allowed himself to carry on that historic role of being so perfectly stupid, and he is now dealing only with small things. All the time the land of the landlords is rising in value in our towns as a direct result of public expenditure, and from this source the right hon. Gentleman might have got large amounts of revenue without any danger to the electoral situation. It is all the more desirable that he should have included in this Budget a provision for taxation of land values, in view of the enormous expenditure which is being incurred in connection with the Road Fund. Here there is a sum of anything up to £20,000,000, which is being taken away from the users of motors, and the great bulk of it is being spent upon the roads of the country, every penny of which adds value to the landlords’ land. In every road upon which this money is being spent, the land on either side rises in value and becomes more eligible.
It is not only in the matter of the expenditure out of the Road Fund that this is the case, but there is the same justification in regard to the expenditure of public money in many other ways which has the effect of increasing land value. Some of our recent legislation has relieved the occupiers of land of the rates to a large extent, and this amounted in 1923 to £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, and since 1896 quite £100,000,000 must have been spent in this way. To that extent there has been an equivalent rise of land values owing to that policy. Even within the present Session there was foreshadowed in the King’s Speech, as hon. Members will recollect, a new agricultural development, in connection with which we are being asked to commit ourselves to another £1,000,000, to assist the drainage of agricultural land. Every penny of that amount will add to the value of the land-

380lords’ land, while they are making no contribution at all. I think it is very regrettable, both from the point of view of policy and from the point of view of equity, that the Chancellor should not have taken the opportunity to do something in the way of taxing land values.
There is another criticism that I want to make with regard to the Budget, and that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of his great financial closeness and of the needs of the revenue and of the Government, should not have taken this opportunity of re-imposing upon the people who are in a position to pay Super-tax at least the £10,000,000 of which he relieved them last year. I suggest that it would have been far more equitable to do that than to dip his hand into the Health Insurance Fund and take £2,800,000 from that, or to deplete the Unemployment Fund, in which thousands of unemployed men and women are concerned. I submit that it would have been far more equitable to look for increased revenue by re-imposing an amount equal to the relief that was given last year to those who are fortunate enough to be in the position of paying Super-tax.
I want to call the attention of the House to some rather significant figures which were given to me by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in reply to a question which I put to him only a few days ago. On the 6th May I asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the following question:
“If he can state the total amounts upon which Super-tax was levied for the years 1923–24, 1924–25, and 1925–26; the amounts received in Super-tax; and the number of persons paying Super-tax for each of the years, respectively?”
The reply was that in the year 1923–24 there were 91,000 persons who paid Super-tax, who in that year returned their income for Super-tax at £522,000,000. In 1924–25 there were 90,000 persons who paid Super-tax, and they returned their income in that year for Super-tax at £516,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman was unable to give me the number of persons in 1925–26, but he gave the result of the tax, and it is very remarkable, because it shows a constantly rising amount derivable from Super-tax. The amount received in 1923–24 from Super-tax payers was £60,640,000, in 1924–25 £62,000,000, and in 1925–26 £68,510,000. I do not know whether I

381am correct in saying that this last figure is to be taken in conjunction with the fact that that is the year in which there was a relief of £10,000,000, or some part of that amount, given to the Super-tax payers. The striking feature of these figures lies in the comparison with the fact that 1,100,000 miners were working before the stoppage for 12 months, and the total of their wages for 12 months was only £142,000,000, whereas here we have 91,000 persons whose incomes bring them in £522,000,000. Surely, it would have been more equitable if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, “There is the source from which additional revenue should come.” That would have been far more equitable than an Economy Measure which attacks insurance funds and the sick, the helpless, and the unemployed, and I venture to express the hope that, when this Bill is being considered in Committee, the equity of this claim will be seen and some concession made.

890″>Sir HARRY HOPE: We have had comments and suggestions from all parts of the House as regards the various proposals in this Bill, but I think the main feature of the discussion this afternoon and evening has been the almost complete absence of any criticism of the main structure of the Bill. On previous occasions the Finance Bill has been criticised, and attempts have, perhaps, been made to tear it to bits, but this afternoon we have had a very different experience. We have had various suggestions, but nevertheless there has been an entire absence of any sustained criticism of the main principles of the Bill and the Budget. I think that what most arrests public opinion in the country is not so much the various proposals contained in this Bill, as the enormous sum for which we have to budget, and I think that there is very serious concern throughout the country that at the present time we have still to budget for over £800,000,000. It cannot be said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is answerable for that. I know that he has made gallant attempts to keep down expenditure, and, if he had only had the whole-hearted support of this House when he brought forward proposals for reducing expenditure, we might have had a smaller sum to budget for than we have in the present Bill.

382I would like to say a few words upon two of the proposals. The first is as regards the Road Fund. In the country districts which I have the honour to represent, the Road Fund is considered to be of vital importance. We see in those country districts the road assessments increasing by leaps and bounds every year, and we know what a serious effect that has upon country life generally, and upon all rural industries. I am thankful to hear the Financial Secretary to the Treasury say that in this year, 1926–27, we shall get as much, and, in fact, more for the roads than we got in the past year. Therefore, I think that a good deal of the misapprehension and anxiety which was felt in our country districts will be relieved when they know that as much and, in fact, more will be received in the current financial year than was received during the previous year. Of course, however, we always have to bear in mind that motor traffic is increasing every year to a very large extent. Therefore the damage done to the roads and the money required for their maintenance must always be going up every year. What I think would give a good deal of satisfaction to the country districts would be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that this money which he is earmarking for the roads is going to be spent upon the country roads. In recent times we have seen a large sum diverted in other directions. We have, of course, had large sums spent on the Mersey Tunnel. I think the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would do a great deal to satisfy the feeling of apprehension that exists in the country districts if they let it be known that their influence would be used whole-heartedly in the direction of keeping this money which we are to get from motor taxation for the country roads.
I am sure the stabilisation of Imperial Preference will give an enormous amount of satisfaction throughout the country generally, and not only to our people at home, but I think it will give so much confidence amongst our overseas Dominions that we may see a forward step in our trade to those Dominions which will do an enormous amount to give help to our people at home and will do something to remove some of the unemployment under which we are suffering. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on

383the way in which he is framing his Finance Bill this year and I only hope, with the support of the House of Commons, he will be able to pave the way for a smaller sum toeing budgeted in future years.

891″>9.0 P.M.

892″>Mr. STORRY DEANS: I rise to offer a few observations upon the proposals dealing with the Betting Duty. It has been said on high authority that no man can serve God and Mammon, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proved conclusively that it is possible to make enemies of the representatives of both at one step, because we find here mobilised against these proposals both bishops and bookmakers, both ministers of religion and those who habitually back horses, and in fact the most extraordinary opposition, I should think, that has ever been found against one proposal. My own opposition to these taxes is based upon grounds which I believe to be logical. There is used in this Bill the expression “legal or lawful betting.” It it only within very restricted limits that betting is lawful. What one ordinarily understands by a lawful transaction is a transaction which can be enforced in a Court of Law, and betting under our present law cannot be enforced in a Court of Law. It seems to me worse than illogical, highly unreasonable, to say you will tax a transaction to which you will not allow the full force of law. To put it in something like concrete form, suppose my hon. Friend on the other side—I am selecting him merely as an instance—were to write or telephone to a bookmaker, and say: “Put me £100 on Sarsaparilla for the Derby.” As I understand it, the bookmaker would be compelled to pay a duty of £5 upon that debt. But if my hon. Friend said: “No, I will not pay my £100,” the bookmaker, having paid his £5 tax, would not be able to recover the £100 upon which he has paid the tax, because, as these proposals are framed, a bookmaker has to pay upon the bet and not upon the amount he receives. It is a tax upon credit betting, and he has to pay on the amount which his client—I believe they call them clients in imitation of a different profession—says he is willing to bet. It seems to me to be perfectly absurd.

384Is the House really to legalise betting to the full extent? Let it not be forgotten for a moment that betting on horse races is not the only form of gambling transactions. There are gambling transactions carried on by people called bucket-shop keepers. Is anyone in the House prepared to say that that sort of gambling which foolish people carry on with bucket-shop keepers shall be enforced by Court of law? I do not think so. A great many years ago when the original statutes against the recovery of gaming debts were passed, they were passed upon the representation of the Judges of the country, who up to that time had been compelled to enforce gaming contracts, just as they enforce other contracts, because they were made for valuable consideration. The Judges found themselves in the position of being compelled to enforce gaming contracts, sums of money lost at cards, bets of the most ridiculous description, very often made by people who though they were not so inebriated as not quite to know what they were doing, were at any rate so much overcome by liquor that they did things they would not have done in their sober moments, and the Judges at the last made representations, and those responsible for the conduct of the country’s legislation at that time, upon those representations, brought in certain Acts which are known as the Gaming Acts so as to deprive gaming of its legal sanction and to make gaming debts irrecoverable at law.
I cannot understand how it is possible to suggest that upon a transaction which the Courts cannot enforce under the law a tax shall be levied, and it shall be levied neither less nor more whether the man who owes the debt of honour pays it, or whether he does not. I submit that we shall, if we pass this Betting Duty, be driven irresistibly to make gaming debts recoverable in the Courts. Unless we are prepared to do that, this Clause of the Finance Bill ought to be withdrawn. I do not wish to join the forces of the two Oppositions, but I thought it advisable that I should put forward what I consider to be logical and reasonable grounds, and I suggest that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been told that certain forms of betting are legal he has been entirely misinformed. All that they can have meant by that was that a person

385cannot be punished in a Criminal Court for having betted under these circumstances. I thank the House for having given me this opportunity of putting my point of view. I thought it was right that someone should make this point of view absolutely clear.

893″>Sir HENRY SLESSER: I should like, as far as I understand the point, to agree with and confirm what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Storry Deans) has said in regard to the legal position under the proposed Betting Duty. Clause 15 (2) provides that:
“Nothing in this part of the Act shall operate so as to render lawful any betting.”
On that, as on some other subjects which have recently been under discussion, there has been a very considerable confusion of mind between a criminal offence, on the one hand, and its not being enforceable in a Court of Law civilly on the other. It is that confusion which I thought was evident in the first speech which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter. Here we are dealing with this question, and yet it is a fact that the great majority of bets as defined in this Bill would not be civilly recoverable in a Court of Law, although they are the subject-matter of a duty in this proposal. I may be speaking for myself, but I do not quite agree with the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman) when he said that the moral aspect of this case had not to be considered. I cannot understand people when they say that, as gambling is to be limited to bets, there is no moral question at stake. I could understand a very strong argument being made for abolishing all gambling, but the fact that there is gambling possible by these transactions does not make this class of transaction a thing in itself to be encouraged. If we put a duty on this particular kind of financial adventure, one cannot afterwards turn round and say this is the kind of thing which ought to be discouraged by the State. The fact that there are many transactions which are now lawful which are gambling transactions, on the Stock Exchange and elsewhere, and the fact that these transactions are not covered by this Bill, does not do away with the argument that betting is a sort of thing that the State

386does not wish to encourage. Reference has been made to the opinion of the bishops and other spiritual authorities on this matter. Their views are entitled to consideration as much as those who are interested in the turf. The view which the bishops have expressed is the correct view. The party to which I belong is opposed, for one reason or another, to this duty, and because I think this duty will inevitably involve the legalising of all betting, I am very glad to oppose it.
May I say a few words on a subject where I am very happy to be able to congratulate the Government. I refer to Clause 8 of the Bill which recognises, I think for the first time in fiscal legislation, the inestimable value of works of art and antiquity imported into this country. This Clause testifies to the æsthetic character of the Government and shows a very great advance in the appreciation of the value of these ancient things. It is provided by this Clause that we shall be in this happy position that people will be able to import into this country works of art and antiquities generally without any danger of Customs being imposed upon them. I think I shall not be straying out of the rules of order and I shall not be advocating any fiscal heresy when I say that I hope this will be accompanied later by an export duty on works of art which are taken out of this country to America. Apart from the more sordid question of finance, I think a tariff might be used to protect works of art from exportation and to encourage their importation. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury seems to indicate assent, I hope that next year fiscal means will be devised to prevent priceless works of art from being destroyed and taken out of this country. Clause 8 marks a great cultural advance on the part of the State, the Government and the Treasury which shows that they recognise the value of getting as many beautiful and ancient objects into this realm as we can, and keeping as many as we can. I hope that this Clause is the beginning of further legislation for the protection of works of beauty and that next year the Government will sympathetically entertain proposals for a still greater advance in this direction.

894″>Sir WALTER de FRECE: I should like to make a few criticisms of the Bill. I join in the congratulations to the Chan-

387cellor of the Exchequer, with the reservation that I regret to note that he has not been able to redeem a promise frequently made from the Government Bench to abolish the Entertainment Duty. That duty was a War measure, adopted in a time of emergency, and over and over again we have been told that it would be withdrawn. I realize and the entertainment industry realizes that money is necessary, and that we must live another year in hope, even though we may die in despair.
With regard to the proposal for a 5 per cent, duty on betting, I do not approach the subject from the moral or the legal point of view, which have been well ventilated. I approach it from the point of view of the practicability of the suggestions made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I agree that the legal position is not changed; that the legal position of betting remains exactly where it did, but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have really intended to eradicate betting altogether they could not have done much better than by the system which the Chancellor proposes. The number of people who bet in this country is legion, and it is as difficult to eradicate betting as it would be to introduce prohibition. It is in human nature, and especially, I think, in British human nature, to gamble and bet, and if any Measure is to be brought in at all, I think one should thoroughly explore the field before deciding what form the duty should take.
I see no difference between publicans and bookmakers in respect of the trade or profession they carry on, and if one is licensed there is no reason why the other should not be licensed. I speak as a layman, but as a layman with an extensive and, may I say also, with an expensive experience. Let me give some instances as to how this Betting Duty will work. Hon. Members who race at all will know that occasionally a horse starts at 20 to 1 on. That is to say, that a backer has to lay £20 in order to win £1, and if he has luck enough to find a winner then he owes himself 5s. He loses 5s. although he has backed a winner. Let me give a case which is taken from the account of a firm of bookmakers by a firm of chartered accountants. A man lost £l,310, but invested £8,530 over 226 days, an average

388of £38 per day. The 5 per cent, duty on the turnover, not on his winnings, would be £426 10s. or £l 15s. per day. This client never exceeded £1,350 in his outlay, so the Duty would take 33 per cent, of his capital. It is like this. If a man plays long enough at chemin-de-fer it 13 well known that what is called “the kitty” will take the whole of his capital. The same thing will apply here. Here is another case. A man wins £186 11s. He invests £2,792 over 247 days, an average of about £11 5s. per day. A duty of 5 per cent, is £139 12s., or lls. 3d. per day. In this case the client might be said not to have circulated any new money as he showed a profit from the start (actually he was out of pocket only during the first few days £32), it will be seen that the Duty would absorb 7–10ths of the backer’s profit.
There are innumerable instances in which the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot, to my mind, be carried out with any chance of success. Let me repeat what has already been said by nother hon. Member as to the time this duty is to operate. Hon. Members know that hurdle racing starts in November. Bookmakers as a rule do not want to bet at all on what is called “over the sticks.” It is not a profitable game, and they would rather not bet at all. I am afraid the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not get his £1,500,000 from November to the end of March. At any rate it will not be exceeded in any case. I do not think he will get anything like that sum, for as a matter of fact it will pay bookmakers to close their business during those months. I do not doubt for a moment that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will get his estimate of £6,000,000; but in getting that he will be taking away the capital of the man who backs horses, and eventually betting will stop to a certain extent.
Take my own experience as a small owner of racehorses. In this connection the House must not forget that there is the horse breeding industry in this country, about which little has been said up to the present, but which is really a very big and important industry. Sales are held annually at Doncaster, Newmarket and elsewhere, and very high prices are paid for what are called yearlings. As much as £20,000 has been paid for a yearling. But smaller men like

389myself go there and buy a yearling for £500. He takes the risk of having the horse trained in order to race, and one cannot get his money back unless he is allowed to bet. It is impossible to do it. Keeping horses is a very expensive business. There are training expenses and jockey expenses, which mean a lot of money, and unless you are able to bet you cannot afford to run horses. If this imposition, as I call it. is levied upon me. I shall have to consider retiring from the game. Possibly I shall be better off if I do so, and may be most owners will be better off if they retire, but if that should happen the State will lose money.

895″>Mr. McNEILL: I rather gather that the hon. Member does not agree with the contention that the Duty will encourage betting?

896″>Sir W. de FRECE: No, I do not agree with that at all. I think its effect will be to discourage betting. Backers will lose most of their capital in the course of a few years through the operation of this duty. As the Regulations are framed at present they are absolutely unworkable. Anyone who has been to a big race meeting and watched the operations of the bookmakers will know that the largest bulk of betting takes place two or three minutes before the flag falls, and if a bookmaker has to search through, the bureau, which he will have to carry if he is to have all the tickets that will be necessary, it will be impossible for him to deal with his many customers. The bets may be, first, a shilling each way; the next man may put on £5 each way, and the next man £20 to win. The next man may put on a bet for first, second and third; and how is the bookmaker going to sort out the various tickets? I think the amount of betting will be exceedingly limited. I have heard it said that the bookmaker makes the odds. He does not. It is the weight of public money which makes the odds. The suggestion I have to make is one which I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider. This proposal does not come into operation until November, and there is, therefore, time to thoroughly discuss all sides of the question in this House, and time enough also to bring in a separate Bill in connection with the taxation of betting. My suggestion is that you should institue a register of bookmakers; license

390them. I should propose that a licence duty of £250 be imposed on every bookmaker. It is estimated that there are from 10,000 to 50,000 bookmakers in this country, but I think there are at least 30,000 bookmakers, including street bookmakers, who would be p repared and willing to pay £250.

897″>Mr. BUCHANAN: You do not mean those who are starting a business as bookmaker. You mean the established bookmaker.

898″>Sir W. de FRECE: No, I do not mean that. The suggestion which is implied is that a new man who is just starting would not pay the £250; that he could not afford to pay it. I can give you a case, which is one of many, where a street bookmaker pays, not £250 a year, but £500 a year, £10 per week, to runners and other people in connection with his business. That occurs in many of our manufacturing districts, and if this licence duty of £250 was imposed it could be easily collected by the Post Office. A man could walk in and ask for a licence, pay his £250, and whether he makes a success of his business or not does not matter to the Government. In this way the Government would get their £6,000,000 easily, and it would at the same time do away with the reflection, which I believe is quite right, about class distinction. The street bookmaker would have the same opportunity to buy his licence as the man who has palatial offices. I venture to suggest to the Chancellor that he might take that into consideration. Racing is a Valuable asset to the country at the present time. I have already remarked on the value of the horse-breeding industry in this country. It would be a thousand pities if that business were interfered with. If there is to be taxation of any kind, let us at least tax betting in the best possible way so as to obtain the revenue the Chancellor expects at present without the difficulties which will arise under the present proposals, so that betting will prosper and not, as I am afraid, decrease under the present proposals.

899″>Captain CROOKSHANK: I feel very tempted to follow the hon. Member for Blackpool (Sir W. de Frece) into the stable and discuss in detail the questions which he has raised. Any tears I might shed because a man who lays a bet at 20 to one on has to pay “five bob” would be

391crocodile tears. The argument against the Betting Duty which seems to me most futile is that by putting a tax on betting you are going to drive the betting from the credit bookmakers on to the streets to the street bookmakers. As far as I can see that would be quite pointless. It could not possibly happen. The odds laid in races, as the hon. Member has just pointed out, are made by the weight of the money and therefore, the odds offered by the street bookmaker will presumably be the same as those offered by all other bookmakers.

900″>Sir W. de FRECE: The street bookmaker does not pay the 5 per cent.

901″>Captain CROOKSHANK: I know he does not. That would only be to the advantage of the street bookmaker and would not interfere with the odds. I do not see why it should drive anybody to bet on the streets. I should like, however, to get back to the general discussion on the Finance Bill. The Financial Secretary pointed out that the great pillars of taxation remain in this Bill as they were, and that there was no change in the Income Tax, the Death Duties, and so on. As one reads the Bill, there seems to me to be four new principles which have emerged. I would like to touch on them very briefly, especially the first which has not been mentioned at all. That is a very new principle, and it is contained in Clause 6, by which powers are taken so that when a duty is about to be imposed it is possible to collect that duty from the date on which the Resolution was passed. That will meet with the general approval of the House as being a very satisfactory Clause. Last year we were all struck by the tremendous importation of motor cars which were brought in in front of the Terrace, and I am sure it is due to the representations of many hon. Members that the Government have seen fit to introduce this Clause. It is a small Clause, but one which is going to be of Very great value and one which will certainly save us a great deal when such duties have to be imposed whether for safeguarding purposes or for any other reason.
The second new principle has already been touched upon and that is contained in Clause 7, the stabilization of the Imperial Preference duties. After the very admirable maiden speech of the hon.

392and gallant Member for Dumbarton (Lieut.-Colonel Thom), it is not necessary for me to say anything further about that. I did take a note of the observation of the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) who rather scoffed at the proposal that we should attempt to bind our successors. I am sure the House is not attempting to do anything of the sort. We entirely agree with his remarks that we must “look on every financial proposal is it comes year by year.” He ought to take up the same attitude in discussing the Road Fund. He should look at it as it comes up in all the circumstances of the case this year and these Imperial Preference Resolutions will similarly be considered by fresh Parliaments as the opportunity arises. By putting a Clause of this kind into the Finance Bill, we hope to make an obstacle to future Parliaments in order that when and if they wish to reverse that decision, they will definitely have to do something and the Government will not be able to let it drop by administrative action. To that extent at any rate, it is a certain safeguard and a certain guarantee to the Colonies and Dominions who have for so long pressed upon us their need for both men and markets.
The third new principle is, of course, the principle of the Betting Tax. The legal point has been laid down in Clause 15, Sub-section (2), where it definitely states that nothing arising out of this Bill makes anything lawful which was not lawful before. That seems to me to clear up the legal aspect of the case, as far as one possibly can. The Chancellor dealt with the moral aspect in his Budget speech in a manner which commended itself to the majority of the House. As one gets the complaints from numerous bodies about the imposition of the Betting Duty, one cannot help thinking how strange it is that it is practically always those who oppose the duty who are the same people, or, rather, the same bodies, who advocate an increased duty on beer and spirits in order to diminish their consumption. Where can be the logic of that position? If you grant that a doubled or trebled tax on beer and spirits is going to stop their consumption, it seems to me that the same sort of thing must happen if you pile a tax on betting, and that you will very soon abolish it. That is, presume-

393ably, what these bodies who take a high moral line would like to see come about. I do not dispute that if you had a perfect world it would be better to abolish betting altogether. Unfortunately, one has got to face facts as they are, and one of the instincts of human nature is to “play,” as the American expression for betting goes, but if you play, you should at any rate play within your means When you put a duty on it, it is like putting a duty on any other entertainment, except that sometimes you do not get so much amusement. After all, however, the Betting Tax is much more suitable for discussion in the Committee stage.
The fourth new principle is perhaps the most important of all, and that is the definite adoption of the system of assessing Income Tax on one year instead of three years. That is a thing which is going to make a difference to our industry, our commerce and our financial interests. A tax on betting is not going to affect them or to affect our position in the world, but any relief given to industry, and I think that that will be a relief, is going to affect our position very much. I would like to ask the Chancellor if he will not consider this particular point. During the next year there is going to be a considerable investigation and discussion on the whole question of the manner of raising the Income Tax. I would like to extend their inquiries a little into the incidence of it. In December I had the temerity to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the loss to the revenue if Income Tax was remitted on all incomes under £300 a year. The reply was that, as far as could be judged, the loss would be something like £3,000,000, but that the saving to the Inland Revenue administratively would not be very great.
With that reply I would like to link up an observation made by the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). He stated—although the Financial Secretary whittled the statement down, it did not disappear—that the loss in collection was somewhere between £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 a year. Those are the two facts which I put before the House. I would like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider very seriously the question of raising the limit for Income Tax, partly because the

394tax does weigh very hardly upon people, more especially working people, whose incomes come under the £250, or £300 a year, but also from the point of view of industry to this extent—that any firm which employs a great number of hands is by the Finance Act of last year—an enactment which this year is to be made permanent—twice in every year to render a return of the names and places of residence, and the wages for each half year of every weekly wage-earner employed by way of manual labour, whose wages, including overtime, bonuses, and other extra earnings, amount to £80 or upwards. Anyone concerned with any big firm knows that the mere fact of keeping the cards and the information in that detail week by week for every person employed, represents a very considerable clerical cost which is quite unnecessary, because in these days the number of workpeople, with wives and children, who have to pay Income Tax, is extraordinarily small compared with the bother of collecting the information on the part of a firm and compared with the bother for the Inland Revenue.
If you take a medium-sized town, like that I have the honour to represent, you find a very large tax office which has to deal with all these cases, and in thousands of them they never begin to see any sign of getting anything from it. Every Income Tax office is graded according to its size. Therefore there is always an inducement to keep tip the size of any office. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in his investigations he should see whether he could not raise the minimum to £250 for unmarried people. In the case of the unmarried one might assume that they are putting by money in order to be able to afford matrimony at a later stage, and, therefore, they are really saving for that perhaps rather rainy day. If the right hon. Gentleman would investigate that matter, and see whether he can balance it against what he can get by more accurate collection, the possibility of which has been indicated, then there would be no net loss to the revenue and a very great help would be given to vast masses of the wage-earners, and a very considerable relief in the way of clerical expenses to every large employer of labour.

395Those are the only points which I wish to mention. We must congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the success of his Budget of last year. When all is said and done the extraordinary buoyancy of the Income Tax proves up to the hilt the Chancellor’s wisdom in having reduced the rate of collection last year. That was what happened in the United States. The United States found that the rate of Income Tax was too high. They reduced the rate, and got in an. enormous revenue. To people like myself, who do not understand finance at all, it is certainly very mysterious. But it is on the same lines as what happens in agriculture, under the “law of diminishing returns.” There does come a particular moment when it is no good putting more into the land, for it will not yield beyond a certain given point, and what you put in after that is so much waste. The same thing occurs rather mysteriously in connection with the Income Tax. The fact that there was such an enormous receipt under that heading this year proves, so far as anything can be proved, the wisdom of that point of view.
We hope that before the year is over the Treasury will take into very careful consideration another question which arises on every Finance Bill. That is the question of local and national expenditure and their relation the one to the other. A very lucid exposition of this subject was given yesterday in a speech by the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Captain MacMillan), a speech which I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will read, because the hon. and gallant Member raised a point which must be in the minds of very many people—the illogical nature of the incidence of the two kinds of taxation, rates and taxes. Many of the differences are due, no doubt, to historical reasons, but on the face of it, as the hon. and gallant Member explained, there seem to be no particular reason why some part of education should be paid for in one way and some part in another. Still less does there seem to be, on the face of it or on logical grounds, any reason why one part of the expenditure on police should be paid out of one pocket, and another part out of the other pocket. Any changes in the method of collecting revenue would tend probably to swell the actual Budget

396and Exchequer figures, yet they might at the same time be of very considerable assistance to industry as a whole, because rates are the particularly heavy burden with which any industrial organisation is now faced.
One hopes, therefore, that the Treasury will set up a Committee during the ensuing year to review the whole of the question. Anyhow, I for one feel confident that in a year’s time we shall look back upon this Finance Bill with as much satisfaction as we look back on that of 1925. The wisdom of the financial policy then, the wisdom of getting back to the gold standard, has been completely justified by the fact that at the end of the general strike the pound sterling was not only able to look the dollar in the face, but could stand on tiptoe and look over its head. We feel sure that next year the Chancellor of the Exchequer will in the same way be able to look all his critics in the face and lay before them plans for 1927 which will be as satisfactory as those of 1925 and 1926.

902″>Mr. BROAD: I want to revert to the argument of two legal Members of the House, the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) and an hon. and learned Member opposite. I would not contend with them in legal lore, but I would enter the contest in order to combat their forecasts as to the Betting Duty. It has been stated that, as a result of this duty, it will inevitably, follow that debts incurred on betting will be legally recoverable. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I would not mind undertaking to prophesy that that result will not follow, at all events, in this generation. I cannot see the logic of the argument used. There are some other transactions in connection with which debts are not legally recoverable in this country. I believe it is not possible to sue in a Law Court to recover the amount of a beer score in a public house, but we have a duty on beer and we license the premises in which beer is sold. I think our friends will find that their prophecies will not be fulfilled. An hon. Member, who spoke of the effect which this duty would have on betting, suggested that it would soon absorb all the money of the people who took part in betting and that by this means the evil would be abolished. I think the hon.

397Member carried that argument a little too far. I am not a betting man, but having listened to or read the arguments of the bishops and the bookies on the subject I find them mutually destructive, and I feel inclined, for once, to toss up a penny to see on which side I shall come down. I think the bookmakers are even more astute than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that they will come out all right in the end, as they always do.
I am not going into the high moral issue. After all, life itself is a gamble, and there are many other forms of gambling besides betting on horses. For instance, the profession to which some of my hon. Friends belong provides most unprofitable gambles in the form of lawsuits. To gamble discreetly, I would rather put my shilling on a horse than my pound on the result of a law case. However, I think that the recognition of betting will make our younger people take betting as the normal thing to do, and that is where I see the harm in it. There is quite enough betting already. I have been in the workshops, and I know the great harm it does. It is not alone the moral question of taking somebody’s money without giving anything for it. It is the manner in which it absorbs the whole thought and interest of people who take any part in it that does the harm. Some such people take no sensible interest in anything else except spotting winners and backing losers. The next process will be to enact that bets must not be accepted from persons below a certain age. We tried that in regard to tobacco, and now a boy, even if he has not the inclination to smoke, feels impelled when he reaches the age of 15 to buy cigarettes in order that he may blow a whiff of smoke in the face of the policeman. That restriction has done more to encourage than to discourage smoking, and I fear it will be the same with betting.
I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer had left the subject alone and had found some better way of raising money that that of recognising vice in order to bring in revenue. I do not drink alcohol but I recognise that in a moderate degree alcohol is allowable and that only when taken to excess does it become a vice. From a utilitarian point of view, however, betting as I have said is extremely harmful, not only because those who indulge in it generally lose their sub-

398stance, but because it diverts their minds and gives them an outlook on life and a philosophy which is harmful. I had an early lesson in the evils of gambling. I was in the cashier’s desk in a tailor’s shop in a busy part of London when I was a lad, and from my cash desk I saw, every day, in the street outside, prosperous-looking gentlemen wearing large watch-chains and smoking big cigars, who seemed to have nothing to do. They had many friends and all the friends seemed poor. Presently I began to inquire as to who were these mysterious people. They were bookmakers. I then made up my mind that if ever I had anything to do with betting it would be as a bookmaker and not as a backer.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his time has played many parts. One might call him the Harlequin of politics. We never know at what particular spot on the stage we may find him or what face he will turn towards us. In this Finance Bill there is a trace of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his old guise, as he was when he was allied to the Liberal party which was pledged to a free breakfast table. His one relief to the mass of the people, his one contribution to a free breakfast table, is the abolition of the tax on chicory. I do not know if this will mean one farthing per inhabitant per year. For the rest, this Finance Bill means that this is a rich man’s Government. There is no consideration in it for the poorer people, whose incomes have gone down and who have been in such a precarious position for the last few years. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was asked where the working classes came in, said they had had their turn in the previous year in the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). We thought we should have something to get this year, especially as in the Economy Bill and other Measures the Government have been cutting down everything which means anything to the poor people, but the Budget has not given them a fraction of relief. Then hon. Members wonder that feeling should be growing in the country. One hears talk about the distressing state of the country and how we must all suffer together, but when I take the Report of the Commissioners for Inland Revenue, I find that the actual total income of the

399Income Tax payers, after deductions, in the year ending March, 1914, was £951,000,000; in the year 1919 it was £2,071,000,000; and in the year 1924 it was £2,300,000,000; so that the income of those who pay Income Tax has increased to about two and a-half times what it was in 1914.
During all this time of depression, when the workers’ wages have been cut down and we are told that all the workers must expect a reduction in their wages, we find the income of the wealthy Income Tax payers and Super-tax payers has been increasing enormously [An HON. MEMBEE: “And the wage earners!”] The income of the weekly wage earners who made returns for Income Tax was, in 1920, £825,000,000, but in 1924 it had gone down to £300,000,000. They had lost £500,000,000 in that time, and more than that sum had gone to the people who are above the weekly wage and salary scale. That shows that all the time the poor have been getting poorer and poorer, and the rich have been getting richer and richer, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has all the time been relieving the rich of taxation and cutting down everything that meant anything to the poor at all. This is class legislation right the way through, and I hope that, if the present Chancellor of the Exchequer should retain his position till next year, which Heaven forbid, hon. Members behind him will see the injustice of this financial policy and insist that the workers shall at last be given a chance in the finances of the country.
10.0 P.M.
The hon. Member who preceded me boasted about the return to the gold standard. In 1919 we were told that £2,000,000,000 returned for Income Tax was only worth 13s. of gold value, but now by the manipulations of high finance, in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they have raised those pounds which were worth 13s. to 20s. gold value, and by that very process they have increased their total wealth, measured in gold terms, by 50 per cent., apart from any increase in figures. It has also had its effect on the trade and industry of this country. We were during 1924 slowly, but surely, recovering our position, and in the normal course of events, without any picturesque showing before the world, we should have normally returned to the

400gold standard without the disastrous effect that that sudden return had on the export trade of this country, which meant a handicap immediately of 10 per cent, on the coal trade of this country in its export, and largely brought about the final blow to the coal trade, which brought in its train the necessity for the subsidy and the sequence of events which we have had during the last few weeks. That has been the result of the Government’s financial policy. They may boast of the wealth coming in from abroad, and of how their pounds are coming in—those who have overseas investments—worth 20s. gold value, and about invisible exports, and so on; they may draw tribute from all the world and boast of their high financial position, but
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”
While the wealthy and the financiers may boast of their growing millions, all the time we are seeing that those who are really concerned for the industry of the country will know that industry, as apart from finance, has been given a very wicked blow, first of all by the rapid deflation of 1921 onwards, and then by this blow which has been given once more. That is the position. We are handicapping our industry, and the result is seen in this, that the best of our skilled craftsmen are leaving the country. It is in our productive trades that the blow is mainly felt, and as a result of the cold-blooded policy of crushing wages down, I have seen in my own trade, the engineering trade, 20,000 skilled men, members of my own union, leaving this country and going out to America. Hon. Members opposite have talked of “ca’ canny” methods, but these men are going out to America and being snapped up by employers there at wages three or four times as high as those they were allowed here. A highly skilled toolmaker, a friend of mine, is to-day delivering my bread. He can get a higher wage from our co-operative society, a secure job, holidays and sickness paid for, and a pension, and he can get that in no engineering firm in this country. No man to-day who enters his boy in a productive industry is giving him a chance. Let a boy go as a street sweeper rather than as an engineer; he will have a better and

401more secure existence, because of the policy of our business people of economising always in wages instead of giving encouragement for their workpeople to equip themselves and become efficient, and to feel that they have some career as workmen rather than as manipulators of other people’s work
All those who really are concerned and who wish to see this country regain its position as a free country, with craftsmen and industrial workers who can compare with those of any other country in the world and hold their own, have got to see that the greatest enemies of industry in this country have been those people of high finance who have manipulated the Front Benches of this House so much in the past, and who, if they are not restrained, will bring us to disaster. I hope hon. Members opposite, who may be in power next year, and very probably will, will learn the lessons of these last few years, and will learn that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the policy that he is putting forward, is demonstrating to the workers of this country that he is greatest enemy that they have, and he is the greatest asset to our party. But if success for our party is to be won by the crimes of the others, I would sooner have no success for this party. Let the party opposite put an end to their crimes, and put forward a sound policy of finance which will help to restore our industry and to give a decent life to the workers, who form the basis of the nation.

903″>Sir ALFRED BUTT: I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) in defending the wages paid to the workers of this country or in answering his explanation as to why it culminated in the recent catastrophe. I think we are likely to find out later on that the action of the Government will be fully justified. I am certain that no one who realises that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to budget for an expenditure of £826,000,000, which is about four times in excess of our pre-War expenditure, can fail to appreciate the magnitude of the task which he has accomplished, and I should like to add my humble appreciation of his efforts, which have not only maintained but enhanced our credit. They have had the effect, quite contrary to what the hon. Member above the Gangway has sug-

402gested, of raising in reality the purchasing power of the wages of the workers of this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he proposed, during the current year, to do everything he could to economise the national expenditure. I do not think it can be too often or too frequently reiterated that reduction in our national expenditure is absolutely vital if we are ever to return to permanent prosperity in this country. I hope that the head of every spending Department of the Government, that every Member of this House, and, particularly, hon. Members above the Gangway, will endeavour to practise what is so often preached in this House, and see that our national expenditure is reduced. There are two ways of balancing a Budget. One is by increased sources of revenue, and the other is by reducing expenditure. I am sure that in the interests of the country reduced expenditure is preferable.
I only want to refer, quite briefly, to two matters in the Finance Bill. The first is in respect of payment to this country from France. I was extremely disappointed to learn from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had only been able to persuade the French Finance Minister to make a payment this year of £4,000,000 on account of the indebtedness of France to this country. The French Government have laid it down in official pronouncemnts that they will not pay away to their creditors more than they receive from Germany. But, under the Dawes Reparation scheme, Germany will pay France, it is estimated, from September, 1925, to 31st August, 1926, a sum approaching £29,000,000, and, after making allowances for the charges and expenses of occupation, there remains a sum of something like £22,000,000 for France. Under the scheme of settlement that M. Peret, according to an official announcement, proposed, America, and England would receive some £5,000,000 this year, leaving a profit to France of no less than £17,000,000 out of the payment she receives from Germany.
We all admire France as a great friendly neighbour, but it is no use disguising the fact that she is spending unprecedented amounts on armaments. She has less unemployment than we have in this country. She has a much lower scale of taxation, and it is intolerable that in effect we should be taking money

403to subsidise her industries to compete with our own manufactures. We have to pay annually to America some £35,000,000, largely on account of debt contracted on behalf of France, and if we had received the amount that was provisionally promised by M. Caillaux of £12,500,000 a year, we should only be getting practically one-third of what we are paying away on her behalf. I do not think this country can afford to continue to subsidise France, and I do hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do everything in his power to insist upon France, at least, handing over any proceeds she gets from Germany under the Dawes Reparation scheme.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, if the House will allow me, and that is the betting tax. A great deal has been said about it, but I hope the House will bear with me for a few minutes, because I happened to be on the Committee which dealt with that subject. We have already seen a very large number of communications in regard to the matter, which shows the wide and deep interest which all members of the community are taking in this proposed tax. A large number of protests have been made from members of the Church and other Christian bodies. I do not think it is right to say that the moral objections should be entirely ignored. I think moral considerations sometimes outweigh financial considerations, but I do not propose at this stage to deal with those in detail, except to emphasise the seriousness and the reality of some of the protests which have been made. We are also receiving a large number of protests from those interested in the industry. Admittedly, they speak with prejudice, but if we are to believe what racing people say, it means that if this proposed taxation takes place, racing will entirely be stopped. Personally, I do not share that view at all, but I am quite satisfied that if you stop racing, you will certainly not stop betting, because betting is inherent in the Anglo-Saxon race.
There are, perhaps, some Members of this House, and certainly a large number of people outside, who would say that if betting were stopped, it might not be an evil; on the contrary, it might do a great deal of good. I do not propose to venture an opinion on that point. I am

404quite satisfied to rely on what Dr. Lyttelton and Bishop Welldon have both said, and that is, that betting, like everything else, is a question of degree. Betting, if done to excess, betting, if it takes up a man’s time and makes him neglectful of his work or other social functions, undoubtedly becomes a very real and grave evil, but betting in moderation can be compared to taking one glass of wine instead of drinking a while bottle. It may very well be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his very natural desire to find some other source of revenue which would foe least harmful to the community as a whole, thought it desirable to tax betting. While I do not happen personally to agree with the proposed tax on betting, for reasons which I will give shortly, I am quite prepared to admit that it may be a desirable experiment; but if betting is to be taxed, then it must be on a basis of fairness and equity to all concerned. I cannot help feeling that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has ignored, or, perhaps, not even considered very carefully the conclusions which were arrived at by the Select Committee on Betting. After they had examined important and material witnesses during innumerable sittings lasting over several months they came to the unanimous conclusion that the greatest evil in regard to betting is what is known as the street bookmaker
Millions of people are constantly conniving with each other, and frequently with the police, to avoid the law. That must inevitably have a demoralising effect upon character, must make the people have a contempt for the law, and hold it up to ridicule. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he is not looking for trouble; that he is only looking for revenue, but what he is now proposing is entirely to ignore the findings of the Select Committee, to leave this great social evil of street bookmaking untouched and perfectly unaffected by this Bill, and to tax the people who are at the present moment carrying on their business within the law. The Chancellor has said that he does not believe there is any harm in taking revenue from those who at the present moment obey the law and pay super-tax, Income Tax and Entertainments Duty, but he is perfectly prepared to leave alone what we were told by the Select Committee was

405a great social evil, to leave those concerned untouched, and allow them to continue to break the law without having to pay any of the taxes inflicted upon those who are law-abiding.
On the introduction of the Finance Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out that he did not think that the mere fact of introducing a tax would in any way stimulate street bookmaking. If to-day there are, as the evidence before the Select Committee showed, 6,000 people practising street bookmaking in this country who are not now paying Income Tax, is it not quite obvious that when there is a further penalty upon, licensed bookmakers in having to pay a duty, the number of 6,000 is likely to increase, and the number of the others to decrease? The Chancellor of the Exchequer takes the view that the people who now bet within the law are not likely to be driven to the street bookmaker. That is obviously true of people who bet in a big way, and who are law-abiding citizens. But there is a middle class who will appreciate very much the opportunity of being able to bet on more advantageous terms with the street bookmaker. He will have a further incentive to offer. The hon. Baronet who presided so ably over the Select Committee said it was absurd to suggest that the street bookmaker would be able to offer any better terms than the bookmaker betting within the law, as they were all guided by starting-price returns. I venture to suggest the street bookmaker can offer a very great inducement, that is, that he will not ask the backer to pay him the tax, or, alternatively, he will be able to offer a certain proportion of odds half a point over and above what the bookmaker betting within the law offers.
I do not want to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman who pointed out certain inconsistencies in the regulations, for those can be dealt with in the Committee stage, and I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be only too willing to grant any concessions in order to make the machinery work more smoothly. What I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider is this: It may be a good thing to tax betting, but if it is to be taxed, I appeal to him to take his courage in both hands and deal with the subject thoroughly. I cannot imagine that he has studied

406seriously the very weighty Report of Sir Horace Hamilton, the Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise. I know that on the last occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the Board of Customs and Excise had considered the matter from another point of view, but I cannot imagine there was any other point of view from which to consider it, and I would like to read to the House the considered conclusion of Sir Horace Hamilton:
“A betting duty would require the effective suppression or legalisation of ready money betting off the course. Under the present provisions of the law, the tax would have to be confined to racecourse and credit betting, for the State could not, of course, set out to tax illegal transactions. Hence, unless the latter were rigorously suppressed (a) bookmakers and backers who acted within the law would be placed at a disadvantage with those who broke the law, as an illegal and untaxed bookmaker could presumably afford to give better odds; and (b) the new tax would start with a large and growing leak, which could not fail in time to have serious reactions upon the revenue derived from legal forms of betting. It is common knowledge that the practice of ready-money betting off the course is widespread throughout the country, and if it cannot be suppressed now, it is improbable, to put it no higher, that it could be abolished if a tax were imposed and the evasion of the tax added to its attractions. If this diagnosis of the situation is correct, it would appear impossible to resist the conclusion that, in the event of a betting duty being imposed, ready money betting off the course should be legalised and taxed.”
In conclusion, I only want to emphasise what the Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise said. It may be that it is desirable to tax betting, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer decides to tax it, I am sure he will get the whole-hearted support of this House, but I appeal to him to deal with the matter fairly and squarely, and not by the method he proposes to adopt, to perpetuate and to stimulate something that is a real danger to our social life. I am convinced that if he is going to leave out the street bookmaker he is going to inflict a very great hardship, in the first case, on the poor man who wants to have a bet, and a great injustice as against the law abider. Let us have legalisation and taxation, or let us have the tax abolished.

904″>Sir FREDRIC WISE: I do not propose following the hon. Member who has just spoken in regard to what he has said

407about the Betting Duty, but perhaps I might deal with his reference to France. I do not know whether he fully realises the enormous number of francs that it would take to pay to this country more than £4,000,000 a year at the present rate of exchange.

905″>Sir A. BUTT: I suggested that we should receive some of the gold marks which France is getting from Germany

906″>Sir F. WISE: I am sure that we do not want gold marks in this country. We want sterling, France has to pay in sterling, and if she had to pay us £4,000,000 sterling a year at the present rate of exchange, it would mean a payment of 680,000,000 francs, which would be a great drain on any country. As far as the rate of exchange is concerned, and taking into account the balance of trade with a country like France with an inflated currency, it is very difficult for France even to pay us anything large in repayment of the debt she owes us.
I agree with the hon. Member for Balham (Sir A. Butt) in what he said about expenditure, because expenditure is undoubtedly the blot on the Budget. The growth of national expenditure has gone up, and is still going up, and I do feel that something should be done similar to what was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) earlier this afternoon. I remember a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) last August in which he hinted at some idea that there should be set up some sort of committee to check the Estimates before they came before this House, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh that something should be done, and can be done in this direction if only the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary will take the matter in hand. It is no good throwing up your hands and saying “Expenditure cannot be reduced.” The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh, who is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, knows as well as I do that expenditure can be reduced. If some sort of scheme could be drawn up by which the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee could somehow

408work together, I feel confident that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be handed proposals which could be put before the country for the reduction of our national expenditure.
The most important part in the speech which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made when he introduced the Budget is that in which he said, “It is expenditure that governs the position.” That is very true, and it is expenditure that governs the position to-day. I feel that certain Members on the Government Bench seem to think that a rise in revenue is the same as a reduction in expenditure, but really there is nothing more farcical than to think that a rise in revenue is equal to a reduction in expenditure. I cannot help thinking that many people in the country are looking with some nervousness as to the future financial prospects. We have had great difficulties, and there are great difficulties ahead of this country as far as finance is concerned. Since the Armistice we have reduced our debt by £736,000,000, we have reduced our interest by about £80,000,000 per annum, and we have reduced taxation by about £200,000,000, while our currency, which was about 30 per cent, below par, is now at par, and, in fact, as was mentioned by an hon. Member on these benches, it rose above par two days ago. In spite of this, we have the Consolidated Fund interest running up to £304,000,000 in 1926–27. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is suggesting increasing the Sinking Fund by £10,000,000 this year, making the total amount £60,000,000. That is a gigantic amount, and I would ask him if the country can afford such a large amount at the present time. A Sinking Fund is valuable to credit as long as you do not increase expenditure, but, if you increase expenditure, the Sinking Fund loses its value and its weight.
European countries are in a different position from ourselves as far as the payment of interest on debt is concerned Countries like Germany had inflation, and have really destroyed their National Debt by repudiation. We have no desire to do that, but there are still countries in Europe, such as the one mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Balham and Tooting, which have Fiat notes and yawning Budgets, and cannot possibly get back to normal conditions until their Budgets meet in a proper and right way,

409by expenditure being less than revenue. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley, in the Budget Debate, said:
“Double the amount of national production; double the amount of wealth produced each year. It can be done.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1926; col. 1889, Vol. 194.]
I entirely agree with him, but you cannot increase your production except over a period; it must take time. It is almost similar to what happened 100 years ago. A hundred years ago there was the same anxiety over a debt of £800,000,000. We had a debt round this figure in 1914. We did not feel it. But what happened 100 years ago? We gradually increased production; but production can only be increased over a period. The hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) discussed to-day a Capital Levy. The Capital Levy suggested 100 years ago was received with the same sort of contempt that it receives to-day from the Conservative benches. In 1817, the Prime Minister of that time was asked a question in regard to a Capital Levy, and his reply was:
“The country would lose much more in credit and in resources of every kind than it would in any manner gain by such an enormous breach of faith.”
That is a reply that I can give to the hon. Member for West Leicester. I cannot help thinking that our credit is, to a certain extent, in danger. Credit is not quite the same as capital, but it is most important that we in this country should protect our credit in every way we possibly can; but yet we see every week and almost every day this House piling up the credit of the country in a most disastrous way. Only last night at 11 o’clock we passed the electricity £33,500,000 credit and at the same time we passed a credit for the Merchandise Marks Bill. Almost every Bill has a guarantee or subsidy of some sort. May I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

907″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I appreciate that.

908″>Sir F. WISE: I wish the right hon. Gentleman would take it more to heart. I have been in finance for many years. I think I appreciate what credit is, and I stand here and say on behalf of the nation and the taxpayer that it is necessary to protect our credit, especially as I am con-

410vinced that if these credits go on our credit will be in greater danger than it has ever been before. I sincerely hope the burden of taxation will be reduced in the near future. It can only be reduced by a reduction of expenditure. If it can be reduced by a reduction of expenditure, our industries will start going again and will go more rapidly than ever they have in the past. Another important point I should like to mention is the ability of the country to lend money. You may say roughly that the lending of capital is the raw material of industry, and in the past we have been a great lending country.
In pre-War days there were practically only four nations that lent money—Britain, Germany, France and Holland. The United States in pre-War days did not know how to lend money—did not understand international finance. It may sound laughable to-day, but it is a fact that the United States practically lent no money overseas in those days. To-day you have only two countries that can lend money—the United States of America and ourselves. It is a great asset still to be able to lend overseas. It helps the workers in this country by being able to export goods, and I sincerely hope we shall be able to continue lending money overseas and in that way help the nation in the export of goods. I wish again to impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer the necessity for really having some sort of organisation to go into Government expenditure. It would help our trade, and if he will put his foot down and stop these pyramids of guarantees and subsidies, I feel confident that that will help to reduce our expenditure and will help him to guide the nation into a sounder and firmer financial position.

909″>Captain STREATFEILD: There are one or two points in this very important document we have here that I should like to touch upon. If we glance over the index at the beginning I think it is clear that this Finance Bill falls into two distinct parts. Part 1, in my opinion, is the most important part of the Bill, the part that deals with Customs and Excise, with its counterpart, the Imperial Preference question, and duties on imports. Speaking from this side of the House I need hardly say how I welcome what provisions have been made. I am not exactly a whole-hog Protectionist at the moment,

411though that is what I am hoping for as time and the situation develops. The Safeguarding of Industries Act was one of the soundest Measures that was ever put upon the Statute Book. Our experience of the Safeguarding of Industries Act has shown that nothing but good has accrued from it. We have only gone a little further in the direction of wrapping paper in this Finance Bill, but I look forward in the Finance Bill of next year to see something more put on, and perhaps something more between now and then. I want to see the Safeguarding of Industries continued. It is important for our own welfare that this Act should be developed more than at the present time. If safeguarding is to be developed successfully for the benefit of the country and the Empire, it must always be coupled with Imperial Preference. The provisions in this Finance Bill for Imperial Preference are sound. The stabilising of the rates of Imperial Preference for 10 years is a very wise provision, and one which our Colonial kin will regard with the greatest of favour, because it lets them know where they are. They know the rates they will have to pay, and they can act accordingly. It will stimulate the question of Empire development. I want to see the question of Imperial Preference go forward always coupled with safeguarding.
What we should aim at is that as through Imperial Preference we are able to stimulate our Empire production of the necessities of life we should through Safeguarding begin to erect a tariff against all foreign imports, no matter what they are. Many people, particularly hon. Members opposite, are leaning down, kissing the foot and licking the boots of the fetish of Free Trade, and they object to taxes on food. I frankly confess that I strongly object to such taxes, but if we, through Imperial Preference, can stimulate the supply of the foods we need from our Empire to come into this country, I want to see a tariff against foreign goods, and to carry it on from there. I want eventually to develop Imperial Preference on the one hand and Safeguarding on the other, coupling them always together, and so to arrange matters that we shall eventually have a high tariff against all foreign products, and Free Trade within the Empire. There is one

412blot on the Finance Bill in Clause 41, which I do not like. It provides:
“There shall, in accordance with the directions of the Treasury, be transferred to the Exchequer from the Road Fund constituted under the Roads Act, 1920, a sum of seven million pounds.”
I do not wish, to speak for the joy-riding motorists, and those people who live near this House would not expect me to speak for the so-called lads of the village, who choose to go rushing through the streets of London, especially at night, on high-powered motor care, to which it would appear that several batteries of machine guns are attached. I speak for the transport of this country. Of course, I realise the need for economy as much as anyone else, but in taking this amount from the Road Fund to the Exchequer, I doubt whether he is taking the right step in the interests of the taxpayers and ratepayers. When we hear of £7,000,000 being taken from the Road Fund to the Exchequer it looks like a saving there, but is it real economy to save £7,000,000 now and have to spend in the course of the next two or three years twice that amount? That is what this transfer means. We are told that, as a set off against that, there is a sum of something like £3,500,000 extra to be spent on roads. We are very grateful for whatever crumbs we get from the rich man’s table; but I suggest that that crumb is nothing like good enough. We do not ask for more roads, for bigger roads, and for wider roads. All we ask is that the existing roads should be maintained in a reasonable and wearable condition.
My point is this. If these roads are allowed to deteriorate through lack of expenditure upon them we shall be faced in a short time with a much greater cost, and one which is absolutely out of all proportion. Most hon. Members are aware that the amount of rates spent on roads is very much in the ascendency. That extra £3,500,000 which we are getting for the roads this year may possibly prevent a rise in that portion of the rates devoted to road maintenance, and if that is the case I shall be glad. But that is not the point. It is no use being satisfied with leaving the rates where they are. We want to get them down, and it is just as much important to reduce rates as it is to reduce taxes. If we are not going to spend a proper sum of money on the roads I can see

413those rates going up. There is another aspect of this question, and that is the rural aspect. In his Budget speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would be very disastrous if through the development of road and road transport railways should be threatened, that they should be cut out by the competition.
I should be very sorry indeed to see that, but I draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the fact that there are a great many districts, particularly in Scotland, where railways do not exist. The constituency which I have the honour to represent, and which is to a large extent like many other constituences in Scotland, is 1,400 square miles long and it has about 70,000 people scattered over that area. There are very few railway facilities there, and there are several villages, 20 and 25 miles from a railway station. We have a very big mileage to maintain and the rates are very heavy for road maintenance and repairs. In that constituency we do not expect to have wonderful roads fit for joy riding. All we ask is that we should have roads that are suitable for the transport of our bare necessities.
When there are villages so far from the station it is the roads, and the roads alone, that can keep them going. We, therefore, submit that the roads in rural districts must receive a great deal of attention. We have also got to think of the farmer’s requirements. He needs transport for such things as artificial manures, seeds, threshing machinery and other farm implements, and also for removal of his farm produce. I have known occasions when farmers have had to go to the expense and annoyance of transferring loads out of lorries into their own farm carts because, owing to the state of the roads, the lorries got stuck. That does a great deal of harm to the farming industry. The proportion of rates devoted to roads has been stretched to the utmost, and in some districts reaches 5s. in the £. We cannot bear that much longer, and the transfer of the Road Fund will not make things easier for us at all. I have cited that constituency as an example, but the same thing applies to many others.
The finance of road upkeep is entirely wrong from top to bottom. We have motors now that go along at anything up to 70 or 80 miles an hour. They can cover

414an enormous distance in a given time. Yet it is safe to say that the greatest part of the mileage that any motor does, whether it is a private car or a commercial vehicle, is done in roads in districts where the owner pays no rates of any description. His only contribution to the rates in that particular district would probably be through his licence tax via the Road Fund. A great deal of that is now to be taken away from us, and therefore he is contributing very much less than he did before. Again, we have the fact that a great number of car owners live in urban districts, where the mileage of roads is smaller, and the cost per head is less. Yet they go about on roads where they pay no rates whatever. From those points of view alone I think that roads are no longer a local question. They have got to be a national question administered nationally through a Government Department. It would be fairer to tax cars and lorries more highly than they are at present, tax them to increase a Road Fund administered by the Ministry of Transport and reduce road rates in proportion. That would be a great stimulus to industry, and it would do the motor owners no harm whatever.
I should like to touch shortly upon what the Chancellor of the Exchequer calls “optional taxation.” I put a question to him some time before Easter, as to whether he was considering the taxation of certain hotels and restaurants as a means of raising revenue on the lines of Entertainment Tax. I got a reply that the question of luxury taxation was being considered. The Betting Duty is the only result. I hope we will get more in the way of luxury taxation next year. We need not be a bit frightened about; luxury taxation. If you tax people through luxuries, the mere fact that they indulge in those luxuries is a clear proof of the basis of all sound taxation, namely, the ability to pay. People who spend a lot of money in amusements are clearly able to pay. There is a type of person who in spite of the tax will have these luxuries. You have at present car licences, game licences, taxes on certain drinks, and so forth, and they all work perfectly smoothly. There is no reason why luxury taxation should not be carried a little further, even if only temporarily. I am speaking from the common-sense point of view; I am trying to get the people who can afford to pay

415to help to stimulate our revenue, so that those who can least afford to pay, namely, those in industry, will have to shoulder a litle less of the burden.
I think the Finance Bill perhaps caters for too great an expenditure. It is an expenditure very largely made up of social services, and very rightly so in some cases. But in these hard times we cannot expect everything. We have 1o keep in the forefront of our minds the need for economy. It is the duty of every hon. Member to see that economy is effected. We may not be popular in putting economy through, but I think that the results, even though they may lead to unpopularity at the time, will be very well worth it. Economy is not palatable medicine, but it has to be taken. I sincerely trust that hon. Members on this side of the House will back up the Chancellor of the Exchequer as much as possible. We have to take the road to economy because it leads to what we all desire, namely, peace, prosperity and progress, and however narrow that road may

416be, I trust that all Members of the House will take the road with absolutely unflinching courage and determination.

910″>Ordered, “That the Debate be now adjourned.”—[Mr. Sexton.]

911″>Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

912″>Resolved,
“That the draft of a SOrder proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under Section 10 of the Gas Regulation Act, 1920, on the application of the Brent-wood Gas Company, which was presented on the 14th April and published, be approved.”—[Sir Burton Chadwick.]913″>The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
914″>Resolved, “That this House do now adjourn.”—[Colonel Gibbs.]915″>Adjourned accordingly at One Minute before Eleven o’Clock.

 

417

Thursday, 20th May, 1926.
916″>The House met at Eleven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.

 

917″>Medway Conservancy Bill,918″>Read the Third time, and passed.919″>Ministry of Health Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill,

920″>Read the Third time, and passed.

921″>London, Midland and Scottish Railway Order Confirmation Bill [Lords],

922″>Considered; to be read the Third time upon Tuesday, 1st June.

923″>Address for Return, “showing (a) Particulars of all Aliens to whom Certificates of Naturalisation have been issued and whose Oaths of Allegiance have, during the year ended the 31st day of December, 1925, been registered at the Home Office; (b) Information as to any Aliens who have during the same period obtained Acts of Naturalisation from the Legislature; and (c) Particulars of cases in which Certificates of Naturalisation have been revoked within the same period (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 83, of Session, 1925).”—[Captain Hacking.]

 

924″>1. Mr. BATEY asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that on Monday, 10th May, several men were attacked and batoned by police near Spennymoor, County Durham; and if he proposes to hold a public inquiry into the matter? 418925″>The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks): The hon. Member has apparently been completely misinformed. The facts, as reported to me, are that for a week a crowd had collected nightly at Ferryhill Colliery to steal coal and had persistently stoned any police who appeared on the scene. On the 10th May the police very properly took measures to deal effectively with this situation. They advanced on the crowd through a shower of missies and dispersed them, arresting 20, 17 of whom were charged, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. There is no ground for any further inquiry.926″>Mr. BATEY: Is the Home Secretary aware that three of the men and one boy who were batoned were not in the crowd, but were returning to Spennymoor, and had not been connected with the crowd at all? On those grounds, will he not grant the inquiry, because there is very clear evidence that they were not connected with the crowd?

927″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: If the men the hon. Member mentions were not connected with the crowd, I do not see how they could have been batoned.

928″>Mr. BATEY: As it is not possible to state now the evidence which I have, I beg to give notice that I will return to this question on the Adjournment.

929″>Lieut.-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that just previously to the events referred to the hon. Member had made a speech at Spennymoor in which he said, among other things, that all the Reports of the Coal Commission ought to be collected and burned, and added, kindly, that the Commissioners ought to be hanged; and does not the right hon. Gentleman think that these disturbances may have arisen out of that?

930″>Mr. BATEY: Is the hon. Member aware that the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) said no such thing?

931″>HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw!

932″>Lieut.-Colonel WHITE: If the hon. Member says he never said such a thing—I read it in the papers at the time—I withdraw.

 

419933″>Mr. W. THORNE: On a point of Order. Ought not the hon. and gallant Member to withdraw the serious allegation that he has made, in view of the statement of the hon. Member?

934″>Lieut.-Colonel WHITE: I have withdrawn it.

935″>Mr. SPEAKER: The hon. and gallant Member said that, in view of what the hon. Member had stated, he did withdraw.

936″>Mr. SEXTON: I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is not a fact that in cases of this kind the policeman’s baton, like the rain from heaven, “falls alike upon the just and upon the unjust”?

937″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: That, of course, is probably correct, but the just ought not to be mixed up with the unjust.

938″>3. Colonel WEDGWOOD asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of Hill and Lockett, sentenced to 21 days’ hard labour in connection with picket work in the borough of Stoke on Saturday, 8th May; and is he prepared, in view of all the circumstances of the case, to advise the reduction of the sentence?939″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I am asking the chief constable for a report, and when received I will give it consideration.940″>Colonel WEDGWOOD: Is the right hon. Gentleman cognisant of the fact that a certain amount of inter-borough jealousy arises in these matters, and the mere fact that Newcastle managed to get through without any trouble whatsoever lends a certain gusto to the action by the Stoke police towards Newcastle people?

941″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I assume that Newcastle-under-Lyme, very much favoured in its representative, is more peaceful than Stoke; but, as I have said, I will cause inquiries to be made.

942″>4. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN asked the Home Secretary whether he can inform the House of the total number of special constables and civil constabulary, respectively, sworn in during the period of the general strike in the Metropolitan area? 420943″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: The total numbers of special constables and civil constabulary reserve enrolled in the Metropolitan Police district during the recent emergency were approximately 51,000 and 11,000 respectively.944″>Sir H. BRITTAIN: May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has the figures for the country as a whole?

945″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I have not got them made up yet, but I think the hon. Member may take it that, roughly, 250,000 special constables were enrolled throughout the country as a whole.

946″>5. Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary if he is aware that a special constable, wearing an armlet and carrying a truncheon, was arrested at the Criterion Restaurant at 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 12th May, on a charge of drunkenness; and will he cause an inquiry to be made into the facts of this case, in view of the complaint lodged by Drs. Brook and Imianitoff at Vine Street Police Station?

947″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I understand that the complaint was to the effect that the man arrested ought to have been taken to the police station in a vehicle. The complaint has been investigated and found to be groundless.

948″>Colonel DAY: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both of those doctors, who were independent witnesses of this occurrence, called at the police station, and the police practically ordered them out of the station and would not hear their statements?

949″>Sir W. JOYNSTON-HICKS: I assume think that could be so, because my information is that one of these doctors is now out of the country, and the other has been seen by the police.

950″>Colonel DAY: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of these doctors is the Medical Officer of Health for South-wark?

951″>6. Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Moscow Trade Union International is about to remit 2,600,000 roubles to the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain; if he will take steps to prevent this money
421coming into the country; and have any steps been taken under the Emergency Regulations in this matter?952″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: My attention has been called to this transaction. As the House is aware, power was taken by Regulation to prevent the transmission of moneys from abroad in furtherance of the general strike. A payment in aid of the miners, who are engaged in a genuine trade dispute, clearly stands on a different footing, and, whatever view may be taken of the motives of either the donor or the recipient, the Government do not feel called upon to interfere.

953″>Sir A. KNOX: Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration the fact that this sum represents deductions compulsorily made from the meagre wages of the Russian miners?

954″>Miss WILKINSON: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no justification whatever for making such a statement; and may I ask him whether the growing practice of hon. Members asking questions containing insinuations is in accordance with the procedure of this House?

955″>Mr. SPEAKER: I have to rely upon hon. Members personally vouching for the accuracy of any statement that they may make in their questions.

956″>Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT: Is it not a fact that Mr. Cook did send the telegram which has been so widely reported?

957″>Mr. BATEY: Is the Minister satisfied that the position of the miners is such as to warrant them receiving financial help from whatever source possible?

958″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: It is not my responsibility at all; it is the responsibility of the miners and their leaders, from whom they receive subscriptions. All I say is that I do not think it is the duty of the Government to prevent anyone subscribing to the miners’ funds. If the miners of Russia choose to do so, I cannot help it.

959″>Mr. W. THORNE: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that certain sums of money were offered by the Russian trade unions, and cheques were sent to the

422Trade Union Congress, but under the Emergency Regulations they were prevented from coming in?

960″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: Yes, I stopped £100,000. This sum of money is in a different position. I conceive it to be quite possible that the miners of Russia might desire that our mining strike here should be extended.

961″>Mr. W. THORNE: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the people who made the collections which were not allowed to be received are the same people who have subscribed to this fund?

962″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I think that is quite possible, but on the previous occasion the money I stopped was sent for the purpose of fomenting an illegal attack on the Constitution.

963″>Sir FREDRIC WISE: Did it come in as gold bullion or by telegraphic transfer?

964″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: It came in by telegraphic transfer from foreign banks to banks in this country.

965″>Mr. PENNY: Will that sum be liable to Income Tax?

966″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I am afraid I must refer the hon. Member to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an answer to that question.

967″>Sir H. CROFT: May I ask whether this was a voluntary subscription by the workers, or were they compelled to subscribe?

968″>Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I am afraid I have no information upon that point.

969″>10. Colonel APPLIN asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Edmonton Board of Guardians have paid relief at special rates to strikers’ families during the recent general strike; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the ratepayers concerned?970″>The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Neville Chamberlain): I am in communication with the guardians upon the subject, and will inform my hon. and gallant Friend of the result.
971″>12. Mr. BASIL PETO asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware
423that in the May Day celebrations in Hyde Park the vans and dust carts, the property of a London municipal authority, were used for propaganda purposes and advertising a journal known as “Lansbury’s Weekly”; and whether he will take steps, by legislation or otherwise, to prevent the use of the ratepayers’ money for any kind of propaganda purposes?972″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I have no official information on this subject. If any expenditure for such a purpose is charged in the accounts of a Metropolitan Borough Council, it will come under the District Auditor’s review at the audit, when there will be an opportunity for any ratepayers interested to raise objection

973″>Mr. PETO: Does the right hon. Gentle man think that it is only a question of the expenditure which is involved in the use of the ratepayers’ property for the purpose of advertising propaganda?

974″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The question raised here is one which has been repeatedly raised in this House on previous occasions. My own personal view is that it is extremely improper that public money should be used for the purpose of political propaganda; but the answer I have given to my hon. Friend is intended to communicate to him the only way in which, as the law now stands, it would be possible to inflict any sort of penalty.

975″>Mr. PETO: Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the latter part of my question, in which I asked whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take any action by legislation or otherwise to prevent this in future?

976″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I have no such legislation under consideration at the moment.

977″>Mr. W. THORNE: Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman’s reply that the municipal corporations are not entitled to do what they like with their own property paid for by the ratepayers? [HON. MEMBERS: “The ratepayers’ property!”] I have said it is the ratepayers’ property paid for by them.

424
978″>17. Mr. H. WILLIAMS asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the decision of certain boards of guardians to compel all their employés to join trade unions; and under what authority such boards of guardians claim to deprive their employés of freedom of choice in the matter of joining a trade union?979″>Major RUGGLES-BRISE: Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, may I ask whether his attention has been called to the action of the Greenwich and Deptford Board of Guardians, who are reported to have issued an order requiring all their officers and employés to join the appropriate trade unions—

980″>Mr. BUCHANAN: On a point of Order. I would like to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that, a question having been called, it is not in order for another Member to rise to put a question which does not appear on the Order Paper.

981″>Mr. SPEAKER: It is quite in order.

982″>Major RUGGLES-BRISE: I desire to ask the Minister whether he is aware that this board of guardians are reported to have issued an order to the effect that all their officers and employés are required to join the appropriate trade unions in or before the week ending on the 5th June, and that, in the case of those who do not do so, their engagements will be terminated? Is the Minister, further, aware that this action affects 780 employés and is ultra vires, and what steps does he propose to take?

983″>Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend’s question, I have seen in the Press a notice to the effect stated by him, but I have no official knowledge of it at present. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams), I am aware that decisions of this kind have been taken by certain boards of guardians, who, I understand, make this condition part of the terms on which officers are employed by them. The matter is at present receiving my attention.

984″>19. Mr. HURD asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give the names of those newspapers which offered
425their premises and plant to print a Government newspaper during the strike before the “Morning Post” offer was accepted?985″>The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Winston Churchill): The “Morning Post” was the first to offer its premises and staff; but the “Daily Mail” and the “Daily Express” both placed their resources entirely at Government disposal, and many other leading newspapers, like the “Daily Telegraph,’ were also willing to give whatever assistance was required. Others, again, were engaged in important and valuable productions of their own. But, apart from all volutary offers, the Government, of course, possessed, under the Emergency Regulations, full powers of requisition, which we used impartially wherever necessary.

986”>Captain T. J. O’CONNOR: Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that the “Luton News” also offered its services to the Government?

987″>23. Mr. T. WILLIAMS asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the first issue of the “British Gazette,” page 1, column 6, line 33, which states that the owners have agreed to nearly everything recommended by the Commission; if so, will he state on whose authority that statement was made; and will he explain those recommendations that the coalowners have accepted and rejected?

988″>Mr. CHURCHILL: A full statement of the attitude of the owners towards the various recommendations of the Commission was handed to the miners’ representatives and was published in the Press on 3rd April, from which the hon. Member will be able to form his own opinion about the accuracy of the statement referred to. The statement referred to is a mere repetition of what I said myself without challenge in the House on the 3rd May.

989″>Mr. WILLIAMS: Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that neither before the lock-out of the men nor since have the coalowners accepted a single recommendation of the Royal Commission which calls for sacrifices from them; and is not that misleading, was it not intended to mislead, and is that strictly

426in accordance with the right hon. Gentleman’s conception of what should be a clean Press?

990″>Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE: Is it not the fact that there was no lock-out?

991″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I do not want to argue the coal dispute now on this question, but it is a fact that this article repeated with close accuracy statements which had been made without dispute in Parliament, and which for my own part I believe to be substantially fair and true.

992″>Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a misstatement in the “British Gazette,” it being that the owners have agreed to “nearly everything”; and will he say if there is any single recommendation in this Commission’s Report to which the owners did not agree?

993″>Several HON. MEMBERS: rose

994″>Mr. SPEAKER: We cannot debate the matter.

995″>Mr. WILLIAMS: I beg to give notice that I shall refer to this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.

996″>22. Mr. GERALD HURST asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that on the morning of Saturday, 1st May, being the day before the general strike started, the Civil Service Clerical Association, the Association of Civil Service Sorting Assistants, and the Union of Post Office Workers notified the Trade Union Congress that they would, respectively, call a strike of their members whenever required By the Congress and would place their funds at the disposal of the Congress; what disciplinary action will be taken in the matter; and whether he will cease to recognise these bodies in dealing with questions affecting the Civil Service?997″>Mr. CHURCHILL: I am not at present in a position to add anything to the reply given to my hon. and learned Friend on the 13th May. The whole matter is receiving the close attention of His Majesty’s Government.998″>Mr. HURST: In view of the gravity of this question, I beg to give notice that I

427shall draw attention to the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.

999″>Mr. HAYES: Has the right hon. Gentleman ascertained that the unions referred to emphatically deny the allegations in this question, and will he take steps to defend civil servants from baseless charges of this kind?

Mr. CHURCHILL: I have said that the whole matter is receiving the close attention of His Majesty’s Government. When that process is completed, a statement of the facts as known to the Government can, of course, be made to the House and to the public.

Mr. AMMON: Is it not the fact that one of these societies, the Union of Post Office Workers, has been in close touch with Post Office administration all along to ensure an efficient service in the circumstances?

Mr. HURST: Assuming that these associations did not enter into the commitments referred to in the question, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that, in a document dated the 4th May, a copy of which I sent to the Treasury, three members of the Civil Service issued a manifesto in favour of a general strike, addressed to all members of the Civil Service in the country, stating as a fact that these societies had entered into the commitments referred to in this question; and, if that be so, will he take steps against these three civil servants for disseminating false and seditious information?

Mr. CHURCHILL: I think the questions asked on both sides of the House show that the facts at present are in dispute. Let us ascertain what the facts are, and state what in our honest belief constitutes the true version of the facts, and then make whatever recommendations to Parliament we think best.

Mr. W. THORNE: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, of which I am a member, who knew all the proceedings from A to Z, never considered this question for one single minute?

HON. MEMBERS: Why not?

Mr. THORNE: Because they had no intention of doing anything of the kind.

428

29. Sir H. BRITTAIN asked the Secretary of State for Air the total number of miles flown by machines under Imperial Airways during the period of the strike, together with the number of passengers and the amount of freight carried; and whether all passages were made without accident of any kind?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Major Sir Philip Sassoon): The answer to the first part of the question is 41,500 miles, 944 passengers and 70 tons of freight, including goods, mails, and passengers’ luggage; and, to the second, that no accident of any kind occurred.

30. Mr. PENNY asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the Very efficient manner in which the telephone service was maintained during the general strike, he will say whether any additional arrangements were made in regard to staff by the London telephone service?

The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Viscount Wolmer): The only additional arrangements made in regard to the staffing of the London telephone service were the provision of special transport for those telephonists who could not otherwise have got to and from their work when the normal means of transport failed, and of sleeping accommodation at a few of the larger Exchanges. I should like to thank my hon. Friend for his complimentary reference to the work done by the telephone service during the general strike, and to say that the Postmaster-General is proud to record his appreciation of the way all ranks performed their duties under difficult conditions.

Mr. AMMON: May I ask whether it is not the fact that the members of the Service mentioned in this question belong to the union mentioned just now by the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Mr. Hurst)?

Viscount WOLMER: Some of them do and some of them do not.

Mr. PENNY: Will the Noble Lord convey to the staff the appreciation of this House of the loyal way in which the staff carried out their duties during the strike?

 

429

Viscount WOLMER: The Postmaster-General has already conveyed his thanks to the Service for what has been accomplished during that period.

35. Mr. EVERARD asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the increase in the number of unemployed since the general strike?

The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Betterton): The latest available figure is that for 10th May, on which date the number registered at Employment Exchanges in Great Britain was 1,576,000, as compared with 981,877 on 26th April In addition to the figure given for 10th May, there were on that date notices of claims to benefit in respect of about 325,000 workers not at work in the mining industry on account of the dispute, and about 200,000 on strike in other industries. These form part of a larger number, the total of which cannot at present be accurately determined, not at work in the mining industry on account of the dispute or on strike in other industries, none of whom are included in the total of 1,576,000.

Mr. EVERARD: Am I right in assuming that the general strike has added 500,000 to the unemployed?

Mr. BETTERTON: I think far more than that.

Sir H. CROFT: Can the hon. Gentleman state how this appalling distress has in any way helped the miners?

36. Mr. H. WILLIAMS asked the Minister of Labour if he has made any estimate of the number of working days lost by persons who withdrew their labour in the coal-mining and in other industries, respectively, during the period 30th April to 17th May, inclusive; and the number of working days lost involuntarily during the same period by other persons?

Mr. BETTERTON: The necessary material for making such an estimate is at present being collected, and it is hoped that it will be available by the middle of next month.

430

Mr. WILLIAMS: Will it be published in the “Labour Gazette”?

Mr. BETTERTON: Probably it will.

41. Dr. DRUMM0ND SHIELS asked the Secretary for Scotland if his attention has been called to the nature of the sentences recently imposed in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court in connection with the strike, and will he reconsider these sentences, especially those where no violence or intimidation was alleged?

Captain ELLIOT (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland): My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland proposes to obtain a return giving particulars of all these cases throughout Scotland. Until he has had an opportunity of considering the information so obtained, he is not in a position to decide as to any general action to be taken by him.

Dr. SHIELS: Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman in mind the fact that a number of these people concerned found themselves in the Police Court for the first time because it was understood that peaceful picketing was permitted under the Emergency Regulations?

Mr. BUCHANAN: Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman’s attention been called to a statement made by the Home Secretary, in reply to a deputation of the Trade Union Congress; and, seeing that the functions of the Home Secretary in Scotland fall on the Secretary for Scotland, in any future action will he consult with the Home Secretary so that whatever is done may be uniform in character?

Captain ELLIOT: I understand that the action of the Home Secretary is in close correspondence with the action proposed by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Will the hon. Member see that in other cases the action taken will be uniform in character with that taken by the Home Secretary in this country?

31. Mr. H. WILLIAMS asked the Postmaster-General if he can state approximately the effect of the general strike on the revenue, respectively, of the postal, telegraph, and telephone services?

 

431

Viscount WOLMER: I regret I cannot at present give even an approximate estimate of the financial effect of the general strike upon Post Office revenue.

43. Mr. ROBERT YOUNG asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men employed in the ordnance factories are regarded as having discharged themselves if absent from work without leave for two consecutive days; that over 1,000 men in the Army ordnance services have been deprived of a week’s wages although there is no signed agreement that one week’s notice must be given; that in other departments over 8,000 men have received payment of wages due for the week’s work previous to the dispute; will he explain why this discrimination has taken place in the case of the lowest paid workers; and will he take steps to remove this grievance by paying the amount due before the Whit-sun holidays?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Captain Douglas King): There are two distinct classes of men involved—those in the Army Ordnance Department and those in the ordnance factories. The former have to give a week’s notice to terminate their employment, and the latter can terminate it at notice sufficient to enable their pay sheets to be made up. In the former cases only a week’s wages, as far as they had been earned, were withheld, but the Government has decided as an act of grace to pay the wages so withheld. All the men concerned returned to work at the first call on the 12th May before the general strike was called off.

Mr. YOUNG: Can the hon. and gallant Member tell me when this rule was made or published?

Captain KING: It is well understood. The test is that, if a man is summarily dismissed without reason, he has a claim against the Government for a week’s wages in lieu of notice, and the converse holds good in regard to the men.

Mr. YOUNG: Can the hon. and gallant Member tell me whether there is any document or circular or settled rule which has been issued so that the men in the Arsenal may know it?

432

Captain KING: I am speaking of the Ordnance Department. It is in the ordinary terms of their engagement. I will let the hon. Member have the details if he requires them.

Colonel APPLIN: Does that apply to the small arms factory at Enfield also?

Captain KING: I shall require notice of that question. There are different forms of engagement. Some of the men are on terms of a week’s notice, and the others, the general labourers in the ordnance factories are employed practically from day to day and can leave as soon as their pay sheets are made up.

Colonel APPLIN: Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that an undertaking was given to the men in the small arms factory that if they returned on Wednesday they would not be penalised in any way?

Captain KING: That is what I have said: they are not being penalised.

52. Mr. YOUNG further asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the men in ordnance factories have not signed any agreement and know of no such rule to give one week’s notice before stopping work; that there is a rule that, if men absent themselves from work for two consecutive days, they are regarded as having discharged themselves; will he explain why the inspection department (inspection of naval ordnance) have stopped two days’ pay, while the naval ordnance department have stopped a full week’s pay; and will he state the reason why this discrimination against the lowest paid men has taken place while over 8,000 men in the ordnance factories have been paid for all the time that they worked before the stoppage took place?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Bridgeman): The Statements in the question are not quite in accordance with the facts. Where the Regulations under which the men of the various Departments are serving require a number of days notice to be given before men can take their discharge that number of days’ pay was withheld from the men who were absent without leave. This money will, as an act of grace and without prejudice, be paid to the men serving under the Admiralty at Woolwich at the next regular pay day.

 

433

Mr. YOUNG: When will that be?

Mr. BRIDGEMAN: I will find out.

Mr. YOUNG: As it is possible that these men may want to go away on holiday, could they not have the money by to-morrow?

Mr. BRIDGEMAN: I will see what can be done about it.

2. Mr. CAMPBELL asked the Home Secretary the attitude of the Government in regard to the recent deputation urging the need for legislation which will give to mercantile companies and corporations the right to vote in municipal elections?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: The Government have not yet had an opportunity of considering the matter.

7. Colonel DAY asked the President of the Board of Education what arrangements now exist for the education of semi-mentally deficient children in England and Wales?

The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Duchess of Atholl): My right hon. Friend assumes that the hon. Member is referring to the children who are educationally retarded, but are not certifiable as mentally defective. Provision is made by an increasing number of local education authorities for the education of such dull and backward children in special classes on the general lines indicated in paragraph 14 of Circular 1341, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

8. Viscount SANDON asked the Minister of Health whether any condition as to overcrowding attaches to subsidy houses, tenancies or purchasers; whether he proposes taking any steps to avoid such overcrowding; and whether he Has any statistics or can give any estimate as to overcrowding in any such post-War houses?

434

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: No general statutory condition as to overcrowding attaches to the grant of subsidy under the Housing Acts of 1923 and 1924, but local authorities may, with my approval, impose conditions, and I have no doubt that local authorities administering housing schemes are fully alive to the importance of taking all possible steps under their general statutory powers and otherwise to prevent; the occurrence of overcrowding in houses under their control. I have no information which would enable me to reply to the last part of my Noble Friend’s question.

11. Colonel DAY asked the Minister of Health what action has been taken by his Department to deal with the housing shortage within the area of the Erith District Council?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I have approved proposals submitted by the district council for the erection of 230 houses under the Housing Acts, 1923 and 1924. Contracts have been entered into for 126 of these houses and 54 of these have been completed: the remaining 104 were approved as recently as the 29th April. Proposals for the grant of assistance in respect of 68 houses to be erected by private enterprise have also been approved.

15. Mr. T. KENNEDY asked the Minister of Health whether he is prepared to bring in a Bill to extend Section 2 of the Housing Act, 1925, and the corresponding Scottish enactment, to houses occupied by miners in part remuneration for their work?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Similar proposals to those suggested by the hon. Member were discussed during the passage through this House of the Housing, Etc. Act, 1923. As I then pointed out, I consider that the powers contained in Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1925, offer a more effective method of securing the object desired.

Mr. KENNEDY: In considering the proposals that are going forward will it not be desirable to keep in view the suggestion contained in my question in any legislation that may be introduced affecting the miners?

 

435

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: If the statement made by the hon. Member be well founded, then the most effective method of achieving what he wants is by means of a Section that exists in the Act of 1925, and that is, I think, more effective than what he proposes.

14. Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK asked the Minister of Health whether the attention of local authorities has been directed by his Department to the judgment in the case of Bennett v. Harding (1900) as to their power to inspect offices and insist on their sanitary condition; and, if not, whether he will consider the desirability of doing so?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Yes, Sir; the attention of local authorities was drawn to this judgment in a Home Office Memorandum of 1912. The judgment does not expressly refer to offices, and it may be well to have a test case to make the position clear.

Mr. PENNY: Is there an attempt being made to smoke out this House?

Mr. SPEAKER: I fancy it is something that has happened on the river.

16. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON asked the Minister of Health whether he proposes to take any steps to prevent the swelling of the number of vagrants by men displaced from industry on the lines proposed by the Bishop of Exeter with regard to vagrancy reforms?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The available information does not support the view that there is at present any unusual increase in the number of vagrants. The question of this branch of administration is being considered, with other aspects of the Poor Law reform proposals.

18. Mr. CAMPBELL asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received any representations urging the Government to inquire into the possibility

436of a system of strict rationing of all spending Departments as a means of relieving the strain on the present financial position; and whether he will state the attitude of the Government in regard to this matter?

Mr. CHURCHILL: As I have frequently stated, His Majesty’s Government have explored, and are continuing to explore, all possible avenues of economy. Departments are already rationed in the sense that they are restricted to the Estimates voted by Parliament. I do not feel sure what the hon. Member means by “rationing”; but, if he means that all Departments should have their expenditure reduced by a fixed percentage, I think reflection will convince him that this is impossible.

Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK: Would my right hon. Friend say which is the best way of exploring an avenue of economy?

Mr. CHURCHILL: We made one determined effort to progress along one of those avenues before the introduction of the Budget.

24 and 25. Mr. T. KENNEDY asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1) whether he is aware that Government staffs when reducing temporary staff treat ex-service men who served overseas after the date of the Armistice as on an equal footing with men who did not serve overseas at any time; and, if so, whether he is prepared to take steps to have these men treated as overseas ex-service men, provided their discharge papers show that they served overseas on active service;
(2), whether he is aware that ex-regular soldiers who served overseas before the Great War and were retained in this country for the purpose of training the new armies are now being dismissed from Government Departments as home service men; and if he is prepared to take steps to ensure that as far as possible these long-service men are retained in employment?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr Ronald McNeill): So far as concerns the preference given to

437ex-service men as regards retention in temporary posts in the Civil Service, to which reference was made in my reply to the hon. Member’s question of the 3rd May, it is the practice of the Joint Substitution Board of the Treasury and Ministry of Labour to regard as “overseas service,” not only service rendered overseas between the 4th August, 1914 and the 11th November, 1918, inclusive, but also service rendered overseas in any campaign, whether before the outbreak of War in August, 1914, or after the Armistice. I see no reason for any modification of this practice.

20. Mr. DUCKWORTH asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of the Excise Duty which has been received from home-grown beet sugar factories during the last season on molasses containing 70 per cent. or more of sweetening matter; on molasses containing less than 70 per cent. and more than 50 per cent.; on molasses containing 50 per cent. and not less than 45 per cent.; and on molasses containing less than 45 per cent.?

Mr. CHURCHILL: With the hon. Member’s permission, I will circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the figures promised:

The amount of Excise Duty collected up to the end of April, 1926, on molasses manufactured from home-grown beet during last season, was as follows:

Containing 70 per cent. or more of sweetening matter
Containing less than 70 per cent. and more than 50 per cent. of sweetening matter 17
Containing not more than 50 per cent. of sweetening matter 2
£19

Molasses containing less than 45 per cent. of sweetening matter is not separately distinguished for purposes of Excise Duty.

438

33. Miss WILKINSON asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that letters are being delivered to the Plebs League, 162, Buckingham Palace Road, opened; and whether, if it is considered necessary to have examined the letters of this purely educational labour organisation, he will give instructions that the letters should be closed in some proper manner and not merely delivered with slit envelopes?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I have been asked to reply. It would be contrary to the public interest to give information about any exercise of my powers in connection with the post.

Miss WILKINSON: Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it contrary to-the public interest to have letters delivered with their contents bulging out, and no attempt made to close them properly after they have been opened by his Department?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: Certainly not. If the hon. Lady will give me any correspondence which has been opened and delivered in the way she suggests, I will cause inquiry to be made, and if the correspondence was directed to her personally I need hardly say she need only send the envelopes.

Mr. W. THORNE: Is it a fact that none of us have any guarantee that letters sent through the post may not be opened?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I think anyone who has a good conscience may rest satisfied that he is in no danger.

Captain O’CONNOR: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I myself received a letter addressed to the House of Commons the other day, marked “via Siberia,” which had been opened?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: It may have been opened in Siberia.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only way to have a clear conscience in the House is to have no opinion at all, or to side with him?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: That may be so.

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38. Colonel WEDGWOOD asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that a book called “Kenya,” by Dr. Norman Leys, is adversely referred to in Command Paper 2629; whether the Government accepts responsibility for this attack; and, if so, will he state which specific statements in that book, relative to the subject of the Command Paper, are alleged in any way to be inaccurate?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Amery): The Command Paper contains no adverse reference to the book “Kenya” except in regard to a quotation on page 157, from a letter to the “East African Standard,” in which a person identified in the index as Lord Delamere was accused of dummying, that is, of obtaining an undue amount of land by the use of other people’s names. The charge was quoted by Lord Olivier in another place, and the publication of the paper is the result. There has been no attack on Dr. Leys’ book, but as regards Government responsibility I am glad to have the opportunity of saying that in my opinion there is no foundation whatever for the accusation against Lord Delamere which Dr. Leys has been ill-advised enough to resuscitate in his book.

Colonel WEDGWOOD: Is it not a very dangerous precedent for the Government to come to an almost judicial decision on the question of the evidence put forward by Doctor Leys without giving the man who is being charged with inaccuracy the opportunity of appearing in any way before the Commission?

Mr. AMERY: I think there is no necessity in that case. Doctor Leys re-published, apparently, without any investigation, a false charge made in a newspaper some time before—a false charge investigated by the Government and found to be false.

Mr. AMMON: Is it proposed to take action in the Courts?

Mr. AMERY: It is not necessary for the Government, when false statements have been made which affect the action of a Government Department, in every case to bring an action against the person con-

440cerned. It is enough for the Government to express its own view that the charges were inaccurate.

Colonel WEDGWOOD: Does not the right hon. Gentleman see that if there were a case for a legal action Lord Delamere was in a position to take it, and is the Government justified in taking the responsibility off Lord Delamere and bringing forward this ex parte report without any evidence being taken from the other party to the dispute?

Mr. AMERY: I really think the right hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. Lord Delamere’s freedom to bring any action he likes is in no way affected. All that has happened is that the Government has expressed its opinion, after examining the Report, that, as far as the Government is concerned, there is no substantiation of the charge in Lord Delamere’s case.

Mr. MACQUISTEN: Is it not the case that a, reflection on Government administration is implied in these charges and that it is clearing itself?

39. Colonel WEDGWOOD asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the various areas set forth on page 6 of Command Paper 2629 as having been acquired by Lord Delamere with the Government’s approval (in addition to his original grant of 100,000 acres), during the three years immediately following that original acquisition, were acquired in accordance with, or contrary to, the terms of the Crown Lands Ordinance then in force?

Mr. AMERY: There was nothing in these acquisitions contrary to the Crown Lands Ordinance then in force. The Secretary of State had decided that grants raising any person’s total holding beyond 1,000 acres freehold or 10,000 acres freehold and leasehold combined, should not be made without reference to him, and it was therefore necessary in 1906 that this sanction should be obtained to the transfer, arranged but not yet sanctioned, which are referred to on page 6 of the White Paper.

Sir H. CROFT: Would it not be a good thing if a great many Lord Delameres could be found to develop the British Empire?

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40. Lord APSLEY asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether, in view of the fact that there are 500 families and 12,000 individuals accepted for assisted passages to Australia and awaiting shipment, he has satisfied himself that there is enough tonnage at the disposal of the companies concerned to enable them to sail with the minimum amount of delay?

Mr. AMERY: The total number of persons who have been accepted for the grant of assisted passages to Australia and who have not yet sailed is 4,607, composed of 1,080 single persons and 3,527 members of families. I understand that the available tonnage is sufficient to enable all these persons to sail without undue delay.

Mr. PALING: What is the reason these people cannot be sent after they have been accepted?

Mr. AMERY: There are a good many administrative delays of one sort or another. I imagine they are going to get away in the next few weeks.

Mr. HADEN GUEST: Would it not be possible, if there is any delay, to make use of some of the £3,000,000 grant to assist emigration to help them to get away more quickly?

Mr. AMERY: These are people who are being assisted out of the grant.

Mr. MACQUISTEN: Is it not the case that these emigrants were held up owing to the shipping strike? I know those who went from Argyllshire were held up.

32. Major RUGGLES-BRISE asked the Postmaster-General what is the amount of revenue derived annually from Press telegrams, and what is the amount of expense entailed in connection with such telegrams?

Viscount WOLMER: The revenue from Press telegrams in 1925–26 was £84,000, and the expenditure involved is roughly calculated to be in the neighbourhood of £330,000.

Major RUGGLES-BRISE: Will the Noble Lord consider whether, if savings

442were made by Press telegrams being put on a paying basis, he could utilise them towards the setting up of an agricultural parcels post?

Mr. SPEAKER: That does not arise.

34. Mr. FOOT MITCHELL asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the benefits, especially to rural districts, of the service of broadcast news during the strike, he will consider, in the coming revision of the powers possessed by the Broadcasting Company, the desirability of recommending a more general distribution of news bulletins at fixed hours of the day?

Viscount WOLMER: I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to a similar question by the hon. Member for Blackburn.

44. Major GLYN asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make any statement as to the progress of the negotiations between His Majesty’s Government and the Government of the Turkish Republic in regard to the settlement of the boundary question between Turkey and Iraq; and whether he is aware that, just as soon as there is any definite indication of a satisfactory arrangement being arrived at, there are many British firms, long associated with Turkey, ready to co-operate with that country in its development?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson): As regards the first part of the question, I have as yet nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull on the 29th April. As regards the second part of the question, I readily accept the assurance of my hon. and gallant Friend.

46. Mr. SHEPHERD asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the instructions given to the representative of this country at the

443preparatory conference on disarmament now sitting at Geneva in connection with the League of Nations?

Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON: I regret that I do not feel able to comply with the hon. Member’s request. Publication at this stage of the instructions referred to would be likely to hamper rather than help the work of the British representative, and so militate against the success of the conference.

51. Sir ROBERT HAMILTON asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it is now intended to publish any statement regarding the loss of His Majesty’s Ship “Hampshire”?

Mr. BRIDGEMAN: This question is receiving consideration.

Mr. T. THOMSON (by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Health how soon the Report of Sir Harry Goschen’s Departmental Committee on Grants-in-Aid to Necessitous Areas will be available for Members?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: This question only reached me by this morning’s post. The Report would have been published last week but for the strike of printers. I hope it will be available shortly.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE: On a point of Order. Are we not to have a second round of the questions?

Mr. SPEAKER: It is not the practice to have a second round when the House meets at Eleven o’Clock.

Dr. SHIELS (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Scotland if his attention has been called to the protest of the Edinburgh railway men against the

444allegations of the Superintendent of the London, and North Eastern Railway respecting the callous behaviour of the railway men on the occasion of the accident 10 days ago at St. Margarets, and whether he has considered their request for a public inquiry?

Mr. SPEAKER: Perhaps the hon. Member will take opportunity in the Debate later on to put his question.

Mr. BUCHANAN: On a point of Order I understand that part of the Adjournment is to be taken up debating the question raised by my hon. Friend, and the question of victimisation of workers. Is that to be the case? If so, can we know when the Debate is likely to take place?

Mr. SPEAKER: I understand that that will be taken as part of the Debate after three o’clock.

Dr. SHIELS: Will there be some representative of the Scottish Office here this afternoon, in order that I may get a reply to my question, which is considered a very urgent one by the railway men of Edinburgh?

Captain ELLIOT: I must apologise to the House. I had no idea that there was any further question for me to answer, and I had left the House to attend an important Departmental Committee. I had no idea that the hon. Member was going to ask a question. I shall be very glad to give him any information in my power.

Dr. SHIELS: I put in this Private Notice question yesterday, in good time. I am sorry to hear that the hon. and gallant Member has not received a copy of it.

Captain ELLIOT: I have received no copy of any Private Notice question.

 

Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON: Can the Prime Minister state what business the Government propose to take when the House resumes after the Whitsuntide Recess?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin): On Tuesday, 1st June, the business will be, Supply; Committee—Ministry of Labour Vote.

445Wednesday, Supply; Committee—Home Office Vote.
Thursday, Rating (Scotland) Bill; Second Reading; Economy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill; Consideration of Lords Amendments; Law of Property (Amendment) Bill; Report and Third Reading, and other Orders on the Paper
Friday, the business will be announced later.

Mr. HENDERSON: Is it understood that in the event of no settlement having been reached in the mining situation, the business of the House on the opening day can be changed so that that may be made the subject of discussion?

The PRIME MINISTER: We will certainly make arrangement for such Supply being taken on that day, so that a discussion can take place, if desired.

Resolved, “That the Proceedings on the Finance Bill have precedence this day of the Business of Supply.”—[The Prime Minister.]

Resolved, “That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday, 1st June.”—[The Prime Minister.]

 

Colonel DAY asked the Minister of Labour (1) the number of men, women, and children, respectively, that were found employment through the Employment Exchanges between the dates of 3rd to 13th May, 1926; and in what trades or occupations situations were found for these persons;

(2) the number of situations that were found for any applicants at the Wal—worth (Borough) Exchange between the dates of 3rd to 13th May, 1926, and in -what trades or occupations were situations found for these persons?

Mr. BETTERTON: Figures for the total number of persons placed in employment are only available for calendar

446weeks; those for the fortnight 3rd to 15th May will be ready in about a week’s time. Occupational figures are only obtained for monthly periods.

 

Sir W. de FRECE asked the Postmaster-General whether he can give the House a guarantee that all the postal facilities which had been suspended during the strike have been restored; whether he is aware that there was no London collection last week-end (Saturday) after 6.30 p.m., and that the late fee Sunday arrangements for the provinces were suspended; and whether he is aware that, under the circumstances during the last week-end, it was impossible for anyone posting a letter after 6.30 p.m. on Saturday to have it delivered in many country districts within 30 miles of London before Tuesday morning?

Viscount WOLMER: All postal facilities have been restored, but there may be delay in delivery in some instances as a result of the restricted train services. The arrangements made last week-end were the best practicable in the general absence of normal train services on Sunday.

 

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for Air how many miles were flown by aeroplanes in the Royal Air Force during the recent general strike; whether any accidents took place; and whether he can give an estimate of the weight of mails and goods and the number of passengers carried?

Sir S. HOARE: The answer to the first part of the question is, approximately, 80,000 miles; to the second, that two aircraft sustained damage in forced landings, the pilot of one being slightly injured; to the third, that approximately 45 tons of mails and goods were carried and also some passengers, the exact number not being yet known.

 

Sir G. WHELER asked the Attorney-General whether it is proposed to take any action regarding the retention of their commissions as justices of the peace in those cases where, during the recent industrial dispute, justices of the peace

447have, either by word or deed, prevented or endeavoured to prevent any member of the public from doing his lawful ordinary work?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I understand from the Lord Chancellor that the action to be taken is receiving His Lordship’s careful consideration.

 

Sir W. de FRECE asked the Secretary for Mines if he will give the composition of the Coal Advisory Committee; and whether it is this body as constituted which is to investigate the proposals put forward by the Government for the settlement of the coal mining dispute?

Colonel LANE-FOX: The Coal Advisory Committee referred to in paragraph 3 of the Government’s proposals for the settlement of the Mining Dispute is the Committee constituted under Section 4 of the Mining Industry Act, 1920. Its present composition is as follows:

Chairman:

  • Sir Andrew Rae Duncan.

Representatives of Owners of Coal Mines:

  • Mr. Walter Hargreavee.
  • Mr. Montagu Francis Maclean, J.P.
  • Sir Adam Nimmo, K.B.E.
  • Mr. Evan Williams, J.P.

Representatives of Workers in or about Coal Mines:

  • Mr. Arthur J. Cook.
  • The Right Hon. Thomas Richards.
  • Mr. W. P. Richardson.
  • Mr. Herbert Smith.

Representatives of Employers in other Industries:

  • The Right Hon. Lord Kylsant, G.C.M.G.
  • Mr. Benjamin Talbot, J.P.
  • Mr. D. Milne Watson.

Representatives of Workers in other Industries:

  • Mr. Ben Tillett.
  • Mr. Ben Turner, J.P.
  • Mr. A. G. Walkden.

Representing Mining Engineers:

  • Colonel W. C. Blackett, C.B.E., J.P

448

Representatives of Agents or Managers or Under-Managers of Coal Mines holding First-class Certificates:

  • Mr. Frederick McAvoy.
  • Captain Percival Muschamp.

Representing Coal Exporters:

  • Mr. E. Franklin Thomas.

Representing Coal Factors and Merchants:

  • Mr. H. Cecil Rickett, O.B.E.

Representing those sections of commerce engaged otherwise than in the production or distribution of coal:

  • Sir Edwin Forsyth Stockton.

Representing Co-operative Traders:

  • Mr. A. E. Cockbaine.

Representing the Medical or other Sciences:

  • Sir John Cadman, K.C.M.G.
  • Dr. John Scott Haldane, F.R.S.
  • Dr. C. H. Lander.

 

Mr. HORE-BELISHA asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many men transferred from Rosyth and Pembroke to Devonport Dockyard have not yet received their allowances; and when they are likely to be paid?

Mr. BRIDGEMAN: All of these men who have rendered claims have either received the allowances due or, if they have applied, have received advances pending settlement, provided that their claims were prima facie genuine.

Mr. HORE-BELISHA asked the Minister of Health whether he can now say if the Government have determined on any policy with regard to the housing situation in Plymouth, as a result of the deputation from the Plymouth Town Council in March last, when it was suggested by the deputation that the Government should undertake the erection of the necessary houses or make a grant to the council of special financial assistance in order to enable them immediately to proceed with the erection of 300 houses of a special type which could be speedily completed for the housing of the transferred employés from Rosyth and Pembroke?

 

449

Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN: The matter referred to by the hon. Member is receiving my close attention, and I am at present in consultation with the Admiralty.

 

 

Sir W. SUGDEN asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the fact that shipments of pig-iron from Middles-brough and surrounding districts have fallen from 1,340,092 tons in 1912 to 371,666 tons in 1925, whether he will offer some type of subsidy by way of tax relief, in view of the subsidy already paid, and still further contemplated, in respect to the mining industry?

Mr. CHURCHILL: The answer is in the negative.

Sir W. SUGDEN asked the Prime Minister what action he proposes to take in assistance of the shipbuilding industry which, at the call of the war-time Government, extended and modernised shipyards and now, by reason of the shrinking of trade, is facing heavy financial commitments of local rates, national taxes, and of employés specially obtained and thereafter localised for national service in war time; and does he propose to assist as is done in the mining industry?

The PRIME MINISTER: I am aware of the difficult position of the shipbuilding industry, but I do not think that action of the kind suggested in the last part of the question is desirable or practicable.

 

Sir W. SUGDEN asked the Minister of Transport if he will consider the desire of the North-East Coast municipal electrical engineers that a tribunal be appointed to which large consumers of electrical current may appeal against high prices compulsorily applied to them?

Colonel ASHLEY: I have not been able to identify the suggestion to which my hon. Friend refers, but if he will furnish me with detailed particulars I will consider them.

 

 

450

 

Mr. DALTON asked the Postmaster-General the total number of first-class certificates of proficiency in radio-telegraphy issued since 1st January, 1925?

Viscount WOLMER: Between the 1st of January, 1925, and the 15th of May, 1926, 430 first-class certificates were, issued.

 

Colonel DAY asked the Postmaster-General whether he will consider the desirability in the public interest of making representations to the newspapers that the British Broadcasting, Company should be allowed to continue permanently to broadcast news bulletins at regular periods of the day somewhat on the lines initiated during the recent emergency; and whether he is aware of the value of such information to those of the public who are not within reach of the evening Press?

Viscount WOLMER: I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the. 19th May to a similar question by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Duckworth).

 

Colonel WOODCOCK asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that a letter, dated 22nd January, 1926, was addressed by Mr. J. G. Gibbon of his Department to the secretary of the Association of Municipal Corporations with reference to the Union Inter-nationale des Villes, expressing the opinion that the Association of Municipal Corporations should join the Union Internationale, and if this was done with his authority; and whether the British Government has aided this Union Internationale with any funds?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I am aware of the letter, and it was written with my authority. I understand that the Association has decided to join the International Union of Towns for a trial period of three years. The Government has not aided this international body with funds.

 

451

Mr. R. YOUNG asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that Mrs. Greenhalgh, of Winwich, Lancashire, made local application on 25th February for a widow’s pension on behalf of her three children, aged 4, 8, and 14 years, respectively; that she was informed that the application, being in order, was forwarded to London for official sanction; that no answer has yet been received; and whether, if the application has miscarried, he will ensure that no financial loss will accrue to the widow arising from the delay in sanctioning the pension if it is granted?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: A pension, with allowances for the three children has been awarded to Mrs. Greenhalgh, with effect from the 23rd of February, and full instructions as to the method of obtaining payment have been sent to her.

Dr. DAVIES asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that an adopted child whose mother is dead, and whose father is unknown or cannot be traced. is not regarded as an orphan under the Widows’, Orphans’, and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act; that such a child is to all intents and purposes an orphan; and will he give consideration to this type of case to see if they can be made eligible for an orphan pension?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: “Orphan” is denned in the Act as a child both of whose parents are dead, and in the circumstances legislation would be required before effect could be given to the suggestion of my hon. Friend.

 

Mr. RHYS DAVIES asked the Minister of Health whether it is proposed to issue a Report on the Second Valuation of the Assets and Liabilities of Approved Societies in one volume, on the lines of Command Paper 1662; and, if so, when such Report may be expected?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The Government Actuary is preparing the Report referred to in the question and hopes to issue it in the autumn.

 

 

452

 

Captain D’ARCY HALL asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has received representations from local authorities expressing the view that his Department should make the same contribution towards the cost of administration of the Tuberculosis Order of 1925 as it now makes in respect of compensation for slaughtering animals; and whether, since legislation is needed for the purpose, he will bring before the Government the urgent need for taking steps to submit such a Measure to the House?

Mr. GUINNESS: The answer to the first part is in the affirmative. The Exchequer contribution already amounts to rather more than 50 per cent. of the total cost of carrying out the Tuberculosis Order, and I cannot therefore hold out any hope of fresh legislation to enable the Exchequer grant to be increased.

 

Mr. A. WILLIAMS asked the Minister of Agriculture how many cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been reported since 1st May; and in which counties they have occurred?

Mr. GUINNESS: Six cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been confirmed since 1st May, of which four have occurred in the East Riding of Yorkshire, one in Leicestershire and one in the Isle of Wight.

 

 

Lieut.-Colonel V. HENDERSON asked the Secretary of State for War why electric light was installed in Knightsbridge Barracks, and what was the total cost of the installation?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: Electric light has been installed in Knightsbridge Barracks both in the interests of the troops and in order to obtain a saving of some £600 per annum in the cost of illuminant. The total cost of installation will be approximately £1,400.

 

453

Lieut.-Colonel HENDERSON asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to re-occupy Knightsbridge Barracks; and, if not, what action he proposes to take in regard to their disposal?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: Knightsbridge Barracks are still required for military purposes for which no alternative accommodation is available. In the present circumstances, therefore, no steps can be taken to dispose of these barracks.

 

Colonel DAY asked the Secretary of State for War the amount of wages that are to be paid the different ranks or ratings of the new force of War Department constables to be employed at Woolwich, Waltham Abbey, Enfield Lock, and Woolwich Dockyard, in substitution of Metropolitan police now employed at the above ordnance factories and dockyard?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: The weekly rates of wages which are applicable to all stations where War Department constables are or will be employed are as follow:

Supervising constable 45s. to 50s.
Grade 1 constable 34s. to 38s.
Grade 2 constable 29s. to 33s.

These rates carry in addition the Civil Service (cost of living) bonus and a free issue of uniform or an allowance in lieu is also given.

 

Colonel DAY asked the Secretary of State for War the cost of maintaining armies in the following countries for the years 1923, 1924, and 1925; Great Britain, including troops in the Middle East; France, including Colonial Budget; Japan; and the United States of America?

Sir L. WORTH INGTON-EVANS: The figures are as follow:

Country and Year. Expenditure.
Great Britain.
April-March:
1923–24
1924–25
1925–26 44,815,000

454

France.
January-December:
1923
1924
1925
Japan.
April-March:
1923–24
1924–25
1925–26
United States of America:
July-June:
1923–24
1924–25
1925–26

The figures for Great Britain represent actual cash expenditure for the years 1923–24 and 1924–25, and estimated cash expenditure for 1925–26. The figures for France, Japan and the United States of America are the figures given in the Army Estimates of the respective countries and include the cost of the Air Forces of these countries, which form part of these armies.

 

Colonel DAY asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the number of deaths from cholera at Tuticorin during the month of March; and by whose authority was the pearl fishing continued following the outbreak after the collector suggested the closing down of the industry?

Earl WINTERTON: My Noble Friend has no information as regards the first part of the hon. Member’s question. Public health in Madras is a transferred subject administered by the Governor, acting with Ministers. My Noble Friend has no reason to doubt that the Government of the Presidency will have taken such measures as the circumstances required.

 

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for Air what arrangements have been come to between the French and German Govern-

455ments for the opening up of a number of air lines over German territory, and permitting French commercial aeroplanes to fly over Germany; what is the position with regard to British commercial aeroplanes flying over German territory; and what is the position with regard to the proposed air line from London to Prague?

Sir S. HOARE: As regards the first part of the question, an Air Traffic Agreement has been drawn up and agreed to by representatives of France and Germany, but, so far as I am aware, has not been signed and will not come into force until it has been formally ratified. As regards the remaining parts of the question, the position remains as stated in my reply of 26th April, but negotiations for a British-German Air Traffic Agreement are now in progress.

 

Mr. BUXTON asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct the representative of this country on the Committee on the composition of the Council of the League of Nations to urge that the Committee shall report sufficiently early to facilitate the admission of Germany to the League at the meeting of the Assembly in September next?

Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON: The Committee have already approved a provisional report which will come before the Council at its June session. As at present arranged the Committee will meet again on the 28th of June. The right hon. Gentleman may rest assured that His Majesty s Government will do everything in their power to facilitate the admission of Germany to the League in September next.

Mr. BUXTON asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Committee on the composition of the League of Nations Council has held its meetings in public?

Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON: Yes. Sir. With one exception all the meetings of the Committee were held in public.

Mr. BUXTON asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can

456make any statement as to the progress being made by the Committee on the composition of the League of Nations Council now sitting at Geneva?

Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON: The Committee approved provisionally a scheme relating to the number and method of selection of the non-permanent members of the Council. The question of permanent membership will be finally dealt with by the Committee at its meeting arranged for the 28th of June. I will present the text of the conclusions reached by the Committee in regard to the non-permanent members as a Command Paper.

 

Sir J. PENNEFATHER asked the Minister of Labour whether any workers in the sugar beet factories are regarded as skilled; and, if so, the number of such men employed permanently in the different sugar beet factories and in the refineries respectively of the country?

Mr. GUINNESS: I have been asked to reply. The number of workers in recognised skilled trades employed permanently in the nine beet sugar factories operating last season was approximately 400. The number of skilled workers employed is British refineries is, I am informed, estimated at 1,934. The two figures are not strictly comparable, for in refineries a number of process workers are regarded as skilled, whereas in beet sugar factories such workers are generally regarded as non-skilled. As my hon. Friend is aware, five further beet sugar factories will be operating in the coming campaign.

 

Colonel DAY asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been drawn to the danger incurred by men engaged in tunnelling operations owing to the use of liquid oxygen as an explosive agency; whether any action can be taken with a view to securing the safety of men so employed; and will he consider the introduction of legislation to limit the use of this explosive?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I would refer the hon. Member to the answer

457given on this subject on the 26th April, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Duncan).

 

Lieut.-Colonel V. HENDERSON asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury

458What are the special duties carried out by the ceremonial and reception secretary appointed to the Home Office, and by whom these duties were performed before this appointment was made?

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS: I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave on 15th April to the hon. and gallant Member for the Gains-borough Division (Captain Crookshank).

 

 

459 

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [19th May] “That the Bill be now read a Second time.”

Which Amendment was to leave out the word now,” and, at the end of the Question, to add the words, “upon this day six months.”

Question again proposed, “That the word “now” stand part of the Question.”

Mr. SEXTON: I do not rise this afternoon to discuss the many and varied proposals contained in this Finance Bill. My main object is to enter my protest again against the passing into law of this thing of shreds and patches, a Measure which in my opinion is about the most iniquitous piece of legislative confiscation that this House has ever been asked to consider. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has occupied and played many roles in his time, and now he appears to have assumed the role of a political Autolycus. Apparently he is copying the methods of that historical individual, who was “a picker-up of un-considered trifles”—those little trifles which people unconsciously lay aside with every confidence that nobody will ever touch them. To this role he seems, however, to have added the profession of a political cat burglar, and he has climbed up spouts and entered windows in order to confiscate and purloin the heritage left by his predecessors in office. He has also interfered with ladies’ wardrobes. But these practices did not commence with this year’s Budget. If you go further back you will find that in his previous Budget the right hon. Gentleman undertook the dangerous experiment of toying with ladies’ underwear, and ended with the absurdity of a tax on paper bags.
He then travelled from those topics to the question of unemployment. The legislation of the present Government has had a most demoralising effect on the youth of this land, particularly on the youth of the working classes. The iniquitous policy of restricting unemployment benefit has entirely demoralised the young people of the country who hitherto have been

460blameless in character. Suddenly and without warning, the Government deprived these young men of their unemployment benefit, and it was done by the right hon. Gentleman in order to cover up the tracks of his previous indiscretions. The result has been that the younger members of the family have been thrown out of work and have become spongers on their parents. I could give the right hon. Gentleman many cases to bear out this statement, and also many cases in which young men have been committed to prison for some act against the law which they did in real desperation owing to the situation in which they found themselves through the action of the Government. I know it will be said that the right hon. Gentleman did not take any part in the Debates and discussions on the Unemployment Insurance Bill, but, although the voice and hand of Esau were not visible, they were exceedingly prominent. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has proposed a “sop to Cerberus.” He has made provision for pensions for widows and orphans, but as there is stated to be a million surplus women as long as they live they will be compelled to contribute towards