HC Deb 24 May 1909 vol 5 cc961-6

Resolution reported;

"That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of remuneration and expenses incurred under any Act of the present Session to provide for the establishment of Trade Boards for certain trades."

Resolution read a second time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Churchill)

As the House is aware, this Bill passed its second reading without a Division, and it was largely supported on both sides of the House. It is now before the Grand Committee upstairs, and very satisfactory progress has been made. That will be liable to be interrupted and delayed quite unnecessarily if the Financial Resolution which is necessary is not assented to by the House. The Financial Resolution is not of a very serious character, and the total expenditure involved which we propose is between £12,000 and £15,000 a year for the administration of the Trade Boards in the trades which we propose in the Bill. It is possible that the schedule may be extended, and that Parliament may by Provisional Order add to the number of trades, and that would make some small increase—though a very small increase—in the cost of the administration of the measure. The trades to which we propose to apply the measure, as the House knows, are four in number, and appear in the schedule—(1) Ready made and wholesale bespoke tailoring; (2) cardboard box making; (3) machine-made lace and net finishing; and (4) ready-made blouse-making. But Amendments are pro-posed widening the area of the first, substituting paper box for cardboard box making in the second, extending the third to include lace curtain, and substituting for the fourth the hammered and tommied or dollied chainmaking industry. How far these and other Amendments to the Bill will affect the ultimate cost of putting it into operation I cannot say, but I think I shall be well within the mark if I say that £15,000 a year will cover the salaries and expenses of official members and inspectors, expenses of representative members, and incidentals such as postage, printing, light, heat, etc. I should like to point out to the House that by utilising the premises of the Labour Exchanges, and having those as the places in which the Trade Boards would meet there will only be a small expenditure on rent and staff, because a great deal of the expenditure on the rent and the staff of the Labour Exchanges would be available to aid to a certain extent in the work of the Trade Boards for the purposes of this Bill. That being so, I would ask the House if they would not think fit to let us have this Resolution to-night, because we are getting on very rapidly in the Grand Committee, and we may conceivably get through the Bill to-morrow, and only be stopped by the fact that we have not obtained the Financial Resolution.


I did not object to the Committee stage of this Resolution being taken a night or two ago, because it was stated that if we would allow the Committee stage to go through an opportunity would be given for the Report stage to be discussed. I do not call twenty minutes past eleven an opportunity for the Report stage being discussed. especially after what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the extension of the scope of the Bill to various industries which are not scheduled in the measure. Therefore in order that we may have an opportunity according to the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman I beg to move that the Debate be now adjourned.


I recognise an arrangement was made with regard to giving the House some opportunity for discussing this Resolution on the Report stage, and I mentioned this afternoon to the right hon. Baronet who sits for Somersetshire (Sir Alexander Acland Hood) that as the Committee meets to-morrow it was rather important that this Resolution should be proceeded with. When that was pointed out I think he concurred that possibly there was a special reason why this matter should be dealt with to-night rather than possibly to-morrow night or the night after. I presume the House does not desire to postpone until after Whitsun the Report of the money Resolution. Having regard to the fact that it is only just after 11 o'clock I thought it was not unreasonable that we might press the Report stage of the Resolution tonight, and I still hope there will be ample time for any reasonable discussion.


I certainly did not understand, when I allowed the Committee stage to be taken, that we were going to get it after 11 o'clock. I should never have allowed it to go through, except on the understanding that we were going to have the Report in Government time. I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want in any way to break any pledge or understanding which has been arrived at, and under these circumstances I hope he will put this down after Whitsuntide at a proper time when we can discuss it.


This is a most important Motion, which involves a very large sum of money. When the Bill was before us we were led to understand that the schedule would be definitely and clearly defined, but that at some future date it might he found desirable to add to the schedule other trades which might be concerned. Now we find even before the Bill has gone through Committee the right hon. Gentleman has begun to rearrange and vary the schedules. So far from the Bill itself passing this House with anything like universal support, it is true that no decision was taken, but there was nothing like a unanimous feeling in favour of the Bill. It is a bad Socialist Bill.


If I may interrupt, the alterations to the schedule are not substantial. They are only more precise and more careful definitions. They are very difficult to define with precision, and as the Committee proceeds the definitions are shaped and modified.


The right hon. Gentleman has actually brought in the whole iron industry, to which there was no kind of reference when the schedule was before us. I know quite well the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, spoke in favour of the Bill, but he was at pains to explain that he did so on his own account, and did not commit Members sitting behind him. The Bill is thoroughly objectionable, and we have already got a foretaste by the way in which the schedule has been handled by the right hon. Gentleman of the sort of thing we are to expect for the future. All sorts of trades may he brought in. The right hon Gentleman says all he asks is £15.000 a:ear. It may be £120,000 a year in a short time, and the schedules extended to any amount. This is no suitable time to ask for a grant, especially under the most suspicious circumstances in which the right hon. Gentleman asks for it. I trust the House will decline at this late hour of the night, when there is no opportunity to debate it, when practically we have had no opportunity of applying our minds to the subject, to proceed with the Resolution. Many of us have grave and serious objections to it, until we have some opportunity in Government time of considering the Resolution in all its bearings.

Question proposed: "That the Debate he now adjourned."—[Sir F. Banbury.]


I certainly was surprised that this Debate was raised after 11 o'clock. Of course, the Government have the right to take it after 11 o'clock, but it was not expected that they would do so in view of the understanding that was come to. I understood the President of the Board of Trade to say that it was necessary to have this Resolution passed through the Report stage in order that progress made be made with the Bill in the Grand Committee upstairs. That is not the case, because the Bill could be passed through Committee without this Resolution having been passed through the Report stage in the House. The right hon. Gentleman is not prevented from passing the Bill through Committee so long as he has not got the Report stage of the Resolution. Of course, a Supplementary Estimate will have to be introduced. I will not discuss that further than to say that he can pass the Bill through Committee, though it cannot be reported to the House until the Report stage of the finance Resolution has been passed. I presume a Supplementary Estimate must be placed before the House dealing with this £15.000. The Patronage Secretary or the President of the Board of Trade promised that the Supplementary Estimate would be presented in good time this Session or next Session in order to allow the whole question of administration to be discussed. That being so, it might be possible to withdraw the Resolution. It went through the Committee stage without opposition on the ground that an opportunity for subsequent discussion should be given. It has come on to-night at a very tiresome moment, which, with Mr. Speaker in the Chair, precludes the possibility of much discussion. If the right hon. Gentleman gets the Resolution now, will he promise that due time will be given for adequate discussion on the Supplementary Estimate?


May I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman might arrange to have this put down as the first order on the Friday when we reassemble after Whitsuntide? If he could do that, I think my hon. Friend would withdraw his Motion. We could discuss the Resolution on that day, but not, I hope, at undue length.


I recognise that hon. Gentlemen opposite have it in their power to arrest procedure on this matter. They were good enough to allow the Committee stage to go through, and they seem to have understood that time for the Report stage would be given before 11 o'clock. That is not admitted on this side of the House, but, I think, in all the circumstances, the Government desire to meet the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite and come to an arrangement. I would certainly not like to profit by putting an unfair construction on the understanding which was come to. I do very much regret that the hon. Baronet does not allow it to go through now. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Joseph Pease) informs me that he will put the Resolution down on the Friday after Whitsuntide as the First Order on the understanding that it is not to take an undue amount of time on that day, and that this will not prevent the proceedings of the Grand Committee being gone on with.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday, 4th June.

And, it being half-past Eleven of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, in pursuance of the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Thirty minutes after Eleven o'clock.