§ (1) The Treasury may, upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners appointed under this Act, make advances to a Government Department, or through a Government Department to a public authority, university, college, institution, or association of persons or company (not trading for profit), either by way of free grant or by way of loan, or partly in one way and partly in the other, and upon such terms and subject to such conditions as they may think fit, for any of the following purposes:—
- (a) Forestry (including the purchase and planting of land, the conducting of inquiries, experiments, and research for the purpose of promoting forestry and the teaching of methods of afforestation);
- (b) Aiding and developing agriculture and rural industries by promoting scientific research, instruction, and experiments in methods and practice of agriculture, co-operation, instruction
2212 in marketing produce, and the extension of the provision of small holdings; and by the adoption of any other means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural industries;
- (c) The reclamation and drainage of land;
- (d) The general improvement of rural transport (including the making of light railways, but not including the construction or improvement of roads);
- (e) The construction and improvement of harbours;
- (f) The construction and improvement of canals;
- (g) The development and improvement of fisheries;
§ (2) All applications for advances under this Part of this Act shall be made to the Treasury in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.
§ These words were inserted upstairs when I was absent from the Committee, and I do not quite understand what their object is. As they stand, the words are a distinct limitation upon those who can apply for advances under the Act. If the Act is to be made use of I should have thought the words were a disadvantage, because it may turn out that there are others who might very properly be entitled to an advance who are not included in the list, and they would be excluded entirely. Is it intended, for instance, that all owners of land should be excluded from the operation of the Act? If so, I think it is a considerable mistake. Take the first purpose mentioned for which advances may be made, namely, afforestation. I have given that subject some attention, and it has always struck me that the one place where afforestation might be expected to be most satisfactorily carried on is in some parts of the Highlands of Scotland. There you have no difficulty in obtaining land, and in many cases the best use to which the land could be put would be afforestation. Afforestation always requires most constant and careful supervision by some one thoroughly interested in it, and the man interested in these cases would be the owner of the property. Is there any reason why, if a suitable opportunity offered, he should be excluded from the possibility of carrying out such a work in the most effectual manner? There are other Members who can speak with much more authority than I as regards the Highlands of Scotland, but I think they will bear me out in what I am saying on this point. There is another idea which occurs to me at this moment. It could be the case that an owner of land is perfectly willing to give land for the establishment of a technical school for the teaching of agriculture. I have several cases in my mind at the present moment where that has been done, and done with the greatest possible advantage. Is it desirable that he should be excluded altogether from any of the advances for this purpose? Is it not the case that a technical school could certainly sometimes be established to the great advantage of this particular purpose by the owner of land? If that is so, I ask again: Why is such an owner to be excluded, as he is excluded, by the terms of the Clause? There may be a great many other people excluded also who do not occur to me at this particular moment. I 2214 have no desire whatever to delay these proceedings, but I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who has always been most willing to give any information he could during the passage of this Bill, to tell me if there is any necessity why the matter should remain as it is?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think it is a fact that the words which the right hon. Gentleman now seeks to omit in his Amendment were inserted in Committee while he was not present. He is quite within his right in asking for an explanation. It is true, in a sense, that the insertion of these words mean some limitation which did not exist, at any rate did not apparently exist, in the Bill before the words were inserted in Committee. But I think that they serve a useful purpose. They were put in for a double reason: firstly, in order to indicate the kind of body, the kind of association and institution, to which advances could be made; while the other object of inserting them there was to make it clear to what bodies or persons the advances could not be made. The funds to be administered under the first part of this Bill are public funds. The objects to which these public funds ought to be devoted are, therefore, public objects, and public purposes only. To a great extent the public objects are of an educational kind, which may be carried out either by public authorities or by universities, colleges, institutions and such associations as have been mentioned here. The point upon which the right hon. Gentleman asks me for information I am willing and ready at once to give him. Why, he asks, is it that private owners are excluded—or if they are excluded? There was, I think, a consensus of opinion in the Committee upstairs when we were dealing with advances that might possibly be made to associations or bodies of persons that those advances should not be made to associations or bodies trading for profit. The Amendment set down, I think, in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London on this point was accepted, or certainly it was part of his Amendment; and it forms part of the words which the right hon. Gentleman objects to. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out two cases. The private owner, he said, might be interested in afforestation, which is quite true. But I do not think that anybody who has taken an interest in this measure would advocate that these public moneys should be advanced to a private owner, who sees lands which 2215 he might desire to acquire; for there you are using public money for purely private purposes. The second case put by the right hon. Gentleman was the case of an owner who was ready to give land for the establishment of a technical school. Fortunately there are many such owners. But if such a one wants to establish a technical school there is nothing at all to prevent him giving the land. If he wants to give the land he need not ask for an advance of public money. If there should be benevolent persons of this description who are willing, then the advances necessary could be made to the public authority or the educational institution for the purpose of putting up the technical school. The line of cleavage is perfectly clear, and I think perfectly justifiable. We say these moneys are not to go to private persons for private purposes.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I desire to say a word or two in reply to what the Solicitor-General has said. Before doing so I wish, without suggesting anything which might be uncomplimentary or offensive to the hon. and learned Gentleman, to make my protest against the conditions under which we are discussing this Bill. I speak with some little experience in regard to local government outside and inside this House, and also with regard to agriculture both from a Departmental point of view and from the point of view of personal experience. I venture to say that a Bill of greater importance, and which will in all probability have a more far-reaching effect, has never been introduced into this House. The Amendment which my right hon. Friend has just moved is one which ought to have been replied to by a Member of the Government, who, from his official position, can bring to bear upon the consideration of the question the experience and knowledge which are only collected and contained within a Government Department. What are the conditions under which we are debating this Bill? It was, in the first instance, introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in terms which pointed clearly to its great importance, and to the probable immense effect which it may generally have upon the rural and industrial life of this country. It was not only an integral part, but a leading part of the Government's Budget proposals. It has formed a basis of contention from the beginning, and a very prominent part of the Government's new Schemes for this year and the future. After 2216 a second reading Debate this Bill, which though it may be urged is non-controversial in one sense, is extremely controversial in another sense—
§ Mr. CULLINAN
May I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether, in view of the Motion which has been made, and which we had a few moments ago, followed by the speeches of hon. Members, the right hon. Gentleman is in order in dealing with all these different stages through which the Bill has passed? Is he in order in dealing with all these matters upon the Amendment?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman is leading up to the fact that no Member of the Cabinet is present to defend the Bill, and that that defence has been handed over to one of the Law Officers of the Crown. I think he is in order.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to point out that an answer might at least have been given by a Member of the Cabinet to the first Amendment moved.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I wonder that the hon. Member raised that point of Order, because the difficulty arises in consequence of the procedure under which we have been called upon to deal with this Bill. I venture to submit that it was inevitable that the conditions to which I have referred should be referred to in the course of the proceedings at the earliest stage possible. The Solicitor-General is well known in every quarter of the House as a most industrious and courteous Gentleman, and it is in no sense personal that I find fault with him as the representative of the Government when I urge my complaint now, that in dealing with a question so grave as that raised by my right hon. Friend that the right hon. Gentleman ought to have had the advantage of the presence of a Minister of one of the Departments concerned. The Amendment proposes that under this first Sub-section of Clause 1 the same advantages should be given to private individuals that it is is proposed to give to certain public institutions. The Solicitor-General has made a reply in opposition to that Amendment which, I submit to this House, is of a very remarkable kind. He has told us that the words which appear later "not trading for profit" are really the governing words of this Sub-section, and that it is impossible 2217 for an individual to carry on an industry on his property, or connected with his property, without at all events a desire to make a profit, and, therefore, that it would be impossible to include him within these provisions. Within this provision there are, I find, after "public authority," the words "university, college, or institution." I ask the Solicitor-General is it the fact that the Government propose by the modern practice of getting over Parliamentary difficulties to issue regulations at some subsequent period, and that they, therefore, intend to lay down by regulation that no university, college, or institution which carries on an experimental farm or anything analogous to that is to be allowed to receive any grant if by a successful administration of their business they manage to make their experimental farm a paying institution? I submit if the Solicitor-General is justified in declining this Amendment on the ground that a private individual cannot receive public money if a private individual derives personal benefit out of that public money, owing to the fact that he is presumed to make his farm pay, that the same objection must apply to those institutions to which I have referred, unless they are prepared to show that they meant not to make a profit but a loss, and that in these circumstances it will not be possible for them to receive any of the advantages which are given by this Sub-section.
I have said what I have, not because I want to obstruct the passage of this Bill, and not because I want to raise fractious opposition to it, but because I hold firmly that in discussing a Bill like this we ought to have had the advantage of a Minister of the Crown who represents one of the Departments concerned. I come to it again in this respect. The Solicitor-General has dealt with the matter, but he cannot tell us from his personal experience as a Minister what are the practical difficulties with which the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture—which are the two Departments mainly concerned in this Sub-section—are brought face to face with. I have been referring to the two heads of the Departments, one of whom at all events sits in this House, and whose presence in this connection would have been extremely interesting. The President of the Local Government Board and the President of the Board of Agriculture both know from their own personal experience that one of the most frequent difficulties which they have to deal is the difficulty, 2218 not with the local authority or the institution, but the private individual. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the question of afforestation. The Government are deliberately laying down here that although they desire to advance afforestation, and set it on foot by the use of public moneys, they are going to decline to give any assistance out of these public moneys to any private individual who is willing to undertake work of the sort. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway cheer that. What does an advance for afforestation mean? It means that for seven years there is an undoubted and unquestioned loss to the individual. I defy any man in his afforestation work not to contemplate a dead loss for seven years, and at the end of that seven years another seven years, during which any return for his money will be of the smallest possible kind.
The hon. Gentleman who represents the Board of Agriculture knows perfectly well that in the Board of Agriculture we have heard repeatedly of the difficulty of private individuals starting afforestation because they cannot face the loss which would be entailed by having their capital locked up so long. In other countries where the Government take an interest in afforestation they give special advantages to private individuals. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no."] Oh, but they do; and there are conditions, notably in Spain, under which the private individual embarking upon works of afforestation are placed in favourable conditions as to the payment of rates and taxes, and in such a way the interests of afforestation are more likely to be successful than by confining it entirely to public works. This shows that the argument of the Solicitor-General is not one based upon the real principle of this Bill. I venture to say, at all events, that if we are to deny the concession which my right hon. Friend has asked for it ought to have been upon the strength and authority and opinion which alone are enjoyed by the heads of those Departments. We have been denied that opportunity, and we are discussing this Bill under circumstances which I venture to say are unparalleled in the history of this country in connection with any similar measure. I have referred to the heads of the Departments affected mainly by this Clause, and in the very first line of it the word "may" occurs and the whole power and authority is vested in the Treasury, and the Treasury, who are to be the sole 2219 arbiter of this Bill in the future, are not represented on the Treasury Bench. In these circumstances, I do not think that anyone will be surprised that I have raised this question and made this point. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were sitting on this side of the House they would have raised Heaven and earth to prevent us proceeding with this Bill under conditions which they have forced upon us. I venture to repeat that the answer of the Solicitor-General, able and lucid though it was, is not in any way an answer to the questions raised by my right hon. Friend, and I hope he will press for a Division, because that is the only way in which we can mark our protests.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
Perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words in reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I entirely agree there would be some force in this complaint if some one was put upon this Bench to conduct this Bill with mere authority to Debate points and without authority to accept Amendments. That is not my position. I have been in close touch with Members of the Cabinet engaged in this Bill, and if at any time something is raised which, I will not say it is within my power to deal with in the sense spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman, but with which I have not authority to deal, then that matter shall be at once laid before a Cabinet Minister, and I shall not pretend to have an authority which I have not got. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman I have the fullest authority on this matter. This Bill never was from the beginning a Bill for making private advances. It never was suggested in the course of the Debate in the second reading or in the course of the proceedings in Committee upstairs. I am absolutely clear upon that point. No one in the Committee upstairs made any suggestion like that made by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment or the right hon. Gentleman who supported it. Let me now deal with the points made by the right hon. Gentleman who has spoken. He says that the words "trading for profit" are not decisive in this matter at all, because he says you may have an institution like those mentioned here—a university college or some other institution of the kind—which may have an experimental farm, and he says surely if they have an experimental farm they must be allowed to trade for profit. But 2220 they are still a public body. It is quite true that they must make the experimental farm a success, but if they did they would merely hold the money they acquire precisely in the same way as they hold other moneys of the institution.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
They do not apply that profit to their own concerns. If you have a college or a university of the kind, no private individual of the college or the university gets the profit; it goes to the institution.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The character of the institution remains the same. The other matter which the right hon. Gentleman raised was this. He asked where was the President of the Local Government Board in order that he might put some questions to him. There is a feeling abroad, and there is a sort of feeling accepted here, and it was so upstairs, that the President of the Local Government Board does not like this Bill, and that therefore he is not present. That is not a fact. The President of the Local Government Board is a Member of the Cabinet, and he is responsible for this Bill, like all the other Members. The question put by the right hon. Gentleman was this. He says all advances, as made by the Local Government Board, are well known to the heads of the Department, and that they are advances arising in connection with private interests. I have had experience in connection with Local Government Board inquiries—and let me say with all humility that a lawyer knows something besides his law, a lawyer should know something about everything; he may not know much about anything, but he ought to know something—and I am not aware that advances are made or asked for between the Local Government Board and private individuals. That is certainly not so as far as I am aware. I certainly do not see that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman bear upon the Amendment moved to omit these words. I repeat that the purpose of this Bill is to spend public money for public purposes, and the very object of the Mover of the Amendment is to make it applicable to private individuals.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I desire to ask whether the Solicitor-General can say whether such associations as garden cities come within the definition of companies mot trading for profit. In such cases the advances are limited to 5 per cent. I desire to take cafe, as the matter has been raised as to whether or not such institutions would be excluded from participating in a grant under this Bill. In regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South County Dublin (Mr. Long). He complained the landlord engaged in afforestation would receive no assistance. The right hon. Gentleman has a good deal to say about the evils of State Socialism. Obviously he does not object to State Socialism if it is intended to benefit the landlord; but the point I desire to make in reply is this, that under this Clause, as drafted, a public spirited landlord, desiring to engage in afforestation, even without the Amendment which has been moved from the Front Opposition Bench, will receive very substantial assistance. Subsection (a) of this Clause provides for "Forestry, including the purchase and planting of land, the conducting of inquiries, experiments, and research for the purpose of promoting forestry and the teaching of methods of afforestation." The private owner of land who desires to begin afforestation will benefit from all this and from these experiments, and from the schools of afforestation about to be set up, and therefore, although a private individual will not be able to obtain funds for carrying out the work under the Bill as it stands, and as, I hope, it will remain, he will benefit very considerably from these provisions if he desires to engage in afforestation.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I will answer the questions put to me by the hon. Member when we come to those particular words which deal with the matter in the Bill.
§ Mr. IVOR GUEST
I think the object of the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman is one with which I am familiar, namely, to obtain a grant in aid of private afforestation. We heard a good deal of it upon the Committee stage upstairs. I think a private individual has considerable difficulty, which often has a very serious effect with regard to afforestation, but I do not think the State will be doing a wise thing either from a public or a businesslike point of view to advance money for private afforestation. The security is really not enough. The 2222 value of a forest depends largely upon the way in which it is managed and cared for, and the way in which it is treated. It is a well-known fact that one of the great difficulties in, connection with woods is that they have been regarded too much as game-preserving areas rather than as timber producing areas. And there is really no guarantee that these areas which are to be brought under afforestation should be treated differently from their predecessors. The opinion come to by the Commission upon which I served, and the opinion which was generally shared by the members of the Commission to whatever party they belonged was that the business of afforestation would be much better conducted by the State. I am delighted under the Bill that we have got powers to acquire land compulsorily. With these powers I feel that much more practical and real advance would be made in afforestation through a public Department than could possibly be the case if left to the assisted energies of private individuals. I, therefore, think that quite apart from the general grounds stated by the Solicitor-General with which I fully agree it would be disastrous if the State were to embark upon a system of advances to private individuals.
§ Sir FRANCIS POWELL
I confess I do not feel myself able as now advised to agree with my right hon. Friend who proposed this Amendment. On the contrary, when I saw these words in the Bill I rejoiced because it occurred to me that they were a departure, and, as I think, a wholesome departure from the vicious policy of administering everything by Department. I believe this is a wise change in the Bill, and a change of an important and decisive character. It gives more elasticity, more freedom, and more prospect of change in the direction of favouring science. I welcome the introduction of the universities in this Clause, and I do so all the more because I have the honour of occupying the position of honorary treasurer to the Leeds University, and, therefore, I know how difficult the work is. The council of the West Riding are considering an application for further grants, but I doubt whether their resources will enable them to comply with our request. When a Clause of this kind is passed and the universities can make out a case they will receive financial aid from the Government and I believe that aid will be highly beneficial. The Department dealing with research has special mention in this Clause, and there are many objects dealt with in its sub-sec- 2223 tions which may be promoted by such institutions as I have named. I hope I may be permitted to express my regret at the great loss that our University sustained by the death of Lord Ripon, our late Chancellor, who, during many years, bestowed upon us the greatest care and attention. I hope these words will be retained for the reasons I have mentioned.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) asked whether garden cities would be included in the institutions and companies which would not receive a grant because they were trading for profit. I believe he asked that question because garden city companies limit their profits to five per cent. I should have thought that a company which earned a dividend was certainly a company trading for profit, and whether the dividend is five, four, or ten per cent. has nothing to do with it. May I point out that five per cent. in the case of an English company is an extremely good dividend, and if the hon. Member desires to invest his money at more than five per cent. he will have to go out of this country. It is hard to obtain dividends of that kind in this country, although it is easy abroad. The words "not trading for profit" were words put down in an Amendment of mine which has been taken up and improved by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The discussion has turned a great deal upon afforestation, but may I point out that the power in the Bill to advance money is not limited to afforestation, but includes any quantity of subjects, including "the economic development of the United Kingdom," although I do not know exactly what that means. What would be the position of the Commissioners if they were empowered to advance money to private individuals or companies trading for profit, or for anything which could be conceived to tend to the economic development of the United Kingdom? The first thing that would happen would be that the money would not go round, and a few would get special advantages, whilst a number of private companies trading for profit would be able to say, "This is hard upon us because we have as much right to obtain these advantages as our rivals." The Commissioners may say, "Yes, that may be so, but we cannot give money to everybody, and as money is short and we have got £2,500,000 only, we have exhausted all our money." Surely that is not the object of the Bill. I understood that the Chancellor of the 2224 Exchequer and the Solicitor-General said when this measure was before the Committee upstairs that this was not a Bill to give doles or to find work for people who were unemployed. The first thing you have got to do is to see that it is not going to people who are going to make a profit out of it, and it should go to the Government Department, who will see that the money is used for the benefit of everybody in the United Kingdom. Personally I do not think anything will result except that £2,500,000 will be lost. I hope this money will be limited to public institutions, because we do not want to start a scramble for public money either among private companies or private individuals, whether they happen to be landowners, trade unionists, or anything else.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I moved my Amendment in order to ask for information in regard to the object of the addition of these words. I got that information, and although I do not agree with what fell from the Government, I shall not press my Amendment any further. My object was to ascertain whether the advances to be made were to be strictly limited, as I am afraid they must be, to the institutions and associations named in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. W. C. BRIDGEMAN moved, in Subsection (1), after the word "to" ["or through a Government Department to"], to insert "the Light Railway Commissioners, or."
§ I put down this Amendment in order to get some light upon what the position of the Light Railway Commissioners will be if this Bill becomes law. I endeavoured by a question to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to find out whether there would be in future two bodies dealing with these questions, and the right hon. Gentleman said that as far as he could understand these proposals the Light Railway Commissioners were not going to be done away with, and there would be two bodies. I think a good many hon. Members will agree with me, that of all the methods for the development of our rural districts—more especially those which are poor and remote—light railways are the most useful and helpful. The reason why the present Light Railway Commissioners have not been able to show more favourable results is largely due to the fact that they have been short of money, and they have not been able to finance many schemes which would have been highly 2225 beneficial to various districts. I do not know whether under this Bill the Light Railway Commissioners are going to be in the future a sort of sub-department under the five Commissioners to be appointed under this Bill or whether they are going to remain independent, as they are at the present time. It seems to me that the three Light Railway Commissioners are not overworked at the present time, and I should have thought it would have been useful to have enlisted their services in regard to rural transport and light railways. I should have thought it would have been far better to have placed that part of the scheme entirely under the control of the present Light Railway Commissioners, who have had much more experience of the work than can be afforded by any new Commissioners to be hereafter appointed. It appears to me that under this Bill you are going to appoint five more Commissioners who will have to do, amongst other things, the work which has been very well done up to the present by the Light Railway Commissioners. I hope the Government will be able to throw some light upon the very unsettled position which the Light Railway Commissioners occupy. At present we cannot understand what their functions will be, and we do not know whether they will have any additional duties or whether any of their present functions will be taken away. I do not move this Amendment in any hostile spirit to the Bill, but in order to get some information from the Government, which I think a good many hon. Members will be glad to have.
§ Mr. ARTHUR FELL seconded the Amendment.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I can tell the hon. Member in a very few words what the position of the Light Railway Commissioners will be. He has asked me whether they will have any additional powers under this Bill, or whether any of their present powers will be taken away from them. My answer is that they will remain in exactly the same position as they are now, and they are not to be superseded in any kind of way. There was a suggestion made upstairs that the Commissioners under this Bill ought to be the Light Railway Commissioners. I daresay there will be a proposal of that kind made, and I will deal with it when it arises. There are only three Light Railway Commissioners, and there are five Commissioners provided for under this Bill. The powers of the Light Railway Commissioners under 2226 the Light Railways Act will remain after this Bill is passed precisely as they are at the present moment. Probably the hon. Member only moved his Amendment in order to get information, but, if it were pressed and carried, it would mean that the Development Commissioners might recommend to the Treasury that an advance might be made to the Light Railway Commissioners, who are in no sense an administrative body, and have not a penny to administer. They merely inquire generally locally, and they make a report to the Board of Trade, which the Board of Trade may or may not adopt, as they think just and proper in the circumstances. I hope I have satisfied the hon. Member, and that I have also shown him that his Amendment is entirely impracticable. There never was any intention to advance money to these people, who have no administration of money at all. It may be possible that these two bodies will work together in harmony. Supposing the Light Railway Commissioners recommend a scheme as one which would justify an advance, I have no doubt their recommendation would have great weight with the Development Commissioners.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I am very much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his reply, but he has not satisfied ma on one point. Is it going to be impossible for the present Light Railway Commissioners to get any money out of this Development Grant and use it in the way they are using their money now? There are, in my opinion, few better ways in which development money could be used than in giving it to the Light Railway Commissioners to use in exactly the same way as they are using their money now.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The Light Railway Commissioners do not receive a penny now, and, if this money were given to them, they could not use it. They are a body to deal with applications made by companies or associations of persons for powers to make light railways. They have to report to the Board of Trade, and they have not a single penny of public money for the purpose of carrying out a light railway. I think I know what is in the hon. Member's mind. He thinks that under this Bill you could not advance money for the purposes of a light railway except through the Light Railway Commissioners. There are two bodies under the Light Railways Act, 1906, to whom certain moneys are to be given 2227 Those moneys, amounting to £250,000, are nearly exhausted, only about £50,000 remaining. It will therefore be very useful to have this Development Grant, which can be applied for the purpose of constructing a light railway, within the terms of the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The Act of 1906 provides that the total amount advanced by the Treasury at any one time shall not exceed £1,000,000. Will it be possible or impossible to increase to that amount?
§ Mr. STEWART BOWLES
Would it not be perfectly open to the Development Commissioners under this Bill, if they saw fit, to recommend to the Treasury that an advance should be made to the Light Railway Commissioners?
§ Mr. BOWLES
That being so, is it not clear you may have two distinct authorities making inquiries into the same problem? Wherever the need for a light railway made itself seriously felt, you would inevitably have applications made both to the Light Railway Commissioners and to the Development Commissioners, and you will have an overlapping which it appears to me ought to be avoided.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made: In Sub-section (1), after the word "college" ["to a public authority, university, college"], to insert the word "or."
§ After the word "or" ["college, institution, or association"] to insert the word "an."
§ Mr. FELL moved to leave out the words "(not trading for profit.)"
§ This Amendment is also down in the name of an hon. Member who sits on the Government Benches, and, having support from both sides of the House, I am glad to move it so that we can decide this point at an early hour. The question is whether an enterprise can best be carried out by a company or an association of persons which seeks to make a profit out of it. In my opinion no work is clone so well as that which is done in the expectation and hope of gain. People have then not only their heart in the enterprise, but they have also money in it. Consequently, they take far 2228 greater interest in the undertaking, look after the email expenses, and do things economically, which is the secret of success in all enterprises. The work of such persons is far better than that of any association of experts, who may be extremely clever in their work, but who, as a rule, are inferior men of business. The undertakings towards which grants may be made under this Bill are, many of them, such as can only be successfully conducted by a company trading for a profit. For instance, if drainage works are to be successful, there must be an ultimate profit. Why should not an undertaking of that kind receive the support of development money, and why should not a loan be made to the persons who do it best? The land itself, no doubt, would be given as security for the loan. A subsequent part of the Bill provides what shall be done with profits and receipts coming into the hands of the Commissioners. In this way profits might be earned by the Development Commissioners, and they would be able to invest them and always keep the fund increasing. They would, by lending in this way for the development of the country, increase their profits and do greater good than if the whole of the funds were expended on unprofitable undertakings. We have had examples of experimental farming in this country. Can anyone say that works of the kind carried out by Sir John Bennett Lawes have not been of enormous benefit to the country? They, I hope, resulted in a profit. It is to the interest of everyone that such undertakings should result in a profit. The more successful they are, the more actual proof there is of their value. There is a very great difference between mere experiments and doing a thing successfully on a commercial basis. If companies can show their experiments have resulted in a profit, they will be all the more valuable. To take another illustration, the construction and improvement of canals would be best carried out by a company. The Development Commissioners might say that it is desirable that a canal should be widened and brought up to date, and they might easily arrange to let the canal company, which at present can do nothing and cannot raise any money, have a loan for the purpose of putting the canal under their supervision in a proper condition for traffic. That undertaking might bring profits. I hope it would. The more profit it paid, the better it would be for the country and everyone concerned. The Development 2229 Commissioners would thus get a valuable asset, and it would tend to the development of the country. The matter is of immense importance. It was decided in the Committee upstairs against me, but I hope that this House will take a broader view. There are, I know, many Members who are engaged in business and who know that business is best conducted by people who have money in it, and I hope they will support me on the present occasion.
§ Mr. R. PEARCE
I should not have proposed to press this Amendment to a Division, because if the Government will adopt it there is no occasion, and if they do not adopt it there is no use. I rather gather, from what the Solicitor-General has said, that the mind of the Government is already made up on this particular point, and it is thought that the words "not trading for profit" are intended to protect and safeguard in some way this money from going into the hands of private persons for their own advantage. I think we may trust the Treasury to see that that is not done. Having regard to the various objects which are to be undertaken under this particular Clause, the Treasury may well be trusted not to give away money to private persons. But they need not, at the same time, deprive themselves of the power, in case necessity should arise, of having the assistance of an association or company which, although it trades for profit, may undertake such works as are here sketched out for the benefit of the public. I believe there are companies which do undertake reclamation works, and work in connection with canals and harbours, but these, under the terms imposed under this Clause, could not be entrusted with public money for public purposes, although undoubtedly they would carry out the work much more effectively and in a far better way than it would be done by a dilettante Department of the Government—firms such as those which undertake such works as the barrage of the Nile and the drainage of the Shannon might well be entrusted with undertakings like those specified in this Clause.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I desire to put a question to the Solicitor-General in connection with this subject, and it is whether co-operative associations, which are specifically named in paragraph (b), could successfully go on without making some profit? It seems to me that to some extent Sub-section (1), which prohibits trading for profit, or prohibits grants being made by 2230 the Treasury to any association of persons trading for profit, clashes with paragraph (b), as the latter absolutely encourages the Treasury to give advances of money in order to provide instruction and experiments in methods and practice of agriculture and co-operation. The advances which have been made in Ireland for the purposes of co-operation are most distinctly advances to associations which would otherwise fail. I do not know whether it would do to make it read "private profit." It seems to me if paragraph (b) is to hold good we cannot contemplate, after the passing of this Bill into law, the exclusion of any association which, in the course of its natural business, will make a profit, or attempt to do so. It has been suggested that the exclusion of profit means the exclusion of profit by the governing body of such an institution as the Reading University. It is quite true that the governing body of Reading University do not conduct that university with the intention of making a profit, but I venture to say that the poultry farm and other farms connected with the university are conducted with a view to making a profit. I should suppose that the manager of the poultry farm would not consider that he was doing his duty by the university unless he could show a profit on his balance-sheet, or, at any rate, that it was costing as little as possible to the association which started that particular farm. It seems to me then that there is really a very great difficulty in defining exactly what is meant by running a concern for profit. If you come to deal with the educational institutions of the country, putting aside others, you will find it very difficult to draw an exact line, whether in sending in your balance-sheet, you show a profit or not. But we may go a step beyond that. It seems to me to apply to almost all this list of objects for which money may be advanced. Take for instance, the question of afforestation. Here is the private owner of a large estate—I happen to have one in my mind—it is in Devonshire—who has had a vast number of trees planted on his estate. If that landowner takes the advice of one of the experts in forestry attached to one of the educational institutions, surely that advice is very closely connected with the profit which the landowner will, we hope, reap from the advice of the expert in teaching him how to plant the trees, and how to keep his forests in the best possible way for the advantage of the estate. It very largely helps to employ labour 2231 on the estate, and, if there is any profit, then it seems to me that the labour cannot be employed therefore. There again you find yourselves running very closely in contact with various forms of profit, and I very much doubt if there is any of the objects named in this list which is not more or less closely connected with profit for those concerned. Certainly the construction and improvement of harbours and canals represents undertakings largely connected with profit. Again, the general improvement of rural transport, including the construction of light railways, is a matter closely connected with profit, and unless you get a profit you do not carry out what are, after all, the practical objects of this Bill.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The more I consider the words which we are now discussing, the more I confess I share the difficulty and bewilderment of the hon. Member who has just sat down. What is his position? A number of bodies are entitled, under the Clause as it stands now, to receive advances from the Development Fund upon one condition, which is, that they are not trading for profit. What does "not trading for profit" mean? I take it that a person who intends or expects to make a profit by his undertaking is trading for profit. On this point I must ask for some enlightenment from the learned Solicitor-General. Does it include a person who intends and expects to make a profit, but who has failed in making a profit? Will such a person be entitled to receive an advance? If such a man is entitled to receive an advance under such circumstances I confess I do not think it likely the experiment will be repeated. If he is to be disqualified in case he intends or expects to make a profit, where are these advances to go, and who is going to apply them? Are they to be granted only upon the Committee's opinion that these bodies do not make or do not intend or expect to make a profit. I confess I am totally at a loss to understand what the meaning of this part of the Bill is. If those who intend or expect to make a profit are excluded by the words at the end, "not trading for profit," and if those who are to be entitled to advances are to be limited to those who have failed to make a profit, your Bill is going to work very badly indeed. The hon. Member who last spoke instanced among the subjects mentioned in paragraph (b) co-operation. Co-operation is always governed by these 2232 preceding words, so far as I understand the Bill. But I have always believed, I still believe, and I shall continue to believe until I am better informed, that the whole system and principle of co-operation is based upon profit—upon the expectation of profit. If that were not so co-operative associations would not exist at all. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to give us some further enlightenment on the subject, because as it stands at present I look upon this as one of the most remarkable clauses ever introduced.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The point now being discussed is one which has already been deliberated upon. I do not propose to enter into the general question raised by the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Fell), because I do not think they are strictly applicable to this Amendment, whether or not an enterprise is to be carried out by a company or by somebody subsidised by a Government Department. My hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment suggested that it was no use pressing it, because the Government's decision was like the laws of the Medes and Persians. That certainly has not been the case in regard either to this Bill or to another Bill which is very closely connected with it—the Finance Bill. No doubt when the Committee upstairs debated the matter it came to a rather abrupt determination, because when I gave my reasons for excluding either companies or persons trading for profit the general view appeared to be that there was no further necessity for discussing the point. I have been asked for some definition of the words "not trading for profit." I have been asked whether they cover the case of a man who intended to make a profit but who failed to do so. My answer is that it does not depend on intention, expectation, or failure; it does not depend whether ultimately some profit accrues to some individual.
Take the case which is put by my hon. Friend as to the working of an experimental farm. No doubt people who have expended on their farm hope some time or other to profit by their expenditure, but that is not the kind of trading we are dealing with here. The truth of the matter is we are dividing here the societies, so to speak, in two classes—people who can secure some advance and people who cannot. We say those who trade for profit—whether co-operative societies or any other society whose object is to trade for their own profit—cannot get the 2233 advance. On the other hand, if their object is to provide this public money for public purposes, they can get it under the Bill. That is the division we clearly make. There are just two exceptions to which I would invite the attention of the Committee a little later, and upon which I would like a little guidance from the Committee. There are some classes of work which no doubt are better carried on if certain companies who do work of that kind are assisted—works which really are public works, such, for instance, as light railways and harbours. It may very well be that a company will not embark upon a light railway unless there is some subsidy given to it. It would not be given to that company, but I have put down a proviso that such companies are not to be regarded as companies trading for profit. The effect of it would be to make it possible for county councils to arrange with a particular company that a light railway should be built, but with the benefits accruing to the public, and not to the light railway people. That is one possible case. The other case is the case of harbours. It might very well be that a harbour has either to be constructed or improved, and that it can only be done, or can be better done, by using a body of trustees, who will no doubt carry on business, when that harbour is constructed, with the object of making a profit. I do not want to discuss those matters now I have considered those matters fully in conjunction with the Bill, and I have put a proviso down in order to see whether, with the assistance of the Committee, in those cases where the work done is so closely allied to public work, exceptions might not be made, not by way of making advances to the companies but by way of making advances to public authorities, who themselves might make terms with the companies in regard to the construction of works which will be inure to the benefit of the people in the locality. I mention these possible exceptions now as having a bearing in this matter, but the Government are quite determined to adhere to the dividing line, namely, that the recipients of these advances must be people who do not, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, trade for profit.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman has left us still in a position of some difficulty. He has explained very clearly that the object of the Government is to prevent those who are manifestly 2234 trading for profit. He says the Government must draw a dividing line. I have in mind a particular phrase I heard in a very important Debate in the House a few weeks ago during the passage of the Finance Bill. I am bound to bring this matter up, because we on this side of the House are in a difficulty. To-day we have heard from the learned Solicitor-General a definition of these institutions which is diametrically opposed to the definition given by the Secretary for War when speaking for the Government on an entirely different occasion. We were urging consideration for certain institutions, schools and colleges, which, having bought property, ought to be released from certain obligations. We were told by the Secretary of State for War that they were institutions trading for profit, although we contended that they came exactly under the description just given by the Solicitor-General—that is to say, that whatever profit might be made by those institutions, none of it goes to any particular individual. I think the learned Solicitor-General will see that this is of very great importance. I would ask whether those words are meant to apply solely to the word "company" or whether in the event of institutions making a profit those institutions would be debarred from receiving any grant. As a result of the general work carried on by them, certain institutions make a profit which is not only declared, but is used for the extension of their operations. Would there be any risk of the particular words in the Bill debarring them from receiving an advance. The case I have in my mind is the case of the Dauntsey School. They embarked upon very considerable work not of an experimental character, but of an educational character. They took considerable areas of land in order that they might train pupils in farming. Profit has obviously accrued to the institution, and the profit has resulted in a very large extension of the operations, probably additions to buildings and a considerable improvement in the salaries of those connected with the institution. Will the words proposed cover cases of that kind? There are a many of these agricultural schools and colleges throughout the country. Are they to be shut out from the receipt of such grants and deprived of the benefits under this Bill?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The words "not trading for profit" are intended to govern, and do govern, the words "association of 2235 persons or company," and, therefore, they do not limit at all the preceding words. It is really for the express purpose of making it clearer than it was before that I moved the small drafting Amendment. It will now read thus: "To a public authority, university, college, or institution, or to associations of persons or companies not trading for profit." The words "not trading for profit" ought not to be in brackets.
§ Mr. LONG
Does it cover the whole of my case? The words "association of persons" are the words I attach importance to, for the reason that some of the colleges have bodies of trustees who hold the funds and expend the money. They are an association of persons who carry on amongst other things a large school. We, as trustees, carry on two large schools, but we are an "association of persons," and I take it that under the words of this Bill we should be held to be trading for profit, because we charge for the school teaching, and do our best to make it a remunerative institution. I am very much afraid that the words "association of persons," read with the words "trading for profit," would debar an association such as the agricultural school I have in my mind from benefiting under the Bill.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The institution to which the right hon. Gentleman refers would not be an institution or company, or association trading for profit at all. If the right hon. Gentleman proposes that the word "school" should be added I do not mind. All we want to provide is that private companies shall not be recipients of those monies for their own private ends.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I do not know what the word "institution" may mean, but it is quite clear from the speech of the Solicitor-General that public authorities, universities, colleges, and institutions are entitled to receive grants even if those associations do trade for profit. The special point I want to ask about is this: Is it lawful, under Clause 1, for the Commissioners to make a grant to a co-operative society? There is a great distinction between "co-operation" in line 18 and the word "company" in line 11. Co-operation in line 18 is the creamery movement in Ireland. A co-operative society in Ireland is essentially an urban trading association. The hon. and learned Gentleman says the ordinary co-operative society cannot have a grant. Why not? 2236 And if a co-operative society is trading for profit, why does it not pay Income Tax? The reason is because, technically, they do not trade for a profit. There is no doubt that a university trades for profit. The reason for the inclusion of co-operative societies is that they do not trade for profit and that their profits are not divided within the meaning of the Income Tax Acts. On the other hand, a university which does not give out a dividend does, within the meaning of the Income Tax Acts, trade for profit, and, accordingly, pays Income Tax. We are going to be in great confusion unless we make it perfectly clear that an association of persons, or a company not trading for profit, does not conflict in any way with the aiding and development of co-operation and so on, which comes in the next paragraph, because, as it stands at present, there is a distinct conflict between the co-operation as indicated in the first few lines of the Bill and the co-operation as indicated in paragraph (b). There is a great deal of anxiety on this point outside. Some people think, reading this, that ordinary co-operative societies will be entitled to receive grants. It would be well that we should have an assurance from the Solicitor-General as to the meaning of these words, so that he can satisfy a certain amount of anxiety which he himself must wish to allay.
§ Mr. CHARLES M'ARTHUR
I hope my hon. Friend, after the explanation that has been given, will not persist in his Amendment, because I shall be bound to vote against it. I think these words, "not trading for profit," are exceedingly important, and should be retained at any cost. I hold very strongly that the province of the Government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves, and, on that ground, I think it would be a great mistake if Government subsidies were intruded into the sphere of private enterprise. It would take away the spirit of independence and self-reliance which is so characteristic of our trade at present, and it would lead to public money being spent for private gain. I hold very strongly that these words should be retained. I agree very much with the remarks of the Noble Lord (Lord Balcarres) as to whether co-operative societies are really excluded by these words "not trading for profit." I do not suppose co-operative societies would be eligible to receive the grant direct, but is there anything to prevent money being given to a 2237 public body, and the public body making a grant to a co-operative society? The question may be asked as to whether the ordinary co-operative society does really trade for profit. What it does, I understand, is that it buys at wholesale prices, and sells to its members at retail prices, makes a certain profit, and then divides it by way of dividend among its members. That may be profit from one point of view, but from another it may be returning to these members their own money, and, of course, you have to bear in mind that these co-operative societies do not pay Income Tax. I have an Amendment dealing with the question of the introduction of the word "co-operation." That is what causes the real danger. If these words "not trading for profit" stood alone, it might exclude co-operative societies. I strongly hold that these words are very desirable to lay down a guiding principle, and that the money which the State is to give under this. Bill shall be given clearly for public objects, educational objects, and for the development of trade and industry in a manner which a private individual cannot do for himself, but which, when it is done, will be advantageous to the whole commercial community, and not to one class more than another.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
We are really arriving at a practical agreement as to the position in which co-operation should stand. What we want to do is to give greater definiteness to the position of the word "co-operation" in this Clause. What I conceive the words under discussion to mean is to justify the course which the Board of Agriculture is authorised to take with regard to the Agricultural Organisation Society. That is not a society trading for profit, but a society using a certain amount of means contributed by voluntary subscribers, and a certain subvention from the Board of Agriculture, in order to encourage those forms of co-operative effort which are likely to contribute most to the success of agriculture, both among big farmers and among small holders. That is really the whole object of the Bill, and it seems to me that the retention of these words is absolutely necessary. We are on perfectly safe and justifiable lines in advancing money to societies which promote those methods among farmers, big and small, which will result in profit to those individual farmers.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I would ask the Solicitor-General to clear up the point 2238 raised by my right hon. Friend in order to make it clear that the schools to which he refers will not be included in "institutions trading for profit," but that in another place he will have the words "school" introduced after "college."
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I will certainly do that. The question put to me by various speakers is whether or not co-operative societies, generally so-called, trading to a very large extent, would be societies trading for profit, and therefore excluded from the possibility of having an advance under the Bill. The matter has been most clearly put by the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Channing) in the distinction he made between a co-operative society and what we mean by the promotion of co-operation in the second paragraph. I know there has been a great deal of apprehension amongst tradesmen, who quite rightly object to subsidies being given to societies which compete with them, that these societies would come in by reason of something which is included darkly and mysteriously in the word "co-operation." I have, for instance, the prospectus of a co-operative society dealing with all sorts of things—grocery, wholesale, hundreds of pounds; retail, some thousands of pounds; altogether amounting to very nearly £100,000. Tradesmen are afraid that societies of that kind would receive a subsidy under the Clause, but it is absolutely impossible that they should do so. The question raised by the Noble Lord (Lord Balcarres) as to the decision of the Income Tax Commissioners whether Income Tax shall be charged on the income of the society as a whole, or on the combined incomes of various small people, is totally different. There can be no question that they are trading for a profit.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
On this point I may say that co-operative societies repudiate any kind of suggestion that they were to be, or wanted to be, subsidised. They are openly societies trading for profit. The people who find the capital to carry on the societies pay interest on the debt, and the people trading with the societies are paying dividends on their purchases. The reason, I understand, why the profits of these societies are not assessed for Income Tax is that the presumption is that the members composing them are persons whose income is not liable to Income Tax, and if the Income Tax was collected from the profits of the society it would entail the tremendous trouble and expense of refunding it to each 2239 of the members individually, but the co-operators, with splendid, sturdy independence, would be the first to repudiate any kind of suggestion that they either want, or will accept, help under the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I do not quite understand whether it is the view of the Solicitor-General that a society like the Agricultural Organisation Society can get a grant or not. I cannot follow him in the distinction between that and any other co-operative society. It seems to me that it is distinctly a society trading for profit amongst its members.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I do not think that is quite correct. The Agricultural Organisation Society has taken part in organising a business department, but the Agricultural Organisation Society does not trade for profit at all.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I understand that one of the classes of work done by the Agricultural Organisation Society is to buy large quantities of manure in bulk and to retail them to its members, and in that way not only do the members get an advantage, but a profit is made which extends the scope of the work of the society. I think that is an admirable thing, but I should like to point to the House that it is a little unfair to individual tradesmen that the members of the society should, apart from the great advantage of co-operation, and of trading on such a large scale, have the additional advantage as against private tradesmen of a possible grant under this Act. It does seem to me that it is very difficult indeed to distinguish between the work of that society and the work of any other co-operative society. I am apprehensive as to what would happen if grants were made to such a society as this. Grants would be claimed by other societies, and they could be justly claimed if a grant were made to this society.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
Was the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing) speaking of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society?
§ Mr. DILLON
Now that this question has been raised I would respectfully ask the Solicitor-General to say that there is no possibility of granting money to this 2240 society. That is the whole question raised in connection with the society. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the Irish society in a indirect way is trading for profit, and it affords a good illustration of the awful abuses that may arise under such an arrrangement. The Agricultural Organisation Society in Ireland did succeed in getting a large grant of public money, and that grant grew by leaps and bounds until it reached £5,000 or £6,000. The grant was absolutely cut off on account of the state of public feeling in Ireland, and now the society is thrown on its own resources. The position I have taken up with respect to that society is that it should be perfectly free to carry on its operations, and that if it wants to engage in trade in any form it must go on its own resources, just as co-operative societies in this country have to do. The co-operative societies of this country have never sought aid from the public taxes. I know nothing of the operations of the Agricultural Organisation Society of this country, but if it is organised on a similar basis to the Agricultural Organisation Society of Ireland, which we do understand and if it engages indirectly in trading operations, then I say it has no right to gel a grant of public money. I think that point ought to be made perfectly clear. We had in Ireland a good deal of angry feeling and discussion with respect to the work of the society there, and we succeeded in cutting off all public grants. The English society should not be in a position to get grants from the Development Fund if it engages in trading operations in competition with private tradesmen. I wish to be distinctly understood. If the Agricultural Organisation Society of this country is organised on a different basis, and if its object is to assist farmers by education, the organisation of traffic, and the putting of goods on the market, then let it get support from public funds, but if it is going to be a trading corporation, no matter under what disguise, coming into competition with the taxpayers of the country, then I say it would be most unjust that it should get any grant from this fund.
§ Mr. J. S. AINSWORTH
I wish to urge one point on the consideration of the Committee. I am not sure that we have got what can be regarded as altogether the best form of words for the purpose of differentiating societies which are performing public work from those which are trading for a profit. I take it that an 2241 tion which is engaged in any kind of business may be said, broadly, to be trading for profit, because it is, at any rate, endeavouring to make both ends meet. I would suggest the insertion of the words "not trading for the division of profit." If the profits made are used for the public objects of the society, of course that is all right, but if the profits are intended to be divided among the members, of course that Would mean that the society is unfairly competing with the ordinary traders of the country. I would suggest to my hon. Friend that he should propose some words which would make it clear that the profits made are to be used for public purposes.
§ Mr. DENIS KILBRIDE
My experience of the Agricultural Organisation Society in Ireland makes me think that the suggestion offered by the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Ainsworth) is impractical. The hon. Member apparently has not had any experience of the Irish society. This is what happened in some instances when it went in for trading on a large scale. Take the case of the association in Carlow. It went in for the supply of all kinds of agricultural machinery at a cheaper rate than that at which farmers could buy in the ordinary way of trade. The society having gone in for the supply of that particular branch of farmers' requisites came a "cropper." If, on the other hand, it had made a profit, the result might have been the stopping of shops of all descriptions. It would have sold tea, sugar, and all the household requisites of the farmer. It might have made a profit in supplying these non-agricultural articles, and the profit so made could have been applied to cover the loss incurred on the other branch of the business. If the suggestion of the hon. Member opposite were acted upon, the result would be the creation of associations which would come into competition with the grocer, and the profits made on the sale of ordinary household requisites would be applied to meet losses incurred in other ways. The Agricultural Organisation Society might say that it was not paying a divided or trading for profit, but that would not have the effect of preventing it from trading in articles which the general public require, as well as in articles which are required by farmers. The society, therefore, would come into unfair competition with the ordinary traders in the country. We do not want to see such societies started with Government grants and competing with the traders in the country in the supply of ordinary provisions. I am sure the hon. 2242 Member opposite does not desire that, but the adoption of his suggestion would certainly have that effect.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I beg to move out the words "either by way of free grant or" in Sub-section (1). This Amendment is one which touches a vital principle of the Bill, and materially modifies what I regard as the very extravagant arrangement proposed by the Government. In the first place, I would point to precedent as an argument in favour of the Amendment. I submit that we have various statutes enabling localities or associations to carry out important national work. These statutes point to the expediency of the national Exchequer in certain circumstances advancing moneys to enable localities to do particular kinds of work. I do not think, however, that any precedent can be found in which the State has relieved a locality absolutely of all the financial responsibilities which must fall upon them. In the case of the Education Act the grants for buildings ceased with the end of 1873. The building of schools, necessary as these were, was recognised as part of a national duty which should be laid upon the locality, and all the State did was to recognise the schools once they were built and established by local efforts, and to give them Imperial grants. Surely this sound and wholesome financial precedent, which has never been broken so far as I know, is all the more necessary under an Act like this which opens an absolutely unbounded range of experiment. It is limited to no special object. It embraces every possible proposal, and some of us would say every possible fad, that can be started in the brains of theorists. For these objects aid will be sought by localities without themselves putting their hands in their pockets for a single farthing of the cost.
Surely then the precedent so firmly established in our previous legislation ought to be followed when we are now starting an entirely new, and, as I think, a dangerous and indefinite line of expense. But more than that is established by laying on the locality a certain amount of responsibility. You not only put a good financial check upon the locality, but you also bring home the healthy 2243 feeling of responsibility. The House may rest assured that responsibility will not be very largely given to those who do not put their hands in their pockets. The result of this process of lavishly meeting these necessities by Imperial grants and not embodying in your Bill any local responsibility for the financial part of your scheme will undoubtedly mean that the localities will lose their authority and their influence in the matter, and that we shall have an extension of the bureaucracy which it seems to be the ideal of the present Government to spread over the length of the land. Do you think that these new Commissioners of the Treasury, officials or others, who hand out these lavish grants, will allow a locality which may spend nothing to have very much say as regards the line which the new ventures are to follow? With the financial responsibility the administrative responsibility will be gradually absorbed into the hands of the central Government, of the bureaucracy which I for one dread as one of the greatest dangers hanging over our country. You will find no interest among the local people in a matter for which they have no responsibility, and in regard to which they cannot with any reason assert that they ought to have any large responsibility in reference to the administration. It may be said that there are localities which may be very poor, and that they may not be able to get any advantage if you place upon them any financial responsibility, although these poorest localities are the very localities which you wish to help. That is a totally different question; that is a matter of adjusting the burdens of local rates. It is a matter which must be dealt with in a rating Bill, and which ought not to be dealt with in an administrative Bill of this sort imposing large financial responsibilities.
It is idle to say you have to help the poorest localities, and that unless you help them generously, without any condition that they shall put their hands into their pockets, you cannot help them at all. Give them aid by readjusting your local rate, giving, if you like, special grants in aid of localities where the rateable value is very small in proportion to the population, but do not mix this up in a vague indefinite way with what is primarily an administrative measure. Who is to judge which of the localities would be most in need of this money? May not any Member 2244 of this House on behalf of his constituency argue strongly that, although the proportion between the rateable value and the population in the locality is not particularly heavy, yet there are special circumstances to be considered. He will, with all the force of rhetoric at his command and with all the force of the powerful electioneering motives, which will be in the background all the time, urge these special circumstances as reasons why a lavish grant should be given to his particular constituency, or to the locality in which he is interested, without asking too many particulars as to the amount which that locality in itself subscribes. You should confine these aids only to loans. This is a principle which has been fully recognised in our legislation, a principle the carrying out of which was one of the main objects of establishing the Public Works Loan Commissioners, a body which. I presume, is now to be practically superseded if you are to do the work by lavish grants from the central authority. There is another reason why that principle should be specially applied in the administration of this Bill. We are told that these grants are for development, that they are to develop the nation's wealth, that they are in all cases to be remunerative, and that they will be tapping new sources of revenue, and will be mines of wealth. If that is the case, who will reap the first proceeds of this Bill? Who will be the first to draw from that very fertile harvest which these development schemes are to bring forth? Surely the locality in which such results are produced will find no difficulty in repaying the loan.
In a company or a business transaction we are told, as an inducement to give money to it, that it will be remunerative, and not only will pay its own expenses, but will enable a return to be obtained on the money which is given. Let the money advanced by the Treasury be as capital supplied by them with which the scheme of development is to be carried out. In that way you will create a healthy interest in the work in the locality; you will put into the locality a sense of financial responsibility, and, what is even more important in my mind, you will preserve for the locality and for those interested in the locality and in carrying out the schemes, the direct administration of this development in their own area. Remember this one further fact: Many of these grants will enable localities, whether their schemes of development turn out to be remunerative 2245 or not, to claim further very lavish statutory grants from the Treasury, and you will be paying out money from the Treasury in order to enable localities to establish a claim upon you for these special statutory grants. You may get grants, for instance, for technical institutions, and very lavish grants, but the check upon these grants has simply been this, that in every Education Act and in every scheme for education which has ever received the assent of this House there has been the sure check that the locality commanding that grant must equally put its own hand into its pocket. That keeps your grants within certain limits. But here you provide the capital sum which is to enable these localities, with no expenditure of their own and without the trouble of putting their hands in their pockets, while throwing all financial responsibility back upon the central government, to come down upon you at a later time for statutory grants under the Education Acts and the Technical Schools Acts. Can anything be more preposterous as schemes of sound, sane, economic administration? Surely we are doing enough if we enable these localities to obtain loans on which they will pay a moderate rate of interest, or, if special localities require special aid, let them be dealt with on the grounds of their pauper character by special enactment regarding the incidence of local rates. But do let us in establishing a new principle, in instituting an entirely new scheme of national expenditure, keep that certain check upon it which is implied in making no grants save loans on which interest is to be paid.
§ Mr. CECIL HARMSWORTH
In seconding the Amendment I desire to dissociate myself from the somewhat gloomy view of the Mover. My object is mainly an inquisitive one. I wish to ascertain from my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General (Sir Samuel Evans) if he can find time to give me an explanation of what exactly is the precise moaning of the words which it is proposed to omit. Because, from the point of view of one who is not a lawyer and who has not had the advantage of hearing the discussion in the Committee upstairs, the words appear to me to be somewhat dangerous, and, in fact, I think that since the Bill was drafted some idea of the kind has occurred to my hon. and learned Friend, because I notice he has an Amendment of his own further down on the Paper. I agree with the hon. Member on the other side of the House in thinking that it is a very serious 2246 departure that we are making under this Bill in not calling upon the local and other authorities to make their true contribution towards the expenses of the projects for which the money is being found. It will be remembered by Members of this House that earlier in the year the Chancellor of the Exchequer issued a Return showing how money had been allocated by the Treasury on conditions somewhat similar to those which have been dealt with in this Bill. I do not think there is a single case in which grants have been made by the Treasury under somewhat similar circumstances to these where the locality has not been called on to find one-half or in some cases three-fourths of the money. That seems to me to be a valuable principle, even though it is not always necessary to go quite so far as that. But I may be under a complete misapprehension, and I shall be extremely grateful to my hon. and learned Friend if he will explain to those who, like myself, were not Members of the Committee upstairs what is the scope and meaning of those words?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite would, I think, destroy, entirely the benefits which it has been stated the country will have from the powers under this Bill. The effect of his Amendment, of course, will be that no sum of money could be given for any of the purposes which are specified in Clause 1 except by way of loan. He referred to recent precedents. He said, I think rather boldly, that there were no precedents, or rather no precedents in recent years, for free grants without making it obligatory upon the locality or the persons interested to contribute something themselves. I think the hon. Gentlemen is entirely wrong. I will not mention again the cases of school grants which were made to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds for the building of schools.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The grants ended on 31st December, 1873. They were then brought to a close, and there have been no grants since then.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
They have been made, to a very large extent, and involving very considerable sums of money, to educational institutions, but the effect of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment would be to make it absolutely impossible to contribute by way of grant, or in any way except by way of loan, out of the Development Fund. That, at once, is enough to 2247 show that the effect of the Amendment would be to destroy the Bill. The hon. Gentleman is not accurate in saying that no grant of this kind has been made hitherto without making it obligatory on the local authority to contribute some of its own money. Let me say, first of all, that it is by no means the intention of the Government, in promoting this Bill, to make free grants in order to put an end to the enterprise of local authorities, and I urge the hon. Gentleman to read what the words are in the remaining part of the Clause. It is quite clear that the Development Commissioners must have regard to all the circumstances of the case. It is really not the object of the Bill to put an end to local enterprise, to the communal feeling of a particular locality at all, but to encourage it. We know that the descriptions of work which may be carried out under this Bill are very often extremely expensive works, and you could not call upon a particular locality to contribute to any very large extent to the execution of those works. Take a harbour, for instance. Such a work might benefit a large district, but it could not be expected that the immediate locality around the harbour should bear any very large proportion of the amount contributed to the cost of the work. I have no doubt that it will be the duty of the Development Commissioners to take the whole of the circumstances of the particular locality into account, looking at the surrounding facts, before they determine whether or not it must be a free grant out and out of the whole sum, or a free grant and partly a loan, so as to encourage the community itself in every possible way to provide some part of the money. Under the Light Railways Act of 1896—only 13 years ago—grants can be made by the Treasury up to £250,000. They are all free grants, or by way of loan, and exactly the same words are used in that Act that we have in this Bill, and it contains some very similar provisions. There are provisions under a later Act which enable public moneys to be given by way of grant for the improvement of live stock in Ireland. Grants are made to people in this country by the Board of Agriculture for the development of fisheries, the construction of harbours and so forth, and grants are also made under the Agricultural Holdings Act. Under the Board of Agriculture Act, 1889, grants can be made, and are made, by the Board of Agriculture for the purpose of inquiry, experiment, 2248 and research into matters connected with that Department. The hon. Gentleman said there was no check upon the giving of these grants at all. There are ample checks. First of all, the application must come from the local authority or somebody of that kind, or from the Government Department. That shows that the initiative in most cases lies with the local authority itself. It shows that they will have some public spirit.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
They have to receive the recommendation of the Development Commissioners, who will be appointed under this Bill when it becomes an Act; and, again, there will be the additional check of the Treasury, who might absolutely refuse altogether to make a grant. These are some of the checks to make certain that public moneys will never be advanced by the Treasury on the recommendation of the Commissioners, unless the purpose for which the grant is to be made is absolutely necessary, and the conditions are such as may properly attach to the particular grant. The Amendment means that if it were adopted they could not use any part of the Development Fund except to make a loan. They could not make a grant to a college, or university, or any educational institution, and, therefore, I am very sorry that the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I very largely agree with the Solicitor-General, and I would point out to my hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik) that he should consider carefully the principle of this Amendment. The Solicitor-General referred to the Light Railways Act, in which there are provisions more analogous to the proposals of this Bill than anything to be found in the Education Department, with respect to training colleges. The experience which all of us who have been connected with the administration of these funds have gathered is that a great many cases where grants would be most willingly made by the Department, and where they would be most profitable in their returns, are those cases where it is almost impossible for the locality to undertake any liability. It follows, the money being available, that localities, as my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) said just now, are not slow to make application for grants of public money. When, 2249 by statute, the condition of local liability is attached, it follows frequently that the most deserving cases are put on one side, and grants are given in cases where, if the terms were more open, they would be withheld, and given where, probably, in the long run their use would be much more advantageous. To that extent I share the view of the Solicitor-General, although I frankly admit that I look upon this Bill with great anxiety, regarding it as a complete new departure which may have most disastrous consequences upon local government and local spirit. But when I come to the assurances he gave to the House, I confess I find myself in a considerable difficulty. At the end of the Clause it states that the grant will be made in accordance with the regulation to be issued by the Treasury. I know from old experience that it is of no use to ask the Government to produce those regulations whilst the Bill is still under consideration because they have to be considered by the Department after the Bill is passed, and when the full terms are known. They cannot, therefore, be prepared in advance. But I urge on the Solicitor-General that we ought to have from him a declaration that these regulations, when issued by the Treasury, will lay down certain conditions which will impose upon the Commissioners the duty of ascertaining what are the exact needs and conditions of the locality making the demands. Under the Light Railways Act you have this double security: Application is made, and an inquiry is held by the Light Railway Commissioners, and they ascertain whether or not in their opinion a light railway could be made. But there is a further provision that in many cases free grants ought to be made by the State in aid of these light railways, and those free grants are only to be made when the Department concerned—I think, if I remember aright, it is the Board of Agriculture—is satisfied that the conditions of the district are such as to justify the State in making a free grant. Those are parts of the Statutes. We have nothing of the kind here, though the Solicitor-General tells us that there will be checks, and that we have in the first place the security of the Commissioners, who can make their own terms; and, in the second place, the security of the Treasury, who can, in the final result, if they choose, refuse the grant altogether. Yet we have nothing here to satisfy us that these regulations will be such as will secure that the money shall not be given in cases where the local needs and conditions 2250 are such as to make a grant altogether unnecessary. I suggest to the Government that they would go far to meet objections which are held by many on this side of the House, and which, I think, are held by many people outside of it, if they make it perfectly clear that in the preparation of these regulations the Treasury will have regard to the condition of things which is dealt with under the regulations under which the Government grants are to be given. With this reservation I am bound to say I could not support an Amendment which would restrict the issue of this money solely to loans. If the Bill is to be effective, if it is of any real good, there must be in the hands of the Commissioners power, to be exercised with great prudence, with great caution, with great discretion, to enable them in certain limited cases to make free grants, and not impose on the locality a burden which in some instances it could not possibly bear.
Sir JOHN BRUNNER
I have listened with great pleasure, as I usually do, to the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House. He is always courteous, not only to those around him, but to those who think opposite to him. I share very fully the wish of the right hon. Gentleman that these grants should never be made to local authorities without great care being exercised in the matter, and that they should not be dealt with in such a way as would encourage wild extravagance. I trust the Government will be able to assure us that in this particular matter very great care will be exercised. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite, I wonder whether he has reflected that it would absolutely prevent a grant being made to a body like the Royal Society, which does work for the public in a very quiet and absolutely unostentatious way, but which returns a dividend to the country which is almost incalculable. Consider the aid we have given in conjunction with the Association of Mechanical Engineers in standardising all measures. When that body has published its report, and its advice is taken, the country will have gained enormously. I might go on and speak of grants made to the National Physical Laboratory. To stop that work would be a calamity. I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would be perfectly well pleased to have grants for classics and for archaeology. I have strong sympathy with the help given in that direction. I have often said that every penny I have has come 2251 from the application of science to industry. I desire that the State shall have science for the benefit of the community. There are very few who realise the enormous loss to the country through the ignorance of those who conduct agriculture. How many, I wonder, in the House are aware that through the disease of infectious abortion amongst horn cattle this country loses decidedly over half a million per year. I am delighted, having been an advocate of the study of this matter for years, that Lord Carrington has appointed a Committee to study the subject. Suppose this Commission spends £10,000 per year, and that it goes on for ten years and thus spends £100,000, I believe that before we have spent that £100,000 we should have saved to the country fully half the loss of that half-million, and for that £100,000 we should be making £200,000 per year. The work that those Commissioners will do is work that cannot be done, or that you cannot get done, in any other way than by the hands of the State. Where is the landed proprietor who will undertake for the benefit of agriculture generally to spend the sum of money necessary to inform the country about the awful loss by this disease? If you expect so you have gone wild in public matters.
I might go on and tell the House what other countries have gained through these grants. I might tell the House how a small grant to a firm of glass manufacturers in Jena, a very small grant, has actually laid the whole world under contribution to Germany, because they make the best glass for them. I might go on and tell the House what I have seen with my own eyes at the great schools of Charlottenburg. I saw an entire chamber the length of this room and about two-thirds of its width, filled with railway wheels and axles which were subjected to the mechanical tapping of hammers, in order to ascertain the chemical constitution of them. Every one of them was registered, and the effect of the tapping was carefully noted. They were subjected to microscopical examination in order to ascertain what was the change in the molecular constitution of the iron produced by this tapping, which was the closest imitation they could get of the jarring of the wheel upon the rail. At the end of many months the Government had decided which was the best mixture of iron to produce the most lasting effect in ordinary uses, and that information having been obtained was applied for the benefit of all. I ask if we do 2252 not follow, how are we to compete? I hope the advice of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Long), if he will permit me to call him so, to the hon. Gentleman to withdraw this Amendment will be accepted.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman speaks with great authority on these subjects, as the House well knows, and has given a great deal of attention to them. I do not suppose that there is anybody in the House who will disagree with him when he says that there are certain things that can be assisted by grants from Government money, and that in certain cases no improvement can be attained by any other process. I suppose everybody will agree with that. The real point where some of us, at any rate, have doubts as to the general policy of this scheme is not as to whether some good, but as to whether some harm might not also result. That is the point. It is quite true, but, of course, it is perfectly obvious that if you spend money wisely you will do good, and it is equally obvious that if you spend money foolishly you will do harm. That is the whole doubt I have about the policy of this Bill. To my mind the real error that has been made in this Bill is by mixing two wholly dissimilar objects in the first Clause. You have objects of research and scientific investigation, such as the right hon. Gentleman has described as to the vibration of iron and into the diseases of cattle. You have those objects, which are absolutely distinct, from things like the construction of railways, the construction of canals, and the construction of harbours. It is perfectly true that by the nature of things scientific investigation and education is unremunerative, and there is a strong case for an absolutely free grant in aid of such objects. It is equally true, if a light railway or canal or harbour is to be of real value to the State, it must be more or less remunerative. It must be such a thing as will bring in a return which can be measured by the dues or fares which can be collected from its use, but it does seem to me a matter of the gravest doubt whether a free grant is desirable or should be allowed for such undertakings as that.
The Solicitor-General referred to the Light Railways Act. I quite agree with him it is the closest precedent we have got, but nobody knows better than the Solicitor-General that both in the Railways Act of 1896 and in the Light Railways (Ireland) Act, 1896, a number of conditions had to be fulfilled before free 2253 grants could be obtained from the Treasury. Not only, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out, had a Department of the Government got to assent and recommend it for special reasons, but there must be proof of real local interest in the work shown by the free grant of land by landowners and public authorities along the route of the railways. There are a number of other conditions, and I think it is a very serious defect in this Bill that you are going to set up a system of free grants with the very objects which Parliament has already dealt with in the Small Holdings Act and in the Light Railways Act and in other Acts, and where the free grant of money is fenced around with conditions of considerable stringency. If my hon. Friend's Amendment were confined to the limitation of free grants only to such necessary unremunerative undertakings, strictly unremunerative, not indirectly I agree, but directly unremunerative, such as scientific research, I should have had much more difficulty in resisting the Amendment. I confess, personally, I think it is too widely drawn to say that no free grant should be made at all under this Bill for the reasons which I have ventured to lay before the House. I have some doubt as to the policy, and I do not think it will be possible to enact provisions in this Bill saying that under no circumstances and for no object will a free grant be made.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I understood the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) to put into the category of subjects to which, as I understood him he would condemn free grants, that of the construction of harbours. I venture to say that anybody who took any part whatever in the recent discussion in the London County Council on the subject of the Port of London would hesitate once, twice, or thrice before they would stand in the way of Government help for the development of the Port of London. Those who study this subject know perfectly well that the whole of our shipping trade has been marching on from the small to the big ship, and that the Port of London of to-day will not compete even with other ports in our own country, and far less with Continental ports, unless the Government take up this matter. It is eminently a thing which no private individual could ever dream of accomplishing and not only no private individual, but I venture to say no private company.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Does the hon. Gentleman really contemplate a free grant out of the Development Fund to the Port of London to develop the port?
§ Mr. VERNEY
I took the question of harbours. I merely take the Bill as we find it, and I find in paragraph (e), "The construction and improvement of harbours." I will not enter into a discussion with the Noble Lord as to how far that is to come out of the Development Fund. I say I understood him to condemn public assistance or the assistance of public funds for the construction of harbours. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I understood him to say that. I am merely saying that the construction of harbours abroad has for years past gained assistance from the public funds to a very large extent. The Port of Antwerp, for instance, was to be increased by 20 miles through the help of public funds. I am certain there are Members in this House who know the Correctness of what I am now saying. We had put before the London County Council plans which were submitted to the Government of Belgium and the actual estimates given for the improvement and enlargement of the Port of Antwerp. We cannot shut our eyes to the immense international competition that is now proceeding owing to the enlargement and development of the ports on the Continent by this system of public money. Of course, it cannot be said for a moment that that is an encouragement to scientific research. On the contrary, it is closely connected with the enormous and gigantic profits which I have heard will be certainly earned by the Continental shipping which depends upon the enlargement and improvement of the Continental harbours. I venture to say that some Members of this House cannot have been thoroughly aware of the gigantic schemes which must be taken in hand sooner or later, whether under this Bill or under some other. As I read the Bill, at all events, it enacts that the harbours are not to be left out, and I cannot help being very glad indeed that that is so.
The merchant shipping of this country is of such gigantic importance that a Bill might be very well brought in dealing only with that subject. The construction and improvement of harbours as put into this Bill launches us on a scheme which, if it means anything at all, must be a very large scheme, and the money foreshadowed for the wants expressed in this Bill can be only the beginning of enormous sums.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is not addressing himself to the Amendment, which is whether these sums should be by way of grant or by way of loan.
§ Mr. VERNEY
It seems to me that to carry out the scheme of this Bill you must have both. Under some circumstances they may be by loan, under other circumstances they must be by grant. I do not think any limitation can be laid down as to the precise form, and, looking to the aims and objects indicated by the Bill, personally I should be very sorry indeed to see any limitation inserted, as it would utterly fail in its object, and greatly hamper the Government in dealing with the matters referred to in the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The speech of the hon. Member for North Bucks (Mr. Verney) affords the strongest illustration in support of the Amendment. I was not quite certain whether to vote for or against my hon. Friend's proposal; but, after the speech to which we have just listened, I shall without hesitation support my hon. Friend if he goes to a Division. What an awful vista has the hon. Member for North Bucks put before an astonished House. Free grants for the Port of London! Even the face of the Chancellor of the Exchequer wears an expression of horror at the vista of people coming to the Commissioners and demanding free grants for the enlargement of the Port of London. There must be some limitation to the powers of the Commissioners. The Solicitor-General told us that it was not the object of the Government to impair the responsibility of municipalities, and that the Commissioners would exercise this power of making free grants only with very great care and caution, and the right hon. Member for South Dublin (Mr. Long) said practically the same thing. But there is nothing in the Bill to indicate to the Commissioners that they are to exercise any care or caution whatever. Do not let hon. Members forget that the Bill gives five Commissioners certain powers. The Commissioners will not read the reports of the Debates in Committee or in the House of Commons and say that they understand the Solicitor-General to have said this or that; they will be guided by the Bill alone, and there is nothing whatever in the Bill to show that they are to exercise any care whatever in deciding whether they will make a free grant or a loan. I agree with the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone 2256 (Lord R. Cecil) that under certain circumstances free grants would be necessary, as, for instance, for scientific purposes, or in connection with cattle abortion to which reference has been made. In connection with the latter subject the Board of Agriculture are at present pursuing inquiries; they have sent me a long and interesting pamphlet upon the question. But the Board of Agriculture already have funds granted by Parliament for these purposes, and they do not want this Bill at all. If next year they thought that those funds were not sufficient, there is nothing to prevent them putting into the Estimates an increased grant for this specific purpose. One great advantage of leaving these matters to be dealt with by the different Departments, instead of putting them into a kind of hotch-potch Bill, is that if a Department wishes to undertake scientific research, and the House of Commons grants money for the purpose, the money goes to the object for which it is desired; whereas under this Bill the enormous number of objects to be dealt with will render it very difficult for money to be obtained for these particular scientific researches. Therefore it would be very much better to trust to existing machinery for this purpose, and to limit the free grants to certain well-defined objects. Unless something of that sort is done the hon. Member for North Bucks will get very little for his harbours. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing) told the Committee several times that there was really only one object to be assisted under the Bill, namely, agriculture, and that, as far as possible, in Northamptonshire. If the present Amendment were withdrawn, would the Solicitor-General consider whether some words could not be inserted declaring that the Commissioners must exercise some discretion in making grants not by way of loan?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
These words have been used more than once in Acts of Parliament, and I am afraid I could not give the promise asked for.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I make no excuse for having brought forward this Amendment, not only because it has received a certain amount of support, but also because it has brought out most strongly in the speech of the hon. Member for North Bucks (Mr. Verney) the very dangers that I foresaw. The instances quoted against me do not apply to the case in question. The Government makes no grant for building 2257 training colleges; it gives only the ordinary maintenance grants, and it is quite wrong to say that those grants are in any way analogous. As to the Royal Society and other scientific bodies, surely the answer is perfectly plain that grants are being made to those bodies at present, and will continue to be made. No one is more cordially in favour of them and more heartily supports them than myself; but those grants are entirely different from grants made under a statute. By this proposal you are establishing what would soon become a distinct and alienable right. You will be asked for these grants with as much authority as you are now asked for an education grant for a school. That is a very different matter from the ex gratia grants for the Royal Society, and other scientific bodies, which are made not in order to establish the societies, but to meet very lavish expenditure on the part of those societies themselves. However, I am content with the expressions of sympathy which I have received, and I will not put the House to the trouble of a division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS moved to leave out the word "free" ["by way of free grant"].
§ This word seems to be superfluous, and some criticism has been made upon, the term "free grant," which is said to be inconsistent with the imposition of conditions. I have made it perfectly clear that conditions can be imposed, and I now move to leave out the word "free."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir H. CRAIK moved to insert after the word "purposes" ["the following purposes"] the words "not being purposes for which grants may now be made under any Act of Parliament."
§ The object of this Amendment is to prevent grants being made in connection with matters which have already formed part of the legislation by this House. The Light Railways Act gives an opportunity of grants and loans being made, and Education Acts and other legislative measures of that sort have established the right of certain development and beneficial purposes to receive grants. Are you going to duplicate this machinery? Are you going to have agricultural commissioners to establish small holdings under one statute, and Commissioners who may under this Bill interfere in the 2258 same work in a different way with competitive schemes? Are you going to enable the Development Commissioners to interfere with the Board of Education and establish rival educational schemes? Are you going to have the Board of Agriculture interfered with, and all its work duplicated, with the consequent overlapping of administration and expenditure, by having two Departments carrying on precisely the same kind of work? It is to prevent such a result that I move this Amendment.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
There was one thing which I think was evident, at any rate to me, during the proceedings in the Committee, and that was that unless something of this sort was inserted in the Bill the consequences would be very detrimental to the various objects which had already had Acts of Parliament passed in order to promote their well-being. The consequences of the Bill being left in the state in which it now is must cause an immense amount of overlapping. There was a very strong point made in this connection when the question of Small Holdings was before the Committee. It was pointed out that you would have the difficulty here of one authority working against another, and if you do not injure the object by having two different people working for the same purpose, at any rate you multiply the expense. Light railways was another instance cited, and there were several other instances given before the Committee, in which it was evident that unless words of this sort were put in overlapping would result. I trust the Solicitor-General will accept some such Amendment as this, because it seems to me that the objects of the Bill will not be achieved if the greater part of its work is in duplicating the machinery which already exists.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The inadvisability of overlapping was discussed very fully in the Committee upstairs. I quite agree that it is a matter that will have to be discussed, particularly on the Amendment of the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) which was put down as a new Clause, and which will have to be discussed as a new sub-section. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Aberdeen (Sir Henry Craik) is nothing if he is not thorough and radical in the Amendment which he proposes. I pointed out to the house that the last Amendment, if carried, would really take the whole of the life and force out of this measure. Not content with using the pruning-knife 2259 to lop off branches here and there, he lays his are right to the root of the tree. That is what he proposes by this Amendment. He seeks to exclude entirely from the operation of this Bill, and from the benefit of participating from this Development Fund, all the purposes practically which are now in the Bill.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I think it is a matter which ought to have the very serious attention of the Government. If local authorities go behind the Department concerned to the Treasury and the Commissioners, I think we shall have not merely overlapping but interference—and interference with the ordinary work of the Department.
§ Viscount MORPETH
This matter was discussed at some length upstairs, but not very much satisfaction was obtained. It was pointed out there that there would be an enormous amount of overlapping. It was pointed out with regard to agricultural education that at present grants are made by the Board of Education and by the Board of Agriculture. By the proposals of this Bill a third authority will have power in these matters. Nobody can imagine that that will be conducive to good results or economy. With grants from different sources, evidently a good deal of money will be wasted, for the different authorities will make the grants not knowing what the other authorities have done. In that way more money than is necessary will be given in some cases, while other applicants will be starved. I agree that my hon. Friend has moved a very drastic Amendment to deal with the difficulty, and that probably the Amendment of the new Sub-section of my Noble Friend will be far better. But if the Solicitor-General can give us some hint or indication as to whether the Government are prepared to accept the new Sub-section it will go a long way to meet, I think, very justifiable fears which have been expressed before in Committee, and are now expressed again.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
In view of the fact that these points will be discussed on a subsequent Amendment, I do not propose to press my Amendment. I only ask the House to notice this, that however drastic 2260 might be my Amendment in condemnation, that involved in the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General are ten times more drastic. He tells us plainly that every provision will be shut out by the adoption of my Amendment. That implies that every point to be met by this Bill is already met by statutory enactment or by administration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. B. STANIER desired to transpose paragraphs (a) and (b).
§ I do so because I feel that these are the most important objects of the whole Bill. The Government are always doing everything they can for small holdings, and I feel here that unless they bring this to the forefront, and thereby advocate the points which will make their small holdings a success, that they will be lost sight of in the large number of points in this Bill. We have in agriculture a national industry. Surely that is in itself sufficient to suggest that it should come first. Without going further into the argument, I can only find in (a) that we have forestry dealt with and nothing else, and in (b) we have every rural object that you can possibly think of. I beg to move.
§ Major RENTON
I beg to second. Agriculture is of far more importance to this country than forestry. If this Amendment were accepted it would not make the slightest difference to the Bill if it becomes law or to the working of it as an Act. There is not a single man now living who will see any result in forestry as it is in this Act, whereas we can always see immediately the great difference in agriculture in this country when it is developed as it ought to be. The land in this country is not so well suited for growing trees as cereal crops. The soil and the climate are unsuitable, and therefore why forestry is put in the forefront of this Bill and not agriculture I cannot see.
§ Question put, "That Paragraph (a) stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I agree entirely as to the importance of agriculture, and I do not know that it matters a great deal as to which of the paragraphs comes first and which comes second. Perhaps too much has been made of the matter in the Amendment, and perhaps it has been rather encouraged by the example of the Government in relation to new roads. There is 2261 only this one excuse to be made for that, and that is that there were only two paragraphs; here there are seven. To transpose the first and second paragraphs where there are seven would be still less efficacious than transposing two, but if it will please the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin) I do not mind.
§ Mr. HENRY CHAPLIN
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General a little underrates the importance of this question. I think it is of importance as an indication to the Commissioners. And surely there is another reason for it in the sense that afforestation is a branch of agricultural industry. It is rather curious that you should put in the Bill a branch of the main industry first, and then the main industry itself. I think all the Members representing agricultural constituencies will thank the Solicitor-General for his concession.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I hope if it is decided to accept this Amendment that it will not be accepted because of the speech which was delivered by the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Major Renton), because his declaration, if admitted by the Administration, that this country is totally unsuited to forestry, is absolutely opposed to expert knowledge upon the subject.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are not discussing forestry. We are only discussing the position which these paragraphs have in the Bill, and whether line 16 and line 20 shall change places.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING moved, after the word "research" in paragraph (b) ["by promoting scientific research, instruction, and experiments"], to insert the words "the training of teachers."
§ It seems to me that the point which this Amendment brings up embraces nearly the whole wording of this Sub-section. The words will give a more definite character to the instructions which Parliament places in the hands of the Commissioners to whom the duties of assigning these grants are to be given. I have felt most strongly throughout the whole of these discussions that there was a certain amount of vagueness and indeterminedness in the wording of this Sub-section, and I hope that the Government will see their way to make it more specific and 2262 plain. That is one with several other items which I venture to express in this connection, and it seemed to me to be of very great importance, that we should have very great precision when the subject is placed in the hands of the Commissioners. The training of teachers is really essential to the whole matter of agricultural education, and the special ground on which I myself have placed this Amendment on the Paper is the Report of the Board of Education last year, which drew special attention to the almost entire lack of facilities for the training of science teachers for secondary rural schools which we wished to see adopted. That is a matter of extreme importance. We have experts who may be trained in connection with our agricultural and training colleges, but there are at present no adequate or complete facilities for training in the sciences adapted to rural pursuits that class of teacher indispensable to supplying in our rural districts the wants of agricultural education. We see developed in Denmark, France, Canada, and the United States the splendid system of secondary schools which give the youth in rural districts a regular training in scientific study which fits them for the pursuits they have to follow in after life. I should be out of Order if I argued the other points I wish to bring forward in the later Amendments which stand in my name, but I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General to indicate whether he cannot accept generally the principle of slightly enlarging the scope of this Subsection, emphasising the point that the Commissioners should have a priority of consideration in giving a grant to those various institutions with a view to promoting agriculture.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I think it is better to deal with the whole question on the first Amendment about the training of teachers, which I have moved.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member will not be entitled to move the Amendment lower down on the Paper in reference to the training of teachers and equipping farm buildings.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I desire to second this Amendment, and I think it is an extremely important one and ought to appeal to all those who have had any personal contact with teachers in agricultural districts and have at heart the real develop- 2263 ment of agriculture by applying science to that industry in the same way as it is applied to so many others. I have watched with great interest the applications of the teaching of mechanical science and arts in London, and I have seen with what intense eagerness the artisans in the factories and the workshops flock to the polytechnics and take advantage of the scientific training afforded them there, and how they in their turn become employers and leaders of industry afterwards. I never could understand why similar attention should not have been given to agriculture and why similar opportunities should not have been given to many of our labouring men, who are quite fit by their native wit and the experience they have gained in their trade to rise in their profession and to aspire by the aid of helpful and beneficial legislation to become the small holders and farmers, and perhaps in turn to become owners of the land hereafter. In foreign countries I believe it is notorious that in recent years—and I allude particularly now to Denmark—the agricultural teaching of these countries has manifestly increased in value and has won its way in the estimation of the farming world simply and solely because its quality is manifest. Farmers in years gone by in Denmark and other countries looked upon agricultural teaching which was offered scientifically with apathy and somtimes with contempt, because it was not of a quality really calculated to help those people. The advance in the training of teachers and in agricultural teaching brought it up to an entirely higher level than it occupied in years gone by. What has been done abroad with such immense advantage to agriculture can and will be done in this country. I believe we are now in the transition stage and that greater efforts are being made in some of our colleges and universities for taking up the question of agriculture, and in this connection I must not leave out Cambridge where they have made great advances in recent years. The time is now coming when with the greatest possible advantage aid and assistance and encouragement might be given to agricultural teaching, and, therefore, to agriculture itself. The opportunity which is now apparently offered is emphasised as it is by this Amendment of my hon. Friend. I do not for a moment say that the word "instruction" as we have got it here in this Subsection (b) does not or may not be held to cover the training of teachers. But 2264 I cannot, on the other hand, see why these words should not find a place in the Clause. If the Clause as it stands is intended to cover the training of teachers then there can be no objection to putting these words in. It might well be said if the Clause had been differently framed that you put into the Clause, and did not specify any object you had in view for fear you might admit others. I quite understand that argument, but that argument is no longer open because we have here a long list of objects, and, therefore, the danger of expressio unius est exclusio alterius is a danger which cannot be pleaded as the Clause as it stands was framed with a great number of objects, and these have been put into the Clause. Therefore, I hold if this is one of the main objects for which the Development Grant is going to be made, surely it is not asking very much that they may be found in explicit terms in the Clause. That is all I ask. I do not ask in any way to extend the objects of the Bill or of this Clause. Certainly we want that there should be no doubt whatever in the future that the local authorities are dealing with this matter of instruction of teachers, and that there should be no doubt whatever that in applying part of the Development Grant to that purpose we are doing what is well within the four corners of the Bill when it becomes law. It is for that reason that I hope the Solicitor-General and the Government may favourably consider the suggestion put forward in the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think the training of teachers is a matter for which some of this money under the provisions of the Bill might be lawfully considered by the Treasury upon the recommendations of the Commissioners. There is just one difficulty, and it is this: that it might be contended that it was intended that the money should be given actually for the purpose of establishing training colleges for teachers rather than for the purpose of giving aid to institutions that already exist. The teaching of agriculture, either agricultural science or the practice of agriculture, is one thing; the teaching of people to teach these things is rather another matter. They are mixed up no doubt. I know what was in my hon. Friend's mind and what he desires to effect. What he is rather afraid of is that the instruction should be chiefly, if not fully, in the practice of agriculture. If he 2265 can suggest any words to me that instruction should be given in the theory of agriculture I should be very willing to accept them. I think the object is attained by not putting in any words. There is a difficulty if you put them in that you exclude other things, and there is the further difficulty that it may be taken as an indication that the establishment of these colleges for this purpose is one of the things the Commissioners may allow, whereas what we intended to do is to aid this instruction in other institutions rather than in institutions of their own establishing.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I do not think there is any very great objection to putting in these words, "training of teachers," although I do not think they will do very much good. I was certainly glad to hear the Solicitor-General say he does not think that the money assigned to this fund should be devoted to the establishment of new training colleges, but when he comes to construe the Sub-section you are met with a difficulty which makes you fear that the whole of this Bill will not produce entirely the good effects which its promoters anticipate. I shall be glad to have a further opportunity of explaining what I mean when we come to the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone. I question whether those who have framed this Bill are aware of the action which is going on in two Departments of the present Government. It is rather a strange circumstance that since this Bill has been introduced a Memorandum has been published in regard to an arrangement between the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education in regard to agricultural education, and I very much wonder whether the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire has seen this Memorandum, or whether it has been seen by the Seconder of this proposal. This Memorandum suggests what I venture to think is the right way of improving the agricultural education of this country, namely, by the co-operation of the Board of Agriculture with the Board of Education. It is a very remarkable fact that on 22nd September of this year, since this Bill was introduced and discussed in Committee, this Memorandum has been published, and it will be found that it provides for every single one of the objects included in paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1) of this Clause. The question of the training of teachers is specifically mentioned, and what I fear very much indeed is that if these Commissioners 2266 are also to be empowered to take steps for the training of teachers, they will come inevitably in collision with this new inter-Departmental Committee which is to be established by the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education acting together. Here is a splendid example set us by two Departments doing exactly the opposite of this Bill, because they propose to co-operate, and under this Bill the Commissioners can take independent action which may interfere with the good work done by those two bodies acting together. Let me ask the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire what kind of training he desires these teachers to receive. Is it training in the principles and science applicable to agriculture generally, such as is given in our universities and schools of agriculture, he desires, where sufficient opportunities are at present afforded for the training of teachers, or is he thinking of the training of persons to give instruction in special departments of agriculture?
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I was referring to the special comment made by the Board of Education in their Report of last year as to the lack of training facilities for secondary teachers in rural secondary schools. I do not see that the question of the students in colleges comes in except indirectly.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
The Committee to be appointed proposed to deal with the objects which the hon. Baronet has in view. They say:—In order to avoid overlapping or duplication of work in the sphere of agricultural education between the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education, and at the same time to secure that every portion of the field is as largely aided and developed as possible, by the combined and separate efforts of the two Boards.Therefore every part of the field will be covered by this new operation. They go on to state the sphere of the work which is falling to the Board of Agriculture will comprise institutions of two types. One is this technical advanced instruction, and the other:—Institutions restricted to one special section of agriculture (e.g., forestry, dairying, cider making), the main purpose of which is to provide a course of specialised teaching in that subject on such a plane as will equip those who pass satisfactorily through it to be competent instructors in that section of agricultural work in agricultural institutions or as local instructors in all parts of the country.I think this is the work which this body has set itself out to do, and I strongly fear that by asking at the same time these Development Commissioners to undertake educational work of that description which 2267 properly belongs to the Board of Education, assisted by the Board of Agriculture, far worse results will follow than if it was left to those two bodies alone. We cannot expect the Commissioners to be experts in the subjects of the training of the teachers, and we must look to the Board of Education to supply those experts who will be able to advise on this important subject. It is a mistake to suppose that agriculture is altogether neglected at the present time, because the Board of Education have been doing excellent work during the last few years in the direction of stimulating agricultural education. They may require further funds and so may the Board of Education, but they may obtain those funds on the Estimates when they are brought before Parliament, and I should be very sorry indeed if any thing in this new Bill should impede the progress and development of the agricultural education which has been going on in the past, and which will certainly under this new arrangement go on with an accelerating rate in the future under far better conditions. I do not think to put in the words "the training of teachers" would do very much harm, and, of course, any proposals to improve agricultural education and the development of rural industries will receive my complete approval.
§ Mr. W. R. ADKINS
I think both sides of the House are agreed that they desire to promote agricultural instruction and education in every possible way. I hope the hon. Baronet who has moved this Amendment will feel satisfied with what has fallen from the Solicitor-General. It appears to me necessary to insert some reference to the science and principles of agriculture as well as the practice of agriculture, but if you go beyond that, and specify a definite thing like the training of the teachers, or any other details of that character, another danger is at once incurred, because you are taking away some of the responsibility from the Board of Education, and you are burdening this development grant with work which ought already to be done in the ordinary way by the various departments of the country. I think there is great force in my hon. Friend's contention, that the Clause as it stands does not specifically include the teaching of the science and principles of agriculture in the same way as it does the methods and practice of agriculture. Therefore, it gives us an opportunity of inserting 2268 before the word "methods" the words "science and." I hope nothing will be done in this Clause to take away one ounce of responsibility from either the local authorities or the Board of Education, who are dealing with this problem to-day.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
After what has fallen from the Solicitor-General to the effect that the Commissioners will have it perfectly within their power to deal with the training of the teachers under this Bill, I do not think I need to press my Amendment. The hon. Member for the London University (Sir P. Magnus) stated that I drew an exactly opposite inference from the excellent memorandum of agreement for the joint working of the two Boards to that which he drew himself. My own view is that all these grants should be devoted to objects which are not likely to be carried out either by local authorities or by the Boards themselves. Besides that, the working of the Clause contemplates the making of grants to a department as well as through a Department. I will not press this point any further now, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have ample ground from my own point of view for pressing for this power. I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING moved, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (b), after the word "research" ["promoting scientific research"], to insert the words "building and equipping farm institutes, winter schools, and rural secondary schools."
§ This Amendment stands on different ground to the last one, because the last Amendment dealt with objects covered by the Board of Education and the Board of Agriculture. Those hon. Members who have read Lord Reay's report upon agricultural education will understand the claim of this Amendment to the consideration of the House. Lord Reay's Committee reported that provision for these farm institutes should be made within the next ten years. They are of the greatest importance for the practical work of agriculture. They are not very costly, but they are absolutely indispensable as centres of light leading for the groups of counties where they are established. Anyone who has examined the county school at Basing, in Hampshire, will recognise the importance of this proposal to have suitable centres of this kind throughout the 2269 country. It is of enormous importance that they should be provided. This sort of education is not provided by the agricultural colleges, which are of too high a class, and do not deal with the practical operations of agriculture like these farm institutes do. County councils at the present time are very hard pressed to find the money for the education rates, and they must receive in some form or other aid from the State to carry out the scheme of providing 40 or 50 of these separate institutes in different parts of the country.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ My idea in moving this Amendment is that we should offer suggestions to the Commissioners that they might well consider the application of a few thousand pounds, perhaps £10,000 here and £10,000 there, to about three centres in different parts of England typical of various forms of agriculture—arable, dairy farming, and so on—and that they should equip two or three of these institutes on a moderate scale, such as the county councils could carry on afterwards, which would act as models and useful working samples of what might be done by other county councils. I think that would be of very great service to agriculture. I think just the same with regard to rural secondary schools. I have seen some of the rural secondary schools in Canada, and they are of the most splendid description. They are provided not by local authorities, but by the munificence of individuals. When we have this Development Fund here a certain small amount might very well be applied to building and equipping a few model secondary schools, such as you find in some of the Western States of America and Canada. They cannot, as I understand, be provided out of the ordinary expenditure of either the Board of Education or the Board of Agriculture, but I do think they are one of those legitimate new objects to which this fund might be applied, and there can be no harm, but only good, in indicating that this is one way in which the Commissioners might employ the money.
§ Mr. N. LAMONT seconded the Amendment.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I have, with every desire to meet my hon. Friend, some difficulty with regard to these schools which might trench upon duties already entrusted to and carried out jointly by the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education. There is also, I would respectfully warn him, a danger than in putting 2270 in some of these things of excluding others. I think I might, however, meet the hon. Baronet to a certain extent by putting in, after the word "agriculture," in paragraph (b) ["experiments in methods and practice of agriculture"] the words, "including the provision of farm institutes." That avoids the educational difficulty, and it does not put it in as a separate sub-head. The Clause would then read, "instruction and experiments in methods and practice of agriculture, including the provision of farm institutes." I am entirely with my hon. Friend in spirit, but the difficulty is to work his proposal out and incorporate it in the Bill. If he will withdraw his Amendment, I will move to insert those words.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I should like to ask whether these institutes are to be joined on to the existing machinery, or whether they are to be special schools?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I am not accepting schools at all, because that is trenching upon the duties already entrusted to and carried out jointly by the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education.
§ Viscount MORPETH
What exactly is a farm institute? If hon. Members will read the last Report of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, they will see that some counties and some groups of counties have these institutes. Northamptonshire was one of the few counties which would make no effort in this direction.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
If the hon. Member will refer to the list of institutes which receive grants from the Board of Agriculture he will see there is the Bedfordshire Agricultural Institute, the Basing Farm School, and the farm school at Newton Rigg, in his own neighbourhood.
§ Viscount MORPETH
That depends upon what the hon. Baronet calls an institute. There are a vast number of institutions, agricultural colleges, schools, and farms of every variety and sort. I have no doubt it is rather difficult to classify them, and say there are three of these and half-a-dozen of those. They each vary probably in accordance with the district. All I ask is that the Government should be very careful in accepting this Amendment to see their new machinery fits in with the machinery which already exists. We have been too fond in the past of creating new machinery and new institutions for those already doing the work. That is not the way to advance agricultural education. It 2271 causes unnecessary expense and makes agricultural education unpopular with the ratepayers, thus injuring the cause we know the hon. Baronet has at heart.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I should also like to ask the Solicitor-General if he could explain what he means by a farm institute. I am sure he would be unwilling to put in an Act of Parliament two words the meaning of which one cannot precisely understand. Am I to understand that provision for farm institutes is also to be made by the Board of Agriculture? The Memorandum to which I have referred rightly speaks of the importance of the maintenance of farms and experimental stations. I believe what the hon. Baronet has in his mind are experimental stations.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
No. The Report of Lord Reay's Departmental Committee makes it perfectly clear what farm institutes are, and it makes a distinct recommendation to Parliament and the country with regard to them.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I have read the Report to which the hon. Member refers, but I want to point out that this Memorandum distinctly states:—There is, at the same time, an important matter in connection with some of the cases comprised in the foregoing paragraph for which some special arrangement seems desirable, viz., the provision and efficient maintenance of farms and experimental stations in connection with farm schools, and such other similar places of agricultural instruction as fall within Section 4.The establishment of experimental stations in different parts of the country is very necessary to bring agricultural education in England somewhat on a level with agricultural education in other parts of Europe. I have had the advantage of seeing very many of these agricultural stations in Italy, France, and Germany, and can speak of the excellent work being done there. I am glad to say it is proposed to establish these experimental farms in this country, and it is important we should not state in an Act of Parliament what type of school is best suited to a particular locality. I am glad, therefore, the Solicitor-General is unwilling to introduce the word "school" in connection with this Clause. It will be seen from this Memorandum thatthe Interdepartmental Committee, with the views of the Rural Education Conference before them, will give to the Board of Education all the advice and information they can as to the types of school, methods of instruction and lines of organisation of instructional staff most needed to be encouraged in particular parts of the country.2272 Further than that, grants are to be given to the Board of Agriculture for instruction in these stations and schools. I should be glad if the hon. and learned Solicitor-General would consider carefully the meaning of these words before inserting them in the Act. I do not think the insertion of them will do very much harm, but I am very desirous that a free hand should be left to this Interdepartmental Committee and that they shall not be instructed too much by Act of Parliament as to the course they are to pursue in the organisation of this most important branch of education. I am heartily in sympathy with the hon. Member for North Hants as to the objects he has in view, but I desire to see as free a hand given to the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Education as possible in the development of agricultural education.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I have said that in my opinion the words "farm institutes" come very closely within the ambit of the words "instruction in the practice and methods of agriculture." The words "farm institutes," which have a very different meaning in agricultural circles, appear as a heading in the Report of Lord Reay's Committee, which recommends:—That in those districts in which there is no suitable institution with which the county instructors could be associated, farm institutes should be established. These institutes should possess a farm and class rooms in which instruction in agriculture, dairying, horticulture, and allied subjects could be given. The farm should be laid out so as to be typical of the district. It should illustrate such points as the most profitable methods of manuring local soils; the best varieties of farm and garden crops; the best methods of rearing and feeding live stock, keeping poultry and managing bees; the most approved methods of pruning fruit trees; the best remedies for common pests and diseases of farm crops; and, when practicable, the management of shelter belts and hedgerow timber. The general aim should be to place before farmers and gardeners an object-lesson for guidance in their work and to stimulate them to improve their methods of cultivation.That is a very comprehensive description.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
After what has fallen in this Debate, I shall be very glad to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING moved in paragraph (b), after "experiments in," to insert the words "the science."
§ Amendment made.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL moved in paragraph (6), after the word "agriculture," to insert the words "including the provision of farm institutes."
§ Amendment made.2273
§ Mr. CHAPLIN moved in paragraph (b), after the word "agriculture" ["practice of agriculture"], to insert the words "improvement of live stock and poultry."
§ I am sorry I was obliged to be absent from the Grand Committee when this Amendment was ruled out. For what reason it was ruled out I cannot conceive. I always understood there was included in the idea of the improvement of live stock as defined in the Bill the question of the improvement of the breeding of horses. I think that it is a matter of the first importance that that should be included in this provision. This is a subject in which I have taken great interest for many years, and so also has the Noble Lord the President of the Board of Agriculture. But, quite apart from that, the question of the improvement of live stock is one of growing importance to this country. I should like to say a word or two on the question of poultry. That is one of the industries which everybody is desirous of seeing promoted. I think it is not unreasonable to ask the House to secure opportunities for improvement in these particular directions.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I have much pleasure in seconding this Amendment. May I point out to the Solicitor-General that this is merely reinserting words which were in the original Bill. As far as I could understand the purport of the proceedings upstairs, these words were omitted because a Definition Clause was introduced which refers to cattle. There can be no injury done to the Definition Clause, and it would certainly be wiser to reinsert the original words.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The words were no doubt in the original Bill. They were ruled out in Committee for drafting reasons. I may say we were not unmindful of the interest which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon takes in this matter. I think if he will look at Clause 6 he will see that under the definition of "Agriculture" the breeding of horses, cattle, and other live stock and poultry is included.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I have another Amendment, which is in paragraph (b), after the word "agriculture" ["practice of agriculture"], to insert the words "improvement of dairy farming and the making of butter."
2274 I do not know whether the Definition Clause is sufficiently explicit to cover that. In my humble opinion, an improvement in the making of butter in this country is the one direction in which, in all human probability, more can be done for the promotion of the interests of British agriculture than in any other.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
As a citizen of this country, and one who has to eat butter, I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman in what he has said as to the necessity for improving butter-making, and the advantage it will give us in the direction of our competition with the foreigner. I think, however, if the right hon. Gentleman will again look at Clause 3 he will see the word "dairying," which, of course, includes the making of butter, and I hope that that will be sufficient. If on inquiry it is found it is not, I shall be quite prepared to consider the advisability of putting additional words in Clause 6.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I shall be glad to see some words specifically introduced, because I am anxious that direct attention should be drawn to this matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS moved in paragraph (b), before the word "co-operation," to insert the words "organisation of."
§ It was suggested by many early in the Debate this afternoon that the word co-operation would enable the subsidising of co-operative bodies. My desire is to remove the doubts which prevail in many quarters, and to make it clear that there may be given out of the Development Fund money, not by way of subsidy to co-operative societies, but for the purpose of organising co-operation among those engaged in agriculture.
§ Mr. M'ARTHUR
I am glad to find that the Solicitor-General has felt it necessary to adopt some limitation of the very wide and vague term "co-operation," and I also agree that the words he proposes to add do considerably limit the scope of the term. The only doubt I have, and would like to have cleared up, is the precise meaning of "organisation" as applied to co-operation. The hon. Baronet the Member for Northampton (Sir Francis Channing) proposed to define it in this way: "instruction in the method of co-operation." I quite 2275 understand that, and I think it is perfectly unobjectionable to teach people on what principles to co-operate and how they should apply them if they wish to co-operate successfully. We have the word "organisation." Does that mean that farmers are to be called together and have it pointed out to them that it would be to their advantage to co-operate, and be pecuniarily assisted to form co-operative societies? If you do that, if you give them pecuniary assistance to form co-operative societies, are you not assisting co-operation as a method of trading and doing the very thing to which objection has been taken? I wish to point that out to the Solicitor-General in order to learn whether my apprehension is well founded or not. Something, at all events, can be said in favour of that view—that it is a form of assistance to co-operative trading. If that is not so, how did "organisation" fall short of that?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The words "organisation" and "co-operation" are not governed by the word "instruction" at all, but by the word "promoting." The Commissioners are told that one of the purposes on which public money may be spent is for aiding or developing agriculture and rural industries, etc. Leaving the other matters out for the moment, we come to the words "promote the organisation of co-operation." All that means is this, that farmers who do not readily combine or co-operate, and who suffer a great deal by their being lax in matters of that kind, may be called together by certain bodies, may have assistance for that purpose, and may have pointed out to them the great benefits of co-operation, not in order to form a co-operative society for buying and selling, but to dispose of the things they produce themselves—in order to have good transit in sending those things to market, cheaper transit, and the many matters well known to hon. Members. It is in order to promote the organisation of co-operation that we put in these words.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I wish to express my entire concurrence with the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I very much doubt whether anything has been 2276 said in the course of the Debate on the question we are discussing to-night, or have discussed during this Session or this Parliament, which is calculated to give more real and genuine assistance to the agricultural industry of this country than what has been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman in the few words he has just addressed to us. I perfectly understand what he means by "organisation of co-operation," and one of the questions which must first arise in the mind of anybody is this: the enormous difficulties with which the agricultural industry is confronted in connection with railway transit. What is the reason of that? Railways are authorised to make arrangements; what they want is that the farmers themselves should be in a position to co-operate, and by co-operation to make arrangements by which a sufficient quantity of goods may be ready upon certain stated dates and occasions so that the farmers may obtain infinitely lower charges for transport than otherwise would be the case. It is not too much to say that on behalf of the agricultural interest I tender my warmest acknowledgments for what the Government has done.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I put an Amendment down with the object of confirming the kind of co-operation which may be assisted by Government grants very much to what the learned Solicitor-General has said it is his desire to confine it, that is to say, not to give it to any co-operative society for trading purposes, but to give it for the purpose of assisting farmers and others in the matter of the collection and marketing of their produce. I put it down with the object of inviting the kind co-operation which may be assisted to that concerned with instruction in marketing produce. After the Amendment of the Solicitor-General, and after what he has said, it is quite unnecessary for me to move my Amendment. Therefore I do not move.
§ Mr. STANIER moved, in paragraph (b), after the word "instruction" ["instruction in marketing produce"], to insert the words "and experiments."
§ This is really a very important point indeed, because experiments in marketing, I think, have led to very good results, especially in the fruit trade. In many towns people think that they can only take a certain special sort of fruit, and that they cannot receive it because the 2277 packing is all wrong. Now, if the packing is put right and the fruit delivered in a good and marketable state, you can very often make a new trade. But it is this experimental work which is absolutely new to a locality, and especially is that the case with the small holders. There are two or three small holders in my own division who are absolutely unable to market their produce because they do not know where to send it. It is in regard to this experimental work that I want sympathetic consideration from the Solicitor-General. I am not going to enlarge upon the matter, although I very easily could do so, speaking from experience. The whole thing speaks for itself, and I appeal to the Solicitor-General to give it favourable consideration. I beg to move.
§ Mr. M'ARTHUR seconded the Amendment.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think there is danger lurking in this Amendment and difficulties which have not been appreciated by the hon. Member. I quite appreciate his desire, but I think the word "instruction" covers everything that he wants. Instruction, for instance, how to market produce was one of the instances he gave. The danger of putting in the word "experiments" is this. As I understand it, if you market produce you take it to market and sell it, and experiment in that would never do. Suppose a man sold a tub of butter or a sackful of turnips and the purchaser came up and said, "These turnips are not yours. This is a mere experiment in marketing produce." I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. STANIER moved, in paragraph (b), after the word "produce" ["instruction in marketing produce"], to insert the words "the development of agricultural credit."
§ There have been very able articles written in the newspapers lately on the agricultural credit which is given in some countries in Europe. This has been developed to a very considerable extent, and I think we are very far behind in these matters, and I hope this will be taken up and the matter pressed forward and the agriculturists allowed to have the credit that they should have.
§ Mr. G. N. BARNES
I beg to second the Amendment. I think it is one of the most important that could be submitted to the House from the point of view of the agricultural 2278 labourer and the man who desires to get on a small farm. It is very important that we should have instruction in the science and practice of farming, and that there should be facilities for agricultural labourers to get on to small farms. This is an economic as well as an educational question, and I desire that there should be some lower rungs of the ladder provided whereby the agricultural labourer should be really put in a position to avail himself of this sort of legislation. After the Bill was passed last year providing for agricultural small holdings, I made it my business to inquire into the matter, in Scotland especially, and also in the home counties in England, and I found the reason why greater advantage was not taken of that Act was that large numbers of men who desired small holdings could not get them for the very simple reason that they had not the money wherewith to set themselves up in starting them. The number of applications was very large last year, and the number of those whose requests were granted was comparatively small. I learnt that the reason in many cases was that the necessary guarantees could not be given by the applicants of their ability to carry on the small holding and of having the necessary funds to do so. I made special inquiry in Scotland, and I found that the numbers there of men who wanted small holdings was very large. It was really pathetic to come in contact with many men having considerable ability, and even considerable knowledge, having been trained and instructed by practical experience, just as the Bill provides, but they had not the money wherewith to start the farm. Any Bill of this character, to be really effective, must provide some method as is proposed by this Amendment whereby the agricultural labourer may be, so to speak, set upon his legs.
§ Mr. VERNEY
I support this Amendment, having seen both abroad and in Ireland the marvellous improvement and the great assistance to agriculture in a properly arranged system of agricultural credit. The remarkable thing in Ireland is that the Department of Agriculture had the power of advancing certain sums of money to small village credit banks, and they have supplied just the very help which was needed, and help which was of an extremely productive kind, and with all the advances made with credit banks in Ireland the bad debts, I believe, may be counted on the fingers of one hand. There 2279 are practically no bad debts as a result of these advances to the agricultural credit banks. They have been of incalculable advantage, because until lately the interest demanded by the money lenders was so great and so extremely usurious that the advances of money tended to ruin, instead of to help, the small holders in Ireland. The experience abroad is, if anything, more encouraging. The banks which are established all over Germany have advanced many hundreds of pounds to small agriculturists in that country, and I read the other day, in an article written by one who has taken great interest in the subject, and has gone abroad to make inquiries, that there is practically no instance of the advance of money being abused and bad debts resulting. So I think there can be nothing more important, particularly in connection with recent legislation, than that a system of agricultural credit banks should be established in our own country.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I shall cordially support this Amendment, though I am not quite sure that these are precisely the best words to express what is meant. The subject is a large one, and requires very careful treatment. There can be no doubt that there are agricultural labourers who, with abundant knowledge and skill, are unable to start in a holding because they have not sufficient means, and there are others who, having sufficient means to start a holding, have put all their money into it and cannot last over one bad season. I do not think that merely education or the supply of facilities for the acquisition of small holdings can ever get the people back to the land if we do not develop such a system of training as will enable them to remain on the land so long as they are reasonably capable of meeting their obligations.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The difficulty I have in dealing with the Amendment is that I am not sure that I caught what is the object of the hon. Member who moved it. I caught what was the object of the hon. Member (Mr. Verney) in supporting it, and if that is the meaning, I cannot accept it. I have said quite clearly that the Government are bound to set their faces against making any advances to private persons. The whole of the speech of my hon. Friend was in favour of making advances from the Development Fund to small proprietors. There are certain provisions 2280 in the Small Holdings Act of 1908—I think they are in Section 49—giving certain powers in that matter to the county councils. These we do not propose to interfere with at all, but if it is the desire of the hon. Member that advances should be made out of the Development Fund for the purpose of Starting men in particular holdings, that is a matter we could not possibly accept in connection with this Bill. But if the intention of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment is to bring the advantages of credit banking to the attention of those people, that is a different matter. There is a difficulty in putting in special words, but I have no objection, if the Committee desire, to insert after the word "produce" the words "and in credit banking," so that the paragraph would read "instruction in marketing produce and in credit banking." Further than that I could hardly go.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I can quite understand the difficulty which the Solicitor-General feels in accepting the Amendment in any way which would make it really beneficial. The proposal to give instruction in credit banking will not go far in developing the opportunities of a man who wishes to start under the Small Holdings Act. I do think that the subject raised by my hon. Friend is one of enormous importance, and that it would be of some value if the Government would encourage the idea by letting it be know what the effects of these credit banks are in other countries. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) spoke as if credit banking only applied to the tenants of small holdings, and as if the giving of information to them would be sufficient. In my opinion a very much larger and wider system of land banks is really required in this country for the purpose of enabling small holders, and even, so far as I am concerned, large holders, to become the owners of the land they have for a long time worked. I am not sure that I will carry the hon. Gentleman with me on that point, but a great many people who know as much about agriculture as he does will agree with me that if facilities could be given for the establishment of a larger peasant proprietary on the soil a great incentive would be given to the re-population of districts which are now almost bereft of the people who lived in them before. I hope that hon. Members who have supported the principle of agricultural credit banking in this Debate will support it at some future date, and that possibly the Government may guarantee 2281 a credit bank on a large scale which would enable many people when the sale of a property takes place to acquire it, and not allow the property to go to some millionaire from London, Liverpool, or Manchester, but to be acquired and divided among those who have lived on it for many years, and whose ancestors may have been there for many generations.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, tout I really must say something when I hear the Solicitor-General proposing as a great boon to the agricultural population of this country that a lecturer should go round giving instruction on credit banking. Really that is not worth while. My hon. Friend asked for something quite different. The Solicitor-General, instead of giving him bread, has given him a stone. My hon. Friend asked monetary assistance in order to establish credit banking, and the hon. and learned Gentleman only proposes to send out lecturers. I think the people in the agricultural districts who go to hear the lecturers in the village schools will not be benefited in the least.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I cannot agree with my Noble Friend that the Solicitor-General has offered a stone instead of bread. I understand that he proposes to send out people to give instruction in credit banking. I happen to be the director of a bank, and I am always willing to get anything for nothing. I should like to know who is going to instruct me. Where are the people to come from who are to give instruction in credit banking? May I suggest to the Solicitor-General that the best instruction in credit banking is to advance money and see what becomes of it. I venture to suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman that a very little practice is worth a very great deal of theory, and that you might waste a very large sum of money in paying salaries to people who would go about giving instruction in credit banking. The result would possibly be that the people who took their advice would lose their money, while the instructors would gain their salaries. My hon. Friend has quite a different idea. He wants national credit. I agree with him. My experience of banking leads me to believe that it is better to have the credit of the State behind you than merely to receive instruction in banking from lecturers. I am also a taxpayer, and I am not at all sure that I wish to see the credit of the State employed in connection with credit banks. When banks have the credit 2282 of the State behind them, they do all sorts of foolish things. I quite see that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Verney), who is looking to the development of the Port of London and making it superior to Continental ports, and the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing), who is going to make the agricultural districts glowing fields from which supporters of the Government will be returned, would desire the establishment of credit banks with the State behind them. After these hon. Gentlemen have had their fingers on the 2½ millions there would not be much left for others.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I hope the Mover of the Amendment is not going to accept the offer made by the Solicitor-General. There may be two opinions about the value of credit banks. There can be no two opinions about what has been offered by the Government. It seems to me that to include these words in the Bill is only to give rise to false hopes. I personally think that as we are anxious to secure the interest of the small farmer in the question of co-operation for marketing his produce, we are willing and anxious to give him all the assistance we possibly can. It seems to me that this can only be done by a system of credit banks, and I sincerely trust that my hon. Friend above the Gangway will insist on pressing this Amendment which he proposes, and which I think was going to be proposed by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Francis Channing). And I am quite sure that there is a very strong feeling among all sections of the House, more especially those of us who represent agricultural constituencies in favour of setting up some system of credit banking in connection with this measure. I hope that the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.
§ Mr. GEORGE TOULMIN
If the Government are unable to accept this Amendment, at all events I trust that the words which the Solicitor-General has suggested will be put into this Bill. I am afraid that the small way in which these credit banks operate is rather unworthy of the attention of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. These credit banks frequently begin in a small way. I think it very likely that if there was someone to indicate to the people in a district how a credit bank should be started it would grow. The money actually in the locality, though quite beneath the attention of the financier, would be very useful to 2283 labourers or small owners, and the money actually received in the locality would not go possibly to a savings bank, but would go into this small credit bank, and gradually grow there and prove very useful. What people of this class require is the assistance of someone who understands the matter. They have no experience themselves to begin, but once they do begin gradually the money accumulates, and not infrequently the result is to transform a locality. I do not despise the offer that has been made by the Government. I am quite as much in favour of the larger scheme as other hon. Members, but if the Government cannot accept the larger scheme I hope that they will still adhere to the suggestion that has been made.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
It seems to me, and I think it is the general opinion, that the proposal of the Government does not offer a solution of this matter. I am not sure that anything we have heard to-night does provide a solution of what is beyond all question a very important matter indeed, and one in which the deepest interest is felt by agriculturists in all parts of the country. What we require is a carefully thought out scheme for which undoubtedly a great deal can be said. Personally, so far as I am acquainted with the subject, under a properly arranged and carefully considered scheme of this kind, no doubt great benefit would be derived by the agricultural interests, and more especially by certain classes in agricultural areas. I agree entirely with what has been said, that from the actual experience which we have of what has been done in Ireland, and also in various countries abroad, we know that great advantages have been derived from the institution of a system of the same kind as that which is intended by the Amendment of my hon. Friend behind me. So far as the spirit of his Amendment is concerned, I am absolutely and entirely with him, but the question is this: How far will the insertion of the words which he proposes give effect to the views that he and I and a great many others of us share in common? If I was asked to put a precise interpretation upon the words "the development of agricultural credit," I own I should be unable to say precisely what that means. To whom does it apply? What classes is it intended to include? If those words were inserted in the Bill they would apply 2284 equally to the man with 100,000 acres or the small holder who has a little holding of four or five. Again, there is this consideration which has occurred to me while I was listening to the Debate: Are advances to be made from one kind of bank and for particular purposes in this country while they are withheld from other banks with which those banks would be more or less in competition? That is a question about which I would like to hear something more from my hon. Friend who has spoken just now, and who is well acquainted with these matters, and who is versed in City banks. I would like to get some instruction on the points which I have raised, because the matter does seem to me to be a very important matter. Personally, I am in sympathy with the object which my hon. Friend has in view, and if I could see any properly and carefully devised scheme which was to be inserted in this Bill he would have no warmer supporter than he would have in me. But I own I should require a somewhat clearer definition of how this should be carried out, of what is to be the precise intention and effect of the insertion of these words, and how the different agricultural classes in the country will be affected by them, before I could take upon myself the responsibility of voting for the insertion of these words in the Bill. We are raising an enormous question, which, of course, I am well aware is of great interest in the country, but we are without the material before us at this moment on which any of us can form a positive opinion as to what would be the effect of the words which are now proposed if they were introduced into this Bill. I wish I could have felt somewhat more hopeful in regard to the Amendment which is proposed. I may, perhaps, take some blame to myself for not having been more prepared than I am on a question which does undoubtedly affect the agricultural interest. But with all good wishes in my heart for the aspirations of the hon. Gentleman I own that I have some hesitation in voting for the insertion of these words in the Bill, the effect of which, with my present information, I am unable clearly to perceive.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I hope the House will now come to a conclusion on this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite deprecated the insertion of these words, and I do not pretend to have more knowledge than he possesses of the subject. I do not offer a stone instead of bread. It is certainly only a very small 2285 crumb, and it is not a loaf that I offer, nor do I pretend that the crumb is anything more than a crumb. The right hon. Gentleman was unable to understand the effect of these words, and I thought that he looked at me rather imploringly, but I must confess that I am entirely unable to give him any assistance in arriving at a conclusion in regard to them.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING moved, in paragraph (b), to leave out "and the extension of the provision of" ["provision of small holdings"], and to insert the words "encouragement by experimental holdings or otherwise of profitable methods of equipping and working."
§ I move this Amendment formally in order to ascertain whether the Government are prepared to accept it. It seems to me that the words in the Bill are an extension of the provisions of the Small Holdings Act, and are really unnecessary. Under the Small Holdings Act quite enough is done in the way of aiding the provision of small holdings, which I suppose these words mean. The words to which I attach substance and importance are those which would encourage the operations and the actual equipping and working of small holdings. The words which appear in the Section appear to me to be surplusage, having regard to the Small Holdings Act.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I second the Amendment, but rather more than formally. I go further than that, and I do most earnestly ask the Government to consider this matter very seriously. Here is another attempt, of which we have had so many, to tear up an Act which was only consolidated last year, and which has only been on the Statute Book for a year. Here are the Government proposals to set up an entirely different machinery. Parliament decided that the proper machinery by which to administer the Small Holdings Act was through the county council, aided and stimulated by the Board of Agriculture. I do not discuss whether that is a wise method; personally I think it was on the whole. The Government now propose to set up different machinery, under which apparently the county council, with local knowledge, has no say at all, and the work is to be done by Commissioners acting entirely independently of the Board of Agriculture. It has been said by some Members of this House that small holdings have not been provided as expeditiously 2286 as they might have been, but I content myself with merely calling the attention of the House to the annual Report of the Board of Agriculture. It says:—The rate at which laud is being acquired is now increasing rapidly, and we have little doubt that by Michaelmas, 1909, no less than 50,000 acres will have been obtained.… In view, therefore, of all the circumstances, we have no hesitation in saying that the results already achieved under the Act may be regarded with satisfaction, and that there has been little or no avoidable delay to carry out the intentions of Parliament. We have thought it right to call attention to the difficulties of the problem, but we are anxious that it should not be supposed that we consider the task of providing holdings for all suitable applicants is at all insuperable, or that it will not be possible to carry it out within a reasonable time.The House will see from this that the Commissioners appointed by the Board of Agriculture are satisfied that considering all the difficulties, sufficient expedition has been shown in providing small holdings. Yet, after this very brief trial, when everything that could be done has been done, we have now this proposal made for entirely new machinery, the only justification for which could be that the Small Holdings Act has entirely broken down. We had in Committee a speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he justified this proposal on the ground that under the Small Holdings Act, Clause 49, it was possible for county councils, or the Board of Agriculture, where the county councils were in default, to make grants to co-operative societies. I admit that is a very interesting point, and we have heard vigorous protests against advancing money to the small holder or co-operative society. But the whole policy is carried out in the Small Holdings Act without scruple. Under that enactment credit can be given to the small holder and to the co-operative society, and if it be wrong to do that now it could not have been otherwise than wrong to do it two years ago. Clause 49 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, is as follows:—
"(1) A county council may promote the formation or extension of, and may, subject to the provisions of this Section, assist societies on a co-operative basis, having for their object, or one of their objects, the provision or profitable working of small holdings or allotments, whether in relation to the purchase of requisites, credit banking, or insurance, or otherwise, and may employ as their agents for the purchase any such society as is mentioned in Subsection (4) of this Section.
"(2) The county council, with the consent of, and subject to regulations made by the Local Government Board, may, for the purpose of assisting a society, make 2287 grants or advances to the society, or guarantee advances made to the society, upon such terms and conditions as to rate of interest and payment or otherwise, and on such security as the councils think fit."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in Committee that the object of putting this Clause into the Bill with regard to the extension of small holdings was that out of the Development Fund money might be advanced to these co-operative societies. I rise to second the Amendment of the hon. Baronet, because he proposes to leave out those words which would duplicate the machinery for providing small holdings under the Small Holdings Act, and the object is to concentrate money from the Development Fund to the special purpose of having experimental holdings which would show the advisability of having small holdings where they would be likely to pay in any district. That to my mind is not very necessary, because under the Small Holdings Act I believe there is £100,000 already set aside largely for that purpose, and I believe that only a few thousands have been spent out of that £100,000. The Board of Agriculture have that money in their pockets. They have a full knowledge of the subject, not like the Treasury, which is entirely ignorant of it, and they have only thought it necessary to spend a few thousand pounds. I cannot conceive that it is necessary to provide in this Bill out of the Development Fund more money towards this object, when, up to the present time, not from want of means or inclination, the Government officials in charge of this matter have only thought it necessary to spend a few thousands of pounds. For those reasons because the words seem to be entirely unnecessary, and may result in extremely mischievous duplication of machinery, causing difficulties where there is no difficulty at present, and where good work is being done, I do most earnestly ask the Government not to complicate this Bill with a matter which is entirely foreign to it, and which has been dealt with, and which it is entirely unnecessary for them to reopen. Whatever may be said about this Bill, it has not been subjected to any hostile criticisms this afternoon—only criticisms with regard to points of detail. It is a great pity to complicate it more than is necessary, and it is already complicated enough. To bring in this allusion to another Bill, which has its own restrictions, into this Bill where those restrictions 2288 do not exist is, I submit, a very great mistake in legislation.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
What the Noble Lord and the hon. Baronet propose has, I think, to a great extent been already done. As one who has the duty of looking after the working of the Small Holdings Act and responsible in this House for its administration, or, as might be said, maladministration, I can assure the Noble Lord that there is not the slightest intention on the part of the Government to interfere, and that they have not come to the conclusion that the county councils are not the proper body to carry out the work of small holdings. The Noble Lord has referred to Section 49 of the Small Holdings Act, which enables grants to be made for credit banking, amongst other matters. I would remind the Noble Lord and the House that to put that part of the Act in force makes a heavy charge on the local rates, and I do not think the Noble Lord would be anxious to have that charge on the local rates. So far no county councils have shown any desire to do anything under Section 49.
§ Viscount MORPETH
This House has just definitely settled no money would be advanced for co-operative purposes. Words have been inserted, and the hon. and learned Solicitor-General has just refused an Amendment.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
If it was right and proper for the House to give powers to the county councils to do this I do not think the Noble Lord would say it was not proper to do so. I am surprised at his using that argument. On the other hand the object has already been explained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for putting this provision in. As he pointed out, it might be very desirable to buy a large area of, say, 10,000 acres for the purpose of afforestation and reclamation. There might be certain parts of that area which might not be profitable or desirable to plant with trees. On the other hand, there might be certain areas of that big estate that would be very desirable to turn into small holdings and to be treated entirely distinct from the question of afforestation. The small holdings might be of advantage for the men who were working at the afforestation. Those who know anything about afforestation know perfectly well that a number of men might be employed on the land just at a time when they would not be wanted in the woods and forests. Therefore it would be more economical in 2289 development for these purposes that small holdings might be created without having to go outside to another body or to ask the county council to take over that land. I think the House will recognise it might be very inconvenient that an outside body should come in upon this estate and interfere with the working of it. I can assure the Noble Lord there is no intention to substitute this Act for the provision of small holdings, and it is only where the Small Holdings Act would not be capable of being put in force that the Government desire to retain these words.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Gentleman really has not explained, as far as I can make out, why he wants these words. He gave again the instance which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us upstairs about afforestation. Surely he does not think, and I do not think the Solicitor-General does, that those words as to the extension of small holdings would cover the operation of afforestation or would have anything to do with the operation of afforestation, which accidentally, so to speak, is a by-product of small holdings. That would not be an extension of small holdings in the proper sense of the words. It does not mean afforestation and a small holding here and there, but the extension of small holdings. That is the obvious, clear meaning of the words. The hon. Member for South Somerset (Sir E. Strachey) said that he did not desire duplication of the machinery of the Small Holdings Act, and then I understood him to say that he did desire duplication for applying Imperial funds for purposes for which local funds were applicable. It is not a question of what the Government intend or mean, but it depends upon what power we are giving the Development Commissioners. It is not a question of what they now intend, but whether under those powers it is possible to create confusion in an Act that was passed last year. I must say that he does not appear to have met in any way the argument put forward by my Noble Friend (Viscount Morpeth) when he addressed the House.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
It is not the intention by words of this kind to supersede the provisions of the Small Holdings Act of 1908. The provision of small holdings was intended to be made through the county councils. The county councils may act on their own initiative or may be set in motion or may be more or less persuaded or coerced by the Board of Agriculture. We think that is the proper 2290 method of dealing with the matter. I can assure the House there is no intention at all by the insertion of these vague words to give the go-by to the previous Act, but it is quite true it is not what we state but how the Act of Parliament is to be construed. In order to relieve any anxiety, I am quite willing to deal with the matter upon the Amendment of the Noble Lord, which will come under another Sub-section if it is confined to the small holdings part. I cannot accept the Amendment in its wide terms; we must discuss that; but in order to allay any anxiety which may be entertained by hon. Members with reference to the question whether these vague words are intended to supersede the Small Holdings Act as far as the county councils and the provision of small holdings is concerned, I am quite prepared to accept the spirit of that Amendment if it is confined to small holdings.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Does the Solicitor-General mean that the Government will accept words dealing with small holdings? Of course, I cannot make any bargain with regard to the remainder of the Amendment. We shall have to discuss that; but I hope the Government will not make up their minds in regard to it until they have heard our case.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I could not discuss the Amendment now, and when I say that the Government will accept the spirit of it in its application to small holdings, my mind is entirely open with regard to the remainder. If this Amendment is not pressed I will accept some such Amendment as the following as a minimum—of course, it may be the maximum: "No advance shall be made for any purpose which may be carried out under the provisions of the Small Holdings Act, 1908, upon any terms or conditions different from those contained in that Act, except for some special reason which shall be stated in the Annual Report of the Development Commissioners." I think that will satisfy the Noble Lord and other Members who have spoken.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I do not see that the proposal of the Solicitor-General has advanced matters very much. As far as I am able to see, the difference between the Bill as it stands and the Amendment is that one proposes to promote the extension of small holdings, while the other goes further and states how that extension is to be given effect to. The Solicitor- 2291 General says that the proposals of this Bill are not in any way to supersede the provisions of the Small Holdings Act of 1908. The work under that Act was to be done by the county councils, coerced, if necessary, by the Board of Agriculture. If this proposal is not intended to supersede those provisions, what is the purpose of its introduction into the Bill?
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I am sorry to say I did not take in the special cases very clearly. They did not convey anything particular to me. If the Government have any definite proposals to make in regard to small holdings, I am sure both sides of the House would be most ready to entertain them. There is nothing that I personally would not do by which I thought I should really be promoting the extension of that system. But so far I am unable to gather what is the object of the Government in making this proposal. If I had to choose between the two, I should certainly vote for the Amendment, because it definitely lays down how the extension is to be carried out over and above what is provided for in the Small Holdings Act. The Government seem to think that the provisions of their own Act of 1908 are insufficient and unsatisfactory, and do not carry out the object for which they were intended. The hon. Baronet, at all events, makes a definite proposal by which he thinks more can be done.
§ Mr. F. N. ROGERS
I hope the Solicitor-General will not go too far in this matter. I yield to no one in my admiration of the way in which, on the whole, county councils do their work under the Small Holdings Act; but there are a number of cases which can never be dealt with locally by the local authorities. They occur particularly in places where there are now a large number of small farms either below 50 acres, which is the statutory limit, or between 50 and 150 acres. The local authorities cannot get land from those farms for small holdings. Over and over again we hear of parishes in which there are a number of men of the very best type of small holder anxious to settle on the land, who cannot get land in their district, and very often not even in their own county, because there is very little land in farms large enough to be cut for the purpose. There are cases of that kind in which it would be extremely useful to 2292 have power, under the Development Commissioners, for small holdings to be established centrally, or to be created apart from the various local authorities. The principle of the Small Holdings Act being worked through the local authorities is perfectly sound, but it has inevitably certain limitations, one of which is that a county council will only provide for people who live in the county and by land taken from the area of the county. I think it is desirable to support any proposal by which the needs of the people may be met by migrating them in the United Kingdom instead of driving them abroad.
§ Mr. ADKINS
I hope the Solicitor-General will not be tempted to depart from his offer because it does not seem to satisfy entirely all the Members present. There were a number of us on the Committee who warmly approved of this being included in the objects of the Bill, provided it is not used to supersede the provisions of the Small Holdings Act. If that is the undertaking which the Solicitor-General has given I hope it may become law, whether the House divides on this particular proposal or not; but, in view of that undertaking, I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment. These words are very valuable so far as they will be considered by the Commissioners, but all such words tend to exclude rather than include. If you insert details, the tendency of the law courts will be to limit the operation of the Clause to those details which are set forth. Subject to the Small Holdings Act not being superseded, I think we want to give the widest possible discretion to the Commissioners under the Bill.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I do not think the Solicitor-General has offered sufficient reason why we should not accept the Amendment. He spoke of the vague words of the Clause. The substantive words are that one of the purposes to which this money is to be devoted is "the extension of the provision of small holdings." That means clearly enough that the Commissioners are to undertake the work which we assigned last year to the Board of Agriculture and the local authorities. We are told by the hon. Baronet (Sir E. Strachey) that it does not mean that the Development Commissioners are to deal with small holdings directly, but that, if they take a large tract of land for afforestation, and find some part of it unsuitable for afforestation but suitable 2293 for small holdings, under these words they may apply that part of the land to this purpose. That is not, to my mind, the natural construction of the Clause, the meaning of which is that these Development Commissioners are to undertake the work which was assigned to the Board of Agriculture and the local authorities. We shall thus have a clashing and overlapping of labour, and a double expenditure of time, money, and effort to extend small holdings. What does the Solicitor-General suggest? He says that he does not wish this Commission to collide with the work of other Departments, and therefore he invites the Noble Lord, the Member for Marylebone (Lord Robert Cecil) to narrow down the purport of his Amendment to the question of small holdings and nothing else. It is very undesirable that this Amendment should be so narrowed. We want to ensure that the Commissioners shall not unduly interfere with other Departments of the Government. It would be very unsatisfactory if in lieu of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Francis Channing) that we should accept the suggestion of the Solicitor-General, and narrow down the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone to the very unsatisfactory limits to which he would confine it.
§ Mr. N. LAMONT
Some of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken seem to have entirely forgotten that this Bill applies to the United Kingdom. Although it may be quite possible if this Clause, as it stands at present, be passed into law, that there may be overlapping between it and the Small Holdings Act, so far as England is concerned, Scotland will not be thus affected. I, for my part, can only say that I trust that the Government will not accept this Amendment—that, indeed, they will strongly resist it, and, if necessary, divide against it.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I was a Member of the Commission that considered the question of afforestation. The evidence that was given by experts on the question proved beyond a shadow of a doubt—though I have not the Report by me, I remember well the consideration that was given by Members of the Commission to the fact—that it was considered one of the most economical methods both to provide labour and the general carrying on of afforestation, that it should be worked in conjunction with small holdings wherever possible to do so. This was, first of all, for the purpose of getting a regular 2294 supply of labour, and also because there are certain seasons of the year when it is impossible to do forestry work, and this, it so happens, is just the very time that labour on small holdings is particularly necessary. In addition, it may be possible—and often, I daresay, it may be impossible to do otherwise—in taking estates for forestry purposes that you would be obliged to take a certain strip or quantity of land, as the case may be, and some of it unquestionably would be more suitable for small holdings than for forestry. Consequently, it would be abusrd, if the Development Commissioners had to get rid of that part of the land rather than apply it for the purposes which would assist their work, which all the Members of the Committee and of the House are agreed is part of the work of these Development Commissioners, namely, forestry—
Forestry is not the subject; it is a question of small holdings under paragraph (b).
§ Mr. J. WARD
I am also dealing with the question of small holdings. I am saying how much more economically they can be carried into effective operation in conjunction with forestry, as has been suggested before the Commission that recently inquired into the subject. If the Commissioners established one extra small holding it is an extension of the principle of small holdings. For that reason you must have words extending the principle or extending small holdings. Surely it is by this very Clause suggested that these Development Commissioners eventually will be carrying on operations for the purpose of reclaiming land, and what more useful or judicious purpose can that land be put to than by the provision of suitable holdings? For all purposes, and for all reasons, it is most essential that these words should be retained, and that the House should also resist the limiting words which have been suggested by the Solicitor-General. The Bill as it stands is the proper thing. Any attempt to get away from it by limiting it in accordance with suggestions by hon. Members who are absolutely opposed to the Bill, and want to cripple it in every way they possibly can, should be resisted by those who are in favour of the full policy contained in the proposals.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The hon. Member who says that hon. Members who are supporting this Amendment desire to cripple the Bill is entirely mistaken. We have our views. I have mine. And in the Amend- 2295 ments that I have supported or opposed I have had no desire to cripple the Bill by any improper means. I have so far as possible considered each Amendment on its merits. I do not know that there is any great difference of opinion between some of us who represent the agricultural interest and other hon. Gentlemen as to small holdings, but I do not know that that implies that we who hold certain views should accept, as suggested, the Government's proposals with both hands. What does the Government propose to do? It is now the duty of local authorities, county councils, and the like, to provide small holdings. In addition, there is the Board of Agriculture. Now, in their anxiety to give those of us who own land increased value to our property, the Government propose to set up side by side with these authorities another set of Commissioners with independent powers. I am bound to say that this proposal is one which, if looked at from a point of view that hon. Members below the Gangway suggest that we approach this question is one that I should welcome. But what I want to remind the Government of is this: that this Amendment has been recommended by the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. Lamont), and the hon. Member for East Wilts (Mr. F. N. Rogers), on two totally different grounds. With regard to the Scottish case, the hon. Member for Buteshire has very good grounds for his complaint. I note with profound satisfaction his frank admission that the fault that they have not got an equivalent Act is shared by both sides of the House. So far as that is concerned it will be perfectly proper that the Government should introduce words which would enable the Commissioners to do this work with regard to small holdings in Scotland, where there is no authority for the purpose. As to the case of the hon. Member for East Wilts, I am bound to say that I hope the Government will not sanction by their silence the suggestions he made that the Commissioners should go marauding about the country taking land in any part or establishing colonies of small holdings for people who cannot be provided for in their own part of the country. I am bound to say that a proposal of that sort coming from a Gentleman like the hon. Member opposite, who thoroughly understands the agricultural question, fills me with amazement. If these small holdings are to succeed, one of the primary conditions that the men you establish must 2296 know the locality, the class of land they have to deal with, and the best opportunities they can avail themselves of in order to make their industry successful. And to set up powers which will enable the Commissioners to provide holdings for men in Essex who could not get them in Wiltshire is absolutely ridiculous. The Amendment of the hon. Member is one which everybody who wants the scheme to succeed and to see the policy of small holdings made successful ought to accept. Without discussing the Small Holdings Bill we have constantly urged that the Government should take powers to do experimental work in connection with small holdings. Our proposals were rejected. If you leave in the Bill the words which the Amendment proposes to omit the fear expressed by one of the Members for the Middleton Division of Lancashire (Mr. Adkins) will be realised, because you are going to set up two dual authorities charged with the same duties. You are going to tell the Commissioners that they have the power to go about England creating small holdings. I think it would be dangerous enough if this was done by the Commissioners acting under the Board of Agriculture, and it would be far safer in the hands of the county councils. If you leave these words in you will be leaving it open to have the Act interpreted as the hon. Member for East Wilts (Mr F. H. Rogers) proposes to interpret it and you will be exposing the whole policy of small holdings to danger by laying upon the shoulders of the Commissioners these great powers. If the hon. Member goes to a division I will support him, because I believe it would be a very great advantage to have power given to the Commissioners to do that experimental work, which would be an enormous advantage to the small holders in the future if they are to become successful men.
§ Mr. VERNEY
I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the words in the first Sub-section of the Bill. Surely he has forgotten that all this cannot be done except on the recommendation of the Development Commissioners to the Treasury, and surely he has not forgotten that the Treasury are doing this from a Government Department, through a Government Authority.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me what words he is referring to? His quotation is not to be found in the Bill. The Bill says that the 2297 Treasury may from time to time sanction, but it does not say to a Government Department.
§ Mr. VERNEY
That is quite true; but, on the other hand, it seems to me that this money advanced must be with the assent of the Treasury. It must come from the Treasury, and the Commissioners surely are not going about the country advancing money in hostility to the county councils. There is no suggestion of that kind. I certainly do not see it in the Bill, though I heard it in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It seems to me that to suggest that these Commissioners would go about having any hostility, or, at any rate, rivalry, with the local commissioners is going very far. I think probably what would happen is this. There may be certain cases where the local authorities cannot act for certain local reasons. The money may be very difficult to find, and let the right hon. Gentleman remember this great distinction that in the one case you are dealing with the public funds of the whole country, and in the other case you are dealing with the rates; that the defence made by the county councils in regard to the Small Holdings Act is that they must not lose any money by it. There are strict limitations, and it seems to me that advances from Imperial funds may be of the greatest possible help and assistance to local authorities. It may to some extent overlap, but I do not think it will in the least lead to rivalry or hostility.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The hon. Member's opinion of what may be done may be very valuable, but will he read the words in the Bill which will prevent the risk?
§ Mr. VERNEY
These are the very words to which I referred just now. "The Treasury may upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners appointed under this Act make advances to the Government Department or through a Government Department to a public authority," and so forth. It seems to me these words safeguard the advance of this money, and I cannot conceive for a moment the Treasury making such advances without making quite certain, as far as possibly can be, to see that the advances so made will result to the advantage of the county and the locality, and not to the disadvantage of the county and the locality, as assuredly it would be if done in the spirit and according to the methods indicated by the right hon. Gentleman. If I understand my hon. Friend near me, he referred 2298 to certain cases, known to himself and known also to me, where there is very great difficulty indeed in providing land for the very people who, of all others in the county, are most fitted to work it. There are instances known to me and to him and to those connected with county councils where the approved applicants by the county councils or the sub-committees of the county councils are at this moment unable to get the land which they of all people could work to the best advantage, and in cases of that kind the Commissioners come to the help of these local councils and local authorities, and may advance out of public funds what cannot at the moment be got from local authorities. Everybody concerned with small holdings committees come across these cases, and have felt the great need there has been for supplementing the funds.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin has shown his usual acumen in the arguments he has used in connection with this Amendment. This Clause does not give the Commissioners power to go about the country in competition with the county councils in regard to the provisions of small holdings. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Clause he will find it is proposed that: "The Treasury may, upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners appointed under this Act, make advances to a Government Department, or through a Government Department, to a public authority to provide for the provision of small holdings." It gives the Commissioners no power to provide for these small holdings and only power to sanction them, and approve of a scheme for the sanction of the Treasury issuing the money for that purpose. If the Amendment were carried, the effect would be that county councils desiring to extend small holdings, and desiring a grant or loan under this Act for that purpose, would not be able to obtain either the grant or the loan. That would be the effect of carrying the Amendment, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not desire that result. I do not fear another authority being set up to hasten the extension of small holdings, because it seems to me that the more pressure you can bring to bear in this matter, both as regards training people for small holdings and making provision for small holdings, the better it will be for all concerned. If the hon. Member presses his Amendment I shall certainly vote against it.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
In view of the promise made by the Solicitor-General, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. ROWLAND HUNT
The reason I support this Amendment is that it may have the effect of allowing the small holders to own their holdings. If these words were put in they might own them, and that is why I think this is a most necessary policy.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN moved, in paragraph (a), to leave out the word "including the purchase and planting of land."
§ In the course of the Debates in this House the Chancellor of the Exchequer has over and over again expressed the opinion that the purpose he had in view was that the expenditure of this money should be limited to experiments in the first instance. There appeared to be a general concurrence of opinion upon that point. As the Bill is drawn at this moment it is not limited to that experiment, and there is nothing to prevent a Government Department, with the sanction of the Treasury, from undertaking afforestation themselves to any extent they please. I always held the opinion that anything of that nature undertaken by a Government Department would be, in the first place, an entire departure from the practice and traditions of all the Departments in this country; and secondly, would probably end in a great deal of waste, and would be a most costly proceeding. For these reasons I move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The object of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is, in the first place, to limit the expenditure upon forestry; and, in the second place, he objects to the State becoming proprietors of anything like a forest. It is perfectly true that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, both on the second reading and in Committee upstairs, said that no doubt the experimental stage of forestry would be the only stage upon which there would be any considerable amount of money spent, but it should be remembered that this Bill is not one merely for a short number of years, but it is destined to operate for all time unless Parliament likes to repeal it. I think people who have given attention to this subject would be very sorry to think that the State never could do anything in the direction of afforestation 2300 except make experiments. We have had a very strong Report from the Royal Commission upon this question, but I will not trouble to make quotations from their Report. We know that, in the first place, what we do must be experimental, because that is the proper way to proceed, and that is the cautious way. In the next place the money at our disposal is to a great extent limited, although it may not be limited to the same extent in future years. We have only allowed £500,000, but there is a provision that any money which Parliament may devote for this purpose maybe used for the objects stated. Apart from the reasons I have submitted against the adoption of the Amendment, there is the fact that it will be very difficult in a matter of this kind to define what are experiments. The first stage of an experiment is a small plot, just like a garden. That is more or less successful, and then there is a further experiment in what is usually called a demonstration area. You have a bigger area where you transplant and develop what you have found upon your experimental plot. The next step is the practical planting of trees, not merely for demonstration or experiment, but in order that we may have a valuable asset in time to come for the State. There is every reason why the State should embark in this particular matter, no doubt within limits, with caution and guided by experience. It is an expenditure of money which it is very difficult to get private owners to make, because the return is a very long time coming, and it is not many men who are benevolent enough to afforest in order that their grandsons or their great grandsons may benefit. I hope for these reasons the House will adhere to the words by which we express our object in the Sub-section.
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved, in paragraph (a), after the word "research" ["the conducting of inquiries, experiments, and research"], to insert the words "within the United Kingdom." The object of this Amendment is to limit the powers of research to the United Kingdom, so as to confine the money which is to be spent within the United Kingdom. If it is necessary for the purpose of obtaining knowledge to send a Commission abroad, it could always be done by the Board of Agriculture coming to this House and obtaining the power on the Votes, but it seems 2301 to me rather beyond the scope of this Bill. We are all perfectly well aware that very often county councils and municipalities are very fond of indulging in trips abroad, and I believe some hon. Members below the Gangway often go abroad. I do not think it would be advisable that this Bill should be used for the purpose of allowing anybody, even hon. Members below the Gangway, to go searching in agricultural matters in other parts of the world.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The hon. Baronet is the last to say we have not anything to learn abroad, particularly in these matters. We know that there are small States on the Continent who are very much in advance of us in these matters, and I think we might safely leave the matter in the discretion of the Commissioners. They will not send any hon. Members below the Gangway or any hon. Members either on this side or on the opposite side of the House abroad merely for the purpose of giving them a trip.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), to transpose paragraphs (a) and (b).—[Sir Samuel Evans.]
Mr. LEIF JONES moved, at the end of paragraph (b), to insert the following new paragraph:—
(c) The provision and improvement of water supplies in rural districts.
The question I want to bring to the attention of the Government is one which, owing to the procedure upstairs, I was unable to discuss in Committee. It would, I think, shorten our proceedings if the Government could accept my Amendment. I do not think I need argue the great need there is in rural districts for a better water supply. The annual Report of the Local Government Board, 1907–8, is full of reports from rural districts in all parts of the country detailing the sufferings and diseases caused in villages by want of water and by the impurity of water:—
Helmsley Rural District.—Water supplies in many instances from most objectionable sources.
Sherborne Rural District.—Water supplies in three parishes insufficient, and in some cases taken from services liable to be dangerously polluted.
Bedale Rural District.—Water supply generally poor and defective.
Brandon Rural District.—Brandon, polluted wells; elsewhere in district, water supply is deficient or polluted.
I could go on reading extracts showing how widespread is the need for this provision. One of the main objects of this Bill
is the development of agriculture and rural interests, and the Government cannot carry out the purpose Parliament has in view unless they give ample power to the Development Commissioners to acquire and provide water supplies in the districts with which they are dealing. The Government have been talking of setting up rural industries and developing agriculture, butter making, dairy farming, and so on. But the first requisite for all of these is a pure and ample water supply, and I do not hesitate to say that had such water supplies been available there would not have been so much need for the Government to interfere in order to provide opportunities for agricultural development as at present. Unless it can be shown that most rural districts have got good water supplies the Government will fail in their endeavours to develop agricultural industries.
§ I shall be told that there is power under the Public Health Act, 1875, for rural districts to obtain a water supply, but the learned Solicitor-General must Know perfectly well that for this particular purpose the Public Health Act has broken down. That Act—the Act of 1875, Section 176—was no doubt intended by Parliament to confer compulsory powers upon local authorities to acquire water rights, but it was soon discovered that the words used did not actually cover water rights, and so for a period of 30 years these authorities have been without the protection which undoubtedly Parliament intended to give them in the Public Health Act. The result is to be seen in the perpetual inquiries held by the Local Government Board in rural districts and in the innumerable communications to local authorities calling upon them to provide water supplies when the Local Government Board perfectly well know that they have not the power to do so. It is, therefore, no answer to say that they have the power under the Public Health Acts. I know of five villages without a proper water supply simply because of the inability to come to terms with the riparian owners. I know, too, of a place in Cumberland where a water supply was left for a parish by a charitable owner, but it cannot be taken advantage of because one riparian owner chooses to block the way. My Amendment will enable that difficulty to be got over.
§ I would ask, further, why, even if there be means under the Public Health Act of getting a good water supply, some alternative plan should not be provided under this Bill. Alternative methods have been 2303 provided in other matters—in the case of small holdings, of light railways, and of subsidies for harbours—and surely, seeing that in the matter of rural water supplies the present system has broken down, the Government might well agree to the alternative method which my Amendment would afford. I may be told, and I think it is quite possible, that to provide a water supply is covered by the words of the Clause, "any other means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural industries." One of the most necessary "means" is the supply of water. I am exceedingly anxious, having regard to the Act of 1875, that these words should be put explicitly into the Bill. I am afraid that, if the Government do not explicitly say that in necessary cases they are going to develop water supplies, it may be found that they are prevented by some technicality, or by legal ingenuity of interpretation of the Act, from providing water, which is so necessary in developing industry. This matter has waited for thirty years, since a Select Committee of this House unanimously recommended that a drafting error in the Act of 1875 should be removed. Thirty years have passed and nothing has been done; but now the Government have an opportunity of doing something to help rural districts to obtain water supplies. I earnestly entreat them not to throw away this opportunity of remedying what is really a scandalous state of things in rural districts. I beg to move.
§ Mr. HUNT
I beg to second, because I am convinced of the necessity of a good water supply in rural districts. I regret to say that it is not often that the hon. Gentleman and I manage to agree. I think that the country ought to have good beer and good whisky. The hon. Gentleman does not think it matters in the least, but I do. As regards water supply, I have had something to do with water supply in the country, and I have also been upon several Committees on the subject. A great difficulty in the country is that if you establish a good water supply in the villages you are very likely in the process to deprive a great many people of water who do not get the benefit of the supply you establish. That is really a great difficulty. Hon. Gentlemen must remember that people in the country cannot afford to pay for their water. If they have got their water close to their houses, as they have in my part of the world, the working people themselves 2304 are very much against having a water supply for the village, because then they have to pay something for their water, whereas as it is now they can get their water for nothing. That is at all events one of the difficulties, and I do not quite see how that difficulty is to be got over in very many cases, unless there can be some arrangement come to in country districts to secure that everybody in a certain radius shall have the supply. Experts say that if you dig a deep well it will deprive people of water within a two-mile radius, thus outlying houses would have their water taken away altogether, and they would have no chance of getting it back. But I quite agree that it is a very important matter, though a very difficult one, and we should do something to put this matter right, and provide the villages with good water, one, at least, of the very great necessaries of life.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
My hon. Friend has been a close student of Parliamentary tactics and procedure, and he has fastened upon an opportunity, very ingeniously, of trying to bring into the Bill the provisions of a small measure which he has tried to get through the House to amend the Public Health Act, 1875. I am afraid we cannot insert this as one of the objects to be dealt with by means of this money. The provision of water in urban districts is quite as important, if not more important, than the provision of water in rural districts. The Amendments deals only with rural districts. The law under the provisions of the Public Health Act with regard to supply of water is precisely the same in this regard in urban as in rural districts. I suppose my hon. Friend's reply to that is that the urban districts have more money to spend, but that does not get over the difficulty which he says exists. He says the loophole in the Act of 1875 is that compulsory powers to acquire water were not included. If the hon. Member carried his Amendment he would not have compulsory power. The real and solid objection that the Government have to put this in is that the supply of water is a matter for the locality. It has always been dealt with as a matter of public health, and that is why it is dealt with in the Act of 1875. Water is a necessary of life, and local authorities can be compelled to provide it. I am sorry to hear that there are cases apparently where difficulties have been placed in the way of rural authorities in getting water supplies.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Any single riparian owner can forbid the thing being done, and unless you get an Act of Parliament there is no getting round it.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
No; the hon. Gentleman is wrong there. If you only want to get your water supply from a river, and if the diminution of the water in the river makes a difference to the riparian owner, he has his legal remedy, but that is only one case out of hundreds. In the ordinary course you get your water supply in rural districts from springs and wells. That is my answer. If you incorporate this Amendment in the Bill you would have water supplies being provided in hundreds of localities by means of public money which ought to be provided by means of a charge on the rates. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has emphasised the fact that we do not want moneys forming part of the Development Fund to be expended merely in the relief of the rates. That would be the effect of my hon. Friend's Amendment. His object is a very laudable one. I am afraid that there is often a difficulty with small local authorities in getting them to provide adequate water supplies for their districts. In any event, if the work is to be done, it ought to be done under the Public Health Act, and not by money granted from the Development Fund.
§ Mr. J. CULLINAN
I am going to deal with the question of water supply from an entirely different standpoint to that taken up by the hon. Member for the Appleby Division (Mr. Leif Jones). I ask the Government to accept the Amendment in view of paragraph (b), which provides that a free grant or loan may be made from the Development Fund for the purpose of aiding and developing agriculture in certain ways that are specified, and "by the adoption of any other means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural industries." Another purpose provided for in paragraph (c) is "The reclamation and drainage of land." Undoubtedly the drainage of several parts of Ireland is a matter of very great importance, but I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the water supply in several districts is just as important. It was my pleasure this year to assist one of the representatives of the Estates Commissioners in reinstating four tenants who had been evicted from their farms twenty years ago. I found that there was no water on the farms, and I said to the representative of the Estates Commissioners, "There is the 2306 explanation why these tenants were evicted." There are springs in the immediate neighbourhood, and it would be an easy matter for the farmers to get a water supply if a small loan could be given to enable them to carry out the work. For many years I have seen the necessity for improving the water supply in several districts, and when this case came under my notice I communicated with the Board of Agriculture requesting that steps should be taken to educate the people in the methods by which water supplies could be obtained. Not only is it important that water should be obtained for domestic purposes and for cattle, but also for irrigation. It is only a small expenditure which would be required to assist the farmers in this work. What I specially want by having the Amendment accepted is to have attention directed to the whole question of water supply for domestic and irrigation purposes. Even if you never gave a grant at all, but merely empowered the Board of Agriculture in Ireland to prepare schemes, go in for experiments, and show farmers themselves how to raise the water supply, you would be conferring an immense benefit on the agricultural community in Ireland. In the interests of the agricultural community in Ireland we ought to have some improvement in this matter.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
This is much too large a subject to discuss on an Amendment, and, of course, anyone familiar with the Public Health Acts and the way in which they have been worked, and also with the Local Government Act, must know very well that there is extreme difficulty in dealing with this question of water supply in rural districts. As soon as an urban district develops the water supply is provided just as light and drainage are. But in rural districts in many cases there is a lamentable condition as regards water supply, and anybody who can find some solution would be a public benefactor. The hon. Member for Westmoreland (Mr. Leif Jones) fell, unwittingly, I am sure, into an error in dealing with the question of land when he led the House to believe that the main difficulty in connection with the provision of water supply was the action of owners in regard to their rights as riparian owners. I speak with some knowledge of the subject, both as a private owner and as having been for many years at the Local Government Board. Of course, there are cases of unreasonable owners with 2307 regard to water supply just as there are unreasonable owners of various other classes of property, and if one came to divide them they would probably be distributed with equal proportions on both sides of the House. But the real difficulty is when you come to a small community—a village in a rural district—where the largest ratepayers, in nine cases out of ten, live outside the area which can by any reasonable process be supplied with water. The whole of these farms are liable to the rate which has to be made to procure the water supply, and they derive no benefit from the supply in many cases. Speaking with a knowledge of cases which are at the present moment going on, I am aware that one of the chief difficulties consist in the fact that the large ratepayers derive no benefit whatever from this water supply. The real difficulty is not the cost of buying the land. It is the cost of providing a reservoir at a point from which the supply can be distributed over the area, and the pipes and other necessary accommodation. Many rural districts produce as the result of a penny rate from £8 to £9, and in order to make a water supply for 600 to 700 people in such a district, buying the necessary land as cheaply as you like, you must incur an expenditure of £3,000 or £4,000. This has to be expended not in buying land but on pipes, reservoirs, distributing station, and pumping station. And this £3,000 or £4,000, which you must expend, must be repaid with interest in the course of 35 years, and the expenditure is so great that no rural district can meet it.
§ Question, "That this Amendment be made," put, and negatived.
§ Mr. STANIER moved, at the end of paragraph (b), to insert the words, "(c) The treatment of the diseases of animals."
§ The Board of Agriculture are always telling people who are interested in this subject that they have no money for the purpose of making research and extending our knowledge of the diseases of animals, the lack of which is very much against the interests of the country. We should investigate and study the pathology of these diseases in animals, some of which are also dangerous to human beings. Reference has been made to the subject of abortion. In my own district it is as bad as it can be, and I think that the figures which the hon. Baronet (Sir John Brunner) gave were not nearly large enough. Glanders, 2308 too, is a very serious disease. Only the other day the Member for South Somerset, (Sir E. Strachey) told us that there were 1,107 cases of anthrax in cattle, 34 in sheep, 220 in swine, and 58 in horses—total, 1,419. When one thinks also of the number of poor fellows who have died from this disease I think it will be conceded that the subject raised by my Amendment is one which ought to be gone into with much greater thoroughness than has been attempted up to the present time. We know the deplorable results of tuberculosis from the report which was issued the other day. Last autumn we had a very extraordinary state of affairs between the butchers and graziers, and I submit that if we could study these diseases by means of this Developement Bill we should be doing a very great service to the nation.
§ Mr. HUNT seconded the Amendment.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
Part of the hon. Gentleman's object is already met by the money which is given for research, but his Amendment speaks of "the treatment of diseases," and I am afraid we cannot give advances for that purpose. I am sorry, therefore, that I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I am sorry to hear the answer of the hon. and learned Gentleman. What is it we have already decided? "The Treasury may, upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners…make advances for the following purposes; Aiding and developing agriculture and rural industries." I know of no way agricultural and rural industries could be better developed than by assistance for getting rid of diseases from which animals suffer at the present time. There are great precedents for this. It was only by advances made from the Treasury that foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia were ever expelled. Enormous sums were spent, and with the greatest advantage to the nation in the great contest with those diseases, in which the Board of Agriculture were finally successful. Now the hon. and learned Gentleman says it is impossible to make advances for the purpose. Does he mean to say that by making advances for the purpose he would not be most effectually aiding agriculture? I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman does not deny that it would be most materially assisting, but he has given us no reason whatever for refusing. It really 2309 places the Government in this position, that they compel us to have doubts as to whether their protests of assistance to the agricultural interest under this Development Bill is so genuine as they would have us believe. I thought this was one of the Amendments which would have received the most hearty approval and support of the Government. There is a grant given out of the Local Taxation Account for the purpose of aiding the extirpation of swine fever. It has never been extirpated; I believe because the funds at the disposal of the Beard of Agriculture are not sufficient. I do hope on this point, in a Bill which is professedly introduced with the great object of assisting agriculture, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer dilated on in every speech he has made, that we may hear some very different reason for refusing this Amendment than anything we have heard yet from the hon. and learned Gentleman, who, I must say, dismissed the question in a rather cavalier manner.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman complains that we do not take power under this Bill to provide for the treatment of diseases of animals. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that we should have the power to, have veterinary surgeons and send them about to treat animals with disease, free. I do not agree that that is quite the reason for which money is being placed at the disposal of the Board of Agriculture and other Departments. On the other hand, it is quite a different
§ matter if the right hon. Gentleman complains that by this proposal we shut out such investigations as those conducted by the Departmental Committee on Epizootic Abortion in Cattle. Those investigations are very valuable, and the knowledge obtained will be most useful. But it is quite impossible to accept an Amendment which, on the face of it, seems to propose veterinary medical relief in the same way that you provide doctors for paupers.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The hon. Baronet has quite misunderstood me. I was asking the Government to promote the extirpation of the cattle diseases which are now prevalent in the country. I stated that there were ample precedents for its being done, and expressed the view that there was no better object to which funds could be applied under a Bill whose purpose was to aid and develop agriculture and rural industries.
§ Mr. WILLIAM JONES
I should have thought that this question would have come under "scientific research." It does in other countries, such as Denmark and Canada. If a grant of money is made to the agricultural department of a university in America for scientific research in connection with agriculture, the term "scientific research" includes such matters as the improvement of stock and the investigation of cattle diseases.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 39; Noes, 145.2311
|Division No. 787.]||AYES.||[10.55 p.m.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Doughty, Sir George||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fletcher, J. S.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Forster, Henry William||Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gardner, Ernest||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hamilton, Marquess of||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hunt, Rowland|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Long, Rt. Hon. Welter (Dublin, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Morpeth, Viscount||Stanier and Major Renton.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beale, W. P.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Beauchamp, E.||Byles, William Pollard|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boland, John||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Astbury, John Meir||Boulton, A. C. F.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Bowerman, C. W.||Clough, William|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Brigg, John||Clynes, J. R.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rainy, A. Holland|
|Crossley, William J.||Keating, M.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cullinan, J.||Kekewich, Sir George||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Kelley, George D.||Reddy, M.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Rees, J. D.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Laidlaw, Robert||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Dillon, John||Lamont, Norman||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robinson, S.|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Lewis, John Herbert||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lundon, T.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Lupton, Arnold||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Gill, A. H.||Lynch, H. B.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Seddon, J.|
|Glendinning, R. G.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Shackleton, David James|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||M'Callum, John M.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)|
|Gulland, John W.||Marnham, F. J.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Middlebrook, William||Summerbell, T.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Mond, A.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Morse, L. L.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Murphy, John (Kerry, E.)||Toulmin, George|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Napier, T. B.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Nolan, Joseph||Verney, F. W.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Nuttall, Harry||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Henry, Charles S.||O'Grady, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Hogan, Michael||Partington, Oswald||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Pointer, J.|
|Jenkins, J.||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Norton and Mr. Whitley.|
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved to leave out Paragraph (c): "The reclamation and drainage of land."
§ There are only five or six words in the Sub-section, but they cover enormous possibilities. I lived quite a number of years upon an estate where a great portion of the land had been drained and reclaimed 60 or 70 years previously. The owner spent £150,000 or £160,000 in reclaiming some thousands of acres. Years afterwards it was sold for £60,000 or £70,000, showing the enormous loss that accrued. The land was very successful at first, and grew good crops, but when the bad times came, and prices were bad, the rent returned did not suffice to pay anything like the money which had been expended upon the reclamation and drainage of the land. The retention of the Subsection might be advocated if it were limited merely to the drainage of land, because the drainage of land does not cost very much and may do a considerable amount of good; but from the discussion in Committee on this matter everyone came to the conclusion that that was not the intention of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would be necessary to reclaim land in order to start an 2312 afforestation scheme upon such reclaimed land. That seems to me to be making the paragraph much worse. Afforestation is one of the most expensive things that can possibly be carried out. I have spent a great deal of money upon afforestation on a very small scale, with the result that I have only got a few trees, and I have wasted a great deal of money.
§ The Solicitor-General told us that a lawyer knew a little about everything. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has ever reclaimed any land, or had any experience of the enormous cost of reclaiming land, and of the poor result that ensues after the land has been reclaimed. If he has not I hope he will take it from me that if he wants a way to pour money into the sea, the simplest way to do it is to attempt to reclaim land. I do not see what is the particular advantage of this paragraph. I do not gather that it is the intention of the Government to start a new heaven and a new earth, and I do not think they want to include in this Bill everything that can possibly occur in the fertile brain of man, more especially as they limit the amount of the money. That may be the idea of some hon. Gentlemen who support the Government in view of a General Election, but I do 2313 not think that is the view of the Government. I believe the Government are of opinion that some good results will flow from this Bill, but if this paragraph be left in I do not think any good results can follow. An hon. Member from Ireland objected to the omission of this Subsection on the ground that the drainage of land was very much required in Ireland. There are a good many things wanted in Ireland, and the representatives from Ireland have been able to get a great many of them, but we ought not to so overload this Bill that the result will be a failure as regards the projects which the Bill is intended to carry out. I earnestly request the Solicitor-General to consider very seriously whether he can accept this Amendment. I do not believe that there is in England a very large quantity of land which can be reclaimed, and if it is reclaimed it will not be worth much. There may be some in Scotland, but in all probability if it is in the North of Scotland, where the soil is very poor, it will not be worth the large sums of money which will have to be spent upon it. This paragraph has really nothing to do with the promotion of agriculture, and therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman might very well accept my Amendment.
§ Mr. FELL seconded the Amendment. I regret the President of the Local Government Board is not here, because he could tell us the result of a small attempt at reclamation in which he was interested on a small island on the northern side of the Thames. That case was a lamentable failure. After £12,000 had been spent, the land reclaimed was estimated to be worth £2,000.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
This matter was discussed upstairs on an Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin). Reclamation, really, to be profitable, must be done with care and circumspection. Then it is a very useful thing. The hon. Baronet said that he had known cases where a great deal of expenditure had been embarked upon, and it was really nothing better than pouring money into the sea. It may be that those were bad cases of investing money in that particular way, but I know of many cases where the contrary could be shown. I was engaged in a case not many years ago where land had been reclaimed near the seashore and where a small portion of it was afterwards acquired for the purposes of a dock. It would 2314 astonish the hon. Gentleman if I gave him the figure which the arbitrator fixed as the price of that land. I know another extraordinary case where land was reclaimed near a very flourishing town of 200,000 inhabitants. It would surprise many people if I said how many pounds per acre were paid for that land. Reclamation is no doubt a useful thing for the development of the resources of the kingdom. It ought to be done with care and caution, and I have no doubt that will be the way in which reclamation will be pursued under this Bill. I do not suppose the site on which we have erected these beautiful buildings will ever be put up to auction, but there was a time, not many generations ago, when it was a mere mud island. Instances might be multiplied. If these Commissioners are in various directions to employ this public money for public purposes, I think this is one of the directions in which that money might be most usefully employed.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The instances given by the hon. and learned Gentleman are totally different from the instances I have in mind. He has given instances of land which has been reclaimed close to towns, and where it was wanted for the purposes of those towns. Is that the object of the Bill? Is the object of this Bill to reclaim land near the towns? That certainly is not the idea of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire; his wish is to assist agriculture. He does not think it a Bill for assisting towns to develop in various directions. In how many places in England are new docks wanted? Are we to understand that these Commissioners are to go searching all around the coast in order to find land which they may reclaim, and when they have reclaimed it sell them for docks? Are they to try and discover directions in which towns may extend, and to reclaim land to enable them to do so? If that is the idea it seems to me that the Commissioners will be entering into enormous business speculations, with which those of Ernest Terah Hooley cannot compare. Not only will they be promoting agriculture, harbours, roads, and transport, but they will be going round the country to see what port may be profitably developed. These sort of things ought not to be done, and they certainly do not represent what the Bill is intended to carry out. I am sorry the hon. and learned Gentleman does not see his way to accept it. I am afraid I must press it to a division.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I find myself in some difficulty in regard to this Amendment, because while I agree with my hon. Friend on the matter of reclamation, I am not with him with regard to drainage, which is essential for the welfare of agriculture.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I only mentioned reclamation in order to show how profitable schemes had proved, and I did it as an answer to instances cited by the hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I have an Amendment on the Paper which will enable me to deal with the drainage question, and therefore
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved to leave out paragraph "(d) The general improvement2316
§ I think my better plan will be not to vote at all on this Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am quite willing to withdraw my Amendment in favour of that of the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I suggest that in the interest of progress, but as it is objected to I must go to a division.
§ Question put, "That the word 'the' stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 23.2315
|Division No. 788.]||AYES.||[11.20 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||O'Grady, J.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Partington, Oswald|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Beale, W. P.||Henry, Charles S.||Pollard, Dr.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Higham, John Sharp||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Boland, John||Hogan, Michael||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Boulton, A C. F.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Brigg, John||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Idris, T. H. W.||Robinson, S.|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Jardine, Sir J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jenkins, J.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Kekewich, Sir George||Seddon, J.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Kelley, George D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Clough, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Lamont, Norman||Summerbell, T.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Lehmann, R. C.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Crossley, William J.||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Toulmin, George|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Lupton, Arnold||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Dillon, John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Verney, F. W.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Marnham, F. J.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Middlebrook, William||Wiles, Thomas|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Mond, A.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Findlay, Alexander||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Gill, A. H.||Morse, L. L.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Napier, T. B.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Nolan, Joseph||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Nuttall, Harry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain|
|Gulland, John W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Norton and Mr. Whitley|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doughty, Sir George||Renton, Leslie|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fletcher, J. S.||Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Gardner, Ernest||Stanier, Beville|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hamilton, Marquess Of||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Morpeth, Viscount||Frederick Banbury and Mr. Fell.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
§ of rural transport (including the making of light railways, but not including the con- 2317 struction or improvement of roads)." I should like to know what that really means. Apparently roads are not to be made, but light railways are. Does it mean that railway companies are to be competed against with money provided by the State? If that is so it is a most unfair provision for the State to compete with people who have invested their money on terms sanctioned by an Act of Parliament. It seems to me that there can be no other interpretation of the Clause. It is a very important question when one remembers that there is very nearly £1,300,000 invested in railway companies—very nearly double the amount of the National Debt—to allow the State to enter into competition with private enterprise is not only a new departure, but one which will deal a very serious blow at the investment of capital, and will assist the investment of capital abroad. This is a question of extreme importance, and I hope the Solicitor-General will give us some information upon it.
§ Viscount MORPETH
It seems to me that paragraph (d) should be in Part II. of the Bill, because the matter of rural transport is one that could better be dealt with by the Road Board than by the Development Commissioners. It is part of the same problem. One objection which I have to the paragraph is that the Government propose to exempt light railways from the condition which bars companies working for profit from participating in the benefits of the Development Fund. That is a dangerous principle to introduce. It is notorious that light railways are only the beginnings of what turn out to be portions of the regular systems of some of the large companies. I do not see how, if the Government provide for light railways being made with public money, they are going to prevent them from being afterwards absorbed by large companies. It seems to me that the rivalries between railway companies should not be complicated by their being able to acquire light railways, constructed partly with money provided by the ratepayers.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The reason why the construction or improvement of roads is excluded from this sub-head is because these are matters which are dealt with in the second part of the Bill. The Local Government Board suggested that the whole of paragraph (d) should be relegated to the second part of the Bill, but the House will understand that the question 2318 of rural transport is an important one for the development of the country, not only from the agricultural point of view, but from other points of view, and therefore it was decided that the paragraph has its best place here. The Noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) said that light railways ought not to be in this part of the Bill. He stated, quite rightly, that in many cases light railways had been absorbed by big railway companies. They are roads by which a great deal of traffic may be collected, and sometimes that is a great advantage to a light railway itself. To obviate anything of that kind being done, the grants made for assisting in the development of light railways may be grants conditional on certain repayments or certain shares in the profits, and so forth. I think it would be quite easy to make a feasible plan to protect the public in respect of the advances of public money for the purpose of assisting in the construction of light railways. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) said that, apparently, the Government intended under this sub-head to enable public money to be used in the construction of railways which would compete with the railway companies. I think that in most cases, so far, the light railways, instead of being competitors, have been really feeders of the large railways. They have provided facilities for rural transport, and have brought goods to be carried by the large railways.
§ Lord BALCARRES
It would be convenient if the Solicitor-General would now make a statement on a matter which he undertook to consider. It is quite clear that there is a close analogy between this paragraph (d) and the whole of the new part of the Bill. This was pointed out upstairs, and I think two divisions were taken on the subject, and I moved an Amendment which was withdrawn in consequence of the undertaking of the Solicitor-General to consider the point. The point is simple: that either the Commissioners in Part II., in making new roads or improving old ones, should consult with the Commissioners in Part I., who make schemes for the improvement of rural transport, or vice versa. My contention was that the two parts of the Bill should be brought into harmony, and that the two sets of Commissioners should consult each other. I withdrew my Amendment because it was badly drafted, and the Solicitor-General undertook to consider the point. Perhaps he will make a statement now.
§ Lord BALCARRES
There is very little prospect of the Road Improvement part of the Bill being discussed in this House. It is only in relation to the suggested joint conference between the two bodies of Commissioners.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
If the Noble Lord wishes to make a statement I see no objection, but I have no doubt that we shall be able to discuss that part of the Bill. It is all machinery after the first part of the Bill, and I think that there is no doubt about it that we shall be able to discuss that particular part of the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The learned Solicitor-General did not answer my question, What is the meaning of rural transport? He says that it will not compete with railways because all it can do is feed railways. But where in the Bill is there anything about feeding railways. When we come to consider Part II., provision for making new roads, which originally meant motor roads, the thought must occur to
§ everybody that rural transport might be held by the Commissioners to mean the provision of free motor cars. Under this Clause, as it stands, there is nothing to prevent the Commissioners saying that, considering the railway rates are high, they are going to run, under this Bill, in conjunction with the Road Commissioners, a series of cars at a rate merely sufficient to pay the running expenses. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman say there is anything in the Bill to prevent that?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. and learned Gentleman admits that he does not think there is anything. Unless he gives an undertaking to put in words to prevent that, I must divide the House.
§ Question put, "That the words 'general improvement of rural transport' stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 121; Noes, 10.2321
|Division No. 789.]||AYES.||[11.45 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||O'Grady, J.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Gulland, John W.||Partington, Oswald|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Philippe, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Beale, W. P.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Beauchamp, E.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Pollard, Dr.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Ponsonby, Arthur A W. H.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Boland, John||Helme, Norval Watson||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Henry, Charles S.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hogan, Michael||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Brigg, John||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.)||Robinson, S|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Horniman, Emslie John||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jardine, Sir J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jenkins, J.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Seddon, J.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Shackleton, David James|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Keating, Matthew||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Kelley, George D.||Summerbell, T.|
|Clough, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Lamont, Norman||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Toulmin, George|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lewis, John Herbert||Verney, F. W.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lupton, Arnold||Wiles, Thomas|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Dillon, John||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Marnham, F. J.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Doughty, Sir George||Middlebrook, William||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Mond, A.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morse, L. L.|
|Findlay, Alexander||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Nuttall, Harry||Norton and Mr. Whitley.|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Magnus, Sir Philip||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)||Frederick Banbury and Viscount|
|Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Stanier, Beville||Morpeth.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of|
Question, "That the words 'inland navigations' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. CULLINAN moved, in paragraph (d), after the word "railways" ["the making of light railways"], to insert the words "and the establishment of motor services."
§ Mr. CULLINAN
It was stated over and over again in the Committee that this object was included. If that is so, why should the Solicitor-General object to having it specifically stated? If, however, the hon. Gentleman gives an assurance that it is included, I shall be satisfied.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS assented.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As the Government desire to get Clause 1, after which they intend to adjourn, and as we shall not have much time to-morrow, in order to facilitate business, I will not move to leave out paragraphs (e) and (f)—the construction and improvement of harbours and canals; but I wish the House to understand that I object very strongly to those proposals.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS moved in paragraph (f) to leave out the word "canals" ["The construction and improvement of canals"], and to insert instead thereof the words "inland navigation."
§ Canals are only one species of waterway. "Inland navigation" is much wider and will enable money to be given for improving estuaries, the banks of navigable rivers, and so forth.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
We appear now to be embarking upon a variety of new works, which will probably involve enormous expenditure. Can the Government give any approximate idea of the amount of money that is likely to be spent on these three items of harbours, canals, and fisheries? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that the great object of the Bill is to improve the agricultural situation in the country, but if these items are put in seriously as works to be carried out, there will be no money whatever for agriculture.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
This is a class of work in the same category as harbours. It is impossible for the Government to lay before the House any estimates of the expenditure upon this particular purpose. The expenditure for all these purposes is limited for next year to £500,000, and until such times as Parliament grants more money. It is a very small sum. If we had had a discussion upon harbours, and not one upon inland navigation, I could have told the House, if the Members had wanted to know—although they know already—of the very large sums of money spent in countries abroad in the improvement of their waterways. It is quite true that the money Parliament is allocating this year to be spent upon these works is very small. We hope it is only a beginning. This can only be a beginning of these works. We hope it is the beginning of much bigger things. I think what is struggling in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman is that agriculture will not have the share that he desires that it should have. I do not know that I can say for the Government how much will be spent upon harbours, and how much upon canals. It will depend upon the schemes put forward, and upon those that are sanctioned by the Treasury at the instance of the Commissioners. But I think that, inasmuch as the origin of this Bill is the feeling that is abroad in the country, something more ought to be done to improve the agricultural resources of the country, that for the first few years at any rate—before these large works are embarked upon, and anything like a considerable expenditure of money arranged—that most of the money will be spent upon agriculture.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The reply of the Solicitor-General is quite satisfactory as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. He says that in his belief the beginning of the expenditure will be upon agriculture. I confess I do not see it at all, at all events so far as this part of the kingdom is concerned. In view of recent-proceedings in this House, I am inclined to believe that the greater part of this money will go to Ireland. I want to point out that there is nothing in this Bill which 2323 gives any security that the views of the Solicitor-General will be carried out. He tells us that agriculture will come first, and that the other works will only follow if there is money left. Well, I want to ask the House whether we seriously propose to put in these waterways, which, if any work is to be done, will involve serious expenditure. It is perfectly true that there are in the country a certain number of canals—I am sorry to say too many of them—which have fallen into disuse, and upon which, comparatively speaking, a moderate expenditure would produce a very useful waterway for slow and cheap traffic. This would be an enormous benefit. It is nobody's business to do this work at the present time. Some of these canals are owned by railway companies, and some by the old canal companies. But if this expenditure, when it begins, is going to be confined to the estuaries of rivers, and so on, then, instead of £500,000, you had better devote £5,000,000! It will require this to attain effective results. If you do not mean to spend money on putting these estuaries in order, then I say it is a fraud. If you mean what you originally did in creating this authority, and that is to give them power to deal with some of these canals, I have nothing to say against that at all. But to put in these wider words is nothing less than a fraud. There is very great difficulty in ascertaining what provision is to be made in regard to funds. The Solicitor-General has been good enough to tell us this money will come partly under this Bill—the money is only to be available from the 1st of April, 1910–11—and the rest of it will come from the finance proposals of the Government, and therefore this Bill will depend upon the financial arrangements made by the Government in their Finance Act. That was a little difficult to understand, and we are very much indebted to him for his clear statement, and for the information he has given. I hope the Solicitor-General may be induced now to withdraw his Amendment, for I say if that Amendment is made now it would amount to a fraud unless double and treble and quadruple the amount of funds are provided.
§ Mr. WILLIAM JONES
I am rather surprised at the remarks which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman, because it was his Government in 1900 and 1901 that first moved in this matter. The Chambers of Agriculture moved Lord Lansdowne, who was at the Foreign Office, to get reports from all the various countries 2324 of the world as to the use made of the waterways, canalising rivers and deepening rivers for the sake of agriculture. Very important letters were received from ambassadors and attachés, giving very important information indeed, not only in regard to the Elbe and Volga, but also small rivers and almost insignificant streams in Austria-Hungary, where sums like £12,000 and £10,000 went a long way. I have read all these reports. In some instances the Government lent to local authorities £120,000 or £200,000, but I find sums like £12,000, £10,000, £8,000, £6,000 and £5,000 went a great way to facilitate progress and to carry merchandise from farms on rivers' banks to the next market place. The right hon. Gentleman knows Dresden well, and if he goes there he will see a town which is hundreds of miles from a seaport with facilities of navigation very like an open port. These things have been done in Austria-Hungary and in France, and they have been done in America. The Chambers of Agriculture have been crying out for this for the last 20 years, in order to facilitate the bringing of produce to the nearest market towns. You can do a great deal in the way of canalising rivers and deepening river estuaries and giving great facilities for the marketing of agricultural produce.
§ Mr. CULLINAN
It is not often that I am anxious to agree with the prophecies of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South County Dublin (Mr. Walter Long), but when the right hon. Gentleman indulges in the prophesy that most of this money will be spent in Ireland, I confess I am anxious to agree with him. There are many rivers in Ireland which can be developed in this way in order to cheapen transport, such as the River Suir and other Irish rivers. The best way to improve the industries of a country is by scientific research, and that provision in itself is very valuable. Hon. Members belonging to the Opposition seem to have ignored that fact completely, and have tried to minimise it in every possible way. I hope the Solicitor-General is satisfied that the words he suggests will cover the general development and improvement of estuaries and rivers.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The hon. Member who has just sat down says we are trying to minimise the effects of this Bill. That is not so. What we have done repeatedly is to point out that the Government is taking power which it will be almost impossible for the Commissioners to exercise. 2325 This proposal will enormously increase the scope of the measure, and the House may as well realise at once that we are overcrowding Clause 1 of the Bill to such an extent that it will be impossible for the Commissioners effectively to carry out the powers vested in them. Upon this question of canals a Royal Commission has teen sitting, I believe, for three years, and it will report, no doubt, very soon. Personally, I have not the smallest doubt that this Commission will closely follow the precedent followed by the Commission on coast erosion and afforestation, and recommend a great national scheme. In paragraph (f) power is given to deal with such recommendations, and this Bill provided £500,000 for five years and such other sums as the Annual Estimates may afford. I will engage to say that either the recommendation of these Royal Commissions will, ex hypothesi, become a dead letter or, if any attempt is made to put them into operation, the rest of the services provided for under this measure must be stopped. This Clause, which is to be controlled and directed by half a dozen gentlemen, provides sources of expenditure which might possibly run into £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 a year. This body of gentlemen, with the best will, and even with the best staff in the world, could not possibly supervise such a great variety of subjects. The House must appreciate that the potentiality of this Clause is so great that there is no prospect of their being carried into effect.
§ Question, "That the word 'canals' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved in Sub-section (1) to leave out the words "for any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom."
§ It is even beyond the great powers of the hon. and learned Gentleman to explain what is meant by those words. The only thing I can conceive is that the Government, having put down everything they could think of, feared they might possibly have left out something which might lose them the vote of some gentleman who, under some fortunate circumstances, might hope to get something under this Bill, and, therefore, added these words which will cover anything. The words seem to 2326 me to be too ridiculous for a serious House of Commons to discuss. I should have thought even this Government would not have had the face to put in such words.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I have pleasure in seconding this Amendment. I earnestly hope, though I do not expect, the Government will accept it. These words are really quite indefensible. They would cover almost anything that can possibly be imagined. They would cover a system of subsidies to ships, bounties on the growth of wheat, and almost any conceivable operation which could be undertaken by any body of men. I cannot conceive why the Government wish to have these words. I entirely agree that the Bill is already overloaded, and unquestionably, if the scheme fails, as I fear it will on the present lines, it will be because it is of far too ambitious a character. I very much regret myself that the Government did not proceed gently in the first instance, starting with objects which could really be carried out with the amount of funds which would be at their disposal. If in such a case their efforts had met with success, they could afterwards have obtained legislative sanction for further undertakings, and there would have been little difficulty about it, inasmuch as the machinery would already have been set up, and there would be no trouble in raising the necessary money. I bitterly regret many of the paragraphs contained in this Clause. The only reason why we are not dividing against them is that the time is so short. But this particular proposal appears to me to be so utterly indefensible that I cannot imagine on what grounds the Government ask the House to pass, the words. What on earth are the "other purposes" referred to in this Clause?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I am unable, under my instructions, to accept this Amendment. It is the desire of the Government that the words should remain. It has been suggested by one hon. Member that they add to the overloading of the Bill, while another has declared that they mean nothing. Both views cannot be correct. I confess it must be a long time before the works described in the Bill can: be carried out, but the sole object of putting in these particular words is to cover any possible omission of desirable development work.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The hon. and learned Member has told us, with great frankness, that he has no authority from the Cabinet 2327 to omit this paragraph. The question has been put to him very explicitly. What are these "other purposes" referred to here? Has he been instructed to remain silent on that point? When the Cabinet gave him instructions to retain these words, did they explain to him what the purposes were which they were intended to cover? That is a perfectly legitimate question, which I think I am entitled to ask, especially as we now have the advantage of the presence of a Cabinet Minister on the Front Bench, which has been an event of rather rare occurrence during these discussions. I will take the liberty of asking the President of the Board of Trade to explain how it is that the learned Solicitor-General cannot answer our question. Why was the hon. and learned Gentleman not instructed to explain, or is it the case that he was instructed not to explain, the meaning of the inclusion of these words, "and for any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom"? Will the President of the Board of Trade be kind enough to tell us what are the other purposes that are referred to in this
§ Clause? That is a perfectly simple and clear question, and one to which, I think, we are entitled to ask for an answer from him, seeing that he is a member of the Cabinet which has not given instructions to the Solicitor-General to convey the information.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Winston Churchill)
The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to me, and although I have not been in charge of the details of the Bill I feel that, as he has asked me, he is entitled to a reply. The Clause states in great detail a number of specific objects which I think it is generally agreed are desirable. The different Sub-sections will, I believe, cover every object for which money is to be spent. The Commissioners in their discretion should not be hampered, but should have reasonable latitude in the application of the principle.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 91; Noes, 23.2329
|Division No. 790.]||AYES.||[12.25 a.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Pointer, J.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Helme, Norval Watson||Pollard, Dr.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Henry Charles S.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hobart, Sir Robert||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Beale, W. P.||Hogan, Michael||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Beauchamp, E.||Horniman, Emslie John||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Jardine, Sir J.||Robinson, S.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Jenkins, J.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Brigg, John||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Seddon, J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Lamont, Norman||Shackleton, David James|
|Byles, William Pollard||Levy, Sir Maurice||Summerbell, T.|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Lewis, John Herbert||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lupton, Arnold||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Toulmin, George|
|Clough, William||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Verney, F. W.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Marnham, F. J.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Middlebrook, William||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Cullinan, J.||Mond, A.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morse, L. L.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||O'Grady, J.|
|Gulland, John W.||Parker, James (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||Partington, Oswald||Norton and Mr. Whitley.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Doughty, Sir George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Forster, Henry William|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Morrison-Bell, Captain||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Renton, Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Stanier, Beville||Frederick Banbury and Lord Robert|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Cecil.|
Lords Amendments considered and agreed to.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (1), after the words "development of the United Kingdom," to insert the words:—Provided that advances may be made under this Section to an association of persons or a company for the purpose of a light railway or harbour, notwithstanding that such association of persons or company may trade for profit.I think probably it will be agreed that the objects for which light railways and harbours are made are to a certain extent public purposes, and it is in order to provide that advances may be made in respect of such undertakings that I move this Amendment. I hope it will be accepted by the House.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I hope the House will not accept this Amendment. I understand that the Solicitor-General left it an open question for the House to decide. It seems to me to be a great mistake to place the Commissioners in the invidious position of having to refuse the application of one private concern while granting the application of another private concern. Why light railways and harbours are singled out for this special treatment has not been explained.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
In the same way as everything else in the Clause we are discussing. The general improvement of rural transport, and the construction and improvement of harbours and canals, are quite as much public purposes as the two exceptions made in this Amendment, and to none of these can a single penny be given by the Commissioners if they are being run for profit. Why exceptions should be made in the other cases passes my comprehension. I hope the symmetry of the Bill will not be destroyed by the passing of the Amendment.
§ Viscount MORPETH
When the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin) moved earlier in the evening that the Commissioners should be empowered to give grants to an owner of land the Solicitor-General said that was a proposal which could not be entertained. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the owner of land was working for 2330 profit. Then, when it was proposed that small owners should be able to get advances from the Development Fund, the Solicitor-General said it was contrary to the policy of the Government that money grants should be given to individuals, and so the small owners were put on one side. Now when we come to railway companies and harbour trusts it is proposed that they should be allowed to receive State money, although they are trading for profit. If anybody is to receive State money, it would be better to give it to a small owner than to a big railway company. Not only that, but the whole question of competing railway companies arises on this matter. One company may be making a harbour, not for the advantage of the country as a whole, but in order to cut out the route of another railway company. If companies are to have the power of going before the Commissioners and receiving grants for what are merely competing routes, it opens up all sorts of questions which the Commissioners are not fit to decide, and which ought not to be entrusted to them, and which, in fact, ought only to be entrusted to this House. It is putting a burden on the Commons which they ought not to be called upon to bear, which, by the magnitude of the interests involved, will distract them from other work that they can efficiently undertake, and it tends to break down this Bill which is already over-weighted with the enormous burden; of other matters.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman is singularly inconsistent with the decisions arrived at and the opinions expressed earlier in the evening. Personally, I do not care very much whether we have the proposal or not. This is an Amendment on the authority and responsibility of the Government. I suppose it is moved as a serious Amendment by the Government, and then, at least, we are entitled to know whether the Government attach importance to it or not. There was none of this happy-go-lucky treatment of the matter earlier in the evening when I moved an Amendment in the same direction.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The distinction was between persons trading for private profit and persons applying public moneys 2331 for public uses. I do not retract from anything I said then, but in the course of the discussion it was intimated that there were one or two cases so near the latter class that there was a question whether there should not be a power in the Commissioners or in the Treasury to grant money for these purposes. We have carefully considered this as a possible solution of difficulties that may arise. The difficulties are these: you may find a local authority entirely averse to embarking in any work. Advances under this Bill can only be made to or through a Government Department. Take the case of a light railway. The Government Department, I assume for the moment, is empowered by the Commissioners, with the sanction of the Treasury, to make arrangements with the railway company, who themselves may help to construct the railway by giving a good deal of money. Arrangements might be made to secure the public from any more profit going to that company than was reasonably represented by the expenditure of their own money. It would be a sort of conjoint undertaking, and it might very well be that only by some such machinery as that could the railway be constructed. The case of a harbour is entirely the same. But I intimated from the beginning that I would take the opinion of the House upon this proposal, as will be within the recollection of anyone who was in the House at the time, and I move it exactly in the same spirit. If the House really desires, as I think it does, to maintain the strict line that the Government adopted at first in the Bill as framed, then I have no difficulty in the circumstances in asking leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN moved, in Sub-Section (2), to leave out the words "be made to the Treasury," and to insert instead thereof the words "shall, if the applicant is a Government Department, be made to the Development Commissioners."
§ I move the Amendment solely for the purpose of saving time in connection with the machinery of this Bill. I ask the House, in order that I may explain the matter, to follow me in an examination of Clause 4 which divides the applicants for advances under two heads. When the applicant is a Government Department the application is to be referred by the Treasury to the Development Commissioners. Any other body is to be referred 2332 to the Department concerned, and by the Department to the Commissioners. The effect of my Amendment is that, instead of the Government Department being referred by the Treasury to the Commissioners, the application of the Government Department shall be made direct to the Commissioners in the first instance. I see no reason why all applications should not be made direct to the Commissioners. I see a certain difficulty in case they are not Government Departments, because Clause 4 says the application shall be sent by the Treasury to the Government Department concerned to be by them referred back with their report thereon to the Development Commissioners. There might possibly be some difficulty in the report which they will make to the Development Commissioners. I should think the more convenient way of transacting business would be to have the application sent in the first instance to the Commissioners, and it might be referred by them to the Department concerned and then sent to the Treasury.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think it is well to have uniformity, and that every application should go to the Treasury to be transmitted to the Commissioners. It is provided that although every application is sent to the Treasury it must come before the Commissioners. The object is to have the Treasury as a sort of clearing house, so that whoever the applicant is, or whatever body is making the application they must send it to the Treasury. The main reason for that is that particular applications may concern more than one Department, and the Treasury, as the Central body that distributes the work, are the people to decide first which is the proper department. I do not think there would be the least inconvenience even from the Government Department sending to the Treasury, and there would be a difficulty in breaking through the uniformity.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG (for Sir Henry Craik) moved at the end of the Sub-section to insert the words, "which regulations shall not have effect until they have lain for one month on the Table of both Houses of Parliament."
§ Although I move this Amendment, I do not desire to adhere rigidly to the terms of it. I only want to secure from the Solicitor-General an assurance in reference to the point I raised much earlier, namely, in regard to these regulations that there shall be some assurance that they 2333 shall be laid on the Table of the House. I am not much attracted by that proposal because the difficulties connected with it are obvious, and it is a cumbersome proceeding, but at the same time I think it is most important if the securities which the Solicitor-General referred to that we ought to have some assurance as to these regulations. It is quite obvious, if they were merely drawn up and circulated among the local authorities, no knowledge of them is obtained by Parliament, and we shall have no certainty that the securities will be given to us. I move the Amendment, pro forma, merely in the hope that the Solicitor-General may make some statement. If he is not prepared to say anything I do not desire to press it, knowing he is fully impressed with the desirability of dealing in a satisfactory manner with the question.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I agree that such regulations as those to which the right hon. Gentleman refers ought in some way to be communicated to Parliament; that is to say, regulations as to contributions from local authorities and matters of that kind. But the regulations here referred to are not of that sort at all; they are merely regulations with regard to applications for advances.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Where do we find in the Bill any provision that regulations made by the Treasury with regard to applications, the granting or withholding of consent, and so forth, shall be published in such a way that Parliament may have cognisance of them?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
There is no provision in the Bill. I assume that it would be done by Treasury Minute, in the ordinary course.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL moved to add, as a new Sub-section, the words:—
§ "(3) No advance shall be made for any purpose which might be carried out under the provisions of any other statute upon any terms or conditions different from those contained in such statute except for some special reason which shall be stated in the annual report of the Development Commissioners."
§ As far as I know there are only two cases where advances may be made under other statutes for any of the specific purposes of this Clause, namely, small holdings and light railways. I understand that the Government are prepared to 2334 accept the principle of my Amendment in respect of small holdings. If that is so, I think the House ought to extend it to light railways as well. There is really no distinction between the two cases, except that the Light Railways Act was passed in 1896, or 12 years before the Small Holdings Act. The Light Railways Act is not in any sense an obsolete statute. Advances have been made in a number of cases, and except for want of money, which will not necessarily be permanent, advances may be made under that Act still. So far as advances have been made under that Act, they have been subject to a variety of conditions, providing various safeguards and requiring a real local interest in the railway before a grant was made. It seems to me that it would be obviously unjust to existing companies working under that Act that you should make grants under this Bill without similar conditions to companies which may compete with them. Unless there are some special reasons, the existing statutory conditions ought to prevail with regard to all grants of the same character. Since there is no doubt that the grants are of the same character in this case they ought to be the same in other respects. Otherwise the effect of it will be—and this has been constantly pointed out—that you are really repealing the Light Railways Act by a casual section in this Development Bill. That is not sound administration, and it is not desirable in itself. If an Act is wrong it ought to be properly repealed. No good reasons have been or can be shown, or can be even alleged, why the Light Railways Act should be repealed so far as these conditions are concerned. Under these circumstances every principle that applies to the Small Holdings Act applies, it appears to me, to the Light Railways Act, and if the principle is accepted for the one it should be accepted for the other.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
The Amendment of the Noble Lord at first sight appears to have considerable reason, but I do not suppose that there will be any doubt but that the Commissioners will take into account existing legislation where advances can be made. There are other Acts of Parliament beyond those mentioned by the Noble Lord. The question to determine now is, whether we are to trammel, bind, and restrict the Commissioners by compelling them to have regard to any other previous Acts dealing with the same subject. Let me mention, very briefly, the conditions of the Light Railways Act. 2335 Under the Act the Treasury cannot make any special advance unless they are satisfied "that the land-owners, local authorities, and other persons interested.… A special advance shall be made not exceeding half the total amount as may be prescribed by the Treasury Rule under the Act." I think it is quite conceivable that there may be a locality that might be very well and very properly developed by a subsidy for a light railway under the Act, but the Commissioners might say, "Oh, no. We think that in this particular case the conditions should apply, and we will not give a subsidy at all," or they might make other conditions.
In these circumstances I find I cannot assist the Noble. Lord to the extent he could have wished. If we do accept the Amendment it will be in order to show that it is by no means the intention of the Government to supersede the provisions of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act passed as late as last year, and dealing with a particular matter which ought in the main, I think, to be dealt with by the local authorities. In order to show clearly that we do not intend to supersede the powers given to local authorities by the Act, I am willing to accept the Amendment of the Noble Lord in the very terms in which he moves it, but confined to the Small Holdings and Allotments Act of last year. If the Noble Lord will move the Amendment in that form I will accept it, otherwise I will move the Amendment myself.
§ 1.0. A.M.
§ Amendments made in proposed Amendment: To leave out the words "any other statute" ["carried out under the provisions of any other statute"], and to insert instead thereof the words "the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1908."
§ To leave out the word "such" ["contained in such statute"], and to insert instead thereof the word "that."—[Sir Samuel Evans.]
§ Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.
§ Resolved, That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned.—[Sir Samuel Evans.]
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered to-morrow (Friday).