§ Order for second reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd-George)
I have already in the Budget speech laid down the general principles on which this Bill has been drafted. I have also circulated a full explanation of the Bill. I do not propose at this stage to make any observations at the beginning of the Debate. Any observations which I may have to make I will 907 reserve to the end of the Debate, when I will at the same time reply to any observations that may be made upon the proposals of the Bill.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
moved, "That the Bill be read a second time upon this day three months."
I confess that the course which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought right to take in connection with this Bill has been one which, however characteristic of the present Government in its dealings with the House of Commons, will not, I think, conduce to the convenience of the House or the proper consideration of the proposals now submitted. Certainly the Budget statement of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to this Bill gave, as the House will see when they come to consider its provisions, a very inadequate account of what is contained in this remarkable measure. The House will perhaps pardon me if, in view of the course which the Minister in charge has taken, I am compelled to deal rather more particularly with the provisions of the Bill than otherwise would have been necessary. The Bill consists of two entirely distinct parts. The road part, which occupies by far the larger number of the Clauses, is, in my view, by far the least important part of the measure. With the general principle of the roads in this country no longer being regarded as a purely local interest I find myself in accord. The tendency of all road legislation has been gradually to extend the area over which the upkeep of those roads is spread, and I do not myself dispute that the time has now arrived when the Imperial Exchequer may fairly be asked to bear some portion of the upkeep of the main roads of the country; and if this Bill were consistent in any proposal to make grants in aid of road upkeep to the road authorities who have charge of the roads of this country on some fixed and definite principle which would preclude any possibility of local or political favouritism, I should not certainly be opposing that part of the Bill. But the Bill, in fact, embodies a very different scheme. In the first place, it proposes to constitute a new local authority, which is to interfere with, and in some respects to supersede, the existing local authority in the control of the roads. I think that this Bill involves such very important considerations that I do not wish to occupy time unduly in dealing with smaller criticisms, but certainly it 908 does appear to me that the chaos which is likely to be introduced into local administration by adding yet another local authority to deal with strictly local affairs is a matter which deserves in itself the very serious consideration of this House. But, in addition, this part of the Bill is designed exclusively for the benefit of one section of the community.
The group of clauses which deal with road improvements are all governed by the first words of Clause 5, "for the purpose of improved facilities for motor traffic." I do not want to say anything hostile to motors at all. I think that there is much in the motor traffic which is worthy of our administration, but I do not see that motorists as a body have done anything which entitles them to special consideration. But my real objection to this aspect of the scheme is that it appears to me to rest on a thoroughly unsound financial theory. The Government appear to have this conception, which runs right through the whole of the Finance Bill, that you can divide the taxpayers of the country into watertight compartments, and that you can impose a tax on this or the other class of the community without affecting every other class. To my mind, that is a profound mistake; indeed, I should have thought that it was elementary, if so many eminent authorities had not fallen into it, that there is only one tax fund, whether it is a Petrol Tax, Income Tax, or Motor Tax, or any other tax, it is an abstraction of so much money from the national resources of the country. Not only so, but the effect of every abstraction, though it may come immediately out of the pockets, as, of course, it does, of the taxpayers, ultimately falls on all classes of the community. A great deal of criticism in another connection has been passed upon those who have pointed out that the tax on land, for instance, must necessarily affect other interests besides the land itself. That is an absolute and obvious truth. No money is now hoarded in a stocking. It is all employed. Everybody employs all their money either badly or well, and if you take money out of the taxpayers' pockets you remove it from some employment. That seems to me to be a perfectly elementary truth; and, therefore, though the immediate taxpayer suffers, and may suffer tremendously by fie expenditure of money, yet that suffering is also the suffering of all classes of the community. This particular case affords an extremely admirable instance of the general truth of that observation. 909 The idea of this part of the Government's scheme is that you shall put a tax on motors. I do not know whether you call it an industry or a pleasure, but the tax is partly imposed on motors and partly on petrol, and you say that the money derived from that source will be applied to improving roads for the benefit of those who use motors. How does that work out in fact? A very large part of the tax will be paid by commercial users of motor vehicles—an immense proportion of them motor omnibus companies. What will be the result of that? We know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not imagine that the motor omnibus companies hoard money in some stocking on which they can draw in order to pay the tax. The money, every halfpenny of it, must come from somewhere else, and there are only two possible sources from which it can come—either the dividends payable to the shareholders, or it must come out of the increased prices charged to those who use the motor omnibuses. I do not pretend to be intimately acquainted with the financial affairs of motor omnibus companies, but if one can judge by what one casually reads in the papers I should say it is not possible to extract the money from the dividends payable to the shareholder without financial ruin. Therefore if you are not going to ruin these people the money must be taken from those who actually use the motors. In other words, you must take it out of the pockets of the working classes and the middle classes of this country who ride in motor omnibuses, and the tax which you are going to abstract from the pockets of the wealthy motor owners in fact comes straight from the pockets of the working classes and the middle classes of this country. That seems to me an admirable instance of the fundamental fallacy which underlies this aspect of the scheme. In other words, instead of taxing the rich for the benefit of the rich, you are going to tax the poor for the benefit of that small number of persons who desire improved roads so that they may drive, probably, 40 or 50 miles an hour.
I do not conceal from the House that, to my mind, those criticisms—and there are several others which might be made on this scheme—are comparatively of slight importance. To my mind, there are two main criticisms which may be passed not only on this part, but on the development part of the scheme. In the first place, both schemes show all the traces of megalomania. Take this part of the scheme. What is really proposed? 910 It is proposed, among other things, to drive through this country great strips of land a quarter of a mile broad for new motor roads on which no speed limit is to be imposed. For that purpose power is to be taken under the Bill to raise a loan, I understand, of no less than £4,000,000, besides the amount that is to be spent annually on the upkeep and improvement of roads for the purpose of motor traffic. And the land—it is important the House should understand this—is to be acquired by those bureaucratic methods which are so dear to the present Government. They have incorporated in the Schedule what are called small holding terms, which means that no inquiry is to be held as to the desirability of improvements to be carried out under the Bill unless the Treasury shall order it, and in any case the land is to be purchased on the greatly modified terms which attend compulsory purchase. I think that, to use a colloquial phrase, is a pretty tall order. But when you come to the development part of the scheme, all that is really most moderate and infinitesimal by comparison. I see in this week's "Spectator" a letter from the hon. Baronet who sits for one of the divisions of Northamptonshire (Sir Francis Channing), in which he takes a view of the development part of this Bill which seems to me to be absolutely unsubstantiated by the terms of the Bill itself. He regards this Bill, as I understand his letter, as merely providing for a slight increase in the grant for the purpose of scientific research and scientific instruction in agriculture. If that were the only purpose of this Bill none of us would care to oppose it. Let me point out to the hon. Baronet that all we would want then would be a slight increase of the grant already made for the purpose of technical instruction and other things. But that could be done without a Bill at all; certainly without a Bill of this complicated character. In point of fact, this Bill is of a wholly different description, and I think if the hon. Baronet will be so kind as to read carefully Clause 1 he will see that so far from this being for small instructional matters in agriculture and forestry, it really extends to the whole field of industrial and commercial activity.
The proposal is that the Treasury may grant either by way of free grant or by way of loan money not only for the purposes of forestry and developing agriculture—though even in that respect the words are extremely wide, because they include the extension of the principle of 911 the Small Holdings Act and the adoption of any other means which appear calculated to develop agriculture and rural industry—but it is clearly proposed by this Bill that this grant may be made for the reclamation and drainage of land, the general improvement of rural transport, including the making of light railways, the construction and improvement of harbours, the construction and improvement of canals, the developing and improvement of fisheries, and for "any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." It would really puzzle most hon. Members to find a single department of commercial or industrial activity which could not be described by the words "or any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." [Cheers.] I am not at all surprised that hon. Members below the Gangway cheer that statement, because it is part of the Socialist programme. I only stop for a moment at Clause 2 to note the words in paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) that one of the sources from which the Development Fund is to be replenished and derived is "any profits or proceeds derived from the expenditure of any advance which by the terms on which the advance was made are to be paid to the Treasury," making it abundantly clear under this Bill not merely unremunerative, unproductive, and unprofitable expenditure for agricultural instruction and the like is contemplated, but works of a profit-bearing nature, like any other works indulged in by a private individual.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Of course, it is State trading; clearly that is what it means. Clause 3 is almost common form in any Government Bill now, and merely provides that the Treasury shall be entitled to direct and draw up regulations to carry out anything they like. Then we come to the most remarkable clause of the whole Bill, and that is Clause 4, which provides that "the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries"—I thank the President of the Board of Trade for the phrase "Administrative Order," by which without any inquiry or any consideration at all, they may make compulsory acquisition of land throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. I really do not believe—in fact, I am quite sure—such a proposition has never been submitted to Parliament. I cannot believe the Government itself realises what 912 that proposition involves. I do not wish to linger over the terms on which the land is to be acquired. They do not seem to me specially unfair. I do not myself see why for such a purpose, the allowance for compulsory purchase should not be allowed, but I do not really care about that, and. the tribunal is fair enough as far as compensation is concerned. The acquisition of any land might mean that any railway might be acquired under the words of this Clause. There is nothing to prevent the complete nationalisation of all the railways and all the land of the country under Clauses 1, 2, and 4. I do not suppose for a moment, and I am not suggesting, that is what the Government intends—of course not—but that is the framework of their Bill. That is what the Bill gives them power to do under these provisions.
What are the safeguards that are suggested? As far as I can see the only two are these, it is suggested that only £500,000 per year for four years is to be allowed for these purposes. That is the suggested provision of Clause 2, but when you look at Clause 2 it does not contain any such limit at all. The words of the Clause are: "…the Development Fund into which shall be paid (a) such moneys as may from time to time be provided by Parliament for the purposes of this part of this Act." That is quite general. Then in Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 there is the provision: "There shall be charged on and issued out of the Consolidated Fund in the year ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and eleven, and in each of the next succeeding four years, the sum of five hundred thousand pounds." What it comes to is this, that there is an attempt to enact that at least £500,000 should be spent every year on these purposes, and there is no superior limit whatever. Any sum which could be obtained from a docile majority of the House of Commons might be allocated to these purposes, so that the suggested limit of £500,000 is absolutely non-existent. Then there is the provision of an Advisory Committee, and we are seriously asked to regard that as some safeguard. This Advisory Committee is to be appointed by the particular Government that brought in the Bill, but there is nothing to indicate who they are to be. They may be, as the hon. and learned Member for Louth suggests, Lumley. At any rate, we have very good ground for knowing that the Government are not at all moved by the fact that Advisory Committees, or per- 913 sons that they appoint to make inquiries and report, report in favour or against a particular thing. We all recollect the incident for sending a gentleman who is now one of the Judges of the High Court to report on a particular state of affairs in Wales, and we all remember that he reported in one way after very careful inquiry, and that the Government immediately decided in the other. I think I shall be able to show in a few minutes that there is no ground for thinking that the Advisory Committee will be, in fact, any more trustworthy safeguard, so far as I can see, than the other.
That is the scheme of the Bill, and it appears to me it lays itself open to two very serious objections. I think it is likely to produce a great waste of public money, and I think it is almost certain to produce a very grave danger of political corruption. We have not the experience they have in foreign countries of the working of such schemes as this. I believe that a scheme of this kind is in operation in some form or another in almost all our Colonies and in several foreign countries. I see, for instance, that a Mr. Wise has published a work on Australia recently, which was reviewed in the "Nation" of last week. I observe that the reviewer quotes Mr. Wise as saying that one of the most dangerous class of politicians in Australia are the "roads and bridges men," who are described in this way:—Their value to their constituents is apt to be expressed in terms of the public expenditure in their district.I do not want to go unnecessarily into that aspect of the question. Everyone who knows anything of political life in many of our Colonies knows that this power of executing public works in the various constituencies is one of the chief political instruments belonging to the Ministry of the day. I was told the other day, and it is common talk in Canada, that the wavering constituency always voted in the same way as the majority of the country appears to be likely to decide, so that they may obtain a share of the loaves and fishes when the Government comes into power. A friend of mine described to me how he saw a large army of workmen engaged in repairing a wall of a public building in one of our Colonies. He asked how it was so many men appeared to be engaged in so trivial a work. He was rebuked for his simplicity, and told that a General Election was immediately in prospect. It is not only so in our Colonies. I am sure, and I do not wish 914 to exaggerate, they have had a difficult problem to face in a new country, and no one wishes less than I do to exaggerate failings that may have occurred in connection with that very difficult problem. But in our case it would be quite gratuitous to run into these dangers. We have not only the example of our Colonies, but the example also of what has happened in foreign countries. I myself can bear witness to the scandalous waste of public money that takes place in one foreign country where I happened to reside for some months, many years ago now. I remember a harbour being constructed for which there was not the slightest justification, and as far as one could observe and as far as the common talk of the place went, for which there was no demand of a commercial character, but which was being constructed in most part for electoral reasons in order to secure the votes of that particular district. With all those examples before us, I do ask the House and hon. Members very seriously to consider how this would work in our own country. Have we any right to suppose that it would work materially better here than in other countries. Let me take it generally. Is it not almost certain that one of the duties of every Member of Parliament who sat at any rate for a country constituency would be to extort from the Government of the day as much as he could in order Ito develop the various districts which were represented In addition to the demand for the appointment of magistrates, would it not be one of the favourite employments not only Radical, but of Tory Members of Parliament, to try and secure for the locality the largest share or slice of the Development Fund? It is a very delicate matter to enlarge upon, but there are constituencies already in this country which benefit largely by expenditure from public sources and it would be mere affectation to conceal the fact that those who represent them have perpetually pressed upon the Government the expenditure of pub] money in their localities in order to please their constituents. One can see that that would be the ordinary course of business under which we should live. Just conceive what might happen at a critical bye-election, when, perhaps, a Member of the Government was seeking re-election on promotion. I can well conceive the telegram that would come from the party managers demanding some great expenditure on a harbour in, say, a division of Yorkshire, in order to secure the return of 915 the newly appointed Chancellor of the Duchy. It is quite true that now somewhat similar demands take place, but they generally seem to result in abortive projects of legislation. But seriously, does anybody doubt that at a bye-election a great deal of political pressure would be brought to bear upon the Government of the day to spend money out of this Vote?
That is not the only thing. I have no doubt myself that when a controversial measure was before the Parliament, and it was important to secure in its support the votes of a particular section of this House, the chiefs of that section would demand from the Government of the day some promise of the expenditure of public money out of the Development Fund to benefit the part of the Kingdom from which they came. I have not the slightest doubt of that, because it has already occurred. Everybody knows that considerable negotiations have been going on between the Government and the Irish party in order to obtain from that party support for certain portions of the Finance Bill. The leader of that party, on July 4th last, made a speech at Arklow, reported in "The Times "of 5th July, in which, judging from the tone of the speech, he was defending himself against certain critics in Ireland who thought he had been too complacent with the Government in reference to the Finance Bill; and he set out in considerable detail the terms of the changes which the Government had agreed upon in the Finance Bill, and which about two months later they communicated to the House of Commons. In addition to that, this very striking paragraph occurs in the speech:—Out of the Development Fund it was proposed to create he had reason to know that within the next twelve months money would assuredly be provided for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann and other rivers which were spreading desolation and ruin by their flooding. Money would also be available which could be used to facilitate the purchase and amalgamation of Irish railways under an Irish local authority.That has actually been done before the Bill has even been read a second time in the House of Commons. Let me ask the attention of the House to that statement. It involves two things quite clearly. First, it shows that all this talk about the Advisory Committees is the merest moonshine. Here is a pledge apparently by the Government that money is to be spent out of the Development Fund, whatever the Advisory Committees may say. It disposes altogether of the idea which seems to comfort the mind of the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir F. 916 Channing), because this is no question of agricultural instruction or training. These are great public works, including apparently some form of nationalisation of Irish railways. I say that that is a conclusive example of the way in which this Development Fund may be—and, if the present Chancellor of the Exchequer remains in office—will be used, in order to secure political support. We have only to turn to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade on Saturday last to see that this is all part of a gigantic scheme to bribe the electorate.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Do I understand the Noble Lord really to suggest that there is any pledge by the Government to give money out of this Development Fund for the draining of the Barrow and the Bann, and the nationalisation of Irish railways? If he or anybody else says so, it is not an accurate statement. Nothing of the kind has been done.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
Is the Noble Lord aware that the Leader of the Opposition in the year 1888 promised £10,000 for these drainage works?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I certainly suggest that these words occur in the report in "The Times" of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford on 4th July at Arklow:—Out of the Development Fund it was proposed to create he had reason to know that within the next mouths money would assuredly be provided for the draining of the Barrow and the Bann.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I know nothing whatever about the statement. It may, or may not, be an accurate report. All I can say, as Minister in charge of the Bill, is that so such promise has been made to anybody.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Of course, I fully accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that, as far as he is concerned, no such statement has been made; but I do not think he can be quite sure that no such statement has been made on behalf of the Government. There are other Members of the Government besides the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Really I think the Noble Lord is a little unfair. Does he really suggest that any Member of the Government has given a pledge affecting the Treasury to the extent of—I do not know what it would be; I should say it 917 would be an enormous sum—[An HON. MEMBER: "Millions"]—without even intimating it to anybody representing the Treasury?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I really have not the slightest idea how this Government does its work. All I can say is that this statement was made publicly more than two months ago; it was reported in "The Times," and no contradiction whatever has been given.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
At the first moment it is brought to my notice, which is this moment, I give it an emphatic contradiction.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Lord R. CECIL
It only shows how very unfortunate this legislation is, because apparently the hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Irish party, who is a most accurate man, as I am sure every Member of this House knows, has apparently made that statement in the course of his speech. It set out with great accuracy this offer, which, he says, the Government have made. However, if the right hon. Gentleman says if is inaccurate, it really makes very little difference to the strength of my argument, because it shows the kind of thing which is expected by this Bill, and the kind of pressure that will be put upon Finance Ministers in the future, whether this particular Finance Minister or not. A Bill of this kind, constructed in this way, is the greatest engine of political corruption which has been attempted to be carried in this House since the days of Fox's India Bill. Hon. Gentlemen opposite make a great accusation against a policy which is favoured by several of my hon. and right hon. Friends that it will lead to great corruption of public life. [An HON. MEMBER: "So it will."] Yes, but I say deliberately that the power of corruption under any scheme of Tariff Reform that has ever been suggested by a responsible statesman is as nothing to the power for corruption in this! This is not confined to municipalities or public authorities. Anybody in the world may receive a grant of public money out of this Development Fund in order to press forward some local industry. In what possible respect does this differ, except in the wording, from the ordinary system of bounties which prevails in protected countries? The thing is absolutely on "all fours." There is no distinction whatever. To my mind this Bill is thoroughly unsound finance. I believe, 918 however carried out, it will result in a colossal waste of public money. I believe myself—and this is the worst part of it—that it will constitute a very serious danger to national political purity. It is advocated upon the ground of developing national prosperity. I believe that to be a complete misapprehension of the foundation upon which national prosperity rests. I do not believe for a moment you can secure national prosperity in an old country like this by distributing public money in doles to this or that commercial interest. That is not what the prosperity of the country depends upon. The prosperity of the country depends upon national character. I can conceive no greater and more dangerous attack upon national character than holding out this bait of gigantic sums of money which may be granted to this or that industry in different parts of the country. A clause of this Bill provides that in considering how the money is to be distributed regard is to be had to the state of employment in the various districts. What does that amount to? An hon. Member comes and demands from the Finance Minister a grant of public money. The reply is, "You ask for this money, but your scheme is really not worth the assistance of the State." "Oh, but," says the hon. Member, "there is a great deal of unemployment in my district, and you are bound to consider that in making this grant." [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Does anyone doubt how that will end? It means a grant of public money purely directed to the relief of individuals. It will destroy or seriously injure the character of the inhabitants of this country. Apart from its grotesque finance of taking out of one pocket by taxing what you are going to put into the other pocket by doles, it will destroy the very foundation upon which the prosperity of the country rests and its pride of place—at any rate, of its place of predominance—amongst the civilised Powers of the world.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I rise to second my Noble Friend's Motion for the rejection of this Bill. The Bill is certainly novel in its provisions. That, of course, would not necessarily condemn it. It proposes, moreover, fundamentally to alter the entire scope of the local government of this country. That, again, might be a proper thing to do after due consideration. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already given an indication of how these momentous matters are to be 919 managed by not taking the trouble to make a speech in defence of his own Bill, and by leaving us to rely upon the somewhat scattered remarks in his Budget speech, and somewhat jejune statement made in the Memorandum issued to the Members of this House. In addition to that, he throws this far-reaching change in the whole system of local government at the head of the House of Commons about the middle of September, in addition to the overwhelming mass of other legislation, which surely is sufficient of itself for the most voracious appetite! The details of this Bill, I contend, are bad. But the principle is even worse. My Noble Friend who spoke just now pointed out—with added force, because he himself is not a supporter of the policy of Tariff Reform—that that policy has always been criticised because, it has been alleged, there would be a danger of corruption in that system. Under this system the danger would be tenfold, because the money passes directly from the hands of the Government in hard cash to that of the recipient. I think that in this country in the past we have been very jealous about the political purity which we hold exists here. That this country has exhibited a purer Parliamentary system than any other nation of the world is partly owing to our good fortune and partly to the wisdom of our ancestors. This system which the Government proposes to introduce is bound inevitably to undermine the purity that has existed up to the present time. No nation, however scrupulous, would be able to resist the insidious assaults which would be made upon its political purity by the system. If we look round we see that it is the experience in every other country in the world that they have not succeeded in resisting it. My Noble Friend quoted from a work published by Mr. Wise on "Australian Government." There have been many critics of Australian government. Mr. Wise writes, not as a critic, but as a panegyrist. What he says, therefore, is doubly important. Let me quote from his book. He points out that there is not much corruption in Australian politics, but what corruption there is comes from this:—Such improper influencing of votes as does occur takes a form (not altogether unknown in England) of spending money in a Member's constituency.Mr. Wise, when he put in parentheses, "not altogether unknown in England," must have, had some foreknowledge of the scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I fully admit that in a new 920 country such as Australia or Canada it is reasonable that Governments should concern themselves more with material development than this country, and that, in fact, Canadian politics are largely a struggle between different railway interests. That, no doubt, is inevitable. If we look round at older countries we see that there also their political honour and purity are undermined by the system. No one would deny that the French people are a nation remarkable for thrift, good sense, probity and honour in the private affairs of life; yet in their Government they have a system under which it is notorious that electoral corruption takes place. Again, in the days of the Second Empire, it was openly said that the Imperial Government "made elections," as the phrase went. One of the chief opponents of the Imperial system wrote in 1863:—That the rural communes subsist on the grants from the Department of the Treasury, as is too manifest at election times. To assist making a road or a footbridge is to satisfy the dreams of these poor people.I remember an eloquent speech—I heard it quoted in this House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—with regard to the "Dreams of young Radicals on the mountain tops of Wales." In future these dreams will be replaced by the more sordid consideration as to whether there is to be a harbour for Pwllheli. I apologise for the pronunciation if it is not correct, but I believe the place is somewhere near the right hon. Gentleman's own constituency. It may be said that it was only under the Imperial Government that resort was had to these methods of corruption. But the Republican Government has carried forward the system to greater extremes than in the time of Napoleon III. Some signal benefit is conferred upon a locality where an election is taking place, and, "by a happy coincidence, the benefit happens to be made on the eve of the poll." In France local government is managed by a system of Imperial officers, called préfets, having control over the local authorities, and it is notorious that it is to the interest of the local municipality to stand well with, or, in vulgar language, "to make up to" the préfet, because by that means it has been found that the roads and other benefits to the localities are accelerated. In this country we have not a system of préfets, but if this Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is passed we shall, to all intents and purposes have a permanent préfet here at Whitehall under the thumb of the right hon. Gentleman, and there will be a préfet going about on assize, 921 and an army of commissioners, Advisory Committees, and officials who will visit every part of the country. Under this proposal politics will degenerate into a mere scramble for money. I have said that I cannot believe that this people who have the purest politics on the whole that have been in the past will be able to withstand a principle so insidious or dangerous. There is this difference to observe—that even the most respectable persons are not so careful about public money as they would be in their private affairs. Again and again it is seen in local authorities that where they will consider once, twice, and even half a dozen times before they incur expenditure that is to be paid out of the rates, they will recklessly and prodigally scatter that money which conies to them from grants from the Treasury. In the parlance of local politics, money from the Treasury is hardly regarded as money at all. Economy in local affairs means economy of the money from the rates, not of national money. I admit that this feeling exists at the present time. It will be exaggerated and intensified ten-fold by the measure which the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires to pass through this House. There will be a colossal waste, and, in addition, I am afraid, gross corruption. The corruption is no doubt the worse of the two, but the expenditure is serious enough. At this time, when we are asked to find £16,000,000 extra money for the financial needs of the Government, we are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we must pay £500,000 a year for the next five years for the purposes of this Bill. I would rather pay off £2,500,000 of debt, or leave that sum in the pockets of the taxpayer. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer this question: Does he think it is possible that in the year 1915 this House will be able to refuse to continue the grant of this half million of money? At that time all these experiments will be in full swing, staffed by an army of officials who have acquired vested interests. We shall be told then, even if the matter has not been very successful in the past, that it is just beginning to show signs of life.
I cannot but suspect from the wording of the Clause that the Government are under the illusion that in 1915 money will be coming in, because there is an allusion to receipts. If that is the case I am afraid they are doomed to disappointment. I now turn to the actual provisions and details of the Bill as distinct from the gene- 922 ral principle, and I would like to point out, first, the vagueness of the proposals of the Government, Absolutely anything can be done under this Bill. We sometimes talk of omnibus Bills, but this is so capacious an omnibus that it seems to me hardly any other legislation will be necessary at all, and that after having passed this Bill the House of Commons may scatter to the four winds of heaven and leave the Government to do everything else—in fact, it establishes an autocracy.
With regard to the first item—Forestry—I do not find much to criticise, although I cannot understand why experiments which are to be made in forestry, which I think very desirable, should not be carried out by the Board of Agriculture or by the Department of Woods and Forests, that already deal to a certain extent with this matter. Then we come to the extraordinary phrase, "to aid agriculture." I confess I fail to understand what that means. After that we are told money is to be spent upon economic inquiries. I am equally at a loss to find out what "economic inquiries" mean unless Professor Pigou is to be subsidised to inquire into windfalls or unless the hon. Member for Preston is to be subsidised to write a report upon the effect of the Land Taxes. "Other means to help agriculture." Does that mean a system of bounties? Are the Treasury to be entitled to give bounties to agriculture? Supposing by some misfortune there was to be a change in the Government and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcester (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) was at the Treasury, would he himself be entitled to vote money in bounties to agriculture? Although I do not believe in the present fiscal system and strongly would seek to change it, I by no means think that bounties are the best form of expedients. Then we come to the provision about small holdings. Why small holdings? I thought the Government spent a large part of one Session passing a measure which they told us was going to revolutionise England, and that everywhere small holdings would be seen. Surely that means that the Small Holdings Act must have failed if so soon after the carrying of it you get another Government Department to deal with the question. That certainly throws rather a lurid light on the matter. Then we come to what hon. Members opposite describe as agricultural instruction, and here again we are to have a crash between different Government 923 Departments. Whereas in the last few years we have been doing our best to unravel local government, the present Government now come along and mix it all up again. If the county council under the Board of Agriculture are already doing the work to a certain extent, not to an adequate extent I admit, but doing the work of agricultural education to a certain extent, why is the whole thing to be upset, and a brand new Advisory Committee put in charge by the right hon. Gentleman, and why is another Government Department to be mixed up in the work?
Canals are not paying at the present time, and I have no doubt every canal company in the country will wisely sell its canal to the right hon. Gentleman. Then we come to the most vague and extravagant of all the proposals in the Bill, to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to foster manufacture? He is already suspect among the more straight-laced of the Free Traders for legislation which he has already passed, and surely it is rather foolish of him to provide this weapon ready to hand for those who doubt his orthodoxy. For my part I would rather forward the interests of the manufacturers of the country by means of customs duty than by this indirect and much more wasteful and dangerous method.
If we turn to the machinery that is even worse. The Treasury is to be absolute master. I think the Local Government Board will be hard to beat in this matter, but the Treasury has even surpassed it. They may appoint the Advisory Committee, and that Advisory Committee will be their servants and creatures, and will have no real existence at all, and this Advisory Committee, which they will appoint will have no distinct position with regard to the rest of the Local Government Board of the country. As I have already pointed out, there will be very considerable overlapping. A Government which professes to be in favour of the system of election are appointing an absolutely irresponsible committee of the country to do this work for which they are only to be responsible to the Treasury. There is already, I am aware, a Consultation Committee that advise the Board of Education, but it is not frequently consulted, and I believe that when it is consulted its opinion is never taken. In the days of the Government of 924 the Leader of the Opposition certain principles which were denounced by hon. Members opposite were laid down to co-opt members to the Education Committee. That, we were told, was contrary to Radical doctrine, but here is a Committee which is to spend money which is to be altogether co-opted by the right hon. Gentleman. The longer this Government remains in power the more it falls under the sway of the more Radical section, and the more anti-democratic it becomes; the more and more we see power thrown into the hands of the officials, the more and more do we see the Government value the advice and opinion of Mr. Sydney Webb, who despises the electorate, and who thinks that only trained Government officials are fit to carry on the affairs of the country.
For my part, although I belong to a party which is thought retrograde and reactionary, I believe that the local government should be elected, and that the people concerned should take some share in seeing how they are to be governed, instead of being ruled by emissaries sent down from Whitehall. With regard to the motor roads, it is not my business to say whether the motorists ought to desire these roads or not. It is for them to say. I speak merely as a member of the public and as a member of the public I am strongly opposed to the system which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to introduce. The new roads, if ever they are to be made, are to be made upon the ipsi dixit of another irresponsible board. The people of the districts through which these roads run will have nothing to say to them. It is provided that the Treasury must con-suit the Local Government Board and the county council; but there is no provision that the opinion of the local authorities, should have any respect or any attention given to it. The expenses will be enormous. I do not think anybody in this House can have formed any idea of the cost of making a road of this kind, bridging over the highways and other roads of the United Kingdom. No one travelling upon an ordinary road would consent to cross these motor roads with motorists going at 70 or 80 miles an hour at level crossings.
The most extraordinary feature of this Bill is that in reference to the strip of land. The right hon. Gentleman is going to drive through England in every direction. I think he must have taken this idea from the numerous speeches of Lord Carrington, when he described the small 925 holdings forming a rich strip of land from Dover to Berwick. That struck him, and he desired to give some reality to the idea of his colleague in the Cabinet. The strip of land is contrary to the new tactics of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I thought it was a crime to hold up land, but here we find it going to these bodies, with the intention of holding it up for a higher price. It is blackmail, in fact. I do not understand whether the new authority is to be immune from taxation altogether. Under the Budget the rating authorities are exempt from the Land Taxes, but then this Road Board is not a rating authority. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman thinks he will be able to levy any amount of taxation upon this strip of land. I cannot believe that any sane citizen is going to build a house upon it, and I am quite certain it would be the last situation the small holder would choose for his holding. He would be smothered with dust, and it is ineligible in many other particulars. I should have thought the cost of fencing, too, would be almost prohibitive.
The right hon. Gentleman very handsomely offers the county councils the opportunity of doing this work themselves. I cannot understand why the county councils should desire to do this work. It has nothing to do with them; it is in no sense a local matter. In his Budget speech the right hon. Gentleman told us that those who represented what is called the "landed interests" were very stupid people, and could not understand what advantage he was giving them. He said:—I am not taxing yon, I am going to give you a positive benefit. Look at the advantage I am going to give the local authorities. Look at the way the cost of their roads will be reduced by the benefit I am giving yon under the Development Grant.These are rather weak arguments. They are like the arguments with regard to the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. The advocates of that measure say, "We are going to disestablish the Church in Wales, and it will be much better after it is disestablished." The landed interests are not so foolish as not to understand what is to their benefit. I have looked through this Bill, and nowhere can I find the benefit given to the local authorities. They get nothing in the way of benefits in the making of the new roads. The money raised is for the finances of motor roads in which they have no interests. In nine cases out of ten, indeed in 99 out of 100, the motorist will not be using the motor roads, but will be using the ordinary roads of the country. They want to drive round to see their friends or go from town 926 to town to do business, or to go to the cricket match, or to go about their business. Those who want to drive 30 or 40 miles at a high speed are confined to an infinitesimal fraction. However that may be, it is not the affair of the local authorities, and they should not be compelled to find he finances to finance these roads at a time when they have to meet very large expenditure. The Government have made a most extraordinary departure from the financial purity upon which they pride themselves. They tell us that naval and military loan systems had to be abolished because it led to extravagance. They told us if you build out of loan, the inevitable result was that the work was undertaken without due consideration. If that be true of military and naval matters in connection with the safety and the well-being of the country, why is it not true also in civilian matters? It is because the Bill is fundamentally unsound in detail and grossly extravagant, and because it upsets the whole system of local government as heretofore understood and throws it bound hand and foot to the Treasury, and that it opens out opportunities for corruption on an enormous scale, and all the more dangerous because not direct but masquerading under the guise of public benefit. For all these reasons I am strongly opposed to this Bill. We have been told in some of the newspapers that this measure is popular. If so, then it deserves the greatest condemnation of all those who value the purity of our Parliamentary system, and of our local government, and the comparative freedom of this country from political corruption. I think all who believe in those principles ought to give this Bill their most strenuous opposition.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I do not know whether we are to assume that the speeches of the two Noble Lords who preceded me are meant as serious contributions to a serious debate. [Cries of "Yes."] It seems to me rather astounding to hear from them comments on a policy which seems to me to be the apotheosis and final realisation of what the Unionist party and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been demanding for two generations. What has been the demand made in recent years by every chamber of agriculture and county council? It is that Imperial money should go in aid of the rates. This Bill seems to me to be the best and wisest attempt which 927 and Ministry has yet made to meet that demand on rational lines. I am astonished that the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord R. Cecil) and the Noble Lord the Member for South Birmingham (Viscount Morpeth) have entirely ignored that this Bill is really the realisation for England of the ideals and the policy put forward and carried out for Ireland by that distinguished Unionist, Sir Horace Plunkett. This Bill is introducing Sir Horace Plunkett's policy for the rural life of England, and I thank the Government for having determined, and for being courageous enough to propose that policy. I am still more astonished that the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, by the action he has taken, has totally forgotten that perhaps the greatest achievement of Mr. Gerald Balfour was the carrying through of the great Bill which created a Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland. This is a Bill constructed on similar lines for similar purposes, and I think it will carry out those objects in some respects in a wiser way. I do not deny that one or two practical suggestions have been made by the two Noble Lords who have spoken which will be of value in regard to the future carrying through of this Bill. I agree that this Bill may need practical suggestions of that kind, and may require Amendments in Committee. The points which have been fastened upon are obviously those which anyone might have taken up, but they are in any case Committee points. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has met in a proper spirit the extravagant charge that the Government have already anticipated the use of this Bill for the purposes of political corruption. I am as strong an opponent of political corruption as the Noble Lord opposite, or any-one in this House, and I have denounced it again and again. My chief ground for denouncing Tariff Reform is that I have seen in America and in Canada the detestable political corruption which has resulted under a Protectionist system. The Noble Lord, who moved the rejection of the Bill has apparently a new philosophy of taxation, because, as far as I understood his opening argument, it was that you ought not to employ any tax for any reproductive or useful purpose. I may have misinterpreted the Noble Lord, but that was the effect of his speech on my mind. As I have already said, this scheme is simply the reproduction for England, in a somewhat 928 modified form, of Sir Horace Plunkett's policy in Ireland. The Noble Lords opposite have denounced this as a Socialistic programme. At the same time they admit that this is a policy which is carried out in many foreign countries and in some of our British Colonies. I would like to know if the Noble Lord could name one country which has adopted the policy put forward in this Bill which is a State conducted on Socialist lines? I agree that there may be dangers in the working of the machinery of this Bill, and I intend myself making one or two suggestions of a practical kind, to which I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give consideration. I do, however, welcome this Bill with all my heart as a splendid attempt to realise the noble dream of rural regeneration held out by our late Leader, Sir Henry Camp-bell-Bannerman, in his celebrated speech in the Albert Hall, and also in several suggestive passages in the Budget speech of my right hon. Friend delivered some months ago.
The Mover and Seconder of the rejection of this Bill have alluded to the difficulties connected with the Road Section. I wish to say at once that although I regard the main principles of these proposals as essentially sound, I want to have the roads made more perfect for all kinds of traffic as well as motor traffic. We want to have the dangers of motor traffic removed by the alteration of sharp corners and the widening of the roads, the lowering of hedges, and other improvements of that kind. All those are good and wise things, and they are provided for in this Bill. Road authorities have demanded from time to time, and many experts on this question have again and again asked for the setting up of a strong central authority to carry out a consistent road policy all over the country. In this Bill we have that principle established. I do not say that some alteration ought not to be made in the composition of the road authorities, or that some alteration is not necessary in regard to the constitution of the advisory committees. I do say, however, that those two principles are sound. We want our roads improved for all kinds of traffic, and we want them conducted by a central authority. I wish to deal with two objections to the Road Section as it stands at present. I do not think we want these enormously costly separate roads for motors without connection with the other roads, and without direct and reasonable access to the traffic from other roads. I do not think such roads are wanted, and 929 I am heartily glad to see resolutions have been passed by the principal representatives of the motor interests to the effect that this idea of separate roads is not necessary. I hope my right hon. Friend will at once, in the course of this Debate, consent to the withdrawal of that part of these proposals. I notice that the limitation imposed upon the Treasury in regard to advances to road authorities for constructing new roads, or improving existing roads, is that those advances are expressly limited to providing facilities for motor traffic only. It seems to me that we are imposing these taxes upon motor-cars and petrol to make good the great injury done to the roads, and the money ought to be spent, not only in the interests of the comfort and convenience of motorists, tout for the benefit of the whole community who use the roads. I think advances made to local authorities ought not to be limited to motor purposes, but it should be used for the purposes of all traffic on the roads. The Noble Lord has dwelt very eloquently and no doubt with great sincerity upon what he conceives to be the Socialistic and dangerous character of these proposals. I wish he would talk over the proposals of this Bill with Sir Horace Plunkett, because I feel sure he would not agree with the contention put forward by the Noble Lord.
It is absurd to denounce national equipment, facilities for research and instruction for the improvement of stock, and of methods of farming, for the better production and more profitable marketing of crops, and all these things as being in any way part of a Socialist scheme. What has been done in this respect in Denmark? Denmark has become by these measures in a very few years the richest agricultural community in the world, and I do not think the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone ought to grudge the British small farmer and agriculturist the chance of getting State aid in order to introduce into this country a similar system to that which has done so much for Denmark. You might as well say as regards the scheme of national service that giving a knowledge of national defence to the young people of this country is socialigous. Does the Noble Lord argue for a moment that the drilling of young men and teaching them how to handle a rifle is taking away their individuality and liberty and turning them into automatic Socialistic machines? The whole argument is ridiculous. It is of overwhelming importance to the nation that we should all endeavour to 930 make a complete success of such a scheme as is now proposed. I do not know what is to be done with this Bill after it has received a second reading.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
This measure should have the closest examination from all those who have made a long study of our social and rural conditions, and no doubt many practical suggestions will be made for turning this vast engine of social amelioration and national development into a right, a practical, and a useful channel. This is no business for amateurs, and we must concentrate the best practical minds upon a matter which is of such vital interest to the nation. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) and other Irish Members will remember how useful the Recess Committee was which was appointed prior to the passing of Mr. Gerald Balfour's measure for Ireland, and how much it contributed to the practical success and working out of the details of that great scheme, which has benefited Ireland so much, and will continue to benefit that country to the end of the chapter. But we in England have had no Recess Committee. I do not remember that any advice has been offered to Ministers except that coming from an informal meeting convened by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. F. W. Verney), where we had the advantage of the presence of the President of the Board of Agriculture, who heard what we had to say. This thing has not been thrashed out in all its aspects in the same way as it was in the case of Ireland. The very character of the Bill seems to me, perhaps, one of its chief merits. It has a great breadth and generosity of spirit. I can congratulate my right hon. Friend that he has not presented to the House a worked-out set of cut-and-dried proposals, devised among Treasury officials, but is rather presenting to us a skeleton on which flesh and blood may be put by practical men, a schedule of the things on which those of us who try and make a practical study of these things can exercise our ingenuity rather than a ukase of bureaucratic devices for making men prosper as the bureaucratic mind thinks fit. I distrust the bureaucratic way of dealing with this great problem of national development. You do not want a one-man Government. You have in this Bill a conception true to the ideals and the impulses of a self-developing, 931 originating, determining community. It stimulates rather than cramps national life and national evolution. It gives freedom and elasticity and attains ideals by a process which will be fruitful because it will be lasting.
I consider the central problem of the Bill to be the Advisory Committee, and I should advise my right hon. Friend to look carefully into that matter. The principle of an Advisory Committee appointed by the Treasury does not seem to me a wise principle. I distrust it, and I think my right hon. Friend would be better advised if he looked across the St. George's Channel and frankly adopted the scheme carried out there by Sir Horace Plunkett and Mr. Gerald Balfour. If you want to have your energies and resources put in fruitful, because sane and practical, operations, then you must enlist the personal devotion, the living interest, and the active ingenuity of the largest number of men who really understand these problems and will work them out in practical ways. That is pretty much what was done in Ireland. You have there an Agricultural Council, composed of persons from every part of the country and representing every interest in the country, all of them, more or less, presumably, practical men whose minds have been concentrated on these issues for years past. That body chooses two-thirds of the Agricultural Board, which really has almost an autocratic power of directing the application of the grants. I do not suggest the adoption of exactly the machinery they have in Ireland, but I do suggest we should have a board, representing the county councils, the County Councils' Association, the great agricultural bodies, perhaps the railways and canals, and other interests in this country. All these bodies should be allowed to send delegates to a really consultative body which should have operative powers of helping in these things.
I would like to turn for a moment to the actual suggestions of activities to which this Development Fund should be directed. These questions are not, perhaps, grouped or placed in their directly and relatively most important order. The question of afforestation has attracted great attention, and perhaps stands naturally first, but I would ask my right hon. Friend and the Government to consider whether afforestation is of such urgent importance as the immediate development on practical and adequate lines of agricultural education and research, and of the turning of 932 our tentative and experimental small holdings into something really practical, profitable, and useful, as in Denmark. Is not the whole of that chapter, the second part of the Bill, relatively of greater and more-urgent importance than the question of afforestation? I attach the greatest possible importance to the policy of afforestation. Those who have considered the results obtained in Germany know perfectly well that it is only a question of the right method, the proper judgment in applying it, and the right precautions in working it, and it will result in great economic advantage to this country. It would, undoubtedly, to a certain extent, though not, I believe, to so great an extent as hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite expect, contribute to the solution of the problem of unemployment. I would, however, ask them and the Government to look rather to this other side of the Bill, and to make the organisation of agriculture, the making of small holdings profitable, and the whole policy of agricultural development the central object of its funds. Everyone who has studied the question of agricultural research knows what has been its practical outcome in actually increasing the produce of the soil and in improving the position of agriculturists. Some very wise suggestions were made in the recent report of Lord Reay's Committee with regard to practical farm institutes and winter schools, but that Committee was precluded by its reference from discussing the adequate provision of rural secondary schools to give proper training to the children of the country side in all the scientific foundations of successful agriculture. Those seem to me objects of enormous and urgent importance, and I do hope that if, as I hope this Bill will be amended now, we are to have a real consultative Board associated with whatever may be the Department to which these objects are entrusted, we shall have these funds directed to practical objects, I hope that those will be the first and greatest objects which will be carried out.
I would turn to one more issue with regard to the development of small holdings. I have repeatedly brought before the attention of the Board of Agriculture—I am afraid, perhaps owing to the harsh treatment of the Board by the Treasury, without any success—the idea of working out the powers they possess under the Small Holdings Act of developing model colonies of small holdings illustrating all the very best and most efficient methods of working small holdings to a 933 profit, and all the different branches of small cultivation. They have, doubtless from Treasury reasons, persistently refused to take that step. Here we have the grandest opportunity, not for the absurd schemes of political corruption which seem to dwell like cobwebs in the imagination of the Noble Lord, but for really useful and practical work. I am familiar with some of the educational and experimental institutions for these objects. They ought to be multiplied all over the country. I happen to be a member of the committee of the National Poultry Organisation Society. There is among people all over the country and in industrial towns the greatest desire to get a small piece of land, and it seems to me no more useful work could be done than to plant one of these poultry and egg collecting depots, or one of the bacon-curing factories, or other institutes of that kind in a district and near industrial towns such as I represent. That seems to me a very wise and essential object. There is another question to which I attach great importance, and that is the better health of the stock of this country and its relation to the health of the people of this country, and especially to the health of the children of our great towns. Nothing has disgusted me so much as the withdrawal of the Milk Bill of the Local Government Board this Session. Hon. Members will bear me out when I say it was almost a solemn pledge that we should have this legislation carried in order to deal with the question of tuberculosis. I do hope that whatever is done with the question will be seriously, vigorously, and scientifically carried out by whatever body is introduced. It means a matter of millions to agriculturists, and it also means life and death to the children in our great towns. I hope that these practical urgent questions which, I venture to impress upon the House and the Government, will receive full consideration, and be placed in their proper order in the disposition of these funds for the promotion of the general interest.
§ Mr. HENRY CHAPLIN
I share in the regret of the hon. Member who last spoke in regard to the unfortunate fate which has attended the Milk Bill. It is not an unusual thing with regard to good, useful, and practical Bills affecting agriculture for them either to be dropped, as the Hops Bill was, or postponed to a period of the Session at which it is impossible to proceed with them. That has unfortunately 934 happened a great deal too often. But I by no means share the estimate of the hon. Member of the speech delivered by my Noble Friend the Member for Marylebone (Lord Robert Cecil) this afternoon, nor do I think it is any answer to that speech to say that all we want is Imperial money to come to the help of the rates, or that this Bill simply carries out for England what Sir Horace Plunkett has so admirably done in Ireland. On both of these points I may have a word to say later on. But with much of the speech which fell from my noble Friend I have very considerable sympathy, and certainly in one respect the impression that the Bill seems to have made upon his mind is precisely the same as the impression made on my mind when I read it as I did with great care as I came up by train to London yesterday afternoon. The impression I formed from that, like other Bills introduced by this Government, which is rather a novelty in our proceedings, is that it embraces measures which not only have no direct or necessary connection with each other, but which are as distinct as is possible for the subjects to be. For instance, Part II. of this Bill establishes what is called a New Road Board for the purpose of making new roads for motors. Part I. creates Advisory Committees for a number of different purposes, among which is first mentioned experiments in forestry. I am bound to say, in my opinion, it would puzzle the greatest expert in the world to discover the connection between these different subjects. However, that is the fashion adopted by the present Government, and persisted in; it appears, although one would have thought they would have learnt some wisdom by their own experience, and especially when they contemplate the hopeless confusion of their own Finance Bill at the present moment, and the trouble into which they have got by adopting a precisely similar course. Of one thing I am perfectly certain with regard to this Bill before us, and I will say at the outset it is if this scheme is ever to be made a practical and workable scheme, if there is to be any attempt to make it so—at all events, within this Session of Parliament, which I believe to be perfectly hopeless and impossible—one thing is absolutely essential. The Bill should be divided into two pants. It should be made two separate measures, and with that I think the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing) will 935 be in agreement with me. I am in agreement with him in several things which he suggested towards the close of his speech. I agree with him that if the Government want to do really good and useful work in the interests of the country, and of one of its greatest industries, they should devote the chief part of their attention, as regards this Bill, to the practical development of the agricultural interests of the country, and, in many respects, by some of the methods recommended by the hon. Baronet.
Perhaps I may be allowed to make a few observations upon Part I. of this Bill, keeping them as distinct as I can, for the moment, from Part II. As regards Part I., it has been pointed out with great truth by my Noble Friend that the objects in view in this part of the Bill are enumerated under seven different heads, and with regard to these particular objects it is sufficient perhaps for me to say for the moment that, generally speaking, I agree, so far as the objects are concerned, and I should be very glad indeed if I could say the same thing for the machinery by which it is proposed to carry them out. But I cannot. For instance, in Clause 3—there I find it is proposed to provide for the appointment of what are called "Advisory Committees." We have not yet been told how many there are to be of these committees. I think it would have been very useful information for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have afforded us this afternoon before we began this discussion. At present we know nothing about that. More than this, in the Memorandum it was stated that "an Advisory Committee will be appointed." In the Bill, however, we are told there "will be one or more." There is considerable difference in that respect, and, as regards these Advisory Committees, I state frankly at once to the House I see no necessity whatever for their appointment. On the contrary, I think, in many respects, they may be objectionable in the extreme. What are the purposes enumerated under seven Sub-sections of Clause 1 as the main objects of this Bill? I find the promotion of forestry is the first. With that I will deal later. Then, with the permission of the Committee, I will read Sub-section 2, because, I think, that is really deserving of our most careful attention It runs:—
"(b) Aiding and developing agriculture and rural industries by promoting scientific research, economic inquiries, instruction and experiments in methods and practice of agriculture, improvement of live stock 936 and poultry, co-operation, instruction, in marketing agricultural 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."
All these in themselves are admirable objects. And the paragraph appears to me to be excellent, but, as I reminded the right hon. Gentleman on a former occasion, it seems to be taken almost bodily from the Report of the Agricultural Committee of the Tariff Commission published two years ago. There is one suggestion which I should like to make with regard to this paragraph. I do not know if it will be included in the word "agriculture," but, whether it is intended to be included or not, I should like it to be specifically expressed. What I would like to see after the word "agriculture" are the words "the promotion of improved dairy farming." I want to see that specifically expressed, and for this reason, that, in my humble judgment, there is no direction in which so much material good can be done for the agricultural interest as in that particular direction. It is the one branch of the industry which, to a great extent, is free from that foreign competition which at one time brought our agriculture very nearly to ruin. I believe that a great development of that industry in England may be attended by most admirable and favourable results. I may be told that a great deal has been done in this respect of late by the county councils of the country. I do not wish to detract by a single word from the admirable and excellent work which I know the county councils have done, but there is a great deal left to be done in all parts of the country, and, for that reason, I should like to see these words put in a prominent position in the Bill. Very briefly, if I may do so, I will go through the objects enumerated in this Clause. First comes the reclamation and drainage of land; then the general improvement of rural transport (including the making of light railways, but not including the construction or improvement of roads); next, the construction and improvement of harbours; next, the construction and improvement of canals; and, finally, the development and improvement of fisheries. May I point out why, as I said just now, I think that the appointment of the Advisory Committees is altogether unnecessary and most undesirable? Clause 1 provides that the Treasury, after hearing representatives of the Advisory Committee, may make advances, etc., for 937 all these different purposes. Now, in my view, there are no earthly reasons for the appointment of the Advisory Committee. What better advisers upon any one of these seven different objects which are enumerated in the Bill can the Government desire than the two Government Departments—the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Trade. In my opinion, if the Government want to make this scheme a really workable and practical scheme, they cannot do better than to seek the information they want, as far as agriculture is concerned, from the Board of Agriculture, and as regard some of the other proposals from the Board of Trade. If they would consider the propriety of giving to the Board of Agriculture a chance in regard to the first four of the purposes enumerated in Clause 1, and would hand over to the Board of Trade the next two and also the development of fisheries, which formerly belonged to them, and which I have always thought was taken away without any good reason, I will venture to say this, that they will have a scheme infinitely less costly, infinitely better, more workable, and much more likely to succeed, than that which they have put before the House. There is one other matter I wish to refer to in connection with Clause 1. It is there said that these advances may be made to or through a Government Department. Then it goes on to say that the purposes are forestry, including the provision and planting of land. I do not quite know, under the terms of this Clause, what this means precisely. If it means that the Board of Agriculture is to undertake the provision and planting of land on a large scale themselves, otherwise than for the purpose of experiment, or of teaching methods of forestry, I can only say of any such proposal that I myself should be most opposed to it, and believe it would be most unwise, most costly, and very much indeed to be avoided. On that point, I suppose, we shall hear something a little later on.
The same thing applies, more or less, to the question of the reclamation of land and of drainage. What I would say upon that point is this. Advance money for drainage to others to any extent you please, and the cheaper the terms on which you are able to advance it the better. Drainage for successful agriculture is, even in these days, an absolute essential, and you can give a real turn to the agriculturists by enabling them to obtain money for this purpose, if possibly cheaper than they can get it now. But as regards re- 938 clamation of land in this country, I am bound to say this, that with the acute foreign competition to which we are subjected at present, I have no faith in the reclamation of land at all as an economic proceeding. I remember perfectly the late Lord Leicester telling me—a good many years ago now, it was at the time that agricultural land was almost at its worst; and I am almost certain that what he told me is recorded in one of the reports on agricultural depression—he said that he and his father between them had spent during their lives, I think it was a million of money on the reclamation of land in Norfolk, and, to use his own words, what he said of that operation was this:—Having regard to the fall in agricultural values, it was the greatest piece of folly that was ever committed in the world, and if we had not spent a shilling of that money, instead of being a comparatively poor man, I should have been a rich man at this moment.That is not the only case of reclamation with which I have been personally acquainted on a very large scale. I remember another in much laters years than that, and conducted perhaps on a still greater scale, in which enormous sums of money were spent, and, I am sorry to say, they were a still greater failure than those on which the money was thrown away by the late Lord Leicester. Having had this personal experience and knowledge of reclamation carried on to a great extent, will account for the views which I hold on this point, and which I venture with great respect to press upon the Government.
There is one thing more which I wish to say upon Part I. Like the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord R. Cecil), I object to the powers for the taking of land, which are given under Clause 4, nor do I think, as appears to be contemplated in the Bills that England and Ireland, for the purpose of the taking of land and of dealing with land, ought to be treated in the same manner and in the same Bill. I venture to remind the Government and hon. Gentlemen in other parts of the House that the conditions and circumstances of England and Ireland are totally different, and land legislation up to the present time, thank God, has been perfectly different in these two countries, and I am perfectly sure that no one who has the interests of the land at heart wishes to see one single step made in advance towards any imitation of Irish land legislation in Great Britain. I pass to just two or three points on Part II. of the Bill. I do not pretend to be any expert whatever on the question of motors. I have no objection whatever to them. On the contrary, 939 I think they are an immense luxury and a comfortable and a desirable means of progression, and I should be perfectly ready to do anything in my power to aid and sustain those who are desirous of promoting the welfare of motors; but there do seem to me to be very serious grounds for objection to the present proceeding. What is the general position? I derive my knowledge from considering the Bill. Under the Bill a Road Board is to be appointed. They are to acquire whatever land they please under the powers which are given to them under this Bill. When made the roads are to be used, I understand, by motors only, and there is to be no speed limit whatever.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
Am I wrong? I thought the speed limit was to be removed. That is my reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I agree that the statutory speed limit may be removed, but then these roads would be subject to new regulations, which will, of course, involve some sort of speed limit.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
Everything in these days, and under the Bills of the Government, is to be done by regulations, which we are not allowed to see, and which we cannot see, when we are discussing the Bill. We are here for the second reading of this Bill, and I was going to point out, as one of the greatest objections to it, that although the speed limit is removed, and is removed altogether, no provision whatever is made for the safety of the public from the dangers which I venture to think Will arise from the new motor roads with motors travelling on them, as they can do in these days, and as they will do, at the rate of 100 or 120 miles an hour—no provision whatever is made, with hundreds of cross roads crossing these new motor roads in every direction. It is obvious that there ought to have been most careful provisions, and they ought to be stated in the Bill, if it is intended to be a serious attempt to deal with this matter. I declare that as the Bill is drawn now, as it is presented to us for our consideration, these new motor roads, as they are provided for in the Bill now, would be a source of greater danger to the lives and safety of the public than all the railroads of the country put together. Just let me, for a single moment, contrast the different way in which railroads have been hitherto 940 treated by Parliament, and this new system of progression, which I regard in its present form as more dangerous than the railway—let me consider the different ways in which these two enterprises are treated. In the first place, railways are made under Act of Parliament, and under Act of Parliament alone. In the second, there are any number of provisions for the safety of the public insisted upon. All these things are dealt with, and laid down in specifications for examination before the Committee, or before the Parliament ever agrees to the construction of that railway. Thirdly, provisions are made for the convenience of the public in every conceivable manner; and fourthly, severances and things of that sort are allowed for. All the plans and all the particulars are deposited before Parliament, or before anyone who has to examine them, and any witness who supposes himself affected, in any way, is allowed to give evidence before the tribunal.
What is the danger of this new motor road scheme? It is a danger which, I contend, in its present form would be infinitely greater than that connected with railways. But none of these things are provided for at all. There is not a single word in the Bill upon them, and yet even the Government cannot deny that under this Bill the traffic of motors, travelling at this enormous speed, without signal-boxes on the roads, without gates and crossings to properly guard the public, will be very dangerous, but not one of these things appear to have been considered at all, in what I conceive to be a very hastily cooked-up measure, brought in hastily towards the end of the Session. There is one mention of cross roads certainly, and I should like to call the attention of the Committee to it. There has been a difficulty, which has evidently been considered, with regard to the crossing of high roads. I find it is in Sub-section 2 of Clause 7 and what it says is this: If the line of a road to be constructed by the Road Board crosses any existing highway the Road Board may carry the highway over the new road or they may carry the new road over the high road by means of a bridge. It seems to me that there are three ways of getting over this difficulty. The new road may be carried over the existing road, or the existing road may be carried over the new road, or a level crossing may be made. It does not say that bridges are to be made at every crossing; that does not follow at all, and I suppose is to be left to the discretion of the new Road Board. But the new 941 Road Board, I may point out, would not wish to make more bridges than are absolutely necessary, because that would be an extremely expensive process, and add enormously to the cost of the new road; but if you are going to take an existing road over a new road what a hardship that is upon the poor people in the district that their carts and other vehicles have to be dragged over an artificial and unnecessary hill. If anything is to be done in this direction at all, it ought to be the new road which ought to have the bridge and go over the high road, which is used by the locality and particularly by the poor, because this new road which you are going to make is made simply and solely for the purpose of the luxury of the rich.
I pass from that question for a moment to Clause 8, which says, "Where the Road Board make an advance to a highway authority towards the construction of a new road, the Board may authorise the authority to construct the road, and where so authorised the highway authority shall have power to construct the road and to do all such acts as may be necessary for the purpose, and any expenses of the, authority, so far as not defrayed out of the advance, shall be defrayed as expenses incurred by the authority in exercise of their powers as highway authority. "That means, I suppose, that it will go on to the rates. What other meaning can be attached to it? And yet in another part of the Bill we are expressly told that the Board is to have no authority over the rates, but by a side wind, in another Clause altogether, there is a very distinct provision by which part of the enormous expenses of these new roads is to be put on the rates. I hope sincerely that the ratepayers, especially the rural ratepayers, will become thoroughly alive to that fact. It shall not be my fault if they do not, and I do not think anything much further will be needed to add to the condemnation which I understand many farmers and others who have had time to consider the Bill have have expressed already.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Bill compels local authorities to construct new roads at the expense of the rates?
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
No, I did not say that; I read the words of the Clause. This is a Bill of great magnitude, and of much greater importance than we have ever been led to believe, or than at first sight would appear from a cursory perusal of it. It 942 requires careful, close and prolonged examination, and it cannot receive that consideration which is its due during this Session at all events, not even if my suggestion is adopted that it should be divided into two Bills. When the Prime Minister the other day was engaged in the massacre of the innocents he pointed to this particular measure as one on which he had very great doubts as to whether it could be regarded as non-contentious, and although I do not speak in any spirit of hostility to its objects, especially those in the first part of the Bill, if there was any effort made to ram it through Parliament this Session without all the consideration which it deserves I should oppose it to the utmost.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I think the interest of the speeches of the two Noble Lords who proposed and seconded the rejection of this measure, was somewhat unconscious in some portions at least. It was certainly rather refreshing to hear a Member of the Tory party protesting against legislative doles, and it was even more refreshing to hear the Seconder of the Motion deliver an almost passionate appeal in favour of the elective principle. The Noble Lord objected to the violation of that principle in the mandate from Whitehall. I object more strongly to the mandate from Lansdowne House. But I take issue with the Noble Lord who proposed the rejection of the measure on one or two of his allusions to the practice of foreign countries. In the first place, the Noble Lord, whose honest and courageous efforts against Tariff Reform everyone must admire, committed a grotesque exaggeration when he compared any of the effects of this Bill, even if it be carried into law, with the effects of Tariff Reform in the United States.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I must protest that any comparison between the results of such a Bill as this, even if it is as bad as the Noble Lord says, and the results of Tariff Reform is impossible. If every penny voted under this Bill were to be spent in political corruption it would not amount to the sum of money which is received by two great protected industries in the United States—the Standard Oil and the Steel Trusts—and these are only two of an almost inexhaustible number of protected industries. Nor can I altogether accept the views of 943 the Noble Lord, although I know the opportunity he has had of personal observation, with regard to the result of legislation of the same bind in Continental countries. I judge that some of his observations were applied to the case of France. I am not prepared to say there have not been some evils in connection with legislation of this kind in France like those which the Noble Lord has alluded to. Few things in this world are without their imperfections. But, on the other hand, anyone who has followed the legislation of France since the war must be astounded and, perhaps, even humiliated by the practical new birth of vast industries in that country which have come from the great development of the railway and canal system under some such legislation as is proposed by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
Protection did not build the railways and did not build and widen the canals. That was done largely under the initiative of M. Freycinet, one of the ablest of modern French statesmen, and everyone knows that in the North of France and parts of the South of France, which were practically without any great industries, enormous industries have been created by the development of the canal system, all done under some such legislation as the Chancellor of the Exchequer now proposes. If the Noble Lord were acquainted with the conditions of Germany or of Austria, he would know that there also, though I do not profess myself an entirely blind advocate of State interference, you cannot pass along a road and see every single tree marked and numbered by the State, and see forests growing under State initiative, without thinking we have something to learn from Continental countries with regard to internal development.
Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, and at their request, I have to state that we welcome this Bill, that we will give to it our most cordial support, and that we would regard its rejection as a grave national disaster. [Cheers.] I suppose there is some inner meaning, which I do not quite penetrate, to those ironic cheers, a favour which is so unusual as to be the more welcome. I suppose they mean that we are to be blamed because we support a Bill which benefits our country. I understand the state of irritability in which I see hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway whenever they see Members of this party sup- 944 porting the financial measures of the Government. I am sure it must be a disappointment to them—it is a disappointment to many others besides them—that we have not become the tail of their opposition to the financial proposals of the Government. It must be a disappointment that we did not join them in the alliance to keep on the people of England the same yoke of landlordism which is so oppressive to us. I condole with them and' their friends, open and secret. We have had a very remarkable speech, and one very different from those of the two Noble Lords—from the honoured veteran who represents so ardently and so consistently the cause of agriculture (Mr. Chaplin). He did not meet this Bill in the same spirit as the Noble Lord. On the contrary, he gave the main principles of the Bill a cordial welcome. All he protested against was any undue haste in rushing the-machinery of the Bill through Parliament. If it is only a question of machinery, and if this Bill is only to be discussed with goodwill and good faith, there will still be time to have it adequately discussed and passed this Session. I leave to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway and any allies they may have in any part of the House the responsibility for any postponement of this measure. So far as we from Ireland are concerned, we should regard the rejection of the Bill or the postponement of the measure for another year as a great national disaster to our country. I was rather astounded at the speech of the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil). He read an extract from a speech in which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) expressed a strong hope, and even a strong conviction, that a proportion of the funds under this Bill would be devoted to drainage in Ireland.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I have here a verbatim report of what exactly the hon. and learned Member for Waterford said, and I will read an extract from it. The speech was delivered at Arklow on 4th July this year, and reported in the "Freeman's Journal "of the following day. He said:—There is another proposal to create what is called the Development Fund. It is created this year by reason of £200,00 under this Budget, and next year vast sums of money will be paid into it. And the money is to be paid out of this fund to each country in turn, in accordance with its needs; and I have the best reason to believe and to know that out of that Development Fund within the next twelve months money will surely be provided for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann, and the other rivers which are spreading desolation and ruin by their flooding throughout Ireland. Money will also be available which can be used to facilitate the purchase and amalgamation of Irish railways under an Irish Local Authority, and I 945 therefore look forward to this Development Fund us a means of meeting some of the greatest social and economic needs of Ireland in the near future. These things, therefore, the Irish party are supporting, and I appeal to the intelligence of Ireland to endorse our action.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I am sure that in the high state of journalism that is a perfectly accurate report, and I accept it as such. Is that inconsistent with anything said in the course of the Debate tonight? My hon. and learned Friend did not say that he had any pledge from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said he had "the best reason to believe and to know. "Let us examine this mare's nest a little carefully. In. the first place, supposing the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a pledge that if this Bill were passed one of the very first purposes to which the money to which Ireland was entitled would be devoted would be the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann—would there be anything corrupt in any such pledge given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be only doing in 1909 what the Leader of the Opposition tried to do in 1888, and he would only be doing what the Member for Antrim a few weeks ago in this House proposed that the present Government should do, namely, arrange for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann. Does the Noble Lord know where the Bann is? The Bann is in the North of Ireland. You have to begin with these rudimentary facts when trying to persuade the Noble Lord, and when trying to instruct some men upon Irish questions. The Bann is surrounded by a population mainly of strong Protestant religious convictions and strong Unionist political convictions. What would be said of me if I objected to the drainage of the Bann, by which it is hoped that the homes of a few poor, hard-working Orangemen will be yearly saved from destruction, and the health of their families preserved? What would be said of me if I denounced that as a corrupt bargain? I will read to the Noble Lord the reasons why my hon. and learned Friend was justified in thinking that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were at once a rational man and a man inclined to meet the views and interests of the people of Ireland he must have concluded that one of the purposes to which this money would be applied must be drainage. In the following passage, characterised by the admirable lucidity we expect from him, except upon Tariff questions, the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Chief Secretary for 946 Ireland, speaking in this House on 2nd July, 1888, dealing with the question of drainage, said:—I think, Sir, there are many reasons. In the first place, I am bound to say. I think that we owe something in the nature of an historic debt to Ireland. I think that of all transactions of which Englishmen and Scotchmen—I do not know that I ought to say Scotchmen because some of these transactions took place before the Union—have to be ashamed of in their dealings with Ireland, the transactions by which the English Parliament made use of its superiority over Ireland to destroy her budding industries was the most shameful. Bad as the penal laws were, they were the offspring of bigotry and political terror, and the motives that prompted them are elevating as compared with the mean and sordid action of the English Parliament in crushing the Irish industries. I do not think there is much object in dwelling on this historic question. In addition to that, I would point out that during the present century it has been the practice of the English Government at intervals to spend, with more or less success, considerable sums out of the Exchequer on Irish objects; and therefore I may also refer to the action taken by the United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland during the years of the present century.These observations were made not in introducing a corrupt piece of legislation by means carried on as part of a corrupt bargain between the Leader of the House and the Irish party, but in proposing a scheme to give £210,000 for the purpose of draining the Bann and the Barrow. This is a mare's nest, which the Noble Lord solemnly and with a command of countenance which I did not think so transparently honest a man would have displayed—this is the instance which the Noble Lord gives of that weltering saturnalia of corruption which must follow from the adoption of the Bill introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My hon. and learned Friend had a further reason for expressing the opinion he gave as to the purpose to which the money should be devoted. He read the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he found in Sub-section (c) of Clause 1 that one of the purposes to which this money should be devoted was the reclamation and the drainage of land. Therefore, the House-will immediately see what almost superhuman penetration of the future my hon. and learned Friend must have had to be able to forecast the probability, I think I might say the certainty, that a portion of the money that comes to Ireland from this Bill must be devoted to the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann.
Now, I put it to the Noble Lord and others above the Gangway, and especially to hon. Members representing constituencies in Ulster—I do not see many of them in their places—whether they are going to join in an attempt to defeat a Bill one of the first purposes of which will be the taking from Ireland the prospect of having 947 removed a hideous and urgent grievance which for more than a century has laid desolate the homes and hearths and fields of many of the population. On certain portions of the Bill we reserve our opinion. The Noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon are at variance on some points of the Bill. The Noble Lord spoke as if he regarded the Advisory Board as a superfluity. I do not know whether it is or not. I only say that from our point of view we do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see that the voice of Ireland in the disposal of the money which comes to Ireland shall have effective power in making itself heard. I shall not attempt to accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of being undesirous to know what the views of the Irish people are. I daresay he would have the weakness, if it is a weakness, to consult the opinion of the people of Ireland, and I would say that the best way to do that is to consult the people in the different centres of the nation.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BOWLES
The hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has made, as he always does, an interesting speech. He has devoted the greater part of it to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Marylebone as to the exact situation which at present exists between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government on the one hand and the Leader of the Nationalist party on the other. There is only one matter in connection with which hon. Members on either side of the House have any interest, namely, whether or not any promise or assurance has been given to the Leader of the Irish Nationalist party in regard to this Bill. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division poured scorn on my hon. Friend and others who are opposing this Bill; I suppose he is totally unable to deny from his own knowledge that any such arrangement exists. It is a matter of very great importance, and it is one of which in the interest of the House itself we ought to hear more before the Debate closes. The hon. Member made one observation which I thought very strange. He said that even supposing a pledge has been given, and even supposing the Government has said to the Leader of the Irish party, "If you will support the Bill, or if you will help us with the Budget, and refrain from opposing our proposals, we will see to it that you have your fair share of the money under this fund for such purposes as the 948 drainage of the Bann and the Barrow," that would not be a corrupt bargain. For my part I should have thought it was a corrupt bargain. I do not know how the ethics of corruption may be interpreted in different quarters of the House, but I should be very much surprised if the hon. Gentleman would seriously contend that an arrangement by which the support of the Irish party was to be secured to the Government in matters involving the existence of the Government by the payment over to the constituencies which gentlemen from Ireland represent of hard cash in the form of wages and the expenses of public works. I should very much doubt whether the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down would desire to suggest that such an arrangement if made would not be in the nature of a bargain, a corrupt, and as I think, a grossly corrupt bargain. There are two considerations which have not been mentioned which do make this Bill, as it seems to me, the final climax of the perfectly extraordinary course of financial and social legislation which this Government have pursued for the last two or three years. If this Bill means anything I suppose it means this: Here at this moment, in the year 1909, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, a country not hitherto regarded as in a state of very backward economic development, a country which has not been altogether unsuccessful in any of the arts of life or commerce, and which has not commonly been regarded as in need of these violent methods of bureaucratic development, is, it is suggested, languishing, dying, pining away, and bleeding to death for want of £500,000 a year to be administered under the sole control of the right hon. Gentleman. That is the view seriously entertained by the responsible Government of this country. It is a ludicrous and fantastic view. This country has not been built up, and will not be maintained; it will not be benefited; it will be greatly injured by management of this sort by Government Departments. The people of this country are perfectly capable of managing their own affairs. Least of all people in the world do they need this sort of extraordinary spoon-feeding under the sole control of a Government Department.
§ Mr. BOWLES
The hon. Gentleman says that he will not take spoon-feeding 949 from a Tariff Reformer, but he will take any amount of it from the right hon. Gentleman. For my part I think that he would not object to spoon-feeding whatever hand holds the spoon. Another assumption underlying this Bill is that the whole United Kingdom, with its infinite varieties and perplexities of activities, commercial and agricultural—financial, the most important of all activities are left out—but all these other activities are to pass under review of Treasury officials in a back room. They will certainly have plenty of activity to rub the dust off if the Treasury are going to carry on an inquiry into the whole business of the United Kingdom in regard to its economic position. As I understand this Bill, it will be competent for any person or any Member of Parliament to come to the Treasury and say, "Here in my Division there is a lot of traders, manufacturers, and others. The local authority desire this, and there are all kinds of people who desire assistance from this fund." The Treasury will have to pass under review week after week and month after month, on one occasion or another, almost every industry in every country and in every constituency. The thing is ridiculous. No Government Department in the world could do it, and it is peculiarly ridiculous, it seems to me, that the Department chosen should be the Department of the Treasury. What do officials of the Treasury know about turnips or about live stock or poultry? Conceive in a backroom of the Treasury two or three Treasury clerks considering reports from some Advisory Committee, persons whose sole office appears to me will be to receive large salaries at the public expense for advice that need not be and will not be taken; but conceive two or three clerks in a back-room in the Treasury sitting on a report from an Advisory Committee on all these things, scientific research, economic inquiry, and live stock improvement. What earthly conclusion of any value can clerks of the Treasury come to on matters of that sort? And the idea which is at the root of the Bill, that this great country, the centre of all the life movement and art of the world, is to be what is called developed by a farcical proceeding of this sort is so wild and so extraordinary that it appears to me—the right hon. Gentleman will pardon me for saying so—to show a certain want of balance in the minds of those who can seriously make such a proposal.
950 With regard to the financial proceeding, all this expenditure—which, of course, if it is really to be carried into effect, will greatly exceed the half-million that is suggested in the Bill—is, as I understand it, to be carried out solely by the Treasury, which means by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government themselves, without any estimate presented previously to Parliament. That is a very important matter. Up to now, as every hon. Gentleman knows, the great security of the taxpayer and the great security of Parliament in matters of expenditure has been exactly this: That at any rate both knew that no money could be spent, except in cases of grave urgency and at the peril of those who spent it, not a halfpenny of public money could be spent unless upon an estimate brought forward by a Minister of the Crown on his responsibility and submitted to Parliament, and agreed to by this House. Now I understand that all this expenditure is to be incurred without any estimate previously presented to Parliament. It is to be settled simply by people in a back-room of the Treasury, Parliament knowing nothing about it until it has been spent. In other words, there is no control by Parliament over this great and growing expenditure. It does not even end there. There is a perfectly illusory Sub-section, Subsection 3 of Section II., which makes a great parade of safeguard, which says this: "At the end of every financial year accounts shall be made up in such form and with such particulars as may be directed by the Treasury "—the people who spend the money—"and shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General"—that, I have no doubt, is considered to be a great spoonful of soothing syrup—"as public accounts in accordance with such regulations as the Treasury"—who spend the money—"may make."
Really, are we not beginning to hear a little too much of the Treasury in every Bill presented to this House? In a Bill which we were considering last week, and in this Bill, the whole financial powers and responsibilities are handed over to clerks of the Treasury. Nobody who has ever come into contact with the clerks of the Treasury would desire to say a word against them. But to suggest that they are universal geniuses, or, as they have been called, laborious archangels, presiding over every industry in the country, and capable of deciding what industry is to be developed and what constituency is to be assisted, and that they are to have 951 the whole initiation of expenditure and the whole control of the audit after it has been spent, is really to destroy the whole financial basis on which public money has been spent in this country up to now, and to abrogate our function on behalf of the House of Commons and to turn the whole spending and administration of this sum as it stands at present, and of the infinitely greater sums which will certainly be spent under this Bill if at ever becomes reality over to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his advisers at the Treasury. That is by itself, apart from all that has been said as to the danger of corruption, with every word of which I agree, and apart from all that has been said as to the difficulties of practical administration. The notion first of all that this country is languishing for want of nourishment and the notion that the Treasury is to regenerate it by doling out £500,000 a year seems to be so ridiculous, and the method of applying it is so mischievous, that for my part I do earnestly trust that hon. Gentlemen will not at any rate support this Bill until they have heard a great deal better reasons in support of it than have so far been given.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
The criticism which has been passed on this Bill from the Front Opposition Bench has been of a much more discriminating character than that which we have heard from behind. Speaking not as to machinery but as to the way in which it would operate, I can only give the House my own impression as to how it would operate. One would think from what has been said that there were no applications for money coming into the Treasury already. Under this proposal the Advisory Committee, if it is a body which carries with it public confidence—and if it does not carry public confidence it is not worth having—it would be invaluable as a filter through which these demands from the country should go to the Treasury; and so far as I know of the Bill it would be really absurd to talk of the matter being decided by two or three Treasury clerks. It might, of course, be of some advantage to know of whom the Advisory Committee would consist. But I am sure of this, that no one making such proposal as is made in this Bill would put forward names which did not carry with them public confidence. Unless it obtains confidence of this kind, and is absolutely non-political and above suspicion, then I agree it would be an engine of corruption and an engine of the 952 worst form. I admit that when you come to patronage, and when you come to the distribution of money, you do come upon the weak side of representative institutions. Corruption, which has been so freely alluded to, may not be conducted on so colossal a scale in this country as it has been in past ages, or as it is in other countries at the present time. But if there is one thing which would secure us against that danger it would be to have a strong Advisory Committee of this kind in connection with the Treasury. I believe every public Department ought to have its advisory committee. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh, but there is already one in connection with the English Education Department, and another at the Board of Trade., and they might be made much more effective than they are at the present time. The Advisory Committee is a good institution, and ought to be encouraged rather than discouraged. There is reason for having a body of this kind when you look at the different subjects to be dealt with under this Bill. Take the first two—forestry and the development of agriculture. There are many authorities interested in those two-subjects. I think I once counted up nine or ten different public Departments or bodies in this country who take some part it sylviculture, and who also take upon themselves responsibility in regard to agricultural training. An Advisory Committee ought to be able to abolish some of the overlapping, and to avoid some of the great waste of public money that results from it. That is why an advisory body of this kind at the Treasury would be a great security for economy and against extravagance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin) said he would like the Bill divided into two parts. It is divided into two parts already.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
The Bill is divided into two parts, which are sufficiently distinct one from the other for all practical purposes, and I cannot see any advantage the right hon. Gentleman would derive from having these proposals in the form of two Bills. No doubt the list in the first part of the measure may be considered rather a long one, but I think there is general agreement that, if a start is to be made in forestry it must be under some provision of this sort. I have taken an interest in forestry for the last twenty years, and, if it had not been for what 953 some of us have been able to do, if forestry had not been taken practically in hand as well as talked about, and if we had not the results of the action that has been taken to fall back upon, this question of forestry would long ago have lost all interest in this House. For the next eight or ten years you would have to spend from £100,000 to £ 150,000 a year in carrying out the preliminaries necessary to any considerable scheme of State afforestation. That is absolutely essential. I think it would be folly to go in for a scheme involving millions and millions of acres at a cost probably of £ 10,000,000, in the present stage of sylviculture. Money could not be more usefully employed than in spending from £100,000 to £150,000 on the preliminaries to a great scheme of sylviculture. I do not think it is necessary to assume that the State ought to do the work in connection with afforestation. The State will have to do a great part of it, but the individual owners will have to do their share also. I think that the woodlands belonging to individual owners in Germany show higher achievements in sylviculture than those of the State or those of the local authorities. But the individual landowner in this country will have no such chance until a great deal of development generally has taken place in connection with sylviculture.
As regards agriculture, the practical suggestion was made by the right hon. Member for Wimbledon that a great deal of experimental work might be done in developing dairy farming. I hope that cooperative societies in Ireland, in England, and in Scotland, and institutions of a kindred character may receive support in proportion to the work that they are able to do in developing agriculture. There are many ways in which practical and experimental work is still required in respect to agriculture. There is an immense amount to be done still in co-ordinating our system of agricultural training, which is in a state of chaos at the present moment. Who knows whether it is the Board of Agriculture or the Board of Education that has most to do with guiding agricultural education in this country? I hope that some arrangement will be arrived at between those two illustrious Departments, but until now the want of co-operation between them has led to a great deal of overlapping, and there is need of co-ordination in our system of agricultural training. An advisory body would be of the utmost value in connection with the Agricultural Departments, 954 more especially when innumerable demands from the public are streaming into the Treasury. I think the proposal for this advisory body is one that ought to have the support of this House in the interests of public economy as well as of efficiency. I should like to say to the Noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill, that the scheme is very different from that which was foreshadowed in the Budget. I am bound to say that the scheme foreshadowed in the Budget came to me rather as a shock. But the scheme, as it is proposed in this Bill, seems to be far more practical and far more clearly denned, and I should say that it is a much more guarded proposal than that to which passing reference was made in the Budget. In respect of some of the larger matters—canals and harbours—they are, no doubt, very large operations, and nothing much can be done in those directions with the half millions of money proposed under the Bill. Still, I think it would be well to have these matters in hand. If there is one thing I have been afraid of having to undertake when at the head of the local administration, it is that in connection with the relief of distress in times of unemployment. There is nobody less able than the local authority to deal with a question of that kind. If we have to deal with unemployment in the future, I hope it will be dealt with by a central authority rather than by local authorities and the machinery they have hitherto employed, than which nothing could be more demoralising. I think it would be far better done by a central authority than by the spasmodic methods hitherto employed.
So also with regard to fishery questions, land reclamation, and, particularly, the protection of the coast line. It is high time that some such provision should be made as that which is proposed in this measure. Then there are the questions of transport and the development of the agricultural industry. With regard to the second part of the Bill, on which I have very little to say, I am not able to give it so much support as I accord to the first part. Reference has been made to the Motor Tax and the Petrol Tax, and the way in which the burden of them will fall upon agriculture. This is really an endowment of the motor and no relief of local rates; in fact, if you begin to widen your roads, to cut off the corners, and polish up the surface it will cause an increase of the local rates. All these improvements of the roads will cost much more money than agriculturists will be at 955 all willing to pay. You are going to widen your roads, and with wider roads there will be a larger superficial area to maintain. You will have this heavy motor traffic cutting up the top of the road after the expense had been incurred, and all this will undoubtedly add to the burden put upon the ordinary agricultural ratepayer. Therefore it is really not a relief of agriculture; if anything, it means an increase of the rates upon agriculture. With respect to the main motor roads, I cannot help thinking that those who go about in motor cars should improve the roads for themselves. They ought themselves to provide the funds—in the form of a toll or in some other way—necessary to improve the motor roads, and they should pay the tell just as one pays to travel on a railway. I think it is a most ingenious proposal, and has a great deal to recommend it, but in practice I am against it. I should like to see a central authority in connection with the second pant of the measure. We need a central board, and it would be a good thing to set up. With respect to the first part of the Bill, everything is ready for its coming into operation. In regard to the provision of a central board, I should like to see some of the main roads transferred to it. I think that would be a fair proposal. I think it is better than subsidising the local authorities. The local authorities have been put to additional cost by the increase of motor traffic in the last 10 or 12 years, which has added enormously to the local rates, and therefore in respect of that expenditure they ought either to get relief, or better still, I think, some of the main roads might be diverted to the control of the Central Board. I do not take very kindly to the idea of the main motor road. I do think that the country taxpayer is entitled to some consideration for the expense to which he has been put by the motor traffic. The motor traffic, after all, in many country districts is to my mind an intolerable nuisance, and is bitterly resented by the bulk of the population, who think it very hard that they should be called upon to pay extra taxes. Therefore, I say that a substantial part of the Petrol Tax and the Motor Duty ought to go to the relief of the existing burden of taxation which motors have already entailed on the local authorities. That part of the Bill is one which must, and will, receive consideration in Committee. With regard to the first part, I sincerely hope, in view of the enormous public advantage 956 it would be to proceed forthwith with the development of agricultural training,, with all the preliminary work necessary to afforest our waste land, which in any other country in Europe would now be contributing its quota to the national wealth, with the new also to making provision for dealing in a more common-sense manner; with unemployment, if it should, unfortunately, become permanent amongst us again, and for the development of light railways in connection with agriculture, I most earnestly hope these provisions will be passed by Parliament, and would be put into operation with as little delay as. possible.
§ Mr. W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
With a certain amount of what the hon. Member who has just spoken has said I agree, though I do not share the same enthusiasm: for the creation of Central Boards in all directions which appears to be near his heart. The speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool was directed to proving that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), when he said he believed and knew that something was going to happen, that he really ought to have said he did not know, but only had some sort of ground for thinking so. I do not know what his ground for thinking so was, and I am not going to inquire into the precise domestic relations between Members below the Gangway and the Government. I do not seek to inquire, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lloyd-George) assured us that the statement had no foundation in fact. I am quite prepared to accept that assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, and I do not seek to press the matter further. Then there was the speech made by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir F. A. Channing). I think his speech showed a triumphant determination to bless this Bill without regarding too critically the exact considerations and the exact proposals which are embodied in the measure itself. I noticed amongst other things that the hon. Baronet said he was surprised at any opposition coming from the Tory party, which had always been in favour of contributions given by Parliament to the relief of local rates. He suggested, I suppose, that this is a Bill under which contributions are given by Parliament to the relief of local rates, the real fact being, as the hon. Baronet knows, that there are many cases where contributions are not given by Parliament, but 957 by clerks in the back-room of the Treasury, and where they do not go in relief of rates.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
They will go to objects like education, and be a relief to the local authorities.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I quite agree that you can have local objects which are of national benefit, and I quite agree that it is quite right they should receive some recognition and some subvention from Imperial sources. That is a policy with which I think no one in any quarter of the House would be disposed to quarrel. This Bill goes beyond that, and I want to look at it from its intrinsic contents, and looking at the actual provisions I am bound to say it wears very much more the appearance of an electioneering manifesto than that of a serious attempt at legislation. I do not think in my short experience that I have seen any measure drafted in such vague and general terms. To begin with, there is absolutely not one word from beginning to end in regard to the relations between the local authorities and the new central authority under this Bill. There is no explanation whether it is or is not the intention of the Government to ask the co-operation of the local authorities in carrying out these various works. Not only is that so, but there is no special administrative authority set up to carry matters of that kind out. Take the objects of the Bill. What body is going to deal with the question of forestry? Grants are to be made by the Government Department, but what Government Department is going to deal with that work? Then there is agriculture, and so far as I can see, except for powers given to the Board of Agriculture under Clause 4 to acquire and own land, there is no provision for direct administration in the Bill. There is something about extending provisions for small holdings. Does that mean that more grants are to be given to the county councils and are the county councils to be the administering authority or the Board of Agriculture direct, and if it is the Board of Agriculture, are you going to have Board of Agriculture holdings competing against county council holdings? Reclamation and drainage of land is about as wide a subject as you could well devise and involving work of most enormous expense. How is that to be undertaken? There is not a single word said about an authority to carry that out. We have the question of canals; most of them have passed the dividend 958 period, and while it is quite easy to get an. authority to deal with existing canals, there is not one single word about the authority which is to be responsible for spending what must be enormous sums of money in the construction of canals.
So much with regard to the authorities, and I come to the question of the apportionment of the fund under Part I. May I ask, Is it suggested that this fund is to be divided pro rata between the three countries—England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland—is there to be a grant made for England, and are Scotland and Ireland to get equivalent grants? If not, what provision is made for the adequate representation of Scotland and Ireland upon the fund distributing authorities? I think these are points which ought to be mentioned. I come to Part II. I think it is very unfortunate that the draftsman of this Bill, whoever he may be, has put the objects of the Bill in the particular order in which they appear. The one first set down is the construction of new roads, and then in the second place maintenance of existing roads. That was not the order in, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned them in his Budget speech. The right hon. Gentleman in delivering his Budget speech put the maintenance of existing roads and the improvement of existing roads in the first place, and the construction of new roads in the second place. I think it was somewhat unfortunate that the order should have been transposed in this Bill. Indeed, I have some-little doubt as to whether the construction of new roads is within the purpose of this Bill at all, because I see the title of the Bill is to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom and the improvement of roads therein. As I understand now, I have drawn the right hon. Gentleman into the expression of opinion that the maintenance and improvement of existing roads should be what you might call the first constructive policy, and not new roads.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am very glad to have that assurance. I hope someone will tell me what are going to be the exact advantages of these new speed-ways. It is very difficult to see what advantage there can be, at all events, to this generation, and if we are to be taxed for the benefit of posterity who knows that posterity may thank us? For by the time, perhaps, it may be 959 a question of speed-ways in the air, and not on the land at all. I hope the Government will give us some statement of the considerations which have led them to believe that the establishment of these speed-ways, will have valuable economic results. With regard to existing roads, of course, the case is quite different. There is practically no limit to the amount of useful expenditure which might be made on existing roads on the corners, bridges, surface, and so on. All these are most useful and practical objects, and very much more so than the suggestion that we should borrow large sums of money to create special speedways for those who like to travel at 60 or 70 miles per hour. I observed when this proposal was first brought out one of its critics in the Press assumed that the financial aspect would not be very serious, because the sum would not be very large. I think the House ought to recollect that under this Section there are very large borrowing powers entrusted to the central road authority. They may borrow to an expenditure involving £200,000 per year. There is no term of repayment stated in the Bill, and it is quite clear we ought to know what is the term. Supposing you take a period of 30 years. That would give them a borrowing power of something over three millions, apart from £400,000 which they can spend every year. I confess it is a little strange to find that it is the height of financial orthodoxy to borrow money for special roads, while it is deemed to be the height of financial injustice to borrow money for the construction of "Dreadnoughts." I see their provisions are inserted to acquire certain frontage price. Is it suggested in respect of this land speculation that is to be conducted by these officials in the Treasury, with the assistance of the Advisory Committee, that their land is going to be subject to taxation? If not, then it is quite clear, if they are going to be allowed to engage in building speculation with the subsidy fund, that their operations will be against the legitimate private trader. The other point is this, that they are not to be empowered to acquire land in urban districts, but only in rural districts. I think you ought to be careful of your definition of rural districts so as to deal with populous areas under a County of Administration, which, to all intents and purposes, are urban areas only that they happen to be administered by county councils. I should like to know if you are going to 960 give the public the right to make access to these new motor roads, and what is the value to a private purchaser of a strip of land if he has not got access to the road? It is perfectly clear that for every single plot of land you sell alongside the road you will have to give an access to the road, and every access to the road you will have to protect. The more it is looked into, the more crude will the proposal appear.
May I say one word with regard to the constitution of the Board? Is there to be only one Road Board for the three Kingdoms? If so, are the separate nationalities to have representation upon it? What is to be the procedure of the Board with regard to allocating money for the improvement of roads? The simplest way to do that somewhat complicated piece of work would be to make each local road authority send in a specification every year of the work which it thought ought to be done in its district, and for the Road Board to consider the country as a whole and not to start allocating different sums to different parts of the country without taking the whole country into consideration. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) spoke about "lobbying" in the United States. I think that a system of financial control could be devised under which such a Bill as this could be worked, but I very much doubt whether such a system is to be found in the Bill as it stands. After all, what the people in America really object to is not the "lobbying," although that is serious, but the "grafter" and the "boodler." They are the men who, for private consideration, divert the spending of public money into certain channels. That is the danger you have to guard against. To guard against that you have to be absolutely certain that your system of Treasury responsibility is a real system. Your Advisory Committees are worth nothing under this Bill. The Treasury is not bound to accept their recommendations; and, if they do not accept them, the committees have no power to protest. There ought to be one clear authority set up to whom the ultimate appeal should be. There can be only one authority for that purpose, and that is a Committee of this House. The ultimate responsibility must be to the Committee of Supply. Before any expenditure is undertaken, it ought to be voted in Committee of Supply; and, when it has been undertaken, every Paper and every payment in connection with it ought to be subject to the Public Accounts Committee. 961 I do not know whether it is intended that the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor-General should have a real control over this expenditure; but there have been Acts passed not long ago in which that power of control, which, in theory, resides in the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor-General, has in practice proved to be not very real. I hope that that will not be the case with this Act. If It is, whatever be the intention of the Government, you will be faced with the conflicting interests of private interests, prejudices, and partial factions.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
This has been a very interesting and a very significant Debate. There is one characteristic of the Debate which I think has considerable significance, and that is that the attack on the Bill has been confined exclusively to non-agricultural Members. Up to the present we have not had a single Member for an agricultural constituency sitting on the other side of the House attacking the proposals of the Government for the aid of agriculture. The Members who have spoken for agriculture represent town constituencies. The Noble Lord opposite (Lord R.Cecil) has spoken for the agricultural community of Marylebone. The Noble Lord (Viscount Morpeth) has spoken for the market gardeners of Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin) approves of the Bill—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman said that he approved of the object of the Bill so long as the Bill was not carried. The Bill is a first-rate one, but if the Government mean to carry it it will have his whole-hearted opposition.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. What I really said was that I approved in the main of the objects of the first part of this Bill, but that I disapproved altogether of the machinery by which those objects were to be carried into effect. I added that the Bill was of such importance that I did not think it could be properly examined at this period of the year during a Session like the present, and that if any attempt was made to force it through the House without due and proper examination I should oppose its passage to the best of my ability.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman will have every opportunity of examining the Bill and of criticising any details to which he may object.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The Session is not over by any means. We will afford an opportunity. After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the second reading of the Budget I really expected something better from him, but I am grievously disappointed. The Noble Lord +he Member for Marylebone (Lord R. Cecil) I expected opposition from. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) I also expected opposition from.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
They do not agree with anything, not even with each other; therefore, I did not expect any agreement from them. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin), on the second reading of the Budget, devoted nearly the whole of his speech to passionately pleading that he was the man who discovered this idea. He discovered the North Pole; I only got there after him. He explained at great length how he started from, I think, Dublin, with the Tariff Reform Commission on a voyage of discovery, and had found it; he claimed to be the real discoverer, to whom all the credit of the distinction belonged. He, having taken that line, I naturally expected his assistance now that I have tried to develop the idea—his idea, his child. I thought that as a fond parent, at any rate, he would have assisted me in protecting his child against the assassins who sit behind him. Instead of that, he threatens the most virulent opposition under certain conditions, and he does not seem at all anxious that the Bill should be carried. On the contrary, I do not think I should be doing him any injustice if I said that on the whole the right hon. Gentleman would be better pleased if the Bill did not go through the House of Commons during the present Session of Parliament. I really expected better treatment from him at any rate.
The Noble Lord (Lord E. Cecil) started his speech by attacking me for not having made a statement in opening the proceedings on the Bill. He said that it was another insult to the House of Commons. [Sir F. BANBUKY: "Hear, hear."] I see that his comrade ad hoc quite agrees with him. The Noble Lord is rather in the 963 habit of lecturing Ministers in the House of Commons without adequate experience. His experience is confined to this single Parliament, but no one would imagine it, either from his gifts or from the rather superior tone which he adopts. Does he know what happened in the last Parliament? The Education Bill of 1902 was moved by the lifting of the hat of the Minister. On the Licensing Bill of 1904, a highly controversial measure, no Minister spoke until much later in the evening than the hour at which I have risen to-night. In the present case I had already explained the object of the Bill in my Budget speech, at much too great length I admit—for about twenty minutes. I circulated a full statement on the first reading. I have simply followed the precedent of the Leader of the Opposition, who is certainly a more distinguished authority than the Noble Lord, and who would not insult the House of Commons, in simply waiting for two or three hours until I knew the general line of criticism. The Noble Lord has laid down some very remarkable doctrines. He said that whenever rich motorists were taxed it was the working class who paid. That is a very remarkable doctrine. Why not extend it? Is it not the simplest plan to tax the rich people, if it is the other classes who pay? The cost of collection would be so much reduced. You would simply send a demand note to these few thousand people and say, "Would you mind paying us? Of course, it is not you who will pay; you are simply the agents. You just sign the cheque. The money will all come back to you." It is so much simpler. The rich man with a motor car of 60 horse-power simply signs the cheque; it is the poor pedestrian on the road, covered with dust, who pays. When the rich millionaire signs the cheque for £40 or £50 it is the little market gardener along the road side who pays. It is a very simple method of taxation. You just get these few people to sign the cheque—that is the best method of making the whole community pay. That is the doctrine laid down by the Noble Lord, and it may be worth considering. I can quite conceive that some day or other he will be a member of a Socialist Ministry, defending a Socialist Budget, defending the exclusive taxation of the rich, because it is not they who really pay, but somebody else. That is a very remarkable doctrine to come from him. [An HON. MEMBER: "It did not 964 come from him."] I have just quoted his words.
As usual, the Noble Lord discovered Socialism here. All I can say is that some of the least Socialistic States in the world have indulged in experiments of this character. Denmark is certainly not a Socialistic State; on the contrary, it is probably the most individualistic State in Europe. It is a community of peasant proprietors. Yet in Denmark they have already engaged in these experiments, for I forget how long exactly, but 20 or 30 years, and. with very great success.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman, I think, is rather unfair to me in his answer to my interruption. He said: "Denmark is the most individualistic country in Europe." I say it is one of the most Socialistic.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The Noble Lord is absolutely wrong. It shows really that when the Noble Lord and his colleagues talk about Socialism they have not the most elementary knowledge of what it means. If he would only look at the dictionary before he interrupts it would be better. Does he really mean to suggest that peasant proprietorship is Socialism? Four-fifths of the land of Denmark belongs to peasant proprietors. That is the very opposite of Socialism! Some hon. Members talk without the slightest knowledge of the phrases they use—phrases which are used wildly in the streets, and, if I may say so, ignorantly. May I just say to the Noble Lord that in Denmark this has been a substitute for Protection. The one community in Denmark that would not have Protection for its industry was the farming community. They did ask for this, and it has been a substitute for Protection. They asked for agricultural education, co-operation, the cheapening and the development, of the facilities for transport, aid in cattle and horse breeding, and Government aid in technical education. That is what they asked for. It has been a complete triumph throughout the whole of that country. Not only that, but the communities which demanded and relied upon Protection have-not flourished. They have decayed. The farming community who preferred this method of Free Trade prospered year after year, until they have become the most 965 prosperous little farming community in the world. Denmark to-day, a country without any great industries except agriculture—which is Free Trade—a country without any great mineral resources, and a country which not so very long ago was devastated by war, has become the second country in the world so far as wealth is concerned, owing entirely to its intelligent use of Free Trade assistance for agriculture. And this system—[Interruption.] Now, really, hon. Members might give me an opportunity of just stating my case. They have been criticising very freely, and I do not object, but they must allow me to answer. This is the system which has been the making of Denmark. It has not merely made the country prosperous, but it has increased the people's intelligence, and made them a stronger and a more self-reliant race. Look at the Report of the Scottish Commission which went to Denmark. The one thing they dwelt upon was the intelligence and self-reliance which have been promoted as a result of this system which we have embodied in this Bill—this system which, according to the Noble Lord in the rather melodramatic peroration with which he concluded his speech, is going to destroy the national character of this country, and depose us from our pride of place amongst the civilised Powers of the world! This is the language of wild, extravagant denunciation. Does it really become the Noble Lord He has lost his sense of proportion altogether in examining the Bill. But it is all entirely due to the fact that he is criticising without the slightest knowledge of what has been done in other countries. I am perfectly certain, if he had even spent an half-hour in reading reports, which he could have got from the Library, of responsible Commissioners that examined similar systems in other parts of the world, he would never have given to this House the speech that he has given to it to-day. Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin). His general attitude was very friendly on the second reading of the Budget. I am afraid it has become considerably less favourable. He was so pleased with the idea on the second reading of the Budget that he forgot to denounce the Budget. He was so filled with the idea of the development and assistance to the agriculture of this country that he reserved his denunciation of the Budget to his peroration.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman regarded the aid to agriculture as far and away the most important part of the subject, and left to his peroration—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman did use some very strong adjectives, but he spent the most of his speech in commending the proposals which we are embodying in this Bill. But, so far as I can see, the only practical objection of the right hon. Gentleman, apart from the motor roads—which I am coming to by and by—was to the compulsory powers. What did the right hon. Gentleman say about compulsory powers? He said, Why should you not treat them as you treat the railways—
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I am very sorry, but really the right hon. Gentleman is gravely misrepresenting me. I was speaking, when I referred to the railways, of the want of precautions being taken for the safety of these motor roads. That had nothing whatever to do with agriculture. I contrasted the different procedure by which the railways were made under Acts of Parliament and the total want of safeguards that appear in the new proposals of the Bill so far as the safety of the public is concerned with regard to motor roads.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
If the right hon. Gentleman tells me that he was not referring to compulsory powers, I have nothing more to say on that point. I come now to the different parts of the Bill. The first part is the development part—not merely to assist agriculture, but afforestation and other industries. We are simply proposing to do here what has already been done with success in pretty nearly every civilised country in the world. So far from our being deposed from our pride of place amongst the civilised nations of the world, we shall be simply taking a seat amongst them—these Free Trade countries as well as Tariff countries. France is spending a considerable amount of money aiding agriculture. The United States of America, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, and the Colonies—there is hardly a civilised country in the world that does not spend infinitely more than we propose. The United States spends three times as much on agriculture as we do. I am well within the mark when I say three times. Canada undoubtedly does. Take Denmark. If we spent in proportion to the population what is spent in Denmark in assisting agriculture, it 967 would be very nearly £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year. Denmark's expenditure has been an unmistakable success. The sums which we are spending in aiding agriculture in this country are perfectly insignificant; I might even say ludicrous. I do say so. Compared with the wealth of the country, the number of the population dependent upon agriculture, the special difficulties of agriculture, I say that the amount spent compared with other countries is perfectly ludicrous. There have been constant demands on the Government for assistance in agriculture, for assistance in horse breeding and cattle raising. I am speaking within the experience of other Chancellors of the Exchequer, and not giving away any Cabinet secrets, I think, when I say that from time to time requests have come for aid. I should not be a bit surprised if the right lion. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) in his time has not pressed upon his colleague (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) the desirability of spending money for aiding agriculture. [An Hon. MEMBER: "The Agricultural Rates Act."] I am not merely referring to that. My own opinion is that if those two millions had been spent on agricultural development the landlords themselves would have been better off. I have not the faintest doubt about that. I have been rather drawn away by the hon. and learned Gentleman's interjection, but I am sure the right hon. Gentleman's interposition on behalf of agriculture would not be confined to one thing. All I propose to do is this—to systematise, coordinate, and organise all these various aids so as to make them effective and real for the purpose to which we are giving the money. I am perfectly certain that is the best way to do it. I am sure it will be a real benefit to the agricultural community of this country. I think the Noble Lord (Lord E. Cecil) rather jibed, or was it the Noble Lord for one of the divisions of Birmingham (Viscount Morpeth), at one of our proposals, the improvement of rural transport. I cannot conceive a more important matter than that. What does it mean? The market is everything. I remember perfectly well when I was at the Board of Trade that I had constant complaints from the agricultural community that produce came from France, Denmark, the Channel Isles, and elsewhere, and passed their very doors; it travelled by sea hundreds of miles, and scores of miles from the sea coast to that particular spot, 968 to the great markets of this country at half the rates they were paying for one-fourth or one-fifth of the distance. I considered the matter very carefully at that time with the aid of the officials of the Board of Trade, and I came to the conclusion that there was a great justificiation for the complaint of the agricultural community. How can that possibly compete? There is no reason in the climate or soil of Denmark, or in the intelligence of the farming community of Denmark, why they should be able to place in the market their commodities at a lower rate than the agricultural community of this country.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I agree, but cooperation was part of the great scheme of agricultural regeneration; and it is an essential part of the scheme, too. But cooperation to be successful has got to be organised on a system, and, of course, there is this much to be said as well—and I am not for a moment criticising Denmark—there is not the same interest in cooperation among those who are tenant farmers as among those who are peasant proprietors. One reason for that is there is a suspicion on the part of the farmer that if he dealt with large quantities of milk and butter and produce co-operatively and brought them into the market the information would reach his landlord or his agent, and might have some effect upon his rent. That is the case in Denmark. I am not suggesting that it would be here. Undoubtedly the agricultural community are very suspicious indeed, and there is a fear of that kind which is gradually wearing off, and in some districts where co-operation has been tried the suspicions of the agricultural community have been found to be quite unjustified. The landlords have not taken advantage of information of that kind. I believe gradually that confidence is given, and if there is a real systematic effort made from outside to organise co-operation I believe this country will begin to realise that the only way of competing with other countries like Denmark and Belgium and Brittany is by such a system of co-operation, coupled with great improvements in the transportation arrangements of this country. I have had to deal with these matters at the Board of Trade; and with regard to light railways, for instance, there are several parts of the country where light railways are needed, but where there is no rich man who will undertake the work. The landlords may be poor, the tenant 969 farmers cannot find the money, and there is no great capitalist to come forward with money for the purposes of development. It is just as essential for the development of these districts as making a road. The community never ask when money is raised for a road whether it is going to pay 1, 2, 3, or 4 per cent. They see it is necessary for the opening up of that part of the country and to provide facilities there, and the same thing applies to other forms of transport that will enable people to bring their goods into the market, and for that reason I put in the forefront of the Bill the improvement of transport for the poorer and more thinly populated parts of the country. We want the people to stay on the land instead of crowding into the large towns and cities. In Denmark the agricultural population has increased since these experiments. A healthy, strong, agricultural community, highly developed and intelligent, has resulted from 15 or 20 years of a system of this kind—a system which, by this Bill, we hope to do something to create in this country. For that reason I strongly urge upon the House of Commons to assist us in carrying this Bill through, and carrying it this Session. Why should it be put off? If the House approves of the Bill, why put it off? The Noble Lord the Member for South Birmingham does not want small holdings in Edgbaston.
§ Viscount MORPETH
As the right hon. Gentleman has pointedly addressed his remarks to me, may I say I asked a serious question, to which I have had no reply except jokes—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
rose, and both the right hon. Gentleman and Lord Morpeth remained standing, amid cries of "Order, order."
§ Viscount MORPETH
The right hon. Gentleman addressed himself to me, and, therefore, I put this question to him once more. We have already got one Act which deals with small holdings; I asked the right hon. Gentleman how does he propose to deal with the alternative proposals in this Bill? How is he going to allocate the work between the Treasury and the Board of Agriculture?
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Really, Mr. Speaker, I must say that this is an interruption that I do not think should have been tolerated—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman made a remark which was somewhat of an offensive character, referring to the Noble Lord. Surely he has a right to interpose.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I submit, with deference, that it had nothing whatever to do with this part of my speech. The Noble Lord asks a question about some other part of the Bill, which has nothing to do with what I was saying. If the Noble Lord thinks there is anything offensive—and I doubt whether he did, I was purely "chaffing" him on the fact of his being a town Member, and I do not think he is so sensitive—but if he does I am sorry that I should have offended you, Sir, by making that reference to the Noble Lord.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There is no offence to me whatever. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to small holdings in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, and small holdings was one of the points which the Noble Lord the Member for Birmingham had referred to. I thought he was going to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer relative on that very point.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I have no more to say about that. With regard to the question of the Noble Lord, I had no intention of being offensive to him, but his question had nothing whatever to do with the part of the Bill with which I was then dealing. I should be perfectly willing to answer him in due course. Let me proceed to the part of the Bill with which I was dealing. I was submitting that this was a proposal which, if it commends itself, in principle, to the majority of the Members of this House, ought not to be postponed for another year. If it is a desirable thing to be done in the interests of agriculture, why put it off? I cannot conceive why hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who represent agricultural constituencies should undertake to cast their influence in favour of postponing it unless they have some motives beyond anything shown in this Debate. It is a question which has been urged upon Parliament for years and years. These are no new ideas. The only difference is we put them into a Bill and find the money for them.
Now with regard to the second part of the Bill, the proposals in regard to motor cars have been treated as if they were proposals for making new motor roads; as if I was raising £600,000 purely for the 971 purpose of making new motor roads, whereas that is purely subsidiary, purely incidental, purely supplemental. As the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) pointed out, that was not the order in which I put them when I first spoke of them in the Budget, but it is purely a drafting order; there is no change in the intention or policy of the Government. The idea of the Government is that the money in the first instance should be used for the purpose of improving the roads. My hon. Friend the Member for Leith said this will have the effect of increasing the cost. I do not agree with my hon. Friend, and I will tell him why. As far as the part of the country is concerned where there is considerable motor traffic at the present moment, these things are done by the local authorities now. They spend enormous sums of money in making roads dustless, sometimes in widening them, sometimes in improving them. In these districts this grant will be a grant in aid. Where money is spent upon improving roads that expenditure which will be incurred in some cases will be new expenditure, but it will not be the case where money is spent in parts of the country at this moment in improving motor facilities. Therefore, I do not think my hon. Friend is quite right, in fact I am sure he is wrong in saying that this will increase the burden upon the ratepayers. It will be a very substantial assistance to those very heavily burdened communities where the rates have gone up by leaps and bounds in the last few years, purely and simply to meet the expenditure on motor roads. As far as that part of the Bill is concerned, I think it would be a very considerable relief to the ratepayers, although the money will be spent for improving the roads for motor purposes.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Would the right hon. Gentleman say what the proportion of the expenditure in each of the different countries will be?
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
That I shall deal with in regard to both parts of the Bill, and I will undertake before I sit down to deal with it. It affects the first part relating to the development, and the second part relating to the motor roads. I shall proceed now to deal with the proposals with regard to new roads. What were the proposals I put before the Committee when I made my Budget speech? They were that not merely should you spend money upon increasing facilities, but you should 972 also do something towards increasing the safety of the public. Many serious accidents have happened during the last few months, showing how urgently necessary it is that something of this kind should be done. I suggested that where roads were dangerously narrow they might be widened, where they were tortuous they ought to be straightened, and that in connection with villages in which motor traffic at the present moment was a source of danger, more especially to the children, there sh6uld be power to construct new routes round these villages. The very considerable number of accidents to little children is a sad and a dark list, and I do not think it is too much to ask the motor community to contribute something towards preserving the lives of these little children whose only playground very often is the roadside. It is all very well to talk about the village green, but there are very many villages, including the one in which I was brought up, in which there is nowhere to play except along the roadside. The moment we left that we were trespassers. You get motors rushing at great speed through these villages, and to-day, with all the protection, with all the organised system of warning by the police, accidents happen, and will happen; and as the motor traffic increases the danger becomes all the greater. I propose that power should be given when necessary to construct and make new roads. There are many villages and groups of villages where it is desirable that there should be this power to construct new roads, and you cannot do it without having these powers. It is not merely the power to considerably expand or widen roads, but the power of constructing an absolutely new road between two points. That is one reason why we want these powers in the Bill. I know districts in this country where possibly a connecting road of that kind might extend for 20 or 30 miles where motorists as well as the public using the road would be very glad if there were a connection of this kind made. Many of these roads pass through very crowded and thickly populated areas, and these proposals are made for the safety of the public, and I justify them on that ground. Hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have criticised very severely this idea of new roads. Have they any idea who proposed them in the first place? Why the first proposal came from the Leader of the Opposition, and this is what he said on 15th February, 1901: "What I should like to see carefully thought out by a competent 973 authority would be a system of radiating roads confined to rapid speed, say of 15 miles or over, with a service not for carts or horses, but for autocar purposes."
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The 15 miles is not in reference to the length of the roads, but purely in reference to the speed limit, because that was regarded at the time as a very considerable speed. But it does not really matter whether it was in London or elsewhere. London is not the only thickly populated area, and if it is necessary to make a new motor road for the exigencies of London traffic, it may be equally necessary to construct similar roads for Liverpool, Manchester, Dublin, Glasgow, or any other part of the United Kingdom. I am simply stating that the Leader of the Opposition made an authoritative declaration as to the desirability of making these new roads for motor traffic, and I am not quite sure whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin (Mr. Walter Long) did not make a similar declaration.[An HON. MEMBER: "He did."] On the Committee which inquired into this subject, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, I know he declared that he was in favour of new roads, so that this is not an original idea which has emanated from my own brain, but it has emanated from the Front Opposition Bench, and it is my good fortune to put that idea into operation. So much for this question of the motor roads. With regard to the question put to me by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy), my proposal is that the money should be "pooled," and that there should be no particular allocation as between 'the different parts of the country in Ireland, England, Scotland, or Wales. I ask the hon. and learned Member before he commits himself—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
This money will be spent according to the needs of the district. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro Fer- 974 guson) that the success of this scheme will depend entirely upon the character of the committees set up. If you set up an irresponsible committee which will have a purely political complexion I agree it may be an instrument of political corruption. But that applies to every form of expenditure. It does not matter what the expenditure is if the body that spends the money is a purely partisan one, tainted with political corruption, everything that emanates from it will be corrupt, and the success of this scheme will depend upon getting men who will command the confidence, not merely of one section of the community, or one party, but men who will command the confidence of the nation, who will be above any suspicion, I will not say of corruption, but of any unfair dealing or any improper bias. I agree that the whole success of this scheme will stand or fall by the men you choose for the purpose of administering these two funds. But there are plenty of men of that kind in this country. The Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone talks as if we are all divided on both sides in politics into a sort of rampant politicians simply anxious for loot, bribery, or blackmail. Not at all. Thank heaven there are plenty of thoroughly upright, straightforward men in this country who can be depended upon to do their duty without any thought of corruption on both sides. It must be a body to command the confidence of both sides, otherwise it will be a machine of political corruption. Take as an illustration the case of light railways. The Light Railways Commission was a Committee which really had the dispensation of a very considerable amount of money, and a great deal depended upon whether they approved or rejected a scheme.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I have never heard a suggestion that the Light Railways Commissioners have not administered their funds with the most scrupulous impartiality, and so much is that so that for the last year or two there has never been a Debate in this* House in regard to their administration. I do not know how many Commissioners there are, but I think there are four or five.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Then there are only three, and I think they are above suspicion of corruption. I do not agree with what has been said about the corruption of 975 the democracy. Have you never heard of a corrupt autocracy? In this case you have a check upon them in the shape of the Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Yes, because the scheme must first of all go before the Advisory Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) were here I think he would bear me out in what I say, because he knows perfectly well that a committee of this kind is a guarantee and a safeguard, and something which the Treasury can fall back upon when there is political pressure. At the present time all this money can be spent without the interposition of an Advisory Committee, and there is all kinds of political pressure now from many quarters demanding the money, but there is no Advisory Committee to fall back upon consisting of men of standing, whose names will command not only the confidence of the House but the confidence of the country as a whole. What I have said applies to every part of the scheme, and it does not matter what it is, whether it is in regard to agricultural development or small holdings. In all these cases you will have the same protection. If you are going to have works of reclamation, of course you want the power to convert the land into small holdings. Even in regard to great schemes of afforestation you will want similar powers. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs on this point. I stated in my Budget speech that the first thing to do in regard to afforestation is to have experiments in order to see what can be done and what cannot be done in this country. For these reasons I commend this scheme to the House as a whole, subject to the examination of its details. I do not deprecate the examination of details, and a good deal of criticism has been devoted to them. All these details will be examined thoroughly, I hope, by the Committee upstairs by men who take a special interest in those matters. There may be parts of this scheme that will not commend themselves to the Committee in every detail. That part in regard to special motor roads I admit will require very special consideration, not only in the interests of motorists but also in the interests of the public. Subject to these considerations I entreat the House of Commons to take the view that this Bill represents a scheme, the carrying out of which has been too long 976 delayed. A scheme of this kind ought to have been started years ago, and if that had been done it would have made an enormous difference in the rural district of this country. I believe such a scheme would have conduced enormously to the prosperity of the rural districts, and it would have kept engaged in a useful, profitable, and remunerative employment a vast number of people who have crowded into our towns. It is because I regard this as a reform which has been too long delayed that I urge the House of Commons, not merely to give this Bill a. second reading now, but to help me to get it through this year.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
In no portion of his speech has the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with the real matters raised by this Bill. He has spent a long time criticising speeches which have gone before, but he has not dealt with the machinery of this measure. All he has said on this point is that he wishes to systematise and co-ordinate the methods of giving, grants of this kind. I wish to recall the attention of the House to the speeches, which preceded that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered by hon. Members who are supporters of the Government. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire felt a doubt as to whether my Noble Friends behind me were serious in their opposition to this Bill. He indulged in all sorts of poetic aspirations about the future of the Bill. It was the apotheosis of all previous patriotic endeavours in this same direction, but the hon. Baronet before he sat down had descended from poetry to very commonplace prose and showed us he had business in; hand, and what he desired to see as the fruit of this Bill was what would specially suit his own constituency. In that the three supporters of the right hon. Gentleman absolutely agreed. The hon. Member for Leith told us he would not be satisfied if the principal part of any money available was not in the first, place given to sylviculture, in which he is especially interested.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Does the hon. Member for Leith think that we in the present disorganised state of the Scottish Members are likely to compete with the representatives of Ireland?
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I never heard that Scotchmen were less successful in getting money than Irishmen.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I think the hon. Member's experience has been sadly at fault. I could point to many instances where my country has suffered greatly as compared with the country which has the powerful advocacy of the hon. Member below the Gangway. Some day I may expect our country will be dealt with with equal justice when I see in the face of the whole House the Whip going to the leader of that shadowy thing, the Scottish Committee, and receiving his acquiescence in the terms of surrender the Government make. We have no such organisation in Scotland as they have in Ireland, and we usually suffer. I am not going to occupy the House more than I can possibly help, and I shall not deal with the second part of the Bill. Speaking as a humble member of the general public who uses the road, I would welcome anything that would relieve us of the presence of those less considerate motorists, but I should have thought that the justice of the case demanded that we should not be taxed in order to recover the legitimate use of our roads. The burden should not fall so heavily as it really will upon the ratepayers of the different districts. We have been taunted with the fact that we are resisting a popular proposition. It is not the first time we have been taunted with taking up such a position, and it will not be the last time if we act according to our consciences. I know perfectly well that, under this Bill and with this Government, however much it was the touchstone and first maxim of the Liberal party from the days of Burke and Gladstone, that economy has now for the moment disappeared. We must remember two things when we vote these lavish grants. First, the last thing we think of is where the money is to come from; secondly, a period of lavish expenditure is very apt to be succeeded by a reaction towards economy. I am not in the least afraid of acting in face of the general tendency towards lavish expenditure. I do not think it is justified. We are not going to be accused of setting ourselves in defiance of these grants for the economical development of the country. That is no part of our position. There is no one more ready than I am to see a further development of agriculture and education and more done for the development of scientific agriculture; not only that, but I am ready to give much, and it may be generous grants, to meet particular economical difficulties in different parts of the country. But how does this Bill help us in that direction? Do hon. 978 Members know that we are at the present moment paying lavish and increasing: grants for agricultural education in this country?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The hon. and learned Member can see by looking up the Estimates. There was not a single grant given 15 or 16 years ago to an agricultural school or college in the country; within ten years the grant, which I myself distributed up to five years ago, amounted to several thousands a year in Scotland alone. If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to increase those grants, he can easily do so without any statutory powers, but he would then do so open to definite and well-defined laws which cannot possibly be altered by any whimsical and arbitrary arrangements set up to suit particular ideas. We are ready to advocate an increased generosity towards agricultural education, and to increase the grants devised to meet special economic exigencies which may arise in different parts of the country as rapidly and as satisfactorily as possible; but are we to be told that we are to disregard economy altogether and with open arms to receive any sort of fad that any man in any part of the country may press upon us? May this not go a little too far I Let us look for a moment at what are the real objects defined in the Bill. It seems to me far more difficult to find anything that is not included in the Bill than to find what is included. There is scarcely anything which you absolutely exclude from the first section of the Bill. Let us look at some of them—experiments, inquiries, and research. There is already a grant made for research. I wonder what the right hon. Gentleman's Advisory Committee will have to say upon this subject? I will give the House an instance which came to my own knowledge. There is a sum already paid for agricultural research, and it is administered by the Board of Agriculture.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
You can hardly expect me to give an account of each particular grant. It is very easily found, and, if it is not enough, it can be increased with the assent of the right hon. Gentleman without any Bill. I am going to give what is rather an instructive instance. A scientific investigator has for many years received a sum from that grant. It appears now that the scientific advisers of the Noble 979 Lord who is at the head of the Board of Agriculture (Earl Carrington) differ with this scientific gentleman, and doubt his methods, although I understand he has the support of several scientists in Germany of the very first position. They have cut him off from this grant. Who is to decide between them? The Noble Lord who now presides over the Board of Agriculture has, I suppose, from a fund of scientific knowledge decided against this investigator. Would not that occur with your Advisory Committee? Would not complaints be rife and be heard of from every man who had an idea, however wise or however sane it might be? Are we to prejudge the case, and to say, "No, your idea, before we look at it at all, is absurd, and we cannot give you anything out of these funds, however lavish they are?" Are we, on the other hand, to accept any man, however strange his ideas may be, and say to him, "Everyone is free to come and make his experiments. You carry on your researches and we will aid you"? We used to hear in the days of Pre-union German of one of those small states in which the inhabitants earned their livelihood by what they could make by taking in one another's washing. Is the idea of this Government a state in which the whole of the inhabitants of the country are taxed boundlessly in order to carry out, without any restriction or any sense of economy, the prosecution of one another's fads? There must be an end to this, and the end, I say, is to be found by laying down definitely and strictly in statute and by regulation the conditions under which you an earn the grant and conditions by fulfilling which you are entitled to earn it, and not by saying to everybody, "Come, here is the money, make your claim upon it, and as far as that money goes we shall use it." Is it not perfectly certain that the strength of the importunity and the force with which that importunity is defended will be the deciding power? The last consideration which will arise will be the drawing in of the general grants altogether. Anyone who is acquainted with the Administration of late years can give instances of this sort of grant. The first of these grants made, not according to Statute law or according to regulations previously laid down, but at the arbitrary will of the Government, was the grant for University Colleges throughout England. That grant, I think, was instituted about the year 1893. It wan about £15,000. It is now six or 980 seven times more than that amount. My own country has got nothing but a mere pittance, in spite of my remonstrances. More than a year or two after the grant was established it was found that the arbitrary condition which many of us thought so unjust was attached to it, and one well known college in London (King's College) was excluded from the distribution of the grant because it happened to have connection with a particular section of the Church. The House of Commons discussed that educational grant for many weeks and months, and failed to come to a solution of the difficulty, but ultimately, without the consent of Parliament being asked, a settlement was effected by the Treasury. There are other cases which have some analogy. We have lately had grants paid from the Local Taxation Account which were of very doubtful expediency. I can tell that from my own experience, as an educational administrator. It is all very well to lay down by Act of Parliament conditions under which a school can earn a grant, but it is a very different thing when you come to distribute a sum of £150,000 or £200,000 among local authorities. I have had over and over again a sum of £100,000 or £150,000 out of the Local Taxation Account thrown at my head, and I have been told to frame the best scheme possible for spending it. There is only one other point in the Bill to which I will refer, and that is Sub-section (3) of Clause 2, which provides for the submission of the accounts of these Advisory Boards to auditorship. What is the Controller and Auditor-Generalship? We know the meaning is that every payment made by a State Department is subject to his criticism, but the questions between the Controller and Auditor-General and the accountants of each Department—I can say, speaking from 20 years experience—are purely legal questions, and if the distribution of this vast sum is to be made according to the dictates of the Advisory Committee, I should like to know what power the Controller and Auditor-General will have in the matter? He will have nothing like the power he at present possesses in regard to ordinary State Departments, and, however specious it may be, however much it may seem to give a guarantee, it is really dispensing with the ordinary guarantee. In conclusion I will only ask the House to remember that the points for which they are now making themselves responsible are by no means limited by anything which is within the four corners of this 981 Bill. The Bill bears just as little proportion to the enormous expenditure which will hereafter fall on the State by its means and by its development as the mere pittance to be derived at once from land taxation bears to the ultimate anticipated revenue. A suggestion has been thrown out that the distribution may be affected Ly pressure from those who hope to benefit. As to this the right hon. Gentleman says, and says with perfect truth, there is no aspersion on the honour of the Administration. I have no idea of making any such aspersion. The standard of character of British statesmen on both sides is too high to make us doubt that they will do it to the best of their ability. The standard also amongst the Civil servants of the country is equally high. But the right hon. Gentleman may remember the words of Shakespeare:How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Makes ill deeds done!You may depend upon it you will inflict injury upon that administration, you will place temptations before it which you have no right to place in front of it, and you will thereby corrupt the channels of political life in this country.
§ Mr. G. N. BARNES
I desire to offer a cordial welcome to this Bill, and to say that I, for my part, shall vote for it, and support it in all its stages through the House. It has not escaped my observation that diverse views had been put forward with regard to it on the Benches above the Gangway. From the top Bench we have had determined and, I cannot help thinking, unreasoning opposition. Further down we have had critical examination of the Bill, and from the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench we have had an expression of benevolent neutrality. As far as the object of the Bill is concerned he has indicated his willingness to get that object carried out some time. It seems to me there is a sufficiently urgent reason why we should proceed with this Bill at this time, and I hope it will be proceeded with. The object of the Bill, although covered up by a great deal of technical examination, especially from the last speaker, is fairly obvious. It is to get a better use made of the national resources of the country, and to give a fuller control by the people of their own lives. That is a sufficiently laudable object to secure the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House. The Bill does not seem to me to be in any way a heroic measure. The money it takes is very 982 small as compared with the amount risked to wipe up the mess of Irish landlordism, or to build "Dreadnoughts,1 or for less worthy objects. The Bill seems to me to be a small tentative measure for the application of a principle which has been too long delayed. I believe it commits the Government and future Governments to what I think is a satisfactory departure in British politics. Hitherto private enterprise has been allowed to muddle along in all branches of industrial activity, and the people have had to suffer. Hitherto owners have had absolute power to say what national resources shall be used, how they shall be used, and whether they shall be used at all. It seems to me also that profit and immediate profit has been the determining factor in the situation, and inasmuch as there has been no immediate profit in afforestry, in the reclamation of waste land, or in the reclamation of foreshores, in imparting knowledge as to proper distribution of agricultural produce and other industrial education, these things have been left severely alone. We have had the land going out of cultivation. We have had it waterlogged, we have had our shores eaten away, we have had the peasantry supplanted by game, deer forests, and other reserves for sport, and all the time that has been taking place hundreds of our people have been kept compulsorily idle, and have been cooped up in the slums of our large cities from one end of the country to the other. As I understand this Bill, its main object is to bring the workless and landless people into conjunction with the land, and for my part I believe that to be a perfectly laudable object. I was not at all surprised to hear the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone describe the measure as Socialistic. I would not have been surprised had he also said it was Revolutionary. No doubt we shall hear that word before the night is out. Nor would I have been surprised to hear these proposals described as confiscatory. I am not at all concerned whether it is Socialism or not. It may be, or it may not be, but I am going to vote for this Bill, not because of the Socialism which there is in it, if there is any, but because it is plain common-sense. It recognises that certain things ought to be done, and that nobody is doing them, and that, therefore, the State should set about carrying them out. That seems to me to be right down plain, honest, common-sense, and, after all, when you come to think of it. Socialism—as it 983 has previously been regarded—is that which attempts to enter into a domain which had been regarded as the exclusive domain of private enterprise. Any legislation as to the working hours of working people, the sanitation of factories, or the protection of the worker's health, any of these things may be called Socialistic, but there is this to be said for this Bill, that it does not propose to enter into competition with private enterprise, but merely proposes to take the leavings of private enterprise. It sees that private enterprise has not done certain things and it proposes to do them, but it does not set up factories to make and distribute commodities in competition with other people who are distributing them.
I do not say that may not come, and, if it does come, then I make bold to say people will be surprised that it has not been done before; but, this Bill does not do it. It leaves these things to be done by private enterprise, in so far as they are at present doing them at all, but it recognises that there are certain things which private enterprise either cannot, or will not do, and the Bill, therefore, sensibly proposes that the State should step in and do what private enterprise has not done. I venture to say that, instead of that being Socialistic, from one point of view, instead of that cutting into the domain of private capital, for my part I believe it will help private enterprise, because it will open up the resources of the country to a much larger extent than has previously been the case, and, by increasing the spending capacity of the people, actually increase the area of investment and do good, not only for the workpeople, but for other people as well. As far as I can see, it proposes to take over land which has not previously been used, and to take it over without any additional cost or disturbance, or the unnecessary expense of litigation, and it proposes that the profit accruing therefrom shall go to the Treasury. The Noble Lord said he objected to that because of the method by which it was carried out. I cannot help thanking that he objects to the thing itself, and it is that which disturbs him rather than the method, and, inasmuch as I am in favour of the thing itself, regarding the method by which it is carried out as a secondary consideration. I am inclined to vote for the thing itself being carried out and leaving the method to the Committee stage. Further, I welcome this Bill as a contribution to the solution of the problem 984 of unemployment, and I welcome the declaration contained in the general provisions of the Bill that in carrying out, or sanctioning the carrying out, of works regard should be had to the condition of the labour market at the time.
I believe that this is the first real attempt that has been made to deal with unemployment on the lines of what might be called organic change. Hitherto, unemployment has been dealt with by the provision of relief works, and I am afraid that many of them have been costly, uneconomic, and wasteful, while some of them may even be said to have been demoralising. This Bill, however, unlike previous efforts to deal with unemployment, deals with it not only in its effect but its cause. It aims at preventing fluctuations and organising industrial activity in such a way as to prevent those fluctuations taking place. In other words, it does not only propose to deal with sores upon the surface, but it proposes to prevent new sores breaking out, and for my part I am glad of that, because I am sick and tired of dealing with unemployed workmen as if they were merely pariahs and outcasts or dealing with them in a molly coddling sort of way, and giving them grants. I am glad that the time will come when we shall deal with the unemployed workmen with the view of absorbing them into the civilised community on terms of equality of citizenship. Another feature of the Bill which seems to me to be satisfactory is that provision is made in regard to dealing with the stock on small holdings in the country. I know nothing of the breeding of horses and cattle, but, apart altogether from that, I believe there is great scope for the improvement of poultry and dairy produce and so forth, and I regretted to hear general hilarity on the benches above the Gangway when an hon. Member spoke of the need there was for the improvement of small stock. It was a very great matter and one calculated to give people employment, and it is not a matter to be met by hilarity.
§ Mr. BARNES
As a matter of fact, a great deal might be done in the way of collecting eggs. I think the great experiment at Evesham has proved that there is an immense future for the small farm in this country. Forty years ago there were about 1,000 acres of land devoted in that district to small farming, and there has 985 been a constant increase since that time, until there are no less than 25,000 acres devoted to small farming, dairy produce, and so on; and that there is still immense scope for further development is proved by the fact that even in this matter of eggs, just mentioned by the hon. Member, if I remember aright, during that time the importation of eggs from foreign countries has risen from one million to eight millions last year. It is, therefore, obvious that, great as has been the increase in the Evesham district of people getting their living from small farms, there is still a great deal of room for small farms elsewhere. I believe that the same thing can be done elsewhere, but one of the difficulties in the way, I do not know whether it is the main difficulty, because I do not pose as an expert in this matter—I believe that one of the difficulties is the gathering up and disposing of the produce, and it is for that reason that I rejoice to see in this Bill provision made for the spending of money on education on this subject, so that people may be induced to educate themselves and become educated in some co-operative method of gathering up and disposing of the produce as it ought to be gathered up and disposed of. I was reading a book recently by J. R. Pratt on this very matter, and he said that it has already been at all events satisfactorily dealt with to some extent in Denmark, Holland, and Germany, and that, as a result, the produce of those countries from small farms is gathered up co-operatively and actually sent in to Glasgow in immense consignments, no less than 50-ton lots alone coming to Glasgow every day, and Denmark and Holland send immense quantities of other produce, and while that is going on our own fruit and flowers and vegetables and garden produce generally are actually rotting because it will not pay to take them to market. It will pay us just as well to take them to market as it pays the Dutchman, the German, and the Dane to send theirs to market. I was reading the evidence of Sir George Gibb before the Departmental Committee on Rates. He says the North-Eastern Railway Company three or four years ago disposed of 269,000 tons of foreign produce, and got that foreign produce from two centres only—Hull and Newcastle—whereas 265,000 tons of English produce carried over the same railway over the same time actually had to be gathered up from no fewer than 467 points on that same railway. It is quite obvious 986 that our own people are suffering terrible disadvantage as compared with the Denmark people and the Dutch, who have been trained by the same methods as are proposed under this Bill. It is because this Bill will do something to rectify that grievance that I support it. I believe there is only one way of doing it. Voluntary agency has done something at Evesham, and to some extent in Ireland, but it can only be done in an effectual way over the whole ground through the agency of a Government Department.
There is one defect in the Bill, if it is a defect. Provision is made in the first part of the Bill for the lending of money, and certain Departments are mentioned. Money can be lent either to or through the Fisheries Board or the Agricultural Board and the various local authorities, but nothing is said as to helping small people to get small holdings. It seems to me that is a serious defect in all the Bills which have been adopted in this House up till now, and until it is dealt with these Bills will remain largely dead letters. I remember making myself acquainted with the conditions in Scotland immediately after the passing of the Bill two or three years ago, which was rejected by the House of Lords. I was irritated when it was rejected, but I was considerably mollified when I went to Scotland and got into actual contact with small farmers and agricultural labourers, because I found that, even had it passed, an infinitesimal number of men there would have been able to take advantage of its terms. How can it be otherwise? Agricultural labourers' wages are nicely adjusted to the standard of living. They have no margin for saving, and these Bills which are passed for setting up small holdings must remain a dead letter so long as we do not have credit banks or somehow or another make provision to help the small man to get a farm. I hope this Bill may make some provision yet, either by the utilisation of voluntary agency—the encouragement of cooperative societies to lend their own money—and by making proper arrangements between the co-operative societies and the Treasury, or else by direct relationship being set up as between the Treasury and the agricultural labourer. At all events, I hope something will be done through the agency of this Bill to give people a start on small holdings, and that, it seems to me, is one of the most important things which could be done.
987 Another defect I notice in the Bill is that no provision is made as a security against monopolists coming in and collaring all the advantage. Provision is made for the construction and improvement of harbours and canals and railways, and so on; but I have in my mind that we have already a good many canals in this country which have been deliberately choked up because it suited the interests of the railway companies to choke them up. We have a good many harbours and docks in this country which have been served in exactly the same way. When public money is used to construct docks and canals I hope the heavy hand of the Government will be brought down upon the railway companies feeding these particular areas to see to it that they play fair and square with the public. I have only one word to say about the Road Board. I do not know much about motors and the speed limit, but I am glad to know this Road Board is to be set up for the use of motors. I believe motors have come to stay, and, on the whole, a good job too. My mind goes back to the old days in London 20 to 30 years ago, when we had scores of little, greasy, dirty stables, where the men were working under miserable conditions, attending to the horses, and I cannot help comparing these old miserable conditions with the trim men who are now kept in garages looking after the motors. Motors are not popular, for two reasons—the irregularity and narrowness of our roads and the recklessness with which the motors are driven. Recklessness, after all, is a matter which cannot be dealt with by Act of Parliament, and, after all, it carries with it certain other characteristics of pluck and courage, and sometimes sacrifice, that, on the whole, are good things; but I am glad to know that provision is to be made for motors by special roads skirting villages, and, where necessary, making longer tracks. I hope, however, that these roads are not going to be devoted exclusively to what might be called pleasure motors. I can see the time coming when the industrial motor is to be a large feature in our life, and I hope and trust that provision will be made by these roads, not only for the pleasure, but for the industrial motor as well; and I can see the time coming when provision will have to be made for the public ownership of the land skirting these roads. I can see the time coming when there will be manufactories on the sides of the roads, and it seems to me that there 988 ought to be some provision made for the generation of electric current or mond gas to supply motor power to these factories skirting the roads. At all events, I hope the Road Board will pass as a feature of the Bill, and, on behalf of the Labour party, we shall give the Bill our steady and consistent support. It is not a Bill which will open up a new heaven and a new earth. No Bill or number of Bills will do that. But this Bill, in conjunction with other Bills on the political stocks, will do a great deal to make life more tolerable amongst us. We have now the Labour Exchanges Bill, which will register the unemployed and locate them, and through this Bill I hope these Labour Exchanges will be brought into use, and. that we shall find a good deal of the labour now unemployed given profitable and useful employment. Next year, of course, we shall have insurance against unemployment, whereby the men still left idle will at all events have the wolf kept from the door while they are unemployed, and their purchasing power increased at a time when it will be of the greatest value. We shall give to this Bill our support, because we believe that in it and measures of this character is to be found a means of better organising the industries of this country, including agriculture, and of extending the power and the freedom of the common people who are engaged in them.
§ Sir FRANCIS POWELL
I hope I may be permitted to express regret that the Government in this measure have departed from what I believe to be an established usage. The Bill is not backed by the representative of any Department apart from the Treasury, and it is not backed by more than one name. I think I am also justified in expressing regret that this discussion should take place so short a time after the presentation of the Bill. No doubt that presentation was accompanied by a Memorandum, but it appears to me, on a perusal of the Memorandum, that it is rather an amplification of the Bill than a document of an explanatory character, which can assist us in understanding the Bill itself. One thing which has struck me during the Debate is this. I think we have learned from what has taken place how short-lived an electioneering cry is. During the last years of the late Parliament we had on every Liberal platform the cry for popular control. There was no street in England where that cry was not displayed in print. But now we hear nothing of popular con- 989 trol. On the contrary, we hear of control of a very different character, namely, control by officials. I venture to suggest that the country will not submit to be ruled by officials. I believe that system does not belong to our Constitution as Englishmen. I am quite sure when these new officials begin to act they will do so in a manner contrary to the public feeling of England, and there will be a great uprising against them. We shall know by the most unmistakable tokens of public opinion that that rule will not be tolerated in this country. Let us see how this arbitrary power is constituted. We have an Advisory Committee, but we are not told how it is to be constituted. We do not know whether it is to be a large or small Committee. We do not even know whether there is to be one Committee or many Committees. All we know is that it is to be appointed by the Government of the day without any control whatsoever by the operation of the popular voice.
My complaint touches almost every line in the Bill, which gives enormous powers to the Treasury. Of course, when I speak of a Department and of the powers proposed to be conferred upon it, I must not be mistaken as implying any censure whatever upon the right hon. Gentleman who, for the time being, occupies the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. It remains a fact, however, that it is part of the Government's proposal that the Treasury is to have enormous and unprecedented powers under this Bill. The practice of Parliament for centuries has been that when powers are given dealing with any subject of public importance a Department should be constituted fully equipped by highly trained men—not trained in the general sense of officials but thoroughly trained in the business in hand, and thoroughly conversant with the affairs they are to administer. The Department having been constituted is subject to the control of the Treasury. In this case, however, the order is reversed. The Treasury is to give the order, and the Departments, so far as they can, are to carry it out. Although this is an important Bill involving the annual expenditure of a large sum of money, there is not a single Member of the Government now present. We hear sometimes of the respect which is due to the House of Commons, but I think we have here a practical illustration of dis-respect towards the House of Commons on the part of those who claim, but, as I think, wrongly claim, to be the representatives of the voters at this moment. We 990 find in the operative clause of this Bill that the Government Department which is to be created are to receive their orders from the Treasury. Seeing that the Treasury has no equipment for dealing with the business in hand, I wish to know whether there is to be a second set of officers appointed. I do not see how the business can be done in any other manner. Take for example afforestation. It is surely within the Department of Agriculture, and I am informed that the Board of Agriculture have already given considerable attention to this subject. They have men who are cognisant with it, and yet it is proposed that that work should be under the Treasury which has no equipment and no official knowledge of it whatever.
I come now to another branch of the subject. It is proposed to give to the Treasury power over a variety of subjects which I will not occupy the time of the House by enumerating. But it seems to me that in Sub-section (b) of Section (1) we have the Treasury given powers over the improvement of live stock, and also, strange to say, in reference to poultry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has to deal with a vast number of millions every year, is to regulate the instruction in poultry. Then there is a group of subjects which are surely within the province of the Board of Trade. There is the improvement of harbours and also the construction and improvement of canals. It appears to me that even if the ample powers which are proposed to be given in Section (1) were given to the Board of Trade they would be given more power than ought to be given to any Government Department. Because, be it remembered, all this time that this action of the Government must produce competition with private enterprise. I believe that public enterprise and private enterprise can never go hand-in-hand. The stronger corporation will undoubtedly destroy the weaker, although the weaker may in some respects be better equipped by long experience than the more powerful Government Department. Another point to which I desire to make some reference is as to finance. It seems to me, if I rightly interpret the Clause, that the financial arrangements under this Bill embodies air eminently reactionary proposal. In the early part of the last century there were separate funds for the Navy. There was a Naval Stock. I forget the exact title, but it was kept entirely separate. There was a separate loan, and its administration was distinguished from the other 991 branches of financial administration. There were two Exchequers, an Irish and an English, but in the early years of the last century this system of separate arrangements was abolished, and we had a Consolidated Fund.
Another point to which I desire to make some reference is that of the extreme hardship which is proposed to be inflicted under this Bill upon the existing owners of land. It seems to be thought that all the land of this country belongs to the wrong people, and that the desire is to pass the land from them on to somebody else. I do not see any guarantee that the new landowners will be in any degree superior to the present landowners, or that from past experience the country will have any reason to be grateful for the change it is proposed to make. It is proposed that in cases of compulsory sale landowners are to be paid only the exact value of the land. The whole expense of reinvestment and all the anxiety attending reinvestment, and all the details which arise during the transition period, are to be borne by the landlord. I say that this is most unjust and that the result will be disaster. When a man knows that his property may be taken away from him on these terms and by a most unsatisfactory tribunal I do not believe that he will pay the same attention to his affairs or to agriculture as he does at present, and I believe that agriculture in this country will seriously recede under this treatment. Another hardship which is proposed to be inflicted on these unhappy men is that the Government may buy the land and pay for it when they choose. It is a great hardship now, as we know from personal experience, that a railway company may come in at the expiration of the period which is commonly given by the Committee upstairs and ask for an extension to 14 years, and attention has been drawn to cases where seven-year terms were granted three times, and the unfortunate owner had to wait 21 years without any control over his property. Another point to which attention should be drawn is as regards arbitration. The arbitrator is a man in a high position who discharges very responsible functions, and it is most desirable that the man best qualified should be chosen. In this case the selection is to be left to the Lord Chief Justice as respects England. I should have thought a man of more business habits of life 992 should be chosen to make the selection. I do not see how the judge is to watch the arbitrator; I do not see how he is to be able to know in what manner his functions are exercised; but I do know this, that the judge who may give that appointment will be entirely beyond the control of Parliament, and however just his decisions may be, these judges will sometimes make an unfortunate appointment, and in such cases there is no remedy, no appeal whatever. One remark further about the appointment of the arbitrator: I do not think any judge ought to exercise any executive power outside his own court. I think this is a most dangerous innovation; I think it will injure the dignity of that high office, and it may, I think, produce a feeling of suspicion, hesitation, and doubt, where there ought to be no suspicion, no hesitation, and no doubt whatever. I have ventured to make these few observations upon this most dangerous Bill. The fundamental objection which I have to it is that it practically abolishes popular control. We have, or are intended to have under this Bill, arbitrary power instead of representative institutions in full action. We are to have dictation by officials instead of the exercise by a free people of the rights which belong to them in the administration of their affairs.
§ Mr. E. B. BARNARD
The objections which have been raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite to this Bill have been directed more to machinery and management, and very little remark has been made upon the business proposals which are set out in Part I. The hon. Member for Glasgow University (Sir H. Craik), who spoke with very considerable authority, said he thought that the grants which were at present in force were enough, and then he went on to say that if £150,000 were thrown at the head of the Department, they really would not know what to do with it. I can assure him my experience of English rural life leads me to the conclusion that there will be a vast number of very excellent and proper schemes brought forward, and they would very soon exhaust the money. What has been our position in England? We have been, practically speaking, relying on a portion of what is known as the whisky money, which our county councils have chosen to spend, in small ways, in connection with some of these agricultural matters. If we go a little bit further back, the position, as it has been here, is very much worse than it is in Ireland, and, for aught I know in Scotland. The Chan- 993 cellor of the Exchequer said earlier that he felt sorry that there had not been more money spent in connection with our English agriculture and matters associated with it. I think it worth while for the House to just consider what is the position of Ireland. I took the trouble to find out from the Treasury what has been going on for some years past, and I find that the sum of money that has been given to the Board of Agriculture in Ireland is more than three times the amount which has been given to the Department in England. [An HON. MEMBER: "Four times."] Four times as much. We know perfectly well from our own experience, many of us, that a very great deal more could have been done if more funds had been at our disposal. I have been a member for some years of the Cambridge Board of Agriculture, which has been absolutely crippled and starved for want of means to carry on what I think all will agree were most useful and proper experiments in agriculture.
The Noble Lord opposite has spoken about corruption, but I, for my part, do not think that we need contemplate that as likely to occur. I do not believe, whoever the parties may be that are in control, that this consideration need cross our minds. I am perfectly certain that the proposals of this Bill are absolutely in the interests of the rural districts of this country. I go further, and I borrow the expression of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon, who in dealing with Part I. said that the proposals—I think I am not putting the case too high—absolutely met with his approval. Why should they meet with his approval? They should meet with his approval, because every agricultural reformer, whether a Conservative or a Liberal, has for long been claiming some of these things, and if this Bill goes further and offers other things more expansive than we have talked of, all I can say is I am very glad to get some of the reforms which we have been wanting, and which, personally I am bound to say, I had not been expecting. Can any Member opposite point to any agricultural society in this country that has lodged any opinion against this Development Bill? At the last meeting of the Central Chamber of Agriculture not a word was said against it.
§ Mr. BARNARD
The point we were dealing with was the Development Grant, and we had the knowledge of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told us in his Budget speech, which enabled us to put forward some idea of this Bill. I would remind the Noble Lord opposite that a paper was read on the Budget at the Farmers' Club in London. The gentleman who read the paper expressed certain views of his own which he had written to "The Times," in connection with this Development Grant, and he went on to say that there was undoubtedly a general feeling that agriculturists ought to pause a very long time before they dealt with the land part of the Budget, because this development proposition, as he understood it, contained most of the programme that he and others had been urging for many years past. For my part I welcome very much the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made to-night. He stated that he put in the forefront the improvement of the present roads. I should not have been sorry if we were not going to hear any more about the new roads, but that is a matter of opinion. He says that the motor roads are supplemental. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon made a great point of saying that the motor proposals were going to cost the rural districts money. He said that he relied on Clause 8 of the Bill. Clause 8 says, "Where the Road Board make an advance to a highway authority"—an advance may equally be a gift—"towards the construction of a new road, the Board may authorise the authority to construct the road; and where so authorised the highway authority shall have power to construct the road …" It is obvious the highway authority need not act unless it likes, and it is perfectly certain no county council would ever contemplate acting if they did not think it worth their while, and probably they would have interests of their own—variable and proportionate—before they would decide to take any action which would be met by dealings with the road authority. I have always urged that it is only fair that the motors that are doing so much damage to the country roads should be made to contribute distinctly towards the harm they are doing. We have not got the turnpike at the present day, and, therefore, I cannot help thinking that a proposal of this description in any shape or form cannot but be beneficial to the agricultural interest. I understand that 995 under the constitution of the Board, whilst the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he rather approved of the views expressed by the Scottish Member who spoke this evening, that it is highly desirable that the Road Board should be a distinct entity, I venture to suggest that we who represent the localities have a distinct claim to say that the Road Board should be upon different proposals to that which the Bill proposes. To-day the motor licences go to the funds of the local authorities in the country, and it is proposed to take that into the hands of the Treasury and to give in return for what they take a stereotyped amount, although that amount might under existing conditions increase. Obviously the county councils ought to share in that, as they will be subject to the additional expense, or they should have very pointed representation on the Board which will control the distribution of the money. I personally should have preferred very much that the controlling body might be something on the lines of what we have so often heard connected with the name of Sir Horace Plunkett. I am thoroughly convinced that the Bill in its main purposes must prove to be of very great benefit to the agricultural community, and if there are objections, such as have been raised from the other side of the House, they appear to be objections which can be and very likely will be met. Therefore I support the Bill with all my heart.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
I feel that we were entitled, seeing the time the Government has taken to shape this Bill, to have expected it to come before the House in a way in which practical agriculturists could have dealt with it easily and have some idea of what its ultimate form would be after it had passed through Committee. As we have it presented to us we find it impossible, and I speak for the moment as an Irish Member, to know exactly where we stand. I listened with the utmost pleasure to the portion of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he dealt with the means of raising the standard of English agriculture to something like what obtains in Denmark. As regards what was said in reference to the high standard that has been attained by Denmark I would desire to associate myself. One thing he did not say, and I think it needs to be said, and that is that in Denmark, however much the State may have spent in raising the standard of agri- 996 culture and technical instruction, they have done it in a very different form to what is proposed under this Bill. I think it is within the knowledge of most practical agriculturists that in Denmark Sir Horace Plunkett found at least the germ of the Department which has now existed with so much success for the last nine years in Ireland. The root principle of the reformation that has taken place in Denmark was that the people associated with the raising of the standard must, before they receive Government aid, strike a substantial local tax to qualify them. I think it necessary to enlarge on that point, because while it is true, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said this evening, that in Denmark they spend a sum on agriculture which would be equivalent to over £2,000,000 sterling for England, it is equally true that a sum quite as large as that is raised by local taxation in addition to the State aid that is granted because of that local rate. When the Department came to be founded in Ireland Sir Horace Plunkett followed practically the same lines, and every county in Ireland strikes a rate, say of one penny in the pound, for agricultural instruction and technical education. In my own county that rate produces a sum of £1,200, and automatically, and only because they strike that rate they become entitled to a grant roughly amounting to £1,500 from the Department. In this Bill, as it is before us, there is no such stipulation and no such safeguard. We have had it repudiated from the Radical Benches that there could be no suspicion of corruption or any temptation to corruption under this Bill. I think the Chancellor said that we might as well say there might be corruption in any State. I hold you have the best guarantee as to the impossibility of corruption if you have a popularly elected local body raising a large sum from their own constituents before they are entitled to receive a grant in aid from the State. If some such stipulation as that were inserted in the Bill it would remove at least a very strong objection, which we hold it is entitled to receive in its present form. I do not wish to detain the House, but, as representing an Irish Constituency, I desired to make it clear that we do not receive from any local uncontrolled body those large grants which many people in England and Scotland think we do. I listened with the utmost pleasure to the tribute paid by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir: F. Channing) to Sir Horace Plunkett and the Department 997 which he founded; but I think the House ought to be reminded, when so many Members even of the Radical portion of the House are now so ready to acknowledge their indebtedness to him, that when the present Government came into power Sir Horace Plunkett was not considered good enough to be continued in charge of that Department. We have also had a reference from the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) to the Bann drainage.
Attention called to the fact that 40 Members were not present. House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE,
referring to the matter of the Bann drainage, I hope that under this Bill that work will receive a grant in aid in order that a long-deferred settlement of the matter may be arrived at. In listening to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, however, while admiring the diplomacy with which he referred to the Bann drainage and omitted all reference to the not less important question of the Barrow drainage, I found myself inquiring whether we could hope to receive as our proportion of the fund under this Bill any sums which would be substantially useful in undertaking these important works. It seems to be forgotten sometimes that to undertake these important schemes on the lines advocated by first-class engineers would involve a total expenditure of not less than £1,000,000. I conceive that her share of the money under this Bill will be apportioned to Ireland in respect of her needs, not for special schemes of that kind, but only as regards agricultural development and the improvement of roads. If that is the basis on which our Nationalist friends have agreed to support this Bill, I am afraid that the people who live on the banks of the Bann and the Barrow will be sick with hope deferred long before the produce of this new rate comes to their relief. If, however, under this scheme we can have a machinery on the lines of the present Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction there will be hope that some good work may be done on the lines which have been successful in Ireland, and which I am anxious to see followed in England and Scotland.
§ Mr. A. H. SCOTT
While listening to the speeches delivered by Members of the Opposition I have wondered what new excuse they would find for recording their 998 votes against the Bill. It seems to me that in this House Members of the party not in power feel it incumbent upon them to oppose every Bill brought in by the Government, no matter how they may approve its general principles. The last speaker gave as the reason for his opposition that the Bill is a skeleton Bill. Another Member referred to the Bill as having been introduced as a mere election cry. If it is an election cry it is popular with the people; and if it is popular with the people, why should it be opposed? Another Member tells us that this is lavish expenditure. We have been saving money every year since this Government came in. Are we not entitled now to do as previous Governments have done, and have the pleasure of spending some of it? I quite agree that we have not yet had time to consider the Bill properly. The municipalities of the country who will be greatly affected by the measure have not yet met to consider its provisions and the serious effect the Bill will have upon them. I should like to ask the Minister in charge whether it is his intention in setting up the authority that will have to deal with the matter, to pay some regard to the municipalities and see that they are represented upon it. The Treasury are the authority who have to decide on all points connected with this Bill, and they are willing to listen to the views of the municipalities and county councils. I would like to see that extended to non-county boroughs. Non-county boroughs, many of them, contain populations of nearly 50,000 people, and are entitled to have their opinions considered in any of these developments. Under the Bill provision is made in the new Road Clause for bridges under the Railways Act of 1845. Special provisions extend to local authorities larger powers as to the height and width of these bridges than those contained in the Act of 1845. I think an Amendment perhaps should go in the direction of giving the local authorities the right in certain areas where these bridges pass over the main roads to exact that those bridges should be of the same height, and should conform to those conditions, which are now pressed upon all railways when their Bills come before us. In the first Clause this Bill fulfils what has been asked for, not alone on this side of the House, but by all parts of the country. The agricultural industry, under its system of land tenure, has become a byeword until very recent years. A great deal has been said about Denmark. It has been my duty, 999 in the business with which I was associated, to often have to go to Denmark. I dealt very largely with the produce of that country. I have had to go into many of the dairies there, and on the farms, and I contend that it is absolutely impossible to bring agriculture up to the same standard as it is in Denmark unless you have government and administration like those given in this Bill. Buyers go to Denmark because no other country can produce the same class of goods as that country produces. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon has told us that he is very anxious that dairy farming should be attended to. He knows that in this country the land taken all round is far better than the land of Denmark. The breed of cattle, too, I believe, is just as good in this country as in that.
§ Mr. SCOTT
And if you visit the dairies of Denmark you will find that the farmer in most of them would be able to tell you, not only the quantity of milk which a cow will produce, but the quality of it, and he will also give you an analysis. I have never found yet—I do not know much of the agriculture of this country—but I never yet found farmers who can tell us much about their cattle. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] Well, not in the same way as the farmers in that country. We give our prizes at agricultural shows for the best-looking animal. In Denmark that is the very last consideration they look to. Not only that, but when they start an industry of the sort in Denmark they go into it with a view of making it the best possible; hence their bacon, hams, etc., are amongst the first in the market. They have done the same with poultry and eggs. If we are to equal a country like that, certainly fixity of tenure is what we want. The farmers should have confidence that their rent will not raised as soon as they start to make a little money. By so doing you will raise the agricultural status of this country to the same level, if not to a superior level, of the agricultural districts of Denmark. There is one clause, a very important clause, at the end of this Bill. It takes into consideration the question of employment. I do not think that any money has been so badly spent by municipalities than that which has been administered by the so-called Distress Committees. In many towns there has been a large number of unemployed, and 1000 the desire of the Committee has been to find them profitable employment. They have worked out the cost, and they have often found that it has come to a considerably greater cost than that for which they could have had the work done under other conditions. Under this administration we may still, I take it, expect those serious depressions in all trades and in all years, no matter under what system we work. You may have those works which are essential to join up one town with another; that will lead to the development of one part of the country with another; to increased trade, and will give facilities in certain agricultural districts to reach the great markets with their produce; and I believe that this will be the means of using up a great deal of the unemployment when it occurs. We shall then find that work which has been done, instead of being a heavy cost to the rates or the Imperial funds, will work out much more favourable results.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The hon. Member, who has just sat down, has hardly been fair towards this section of the House in saying that we were endeavouring to make excuses for opposing the second reading of this Bill, and that whatever was introduced by the Government was ipso facto opposed by Members in this quarter of the House. That remark is true of many measures, but I would at least remind him that all the hostile criticism of, for instance, the Territorial Army scheme, came from his own quarter of the House. For every vote given against the Navy Estimates by Members in this quarter probably six or eight were given by a very large and influential section of his own friends. Finally, in a matter of far more importance than any legislation that can be introduced, namely the government of the great Dependency of India, from this quarter of the House the Secretary for India can look forward to unqualified support. Had it not been for our votes on one occasion the Government would have been defeated by their own supporters. I oppose this Bill not that I object to most of the objects contained in the measure, but because I object to the principle, the method by which the Government proposes to carry these objects into effect. Moreover, I think, to a large extent the Bill is superfluous. I cannot for the life of me understand why this great advertisement is presented to the House of Commons. Parts of this Bill are abso- 1001 lutely unnecessary. If you begin at the beginning, Sub-section (1) of the Agricultural part has not been dealt with from the correct point of view.
Sub-section (a)—"Forestry, including inquiries, experiments, and research." In 1889, when we passed the Board of Agriculture Bill, a clause was inserted giving to the Board power to make or aid in making inquiries, experiments, and research for afforestation, collecting such information as they thought might promote agriculture and afforestation, so that at the present time the whole of the afforestation part, so far as experiment and research are concerned, are already within the province of the Government. There is no occasion whatever to put it into Subsection (a) here. As regards actual afforestation, you would think from this that up to now nothing has been done. Why, two or three years ago the Government proceeded to purchase a very large estate in Scotland, and actually to-day afforestation is proceeding there. No Bill was required. It was done simply by Departmental methods, and this question of afforestation, I am glad to think, is not being unduly hurried forward by the Treasury. A few months ago, after a comparatively short inquiry, a Report on afforestation was presented by the Royal Commission, which was composed almost exclusively of experts on coast erosion. As one interested in the development of sylviculture, I think that Report was so extravagant that practical afforestation in this country has been put back at least 10 years. The Government happily has completely shelved that Report. It was largely based upon the researches of some actuary in Whitehall. This Development Bill, as far as afforestation is concerned, is almost entirely superfluous. Next there is paragraph (b), which deals with agriculture proper, promoting scientific research. We have got Kew, which probably from our climatic point of view has the best-conducted botanical researches in Europe. I say that advisedly from our climatic point of view. You have paragraph (c) of the Board of Agriculture Estimates, which completely provides for scientific agricultural research. There is no occasion to put it into a Bill; it has already been provided for in an Act of Parliament 20 years old, and the money is voted every year. If more money is required, more can be given in the Estimates and more can be spent. Besides this money included in the Estimates you 1002 have Estimates for statistical Estimates, and so forth, not less than £10,000, which covers this paragraph about agriculture. Then I come to the item "instruction." There is absolutely no occasion to have a Development Bill to promote agricultural instruction. We have got an admirable system of agricultural instruction, largely carried out, it is true, by the councils, and improving year by year in the most extraordinary fashion. It is the branch of public education in this country—I am not speaking of Ireland—which has made most rapid strides in the last 10 years. If more money is wanted, we can easily give a subvention to the local authorities, which are working most admirably. The Act of 1889, again, gives complete powers for the purpose of development of agricultural education: "To carry on further experiments in the methods in the practice of agriculture." We have got a Government laboratory at Rothamsted, the principal official of which is a chemist. We give it a small grant, but if more money is wanted for Rothamsted, let the money be put upon the Estimates, and let the Government grant it year by year, and if that is not enough, let the House of Commons see that more is provided. I can imagine nothing more serious than the marvellous work and international fame gained by Rothamsted should be controlled and interfered with by the Treasury acting directly, and, still more, by the Advisory Committee. I hope, whatever is done under this Bill for the development of agriculture, Rothamsted—which has stood for years and years on a voluntary basis—will not be interfered with by Treasury control, but will be helped rather with increased subvention. The whole country—I am speaking of England alone—is mapped out into districts which are looked after by a very efficient body of inspectors of the Board of Agriculture, and the practice which I have stated in regard to England, except in the great station of Rothamsted, applies to the work done by the Board of Agriculture in Ireland.
The next thing is the improvement of live stock and poultry, and here again there is no occasion for this Bill. At the present moment the Government service towards the improvement of live stock is a system of giving prizes. That may be a bad system. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it a bad system. I do not give that particular method an unqualified approval, but it really has merits which many other 1003 systems fail to achieve. This year the Estimates are already voted for that, but it chiefly goes for horses, but there is nothing to prevent the Board of Agriculture from diverting portions of it to other branches. Then there is the word "cooperation." Of course I do not know what that means. The proper way to inculcate co-operation is by a system of small public meetings. That is how it was begun in Ireland by Sir Horace Plunkett and Father Finlay, and with this start on a voluntary basis, the only basis on which you can gain the initial confidence of the agricultural world, you can then extend the system of Government inspectors, all of whom are competent men, to carry out the propaganda of co-operation, and for none of these things is it necessary to pass an Act of Parliament. If co-operation means agrarian banks which have been so well developed in Bavaria, if you were to devote the whole of the money in this Bill to that purpose, it is a question whether it would be adequate, but I do not suppose that co-operation extends to agrarian banks. The extension of provisions in this Bill for small holdings seems to me to be quite illusory, for ample powers are contained in an Act passed a few months ago. With regard to the regulations to drain lands, there is a statute enforcing that dating from 1864.
I should like to point out how the Board of Agriculture by its obstructive methods is preventing the proper operation of the Lands Improvements Acts. Take that marvellous case where the proprietor has got no ready cash to clear the ground, and he has applied under the Lands Improvements Acts for money to employ traction engines to drag up the roots and develop the place into agricultural land. There is a lot of land in that neighbourhood which has been so treated, and it has proved to be admirable agricultural tillage ground, and yet this application has been refused. You do not want a new Bill for land improvement and drainage. What you want is a more enlightened and liberal policy on the, part of the Department which administers the Act. Then there is paragraph (d), which deals with the general improvement of rural transport, including the making of light railways, but not including the construction or improvement of roads. That means in a greater or less degree subsidised competition. I suppose by this proposal the Government approve of subsidised competition. It may be a 1004 good thing, but it is not a process which can be accomplished without casting hard-ship on a considerable number of people.
With regard to the making of light railways, there is already a general statute dealing with them, namely, the Act of 1896, and in this year's Estimates we have voted annuities to a good many people under that Act. If you want more light railways, why not have another Act, or put these proposals under the Act of 1896? There is absolutely no necessity for this further extension of power in regard to light railways. There are two hon. Members opposite who were in Parliament, I think, when the Act of 1896 was passed, and they will remember the Debate on the Mallaig Railway extension to link up the isolated portions of our great Scottish railway lines. They will, no doubt, remember the feeling almost of jealousy which ensued after the passing of that Bill between various parts of the country because particular counties were chosen for the application of the Act. That sort of thing is bound to occur again under these proposals. Even if you do good by constructing a light railway in a particular district, and improve the rural transport in this way, you are bound to raise disappointment to a far greater number of other districts which are not so well favoured. But that is not the point that I wish to address myself to. The point I am addressing myself to is the superfluity of the subjects set up in this preliminary catalogue. Paragraph (e) deals with the construction and improvement of harbours. There is absolutely no necessity to put that into a Development Bill. This year our Estimates include a sum of £100,000 for harbours already. Peterhead Harbour has been under construction by the Government for 20 years or more, and year after year, except during the last three years, there have been long and often acrimonious debates about Peterhead Harbour, and allegations have been made that Downing Street has thoroughly mismanaged that business. The representative of the Treasury year after year makes the best reply he can. I undertake to say that if the House of Commons could obtain the opinion of Sir George Murray, Sir E. Hamilton and Sir Francis Mowatt and other distinguished officials in the Treasury they would find that the Treasury would be ready to exercise its influence against placing a general statement in a Bill of this character that harbours can be constructed all over the British Isles at the expense of the Government. Our management of har- 1005 hours so far as the Government is concerned in Ireland as well as in England has really been little short of deplorable. I do not blame the Treasury, and why should they be blamed. The Treasury is a great institution for economising money. How does it come about that it is now proposed that the Treasury should retain control of these harbours? Why is this matter not handed over to the Board of Trade?
Paragraph (f) deals with the construction and improvement of canals. I do not think the construction of fresh canals in this country is necessary. The improvement of them might in certain cases be of considerable service, but there is already power to do that. The Improvement of Land Acts of 1864 constitutes the Board of Trade the responsible authority, and under it they have immense powers to deal with canals. Many canals have fallen into disuse owing to economic competition which has at any rate justified one great party in the transaction, and if the Government thinks it is going, out of this £500,000 and what other pickings it may acquire, to build new canals and reopen water-logged systems, there will be no money left for any other purpose. Paragraph (g) deals with the development and the improvement of fisheries. Already great powers exist, and they are vested in the Board of Agriculture in this country and in Ireland for dealing with the development of fisheries. There is a regular system of fishery inspection all over the country, there are Fishery Commissioners and River Conservators, and as regards the improvement of fisheries you have only to refer to the current Estimates to see that no further powers are required for the purpose. One Vote alone amounts to no less than £75,000 for investigating the fisheries of the North Sea. For the improvement of fisheries, therefore, I do not think you want compulsory power, because ample powers are already vested in the Government Departments. Then come lines 8 and 9 which provide, "and for any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." Those are pretty wide words, and they appear to me to make the whole of the previous lines of the Bill absolutely unnecessary. It must be a mistake of the draftsman. Whether he put in the earlier part, or should have left out the later part, I do not know; but, under these words, you could start a line of 1006 steamers, erect a technical school, or do any mortal thing, which, from one point of view or another, may be said to assist the development of economic conditions. I do not object to more than two or three of these proposals in themselves. I have shown, and indeed any Member can see it for themselves by referring to the Estimates, that one by one the bulk of these schemes have been for years voted annually by Parliament in the Civil Service Estimates. What I do object to very much indeed is the method, or, rather, the principle by which these objects are to be achieved. The money, an indeterminate quantity, is to be found by the annual Votes of Parliament; it may be much and it may be little, and, secondly, by sums issued out of the Consolidated Fund under this Section. A sum of half a million a, year has got to be voted until this statute is repealed for the next five years. I object to that most strongly. Putting this money on the Consolidated Fund withdraws its direct criticism from the House of Commons. I am perfectly correct in that. It is like the salary of the judges. We put them deliberately on the Consolidated Fund in order that Members of Parliament may not be led into the temptation of interfering with the independence of the judiciary by discussing their action on the Bench by any means except the solemn and somewhat difficult process of an Address to the Throne. You are proposing to treat this grant for dairy teaching, the development of trout catchery, and the draining of a field by putting it on to the Consolidated Fund in the same way as we treat the judges' salaries or the sums of money voted to the family of the Sovereign. I think that is utterly wrong.
These Votes ought to be put on the Estimate. Every Vote for subjects analogous to those in the Bill have up to now, even if controlled by statutes like the harbours under the Board of Trade, had their supply voted annually on the Civil Service Estimates, and every Member of Parliament, or, under our new rules, any group of Members, have had the right to claim that any particular Vote shall be discussed in Committee of Supply. That is going to be done away with, and I think it is almost a fatal error. It is the point in the Bill which is going to make me vote against the second reading. The removal of these questions of money from the floor of the House of Commons must inevitably drive the settlement of the allocation of the sums from the floor of the House into the Lobbies, and I prefer to see money voted 1007 in the House of Commons to discussions privately in the Lobby. When I came into the House, 15 years ago, Members of Parliament had the right to nominate sub-postmasters in their own constituencies, and the recommendation was invariably accepted, unless, indeed, there were some circumstances connected with the candidate in question which were unknown to the Member who had sent the name to the Postmaster-General. That bit of petty patronage was removed from Members, and there was a perfect sigh of relief in the House of Commons when we heard it was taken away from us. The exercise of that patronage was a source of intrigue, of jealousy, and of party log-rolling in every village where the sub-postmastership fell vacant. It was done away with with the willing assent and consent of, and to the delight of, every Member. We have now the danger in a different form of bringing ourselves under a new form of Treasury patronage.
I do not wish to introduce personal matters, but anybody who studies the Question Paper of the House of Commons, and any Member who attends the Naval Estimates subsequent to the Votes dealing with the construction of new ships, will bear me out when I say that the Member for a constituency, the livelihood of which largely depends upon Government work, is a man who from the very nature of his position—as the Members for Devonport, Woolwich, and Sheffield; we all know perfectly well who they are—whose life is made a burden to him, and whose continuance in this House is made impossible unless he can persuade his constituents that on every opportunity he has got his eye on the Government of the day, and is doing his utmost to persuade it to give jobs and work to his constituency. I say that has a bad influence upon the House of Commons. We are under this Bill in imminent danger, I think, of bringing some precarious or sporadic constituency pressure upon ourselves to secure from one or another Department of the Government a job—an harbour or a drain—for one of our several constituencies. I know perfectly well what will happen. When this Bill is passed the first Clause will be published, giving this long list of boons which are offered to the public. The public will also be told there is half a million to which each constituency has a priori an equal right. What follows? 1008 First, the Member is approached. There is nobody in my Constituency except myself who habitually lives in London. There is nobody who is in daily contact with Government Departments. If my Constituency wants something done, they naturally come to me and ask for that boon. The service may be for the interests of the community, and, personally, I may be glad if it is done, because, primâ facie, it is a good and useful public work. I may go to the Government and say, "Look here, Chorley wants this and that; can you help them?" My Constituency is put in a false position, I am put in a false position, and the Treasury is put in a false position. If I am strong enough I can bully the Treasury into making that grant to my Constituency. If I am not strong enough, if my neighbour is a better man than myself, then he gains what I consider to be an unfair electoral advantage. He gains also what may be an equally unfair commercial or industrial advantage over my Constituency. I am none the better for it. The Treasury is none the better for it, and, if the work is managed as it has been in the past, I very much question whether either my Constituency or the next will be any the better off. I am not making any personal references to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He is well aware of that. If I were in his position I should be just as reluctant to give my favours to those who are not my friends. That is human nature, and it is a feeling which is extremely strong even on the Treasury Bench. The Chancellor of the Exchequer intervened very early in the Debate, and started his speech with a taunt against Members n this side of the House which was utterly unworthy of him. He said what a singular thing it is that no agricultural Member has opposed this Bill. But surely it was not very singular, considering the fact that Mr. Speaker had up to that time thought fit to call upon three Members representing urban constituencies. I represent a, Constituency which is largely agricultural, and if I alienate the agricultural vote my seat is gone. By quoting the first Clause of this Bill it is possible for any Member on the Government side of the House, speaking to an unthinking audience in my Constituency, to do me immense harm by saying, "Your Member voted against these things being done, and against money being spent upon them." He would thereby gain a tremendous party advantage. Let him. I recognise that in some of these 1009 matters no Member of Parliament is worthy of his salt unless he carries his political life in his hand, and I am prepared to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, so far as I am concerned, and so far as the agricultural side of my Constituency is concerned, I shall not be influenced, and I hope many of my hon. Friends will equally decline to be influenced, by the threat which he threw across the floor of the House with regard to agricultural Members not daring to oppose this Bill.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Many alarming assertions have been made concerning the effect of this Bill, but, in my judgment, it is one that might have been introduced by a Conservative Government. As a matter of fact, nearly every one of the provisions embodied in the first part of the measure have been taken from measures passed by Conservative Governments for Ireland, and I cannot conceive how any Conservative, knowing what has been done in Ireland by Conservative Governments under Act after Act, which has worked well and profitably in that country, can oppose the provisions of this Bill. In Ireland the attitude of the Conservative Government has always been to grant to our country not political advantage, but material concessions. This has been the policy adopted for the last half century. What has been the result? I, as representing one part of the country, may have been dissatisfied if I saw a pier or harbour or railway created in another. But does anybody suppose, or has it been charged against any Irish Member, that the grant of that railway, pier, or harbour, to this Constituency, has captured his vote for the Government, or weaned him from his political independence? The Noble Lord, the Member for Chorley, said that if only he were strong enough to bully the Treasury he could get anything out of it. I have been trying to bully the Treasury for a pier—in stone—for my Constituency, but up to the present I honestly confess that no Government, either Tory or Liberal, has been induced to carry out my desire. This Bill is separated into two parts, one of which has absolutely nothing to do with the other; they are, in fact, quite separate. I do not think we shall take very much from the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the first part, which is already in operation in Ireland with the sanction of both parties. We have had forestry promoted there; we have had the aiding and developing of agriculture; for fifty years we have had the reclamation and drainage of land. We have 1010 not had anything to do with the general improvement of transport, although the Government of the present Leader of the Opposition, with fine generosity, in counties like Donegal, Mayo, and Galway gave improved railway communication; and to that extent we are indebted to a Conservative Administration. We have had harbours constructed and improved, but we have had nothing in the way of canals, and our fisheries have been developed to some extent. So that, with some minor exceptions, there exists in Ireland, with the sanction, of both parties, nearly every one of these proposals that you are denouncing here to-night. With all the attacks upon Irish Members and on Irish management in regard to various matters connected with the administration of law and order, no Conservative has yet been able to put his hand upon anything in the nature of peculation, corruption, or misconduct, in connection with the control of these matters. If you have not been able to do that in regard to Ireland, which has a "double dose of original sin," do you think, when we have not been corrupted, that you virtuous and innocent British are going to be? Practically, while the Conservatives say the Irish are unfit to manage their own affairs, the new cry is going to be "Neither are the English." I pass, therefore, from this with this consideration: that I conceive, from the administration of the enactment in Ireland, that the Treasury is not a body fit to finance these disbursements. You cannot have a spending authority and a saving authority at the same time, and that is the vice of the administration of the whole of these things in Ireland, because in that country thousands are put under the Board of Works, and that Board has to give an accurate account to the Treasury every six months or every twelve months of how the money has gone, and the great glory of the clerks of the Board of Works is to be able to write to the Treasury and say "Yesterday we spent sixpence, and we saved 2½d. out of the grant." That is the vice of it, and I respectfully think, if Parliament were wise it would allot a given sum year by year, so far as the Department was concerned, indented, so to speak, for their control, and the Treasury should have no control, and you would relieve the Treasury of the cruel terror they seem to be under at present in dealing with all these matters. I have said so much on former occasions in disparagement of the Treasury that I will not say more now than that a sort of Departmental Goliath 1011 could not stand the burden which this House puts upon the Treasury. At every hand's turn it is Treasury this and Treasury t'other, and I say that the whole thing is breaking down, and no real and effective administration or over-looking can be given to this matter. So much on the first portion of the Bill, which is accepted.
I was looking forward to this Bill with very great anxiety. It was the one Bill which I expected to see which would give us assuagement or same compensation for the extra burden that Ireland will have to bear under the expenditure. It can be no satisfaction to see that "Dreadnoughts" are being built at Chatham or Newcastle-on-Tyne. We want to see something for our money besides the smoke cut of the funnels of cruisers and I looked forward to this Bill with the utmost anxiety and with the utmost satisfaction. The Noble Lord who introduced the discussion quoted a speech which was made in Ireland by the Chairman of our party, the actual text of which I shall quote. I do not know whether the Noble Lord intended to quote it textually, but I must say we have been met in an unexpected manner, not by the denial, but by the suprise expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Nobody can pretend that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) ever acts with haste, or that he does not measure his words, and the words I am going to quote were received with the greatest satisfaction, not merely in Ireland, and have never met until to-night with anything in the nature of denial or repudiation. The Bill, though only introduced the other day, was promised in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in April last. It is dated 26th August, that is, four months after the speech was made. I think the hon. and learned Member (Mr. John Redmond) is correct in what he says, and I think it will turn out when these matters are sifted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's words have not been well considered. Here are the words of the hon. and learned Member:In these circumstances the Irish party had decided to support the so-called Land Taxes in the Budget. Out of the Development Fund it is proposed to create he had reason to know that within the next twelve months money would assuredly be provided for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann, and other rivers which were spreading desolation and ruin by their flooding. Money would also be available which could be used to facilitate the purchase and amalgamation of Irish railways under an Irish local authority. Therefore he looked forward to the Development Fund as a means of meeting some 1012 of the greatest social and economic needs of Ireland in the near future. These things the Irish party would support, and he appealed to the intelligence of Ireland to endorse their action.I really think the Chancellor of the Exchequer misconceived the situation when he said no such assurance had ever been given. I ask anybody what better use could money be put to. The Tory party, 20 years ago, brought a Bill into this House for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann. A quarter of a million, I think, they would have amounted to. We were dissatisfied at the time, but when you are dealing here with the reclamation and drainage of land, could any tax be applied to a better object than the drainage of these two rivers? Accordingly I think, though, perhaps, he may for the moment think it was as well to put forward that view, on consideration, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see that it would be better to leave the assurance to stand in its unimpaired condition. Secondly, with regard to Irish railways, their condition now is not a question of economy, but it is a question that is becoming acute for a hundred reasons. We do not in any sense accept the casual words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as representing the considered view of the Government in this matter. We fully believe that the assurance which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. J. Redmond) gave to our people will ultimately, and before long, be carried out.
On the second portion of the Bill I should like to make two or three comments. It calls, in my judgment, for absolute support. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is loyally carrying out the principles of his Budget when he proposes to devote the new tax to the objects to which it is consecrated in the second portion of the Bill. I think the Scottish Office have been consulted with regard to this Bill, but I do not think the Irish Office have been so consulted. I do not know that except from internal evidence. I notice that where an English authority is mentioned the Lord Advocate or the Local Government Board for Scotland is mentioned in connection with the application of the Bill to Scotland, but if I turn to the clauses relating to Ireland I find no such transference. Take Sub-section (3) of Clause 7. This is a matter to which I attach considerable importance, because I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was well advised in saying that this money ought not to be applied merely for the convenience of motorists. Sub-section (3) of Clause 7 1013 says, "Before the Treasury approve of the construction of a new road by the Road Board they shall consult with the Local Government Board." That must mean the Local Government Board for England, because if you look at the Irish section there is no such corresponding definition of Local Government Board in Ireland, meaning as in Scotland a particular authority, so that before any road can be constructed in Ireland under this Bill it is the English Local Government Board that must be consulted. I have looked up the Interpretation Act.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
It may not be intended, I quite admit, but you will find no definition for Ireland which indicates that it is not intended. I quite accept what I may call the nodding assurance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the exclusion of Ireland is not intended. I am quite satisfied on that point. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to devote the money arising out of motor licences and out of the petrol tax to road improvement, and that is a course I cordially approve of. It may well be said that under the Act of 1825 the carriage tax was abandoned for Ireland, and for good. I do not think that any user of a motor will grudge the few pounds a year which the Government exact under this tax for the purpose of improving the roads. Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but if you consider the amount of inconvenience a motor user causes to the general public I think he ought to be compelled to pay something extra for the enjoyment of the luxury. I would say this, however, that it is a curious fact that even in Ireland, though the taxes are the same both for petrol and motors, the incidence of the taxes is not the same because, owing to the roughness of the Irish roads, you cannot get the same value out of a gallon of petrol, while the motor itself is injured in Ireland in a way it is not injured in England. Petrol in Ireland is already 3d. or 4d. per gallon more than in England, so that the incidence of the tax is not the same. I do not mind that. I think the general body of those who use motors ought to be compelled to pay something in addition for the upkeep of the roads, and on that point I wish to make this observation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Irish Members and the Scotch Members ought not to insist on any division of the amount arising out of this tax. I am not going at the 1014 moment to make a pronouncement on that point, but let me remind the right hon. Gentleman of this—the official who introduced this plan was Mr. Goschen.
Mr. Goschen was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who first introduced the principle of applying Imperial taxes to local needs. I think it was first done in connection with the Probate Duty. And the very year the Chancellor of the Exchequer came into this House he and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for England (Sir Samuel Evans) sat up night after night and insisted on the very principle for Wales which he suggests I should not now ask for in the case of Ireland. A good memory may be a bad thing, and a bad memory may be a good thing. I do not know; but at all events I remember how the Solicitor-General for England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer worried us for weeks and weeks, and would not allow Mr. Goschen to apply to Ireland the principle which we were contending for in Ireland, namely, the principle as to equivalent expenditure, until gallant little Wales had the same principle applied. I do not know what has changed the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether it is experience or whether it is office. But, for the nonce, I will not contend for the principle which he so gallantly fought for during the first year after his auspicious entrance into this House. For the moment I pretermit that principle. But, at all events, we ought to have a minimum allocation provided for. That is to say, that at least we should not get less than we contribute. You may say that that would be practically effecting the same thing, because England and Scotland would contend for a similar principle, and, no doubt, that is the course that I suggest. I see the application of that argument, but let us remember that you have got the better of us on every previous occasion; and is it to be suggested that when you are dealing with motor-cars and petrol for the first time a new spirit will have descended upon your intentions? It may be so, but I doubt it. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he will send the Bill up to a Committee, and certainly it will be the first Bill that has ever had that ascension, shall I call it, in the month of September. The right hon. Gentleman will have plenty to do in the House down here for the whole, I presume, of the present month of September. Certainly no one would expect of him, while he is 1015 defending a Budget in this House, that he should at the same time be engaged in a Committee upstairs upon this Development Bill. Therefore I should treat the measure for the present simply as a sketch, as a Bill that, while showing fairly the intentions of the Government under the Budget, may not perhaps ultimately become law in the course of the present twelve months. Therefore, the only question I am now going to ask in conclusion is this: Shall we, who are asked to accept the principle of pooled allocation, know before the Bill leaves the Committee upstairs who are the gentlemen who are to administer the measure? That is a matter of some importance. I do not know what the amount of the tax on Ireland would be, but would I be wrong in putting it at £100,000 a year?
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I could not give a figure. All I know is it is a very small amount for Ireland in comparison with the rest of the Kingdom. I will give it to my hon. Friend to-morrow if he asks for it. I could not give it now, but speaking from recollection it is a very small amount and not proportionate to the population by any means.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
If it is merely a small amount, it is not going to be a bean-feast for the road men. If you are only going to get £2,000 or £3,000 a year from Ireland, it is not worth arguing about.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
This Bill does not propose to distribute the fund in proportion to the receipts in any way. As I have pointed out, probably about a third or a fourth of the tax is derived from London, but it is not proposed that a fourth of the money should be distributed in London.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am disposed to agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that something will be derived from Ireland, but not much. When you earmark distinctly, according to the pro- 1016 portions under Mr. Goschen's scheme, the outcome of the Probate and other duties, and pin these to a definite amount, is it likely that we should get out of this tax sufficient to do anything effective? That, therefore, brings me back to the point, if the amount be extremely small which we contribute to the Development Grant, how unlikely it is, out of such a sum, amounts will be found for the drainage of the Bann and the Barrow or anything else? I would only say further, that if this Bill applied only to England, I deem it worthy of support. I think it is a good Bill in itself. We may not get as much out of it as some of us contemplate—I accept the statement that cur contribution may not be large—but, whether it be large or small, I can see that the attacks on this Bill from the Opposition are wholly unjustified, and, if we regard it as a purely English Bill, I think it is well worthy the support of Members of this House.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I think the hon. and learned Member for Louth has really misinterpreted the objections of hon. Members on this side of the House. Our objections are not so much to the amount of money which is given, nor are they directed against the object of this measure. No one objects to see money spent, if it be well spent, on afforestation, on industrial development, and on scientific training in agriculture generally. But we object quite as strongly as the hon. and learned Member for Louth to the way in which the money is to be distributed. I do not know how far he is correct in saying that the distribution of money under various grants in Ireland has been a bad one, but I can assure him that if the distribution through the Treasury is bad in Ireland it is equally bad in England. All his observations with regard to the system in Ireland apply equally well to England. Such a position I do not think has ever existed in any other Bill brought before this House. I desire to fully support the words of the hon. Member for Marylebone (Lord R. Cecil) in saying that it is monstrous at this period of the Session a Bill embodying all these provisions should be brought forward and that the House should be asked to pass it after one day's discussion, with all the varied proposals which are contained in the first Clause of the Bill. If we object to the Treasury being made the channel of distribution we object even more strongly to the extraordinarily vague terms in which the pro- 1017 visions of the first two clauses are put down, in the Bill. I may say that those two clauses bear out the impression I personally gained at the time the right hon. Gentleman made his Budget speech as to the general vagueness of the Government in dealing with the question of agricultural development. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did me the honour of replying to an articulate interruption I made at the time, and said that when I read the Bill I would see what the Government proposed. I say that is exactly what we do not see under the present Bill. We are in quite as great a state of vagueness now as we were at the time of the Budget speech. Paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 deal with forestry, agriculture, and rural industries. As my Noble Friend the Member for Chorley (Lord Balcarres) pointed out, both in the case of forestry and scientific education and research in agriculture a great deal is already being done in the country, and I would venture to say that everything which this Bill proposes to do in those paragraphs of Clause 1 could be done through the existing societies. There are three societies concerned, namely, the Agricultural Organisation Society, to which the Government already give a grant of £20,000, I think; the Royal Agricultural Society; and the third, which is a quasi-official, if not an entirely official, body—the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding. I would say that by giving adequate grants to those three societies everything that is proposed to be carried out under those two paragraphs could be carried out far more efficiently than they will be under the Bill, without the risk, which I think is a real risk, of the money being spent by a Government Department in an improper way, and for improper reasons, which exists in the Bill. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer got up to speak he was led into various controversial channels which had really little to do with the first Clause, and it is unfortunate that we have not had one single word from the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why the Government did not consider the alternative of giving sums to those existing societies instead of putting this Clause in the Bill. They have already adopted the principle. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has borne testimony to the good being done by the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding and to the need there is for increasing the work and scope of the society. The Treasury support the 1018 Agricultural Organisation Society because they have already given it a grant. No one will deny that the Royal Agricultural Society in respect of its experimental station at Berkhamsted, and work done in other branches of agriculture, is deserving of every support. Under the remaining paragraphs—(c) to (g)—the danger of inefficiency and corruption is exceedingly grave. My Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) referred to the great danger known as "graft" or "boodling," which constantly arises in new countries, especially in connection with railways, roads, and bridges. Where corruption has arisen, it has happened far more in connection with these development works than in connection with protection. You will find in a small State two districts, one fairly ripe for development and the other not so ripe. The Members of Parliament for those districts desire to have a railway, each through the portion that he represents, and accordingly each tries to outbid the other.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I did not suggest that they were State concerns, but in order to make a railway it is necessary to get way leaves and so on.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I know; that is where the "graft" and the "boodling" have arisen. No one will deny that there has been a great deal of "graft" in connection with the development system. It is a well-known danger, and under this Clause as it stands there is grave risk that in future, with a less scrupulous Government in power, a system of "lobbying" may grow up similar to that which has existed in other countries. I personally think these five paragraphs might practically include any form of industry or commerce, read in conjunction with these famous words: "And for any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." There is nothing here that would exclude any form of industry or commerce. A Member of the House might desire to erect a cotton mill, or a factory, or a gas works, and as the Sub-section stands he would be entitled to the grant for any of these objects. It is strange that any Government should consent to such wide words. But the first part of the Bill is put 1019 into the shade, and absolutely dwarfed, by comparison with the extraordinary Clause 4, where power is given to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries in England, and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, to seize land, with scarcely any safeguards for the purposes of this Bill. I am surprised that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House—especially those above the Gangway—have not really taken some objection to this Clause. I should have thought that no single individual in the House, except he were a Socialist, wished to see powers for the compulsory acquisition of land put into the Bill for the undefined purposes that we find in this Clause. The first part of the Bill may, according as the Government which is in power chooses to administer it, mean practically anything or absolutely nothing. It may be used merely to throw dust in the eyes of the people of the country, or as a gigantic bribe for certain classes whose votes the Government at the time desire to obtain. A General Election may be approaching, and I see nothing to prevent the Government spending an enormous sum of money in prizes for the best form of light traction engine for commercial purposes; more particularly if at that moment the chairman of the Budget League happened to be the chairman of a Commercial Motor Transport Company. I hope the House will pause before they allow this Bill to pass. We all recognise the need for State aid; no one denies that in the past very little has been done in the way of State assistance to agriculture. No one denies money is badly needed. Resources exist for many years, and have done an enormous amount of good under most discouraging circumstances. An hon. Member below the Gangway opposite went out of his way in his speech this evening to make most unjust attacks upon English farmers. He suggested that the English farmers were not as forward as the Danish farmers. I can assure the hon. Gentleman there is no system of agriculture in any part of the world higher than the present system of agriculture in this country. It is in that state for this reason: In this country for a great many years landlords and tenants act in co-operation in most discouraging circumstances, and in times of great depression, so that to-day the best and highest and most progressive system of farming is to be found in this country, and also the best 1020 stock in any part of the world. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would spend the money in promoting the growth that already exists, I think he would be doing far more for agriculture than he is doing. Denmark is always held up to our eyes as an example of what has been done by co-operation and organisation. I am not disposed to deny that Danish farmers commercially have in some respects been more successful than those in this country. The small farmers in Denmark have probably the richest land in Denmark. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I assure hon. Members I know Denmark well, and I assure them that the greatest part of the agricultural land of Denmark is rich alluvial soil. I admit the farmers of Denmark have been exceedingly successful. How is money spent there in the encouragement of agriculture? It is certainly not spent in the way proposed by the Government in this Bill. It is spent in giving direct assistance to agricultural societies, to voluntary organisation societies, such as the Organisation Society, and many others. The right hon. Gentleman tried to joke me because I said there was a great system of Socialism in Denmark. The interesting part of the history of Danish agriculture is this, that while in Denmark there has been this great improvement in recent years, and Danish agriculture is in a state of efficiency, and while a system of small ownership exists there, which is directly discouraged by the Government of this country, and while this system of small ownership should be the greatest bulwark against Socialism the fact remains that Socialism is growing there every day. Copenhagen is the most Socialistic town in Denmark. There the municipality is very rich, and it is not true to say that Denmark is an individualistic country, because there the people are imbued with Socialism. Therefore, the system in Denmark is no analogy to the system under this Bill. If the assistance were given to voluntary societies, I think it would be much better. I do not think there is a single Member representing an agricultural constituency who does not view with dismay the vagueness of the proposals contained in the first part of the Bill, and who does not see a grave and real danger of a vast system of corruption gradually growing up in this country.
§ Mr. JAMES FALCONER
So far as the necessity for expenditure on development is concerned I think Scotch Members are 1021 all agreed, and they can on that account give a most hearty support to this measure. All those who know the agricultural conditions of Scotland at the present time will realise that we are approaching a condition of depopulation in the country, and an accumulation of population in the towns, and this is creating a serious situation, not only for agriculture, but for the whole nation. On Saturday last I happened to be in what may be regarded as a typical glen in Scotland, which has produced many stalwart men and good women. I inquired how many children were attending a school there, and I was told there were ten. My informant told me that when he was young there were forty children in that school. I asked whether there had been any other school accommodation provided to draw the children off, and I was told "No, the school was still supplying the same area." The same state of things will be found in a great many of the glens in Scotland, from which some of her best people have come. With regard to the Lowlands, I could go within a few miles of my home along a stretch of excellent agricultural land where years ago you would have found small holdings and people occupying them for five and six miles of a stretch, and now they have all disappeared into large farms, with the exception of one. That is typical of the Lowlands of Scotland from one end to the other, and if that be true it requires no further argument to justify the making of special provision for dealing with the development of agriculture in Scotland.
The reason both in the glens and in the Lowlands for the situation I have described is that the owners of land have not been able, or have not been willing, to expend the money necessary to put up the buildings on these small holdings and keep them in repair. Consequently, when a lease of one has fallen in, it has been added to the nearest large farm. The want of money or because the landlord was not satisfied he would get an adequate return for his expenditure has really been the source of depopulation. It is for that reason I hail with pleasure—and I am sure everyone interested in agriculture in Scotland will hail with pleasure—the provision of the money necessary to enable these homesteads to be rebuilt and the land to be repeopled. I am not under any delusions as to the simplicity of the process. I know it will require a great deal of care. I am myself interested in a farm which has forty or fifty of these small holdings surrounding it, and I am therefore 1022 speaking of things of which I have had practical experience and of people I know as neighbours. It is not easy to repeople a district and farm it with success; but, if the right class of people are given the right opportunity, they are capable of cultivating the land in small holdings and making a living upon it; and it is thus possibly to raise up upon the land a crop of men and women fitted to take their part, not only in the industrial work of the country, but also in the Army and Navy. On every ground, I desire to commend to the House the provision of this money, for the development of agriculture is of the gravest interest in Scotland at the present time.
I desire also to say a word with regard to the method in which the Fund is to be apportioned and administered I am bound to say that the result of my consideration of this subject has been to satisfy me that it would be more useful and satisfactory if we had for Scotland a specific proportion of the Fund set apart. I do not know whether we should get our full share of the amount which we should contribute, or whether we should get less or more, but if we were to get what I understand is our recognised proportion of the Government money granted to the different countries, then we should know exactly how much we were going to get, and if it were entrusted to a body charged with that special duty not a penny of it would be wasted. A separate Department set up in Scotland, such as that proposed with regard to agriculture, would be more likely to administer the Fund beneficially than is possible under the scheme indicated in the measure. As I understand it, the real control of this money is to rest with the Advisory Committee, who are to be situated in London. That is my understanding—there is to be an advisory committee, who are to be entitled to spend this money through existing departments. What I would suggest is this—that a better expenditure of the money would be made if it were given to a department situated in Scotland coming in contact with the requirements of Scottish agriculture, whose whole credit and reputation would depend on the success with which it administered the scheme. Scottish agriculture is a happy hunting ground of politicians out of a berth. If a man has nothing else to do he develops some theory with, regard to agriculture which is usually not at all practical. I am very much afraid that some of these theorists will be found influencing the expenditure of this 1023 money, and that the Advisory Committee will themselves have no knowledge of the circumstances with which they have to deal. I confess I am also apprehensive of any proposal to expend this money through the English Board of Agriculture. Our experience in Scotland of the efforts of the Board—well meant, no doubt—to control or direct or assist agriculture in Scotland, where the conditions are entirely different in every respect, different as regards methods of farming and cultivation and land tenure, is such that I should look with great apprehension as to the use which might be made of this money if it were expended on Scottish agriculture by the English Board which naturally is concerned with English affairs and English methods. All the more do I say so because the view which presents itself to this side of the House—with the exception of the hon. Member for Leith Burghs—as being the real remedy for the depopulation, is that the tenants in Scotland—the small holders—should get security of tenure so that they may be retained on the soil. If they had had that security of tenure they would have themselves put up the buildings, and the depopulation would not have taken place.
§ Mr. FALCONER
I am sorry to have transgressed the rule. All I desire to say is that, in the absence of security of tenure for the tenant, it is not possible to have any complete remedy. I cannot say I look forward to expenditure by any Board as being likely to be completely successful under the existing conditions, and therefore all the more do I desire that the Board or Department charged with the expenditure of this money shall be in direct touch with Scottish farming, and shall pursue this policy along the lines which have been laid down by the Government—that is, a Department of Agriculture for Scotland separate and independent.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down was on lines with which we are very familiar from that side of the House. It consisted in pointing out the evils of the social country life of Scotland with which we are all familiar, and then in assuming the benefit which the Government was going to confer on Scotland by remedying those evils. This Bill really deals with two sub- 1024 jects, which are practically distinct, and which have nothing in common. I am not going to say much about Part II., because if the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer really represents what would be done under this Bill, if it becomes law, then most of the objections which I felt on reading the Bill would be removed, but, for my part, I am strongly of opinion that to spend money on creating new motor roads at this stage of our proceedings would be extremely improper, and if I may be permitted to say so, in no controversial spirit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was entirely wrong when he said that that had been represented by the Leader of the Opposition. An hon. Friend has been kind enough to look up the paragraph in "The Times," and that had reference solely to the traffic problem of London, and had nothing to do with the general subject-matter of roads in the country. But I will say this in regard to this question of new roads—and I wish to mention it because it has not already been referred to—that it seems that any of us who are accustomed to use them can realise the enormous change which we see on our country roads, as compared with five or six years ago, but the difficulty really is in projecting ourselves so much in the near future as to realise that it is not improbable that within a short time it will be possible that horse traffic has almost disappeared from the country road, just as it is now disappearing from the London street, and therefore what is wanted is to suit existing roads to that new traffic and not to make new roads; but I will not dwell upon that subject.
I have just as strong an objection to the appointment of new officials and new Government departments as that which has been expressed. This Bill is like every Bill the Government introduce, and every proposal they make, whatever else it is going to do, it is going to produce a new swarm of officials. I cannot see what is the necessity of a new Board to deal with this new road question. The Local Government Board already has a great deal to do with the roads of the kingdom, and I must say that I see no reason why, instead of creating a new authority, that work should not be entrusted to the Local Government Board, and why they should not have an advisory board to assist them. But it is the first part of this Bill which chiefly interests me. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject was extremely 1025 interesting and extremely suggestive. I remember, for instance, that he mentioned casually as one of the results of this Bill, that we are going for the first time to step up and take our place among the other civilised countries of the world. He mentioned, also incidentally, a subject that I entirely agree with him upon but which I have never heard mentioned on those Benches before, that with all questions of this kind the market is the first consideration. Not only was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman interesting, but the Bill itself is interesting, and, indeed, I do not think that my right hon. Friend exaggerated when he said that from the point of view of principle we have very seldom had anything more important presented to the House of Commons for consideration. It means, in my opinion, a complete revolution in what for 60 years has been the economic policy of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman has been accused, and I think with some justice, of some experiments in the direction of Protection; but all these steps are absolutely without importance in comparison with the Bill which is now under consideration. They have dealt simply with branches. This Bill goes at once to the root of the whole question. If anyone were asked what is the distinctive characteristic of the fiscal policy of this country, the characteristic which distinguishes it from all the other civilised countries of the world, the answer would be that we trust for our trade, for our production, for development of the natural resources of the country, to individual effort, and we scorn and put aside all State assistance. If, for instance, anyone were to be asked what is the distinction between modern Germany and ourselves—the Germany whose policy was changed by Prince Bismarck, who, I was rather interested and somewhat amused to see by a speech of the President of the Board of Trade, is a far better judge as to what is going to add to the strength of the nation than the editor of the "Spectator"—it is that we trust entirely to individual competition, and that Germany trusts to individual competition, assisted by the cooperation of the State. That was put from the German point of view by Professor Schmoller, perhaps the greatest living economist, when he said that what created the wealth and superiority, in their turn, first of Florence and then of Genoa, then of Spain and Portugal, and later, of England and Holland, was that these countries had a national economic policy.
1026 The other view was expressed by Adam Smith, in words with which everyone is familiar, that the less we have to do in all business or trade the better with those insidious and crafty animals, vulgarly called statesmen. That used to be so, but we have changed all that. Under the present Government, so far, at least, as the devolpment of the resources of the country is concerned, we have now got to trust to that particular insidious, crafty animal, who happens to be at the Treasury at the time, and by whom the changes are made. It is evident, from what I have said, that with this change in policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I largely agree. I do believe that the State can do something, and must do more than it had done in the past, for the development of the natural resources of the country. Indeed, I will go further and say that, in my opinion, when Governments interfere in these matters they will make mistakes. They have constantly make mistakes, yet, in my opinion, for what it is worth, the greatest mistake they can possibly make is to assume that these are matters in which they have no concern, and in regard to which it is impossible for the State to do anything to help in the direction I have indicated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the fact that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin), like himself, does hold that something could be done, and ably done, in this direction by the State. He pointed out quite truly that the very words which are to be found in the Bill are taken from the report for which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon was responsible, and that the idea comes from him. Therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "All you object to is the machinery. I am shocked that you do not give your hearty support to this Bill." But that seems to me to be begging the whole question. On a subject of this kind the whole thing is machinery, and the method by which you are going to carry your objects cut. With the objects we can all agree. Why, I could go further than that, and say that with the objects and the platform speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade I can to a certain extent agree. I have a large agreement with his objects. I would like to see the millennium too, but, unfortunately, so fair as that is concerned, I believe that the road which the Government thinks leads there leads in an entirely opposite direction. In this connection I may be allowed to refer to a criticism 1027 which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made of my noble Friend behind me, which did not seem to me to be very effective. My noble Friend had spoken of Socialism, and the right hon. Gentleman said that he should at least read a dictionary to find out what it means. A dictionary is rather dry reading, and if my noble Friend wants a more interesting method of discovering what Socialism means, or at least half-baked Socialism, he will find it in the Lime-house and Leicester speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade.
Though I entirely approve of the objects, I am entirely opposed to the methods of this Bill, and therefore to this Bill. In the first place, I think there is a great deal in the statement which has been emphasised already, that the method by which this work is proposed to be done is a method which, more than any other you can conceive, leads in the direction of political corruption. That is my belief, and after the speech of the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) I do not think it is possible to leave the charge made by my noble Friend without some reference to it. In this connection let me say that I accept, at once and unreservedly, the statement that the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew nothing about the bargain. Let us look at the position of this matter. My noble Friend pointed out out that the leader of the Nationalist Party made a speech which was directed to justify the fact that they were supporting certain of the Budget provisions contained in this Bill saying he had reason to know and to believe that not in the dim and distant future, but within twelve months, out of the Development Grant money would be given for particular purposes in Ireland. That is the charge.
The hon. Member for Waterford is not present, but the hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) undertook a defence. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer listened to that defence he must have wished that he could be saved from his friends. The defence was, first of all, "even assuming that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made the promise there was no political corruption in it." I do not think it is necessary to say anything about that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that there was sufficient political corruption in it to jump up at once and refute it. The second defence was to say that my hon. 1028 Friend had good reason to believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to give this grant, and he produced a big volume of Hansard, and I thought he was going to read some speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which gave an indication that he looked favourably on that course, but what he did was to read a speech of the Leader of the Opposition made 20 years ago in order to prove that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going in twelve months to give part of the Development Fund to the Irish National Party in return for services rendered. I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) that the next word must rest with the hon. and gallant Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Louth is quite frank in these matters. He tells us that there are good square deals which are done openly in face of the House of Commons. There seem to be some slips about these deals. It was interesting to note the line taken by the hon. Member for Louth. It was a two-edged one, if I may use the expression about a line. In the first place he was certain that the Member for Waterford would be found to be right, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be found to be wrong. The other edge was "If he was not right, we will take care to make him right, and the right hon. Gentleman had better reconsider his decision, for on it depends much from the political point of view." I am bound to say I do not wish to press this corruption argument too far, because it is obvious that a grant of public money for any purpose can be said to be liable to some small extent to the same objection.
But when it is shown that there is any danger of corruption from the throwing down of a sum of money to be scrambled for by the public, and that the man who wins in the scramble is the man who can put on the most political pressure, and when anyone pretends that that is not corruption then I think that he is playing on the credulity of his hearers. I am perfectly ready to say here what I have often said before when advocating a cause with which I am interested. I never desire to minimise that objection to it, and I have always admitted that the possibility of a struggle of different interests is a difficulty in connection with a change in our fiscal system, and is a distinct objection taken by itself to that change, but I say that that is not in itself a sufficient ground for refusing to take steps which I believe are on other grounds absolutely essential. But 1029 let me point out the way in which possible corruption from this source is distinguished from this indiscriminate scramble. In the first place tariffs are not made every year; they are made to run at least ten years. [An Hon. MEMBER: "No."] I think so. I do not remember the dates, but I think if you take the German tariffs or the American tariffs, you will find they have lasted something like ten years. In addition to that, the scramble, or whatever you call it, the clash of different interests, is done openly, and everyone is cognisant of what is being done. [Cries of "Oh," and laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite smile at that. I can assure them they will find that I am perfectly right if they think about it. It is to be done by Parliament; the discussion has to take place in Parliament. But here that is not going to happen. This is put on the accommodation fund. The discussion takes place with the Minister, and not with the House of Commons. But there are two other reasons why, in my opinion, far too much is being made of this fear of corruption.
One applies to this proposal of the Government and to other dangers to which allusion has been made. After all, corruption is not in any country due to any one cause. We have had corruption in this country far worse than anything which exists now in the United States, but that corruption which prevailed under the protective system disappeared absolutely from this country long before the change was made in our fiscal system. It disappeared in consequence of a higher sense of responsibility. The other reason is, that if any tariff system for a country is made on anything approaching scientific lines, then the clashing of interests which can take place is reduced. There cannot be an indiscriminate scramble, and this, at least, can be said, that in the trade itself everyone is put in a position of exact equality. There is room for complete freedom and complete competition. [An Hon. MEMBER: "Question."] If I am not dealing with the question I am dealing with arguments which have been constantly put before us. I leave the question with this observation that in the United States, by admission of the evidence, corruption is gradually disappearing, and is much less than it was. In the whole Parliament of the States it is much less and by far the most remains in the State legislatures. The State legislatures have nothing whatever to do with tariffs; they have only to do with the kind of thing which is to be put in operation by the 1030 Bill under discussion. The other objection which I have to this Bill—and it is a very strong one—is what is the necessity for creating this new Government Department to deal with these matters? Every one of the subjects dealt with in this Bill could properly come under the authority of one or other of the Departments which exist in the State now. Why create a new Department? If by any chance this Bill were carried out in the form in which it now appears, there is not any Member of this House who does not know that if the Department were created it would soon become one of the most important Departments of the State.
We would then have a new right hon. Gentleman the President of the Development Grant. Surely there are enough gentlemen on that Bench already; surely there are enough Government Departments already, and if it is necessary to have these things done in the case of agriculture, the proper person to do them is the President of the Board of Agriculture; and if he is not fit for the post, and if he is necessary to go over the country making speeches, introducing political arguments, then in heaven's name get somebody else who is capable to do the work which should be done by the President. Anyone who listened to, as I have, the plain English of my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley knows that there is not one of those subjects but could be dealt with now if the Treasury were willing to grant the money. Look at the amount of money which is supposed to be spent—£500,000. We have already two very serious claims on it—the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann and afforestation—on more than the whole amount that is going to be allocated, but this Bill does not propose to deal with agriculture only. The right hon. Gentleman spoke as if there was nothing else in his mind but agriculture, but with the ten or a dozen children mentioned in this Bill as to get a share how much will be left for the Board of Agriculture. I do not think there is much need of talking, I have got a reputation of saying nasty things, and I do not wish to say them oftener than is necessary, but this I think true, that in this way the Bill means political corruption, that the whole object of the Bill is to put forward a programme by which they hope to win the next General Election.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Samuel Evans)
Throughout the hon. Member was going to lead up to a peroration, 1031 but it was short, it was sharp, land it was decisive. I will not follow him into that portion of his speech which becomes a periodical enjoyment to the House of Commons whenever there is any discussion upon which the hon. Gentleman can deliver a lecture upon Tariff Reform. At any rate, he has done one thing, he has minimised what has been said by many other speakers to be the great danger of political corruption arising by reason of legislation of this kind. He went to great pains to prove that although there might be a little political corruption under a measure of this kind, there could not be political corruption under a tariff with a Tariff Reform Government. I decline to go into those questions, as I conceive them entirely foreign to the subject under discussion. It is like King Charles's head to the hon. Gentleman, but we do not object, because it gives us interesting speeches. I gather that it is not King Charles's head he wants now, but the head of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, who, in moving rejection of this Bill, I think did not use the argument that this was in any sense a Protective Bill. Neither he nor anybody who understands what Protection is would say that because you give a grant for technical instruction or a technical school throughout the country that therefore you are guilty of embarking upon a protective system of taxation.
There is nothing savouring of Protection in this Bill at all. Let me come to the Bill itself. I think the Government have reason to congratulate themselves upon the measure of acceptance which they have had to this proposal. It has been accepted, not only from our own side of the House but by those who have spoken on behalf of Scotland, and those who have spoken on behalf of Ireland, and also by the hon. Member for Glasgow, who spoke on behalf of the Labour Party. I may say that the divided counsels among the Opposition might very well be considered to give a great deal of encouragement to the Government in this matter, because, what do we find? We find that on various provisions of the Bill, while one hon. Gentleman is against them, the right hon. Gentleman sitting beside him strongly supports them. For instance, the second part of the Bill deals with the improvement of roads, and in some cases the construction of new roads for motor traffic. The right hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin) said that 1032 that was the portion of the Bill against which he protested most strongly, and he gave various reasons why he could not support it; while the hon. Member beside him (Mr. Bonar Law) said that after the Chancellor of the Exchequer's explanation he was entirely in favour of that part of the measure.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I said nothing of the kind. All I said was that my main objection to making new roads was removed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
That was the hon. Gentleman's only objection, as I understand, except to the creation of the Road Board. Therefore I was right in assuming that the hon. Gentleman did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman beside him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has explained exactly the intention of this provision. It was never the intention of the Government to cover the country with these new and expensive roads for motor cars. The first object of the Government was in the interests of the safety of the community, to improve the present roads by, where necessary, widening them, getting rid of sharp curves, and altering those conditions which now make the passage of motor cars so dangerous. As part of those proceedings, it is natural that the Government should take power to make "loop" roads, or to divert existing roads in order to avoid populous centres. With reference to the claims which have been put forward on behalf of Ireland and Scotland, I think it is very much better to leave the matter without fixing any part limits. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out that in the case of Ireland the amount of the motor and petrol taxes may be very small, and that motors do not use and to a great extent destroy the roads exclusively in the district where they will pay the tax. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Bonar Law), in objecting to the creation of a Road Board, said he was against new swarms of officials. There will not be a swarm of officials under this Road Board. The only alternative, if this part of the Bill became an Act, would be to give the powers and functions of the proposed Road Board to the Local Government Board, who, I think the hon. Gentleman on reflection will agree, have quite enough to do at present.
The main criticism in connection with the administration of the Development Fund has been upon the machinery. There 1033 will be no devolution from the purview of Parliament of the duties entrusted to the Treasury, and to the Advisory Committees in this matter. Parliament will retain its full hold upon everything, including this £2,500,000 per annum, for the first five years. It is necessary to remember that this is, so to speak, a central fund, which is now to be created for the purpose of putting into force these provisions. It may be an expensive matter for the purpose of purchasing land, or some similiar purpose at the beginning of the scheme. With regard to this £2,500,000 there will be the fullest return made to Parliament according to the express provisions of this Bill. With regard to the Public Accounts Committee everybody knows that the report of that Committee comes up for discussion every year. The discussion will be a check upon the local authorities who will have the administration of these funds. As to the other portion of the money which is obtainable, the House will see by reference to Clause 2, paragraph (a), that they are: "Such moneys as may from time to time be provided by Parliament for the purposes of this part of the Act." Any moneys provided under that provision must come by way of estimate before the House of Commons in the first instance in the ordinary course. Let me point out what the control will be for spending this money. I may also deal at the same time with the arguments of the hon. Gentleman that this money ought to be, as I understand him, given to one particular department like the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. The scheme of the Bill is this: The initiation of any expenditure under this Bill is with a Government department from whom the request will come to the Treasury. The Treasury will examine it. They will have their Advisory Committee. They will consider the report of the Advisory Committee, and then the Treasury will allow the expenditure to be made through the Department which has initiated the proposal.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
It comes, in the first instance, through a Government Department. If it is a matter dealing with agriculture the Board of Agriculture will initiate it, and will themselves put the matter before the Treasury. The Treasury themselves are the authority to appoint the Advisory Committee.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I will read the first three lines: "The Treasury may from time to time, after considering any representations which may be made to them by an advisory committee constituted under this Act."
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
"May make advances to or through a Government Department." On the representations of the Advisory Committee—a committee that is to be appointed by the Treasury. As the Noble Lord will see under Clause 3 of the Bill, "The Treasury shall appoint one or more advisory committees." Then only after the report and representation of that Committee will the Treasury sanction the expenditure. The Advisory Committee is not a department at all. [Lord R. CECIL: "Hear, hear."] The departments are the departments in whose province the expenditure will take place. If it is the Board of Agriculture it will be that Department; if the Board of Trade it will be that Department.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
It does come from them. It is intended to come from them to the Treasury. The Advisory Committee are the people, when the matter has been initiated, to advise the Treasury as to whether or not it should be allowed. The main point of the speech made by the Noble Lord the Member for Chorley (Lord Balcarres) was that, it was not necessary to have an Act of Parliament at all in order to pay money to these matters which are in course of being done. The Noble Lord pointed out that several of the objects that are expressed here in the first part and which have been approved, almost without exception by every speaker in this Debate, were objects which could be achieved, as he rather hinted, at any rate in a large measure, by the Departments as they at present exist, and by certain other associations. First of all, that is not so, because if the House will look at "Forestry," for instance, in the first clause they will see it is "Forestry, including the purchase and planting of land." The noble Lord passed rather 1035 lightly over these words; he merely made reference to a purchase made by one Government Department—the Department of Woods and Forests—in the interests of forestry, somewhere in Scotland. Without the provisions of this Bill it would not be possible, to any extent, to acquire land for the purposes of carrying out the object of the statement in the first Clause of the Bill. The Department of Woods and Forests, no doubt, by funds at their disposal to the extent of £20,000 or £30,000 or £35,000, could buy an estate, but the provision here is for the purchase of land for Forestry. The noble Lord referred to the case of Rothamsted. I believe there is no one in this House on whatever side he sits who will say that although there are good institutions in various parts of this country these institutions are as numerous or as powerful from the point of view of funds as they ought to be. Rothamsted was, I believe, started by Sir John Gorst. Everyone knows that the work done there, although extremely good, has been crippled enormously by want of funds, and even with regard to that institution we should be able, under the provisions of this Bill, is grant funds to extend its work. What is the objection to this measure? It is to be found in the peroration of the hon. and learned Member's speech. He does not want us to put into the forefront the very objects we have in view. Let me remind the House of the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When he dealt in his Budget speech with the contribution for this Development Fund, he was asked and was pressed to put the provisions for the administration of that fund into a separate Bill. He rightly conceded that request, and now, when that has been done, the complaint comes from the other side that we are dealing with this matter in a Bill instead of developing the various Departments and encouraging them to spend the money. The question which has been foremost in the minds of most people in discussing the first part of this Bill to-night is undoubtedly the question of agriculture.
As has already been pointed out that is not the only question with which the Treasury, the Advisory Committee, and the Department will be called upon to deal. When we are dealing with agriculture we are met with the extraordinary advance made in other countries and with the extraordinary fact that this country has always been far behind other countries in 1036 developing agriculture. Reference has been made by the hon. Member for Forfar-shire to the depopulation of various parts of Scotland. I could prove by a reference to the reports of various Commissions that one of the effects in Denmark of the policy with which this Bill is concerned has been to stop depopulation in country districts, and has actually increased the number of people brought up on the land. That is a matter which we all have very much at heart, and therefore I think we are doing well in following the example of Denmark, America, and various other of our own Colonies. The case for this Bill is capable of a much fuller development, but I will conclude by saying that I think the Government are fully justified in bringing forward this Bill in the support it has already received, and they are justified in expecting the assistance of hon. Members in all parts of the House to carry this measure through and placing it on the Statute Book before the end of the Session.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to say a few words before we go to a division from the point of view of one of the Members for the City of London. The right hon. Gentleman will probably tell me that there is no agriculture in the City of London, but there is another thing there, and that is finance, and it is from the financial point of view that I desire to say something upon this Bill. Unless there is finance, however able and clever the right hon. Gentleman may be, he will not be able to carry out his Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Louth was a little unhappy because he thought very little money would be raised by this tax in Ireland, and therefore Ireland would not get very much in return. The right hon. Gentleman has already stated that the greater part of the money will come from London, and I can assure the hon. and learned Member for Louth that if he will use the power he and his colleagues below the Gangway possess with a little judgment London will go to the wall, and the money raised in London will go to securing the support of hon. Members below the Gangway. The right hon. Gentleman has promised to give us new roads for old ones. That reminds me of the "Arabian Nights," where we had "new lamps for old." I have been a great number of years in the City, and I have read a great many prospectuses, but I have never read such an absurd prospectus as that issued by the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. What does it amount to? 1037 Everything is going to be changed. There is going to be a new world, and the economic development of the Kingdom is going to be carried out for £500,000.
Anyone who has been in the position of the right hon. Gentleman might have known it is quite impossible to carry out a new economical development of the United Kingdom for such a small sum as £500,000. An hon. Member told us earlier in the evening that before a start is made of afforestation something like £150,000 a year must be spent on the drainage of the Bann and the Barrow. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool informed us that the Bann was in the North of Ireland. I may acquaint him with the fact that it is in the South of Ireland, and therefore his criticism that it was only the Unionists who were going to gain falls to the ground, because the Nationalists, too, will benefit. I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer interrupted and said this drainage scheme would cost three or four millions sterling. May I call attention to the fact that when alluding to an assertion by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that he knew money was going to be given out of this grant towards the development of the Bann and Barrow drainage scheme, the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared he had never authorised any such statement. This evening the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) had told us that ha does not attach much importance to the exact words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he believes the money will ultimately be given for that purpose, it is in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to give it, because all these things will be settled by the Treasury, and settled as if an Act of Parliament had been passed authorising the doing of that particular thing. Why do the Government not at once pass an Act of Parliament providing that every Cabinet Minister in his own Department shall be authorised to do anything and everything he pleased, as if an Act of Parliament had been passed giving him authority for that particular purpose?
It would simplify matters very much indeed. They could bring such a Bill down to the House, and force it through by means of the guillotine. The first stage could be abbreviated by the mere publication of a Memorandum in the Press, preference being given to the "Westminster Gazette" a day each could be allotted for 1038 the Second Reading and the Committee stage, a day could be set apart for amendments and fresh clauses to be put in by the Government, and finally there might be a day for the Report stage and the Third Reading. Then Parliament could prorogue. There would be no need for Members to stay, as the Departments, being all the power, would spend the money just as if an Act of Parliament had been passed authorising them to do so. I do not know if that is the course pursued in Denmark; it certainly does appear to be the aim of the Government here. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by suggesting that my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) had only been here one session—I presume he meant one Parliament—or he would have known more about the procedure of the House of Commons, and he would have been aware that it was not customary for the Minister in charge of a Bill to make his Second Heading speech at the beginning of the Debate, but that he usually rose later on. The right hon. Gentleman instanced what had taken place in regard to the Education Bill and the Licensing Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to tell my Noble Friend that on each of these Bills there was a full discussion on the First. Reading, whereas in the case of this Bill there was none.
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what price he thinks Consols will be when he has obtained for himself unlimited powers to spend not only this £500,000, but any sum he can extract from a docile majority for the economic development of the United Kingdom. I should think the price would be nearer 60 than 80. This reminds me that at the half-yearly meeting of the London and Westminster Bank the other day, the Chairman informed the shareholders that the Directors had taken the opportunity of disposing of a large amount of Consols. Hon. Members opposite laugh at that, but do they know what must happen if this sort of thing goes on? I venture to tell the right hon. Gentleman that he will find nobody willing to invest their money in Home securities. People will not buy stocks of this sort if there is to be an unlimited power to provide money for hungry applicants. Hon. Members laughed when it was suggested that this policy would lead to corruption, and the hon. and learned Member for Louth said nothing of the sort had occurred in Ireland, although similar schemes had been in operation there for years. But nothing 1039 of the sort is in force in Ireland, or it would be quite impossible for the Treasury to exercise—as they do to-day—the power of seeing that the money granted is spent carefully. When my Noble Friend spoke of corruption, what he alluded to was this. There might be two candidates before a constituency. One said to the electors, "I will obtain for you a large sum of money from this grant." The other one said "I do not know. The funds of the country are in a parlous state, and although I should like to see these works undertaken I do not think there is any pressing necessity for them."
Thus candidates might be found outbidding one another. That, I think, is bound to occur. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale), or any other Irish Unionist Member to go to Ireland and announce an intention to vote against this Bill. There you have another illustration of the manner in which Members and candidates may outbid one another; again, the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing), got up and said, "I am not for corruption." No one ever suspected he was, out of his own pocket. A learned judge once said that bribery out of one's own pocket was both expensive and illegal, but now it is to be done out of somebody else's pocket it is inexpensive and legal. But the hon. Baronet talked about his own constituency, and when there was a great cheer, his natural sharpness told him he had gone a little bit too far. He therefore spoke of some society for collecting hens and eggs which he thought should be established in Northamptonshire. I do not know whether his idea was that the society or the Treasury should pay for the hens and eggs. He said he was against afforestation, and naturally he was, because he thought the production of hens and eggs would be more useful to that district. Then comes the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Munro Ferguson), who is wholly for afforestation, and he disagreed with the hon. Baronet (Sir Francis Channing), and claimed that it shall be dealt with first. So that three hon. Members have defended this Bill and have denied any desire for corruption, and one after another admitted that what they wanted was something for their constituencies. That is what we, on this side of the House, are afraid of when the Bill becomes law.
1040 There is, in the first Clause of this Bill, a variety of subjects commencing with agriculture, harbours, and canals, and finishing with economic development of the United Kingdom, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his defence, never said a single word about anything but agriculture. The reason was that the right hon. Gentleman finds the development of agriculture will be rather popular at the moment, as the Small Holdings Act has failed, and it is necessary to introduce some popular measure to gain the votes of the agricultural labourers. I venture, therefore, to say that the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing), will be again deceived, and he will find, if this Bill becomes law, that the money to be devoted to agriculture will be so small that it will be hardly worth receiving, because he does not suppose, and the constituents of hon. Members who have harbours, or canals, or the need of economic development will be satisfied if the money is given to agriculture. I do not believe that there is a constituency in England, Wales, Ireland or Scotland, not excluding the City of London, which could not bring in a claim for economic development. Consequently, there will be a very small sum left for agriculture. In regard to motor roads, it is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he only means to round off corners and to do matters of that sort, but he gave a little slip, because he said he was going to connect one town with another, and he may have to make a road for twenty or thirty miles. My hon. Friend wanted to know what he wanted with a road 440 yards wide, and even Cabinet Ministers do not know what is in the Bill, because the President of the Local Government Board on the Housing and Town Planning Bill contradicted us when we said the space was to be 220 yards on each side, but that is in the Bill. It says 220 yards on each side from the centre of the road. What is going to happen to a quarter of a mile road, a quarter of a mile wide?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
Sub-section (1) does not say every street is to be 440 yards wide. It is only when they think fit that the Board may acquire land within 220-yards from the middle of the road.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is what I com-plain of. All these powers are given when they think fit. We have to put our trust in the Treasury to do just exactly what 1041 the Treasury pleases. We have to open our mouths and see what plum the Treasury is going to put in, and in our opinion the Treasury will not put any plum in at all, but a pill with a very disagreeable flavour. In the name of common-sense may I ask the right hon. Gentleman, the leading financial authority in the House, what he expects to get from 220 yards on each side of the road down which a motor car may go without any limit of speed and on which no other traffic is allowed? I alluded to the prospectus of Mr. Hooley and Baron Grant. Of Baron Grant it was said:—Titles a king can give, but honour can't.Rank without honour is a barren grant.Neither of these two gentlemen would put such an absurd proposal before the public even in the days of the South Sea Bubble, which, apparently, we are going back to, as to suppose that 220 yards on either side of a motor road, where no other traffic can go, would be of the slightest use to anyone. If he thinks he will get any money for that I am afraid he will be deceived.
There is an industry in this country the invested funds of which amount to £1,300,000,000, or nearly double the National Debt—being a large industry, it does not appeal to the sympathies of hon. Members opposite—the railway industry. There is a large number of shareholders in railway companies, and I hope they will take note of the treatment which the light hon. Gentleman has meted out. He has brought in a Bill which will allow him at his sole dictation to take away the property of any railway company, to fix a price by Treasury officials, to over-ride an Act of Parliament, and even if he does not do that, to start new roads in competition with the railways. I did not expect hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to object to that; I thought they would be pleased. There are a. large number of investors who do not share that notion. If I were to take the hon. Member's watch from his pocket he would not like it. Railway companies obtain their lands under Acts of Parliament, and they are put under serious obligations to carry out their undertakings. That having been done, they are going to be met by State-aided competition. It does not apply only to motor cars but also to light railways. We have the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) that large sums of money are going to be spent in buying up 1042 the railways in Ireland. That, apparently, means that the railways of Ireland are to be nationalised. I consider that is very unfair treatment for people concerned, and I hope they will note what the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government are doing for them. The Bill provides that the interest on the money borrowed by the Road Board shall not exceed £200,000. There is no period stated for the repayment of the money. That may be an error of the draftsman in the same way as he made a mistake in regard to grocers' licences. The capital sum represented by interest amounting to £200,000, taking the rate at 3¼ per cent., would be about £6,000,000. Therefore this sum is smuggled in, and nobody would know anything about it unless he made a little calculation. That money is all going to be borrowed. We were told four or five years ago that the first thing the Radical party would do would be to get rid of the system of raising money by loans. I have carefully read Sub-section (2) of Clause 11, and I cannot make head or tail of it. It says:—
"If and so far as the road improvement grant is insufficient to meet the amount required for the payment of interest on and the repayment of principal in any year, that amount shall be charged on and payable out of the Consolidated Fund or the growing produce thereof, but any sums so paid out of the Consolidated Fund shall be made good out of the road improvement grant."
So far as I can make out, the Consolidated. Fund is going to be charged under certain circumstances. I am not at all sure that the Road Board are bound to return the money to the Treasury at all. Will the-Chancellor of the Exchequer inform me what is to happen? For the reasons I have given I felt it my duty to protest against what I conceive to be one of the worst Bills ever brought in by this or any other Government, as the result would be to injure the credit of the country, to produce any amount of corruption in the constituencies and to-do good to nobody.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 25.1043
|Division No. 599.]||AYES.||[12.30 a.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Fullerton, Hugh||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Agnew, George William||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Glendinning, R. G.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Glover, Thomas||Nuttall, Harry|
|Ashton, Thomas Gain||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Partington, Oswald|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Gulland, John W.||Pointer, Joseph|
|Barker, Sir John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Radford, G. H.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Beale, W. P.||Hedges, A. Paget||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Higham, John Sharp||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Holland, Sir William Henry||Seely, Colonel|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hudson, Walter||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Jowett, F. W.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Toulmin, George|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Laidlaw, Robert||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Cooper, G. J.||Lamont, Norman||Verney, F. W.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Waring, Walter|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Crooks, William||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Crossley, William J.||Lupton, Arnold||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Lyell, Charles Henry||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lynch, H. B.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Maclean, Donald||Williamson, Sir Archibald)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||M'Callum, John M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Massie, J.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Elibank, Master of||Mond, A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Joseph Pease and Sir Edward Strachey.|
|Falconer, James||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morse, L. L.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Clive, Percy Archer||Percy, Earl|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Craik, Sir Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doughty, Sir George||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Younger, George|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Keswick, William|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Frederick Banbury and Mr. Peel.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1044
§ The House divided: Ayes, 137; Noes, 17.1045
|Division No. 600.]||AYES.||[12.40 a.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Boland, John||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)|
|Agnew, George William||Bryce, J. Annan||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dobson, Thomas W.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Duckworth, Sir James|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Byles, William Pollard||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cleland, J. W.||Elibank, Master of|
|Banner, John S. Harmood||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Evans, Sir S. T|
|Barker, Sir John||Cooper, G. J.||Falconer, J.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Beale, W. P.||Crean, Eugene||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John|
|Beauchamp, E.||Crooks, William||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Crossley, William J.||Glover, Thomas|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Cullinan, J.||Grayson, Albert Victor|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Guest, Hon, Ivor Churchill|
|Gulland, John W.||Lynch, H. B.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Maclean, Donald||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Hazleton, Richard||M'Callum, John M.||Seely, Colonel|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Massie, J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Masterman, C. F. G.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Mond, A.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Toulmin, George|
|Hogan, Michael||Morse, L. L.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Verney, F. W|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)||Waring, Walter|
|Hudson, Walter||Norman, Sir Henry||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Nuttall, Henry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Jowett, E W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Keating, M.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Lamont, Norman||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Partington, Oswald||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Pointer, J.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Radford, G. H.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Lupton, Arnold||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Joseph Pease and Sir E. Strachey.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Clive, Percy Archer||Percy, Earl|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craik, Sir Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Doughty, Sir George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Keswick, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Robert Cecil and Viscount Morpeth.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That the Bill be referred to a Committee of the whole House."—[Mr. Chaplin]1046
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 21; Noes, 128.1047
|Division No. 601.]||AYES.||[12.45 a.m.|
|Agnew, George William||Craik, Sir Henry||Percy, Earl|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doughty, Sir George||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Younger, George|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Keswick, William|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Clive, Percy Archer|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cleland, J. W.||Falconer, James|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cooper, G. J.||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Glover, Thomas|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Crean, Eugene||Grayson, Albert Victor|
|Barker, Sir John||Crooks, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Barnard, E. B.||Crossley, William J.||Guest, Hon, Ivor Churchill|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cullinan, J.||Gulland, John W.|
|Beale, W. P.||Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Berridge, T. H. D||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Healy, T. M. (Louth, North)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dobson, Thomas W.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Boland, John||Duckworth, Sir James||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Byles, William Pollard||Elibank, Master of||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Hogan, Michael|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Micklem, Nathaniel||Seely, Colonel|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Mond, A.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Hudson, Walter||Money, L. G Chiozza||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Morse, L. L.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Keating, Matthew||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)||Toulmin, George|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Norman, Sir Henry||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Nuttall, Harry||Verney, F. W.|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid)||Waring, Walter|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Lupton, Arnold||Parker, James (Halifax)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Partington, Oswald||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lynch, H. B||Pointer, Joseph||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Maclean, Donald||Radford, G. H.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire N.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, E.)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Massie, J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Joseph Pease and Sir Edward|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Strachey.|