§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question (10th February), "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[Mr. Walter Roch.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Another Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words,
§ "But humbly regrets that no legislation is foreshadowed to restore the credit and security of land and house property which has been undermined by the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, and by recent public utterances of Ministers suggesting further land legislation based on the Report of a secret and partisan Committee, thus causing the withdrawal of capital, a shortage in the supply of houses and cottages for the working classes, serious loss to the building and allied trades, an arrest of agricultural development, and a check to the natural rise in labourers' wages."— [Mr. Royds.]
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROYDS
I rise to move this Amendment. Land is our greatest national asset, and the undermining of the credit and security of land is in itself a national calamity. I am convinced that the land policy of the present Government has tended greatly to impair the credit and security of land. To this loss of credit I attribute the withdrawal of capital from land which, in the case of building land and builders, has resulted in a shortage of houses, amounting almost to a famine, and in the case of agricultural land has created a feeling of insecurity among owners and occupiers which militates against the interests of 801 agriculturists — owners, tenants, and labourers; and it is occurring just at a time when all those engaged in agriculture would, with the better outlook, naturally desire to put fresh capital and new energy in the industry. I also think that the recent utterances of Ministers threatening further land legislation have further affected the credit and security of land and aggravated the situation. To put the matter bluntly, I think that the present Government are responsible, largly responsible, for the acuteness of our housing problem, and also for the insecurity that exists at the present time among the owners and occupiers of agricultural land. Having made that proposition, I will at once endeavour to prove it to the best of my ability, and I will take the housing question first. In order to understand the housing question and the cause of the shortage of houses, the first matter to inquire into is: Who are the owners at the present time of cottages and small houses, and who have made their investments in cottages and small houses in the past? That answer is easily supplied. The hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield, in the last Session of Parliament, put the value of cottage property in this country at about £875,000,000. I do not think he was very far wrong. He stated that of that property at least £650,000,000, and possibly £700,000,000, belonged to persons who are possessed of under £5,000. That means that the housing of the artisan and working classes has, in fact, been largely provided by themselves and by their own savings. That is made more plain when we look at the Somerset House returns showing of what the estates of persons dying in any one year consist. On the average, in the case of those leaving under £1,000, nearly 40 per cent. of their property consists of land and house property, mainly small cottage property. Of persons dying and leaving £5,000, 35 per cent. of their property consists of land and cottage property. That means that practically the whole of the savings of the artisan and working classes—the savings of the small investor—have, in the past, been invested in cottage property, because the rest of their estates consists very largely of money in the Savings Bank and of furniture, and so forth. In fact, the invested portion of estates of persons dying and leaving that small amount of property consists almost solely of land and houses—mainly small cottage pro- 802 perty. These are the persons who have, in the past, supplied the capital for providing houses for the working classes. When you come to the larger estates, those of persons leaving £50,000 or thereabouts, and these, of course, include those who left property consisting of nothing but land—only 6 per cent. is the proportion of their property which consists of land or house property.
Having dealt with the persons who have provided the money for cottage property in the past, I think the next question to be inquired into is why those persons are not providing the money now. It is admitted, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not deny, that there is a most serious shortage of cottage property at the present time, and that very few houses are being built. The only point is: Who is responsible for that shortage, and how has it arisen? By whom are cottages built in the first place? They are erected very largely by speculative builders, who, in point of fact, have in the past, housed 90 per cent. of the population. Ninety-seven per cent. of the population have been housed by private enterprise. It is clear that it is to private enterprise we must look in the future to house the population it having housed 97 per cent. in the past. I propose next to give the figures showing what is the shortage of houses at the present time. Up to the date when this present Government came into office, in 1906, the average increase in the number of houses under and over £20 annual value per year in this country was 135,000; that is the average for seven years. This Government has been in office seven years, or rather more, and the average has fallen during that period from 135,000 to 85,000–that is a loss of 50,000 a year.
§ Mr. ROYDS
I will let the hon. Member look at my figures when I have concluded my speech. I am giving the average for seven years. If I were to give the figures for every year, it would bore the House to distraction. I am, therefore, taking a, short cut to the point at which I wish to arrive. The deficiency since this Government have been in office, has averaged 803 50,000 a year, and if you multiply that by seven years you arrive at the present deficiency of 350,000 houses and cottages. I should say that about two-thirds of these are small cottages and houses under the value of £20 a year. Since the passing of the Finance Act, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer named the "People's Budget," we have had returns for three years, and the average return for those three years is not even 85,000, which is the average for the whole seven years since the Government have been in office—it is only 61,000. I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday what the increase was in the number of houses built for the year ending March, 1913–and the answer was 56,000, so that instead of getting better we are getting worse. This year, five years after the introduction of the "People's Budget," we have a smaller increase in the number of houses, even than the average for the past three years. Again, we are getting worse instead of better. The Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head, but I am quite sure my figures are absolutely correct.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I am not challenging the general figures of the hon. Gentleman, but, as he has taken notice of my dissent, I will point out that there has been an improvement in the last two or three years. His point was that it is a gradual diminution; I say, on the contrary, there is a recovery.
§ Mr. ROYDS
I take exception to that altogether. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says there has been a gradual improvement. I did not say there had been a gradual diminution. What actually happened was this: In the year after the passing of the "People's Budget" there was a very big drop indeed. The figures went down to 36,000; the next year the number rose, I think, to something between 80,000 and 90,000. This year it is small again—56,000. I remember the President of the Local Government Board, speaking on the housing question, said: "We have got 80,000 houses built this year," and he added, "The rot has been stopped," or something to that effect, referring, of course, to the falling off occasioned by the "People's Budget." But it has not been stopped. Since the last report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue came out it has been ascertained that the returns for the year, after the 804 "People's Budget," could not be relied on, because a very considerable number of houses were not returned for Inhabited House Duty; therefore, you have to group these two years together—the first year and the second year—in order to ascertain how many houses were built in those two-years and what the real effect of the "People's Budget" was; and in the third year after that has been done, you find that the number has gone down still further—to 56,000. Since the Government has been in office this country has sustained a loss of 350,000 houses, and a loss of 221,000 houses has occurred since the passing of the "People's Budget."
I do not rely alone on the figures I have quoted, although I think they are sufficiently startling. If you turn to the Registrar-General's Report on the Census for 1911, what do you find? You find that the proportion of unoccupied houses to inhabited houses was lower at the time of the Census than it had been on the occasion of any of the four preceding censuses. The Registrar-General further says that the proportion of the number of new houses built to inhabited houses was less, than it had been on the occasion of any preceding Census, and that takes us back to ten years before the Battle of Waterloo. The Report of the Registrar-General says-that the percentage of houses being built to those inhabited only amounted in. 1911 to about 5 per thousand, it has never been so low before; it has never been lower than 7.0–that in 1861, and it has generally been 9.0 or 10.0. This bears out my statement that such a state of affairs as exists at the present time has never existed for the past 115 years—since we have had censuses taken. There must be something very extraordinary and exceptional to account for this. I have frequently addressed questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked me just now where I got my figures from. My reply is that I have obtained them from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have asked him if he can account for this very serious shortage since the passing of the Finance Act, 1910. On several occasions he invited me to defer the question. At last I got an answer, and, in it, he told me that he attributed the shortage in the year after the passing of the measure, to-the fact that it was the year for re-assessment for rating purposes. I inquired of him when was the previous year for such re-assessment, and he told me 1903–1904. 805 I turn to the figures for that year, and I find that in that twelve months there were more houses built than usual.
I then asked the right hon. Gentleman if it was not an absolute record shortage of house building for a period of 15 years, that being the whole period with which I had dealt. His answer was that it was a record for the period of 15 years, but, if I would go further back, I would find that there was one year in which there was a smaller shortage of houses, namely, 1893–4. I turned to that year and I found that the figures were much the same for that year as for the year after the passing of the "People's Budget." I could not understand it, so I did what any man would do who wanted to get direct information, I wrote to a dozen builders who I knew erected this class of property, and asked why they were not building cottages in the year 1893–4. They all answered to practically the same effect. "Why," they said, "don't you know that was the year of the failure of the great Liberator Building Society?" The credit of land was generally destroyed, banks smashed, numbers of other societies were dragged down, there was a panic in the building trade, and the building of cottage property was arrested. That is the only year that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to point out to me as comparable with the year after the passing of the "People's Budget." I regret to say that matters have not yet recovered. The credit of land has not recovered since the passing of that measure as it did after the failure of the Liberator Building Society. Matters are in as bad, or even a worse condition now than they were in the first year after that measure was passed. I suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should inquire of builders as to the cause of the shortage of cottages, and why they were not building cottages now. I do not know whether he has done so. He did not tell me that he had done so, so I thought the best plan was to do again what I did on the former occasion and inquire myself, so I addressed an inquiry to a very large number of builders. The question I put to them was this:—Have the Budget Land Taxes affected the building trade in your district?[Laughter.] Is there anything wrong in that?If so, kindly state as briefly as you can, the effect.That is a perfectly straightforward question. All these gentlemen were perfectly unknown to me. I have replies from 500 806 of them from all parts of the country, and I have the 500 printed replies here. These replies are all practically and substantially to the same effect. Perhaps the best plan would be for me to read two of them as a sample. I would tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this is not a secret inquiry like his own; this is all perfectly fair and above board. Of course, I cannot disclose publicly the names of these unfortunate people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] If hon. Members will wait until I finish my sentence I do not think they will jeer at it. It is impossible to disclose publicly the names of all the persons making these replies, because many of them say that, in consequence of the "People's Budget," they are on the verge of bankruptcy, but all these replies will be printed, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or anyone he may appoint, will be at liberty to see the originals of these replies if he doubts their authenticity. I take these two quite at random. There is one from Rochester. I addressed the question to the builder which I have read to the House. He answers:—The provisional valuation scheme has destroyed credit and frightened mortgagees. I know of some instances where the builder has not been able to transfer his mortgage and had to hand over the property. In my own case I have discharged my men except a painter and a labourer. I have building ground standing idle, although bricks are on the ground and woodwork made. And I am paying Undeveloped Lund Duty upon the land. But I will not build until this ruinous taxation is altered. In the whole of this city I do not think there are a dozen cottages under construction. Slum property cannot be dealt with under the Town Planning Act because there are no cottages for the people to go to.Number 2 is from Leicester. He says:—We consider the Land Taxes have seriously affected the general house-building trade, because the values of the official valuer have had a depressing and unnerving influence on the builder and on the owners of property. Values of 20 per cent. less than cost are usual from the valuer here. …It appears they have been in the habit of valuing this property very much below its cost price.This has had a distressing effect upon the investing public, who for some years have shunned property, and have not yet recovered. Its effect is entirely to upset all confidence in the property market.I cannot do more than that. I want to get at the bottom of this thing, because I look upon the housing question as something apart from party politics. I had always taken the deepest interest in the housing question before I entered the House of Commons, and for at least twenty-five years before. I always have thought, and still think, that the land legislation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do great harm to the credit 807 of land. I knew that the first people it must affect were those who wanted small cottage property, because I knew that the small investor was the person who had always found the money for this particular property in the past. The effect of this is that we are approaching a house famine. The figures I have given are up to March last. I wanted to get the figures up to date so far as I could, so I inquired of the proper officials, town clerks and so forth, of forty of the largest towns in England as to what was the number of uninhabited houses at the present time. The position is this, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will pay attention to it.
§ Mr. ROYDS
I attach tremendous importance to the state of affairs, because undoubtedly, unless something is done by the end of next year, there will hardly be an empty house in the whole of England. This information shows that in 1901 in these forty towns there were 65,000 uninhabited houses. In 1911 the number went down to 47,740, and in 1913–about six months ago—it went down to 24,000. If they go down in the same proportion next year there will not only be not an uninhabited house in these towns, but there will be an actual deficiency of houses altogether for the people to live in. In view of the figures the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave me last night, I think it is a most alarming state of affairs. What does it mean? It means that we are driving the population into these insanitary and back-to-back dwellings. There are no other houses for them to occupy. We cannot make our slum clearances because there are no houses in which to put the people while we are doing it. That is the state of affairs. I did not wish the House only to take it from me personally that the legislation of this Government is responsible for that state of affairs. I wanted to give the best evidence I could, and it was for that reason I applied to these builders and town officials, and I think the answers are absolutely conclusive. The only thing I see that can possibly be done to remedy the state of affairs is to restore the credit and the security of the land, and how can that be restored but by repealing the measure that destroyed it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer smiles at that. I shall be very interested to hear what he has to say on the subject. I know perfectly well that the right hon. Gentle- 808 man himself said, "I am going to build you 120,000 houses out of my insurance reserve." As private enterprise has housed the population in the past, I want to know how much the provision of the 120,000 houses by the State will tend to encourage private enterprise in the future. It will absolutely stop it altogether.
It is not only 120,000 houses that we want; we want at least 200,000 or 250,000 to make up the arrears, and we want 120,000 houses besides built every year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has deprived the people of these hundreds of thousands of houses. I credit the right hon. Gentleman in regard to his "People's Budget" with sincerely desiring to benefit the people, but he was hopelessly mistaken, and he has proved to have been mistaken up to the hilt, and I think the best thing he can do now, if he has the interests of the people at heart, is to recognise and admit his mistake, and remedy it to the best of his ability by repealing that disastrous measure. My hon. Friends on this side of the House have very properly introduced Housing Bills to meet this state of affairs, and have deemed them very necessary. I admit that they are necessary, because something must be done to cope with the state of affairs the Chancellor of the Exchequer has created. In these Bills they have provided for private enterprise being encouraged, and for the local authority also stepping in, which is necessary in this emergency. It is because of this state of affairs that these Bills are necessary at all. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes down and says he is going to provide 120,000 houses, and the State is going to pay for them, he quite forgets requests made by myself and other Members on this side of the House that private enterprise should be encouraged, and private owners placed on something like the same footing with regard to State loans as public bodies now stand. The answer we have always received has been, "No, we cannot lend you more than a certain amount," or "We cannot lend it to you except at a higher rate of interest, because there is not sufficient security." There is not sufficient security when we offer a margin and the security of an individual, but apparently there is no objection to the Chancellor of the Exchequer under his own scheme taking the whole risk and finding the whole of the money merely on the security of the houses themselves. I shall be very interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say on that point. I 809 know what he said when the Finance Act, 1910, was under consideration. He made a speech at Limehouse, in which he said:—The day of reckoning was coming for these owners of land.I think the day of reckoning has come for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the time these matters were under consideration almost every professional body in England—I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take notice of this—passed resolutions against his land proposals, and said that if they were carried into law they would have a most disastrous effect upon building. The resolution passed by the surveyors in June, 1909, said:—The present depression in the building trade if certain to be aggravated and unemployment increased.The auctioneers said:—The effect of the Bill would be to create distrust and uncertainty with regard to the tenure of land, and lead capitalists and others to abandon land as a subject of investment.The London builders themselves said:—We give this warning of the general collapse in the building trade, in the hope that something may jet be done to avert what cannot but prove to be a terrible industrial calamity.That industrial calamity has occurred. Who was right, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his adviser, Mr. Adrian Lumley, or these professional bodies?
§ Mr. ROYDS
It was the Surveyors' Association, and it was passed in June, 1909. There was one passed by the Surveyors' Institute about the same time to the same effect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time said:—I believe I am not alone in the opinion that the Land Taxes will have the effect of developing and opening up land. The Land Tax will undoubtedly encourage building, because it will discourage those operations which trammel it.Hon. Members may naturally be asking themselves how comes it that these private investors did lose confidence. I read the reasons given by these builders, and the whole 500 of them are of much the same effect. I would only instance again a case that has been often mentioned in this House—the Richmond case, and there are plenty of others of the same sort. People who make investments in property in this way make them for the benefit of their wives and children. In the Richmond case there were two ladies who inherited a small house and shop which their father had bought for £500. They sold it after his death for £500. They 810 thought they had done with it, but a claim was made on them for £22 Increment Value Duty on the ground that they had sold it for more than it was worth. That applies to every other house, small or big, in exactly the same way. If claims of that sort can be made, is it likely that a man is going to lay up that sort of trouble for his widow and his children? I think not. I think that case alone is quite sufficient. I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer would answer that he was going to remedy that to some extent by his Revenue Bill. The Revenue Bill only touches the fringe of it. A thousand and one questions of a similar character will and must occur. As long as this extraordinary scheme, which no one understands, is on the Statute Book, and these marvellous values which no one understands remain recorded in the Domesday Book against all these classes of property, so long will the credit and security of land and house property be impaired.
In another way I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has greatly impaired the credit and security of land, and that is in regard to the cost of transfer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Agriculture have recently, on public platforms, given it as their opinion that they thought that the transfer of land ought to be as cheap and as simple as the transfer of stocks and shares, and they enlarged on this to their audiences, and they led their audiences to suppose that the present cost of the transfer of land was attributable to our system of land tenure and conveyance. It is attributable to nothing of the sort. It is attributable to the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself under the Finance Act of 1910; instead of leaving the Stamp Duty on the conveyance of land at the same percentage that it is on the transfer of stocks and shares, he doubled it. It is £1 per cent. for the transfer of land, and 10s. per cent. on stocks and shares—the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself doubted it. I know that does not apply to small transactions. Further than that, he enormously increased the legal cost of conveying or transferring property because there are complications and questions as to whether Increment Duty is payable or not, whether it has been paid, or by whom it is payable, and one or other of a series of stamps has to be placed on these documents, with the result—and I say it without fear of exaggeration—that taking the Stamp Duty and the cost of 811 conveyance together, that cost has been increased since the passing of that measure by one-half. And yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Agriculture try and get sympathy and support for new land schemes by telling people that they are the people who are going to diminish the cost of the transfer of land and make it as easy as the transfer of shares, when they themselves are in fact the persons who have largely increased it.
I wish to say a few words about the nature of the valuation itself, because, of course, that itself has a great effect on the credit and security of land. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the other day, said he was going forward with this valuation as rapidly as possible, and that he hoped it would be completed in the year 1915, and in a letter which he wrote he said that the cost of the valuation would be about £2,000,000. That was very inaccurate, because the cost of the valuation, on his own showing, up to this March, is £2,073,000, and if it is not going to be completed till 1915 it will certainly be considerably over £3,000,000, and I do not believe there is any chance of it being completed by 1915, and, I hope, no chance of it being completed at all. No one would object to a valuation at the market values. We, on this side of the House, have never feared that. A fair valuation at market values, in order to put an end to all suspicions, doubts, and difficulties, we have always welcomed; but it is the nature of the valuation which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has imposed on the country which is in itself striking at the credit and security of land. We know that the taxes are bringing in practically nothing, and, instead of being an increasing quantity, they are diminishing, and they will continue to do so, because no one will pay them without protest, and they always fall on the people they are not expected to fall on, such as the market gardener, for instance, who we all wish should be excluded.
With regard to the character of this valuation, we have a most important piece of evidence as to what it is worth—the opinion of all the professional bodies of England connected with land. They called themselves the Land Conference. They met last Spring. The Surveyors' Institute, the Auctioneers' Institute, the Land Agents' Society, the Chambers of Agriculture, the Farmers' Union, every 812 professional body, I think, connected with land, appointed three deputies to consider this valuation, how it was getting on, would it be of real worth, could it be used for rating and taxation purposes, was it uniform, and so forth. They issued their report shortly before Parliament rose—I think at the end of last July. They found that owing to lack of uniformity this valuation could not be fairly used either for the purposes of a national tax or even for the assessment of the duties imposed by the "People's Budget" itself; and they further found that the unimproved value of the land could not be arrived at by the process of deduction which was required to be followed by the Finance Act, and they strongly urged that the valuation should not be proceeded with unless it could proceed on sound and uniform lines. The Chancellor of the Exchequer plumes himself on the fact that he is rushing that valuation and hurrying it on, and is going to get it completed by next year, in face again of that professional opinion that the valuation is, in fact, of no worth. These bodies of men were right on the former occasion, when they said what would be the effect of the Finance Act on building, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not disregard their opinion at the present time, but will recognise that they are a body of men who have the interests of the land at heart, and desire that the credit and security of the land should be maintained.
One other point, because I represent an agricultural constituency, and I know my own people would be disappointed if I did not refer to it—that is, the part of this Amendment which refers to the position of the tenant-farmer and the owner of land. There is a feeling of insecurity among the owners and occupiers of agricultural land. We know there has been, a break-up of estates. There has been an abnormal sale of estates, and the tenant farmer when that sale takes place is in a very unfortunate position, as I know from my own experience in plenty of cases. A Departmental Committee was appointed by the Board of Agriculture to inquire into this matter last year. What did they find? They found that there was an abnormal sale of landed estates.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Runciman)
Four years ago.
§ Mr. ROYDS
It was two years after the passing of the Finance Act. They reported also, that they found that, in the 813 opinion of the majority of the witnesses, these sales of estates, and the breaking up of estates, were occurring largely in consequence of the fear of the recent land legislation, and they said that, if there could be an assurance given that there would be no further legislation of this character, that feeling of insecurity would be very much allayed. That assurance has not been given. They further reported that the tenant-farmers of England desired nothing better than to remain under, and to return to, the conditions under which they had occupied their farms before this legislation was passed. What did that mean? It meant that as regards our agricultural land, and the difficulties which have been encountered—I do not say they are wholly attributable to the passing of that Finance Act—the series of attacks made on owners of land have greatly disturbed our agricultural owners and occupiers, and if that Act was repealed, and if there was an assurance that there would be no further legislation of that character, my belief is that the good old feeling would return, and that there would be security once more for the tenant-farmer probably without the need of any legislation of any sort or description.
I am speaking with a knowledge of agricultural estates, and life-long experience. They desire nothing better than to return to former conditions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in several of his speeches lately has said many things to discredit our methods of agriculture, and these statements have caused annoyance to the tenant-farmers of this country. He has compared our methods with those of other countries, much to our disadvantage. I have always maintained that we have taught foreign countries in regard to agriculture a great deal more than they have ever taught us. The right hon. Gentleman said: "Now look at Belgium. In Belgium there are 160 men employed to the 1,000 acres of land, whereas in England there are only forty. In Belgium they are doing very well; they are thriving on their merits." He was talking of the position of agricultural labourers on farms, and the comparison he drew with Belgium was very much to our disadvantage, and against our methods. He neglected to state what was the condition of those men so employed in Belgium, for that is the point. In talking to the agricultural labourer we ought to be perfectly frank with him. I turn to a book, entitled "Lessons from Belgium," by the hon. Member for York, 814 who sits on the opposite side of the House. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is by his cousin."] Yes, it is by Mr. Seebohm Rowntree. It is a remarkable book, and, so far as I can see, it is reliable. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer took the figure 160 to 1,000 acres from that book, but he neglected to state what Mr. Rowntree states as to the real position of the agricultural labourer in Belgium. Mr. Rowntree states that the average wage of the agricultural labourer in Belgium is 1s. 7d. per day, little more than half the amount they are getting here with a few extras; and he further says that his hours of work are longer, that his standard of living is lower, and that many of the men are tied men, or yearly men, who live "in." They commonly sleep in a wooden box, five feet from the ground, in the stable or cow-house. I only mention these facts, because I think it is unfair to draw such unfavourable comparisons as to our agricultural methods and conditions. Our methods are perfectly sound, and the wages of our agricultural labourer, much as we desire that they should be improved, are infinitely better than you find in Belgium. I am afraid the Chancellor of the Exchequer relies on his powers of oratory to carry the people with him in these matters, but there are these solid facts which I have related this afternoon, not against the Chancellor of the Exchequer's personal character, but against his character as a land reformer. These solid facts, in my opinion, will appeal much more eloquently to the people of this country than the appeals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself.
§ Mr. FITZROY
I rise to Second the Amendment. My hon. Friend (Mr. Royds) dealt very largely with the housing question—indeed, the bulk of his speech referred to it. I propose to confine my remarks more to the question of the land than to the question of accommodation for the working classes. I am convinced that the whole attitude of the Government towards the land and the agricultural industry has created an atmosphere which is injurious to the best developments of that industry and to the land in general. I suppose it would be historically correct were I to say that all the greatest controversies which have divided people in the past have been in connection with land and religion, and therefore it is, perhaps, too much to expect that in the twentieth century land should not still create a controversial feeling between different people. If we consider what are the differences 815 which separate us at this moment, if we analyse them and narrow them down, we shall find that there is not very much difference of opinion between us as to these questions. I agree with my hon. Friend that far the best way of dealing with questions of this magnitude would be if we could dissociate them altogether from party controversy, but I think the House will agree with me when I say that it is not our fault if that principle is departed from. It is quite true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer early last Session made an appeal to the House that both sides should co-operate in the solution of the many questions dealing with land, but that is not very much good if the moment he attempts to deal with it himself he departs absolutely from the principle he has laid down, and attempts to make it a matter of the bitterest party controversy. When he commenced his campaign at Bedford in the autumn he said, at the opening of his speech:—There is no question ever raised which more vitally affects the well-being of every man, woman and child in these islands than the question of land.I entirely agree with him in that statement, but surely, having made it, he is not dealing with that question in the important way in which it ought to be dealt with if he deals with it—I do not wish to be rude—in what I cannot help feeling is a flippant and irresponsible manner from the position he holds in the Government! I know that there are not a very large number of people employed in the agricultural industry in this country. There are not half as many as we should like to see, but at the same time there are quite enough whose very existence and livelihood depend upon it, and it is a very wrong thing, in my judgment, to what I may call gamble with their livelihood for the purpose of obtaining votes on some other question. Exactly the same process was adopted by the Government with regard to the Insurance Act. I remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer coming down to this House and thanking the Opposition, and, of course, the Members on his own side, for the assistance they had given him in the passing of that measure. A very short time afterwards, in a speech in Whitefield's Tabernacle, he said that no measure of recent times had met with so much misrepresentation on the part of the Opposition as the insurance measure. If the sequel to the passing of the insurance measure and the success it has met with in the country is to form a parallel for 816 the success of any land scheme he may propose, I am afraid the prospect of the agricultural industry is not a rosy one in this country.
I suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer was responsible for the Land Inquiry, and the Report which it issued. I have no doubt that a great deal of the evidence which we have in that Land Report is very valuable, and very interesting, but all the evidence which has been gathered in that Report could be obtained from the Reports of Royal Commissions, Departmental Committees, and Committees of that kind. I do not intend this afternoon to make any reference at all to the Land Inquiry Report. All I want to say is that the conclusions arrived at by the Land Inquiry Committee are, to my mind, totally and entirely wrong, mischievious to the country, and detrimental to the agricultural interests. What are the conclusions arrived at? The Prime Minister in giving his blessing to the Land Inquiry Report, and in giving his support to the campaign which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was undertaking in the country, made a very extraordinary mistake. He gave his support to the scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he said that the rural population of this country was declining, whereas when we look at the Census Returns, we find that between the years 1901 and 1911 the rural population of this country increased by 730,831. The Prime Minister has applied the adjective "sloppy" to some of the arguments used in connection with Tariff Reform. I should not like to supply so picturesque an adjective to anything which the Prime Minister chooses to say, but the term to my mind does apply to the argument which he used when we find that the rural population, instead of declining, has gone up by no fewer than 730,000 people. A very common mistake is made in the Land Inquiry Report and on that mistake many of its conclusions are founded. While we have this enormous increase in the general income of the country, it is assumed that the income of the agricultural industry has increased in the same proportion.
When we look at the figures from the Inland Revenue Commissioners' Report we find that between the years 1902–3 and 1911–12 the gross income of this country increased by no less than £191,500,000. We find also, though the latter figures cannot 817 be depended on entirely as they are only an estimate, that the income from abroad, as far as can be ascertained, increased in those years from £55,000,000 to over £100,000,000 per annum. Naturally, if we had a corresponding increase in the income of the agricultural industry, there would be a great deal to be said for the conclusions which are arrived at in the Land Inquiry Report. But on the other hand we find, if we look at the figures during the same period for the agricultural industries, that the annual value, inclusive of tithe rent-charge under the Tithe Commutation Act, of farm lands and buildings between the years 1902–3 and 1911–12 diminished by the sum of £43,000. So, instead of partaking of this enormous increase of wealth of the country, the rural community has suffered loss during the same period. I am ashamed, dealing with this question, to make statements which, I am sure, will be described as platitudes of political economy. But it would seem from the speeches which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made that the old platitudes of political economy are being completely ignored. Therefore I may say that it is a fundamental truism that the profits of an industry are the wage fund of all those engaged in it. There has been a tendency not only in this House, but in the country, to separate the classes engaged in the agricultural industry. These classes are not living out of one another. They are living out of a common fund, and naturally the thing to do, if you want to improve the agricultural industry, is to increase the common fund out of which all classes can get their living.
To proceed with that argument, we have got to consider what are the profits of the different classes engaged in the agricultural industry. What are the profits of the owners of land? It is generally acknowledged, though it is impossible to give definite figures, that the interest on the capital value of the houses and lands in this country bring in at the present time, at the largest estimate, not more than 2½ per cent. It is quite true that some Members of this House, and some people outside, would like to do away with owners of land altogether. I would remind them that if they do away with the existing owner they have got to put some-body in his place. Even the State becomes a landlord if the system of nationalisation of land is adopted, and I certainly have yet to learn that the State is the most sympathetic employer of labour in this 818 country. In my own Constituency there are a great many men employed by the State, and most of them have always got grievances. Some are employed on Crown Lands in forestry work. After a great deal of communication a few years ago with the Secretary of the Treasury who then had control of this particular question, I induced him to raise the wages of the employés on those Crown Lands from 2s. 4d. to 2s. 6d. a day. After all, in talking of labourers' wages, a wage of 2s. 6d. a day paid to labourers under the Woods and Forests Department is not one to be quoted as an example.
Coming to the profits of the occupiers of land, I am quite certain that there is no hon. Gentleman on that side of the House who would go down to his constituency and tell the tenants, the occupiers of land, that they were making too much money, and that the profits ought to be cut down. The third class who are engaged in agricultural industry are the labourers. It is generally agreed on all sides of the House that the labourers' wages, in some districts at any rate, are too low and ought to be raised if it is possible to do so. But when I make that statement I have one word of warning to those who are very anxious to take up this question by whatever motive they may be inspired. They should take care that while they raise the daily or weekly wage of a labourer, they do not at the same time cut down his annual income. Surely everybody will admit that the profits of any industry, the agricultural just the same as any other industry, come from the wage fund, and it seems to me that our object and the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is going to undertake this reform of our land system, is to devise some means of increasing the profits of that industry. My hon. Friend made reference to the conditions of labour in the agricultural industry in Belgium because the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to them in one of the speeches.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in using that argument, was making what I consider a fundamental error, which underlies the whole of the argument that he used on this question—that is, assuming that by increasing labour you increase proportionately the profit, which is not correct. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer was pointing out to his audience at Bedford that in Belgium there were 160 agricultural labourers employed on 1,000 acres, he omitted to say that these 819 labourers were only receiving 1s. 2d. a day with food, or 1s. 7d. a day without food. In passing, I may say that that was not dealing fairly with the audience in Bedford and with the agricultural labourers in particular; but, of course, it is quite evident that if we were paying wages of that kind to agricultural labourers in this country, it would be quite easy to employ more agricultural labourers on the land. I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be the last person to advocate that the agricultural labourers' wage should be lowered in order to employ more people on the land. After all we must remember that farmers farm for profit. That is their only object in carrying on the industry, and it is perfectly certain that by the employment of more men, and the incurring of extra expense on the land, a proportionately large profit is not made by the process. To assume otherwise is a fundamental error which underlies the whole argument; and with the permission of the House I will quote a very short statement o from John Stuart Mill which describes what I mean in far better words than I can attempt to use myself. Dealing with this question of the law of the increase of production of land, he says:—After a certain and not very advanced stage in the progress of agriculture; as soon, in fact, as mankind have applied themselves to cultivation with any energy, and have brought to it any tolerable tools; from that time it is the law of production of the land That in any given state of agricultural skill and knowledge, by increasing the labour, the produce is not increased in an equal degree: doubling the labour does not double the produce; or to express the same thing in other word every increase of produce is obtained by a more than proportionate increase in the application of labour to the land. This general law of agricultural industry is the most important proposition in political economy. Were the law different, nearly all the phenomena of the production and distribution of wealth would be other than they are. The most fundamental errors which still prevail on our subject result from not perceiving this law at work underneath the more superficial agencies on which attention fixes itself, but mistaking those agencies fur the ultimate causes of effects of which they may influence the form and mode, but of which it alone determines the essence.
§ Mr. FITZROY
The Chancellor of the Exchequer would say, as he said in his speech dealing with this question, "You are admitting all these grievances as to land; you are admitting that there are grievances; you are admitting that the agricultural industry is not prospering as it ought to do." I quite agree. I am admitting that the agricultural industry is 820 not prospering as it ought to do. The difference between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself with regard to that is that he puts it down entirely to the land system and I put it down to the treatment which the land system has received from the State. If he will only recall the past he will find that agriculture has but recently issued from the severest trial and severest conditions of depression which have ever overtaken any industry in this country. I say, without fear of contradiction, that it is entirely due to the land system of this country that the agricultural industry has been enabled to get over that period of depression under which it existed. It not only kept agriculture going, but the labour to which so much importance is attached was kept on the land during those long periods of depression. I do not want to make those statements on my own authority, and I should like to call in the evidence of the best authorities I can, in order to support the arguments which I have brought before the House. My hon. Friend has referred to the Land Conference, which issued a Report about last July. It is quite true that most of that Report dealt with details which were to come under the Revenue Bill, about that time introduced into the House. I do not want, however, to deal with those particular details, which were dealt with in the Revenue Bill. I understand we are promised a Revenue Bill in the near future, as we were at the end of last Session, and I hope it will deal with those, grievances which were mentioned in the Land Conference Report.
My hon. Friend called the attention of the House to the representatives of the bodies composing the Land Conference, and he gave a list of most of the bodies connected with agriculture and the land interest of this country. Those bodies are qualified to give an opinion on the subject. I must say that when the Government appoints a Departmental Committee it gets evidence almost entirely from exactly the same bodies which had composed the Conference. But, at any rate, when the Government appoint a Committee they should attach some importance to those particular bodies when they issue a Report themselves. But they do not seem to take very much notice of it. In this report, it says quite definitely, what is the result, not only of the Finance Act and the exactions which were imposed under that Finance Act, but also what is the effect of fear of further penal legisla- 821 tion, of a similar character on the minds of agriculturists, and how it so severely handicaps their industry as to prevent it developing it in the way it ought to be developed. The Report points out on page 4, in the second paragraph, in dealing with the Undeveloped Land Duty, that the area of the United Kingdom is 78,000,000 acres, of which some 2,000,000 at the present moment are covered with buildings. But there are at this present time between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 acres of land in this country which, under the Finance Act, are liable to the Undeveloped Land Duty, merely on the supposition that at some future date—we do not know when—it is possible that somebody may want to build houses upon it. So it comes to this: that every acre of land in this country which has any value of over £50 an acre, or some value other than agricultural, is liable to this Undeveloped Land Duty. Therefore, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed under his Budget to charge that tax, I suppose, if the land is liable to be taxed, it will be charged with the tax.
There are between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 acres of land at this present moment which is used for the only purpose for which it can be used, namely, agriculture, allotments, market gardens, and so forth, and it is purely agricultural land; but because it happens to be near a village or near a town, and somebody may some day put a building upon it, it is liable to this tax. And yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer pretends that he cannot see that by the imposition of this tax he is not doing injury to the agricultural industry. Whenever we make this remark, we are always told by hon. Members on the other side that agricultural land is exempt from this tax. Agricultural land is not exempt from this tax. Large areas of land which can only be used for agriculture are subject to this tax at the present moment. There is another Report, the Haversham Report, to which my hon. Friend referred a few moments ago. It points out that the Government in 1911 considered the question of the insecurity of tenure which had arisen owing to the effects in the 1910–11 Budget. The conclusions that Committee came to were exactly the same as the conclusions come to by the Land Conference, and I will read two pieces of evidence which were given before that Committee. It says on page 5 of the Haversham Report and in paragraph 7:—It would appear that one of the primary causes of the want of confidence on the part of the landlords and their desire to sell the whole or portions of their agri- 822 cultural estates is the accumulation of and the fear of the effect of recent legislation, although no evidence was adduced that purely agricultural land has actually been injuriously affected.[Hon. Member: "Hear, hear."] A great deal of agricultural land is injuriously affected. At that time agricultural land had not been valued—it has not been valued yet—but, at any rate, at that time nobody knew the quantity of land used for purely agricultural purposes which would come under taxation. The Report says:—From some of the evidence the Committee gather, that any assurance with respect to future legislation would go a considerable way towards restoring confidence to landowners, thus resulting in the continuance of the system of land tenure which, in the opinion of some of the witnesses, has worked admirably from the point of view of the tenant farmers of the country.Paragraph 10 says:—There is great anxiety among tenant farmers, and this feeling of insecurity is militating against agriculture.… Tenants farming the large estates in England and Wales desired nothing bettor than to remain as tenants under their present landlords; and, in view of the remission of rent by landlord in bad seasons, and the execution of repairs and improvements over and above the strictly agricultural requirements of the farms, the position of tenants good landlords is apparently a satisfactory one.So that all the want of confidence existing at the present moment in the agricultural industry is entirely due to the Budget of 1910, and the fear of further legislation of a similar character, which, of course, has been aggravated by the effect of the land campaign which has been lately introduced. I want to say one word more with regard to the insecurity of tenure to which farmers are subject at the present time. It seems to me that when agriculture is, as it is at the present time, improving under better prices and better conditions, and having emerged from this period of depression to which I have referred, it is a most inopportune moment to come along with penal legislation such as is suggested under the campaign of the right hon. Gentleman. Insecurity of tenure does not want legislation to make it better. It is legislation which has caused the insecurity of tenure. And you only make things very much worse than they were before if you now introduce what I can only describe as silly legislation to remedy defects and grievances which have been caused by legislation of a similar character. I dealt a moment ago with the Report of the Haversham Committee. That Report, to my mind, effectively disposes of the case that it is the system under which farmers hold their farms which creates any insecurity of tenure, and that it is entirely due to the want of confidence which has been created by the action and attitude which the Government has taken 823 up towards agriculture and the landed interests. The need of agriculture at this present moment is summed up in the words, "Restoration of credit and security." (Hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the Government which they support, claim that they want to bring people back to the land, that they want to increase the labourers' wages, and that they want to do all they can to encourage the agricultural industry. Why in the world do they not do what the Chancellor of the Exchequer began by saying, when he opened his land campaign in Bedford, "Realise that the highest cultivation of the land is impossible without security." That is the way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer opened his campaign, and if he would only keep those few words in mind, instead of endeavouring to secure the votes of agricultural labourers by promises which he is entirely incapable of bringing into effect, he would do far more beneficial work for the agricultural industry and the whole land system of this country.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I understood the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment to say that the average number of houses built over a certain period was 135,000, and later on, I believe, he corrected that figure, and said it should be 85,000. I think I am correct in saying that it is the latter figure which truly represents the situation.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
The hon. Member said 135,000 was the average for seven years, while the number for any single year does not exceed 113,000, so that the average mentioned by him could not be correct.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I was referring to the figures for England and Wales, and that, of course, explains the disparity. It does not explain, however, his statement as to the reduced number of houses in 1903–4, since so far as England and Wales is concerned the difference is more than 50 per cent. In 1902–3 the number was 88,000, and in 1903–4, when the revaluation had been made, it was only 41,000.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
They are transferred from one category to the other, which gives an explanation of the figures of 1903–4, and explains in part in 1910–11 the fall to 11,000. In other words, revaluation is undoubtedly one of the explanations of the disparity in 1903–4 as well as in 1910–11. The hon. Member attributed the whole of the decrease in the number of houses built to the effect of the Land Taxes of the Finance Act of 1909, but he must be very well aware that there have been other causes at work. First of all, there has been a very material increase in the rate of interest. It is practically impossible, owing to the expansion of trade and to the increased credit and the high rate of dividend and interest, to be obtained elsewhere, and in other industries, to finance the speculative builder under 6 or 7 percent. In a house costing £260 a difference of 1 per cent. in the rate of interest makes a difference of a shilling per week in the rent, and surely anybody who is acquainted with life in our large towns, knows the extent a difference of a shilling per week affects overcrowding by the sharing of one house rather than the taking of two houses. There is another factor which the hon. Member also omitted, and of which I think he must have been aware, and that is the increase that has taken place in the cost of building materials. Hon. Members opposite surely do not deny that the cost of building materials within the last ten years has increased from 10 to 12 per cent.; not only that, but so have the local rates largely increased. In the county boroughs the increase has been from 6s. 4d. to 7s. 3d. in the £, while in the urban districts there has been an increase of no less than 17 per cent. Surely the hon. Member must be aware that all those factors told upon the rent at which the houses could be let, even when they were able to be put up He must know more than that.
The system of compounding which is in existence in all the large towns, particularly in Birmingham and Liverpool, means this, that houses which cannot be let at a rent of 8s. 2d. cannot have the benefit of compounding. The result is that with the increased rate of interest and the increased cost of building materials and the increase in the rates, all those factors have made it practically impossible to let at 8s. 2d. per week to-day a house which could have 825 been constructed and let at that ten years ago. The result is that the moment a house ceases to be one which can have the advantage of compounding, there is an immediate jump in the rent from 8s. 2d. to 10s., and that, of course, makes it quite impossible for a large number of people to take advantage of removing from one house to another. The Amendment before the House makes one statement which was really contradicted by the hon. Member who has just spoken, and that statement is that agricultural development in this country has been arrested by the Finance Act. I think the hon. Member himself incidentally admitted that agriculture at the present moment was rather progressing in this country. I am rather concerned to know on what ground it is suggested that the Finance Act of 1909 arrested agricultural development.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
The Report of the Haversham Committee, of which I was a member, is based on this, that the insecurity felt by farmers was due to sales, and it is quite true that one of the factors, but by no means the most important factor, was the insecurity which they said had arisen from the Finance Act. Then the hon. Member rather suggested in his speech that those Committees and Commissions received witnesses who rather answer to the ideas that those bodies want to hear. If he will read the evidence given before that Committee he will find that almost without exception the witnesses were large farmers, and that the small farmer never appeared before the Committee except from Wales, and that all the other witnesses were sent by the Surveyors' Institute and similar associations. The conclusion arrived at by the Haversham Committee was that the Finance Act and the fear of future legislation was only one of the factors, and that the other factor which told very largely was the increase which has taken place in the price of land, and particularly the fact that mortgagees, who up to then had not been able to realise their property, were selling, owing to the enhanced value at which it could be sold. If there is any doubt as to whether or not agriculture is developing at the present moment, or if there is any Member who doubts whether the price of land, agricultural land, to-day is not higher than for years, may I quote to him a gentleman whose authority I do not admit, but who is quoted by the Unionist Press as one of 826 the highest authorities on the land question, and who was also a member of the Haversham Committee, and who had the privilege of forming a minority of one on a Committee of twelve. The gentleman I refer to is Mr. Tristram Eve, and on the 15th March, 1913, he said:—Farms had gone up in value dining the last few years in Hitchin, and in the Midlands generally, to the extent of 20 to 33 per cent.That is hardly evidence of the arrest of agricultural development. Not only that, but what hon. Members opposite call the "secret and partisan Committee," of which I also happen to be a member, made inquiries from a not very Liberal source, the Surveyors' Institute, whose Radical proclivities are unknown outside its portals, and this is the information of that institute in reply to a question which was submitted to them by this partisan committee for their answer. The first answer was this:—The time mentioned in the questions, five years, is very short. There has, however, been some reaction from the period of agricultural depression which set in in 1879, and although this has been shown mainly in an improvement in the annual value, it has also been reflected to a large extent in the capital value.That is the information of the Surveyors' Institute, that not only has the capital value of the land increased, but so have the rents. They continue their answers as follows:—Except by the discontinuance of temporary abatement of rent which in some cases were made during the period of depression in place of permanent reductions, it has in the case of sitting tenants been very unusual for rents to be increased, though in some cases landlords have had their farms revalued, and have come to an arrangement with their tenants. New lettings have as a rule been effected at increased rents during the past five years.Then the hon. Member gets up and suggests that owing to the Finance Act the progress of agriculture and its development have been arrested. [An Hon. Member: "Hear, hear."] If the hon. Member who shouts "hear, hear" can reconcile that view with the statement I have quoted from the Surveyors' Institute, which, to say the least of it, cannot be called a Radical society, I shall be very pleased and interested to hear what his explanation is. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment characterised the Report of the Land Committee as mischievous.
§ Mr. FITZROY
I did not say the Land Committee Report was mischievous, but the conclusions it came to.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I am obliged to the hon. Member; but what the exact difference is, I am sorry to say, I cannot see. 827 I am assuming that the hon. Member thinks that the conclusions are mischievous in their results. He referred continually to the Report of the Haversham Committee, which cannot by any process of imagination be called a "partisan committee." It included amongst its members Lord Clinton, Sir Howard Frank, the hon. Member for the Horncastle Division (Captain Weigall), Mr. Abel Smith, Mr. Colin Campbell, and the late Sir Charles Rose. The curious thing is this: that if the conclusions of one committee are mischievous, hon. Members opposite have not assured us or made the slightest assertion that they are prepared to accept the conclusions of the Haversham Committee or to adopt their recommendations. In fact, the whole of the Unionist land policy, so far as it has been explained and expounded, is exactly contrary to the conclusions of the Haversham Committee. Their opinion was that in no more than 10 per cent. of the cases would a system of State-aided purchase be of any benefit. Not only was that so, but they suggested this further: that under no circumstances should the State advance more than four-fifths of the purchase money. May I ask hon. Members who are going to follow me what is the opinion of the Unionist party on the point? Are they, in face of that Report, signed by all except one of the members who sat on the committee and took part in its proceedings, and notwithstanding that recommendation and that opinion, going to suggest advancing the whole of the purchase money to the tenant who purchases his farm. I have here a report of the speech delivered by Lord Lansdowne at Matlock Bath, and what is the construction to be placed upon if? He said that the whole of the purchase money ought to be advanced to the tenant—provided that the following conditions are present, provided that a man is a suitable man, provided the land is suitable for the purpose, and, provided the price agreed upon is a reasonable one.I should be very glad if some hon. Member, who is authorised to speak on behalf of the Unionist party, would tell me whether those opinions really are the opinions of the Unionist party, and whether those are the conditions, and the only conditions upon which you are prepared to assist the sitting tenant. The conditions he named are these:—The advancing of money to the sitting tenant should first of all be practised as an experiment in hard cases.828 Is that one of the conditions? Is the tenant in no case, except what is to be considered a "hard case," to obtain an advance of four-fifths or the whole of the purchase money? The second condition was, thatThe conditions must be favourable; the shape and the position of the land must be right.How that is going to assist the poor tenant, the shape and position of whose land are not right, I cannot apprehend. Nextthe farmer must be progressive. In effect, no transaction should be entered upon in which a prudent mortgagee would not lend his money.If these are the conditions upon which the Unionist party is prepared to assist the sitting tenant, all I can say is—I happen to be a lawyer when I am at home—that I have never yet met a prudent mortagee who was prepared to advance the whole of the purchase money to any sitting tennant. It was commonly agreed on the Haversham Committee, when they were considering their report, that in six weeks during the summer in which that committee was sitting, the agricultural land of this country fell 10 per cent. in value, and in the face of that it was utterly impossible for any committee of business men, knowing the financial conditions of the country, to recommend that the whole of the purchase money should be advanced to the tenant. There is another, and, I think, still more important question to be solved. What are the proposals of the party opposite with regard to, not security of tenure, but compensation for improvements? I find that hon. Members opposite have introduced a Bill dealing with this subject, although I believe the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment suggested that insecurity was created by Statute. Here, in any event, is an attempt to give better security to the tenant farmer, and I suggest that the hon. Member should make a study of it. This Bill provides that where a tenant is dispossessed on sale, he shall be entitled to be repaid whatever loss he has incurred in connection with that sale. One of the backers of that Bill is present. I would ask him whether it is proposed, as undoubtedly the words imply, that where a tenant is dispossessed on sale he is to be entitled to call upon his landlord to compensate him for any loss which he has sustained owing to the deprivation of his livelihood? After all is said and done, hon. Members who have introduced the Bill know quite well that the Clause in the Act of 1906, giving compensation for disturbance, was so modified that there 829 is no compensation on sale, that the compensation must be confined to the expense incurred in removing. I ask whether under the Bill now introduced, it is intended to give the tenant farmer compensation for all the loss which he may incur on account of removal from his farm. If so, I admit, quite frankly, that in the case of a sale of a farm you are going to give the man absolute security; because the whole of the loss will mean the loss of the goodwill and the loss of the experience and knowledge which he has obtained on the land.
But if a man deprived of his farm on sale is entitled to compensation, why is not the tenant who is compelled to leave his farm for other reasons? Why not, for example, in a case of capricious conviction? There is ample evidence, not that such cases are common, but that they do exist in this country. What, too, is to become of the man who, owing to old age or varying circumstances, has to give up his farm? Is not he entitled to any compensation? [An HON. Member: "Why?"] I will tell the hon. Member why. A remarkable pamphlet has been issued by what I believe is called the Land Conference, which is said to be an answer to the Report of the Land Inquiry Committee. The pamphlet is advocating State-aided purchase, and here is one statement made:—Rents cannot be raised on a man's improvements.Is it admitted on the other side that rents are raised on tenants' improvements? [HON. Members: "No."] In that case the statement is wrong.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I thought the hon. Member was asking a question. That is provided for in the Act of 1908.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I am quite aware of the provisions contained in that Act. The point I am asking, if the Noble Lord is going to reply, is: Is it admitted in this House that rents are raised on improvements? It has been argued for years that the Agricultural Holdings Act gives to the tenant all the compensation to which he is entitled for the improvements which he effects upon his farm. I do not think' that that can be any longer contended. Sir Howard Frank, a member of the Haversham Committee, who probably knows as much about agricultural land and the con- 830 ditions under which it is worked as any gentleman in this country, delivered some twelve months ago in Cheshire a speech which I recommend to the consideration of hon. Gentlemen opposite. In the course of that speech he said:—I have found on several estate which we have had to sell that tenants have made certain improvements and put up buildings for their own convenience which, improve the value of the estate for selling purposes and it is often the case that they have failed to ask for the written consent necessary under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908, the reason being that they never thought of their farms being sold. In some cases, although no written consent has been obtained, the work has been done with the knowledge of the owner's agent, who raised no objection. I am aware, of course, that legally, under such circumstances, tenants cannot, claim to be paid, but it is often, in my opinion, most unfair to take advantage of tenants under these circumstance.[Cheers.] Hon. Members cheer that statement. I am glad to hear it, because that is one of the reasons why the Land Committee have suggested the establishment of a Land Court. We suggest that for any improvements erected by the tenant which add to the selling value of the land he should be compensated when he has to give up possession. Reference has been; made to the position of Belgium. There is no doubt that agricultural production ire Belgium is considerably higher than in this, country. Hon. Members argue, say rightly, that high productivity in an agricultural country, unfortunately, does not mean increased wages. The hon. Member said the labourers only got 1s. 7d. a day, but in Belgium rents are three times as high as in this country. The increased productivity of that country has added to the wealth of one class, but it has not increased the wages of another. [Cheers.] I am glad that hon. Members opposite admit that the higher productivity of the land has added to the wealth of the landowner, while, on the other hand, although Belgium is a protected country, the wage of the farm labourer is lower than in this country. Belgium is continually quoted as a country of small landholders, and we are invited to follow the example of Belgium. A great writer (Mr. Protheroe) on agricultural land has said that the agricultural products of this country are only one-fifth of what they are in Belgium. Another hon. Member has referred to a most remarkable book by Mr. Seebohm Rowntree on Belgium. I invite the consideration of hon. Members opposite to Mr. Rowntree's conclusion, which is that whether the farmer occupies his own land or whether he occupies the land of another, in Belgium he is even worse off than he is in this country.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I am sorry the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not been present to listen to the speech just delivered, as I think he would have derived some considerable instruction from it. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Ellis Davies), alluding to the position of affairs in Belgium, has told us, as some of us were already aware, that the condition of the labourer in Belgium is very much worse than it is in this country; but he did not mention that Belgium was one of the cases constantly quoted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a desirable example for this country to copy. He also informed us that rents are higher in Belgium. I recommend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he makes his next platform speech, to inform the labourers that the country upon the model of which he is going to improve their conditions is one in which wages are lower and rents are considerably higher than in this country. We have heard a great deal about Belgium, but I do not think that that fact has ever been mentioned. The hon. Member alluded to Belgium as a protected country. We have the high authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on several occasions that Belgium is not a protected country, and the reason he quoted Belgium was that it was not protected. I leave the hon. Gentleman and his leaders on the Front Bench to settle that point between them. The hon. Gentleman has delivered an interesting speech on the Unionist land policy. I shall be glad to discuss that on the proper occasion, but to day we will keep to the subject of the Amendment, which has to do with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government.
The Amendment states that owing to the operation of the Finance Act and the speeches, eloquent and denunciatory, of hon. Gentlemen opposite, agriculture and the credit of land generally have suffered. I do not think that that point has been dealt with by the hon. Gentleman opposite. When he said that agricultural development had not been arrested, and as a proof of the statement pointed to the increased prices paid for farms, he entirely ignored the point which my hon. Friend tried to make, namely, that agricultural development is being arrested owing to the operation of the Land Taxes. In any area close to a town there are any number of acres which are used and can only be used at present for agriculture, where, if he is acting on economic prin- 832 ciples, the landlord is not justified in spending a large amount in developing it as agricultural land, because under this legislation he is given no abatement of taxation for the expenditure incurred in the development of land for agriculture. Any benefit which may help towards its building value will increase the taxation which he will have to pay upon it, although for many years to come there is no chance of its having any building value. The Housing Report has already been dealt with, and I have no wish to deal any further with it at present; but the principle on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to proceed, and the principle to which our Amendment objects, is that having tried unsuccessfully to tax the land, and with a limited effect, the Chancellor of the Exchequer now invites us to burst the system of land tenure. I do not think his is a very encouraging line of argument in connection with a very important industry, nor is it likely to improve the classes concerned. It is not likely to increase credit, security, or the general prosperity of the land. It was interesting to me a short time ago to hear a speech made by Lord Lucas, who spoke at a Farmers' Union dinner at Doncaster, to a very large gathering. He said that "no Liberal Government had the slightest intention of trying to supersede the system under which agriculture is at present carried on in this country." That is only another instance of the divergence of opinion amongst hon. Members opposite as to the exact object with which they set out, and as to the exact goal at which they hope to arrive. There is no doubt that the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are having a very bad effect upon the agricultural industry, and upon the country generally. I should like to quote one gem—and I wish the right hon. Gentleman were here himself, because I should like to invite him to repeat language of this sort in this House. There are many hon. Members who know pretty well what life in the country is like. This is what the Chancellor says in describing life in the country to an audience at the Holloway Empire. He said:—Do you know the villages? I do. I have lived in them.Then he went on to say:—You have no notion in the towns of the pagan thraldom that stifles liberty in our villages. The squire is god; the parson, the agent, the gamekeeper, they are his priests. The pheasants and hares, they are sacred birds and beasts of the tabernacle.833 [Laughter.] Why hon. Members should laugh at this description I do not know. It was a serious speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He proceeded:—The game laws, they are the ark of the covenant.I have described some of these matters to many North Country labourers, who did not appear to recognise what was said as appertaining to their daily business. The right hon. Gentleman goes on:—The business of the labourer is to fill with the fat of the land the flesh-pots of the temple, whilst he bows down and worships his graven images.I hope the House will note the scriptural character of the language, Which is peculiarly the Chancellor's own. I think it would be extremely interesting if we could get the right hon. Gentleman to make a speech of the kind to this House, and it would be extremely interesting and instructive if an answer were given to him, which undoubtedly it would be. There is another statement which the right hon. Gentleman is constantly making, and which, I think, is an extremely unfair one. He has constantly told us that for every 20s. paid in wages 25s. is paid in rent. That statement obviously is accurate, taking the average. I dare say there is no special reason, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer says it, that I should suppose it to be accurate, but the point I want to make is this, that the right hon. Gentleman has deliberately omitted to mention the fact that out of the 25s. paid in rent a very considerable amount, in almost every case, goes back to the farm in the shape of improvements, repairs, etc. This fact he himself has recognised by Section 69 of the Finance Act. But this is another instance of the sort of speeches that we are accustomed to. These speeches do undoubtedly contain considerable matter that does not lead to security in the country. Take the secret Committee which has been pursuing inquiries. It seems to me that infinite harm can be done unless such an inquiry is conducted in an impartial manner. It is obvious to everybody who knows the members of that Committee—and we in this House know them perhaps better than the country—that that Committee has a party character that can hardly be questioned. There is hardly a member of that Committee who was ever previously supposed to have any valuable information on agricultural matters. It is impossible for the agricultural community to accept their Report as a final conclusion. What makes their Report so dan- 834 gerous, unless it can be met, is that it is evidently going to be made the basis for speeches in what is called "The Land Campaign." I have an interesting notice in my hand which was issued by the National Land and Housing Council, announcing that a series of lecture classes would be held by the Liberal party in the promotion of this land campaign. This notice is a very instructive one. If the House will permit me to read it, they will see that the information for the lecturers was to be derived entirely from the Land Report of the secret Committee. The notice is as follows:—As a preliminary to this work we are arranging for a series of lectures to speakers only which will be given in London. We desire all those who wish to speak for us to attend this course of lectures. The lectures will be in the nature of a class which will be conducted by members of the Land Inquiry Committee.Please notice these impartial and un-biassed persons, who had never hitherto been supposed to have any special knowledge or anything to do with agriculture, who are acting as instructors to these budding politicians!The classes will be held at the National Liberal Club from Monday, 1st December, to Saturday, 13th December, inclusive.The House will notice that a fortnight's preparation is supposed to be sufficient to turn any glib speaker into an expert on land and agricultural matters. Again:—We propose to make you a grant of (so much) to cover your out-of-pocket expenses and fares.… All speakers who attend these classes will be expected to read the Lund Report issued by the Land Inquiry Committee before the lectures.Those who did not attend these classes were not to be given an opportunity of conducting the land campaign. I only mention this because it shows to me the very great need there is for something to be done, for some action to be taken by the Government, to controvert the extremely bad effect which wild statements bring to the prosperity of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has returned to the House. I hope he will give us some suggestion that statements made in the future will be more instructed, and that before action is taken some inquiry will be held and some information obtained which, at any rate, will not be so biassed and which will command more confidence in the country than the Report of the Committee to which I referred. The number of answers given are infinitely greater than the answers published in the Report. Remember that in that Committee that out of the two schedules they have issued 88½ per cent. of answers were deliberately concealed in the 835 case of one schedule, and 59¼ per cent. in the case of Schedule B. We have a perfect right to ask that these answers should be made public even if it is impossible for the names to be given. If you have a Committee of Inquiry so obviously partisan as appears from the personality of the gentlemen who formed it, you cannot trust them to select the answers in the way you could if the Report was one like the Haversham Committee Report, which commands the support of both parties. If you have a partisan Committee of the kind you cannot trust them to select or conceal questions and answers, and therefore that makes the Report infinitely more ineffective than if the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursued a more straightforward, and—if I may say so without offence—a more honourable way in having a real and genuine inquiry supported by all parties. It is quite true when it is said that this would have taken more time, but it is ridiculous for the Government to say that they were afraid of spending a little more time, because they tell us that they do not wish to act on the findings of this Committee until after the General Election, and two years after the Report is issued. I hope we shall have a better chance of knowledge, and the more complete understanding of the materials on which they are acting, before action is taken that will still further disturb conditions.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think those who have been privileged to hear this Debate must have been rather disappointed at the course which it has taken. I confess from what little I have heard or read I anticipated an attack in force upon the land campaign. On the contrary, we have heard the same criticism of the Budget of 1909; while the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Northampton diverged a little here and there into glancing references at the general campaign on the land question. I regret that I did not hear the whole of the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. He put two or three questions to me, and I purpose to address myself to them immediately. The first question, or rather, the first suggestion that he made was this: he complained that speakers who addressed meetings in favour of the proposals of the Government were uninstructed on the land question; were people who knew nothing about agriculture. That is inaccurate, so far as several of them are concerned. It 836 is perfectly true that there are some who are not agriculturists, but hon. Members, opposite must remember that the land proposals of the Government are by no means confined to the rural districts. But may I ask the hon. Member this: there is also a Unionist land campaign. He naturally has no influence upon the organisation of the Liberal campaign. But from his position as an agricultural Member he must have some influence upon the organisation of the Unionist campaign. Will he guarantee that no one will be allowed to speak on his side on the rural question except agricultural labours and farmers, that is to say, men with practical acquaintance of agriculture. He has only got to put that question to himself as an organiser to see how thoroughly impossible it is. Why, even Members on his own side of the House, who are Members for rural districts, are not all practical farmers, and I am not at all sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who made so excellent a speech in opening—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think I can felicitate myself on being a member of the same profession as the hon. Gentleman, and perhaps that ought to be a lesson to Members on the other side that solicitors may know a good deal about agriculture. I come to the next point made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He said it would be far fairer if you had what he calls a real, genuine inquiry. I think by a real, genuine inquiry the hon. Gentleman means something in the nature of a Select Committee or a Royal Commission. I think that that is what he means. The first thing that struck me in the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Sleaford (Mr. Royds) was this: he wanted to make a speech upon the land question, an attack upon the Budget of 1909, and the first thing he does is to follow, with almost slavish accuracy, the method of the secret land inquiry. What does he do? He addresses 500 questions to 500 builders.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I beg pardon, one question, and that is part of my complaint. He only put one question, and that a leading one. In that respect he did not follow the example of the land inquiry. They addressed a good many questions, and there may have been one or two 837 leading questions, but they were, most of them, questions which tended to elicit the real problem as far as agriculture is concerned. But, at any rate, the first thing the hon. and gallant Gentleman does in order to obtain information as to the effect of the Budget of 1909 upon builders, is to start a secret inquiry of his own. Let me tell him, in the words of his colleagues, that it was dishonourable for him to do so.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
The committee which the right hon. Gentleman instituted has only published a selected number of replies.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman says we only published a selected number. The hon. Gentleman only published two out of the 500, and as far as what is known as the Secret Land Committee is concerned, they published opinions which were adverse to their conclusions—several of them—and they indicated a number of people amongst those to whom questions were addressed who were opposed to those conclusions, and they indicated them with great accuracy and precision. I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman had followed a step further; and, in felicitating him upon having followed so excellent an example as that set by the Land Committee, let me just give the reasons why I do not think any useful purpose would be served at the present time by anything in the nature of a Royal Commission. First of all, a Royal Commission is a body not quite impartial. It represents conflicts between interests. It is not, in the usual sense of the word, impartial. You have not only one interest represented, but two or three represented. It is very rarely you get a Commission impartial in every respect. And that is not the only reason. The main reason is this—Whom do you get to appear before the Royal Commission? You would get the landlord to appear. He is able to get surveyors and professional men to represent his interests. The big farmers would appear. As a rule, however, you would not get the small holders. I do not know of any Royal Commission—there may be one, but. I cannot recall one—where you had the agricultural labourers appearing to give evidence. It is obviously impossible to get the real facts about the land question, unless you get at least, let me say, an equal representation of all the parties interested in the land problem. It is only necessary to look at Royal Commissions that have been held, and hon. Members 838 will find that that is the case. The big men have ten times the advantage that the unorganised agricultural labourers have. These men are obviously not fit to appear in the same way before a Royal Commission to be examined and cross-examined, and I go further, and I am sure hon. Gentlemen will see it, part of the complaint we make is this—under the present system you have no real independence in rural life. A good deal of the evidence we have had is not from partisans. Some of the evidence we have had from the clergy of the Church of England, who have been trying their best to hold a perfectly even balance between the parties, bears that out. I do not mean to say that the agricultural labourer has any good reason to believe that, if he gives his evidence fairly, he will be punished. But there is no doubt at all he thinks so, because in the past things have been done—and the agricultural memory is a very tenacious one—and things that happened thirty or forty or 100 years ago have made their impression, and it is very difficult to get men to come forward and give fearless evidence which will not be favoured in certain quarters by certain people who are very important people so far as the labourer's living is concerned. We must not forget the Haversham Committee. How many agricultural labourers came there to give evidence? I am not sure you had even the small holders. You had the landowners.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
But after all in an inquiry of that kind the small farmer was just as much interested as the big farmer. The Haversham Committee was dealing with a sense of insecurity which was created by the same power. The small holder is in a worse position than the big farmer in a case of that kind, because when the small holder is turned out of his farm he finds twenty competitors for every vacant farm he tries to get, whereas the big farmer only finds two or three. That inquiry concerned small farmers as much as big farmers.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I mean the men with the small holdings. I am quite willing to take the definition in the Scottish Act. That is, I think, 50 acres. It is quite impossible to carry on a colloquy of this sort across the floor of the House with 839 the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The same thing applies to the agricultural labourers who have got the prospect of a small farm. By a small holding I mean not a small holding under the county council, but in the Scottish sense, which is a small farm. Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh; they think that a ridiculous proposition, but it is a statutory definition of a small holder, and I am told that it is exactly the same in England. Before the Royal Commission on Agriculture you were able to get small farmers—that was a peripatetic Commission. I am hot sure we had many agricultural labourers examined before it. What was done with the agricultural labourer was this: They had to appoint a man to go down and to report to the Commission. What does that mean? He went round visiting those people, made inquiry, and then reported. You cannot get these classes to present their case before the Commission, and especially those who are afraid either of notice to quit, or, what is still more important to them, little favours either withheld or pressure brought to bear upon them that interferes with their method of living. They are genuinely afraid of it, and you will not get advice by that means.
I never heard the main facts of the Land Inquiry challenged. That is the one thing that struck me more than anything. You take the main propositions they laid down, and you find they are not challenged at all. Take the great pamphlet issued by the Surveyors' Institute—a very unfriendly body. They took an unfriendly view; they represent land agents, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying the farmers and agricultural labourers would infinitely prefer to fall into the hands of their landlords than the surveyors, and everybody who knows the agricultural districts knows that well, and that most of the fear, suspicion, and hostility elicited is hostility elicited by the very class of men who are criticising the Land Inquiry. The main facts of the Report of that Inquiry have not been challenged. I notice that as the discussion is progressing hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House are getting nearer and nearer to practical acceptance of the case made out by that Inquiry. I was very interested the other day to find the instructions given to Unionist speakers. The hon. Gentleman who has last spoken read out instructions given to Liberal speakers, but I have 840 got here instructions given to Unionist speakers. The suggestion there is that the proposals of the Government will have to be inspected, and that they will have to inspect what the agricultural labourers have got to eat, and so on. They are to examine the menu; these are the gentlemen who have such a general knowledge of agriculture. But there are one or two very important admissions there. One is that the wages of the agricultural labourer are much too low in several districts. What is the next admission? The next admission is that drastic steps "will have to be taken in order to force them up. That is brought out in the Report of the "secret, dishonourable" Land Committee, and, by the way, there is another fact which will interest the hon. Member for Sleaford.
I notice there is a suggestion that the Budget of 1909 arrested the increase in the wages of the agricultural labourer. Let us see what it says. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is evidently not on the list of speakers who received the instructions. He has devoted himself to another branch of this subject, but if he will look at the document he will find a very remarkable list of figures. It shows that up to 1909 for eight years previous the increase of the wages of the agricultural labourer was rather slight. Then came that infamous Budget of 1909, and the very next year the increase in wages was greater than in any year for the preceding eight years. Wages increased in the first year after that Budget by £40,000, which was higher than any preceding year for eight years. In 1911 the increase was £49,000, and in 1912 £275,000, and the increase is progressing. The more people get to know about the Budget of 1909 the greater the increase in wages. The increase was even greater in 1913, and now they are all tumbling over each other to declare a minimum wage for agricultural labourers. Now I come to the attack which the hon. Gentleman made on the Finance Act of 1909. I listen to the hon. Member a good deal. He has honoured me with a good deal of his attention, and if he will permit me, as a member of the same profession, I should like to say that I think his last speech is far and away the best speech I have heard him deliver in this House. I think he has treated the subject with admirable force. Of course, there was the same old complaint, the same old joke, and the same old song, but the rendering of it has improved very considerably.
841 What is the complaint? It is that before the Finance Act of 1009, in spite of there being a Radical Government in power, we were having idyllic days—builders were flourishing, no failures, trade booming, agricultural wages simply leaping up like salmon out of the weir, houses sprouting everywhere, confidence in land, in business, and everywhere. That was more or less the description which was given at that time. I have not given the exact language, but I have picked out a few phrases and strung them together, and I have summarised them. Then came the Budget of 1909. Before that We are told there was no short age of houses, no overcrowding, because the builders supplied all that was needed, and the land was supplied on perfectly reasonable terms by the landlords; but after the Budget of 1909 it was said there was a total eclipse and a complete change. There was no more building, trade was bad, security vanished, and nobody had any confidence. There was no public credit; in fact, it was the end of all things. That is the view which the hon. Gentleman opposite held. It was asserted that there was a deficiency of houses, and there was a prediction delivered in June, 1909, that the result of the Budget of 1909 would be unemployment.
Let us have all these statements examined. Let us examine all the hallucinations harboured by the inmates of the Land Union. Let us examine, first of all, what has happened to land. I am told that the great, contest is upon the value of land, and that at present nobody has any confidence in land. We are asked who will buy the land when you are charging a halfpenny in the £ on undeveloped land. We are told nobody will buy it, that it is a drug in the market. But what has happened? Here again I have got the document which the. hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Lane-Fox) has justified me in using, I mean "Instructions to Unionist speakers." What do they say? They are talking about the value of land, and they say: "The bottom was reached as far as income from land was concerned in the year 1908–9." That was just the year before the Budget. The Budget of 1909 comes in, and this document shows that from that moment confidence was restored, and investors in land said: "Now, we are all right." The very next year up goes the value of land. I am quoting from this document for what it is worth. Up 842 goes the income from land by £300,000 the next year, which is more than I collected from land during that year, as I have so often been reminded. The following year it went up by hundreds of thousands more. I read a speech the other day by a gentleman who is certainly no friend of mine, Mr. Trustram Eve. He stated that there had been an increase in the district where he operates for the last two or three years of 23 per cent. in the rents, and that is really what has happened. If hon. Gentlemen opposite will only put another 500 questions to the auctioneers of this country, and ask what the effect of the Budget of 1909 has been upon the sale of land, they will find that the price of land has been going up steadily ever since. If I am to be responsible for all these things which have been urged against the Budget of 1909, why should you not attribute to that Budget any improvement which has taken place in agriculture and in the value of land? Hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that so far from shaking confidence in land, it is quite the other way, and there is no difficulty whatever about it. If you announce the sale of land at any time, there is no difficulty in disposing of it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think there is any reason at all for making personal observations, because the whole Debate has been conducted with the same good humour. The Hon. Member for Eastbourne is too apt to mistake offensiveness for wit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear that some of the hon. Member's colleagues agree with that. The statement I make is that during the last two or three years there has been an infinitely better chance of disposing of any agricultural land than you had five, six, or ten years ago. You have a better chance of disposing of land now than you had before the Budget of 1909, and if you put certain results on one side you must put the advantages on the other side. So much for the statement which the hon. Gentleman made on that question. Now I come to the other question, that of arresting the natural increase in the wages of the agricultural labourer. During the six years before 1909, the increase in agricultural wages was 2.6, not per annum, but 843 during the whole of that period. What does that natural increase mean? It means that if that natural increase went on unchecked, as the hon. Gentleman opposite wishes, the agricultural labourer in some parts of Oxford would get a minimum wage of £1 per week in a 100 years' time. That is the natural increase which was going on before 1909 in the wages of the agricultural labourer. Since then that increase has more than doubled, and therefore, instead of the Budget of 1909 having had anything to do with depressing agricultural wages, as a matter of fact, the increase has doubled since that date. Now I come to the building trade. The hon. Gentleman has a theory that before 1909 there was no house famine in this country at all. Speculative builders supplied the necessary deficiency. Why, not only was there a house famine, but it was described in those very words. If he will look at any document published on the housing problem before that date he will find exactly the complaint which he is making now about the condition of housing. Take the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes in 1884–5, of which the late King was a member, and you will find almost exactly the same words describing the deficiency in the housing accommodation as the hon. Member has used to-day. I could give him no end of quotations, but I do not want to weary the House, from books which have been published. In one of them, in 1903, he will find:—In the first place, it every room, good or bad occupied of unoccupied, in all the workmen dwellings in the country be reckoned as existing accommodation, there are not enough of any sort of house for the working-classes without unhealthy overcrowding.That was in 1903, seven years before the Budget of 1909 was carried. There is another in 1907, and another Report in 1906. Here is one in 1900:—There never was a time when rooms were harder to get or rent so high, or competition so keen among workpeople to get houses.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The last one, I believe, applies to the town. It is a description of London. The first quotation referred to the housing accommodation everywhere. Here is one in 1906 which answers the question the hon. Gentleman has put to me. It is a Select Committee on Rural Housing:—The Committee, have had abundant evidence before them as to insufficiency of cottages in rural districts.844 I hope that that satisfies the hon. Gentleman—Cases have been brought to their notice in which people have had to leave the village because of the lack of accommodation, whilst others have been prevented from coming to live in the district because no houses or cottages have been found fit to live, in, and there is no one interested in meeting the demand by building. The house famine"—This is the very word used by the hon. Gentleman—in town and country which often exists in regard to the working classes is incontestible.And the hon. Gentleman said that the house famine is something which arrived as the result of the Budget of 1909. I wonder where he was before.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I took notes, and at any rate I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that the house famine arose out of the Budget of 1909.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
After all, he is here, and, if he tells me that all that he said—I know he will give me a perfectly fair answer—
§ Mr. ROYDS
If the right hon. Gentleman asks me, I may say that I knew perfectly that there was a shortage of houses before, but I said that the position had been aggravated, and that now there was famine, and I went on to show what deficiency had arisen since the right hon. Gentleman had been in office and since that measure was passed.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he said that there was a shortage before, but I think he will find that he did not refer to the shortage before. "Since, it had been aggravated, and now there was a famine." That is exactly what I said—and I hope that the Noble Lord will now realise that I quoted him quite fairly—that the famine refers to something which arose since.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Let us realise, first of all, what is the statement I have got to meet. It is that since 1909 the shortage has been aggravated, and that now it is a famine. My answer to that, a Select Committee of this House said that the famine in both towns and country was incontestible in 1906. I can quote another 845 in 1907. Here is another Report upon the case of Manchester in 1904. This bears directly upon the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman that since 1909 private enterprise has been discouraged, and that it has failed. Let hon. Gentlemen listen to this. It is a report upon the housing accommodation in Manchester:—Private enterprise has failed to supply the deficiency, and there is no evidence forthcoming; that in the near future, under present conditions, it will do so.That is the state of things before the Budget of 1909 was ever thought of, and when a Tory Government was in power. I have quoted one for 1900, one, the Royal Commission, for 1885, and one for 1906–all before the date of the Budget of which he has complained. The hon. Gentleman says that it has thrown builders out of employment. It was, he said, predicted by the Surveyors' Association in 1909 that it would result in unemployment. Look, he said, at the way these predictions have been verified! Have they? Trade was bad that year, but since then it has steadily improved, and unemployment has gone down even in the building trade. Take the figures in 1906. The unemployment in the building trade was 7.2 per cent. In 1907, it was 7.3; in 1908, it was 11.5; when the Budget was introduced it was 11.7. Mark the years. After the Budget was passed it came down from 11.7 in the following year to 8.6; in the following year to 5 per cent.; in 1912, it came down to 4.2; and in 1913 it came down to 3.8. Wages have also steadily increased. The general increase in wages of all trades since that year has been 3.95 per cent. The improvement in wages in the building trade has been 4.44 per cent. Unemployment has gone down and wages have gone up. That has been the unemployment predicted by the Surveyors' Association and acclaimed here to-day. There is no symptom of it. On the contrary, unemployment has not been as low in the building trade for a good many years. So much for that part of the hon. Gentleman's argument about unemployment.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the number of cottages built by private enterprise has gone down, and, as he pointed out quite fairly, it has been a tendency that has been marked for a good many years. Why is that? There are a good many reasons. One reason is known by anybody who is acquainted with the building trade, and, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman had put a second question to them he would have had his answer, but 846 he only put that question which suited him. Supposing he had put this question to them: "Has the price of money for builders gone up; has the price of materials gone up?" Surely those are most essential questions when you are trying to find out the facts. Speculative building depends, almost more than any other trade, upon borrowed money, and if you have got the price of money high it simply paralyses that particular industry. Why has the price of money been high during the last three or four years? For the simple reason that trade has been exceptionally good. As long as you have got good trade in any country there is a great demand for capital for production purposes, and the price of money is bound to go up. The hon. Gentleman tells us that that would improve if his Friends came into power. I quite agree with him. They might have a depressing affect upon industry. This is the only way in which money can come down. One of my hon. Friends quoted a striking figure which, I think, is worth repeating. A difference of 1 per cent. in the price of money for the building of cottages makes a difference of 1s. per week in the rent. Of course that makes an enormous difference when a man is building cottages for the purpose of making a profit on the rise.
Building material has gone up. Bricks have gone up, between 1906 and 1913, 25 per cent., cement 38 per cent., and iron 12 per cent. Everything that you have got as an ingredient in the building of houses has gone up by considerable percentages since that date. Why did not the hon. Gentleman, who professed to be perfectly fair, who was anxious to be fair, and who told me that all that lie wanted was to elucidate the facts, mention this set of facts? He must know, as a business man, that it makes an enormous difference, especially in the building of small cottages, where the price of money and the price of material is dear. He was not treating the House fairly, because he was pretending that he was not making a partisan attack, but stating judicially the whole problem in order to obtain the verdict of the House upon it. He did not state the whole of the problem, and I am sorry to say that he must have known that he was not stating the whole of the problem. He certainly must know now. [An HON. MEMBER: "Limehouse!"] So does the Noble Lord. I think that Hitchin can beat Limehouse after all. I think that the hon. Gentleman himself will admit that if he was stating the problem 847 judicially those are facts which he ought to have mentioned. You talk about credit being shaken, and refer to speeches by Ministers, but what about speeches delivered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? Has there not been a deliberate attempt during the last few years to shake the confidence of the people in every British industry? They have been decrying every British industry for over ten years. They have been decrying Consols, Irish Land, Railways, and investments generally, and everybody knows that that has been done regularly for the last ten years. When one-half of the people in this country have deliberately, as a matter of policy, decried everything that comes into the market, unless it is foreign bonds, and when they say that security and credit have vanished in this country—do you really imagine that a great party can commit itself to attacks on British trade and to saying our trade is vanishing without making some impression on the people.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If that is intended as an implication on me, let the hon. Gentleman make it in the right place and way, and I shall be prepared to face him here or anywhere.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member not to keep interrupting. The Mover of the Amendment was heard in perfect silence, and I am sure the House will feel that the right hon. Gentleman should not thus be interrupted.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment that there is a great shortage of cottages. He says the only question is, who is responsible? I do not agree with him. The one question which concerns everybody is, how you are to make it up. You can indulge in party recriminations about questions like this for ever; but I venture to say that anyone who impartially examines the problem must come to the conclusion that it is not due to any one particular cause. It is due to several causes, and the one question which every man who looks ahead must really put to 848 himself is, not who is responsible, not if this particular politician, or that particular speech, or that particular measure is responsible, but how are you going to make up the deficiency? Does the hon. Gentleman really mean in his heart that if you abolish the Finance Act to-morrow, and, if you like, give a margin of time to get over the sort of nervousness which it has created, does he really say that this is going to solve the housing problem? Of course not. The hon. Gentleman used very remarkable words. He said the mere promise of the Government to build houses would in itself arrest the decline. I agree; but does he mean to say that the Bill introduced in 1911 and in 1912, and which is going to be introduced this year, the Bill which permits local authorities to build, and if they do not build, the Local Government Board will do it for them—he was attacking his own Bill, and his own proposals—does he mean to say, if the Finance Act of 1909 were abolished, that Bill would be unnecessary? What is the good, then, of diverting attention from the real problem by mere repetition of irrelevant and rather paltry attacks—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Such as the Noble Lord makes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Limehouse."] The Noble Lord seems to think he has solved every problem if he can only abuse his opponents adequately. Probably hon. Members opposite who cheer that statement are better acquainted with the Noble Lord's speeches than I am, and recognise the applicability of the epithet. The question is what ought to be done? You cannot increase the wages of the agricultural labourer without drastic proposals. It is not really a question of what those proposals ought to be. You cannot provide houses in this country by private enterprise. I do not care what party is in power, whatever party it may be, I predict it will have to realise the fundamental fact that the builder for years has gradually been passing out of the field in the building of houses—he has been passing on to something which he finds more profitable. What is to be done? That is the real question to which we should address ourselves. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have their suggestions—we have ours. We think the first thing to do is to secure land for building purposes, including all the amenities which are the adjuncts of buildings, at a fair price and by cheap and 849 expeditious methods. That must be done first of all. Building, after all, is not merely the purchase of a piece of land and the putting up of a house. It means transit, public utilities, and amenities. It means land for schools, tramways, railways, lighting, and all the other necessaries of life in a great suburb or a great town.
That is the first thing to be done, and then the problem can be grappled with by municipalities, with the support of the State. Public credit, I admit, will have to be hypothecated. The figures I have given show how very important is the matter of, say, one-half of 1 per cent.—what difference it makes in rents if you are not able to borrow money at a reasonable rate of interest. The private builder in past days had to pay high rates of interest, and anybody who had acted for him—I dare say the hon. Gentleman has done so—must know that he has had to pay the highest and even extreme rates of interest. That enters into the calculation for rent, of course. What more must be done? What is to be done must be done through the municipalities and through the central Government. The first thing we have to do is to know exactly what the deficiencies and distribution of property are. It is idle to say generally that you should pass an Act of Parliament in order to declare there shall he more houses. You must know, first of all, what the problem is, not as a whole, but in each individual district. The Town Planning Act of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade provided that you should have a report on the condition of housing in each district, the deficiency of the accommodation, the quality of accommodation, and what is necessary in order to supply the deficiency. A very considerable number of municipalities have acted on that Act, and have done it very efficiently. I am sorry to say that a considerable number have not by any means undertaken this duty, and I am not sure but that a number are only doing it very perfunctorily.
The first thing to do is to see that the municipalities make a thorough investigation of the conditions in their districts, in order to ascertain what the real deficiency is, what is the quality of the houses, what is the state of overcrowding, and what would be necessary in a particular district to supply the accommodation. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local 'Government Board has undertaken that task. He has taken the first step at once, 850 and so far from this being a loss of time, it is a saving of time, because you have got to know how many houses you have to build in particular districts, and you must also ascertain what is the deficiency in the aggregate, and no one can tell that at the present moment. There are grave discrepancies in the figures which have been supplied by people who had approached the question quite fairly and impartially. For instance, in regard to the deficiencies in rural districts, I have seen discrepancies to the extent of 10,000 in the figures of perfectly honest investigators. The first thing to ascertain, then, is what is necessary, and then the Government, to whatever party it may belong, will know exactly the magnitude of the problem it has to deal with, to what extent public credit will have to be hypothecated, and what will be necessary in order to cope with this very tremendous problem. My right hon. Friend is seeking information as to the number of houses in a state so dangerous and injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation, as to the number of houses having such defects as to bring them on the border line, as to the degree of overcrowding, and the deficiency of houses in a particular area, thereby enabling him to get at the nature of the accommodation required.
But that is not sufficient, the problem of the housing is very largely a problem of transit. It is a problem of getting the working population from the compressed and congested centres into the outlying districts where there is plenty of room and plenty of space—districts which are much healthier for them. It is very largely a problem that is in course of solution in Belgium, a problem of taking the working classes, working in the towns right out into the country to live in districts where land is cheap, where they can have not merely comfortable houses, but also where they can get large gardens which will partly solve even the problem of unemployment when trade is bad, because no man need starve if he has got a good garden. It is very largely a problem of that kind. In some of the Belgian towns you have percentages of 25 and 30 of the working population living outside in the country, and in order to do that you have to consider the question of transit. Where you have a great network of tramways and light railways, the problem is now in course of solution, and in many towns you have municipal enterprises developing on those lines. My right hon. Friend the 851 President of the Board of Trade is investigating the question of transit with a view to advising the Government and the House of Commons what is necessary to be done, in order to develop access to the towns, and what is very important to the working classes, egress from the towns.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Board of Trade are conducting this inquiry through their ordinary officials, but we hope that the railway companies and the municipal authorities will give assistance to the officials of the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade are trying to get all the facts in regard to the problem, and the best method of coping with it. It is no use talking about housing as if it were merely a question of planting houses down on the land—it is part and parcel of a great problem of planning. All these things are now in train, and the Government will submit the necessary votes on the Estimates for the approval of the House of Commons for the purpose of carrying out these inquiries. What I would suggest to hon. Members opposite would be this: I have no objection at all to having the same old Debates about the Finance Act, 1910. It is always gratifying to me that, whereas the Budget of 1909 raised about £26,000,000 or £27,000,000, the only criticism is made in respect of a tax which is only raising about £600,000 or £700,000 a year. The rest of these taxes, which produce £26,000,000, are passing year by year without a single criticism of any sort or kind. [HON. MEMBERS "We have had no chance."] I always like to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Sleaford, and I like to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Chelms ford (Mr. Pretyman) on the same lines, and I have no doubt I shall have that pleasure, although it has been deferred, later on to-night.
I suggest that when we are dealing with a great problem like housing, that it would be better to take it on the broad line of considering what is the best method of meeting it. The hon. Member for South Northamptonshire (Mr. Fitzroy) complained about the character of some of my speeches. Well, that is a perfectly legitimate complaint for him to make. I have endeavoured the best way I could to investigate this problem. My method of expression—I have no doubt hon. Mem- 852 bers will say "Thank Heaven"—is my own. But there you are, I have really done my very best to investigate the problem, and I have done my best to approach it with a view to helping to solve it. You may say I have gone the worst way about it. I have no doubt the hon. Member will say so. He is bound to say so, sitting where he does. At the same time I do appeal to him and to the hon. Gentlemen sitting near him, who have given a great deal of time in investigating it, that they would help in the solution of a crying, urgent, and very painful position of things far better if they applied their minds rather to giving some practical contribution towards the solution of it than to making mere criticisms which are absolutely remote from the real problem itself.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I rather wonder what any practical man sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman thinks of his contribution to this Debate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has followed his usual practice of misstating the arguments made from this side of the House, or rather of presenting a travesty of the argument from this side of the House, in order to pull it to pieces. I cannot profess to have the same facility of language or vituperation as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not underestimate my powers, because the right hon. Gentleman has attained to a high standard to which I do not think anyone-in the country can attain. I prefer to confine myself to the issue raised by the Amendment and to dealing with some of the points the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made. I will take, first of all, the case of building. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Royds) gave some very interesting and important figures. Those figures were directed to show that since the passing of the Budget of 1909 there' had been a very large decrease in the number of houses built and building, and that, whatever may have been the condition beforehand, whether or not there were enough houses, that condition of things had been greatly worsened and aggravated since the Budget of 1909 was passed. Those figures were perfectly clear, and the argument the Chancellor of the Exchequer has used is entirely irrevelant to the issue. All that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown the House is 853 that there was a scarcity of houses before the Budget of 1909 was introduced. We cannot forget that in introducing the Budget of 1909 the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that it was going to increase the number of houses and to stimulate the building trade. One thing struck me as rather remarkable. The plain question which my hon. Friend behind me put to the 500 builders to whom he sent the inquiry was, "What was the effect of the Budget of 1909 upon your trade?" That was a perfectly fair question, which I should have thought might have been equally put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If his prognostications as to the effect of his Budget had been realised, a perfectly simple answer to that straight question would have been made, namely, "Our trade has been advantaged; we are employing more men, building more houses, and, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer prophesied, the building trade has been stimulated by that measure." That question was not a leading question. I never heard a more extraordinary confession as to the Budget than the jeers which came from the benches opposite when my hon. Friend read the question he had put to the builders. Those jeers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's contention that it was a leading question, showed that he knew perfectly well there could be only one answer to it, and that when you asked a builder, "Has your trade been improved or has it suffered from the Budget of 1909?" it was a leading question which could only have one answer. We welcome the admission for it speaks more eloquently than all the statements the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to lecture my hon. Friend because he had not sufficiently studied the statistics and condition of the building trade. He lectured him very severely, and told him there was no symptom whatever of any decline in the building industry owing to the Budget, and he suggested that he ought not to make statements of that kind without having made a very much closer study of the subject. He then proceeded to bring out, as he has done on several previous occasions, certain figures of unemployment—partial figures, which he tried to induce the House to believe showed that there had been no decline in the building trade. He quoted certain figures to show that the percentage of unemployment had decreased year by year since the Budget of 1909 was passed. We have long sus- 854 pected that those figures are utterly fallacious. Instead of it being my hon. Friend who has not sufficiently studied the question, I think it is time the Chancellor of the Exchequer looked into the real figures for himself. Figures as to unemployment have two weaknesses. One is that they only cover particular individuals and particular classes of individuals engaged in trade, and the second is that they make no allowance whatever for the number of men who have left their trade union because they have lost their employment. Therefore you may have an actual decline in the number of men employed in an industry and yet an apparent decrease in the figures of unemployment in that industry. That is exactly what has happened in this particular case.
The figures I have here are figures taken-from the Census returns of 1901 and 1911. They show that in house building in England and Wales in 1901 there were 945,184 men employed, while in 1911 the number of men actually employed had decreased by 72,121. In other works of construction there was a further decrease of 24,516, so that there was a total decrease in the number of men employed in the building trade of no less than 96,637. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the face of those figures, uses the unemployment returns, which he knows are partial and have no real bearing on the question, and he tries to pre tend that the building trade has improved since 1909. In London alone there has been a decline in the number of men, employed in house building alone of 20,861. This is a somewhat startling figure; that the number of men employed in the building trade per thousand of the population of the country in 1901 was 107.8, whereas in 1911 it had declined to 86, and that in a time of generally expanding' trade. It shows there has been a more serious decline in the building industry as compared with that of any other trade in the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to use another argument. He said that this decline was duo to the rise in prices of material and to the rise in wages. I do not wish to say that he knowingly desired to mislead the House, but the figures he quoted did convey a false impression of the question. The figures he quoted were that between 1906 and 1913, there had been a very large rise, I think he said something like 20 per cent., in wages and in building materials. That is perfectly true, but it is a partial' statement of the case.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I admit there has been an increase, but why did the right hon. Gentleman say, "Between 1906 and 1913." If he has made any study of the question at all, he knows perfectly well that the whole of that rise has taken place practically in the last few years. That is why we are in this trouble now. Lost opportunities can never be regained. There was just at the very time the Budget was passing a natural trade boom throughout the country, and in normal circumstances the building trade would have participated in the boom. More houses would have been built. The rise in wages and in materials had not taken place. That was an opportunity for more houses to be put up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer came down with his heavy hand on the building trade and the trade of land development. That development was entirely stopped by the Budget of 1909–10. The trade was lost. We have now, in 1914, the adverse conditions, which were not present in 1909–10–11, of a very large increase in the cost of building materials and a very large rise in the wages of those employed in the building trade. Therefore the real figures and the Teal facts, both as regards unemployment and as regards the rise in wages and the rise in materials, are not figures which at all conflict with the case put forward by my hon. Friend, but, on the contrary, are figures which absolutely confirm the case which he puts forward. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had used the real figures instead of putting forward partial figures he could not possibly have attempted to disprove the case made by my hon. Friend. Then the right hon. Gentleman made some play with the proposals on this side of the House for dealing with the housing problem. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit, and I think we shall all agree, that it is not a very wise position for the State to take up to put such a burden upon the industry of house building as to greatly diminish its extension, and then, as a consequence of that, that the State is obliged to step in and build the houses which it has prevented private individuals from building. It is one thing to say there was a deficiency. I entirely admit that there was a deficiency before, and Royal Commissions have considered that deficiency, but that was nothing to the deficiency which exists now, and I say that, whereas it was possible for the State to step in and fill 856 up certain gaps and do certain work in certain places where private individuals were not doing it—that is one proposition, and for the State to have to step in and build houses all over the country in the face of the deficiency which now exists is a wholly different proposition. The right hon. Gentleman admitted what has been said again and again on this side of the House that the speculative building trade lives upon borrowed money. He then slated, which has also been said again and again on this side of the House, that a rise of 1 per cent. in the cost of money increases the rent of a £200 house by a shilling a week.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not mind the exact figure. The position is the same. That is the whole basis of this Amendment, that interest has been raised, and largely raised, by the insecurity created by the Budget of 1909. It is perfectly true. I do not desire to exaggerate my ease. I know perfectly well that there has been a general rise in the rate of interest apart from the Budget of 1909. I do not say that the whole of the increase in the rate of the interest affecting all investments throughout the country has been due to the Budget of 1909, and no such proposition is stated in this Amendment. The proposition which is stated in this Amendment and which I do maintain, is that there has been a particular and a great insecurity caused to the building trade, and to the whole industry of land development, and that that has, in respect of these particular trades, greatly increased the rate of interest which is demanded, and has not only increased the rate of interest, but actually made it impossible to get the money at all. Builders say that there is no finance for the builder since the Budget. That is the expression they use. A builder either has to pay a very high rate of interest or he cannot get the money at all. As a matter of fact, within the last three years the amount for which builders have failed in the Bankruptcy Court has been no less than £1,900,000.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have examined those figures, and I think the hon. Gentleman is deceived. The figures of failures after the Budget of 1909 for four years are quite appreciably less than the figures of failure before the Budget of 1909. I can give you the figures. It is an average for the four years.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I should like to see the figures. Perhaps so many failed in the first two years after the Budget that there were not so many left.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not think there is any dispute about that figure. The right hon. Gentleman has recently stated on the public platform that the great difficulty which local authorities have in dealing with the housing problem, is the obtaining of the necessary land. I do not know whether he desires to maintain that proposition here, but it really cannot be maintained.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that if you take all the schemes which have been prepared by the Local Government Board for dealing in houses, and they are very numerous, the average cost of the land produces a rent of 1½d. per week? That is the cost of the whole of the land. I have two cases in point which are rather interesting. In the parish of Caister, in Lincolnshire, there is a scheme for building eight houses, and I find that the total cost per annum for the repayment of the loan is £8 15s. in respect of land, £53 5s. in respect of building, £4 13s. 6d. in respect of sewers, £17 10s. in respect of rates, £1 15s. in respect of insurance, £8 for repairs and maintenance—total, £88 18s. 6d. Out of that total of all the rent which has to be paid by the local authority for those houses, only £3 15s. is in respect of the land—that is £1 a year for each house.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
It does not state the amount of the land, but as a rule there would be one-eighth of an acre to each house.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
It does not say the acreage, but probably it would be. I know the kind of houses the Union are building, and as a rule they purchase an eighth of an acre for each house, because 858 that is the size of the garden which the agricultural labourers prefer. The farmer grows the labourer's potatoes for him, and the labourer only grows vegetables, and therefore he does not require so large a garden. Here is another case Here you have a claim for building four houses in the parish of Grasby. The total rent which will have to be paid for the four houses, made up much as before, is £48 7s. 6d. per annum. The total chargeable for land out of that is 17s. 6d. per annum. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer states, in the face of these facts, that the difficulty that councils have is in the getting of land. I should like to quote one of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues, the President of the Board of Trade. Speaking at Middlesbrough recently, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:—The first step in the way of making it easier for local authorities to discharge the duty of providing better housing accommodation is to give them the power to acquire land by easy, expeditious and cheap methods of procedure at the real market value, and not at an extravagant value.That is the politician. This is what the man of business says—the President of the Board of Trade. In his Report on Housing and Town Planning, he says:—In some cases we are aware that difficulty has arisen in regard to the acquisition of suitable land, but we have no reason to believe that any such difficulty exists generally. It is remarkable that, notwithstanding the very simple powers of acquiring land compulsorily conferred by the Act of 1909, these powers have only been invoked in three cases.Having regard to the fact that 215 urban and rural authorities had arranged to build 7,713 houses up to 31st December, 1013, for which loans exceeding £1,400,000 had actually been sanctioned by the Board, this statement by the President of the Board of Trade should entirely dispose of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's allegation. It really is very unfair on the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says we have to consider this problem in a practical manner, and that it is one which he desires to see solved from a non-party standpoint. Then we have counsel darkened by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a prominent Member of the Government, reported in every paper as telling the country that the real difficulty is the getting of the land at a fair price. Another Minister sitting on that bench, equally responsible and especially responsible for dealing practically with this question, makes a diametrically opposite statement, and says there is no difficulty in getting the land whatever.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Really, the Chancellor of the Exchequer plays with words. I have no doubt whatever that he always uses so many adjectives that he can justify one of them.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am prepared to justify both. If I had been challenged in advance I should certainly have done it. I took both points. First of all, the process by which you acquire land compulsorily now is a lengthy and dilatory and a very costly one.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
There, again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has provided me with an exact case. He tells the House of Commons that the process is extremely lengthy, costly, and dilatory. Here is the President of the Board of Trade:—Notwithstanding the very simple powers of acquiring land conferred by the Act of 1909.It is absolutely hopeless for the country or the House of Commons, or anyone else, to deal with this subject when the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes about the country making statements merely designed to excite his audience and to get applause, which are absolutely foreign to the issue, and which are contradicted within a few days by his own colleagues sitting by him on the Front Bench. Then he expects the House of Commons to treat his arguments seriously. We have had no help from the Government on the housing question. As has been already shown by the Budget, they have enormously increased the difficulties of the housing question. There can be no question of that. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer asks me whether the repeal of the Budget would provide enough houses for every working man in the country, again he puts one of his exaggerated questions. I never said the repeal of the Budget would immediately cause sufficient houses to be built for every working man in the country. What we say is exactly what we said about the deficiency, that a very large proportion of the present difficulty and deficiency is due to the Budget, and that if that Budget was repealed, there would certainly be a very great increase in, and a great restoration of, security in the building trade, although it might not come about at once. When you have diverted money from an industry it is very difficult to bring it back again. Having once destroyed credit, it is much more 860 difficult to restore it. Careless utterances and ill-thought out measures by a responsible Government may do more in one year to destroy security and to injure trade than can be recovered over a long course of good government and good law. What we do say is that the first and most necessary step towards restoring security in the building trade, providing houses for the working classes, and getting rents down to a reasonable figure is the repeal of the land taxes imposed by the Budget of 1909.
This is a problem that meets you everywhere. Only yesterday I met some representatives of the Post Office. What was their complaint? It was that their wages were insufficient to meet the enormously increasing rents which they have to pay—the increase of rents directly due to the shortage of houses of which we have been complaining. Surely, before the right hon. Gentleman goes on a platform, as he did at Swindon, and finds fault with the land system and tied houses—although living in a tied house himself at the Treasury—he should acquaint himself with the facts. He finds fault with tied houses and with landlords. He says landlords do not build enough houses. All I can say is that, generally speaking, the owners of agricultural land in this country have done more to provide good houses for the men employed upon their land than certainly has been done by the State. If the right hon. Gentleman says that the State has a duty to provide houses for men in general employment in the country, why does not the State begin by building houses for the men in its own employment? Why not find the money to build houses for the men employed by the Post Office? May I point out that there would be a double advantage. There would be an advantage both to the State and to the men. At present the prices of commodities and the charges for rent fluctuate, but you fix a rate of wages for the men in the employment of the Post Office. Rents rise, and the consequence is that the men are penalised for what is beyond their control. They have to pay 2s. or 3s. more per week for rent, which means that the family budget has to be altered in other ways. They ask a rise of wages, commissions are appointed, and there is long delay, and probably for years they are paying these higher rents. Then perhaps just about the time when rents come down again to the normal figure, it is decided by the Government to raise the wages of these particular 861 employés, and so the men suffer at one time and the Government suffer at another time. If the Government would do as private employers do in rural districts, namely, provide houses for the men in their own employment, that would go a long way to protect them against the hardships which arise from fluctuating rents.
The right hon. Gentleman said just now that no man need starve who has a garden. I entirely admit that there are many districts, or, at all events, some districts, where agricultural labour is lower paid than it ought to be, and I am as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman to see wages in those districts raised, but I say unhesitatingly that the condition of the lower paid labourer in the town is infinitely worse than that of the lower paid labourer in the country. Why? Mainly because agricultural landowners have built an enormous proportion of houses for the labourers, and therefore the fluctuations of rent do not affect them in anything like the same proportion as men in the towns. The employment of the agricultural labourer is more regular than that of the man in town. The agricultural labourer hardly ever loses a day. He can have a pig and fowls, and he has fruit trees, and so far as increase in the cost of food is concerned, it only affects him in respect of that part of his food supply which he has to buy. He pays a fixed rent of 1s. or 1s. 6d. per week. In my county the rent is 1s. 6d. per week, and where a man has a good five-roomed house and a garden of a quarter of an acre, he, with a comparatively low money wage, is in a much better position than an apparently higher paid labourer in the town who has none of these advantages.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that there are hundreds and thousands of agricultural labourers with a quarter-acre garden, a pigsty, a fowl-run, and a cottage of five rooms at 1s. 6d. per week?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The custom prevails over the whole of the country, and in my own county the houses are practically free. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that he is the only man who has 862 ever considered the agricultural labourer. Why did he not consider him when passing the Insurance Act? Now, when he wants his vote, he is full of consideration for him. I have been considering the agricultural labourer for twenty-five years. The right hon. Gentleman asks how many such houses there are. I can tell him, if ho likes, how many I have got. The right hon. Gentleman attacks landowners and the landowning system as having destroyed the agricultural industry. I say exactly the contrary. I do not say that the system is perfect, or that the nation has not the right to alter it if it likes; but I do say that the system is attacked by hon. Gentlemen who have no experience whatever. An hon. Member opposite, whose experience is wholly Colonial, comes down and lectures the agricultural landowners. When he gets Hanley connected with other parts of the country by a canal, I suppose he will be able to tell the First Lord of the Admiralty how the Navy ought to be managed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is always attacking individual landlords. I will give some particulars of one property. This is no model property. There are scores of others where the owners have done much better. I said that there were hundreds and thousands of labourers who have cottages with gardens.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The right hon. Gentleman wants to pin me to the quarter acre. I do not want to be pinned to these petty details as to the size of the garden. It may be a quarter of an acre or an eighth of an acre. My proposition is a general one. It is that the landowners are men who have held the agricultural industry through a long period of depression and make the greatest sacrifices to maintain it. If the nation thinks that the first necessity for the national interest is to change the system, let them hand over the job to somebody else; but I say it is scandalous for a Minister of the Crown, who has done nothing himself, and who is one of those people who are always ready to be very liberal because they have nothing themselves, to attack agricultural landowners in the way he has done. I do not say that we have a right to the perpetual possession of the land we own—not for a moment—but I say that we have a right to a fair statement of the facts. We have a right to get credit for what we have 863 done. I do not say that all landlords are perfect, but they are certainly not so black as the Chancellor of the Exchequer may paint them. They have tided through the terrible period of depression of thirty years because they had capital at their back, took lower rents, remitted rents for the time being, and built houses out of capital which did not come out of the land, but was drawn from other sources. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that if we had had the system which he and his friends think is the best agricultural system—the system of small holders dependent on the State—without Protection and with corn and other commodities at the prices which were obtained, the industry would have stood? They must know it is because there is capital at the back of the industry that the industry was tided over. One of the ways in which capital was spent was in building these houses. I have got no fewer than 293 good houses on one property of the class which I have mentioned. The rent for them is 1s. 6d. per week. There are thirty more houses at 3s. per week. Of these between seventy and eighty have been built by myself.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The wages are 14s. and 15s. in cash. That is the lowest. That is a very important matter. We are always having comparisons made between wages in the North and in the South. It is really desirable to discuss this matter without making it a political question at all. If you look into it, you will find that the real question is between grass land and arable land. You will find that where there is most arable land most men are employed and the wages are lowest. Therefore, I believe, it is equally impossible to arrive at the ideal which the Prime Minister has put forward. I think that on reflection he will see that it is almost impossible that you should largely increase the number of men employed on the land and at the same time largely increase their wages. I believe that would only be possible by improving the methods of agriculture in such a manner as to considerably increase the value of production. 864 It is obvious if you are going to face the problem that that is the end to begin at. If you attempt to force a large number of men on to a small area of land, and apply a minimum wage, you are, as agriculture now is, courting disaster. That is what I mean by saying that the natural rise of wages is being interfered with by such proposals. If you want to put a large number of men at higher wages on the land, you can only do so by so improving the processes of agriculture, so that these men can be employed in that area at a sufficient profit to keep them in permanent employment. It will follow as the night the day, that if you provide the profit, the labour will come, and the labour will be employed and well paid. What do you find, comparing the North with the South of England? In the South of England, particularly in the arable districts, you have a large number of men, simple agricultural labourers, doing nothing else but odd jobs about the farm. They are not employed with stock, or at any specially skilled work.
In the North of England you have practically no agricultural labourers as they are known in the South-east of England. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yorkshire."] You have not got them in the North or West of Yorkshire, though in the East Riding you get conditions which are practically the same as those in Lincolnshire. In the North you get more men, who are in charge of stock, shepherds, horsemen, and men employed as skilled labourers, which of course is more highly paid, and as a result, at any rate, certainly in the north part of Northumberland, where the wages are high, a very large proportion of the labour is done by women at low wages, which is unknown in our district. It is the economic conditions which must govern the industry. All those things could be easily ascertained if the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Committee, instead of making a partisan inquiry, in order to bolster up a preconceived case, had made an impartial inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that he had made up his mind as to what he was going to propose, and that he appointed his Committee just to give some ground on which to propose it. He put the cart before the horse. The Chancellor of the Exchequer devoted a considerable portion of his speech to telling us how much agricultural wages had risen during the last three or four years. 865 He mentioned that the wages of agricultural labourers had risen by something like £300,000 per annum. Here we have the premises upon which this Land Inquiry Report, which is going round the country, was based, and on which these gentlemen who have issued this Report are to be instructed by lecturers in classes. May I say in passing that I have definite information that the secretary is the same gentleman who was the secretary to the Housing and the Land Commission, and that the lecturers are practically the same body of men, and under the same guidance as those who carried on a similar campaign in regard to Chinese labour and the iniquities of the House of Lords?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not know the gentlemen at all, but I am perfectly certain that the secretary had absolutely nothing whatever to do with the Chinese labour agitation.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I at once withdraw, if it is not so, but I saw the statement in the Press, that this gentleman had acted as secretary of the Land and Housing Councils, and it was stated, greatly to his credit, that he had acted previously in the some capacity in reference to other Committees.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am quite sure that he had been carrying on a general campaign in the interest of the Liberal party. Now these people are to be coached for a fortnight in the difference between a swede and a mangel-wurzel. I do not think that they they would know, unless they got a practical farmer to send them one of each beforehand. I believe that there is one of each in every class-room. Here is a statement upon which the Report is based. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has just been telling us that agricultural wages have been steadily rising. That is what he says when we find fault with the Budget, and then he tells us that it is because of the Budget. The Committee say, as is shown in this volume, thatthe real earnings of agricultural labourers have actually fallen in many parts of England during the last few years. This is surely, however we look at it, a amentable record.Well, that is not true. The fact is that this Committee, so far as I can gather from reading the Report, have based it upon the statistics of 1907.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and gallant Gentleman will observe the words the "real earnings." The point is, and it is explained fully there, that having regard to the rise in the price of commodities, although there, is a nominal increase of money in the wage, there is a real decrease in what is earned.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I think that the statistics were out of date, and I think also that they were quite wrong in taking as they did general figures over the whole country, showing the rise; in the cost of living, and applying those to the agricultural labourers. They made no allowance whatever for the feature which I have been mentioning, the question of rent and the question of garden produce, and which, to a large extent, takes the agricultural labourer out of the ordinary category in the matter of cost of living. If the right hon. Gentleman wants them, I have here two budgets, compiled by the Women's Fabian Society, who have investigated the very serious matter of the small amount left for food in working-class houses. They take here the case of a printer's labourer, whose wages are 24s. per week. He has got to pay 8s. rent, 1s. for burial and insurance, 1s. 6d. for boot club, etc., and the total effect of the payments, including rent, which he has to make, is that he is left only 7s. for food for himself and his family. That is the case of a man in the town. The agricultural labourer's wages are taken at 14s. 3d., out of which he is paying 1s. rent, and he has 7s. 9d. for food. Then they go on to point out the enormous difference which the garden makes in the calculations. The townsman with 7s. has to buy everything, while the labourer has 7s. 9d., and he has besides that everything that he can get out of his garden, his pigstye, etc. Therefore, it is obvious that the conditions of the agricultural labourer are greatly better than the conditions of the townsman in that respect.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
There, again, is a point on which both the hon. Gentleman and the Committee are entirely at fault. Again you rely upon old statistics. It has been said from month to month for the last, I do not know how many years, that the people are all leaving the country for the town, and that the agricultural districts are being depopulated. That is absolutely wrong. On the contrary, the 867 population is now going back, and has been going back. Between 1901 and 1911 the tide has turned. These figures have all been most carefully extracted from the Census returns, and I can vouch for them. There was a great decline between 1891 and 1901. That was a decline which had followed other declines, and it sank into the minds of people who studied this question. The hon. Gentleman was quite honestly under the impression that that was continued in the new Census, the figures for which have only recently been published; but the whole of the loss which occurred between 1891 and 1901 has been recovered between 1901 and 1911, and there were as many people in the agricultural districts in 1911 as in 1891. If you look into it, what moves these things is not Chancellors of the Exchequer, but natural causes. Here you have exactly what you would expect. We had a period of intense agricultural depression which ended somewhere about a little after 1900, and naturally, as the position of agriculture began to improve, the migration from agricultural districts began to slacken, and, as the improvement advanced, naturally the population began to go back again; and they will continue to go back again if only they are let alone to do their own business in their own way.
I do not state that there has been no improvement in agriculture, and I do not state that the Budget has succeeded in so interfering with the play of natural forces that it has entirely stopped improvement in the agricultural industry. What I do say is that it has retarded that improvement, by creating insecurity, by pressing on individuals who own land, and still more by the preposterous taxes in the shape of Undeveloped Land Duties, and Death Duties, which have been piled on agricultural land. I have got here a valuation of a most interesting character, which has been served upon me. It is the valuation of a farm. It shows the way agricultural land is benefited by the Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer claims that one of the great advantages of his Budget is that he is going to get a true valuation, on which he is going to do these things. He is going to get land, when he wants it, at a fair price. He is also going to get a very much larger sum in Death Duties. This is a valuation of a clay farm in Lincolnshire. According to this extraordinary Statute, when a valuation has existed for sixty days, and has not been 868 questioned, it becomes absolutely statutory, and no one can alter it. This valuation is, therefore, statutory. The first point is that, although the acreage of this farm was returned in Form 4 as 241 acres, and although the Creator made the farm 241 acres, yet, according to the law of England, it is now a farm of 286 acres. I do not know how the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to deal with that claim for a higher power than any mortal certainly possesses of turning this farm of 241 acres into a farm of 286 acres.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Yea, but this is such rubbish that I would not incur the expense. Does the hon. Gentleman think that the country is going to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the end? It is bound to come down, and I am not going to incur expense in protesting, against absurd valuations of this kind. I did not take the slightest notice of it. Here you have this clay farm of 240 acres let at £1 an acre. The farm would not exist but for a river wall protecting it from the North Sea, built at the cost of the private owner, and but for which two-thirds of the land would have been under the sea. No allowance is made in this wonderful valuation for the expenses which are incurred every year in mending the wall. The outgoings on insurance of the property and various other charges amount to £64 1s. 3d., leaving a net rental of £180 on the farm. I have here the actual particulars of sums expended under a contract with a builder for the erection of houses and cottages on this farm during the last twenty years to the amount of £1,300, leaving the net rent at £120 a year. The farm has no kind of building value, and this valuation is for a total value of £8,350, something like seventy years' purchase of the rental. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say that he supposes this land has a building value. But the value for agricultural purposes is £8,243, which shows that the farm has not got a building value. The site value, divested of all buildings, and every other sort of improvement, is put at £6,957. Let us see how this is going to work out. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told 869 us that this is going to enable him to get land at a fair value for public purposes. If the right hon. Gentleman can get a tenant who will accept him as landlord, he may have the farm on a 20 per cent. reduction of the price fixed in the valuation. I make him that offer across the floor of the House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman make that offer all round on behalf of landlords in general?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes, the hon. Gentleman made an offer, but will he do so on behalf of the landlords throughout the country that the land shall be purchased by the State at a valuation, or is he to pick and choose where he likes?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I have made only one offer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—nothing more and nothing less. The valuation put upon the farm is the first I have had, and here it is. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may have the property at 20 per cent. less than the valuation. There I began and there I end, and if he wants to settle with other landlords let him go and talk to them. How is this going to work out under the wonderful Death Duties? Here is the total value of £8,350, and for the purpose of the Death Duties the Valuation Department insist upon taking that amount. The Death Duties would be at least 15 per cent.—10 per cent. Death Duty and 5 per cent. Succession Duty, a total of 15 per cent. on £8,350; in other words, ten years entire rent for the farm will be taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Death Duties. He goes about the country and he says, "Not one copper have I put on agricultural land." How does the Chancellor of the Exchequer expect that the landlords are going to build houses and cottages and put money into farms when he comes down and takes the rent for ten years to pay these preposterous taxes? Ten years of the income is to be taken, if his proposal is carried out, in the form of Death Duties.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That is the case of the large owner, yet the hon. Gentleman thinks it is an obvious error. Here we have the Death Duties on a little bit of 870 house property in Richmond, Yorkshire—another Richmond case, curiously enough, but it has nothing to do with the other case at all. Here we have a small house property returned by the executors as of the total value of £347. The Valuation Department refused to accept that amount, and their valuer fixed the value at £715. They wrote to the executors and demanded that they should furnish a new affidavit revising their valuation, and take into account that the value was £715 and not £347. The executors refused to do so, and were thereupon threatened with legal proceedings. They could not carry on legal proceedings against the Crown with an estate of £415, and, therefore, under compulsion, and at the point of the bayonet, they altered the amount to £715 for this small estate, and paid £13 14s. 10d. duty. Then this is what happened to the property—it was sold in the open market by auction. Up to the time of the Budget it was always supposed that the price obtained in the open market by auction was the value. Now they say they have nothing to do with the open market, and in this particular case the property sold in the open market brought the sum of £295. The executors wrote to the Valuation Department stating that the house had been sold for £295, and pointed out that they should be charged on the return of £315, though I do not see why they should have done that, seeing that the property sold for £295. What was the answer of the department? It was a refusal to do that, but they offered to reduce the amount to £540. That was the way in which the Death Duties were carried out in that instance. There is another case. A gentleman in Cornwall had two valuations of some cottage property served upon him by mistake. One of the valuers valued the property at £100 and the other at £200–only 100 per cent. difference in, the valuation. The whole basis of the valuation is an utter o absurdity. A business report is issued weekly from the estate market, and here is a passage relating to provisional valuations. It says:—Provincial valuations, made pursuant to the Finance Act, are often now inserted in particulars of sale or stated in the auction room, more as a matter of interest than because of any bearing they may have on the value of the property.That is what the market thinks. I will conclude by pointing out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he does not advance his case, nor any of the proposals which he has made to the country, or which the Prime Minister has made, by 871 making personal attacks upon individuals simply because they happen to disagree with him in politics. He has recently been up to Scotland, and he has made two personal attacks upon two landowners in Scotland, simply because they happen to be dukes. He seems to think he is entitled to ruin the land in order to spite the dukes. I think the most monstrous case was his action with regard to the Duke of Sutherland, when, in order to score a controversial point he makes use of information supplied to the Death Duty Office, which should be treated as confidential, as to the returns made by the trustees of the value of certain property. It is bad enough to use that information at all, but to misuse it is ten times worse. As we know now, he commits what I consider to be the unpardonable offence for a Minister of the Crown by making use for political purposes and for party advantage, of information which he has obtained in his official capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer for the nation as a whole.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I thought that these cases would have been raised before I intervened, and I am sorry the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not do so before I addressed the House. I can only make this explanation now, by leave of the House. I did not publish the figures. I wrote a letter to the Duke of Sutherland, and surely I was entitled to do so, and to refer to something which he knew. He published the letters.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That is just the kind of explanation worthy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I knew he was going to say that. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is true."] Oh, yes, it is quite true. It is the kind of excuse that makes the offence worse. What did the Chancellor do? He wrote a letter to the Duke, and after he has done so took care to publish a statement in the newspapers that he had written the letter, but that it could not be published until the Duke of Sutherland did so. Of course the Duke of Sutherland had no other course open to him but to publish the letter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had no business to have written a letter in that form to the Duke of Sutherland. He knew perfectly well the correspondence was not private, but public, and he knew that it must be published, and now he uses what I call a mean subterfuge—that he did not publish the statement, but only alluded to it.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
It was a public correspondence, and everybody was waiting for the letters. It is a mere quibble, and the kind of quibble which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is perpetually using, to say that the actual transmission of the letter to the Press was by the Duke of Sutherland, and not by himself.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
He had a perfect right. I do not complain of the correspondence. What I complain of is using the official information in the correspondence for party and controversial purposes. He had no right to do so. Not only did he use it, but he misused it; and look at the language he used! He said that nothing worse had ever existed since the days of Ananias and Sapphira.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Is it not the fact that the Duke began the correspondence by making an offer in public?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Perfectly so. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor seems so to have debased the standard of public life on his own side, that hon. Gentlemen do not even seem to understand the offence. The Duke of Sutherland had a perfect right to make an offer to the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman had a perfect right to refuse or to accept that offer publicly. What he had no right to do was, in either accepting or refusing, to make use of confidential information which he had obtained, and which was in the Estate Duty Office, in order to make a party point in the course of that controversy. That is the point to which I make. Not only did he use the information, but he misused it. We have the letter of the trustees that the statement of the figure of £400,000 was not the statement of the figure which was to be liable. It did not affect it in any shape or form. The trustees had no power of verifying, and it only purported to be the value of the land, less the heavy mortgages which existed upon it. Then the Chancellor misuses it, and definitely stated in 873 his speech at Glasgow that that purported to be the full value of the property of which a moiety was offered. Is that conduct worthy of a Minister of the Crown? Look at his controversy with the Duke of Montrose. He makes a statement that clearly bears the interpretation that the Duke of Montrose had sold the land in what is known as the Catholic School case. The words could bear no other interpretation. I am entirely prepared to acquit the right hon. Gentleman of having intended to convey that impression.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I was fully prepared to meet these cases. I understood attacks were to be made upon me in respect of these cases. I waited until three speeches had been delivered from the other side. I have the whole of the facts here, and I am prepared to justify the statements I made about them. As to the school, I have said I regret the interpretation that has been put on my statement; but with regard to the Cathcartcase and the Loch Arklet case, I am prepared to defend those. I cannot do it now. I think the least the hon. and gallant Gentleman might have done was to give me an opportunity of making an answer upon what was coming, and I think it is unfair that he did not do so.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Is not the right hon. Gentleman able to make those points by permission of the Chair and the House?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
By permission of the House the right hon. Gentleman could do so, but I would like to point out that there are private Members in the House, and that the speeches already have been very lengthy.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The Chancellor appears to think that he is to have twice the right of every other person. He makes these statements outside the House, and I have a perfect right to raise them, and let him answer them as and when he pleases. I do not regulate the Debate, and when I am called I make the best use of the opportunity that is given to me. If the Chancellor wants to answer these statements he may do so, but when he makes attacks upon private individuals for party purposes he has taken a course which has brought him and the Government into disrepute with every honourable man in the country. I will not say more because the cases are thoroughly familiar to 874 the minds of everyone in this House or out of it. The whole course which the Chancellor has taken in regard to the land is injuring everyone connected with it, particularly the smaller interests are suffering bitterly, and have suffered, and will suffer more. If the Chancellor would look more at reality and a little less at taking a mere party point of view, and restrain his language when he gets on the platform, it would be a great deal better for the country and everyone interested in land.
§ Mr. BLACK
I have listened to every speech delivered in this Debate, and from the terms of the Amendment I supposed that the discussion would be general. It occurs to me it has been confined to the simple question of the provision or non-provision of houses, a question which the Budget of 1909 is supposed to have injured. When that Budget was first introduced and carried it was said to be the end of all things, and the ruin of everybody. The main fact seems to have been that the richest men in the country have been called upon to pay a little bit more than they formerly did, and apart from that, no harm seems to have come. The Amendment refers to the withdrawal of capital, a shortage in the supply of houses and cottages, the arrest of agricultural development, and the check to the natural rise in labourers' wages. With regard to the withdrawal of capital, it seems to be regarded by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the breaking-up of big estates is a calamity, an evil, and only an evil. I entirely differ from that view. So far as my personal experience is concerned, I have come to the conclusion that the sale and the breaking-up of large estates is in some cases a great blessing. With regard to the withdrawal of capital by the large land owners by the sale of their estates, if one man sells, another buys, therefore capital is not actually withdrawn from the industry. As a matter of fact, I believe that the capital employed in agriculture in England now is greater than it has been for some years past. So far as the breaking-up of big estates is concerned, it is rather a blessing than otherwise. I would quote an example in my own Constituency. Some thirteen or fourteen years ago, the Duke of Bedford sold several thousands of acres of an estate four miles from Bedford called the Willington Estate. The Duke of Bedford has found it greatly to his advantage to sell portions of his large landed estates, and, though he has 875 accelerated the pace during the past few years, that same policy was in existence long before the Budget of 1909–10. What happened at Willington? The land was sold roundabout £20 an acre over all, including the village of Willington, many houses, farm-houses, and all the rest of it. In the intervening years parts of that land have been sold and resold again and again, and invariably at large increases in price. I myself bought a few acres roundabout £100 an acre, and when, a little time afterwards, I sold it in quarter-acre lots, at a rate of a little over £100 an acre, I was accused of bribing my Constituents.
My point is that wherever land is offered for sale, instead of its being sold at £20 an acre, the price varies from £60 to £120 an acre. The real point is that whereas this land was in the occupation of a few farmers twelve years ago, there are now considerably over 100 individual owners of the land, and the amount of labour and capital employed is many times greater than it was when the land was in the possession of the Duke of Bedford. The breaking-up of the Willington estate has been an unmixed blessing to the whole countryside, and where this process is going on in other parts of the country, I believe the same advantages will accrue. With regard to the statement that the Budget has caused "a check to the natural rise in labourers' wages," I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out that it is only since the Budget that there has been any appreciable rise in labourers' wages, either natural or unnatural, and the increase that has been made has been both tardy and insufficient. In my opinion, the wages' question is really at the root of rural depopulation. From what is said by hon. Gentlemen opposite about people going back to the land, one would imagine that they were going back in shoals. It is nothing of the kind. How are they likely to go back while wages exist at the present miserably low level? In my own Division the wages run at 2s. 2d., 2s. 4d., and 2s. 6d. a day in the main.
The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Pretyman) said that agricultural labourers had more certain employment than any other class of labour in the country. I certainly challenge that statement from my experience in Bedfordshire. It is the almost invariable practice to take wet time off for all these men, so that they not only get low wages, but they cannot depend upon getting a stated wage for six days' 876 work a week. It is a low wage, and it is an uncertain wage. The labourers are being advised in Bedfordshire, as the Unionist policy, that they would be unwise to accept, even if they were offered, a minimum wage of 3s. 4d. a day, because Parliament will not guarantee them fifty-two weeks' work in the year. Parliament, of course, never has guaranteed, and never could guarantee anything of the kind; but I am perfectly certain that the men in North Bedfordshire would take 3s. 4d. a day very readily, without any guarantee at all. So far as the arrest of agricultural development is concerned, I venture to say that there is no arrest. Farmers, on the whole, are doing well. I know some of these distressed agriculturists; I see the way they live, how they spend their time, how many of them can enjoy the pleasures of hunting, or go driving about the countryside in motor-cars. I know that they are badly off; we are all badly off. But, at any rate, agriculture is a good deal better than many of them make out. In my opinion, if only the labourers engaged in the industry are paid a reasonable wage, a wage on which they can live in some sort of comfort, it will be better for the industry—for the labourers, of course, but also for the employers. The Tory theory seems to be that men are employed by farmers because the farmers love the wives and children of the labourers, because they want to do the labourers a good turn. It is seriously put forward that men are employed, not because it pays the employer to employ them, but because of some advantage which the employers wish to confer. It is nothing of the kind. I believe that a minimum wage proposal, when it is brought forward, will be an advantage, not only to the labourer, but to the employers as well, because, in my opinion, poorly paid labour means less efficient work.
§ Major WEIGALL
I am afraid I cannot follow the last hon. Gentleman in his reasons for increasing the wages of the agricultural labourer, but I should like to say one word on the reasons he has advanced for the improvement that the large sale of agricultural estates has rendered to the whole agricultural community. I cannot help feeling that the evidence of all those who came before us on the Haversham Committee is probably more reliable than the particular instance that the hon. Member mentioned. Every single farmer, large and small, that came before us gave it as his unqualified opinion that be desired nothing better than to remain 877 on the ordinary, average, well-managed estate in this country. I should like to clear up an observation, or observations, that were made both by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Carnarvon with reference to the Haversham Committee. The Chancellor advanced as a reason why there must be a secret Land Inquiry that you could not get the small man to come forward. He turned to the House, and asked: "Where was the small man on the Haversham Committee; there was an impartial Committee for you!" That was truly worthy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer! Our reference set out by the Government was to inquire into the position of the tenant farmer who had his holding sold over his head. I remember perfectly well that on the first occasion that the Committee met in the Commission House Lord Haversham remarked—it was the very first remark he made—"Remember we are only dealing for the Government with the question of the tenant farmers, large and small, in the country; we have nothing whatever to do with the smallholder or the labourer." So much for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member for Carnarvon—I am only too happy to take the opportunity of agreeing with him here—says that that Committee was a purely non-partisan Committee.
There were men of all shades of political opinion on the Committee. I am perfectly certain that it would be far more to the advantage to-day of the agricultural community if the atmosphere that pervaded that committee could pervade the whole of political life to-day. The hon. Member for Carnarvon also apparently held the view that there was no opportunity for the small man to come before the Haversham Committee. The answer that I have just given applies here too. I do feel that on the whole question all this element of political partisanship, all this element of passion that has been introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of a certainty militates against either clear intellect or cool heads; though I am bound to say that a return of 3s. 6d. for every sovereign that the Chancellor has spent under his land taxation scheme is likely to have a qualifying effect upon most intellects and a cooling effect on most heads. Those of us who have given our lives to the industry, who have had to earn our bread-and-butter in it, desire to see agriculture advance, not for electioneering advantages: and if we are to have the whole agricultural situation dealt with, do 878 for goodness sake let us have it dealt with with a real patriotic purpose, and not as a result simply of a passionate pilgrimage over the country!
I cannot help feeling—I do not want to say this in any offensive way—that agriculture as an industry cannot afford to be gambled with. We have got quite enough to gamble with in the seasons, and the weather; and, after all, it is rather a descent—from the sublime of the seasons to the ridiculousness of a Welshman wailing over the woes of wurzels. I believe with Mr. Gladstone that the ideal system of land tenure in this country, at any rate for large holdings, is where one set of men owns the land, another set occupies the land, freedom of contract being given to both, with ample security by the State for the capital, both of the landlord and of the tenant farmer. For a very great number of years that is the system that has prevailed. You have it from the Report of the Haversham Committee that it has acted admirably. Note the result, the immediate result—and here, again, I am afraid I must join issue with the Member for Carnarvon—the immediate result of the system of finance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the abnormal sales of agricultural land. That was the primary and fundamental root purpose. I say that for this reason; that I know perfectly well, from my own experience of the great majority of acreage that came into the market, that it came simply and solely because of the fear of more legislation on the same lines. It is not necessary to give examples of any particular imposition on agricultural land. I can point to market gardens and allotments, but if you are going to start a land-bursting commission, if you are going to say to any one section of the community that because they happen to have invested their worldly wealth in one particular form of security, that you are out for their blood, obviously you create a feeling of insecurity throughout the whole of that industry.
I cannot help feeling that halt the satisfaction of the Radical party in initiating land legislation is that they may what I may call colloquially "get home" on the land. For what? Because as a class those concerned have fulfilled their obligations not only to the agricultural community, but to the country at large in a way that no other class of the community has done. The landlord has also by his leadership, by his culture, and by his sport, had an invigorating and enriching effect on the 879 whole life of the rural community. He has shared the joys, he has shared the sorrows, of those amongst whom he has lived. This is the man to whom the Radical party to-day says, "You must bear far larger burdens than anyone who has happened to have invested his worldly wealth in some far more solid investment." The tenant farmers desire to remain as tenants under the large estates of England for a human reason and for an economic reason. They desire to remain for a human reason, because they have known for years past that there is a fraternal feeling between them and their landlords, a feeling that does not exist in any other business relationship in the country. They have got that on the human side. On the economic side they have got the enjoyment of the fixed capital of an industry at a lower rate of interest, with greater elasticity of business arrangement, than any other man in the occupation of any other form of industry in the country.
And I cannot help thinking that all this land legislation, all this land bursting campaign, is going to interfere with both the economic side and the human side of the relationship between tenant farmers and landlords in the country. All the insecurity is actually due to the fear of future legislation on the same lines. I see that from either side of the House there are protests that those farmers who, I agree, are enduring extreme hardship, those few who have had farms sold over their heads—and there is no doubt they have suffered severe hardship—that these men should have compensation under the Disturbance Clauses of the Agricultural Holdings Act. But what I say to those who are furnishing these Amendments in agricultural legislation is this: Surely, if you remove the cause of the disease—the disease being insecurity created by recent legislation—the disease itself must disappear. I cannot help feeling that would be a far better way of approaching this subject than to have the disease continuing and try to find some local cures. I do hope that the time has not arrived when we have got to turn absolutely upside down the system of land tenure in the country. And, after all, there is the other effect to be considered. We have been able to produce per head of those of the population, a larger amount of food stuffs than any other country in the world.
880 9.0 P.M
Last year we produced 180,000,000 of the 380,000,000 of the food stuff consumed. Under a system that can do that, I feel that the House of Commons and the country ought to consider very seriously, before simply for purely political and partisan motives attempting such an upheaval. I have said a word on the owner of the fixed capital—the landlord; and on the owner of the moving capital, and in conclusion I want to say a word upon the labourer. I realise that there are in certain localities labourers who are certainly earning a wage that every man, not blinded by political partisanship, would like to see improved. But you may fix any economic wage where you like, but you cannot fix seasons. The effectiveness of labour on a farm may alter from hour to hour according to the weather on the one hand, and the conditions of the soil on the other. You may have two fields side by side, one of which may cost one-third as much again to hoe as the other, and it is generally felt the heavier the land the less rent producing it is, and the greater the cost of labour upon it. By fixing a minimum wage upon agricultural land in this country you will inevitably create a reversion to the grazing system. You will reduce the acreage under roots and you will reduce hoeing, with the result that food stuffs will decrease, and the cost will also increase. If you are to improve the agricultural labourers' position it can only be done on economic lines. It is madness to pay a labourer an uneconomic wage in order that he may pay an economic rent. I feel the time has arrived and a good case has been made out for an impartial constitutional inquiry in those localities where wages are below subsistence level, and the way that that inquiry can arrive at a result is by holding it on the spot immediately, and I see no real reason why the Government will not recognise that their secret inquiry can carry no weight whatever with agriculturists.
Therefore, if they really want to approach this question, the only way to do it is by a special commission not composed chiefly of politicians, but of men who have spent their lives in the industry. Let them send a couple of commissioners into the locality with absolutely plenary powers to collect all the information; but I want the House to recognise that it is absolutely hopeless to try and fix a minimum wage in agriculture, where you find the conditions so complex and complicated, and where 881 you have got forces operating that do not operate in any other industry in the country. You have to get a start from an economic basis, and any wage that is going to be fixed from an uneconomic level is one that cannot possibly be permanent, nor, to my mind, what is far more important, is it one that is going to do any good to those that it is designed to help. I cannot help thinking that, from the Prime Minister downwards, a very erroneous impression has been created as to rural depopulation. The figures that were mentioned by my hon. Friend (Mr. Pretyman) for the ten years showed that there was an increase of 114,000 labourers—horsemen, cattlemen, and shepherds. At the same time there was a diminution of 819,000 acres of arable land. What does that mean? It means that in all those 800,000 acres of arable land the rent-producing and income-producing capacity has got very low, and it was uneconomic for the tenant farmers to go on farming it as arable land, and he had to put into grass in order to reduce his labour. The same effect would happen with a minimum wage. These 800,000 acres were reduced by purely economic effects—seasons and prices—and bound up with that there was a reduction of the rental value of the land. I cannot help thinking that the rent of land is the sum of its superiority in net production over the worst land that a tenant farmer can afford to cultivate at a given time. I am not a political partisan—I have only been in political life a very short time—and I cannot help saying that I was far happier at the plough than I am now. I want to make this appeal to those who wish to cause an upheaval in the agricultural industry. After all, the whole of that industry is on a different plane to any other industry in the country, and you cannot lay down hard and fast rules when you are dependent upon the seasons for the whole of the income-producing capacity of the industry. All we ask is that we should be given for our capital the same security that is given to every other investment in the country, and that you should not ask us to bear any more burdens, either national or local, than those who draw their annual incomes from other industries. I do want the House to remember in dealing with this question that it is one which, after all, the vitality, the vigour, and the virility of the whole community depend.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I am sure the whole House has listened with interest to 882 the speech that has just been delivered by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, whom we all regard as a man who knows this problem particularly well. For my part I find myself in very little disagreement with what he has said. The first point I will deal with is that the enormous sales, of land which have admittedly taken place during the last few years have been due to one reason, namely, the Budget of 1909. I am certain that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman reflects that no sale can take place unless there is, firstly, a willing buyer; and, secondly, a willing seller, he would not hold that contention of his very long. The hon. and gallant Gentleman went on to say that those sales occur because of the insecurity caused by the legislation of the present Government. I know that before the present Government came into power the sales were numerous, but I question whether the enormous prices received in recent years were ever received during the regime of the Government, the party to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite belongs. If insecurity does exist on the part of the seller of the land, surely the man who buys the land knows of it. You cannot say that the man who buys land is a fool, and the man who sells it is not. We have heard a good deal about the depopulation of our rural districts. I believe that at the present time there are more rural labourers than there have been for many years, but I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman would confute me when I say that there are districts, particularly in Scotland, where the rural depopulation has been enormous. There may be rural places where the depopulation has not been at all great, but right over this country you can find large tracts where the depopulation has been very great.
§ Major WEIGALL
The figures I gave were only for England and Wales for the ten years, excluding Scotland.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I am certain that the rural depopulation in Scotland has been enormous. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said he could not understand why we advocated a minimum wage throughout the country. It is an extraordinary fact that every piece of literature which I have come across, published by the party opposite, advocates a minimum, wage for the agricultural labourer, and they are doing it at the present moment at a by-election in South Bucks. There is no logical or economic argument against it. If you go to Oxfordshire or Northamp- 883 tonshire, where you will find wages particularly low. What class of labourer do you find there? Men without any moral courage or independence and physically weak. It is just the same in the case of machinery. If you oil and grease it well it works better for you. It is the same with human life. The hon. and gallant Gentleman went on to say that it was the legislation of this country which had produced insecurity and constant depression in agriculture, and the same statement was made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved this Amendment. Our contention is that the depression in agriculture, if it did exist before we came into power, was due to one fact, and that was insecurity of tenure. It has been admitted that since the Budget of 1909 agricultural hopes had been rising and agricultural interests had increased and become better. Before the Budget there was agricultural depression, and the reason for that was not far to seek. It was because you cannot get the best out of the soil unless you give the man who tills the soil the absolute assurance that he is going to get security of tenure so long as he pays a fair and reasonable rent, and feels that he will not be turned out of his farm as long as he pays that rent.
§ Major WEIGALL
Docs the hon. Gentleman suggest that the average tenant farmer in England has not got that to-day?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I am coming to that point. I quite agree that in many, in fact in the vast majority of cases throughout England and Wales, the ordinary tenant farmer who farms his farm well and pays his rent regularly, and is quite a decent fellow, is not really turned out of his farm. [HON. MEMBERS: "Never!"] The difficulty which hon. Gentlemen opposite have to meet is that while security of tenure is general in agriculture throughout the country, the real reason for the legislation which we intend to introduce giving security of tenure is that we wish to bring the bad landlord into line with the good. The vast majority of landlords are pleased to have round about them farmers who are doing well. There are many others who are anxious to have near them small holders who are doing well. On the other hand, you will find abuse of power on the part it may be of one landlord, or it may be of two or three, 884 which tends more to create a feeling of insecurity, even in the minds of men who have no reason to fear, than anything else. It is that feeling in the minds of farmers and small holders and crofters in Scotland which has for many years done more to create depression in agriculture than anything else. What has happened in Scotland? The Noble Lord the Member for Perthshire (Marquess of Tullibardine) will bear me out that in the Highlands of Scotland long before the Crofters Act of 1886 there was no security of tenure; there was open rack-renting, and the crofter might be turned out of his holding at any moment. If there were any visible sign of prosperity, if the daughter of the house went to church with a new feather in her hat, the factor made that the occasion to put tip the rent. Since 1886 the crofter has had security of tenure. He has had a fair rent fixed by an impartial Court, and he has had compensation for improvements. That has encouraged him to put his very best endeavour into the soil, and to bring the very best product out of it. It has encouraged him to erect buildings and drains, and generally to improve his holding.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
What was the result? The first Act of 1886 only referred to the Highlands of Scotland. The Act of last year referred to the whole of Scotland, and it was admitted even by the Noble Lord that the work which was performed by the Crofters Act, giving that security in the North, was so good that he himself recommended it to the whole of Scotland.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell me when I recommended it to the whole of Scotland.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
You fought against certain points, but in any case you were a supporter at the end; you were a supporter of the compromise. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, referring to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, talked about "The Welshmen wailing over the woes of the wurzel." That alliteration rather amused me, so I took an immediate note of it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) attacked my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he went out of his way to use insulting language to dukes and landowners. If any person has taken any 885 interest in the modern agrarian warfare in the papers and on the platforms, he will have noticed that the man who has been most persistently and consistently attacked by hon. Gentlemen opposite and by landowners in the country, has been my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. You hear him described as "The little Welsh attorney." Hon. Gentlemen opposite use their fertile imaginations in manufacturing names by which to describe him. Is it any wonder that under irritation he should in a quite good-natured way attack one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite who may have attacked him? The hon. and gallant Gentleman made one reference to the Duke of Sutherland. He accused my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer of some dishonourable action in publishing some statement that was sent to him privately and confidentially. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not here, but if I am wrong I apologise.
At any rate, I remember the correspondence. It began by the Duke of Sutherland making a public offer to a public man in a public Department for the sale of many acres in the North of Scotland. The correspondence took place between my right hon. Friend and the Duke of Sutherland. In the course of that correspondence certain things were told the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the duke, and in one of his letters my right hon. Friend told the duke that he, personally, did not wish to publish the correspondence, and he left it entirely to the duke to do what he liked. What was the result? The Duke of Sutherland published the correspondence, and now the hon. and gallant Gentleman comes forward and accuses my right hon. Friend of a dishonourable action. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also referred to my right hon. Friend's speech in Glasgow. I happened to be present on the platform when that speech was made. I remember distinctly the three cases which my right hon. Friend used. He used the case of the Greenock Torpedo Factory; he used the case of the water supply of the city of Glasgow from Loch Arklet, and he used the case of the Cathcart School. Personally, I knew that the Duke of Montrose had no connection with the Cathcart School case, and I did not at the time understand my hon. Friend to say that he had, though the audience may have understood so.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I never thought it possible that there could be any such mistake. Everybody knows that the Duke of Montrose had no connection with Cathcart or the amount of land sold there, if the merits of the case of the water supply in Glasgow are questioned, I have here a letter from the "Glasgow Herald" to-day, quoting the evidence given by a factor at the inquiry, Factor Aitken, Factor to Sir Robert Jardin, of Castle Milk, Dumfries-shire, who makes it quite clear that the duke did receive an enormously high price for the land which he sold. The real reason for this campaign is—
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
That may be right or it may be wrong, but the real reason why we put forward this campaign is that we ought to encourage the use of the land of the country and penalise its abuse. I do not think that there is any hon. Gentleman opposite who has read the Report of the Committee who will say that there is a bitter attack in any sort of way upon any man whose farm or name is mentioned. I happen to have been on that Committee, and I know how thoroughly the investigators did their work and how questionaires were sent to men on all sides of politics. A remark has been made by the Seconder of the Amendment to the effect that we received so many schedules and only used a certain number. But when 8,000 are received, and some 5,000 or 6,000 are found to give exactly the same information, it is not necessary to use them all, except for the purpose of arriving at numbers. I can assure right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they cannot possibly attack this report for its injudiciousness or bitterness, nor because it attacks one class or another. It is a sane, well-balanced report, and will for a long time be treated as a standard work. It may be that the constitution of the Committee did not meet with approval, because the members were not all agriculturalists. But it does not necessarily follow that because a man is not a farmer and does not follow the plough, he is unfit to conduct an inquiry of this nature. It is surely reasonable to expect that men trained to sift facts and to procure evidence are just as able to tabulate those facts, and to draw their own conclusions therefrom as any other men in any other sphere of life. I do not think a 887 single argument has been advanced by hon. Members opposite which could lead me in any case to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
If I do not follow the hon. Gentleman in his discussion of the present proposals of the Government, dealing with the land, it is not because I do not disagree with some of the things he has said but because I want to refer to another point. Incidentally, I may observe that I wish those gentlemen who are interested in the condition of agriculture in Scotland, would confine their efforts to producing a scheme for Scotland, and not for other parts of the United Kingdom where the conditions of tenure are so different. The point I want to draw attention to is in connection with the Finance Act, 1909–10. This country has been paying an enormous sum during the past three years for valuation. I believe that at the end of the financial year it will amount to something over £2,000,000. What have we got in return? We have only the figures up to the 31st March last, and these show that the amount which has been received from the tax—from the Undeveloped Land Duty, from the Increment Duty, and from the Reversion Duty—is only £223,000. Xo one will say that we have got value for our money. It is all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to assert that, although the valuation is costing a lot of money now, it will bring in something in years to come. I maintain that a great deal of this valuation is absolutely useless for any purposes of taxation at all, if the taxation is to be levied fairly and equitably. I say so because so many instances have come to the notice of hon. Members as to make it obvious that a great deal of the valuation made under this Act is absolutely worthless.
I will give one or two instances that have come to my knowledge. In Gloucester there are two pieces of property. One, extending over eighteen and a half acres, was valued by the Government valuer at £5,700. The owner appealed against that valuation on the ground that it was excessive, and the amount was reduced to £5,000. This property was sold by public auction in 1912 for £3,700: that is to say, £2,000 less than the original valuation made upon it, and £1,300 less than the final valuation. The second case affected a property of thirty-two and a half acres, the value of which was put by the Government valuer at £5,400. The owner, not being 888 acquainted with the Act of Parliament, made no objection, with the result that the value was finally fixed at that sum. This property was also sold by public auction in 1912, and it only realised £3,300. There you have two cases in which the Government valuers valued two sets of property at a total sum of £10,400, which were sold a year or two afterwards for £7,000. Can any confidence at all be placed in a valuation which produces ridiculous valuations of that kind?
I have another case. A provisional valuation, was made on the 12th March of certain property, the value of which was put at £478, the assessable site value being put at the same figure. The property was sold in 1912, not for £478, but for £1,200. In this case also the owners did not know the meaning of the valuation form, and failed to object at the right moment. The property was sold for £1,200, and a demand was at once made for £134 Increment Duty. The owners naturally objected. They said the property was subject to a mortgage of £1,000, and that after the mortgage and interest and other demands had been met, very nearly the total sum of £1,200 would be absorbed. They added, "if you sue us for the duty, we have no money, and it will be a waste of time on the part of the Government." The case was taken into Court, and in the end it was decided that the Increment Duty was correctly assessed, and that the sum payable was £134. Is it not perfectly ridiculous that the Government should be entitled to claim Increment Duty simply because they made a ridiculous valuation in the first place, and because at the time the owner of the property did not realise that he should appeal, and was, in fact, not in a position to meet the necessary legal expenses of so doing.
There is another case almost equally absurd—the case of a farm near Ormskirk. It is a small farm with a house and a certain number of buildings on it, situated one mile from the nearest post-office; there are no works or mills of any kind in the locality; it is purely agricultural; it is not even on the sunny side of the road; and no houses have been built near it for very many years. Ormskirk is not a growing town, the population having only been increased by about 1,000 during the past 100 years. In spite of the fact that this is a purely agricultural farm, and that there is no population near it, the Inland Revenue Commissioners put in a claim for Undeveloped Land Duty amounting to 889 £8 1s. 8d. The owner was very much surprised at receiving it, and was still more surprised when, a few weeks later, he got a writ for the amount, together with £1 6s. 8d. costs. He had no recollection, in the first place, of having received any provisional valuation, and still less of having had any notice that his farm was liable to be taxed for Undeveloped Land Duty. He wrote to the authorities, therefore, and asked them to kindly furnish him with a copy of the provisional valuation. The authorities took some time to answer, and the reply which he eventually got was as follows:—I am in receipt of your letter of the 28th ultimo, and beg to say I am unable to give the information asked for.It is rather a "tall order" that a person who does not know his land is liable to Undeveloped Land Duty should receive a demand for the duty, with a claim for costs as well, and yet be unable to get the information asked for in this case. Is it surprising, when people begin to realise that this sort of thing is going on, they should feel very seriously that land is being attacked in a most unfair way—in a way in which no other kind of property is being attacked. Hon. Members opposite say that so many sales of estates have taken place since the Budget of 1909 that it cannot have seriously affected them, seeing that the prices realised have been very good. It is true that the prices of agricultural land have been good, but that is due to the fact that before 1911 there were many good agricultural seasons. Prices have been good and crops and harvests have been good, and people have not begun to be threatened directly by speeches of Cabinet Ministers in their attack upon agricultural people. It is perfectly true to say that the sale of building land round towns has certainly been affected by the Budget, and also by the threat of something more to come as a result of this valuation.
Is this site valuation which the Government are making also inequitable? It is perfectly ridiculous. If I may trouble the House with another illustration, I will take the case of three small farms side by side. One farm has its own set of buildings, and is occupied by itself; another farm adjoining it, with no buildings upon it, is occupied with another small farm next door, which has buildings upon it. The valuations are made, and the gentlemen in their offices begin to make their intricate calculations in order to arrive at the assessable 890 site value. On farm "A," occupied by itself, with its own buildings, they deduct the value of the buildings and fences in order to arrive at the site value. On farm "B," which has no buildings, they deduct only the value of the fences. On farm "C," which has buildings which are used in connection with farm "B," they deduct the value of the buildings. So you come to this conclusion: that the middle farm, which does not happen to have any buildings upon it, is put at a very much higher assessable site value than either of the two farms on each side of it, where the land is of precisely the same quality and where the surroundings are precisely the same, but because one little bit does not happen to have any buildings upon it, it is put upon a totally different site value than the other farms in the immediate neighbourhood. If you are going to attempt to levy any new form of taxes or rates upon these principles, you will be doing far greater injustice than has ever been imposed by this House in any kind of taxation before.
Let me take another illustration from parts of the country where the fences round fields, instead of being live fences, are dry stone walls. Under the Budget of 1909, to arrive at the site value you are entitled to deduct the value of the building and also of the fences, but you are not entitled to deduct the value of a stone wall. Therefore you get this ridiculous result: one field is enclosed by fences and the next by a stone wall. Because stone walls may not be deducted under the provisions of the Finance Act, 1909, you get a totally different site value for that field than for the other. Is it surprising that when these things come to light those directly engaged in agriculture say the valuations you are making, upon which you are spending so many thousand pounds a year, is a perfectly ridiculous valuation, and cannot on any conceivable account be actually used for any other purpose in the future? That is the really serious part of this question, that confidence is undoubtedly being affected in the case of those people who have been in the habit of dealing in land. As has already been, pointed out, mortgages have been very difficult to raise upon building property in the neighbourhood of towns, because quite apart from the additional value of money during the last year, there has been an additional factor in the case, namely, that people have been afraid of investing any 891 money at all in any building property because they are afraid, not only of the present taxation, but have the fear of possibly more taxation to come.
On the top of this you are going to materially improve the condition of agriculture in this country by telling landlords and farmers that they are to lose part of their ordinary interest on their capital because it is necessary to produce a minimum wage in agricultural districts. How does this pan out? Under the proposals of the Land Inquiry Report, where the wages are lowest they are to be raised automatically by Wage Boards. It is a curious fact that in the case of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, the two farms which are selected in that Report as those where the wages are to be raised to a very much higher extent than now, are two farms, which are let at very low rents. Therefore, it comes to this: that where a landlord is receiving a very small return upon the capital value invested in the land., he is to have his return materially reduced simply through the fact that the land is not able to bear any increased burden. It is all very well for an hon. Member opposite to shake his head. I think he knows that in parts of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire the ordinary rent which a landlord receives for a farm only bears a very small return upon the amount of capital invested in the buildings, cottages, fences, draining, and walls to make that land at all cultivable. If you raised the wage paid to the agricultural labourer what would the result be? You are going to reduce by one-half the return on the land.
Is that any inducement to the landlord to develop his property in the future, or to improve that property at all, or to keep it up to its present level? The farmer will undoubtedly look round and say: "I shall have to pay so many men much higher wages than I do now. I shall put a great deal more land to grass than I do now." You cannot stop him. If the tenant says I want to put my land down to grass he is perfectly entitled to do it, and you cannot stop him. Although the result may be that he will be paying a certain number of labourers a few shillings a week more, the total amount paid per acre on that farm will be very much reduced. I should like to put this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is all very well to talk of farms where the wages paid to the labourer is 25s. and the rent paid to the 892 landlord is 30s. per acre, but on the very class of farms I am talking about the average wage per acre is well over £1, and the average rent for the landlord is something between 7s. and 12s. per acre. Some very glib promises are made by Liberal speakers in these parts of the country, and, although I should be glad to see any scheme prepared which would improve the condition of those living in these parts, I must enter a protest against rash promises of this kind being made where it is impossible to carry them out, especially in parts of the country where the land is not fertile, where there is no subsidiary occupation, and no good means of transit and communication by railway.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
The Amendment which has been moved may be divided into two portions. It calls attention to the want of security which prevails now in land and house property, and attributes that to two-causes, first, the Finance Act, 1910, and, secondly, the recent public utterances of Ministers suggesting further land legislation based on the report of a secret and partisan Committee. I desire to examine both these propositions. In the short Debate which has been allowed to us we have had very few replies made from the other side of the House. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sleaford (Mr. Royds) was cogent and effective, and his facts were the result of very considerable labour on his part, and, I am quite sure, they made a considerable impression on all sides of the House. The hon. Member (Mr. Macpherson) told us that the present condition and the want of security was no reason why there should not be proper selling as between a willing vendor and a willing purchaser; but the figures which have been given to me from a source that I am entitled to rely on are that in the past year or two, 4,000,000 acres have been offered for sale in Scotland, and only 700,000 have been sold. That indicates that there is not a free market for land, and we claim, rightly, that land as a security has now but few friends among those who have money to invest. Another suggestion made by the same hon. Member was that the depopulation in Sutherlandshire was due to the want of fixity of tenure. If he will go to the library he will find that ever since 1886 there has prevailed a fixity of tenure in Sutherlandshire, and he need never make the suggestion again that fixity of tenure will repopulate Sutherlandshire.
893 We have had a characteristic speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer—how well we know the type of speech. There are two Chancellors of the Exchequer. There is one who speaks on platforms and speaks with a freedom which he does not allow himself in this House, and there is the other Chancellor of the Exchequer who speaks in this House. He suggests to my hon. Friend that he does not state the case fairly, and then states a travesty of the facts as put by my hon. Friend, claims absolute fairness for his statement, brushes away the effect of those facts, and then says, "Now, really, really, surely we ought on both sides of the House to try and settle this without saying who is responsible for it." He goes out to Limehouse a day after and makes a speech without altering in any sort of way his previous manner or his previous utterances, but to us he makes this appeal. We remember that appeal. On one occasion we responded to that appeal, and what happened? A Bill was brought in, and when any suggestion was made on this side to amend it, although for a certain time we proceeded amicably to amend it, and the Chancellor said we did amend it, in a very short time we were dragooned with the guillotine and the gag, and on every platform ever since, our conduct, which was an attempt to meet the fair-spoken words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been held up to obloquy and shame by that same Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot dissociate himself from the very high position which he holds. The position which the Chancellor of the Exchequer always holds in this country is not due to one personality alone—it is the product of a long tradition of many men whose names rise up before us, and who have been models of accuracy. They have always spoken, in matters of finance, with a determination to speak perfectly fairly among all classes, and with a full consciousness of their responsibility. That is the tradition, and I am glad to think that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer himself originally set himself very much the same model. On 30th January, 1909, when he was addressing the Law Society, he said:—If the Chancellor of the Exchequer undertook to frame a Budget in a retributive or vindictive spirit against any class, against any party, against any section, I say here he is not merely unworthy of his high office. He would not be fit to be appointed an Excise man in a country village.I wonder if he has qualified himself for 894 the appointment of an Excise man in a country village.I would not trust such a man that he would not tax one dog out of spite to its owner mid exempt another dog because he liked his master. Such a thing is impossible. There is no branch of the public, service which demands such ruthless impartiality as the control and direction of the national finances. A Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have a single eye and that ought to be fixed on the national interests. He ought to have a single purpose. It is in that spirit that I approach the greater and more trying task which is in front of me.What a noble sentiment! How gloriously expressed! Worthy of Bacon at his very highest. Let us see what happened. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then makes an appeal to us in this House to stop making speeches which destroy credit and security. That is the nature of the appeal this afternoon. He said to my hon. Friend (Mr. Royds) that if, instead of going about the country decrying all sorts of securities, we ceased to decry everything, we should then have an opportunity of restoring security and credit to the land. May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give up this class of speech; and whether that would not be more effective than any other form of self-sacrifice of which he would be capable? I speak for a very definite reason. Let me give the House an illustration. We are discussing here to-night the question of securing credit so that we may have an increased number of houses built. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had an interview on 6th May with the editor of a paper, and he was asked what use he would make of the large accumulated funds to be received under the Insurance Act. He replied:—It will be invested by the State in the way that seems best, but I do not think we can undertake any risky speculation such as housing.When he was asked on 22nd October last, he said:—We propose, therefore, to find out what the shortage is and what, houses are required, and we propose to build for ourselves, and we have got a very nice little fund at hand—the Insurance Reserve fund.Does that statement give security to any person who is minded to look into those speeches and consider them, or is there not an uneasy feeling that you cannot rely upon his word? The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon gave a lot of figures. I should like to examine them. He made an important admission, which so far I never heard him make before, that it is the price at which you obtain the money with which to build, rather than the price of the land, that is the real factor in settling the rent. Therefore, if we have to 895 make appeals, let us make an appeal from this side of the House to hon. Members, and in particular to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to try and raise the security of land so that we can get cheaper money with which to build, because that is the primary factor in settling what the rent shall be.
I have indicated what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said on previous occasions about his duty of fairness to all classes. Let us see what he has been doing. This Amendment refers to the recent utterances of Ministers, and of them, of course, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the chief. In that noble speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer also called attention to the fact that under no circumstances ought he to undertake the framing of a Budget in a retributive or vindictive spirit against any class. Since that time he has talked much about the iniquities of dukes and how they harass us. The speech has given a new word of discredit to the English language—Limehouse speech. I shall not say that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer talks about dukes he has any particular idea as to their social rank. I will assume that he deals with them as a landowning class, but he has singled them out with a single eye and with a single purpose for comments in a vindictive and retributive spirit. If his speeches were always thoughtful, if he showed insight into the problems to be solved, if he showed respect for all the parties concerned, they might carry some weight, but I think it is one of the most unfortunate things that they have so little weight with thoughtful and well-minded citizens. It may be asked: "Are they accurate?" That is one of the most important things with respect to the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I am going to refer to the Sutherland case, not for the purpose of going over the whole controversy at all, but for the purpose of examining its accuracy. Let us see what information was used there. I care not whether he was right in using it or not. What he said on 13th December, 1913, was that a Minister in dealing with an offer is not as regards the information at his disposal in the same position as a private person. The right hon. Gentleman referred in his letter to the preliminary valuation placed on the Duke of Sutherland's Scottish property and contrasted the figure with the price at which a portion 896 of it was offered. In using the amount stated in that valuation for comparison with the sum offered by the Duke, it is perfectly plain that he intended that the two figures might fairly be placed in juxtaposition to see whether the offer was a fair one or not. He said the information had been brought to his knowledge that the preliminary valuation for Death Duties placed on the whole of the Duke's Scottish property amounting to 1,700,000 acres, and, including Dunrobin Castle and the best land in Sutherlandshire, the valuation was £400,000. The letter of 13th December further stated: "Whatever figure this estimate foreshadows in your mind as an equitable valuation, I find it difficult to reconcile with the price of £479,633 placed by you on the leaner portion of your property." That made those two valuations comparable. That was the inference if not the statement.
The property referred to had to be included for the purpose of aggregating the whole property passing on the death of the late duke in order to fix the rate of duty payable. I should like to know who dared to bring him that rubbishy piece of information. It is a piece of information that ought to have been disregarded at once, for he ought to have known that the purpose for which the valuation was made was one purpose only. It was made for the purpose of seeing what rate of duty should be paid by the whole estate. Are we to suppose that any member of the Inland Revenue brought that figure to his attention? If any clerk in the Inland Revenue brought that information to the Chancellor of the Exchequer he ought to be dismissed. It would be very wrong to suggest against a very, high-minded body of men that they have made a misuse of information in their possession. Are we to suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted that figure? Are we not to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman knows his own business? He stated that the information was brought to his knowledge. I say if it was done by an Inland Revenue clerk he ought to have been dismissed, for he must have known that the valuation was put forward to see the standard of duty payable on the whole estate. If I am asked to believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted that valuation for the purpose of comparison with the offer, then I am asked to believe that he is a far more 897 credulous person than I believe him to be. If I did believe that he accepted the figure for that purpose, then I believe I am making a charge of incompetence against him, in which case you, Mr. Speaker, might pull me up for making any such charge. The matter was fully explained in the letter from the Duke's representative, dated 23rd December, so that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was misled by some busybody, who brought the valuation to him, he could see now whether it was a proper valuation, or whether it was an appropriation of a particular account for a particular purpose. In his speech at Glasgow on the 4th February, we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer used this same figure once more in order to compare it with the previous offer made by the Duke. Speeches of that sort are designed to call forth the groans and hisses of the ill-informed people who listen to them. How can the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after the information which was available to him, and the correction that was made, make use of that statement? We find here deliberation and repetition as a persistent practice, not for the simple purpose of trying to deal in an even-handed manner between all classes, but minded as he is to seek out a particular land-owning class, and vilify them before those who have not got sufficient information to answer them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer begs us to stop these speeches which cause insecurity to land. Again I say to him we beg him to stop this repetition of this class of speech.
I listened with interest to the figures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave this afternoon. I should like to go into them more fully. I regret that I cannot say that I accept them without reservation. I want to look into them, because I say to any Member of this House, "Would he be content to take those figures and go down to any place where privilege does not protect him and be prepared to repeat them?" If he did he might find himself in the unhappy position of those papers who reported the speeches, and having drawn the obvious inference which was intended to be drawn, have to make an apology while the Chancellor makes none. We had yesterday an apology made by the hon. Member for Dumfries Burgh (Mr. Gulland). He had made a speech which the Prime Minister had explained was an unpremeditated speech. That was the palliation for having made it. Is there any such palliation 898 for the speeches that have been made with reference to the Sutherland matter? We find the repetition after a considerable interval. It was a speech in which there had been good stuff, good copy, and it was reproduced in order to serve its purpose again. Again, we might have it said, "This is one blazing indiscretion. It is only an unfortunate single lapse." Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that? We are asked to temper our speeches, and to make them more carefully and accurately. Our mind goes back to 1909. We remember the Limehouse speech and the Gorringe case. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's story was that the lease was only to be renewed on condition that the ground rent was increased from a few hundreds a year to £4,000. The fact is that it was increased by only £335, and a number of extra houses had been thrown in. The Foreign Secretary said that it was quite an ordinary business procedure. But we find also in that speech the old passage, "When I ask them for a copper, they turn the dogs upon me." He was using the vernacular of the people whom he was addressing when he said a copper. They understood him to mean that it was a penny for a particular purpose. There was not a soul in the room who would understand that the halfpenny was to be an annual charge on the capital value of the property, and they would not have understood what capital value meant.
But that is the class of speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which has made an inroad into the security of the landowning classes. Then there was the Richmond case. There the landlords were held up to obloquy because they had to pay £2,000 per acre for some land. The net return to the landlord, who had spent a large sum of money on the land, was £1,265 per acre, and they had helped to provide a recreation ground, and they sold for a small sum two acres of land for this purpose, and they had given large contributions towards the fencing of the ground. All those facts were left out. Then we have the Welsh case from Lord Mostyn. They are all familiar to the House. I come once more to the Montrose case. This is rather interesting. One of the conclusions of the Land Committee was that the increased rating was distinctly hostile to improvement and developments, that the building of cottages, the establishment of small holdings, the better equipment of farms and the higher or more intensive cultivation of land are penalised 899 by the system of rating, which increases the rates when improvements are made, and that the fundamental weakness of the present spstem is the penalty which it imposes upon development. That is one of the conclusions that are stated in the so-called Land Report. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his desire to single out Dukes and land-owning classes for particular treatment, contrary to the statement to which I have referred earlier, in his noble speech on the previous occasion deals with the Glasgow case. He says—and no one can possibly misunderstand his meaning—that the corporation rate is 9s. or 10s. a year, and that they had to pay £19,000, which is equivalent to 2,000 years' purchase. Let me remind the House that they had very nearly come to an agreement with the Duke for £19,300, and by the decision of an arbitrator, who was agreed to by both sides, he was actually awarded 19,090. Then there is the Cathcart case. It is not the Duke's case. But I do not apologise for my mistake; I have got the passage before me, and so clearly does it appear that the Duke was the person intended that any fair-minded person would think so, having these words before him. What are the words? He goes on to say:—I think we ought to we in future that the Duke contribute towards the rates on the basis of the value which he himself assigned to the property.The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty said he had heard the speech with a full knowledge of the facts, and was not misled. I wonder how many other persons who listened to the speech were not misled. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty spoke perfectly fairly indeed, and said he possibly had information which others had not got. But to any other person this passage, I do not say was intended to bear, but did obviously bear, the interpretation put upon it, that the Duke was interested in both properties, and therefore it is impossible that any person, listening to that speech, could have separated the interest of the owner of the Cathcart school from the interest of the Duke in other portions of the estate. These are illustrations. There is a long sequence of these cases. There are the cases which I have quoted, the Gorringe case, the Greenock case, the Richmond case, the Mostyn case, the Sutherland case, the Montrose case, and many others, and yet this afternoon it was said by the Chancellor to my hon. Friend the Member for Sleaford, "If you would not go about the 900 country making the sort of speeches that you do the security of land would stand far higher." Those are the cases and those are the speeches, and we are asked to consider whether or not they have undermined the security of land and house property.
I do not care very much what value or importance you attach to the effect of the Budget, but I believe I share the opinion with a great many other persons that what has far more effect in undermining the security of land are those tearing and raging speeches which are intended to bring the landowning class into discredit and do have the effect of a man saying, "I am afraid to put any money into land. Rather than touch land, for I do not know what is going to happen, I will put my money into something else." I have ventured to put these facts before the House, because it is important that it should be stated. It is no use to mince the matter. As I said, Chancellors of the Exchequer have hitherto held a high and honourable position. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer has known what it is, and he has told us how he has suffered and felt what he called the shafts to which public men are liable. He told us when he stood up at that box in June last, or early in July, that he knows what it is to suffer calumnies, slanders, and insults, especially when the most of it and the worst of it is undeserved. Has he sympathy for the Duke of Westminster and the Duke of Montrose? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Let us not be snobs. Do not let us, just because a man is a duke, think that he has got no feelings. We may believe, and do believe, that a man may be a gentleman whatever coat he wears, and let us treat a man, whether his position be high or low, as a gentleman. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he knows what it is to face the poisoned shafts and endure their festers, let him believe sympathetically that there are other men, whatever coat they wear, whether it be better or worse than his, who may also have to face the poisoned darts and endure the festers. Search the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and you will find magnificent comparisons and analogies drawn from a book, from which I dare say they ought to be drawn. The Book from which we have all quoted, and always will quote, and that is our Bible. I have found admirable passages in it, and the Chancellor has compared himself with many old worthies and instituted analogies as to his position with that of men whose 901 names will live for ever. I looked in that Book, and I looked at what is commonly known as the "Gentleman's" Psalm, No. XV., and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow me to answer the appeal that he made to us, I would ask him to remember that we can quote some of Holy Writ as well as he can. If he will look at the "Gentleman's" Psalm he will find this:—He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach a reproach against his neighbour.He is the man to whom many promises are made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made an appeal: Let us make another appeal to him. If we will try and moderate all our speeches so that we may always speak with the same candour and fairness and accuracy that has hitherto prevailed among previous Chancellors of the Exchequer, will he agree to moderate his speeches and to try and bring them up to the model of his predecessors who, as I say, have spoken with conscious responsibility and accuracy, and with a determination to bring them up to a model as high as that of George Washington himself?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has devoted the whole of his speech to an attack on the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a time when he knew perfectly well, owing to the rules of the House, it was impossible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reply.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is not usual to make a second reply. By permission of the House a second speech is sometimes allowed, but the rule is that the second speech is not of a contentious character. It would be difficult for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the reply without its being of a contentious character.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I greatly regret it is not open to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to stand at the box as I am now standing here. It is not any fault of mine that it should be necessary now. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot reply to attacks which perfectly easily could have been made before the time it was known he was going to speak—
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The Chancellor of the Exchequer—[Interruption.] I shall be glad if the Noble Lord will behave himself. [Interruption, and cries of "Withdraw."] If I have said anything unparliamentary, I am quite prepared to withdraw.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The expression "behave himself" is not an unparliamentary expression; but I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that, used by him as it was just now, it was rather provocative. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the other side?"] I quite admit that the right hon. Gentleman had some cause for annoyance, but I think he will see on reflection that the expression which he used was one that might naturally provoke some resentment.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I am sorry I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman. I did not mean to say anything offensive, but I thought he was making an unfair attack on my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
If the Noble Lord had interrupted me in that spirit, I need hardly say that I should have had no irritation whatever. As he has been good enough to withdraw, I will certainly do the same. The point I was making, and I think I was not making it unfairly, was that at the beginning of the Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer was here, expecting that one point made in this Amendment to the Address would certainly be raised in the course of the afternoon. He listened patiently to the Mover and Seconder, both of whom made speeches very much to the point; another speech was made from this side of the House, a fourth speech was made from the Conservative benches, and then, as no mention was made of the speeches delivered by himself at Glasgow or elsewhere, the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with all the points which had been raised, one after another, by no means in a provocative spirit, but in a spirit of careful, fair, and candid argument. I think he has just reason for complaint, and for considering that these attacks, not on the main lines of his policy, but really on the form of speech adopted by him in the country, should at least have been made before he had spoken in the Debate. The time at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to speak was perfectly well known. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
May I appeal to the Noble Lord the Member for Thirsk, not to interrupt so constantly. During the whole of the proceedings he has kept up a running commentary which is destructive of the whole system of Debate in this House.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Mr. Speaker, on a point of Order. Is it fair comment for a Minister to state that an hon. Member has not raised a particular argument in the course of Debate before that hon. Member has actually done so, and, indeed, when that hon. Member has had no opportunity of raising that argument?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The point to which I was taking exception was the persistent way in which the Noble Lord, to-day in particular, has interrupted every speaker from the Front Bench with a running fire of comment. That is destructive of the whole system under which the Debates of this House have hitherto been conducted.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
May I, Mr. Speaker, ask—[Interruption]—may I say with all respect that I am sorry I have incurred your displeasure, but I do not really think that your observations are quite justified. As a matter of fact, I do not think that my interruptions—[Interruption]—have been of such a sort as you have been led to suppose.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
On the point referred to I would only make one further remark, and that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been given to understand that the point might be raised, and he came down with the whole information upon it on which to base a statement. He was quite prepared to deal with the matter; if a further opportunity arises he will still be prepared. Stress is laid in this Amendment on the speeches of Ministers. It is asserted that they have had a detrimental influence upon the value of land and property, particularly upon the development of agriculture.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Well, on credit. Let us take that if the hon. Member likes. Let him take any test he likes. Let him take the value of agricultural land.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
If the hon. Member likes, the value of agricultural credit during the last five or six years. I will say, without the least fear of contradiction, that he has not produced a single fact—he has produced many opinions, showing that there has been a fall in the prices paid for agricultural land, which is the surest way of gauging credit, or that there has been any arrest of agricultural development, or that, as a matter of fact, the wages of agricultural labourers have not risen.
§ Mr. ROYDS
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but the Amendment has nothing whatever to do with the value of agricultural land, which has been arising from natural causes, quite apart from the Ministry. The whole question is that the attitude and legislation of this present Government have affected the credit of land and have arrested its improvement.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not know how the hon. Member can prove his case if he is prepared to abide by the rise and fall in the prices of agricultural land. Everyone knows that during the last four or five years, so far from those prices having fallen, they have actually gone up. There is not one of the great authorities on the purchase and sale of land, or those who have reported on the markets, but who, one after another, had said, not only that the rise has been continuous, but that it has been the most marked of recent times. All the great agricultural papers admit that one after the other. It is my duty to read a great many of these papers, and I find in the "Estates Gazette" and the "Land Agents' Record," and papers of that description, reports one after another that agricultural land, so far from having gone down in value, has gone up, and has risen most regularly in recent times. If the hon. Member opposite will not abide by sales, it is no use his saying that the value of agricultural property has been arrested. The hon. Member said the stability of landed property has been destroyed. The truth is there have been very large transactions in real property during the last few years. Only the last three years' public auctions, as will be found recorded in what is known as the "Grey Pamphlet," published by the Land Conference, show that sales during those years reached a total of about 612,000 acres, and if sales by private contract are included that figure must be more than doubled. That is to say, that in three years there have been sales of 905 about 1,500,000 acres. I gather from the argument of the hon. Gentleman that he believes that confidence in agricultural credit and in landed property has been destroyed. A little earlier in these Debates, when the House was less crowded than it is at this moment, the point was made by the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty that a great deal of land had come into the market but it has been bought, and that if there were sellers there were buyers. I am quoting quite fairly from the well-known Land Conference pamphlet, where it is stated that the actual sales have gone up to at least 612,000 acres, and that probably more than another 612,000 acres were sold by private enterprise.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not know how much the average was, but the Land Conference pamphlet is as fair a statement of the case as was ever put forward from the side of hon. Members opposite, and I am sure they will abide by its figures. If there have been 1½ million acres sold, there have been 1½ million acres bought, and the prices paid by the purchasers are higher than those paid in previous years, certainly for twelve or fifteen years past. If the faith of the sellers was broken, the faith of the buyers was greater than their predecessors, and the truth is, if the land was bought by land speculators, as suggested, it was in some parts of the country. These land speculators know their business perfectly well, and had no intention of buying it if they believed it to be a depreciating security. They knew it was good property, and they paid a good price for it. It is quite evident that the whole process of agricultural development in the last few years, has not been arrested. I take one of the very best tests which is open to all landlords to verify. There are very few landlords in this country who do not pay tithe-rent charges. Let us look at the value of tithe-rent charges. I venture to say it has not reached the present figure of £75 at any period since 1809. I think at no period has it come near the present price of £75. The right hon. Gentleman who was once my predecessor at the Board of Agriculture regards that as no test. I am applying one of many tests, and I say that this is one of the tests.
Certainly, by every test you care to apply, whether it be the price of agricultural commodities here, the price willingly 906 paid by a willing buyer, the price paid by the purchasers of agricultural land, and the extent to which the export trade is developed in the last twelve months, by every test agricultural land has increased in value, and, so far from being arrested, the price is continuous, if anything, has actually been accelerated in the last six months. I have had during my experience of my present office some experience of the letting of farms. Whenever we have a Crown farm coming into the market we receive offers for it at rents much higher than that paid by the preceding tenant. There is no hon. Gentleman opposite who has had experience of farm-letting in England and Wales who has not had a similar experience. Whether for large or small farms, the number of applicants is greater than it has been for the last twenty years. The rents are being paid punctually, and the rebates which were customary in past years have become unnecessary for the time being, and long may they remain so. I say, with full confidence that so far from that tendency having been arrested by the political action of the Government or the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, progress has been continuous and progressive, and so far as any indication can be shown from the actual facts of agricultural life, there is not a shred of justification for the Amendment before the House. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long) has anything to say, perhaps he will say it so that I can hear him.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
While I have been speaking the right hon. Gentleman opposite has been carrying on comments which are perfectly audible to me.
§ Mr. LONG
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any charge to make against me let him make it, and I will meet it. I have not sought or made this interruption. The Minister for Agriculture has chosen to make a charge against me of personal discourtesy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, 907 hear."] I ask that that charge should be made so that you, Mr. Speaker, will be able to adjudicate upon it.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to explain what I have said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] The right hon. Gentleman was making perfectly audible comments, and it is not the first time, across the floor of the House, and I cannot reply to them if he does not make them in such a way as to be audible. If the right hon. Gentle man wishes to make any comments I am sure he will make them so that the House can hear them, and then I can reply to them. I was making no personal charge, and I hope there was nothing in the tone of my speech—
§ Mr. LONG
I am sorry I cannot leave the matter there. The right hon. Gentleman has chosen to make a charge against me which, during the thirty-three years I have been in the House, has never been made before. The right hon. Gentleman must either substantiate his charge or withdraw it. The statement is that I have made certain interruptions in his speech which were audible to him, but not audible to the rest of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am perfectly prepared to make them before Mr. Speaker and the House, if the right hon. Gentleman desires it, but that involves an interruption of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman has charged me with discourtesy to him and the House, and he must either substantiate his charge or withdraw it.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I can only say that it is not open to me to reply to the debating remarks of the right hon. Gentleman if they are not made in such a way as to be audible to the House. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to make any debating comments, I will leave him time at the end. That is the best opportunity I can give him on this occasion for making them in such a way as to be open to a reply. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
If the right hon. Gentleman will give me a chance, I am quite prepared to deal with any point that 908 he makes. The one strong case that has been made in the course of this Debate by agricultural Members has been that agricultural development has actually been arrested owing to the influence of the Budget of 1909–10. I believe that no charge was ever less capable of being made against any Budget. I will tell the House why. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have altogether forgotten that the Development Fund, which was provided entirely under the Budget of 1909–10, and because of the financial arrangements which were made in that year, has been the one great event which has been used for the first time in the history of this country for the development of agriculture. That applies not only to agricultural education, but it also applies to the raising of live stock, the organisation of co-operative societies, and to the work of milk-recording societies, all aided, and aided adequately, out of the Development Fund. It applies to the provision of advisers in no less than eleven centres in England and Wales. It applies to scientific research, undertaken without cost to farmers, for their benefit. The whole of this has been paid for out of the Budget of 1909–10, which has been the subject of attack. I say not only has agricultural development proceeded more rapidly, but it has proceeded more rapidly because of this very Budget.
Had it not been for the Budget it would have been impossible for us to have gone ahead with any of the great schemes which are now receiving the support of agriculturists in every part of the United Kingdom. I would like to trouble the House with some rather prosaic details at this hour of the night as to the way in which during the last few years our expenditure has gone up on this very item. Before 1909–10 the total amount expended on the Board of Agriculture Vote was only £197,000. This year the estimate will come to about £620,000, and every penny of that increase has gone in agricultural development of one kind or another. Agricultural education, about which I notice that Lord Lansdowne makes great promise for the future, while it remains to us to carry out the organisation we have already set on foot, has gone up from £11,000, expended in 1909–10, to over £100,000 in this very year. We have for the first time agricultural technical education on the same level as other technical education in this country. On agricultural research, on which we 909 spent about £800 in 1900, we shall be spending over £60,000 in 1914. The development of forestry has gone up. We sent up the money spent on light horse breeding to higher figures than they had ever reached before.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Gentleman is really making an inaccurate statement. If he asks the Noble Lord the Member for Perth, who is chairman of the Committee on Light Horse Breeding, he will be much more accurate. No, Sir, under every one of these heads there has been national money spent on agricultural development, and profitably spent on it. That has been done because the Finance Act, 1909–10, provided the funds. When you think of the amount of money withdrawn from agricultural sources by the Act of 1909–10, and the way in which it has been actually expended on development for the benefit of the farmers without expense to them, we may well say the Act was a profitable investment for them, and even for the landowners of this country.
A general charge has been made tonight, that agricultural improvement has been checked, either by the Finance Actor by the speeches of Ministers. The only speeches of Ministers referred to were those mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite (Mr. Pretyman), and by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the second bench, and they said nothing about any other speeches of other Ministers. I notice there has been no criticism of the speech made by the Prime Minister at the National Liberal Club—the most authentic, full, and detailed statement of the policy, and the reason is that they have no word of condemnation of the Government policy—what they dislike is the style of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are prepared to abide by the facts as they are seen now, and as they will develop in the future. I believe—and I am not speaking as a partisan—I can occasionally speak without partisanship—I say that as an observer coming in as I did a few years ago from the outside, that there is a great movement in every section of agricultural life. There is a development among farmers themselves, and there are expectations being raised amongst the small holders and labourers which we shall certainly foster. Wages are rising in many parts of the 910 country already, and I hope they will rise still further. We make no apology for basing ourselves on a living wage for agricultural labourers. I find the landlords are putting aside their stronger party feelings, and are throwing themselves into the work of agricultural development, and it is little encouragement for them, who have so public-spiritedly, without any of that feeling of bitterness which often comes into our party struggles, devoted themselves to the interests of their farmers and their labourers—I say it is little encouragement to them to decry their property as a declining security, and to suggest the development in which they are taking a public-spirited part is apparently being destroyed by other action, and that all their work is hopeless. They do not believe you, and in every part of the country these men are putting their back into this great work. I confidently believe that the standard which is being set up by the best landlords is a standard up to which we, as a Government, may ask other landlords to conform.
§ Mr. LONG
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say a moment or two ago that he would give me time in which to deal with the criticisms I wished to offer on his speech. His measure of the time in which his speech can be criticised is apparently very different from his measure of the time in which he desires to express the views of the Government. [Interruption.] I do not know what the First Lord of the Admiralty has to say on that. It is a mere statement of fact. The Minister for Agriculture took exception to my interruption. His statement, to which I took exception, as, I think, any agriculturist would, was that the value of tithe is a measure of agricultural prosperity. I interrupted the President of the Board for the reason that I thought he must have made that remark per incuriam, as it is a perfectly well-known fact that frequently when tithe has been at its highest agricultural depression has been experienced in its most acute form, for reasons perfectly obvious to those familiar with the system by which tithe averages and prices are fixed. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that we had alleged that the Government by their legislation and speeches had made it more difficult to grow a certain number bf quarters of corn to the acre or raise more fat bullocks than it had been before. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, although we think the Government 911 are very mischievous, we do not think them capable of increasing or decreasing the production of corn per acre, or the size of a bullock, either by their speeches or their legislation. That is not the real lesson to be drawn from this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman challenged me to say what he thought I said to my neighbours. As a matter of fact, I did not make the remark. The right hon. Gentleman chose to charge my hon. Friend with conduct unworthy of a Member of this House—that is to say, that he stated that my hon. Friend had kept back the attack upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer until the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not reply—a remark so ridiculous that no Cabinet Minister should have made it. It calls for no further comment.
No, Sir; the real criticism on this Debate is the difference, which will be appreciated everywhere, which is appreciated on the benches opposite as much as it is here, and which will be appreciated in the country; between the platform speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what he has been pleased to term his "land-bursting campaign," and his speeches delivered
§ here. They have roared outside, but here it has been a case of the dove. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, after he had got over his attack on this side of the House, made a speech in defence of landlords—[HON. MEMBERS: "Some of them."]—which was not received with enthusiasm on the benches opposite, because it was not an echo of the speeches made outside. It has shown that when the Government are face to face with those who can answer their attacks, when they are face to face with those who know the facts, and who are prepared to testify to them, their statements are very different from what they are when they are making agricultural speeches in Limehouse or Holloway. We are content to leave the issue where the right hon. Gentleman has left it, and we ask for nothing better than that the country should measure the Government by their own estimate of their own policy here.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 213; Noes, 301.915
|Division No.6.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cave, George||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Greene, W. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gretton, John|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Chambers, J.||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Barnston, Harry||Courthope, George Loyd||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Barrie, H. T.||Craig. Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Beach. Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Craik, Sir Henry||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Benn Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Dalrymple, Viscount||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hills, John Waller|
|Bird, Alfred||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Blair, Reginald||Doughty, Sir George||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Duke, Henry Edward||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Duncannon, Viscount||Hope. Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Fell, Arthur||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Hume-Williams, W. E.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Hunt, Rowland|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Butcher, John George||Forster, Henry William||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Gardner, Ernest||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Jessel. Captain H. M.|
|Campion, W. R.||Gibb, George Abraham||Kerry, Earl of|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Gilmour, Captain John||Keswick, Henry|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Glazebrook, Captain Philip H.||Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement|
|Cassel, Felix||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Knight, Captain E. A.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Goldsmith, Frank||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Cator, John||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Lee, Arthur H.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Pretyman, Ernest George||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Randles, Sir John S.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ratcliff, R. F.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Rees, Sir J. D.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Macmaster, Donald||Remnant, James Farquharson||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid).|
|Malcolm, Ian||Rolleston, Sir John||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Koniton)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Sandys, G. J.||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Newman, John R. P.||Sassoon, Sir Philip||Winterton, Earl|
|Newton, Harry Kettingham||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Spear, Sir John Ward||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Stanier, Beville||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Starkey, John Ralph||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Staveley-Hill, Henry||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Stewart, Gershom||Younger, Sir George|
|Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Royds and Mr. Fitzroy.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Alden, Percy||Cotton, William Francis||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Cowan, W. H.||Hackett, John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Crooks, William||Hancock, John George|
|Armitage, Robert||Crumley, Patrick||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Cullinan, John||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Davies, Ellis William (Eilion)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, S.)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Dawes, James Arthur||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E)|
|Barnes, George N.||Delany, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barton, William||Devlin, Joseph||Hayward, Evan|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Hazleton, Richard|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dillon, John||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Donelan, Captain A.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Doris, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Duffy, William J.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Boland, John Plus||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hinds, John|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hodge, John|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Hogge, James Myles|
|Brace, William||Falconer, James||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Firench, Peter||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Buckmastar, Sir Stanley O.||Field, William||Hudson, Walter|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fitzgibbon, John||John, Edward Thomas|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Johnson, William|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||France, Gerald Ashburner||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Carr-Gomm, K. W.||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Gill, Alfred Henry||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glanville, Harold James||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Clough, William||Goldstone, Frank||Joyce, Michael|
|Collins, Gedfrey P. (Greenock)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Keating, Matthew|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Kelly, Edward||Nuttall, Harry||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Doherty, Philip||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Donnall, Thomas||Sheehy, David|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Dowd, John||Shortt, Edward|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||O'Malley, William||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lough Rt. Hon. Thomas||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Snowden, Philip|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||O'Shee, James John||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Sutton, John E.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Tennant, Harold John|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Parry, Thomas H.||Thomas, James Henry|
|MacNeill, J. G. Switt (Donegal, South)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Pointer, Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Wardle, George J.|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Manfield, Harry||Pratt, J. W.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pringle, William M. R.||Webb, H.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Radford, G. H.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Middlebrook, William||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Millar, James Duncan||Reddy, Michael||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Melloy, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Melteno, Percy Alport||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Richards, Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Mooney, John J.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Morrell, Philip||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Morison, Hector||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Muldoon, John||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Robinson, Sidney||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Rowlands, James||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Neilson, Francis||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—?|
|Nolan, Joseph||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
§ Main Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ It being after Eleven o'clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.916
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow (Wednesday).
§ ADJOURNMENT.—Resolved, "That this House do now Adjourn."—[Mr. Gulland.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Eleven o'clock