§ Resolution reported,
§ "That a sum, not exceeding £250,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the Expenses which may be incurred during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1916, for general Navy and Army Services in so far as specific provision is not made therefor by Parliament; for the conduct of naval and military operations; for all measures which may be taken for the security of the country; for assisting the food supply, and promoting the continuance of trade, industry, business, and communications, whether by means of insurance or indemnity against risk, the financing of the purchase and resale of foodstuffs and materials, or otherwise; for relief of distress; and generally for all expenses, beyond those provided for in the ordinary Grants of Parliament, arising out of the existence of a state of war."
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not propose to travel over the Debate which took place yesterday on this Resolution, but I desire to make a few observations in regard to a subject in which I have taken a great deal of interest in times of peace, and that is, the sufficiency of the number of aeroplanes for our air services both by sea and land. I would like to make a preliminary observation in connection with the speech made by the Prime Minister yesterday. I did not conceive it to be my duty to join in the Debate in criticising the action of the Prime Minister in forming the Coalition Government. I have from time to time been rather a keen critic of the late Government and its Departments during the progress of this War, but the formation of the National 674 Government has made me feel that any criticism directed from this side, or at all events from myself, must be constructive criticism of a patriotic character and not destructive criticism. I therefore feel that it is not in my power in any sense to criticise the formation of the new Government. I accept it as a patriotic National Government, and in the few observations I make this afternoon in regard to the supply of our air machines I desire to speak purely from the most patriotic motive and not in any sense from a party point of view.
We have had very full discussions in regard to the supply of munitions, but there has been no discussion in this House in regard to the supply of what is of equal importance to shells, and that is the aeroplane service and the bombs which our aeroplanists are able to use. Perhaps it is not unimportant that we should discuss such objects now, because of the constant raids of Zeppelins which are being made in this country. I agree entirely with what the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief at the Front has said from time to time in regard to our Air Service. The Air Service, as far as the men are concerned, is absolutely perfect. It is perfectly clear from the Field-Marshal's reports that our men are not only equal but superior to the airmen of our enemies. There were a certain number of airmen sent out with the Expeditionary Force. I do not propose to enter into the actual figures this afternoon, because I do not want to say anything which could in any way be of assistance to our enemies; but it is clear, and it has been clear throughout the prosecution of the War that the Field-Marshal and those who have control of our Air Service at the Front could have done with the assistance of a very much larger number of aeroplanes and airmen than they have had at any time and at any period during the War. There are three purposes for which our airmen are useful. For the purpose of reconnaissance I think it is clear they have fulfilled practically all the requirements of the Commander-in-Chief. At the present time it is almost impossible to carry on artillery fire with any real effective purpose unless there are aeroplanes of a sufficient number—in the first place, to locate the enemy batteries, to locate the object of our attack, and to make reports to headquarters of the result of almost every shot as it is fired from time to time. Information is coming from the Front—and information is bound to come across from 675 wounded officers and others who have come direct from the front, and their information is that while our airmen are able to do practically all that is required in regard to reconnaissance, the airmen of the German enemy are, in many parts of our lines, still greater in number than our airmen. I heard only last week of a particular part of our line where there were no less than eight German aeroplanes circling above it, with the natural consequence that a vast explosion of high explosive shells took place on those trenches over which the German aeroplanes had manœuvred. In this particular instance there were none of our airmen there. If it is possible for eight German aeroplanes to go over any particular section of our trenches I think we are entitled, while we are asking the Minister of Munitions to give our soldiers more shells and more guns, to ask him to give our Air Service more aeroplanes and more high explosive bombs.
These aeroplanes are not merely used for reconnaissance; they are essential for defence against Zeppelin air raids. I am not one of the alarmists in regard to the raids that have taken place, that are taking place, and that undoubtedly will take place in the future by enemy Zeppelins. The House will remember that two years ago at least I urged that we should have large airships and have at least one of the Zeppelin type in order that we might meet like with like. Lieutenant Warneford has shown perfectly conclusively that in certain circumstances it is possible to deal with Zeppelins by means of aeroplanes, but in this particular instance it is only fair to observe that the Zeppelin was going home; it was down very low, and our aeroplanist was able to get on top of it. But the Zeppelins which have come over here recently have flown at such a height that I believe it has been practically impossible for our aeroplanists to get up high enough to be on top of them, so as to attack them. It is quite clear that you cannot attack Zeppelins through an aeroplane except from above, because they are armed with several quick-firing guns, and it is therefore almost impossible for an aeroplane to deal successfully with a Zeppelin except from above.
I do not want to pass comments, but it was thought wise that our country should not be armed with Zeppelins. We have got to face the fact—and I think that it would be much wiser that the Government 676 should let the people know exactly what they have got to expect in regard to Zeppelin raids—that we, in London, must expect a Zeppelin raid within the next few weeks. I do not know whether the House knows, but the Germans must know it, and there is no reason why people here should not know also, that quite recently there were over our coasts no fewer than five Zeppelins of the latest type. I do not suppose that anybody in this country knows how many Zeppelins Germany has, but that she has at least five of the newest type, ready for use against us, I think there is no possible doubt. If we are to meet those Zeppelins it will not be by one aeroplane; it can only be by what the present Chancellor of the Duchy referred to as a "swarm of hornets." I do not want to complain of the ill-success of the defence against the German air raids which have taken place up to the present time, but I do want the Government, and particularly now the Minister of Munitions, to give us the assurance that while he is dealing with munitions he will deal with, and will regard even as important, the provision of a very much greater number of aeroplanes than we have had up to the present. We want them, not merely for the front, not merely for the purpose of reconnaissance, not merely to attack hostile German aeroplanes in Flanders, and, of course, the Dardanelles also; but we must also have them as a means of defence at the present moment against the invasion of German Zeppelins.
Then we want, and I think that we ought very shortly to have, some aeroplanes larger than those we have had up to the present time, or capable of carrying larger bombs. We were all delighted at the Cux-haven raid; it was most effective for the purpose for which it was designed. But we have never had a raid on Cuxhaven harbour. In the course of the War we ought to have a raid every week into German territory, instead of having a raid, as we do, of four, five, or ten, or possibly twenty aeroplanes, possibly every three months, or every six months. It would be practically possible, if this matter of the provision of sufficient aeroplanes had been taken in hand at first, and even if it were taken in hand at the present time, to have a continuous attack every week on some German town. I for one do not hesitate to say, after the attacks which have been made on our undefended seaports, after the murders of their undefended citizens which have taken place, 677 that I would not be too particular as to the German town upon which I dropped my air bomb; that is my own personal opinion. But, if we could establish an aeroplane service, there is no reason why we should not have a raid, not of ten aeroplanes, but of fifty or a hundred, taking place every week, instead of every six months, which would go a very long way to carry the idea of war home to the people in the towns of Germany. What we want is to make them realise in their territory what war is, just as they have made the people of France and Belgium, and the people in the towns and villages on our East coast realise what war is.
There is no reason why we should not have far larger aeroplanes than we have been able to use up to the present time. Everybody knows that a large aeroplane was designed and perfected in France just before the War, and, moreover, that a large aeroplane has been not merely designed and completed, but has been brought into use by our Russian Allies in the course of the War. That aeroplane is not merely one of the small things which carry a few bombs of 10, or 20, or even 50 lbs. weight, but is a machine with five motors of 100 h.p. each, which measures 121 ft. across from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other, and can carry, and has carried, sixteen men; and a machine of this type—and there is no reason why we should not have many of them—is perfectly capable of carrying four or five bombs, each containing 400 or 500 lbs weight of high explosive. Suppose that we were to provide our men at the front with a considerable number of these large Russian machines, armed with these heavy, high explosive bombs. I do not propose for a moment to suggest the particular use to which they should be put, for the Army would know how they could be used, and the War Office and the Navy would know how they could be used. Everybody in this House realises the immense benefit which they would be to our Army in attacking the German Army and German communications, and getting behind the German line. My hon. Friend asked me how long they would take to make. It is certainly possible that several of them could be turned out in less than three months.
I do not want to say whether I think it is quite possible that some arrangements are being considered at the present time for making larger aeroplanes. What is wanted here is exactly the same as has 678 been wanted in regard to munitions. That is, somebody who will take the thing in hand, who will do for aeroplanes what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Munitions is going to do for shells, and which I suppose he will probably do in regard to aeroplanes, because he has included in the definition of the word "munitions" the bombs necessary to use in those aeroplanes. Officers have told me that they see no reason why, as we have openly discussed the lack of ammunition in this House, we should not mention that our existing Air Service has been short of large, high explosive bombs, or, as we are speaking much more freely now than we have done in the earlier part of the War, why we should not suggest that this matter might be taken in hand by the new Minister of Munitions. There is no good giving the Government £3,000,000 a day to spend on the War unless it is spent to the best advantage.
Possibly in years past hon. Members in this House may have thought that I was a crank on this point of our Air Service, but the Air Service has been proved now to be absolutely essential both to the Army and to the Navy, and I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Munitions—of course one knows that he is too busy to do it himself, but he could appoint someone who could work under him—should take charge of this matter, and put himself in consultation with the head of the Air Service in the Navy, who is one of the ablest men in the Service, and also with the gentleman who is in charge of the Air Service under the War Office, and get from them what is absolutely required, not merely what they require at the moment, but what they would consider to be the type of absolute efficiency if they had all the money which they could desire at their command. Let them have the money. We are giving an enormous amount of money to-day. I am convinced that if the right hon. Gentleman opposite, or the Minister of Munitions, would take counsel with the heads of the Air Services, both in the Army and in the Navy, they would tell them that they could employ to-day not far more, but three or four times as many aeroplanes as they have got at the present moment.
Let me give one fact which came within my own knowledge, and the mention of which cannot benefit the enemy, and it shows how eager our young men are to join this perilous Service. I went to the War Office about a month ago to see 679 whether I could not get an active young officer into the Air Service. What was the answer? "We have already 500 men waiting to get into the Air Service. We will put your friend's name down on the list as 501." If there are 500 men waiting as volunteers to enter the Air Service then you should increase your means of training at Farnborough and other places, and you should double and treble the number of machines for training purposes in order that these young men, so keen and eager to enter this dangerous Service, may be properly qualified to become members of it as fast as possible. You cannot have good training unless you have got a large supply of machines as well as a further supply for the use of these young men when they get to the Front. I did not want to let this opportunity pass without saying a word upon this subject. I hope the House will feel that I have not said anything which could be of use to the enemy and that I have endeavoured not to give facts or figures. I earnestly ask the Minister of Munitions to realise the importance of this matter, a matter as important as is the provision of high explosive shells, and I trust that he -will have it in his power also to deal with this subject to which I have called attention.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I ask permission for a very little while to call attention to a matter of importance in connection with this Vote of Account and in connection with the continued and successful prosecution of the War. But before I touch on that one point the House will not think it improper if I take this opportunity of warmly thanking the Prime Minister for the speech which he made yesterday and for the way in which he presented to this country the condition of things with which the Government of this country is at present concerned. No Coalition Government in this country can rouse the same feeling which a homogeneous Government does, and the fact of the Coalition Government having been created in the middle of a great War is bound to make Englishmen think, and wonder, and realise more greatly the gravity of the situation. But I must say that both in the House and outside there is confidence, not only in the Prime Minister's speech, but in the Prime Minister's reticence, and we are willing in this House, and the people outside are willing, to take his word when the public interest necessitates his not 680 explaining any detail. While this Coalition Government will command universal support, and will command the support of everyone who considers what sacrifices have been necessary to compose it, the very fact that this Government is presided over by the present Premier ensures for it confidence, and that it will retain that confidence whatever be the fortunes of the country during the next few months or years.
But there is one thing which appears to me to be of the highest importance, if the national confidence is to be maintained and stimulated in the Government, and in the conduct of the War. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in sentences which will not soon be forgotten, spoke of his reliance on the willing support of the country both in fighting and in work. No doubt that confidence is well founded; yet are there not many Members in this House who agree that it is not easy, in many parts of the country, where trade is prosperous, and where there are few signs of distress produced by the War, for every person to realise as fully as he ought the greatness of the War in which we are engaged, and the imperative character of the call upon every citizen to do the best that he can. One cannot but wonder whether it is not to the advantage of recruiting, and maintaining and increasing a true kind of public interest in the War, to have further information given than has been given up to now on many details of the War and on many details of achievements of important regiments, or of men who come from different localities. No one would want to know anything about any matter before it should be divulged; that would be lunatic. No one wants to be given in public any details of what the War Office and Executive are to do. But again and again it is found—and it must have been found by all Members of this House engaged in recruiting or organising locally—that any particular detail of any fight which has occurred, and any particular act of heroism which has been made known, is of high importance not only in getting men to come forward with the greatest ardour to join His Majesty's Forces, but to make it clear to the locality, and to every one who hears of it, the nature of the struggle in which we are engaged.
If there be one characteristic of the English people which is open to criticism—I do not speak about other races, I 681 simply speak of the English people—it is that their imagination is not excessively quick, and they do not find it easy to realise fairly the gravity of matters which are not brought home to their doors. We are told from time to time of valuable though not overwhelming successes in this long conflict of endurance on the western front. Are we always told equally of similar occurrences which go against us and which we only hear of incidentally after a time? I would take this first opportunity given to me to appeal to this Government, which represents all forms of thought and patriotism in this country, whether, entirely in consonance with military requirements, it is not yet possible to give far more detail as to what has happened to the public generally in order to secure that this willing support of the country, in its time of trial, may be given by an informed public and not by an ignorant public—may be given by persons who have all the opportunities to realise that now is the time of their life, when they ought to do everything they can for their country.
§ Mr. FELL
I wish to address a few words to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a subject which must shortly come before him. Following on this immense Vote of Credit there must come a loan in due course, and I wish to ask him, as I have often asked his predecessor, whether there will not be an opportunity, when this loan comes before the public, of its being so introduced as to reach the working classes, and cause them to take an interest in it, just as is done in France and in other countries? I think if the loan could be introduced in that way to the public, the results would convince the right hon. Gentleman that he had been given an opportunity of doing more good in this country than had ever fallen to the lot of any previous Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hold a very strong opinion on this subject, and I have put numerous questions about it. When we hear talk of the savings of England, I would point out that we are spending the savings of fifty years. The accumulative savings of this nation during forty or fifty years will be dissipated over this War in a year or two. While those savings are being spent, it causes an absolutely fictitious prosperity in many places. The greater that prosperity is at present and the greater the expenditure, the greater must be the reaction in the future. It is against that reaction that I 682 hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will in some way provide. I may mention one short experience which I had in France. I was going round a small town with the mayor. He showed me a very large building, which he mentioned was a savings bank. I asked how could a small town like that afford a savings bank of that kind. He told me that two or three thousand pounds were paid into that savings bank every week in excess of withdrawals. I remarked how could that be with a population of from twelve to fourteen thousand. He replied that there was not a person in the town, rich or poor, who was not saving a third of his income and paying it into that bank.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could make any arrangement by means of which some portion of the extravagant payments which are now being made could be returned to the Government in investments, he would be conferring not merely a benefit on the people affected, but on the community and the country at large. It might be possible at the big arsenals and great factories to arrange in some way when the wages are paid that the men, if they liked, might apply a certain portion of their wages towards the purchase of bonds of the value of £4 or £5. We might have £10 bonds, and the men might put aside some portion of their wages each week until they had paid for them, and then they would experience the pride and pleasure of holding bonds with coupons on them which they could cash in the future. They would have that pride of saving which is the backbone of the prosperity of France. I am convinced that something can be done in this way by offering bearer bonds of small amounts. I am always told that people have the opportunity of investing in Consols through the Savings Bank. I ask is it a success, and how much is invested in that way? The amount is very small indeed, and the working classes do not avail themselves of the Savings Bank for investment in Consols. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to try and do something to facilitate this proposal. I know the bankers will be against it. On the last occasion when it was suggested to them the large bankers said that the amount received in these small sums would be very small indeed and not worth taking into consideration. I think the bankers were wrong, and since the loan has been at a discount—since I think it is clear there was something wrong in the form in which it was issued, and you did 683 not get the small investor in that loan. I do strongly urge on the Government and on the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they would be conferring a great benefit on the working classes and on the community at large if they could induce the working people to take some share in these loans, and thereby show some interest in the country and feel that pride which necessarily follows from having investments and from having a share in the stock of the country. By doing so the Chancellor of the Exchequer would confer a benefit on the country such as no previous Chancellor of the Exchequer had done.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I do not intend to cover the ground so fully debated yesterday and to-day, but I rise to call attention to a matter which came to my notice this morning and which I am bound to say caused me a little disquiet. I think the House has shown, both yesterday and to-day, that it is animated by a very great desire that this vast amount of money which is being voted should be properly spent and that the country should get full value for the money. Secondly, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained yesterday so clearly, it is desirable that economy should be practised not only by Government Departments, but by the community as a whole. In connection with the question of getting full value for the money there is the important question of time, because unless you get the article you require at the time you want it, then it is not worth paying for and the money is badly spent. Before the Coalition Government was formed I suppose some of us had complaints made to us about the delays incurred when applications and representations were made to Government Departments, and especially with regard to this question of munitions. I myself had the opportunity of mentioning this matter in the House not very long ago, and there are many others who did the same thing. We felt with this new Ministry of Munitions established that, at all events, that cause of complaint would disappear. But having regard to what I see in one of the newspapers this morning, I cannot help feeling that in this respect things are going on very much as they were before. I read in this morning's issue of the "Daily Express" these few words which I think are material:—On Friday last the 'Daily Express' sent to Dr. Addison, Mr. Lloyd George's assistant in the new Munitions Department, particulars of fifty factories on our register of munitions firms. All these factories are 684 fully equipped with the necessary machinery for making munitions, or are in a position to acquire such machinery at once, and the desire of the owners is to help in supplying the Army with what is needed. No reply to our otter has yet been received, nor has our letter even been acknowledged.The Ministry of Munitions has not been very long established, but I should have thought it was sufficiently long in existence to have some Department which could answer the letters which were received. What would be thought of any business house which had a letter sent to it upon any kind of business and which did not send an acknowledgment by return of post, and what would be thought of any professional man who received a letter about his business or profession, and who did not acknowledge it by return of post? Very strong things would be said. Here you have an obviously bonâ fide offer, and I submit an important offer. The owners of fifty factories are prepared to equip their factories with machinery at this moment for the manufacture of shells. An important offer of that kind should not be left for five days without an acknowledgment, and to do so is not business. The statement does not stop there. It goes on:—In addition to offering these factories to the Government, we also offered to staff them with 2,000 skilled workmen if extra men were wanted. This offer is also still awaiting acceptance or refusal. It has not yet even been acknowledgedI quite agree with what was said by one of my hon. Friends just now, namely, that we are not here to offer any criticism of a destructive nature, but to offer criticism of a constructive nature. I am perfectly certain that business of this Department cannot go on smoothly and satisfactorily unless some drastic steps are taken to put it on business lines. I only mention this matter in order that steps may be taken at once to see that a thing of this kind should never occur again. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking yesterday, referred to the question of economy. I had not the opportunity of hearing his speech, but I read it this morning. He hoped hon. Members would impress on their constituents the necessity for individual economy.
I shall be very glad indeed to carry out his request. But I do not think it is much use talking about economy. Every person is so apt to think, "Oh, well, my little bit does not matter; I will let somebody else practice economy"; or, "The little bit that I can economise will not matter; it is so small." The Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to do something more 685 than ask Members of Parliament to talk to their constituents. He will have to do something to make them economise, or to tempt them to do so, as my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth suggested. Another suggestion made yesterday, that wages should be paid partly in cash and partly in scrip, is, I think, an excellent idea; or the right hon. Gentleman might go further, and take an article of luxury such as motor cars. Anybody living near a main road at Whitsuntide would have seen the enormous number of motor cars that were obviously being used by their owners solely for pleasure, and it would have made him think. It made me think of the wear and tear that was going on, of the number of people employed in cleaning and repairing those motors, and of the amount of petrol being used for pleasure which might well have been used for national purposes. Is it possible to put an end to that sort of things? That is simply an instance. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to say that motor cars are not to be used except for business or on national work it would make people think at once, and bring home to them how essential it is that everybody should save where they can.
§ Mr. LEWIS HASLAM
I should like to support the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). It is important that we should encourage wage earners to save as much as possible at all times, but in the present circumstances it is especially important. I understand that in Germany they have had for many years a system for encouraging national savings. A fair rate of interest over and above the ordinary interest on Government securities is given on savings up to a certain amount. I believe the amount is £200. In the past the German Government have allowed 5 per cent. on savings up to £200. Whether or not that is possible here I do not know, but I think that something of that sort might be done with advantage. The working classes ought at the present time to be encouraged to save in every possible way. After the War there will no doubt be a time of great depression, and those who are getting good wages now should understand that they ought to make some provision for the future. They might also be encouraged to put what they can spare into Government securities, so as to help raise the funds necessary for the prosecution of the War. With regard to raising the necessary income, I think it very advisable that a special tax should 686 be put on incomes larger than those made during, say, the previous three years. I do not think it possible to differentiate between incomes which are larger on account of their being derived from the manufacture of munitions and other war requirements and incomes derived from other sources. Incomes are increased for different reasons, but I think that those who make larger profits during the War should bear a special tax. If it were possible, I should be inclined to put a heavy special tax on incomes increased by more than a certain percentage, say, 5 per cent. It is only fair that those who are making larger incomes should bear a heavier burden than those who are suffering more. I think that this is a practical suggestion, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find some means of carrying it out, so that the burdens of the War may fall upon the shoulders of those who can best bear them. It would show the working people, who are doing their best now to increase the supply of munitions, and otherwise help their fellows in the field, that, if they are feeling the pinch of high prices, those who are getting the advantage of high prices will not benefit by their exertions to any undue extent.
§ Mr. KING
I venture to go back to a matter which I raised yesterday, namely, the form in which this Supplementary Vote of Credit is put forward. The Vote is drawn in the very widest terms, and is apparently intended to give the Government power to spend any amount of money in any possible direction. I am not against giving the Government a perfectly free hand, but I would call special attention to the fact that there are actually Members of the present Government who, in 1885, on the occasion of the Vote of Credit for the Soudan operations, protested very strongly indeed against the Votes not being strictly limited in the terms of the Supplementary Estimate which was then put before the House. I have read the Debate which took place on that occasion and I wish the financial authorities on the Treasury Bench would do the same. An Amendment was moved by Mr. Arthur O'Connor complaining of the way in which the Estimate was framed, because it mixed up the money to be spent on increasing the Army and the Navy with the money actually being spent in the Soudan. He was supported by Sir Henry Holland, by the right hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin), by 687 Mr. W. H. Smith, by Sir John Gorst, and by Sir Stafford Northcote. Last, but not least, he was supported by the present First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Balfour), who protested, in his usual vigorous language, that he had never heard a weaker or more confused case put forward on behalf of an Estimate than the one put forward on that occasion by the late Duke of Devonshire. There can be no doubt that the principle has been established, not only in practice, but by the constant assertion of authorities in this House, that if you have a Vote of Credit you ought to define as clearly as possible not only the amount, but the object to which the Vote of Credit is to be devoted. With regard to one matter, at any rate, there is the greatest amount of uncertainty as to the direction in which this money is to go. The Prime Minister yesterday said that we had to add to the £200,000,000 which will be wanted for the Army and the Navy £50,000,000 at the rate of £500,000 a day—to meet other expenses such as advances to our Dominions, and to Allied Powers, and other foreign States."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1915, col. 555.]The Prime Minister therefore stated that out of this Vote we are going to advance money to other Powers with which we are not actually in alliance. I think that is perfectly clear. In the course of the Debate I called attention to the Prime Minister's statement, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer took it upon himself to correct me and, by implication, his worthy chief. He also called attention to the note at the foot of the Estimate, in which it is stated that this money will be required for loans to His Majesty's Dominions or Protectorates, and to Allied Powers, but in which note there is no reference, as there was in the Prime Minister's speech, to other foreign Powers. I am inclined to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether a note added without the signature of any official person is at all binding upon the Treasury? The implication or suggestion made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that this note was as good as if it stood in the actual terms of the Vote. It is surely a new doctrine if a mere note added to a Resolution as an explanatory gloss, and nothing more, is to have as much effect and authority as the words of the Vote itself. Personally, I have no objection to giving the Government a perfectly free hand; but when you have one Minister implying that the advances will be given either to our Colonies or to our Allies, and 688 the Prime Minister intimating that other foreign States will also receive advances, I think we as a House have a right to know exactly where we are. This House—and I share the feeling myself entirely—is willing to give to carry on this War even greater latitude than it has ever given before to any Ministers. Personally, I feel the very highest confidence in, and respect for, the Prime Minister, and indeed for many of the other Ministers, some of whom are to me more or less untried. But so long as the Prime Minister is in the position he is, I shall certainly feel the very greatest respect and inclination to support to the utmost of my power any policy that he brings down to this House. May I ask you, Sir, on a point of Order, whether the note at the foot of the page of the Supplementary Estimate is as much a charge as are the words of the Vote that was actually voted in this House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
In reply to the hon. Member, I should say "No." He is committed by voting for this Resolution to the terms of the Vote as passed by the Committee yesterday, and to be shortly passed by the House to-day, and nothing more. Sir Albert Spicer—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should not have given my ruling at once on the point put by the hon. Member had I not understood that he had finished his remarks.
§ Sir ALBERT SPICER
There are just two points in this Debate on which a great deal has been said by various speakers, especially by Ministers, and that is the question of thrift. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it would not be possible at this stage for the Treasury to issue some popular leaflets on thrift. There are, I believe, an immense number of people in this country at the present time, belonging to different classes, who are prepared to do their part. In the case of many, their expenditure has been carefully arranged for a long time, and they do not see their way quite where they are to begin to save. We all know, for instance, in certain classes of houses, whatever their size, that a great deal of the expenditure during the time the house is occupied is not voluntarily, but compulsorily, in conformity to, in harmony with, and in proportion to the rent paid or the value of the house occupied. I cannot 689 but think that the Treasury would do a real service to the country if they could have prepared a set of popular leaflets on the subject touching the various classes of the community. I believe there are an immense number of people only too willing to begin making a reduction in their expenditure if they can have a clear lead. Take the matter of servants. If a household employs a number and dismisses one, it may be that that person would find it very hard to get another sphere of employment.
Take again the question of alcohol. If some hints were given it might lead to a great many more people following the example of His Majesty for the time being. I believe a lead on the subject would make all the difference and would be a great advantage to the thrift of the country. Another point is that I would like to inquire whether for the period of the War the limit in regard to investments in the Post Office Savings Bank could not be increased? The suggestion has been made that there are many people who, though the banks will take their money, prefer the security that the Government gives. Would it not be advisable during the period of the War to allow the annual amount invested to be increased from £50 to £100, and the total amount from £200 to £500?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY Of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
I have been engaged since the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) made some observations earlier in the Debate in getting some answers to questions put to me. Therefore I have not been able to attend the House and hear the Debate which, I understand, has taken a different course to that to which the hon. Member directed it at the outset. The hon. Member informed the House that it is the opinion of most people with regard to the Air Service generally that the men are perfect. I am glad to acknowledge that; it is universally admitted by everyone who has had any intimate knowledge of the great services performed in the air by our military in France. But, said the hon. Gentleman, there are more men and more aeroplanes wanted. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman limits his criticism to that particular service, but it might equally be said of the Artillery or the Infantry that the pity is that we have not more. That is perfectly true. If, however, the hon. Member reflects at all he will see that the 690 Air Service is in very good proportion indeed to the rest of the Army. What I want him to realise is that since the outbreak of the War there has been no smaller expansion of the Air Service in proportion to the rest of the Army. On the contrary, the expansion of pilots has been in a ratio of ten to one. Where we had one before we have ten now engaged in the Air Service, while the expansion of men generally is in proportion of five to one. These are the very latest figures, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is a very large expansion indeed. I am glad to say in spite of that very large expansion the; organisation which has been set up is working harmoniously, smoothly and with great efficiency. The hon. Gentleman stated that there was a deficiency of high explosive bombs for use at the front. I am not able to answer the hon. Member as to whether there has been cases where there was a shortage of high explosive bombs, but I can inform the House and the country that there has been no shortage of such bombs since February. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not shells?"] At the present time there is an ample supply, with an efficient and ample reserve. I am glad to be able to make that statement, which I hope will be reassuring to hon. Members in all quarters of the House. The hon. Member also spoke of a larger aeroplane which was in use, or contemplation, by Russia.
§ Mr. TENNANT
There again it may perhaps reassure the House if I state that we have in contemplation—actually in process of manufacture—a similar article. I do not want to go into too great detail, because I do not think that would be in the public interest, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter is in hand. My last word is in regard to the increase of the service in order to create a sufficient personnel to cope with this most important part of our service. Whilst at the moment of mobilisation there was only the Central Flying School, which, I believe, as hon. Members are aware, was only able to train twenty pupils at once, we have now eleven such schools where we are able to train, and instruct generally, upwards of 200 pupils. I have intervened early in the Debate in order that there might be no misconception following the observations of the hon. Member for Brentford, and that the House might be reassured that these most important matters are engaging our constant and our earnest attention.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I would like to ask a question, which, I think, is of some little importance, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Throughout the whole of the Debate upon the Vote of Credit there has been constantly urged upon the public, and upon Members of this House, the necessity for economy in all branches of the services. So far as the public services are concerned, the principal agent in promoting economy, as all Members of this House know well, in the expenditure of the various Departments, whether of the Army, or the Navy, or the Civil Services, is the audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of the accounts of the various Departments. Every Department has within it a representative of the Treasury, and that representative exercises the most careful control over the expenditure by the head of the Department for the various purposes for which the Department exists. After all, this control is limited, and it is supplemented by examination—previous in most cases—by the Treasury, of the various objects which the Department puts forward annually for expenditure. After all is said and done however, the real control exercised over the expenditure of this House is that of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who is, for this purpose, an officer independent of the Government, and of the Departments, and is the representative of the economy which can be exercised by this House in respect to this expenditure.
We have got a Vote of Credit for £250,000,000. That, added to the expenditure of the Vote of Credit for £250,000,000 already passed by this House, represents an enormous sum, probably the average expenditure of about three years. All of this has to be examined, or ought to be examined, by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. What I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer is whether, in respect of the expenditure which is covered by the late and the present Vote of Credit, the items of expenditure will be so examined by the Comptroller and Auditor-General for the purpose of keeping a check upon the expenditure of the Departments? He is of all men in this House, I think, a notable example of financial purity and financial fitness in relation to expenditure and the examination of expenditure. Therefore, not merely in the public interest but in his own interest, I suggest—and if necessary the staff of the Department of that officer should be 692 strengthened—that steps should be taken in order that there may be a real control somewhere over these vast sums which are gladly voted by every Member of this House for the purposes of the Government. It is quite plain, when you have an expenditure on the Army and Navy under present conditions, that they must have what they want at once, regardless of the cost in most cases, and they must have it of the very best. When half the examiners of stores are taken up with duties which are sometimes twice in amount those of their ordinary duties, the control of expenditure, which in some cases is ridiculous at the present time, could only be general and, as it were, only over a percentage of the amount to be expended. But it is most important in the interests of economy, and in the interests further of the sums of money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to raise from the market, that every possible form of economy, of which I believe this to be most important, should be exercised. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give the House an assurance in the direction which I have suggested.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I would like to refer, by way of support, to the question raised by the hon. Member for Somerset. After your ruling, Sir, there can be no question that the footnote on the Supplementary Estimate does not in any way limit the Vote of Credit itself. I think it is clear that the Government can use this £250,000,000, or part of it, for any purpose they like, and that they can advance it to any country in Europe, or anywhere else. Under the circumstances, I do not want in any kind of way to be captious or critical either of the present Government or of any Government, but I am not quite sure that I put such enormous confidence as the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway seems to do either in this Government or in any Government. I have always been brought up to consider that the control of finance should be in the hands of Members of the House of Commons itself. I have not looked it up, but I think I am right in saying that on every occasion in the past when a loan has been made to a foreign Power an Act of Parliament has been passed. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) shakes his head. Then there ought to be. My right hon. Friend below (Mr. Lough) says there 693 was only one exception, the Persian Loan, which is a bad exception, and to which I raised objections. It was brought in by a Government to which my right hon. Friend did not then belong, and I have not the slightest doubt that if my right hon. Friend had been a Member of that Government at the time there would have been an Act of Parliament for that loan. That being so, I do ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if it is possible to bring in a Bill, he will do so, and can he state that this is not to be considered in any kind of way as a precedent for any future Government? What I am very much afraid of is that somebody later on—it may be the Government of my own party, or the Government of any party—may make an advance, not only in war, but on some other occasion to a foreign Government. Somebody may then get up and say that this is unusual, and that there ought to have been a Bill, and he will be answered by the statement that on this particular occasion very large sums of money have been advanced. I do not want to say anything improper, but I am not sure an advance has not been made. I do not want that to occur again, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give an assurance that a Bill will be introduced bef ore these advances are made.
§ Sir JOHN HARMOOD-BANNER
The point I desire to make is one, I think, of very great importance to the country. We have been talking a great deal about providing money for a Vote of Credit, and we have ignored the great principle that the best way of paying for your imports is by having sufficient exports. So far as I have found out, both in the case of my own business and from representations by other manufacturers, the Government have entirely ignored the principle that, in order to prevent this country being impoverished by war, and in order to keep the balance of exchange in favour of this country, it is necessary to protect and further, as far as possible, the exports of this country. I am not speaking of coal, which, of course, is as good as gold and silver in paying for imports, and, if we are going to cut off the supply of coal for any purpose, we are going to leave a large vacuum which will have to be filled up by other means, and it will not only be a disadvantage to us in the matter of exchange, but of great disadvantage to countries entirely outside Germany which require British coal to carry on the trade. 694 I am speaking of electrical concerns—iron concern—which deal all over the world.
At present I have in my mind an order which has been stopped—an order quite outside any question of going to Germany—and it is to the value of £60,000. It is possible that after some little delay it will be passed. That is only one of numerous export orders coming to this country, which the Government, no doubt with the desire of preventing anything going to Germany, has stopped. I do appeal to the Government to treat this in a generous spirit, if they can be satisfied goods are not going to assist the enemy. None of us who are traders want to do anything that can assist the enemy, but we do want to keep on our export trade. We must have our trade back again at the end of the War. We talk as though it matters not what happens to our export trade, because exports and imports have gone by the board. We shall be in a sad plight at the end of the War, and I do appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask the various Committees with which he is connected to deal with this in a liberal spirit, so as to provide funds to pay for this Vote of Credit as far as possible by exports against imports, instead of at present talking economy. Economy is all very well in its way, but it does not provide work, or keep this country strong at the end of the War.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer, also as being a large manufacturer, as well as doing a good deal of work in one way or another for war purposes. I had the satisfaction, the other day, of listening to the present Minister of Munitions, in Manchester, and I heard the course he suggested in his eloquent speech, but, in spending this money out of the Vote of Credit, we shall do it most ineffectively if we only bring the manufacturers and the trade unionists into it, and not our own officials at Woolwich Arsenal, the War Office, and the Admiralty. They must concur as well in supplying manufacturers and workmen with the plans and specifications on which they are to work. Without that assistance it will be impossible to carry out with speed and efficiency what is required. I give this one illustration as regards that matter. At the meeting in Manchester the engineer of a very large manufacturing concern got up and asked the question, "Will the gauges be provided for making the shells?" The head of Woolwich Arsenal was requested to reply. He said, 695 "Oh, certainly." Then this engineer, knowing what he was talking about, asked, "Will the shop gauges be provided? The other gauges are no use unless shop gauges are provided." I am bound to say the answer from the head of Woolwich Arsenal was a shuffle; it was not practical. The result was that, whilst we were all asked to do our best the officials were not quite as eagerly in the swim as the manufacturers and workmen. The same has taken place, to my knowledge, in specifications for aluminium, in specifications for steel, in specifications for copper, and all other work. You do not get from the heads of the Departments of the Government that information, that specification, that help which is requisite to answer truly and faithfully the appeal of the Minister of Munitions, and, therefore, while he waves the Defence of the Realm Act at manufacturers and workmen, I say distinctly that it is absolutely useless unless he waves it at his own officials and says, "You must help without jealousy, and without the retention of any detail of plans or of any assistance required. You must, even if they are outsiders, give loyally of your strength and ability in order that their work may be equal to your own, and in order that they may give to the nation as quickly as possible those munitions which are so much required."
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
I quite sympathise with my hon. Friend who has just sat down with regard to encouraging exports. There is a Department called the War Trade Department, which was established for the purpose of granting licences. I do not blame the Government, and I do not blame this Parliament, but I think of all the chaotic offices I ever remember, that is about the worst. I think they have a very difficult task with which to deal. There are a great many licences which run very close to the border, as they cover contraband, and I can quite conceive that they have the very greatest difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to whether they shall grant a licence or not. I will go the length of saying that where there is the slightest risk in the case of Sweden, Denmark, or Holland—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
How does that come in under the terms of this Vote? I do not quite follow the connection.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Of this £250,000,000 a good deal is going to be spent on the 696 Department of which I speak. There is a large staff—a whole building of people—and I presume the Vote is affected, inasmuch as this is a matter of sending contraband through those countries.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should have thought that would come under the ordinary Board of Trade Estimates. Of course, if the hon. Member says he knows it is covered by this, I will not contradict him.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I feel sure it is. The War Trade Department has an enormous building, and an enormous staff, all paid, I presume, out of these funds. I do not wish to complain beyond this: that it is chaotic, and that the facilities for granting licences are very bad. I think they ought to make up their minds much more quickly, and if there is any doubt at all that the goods will ultimately reach Germany, they ought to refuse a licence. More particularly do I say that for this reason: I happen to know that none of the British Consuls, with one or two exceptions, in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland, are British, and I know what the Swedish Consuls are. They will certify for merchants; they meet together in the clubs and cafes and arrange it amongst themselves. I will give an instance. A large quantity of permanganese was passed the other day for Sweden. The goods were going to Germany undoubtedly—there is no question about it We know, of course, that enormous quantities of copper and other things must have gone to Germany, because Sweden cannot possibly use them up for themselves. The quantity of copper and other things which have gone through has been enormous, and, so far as this War Trade Department is concerned, there ought to be some definite instructions that, wherever there is the slightest doubt about the destination of the goods, they should shut them down at once and refuse, and I am sure the exporters in this country would be quite satisfied. I have gone there myself on several occasions for licences or not — I do not care which, so long as I know where you are in the matter. So long as you keep this thing open, and it has been kept open for months, I am bound to do my best to get this matter through. Refuse it if you like, but the result would be that these firms for whom I am acting would refuse to take those orders because there is so much difficulty about them. I would suggest that some hard and fast line should be drawn 697 so as to absolutely prevent any of these things going forward which I know are going forward to-day between those ports.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. McKenna)
An important point was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Bristol (Mr. Hobhouse), who asked whether the expenditure of money voted under this Vote of Credit would be subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in the same way as the expenditure of the year in the annual Estimates. I am pleased to say that the Comptroller and Auditor-General will have precisely the same powers with regard to the expenditure under this Vote as he would under any ordinary Vote.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Comptroller and Auditor-General is not the servant of the Government, but the servant of this House, and I have no doubt whatever that he will exercise his powers to the full in the case of this expenditure.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes. The money now voted will have to be appropriated to the particular services on which it is expended by the Appropriation Bill, and that will authorise the expenditure. Consequently there will be Parliamentary authority under the Appropriation Act for the expenditure of every penny of the money now being voted. The hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) asked me whether an assurance would be given that this wholesale expenditure without any detailed Estimate under the Vote of Credit would not be taken as a precedent, and whether any recognition would now be made of the fact that Parliament was in no way committed to any expenditure under the Vote of Credit, whether made by loan to an Allied Power or not. The hon. Baronet asked me whether Parliament is to be committed to any other practice of voting large sums of money except in the ordinary way by an Estimate; or, in the case of a loan to a foreign Power, whether the usual practice would be adopted of introducing the loan by way of a Bill?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes, a loan to foreign Powers. There is no intention by the present procedure of establishing any new practice in this House. It is always more convenient for the House that a loan to a foreign Power should be the subject of a separate Bill. Obviously it is better that a subject of that kind should be separately discussed, and that the House should have full and precise knowledge, which it can only have when the subject is introduced as the subject matter of a Bill. In the present case I am sure the hon. Baronet will be the first to recognise that I could not undertake to give in detail, such as would be necessary in the case of a Bill, every condition in respect of a loan which may be made to an Allied Power at the present time. That would be contrary to the public interest of this country and the Allied Power as well, and it would be a disadvantage to us in fighting the War. We have therefore to ask now for a special procedure which is perfectly legal and constitutional, but which is not so convenient as the ordinary peace procedure by a Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Am I right in saying that during the Napoleonic Wars, when advances were made to the allied Powers and foreign Powers, it was always done by a separate Bill?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am afraid that is a question of which I must have notice, and I could not answer it without closer inquiry. But whatever the precedent may or may not be, now, in existing circumstances, it would not be in the public interest to introduce a separate Bill. On behalf of the Government I say, after reflection and after due consideration, that the present method adopted should not be taken as a precedent for procedure in peace time, and with that assurance I hope the House will be satisfied and not press me to give more exact reasons why a Bill would be inconvenient at the present time. My hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire raised a question as to whether it was intended to spend any part of the money voted under this Vote of Credit by means of loans to Powers other than Allied Powers. I would beg my hon. Friend to bear in mind what he said yesterday on this subject. He was speaking of the rumours that were afloat both in this country and abroad as to our intention to make loans out of this Vote of Credit to foreign Powers. He said:—I shall not refer to those rumours and statements, but it is perfectly obvious that when they cannot be 699 denied, and when no certainty exists in this country, even in the House of Commons, as to the nature of those rumours, they are widely believed among our enemies, greatly to our detriment, and also in neutral countries.In view of that statement it is very necessary to say that none of the money voted under this Vote of Credit will be lent to Powers other than Allied Powers, and I hope I have been able to set at rest my hon. Friend's anxiety, and I trust I have put an end to the dangers which he fears will arise by giving circulation to those rumours that we shall suffer detriment not only in our own country but in the countries of our Allies. There is no intention to spend any part of this money on loans to Powers other than Allied Powers. I stated that yesterday, and I gave a reason in support of what I said. The language used in the Note at the foot of the Vote of Credit states the point clearly, and only the words "Allied Powers" are used. I quite recognise that a loan under a Vote of Credit has not the same authority as it would have under an Act of Parliament, but when an assurance is given that the intention is to act upon the terms of that Note, and the terms of that Note are made public in order to give notice to Parliament what the intention of the Government is, I think my hon. Friend might reasonably be satisfied. The Member for the City of London also referred to this point, and I trust I have satisfied him on this subject. With regard to the general question of public economy and domestic thrift, and giving facilities to the working classes to save with profit to themselves, I can assure the House that every word upon that subject which is said in this House gives to me the greatest satisfaction. In this matter it is necessary that this House should give a lead to the country. It is not merely a matter for the Government. I admit that it is the duty of the Government to see that due economy is exercised in the public Departments, but I am not at all prepared to endorse the doctrine that money is no object in this War. My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks), speaking of aeroplanes, rightly called attention to their importance, but I think he went a little too far when he said that money should not be considered. The moment you get that spirit abroad we must remember that contractors are only human beings, and if they are told that no matter what they charge money will not be considered, you are asking too 700 much from them if you expect that prices will not rise. I am told upon authority which it is impossible to refuse that in the case of certain Government contractors the workmen employed on Government work expect higher pay than when working on private work. I do not say it is true in every case, but I heard in one case that this difference exists. I have no doubt hon. Members in this House could bring to my notice many cases in which pressure is brought to bear on employers to pay higher wages on Government work because it is Government work and money is no object.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
The firms engaged in highly skilled work for the Government take the pick of the skilled workers, and that is the reason why they have to pay more.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I quite recognise that these contractors take the pick of the workers, but there are cases in which other workers expect it, and I do not blame them. If a workman sees money being thrown about with both hands, naturally he expects to get his share; therefore we should be a little more cautious in our language. We have to remember that our money resources are not inexhaustible. You have to practise and encourage a due spirit of economy, and I am sure that we shall not be one whit worse off because we have practised a little economy. My experience is that thriftless expenditure never gets into the best hands. The habit of thrift brought into our expenditure, I am sure, will be a real advantage in securing the objects we desire. Our organisation must be carried through economically, and I hope I shall have in this difficult task the support of every section of the House in endeavouring on every hand to practise economy.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DILLON
I am a great admirer of the industry of the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) and of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), but I do regret the question which they have raised to-night. When the hon. Baronet and the hon. Member for Somerset undertake to compare the present situation with the question of the Soudan Loan and the Loan to 701 Persia, I think that they are lacking in a sense of proportion. For my part, I think that it is unfortunate that the Chancellor of the Exchequer tied the hands of the Government in the statement which he has just made. The Prime Minister said to the House yesterday that they desired to have liberty to use this £250,000,000 for loans according to their discretion. These are exceedingly delicate matters, and I do not think it wise for the House to tie the hands of the Government at all in regard to these foreign loans. We all know what has happened. It has been the subject and has caused a deal of evil. The Empire of Germany has lent £10,000,000 to Bulgaria, Why should not we keep the same liberty in dealing with these matters as Germany has already exercised. The Government ought to be perfectly free to use this money according to their discretion, and it would be a most unfortunate thing if the Government were required to introduce a Bill.
After all, there is no precedent for the situation in which the country is now placed. We are faced with a new situation, and, no matter what the precedents are—and I have been a stickler for precedents—having recognised that loans should be made to foreign countries, we ought to leave the hands of the Governments free. This House has agreed to trust this Government and the country has agreed to give it fair play in matters on which the very existence of the country depends. It might be in these very delicate and dangerous times that a loan to some foreign Power which is not an Ally would be an extremely desirable thing, and it might also be extremely desirable without consulting the House at all, or without having any discussion about it, or without even making it public. Once you admit the principle of making loans to foreign Powers, then to ask the Government to introduce a Bill before the loans are made is a most imprudent and absurd demand.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I never asked that the Government should introduce a Bill in this particular instance. I was particularly careful to say that this is a very exceptional time. I asked that the right hon. Gentleman should make some statement that this was an exceptional time, and that therefore exceptional powers had been given to him in this particular case.
§ Mr. DILLON
I apologise. I misunderstood the hon. Baronet, and he is such a 702 high authority on finance that I really thought it necessary to deal with the matter. I understood him to press the Government to introduce a Bill.
§ Mr. DILLON
In spite of my great respect for the hon. Member for Somerset, I do not think that it would be desirable to follow precedent in this matter, or to press the Government to introduce Bills. I think it was unfortunate that the Government were asked to give a declaration that they would confine advances to Allied Powers.
§ Mr. ANNAN BRYCE
I wish to associate myself with what fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for the Everton Division (Sir J. Harmood-Banner), and I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his reply said nothing at all upon the point of the discouragement of exports. It is a most serious matter for this country at present to diminish the exports in any way whatever. There is an enormous balance of trade against us, and the exchanges of several countries, especially the United States of America, are so severely against us that we shall be in very great trouble later on in order to make our exports and imports balance. It will be impossible to do it without sending away very large sums of gold or selling vast quantities of securities. Under these circumstances, it appears to me most disastrous to discourage exports in any way whatever. It has the additional disadvantage that if you discourage exports of the nature of which the hon. Member spoke—electrical machinery, and machinery of various kinds, you only throw the demand for those articles into the hands of Germany, who had almost a monopoly in the supply of electrical apparatus to foreign countries until this War began.
I have never understood why the Government at the beginning of this War treated in a curiously differential way the firm of Siemen Bros. The firm of Siemen Bros, were allowed to trade in this country, largely, I suppose, because they were supplying the Government, although the capital is entirely German, and they are now using their name in this country as a means of retaining and holding together the whole of their business over the world. Orders are taken now in the name of Siemen Bros., of London. They are not supplied from London, because this Committee of the Chancellor of the Exchequer 703 would probably not give them a licence to export, but they take the orders in the name of Siemen Bros., and they supply the goods from Germany. The case which the hon. Member raised is a most excellent illustrative case. I am perfectly sure that the goods which the Chancellor's Committee is refusing to be allowed to be exported in that particular case will be supplied from Germany and will help the German exchange, whilst the loss of the business will damage our exchange.
§ Question put, and agreed to.