§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the Government should make an issue of Investment and Premium Bonds, tax free, and redeemable at a fixed period with compound interest, a certain number of such Bonds being drawn at intervals and paid off with a premium or prize attached, the details of each issue to be settled by the Treasury.In introducing this Motion, may I express my thanks to the Government for the opportunity afforded us of discussing this subject. I wish to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer most sincerely that those who have been acting with me in this matter have no desire other than, if it be possible, to render him some assistance in the remarkably difficult position in which he stands. In other words, this is not a stunt: it is a serious effort on their part to bring before the right hon. Gentleman certain suggestions, which we feel sure are financially sound and ethically unassailable, for the purpose of helping him to grapple with the financial position. The position in which this country stands to-day is infinitely more hazardous and critical than this House has ever understood. At the present time the Chancellor of the Ex-chequer is confronted with a National Debt of £8,000,000,000. There is in connection with it a, Floating Debt in Treasury Bills and other forms of over £1,000,000,000. Then there are certain other immediate liabilities which we never hear in our fiscal discussions. There are £300,000.000 of War Savings Certificates, every penny of which at any moment may be demanded from the State. There are about £300,000,000 of deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank, every penny of which may be withdrawn at a few days' notice. There are some £300,000,000 of Treasury Notes in circulation, the holders of every one of which, though we do not say much about this, are entitled to go to the Bank of England and exchange them for gold. Therefore the position at the moment, quite apart from the National Debt and the huge sum required for services, is that there are nearly £2,000,000,000 of floating liabilities which the Chancellor of the Exchequer may at any time be called upon to meet.
One may say that that is a remote contingency. I am one of those who, viewing 74 the activities of some of my hon. and right hon. Friends on my right, and reading the signs of the tithes as best I can, do not regard the contingency as so dreadfully remote. I can forsee the possibility of another period of labour unrest, with a campaign of Bolshevism, causing a sudden run on the Bank of England for the bulk of this £2,000,000,000 debt. I am going to suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should anticipate that contingency, however remote he may consider it, and lend a sympathetic ear to a scheme which, I hope to convince him, if his mind is still open on the subject, is really, unanswerable. Look at the position. Our War Loans were a failure. We heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer announce, with somewhat simulated satisfaction, the result of the last War Loan—something under £600,000,000. I knew, as he knew—perhaps all Members of the House did not know—that the vast bulk of the money did not come from the public. It was extracted almost forcibly from the associated banks.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
I cannot allow that statement to pass unchallenged. The hon. Member is misinformed.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
The ex cathedra statement of the right hon. Gentleman is not argument. I withdraw the forcible feeding part of the argument. I repeat that the great bulk of the sum came not from the general public, but from the banks.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member should state facts. He is quite wrong in supposing that the great bulk of the money came from the banks. A fraction of the money came from the banks. If my memory serves me aright—I speak without referring to figures—it was less than £100,000,000.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I must not be drawn into an argument. I can only say that four days ago we had the statement of one of the most eminent bankers in this country that, by transfers of securities and in various other ways, the banks found £400,000,000 out of the total War Loan of £600,000,000. But I am glad to have the contradiction, because if it be a fact that the bulk of the money came from the public, then, having regard to the promise both of the Leader of the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that never again in the history of the Empire 75 would the public have such an opportunity of securing investments of this attractive character, it throws a sinister light upon public confidence in the stability of the Empire, that to-day every one of those Loans is standing at a big discount. Today when you are getting 6½ per cent, on these War Loans, obviously the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not issue another except at a higher rate of interest. But that is only a portion of the story. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, despite the satisfactory contribution from the public to which he has referred, has actually increased the rate of Treasury Bills to 5½ per cent. These are the lowest terms on which he can sell his Treasury Bills. We have a Bank Rate of 6 per cent. We have adverse exchanges against us in every creditor country, We have no effective gold standard, and the position is this, that if it be the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer requires a very large sum of money at an early date he cannot make another Loan except upon terms which would be greatly to the discredit of British interests. He can only make it on a 6½ per cent. or a 7 per cent.
I am going to show the application of this to the Motion which I propose, because one of the arguments against this proposal is that it tends to lower the credit of the British Empire. In these circumstances we have come forward to urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the question of the issue of Premium Bonds—I call them by their colloquial name. That means that we shall issue bonds of a popular denomination carrying a nominal rate of interest—we suggest 2½ per cent—and that the difference between the 2½ per cent, and 4 per cent., which is the usual rate for tax-free bonds—we propose that these should be tax-free—should be pooled for the purpose of forming a general fund out of which, premiums could be provided as the bonds were drawn for redemption. One would almost think, from the excitement which the suggestion has caused in certain quarters, that this was a novel and revolutionary proposal. It is nothing more than a development of the principle of the Victory Bonds which the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself issued not long ago. The principle being the same, it is only a question of degree. We are at present being offered the opportunity, which we were told would never recur, of buying at 85 4 per cent. securities which would be drawn for every year at 76 £100, so that every man who holds £100 of that stock, for which he gave £85, may get 15 per cent. next year. That principle has been introduced into a fiscal system, and I did not hear, any great outcry against it at the time. It may be that, in the opinion of the majority of this House this was a convenient opportunity for compromising on this question of Premium Bonds, and I invite the Chancellor of the Exchequer to contradict me when I say that all we are proposing now is an extension of the principle which these Victory Bonds involve.
When we see the telegrams with which Members have been inundated, one would think that all the forces of righteousness were against this proposal and all the forces of evil in its favour. I know that there are a few exceptions, but, speaking generally, the leading bankers of this City are in favour of Premium Bonds. Members have read the proceedings before the Committee. The Governor of the Bank of England and the Chairman of the Bankers' Institute, and many others, are in favour of it. I am speaking of the evidence of Lord Cunliffe and Sir R. Vassar-Smith, Chairman of the Bankers' Institute, and others, and there has been some correspondence in the Press, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he would make independent inquiry among the bankers, would find that the preponderating opinion among them is in favour of this proposal. I can refer to reports, if necessary. The London Chamber of Commerce is in favour of them. The Chairman of the Chamber gave strong evidence during the inquiry in favour of these bonds, and his opinon has been recently confirmed by resolution of the chamber. Then, although this rather deals with the ethical more than the financial question, many of our greatest church dignitaries are strongly in favour of them. That is an argument which does not weigh very much with me in this House, which I regard as a purely secular Assembly for the purpose of looking after the affairs of the nation, leaving the moral interests of the community to the churches, chapels, and other organisations outside. But still many eminent Churchmen are strongly in favour of them.
In addition to that, I say that your Select Committee's Report, upon which this whole discussion is based, is overwhelmingly in favour of the issue of these bonds. I do not want to detain the House by reading any elaborate paragraphs, but 77 may I call attention to two or three items in the Report of the Committee? There has been so much Press mendacity on the part of the opponents in this campaign that one would think the Report unanimously condemned the scheme. Let me, therefore, read one or two sentences:We are satisfied that so far as the general public and the small investor are concerned, the present Government issues fail to enlist all the financial support that might be obtained.That is a specific finding of the Committee. Here is another:There is a considerable margin of wages which is not at present being invested, but which is being spent upon luxuries in some cases, and in many cases upon articles which in war-time might be dispensed with.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
It is a portion of the first paragraph on page 4. Lower down is this, and a very important statement it is:So far as neutral countries were affected, the evidence rather went to prove that Premium Bonds might be taken tip by investors in those countries, and thus the difficulties of exchange would be so far lightened.Here is another:As regards the effect of the issue of Premium Bonds upon the financial prestige and credit of the country, the larger number of those who gave evidence as representing financial interests, were of the opinion that, for the purposes of the War, when all conditions were abnormal, it would be in no way detrimental or prejudicial.A further paragraph is the following:We are, however, impressed by the evidence as to the existence of opposition to any State action which might be held to introduce an element of chance in our national finance, and it would not be possible to treat Premium Bonds as an uncontroversial war measure.That was the ground upon which it was not recommended. They go on to say:To sum up our conclusions, we beg to report that the present opportunities of investment for the general public are not sufficient to obtain their free and full support, and that there is a considerable untapped source of investment which might be secured for war needs by means of an issue of Bonds which would, by a speculative element, whilst preserving the capital intact, attract the savings of the small investor, to whom the ordinary flat rate of interest does not appeal.Then they say, having regard to the last Loan:Such a proposal might cause a controversy in the country, which would be most undesirable. We do not therefore advise that an issue of Premium Bonds be made at the present time, or until further efforts have been made to render present issues more attractive to the investor.78 Do I put the case too high when I say that that Report, read rationally, come to this: "We are satisfied that a large sum of money can be obtained in this way, that a large section of the community do not subscribe to the ordinary bonds, but we do not want controversial measures to be introduced during the War, and for the present, at any rate, we do not advise the issue. Let us hope that some more attractive form. will arise"? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, with all the authority of his position, that he is satisfied with the experiments he has tried since, that he is satisfied with his War Loan, now at a big discount, and that he can raise all the other money he may require without adopting any new methods, then, of course, the last paragraph of that Report goes. I have said that the Chairman of the Bankers' Institute, Lord Cunlife, of the Bank of England, and the London Chamber of Commerce are all strongly in favour of Premium Bonds. Then I come, incidentally, to the question of the clerical aspect of the matter. Why on earth the Committee did it I do not know, but they took the evidence of ministers of religion on this question. I have a pretty large correspondence and I shall be happy to show to the Chancellor of the Exchequer any number of letters from ministers of religion, from high Church dignitaries down to poor curates, who are heartily in favour of the scheme. When the last Loan was issued, acting upon my opinion that there was a large element of untapped wealth, I formed a club of small investors, to help the Chancellor of the Exchequer by taking up Victory Bonds. In three days I obtained £500,000, which I handed over to him. I have got into a rare row with the subscribers, because it is already at a discount. They charge me with defrauding them. Amongst the members of that club who took up these bonds in the hope of getting them redeemed at a premium and agreed to pool their interests with other members, are no fewer than 136 clergymen. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman something more than that presently. At the inquiry we had the Bishop of Bristol and the Rev. Bernard Snell, President of the Congregational Union, giving evidence in favour of these bonds. I mention these things only as indicating that it must not be assumed that all the saints are on one side.
79 What are the arguments against the scheme? They will interest the right hon. Gentleman much more than rubbing in the support. There are two kinds of arguments, financial or fiscal, and ethical. I will take the more important first and deal with the financial argument. It is said that Premium Bonds will not produce much new money. Who can tell us that? We have never tried it. If I, with my variegated financial antecedents, could produce £500,000 in three days for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what could he do? I say that we cannot accept the ipse dixit of anyone on that subject. Take another objection. Lord Cunliffe thought a very large sum could be obtained, and both he and the Chairman of the Bankers' Institute were agreed that this would cause no diversion of existing popular securities, but would find a large, amount of new money. It is essentially a case in which, although one does not like adopting the policy, the Asquithian policy should prevail—we must wait and see what would be produced. The next objection is that it would divert War Savings Certificates, Post Office savings, and so on. Apart from the fact that experts like Sir R. Vassar-Smith and Lord Cunliffe do not agree, I want to go a step further. Suppose that every man who has savings in the Post Office to-day, and every holder of a War Savings Certificate transferred his security into Premium Bonds, would not that be a good thing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer? At present they can throw them at his head, and say, "We want gold for them." The Chancellor has not the gold to give them. Let us be candid. What would happen if every holder of a Treasury note went to the Bank of England and asked for gold, if every depositor in the Post Office Savings Bank, if every holder of the other day-to-day securities made the same demand? The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to welcome an opportunity of franking these day-to-day liabilities. That is what we offer in Premium Bonds. It may be said that only 2½ per cent. interest is paid by the Post Office Savings Bank. I heard a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer say that. But we spend an enormous sum every year in administering the Post Office Savings Bank, and the difference between 2½ per cent. is much more than exceeded by the working expenses. Therefore, if it should be the fact that this issue diverted every Post Office Sav- 80 ings Bank deposit, every Treasury Bond, every War Savings Certificate, into Premium Bonds repayable at a distant date, it would be an extremely great relief to the Treasury.
The next objection is—I see it put forward by some wonderful experts—that as these Premium Bonds would carry only 2½ per cent. fixed interest they would practically be a 2½ per cent. security, the same as Consols, and that they would consequently automatically sink to the level of Consols. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would agree with that argument. Even Consols do not pay 2½ per cent.; after the deduction of Income Tax it is only 1¾ per cent. There is, however, no date for their redemption; they have no chance of drawing any of these premiums. I put it that these bonds, having regard to the fixed date of redemption, having regard to the chance of a premium, are really a 4 per cent. security, and the only Government security, I believe, which stands anywhere in the neighbourhood of par is the Four per Cent. tax-free Loan. That is where these bonds would stand. What is the next objection? It is that they will discourage thrift. I think that is the most extravagant argument that could be adduced. To begin with, it is a. gross insult to France. France has at present nearly 500,000,000 of Premium Bonds floating. France has had millions and millions and millions of these bonds, and it is because the little men in France can invest their money in this way that thrift has been encouraged, and the thrift and frugality and industry which grew out of this system of finance enabled France to overcome her difficulties in 1870. There was not a witness of any standing before the Committee, any banker or any commercial man of standing who contended that these bonds would interfere with thrift. Is it really necessary to do more than exercise our knowledge of human nature? What man with a sovereign to spare, to whom the prospect of 6d. or 1s. a year interest would have no attraction, would not be tempted to lend it to the State, knowing that he could never lose his money, knowing that compound interest was running all the time on his bond, and knowing that in 10 years his sovereign would be worth 26s., and that in the meantime he might draw a substantial premium? It is human nature to say that there is not a man, be he workman, deacon, parson, or curate, or anything else, who would not be tempted to invest his sovereign in that way.
81 People may say that it is not everybody who can afford to put five pounds into Premium Bonds, but, as this has happened in all countries, and I know a good deal about it, working men form clubs and pay 6d. or 1s. a week to those clubs, and with that money they take up the bonds and divide the prizes amongst them. I may say in anticipation of the overwhelming majority which we hope for to-night, though whether we get it or not I am not going to predict, clubs are being formed all over the country, and I can tell the right hon. Gentleman the names of a hundred factories, and I can show him the letters, where they are forming clubs already to subscribe 6d. or 1s. per week to make up for these bonds. I say it is encouraging thrift. The proper name of the bonds should be thrift bonds, but we call them Premium Bonds only for the purpose of indentification. The next argument used against them is this, that we must be careful about introducing a new principle into our national system off finance. That is the gospel of convention. We have introduced in recent years many new principles, we have had the Super-tax, the Entertainments Tax, the Excess Profits Duties, and Victory Bonds, so that that argument does not appeal to me at all. So far as what I would call the fiscal objections to the scheme, I say deliberately, and I hate overstating any case because I know the folly of it, there is no argument against these bonds from the financial point of view. I come to what I know to be the true secret of the opposition. They are supposed to be wicked, to encourage gambling and to be tantamount to a lottery. What ignorance exists in this country on the subject of lotteries. People talk as if lotteries were something so terribly wrong that the law condemns them and places them under every conceivable kind of penalty. I know something about lottery law, and I would remind the House of what it is.
Up to the year 1823 anybody could run a lottery and there was, undoubtedly, a huge amount of fraud, but in 1823 the country wanted money, and for war purposes, and they passed an Act which is known, colloquially, as the Lottery Act, that is the main Lottery Act from which I have heard learned counsel in Court and elsewhere quoting as if it were something which absolutely put the lid for all time on lotteries. It says, "An Act for granting to His Majesty a sum of money to be raised by lotteries." His Majesty wanted 82 all he could get, and I do not blame him. It went on to say, "This is an Act to authorise His Majesty to raise money by lotteries," but it rendered anybody else unable to do so. That is the state of the lottery law to-day. The last lottery merchant was a King of England, and the lottery was a great success. Lotteries have been an inherent part of our system in this country for ages, and they have always had ecclesiastical sanction. The first lottery ever conducted in this country was drawn on the steps of St. Paul. The British Museum was built by means of a lottery, and the then Archbishop of Canterbury was trustee for the fund. To-day lotteries are drawn every Sunday in the parish churches, and, as I shall show in a moment, the Churches, both Protestant and Catholic, do not hesitate to use this method of getting money when they want it. I do not want to dwell on lotteries beyond saying this, that if you do not have Premium Bonds vast sums of money will go to lotteries wherever it is possible to do so. The old Hamburg lotteries are now flooding this country with circulars through Holland and Switzerland. The Post Office are not stopping those circulars, and the Postmaster-General told me he could not do so. He has not read the Defence of the Realm Act, or he would have known that he could. Vast sums of money are going out every day now to Hamburg lotteries, and there is not a banker in the country but will tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is being inundated with inquiries as to how people can obtain portions of the French lottery, and to describe that as a lottery is really playing with words. A lottery is a thing in which you invest money and draw your prize and lose your money.
In the proposal we are making you cannot lose your money, and you get a reasonable rate of interest, while the balance of interest is pooled. There is a legal maxim which says that some things are so small that the law declines to take notice of them de minimis non curat lex. In the matter of chance the sin is so trifling that Heaven would treat it with absolute indifference de minimis non curat Deus. What is the element of gambling? A man takes a bond in a Premium issue; for a pound at 2½ per cent. interest he gets 6d. per year, or if it is 4 per cent. he gets 9½d. and therefore he is gambling with the price of a glass of beer once a year. This is a temperance measure. It stops the man consuming one glass of beer per year and 83 brings immense revenue to the State, and gives his family the prospect of finding themselves in happy and independent circumstances any day they wake up. I do not want to use any offensive language, but it seems to me that this argument as to gambling is cant. We all gamble every day of our lives in some form or another. I do not believe there is an hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench who could stand up and put his hand to his heart and say that he had never taken a ticket in a Derby sweep, in the Reform Club or in the Carlton Club, or that he had not played bridge on a Monday, or that he had not bought stocks or shares in the hope of a rise, or that he had not invested in house property in the hope that the Government would improve the district and add to the amenity of the place, and thus improve his capital. Surely it is a lottery when a man pays for fire insurance, since it is a million to one against his house being burned down, by legitimate means at any rate. Marriage is a lottery. Sometimes we know a lady may draw a prize in the shape of a splendid husband with the reversion of a seat in this House—but that is an exceptional case. Everything in life is a lottery, and the idea that because there is an infinitesimal element of gambling in this loan, that it is something which is going to degrade the State is really an argument unnecessary to answer. Sometime ago I conducted a symposium amongst bishops and other eminent clerics on the question "Is betting a Sin?" And not one of them said it was. It would very much have impressed me if any of them had done so. They argued round and round it just as His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury in a recent communication to the Chancellor of the Exchequer said,I shrink from describing the action of those who might thus invest their money as being ethically wrong.I take my ethics from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I do not understand these things myself, but he is paid a very large salary to guide and advise us, and I bow to his decision that there is nothing ethically wrong. When he goes on to treat the matter from the political point of view, I do not treat his opinion with the same respect. I know that as a member of the Board of Trade he has not contributed very much to the political usefulness of the nation. There are other arguments advanced. I saw a pamphlet issued by the Anti-Gambling League, though I 84 thought the wretched thing was dead and buried long ago and that my hon. Friend, the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) had said good-bye to it. It dishes up a resolution passed in the year 1880, when Premium Bonds were not known and quoted that seriously as an argument against it, and there is mention of Sir Robert Kindersley and that resolution is given as something for our guidance. There was a time when women were publicly flogged and when the death penalty was a common punishment and when our criminal law was in a chaotic state. I dismiss the Anti-Gambling League in the hope that my hon. Friend will disown this out-of-time method of interfering with the judgment of the House. Let me remind him of a case in which we were opposed in the Law Courts. I cross-examined him very much as to his adoption of the principles of the Anti-Gambling League. He was very enthusistic about them. When I went through the list of subscriptions and could not find his name he told me his sympathy did not take that form. What about the Churches and the constant bazaars and raffles with which most of the Members of the House are bothered every day of their lives? I have had one or two communications which I desire to quote to the House, and which I received quite recently. I happened to have a horse about to run in an important handicap, and this is a letter from the organisers of such an eminently meritorious scheme as St. Dunstan's. After referring to the splendid work which St. Dunstan's is doing the letter says:In view of this, may I venture to ask if you would entertain the suggestion of investing, say, a sum of from five to twenty pounds each way on your acceptance for the Manchester November Handicap.A few days ago I received a letter from a distinguished lady who is organising dispensaries for sick animals. Strangely enough I happened to have won a race, and this is what she said in the letter:Could you spare a fiver out of your winnings the other day for my three dispensaries for sick animals of the poor.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I think I sent her a "tenner." Here is a circular from the Breffnie Sweep, Rev. Father P. O'Connell, P.P., on behalf of the building of a church in Cootehill, County Cavan, dated August, 1919, and the circular is as follows: 85Dear Sir,—The Committee of the above would feel deeply grateful if you would kindly dispose of or purchase the enclosed tickets on the Manchester November Handicap. We feel sure the object for which the proceeds are to be devoted will have the whole-hearted sympathy and practical support of yourself and your friends. Should you require additional tickets, please send postcard to either of the undersigned.I have many many documents of that kind, which I shall be pleased to show the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would like to see them. But let me tell him of an incident which occurred not long ago, the details of which I vouch for, speaking in this House. There was an issue of bonds by the Egyptian Foncier, and a certain lady applied for some, and the house promoting the sale of the bonds received a letter from the brother of that lady, who happens to be a very high Church dignitary in this country. He said:I have just discovered that my sister has applied for these bonds. I forbid you to supply them to her, because I cannot countenance such gambling on the part of a member of my family.A little correspondence ensued, and while it was going on this bond drew a very substantial prize, and I have the high Church dignitary's letter, in which he says:Having regard to all the circumstances, perhaps you had better send the money to me and not to my sister, and I will see it is put to a good purpose.One could go on giving instances of that character, but I want to say this, and to say it quite seriously. If we are going to condemn Premium Bonds as immoral and as unrighteous, because that is what it means, you are offering a very great affront to France. I was one of the mysterious eight who were summoned to Downing Street not long ago about the trouble over the Aliens Bill. I disclose no secret, because the Leader of the House has used the same argument here, when I say that the ground of the appeal made to us by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House was this: "If you exclude French pilots from our ports, or in any way tamper with their rights, you are running the risk of giving serious offence to our great Ally, and circumstances are such just now that it might lead to serious international complications." What is our French Ally going to say when this House, by an adverse vote on this Resolution—
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
If such a thing be conceivable—not when, but if, this House 86 by an adverse vote on this Resolution says Premium Bonds are immoral and corrupt. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is what it means; that is the argument against it. [HON. MEMBERS: No, no!"] I am glad to have elicited from so many hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are neither immoral nor corrupt. Therefore, we shall have to limit this discussion to their financial soundness, and we shall hear no more about the objection. That will help us very much. I say this—and I say it with some knowledge of the habits of working men—that you will attract an enormous sum of money which at present goes into betting, into cinemas, into tinselled jewellery, and all sorts of wasteful things, and from the betting point of view I have already commended this measure as a temperance measure. It is also an anti-gambling measure. It is to stop working men wasting their money by backing horses. Those of us who own a few horses find it difficult enough to-back winners, and it is the most idiotic thing in the world for working men to think they can win by putting a portion of their wages, week after week and day after day, upon horses. I condemn it as strongly as any puritan in this House can do, and therefore, from that point of view, it is also an anti-gambling measure.
To sum up the case for the bonds, I commend them on every ground on which they are opposed. I say, using language in its legitimate sense, that they are not a gamble: I say they are an encouragement to thrift, I say that they would bring in a large amount of new money—I have given as an illustration of that what a. little experiment of my own proved—I say that they will counteract much money spent in drink, in betting, and other silly things; and, above all things, I would say this—and I say it with some deep conviction—that they will add some much needed zest to the drab monotony of the ordinary life of the British working man. In France I have spoken to many men, and in Belgium, and I know that whether they win a prize one year or not, they are always expectant and hopeful that luck may come their way. They know their money cannot be lost, and, heaven knows, the monotony of the average life of the working man to-day is such that if you introduce this element of hope and expectancy you are doing a very good thing for him, something for the family to look forward to, and something for the friends of the family to invest in in the hope that 87 they may be successful in drawing a prize. With regard to the question of our national credit, I deny emphatically that they are going to lower our credit. The only thing which will lower our credit will be what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will next have to do when he wants some money. If he does not want Premium Bonds, he will have to go to the bankers, cap in hand, and they will say, "We want another ½ per cent. on Treasury Bills." He will have to make the issue at such a rate of interest that it will make America laugh at us, lower our prestige in all the financial markets of the world, and depreciate even further all our present securities, low as they stand to-day That will lower our national credit, but this experiment will not. Who is going to laugh at us? Every Continental nation indulges in it, and they marvel at our hesitation.
We have brought forward no specific scheme. We leave the working out of it, with such help as he can command, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if the principle be right, and I am going to ask him before I sit down these two or three questions: If he will not have Premium Bonds, if he is going to use the great influence of his example to affect the vote on this subject, I want to know what he is going to do? If he tells us, "I can get all the money I want without depreciating the credit of this country, without knocking my war stocks down further to-day than they are"—if he says that, well and good. We know that the remedy of an hon. Friend on my right—the levy on capital—does not appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and we know the question of a further levy on war profits is complicated and, of necessity, a protracted matter. I do not know his particular views on that, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman, this, seriously: Is he quite sure that we are out of the wood; is he quite sure that the days of industrial unrest are past; is he quite certain that another railway strike is inconceivable? He knows much better than I do what is going on behind the scenes, and I only speak of things I gather; but is he quite certain all is well with the miners? Will he give us his assurance, on his high authority, that we need fear no further upheaval, no further general strike, in the next few months? If he cannot give us that assurance, I say, in all solemnity, that the industrial position to-day is, 88 almost as grave as it was a few months ago. I know what is going on behind the scenes in some of the great trade unions connected with the public services of this country. I know what some of the leaders are expecting, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman this—whether it is not worth while considering whether he will not be the first to try and give every working man in this country an opportunity of having a stake, however small, in the Empire which is his? Spread these bonds in every family in the Kingdom, and you will not have strikes, you will not have mad-dog revolutionary proposals in the way it is going on to-day between the Government and between the Labour leaders—and I am not quite sure that the Government will win. I urge the right hon. Gentleman sincerely, honestly, to think whether it is not worth while, even at the risk of a tiny element of gambling, to get in front of any possible coming blow, to make every man a shareholder in the British Empire.
To say you will not get the money is ridiculous. Everybody is fumbling in his pocket with a Treasury note or two to put into this scheme if only you will adopt it. It is no goad pleading; the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made up his mind; he does not like it, and although the Whips are taken off, his speech will probably be much more effective than the ordinary Whips would be in the outside Lobby. But I do know this, that but for these Little Bethel and Church telegrams, the vast majority of this House had made up its mind to vote for these things, and I want to say this, without offence: I do desire not to be offensive, but all history will tell you that the Church has been a poor leader on all questions of reform in this country. Not on one subject has it ever been right. The history of the Bench of Bishops, the history of all the churches and chapels on every great reform, from the Abolition of Slavery down to the granting of the Franchise, has always been the same. The Church has its work to do in another sphere; let it keep out of this House. We have our work to do here. Tear up the telegrams from Little Bethels. After all—I do not want to be cynical, but practical—they do not represent many votes, and if they do, tear them up and tell the chapels and churches to mind their own business. Look at this thing as business men, as practical men, as men of the world. If you do that with grave consideration, I venture to say this, 89 that by an overwhelming majority this House will give a lead to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and induce him to try an experiment which will do no harm and may bring enormous benefit to this country.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I beg to second the Motion.
There appears to be much misconception, both inside and outside Parliament, as to the objects and intentions of the promoters of Premium Bonds. It has been said and widely circulated, by men who, I think, should have been better informed, that our policy was repudiated by the House of Commons in the early part of last century. Such a statement has no foundation either in substance or in fact. In the case of the old State lotteries, as the chairman of Lloyds Bank said before the Select Committee, you paid a certain amount for your ticket, and lost it, or you did not lose it, but in all probability you lost it. That, of course, was gambling. In the case of Premium Bonds, the investor—I use the word advisedly, to distinguish him from the gambler—not only has his principal returned, but receives a rate of interest for his investment that in pre-war days would have been considered a fairly good return for money loaned to the State. In addition, he gets the chance of a prize sufficient in value, not to give him a large fortune, as so many of our critics seem to imagine, but to enable him, say, to buy a house, set up a business, or purchase an annuity. I mention this because it has been put about that what we are trying to do is to get people to invest in Premium Bonds for prizes of £20,000, £30,000, or £40,000. So far as I am concerned, I would have nothing to do with Premium Bonds of that character. I wish to see a large number of prizes coining down from very good value to small amounts, but nothing in the region of £30,000 to £50,000. Then, our critics, in their desire to misjudge the question, have read into the Report of the Select Committee a direct negative, whereas, in reality, it was mainly their anxiety to avoid controversy during the War that led the Committee to conclude their Report with these words, "We do not, therefore, advise that an issue of Premium Bonds be made at the present moment." Turning to the Chairman's Draft Report, we find the reason for inserting the words "at the, present time." The Report states: 90We have introduced the words 'at the present time' purposely into our final conclusion, as we consider that, if the War continues for any considerable time, and if the calls upon the Exchequer for increased wages, for subsidies on. food, and for similar charges increase, as they have done recently, there must come a time when the Government cannot ignore any means which will secure, additional financial support.Those were the words in the Chairman's Report, which explain the introduction of the words in the Report, "at the present time." Instead, therefore, of the Committee's Report being, as alleged, a. condemnation of Premium Bonds, it is nothing of the kind. If it is a judgment at all, it is, I claim, a judgment in favour of this method of raising revenue, but, as the hon. Gentleman opposite said, postponing the consideration till after the War, and until certain contingencies arise. Now, the War being completed, and those contingencies having arisen, we are, I think, justified in pressing the Government to consider seriously the advisability of making an issue of Investment, and Premium Bonds.
I do not suggest that this method of raising money should have a permanent place in our national finance, nor do I put it forward to secure an immediate advantage at the expense of principle, as I have seen stated by our opponents in various letters, for I agree—and I am sure we all agree—with the Bishop of Bristol that the principle underlying an issue of this kind merely extends that initiated by the Government and endorsed by Parliament and the country in the case of Victory Bonds where the investor was invited — and very properly—to speculate, and did so speculate, not only to the extent of £5 of his principal, but in the matter of interest as regards a rise or fall in the tax. Admittedly, an extension of this element of chance, where prizes are more numerous and values higher, may, from the political and economic standpoint, be wise or unwise, but neither in law nor in equity can it be described as immoral, unless at the same time allowing that the principle-already sanctioned by the State infringes the ethics of morality. I read with great satisfaction the letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury, especially that part of it in which he says,I shrink from describing the action of those who might invest money in Premium Bonds as being ethically wrong.But I am unable to follow him into what he somewhat vaguely describes as "the larger ethical aspect," not because I do not wish to do so but merely because his 91 letter offers no guide as to what these words are intended to imply. But some of his Nonconformists colleagues, if less charitable in their statements, are, at any rate, more definite in their attack. With out producing one tittle of evidence, they class Premium Bonds with the ordinary lottery, and condemn them as gambling, pure, and simple. No mention, however, is made by any of these divines of any difference of opinion either among the Prelates of the Church or the leaders of Nonconformity. Yet we have on record some very interesting evidence on the other side. For instance, there is the Bishop of Bristol, who told the Committee that, having. interviewed some sixty merchants, bankers and other professional men in his own city, he found that, with one or two exceptions, they were entirely in favour of Premium Bonds, and apparently these gentlemen represent both the Established and Nonconformist Churches. asked whether the members of all Churches agreed that there is no argument against the issue of Premium Bonds, the Bishop replied, "On the whole, yes." Again, answering the question whether he thought there was anything wrong in the issue of Premium Bonds by the Government, his answer was, "I should certainly not get up to denounce them." "But would you get up to advocate them?" he was asked. The bishop replied, "If I were appealed to, I think I should." Then we have the Dean of Exeter telling us,I fail to see the objection to the proposed issue of Premium Bonds. It is impossible in any investment to eliminate the element of chance, and it does not seem-to me more harmful in the case of Premium Bonds than in any other investment generally accepted as lawful.Turn to the evidence given before the Committee by the chairman of the Congregational Union, the second largest Nonconformist body in the country. He says, "I see no reason why Premium Bonds should not be permitted by the Government." He goes on to say,I have broached the subject to both business men and ministers, and find the great majority have no objection to this method of raising the national revenue.Asked if he would advocate Premium Bonds from his own pulpit, he replied, "I feel no hesitation in my mind." I venture to think that the opinion of such authorities as I have quoted should, at any rate, have some weight with our opponents. Has any hon. Member or right hon. Member ever known any objection ever, taken 92 by reasonable men, however much they may object to gambling, to an investor buying a share in a reputable concern, because, in addition to the income he expects to derive from it, he also hopes to get, but very often does not get, a rise in the capital value of his holding? Surely a man may be a sportsman without being a gambler, and the appeal we make is to the sporting instinct to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer appealed in this House when issuing his Victory Bonds. I am sure the Chancellor will remember the use of the words which I have ventured to repeat this afternoon.
As regards the accusation of an adverse influence on the character of the young, that has been said more than once by various Nonconformist bodies and Churches. If the House will allow me, I will quote from the evidence given before the Select Committee by Mr. Bell, himself a Nonconformist and a Sunday School teacher of forty years' standing. He said:I have been running working men's clubs and boys' clubs all my life. I have been president of Church working men's clubs, and I would go to all those places and put this matter as I see it. There are people to-day who are throwing away their money in lust, in drink, and in betting on horses, and I am trying to get them away from those low courses of gambling and so on, and I am giving them a Bond, which, after all, if it has a slight element of gambling—a 1½ per cent. chance—is bringing them into a higher moral atmosphere instantly, and is introducing thrift for the first time in these men's lives. I hate gambling as much as any human being can hate gambling… I cannot get them with the Post Office Savings Bank; I can get them with Premium Bonds. I am not afraid to go to any church or platform and commend this system as a means of prod Acing thrift and bringing men up rather than rutting them down.It is a strong point in our programme that Premium Bonds would encourage thrift in people who never before have invested, and supply an investment which has long been desired by a very large number of the working clases in this country. The thrift of the French nation is proverbial, and Premium Bonds, guaranteed by that Government, have long been a form of investment in France, and, as the Chancellor knows, there is at the present moment the largest loan on the Premium Bond principle, guaranteed by the Government, just being brought out in France. Where does the right hon. Gentleman suppose the money of this country, which would be put into Premium Bonds, would go, if those bonds are not introduced in this country? Will they not go into the French Loan, and can he afford that money to leave the 93 Country? In connection with this aspect of the case, I would like to say that Premium Bonds will give to many working men a stake in the security of their country which they do not now possess. I may be told, and have been told, "Oh, but they do possess it, and Can possess it in the Savings Bank and the War Savings Certificates." To that argument I would say that that is money at call, and not an investment in the Funded Debt. One would imagine from the letters in the Press that have appeared over Sir Robert Kinidersley's name that he was always opposed to Premium Bonds, but that is not so. The Advisory Committee, of which he was chairman, passed a resolution in favour of Premium Bonds. When, however, he became father of the War Savings Certificates, he abandoned his former faith, and, like a good and jealous parent, began and continued to see every virtue in his own child and none in the children of ether people. He tells us that Premium, Bonds will interfere with War Savings Certificates and break down the work of his voluntary committees. On this point I feel bound to remind the House of his evidence on that very point before the Select Committee. asked whether his Committee were unfavourably impressed by Premium Bonds on the ground that they would compete with War Savings Certificates, he replied, "No, we would not mind that a bit, because any other security which came along would do that." Then he went out of his way to add,I am satisfied that you would get a large number of people to put their money into Premium Bonds whom you would get in no other way.As to the suggestion that the departure we propose would cause holders of certificates and depositors in the Savings Bank to sell their certificates and withdraw their deposits, the evidence against is overwhelming. "The most striking feature in business in the last few years," says the Controller of the Post Office Savings Bank, "has been the fact that the working classes still leave their money at the Savings Bank at 2½ per cent. when by getting War Bonds they could double the amount of interest." Again, we have Sir John Bradbury, late Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, sayingI am not seriously alarmed at the prospect of any form of security leading to a serious depletion of Savings Bank deposits.Again—and here I am sure I shall have the attention of the right hon. Gentleman 94 behind me (Mr. Evelyn Cecil)—in the monthly circular issued to-day by the London City and Midland Bank, of which Mr. McKenna is chairman, we findPremium Bonds would fail to attract any large amount of money from the Savings Banks.A person puts his money into War Savings Certificates for the same reason that be puts it into the Post Office Savings Bank. Why does he put it into either of these securities? In order that he may draw it out in any sudden emergency. In the case of the certificates—I am not sure, but I think I am right in saying what I do, and the Chancellor will correct me if I am wrong—a very considerable number have already been cashed. This money will not go into a Funded Loan, especially a Loan like Premium Bonds where money is invested at compound interest, and cannot be withdrawn until the loan is paid off. But even—and this is the point made by my hon. Friend opposite—even if a portion of the certificates and deposits were transferred, would that be so great an economic evil? In my judgment, no Chancellor of the Exchequer who knows that over £281,000,000 of "15s. 6d. Certificates for £1 "could be cashed to-morrow and that the whole of the Savings Bank deposits can be drawn out next week, could possibly disregard the consequences of such a demand at a time of political and social stress. From the point of view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer it should, I think, be one of the chief merits of Premium. Bonds and our proposal that there is the possibility of some, at least, of this huge liability being funded in proportion to the investment in Premium Bonds.
Administration expenses are not an unimportant matter. I am told on very high authority that the cost, in the case of Premium Bonds, of administrative expenses would be very much on the same lines as the War Savings Certificates. They certainly would not amount to more. To say, therefore, as some critics do, that the clerical work in connection with Premium Bonds would be greater than in the case of present issues is obviously incorrect. The accrued dividend would be paid in one amount at the end of the term, instead of as now prepared, half-yearly. All the machinery required, once the Premium Bond issue was completed, would be in connection with the drawing up of the bonds; that, I think the House will agree, is a very simple affair. It is said that Premium Bonds would take from 95 other funded loans. To this I notice that Lord Cunliffe gives a direct denial. He says, talking of Premium Bonds,No scheme that I have seen would interfere with Government finance which goes through the Bank of England.As to the effect of Premium Bonds upon the public credit of this country, why should they injure it? It has not injured the credit of France. Why then should it injure the credit of this country If the House requires guidance on the point of injury to public credit by Premium Bonds, I may say that the larger number of witnesses before the Select Committee on financial interests were of opinion that when all conditions were abnormal — as is the case today—a Premium Bond issue would be in no way either detrimental or prejudicial. We have had little, if, anything, said in this Debate about the exchanges. Sir Robert Kindersley tells us that the question of exchange—which is not unimportant—and Sir Robert Kindersley's views have had a great effect upon Members of this House, and more especially upon members of the Government—was one of the reasons why he favoured Premium Bonds. He says,Before America came into the War I knew what was going on in the exchange situation, and being very much alarmed I felt that Premium Bonds might bring in a certain amount of money from abroad, and I think it would.This opinion is endorsed by the Chairman of the Stock Exchange and other experts who gave evidence before the Select Committee. Further, Sir Robert Kindersley tells us, "His Committee changed their opinion, not because they felt Premium Bonds was a gamble." Not at all. Not "because it would interfere with the sale of War Savings Certificates"; not "because it would cause deposits to be withdrawn from the Post Office Savings Banks; not even because it. would injure our national credit." But because "they did not think the need for them at that time so great from the national point of view." That was in November, 1917. Can that be said to-day when we consider the position in relation to America, where the is only worth 17s? Surely this is a condition of affairs that deserves consideration when you are considering the matter of the Exchanges. Does it not handicap British trade? Does it not tend to keep up prices? Then I submit one of the points in favour of a Premium Bonds 96 issue, which I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider, is the question of the exchange value.
I think, however, the main question which will decide the Chancellor is, "How much money shall we get?" In the Report of the Montagu Committee Premium Bonds were described as being probably a very attractive form of investment for the working classes, and they supposed that very considerable sums would be obtained. As to actual figures, Lord Cunliffe volunteers the statement that bankers better able to judge than himself said that over £200,000,000 might easily be got. According to the Chairman of Lloyds this amount would reach £300,000,000 at, least. A well-known stockbroker places the amount at £500,000,000. So it mounts up. But, after all, this is a question solely for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to decide. What I can, and do, say is that the last Loan fell very short of anticipation, and that the time has come for an experiment in a new direction. After all allowances are made, for repayments we still have to meet an annual charge for interest and sinking fund of £400,000,000. How is that charge to be reduced? Certainly not by guaranteeing Loans at 6 per cent. as was done the other day in the case of the Soudanese Loan. Everyone knows, however much the Chancellor of the Exchequer seeks to hide it, that a new Loan cannot -be much longer delayed. The right hon. Gentleman cannot go on borrowing on Ways and Means advances. He cannot go on borrowing on Treasury Bills with the Bank Rate at 6 per cent. I would remind him, and the House, that successive Chancellors have promised that no higher rate of interest than that which has been given shall ever be given to investors in British securities. I also would remind the House that, the Five Per Cent. Loan is already many points below the price of issue. You can buy War Loan in the City to-day which will return you 6½ per cent. Moreover, if Government Departments promise to give better terms than already given, what will happen? One thing, and one thing alone, will happen. Immediately all stocks will fall. Is that the sort of thing or the position which the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to see the money market of this country in? Will that assist our national finance? In conclusion, then, I can only repeat that if Premium Bonds are not the highest form of national finance—and they are not—they are undoubtedly an abnormal necessity if we are 97 to pay our way and to relieve the present intolerable strain upon the British taxpayer.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The issue which the House has to decide to-night is one, I think, of considerable importance. The arguments on either side lie within a small compass. I do not think that many speeches or very long speeches are needed to develop those arguments. I must say I regret that the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded the Resolution should have thought it necessary for the purpose of forwarding their proposal to cast doubt or aspersion upon the credit of the country, or upon the success of other operations. Their proposal can be judged upon its merit. That is how they should wish to have it judged. It does not strengthen their case to suggest that the credit of the country is very bad, that conditions are so terrible that they hardly like to contemplate them; or make statements like the hon. Member—
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I object to the interpretation the right hon. Gentleman is putting upon my speech. I made no such aspersion on the national credit. The statements he, has made are not in accordance with the speech I have made.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Members who are within hearing can judge. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I think I am saying what would be their comment upon what he actually said; but I am glad to know—indeed, I. can feel confident—that the hon. Gentleman did not intend any aspersion.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
Might I be allowed just a word? It is because of the present condition of national credit and the present prices of War Stock that we feel this proposal necessary.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Therefore, in order to commend his proposal, the hon. Member draws the gloomiest pictures he can of our present position and prospects. I do not think that is the way to recommend his proposal to the House. The hon. Member asserted, and re-asserted, in spite of the correction which he has interjected, that the great bulk of the money contributed to the last loan was contributed on the strong influence or compulsion from the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the bankers, but the hon. Member is wrong. I am sorry that he should have made such a statement, and it is necessary that I should dea1 with it at once. Of the 98 whole sum less than £100,000,000 face value, and less than £80,000,000 in cash, was produced by the bankers at my solicitation. Therefore it really does not help the case for Premium Bonds, and it does injure the credit of the country if reckless statements of that kind, without foundation in fact, are so recklessly made.
I pass from that feature of the speeches, which were delivered to consider the proposal itself. May I first say a word about the attitude of the Government? The House knows that the Government does not propose to use its usual means of influence to secure any particular decision in this Debate. We propose to leave the decision to the House without putting on the Government Whips; but outside this House, as my correspondence shows, there are a great number of people who suppose that it was the Government who proposed this particular form of borrowing to the House of Commons, but of course that is not so. This is a proposal which has excited a great deal of interest, about which very diverse and contradictory views are held, and which divides men independently of all the ordinary political classifications, and on which the Government have thought it was desirable that the House of Commons itself should express an opinion so that the matter might be decided by general consent, either one way or the other. Let me say—and I think I ought to say it now—that, of course, if this Resolution be carried, that in itself will not be sufficient to authorise such an issue as the supporters of the Resolution recommend. Legislation will then be necessary to give effect to the wishes of the House of Commons, as expressed in the Resolution, and the House will not expect, and I think will not desire, unless there is a perfectly clear expression of opinion in support of the Resolution that we should introduce into our very heavy programme fresh legislation which would be liable to divide the House into nearly equal parts. Accordingly, when I speak to-day, I speak for myself, and I am not expressing the collective or considered mind of the Government. If the House decides that such an issue is to be made by such a clear majority as gives us a chance of passing the legislation, without too great a delay and consumption of valuable time, then it would be my duty to obey the wishes of the House. In the meantime I am as free as any other Member, but I think the House will expect that the Chancellor of 99 the Exchequer should speak with a certain sense of responsibility, not only of his personal predilections or dislikes, but of the effect this may have upon the finances and conditions of the country.
Let me say it frankly that if any hon. Member is inclined to accuse me of inconsistency, I plead guilty at once. When the subject was being discussed by the Select Committee I did not give very much thought to it, and I expressed my view in private conversation as being favourable to some such proposal as that now brought forward by the hon. Member opposite. But I have changed my mind, because then I had not considered the matter carefully, and now I have, and in the light of my further consideration I think I was wrong, and I am not ashamed to say so; and I think there are others who are in the same position as myself. I am not going to argue this question as a great question of moral right or wrong; I am not going to say exactly at what point a speculative interest becomes improper gambling, or that every kind of gambling is morally wrong. I am not a teetotaler in these matters; I do not pretend that I have always abstained, or that, I always shall, but I think the question is to be judged on particular grounds of expediency, and it is on those grounds that I ask the House of Commons to judge.
The first consideration is that, rightly or wrongly, this kind of proposal does shock a great number of people in this country. The hon. Member who moved this Resolution dismisses the opposition of Churchmen and Churches very lightly. He tells us that individual divines differ from the collective expression of their Churchs' opinion or individual members of the Church. I admit that human nature is very complex and there are curious strains in the character of most of us. The hon. Member's speech recalled to me a by-election in the old days of three-cornered seats, when a Liberal was returned at a by-election for the City of Liverpool, and certainly that had never been heard of before. The Liberal there only got elected in a three-cornered contest. I remember my father asking a Liverpool man what was the explanation of this unexpected success of the Liberal candidate, and the man replied, "He appeals particularly to Liverpool because he is such a very pious man, and then he is such a daring specu- 100 lator." The combination is not unknown, but let us recognise that what we are asked to do will make a sharp division in the country, and will offend a very large and very respectable section of public opinion, and, more than that, it will reverse the policy which, for better or worse reasons, we have pursued for something like 100 years. If anybody wants to know why lotteries were prevented, they would find it set out in the Report of the Committee of 1808, which sat to consider the question. They pointed out the difficulty of confining the gambling interests within the exact limits in which it would be harmless. They say:Your Committee feel convinced that under no system of regulations which can be devised will it be possible for Parliament to adopt it as an efficient source of revenue, and at the same time divest it of all the evils and calamities of which it has hitherto proved so baneful a source.They go on to point out the extraordinary stringency of the laws for redressing abuses.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, they were lotteries. This is what the Report says:In the meantime your Committee find that by the effects of the lottery, even under its present restrictions, idleness, dissipation and poverty are increased, the most sacred and confidential truths are betrayed, domestic comfort is destroyed, madness often created, crimes, subjecting the perpetrators of them to the punishment of death, are committed, and even suicide itself is produced, as will fully appear by the evidence submitted to the House.I am talking about what caused the House of Commons to prohibit lotteries. Now let us see what this Committee said about lotteries, and what caused the Government to abstain from lotteries for the last 100 years:Such have been the constant and fatal attendants upon State lotteries, and such your Committee have too good ground to fear will be their invariable attendants so long as they are suffered, under whatever checks or regulations, to exist. The question naturally occurs to your Committee, whether any pecuniary advantage, however large or convenient, can compensate to a State for the amount of vice and misery thus necessarily produced by the levy of it?I gather from the advertisement of my hon. Friend that, as far as a lottery is concerned, he would think that condemnation justified and accurate, and his case is that this is not a lottery. [An HON. MEMBER.: "Not a lottery of that kind!"] If it were gambling, would he object to it? 101 Is there any doubt about gambling? My hon. Friend quoted evidence from the recent Select Committee I noticed amongst the witnesses the Chief Constable of Manchester, who said:Under ordinary circumstances no person would be more strongly opposed to any form of betting or gambling than. I should be … but having regard to the necessities of the case, I am prepared in the present national crisis, as all loyal subjects should be, to submerge any personal feelings I may have if by so doing anything can be done to bring to a successful termination the present devastating world-wide War.He was one of the witnesses for Premium Bonds, but this is what he says of gambling:Gambling, in any form, is one of the most important and at the present time one of the most perplexing problems of the day. It is when carried to excess a most serious vice, and appears to so enslave its victims as to make it almost morally impossible for them to throw off its influence. Once indulged in and given way to, it appears to Monopolise a man's thoughts to the exclusion of all others, either of business, borne, or rational pleasure, and very often it leads direct to ruin.I think that is a true statement, an unexaggerated statement, of one of the greatest social evils of the day. I remember many years ago being told by a most worthy and devoted missionary of my native city of Birmingham that, in his experience, far more individuals and families were brought to ruin by gambling than by drink. It is common ground between my hon. Friend (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) and those who support him and myself that if we are going to encourage, anything in the nature of the old lottery, or anything liable to its vices, or if we are going to encourage gambling, then pro tanto we are doing an undesirable thing. That is common ground between us. Then, that is something gained.
What is there in this form of loan to distinguish it from any previous form of loan, except the gambling element introduced into it? If interest be your object, then 2½ per cent. will not be so attractive as 5 per cent. If security be your object, then the Government guarantee of a Premium Bond is no better than the. Government guarantee of any other bond. If accessibility to your money or to your little capital at any moment when you may have need of it is what you want, then the Premium Bond is less attractive than either the War Savings Certificates or the deposits in the Post Office. There is nothing in a Premium Bond as advocated by the hon. 102 Gentleman which can offer a superior attraction to anybody except the gambling chance irrespective of the interest which is paid? Is it possible to make a State issue and carry on a great campaign in support of it and to make that issue one which differs only from those already open to the public in its gambling chance and not to make the gambling chance the theme of your whole scheme and not to hold out the gambling chance as the great attraction? And if you do that, can anyone say that by calling it a Premium Bond or an Investment Bond, by paying 2½ per cent. or returning the capital, say, in ten or twenty years' time, that you save yourselves from the injurious effects which followed the old lottery, and which are inherent in gambling in other and unlicensed forms? I doubt whether we ought to confront the possibility of such evil for anything. I am quite sure that we should be unwise to confront it unless we were quite certain that the advantage was real and great.
Both the hon. Mover and Seconder departed somewhat from the general argument in favour of Premium Bonds. The argument usually addressed to us is that there is in the country a great deal of money which might be saved and which is not saved, and that it is only by a Premium Bond that we can get any of that money put by. I admit at once that there is a great deal of money in the country that might be saved and that is not saved, and I admit that some of that money can be got by a Premium Bond and probably in no other way. I admit that, but my hon. Friends proposed to the House that we should convert into Premium Bonds a great deal of the money that we are getting in other ways, and, in order to encourage me to do that, they draw the most alarming picture of the results that would follow if all the Treasury Notes and all the War Savings Certificates were cashed and all the Savings Bank balances were drawn out on the same day. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of these matters in the last few years than the progress of the War Savings movement and of the Savings Bank movement. It is quite true that the whole of that is practically at call—in the Savings Bank at very short notice—but all experience shows that although in fact call money, it is either continued on deposit or renewed. Although on the issue of each Loan a considerable amount of money has been drawn out of the Savings Bank and put into the Loan, that Sum has been 103 made good by further deposits, so that at the end of the year the Savings Bank deposits have been higher than at the beginning. We have all the War Savings Certificates and all the small investments in bonds in addition. That is a very remarkable and very satisfactory thing. Are all these people suddenly going to change their habits and withdraw their money in mass if we do not have Premium Bonds? If that money is fairly secure, if on the doctrine of averages judged by experience we need not fear these vast unmanageable withdrawals, then what is the interest of the State in converting money which is now lent to them at 2½ per cent. interest into a loan at 4 or 5 per cent?
What money are you likely to get by an issue of Premium Bonds? I admit that no proof is possible, but I think we may get some kind of indication. In no Loan that we have had, even the most successful in the sense of having the greatest number of subscribers, where the Loan has been most widely distributed, has the big total come in little subscriptions. It cannot. I do not want to weary the House with figures, but perhaps it will pardon me if I give one. I take, as an illustration, the Five per Cent. War Bond, 1920–47. The number of Bank of England subscribers was 1,066,000; the number of Post Office subscribers was 1,060,000, almost exactly equal. In the Post Office issue considerable quantities were taken in blocks by firms, to be distributed later among their workmen. Therefore, the real number under the Post Office issue would be not less than 1,375,000 subscribers, compared with 1,066,000 subscribers to the Bank of England issue. The Post Office issue produced £38,000,000 —I omit hundreds of thousands—compared with £928,000,000 obtained from the Bank of England issue. Those 1,375,000 small subscribers, with their £38,000,000, I regard as a wonderful and most satisfactory result. Think of the number of small subscribers required to make £100,000,000, £200,000,000, or £500,000,000, as suggested by my hon. Friend! It is really absurd and ludicrous to talk of getting anything like that sum of new money from people who have not hitherto subscribed.
You may conceivably get a big total, or at any rate it may reasonably be argued that you may get a big total, on either of two conditions. You may get a big total if your terms are such that they induce rich men to invest in the Premium 104 Bonds. I would just ask the House for a moment to look at it from that point of view. It is proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Bottomley) that we should have a loan bearing interest at 2½ per cent., with 1½ per cent. devoted to prizes obtained by annual drawings, and that the Whole should be tax free. H you get your very rich man, that is not gambling; it is an investment, and rather an attractive one-I have had the curiosity to turn up some Income Tax figures, and I will take the-man at the top of the list. [HON MEMBERS: "Name!"] His name is not known to me, and, if I asked for it, the Inland Revenue authorities would not disclose it. Take a man with an income of £150,000 and over. I assume that the maximum rate could not be higher than that offered in the Five per Cent. War Loan of 1917. That was £5 7s. 6d., when all allowances were made, and it was subject to tax; in the case of the equivalent, tax free, the rate is £2 12s. The suggestion is that we should have a Bond with £2 10s. interest and the chance of a prize to the amount of another £1 10s., free of Income Tax and Super-tax. That is the Resolution. Observe the results. A man with an income of £150,000 could invest his whole fortune in these bonds and get a return without the prize which he might draw of only 2s. per cent. less than if he invested his whole fortune in the Five per Cent. War Loan, and on the law of averages he would have a good chance of getting another 1½ per cent. out of the prize which he might draw. On much smaller figures, when you allow for the very high rates of Income Tax and Supertax, a man might argue that this was a good investment for him, but it would only be a good investment for him because he would cease to pay Income Tax and Supertax, and because if he died the capital value of the property which would pass at his death would be less and would be subject to a much lower rate of duty. On all heads, the Exchequer would lose. In any case it is not to get millions from rich men that you issue the Premium Bonds—it is not to enable them to avoid Super-tax or Income Tax. It is to get the small man; it is the smaller man you want. What is it the small man wants if he is of a saving turn at all? What he wants is, first, absolute security, not merely in the shape of an annuity but security of his capital at the value which it had when he invested it. He goes to the Savings Bank where he gets 2½ per cent. because he 105 knows his £5 there is always £5 without any depreciation on the day he needs it, and he takes War Savings Certificates for the same reason. His second requirement is that his money should be secure and accessible; and interest is of much less consideration. If you say to these savings bank people that they can have that security, and they can have accessibility—though I should have denied it—and they can have beside a gambling chance of a big prize, I think you will draw a great deal of money from the savings banks. That would be a pure loss to the State, not merely a moral and social loss but a direct financial loss.
There is only one other condition on which you could get a considerable sum of new money out of the small subscriptions, though you will not be able to do it without transferring a great deal of the old money from the savings banks. Suppose you were able to keep your Premium Bond issue on tap, not to have it opened for a definite time only, then to close it and begin the draw, but to keep it on tap and draw month by month or every three months, or whatever it might be, while the issue was still open, and suppose you took the means which it would be the duty of the Government to take—to advertise your issue—and you had a campaign of publicity showing how some poor person became the lucky winner of a, big prize, suppose you pictured the humble home in which he dwelt, then the big prize he had obtained, and added the headline, "What will he do with it?"—[Laughter]—no, I am serious. If you want to make the thing a success that is what you will have to do, and what I ask you is, are any of you, even those who are most favourable to Premium Bonds, prepared to do it? Without that there is no money in this scheme that makes the scheme worth the disadvantages which it would certainly entail. I think quite the highest limit of new money that was suggested, after thought, by any witness before the Select Committee was £100,000,000. In my opinion that is a great exaggeration of what we could get in a single year unless you had got the whole country into a gaming fever. I believe that £100,000,000 would probably be double and, perhaps, more than double what you would secure in a year. What is that as a, remedy for the evils of which the hon. Mover and Seconder made so much? My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) has told me that he disagrees 106 with me. He was good enough to tell me, before I spoke, that he had knocked the bottom out of my argument.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I know my hon. Friend too well to presume to think for one moment that I could convert him by anything I could say. But my hon. Friend must allow me to address myself to others who perhaps have a more open mind. Take the highest conceivable figures that you can get without keeping the loan open indefinitely, with all the evils attendant upon such an indefinite prolongation. What is that as a resource for meeting the difficulties of which the two hon. Gentlemen drew such a grave picture We have about £1,100,000,000 Treasury Bills, between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000 Ways and Means Advances. We have £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 more of other very short-dated securities, and we are going to save the State from the inevitable disaster which hon. Members see from this state of things by going in for a Premium Bond issue which may in the course of a year bring in £50,000,000, at the outside in the estimation of its most sanguine supporters £100,000,000! Really, is it worth talking about as a remedy for our whole financial situation You have to consider it merely as one expedient which it may or may not be desirable to adopt.
I should like to make this observation. A great deal is said by the advocates of these bonds about encouraging saving among our people. Do they really think that by inviting people to put their money into bonds whose only peculiar attraction is the gambling element, they will be encouraging saving. I think it is contrary to all experience. I have never met a man who has established a solid fortune by breaking the Bank at Monte Carlo, and I do not believe that anybody will really be made into a thrifty man by the sudden winning of a prize which is beyond the dreams of anyone. I think it is contrary to all experience, and, in my opinion, the result of your issue of Premium Bonds will be not that you will make a man save who has not saved before, but that it will induce a man to gamble who has hitherto saved. Take the man who has put by £30 to £50 to start a little business, or a man who is trying to put by enough money to purchase a house with the aid, perhaps, of a loan from a building society. 107 He has got half of what he wants. Then comes your issue of Premium Bonds. Do you think that it will really encourage him to go on saving carefully? I think it will encourage him to give up saving and to try a gamble, to try to get rich quickly instead of trying to get rich by steady stages. Is there a worse or a more dangerous lesson for us to teach the country at the present time? There is a great deal too much of the spirit of gambling in the country today, too much of the disposition to get rich quickly. It is not that spirit that will help us in our difficulties or carry us to safety. What we require is sober, steady, honest work, and the more you turn the people's attention to chance the more you take them away from strenuous effort and from continuous hard work. One other observation I must make. My hon. Friend (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) seemed to be particularly indignant with me for associating these bonds with the idea of gambling. I do not think the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bottomley) who moved the Amendment minds that aspersion at all.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I think if the State is going to encourage gambling it might go rather further and take full advantage of what it can do. The hon. Member and many others who advocate these bonds draw a wide distinction between these bonds and gambling. These, they say, are investments with a moderate interest, and, after a number of years, the return of your capital with prizes to be drawn. I do not want to argue with them. I think they are open to the objections that I have spoken of. I think they are not corrupt, as one hon. Gentleman says—I do not suggest that for a moment—but I believe they are corrupting in their effect. Some of my hon. Friends disagree with me. They think they have none of these evils. Very well, are they prepared to allow others to do what they recommend the State to do, and, if not, why not? If there is no objection either in principle or as a measure of expediency, why should we confine this to the State? You must allow a municipality to do it, and, after allowing every municipality, why should you not allow any company which chooses to make an issue in the same form? I know of no reason. If it has no bad influence when it is done by the State, if it has no corrupting influence when it is done by the State, it 108 should have no bad or corrupting influence when done by an honest company with an honest record, and I do not know on what ground you can forbid it to them. But this I do say, that el en if you tried to forbid it to others—and I do not say this on my own authority but with the authority of the Attorney-General and of the Director of Public Prosecutions—if the State decides to make an issue of this kind not only you cannot deny the right to municipalities and others, but you destroy the whole administration of the anti-lottery and anti-gambling laws. It is impossible for the State to encourage gambling in one form by itself and prohibit it in all other forms.
Under these circumstances I come, not on a priori ethical principles, not in the first instance, but on reflection, to the conclusion that it is not worth while to confront the evils inherent to an issue of this kind with the doubtful advantages which-we would derive. I came to the conclusion that, unless by diversion from other sources, you will get no large sum. Such diversion might take place of big money if you make the terms of your loan such that it pays a very rich man to invest in this issue free of tax rather than investing in other Government securities which pay Income Tax. But from the small holder you may succeed in attracting money which now goes into the savings banks and the War Savings Certificates, and you may succeed in introducing throughout the country a fever of excitement leading everybody to watch the drawings, and leading people to buy tickets when they see prizes won by persons as poor, or poorer, than themselves. But I do not believe that that will encourage saving. I do not think it would advance our credit. I think that it may, and this very seriously, affect the work of the War Savings Committee. As Chancellor of the Exchequer I cannot speak with sufficient appreciation and sufficient gratitude of the work done by the voluntary organisations for War Savings throughout the length and breadth of the Kingdom. They have succeeded—the figures are shown in a letter to the "Times"— in inducing enormous numbers of people to invest in Government securities who never so invested before. They have induced people to save who never saved before, and they are inducing them to continue. It will split their organisation from top to bottom if the Government undertakes an issue of Premium Bonds. I think that would be a 109 great misfortune, and something like a disaster. Just in proportion to your success would be the revival of the evils which affected the old lotteries.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
A feature of the old lotteries was habitually that they were associated with an issue with interest and with a capital return. If you look at the lists you will find issue after issue of a Loan by the Government with capital and interest repayable by the State, coupled with a right to take lottery tickets. I think this would provoke a revival of the evils associated with those Loans. Above all, at a time when the one lesson you have to teach everybody is that there is no salvation except in work, you teach them to expect salvation by luck! Instead of teaching them to rely upon their efforts, you teach them to look to chance. If you do that, no amount of money you may get, whether it be much more than I anticipate or not, will compensate the country for the damage which will be done. I approached this subject with no party feeling. I formed my opinion after a good deal of thought, a good deal of reading, and a great deal of consideration. The longer I look at it the less I like it. So far as I am concerned, speaking for myself, with my experience and my responsibility, without pretending to speak for the Government or to use Government influence, I hope the House will meet this Motion with a direct negative.
§ Sir E. COATES
We have listened to a very important speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, to a great extent, has turned the whole of his argument on the question whether or not the proposed issue of Premium Bonds is a gamble. I had the opportunity of being on the Select Committee and of hearing the various witnesses who came before that Committee. Altogether thirty-five witnesses were called. Eighteen of these were in favour of this investment in Premium Bonds, twelve were against, and five were neutral. If hon. Members have taken the trouble to read the Blue Book on Premium Bonds which was issued a little time ago, they will realise from the questions and answers how thoroughly each one of those witnesses was probed on two questions—first, the ethical or moral aspect, and, secondly, the business aspect, or the amount of money likely to be obtained by an issue of these Bonds The 110 result of our listening to those witnesses was to lead us to a unanimous Report. Hon. Members who were in the last Parliament and who have read the names of the members of that Committee, will realise that at least one-half of the Committee comprised gentlemen who were diametrically opposed to the issue of Premium Bonds or to anything that had an element of chance in it. The last two lines of our Report say:We do not, therefore, advise that an issue of Premium Bonds be made at the present time, or until further efforts have been made to render present issues more attractive to the investor.The words "at the present time" mean two years ago. At that time we had before us the financial needs of the country and the possibility of a Government being able to raise Loans for the purposes of the War. We had before us various bankers and others, as will be seen by the Blue Book. Sir Richard Vassar Smith, the chairman of Lloyds Bank, said that we should be able to get some £200,000,000 or £250,000,000. The same statement was made by Mr. Bell, the general manager of that bank. I have made it my business, as a business man in the City, to go round to see various bankers. I have seen some of the principal bankers in the City. This morning I was very much struck with what one of these general managers told me. He said:I had always been opposed to the issue of Premium Bonds, but now I have considered the matter and, so far as I am concerned, if I were a Member of Parliament I should go into the Lobby this evening in favour of them.The reasons he gave me had nothing to do with the arguments put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day. He touched more on the question of business and less on the question of ethics. We are all men of the world here, or rather we are all men and women of the world, and are ourselves the best judges of what our own consciences tell us with regard to chance and gambling. You may argue this, and you may argue that. You may get a right hon. Gentleman like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is very able in debate, who will turn this question of a large chance or Premium Bonds into a terrible question of gambling. I for one do not believe that it is gambling at all. If it is gambling, you and I are gambling every day of our lives. We are all business men, and we are all taking risks. It is an element of business or of successful business. Whether you are a ship charterer, a coal dealer, a retailer, or a draper, 111 or whatever you may be in life, you buy forward and you take your risks. You may lose. When the stuff comes in the price may go down and you may have a loss on your balance-sheet Are you to be called a gambler because you have made a mistake' in that way? It is all real, legitimate business. If any Government were to bring in a Bill in which they said that anybody who had anything to do with chance in their business would be prosecuted, it would mean the ruin of the country. This country from first to last has been built up by the adventurer. We have to thank those who came before us for having the spirit of adventure in them, not only for adventuring their own lives, but also for adventuring their treasure in the past, in order that we might benefit now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the Chief Constable of Manchester had given his views with regard to gambling. I have no doubt they were quite right. None of us believes in real gambling. What the Chief Constable said at the end of his evidence was:I have brought the scheme—that was the scheme suggested to the Committee—before the Watch Committee of the City of Manchester, and I am authorised to state that they are practically unanimous in favour of the scheme of issuing Premium Bonds.That was the result of his having brought the matter before his watch committee. The Blue Book contains a good deal of evidence with regard to the amount of money we might get from the issue of these bonds and a good deal of evidence on the ethical question. I should like to draw the attention of the House to one point concerning the question of chance. As many hon. Members know, large issues are being made now. You have only to open your newspapers in the morning, as I did this morning, to find that at least £10,500,000 of various stocks and shares are being offered to the public for subscription. That is a large sum of money. Last week it was over £16,000,000. That means that £16,000,000 is being offered for subscription. I think I am right in saying that the whole of that £16,000,000, before it has been issued to the public, has been underwritten. Many hon. Members know what "underwriting" means, but if they will allow me I will explain it in a few words. Some large firm desires to make an issue of their securities. They are not sure whether or not the public will provide the money. It is necessary for them to obtain it, and, in order to 112 be quite certain of obtaining it, they go to some banking or financial house and say, "We do not want to run any chances with regard to the issue of our securities. We should like to hand that chance over to a body of people to whom we will pay a commission." That commission is usually 1 per cent. or 5 per cent. For that commission they get a guarantee that the public or, if not the public, the guarantors will find the money required to pay for the securities. Therefore you have day after day in the City of London the element of chance entering into your financial business. That element of chance is entered into by many of those who to-day are holding up their hands aghast at the idea of a poor man with a £1 bond receiving 3½d. a year in order that he may obtain a prize.
I cannot think there is any real justice in the attitude they take up with regard to that question. Then the question of thrift was mentioned. One of the reasons why I identified myself with this movement was that I believed we should touch a body of people who, as a rule, never thought of saving and had never been tempted to save. The rich have plenty of opportunities of tempting investments to them, but the poor have very few tempting investments placed before them. I agree that this is a tempting investment to the poor man, but it will tempt him from putting his money to a worse use. He will withdraw it from the football and the cricket field and from horse-racing in order to lend it to the State. I do not think that money is tainted in the least degree if it comes to the State through the issue of Premium Bonds. We are told it may affect Post Office savings. So it may, but does the Chancellor of the Exchequer consider that it is fair to the Post Office savings people, who do not understand business, that they should still be receiving 2½ per cent. for their money, when they can get 5 per cent. and 5½ per cent. outside?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I think it is quite clear that they understand that they could be receiving 5 per cent. for their money but they prefer the conditions of the Post Office Savings Bank.
§ Sir E. COATES
My servant maids do not understand it, because I have discussed it and tried to explain it to them—not that they should take it out of the Post Office, but that they have the opportunity if they wish it. I hope the Chan- 113 cellor of the Exchequer will not say I am trying to injure the credit of the country if I go into the figures of national finance, because that is what troubles me. It may not trouble other people, but I am sure it troubles him, as he has a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders. I have had dug out of the "Economist" the financial position of the country as it was on 15th November last and on 4th January, 1918, the date at which the Select Committee was sitting. We thought the financial position then was serious enough, and we said in our Report that we thought other means should be adopted to obtain money, but that if you could not obtain the money you required, you must offer a more attractive form of investment. On 4th January, 1918, we had an indebtedness of £5,554,000,000. Of that indebtedness £2,763,000,000 was funded, and £2,871,000,000 was unfunded. Now, the money market is more difficult, the Bank Rate has been raised, the day to day money which was then 3½ per cent. is now 4½ per cent. Treasury Bills were 4 per cent. and are now 5½ per cent., the Bank Rate was 5½ per cent. and is now 6 per cent. I am told the golden sovereign is being sold at Colombo at £1 10s. On 15th November last we owed £7,862,000,000 and of that amount £4,553,000,000 is funded. If my figures are right it means that to-day this country has unfunded debt, some at short notice and some at longer, of £3,308,000,000. That is food for reflection and makes one naturally anxious to see that as soon as possible some form of funding should be brought about by the Treasury. There is a figure of £1,284,000,000 which is called other debt. That, of course, is something borrowed from the United States and Argentina, but I do not think that money falls due for two or three years. It means that we have an unfunded debt of £3,308,000,000, and beyond that there is the money in the Post Office and the Treasury notes, coming altogether, I suppose, to something like £660,000,000. Add that to the £3,308,000,000 and you get an appalling sum. That has to be faced, and we who believe in Premium Bonds are justified in having brought the matter before the House of Commons in order to leave the responsibility with them whether or not they consider it is wise that an issue of that description should be made at present. In December, 1917, the deposits in our great banks were £1,917,000,000. On 31st December last they were 114 £2,281,000,000. To-day, from what bankers tell me, their deposits amount very nearly to £2,500,000,000.
One afternoon last week we had an opportunity of listening to an address upstairs by Mr. Bell, the genera manager and director of Lloyds Bank, one of the largest banks in the country, which has over £200,000,000 of deposits. The question was put to him, "How much War Stock is held by the banks?" He said he had not the figures before him, but he should think nearly £500,000,000. Our large commercial undertakings must make great advances in order that we may have the production which is so necessary. The Government is the absolute mainspring of all this commercial expansion. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any Treasury official will ever be able to look to the banks in the future for that ready response which they have always been willing to give in the past. Therefore, with this £3,000,000,000 or £4,000,000,000 of unfunded debt, there is no chance of looking to the banks for anything like another £400,000,000 or £500,000,000. It is true we have to look to the rich. The rich are very willing to give what they possibly can, but these various issues which are being made day by day are offering enormous rates of interest—7 per cent. and 8 per cent.—and a very leading man told me the other day that within a very short time all ordinary stocks in first-class companies ought to pay at least 10 per sent. Another matter is that we have the great housing scheme before us, and we have £200,000,000 to find for that pretty soon. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that if the Government was going to allow the issue of Premium Bonds it would be taken up by outside authorities. So it would, and a very proper thing, too. You would have your large municipalities raising their money by the Premium Bond system. I am against those great prizes which are supposed to attract investors. I am more for the smaller matter altogether, and I hold to the principle of the scheme as mentioned in the Blue Book.
There is another matter that we have to face. The American exchange today is down to 4, the lowest it has ever been. For every £1,000,000 that you purchase from America, you have to give £120,000,000 to pay for it. Before the War it was quite different. I have not the figures of our imports from the United States during 1913, but no doubt they ran 115 into several hundred millions. If they amounted even to £500,000,000, that means that you have to pay an extra £100,000,000 now in order to pay for the goods. We have not got the goods to give them. How are you going to work it? Sir George Paish the other day calculated that we are running into debt with the United States at the rate of £500,000,000 a year, and Europe is running into debt with us at the rate of over £400,000,000 a year. There is something for and against, but there is still a difference of £100,000,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has given us his views, but I heard him say in 1915, when he was Secretary of State for India, "We must bring fresh minds to deal with fresh problems." This country is now up against a fresh problem, one which we have never had in the past, and one which I am only afraid may give us borne trouble in the future. I would ask, therefore, that he should launch out into some new scheme of providing money. His trouble is that he cannot issue another 5 per cent. loan at the same price of issue that he did before. I am not here to argue whether or not the last Loan issued was a success, but the fact remains that it did not get us all the money we, unfortunately, required at the time. I do not like to think of the idea that a loan has to be issued at an extravagant rate of interest. That would lower the credit of the country very much. I do not want to see that, but I do want to see some action—and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is guided by very wise heads—by the Treasury to make a loan pretty soon to fund a great deal of this debt, and to make the loan in such a way that it will not decrease the price of other loans which are now being floated on the various markets of the world. Every 1 per cent. fall in our securities brings down what we call gilt-edged securities, such as railway ay debenture stocks, Colonial securities, Government loans, etc. Therefore, we must not merely say, "There is a 1 per cent. fall in this or a 2 per cent. fall in the other War Stock." We have to realise that it means millions and tens of millions in the fall of other stocks also. We have to take great care when we do make an issue for the Government or for the Empire to make it on such terms that it will not cause a fall in other securities, otherwise what you get into the coffers of the State might be lost by private owners in the value of their securities owing to a fall.
116 I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has changed his mind. He mentioned that rich men are ready to come into a loan free of Income Tax and Supertax. That, of course, may be at the back of his mind, and he may be thinking of issuing a very low priced security, free of Income Tax and Super-tax. I gathered from him that he would get a large amount of money from rich sources, and by doing it at a low rate of interest he would maintain the credit of this country. I would beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer—he may be doing it now—that in a crisis like this it might be wise to call in a committee not only of directors of banks but of general managers of banks who so thoroughly understand banking from its very inception right away to the present time. If he had a committee of that description to advise him on many of these matters which must be causing him a great deal of anxiety, it would be good for him and for the country. I thank the House for listening to me so long.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has dealt with the gambling aspect of the matter. Therefore, I will confine my remarks to the financial aspect. I would ask the House for a little indulgence in that direction, because for many years it was my business to ascertain what sort of investment was most likely to appeal to the public, and at what sort of price the issue would go. Therefore, I claim to have had some experience. I would like to deal with a few things that were said by the hon. Member who has just sat down, and the hon. Member who moved the Motion (Mr. Bottomley). My hon. Friend (Sir E. Coates) has drawn a very gloomy picture as to the enormous amount of our unfunded debt, which, if my memory serves me right, he said stood at something like £3,300,000,000. He suggests that in order to put this right we should have an issue of Premium Bonds. Let the House consider for a moment what would be raised by Premium Bonds. The most favourable advocate of Premium Bonds has said that the amount that is likely to be obtained is £200,000,000. What is the use of attempting to raise a loan of £200,000,000 when you want £3,300,000,000. The hon. Member (Mr. Bottomley) stated that it was necessary to fund a large portion of the floating debt. With that I thoroughly agree. It is only with his methods that I disagree. He went on to 117 say that one argument for bringing out a Premium Bond issue was that we cannot raise money under 6½ per cent.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Where on earth could the hon. Member have got that from? It was a very unfortunate remark, because everybody knows that we shall have to raise money in some form or another. He knows perfectly well that if he has something to sell he does not go about and say it is worth very little. He would probably put a little higher value upon it than ordinary people would put upon it. To go about depreciating that which one has to- sell by saying we should have to pay 6½ per cent. or 7 per cent. for a new loan seems to me to be an unwise proceeding. The term "Premium Bonds" is a very vague thing, but the advocates of it have told us what they mean. The Motion does not coincide with the description of it in the speech of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Bottornley). The Motion says, "Redeemable at a fixed period, with compound interest." If I understand anything, that means that there will be no interest paid until the redemption period, and that then the interest will be paid plus compound interest. Is that what the hon. Member means?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member did not say so in his speech. He said there would be 2½ per cent. interest. I do not want to go into the question of Lord Cunliffe's view. So far as I have read the statement of Lord Cunliffe, he is opposed to Premium Bonds and not in favour of them. I will deal with the financial reasons which are very strongly against the issue of Premium Bonds. First of all, as we have to borrow a large sum of money we have to consider how we can keep up the national credit and not impair it. Would an issue of Premium Bonds impair the national credit? Supposing 1 or any other hon. Member had overspent our income, and that we had been obliged to go to our banker to borrow certain sums of money, and after we had done that two or three times the banker had said to us: "I think you have borrowed too much." Our course, surely, if we found ourselves in such a predicament, would be to reduce our expenditure, and to prove to our bankers that we were going to change our 118 ways and that it would be quite safe for them to lend us a certain amount of money. The very worst thing would be to go to a moneylender. That is what the hon. Member proposes the State should do. For over one hundred years we have been able to borrow money without adopting, Premium Bonds, and we are now in such a bad state that we are to have recourse to Premium Bonds. How on earth could that advantage the credit of the country in any kind of way?
My hon. Friend talks about America. I am old enough to have been in business shortly after the Civil War in America, and I remember that America borrowed money at 6 per cent., redeemable either in five years or twenty years at the option of America. A large proportion of that money was found in England. At that time England had no wars and was extremely rich. America, by cutting her coat according to her cloth—which is what we ought to do, although some of us sometimes forget to do it—succeeded in a very short time, with our assistance, in paying off her debt. Now the position is changed. We are the debtor country and America is the creditor country. My hon. Friend (Sir E. Coates) talks about exchange. How can we remedy the exchange? By getting money from America over here. Does anyone suppose that America is going to invest in Premium Bonds which do not pay any interest until the period of redemption, and on which the prizes are numerous and small? That does not appeal to the gambling instincts of America. What we ought to do is to so place our credit that America, having money to invest, will send the money over here. That puts the exchange right at once. We shall not do it by issuing Premium Bonds.
I am glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave some figures in regard to the manner in which loans are made successful. I have had a good deal of experience in loans, and I never knew a loan which was successful through the subscriptions of small investors. Everyone who has been interested in issuing loans will agree that in the long run the small investor is the making of a loan. A loan which is held by a large number of small investors is far more likely to retain its price and be stable in its flotation than a loan held by people who have taken it in order to sell again, and by large insurance companies. But the small investors' loan 119 requires time. Never have I known a loan to be made a success by the small investor. The success of a loan is always by the investments of the bankers, the insurance offices, trustees, and people of that sort, to whom a Premium Bond issue would not appeal. By Premium Bonds you cut out the trustees at once. No trustee could invest in something which is not going to pay any interest, and no banker could. Neither would any of the large insurance companies or companies of that sort invest in such an issue. Two hundred millions is the most sanguine calculation as to the amount that would be raised by Premium Bonds. I am not sure that somebody did not go to £250,000,000. It is all guesswork. I have made a, little calculation. I understand that small sums are contemplated by the Mover of the Motion. I believe I am right in saying that the population of the country is about 45,000,000, and it is generally calculated that live people compose a family. If you divide 45,000,000 by five, you arrive at a total of 9,000,000. Supposing every single family in this country put £10 into Premium Bonds, you would get £90,000,000.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Every year! Ninety millions. Multiplied into 3,300,000,000 would mean that it would take a good many years before you would get your £3,300,000,000. And are you certain that you would be continually getting this money? Having a loan of this sort every year would be as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. You would have to put an advertisement in the paper telling of the person who had been working in some manufactory, or possibly in a steel furnace, who by a lucky investment in the hon. Gentleman's bonds finds himself the possessor of a charming house with a garden, or perhaps even a small holding, as was indicated some years ago in the "Daily Mail." That is not finance. That is appealing to the get-rich-quickly spirit, which in my opinion is absolutely wrong. I see that in the Blue Book in the draft Report of the Chairman he says that it will take away from other investments. It certainly will do so. What advantage is to be gained by taking money from one investment and putting it into another? None whatever. Then it is said that some of this money is always going to France. How is the ordinary workman or the small 120 shopkeeper going to send money to France? He is not going to take the time or go to the trouble to send money to France.
Then it is asked, "What do you, who are opposed to Premium Bonds, suggest?" I ventured last August to make a suggestion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the method in which he should raise money. I am not quite certain whether my method would not appeal to a certain extent to the hon. Member for Hackney. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham that we are not going to have cheaper money in the future, though I do not think that we are going to have it quite so dear as he says; but I suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if he wanted to make a success of his loan, as I thought it necessary that he should, he should bring out a 4 per cent. loan at 80, redeemable at par, by annual drawings in forty years, the first drawing to commence next year. I believe that that would be a very attractive form of investment. It would attract the rich man and the banker, because they would get 5 per cent. for their money, with the prospect of getting 20 per cent. in forty years and the possibility of a draw in the meantime. It, would appeal to trustees, because they would get a good rate of interest, and it would appeal to everybody and would be a far better method than any bribes in the form of Premium Bonds. If we are to depart from the old way our departure should be limited to this extent, but I feel quite certain of two things. One is that the small investor does not make the success of a loan, so that even if this did appeal to the small investor it would not make a loan a success, and the second is that you would not get more than a £100,000,000 by Premium Bonds and you would let it be published abroad to the world that England is obliged to have recourse to a Premium Loan to get the money which is absolutely vital.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I listened with interest to the last speaker and also to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke somewhat critically against the get-rich-quickly feeling. I hope that when the question of considering a levy on owners of war fortunes comes to be decided he will carry that sentiment against the get-rich-quickly person into practical effect. I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer talking, almost with a sob in his voice, of the de- 121 preciation of British credit, expressing the fear of having to engage in a newspaper campaign, pointing out the gambling that was involved in Premium Bonds and referring to the kind of degradation that would be sure to follow in our national life. I almost felt as if he were telling the British people to be like the Pharisee of old who went up to the Temple to pray, and that he smote his breast and told us to thank God that we were not like the people of other nations. Now, if we were not as other nations, if there was no gambling in this country, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been very well advised and would have been perfectly right to take up that position; but surely he lives in another world from the ordinary wicked world of this country, or he would know that we are, after all, about the most gambling country in the world. I say advisedly that there is no country that maintains such enormous racing establishments with thousands and thousands of men who go to bet on racecourses and other thousands of men who are employed to keep up the whole paraphernalia of horse racing, which is almost entirely founded upon betting.
The betting that goes on on horse racing is a tremendous evil and permeates every rank of society down to the humblest walks in life. There is not a public work or a coal mine or any big concern to be found up and down this country in which you will not find that the bookmaker has got an entry, it may be through some man in that particular place, or through some outside person. The prevalence of gambling is simply colossal. It extends not only to horse racing but also to card playing. Tremendous gambling goes on in cards, which is one of the silliest possible forms of human amusement. It is known historically that playing cards were designed for the amusement of an insane king. The gambling that goes on is simply colossal, both in the big clubs of London, and in many other places, and if you step in there you will find men, intelligent men, wasting the precious junctions between the Eternities, night after night, in playing cards, and the only possible excuse that ever I could see for card-playing is that when the company is intolerably dull you, in this way, get rid of them by reducing the whole company to a common level of imbecility. And so it goes on and vast sums change hands. Then in football matches and in every conceivable form of sport in this country you 122 get a colossal amount of gambling, raging like small-pox or typhoid up and down the country and wasting the savings of the working classes and of all classes.
Now with regard to Premium Bonds. We know the so-called gambling aspect of it. We know what medical science does in cases of typhoid and small-pox. It inoculates the patients with a little of the virus, which protects them against the more deadly disease. Therefore, I, a most convinced anti-gambler, with a total ignorance of the Turf—I do not even know the phraseology; if you ask me what "two to one on the field" meant I should not be able to tell you, I cannot understand why so many intelligent people take an interest in and waste their time over these very unintelligent adventures—say this. I want to divert attention from these evil forms of gambling. I want to-divert the surplus money of the people from these foolish adventures. I want to make all classes of the people, especially the working classes who have money to spare, put their money into national investments, because these people bet as a diversion from the perpetual dui-Mess of their ordinary life. After all, how many of the Gentlemen who get up here and talk about the condition of the working classes have had any experience of hard work for weeks and months, and have known what it was to go on day after day, always doing the same thing and always coming home exhausted. It is not the steady working man, who is married and has a family, who bets, because it takes all his wages to support his family and keep a roof over their heads; but the young unmarried man who is working steadily, has a considerable surplus income, and we want to get at him by this process of inoculation and to direct him into this path of saving his money, and, therefore, from the highest moral reasons and on the analogy of medical science, I advocate Premium Bonds, though not in the particular form of the proposal now made.
There are very few men here who know of the psychology of the working man. The working man, for instance, does not believe in interest. He thinks that it is a mean and shabby thing when you lend money to take interest for it. He thinks that interest is a shabby, Semitic invention, and therefore you are not going to appeal to, him and make it seem more desirable to him by offering him this interest. You are going to make it more difficult. The right hon. Member for the City of London 123 has spoken with contempt of the sum of £200,000,000, which reminds me very much of the picture in one of the illustrated papers, long ago, of a seedy gentleman who said, "What is a million pounds? A mere trifle:" Two hundred million pounds is a very large sum, and will go a long way towards filling up some of the gaps. Can you imagine the effect that it would have if we could interest all our wage-earners, and induce them, say, for the purpose of building houses, or something of the kind, for some particular ear-marked enterprise, to invest their money in some form of assistance to the Government which would bring in a speculative interest? Can you imagine the effect it would have on production if you could tell the common workers who would make up the £200,000,000, "The guarantee of the wealth of the nation and of your money is to make an increase in production, and by this you will get more prosperity for the State and render your security all the better." That is where an immense amount would be gained. It is not only the direct gain, but the indirect moral gain, the stimulus to the worker. We make a mistake with our working class in this country in that we do not give the working man any engagement for his idle time; he has no outlet for his savings. He is not like the working man in France, where, in addition to being workmen, they are all to some extent small cultivators. Money, after all, is a metaphysical abstraction. The Scotch are always said to have a better idea of the value of money than others. That is because they are a metaphysical race. The English are not. The English are the most practical race in the world. To realise this abstraction of money is more than the average man is able to achieve, and when he gets money he immediately wants to translate it into some concrete object. What have we to offer the working man? Nothing at all—that is to say, nothing but the bookmaker or the publican, and latterly the picture-house. I am told that most of the dock labourers at Marseilles have not only town houses, but small country houses, where they work during the time they are not employed at the docks.
I will refer to the clerical position. I have received a great number of protests from Nonconformist clergy. I wish they could direct their attention to the wealthy 'classes and their different forms of specu- 124 lation—the get-rich-quick speculations. We have been told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and by others that steady industry is the only way to get rich. Most of those who are rich in this country, we know, did not get their money by steady industry; they made it by speculating. I think attention ought to be directed to them. It is of importance to give the worker a chance to make a little without incurring the risks which he at present incurs. The Nonconformist clergy are a very earnest body of men, and they think very much about these matters, but they very nearly always think upside down. They have treated this question in the same way as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They have not realised that we have an enormous evil of gambling in this country to combat. The evil is there. The true course for us to adopt is to take possession of that evil instinct, if it be evil—and I think it is—and to guide it into proper channels and to render it as innocuous as possible. I do not think we have had much guidance from the bishops. I think some of them have spoken about it. I do not pay any great attention to what they say, because we know very well that the advice they gave to the country during the War was very misguided and they are probably as misguided in this matter. I believe that we should in some way or other saddle or harness this instinct in men's nature, and take possession for the benefit of the State of all this loose money that now goes flying about in keeping up so much of all the gambling paraphernalia of the country. Above all, I with to guide all classes of the community, and especially the working classes, into saving habits and thrifty habits, and to get them a stake in the country, so that they will he united and helpful and have a solid and continued interest in the nation's prosperity and wealth. I believe that if we could have some system which would carry the hope that by some turn fortune would come, and if we made use of that system, it could be used for the great moral and political uplifting of the people.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
This subject has already been discussed in speeches of great ability, especially those delivered in opposition to the proposal by my right hon Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Member for the City of London (Sir T. Banbury). There is one thing which the Chancellor of the 125 Exchequer did not say and could not say, which I think ought to be said, and that is an expression of regret that the Government should, in dealing with national finance, for the second time have left an important question to the decision of the House of Commons. There are many things that could with great propriety be left to the decision of the House of Commons, but national finance is not one of them, because national finance is a whole and you cannot decide any financial question without affecting the whole financial situation of the country. For the Government to say, "We will, without making our existence depend upon it, allow the House of Commons to settle this or that financial question in any way it pleases," really is to abdicate that control which the Government ought to exercise over finance. If it is continued, it will become a most demoralising element in public life, because there is nothing on which a popularly elected assembly requires guidance more than in dealing with financial questions. At every turn there are the private self-interests of great bodies or the private self-interests of a few influential and wealthy men, and there is nothing more dangerous to our public life than that it should become the custom to submit controversial financial questions to the unguided judgment of the House. I believe it is inconsistent with the Constitution, which provides that the Crown shall propose and the House of Commons shall assent or dissent. That rule is not an archaic rule; it is founded upon sensible, businesslike management of finance, because without it you cannot treat the problem of expenditure and revenue as, one connected whole.
This is a proposal that the Government should borrow money by a combined appeal to the investing instinct and the gambling instinct, I am sure it will never succeed. In so far as people are investors they are not gamblers; in so far as they are gamblers they are not investors. It is true that there are certain speculative investments, but to the speculative investor those investments will be incomparably more attractive than Premium bonds. You will never stand the smallest chance in competing against the regular speculative investment. Suppose you merely put this forward as an investment, reasoning on grounds of thrift and foresight and the like. Then your investment is a very bad one. One hon. Member has described it as bearing 2½ per cent. interest, and 126 another as producing nothing whatever. The sort of man who gives money to the Government is the sort of man who values security. He will not look at an investment of this kind. It offers him much less than he could get from an equally secure Govern-merit proposal. On the other hand, you shrink yourself from running it as a great gambling appeal. You are not going to paint the streets with incitements to the gaming instinct. In so far as your appeal is an appeal to gaining it will be a moral disaster; in so far as it is an appeal to investment it will be a financial failure. That is the difficulty out of which the proposers of this Motion have to get. A good deal has been said about the moral question. I quite agree that it would be absurd to say that risking money for chance is in itself an immoral thing. I do not think that in itself it is in the least immoral. The casual bet or playing cards for money, or other temporary means of risking money, are not in themselves immoral. Whence, then, comes the vice of gambling? It comes when a certain instinct is excited so strongly as to be uncontrollable. Then a man becomes an abandoned gambler and takes to dishonesty. What is the instinct which is so stimulated? It is the instinct of getting rich by luck—of making money; not, as is supposed, the danger of losing money. It is not demoralising to lose money nor to be afraid of losing it. What is demoralising is to desire to get money by luck or chance. That stimulates the instinct of greed. All the pleasures of human nature are stimulated by one great instinct or another, and the result of gaming is to stimulate the instinct of greed.
If you do this a certain number of people will no doubt become gamblers. Will it not be so with almost everyone who invests in Premium Bonds? They are to be induced to come into this particular sort of investment by the hope of a prize. That stimulation of hope is the very infection of which we have to be afraid. The moment a person begins to hope that somehow or other he is going to be made rich, he is on the path to get under the influence of this strong passion. Every one who invests in Premium Bonds will hope to get rich by chance. It will fail the great majority of them. But it is the nature of this instinct that, once stimulated, it is not satisfied by failure, but tries again and again. If not Premium Bonds, it will be something else, and step by step you will stimulate the gambling instinct. It is not a matter of theory. It 127 is the greatest delusion to suppose that the lotteries were demoralising because the people lost their money; it was because they appealed to the instinct of getting rich by the operation of chance. And so you would set in motion this demoralising machine. The hon. Gentleman apposite said that we had a great deal of this gambling and so did the last speaker, and they gave a variety of illustrations. You have a great deal of appeal to a vague sort of hope, and it has had a very demoralising and unrestful influence on the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not give by way of illustration, as he might have done, the mischievous effect of the hope of getting great benefits without much exertion and the demoralising influence of much recent political speaking in the country. There has been a great deal of hope held out, and a great many people have been incited to expect that somehow or other they would be very much better off than they were before. The consequence has been a large amount of unrest, and you will have more unrest if you go on appealing to the same demoralising instinct. There is only one way in which we can improve the financial position of the country, and that is by thrift. My hon. Friend behind spoke of guiding the gambling instinct into safe channels. How far is he going to guide demoralising instincts into safe channels? Are we to have publications organised by the Government appealing to instincts of indecency which also are very remunerative, and how far are you going to guide those? That raises a wide moral question, and my hon. Friend shrinks from the proposition that you are entitled to appeal to low instincts in order to make money for the Government. You cannot encourage thrift by encouraging gambling. We must pursue thrift by precept and by example, and by studying every possible economy in the management of national finance, in which the Government have been so liberal in exhortation and not so liberal in performance of what they desire to see
§ Lieut.-Colonel WILLEY
The Noble Lord who has just spoken made the statement that an investor is not a speculator, and that a speculator is not an investor, but I think any examination of the motives behind those who invest money in different issues would show that very often there is the desire on the part of those who invest to enrich themselves, whether 128 the investments be Government or otherwise. The enormous number of issues, which anybody who reads the Press can see at the present moment, must be admitted in a large number to involve a considerable degree of speculation. That shows that there is available in the country a large amount of money which, if it were drawn by a sufficiently attractive prospect of gain, could be made available to assist the State, instead of being, as at present, used for developing what are admittedly in some cases questionable undertakings, or which lead to the expenditure of that money on extravagances which are only contributing to the general increase of the cost of living. The statement that an investor is not a speculator and a speculator is not an investor, certainly does not tally with the experience of those who are associated with any of the large banking institutions in the City. In my own position, as a director of one of the financial institutions of the City, one has had an opportunity of seeing what have been the amounts of money subscribed during the War with the assistance of the banks towards the existing War Loans, and they do not bear out the statement that speculators are not investors or investors are not speculators. To suppose that money is not going to be invested if it carries with it a large element of speculation will strike at the very root of the whole of our commercial success in the past. Is it not the fact that British trade, which has been carried to distant parts of the world, depended entirely on the gambling spirit which exists in our country? Is it not inevitable that if you try to restrict the return on money to the drab minimum percentage which the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds it necessary to pay in order to raise money for the State that you strike fundamentally at the spirit which develops our British trade, and which alone can bring the employment which we want, and which alone can develop the trade which the President of the Board of Trade is urging on big employers to attempt to develop in every way?
If you permit a large return to the man who is possessed of great wealth, why should not some similar opportunity be presented to the man who has only a small amount of money? In the case of the working man it is not possible to deny the fact that the question of interest does-not appeal to him, since it is a relatively small amount. I maintain, if it were made 129 possible for such a man to put aside in some obligation of the State the amount of money which, at the present moment, he spends on luxuries of various kinds, it would be doing him a good turn, leaving aside the moral aspect of the question. We have had it explained to us that, for the last hundred years, it has been the settled policy of the Government to avoid raising money on what is called this immoral basis; but let us remember there is at the present moment in this country a very largely increased amount of money available for investment which did not exist before, because the margin of wages earned over and above what is required by the average working man to meet his weekly budget is so much bigger than ever before in the case of millions, and which, up to the time of the War, was not available because the margin was so small. We are told that the amount likely to be raised in this way would be so small that it would not be worth departing from our traditional system of refraining from entering upon so novel a system as is now proposed. It is all a question of degree. I submit if the amount of money was only from £50,000,000 to £100,000,000, such an insignificant amount according to some of the speakers, yet surely it is an amount which is worth having, and let us remember it is not £50,000,000 to £100,000,000 once only, but annually. Would it not be all to the good to bring into the service of the State those millions from the small investor which, at the present moment, are dissipated in various ways? In June of last year there was an issue of Government obligations at eighty-five carrying with them a certain privilege which rendered their quotation higher than the issue price in the market, and that was because of the privilege which was attached to them.
Successive Chancellors of the Exchequer have given a promise that no higher rate of interest would be paid, but only a few weeks ago in the United States there was a loan for 250,000,000 dollars which intrudes upon the principle that no higher rate of interest would necessarily be paid since ten-year obligations yield the investor 6 per cent., and three-year obligations 6½ per cent. It would seem then as if there is a question of degree as to the extent to which departure is to be made from the settled and traditional principle's followed in the raising of Loans. There is another aspect to which I think attention might well be drawn, and that 130 is the assistance given by large employers of labour, particularly in northern towns, towards obtaining subscriptions for Government Loans, such as that of last year. Additional success came to those Loans because, in many towns wealthy men added to their own example of taking Loans additional inducements, such as one certificate for every twenty taken, or for every twenty subscriptions. That unquestionably succeeded in adding substantial amounts of money, and really on a lottery basis. Should we not take further advantage of the experience which employers gained in connection with those Loans? Many employers made the offer to their employés that if money were subscribed to the Loan, they would find that at first free of interest for at least one year. They hoped that in that way it would be taken up in small amounts out of the wages of their workers, but that did not prove sufficiently attractive to get substantial amounts of money. Unquestionably if some inducement in the form of a prospect of a prize were added, it would bring in money that otherwise would not be got. Throughout the Debate reference has been made to the fact that in ourselves adopting this principle of a Premium Investment Bond we should be following the example of other countries whose finance was less stable than our own, and we should be surrendering a unique position, I believe, in Europe in not from the point of view of the Government recognising this system as one for raising money. It is hard to understand why, under the novel conditions of the present moment, we should resolutely set our faces against following the example of so many other countries. It has succeeded there, and has not reduced the degree of thrift, in particular in the case of France. The gambling spirit exists in. this country. We are a sporting race, and nobody can shut their eyes to the fact—horse-racing has been referred to—that the attendance at all the race meetings throughout the country is greater after the War than it ever was before. Money is hazarded daily in every kind of gamble. Cards are played in every class of society, in every club, no matter what degree. Go down to the working men's clubs in the poorest district of each city, and you will find cards played there as much in proportion as in the wealthier districts. Money is hazarded the whole time, and to presume to suggest that the bringing into the service of the State of money that is 131 otherwise hazarded and lost entirely is going to reduce the moral standing of the people is surely something which is quite contrary to the exact facts. Therefore, in conclusion, I would urge that the money which might be obtainable from the small investor by the offering of these Premium Investment Bonds is one, even though small in amount, which should not be cast aside, and that the question of the degree of harm which might be done by developing a spirit of quick increase of possessions is not one which outweighs the advantage which would come to the State from getting hold of this money for the service of the State.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I should like, first of all, to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down upon what I think is his first speech in the House, which, in my opinion, and, I am sure, in the opinion of the House, was as well argued as it was well delivered. I do not quite agree—as a Devonian he could not expect me to—with his comparison of persons who invest in Premium Bonds with those merchant adventurers who in Elizabethan days sailed from Plymouth or Barnstaple to explore the world. But I hope to be able to cross a lance with the hon. Member for the Springburn Division of Glasgow (Mr. Macquisten), who I regret is not now in his place, and whose arguments, I think, impressed the House. He talked about a necessity, which we all feel, of something really interesting, really stimulating, really improving, perhaps, to occupy the leisure time of the working man. He is not going to find it in Premium Bonds. I have listened to all this Debate, and the proposal I have heard is merely that these drawings of prizes should occur once a year, and, if that is so, there is not going to be anything which is going to occupy pleasurably and improvingly the leisure time of the working man, so I think we may dismiss that. The hon. Member's chief argument was that you were going, by starting a system of Premium Bonds, to discourage ordinary gambling in horse-racing, or football matches, or anything of that kind as we know it now. I think he was giving rein to his fancy, or, as he would have put it, to his metaphysics, rather than to his better judgment, in arguing in that way, and I think I can prove it. Anybody who will consult hon. Members who sit for racing centres, like Newmarket, and so on, will hear that they have been inundated from those places 132 with requests to back up the proposal for Premium Bonds. Those are very shrewd men, the big racing fraternity, and it does not look as if they thought the Government issue was going to interfere with their source of living if they are all asking Members to vote in favour of this proposal. I think, on the contrary, that what would seem to millions of people in this country as State approval of gambling will give a boost to gambling in every other form from one end of the country to the other, and surely if that is true this also is true. If hon. Members will again consult those who are in close touch with the betting fraternity on horse races, they will hear that the bookmakers are very anxious to get the Government to impose a licence fee on bookmakers. They say it would bring in a lot of money—the bookmaker would pay twenty, or forty, or fifty guineas for his licence every year, and the money would go to the State. Why are bookmakers anxious for that which, of course, means money out of their pockets? For the simple reason that they will be able to say that their profession is licensed by the State, that they are licensed bookmakers, and that it is a profession which has State support, and therefore it will increase the gains which they make in flat profession.
After these criticisms, I am going to make one point only, because the speeches in the Debate so far have averaged about half an hour in length, and mine is only going to be one of ten minutes. I will speak of one thing on which I have direct evidence. My own Constituency happens to be apparently not unduly interested in political questions. I have represented it for nine years now, and have only during the whole of that time—I have kept a careful record—received two letters on political questions from any single one of my Constituents. I have received many, of course, on personal matters in which they were personally interested, like release from the Army, or on financial matters, in which they hoped I should be pecuniarily interested, but on purely political matters only two, and the best of those was a very intelligent letter, which was unfortunately dated from the Bodmin Lunatic Asylum. But recently my Constituency has burst into political interest, and I have been deluged with letters on this question of Premium Bonds, all of them against it. That was such a remarkable exhibition of sudden political interest that I tried to 133 inquire into what it might mean. Nonconformity is strong there, it is true, and it may be that the work of the churches has had some influence on the feelings of my Constituents, but whatever you may say about this scheme of Premium Bonds being really not gambling, this sort of people—and there are hundreds and thousands of them all over the country—will continue to believe that it is gambling, and no argument whatever will affect that. They will consider it morally wrong, and they will, if it is started, believe that by starting it the State is identifying itself with something that is morally wrong.
These people have some influence in the country. Not only are they responsible for their own personal investments, but they have some influence in investments that may be made through banks, insurance companies, building societies, and many forms of business, and I want to ask the House to consider what will be the indirect effect of a great section of the people getting to believe that the Government is doing something morally unjustifiable, from the point of view of investment in other Loans that may be issued. It is a practical question. No one who has argued in favour of Premium Bonds denies that the Government will want more money; however great the success of Premium Bonds might be; there will have to be other Loans, and nobody disbelieves that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, therefore, will find it one of the most important things to keep the great bulk of the community behind him and supporting him in any issue of any other Loan that he may have to make from time to time during the years that are before us. I have made some inquiry from these persons who have written to me, and these people who do regard Premium Bonds with moral disapproval will tincture the whole of the work of the Government in asking the people of this country to subscribe to a Loan with the same sort of moral disapproval with which they regard Premium Bonds. It is quite natural. They will say when people are asking them to subscribe to other issues, "These are the people who in our opinion brought disgrace on the community by adopting an issue of Premium Bonds; let us have nothing to do with them." Or they will say, "They only appeal to us for this new Loan because the issue of Premium Bonds has been unsatisfactory; let us leave it alone." I believe that argument is really of importance. The only point I want to 134 make is this, that Loans depend for their success on the goodwill of the vast majority of the people, and to have the Loan-raising part of the Government, the Treasury and the Exchequer, identified in any way with anything which a great section of the people regard as morally wrong must have this indirect effect when other appeals are made in other directions.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I am very glad to find the Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees with me. The direct effect of the refusal of these people themselves to subscribe to Premium Bonds will be small, but the indirect effect in discouraging people of that kind from investing in other loans, I believe, will be very great indeed. One other point only. Has anyone been able to quote a single association of women as being in favour of this issue of Premium Bonds? The housekeepers of the nation—I believe we have not really thought sufficiently of how they are interested in this matter. If a man puts aside, as very likely some will do, 6d. or 1s. a week in order to save the money necessary to put into Premium Bonds, whose money will it be? Not his own, that he spends on tobacco or in drink, but the wife's, that he hands over for housekeeping. I believe that to be a true argument.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir P. SASSOON
I will not detain the House more than a very few minutes, because there have been so many excellent speeches to-night on both sides of the question, but I would like to say that, although the arguments that have been adduced against this new Resolution have been very weighty, I do not think that on all points they are really quite convincing. From a financial point of view we have been told that the money to be got out of it is not sufficient, and that if we get £100,000,000 we shall be very lucky. I think that is a very good sum if we can get that, but no one, so far as I can make out, if I may say so with great diffidence, really seems to know what we will get. Another point which has been urged in this House to-night, and also in the country, against this proposal, is that it is an immoral thing. I cannot see exactly why it is so. Every day quite moral and respectable people are investing their money in stocks and shares in the hope that, if their investments turn out all right, they will have a very considerable 135 increase in their capital when they get it back again. They invest in every sort of new company. They hope for the best. The worst that may happen to them is the loss of their whole capital put in. Yet this is a moral proceeding which is tolerated—in fact, indulged in—by a great many of the most puritanically-minded people. In what way does it differ from the proposal before the House now? So far as I can make out, the only difference is that in this case your capital is safe and the dividends are assured, while in the other case you may lose your money, or win some if you are lucky. Why is it immoral to lend money to the State for a certain period of years at a certain rate of interest on the chance of getting it back in a few years with a substantial premium? Why is this immoral and it is not immoral to lend money to a gold-mining or other company, or any form of new company, where you run the risk of not getting anything at all in the end? if the argument is that by investing money in a company you are encouraging industry and enterprise, how much stronger then is the case for Premium Bonds! Your commercial undertaking may be a success, or it may not, but the practical effect upon the prosperity of the community is small and indirect, while in this proposal every penny invested goes directly to the financial stability of the Empire.
The more closely one analyses the objections to this proposal the more difficult is it to understand them. This is fundamentally different from a lottery. It has nothing to do with a lottery, and yet those people who are most violently opposed to lotteries seem most devoted to all those forms of raffles and bran-pies, and the many devices that are regarded as aids to charity. No, this is in no sense of the word a lottery. It is, if somewhat novel, a sound and. substantial investment. I do not agree with the last speaker that housewives will not care a bit; I think they will welcome Premium Bonds, because they will help them and be an incentive to thrift. A lot has been said about gambling. When I think of all the interest which is taken by all sections of the community in betting on horses to-day, and the popularity of every sort and shade of gambling that permeated almost all ranks of our victorious Army, I come to the conclusion that the stamina and common sense of this country may well stand the shock of being invited by an 136 otherwise respectable Government to invest in Premium Bonds. The nation is overburdened with debt, and yet there is a large section of the population which is getting to-day far more money than it ever thought to get five years ago. Those people are, to a great extent, spending their money as they get it. A great deal of that money is running to waste. In this scheme, I maintain, the State will have an opportunity of helping these people, and a vast quantity of money which is now running to waste will be saved to the State at great benefit to the individual The scheme—I have not studied it very carefully, and I suppose the machinery might be altered to a very great extent—seems to me simplicity itself. It seems to me a just and workable scheme, and yet there are people in all parts of the country, I suppose, who raise their hands in horror at this proposal, and at the heinous sin of betting on horses, while a large revenue from the sale of playing cards is obtained by the Government, and quite respectable people in an irreproachable profession will continue year after year to throw away a guinea on a club sweepstake. Therefore, I can see no harm except to the bookmaker and the card-sharper, as this will give their victims an opportunity of disposing, in a very profitable way, of their superfluous cash. Therefore, I think the opposition to this Bill is allowing prejudice to stand in the way of one of the few sound suggestions made towards alleviating the financial position.
§ Mr. LYNN
Unlike the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Acland), I do not happen to have a lunatic asylum in my Constituency, but for once extremes meet, and I can join with him in opposing Premium Bonds. We have been making history in this House to-day. I fancy the historian of the future will record the fact that to-day a gleam of sunshine has been allowed to enter this sombre Chamber, and I hope he will be able to add that it has had a sweetening, an elevating, and an ennobling influence on this House. I am interested, as a journalist, in noting that something even more important has happened, for I believe that even in the most conservative of places, namely, the Press Gallery, they have broken traditions, and for the first time, I believe, ladies have been introduced into the Press Gallery. That is not the only event that will go down to history, because in a section of the Press which keeps a close watch on 137 the Treasury Bench I am told a new Hercules has appeared to clear the Government stables, where Ministers have been wallowing in waste for some time. He is not coming like the old Hercules with two rivers at his command, but with a paper, one in each hand, and woe betide the unfortunate Minister who stands in his way and goes in for anything like waste. On a day like this, when we have put youth at the helm and beauty at the prow—I would like to see them reversed—I hope we are not going to take a retrograde step and go back to Premium Bonds, lotteries, or anything of that sort. The last speaker has spoken rather sneeringly of the puritanical spirit which I am glad to represent. So far as puritanism is concerned, it has really been responsible for making Britain great, and Britain will only remain great so long as the puritanical spirit remains alive in its midst. Therefore, I for one do not mind in the slightest sneers at puritanism so long as puritanism exists. Then we, who are opposed to Premium Bonds, are told we are no sports. I would like to know what a sport is. Is it a man who bets on a race-course, but cannot tell the difference between a race-horse and a Clydesdale or a Suffolk pony; or is it a man who pays a large sum of money to go to a prize fight, and probably puts a bit on one of the contestants and yet runs under the table if his mother-in-law puts up her hand? I think the people who are killing sport in this country are the people who are indulging in betting, and therefore I say that really those of us who are opposed to gambling in every form—and I am—are not the enemies, but the real friends of true sport, because sport really does not need betting. Premium Bonds are either a gamble or they are not a gamble. If they are a gamble, then I for one say that they are morally wrong. If they are not a gamble, then they are not going to attract the people whom the friends of Premium Bonds say they are. I say the State has no right whatever to throw the cloak of respectability over gambling in any shape or form. Gambling, in my judgment, is morally wrong, and therefore should not be countenanced!by this House. Apart from the moral question altogether, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown us from a financial point of view that this thing would be wrong. The Committee that has investigated it has shown that a very small sum would be got. Therefore, why should we 138 reverse the policy of over a hundred years ago and go in for Premium Bonds? I hope this House will not take such a retrograde step, and I for one will certainly vote against the Motion.
§ Mr. BILLING
The hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has, I am sure, impressed this House very considerably that any form of gambling or any form of buying for a rise is most immoral. I would like to ask him whether ho, in the whole course of his career, has ever bought any shares in any company?
§ Mr. BILLING
I am afraid there has been a great deal of cant in this House to-day. There may be exceptions which generally prove rules, but, taking the House generally, I do not think there is an hon. Member here who has not at some time indulged in some form or game of chance.
§ Mr. BILLING
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made one very strong point against Premium Bonds, and drew a most extraordinary and dramatic picture of a poor little man with £30 or £40, intending to establish himself in a one-man business, suddenly led astray by what the right hon. Gentleman describes as a bad and pernicious form of gambling. Before we go into the Lobby to-night, do let us clear our minds of cant! Let us not be influenced in any way by the various telegrams and letters that have been sent to us. I have the honour to represent some 30,000 or 40,000 electors. I have received thirty or forty telegrams and letters. That only represents one in a thousand. Even if I were perturbed about the matter I would give these representations no more weight than that they represent—one to every 1,000 electors. I was returned to the House to use the intelligence with which the Lord has endowed me—along with other Members—for the good of the community. I have listened to this Debate, and I propose to go into the Lobby in favour of Premium 139 Bonds. I will tell hon. Members why. I have asked questions on this matter; but I approach this Debate with a perfectly open mind, With a perfectly open mind I can go into the Lobby to support the Resolution. It is not because I am so desirous of seeing small sums of money collected in this country that I do so. There is undoubtedly in this world today money. It is because I am desirous of seeing these small sums from all over the world brought to this country at 4 per cent, interest that I am going to vote as I propose to do. If by municipal lottery bonds France can raise £500,000,000, it is perfectly preposterous to say that we in this country, in all the circumstances of the case and in view of our financial standing, cannot do equally well. I am sure we can.
But what I want to say is that in view of the strong feeling with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken it would be difficult to trust him to take charge of this matter; he has spoken so adversely. Perhaps the better plan would be to wait until we have a Chancellor heartily with us before we risk an issue. If it is brought in in a broad-minded and generous spirit all the floating money all over the world will come into a Premium Bonds issue. British credit stands to-day as high as ever. It is not only French people who love a gamble. There is the whole wealth of India which can be tapped. There is the wealth of Australia, of Canada, of America. There is the wealth of France. There is the wealth of the whole world. There is the small investor whom the hanker and insurance company are trying to frighten The millionaire is no use to the banker or the insurance company. Hon. Members may smile, but is not this so? Ask any banker whether the millionaire is of any real use to him? The real people out of whom business is made is, the small city and prudent investor—people with £50 to £100. The managers of banks, who before they get their appointments have to be very good judges of human nature, know quite well, according to their accounts, the type of money that is perfectly safe. Bankers as a whole are opposed to Premium Bonds, and assuredly all these small and pernicious insurance companies are, and I say pernicious insurance companies, who are gambling with the small moneys of the poorer people. They are opposed to this. 140 That is why I want to see labour supporting this proposal. What finer investment can you put before a workman who has £20 or £30 to spare? You say to him, "You shall have a chance of doing a little bit better."
§ Mr. BILLING
An honest chance. I assume the Government will draw honestly. We are safe in recommending that the money of the working men should he placed with the Government for a lottery—if you call it a lottery—than that it should be placed with any bookmaker or used in other forms of gambling. We heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggesting that if the Government granted this issue of lottery bonds that men in the street would be able to form lotteries. What absolute nonsense! This House gives the Government, as I trust it will, a mandate to issue lottery bonds in the interests of the State as distinct from the interests of the individual or any group of individuals that such money as is floating about the world, and the thousands who are owners of these small sums, will, as has been suggested a dozen times this afternoon, while not attracted by 4 or 5 per cent. would be attracted by an investment with State security, and certain return in twenty years, with the problematic chance of their ship coming home in the meantime. I think this is a very sound proposition. I know a great deal has been said against it, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after all is said and done, has not put forward any new view, but has laboured the old ones. Why have the Government this afternoon, while taking off the Whips, put up their "star" turn to damn the Bill, and have strongly advised the House to have nothing to do with it? Personally, I think it is not a fair issue.
When the Government announced their intention to take off the Whips and leave the matter to the free decision of the House they might have refrained from putting up their financial "star" turn to lead the House by the nose into the Lobby. On the other hand, it might be asked how was the £6,000,000,000 raised? It was not raised by appealing to the small investor, but by holding a pistol at the heads of the bankers. If there is one thing I have generally advocated, not only in this House, but for twenty years previously, it has been to see that the money of the small man was invested in 141 State securities. I am absolutely confident that if every working man in this country had £10, £20, £30, £40, or £50 invested in State securities, it would prove to be the greatest of stabilisers. I have said so many times—I repeat it—for industrial unrest, and every form of unrest. Here is the opportunity to make the appeal. Why should we not take it? People stand up and say it is immoral that a man should stand a chance of a small percentage of interest on his capital, and the rest of it. As the hon. Gentleman on the opposite side has said, the Government is making a big income out of selling playing-cards for card-sharpers to ply their trade, while they are squirming in horror at the idea of giving back a small percentage of the interest, not the capital, as an incentive to the small man to have an interest in the financial market—as an encouragement to put his money into a State Loan. I suggest that if the vote had been taken without debate the day the Leader of the House suggested, not three weeks ago, in reply to a question, that he would leave the matter to the unfettered views of the House—had we, I say, divided at the end of Questions on this issue of Premium Bonds, we would have flooded the House. What has happened in the last three weeks is that a steady campaign has been organised by the big financial interests who fear this proposal. A good deal of steady work has been going on to influence the opinion of Members of this House. Premium Bonds will be bound to hit the City. Despite the suggestions which have been made, there are a lot of small people, even curates, who gaily invest in City promotions, who would prefer the Government security and the possibility of a capital sum which would allow them to enjoy a few more of the amenities of life. It will also hit the insurance companies and the bankers, and those are the three classes I would sooner see hit than any other class. No doubt there are many millions of pounds in this country ready for investment in the first premium issue in whatever country brings it about. If France brings it out first we shall see our money going there, and perhaps into German Lottery Loans. We shall see various lotteries in Holland and other countries which will all be drawing money from this country.
Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer denounces with all his strength this proposal, he did not say it was the 142 policy of the Government to stop money going from this country to Holland or to France. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that, not only would the Government not have Premium Bonds here, but they would also stop British money going abroad, I should have had more faith in his general conclusion. There is no doubt that the only reason that can be possibly adduced against the Lottery Bond issue in this country is based on the principle that it is not done, and that it is not the correct thing for the Government to do, because the puritanical mind does not approve of it. It is time we cleared our minds of all these ideas, and simply remembered the fact that France has raised £5,000,000,000. Is our credit less than that of France? Is there is any reason for us to believe that there is not floating about the world a vast sum of money which is ready for investment in any scheme which has a speculative side for the small investor. Is France or Germany going to have it, or are we going to have it? In the interests of this country, all things considered, when we consider our own financial status, the Bank Rate, and the position of our other Government securities, I say that we are doing a wrong to this country, if, for fear of opposition on the hustings or the receipt of a few hundred telegrams or letters, we refuse to do what we honestly believe to be the best thing in the interests of the country. The Government have left it for the House to decide in the Lobby, and I say let us leave it to the people, and if it is a success it will be justified, whereas if it is a failure no harm will be done.
§ Mr. ALFRED LAW
I have listened with unbroken attention to the Mover of this Resolution and to the speeches of those who followed him, and I must say that the case they have tried to make out for issuing Premium Bonds is the poorest case I have ever heard in this House. The speeches which have been made appeal to the cupidity of the people rather than to their economic instincts. During the War there was a propaganda canvassing people to put their money into War Loans, and that propaganda met with a great amount of satisfaction. Even since the Armistice the growth of small investments is very significant. One would have thought that when Peace was declared these small investments in the Post Office and in War Saving Certificates would have declined. 143 But, instead of that, the monthly amount has gone up from £8,000,000 to £9,000,000. I think that has proved that the Government were right in taking the ordinary method of appealing to public patriotism to support Government Loans.
During the War a great wave of patriotism swept over the whole Empire, and the fear of losing the War was overcome by the determination of the people in one voice. In the same way we ought now to lace our financial embarrassment, and I do not despair of the country being able to meet that embarrassment not by opening the door wider, but rather by encouraging thrift and economy. I am strongly opposed to this mode of investment. I would like to support what the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has suggested in the shape of the issue of a 4 per cent. Loan payable in forty years. The country has been accustomed to Loans of that character, and such a Loan would attract a great number of honest and well-meaning investors. Not the least case has been made out for the Government issue of Premium Bonds, and the time, I hope, will never come when such an issue will be given the imprimatur of Government authority. I, therefore, oppose this Motion and shall go into the Lobby against it.
During the course of the Debate I have heard a good many remarks with which I disagree, but I do not think that I have heard any with which I so entirely disagree as the remarks of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Billing). While I am anxious, as I think most of us are, to do anything in my power to encourage the small investor, I see a great danger in having a large number of Government bonds held by small people. It is a fact that bankers do not welcome the small depositor, because in the event of financial trouble he is always the first to withdraw his money. The same thing would obtain with regard to Government securities. If we had a very large number of small investors, there would always be the risk, in the event of anything in the shape of a financial crisis or panic, that these people would immediately want to convert their holdings into some concrete form. It has surprised me a little how few people there are who understand the difference between speculation and gambling. An analogy has been drawn between this form of security and honest 144 speculation on the Stock Exchange and in other markets. Speculation is the life blood of the trade and commerce of this country. It is because the man who sells newspapers in the street is a speculator that you are able to buy a newspaper, and the same obtains right up to the central markets where the great produce of the world is financed. The same thing also obtains on the Stock Exchange. People are able to sell their securities at any moment on the Stock Exchange because of the speculators who make the market. Gambling is a totally different thing, and I cannot see how we can call this anything but gambling when you propose to take a certain amount of money out of the pockets of a great number of people in order to enrich a very small minority.
During the past few years we have heard a great deal of the quality of morale, and, looking back over the course of events, I am sometimes led to ask myself: "Why was it that we won the War?" Was it because of our superiority of strategy, or the weight of our numbers and resources, or because of our morale? I am inclined to think that the quality of morale played the greatest part in the success of the Allies. We need to-day financial morale more than anything else. We are to-day in the position of a man who has a heavily overdrawn account at his bank. He sees before him the prospect of great trade, the greatest trade that he has ever done, but he wants to borrow a little more money, and he is nervous about doing so. Is he going to his banker to make a confession of weakness? Are we going to depart from a financial policy which is the envy of the whole world and to make a confession of weakness to the whole world? We have become a great trading nation because we are an island, and because our sailors and adventurers have been forced to go to sea. We have therefore built up the finest shipping industry in the world—that is our first industry—and because of our shipping industry we have built up a great financial business—that is our second industry—and both are enormously profitable. Our shipping industry has been considerably destroyed on account of the War. The great productivity of the country has been set back on account of the War, and it has inevitably happened that to a certain extent the financial centre of the world has moved to New York, but we are still ahead, and what we have to do is to reconstruct our position and restore to this country its financial 145 supremacy. The whole earth has financed its undertakings in London. They all came to London for their money, and it brought a great deal of business into the country. What is happening to-day? If you open your newspaper, you see new industrial undertakings advertised every day. We are supplying our own market first, and the foreign market is waiting to see how we develop. If we are going to advertise to that foreign market that the British Government, which has the finest security in the world, is not able to borrow money in its own market, then we are making a confession of weakness which we shall regret.
We have heard a great deal about the enormous amount of money which this is going to bring in. Nobody has told us from where it is coming. I have read carefully the Report of the Committee which sat on Premium Bonds, and everybody who has given evidence on this point has spoken almost entirely from conjecture. It has been the same this afternoon in this House. I am going, not to Attempt to tell the House from where the money has come, but to try and analyse the sources of revenue which are drawn upon for investment. Broadly speaking, they are four. You have, first, the banks, the trusts, and the insurance companies. You are not going to get them to invest in Premium Bonds. You have, secondly, the business houses and the business men. They are not going to invest to any extent in Premium Bonds. You will get plenty who will have a flutter with £50 or £100, but it takes a lot of £50 and £100 to make a vast sum of money. The average business man wants a good investment for his money and an investment that he can pledge. He cannot go to his banker with Premium Bonds, because of the enormous discount to which they are liable.
The third class are the people with fixed incomes. They have been more hardly hit than anybody by this War, and, whether they are big or little, they have no money to spare, and you will not get any money out of them. It is therefore boiled down to the wage-earning class. What are they going to do? No one has told us. There is supposed to be an enormous source of untouched revenue to be got out of the pockets of the working class. I am going to do one or two sums, and I believe my figures are fairly accurate. I have heard and read that the Wages Bill of the country is about £2,000,000,000 per year. What are they going to give us out of that 146 —10 per cent or 5 per cent.? Put it down at 5 per cent.; that is £100,000,000 a year. Are hon. Members aware that for the past five and a-half years they have been contributing £100,000,000 a year to the National Exchequer? The report of Sir Robert Kindersley gives the figure of new money invested in Post Office loans, War Savings Certificates, and increased Post Office deposits at nearly £550,000,000. Are you going to get anything more out of them? I cannot see that you are. Take it in another way. The population of the United Kingdom is about 46,000,000 people. Two-thirds of those people are under sixteen years of age. That leaves about 17,000,000. What are you going to get out of them? There are 14,000,000 depositors already in the Post Office Savings Bank, and their deposits amount to £250,000,000. That money is not one year's contribution; it is the savings of years. I venture to think, therefore, that the enormous sum which is coining out of the pockets of the working class is very largely problematical.
I now come to the ethical side of the question. I am quite certain that the enormous success of the War Savings Certificate movement was due to the parsons and others who have been attacked for their opposition to this proposal. No one ought to throw cold water on their excellent organisation. I agree that gambling is a very wrong thing, but in spite of the fact that one man out of every three has a gamble occasionally, and also in spite of the fact that the gaming tables at Monte Carlo are much frequented by Englishmen, I ask the House to take a single illustration to show what might be the possible effect. Take my own county of Lancashire, where the people live in closely packed little streets. Imagine the occupant of one of those houses waking up one morning to find that he has got rich quick. What is going to be the effect? We in Lancashire know that the first use the winner of the thousand or thousands of pounds would make of the money would be to go on an almighty burst, and the next effect would be that the people living alongside would also be out after the means of getting rich quickly. They would not stop at Premium Bonds. You will have a flood of bucket shops opened which will throw at the heads of the people most attractive-looking advertisements, which are nothing more or less than rank swindles. This morning I received a cir- 147 cular from a gentleman writing from Paris congratulating the House of Commons on the fact that it is going to have Premium Bonds, and in the two last paragraphs of that circular the writer hints that he knows the proper way of issuing bonds and will be very pleased to furnish information to any hon. Member who may wish to have his opinion. That is the sort of thing we are going to have if Premium Bonds are ever issued, and I hope the House, therefore, will follow the lead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and reject the proposal.
§ Major BARNETT
The hon. and gallant Member for the Waterloo Division of Lancaster (Mr. Buckley) has endeavoured to show that Premium Bonds are not an investment one could take to his bankers, because he assumed that the value of the bonds on the market will fall at once. Seeing that they will mature in ten years and then be repayable, I would like to ask why?
§ Major BARNETT
My question was rhetorical, and I know very well what my hon. Friend will say. He will point out that Consols now stand at 50 and that they only bear 2½ per cent. interest. Yes, but Consols have to pay Income Tax, and I submit that they contribute no analogy at all. My hon. Friend is assuming that the moment these bonds are issued they will go to a serious discount. I think there is every reason to believe they will not do anything of the kind, but will maintain their price, because they will continue to bear the 2½ per cent. interest for ten years, and will also have a speculative value. My hon. and gallant Friend made an attempt to distinguish between gambling and speculation, and I understood him to say the difference was that gambling meant taking money out of the pockets of other people. I never heard of a speculation which did not do that, and if that is the sole test by which he is going to distinguish between the two, I think it is very ineffective. Then we are told the issue of Premium Bonds will injure War Savings Certificates. I think that point was very ably answered this afternoon by the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley), when he said that it would be a very good thing if every 148 War Savings Certificate were brought in to-morrow, because we should then be refunding a very dangerous floating debt.
If this House wants an effective reason for voting for Premium Bonds, it is only necessary to take the speeches of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) and put them into parallel columns. Exceedingly able as both speeches are, the one will be found to cancel the other. The Noble Lord claimed that a Premium Bond issue would lead to an orgy of gambling and degradation and the rest of it, while the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London proved quite conclusively to his own mind that nobody would take the bonds at all, that the results would be quite negligible, and that certainly not more than £10,000,000 would be realised by them. Both these speakers cannot be right. I think both are wrong. It is impossible for the Premium Bond issue to produce an orgy of gambling in this country and at the same time to bring in such a little sum as has been suggested.
A good deal depends on clearing our minds of cant. If England were a Garden of Eden in which all were steeped in primeval innocence; if this were an earthly Paradise in which no one ever put a shilling on a horse, or ever had the fearful joy of winning a raffle at a bazaar, then there might be something in the arguments addressed to us by the Noble Lord about keeping out the beginning of evil. But, as the hon. Member for Glasgow said, notoriously this country is the greatest gambling country in the world, with the possible exception of the United States of America. There is any amount of gambling going on already, and to suggest that by introducing these Premium Bonds you are going to bring something of a dangerous nature into the country is simply absurd. I am quite prepared to agree that if England were a Garden of Eden, where all were clad in primeval innocence, we might visualise the hon. Member for South Hackney in the role of the Tempter. But what we want in this country was very well put by the hon. Member for Glasgow. We want to control that gambling instinct which is just as inherent in the Briton as in any other member of the human race. We want to guide it into safe channels; we want to guide it into channels least hurtful to the 149 individual and most helpful to the State. That is what we submit those Premium Bonds would do. We should be interesting a very large number of our people in State securities. All this talk about a lottery is beside the mark. Investors would not lose a penny of their capital, and, although they may receive a comparatively low rate of interest, they will get a great deal more than the unfortunate holders of Consols are getting to-day. A few years ago we were urged to buy Consols at 110; some of us did it. We get 2½ per cent. less Income Tax, but the man who buys Premium Bonds will get 2½ per cent. free of Income Tax, and, in addition, he will get his money returned in ten years, and, further, he has a chance of a premium as well. We have had analogies drawn between commerce and speculation. No doubt the analogy exists.
The merchant who deals in teas and tallow, what is he but a gamester? His bales of dirty indigo are his dice, his cards come up every year instead of every ten minutes, and the sea is his green table.Those are the words Thackeray puts into the mouth of Barry Lyndon, a professional gamester, but they embody a profound truth, because however much we deplore some of the aspects of the spirit of adventure, especially the meaner aspects of it, undoubtedly on the other side it is the spirit of enterprise that has made England great. Why is it that we find our pioneers in every new country in the world?
§ Mr. S. WALSH
The hon. Gentleman quoted a very unfortunate instance in Barry Lyndon, because he was very unfortunate himself.
§ Major BARNETT
The hon. Member is quite right. I said that those words were put into the mouth of a professional gamester, but they are true.
§ Major BARNETT
Everybody who does anything in this world in commerce or anything else has to take. risks. Your pioneer gambles Ids life, gambles his capital, if he has any, and if he succeeds he succeeds through a spirit of adventure which, in another form, is the desire to get something without working for it. It has been assumed in this Debate that there is something really wicked in hoping to get something more than you already get by the investment of your labour or capital. I deny that proposition. It is 150 the basis of all enterprise to get rich quickly. The smug person who objects altogether to Premium Bonds will not object to going down to his brokers tomorrow morning and asking if they know of anything good. If he gets advice he will follow it in the hope that the stock will rise before the end of next week. Perhaps it will and perhaps it will not. We here are far too much disposed to follow the old lines, and to say that because a thing has not been done, therefore it cannot be done. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, with that subtle casuistry which enables him at any time to construct a dilemma which would deceive most of us common men, put a dilemma before us in regard to speculative investments. He said that anybody who knew anything about speculative investment knew that these-Premium Bonds, as far as they are premiums on speculation, would be disastrous, and, as far as they are an investment, would be a failure. That is all very well, but the Noble Lord should recollect that we are trying here to appeal to a new class who have never yet invested in anything whatever, except perhaps a horse.
§ Major BARNETT
As far as they have money to invest they have been very badly catered for. What are the working classes of this country offered? The building-society offers them 4 per cent. Some of them have put their money into a building society and a lot of them have rued it because it was not a fair 4 per cent. in many cases. What other investments have they been offered?
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Major BARNETT
I think that was a much better offer. The working man who has made £100 or £50 has not had the same chance of finding a remunerative investment as the man with a few thousand pounds. We should appeal by these Premium Bonds to thrift because it would, be worth a man's while to save a little money. The hon. Member for South Hackney says it means the price of a glass of beer per bond per annum. In the present position we require some new departure in our finance. We are faced with the most appalling figures and we have to get some new money, and big money too. I believe that there is big 151 money in this proposal. If you can put an investment before the working classes of the country which would give a fair rate of interest, and a fair run and a chance of a prize—good luck to them if they get it—I believe they would welcome it. I agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, that we do not want the prizes too big. I would rather see the sort of prize which would enable a man to buy a house than give him £20,000, £30,000 or £40,000, which would probably ruin him. Do not let us in insular pride trust too much to the old methods of finance. They have stood us in good stead so far but they may not always do so. New circumstances have arisen. May I take as an instance the metric system, which is one of those things against which our insular pride contends. About thirty years ago there was an Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Dr Piazzi Smyth, who wrote a learned treatise, "Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid," to prove that our units of length, the inch, the foot and the yard, were the true secret of our national greatness and far superior to the godless metric system which originated during the wild excesses of the French Revolution. He demonstrated this to his own satisfaction by certain measurements in the Great Pyramid which could, in my judgment, have been used with equal success to prove that Shakespeare wrote Bacon. But to this day the metric system is taboo in Britain. Other pundits in the political sphere have with similar certitude been prepared to maintain that the -system of unrestricted imports, which is our unique possession, is the great secret of our national wealth. Even here perhaps it is permissible to doubt whether we are the only wise men in the world. It may prove that the motto, "Secures judicat orbis terrarium" is not yet outworn. In our financial methods we want new ideas. I do not think we ought to be afraid of these shibboleths about gambling. What determined me to come here to-day was the numerous letters I have received from Constituents asking me to vote against it. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Acland) has told us about his silent constituency. Since this scheme has come forward he has been deluged with letters all hostile to Premium Bonds. Is it not absurd that a silent constituency should burst into song over a project of this kind without going into its merits? A Constituent rang me up 152 on the telephone before breakfast to-day and asked me to vote against Premium Bonds. I asked, "Why?" He said, "It is gambling; it is very wicked." I said, "Do you think it is wicked to put down a pound and be assured of your capital back in ten years, with 6s. accumulated interest?" He said, "That is not Premium Bonds. I said, "That is the very thing we are going to discuss." He said, "I do not know much about it, but I think it is gambling. I replied, "You are like many people who get a catchword and write to their Member of Parliament and ask him to vote when he has given a great deal more time to the consideration of the question than they have done and rightly or wrongly has formed his opinion about it and is going to give effect to it. You will say, when you hear the scheme, that it is not gambling at all." That is the sort of bombardment that hon. Members have been exposed to day after day. As it is the hope of reward that sweetens labour, so the hope of acquiring something more than your labour or capital would, in the ordinary way, entitle you to is a very reasonable incentive, and I hope and believe it will have the sanction and approval of the House.
If any evidence was required as to the shallow case put forward for Premium Bonds, it is to be found in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's analogy between merchants, traders, and business men and bookmakers. While it is perfectly true that new financial methods are necessary, and that new sources of revenue must be tapped, of all methods and measures proposed to raise revenue, the one we are embarking on is not only more likely than any other to fail us but certainly would be the most dangerous we could adopt. I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman was quite accurate with regard to Consols. It is true that Consols stood above 110, but one of the first causes of the depreciation in Consols was what is known as the Goschen Act, reducing them from 3 to 2½ per cent., and the second was the extension of trustee investment to include Colonial securities.
Yes; but Consols were invariably looked upon as the one trust security, and prior to the extension to Colonial securities trust money in the main was invested in Consols. We must look upon this question in an entirely new light. 153 It is quite true that there are hundreds of thousands of working men who invest their money in building societies, but would anyone be a party to deliberately preventing thrift in a man whose one ambition in investing in building societies is to be able to say that some day he will own the little house he lives in? There is no better type of citizen than the man who is struggling to buy his own house, and a very grave responsibility would rest upon those who would divert money from that object. There is no better type of working man than the friendly society members of trade unions, whatever might be said of the merits of trade unionism. These are the men who contribute their pence weekly, who save through their trade unions, and provide for a rainy day. A number of trade unions allow their members to buy their houses through their own organisations. We have thousands in our society, where we advance their money back to them to enable them to buy their houses. No Member of the House of Commons ought to do anything which would prevent that kind of investment and thrift being encouraged.
After all, what is the financial stability of this country? It is true we were the banking centre of the world. That was due to the fact that the credit of this country was accepted the world over. It is due to the fact that our financial methods were accepted as the best in the world. What will be said of our great moral principles in the War, what will be said in answer to a million lives being sacrificed and the blood and treasure poured out for a moral purpose during the War, that this great country of ours is reduced to pay for the War by a mere gamble such as is now proposed? I can conceive of nothing which would be so demoralising. I can conceive of nothing which would more certainly shake the foundations of this country, and, I believe, so far as raising money is concerned, it would be an absolute failure. It is proved conclusively that the bankers would not touch it. It is proved conclusively that no trust would touch it. It is proved that your commercial men would not touch it; and, incidentally, it would be a good thing that they should not, because the real object of business, and the one advantage in the development of business, is that business men will put back into their concerns money for the development of their business.
Are you going to divert that money into another channel? Then you come back 154 again to the working classes. Is it assumed that if you exclude the trade unions, the friendly societies, the members of building societies, and the members of cooperative societies, that there is much left of the working classes of this country? Are you going to get your thousands of millions-from those who are left? The remainder consists of large numbers of unemployed. It is for these reasons that we believe that the proposal now submitted is dangerous. We believe it is a proposal contrary to the-best interests of the country. We believe it is a proposal to which the great mass of men and women of this country are opposed, and we believe that the defeat that will be administered to the proposal this evening will adequately and accurately reflect the moral conscience of our people.
§ Lieut.-Colonel POWNALL
One or two speakers have rather suggested that the-reason why the big Loan last summer was not so successful as it was hoped it might have been was because there was no element of Premium Bonds connected with it. As one who spends every morning in the City, and who is in pretty close touch with the opinion of the commercial community, I can say that it was not due to that reason that the Loan last summer was not so successful as had been the Loan of 1917 or the issue of War Bonds in 1918. The reason is a purely commercial one. During the War it was not possible for manufacturers and importers, through dearth of raw material and through shipping and labour difficulties, to turn out anything like the amount of material they would ordinarily do, and the retail shops were-very empty of stock. They were able, therefore, a very large number of them, to invest in short-dated securities, such as War Bonds, very considerable sums that would otherwise have been invested in their own businesses. Last summer the position was entirely different. We all of us in business had to restock our warehouses, and our warehouses had in turn to restock the retailers. We had in many cases to pay pretty well twice the amount for the raw materials we were buying, and many of us required about twice as much capital in our business as had been necessary before the War. That meant that we were not in the position, those of us who were in business, to do what we had done in regard to War Loan during the War. We were not able to put such large amounts into the Funding or the Victory Loan. That fact is very often forgotten. 155 Even if there had been some issue of Premium Bonds last summer it would not have made much difference to the Victory or Funding Loans.
I have met this evening many private Members who, like myself, had no very clear ideas how they were going to vote. Two weeks ago I was in that position. I have, however, spent a good many hours reading the Report of the Select Committee which dealt with this question two years ago, in order to decide how I ought to vote this evening. My colleague who represents West Lewisham—the borough of Lewisham is a house divided against itself to-night—quoted one or two bank experts who were in favour of Premium Bonds, and who thought that a very considerable sum could be raised in that way. I have taken the trouble to epitomise the views on this subject of fire experts whose authority is second to none in the country—the Chairman of the Stock Exchange, the then Governor of the Bank of England (Lord Cunliffe), the Secretary to the Treasury, Sir John Bradbury, whose signature we are always so glad to see on pieces of paper, an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. McKenna, and the Comptroller of the Post Office Savings Bank. Sir John Bradbury said that he thought the first £20,000,000 would be easy, the second £20,000,000 difficult, and the third £20,000,000 impossible. That, roughly, summarises the views of the other four gentlemen. Lord Cunliffe, then Governor of the Bank of England, thought we should do very well indeed to get £50,000,000. The Chairman of the Stock Exchange said he thought we might get £10,000,000 in two months and £60,000,000 in a year. Mr. McKenna, speaking as an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, put it £15,000,000 in all. The Comptroller of the Post Office Savings Bank was even less optimistic; he put it at £10,000,000 to £15,000,000. Sir Edward Holden said £50,000,000 in the first year. We are all agreed that this is a very difficult thing to dogmatise about. It may be £10,000,000 or £50,000,000.
§ Lieut.-Colonel POWNALL
The hon. Member says £500,000,000. If I were as optimistic as he is I should vote with him this evening in the Lobby. He mentions France. In regard to France, I will men- 156 tion something which has not been brought out. In France the plan is to give what is practically the current rate of interest, with a very small additional bonus thrown in. Before the War the Credit Foncier—I am quoting from the Select Committee's report—gave 3 per cent. to investors in the ordinary course of events on their premium bonds on drawing, which worked out at slightly less than ½ per cent., which went to the holders of the bonds. A safe 3 per cent. on less than 6 per cent., which there was what one might call the gambling element. There has been a fresh issue since the War and they now give 5½ per cent. and slightly over per cent. is of a gambling transaction. We might almost say that they correspond roughly to our 5 per cent. War Bonds, with possibly ¼ or ½ per cent. thrown in. Many of us like a dash of whisky with our soda. The plan now brought forward is rather that our drink should be half and half. The French adopt the plan of having a small dash of whisky with a large amount of soda. I do not think that the French plan is really comparable with the plan put forward this evening, under which nearly half goes into a gambling element and slightly over half goes in a safe 2½ per cent. given to the investors. With a very considerable proportion of the community feeling strongly on this matter, I do not think the House would be justified in embarking upon a speculation of this sort in financial politics, unless it could reasonably see a very much larger sum than I am convinced could be obtained by the measure of Premium Bonds put before the House.
§ Mr. S. SAMUEL
I have listened to the arguments for and against Premium Bonds this evening. The principal thing that we have to consider is the financial position of the country. We have enormous liabilities, and I have not heard any suggestion from any speaker, probably because we are only discussing Premium Bonds, how we are to meet our obligations. We have tried the various bonds which are now in the hands of investors. We commenced by 3½ per cent. The Government advanced that to 4 per cent. It then went up to 5 per cent. Then we had the 6 per cent. Exchequer Bonds. We have had lately a kind of Premium Bond in the Victory War Bond, and we have exhausted the main sources from which we are to derive financial assistance for carrying on, and when we consider that 157 there are millions of people in this country who have no interest in the financial position of the country, when we see what has been done in other countries by the introduction of a certain amount of speculation, I think that before the House turns down this proposal we should at least try to interest a lot of our people in the financial distress of our country, and I firmly believe that by the issue of Premium Bonds you would tap large sources of financial assistance which you can get at in no other way. We know perfectly well—there is no use in disguising the fact—that in the British character there is a great deal of the sporting instinct, and men of all grades of society are always anxious to have a gamble. By the issue of Premium Bonds you could satisfy their cupidity without gambling at all.
The hon. Member for Oxford University, who says that gambling is a vice, defined gambling as becoming rich without working. The proper definition I should have thought was that a man risks everything, or a great deal, and is liable to lose all he risks, and in the Premium Bonds in no circumstances can the investor—because I look upon it as an investment—lose anything at all. I am not going to discuss the methods of the interest, but it is suggested that the amount of the investment should be paid interest. The hon. Member for Lewisham taunted the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the small amounts of interest that were paid by the savings banks, and he said that the Government were therefore defrauding investors in the savings banks of 2½, per cent., because for their Loans in the market they were paying 5 per cent. The reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a very definite statement, that the public preferred to pay to the Government 2½ per cent. in the Post Office Savings Bank to putting their money into War Loans or other securities even at 5 per cent. You cannot have it both ways. If people are satisfied to put their money into the Post Office Savings Bank with the remuneration of 2½ per cent. per annum, where is the gamble? They may, if they choose, put their money into what may be called Premium Bonds also at 2½ per cent. per annum. It will appeal to those other people who are inveterate gamblers. You will have them, instead of going to the street corners and putting their 5s. or 10s. on horses, and instead of going in their thousands every Saturday afternoon to football matches and betting thousands of pounds, borrowing money 158 from their employers to invest in these Premium Bonds, and agreeing with the employers, as they have done in the case of the War Savings Certificates, to pay off so much per week, and by that means, instead of encouraging gambling, which we all wish to avoid, we shall be encouraging thrift, for the simple reason that men will incur liabilities for the purpose of getting these bonds and having the opportunity of securing a competence for themselves, and, in the event of being fortunate enough to gain a prize, being able to purchase their own house and go into some business.
By that means I am convinced that you will do more to do away with gambling than by any amount of legislation which you have tried over and over again without any success. There is more gambling going on to-day in every direction than ever went on before. In my opinion it will be a great step towards stamping out all that gambling element, where a man can lose everything by his own speculations. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that this would prevent people from working, but it would be just the reverse. When people would borrow money to buy these bonds they would work to pay off the amount. No argument that I have heard points in any way to any element of gambling in this proposed issue of Premium Bonds. If you choose to call it a speculation, then there is speculation in everything in a man's life, no matter what business or profession he goes into. Some people say that this is a gamble, because only a few can win, but if you take any profession or business it is the same thing. If you take the Church or the Law, there are only a few prizes which only a few men can obtain. There are thousands and thousands who never gain any advancement at all. Therefore you might say that the one man who obtains success is speculating against all the others. The other people very often had the same advantage, but they had not the influence of the man who succeeds in his profession by the influence which he is able to bring to bear in the proper direction. The Member for Derby spoke of the thrift of the trade union and the friendly societies. We all know that certain members of these bodies are very thrifty, but nobody would like to secede from a building society or the organisations which are doing so much to provide these houses and other comforts. But those are not the men to whom to appeal 159 so much. We appeal to them necessarily, because I believe that these men have ambitions the same as the merchant, or the banker or anyone else.
Whatever business a man goes into he always goes into it with the idea of gaining something. If any man says that he goes into business or into any transaction without the hope of gain, I for one would not believe him. The working man slaves from morning till night—at least he used to do so—and is anxious to create a position for himself. He knows perfectly well by his eight hours a day the maximum that he can earn. I do not see that there would be any crime if that man put some of his earnings into an investment of this description, with the chance of being able to make a small fortune for himself. If you took a plebiscite of the whole of the working classes, I do not think that they would be opposed to this system of investment. It is impossible for anyone to form any accurate opinion as to the amount that would be realised, but if you look to foreign countries where they have issued municipal loans you find that the amounts are very considerable. I know that in France, in the Ville de Paris, there is hardly a single servant girl or workman who has not a share in some of these lottery bonds. They all have the same ambition—that they may make a little nest-egg for the future. For myself, I think it an idea that should be encouraged rather than discouraged. I like to see ambition in everyone. A man loses heart when he thinks that other people are more successful than he is, because he has not the same opportunity. I believe that the amount that could be obtained from this source would be far in excess of anything that has been mentioned this afternoon. Seeing the necessity we are under to raise money for the payment of our expenses, I think this House would be wrong not to give this method a trial.
§ Mr. HOGGE
This Debate has been prolonged to undue length. As a matter of fact the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer killed the whole topic. The arguments that have been used by hon. Members since, in trying to resurrect the corpse of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, has not been successful. The picture, for example, that the hon. Member who spoke last contributed, of the Parisian maidservant with her bonds, conjured up to my mind the 160 practice with which we are all familiar in this country, of having family prayers in the morning for the whole household, including our servants. I can imagine my hon. Friend taking advantage of the opportunity, should this Resolution be carried, of instilling into the minds of those who serve him the advantage of Premium Bonds. There are two points which ought to be emphasised before this Debate closes. A great deal has been said about the amount of money which Premium Bonds would produce. As a matter of fact, there are no countries in the world, with the exception of Belgium, Turkey, Austria and Germany, that have ever attempted, nationally, Premium Bonds. France, it is quite true, has Premium Bonds, but in France they are all municipal Bonds.
§ Mr. HOGGE
My hon. Friend says that makes it all the stronger for his argument. It will not be nearly so strong for his argument before I have completed mine, because the success, and the only success, that has ever been secured with these bonds in France has been that the interest, apart from the prizes that were drawn, was 5½ per cent.
§ Mr. S. SAMUEL
Years before the War the interest on the Ville de Paris Bonds was 4 per cent. I hold some myself.
§ Mr. HOGGE
We are not talking of before the War; we are talking of the new world. This proposal is put forward because the Government's proposals are so inadequate for the raising of money. The only proposal that has been made in France since, has been the one I have suggested, in which a certain number of bonds were issued, and, if I remember rightly, 12,000,000,000 francs were applied for out of an issue of 600,000,000, but the interest was 5½ per cent. There is another point which requires to be borne in mind. If you take into calculation the amount of interest, the expense of raising that money, and the expense of the prizes, then the cost to the State was no less than 6 per cent. If he cared to do so, the Chancellor of the Exchequer could get money to-morrow at anything like that rate of interest. Another point is this: No one has contemplated the amount of fraud that would be associated with the issue of Premium Bonds. The hon. Member (Mr. Bottomley) told us of the 161 number of workmen's clubs and other clubs that were being organised to deal with subscriptions to Premium Bonds. I have in front of me now the kind of thing which would be as familiar as working men's clubs if this issue were agreed to. Here already in a publication of 8th November, 1919, is the formation, or the projected formation, of the British Premium Bond Corporation, Limited, in anticipation that this House will do what it is not going to do, pass this Resolution. This new company is to have 95,000 ordinary shares of £1 each and 5,000 deferred shares, and the business of the company is to consist of two things, namely, advertising the scheme of Premium Bonds in every newspaper in the Kingdom and in opening 250 depots, one or more in each large town, for the sale of the certificates, as advertised, to the public. Like all prospectuses of that kind, they say, as it is expected that millions of pounds will be received by the issue of these certificates, and as the 5,000 deferred shares will take a proportion of the profits of the company, the dividends which may reasonably be expected to accrue will be enormous.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The directors are not yet appointed, because this House has not yet agreed to Premium Bonds. But, ahead of the decision of this House, you have already got the kind of people who mean to trade with the advantage of State security in efforts which are discreditable to the finance of this country. There are a great many other reasons why one should oppose this proposal. Something has been said about the fact that the working classes of this country are spending money a stupid fashion. I do not suppose that a greater fallacy than that has ever been attered in this House. If it were true that the working classes were wasting their money, you would have no agitation for higher wages, but wages have not kept pace with the level of prices and the cost 162 of living; and if it were possible for the working classes to live inside the wages they are earning, you would not obviously have the kind of demand we know of for increased wages. You have the further fact that the Government have agreed to that demand over and over again, which proves the fallacy of that argument to which I have referred. On the contrary, the people who are wasting their money are not the working classes. If anyone cares to go to the West End, they can buy silver wrist bags at £100, or fur coats at £1,000, or they can buy a seat to see Carpentier-Beckett fight for £25.
§ Mr. HOGGE
My hon. Friend says they cannot be got, and that is the only place in which it is true there is a premium. It is not the working classes who are spending the money, but the classes at the other end of the social scale. Any scheme, therefore, which is presented to the working classes on that ground is wrong, fundamentally and economically, besides being morally wrong. There are a great many other things I should like to have said, but in view of the number wino wish to speak I desire to say, on behalf of those with whom I am associated, that we as a party will vote against this Resolution.
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
I do not desire, on this occasion, to give a silent vote, but to give reasons why I shall vote against the Motion of the Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley). What is the position the House has been invited to consider this afternoon? It is that in consequence of the abnormal position of our national finance the House and the country, through the Government, are invited to have recourse to a questionable and, possibly, dangerous expedient in order to secure increased revenue. I want to give reasons why I think the Government, from the purely financial point of view, should not adopt the method suggested. First, I think that in the end it must be damaging to the prestige of the country. It has been a measure of satisfaction for a long period that the credit of no country in the world stood higher than the credit of this country, and I think only when a country has failed in all the legitimate methods of raising revenue should it have recourse to the more questionable methods of raising revenue. I think that is the position of every true citizen, and if it is good for every true citizen it ought to be good for every nation, and more particularly a 163 nation that has stood with its credit so high as has the British nation. The second reason why I think we should not have recourse to this method of raising revenue, is this. If it were necessary I can imagine no period when the nation ought to hesitate more to adopt that method than the present period, and for this reason. The abnormal expenditure has arisen because of our engagement in the greatest War the world has ever known, and for five years we have told the world that we were in the War for the highest possible ideals, and we sought for five years by the best of our blood and treasure to secure victory for a great cause. Surely it is a strange commentary upon our position that immediately after victory has been won and that we have represented in a Treaty of Peace some approach, at any rate, to the ideals for which we went to war, that we should be invited to depart from all the tried and more honourable methods of raising our revenue and be invited to adopt what has been, in my judgment, very properly described by a leading financier as a miserable expedient.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Even the supporters of the Resolution have not denied that in the proposal they put forward there is an element of gambling. It is for this reason that I think the proposal ought to receive the strong opposition of this House. Can it be denied—will even the promoters of the Resolution deny—that the spirit of gambling has already taken very great possession of the people of this country? We were told earlier in the Debate by the hon. Member for Spring-burn (Mr. Macquisten), who, in my judgment, preferred the most convincing indictment against the Resolution, that gambling in this country had already assumed proportions that were colossal. I agreed with him in his indictment; I disagreed with him in the deduction that he made from his own statement. He tried to convince the House that, though this evil had already assumed such proportions, we ought to resort to Premium Bonds in order to win the gambler away from his present methods. All, those who have mixed with the masses in the workshops, in the factory, in the, warehouse, have been compelled to recognise. the fact that gamblers do not come in the first-instance to the. coarser methods of gambling and then transfer to what may be called the finer 164 methods. All experience goes to prove that it is exactly the other way. They begin with what may be described as the finer methods, and then the spirit within them develops until they do not care very much how coarse the method is if the element of chance is sufficient to warrant them in the speculation. I repeat that gambling has already taken a tremendous hold of the people of this country. It is not confined to racing, and I should like to bring this point very promiently before the House. During recent years there has been a great development of gambling and betting, especially in connection with football. That fine old English sport, has been permeated to an extent that many people are unaware of. I do not suggest that it is open betting on the football field. It is the lottery and the sweepstake which, in my judgment, are more dangerous, because more secret. There are thousands and thousands of pounds that Saturday by Saturday change hands in this country on what is known as League football. Let it be said, to the credit of the English Football Association, that it has done its best to punish the offenders and to purify the sport and bring it back to its original position. Nor is that all. We know, in connection with local administrative life, that our watch committees and our chief constables have a very difficult task imposed upon them to carry out the gaining laws, and to try to track the gambler, now that there are so many avenues open for the exercise of this spirit of gambling. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!" I am rather surprised, having regard to the time occupied by the promoters of this Resolution, that there should be this inclination to closure those of us who are taking the opposite side. Those authorities— the watch committees and chief constables —have a very heavy task imposed upon them. I want to ask, is their task to be made more difficult by Parliament giving its sanction, and even its encouragement, to one form of speculation, which must inevitably make it more difficult for them to punish the other forms?
I should like to put one final point. I am opposed to this because I am convinced that it will interfere with that standard of productiveness which is so essential in the national interest. We are repeatedly told in this House, and I agree with the statement, that the future of this country very largely depends upon the general produc- 165 tiveness of its people. There are employers in this House who know, as we know, what is going on in many of the workshops and factories of this country. I can remember, when I was associated with the industrial life of the Tyneside, working in industrial establishments where it could be said that 75 per cent. of the men engaged in gambling, either on horse-racing or football, either by going to the bookmaker direct or by going secretly and obtaining a ticket either for a lottery or a sweepstake. What is the effect? The employers know it, and we know it. The effect is that gambling produces a spirit of restlessness and excitement that is altogether antagonistic to that consistent steady toil out of which alone an increased standard of productiveness can be secured. I again repeat that this House ought not to give its encouragement either to a coarser or to a refined form of gambling. We ought all to do our best to get the whole of our workmen to pursue that steady devotion to their employment out of which alone we shall get that higher standard which will enable us to compete with other countries. We are delighted to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is opposed to this Motion. We all agree that increased national production is absolutely essential for the well-being of the people as a whole. We hope, therefore—although I am not speaking for the Labour party officially, I know where they will be found when the Division is taken—that this proposal will be turned down, because we believe that by turning it down the House will be doing the best for the promotion of domestic happiness, for securing increased production, for reconstruction, and for the promotion of national righteousness.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I should like to add a few words as one who has been interested in this scheme for a considerable number of years, and who had the first opportunity of introducing it into this House. I regret, as all of us do who are in support of the scheme, the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is no more to be counted amongst us, but is, on the contrary, among those who are in opposition. None the less, I do not at all share the apprehension expressed by one hon. Member who thought that, if this scheme is sanctioned by the House, and in consequence the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced it, the object would 166 suffer. On the contrary, I believe that if this scheme does receive the sanction of the House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will carry out what the House desires, and will put into it all the enthusiasm which he devotes to his work. I would even go a little further and hope that when he comes to contemplate the details of the scheme, and put it into active operation, he will once more change his view and come over to those in favour of the scheme. I want the House to understand two things. However this scheme may ultimately be developed, it had its origin in the belief of the members of the Committee, of which I had the honour to be chairman, that there was, and is, in the country a large amount of new untouched money which nothing can get into the pockets of the Treasury but some scheme of this kind; secondly, that money lies in the pockets of a vast number of men who at the present moment have not got the habit of saving, and whom nothing would reach but something such as Premium Bonds, which would give them a habit of saving, with that ultimate stake in the country which it is so desirable they should have. I would appeal to those who have read the evidence given before the Select Committee, of which I was a member. There were two things as to which everybody agrees. First of all, there was at the time when the evidence was given, an enormous amount, chiefly in wages of the working classes, which has been frittered away, and which has not been returned in any form into the pockets of the Treasury. Let me read a few words of the evidence of Sir Robert Kindersley, of course the most ardent advocate of the opposition to this scheme, and the mast powerful. The question was put to him:With your great experience of these savings arrangements, and nobody has more, you would agree that there is still a large part of the earnings of the working classes which have not reached any form of Government investment?—Undoubtedly, in my opinion.Large sums, which are at the present moment being frittered away in cinemas and things of that kind?—Undoubtedly.Which it would be very desirable, not only for present purposes, but for future war purposes, to attract into a Government security. You have no doubt that these Premium Bonds would be attractive have you?—Undoubtedly, to a certain class.And a considerable class? I mean the very fact that you have pointed out that the present issue is to some extent being affected by the expectation of Premium Bonds surely shows that there is a class expecting that security?—There is no denial on my part in regard to that.167 That is the evidence of the most powerful opponent we had to meet. He agrees, and hon. Members will find it emerging from the evidence, that you cannot get these large sums which are being thus frittered away unless you can offer a sufficiently attractive investment. The second point is whether these large sums are worth haying from the point of view of the Government. Again, you have the evidence which has been summarised in the Report. The estimates extended—it must, of course, be to a large extent a question of surmise—from £20,000,000 on the one side to £500,000,000 on the other. After very carefully considering and weighing all the evidence on both sides, the Committee in their Report came to the conclusion that this would be new money—not money derived from the Post Office Savings Bank or from selling existing investments, but new money which is untapped, wasted, squandered, to the extent of from £80,000,000 to £100,000,000 a year. The evidence contemplated that the issue would probably last four or five years, and that was the basis upon which we started. If that was true at the time that the evidence was given, it is abundantly true now. I do not join in the pessimistic sayings of some hon. Members to the effect that the country is in a parlous state and that its credit is prejudiced, or in arguments of that kind. I do not believe that to be true. Let us face the facts as they are. We are just emerging from a time of war. The exchanges are against us, certainly in the United States. There are natural and proper financial necessities which have to be met. If you have here new money, untapped money, from the working classes, to the extent of £80,000,000 to £100,000,000 a year, is it wise to turn it away? The scheme has a further, and, to my mind, a greater import. There were called before the Committee the London managers of the Credit Lyonnais and of the Credit Foncier, and they both agreed in this, that the result of the large issues which have been made in France, Egypt, Italy, Belgium, and Austria—not, it is true, State issues, but issues made by municipalities, though often guaranteed by the State—so far from inculcating the gambling spirit in the people, has produced thrift and induced a habit of saving. A very cogent remark was made by the London manager of the Credit Lyonnais, who, after he had given a list 168 of those securities, to which hon. Members would do well to refer if they have any doubt on the subject, let slip this observation. He said, "The habit of saving can be easily acquired when it is once begun, but you have to make men begin it." You do not do it by inducing them, from purely patriotic reasons, to put into anything so unattractive as a War Loan or a Savings Bank Certificate, upon which they can look for no return for years to come. It is not human to suppose that a man should take much interest in a matter of that sort—to look at 15s. 6d., thinking that he has to wait for years until he can get £l for it. To suppose that a man could take much interest in a security of that kind is a mistake. It was required for patriotic purposes. He was told that the cash was required for war purposes. Apart from that, you could not expect such a security to act.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I will tell my hon. Friend. I start from the common ground that the amount of subscriptions to these War Certificates by the working classes have been comparatively very small.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
Comparatively, no man can deny that a great number of these War Certificates were subscribed for by people who took the maximum. How did they sell the others? I appeal to the experience of any of the employers of labour here. In every large works—perhaps to say "every" is an exaggeration—but in many works all over the country workmen's associations were formed, and thirty-one workmen, say, subscribed 6d. each, and that produced one 15s. 6d. certificate. They drew lots for the certificate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am not blaming them. I do not see why they should not do it. It 169 adds to the human interest. That is the way to which seven-tenths of the War Certificates were—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" and "Nonsense!"]—taken up by the working classes. The Chancellor in his very taking speech, said one or two things upon which I would like to comment. He said that he thought an issue of this kind could not succeed unless it was advertised. The main ground upon which this scheme appeals to me, at any rate, is that you would avoid the vulgarity of the, constant posters. Every man who wins a Bond or a £5 prize is an advertisement. Opponents of the scheme said that every time a man drew a bond the neighboaiihood would be upset. But he would be a walking advertisement. There will be no need, then, to have a horrid hand pointing out to you from the posting stations, "It is your money we want." Nor will you have scenes from the battlefield with the widow and the orphan standing there appealing to the God of Revenge and the God of Battles for adequate revenge in the form of a popular Five per Cent. Public Loan. You escape this altogether. Another hon. Member said that the securities would depreciate in value, and, therefore, they would be constantly sold. That is not the experience of France and other foreign countries where these Loans have been issued. I will not weary the House by going through the list. [HON. MEMBERS as hear!"] I can quite understand the anxiety of hon. Members not to hear them.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
If hon. Members have any desire to read the list they can find particulars on page 43 of the evidence. There have been in France Loans since 1861—in '71, '75, 1904, 1912, right down to the present time. When these Loans with State guarantees are issued they are always successful, and are held by the French people at the present time. I challenge anybody with experience in this House to deny my statement when I say that the French people are the most thrifty in the world, and there are many people there who have held these bonds ever since 1865. Such Loans have been raised in Antwerp, Brussels, Russia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and Serbia. We have the Suez Canal Bonds, of which this country is a large holder, and last, but not least, we have the Victory Bonds. 170 You pay £5 for them and you may get £100 within six months, and the principle is identically the same as we are proposing. It is only a question of degree and the only distinction is in the case of the Victory Bond you cannot get more than £15, while in the case of Premium Bonds, if the holder chooses, half the interest is added to the pool and he gets a little more. The Victory Bonds are paid off under the hateful system of drawing lots. How can the Government have tolerated that? It is drawing lots to determine whether a man may have a £15 prize out of £85 he has subscribed. What is the good of saying the system we propose is new and wrong? The scheme I have mentioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer has fathered, this House has accepted it, and the people of this country have adopted it, and if in doing that he had only added half of the interest to the £15 which was accumulating they would have adopted it with considerably more enthusiasm. The element of chance has been deprecated. We are told it is a terrible thing to contemplate, there is to be no drawing of lots, but in life one cannot escape chance. It is a chance whether you are born. It is a chance whether you get into this House. It is a still greater chance if you remain here. Chance pursues you all through life, and what is called chance in the direction of affairs of man is recognised all through. The schoolboy tosses whether his side shall go in first, and again a Member of Parliament puts a question down to the Government on the chance that he may get information. All through life you cannot escape it, and therefore it is no good saying it is wrong to use it in connection with well recognised and properly secured Government Bonds. What harm is it? My final word is this, I suggest to the Government that they should try the scheme which we have. I say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer make your issues in a series. Have first an issue of £10,000,000. That would allow £75,000 every half year for prizes. If this scheme is going to be a success you will find it out at once. You will have your.£10,000,000 issue subscribed as we believe a hundred times over. If it is going to fail you will equally soon find that out, and all the evil consequences which are spoken of will not be poured on the land. If it succeeds pursue it; if it does not succeed drop it and no. harm will have been done. This is the 171 scheme we have prepared with such expert financial assistance as we had at our disposal. We believe it is the only way by which you can get into the pockets of the Treasury money which is being wasted. We believe it will inculcate thrift into the working classes, and I appeal to the House to give it a trial. If it does it we know it will be honestly and conscientiously worked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that it will meet with the success which it deserves.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
We have listened to a very persuasive speech by my hon, and learned Friend, and I think it is a very good thing that that side of the case should be put as forcibly as it has been. My hon. Friend spoke of the element of chance in all our lives. He said with a certain amount of truth that birth was a question of chance. I wondered whether he would also tell us that death was a question of chance. He said another thing in which I think he was wrong. He said an hon. Member put a question on the chance that he would get information from the Government. It is not that, it depends largely on the skill of the hon. Member who puts the question. Since the Debate has lasted to this hour I thought it was right, as the Prime Minister could not be here, that I, as Leader of the House, should at least express my views before the House came to a decision. It is more appropriate I should do it rather than the Prime Minister because, from his past record, it would naturally be assumed that the Prime Minister would be on the side of the angels—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—whereas in my case that is a lithe more doubtful. In a sense, I am sorry to speak, because, as a matter of fact, I have come to the same conclusion as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by very much the same road, and it is hardly possible for me, indeed, I do not think it is possible to put any new arguments before the House. I look at it from an entirely different point of view from that, 172 for instance, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. A. Henderson). The hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution told us that the main opposition was because it was wicked. I do not think that is right. Obviously, if I did, or if the Government did, we would not have left the question to the free vote of the House. I shall say a word before I sit down as to why we have done so.
Everyone is agreed—even the hon. Member for South hackney, I think—that gambling is bad. But what is gambling? I confess that I have never been able to find a definition of it which has satisfied me. We have had to-day, as often before, this kind of definition—that if you get something for which you have not worked, that is gambling; or that if you get something, which means that you have gained it at the expense of somebody else, then that is gambling. If that is the correct definition, then the bulk of the business of this country is transacted on gambling principles. There is no doubt about that. I have been in business, and have had experience of a good many kinds of business, but I know of none in which this element of uncertainty does not play a very large part. It applies not only to merchants; it applies to manufacturers, to the extent that their profits depend on whether they buy at the right time or at the wrong time. It is equally true that if they buy at the right time, the man who has sold to them would have made a little more if he had waited a little longer, therefore he would have gained at the expense of somebody else. I have never seen a definition of gambling which has satisfied me, but as a practical rule, as a rule of thumb, I will give to the House what I have always regarded as the correct definition. It is, never run a risk at a particular time to such an extent as will interfere with your sleep. That is a more philosophical definition than it sounds, because the essence of gambling makes anybody who acts upon that principle impossible to be a gambler. What is attractive in gambling is the risk you run. If you are acting without running this risk you are not a gambler.
Therefore, it is net from that point of view at all that I lock at the question. I look at it from the point of view of the effect which I believe this proposal would have upon the life of the nation and upon its finances. Those are the only considerations which influence me. Look, 173 first of all, at the effect upon the life of the nation. I quite admit, as the last speaker has said, that there is probably a considerable amount of money which could he attracted by these Premium Bonds which we should all be glad to have, and which, perhaps, could not be attracted in any other way. That is quite possible. But you have to consider what price you would pay in order to se-cure that additional sum of money. That is the question. Looking at it, as I do, not as a moral question, not as a question of right or wrong, I am bound to put to the House a kind of argument which I dislike very much, and which it is difficult to put without offence. It has been pointed out by the last speaker and many others that the Government, by adopting this principle in their Victory Bonds, have given away the whole right to object to it in Premium Bonds. That is the case. That really is not true. There are many cases where a difference of degree is essentially a difference of kind, and this is one of those cases. If these Premium Bonds were adopted, I believe this would happen. Members of the Stock Exchange, chambers of commerce, and Royal Exchanges would take part in them. That would not have any bad moral effect. They are accustomed to dealing with this kind of thing. They weigh all the chances. They do not expect to get a prize. They hardly hope to get a prize. They look upon it as an off-chance, and if it does not come off they write it off and there is no more to be said about it. I took all the little I was able to take in the last Loan in Victory Bonds. It was not the chance of drawing that attracted me. It was a gamble, I admit. It was the fact that these bonds were to be taken at par in payment of Death Duties. That was a gamble, but it depends on the time you die. If I were going to live to be as old as M. Clemenceau, it would have been better business to get £80 Bonds, but I had to look to the average chance of life at my age. It is not a question of the lower orders or the working class against other classes. It is a question of experience in financial matters. The only way to get a larger sum of money by this means is not by appealing to the 2½ per cent. rate of interest, but by appealing to the element of chance. Does anyone believe that a great number of people who have not been accustomed to financial transactions will not go into it with the hope and almost the expectation of 174 getting a prize, and by that means will you not create a fever, of which there is no danger when you a-re dealing with a class of more experience?
Look at another aspect of it. It will reduce the amount in our savings banks. The whole basis of the argument is that this is going to be so attractive that people will be proud to put their money into it. If so, they will naturally take out the money which they have in savings banks and put it into this loan. They are almost bound to do it. The hon. Member (Mr. Bottomley) said that would be a good thing, because you would turn a short-term loan into a funded loan. I noticed recently a letter in the "Times," signed by a banker, which seemed to me one of the best arguments I have seen. He said you would have to make it that anyone who wanted his money back again would have to be paid before the draw, and obviously that would be necessary if you are to encourage thrift, because, clearly, the one thing that men with small means want when they put aside their savings is to be able to get them when they need them. If you do not give that certainty you do not give them an attractive investment. Therefore, if that plan were adopted that argument would not apply. But there is more than that. If this issue succeeds you not only take away the money from the savings banks, but do something which I think is a great deal worse. These savings banks have grown up over a prolonged period and represent a habit of thrift among the people, and I believe if the money were once taken away from that channel you would find it would not return to it after the fever passed away.
Then look at the other channel that would be tapped—the War Savings Certificates. The hon. Member told us that these were raised to a considerable extent by something in the principle of a lottery. I was not aware of that. Prizes were given, and as I understood it, the workmen contributed small sums to make up the certificate, and the drawing was simply who would get the first allotment. The element of lottery did not enter into it to anything like the extent suggested.
It is true—and it is one of the things of which this country has to be proud—that it was the call of patriotism which induced people to go in for this system of saving on a large scale. The habit created, then has continued, and to-day we 175 are getting something like £1,500,000 weekly in these War Savings Certificates now that the War is over. That is a great thing, and we ought to be slow to do anything to risk it. If it were the ease that you could get this new money without interfering with the old habits everybody would be in favour of it, but does any hon. Member really think that the two systems of Premium Bonds and War Savings Certificates could go on side by side? I am sure they could not. You would find that Premium Bonds would destroy the habit of the War Savings Certificate. That seems to be inevitable. But you have to take something else into consideration. You have to take into consideration the fact that in starting these War Savings Certificates we have had the help of a very large number of enthusiastic people, who have devoted themselves to it wholeheartedly. There are something like 40,000 War Savings Associations—at any rate it is a very large number—all over the country. At the time when this question was first brought forward, and when the Committee sat, which went very closely into the matter, I was chairman of that Committee, and I was told—and I believe it is to a certain extent true to-day—that if you start these Premium Bonds you would so thoroughly divide these War Savings Associations that you would cease to get the help from them which we have got. More than that, the Committee, in their Report, pointed that out and that it would probably be neessary to have some other channel by which to get Premium Bonds if you were to leave the others alive at all.
I quite agree, and it may be a great exaggeration to say that all these evils of gambling are going to arise if we make this experiment. That may be an exaggeration, but there are many people who are helping us now in raising money by War Savings Certificates, and no part of their work is more useful that that which they are carrying on in the schools, because it gives us a chance of bringing a different spirit into the new generation. We have to take into account the risk we run of destroying all these agencies by starting a new method of raising money. It was said by one of the hon. Members for Glasgow that the working men have such a drab life that we ought to do anything to encourage them, and that Premium Bonds would do that. He did a very dangerous thing. He talked of what he called the 176 experience of medical science and what he called moral science. He told us that he wished to use this patriotic form of taking risks in order to kill the virus of a worse kind of gambling, that of horse-racing. Is it quite certain that that would be the result? Is there not great danger that it would have just the opposite effect—that when you had encouraged people to go in for Premium Bonds by holding out the chance of prizes, it is very likely that they would then try their hands at some other kind of chance? I think that I would be inclined to take that line.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out one of the principal difficulties was the advertising of these bonds. My hon. Friend referred to the advertisements that were circulated in connection with previous Loans. I was responsible for two of them, and I was helped by two gentlemen who understood the way of reaching the public far better than I, but they watched very carefully and I watched that the advertisements were not of a kind that could be in any sense misleading. My hon. Friend tells me that we need no advertisements at all, that the man who gets the prize will be himself an advertisement. but that will not be true unless somebody advertises that he has got the prize.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The fact that it is free does not alter them advertisement. Suppose that the advertisement took this form, "You will get for your money 2½ per cent., and at a certain time you will get it all back, and, in addition to this, you have a chance, one in 2,000 or 3,000, of gaining a prize of some kind, and one in 10,000 of getting a big prize. If the advertisement took that form, do you think you would get people to subscribe? I do not think so. I think that you would have co advertise it on the basis of the chance of getting a big prize. If I began to count the chances, and had got into the habit of trying to make a little on my money, I am convinced, though I know nothing about horse racing like my hon. Friend, that if I found that the odds against winning in horse racing were not 2,000 or 3,000 to one, but were much lower, I would be more inclined to think I had a chance of getting something if I put my money on horses rather than on Premium Bonds. In addition, my hon. Friend, who understands 177 horse racing, knows that in Premium Bonds it is pure chance—you cannot flatter yourself that winning is due to skill or anything of that sort—but I am told by people who go in for horse racing that by some mysterious manner, known only to themselves, they think that by their skill they can spot the winner.
I am not dogmatic about it—not in the least. For a long time I was rather inclined to think that this was a good thing, but I will tell the House why I did not do it. It came up when the War was on—and this, to my mind, is one of the strongest arguments against it—and I had to look at it from the existing point of view. No one can pretend for a moment that by this means you can get a large enough sum of money to make any great difference in the depressing picture of our financial position which was painted. I agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is a great pity that that picture should be painted too black. It is not so bad at all as many speeches and many newspapers have tried to make us believe. I am myself convinced that the moment the country is really satisfied that there will be no more borrowing it will not be very difficult to get our Floating Debt funded. In my belief that is the one way by which we, can reduce the inflation from which we, like all other countries, are suffering. After all, the Bank Rate varies; it is high now, it may be lower, though I do not prophesy. I have not any doubt that when the country is satisfied there will be no more borrowing we shall not have any difficulty in funding our Floating Debt. The moment that is done we have the chance of getting back to a sound financial position.
I will tell the House why, during the War, it was thought that we ought not to encourage this form of raising money. A great many people came to see me. I saw my hon. Friend, who has made a strong speech in favour of this proposal— he was a member of this Committee—and I told him I had come to the conclusion that I could not carry it out during the War. There is a very large number of people—you may think them very foolish—who look upon this matter not as a question of what will pay the nation best, but as a question of what is right or wrong. They may be quite wrong; I think they are. But there was no doubt whatever that while the War lasted, if we had carried through this proposal, we would have had against us a most powerful section of the community, and we would 178 have run the risk, at a time when I think it would have been absolute folly to do it, of dividing the country, not merely on the financial proposal, but in the wholeheartedness for carrying on the War. That made me turn the proposal down then.
Does not the same argument apply from the financial point of view now? Look at it from the point of view or raising money. The figures given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed that in the case of the 1917 Loan, when patriotism was at the highest possible point, and everybody was desirous of helping, of the £1,300,000,000 the Post Office subscribed only £38,000,000. You cannot get large sums of money in that way. Among those who, rightly or wrongly—wrongly, as I think—look upon this as a religious question, are very many who have it in their power greatly to assist the Government in raising Loans. There is no doubt about it. I am sure there is hardly a Member Who does not agree that if we carried through this proposal they will not only not help us with Premium Bonds, but will sulk at other Loans, and from the financial point of view I am convinced that we shall lose more than we shall gain in money. I can assure my hon. Friend who spoke last that if the House decides, in the clear way he indicated, that it wishes this scheme tried, the fact that my right hon. Friend is against it will not prevent his trying to carry it out to the best of his ability.
That leads me to say why it is left to the decision of the House. It is obvious that if it were, or if we had thought it, a question of right or wrong, we could not have done it; we could not have made ourselves the instrument for carrying it out. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University thought it was very wrong of us and was a sign of the demoralisation of the Government, and when we are willing to leave a question like this to the free vote of the House the same Noble Lord, whom I heard not so long ago upbraiding us because we did not treat the House of Commons with respect, is just as little pleased as he was then. The semi-religious aspect on the part of some Members reminded me of the saying, "We have piped onto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.'' My Noble Friend hinted that we did not take the responsibility on us because we were afraid of an adverse vote. I can assure my Noble Friend he is mistaken. 179 Perhaps those who have never been on this bench might be hard to convince, though I do not think we are so very anxious, after the long spell we have had of it, as to be influenced by that consideration. It is not that, but this. I discussed it with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I said to him, "If we put on the Whips we will be told if it had been left to the free vote of the House there would have been a different decision." We want to have it ended one way or the other. Why should we not leave it to the House of Commons? It is not a question like that we had on Monday, when it was a point of administration, and we could not see our way to administer the Department if a certain vote were taken. We are quite Prepared to carry out the wishes of the House in this matter if the House so decides and the House has the final responsibility. It is finally responsible, and my belief is, and experience has shown in this Parliament, when we put it to the House of Commons, if they have before them the same considerations
§ which have influenced us, they will come to the same conclusion to which we have come. That is my experience. If they do not I will not say they are not as likely to be right as we are, but I do say that it is not only the members of the Government who are responsible. The Members of the House of Commons have a responsibility too, and when we leave this, as we do now, to the free decision of the House of Commons, I ask every Member who is going to give his vote to put himself in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say, "If I were Chancellor of the Exchequer would I carry out this proposal or not?" If hon. Members do that I have no doubt as to what the decision will be.
That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the Government should make an issue of Investment and Premium Bonds, tax free, and redeemable at a fixed period with compound interest, a. certain number of such bonds being drawn at intervals and paid off with a premium or prize attached, the details of each issue to be settled by the Treasury.
§ The House divided; Ayes, 84; Noes, 276.181
|Division No. 140.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Greer, Harry||Nelson, R. F. W. R.|
|Ashley, Col. Wilfred W.||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E.(B. St. E.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gwynne, R. S.||Norton-Griffiths, Lt.-Col. Sir J.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Bell, Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton||Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.)||Rankin, Capt. James S.|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Blane, T. A.||Hoare, Lt.-Colonel Sir Samuel J. G.||Renwick, G.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Rogers, Sir Hallewell|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Hudson, R. M.||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hume-Williams, Sir Wm. Ellis||Scott. Sir S. (Marylebone)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Johnson, L. S.||Smith, Sir Allan|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Knights, Captain H.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Lort-Williams, J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Craig, Captain Charles C. (Antrim)||Lowe, Sir F. W.||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts)|
|Croft, Brig.-General Henry Page||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Lyon, L.||Willey, Lt.-Col. F. V.|
|Dennis, J. W.||Macmaster, Donald||Wilson, J. H. (South Shields)|
|Dockrell, Sir.M.||Macquisten, F. A.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Fell. Sir Arthur||Manville, Edward||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mocre-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Younger, Sir George|
|Gibbs, Colonel John Abraham||Morden, Colonel H. Grant|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mosley, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Bottomley and Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Benn, Capt W. (Leith)|
|Adamson, Rt. Han. William||Balfour, Sir Robert (Partick)||Bennett, T. J.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Barlow, Sir Montagu (Salford, S.)||Bethell, Sir John Henry|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Birchall, Major J D.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Barnston, Major H.||Bird, Alfred|
|Allen, Colonel William James||Barrand, A. R.||Blades, Sir George R.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Bramsden, Sir T.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Breese, Major C. E.|
|Briant, F.||Henderson, Maj. V. L. (Tradeston, Glas)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx)|
|Bridgman, William Clive||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Briggs, Harold||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Perring, William George|
|Britton, G. B.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hinds, John||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Hirst, G. H.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Pownall, Lt.-Colonel Assheton|
|Buckley, Lt.-Colonel A.||Hogge, J. M.||Pratt, John William|
|Burden, Col. Rowland||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Purchase, H. G.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Hurd, P. A.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Cairns, John||Hurst, Major G. B.||Rees, Captain J. Tuder (Barnstaple)|
|Campoelt, J. G. D.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Randall, Athelstan|
|Cape, Tom||Inskip, T. W. H.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peckham)|
|Carr, W. T.||Irving, Dan||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Casey, T. W.||Jephcott, A. R.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jesson, C.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Jodrell, N. P.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.A. (Birm., W.)||Johnstone, J.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|chilcott, Lieut.-Com. H. W. S.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Rowlands, James|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kenyon, Barnet||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Cery, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Kiley, James Daniel||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||King, Commander Douglas||Seager, Sir William|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc)||Knight, Captain E. A.||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Right Hon. John|
|craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir.J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Shaw. Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Shortt, Rt, Hon. E. (N'castlo-on T., W.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Lawson, John||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Crewe)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Starkey, Capt. John Ralph|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Lonsdale, James R.||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Donald, T.||Lunn, William||Sugden, W. H.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Lynn, R. J.||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||M'Donald, Dr. B. F. P. (Wallasey)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath)||M'Guffin, Samuel||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Eniwistle, Major C. F.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Thomsen, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Falcon, Captain M.||M'Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Tootill, Robert|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Forrest, W.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Waddington, R.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wallace, J.|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Matthews, David||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Gange, E. S.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wardle, George J.|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Mildmay, Col. Rt. Hon. Francis B.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Moles, Thomas||Waterson, A. E.|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Bas'gst'ke)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Watson, Captains John Bertrand|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Morris, Richard||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Wheler, Colonel Granville. C. H.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Whitla, Sir William|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wigan, Brig.-General Sir Tyson|
|Cray, Major E.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Gregory, Holman||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Neal, Arthur||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Newbould, A. E||Wills. Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Guest, Capt. Hon. F. E. (Dorset. E.)||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Wintrey, Sir Richard|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Wood, Maj. Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hancock, John George||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Hanna, G. B.||O'Connor, T. P.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hanson, Sir Charles||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, William (Porth and Kinross)|
|Hartshorn, V.||Parry, Lt.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Haslam, Lewis||Pearce, Sir William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir F.|
|Hayday, A.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Banbury and Mr. G. Thorne.|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.