Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, of the Agricultural Wages Board, of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and of the Food Production Department, including certain Grants in Aid.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
On a point of Order. May I ask whether it would be in order on this Vote to discuss the question of wheat prices? I notice that in the details of heading S. 1 there is a reference to "minimum prices of wheat and oats." The next Vote to be taken, I understand, is the Bread Subsidy Vote, and naturally the Committee will not want to have two discussions. I thought, therefore, I would put it to you as a point of Order on which of these two Votes, if either, the discussion on wheat prices would be in order?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)
May I say a word on the point of Order? This sub-head S. 1 refers entirely to certain steps taken in connection with the wheat prices of last year. I submit, therefore, it would not be in order to discuss any announcement made or any steps that have been taken in connection with wheat prices in the present year.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it is clear with regard to the first Vote, that is, this Supplementary Vote for the Ministry of Agriculture, that there is no opening for a discussion on what I understand to be the hon. Member's point—the recent announcement with regard to the future prices to be paid to the home growers of wheat. That is the point?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think there would be any opening on this first Vote. With regard to the Vote which stands second, namely, that of the bread subsidy, it might be argued there that the different policy with regard to home-grown wheat would, or might, make the application for this Supplementary sum unnecessary.
§ 4.0 P.M.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to make a general statement as to the Supplementary Vote, and the reason why it has' been necessary for us to come to the House for a Supplementary Vote at all. This is a large Vote, amounting to £809,000, and it extends practically over the whole sphere of financial services. It is indeed only in form what is called a Token Vote in the sense that we only ask for £10, and we do not really require any more money for services. What we do want is the authority of Parliament to spend on our services a saving which will be effected under other sub-heads. For that reason we have to put down what is called a Token Vote, and to come here and get the authority of Parliament. It may be asked, very naturally, how it comes that in the case of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries the amount that we require shows such a great discrepancy from our original Estimate. I agree that the sum of £809,800 is a very large Supplementary Estimate, certainly far bigger than anything that has ever before occurred in the history of the Ministry; but our original Estimates were framed immediately after the Armistice, before the nature of our services had been decided, and before the policy of reconstruction had been decided, or indeed before much of it had been thought about. That is particularly true with regard to land settlement as it is generally known. It was understood in a vague way that steps were to be taken to facilitate settling ex-service men upon the land, but the particular steps to be taken had not been decided in any way when the Estimates were framed. It was only in August last year, when the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act was passed that those steps were definitely settled, and it was impossible for us to include in our original Estimate any figures which would really represent the work that we should be called upon to carry out in connection 1133 with that great scheme. Therefore it is absolutely necessary, as regards that and many other matters of policy, that we should come here for money for expenditure which could not have been foreseen at the time that the Estimates were framed. I will, very briefly, touch upon the various sub-heads, and, if any hon. Member wishes for any further information, I will endeavour to give it to the best of my ability. One of these subheads deals with an entirely new service. It is sub-head S. 1, Salaries and Fees of Inspectors of Crops, Assessors and other staff appointed temporarily for the purposes of Part 1 of the Corn Production Act, 1917. Under that Act it was proposed to guarantee the prices of wheat and oats. If the average price for the seven months commencing 1st September in any year fell below the guaranteed price, then the State made up the difference with a grant. It was to be done, not by taking the whole yield of the crop, but on an acreage basis, it being assumed that on the average four quarters of wheat and five quarters of oats would be grown to the acre.
It is perfectly clear, if the State is to pay what it is due to pay, that it must have a correct return of acreage; otherwise, the State may be called upon to pay a great deal more than it ought to pay. Therefore, we thought, that it was necessary carefully to check the returns that were made of the acreage of the various cereal crops. It was not thought necessary to correct the returns in 1918, because it was perfectly obvious that there was not the slightest chance of the prices falling below the guarantee. My Noble Friend (Lord Ernie), by a statement made in November, 1918, practically raised the guaranteed price of wheat from 55s. to 71s. 11d., and the guaranteed price of oats from 32s. to 44s. 1d. He also included barley and rye. After we had promised that these prices should be guaranteed instead of the prices in the Act, there was a period when it looked very probable, both in the case of wheat and of oats, that the price might drop below the guarantee. I remember the long discussions that took place at the Board of Agriculture. It was thought very likely that there might be a break in the price of wheat, and that it might come down below 71s. 11d., in which case the State would have been called upon to pay a 1134 very large sum. There was a similar fear with regard to oats. About a year ago it appeared probable that there would be a large importation of maize. That maize would have taken the place of oats for feeding stock, and the chances were that the price of oats would have fallen below the guarantee. There was a time when we estimated at the Board that under these new guarantees given by Lord Ernie the State might be called upon to pay anything from £10,000,000 to £20,000,000.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have given the figure. In the Act it was 32s. for the Imperial quarter, and the guarantee promise by Lord Ernie was 44s. I quite agree that the fall did not take place, though, in the opinion of our best expert advisers, it was thought likely that it would fall below the guarantee and that we might be called upon to pay for a very much larger acreage than actually existed. Therefore, we appointed a number of inspectors to verify the returns of acreage. Altogether, we appointed one thousand. Of course, they were purely temporary appointments. They were each paid £100 and on the average they each verified 6,100 acres and dealt with about 240 holdings. I am glad to say that they proved that the returns that had been made by the growers were on the whole substantially accurate and that no attempt had been made to defraud the State. I am very glad to make that statement, because frequently I hear hon. Members of this House and people outside bringing wholesale charges against farmers as profiteers, and so on. Here was an opportunity which they might have used had they had the desire, but they did not use it because the returns were marvellously accurate. It is quite true that the work did not bear any absolute direct fruit, because, owing to circumstances over which we had no control and which we could not foresee, the prices never fell below the guarantee, and therefore the payments never had to be made by the State. We did; however, obtain a great deal of very useful information, and, if we are charged with having spent 1135 money unnecessarily, I would point out that the amount placed at our disposal by the Treasury was £200,000 and we only spent £130,000. I know that some hon. Members have criticised us, not for making the appointments, but for making wrong appointments; but, when you are appointing one thousand inspectors in a very short time, it is not surprising if you make one or two mistakes. At all events in every case we took the advice of the Local Agricultural Executive Committee. We could not do otherwise. We could not pretend to know, sitting in an office in London, what were the qualifications of these people. We took the best advice that we could, and personally I was surprised at the small number of complaints regarding the selections that we made. That accounts for this particular item, which is an entirely new service, and I think the expenditure was justified as a measure of precaution under the circumstances which existed at that time.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
They were appointed in May, and they did their work in June and July. I now come to the other sub-head, all of which deal with services in respect of which we are asking for more money. I take Item A, Salaries, Wages and Allowances, £105,500. In the first place, the additional war bonus accounts for £46,000 or nearly half, and in regard to the rest £10,000 is due to extra costs in connection with the Corn Production Act. It represents the central staff which was used to check these returns of which I have just spoken and the cerical staff necessary for informing the farmers that they were entitled to the guarantees if the prices fell below them. The next item, £5,000, is for the Farm Colonies Act, under which we have been setting up farm colonies all over the country for the settlement of ex-service men. There is a further item of £14,500 for the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, which, of course, was an entirely new service and necessitated extra staff, commissioners, sub-commissioners, architects and others. That expenditure could not have been foreseen, because that Act did not pass until August, 1919.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
It must go on for some years. It is quite possible that the figure may grow temporarily and then diminish. There is an enormous amount of work being done, and, if we did not carry out that work, we should be justly blamed by the House. As a matter of fact, that particular figure is for the central staff. All this has thrown upon the Ministry a great strain, which has involved another figure of £30,000 for additional temporary staff.
The Committee, I am sure, will wish to know something about what has been done in the matter of land settlement, and why we are asking for this extra money. We appointed additional commissioners and sub-commissioners, architects and others, and I think I may say we have made substantial progress. The total number of applications by ex-service men for small holdings was 31,000, and by civilians 11,000. Of the ex-service men, 18,000 of the applicants have been approved and 7,000 are waiting. We have actually settled up to date on farms and small holdings 4,334 ex-service men and 872 civilians, and when you consider that the Act only became law last August, that up to recently the purchase of land for this purpose had been stopped, and that it takes much time to carry out a settlement of this kind, I do not think it is a bad record, when we have already settled so many. In addition we have settled ex-service men upon our own farm colonies to the number of 465, including 13 women who rendered good service in agricultural labour during the War.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am not sure that I have that figure. I will gladly give it to the hon. and gallant Member privately. As regards the land acquired, 194,071 acres have been acquired. That is not an unsatisfactory record, I think. We have often been charged with allowing high payments to be made for the land. The average cost of the land acquired by the county councils for small holdings is £43 an acre. Before the War the average cost of the land was £34 an acre. Having regard to the manner in which everything else has gone up, I do not think we have been paying excessive prices. Com- 1137 ing to the Small Holdings Account (additional contributions to the Small Holdings Account), there has been provided for the purchase of equipment and farms under the Farm Colonies Act a sum of £217,000. Why do we ask for that additional sum! I may explain that in the original Farm Colonies Act we were only allowed either to hire land on lease or to buy it by an annuity. Under the Land Settlement Act of last summer, we were allowed to buy for farm colonies the land for cash, and this enabled us to buy a large amount of additional land for farm colonies which has been exceedingly suitable. We had only four farms, Patrington, Holdbeach, Pembury and Heath Hill. We have acquired ten additional farms with 14,000 additional acres, and we have paid for this land an average price of £28 10s. an acre, which is very satisfactory. We may be asked, why are we doing this when the county councils are carrying on their land settlement schemes as well? The answer is that there are many men who find it easier, or who prefer, to go to a farm colony rather than to have small holdings where they would be without help or support. We have got these colonies and have already got 465 men settled upon them. There is a central farm which supplies machinery, buys for them, and does their marketing and helps them in every conceivable way. Around the central holding are the small holdings which are cut off and let to these men. Another type of farm colony is entirely co-operative, a co-operative farm on which the men who work there are shareholders and take their share in the profits. Both these systems are working well and both are popular. In the ease of men who do not care to start small holdings entirely on their own it is a very useful system, and one which I think should be encouraged.
In respect of the extra land which we have bought for farm colonies we are asking for this £217,000. But I should explain that it really imposes no extra charge upon the State, for this reason, the Treasury under the Land Settlement Act has allowed £17,250,000 for the purchase and equipment of small holdings to be paid by the Public Works Loan Commissions and by them advanced to the county councils. We receive the money for the farm colonies that we buy out of the Small Holdings Fund, and whatever 1138 we get from the small holdings account is set off against that £17,250,000. In other words the more we pay the less they buy, the more we spend the less they spend, and therefore, though we are asking for this extra £217,000 for the small holdings account, it is really a deduction from the £17,250,000 which would be otherwise issued by the Treasury to the county councils for the purchase and equipment of small holdings. Then we come to Vote E, which has regard to agricultural and dairy education and there is £252,000 for maintenance grant and other expenses of the training in agriculture of demobilised officers and men. That is really not an additional sum which concerns this Ministry directly; it is work we have undertaken and which falls upon our Vote at the request of, and on behalf of, the Ministries of Pensions and Labour. Under the Royal Pensions Warrant, soldiers, sailors and airmen who had been unfitted by disablement and wounds from taking up their old occupations, are entitled to got training in some other useful occupation, and the Ministry of Pensions, when I was at that office, used to undertake the training itself. The men during the training received an allowance equal to the pensions at the highest rate, and separation allowance.
This duty of training was handed over by the Ministry of Pensions to the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Labour now provides the industrial training, but as regards agricultural training it was considered that the Ministry of Agriculture was obviously the proper body to do it, and therefore it was handed over to us. But it is not part of our regular work; it is work from other Departments. The Committee may be anxious to know the extent of that work. We have two schemes, one dealing with officers, and the other with men, in each case disabled. Taking officers first, the number in training on the 1st October, 1919, when we took it over, was 67. We have placed in training 90. Six have left on completion of the course, and eight have given up training for other reasons, and there are 143 in training now. With regard to the men, the number in training on the 5th August, 1919, was 503. We have since placed in training 1,384; 213 have left on completion of the course and 221 have given up training for other reasons, and 1139 there are now 1,453 in training. I think that is a most important duty, and a duty owed by the State to these gallant men who have suffered by the War and cannot go back to their own occupation. It has been placed upon our Ministry although it is no part of our regular duties, but we have gladly undertaken it, and we are obliged to ask for the money.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
No; but we are dealing with that on a large scale. We are not asking for money for that to-day. We now come to the heads BE and CC, which is a sum of £85,000 for the purchase of seed wheat and seed oats and resale of fertilisers and transport. At the close of the War it was felt that the Board should take care that certain necessary articles should be available for farmers, and we purchased this seed wheat, seed oats, seed potatoes, potash and other fertilisers in order to secure a supply, and we re-sold them to the farmers at about cost price. I am not asking for any more money there, but I have to show why this is the amount which occurs in the current year's Vote. The system has now been wound up and will not occur again. Then there was a fertilisers distribution and transport schemes. We took steps to see that there was a fair and proper distribution of the fertilisers during the War. In order to economise transport the Ministry arranged for the distribution of these fertilisers at a uniform charge throughout the country. In the cases where the carriage paid by the manufacturer was more than 12s. 6d. per ton, the Ministry paid him the difference. Where the cost was less than 12s. 6d. a ton the manufacturer paid the difference to the Ministry. The scheme applies only to transactions up to the 31st May, 1919. The only reason why I am obliged to come and ask for this sum of money is that a large number of the accounts remain over for settlement from the last financial year. The scheme really was entirely self-supporting, and has come to an end.
1140 Now I come to Item CC, that is, additional grants for farming operations undertaken by Committees under Regulations 2 M of the Defence of the Realm Act. Under that Regulation, in cases where there was shockingly bad cultivation, Agricultural Executive Committees were ordered, after due warning to the occupier, to enter on the farm and cultivate it themselves. That was done in a considerable number of cases, but in order that the Agricultural Executive Committees should be in a position to do this work it was necessary that they should have the use of tractors and a certain amount of agricultural machinery. During the War and for some months afterwards they used tractors which belonged to the Ministry, nominally on a payment. As soon as the Armistice was concluded we proceeded to demobilise the tractor scheme, and, as Appropriations-in-Aid show, we practically sold all our tractors and machinery at a very good price. County Councils have been compelled to purchase sufficient machinery to enable them to carry on their operations for a short time longer instead of hiring. As we were selling all our stuff, it was necessary for them to retain a certain amount. We found them the money to buy the machinery, and, of course, they pay the money back to us. But I have to show it, because it is a reduction on the sum we should otherwise have received from the sale of our machinery. The money is going to be used only for machinery, tractors, ploughs, and so on, used by Executive Committees to cultivate, that land which they have in hand. The amount of land they have in hand is comparatively small, only 10,000 acres, because, in the great majority of eases, they have been able to arrange with land owners to find a new and suitable tenant. It is only where it has been impossible to find a new and suitable tenant that they have taken over the land. But they must have the machinery, and it is very much better that they should retain a certain amount of machinery which we should otherwise sell rather than buy fresh machinery or hire other machinery.
I have covered practically every one of the sub-heads of expenditure. There are very large Appropriations-in-Aid. These really cover the whole of our additional cost. The Appropriations-in-Aid are of two characters. First, there is a large 1141 saving, £250,000, on sub-head Z, tractor ploughs. Since the Armistice we have practically closed down that business and we effected that large saving. Then there is the still larger amount, £474,790, additional money which we realised by the sale of tractors and the rest of the machinery. We had estimated that we should receive in a matter of these sales £1,113,000, and we have received £474,790 more, and I am glad to say the whole of this machinery has been sold to a great advantage. The prices realised were excellent, and it has also been sold locally so that in nearly every case farmers in the neighbourhood had the opportunity of buying; and although it may be objected that this is using capital money in order to defray revenue expenditure—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
We are utilising what we can realise from the sale of surplus stock purchased during the War to defray special War expenditure which never would have been incurred unless there had been a war. All this expenditure on tractor ploughing, and so on, would never have been thought of but for the War, and it is only right and proper we should use the surplus we have received to pay what was a special expenditure incurred during the War. I have ranged over a wide area. So many topics are ranged by this Vote, and I apologise to the House if I have occupied an undue amount of their time. I have been trying to show that this work has been necessary and that scarcely one of those items could possibly have been foreseen at the time the Estimates were originally drafted. I hope, therefore, the Committee will consider that we have been endeavouring to carry out a large number of additional duties in as efficient and economic a way as possible, and that the Committee will readily agree to the Supplementary Vote.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I think the Committee must have been rather alarmed at the prospect, or lack of prospect, of anything approaching real economy in this Department. Hon. Members will see this striking fact, that the original Estimate last year amounted to £1,259,600, and the additional sum required as the result of miscalculation is no loss than £809,800, more than half the original Estimate. I do not wonder that my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Boscawen) 1142 has ranged over these Estimates. It was a very necessary thing to have some explanation of them. The very first item which leaps to my mind as requiring considerable investigation by the Committee is the sum which was paid under the Grain Production Act of 1917 of no less than £130,000. I do not think that is the whole of the story, because, under A, Salaries, Wages and Allowances, there is an additional sum of £30,000 for a temporary clerical staff. A very large proportion of that, I assume, was required for carrying out this inspection under Sub-head F1 of the Corn Production Act of 1917. I should like to know if my right hon. Friend can tell the Committee how much of that additional £30,000 should be added to the £130,000, to know exactly what the cost to the country was of this inspection. I am not an expert in these matters, but I should have thought it would have been quite open to the Department to bring into operation the assistance of county councils; but apparently their decision was taken very quickly. Some investigation took place probably in April. My right hon. Friend tells us that these appointments were made in May and the work was done in June and July. I heard an interjection from an hon. Member opposite that some of the inspectors did not know the difference between rye and oats. This was done with great haste. The Department launched into nothing short of a huge expenditure with apparently very little consideration of how the country's money could be saved by utilising the official organisation in the various towns.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I do not suppose they could, but they have an immense amount of information at their disposal. Surely something could have been done in that way. Everybody knew how the prices of corn were soaring. Some expert information was given which suddenly alarmed the Department and they rushed out and appointed a thousand inspectors, resulting in a charge to the country, for information which, apparently, was not needed, of well over £130,000, if you bring in the clerical staff and the additional war bonus which was paid. Whatever may be said about the efficiency of the Ministry of Agriculture, at least they were doing themselves very well as far as 1143 expenditure was concerned on their staff and on the whole organisation. I hope that other Members who are more qualified than I am to deal with these matters will investigate these sub-heads very closely, and I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend will frankly give all the information he has at his disposal. Here I think we have a clear example of how the cry for economy which has been ringing through the country all these months has been met. This Department, I presume, has also been served with the Prime Minister's famous letter. What savings have been effected? As far as I have been able to understand from the perusal of the Estimates themselves or from my right hon. Friend's statement, this Department has not in any way met the demand the country is making on all Departments.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has very rightly drawn the attention of the Committee to the very bad Estimate made by the Board of Agriculture. The increase on the original Estimates is 75 per cent., which is an enormous increase, especially in view of the fact that there is a general desire, that, however good the object on which the money is to be spent, that we must first of all consider, not whether the object is good, but whether we have the money to finance it. I do not see that the Board of Agriculture has thought of that at all. They seem rather to have been inclined to say: "Here is a good object, let us go and spend money on it." We are indebted to my right hon. Friend, (Sir A. Boscawen) for the very clear statement he made as to the various items. He excuses himself from taking capital to defray revenue expenditure by saying it was on a good object, and that the War had something to do with it. From time immemorial, whenever a spendthrift has got through his patrimony in order to find means of gratifying his extravagances, he has always found a good reason for it.
As the world goes on good reasons will always be found, but that is not an excuse, especially for the Government doing what is absolutely wrong at the present time when we have this enormous burden of debt—taking what is really capital and using it as revenue.
I should like to say a few words about these inspectors who were appointed at a 1144 cost of £130,000. They were appointed in May, and did most of their work in June and July. I know one case where they came in September, after the corn had been cut. In fact they did not come because the corn had been cut, and they were told it was no use coming. They did not come anyhow. If they had they could not have told whether it was or was not a fine crop. What was the reason for making these appointments? My hon. and gallant Friend said in the summer of last year, there was a general idea that corn prices would come down.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As these men we know were appointed in May or June, surely that idea about the prices coming down had rather evaporated. My recollection of what took place was that there was a general fear amongst farmers, not that prices would decline in this particular year, but that in two or three years there would be a fall, and that they, therefore, did not care to increase, or to maintain, their present acreage unless they knew there was to be a guaranteed price for a certain number of years. Therefore, there was no particular reason for appointing these persons to see whether or not the farmer was cheating—because that is what it comes to. But the Board of Agriculture did not only appoint these inspectors to see that the farmers did not make false returns, but they spent more money on other people to check the inspectors, to see, I suppose, if their returns were correct. I do not see what was the use of this double check. May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman a few questions on the letter he has, I suppose, received from me? Has he got it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Well, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will receive a letter from me, and in it I have taken the opportunity of putting a few questions to him. I will put those questions now, and if I am not quite correct in my memory of the letter, which I only myself received this morning, he will forgive me. My hon. and gallant Friend referred to Item CC. He said it was necessary to spend an increased sum—£50,000—which 1145 was required for the cultivation of farms which the War Agricultural Committees—I think they are now called the County Agricultural Executive Committees—had taken over. He went on to say that the acreage of these various farms is about 10,000. In a majority of cases, he said, the Committees which had taken over these farms had been able to find suitable tenants, but not in every case. But is it wise for this Committee to grant this further sum of £50,000 in view of the fact that in many cases the Committees have not acted wisely, and certainly they have acted very harshly. A case I want to mention is that of the owner of a farm of about 230 acres. He had his farm taken from him in 1917, and has never received a single farthing. If my information be correct, at the present moment the authorities refuse to give him back his farm, and are pretending to cultivate it by getting one or two neighbouring farmers to go in and do a little when they have the time to spare. The letter is a very pathetic letter. I have not checked it, and, therefore, I do not know whether or not it is true, but the wife of the owner of this particular farm writes to me to say that she herself worked very hard during 1917. She cut 90 acres herself. She says that, notwithstanding this, that they have not had a single farthing of rent from the particular Executive Committee during the whole of that period. This is not an isolated case. I trust when he gets my letter he will investigate it. I hope that he will be able to do something in the way of putting right these injustices. I do not say there are many cases. Very likely, in the majority of cases, these Agricultural War Committees have done the right thing, but in many cases they have not, and in many cases they have been very tyrannical. We know the quotation aboutMan dressed in a little brief authority.He exercises it in a very wrong way sometimes. This is not the only case which has been brought to my knowledge. I hope hon. Members will support me when I say that a proper inquiry should be made into cases of this sort, and if it is found that the allegations are true, that steps should be taken to recompense these people.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
For the loss they have sustained. I understand from that interjection that my hon. and gallant Friend will look into the matter. I would only express the hope that when we have the Estimates for this year they will be drawn in such a way as will not make it necessary to have enormous Supplementary Estimates.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I would only say one word from the practical point of view about these inspectors. I really think the appointment was unnecessary, and an unnecessary expense. What were they to do? Not to check corn grown or harvested on any particular piece of land, but to check the acreage returns of the particular amount of corn grown on a particular area, and also, I presume, to see whether the land upon which that corn was grown was fairly well cultivated. A farmer claimed that he had grown 50 acres of cereals—wheat, oats, barley. What the inspectors had to do was to verify the fact that there were 50 acres of cereals, and that these acres were under proper cultivation. I suggest to the Board of Agriculture that it is quite impossible in June or July—of all months in the year—to judge that. It is not practicable to say how the land has been cultivated. If you desire to know that you must go when the crop is off the land. It would require a great expert to judge very much on the point. A far more economical and effective method to pursue in this matter would have been after the crop had been harvested, and if the Department heard that a fall in price was likely—and I am bound to say that the experts of the Board of Agriculture differed from the general agricultural opinion all over the country, and the fact that the Government had any idea that the price was likely to fall anywhere near the guaranteed price, so far as the minimum prices were concerned, has been made great play of both in this House and in the country—then to have looked into it. No farmer has ever had one penny piece out of the proposal and, in my opinion, never will. From the agricultural point of view I, for one, attach very little value to minimum prices, and to put inspectors on to discover whether or not the State was likely to be liable to pay this minimum price was unnecessary.
The Board of Agriculture should simply have said: "We do not know yet whether 1147 or not we are likely to have to pay anything under the guarantee, but if we have anything to pay, if any claims are made, we can perfectly well, after these claims are made, and immediately it is clear that there will be a claim, send down a representative to look at the land, if it is necessary, and ascertain whether or not the claim is a proper one. That would really have been the practical thing to do. If I had been liable as a landlord for a guarantee of that kind to my tenants, if I, under similar circumstances, had been obliged to guard myself against any possible fraud, that is the course I should have adopted. In the position in which the country is, that £130,000 an important sum—might have been saved. I do not blame my hon. and gallant Friend in the least, but I do think that the Board of Agriculture in this and in some other matters have been badly advised from the practical point of view, for what is really wanted is practical knowledge—somebody who knows and realises from everyday experience what a growing crop of corn is like. This action really follows an official theory as to liability, and therefore with that theory, according to the standards of a Government Office, they must send Government Inspectors, and follow up with other Inspectors to watch them. Under the circumstances in which we are dealing with a practical industry like agriculture, if that £130,000 could have gone into the industry to help wages or help the farmers to make both ends meet, it would have been a great deal better spent, for by admission of my hon. and gallant Friend it has been absolutely wasted.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROYCE
I should like to add my quota of censure in the matter of the cereal inspectors. I have been very much interested in that subject from the first inception of the idea by the Department, and I have put questions to the right hon. Gentleman of the purport of which he could have no doubt from very early days. People in my part of the country describe the proposed expenditure on cereal inspectors as profligate. I do not think the word is too strong under the circumstances. Reference has been made to the fact that they have not been of any practical value, but, perhaps, they have done one good service in verifying the statements of farmers with regard to the area of their crops. If, in that sense, 1148 they have tended to rehabilitate the agricultural community in the opinion of the country, it is something to the good. I am not going to quarrel with the appointment altogether, or with the work afterwards performed by these men, but I shall have something to say in a moment or two with regard to the quality of the men. I want to say that the work could have been performed by the agricultural committees without any cost to the Department, for the machinery was there and all the arrangements could easily have been made. But the Department decided to appoint inspectors, and to do what? To report on something like 67,000 acres of cereals; if it were true that they had to report on that area the work could have been done in a fortnight, and I would suggest further that the sum paid of £100 per inspector was altogether ridiculous and in excess of the value of the services rendered. Be it remembered that, in addition, the travelling expenses of these officials had to be paid.
One would have thought that the Board of Agriculture whose solicitude in the matter of discharged ex service men is so praiseworthy would not, as in this instance, have been so negligent as they proved to be when they sued their orders for the appointment of cereal inspectors. One would have imagined that their first thoughts would have turned in the direction of those who had served their country. But no such instructions were issued, and graziers and tinsmiths and all kinds of people were appointed to these posts without any special qualifications for the work. If it had been a question of requiring men with technical knowledge surely they would not have appointed the class of men they did. In my own part of the country they made a wonderful appointment. While there were a great many ex-service men capable of doing the work, and wanting a job, they appointed as a Corn Inspector a man who held the office of local Coal Controller, School Attendance Officer and a Controller of the Food Department, together with a few more appointments, and when I brought that fact to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman he excused the Department by saying that it had left the appointment to the local committees. That is not the way in which to do the business of the Board of Agriculture: it should be done by the Board itself.
1149 I was going to say something in the nature of a compliment to the right hon. Gentleman, but he is not taking this subject sufficiently seriously, and I shall therefore continue to censure him. It is a subject of very great importance. The Board have been negligent in their duties. While the Government is complaining of the action of hon. Members on these Benches who are associated with the trade unions, they themeselves, when they could have afforded employment for many ex-soldiers, have neglected to avail themselves of the opportunity. What an example of Government administration! Why were not the 1,000 inspectors who were appointed at a fee of £100 each, with travelling expenses, ex-service men? The right hon. Gentleman will find it rather difficult to answer that question. I will therefore not pursue it any further.
Now, may I turn to a rather brighter side! I, in common with everybody else, have been very much interested and have very much appreciated the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman as to the work already done by the Board in the matter of land settlement and small holdings. So far as I can gather, this section of the work of the Ministry of Agriculture has been carried out well. It might have been done, perhaps, a little more rapidly, but, then, I am quite conscious of the many difficulties with which the Department has to contend. I wish to compliment the Board of Agriculture in this connection, but, still, I hope that, while they are concentrating their energies upon this section of their work, and it is, perhaps, the most important work of all, they will not neglect another duty falling upon the Ministry which has been imposed upon them and expected of them in relation to agricultural communications. I am not going to deal with that now. I realise it is outside the question before the Committee. I am afraid I have seen some signs that the Ministry is falling from those high ideals with which we credited them when they started upon their career. But we hope they will still maintain those ideas. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will regard this as a word of warning or as a helpful suggestion. At any rate, he quite understands what I am referring to when I say I hope that the Board will not neglect their duties in respect of providing better means of com- 1150 munication You cannot establish farm colonies in out-of-the-way areas unless you look after the communication, and take steps to enable the holders of the farms to get their produce to market. Therefore, in the rush of his other duties, and they are many, which the right hon. Gentleman is called upon to perform, I trust he will not forget this very important question of communications.
I listened with a great deal of interest and sympathy to the remarks of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) with regard to the complaints made by those whose land has been taken over by the War Committees. It is a very difficult question, and I should like to support the right hon. Baronet in his desire that those people, if they have been badly used, should be compensated. But before pledging myself to the view that they have been badly used, I should prefer to have a full investigation. I have been connected with similar circumstances, and, probably, like charges have been levelled against the Committee of which I am a member. The circumstances were undoubtedly very difficult. The country demanded good cultivation, and when once a farm was taken over it became a very difficult thing to let it go. I believe the Committee with which I am associated has practically cleared up the whole of its business. There is, however, a point which should be borne in mind. After the strenuous work of the War, Committees are apt to get lax and to let things slide. I suggest the right hon. Gentleman should take all possible precautions to keep existing Committees in proper working order until the new Committees, which it is proposed to form, are in office. During this period grave injustices may occur. I know some that are possible, and I hope, therefore, the. Department will take steps to see that this is done. Generally speaking, I would like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the statement he has made, and, so far as this section of the House is concerned, upon the work he has accomplished in the settlement of soldiers on the land and in the work of providing small holdings, especially the latter, to satisfy the demand, which is very great indeed, on the part of ex-soldiers. So long as the Department will pursue this course it will have the support of the party with which I am associated.
§ Mr. MOUNT
I do not want to belabour my right hon. Friend with regard to the question of the Corn Inspectors. I am in agreement with what has been said on that subject. But I particularly want to draw attention to the delay in paying the grants to the Agricultural Committees. There has been very great delay, and at a time when payment was of great importance to the Committees to enable them to carry on their work. Payment has become all the more important, because these Committees are now Sub-Committees of County Councils, and have to be financed in the first place by the County Council. The County Councils themselves are extremely hard up, and if the payment of these grants is to be delayed, and the County Councils are to find the necessary money, it may hinder the operations of the Committees for a considerable time. I would therefore venture to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should urge upon the Treasury the necessity for the prompt payment of these grants, so that the work of the Committees may not be hampered in any way. I would like to add my congratulations to what has been said with regard to the Board's work in settling ex-soldiers on the land. It is work which is extremely difficult, but I am bound to say that, on the whole, the Land Settlement Committees have had a considerable amount of help from the Board, and I trust that that help will be continued, because there is still a great deal of work to do, and the Committees will require all the assistance we can give them if they are going to make the movement the success we desire it to be.
§ Mr. H. HOPE
We have heard a good deal of complaint against the Board, especially with regard to the outpouring of £130,000 on Corn Inspectors, but is there not another side of the question? The Government incurred a considerable liability under the Corn Production Act, and had it not taken reasonable steps to protect the country against excessive claims, I think there might have been complaints on that score, and the Governments would have been blamed for not taking reasonable precautions. To my mind, it is a very satisfactory state of affairs that this inspection work has resulted in the farming community being cleared of any imputation of having made 1152 erroneous returns, and if this £130,000 has no other result than merely confuting accusations that might have been made, I think we can claim it has not been badly spent. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir D. Maclean) also complained about £217,000 having been spent on the purchase and equipment of farms acquired under the Farm Colonies Act. We all know how this House has urged the Government to go ahead faster with these schemes, and, therefore, seeing that the expenditure has been incurred simply in order to carry out the wishes of the House itself, I cannot find justification for the criticisms which have been indulged in. Then the right hon. Gentleman also referred to the large expenditure of £222,000 under Sub-section E for the training of officers and men for agricultural pursuits. There again surely there was work that needed to be done, and though this is a very large sum of money I cannot help thinking that a grateful country, recognising all that those men did for her in the hour of stress, will not grudge this money. Therefore, when I hear a great deal of these criticisms I am inclined to think that it has not all been misspent money. There is one matter to which I wish to refer to under the heading BB about fertilisers. We have been getting phosphate from America instead of from Algiers. That which comes from Algiers is a higher class super-phosphate and we are suffering at present by getting an inferior grade. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that in future we get, as we used to get, a good supply of phosphate from Algiers instead of from America.
§ Sir B. STANIER
Under Item A, I find that £30,000 is asked for for temporary clerical staff. We ought to know a little more for what these temporary clerks are required, because above you have the Corn Production Act, £10,000, farm colonies, £4,000, and the Land Settlements Acts, 1919, £14,000. We ought to know who these temporary clerks are and what they are used for. Again we have additional war bonuses. Are they for the temporary clerks or for the whole? I suppose they are for the whole, but we should like to know a little more. Item E is for maintenance grants and expenses of training in agriculture for officers and men demobilised from the forces. It would be very interesting if we could be 1153 told where these training stations are, and how long these officers and men may stay there in order to be trained. It is absolutely futile and throwing the money away if they are not given sufficient time to learn the work. There is a note—additional expenses. That is rather confusing because this is a supplementary grant. I take it the original grant was not made to the Board of Agriculture. I think it was made to the Ministry of Labour and was transferred.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have no doubt that in the case of the Ministry of Labour or Pensions, in their original Vote sums were included for this training of disabled officers and men. We were asked to take it over and therefore the expense has to appear on our Vote. We could not include it in our original Votes because we were not then doing the work, and it has to some in a Supplementary Vote. As regards their Estimates, no doubt it will be shown as a saving.
§ Sir B. STANIER
I am glad to hear that. This £222,300 is part of the grand total which was given for the whole scheme. I agree with what has been said on the subject of inspection, but I think the County Council Executive Committees have the blame chiefly on their shoulders for not putting the right men in. In my own county not only have soldiers been put in, but soldiers who have been physically maimed. The man who inspects my own part is a soldier with only one arm. That is what we want to see. He had farmed all his life till he joined the forces. Those are the men we want. Someone said something about tinkers and tailors. Those are the men we do not want. The blame lies on the County Council Executive Committees. I should like to ask a further question about seeds and fertilisers. I have always taken a great interest in the subject of potash. I have egged my right hon. Friend on to try to provide it. At present the land is very deficient in potash and many of the weeds which are smothering our crops are there because there is no potash to destroy them. Also we cannot get the best crops out of the land unless we get this potash. Some of it is being sent over from France and some from Germany but not in sufficient quantities, and the price is prohibitive. Can my right hon. Friend not help to persuade the different Government Departments who have to come along with 1154 him to bring this over, to get more into this country and lower the price?
§ Mr. HOHLER
This Supplementary Estimate is disappointing compared with other Estimates that we have had. Every Department seems to spend money. If these inspectors were thought to be necessary why did not my right hon. Friend make an Estimate for them when we had the original Vote? So far as I know, not a half-penny has been paid to any farmer under the Corn Production Act, or ever will be. The guaranteed price for wheat last year was 55s.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have pointed out that that was under the Act. But by subsequent announcement of Lord Ernie the guarantee was raised to 71s. 11d.
§ Mr. HOHLER
71s. 11d., when we know that the Government were paying something over £5 a quarter to the foreign producer! Really in these circumstances for a Government Department, knowing that another Department was paying at least £5 and knowing that there was a world shortage and that there were starving countries in Europe, to appoint these inspectors seems to be throwing money into the gutter. I cannot understand why it is brought in. No one contemplated it when the Estimates were originally made and this expense is saddled on the country, and unless we vote against the Government and turn them out there is no redress. The money is gone. How long were these gentlemen appointed for? Who appointed them, and where did they travel?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I made a complete statement about the whole of this matter. I said they were appointed temporarily for two months.
§ Mr. HOHLER
One would ask what on earth they could do in that time and at that period. It is true those who do not understand agriculture think that is a proper time for appointing them, but it is ridiculous until you see the crop and know what it is going to yield, when no question could arise in regard to price. But it is not only that. These inspectors require an expensive staff, and then look at the waste of paper in connection with the whole thing. Dozens of forms have to be filled up and thrown away as waste paper. This is going on in every Department, and not in one only. In my judgment at least £400,000 have been purely 1155 wasted. Look at what is going on. Instead of being asked for ten sovereigns, the House is asked for practically £500,000 for this, and if you look at the figures which produce that £500,000 they have been selling our assets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Munitions Ministry, and every one has been telling us what assets we have got; and so we have, and if we ever get to the Vote for the Munitions Ministry we shall ascertain that they have been wasting our assets in the same way in payment for these enormous staffs. We thought we had something to fall back upon to reduce the National Debt and save expenses, but it is frittered away and wasted by these Departments. I do not congratulate the right hon. Gentleman at all. If he had not come to us at all and had shown a saving well and good. I hope it may be true that this expenditure on small allotments and on training our wounded officers is saved on another Vote. But I expect the truth is that when these Votes come up it will be put in an Appropriation in Aid, and they will ask for double as much for something else. That is how the whole thing rolls round. These things are transferred from one Vote to another and we are cheerfully told there will be a saving on another Vote. What guarantee have we got of that? We are going on in a perfectly reckless way. It goes on unchecked, and when anybody gets up in this House to attempt to check it we are threatened by being told to find another Government. The country is fully alive to this matter, and I am perfectly satisfied that they will not stand it much longer. Assets are wasted, and then Government Departments come down in this way and ask for large extra sums in this way. I protest against it.
I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into the education of ex-officers who are being trained under the Ministry of Agriculture. In one particular case which has come to my knowledge, and of which I can give the right hon. Gentleman details, no fewer than four officers were sent to a small holding of twenty acres, and on that twenty acres there was a certain amount of fruit, a little grass and a few potatoes. The officers were doing the work of agricultural labourers who were dismissed because the officers could do the work 1156 adequately. If that is training officers in agriculture we are wasting our money again.
§ Mr. HOHLER
In Kent. I can give my right hon. Friend full particulars. I can give him the names of one of the officers from whom I had the information (Lieut. Radford). I had the facts from this officer If that is what is going on, and if that is how our money is being expended, then I say that far from enabling these officers—who have served us so splendidly in the War—to become competent farmers and to be able to take up their own holdings and obtain their own livelihood, after having gone through this period of apprenticeship for two years, they will come out of it practically as ignorant as when they went into the course. I have heard compliments paid to the Department by hon. Members to-day, but I could not allow the Estimate to go through without expressing what I believe to be the feeling of this country in regard to the gross extravagance and the gross waste that goes on in these Government Departments. They are allowed to spend what they like, and then when they have spent it they come down here, and we have to either vote the money or turn them out.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Generally speaking, I have to express my gratitude for the very kind reception that has been given to me in performing what is not the very pleasant task of having to ask for a very large additional sum. As I have already pointed out, the greater part of this extra expenditure could not have been foreseen when the original Estimate was framed, while some of it, that in respect of the training for officers and men, we have been compelled to take over—and we were very glad to take it over—from another Department. I will endeavour to answer the criticisms that have been made. It is obvious that the principle criticism is directed against the appointment of the Corn Inspectors. We have been twitted on having shown a great want of foresight in supposing that the price was likely to fall below the guarantee, though, as I pointed out, the guarantee included the larger guarantee that had been promised by Lord Ernie of 71s. 11d. for wheat, and corresponding increases for oats, barley and rye. It has been said that everybody knew that while we were paying these 1157 enormous sums for wheat to foreign Governments there was not the slightest chance of the price coming down. I asked the Committee to realise that that may be the case now, but it was by no means the case a year ago.
We are told that we ought to have consulted experts who really knew. The greatest expert on that sort of question, or, at any rate, the man supposed to be the greatest expert was Sir James Wilson who was our representative on the International Agricultural Commission at Rome, and he predicted a year ago that there was likely to be a break in wheat prices which would bring the price down within a few months to 45s. Hon. Members must give us credit for having consulted the man who was regarded as the greatest expert, and who was deliberately selected as our representative on the International Agricultural Commission at Rome. [HON. MEMBERS: "One of your officials!"] He is not one of our officials; he was in no way connected with the Board. He was regarded as the best expert, and I put it to the Committee, as has been rightly suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and Stirling (Mr. Harry Hope), that we should have been subjected to a great deal of criticism if, in view of the possibility of a fall in prices like that, we had not taken steps to check these returns. We might have found ourselves landed with a very big sum to pay. We might have had to pay £10,000,000 or £20,000,000. What would this House have said if under those circumstances I had stood at this box and admitted that these huge payments had been made, and that no steps had been taken to check the returns? It was not only in the case of wheat but of oats similarly. It was prophesied by people who were in the know, or who were supposed to be in the know, that large importations of maize would bring down the price of oats. Though I regret that this money was expended, and that no direct result accrued, I do say that we should have been very justly criticised if a big payment had had to be met unless we had taken some steps to check the returns. In regard to the character of the men appointed, I know that the hon. Member for the Holland Division (Mr. Royce) always criticises any particular appointment made in that Division. It seems that the local Pooh Bah was appointed. At any rate, he was 1158 appointed on the advice of the agricultural executive committee of the district. We could not know who were the best men everywhere, and, so far as possible, we followed the advice that was given to us.
My. hon. Friend also criticised us for appointing in many cases men who were no ex-service men. There again we followed the advice of the local agricultural executive committees. Speaking generally, no Department has taken greater care to give a preference to ex-service men than the Ministry of Agriculture. In all such matters as the appointment of the directors of farm colonies, commanders under the Small Holdings Act, or any other such appointments, it has been laid down absolutely as a rule that, other things being equal, ex-service men should be appointed. On repeated occasions I have made representations in the proper quarter with respect to recommendations for appointments and have asked whether a suitable ex-service man could not be found. That is the policy deliberately adopted, and I hope it will always continue. My hon. Friend also called attention to the need for better transportation. He did not pursue the subject because it hardly arises on this Vote, but I may say that we attach great importance to it, and we are constantly putting before the Ministry of Transport proposals and suggestions for light railways, and so forth, for the benefit of agricultural districts My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) spoke about a certain case where, apparently, an injustice had been done where a county committee had taken possession of a farm. I did not quite follow what he said. He said the man was getting nothing whatever. The usual case is that the tenancy is terminated and the man is paid out. He gets his valuation, whatever it may be.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
That being so, what my right hon. Friend means is that he is getting no rent. He has a perfect right to claim compensation for the loss of his rent or for any other loss he has sustained, and if he makes a claim the matter will go for arbitration and will be settled in the usual way. If my right hon. Friend will send in the case—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
In that case I will take every possible step to see that the matter is dealt with promptly.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Does this class of case come before what is known as the Duke Committee? I know of a case where land was taken by a county council and we cannot even identify the particular parts of land that were taken.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
If my hon. and learned Friend will give particulars of the case, we will endeavour first to identify the plot and then take any other steps that are reasonable My hon. and learned Friend mentioned a case where he suggested that the training of officers had been entirely insufficient and that it was a mockery. If he will let me have the case I will inquire into it. I cannot inquire into it without having the details. Speaking generally, I should be very sorry if the case he mentioned is a bonâ fide one, because. I have taken some trouble to ascertain the kind of training that is given as a rule to disabled officers and men, and I find it to be exceedingly good. I was also asked a question with regard to delayed payments to county councils. I will see that that matter is inquired into. The hon. Member for Stirling spike about phosphate rock. He said the super-phosphate we are getting now is inferior because it is not made from Algiers rock. I think he is mistaken in that. All through the War we took active steps to procure phosphate rock from Algiers through the French Government. This is an international question. The phosphate rock has to be distributed on a fair basis between the various Allied Powers, and we are getting a large quantity at the present time. I hope that a sufficient supply will be available. I was also asked where the training schemes were. I cannot possibly give a detailed answer now. There are thirty or forty of them scattered all over the country. The usual period for training is one year. I was also asked what had caused the increase of staff. It is due to the vast amount of additional work that has been put upon the Department. Only to-day hon. Members have been asking us to make arrangements for the importation of phosphate rock, and we have been asked to make further arrangements for the importation of potash, a 1160 matter which we have in hand. All these additional duties imply and necessitate an additional staff, and the increase of staff referred to is really spread over the whole Department. The hon. and learned member for Gillingham (Mr. Hohler) asked why this sum of £130,000 for corn inspectors was not included in the original Estimate. The reason is obvious. The original Estimate was prepared in November or December, 1918. The new guarantee and the manner in which it has to be worked out was only made effective in April, 1919. The new guarantee made a difference. So long as you had the original figures under the Corn Production Act it was clearly unnecessary to have the inspection, but when we had to put up these much higher figures the inspection was, in our opinion, necessary.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Was not the guarantee based upon the subsidised price of bread? In other words, was not foreign wheat, brought in at a certain price per quarter and sold to the millers at the rate of 73s. or 74s., the same price as was guaranteed? Is not that how the subsidy was worked out, and was it not by virtue of that that you arrived at the guaranteed price of 73s. 6d., which was substantially the same price as the previous year?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
That is quite true, but the actual promise that the payments should be made under the Corn Production Act only was given early in 1919 after the Estimate was framed. It was afterwards we agreed we would substitute these much higher figures for those of the Corn Production Act. That accounts for the whole thing. Having regard to the fact that the most eminent experts thought that a fall in prices might come about, and we might have to pay a very big sum, it would have been most unwise if we had not taken effective means of cheeking the figures.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
We have taken steps to import a considerable amount from Alsace and also a considerable amount which has come down the Rhine. There has been delay in getting potash from Germany. It was held up, I think, by want of shipping from Rotterdam, but I believe that a great deal of it is now over and will be distributed. I shall be glad to answer any further questions on 1161 that point. I thank the Committee for, generally speaking, the kind reception which they have given to these Estimates, and though we have been obliged, owing to circumstances quite unforeseen, to ask for an exceedingly large additional Vote this year, I can assure the Committee that we are as well aware of the need for economy as any other Department, and I hope that we shall not have any large Supplementary Estimate next year.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I beg to move that Item S. 1 [Corn Production Act, 1917 (Part I.) Expenses, £130,000] be reduced by £100.
I am sure that the Committee appreciate the frank manner in which my right hon. Friend has dealt with this whole question, but I regret that I am not satisfied with his explanation as to these inspectors, and therefore beg to move this reduction.
Captain S. WILSON
As far as I can make out the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, we have been involved in this large expenditure on inspectors owing to the rather remarkable advice given to the Government and to this Department by a gentleman who bears the not uncommon name of Wilson. He has been quoted by
§ the right hon. Gentleman as a well-known expert. All I can say is that anybody who thought for a moment must have known that he was wrong. I do not see how he could possibly think that the price of wheat could come down during the course of the past year, or, indeed, of next year. The shortage of ships is such that there are not sufficient to carry the corn to this country. Again, the whole of Europe is starving. In those circumstances, how could any expert tell the Government that the price of wheat was bound to go down? On that advice, we were involved in this huge expenditure for these most unnecessary inspectors. I would recommend my hon. Friend the Member for Holland (Mr. Royce) to read the lesson to members of his own party, and point out what will happen when the land is nationalised, because it is an admirable illustration of the bungling of Departments and of a bureaucracy, in the appointment of unnecessary inspectors throughout the whole country, many of whom, as the hon. Member tells us, have no knowledge of the work which they are appointed to do.
§ Question put, "That Item S. 1 be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 218.1163
|Division No. 37.]||AYES.||[5.53 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hartshorn, Vernon||Robertson, John|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Hayday, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Sexton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Briant, Frank||Holmes, J. Stanley||Smith, Captain A. (Nelson & Colne)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Spencer, George A.|
|Cairns, John||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spoor, B. C.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kenyon, Barnet||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Tootill, Robert|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Turton, E. R.|
|Donnelly, P.||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, East)||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Finney, Samuel||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Gardiner, James||Myers, Thomas||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gould, James C.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Onions, Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Mr. G. Thorne and Mr. Hogge.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Baldwin, Stanley|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Atkey, A. R.||Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Baird, John Lawrence||Barnett, Major R. W.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barrand, A. R.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Haslam, Lewis||Purchase, H. G.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Hills, Major John Waller||Remer, J. R.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hinds, John||Rendall, Athe[...]stan|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hood, Joseph||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hope, H. (Stirling S Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hopkins, John W. W.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Briggs, Harold||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hurd, Percy A.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Brawn, Captain D. C.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Jesson, C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Kellaway, Frederick George||Seager, Sir William|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Kidd, James||Seddon, J. A.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Simm, M. T.|
|Casey, T. W.||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Clough, Robert||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Stan[...]er, Captain Sir Beville|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lloyd, George Butler||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lloyd-Greame, Major P.||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Lorden, John William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Sugden, W. H.|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Magnus, Sir Philip||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Martin, Captain A. E.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Edge, Captain William||Matthews, David||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Waddington, R.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wallace, J.|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Mosley, Oswald||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Mount, William Arthur||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Murchison, C. K.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Foreman, Henry||Meal, Arthur||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nield, Sir Herbert||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Younger, Sir George|
|Grant, James A.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Oman, Charles William C.||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Towyn|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Jones.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.