Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £181,061, be granted to His Maesty, 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 Transport, including sundry Charges in connection with Transportation Schemes under The Ministry of Transport Act, 1919.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I was last night discussing this Estimate when we arrived at 11 o'clock. I was dealing then, first of all, with an analysis of the staff which has been created by the Ministry of Transport, and I should like, if possible, before I deal with any questions of policy to tender one or two criticisms in regard to the headquarters establishment;. I have remarked upon the disparity of the salaries which are being paid to the various heads of the Departments. I should like the Committee to look rather closely at page 75 of the Supplementary Estimates White Paper, where there are a number of additional notes with regard to the people who are appointed to each of these Departments. If we take first of all the second Department of the headquarters establishment and look, for example, at the position of secretary and solicitor, hon. Members will find after his name there are three letters (a), (b), and (c). We find an explanation of these letters on page 75. (a) tells us that the personal salary includes war bonus; (b) that the officer holding this post is on loan from a railway company (the company is not stated and his railway emoluments are a charge on the Ministry of Transport Vote); (c) tells us that he receives also £500 per annum disturbance allowance chargeable to Sub-head B. In making these appointments, particularly if after the experience of the two years, which is an experimental period during which the Ministry of Transport has to run, these men are to become permanent civil servants, I think the House ought to 1326 be informed rather accurately as to who they are, and from which of the railway companies they have been loaned, and why in this particular case—I do not even know the name of the gentleman—£500 is paid as a disturbance allowance. There is another criticism that one might offer in regard to this, and that is the amount of the salary which is being paid to an official of this kind.
The House has some measure of guidance in reference to similar officers in other Government Departments. I think it is quite fair to put the point in this way. You have at the Board of Trade a solicitor who deals with similar questions—and certainly he must deal with quite as large and important questions as any solicitor belonging to the Secretarial and Legal Department of the Ministry of Transport, and the salary the State pays to that equivalent officer in the Board of Trade is £1,500, rising to £1,800, whereas the salary proposed to be given to this official with whom I am dealing is nearly double—£3,750. I say-nearly double, because I do not know how much must be allowed for (a), (b) and (c). In any case, this gentleman is receiving double the salary of a similar appointment in an equally large Department of the State. The same criticism would appear to apply to the principal assistant secretary, because under the Ministry of Transport he is to receive £1,200, rising by increments of £100 to £1,500, whereas the assistant secretary at the Board of Trade, which is a similar appointment, receives £800, rising to £1,000. I make that criticism because the expenditure of any new Department must obviously be determined by the initial salaries which are paid. My hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Neal) did so well last night in introducing the Estimates that, at any rate, he ought to prove to the House that we are getting value for our money. I am not taking the point—and I do not think that any Member of the Committee would take it—that you can pay too high a salary if you are saving by that salary. But I think one may consider that the salaries at the Board of Trade are comparable to the new Department, and we ought to have some justification for these large salaries.
If we go a little further down the paper we find that the Assistant to Solicitor is an (a) (b) and (d) man which means, when we turn to the explanatory note (d) that ho receives a special allowance of £250 1327 per annum for increased responsibility. That raises a question I should like to put-straight away. Will my hon. Friend tell the Committee how many fresh men have been appointed to the Ministry of Transport and how many have been transferred from other Departments. The suggestion that someone who has been transferred to the post of Assistant to Solicitor, and receives in consequence £240 for increased responsibility, rather makes one wonder what post he held before, who he is, and why his new post should be determined in this way? If you look at Department (iii.), Development Department, you find there are four assistant directors, with (e) and (f). Turning to (e) you read that one of these four officers receives a personal salary of £900 per annum. I am sure the Committee would like to know why one of the four is in so different a position to the others, and why it is necessary in this case that he should carry a salary of £900 additional. In Department (iv.) there are three directors, with (g) following the office. In their case we have this note: One of these officers receives a personal allowance of £300 per annum. Why should one receive this? Turning to the Traffic Department (v.) I note that the Director-General is followed by (a) and (h). The latter means non-pensionable. I would like to know why there is a difference in the grading of these Civil Servants, some being graded with, and others without, pension rights? Why should we not have some clear line of demarcation between the two types of Civil Servants who are going to be members of the Ministry of Transport? I notice that in the Department of Public Safety and General Purposes Department (vii.) the Chief Inspecting Officer has (l) after his office. This letter denotes: Army retired pay, £200 per annum, deducted from salary. I think we are entitled to some explanation, because that point has been raised over and over again in respect of the treatment of discharged and demobilised men and officers. There may be a sufficient reason for the course suggested in this particular case, as to why this man's retired pay, which presumably he has earned as a soldier, should be deducted from his civilian salary, if he is given a civilian equivalent in the work he is performing!
1328 4.0 P.M.
There are a number of other queries coming down the White Paper to (xi.). Temporary commissioner and secretary is a man who receives an allowance of £250 per annum while acting as commissioner. One would like to know, at this particular time, whether this is a temporary post or whether there is something more in it. If the Committee will look at page 75 and compare the wages paid there with the salaries paid on 73 and74 they will note the difference. I would ask the hon. Gentleman about some of these items. This is an old question which many new Members may not have heard raised before, a question to which we always ought to pay some attention. There are thirty-five cleaners, presumably charwomen, who deal with the offices in the morning—judging from previous discussions, it is a very long morning—and they are only receiving 14s. per week as against salaries of £5,000, and so on, for the officials There are one or two other interesting items. The Superintendents of Typists receive a less salary than the typists themselves. I do not know whether my hon. Friend has noticed that fact. There are four Superintendents of Typists at 50s. per week, and there are two Superintendents of Temporary Typists who get 65s. per week. If you are a Superintendent of Typists who are only temporary you get 15s. per week more for supervising their work than if you are a superintendent of the typists of the Department, in which case you get 4s. per week less than the typists themselves.
§ Mr. HOGGE
If there be more work in supervision, they are entitled to higher pay. I should like an explanation of Item C, Law Charges, £1,000, particularly in view of the fact that under Section (ii), Secretarial and Legal Department, we are paying many thousands for legal advice. I do not see why we should have a Secretary and Solicitor costing £3,750 and then pay an extra £1,000 for law charges. Similarly, in Item D, Special Services, we have two Consultant Accountants drawing nearly £6,000 in addition to the technical departments. I must congratulate my hon. Friend on the fact that he subscribes to a Press Cutting Agency. I do not know how much of the £4,200 goes to the Press Cutting Agency, but apparently this is an up-to-date institu- 1329 tion. This is the first opportunity that we have had of discussing the whole policy of this great new Department, and we really want to be quite sure as to the basis of remuneration, because, if after two years, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Transport, determines that we are to nationalise the railways, obviously we shall carry all these salaries over and they will mean a very large new expenditure. Last night my hon. Friend said that there were 774 members already employed.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr. Neal)
On the establishment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
If they are not employed, I should like to know what they are doing on the establishment?
§ Mr. HOGGE
This Estimate does not take money for that number. This Estimate only provides for 758, and, although I do not make a great fuss about it, it is another illustration how a Government Department gets authority for doing what it has no right to do. This Estimate deals with 758 and no more, and my hon. Friend has no business to come down and say, "We have an establishment of 774 authorised by the Treasury," and he will have no right next year to tell us that those additional appointments have been made and that we have to pay the salaries because they were mentioned in this Debate. We are passing a Vote for 758, and I commend that point to him. After all, the House of Commons has some right and it is passing money for 758 and not 774. I would like to come to one or two questions of policy. Last night my hon. Friend made a very able speech, and those who have had an opportunity of reading it over will have noticed the contradiction in terms of policy which is contained in that speech. My hon. Friend, for example, said that the Ministry of Transport were not engaged in attempting to regulate and control the internal management and working of the railways of this country, and he pointed out that they could not be blamed if there were congestion at a port, or if there were a shortage of wagons, or if there were any other difficulty connected with the working of the railways. Further on in his 1330 speech, dealing with the Development Department, Section 3 of the Estimates, he pointed out, among other things, that the London Traffic Advisory Committee and its technical and sub-committees were operating under the Ministry of Transport.
I see my hon. Friend, the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Kennedy Jones), in his accustomed corner, and we are very glad to see him back in the House after his recent illness. It is probably news to him that he is functioned under the authority of the Ministry of Transport. A good many of us would like to know what my hon. Friend is doing with the traffic of London. As far as we know, the only result is that it has been more difficult for hon. Members to reach this House. The police have agreed that the scheme is no use at all, and it has been scrapped, so that Members may roach the House in safety. There are a good many points with regard to the London Traffic Committee about which this House would be glad to have some information, and I invite my hon. Friend, if he has the opportunity, to tell us when he is going to deal with the traffic of London. He has said and he has written a great deal about it, and he has held himself up as a kind of wizard who has only to use some new Aladdin's lamp to give us a new traffic in London. What has he done, and, if he has not done anything, is it the Ministry of Transport which has prevented him from contributing to the safety of London? My hon. Friend went on further to point out, in connection with the Development Department, that Sir George Beharrell had had to examine critically the expenditure of the railways in which the State is interested. If my hon. Friend has no right and does not seek to function inside the railways which the Ministry control, why should any member of his Department examine critically the expenditure of the railways in which the State is interested?
In the same reference he dealt also with the question of wagons. He said that his Department had nothing to do with them. The railways were running under their own management and the Ministry were only attempting some co-ordination. I read of a railway company placing orders after consultation with the Ministry. Presumably, therefore, it cannot place an order unless it has consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport 1331 Those contradictions in the statement of my hon. Friend lead me to ask, and I think the Committee are entitled to know, what it is that the Ministry of Transport do with regard to our railways? He told us last night that they did nothing, but on reading his speech it is quite obvious that if they do nothing they interfere a great deal, and we are entitled to know exactly what the Ministry of Transport do in connection with our railways. He said that it was the duty of the Minister of Transport to co-ordinate. If it be the duty of the Minister of Transport to coordinate and he co-ordinates with any measure of success, then the public, either in the ordinary passenger fares or in the rates for goods traffic, ought now to be receiving some benefit. If this co-ordination does not result in economy and in the saving of unnecessary expense, surely it is a work of supererogation. We would like to know how far my right hon. Friend takes cognisance of what is done by the Ministry of Food or the Ministry of Shipping. Do the Ministry know, for example, when cargoes of food are coming to this country? Do they know the ports to which they are coming and when they are to be discharged? Do they, with that knowledge, and with the transport of the country in their hands, so regulate the discharge of goods as to reach the consumers in the least possible time? We thought that we were going to achieve all that by the creation of the Ministry of Transport. We never imagined that we were going to continue to pay war passenger fares. We never imagined that it was going to be made more difficult for manufacturers to send their goods from one part of the country to another by an increase of rates. We never imagined that we were going to have the congestion which has obtained in different parts of the country.
I want to ask a very definite question. The Committee knows, and my hon. Friend pointed out yesterday, that under Section 3 of the Ministry of Transport Act the Minister is given a couple of years in which to come to certain decisions. He is given two years in which to make up his mind as to the question of railway policy. A Member of the Government, the Minister for War (Mr. Churchill), has stated quite definitely in his speeches that nationalisation of the 1332 railways is the policy of the Government. My hon. Friend pointed out last night quite explicitly that it was not the duty of the Ministry of Transport to interfere in the internal arrangements of the railways, and that their duties were purely consultative, and, if not consultative, then co-ordinative. What is the policy of the Government? We are entitled to know. They have had seven months' experience and they cannot claim, after seven months, that they cannot give us some indication, because they have brought up two pages of highly-paid officials. They have managed to appoint any number of director-generals. I do not know if anybody has taken the trouble to take a census of the men who have been appointed, but at any rate there are seven director-generals, and, if you call a man a director-general, you have to give him a very large salary.
There is no doubt about that. If you begin with the general and come down to the staff, basing it upon the Army analogy, you are going to have an extraordinary number of officials, and I think this is a fair point for the representative of the Minister of Transport, when he comes forward and tells us he has all these officials to ask him whether he is in a position to show that he has them to carry out a particular policy. I ask what is the policy of the Government? Is it still experimental after these seven months for consideration or is the policy of the Minister for War who declared that it was the nationalisation of the railways? In this relation—I do not want to make a point of it—there is the sum of £50,000 which was paid to my right hon. Friend, the Minister for Transport, by the North Eastern Railway Company. I ask the question because he had a contract with this Company and the terms of it were that this sum of money was to be paid to him if and when the railways were nationalised. Now the money has been paid, and I am entitled to ask whether the Government policy is the nationalisation of railways, and, if it is not, what is the explanation of the payment of this £50,000.
I have already referred to the question of London traffic, and I want to deal for a moment with the Department of Public Safety and General Purposes. The hon. Member who represents the Ministry made an interesting statement with I regard to this Department. He pointed 1333 out that, as a result, a Department was being set up with some kind of machinery whereby in future disputes would be avoided on the railways. When we consider the amount of money for the Public Safety Department we should also consider the amount of money that was wasted. If we turn to page 64 of this statement we find there that no less than a sum of £475,000 was provided for emergency services arising out of the railway strike. If I remember rightly there was an additional sum for this purpose connected with the Army Votes, making a total payment of over £500,000. The Committee will remember what was the cause of that particular strike. It was that the Government thought that prices were going down and less wages should be paid on the railways. We had a great number of negotiations. All were secret so far as this House was concerned. Matters vitally affecting the prosperity, convenience and comfort of the whole community were carried out behind the backs of this House?. I am sure we all remember the Prime Minister's description of those who were responsible for the strike as "Anarchists" but subsequently he met those "Anarchists" and came to a decision.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out that this does not come under this Vote, and is therefore not relevant.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I submit that it is relevant on this Vote because I was dealing with the policy of the Government in respect to the railways, and I was congratulating the hon. Member who spoke for the Ministry of Transport upon what he had said with regard to the result of the recent dispute. He told us that a Committee was now being set up to deal with wages and conditions of service, with the object of arriving at a standardisation of wages and to avoid dispute in the future. I was trying to make my congratulations intelligible.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That was a controversial preamble, and I could not allow it to go on, because it would invite debate which would be irrelevant.
§ Mr. HOGGE
That being the case, I will leave it. I wished to congratulate him on this, and may I say this without being out of order? If we have future disputes and if proposals come before this House dealing with standardisation 1334 of wages, I hope the whole Committee will agree with me that the more publicity you give the better. The policy of secrecy causes the greatest suspicion in the minds of the public and the greatest regret among the Members of this House, and I hope that in future such questions will not be dealt with in that way. It is the community that has to bear the burden in the end. I quite recognise that I should not take up too much time, but I wish to emphasise the need and the vital importance of something energetic being done in connection with the coastal traffic with the Scottish Islands. Some of us do come from Scotland and after all it is a part of the United Kingdom. On the west coast of Scotland we have many islands, and hon. Gentlemen will remember that these islands contributed many men to the Army and Navy. In particular the small island of Lewis gave 7,000 men to the Army and Navy, as the fishermen are in the Reserve as Naval men. The question of improving the traffic between the; main land of Scotland and these islands is a vital question for Scotland, and I want to emphasise that. I want to point out that the Ministry of Transport would be neglecting its duty, or omitting to do something which it ought to carry out, if it did not try to do its level best to improve this coastal traffic. The House of Commons is on the threshold of very large schemes, as I pointed out last night. The new Russia has large constructive social schemes. It has the idea of electrifying Russia. One proposal is the electrification of the Russian railways, and that would bring about new industries and a new social system in Russia. If there is anything real or genuine in the talk about a new world after this War, I think that depends to a large extent upon the prosperity of the people which also depends upon our communications, such as railways, canals and shipping. And when this new Ministry comes Before the House with its first proposals we ought to seize the opportunity, without any hostility towards the hon. Member who represents the Ministry, to offer our suggestions as to how we could make the best use of these communications. The end of every railway and its stations go to the homes of the people of the country, and it is the business of the railways to give cheap facilities to the people, to bring them commodities and all the things that they 1335 need for their comfort in life. To do this is to make a solid contribution to their social welfare. Therefore we ought, when we are considering these matters, to give them the closest examination and endeavour to make suggestions that would be helpful, as I have tried to do.
Mr. KENNEDY JONES
I intervene for a few moments, because the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken censured, or at least complained of, the action of the London Traffic Advisory Committee of which I am Chairman. He seemed to regard it as a great grievance that by an experiment that we had endeavoured to carry out in Parliament Square we had prevented him from having rapid and easy access to this House. I realise the enormity of the offence. I am very sorry that we should have inconvenienced one of the whips of a party in this House, however small it may be in numbers. I know it is a very regrettable thing, and ought not to be encouraged. By that experiment we were endeavouring to do something for the advantage of the public and to facilitate traffic, but we abandoned it at the beginning of the week owing to the many complaints made by the members of the Independent Liberal party that they were not able to reach the House as freely as they did before. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept this apology for having interfered with the distinction which ought to attach to his office.
On a second point which arose with regard to the Advisory Committee on London Traffic, I think the right hon. Gentleman has been misled, if I may respectfully say so, by something which was said by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport. An unfortunate phrase which he used last night was not quite clear. The Advisory Committee is not operating under the Development. Department. It is a Committee to advise the Ministry of Transport. It is an independent Committee to advise the Minister and has been set up in order to consider and to make recommendations as to the conduct of London traffic, what kind of authority ought to be set up, and to see that provision can be made to carry out those recommendations. We have divided the terms of reference into two points. The first was that we should appoint a technical Sub-Committee of experts to meet round a table and consider 1336 what could be done by good-will and cooperation to diminish the congestion and chaos which existed in the London traffic. That work we are carrying on, and I think to some effect, despite the Parliament Square experiment to which my hon. Friend objected. It has had some effect in helping us to carry out experiments which are materially relieving the congestion and the chaos which exist in London traffic. Beyond that our second duty is to prepare a scheme, which we are now engaged in doing, by which London traffic is to be carried on under the new authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport. The report, setting forth the new traffic authority which ought to be set up, setting forth the conditions under which it ought to be set up and the powers that ought to be given to it—powers which are now held in this Department and that Department—setting forth how all these are to be brought together and placed in the hands of one authority under the Ministry of Transport, will be published in the course of the next ten days. I think, so far as the Advisory Committee is concerned, it has been brought into this discussion without any reason. It has no relation at all to the Supplementary Estimate which is under discussion, because the whole of the labour of the 25 men who constitute the Technical Committee and the Advisory Committee is given without any remuneration. There is no expense involved. They are men who are giving their time to the State, and therefore are in no way concerned in the Supplementary Estimate.
§ Mr. SEXTON
Is the Chairman included in that?
Mr. KENNEDY JONES
Not only the Chairman, but the Committee, and I can tell my hon. Friend that the Chairman—and I am the unfortunate Chairman—has to employ two Secretaries to enable him to get through his work, and he pays for them himself. I think the only reason why my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) brought the matter in was that the representative of the Ministry of Transport last night used an unfortunate word in describing the work of the Advisory Committee, and it was because I desired to make this explanation that I intervened in the Debate.
§ Mr. HOPKINS
I should like to join in the congratulations which have been showered on the hon. Member representing the Transport Department; but I want to call attention to one exception to the efficiency of the Ministry of Transport, and that is the disastrous deterioration in the services rendered by, and the working of, the private-owned wagons on the railways. I have had sent to me now and again statements comparing, month by month, the working of these wagons when they were managed by their owners and since they have been pooled and managed at the orders of the Government. Averaging those results, I think it is no exaggeration to say that these wagons to-day are rendering one-third less service than they rendered while they were under private management. That is an extremely serious loss to the carrying capacity of the companies and particularly to the coal-carrying capacities in which these wagons were mostly engaged. It is easy, perhaps, to guess at the reason for that. The private owner took care that he had a competent man to look after the running and demurrage of these wagons, and he had a great interest in seeing that these wagons, which were part of his very extensive trade equipment, should be used efficiently.
§ Mr. NEAL
My hon. Friend is really under a misapprehension. There is no such pool of privately-owned wagons.
§ Mr. HOPKINS
All. I can say is that the owners of these wagons complain very bitterly that they have not got control of their own wagons—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is so."]—and I understand that is the fact. My hon. Friend may be quite right and the owners may be wrong, but that is their contention. If anything can be done to put it right I am sure that the owners of the wagons and the public will greatly benefit.
Mr. T. THOMSON
I wish to draw attention to what I think most traders will agree is the deplorable and inefficient service which we are getting from our transport system. In saying that I do not wish to generalise, because we have been told before that it is easy to make sweeping assertions; but I wish to give a few figures which, I am sure, are only typical of the whole country, although they are taken from a particular district 1338 of which I have some little knowledge. In March last year I had the privilege of accompanying a deputation to the Board of Trade with regard to the North-East coast, when the stocks of finished iron and steel material amounted to 64,000 tons. Owing to representations then made there was a reduction in that stock, so that at the end of June it had fallen by one-half owing to the more efficient method of transport on the railways. Unfortunately that did not continue, and by September the amount had increased to 53,000 tons, and in December it was 70,000 tons. At the end of last month the stocks of finished iron and steel materials on the North-East coast alone was 92,000 tons, as compared with the 32,000 in June. It was a most deplorable increase, showing that the inefficiency of the service was, unfortunately, greater then than it was in June.
It is not merely a question of the stocks having gone up owing to the inefficiency of the railway service, but the "make" during that period of the various works-did not increase. It is quite possible to say that although your stocks have an increase your "make" has been increased, and therefore you have been getting more service from the railways. But I will take one particular week in the North-Eastern area. The "make" there was 30,000 tons, but the average "make" during six months was only 19,000 tons. Instead of the works turning out 30,000 tons they only turned out 19,000 tons per week, and, notwithstanding that, their stocks have increased. Therefore I submit to my hon. Friend that, despite his very able statement last night, "the proof of the pudding lies in the eating," and that, as a matter of fact, the service that has been rendered to the traders of the country by our railway system instead of getting better is getting worse, to the serious disadvantage of the whole country. We are told from the Front Bench over and over again that the one need of the present time is production. They say: "Let us have production and we shall soon right our position with regard to debts and the balance of imports over exports." But what are the railways, and what is the Minister of Transport doing to help the country to get over that difficulty? Unfortunately up to the present they have done very little in the way of increasing the carry- 1339 ing capacity, and this works in various ways in the most hurtful direction. I am told that during the last year on the North-East coast there had been a diminution of output, compared with what they could have produced, of 725,000 tons of material, equal to at least £15,000,000 worth of goods, which might, if only railway facilities had been available, have been used for the export trade and for reducing our trading balances, and particularly to reduce our exports to a nearer-level with imports. This was in every way a most desirable thing—a thing that the men themselves would do. They are thrown out of work Because facilities are not there to deal with the products of their work. This has a disastrous effect on the men themselves. I know of works where stocks, instead of being, as in ordinary conditions they would be, 5,000 tons, were 20,000 tons, and that particular works had to stop for a whole week because their sidings were so congested that it was dangerous for them to continue production. What was the effect on the mentality of the men? They have naturally said to themselves, "We have been turning out too much. We have been turning out 5,000 tons a week when the railway is only able to deal with 4,000 tons." The consequence is that if we turn out 5,000 we have got to play one week in four in order that the railway company may catch up our production. That is only a human inference. Therefore you get a reduction of output on the part of the men; a reduction on the part of the mill; a reduction of exports; and in every way you are defeating the object which every one is desirous to aim at, namely, to increase production. Therefore I appeal to the Ministry to do more than they have been doing. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary told us last night that his prime duty was to devise a policy for the railways some years hence, and I quite agree with him, but I would respectfully submit that, at the present, the most urgent thing is to improve the existing facilities so that we may be able to handle this output of goods which we are so anxious to have. All the world is clamouring for our goods, and will pay any price for them. We are simply throwing away a golden opportunity by these unfortunate hindrances to increased production. What is true of one particular section is true of the whole 1340 of the country. People in the West Hiding and in Lancashire can give similar figures, and, therefore, this is no case of special pleading for one particular district. What I have said applies to the whole trading of this country.
The hon. Gentleman may ask what can he do? He told us that 15,000 wagons had been returned from France, but he did not tell us how many were sent overseas during the War, and how many remain there. We were informed in February this year that there were still nearly 30,000 wagons to come back, and that they were to be brought over at the rate of 800 or 900 per week; but unfortunately we have not had them returned at anything like that rate. If only 15,000 have come back, and originally over 40,000 went overseas, what has become of the others? Why have not the Government who have it in their power—for it is not in the power of the railway companies—returned them? I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that his Department should expedite the return of these wagons. We are told that numbers have been disposed of in France and Belgium because they were not suitable for return to this country. Why were they not suitable? Surely it would, be much cheaper and quicker to alter the type of existing wagons rather than to build new ones Instead of selling them to our Allies on the Continent, the state of the trade here is so serious that these wagons should be brought home and altered and adapted, so as to be suitable for running on our lines I know there is a difference in the gauge of from one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch, but it would be possible, by altering the flanges, and so on, to make the wagons suitable for running in this country. I therefore do suggest that in addition to the other steps the Ministry are taking they should expedite the return to this country of the remaining wagons.
I have one other suggestion, and that is that the Ministry should urge the railway companies to expedite the handling of their traffic. We have figures from the North-East coast showing the time wasted on loading and demurrage at the works. When complaint is made, the railway companies always throw the blame on the works; but the real waste of time is caused by the railway companies themselves in moving goods from one point to another. Figures that have 1341 been taken out show that it takes a most deplorable amount of time to transport goods only a few miles. In the case of the Toes and the Tyne, a distance of about 50 miles, it takes 15 days in many cases to get a truck moved from one works to another. At Sheffield there is a delay of 60 days, and at Glasgow of 61 days I have all the facts outlined here, giving the particular works at which the goods are loaded and to which they are sent, and it is clear that instead of the transport taking only two or three days, as in pre-war times, it now occupies three or four times as much, thereby reducing the power of our transport system by from 50 to 100 per cent. It is not the shortage of wagons so much as that the wagons are not made the most efficient use of, and I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to advise with the various railway companies to see what can be done to avoid these delays. We have been told when we have complained to the Department that we should make our complaint to the railway company.
We have done that on the North-East coast. We have been to the Board at York, and they have come to us. We have discussed the question with them. They tell us that they are doing all that they can, but, notwithstanding that, the position on the North-East coast is such that the stocks now waiting for trucks are three times as large as they were in March last year. We are reaching a deplorable state of things, and therefore I again urge the hon. Gentleman not only to hasten the return of the wagons from France, but also to expedite the movement of wagons here from point to point. It may be said that to do this would involve the adoption of the three-shift system. I made that suggestion some time ago, and the reply was that if they had the three-shift system on the railways it would be necessary also to have three shifts at the works. But in our district men are working on the three-shift system, and there would be no difficulty in keeping a staff standing by the whole of the night in order to deal with material which we cannot get and which the whole of the works are standing in need of. I hope the hon. Member in charge of this Vote will convey to the railway companies the seriousness of this problem, which is holding up the production of goods so seriously wanted. The remedy is in his hands, if he will only 1342 make more efficient use of the facilities he has. If he docs that, the £181,000 ho is asking for to-day will be money well spent in ensuring more efficient services.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
There is a strong feeling in the country and, as is apparent from this afternoon's Debate, in this House also, that the Ministry of Transport has not fulfilled the expectations which its authors promised when the Bill was before the House. I think experience has shown that if we bring complaints before the Ministry, they state that they cannot remedy the matter because it is one within the province of the railway company, while if we approach the railway companies they tell us it is a matter for the Ministry. So for the only result of the formation of the Ministry of Transport has been to incur a very large amount of expenditure, and to give excuses to various bodies to put off doing what is demanded by the public. That being the case, it is very unfortunate that to-day, when these large Estimates come on, in the very first year of the existence of the Ministry, and when therefore we really want to know what it's policy is going to be, it is very unfortunate that the Minister of Transport is not here. I understand he is not well; I am glad to hear that his illness is only temporary, and under the circumstances I would suggest that, if possible, the Vote be withdrawn and put down for one day next week, so that we may have the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman's attendance. I say that in no disparagement of the Parliamentary Secretary I am sure he will do his best to answer questions, but he has not been in office for very long, and it would be quite impossible to get from him all the explanations which the House would naturally demand We want to know something, for instance, about the enormous salaries that are to be paid. I therefore suggest that, if possible, and I believe it to be possible, the Vote should now be withdrawn and put down for another day.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I join with other hon. Members in congratulating the Parliamentary Secretary on the statement he made in introducing this Estimate. I have no particular quarrel with the Ministry of Transport. My point is that the powers which the Minister has got are 1343 insufficient for the task which he has undertaken. I was a member of the Ways and Communications Committee upstairs, and I noticed that the powers proposed to be conferred in the original Bill were such as would have enabled the Minister to do his work much more effectively than those he now possesses. I quite agree that it is too much to expect that in the short period of six months during which the Ministry of Transport has been in existence, it should have performed miracles. That would be too much to expect from any Government authority. The time has been too short, and in addition to that, at the date at which the Minister commenced his duties, congestion was at its very height, and how could it possibly be expected that it could be remedied within six months? May I venture to express the opinion that the Minister of Transport has been contaminated with the prevailing condition of congestion. I am not a financier, but I have glanced over the Headquarters Establishment and have noticed the numerous offices which it is proposed to create. There is a Secretary and Solicitor, who will receive a salary of £3,750. Lower down I see there is an Assistant Solicitor who will receive £1,200, an assistant to the Solicitor who will receive £1,020, and another assistant to Solicitor who will get £700, while professional assistant to the Solicitor will receive £500. But the unfortunate Labour Adviser to the Ministry of Labour, with whom I have every sympathy, and who, I venture to say, will do as much work as the six or seven gentlemen I have named, receives the munificent salary of £500 per year. I want to submit that in this particular, at all events, there appears to be considerable congestion in the Head quarters Establishment, We talk of the principle of "one man, one job," but in this particular office we apparently have seven men for one job.
My main point is that the powers of the Minister of Transport are not sufficient to meet the case, and that the powers originally intended to be given to him having been taken out of the Bill which has now become an Act, we cannot expect the right hon. Gentleman to perform miracles with such very meagre material. The Parliamentary Secretary last night told us that the railways manage their own business in their own way, and that it is intended to allow them to go on 1344 doing that. That is my point. If I have any quarrel at all with the Minister of Transport it is because I object to the railway companies being allowed under existing conditions to manage their business in their own way. That is the crux of the whole situation. A question has been asked as to the coastwise traffic, and the effects upon it of the railway subsidy. The truth is that this coastwise traffic is almost paralysed owing to the subsidy given to the railways conferring on them a great advantage in the points of tonnage and tariffs. Fifty per cent. of the coastwise ports were closed during the War and the bulk of them are yet closed, and the coastwise trade is handicapped by the fact that when we go in for an advance of wages to meet the increased cost of living we are told, very pertinently, by the coastwise owners, "if we give you any more money we shall have to raise the tariff and we are now competing with the railways, which are subsidised, and the result is that we are going to lose our coastwise trade. There is no denying that at all. These ports are still closed owing to the fact that the coastwise trade is severely handicapped by the agreements which have been made with the railways. I hope the hon. Gentleman will relieve the congestion by making the conditions better for the coastwise traffic as compared with the railways.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I want to direct attention to the real meaning of the whole Estimates which are now submitted. We are asked to approve Votes amounting to £181,000, but in reality we are asked to do a great deal more than that, because that sum covers the service of a new Ministry for a portion of the year. If we approve of this Vote we are giving approval to the whole system which has been adopted and set up by this Ministry. I have worked out a few figures based upon one year's service. Under Section 1 the total submitted amounts to £4,555. The total for the same officials calculated for one year, taking the minimum salary, amounts to £7,350. Under Section 2 the total submitted is £7,555, while the total annual service, which will be the burden that we accept if we pass these Votes, is £14,300. Under the Development Department, Section 3, the amount submitted is £6,991, and the annual service will amount to £17,780. Under Section 4 1345 the comparison is £9,946 supplementary against annual £19,950. The remaining sections follow pretty much the same ratio. In respect of the item of £125,534, the total annual service amounts to £236,501, so that we are approving an item there of about £110,000 greater than the figures submitted, for we are in reality approving an annual service amounting to about £300,000 against a vote of £181,000 for the portion of the year covered by this Estimate. I have also had the curiosity to make a comparison of the remuneration and pay of the principal officers, and I thought it would not be a bad standard to take the highest-paid secretary in any other Departments—say the Treasury and the Foreign Office, the two most highly paid in the country. They amount in those two Departments to £2,500. In all other Departments they are substantially less. I have taken the two highest in the most responsible State positions. I have taken the principal offices here, Directors-General, etc., the highly-paid men in the Ministry of Transport. There are about 15 of them and they average out at something like £3,000 per annum. You have a complete Cabinet and the complete remuneration of a Cabinet. And this is how it is proposed to start to effect economy! If you average the first 238, including these highly paid officials I have mentioned, you get an average for large and small of £641. It is an extraordinary establishment, and we must be prepared to see some truly magical results if we are to engage a staff of this magnitude remunerated on this scale.
I have not the slightest desire to adopt an absurd attitude, or to criticise this new Ministry merely for the sake of criticism. I shall be delighted to give it all the assistance which can possibly be given if it be shown to be for the good of the country at large. About a year ago the then Minister Designate told us what the Ministry was to do, and we are entitled to ask him or the Parliamentary Secretary to reconcile this expenditure with what was to be accomplished by the setting up of this Ministry. If he fails to do that the Vote ought not to be granted. The right hon. Gentleman said last year that behind the Bill was co-ordination, unified control of all transportation and the elimination of waste. Unless the docks were to be under the Ministry he could not ensure 1346 economy, which alone would avert calamity. Unless he was given the powers he asked for he would have to put up goods rates 70 or 80 per cent. They are only a few, but they fairly represent what the right hon. Gentleman said when submitting his Bill for Second Reading. I searched the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary last night to find one word of justification of that general policy which was outlined last year. I defy anyone to say there was anything in the speech last night which justified the expenditure of this money in the achievement of objects which the right hon. Gentleman said last year he would achieve if he was given power to set up this Ministry. I expected that the Parliamentary Secretary would give us in great detail some of the economies which were to be effected. We cannot expect him to show us great economies which have already been effected, but after the lapse of six months we are at least entitled to say, "let us see where these economies are to be brought about: how far have you advanced in giving effect to them?" Surely that is not pressing criticism too far, and surely he should be able to show that in the course of six months he has arrived at a certain point and accomplished a certain amount which will give some justification for this Vote. But not a word indicating where the economy is to be effected. I was delighted to hear him say that there was a saving of £50,000,000, and I have been searching to see how he effected it. I find he was referring to an additional £50,000,000 which has been collected from the consumer by additional goods rates, and that is what he calls stopping a leakage, by charging the traders £50,000,000 more on the new rates fixed by the Rates Advisory Committee. If they are going to go on effecting economies and stopping leaks in that way, God help the country, because if he is only going to stop leaks by making charges on other people and that is the only bung that he has to stop the hole and prevent anything running out, we are indeed in for a bad time.
The Parliamentary Secretary said last night that the Act was the redemption of a pledge at the last election. The pledge given at the last election was to give improved travelling facilities. Is there a sign at present of improved travelling facilities? Not a sign anywhere. I do 1347 not press it too far, but did the Parliamentary Secretary indicate anywhere where these improved facilities were coming from? What has been done since the institution of the Ministry of Transport to found this service, and when may we expect these improved facilities to be available? All we have so far, and the Parliamentary Secretary has said nothing to prove to the contrary, is absolute mess and muddle and the Parliamentary establishment of bureaucracy.
§ Mr. ATKEY
I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the admirable speech he made last night. It was typical of the best Parliamentary effort, inasmuch as it led those of us who succumbed to its sway to believe that in this new Ministry of Transport we have started the first instalment of the "new Heaven and the new earth." I, unfortunately, come into contact with the stern and horrible realities of the position, and they differ very materially from the very charming and alluring picture which my hon. Friend painted last night. He is, of course, a past master in the art of making black look almost spotlessly white, but I can assure the Committee, from my own experience of what is really happening in the transport world to-day, that the situation is quite as black as my hon. Friend succeeded in painting it the purest white last night. In the commercial world there is very great trouble. I desire to place before the Committee an alternative view of the situation so that they may judge between the two pictures, and, I hope, arrive at some decision which may be materially helpful to those who are primarily concerned with this great transport problem. In the country, more especially in the great centres of industry, the tune is not the happy one that we heard last night. The real tune which is being played by the Ministry of Transport in the cities is really the "Dead March in Saul"—or in Nottingham, London, and elsewhere. According to the Parliamentary Secretary, the strain is the "Hallelujah Chorus."
I feel bound to draw attention to the more sombre side of the situation and to urge the Committee that they must not allow to remain permanently on their minds the impression that was conveyed to them last night by the eloquence of the Parliamentary Secretary. He told us that 1348 the object of this Department was to improve the transport facilities of the country. In that he will have the hearty co-operation and support of every Member of the Committee, but, unfortunately, what has happened up to now is that throughout the country, so far as the transport system is concerned, we have succeeded in obtaining nothing but paralysis of energy and initiative on the railway systems. He told us what he thought would surprise the Committee—and it certainly was a revelation to me, and must have been to many other hon. Members—that the Minister of Transport was not concerned with the details of railway administration. He was not concerned with troubles of the trader or the difficulties of the traveller. That is altogether beneath his function. The only object of the Ministry of Transport Act, and therefore, I presume of the Ministry, is, we were told, to enable the Minister to form an opinion as to the advice which he will give to this House when the powers bestowed upon him are about to lapse. That seems to me to be a very extraordinary function for a Minister to undertake, and in view of the methods which he has adopted to be able to form that opinion, the figures that either this country or any individual have ever had to pay for expert advice in all the ages, will fall into insignificance compared with the price we have to pay for the expert opinion as to what is to be done, by the country when this Act ceases to be operative.
At the same time I think he is to be congratulated in no measured terms upon the steps that he has taken to assure himself that the advice he will receive will be of an exceptional character. He apparently does not feel that he ought to impose his own advice upon the House. I do not know whether he is too modest to suppose that his own capacity is sufficient, or whether he thinks that it ought to be reinforced. The fact remains that he has surrounded himself with a galaxy of talent the like of which has never before been placed at the service of any Minister of the Crown. We are going to pay in the ensuing twelve months something like £300,000 for advice which is to be tendered to the Minister of Transport, over which I suppose he will meditate during the next twelve months, and then finally this House will wait with bated breath the great results which will 1349 follow the accumulation of this colossal mental effort. I shall not be agreeable to support a policy of that character, and I hope this Committee will take some steps to correct the perspective of the Minister, who has assumed that this House has given him carte blanche, without any limit, to engage staff to any extent, and of such a magnitude. There are six or seven "generals." I suppose that is a phrase reminiscent of the War They are called director-generals, but I presume they are real "generals," and they average something like £3,000 a year each.
I was very much interested in the interpretation of the transformation of opinion by the canal owners that was given by the Parliamentary Secretary. He told us, with the natural pride of a Minister in his own Department, that so far from the Ministry of Transport being a body which these authorities did not desire to join, the very people who protested against the formation of the Ministry were now so converted by the magnificence of its organisation, that they have asked to come under its beneficent sway. It may be that they have been influenced by the views expressed by my hon. Friend; but I have been told by some of those who are directly interested in canals that the only reason why they want to come under the Ministry of Transport is because the action of the Ministry of Transport and the Government control of the railways has threatened them with absolute ruin, and they are anxious to "get in out of the wet," so to speak, and come under the protection of the Ministry of Transport in order to save their assets.
Will, the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what practical steps the Ministry propose to take to convert the present paralysis existing on the railway systems into something like pre-War initiative? Business people before the War in the large centres of industry were waited on daily by three or four representatives of railway companies who were keen on securing their business. Those same three or four railway companies are just as anxious to dodge your business to-day as they were to secure it before. We are entitled to know what kind of injection the Ministry proposes to use upon those corporate bodies in order to restore some of their pre-War vitality, which has apparently become entirely paralysed by Government control.
1350 There are three points on which I desire the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport to furnish information. During the last six months I have had occasion to raise the subject of the interavailability facilities for travellers on railways, and the action of certain railways, where they run in duplicate to certain towns, in refusing to grant passengers interavailable facilities, thereby causing the greatest inconvenience and trouble. Those facilities have only been secured after constant efforts. Prior to the Ministry of Transport being formed the Board of Trade said they had no power to deal with the matter. Since the Ministry of Transport has been in power there has been very little improvement in that respect.
The second point deals with the Bill which has passed through this House in June, 1915, by which the Corporation of Nottingham are bound to improve the navigation of the river Trent. That Bill placed upon them the powers and obligations of the Trent Navigation Company, and under the seal of the corporation they are required to carry out that much needed improvement. So far as I can see there is no reason why the Minister of Transport, who wants the waterways to be improved, and wants to see some practical results from the inception of the Ministry, should not see that that improvement of an important waterway of this country is inaugurated forthwith. The men are ready for the work, the materials are ready, the Corporation is ready, and the scheme could be started within twenty-four hours of the Ministry giving the necessary authority, and recommending to the Treasury the financial support which the Development Commissioners agreed to give in 1915. In view of the lavish expenditure which has been recommended by the Ministry of Transport in connection with its own staff, the least they can do when there is practical work available which is greatly needed, and generally admitted to be from the greatest possible advantage, is to see that the work is started with the least possible delay.
It is doubtless in the memory of the Committee that I have for some time past been drawing attention to the closing of the gate of a railway station in Nottingham. The inception of this incident is 1351 now getting quite historical. On the 1st July last, which is a red letter day for me, because it happened to be my birthday, I started to celebrate that happy event by trying to do a little good for 2,000 or 3,000 of my own fellow-citizens, but my efforts did not meet with enthusiastic support from the then President of the Board of Trade. Although he condescended to answer questions in the most perfect Government style, he either gave no information at all, or gave incorrect information. It was an attempt to postpone further consideration in the hope that the questioner would get tired first. I cannot get tired of this job, for the very good and sufficient reason that so long as the present situation obtains in Nottingham there are 2,000 or 3,000 people at least who are irritated every day. One of the first principles of democratic government is that a Member of this House should give representation to the feelings of his constituents. Therefore I am helpless in this matter. I hope that the Committee will come to the rescue of the Ministry of Transport, because one day, when one hon. Friend took pity on me and asked a supplementary question, as to the person from whom would he take advice, the Minister of Transport said he would take his instructions from the House of Commons.
This is the first opportunity I have had of appealing to the House to impress upon the Minister that the time has arrived when he should, to use an American expression, really "sit up and take notice" that something is required of him. I am afraid that the real merits of this question have got lost sight of owing to the fact that the Department has more or less pledged itself to support an official opinion instead of the opinion of this House, and I appeal with sincerity and confidence to this House, because while this is a small incident it involves a big principle—whether this House is going to permit the advice of one of its Members to be over-ridden in favour of the view of the minor official of a railway company. I have used every endeavour to persuade the Government to help the people of Nottingham in this respect, but the Under-Secretaries—I have spoken to two—have both taken the same attitude. "I have the greatest sympathy with you, but I cannot take any notice of you. "We must rely on the advice which we are given." 1352 That is very interesting. I wonder who is giving the advice? He seems to be a railway official. I said, "Who is to to counterbalance the railway official? I am inclined to think that Members of Parliament should be able to impress on you advice which would be on a parity with a minor railway official." My hon. Friend said that that could not possibly prevail. I said, "Will you suggest to me any person? If I get five Members of the House of Commons, do you think that their concerted opinion would balance that of a minor railway official?" He said he did not think so. I said, "If can get the Prime Minister to express an opinion on the subject, do you think that that might count?" I saw him wavering when it came to a question of the Prime Minister, and he went so far as to prejudice his particular view by saying, "Well, perhaps we might be inclined to take some little notice of the opinion of the Prime Minister."
The people of Nottingham have decided to confer upon the Prime Minister the Freedom of the City, and I am therefore hopeful that it may be possible to induce the Prime Minister to travel to Nottingham by the Midland Railway, and if by some beneficent act of Providence we could only get him to arrive when this state of congestion and worry of the people of that city prevailed, I am quite certain that our hopes would be fulfilled and that the annoyance and irritation caused daily to thousands of people would be removed. But really, Parliament is reduced to a farce if on a comparatively small matter of this character the expressed view of a representative of the people is to be ignored and shelved as this matter has been. I would be quite satisfied, however, if my hon. Friend will convey to the Minister of Transport as from this House that I have secured for him the necessary evidence which will justify him in acceding to my request, by giving to the people of Nottingham that access to the street and to the station which will be of such material advantage to the thousands of people who use that station every day.
On the question of coastal traffic, my voice is sometimes like that of a voice crying in the wilderness: but this afternoon it was refreshing to hear two Members of this House discuss the question of coastal traffic and its relation to the Ministry of Transport. 1353 When the Bill was going through the House the matter was referred to, but since it became an Act the Minister seems to be entirely obsessed by the railway mind. That is probably natural, seeing that we have a big railway magnate at the head of the Ministry, but when last night I heard my hon. Friend (Mr. Neal) in his admirable speech mention the fact that an Admiral had been put in charge of the Development Department of the Ministry, then I thought, "Here I have my chance at last; now we will hear something about coastal traffic." I asked in passing about the relation of this Admiral to coastal traffic. He looked at me as if I were a phenomenon and passed on and told me that this Admiral's chief function was to deal with light railways. Think of the waste of talent in this Ministry of talent to have an Admiral in charge of light railways when you have a big problem of coastal traffic on which to exercise his professional knowledge. I hope that when the Development Department is working my hon. Friend will remind the Admiral that there is such a thing as salt water surrounding the British Isles, and that we do not all get to our homes by railways; that some of us have to get there by sea and also to get our food and other supplies by sea.
When the Bill was going through I asked the Home Secretary if it had anything to do with coastal traffic, and he told me it had. I then let the matter sleep for a while. Then I put a question to the Minister, and he told me that it had very little to do with coastal traffic. The question of coastal traffic has been mixed up between a dozen Departments. I put a question to the Postmaster-General. He tells me that he has only got to deal with the carriage of letters, and things of that sort. The Minister of Food could not attend to it. The Minister of Shipping tried to do his best. Then I went to the Treasury, but the reply was unsatisfactory. Then I put a question to the Prime Minister, as I thought I would get to the top, and he referred me to the Treasury. I thought that the Treasury would reply when I drew attention to the question of coastal traffic on the Consolidated Fund Bill, and it was not the Secretary to the Treasury, but the Secretary of Scotland who was put up to reply, and he said that he was not sure whether he was the proper Minister to deal with the matter. That 1354 is the sort of way in which the Government have dealt with the question of coastal traffic which interests a great number of the people of this country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, whose persistence with regard to that everlasting gate will, I hope, be rewarded as it ought to be, told us that 2,000 people were inconvenienced, perhaps kept 2½ minutes late, by this gate; but on account of the very defective condition of coastal traffic in many parts of the country, especially on the West Coast of Scotland, a vast population is affected. I am not referring to my own constituency alone. Every county is involved, and when my hon. Friend comes back as Member for Argyllshire, as I am sure he will, he will come back laden with promises to ask the Ministry of Transport to look after coastal traffic. It is the great question that concerns the people of the West Coast of Scotland at the present time, and deserves the serious attention of the Ministry, which should not be devoted merely to the people who are supplied by railways, but should also be concerned with the convenience of those people who are dependent entirely upon seaborne traffic for passenger service, food supplies, getting produce to market, and every other convenience. My hon. Friend did refer to coastal traffic last night, but not in the sense in which I wanted him to refer to it. He told us that a subsidy was given to encourage coastal traffic in order to relieve the railways. I want him to apply his mind to those places that have no railways and are entirely dependent on coastal traffic, and to see that facilities for getting about and getting goods are made as convenient for those people in those out-of-the-way places, those outposts of Empire, so to speak, as for those who are dependent upon railways.
It is not a question of inconveniencing 2,000 people for 2½ minutes, but of inconveniencing from 200,000 to 300,000 people, and sometimes those who want to travel are held up many days because of the lack of transport facilities. I wish particularly to thank my hon. Friend, the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). He was the first Member not from the Highlands who referred to the matter in this House. The Ministry has not realised what a question of life and death it is to these people. I can congratulate the Government upon the Smallholders Bill and the Land Settlement Bill, but 1355 there is no use in settling men upon land in any part of Scotland, and especially in any part of the Highlands and islands, unless transport facilities are increased pari passu. During the War at the busiest time there was a Transport Committee sent roving all over Scotland. It used up all our petrol, going about in motor cars, telling us that this was a very urgent question and must be settled at once. What has been the result? An increase of transport facilities? No. In those places where such facilities are most needed they have been reduced by one-half. The Member for East Edinburgh referred to the. Island of Lewis. For the last forty years there has been daily communication between the island and the mainland. Now we are sent back to the dark ages of fifty years ago when the facilities were quite as good as they are now, for they are now reduced to three days a week. Here in England you have mails seven days a week, everywhere except in the Metropolitan Area. The Government can save a lot of money by taking away that seventh day service. Nobody but a lunatic would want to be bothered with letters on a Sunday. But if that money were saved—we do not want the Sunday delivery in Scotland for we know the Fourth Commandment there—the transport facilities could in that way be increased in those places that have a mail service transport, not seven days in the week, but only three days in the week and in some cases only two days.
I think the people of these parts deserve better of this country than to be treated in that way. If you are to have any kind of real reconstruction in the Highland and the islands, you cannot have it without improved transport facilities. The Committee to which I have referred found that the facilities then existing ought to be improved, and they recommended accordingly. That was when we had a daily service between the islands and the mainland. Now, instead of the recommendation being carried out, we have the transport facilities reduced by half. Those who have travelled on the West Coast of Scotland must have noticed the large number of motor-cars which are running about. I would advise the. Ministry to sell some of those cars and to buy a yacht. The Minister can then see many places where the travelling 1356 facilities are far behind the age, places where there are no piers and where in stormy weather some of the small ferry boats are in danger. These are only a sample of the questions which I would like to bring to the notice of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, in order that he may pass them on to the Minister of Transport, and I would especially commend him to draw the attention of the Director-General of Development, Admiral de Bartolomé, to the matter, so that his professional interest may be set going. These are questions that involve the comfort and welfare, and almost the existence, of a large section of the population of Scotland, and they cannot be neglected as they have been up to now.
§ Mr. INSKIP
The appeal which the hon. Member for the Western Isles has made, like that of the hon. Member for Nottingham, must, I am afriad, fall upon deaf ears, because if I interpret correctly the purport of the speech last night of the. Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, it was that the Ministry of Transport takes a benevolent interest in all that goes on on the railways, but never presumes to interfere or to suggest any improvement in the way in which the railway companies carry on their business. The Parliamentary Secretary last night went so far as to say that it was a mistake on the part of people to think that the Ministry of Transport was attempting to regulate and control the internal management and working of the railways of this country. Probably a great many of us were under the impression that the Ministry was; taking a very close and intimate interest-in the regulation and control and the internal management and working of the railways. Now that we hear that the Ministry is not taking that part, I think the House is anxious to know what really is the work of the Ministry of Transport. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) last night intervened and asked what the Ministry of Transport did, and the Parliamentary Secretary replied: "I will deal with that before I sit down." We listened with great interest to hear the hon. Member deal with the matter. It is quite true that we had a recital of the very distinguished gentlemen who are in receipt of salaries varying from £3,000 to £5,000 a year in the Ministry of Transport, and were in- 1357 formed what were the activities of these various gentlemen, who are distinguished and eminent in their particular line; but we had not a single word from the Parliamentary Secretary to inform the House as to what the Ministry is doing in that which was supposed to be the real work of the Ministry, namely, the reforming of the inland transport of the United Kingdom.
An hon. Member has pointed out the enormous expense of the Ministry of Transport, and that what we are voting to-day, £181,000, is only a very small part of that which we shall have to vote next year. It appears that even this sum does not represent the whole of the staff at the disposal of the Ministry, because the Parliamentary Secretary informed us that the Ministry works partly through the existing staffs of the railway companies and other transport organisations. We may, therefore, assume that he has at his disposal, not only the services of those directly employed in the Ministry, but the very large staffs of the railway companies, who, presumably, have to prepare, return and provide information for the Minister of Transport as they may be directed by him. What I want to get from the Parliamentary Secretary is some information as to the part which the Minister of Transport is playing in the internal management of the railway companies. Perhaps I may give an illustration of the difficulty of discovering who is responsible for these matters. Some time ago I was anxious, at the instance of a person interested in a very large wagon building concern, to discover who is responsible for the delay in placing orders with works which would be thrown idle if no orders were given for railway wagons. I was informed by the Ministry of Transport, in the most courteous manner possible, that the Ministry had no concern with these matters at all. Then I was informed by the railway company that the orders that the railway companies were prepared to give and the tenders had been submitted to the Ministry, and that no progress could be made. Those; orders, therefore, were approved by the Ministry of Transport. I find this is confirmed, because the Parliamentary Secretary said: "The railway companies place orders after consultation with the Ministry." I do not know what that means if it is not interference with the internal management of 1358 that which is properly the business of the railway companies.
Does the Ministry interfere or not with the internal management of the railway companies? The sooner we understand and the country understands what is the truth, the sooner the country will be able to reform for itself the undoubted evils of the transport system. It is too notorious to require elaboration that the transport system is in a state of chaos. We do not blame the Ministry for it, but we do say that the Ministry should make it plain that it is not going to take any part in reforming these evils until the expiration of the two years which the Minister is given to think about the matter. If he proposes to do nothing at all, then the country will go to the railway companies and discover what the companies are doing to reform the evil. Unfortunately, we have not oven the opportunities of getting from the railway companies the information that we used to get. It used to be possible for the owner of a private wagon to make an enquiry from a company as to the destination of the wagon, where it was lying on demurrage, and when it was expected to return. Answers to these enquiries are now refused by the railway companies with the express approval of the Minister of Transport; he approves that officials of the railway companies should withhold information or refuse to make enquiries as to the transit of the wagons, on account of the additional work which it would throw upon the hardly pressed staffs of the companies. If there was not a Minister of Transport to back up the railway companies in that amazing refusal, no body of traders would stand it for a moment from a company. Private owners of wagons are in a state of confusion as to where they are with regard to the wagons. We were told this afternoon, and no doubt truly, that there was no pool of privately-owned wagons. What we want to know is what is the measure of control which the Ministry exercises in these matters?
I am not blaming the Parliamentary Secretary. I am sure the House recognises to the full the heavy burden which he has taken upon himself in the absence of the Minister of Transport. But I am sure he will understand that the country and this House expect an explicit statement of what the Ministry is doing in such matters in so far as the internal 1359 management of the companies is concerned. Is the Minister interfering or not? That is the question I want to put. If he is not interfering, does that mean that the railway companies are responsible to exactly the same extent as before the War for every mistake and all lack of proper management? If so, I shall expect that in future, when an hon. Member for Nottingham asks a question as to the closing of a railway exit at Nottingham Station, the Minister or his representative will give a reply that it has nothing on earth to do with him, and that the hon. Member had better apply to the Station master at Nottingham. The fact is that it is very difficult for us to discover from this Vote or from the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary exactly what the Ministry is doing. That is my apology for intervening in this Debate. I feel that in some measure the House is responsible. We took the Ministry of Transport Bill on trust. We were told that great things would be done. It is not unnatural, when we see this enormous expenditure, and see very little done, though a great deal may have been begun, that we want to enquire what has been done. I should have liked to have seen some division of, these figures, showing the old work and the new work, that is to say, the transferred services and the new services. I should like to know how much of this expenditure is due to the work of the Board of Trade and other Departments and how much to the new activities of the Minister of Transport. Then we could gauge how far the Minister is intervening in the control and regulation of transport.
I desire to call attention to one other matter which has been referred to, and that is the return of wagons from France up to the middle of last month. I would really like to get some information as to what is being done about these wagons. I understand that very large numbers, some thousands, have been sold to Belgium at a price of £30 each, delivered in Belgium, and that very much larger prices were offered by other countries, including Roumania. The hon. Gentleman told us last night that the Ministry had been stimulating the return of wagons from France. Can he tell us what is the stimulus he applies to the Disposals Board or whatever body is concerned? Is it the fact that wagons are 1360 being sold to foreign countries, and is that being done as a piece of philanthropy or business? Is the hon. Gentleman able to tell us that we are getting all the wagons from abroad to which we are entitled, and that none are to be sold at any price. When he tells us that he is stimulating their return from abroad, we wish him God speed in that process, and we only hope that he will apply a more effective stimulus to secure the return of a larger number of wagons, The Parliamentary Secretary in his speech rather twitted the House in asking him to take over the canals. At any rate, that request showed a genuine belief in the powers he possesses and the goodwill which we suppose him to have in exercising those powers. I do not think he ought to have twitted the House or any Members who desired to see the canals taken over. The fact is that the canals are nobody's child. Moreover, the Minister has the advantage of an elaborate and exhaustive Report of a Commission on Canals, which sat for a long time, and yet, after six or eight months' reflection by the Ministry, the only child which is born is a Committee on this question of canals. That Committee has not yet been set up and the terms of reference have not been decided upon. When are we going to have the canals made use of in this country? If there is one matter which the Ministry could have taken up without treading on anybody's toes, it is that of the derelict canals. If these matters to which I have been referring, namely, the chaos on the railways, the return of railway wagons, and the proper use of the canals, appeared to be matters to which the Ministry have been attending, and as to which they had been exercising some proper powers of management, then the House would gladly pay £180,000 or £280,000. When we see these large salaries paid to gentlemen who, so far, appear to have done very little beyond on the old Departmental lines, then we begin to inquire whether they are not highly paid for the services they perform.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I should like an explanation with regard to a matter of war bonus mentioned in a footnote in this Estimate. It is very difficult to understand how much the actual salaries amount to because in the footnote it is pointed out that a great many of the larger salaries get a war bonus. If it 1361 turns out that the giving of a war bonus brings these salaries down to an amount which is not larger than that paid for equal service in other Departments, I have nothing more to say. There are in this Estimate ten gentlemen on the permanent staff of the Ministry of Transport who are going to have over £2,000 per year. Before this Debate took place, I took the trouble to look up Whitaker in the library, and I find that there are only three other instances in the whole of the Government Departments, where civil servants are given more than £2,000 per year. One case is that of the Foreign Office where the Permanent Under-Secretary gets £2,500 per year. The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury gets £2,500 per year, and the Parliamentary Counsel to the Treasury also gets £2,500 per year. In every other case, right through all the Government Departments, no other civil servant gets more than £2,000 per year, yet under this Vote there are no less than ten members of the staff of the Ministry of Transport who get over £2,000 per year each. I do not know what the war bonus amounts to, but I can hardly believe that it accounts for the amount over £2,000. In one case it is £2,800 per year and in another case £2,500 per year. If it really is the case that ten of the transport staff are getting these very much larger salaries than those received by other Departments of the State, then I am quite sure it will lead in future to a demand from those civil servants who do equally responsible work to have their salaries raised to like amounts.
§ Mr. NEAL
I do not think the footnote is very clearly worded, but the fact is that no war bonus is paid to these particular officials. The war bonus scale for civil servants, as I am informed, is at present a lump sum of £60 plus 30 per cent. of their salary not exceeding £500.
§ Mr. SEDDON
Who fixed the salaries?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The statement by the Parliamentary Secretary makes my case very much stronger. That means than ten of the transport staff are receiving far bigger salaries than the vast majority of civil servants.
§ Mr. SEDDON
Who fixed their salaries?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The fact that they are getting no war bonus may 1362 reduce it to a certain extent, but it does not make all the difference. I am quite sure it will result in a demand from other people who have got tremendously important duties to perform. You have the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, the Permanent Under-Secretary to the Colonies and to the India Office, and the Secretary to the Post Office who do not, get over £2,000 per year, and I think it is rather hard, therefore, that in a now department very much higher salaries are to be given for work not more important or arduous.
§ Mr. F. C. THOMSON
In spite of the attitude of detachment assumed by the Parliamentary Secretary to questions about the improvement of railway service, I venture to put before him a concrete case which I submit requires immediate attention. For a long time the North of Scotland has been much hampered by the exceedingly slow service of the mail trains. Take my own constituency, the City of Aberdeen. The mails coming from the South are frequently not delivered until past mid-day, and the train going south leaves early in the afternoon, giving an extremely short period of time for business purposes between the arrival of the mail and its departure for the south. It is quite obvious that that is a severe handicap on people in business and trade in the North of Scotland. During the War those delays were absolutely necessary, but I think the time has come when the Minister should inquire and endeavour to see if at a very early date some considerable acceleration cannot be brought about. One has tried the Post Office again and again with this question, and one is told by them that it is a matter for the transport authorities. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not say that this is a question for another Department. I think he himself could do much to bring pressure to bear in this question as to which there has been a very long delay. He will recognise that it is very important, and I hope it will have his immediate attention.
It gives me great pleasure to support the appeal just made in respect of the postal service on the East coast. The conditions in my own constituency (Montrose Burghs) are very similar to those which he describes. I go beyond that one complaint and ask the 1363 Parliamentary Secretary to enter rather more fully into the question of the exact control which the Ministry exercises over the railway service in the country. Having listened to the interesting speech he made last night, and having read it carefully to-day, I think it does leave some room for doubt as to the exact functions which the Ministry exercises. I do not speak as a critic of the Ministry but rather as a friend. The present conditions which prevail in most parts of the country, not only on the industrial side but also on the passenger side, are being attributed by the railway companies themselves as largely due to Government interference. I supported the establishment of the Ministry of Transport. To-day I have listened to Member after Member who opposed the establishment of the Ministry getting up and making most elaborate criticisms of the results. I submit that that is perfectly unreasonable. They disliked the idea of the Ministry from the beginning, and now to-day, some seven or eight months after it has been set going, they rise and they point to the size of the salaries paid and other costs incurred by the Ministry and say, "What have you got to show for it?" The thing is preposterous, and yet they pose as business men. They know-that in their own business they might have gone in for a large expenditure, but they would not expect their shareholders to come and tackle them within a year and say, "What have you secured for all that large expenditure? I hope that the Committee will give the Ministry every chance to carry out its elaborate programme. It is the biggest scheme which the Government has embarked on, and whether it be the question of canals or anything else I am perfectly confident of the future of the Ministry if it is given fair play and not constantly subjected to niggling and nagging criticism. I trust that the Committee will press for the Ministry developing its full powers, and that is why I rose. Having knowledge of many local complaints as regards the railway service, the treatment of season ticket holders, and the inadequacy of many of the arrangements made, I wish to appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to use his full powers in looking after the railway companies and in giving them all the stimulus they need in order to get back, not only to pre-war conditions, but, 1364 I sincerely hope, to something better than pre-war conditions.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE
I wish to raise a question which has not been dealt with so far, and that is the question of the congestion at the London Docks. I am fortified in my belief that it may be possible to obtain some answer from the Parliamentary Secretary as to what steps are being taken by the Ministry to enquire into and deal with the existing situation by the fact that yesterday afternoon the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell), in speaking about a Motion which he had on the Paper relating to this question, was told by the Leader of the House that as the Ministry of Transport Vote was coming on he would have an opportunity of raising the question then, and that the Ministry of Transport would be glad to receive any suggestions that he liked to make. I have no suggestions to make, but I think the Committee and the country are entitled to hear from the Ministry if any, and, if so, what steps are being taken to deal with the very serious state of affairs existing, not only in the London Docks, but also in other ports of the country. Yesterday, in his amazing speech—I use the word because I think the Committee and the country were amazed to hear that the Ministry of Transport was not really interfering or dealing with the administration of railway affairs and that, in fact, it was only at present considering all the aspects of the transport question—in that speech the Parliamentary Secretary said the Development Department was the Department which was dealing with the question of docks. I do not know whether that is the Department which deals with the London Docks, but, if so, I suggest that instead of having only a director-general and three assistant-directors, instead of this being an expensive staff, that staff is not nearly large enough to deal with the problem. At the present time the congestion in the London Docks is extremely serious. It was publicly stated to be so last week by the Chairman of the Port of London Authority, who gave numerous illustrations, not only of how many months' supply of meat were in the country, but of how many more months' supply were actually on the water, and altogether I thing something between seven and nine months' supply were in sight or coming 1365 to the docks. He mentioned the congestion in the wool imports at the London Docks, and also the question of tea, and he put the blame principally on the Ministry of Shipping, but other people put it on the railways, and I believe that in Ministry of Shipping circles the opinion is expressed that it is entirely the fault of the Ministry of Food, or, on the other hand, of the Ministry of Transport.
It seems to be a sort of triangular duel between the great public Departments, and nothing is being done in the meantime to clear the situation. There are ships arriving in the Thames and waiting for a very long time, and I know of one case where a big Atlantic liner arrived on December 24th last and lay in the Thames for two solid months without being unloaded. That is going on, not only in the case of one ship but of many ships, and the resultant loss in demurrage and so on, and in the working of these steamers, is, of course, adding to the cost of goods, and is a very large contributing factor to the rising tide of high prices. Therefore, it is a matter which ought to be dealt with immediately, if possible, by the Government, and steps ought to be taken to improve the situation. The Port of London Authority are not able to do it by themselves, and I think the Committee will support me in suggesting that it is a question for the Ministry of Transport to deal with, and that when we have a concentration of cerebral power like that mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary last night as the Heads of these various Departments—some of the cleverest men at this sort of problem in the country—all assembled in the Ministry of Transport, the country will expect them to deal with this matter as speedily as possible. The question is one which does not only affect the rise in the price of food in every direction, but by tying up shipping in this way it is increasing the difficulties of getting supplies from New Zealand and Australia, which, in its turn, sends up the rate of exchange with America. In addition to that, it is hampering the desire of tens of thousands of people who wish to emigrate to the Dominions of the Empire after this War. When you think that one great Atlantic liner can be held up for two months, and I believe there are other ships which will be held up for three months—I heard the other day that 1366 a tea ship was to be held up for three months, either in the Thames or some other port—and that these ships are held up instead of making two or throe trips across the ocean, thereby increasing freights and prices all round, I suggest that the Ministry of Transport is the Ministry which ought to deal with this matter, and I trust the Under-Secretary will give us some assurance that it is being dealt with.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I beg to move "That Item A [Salaries, Wages, and Allowances, £125,324] be reduced by £100."
As these Supplementary Estimates come one by one before the Committee, I think I am voicing the opinion of the majority of the members of the Committee when I say that we become more and more appalled by the extravagance of the Government Departments. Take, for in stance, this Estimate which is now before the Committee. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, who laid the Estimate before the Committee, has my sympathy because he is discharging a very difficult duty in the absence of his chief, and it is extremely regrettable that his chief cannot be here.
§ Mr. STEVENS
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
He is ill.
§ Mr. STEVENS
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I understand he is ill and unable to be present, and I cannot imagine anything more unfortunate than that we should not have the opportunity of knowing what is the policy of the Ministry. I understand from my hon. Friend that what he has said his chief would have said. My hon. Friend said:I pass on to say that the Minister himself is earnestly and diligently pursuing the major task given to him—I think it is a responsibility in which he is entitled to ask that he should have sympathetic consideration—in reference to the advice which he should ultimately give as to what shall be the future policy with reference to these great undertakings."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1920; col. 1,229, vol. 126.]I should have thought it would have been quite sufficient for the Ministry in charge of this great matter to have surrounded himself by export opinion, which could sit and consider, in the necessary seclusion, these great problems; but what has he done? He has established a great Department, having 11 sub-Departments, 1367 of which 7, I think, have each a Director-General and appropriate subordinate officials, and the whole thing comes for some months to an expenditure of £186,000. What does that policy mean? It either means that they are going to take over control of the railways and meet all defects as far as they can—and complaints pour in upon them hour after hour and day after day—or they are going in for a big policy of railway nationalisation. As to the first, the answer given by my hon. Friend, who is very frank, is this. He says that if hon. Members think they are going to get a rectification of their complaints by writing to the Ministry, they have sent their letters to the wrong address, and that they should do what they have done before, and that is, send them to the railway companies. A more preposterous statement was never laid before a business assembly than that with this huge expenditure my hon. Friend comes down here and says the major duty of the Ministry is to consider what their policy shall be. If the policy is to be one of nationalisation, I understand it, but if, on the other hand, it is not to be, why set up these huge Departments, clamping their tentacles on to the surface of our national life, only to be released at immense national expense?
I really think that here is the clearest example which has yet come before us of the utter incompetence of this Government to deal with these problems. It is drifting about from side to side; its only remedy is to set up a new Department, and here it is. Could anybody dare to put before the shareholders in any business undertaking such a statement? They would change the Board at once, and with the assent of the whole of the commercial community interested in that concern. I regret again that there has not been an opportunity of having the, Minister to speak for himself on this matter. Hopes were raised. I voted for and supported this Bill in the belief that it was going to do something speedily, not at some distant date, more than having a very expensive consultative Committee to talk these things over with railway managers, and the answer is, "Do not come to us; go direct to the railways as you used to do." The whole thing seems to me to be this, nothing but interference with the railway companies in doing the work they best understand at a huge expenditure to the 1368 taxpayer. If the policy is going to be a sound one, they could come down here with complete confidence, but there is no policy, and because of that there has been, I think, not a single speech other than a complaint of this gross extravagance. I am sure the Members of the Committee feel so strongly about this that I move a reduction.
§ Mr. STEVENS
About eighteen months ago the Prime Minister woke up to the fact that transport was one of the most important matters to be considered in the reconstruction of the country, and he chose, to take hold of that matter, a gentleman whom I considered, and still consider, if he will only do the work, the best man in the country for the job. What has he done in the eighteen months? Because it is not only from the time that the Ministry was established, but for eight or nine months prior to that, as Minister-Designate, that this right hon. Gentleman was charged by the Government with looking after and providing for the transport of the country. Now we find, as I understand from what my hon. Friend has stated to the House, that the duty of the right hon. Gentleman is to wait and see—to wait until two years have expired, and then to do something, meantime at an expenditure of a sum as great as that which we are discussing. What he ought to have done—and I want to know to what extent he has done it—was to provide for co-ordination amongst the Government Departments in the matter of transport. I feel quite sure that the Committee do not realise the amount of expenditure which is being made by each of these Departments. The Ministry of Food has its Department of Transport, the War Office has, the Ministry of Munitions has, and so on throughout the whole of the Departments, and they are reduced now to finding opportunities for interfering one with the other, and, in doing that, bringing about, to a very great extent, this congestion from which the country is suffering.
Is the Minister of Transport responsible in any way for what is transpiring throughout the country? I leave the question of congestion at the ports, which I had hoped to deal with this evening, because there is no one present on the Front Bench who is capable of dealing with it or answering questions. But, taking the Minister of Transport by himself, 1369 to what extent has he helped us on the coal question? The Coal Controller, very rightly from the knowledge which he has obtained as to the different qualities of coal—he began by showing what we all learned at school, that the best coal for gas came from Newcastle, and the best coal for steam purposes came from South Wales, and so on, graduating throughout the country the relative merits of the Lancashire coal,. Staffordshire coal, Forest of Dean coal, and so—sat down in his office and allocated to the different purposes the particular coal best suited for such purposes. Where was the Minister of Transport? Why has all this difficulty arisen about the lack of coal in different districts? Is it not because the Minister of Transport has not taken the place he should occupy in that matter? Is he not leaving it all to the railway companies, who have their own particular interests, and who, when they are working, are working in competition one against the other, because they have no idea at all as to their future? What about the useless traffic which is passing across the railways of the country—useless in the sense that it is absolutely unnecessary? Look at the cargoes of wood pulp, for instance, which are being landed at East Coast ports and ports in the possession of the Minister of Transport.
§ Mr. STEVENS
Immingham and Hull, which are in the possession of the Minister of Transport. Cargoes have been landed there, consigned to paper works on the West Coast, which have their discharge berths and which could take those cargoes, and yet they are taken across the country. Why? Because the Coal Controller is charging approximately £5 per ton extra for bunker coal to those steamers if they go to the West Coast instead of taking their bunker coal on the East Coast. The same thing, only to a greater extent, in regard to tens of thousands of tons of Swedish ore which are being taken across the country. Why have we to mention this? It is one of those things for which the Minister of Transport was appointed. Take other matters, as to which I have a great number of instances, but I will only use one or two. I use one as a challenge. The Ordnance Department of the War Office, in this time of stress in transport and want of railway rolling stock, are carrying from one store to another in 1370 different parts of the country. The particular case I have in my mind concerns blankets. During the last few weeks they have shifted rather more than a million blankets out of one store at Manchester to other stores in different parts of the country, amongst them to Liverpool—from stores in Manchester, where they were well stored, to Liverpool, where all this congestion is taking place, and where it is impossible to obtain facilities in warehouses. What I have done in that case is this. It so happens that the store from which those blankets are going I am very directly connected with. I saw this going on yesterday, and this is a challenge to the Secretary of State for War, as the Minister of Transport said he is not concerned in it. I have stopped those blankets—I have no right to do it—from being taken out of my warehouse, and carried on the railway to Liverpool at the present time, and I do not propose that they shall go forward until I hear from the Minister of Transport that he is satisfied that, in the interests of the public, it is desirable that they should pass. I do that with some diffidence, because I know at Woolwich, for instance, my friend General Butcher, who is the Head of the Department, will be very irate about it. But that Department owes to the owner of these warehouses a very great deal for the avoidance of congestion by the warehouses provided. Now the boot is on the other leg. In the time of war these Government Departments used to come along and say, "I commandeer that warehouse," and we had to give way. To-day there is no necessity at all, so far as I am aware—and I am sure this Committee will bear me out—for the Secretary of State for War to be taking his traffic from one warehouse to another in different parts of the country.
Then there is a question for which the Minister of Transport is absolutely responsible—the pooling of wagons. It took us during the War more than twelve months to get the railway companies to see the advantage of pooling their railway wagons, and it was never wholly completed, and now I gather the Minister is letting them go back to the old conditions. The thing is preposterous in the light of the fact that these railway companies do not know what is going to happen in the future, and all working one against the 1371 other. The proper thing to do is so obvious that it should have been done from the first. It is for the Minister of Transport to take over, as he has full powers to do, every one of these railway wagons, place them under the management of a man who thoroughly understands the question, like one of the goods managers taken from one of the big railway companies, and let the Minister be responsible to the railway companies on the one hand and the country on the other as to the best manipulation of these railway wagons. Then the question has been raised, I believe, once or twice in the House by way of question as to some eight hundred 20-ton brake vans which have been built since the Armistice—and I do not think the building is yet completed—to the requirements of the French railways by our English makers, and so preventing, if nothing else, other wagons being built. There was no necessity at all for the other wagons to be built if these had been slightly altered to meet the circumstances. The only way in which they do not meet the requirements of the English companies is that the ridge of the roof extends some. 2½ inches on the side, and, as regards a very few tunnels in the country, it is not that they cannot go through these tunnels, for they can, but it might not be safe to allow them to go through, because they are just outside the gauge. I pass about a hundred of them every morning when I am at Manchester, and I have done so for months and months. I appealed to the, right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport, and asked him about them. "Nothing to do with me," he said, "They belong to the War Department." "Nothing to do with you!" I said, and I think he saw that it was rather a mistake to have said that, because he took a note of the matter, and said he would inquire into it. He has inquired into it. With what result? I ask that they might be used only temporarily, and if only locally, for dealing with the trade requirements of the country. One hundred of them have been taken away by the Great Western Company and run without alteration. I purchased ten of them for cold storage and refrigerating processes. The word I got from the Ministry of Transport was, that after making full inquiries they found that the wagons had been sold to Poland, 1372 and they could not be used temporarily by anyone in this country. These wagons took up valuable railway sidings. They could have been used month in and month out for six months. Anyone who knows the conditions of sending traffic from here to Poland knows perfectly well that as regards the major portion of these wagons they could have been used for months before there was any chance of shipping them. Yet our Ministry of Transport deals with the matter in that way.
Let me come to the congestion at the Port of London. The Ministry is in possession of the. Port of London. Who is to be responsible to us for the Port of London except the Minister of Transport, who is in possession of it. The congestion of the Ports of London and Liverpool is absolutely monstrous. It is due to certain circumstances—amongst them two. One is the slow rate at which the work is being done; the other, and the main one, is due to the lack of co-ordination between the different Government Departments—absolutely so! That can be proved. If I had anyone here to prove it to, I would prove it as regard wool, grain, sugar, tobacco, and other commodities with which I am familiar. I do not mean in this that the particular Departments are to blame. I know, as a matter of fact, from my own knowledge, that there is no blame on the part of the Wool Committee. It is in the hands of business men, and is being properly dealt with. But the Transport Department is probably getting too much wool, as also is the Department which purchased the grain for the country. They are getting too much, and ousting some of the others. So it goes on from Department to Department. I think anyone with any practical knowledge of the matter must have been stirred at the little or no assistance given by the Ministry of Transport, and the little assistance, it seems to me, that this House is ever likely to get out of that Department. I do not want to be personal in what I am saying, but if I am personal to any extent it is because the circumstances warrant it. The Minister of Transport has, I under stand, been told by his medical adviser that he requires a little relaxation, and that if he does not get it he might break down.
§ Mr. STEVENS
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell me before I go on exactly how the thing stands? I do not want to make any statement that is not borne out by facts, but I think I can prove, if my evidence be correct, that the right hon. Gentleman is playing "ca'canny" as much as any docker in the country! I am not saying this against him personally, but I want to show this: that this "ca'cannyism," which we here complain about amongst the dockers, goes right through the whole of us. We are all suffering from it in a greater or less degree. The men who suffer most from it are those who were most active during the War. There was no one more active than the right hon. Gentleman. Every active Member of this House, and outside, when he consults his medical man is in the habit of being told that he must slow down. I do not blame anyone for this. I myself have consulted my fourth medical man in forty years, and the first three have died. Hardly a year have I gone to my medical man for examination, but that he has told me that I must slow down. I hope I will not be misunderstood. But I feel that the conditions are so desperate that it is necessary for me to say what I am saying. The right hon. Gentleman can be compared now with the "ca'canny" docker. When he same back from active service what was the first thing he did—to look after his pension? His first object was his pension. As an hon. Member suggested just now, it would be immaterial what the amount of the pension was if this country was not paying it.
§ Mr. STEVENS
I understood we were paying the dividend of the North-Eastern Railway Company during the past years, and I thought, if we were paying that, we would be paying the other. But if my hon. Friend tells me no, well and good. He looked after his pension. Quite right! I am not complaining about that. He has gone off and has had a most enjoyable time. He appointed these Ministers whose fees we are now asked to pass. This is what I want to ask my hon. Friend. Has he considered the number of Transport Departments already in operation with the different Ministers, and why, has he taken so many of his leaders from the North-East Coast and outside the other Departments? We have 1374 heard—I believe I am correct in this—if not, my hon. Friend will put me right—that at this time—yesterday or to-day—the right hon. Gentleman is enjoying himself at a game of golf. My hon. Friend does not say, "No." Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman, under circumstances such as these, be in his place in the House? He could still have his game of golf. There happens to be more than one golf-course in the country. I understand he is not very far from London. I am making an attack. I am sorry I have to make it. I did not mean to make it, but I am here in the interests of those who sent me, and the country, and I think I am fully justified in raising the matter, for it is necessary to face the difficulty we are placed in, in respect of transport. Does the hon. Gentleman know how great are these difficulties? They certainly justify me making an attack upon the Minister. All I am saying is not personal, or not necessarily personal, to the Minister. But I say, with many others, that he is playing the game of "ca'canny" as much as any docker in the country. And that reminds me of my hon. Friends on the Labour Benches. They were responsible, more than anybody in this House, either on the Government or any other side, for the Transport Act as we have it now.
§ Mr. ALLEN PARKINSON
They not set the. Minister on, anyhow!
§ Mr. STEVENS
Some of us tried very hard to make the Act more practical. Every time we were, met by my hon. Friends voting against us. Here is the position to-day. What is the country going to do during the next eighteen months? If, as we understand from the hon. Member who represents the Ministry, the Minister is thinking out the question of transport as it affects the future of the railways, at any rate for two years during the period of the Act; then he is going to report. What is going to happen if he does not take up the co-ordination of the various Departments and deal with the reconstruction work which is so badly needed in the country?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I want to raise a definite point which I think is of some importance, and that is the extraordinary difficulty which is found in the Eastern counties—I speak particularly of Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge, and indeed of all that district—in obtaining 1375 road material. The matter is a very serious one, because there is no local road material available of any kind. There is no stone in that part of the country, and we are entirely dependent for our road material from either seaborne granite which comes mainly from Guernsey, or railway-borne granite which comes from Leicestershire. The reason why the roads are now in such a very serious condition is because, in order to relieve the congestion of the railway traffic, the Ministry placed at the disposal of the railway companies and others thousands of heavy motor lorries, which have been running along the road in enormous numbers. As the roads were never built to stand that kind of traffic, and no material is available for repair, the condition of most of the roads has become so bad that they are really not fit to carry ordinary traffic. Great damage is done to the vehicles which traverse them.
I have had some correspondence with the Ministry on this point at the request of the local authorities in Essex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. I admit the Ministry have done their best to meet the difficulty. So far as I understand, they have not ignored the representations which have been made to them. But it is quite clear that the natural avenue of supplies for that district is by sea, not land. The railways are congested. May I here say that before the War practically the whole of the supplies of granite came by sea to the district. In those days the rates by sea were about half the railway rates; therefore the traffic naturally followed the cheapest and most convenient line. Now the situation is reversed. The freightage by sea enormously exceeds the railway rates. The ratepayers are already overburdened, and find it practically impossible to pay the rates required. The Ministry of Transport have, however, in view of the congestion on the railways, issued a Regulation that the bulk of this district is to be supplied by sea with its road material. That throws the most of the burden of the cost upon the ratepayers. The result, in the first instance, was that no material was available at all. The roads are simply becoming impassable. What has now happened is that the Ministry, in view of certain representations, have by some means, in conjunction with the Ministry of Shipping, and this is a 1376 matter which concerns both Ministries and probably the latter more than the former, though it is in order to raise it on this Vote. By an arrangement with the Ministry of Shipping, the Ministry of Transport have procured a few vessels to bring granite from Guernsey to the sea coast. But such conditions are imposed in the freightage of these vessels that the arrangement is practically inoperative. I hope the Ministry of Transport will take this matter seriously in hand, and make representations to the Ministry of Shipping that these charter parties should be amended. The point is that although the rates for these freights are regulated on a not unreasonable basis, I think 15s. per ton is the ordinary rate now imposed from Guernsey to the East coast ports where this granite is landed, there is a condition imposed that only 84 running hours are allowed for the loading and unloading of these ships. The consequence of this is that transport becomes impossible, because if a ship arrives on the East coast with a cargo on, say, a Friday afternoon tide, there will only be the Saturday morning working hours available until Monday. But the time will be running on during, the whole period, and every hour that the ship remains in the dock or the port over the 84 running hours, a rate of 2s. a ton for the tonnage of the ship will be charged against the County Council or local authority responsible for ordering the stone. This is really an impossible situation. These rates in elude both the loading and the unloading, and it is quite obvious that according to the hour at which the ship arrives, and according to the tide, those hours will begin to run entirely without reference to the hours which will really be available for unloading the vessel. I beg the Ministry of Transport to pay serious attention to the matter, because the whole of the traffic of the country is becoming disorganised by the condition in which these roads are. They are getting worse day by day. The Minister has already taken steps to place ships at our disposal, and I hope he will approach the Ministry of Shipping to make those vessels effective, and to ensure that the basis of the charter of the vessels and the question of demurrage shall no longer be settled on running hours, but on the very much less number of working hours from the time when the ship arrives in the docks. The matter is solely one of transport and 1377 rates, and I hope the Ministry will make the necessary change, and secure to the Eastern part of England the roads they must have if our communications are to be maintained
§ Mr. NEAL
It will possibly meet the convenience of the Committee if I take this opportunity of dealing with many of the points raised in the course of an extremely interesting Debate. First of all, I should like to thank, with great sincerity, my hon. Friends who have with such generosity referred to me personally. I will deal at once with the most regrettable and, as I think, unfortunate outburst by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Stevens), who, in his dislike for the Ministry of Transport, which was manifested on the Committee stage of the Bill, has thought it; right to make a personal attack on the Minister himself. The Minister, as I have explained several times, has been ordered away by his medical adviser for very adequate and sufficient reasons, and I hope he may avert a very serious threatened breakdown. More than that I decline to say in answer to the hon. Member for Eccles, but it is a very poor reward for public service, rendered through the strain and stress of war time and the difficult times of reconstruction, to know that you are liable to an attack of this description, to which I feel every Member of the Committer listened with deep regret. I pass at once to deal with the matters raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh. With reference to the scrapping of the Department, the hon. Member challenged our figures as to the number of the staff. I said it was 774, and that figure was correct. On page 75 there is a total given of 714; the Irish Branch adds to that a total of 44—that appears on page 76; and if my hon. Friends will look at page 73, Sub-section (3), Development Department, he will see "Clerical Assistance to Area Transport Commissioners and Foreign Intelligence Officer," without a number, but with the money carried out—£660. That represents 16, and makes the 774, of which I spoke. In reply to the queries of my hon. Friend in reference to salaries, I do not think any very exact comparison can be made with any other Department. If such an exact comparison could have been properly made, I think the Treasury, under whose sanction these appointments are made, would have been likely to have 1378 dealt with that in a somewhat different manner from that which they have. The power to appoint the staff is given by Section 25 of the Statute to the Minister, with the sanction of the Treasury. The Solicitor is also the Secretary There is no other instance, I think, in a Government Department where these two important offices are blended. My hon. Friend asked me about the Assistant Solicitor, and why he got £240 special allowance. He has been engaged—I do not know whether temporarily or permanently, but I think temporarily—from the staff of the London and South Western Railway. He has special experience of legal matters affecting railways; he is losing an opportunity of promotion, and the Treasury has sanctioned the extra allowance. The director who is mentioned under Letter G. is a Mr. Pike, whom we were able to secure with very great advantage to the Ministry as an expert on railway rates questions, and a special allowance was sanctioned to him because of that.
§ Mr. NEAL
Because it is not intended to stereotype this salary. This gentleman, who has special knowledge and experience in these matters, and it is not intended that his successor should necessarily carry this extra allowance of £300. I have been asked why Sir Philip Nash is not pensioned. This is a matter of arrangement, and was taken into account it is not certain that he will remain permanently on the civil staff of the State. I was asked why the Chief Executive Officer lost his Army pay. This gallant gentleman was one of the transfers to the Ministry from the Board of Trade, and we have continued the arrangements made before. I was asked as to the temporary Commissioner having a special allowance of £250. The answer is that this gentleman's appointment is believed to be merely temporary until a permanent successor can be found. The question of wages of the cleaners was raised. In addition to the wages which appear, and which are the ordinary wages paid, they receive a war bonus.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
§ Mr. NEAL
I cannot tell you the exact amount. I was asked why there was a difference between the superintendents and the ordinary typists to the apparent 1379 disadvantage to the superintendents. The superintendents receive a war bonus and the others do not.
§ The next question was with reference to the London Traffic Advisory Committee, and I accept at once the criticism that I used an unfortunate word when I said, that that Advisory Committee was operating under the Development Department. It is one of those words which is true in one sense, yet is not apt in conveying a correct meaning in another. So far as the Ministry of Transport is concerned, the officer who serves on that Committee is Sir Charles de Bartolomé. He is the liaison officer between that Committee and the Ministry. It is only in that sense we are operating. Of course, it is quite plain that no Committee presided over by a gentleman like my hon. Friend would willingly submit to anything but the most perfect independence and freedom. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh asked whether there was not some discrepancy in my speech with reference to the way in which the Minister was dealing with the railway companies, and a specific instance was put to me whore it was thought there was a contra diction in what I had said to the Committee. I was asked, "Why does the Minister approve the placing of wagon orders if he is not actively concerned himself in the close and detailed and internal management of the railway companies?" The answer is a financial one. Under the terms of the financial arrangements between the Ministry and the railway companies, any excess cost above normal which they now have to pay for building railway wagons, either themselves or by outside contractors, is charged upon State funds, and seeing that the taxpayer has to pay ultimately in the account that difference, I think the Committee will agree that it would be highly improper, unless the Minister through his financial department did take some careful oversight of the prices at which these contracts are placed. My hon. Friend called my attention to the question of coastal traffic on the west coast of Scotland, and that was reinforced by the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray), who, perfectly legitimately, indicated that he thought I had not fully appreciated the point he had in mind, which was, not coatswise traffic, but coastal services. May I deal with that 1380 once and for all? I think some other hon. Member—I believe it was the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Leng-Sturrock)—also called my attention to it. We do realise to the fullest extent the difficulties of transit and transport between those detached parts of the country. Let me just point out to my hon. Friend exactly what power the Minister has for dealing with transport of that character. He does not control the present shipping facilities. He is not in any sense interfering with those facilities. I believe that they are all too limited, that they were not adequate before the War, and that they have been decreased lately. That creates a very serious problem for the citizens who live in those places. I think that the cause of the mischief is the general shortage of shipping, and the diversion of some of the ships to other services. That is not a matter with which the Minister of Transport can deal. His powers for dealing with this matter are under Section 9 of the Transport Act, under which the Minister has power to establish, either himself or through other persons, transport services by land or water. I think I may fairly claim that it is a little too soon to expect the Minister of Transport—who has been engaged in building up the organisation of his Ministry, which has received some criticism to-day—to solve the problem as to whether he shall ask Parliament: to Vote the necessary money for the establishment of a coastal line of steamers to this and other detached portions of the country. That matter, however, is not being lost sight of; I am glad to say that my genial and hon. Friend will never let us lose sight of it. What he has said on that matter shall receive further consideration, and if in any way possible we can help the very obvious and legitimate requirements of the district that he represents, it will afford me very great pleasure to be able to do so.
Mr. G. MURRAY
Will the hon. Gentleman say, before he sits down, what progress has been made with regard to the question of the Crinan Canal, or the alternative scheme of Tarbert, Loch Fyne?
§ Mr. NEAL
No conclusion has been arrived at. Two matters are involved. One is the widening of the Crinan Canal, which some people advocate, and the other is the scrapping of the Crinan Canal 1381 and the cutting of another waterway. I have had the papers before me within the last three days, and the matter is receiving as speedy consideration as the circumstances permit. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) called attention to a later Vote with reference to the railway strike. I do not think I should be usefully occupying the time of the Committee, if he will forgive me for saying so, by attempting a discussion of the economic and social conditions which brought about the railway strike, or by any attempt to apportion the blame for that strike. So far as the Minister of Transport is concerned, that strike exactly concurred in point of time with his appointment. The very day the Minister of Transport took over his duties, that day the railway strike came. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That was perhaps not an unmerited cheer. It was not a very happy time, but there are many unhappy beginnings which have fortunate endings, and I think this was one. When the Minister set himself to work, with, the good will and co-operation of the leaders of the railwaymen, to make such a state of things unlikely, if not impossible, he was taking the step of securing that good should result from evil.
My hon. Friend the Member for South East St. Pancras (Mr. Hopkins) raised the topic, which was also, I think, mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Bristol (Mr. Inskip), of railway wagons which are privately owned. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras had been misinformed as to the facts. As I intimated to him, there has not been a, pool of privately owned wagons at any time, so far as my information goes, certainly not during the existence of the Ministry of Transport. What there was at one time was an Operating Order, made under the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations by the Board of Trade, whose powers came over to the Ministry of Transport, whereby what was commonly called "back loading" was possible. That led to a great deal of trouble with regard to privately owned wagons It was one of those remedies which seemed quite reasonable and proper to apply, and, indeed, commended itself to many people. Stated shortly, it was this. A privately owned wagon was sent loaded with, say, coal from A to B, and the railway authorities at B were given the power to load it up again with some other 1382 merchandise and send it back to A, and so prevent empty running. It seems a very easy and simple course to adopt, but what happened? In practice there was not the return traffic from B to A, and the wagon was held up at B until the station-master could find out whether there was something he could send back to A. That caused an initial delay. Then he discovered that there was nothing to send back, but there was an empty wagon. What he did was to send it to C; he sent it off to some other place which might be in the direction of B. There again the stationmaster looked at it, and said: "Here is a wagon—good luck.! I will load it up"; and he sent it on. The result was that the wagon fell into the general flow of traffic, and the unfortunate private owner did not get it back, and began to make the enquiries of which my hon. and learned Friend has spoken, but with very little result. When the whole shortage became acute, a month or two ago, the Coal Controller represented to the Minister of Transport that this back loading Order was operating most in-auspiciously from his point of view, and that the colliery companies and other persons were not getting their wagons back; and the Minister of Transport suspended the operation of that Order. What was the result? In the same day, in one envelope, from an hon. Member of this House, I received two letters from his constituents. One complained most bitterly that he had been in the habit of loading up his coal wagons and sending them back, and that now the wretched Minister of Transport would not allow him to do it; while the other complained in exactly the opposite sense, not knowing of the suspension of the operation of the Order, that a certain person never could get the use of his own wagons. It is one of those cases which illustrate very clearly that, when you set out to endeavour to darn a hole, you very often stretch the cloth and make another hole. That, I think, is really the case with reference to some of the attempts, which seem quite plausible and reasonable at the time, to deal with difficulties.
There is one other matter which I ought to mention. There is, I think, power to-day, under the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations, to commandeer privately owned wagons; that is to say, in time of emergency, they may be taken 1383 over and put into general traffic. That has been exercised twice by the Minister of Transport at the request of the Coal Controller. I have not the precise figures, but my figures are substantially accurate. It was done once in January, to the extent of 1,700 wagons, and once in February, to the extent of just over 2,000 wagons—something under 4,000 wagons all told, out of a total of privately owned wagon stock in this country which is anything between 6,000,000 and 7,000,000. There has, therefore, been no interference worthy of the name by the Minister of Transport with the user of wagons of private owners; but there is delay. The Midland Railway Company reported to us that on one day they had on their line, blocking their sidings and other roads, between 4,000 and 5,000 privately owned wagons, which the owners were not prepared to take within the gates of their own places or within their own sidings, and which they were not ready to load up again. I do not intend to attempt to deal at greater length with the question of privately owned railway wagons.
Then my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) spoke of the condition of difficulty with reference to the ironworks on the North-East Coast. That matter has been raised in this House many times, and I make no complaint of it. It has been raised by question and answer, and it has been raised by my hon. Friend and his colleagues by correspondence with the Ministry. We have many times sent special inspectors up to the North-East Coast to see what can be done to relieve that question, and I think my hon. Friends who represent that district will at least acquit the Minister of Transport of any part at all in the causes which have operated to bring about the trouble of which they complain, or of failure to use all the powers at his disposal in order to relieve it. The form of traffic of which they speak can be dealt with, as to a good deal of it, by sea. I am not at all sure that the manufacturers of the district have not been a little chary of paying the extra cost of sea traffic as against subsidised railway traffic, and I think that that may explain a little of the difficulty. But there is another point. The type of wagon which is required for this particular traffic is called a bolster wagon, and there 1384 is a shortage of those wagons. The North-Eastern Railway Company have orders-placed for 900 of them, and we have given instructions for a survey to be made to see whether there are any other wagons of that description which other companies can part with. We have done and are doing, all that can be done to deal with that particular question. It is constantly urged upon us that, wherever it is possible, the three-shift system of working the railways shall be adopted; but it is not always possible, nor, if it were possible, would it always afford a remedy. The three-shift system, working at the point of origin, if I may so call it, is useless if the traffic is blocked because there is not a three-shift system working, at some intermediate place, or if the receiving station is not ready to receive the goods. My hon. Friend, the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne), spoke about the railway companies—to use his own phrase—being hung up by the Ministry. All I can say to hon. Members of this house is, that if they have any complaints of that description, where a railway company alleges that it is being in any way hampered in the performance of its duties by any act of any servant of the Ministry, I very specially request that the fact may be communicated to the Minister of Transport, in order that the matter may receive investigation, and the hon. Member informed with perfect frankness of the measures that are being taken. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Helen's (Mr. Sexton) I think was not quite up to date with his facts. He was accurate when he said that the effect of subsidising the railway traffic was to put an embargo upon coastwise and canal traffic. But one of the first things the Minister of Transport did—and I suggest he is entitled to some credit for it—was to take the necessary steps to prevent the railway traffic being subsidised so as to secure that the rates should be lifted up—not to an excessive point—they are still below the transport rates of other lands—so that there should be something like-correspondence between the railway cost of working and the sum paid by traders, for these services. My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) made fun of that. He said: "You talk about stopping a leak; but what you are doing is to make the trader pay. You are stopping no leak; you are still collecting. 1385 £50,000,000 from somebody." Surely my hon. Friend understands the difference in essence between asking that these services shall be made self-supporting, as they must be if this country is ever to resume its economic position, or whether they shall be subsidised by the State to the extent of £50,000,000.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
The object was to give effect to economy by economy, and to do good to the country. Any business house could have made the sum up by adding to the prices.
§ Mr. NEAL
The hon. Gentleman is ignoring the point which I made. The point is that, for this country to have gone right through the War without any attempt being made at all to stop the railway companies of this country being a charge on the taxpayer, was wrong economically. Does my hon. Friend dispute that in raising the railway charges to the amount that is necessary in order to make them pay we have done anything wrong? Does my right hon. Friend think that either of these things is inconsistent with economy?
§ Mr. BALFOUR
No. But we do not require to establish a Ministry of Transport to fix the additional rate.
§ Mr. NEAL
I call attention to the fact that, right through the possession of the railways by the country, from the 4th August, 1914, until the year 1920, when the Ministry of Transport exercised these powers, no step was taken, and it was the action of the Ministry of Transport in setting up the Railway Rates Advisory Committee, and giving them a reference which produced a speedy report, and adopting that reference in its entirety, which produced the result of which I just now spoke. Then the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Nottingham (Mr. Atkey), after some preliminary observation, which I think he intended as a mere introduction to the real pith of his speech, touched on the question of Nottingham Railway Station. I knew he would. He could not help it, and we should have been unhappy if he had not done so. He has threatened that he will ask questions week by week until he gets his own way. No one would be worthy of any position on this Bench, or anywhere else, if a policy of that kind was ever known to succeed. What are the facts here? The 1386 Midland Railway Company adopted the policy of making Nottingham Railway Station what is known as a closed station. I think that is a phrase familiar to hon. Members.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
For obvious reasons.
§ Mr. NEAL
If they had not done that, they would have had to have a staff at all exits or entrances. They came to the conclusion that this particular entrance from Station Road was one which could be dispensed with. I may further point out that if we were to yield to this particular threat, it would mean, not only that Nottingham Station would have the extra facility, but that many other stations would require it as well, and at very substantial cost. What is the power of the Minister in these circumstances? He could, if he wished, and if this House wished—I doubt if any member of the Committee would wish it—exercise the powers given him under Section 3—autocratic powers that have been denounced—and he could say to the Midland Railway Company, "Against your wish, I direct you to keep open this particular access to this station." The railway company would be bound to obey that order at a cost estimated, according to the facilities at from £300 or £400 to £1,000 or £1,200 a year, and those costs could be recovered by the Midland Railway Company from the State, because, in the section which gives the Minister power to issue these directions there is an undertaking that if the company incur loss by reason of obeying the directions, the State must make good that loss. There may be cases, and if there are proper cases, the Minister of Transport would be the last man to shrink from exercising those powers, but I hope the Committee will agree with me that these Orders ought never to be given because some Member of this House says he is going to worry the Minister with questions until he gets his own way.
I have been asked a question or two as to canals. May I just tell the House in a few sentences the position with reference to this subject. Speaking in round figures, about one-third of the canals of the country came under Government control with the railways and they are included for financial purposes within the financial arrangements. Another one-third of the canals were taken possession of by the Ministry under the Defence of 1387 the Realm Regulations, and the remaining third are still managed without control. We have been approached to take possession of all the canals under the statute for the purpose of enabling them to increase their rates, and in order that they may be made more fitted for the services required of them. In order to make the canals successful, a capital expenditure would have to be made upon them, or rather, upon only a certain portion of them, which, according to the Report of the Royal Commission, would probably amount to £70,000,000 or £30,000,000. Before the Government take any steps in the direction of dealing with the canals, it certainly ought to settle what its future policy is goings to be in regard to them. The Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Thomson) raised the question of the mail services in Scotland and in that was supported by the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Leng-Sturrock). That matter will receive consideration. Then my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Stevens) spoke of the Coal Controller, whom I do not represent in this House. He used a threat. I do not know what his point was, and I do not propose to deal with it further.
§ Mr. STEVENS
The point was, that the Coal Controller ought to have been assisted by the Minister of Transport before he sent out to the different districts the coal which was to be used.
§ Mr. NEAL.
I should rather like to cross-examine my hon. Friend. I should like to know whether he made the slightest enquiry as to whether there was co-ordination between the two Departments? I wonder if he has any knowledge whatever of the extent, to which the Departments are working in perfect unison and harmony? Has he the slightest knowledge at all of the principle on which the Coal Controller discharged his duties? Is there a shadow of foundation for the charges he brought? I am certain if he had informed himself on any one of these questions he would never have made the statement he did.
§ Mr. STEVENS
I have stated the facts right enough. I said that from the want of transport and control the matters occurred to which I referred.
§ Mr. NEAL
Will my hon. Friend accept my suggestion that, at any rate, if he has 1388 made enquiries, he has gone the wrong road to a place which does not exist. May I turn for a moment to what fell from the right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman), who spoke of the difficulty of obtaining raw material and made reference to charter parties. May I say these matters were certainly considered in consultation with the Ministry of Shipping. I have left to the last two or three matters which I think are of much greater importance than any of those with which I have dealt up to the present. The hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut-Colonel Archer-Shee) addressed some enquiries to me with reference to the congestion which exists at the London Docks, and the hon. Member for Eccles stated that the London Docks were in the possession of the Ministry of Transport. That statement of the hon. Member came nearer to accuracy than any other that he made. It was accurate verbally, but it was inaccurate in substance. The Minister of Transport—at the request, of the Port of London Authority—a request which none of us who sat on the Grand Committee that dealt with the Transport Bill would ever have prophesied would, have been made.
§ Mr. STEVENS
§ Mr. NEAL
We have got agreement at last, and that is something—at the request of the Port of London Authority, exercised its power under Section 4 of the Act of taking possession of the Port of London a few weeks ago for one purpose only—and if my hon. Friend is informed he knows the purpose. It was to enable the Port of London Authority to raise their charges and dues so that they might deal with the present high prices, which are pressing on them as on everyone else. If the hon. Member has made the slightest enquiry into the facts, he knows that that is the limit of the control of the Minister of Transport. He, perhaps, did not know that I knew it.
I will pass from that to a very much more serious topic—that which I had hoped to have the privilege of dealing with this very night, at the request of the Leader of the House, on a Motion which was to have been made by the hon. Member (Mr. Terrell). There is very great difficulty indeed in my doing justice or anything approaching it to this topic on these Estimates. The Motion as it 1389 stood on the Order Paper, and still stands for a future date, indicts four Ministries: the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Shipping, the Food Controller and the Board of Trade, in respect of congestion at the Port of London—and it also includes Liverpool. I speak with the knowledge and authority of the Cabinet when I say we are anxious and desirous of the earliest possible opportunity of having that matter inquired into and probed to the bottom, and on behalf of every one of those Ministries I say that the House of Commons, which is never unfair and is always quite willing to receive the proper kind of explanations, will come to the conclusion that the state of things, lamentable as it is, in the Port of London to-day is not the result either of inaction or of some improper action on the part of the Port of London Authority, which has made gigantic efforts to put this matter right, or of any Department of the Government. I have consulted officers of the Port of London as to whether the I have any complaint whatever to make against the Ministry of Transport.
Mr. KENNEDY JONES
Would it not have been possible, by concerted action, months ago by the use of motor lorries—to clear the congestion?
§ Mr. NEAL
No, it would not. I am quite prepared, with the consent of the Committee and with your approval, Sir, to make a short preliminary statement on that matter, and to meet hon. Members with my colleagues at any time, to go into the matter in the greatest possible detail.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That would not be possible. There is a Motion standing on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. NEAL
I feared that was the decision you would be bound to give. None the less, if any of my hon. Friends who are interested in the matter can find some way whereby the Ministry can give them every information and assistance, it will be most heartily welcomed by every Member of the Government.
§ Mr. STEVENS
Might I suggest that we meet in the Grand Committee Room upstairs some afternoon?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. Member will deal with that outside the Committee
§ Mr. NEAL
I think I have sufficiently indicated that any method which com- 1390 mends itself to hon. Members will be acceptable to the Government, and we shall have an opportunity of telling the country the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Would the hon. Gentleman deal with the very serious congestion at Hull?
§ Mr. NEAL
No, I am not prepared to deal with the serious congestion at Hull in anything more than general terms. I think I have got quite enough material to deal with still, including my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean), if he will forgive me for calling him "material," before I sit down. The case of Hull is a matter of great importance, and I should be quite glad to discuss it with the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and tell them exactly what the position is. So far as the rules permit me, I should like to say a word or two about transport. The rights and powers of the Ministry of Transport arise not on the traffic which is coming into the Port of London, but with the clearance of the traffic from the Port of London. The Departments which are concerned with the inflowing traffic are the Ministry of Shipping, the Ministry of Food, and the Board of Trade. What we have tried to do is to secure that there shall be as large a supply as the circumstances of the case warrant of railway wagons to take away the goods which accumulate. The trouble is not there. The trouble is that you have got the Port of London warehouses and sheds, and cold stores and supplies of every description, to which they have added many-thousands of cubic feet, all blocked with traffic, and when you are dealing with any traffic problem, if you have a block at any point, the rate at which you can clear the block is the rate at which you can deal with the whole problem. It is no use looking at it from any other point of view.
§ Mr. NEAL
The railways which serve the Port of London are the Great Eastern and the Midland. The Great Eastern Railway serves the India and Millwall Dock and the Victoria and Albert Dock; and the Midland serves the Tilbury Dock. For February, these are the exact figures with reference to the supply of wagons. Bespoken by the Port of London Authority, 4,800. Supplied, 2,154 empty wagons and 4,511 loaded wagons, which become available for outward traffic when they are unloaded—total, 6,665. The daily average demand, therefore, was 162, and they had 278 supplied. At the Tilbury Docks the total demand was 6,708, and the supply was 2,704 empty and 2,934 under load—a total supply of 5,638. The daily average demand was 280; and there was supplied 113 empty and 122 loaded—a total of 235. The fact is that, in the worst case we can trace yet, the Authorities have had 76 per cent. of the wagons they had requested, and of the numbers available they only loaded 94 per cent. I do not think that figure left baldly would quite fairly state the facts.
Sir J. D. REES
The Committee will be very grateful if the hon. Gentleman would tell us what is going to be done to clear the Port.
§ Mr. NEAL
I shall be glad to do anything I can at this stage and on some later occasion to put a much fuller case than is really possible to-day. I do not think it is quite fair to say that the fact that there are wagons unloaded shows that no more wagons were wanted, because the surplus wagons might not be in the place where they were required or might not be the type of wagon which was required. But the railway companies were doing their best. The Ministry of Transport has no wagons.
§ Mr. STEVENS
You ought to have them all.
§ Mr. NEAL
No one fought more fiercely against the power to purchase all privately-owned wagons than my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. STEVENS
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask hon. Members to refrain from interruptions.
§ Mr. NEAL
Really they are not in the least degree intended to be helpful to the discussion. The Minister of Transport 1392 has no wagons; the railway companies are short of wagons from causes which have been explained by the Minister himself. But when you deal with the more essential matters, the question of meat and food supplies, there has always been a surplus of refrigerating vans to take away the meat, and we have never heard of a single complaint that any foodstuff has not been distributed as rapidly as the consumers could take it by the Ministry of Transport, or more accurately speaking, by the railway companies themselves.
I must pass now to the one other matter which remains and which is the subject of the Amendment. I am not quite sure that my speech of last night has been accurately interpreted by some of my hon. Friends. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir D. Maclean) has not had time sufficiently to study my speech in order to do it justice. What was the position that I endeavoured to make last night, and which I will endeavour to make clearer to-night, with reference to the position of the Ministry and the railway undertakings of this country? I said that the major duty of the Ministry of Transport, not the only duty—one hon. Member cited me as saying the only duty—was to look to the permanent policy of this country. I stand by that absolutely. The present difficulties, great as they are, will pass; they must pass. Every means at the disposal of the Ministry or anybody else to get rid of the present difficulties must be used, but those difficulties which are War created, which are the legacy of the economic trouble created by the War, are temporary and will pass, and they are being faced and grappled with and dealt with day by day and hour by hour. I called attention to that in my speech, and when I was speaking of Sir Philip Nash, the Director-General of Traffic, I said in terms that with great care he and his staff were dealing with these problems day by day. That is quite true. There is not a step that I can think of that has not been taken by the Ministry that is available to-day in order to relieve the present condition of affairs. If we take the long view, the only true way of looking at this matter is not to treat the symptoms, to neglect the cause of the disease and not to get right down to the root cause of the troubles in transport to-day. To adopt those methods would 1393 be quackery, and would be altogether unworthy of the Minister of Transport.
I must not be misunderstood upon this matter. If any hon. Member can render us assistance by suggestions they are welcome. I am speaking amongst friends. There are very few of the hon. Members whom I see around me who have not put their problems before the Ministry of Transport and who, I make bold to say, have not had a reply within twenty-four hours with regard to any problem they have put before us. Whatever attempt may be made through the Press or otherwise to condemn the Government through any of its branches, they know perfectly well that we are dealing with the existing difficulties. There are two ways in which you can deal with them. One way would lead to chaos. If we were to compel, to coerce the railway companies to let us manage their business we should utterly fail and we should deserve to fail. That is not our method. The principle upon which we are acting is this. We are in constant consultation with them. There was a Railway Executive Committee of general managers sitting in London up to the end of the year. The Minister of Transport thought that those general managers would be better occupied at their posts managing their railways, and they went back. But we are in daily communication with every railway company. We assist them in every way we can. Would my right hon. Friend ask me to say that we wish from Whitehall to take over the settlement of the time table, the employment of the staff and the running of the trains? Such a state of things would be denounced by him with more fervour even than he denounced the Ministry in his speech to-day.
From the first speaker, through a long succession of speeches, I was reproached because I did not disclose the policy of the Ministry. It must not be assumed that the Ministry is doing nothing. That policy is being evolved. Great steps have been made in the direction of formulating that policy. The Minister has had given to him a period of control for two years to enable him to formulate that policy, and long before the expiration of that two years the House and the country will be taken into our confidence and be asked to pronounce upon that policy. Does anyone expect that within the first seven months of the establishment of the Ministry, before that policy has received 1394 Cabinet sanction, that I am going to come here, on the preliminary Estimates of the Ministry, and say Aye or No to the policy of nationalisation? First of all I should want those who expected me to do that to define "nationalisation." It is a word that is now being commonly used. It is being bandied about amongst us with very little thought of what it means. Nationalisation of the railways may mean State ownership with somebody else working them. It may mean nationalisation on the lines indicated by the right hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Brace), when on the Debate on the "mines he said, "By all means nationalise the mines in the sense that you buy them out, but the State must not work them." State property paid for by State money must pass out of State control into the hands of local committees set up. It might mean private ownership under State management. There are many varieties of things that nationalisation might mean. All I can say is that I am not going in the smallest degree to give the slightest intimation of what the policy will be that will ultimately be submitted to this country. The great duty entrusted to the Minister of Transport is to see that the advice which is to be given ultimately is not hasty, ill-considered, and improperly expressed, but is the result of a careful working out of this problem in the hope that it may lead to the greatest possible good of the country in the future.
§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
I am sure every Member of the Committee will concede to the hon. Gentleman the claim to earnestness and sincerity in dealing with the task in which he is engaged. He is imbued with one desire and that is to make his Department as effective as possible, but I still think that there is some other method that could be adopted, having regard to the great importance of this question to the general industries of the country. I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would have touched at greater length upon the present management of the railways as they are now run by the different companies. The statement has been quoted against him that in his speech last night he said that he was prepared to let the railway companies do their work in their own way. Is he certain that his efforts, in so far as they are endeavouring to co-ordinate the transport services of the country, are being helped by the present administra- 1395 tion by the railway companies of the country? There is a feeling that greater efficiency might be displayed by the railway companies themselves, that their organisation of the service is not in accord with the best interests of the country and that commerce generally is being hampered. That need not exist if greater consideration was shown in that respect. I know men in the railway service who feel keenly on this question; who do not hesitate to say that the" management of the companies themselves are not all that is desired from the point of view of the national interest, and it is useless to a large extent for the hon. Gentleman and his Department to do their best to co-ordinate the service unless there is harmony throughout the country and the railway companies do their best to dovetail their organisation into his own.
I thought possibly that we might have heard something further about the question of wagon shortage. After what has taken place during the period of the War this is a difficulty which naturally must arise when so many wagons were transferred to other spheres of activity, but I would ask whether or not some of the Departments could not be occupied with wagon construction with advantage to the country. I remember reading the excellent statement made on this particular question to Members of the House by the Minister of Transport, and I was interested to note that he stated that the prices for which wagons could be constructed at Woolwich Arsenal were considerably lower than the prices quoted by outside contractors. When one hears of a heavy discharge of labour from Woolwich Arsenal later on, one wonders whether the fullest advantage is being taken of that place in the matter of wagon construction, having regard to the needs of the Country and the statement of the Minister of Transport in reference to price. It is useless to expect the best results in matters of this description unless the whole of the national resources are utilised fully in regard to the different phases of the question. I can only hope that national institutions like Woolwich Arsenal will be utilised fully in helping a work which is so essential to carrying on the services of the country. Industry is being seriously disturbed by lack of adequate railway facilities at present in the 1396 matter of the return to the factories of the empties which are necessary in order that further goods may be despatched. I know of boot factories which are full to the doors with boots because of the difficulty, almost the impossibility of getting the return of the empties whereby further deliveries of their manufactured goods can be made. There is a wastage of labour going on also because new cases are being made with a waste of material and labour which might be utilised in other directions if better facilities were granted for a return of the empties.
I desire now to refer to agriculture so far as it is affected by transport As a member of the recent Royal Commission dealing with Agriculture, I can say that there was no question which came before us upon which there was greater unanimity than that of transport. Everybody agreed that the industry was hampered by the lack of adequate transport, and that expenditure in many cases was wasted because there were not sufficient transport facilities to Garry the produce to market. If that is so in regard to ordinary facilities I am sure that hon. Members will recognise that if our present inadequate system of transport is not fully placed at the disposal of agriculture the industry must suffer further. In some of the Eastern Counties it is a common thing to see railway yards full of farmers' wagons laden with produce which have been taken there and have to be left there because there are no facilities to carry the produce away. It means a great expense to the industry to have, to send horses and men to railway stations a number of times before the produce can be removed.
The needs of agriculture have been advocated frequently in this House from the point of view of the cost of production. If we add to that the difficulty of farmers because of the impossibility of getting their goods away, we can see that it seriously affects the industry. I would urge on the hon. Gentleman the imperative need of organising more effectively a supply of wagons whereby the industry may be better looked after. The present position has this serious effect, that farmers will perhaps hesitate to grow crops which require weekly deliveries, from the farm unless they can have the necessary supply of wagons. The industry is affected adversely by the fact that farmers never can know when they 1397 send their goods to different stations whether they will be able to have them taken from them and delivered at their destination, or how many times a man will have to go to the different stations before the goods are finally taken off his hands.
I recognise fully that in so short a time it has not been possible to reorganise the service in the way all of us would like to see. Personally, I appreciate the earnest endeavours of the hon. Gentleman in this matter, but I would suggest to him again the importance of trying to ascertain whether the organisation of the railway companies of the country is of a character that harmonises with the efforts made by his own Department. It is useless for his Departmtnt to use its best endeavours to develop an organisation of transport in the country unless it is helped by the railway companies working on harmonious lines. One hears of remarkable cases of goods which are retained on sidings, and have to be moved continually for shunting operations—trucks full of goods whose destination is only a few miles away from where the trucks are standing, and which are being moved continually. While that kind of thing continues, one is forced to the conclusion that railway companies may not be imbued with that same honest endeavour to meet the needs of the country as is manifested in the speech of the hon. Gentleman. I would emphasise again the great importance of the needs of agriculture, not merely as regards railway extensions, which are necessary, but from the point of view of existing railways giving adequate facilities to the industry, which are so essential if the goods from the farm, of which we are all greatly in need, are to be distributed throughout the country.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. Gentleman did not mean any discourtesy, I am sure, but he rose rather early and cut out some hon. Members who wished to raise matters that may seem to him rather unimportant. I rather gathered that that was his attitude when I raised the point on which I am going to speak now, but these matters are of great importance to the constituencies which we represent and to the whole country, and the hon. Gentleman dealt with them very cursorily and indifferently. He comes to this Committee and asks for £181,061 for an 1398 enormous staff containing these highly-paid officials, and in reference to questions, which concern our constituents so much, in seaports, we are told that we can come and see him again afterwards. That is not good enough. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman wants his dinner or his Vote, but with this sort of treatment he is not going to get either. I want to refer to the lamentable state of affairs in the port of Hull. The port has become more and more congested and now there is a congestion of over 100,000 tons of timber. The hon. Gentleman did not think fit to refer to this in his speech, but I hope he will reply later. The timber buyers are totally unable to place their orders for timber until they have some guarantee that the congestion will be removed. That in its turn means unemployment. It means also that the timber is not being distributed over the country for house building, and that the price of timber and of houses is being kept up. The matter has been raised by myself, by the Chamber of Commerce for the city of Hull, and by other Members of this House, but we have had very little satisfaction. Highly-paid officials have come to Hull and consulted, but nothing else has happened.
The trouble, of course, is the shortage of wagons. I was astonished to hear that British wagons in France are being sold to the Belgians, and that wagons are being sent to Poland. In the latter case it can be, presumably, only for mad military adventures. If that is the case, there is going to be a good deal of dissatisfaction in the country. Timber is a light article that could be carried by road and we want to know why the experiment of using motor lorries is not made. In Manchester and some other places, I believe, the system was not satisfactory or was not popular, but in Hull it was extraordinarily useful. Why cannot we have the motor lorries back Are they being used to break another railway strike? If not, why cannot they be used to overcome the serious crisis in the trade of the country? Another question to which I want to refer relates to oil-cake. The makers cannot get on with the manufacture of oil-cake because their storing space is blocked up and they cannot get wagons. That means that there is a shortage of oil-cake, and therefore a shortage of milk, and the price of milk is going up. I hope the hon. Gentleman will 1399 reply to these suggestions, which I have made, I hope, in a constructive and friendly way. I have been interested to notice that the hon. Members who attempted to cut the heart out of the Ministry of Transport Bill are those who now complain that the Ministry of Transport is to blame. I supported the Ministry of Transport. I spoke in this House in favour of the personal capacity of the present Minister, with whom I served at the Admiralty. As to his energy and ability I could therefore testify. I must say, however, that the criticisms of the Ministry which are now being made seem to me to be justified. There is too much thinking, considering and working out of policy and too little action. The people of the country are prepared to suffer inconvenience if a real effort is made to solve the problem before us. I have to admit that from the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary I cannot gather that the problem is seriously viewed at the Ministry, or that sufficient steps are going taken to deal with the trouble. I can speak with knowledge of Hull. The information there is that a good deal more could be done by the Ministry.
I would like to pass from that to an item in the Estimates which I think is a scandal. On page 75, there is a sum for the pay of cleaners. The pay of the Director-Generals, Commissioners and others is in no respect mean. Those officials are well paid, and if they do their work they are worth it. But on page 75 we see an item referring to 35 cleaners, or charwomen, who are to be paid 14s., a week. They get a War bonus in addition. The hon. Gentleman could not say what that War bonus was, but if he has an opportunity of consulting his professional advisers, I think he might tell us. At this time of day to pay poor women 14s. a week, plus War bonus, is a scandal. We hear plenty about economy, but for heaven's sake do not let us economise in the wages of cleaners. We are asked also to approve a payment of 29s. a week to three coal porters. To pay that sum at this period is also scandalous, and I shall certainly vote for a reduction of the Vote unless we get a good explanation. There is one other blot on the Estimates. The Ministry of Transport is starting with a clean sheet. They bring here their complete staff cut and dried. I want to know 1400 why they are paying male clerks and female clerks at different rates. I do not think there is an hon. Member of this Committee who, when asked at the General Election whether he was in favour of equal pay for men and women for equal work, did not answer, yes. Otherwise he would not have got the women's vote. These are not typists. I take it they are clerks as stated. I think it is scandalous. A new Department ought to set an example. The great complaint of the discharged soldier who cannot get work is that women are employed because they are cheaper, and when he hears of this sort of thing I think he is justified in saying that and in complaining.
In reply to the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) the Parliamentary Secretary stated that he was not going to say a word as to what would be the policy of the Ministry of Transport in two years' time. That is quite true. Neither he nor his Government will have an opportunity of doing it. There will be another Government in power, we hope, and it will have another policy. It will be a policy of Government management, Government ownership, and Government control, and that need not mean bureaucracy. There is no other way of solving this problem.
§ Mr. W. CARTER
I desire to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary a question affecting the facilities afforded to men travelling to and from their work in North Notts. Owing to mine developments and the lack of housing accommodation, thousands of men have to travel by train to and from their work under conditions which, I think without exaggeration, I may describe as revolting, This occurs from Mansfield to various pits in the neighbourhood. Many of these men have to travel in carriages in total darkness, without any heating accommodation, and as a result contract chills and colds, and have to go on the sick list so that thereby the output of coal is reduced. Only last week I had occasion to travel in this district, and on arriving at my destination I noticed that there were three or four workmen's carriages attached to the ordinary train. I had been in comfort in a carriage well upholstered, heated and lighted, but the three carriages attached for workmen had no light, no heat and no upholstery, and 1401 that was for men who had been giving their services in the mines, and had come out of the pits with sweated clothes. There are hon. Members in this House who would not, I am sure, allow cattle to travel under those circumstances. Representations have been made to the railway companies, asking that the carriages in which workmen have to travel to and from their work should be lighted and heated, and invariably the reply is, that it would be too costly an undertaking. I confess I do not wonder that there is unrest and dissatisfaction in the minds of the men who have to travel under those circumstances. I think the Parliamentary Secretary is quite familiar with the conditions of travelling, because he happens to live in that particular district. Although this may appear to be a very small question, it is very important in the interests of the health and comfort of these men, and I appeal to him to give the subject favourable consideration, and to make representations to the various companies so that these men can go to their work and come from it in that degree of comfort which is afforded to the rest of the community.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I wish to support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) with regard to the traffic difficulties of the Port of Hull. I have had a good deal of experience personally on the state of affairs at Hull. I have been agitating and using all my influence for a good many months past in connection with this question. At first the problem became acute with regard to the seed-crushing industry. So serious did it become that the mills were closing down, and if it had not been that through the strenuous efforts which we and others made, the Ministry, I admit frankly sent, a representative there and slightly alleviated the position, the mills would have had to close down. But the position is still very serious and production is being seriously restricted through this shortage of traffic. The position now has become serious particularly with regard to the timber trade. At this time when the importing season is coming to an end, and when the workmen will not be able to be engaged in the actual process of unloading the ships, and when in the normal course they would be engaged in loading wagons to get timber inland, owing to the shortage of railway wagons and this con- 1402 gestion of traffic, this timber cannot be got rid of and the men will be out of employment, and timber so urgently needed for housing is not being obtained. I submit that the position is really very serious. I make no excuse for referring to the specific Port of Hull, because its position is peculiarly unfortunate. It is dealt with more unfairly than other districts owing to the fact that the allocation of wagons was made, for some reason which I do not know, on the basis of the use of wagons during the year 1017. Everyone knows that during that year the submarine campaign by the Germans was at its highest state of efficiency, and if any port suffered through the submarine menace it was the Port of Hull. Therefore to be tied up now to an allocation based on the year 1917 is manifestly unfair to the great Port of Hull.
I, like my hon. Friend, the Member for Central Hull, supported the Ministry of Transport Kill when it went through this House, and I have been one of the many supporters of the Ministry. I desire to testify here to the unvarying courtesy which has been displayed by the hon. Member who so ably represents the Ministry during this Debate. I had many occasions to write to him, and not only had I prompt but most courteous replies. I am quite certain, so far as he personally is concerned, that he is doing his best to improve matters which are, however, still very unsatisfactory. When the hon. Gentleman spoke last night he advised Members to go to the railway companies first, and said it was too frequent a practice to go to the Ministry of Transport to solve all difficulties. I can ass— him with regard to Hull, that every possible communication and approach and appeal have been made to the railway companies, so that, at any rate, we are not going to him before we hare made every possible appeal to get satisfaction direct to the railway companies. This is getting to be a most urgent and serious business. We have had a lot of promises, and representatives of the Ministry have come up and we have been fed with those promises, but I am sorry to say that in the main they have been very fruitless. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply to deal with this important and serious question of the traffic congestion at Hull, Hull seems to have been particularly unfortunate, not only as to its traffic, but 1403 with regard to coal export which arises through the difficulties of transport. The Ministry say that, owing to the shortage of wagons and congestion, coal must not go for export to Hull except from the midlands while that coal is allocated to other districts. The result is that the export trade of Hull is also seriously suffering. We made efforts to see the Prime Minister on the matter, but we have not been successful. This is wrapped up with the question of traffic regulations in that district. I do submit that the general interests of the country are involved in the solving of this question of the great and acute congestion at Hull.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
Seeing that the question of Scotland has been brought forward, I think I might also mention South Wales. We have heard some criticism in reference to salaries, but I am more interested about production, because once you get production you can easily find the money to pay salaries, and in South Wales we are very seriously handicapped in so far as the transport business is concerned. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is aware that some months ago a very representative deputation from the collieries and steel works, tinplate works, docks, spelter works, and other industries in South Wales waited upon the Prime Minister, and a very strong case was made out against the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry asked the committee that waited upon the Prime Minister to send forward a further report with a view to allowing the officials to investigate as to the cause of the congestion in South Wales. Up to the present I do not believe that anything has been done. We are in a worse position in South Wales to-day than we were when that deputation waited upon the Prime Minister. It is a very serious matter, because in some cases we know that one industry is dependent upon another. I have a case in mind where in one works they were producing pig iron and wanted to send it to another works seven miles away, and it took seven days to get that pig iron from one works to the other. The result is that furnaces in the steel works are lighted up during the week-end, and perhaps in the middle of the week the furnaces will have to be damped down because there is no pig iron, and there is the waste of all this coal as a result. That is not all. The 1404 output has been reduced. You have two classes of men who are employed in these trades, some people paid by piece-work and others by the day. The people who work on piece-work have an opportunity, even if there is a shortage one week, of making it up the following week, but the labourers and the day workers have not an opportunity, when they are sent home from the works as a result of the furnaces being closed down, to regain the money they have lost, and therefore you have all this unrest among these labourers and other day workers as a result of all the congestion that is taking place in the different industries in South Wales.
I would like to make one suggestion to the hon. Gentleman. During the railway strike, when it suited the Government to use road transport in order to break the railway strike, they did not trouble how much money they spent in order to achieve that purpose. Now we have discharged soldiers who are being paid unemployed benefit to-day, who are walking the streets, and who are prepared to work if you find work for them. They can drive these motor lorries, and why is it the Government do not use the same motor lorries now to relieve this congestion as they did when it suited their purpose in order to break the railway strike? Then there is another point. I am not in favour of Sunday labour, and I want to reduce it as much as I can, but in some of the industries the railway companies have to do a great amount of shunting on Sunday in order to get the raw materials into the industries, and also to bring the finished material out. I have been informed—I cannot say how far it is true—that the Ministry of Transport will not permit the railway men to work on Sunday, because they have to pay double time for the work. Surely, common-sense ought to teach us that if it is going to be an advantage to the country to get an increased output it is far better for the Ministry of Transport to pay this double time to the railway men in order to get the raw material into the industries and the finished material out. There is just one other point. Some months ago we had the Minister of Transport addressing a meeting of Members of this House in a Grand Committee room upstairs, to explain the reason for all this congestion, and I took a special note of one remark that was made by the Minister on that 1405 occasion. He said that there was not a shortage of wagons, and that for the whole of the United Kingdom there were 2,000 more wagons in 1919 than in 1914, but, he said, so far as England, Scotland, and Wales were concerned, they were 1,000 wagons short. Therefore, we had to come to the conclusion at once that the 2,000 extra wagons must have been in Ireland, with the troops. Why is it that the Government is mis-governing Ireland in that way, and keeping 2,000 wagons there that ought to be in this country assisting production and export in order to balance the exchange? Let us try and get Ireland governed better and—
§ The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
We are not discussing that now.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I will leave that then, and merely suggest that the Ministry of Transport should endeavour as quickly as possible to get these two thousand wagons back from Ireland in order to assist the congestion in other parts of the country.
§ Mr. TOOTILL
There are two items to which I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. In regard to Item 56, Messengers, I presume they are adult male persons who are employed to do this work at 27s. weekly, and taking that on the pre-War basis—
§ Mr. TOOTILL
I hope the hon. Gentleman will gives us the amount of the war bonus, added to the 27s. weekly, and the number of hours they are called upon to work, and thereby show that the Government realise the position of men labouring for such a small wage. With regard to Item 35, which has already been referred to by various speakers, namely, to state the amount of the bonus that these employés are paid. It does seem, in these clays, at any rate, to be ridiculous that anybody should be employed for eight hours in any one given day at the rate of 14s. per week, and that a Government, which has command of the national purse-strings to the extent that they have, should let it go forth that persons are employed at this weekly wage. Then I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact, which has been clearly demonstrated, that congestion on the different railway systems 1406 in the country and at the ports does exist. I want to know, and I think the country wants to know, for what reason this congestion exists? Are the men at fault? Are they not doing their duty? Do they not realise the national danger consequent upon their inactivities and indifference to the conditions that prevail, or what really is the reason?. Surely it cannot be that the railway companies are so disinterested and unpatriotic as not themselves to realise that something should be done to relieve this great congestion. If they are convinced that it does exist, and that something is necessary to be done, what are their plans for removing this particular state of congestion?
The hon. Gentleman last night and today has endeavoured to explain, and has. I think, shown, that he himself realises the grave and perilous position, and is evidently desirous of doing his best, at any rate, to remove the difficulty. But will he tell us what is in the minds of the Ministry of Transport in regard to relieving this tremendous danger with regard to this particular matter? I am sure if they realise it, as I hope they do, they must see that indirectly it has an effect upon the cost of living, and that, I am sure, is the predominant danger with which the country is faced at the present juncture. To-morrow there is to be a great Congress of Representatives of Labour directly interested in these great and serious national problems. I believe that if the Government would prove to the country and to these particular representatives that they are seriously anxious to remove the dangers that at present exist, to remove all that tends to produce anxiety in the minds of the people of this country in regard to the continuous rise in the cost of commodities, it would do much to ameliorate and appease, and to produce contentment in the minds of the workers in a way that nothing else can possibly do. If there is anything, personally, I feel particularly proud of, it is that on 17th February, 1915, in delivering my maiden speech in this House, I devoted myself entirely to the possibilities of the rise in the cost of commodities and the results that would follow if that took place. I pointed out in that speech—
§ Mr. TOOTILL
I thank you, Sir Edwin, for your correction. I want to know from the responsible Minister who is in charge of this particular matter, if he will tell us what really, in his view, is causing all these complaints in respect to the congestion on the railways and at the ports; and whether it is not possible, at any rate, to prevent such complaints as have been made responsibly from this Bench, that it has taken seven days to carry raw materials from one place to another seven miles distant. That, in a State of civilisation, in a country like ours, should never be possible from any cause whatever, and should not be allowed to continue. I hope he will endeavour to show the House and the country that the Ministry of Transport are going to deal with this question in a practical and businesslike way, and that, so far as they are concerned, these complaints in future shall not exist.
I would do an extremely unkind and ungrateful thing if I kept the Minister in charge of this Vote from his dinner very much longer. I want to add my meed of congratulation to him upon the capacity which he has shown in discharging the very important duty that has fallen to him. Whatever may be thought about the absence of the Minister of Transport, I am sure there will be general agreement that the Vote has not suffered in any way by being in the hands of the Parliamentary Secretary. I want to draw his attention to one or two matters to which I think his attention has not been called up to the present time. He said, in the course of his speech yesterday, that when the Ministry was formed, one of the first things they had to do was to discover what were the exact financial arrangements between the Government and the railway companies. He said they were spread over a series of documents, and that they had to get them together, and, so far as they could, collate them and find out exactly what the arrangement was. On that point, I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he could give us an undertaking that, having now discovered for himself what the position exactly is—and I presume that is the result of the effort made—he will take some steps to put the House in possession of the facts? This is one of the, greatest undertakings this country has ever been engaged in, the possession of all the rail- 1408 way undertakings, and it seems extremely important that we should know exactly what are the financial arrangements between the Government and the railway companies. I take it that that is now known to the Ministry of Transport, and if they will circulate to the House some statement of the facts, they will do a real service in that respect.
On the very narrow point of the reduction of the Vote. I intend to vote for this reduction, and very briefly to give the House my reasons for so doing. There can be no question but that the country is disappointed. That disappointment has been expressed in the House. The Parliamentary Secretary has said that it is rather preposterous and unreasonable to expect more from the Ministry than they have done. That may be so, but he himself in his speech yesterday used these words:There is a common idea that if traffic is delayed, if there is a congested port, and so on, it was due to the Ministry.Ideas do not become common without some foundation. I think the hon. Member will agree with me that the country was lead to expect, when the Ministry of Transport was formed that a great deal of the trouble and expense they had been put to by reason of the conditions of traffic would be relieved. It may be we were wrong in that expectation, but it was reasonable and founded upon the hope held out to the country, both at the election and when the Ministry of Transport Bill was going through this House. The hon. Member desires to carry through a Vote for £181,000, which is only for a period of the year. The cost of his Department will really amount to nearly £300,000 for the year. I took the trouble to examine what the cost of some other of the great Departments of State are, and it is rather interesting to find that this infant Department already exceeds in its yearly expenditure either the Treasury, the Foreign Office or the Colonial Office. The country, I think, will be disappointed to find that for this expenditure it is not going to get the relief from those burdens and annoyances to which it has been subjected. I do not, therefore, think that the hon. Member in charge of the Vote can really be surprised at the expressions of disappointment in this House. When the country does learn what this staff is really for, I think they 1409 will not only be disappointed, but surprised.
I think it was the hon. Member for East Edinburgh who put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that there was some inconsistency between several of his statements last night. On the one hand, he told us he had nothing to do with the internal economy of the railways, and on the other hand he told us he had a department which dealt with questions like the provision of wagons and other similar matters. The hon. Gentleman in his speech this afternoon tried to reconcile those statements by saying, that whilst it was true that the Ministry of Transport had nothing to do with the internal economy of the railways, yet in those matters in which it was interfering it was doing so because the Government had assumed a very considerable financial responsibility. He told us that in all cases where expenditure on the railways was more than the normal cost, that the excess was to fall upon the taxpayer, and that the staff for the railways for whom we are voting to-day really existed for the purpose of checking this cost, and seeing that the proportion of the burden which falls upon the taxpayer is not an unfair one.
Only yesterday we had a Vote in which we were asked to provide something over £100,000 for inspectors appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture because of certain guarantees given to the farmers. These inspectors were to check the conditions of the guarantee and see that they were properly carried out. Here we have apparently an exactly identical situation. A guarantee appears to have been given to the railway companies of this country that the excess cost of improvements they may have to carry out under the Ministry of Transport is to fall upon the taxpayer, and in consequence, so far as I am able to judge, one of the principal reasons for the appointment of a very considerable staff is that these estimates have to be checked and posibly reduced. Something like 280 schemes have already been submitted to the staff in question, we are told, and passed by the Financial, Traffic, Civil Engineering, and the Mechanical Engineering Departments, and on some of these schemes a saving of something like 5 per cent. has been made. Apparently, therefore, the object of this great staff is not to secure the public comforts, conveniences, and economies 1410 we ware looking forward to; the staff has been established for the purpose of saving or diminishing to the taxpayer the burden which is to fall upon him in the future on account of the guarantee given by the Government to the railway interests. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Neal) shakes his head, but I took down his words at the time, and that is the only construction it appears to me they are capable of bearing. Let me draw attention to a passage in his speech yesterday in which the same thing is said. After speaking about the original arrangements, he went on to say that there was also the question of repairs. It should be realised that if these repairs were done in the time of rising prices there must be a Government charge to be ascertained in respect of them. The general position is this: that in the case of repairs not carried out during the War period, and also in respect of all improvements which are going to be made under the direction of the Ministry of Transport, the excess cost of these repairs and improvements is to fall upon the taxpayer. The effect of Government control during the War period is apparently a debit of £45,000,000 or £50,000,000.
There was an idea and a hope in the public mind when the Ministry of Transport was formed that it was going to be able to carry out in some way a wonderful process of co-ordination and such economies as would enable this £50,000,000 to be mot in some other way than by raising rates and fares. There is no doubt about it that that was a real hope. It was looked upon as a substantial hope by the general public. The deficiency has not been met in that way, and the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote does not hold out any hope of it being met in that way. The Ministry has met it by the very simple and obvious course of raising rates, and takes great credit at having relieved the taxpayer at the expense of the consumer. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the railway system must be made to pay. If it is necessary, if there is no other way, the deficiency can be made up then by raising fares and rates, that must be done. That, however, is not the hope we had. We hoped that the Ministry of Transport, through the exercise of its powers, would have discovered some methods of economising in the railway system that would have given us the relief we wanted in some other way than 1411 that of increased rates and fares. But that is what has happened! That is the result of Government control during the last four or five years. That, too, does not take into account this new financial burden which is going to be placed upon the taxpayer.
Some little time ago I asked here, and I ask again, if there was any Estimate as to what the extra cost to the ratepayers during the War period was going to be. The Minister of Transport told me that it was something like £40,000,000. Here we have another £40,000,000 to be found, quite apart from the first deficiency. Now we learn to-day from the hon. Gentleman that, in addition to this, the taxpayer is to be called upon in the future to bear the excess cost of improvements to the railways which are being carried out. What will be the amount of that? No provision, so far as I know, has been made for this in any Vote or Estimate. It may very well be, that at the end of the two years of control, after all the schemes of the Minister have been carried out, that the taxpayer may find himself with a burden of anything up to £100,000,000, which may have to be met by further increases of rates and fares. It is a very serious prospect, and I should be glad if the Minister could hold out some hope that this will not be the case, or if he could give some justification for placing this burden upon the taxpayer. It all comes back in the long run upon the general public.
I am continually getting letters from people in my constituency who are apprehensive that passenger fares are going to be raised, and from traders who complain about the increase in the rates. Apparently, the future holds a darker prospect even that the present, and I do not see how the arrangement which we are told that the Government have entered into and which, so far as I know, has never been disclosed to the House can be justified.
If repairs cost more to-day than before the War, that is not peculiar to the railway companies; it is common to everybody who owns any kind of property, and it is very difficult to see why the railway companies should have the excess cost of their repairs and their improvements placed upon the State, while every other industry has to bear the extra cost 1412 itself. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can give us some good reason for it. Apparently, if the plans and schemes and intentions of the Ministry of Transport are carried out and the whole of the railway system of this country is improved, lock, stock and barrel, the cost is going to be placed very largely upon the taxpayer. The hon. Gentleman says that is not so, and I hope that he will make it clear. He has been challenged on the point of policy. There is real substance in that point. If the system, at the end of two years, is going to be handed back to the railway companies, what justification can there be for placing the excess cost of these improvements upon the State? On the other hand, if instead of being handed back to the railway companies, it is going to be nationalised, is the State going to pay over again for improvements to which already it has contributed. My hon. Friend deprecates the question of policy being raised in the present situation, but I would remind him that when he was pressed with regard to the canals, he said, "We cannot undertake obligations in respect of canals until we have decided our policy." It appears to me that applies equally to the railways. The challenge made to him from this side, of the House to state his policy appears to me to be exceedingly reasonable.
§ Mr. NEAL
The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. W. R. Smith) asked whether the railway companies were being efficiently managed. The word "efficiency" is a very relative term. I should be the last to criticise their management, but like everything else it is capable of improvement, and hon. Members know that a Railway Advisory Committee has been set up by the Minister, consisting of general managers, railway workers, and representatives of other interests, to secure that there shall be every possible improvement in the management of the railways. He also asked me a question about wagon building at Woolwich. There are, I believe, 1,000 wagons and 100 locomotives being constructed. He spoke about agriculture and hoped that it would not be neglected. I can assure him that it is one of the last things that we desire to neglect. I am afraid that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) had good ground for thinking that I was not quite as courteous 1413 as he might have expected me to be in the way that I dealt with his interposition. I assure him that I have no desire to be otherwise than courteous to him or to any other hon. Member. He and his colleague (Major Entwistle) know perfectly well that the whole influence of the Ministry is being used to its fullest extent to relieve the congestion at the Port of Hull. I am myself deeply interested in the matter, and I hope that the congestion will be relieved before the new seasons purchases come in.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Would the hon. Gentleman mind telling us what is going to be done? It is most vital to the port.
§ Mr. NEAL
I have already made a substantial contribution to the Debate, and I do not think the Committee would desire me to enter into the details of any scheme. If my hon. and gallant Friends will be good enough to put themselves in communication with me, I shall be glad to consider every possible means of relieving the congestion at the Port of Hull. Something was said about the charwomen who are engaged in cleaning the offices. They work for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. They receive 15s. and 30 per cent. war bonus. That, I believe, is universal throughout the Government offices. I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. W. Carter) a question as to the travelling conditions for men who work in conditions which make them very hot and wet. I am quite familiar with those conditions, and if it were possible' to warm the carriages I think it would be most advantageous. I quite realise that it may be disastrous to their health to have to travel in cold trains. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull referred to the system for the allocation of wagons made two years ago, and he suggested that it has not worked satisfactorily. I can tell him that matter is being reviewed at the present time by the Railway Clearing House. He also spoke about the export of coal. On the one hand, complaint is made against the Government for exporting coal which is urgently needed for home use, and, on the other hand, complaint is made against the Government for not permitting the export of coal. The Government is very much in the position of the little boy whose elder brother was sent 1414 to see what he was doing and told to tell him that he must not do it.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
The complaint is that Hull is not treated as well as other ports.
§ Mr. NEAL
The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths) spoke of the congestion in South Wales. That is a matter in which the Prime Minister takes a deep interest. A new railway line over the Severn is wanted, and that matter in connection with the creation of a dam on the Severn to use tidal waters for the purpose of creating electrical power is receiving most careful consideration. The question of another high level bridge over the Severn is also being considered, but there can be no real and satisfactory relief of the congestion in South Wales until there are better outlets for the traffic. I was asked a question with reference to motor lorries. They were altogether unsatisfactory in the Port of Hull, but I will not trouble at this stage to give the figures, although I will supply them if hon. Members would like to see them. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton (Mr. Tootill) asked a question about the coal porters. Their wages, I think, stand in the list at 29s., which is increased by a bonus of 30 per cent. and a sum of 24s. The actual sum paid to them is 59s. The hon. Member invited me to deal with the question of congestion, and what has been done in relation to it. That matter is much too large a topic to enter upon now, except to say that there will be an increase of locomotive power by new construction and the expediting of repairs. There will be a similar increase in the efficiency in wagons. The difficulties are largely due to the application of the eight-hours working system, to which the companies have hardly yet adjusted themselves. When I tell the hon. Member that one railway company alone is training 30 per cent. of new locomotive drivers, it will be appreciated that efforts are being made to deal with that question. A locomotive driver cannot be put in charge of traffic without adequate training. There are many kinds of matters of that description, leading to the present trouble, and they are being removed, I hope, one by one. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) entered into a discussion on finance which does not represent my view of the situation at all, but which I think can be 1415 more conveniently dealt with when there is something on the Vote relating to the sum we are called upon to pay for the railways.
§ Question put, "That Item A be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 67; Noes, 165.1417
|Division No. 38.]||AYES.||[9.25 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grundy, T. W.||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Guest, J. (York, W. R. Hemsworth)||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayday, Arthur||Robertson, John|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Sexton, James|
|Briant, Frank||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Too till, Robert|
|Cape, Thomas||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wignall, James|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, John (Glamorgan, Gower)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Donnelly, P.||O'Grady, Captain James||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Onions, Alfred|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. G. Thorne and Mr. Hogge.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Elveden, Viscount||Macmaster, Donald|
|Armitage, Robert||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Fell, Sir Arthur||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Forestier-Walker, L.||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Forrest, Walter||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||France, Gerald Ashburner||Morris, Richard|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Gardiner, James||Mosley, Oswald|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Greene, Lieut. Col. W. (Hackney, N)||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Gregory, Holman||Neal, Arthur|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Greig, Colonel James William||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Britton, G. B.||Griggs, Sir Peter||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward|
|Bruton, Sir James||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Oman, Charles William C.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hailwood, Augustine||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Perring, William George|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Haslam, Lewis||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Casey, T. W.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Preston, W. R.|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Hood, Joseph||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hope, H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Henry Page||Jephcott, A. R.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rodger, A. K.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rogers, Sir Hallewell|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Kidd, James||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Seager, Sir William|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Lloyd, George Butler||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lort-Williams, J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield).||Waddington, R.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Wallace, J.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Taylor, J.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Terrell, Captain H. (Oxford, Henley)||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)||Commander Eyres-Monsell and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
Original question put, and agreed to.