§ (1) In view of the emergency resulting from the exigencies of the war, the profits of the undertakings to which this Act applies (hereinafter referred to as undertakings) arising during the period of the operation of this Act shall be aggregated, and after such deduction and addition as are hereinafter mentioned, shall be distributed amongst the several undertakings in manner provided by the First Schedule to this Act:
§ Provided that—
- (i) if the amount of the aggregated profits of all the undertakings, after such deduction and addition, exceeds the aggregate of the total standards of all the undertakings, such part only of that amount as is equal to that aggregate, plus one-tenth part of such excess, shall be so distributable;
- (ii) if the amount of the aggregated profits of all the undertakings, after such deduction and addition, is less than a sum equal to nine-tenths of the aggregate of the total standards of all the undertakings, the sum distributable shall be increased by an amount equal to such deficiency, if and so far as such deficiency appears to the Controller, or on appeal is proved to the satisfaction of the Board of Referees appointed under the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, to have caused by any order, regulation, or direction issued by the Controller or by the Board of Trade after the first day of January nineteen hundred and twenty.
§ (2) In determining the sum distributable, the following deduction and addition shall be made from and to the aggregated profits:—
- (a) There shall be deducted from the aggregated profits any sum paid by the Board of Trade or the Controller under the Coal Mines (War Wage Payment) Directions and Supplementary Directions, 1918 and 1919, in respect of the period of the operation of this Act;
- (b) There shall be added to the aggregated profits any sums collected by the Board
2553 of Trade or the Controller under the said directions in respect of the said period.
§ (3) For the purposes of this Act "total standards" in relation to any undertaking means the sum of all the standards attributable to the accounting periods or parts of accounting periods falling within the period of the operation of this Act, and "accounting period" means an accounting period under the provisions of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, relating to excess profits duty as amended or explained by any subsequent enactment (which provisions are hereinafter referred to as the Finance Act).
§ (4) The provisions of this Act shall be taken to be in full satisfaction of all claims for compensation arising in the period of the operation of this Act in respect of the orders of the Board of Trade made under Regulation 9G of the Defence of the Realm Regulations dated the twenty-ninth day of November nineteen hundred and sixteen and the twenty-second day of February nineteen hundred and seventeen, or anything done thereunder.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
The first Amendment on the Paper [to leave out the Clause] would destroy the Bill. It is equivalent to a negative of the whole Bill. It would not be in order on the Report stage.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
There is no question on the Report stage "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." An Amendment to strike out the operative Clause of the Bill is equivalent to a negative of the whole Bill. That is taken on the third day, but not on the Report stage.
§ Mr. BRACE
I beg to move, "That the further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."
I should like to ask the Government whether they think it is a proper thing to take a Bill of this far reaching importance at this time of night. This is a Bill in which at least 1,000,000 workmen are interested, involving large sums of money, and it occurs to my colleagues as to myself, that a Bill of this importance ought to be taken at an early period of the Sitting so that we may have a proper opportunity of debating the whole of these questions rather than taking it at this time of night. I, therefore, appeal to the Government not to go on with the Bill to-night, but to place it as the first Order on a day when we shall have a chance of proper discussion.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR (Sir Robert Home)
There is no alternative but to carry through this business now. The House realises the state of public business, and the arrangement made in regard to carrying through Supply for the present year. If we are to perform that duty there is no other time available in which we can carry through the Report, stage of this Bill. Accordingly, I must ask the House to consider the alternative of sacrificing this Bill or of proceeding; with it at the present stage. If we do not proceed now a very serious situation arises. Everybody knows that the coal trade is being carried on at the present time in a position of very great difficulty. The arrangements that are to be made in this Bill ought to have been made long ago. The Government presented a Bill to the House which they believed would suit the conditions of the industry, but the Bill was rejected by those who represent the million workers to whom my right hon. Friend has referred. That caused a very great delay. It was equally distasteful, as it seemed, to the coal owners, and accordingly there was nothing to be done except to withdraw the proposals put forward at that time and to introduce others. The present proposals have been before the House for Second Reading, have been carefully considered by a very representative Committee, and now come before the House on Report. There is no time to spare, these arrangements must be made now or they can never be made again. I ask the House to consider the state of confusion to which the coal trade would be reduced if the proposal to adjourn were carried now. The whole time which the House has at its disposal has already been allocated. We are already dangerously near the time, and unless we can solve the coal problem for the current year by the measure which is now before the House we are going to get into an unutterable state of confusion. I accordingly ask the right hon. Gentleman not to press his proposal. It could only be resented by the Government. We have no alternative but to carry through the Report stage of the Bill.
§ Mr ADAMSON
It may be that it is of the utmost importance that the Government should get this Bill, but it certainly is not one of the Bills that was within the arrangement to which the 2555 right hon. Gentleman refers. The arrangement simply covered the question of Supply and did not relate to Bills of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the former Bill was rejected by those of us who represents a million workers. It is rather curious for a member of a Government which has behind it such an enormous majority to say that the small number of members who sit on these benches were responsible for the rejection of the former Bill. Our objection to taking the Bill at this late hour is that it deals with one of the vital industries. It is a Bill involving many millions of money, and we should have more time to consider it than we can have by taking it after 11 o'clock at night.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
I regret that my right hon. Friend and his associates should feel that they cannot proceed with this Bill. Nobody knows better than Members of the Labour Party how essential in the interests of trade and the exchequer it is that this Bill should be carried. When this Bill was before the House before it was recognised in all quarters, including those opposite, that this Bill must be proceeded with, and obviously it would be very disadvantageous if it had to be put off until after the recess. We knew that there was objection to its being taken at this time of night, but, as the House knows, there are occasions when it is necessary to sit a few hours beyond the ordinary time when Bills have to be got through in a certain time. This Bill is essentially one of these measures. At present the coal owners are receiving money and have in their own hands money which has come from the State. The result is that the State has to make advances of money. There is not a single Member of the House who feels that the Bill must be carried who does not recognise that it must be carried as soon as possible. We did not wish to force on "the matter. We gave notice that we meant to take this procedure. We put it off until to-day on representations from some of my hon. Friends opposite. We do not intend and never did intend to have an all night sitting. What we do intend is to make progress, to sit perhaps for an hour, or at most two, and make what progress we can, and then try to finish 2556 the Bill by the same method at another sitting. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to recognise that this is a Bill to be dealt with without delay. It is a question of time. It is not a case in which the convenience of hon. Members should be the sole consideration. I appeal to the House to allow us to make progress in this matter without sitting to any late hour.
§ Mr. HOLMES
I quite agree that in the interests of the coal industry this Bill should become law as quickly as possible if it is intended, as undoubtedly the Government intend, that it should become law. The colliery companies at present are in a state of the utmost confusion with regard to the accounts and do not know how they stand as from the 1st April last year. I think it ought to be pointed out that the position in which we are now is undoubtedly due to Government delay. This Bill—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That will not be relevant. The only question before us is whether we shall proceed with this Bill now, or adjourn the Debate.
§ Mr. HOLMES
The point I want to make is that this is a matter on which those who are interested should have the opportunity of full discussion at a time when it is easier to debate. This Bill could have been introduced at any time during last year after the report of the Sankey Commission, as it is based on the recommendations of the Sankey Report.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am sure my hon. Friend wants to be reasonable. We did introduce a Bill to carry out what we thought was the Sankey Report. The House well understands the ground on which it was withdrawn. We never had an opportunity, owing to the financial position, to proceed with the matter until now.
§ Mr. HOLMES
That is just the point I want to make. A Bill was introduced, based on the Sankey Report, at the end of November, the Sankey Report having come out in March. At any time between March and November the Government could have introduced this Bill. If it had been introduced in October or during the summer the whole thing would have been settled long ago, and the collieries would not have been —
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This is not a question of consulting the convenience of members of the House. It is a question of whether we can carry on sound legislation at this time of night. It is all very well for hon. Members to scoff, but there are very few hon. Members opposite who have read this Bill. It is undoubtedly the most difficult Bill to understand that has ever been introduced in this House, and to approach a Bill like this, and to amend it in detail at the end of a long day's sitting after eleven o'clock, is perfectly ridiculous. I happen to have been through this Bill with a specialist, and it took us two solid hours to get the hang of what it meant. I defy any ordinary Member of Parliament to understand what we are debating at this hour in such a conflicting Bill. The Leader of the House and the Minister of Labour both assume that it was an impossibility to deal with this Bill at all unless we dealt with it at night. That is not a fact at all. The arrangement come to concerning supply was that it should conclude on Thursday of next week. After Thursday there are still three or four further days. There is Friday; there are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week. It is understood that two of those days are to be allotted to the Home Rule Bill, but there is no reason why Wednesday should not be allotted to the discussion of this Bill at some time of day when it could be treated with the respect that it deserves, and with that close consideration which alone can put the coal trade on a firm footing. Now we are told that unless we deal with it in this way the whole coal industry will come to a standstill. Nothing of the sort. The industry will go on whether we pass this Bill now or not. The only difficulty is that the colliery accounts cannot be made up, but coal will go on being produced and burned.: To say that the non-passage of this Bill in this rushed manner will upset the 2558 whole of the coal industry is nothing short of nonsense. It may be an inconvenience to the accountants, but coal will go on being produced. It is much better that we should pass the Bill after due consideration rather than rush it through by the threat that the industry will come to a standstill unless something is done. It has taken the Government a long time to discover the immediate urgency of the Bill. If consideration is postponed till Wednesday week we shall be able to consider it at a proper time.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "deduction" ["such deduction and additions "], and to insert instead thereof the word "deductions."
The object of this Amendment is to reintroduce into the Bill the language which it contained when it was introduced by the Government. On the Second Reading a very big majority was given by the House in favour of the Bill as it then stood. The Bill then provided that certain deductions should be made from the aggregate profit standard, and one of those deductions was the expenses of the Coal Control Department. We on these benches were very dissatisfied with the financial provisions of the Bill as introduced, but for reasons which we gave when the Bill was under discussion, we did not move any Amendments to the Financial Clauses. In the Second Reading discussion there was no indication by any Member of the House or by any representative of the coal owners that they wanted any improved conditions as compared with those which the Government had embodied in the Bill. In Committee upstairs the coalowners proposed an Amendment to delete the Clause which provided that the costs of the administration of the Coal Control Department should be charged on the profits of the owners. The Government accepted that Amendment, which means that the annual charge of £750,000, a sum 2559 which represents the working expenses of the Coal Control Department which the Bill originally provided should be taken out of the profits of the coal owners, now becomes a charge upon the national Exchequer. We want by this Amendment to insert "deductions" instead of "deduction" for the purpose of reintroducing that Clause, making good the cost of the Coal Control Department for the profits of the coal owners. I do not think any substantial reason will be given why the Bill as introduced by the Government should be improved as it has been improved, in favour of the coal owners. The Bill provided, as it stood, twenty-six million pounds profit for the coal owners, and in the best five years the coal owners ever had prior to the war the profit was thirteen million pounds. That included profits on coke and by-products. The profits pre-war on coke and by-products amounted to about £1,000,000 per year. Now the coalowners get £26,000,000 per year, plus their profits on coke and by-products. When this matter was discussed before the Coal Industry Commission it was estimated that the profits on coke and by-products were about £6,000,000, but anyone who has been following the rise in the prices of coke and by-products since the date of the Coal Industry Commission will realise that the profits from that source to-day must be enormously in excess of £6,000,000 per year. Probably to-day they are not less than double that amount. Therefore you have £26,000,000 profit on coal, plus a possible £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 on coke and by-products. You have, probably, £36,000,000 or more, as compared with £13,000,000 pre-war, profits on coal, coke and by-products. What earthly reason can be assigned for the Government, having introduced a Bill which gives such favourable conditions to the coalowners, afterwards agreeing to amend it at the request of the coalowners to give them further benefits? The sole object of the amendment is to reintroduce the Clause as it originally appeared in the Bill, and to carry out the first intention of the Government. It is a Clause for which, I think, nearly every member on the opposite side of the House voted on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I beg to second the Amendment. The Labour Party opposed 2560 this Bill on Second Reading on three principle grounds. The first reason was that the Bill made provision only for continuing the coal control until August 31st next. No provision has been made either in this Bill or in any other way, so far as we know, for the control being continued after that date. Our second reason was that the Bill, as it was then drafted, gave far too large profits to the colliery companies. Our third reason was that there was no guarantee in the Bill with regard to the wages of the workman. If the Bill as it stood on Second Reading was objectionable, it is far more objectionable to-night, for this reason: In the Committee stage the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade gave concessions to the coal owners which increased the profits and made the Bill more valuable from their point of view. This was done in face of the fact that on Second Reading there was no protest made on behalf of those who usually speak for the coal owners in this House that the terms of the Bill were not of a generous character so far as they were concerned. I do not know of any objection to the terms of the Bill on Second Reading. Notwithstanding that, when we got upstairs into Committee they had a series of Amendments to put forward seeking con cession after concession from the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, and the one my hon. Friends Amendment deals with is one that was very readily granted by the Parliamentary Secretary. Notwithstanding all our protests and our arguments, the Parliamentary Secretary gives this valuable concession to those who are representing the coal owners, and consequently the Bill as it now stands is even more objectionable to the Members of the Labour Party than it was as originally drafted. My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) thought we could have seen some reason for this concession being granted to coalowners if the provision in the Bill as originally drafted had not been of a generous nature so far as coalowners were concerned, but, as has been pointed out, this Bill, without the concessions that we are contesting through this Amendment, give to the coal owners double their pre-War profits. I am not sure that the Members of the Committee fully understand the generous provision that was made to the coalowners in the terms of the Bill as origin ally drafted. I am not sure that if they 2561 had understood them correctly they would not have supported us to a greater extent in trying to prevent this concession being granted. If one followed the earnings of the coalowners back to a further date than the one already quoted by my hon. Friend, and took the last 30 years of the coal trade, it would be seen that for the last 25 years the average earnings of the coalowners amounted to £9,000,000. This Bill, as it originally stood, provided for giving them £26,000,000, or double the profit they earned for the five years previous to the War—£13,000,000. I hope my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who appears to be in charge of the Bill, will see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir R. HORNE
If my right hon. Friend refers to me, I am afraid he is giving me an entirely exuberant and inaccurate description.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
Possibly coming events cast their shadows before. How-ever, if I am too previous I withdraw, but I appeal to the Minister who is in charge of the Bill to-night to accept the Amendment. I can assure him that the Bill as originally drafted was very objectionable to us, but with the concession that was granted in Committee it is still more objectionable.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Bridge-man)
The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment described with perfect fairness the facts relating to it, and the light hon. Gentleman who seconded it also said, with perfect truth, that it was one of a series of Amendments moved by those representing the colliery owners upstairs. It is the only one which the Committee accepted, and they accepted it on my advice, and because I thought, and I think now, that it was a fair arrangement. As the Bill originally stood, it was intended to provide for the 2s. Sankey wage being established for the miners, and for a certain arrangement as to profits to the coal owners. It is quite true that in the original Bill the expenses of the Coal Control Department, and those involved in the application of Regulation 2JJ. would have been deducted before the calculation was made for the owners' profits. As the result of the passing of the Amendment upstairs, the 2562 costs of the Coal Controller's Department, and the expenses in connection with 2JJ., come out of the pool after the owners' profits have been determined. In speaking upstairs with regard to the amount involved, I put the cost of the Coal Control at £750,000, which I have since found was rather too much; and I put the expenses in connection with 2JJ. at £500,000, which I think is probably more than they will be; but anyhow the extreme amount was £1,250,000. What the movers of this Amendment are contending for is that the Sankey wage established under this Bill should be given to them without any consideration of first paying for the cost of control, but that the money given to the owners should not be paid until a deduction has been made for the cost of control; that is to say, they ask, "Give us our wages without considering the cost of control at all, but before you give what it is settled shall be given to the owners, deduct those expenses from the total amount out of which you calculate the owners' profits." That seemed to me to be unfair, and I also found that in the case of all the other controls the arrangement which the Treasury made was similar to the one which now stands in the Bill. The whole question to-night is whether the cost of control and the expenses in connection with 2JJ. should be taken out of the pool after the owners' profits have been calculated, or before. The actual financial effect is this. I think everyone, including hon. Members opposite, will admit that it is tolerably sure that there will be a sufficient amount in the pool to pay to the owners in full the pre-war standard as arranged under the Bill. Therefore, the only effect of this is that the owners will get one-tenth of the £1,250,000, if it amounts to that—probably it will be more like £1,000,000—and on that they will have to pay excess profits duty for this year. The total amount, without deducting excess profits duty, which they can get by this arrangement, is £125,000. That is a very small sum to make a great fuss about when we are talking about many millions. It is still smaller as compared with the amount of the wages. When the wages bill comes to £225,000,000, £100,000 one way or the other is not very important. But whether it is important or not, it seems to me, and I still think it was fair, that it should be 2563 arranged in this way, and that it should follow the precedent which governs the other controls, and should come out of the profits, after both the owners' share and the miners' share had been paid.
§ Sir C. CORY
After what the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has said, it would be a scandal to debit the expenses of a Government Department to private profits. The hon. Gentlemen opposite are very fond of describing the coalowner as a very large, wealthy man, but there are very few of that description in the coal trade. The coal trade, as we know now, is in the hands of limited liability companies, and there are no less than 150,000 or 160,000 shareholders of these companies in this country, some of them whose whole means of subsistence is derived from those shares, and who are very much worse off to-day than the miners are. These people are entitled to a great deal more sympathy than are the miners, who are making very high wages, whereas the shareholders have very often got very small incomes and have to pay income tax. The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) is fond of describing the coal-owners' profits as much greater under this Bill than they were before the War. I should like to give the House some figures as regards coalowners' profits and miners' wages. In 1913 the wages per ton of coal raised were 6s. 4d. a ton; in 1919 the wages were 19s. 6d., that is to say, an increase of 205 per cent. In other words, they earned £91,000,000 in 1913 and £225,000,000 in 1919, an increase of £134,000,000 for the miners. In face of these figures can anyone pretend that they have not done very well?
§ Sir C. CORY
The number of men employed is very much the same now as before the War, or very slightly more. As to the rate of production, it is less, because it is in the hands of the miners themselves. They have pressed for a seven hour day instead of an eight hour day, and although there are more men in the mines to-day, they are working less per man than before the War, so that if 2564 the production is less it is their own fault. If the miners would earn more it would be better for the coalowners. Let us see what the profits of the coalowners were in 1913. In 1913 their profits were £18,460,000, after deducting income tax and excluding by-products. In 1919, on the 1913 capital, they were £22,000,000, and if we add £600,000, the ten per cent. under this Bill, that makes £22,600,000 they would get under this Bill. Take off the Excess Profits duty of £240,000 and you get £22,360,000. But if you deduct the income tax from that, as I have done in the 1913 figure, the amount-of net profit is £15,630,000, which is a decrease of £2,834,000 in 1919 compared with 1913. Instead of an increased profit they are getting less than they did in 1913. These poor shareholders, many of whom are small people, pay income tax according to their grade. [An HON. MEMBER: "The miners do not get clear."] They do not pay what they ought to. The shareholders will get a decreased income, while the increased cost of living is applicable to them in the same way as to the coalminers. They get a decrease of £2,800,000, compared with the £134,000,000 more which the coalminers have got. Yet these gentlemen have the audacity to come to this House and talk about this paltry sum which they say should be charged against the coalowners. The miners will get neither more nor less whichever way it goes. But they desire that no benefit should be allowed to the coalowners by getting this just addition to make up their normal profits. I hope the hon. Gentleman will stick to the claims of the Bill.
§ Mr. BRACE
I am sure that the statements of the hon. Baronet who has just addressed the House will only make us press more heavily than ever in support of the Amendment. During his speech I was wondering whether the reports I have been reading of late were really correct. Judging by the statements of the coalowners they are really in a bad way, and they ought to have some kind of charge upon the National Exchequer to help them. It was only a day or two ago that I read a report of one of the companies in Wales, where they intended to give the shareholders an enormous advantage in the shape of a bonus. It is no use disguising the fact that there is a strong feeling amongst the working men in the mines because 2565 the coalowners are getting much more than they ought to.
§ Mr. BRACE
The best we can do is to judge by what we see in the daily papers—the reports of the annual meetings of the colliery companies. I have never heard of a coalowner who was prepared to admit that he ever made any money at all. They invariably "live on their losses." When they had passed away, it was found that they left very substantial fortunes behind. That is not quite my point, which was to give the Government an opportunity of carrying out their first intentions believing that they were the best. If the Government thought that the proposal which they accepted in Grand Committee was a proper proposal then they should here incorporate that proposal in the Bill. All that the Labour Party is doing is to help the Government to carry out what they were convinced, after a careful survey of the problem, was simple justice, not only to the coal owners but to the miners and to the nation.
§ Mr. HOLMES
What everyone wants at the present time in the coal industry is peace: that is all the coal owners want, and that is all the miners want. Any-thing that adds a word in the way of irritation is to be deplored. The proposal before us is going back to the original proposal of the Government. This showed that the cost of the Coal Controller should be deducted from the profits before the coal owner got the one-tenth extra. On the Amendment my hon. Friend opposite got the Government to give way, and agree that this deduction should not be made. What does it come to? The Parliamentary Secretary told us that it amounts to one-tenth of, possibly, a million pounds, or £100,000. Out of this the coal owners have to pay back to the Treasury £40,000, which leaves £60,000. Deduct income tax at 6s. in the £, and in some cases, at least, super-tax, and after excess-duty, income and super-tax has been paid you will find that the amount is £30,000. Under the Bill the coal owners are going to get each year £22,000,000 as the standard; £4,000,000 of increased interest on an increased capital of £26,000,000; and 1–10th of anything beyond. They are thus going to get something between £26,000,000 and £30,000,000. And the 2566 hon. Gentleman puts forward this Amendment which the Government accepts simply for the sake of getting another £30,000 which is 1–10th of one per cent! Surely it is absolutely absurd for the Government to bring in a Bill like this, and that they should cause all this anger on the one side for a paltry £30,000, for which I do not believe ninety-nine out of every hundred coalowners care two-pence! We want peace. All these pin-pricks, stupid suggestions and ridiculous acceptance of Amendments by the Government are not helping us to get the peace which is so necessary, not only for the coal industry but for the whole industry of the country.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am very reluctant to intervene in this discussion at all. But having no familiarity with the proceedings in Committee on this Bill, I think I can claim to bring an entirely fresh mind to this problem, and, I hope, an impartial mind. So far as the question before the House goes, I think it can be viewed with entire coolness of mind, and not at all from the point of view the last speaker took. It really is not a question at all of peace in the coal industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, yes."] I think I know my friends in that industry very well, and I am perfectly sure that they are not going to make a cause of quarrel or of peace out of this paltry little point. It does not involve a very large sum of money, and considering the matter from that point of view it might just as well be suggested that the Government are foolish in not giving way, as that, on the other hand, ray hon. Friends on the Benches opposite are foolish in pressing the point. Therefore, I think we can leave these considerations on one side or the other entirely out of account. The whole question is—sup-posing we were approaching this matter for the first time, what would we do and say about it? How would one make the deduction for the cost of running the concern? I do not believe there are two opinions about it, looking at it apart altogether from the coal question. Take any industry you like. Suppose the Government considers that the needs of the State require that a Department should be set up to deal with a particular industry. I am perfectly certain that those who represent the wage-earners of the country would protest—and rightly so—if the Government insisted that the cost of the 2567 control should be paid out of the wages of the workers in that particular industry, and I agree that they would be justified in their protest. Does it not follow equally that one would say that the Government would be wrong if it proposed to take from the pockets of those who had previously run the industry the cost of this new departure which the State has thought it necessary to embark upon.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Yes, it is the point, I agree, but I was asking my hon. Friends to approach this question without any regard to any previous proposal, and to suppose that to-day we were setting up a Government Department to deal with any industry in the country for the first time. I want, then, to leave out of account what may have been done in a previous Bill. I am perfectly certain that every right-minded man would say that while the Government must stand the cost of the Department which it chooses to set up it must not interfere either with the wages of the wage-earners or with the profits of the persons who have been previously conducting the industry. I am certain I shall get the assent of my hon. Friends to that proposition. The only point they make is, therefore, that the Government in the original draft of the Bill proposed something different. And if that is the only point then it is merely a point of prejudice, and it does not affect the merits of the case. Coming, then, to the question with an entirely fresh mind, I think that the original draft which my hon. Friend advocates was based on an entirely erroneous principle. It would not be regarded as fair to anybody if considered in the light of a first view of the situation. If that be so, why should it be suggested that because the Government originally proposed something different they should now be committed to it any more than that if they had proposed the cost should come out of the wages of the wage-earners they should be committed to that course. I ask the House to look at this from an impartial point of view and to pass the Clause in the form in which the Committee has left it.
§ Mr. LAWSON
The right hon. Gentle-man who hag just spoken has pointed out 2568 that the original wording of the Bill was founded upon an erroneous principle. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade repeated here what he said to the Committee upstairs—that he did not think it right that the cost of coal control any more than any other control should be cast on the owners of the industry controlled. But when the hon. Baronet raised this question in Committee he did not raise it as a matter of principle at all. He raised it because he thought the owners ought to be relieved of as much of the financial burden as possible; indeed he went so far, in moving his Amendment upstairs, as to say he wanted to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that this was not Treasury money which was being dealt with but what were involved were the profits of the coal trade, and they wanted to know why any deduction should be made from those profits. He went on to tell us that neither the war wage nor many other things ought to fall on the owners, and it was only after the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade had discovered that in no other industry was the cost of the control borne by the owner that he decided that in this instance it should not come out of the owner's pockets. May I point out on the general principle that if that has been followed in other cases it is not necessary it should therefore be followed in the case of the coal industry. Anyone who knows anything about coal control knows it is an absolutely necessary part of the mining organisation at the present time, and has been over since its establishment, and is as much a Department of the mines industry at the present time as the official staff at the colliery office. If it had not been for the coal control, Sir Auckland Geddes has told us, there would have been chaos in the country. We know it. We know we should have had in the colliery districts in the export trade demands for large increases of wages, while in the case of the inland trade districts owners would have been claiming to reduce wages, and chaos and strikes would have prevailed throughout the whole industry. I venture to say that the coal control has rendered a great service not merely to the industry itself but to the whole country. I just want to say this in conclusion. It is amazing that the coal owners should raise this question on the ground of the burden on the industry 2569 and on the profits and on the general plea of relief to shareholders who do not pay the super Income Tax. Every morning and almost every evening as well one reads advertisements in the newspapers—some of them occupying whole pages—telling us about nationalisation and all the rest of it. Leaflets, pamphlets and books are being sent into people's houses. We know that there are paid organisers. If they can stand the burden of financing the people who are turning out these books and pamphlets, and of paying these organisers, it is not a very great matter to ask them to bear the cost of the control which has led to general peace in the industry, which would not have been secured otherwise. We who are connected with the industry, and who are involved in it in as many ways as the owners, say that it is a just principle that the industry ought to bear the weight of its own control, and incidentally the, owners profits. It does not seem to me that the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman in relation to wages had any real bearing upon the subject any more than the hon. Baronets comparison of the dividends of the poor shareholder and the increased wages of the miner. Even would the increase of 100 or 150 per cent.—
§ Mr. LAWSON
Take it at 205 per cent. if you like. I daresay there are many miners in the 205 per cent. who would be willing to put their wages and the 205 per cent. increase together and swap wages with the hon. Baronet.
Mr. T. WILSON
Had it not been for a statement by the hon. Baronet (Sir. C. Cory) I would not have intervened. He forgets that if there was no mineral under the land there would be no miners and no mine owners; but as there are minerals miners are necessary. He seems to seek to treat the miner as a soulless inanimate thing. The mine owners, the 160,000 shareholders must have their dividends whether miners get a wage or not.
You did not say it, but the suggestion was there. You cannot get away from it. The poor shareholders must have their dividend whether miners who earn the dividends are paid a wage or not.
§ Sir C. CORY
I never made any such suggestion. I simply compared the position of the poor shareholder with that of the miner. I did not say that the miner should not get his wages. I said that, while miners were getting 205 per cent. increase in wages, the shareholder was only getting the pre-war dividend.
The shareholder may have £500 or £5,000 a year, but if the miners are getting £300 a year in wages that is wrong. The Minister of Labour said this is a trivial matter, and that it does not matter on which side the £30,000 drops. Yesterday the matter that was very trivial from your point of view—the question of the dismissal of a foreman—caused a strike in the House of Commons. The people concerned did not consider it a trivial matter. They said that an injustice had been done and that the man who was the cause of the injustice must go and he had to go. If it is a question of £30,000 or whatever it may be, does the right hon. Gentleman think that the miners will sit down quietly and accept a clause of this sort? Why not face the situation and accept the amendment so that the people who suffer least should bear the burden. I am afraid that both the companies and the miners consider that this is a miners' question. It is not. It is a consumers' question, and an injustice will be done to the consumers if the Government do not accept the Amendment. I am satisfied that the Amendment is just. Personally, I do not want to sec the shareholders in colliery companies applying for outdoor relief. I do not think that many of them will whether the Amendment is accepted or not.
The hon. Baronet ignores the 999 that are paying big dividends and puts forward the one that must suffer—and it is very doubtful whether it will suffer or not. Therefore this House ought not to be camouflaged in the manner that is attempted into the belief that the whole industry of the country and the welfare of the shareholders and everybody else are going to suffer if the Government accept the Amendment. I would suggest that if the Government accept the Amendment they will probably get the Bill without very much further opposition. Moreover, if they accept the 2571 Amendment they can rest satisfied that the working of this Bill will be a great deal smoother. I am only taking human nature as it is, and what happened yesterday may—I hope it will not—happen in connection with the operation of this Bill if you do not accept the Amendment, and if the Government believe that the Bill was a better Bill without the provision in it I would appeal to the Government even at the eleventh hour to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. SPENCER
The object of this Amendment is to take certain sums out of the pool before the owners themselves have the percentage which is allowed by this Bill. If that sum was the only sum in dispute, the probabilities are that there would not be any very serious contention so far as these benches are concerned; but I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we have to consider the controversial result in relationship to the general application of the provisions of Mr. Justice Sankey's Commission. In interviewing very responsible representatives of the Government we have been told that, so far as the provisions of the Sankey Report are concerned, the Government seek to give, in the letter and the spirit, effect to those recommendations. I am not now dealing with the question of nationalisation. So far as the financial provisions of this Bill ate concerned, the Government are proposing provisions which go very far in excess of what was recommended by Mr. Justice Sankey's Commission. Mr. Justice Sankey recommended that the profits of all the colliery owners should be limited to 1s. 2d. per ton. We were told by responsible Ministers of the Crown that the Government were going to give effect to the recommendation, but the Government are not giving effect to the recommendation. They have departed from it and are now proposing to the colliery owners a sum far in excess of the amount that would have been reached by the simple process of 1s. 2d. per ton. Therefore, that strengthens our opposition to this provision to give a further £125,000 to the colliery owners in addition to the substantial sum already provided for in the Bill. May I turn for one moment to the remarks made by the hon. Baronet (Sir C. Cory) in relation to the miners' wages? I fail to understand where he got his information.
§ Mr. SPENCER
A very distinguished colleague of his of the South Wales Miners' Federation, speaking not on behalf of the South Wales Miners' Federation, but on behalf of the whole mining industry of Great Britain, gave figures before the Commission, and the figures he himself gave on behalf of the owners, do not agree with the statement which has been made in this House to-night by the hon. Baronet.
May I give what the percentages are that miners have actually received since 1913? In 1913 the wage of the miner was 6s. 5.64d. per day. That was the average wage. In 1918 that rose to 12s. 6d., or 93.20 per cent. In 1920, when we received the 2s. Sankey wage, it rose to 122.70 per cent., and that was what the miners have obtained since 1913, and that was agreed to by the Government in 10, Downing Street. The Prime Minister himself has not objected to those figures, and the Coal Controller has not objected to those figures. As a matter of fact, our deputations have met deputations representing the Coal Controller's Office and have accepted those figures. There are representatives of the Government on the Front Bench to-night who have been at the same meeting as the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and they know that repeatedly our representatives have made representations to the Government for the purpose of arriving at a policy. All the statements made by the hon. Baronet are incorrect.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I only wish that the final verdict should rest upon the question of whether the hon. Baronet was right or whether I was right. It it did rest there I would be prepared to leave it, because we know that he did not get his £125,000. The hon. Baronet said that the profits in 1913 were over £18,000,000. Does that include the five or six millions for Royalty rents, and is the latter figure which he has given for 1920?
§ Mr. SPENCER
I think one includes royalty rents and the other does not. The 1913 figure includes royalty rents. That is why the pre-war standard is only £13,500,000, and now we have £26,000,000. As a matter of fact the two best years that the colliery-owners have had since the Franco-German war—they can take all the years intervening between them and 1912 and 1913 and they will not be able to find two years between them and that time which will equal those two years of profit. Those extraordinary years have been taken as the pre-war standard, and now the standard is to be increased from £13,500,000 to over £626,000,000. That is a very extraordinary figure, and the colliery-owners should be satisfied, and I believe that they are satisfied. The one strange thing to see tonight is this. Only one solitary voice has been raised on behalf of the colliery-owners in this House. I should think most of them are, ashamed to come here and use the time of the House to extract a sum which does not amount to £1 per head per shareholder in the whole of the undertakings. If that were granted it would have engaged the attention of the House.
In relation to the method of calculation the hon. Gentleman says that we have 22 millions. It is nearer 28 than 22 millions. But let us assume that the amount is 22 millions. He makes certain deductions. I wonder what would happen if I led a deputation next week and said to the owners, "Our workmen are only getting so much per day," and they brought their books and said, "It is 2s. more per day," and we said, "Ah, but we have deducted income-tax "? If the hon. Gentleman is correct in coming to this House and is going to say, "This is what we are entitled to and are going to get, after deducting excess profits and income-tax," we should be justified in going to the owners and saying, "The net returns are so much because we have deducted income-tax." For these reasons we are opposing these conditions to-night, and I think that the representatives of the Government should give heed to the plea put forward by the representatives on these benches, because we feel perfectly satisfied that, in the provisions of 2574 the Bill, the owners are not making a great deal out of it. It has been said by hon. Gentlemen here that this will not make for peace and harmony and accord in these undertakings. A good many of us on this side of the House have had a fair share of turmoil and unrest, and the provision of the the 26 millions is not going down well with the men outside. There will be increasing demands made by the workers when the knowledge that the profits of the colliery-owners will be so lavishly increased and that, on the top of the £26,000,000 or £28,000,000 you will have only this paltry sum. This shows that the owners have come here, not to get justice, but in the strength of Shylock; to get the last pound.
§ Sir EVAN JONES
I am going to appeal to the Government and to ask them to reconsider their decision on this matter. I am going to do it because all the difference between the arguments on both sides is so very slight. The right hon. Gentleman, the Minister for Labour, put the case for the Government, on the question of principle, and said that a mistake had been made. As a matter of abstract justice I think that is probably true, but I would ask the light hon. Gentleman to consider this. In effect, what will happen? The State will pay, even if they accept this amendment, 90 per cent. of the costs. He obtains the essence of the principle which he is endeavouring to establish. I think there is such a very little difference, that he might well give way on that difference. I would like to say one other word. It was an unfortunate analogy on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to confuse wages and profits. Wages are included in the cost of production. Profits are entirely different; they are calculated after the cost of production is met. Wages are part of the cost of production. I think that analogy was unfortunate. Equally unfortunate—possibly more so—was the attempted analogy of the right hon. Baronet below me (Sir C. Cory) in some of the figures which he tried to bring before the House, or rather the inferences he went on to draw from some of the figures he put before the House.
There has been a great deal of confusion on the question of figures in connection with this matter. There is one clear ascertained fact which emerges from all 2575 these calculations. The profits of the coal-mining industry for the average of the five pre-war years, after making all the necessary adjustments on account of the various matters that have been mentioned, were undoubtedly £11,500,000 a year.
§ Sir E. JONES
Yes. If what was known as the one and twopenny Bill had passed the profits which the owners would have obtained would have been £19,000,000, including the £4,000,000 allowed for interest on additional capital during the war. Under this Bill the owners will get £26,000,000. Of that there is no doubt. The question of income tax which the hon. Baronet brought forward has no more to do with the question than that of wages. Income tax is only paid on ascertained profits. It is not only coal owners who pay income tax. Other people do so. After all, when this comes to be applied to the pool the Government pay 90 per cent. of the cost of control and the pool pays 10 per cent. I object to calling these owners' profits. They are pool profits, out of which the owners take their whack and the Government take their whack, and in respect of their particular whacks one pays 90 per cent. and the other pays 10 per cent. The difference is so small that I think the Government might very well give way on this matter.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
The point under discussion appears to be miners' wages, but I do not think that miners' wages have anything to do with the matter which, as I understand it, is that certain arrangements are to be entered into with the coal owners for the purpose of meeting other arrangements for the financial working of the coal industry. A Bill was passed through this House in which there were certain financial provisions which compared with previous provisions of £9,000,000, £13,000,000 and £26,000,000. I do not think that even that has got any thing to do with the matter.
I am not a business man, but common horse sense would dictate to me that when these financial arrangements were discussed under this Bill the cost of coal control would be taken into consideration and the coal owners would get value for the cost of coal control. What we are 2576 objecting to is that while they have been well provided for in the way of profits, they should now ask that an alteration should be made to get rid of something for which they were previously given credit. The amount may be very small, but already there have been two deals in the coal trade between the Government and the coal owners. In one of these deals it was a question of £25,000,000. The coal owners got £5,000,000 of that, and I wonder what the Government would have had to say if we had asked for £5,000,000 to build miners' houses. We have now a matter of £750,000 in hand to pay the coal owners. This is really £750,000 of the taxpayers' money. I am prepared to admit that it is a very small sum to quarrel about, but after the statement made by the hon. Baronet I sincerely hope that the miners' members will fight it to the last ditch. The hon. Baronet says that it matters nothing to the miners why not let the coal owners get it? So far as the miners' representatives are concerned, if the coal owners are not entitled to it, I sincerely hope no group of Labour men in this house will ever be prepared to make a bargain with capitalists for even £10 of the taxpayers' money. Speaking about miners' wages, we will discuss wages and costs in another place, but the coal owners having got out of the coal trade £9,000,000, £13,000,000, and then £26,000,000, they now insult us by imagining that we should be so dishonest to the miners or to the general public over a matter of £750,000 as to let the coal owners get it. To that we shall never agree.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This is not a question between the mine owners and the miners. It is a question between the mine owners and the public, and I think the public point of view ought to be amplified. We object to this Bill entirely, because although based upon five pre-war years the mine owners of the country ought to have got £11,500,000, under the Bill of last year that £11,500,000 was raised to £15,000,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "£19,000,000."] That is with the £4,000,000 interest on additional capital. The coal owners now press us to raise the amount from £15,000,000 to £22,000,000, again excluding the interest on new capital and excluding the enormous profits from coke and by-pro-duets. That is an alarming scale of 2577 increase due solely to the pressure brought by the mining interest upon the Government. Why we protest against this specific surrender of the Government is that it is merely symptomatic of what they have done when pressure has been brought to bear upon them by the mining interests.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite says he approaches the question with an impartial mind. AH I can say is he ought not to have an impartial mind. It is his business to look after the interests of the taxpayer and the interests of the consumer. To say that he approaches the question of whether more money should be filched from the taxpayers of this country with an impartial mind is I think, not the right way of dealing with a question of this magnitude. The demands of the mining industry are going up and up. I have not been so unfortunate as my right hon. Friend opposite in my acquaintance with colliery companies. Generally speaking they pay a very substantial rate of interest, but it is not the rate of interest which interests me half so much as the way in which they issue shares, increasing their capital about 200 or 300 per cent. below the marked price. One need not take these shares up. It is an extremely profitable proposition. That is the way in which these things are concealed. You need not pay dividends nowadays, you do it so much more simply by issuing shares and letting the shareholders have them at a substantial discount. After all, so far as the shareholder is concerned, he is probably more satisfied than otherwise because he escapes the 6s. Income Tax and other charges. He merely finds his capital increased without having the State interfering too closely with the way in which his income has increased. Now we have to find this additional £4,000,000 interest. It is not an increase of real capital, but either in water of that sort or in the purchase of unworked minerals, which are not being worked at the present time, but which are being bought at a very high price, and naturally consume a large amount of additional capital which is not bringing in interest, but the interest is charged against the consumer, and is included in this £4,000,000.
We object to the rise from £11,500,000 to £15,000,000, and we object still more to the rise from £15,000,000 to £22,000,000, 2578 and the only way in which we can register our protest is against this further rise of another £126,000 a year. Let it not be said that £125,000 is all that we are saddling upon the British taxpayer in this matter. We all know that it is a question now whether we shall not, sooner or later, nationalise the mining industry and pay compensation. If it is a question of compensation, obviously the amount of the total profits of the industry will be one of the things considered. If we give them this increase of an additional £125,000 a year, we have to buy them out at 20 or 25 years' purchase—if I know the industry they will screw it up to 30 years' purchase if they can. This £125,000 will be multiplied thirty times, and £125,000 will bring out a nice little additional £4,005,000 for the shareholders of these companies. That is what we have to look at. It is all very well to say that it is only £125,000, and to whittle it away by talking of super-tax and excess profits and Income Tax, but we have to consider that the reason why these mine owners forced the Government to oppose that amendment in Committee was not on account of the small additional profits they would get, but because thereby they were laying the foundations for bigger claims when this industry comes to be nationalised.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I would not have risen at this very early hour had it not been for the remarks of the right hon. Baronet. He said there were coal owners who were working their concerns at a loss to themeslves. It has been my good fortune, or my misfortune, to have met these people, and to have discussed matters of wages with them. I remember during the War meeting the coal owners in the county to which I have the distinguished honour to belong, in the endeavour to fix up a conciliation board, with a view to preventing strikes. I hate and detest strikes, and I believe this resolution now before the House will go far to help us to solve difficulties and settle matters in the coal trade. I remember meeting these people and trying to fix it so that our wages might be regulated on a profits basis. We suggested to the owners of the county that the average profits of the whole of the concern should be the basis on which bur wages should be allocated. But the owners pointed out that before 2579 we, as miners, could take any wages at all, the very worst concern in the county had to be made to pay. So much for the losses that the owners are going to sustain in carrying on any concern. So that, out of their own mouths, they stand convicted so far as that, matter is concerned. We miners sometimes: read the reports of your companies, and watch with interest what they do. At least one big concern in the county to which I belong declared a dividend of 35 per cent. for the year 1913. In addition, they gave to every £l shareholder another £2. That is how the coal owners work out their own salvation, leaving the miners to fight their battles as best they can. May I appeal to the Government to go back to the Bill as it was introduced. As I said, I hate and detest strikes in any shape or form. They are the last thing that ought to occur if we can avoid them, and I plead with the Government to help us to keep the industry in as peaceable a mood as possible. After all, let hon. Gentlemen opposite remember this, that had the wages of the miners in the County of Durham been regulated on the old scale prior to the War, they would have been from 6s. to 8s. higher than they are to-day, so that we have made sacrifices for the sake of the consumer. Surely the owners can make a sacrifice in the interests of the consumer. It is not a question between the mineowners and the miners; it is a public question, and my final word is to ask the Government to accept the Amendment as a means to peace and in fairness to the people who consume the coal that is hewed,
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I enter into this Debate, not exactly with an impartial mind, but as a very interested enquirer, and as one who is interested in this matter and who has listened to the Debates very attentively. I am not a miner, and I am not a mine owner. Neither have I any shares in mines. I happen to represent a constituency that, with the exception of two ironstone mines, has no mines in it at all. I think, at any rate, that I can express an opinion, so far as my constituency is concerned, from the consumers' standpoint. I was sorry to hear my right hon. Friend, the Minister for Labour, say that he approached 2580 this with a fair and impartial mind. As soon as I heard the statement I began to wonder whether there was a form of political disease among the Cabinet. I am reminded when I approach this question of a statement made in this House many years ago. It was made by that venerable old statesman whose name is revered, I believe, in almost every home in this country, I refer to the Grand Old Man, Mr. Gladstone. In 1854 Mr. Gladstone said—[Interruption.] It does not matter at any rate to me whether at that time Mr. Gladstone was a Conservative, Liberal or a Labour man. The illustration which I am going to give is a very important one. He said at that time that war was an opportunity which was afforded to heroes to secure immortal renown, and which also gave an opportunity to contractors for erecting colossal fortunes. So far as the past five years is concerned, there is a class that has been erecting colossal fortunes at the expense of the country, which has been bled very white, and I think the mineowners form a great deal of that category. We are told that the profits that have accumulated have been of such an immensity that with five years' profits they could have purchased the mines out at their proper capital value. I suggest to the House that this question, from the consumer's standpoint is a very serious one, for the consumers will have inevitably to pay this amount of money. If they are called upon to pay small amounts of this kind, which in the aggregate are great, there will be some righteous indignation from the consuming class of the country. Therefore, as far as the consumers are concerned, we protest emphatically against this. The profits of the mining industry being so great, they will be able to bear a burden of this character. I am afraid the hon. Baronet has not made his case any better by his statement. He has rather irritated the situation and has enabled those opposed to his point of view to put more steam and enthusiasm into their case. He told us the shareholders' difficulty. We know shareholders do get in difficulties sometimes, but as far as the mining shareholders are concerned I do not think the position is quite as bad as he makes out. If they were getting very near to the workhouse then we could consider the advisability of inaugurating a flag day to give them five per cent. When we 2581 look around and see the enormous profits that have been made in the industry, we, from the consumers' point of view, say that the mineowning classes ought to be able to bear this burden, and I appeal to the Government to refuse this demand by these people who are well able to bear it. If we believe the old doctrine of the survival of the fittest to mean those people who are the fittest to bear the heat and burden of the day, then I submit that the consumers are overtaxed at the present day and this burden ought not to fall on the consumers who are the class who cannot bear this tax.
§ Mr. ALLEN PARKINSON
I am rather sorry that the Government have not withdrawn from this position. I am quite sure that the hon. Baronet in stating his case has really admitted his own position. It is quite evident that the more the coalowners get the more they will demand. The right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Trade (Sir Auckland Geddes) stated during the last debate in the House on the "One and Twopenny Bill" that if they had carried out the Sankey Report the 1s. 2d. would make £12,800,000 a year. We are going far in advance of that, for now we have practically £26,000,000. In view of the very small amount which now stands before the House I wish the Government would at least replace the word which appeared in the Bill as originally introduced. I do not say it is very much to quibble about. Personally, I feel that the difference is so small that there need be no quarrel whatever, but I feel that the coalowners, receiving the great amount they are receiving, could very well give way on this point. They are much better able to pay than the consumers, who being the poorer, will feel it much harder. The hon. Baronet said the increase in wages was 205 per cent. I do not see where he gets his figures, unless he is taking the aggregate amount of money which was paid in wages and calculated on the same number of emloyees as in 1913. But to-day there is a larger number of employees in the coalmines and the increase is very much less than he has stated and I am surprised at his maintaining his position and say-ing they are official figures. We know from the statements made to us and the Government know from the figures 2582 they have worked out that the hon. Baronet's figures are not accurate. There is one other point I should like to mention. I do not see why there should be this close connection between the coalowners and the Government on such a small matter. It is one of those things in which the Government might well take their courage in their hands and say they are prepared to give the benefit there may be in the matter to the consumers of the coal because it does not affect the miners' wages and will only slightly affect the coalowners' profit. We ought to have a clear demarcation of the coalowners' profits and decide whether we will allow them continually to range upwards. The more they get, the more they will demand. That is quite evident tonight. Still they are not satisfied with this and they are grasping and appealing for the remaining £125,000 which, according to figures given by one of my hon. Friends, amounts to about one-tenth of one per cent. Surely we are not going to continue this debate in order to give the coalowners something that means nothing to them, but may mean something to the consumer.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
As one who has had a little experience in coal-mining for 40 years I listened with interest to the hon. Baronet. Speaking for the county of Northumberland, I could not understand where he got his 205 per cent. In our county the wages were 7s. 9d. before the War broke out. Including the war wage—Sankey wage—they are about 16s. 5d. now, an increase of about 120 per cent. I do not think it is fair to our men to come here and make such a statement. I happen to hold in my hand a long tabulation of figures from coal companies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] I want to be quite fair to them. The company I have before me got 40 per cent. in 1917. I will go back to 1914. They had 60 per cent. in 1914. In 1915 they had 23½ per cent.; in 1916, 50 per cent., in 1917, 40 per cent. If there is no shortness of cash in the coal trade, surely the miner pays the price. What about the many explosions that have taken place, with their great loss of life. In 1908, in the Maypole explosion, 75 lives were lost; in 1909, in the Stanley explosion, 165 lives were lost; in 1910, in the Whitehaven explosion, 136 lives were lost; in 1910, in the Hulton explosion, 344 lives were lost; in 1913, in 2583 the Senghenydd explosion, 440 lives were lost. What about the widows and children that are left? If there is any money to spare it ought to go to the institutions for the maintenance of the wives and children. I do not see that there is any need for this money going to the coal owners at all. I see in the daily Press of the country the amount of money that these people leave. I know the history of many of them; sometimes they leave as much as a couple of hundred thousand pounds. What the hon. Baronet says is not correct. I do not know where he gets his figures, and I will put this question to him: Are there any coal miners in this country who are getting anything like 205 per cent.? It is not correct. He made a statement about having to pay Income Tax. Surely the money that the miner gets is subject to these deductions as well? Our workmen in the county of Northumberland subscribed £47,000 to the Newcastle Infirmary, and support the Orthopædic Institution for the men who have been fighting for their country and have come back. The miners have a large heart. I happen to be the President of an institution where we have 200 cottages for the aged people of 60 years and over. It is most ungrateful on the part of the coal owners, and I am glad that the Northumberland coal owners are not here. I think they are bigger than that, and I hope they are not represented by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir C. Cory). I hope the Government will take into consideration the appeal that was made by the right hon. Gentleman below the gangway (Sir Evan Jones) to withdraw their objection to the Amendment. The coal owners do not need this support, and I hope there is a not a Member of the this House who will go to a division but that will support the Labour men. Our men would be very much annoyed at this. I do not like a strike; I hate a strike. I have appealed a great many times to the men not to strike. I wish everyone would follow the example of the miners with regard to work.
§ Mr. LUNN
This is not a question for the minors. I am not in this House simply to represent the miners. I think that would be a fallacy. Members who are elected to this House should try to serve the community's best interests. When an hon. Member seeks to further what is simply a class interest or an industry's 2584 interest, he is making a mistake. I suppose it has been taken that, because some of us support nationalisation of the mines therefore we are simply interested in the miners. That is not the case. We earnestly believe that it is in the best interests of the community. But here we have a question that does not affect the miner and should not affect the coal-owner, as a coal-owner. It affects the community as a whole, and we, as members of this House, should be looking after the interests of the taxpayer. That should be our duty. That has been shown in what was perhaps the best speech made in the Debate, by the ex-Coal Controller. His speech was a clear argument that the Government should accept the Amendment. As to the profits that have been made by coal-owners, we are not objecting to them, or to the profits that were guaranteed by the Sankey Commission. We are not objecting to the profits that the Government guarantee in their Bill. What we object to is that this is another pledge that has gone on the part of the Government. Last night I was in a meeting at a by-election, and I heard what was quite a new expression to me, that the House of Commons was the greatest pawnshop in the country; that there were more unredeemed pledges there than in any other place. This morning we have seen another pledge unredeemed by the Government. My appeal to them is not in the interests of the miners. I do not want to state the case of the miners, nor do I think it should be the place of the Government to defend either the minors or the coal-owners. In this matter they should have regard to the general interests of the taxpayers, who will have to bear this burden if they do not accept the Amendment that has been moved. They should accept the Amendment in the interests of the mass of the people.
§ Mr. SWAN
I, like many other of my colleagues, deplore that such an important measure as this should have to be discussed at this time of the morning. It is of such vital importance to the community that it ought to be discussed with clear minds. However, be that as it may, we recognise the importance of the case that we are putting up for the well-being of the community. We are absolutely astounded that the case should be presented from the Treasury Bench entirely on behalf of the coalowners of Britain 2585 instead of the matter being viewed from the aspect of the nation. Instead of adopting a policy which would lead to the peace and tranquillity of the community, we find that the very people who complained about subsidies being given to industries are now seeking to obtain one for themselves. We believe that the coal-owners are adequately compensated and are able to pay for the cost of control. We ask them to effect economy in order that the price of coal should go down, to stimulate collateral industries, and improve the exchange which is militating so much against the interests of this country at the present time. In regard to control, I want nothing to be done to damage its efficiency. I think this will damage the efficiency of coal control, the distribution of trade and the development of mines. In 1917 I and the people in the whole of my area were affected because of the lack of equitable distribution of coal trade. Before coal control came into existence we found that in one village one colliery was working only two or three days a week, while in other cases men were working six days a week. Control altered that and all mines worked regular.
§ Mr. SWAN
My object was to show that the coalowners by equal distribution are so assisted that they are able to pay for coal control instead of passing it on to the consumer. The hon. Baronet the Member for St. Ives (Sir C. Cory) states that in 1913 the wages per ton of coal raised were 6s. 4d., and in 1919 19a. 6d., that is an advance of 205 per cent. Be that as it may, is he aware that in some parts of the County of Durham in my own Division the basis rate is only 6½d. per ton, and all told, with 107½ per cent. and war wage and Sankey wage added, makes it less than 2s. per ton. Coalowners say that they could not be economically sound and pay their way and at the same time sell coal for £1 a ton if it costs 21s. to produce. We say that if it costs 5s. a ton to produce, where does the other 15s. go? [An HON. MEMBER: "Cory gets it!"] Yes; We believe it goes into the pocket of the hon. Baronet and his friends, and, in a smaller proportion, into the pockets of the consumers. We think this Bill is entirely wrong; that it is violating 2586 the pledge of the Commission; that it does not add to peace nor to output; and that it does not attempt to reduce the high cost of living. Instead of that, it will add to the cost of living and diminish production.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
I am delighted to have the opportunity of joining in this interesting debate at this interesting hour. The Government asked for it; they are having it and we are enjoying it. This is a very important matter, and they will deserve all they will get. The most important speech made to-night was made by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Sir Evan Jones), the late Coal Controller, who at least knows what he is talking about and understands the question and the importance of this Bill. What the late Coal Controller said to the Government ought to have carried conviction and to have brought about the result that we anticipated would follow. If the Government have hardended their hearts after an appeal from a man who knows the question thoroughly we do not wonder at their resisting any appeal, but we must impress upon them the necessity of recognising the importance of the subject with which we are dealing. It has been said that there is not much in it. True, it does not appear that there is much in it. But there are two sides to that question. If there is not much in it, why do the Government persist in giving it? Why do not they surrender? We cannot solve the problem; we cannot read their mind. Their words have not carried conviction, at any rate.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think I have heard this speech before. There is a Standing Order against repetition.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
I only wish, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that that Standing Order was in force every day, and every hour and minute of the day.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
He is a most loyal one, I am sure. I will try to finish by getting hold of something that has not been said before. It is a most difficult task, but I 2587 am going to try it. It is this: It has been said that there was a distinct opposition to the previous Bill. That was opposed by the coal owners as well as by the men. I think you are paying us, on these benches, a great compliment, and that you have settled a problem that has been agitating the minds of the people for a long time. Did Labour help kill the last Bill, or did it not? There have been many heated discussions upon that point. We claimed that we had killed it, and we were denounced for taking credit to ourselves which we did not deserve. But this morning that question has been solved, because the representative of the Government distinctly and deliberately told us that we killed the Bill.
It was said that the employers were satisfied with the previous Bill. All I can say is that we on these benches received more telegrams from the coal owners asking us to oppose the first Bill than we have ever received on any question that has come before the House. That is something new and, better still, it is absolutely true. We received piles of telegrams, all from coal owners, some of them very closely associated with the hon. Baronet who started this discussion. They were all herded out to oppose this iniquitous proposal of the Government. During the progress of the present Bill not one of us has received a telegram from a coal owner asking to oppose it.
§ Mr. WIGNALL
That is quite new. Some of us have now had telegrams asking us to support the Government. What is the secret of it? They are getting more profit out of it. The Government has satisfied their demands. We are asking them to put the break on and to stop it and to make them give us a little concession and be satisfied with the benefits they have got.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has been in a humorous vein, but I want to be in a serious one on this matter. When the House was discussing the Coal Mines Bill on one occasion we were here at a very late hour, and I remember an hon. Member moving an Amendment that the firemen and, I believe, other men, should be granted a seven-hour day on the same basis as the other miners. The Government 2588 were shocked when this proposal was introduced in the House, and pointed out the amount of money that it would cost in order to give these men a seven-hour day. Now, at this time in the morning, we are listening to the Government [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] or the rich mine-owners appealing to the House for some-thing extra beyond the great amount of profits that they are already obtaining. It is only a very small amount, but we know that in the Articles of Association in connection with some of the mining industries of the country the money simply goes to the grandfather and the son and daughter in very small sums. It would mean a great amount of money in these very small sums. I hope that the Government, at this last moment, will listen to the very earnest appeals that have been made from this side of the House, because they can rely upon it that the minors throughout the country will be reading this debate, especially the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and the other speeches that have been delivered here to-day, from the serious and the humorous side. The House can depend upon it that the miners are going to put their backs against the wall when they know that there is always a great fight against them if they put forward a claim for an advance in wages. Yet this House is throwing thousands of pounds away to the very rich mine owners who did exceedingly well previously to the War, and have made enormous profits during the War. I guarantee that not only the mine owners, but practically all other employers in the country, since decontrol has taken place in various industries, have been making bigger profits than they made even previous to the War. Therefore I hope the Government will listen to the appeal that has been made from these benches, and avoid unrest so far as the mining industry is concerned, by accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. R. YOUNG
I rise perhaps with different feelings to some of those who have already spoken. I have heard it said that when the Government kept a House beyond the time that it wanted to stay, then the other people kept the Government. Perhaps that enters to some extent into the discussion to-night. I am here not because I like late hours or early hours. I have stayed to this late 2589 hour because to me the question under discussion is one of principle. It is not a question concerning the miners or a question concerning the profits of the coal-owners at bottom. It is a question of taking into consideration what the right hon. Gentleman opposite said—what was the cost of the industry before profits were at all determined. I have always understood that before profits can be paid in an honest business, not only the wages but all the costs to the maximum amount incurred in carrying on the business have to be charged against that business. Therefore I do not agree that this should he paid from any other source than out of the money that has been made in the coal mines. Recently, when discussing this question in the country, we were told by those who were opposed to the Labour benches, that if a certain policy was adopted there might be an arrangement between trade unions and the owners or between the Government and the owners to do something which might be against the consumers' interest, and I was astonished to hear tonight that because the miners were not interested in the matter they were not to bother. That was intended to give those outside the idea that we were likely, in other circumstances, to enter into arrangements with the opposite party to fleece the consumer. If it were possible for the British public to be here to-night, I wonder what they would think of us in this House. I do not think it adds dignity to the House of Commons. I am also perfectly certain that if they weighed the circumstances correctly they would blame the Government for what has taken place. The Government were evidently impressed in their own minds when they first made the suggestion in this matter as to what was the right course to pursue. It seems a
§ very foolish policy that they should have departed from that in the way they have done. The amount may be small or the amount may be great, but the general public, when taking into consideration the huge profits that have been made and are being made in the coal mining industry, and realising they are asking for £125,000, will come to the conclusion that the coalowners are being allowed to profiteer at the express sanction of the Government without any possibility of getting at the coalowner as the Government have attempted to get at small traders throughout the country. I am not concerned with the miners' issue nor yet with the owners' issue from that point of view, but I think all these charges in connection with the industry should be paid first and then what is left could go as profits to those entitled to got them. I trust that even at this hour the advice of the right hon. Gentleman opposite will be accepted, because it will create in the country—and the fact that we waited here so long will advertise it—the impression that we are not so much concerned with the general public, but with the Government and the owners who are entering into a compact to increase already swollen profits by another £125,000 a year. Things are mounting up. Every time they are mounting up it strengthens the vicious circle in which we arc, creating not only discontent amongst the workers, but greater discontent among the people directly suffering from all these increased costs. Therefore, the Government would be well advised in the interests of the country—not only those of the industry—to say that this should not be added to already swollen profits.
§ Question put, "That the word 'deduction' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 116; Noes, 38.2591
|Division No. 65.]||AYES.||[1.47 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe).|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Bridgeman, William Clive||Denison-Pender, John C.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bruton, Sir James||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Carr, W. Theodore||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Coats, Sir Stuart||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Bell, Lieut.-Co., W C. H. (Devizes)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Forrest, Walter|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Fexcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Courthope, Major George L.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Reid, D. D.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Lorden, John William||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Lort-Willlams, J.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Gould, James C.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Lynn, R. J.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Lyon, Laurance||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Stanler, Captain Sir Beville|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Matthews, David||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Hinds, John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hood, Joseph||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Morison, Thomas Brash||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Morrison, Hugh||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Murchison, C. K.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Neal, Arthur||Whitla, Sir William|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonol Sir Gilbert|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Parker, James||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Perring, William George|
|Johnson, L. S.||Prescott, Major W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Preston, W. R.||Captain Guest and Lord Edmund|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Talbot|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Lawson, John J.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Spencer, George A.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Lunn, William||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Bromfield, William||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cairns, John||Mallalieu, F. W.||Thorne, G. H. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Casey, T. W.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robertson, John||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hirst, G. H.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. Griffiths|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Sitch, Charles H.|
§ Mr. LAWSON
I beg to move, in subsection (1), par. (i), to leave out the words "total standards" and to insert instead thereof the words "average over the five pre-war years."
The object of this Amendment is to make the standard of profits the average over the five pre-war years, instead of the total standards as in this Bill. The total standards at present, we understand, mean something like £26,000,000. The average pre-war years profit amounted to £13,000,000, or, as the late Coal Controller said, £11,500,000 without the ancillary undertakings. We were told also by the right hon. Gentleman and we were told by the Coal Commission that the average profits for the twenty-five or thirty years before the war amounted to something like £9,000,000 per year. I remember during a good part of the time at any rate, that the coalowners were drawing an average of £9,000,000 a year. It did not seem to me that at the time they were doing badly at all upon what they were drawing. I can remember owners who owned small mines and who, out of the profits of the small mines, bought up other mines and out of the doubled profits of these they 2592 continued to add mine after mine, until they were very wealthy men indeed. And, indeed, they not only added mine after mine, but I could mention those who added mansion after mansion and field after field. Some of them even branched out into other counties and bought there land and minerals out of the profits they got out of the mines when they were on an average of £9,000,000 per year. If they could do that on nine millions a year they are not going to do so badly on the pre-war average for five years of 13 millions per year. I think that we ought to remember, in realising that the total standard in this Bill amounts to 26 millions, the value of the words that we heard from the right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne (Col. Wedgwood), "that you are fixing in this Bill the finance of the future of the mining industry." Whether you nationalise or whether you continue the system of control, under whatever system the mining industry is to continue in the future, in this Bill you are fixing the financial standard that is going to stand at least for many years to come. We say that there are other interests as well as the coalowners' 2593 interests. There are the consumers' interests. They have to contribute towards the coalowners, and consequently they pay a high price for their coal. There are also the workers' interests. Some of us are looking forward, some day, to seeing all those big black areas where the whole mass of the mining population have to live, go. The industry ought to bear the weight of the financial cost of re-building those areas. I know what Mr. Justice Sankey's proposals said.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I really must pull this discussion in a little bit. It has become very wide. We have had already a Second Heading debate on the first amendment. Now we must really keep to the point of this Amendment, as it arises, namely, the words "total standard" and "the average for the five pre-war years."
§ Mr. LAWSON
I wish just to make the point that the future of the coal industry depends on the amount which is going to be left in the pool.
If we let this £26,000,000 pass, then of course there is going to be less for reconstruction, building and rearranging the social life of the workers, as well as meeting the position of the consumer. One of the things laid down in this total standard is that the owners are assured of nine-tenths of their profits in certain circumstances; that is, that they are assured of a minimum profit. I can hardly understand owners supporting a minimum profit when they oppose a minimum wage. It seems to me that the position can be accepted sometimes when it suits the owners, but they are in a different position when it comes to dealing with the mass of the people. So we say that if the owners receive the £13,000,000 a year that was agreed upon as the average standard for the five prewar years, we think they will do very well indeed. They did not at all starve on £13,000,000.
§ Mr. A. PARKINSON
I beg to second the Amendment. I do so feeling that we are perfectly entitled to ask the Government to accept it and to give the coalowners their five years' pre-war average. I well remember that when the President of the Board of Trade was introducing the Bill which limited the 2594 profits of the coalmining industry he made some reference to a circular issued by the Mining Association of Great Britain, in which they said that their total average profits were about £25,000,000 a year. He stated that it was a sheer hallucination that they made anything of the kind, and he went on to say that the profits, instead of being £25,000,000, were £32,800,000. It is quite clear that the coal owners will claim as much as they are able to get. We contend that the £26,000,000 in the average is too much, and that in moving our Amendment, giving the five pre-war years' average, we are bringing the coal industry nearer to its actual valuation than it would otherwise be. We think that the £26,000,000 is excessive, that it is giving something to the coalowners to which they are not entitled. We feel that the money thus given in profits to the coalowners could be better spent by the Government in other directions. There are many amenities in the coalmining industry for which money is required. Housing has been mentioned, and there are many other cases where improvements could be effected. I have pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
This Amendment really goes contrary to what was one of the main provisions of the Bill which passed its Second Reading by a large majority of this House, and entirely upsets the arrangement made. The profit standard which has been fixed in the Bill is the same standard which has boon fixed for all other industries for the calculation of Excess Profits Duty, and the Bill arranges that the excessive profits made by mine owners in regard to exports are to be taken from them. The hon. Members who Moved and Seconded the Amendment, talked as if all the provisions of this Bill were to meet the claims by the owners. This Bill is to carry out two objects. One is to establish the Sankey wage for miners, and the other is to establish a system of profits calculated on the pre-war standard for the owners. From the speeches we have heard from the other side, one would think that the whole Bill was brought in merely in order to give profits to the owners without any consideration to the wages of the men. That is not so. Now we are asked to replace the standard in the Bill by the standard of the average 2595 of the five pre-war years. I did not hear anything about fixing the wages in the Bill on the average of the five prewar years.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
Does that arise? Wages are essential in order to get profits. Consequently they should not be taken into account.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
And capital also is essential as we have not got nationalisation. Hon. Gentlemen really know perfectly well that until we have nationalisation we have got to pay reasonable profits on capital. What they are asking now is that we should go back to the average of the five prewar years, which the hon. Gentleman, who spoke last, put at £13,000,000. I think £12,800,000 is the exact sum. That after deducting the Income Tax, amounted to £12,000,000. Under the present arrangement the owners would get £22,000,000 pre-war standard, and, if our estimate of the surplus to the end of this financial year is correct, about £1,000,000 more, say £23,000,000.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
No. The £23,000,000 is merely on coal. The £4,000,000 that has been referred to is the interest on capital used in new development. Of course, this is not compared with the five pre-war years, that is new since then.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Is there any guarantee as to what form that new capital will be put into the industry? Some of us have an idea that it is hardly reliable that new capital will be put in. It is really old capital under a new name.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
We have verified it, as far as we possibly can, that the new capital on which we are to pay interest is used in development and is new capital. If you take a comparison between wages before the war and wages now, and profits before the war and profits now, you will see that while wages before the war "were £91,000,000 for 1,100,000 people, they are now £225,000,000 for rather over 1,100,000 people. I estimate, therefore, that the wages bill has gone up to 247 compared with an index number of 100 pre-war.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I have just stated the way I arrived at it—£91,000,000 before the war and £225,000,000 now. Of course the figures are only an estimate.
§ Mr. SPENCER
There is a very material point. Has the hon. Gentleman taken into consideration the day's work then against the day's work now? Previous to the war the average week was 4.5 or 5.6, whereas now it is 5.1 or 5.2.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I do not want to make any unfair comparison. The number of workers before the war was 1,110,884; now it is l,163,000, as far as we can tell, or practically the same number.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Take oft 3 or 4 per cent. if you like, or put it the other way. I believe it is calculated that with the figures that have been put forward by the Miners' Association that the increase in wages during the war has been 122 per cent. Put it at that, if you like. That would make 220 against 100 as the index figure; whereas, in the profits that are paid to the owners the figure is 180 to 100. So that in any case, which over way you take it, the rise in wages to meet the cost of living—and I am not complaining of it—is very much higher than the comparative rise in the profits you are going to pay. You have got to remember that a sovereign to-day, whether it is in the hands of the wage-earner or the shareholder, only buys something like one-half of what it did before the war. Therefore, I say that the difference is not double, and is not equivalent to the fall in the value of money. To my mind, the standard fixed in the Bill is a fair one, and I think most hon. Gentlemen opposite will realise that it is fair, considering the great advance in the cost of everything to-day.
I am neither a miner nor a mine-owner, and I intervene just for a few moments on account of the argument 2597 that has been advanced by the Minister in charge. I should like to point out to him what is going to be the effect of that argument, as I understand it, he has advanced the argument that as wages have increased on account of the rise in the cost of living, therefore profits ought to rise in degree for the same reason, and that as a pound is worth less than it was, a larger rate of profits should be paid on the industry on that account. Possibly there is a good deal to be said for that, but I would point out the difficulties that arise from it. The Profiteering Committees in this country have already got a very difficult task, but when they read the argument of the hon. Gentleman, they will find their difficulties very much increased, because the Act passed by the Government lays down that in determining what is fair profit they have to take as their standard what was the reasonable rate earned in the trade before the war. That is entirely destroyed by the argument of the hon. Gentleman in support of the present Bill.
The hon. Gentleman shakos his head, but if he reflects he will sec that that is so, because the proposal in this Bill is to increase the payment to the owners from something like £11,500,000 to £22,000,000, and upon the same amount of capital, because the additional £4,000,000 will be paid on the increased capital. Therefore, the argument of the hon. Gentleman is that a rate of profit, double that paid before the war, is to be paid on account of the fall in the value of the sovereign. That may be a perfectly sound argument, but it is one that will certainly be put forward in every case now by persons brought before profiteering tribunals. It is not the principle embodied in the Profiteering Act. The Government are dealing with this particular industry, but it is not the only industry they have been dealing with. It seems to me essential that where they are dealing with difficult industries they should apply the same principles to them all. They should adopt a course which is consistent, and not allow to one industry terms which they do not give to another one. The closest analogy to the coal industry is the case of the railways. The railways have been taken possession of by the State as the collieries have been taken possession of by the Coal Controller. 2598 In the railways the Government have limited the net aggregate profit of the railways to their net aggregate profits for 1913, and it appears to me that every railway shareholder, on the argument advanced on this Bill by the Minister in charge, has a real grievance against the Government. If you are going to say to people whose money is invested in collieries that they are entitled to twice the rate of profit on account of the fall in the value of the sovereign, I do not see what possible ground you can have for refusing the same concession to the railway shareholders. This argument lays the Government open to a very serious charge, probably the most serious that any Government could be laid open to—that of showing a preference between one class of the community and another. That does not finish the story, because there is another very important—I do not know whether I may call it an industry—another very important form of investment in this country. That is, investment in house property. What has the action of the Government been in regard to that? They have under various Acts limited the owner of house property to the rate of dividend on his investment that he had before the War with some addition of 10 per cent. I do not know whether the 10 per cent. in this Bill is objected to, but, leaving that out of the case, the position here is that the Government have taken one particular industry after having dealt with three—railways, coalmines, and investments in house property—and are giving to one of these three industries terms twice as good as they have allowed to either of the other two. That requires very considerable justification. I do not know whether the Minister in charge can speak again on this matter, but the Minister of Labour, if there is a case to be put up for the Government, will be able to put it up, and I hope there will be some justification for this differential treatment. If it was fair and equitable to limit the railway companies and the owners of house property to their pre-war earnings, it is fair and equitable to do it to the collieries.
§ Mr. SWAN
We on these benches view with alarm the attitude of the Government towards this question. We believe that this concession is going to handicap the industries of this country in relation to all other industries of the world in the markets of the world by giving this 2599 extra guarantee to the coalowners. We should have some difficulty when we go to our various districts among the mining community to convince them that there is not a differential treatment being given in this House to vested interests compared with the wider interests of the nation. The Government have a duty to perform which goes wider than the interests of the coalowner. It is obvious and will be patent to the whole of the community, that the financial interests are influencing the Government towards the coalowners, who are really able, as the mover of this Amendment said, to conserve their own privileges and welfare without concessions. When it comes to a conflict of profits and of interests, the workers, whether it is the miners or any other class, are apparently entirely void of rights. All that the working class have are duties and responsibilities. The owners have rights, but no duties and responsibilities. There seems to be a strange disposition not to recognise the contradiction of the terms and the meaning of words as applied to owners, coalowners, and miners. We have been doing our utmost to maintain peace amongst our class. We have been trying by negotiations to get some concessions that would create some of these amenities which have been mentioned. This Bill will make the task of the leaders of the Miners' Federation more difficult than ever. The Prime Minister said that in the future we must go on quite different lines to those we have hitherto followed, and that if we are to have an A1 population instead of a C3 population, wealth must be more justly and equitably distributed. We submit that this policy instead of closing the gulf is widening the chasm between the working class and the favoured and privileged class. They are going to make more profits than ever, the difficulty of the workers to get better wages will be greater than it has been in the past. When we have entered into negotiations in the past we have been told that the profits were so low that they could not carry out the reforms we required, whether it was better housing conditions, or better wages, because of the lowness of their profits. We were told in those days that instead of getting 12½ millions it was only a matter of eight or nine millions. We were told by the Commission that the average was £12,800,000. Now this Bill 2600 seeks to give them not only their prewar profits on their best years, but 100 per cent. more than they had in their best years. Can the House expect to maintain peace and equilibrium among the mining community? This is the very antithesis to bringing peace and harmony into the country. It is creating dissension, and we suggest that, while we object to private ownership of the mines, if there is to be this system of private ownership and control in the mines, the profit ought to be limited to what it was in prewar days, and ought not to be inflated When we put indisputable cases for advancement of conditions and wages, they retired on the grounds that their profits would not enable them to make the advance. Liked trained diplomats behind closed doors, they refused to grant our reasonable requests. When discontent was manifested by our people by their attitude, which is supported by the Government this morning, if a strike took place a man of the type of the right hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Brace) was told that he was not looking after the interests of the miners, but was supporting the mineowners when they refused to give these reasonable concessions for which the right hon. Gentleman negotiated. Press, Government, and owners saddled the responsibility upon the leaders of the miners. We think that this policy is wrong, and is not going to lead to the welfare of the nation. We hope the Government will accept the amendment which will help to ease the situation for the time being and, instead of handicapping the mining industry of the country in the markets of the world, will enable us to hold our own and bring about some of these amenities, instead of building up the owners' banking accounts, it will give us those amenities so essential to the miners' life and the welfare of the community.
§ Mr. SPENCER
The object, as has been stated by my hon Friend who moved this amendment, is to make the five years preceding the War the standard upon which the profits shall be based. That has been persisted by the hon. Gentleman representing the Government, because it is not equitable and it is not fair. It would be very interesting indeed to have expoundede to this House what is the infallible moral standard and criterion 2601 upon which profits are based; whether that is a fixed standard, or whether it changes, according to the cupidity of the man. It would be most interesting indeed, if the hon. Gentleman, in stating the case on behalf of the Government, had laid down that infallible guide. As a matter of fact, he never attempted it. Therefore, one is driven irresistibly to make this inference—that it is almost an impossibility for the hon. Gentleman to lay down what is the exact criterion by which we can judge right and reasonable profits. The profits of the five preceeding years come to something like 9 per cent. in round figures. That is taking good and bad. I think the hon. Gentleman does not remember that.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Let me take what has been given as the capital invested in the industry from the Commission. I think it was about 125 millions. That was not in 1913, but that was at the date when the Commission was sitting. It was less than 135 millions in 1913. If you take 135 as the amount, you will find that 13½ millions is approximately 10 per cent. of that. Six per cent. goes towards the cost and 3 per cent. towards depreciation, although some of the coalowners still say that 3 per cent. is no good towards depreciation, because in the case of a mine it is a wasting asset. I want to give an instance of a mine in the town to which I belong which has been exhausted afted 30 years There may have been one particular seam exhausted, but the plant is still there; it only means going a little further down and digging another seam and starting again. If a company can draw 9 per cent., make provision for the wear and tear, and pay 6 per cent. on the whole of the industry and 3 per cent. for depreciation, it is not a very bad return. I submit that that was the state of the industry in 1913. It has been said more than once, in this House, that if the labourer doubles his earnings, then the capitalist has a perfect right to double his interest and returns. That is not a very good argument to bring forward to encourage the labourer to increase production, because it means that, so far as increased production is concerned, the more that Labour produces, relatively speaking, the less it makes. You have all the more for the capitalist to appropriate. As to the 2602 arguments in relationship to the ethics of capital, I fail to see that any cogent argument has been advanced for the increased dividend upon the capital invested in the industry. The five years preceding the War were exceptional years. I think that the whole of the mining fraternity will admit that those five years were exceptional. Therefore, it would seem to show that it would have been well within the region of ethics to have based the interests of the mines of something in the region of those years. One has been compelled to notice how very ready the Government has been to meet the interests of Capital rather than of Labour [HON. MEMBER: "No,"] May I give one ilustration? It is not so long ago since we had a huge railway strike. At that particular time the Government spent enormous sums of money for the purpose of putting forward the Government side of the case, and to discredit the railwaymen. That strike had no sooner ended and the labourers returned than there was a bankers' strike. The weekly edition of the "Manchester Guardian" stated in October last that the event of the week had been the holding up of the money by the bankers and the capitalists at the moment the Government required it most, when Treasury balances were falling due. But nobody heard a word about that. The Government did not advertise and say that the bankers were resorting to direct action. The bankers sat still, held their money tight, and the Government came forward willingly and gave another 1 per cent. to the bankers for the money they had lent. That is an illustration of how ready the Government have been to accept the slightest demands of the capitalist interests in this House. Here is another instance of that same thing. Now the hon. Gentleman who defended these proposals on behalf of the Government said that the wages of the miners in pre-war days were £91,000,000, but now they were £225,000,000. I tried to elicit from him the number of days that were worked per miner in 1913, but he did not attempt to deal with that. It is well known to us that in 1913 part of the coal-pits would be more than half idle in the summer. If he is going to take 1913 for the purpose of comparison, he must take into consideration the number of days actually worked by the men at that time. In 1918, or since 1914 right the way along, 2603 there has been unlimited work for everybody. There has been nothing like short time, and therefore it is not a fair comparison to take a year in which the men have been subject to enforced idleness and compare that with the years that the men have been able to work the whole of the time. Therefore, I want to submit that the comparison is not a fair comparison, and I wish to draw the inference that that does not fairly represent the increase in the miners' wages.
§ Mr. SPENCER
If he could take the exact time worked in 1913 and the same in 1919, and make allowance for the extra time, that would represent the increase which the miner has received. But the hon. Gentleman never attempted to do any such thing.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
When my hon. Friend challenged my comparison I said that I would take his own, which was 122 per cent. of the increase since the war. I did take that as the basis of my argument.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Very well. Even if you take that, what I want to come to is this. Is it a fair canon that labour is going to increase its wages if capital must inevitably follow along the same lines? If that is a doctrine propagated by this House as a definite doctrine to follow, it is not much encouragement for labour to attempt to increase output, because it only means that labour will be relatively worse off in the last thing than in the first thing, I want to come for a moment to that £4,000,000, because that is a very important point. That is supposed to represent new capital coming into the industry since 1913. It would be interesting to know where that capital came from, and it would be still more interesting to know to what extent it is being used, whether it is lying idle, or whether it has been used productively. If that £4,000,000 has been used for the expropriation of certain mineral rights which had to be brought out again if minerals are nationalised then it should not bear interest now. These are the reasons why we object to this new proposal. It has been stated that we on this side are responsible for the withdrawal of the first Bill which was supposed to confine itself to one and two-pence. 2604 It never did. The real reason why we objected to that Bill was because it made no provision for the continuation of the Coal Controller's Department, and everyone here knows that it would have been most disastrous to withdraw some form of control at the present time.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)
The hon. Member should confine his arguments to the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I am only giving that as a reason why we are opposed to this provision. So far as this side of the House is concerned we shall go into the Lobby thinking that we are casting our votes in the interests of those least able to bear this additional burden.
§ Mr. HOLMES
Listening to the arguments put forward, I quite understand that our Labour friends are desirous of reducing the amount which the coal owners shall receive from the amount as set out in the Bill. But I am not at all sure, from my knowledge of the finance of the coal industry, that they are going to achieve their object by this Amendment. The House will be aware that for the purpose of arriving at the profit standard a firm or company is entitled to take the best two out of three years or the best four out of six pre-war years, I think it is quite probable that the average for the five pre-war years may come to almost as much in amount as the standard in this Bill. The profit which a colliery shows in its profit and loss account is not the profit shown in arriving at its standard profit. A colliery company may deduct all sorts of items for depreciation which the directors may thing fit to represent, and may perhaps deduct a levy to the Coalowners' Fund, which is not allowed for Income Tax. These may be added on to show the profit standard. If the Amendment were carried and we inserted the average for the five prewar years, the profits for these five years would be increased by such amounts as in the ordinary way would be disallowed for Income Tax, and in the result there would be very little in it. The weak point about the Amendment is this—they talk about the average of the five prewar years, but they make no provision in this Amendment or any subsequent Amendment for collieries that have not got five pre-war years. Take the Don-caster district. There are many collieries 2605 that have not five pre-war years. You make no provision for these. The same thing occurs in South Wales, and I could name cases all over the country. There is no provision in this Amendment to give them any standard at all. That would be most inequitable, and would lead to disastrous effects.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Does the hon. Member know of any colliery working now that was not working before the War?
§ Mr. HOLMES
Yes. I am sure that the House will not ask me to name the collieries individually, but I know companies for which I act professionally, the director of one of which I saw to-day in connection with this Bill. Their first year ended in Sept., 1916. And there are many others. What I would suggest is that hon. Members, having made their protest with regard to this matter, should now let it go without going to a division, because, as a matter of fact, they may do far more harm than good in pressing this matter.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I noticed that the representative of the Government who dealt with this matter said that we were bound by the arrangement that had been made. And their speaker referred to this House as a place of unredeemed pledges. I am glad that the Ministry is prepared to carry out the arrangement it made, but I would suggest that if it is prepared to carry out the arrangement with the coal owners it should also carry out the bargain come to so far as the Sankey Commission is concerned.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I did not say anything about any arrangement with the coal owners. I said this principle was the principle on which the excess profits were levied in every industry.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I understand that the Minister concerned with them did not want to upset the arrangement that had been made. If I have misunderstood the situation I am prepared, naturally, to withdraw that observation. I have been looking at some of the figures as far as the coal owners' profits are concerned, and we have had many statements made to-night as to the great increases that have been given to the miners. On examination I find it is not quite so bad as has been made out. For the periods between 1909 and 1913 the profits of the 2606 coal owners were 11½d. per ton but their profits, up to September, 1918, from that period, were 3s. 6½d. per ton, an increase of two hundred and seventy per cent. With regard to the question of an arrangement which the Minister says was not made, I was going to suggest that they might put the Sankey Report into operation, seeing that that was the arrangement come to between the Government and the miners that they would be prepared to accept it. I had hoped the Government would have accepted an amendment of this kind. I view the position from the consumers' standpoint, because, after all, the responsibility for finding the money will fall upon the consumers of this country, 85 per cent. of whom are ordinary working people, and we know perfectly well from past experience that, however much profit is decided upon, it will always fall upon the consumer. The wages that the coal owners have to find for the men they employ have to be carried on the shoulders of the consumers. I hope the Government will accept the Amendment, as it is in the interests not only of the miners but of the consumers as a whole.
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
I think the coal owners ought to be satisfied with the five years' pre-war profits. They are the best five years they ever saw—five years when there was no control of the industry. They have been crying out a lot against control and we are agreeing that they should take the best five years they can get without any control at all, I do not know why the Government should be so considerate and tender towards the coal owners. They were not the most patriotic men in the world when the war was on. Some of us were working up and down the collieries then, and we know something of what was done during the war. I know a colliery that could never get covered in before the war, but they decided they might just as well cover it in, and so have loss trouble with the men, as pay excess profits. I know of another colliery where a wall seven or eight feet high and hundreds of yards round was built during the war. They thought they might just as well build the wall and improve the property as pay excess profits. They talk of now developments taking place. I daresay there has been little development during the last few months, since the agitation for nationalisation has been so 2607 prominent, and I understand that very well; but there was great development while the War was going on. I know of plenty of places where they have driven through faults, and found new coal, and then left it there to be gone back to at some time when control was off, and they could get all the profits it was possible to make. I know of another place where, notwithstanding the fact that coal was needed so badly, and that there was only a small number of men to get the coal because of the number who had left the collieries and joined the Army, they stopped a seam five feet thick and worked one of only three feet.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member must keep to the Amendment before the House. The hon. Member has not directed any observations yet to the Amendment, he is speaking on mining generally.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
I think I was arguing to the point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and proving that the colliery owners did not deserve the consideration that the Government proposals give them. I do not know that that was very far from the point. However, I am not going on that line any further; the things I have mentioned are perfectly true. The Government ought to pay more attention to the needs of the community, but that aspect is ignored entirely, and the mineowners seem to be much more important to the Government than the great consuming public of the country. I think we ought to take the pre-war profits as the profits of the coalowners such as obtains in every other industry. I believe we made a mistake in opposing the other Bill. We did the coalowners a good deal of service, for which, I daresay, we have been thanked many times.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I view with alarm the proposal of the Government to give to the coalowners the extra profits for which they are asking. The day may come—we are hoping it will—when we shall go back to normal conditions. I view with alarm the effect of going back, for, having met the coalowners once, I can see that this will be brought up against us in the regulation of our wage. I remember in my very young days, when I first met the coalowners on this very question of profits and wages, 2608 we were told that before any wages were to be obtained that their profits must be secured. In the past the coalowners have done very well indeed. I remember in 1901 that five or six collieries that originally belonged to one owner changed hands and passed into the control of a limited liability company. It is well known that in less than eighteen months the capital sum of £1,000,000 paid to selling owner was handed to him. That shows that the profits derived by the coalowners in the past have been more than ample. The increase proposed by the Government in this Bill is absolutely unfair, not only to the wage earner who is called upon to produce the coal, but it is still more unfair to the people who are called upon to pay.
We, on this side of the House, want to keep down, as far as possible, the cost of living; but if other people are going to filch from the general public in the way that the coalowners have or are asking that they should be allowed to do—and the Government have helped them and backed them up—I have grave fears for this country in the years to come. Let us do the best for the people that cannot help themselves. This fight is not really between miner and owner. It is not our question. The real question is that of the people in this country who cannot afford to pay. I want to help these people. If you go to any workers' homes—despite all that has been said about high wages—and ask them whether they would not return to the conditions prior to 1914 than have the present conditions, they will say, "Let us get back to the cost of living and the wages we earned prior to the war." I urge the Government to stand between the parties here and see that the consumer and the citizens of this country have the first call on their attention. I trust that the Government will agree to the Amendment. It may save mountains of difficulties in the years to come between the miner and mineowner. It may save trouble if we can come to a fairer arrangement. We miners believe that the Government are giving the coalowners more than that to which they are entitled. Let them make sacrifices as we have made sacrifices.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
I feel that the Parliamentary Secretary, in defending 2609 this payment to the coalowners, was very hard put to it to find an argument for defence when he used the wages paid to the miners. If the coalowners had been as patriotic as the miners with regard to this question of profits, wages and prices, the coal trade and the country would have been in a position entirely different from what it is to-day. The Parliamentary Secretary said that as we had not yet been nationalised capital was required. I do not think anyone in favour of the nationalisation of the mining industry in their wildest dreams or statements ever thought about working the coal mines without capital. They suggested doing without the capitalist, not without the capital. When we introduce the miners' wages in arguing the question it is only fair to deal with the past history of the coal trade as far as wages and prices are concerned. We do not deny that the miners have now a much higher wage if measured in shillings than they had previously to the War. As a matter of fact you do not calculate a man's wages by the number of shillings he gets at the end of the week, but the number of commodities he can buy, and in that respect the miner is in a worse position to-day than he is in 1914. But I want to follow the Parliamentary Secretary in his argument upon the question of wages. There is not a coalfield in Great Britain, but has a history behind it with regard to the relationship between wages and prices. In the mining district I come from we have an arrangement established and carried on for over 20 years, but the miners in order that advantage might not be taken of the country, and that they might not gain anything because of the war, abandoned wages following prices. If they had not done so, the wages for the miners in the Scottish districts would be shillings per day higher than they are at the present time. We must remember that in the coal mining industry the profits and wages have to be taken. No matter how much anyone may argue in this House the hard fact remains that the coalowners' profits were increased because of the war, challenge them to prove that there is any more capital in the industry in 1920 than there was in 1914. We know the mining industry. There is not a coalfield in Britain but we know it, and when they speak about extra capital in the mining industry we should like them to prove it to this House. When they had an opportunity 2610 of proving that extra capital was put into the industry they were unable to do so. We should like to know where it is. Apart from that question the hard fact remains. Whatever apologies may be made by the Parliamentary Secretary for the extra money given to the coalowners profits have gone up from nine to thirteen and to twenty-six millions. We are very anxious about this question. We are sometimes blamed for creating unrest in the mining industry. Of course, I know how the vote will go. People who have the majority behind them in this House can afford to sneer at the arguments of a minority fighting not for themselves, but for justice to the ordinary citizen. The time may come when the boot may be on the other foot, and I hope those of us who are struggling like hell against the exploitation of the common citizen will not sneer at the individuals who are endeavouring to save the nation from being robbed as they are at this time. What the Government has got to explain to the general public is that nine millions, thirteen millions and twenty-six millions had gone to the coalowners of this country, and the coalowners have not put an extra penny into the trade. Some of the managing directors, chairmen and others are drawing salaries from eighteen or nineteen different companies. A manager said to me once, "They do nothing but interfere, to the general detriment of the industry." I would like them to give some reason apart from miners' wages. The miners' wages are swallowed up in the increased cost of living. The coalowners' profits are not. When the miner has abandoned shillings per day in the interests of the nation, it comes very badly from the coalowners' representatives that they should plead with the miners to let this go. We know how the vote will go, but we hope that the people in the country will take up the question and put an end to the exploitation that is taking place.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I was hopeful that at this late hour we should have had some indication from the Minister of Labour as to what the Government were going to say to the reasonable Amendment that has been moved by my hon. Friend. However, it seems that the Minister of Labour is quite as adverse to getting up and giving the small concession for which we ask as is his friend, the hon Baronet, 2611 the Member for the St. Ives Division (Sir C. Cory), to get up and say anything against the practice of the claim that we are putting forward in this Amendment. On a former Amendment the hon. Baronet tried to show to the House that the miners had got a far greater advantage out of the coal trade of the country in recent years than the coal owners had.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That was on a previous Amendment. If the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to speak on a previous Amendment, I am afraid that we should be travelling very widely from the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I have no intention of trying to reply to the speeches made on a former Amendment. I was simply referring, very slightly, to the speech which the hon. Baronet, the Member for the St. Ives Division made. If I were to reply to his Amendments I fear I should require more time than I should be inclined to take at this early hour of the morning. The only reference I wanted to make to his speech was to show that—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I really must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he cannot, on this Amendment, reply to speeches made on a previous Amendment that has been disposed of by the House.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
Very well, I will not pursue further his reference to miners' wages. All I now want to do is to try, and show that miners' increased wages are not at all to be compared with the increased profits that the coal owners have had during these five years referred to by the hon. Baronet. During 1909 to 1913 the profits of the coal owners panned out at something like 11½d. per ton. In 1918 the profits had risen to 3s. 6½d. per ton.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I am subject to the ruling of the chair. That shows that the increases in their profits were higher than the increase which has taken place in the miners' wages. The Amendment that has been moved by my hon. Friend is designed 2612 to bring those profits back to a more reasonable figure. My hon. Friends want to make the five pre-war years the standard. During those five years the coal owners of the country had made an average profit of at least £13,000,000. That was a higher average than the previous 21 years gave them; they only showed an average of £9,000,000.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
It was developing industry, but surely there is a considerable amount of room for development between the figure of £9,000,000 and the figure of £13,000,000. I think that the Amendment deserves more sympathetic consideration at the hands of the Government than we have got at present. As a matter of fact we have only had a very brief speech from one of the gentlemen in charge of the Bill, and I am very much surprised to find that the Minister of Labour, who is in charge here, has nothing to say sympathetically towards the Amendment.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
I want to know from whence the increased profits are due. During the war no new shafts were allowed to be sunk. No new water logs were put down, there were no new shafts, no new drifts, so it cannot be due to the extension of the work. I should like to ask where the increase has come from? What is the cause of it? I want to say that the profits of the coalowners that were about £9,000,000 have gone up to £26,000,000. That is equal to about 188 per cent. increase. The miners' wages have gone up from £91,000,000 in the same period to £l25,000,000. I did not understand what the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said. That rise in the miners' wages is equal to 147 per cent. The profits of the coalowners have gone up to 188 per cent.; but that is not all. I know some collieries that were opened very many years ago. Those shafts are still going. That is not all the profits that the coalowner gets. We have the by-products of the works—benzol and all kinds of things. I cannot say exactly how much that will mean, but it will mean a very large sum of money throughout the country. Then collieries have whole shifts. There must be some profit due from them as well. I hope there is no necessity to give the coalowners £26,000,000 when the average is about £12,800,000. I hope, therefore, that the 2613 Amendment will be accepted by the Government,
§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
Those of us who sit on these benches have no responsibility for the debate that is going on at very great length. After all, we did not choose the time when this Bill should be considered by the House. That is the business and privilege of the Government. But it would be most regrettable that simply because the Government have chosen the early hours of the morning to discuss this important measure it should go through without ample discussion and consideration of its various clauses. It may be argued that this matter was considered in Committee, but a number of us had no opportunity of being on the Committee, and we know nothing of the arguments that have been put forward to justify the various clauses. Because of that, if for no other reason, we are entitled now to ask for explanations and justification of the clauses which are contained in the Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are now discussing a definite Amendment, and the hon. Member must please confine his remarks to the Amendment.
§ Mr. SMITH
I submit to your ruling, Sir, and perhaps I should have put it that instead of asking for a justification of the clauses I should have asked that some reason should have been given to the House why the Government have not accepted the Amendment which has been moved to this particular clause. After all, nothing has been said by the representative of the Government to disturb the basis upon which this Amendment rests, and one would have thought that if the Government have not given any substantial reason why this Amendment should not be carried at least some representative of the coalowners in this House should have given an explanation or a reason why the House should not be asked to support the Amendment that had been moved. On previous Amendments we had some very interesting figures given to us in regard to the proposals then being discussed. Possibly if we had some more speeches from the representatives of the coalowners in regard to this matter we should find perhaps even more justification for our Amendment than the arguments that have been submitted from these benches. 2614 Whether that is so or not this matter is of very considerable importance to the country generally at the present moment. After all the nation has been warned very severely at times against turning its mind towards a course of procedure that has been termed unconstitutional. It seems to me that if the nation is to be called upon to preserve constitutional procedure in regard to the reforms and changes that are to take place, at least this House in the measures that come before us, ought to give every justification for the proposals that it makes and the measures which it carries. At the present time when there is so much unrest in the country the House ought to try to deal with the matter by reducing the cost of living.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are now on the Report stage of the Bill, and on that stage it is not the practice to indulge in a general discussion of the principles of a Bill. We must consider the particular Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. SMITH
I will endeavour not to trespass in the further observations I have to make, although it is rather difficult for one who has not had a long experience of the procedure of the House not to follow hon. Gentlemen opposite in the example they set us. The point I wish to emphasise is that it is very undesirable that this House should set up a standard of profits in any industry which cannot be justified. The Amendment that has been proposed is that the five years previous to the War should be taken as a standard upon which the profits of the industry should rest in future. I have before me a report of a previous Debate in this House and I find that these profits during those five years were very exceptional in amount as compared with previous years. If that is so, surely those five exceptional years ought to be a reasonable basis upon which the industry should be conducted in future. If other industries in the country are going to depart from a basis of a period of years 2615 during which trading was fairly prosperous and run their business on lines that represent very much higher profits, we are going to intensify the difficulties of the nation at the present moment and lead to serious industrial unrest in the future. The standard proposed in the amendment is one entirely in the interests of the nation. If we are to permit high profits we are going to intensify the difficulties of the people as a whole, and more especially that section of the community continually referred to in this House as having fixed incomes with no opportunity of adjusting them like other sections of the people. From the widest standpoint of national policy I think this amendment can be justified, and it is most regrettable that the Government have chosen this time of the morning to have this Bill debated. I very much regret that the Government has taken up this attitude. After all, some of us who wish the minds of the people generally to turn in the direction of constitutional action will find our task considerably added to when we urge our policy on those with whom we come into contact. Especially will that be so if the general traditions and procedure of this House are departed from by the Government in legislation of this description, which is far reaching in its character, and most important so far as its bearing on the lives of the people is concerned. The Government are unwise, from the point of view of public policy, for they are going to make the task of those who have to deal with the extreme section of the community most difficult. From that standpoint there is every justification for the adoption of this Amendment. It will inflict no hardship upon the mine owners, as such, because although there has been an attempt to draw a comparison between the mine owner and the miner from the point of view of the change in their respective earnings, there is really no comparison between them. The miner is a man living at the subsistence level, and if he does not get an advance in his earnings corresponding to the increase in the cost of living he becomes inefficient in his work and a danger. The owners are people with large accumulations of wealth and with surpluses, and there is no comparison between people who have a substantial surplus over and beyond the cost of living and those poeple whose income is down to the subsistence 2616 level. It is not a fair comparison to use the argument as to the increase in wages as a justification for a similar increase taking place in profits, nor can it be justified on the ground of public policy. There is a very wide difference between the two things, and if we allowed this to be used as a precedent from which all other traders might be permitted to adopt the same attitude, we should be agreeing to a principle that would be disastrous to the country.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
I feel it necessary at this hour of the morning, even at the risk of detaining the House for a few minutes, to ask the Government, who are bringing this Bill on at such an unearthly hour, at least to give some reply to the arguments put forward from these benches. Since eleven o'clock last evening we have had fully a score of speeches delivered from the Labour benches, addressed to benches from whom no response has come. The Government benches this morning might be described as benches of silence.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
And sleep. They are occupied by right hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Members who are taking no part in the discussion, who are replying to none of the arguments put forward and are putting up no case against that advanced by the miners' representatives. The only statement from the benches opposite came from the Parliamentary Secretary, who made a speech in justification of the Government's opposition to this Amendment on the ground that the miners' wages had been increased to meet the increased cost of living, and that, therefore, the only just thing to do was to increase the profits of the mineowners and the shareholders generally to meet the corresponding increase so far as they were concerned. The hon. Gentleman gave us some figures, which related, not merely to the money, but to the miners amongst whom the increased wages had been distributed. But he gave us no figures as to the number of shareholders in the various mining concerns in the country; the amount of and the value of their holdings in the mines in which they had invested their money, nor the amount which each would receive from this particular gift which is being given to them by the Government in this Bill. It would be a rather interesting table 2617 to submit to us—a table giving the actual profits realised by the respective shareholders in these different colliery companies. I am convinced that were such a table submitted to the House by any of the Government speakers, and if these figures were published throughout the country, there would be such an outcry on the part of the consumer that the Government, which is remaining silent and is trusting to wearing down hon. Members on this side of the House, would not go forward with the Bill. After the reports of this Debate are published I am convinced the people of this country would not have this Bill, which makes a large gift of money. That is all one can call it. You cannot really call it earnings on capital which, we are told, is the object of the Government in giving them this money, but it is restoring to them the value of the earnings of the money they have invested. That is not just and sound. The men who have produced the wealth, the colliers themselves, are entitled to the increased wages they have received, because they have to purchase the subsistence which enables them to remain efficient to continue to produce the coal which earns the profits of the mine-owners. The mineowners have nothing to do but to sit by, like the Government are doing to-night, while the miners produce the coal which, on its sale, realises the profit which the mineowners are going to pocket. That is what this Bill actually does—it takes from the consumer and gives to the mineowners a sum of money which we hold they are not entitled to receive. Even upon the basis of pre-war earnings, in many instances companies had their capital increased by 50 per cent. by "water." Dividends that were being paid on large blocks of their capital were dividends paid on capital that had never been subscribed to these companies—bonus shares that had been distributed in order to hide the rate of profit earned by the companies. On many occasions companies which had watered their capital were in the main the companies which were the most difficult to advance in order to get anything like a subsistence wage for the miners who had to go down into the pits which these companies owned. In spite of those facts, which no Government speaker can refute, facts of the old bad days of pre-War times, you have the Government coming forward to perpetuate that system by the 2618 gift they intend to make to-night to colliery owners throughout the country. We are told that capital is necessary, that capital requires to have this increased profit.
Let me submit that the workers them selves in the colliery, not merely producing the coal, the value of which gives to them in wages the money that the colliery owners are grudging the miners in payment—but they also produce that part which the mine owners distribute and set aside as depreciation and reserve and they also produce that part which goes as profit. They actually re-produce the capital every 10 years which the colliery owners claim as theirs. They reproduce the value of that capital set aside in depreciation to keep it in working order, the reserve funds which are established in order to give it back at the end of a few years in bonus shares to the shareholders of the Companies. The miners produce those things and yet they are described by hon. Members in this House, by newspapers outside the House, as men who are demanding too much. Hon. Members opposite seem to agree. Demanding too much! Are we demanding as much as the colliery owners are squeezing out of the Government? If we are getting as much, I do not know the miner who lives in a house similar to that occupied by a colliery owner. The condition of life in which the individual lives is to me the soundest and surest way of judging whether he is making a good thing or a bad thing out of the industry in which he is employed and gets his living. The miner is the producer of these things. Is he receiving his just share of them? Is the consumer being treated in a proper manner? He is not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad hon. Members opposite agree. It is the first exclamation of sympathy I have heard from those benches to-night. Evidently the evening's discussion has had some effect when it has softened the flinty hearts of the Government supporters. I hope that by the time I finish speaking I shall have softened a few more and enable us to carry this Amendment if the Government persists in opposing us in the Lobby. I appeal to the House and to the Government to consider the matter. Let us know exactly where we are. Let the country know where it is. Let us understand how the coal industry 2619 stands. The public in the country are completely befogged by the various statements that have been circulated. The miners, the Government, the colliery owners are all circulating various statements, all showing various sets of figures, all conflicting one with the other, befogging and bemusing the minds of the people outside, including the consumer, who has to pay the price, until he does not know where he can find the truth concerning the coal industry. The Government and the coal owners have evidently made a deal. Until last week the whole coal industry was seething with discontent. Resolutions have been passed, letters have been sent out, and advertisements paid for by various organisations hiding themselves behind smoke screens, all denouncing the miners because the miner had taken up a very determined attitude in regard to his particular trade. The other trade unionists in the country, feeling that the country ought not to be placed in any jeopardy, but that industry in this country ought to have an opportunity of settling down and being conducted on good, thorough lines, decided that, instead of carrying on the agitation for the particular demand of the miners and trade unionists as reflected in the various resolutions passed by various trade unions congresses, and instead of adopting a general strike and taking direct action they would endeavour to obtain their ends and carry out their ideals by the propagation of those ideals, by the conversion of the public mind to their opinions, to their political channels, by means of Parliament, and that they would, by political ends, gain their desire. What is the House doing this morning? The House is actually rejecting Amendments put forward with the object of securing that these ends should be achieved by political means. The defeat of these resolutions of the Trade Union Congress is driving from the floor of this House the further discussion of the principles contained in this Bill, to be discussed in the miners' lodges, at the pit heads, with the result that you are likely to have a strike on the part of the miners when next they desire their ends rather than come back to seek to have them decided by Parliament. You are thrusting the whole question of industry on the workers outside. 2620 You are trying to prove to them that their desires and demands meet with little or no acceptance from the Government of this country; that there is little use for them coming into the House of Commons or sending up to their representatives Amendments to be put before the Government for the Government defeats them all the time. [HON. MEMBERS: "The House of Commons!"] The Government defeats the objects of the workers on all occasions. As a consequence you are going to have greater power in the hands of the trade unions of the country, so that, when they desire something by peaceful means, without all the consequent dislocation of industry, you are going to have those people turning back upon themselves, dislocating the whole industry by coming out on strike. As a natural result, you are going to have probably special constables drafted into districts, it may be even the military in order to quell what will be considered disturbances in the part of the striking world. I appeal to the Government and to hon. Members to accept the Amendment. I am appealing to Members of the Government who have charge of the Bill; not to the Members of the House who have received previous instructions from the Whips. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment and will include it in the Bill, and will give us, at least, some opportunity of justifying the uses and the means of Parliament and of political action to the workers, who are in the industries outside, in the country. I do not know why the Government should be so set upon refusing to reply to the arguments which have been put forward from this side of the House. The Deputy-Speaker and others who have occupied the Chair have pulled up hon. Members once or twice for repetitions. It evidently requires repetition to convert some people, and, while it may be a breach of the Standing Orders of the House, there is this much at least to be said. The points that we made and the arguments we advanced have never been replied to by the Government, and it was necessary for the Labour Members to repeat those arguments to endeavour to draw the Government representatives into making some reply. I hope and trust that at this 2621 hour of the morning the Government is going to wake up.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I meant it in the figurative sense, not in the literal sense, because I recognise that in this House there are fewer Members more wide awake than those on the Government Bench. I appeal to thorn, at least, to give us some indication of their intentions. They have heard for three hours discussion on this Amendment. We have only had one speech from the Government Bench. I trust that this time we shall have something said. We do not want to know the intentions of people who are going blindly into the Lobby—
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I merely want to appeal to the Members of the Government who have charge of this Bill to let us know their intention, and have some statement on the arguments advanced from this side of the House, as to what they intend to do with the Bill.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I intervene in the De bate to draw attention to a very serious aspect associated with the Government proposes and the Amendment now before the House. We heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife (Mr. Adamson) that the standard profits for the five years immediately preceding the War were much greater than the average for the previous twenty-one years. That being so, it cannot be said that to accept the Amendment proposed from these Benches would in any way inflict hardship upon any individuals or any community of individuals associated with the coal mining industry. This is the point to which I want to call the attention of the House. All the recent particulars we have had continue to call for greater economy, and here we find the Government by this Bill, jointly arranged, I understand, with the coal owners, that the differences in the amounts suggested in the Amendment that would be looked upon as fair profits, and the amount suggested in the Bill, mean rather more than 1s. per ton on coal. If that be so, let us 2622 trace the effects generally up on industry. I speak now, taking the second process, from that of coal to that of pig-iron manufacture. It is known that you would have to take at least three tons of coal as part of the component material that goes to manufacture a ton of pig-iron. So it means that the difference between the Amendment and the proposals of the Government is at least 3s. per ton. Coke always goes to any price in sympathy with the price of coal. That means that there will be a 4s. per ton increase on the price of the manufacture of pig-iron. If you trace that you will find all those processes starting from the proposals of the Government. Trace that into the shipbuilding yards and you will find there the ever-increasing charge upon the production of the commodities so closely associated with this suggested Act of the Government, that eventually you will find it handicapping industry because industry in turn passes the charge on to the commodities which they manufacture. In fact, if my argument is developed, it will be seen that that is why the housewife has to pay so heavily for such domestic utensils as the frying-pan as compared with the pre-War prices. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about production?"] When you speak about production you are dealing with a subject which is not before the House, or I should he ruled out of Order were I to take the suggestion of the hon. Member and commence to talk about production. It is the result of production that the quarrel is over at the moment; the profits that are got from production. The Government suggest that a present should be made to those who have investments in colliery companies.
We are trying to demonstrate to the Government that their proposals and ours mean ail this difference from the basis. Further, what will the small consumer say if it is known that the Government by their action suggest placing the equivalent of another one shilling a ton on coal 2 What would the ordinary householder, where there is sickness in the house and where fires have to le kept burning continually, say if it was known that an additional burden was being placed upon him? I suggest that the proposals emanating from these benches are reasonable and just, and 2623 that they would inflict no hardship, because the standard suggested by the amendment would be greater than the average of anything that happened for 21 years before. It cannot be said that the men who are producing the coal are living at anything like the pre-war standard. Notwithstanding the increase in wages their standard of living is lower than it was in 1914. Does the standard of living in any way affect the lives of those who will be advantaged out of the profits that accrue from industry?
§ Major MORGAN
Reluctant as I am to intervene in this Debate, I desire to support the Amendment, which I think is very reasonable, and I am astonished to find that the Goverment are making no reply to the modest request made from the benches on this side that the average of the five pre-war years should be taken on this question. I cannot make a stronger appeal than has been made by the hon. Member for Wellingboro., that we are surely entitled to got some explanation from the Government as to
§ why this preferential treatment is to be given to the colliery owners on this matter of profits. It has already been stated that the proportion of pre-war profits was considered fair. The hon. Member for Wellingboro' and several other hon. Members on this side have pointed out—
§ Major MORGAN
May we not be afforded some explanation from the Government? Our constituents are complaining. Only last Monday I was told in my own constituency that the Labour Members in the House of Commons did nothing at all; they were said to be like tame eats. Will not the Government give us some excuse, however small, that will justify our existence.
§ Question put, "That the words 'total standards' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 102; Noes. 28.2625
|Division No. 66.]||AYES.||[4.8 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Eyres Monsell, Commander B. M.||Morison, Thomas Brash|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Falcon, Captain Michael||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Forrest, Walter||Neal, Arthur|
|Atkey, A. R.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Parker, James|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Preston, W. R.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Glyn, Major Ralph||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Bell, Lieut Col. W C. H. (Devizes)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Roundell. Colonel R. F.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gould, James C.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Stanier, Captain Sir Seville|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Stanley, Lieut. Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Howard, Major S. G.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Johnson, L. S.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Casey, T. W.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Lort-Willlams, J.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Lynn, B. J.|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||M'Lean, Lieut. Col. Charles W. W.||Lord Edmund Talbot and Captain|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Macquisten, F. A.||Guest|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Cairns, John||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Bromfield, William||Grundy, T. W.||Lawson, John J.|
|Lunn, William||Sitch, Charles H.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Malone, Lieut.-Cot. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Spencer, George A.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Swan, J. E. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Mr. Griffiths and Mr. Neil Maclean|
|Robertson, John||Waterson, A. E.|
|Rose, Frank H.||Wignall, James|
§ Mr. LAWSON
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), paragraph (i), to leave out the words "plus one-tenth part of such excess."
§ The Clause as it stands now gives the owners not only the total standards of the five pre-war years, but the total standards of £26,000,000 a year. The Government have also relieved them of the cost of the coal control. If the Clause remains with these words included they will also get 10 per cent. of the extra profits that will go into the pool. I remember the Prime Minister coming to the Trade Union Congress—I believe it was in 1915—and telling us that the profits of the employers were going to be limited to pre-war profits during war years. He created a very fine impression at that time, but the unfortunate thing about it was that while the Prime Minister told us about what he was going to do during the war years he did not tell us what he was going to do after the war years. We were told that we were going to have a new point of view and a new spirit, yet we find the old spirit asserted by the coal owners and the Government becoming partners to it.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Gentleman not to go over the old ground again. This is a specific point, whether this plus one-tenth should be in the Bill or not. He must not go over the broad arguments which are really Second or Third Reading arguments.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I thank you very much, Sir. I was just trying to point out that this was in addition to all that the Government had already granted to the coal owners. Whatever the Government may say there is only one deduction to be drawn, and that is that they have made an arrangement with the coal owners. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The coal owners, just as much as the Labour Members, repudiated the 1s. 2d. Bill. Yet on this Bill, which the Government professes gives them no more than the 1s. 2d., they come here to-night and find every possible satisfaction in it, because they know very well that not only does it give them the profits which they demanded, 2626 but even more than they dreamt of getting out of the Government. It is all part of one general policy. We are told that the Prime Minister has definitely decided that he is going to support private enterprise [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, we need not have been told that in the Press, and there need not have been any special mention of it. It is set forth in every line of this Bill we are discussing here to-night.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not following my suggestion to him just now. Let him imagine that he is chairman of one of his own meetings, and keep to the point.
§ Mr. LAWSON
It seems an unfair thing, as representatives of the public, for the House to say that the owners in addition to all the benefits they get in the Bill, should have 10 per cent. Assume for a moment that there are £20,000,000 profit in the pool, they are going to get £2,000,000 in addition to all they have already obtained. In this House we are often told that certain schemes for the well-being of the nation are very good indeed, but where is the money coming; from? In moving this Amendment, we are showing hon. Members on the other side of the House, and also the public, where the money is going to, although we may not be able to tell them sometimes where it is to come from as far as the Exchequer is concerned. We think, however, that as a matter of a public duty we should assert this. We move this Amendment as a public duty because we believe there is very great need for the wealth or profit that would otherwise go into the pool. We cannot for the life of us see why as a matter of common policy the Government should not accept this. I have almost despaired of appealing to them for anything reasonable. I want to put this to the hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who represent the Government. Surely they have been generous enough to the coalowners without granting thorn this extra 10 per cent. Whatever they may think about it, 2627 whatever victories they may score in this House in Division, there is going to be a turmoil and a wave of indignation throughout the country because of the Bill they are passing through here tonight. We ask them, if they cannot see their way clear to accept this Amendment, which means a good deal to the Exchequer but which, in face of what the owners have already got, does not seem to mean a great deal to them. I ought to say this to the hon. Baronet (Sir C. Cory)—I have known him for many years and have read him continually on various Bills affecting the mining industry—that I do not think he has rendered his own people a service in the line he took in Committee upstairs and has taken on this Bill to-night, for it has led up to a fairly full discussion that has thrashed out the facts of a Bill in a way they would not have been thrashed out on an ordinary night.
This money, which ought to go into the national Exchequer at a crisis like this when it is needed for far sweeping reforms, instead of going in that direction is going into the pockets of the coalowners. It is quite true that if we as miners' representatives, without always trying to keep the public point of view as Members of this House, followed our own particular interests, we could do what the hon. Baronet invited us to do—we could make a deal with them. We have known for a considerable time that here and there in different parts of the country there have been steps taken to encourage us to do a deal with the representatives of the coalowners. In asking the Government to accept the Amendment, I want to say I hope I will never see the time when, however great the advantages may be to the workers in the mining industry, when the workers will agree with the coal-owners to join in that exploitation of the public of this country that has been going on for so long. Rather let us take up the position of standing for public well-being We know that we are part of the great public and, ultimately, however much short-sighted views may seem to benefit us for the time being, the long view is always the best in dealing with questions as public representatives instead of miners' representatives. I would ask the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench if they cannot see their way to accept this Amendment. Some people say there will be nothing in the pool. Some people 2628 say there will be £20,000,000 in the pool. If there is nothing in the pool, why not accept this Amendment. If there is £20,000,000 in the pool, I submit, even from the coalowners' point of view—and the Government's point of view is largely the coalowners' point of view—it is worth accepting the Amendment in order to demonstrate to the public that at any rate they are not prepared to take the last pound of flesh and to play the game of Shylock.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
I beg to second the Amendment. The Government have already given the mine owners two presents to-night and we hope that they will give" this present to the consumer and the public by accepting this Amendment. I believe the Government have failed to realise that the biggest portion of the money obtained from the coal industry in this country comes from the export of coal. I will read a part of an address that was given by an expert on the coal industry last week. This is what he says:The industrial consumer and the domestic consumer are getting their coal at less than the cost of production. The only thing that makes that possible is the high price for exports. If ever exports come down to anything like normal level the industry is ruined. We are engaged in an industry which is marching towards bankruptcy in the strict sense of the term.That is from an expert on the coal industry. If that is true, then, as the Prime Minister put it when he dealt with the question of the Coal Commission in the early part of last Session in this House, if the claim advanced by the miners was going to be imposed on the mining industry that was going to ruin the smaller industries in different parts of the country that were hardly paying their way to-day. That is going to be, the effect on the steel industry and the tinplate industry of this country, which is an export trade. When the 6s. was imposed, we used for the production of steel four tons of coal. That is an increase in the production of steel of 24s. per ton. When that 24s. per ton is included with the cost of making tinplates, we, in this country, will never be able to compete with American competition. During the period of the War they captured practically all our markets because we were producing little tinplate, 2629 and our Allies consumed the tinplate. We had practically half the industry closed down. Now we are trying to develop that industry, but you are going to make it impossible when you are going to give these persons double the profits. You are going to make it impossible for the tinplate and steel industries in this country to survive by giving all these profits to the mine owners of this country. The Government and all the leading men in this country are talking about production. What is the good of the miners—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We had all that on the last Amendment. That is not the point. We are now on the subsidiary point, whether or not to leave out "plus one-tenth part of such excess."
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That was shown on the main Amendment which we recently disposed of. It does not arise here.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
Very well. I have three more points which I might develop, but I will keep them for another occasion. I appeal to the Government. We have been on our feet since 11 o'clock last night, and I think it is wonderful that we have kept the Debate going without getting anybody on the other side to reply to it. I ask the Government to give us a chance between this and breakfast in order that we can find some material with which to reply.
§ Mr. A. PARKINSON
In rising to support the Amendment I do so because I feel that one-tenth of the £1,250,000 is really a gift to the employers, and that it is developing the policy of subsidising private industry and private enterprise. Of course, we are all aware that many hon. Members are all against public enterprise. It has been made quite public this week that the Government are going in that direction. Before we go so far we ought to see what the Prime Minister said in Manchester last December. In a speech there he made this statement—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That really does not arise on this Amendment. Parliamentary proceedings would be impossible if a Third Reading speech were to be made on all the Amendments to the 2630 Bill. Let us devote ourselves to the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I will try to conform to your ruling. Sir. It is rather difficult I agree, but still the Amendment is to delete "plus one-tenth part of such excess." I feel that by leaving one-tenth in we are at least giving money that would be much better in the Exchequer of the country than in the pockets of the mineowners. Surely the money could be expended to greater advantage. I feel that the coalowners of this country are having quite sufficient profits without having an extra one-tenth given to them. It seems unnecessary to spend money in this direction. They are getting an amount over and above their pre-war profits and now the Government are keeping increasing, every time they move, the profits of the coalowners. I do not think that is reasonable. It wil not meet with the approval of the public. We do not desire that any trouble should arise; probably no trouble will arise; but, at the same time, the people who are going to find the money for this taxation are the people who ought to grumble, and who will grumble. On those grounds, in supporting the deletion of the one-tenth, I think we are stepping in the right direction.
§ Mr. SPENCER
This part of the Bill proposes to take the profits of the owners on a certain basis and to give beyond that one-tenth. The Amendment proposes to delete that part. Really, one cannot understand what (special virtue there is in this one-tenth. It would be very interesting, indeed, to understand upon what basis the Government have arrived at this particular amount to give to the coalowners, in addition to the amounts already given. I am not going to attempt to traverse the ground which has already been traversed, but it must be noted that we have passed now a provision in this Bill which is going to safeguard the interests of the owner definitely. Those profits are to be safeguarded, whether the industry makes the amount or not. If any unforeseen circumstances arose after the passing of this Bill, and it becomes an Act, whatever happens the coalowners would be assured of the standard profit in this Bill. On the top of that they are to have a further ten per cent. of any surplus that may accumulate 2631 after the wages have been paid and after this profit has been deducted. What will that amount be, and how is it going to affect the minds of the men? Those are two very important points. With regard to the amount, at the end of this year, over the profits of the owners and over the wages of the workmen, there will be a surplus, on 31st March of this year, of approximately £7,000,000. After the profit provided for the coalowners on the basis of this Bill, they are to have a share of those £7,000,000. That is infinitesimal. On the present output, which is progressively increasing, and with the present price of export coal, the surplus at the end of March, 1920, with the amount that will be transferred from this year to next year, will be in the region of £69,000,000. After making provision for the owners in relation to their standard profits, according to this Bill, of about £26,000,000, there will still be a surplus. If this Amendment is defeated the owners will have a further claim upon these profits of about £4,000,000, which will make the total £30,000,000. That is going to be the effect from a financial point of view, but what is going to be the effect on the minds of the workmen when they find that such a large amount is going to the coalowners? With the knowledge of these facts it is not to be expected that you can go to a body of workmen and ask them to keep calm and tranquil. They will know that if they make no demands, no matter what the cost of living may be, it will simply mean that the coalowner will get more. Therefore I suggest that one of the effects of this provision will be that it will cause considerable unrest amongst the mining community. Really, if the Government want to irritate the miners into making exorbitant demands, I know of no better method.
§ Mr. SWAN
I view this matter with great alarm. It seems to me extraordinary that there should not only be guaranteed profits, but that any surplus that may accrue from increased output should be set aside to increase profits. We hope that under whatever system the miners are managed in the future, whether under nationalisation, private enterprise, or joint control—
§ Mr. SWAN
It is not my intention to transgress. In the future development of the mines we hope that in the distribution of excess profits some consideration will be given to the disgraceful conditions under which the miners are living rather than that the profits should go entirely to the coalowners. In this matter humanity is deserving of consideration.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the hon. Member has not any matter more relevant to the particular Amendment he must take his seat.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
The more I hear the coal question discussed the more fully convinced do I become that we are not far from the day when we shall be in a very serious situation in this country. The provision in the Bill which it is now proposed to leave out, if retained, will be one of the causes of much irritation and unrest in the industry. My hon. Friend behind me explained how this thing will operate, but we are up against this difficulty. The miners are convinced that this Bill awards to the coalowners very generous profits, and they do not intend, if it is possible for them to prevent it, that the coalowners shall get any more than is guaranteed in the Bill. Whenever there is a surplus over and above that, the miners will know that unless they go in for an advance of wages which will absorb the whole of that surplus, the result will be additional profits for the coalowners. That is a fact that will be ever present at all the deliberations of the Miners' Federation. The leaders will have very little influence in restraining the miners from making demands for wages so long as the workers know that, unless they take the surplus in wages, an additional portion will go to the coalowners in profits. I know I shall not be believed; I know nothing we can say from these benches will be accepted; but I am fully convinced that this one-tenth surplus, in addition to 2633 the £26,000,000 provided in the Bill, is going to be fruitful in applications for advances in wages which would not be raised if this provision were not included. I do not know if the Government are bound by this provision, or whether they will consider the advisability, in the general interest of the peace of the industry, of accepting the Amendment. If they will not, we have given an indication of what effect it will have. If they care to take the responsibility of sticking to ii, so far as I am concerned, I have nothing to say. I do not think there is anything to be gained by prolonging this Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] Well, if you do not want to get home, I do not see any reason why we should be in a hurry to go. This is one of the subjects that we can talk on. Personally I should like to see the Government drop this proposal. They have already made very generous provision for the owners.
§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
I had hoped that the Government, having defeated the previous Amendment, would have seen some reason and justification for the one now before the House. A very important and pernicious principle is involved in this proposal to add 10 per cent. to the other profits which the coalowners will be entitled to take from the industry. You have a dual method by which profits can accrue to those who own the industry. So far as actual production is concerned, it is the perpetuation of a principle established during the War, very largely on the grounds of expediency. In dealing with wages questions we had to adopt this method because of the uncertainty that existed as to what would happen in the immediate future. As soon, however, as we have returned to anything like normal times, the tendency has been to remove 2634 this dual method of calculating wages, and to put everything, so far as possible, on a permanent basis. This dual principle which the Amendment seeks to remove is wrong. Although, in a former part of the Clause, the profits are fixed by a definite sum, in the section below, which we now seek to delete, it is an indefinite one. There is no guarantee what the sum is going to be. Nobody in the House could state exactly what sum of money is represented in the 10 per cent.; it is almost in the nature of an open cheque, and that is very wrong in principle. I am certain that if any body of workmen were to ask, through their representatives, that wages should be fixed on this principle, no body of employers or Government Department would accept it for a moment, simply because it would be argued that there was nothing definite in the matter to indicate the exact amount of money involved in the transaction. If that is a right principle so far as wages are concerned it is also right so far as profits are concerned. I suggest, having carried the main part of the Clause, that there is a real justification for this further Amendment to delete the 10 per cent., because of the pernicious principle associated with it.
§ 5.0 A.M.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I know quite well that on Report Stage one speech only is allowed for each member and therefore I waited till now in order that I might hear as much as I could of the arguments on the other side and not commit the mistake which I committed before of speaking immediately after the seconder of the amendment. If I was wrong before, I must be right now. It is a very remarkable thing that both as regards this amendment and the one preceding it a great amount of heat and energy has been developed, but not one word, as far as I can remember, was raised on the point either in Second Beading Debate or in Committee upstairs, and I think the hon. Gentleman the member for Rhondda (Major Morgan) lifted the veil a little to show why it was that this demonstration was being made to-night. I cannot help thinking there must be some other cause beyond the one advanced in which it was said he was so afraid of those who sent him here that he was obliged to make a speech when he did not want to and it is quite 2635 obvious that hon. Gentlemen are making the best of this occasion to make a good case for the demands they have put for-ward for an advance in wages.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Surely you could have warned them of this as a result of the Government yielding in Committee Room upstairs?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
If the hon. Gentleman feels so strongly about this, then it is an odd thing they did not raise it upstairs. Everyone knows why it is being done now. The last hon. Gentleman who spoke objected to this because it was an indefinite sum. Of course it is an indefinite sum because we do not know how much coal will be exported in this emergency period or what the price will be. But the reason was to meet the objection raised on the la. 2d. Bill that to limit the profits to 1s. 2d. a ton was to do away with all enterprise in developing the mining industry. That is the sole reason it has been introduced into this measure. Everyone knows perfectly well that if the coal mining industry is to be a success you must encourage capital to be put into it in order to find work for those who work in the mines. It is perfectly clear that if you give no inducement to put money into mining now, when they can get large percentages in many other kinds of investment, that you are doing the very worst thing for the industry and the worst thing in the world for those who work in it and are represented by me and some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is the reason why it has been done. But I want to say two words in order to brush away misapprehensions that must have arisen to those who listened to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They entirely ignored the fact that this one-tenth goes side by side with nine-tenths which goes into the pool and can be allocated in any way in which the Government and the House decides. We know one way in which they wish to use it. They have not mentioned that. They have spoken as if this one-tenth went to the owners and the other nine-tenths went goodness knows where. They know where they want it to go, but it is there to go to the State, to themselves, or to some project connected with the industry. Another thing they entirely ignored was that this is an emergency Bill produced 2636 to meet a specially difficult state of affairs. It only lasts for a limited time. A new Bill has been promised and is being prepared at this moment in order to carry on after the period is over, to meet a large number of difficulties raised by hon. Gentlemen in this discussion and to put the coal industry on a much better footing. There is one other point in regard to this Amendment and many others which have been moved. Every speaker on that side has spoken as if the Government have made great concessions to the coal owners. [HON. MEMBERS: "So they have."] Every speaker has spoken in this sense, and nobody who has listened to the Debate would have believed that if we had not passed this Bill that coalowners would get quite £10,000,000 more.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how they will get it, having regard to the fact that under the Coal Mines Control Agreement (Confirmation) Act, 1918, they are limited to six-fifths?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I am quite convinced it is so. They would get a large share of their excess profits. What is more, these large profits would go to people who, through no merit of their own, but because they happen to be in favourable geographical position have been allowed to export coal while other coalowners have been forbidden.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Is it correct to say that those who have not been exporting would be out of pocket instead of having money at their disposal?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The State would have to find money for them. The State would have to make good in many directions under the old agreement. To say that this is a great concession to the owner is absolutely untrue, because it is a Bill giving £10,000,000 less to the coalowners than they otherwise would have got, and distributing that sum in a much fairer way than otherwise would have been done.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
We have heard a very interesting speech from the Parliamentary Secretary, in the course of 2637 which he has told us that the Government's reason for putting a 10 per cent. provision in this Clause we are now discussing is because more capital is wanted in the industry. That is the sole reason the Parliamentary Secretary informs us.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
To put more capital in and increase the production. I accept the correction. I do not think that is a statement that will bear very close examination, for this reason. Two or three months ago the Government brought in a Bill dealing with the mining industry, and in that Bill there was no provision of the character that we are now discussing. Had the Government forgotten then that we required to develop the mining industry? I venture to suggest that the Government had as much in mind, then as now, the development of the mining industry and the need for increased production. As a matter of fact when we were discussing that last Bill we had very long discussions regarding the question of production and the necessity for increasing production because the necessity for increasing production then was greater than now.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I suggest that that was not the reason why the Bill was withdrawn. We have been told from the Government Bench this morning that the Members of the Labour party were mainly responsible for the withdrawal of the Bill. I have already dealt with that point and I have endeavoured to show the absurdity for such a reason being given for the withdrawal of that Bill. We on this Bench represent 60 out of a House of 700 Members, and to give that as the reason for the withdrawal of the Bill is absurd. The reason was because those who were sitting behind the Government, those who were representing the coal-owners and their friends, were against the Bill and insisted on its withdrawal, and the Bill was withdrawn. Between the withdrawal of the first Bill and the introduction of the second one, we have the Government giving concessions to the coalowners with the view of satisfying them before the second Bill is brought forward. That is the true reason why we have this provision in the Bill. It is 2638 an additional sop given to the colliery owners of the country in order to make them accept this Bill more readily than they did the first Bill. As my hon. Friends have pointed out again and again during the course of the discussion the Government really ought seriously to consider some of the Amendments we are putting forward. I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade that, so far as our opposition to this stage of the present Bill is concerned, our claim for an advance in wages had nothing whatever to do with it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] My statement is questioned, but I can assure hon. Members who have questioned it, that the claim for wages had nothing to do with our opposition to this stage of the Bill. Our reason for opposing the Bill so strenuously on this stage was because the Parliamentary Secretary, notwithstanding that he had made such ample provisions in the Bill as originally drafted, very lavishly, in our opinion, gave greater concessions on the Committee stage upstairs, and consequently we informed him that he would have more opposition on the Report stage than he experienced on the Committee stage. I think he would have been well advised to have accepted some of the Amendments put forward. The Amendments that we have been putting forward have certainly not been in the interests of the miners. They have been in the interests of the consumers and the general public of this country. Not one single Amendment that we have put forward in the course of this morning has been an Amendment by which the miners could have benefited in any shape or form. It is as difficult to touch the stony hearts of the supporters of the Government as it is to touch the hearts of the Government itself. I think that, even at this early hour, the Parliamentary Secretary ought to see his way to accept this Amendment. This is one of the extras given to the coalowners in order to get them the more readily to accept the second Bill than the first. In accepting our Amendment it would be giving to the country some greater assurance than has been given up to the present that the Government are prepared to stand up against vested interest. If we carry this Amendment into the Division Lobby and get defeated, there is no shadow of a doubt that the general 2639 public will believe, more strongly than ever, that the Government is the puppet of vested interests,
§ Mr. LUNN
If I may, I should like respectively to call the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to one point in his speech. I think that he will regret having made that particular point. If I understood him aright he said that they must encourage private enterprise, so far as this Bill was concerned, because if they did not the owners could take their money out of the industry and get larger profits elsewhere.
§ Mr. LUNN
We shall be able to see that to-day and I think he will also see that as well. This Bill is a Bill that is only to last until August 31st of this year and we are living to-day under war conditions. The War has not ended. We have passed recently the War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Bill. We are to have D.O.R.A. for some time. Statements have been made by practically every Member of this House—either Members of the Government or those in opposition—that no one should take advantage of war conditions for his own personal ends. Every hon. Member will agree with me that the War is not technically ended yet. But this morning we have had an experience that we could hardly have expected. The Government have, in one section of this Bill, taken away the cost of the control from the employers and placed it upon the taxpayer. They have increased the profits and now, if there is any surplus over the total standard of profits, they propose to give the coal-owners one-tenth of that surplus. The Parliamentary Secretary said, "We do not mention the other nine-tenths." We, on these Benches, have no desire that there should be such excess profits made in the industry. All after, the Excess Profits Tax which has been levied has not
§ been paid to the extent of something like £265,000,000. That sum is owing to-day, so that the owners are trying to get out even of their dues, and the demands due to the State, which they ought to contribute to-day as well. We see that it is impossible in any way to obtain from the Government concessions. I think we may take it for granted that, after the report which has appeared in the Press of the Prime Minister's speech, that the Government intend to fight labour with all their might, this morning and last night is a good exhibition of the beginning of the fight in contesting the claims of the workers who are trying, through their representatives in this House, not to defend any particular section of the community, but to defend the community at large against a very small and privileged section.
Before we come to a Division upon the point at issue, we are entitled to express resentment at the observations of the hon. Member who has just sat down in reference to the action of the Government in regard to labour. It is no part, I am sure, of the policy of this or any other Government to repudiate any legitimate claim made on behalf of labour.
I accept the hon. Member's repudiation. It is an important point, because those of us who are in sympathy with labour do not wish to find that we are necessarily alienated from the just claims of any section of the labouring community. Having been kept up to such a late hour, I hope that we may now be permitted to come to a decision on this matter without any unnecessary prejudice being introduced.
§ Question put: "That the words, proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 98; Noes, 28.2641
|Division No. 67.]||AYES.||[5.24 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Baird, John Lawrence||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W C. H. (Devizes)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Baldwin, Stanley||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Barnett, Major R. W.||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Barnston, Major Harry||Bigland, Alfred|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Glyn, Major Ralph||Neal, Arthur|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gould, James C.||Parker, James|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Preston, W. R.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hopkins, John W. W.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Casey, T. W.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Howard, Major S. G.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stanler, Captain Sir Beville|
|Caurthope, Major George L.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Johnson, L. S.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lort-Williams, J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lynn, R. J.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||McLaren, Robert (Lanark. Northern)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Forrest, Walter||Macquisten, F. A.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mallalieu, F. W.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison, Bell, Major A. C.||Lord Edmund Talbot and Captain|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murchison, C. K.||Guest|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Spencer, George A.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Lawson, John J.||Thorne, William (Plaistow)|
|Bromfield, William||Lunn, William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cairns, John||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wignall, James|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, B. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robertson, John||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. Nell|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Sitch, Charles H.||Maclean|
|Hayday, Arthur||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The next four Amendments on the Paper are con-sequential down to the last one, and that is out of Order, because, if carried, there would be two contradictory arrangements in force at the same time.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The Amendment which you have just stated to be out of Order (to omit Clause 9) is one that raises one of the most important points in the Bill. [Laughter.] I am rather surprised at the hilarity with which a serious statement like that is received. This is one of the most important points of the Bill. It raises the whole question of the continuance of coal control. I do not know anything more important from the point of view of the country and the coal trade than that. I hope your ruling at this stage will not prevent us from having this question very fully discussed on Third Reading, and that arrangements will be made by the Government to give us the fullest opportunity of debating this, as 2642 well as many other important questions that we desire to debate, on that stage.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is certainly quite a proper question to raise on the Third Reading of the Bill. The effect of leaving out Clause (9) would be to nullify Clause (1). That is the only reason why I ruled it out of Order as an Amendment. It would leave the Bill in an incoherent position. Of course, it is quite a proper Amendment to raise on Third Reading.
§ Bill to be read the Third time upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Adjournment: Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Colonel Sir R. Sanders.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-seven minutes before Six o'clock a.m., 19th March.