§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The Bill which the House is considering in its Third Heading stage is of very great importance to the whole of the people of this country. The future of the coal trade is of vital importance so far as our commercial and industrial development is concerned. Miners are sometimes blamed for pushing their interests in connection with the industry to the exclusion of the general interests of the country, but that is an erroneous point of view. They have never taken up a position of that kind. They realise that the industry is of such vital importance to all sections of our people that any proposal in connection with it concerns the whole people of the country, and not a section of them. It is perfectly true that the miners take a deep interest in the industry they follow. That is a very natural thing, and one realises that they pay a heavy price for the part they play in it. It is only necessary to mention facts like these, that we have four miners killed every working day and that there is one of their number more or less seriously injured every three minutes, to convince one that it is a very natural thing for them to take a keen, close interest in anything that concerns the industry. At the same time, no one recognises more clearly than they do that the 338 future of the industry is a national and not by any means a sectional matter.
The Bill disposes of millions of money—and therefore ought to be of interest to every citizen of the country. The members of the Labour party voted against the Second Reading because it gave too large profits to the mineowners. So far as we can ascertain, it gives an aggregate pre-War standard of £22,000,000. In addition to this very substantial sum, there was an allowance in the name of interest on increased capital, amounting to £4,000,000. That item has been subjected to considerable criticism. Those who took part in that criticism were very anxious to know if there had really been such a large amount of increased capital put into the industry during the progress of the War as would justify the setting aside of £4,000,000 to meet the interest on it. We who represent mining constituencies and are in close contact with the industry, were not aware that such a large amount of new capital had been invested in it. We are rather inclined to take the view that a considerable amount of it has been created through the payment of bonus shares to the holders of colliery stock. In the district that I represent, during the past two or three weeks we have had one company paying from its reserve fund one bonus share for every two ordinary shares, and in that way they have increased the capital to a very large extent without, at the same time, paying in any fresh capital. We fear that the item of £4,000,000 set aside to meet the interest on new capital may be meeting the interest on capital which has been fixed up in this way. In addition to these two sums, there is ten per cent. paid over standard, under certain conditions—representing a sum of fully £500,000, or a total profit payable to the coalowners of fully £26,000,000,
How does that compare with the profits earned by the coalowners in previous years? For thirty years before the War the average profits amounted to something like £9,000,000 per year. For the last five years before the War—which were the best five years that have been experienced so far as coalowners' profits are concerned — the average profit amounted to something like £13,000,000 per year. Notwithstanding the fact that the Government had all this information before them, they still come along and 339 propose to double the pre-war profits; and not only that, but during the Committee stage they gave the coalowners and the distributors of coal certain valuable concessions which, according to their own figures, may amount to an additional £125,000 per year. That has increased the hostility of the Labour party to the Bill—and we shall vote against the Third Reading as we did against the Second Reading.
During the Report stage a very interesting statement on behalf of the trade was made by the hon. Baronet (Sir C. Cory). He tried to show that the increase of wages paid to the miners during the five years of the war amounted to something like 250 per cent. That was a very ingenious statement, and it is very difficult to understand how that figure is made up. But I do not think the statement was in accordance with the facts. Minors' wages during those five years of War have been increased by 122 per cent., or considerably less than the cost of living has increased during the same period. I do not know whether the hon. Baronet made that statement in order to give a set off to the profits which have been made by the colliery owners and the Government during the same five years; but whether that be the case or not, during that same period the coalowners and the Government made a profit of £160,000,000, a sum which exceeds the total capital invested in mining concerns by no less than £25,000,000. The Government got a considerable share of these profits, but there is no doubt that after the Government had got their share the owners had still earned very substantial profits. For instance, during 1915 they amounted to fully £21,000,000. In 1916 the figure was £28,000,000, and in 1917 it amounted to £15,500,000. If you look at it in another way, for the years 1909 to 1913 the average profit per ton earned by the coalowners amounted to 11½d. per ton, whereas the profit they were earning in September, 1918, amounted to 3s. 6½d. per ton, or an increase of their pre-War profits by something like 270 per cent.
Our second objection to the Bill is that it makes no provision for controlling the industry beyond 31st August next. Unless some other measure is introduced there is no arrangement for running the industry beyond that date. I believe we have reached a stage in the development of the 340 industry when you must of necessity have some method of pooling the results. Otherwise, we shall have disaster in one of the most vital industries of the country. We have had a statement from the Prime Minister that another measure will be introduced shortly. That other measure provided in some way or another, according to the promise given, for continuing the control of the industry. We have had promises of that kind before, but they have not always materialised. I would rather have had the measure promised by the Prime Minister introduced, and then we should have known what the future of the industry was likely to be. It is just possible that all hostility to the Bill which we are now discussing would then have been considerably reduced, if not entirely removed. In the absence of that Bill, and with no knowledge as to the ultimate intentions of the Government, we have no alternative but to give the Third Reading of this Bill our strongest opposition, just as we have opposed it in all its stages.
§ Mr. HOLMES
I take this opportunity of congratulating the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Horne) upon his appointment as President of the Board of Trade. It has been said in all quarters of the House that his has been the most successful importation into the Government during the past year. He has won for himself, not merely by his ability, but by his geniality and tact, the goodwill of everybody in the House. I hope that he will not mind if, with great deference, I offer him one word of warning. He is following two men who have been in succession President of the Board of Trade, and history will probably recall, if history does recall these things, that they have been successful in their office. They were two men entirely different—one a man of great business ability and experience, and the other a man of high scholastic attainments; but, notwithstanding all these qualities, both of them have always gone wrong on coal. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman's fate will not be the same as theirs.
I must not again repeat the history of the coal industry during the past year as I did on the Second Reading, but I should like to refer to two points in which the Bill differs from the original Bill presented by the Government. When the 341 Bill was in Committee and there was no President of the Board of Trade the Parliamentary Secretary who was in charge was induced to accept an Amendment which should never have been proposed and should never have been accepted. In the original Bill the coalowners were to receive their pre-war standard of profits amounting to £22,000,000 and interest on increased capital which amounted to £4,000,000, making £26,000,000 as a certainty, providing that the profit was made in the whole industry. In addition, they were to receive one-tenth of the remaining profits, but it was provided that before arriving at the excess profits on which their one-tenth was to be taken the cost of the Coal Controller's Department was to be deducted. In Committee the hon. Member for St. Ives (Sir C. Cory), who, I am sorry to see, is not here to-night, proposed an Amendment by which the cost of the Coal Controller's Department would still remain upon the industry, but the charge was delayed until after the one-tenth payable by the coalowners was calculated. On the Report stage I tried to show that the effect of this was that the coalowners would obtain another £30,000, after allowing for Excess Profits Duty, Income Tax and Super-tax. They were to receive the minimum under the original Bill of £26,000,000, and of anything beyond that sum up to £30,000,000, and they actually obtained by this Amendment another £30,000. It was a twopenny halfpenny Amendment. It was not worth proposing. It was just as if the hon. Member was engaging a manager for one of his collieries, and offered him £1,000 a year, and the man said he was not prepared to take £1,000 a year, but he would take £1,001 5s. That is what this Amendment amounts to. It represents on the coalowners' profits one-tenth of one per cent. With the present atmosphere in the coal industry, charged as it is with dynamite. Amendments like this tend to show that the coalowners are after every halfpenny they can get. I am quite sure that the Amendment was proposed by the hon. Baronet without the consent, and not at the request of his fellow-coalowners, and the acceptance of such an Amendment on the part of the Government was a very great mistake.
Having criticised that Amendment, I want to bless another Amendment that was accepted. On the Second Beading I called the attention of the House to the 342 fact that certain colliery companies which were doing a large export trade had formed subsidiary companies and coal exporting firms, to whom they were selling their coal at a less price than they could obtain if they sold the coal directly to the foreigners. In that way they were intercepting the profits which would otherwise come into the pool. The Parliamentary Secretary, on the Committee stage, introduced into the Schedule these words:and where coal has been or is sold or delivered from an undertaking to a concern in which any owner, partner, or person engaged in the management or direction of the undertaking is directly or indirectly interested, the price to be brought into the accounts of the undertaking in respect of that coal shall be such as may from time to time be fixed by the Controller having regard to market price, and the decision of the Controller shall be final.That means that where these profits have been intercepted by these subterfuges the Coal Controller will be able to go after the profits and bring them back into the pool. I shall take a fatherly interest in this particular Clause, and in a few weeks I shall ask my right hon. Friend what progress he is making in carrying it out.
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ Mr. HOLMES
This Bill settles the manner in which the profits made in the coal industry shall be divided from the 1st April last year to the 31st August next. In view of the fact that fresh demands are being made for wages, based on the profits which presumably are being made in the industry at the present time, and having regard to the further fact that an announcement has just been made that a reduction in the price of bunker coal, which will cost over £20,000,000, is being made, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the actual facts concerning the profits of the coal industry should be made known. Up to the present we have only had estimates. We had estimates two or three times last year from the Board of Trade and the Coal Controller's Department. Then about Christmas Messrs. Alfred Tongue and Co. made a report which was printed and circulated. That again is an estimate. They have estimated the profits up to the 31st March, 1920. It is difficult to see how, if the estimate which he has made is correct, the Coal Controller can afford 343 to give over £20,000,000 away m the reduction of bunker coal. From the information so far officially before us there is nothing whatever to justify such a reduction.
The right hon. Gentleman has in the Coal Controller's Department every quarter the profit and loss account of every colliery in the Kingdom. They are supposed to receive them within two months after the expiration of the quarter. So presumably to-day the accounts for the last quarter of last year have been received from every colliery. The Coal Controller can now therefore draw up a complete combined profit and loss account of the whole industry for the year 1919. If that were done, if we were shown the total sales of coal, separating inland from export, and shown on the other side the total wages paid, the total cost of rent and rates, the total for pit wood, repairs and so forth we should have a complete account, supported in the first place by the auditors' of each company and in the second by the accountant in the Coal Controller's Department. Everybody would then see what was the actual result and not an estimated result of the working of the coal industry for the year 1919. I would suggest further that each quarter of this year should be treated in a similar way. By the end of August the President would be able to give us figures for the first quarter of this year showing again the figures on each side of the account, as I suggest should be done for last year. If that were done one would not have these disputes as to what are the actual profits of the coal industry. All of us would then be able to argue the thing out, not on what we thought the profits were, but on what had actually been accomplished in the industry.
The Leader of the Labour party a few minutes ago said that this Bill only goes to the 31st August, and one of the chief reasons why he and his friends objected to this Bill was that they did not know what the future of the industry was going to be. I want to support his request for an immediate Bill. One recognises the fact that coal control cannot possibly cease on the 31st August. If it did, the price of coal for domestic purposes in this country would go up to £4 or more per ton. No Government could stand such a state of affairs. If the price of coal is to be regulated, say domestic coal at one 344 price and export coal at another, Government control must continue. Beyond that we have the Prime Minister's promise made in August of last year that the Government would produce a Bill for the future of the whole industry. My last word would be this I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will produce his Bill as soon as possible.
§ Mr. SWAN
I support the objection to this measure, because I think that it will give rise to discontent. The Bill will hurl the community into a vicious, contentious, and inextricable labyrinth between wages and high prices. The attitude which we have adopted would not permit us to do anything else. This Bill, instead of bringing anything like contentment to our industrial community, the miners and the nation, would find them protesting against the manner in which the coal mines are conducted and the manner in which wages are being paid. It seems a strange policy, after the great and minute inquiry which took place, which resulted in the strong condemnation of the entire system adopted in the mines, that we should have a Bill of this character introduced without the smallest suggestion whereby the coal trade should be reformed, the output increased, and the life of the mining workers improved. We adopted an attitude in the early days of the War of urging the mine-owners and the nation, in order that we might keep the industries of the nation going, to keep down the cost of living and maintain the price of coal at a reasonable figure so that other industries should not be discouraged, and that there should be no opportunity of saying that, owing to the high prices of coal, they had been compelled to raise their prices. But here we have the vicious system to be perpetuated in the mining industry and reacting upon all the other industries of the community, which will compel other industries to increase the price of their commodities, will react upon the whole of the working classes of the country, and will compel them to ask for higher wages in order that they might cope with the cost of living.
All that will be due to the principle which is incorporated in this Bill. We had demonstrated by the Commission also that in five years the coalowners could absorb in profits far more than the capital they invested in the mines. In the old days we heard the wonderful tale of the 345 widow's cruse. But there is something more miraculous. The coalowners can eat their cake, and instead of it being smaller than before they will find it has increased in bulk. The profits of the coalowners before the War were between £12,000,000 and £13,000,000. Now they must have an increase guaranteed. At whose expense? The whole nation's. It is to be £26,000,000. The Commission demonstrated that on coke and by-products about £6,000,000 was made. We know that substantial increases in the prices of coke and by-products have enormously enhanced their profits, and I am informed that the profit on all by-products will be more than the pre-war profits of the coal-owners. That means that the coalowners will have a profit of between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000. With a great dearth of coal throughout Europe and the offering of substantial prices for export coal, we anticipate that there will be a huge balance to be distributed. The Government comes along with this Bill, and says that, because of the impecunious state of the coalowners, it is necessary to assist them with one-tenth of the huge balance of profits which is likely to be created. Can we expect to have peace in the industrial community? We believe that this is a deliberate attempt to provoke revolt among the miners. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is our opinion.
When we want the nation to view these great industrial questions in a constitutional manner, and in order that we might be assisted we get a Commission, which makes certain recommendations; if the recommendation of that Commission are brushed aside as if it had never been appointed, trouble is sure to follow. There has been a great outcry about nations violating their promises. We suggest that the time has come when the Government should try to honour its pledges in order to bring peace to the country. We have another grievance, and one which we think demonstrates the failure of the present system of private ownership of the mines. We have year by year the tragedy of toil in the mines. Every year on an average 1,370 lives are lost, and 160,000 are more or less seriously injured. No provision in this Bill is likely to diminish those figures. The only way by which this great total of casualties can be reduced is by adopting the policy and the findings of the Commission set up last year. No later 346 than this afternoon, in reply to a question, information was given as to the spread of a terrible disease known as nystagmus. I was told by the Prime Minister that owing to this terrible disease, which is rampant in the mines, during the last year for which there were statistics there were 5,992 victims in receipt of compensation, 3,218 for the previous year, and 2,774 in 1914. We who have had experience on our compensation committees and on arbitration committees where compensation is dealt with, know that since 1914 this disease has substantially increased. We believe that if the Government had not been so lavish in looking after the interests of the coalowners and if it had given consideration to the better ventilation of the mines, we should not be presented to-day with that huge total of men afflicted with nystagmus It represents a huge loss to the nation in output, and, what is more, we know that these men are permanently disabled, for once you get the disease it becomes chronic.
We must have a system of mining under which due consideration is given to life and limb, under which the health and efficiency of the miners are considered, and we must eliminate from the industry these vicious interests that are a menace to the nation and to the progress of civilisation. Last year we had a Bill introduced to prevent profiteering. This is a strange commentary upon profiteering. After we have been told that the profits of the coalowners were altogether in excess of what was reasonable, it is a strange way to deal with profiteering and to reduce the cost of living by guaranteeing a substantial increase of profit to the coalowners instead of curtailing that profit. Obviously, you are reducing the standard of the whole of the workers of this country by this guarantee. The Profiteering Act has been described as an Act to catch sprats and minnows and to allow sharks to go through. This Bill is a culmination of the policy which prosecuted the little shopkeeper and allowed the sharks to float away. It would have paid the nation to have carried out the Sankey Report instead of this measure, in order to deal with the housing requirements of the miners of the country. You are providing lavish profits for the mineowners but the miner has to go back to the same house accommodation where bathroom, recreation ground, nursing, bakehouse, work room 347 and sometimes death room, are all in one room. Then there is the sitting room upstairs because it is not high enough to stand in for most of the miners. Those are the splendid environments of the miners and still we speak of an A.1 population. An hon. Member reminds me that the miners have two bathrooms. They have, because when snow or rain comes they get it through the roof, and often they have to use every tin in the house to catch the leakage. "We have no scale in this Bill for "wet" pay for that work We had hoped that this Bill would have done something to improve the housing conditions and to introduce some amenities, but we have abandoned that idea. We have criticised the present system because we believe it is not economical, and we do not think it tends to a maximum of output either for domestic or export coal. The whole system of mine ownership is absurd, and any business man would ridicule it because of the many conflicting interests. I know that no one is more surprised than the mine managers that this Bill should be introduced and that nationalisation has been shelved. In the area in which I come from we have eight mines overlapping, and this Bill is going to continue that. If the Sankey system had been adopted two of those mines could have worked the whole area.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)
I would remind the hon. Member that on the Second Beading the whole problem is a proper subject for discussion, but on the Third Beading it is usual to discuss not what hon. Members think ought to be in the Bill but what is in the Bill.
§ Mr. SWAN
Instead of this Bill adding to the peace and harmony of the mining community and the welfare of the nation, it will continue a system which has been condemned by a Special Commission after minute inquiry.
§ Mr. LAWSON
It has been said that this Bill is extremely technical. Even those of us who have followed the mining industry in recent years and know something of the developments during the past year or two feel very great difficulty in understanding what this Bill "really does. That is not surprising when we find from 348 the statements repeatedly made by Ministers that it is very questionable whether they really understand the Bill in its entirety. It would be possible to quote from the Second Reading Debate and the Committee discussions to demonstrate that even those responsible for the Bill contradicted themselves from time to time. I think that we on this side have rendered a service, not only to the House, but even to Ministers and to the Government, in working upon thrashing out the details of this Bill. Out of the discussions there have come some very peculiar things. We were told on the Second Beading that this Bill gave the coalowners exactly what they would have got under the one and twopenny Bill. Sir Auckland Geddes told us that the one and twopenny Bill was going to give the coalowners £13,000,000, and we were told that that was what they were going to get by this Bill. We find, after some discussion on Second Reading and in Committee, that the £13,000,000 gradually works its way up to £22,000,000, and even then there is £4,000,000 more added to that for what is called new capital. It would be very interesting indeed to have some details about that new capital. The right hon. Gentleman who opposed the Bill gave us a personal illustration that had come under his own notice, and almost every Member on this side of the House could give other illustrations where reserves have been so used and the profits have been so manipulated that capital has been increased. As I said on the Report stage, it is simply capital under a new name, upon which we have got to pay interest out of that industry. This brings it up to £26,000,000, but as a matter of fact we discover that the total standards are not the total standards at all, for we are calmly told that this profit is simply profit upon coal. As the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan) has well said, the profits upon by-products are rapidly increasing, and it would not be out of the way to say that very soon the profits upon by-products will be equal to the profits upon coal.
An hon. Member drew attention to the fact that the price of bunker coal was going to be reduced. As far as I read that statement in the newspapers to-day, the coalowners in a certain district are claiming credit for a reduction in the price of bunker coal. I can understand 349 them being generous with somebody else's money. They have assured themselves of their own standards, and so they can afford to limit the pool that will otherwise come to the nation by reducing the price of bunker coal, and if that is not a proper interpretation, I shall welcome a correction from the President of the Board of Trade. We wish to put up our protest against this very flexible Clause, which makes it possible for the owner's profits to be extended to an almost unlimited degree. Indeed, the profits do not stop at £26,000,000, for there is an extra 10 per cent. that comes out of the pool profits, and altogether it would be to the public advantage, as well as to the advantage of this House, if we could get some real interpretation as to what are the financial obligations of the coalowners under this particular Clause. It seems to us, from the point of view of drafting, even if the sum we fixed in our Amendment on Report was too low for the coalowners, that the Government could have taken a lesson from the drafting of that Amendment and made this Bill more clear than it is at present. One of the things that we say, and that we will not cease to repeat, is that at least the public interest, and the interests of the workers in this industry, ought to have been taken into consideration when the profits were being fixed under this Bill.
We all remember the great masses of men who went out when the call came in 1914, and the marvel, not only of the people of this country, but even of the coalowners themselves, was that men went from homes that were not worthy of animals of the lower creation, let alone of men, and went from those homes to defend this country. They were told there was going to be a new country, and now they have come back to the old homes. Up to the present time neither the coalowners nor the Government have given anything like a definite guarantee that these conditions are going to be dealt with, and so, stage by stage, we have fought this Bill, and we intend to fight it, for the very simple reason that there is no great advantage to the public or to the workers in the industry. There is a great advantage to the coalowners themselves, and I want to say quite frankly to the Government that it seems to me that this kind of Bill marks and seals the compact which demonstrates the de- 350 claration that the Prime Minister has himself made, that he is out to defend the private interests and to fight the Labour party and the workers every time. I want to say that, in spite of all of the fine talk about improved conditions, some very serious things have got to be faced by the Government. I myself am one of a family of ten, and I got the earliest rudiments of my reading in a house of three rooms, where ten of us and the mother and father lived, supplied by a generous colliery company, a private limited company, which, because of its particular foundations, does not issue balance sheets. One can form one's own conclusions from what one knows of these collieries, but I am able to say that those houses were built fifty years ago, and the same company has built within the last ten years houses that were infinitely worse than the houses they built fifty years ago. I know that they send advertisements out and write articles, and we get the booklets ourselves telling us what some of the companies have done in the newer ventures, and we give them credit that here and there there has been a crude attempt; but even in those cases it has been nothing like proportionate to the opportunities that are before them, because of the great amount of wealth that is at their disposal in the form of coal seams of a fine quality and a valuable nature. So we say that the profits, instead of going to the coalowners to such an extent, ought to have been so modified that at least there was going to be a decent amount in the pool to deal with conditions. We also would ask a question concerning that Clause which deals with the coal control. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bridgeman) said on the Second Reading,To my mind the strongest and most valid objection that was taken to what I may call the 1s. 2d. Bill was that which was put forward by the hon. Member for the Ogmore Division (Mr. Hartshorn) when he said that as things stood control would entirely come to an end on the 31st March, and that no provision had been made for regulating the industry from that time onwards, and the time was so short it was hardly possible to arrange a scheme in that time. That objection we think we are meeting now by this Bill, which gives us to the 31st August, and by the undertaking given by the Prime Minister at the earliest possible moment to introduce another Bill for the regulation of the industry generally."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 17th February, 1920; Cols. 752–755, Vol. 125.]One of the things we would like to ask 351 the Government before we allow a Bill like this to go through is whether their new Bill is going to maintain the Coal Control. I think that is a fair question. I think it is worth while asking another question. Have the Government any guarantee that if they are going to preserve the Coal Control the owners are going to agree to the preservation of that Control?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that he must not go beyond this Bill.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I thought that was rather relevant, on account of the Clause which ends the Coal Control on the passing of this Bill. I have seen advertisements recently in which the coal-owners say that they demand, in the interests of the nation, that they should control their own business, like everyone else, under their expert direction. It seems to me to be almost beyond conception what will be the result of the ending of the Coal Control, and evidently from the advertisements we see, so far as the owners are concerned, they mean to end it. So we would like to know from the Government whether they mean to continue it in their new Bill, and whether they have any guarantee that the coal-owners are going to agree to that continuation. I am well aware that the Coal Control was not ideal, but with all its defects, if Government control were allowed to end, the results upon the industry would be tragic. Those of us who have taken part in the proceedings of the mining industry since the control was established can testify to the psychological change that took place with the establishment of the coal control. I have been, as a workmen's representative, in a colliery office. I have also sat opposite the coalowners on a district board, where we were never allowed to forget that we were workers' representatives and that we were workers. You may talk as much as you like about the bringing together of the workers and the owners, but there was ever the dividing line between us. One of the advantages of the control was that when we used to meet the Coal Controller we did sit there equally with the coalowners as citizens. We marvelled when the Controller suddenly ceased to call the miners' representatives together. We wondered 352 whether that was the first step towards dissolving control. The new Controller was appointed, and it seems to us that the Government for some time now has been trying to relieve itself of this particular organisation. We think if under control the owners had been continually called together and the workers' representatives had been taken continually into confidence, so that there would have been opened a mutual understanding between each section as well as the Government representative in the Coal Controller, there would have been a much improved spirit in the industry at the present time. Therefore we are very much concerned as to what is going to happen about the control under the new Bill.
Finally, I would say this, when there is a demand made for wages that is called syndicalism. The Prime Minister has given the Bolsheviks of this country their only show by continually referring to them. I believe this Bill, with the handsome present made to the coalowners, revealing a very clear compact between the Government and the coalowners, is going to give material for propaganda to the extreme section, for which the Government can blame itself. I know, of course, the Bill is going through, but we have done our best to make the House and Ministers understand what it means. We have done our best to make the country understand what it means, and I say it is going to hamper the consumer; it is going to hamper the industry; it is going to limit those far-reaching improvements that some of us really did hope would come some day. Therefore, because of these things, because we believe that it is a bad Bill; because it lays an undue financial burden upon the people of this country and upon the Industry; because it has revealed the fact that the coalowners, without due regard to the workers or the public interest, were prepared to get the last ounce and the last penny they could out of the industry. Because of these things I join with those who Have entered their protest against the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPENCER
The first observation I would like to make is that it is a remarkable thing, when a Bill of this kind is having its Third Reading, that so very few of the interested parties are present to 353 assist the Government. That certainly is very indicative of the fact that—so far as they are concerned—they at least are satisfied. I think it was Talleyrand who said that "speech was given to conceal thought." If Talleyrand had drawn this Bill it would have done him great credit, because there are very few Members of this House, and very few people outside, without a special legal training who can understand its provisions. We certainly did not get the kernel of this Bill until it had passed through several of its stages, and then it had to be made known by those who had had special association with the Coal Control. I want to congratulate the Government in at least giving some reality to one of the most brilliant metaphors of the Prime Minister. In addressing large gatherings, the Prime Minister very often has offered them a dish of rare and refreshing fruit. That is being translated into something like reality. Instead, however, of the general public getting the rare and refreshing fruit, it seems to me that the dish is going to those who are already rich almost beyond the dreams of avarice.
The Government is supposed to be the trustees of the nation. So far as this Bill is concerned, it reveals them, not exactly as trustees of the nation, but as the guardians of one particular section of the nation. They are supposed to be the national gamekeepers, but it looks as though they were rather on the side of the poachers; and this Bill reveals them in very, very undesirable company. Let us look at what the Bill contains as it comes before us. In the first place, the Bill makes provision for the continuation of the Coal Confirmation Act of 1918 up to August 31st of this year. The Government have promised to make some provision for dealing with coal control beyond that date. We are not, however, to-night dealing with the future intentions of the Government. We can only deal with those intentions as we find them embodied in this Bill. This limitation in itself is a very, very serious thing. If coal control came to an end on that date, we can hardly conceive the great calamity to the general public, and those actually engaged in the industry. Let us conceive for a moment that it has come to an end. The coal control to-day is arranged. There are certain regulations for pooling the profits. This admits of a national system for the 354 regulation of wages. That would not be possible at all but for the fact that you have national regulations. If this comes to an end on 31st August, it will certainly land the industry in such a state of affairs that either the wages of the miners must be rapidly decreased or the prices of the coal for inland purposes would suddenly and rapidly rise. I do not know whether the Government and the supporters of the Government consider that to be a very desirable thing. So far, however, as we on these Benches are concerned, we are not at all desirous to see coal prices in the country rising in the abnormal manner they would in the contingency to which I have alluded. That is one reason why we oppose this Bill.
The second reason is certainly a more trenchant reason because of the actual financial provisions of the Bill in relation to one section of the community. Let me approach this matter from the point of view of principle. A principle is bad, certanly, if it is not a principle that can be adopted by this House and applied to any other industry. It is bad for the nation that the Government should adopt a certain principle and seek to apply it to one industry, if they dare not make it of general application. The principle is this: that a certain industry is to be guaranteed certain standard profits—or rather nine-tenths of those profits—whether the industry actually makes them or not. If that is a good principle, certainly it would not be bad if applied to other industries, and it would not be bad if applied to the workmen. Is it a fair principle to guarantee one section of the community their profits over a certain period, and yet to deny the right to labour of the application of the same principle?
We certainly could not agree to the amounts that have been suggested by hon. Members who sit upon these Benches. It has been said more than once by an hon. Baronet—he is not conspicuous by his absence to-night, and it seems that he has received a little advice from his friends and that he will not transgress again in the same way that he did the other evening—that if the owners are going to receive increases in profits, the miners have received extraordinary increases in wages. He cited the fact that in 1913 they received in dividends about £18,600,000 and that the wages of the miners were approximately 355 6s. 4d. per ton, compared with something in the region of 12s. or 14s. now. He compared the pre-War standard with that which is proposed to be given under this Bill, and he put this forward as evidence that the miners have had a far greater advantage than the owners. If that be any evidence at all, it is evidence that the miners were not getting their due share in 1913 I am convinced that, if in 1913 any of the Conciliation Boards had approached the owners for an increase of wages, and had made the statement that they were receiving profits to the extent of £18,600,000, the owners immediately would have denied it in strong and emphatic language. Now, however, instead of attempting to make their profits in those bygone years look small, they are trying to keep them up for the purpose of extracting the largest amount of money. The owners are to be secured of nine-tenths of their profits, and, if some calamity overtook the industry—if there were a protracted strike lasting 10 or 11 weeks—it would not affect their profits. I venture to say that the country could not carry on if that principle were applied to all the industries.
It seems to us an extraordinary thing that this paltry sum of £125,000 should have been extracted by the colliery companies to swell the enormous sum which they are already going to obtain under this Bill. They certainly are going to obtain a very large sum, because they are fortunate in the fact that the years 1912–13 were exceptional years. If anyone will turn to the third volume of the evidence before the Royal Commission they will find that according to the representative of the owners the profits, including royalties, for a series of years were £11,700,000, and, if you deduct the amount of royalties, those profits put at the most liberal figure would not be over £7,000,000. They have the good fortune that in 1912–13 they made extraordinarily large profits, and when the War broke out and the industry was taken over by the Government in the interests of the nation, they made those the standard profits; but now they are not satisfied with their pre-War standard of profits, and they extract from the Government in addition a paltry sum of £125,000 and an indefinite sum of 10 per cent. if there be a margin of profit over and above the pre-War standard. 356 Where is the money to come from? It can only come from the British public, and It means that the cost of living must continually go higher and higher. The House, instead of being the trustees of the nation, seem to have arrived at the position when their policy is not merely to advocate the continuity of private enterprise, but to support private enterprise as against the rights and claims of the general public. That is manifest in the financial arrangement which has been made in connection with this Bill.
We who have constantly to appeal to the Government to adjust wages have a far more difficult task than the owners. I should be very ill-advised if I attempted to say anything in this House to-night, but to-day we have been meeting the Government, and I am afraid that our efforts have not been productive of a very great deal of good, though whether we have reached finality or not is another thing. We have found it extremely difficult to adjust the relationship between wages and prices, and it seems to us that the owners find it far easier to obtain from the Government satisfaction from a financial point of view. This Bill can only have this effect on the workmen, that so far as the owners are concerned, and those who are financially interested in mines, and whilst we have a form of control under which it is comparatively easy for the owners to receive a measure of satisfaction, the workmen can derive no satisfaction so long as there is a conflict between labour and capital.
The share of the owner is to be guaranteed whether the mines are productive or not and whatever transpires, but so far as wages are concerned workmen are not to be assured and they are not considered worthy of their hire. This can only have one effect; the more coal there is produced the more the owner is to receive. Besides the large sums I have already mentioned, provision is made for a further 10 per cent. for the owners, but so far as the workmen is concerned he has to be satisfied, not with a measure of security but with what he can extract by the force and power of his trade union. That is not satisfactory, and it would have been far wiser if the Government had confined the profits of the owners to a standard which might be considered fair and reasonable, and then they should have turned to Labour and said, "We have confined the owners' profits to a 357 fair, reasonable and equitable share, and so far as you are concerned we will treat you in the same spirit." That is not what the Government are doing, because they are simply lavishing upon the owners these profits; but so far as the workmen are concerned they are to be dealt with in a most niggardly way, and this must have, during the next few weeks, a very sad effect upon the minds of those who are the labourers in this industry.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
I only rise to ask two or three questions. I want to know if my hon. Friend who has just spoken is right when he states that no matter what happens in the industry nine-tenths of the standard profit is to be secured to the coalowners. Secondly, I want to know, if control comes to an end on the 31st of August, will that have the effect of doing away with the Coal Prices Limitation Act of 1916? The reason I submit that point is that the Coal Prices Limitation Act came into operation before the existence of the Coal Controller. Coal control only commenced really at the back end of 1916 for the South Wales area; and it came into operation three months later for the rest of the kingdom. Thirdly, is there anything in this Bill which secures to the miners the war wages they have already received? On two occasions' 1s. 6d. per day for those over 16 and 9d. for those under 16 were given by the decision of the Coal Controller. Supposing coal control lapses on the 31st of August, are those wages secured? I am bound to say that I have sought in vain in the Bill for any assurance upon that point.
Fourthly, what effect will de-control on 31st August have upon the payment of the Sankey wage? These are points which one submits with some degree of diffidence, but they are very important points, for the whole of the coal-mining industry. My hon. Friends who have spoken are certainly in the right when they speak of the gravity of the Bill submitted. It may be quite right, but if it conveys any wrong impression, and if the miners as a whole feel that they are not being fairly treated, and that greater concessions are being made to one side as against the other, nothing but mischief can ensue. I used to think myself fairly intelligent, and for many years I laboured under that flattering impression, but I have given it all up now. This is a Bill than which I have 358 never known a measure so difficult to understand; and in which there seems to have been a malicious deliberation in making it impossible to be understood by simple minds. I know it is a commonplace in Parliament in which I have never indulged to say that a Bill is badly drafted and shows an utter want of thinking out, and so on, but I defy any man in this House, even the Minister in charge of the Bill, to say that he understands it. There is not a coalowner, and there is hardly a lawyer who can say what is the real effect of any one Clause or Sub-clause, or what is the effect of the Schedules upon the conditions in the Clauses. It is the worst Bill I have ever known, and I say this without any malice against the Minister, because I think the compliment paid to him by an hon. Member who spoke earlier is very well deserved. But it is not his baby, and he ought not to be held responsible for such a malconception. I am sure the whole public and all who have to deal with one of the most troublous industries that the mind of man could ever conceive, will endorse my view when I say that we shall have infinite trouble over this Bill, because we do not know where it is leading or what is the tenour of its Clauses. If there was nothing else but this, I should vote against the Third Reading. I would like before sitting down to hear a statement from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill on these four points. First, are we to uderstand that no matter what happens in the industry nine-tenths of the average standard profits will be made up to the coal owners? Secondly, what will be the effect on the Coal Prices (Limitation) Act when control coms to a close on the 31st of August? Thirdly, what will be the effect of decontrol on the war wage granted on the two distinct occasions to which I have referred? And fourthly, what will be its effect upon the Sankey Award which came into existence on the 9th January last year? If the right hon. Gentleman will answer these four questions he will relieve the minds of some of us, although he may not take us into the Lobby with him.
I want to call to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman one of the by-products of this Bill, and to make a suggestion to him with regard to the power which he will have to exercise under it. I take the liberty first, however, to congratulate him upon his 359 appointment to the important office of President of the Board of Trade, and on his passage from the troubled waters of the Labour Ministry to the more placid waters of that Board. With this coal difficulty to face it may be suggested he is jumping from the frying pan into the fire, but I hope that that will not prove to be the case. I hear that the price of bunker coal has been reduced by £2 per ton, and the right hon. Gentleman will have to deal with certain grievances arising out of that. I want to make sure that he will see to it that the advantages derived from that concession shall not go entirely to the shipowner, but that the public shall have some of it secured by his administration of this particular aspect of his duty.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are not discussing the administration of the Board of Trade. The question before the House is the Third Reading of this Bill.
I only wanted to suggest that under this Bill the right hon. Gentleman could get a more efficient coastal service, but I anticipated I would be out of order in so doing.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
The question we are now considering is the Third Beading of this most pernicious Bill. I believe it to be a Bill wholly unjust. It is not fair either towards the general public or towards the miners. It is going to give the coalowner such a place in the industry that both the Government and the miners will be sorry that the Bill was ever introduced. We know something of the coalowners. We have met many of them, and it was a happy day when we came to meet the Coal Controller with equal rights as citizens with the coalowners. That was a complete change and it led to some business being done. I believe you are going to give the coalowners of this country a standard of profit which in the days to come, when prices may not be so inflated, they will stick to, and it will take the Government and the miners all their time to bring things back to the region of commonsense. This Bill proposes to give them £26,000,000, and the coalowners are people who will stick to it, whatever occurs. What are the main reasons for my saying that? I have met coalowners very often. I have tried to regulate with them the wages in accordance with the 360 profits in the industry in the district to which I belong, but they always insist that the very worst concern must be made to pay a reasonable profit before any wage can be guaranteed. That is the sort of thing which is calculated to make the miners think twice before they give way on such a Bill as this.
This Measure is unjust to the poor consumer. The people most needing relief are the very poor who cannot afford to buy coal. This Bill gives the coal, however, to the people who least need it. The miners, themselves, are in a very much worse position than they were prior to the War. There can be no doubt about that. It was suggested during the Debate on the Report stage that the miners were responsible for sending up the cost of living. No greater mis-statement could have been made. Our wages have always followed the price of coal. We have had to leave it in that way all along the line, but we have an earnest desire that the people should benefit by any reduction or by any surplus money coming into the pool rather than that it should go to the coalowners who are already doing so well. We are asked to give an additional £4,000,000 for new capital. I should like to see how some of that money has been spent. I am pretty well acquainted with the mines in my own county. A good deal of additional expenditure has been incurred since pre-war days, and there has been a good deal more spent in the last five years on the mines than formerly, with the result that the coalowners are in a position to make better profits. But much of that money undoubtedly should have been paid to the Exchequer in the form of Excess Profits Duty, and in that way the people of this country might have had some advantage out of it. This Bill is fraught with trouble to any Government that may succeed the present administration. Coalowners will hold the position which this Government is creating for them. It cannot be said that they did badly before the War. It is impossible to take any other view when it is remembered that a coalowner bought up a mine in one year, and in less than two years paid the whole of the purchase price out of the profits. That has happened more than once. My Leader quoted a case of bonus shares. I have even worse cases in my mind. There is one in my own county where a very rich company has not only given £1 bonus 361 per one share, but two bonus shares for every £1 invested in the company. That company paid 35 per cent. last year. It has paid as high as 75 per cent., I believe, and we are asking what capital there is left. That is the sort of thing the coal-owners have been doing all along the line, and the Government will have to suffer in the future. I plead with the Government, at this last hour of this Bill, to withdraw it and let us have a measure which will give justice, not only to the miner, but to the consumer, and equal justice to the coalowner. I have pleasure in supporting the rejection, and I hope the Government will withdraw the measure.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir R. Horne)
I should like, in the first place, to express my acknowledgment of the far too generous compliment which has been paid to me by several hon. Members to-night in relation to the new appointment which I now hold. I say quite frankly that I owe a great deal to the lenient and amiable way in which hon. Members opposite have always looked upon my short-comings. I venture, on the present occasion, to express my very great gratitude for the consideration they have always shown to me.
The hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Holmes), in referring to myself, ventured to warn me of the difficult character of the problem we have to deal with in the coal industry I am fully conscious that its difficulties are very great. The legislation of war-time has greatly increased the ordinary troubles which arose in the coal industry, and the situation in which we find ourselves to-day is far from an easy one. At the same time, I am not without some hope that I shall be able to do a little towards the solution of some of its difficulties. After all, if there is any industry which I know, it is the coal industry. I was born and reared in a raining community, and there is one thing in which I hope I shall never be wanting, and that is sympathy towards the men who work in the pits. I have grown up amongst them, and my sympathies are always engaged by those old attachments. It is too much for any man to hope that he is going to wave a wand and get rid of the difficulties in the coal industry at once. There is, however, one thing which, at least, I can say with great sincerity, and that is that nothing shall be wanting on my part to make the situation 362 as easy as may be possible from the point of view of any person who can wield any authority in a Government Department.
A certain amount of misapprehension has, I think, been displayed to-night as to the precise thing which we are discussing. The present Bill is called an emergency measure, and, in truth, that is what it is; but it has been discussed, to a certain extent, as if it were a measure which was going to deal with this matter on some sort of final and ultimate principles. It does not do anything of the kind its whole intention was to put upon a proper basis the earnings of the coal industry from the 1st April, 1919, down to the 31st August of this year. What is to happen thereafter is an entirely different question. I recognise that queries have been put to me from time to time from the opposite Benches as to what we are to do when the effect of this Bill comes to an end. I agree that we must have a plan, and that plan has already been prepared, and is under discussion. It has not been put in an absolutely final state, but I can assure the House that it will not be long before the Government's scheme for dealing with the coal industry, when this Bill comes to an end, will be before it for consideration. It would be improper of me to answer questions to-night as to what the particular Clauses of that measure will contain. Obviously, that would lead now to a Second Reading discussion of the proposals in a Bill which is not yet before the House. I am sure it would be entirely out of order, and would not be in any way expediting matters.
Confining myself to this Bill as we find it, I would venture to answer briefly some questions which have been put to me. I do not propose to go over the whole ground, because much of the discussion was concerned with points which were considered at some length and more laboriously on one of the evenings of last week. Other parts of the discussion dealt with points which were really thrashed threadbare in the Second Reading Debate. There are, however, one or two paints with which I think it is my duty shortly to deal. I was asked, for example—and about this there seems to be a misapprehension—whether this Bill really gives the coal owner, under all circumstances and whatever happens, nine-tenths of the standard profit. The answer to that ques- 363 tion is in the negative. It is quite distinctly provided that the kind of occasions which give rise to his losses, or to his failing to reach the standard, must be considered from the point of view of whether they are the result of control, and, if they are not, he is not entitled to make up for losses which are brought about by any other cause. I was asked what the effects of decontrol were to be upon various matters—War wages, the Limitation of Prices Act and the Sankey Wage, So far as the Limitation of Prices Act is concerned, that has already come to an end, and what is now happening is not in any way affected by that Act.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what brought that Act to an end?
§ Sir R. HORNE
My impression is that it was intended only to apply for a specific period, but I am not perfectly certain; or it may be that it was brought to an end by the subsequent Act which dealt with the agreement. At any rate it is at an end. I notice that my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Hartshorn) does not agree with me.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
It was not at an end when the 6s. was added, and it was not at an end when the 10s. was taken off. That was done under the powers conferred upon the Board of Trade by that Act.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I will not venture to dispute what my hon. Friend says, because I know he is a great authority on these matters, and I confess I am new to these particular considerations. I was, however, under the impression that the Limitation of Prices Act was at an end, and that what is happening now is effected by what the Controller is able to do in the exercise of his office. I am told that the Coal Prices Limitation Act comes to an end six months after peace. The passage of this Bill does not in any way, as it appears to me, affect decontrol. The situation with regard to control is that it must either be continued by other legislation or come to an end. The whole point as to de-control will be determined by the Bill which the Government is about to produce. This Bill, as I take it, will not in any way by itself deal with de-control. It deals only with 364 matters which are the subject of its provisions, namely the profits which the coal-owners are to get up to 31st August next. But that does, not determine whether control is to last over 31st August or not.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
The one point which was being urged, and which if it was being truly urged would have a great impression upon the public mind, was that when control came to an end on 31st August inland prices, which are still regulated by the prices fixed in the Coal Limitation Act, would bound up to an enormous height if such an Act were rot to be in force. The conditions made under the Board of Trade Orders are still upon prices fixed in the Coal Prices Limitation Act, and that Act is still in force and therefore prices would not bound to the enormous height that many people thought they might.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The hon. Member must not take it that control comes to an end on 31st August of necessity. That question will be determined by the subsequent Bill which the Government is going to introduce. It was suggested that payment would be made to the coal-owners under this Bill in respect of watered capital. So far as I understand the terms of the Bill—it is a very difficult Bill to understand—nothing can be paid upon watered capital at all. The allowances that are made for increases made from the returns for Excess Profits Tax, and that matter is watched by the Inland Revenue, who have very careful rules for the prevention of people obtaining back some of their Excess Profits Duty in respect of watered capital. It is only if yon can show that actual capital has either been left in the industry or newly expended that you may induce the Inland Revenue Authorities to recognise any claim, and accordingly, whatever the facts may be—and there are many occasions when companies have given bonus shares—no manipulation of that kind can increase under this Bill the amount which any coalowners will be able to attain in respect of expended capital. The hon. Member (Mr. Holmes) asked that some arrangement should be made whereby the actual profits earned would be definitely shown by the Coal Controller. The very thing which he said was so desirable, and which he would like to see arranged, is specifically provided for in the second Schedule, under which 365 it is stipulated that in each quarter the Coal Controller shall make up a statement of the profits actually earned during that quarter.
Now I turn to some observations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adamson). He made a comparison between the profits which were allowed to the owners under the Bill and the average profits which they earned during 30 years before the War. It is obvious that that cannot be a fair comparison, because you had during those 30 years a developing trade. It was not as if you had a thing which had come to its full growth 30 years ago, and were comparing it with the present day. You have only to look at some figures to see how unfair that comparison would be. If you go back 10 years before the War, during that period 300,000 more men actually came into the industry, and more have come in since. So that what has been going on is an expansive development of the trade, which I hope has not even now reached its zenith, and will expand further. He also used a figure of coal owners' profits which I could not recognise. He said they are now on an average 3s. 6d. a ton.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I was simply meeting an argument used by the hon. Baronet (Sir C. Cory) on the Report stage. He was making a statement as to the enormous increase in miners' wages, and I was comparing the profits that had been earned by the owners during that same period, and I said they were earning 3s. 6½d. per ton. in September, 1918, which was an advance of 270 per cent. over the pre-War profit earned.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am not able to meet the right hon. Gentleman upon the question of what was actually being earned in September, 1918, but I do not think he will find any period of a year in which, even in the best of recent times, the coal-owners have on an average been making 3s. 6d. per ton. I certainly cannot find any figures of that sort; which the right hon. Gentleman can rely upon.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
Every year during the War.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I cannot find any figures of that kind. The figure I have seen is much more nearly approaching 2s. 2d. than 3s. 6d.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
If you get the figures up to date you will find it.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I shall be glad to do that. I turn to two considerations which seem to me to be larger than those with which we have been dealing, It has been asserted that the coalowner has been far too well dealt with under this Bill. That is the gravamen of the attack which has been made on it. If you make a comparison with other trades, I do not think you would be able to urge that argument with the same confidence as it has been stated. For example, it may be that all trades should be reduced. That is an entirely different argument, and one which one would meet in its proper place. But look at the comparison between the way in which the coal trade is treated and other trades are treated by the ordinary legislation of the country at present? In any other trade 40 per cent. of the excess profit is taken by the State and the trader is left with 60 per cent. What happens to the coal-owner under this Bill? All he has left, under any circumstances, in addition to his pre-war profit, is 10 per cent. of the surplus, after the standards have been dealt with. The standards for the coal trade are fixed upon precisely the same principle as they are fixed for every other trade in the country. The other trader takes 60 per cent. of his excess profits after his standards have been realised. The coalowner, under this Bill, can never take more than 10 per cent. after his standards have been realised. You cannot gay that the coal trade is being too generously treated in this manner. If so, then the treatment meted out to every other trade in the country is immensely more so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That may be an argument for dealing with all industries in a different way, but, at any rate, when we are dealing with this particular Bill, it does not found any justification for the plea that we are dealing too generously with the coal trade as compared with any other trade.
What is the alternative to this Bill? That is what we have to consider. Another Bill was produced but it was not too generously dealt with by hon. Members opposite. The only alternative now to this Bill is to carry on with the previous provisions of the Control Agreement. Look for a moment at the difference 367 between what happened under that arrangement and what will happen under this Bill. If the control agreement was to persist the coalowner would under its provisions be able to take 15 per cent. of his surplus instead of 10 per cent. The situation is far better for him than that, and worse for the State. In every case where a coalowner who is selling for export is obtaining large profits he would get 15 per cent. of his excess profit out of the large amount gained by selling at those very high prices, and the burden would be left upon the State to make up to the standard the losses which were incurred by all the other coal traders in the country. Under this Bill you do something totally different. You really pool the profits of the industry. You do what my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Adamson) says is an absolute necessity in the coal trade. You look at the things as a whole. You say that those who are making large profits shall do something for the pits where losses are being incurred. That is what we have done in this Bill. It then pro-
§ vides that the coal trade, as a whole, shall only take 10 per cent. of the surplus over its standard profits. We estimate that the difference between these two arrangements has the result that by this Bill the State is saved ten million pounds. It will cost ten million pounds more to continue under the old arrangement than to carry on under this Bill. That is something which is worth achieving. I predict that, so far from this Bill providing, as has been suggested, a cause of great difficulty, it will, while it remains in operation, remove causes of trouble. It at least settles upon a fair basis the coal industry of this country up to the 31st August of this year. It is not in any way a permanent arrangement. We have plenty of time to look about us. The new Bill will be a determining factor in regard to the future of the industry as a whole. On the ground of the considerations which I have urged I now ask the House to give this Bill the Third Reading.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 163; Noes, 43.369
|Division No. 70.]||AYES.||[10.7 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Edge, Captain William||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||King, Commander Henry Douglas|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Foreman, Henry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Forestier-Walker, L.||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lioyd-Greame, Major P.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Lonsdale, James Roiston|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Gardiner, James||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Glimour, Lieut. Colonel John||Lowther, Lt.-Col. Claude (Lancaster)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lyie, C. E. Leonard|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Lynn, R. J.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)|
|Britton, G. B.||Greig, Colonel James William||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')||Macmaster, Donald|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Mason, Robert|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hanna, George Boyle||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Morison, Thomas Brash|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Murray, Lt.-Col. C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Casey, T. W.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Hinds, John||Nelson, R. F. W. R.|
|Clough, Robert||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Oman, Charles William C.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Parker, James|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Hurd, Percy A.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Rae, H. Norman|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Daiziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Jameson, J. Gordon||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Jeilett, William Morgan||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jesson, C.||Renwick, George|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Johnson, L. S.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Johnstone, Joseph||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Rogers, Sir Hallewell||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)||Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.|
|Royden, Sir Thomas||Taylor, J.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Seddon, J. A.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell. (Maryhill)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon John||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Waddington, R.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Wallace, J.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Walters, Sir John Tudor||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Simm, M. T.||Watton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)||Wood, Major S. Hill. (High Peak)|
|Stanier, Captain Sir Beville||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Stanton, Charles B.||Waring, Major Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Capt. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmen, J. Stanley||Sexton, James|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Irving, Dan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bromfield, William||Lawson, John J.||Spencer, George A.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lunn, William||Swan, J. E.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Donnelly, P.||Myers, Thomas||Tootill, Robert|
|Finney, Samuel||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Redmond, Captain William Archer||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. Nell|
|Harbison, Thomas James S.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Maclean.|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.