§ Section nine of the Act of 1917 shall be amended as follows:—
(ii) For the words in Sub-section (1) from
(b) that for the purpose of" to "as the case may be," both inclusive, there shall be substituted the words—
(b) that the owner of land in the occupation of a tenant has unreasonably neglected to execute the necessary repairs (not being repairs which the tenant is liable to execute) to any buildings on the land being repairs required for the proper cultivation or working thereof,
may serve notice, in the case of neglect by an owner to execute repairs, on the owner requiring him to execute the necessary repairs within such time as may be specified in the notice, and in any other case on the occupier of the land requiring him to cultivate the land in accordance with such directions as the Minister may give for securing that the cultivation shall be in accordance with the rules of good husbandry or for securing such improvement or change as foresaid in the manner of cultivating or using the land, as the case may be":
§ (iii) For the words in the proviso to Subsection (1) "or whether it is undesirable in the interest of food production that the change should apply to any portion of land included in the notice" there shall be substituted the words "or whether the production of food on the land can be increased in the national interest by the occupier by means of such an improvement or change as aforesaid or whether the repairs required to be executed are necessary for the proper cultivation or working of the land, or whether the time specified in the notice for the execution of such repairs is reasonable":
(iv) The following new Sub-sections shall be inserted after Sub-section (2):—
(2A) Where a notice other than a notice under paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of this Section has been served under this Section on the occupier of any land requiring him within a time specified in the notice to execute some work in connection with the cultivation of the land and that person unreasonably fails to comply with the requirements of the notice, he shall be liable on summary conviction in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds and to a further penalty not exceeding twenty shillings for every day during which the default continues after conviction:
§ Provided that—
- (a) proceedings for an offence under this Sub-section shall not be instituted except by the Minister; and
- (b) the Minister shall be entitled, notwithstanding that proceedings have been instituted under this Sub-section, to execute any work specified in the notice, and to recover summarily as a civil debt from the person in default any expenses reasonably incurred by him in so doing, and the right to institute any such proceedings shall not be prejudiced by the fact that the Minister has executed the work specified in the notice":
§ "(2B) Where a notice has been served under paragraph (b) of Subsection (1) of this Section on the owner of any land requiring him within a time specified in the notice to execute repairs and the owner fails to comply with the requirements of the notice, the Minister may authorise the tenant to execute the repairs, and a tenant so authorised shall be entitled to execute the repairs accordingly and at any time after the repairs have been executed to recover from the owner the costs reasonably incurred by him in so doing, in the same manner in all respects as if those costs were com- 1604 pensation awarded in respect of an improvement under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908":
§ (v) For the words in Sub-section (3) "make such order as seems to them required in the circumstances, either authorising the landlord to determine the tenancy of the holding, or determining the tenancy by virtue of the order" there shall be substituted the words "by order determine the tenancy of the holding or of any part thereof":
(vi) The following new Sub-section shall be inserted after Sub-section (3):—
(3A) Where it is represented to the Minister by an agricultural committee that the owner of any agricultural estate or land situate wholly or partly in the area of the committee, whether the estate or land or any part thereof is or is not in the occupation of tenants, cultivates or manages the estate or land in such a manner as to prejudice materially the production of food thereon, the Minister may, if he thinks it necessary or desirable so to do in the national interest, and after making such enquiry as he thinks proper and after taking into consideration any representations made to him by the owner, by order appoint such person as he thinks fit to act as receiver and manager of the estate or land or any part thereof:
§ Provided that—
- (a) an order made under this Sub-section shall not, except where the person appointed by the order to act as receiver and manager of the estate or land is appointed to act in the place of a person previously appointed under this Sub-section, take effect until a period of six months has elapsed after the date on which notice of the order having been made was given to the owner of the estate or land, and the owner may at any time during the said period appeal against the order to the High Court in accordance with rules of court, and where any such appeal is made the order shall not take effect pending the determination of the appeal; and
- (b) an order made under this Sub-section shall not, except with the consent of the owner, extend to a mansion house, garden, or policies thereof, or to any land which at the date of the order forms part of any park or of any home farm attached to and usually occupied with the mansion house, and which is required for the amenity or convenience of the mansion house; and
- (e) the order shall not operate to deprive any person, except with his consent, of any sporting rights
1605 over the estate which do not interfere with the production of food on the estate; and
- (d) any person appointed to act as receiver and manager of any agricultural estate or land under this Section shall render a yearly report and statement of accounts to the owner or his agent and to the Minister;
- (e) the powers conferred by the foregoing provisions shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any other powers conferred on the Minister under this Section:
§ The Minister may by an order made under this provision apply for the purposes of the order, with such modifications as he thinks fit, any of the provisions of Section twenty-four of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, 1881, which relates to the powers, remuneration and duties of receivers appointed by mortgagees, and authorise the receiver to exercise such other powers vested in the owner of the estate or land as may be specified in the order and may be reasonably necessary for the proper discharge by him of his duties as receiver and manager:
§ Provided that the receiver and manager shall not have power to sell or create any charge upon the estate or land or any part thereof except with the consent of the owner or with the approval of the High Court obtained upon an application made for the purpose in accordance with rules of court":
§ (vii) In Sub-section (4) for the words "if within throe months after the Board have entered on any land the person who was in occupation of the land at the time of the entry so requires" there shall be substituted the words "if within one month after the Minister has entered on or appointed a receiver and manager in respect of any land the owner of the land so requires"; and for the words "person so previously in occupation" there shall be substituted the word "owner":
§ (viii) In Sub-section (9) the words "in respect of which any notice is served or order made under this Section or" shall be repealed, and after the word "section," where that word last occurs, there shall be inserted the words "in that behalf":
(ix) The following new Sub-sections shall be inserted after Sub-section (10):—
(11) For the purposes of this Section the rules of good husbandry shall include—
Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall be taken to impose upon a tenant the obligation to maintain or clear drains, dykes, embankments, or ditches where such maintenance or clearance is prevented by subsidence of the land or the blocking of the outfalls which are not under the control of the tenant, or to make a tenant liable for such maintenance or clearance of drains, dykes, embankments, or ditches, or the maintenance or repair of fences, hedges, and gates, where such work is not required to be done by him under his contract of tenancy or the custom of the country."
(12) Where the Minister is satisfied that there are injurious weeds to which this Sub-section applies growing upon any land he may serve upon the occupier of the land a notice in writing requiring him to cut down or destroy the weeds in the manner and within the time specified in the notice, and where any such notice is given the provisions of Sub-section (2A) of this Section shall, with the necessary modifications, apply as if the land were land which was not being cultivated according to the rules of good husbandry, and as if a notice had been served on the occupier under Subsection (1) of this Section.
The expression 'occupier' in this Sub-section means in the case of any public road the authority by whom the road is being maintained, and in the case of unoccupied land the person entitled to the occupation thereof.
Regulations may be made under this Act for prescribing the injurious weeds to which this Subsection is to apply.
Amendment proposed, in paragraph (ii), in lieu of paragraph (b) left out, to insert the words
(b) that the production of food on any land can in the national interest and without injuriously affecting the persons interested in the land be maintained or increased by the occupier by means of an improvement in the existing method of cultivation or by the use of the land for arable cultivation; or
(c) that the occupier of land has unreasonably neglected to execute thereon the necessary works of maintenance being, in the case of land occupied by a tenant, works which he is liable to execute under the conditions of his tenancy or rendered necessary by his act or default; or
(d) that the owner of land in the occupation of a tenant has unreasonably neglected to execute thereon the necessary works of maintenance, not being works to which the preceding paragraph applies."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, to leave out paragraph (b).—[Lieut.-Colonel Spender Clay.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'and' ["national interest and"], stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
When the Debate was adjourned a few nights ago there had been a long discussion on this Amendment, in which the Government sought to reinstate the very drastic powers for the control of cultivation, especially as regards compulsory ploughing up of grass land, which were eliminated in Committee. The general agricultural opinion throughout the House with very few exceptions, showed itself throughout the Debate to be hostile to the Government proposal, and I cannot help hoping that in the interval which the right hon. Gentleman has had to consider the Debate he may have come to the more reasonable view of realising that the strongest and best and most moderate agricultural opinion is against him, and that this provision is bound to be detrimental, not only to the Bill, but to the agricultural interest. We do not object to the State endeavouring to secure good husbandry and good cultivation, but I strongly object, and I think the bulk of agriculturists object, to any system by which the State can enforce, through Committees which may be interested, a complete change of cultivation. That is to be done now without any compensation, and it is claimed that it can be, and should be, done, and that the State has a right to demand it, in view of the guarantees which have been given. The State has no right whatever to demand a quid pro quo for the guarantees which were given for wheat growing. That was done for the benefit of the country, and it was done to maintain the wages of the agricultural labourer, and the country has no right to demand any conditions in com- 1608 pensation. I am prepared to admit, and I think everyone will who takes a reasonable view of the matter, that the country, in view of the fact that land is limited, has a right to demand that no land should be wasted. The country has a right, on general principles, to demand that cultivation should be good. That we concede, but beyond that we are not prepared to allow the Government to go if we can prevent it, and I certainly propose to vote against them on this Amendment. No man can prescribe what is best for another man's farm, and it is no use for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us there is no injustice in this connection, because there is always an appeal to an arbitrator. Anyone who understands agriculture knows that, however expert the arbitrator, if he is a stranger to the land he cannot have as good an opinion of the effect of a certain cultivation on certain portions of a man's farm as a man who has had experience of the farm for 10 or 20 years, and perhaps has the experience of many generations behind him. Everyone who has real expert knowledge of agriculture knows that that is so. That I believe to be the moderate and general opinion of all agriculturists in the House with very few exceptions.
The hon. Member who has now moved the rejection of the Amendment voted for the Government in the Committee. Several others, to try to help my right hon. Friend, who has been so extremely courteous in the Debate, flirted with a proposal of this kind in the hope of finding some way out, but we have all come back to the other view, and we have come to sec that this proposal, if he succeeds in putting it back into the Bill, will be absolutely fatal to the confidence of the farmer, which is the ostensible reason for the Bill. I think my right hon. Friend must realise that every day the opinion of farmers throughout the country is turning more strongly against the Bill, and this proposal of his is one of the chief reasons for that. Two things that the farmer dreads are State control, ignorantly and perhaps unfairly exercised by a prejudiced Committee, and, in addition, of course, the possibility of losing his farm. One of these things my right hon. Friend is proposing to rivet on him permanently, and the farmer has no great faith in the guarantees. He does not believe they will last very long. But on this point that we are discussing 1609 he holds very strong views indeed, and no one who went through the ploughing-up campaign during the War can fail to know that you cannot trust a Committee to be absolutely fair and without prejudice and without personal feeling in these matters. I shall certainly vote against the Amendment, and what is more, if it is inserted in the Bill it will have a very considerable effect in making, I think, the great bulk of those who really understand and are interested in agriculture vote also against the Third Reading. The Government may summon the Labour party from the smoking room, they may bring up their battalions of private secretaries and force their Bill through, but if they do that in violation of all the best agricultural opinion which can be brought to bear upon the Bill, and which is strongly opposed to him on this matter at present, if they force the Bill on the country and on the agricultural world, they will realise that they will be going a very long way to destroy the confidence of the farmer.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)
This very interesting and instructive discussion raises an issue of great practical importance which will have a very considerable bearing on the future of agriculture in this country. My hon. Friend who has just sat down has suggested that the Government are looking forward to carrying this proposition with the aid of the Labour party. I am afraid that if we depended entirely upon the Labour party in this House we should have a very poor chance of carrying this Amendment, and, certainly, if we did depend upon their votes I do not think I should have chosen Monday for the purpose of carrying such an Amendment. I trust the Government will get the support of all parties to this proposition, because it has not emanated from the Labour party, it has not emanated from the Liberal party, and I cannot say that it has emanated from the Conservative party as a party. It is a proposal that has been put forward by those who are concerned about the decline in agricultural prosperity in this country. It is the result of the Report of a Commission. It was recommended by the farmers on that Commission, and I think that the only people who did not subscribe to the proposition were the Labour Members of the Commission.
1610 Therefore, it is in no sense of the term a sectional demand. It is a demand which has arisen out of a very grave and very urgent national need which is above all interests and above all the views of any party in the State. I agree with my hon. Friends as to the general proposition that our principle ought to be as little interference on the part of the State with the natural course of trade and industry as is compatible with justice to the individual and the interests of the community. I belong to a profession which the State has thought it incumbent in the general interests to restrict and superscribe in every direction. It is a business where we have not been able to secure from the State, or anyone else, a minimum wage. The State has only been anxious to prescribe a maximum wage, beyond which we cannot go. Speaking as an old solicitor, I certainly have no liking for State interference. State interference means for my profession taxing our bill of costs. Therefore, I do not like it. I would prefer the principle of non-interference.
Why have we thought it necessary to introduce this Bill? It arose out of the conditions that were forced upon us by the exigencies of the great War. All those who were responsible for directing affairs during the War became very painfully conscious before it had proceeded very far that owing to the neglect of all parties in the State this country had been reduced to a condition where the starvation of its population was a temptation to a foreign Power assailing it. We only produced enough wheat in this country for something like one-fourth of the population if the harvest was good, and less than that if the harvest was an average one. That was a temptation to a foreign enemy that was attacking us to adopt methods that lead to starvation as a means of conquering this country. We whose food depended upon what we could bring across the seas were attacked by a hidden foe, and at one moment we were threatened with starvation. The policy of increased food-production began then. We found it necessary to decrease our imports as a means of national security, and to increase above all, our food supplies. There was a second discovery as a result of the War, and that was that there was a smaller percentage of able-bodied men 1611 fit to defend their country in Great Britain than in any enemy country. That is an avowal which ought to make us pause, because it is not merely a question of defence but a question of the health, of the fitness of the population. Our figures showed a smaller percentage of fit men than in any belligerent country. Side by side with that we found that agriculture, the healthiest of all occupations, had gone down by hundreds of thousands. Whereas fifty years ago you had something between one-third and one-fourth of the population of Great Britain—I am not speaking of Ireland—working in and around the land, when the War broke out you had something between one-ninth and one-tenth only of the population on the land. It was not merely that the population engaged in agriculture had not increased in proportion to the rest of the population, but there had been a decrease by hundreds of thousands of those actively engaged in that occupation, and that meant a decrease of the population on the land by something like 3,000,000. Where have they gone? They have gone from the healthiest, the soundest of all occupations, an occupation which is the basis of all prosperity, and the basis of security for this nation, into trades which depress the physical vitality of the people, under conditions that wear out nerve, heart and soul. That is what had happened in the course of fifty years That is what the War brought home to us.
I have referred to food production. I wonder how many there are who realise how much food we import now. I do not mean the food that you can only grow in tropical climates, but food which the soil and climate of this country are capable of producing. I do not say that even with the best of cultivation you could produce it all—that is not my argument—but you could produce a good deal of it. Last year we imported into this country for consumption—I have deducted what we re-exported—£500,000,000 worth of food which this soil and this climate are capable of producing. That is at a time when the foreign exchanges are against us, and when the fact that we have to buy so much means that when we do export more expensive things our sovereign is so depressed in the markets of the world that it cannot look the 1612 American dollar straight in the face. If you want the British sovereign to look the dollar or any other denomination of coin straight eye to eye, you will have to increase production, and, above all, to increase the production of food. It is a national weakness, it is a national folly, it is a national scandal that £500,000,000 worth of food should have to be imported into this country when its soil is capable of producing more. If any man who knows agriculture is prepared to get up in this House and to say that Great Britain cannot produce more food, then, I agree, there is no case for this Bill. Any man, on the other hand, who believes that Britain can produce substantially more food, is bound to support every proposal, however drastic, which insists upon increased production, because the security of this land depends upon the increase of agricultural production. That is the justification for this Bill.
I come to the question whether increased production is possible. Take countries with the same soil as ours. Take Germany or Denmark. The soil of Britain, on the whole—I am talking of the cultivable area of Great Britain—compared with the cultivable area of Germany or Denmark, is better than that of Germany or Denmark. There is no man who examines the capabilities of Germany and Denmark and of this country who will not own that the soil of this country, taking it as a whole, is infinitely richer in natural capacity than that of either of those two countries. Does anyone say that the produce per acre in this country is comparable to that of cither Germany or Denmark? You have only to take some of the very remarkable figures that were incorporated in the Report of a very able Commission presided over by Lord Selborne when he was President of the Board of Agriculture. So far as I recollect, ho was the first Minister to press for this policy, and he pressed very hard for it. In order to show that it was not altogether representative of the Labour party, as my hon. Friend below the Gangway seems to apprehend, I will give a few names of members of the Committee who have not yet joined the Labour party. There are Lord Selborne, Chas. Bathurst now Lord Bledisloe—
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that any of these 1613 Gentlemen are in favour of the Amendment?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I suggest that the policy now incorporated in this Bill is the direct result of the report which they made. Other names are Charles Douglas, Ailwyn Fellowes, Fitzherbert-Brockholes—a leading Lancashire agriculturist—A. D. Hall, Rowland E. Prothero, Edward G. Strutt—one of the most scientific farmers. This is what they say, comparing the produce of 100 acres cultivated in Britain and in Germany:On each 100 acres of cultivated land, the British farmer feeds from 45 to 50 persons; the German fanner feeds from 70 to 75 persons. The British farmer grows 15 tons of corn; the German farmer grows 33 tons. The British farmer grows 11 tons of potatoes; the German farmer grows 55 tons. The British farmer produces four tons of meat; the German farmer produces 4¼ tons. The British farmer produces 17½ tons of milk; the German farmer produces 28 tons. The British farmer produces a negligible quantity of sugar; the German farmer produces 2¾ tons.I could quote figures as to what happens with regard to Denmark, but taking the number of people employed, in Germany you have 18.3 people engaged on every 100 acres of cultivated land; in Great Britain you have 5.8. That shows, from every point of view, that British agriculture has not reached the limit of its capacity, and it is essential, in the interests of national prosperity and safety, that some step—and that a strong step—should be taken to increase the productivity of the land, and the number of those who are engaged in this healthy occupation. It was in consequence of figures of that kind that the Selborne Committee made a recommendation that in order to increase production on the scale which we believe to be necessary it would be essential to increase largely the area of land devoted to arable cultivation. And they have got this remarkable passage:It must be explained to landowners, farmers, and agricultural labourers alike that the experience of this War has shown that the methods and results of land management and of farming are matters involving the safety of the State, and are not of concern only to the interests of individuals. They must be plainly told that the security and welfare of the State demand that the agricultural land of the country must gradually be made to yield its maximum production both in foodstuffs and in timber.1614 I remember the time that was taken by Lord Selborne over it. He examined the matter very carefully, with the assistance of these experienced associates, and that is the conclusion he came to. He came to the conclusion that it is necessary to give a guarantee to the farmer that would justify him in taking the steps necessary for the purpose of increasing the area of cultivation.
He pointed out, in addition to those things which I have already dwelt upon, that the acreage under arable had gone down by something like 4,000,000 acres in the course of 40 years in this country, and that from the point of view of what is essential to the State, agriculture was a declining industry. In view of the condition shown by the first test to which it was put, the State began to realise the peril, for which every party alike was equally responsible. While all this was going on, while every country in Europe, and in the world, was making gigantic efforts to increase its agricultural cultivation to maintain the population on the land, and if possible to increase the number of people engaged in cultivation of the land, all parties alike almost entirely neglected to carry out the measures necessary in order to secure what we found in 1915–16 and 1917 was essential to our national life and honour. We should see that we take heed from the warning received then, and take the necessary steps for the purpose of increasing the cultivation of the soil and the food supplies which are grown at our own doors. That is why we introduce this Bill. My hon. Friends say, "Give a guarantee." Neither the farmer nor anyone else will do his best until he has a sense of security. No trader will do it—I will come to that by and by—no business man will do it, and you cannot expect a farmer to do so. He has got risks which an ordinary trader has not got. He has got labour risks, and one knows what they have been during the last two or three years. But every business has got that risk. He has got the risk of foreign markets. Every business has got to face that risk. But he has got the risks of climate. I agree that under no guarantee that an Act of Parliament can give, will you be able to shield him from those risks, but it can save him at any rate from bankruptcy, as a result of responding to the appeal which 1615 the State makes to increase cultivation in the interests of all. Therefore, in spite of a great many difficulties which one's general attitude towards things involves, I found myself a convert to this Report, and supported the guarantee. I felt that the interests of the State were paramount, and that, although there was a great deal to be said against the State interfering to the extent of guaranteeing the produce of any particular trade or business, this was a matter concerning the life of the community, which justified us, if we were going to get increased cultivation and increased home production of food supplies, in going to the extent of guaranteeing this particular industry.
That amount of State interference my hon. Friends accept. It is certainly a very serious one for a very overburdened community like ours, but they will agree that we were justified in this. But has the State no right to impose any conditions to a liability of this very considerable character which it is prepared to take for years to come? I maintain that it has. My hon. Friends say "Appeal to the farmer, the landlord, the agent, the agricultural labourer. They will respond to your appeal, and they will increase the area of the arable land." I have no doubt of the patriotism of the agricultural interests, but what I doubt is whether you will get that regularly and systematically, not from some people, but from the whole body of agriculturists. Suppose you make your appeal, and a certain number of men respond handsomely; there may be others who will not respond so well, and some who will not respond at all. They have plenty of excuses, fairly good excuses. The labour market is a worry at the present moment. There is not merely the difficulty of getting labour, but there is the fact that the cost of labour has gone up enormously, and there is a grave inducement therefore to the farmer to pursue that form of agriculture which will make him less dependent upon labour than the form which makes him more dependent. Therefore, what would happen would be this. The man who would do well this year would say next year, "What is the good of my doing well? Look at my neighbours. I gave my full quota. That man gave three-quarters of his quota. That man gave two-thirds. That man gave no 1616 part of his quota." The result would be that your attempt to get it by voluntary means would break down completely. It is no use having this Bill unless you increase the area of cultivation in this country. What the House of Commons, if I may respectfully say so, has to decide is this: Is it worth our while as a nation making a great and a special effort to increase the home supplies of food, the food grown in this country? If you do think it worth while you can only do it by breaking up much more land than is now under the plough. There is no agriculturist who can challenge that proposition. I say that you cannot do that by any voluntary system except during a war when you get the tremendous pressure of an intense passionate concentrated national feeling. To attempt to do it in normal times when the farmer is labouring under abnormal difficulties is simply to attempt a complete failure. I say that, if you are going to carry out this Report, you can only do so by means of Parliament saying that powers must be given under proper safeguards and under fair conditions to compel the necessary cultivation such as you had in the course of the War. Apart from that, I venture to predict that there would be failure, and that would be a serious responsibility for the House of Commons.
I agree with my hon. Friend that farmers do not wish anyone to go round and tell them what fields they should break up. There is no part of the community which would resent it more than farmers. I know farmers well. I have lived amongst them for thirty years. They resent it from their agents. The popular agent is the agent who does not bother them. They do not like any interference, not even with those who are intimately associated with the land, and I know, therefore, the prejudice, the natural prejudice, the rooted prejudice, the hereditary prejudice, that they have against anybody who comes down and tries to show them how to conduct their business. All the same, this is of paramount national interest. Unless you have power of this kind it is no use passing Acts of Parliament on guarantees; it is no use passing Acts of Parliament saying you want to increase the cultivation of this country. You will not get it. Once it is demonstrated that by increasing 1617 the production the farmer himself benefits, then I agree it will be quite unnecessary to interfere. But as a means of starting and initiating this policy you must have a certain pressure by the county committees for the farmers to do so. I am making this appeal as one who realises intensely the dangerous condition to which this country was brought by at least half a century of the blindest, grossest, most stupid neglect of this great industry by all parties in the Slate—something which is incomprehensible now that we can look back. We are all equally culpable. The thing that matters is, not what we said when in opposition but what we did when we had the chance, whether we belong to the one party or the other? There is no doubt that, taking this country as a whole, agriculture has been more meanly treated than in any of the great countries of the world, and that has been a folly of the first magnitude. It may yet prove to be disastrous.
I should like to point out other dangers, and I hope I shall not be mistaken if I do. This country is a little top-heavy. The percentage of people on the soil is a small one. I have many a time discussed these things with Foreign Ministers, and they all said to me, "Well, this country is pretty safe. The bulk of our people are engaged on the land." It is difficult to discuss these problems, but it would be a mistake, a great mistake, to shut your eyes to that. The safe country is the country where you have a large percentage of the population engaged in the calmest, steadiest of all pursuits, a country where the vast majority of the people are in these avocations. If it begins to slide the peril increases. It is in the interest of the stability of Britain, not merely of its security against foreign peril, but in the interests of the security of society itself, that you should have a larger percentage of the population engaged in the cultivation of the soil. That is a bigger problem, but I should like men of all parties to think of that—of the difficulties of getting and of retaining men on the land. There is a very fertile passage in this Report: paragraph 19. It is worth reading. It is full of suggestions. If we want to make this country safe from external perils all those who are responsible, whether as Ministers, or 1618 as Members, or as guides, in Parliament or out of Parliament, for its future and for its destiny ought to think of the problem in such terms. Meanwhile, we suggest this as a means of encouraging a process which is essential to the strength and safety of this country.
§ Colonel MILDMAY
The intervention of the Prime Minister in the Debate has been deeply interesting and I should like to say a few words with regard to it. I wish first to say that I have sat continuously through the Debates on the Report stage of this Bill and so far have supported the Government in every Division, as I thought I was acting in accordance with the desires and wishes of my farmer constituents. But now I do not find myself at liberty to support this paragraph. With regard to the Prime Minister's address, incidentally he began by saying that, in his profession of the law they had no minimum wage but only a maximum wage. Unfortunately we have found that maximum wage pretty substantial when we have to deal with the legal profession. With the very greatest deference to the Prime Minister, I think he hailed to seize the nature of our objections to this proposal, and altogether failed to meet the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Lane-Fox), whose argument he left unanswered. He said that we must have increased production, and we agree. Does this particular provision mean increased production in the right sense? Unfortunately, as it seems to me, it means, I think, that the energy of the agiculturist will be directed in a wrong direction.
The Prime Minister's aims were admirable. He wants increased production, he wants more men employed upon the land. I think I may say we all want that, but we do maintain, we who throughout our lives have been familiar with agricultural conditions, that the Government, is going the wrong way to work. I myself am deeply concerned with the well-being of two agricultural estates, in Devon and in Kent: and it has always been my endeavour to keep in mind the view that the landlord and agricultural tenant are partners in the agricultural industry, and that the object of that partnership should be the highest and most efficient production. I have shown my anxiety, while this Bill has been under discussion, to treat the farmers generously. We all wish to do that, but here in this paragraph (b) is 1619 embodied a principle which regard for the interest of every class in the community compels me to oppose. Under it a farmer may be served with notice "requiring him to cultivate the land in accordance with such directions as the Minister in London may give." It is quite true, as the Prime Minister said, that, on the spur of the moment, and in a War emergency, compulsory powers were given to the Agriculture Minister to plough up grassland and that compensation was provided in eases where such an operation resulted in loss. Now it is proposed to make these powers of the Ministry permanent, and, to put it plainly, for it comes to that, to enable the Ministry to dictate to agriculturists how they should run their industry. That is a very different state of affairs from any other industry of the country. Would the Government dare to dictate to manufacturers what they should produce? It may be argued that it will not be Whitehall which will do this, and that the county agricultural committees will be the judges. It is quite true that the committees will be consulted, but, if the Whitehall official is cranky, and if he is one of those theoretical agriculturists whom we all dread, and whom farmers do not trust a yard, he can ignore the county agricultural committee. Honestly, and I think this must be admitted, farmers are aghast at the perpetuation of outside dictation as to methods of cultivation, and rightly so when we remember the costly mistakes which were made on all sides during the War in connection with the Ploughing Order. Many fields which were ploughed at that time were so unsuitable that it will take a very long time to get the land back into good heart again, and to bring it into the proper rotation of crops. To see what has happened breaks the heart of an owner of agricultural land who takes an interest and a pride, as he ought to do, in the efficient cultivation of the land he owns.
In Devonshire all our farms are comparatively small, and I think they do not average more than 160 acres. The farmers there compare favourably with any in England. They work very hard themselves, are not afraid to take off their coats, and put their hearts into the work. Practically they have security of tenure. On the estate with which I am connected there has been no notice to quit for over fifty years. That is 1620 nothing to boast of, as it is what is the case elsewhere. I maintain that those farmers, who have been brought up on the land, and who have studied the requirements of the soil in their particular localities, and who are familiar with the local climatic conditions—and there are great variation in climate and in soil at short distances within a county—understand a great deal better than any theoretical agriculturist in London how to make their own holdings most productive. They have got to depend on the land for a living, and you may trust them to grow the particular crop which will ensure the most productive return. We have heard a great deal about enlightened self-interest; enlightened self-interest will prompt them to extract that utmost return from the land which is so desirable in the national interest. In fact, the individual interests of the farmers and the national interests are, in this sense, and always will be, identical. Surely our experience during the War has taught us that the less any industry has to do with Government Departments the better. I think that even members of the Government would admit this, and that they are not anxious, I dare say, to interfere more than they regard as necessary. Representing an agricultural constituency, I have been taught by my constituents to dislike outside interference; but I do recognise that the enforcement by a superior authority of good husbandry in cultivation is another matter; for, if a farmer fails to keep his land clean, and allows it to be overrun with thistles and the like, it would be a source of serious injury to his neighbours.
Some hon. Members have sought to persuade the House that farmers have admitted that ploughing orders were a blessing in disguise. The hon. Member for Kinross (Mr. J. Gardner) and for Lincolnshire had adduced instances where, in war time, landlords and tenant farmers, forced unwillingly to plough up pasture, have afterwards grown thousands and thousands of potatoes, and have admitted that the compulsory action had been their "financial salvation." That may be the case in Scotland, though I have found on my own property that Scottish tenant farmers are pretty astute; Scotch farmers may be so ignorant as to the most remunerative crops to grow on their own holdings, but we do not keep such farmers in Devonshire. The Prime Minister 1621 said just; now that, the Government having guaranteed minimum prices for cereals, must have something in return, and that there must be a quid pro quo. Surely the return for the guaranteed minimum prices is increased production. There you have your guid pro quo and a very full, sufficient and adequate return it will be in itself, if the view of the Government, that the scheme is logically contrived, is correct. I may say that, in Devonshire, we are in the rather peculiar position that we do not benefit by this minimum price for cereals because we are not in the habit of growing wheat for sale. In South Devon we have a very excellent breed of cattle, which is now only beginning to attract universal attention. It is going ahead so fast that it will knock out other breeds before very long, as exporters are fast recognising. Our farmers have done wonders of late to improve this breed, and they have devoted the whole of their energies to that purpose. Consequently, they are almost exclusively beef producers and dairymen, and they will not benefit one halfpennyworth by this guaranteed minimum price for cereals. At the same time you are calling on them to submit to all sorts of disabilities on that account. They will not benefit a halfpennyworth by the "quo" of the guaranteed price, and yet the Government ask them to submit to the "quid" of a paralysing control by Government officials. I can assure the Government that the County Agricultural Committees do not want the powers with which it is proposed they shall be entrusted. Then there is the question of expense. All this kind of thing must mean an immense staff. There are appeals to this and that tribunal. I suppose we ought to be very grateful for such safeguard, but they all mean money, and at a moment when every additional penny of expenditure ought to be jealously watched. I say it would be much better to free the farmers from expensive control which would only clog the farming industry with artificiality, for farmers are much more likely to help themselves, than to be helped by a Government Department in London. I feel bound, from the national as well as from the agricultural point of view, to support the excision of this paragraph.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I should like to say on behalf of myself and my Friends who oppose this Amendment that our 1622 aims and objects are precisely the same as those of the Prime Minister, namely, to improve the position of agriculture, but our methods are different. The Prime Minister quoted a good deal about conditions in Germany and drew a rather gloomy picture of our position as compared with agriculture in Germany. I should like to ask whether those conditions in Germany have been brought about by control? I They have not. There is no control in Germany of agriculturists and there has not been control of farmers in Germany. That condition if it is better than ours, which I do not admit, has been brought about by State encouragement which is quite a different thing from control. The right hon. Gentleman said, with regard to Germany, that so many men were employed per 100 acres and so few per 100 acres were employed on our farms, but the real point of view is what is the production per head of the men employed in agriculture, and you will find that the production per head is higher in this country than in any other country in Europe. Further, when you come to consider what is the production per acre of arable land, you will and that the weight of food grown on an average acre of arable land in this country is heavier than the weight of food grown on an average acre of arable land in Germany. Then the right hon. Gentleman founded the rest of his observations very largely on the Selborne Report. The particular point under discussion now is as to whether farmers should or should not be ordered to plough up grass land, and what does the Selborne Report say on that point? It says:—The landowners and the farmers may be left to … come to an agreement (which is essential) about the relaxation of covenants against the ploughing of grass land or of any others which tend to dis-couragre good farming. We are satisfied that they will have no difficulty in doing so much more satisfactorily than the State could for them.That is an absolute and complete answer to the Prime Minister's arguments. He invokes Germany first of all on wrong grounds, and then he invokes the aid of Lord Selborne's Report in support of the Government Amendment ordering farmers to plough up grass land. Lord Selborne's Report recommends the precise opposite, that farmers should not be compelled to plough up grass land, but that those arrangements should be left between the owner and the 1623 farmer to fix up themselves. Having mentioned those points, I do not know that I need refer to the Prime Minister's speech in any further detail, but I should like to say that we thoroughly recognise that the Prime Minister is an ardent supporter of agriculture, only we cannot agree with his methods, and I do not understand from the right hon. Gentleman's speech where these proposals emanated from, that the industry should be placed under Government control. I asked the Parliamentary Secretary last week who was responsible for these proposals, and he has not answered me yet. I hope when he replies this evening that he will tell us where these proposals emanated from. I have my own notions on the subject. There was a suggestion that they came from the agricultural community and from the farmers. I happen to be Chairman of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Agriculture, and I called a meeting to discuss this very matter ten days ago, and they, with one dissentient, passed, otherwise unanimously, this resolution:This Chamber disapproves of any provisions in the Agriculture Bill tending to the control of the industry other than regulations for good husbandry in the mutual interests of farmers with regard to hedges, ditches, and obnoxious weeds.I believe that to be the general view of farmers throughout the whole of this country, and not only of farmers, but of owners of land and of all others who understand the agricultural industry. I do not call these provisions with respect to securing good husbandry control, as they seem to me to be Regulations made in the interests of the industry for the mutual benefit of farmers. One farmer, by not cleaning his ditches, cutting his hedges, or disposing of his obnoxious weeds, can injure an adjoining farm, and I have always felt, as a matter of practical experience, that some authority was needed which could compel another farmer, a man who was not your tenant, for instance, who was injuring your farm. The other Bill set up these county agricultural committees, and that will be useful work for them to do. I do not think we ought to call that control, but I think we ought to call it regulations in the mutual interests of the farmers of this country; as wide as the poles apart from compelling the farmer to cultivate his land in a particular manner.
1624 I am sure it is a very serious thing for the Government to force on the House provisions of this character in face of the almost united opposition of the agricultural interests. We do not at all wish—we are most unwilling—to oppose the Government, and we certainly wish to do all we can in the highest interests of agriculture. It is only because we are thoroughly satisfied that this is against the interests of agriculture that we feel compelled to take a strong attitude against the Government proposals, and that attitude we shall be forced to maintain. The right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the House, said, this afternoon, in connection with another matter, that the Government were always open to the influence of the Members, yet here are the Government forcing on this House and on the country a measure affecting agriculture for all time, in the teeth of the opposition of their own supporters, who are the agriculturists of this House. That seems to me a most unfortunate position for us all to be faced with, and I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that when we placed our agricultural policy before our constituents at the last election there was no suggestion from the Prime Minister or from any other Member of the Government that proposals of this character were going to be made. We were returned, most of us, by our hundreds and our thousands in direct opposition to this policy, and had we placed this policy before our agricultural constituents, we should not have been in this House. As far as I know, this policy was placed before only one constituency. The Chairman of the National Farmers' Union stood for a division of Herefordshire, his own county, and he put forward this proposal of State control and fines on owners of land in order to bring about what they call security of tenure, but which I think will bring about insecurity of tenure, and what was the result? About 16,400 or 16,500 voters recorded their votes, and this gentleman was able to secure only about 2,900 votes, not one-fifth of the electors. Here we were all returned by our hundreds and our thousands in opposition to this policy, and the Government adopt the policy of this gentleman instead of the policy which we were returned to support. I think it is a most unfortunate state of affairs, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will 1625 take everything into consideration, and that the Government will see their way to drop all these measures which the agricultural Members of this House think so highly detrimental to the real interests of agriculture.
§ Mr. G. EDWARDS
I rise to support the Government's Amendment because, like the hon. and gallant Member who has just, sat down, I represent an agricultural district, and this Amendment, I am sure; is entirely in the interests of a great and important industry. After the figures given by the Prime Minister, I fail to understand how anyone representing an agricultural constituency can oppose this Amendment. Alarming figures were given. We were told by the Prime Minister that £500,000,000,000—[A laugh.] An hon. Member laughs. If he had had the education I had, he would not laugh. I never went to a college; the turnip field was my college. We were told by the Prime Minister that £500,000,000 worth of food, which we should have produced ourselves, was imported into this country. Another startling figure he gave was that during the last forty years, as I can bear out—and my experience goes a little further than the Prime Minister; it goes back nearly 70 years—4,000,000 acres of land had gone out of cultivation, not saying anything of the millions of acres which are badly cultivated at the present moment. Remarks have been made about Government control. Let me remind the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken that those who hold the land hold it in trust for the people, and if they do not fulfil that trust, then they are fighting against the community. What does this Amendment say? It does not dictate to a farmer, as I understand it, what, crops he has to produce. Nothing of the kind. What it does is to insist upon good agriculture. It does not say that the farmer shall grow wheat or oats or barley, but it does say that he shall cultivate his land according to rules of good husbandry.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
On a point of Order. This Amendment we are discussing is that, in addition to good husbandry, which everybody agrees should be enforced, and tenantable repair, there should be further control. Everybody agrees to good husbandry, but not to control.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Member for Chelmsford for his kindly respectful interruption, because I think I was confining my remarks to the Amendment. I repeat there is nothing in the Amendment dictating to the farmer what crops he shall grow.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
Is the land being cultivated as it ought to be? You can get into a train at Liverpool Street, or any of the other railway centres in this City, and you may travel into the Midland counties or the Northern counties and there you will find thousands of acres not producing food for man or beast. Land that was once under the plough is now producing nothing but thorn bushes and coarse grass. Land must be suitable to grow corn. This Amendment says, "We give you security of tenure, and for the price of your produce, but in return we say, in the interests of the community, we will insist on this land being properly cultivated." The Amendment will prevent, as it is necessary to prevent, land going down to grass that is capable of being cultivated to-day. That is what the Amendment does, and it is, I am sure, in the interests of agriculture and the best interests of this country. Although it has been said that this Amendment is being supported by the Labour party, I hold the view that a great and an important industry like agriculture should be lifted above party politics, and, if anything can be done to improve this industry, then it ought to be done. I won my election on it. If I had not supported this, I should not be returned, because labourers and farmers consider that this Agriculture Bill is highly necessary for the industry, the tenant farmer and the labourer. If this Amendment is administered in the spirit in which it will be passed, you will hear no more of your unemployed or of your Class C, because men will be employed on the land. It will take a larger number than you have got in the country if the land be properly cultivated and brought to its proper use to produce food for the people. Therefore, I support this Amendment.
§ Brigadier-General WIGAN
Like the hon. and gallant Member for Grantham (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) who preceded me, it is with very great regret that I feel it my duty to oppose the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary. The short time I have been in this House I have learned to realise how much the right hon. Gentleman has done for the agriculturists of this country, but this ploughing-up order is one which, I believe, is unfair in every way. I cannot understand how the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Edwards) who has just sat down could have stated that the Government were only insisting upon good husbandry. The Amendment distinctly states in the last line that they have the right to insist upon the land being ploughed up. We have been reminded that one of the reasons why the guarantee is given is to enable the farmer to pay the wages which he is forced to do by the National Wages Board. If the farmer had not the guarantee the tendency would be to put back as much land as possible to grass, so as to reduce his labour bill
I maintain that if the present guarantees are not sufficient to encourage agriculturists to produce food the object of these guarantees has failed. It strikes me also as unfair that, merely because you give a guarantee against loss, and not a guarantee of profit on two crops, that in return the Government are taking the right to dictate to the farmer how he shall run his own business. It has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman that there are adequate safeguards. The Solicitor-General told us, in the course of the Debate the other day, that there were so many safeguards that the Clause was almost inoperative. A further point that strikes me as unfair in this Amendment is that, whatever safeguards are given, mistakes will be made, and should the farmer be involved in loss from direct action of the Government he is to receive no compensation at all for that loss which he has been quite unable to avoid. That is grossly unfair. I should like to read a couple of letters which I have received in the last few days. One is from the Farmers' Union of Berkshire, a constituency of which I represent, and where practically all, or nearly, the farmers belong to the Farmers' Union, and the 1628 second is from the chairman of the Essex Farmers' Union. The first letter states:If the Amendments inserted and supported by the Government on the Report stage are insisted upon, my Committee feel that they have no option but to urge the Council of the National Farmers' Union to oppose the Bill entirely.The second letter says:Farmers all over England are absolutely opposed to compulsory ploughing up of grass land by order of the Agricultural Executive Committee. They agree that land should be thoroughly cultivated in the national interest to produce to its full capacity, but they know that more food will be produced by this means than by unduly increasing the arable area.Everyone is in agreement that the Government should insist on good husbandry, but I do not think the Government have any right to coerce the farmer beyond insisting on good husbandry. The Prime Minister brought very vividly before us the lessons we learnt from the War. He pointed out that £500,000,000 worth of food was being imported that we could produce in this country, and that if we could produce a certain proportion of that on land in this country it would mean helping our credit with America, and consequently reducing the cost of living all round. Again, the Prime Minister pointed out that agriculture gave employment to very many more people. I think just before the Election he stated that the land in Great Britain, if properly cultivated, was capable of maintaining 400,000 more people. Again, to-night, he said that this was the healthiest of occupations. I do think that the agriculturists of the country should be grateful to the Government for at least endeavouring to announce a policy for agriculture, which bas been neglected for so many years. I do, however, believe that the way to achieve the result they are aiming at is by having the goodwill of the agriculturists, and not by attempting to coerce them. The proposal contained in the Amendment of the Parliamentary Secretary is, in my opinion, as I said before, unfair. It is disliked by the farmers, and as the Solicitor-General said, it is a Clause which will almost be inoperative. I therefore suggest that this Amendment should be either very greatly modified or altogether withdrawn.
§ Major STEEL
The Prime Minister, in his speech a short while ago, said that 1629 the whole object of this Agriculture Bill was to try and increase the arable cultivation of this country. He pointed out the necessity and enumerated the great advantages of having a very much larger acreage of arable land than we used to have in the days before the War. I am quite sure everybody agrees with him about that, that it would be very advantageous to have far more arable land, and very advantageous to have a very much larger agricultural population. But I fear that this Amendment which has been proposed by the Government will have just the opposite effect. At the present time we are passing a permanent piece of legislation, and we have got to take a far-sighted view of this question. I am against the Government on this Amendment for two reasons. In the first place, I feel that it will have the effect, instead of attracting capital into the industry and into land, of diverting capital; and, in the second place, I am opposed to it because I think it has been proved, and proved abundantly, that Government control of any description is about the most extravagant and wasteful form of control that it is possible to have.
§ Major STEEL
If we are agreed that we want to increase the arable cultivation of the country, one of the first essentials is to get capital, and to get increased capital. For arable cultivation you require a very large amount of capital. If the Minister is going to have the power, as he will have under this Amendment, of compelling the farmer to alter his method of cultivation; if he is going to control his type of cultivation, then, having taken away the individuality of the farmer, and hampered him by control, you will not have encouraged him to put his money into his farm, but rather encouraged him to divert his money and take it altogether out of farming. What we want to do now is to encourage the farmer to put more and more money into the industry, to put more and more money into his crops—if you propose to have a larger acreage of arable land. It is because I see that this Amendment, if it goes through, instead of attracting the farmer's capital into the land, and into his crops, will have the very opposite effect that I speak as I do.
1630 The second reason why I am opposing this Amendment is that Government control is extravagant and wasteful. One hon. Member has referred to the very large number of officials now employed at the Board of Agriculture, and I think he said there were 2,000 more officials employed there now than there used to be in 1914. I really do not know what all these officials do. I quite realise that it was necessary to employ a large number temporarily to adjust all these various claims for compulsory ploughing up during the War, and I realise that it has been necessary to have a large extra staff for the settlement of all these claims, but I cannot conceive what the remainder of those 2,000 officials do. I feel that the public at large do not realise what Government control means, and I am perfectly certain that the man in the street does not realise how wasteful and in many cases inefficient it is.
I would like to give an example of a case of inefficient and wasteful agricultural control which happened to come to my notice a short time ago. I happen to be a member of the county council in the county in which my home is in Scotland, and at a meeting there a short time ago we had sent down from the Board of Agriculture in Edinburgh a gentleman in a black coat, who insisted upon coming down to lecture the council with the object of trying to get them to take steps to exterminate the rats in the county. The clerk to the county council wrote to the Board of Agriculture and said that we were not troubled with rats in our county, and he did not think there was any necessity for this official to be sent down, but the Board insisted, and down he came. He gave us a long lecture, and after lecturing for about a quarter of an hour, we asked him what he would recommend us to do. He recommended the appointment of a whole-time rat officer to see that the various farmers took steps to kill their rats.
It was pointed out that this was a small county, and not one in which there was likely to be any great quantity of rats, because it was a pastoral and not a grain county. Everybody told him that we had no great quantity of rats, and that they did comparatively little damage, but notwithstanding he did his very best to insist upon our having a whole-time rat officer. There was a discussion after his lecture, and one member 1631 of the council said he found that if he kept three or four cats they were quite sufficient to deal with the rats in his stackyard. Another member of the council described how he dealt with the rats, and eventually the whole discussion was brought to an end by an old Scotch farmer, a very astute member of the council, saying: "I would very much sooner have half-a-dozen good cats to kill my rats than any official sent down by the Board from Edinburgh," and everybody roared with laughter. Here was an officer of the Board of Agriculture in Edinburgh who was sent down to a county where there are really no rats. I suppose his salary and expenses were paid out of the taxpayers' money, and he did his best to insist that the council should employ a whole-time rat officer to deal with rats when there were very few in existence at all, and when such an officer was quite unnecessary. It was only because he had to deal with an economical and hard-headed lot of county councillors who refused to waste the ratepayers' money that we were saved this absurd expenditure. Government control is both wasteful and extravagant, and in some cases it is inefficient. For these reasons, and also because I feel that this proposal will have the effect of diverting capital from the land instead of attracting it. I shall support the Amendment.
§ Sir HARRY HOPE
The Prime Minister made an eloquent appeal to the House to support him in carrying these proposals. He told us that we had been dependent upon some £500,000,000 worth of foreign agricultural produce, and he informed us how many millions of acres of land had gone out of cultivation. Anyone who has had any practical knowledge of agriculture and country life is bound to ask is it any wonder that we have been so dependent upon foreign produce? We know how our British agriculture has been hopelessly sacrificed to what is called industrialism. This is not because we have had any neglect of supervision, but rather because the deliberate policy of this country in the past has been not to encourage agriculture but to encourage the great industrial enterprises in the country. We have seen how foreign produce has been carried on our railways at cheaper rates than our home produce. We have seen how bounty-fed agricultural produce has 1632 come into this country to compete with our own produce. Under these circumstances is there any wonder that land has been driven out of cultivation. We have seen foreign produce sold here and palmed off in our own shops as home produce. In this way the home producer suffers grievous loss and a grievance is suffered by the community at large. There is no wonder that our agriculture has suffered in the past, and the illustrations brought forward by the Prime Minister I think are altogether outside this question at the present time.
The Parliamentary Secretary ha[...] told us that in his opinion the argument in favour of this Clause is that the Government must have a quid pro quo for the guarantee. I believe that guarantee is a hopeless sham and mistake and the industrial and urban districts of this country will be up in arms and quite rightly so because at the very time when the subsidy in the case of the cheap loaf is being taken off, a subsidy is being given to the farmers. The industrial community will not stand treatment of that kind. We are having supervision introduced in order to force land to be ploughed up. Therefore when we have the corollary of that guarantee proposal introduced in the shape of supervision and the power to enforce land to be ploughed up, I say the whole policy is wrong. If the farmers of this country get fair treatment they are able to manage their land as well as it can be managed. I have always considered, and I think this voices the opinion of the National Farmers' Union both of England and of Scotland, that security of tenure is invaluable for enabling the occupier to make the most of his land, and if we get that principle established in legislation, if we get security of tenure we shall find that increased production will follow. I very seldom, in fact I never vote against the Government, but on this occasion I am going to do so, because I am a practical agriculturist who wants to get the most out of the land and I think that this Clause will do a great deal of harm to the farmers.
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I do not want to give a silent vote on a matter which so vitally affects a large number of my constituents. At the same time I am only following many of my hon. Friends who have already spoken in favour of the Amendment. I was not present when the 1633 Government was defeated in Committee upstairs, and I am bound to confess that at that time I thought a mistake had been made, and I said to the right hon. Gentleman that I thought the words which had been struck out, or some modification of them, would probably have to be reinserted in the Bill. That opinion was cheered by several Members of the Committee. Of course, one reason for thinking that was that the powers proposed to be conferred on the Minister at that time did seem to preserve the balance between the different parties engaged in the industry—the farmer and the consumer, and to give that qui pro quo which has been so constantly alluded to. But that was in July, and one has since had time to reconsider the matter and to discuss it with the leading agriculturalists in his own district. What have they told us? They are almost unanimous in declaring that the proposed powers of control when looked at from the point of view of their probable effect will do more harm than good, because any advantages of control will be nullified and overbalanced by the paralysing effect which the fear of its operation will produce in the minds of the farmer.
Above all, you want to create a sense of security. You cannot expect a farmer to do his best in a state of apprehension, doubt or suspicion. Farmers are the most suspicious men in the world. These powers are to be exercised by the new County Agricultural Committees. Upon these Committees will be found a very large proportion indeed of the members of the old War Committees—the old War County Agricultural Executive Committees. It is universally admitted that great mistakes were made all over the country by those Committees. A farmer is a man who remembers such things longer than most people. Consequently, the farmers of to-day are full of apprehension and fear of these new Agricultural Committees. Personally, I believe they are more soundly constituted than the old ones, and will work more carefully and more judiciously that it was possible for the old Committees to do during a period of war. Still, these Committees have to win the confidence of the agricultural community. There is plenty of work for them to do in order no win that confidence. If the agricultural community can be made to feel that 1634 they will act with judicial minds, with fairness, with justice and with a clear apprehension of the requirement of agriculture, then the Committees will win their confidence.
I fear it is hopeless to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that he should defer conferring these special powers of ordering land to be ploughed up until such times as the new committees have been able to establish themselves in the confidence of the agricultural community. Still that is the practical suggestion I rose to make. I am convinced that nothing would be lost by doing it, and that the gain would be lasting and valuable to the Ministry of Agriculture. I am afraid, however, after what has been said in this Debate, that one cannot anticipate that the right hon. Gentleman will give way to this appeal, and in that case I shall have to do what I have seldom done, and that is to vote against the Government. I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister with a good deal of apprehension. It will not do much to allay the fears of agriculturists, because, if it meant anything at all, it undoubtedly seemed to point to a policy of wholesale ploughing up in all parts of the country. I hope it did not mean that, but one cannot help feeling that it will do much to nullify the good effect of the speech which he made to the farmers, and in consequence of which, as we were led to believe, this Bill was introduced.
Captain STANLEY WILSON
As the representative of an important agricultural constituency, I wish to say a few words upon the Amendment now before the House, and to add my protest to those which have already been made. The Government are in a somewhat parlous position, for they have had but one supporter up to the present, and I was very sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman cheering his solitary supporter. It made me look back to the years gone by, when he used always to be associated with other agricultural Members in endeavouring to do his best in what we believe to be the best interests of the agricultural community. I regret that I am bound to oppose him on this Amendment. I say to the Government that it is the very greatest pity that they should force on this Amendment, by which, in my opinion, they are offending the whole agricultural community throughout this country. I 1635 listened with the greatest interest to the eloquent appeal which the Prime Minister made to us, but I regret that I feel bound to vote against the Government, and I believe that every other representative of an agricultural constituency on these Benches will vote in the same way this evening.
I do not think the Government have realised how strong are the feelings of agriculturists throughout the country with regard to the imposition of this Government control, and I believe that every hon. Member who represents an agricultural constituency will go into the Lobby against them. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] There may be one or two on the Labour Benches, but not very many. I think that the only supporters the Government will have among agriculturists will be two or three agricultural Members of the Labour party.
At the last election the one cry that faced me throughout the division which I represent was, "For goodness sake get rid of Government control," and the same cry goes up as urgently now as it did then. When this Bill was first introduced it found a considerable number of supporters amongst the farming community in my constituency. They had not realised what it meant. But since the Debates upon it in this House, and since they have gradually come to realise what it means, opinion in my constituency has been changing rapidly. Only a day or two ago I had a letter from a prominent farmer, in which he says:I want to inform you what the position is in the constituency. There seems to be now a prevailing opinion amongst your farmer constituents that the Bill ought not to pass, that it will not stimulate production; but, on the contrary, it will aggravate the present grave condition, which is due in large measure to recent legislation.That opinion is, I believe, gradually growing throughout England with regard to this measure. It is now realised that the millstone of Government control is to be hung round the neck of the agricultural community, and therefore the feeling has so changed that farmers are now strongly opposed to this Bill, of 1636 which, at the beginning, they were moderate supporters. The Amendment which the Parliamentary Secretary desires to re-insert is one which was taken out by the Committee, and I do not think that the Government, in pressing this Amendment, are treating their Committee upstairs quite, fairly. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was present earlier this afternoon, when the Leader of the House made an earnest appeal to us all in connection with the Financial Resolution for the Ministry of Health Bill. He said, in effect, that the Government would do nothing to upset the deliberate decision of the Committee upstairs, except—he did make an exception—except on a really vital point. Do the Government consider that Government control of agriculture is the really vital point of their Bill? If so, the sooner we know it the better. I am sure that the agricultural community do not consider that that ought to be the vital principle of this important measure. We all of us agree with the extract which the Prime Minister read from Lord Selborne's Report, but I cannot make out that there is anything in that Report which suggested Government control.
I am sure of this, that even if Government control were recommended in that report, Lord Selborne, after his war experience of Government control in various industries, would no longer recommend Government control of agriculture. The Prime Minister made the point that in years gone by land had gone so rapidly out of cultivation. Of course it did at one period, but that was due to the fall in the prices of foodstuffs. The only way in which that could have been met then was by protection or by guaranteed prices, to which this House at that time would never have consented. If you do give the farmers of this country prices that ensure them a reasonable profit, there is not the slightest doubt that, without any Government interference, they will provide food to the utmost capacity of their land. The Prime Minister said that it is essential that more permanent pasture shall be broken up. I should like to take the Prime Minister round a few fields in my constituency and show him the condition of the land there which was broken up under compulsory ploughing-up Orders during the War. There were 1637 magnificent pastures, supporting sheep and cattle in large numbers, which are now, to all intents and purposes, producing nothing at all, and largely because farmers cannot employ sufficient labour to work this land, which requires a terrible amount of working. The condition of the permanent pasture, broken up three years ago, is now deplorable, and it will produce very little towards satisfying the wants of the people of this country. In my opinion, and in that of many of my friends on these Benches, the interference of the Government in agriculture will ruin that industry. Believing that as strongly as I do, I shall most certainly oppose the Amendment of my right hon. Friend in the interests of all classes engaged in agriculture.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
Although I represent a constituency which is mainly agricultural, I have never before had the temerity to address the House on an agricultural question, because I cannot claim to be in any sense an agricultural expert. The position which is before the House this evening in connection with agriculture is, however, so serious that I think it should be tested, not only by the views of agricultural experts, but by the views of what I hope I can claim to be, a common sense person with a business training. Tested from that point of view, I find the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, who is asking us to-night to reverse the decisions of the Committee upstairs, to be such that I cannot possibly support them, believing as I do that if this House adopts them they will be wholly detrimental to the interests of the agricultural industry. In the constituency which I represent I have been repeatedly asked, as I have no doubt most hon. Members from agricultural constituencies have been asked, "What is this Government going to do for agriculture?" The answer I am not prepared to take back to them, and which I am certainly not prepared to say that I supported, is, "What this Government propose to do for agriculture is to put it in chains, and to prevent farmers from managing their own business." If I told my farmer friends that, I am sure they would say, "What are you and your friends about in the House to permit such things?"
I was very much impressed, like my hon. Friend who has just sat down, by the remarks of the Leader of the House 1638 this afternoon as to the attitude of the Government toward the work of committees upstairs. It was reminiscent of the time when, at the beginning of this Parliament, the Leader of the House gently talked us in the direction of agreement to these committees upstairs whose conclusions, he assured us, would never be upset—I really do not think I am exaggerating—in any matter in which they had taken important decisions after proper consideration. That was the impression he left on our minds, and which he endeavoured to leave on our minds this afternoon. Once bitten, twice shy, however, and one cannot trust that this sort of general assurance can be relied upon when we really get close down to business. Of all the Clauses in this Bill this particular one, from the point of view of the agricultural industry, is far and away the most important. It is important because we have not the slightest idea of where it will lead to. The results of a Clause like this are very often far more important from the moral point of view than from any real effect which they produce. One never knows in business to what a widespread feeling of insecurity may lead. Nothing checks business more than uncertainty, and that is the precise element which this proposal, if adopted, will introduce into the agricultural industry. Feeling that, I am not particularly reassured by the statements made from the Treasury Bench to the effect that this Clause really does not matter, and that nothing is really going to be done under it. That being so, I rather share the suspicions expressed by some of my hon. Friends, who said to the Government, "If that is the case, why on earth do you want to go on with it?" Is it for camouflage—to use that much abused expression—or what is the reason? Do you want to claim credit for something you do not intend to do, or do you really mean to take these powers and act upon them? I do not know which would be a wise line of conduct for the Government to pursue. It would be equally bad to ask for the Clause and act upon it, or to ask for the Clause in order to claim credit for what they are not going to do, and, at the same time, to frighten the industry and to bring it practically to the verge of ruin, as they may easily do.
With regard to the objects of the Government in pressing forward this line 1639 of policy, it has always seemed to me that there is great confusion of thought on this subject. Most people in this country are really not clear what they do want in regard to an agricultural policy. What do we want? Is the general desire in this country to revert to the position which existed before the War, that is, to have the cheapest possible food in this country regardless of all other considerations? If it is not, do they want to have cheap food, combined with a certain measure of what I may call War insurance? In other words, do they wish to increase the production of food in this country beyond that degree of production which would be brought about by natural economic causes? If they do want the second of these alternatives, then they have to be prepared to pay for it in some form or another. That is the only way in which they can get it. They have to pay, and they have to make up their minds how and to what extent they are prepared to pay. That is a very different thing from thinking that they can get it by some measure of compulsion without being prepared to pay the price. This Bill is really not going to help the farmer to make his farming pay. That being the case, it can only operate either by not increasing the extent of the arable land of the country, or, if it does succeed in increasing it, it must make the products from that arable land which is only cultivated under compulsion extraordinarily expensive. If you are going to make the products extraordinarily expensive, that will mean that the farmer producing them cannot go on indefinitely with this unpayable business. Within a few years he will have to drop it, and so the last state will be worse than the first. If you are going to increase artificially the agricultural production of this country beyond the limits to which it will be brought by the uncontrolled discretion of the men who are engaged in the industry, you will, in one form or another, have to devise some system of subsidy or bonus. I do not believe you can do it by tariffs, because they operate in a different and probably more mischievous way, but if you are going to give some inducement to farmers to do what it will not pay them to do unless you do something for them, you have got to do it by some form of bonus or subsidy. The Bill is not proposing to proceed in that way, and therefore I 1640 cannot believe it will succeed in its main object.
The Prime Minister has laid stress on the desirability of getting people back to the land. I do not feel at all certain that there are these large numbers of people who can be sent back to the land, or that when they get back to the land, if they have ever been there before, they will be efficient for the purpose for which they are required. It is a very small number of people comparatively who are ready and willing to go back to the land, even if they were paid considerably higher wages—and from the agricultural point of view the wages are pretty high now—than they can get to-day. Is the next step going to be that we are going to compel farmers to cultivate, what they do not want to cultivate, at a loss, and that we are also going to compel people to go back to the land to supply the labour which will be needed for this uneconomic process? That is the; logical next step, but I do not see a Minister of Agriculture proposing that, so I think we can rule it out. There will not be any inducement that the industry can offer in the form of higher wages to labourers to come back to the land, or for those who have not been on the land before to take to it, and therefore I do not see that the second part of the Prime Minister's desire can possibly be helped by this Bill. I am sure the Minister of Agriculture and his Department have a general benevolent desire to help the industry, but I am not at all sure that they have looked clearly, and have understood where they are going, and I think we should like them to understand that fussy interference with the individual affairs of farmers throughout the country is not in the least likely to achieve the object we all have at heart. For these reasons I am afraid I must join in the chorus of Members who have voiced the same ideas and expressed the same decided opinion, and I have no alternative but to vote against the Government if they press this to a Division.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MURROUGH WILSON
We have had to-night probably one of the most interesting declarations which has ever been made in regard to agriculture. I mean the declaration by the Prime Minister in regard to the future of that industry, showing that he and his Government were prepared to do any- 1641 thing they could to support it. The position we have got to at this moment is that the Prime Minister and the Government have inquired most carefully into the diseases which are affecting the industry of agriculture, and, having diagnosed the disease, they put forward a remedy. The Prime Minister truly said he and the Government are the first who have ever really taken up the subject, but unfortunately they are not the first people who, having taken up a subject and having diagnosed it, have produced the wrong remedy. I do not think my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Boscawen) has even now any idea of the feeling amongst the agricultural community against his proposals. I represent practically entirely an agricultural constituency, and in whatever portion of the constituency I go I find the farmers have got it in their minds that, so far as the future produce of the country is concerned, there is nothing in the Bill which is going to do anything at all for the benefit of the country. Every farmer is willing and anxious to do his best, but he is not going to do it under coercion. That is a point which must be realised by the House and by my right hon. Friend. He may get a great deal done by persuasion, but he will get nothing done by coercion. The farmer looks at it rather from this point of view: The Government says, "We are offering you some guarantees. In return for that we demand that you shall submit yourselves to a certain amount of control." But, being a shrewd-headed man the farmer says, "When are these guarantees going to take place?" He sees no sign of them at present. He sees nothing actually in sight. Everything is in the future in regard to the guarantees. He is told at this moment that he has to submit to this form of control. It is harly a proposition that appeals to an ordinary man, and certainly it does not appeal to the farmer in Yorkshire.
The Prime Minister referred to the Selborne Report. In regard to the method of securing increased production, the Selborne Report says:The Government has no fairy touch which will enable it to produce instantaneous results. It is worked through and by means of the men who are now holding and cultivating the land.As I understand it, the position now in regard to the people who are cultivating the land, is that they will not have these 1642 cultivation orders at any price, and the men who are going to have to work the cultivation orders have also unanimously expressed their views against it. So that the right hon. Gentleman has practically the whole of the agricultural community and the people who are intended to carry out the Bill all up against him, and under these circumstances it seems absurd to expect that the object of tin; Bill is going to be attained and that there is going to be any increased production. But it goes even further. The agricultural committees are in the position now of having an enormous amount of work to do—probably more than they can successfully accomplish. They are now asked to add this to their burden, and it can only mean that we are going to have another horde of officials put upon these agricultural committees. It is totally impossible in these large agricultural districts for the staff, as it is at present, of the agricultural committees in any way to go into the matter, and see whether land is being ploughed up which ought to be ploughed up, and whether land is left uncultivated, and so on. It must add to officialdom, and it must increase expense. I think, like many others who have the interest of agriculture at heart, that every one of us is prepared to submit to a certain amount of control. Every one of us is prepared to submit to any form of control in the shape of good husbandry. We wish in no way and in no instance to protect the bad farmer. We are all prepared to do everything we possibly can, and we realise the extreme necessity of getting increased production, but I feel most earnestly that the way the Government have set out to increase production is the wrong way, and if they persist in it the result will not be increased production but a very much decreased output and decreased cultivation.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
I really ought not to intervene in the Debate, as in my constituency I do not think I have a single farmer, and therefore there is no farming opinion to express itself about the Bill. But I will guarantee that any men you meet in my constituency is against Government control. We have really had enough of Government control. We have had it in the iron trade, we have had it in shipping, and we have had it 1643 in the coal trade. It very nearly ruined shipping, it ruined the coal trade—it has turned a profitable industry into one that cannot pay its way—and now the Government is coming down with a proposal to control the largest industry of the country. If they carry out the policy of which this Bill is the beginning, they will make that industry as moribund as the coal industry. Those of us who were on the Committee upstairs have just cause for complaint against the Government. Very serious consideration was given on this point in Committee and the Government were defeated, and now on Report they ask the House to reverse the work of the Committee. I am somewhat surprised that hon. Friends of mine who sit in the Labour interest are in favour of this Government control. Government control by whom? It is not democratic control; it is control by selected committees. The agricultural war committees are bodies selected by the County Councils and the Ministry of Agriculture, and the electorate of the country have no control whatever over these committees. If this is to be a permanent part of the policy of agriculture, then the electors ought to have direct control over the agricultural war committees.
The policy of Governments, not only this Government but other Governments of modern times, has been to filch from the electors control over local councils. The electors have lost control over their education authorities. The school board elections are done away with. In the old days every three years we had a right to express our opinion of the School Board very forcibly, and many people were turned out of office and others elected in their place because they did not satisfy the electors. Very recently the same proposal was made in regard to the boards of guardians. The boards of guardians were to be selected committees of the Local Government Board, and if that had been so the electors would have lost control over the administration of the Poor Law within their area. Now they are going to lose control over their agricultural committees. That is the most undemocratic proposal ever brought forward. I do not think that this control of agriculture is necessary. We depend to a very large extent on the importation of foreign food, and we vote very large sums for the Navy to enable us to bring 1644 food from abroad. To-day we have no Navy competing with us in the world. We are the strongest naval power on the face of the earth, and I do not see very much cause for alarm as to the position in regard to the importation of foreign food.
There is another point in respect to the policy of food control. There are many districts where large farms are split up into very small holdings, and those are nearly entirely grass. If the Ministry of Agriculture is going to insist on ploughing up a few fields here and a few fields there on these small holdings it follows that the Government must provide the means of ploughing. They must keep the implements; they must keep ploughs; they must be able to say to the farmer, "If you cannot plough this land we will undertake to plough it for you," as they did in War time, and that would mean a very heavy cost to the community. I do not think it is necessary. Since the Committee met I have received information with respect to the district represented by my hon. Friend who spoke last. The Board of Agriculture ordered large areas of grass land to be ploughed up in a district which is not suitable for growing corn. The weather up there is very uncertain and in probably only one year out of ten is it possible to harvest grain after the middle of September. I have had an opportunity of consulting Members of that Agricultural War Committee, and I find that they objected to the ploughing up orders, but the Committee were over-ridden by the Board of Agriculture who sent a man down and practically overrode the considered decision of the Agricultural War Committee. Considering the influence of Government control over every industry that it has touched, and that the dead hand of Government control has had a deleterious effect on all industries that it has attempted to control, I shall certainly vote against the Government to-night although, unlike some hon. Members who have spoken, I have been in the habit of voting against the Government.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I had hoped that after the very able speech of the Prime Minister it would not have been necessary to have had many more speeches in support of this Amendment; but as one of those who was slightly responsible for the Corn Production Act I am glad to give the House my reasons for supporting the Government on this occasion. The 1645 Corn Production Act was a War-time measure, which was to cease operation in 1922. In the Act, however, there was a Clause setting up an Agricultural Wages Board, and I do not see how the Government can continue the Agricultural Wages Board unless they continue the rest of their policy. In these circumstances the Government are wholly justified in bringing in this Bill, which continues the policy of the Corn Production Act. In the last Debate the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) said the Corn Production Act had not been of any service to the country. He said:No good has resulted from the interference of the War Agricultural Committees.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
There are eloquent figures to prove that that is not the case. In 1914, the year of the War, the acreage of wheat in this country was 1,904,000, and the acreage, of oats 3,877,000, a total of 5,781,000 acres. The Corn Production Act was passed in 1917. The War Agricultural Committees got to work all over the country, and although it is possible they did make a few mistakes, you do not hear of the good things they did.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I have watched carefully the members of the War Agricultural Committees. They did their duty very well. In nine cases out of ten their orders were wise orders which resulted in more food production. After the War Agricultural Committees had been in operation for a year the wheat area increased to 2,793,000 acres and the oats to 5,603,000, a total for the two crops of 8,396,000 acres as against 5,750,000 acres.
§ Captain Sir B. STANIER
Due to the patriotism of the farmers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why did they not do so before?"]
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I have never suggested that the farmers were not patriotic, but I suggest that it was the War Agricultural Committees going through the parishes, field by field, ordering the farmers to do certain ploughing up, which produced that increase. In addition, there was an increase of many thousands of acres in the potato crops. The result was that we were the only belligerent country which produced more 1646 food in 1918 than in pre-War days. Unless you are going to allow the Corn Production Act to lapse in 1922, and with it the Agricultural Wages Board, you have got to continue this policy, and if you continue this policy you have got to insist upon continuing control, because you are giving a greater subsidy now than you did under the Corn Production Act. Under that Act the figures are out of date.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Has the hon. Member read the statement in the "Times" to-day by Sir Tristran Eve, that Sir Daniel Hall, then Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, admitted when giving evidence before the Royal Commission, over which Sir William Peat presided, that no extra food had been produced as a result of the Corn Production Act?
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I read that this morning and dispute it altogether. Taking the standard year, 1919, it is estimated that the cost of production of an acre of wheat was 68s. per quarter. I think that that was high. I gave that evidence before the Royal Commission. I was the only witness who gave figures. The figure for oats was 48s. Then these Commissioners are to ascertain each year whether the cost of production has increased or decreased over and above what it was in 1919. There is no doubt that it has increased last year and in the coming year, owing to the increased wages, it will be greater than in 1919. If the market price of wheat is lower than the fixed price, whatever the Commission may fix in their Order, the Government are to pay the difference. That is the subsidy. Taking it at 1s. per quarter of wheat, the subsidy would amount to £1,750,000, but we will assume, and rightly assume, that there will be an increased production. If so, that 1s. difference may amount to more than £2,000,000 this year. It is only a simple sum in arithmetic. If the difference in price is 5s., there will be £10,000,000, or a little more. That is a very substantial safeguard for the farmers of this country, and I am very glad to see that they have accepted it. Hon. Members during this Debate have attempted, I suppose, to voice the opinion of farmers in their constituencies. Farmers in my constituency, I believe, will welcome the 1647 Bill. I have never heard anything to the contrary. I have received from the Farmers' Union their October circular. The president, in a letter dated 30th October, says:We further consider that the guarantee, together with the security of tenure provided by part 2, constitute a reasonable basis for acceptance of the measure of control proposed by the Government.That is pretty strong. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Sleaford in the last Debate. He actually said we had no slack farmers. I do not know where he puts his eyes when he travels about his constituency. I find a great many farmers still up and down the country who are growing too many thistles and spoiling other people's land. The right hon. Member for the City of London must see many farmers growing more thistles than are necessary.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
That is good farming. We know that the right hon. Gentleman is a good farmer, but there are a great many slack farmers. I do not think that these agricultural committees will use their power very greatly to order more grass land to be ploughed up, but they will insist on that land which has been already ploughed up being cultivated properly. That will be their chief work. The Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood) said that a number of agricultural committees met in London here and said they would not put Ploughing-up Orders into operation. I have made inquiry and find that it was a meeting of the chairmen of the old War Agricultural Committees who met together to have a social dinner before they dispersed, and they did express the view that they would rather not carry out any further Orders with regard to ploughing up. That is all that amounts to. The new Agricultural Committees that are set up have not expressed any opinion whatever, and I believe they are so constituted that they will honestly carry out their work. I feel that as the Government has decided to continue the policy of the Corn Production Act those of us who were responsible for it ought to lend all the support we can in passing this measure.
§ Captain FITZROY
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House spoke rather disparagingly of the decision 1648 which has been come to by the chairmen of the old agricultural executive committees. I must say that I should have thought that no body of men was more entitled to be listened to on ploughing-up Orders than were the chairmen of the old agricultural executive committees. The hon. Gentleman accused Members who have previously taken part in this Debate of speaking disparagingly of the agricultural committees. I should be the last to speak in that way of any agricultural committee. The hon. Gentleman tried to point out that the effect of ploughing-up Orders which have been in force during the War had been greatly to increase the acreage under wheat cultivation. There is nothing more misleading than to quote figures of the increased acreage by ploughing-up Orders. There is nothing easier than to make Orders for ploughing-up, but it is quite a different matter to get the greater yield from the land which is to be ploughed up. A great deal of the mistake which was made during the War was making ploughing-up Orders in order to increase the acreage under arable instead of ensuring that the acreage that was already under arable was made to produce the maximum. I rise to welcome the intervention in the Debate of the hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Winfrey). Agricultural representatives in this House welcome the intervention in agricultural Debates anything that will improve agriculture and the rural conditions in this country. They welcome especially those in industrial areas who interested themselves in rural pursuits and in the agricultural industry, and for that reason I wish many more Members would follow the example of the hon. Gentleman and intervene in agricultural discussions. Earlier this evening the Prime Minister came and intervened in this Debate. I am quite sure that all of us, at any rate those who represent agricultural constituencies, welcome his intervention. He carried us back to what he described as the reasons for the Government having undertaken to have an agricultural policy and to deal with the agricultural question. The reasons of it were, of course, the experience that we learned during the War and the decision of the Government—a very wise decision—was that under no circumstances, if they could help it, should we be brought to the critical con- 1649 dition we were then in as to the food supplies of this country.
I can assure the Prime Minister that those of us who have been engaged in agriculture for a considerable number of years and taken an interest in agricultural questions are just aware of the need for more food production in this country, and are just as much concerned with the future with regard to this question as is the Government. But one thing which gives us satisfaction is that the Prime Minister, I am convinced, is heart and soul in his desire to do the best he can for the rural conditions of this country, especially for the agricultural interests. I had the honour, after the Prime Minister had made his speech at the Caxton Hall when he introduced his policy, or, at any rate, when he told us he was going to introduce it, of making a short speech in moving a vote of thanks to the Prime Minister, and I said then that we had for the first time for a generation a Prime Minister who really took an interest in agriculture and rural questions. I endorse every word that I said then, and I am convinced that he has truly at heart the agricultural industry. But on this occasion, and in order to carry out his desires, he has been ill-advised. He appears to have sought advice from wrong quarters, and had he been better advised on this question I feel quite certain he would not have proposed this measure of coercion for the first time in the agricultural industry. The Prime Minister read us statistics of comparative production of other countries, notably Germany and Denmark, with regard to what they produce per acre in those countries as compared with the United Kingdom. In the same breath he told us that he deplores that successive Governments in this country had neglected the agricultural industry. It is absolutely because countries like Germany and Denmark, instead of neglecting their agricultural industry for generations past, have recognised the fact that the agricultural industry is the most important in those countries, and that they have given attention to that fact and have done everything to promote the industry in those countries. Furthermore, I might point out to the right hon. Gentleman that Germany, at any rate, is highly protected as far as its agricutural industry is concerned, and I venture to say that had this country devoted as much atention in 1650 fostering agriculture as have Germany and Denmark we should have produced as much, if not more, per acre in this country than those countries have been able to show.
Even at this late hour in our discussion we ought to keep the key object of this Bill constantly before us and not to lose sight of it, and that is that this Bill has for its object the producing of more food in this country. The fault I find with this particular proposal which we are discussing now is that the Government is continuing the ploughing-up Orders or giving agricultural committees to make ploughing-up Orders. I do not believe that these ploughing-up Orders will have the effect of producing more food in this country, and that is the whole reason of our opposition to that particular proposal. The Prime Minister enumerated various proposals made in this Bill with regard to guaranteed prices, measures of compensation, and so on. If those things in themselves will not produce more food in this country it is absolutely certain that the coercive measures of this proposal will not have the desired effect. Agriculturists as such do not object to control. Many hon. Members opposite seem to think that it is unreasonable on the part of agriculturists to accept the guarantee and to object to control. Their contention is that if we accept something we must put up with Government control. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that it is not control as control that I object to the least in the world. What I do object to is that control which is proposed by the Government will not have the effect which we all desire, which is to increase the food production in this country. I do not want to make too much of our experience during the War. Naturally things were done in a hurry, and things occurred which if it were in peace time would probably not have occurred. The fact is that you do not get the best results from these coercive measures. I know quite well that a great deal of the unsatisfactory results obtained in the War were not due to wrongful orders, but very largely owing to the fact that the farmer was compelled to do something that he did not want to do, or to do something in a way different from the way in which he thought it ought to be done. When he was told that one particular field was the particular field to be ploughed he probably at once 1651 said, "That is not the field; it should be another field," and he did not put his heart into the work of ploughing as he did not think the field was the one which ought to be ploughed. Hon. Members may say that is rather ridiculous, but it is human nature.
I am quite convinced that if these compulsory powers are continued in peace in the same way as in time of war the results will be even more disastrous, because at that time the farmers realised that the food supply was in jeopardy, and they had to do the best they could. Now they know that the situation is not so critical, and if they are compelled to do certain things which they feel they ought not to be compelled to do they will not put their best efforts into the work, and though you may get a larger acreage you will not get a larger food supply. The Prime Minister, and quite rightly, laid great stress on the need for greater production. The Government propose now to re-introduce into the Bill the compulsory ploughing-up orders which were taken out of it in Committee, because, they say, they must insist on having a larger acreage of arable land, yet at the very time, last spring, when they might have got a larger acreage under arable land by giving the farmers free markets, they refused to do so. I cannot understand the inconsistency of the two things. If the Government were absolutely sincere that they wanted increased arable cultivation, and certainly if they wanted the existing arable cultivation kept arable, they had the means in their hands last spring; instead of that, they kept on the control prices, and I tell the hon. Gentlemen opposite, for what it is worth, that even with a price of 90s. and 95s., under the existing cost of production, wages, and other prices which go to make up the cost of production in a quarter of wheat, with wheat at 90s. a quarter, I guarantee that with the bad summer we have had and the small yield we have had there is very little wheat that has been grown this harvest which has paid the farmer to grow it, and yet we are told that this guarantee, which is only supposed to keep the farmer from bankruptcy, is going to induce farmers to grow more corn. I say without fear of contradiction that the majority of wheat grown this year has been grown at a loss.
§ Captain FITZROY
It is paid on the average of 4 quarters to the acre. An hon. Member below me says that is a very low yield, but taking the land all over the country, he will find that in a year like this the average yield is about 3½ quarters. Consequently, in a year like this, when wheat does not pay to grow at 90s., is it likely that any farmer is going to be induced to plough up fresh land owing to the guaranteed prices? I say that the absurdity of the Government insisting upon this when they refused the only chance they had of keeping the arable land in cultivation cannot be denied. I would urge upon the Government to reconsider their decision with regard to this particular Amendment. I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that it is not from any wish to harass the Government that those of us who represent agricultural constituencies in this House have come to the conclusion that this ploughing up Amendment is really the crux of the whole of this Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman insists on forcing upon us what we know to be an inherently wrong principle, we would sooner not have the Bill at all, and shall take the responsibility of voting against it on Third Reading. I ask him at this late hour if he cannot reconsider this, because those of us who, like myself, wish an agricultural policy to be brought in by the Government, and allow the agricultural industry to know exactly where it stands, wish to support the Government in bringing in a wise agricultural Bill. I say once more, if this particular Clause is incorporated in this measure, we, as agriculturists, would sooner be without the Bill at all.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)
We have had a long Debate on this Amendment, and we had a long Debate on a previous Amendment moved the other night by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), raising very much the same point. He raised the point that there should be no control whatsoever. This is a rather more limited point, but the subject matter is the same, and I venture to hope that, after the long Debate we have had, the House will 1653 shortly be willing to come to a decision. Before it does so, there are one or two points I wish to mention in reply to some of the speeches that have been made. I have been accused of asking the House to take a very strong course in reversing the decision of the Committee. I think it is only fair to myself to say that I made it perfectly clear when the Government was defeated in Committee, that the matter could not rest where it was, and that, in return for the very substantial guaranteed prices—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"]
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I would really ask my hon. Friends to give me a hearing. I have listened to a great many speeches against the Government, and I have not interrupted anybody. I say, in return for the very substantial guaranteed prices—very substantial, anyhow, from the point of view of the taxpayer—it is only reasonable that the Government should claim a certain right of control over farmers. There is a further point. I am not asking the House to put back what was originally in the Bill. What I am asking the House to do is to enact something much more limited in scope than what was in the Bill. In the original Bill powers were asked for any improvement in cultivation, and, if we deemed it necessary, any change in cultivation. What I am asking now is a far more limited matter. In regard to improvement, it is limited to an improvement in the existing method of cultivation. In regard to a change, it is limited to the maintenance of a certain amount of arable land, where deemed necessary, with this proviso: "So, however, as not to interfere with the discretion of the occupier as to the crops to be grown." I remember in Committee the matter that was made a great deal of was the idea that officials were coming down from Whitehall and were going to dictate to the farmer who knew his job what he was to grow this year and that year. We have met that point entirely, and I appeal to the House, judging the matter fairly, though we may be to some extent reversing the decision of the Committee, we are asking for a far more limited proposal, and it is not true to say in any sense it is an absolute reversal of what the Committee did.
I need hardly say that I regret, and regret profoundly, that so many of my hon. Friends, with whom I have worked, 1654 and been glad to work, in the interests of agriculture, have taken the line they have on this particular Amendment. In our objects, I believe, we are absolutely at one. We want to make more of agriculture. We want to support our rural population. We want to see our country grow, in the way of food, as much as it possibly can. We believe a great deal more can be done. We only differ as to method. And I think, when we come to methods, that perhaps there is not so great a difference between us. My hon. Friends seem to think that even the very limited powers of compulsion which we propose in this Bill will have the opposite effect to that which the Government and all of us desire. In support of that contention, it is actually suggested that the experience of the War, when a few mistakes were bound to be made, and when we were acting in a hurry, showed, though there was a greater acreage, the actual production of food was not increased by these Ploughing-up Orders. That view is entirely incorrect. My right hon. Friend opposite is perfectly true in what he said, that there was a large increase in the production of both wheat and oats in this country. I will give the House the figures. Between the years 1916, which was before the ploughing-up policy was commenced, and 1918 the quarters of wheat grown in this country increased from 7,500,000 quarters to 11,500,000 quarters.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
How is it estimated? These are the actual figures! Then with respect to oats the increase was from 21,000,000 quarters to 31,000,000 quarters. In view of these figures the statement that has been made that the ploughing-up policy was a mistake is entirely refuted.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
What is the condition of the land to-day? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Of course my hon. Friends will realise that there has since been a decrease in the production of corn. During the War the farmers were asked to grow corn in the greatest possible quantity and they have reverted to the ordinary rotation and temporarily there is 1655 bound to be a certain diminution. But I believe that that tendency can be checked. What I put to the House is this: that if we give substantial guarantees we ought to have at all events the right to insist upon that amount of control which we ask for in this Amendment. I desire to say one or two things with regard to the attitude of hon. Members in this Debate. Right throughout this Debate it has been assumed that we are taking to ourselves the most drastic powers of control; that we are going to ruin the farmers who are risking their own capital and not the capital of the Government; that we are going to ruin them by issuing ploughing-my orders in the case of land which is not suitable for ploughing; that there is to be, no regard for the national interest or the individual interest of the farmer. The exact opposite is the truth. There are the greatest safeguards before any single ploughing-up order can be effective, and the owner, or occupier, or anybody else interested can appeal to the arbitrator. It has got to be proved first of all that the proposed change of cultivation is in the national interest and that it would not injuriously affect the interests of any person interested in the soil. We have heard nothing about that proposal in the Debate, and it has been passed over entirely. In view of that, how can anybody really say that we are going to ruin the farmer, and that we are undertaking an uneconomic system of control by ordering the ploughing up of land which is said to be unsuitable for the plough or that there is to be any real hardship whatever inflicted by the terms of this Clause? I ask the House not to judge this Clause by the cry of "Down with Government control," but judge it by the real terms of the Clause. What we want is a policy which would preserve to this country a sufficient amount of arable land instead of contending that it is good husbandry for a man to keep under grass splendid land which could produce much more food under the plough. I have been asked by the hon. Member for Grantham (Lieut.-Colonel Royds), whose opinions always carry weight with me, where we got this policy from, and the hon. and gallant Member put that question very strongly after the Prime Minister's speech. I will tell him. It comes first of all from the Selborne Report, which says:To increase production on the scale which we believe to be necessary it will be 1656 essential to increase largely the area of land devoted to arable cultivation.'
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether the Selborne Report recommended that compulsory powers should be exercised, or whether all those suggestions were to be voluntary?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
It means that the farmer ought to be made to understand that there must be more arable land, and if the farmers decline to give that result, unless we insist upon it, how on earth can the recommendation of the Selborne Report be carried out? Secondly, our policy comes from the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture, which sat in 1919, and here is an extract from their Report:We think it desirable that the State should possess the power of ensuring that the objects for which guarantees are given will be attained. We recommend, therefore, that coupled with a system of guarantees should go definite powers of oversight and control of farming operations. We consider that both the owner and occupier of the land owe a duty to the State of seeing that the holding is cultivated according to the rules of good husbandry, and that no land capable of cultivation should be allowed to lie uncultivated. We would not recommend that the system should be ordered and regulated except in times of national emergency, but we are of opinion that the Board of Agriculture and the Committee, having regard to all the circumstances relating to a particular holding, should have the power to determine which portion should be devoted to arable farming.Those are precisely the terms of the Amendment which is before the House at the present moment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Yes, but a majority is a majority. We look, not only at the size of the majority, but also at its constitution. The majority was comprised of the farmers on the Royal Commission.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am afraid that on this occasion that farmer from Wales 1657 was on the wrong side. I will go further, and give another source from which the proposal comes. It is the Agricultural Committee of this House. The very first time I spoke in this House after my appointment as Parliamentary Secretary was on the Address last year, on an Amendment by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Cautley) regretting that there was no announcement in the Speech of any real provision for the needs of the agricultural industry and population. Answering my hon. Friend, I said he was asking for an extension of the Corn Production Act and an Amendment in respect of the figures of the guarantee. My hon. Friend replied that that was what he was asking for. But that would have meant an extension of far greater powers than are contained in this particular Clause. If my hon. and gallant Friend is still in doubt as to where it came from, I will tell him another source: it came from his election address. Here is an extract from the election address of Lieut.-Colonel Royds:—This constituency is largely agricultural. I regard the passing of the Corn Production Act"—an Act which contained most extensive powers of control—by the Coalition Government, whereby increased production of the soil is aimed at, minimum prices secured to the farmers, minimum wages to the agricultural labourer, with a Wages Board empowered to fix higher rates and recognition by the State of the vital importance of agriculture, as an earnest of the intentions of the Government to maintain increased food production and the maintenance of a higher standard of living.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
As the right hon. Gentleman quotes me as in favour of the Corn Production Act, perhaps he will also continue that Act and let the State take the responsibility for the Orders and Notices they give under it as their national responsibilities in these respects.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
If my hon. and gallant Friend is prepared to vote for a continuance of the powers of the Corn Production Act, how can he refuse to vote for this very much modified and limited control which is contained in the present Bill? We have been asked in this House for an agricultural policy. I should think that no Member of the Government has been, I will not say pestered, because I did not object to it, 1658 but more plied with questions as to when we were going to produce an agricultural policy, than I have. We indicated pretty clearly that we are going to produce an agricultural policy, and we indicated pretty clearly what that policy was going to be. It was to be a policy of guaranteed prices, of rendering permanent the Agricultural Wages Board, of giving greater security of tenure to the tenant farmer; and all through we made it perfectly clear that, as a quid pro quo for greater security and for guaranteed prices, there must be a certain amount of control of cultivation, in the interest of the taxpayer, who might, and probably will, have to find the money in the near future for those guaranteed prices. We have produced our policy, based on precisely the lines that have been laid down over and over again, that were suggested at an interview with the Prime Minister, and adumbrated by the Prime Minister in his speech at Caxton Hall. We have produced that policy, and immediately my lion. Friends—the very persons who demanded it so loudly—turn round and criticise, not only this, but practically every detail of the Bill. What is our position? This is our policy, and from it we cannot depart. The whole Bill hangs together. We give security to the tenant farmer—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
We will see that when we come to it. We give guaranteed prices and compensation for disturbance to the tenant farmer. We give increased security to the agricultural labourer by rendering permanent the Agricultural Wages Board. And then, as the third part of the bargain, and a most important part, we demand that the taxpayer, who shoulders this burden, shall, at all events, have some right, so far as the national interest is concerned, and without interfering with the interests of those who are pecuniarily interested in the soil, to see that the land of the country is cultivated in the best possible manner for the production of food. From this threefold policy we cannot depart. It is all very well for hon. Members to talk of Germany. A speech was made to-night in which it was said that, if Germany produces more per acre than we do, it is because Germany has a protective system. Is that the agricultural policy you want? Do you suggest a protective system in this 1659 country? If that is the only agricultural policy that the Agricultural Committee can suggest, I tell them that it is a policy which the country will not adopt. It is an impossible policy, and my hon. Friends know that it is impossible. I put it to the House that this Bill has been produced, has been carried through its Second Reading by a very large majority, and has been passed through a Committee, and it must either proceed on its present main lines or it will have to be withdrawn. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw it:"] Then we shall get back to that laissez faire policy, that neglect of agriculture which has been condemned by nobody more strongly than by my hon. Friends who now ask us to withdraw the Bill. Between this Bill and laissez faire there is no alternative. The Government are convinced that agriculture has been neglected too long. A policy is required; they consider that the policy of this Bill, of which this particular Amendment is a vital part, must prevail. Though I regret, and no man more, to be at variance with my hon. Friends, whose opinions I respect, I ask the House to support the Government in this matter, because I regard it as the central part of the Bill.
§ Sir ROBERT THOMAS
It is only fair that the House should also hear the recommendations of the Minority Report on this very important matter. My right hon. Friend complained, when I interrupted him, that it would take too long for him to read all this from their recommendations. It is to be found on page 11. The Minority Members consisted of eleven, and the Majority of twelve. Therefore, I think the Minority Report on such a matter as this should have more consideration than has been given to it. At all events, I think the House should know how the Minority Report reads.If the State is to possess the powers of ensuring that the object for which the guarantees are given will be obtained, the only way in which it can be done under the guarantees is by giving the boards of agriculture or county committees power to enforce cereal cultivation. We do not believe that such powers could be practically applied, and we are of opinion that it would be against the best interests of the industry to attempt to control farming in such a manner. It was submitted to us in evidence that a certain amount of unsuitable land was ploughed up under compul- 1660 sion during the War, and it is probable that the factors which caused this mistake to be made will continue to be operative in the future if the recommendations of the majority are acted upon. If compulsory orders are issued by county committees—I should like to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to this—they are bound to have their character to a large extent determined by the natural desire of the members of such Committees to act in a way which will be apparently fair to each and all of their neighbours, but which would in fact entail the growing of cereals on unsuitable land. On the other hand, if the orders are issued by Government officials they will necessarily have difficulties which spring from ignorance of local conditions.I think that report deserves every consideration. In addition to that, we had this matter threshed out in Committee. The Leader of the House told us, when he spoke this evening on the Ministry of Health Bill, that it was his desire always to pay attention and to give consideration to the feelings and opinions of his supporters. The feelings of his supporters in this matter, if they are given fair play to-night, are certainly against these compulsory ploughing orders. Speaking for Wales, we, as usual, are unanimous on this question. My right hon. Friends says, "When you get the guaranteed price, something that is really substantial, you must have control." We do not want guaranteed prices. That is our position. My right hon. Friend knows that the Welsh Farmers' Union have passed resolutions throughout the country, saying that they want not only not to have control but they do not want these guaranteed prices at all. We are specially independent in Wales. We stand on our own merits. All we want is fair play and an open market, and we do not want to depend for our profits on the taxpayers. Therefore it will not do for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us, "We are giving you these magnificent guaranteed prices, and therefore we must control you." We say very respectfully, "Keep your guaranteed prices, and also keep hands on. We do not want any control whatever." I shall certainly vote against the Government.
§ Colonel Sir ROBERT WILLIAMS
I am against any protective measures as a rule, but the question for the House and the country is: Do they want an increased home supply of cereals. If so, you have to remember that this country 1661 is not, and nothing will ever make it, a wheat-growing country. It is an oat-growing country, a barley-growing country, and a stock-growing country, but not a wheat-growing country. If the populations of our big towns are in earnest that they want to have a reserve supply of home-grown wheat in case of emergency they must pay for it. It is all very well to talk about taking away the guaranteed prices. Very good, for this year, but five years hence, when the American and other corn comes in, whore will the prices of wheat fall? They will fall down to where they were before.
§ Sir R. WILLIAMS
Very nearly, but not quite. They will fall much below what we can possibly grow wheat for, and then the manufacturing districts have to make up their mind, are they going to pay the world prices for their bread or are they going to ensure against a shortage of wheat owing to a war or something else, and take care that there
§ is a much larger production of wheat? If they do, they must pay for it, and they must tell the farmer that if he will grow wheat to satisfy the desire of the country for a national reserve of wheat in the country itself, they must guarantee the price to the farmer which in ordinary years will pay for the cultivation of wheat. I am not talking about this particular Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I have a minute more. That is the real position on which we have to think before we vote. Of course I shall vote for the Government because, although I disagree with them in certain details, in the broad principle they have stated we are bound to support the Bill in order that we may have what I think is the most important thing of all, namely, a national reserve of wheat in time of need.
§ Question put, "That the words '(b) that the production of food on any land can in the national interest' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 81.1663
|Division No. 362.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Gardiner, James||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Manville, Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Glanville, Harold James||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Green, Albert (Derby)||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Morris, Richard|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Gregory, Holman||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Greig, Colonel James William||Neal, Arthur|
|Barnett. Major R. W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Grundy, T. W.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')||Parker, James|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hayday, Arthur||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Pratt, John William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Cairns, John||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Howard, Major S. G.||Robertson, John|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Irving, Dan||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Clough, Robert||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Croft, Lieut-Colonel Henry Page||Kenyon, Barnet||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Simm, M. T.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Elliot. Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lawson, John J.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B, M.||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lorden, John William||Swan, J. E.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lunn, William||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Taylor, J.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Ganzonl, Captain Francis John C.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Tryon, Major George Clement||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Winfrey, Sir Richard||Younger, Sir George|
|Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Waterson, A. E.||Wise, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Whitla, Sir William||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)||Captain Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sprat, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Lloyd, George Butler||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Lort-Williams, J.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Turton, E. R.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Morrison, Hugh||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Gardner, Ernest||Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Gould, James C.||Nail, Major Joseph||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wilson, Lieut. Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Guinness, Lieut. Col. Hon. W. E.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hinds, John||Rae, H. Norman||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn.W.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Captain Spender Clay and Captain Fitzroy.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered Tomorrow.
§ The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.1664
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Eleven o'clock.