§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Sir EDWIN CORNWALL in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it is expedient to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of such sums, not exceeding in the whole nine hundred and fifty thousand pounds, as are required for the payment of calls on share capital in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Limited; to authorise the Treasury to borrow money by the creation of securities for the issue of such sums or the repayment thereof, the principal of and interest on any such securities to be charged on the Consolidated Fund; and to amend the Law with respect to the application of dividends or interest on capital held in the said company.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hilton Young)
This is a formal Money Resolution, preliminary to a Bill it will be my duty to introduce to the House shortly. The Resolution, of course, is necessitated by the form of the Bill being actually and technically a Money Bill, but the substance of the matter is this: It will be within the memory of the Committee that it is several years now since the State first took an interest in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (Acquisition of Capital) Acts, 1914 and 1919. Under these Acts we purchased, for reasons of policy which were fully discussed at that time, a controlling interest in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company of £4,250,000.
§ Mr. YOUNG
Yes. By this purchase, the Committee will observe, we undertook a liability towards the company and towards those who entered into contracts and other relations with the company of paying the uncalled capital upon these shares as and when the call for that uncalled capital should be made. At that time we told the House that it would be several years before such call was likely to be paid, and so eventually it has turned 1700 out. Several years have elapsed before the desirability of paying up the remainder of uncalled capital has been realised. It is in order to enable the Government to satisfy the liability and to pay up this uncalled capital on the one million ordinary shares that this legislation is now introduced. The purpose of the Bill to which this Resolution leads is to enable the Government to pay up the balance of 19s. per share on the one million partly paid-up £1 ordinary shares.
The circumstances which bring this about are the natural and normal expansion and growth of a great and very prosperous industrial undertaking. The fresh capital required by the company is in order to expand and develop in the ordinary course its very profitable undertaking. I understand the actual purpose for which this fresh capital is required is the construction of tank steamers for the carriage of oil. Apart from these ordinary commercial circumstances which have made it desirable for the company at the present time to have fresh capital, I believe the Committee will agree that, from the point of view of the Government itself, once we have undertaken this thing, it is really quite desirable that we should carry it through, and not have any liability resting upon the Government: that we should discharge these contingent liabilities at an early date.
The particular investment, as the Committee is aware, has proved a highly profitable one. This company, in a single word, is a great industrial success. I need only quote two or three recent dividends to show that. In 1918–19 the dividend, free of Income Tax, was 10 per cent, on the ordinary shares; in 1919 it was 20 per cent.; in 1920–21–20 per cent, declared and already paid. There is, therefore, no cause for apprehension by His Majesty's Government from the point of view of profit in this particular undertaking. The form of Statute to which this Resolution leads follows very closely, I think verbatim, et literatim, the form of previous enactments dealing with these matters. It takes power to enable the Government to meet this call which will amount, as the Committee will have already calculated, to £950,000, and it further takes power to authorise the Treasury to borrow money, and so on. I think that is the whole structure and also the substance of the matter relevant to this proposal. I need only particularly 1701 emphasise that this is taking power to discharge a liability which we undertook under the various Acts from 1914 to 1919.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
For the convenience of the Committee, will the hon. Gentleman kindly give us figures of the share capital?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This Anglo-Persian Oil investment has already been as satisfactory to the State as the Suez Canal shares' venture, and we all hope that it will prove satisfactory in the future. In his statement this afternoon, however, the hon. Gentleman has passed over what I consider to be the most vital part of this venture. He has omitted to state whether or not the Government hold the controlling influence in this company, that they not merely hold the shares, but that they, up till now, have controlled the company by owning the major part of the voting power. I want to be assured, in the first place, that the recent increase in the capital of the company, both Preference and Ordinary shares, has not risked our voting control. Do we still 1702 possess the power to direct the operations of the company? I hope that is so.
I now want to ask why it is necessary to come forward at the present moment when money is difficult to get and ask for this 19s. per share call? Anyone who understands this question must be aware that the dividend of 10 per cent, paid in 1918–19 and 20 per cent, in the two following years by no means absorbed the whole of the profit of the company during those years, and if the profits had been put to the reserve fund I am sure the shareholders would have been as content as they are at the present moment, and this 19s. call might have been made upon those reserves. Other companies put big sums to reserve, and they use that reserve to pay up shares. I think that course would have been infinitely more preferable than coming to the country now for this money, when we are not even able to find money for the starving peasants of Russia. I hope that the Government still control the company, and that they still have a majority of the shares. If that is so, why is it that they have a minority on the board of directors? It seems to me that control over the shares ought to carry with it control over the directors. I believe there are two directors nominated by the Government out of a board of nine or ten members, and therefore the Government is not in a position to dictate the policy of the company. We ought to have a more public-spirited control of this company. I believe the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also controls the oil shale mines in Scotland.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not like to be interrupted and I want an answer from the Government. I believe the Scottish oil shale mines are closed down, or else the men employed there are working at such wages that they are forced to get assistance from the boards of guardians in order to keep body and soul together. If that is so, it does not reflect credit upon the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and it looks as thought they were developing Persian oil and closing down other sources of supply in order to obtain a monopoly and get a higher price for Persian oil. If this company is to be directed in the interests of the whole community, then they ought to see that 1703 the Scottish mines are developed at least as fully as their undertaking in Persia.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Perhaps the hon. Member will be able to make his own contribution to the Debate later on. I understand that the directors are closing down the shale mines in Scotland because they can get oil cheaper elsewhere. I submit that when we are adding to the capital of this company, and when we are going to pass a Bill to increase its capital to enable it to raise another £950,000, we should use this opportunity to increase at the same time the representation of the public on the board of directors, so that we may have the direction of this company in the hands of people who will be actuated by the interests of the community as a whole, and not simply the interests of the shareholders.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
The speech of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down is sufficient to satisfy this Committee of the utter undesirability of the Government having any proprietary interest in any commercial undertaking. Except purely for State reasons and State policy, no circumstances would justify the investment of public money in a company which is being run for profit. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) seemed to be in the difficulty of not being quite sure whether he wants this company to pay dividends to shareholders, or whether it should be exploited in order that certain people should be kept at work in an unprofitable undertaking. I think it is most undesirable that the Government should have any interest in this or any other trading company. We do, however, want to congratulate the Government that they are asking the Committee to approve of the paying of this money for use by a board of directors who do seem to be able to work this company successfully. The Government have had a very sad and sorry experience in making contributions to the shares of industrial concerns. I do not know what we have lost in British Dyes or British Cellulose, but what I am sure about is that the Government ought not to have bought a single share in either of those 1704 companies. In asking the Committee to pass this Vote we are merely carrying out a contractual obligation.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
I do not think there is any need that these things should be obscure. The Government have undertaken to subscribe for one million £1 shares and they have paid 1s. per share. Now the directors have decided that the Government should pay the remaining 19s. and therefore the Committee has nothing more to do except honour this obligation. Although this Committee will unanimously agree to honour this contract and we are in a position of being able to congratulate the Government upon their only successful financial investment, it would be satisfactory to the Committee if the Government would say that, so far as they are prepared now to declare a policy, they will declare that they will not ask any Committee of this House in the future to make any contribution whatsoever to any industrial concern in this country. Unfortunately we have made an investment in the beet sugar industry and the Government have no right to go on making investments of that kind. How can any Member of the Government express the Government policy upon an oil business, because only oil men understand the business. Does anyone imagine for a moment that there is sufficient commercial business capacity in the Government to direct such a vast commercial undertaking as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company? There is no collective wisdom in the Government which does not reside in any single Member of it. My hon. Friend says that the Government have a majority of shares and that it ought to have a majority on the Board. Who is to nominate those directors? The Government. Who are they to nominate? Only Members of this House, because this House only can pledge public money and credit. This is public money, and this House can alone protect public money.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I point out that exactly the reverse is the policy pursued when we nominate a director on the Suez Canal. He resigns his seat in this House when he becomes a director, and the same would be done here.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
That is my very point. He becomes a paid servant of the company and receives a fee as a director, and his sole obligation is to the shareholders of the company. If this House continues this policy of finding public money for public concerns, it seems to me impossible that this House can discharge its duty to the people whose money it has taken by keeping in its hands the control of the company for which public money has been taken. The hon. and gallant Member asked whether the Government have a majority on the board. Of course they have not, and they could not have. The Government control the shares of this company, and the only way in which they can do their duty is to nominate the best men who are competent to run an oil business, and that they have done. They have only two directors and they are in a minority. It is perfectly clear, unless public money is to be lost, that when public money is invested in a company there must be one policy, and that is to try and protect the capita] invested in the company and to make it earn a dividend which will be some amelioration of the public exchequer. Like every other Member of the Committee, I shall support the Government in asking for this grant, because we must vote it, and I am glad to congratulate the Government on so successful an experiment, but I do hope they will say that they disapprove of this policy which they unwillingly undertook during the War of investing public money in commercial concerns and that it is going to be brought to a conclusion.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have provided myself with the Stock Exchange Official Intelligence. Unfortunately, the only one that I could find in the Library was for 1920 instead of 1921, but there is sufficient in it for my purpose. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, quite unintentionally, misled the Committee. He said, and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down supported him, that the Government were only carrying out an obligation. They were under a statutory obligation to pay this money if the call were made, and therefore they were obliged to meet their obligation. That is not so. According to the Stock Exchange Official Intelligence, the Government have the right to appoint two 1706 directors, which is a minority of the board. These two directors, however, have very exceptional powers. They can negative any proposition made by the other directors. Therefore, when the proposal was made to the board to make a call on these shares it would have been within the power of the two directors appointed by the Government to negative the proposition, and once the proposition was negatived the necessity to raise this £950,000 would have disappeared. That being so, there is some force in the statement made by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) that this is rather an unpropitious moment to come forward and ask the country to find nearly £1,000,000.
I understand from the Stock Exchange Official Year Book that the Government have 5,200,000 ordinary shares. Some of them are fully paid and some of them are not. The total issued ordinary capital of the company is £7,500,000, and therefore the Government own two-thirds of the actual capital besides having two directors on the Board who can negative any proposition. It is said that this call is made in order to provide tank steamers. Again, I see that the company own 22 steamers. I should have thought that that was a fair number to own. They succeeded with 22 steamers in paying 20 per cent. in 1919 and 20 per cent, in 1920. I should have thought that that was good enough without finding any more steamers. I do not know whether anyone has more steamers to sell. Under these circumstances, this Committee ought to consider very carefully whether it is advisable to give this money to the Government. The suggestion has been made that this is an unavoidable liability which the Government are in honour bound to fulfil. It is nothing of the sort. It is merely a call of capital in the ordinary way, not to meet any obligation entered into and not by a company which is in a bad way and requires more money, but in order to provide more steamers, and the call can only be made if the Government consent. If the Government, through their two directors, refuse to consent, then the call need not be made.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
If the two Government directors have already consented and if it has been passed as a minute of the Board, has not the opportunity for the Government to object gone, and is it 1707 not a fact that this Committee is committed to carrying out the obligation?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As far as my small experience goes, it is always possible to revoke the decision of a Board in the same way as you can repeal an Act of Parliament. It must be remembered that all these decision made by the Government are dependent on the consent of the House of Commons. There appears to be an idea, not only in Government circles, but also in the minds of hon. Members, that all the Government have to do is to say, "We will do so and so, and provide £10,000,000 or £20,000,000," but it must be understood that before the Government can do this they have to get the consent of the House of Commons, and, without that consent, they cannot comply with the arrangements they make. It should always be the custom in this country to bear that principle in mind, and I feel therefore that the argument of the hon. Gentleman on the point falls to the ground. Now I come to the dividends that have been paid—10 per cent, in 1918, 20 per cent, in 1919, and 20 per cent, in 1921. An hon. and gallant Member near me suggests that that is profiteering. I do not say so, but it is a curious thing there should be so few Members of the Labour party here to speak on a question which my hon. Friend describes as profiteering. I am rather sorry the company did pay these dividends. In my younger days I bad a good deal of experience in business, and I learnt that if a gentleman living in the West End came down to the City and started to speculate, if he lost on every speculation, as a sensible man, he soon gave it up, but if, unfortunately, on one occasion he made a profit, he continued speculating, losing in nine cases out of 10 until he was ruined. I have a case of that kind in my mind, an absolutely sad case.
I am afraid that that is what is going to happen to the Government. The Financial Secretary was very pleased to announce that the company had made these dividends, but he seemed to forget all those other wonderful investments of the Government which have resulted in heavy loss, and in some cases in the total loss of the capital put in. Unless we have further explanations, I do not see why it is necessary to call up this sum of money. I should be inclined to think 1708 that the best course would be for the Committee to negative the proposal altogether. We do not want to encourage the Government to enter into these business operations. In this case they have done fairly well, but let them be content. There are other people interested in the company; we do not want to put difficulties in their way, and if they think it is vital to increase the capital of the company in order to do certain things, let the Government sell their shares to them. Let me offer this piece of advice to the Financial Secretary. The time to sell is when the company is prospering, when it is paying a 20 per cent, dividend—a real dividend, not like a Hooley dividend, a real dividend, properly earned. He will get a very good price for the shares and will not need to come and ask for more money. Probably the Government will make a profit on their bargain which they can use in paying some of the losses they have made in other directions, and we shall be relieved from having our Government interested in commercial transactions. This, I suggest, is sound, commercial advice, a sound business proposition. After all, oil is a speculative undertaking. I do not know anything more speculative. Persia too, does not seem to be a very settled country, indeed it is nearly as bad as Ireland. Here is an opportunity to get out of the investment at a good profit. Let the Government take it, and in order to encourage them to adopt that course, let the Committee refuse to give them this money.
Mr. GIDEON MURRAY
I wish to support the right hon. Baronet who has just spoken in what he has recommended to the Government. I do not wish to traverse the arguments he has put forward so admirably, but I may augment them by reminding the Committee that within the past few weeks there has been a new issue of Anglo-Persian shares, a preference issue subscribed by the public many times over. If that, be the case, and having regard to the fact that the Government directors of this company have the power to negative any proposal that is made by the other directors, I cannot understand why those directors should have done what they did, and why the Government should be coming to the House of Commons to-day to ask for this £950,000. Why did the Government directors not suggest to the other directors 1709 that a better plan would be to go to the City to get the money, which I am sure would have been quite possible? There is another point which I wish to raise particularly, and that is in connection with the whole question of Government trading I admit there are certain matters such as water and even tramways in the City of Glasgow which are admirably controlled by the municipality. That is public service, although very often one interferes with the other. When, however, the Government enter into commercial propositions like oil, cellulose, dyes, and so forth, they enter into an arena of which they know nothing at all. Further, while we have heard to-day speeches commenting on the successful way in which the Government have carried out this undertaking, we have been told nothing of what the result has been outside this country from the point of view of international policy. We all know that during the past two or three years a great deal of light has flooded in upon the oil industry, owing to the enormous competition, in different parts of the world, by different countries and different companies, in order to secure that very valuable source of fuel for the particular countries which the companies represented. The United States of America is the country which, perhaps above all others, is interested with us in obtaining adequate supplies of fuel for domestic purposes, and I am aware—it is common knowledge in the City—that a great deal of feeling has been aroused in the United States by reason of the fact that the British Government have entered into competition with them in what they consider to be essentially a private enterprise.
The hon. Gentleman says it is right that we should enter into national competition with private enterprise in America.
That, apparently, is what my hon. and gallant Friend would like to see. I do not want to enter into such a broad issue as that at any length, but I do not think that my hon. and gallant Friend will get many members 1710 of the Committee to agree with him on that point. I only suggest to the Committee that there is the gravest danger when our Government enters into competition with private enterprise in countries like the United States. It not only affects the particular issue of oil, but all the other issues of foreign and international interest which may form the subject of negotiations between the two Governments, and I should like to see, as soon as possible, a reversal of this policy of the British Government entering into private enterprise. For that and for the other reasons which I have already stated, I propose to support the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London in any action that he may take in order to negative this Resolution.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I have listened with very great interest to the argument which the hon. Gentleman has just adduced before the Committee with respect to this Vote. I want at once to make it perfectly clear that not for a single moment do I desire to put forward the argument that the Government are the best people to take the place of the business men of this country. What I want to substantiate is this: When the very sinews and life-blood of our industries are jeopardised—oil fuel, coal and the like—as ofttimes they are, by the illegitimate and disloyal operations in which some countries abroad engage, it is the vital duty of this Government to step in and protect the bread and butter, protect the industry, and protect the industrials of this country. Perhaps the Committee will forgive a personal illustration. During the war days, when I had the honour to serve in a very insignificant and humble capacity, we took the Flammenwerfer of the Germans and, in our research laboratories, we improved upon and dealt with that agency of destruction in such fashion as to protect our own soldiers; but in those days, neither from the United States of America nor from any of our Allies, were we able to obtain all the necessary oils to enable us to deal with that weapon, although the Germans were able to obtain them; [HON. MEMBERS: "What oils?"] If I were to state that, I should be stating what I am not permitted to state, and the Committee must forgive me for keeping that knowledge to myself. That was with respect to war, but in industry, when the 1711 great cotton mills of Lancashire, the woollen mills of Yorkshire, many smelting works in different parts of the country, and the great iron and steel rolling mills were desirous of getting coal and other fuel to carry on their industry, and this was not possible, it was nothing but the foresight of the Government that made it possible to obtain oil to carry on the industries of the country, and, while arguments can be flung across the Floor of the Committee that the difficulties of obtaining fuel have been the result of some of our present bad trade, and of the locking of the wheels of industry, I suggest that the foresight of the Government in making oil marketable and applicable for the use of industry, as a substitute for coal, did do something to reduce the deadlock which has frequently obtained in industry. When we remember the foresight of the Government in regard to the Suez Canal and the shares which they then obtained, we must agree that to-day we have much to thank the Government for in regard to keeping open the near highway to India. Therefore I feel that the Committee would be lacking in its duty to the industrials of this country if it allowed it to be made possible for the intriguing which does obtain in some oil markets to jeopardise the free and sufficient supply of oil, incase the time should ever again come when the question of a substitute for coal may be vital for employment and trade. I am sorry that there should be any question as to the condition of business men on the Front Bench. I am sorry that when a man comes on to the Front Bench he must relinguish all connection with industry. What we do in the House of Commons is to take a man from the ranks of industry, put him on the Front Bench, and compel him to give up his active connection with industry and business; and then we expect him to guide and handle the great movement of industry in our own country. I suggest that we should do well to revise and reconsider the rule to which Ministers are compelled to conform by, shall I say, ostracising themselves from the active conduct of business, for thus you lose that really necessary touch of trade, employers and employés—both at home and abroad. I do not think that the Government should take the place of the great business chiefs of our country, but I think it is vital for our industry, for our industrials, for the 1712 working people of this country, that there should be ample supplies of alternative fuel for industrial requirements over and above those which are now obtainable in the form of coal and other fuels, and also that naval, military and air strategy demand from the Government their consideration of this most important supply. I shall, therefore, support the Government in the Lobby on this Vote.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I will not stand between the Committee and other speakers for more than a minute or two, but I want to make it clear that there are two quite distinct questions which have been discussed. There is, firstly, the question of the desirability or undesirability of the Government investing in oil and conducting an oil business. Then there is the second question whether it is desirable that they should come to the House of Commons now and ask for £950,000. Those are two entirely different questions. With regard to the first question, I hope that the Committee, if I may respectfully say so, will not go too deeply into this question as to whether or not it is desirable for the Government to have a share in this oil business. It is a very difficult and a very complicated question. I am myself altogether opposed, generally speaking, to Government trading. I do not believe it answers, and I do not think our recent experience is at all favourable to that procedure, but this is a very special case, and I do not want to express any final opinion on it. I do not think it can be dealt with on general principles of Government trading. A very peculiar position prevails in the oil industry. The great mass of it is under the control of a very small number of companies—three or four at the outside. Some people think, at any rate, that there is a very close alliance between these companies. It may well be a question whether it is desirable that this country, in a great national interest and the supply of oil, is, after all, a great national interest—should be entirely at the mercy of these commercial combinations. It is a very difficult and elaborate question and I do not propose to go into it, because the issue raised to-day is a very much narrower one. Let as assume, in the Government's favour, that it was perfectly right for them to have entered into this oil transaction. One of the 1713 conditions on which they entered quite likely was that they were to have control of the policy of the company, and my right hon. Friend has explained that they took measures to secure that nothing which this company did was done without the consent of the Government.
So that we are really asked whether we approve of the policy of raising £950,000 out of the taxes at this moment for the purposes of this company. The Committee ought to hesitate a long time before they sanction such a measure as that. We have had practically no reason put to us why it is necessary at this moment to raise this money. The Financial Secretary said two things. He said it was necessary to buy tank steamers, but he did not say why the 20 or 22 steamers which the company have got are not sufficient. He also said it was a good thing to pay oft a contingent liability. As a broad general principle that may be true, but it is a bad thing to pay off a contingent liability when you are already in want of money, and the right thing to do is to keep that going until you are in a more fortunate financial position. I confess that after the reply we received yesterday about the Russian famine, if we were the very next day to sanction a loan three times as great as that which was asked for the starving peasants in Russia, we should be likely to expose ourselves to very grave and serious criticisms. Therefore, I shall vote against this Resolution.
§ 3.0 P.M.
Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER CLAY
The Noble Lord spoke of the close association which is alleged to exist between the different oil companies, and undoubtedly that creates a considerable danger for the consumers. I feel that the Government bought these shares originally in order to safeguard the oil supply of the Navy, and also to protect the consumers against the danger of a possible combine. I would suggest to the Government that if they are out to protect the consumer, surely it is time that oil prices were cut, rather than that dividends of 20 per cent, should continue to be paid. There is a great danger of Government capital being used in these trading concerns. I know that whenever the Government, by any possible action, interferes in a matter of this kind, the Suez Canal shares are quoted as a precedent. It is true that that gamble 1714 turned out extremely well, but my impression of that transaction was that those shares were bought by Mr. Disraeli without any relation to the Government at all. That gentleman had a Jewish flair for business, and the transaction turned out very well, but there is no reason why it should be used to sanction this transaction. In the matter of these shares the Government should sell their rights on the market. I should imagine that the value of these rights must be many shillings on every one of these million shares. It is possible that the Government, if they sold these shares, might lose the controlling interest in the company. I personally think it would be a good thing if they sold all their shares in the company. But even if they sold the million pounds worth instead of coming to this House and asking for more money, they would have a profit to show on their transaction. The Financial Secretary came down this afternoon and made a very faint allusion to how the money was going to be used. He said he believed it was going to be used for tank steamers, but I should have thought that at a time of great financial stringency this Committee was entitled to a better reason than supposition from the Parliamentary Secretary as to how this money was to be spent. Therefore, unless further information is given, I shall feel compelled to follow the hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) into the Division Lobby against the Government.
§ Mr. AMMON
I little thought a few days ago when I entered this House that I should find myself more or less in agreement with the Government in any issue before the House. The position now before us is that the Government has adopted the policy which has been formulated and advocated by my hon. Friends of the Labour party for many years, namely, that the Government or municipalities should take steps to protect the community against the increase in the cost of living that arises when certain things are monopolies of private interest.
§ Mr. AMMON
This country is the second largest user of oil in the world, and it is quite necessary that some steps should be taken to see that the public are protected against the depredations of 1715 the private trader. During the War it became necessary to protect the public by taking control of certain interests which would have exploited the community in the hour of the nation's trial. Now it seems we are in a similar position, that it has got to be done when we are trying to rebuild and reorganise industry and win the peace back again. I imagine the answer to the Noble Lord's criticism is surely that it is good business to put your money into a concern paying 20 per cent. I presume, if it is good that that should go into private profits, it is better that it should go into the national coffers. The only criticism I have to make is that it is a pity the Government did not go the whole way and secure the absolute control of the directors as well as having a large share in the business. If one wanted an illustration we have it very close to our doors. I am a member of the London County Council, and by the fact that the Council owns a certain class of the transit monopoly of this city we have been able to keep down prices to the travelling public in a way which would otherwise not have been possible.
§ Mr. AMMON
Not at the cost of the ratepayers, because it is the best paying of any of the traffic authorities on the streets of London, whether it be private or municipal ownership. It is real good business that the Government are taking steps in this direction to break the power of private monopoly, which would exploit the interests and needs of the community under any circumstances, and make their profits a burden and detriment to the community. That being so I hope this is simply the forerunner of further steps, and they will find that out of sheer necessity they will be driven to adopt the programme of the Labour party.
§ Mr. YOUNG
The issues are, as indicated by the Noble Lord, more closely confined, in so far as they are relevant to the Motion, than some wider and indeed more interesting issues which have been raised. It would be out of place for me to offer any observations on the general policy of investment by the Government 1716 in industry or in this particular industry. I recognise, however, the very strong arguments in favour of such a course which were indicated by the Noble Lord. Any suggestion that this is an indication of a policy on the part of the Government of continued and enlarged investment in industry is entirely beside the mark.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
I did not suggest that that was the indication. On the contrary I asked that the hon. Gentleman should give an assurance that the Government would go no further.
§ Mr. YOUNG
I rather gathered that the hon. Gentleman suggested that this was an indication of a policy which we were now enacting in this Resolution. I entirely understand his explanation. I may point out, in order to make it clear beyond the possibility of doubt, that there is no question of policy involved in this Resolution. We are simply taking steps consequential upon a question of policy resolved on many years ago. No general pronouncement on such high matters would perhaps be expected from me on this occasion, but so far as this Resolution is concerned, it must certainly be taken as no indication of any intention to take a single step further in the direction of Government investment in industry. Let that be made clear. Some of the criticisms which have been suggested appear to me rather to suggest that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company either was or ought to be conducted on the lines or in the manner of a Government Department. Nothing could possibly be further from what is the case or what I imagine in the opinion of men of common sense ought to be the case. This is a great commercial concern that lives its own life and carries on its own proceedings, and has carried them on with remarkable success under the control and direction of an extremely able and distinguished body of experts, than whom it would be impossible to find men more qualified in the whole of that great industry. It is that practical and substantial independence of this company which in my opinion, and I daresay in the opinion of many Members of this House, has been the chief contributor to its remarkable success. It would, therefore, give the discussion a wrong orientation to say that this company operates under the thumb or the imme- 1717 diate control of the Treasury or of any other Department of the Government or of any Minister. The vital interests of the Government in this concern are secured by those directors of the board and those provisions as to the power of those directors which have been referred to by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury).
Let me refer to what I understand has been the principal criticism against this proposition. I do not think a single word has been said which avails to displace that consideration of overwhelming importance which I advanced in laying this proposal before the Committee, namely, that this is, in fact, a legal liability, not a statutory liability, which has accrued against the Government.
§ Mr. YOUNG
I speak with great diffidence on a question of law in reply to a question from so distinguished a member of that profession, but as far as a plain man can speak one supposes that where there is a call based upon shares with an uncalled liability, that call made by the directors in a formal manner imposes upon the holder of the shares a legal liability which can be enforced in the Courts?
§ Mr. YOUNG
One step at a time. At the present time I offer the suggestion to the Committee that this is, in fact, a legal liability which has accrued against the Government as holders of shares with an uncalled liability. Upon that, two contentions arise. It is said: "You need not have done it at this time." In the second place it is said: "If it has been done it can be undone." Here is a great and valuable asset in the hands of the Government. How are you going to affect the value of that asset if you declare to the business world that you are not going to meet your uncalled liability on the shares? What is going to be the effect upon the credit of this company if, when that call has been formally declared by the directors of the company, the Govern- 1718 ment refuses to meet its liability? You would shatter the credit of the company.
§ Mr. YOUNG
Many men of great experience in affairs in the City of London, and in this House—I myself have some slight experience also—know how credit affects investments in the market in the City of London, and I assert that when you have a valuable asset of this sort, if you desire to destroy its value in the way you most completely could, it would be after the formal declaration of a call to repudiate your liability, or to express any unwillingness to meet your liability for the uncalled capital. The other principal argument urged against this proposal is, as I understand it, that this is not a good time to make a call. To deal with that argument, I will give away for a moment the contention, which I have strongly made, that this is an accrued liability which we ought to meet, and which it would be fatal not to meet, and I will deal with the point of whether this was or was not the right time for making the call of the uncalled liability. Reverting to what I said at the beginning of my observations, we are not trying, from the Treasury or from the Government, to manage the affairs of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. As regards its affairs, we follow the advice of the extremely able board of directors who have brought it to such success in its career. If they tell us, even if they were to tell us on their mere ipse dixit, that this is the right time for the company to call on the share capital, and it was their view that they had a good case, then, in view of the record of the management of this company, it would be most unwise for us to refuse to agree to the call.
When there were overwhelming financial circumstances of a different sort in the past, on one occasion such a suggestion has been referred back to the directors of the company. Considerations, which it is needless for me to particularise, might not have been present to their minds, and the call was postponed. On this occasion no such circumstances prevail. The need for capital is in the life of the company. I have been to give a further account of what that need may be. I can most briefly express it in this way. The company's need for finance is a bigger thing than the capital 1719 that will be obtained by the call on the shares, substantially bigger, and, as was said quite rightly by the hon. and gallant Member, there has been a recent successful issue of capital for the company. Substantially more is needed and more will be provided by this uncalled liability. It has been found in the past, for reasons which will readily explain themselves to those familiar with the investing market, that the existence of the uncalled liability is a serious limit to a company obtaining money in the ordinary way in the financial market. The question is the price at which they can get the money, and if the company can get this money cheaper by getting this uncalled liability out of the way, then it is good business to do so. That is the urgent wish of the directors of the company. It is their recommendation. Unless we are prepared to set ourselves up against the managers of that business, which we are not prepared to do, we should be very foolish to reject that recommendation.
We have here an asset of great value, but we who pay in are not embarking on any irrecoverable loan or a loan the recovery of which is very doubtful or indefinite. Everyone differentiates—from the financial point of view which is that from which I now regard it—between this and a loan to Russia. You put in your 19s. in regard to each of your shares, and it adds more than 19s. to the value of your asset. If you refuse to do so, now that you are asked to do so, you destroy the value of your asset. It would be fantastically bad business to refuse to make this call. I must get back, in conclusion, to the point that this is our liability. We have to obtain the consent of the Committee, and we come to the Committee for its consent, advancing what we believe to be overwhelming reasons why that consent should be given, but let it not be put against me, that there has been any anticipation or any surprise to the Committee in this matter. This House undertook that it would meet this liability, by the original Act, and this is merely the normal consequence of business, and we come to ask the Committee to fulfil the liability that has been undertaken.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
At the very end of the Resolution the Financial Secretary proposes to take power to amend the law with respect to the application of dividends or interest on capital held in the company. He bas not given us any indication of the alteration which he intends to make in the law. Under the original Act of 1914, and certainly under that of 1919, any dividend that is received from this company is to be applied, firstly, in the repayment of debt which has been sanctioned, and then the remainder is to be handed over to the Treasury, I presume, to be used for the reduction of debt or the relief of taxation. Now the Government proposes to alter and amend the law, and I want to know in what respect they intend to make the alteration? Are they going to take power to invest any dividends received from this company, in certain other of their companies, of which we have a list in this White Paper—a really appalling list?
§ Mr. YOUNG
Let me hasten to give my hon. Friend the assurance he desires. The Clause to which he refers is a formal Clause, which is necessary in order to reinforce the original provisions. The effect of it will be that there will be powers to adjust, to the fresh circumstances, the former scheme; but all payments from the company shall be in repayment of the sums paid for the shares.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
Has that system been in operation and if so what proportion of shares have been repaid and what is the remainder of this particular issue?
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman whether his figures are still right and whether the Government still holds 4,000,000 shares, fully paid, and another 1,050,000 making 5,050,000 in all. May I also ask him if these shares are being repaid at par, and, if so, is not the advantage of the 1721 present situation being lost to the Government and the taxpayer? At the present moment the strong position of the hon. Gentleman is this, that if this House consents to pay up these shares you immediately make a pound share worth £3 and you are improving the value of the Government's holding by £2,000,000. If it is true that there is to be an alteration of the law in respect of the application of dividends, so that the Government is to be repaid at this moment at par, surely then my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) is in a very strong position.
§ Mr. YOUNG
I think the hon. Member is under a slight, yet a grave, misapprehension. There is no question of cancelling the shares as the money is repaid. It is simply an Exchequer transaction, and as we receive the money for dividends from the company, we pay off the money that we borrowed with which to buy the shares.
§ Colonel LESLIE WILSON (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)
Might I appeal to the Committee to come to a decision—
§ Colonel WILSON
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to give my reasons. There will be several other opportunities. There is the Report stage of the Financial Resolution and the various stages of the Bill. The particular reason why I appeal now is that the whole of next week we are dealing with Supply, and we cannot take any Report stages of Votes now on the Paper. There are two Supplementary Estimates on which it is very important that we should get the Report stage to-day.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman guarantee that this subject will come up on Report stage before 11 o'clock?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I would not say a word if we could have some assurance that the Report stage will come up before 11 o'clock at night, but I do not see why 1722 the Committee otherwise should not have a full discussion on a matter which concerns a million of money in the present state of the national finances. I was in grave doubt whether I should support the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) or not till I heard the speech of the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon). When the Labour party support the Government, I always vote against it, because it means that the Government have given way to the pressure of an extreme portion of this House. As in this case they have gone in for Government trading, a thing which I abhor, they have entirely followed the dictates of the Labour party, and I understand the hon. Member for Camberwell is now leading the Labour party in the London County Council, whose policy is municipalisation of all means of exchange and production. Therefore it seems to me perfectly obvious, apart from any other consideration, that the Government must be absolutely wrong in their attitude to-day, because they are going to receive the unanimous support of the party which stands for nationalisation of all things. Apart from that, and apart from the question of whether it was right or wrong for the Government to have entered into this enterprise—and seriously, possibly at the time it was right—what I maintain the Committee ought to consider now is not whether the principle which the Government went in for was right at the time, but what we ought to do at the present moment. We are suffering terribly from over-taxation, and I think it is extremely inopportune at the present time that the taxpayer should be asked to find £950,000 of fresh money to go into a trading concern, which is apparently good now, but which may be bad in two or three years' time. Probably I shall not be supported in this statement by some of my hon. Friends, but I confess that I have a good deal of sympathy with the statement of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) when he said that it really would be a slur on this House if we found nearly £1,000,000 to-day for the purposes of some trading concern in which the nation is interested when we refused yesterday to find a third of that sum to relieve the famine in Russia. I quite agree with the decision of the Government not to find that money, but I think 1723 it would be rather a scandal that we should find £1,000,000 of the taxpayers' money now to go into a trading concern when we refused to give that relief to the starving people of Russia.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
May I reinforce what fell from an hon. Member on this side of the Committee, who urged the Government to sell their interest in the company at the present moment as soon as possible. They could make an excellent profit out of the transaction. The taxpayer would not have to find this million of money. They would clear themselves from what many of my hon. Friends have said, namely, the taint of going into trading by the State, and I certainly shall support my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London if he votes against it.
§ Sir OWEN PHILIPPS
The matter before the Committee appears to me to be a very simple one. The Government of the country own a number of shares in a great monopoly. A call has been made. They can either pay it, or they can refuse it. If they pay it, they will have no further liability on the 5,000,000 shares they hold. If they do not pay it, what will happen—what might happen? The right hon. Baronet is a director of a company. If one of the shareholders did not pay a call, the right hon. Gentleman would instruct the secretary to give three months' notice that the shares would be confiscated. Is it dignified of the great British Empire, when they have a liability on shares and a call has been fairly made, not to pay it?
§ Sir O. PHILIPPS
I do not think there can be two views on that matter. Then we have the Noble Lord telling us that we must not pay this £900,000 liability, because the House of Commons yesterday refused to give £300,000 to Russia as a loan—to Russia, who bought a very fine building, I understand, just opposite where I happen to have a small place in the City of London. They paid, I understand, £350,000 cash for it. Let them sell that building to-morrow, and send the money back to Russia.
§ Sir O. PHILIPPS
We are told that the Government ought to sell the shares rather than pay their call. What are the facts? Practically the oil of the world is in the hands of four groups. Three of them are foreigners—American, Dutch, and German—and you have a great British company which is absolutely controlled by the British Government. You have a Navy that is not built to burn coal. The great majority of its ships can only burn oil. Are you going to put the British Navy absolutely under the control of three big foreign combines? It is not only the Navy. The British mercantile marine to-day are building motor vessels. Are you going to have the British mercantile marine absolutely dependent on three foreign corporations for their supply of oil? I am very pleased the Government is increasing its holding in this company, and I hope it will never part with the control of it.
§ Mr. KILEY
Why is it necessary for this particular Measure to be brought forward to-day? Those, of us who have knowledge of these things know that a while ago the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, issued a block of shares that were oversubscribed something like 50 times. If that could be done a few months ago, why should not this issue have been offered to the public instead of calling upon the Government? What really is the reason? One reason given by the Financial Secretary was that the company needed some more steamers. But the oil industry at the present moment is not in such a state of prosperity that it needs to call up fresh capital. Those of us who know anything about it know that the condition of the trade is very unsatisfactory. The market is depressed. Prices are falling. I should think if there is any moment at which any company should not extend its operations and sink fresh capital that moment is now. Therefore, I suggest to the Committee that there is some other reason than the one given to the Committee for their consideration. Before we go to the Vote we should get some fresh light upon the matter. If we allow this Resolution to go through we shall, I doubt, have no further opportunity of discussing it. If the matter 1725 goes to a Division I shall certainly follow the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The hon. Member for Chester (Sir O. Philipps) has given certain advice in regard to the Soviet building, I offer the same advice to the Government—to sell these shares. My hon. Friend says we must enter the oil market as a Government so as to prevent a monopoly. Are we to have the same advice in regard to shipping rings? I have heard of shipping rings! The Financial Secretary says that the action of the Government is consequent upon past policy. When this question was before the House of Commons in July, 1914, the Government gave an absolute pledge to this House that the £2,200,000 would be exclusively devoted to the development of the oilfields, and that it would not be employed for the purchase of oil tankers or anything else. What happened during the War? The Government gave the Anglo-Persian Oil Company possession of a number of German steamers. No other company was allowed to compete for them. They went at a low price; consequence is that charges are brought against the Government by other private concerns—showing the evil of the Government entering into these things. I do not wish to stand between the Committee and a Division—
§ Commander BELLAIRS
Why do not the Government get the price? They cannot, because the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, up to 1923, has sold to another company, I think the Shell Company. The Government must have had knowledge of that. It does not show that the Government protect the taxpayers' interests in the slightest degree. When this proposition was before the House in 1914 the Secretary of State for the Colonies stated it would be used with other money to be raised by private enterprise. He gave as one reason for the Government entering into the matter at all that it was to safeguard the Navy's supply. The Government have said that for the next 10 years we need not contemplate war; therefore the naval part of the business vanishes.
§ Colonel Sir C. YATE
In 1914, so far as I remember, the assurance given 1726 to me about the £2,000,000 was that it would be expended in developing the oil fields in Persia. I do not remember that there was any limitation as to oil tank steamers or anything else, and as far as I know that was part of the scheme. The hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) spoke of the profits made by the London County Council trading in transport, but I have some recollection of the same council running steamers on the Thames at a loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the ratepayers. I see no reason why I should not support this Vote of £950,000. I agree as to the importance of this undertaking on account of the Navy and our merchant shipping. The company has a most able board of directors, and I hope the House will sanction this Vote.
The discussion seems to me to have gone very wide of the limits of the Vote because most hon. Members seem to have gone into the question of the broad issue as to whether the State should hold these industrial securities. I should like to bring the Committee back to this particular proposal which seems to me from a purely financial point of view to be extraordinarily favourable. What is the position with regard to the last issue?
No, I do not. I am simply asking the Committee to consider whether this is a favourable proposition financially. I see that the recent issue of shares is quoted in yesterday's "Times" at a premium of fifteen-sixteenths. The £1 share stood at 65s., so that the public is prepared to pay £4 3s. 9d. for a £1 share for which the Government are now going to pay 19s. The Government have been asked why they do not sell these shares, and I think we ought to sell them when we have paid up the call. I therefore suggest that the Government should leave open the question of selling and they should put in the Bill a Clause empowering them to sell if they have not already got that power. I think we ought to pay up this £950,000 and then sell our shares for over £20,000,000. Therefore, as it is to facilitate that, I am most certainly going to support the Government in improving 1727 the value of that which they already hold by paying up the call.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I agree that we should sell these shares and make a large profit on them, but there is no need to pay up this call in order to do so. You can sell the shares and make just as much profit as if you had paid the call.
Would not that make these shares a special class not likely to have the same free market or as high a value as if the shares were paid up in the normal course?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Not at all. Anyone who desired to buy a fully paid-up share could buy one of these shares with Is. paid up, and then pay up the 19s. The hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) waxed very eloquent in favour of the Government and said we must not do anything which would allow private monopolies to gain profits. He is apparently absolutely ignorant that the Government are partners with private monopolies in this business.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
According to the hon. Member, the Government may become profiteers and do what private monopolies may not do because the community gets the benefit. That is a most socialistic doctrine which has been tried over and over again but has never succeeded. The only time that it has been realised has been when the Government has joined with private people, and it is rather hard on other people that they should have the advantage of Government patronage. May I put this to my hon. Friend the Member for Chester (Sir O. Philipps)? Supposing he and I were directors of a company and we discussed whether to call up uncalled liability and came to the conclusion that we would not, no call would be made. That is exactly what might have been done here.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is just what the hon. Member does not understand. The call has only been made by the Government because they are directors and could veto it if they liked.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The Government appoint two directors who have the power to veto the action of other directors: they are the majority in fact.
§ Mr. STANTON
On a point of Order. Is it not the fact that the two directors who represent the Government on the board of this particular oil company have plenary powers to do that which they think right, apart from coming to this House?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Let me deal with the case put forward by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He tells us this is good business: that it is a very flourishing company. I have been looking up the Stock Exchange Official Year Book. I find that this company have power to issue debentures to the extent of one-half of its paid up capital. It has only issued £5,000,000 so far. It could therefore provide this £950,000 by way of debentures which could probably be issued at 6½ per cent., and as the shares are paying 20 per cent., by issuing debentures they would be saving 13½ per cent, for the remaining shareholders, and—
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
Will the hon. Gentleman give the Committee the date of the meeting when this decision of the directors was taken? Has any part of this money already been advanced by the Government in any form?
Is it a practicable proposal to refuse to pay up these shares? If the call is immediately due, may we not forfeit the shares if we do not pay up?
§ Sir BURTON CHADWICK
Is the decision of the directors subject to the consent of the House of Commons?
§ Mr. YOUNG
That question seems to be rather a strange one. There is no question whatever of the qualification, reduction or diminution of the absolute power of this Committee over financial affairs by the action of what I may call a mere Government director. The authority and powers of these directors were stated quite accurately by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. Perhaps I may repeat what I said in my earlier observations. We come now to the House for authority to discharge an obligation. It is, of course, recognised that the Committee have power to grant or to refuse that authority, but I venture to enforce my appeal by pointing out that this is not a new question which is put before
§ the Committee. When the House passed the original Bill authorising the subscription for shares, they authorised the Government to undertake this contingent liability on the shares of 19s. per share, and I think it will be recognised from a business point of view that by so doing they undertook, when that call was legally made, to meet it.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
May I ask whether, in view of the fact that the two Government directors had the power to veto this decision to call the 19s., those two directors sought the view of the Treasury before they assented at the board meeting to the making of the call?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
If any of these shares are sold, does the Government lose voting power in the company?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Have the Government the power to sell these shares or not? In view of the important point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) it is important that the Committee should know whether the Government can sell the shares and realise the property.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
Is it not a fact that, as the directors nominated by the Government did not exercise their veto, and the call has now been made, it is a legally enforceable debt?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 192; Noes, 21.1731
|Division No. 46.]||AYES.||[3.58 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Butcher, Sir John George||Evans, Ernest|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Cape, Thomas||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Ammon, Charles George||Carew, Charles Robert S||Finney, Samuel|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Ford, Patrick Johnston|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Coats, Sir Stuart||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Frece, Sir Walter de|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Colvin, Brig-General Richard Beale||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Beck, Sir Arthur Cecil||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Gardiner, James|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Gilmour. Lieut.-Colonel Sir John|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Edgar, Clifford B.||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Edge, Captain Sir William||Golf, Sir R. Park|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. sir Hamar|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Manville, Edward||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Simm, M. T.|
|Haslam, Lewis||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Molson, Major John Eisdale||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hinds, John||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C||Sugden, W. H.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Morris, Richard||Swan, J. E.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Irving, Dan||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Neal, Arthur||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Nicholson, Brig-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fred George||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Pearce, Sir William||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Perkins, Walter Frank||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Perring, William George||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Philipps, Sir Owen c. (Chester, City)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archlbaid|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheten||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Purchase, H. G.||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Lorden, John William||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Lowther, Major C, (Cumberland, N.)||Reid, D. D.||Wise, Frederick|
|Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Remer, J. R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Rose, Frank H.||Younger, Sir George|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mosley, Oswald|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hogge, James Myles||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Kiley, James Daniel||Younger, Sir George|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Marriott. John Arthur Ransome||Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Gideon|
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next (13th March).