§ A further programme estimated to cost £13,500,000 has been authorised by the present Government, towards which the Road Fund will contribute a maximum of £10,400,000."
§ May I ask what this "Road and Bridge (February, 1924) Programme" is? Has Parliament sanctioned it? Is it partly contained in the statement we have just had, or is it a scheme of roads and bridges about which the Chancellor spoke, entirely outside anything in this White Paper, or is it partly covered by anything in the White Paper?
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
Could not the Minister of Labour, who must have seen the White Paper, explain why the figures differ from those given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The Minister will take part in the discussion later. It is a very simple point. Here you have a "Road and Bridge (February, 1924) Programme." Is that part of the scheme of 2121 which we have just heard, or is it a scheme involving an entirely new provision of money? I should be glad if it is. Whether it is or is not, has Parliament sanctioned this new Road and Bridge Programme, and has my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour got Parliamentary powers? He will certainly want them in regard to some of these engineering schemes, and it is no good putting schemes on the Paper which have to wait a year or two for Parliamentary powers, which will not help unemployment at the present time.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. T. Shaw)
The £13,500,000 is for entirely new works. As far as I am advised, the only question that requires Parliamentary powers to deal with any of these roads and bridges is the question of the £5,000,000 that was proposed to be devoted to arterial roads on entirely different terms and entirely different conditions from those, previously.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have not yet been told whether this £13,500,000 in this programme is included at all in the Chancellor's statement?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I did not ask for that. I am not pressing this out of pure partisanship. We are entitled to know the facts. What I am asking is whether that £13,500,000 covered any part of the Chancellor's statement to-day? Take the roads mentioned—the Liverpool-Manchester Road or the Edinburgh Road. May I take it that the Chancellor's statement is entirely outside anything now in existence or contemplated, and that fresh money will be required for everything he put forward? I really do not think that is the case. I think it will he found, when you go into it, that some of the Chancellor's statements are really hidden away in this paragraph I have read, "Road and Bridge (February, 1924) Programme." I should like to turn for a moment to the other statements in the White Paper, because they are more important to those trying to find work which will add to the wealth of the nation, because it must not 2122 be supposed, as the Chancellor seemed to think, that because you do something immediately, you are not ultimately adding to the wealth of the nation. That, of course, is not the case. Take "Miscellaneous Schemes involving work undertaken to relieve unemployment," including land drainage, water supply, forestry, light railways and Scottish schemes. Observe that last year for those schemes they voted an Exchequer grant of £401,694. The present Government, having denounced that as wholly inadequate, make a provision of £430,000. There are the facts. I admit land drainage, water supply and Scottish schemes get a lift. Take forestry. I remember the Prime Minister, on the 29th May, when we were discussing work for these poor unfortunate people, waxing very eloquent on forestry. The Treasury found £100,000 in 1923–24; this year it is going to find £30,000.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The Chancellor contradicts me. He ought to know. The statement shows that past expenditure by the Exchequer on forestry for 1923–24 was £100,000. Provision for 1924–25 by the Exchequer on forestry was £30,000.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I agree with the Chancellor about the importance of transport. Take the White Paper again. The Treasury found, in 1923–24, under the auspices of the late Government, £65,700 for Light Railways. It is proposed this year to find £25,000. The Chancellor did not deal with that, and unless a great deal has been clone since the beginning of June, his figures were "all adrift," as the sailors would say. Under Export Credits there are "Advances," "Specific Sanctions" and "General Credits." Advances remain exactly where the Government found them in the four months covered by the Paper. Additional specific sanctions for £480,000 have been granted. Additional general credits are up by £60,300 in the four months. There is nothing very headlong about all that. I really must judge the Chancellor's wonderful statement by the sort of force which has been put into the schemes which they were operating. Otherwise, how am I to judge? Take 2123 Trade Facilities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated quite accurately, if I may say so with respect, that the maximum of contingent Exchequer liabilities has been raised from £60,000,000 to £65,000,000. He cannot take much credit for that, because, unless I am much mistaken, the late Government would have raised it to £75,000,000. Certainly the King's Speech of the late Government did propose to deal with the matter. As regards the guarantees, the Chancellor spoke about the additional amount issued. He spoke of the guarantees having gone from £38,000,000 to £48,000,000. I am quite sure it was not his intention, but it strikes me as a most misleading statement. The amount on the 9th November, 1923, was £38,205,000, and additional guarantees £7,500,000, but the White Paper says "Additional guarantees in period 10th November, 1923, to 31st May, 1924." The present Government do not take in the period beginning 10th November. They were certainly not exercising some sort of occult influence over the right hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite. In regard to the £38,000,000 to £48,000,000, you cover the period which includes quite a considerable time when you were not in office. I really do not think that these things are meticulous. I am all for this scheme of electrical power development, and I want to put some stuff into this Government to get on with it. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh!"] Yes, we will do it all right. That is the way the Government is carrying on the schemes which we inaugurated. The Government entered into a heritage of very good schemes. They had not this scheme of electrical power development, which is on a much greater scale, and which strikes a fine imaginative note which I cordially endorse. But how has it carried these schemes on? If I understand this White Paper, they have carried them on in rather slow time. That is what it comes to. How in the face of this White Paper the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General—I wish he were here—could go to his constituents last Sunday, and say what he did beats me. What he said was:More has been done by the Labour party than I in my wildest dreams, could ever have believed possible.That really will not do! [An HON. MEMBER: "On a Sunday, too!"] I do 2124 not raise any point about it being Sunday. I wish the Government well in its endeavours to meet the situation, but I am afraid that a lot of their schemes are going to be in the rather dim and distant future. There are great schemes that will add to national wealth, but what about the million men out of work to-day? We had schemes three years ago, cut and dried for immediate application. It is only to-day, nearly at the last hour of the Session, that we have been able to get this much.
I want to ask one or two questions about the schemes now being operated, about the new roads and bridges which may or may not be in the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—nobody appears to know. Is there any additional provision anywhere for these great schemes in this financial year—in the Budget—for the great scheme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put before us? Is a farthing of the expenditure which will be involved in it if started in this financial year covered by Parliamentary sanction, and will the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government go ahead at once to meet the immediate needs of the people with these schemes so far as they pan and come back for covering sanction? We should all of us, I am sure, be very glad to back them up with Parliamentary sanction. [An HON. MEMBER: " You did nothing in your time!"] Yes, the Government are carrying out the schemes in slow time to-day for which I and others were largely responsible. The next question is one relating to Parliamentary powers as to the bridges and roads—I am not referring to the bigger scheme of electrical power—but for these more immediate matters. Are Parliamentary powers necessary? If so, when are you going to get them? After all, we shall not be back till the end of October and winter will be close upon us. It is no good putting schemes on paper unless you are ready to go ahead with them. Take the bridges and the roads which the right lion. Gentleman the Minister of Labour knows so well. Take the Liverpool to Manchester road. Are the engineering plans now ready? Have the specifications been made? Have proper surveys been made so that they can go ahead? I press these questions, and I make no apology for doing so. The matter is very important for those out of work. I sit down with one request, and 2125 that request is this: that the Government should issue a monthly progress report beginning, we will say, on the 1st of September, showing, in fact, how many additional men have been found work in connection with the schemes about which we have heard to-day.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I should doubt very much whether there are many more men who are at work to-day than they were 12 months ago on these schemes—that is all. I ask, therefore, for a monthly progress report showing how many men, who would be otherwise unemployed, have got work because of these schemes mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The plea I make is this: Let the Government press on with these schemes for all it is worth. We shall back them up for all we are worth. This thing is very urgent. These people have suffered great hardship for a long time; they are now drifting on to the fifth winter of hard times. Therefore, my one last word to the Government is this: Press on with this; do not waste time; and you shall have all the support we can possibly give you.
§ Mr. J. C. GOULD
This is the first time since I have been in this House that I have heard the admission from the Government of a matter which has been pressed on every possible occasion by those of us who belong to the Conservative party, and also by hon. Members of the Liberal party. It is that the costs of production are too high, and that the hours of labour which are worked to a very great degree in the highly specialised and skilled trades and industries need some revision, and in consequence we have been fighting the costs of production so that we might help employment in the industry. I wonder if hon. Gentlemen opposite have a full realisation of what the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer really means, and if the right hon. Gentleman himself has contemplated the trouble with which he will be confronted by his own supporters when he attempts to bring the recommendations he has made before the labour federations, the engineering trade, or the Trade Union Congress? This is one of the points which we, who are large employers of labour, have been fighting 2126 the federation on for many years. This is the primary reason why the shipping and shipbuilding trades are being forced out of this country into foreign countries, and it is the reason why 137,000 people are unemployed in the shipbuilding industry. The lines of demarcation which have been set up by the various trades unions—there are 39 in the federation—make it impossible for work to be done in this country at anything like the price it may be done abroad. Ships are being sent abroad to be repaired largely because of demarcational differences. On the top of that there is a very large profit for foreign repairers, for they can do the work at 20 to 40 per cent. cheaper than it can be done in this country.
A remarkable fact also is this: that the work is being done, controlled and supervised to a very great extent by the very workmen who have been born and bred in this country, and who have been driven out of this country by the intolerable conditions imposed by the trade unions—[HON. MEMBERS "And the employers!"]—and who are working there under conditions of hours and overtime which enable them to earn considerably more money than they could earn in this country. Explanations have been made as to the cause of the unemployment in the shipbuilding industry, and there is considerable in the marine engineering and in the general engineering industry. It is all very well for Mr. John Hill to complain, as he has done recently, that this is all the fault of the employers or the Government, but Mr. John Hill must not forget that for over 30 weeks last year, through the action of the boilermakers, which he controlled, people were thrown out of these industries, and millions of pounds' worth of work was driven from this country abroad.
If the Labour party carry out the pledges and promises which they gave to the country; if they carry out what they promised when they were in opposition; when they told us that they had all kinds of schemes; when they gave us the assurance by virtue of the fact that they were so closely associated with the Labour movement and the trade union movement that they would be able to have a better understanding than we could get, or than the Liberal party could get, will be well. As a matter of fact, things have been intolerably worse since they 2127 came into office because they can only go so far. They dare not take the matter into their own hands. There is no doubt whatever that so far as indutry is concerned the Labour party have shown a greater degree of weakness in dealing with industrial problems than either the preceding, the Coalition Government or even the Government which was in existence during the War. The advances which were given in war-time, and which we had to give under special circumstances, were continued very largely up to 1920, when conditions of competition throughout the world forced us to realise that we could not maintain the high wages and conditions and maintain our people in employment. Conditions have been imposed upon us on every occasion possible by the trade unions in our industry which have been out of all comparison with those obtaining in other countries, and as a consequence we find, where we should expect the trade unions involved in these industries inclined to give support to the Labour Government, that the Labour Ministry itself has taken its orders practically from these people, and dare not interfere. We talk about the Washington Convention. We talk of the 48 hours' week. There are half a dozen countries which have given lip service to the agreement. It was to be an international agreement. We were to work 48 hours per week. We have cut our hours in the engineering, the shipbuilding and the steel trades, and we are working 47 hours per week. What do we find to be the case in other countries?
In Holland, notwithstanding the answer which was given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour a few days ago, they do not work 48 hours a week, but 56½, while overtime up to 10 hours per week is allowed. As soon as they have finished their work in one yard—I know this from personal observation—as soon as they have finished their eight or 10 hours in one yard, they go to another yard on the opposite side and work another two or three hours. They do that every day. These are British workmen, members of the trade unions of this country. What are, they doing in Germany? The answer given to the Parliamentary Secretary was that they are working 48 hours in Germany. But the Minister of Labour knows that 2128 since the 1st January of this year it has been set aside, and they are working in Germany to-day on an average in the Ruhr district 58 hours a week. [An HON MEMBER: "To pay your reparation!"] But we have not had it yet! In one place the hours are 61 per week, in Breslau 55. in Stuttgart 58, in Magdeburg 67 and Mannheim 61. France has also done lip service to the 48-hours week, but there everything is done by administrative Order and the rule is that there is a 10-hour working day. It will be objected at once that, though other people do these things, nevertheless we should keep to the strict letter of our agreement. That is all very well; but what we have to do is to realise that the industries of this country cannot go on in competition with foreign countries, in the export trade, if they are met with unfavourable and unfair conditions from their foreign competitors. We who listen so much to the talk of internationalism ought to realise that if we are foolish enough to believe what other people tell us, and to do as they ask us, that we are making a great mistake. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour passes quietly and easily over the question of costs in connection with production, and its effect upon unemployment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was glad to see we were obtaining 99 per cent. of our proportion of export trade. Has he considered that in the year 1913 in the engineering trade 72 per cent, of what was produced was for export while to-day it is only 24 per cent. Does he realise the great fall in the coal export-trade and its consequent unemployment? Does he realise that in the Tyneside industries today there is a percentage of unemployed of nearly 21 per cent? There is 27 per cent. of unemployment in ship building, and on the North East Coast the percentage is 32.5. In the case of canal, dock, river and harbour services, and the dockers and transport workers, it is about the same percentage, and shipbuilding comes second with 21.3 per cent., while the figures are 14.9 in the steel industry.
The right hon. Gentleman claimed that that was largely due to the fact that goods were not available for international transport. That may be so, but, as I understand the situation, the attempts which are being made by the Government and their advocates in the country to 2129 re-open trade with Russia and Germany in particular, under the conditions they propose, can only react still mare unfavourably on the people of this country, and will result in the closing down of more of our steel and iron works. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, despite the rate of exchange being in their favour, steel is produced in Belgium, the Ruhr and Northern France at £2 per ton less than we can sell it in this country, and the manufacturers here are in every instance selling their steel between £1 and 30s. below the cost of production? We may be sure that foreign firms are not sending their steel over here without having made in the first place a considerable profit. First of all they ascertain the price at which stuff can be produced here in competition, and then sell at a price about 10 per cent. below it. I know what is done with regard to the engineering shipbuilding trade and ship repairing. Now we are talking about a proposal to grant a loan of £40,000,000 to Germany in order to rehabilitate her industries—
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)
The Debate has been getting very wide, but I do not think I can allow reparations to be dealt with.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
This is the Vote for the salary of the Minister of Labour, and the discussion must be confined to the administration of his Department.
§ Mr. GOULD
The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed the opinion that in certain of our big industries where unemployment was greatest, there had been a considerable influx of labour. That is true of the mining industry, and the conditions which arose largely during the War cannot easily be remedied. The proposals now being made to deal with the mining industry by the Liberal party and which are supported by the Labour party, cannot in any way decrease unemployment, but must add considerably to the cost of the coal produced. In regard to unemployment in the steel industry, I have figures relating to one of the biggest of our steel works, and they show that unemployment is largely due to the cost 2130 of coal. The Government have not the courage to deal with the true cause and make it clear that the eight-hour day in the mines is the only solution of the troubles of the steel and engineering industry, and because of the powerful influence those people exert it is impossible and unthinkable that any change can be brought about.
I would like to ask, in considering the shipbuilding and engineering trades, is the right hon. Gentleman giving serious thought to the position which will arise about January or February next year. In January and February last year a very large number of orders were placed, and most of them will run out by the end of this year, and there is very little likelihood under present conditions of any further orders being placed, and at the present moment there is no indication of inquiries at all. What is going to happen and what provision is going to be made for the thousands of people who will inevitably be thrown out of work in this way? These electrical power schemes and drainage schemes may be all very well, but they are not going to provide employment for all these people. Subsidies have been given in Holland to subsidise industries, and I will explain exactly what has occurred in Holland in the shipbuilding industry. I get my information from an authoritative source and it may be taken as being correct. It is as follows:as a result of my inquiries I am convinced that the Dutch companies receive financial aid. There is a law which enables the Government and the municipalities to give financial assistance to companies to secure work, and instead of having men on the dole the firms are given grants. The subsidies in Holland represent 75 per cent. of a person's former earnings, which means that a man earning £4 a week would be entitled to receive £3. The subsidies granted represent 30 per cent. of the labour cost, and 20 per cent. is provided by the municipality and 10 per cent. by the Government.I commend that to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a much more desirable way of dealing with the unemployment question in certain industries than the existing system. It is idle to say that the men can be employed by reconditioning old boats, because no men could be profitably employed on that kind of work either with advantage to the owners or the workers themselves. There is no doubt that in attempting to deal with this matter the Minister of 2131 Labour is forgetting to deal with the real cause, and until the Government take their courage in both hands, and tackle these trade union restrictions it will be impossible for us to compete with foreign countries and regain that proportion of our export trade, which is so essential to our national well being. Only last week 14,000 tons of rails were lost to one firm, and the men employed by that firm were thrown out of employment as a consequence of unfair foreign competition. At the present time American and German firms are undercutting us 25 per cent. at a time when the people here are starving for the want of work.
As a consequence of the system of doles in this country as against the Dutch system of subsidies, we are not working continuously, and as a consequence our costs are very much higher than if we were working steadily and continuously. It would be much better to take into account this industry, and see if it is not possible to evolve some scheme which will secure the co-operation of both sides rather than allow the present system to be maintained. The Minister of Labour will probably say that if there is going to be any cheapening in the cost of production and any increased employment, the big firms should re-equip and modernise their plants. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that for four years those engaged in this particular industry have been steadily and continuously losing money, and they are not in a position, in consequence, to find the wherewithal to modernise their plants, while our competitors are receiving grants and assistance from their Governments, and they are modernising their plants out of all recognition.
I hope when the Minister of Labour replies that he will say what he proposes to do in dealing with the trade union question, because that is the root of the whole trouble. If the Government are afraid to deal with this question, let them say so frankly. I believe at the present moment, although the Government may claim that they were not responsible for what they said at the Election, they still have a great responsibility after accepting office, and even if they have not been in power, they are responsible, and there will be a great deal of sceptical interest taken in any apologies they make for having done so little during the last six 2132 months. You may be able to fool some of the people for some considerable time, and that is what the Government have done, but they will not be able to fool the people much longer with promises which do not give the people work. Up to the present we have only got from the Government promises, and very little else.
§ Mr. W. MARTIN
In rising for the first time, I appeal for that indulgence which is usually shown to those hon. Members delivering their maiden speeches. I take it that the purpose of this Debate to-day is not simply to make political capital out of the distresses of the unemployed and the under-employed; I take it that the purpose is to try and ascertain what can be done for the unemployed man, and I make bold to say that if we are going to be able to achieve that object, we must understand what is the nature of the unemployment problem, and every one of us must try to put the best of our knowledge into the common pool so that we may be able to evolve the best schemes and the best solution for unemployment. I would suggest that if we are going to understand what the problem of unemployment is, we must go back many years and consider the general policy of industry and the increasing productivity of the country by means of improvements in machinery and so so, and compare it with the position to-day when you find in every workshop and warehouse a great mass of products, but. unfortunately, without the people having the purchasing power to buy them.
While to-day the country is producing the goods it is not giving the necessary purchasing power to the mass of the people to buy back these commodities; we must therefore find ways and means of giving that purchasing power to the people in order to be able to overcome the great problem of unemployment. I believe that the acts of past Governments have done much to make that position even worse than it is to-day. I do not propose to go into what those acts were; if I did I should probably be called to order; but the fact remains that questions like the cutting down of wages in industry during the past few years, involving a loss in wages of at least £600,000,000 to the wage-earners of this country, have done much to reduce the purchasing power of the people.
2133 It has sometimes been said, and it has been said even quite recently, that the Labour party made great promises during the recent election, and have said that they have the only cure for unemployment; and we have been twitted with not bringing in that solution immediately. I am one who believes, both as a member of the Labour party and as a Socialist, that we have the only cure for unemployment. The cure for unemployment is to remove the system which to-day is run in the interests of a few people, so that they may make profits for themselves and produce goods for that end rather than for supplying the needs of the great mass of the people. Only when we are able to change that system of allowing the few to levy a toll upon the industries of the country, only when we are able to build up a system that will call out the best services of the whole people, shall we be able effectively to abolish unemployment. That will be the ultimate end and the ultimate aim of the Labour party; but if we went the length of saying that we were going to wait until we were given power by a majority in the constituencies of this country to carry out that policy, I think the Labour Minister and the whole Cabinet under the Labour party would be failing in their duty.
It is, therefore, for the Labour party to try to do all that they can to increase the purchasing power of the people, even at the present moment, and I believe that the Labour party have at any rate started towards that. They have not done all that we should like to see done, but they have started, in one way and another, to increase the purchasing power of the people. Through the Labour Budget they have done much to make it easier for the working classes of this country to buy back more of the commodities that have been produced by them than was ever possible before; while the. Minister of Labour's proposals to increase the benefit paid to unemployed men or women, although they are evidently an indication that still there is a belief in doles, which I believe every Member of the House would like to get rid of at the earliest possible moment, nevertheless put more into the pocket of the ordinary working-class woman who is responsible, as the chancellor of the exchequer of a working-class home, for the purchasing back of the 2134 commodities produced by the workers of this country.
These are steps in the right direction, but at the same time the extent of the problem of unemployment to-day demands that we should, until we reach normal times, go on producing more schemes that will give employment to people who to-day are unemployed. On this I want to say candidly that I am disappointed that the Labour Government have not been able to find such schemes, or to mature such schemes, earlier than they have, but I equally believe that the statement made to-day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes a considerable distance beyond anything we have yet heard from the Front Bench. I hope and believe that, when these schemes can be put properly in hand, we shall find that something considerable is being done in regard to the unemployment problem. Had I been speaking in this Chamber the other day, when we were considering the question of housing, I think I should have been able to show that the Housing Bill which has just passed through this House will at any rate do much to provide more employment for the people of this country, but I will not develop that argument here.
I think there is a growing realisation, by every person of good will in this country, that one line at any rate which lends itself to greater development than has been the case up to now is that of finding some national scheme of electric power. In the statement that has been made from the Front Bench to-day it hag been indicated that immediate steps are going to be taken to bring forward such a national scheme. If that scheme is put on its feet, I think it will be for the benefit of the country, because it will be doing something which will not merely be in the nature of digging holes and filling them up again, but will be producing schemes that will be for the benefit of the nation, not only in the near, but in the distant future. I would suggest that, if the Government go ahead with such a scheme, they should do so along such lines that the electric power system of this country will be able to be used in the interests of the people of this country, and not only in the interests of a very small section of that people.
Whether such an electric scheme be put into operation this year or next, whether 2135 it even be done by the present Government or by some future Government returned after another General Election, whenever and by whomever it is introduced, I am sure it will be found to be for the benefit of the country in the future. The quicker it is done the better will it be for the people of this country, and the sooner shall we be able to a considerable extent to decrease the present number of unemployed people, and to set the trade of this country back towards a more normal time, when people will no longer feel that they have to depend on the dole, which we all deplore, but when every man and woman willing to work will have a chance of that human right—the opportunity of working and of being paid decent wages for their work.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and whom I congratulate on his maiden effort in this House, has, with the candour which would be expected of him, revealed to us what the intentions of the Labour party really are. He said that they have a remedy for unemployment. It has not yet been tabled; it is not even in the hat; but it is awaiting the next General Election, when there will be a Labour majority. It is the abolition of private enterprise, of private ownership of mines and factories, of all private property, and general confiscation of all the industries of this country. That is the scheme which is awaiting us when this majority is obtained which the Attorney-General is promising us, or, rather, with which he is menacing us. That is the scheme which will then be formulated by the hon. Gentleman and his friends. It will involve brushing away the present effete and rather timid Front Bench. I gather from the hon. Gentleman's observations that he is rather disappointed with the rate of progress they are making, and that he will accelerate it when the opportunity comes.
Meanwhile, we have to deal with this very cautious, timid, and, may I say, rather imitative Government, and it is with their schemes that for the moment I am concerned. As to one or two of them I am not quite clear. Even from the very lucid, and, I may say, very luminous statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am not very clear what his 2136 proposals are. I take, first of all, the question of beet sugar. I had some responsibility for the differential treatment of beet sugar. I think I was the first to propose it when I was a Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1909. I want to know exactly what the proposal is now. As I understand it, the duty was 24s. 9d. before the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced it. It was then reduced to something like 11s. Preference would have made that 9s. odd—I think 9s. 9d.—so that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not intervened at all with his new proposals which he has developed to-day, an advantage of anything between 9s. 9d. and 11s. would have been given to the beet-sugar grower in this country.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's proposal? I am not sure that I caught it, but I think his proposal is that he should put on an Excise duty of 9s. odd, and that he should give them a subsidy of 19s. That seems to me to leave them exactly where they were. They are certainly worse off than they were before the Budget of this year, and I do not see the advantage of this proposal. It is put forward as a scheme for regenerating the agriculture of this county. The Chancellor of Exchequer waxed very lyrical over this new proposal, and said that he was firmly convinced on reflection. He got more and more excited about it, the more he went into it. He said that when he approached it first of all, he approached it in a spirit, not merely of indifference, but of active hostility, but the more he got steeped in beet sugar the more did the idea ferment, and at last it has produced a sense of exaltation—I will not say inebriation—which has led him to see a vision of the whale agriculture of this country regenerated, reconstructed, renewed, resurrected—the rural population, which is now just marching to the towns, arrested. They will read the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal about beet sugar, and they will turn back. The poor rural people who are now congregating in slums in London and elsewhere will go back, and there will be factories and there will beet cultivated all over the land; and how? I want to know how; I want to know why. I cannot see—and I listened very carefully to every word that fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in what respect 2137 they are going to be better. When they had an advantage of 24s. per cwt., these factories were only employing 600 in winter and 200 in Summer. But now that there is an advantage of 10s., well, agriculture is going to be regenerated. I am perfectly certain the Minister for Labour will throw light upon the obscurities which have been left by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and make it quite clear in what respect this scheme is going to restore agriculture to its primitive glory in this land.
I now come to the question of electricity. I am the last man in the world to complain of this proposal, and I will tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or his representative (Mr. Graham), who I am glad to see here, why. He generally takes a more prosaic view of these things. He works them, out in figures, and the same glow has not fallen upon his spirit. What is the proposal? An admirable one. I felt a real pride when I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer developing, in a much more effective way than I could, the very things I have been urging for some time. In fact, he is going to restore the proposals of 1919. I am very glad of it. He is going to restore the Bill of 1919 to the position it was in when it was introduced by the Government of which I was the head. I am very grateful to him for the frankness with which he admitted that in that mutilated Bill the power efficiency was increased by 60 per cent. It is a very remarkable testimony, which I heard for the first time, because I have been told that we did absolutely nothing. However, that. Bill is going to be restored to the perfection which it had when it left the hands of the Government to cross the corridor to another place, and cruel Pagan hands were laid upon it. That is all right. I asked the President of the Board of Trade—and this is rather significant—a fortnight or three weeks ago whether this was to be done, and he said, "Oh, no, it was quite unnecessary." So some light has come to them, not before the last General Election. It is a light that has shone upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Committee within the last three weeks. The President of the, Board of Trade is still walking in darkness. He said it was unnecessary. [An HON. MEMBER: "Send him a 2138 candle!"] I listened with great attention to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will do the same to me. Three weeks ago the Government decided not to do this. They have done it now. Why? They are now going to supplement it by proposals which some of us put forward a fortnight or three weeks ago; proposals which caused the most unutterable merriment to the Minister of Mines. In fact, the proposal of the, Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day is the great Liberal joke of the Minister of Mines. I wonder whether he sees the joke to-day, now that it is uttered in the solemn tones of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
But let me point this out. These things, we were told, were all ready before the last General Election. They were not even ready three weeks ago according to the President of the Board of Trade. This is something which is quite new. I am glad, but let me point out this. Take all the proposals which the Chancellor of the Exchequer put forward to-day in a speech of about one and a half hours' duration—not a minute too long, I am not complaining of that; it was an admirable exposition, if I may respectfully say so as an old Parliamentarian. Road grants on a great scale, grants the result of proposals put forward, first of all, in 1909 when the Road Board was created, and when the idea of taxing motors and taxing petrol was first started for the purpose of improving the road system of this country, a system under which—and I have had the figures from the Minister of Transport, and I thank him for the courtesy of supplying me with them—,£60,000,000 has been spent. These were all proposals started, then developed afterwards, by the Coalition Government and the late Government. This is not a scheme of the Labour party before they got into power.
What is next? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made very great play of export credits and trade facilities. All of those Bills were carried two or three years before the Labour Government came into power, and not much help did we get to carry them. On the contrary, when I proposed them at the same Box that the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood at today, I remember, when I sat down, the Leader of the Labour party got up and sniffed at them and said they were no good. To-day, they are proclaiming 2139 them as their bulwark. That is what they are relying on; that is what they are boasting of. Every scheme propounded to-day is a scheme which has been put forward and initiated by other parties, so that when they said before the last General Election that they had schemes thought out, planned, and considered in every detail as a remedy for unemployment, they meant the schemes that were prepared for them by other parties.
§ Mr. DIXEY
The whole issue at the last General Election was unemployment, and there would not have been any General Election at all if it had not been for the importance of this issue. Whether you agree with us or whether you do not, you have to admit that at all events a tangible form was offered to the people of this country as part solution for unemployment. At the same time, what did the party on the Government side offer? We had a series of picturesque promises of a definite nature made by responsible leaders of the Socialist party who are at present occupying seats on the Front Bench, and we, as, a party, have to my mind a serious right of complaint, because I state very strongly that had it not been for the fulsome promises made by the other side we might have been occupying those seats to-day. I say this definitely, that the working men and women in this country believed when they looked at the election programmes and promises made by gentlemen opposite that they were to be fulfilled, in part at all events. Therefore they, to my mind, lost the real chance of having something done for unemployment by relying on the promises of gentlemen opposite.
I am not going to bore the House long. I feel very sincerely on this subject of unemployment. I am not an old Member of this House, and I cannot presume to make a debating speech, but I do say we have to-day, after six months of Socialist Government, not had one concrete proposition put on the Table with regard to this matter. I am surprised that Gentlemen opposite, who always pretend, at all events, and probably sincerely, that they know more of the working class condition than we do, were content to sit behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer and listen to the statement made by him today. To my mind it was a statement 2140 containing not a solitary fact of work for one solitary man. As far as I can see from the Debate to-day, there has been no proof of a solitary extra man being found a concrete job since the Socialist party came into office. I want the country to appreciate that, and to realise that the next time Gentlemen opposite go to the electorate. There is nothing in the record of this Government since it came into office to point to one solitary thing being done for the benefit of working people. If Gentlemen opposite say that they have not got the power, why do not they have the pluck to put on the Table their own scheme and go to the country on it The learned Attorney-General, speaking at Wallsend the other night, said:Of course we cannot cure unemployment, but we can if we get the power.Why wait? That is what I ask the Labour Benches, if it is only power they are after. If all those learned gentlemen in the Cabinet are so sure of what the result would be, why do they not take their courage in both hands. There is only one other point I wish to make. I was extremely surprised to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, apparently, is not quite such a doctrinaire Free Trader as he pretended to be. I was surprised to hear that he was prepared to give what I think is quite a good subsidy to beet sugar. I cannot for the life of me see where the distinction is between what is proposed now and what I am in favour of. I always thought that, from the Free Trade point of view, there was no worse form of protection than bolstering up an infant industry. That, I always thought, was the Free Trade argument. I also assumed, after hearing the compliments from gentlemen below the Gangway to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the finest example of a doctrinaire Free Trader that we have at the present time. Then I find he is prepared, in a particular case, by the excuse of an Excise Duty, to do the very thing that all the Free Trade experts have always said was fatal to Free Trade, which is the encouragement of an infant industry. For these reasons, I cannot look with any confidence at all upon the various schemes which have been produced here. I am sorry for the Minister of Labour. I do not think there is a more uncomfortable man in the House 2141 than the Labour Minister to-day. I do not make these few remarks out of any feeling against him. I am sorry for him. I, at all events, stand for a reform in our fiscal system, and, to my mind, any amount of consideration should be given and any amount of trouble should be taken in order to increase employment, but it cannot be done without some radical reform in our fiscal system. Until you protect your home industries there is no future for employment in this country.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I do not propose to follow the last speaker in his very interesting attempt to introduce a discussion on Free Trade versus Protection. I am sure that in his calmer moments he must see that the Housing Bill passed by this House, if allowed to operate, will certainly provide employment for very many thousands of men.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Not a bit of it. There is no unemployment in the building trade to-day.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I am sure that under that Bill employment will be provided for any number of men. There are one or two omissions from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which we on these back benches very much regret. Many of us, in the first place, are exceedingly disappointed that no reference has been made to the necessity for a great expansion of afforestation. This subject has been repeatedly raised in this House, and we have been led to believe that schemes have been prepared by the Forestry Commission under the direction of the Government which would have found employment for several thousands of men. I trust when the Minister for Labour replies to-night he will be able to repair what was, I am sure, an unfortunate omission from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech. I should perhaps make a personal reference in this connection. When last I spoke on this subject in this House I said that in my opinion a great deal of the delay in sending forward schemes of afforestation was due to the political complexion of the Forestry Commissioners. I have since learned what this is not the case. The present Forestry Commission, although politically opposed as individuals to the present Government, have been doing their utmost to speed up schemes of afforestation Many of us had hoped this afternoon that a 2142 Labour Government would have been able to go back to the pre-Geddes Committee days and put forward a scheme of afforestation which would provide employment for many years. I had also hoped that the Government would have indicated that they were bringing the Forestry Commissioners under a Minister of the Crown, and not leaving them suspended, like Mahomet's coffin, without anyone responsible for them in this House except the right hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Acland), who always rises from the Liberal benches.
There was a curious omission this afternoon in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech. He did not refer to the disposal of part of the valuable plant and property at Gretna. One would have thought that a Labour Government, faced with the difficulties we are faced with, but nevertheless pledged to certain principles of public ownership as against private exploitation, would have done its utmost to prevent the dispersal of what remains of this property at Gretna and to see that the property was used in the best interests of the nation as a whole. I do not for one moment imply that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has been remiss in his duty on this subject. We know the hon. Gentleman did everything that was humanly possible for any man to do to prevent the dispersal of that property, and therefore I do not wish to associate him with what I am now saying. I do suggest, however, that the Government as a whole is blameworthy and deserving of castigation, inside this House and outside, in so far as it has permitted valuable property to be disposed of at ridiculous prices.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young)
The hon. Gentleman is getting very wide of the mark. This question is one which should be dealt with on the Vote for the Disposal Board.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I wanted to discuss the question of Gretna as it affected unemployment, and the. observations I have just made were only preliminary observations. Gretna, we have reason to believe was offered to the Government as a workable proposition by a Government Department which declared that it was able and willing to run it as a training ground for discharged soldiers and to use the works there to great advantage for the benefit of the nation, instead of the plant being 2143 sold at rubbishy prices. I believe the proposal was to run it as a great national experiment on principles which some of us Members of the Labour party still firmly believe in. The plant still remaining at Gretna could be used by the Government profitably for the nation, and we on these benches this afternoon hoped to receive some assurance from the Government that that plant will not be disposed of by auction, but will be used by the Government and by the nation for the well-being of the nation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What do you mean by that?"] I am afraid I should be called to order if I went into further details, but I understand that the Army Department have offered the Government to take over Gretna and run it as a paying proposition, in connection with a training scheme on the retirement of men from the Army. I trust, to-night, before the Debate closes, some representative of the Government will be able to give us an assurance on these two points, first, that there will be a considerable expansion of the afforestation programme which shall be run scientifically in connection with land settlement, and, secondly, that we shall have an assurance that there shall be no further waste of public property at Gretna.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The hon. Member who has just spoken has referred to two omissions from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish to deal with another omission—with the absence of any fresh hope that any additional support will be given to the local authorities who are administering the unemployed grant to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. The right hon. Gentleman at some considerable length dealt with this question. He referred to the fact that unemployment throughout the country would be almost normal if it were not for the excessive amount of unemployment in those three staple industries—shipping, engineering and cotton. He told the House that if it were not for the abnormal unemployment in those three industries the average of unemployment for the whole country would be almost on a pre-War level. I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that the unemployment in these particular industries is hitting exceptionally hardly those districts where the in- 2144 dustries are carried on. I find, according to the Ministry of Labour's own returns, that whereas on the 23rd June unemployment throughout the country as a whole was 9.4 per cent., on the North East Coast, where marine engineering and boiler making is carried on, it was 17˙9 per cent., and in the shipbuilding industry, also on the North East Coast, it was 32˙5 per cent.—in the one case double and in the other case more than treble the average for the whole country. The Chancellor went on to say that in his opinion, heavy as was the burden of taxation on industry, crippling it and preventing its revival, the burden of rating was even worse. Therefore taking those two admissions of the abnormal unemployment in shipbuilding and engineering, and the heavy burden of rating on industry, we have a right to ask that the Government should do something to relieve those districts which are so heavily penalised.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member is going to discuss necessitous areas, that is distinctly covered in the next Vote.
I am referring merely to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and quoting the facts which he himself gave.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to taxation, but we cannot go over the whole field. There are three Votes down. On this Vote hon. Members have a right to refer to taxation in the same way that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did, but not to go into the merits or demerits of the grants to necessitous areas. That comes up on the next Vote.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman did allude to the schemes of local authorities.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand this Vote was put down for the purpose of allowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer to indicate what the Government was prepared to do in relation to unemployment. In so doing, lie covered nearly every Department, or a good many Departments. It will be impossible to discuss the Ministry of Transport, the Mines Department and the Board of Agriculture in the way that is suggested. I am pointing out that what the hon. Member wants to discuss is down on the next Vote.
§ Mr. BIRKETT
The Chancellor of the Exchequer raised that matter to-day in general debate. Our purpose in regard to this matter was to submit that if these grants were not increased, the local authorities could no longer proceed and therefore the general wave of unemployment would be larger.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member can refer to it but cannot discuss it on this Vote. If he wants to discuss it at all, he must expedite the passing of the first Vote, when it will be perfectly open on the next Vote.
I hope I may refer to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said in dealing with this question, in so far as he told us that the Unemployed Grants Committee had sanctioned £5,500,000 of money up to the end of February and that their inspectors had gone throughout the country to encourage local authorities to submit schemes. I take it I may refer to those figures and make comments and draw conclusions from them. This sum of £8,000,000 which the right hon. Gentleman gave us as the estimate of expenditure by local authorities during the coming year is not adequate, and the reason I say so is that in reply to a question to-day the Chancellor of the Exchequer told me that last year, under the Unemployed Grants. Scheme, local authorities had spent £9,500,000. Things to-day, especially in certain districts—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot allow that. If the hon. Member is going to discuss the matter of necessitous areas, he must wait till the next Vote comes on. It may come on very speedily for all I know.
I bow to your ruling, but I was wishing to comment on the fact that the Chancellor told us—
§ The CHAIRMAN
It was necessary for the Chancellor to make these references in explaining what is intended to be done. But if I were to allow everyone to pick up everyone else's remarks, we should never get to the point before the Committee. There is a special Vote which must be discussed now. Necessitous areas are included in the next Vote.
I regret that the Chancellor omitted to hold out any hope of additional assistance to those districts 2146 which have borne the heat and burden of the day, and whereas these schemes of national work, such as electricity and beet, will take time to develop, there are other schemes which might be put in hand at once if only the Government will give the additional help. It is important that the immediate things should be done first, and I hope the Minister will be able to hold out some hope that, whilst preparing the electricity and the sugar and beet schemes, they can give more sympathetic attention to other schemes which are absolutely ready. With regard to the electricity scheme, one is interested indeed to see what the Government propose particularly, because I notice my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green at the beginning of last month introduced a Bill dealing with this important question of electricity supply following on the very lines the Chancellor of the Exchequer has foreshadowed. If the right hon. Gentleman will give facilities for passing that Bill it might enable him to get on with these larger schemes, which are so necessary, with even greater speed than he foreshadowed in his speech. I am sure the Committee will give every assistance to the Minister in these new schemes, and I only regret that they were not introduced earlier, especially in view of what hon. Members on these benches said exactly a year ago when they were dealing with this question. They stated then that they had a scheme ready, plans were preparing and were in the archives of various Ministries, and it was only necessary that they should be in power in order that they might be put into force forthwith. Now that they have the opportunity, I beg, as other hon. Members have begged, that they should not shelter themselves behind the excuse that they are in office and not in power, but should table these schemes and see whether there is a majority in the House in order to enable that programme of work and not doles to be carried out effectively and immediately.
§ Captain BRASS
I was very interested to hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to say. He told us distinctly that he had a positive remedy for unemployment, but he did not produce it. He produced one or two what might be termed lop-eared rabbits out of the hat. He told us something about the develop- 2147 ment of canals, which he said would be of considerable help locally although they were really not an economic proposition. He told us about the railways, and his only solution was that they should be nationalised. It is rather a pity he should have suggested that nationalisation of railways at the present moment, because I understand the Government are supporting the Dawes Report in which we have exactly the reverse, and they advocate that the nationalised railways of Germany should go back into private hands when they might be made more remunerative. He said that next year he was going to spend £13,500,000 on roads and an extra £5,000,000 which I understand at present he is unable to spend on a road between Manchester and Liverpool. He told us about altering the frequency of electricity, which I do not understand very much, and then he told us the real trouble to-day was that the shipping, the engineering and the cotton industries had all been very badly hit, but he was careful not to say how he was going to remedy that state of affairs in this industry. His solution was that you should have a national reconstruction. That sounds all very well, but how is a national reconstruction, which is certainly going to take a period of years, going to be able to absorb the 791,000 males of employable age who are unemployed at present? During the period from 1901 to 1911 we had coming into industry every year, 203,000 males of employable age, of whom 75,000 emigrated and 128,000 had to be absorbed into industry in this country.
§ Captain BRASS
No, that is the net increase. At present roughly 140,000 males of employable age come into employment every year, of whom 50,000 emigrate on the average, so that 90,000 males of employable age have to be Absorbed into industry every year. You have on the top of that 90,000 a surplus over and above what you had before the War of 770,000 men of employable age, with the result that it is almost impossible for these people to get employment. You have more men of employable age to-day employed in industry than you had before the War, and you have a surplus of 770,000 males of employable age more than 2148 you had before the War. How you can employ those people by entering on a reconstruction of the country, I do not understand. I do not think there is any solution of the problem in that way. Before the War the surplus savings of the people were put into industry, so that the surplus male population was able to be absorbed into industry. That was when Income Tax and Super-tax together amounted to 1s. 8d. in the £. To-day, when it is 10s. 6d., the incentive to a rich man to put his surplus into industry is not there. [An HON. MEMBER "That is the War!"] It is due to the War, but that does not make any difference. It exists. What is the only real solution of the problem? As far as one can see, we have a certain population of 770,000 males of employable age in this country who are out of work. A big Empire settlement scheme, well thought out and on family and group emigration, would provide for these people. It was spoken about by the Prime Minister not very long ago. We ought to have a scheme of that sort in order to try to absorb this surplus population, which it seems to me it is quite impossible to absorb in industry in any other way.
The Prime Minister stated a little while ago that he was going into the question of Empire settlement. I am glad of that. He said most definitely in this House that he thought he could do it without Preference. That is a matter of opinion. I am a Free Trader. If it can be done without Preference, so much the better, but I want to impress this upon the Government, and it is a very important point, that if they find, after examination into the question of Empire settlement, that it is not practicable to have a big Empire settlement scheme to relieve the unemployment question in this country without Preference, I ask them most sincerely not to give it up simply because it is contrary to the principles of Free Trade. I ask them to look into it most carefully and try to see whether an Empire settlement scheme could not be advanced and people helped to go out and find employment in the Dominions, which in return would help forward reciprocal trade between the Mother Country and the Dominions.
§ Mr. ALDEN
I have every sympathy with the views of the hon. Member who 2149 has just spoken in regard to Empire settlement, but he must remember, and we must all remember, that Empire settlement is a matter of very slow growth. We cannot plant any large section of our surplus population—if it be surplus, and we are not all agreed upon that—upon our Dominions without full consultation with them, and without the most careful inquiry as to the industries in which they could he best, employed, or how the Dominions would be best able to absorb that number of people. It seems to me that by group or colony settlement, after careful education and training beforehand, very much might be done.
I am not quite sure whether it will be in order to refer to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to electricity and the methods of cheapening production in this country. On that I wish to say a word of warning not only to the Government, but to the House, because we are so apt to be led astray by any big scheme. If it is a big scheme it appeals to us, and we say that is the solution, although it may not be a solution at all when we examine it carefully. If I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer aright, his point was that we must cheapen production if we are to be able to export, to improve our trade and pay our way. One of the methods by which he proposed to cheapen production is to encourage the construction of super-stations for the production of electricity throughout the country. He did not say that he is going actually to subsidise these super-stations, but indirectly he would subsidise them by being willing to subsidise the main cables throughout the country.
In the production of electricity coal plays the most important part. When we consider the cost of the coal that is used for the production of electrical energy, we find that the consumption of raw coal in a big electrical super-station is so great that, except for power purpose, in such an industrial district, for example, as the North East, where you can use it for power, light and heat, you cannot possibly produce electricity cheaply in competition with other forms of power. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he did not know very much about electricity or about electrical terms and electrical develop- 2150 ment. There are, however, various reports that have been published. One report is the Report of the Coal Conservation Committee, with its subsidiary committee on electricity. Lord Haldane's Report has received very careful attention in many directions.
When the figures in regard to a super-station are examined, and the whole scheme is carefully inquired into, there are very few towns in England where you could put up a super-station. A super-station requires an enormous supply of water. The North East district is a success, because they have an ample water supply, cheap coal, and a huge industrial population in the immediate vicinity. They can supply their power at a very cheap rate, and they can supply light at a very reasonable and cheap rate. Incidentally, they are able to supply a good deal of heat, although that is much more costly and is quite subsidiary. When we look round England and we say, "Where shall we establish seven super-stations?" I defy anyone in this House to tell me where we could put up those seven super-stations. We could produce one on the Thames, in fact we are building one on the Thames, and we could perhaps put up one on the Severn, but I know no other place in the whole of England where we could properly put up a super-station. The cost of supplying electricity to far-distant towns away from the station is so great that it is hardly worth while doing it.
What I would like to see the Government do would be to appoint a Commission to discuss and examine the whole question of light, heat and power. We have not touched the question of gas in the Report to which I have referred. It is treated as a matter of no moment, although it is of supreme importance to remember that for every ton of coal that you consume you can produce five times as much heat by gas as by electricity. That is an important point which ought to have been mentioned. That is the sort of thing that the Government might bear in mind when they consider this question. Any large electrical scheme should be very carefully considered before vast sums of money are spent upon them. If they want to do the thing, they should consider the whole question of light, beat and power in regard to all forms of energy and heat.
2151 We are all perplexed by the problem of unemployment, and we are far too apt to try to make party capital out of the problem. It is natural, no doubt, when we are in opposition to try to show up the failings of our opponents; but the unemployment problem is so serious that it is hardly worth while doing that. I remember that when the War came to a close I made a speech in public in which I said that we should have about two years of artificial prosperity, and after that we should have the biggest slump we had ever had in English history as far as employment was concerned. I said then that I could not see the end of it, and I do not see the end of it now. The War has severely crippled England; I am not sure that it has not crippled England to such an extent that we shall never be able fully to recover. In any case, do not let us hide from ourselves the fact that the Minister of Labour, whoever he may be, is confronted with a problem which is so difficult that he requires every person of goodwill to help him, and he needs every possible remedy or solution that can be brought to bear. That is why, when the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass) referred to Empire settlement, I agreed that that was one of the things which we have to consider, as to whether it will not be necessary to aid people who cannot find work in England to go overseas.
In regard to our schemes at home, I wish a little more attention could be given to the problem of afforestation. Even though it would not employ a large number of men it would give some assistance. It is a question which has never been fully taken up, although we have had many Committees and Reports on the subject. We are a little too apt to believe that a scheme which is called a relief scheme, such, for example, as the drainage of waste land or the reclamation of waste land, is not productive. These schemes may be indirectly very productive in their effect. We all know that a great deal of valuable land has been reclaimed on the East Coast, and I do not see why more land should not be reclaimed. In any case, the money spent on these schemes is not wasted, whereas money that is spent in giving unemployment pay is often wasted. Many men who are out of work and doing nothing 2152 become unfit for work and almost disinclined for work. That is the universal experience.
Therefore, although I quite agree that general relief schemes are not good, because they are not really and definitely productive, I have always found relief schemes, even though they are not productive in the best sense, are productive in this sense that they keep men employed, and give them wages for work done. In that way they preserve the moral of these men, and indirectly they are a great benefit to the community. I would not like to throw cold water on any scheme. Although a definite and concrete scheme has my support, I still feel that relief work, if it be of the right kind, and if, for example, it improves the amenities of the land around our towns by the provision of cricket fields, football fields, and tennis courts, is useful, because there is an indirect profit in it. Therefore, I shall support any effort of the Minister of Labour in those directions.
§ Mr. BIRKETT
I do not propose to delay the Committee long, because a matter on which I propose to speak has been excluded by a ruling from the Chair. Nor do I desire to enter into a disquisition on the various schemes put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There are, however, one or two points which I desire to emphasise, and I hope the Committee will forgive me if I illustrate from the City of Nottingham. I was very pleased to hear the observation which fell from the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Alden) as to the desirability of all these schemes being considered by men of goodwill in all parties in this House. That is a view which I have long entertained and publicly expressed. I feel that on matters which vitally affect our national life—and this question of unemployment is one of the most important—all party feeling ought to be suspended, and all men of goodwill from all parties in this House and outside should unite to remove from our national life that which causes so much distress and unhappiness to people of all parties both inside and outside this House.
Whilst I think it is infinitely desirable that that state of affairs should be brought about, there is a corresponding duty cast upon the Minister of Labour. If it be right, as I think it is right, that we should unite in putting party feeling 2153 on one side in regard to these matters, there is a serious duty put upon the Ministry of Labour to react towards that, and the first point I wish to illustrate comes from Nottingham. The Minister of Labour has to deal primarily with the question of unemployment. In Nottingham there are large numbers of people who are being thrown on to the unemployment list through the closing down of the ordnance factory at Chilwell. So far as I can gather, having tried to raise this matter once or twice in the House, there does not appear to be any coordination of the schemes of the Minister of Labour and of the Secretary of State for War, and so whereas, with regard to the ordnance factory at Chilwell, it could be proved to demonstration that that factory could continue to function and save those men from being unemployed, a new factory is being built near Didcot without any relation to the policy of the Minister of Labour in this matter.
My suggestion is first, that there should be closer co-operation between the great departments of State, having in mind as its chief end the prevention of unemployment, and its amelioration where it exists. The other matter which is of even greater importance is this. In every scheme propounded in this House to-day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the all important element, without which the scheme is almost certain to fail, is the warm co-operation of the local authorities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in the course of his speech that so important did he regard that matter that he sent a deputation to the country to urge upon local authorities the desirability and necessity of speeding up every single kind of relief work upon which they could lay hands. I recognise the force of the ruling laid down by Mr. Young, but I think that I am entitled to say, if it be a fact that the co-operation of the local authorities is essential to carrying out the schemes which have been propounded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it does seem to me that the chief end of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman ought to be to engender in the local authorities of this country an enthusiastic spirit of co-operation in his work.
At the present time the unfortunate fact has to be faced that while the local authorities have done their very utmost 2154 in this matter they are almost at breaking point. I was particularly pleased to hear the Chancellor of he Exchequer say this afternoon that, so far as the revival of industry was concerned, we should bear in mind that certain places have been more particularly hardly hit in recent years. The Noble Lord the Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck) will bear me out when I say that Nottingham is one of the places referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore if it be a fact, as it is, that in a city like Nottingham, where the staple industry has been exceedingly hardly hit, the local authority is at breaking point with regard to schemes for relieving unemployment, it is incumbent on the Minister of Labour to see to it that any sense of injustice of any kind which they may feel, whatever may be the source of it, is removed.
The city of Nottingham has spent £1,250,000 upon relief works up to the present. The only assistance which it has received from the Government, on any scheme at all, has been a matter of 23 per cent. of its capital expenditure. There is undoubtedly present in the minds, not merely of one local authority, but of many local authorities, a feeling that they are not supported as they ought to be, and there is a great danger that with the best will in the world many of the admirable schemes put forward will not reach the success which they deserve because of that particular matter. Therefore I urge the Minister of Labour, in dealing with local authorities, to see that nothing is done which will in the least have the effect of lessening that enthusiastic co-operation of the local authorities which is essential to success.
I would not have risen but for the suggestion from the benches opposite that suggestions of a constructive measure might be of interest to the Minister. I agree with the hon Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) that the great shipbuilding and engineering centres have been hit very badly, and are at present enduring extreme hardship, and for them the question of tariff does not enter in. It is impossible to conceive any duties which could help them to any extent, but we might, by using our intelligence, get out of the hole in which we are at present so far as they are concerned. At present 2155 we find that a great change is taking place with regard to the motive power of shipping. The use of the internal combustion engine is coming in, and causing a revolution in the general architectural features of the work, and we find that development in that direction is being promoted more actively in other countries than in our own. We find that of the new construction at present about 30 per cent. in Great Britain is of the motor type, while the percentage for the world as a whole is 45, and in the case of Germany it is 60 per cent. Our great competitor in shipbuilding, Germany, is at present building motor tonnage to the extent of 60 per cent of all the tonnage under construction.
In the great centres which previously built so much of the fighting tonnage of the Navy we find that the economies produced by the Washington Agreement and others have left the great plants which were assembled for the construction of these gigantic engines of war a mere deadweight in the yards of the Clyde and the other great shipbuilding rivers. I would suggest to the Minister that in engineering, particularly in shipbuilding, we have never had any Government support in the way of research such as has been given in the case of the other great industries of the land. In particular I remember when the Corn Production Act was broken a million pounds was given to research by the Government of the day. Under the Washington Agreement a scheme as definite as any under the Corn Production Act was broken without any suggestion of any gift or support for shipbuilding being given, whereby the shipbuilding industry could turn over its energy from ships of war to ships of peace.
I would suggest, therefore, that in the internal combustion engine we have a line of development which the Government might work on. When we were in power I was personally much interested in a scheme with which we were experimenting under the Scottish Board of Health as to the possibility of using certain forms of relief for the purpose of diminishing unemployment. It is necessary that we should continue to have success in the building of ships in Great Britain. If we cannot stand on our feet in that industry the whole of our industry must 2156 sink, and the work of Great Britain with it. But if we could have a scheme for the building of one, two, three or perhaps four motor ships of the high engine power, which at present are not being produced because there is a danger that they will not be commercially remunerative, if the Minister could inquire as to whether, with the joint support, say, of the Postmaster-General, he might not find it possible to provide mail ships of a speed quite beyond the speed of those which are running now, with a higher mail subsidy, as is necessary for speed, and whether the Postmaster-General might not find it worth his while to assist in the production of such ships, we should have at any rate carried out a work of research which in the long run would be of great service to the naval architecture of this country.
The problems in reference to the cylinders of internal-combustion engines involve as much research as anything that has been done for the benefit of agriculture on research farms. If such a scheme could be carefully inquired into there are possibilities in it of immediate employment in the engineering centres of this country, which might be of great assistance to our naval architecture, and help the shipbuilding centres, which are at present in such a bad state. In view of the fact that our great competitor is out-distancing us, it is important to develop along these lines, which would produce an improvement in the mail transit of the Empire and shorten considerably the time occupied by the carriage of the mails to Australia. It is a striking fact that the transport of the mails to Australia takes one day longer to-day that did 20 years ago.
That subject offers a field of possible investigation, and if anything is to be done it should be put in hand rapidly. It would employ people who are most severely hit now. It would employ workers in a skilled trade and it would give a chance of development, which would go far to sera p the four or five million tons of steel tonnage which are at present lying up, and which should not be brought back into competition again, and it would put this country as far ahead in the building of motor tonnage as we were put by the Dreadnoughts in the matter of steam plant. When the Liberal Government was in 2157 power and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Lloyd George) occupied a prominent place in the Government, the other great revolution in the prime mover of ships began to come in, the development of the turbine engine, and the Government of that day put down a heavy mail subsidy for the two great Cunarders, the "Mauretania" and the "Lusitania."
§ Mr. WALTER REA
It was earlier than that. It was in the year 1902 and 1903. The credit is due to your Government.
The important point is that there is a precedent for this. We are perhaps too much inclined in this House to devote attention to precedents, but there is a precedent for the Government of the day putting down a big subsidy to develop naval architecture on a basis of wholesale research, thereby giving a great advantage to the naval architecture of this country. Now internal-combustion engines have proved their value in the case of the smaller horse powers, but they have not yet been investigated with regard to the higher horse power, engines of from 20,000 to 30,000 horse power. This is not merely the vapourings of a politician, but has received the support of so great an authority as Sir John Biles, who was for so many years professor of naval architecture in the University of Glasgow, who himself has advocated such a scheme, and he suggested at any rate a ship with a speed up to 20 knots. That was in October, 1923. Since then I am certain that we could find shipbuilders who would take advantage of this system for ships up to a speed of 22 knots. Ships of that speed would do the mail passage to Australia in 17 days. That would be a great advantage in itself, and the experience gained for our naval architects in the construction of internal-combustion engines up to 30,000 horse power would be of the greatest advantage and produce ships which would be a challenge to the shipbuilders of the world and place Great Britain in undisputed possession of the blue ribbon of sea supremacy.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
There was no part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech with which I was in more cordial agreement than that part in which he said that we have to discontinue finding work merely for the sake 2158 of finding work, and that we have to turn our minds towards great and definite and logical schemes of national reconstruction. I remember the record of the Coalition Government in regard to unemployment, and in particular the record of the right hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara), who thoroughly enjoyed himself at the expense of the Treasury Bench this afternoon. I remember that the Coalition Government had no comprehensive policy on unemployment. They lived from hand to mouth. They took up a scheme here and there, and talked about it. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman himself said that some of the schemes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated that the present Government would undertake were schemes which he discovered when the Coalition Government was in power. Presumably there were many schemes that the Coalition Government put on the list and did not execute. I agree with the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this living from hand to mouth, politically and economically, in the finding of schemes for the unemployed, is not the way and not the spirit in which the unemployment problem ought to be faced. So far as that aspect of the problem is concerned, the present Government is proceeding admittedly on lines which have some relation to those of previous Governments.
From the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement I think that he will do more work than the others, though the others were very good at producing lists of work. We can pick up a scheme here and there. Local authorities can decide to paint their baths a year before they would otherwise do so; they can make some modification of an elementary school two years before they would otherwise do so; and other things of that kind may happen. The real difficulty which faces this minority Government is that it cannot carry out the policy for which the party stood during and before the Election without having to pass legislation. We cannot carry out the full-blooded policy for which the party stood at the Election. MON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] If hon. Members are particularly interested in the problem, they can get plenty of descriptive literature from 33, Eccleston Square. They will find that a great many of the schemes require legislation, and 2159 the Government know that those schemes so interfere with the privileges of private property and private industry that the House of Commons, as now constituted, would not pass the legislation. Therefore, before the full-blooded policy of the Labour party can be put into operation there must be another General Election and there must be a majority in the House of Commons. The country understands that perfectly well. Hon. Members need not think that the country does not appreciate the minority position of the Government. The fact is being impressed on the country, and it is one of the facts which is going to achieve very important advantages for the Labour party at the next Election, because the country will say, "If we want these people to do what they say they want to do, we must give them a chance to do it."
Liberals are admittedly against the Labour party on many points of policy, particularly where Labour policy would encroach on what they regard as the rights of private industry. That is all indication of the difficulty with which the Government is faced. I was anxious to follow up some of the observations which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made on the question of electricity supply. I listened to the very dismal and depressing speech of the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. J. C. Gould). The moral of his speech, so far as it was possible to find one, was that unemployment had to be dealt with on the basis of the workman working more hours per day, and, by inference, working for a lower wage. That is the plea of incompetent capitalism. It is the plea of employers of labour who do not see that the problem of British industry is the problem of efficiency.
§ Mr. HANNON
Can the hon. Gentleman quote a single statement from a responsible employer of labour in this country to bear out his contention?
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
The speech of the hon. Member for Central Cardiff certainly did bear the interpretation which I have put upon it. His is a quite erroneous view of the problem. It excludes the necessity for greater efficiency in industrial production. It is a plea with which we are very familiar. We have it from employers of labour, from chairmen of companies at the annual meetings of 2160 shareholders, and from others. It comes from those who will not get down to the problem of the better organisation of British industry with a view to securing greater efficiency and better management. In fact the modern employer is not a manager at all; he is a financier who pays other people to do the thinking and the management for him. Surely the wisest thing to do is not to depress the standard of life of the workman. Heaven knows, it has been depressed enough in recent years. Every further stage in the depression of the workman's wages is almost bound to be followed by further unemployment. The whole theory that the depressing of the standard of the workman will improve employment is clearly disproved by the experience of recent years. On the contrary it is sound economics to improve the standard of the workman's life, to improve the purchasing power, so that his demand for goods may increase.
I do not agree with the view that used to be held almost universally that this House has nothing to do with the conduct of industry. I believe that it will have more and more to do with it. We have to turn our minds to the question how far we can decrease cost of production and increase efficiency without injuring the income, the status, the dignity and the comfort of the working people. I regard the question of electricity as a material question in the future of British industry. What is the position of the British electricity supply industry at the present time? The position is far from satisfactory. It is not only a. question of local government areas restricting generating where the municipality owns the _undertaking, but of company areas of a restrictive character, and company managers who have similar problems of local feelings and restrictive outlook to which the Chancellor referred. We have far too many generating stations in many areas, with the consequence that our cost of generating electricity is not what it ought to be. The question of load is really a very simple problem. It is a question of economy in the management of the industry.
Anyone who has studied the electrical load curves must have been impressed with the fact that the greater part of our electrical plant, bought with capital, produced by labour, is unproductive and standing idle during the greater part of 2161 the day. That is the real problem. It is partly caused by the fact that there are so many generating undertakings, so little inter-connection and so many people generating electricity for separate purposes. All this is intimately related to the question of unemployment because wasteful expenditure in industry—the wasteful use of capital and the unproductive use of capital—ultimately has to be paid for either by the consumer or the workman and is in fact a tax on industry and an unnecessary increase in the cost of production. Let anyone examine the load curves—low during the night, rising a little as the people go to work, rising further when the factories begin operations, going flop at dinner time, going up again after dinner time, dropping a little and then rising again to meet the lighting load. Tracing these curves one finds dips during the day and during the night which indicate that the capital required to generate the peak load is standing idle and is being wasted during the periods represented by those dips in the curve. We have railway companies, the London Underground Railway, for instance, generating their own supplies, which is technically wrong. A railway should not generate its own supply but should be mixed up with the other demands of the general, the domestic, and the factory consumer. The London County Council should not be generating a separate supply for the tramways. All should be consolidated under one management for generating purposes in order to secure the maximum use of the capital, and there should be inter-connection to allow of a station being shut down if another station is capable of carrying its load. This is a matter which even those in the industry have been slow to recognise.
The Act of 1919 has been referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). The fundamental principle of the generating side of that legislation, as originally introduced, was that generation should be consolidated under one management in delimited areas under a joint electricity authority and there were compulsory powers which, however, were cut out in another place. Ever since that day the electricity companies, certainly in Greater London, have been steadily obstructing the full operation of that legis- 2162 lation, modest and poor as it was after it had left another place. They have refused to come into the joint authority unless on their own terms, and it is a terrible situation that we have not got that consolidation which we ought to have. I cannot agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the suggestion that the municipalities have been worse in the matter of co-operation than the companies in London; the great bulk of the municipalities have been anxious for the establishment of the joint electricity authority; the obstruction has come from the other side, and I am afraid the Chancellor has been misled by the Electricity Commissioners and by others who are pushing that particular idea.
We have to develop this great industry. There are possibilities of employment in the industry itself apart from its effect upon other industries by the provision of cheap power. Take, for example, the use of electricity for domestic purposes. That has not been developed as much as it should be. There are certain municipalities in London, like my own municipality of Hackney, as well as Poplar, Woolwich and others, where a great deal of employment is being created by extending the use of electricity for domestic purposes. It is being used for cooking although there are still a lot of people, even directors of electricity companies, who do not believe in it for that purpose. It is being used for heating and for similar purposes. In the development of the industry for domestic purposes there is not only the possibility of considerable employment, but, what is equally important, there is a great advantage to the working-class and middle-class housewife in the lightening of labour.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the laying down of transmission lines for distribution, a subject which is closely related to the question of the electrification of the railways. I think it will be a tragedy if, alongside the railways, we go to a very great cost of laying down electricity transmission cables. If the railways were electrified, then from the middle rail or overhead cable they could be tapped to distribute power to the rural areas. They could be the arteries not only for the distribution of human beings, but of electrical energy which could be tapped for the rural areas. I am not clear from 2163 the Chancellor's speech as to whether it is anticipated that the transmission lines will be laid side by side with the railways, or whether it is intended that the energy shall be distributed through the railway system itself so that it could be the source of motive power for the railways, while at the same time, the railways provided the means of distributing electricity to sparsely populated districts. One point on which I am anxious to have information is this. It has been indicated that the Government is going to use public money for the rectification of the differences which exist as regards frequency, and for subsidising the transmission lines in areas where they are not likely to be remunerative. I believe I am expressing a view shared by my colleagues on these benches when I say that we object to the use of public money for this purpose unless it is accompanied by public ownership and control. I lay down that principle very emphatically because I am absolutely tired of the idea running through the State Departments and Tory municipal administration that if there is any money to be made private enterprise is to have it, but if there is any money to be lost then it is to be shoved on to the rates and taxes.
§ Mr. MORRISON
That is the settled policy of the Conservative party in this, country, and it is a wrong policy. It is contrary to the public interest, and is, in fact, a conspiracy against the public interest. If big houses are to he built, private enterprise does it, but if slums—the product of private enterprise in the past—are to be cleared, the ratepayer has to bear the burden. I am anxious to know from the Government, as we have a right to know, that there will be no expenditure of public money in subsidising private enterprise without public control. That is a very dangerous principle and it gets one into all sorts of tangles. One requires to be sure that private enterprise is competent to manage these transmission lines, and if I may say so to the hon. Member opposite who seems to have such a profound contempt for the efficiency of municipal enterprise—
§ Mr. HANNON
I never said anything of the kind. What I say is that all our 2164 experience of municipal trading goes to show that municipalities cannot success, fully manage business undertakings.
§ Mr. MORRISON
That is a classic instance of the manner in which theory dominates the hon. Member. That is a purely theoretical utterance unsupported by facts. Will the hon. Member believe me when I tell him that in 1922–23 the municipalities made a net surplus of £8,000,000 out of municipal trading? These are facts, and coming to the question of electricity, so far as Greater London is concerned, the cost of generating by the municipalities is lower, the labour cost is lower, the cost of management by these glorified officials of the municipalities is lower than in the case of private enterprise. The price to the consumer is lower, and as regards initiative on the domestic supply side, the municipalities beat private enterprise into a cocked hat. These are facts, and I beg of the hon. Member to look into the facts and not to allow himself to be dominated by theories which often arise from prejudice. I think we should know from the Government before the Debate closes how far it is intended that these subsidies in respect of transmission lines and frequencies are going to carry public control.
If it can be shown to be technically sound that long distance transmission lines should be laid down, it might well be wise for the State to lay them down and own them, and to charge a rent for their use to the public and municipal undertakings who take "juice" from those transmission I do resent the idea—and I hope I do not do the Chancellor an injustice, he obviously could not be as detailed as he will have to be later, or somebody will have to be later on—but I did gather some feeling of the idea that where the thing could not be remunerative the taxpayer has to find the money, but where it would be remunerative it would continue to be the possession of private enterprise. Let us not exaggerate too much the long-distance transmission; the case has yet to be proved in this country that it is of necessity sound. Long-distance transmission entails capital costs and lenses of energy in transmission, which are held by many engineers to outweigh the advantages gained by it. I think, in London, there is a strong case for the 2165 capital power station, and also on the North-East Coast, but we must take each area on its merits. We must not be dominated too much by the poetry of the super-power station, unless it can be held to be technically sound in the area in which it is to be operated.
I was delighted to hear from the Chancellor that it is the intention to introduce legislation on the electricity situation probably in the Autumn Session. That is what is urgently necessary, instead of dealing with the scheme in a hotch-potch way by Special Orders and Private Bills in this district and that. We need a comprehensive national policy. Certainly all the undertakings, whether they are company or municipal, must be made to come into the joint electricity authorities as far as generating is concerned. The Commissioners have had a difficult task during recent years, but I cannot accept the view that the municipalities have been more awkward in this matter than the companies. I deny it, and I am sorry that the Chancellor allowed himself to make that statement. There have been occasions, if I may say so with respect, when the Commissioners appeared to favour private enterprise as against municipalities, and the municipalities have resented being subordinated to private companies in this matter. I hope the legislation which the Government have announced they are going to introduce—and I am delighted to hear it—will be on broad lines. I hope it will go some distance further than the "Coal and Power" proposal, which is very vague and a little disquieting in its very favourable references to private enterprise and unfavourable to municipalities. We need the compulsory setting up of a joint body. We need public management in the joint electricity authorities on the generating side of the industry. I believe the distributing side of electricity ought to be in the hands of the local authorities, which best know the needs of their areas. I agree with the Chancellor that the question of electricity is of vital importance. I believe the Government are going ahead; I hope they will consider all the time public interest, and not too much fear the opposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite. On the contrary, we ought to welcome it, because it will show we are right. We must not worry about that too much. I believe that a sound electricity policy 2166 upon a comprehensive basis, definitely in the national interest, will secure public support. I feel sure the Government will come forward on that line, and if they do I am perfectly sure that the electors of the country as a whole will enthusiastically back that policy.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
In dealing with a problem of such a very serious character, as that of unemployment, I regard it as the duty of Members who take part in this Debate to offer criticism of a constructive character. I am not so much concerned with mere party criticism of the present Government as to its past pledges and its present performance. The matter in which we are all concerned is to see that something is done and done immediately, and it is only because I desire to raise one or two points which have not yet been referred to that I venture to detain the Committee for a very few moments.
I should like to bring before the Government the special opportunities which are afforded to them of providing employment on work in connection with the repair and the development of harbours and piers and harbour works around our coast, and particularly I should like to emphasise in this regard the needs of the harbours round the coast of Scotland. During the period of war we have seen a very great deterioration in these works. Very little was done in the way of repairs and in the way of development or extension, and I venture to submit to the Minister that he would find a very fruitful source of employment if he were prepared to speed up schemes which are directed to the development of our harbours and piers. It is quite true that provision has been made through the Development Fund for the making of grants for that purpose, but I should like to point out to him that very few grants, so far, have been made since the War. The Fishery Board for Scotland has practically no funds, or very small funds, and these are not available for the purpose of dealing with this matter. Unless some additional effort be made to provide money for carrying out these schemes and to put pressure upon those who are concerned in carrying through the preliminary procedure, very little may be done. I want to ask the Minister if he would be good enough to 2167 inform the Committee whether those particular aspects of the unemployment question have been carefully considered by the Government and what their proposals are in regard to this matter? There is provision made through the Unemployment Grants Committee for providing loans and grants for purposes of a similar character, but I am informed that very little has been done in the way of application of these funds to the development of harbour works along the coast. I should like to ask the Minister whether he would not be prepared to relax some of the conditions which are attached by the Unemployment Grants Committee to the making of these grants and loans, because it is of urgent importance that no delay should take place in employing the largest number of men possible upon works of this importance.
I should also like to direct his attention to another fruitful source of employment in dealing with the question of the prevention of coast erosion. That is a matter which has been recently gone into at a conference which was held the other day by Members of this House, who drew attention to the urgent need for steps being taken to prevent the encroachment of the sea. The Minister will find very ample source of employment here. I wish he would give some undertaking that the Government will regard such work as a national service, and that it will be regarded as work that should not be placed only upon the shoulders of the municipalities and the local authorities concerned, but that it should receive some special State assistance which should be used for the purpose of giving employment to our unemployed to-day.
I have in my division in Fife several schemes which have been recently put forward in connection with the development and improvement of harbours and also in dealing with the question of coast erosion, which I would press upon the Minister and would urge him that now is the time to get these schemes going. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government, anxious as they declare themselves to be, to get a move on in the direction of affording more employment, that they are not in a position to earmark all these schemes, to see that they are carried through at the earliest possible moment and to see that every pressure is put upon the 2168 Treasury and upon Departments concerned to accelerate their programmes.
I hope we may get an undertaking in the course of this debate that something is being done on these lines. There are many schemes held up awaiting final sanction to-day, and until these schemes have been approved, the work cannot be carried out. I hope no undue restrictions will be placed upon the carrying out of such schemes.
I would also like to emphasise the urgent need for the development of afforestation schemes throughout the country. Speaking for Scotland, there is no doubt very wide scope there for the development of Forestry schemes on lines which will not only give temporary employment to many men at the present moment, but will enable us to settle a resident forestry population upon the soil, and to secure increased progress in land settlement through the provision of small holdings. I think the Government have a large responsibility on their shoulders to-day to see that the Forestry Commission vote presented to this House giving a large increased grant will be used for purposes we regard as essential to-day, and that a special effort will be made to secure a great development of forestry and land settlement within the coming months.
§ Sir L. LYLE
With other Members on this side of the House, I listened with great interest to the very interesting lecture which we have had from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think for at least three-quarters of an hour that he lectured us, he did not tell us anything about what the Government were going to do for unemployment. He gave us a lecture on a large variety of subjects, but the reason I have risen is to deal with the concrete proposal he made with regard to the question of beet sugar, and, as I have some particular knowledge of the sugar question, I though. I might intervene for five minutes to examine the proposal. It is most interesting to find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is looked upon as the most stalwart apostle of pure Free Trade, has turned into a full-blooded Protectionist. I would like very much to know what has converted him. At any rate he has the fiery enthusiasm of a convert, and no doubt, in future days, we may see him leading the 2169 Labour party in its crusade for Protection, for I have no doubt there will be such a crusade, and I have no doubt ultimately that policy will be carried by the Labour party. But, first of all, if you are going to think out a scheme for the benefit of an industry, and to create employment, the first essential of such a scheme is that you must be perfectly convinced that anything you propose is not going to damage another industry already in existence in this country, and I am afraid the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not fully considered the effect of his proposal. Another point is that when you are introducing a scheme of this nature, you must be very careful, if you are going to give a bounty and a present to one industry, to be fair and just, and not do any damage to anyone else.
Neither of these two essentials has been maintained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I did not follow the right hon. Gentleman exactly in what he proposed, but I think I know what is in his mind. At the present moment, I think, everybody in this House, regardless of party, wishes to help agriculture and employment in the agricultural industry. But the Committee does not fully understand the position with regard to sugar. When sugar is extracted from beetroot, it goes through various processes, which form it into a brown, impure article, which has to go through a further process of refining. At the moment in this country, we do not manufacture the raw article, namely, raw sugar, and, therefore, those in this House who believe in Protection, or believe in subsidies, might quite fairly say they will subsidise this industry if they are in favour of the subsidy, but I must point out to the Committee that already this industry was in receipt of an enormous subsidy, because the whole of the Excise Duty, namely 11s. 8d., was remitted. Previous to the reduction of the Sugar Duty, the sugar beet people in this country had the whole of the Excise Duty remitted, which was over 24s. per cwt. In spite of the enormous advantage of having 11s. 8d. per cwt. of Protection, they find that they cannot carry on. When the Sugar Duty is reduced from 24s. to 11s. 8d., they say that they must be subsidised.
I understood the Labour party were against all subsidies. I understood that the Prime Minister from the Treasury 2170 Box stated he was against any protection, or against any subsidy, but here is already an enormous subsidy taking place; 11s. 8d. is remitted, and on the top of that comes along the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and although it was not very clear, and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was not able to understand it, they are going to get another present of 9s. per cwt., which means they are going to get 20s. a cwt. over the foreigner, and, as I shall prove, over an already established industry in this country. An hon. Member opposite shakes his head, but I am talking about facts. The present Excise duty of 11s. 8d. is remitted. The Chancellor's proposal, as I understand it—and I think it will be found that I am right—is to give another 9s. on top of that. Perhaps the Financial Secretary knows, and will say if it is not true. When I say the finished article only costs about 24s. a cwt., the Committee will get some idea of the enormity of this subsidy of 20s. I would not object to that if it were part of a clearly laid down policy in order to help an industry, which we have not got in this country already, to establish itself. But there is in this country an already established industry of British sugar refining, that is, the industry which takes raw sugar. The refiners are situated at the ports, and can draw their sugar either from beetroot or sugar-cane fields throughout the world, and make that sugar into the refined article at a big expense of plant, and by the employment of a great number of people, directly and indirectly.
What is the position—and this is what Members in this House do not appreciate—and I should like them to? By all means help an industry, if possible. Leaving out of question altogether the Chancellor of Exchequer—nobody heard of anyone even the greatest Protectionist in the world—who suggested protecting a new industry as against an already established industry! What we want to do in the way of protection is to give protection to an industry in this country as against the foreigner. In this country the beet sugar growing people established at Kelham have been turning the whole of their raw sugar into refined sugar. They have been getting the benefit over the British refiners already for years, while the Sugar Duty has been at 24s., getting 2171 a benefit over an already established industry capable of taking 1,400,000 tons per annum. How can it be possible for the British sugar refiner to sell his article when he has in close competition with him one who has the advantage in the remission of the duty from 24s. to 11s. 8d.? That is not sufficient! They come along and ask for a further subsidy, and this embodiment of Free Trade in the person of the Chancellor of Exchequer, gives them a further subsidy of 9s. per cwt.
The House, perhaps, will realise that there is a way out of this and it is the only fair and just way. We want to give a benefit to agriculture. We want to have supplies of the raw material available. We are only too delighted to see agriculture flourishing. It is not to be thought that the British refining interest think otherwise. We desire to see that we are supplied with raw sugar, and I say, and say it in full confidence, that I am only asking for what is common justice, that if you are going to give a subsidy that should only be given to the point of raw sugar. If these people at Kelham, Cantley, and various other parts want to get protection, let them only produce sugar up to the raw stage. Do not let them, ask for the protection of 11s. 8d. over and above what the British refiner has to-day. We do not object to an industry being started in this country. We do not object to fighting on fair and square lines. But we do object, and come to the House of Commons to say so, and shall come later and put our case to the House. We do ask why should such a monstrous injustice as this be tolerated, that a newly-established industry in this country shall be allowed to carry the process right through to the refining industry, and get protection such as one has never heard of before? All the benefit to agriculture can be secured. All the employment could be secured if they stop at the raw material By carrying through to the refining stage, not one further man will be employed in this country, because every man possible is employed in the refining part of the beet sugar business. Therefore, so far as creating employment is concerned, it will do little or nothing.
I do not want to detain the House much longer, because it is only by 2172 courtesy I have been able to say what I have, but I think it is quite clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that he had very carefully looked into this matter, and that it was not without great consideration that he had come to the conclusion that this should be done, is still not clear upon some points. I asked him to say whether this extra bounty was to be given to refined or to raw sugar, and he did not know, and did not seem to understand the position—so little does he appear to know it. I think it really absurd that the Chancellor of the-Exchequer should come, down here and make a statement of this sort, when he really has not studied the question as to whether it is raw or refined sugar with which he is dealing. I want it to be made perfectly clear that we of the refining industry say that if it be the policy of this Government to subsidise an industry, they should do it in such a way that it does not help to smash old established industries.
§ Mr. CAPE
In this and other Debates that have taken place in relation to the unemployment question since the present Government has been in office, Members have repeatedly challenged the Government, and said that we have not fulfilled the promises that were given to the electors in 1923. I have been a Member here since 1918. I remember when the Coalition Government came in in 1918 They made some definite and distinct promises as to unemployment. Have they carried their promises out? They had four years in which to carry out promises made, and I think they failed in every attempt to solve the unemployed question. Then we had another Government in 1922. They made promises if they were put into power—that is, the Conservative Government—that they would solve the unemployment problem. They suggested, amongst other thing, tranquillity. They had 12 months' experience, and I think at the end of that unemployment reached a higher figure in this country than ever before.
The Labour party came into power They had to face difficulties that had not been created by the Labour party, but by the other two Governments. Now it is expected after six months in office that they should have been able to clear up the mess made by other people and to 2173 solve the great problem of unemployment! I think every Member in this House realises that this is one of the vital questions upon which every Member must concentrate, and instead, therefore, of so much adverse criticism, I think it would be better that the criticism were of a constructive character. The hon. Member for Penrith and Cocker-mouth Division (Mr. Dixey) stated that the Government ought to take its courage in both hands. I do not know what is meant by that. I think the courage he talks about is Protection. He does not know about anything else. I want, however, to suggest to the Government that they might turn their eyes to that part of the country which the hon. Gentleman of whom I have been speaking represents, which is also the county in which is the Division I represent. I think if they do so they will find large tracts of land very suitable for afforestation. As a matter of fact, the Forestry Commissioners have already taken over certain plans in regard to the county, and have been doing some work there. I should like to recommend the Ministry of Labour and the Forestry Commissioners to direct their attention to that part where they could put in hand one scheme that would help to solve the unemployment problem. Let them give some attention to Cumberland, where a very large amount of afforestation might take place. One hon. Member mentioned some of the attempts made by the Government, and he was jeered at when he mentioned the Housing Bill. I would like to point out that when that Bill becomes an Act, and when the local authorities begin to give effect to it, that will create a large amount of employment. We want men to manufacture the materials for house building as well as more bricklayers and plasterers. The provision of houses might also give employment to the steel workers who have been as hardly hit as anybody by unemployment.
It has been suggested that steel might be largely used for housebuilding, and I may say that that same suggestion has been made to me by thoroughly practical men who have had a long experience in engineering and in the steel trade. I would further suggest that whoever is responsible for the Gretna business might give a little more attention to it. I know any effort made in that direction would 2174 be opposed by private enterprise, if they try to put into operation any national scheme, but notwithstanding that fact I think the Gretna scheme is worthy of the utmost consideration by the Government and of every hon. Member in this House. May I also suggest to the Ministers of the different Departments concerned that municipalities and local authorities might be encouraged to get on with the schemes which have been sanctioned by the Local Legislation Committee, and this would help the unemployed in their own immediate neighbourhood.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I beg to move, "That Item A (i)—[Salaries, Wages, and Allowances; Headquarters—Permanent Departments]—be reduced by £100."
I want to bring the Committee back to a rather more definite consideration of the question on which we have to vote and that is, what has the Minister of Labour done to find employment for the unemployed? After all, that is his business, and it is his salary and conduct in his office that is in question to-night. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made an extremely interesting speech, and in certain parts of it he laid down some very excellent economics, but what we have to make up our minds about is whether the Minister of Labour has properly carried out his function of providing work for the unemployed. The right hon. Gentleman quoted figures and the number of the unemployed this year in July as being, roughly, 1,000,000, as against 1,200,000 at this time last year. The difference is just under 200,000, and that is the amount of the reduction in the course of the year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not remind the Committee, as I think he should have done, that during that same period 200,534 men have left permanent homes in this country to go overseas. Therefore, the actual effect is that not a single additional person has been found employment.
The importance of this question is not a comparison between this year and last year's emigration, but in order to ascertain what has happened to the 1,200,00 men out of work last year. It appears that 1,000,000 of them are still out of work, and more than 200,000 of them have gone overseas to try to find work elsewhere. I do not think the Chan- 2175 cellor of the Exchequer succeeded in proving that the administration of his colleague has been successful in finding any work at all for the unemployed. If one looks at the White Paper, which has been circulated to Members of the House for the purpose of this Debate—it was only put into the Vote Office within the last two or three days—we can test the actual administration by the Minister of Labour of the schemes already in operation. That is the only test, because the right hon. Gentleman has not brought into operation a single new idea in the whole course of his period of office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer talks about new schemes, but what we want to make up our minds about is what the Minister of Labour has done, with the material at his hand, and with the schemes we have here, in this Paper, to carry out the schemes already in existence.
Let me make a very short review of these various schemes which are referred to in the White Paper. They are not quite the same figures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave, and it is extraordinary that the Chancellor should have had to admit that he did not even know that the Minister of Labour had issued to the House a White Paper on this subject. If we compare the estimated wages cost of the schemes in Table 1 it will be seen that last year, the year before the Labour party came into office, we spent something over £2,000,000, and this year the amount is something under £500,000. Why has there not been greater diligence in promoting the schemes which are shown in Table 1? The Minister of Labour ought to answer that question and show where his schemes are, and why he has fallen short of doing even as much as we did last year. He ought not to be content to say, "There is the White Paper, and that shows what we have done," but he should explain to the House why he has failed to get within 25 per cent, of what we did last year.
The same thing applies to the matters dealt with in Table 2. During last year, the year of the Conservative Government, the amount spent was £16,500,000, but this year the White Paper shows the amount is only £3,669,000, and that is an enormous difference. There must be some explanation of this difference. When we were in office we did diligently, week by week, review schemes, and we did all we 2176 could to put them into operation. What has the Minister of Labour done? How is it that he has failed, not in giving us new ideas, because we can hardly expect that after his previous speeches, but in showing what has he done to carry out the schemes which we have brought before him? With regard to Table 4, so far as I can gather, no new schemes have been put into operation at all by the present Government. They have taken advantage of those which we prepared, and which, had we continued in office, would have been brought in, and the right hon. Gentleman could have found every single one of those schemes in the pigeon holes of his own office, and I do not think that he has added a single one to them. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what new schemes he has added?
With regard to roads and bridges, the information given us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that contained in the White Paper, is entirely insufficient to enable us to see what this £13,500,000 actually includes. Let me ask the Labour Minister this question. Does it include the Tay Bridge scheme? Does it include the Queensferry Bridge? Does it include the Menai Bridge? I want to know whether the £13,500,000 which is put down for road and bridge schemes on page 8 of the White Paper includes these bridges which I have mentioned, or whether they are new schemes? If they are new schemes, what has happened to the schemes which will be found in the right hon. Gentleman's own office for the Tay, Queensferry, and Menai Bridges? I rather fancy that it does include the River Tay Bridge, from something which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, but, if so, what little progress has been made!
What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say he was going to do in the case of the River Tay Bridge? He said he had undertaken to pay the preliminary expenses of the engineers' investigation. That is all. That investigation has not yet taken place, and, when it does take place, he says he is going to negotiate with the municipal authorities. Will the Minister of Labour tell us whether a single man will be employed on that scheme this next winter? Is it possible to employ a single man on that scheme during this next winter? We know it is impossible if he has made so little 2177 progress in the last five months that he is now contemplating paying the preliminary expenses of the engineers' reports, which he might easily have done five months ago. The scheme, in the shape in which it left us, was awaiting the engineers' report, and, had we continued in office, the ordinary process of the preliminary examination would have been followed by the engineers' report. It seems to me that the Minister has waited five months before he has taken that next step.
With regard to the Trade Facilities Guarantee schemes, I could not understand what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. The White Paper, so far as I can see, absolutely contradicts what I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. I believe he said that it had been extended by some £10,000,000. If that be so, this White Paper, which was issued only three days ago, is totally misleading, because, according to the White Paper, there is actually in hand now under the Trade Facilities Guarantee schemes, £2,000,000 less work than when the Government took office. The figures are here—
Apparently, therefore, there is £2,000,000 less work in actual operation to-day under these schemes than there was when the Government took office.
As at 4th February, As at 2nd June, 1924 1924. " Amount in use or ear-marked £ £ 8,183,550 6,299,000 "
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. William Graham)
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to interrupt him for one moment, he is, surely, under a complete misapprehension, The reference which he is making is to Export Credit schemes, under which the guarantees may run out. If he will turn to the Trade Facilities scheme, he will find that there is an increase of £10,000,000.
§ Sir L. W0RTHINGT0N-EVANS
I am very glad to have that explanation. I will deal with the Trade Facilities scheme, but Jet me ask the Minister, why, then, has the Export Credits scheme been reduced, because, after all, this is the scheme under which men may get work in their own trade? Does he mean that he cannot find people to take up the credits? Is that the reason? If so, then let it be 2178 recognised that these schemes ought to be reconsidered and looked at again. There may be some reason why people cannot avail themselves of the credits At any rate, it is true to say that there is £2,000,000 less of credits outstanding to-day than there was when the Labour Government took office. Now with regard to the Trade Facilities scheme. The hon. Gentleman says that there is £10,000,000 extra. Let me ask him this: Did he not succeed to £5,500,000 of acceptable business which was in hand in February, 1924, but which was held up and could not be completed by the late Government because the Trade Facilities Act was then running out? The hon. Gentleman succeeded to £5,500,000 of business which was then in hand, and yet he comes down here and claims that he has provided £10,000,000 of extra business. What he has really done has been to provide £4,500,000 of extra business, and to carry out £5,500,000 of business that was already in hand when he took office. That is a pretty fair test of the value of these figures, and how misleading they are If they are not properly explained.
Now let me deal for a few moments with the new schemes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put before us to-day, and let me first welcome him as a convert to the importance of the sugar-beet industry. There is, I believe, more joy over one sinner that repenteth than there is over a whole House of Commons, or, at any rate, over the whole of us on this side, who urged upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer all through the Budget Debates exactly the same arguments which he himself has produced to-day. I am extremely glad that our work in the Budget Debates was not wasted, and that it has really enabled the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see the light and bring in the proposal which he has made. I confess I am in much the same difficulty as other Members who have listened to the Chancellor on the subject of sugar. I am not at all sure now what the total of the subsidy is. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) thought it was 10s. per cwt. My hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Sir L. Lyle), who was speaking just now, said he thought the bounty amounted to 19s. 9d. per cwt. I shall be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman, in reply, will tell us what it does amount to. I am inclined to think now that it is 2179 19s. 9d. The sum works out at 19s. 9d. for three years, and then is to be reduced until it expires at the end of 10 years. I welcome the proposal to support the sugar industry. I think we shall have to consider the exact terms of the sliding scale and the exact terms on which the subsidy is given, but, as I have said, I am delighted that the Chancellor has learned some wisdom from our Budget Debates.
Now may I say a word or two about the question of electricity? The Chancellor of the Exchequer produced this scheme as if it were a great, novel idea which had struck the Labour party and no one else, and he seemed to expect that we should all bow down to it because of that. As a matter of fact, what he has done is nothing more, so far as the first part is concerned, than extend the Unemployment Grants Committee subsidies to electricity beyond the public utility works and municipal works to which alone they formerly applied. He has accepted the same principle which we set up in connection with the Unemployment Grants Committee. There we gave a part of the interest on capital which was employed in public utility works and which was not likely to be productive over a period. That is precisely the same form of grant as that which is now intended, as I understand it, to be made in order to induce the municipalities and the power companies to convert their machinery to a standardised system. But what employment is that going to give this winter? What is the procedure? The Chancellor of the Exchequer explained it. He said he was going to appoint an expert, who was to hold conferences with the municipalities and with the power companies, and that at some time, if they arranged satisfactory terms, work would be put in hand. I am delighted that that should be done, but does it mean a single man being employed during this coming winter? We know what these conferences are. However much people try to hurry up conferences with municipal authorities and with big companies, they must take a very long time, and I do not believe myself—
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The right hon. Gentleman seems to forget that he has been in power, not for six weeks, 2180 but for nearly six months. There is a second and third part of the electricity scheme on which I think we should have further information. What does the Chancellor mean when he says he intends to build transmission lines? He seemed to me to be a little sketchy there. Is it intended that the State shall build and own transmission lines? He said that the State is to pay the greater part of the costs of the transmission lines, but does he mean that is to be a State enterprise carried out directly by the State, or is it to be carried out by the power companies or perhaps the municipalities subsidised in the same way as the previous subsidy? I hope he will be able to answer this important question, which is one on which the Committee ought to have further knowledge.
There was even a more difficult question. The Chancellor said that when you got your transmission lines you also have to have your house wired. I think that these were his words, that it was the intention of the Government to form local associations who would undertake the wiring of private houses. Is that a system to set up a Government plumber or what is it? Is it that the Government are going in for local associations with Government capital in those associations, or is it again some form of assistance by the Government, either to the individual who wants to have his house wired, or to some municipal authority or some other body who will carry it out? I think the Minister ought to inform us more on that.
There is only one other of these schemes I wish to mention, and that is the Severn barrage. That is a highly interesting and highly speculative proposition. I remember going into it. If it succeeds, well and good, we will be delighted, but we cannot bank on it at the moment, and the Government are right in saying it will take three years before the tides have been watched and before the calculations have been made. I think the Government are right in paying these preliminary expenses of having that investigation carried out. Do not let anyone think that that means a single piece of work to a single man this winter. At the utmost it may be 10 or 12 people employed in making an investigation.
Throughout the Chancellor's speech one could not help feeling that, however wise it may be to undertake the subsidy of 2181 big and. useful works, however wise that may be for the future, it does not promise a single day's extra work for this winter, and it is only by the Minister carrying out schemes which we have presented him with that work can possibly be found for this winter. I notice with some interest that the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour made a speech at Preston the other day. She was with the Minister of Labour at the time—I believe at the same meeting—and no doubt they carefully checked over what they were going to say. She promised an expectant world something good for to-day. She said:Do not think about the Minister's empty hat. Do not bother about that. Up his sleeve he has got some things for the House which will please the House and the country.Now is his opportunity. Let him justify his position, otherwise he will again disappoint the House and the country. Meanwhile I am not satisfied with what has taken place to-day, and so I am going to move, to show that displeasure in the usual way, the reduction of his salary.
§ Mr. SHAW
We have listened to an extremely interesting Debate, as to 98 per cent, of it in fairly good temper and fair accurateness of fact; as to the last 2 per cent., I think a bit rocky on both accounts. We began by a speech from the right hon. Member for North-West Camber well (Dr. Macnamara), who asked certain questions to which he demanded answers. One or two of the questions would not have been asked had my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had the time to speak about one or two things that are in process of being carried out, or being arranged, which have or will have a material effect on the question of unemployment. My right hon. Friend said not a word about housing. Is it claimed that the housing problem will do nothing to find employment? [HON. MEMBERS: "Nothing!"] Our claim is, on the contrary, that this scheme will not only find employment, but provide type of employment that is most necessary under the circumstances. We hope that it will provide houses. Certain we are that no scheme equal in character has been put before the House. Not only will it provide houses, but it will provide work at their own trade for thousands of skilled workmen who will be occupied not only in building houses themselves but in 2182 making all the furnishings for them. Then my right hon. Friend omitted, strange to say, the subject of afforestation which has been allowed to go down the hill instead of being developed. We have arranged with the Forestry Commission during the present year to acquire another 50,000 acres of land, and to combine afforestation with a system of small holdings. That will not only increase employment but add to the wealth of the nation in a manner that will be of great use to our country. We were asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-West Camberwell what we were doing at once? If he says, "These are our schemes," I reply that in 1918 the Labour party interviewed Ministers and suggested the major part of these schemes. The records are there. We told you in 1918 that the boom was temporary. We asked you to prepare a scheme. We suggested what you should do, and then when it was too late, when you were in the slump, because you had not carried out what we suggested, we did it and you cry, "It is our work." Let me say a word about the figures. It is true that there are 200,000 less people unemployed now than there were at this time last year.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Will the right hon. Gentleman quote his authority which overrules the statement of the President of the Board of Trade?
§ Sir L. W0RTHINGTON-EVANS
My hon. and gallant Friend (Sir H. Croft) got these figures in an answer to-day from 2183 the President of the Board of Trade, that in the year we are speaking of there has been an emigration of 250,000. That answer was given us to-day.
§ Mr. SHAW
But this decrease has taken place since the beginning of this year.[An HON. MEMBER: "You are talking about a year's unemployment!"] I am not responsible for the nine months of the late Government's administration. Bearing in mind the weird way of using figures adopted on the benches opposite, I think I am justified in my attitude. For instance, we were told by a prominent member of the late Government that the Government intended to spend £50,000,000 during the winter, and if that were not enough they would spend £100,000,000. But they had no intention of spending £50,000,000, and they did not spend more than £5,000,000. Yet a responsible Cabinet Minister stated definitely in the country that the Government were prepared to spend £50,000,000 during the winter, and if that were not enough they would spend £100,000,000. When hon. and right hon. Gentlemen use figures treacherously in that fashion and without any sense either of responsibility or of thought for the unemployed—
§ Mr. SHAW
When I receive the treatment I am prepared to mete out to others, I shall not be likely to make statements so strong. But I have received treatment which I very much resent. I have tried to treat the opposite side in a gentlemanly way. I expected the same treatment from them, but I repeat that the statement to which I have referred was deliberately made by a prominent Minister of the late Government and that there was not a word of foundation for it, although the people were led to believe that these things would be done. I am quoting facts. There can be no question that as a matter of fact the unemployment figures are really better than they appear to be, and I will tell the Committee why. When I became Minister of Labour I was approached by one of the chief officials of the Ministry who told me that, in his opinion, the figures as given did not correctly represent the total number of unemployed, and that some 40,000 people partially employed registered at the Exchanges ought to be 2184 added on to that figure. I said to him "In your opinion is that a more correct way of representing the position of affairs?" He replied, "Yes." At once I said "If that gives a more correct picture, put on the 40,000." They were accordingly added. If these figures had been compiled on the old basis they would be more favourable than they appear to be. I did not suggest, as I might have done, that the alteration would make our work look bad. I only asked if it would give a more correct picture of the condition of affairs, and being assured that it would I had the alteration made.
We are asked how many people we shall employ next winter. Everybody knows the winter schemes are not finished, cut and dried, in the middle of summer. In spite of our efforts with the municipalities, we shall have to wait for some time yet before we can know exactly how many people can be employed on these schemes during the coming winter. Certain questions were asked by the right hon. Gentleman as to the road schemes. The separate scheme, to which we propose to devote £13,500,000, are entirely new schemes, and have no connection whatever with any scheme that was dealt with by the late Government. There was one road in Lancashire mentioned by the ex-Minister of Labour that appears in the scheme, but no arrangement had been made for it, and all that has been done in connection with it is the work of this Government; therefore, we claim it as part of our scheme. I may, for the information of the right hon. Member for Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara), say there is a difficulty as to the reconstruction at the national expense of certain sections of the arterial roads in this country, and for that £5,000,000 it may be necessary to seek Parliamentary powers. These we shall seek if it becomes necessary. Of the £13,500,000 the Liverpool and Lancaster road will absorb £3,000,000; the new Chertsey road, £1,500,000; the various road schemes (numbering a good many), £3,000,000; bridges, £1,000,000; and the remaining £5,000,000 will be for reconditioning and remaking national arterial roads at the cost of the nation.
§ Mr. SHAW
Yes, it must be from the Road Board Fund. [Interruption.] I 2185 really cannot understand that that is the case. It is ordinary work when we do it, but it is your scheme when you do it. It was we who in 1918 approached your Government and asked you to do it. The right hon. Gentleman asked also that we should publish a monthly progress report. I am very glad the House of Commons is now so very anxious for a report. Why did not the two Governments previous to ours do it themselves? Why should we do it? There is less unemployment now. There are better hopes now. But I will take the subject and consider it, and if I think it will be to the advantage of the House, and that it is a practicable proposition, I am prepared to do it, as I always have been. When the right hon. Gentleman accused me of publishing a Paper before the Debase he forgot that I published it at the request of one of his own colleagues. The House would have been led to believe from his remarks that the Paper had been published for the purposes of the Debate by us. What took place was this. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Master-man) wanted to know how much of that famous £50,000,000 had been spent last winter. I wont into the subject and discovered to my astonishment that I could not trace that more than a quarter of a million of it had really been spent. The statement was made in the House, the White Paper was asked for, and I gave it, so I ask the Committee to exonerate me from the charge of having published a White Paper for debating purposes.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I am very grateful to him for publishing this. I think it was wanted for the information of the House. It was, of course, for the information of Members for the purpose of this Debate.
§ Mr. SHAW
All I have to say is that I am not the only one who understood that the right hon. Gentleman had suggested that this had been done from our point of view because it was a favourable thing for the Debate Then we had a speech from one of the Members for Cardiff, and his suggestion to avoid unemployment was that we should tell the working men that they should work much longer hours. I can deal with that when I am introducing the Washington Convention (Hours of Employment) Bill. It seems an extraordinary thing to me to argue, as is frequently done, that the 2186 Germans in the Ruhr must work more than 48 hours in order to pay reparations and we must work more than 48 hours to compete with them. The Germans must work more than 48 hours because they were defeated and we must work more than 48 hours because we won. I wonder if hon. Members think the working man is quite such an ass as that. If they do, as they got one disillusionment last year, they will get another. Then we had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). The beginning of his speech was a delicate filigree work as iridescent as foam on champagne. He suggested that his book of three weeks ago had suddenly stimulated the Cabinet, and that their decision had been taken since. This question of electricity has been a very long business. It has necessitated a lot of inquiry. It has been a moot point as to whether it was or was not advisable to ask for the restoration of the powers contained in the 1919 Bill. It had to be dealt with at rather too great a length from my point of view, but it was necessary that we should do it. We are not going to make statements about £50,000,000 or £100,000,000. We prefer to spend the money rather than talk about it in the country without any idea of spending it. It is our intention to unify the system so far as frequency is concerned throughout these islands. It is our intention to lay cables where cables are necessary. It is our intention to attempt, at any rate, to give electric light and power to the villages and small towns, and we shall not hesitate to come before Parliament for any powers that may be necessary. The right hon. Gentleman says the Liberal joke has become the serious policy of the Labour party.
§ Mr. SHAW
That depends on the circumstances. If we find it better to work through the big municipalities and companies, we shall do it. If we find it better to own them as a State, we shall own them as a State, or that is the proposition we shall put before the House.
May I say a word about necessitous areas? This is one of the most difficult problems we have to face. We find that the districts which have most unemployment are at the end of their resources and, try as they will, in many 2187 cases there is apparently no chance of them carrying out any future scheme. There is no question whatever that the municipalities are in many cases, I cannot say unwilling, but unable to carry out the work that is necessary for the relief of unemployment on these temporary schemes. We have not a closed mind, and we are prepared to negotiate with the municipalities and, where the occasion calls for it, to help them in a special way. Then we have the positive remedy gibe over and over again.
The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass) asked what we were prepared to do with regard to Empire migration. He said that we had a surplus of 770,000 males. I do not believe that in an efficient nation, efficiently equipped, there is a surplus of one male. Our danger does not arise from nations that work long hours nor from workers that work for low wages. Our danger arises from those who work short hours for high wages. We were told that we were going to throw 2,000,000 men out of work in the motor trade, but there are more men working in the motor trade to-day than in January last.
§ the 26th November, 1923, there were 21,057 unemployed motor workers in this country: in December of that year there were 19,433, and in June of this year 13,640. Therefore, I hope the Noble Lord will withdraw his remarks. [Hon. Members: "They have emigrated!"] I have given the facts. [Interruption.] I have stated definitely that there are more people employed in the motor trade to-day than in January of this year. [Interruption.] I have only two minutes left, and I wish to spend that time in an appeal to the House. My appeal is this: To whatever party we belong, and whatever may have been the crime which each party has committed, one thing is certain, and it is that any scheme or any policy embarked upon, any action taken ought to be to make this country more efficient than it is at the present time. That is the policy that we are aiming at. Whether we are a manufacturing nation or an agricultural nation, whether we are an individualist nation, or a Socialist nation, unless we are efficient in production, we shall go down in the scale. It is our desire to do everything we possibly can to help the nation to become efficient, and so to provide the real remedy for unemployment.
§ It being Ten of the Clock, the Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the Vote under consideration.
§ Question put, "That Item A (i) [Salaries, Wages, and Allowances; Headquarters—Permanent Departments] be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 204; Noes, 254.2191
|Division No. 185.]
|Agg-Gardner, Bt. Hon. Sir James T.
|Brass, Captain W.
|Clarry, Reginald George
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George
|Clayton, G. C.
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. sir W. (Glas. C.)
|Brittain, Sir Harry
|Cobb, Sir Cyril
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.
|Buckingham, Sir H.
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)
|Bullock, Captain M.
|Conway, Sir W. Martin
|Austin, Sir Herbert
|Burman, J. B.
|Cope, Major William
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)
|Butt, Sir Alfred
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)
|Barnett, Major Richard W.
|Caine, Gordon Hall
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.
|Beckett, Sir Gervase
|Cassels, J. D.
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
|Curzon, Captain Viscount
|Berry, Sir George
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S)
|Davidson, Major General Sir J. H.
|Birchall, Major J. Dear-man
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn(Aston)
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)
|Blades, Sir George Rowland
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset. Yeovil)
|Blundell, F. N.
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Clrencester)
|Bourne, Robert Croft
|Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart
|Chilcott, sir Warden
|Dawson, Sir Philip
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.
|Deans, Richard Storry
|Dixey, A. C.
|Kay, Sir R. Newbald
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan
|Kedward, R. M.
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)
|King, Captain Henry Douglas
|Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.
|Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
|Roundel), Colonel R. F.
|Eden, Captain Anthony
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
|Edmondson, Major A. J.
|Lord, Walter Greaves-
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
|Sandeman, A. Stewart
|Elliot, Walter E.
|Lowe, Sir Francis William
|Savery, S. S.
|Lumley, L. R.
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
|England, Colonel A.
|Lyle, Sir Leonard
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
|Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth
|Lynn, Sir R.J.
|Simms, Dr. John M.(Co. Down)
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.
|McLean, Major A.
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
|FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-ln-Furness)
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
|Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francls E.
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
|Galbraith, J. F. W.
|Meller, R. J.
|Steel, Samuel Strang
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
|Greene, W.P. Crawford
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)
|Morden, Colonel Walter Grant
|Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
|Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
|Gretton, Colonel John
|Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
|Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D L. (Exeter)
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
|Gwynne, Rupert S.
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
|Hall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. (Dulwich)
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
|Turton, Edmund Russborough
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
|Nield, Rt Hon. Sir Herbert
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-Hull)
|Hartington, Marquess of
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
|Warrender, sir Victor
|Harvey, C. M. B (Aberd"n & Kincardne)
|Pease, William Edwin
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.
|Pennefather, Sir John
|Wells, S. R.
|Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)
|Penny, Frederick George
|Weston, John Wakefield
|Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.
|Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
|Perring, William George
|Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
|Pleiou, D. P.
|Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
|Hood, Sir Joseph
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
|Wise, Sir Fredric
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.
|Rawson, Alfred Cooper
|Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)
|Rees, Sir Beddoe
|Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)
|Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
|Hume-Williams. Sir W. Ellis
|Remer, J. R.
|Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer
|Remnant, Sir James
|Rentoul, G. S.
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
|Commander B. Eyres-Monsell and
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
|Major Sir Harry Barnston.
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
|Ackroyd, T. R.
|Gillett, George M.
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William
|Cluse, W. S.
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, s.)
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)
|Ammon, Charles George
|Costello, L. W. J.
|Aske, Sir Robert William
|Cove, W. G.
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
|Crittall, V. G.
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
|Darblshire, C. W.
|Barclay, R. Noton
|Davies, David (Montgomery)
|Grundy, T. W.
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)
|Davies, Evan(Ebbw Vale)
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)
|Davison, J. E.(Smethwick)
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood(Leith)
|Dickie, Captain J. P.
|Birkett, W. N.
|Hardie, George D.
|Black, J. W.
|Dodds, S. R.
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)
|Hastings, Sir Patrick
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.
|Dunn, J. Freeman
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas
|Haycock, A. W.
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth. Bedwellty)
|Broad, F. A.
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)
|Hayes, John Henry
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)
|Hemmerde, E. G.
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)
|Egan, W. H.
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E.(Dorset, N.)
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)
|Brunner, Sir J.
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.
|Henderson, W. W.(Middlesex, Enfield)
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)
|Franklin, L. B.
|Hirst, G. H.
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
|Hobhouse, A. L.
|Chapple, Dr. William A.
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)
|Charleton, H. C.
|Church, Major A. G.
|Hoffman, P. C.
|Gilbert, James Daniel
|Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)
|Hudson, J. H.
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
|Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)
|Isaacs, G. A.
|Stamford, T. W.
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)
|Moulton, Major Fletcher
|Starmer, Sir Charles
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
|Muir, John W.
|Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
|John, William (Rhondda, West)
|Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)
|Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)
|Naylor, T. E.
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
|Sutton, J. E.
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
|O'Grady, Captain James
|Tattersall, J. L.
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
|Oliver, George Harold
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
|Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford,E.)
|Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)
|Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)
|Palmer, E. T.
|Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)
|Perry, S. F.
|Tinker, John Joseph
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
|Tout, W. J.
|Laverack, F. J.
|Pilkington, R. R.
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)
|Potts, John S.
|Varley, Frank B.
|Lawson, John Jamas
|Purcell, A. A.
|Viant, S. P.
|Raffety, F. W.
|Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
|Raynes, W. R.
|Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)
|Linfield, F. C.
|Rea, W. Russell
|Warne, G. H.
|Livingstone, A. M.
|Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
|Loverseed, J. F.
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
|Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
|Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)
|Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.
|McCrae, Sir George
|Robertson, T. A.
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)
|Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)
|Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
|McEntee, V. L.
|Romeril, H. G.
|Rose, Frank H.
|Williams, A. (York, W.R., Sowerby)
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
|Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.
|Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
|Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
|Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
|Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)
|Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)
|Williams, Maj. A. S.(Kent, Sevenoaks)
|Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
|Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, E.)
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
|Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)
|Sherwood, George Henry
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.
|Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
|Short, Alfred (Wednesday)
|Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.
|Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
|Millar, J. D.
|Smith, T. (Pontefract)
|Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)
|Mitchell, R. M.(Perth & Kinross, Perth)
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
|Morris, R. H.
|Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
|Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Question, "That the Committee withdraw immediately," put, and agreed to.
§ The Chairman then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the several Glasses of the Civil Services Estimates and of the other outstanding Votes, including Supplementary Estimates, and the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Navy, Army, Air and Revenue Departments, be granted for the Services defined in those Classes and Estimates.