- "(1) The maximum limit on the aggregate capital amount of the loans, the principal or interest of which may be guaranteed under Sub-section (1) of Section one of the Trade Facilities Act, 1921, as amended by the Trade Facilities and Loans Guarantee Act, 1922 (Session 2), shall be increased from fifty million pounds to sixty-five million pounds.
- (2) The power to give guarantees under the said Section one may be exercised at any time up to and including the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and twenty-five."
§ Mr. MOND
I beg to move, in Sub section (1), after the word "pounds" ["sixty-five million pounds"], to insert the wordsand of this amount guarantees to the extent of ten million pounds shall be allocated exclusively to capital undertakings for agricultural districts such as light railways, reclamation of land, drainage, co-operative storage facilities, depots, co-operative factories, roads, and such other agricultural purposes as shall be determined.I think the Government, on looking at the various Amendments on the Paper, might well say, with Hamlet:To be or not to be"—and then conclude the quotation with the wordsBy opposing end them.We have brought this Amendment before the Committee because, up to the present, the only promises which have been made for agriculture by the Minister of Agriculture amount to some £200,000, for credit societies, which is quite inadequate to make any material difference to the position of agriculture as we know it today. The Government have promised us wages boards, but wages boards are quite useless if they do not provide 30s. per week for the agricultural labourer. It is impossible for the industry to pay this wage unless the Government take definite steps to assist the industry as a whole and 2388 to make it possible for the employer to pay this increased wage. In a great many districts wages could be higher without any real assistance from the Government, but there are many districts where, without the carrying out of the programme which the Prime Minister placed before us at the beginning of the Session, it would be extremely difficult for the farmer to pay an adequate wage and for the industry to be placed in a reasonable position at all.
There are only two Measures which really benefit the farmer in any way. One is the proposal which the Minister for Agriculture has already adumbrated in this House, and the other is the Agricultural Credits Act which, up to the present, has dealt with only some seven teen cases amounting to £39,000, which is quite insufficient to make any material difference, and which has 272 cases amounting to some £1,141,000 under consideration. That shows that something can be done if energy and real direction is put behind it from the top, and if real opportunities are given to the agricultural community to benefit from State aid. The Agricultural Credits Act only provides for special cases of credit societies, and there are many restrictions. It in no way covers the same ground as the Trade Facilities Act. The Minister has told us—and the House at the time agreed with him—that, apart from these Acts, trade facilities offer the one hope to which agriculture can turn for assistance in the future and during the course of the present Parliament.
Agriculture has no prospect at all of obtaining the necessary help and the necessary facilities if it is put into competition with other industries. The industrial man, obviously, can present a very much better case to the Board of the Treasury appointed under the Trade Facilities Act for credit facilities than the agriculturist. You cannot fairly consider them in competition with one another and under the same auspices. You must distinguish between the two if agriculture is really to benefit at all. If there be no distinction made between trade facilities for agriculture and trade facilities for other industries, the suggestion which has been put forward by the Minister of Agriculture for helping agriculture is really not in any way adequate but quite useless, and in some 2389 ways avoids the question which has been pressed by agriculturists and by all parties in the House. Two hundred thousand pounds will not help us at all. It is essential that we should have something more. The only thing that we have had offered us is the Trade Facilities Act, and we must have a proper allocation of the facilities to be given to agriculture under that Act. Otherwise, agriculture will never benefit under it in any way at all.
I do not intend to go in any great detail into the manners in which the Trade Facilities Act can be used. Those ways are so well known as to be almost hackneyed, and in many respects the bringing of them forward again in this House would be almost like leading once more the forlorn hope of agriculture against the numerous city and industrial Members in this House. This is a point which should appeal both to industrial and agricultural Members. We are not asking for any immediate cash or any new money. We are merely asking the State to extend to us the same facilities which the State is prepared to extend to the big shipping companies and large industrial companies, which have already benefited to the extent of nearly £50,000,000 under this Act.
There are several things which will have to be taken up by farmers in this country if they are going to put their house in order and get their industry on a competitive basis with agriculture in other parts of the world. We have heard a great deal about Danish farming, and some hon. Members seem to consider that it is a really mysterious affair that can in no way be applied in this country. I am sure that is not the case at all. The advantages which they have are very few and very obvious. They fall under three headings: First of all, uniformity of produce; secondly, balanced farming; and, thirdly, co-operation. The first two follow from the third. They have uniformity of produce which makes it infinitely easier for the people who stand between them and the goods which they are providing for the public to handle those goods at every stage. They have balanced, farming, which means that they can get very much larger numbers of stock on their farms and that they can produce more per acre than the farmers in this country. The fact that they produce 48 tons of milk per hundred acres, 2390 whereas in this country we produce only 17½ tons of milk per hundred acres, speaks for itself. These are the figures for 1914. The proportion between the pigs kept per hundred acres in this country and in Denmark is also very wide. The number in Denmark is 26 and in this country only eight. That shows that there is a great deal that can be done in England by more intensive and higher farming, or by bringing the revenue or turnover of the farmer on to a scale whereby he can make enough money and operate on a sufficiently large scale, not only to put his industry in a proper condition, but, more important still, to pay his labourers a really living wage. At the present time there is one sweated industry in this country, and it is agriculture. If you want to find a worker who lives under conditions which no other worker would toleate, you must go to the agicultural labourer.
There is another point which could be dealt with by the Ministry under this particular Amendment, and that is the question of education. Propaganda is quite useless. Propaganda is persuading somebody to believe in something for your own benefit. Education is persuading somebody to believe in something for his benefit. We do not want propaganda, but we do want education. It is no use having experimental farms, because the average farmer cannot experiment. He has not the time. His business is to grow what he knows he can grow for at profit. What are of real use to farmers are model demonstration farms. They can be worked by farmers in the counties concerned—not by the Government—and they can get their money for working them under the Trade Facilities Act. They should in no case be less than 3,000 acres, and they should be split up into a large number of farms and run under a unified control, so that any farmer in the county could go to them and see what is being done and what could be done. A farm of 3,000 acres can itself maintain a butter factory and a bacon factory from the produce grown upon it. You have a complete organisation of agriculture serving as a demonstration for two, three, or four counties, as the case may be. These are all things which come within the scope of the Bill, and in that case alone each one of those farms demands up to £150,000 capital; with land at £15 2391 per acre, that means £45,000 in that direction to commence with. I feel that one of the guiding principles of our future national policy must be the development of our rural population and the rural side of our modern civilisation. I am quite sure that the generation which I represent will not display that passion for pavements which, unfortunately, has been observable during the past 50 years, and I appeal to this House, which is not usually lacking in courage when faced with great emergencies, to create this opportunity for real reform in the agricultural industry, and for a real and active policy on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture, by supporting this Amendment.
§ Sir COURTENAY MANSEL
I am aware that this Amendment makes a great demand upon the Government, and needs to be supported by cogent arguments, such as my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Mond) has put before the Committee, and I am happy to be the first person to congratulate him on taking the first step in following a career of distinction, in which his father has set him an example. It is, I know, to ask the Government, in effect, to put in the foreground of their programme of social reform an industry that has not been identified with their party politically; it is to ask them, not for a policy of makeshifts and doles and opportunism, but for a great constructive policy based upon co-operation; it is to ask them to do for this country what the Danish Government did in years past for Danish agriculture, when it was even more un-prosperous than English agriculture is to-day. I know that we have great difficulties to overcome. We have, on the part of both the Opposition and the Government Benches, preconceptions, eidola fori, to overcome. On the part of the Government Benches there is the pre judice against country landlords. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am very glad to hear my statement questioned, but I would urge that, although the country landlord has been domineering in matters of sport and in other ways, he has not been grasping. On the part of the Opposition, there is preconception against control to overcome. I shall not shock hon. Members by using such a revolutionary term 2392 as nationalisation of distribution, but that such a great guarantee on the part of the Government would entail a measure of guidance and even of control is undoubted.
We are asking for a great sum of money, because we are asking for a great policy. There is an Oriental story about a jester who started to tell a story to a Sultan on the condition that if he did not please him with his story he should be executed. His story turned on a squirrel which carried away an acorn and dropped it into a hollow tree. Then it got another acorn and dropped it into the hollow tree, and so on, ad infinitum, and in order to bring his story to an end the Sultan bought him off with a wazirate. We are not asking the Government to drop acorns into a hollow tree. We are not asking them for bacon factories and creameries; we are asking them for something very much more important, for the organisation, the intelligent, wise organisation, of the great agricultural industry. You may say, Why is that necessary? Why cannot the farmer do that for himself, without Government assistance? The answer is, because the farmer is the farmer. He has to live on the land because he loves the land. He is ascriptus glebae, bound to the land by the love of the soil, the true servitude of affection. Our ancestors were right in drawing a distinction between one temperament and another. There is the mercurial temperament, the genial temperament, the saturnine temperament, and they are very different things. The habit of mind that takes a man to the City to earn a large fortune, often lat the expense of his poorer fellow-countrymen, is a very different habit of mind from the one that keeps him in the country, engaged in a happy and healthful occupation, but not making money.
There is a prevailing opinion, quite erroneous, as everyone knows in the country who knows well enough, that the farmer is always making money. [An HON. MEMBER: "Losing it!"] Yes, he is losing it, and the man who makes the money is the middleman. The consumer is paying more than enough for his agricultural produce, while the producer is hardly realising enough to encourage him to persist in that very necessary industry. We are asking, for the benefit of this country, for that great policy to be carried out here which has been carried 2393 out in Denmark. We are asking for a great deal, I acknowledge. We want to have the collection of agricultural produce organised. We want to have the grading of agricultural produce organised. That is a very important point, because, if a standard of quality is once established, you gain the certainty of a market. One of the great advantages which the Danish produce enjoys in the markets of the world is the fact that its quality is established. The mark on Danish bacon is the guarantee of good quality. We want, therefore, grading organised, and we want to go further. We want the State to act as the beneficent friend with regard to transport. We want the State to extort from the railways reasonable terms for the agricultural industry, and we want to go even a step further. We want to see the State organise marketing. That is the most important, and perhaps the most difficult problem.
I know that we are asking a great deal, but I think the demand is worthy of the great principles that the Government now in office profess, and I ask their support and kindly consideration of this Amendment for the reason that I quoted at the beginning of my speech, namely, that the present Government owes very little to the agricultural industry. We support the present Government because we believe them to be a disinterested and patriotic Government, although we disagree with many of their views. If I express myself in a confused manner, it is due to the fact that I sit for the most part under an intermittent hail of interjections from the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), and it is unsettling my convictions. If I were able to sit nearer to him, more at his feet, as Paul did at the feet of Gamaliel, perhaps I should not be misdirected, but I am afraid I am moving, not in the direction of Socialism, but in the direct of anarchism. The State is not the friend; the real benefactor is an enlightened, if rather self-willed, board of guardians with a marked taste for the fine arts. I begin to believe that the State is more of a burden than a blessing.
§ Sir C. MANSEL
I beg your pardon, Mr. Young, for transgressing the rules. I hope the Government will, in regard to 2394 this Amendment, be worthy of the great ideals which their party professes. I call them great ideals, however mistaken they may be. They are yet generous and magnanimous ideals, and I hope the Government may have something of the faith that moves mountains in this matter. I hope they will not sink into the rut of official routine, and become as dull and uninspired as the most reactionary Government that ever held office in this country.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. William Graham)
I intervene now because it is important without delay to put the precise facts of this Amendment before the Committee, but before doing so, I would like to draw attention to one or two general considerations affecting this scheme as a whole. The House will remember that origiNally the idea of the Trade Facilities Act was to help employment; in the second place, to contribute to the permanent productive power of the country; and, thirdly, to depend upon an Advisory Committee of financial experts whose different experiences would be at the disposal of the Government of the day in important matters of this kind. I recall these three facts this afternoon, because they bring us back to the main purpose of this legislation. It was the clear intention of the framers of the original Bill that there should be maximum freedom to the Advisory Committee in recommending the guarantees that were to be given, and I think the Committee will agree, not only as regards this Amendment, but as regards many other Amendments on the Paper of a restrictive character, that the only effect of such Amendments would be to deter applicants from coming forward, which, of course, would further aggravate unemployment, or at all events hinder its cure; and not only that, but even if they did come forward, they would make the conditions of the loans which they themselves had to obtain in the outside market more difficult, and in the next place prejudice to that extent the guarantee which the State is giving under this Bill.
That is the broad effect of every restrictive device which would be introduced, but while I think these considerations of themselves would be sufficient to go a very long way in objection to these Amend- 2395 ments, there are substantial objections to be applied to this Amendment itself which I could summarise in a very brief space. The present position is that as at November last there remained about £11,000,000 available for guarantees. To that we propose to add about £15,000,000 under the extended scheme of the Bill, that is, as between the 9th November last, when the Act expired, and the end of March, 1925. The Amendment would have the effect of allocating, for the specific purpose of agriculture, £10,000,000 of the total sum available for guarantees, and the Mover and Seconder themselves do not disguise the fact that that is a very large claim to make upon a sum of that kind—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—although, I dare say, the Committee generally will have complete sympathy with the object they have in view. I think it is very undesirable, indeed, to segregate any part of this guarantee, however important the object-Supposing for a minute that the test of unemployment were taken. Now while there is distress in the agricultural areas we all regret at the present time, it is true that the volume of unemployment in the agricultural districts is not very great, with the exception of one or two areas, so that really, from the point of view of unemployment, I do not think the proposers of this Amendment have a very strong case. But, apart from that, there is the substantial difficulty of setting aside a very large part of the guarantee under conditions, or in circumstances, which I will try to show in a moment do not strictly call for that course. If this total sum of £10,000,000 were set aside and earmarked for agriculture, or rural purposes, what would happen if by any chance any portion of that guarantee were not applied for or used?
§ Mr. MOND
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Minister of Agriculture has promised nothing at all except under the Trade Facilities Act?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I am coming to that in a minute. The only effect of segregating this amount of £10,000,000, and possibly not getting applications up to anything like that amount, would be to sterilise that part of this segregated guarantee, if I may so describe it, for which you had no application at all. I want to remind the hon. Gentleman that there is a very 2396 distinct danger of such action, because, after all, it was perfectly open to any agricultural enterprise in this country, and it is open to-day, to come forward under the Trade Facilities Act, and that an agricultural enterprise, such as rural railways, or anything of that sort, is a perfectly fair field for the Advisory Committee. The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Mond) indicated that he is not satisfied, with others, for what has been done for agriculture. I quite agree that a great deal more might be done for agriculture, but on this Bill quite clearly it is not my business to say anything about grants under the Development Commission from the Unemployment Grants Committee, or any other provision that can be made. For the moment, I am concerned only with Trade Facilities, but I think I have discharged my duty if I say that the field is perfectly open for agricultural enterprise, and the effect of the Amendment would be to limit the total amount available for guarantees, which, I am perfectly sure, is the last object of the two hon. Members who have suggested this Amendment, On these grounds, summarising very briefly the matter, I hope the Committee will support us in refusing to set aside a sum when, in point of fact, the general scheme is open to agricultural enterprise in this country.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment, and the hon. Member who supported it, surely entirely fail to understand the scope, the object and the policy of the Trade Facilities Act. I expected they would put before the Committee an argument reconciling this Amendment with the scope, the object and the policy of the Trade Facilities Act, but not one word has fallen from the lips of either hon. Gentleman except generalities as to the advantages of co-operative farming and the advantages that would accrue from the building of light railways, and so on. If they wished to ask for our support of this Amendment, I would suggest that their argument should have proceeded along these lines. They should have said, "We have numerous illustrations of farmers who are willing to co-operate, and come before the Trade Facilities Committee and say, 'We wish to build a light railway, five miles long, in order to get our produce to market. We are prepared to ask jointly for an advance, 2397 that you will guarantee the interest on that advance, and that we stand behind that guarantee, because we believe if we had these facilities, we should be able to improve our position and the general position of farming.'" Equally, if they had been able to lay before the Committee any evidence to show that groups of farmers either on their own initiative, or groups of farmers who had interested third parties to come before the Trade Facilities Committee with specific schemes requesting the guarantee of interest for a specific amount, then I might understand they could have attracted some sympathy and support for this Amendment.
But not one word has been uttered to show that, even if this Amendment were passed, anything would be done under it, because we have had no evidence—and I know of none in existence—of any co-operative group of farmers enlisting the sympathy of a group of speculators to take the risk of putting up capital, come forward to develop these schemes, and put that capital behind the guarantee of interest given by the Trade Facilities Committee. I must say I do not think the Financial Secretary took the strongest ground he could have taken in asking the Committee to reject this Amendment. He would have been on stronger and safer ground if he had said that no argument had been put before the Committee to commend this Amendment to our attention. I still say, if they can produce the arguments for the demand which is asked for in this Amendment, the Amendment is unnecessary, because the very evidence they could give which would enlist our support would, if given before the Committee, enlist for them the guarantee of the interest they seek, without any such Amendment. For these reasons, I certainly support the Government in refusing the Amendment.
§ Mr. PATTINSON
If the hon. Member who has just sat down knows anything about the Trade Facilities Committee, he knows perfectly well there is not a single agricultural member on that Committee, and if there is only £10,000,000 to be guaranteed, we do want to draw attention to the fact that agriculture does not seem likely to derive any benefit under the Trade Facilities Act. To say that no application is coming forward is hardly true, because I have myself, on behalf of 2398 a bacon factory, applied for the loan of £6,000. I hope we may get it. But may I draw attention once again to the statement of the Prime Minister when he was explaining the Government's policy to Parliament? He said that the Government proposed to support, either by loans or guarantees, co-operative societies controlled by the agricultural community. Will the hon. Gentleman kindly tell me to what Committee we have to apply if we cannot get support from the Trade Facilities Committee? If we as agriculturists are to have placed on our shoulders the burden of a Wages Board, what are we going to receive as compensation for that? I am not against the Wages Board. I think it is essential, but I do say this: How is the Government going to solve the problem that a good many people are trying to solve in regard to houses, and that is, try to get more out of a pint pot than it will hold? We cannot guarantee a better wage unless we have more money placed in the industry.
§ Mr. PATTINSON
I am not discussing the Wages Boards. I said we must have more money placed in the industry if the policy laid down by the Prime Minister is to be carried into effect. I do not wish to press the matter unduly. I think my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Mond) has proved himself a worthy son of his father in having the audacity to come to this House and demand, in his maiden speech, £10,000,000 from the Government. What I wish to impress is that if agriculture is to be prosperous, and if we are to pay the wage we ought to pay, if we are to provide capital for fertilisers, etc., which the farmer to-day is unable to do owing to lack of capital, and if the promise of the Prime Minister is to be carried into effect, surely the Trade Facilities Committee is the Committee to which we should apply. If it is not the Committee, perhaps the Financial Secretary will tell us which is the Committee. At any rate, we who represent agricultural districts, such as mine, where we have not one manufactory of any sort or description, will never rest until we receive that consideration which the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) and others seem to think id simply for the unemployed in various industries of the country. Mind we do not 2399 get more unemployment in agriculture. Mind we do not find that more arable land is laid down to grass, and large numbers of men thrown out of work. I fear it very much. I am a farmer, and know what it costs. I am in favour of anything and any scheme which will bring back prosperity to our countryside, which will enable us to pay a reasonably decent wage to the workers, and also enable the farmers to make a decent living.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not think my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment altogether deserve the censure, or criticism, rather, of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour), and I intervene to say so, and also to congratulate them upon their admirable endeavour to ventilate the real needs of the agricultural industry. My hon. Friend the Mover said he was a friend of a forlorn hope. I trust not. It is certainly very timely, and, I hope, will be most fruitful. Nothing could be more dangerous to this country than a top-heavy orientation of its population. If by some means or other we can get that redressed, let us do it. If I consider the method of approach to this question of my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder, they will not misunderstand me. The maximum of the Trade Facilities Act is, or was, £50,000,000, now it is to be made £65,000,000. Of this amount £42,000,000 have been guaranteed—rather more, I think the Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us. That leaves £8,000,000 of the original sum, which, with the £15,000,000 provided by this Act, gives a total of £23,000,000. That has got to cover all the interests involved up to March, 1925. Very well. My hon. Friends suggest the ear-marking of £10,000,000 for agriculture. That leaves £13,000,000. If this were done it is quite evident that the Government would have pretty soon to raise the maximum of £65,000,000 to something considerably higher. Look at the objects provided for. I do think that the Financial Secretary might have been a little more helpful. He told us that he was afraid that if he went outside the limit for trade facilities purposes he would get out of order. But I think we all see that the real motive which was behind was the fact that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was not going—quite correctly!—to show 2400 people how they can get money. That is not his business. That may or may not be so. But I should like to say in the first place, taking light railways—and with the very greatest respect and an anxiety to help my hon. Friends in every way possible—that I do not think their method of approach is the right one. The method of approach is rather to the Minister of Transport, to convince him that those concerned have good schemes for light railways, and to get him to go to the Treasury, and find the necessary grant for these light railways. I want an assurance, if I can get it, from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that any scheme of light railways which is put before the Treasury through the Minister of Transport will have the sympathetic consideration of the Treasury for a grant. That, I venture to think as an old Member of the House, would not be out of order, I would like to ask the Financial Secretary to give me the assurance—
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The people who make the application, and to the body that already has given grants. Several schemes have been started. I had the pleasure of starting one myself. As regards the reclamation of the land, that has not begun at all in England, though I think it has in Scotland to a small degree. It is the same thing. There is the Unemployment Grants Committee which has money to the extent of £20,000,000 this financial year. More is needed. I should like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury even to risk the possibility of getting near the limited border, to get up and say, "This is not quite the method of approach to get the money for the reclamation of the land: there is the Unemployment Grants Committee; but if any scheme is brought before me of a practical and useful kind which helps unemployment I will do my best with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to find the money." If my hon. Friend will only do that for us he will have done a very, very useful stroke of work. The same thing applies to drainage. What is needed for drainage is a grant from the Unemployment Grants Committee to start the thing. Let me make an appeal again to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, who made an extremely in- 2401 teresting speech. Let him give an assurance that any serious scheme that will help the unemployed, which is properly brought forward, will have the sympathetic consideration of the Treasury. If I can ever hear those words said by the Financial Secretary I shall feel I have not lived in vain!
The Amendment next deals with a group of things which will come within the Trade Facilities Act—co-operative storage facilities, depots, co-operative factories, roads, etc. It does seem to me that if the people come forward and say, "We can start these, they are fair objects for guarantee under the Trade Facilities Act," that the Trade Facilities authorities, if they are genuine schemes put forward, will help without any earmarking of the £10,000,000, and will give a guarantee to any serious scheme for these purposes. As to roads, application should be made to the Ministry of Transport. Not enough money has been profitably used, and I want the Minister of Transport, when he gets a good scheme from an agricultural body, to go to the Treasury and subsequently say that on the assurance of the Treasury he will give his consent, and that he will help to find money for such a scheme. The Financial Secretary said a thing which rather surprised me. He said—if I heard him aright—that there was not a great deal of unemployment in the agricultural districts.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
During a long time, ever since the repeal of the Corn Production Act—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—there has been a steady drift from the agricultural districts to the poorer parts of the great towns. The aim of these poor men has been to get into insurable occupations so that when they fell out of work they would be eligible for unemployment benefit. I am perfectly certain that this Committee does not appreciate the extent to which that drift has been going on. It is a very serious matter indeed. I appeal to the Financial Secretary now to supplement what he has already said. He said, quite truly, that you are sterilising this £10,000,000 if it is not applied for, and that that would reduce the £23,000,000 pro tanto. That is quite true. He practically says that some of these projects are provided for 2402 already if application is made. As the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) said, that is true. What I want to impress upon the attention of hon. Members, so far as I am concerned, is the need for the further assurance I have suggested. If schemes are brought to my hon. Friend by the responsible Minister for grants under the Unemployment Grants Committee, I trust he will consider the grants available, go to the Treasury in view of the serious state of agriculture, and that he will give these applications every sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. HANNON
I desire for a few moments to speak in opposition to this Amendment. I am afraid that the pro-poser and supporters of the Amendment have not taken very much trouble to understand the precise intention of the-Trade Facilities legislation which has passed through this House. There is no real reason whatever why they should not achieve everything they want under existing legislation if only they are prepared to put forward practical schemes. The hon. Member who supported the Amendment talked a good deal about agricultural co-operation. He particularly referred to the success of agricultural co-operation among Danish farmers. I had at one time in my life a very intimate knowledge of Danish agriculture. The whole success of Danish agriculture is dependent on self-government amongst the farmers themselves without assistance from outside, and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, who—if I may respectfully say so—understands agricultural co-operation better probably than any other man in this House, will agree with me that the whole structure and highly organised state of Danish agriculture to-day, was built up by the people themselves on the principle of real co-operation, not by continually going hat in hand to the State to get some sort of subsidy.
It is the duty of this House to do everything possible to restore our rural civilisation. I believe that this House ought to contribute in every way it can to bring people back to the land and to make the agricultural industry a profitable one to the whole farming community. But I think it is very foolish to try to bring about the restoration of better agricultural conditions in this country 2403 by continually going to the State and asking for subsidies and grants. You are going to ask the Government to help co-operation. I remember spending many weeks in England, addressing meetings of farmers in advocacy either of distributive or productive co-operation. Nobody in this world can tackle a more difficult process than getting English farmers to co-operate. You have to contend against every sort of difficulty. It is almost impossible to get two or three English farmers to co-operate in carrying out certain agricultural processes.
§ Mr. HANNON
I am afraid my hon. Friend is wrong. The Danish State has not promoted co-operation. It afforded facilities for research work for farmers. It assisted them in providing for the purity of their fertilisers, and guaranteeing the fertility of the farm seeds, and so on, and it did some valuable work in promoting agricultural education. But the greater success of the Danish farmer is in large measure due to the rural high schools which were started in Denmark with the specific object of training the grown-up children of the Danish farmers in practical agriculture and in rural pursuits. Hon. Members on the opposite side who give attention to the work of the co-operative movement know perfectly well that that is how Denmark achieved its great position in Europe as the most intensely cultivated agricultural community, and the most successful competitor in our own markets with our own farmers. That is co-operation by the people themselves having the full conviction of it; working together for the cheapening of production, and reducing the cost of transit. It was carried on on the principle of self-help, without going to the Government and asking them for guarantees or subsidies to enable them to continue these operations. There is not a single Danish bacon factory, nor a single Danish co-operative society for the collection and export of eggs, not one single one of these very successful institutions, nor the Federation of which they are part, that has received one single penny from the State in the work which they have so 2404 successfully carried on to the present time.
§ Mr. HANNON
There was no guarantee in Denmark. The main thing was co-operation and good will among the farmers themselves. Therefore I believe that the Financial Secretary is acting appropriately in rejecting this Amendment and in inviting the House not to embody it in the Bill. If hon. Members opposite who profess at this late hour of the day sub attachment to agriculture are really serious let them encourage the farmers in their respective constituencies to put practical schemes before the Financial Secretary, and I think they will find that they will get a reply that will be helpful.
§ Mr. HANNON
Because the industrialists carry the whole country on their back. It is the industrial community of this country that is the most highly taxed on the face of the earth. The hon. Gentleman has no right to say that the industrialists are to be singled out—
§ Mr. HANNON
They are entitled to get all they can. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I repeat, there ought to be no segregation of the grants appropriate under this Bill. The needs of the agricultural industry should be treated on their merits.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROYCE
I am very pleased that this Amendment has been brought forward, because it has given us an opportunity of hearing, from a quarter we hardly expected, a considerable amount of solicitude in regard to the condition of agriculture. It furnishes me with an opportunity to make an appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to enlarge his ideas as to what is possible at the present moment, being assured, I am quite sure, of the support of the Liberal party, after the speeches that have been made this afternoon. I can only imagine that the timidity with which, in my opinion, he 2405 has approached the agricultural question was caused by the fear that he would not get the support of the party below the Gangway. Now that we have a different atmosphere and are assured of their great interest in agricultural subjects, I think he should take his courage in both hands and bring forward some of those larger schemes which he has in his mind. I thank the right hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) for his contribution, because he has made suggestions that can be taken up. Agricultural railways is one of them. The party on the Opposition Benches brought forward schemes of this kind, but they allowed them to die for want of further support. The axe came into operation; schemes which were ready for execution were killed, and the Minister has now an opportunity of reviving those schemes and putting them into operation.
Agricultural railways will serve a double purpose. They will save large contributions from the Road Fund, and they will provide employment. There is the other subject of reclamation. This may not be the proper means of obtaining funds for reclamation, but I am afraid that this Government, like preceding Governments, have not taken any steps towards reclamation. There are almost tens of thousands of acres ripe for reclamation at the present time in this country, which would afford not only employment but would also give something in return for the labour expended upon them, and which would be a continual source of production for this country. I agree that many of our agricultural labourers are drifting away from the country, and it is time their situation was taken into consideration. We are losing valuable time; another winter will be upon us, and we are making no effort by which the position of the agricultural labourer can be improved. There is not a single Member on either side of the House who has described the direful position of the agricultural labourer in this country at the present time. When I hear the claims made by other sections of the working community, who obtain wages which, compared with those of the agriculturist, seem to be enormous, it brings more forcibly to my mind than ever the condition of the agricultural labourer, who to a large extent has been neglected. If this opportunity, so well 2406 taken by the hon. Members below the Gangway, has brought to the consciousness of the Government the urgent necessity of giving greater attention to agricultural subjects, and especially to the condition of the agricultural worker, it will have done a great deal of good.
§ Lieut-Colonel WOODWARK
I rise to support the Amendment so ably proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Mond). In doing so, I should like to draw the attention of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the fact that while £10,000,000 has been asked for agriculture, the point made against the Amendment is that there is no need to earmark that sum specially for this industry. After the speeches made by hon. Members opposite, representing industrial concerns, it is very necessary that a certain sum should be earmarked for agriculture. Large sums are asked for, and I believe it is the fact that the Trade Facilities Committee prefer to deal with sums of £100,000 and upwards rather than with smaller amounts. Loans asked for agriculture will necessarily be in small amounts, and I should like an assurance from the Minister that there will be agricultural experts on this Committee. That is very necessary, because the industrial representatives appear to treat agriculture as a plaything, when it is really one of the most important industries in this country.
In dealing with light railways, I hope the Minister will consider the altered conditions caused by motor transport. Many farmers are taking their produce by road direct to the markets, and to their destinations. Third-class roads in many districts would be more useful than light railways. The problem of drainage is in a very serious position. The drainage boards are already overloaded with loans. Farmers are overloaded with taxes. As the Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) said, what is really desired is a grant. Failing that, if they have to resort to loans, I hope that the Government will give facilities for granting them loans on better terms, say, 4 per cent. on money taken up. The two drainage boards I know are the Welland Drainage Board and the Ouse Drainage Board. The Ouse Drainage Board is concerned with the drainage of 10 counties, and they will have to deal in the near future with the outfall 2407 drainage of the Ouse. I may read what the engineer said quite recently concerning the drainage of the Ouse in those 10 counties. He says:The repair and extension of the training walls would be of great benefit to the river both for drainage and navigation, as they would confine the flow and cause scour which would help to maintain a deep channel, and also would, I am confident, prevent to a very considerable extent, the silting up of the river which now goes on, as they would bring the inflowing tide from the deeper waters of the Wash, and not from the shallow silt carrying water that ebbs and flows across the sand banks; when these works are done, dredging would be of great benefit and practicable, but without the training walls dredging would be more or less abortive, as the silt would settle in the dredged portions almost as fast as it was dredged away, unless the work was only carried out when there were freshets coming down the river.The danger of breaks in the hanks is very great in the South Level Area and above Denver Sluice, and is caused principally by the bad state of the river between Denver Sluice and the sea, on account of the tremendous amount of silt brought in from the Wash, and deposited along the river during the summer months. At Ely in December last it was sufficiently high to put almost the whole of the South Level Area, amounting to some 150,000 acres of agricultural land, in a very precarious condition indeed.That would have been most disastrous. It would possibly have caused great damage to the best land we have, and might have led to a loss of life. I am sure the Government would be sorry if such a catastrophe occurred, because it might be the moans of decreasing the majority of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely. The hon. Member for Boston (Mr. Royce) has spoken very rightly in regard to reclamation. The Wash scheme is one that I think the Government should undertake. If it were taken in hand on a large scale, work would be found for thousands of men for years. Smaller schemes of reclaiming land could be started by private undertakings. The great objection made to reclamation is that it is not an economic proposition, but I maintain that reclamation schemes must be treated as unemployment schemes, and by that means you could provide work instead of doles. In taking into account the cost of reclamation, the Government ought to consider the cost of a man when he is getting the dole. The average cost of the dole per man, 2408 single and married, works out at about £40 a year. There are, round Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast at the present time pieces which are ready and ripe for reclamation to the extent of 3,720 acres. They are in odd lots of 600 acres, 170 acres, 600 acres, 700 acres, 400 acres, 390 acres, 640 acres and 220 acres. These figures are obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture's own engineer. Much skilled assistance would be required before this work could be put in hand, but by giving private enterprise a chance you could do it much cheaper.
I know that in the case of one 640 acres and the other 220 acres there is Some sort of organisation at work which will take them at least 15 years to reclaim at the present rate of progress, but if the Government can come to their assistance they can provide work for some 300 or 400 men for two years, and the work would be done in that time. I ask that the attention of the Government should be drawn to this fact, and that they will consult the engineers of the Ministry in order that private enterprise may be encouraged. One other very helpful thing in connection with the scheme is that these places are near towns where the unemployed could get to and from their homes very easily. I hope this Amendment will show the Government the urgent necessity for doing something for agriculture, and I trust they will deal with this industry on a different basis from other undertakings. I think we should have some additional statement from the Minister of Agriculture as to the policy of the Government with which, up to the present, many of us are very dissatisfied.
§ Captain TERRELL
I rise to support this Amendment. I do so because I represent an agricultural constituency, and I am fully alive to the fact that something must be done for that important industry. I cannot understand why it is the Government have refused to accept this Amendment. I recall quite well that on the eve of the fall of the late Government, the Prime Minister laid great stress upon the necessity of doing something for this industry and doing it at once. Now, when there is an opportunity of showing good faith, instead of accepting what I consider to be a very useful Amendment, practically they turn 2409 it down, and why? Some hon. Members may be under the impression that it means a subsidy to the industry. The hon. Member for the Moseley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Hannon) mentioned the word "subsidy," but there is no such thing in this proposal. If it is a subsidy, then every industry which receives any benefit under the Trade Facilities Act is being subsidised, and why should not agriculture, which is the most important industry in this country in which more people are employed than in any other industry and in which more capital is invested, not be assisted financially? I listened with great interest to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for the Holland Division (Mr. Royce) and I think very few hon. Members in this House possess such a good knowledge of the industry as he does. He has urged upon his own Government the necessity of accepting this Amendment. What is there in this Amendment to which anybody could possibly take exception? May I just read the Amendment? It is as follows:and of this amount guarantees to the extent of ten million pounds shall be allocated exclusively to capital undertakings for agricultural districts such as light railways, reclamation of land, drainage, co-operative storage facilities, depots, co-operative factories, roads, and such other agricultural purposes as shall be determined.I cannot for the life of me see what objection the Government can have to assisting this industry in that way. I am very glad to see the Minister of Agriculture in his place, and I have not a shadow of a doubt that he will join in this Debate. I should not be at all surprised if he does accept this Amendment. At any rate, I hope he will. So far he has made several statements to the effect that he is going to produce a policy for the agricultural industry, but up to date I have not seen much of a comprehensive policy from his Department. He has talked about the re-establishment of the Agricultural Wages Board, co-operation, and one or two minor points, but he has not yet produced a comprehensive agricultural policy. I hope if he does join in this Debate, that he will accept the Amendment without any reservations whatsoever.
In this Amendment special attention is drawn to the question of supplying light 2410 railways. I am one of those who hold the view that it is absolutely essential to do something to bring up the system of transportation in rural districts to a modern standard. In this country to-day a great deal more food could be produced on the farms if the farmers were certain, after the food had been produced, that there was some convenient method of getting it through to the market. If this can be done, as suggested by this Amendment, by light railways, why should not the first Socialist Government start that method? I also see in the Amendment that co-operative storage facilities, depots and factories should benefit under this £10,000,000 loan. The Government themselves have said they are in favour of a system of co-operative societies in agriculture. If they are really in favour of that, why should they not assist in the way this Amendment suggests?
The hon. Member for the Moseley Division of Birmingham seems to be rather a pessimist when dealing with co-operative societies in agricultural districts. My experience—and one can only speak from first-hand knowledge—is that a great deal of good can be done by fostering and assisting co-operative movements and enterprises in the industry of agriculture. In Oxfordshire I know of three societies formed amongst smallholders and farmers. They have done extraordinarily well, and there is no doubt about it that if only they were encouraged and assisted by the Government of the day in the way of loans at a cheap rate of interest, a great deal more food could be produced in the countryside which would help to bring down the cost of living in this country I cannot help feeling that the Government are placing themselves in a very false position by opposing this Amendment. I hope the Minister of Agriculture will make a clear announcement on this question, and overrule the decision which has been given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury by accepting this Amendment in full.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I feel constrained to rise and add a few words to this Debate. I, for one—and I think I may also speak for the vast majority of hon. Members interested in agriculture in this House—do not agree with the attitude of the Government on this matter. I am glad that the hon. Member for Henley 2411 (Captain Terrell) has taken part in this Debate, as he is the first hon. Member on the opposite side who has defended this Amendment. Two other speakers have made speeches pointing out that the one great industry to be benefited was not agriculture, but consisted of other concerns appertaining to urban city life. I know my hon. and gallant Friend's speech represents the view of the party opposite, and I believe they are sincerely anxious to benefit the agriculture of this country. I hope my colleagues on this side, unless we get a satisfactory assurance, will divide against this Motion.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury did not show his usual brilliance and acumen when he opposed this Amendment. He talked quite glibly about the origin of the Trade Facilities Committee, and he too fell into the error of the hon. Member for Moseley, that the sum of money which had been set aside as guarantees for industries should be devoted solely to the urban industries of this country. The hon. Member never told us whether a single penny was allocated to agriculture. He said that out of this large sum of £65,000,000, if agriculture put forward in the future any good scheme, it would be considered, but there is not a single man on the Committee who has any first-class knowledge of agriculture. I have a great respect for the members of the Committee, but I would impress upon the Government the desirability of reconstituting it and having upon it somebody who has a deep and sincere interest in the agricultural industry of this country.
I think on this point I speak for the vast majority of hon. Members of this House, when I say that until that is done the country will not rest assured that the vast sum of money to be allocated as guarantees is being properly allocated in the best interests of the country. I wish to reinforce the appeals which have been made by my hon. Friends behind me. There is no doubt a great anxiety for the future welfare of the agricultural industry of this country. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us that the trade facilities loans or guarantees were, first of all, initiated for unemployment, and he made bold to say that there was unemployment only in one or two agricul- 2412 tural cities. Does he not see that unemployment in the cities is very much related to the conditions of the countryside, and if those conditions are bad, they immediately drive all the young men to compete in the labour market in the cities. Until you get at the root of the evil, the regeneration of the countryside by guarantees through loans and grants, you will still have the city problem of unemployment.
I should have thought that my hon. Friend of all men—because I realise that he has gone to the root of these matters, both in his work at the Treasury and before he went to the Treasury—would have been the first person to realise that one of the great means of combating unemployment in this country is to go in for a strong policy of rural regeneration such as is outlined in this Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara), who has himself been in office, and knows what can be done, made a most effective speech. Those of us who are interested in agriculture know that very often a guarantee for a loan is not sufficient. There are many schemes which can only be met by grants particularly in rural districts where the rateable value is very low, and where people, very often, have never heard of public loans—whenever they want a small loan they go to the local bank, and their only credit is their own character. When people in that station of life desire, say, a light railway, they cannot put up the amount of money locally which is demanded by the Treasury before they can get a loan. I would impress upon my hon. Friend that he should persoNally investigate these cases, for it is by these small things, and not by great main roads, that an improvement is to be effected in the rural transport of this country; and, until the rural transport of this country is improved, the country as a whole will never get the full benefit from its agriculture. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Henley that it is time that the Minister of Agriculture should intervene in this Debate and tell us—for the Government, so far, has not told us—what he proposes to do in the interests of agriculture, and I would conclude by repeating what I said earlier, that, unless we get a satisfactory answer from the Financial Secretary to the 2413 Treasury and from the Minister of Agriculture, we, at any rate in this part of the Committee, are prepared to defend the Amendment we have put on the Paper by going into the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. G. EDWARDS
I want first to express my satisfaction at the Amendment which has been moved from below the Gangway, although I must also express my surprise at the new-born zeal for agriculture that is shown by hon. Members on those benches [HON. MEMBER B: "Why?"] If hon. Members will wait a minute I will tell them why. A good many years ago, their Leader and my Leader then said in this House that the time was come when the land of this country should no longer be the pleasure-house of the rich, but should be the treasure-house of the poor. Hon. Members have been a long time making up their minds. I hope that this Amendment will influence the Minister of Agriculture to give us something more definite in regard to agricultural policy than he has up to this moment. The time has come when something should be done for this industry, so that the agricultural labourer may be put into a better position than he occupies at present. He has lost, during the last two years, by decreases in wages, £14,000,000, which is a very large slice to take from men with such small wages.
I cannot understand why the Minister should oppose this Amendment, and I hope he will accept it. It asks that guarantees should be given for a loan for one or two very commendable purposes. Firstly, there is the reclamation of land. Running from King's Lynn all along the Wash, and right down the coast, there are hundreds of acres that could be turned into beautiful fertile soil, employing hundreds of men, if it could be reclaimed, and I should think that this purpose ought to commend itself to any Minister, to whatever party he may belong. From that one point of view alone, I hope the Minister of Agriculture will seriously consider this Amendment. Again, one of the most serious difficulties against which agriculture has to contend is that of transport. As has been pointed out, many industries are suffering from excessive transport charges, and no industry at the moment is more handicapped in this respect than agriculture. 2414 Something needs to be done in order to afford agriculture better facilities in regard to means of transport. As regards co-operation, I should like to see money advanced for this, but I am rather pessimistic as to whether the farmers as a class will accept it. The smallholders will, but I am afraid the farmers are too conservative in their methods to embrace these opportunities as they ought. However, a loan for the purpose of co-operation, reclaiming land, and transport facilities ought to commend itself to the Minister of Agriculture, and it will do something to secure for the labourer better and more constant employment than he has now.
I do not like to be in opposition to my Friends on the Front Bench, but I do not agree with the Financial Secretary in his remarks on unemployment. There is a great deal of unemployment in the rural districts, and it is rapidly increasing. I am anxious to see something done that will prevent it. It is quite true, as has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), that we are losing all our youngest and best blood from the villages. The first thing they do is to drift into the large towns, there to swell the unemployed market and compete with those who are already out of employment, and, consequently, to increase the unemployment there. Unless something is done to give better security, the unemployment in rural districts will be more intensified than ever after the next harvest. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will see his way to accept this Amendment and to give us something more definite about the policy in reference to agriculture, so that there may be some security and encouragement during the coming months for those engaged in that industry.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
I listened very carefully to the speech of the Mover of this Amendment, and I must say that, after hearing it, I did not feel, at that moment, that his proposal would bring about any great advantage in regard to the urgent needs of agriculture at the moment, because it seemed to me that the schemes he was proposing were not schemes that would be put forward by private capitalists or private individuals, but would have to be done by some public Department. It was not until I heard the Financial 2415 Secretary to the Treasury that I began to see that there was in what he said more hope of getting direct benefit for agriculture as it exists to-day. I am, therefore, going to ask the hon. Gentleman one or two questions. I understand that his answer to this Amendment is that under the Trade Facilities Act all that it asks for can now be accomplished. The answer to that is, "Not so." It is quite true that in theory anyone who brought forward these schemes would come within the terms of that Act, but it is a very different proposition to go before an Advisory Committee which had the doling out of these guarantees, where not a single soul takes the slightest interest in agriculture, where they do not know the needs of agriculture or the needs of the schemes put forward—it is a very different proposition to go before such a body as that, where they have an entirely free hand as to how they dispose of the money, from going before a body where some member has the interests of agriculture at heart, and, what is more important, where there is a definite sum that must be used, if used at all, for the purpose of agriculture. In the first place, I would ask the hon. Gentleman, on that part of the case, whether he can give any guarantee that, at any rate, there should be on the Advisory Committee some member who has the interest of agriculture at heart, and I should like to see him go further and say that the use of part of this money should be limited to agricultural purposes.
A great number of my constituents are engaged in milk production. During the last few years there has grown up—I protested against its formation during the War, and against its continued increase—a huge milk combine, which controls 70 per cent. of the milk consumed in London, which has a capital of some £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, and which has grown up by buying up private businesses at enormous cost. The company is extremely overcapitalised, and it has obtained such a hold on the milk industry that my constituents, who live on their farms and who contract for it twice a year, on the 30th September and the 31st of March, are placed in this position: They got on the 29th a letter saying, "Our price for the next six months is such and such a figure. If you do not accept it stop sending your milk from to-morrow." Very shortly 2416 afterwards they issue an advertisement in the newspapers, "Our price for the next three or six months—whatever it may be—to the consumer is so much a quart." We are to-day in this position, that this huge combine or trust, overcapitalised in this way, fixes the buying price of the commodity, which is an absolute essential of life, in which they deal, and they fix the selling price of that very article to the consumer.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
The relevance is this. I am going to ask the Minister whether money can be devoted to fighting this combine.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)
The hon. and learned Gentleman must restrict his remarks to the purpose of the Amendment.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I regard this as of the most vital importance. The Minister's proposal was to advance to co-operative societies £10,000.
§ Mr. SHORT
On a point of Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman is surely not within his rights in discussing some proposal of the Minister to advance money. This is not incorporated in the Trade Facilities Bill nor in the Amendment.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
May I point out again that the interruption is really unnecessary. Under the very Amendment we are discussing, which is to give guarantees to co-operative factories, I am going to discuss co-operative factories.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am waiting to see what the hon. and learned Gentleman's point is. Till I can let him pursue it I cannot rule on it.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
The Minister's proposal was to deal with this difficulty by establishing co-operative factories, to which a Government loan under the £200,000 scheme would be made not exceeding £10,000 to any factory. You might as well fight this battle with a popgun against an army armed with machine guns. I wish to ask the Secretary to the 2417 Treasury whether under the Trade Facilities Act it is possible for farmers, by co-operation or in combination amongst themselves, to set up some scheme of either retail or wholesale dealing which would be an effective method of fighting this great combine and trust, whether that would come under the Trade Facilities Act and receive the benevolent support of the Minister of Agriculture and whether it would have the support of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I should also like to ask whether sugar beet factories would come under the Trade Facilities scheme. If there is one new industry which, in my opinion, is likely to benefit the agricultural industry and the agricultural worker, it is the establishment, and the increased establishment, of suger beet in this country, because it provides for one of the necessities of life that we have to import from abroad and because it finds work for men in the villages during the winter, when work is scarce, and for a considerable number of months during the winter. While it is doing that, it is, in the growing of the beet that is necessary to supply the raw material to these factories, not only employing a number of hands during the summer, and during the growing period, but it is, by the necessary decultivation that is required for growing beet, providing an enormous improvement in the land, which would otherwise suffer from want of improvement, in the future. If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury can satisfy me on these two points I shall feel inclined to accept his assurance, but unless I can get anything of that sort I shall vote for the Amendment.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Buxton)
Hon. Members are quite misled in thinking the Government is unsympathetic towards the motives which lie behind the speeches which have been made this afternoon. I only feel somewhat mystified and surprised that if hon. Members opposite have for so long felt the need of achieving these objects, we did not see a little more done by the late Government. But that is no concern of ours when we are considering what we ought to do. I sympathise in the highest degree with the objects mentioned in the Amendment because to my mind the method suggested is not one to which there is objection 2418 in principle, and it is a legitimate method of helping agriculture, and we want to do anything that is feasible in the direction indicated. However, the question before us at the moment is a rather narrow one. It is, whether a certain large proportion of the available money shall be hypothecated and rigidly devoted to agricultural aid. On that question of procedure, I support my hon. Friends behind me quite clearly and with conviction, because I think if anyone considers whether it would be feasible to rigidly allocate a certain large proportion to one kind of object, you would get into difficulties and you would not really promote the objects you have at heart.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to allocate any sum at all? He talks about a large sum. We have had no assurance that they will allocate any portion of it.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
Have any applications been made from any agricultural section of the community for an allocation of this sort, and are not the sums at the disposal of the Advisory Board solely there to be given either to agriculture or to industry?
§ Mr. BUXTON
I am glad the question has been asked. There have been applications made in connection with sugar beet. In regard to those particular applications, I understand progress is not being made because the money that was to be put up by the promoters has not so far been forthcoming, and the applications are hanging fire. I hope many others will fructify later on. If I am asked by the right hon. Gentleman whether I am in favour of hypothecating any particular sum to a particular object, I do not think that is a method which will commend itself to his financial experience. I can promise that the fullest consideration will be given to the agricultural interest, and it will be my business to see that it is, but we should not be asked to depart from recognised financial procedure. Some of the objects mentioned—co-operative storage facilities, depots, co-operative factories, and similar agricultural purposes—have already been indicated, particularly in connection with the scheme 2419 unfolded the other day, which has been alluded to as the £200,000 scheme. Applications for that kind of purpose are already being received, and I hope very shortly to announce the names of the Advisory Committee which will control the treatment of those applications. There is no question that if practical business schemes are brought before the Advisory Committee they will have at least equal favour in the eyes of the Committee, and it will be a special instruction to the Committee that they shall pay the fullest attention to schemes with an agricultural object which are brought before them in future. I am rather surprised that, in regard to the past, for which we are not responsible, there does not appear to have been any great attention given to agricultural objects in connection with the large amount of money which has already been dealt with.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BUXTON
They certainly will have the advice of agricultural experts, though I believe the Committee is a very small one, and interests are not specially represented on it, but certainly they will have expert agricultural advice. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) asked me whether under the scheme we have in view it is anticipated that we shall promote methods of dealing with the milk combine. A good deal has been done already in the direction of creameries without State help, and I trust under the £200,000 scheme, and perhaps in the case of larger undertakings under the Trade Facilities Act, there will be very many enterprises which will deal with the milk question. In my view, beet is not merely incidental to the scheme of getting legitimate help for agriculture. It is of first-class importance in the future reform and resuscitation of rotation farming. The question of drainage was raised. I should like to say what has been done on that. £250,000 was allotted to drainage schemes before the Government came in. We have obtained sanction to add £60,000 for those schemes. This year that will be carried on to a later date than has hitherto been the practice, and the money will allow preparation for an early start on these 2420 schemes, which are part of the policy, in the autumn in case there should be need.
§ Mr. SHORT
Are we to understand that these amounts to which the right hon. Gentleman refers have been granted under the Trade Facilities Act?
§ Mr. BUXTON
No, not under the Trade Facilities Act. I was asked what help and what sympathy had the Government shown towards drainage schemes. That is what we have done. I have not the slightest doubt that when schemes are brought before the Treasury, and I hope in many cases before the Ministry of Agriculture, I shall have an opportunity of expressing an opinion and taking them before the Treasury, and I am certain that my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will treat them with extreme sympathy. It is only a question of the strict allocation of this sum of money, and I hope that having regard to what I have said as to the plans of the Government, and our desire to use the funds under this Act as far as we can for the promotion of agricultural aims, the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Major DUDGEON
I realise that the agricultural community are suffering very severely from the starvation of capital. Many tenant farmers have had to sink all their capital in purchasing their holdings and, therefore, there is not sufficient money going to promote and to organise the industry as it should be organised today. In the constituency which I have the honour to represent, a large amount of money has been expended by farmere in setting up co-operative milk depote since the conclusion of the War. I believe that something like £100,000 have been expended by these farmers. The pressing difficulty of farmers in this particular district is that of transport. We want to extend our transport in a very scattered rural district. A system of light railways would be of tremendous assistance, and would allow us to get the fullest benefit from the co-operative milk depots that have been set up.
There is one point in the reply of the Minister of Agriculture which is not satisfactory and that is that agriculture is not to have a direct representative on the Advisory Committee. Agriculture is a very special industry and also a very complex and a very great industry, and it is essential that we should have a 2421 practical agriculturist on the Committee, who would be able to give expert and practical advice to the Committee on any scheme that was brought forward dealing with agriculture. We cannot pull the agricultural industry through unless we have a large extension of credit facilities and of capital generally, and it is only by ear-marking a certain sum for this, the greatest and most truly basic, industry in the country, under this particular Bill, that agriculture will get anything like a fair share. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.
§ Mr. J. JONES
As representing one of the greatest agricultural constituencies in the country, I intervene in this Debate. The farmers in my constituency produce a plentiful supply of empty condensed milk tins, and a very large proportion of unemployed. Contained within its borders are all conditions of men who have not yet been subsidised. I congratulate our agricultural Friends upon their pertinacity and their principle virtue. Ever since I have had a seat in this House I have heard the Members for agricultural constituencies demanding their pound of flesh. While religiously demanding all that they want to get, not by gentlemen from Jerusalem but by Nabobs—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must keep to the subject, which prescribes guarantees for a certain specific purpose.
§ Mr. JONES
I am trying to do that as far as I am able. I was only trying to introduce myself. As far as I understand the Amendment, it is the proposition that special facilities should be given to agriculture, and I want to ask why other people, as well as agriculturists, should not be helped. I desire that agriculturists should be helped; nobody desires it more than I do, because I am the son of an agricultural worker in Ireland. I want to see agriculture helped, but I want to know who is going to get the benefit of the help given to agriculture. You are going to make light railways. Who is going to benefit? Who is going to benefit by the increase in the value of the land after you have made the light railways? [HON. MEMBERS: "Everybody!"] No. My Lord Tom Noddy or Sir Dumfunk Mcgregor. I have been surprised to listen to old land- 2422 taxers and some land-nationalisers talking about the Government subsidising private ownership of land, because that is what it really means. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes. We in Silvertown, industrial workers, are to be taxed in order to find the money to add anything from five to twenty-five per cent. to the value of the landlord's land in the rural districts. We fight it and you hon. Gentlemen support it. I am prepared to give every facility to agriculture, provided the people get the benefit. Let us organise agriculture on co-operative and national lines. Let us get the land that belongs to the people, and then we will do all we can to help in the development of the land.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite consistent. They talk about a monopoly of the milk supply, and they have been milking us all the time. If we are to have a real milk supply, let us have a proper supply under municipalised and national control, with proper examination of the milk. All that hon. Members opposite say is, "Let us have your money, and you will not get your milk." In the East End of London we have had bacteriological examination, and 78 per cent. of the milk we receive in our district has been proved to be impure. It comes from the people whom hon. Members opposite support. It comes from the Conservative farmer.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon Member must keep to the subject of the Amendment, which is that a certain sum out of these credits should be allocated to specific purposes.
§ Mr. BECKER
On a point of privilege, may I ask the hon. Member what he meant when he referred to the Prudential. Is it a slur on my character what he said in regard to the Prudential Assurance Company? I do not wish to see his statement published in the OFFICIAL REPORT without my disclaimer. I have nothing to do with the Prudential Assurance Company.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not pursue this subject. He must get back to the subject of the Amendment.
§ Mr. JONES
I will get back to my original subject—milk. That is what I first began on. The principle of the Amendment is that one particular industry must be singled out for special treatment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes. I can mention numbers of industries in a worse condition than agriculture. Take the percentage of unemployment read out yesterday by the Minister of Labour, and you will find that agriculture is not so bad as other great industries. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about wages?"] What are wages? Wages are only worth what they will purchase. I can tell the Committee that in the East End of London there are men working in most important industries who are relatively worse off than the agricultural labourer who happens to be working. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I can prove it. What about the dock labourers who only average two days a week and have to pay a rent of 15s. a week?
I do not want to see any man out of work, whether he be an agricultural labourer or a dock labourer, but I object to one particular party in this House trying to make agriculture their special plea and forgetting all the other workers who do not come within that category. I am prepared to support the Amendment in principle, but I want equal treatment all round. I object to hon. Members pleading for special trades. I can plead for a special trade and can prove a good case. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did not you put an Amendment down?"] What is the good of my putting an Amendment down. I could get no right hon. Gentleman to support me. All I want—and I am speaking as a common ordinary person who is not hoping to go to Buckingham Palace in knee breeches—is to see equal treatment all round, and if we are going to subsidise agriculture we must also subsidise the dock labourers and the workers who have to struggle so hard for a living.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. ALLEN
I do not profess to know much about agriculture, but from the speeches to which I have listened in this House I do not think that it is a disqualification to speak on subjects about which one does not know anything. One gets a good deal of information from this House and its precincts, and I had the opportunity lately, and last year, of learning a good deal about the money that is given by the Treasury from year to year for the purpose of developing agriculture in one way or another. I happen to be a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and only yesterday we had the privilege of studying some of the figures in connection with the expenditure on agriculture. I mention this merely to enable the Committee to realise that, after all, there is some money being spent by the Treasury on agriculture. From the speeches to which we have listened this afternoon, one would almost think that neither this nor any other Government had ever done anything for agriculture, and yet in the Paper which is given to us for instruction I suppose that three-fourths of the items are concerned with expenditure by the Treasury on subjects in which agriculture is directly interested.
It is well that the Committee should understand that a great deal of money is given from time to time for the purpose of helping agriculture and kindred subjects. I may mention a few of them. For instance, under the heading, "Seed Testing Station," there was an issue last year from the Treasury of over £21,000, and the loss on that particular establishment for 1921–22 was no less than £19,000. Then for a cattle testing station there was an issue of £25,000, with a loss of about £16,000. Then there is a rat bait factory with the amount £2,881. I suppose that it is for killing rats on farms, but though there was a loss of money by the Government, perhaps there was a gain of money in some other way. Then there is a chalk grinding factory, and a lactose factory with an issue of £39,000 by the Treasury.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I was about to call the hon. Member to order. 2425 This is merely an Amendment to allocate part of the guarantees under the Trade Facilities Act to agriculture, and has nothing to do with Government factories.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
When there is so much grumbling and grasping on the part of agriculturists and so much beseeching the Treasury to grant millions of money for agricultural purposes, I submit that I am entitled to show that the Government are doing something, and have been doing something for agriculture during the last few years. It is not that I am opposed to helping agriculture, but I belong to a part of the country that is contributing equally with other parts of the country in taxes to the Imperial Exchequer, and I want to know why there is all this demand for money for this one particular purpose. I could name many subjects for which we might demand money from the Government, and perhaps we need, it very much more than agriculture. I want to see agriculture prosper and to see the farm labourer do better than ever before. It is for the good of the community that agriculture should be prosperous, but when hon. Members make this demand for agriculture, and state that no money is spent on it, then I think that I am entitled to show that a great deal of money is being spent in that direction. However, I had better not hurt the feelings of hon. Members more than I have done in showing that the Government is already spending a great deal of money on agriculture. This Amendment says that thereshall be allocated exclusively to capita undertakings in agricultural districts"—and then it goes on to mention various subjects, and it adds,and such other agricultural purposes as shall be determined.I want to make a practical suggestion with regard to agriculture, and I shall be glad if the Government will give it attention. It comes particularly under the heading of farming and farming industry. It is not in connection with co-operative factories and things like that, but under the heading "such other purposes." The Government has in its possession the means whereby it can assist the farmer to a very great extent. I am surprised that in the course of Debates, more particularly on matters on which farmers are interested—and there are many representatives of the farming interests in 2426 this House—this subject has not been taken up before now. I refer to the possibility which arises from the increased use of phosphates, which are available for the farmer if he can but secure Government assistance. I refer to the most extraordinary deposits of phosphates which the world has ever known, in the Nauru Islands. [Laughter.] I do not know why hon. Members laugh.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman does not see the point of my reference. The Nauru Islands were discussed, but I am not going to discuss them. I wish to discuss the possibility of the farmers, with the assistance of the Government, getting hold of a manure that will assist agriculture.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Does the question of Nauru come under this Vote, or does it not rather arise on a later Amendment to a further Clause?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The question of Nauru is not in order, but, as I understand, the hon. Member is suggesting that something should be done in this connection for the benefit of agriculture.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
As a member of the Committee on Public Accounts, may I ask my hon. Friend whether it would not be better for him to avoid any comment on the Report which we have now actually under consideration?
§ Sir W. ALLEN
Then my right hon. Friend did not appreciate that I was not dealing with the Report of the Committee, but was merely mentioning the fact that certain money was expended. I think that I am entitled to give my advice in this matter in which the farmer has the possibility of getting something cheaper than he is getting it at the present moment. The Government has that in its control. There is a certain sum allocated for tonnage which the Government can forego. It can bring in hundreds of thousands of tons of this particular phosphate and give it to the farmers as cheaply as possible, and it will assist them beyond anything which 2427 you can do by means of suggestion in this Amendment. Land drainage is all very well, but there is plenty of land in this country thoroughly well drained, and farmers only want facilities to get these manures to their doors. Have light railways by all means, so that farmers can get cheap transport, but what is the good of light railways if you have nothing to carry on them? You might have the produce of your farm, but to have that produce as it ought to be the farms should be cultivated. The Government has an opportunity that no other Government, except those of Australia and New Zealand, has at the moment of taking advantage of that manure. That is a way by which farmers can be directly helped but nothing has been done. No farmers' representative in this House has mentioned the subject. I would like the Secretary to the Treasury to get into touch with the Secretary to the Colonies, and see what can be done to help the farmer in this way. I know that something can be done. I know that farmers of this country have had meetings on this subject, but simply because the Government have not moved the matter has not been pursued.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
Does not this Amendment relate to capital undertakings in agricultural districts and the development of agriculture in Britain? It has nothing to do with the farmer as a farmer but with the condition of agriculture in this country.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is wandering very wide of the subject of the Amendment. He must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
I thought that "such other agricultural purposes as shall be determined" were covered by my remarks.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must bear in mind that that is limited by the words "capital undertaking." He must keep his remarks within these words.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
To me it is an extraordinary thing if the Government cannot, by a capital undertaking, assist the farmer. I would say that a capital undertaking means a contribution by the Government.
§ Mr. P. HARRIS
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that this is a Bill to authorise the Treasury to contribute towards interest, towards certain loans?
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
This Clause deals with the guarantees under the Trade Facilities Act, and the particular Amendment is designed to allocate a certain part of those guarantees for certain capital undertakings.
§ Sir FREDRIC WISE
On a point of Order. Surely you raise the capital on the particular guarantee? You get the guarantee of particular interest and the capital is raised?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must keep within reasonable limits of the special purposes mentioned in the Amendment.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
I should have thought that the supply of manure to farmers by Government capital came within the limits of the Amendment. However, I have made the point that I wanted to make, and I only hope the Treasury and the Colonial Office will put their heads together and assist the farmers in this particular undertaking. It is for the good of everybody that the farmer should be successful, and I hope that some good will come of the suggestion I have made.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I intervene in order to make a brief appeal to hon. Members in all parts of the House. May I remind the Committee of the position in which this legislation stands? The Act expired in the middle of November last, and although it is true that the Advisory Committee continues its work in advising on these guarantees, still I think the whole House will see that substantial difficulties will arise unless we can get this Measure without much delay. I am encouraged to make an appeal on that ground because, apart from certain minor differences of opinion about specific parts of the proposal, there is no substantial difference of opinion regarding this scheme as a whole. The Trade Facilities Act is very largely an agreed Measure. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is agreed in that it has come down to us from previous Governments, and practically all hon. Members have supported it in some shape or form. A large part 2429 of the discussion on this Amendment has turned on the simple request to set aside for the purposes of agriculture some of the £22,000,000 which will be available. I have pointed out already that to introduce such segregation into the general scheme of Trade Facilities is foreign to the whole purpose and object of this legislation, and, in fact, if you did it at this stage, comparatively late in the day, you would introduce an administrative difficulty of a very substantial kind.
Having gone through all the facts of the situation, and with the utmost sympathy with the Amendment, I am satisfied that the Amendment in practice will defeat the object of its promoters. I want to get rid of the slightest charge of being unsympathetic in this question. Certain questions have been addressed to me to-day by the right hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) and the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). As regards the Advisory Committee, the House knows that it consists of three men who are experts in matters of finance. I am afraid that there is a good deal of misunderstanding as to the purpost and the duty of the Advisory Committee. Strictly speaking, if you tried to appoint to this Committee representatives of agriculture or shipbuilding or any other department of industry, you would depart at once from the whole object of having an Advisory Committee of this kind. The whole object is to get an Advisory Committee which will advise you, with all the experience of its members, as to the financial security of a scheme. If you put on representatives of agriculture or of shipbuilding, you are putting on the bench the people who are applying for the guarantees. Their place is in the witness-box to give evidence in support of their proposals; their place is not on the bench in order to decide whether the guarantees should be given or not.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
Is it in order, on this Amendment, to discuss the composition of the Advisory Committee?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member is making an appeal that we should get rid of this Amendment. The Committee is being told more specifically what the Amendment is for.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
A large part of the discussion this afternoon has turned upon the 2430 argument that agriculture has not a fair show under the Act, and part of the criticism which has been made is that that is due to the composition, in part at least, of the Advisory Committee. One hon. Member has said that it had no special knowledge of agricultural conditions. My reply is that it is not supposed to have a special knowledge of agricultural conditions. It is there, in the main, as a body to advise on a financial proposition. In an agricultural problem, as indeed in any other problem put before it, the Committee will ask the advice of competent people. The importance of this matter we all realise. The Advisory Committee will take the advice of competent people in agriculture, together with the advice of the Minister of Agriculture. I should think that a promise of that kind puts that part of the question beyond doubt. I was asked certain questions as to what is being done in other Departments, and I was invited to do what is a very difficult thing for any Financial Secretary to the Treasury to do, that is, to make a kind of promise in advance. I have no power to do so. But I make this promise in regard to the drainage schemes, light railways and reclamation—that I will give sympathetic consideration to any proposal which is made by the appropriate Departments in these matters.
I do not want to detain the House because we are already very late. Hon. Members know that there are substantial difficulties which are well beyond the scope of the Advisory Committee under this part of the Bill. May I make a further statement, in conclusion, in appealing to hon. Members not to press the Amendment? I will undertake to make further inquiry into this matter, and to make an additional statement at a later stage in the proceedings on this Bill, as to the steps that we will take to bring the guarantees to the notice of and the better use by the agricultural community. I agree entirely with the point that there is no desire to separate the unemployment which we are trying to meet in the industrial centres from the unemployment or difficulties in the agricultural areas. The two things are clearly linked in my mind. I think I have covered the ground so far traversed by hon. Members. Anybody who is familiar with the history of Trade Facilities legislation in this country will agree that it has never been part of the scheme to segregate 2431 any portion of the guarantee. The only case which we can possibly put to the British public and British trade in a proposal of this kind is the case which enables us to say that any industry, agriculture included, has perfectly free and even access to the Advisory Committee. Beyond that it would be very difficult to go. I hope the Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ Mr. MOND
After the more reassuring promise of the Financial Secretary and the Minister of Agriculture I do not feel that at this stage I could press the Amendment to a Division. At the same time I am not altogether satisfied that the Government are going to take the steps which I have suggested and which have been suggested from these benches—steps which we consider must be taken to assist agriculture. We will await the Report stage of the Bill with anxiety, and see what the Government will propose in a concrete form in place of the Amendment which I now beg to ask leave to withdraw.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
The speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is most unsatisfactory to those of us who oppose this Amendment root and branch as a wholly bad Amendment, based on a thoroughly unsound principle, and in detail as unsound as it is in principle. I am very sorry indeed to hear the sort of half-promise of the Financial Secretary. The object of this Amendment is, in the first instance, to ensure that very large sums of money will be spent from the trade facilities grant, whether those sums of money are really required or not. The history of the Trade Facilities Act shows conclusively that the greatest difficulty the Committee has is to find some object upon which to pledge the taxpayers' money. All these Amendments are of a similar type, asking for certain minimum guarantees to be given for certain purposes. They are all framed with the intention of ensuring that the taxpayers' credit shall be pledged in very large amount, whether the pledge is required or not.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an 2432 hon. Member who is opposed to an Amendment to object to its withdrawal?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It is in order for any hon. Member to object to the withdrawal of any Amendment.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
My reason for objecting to the withdrawal is that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has given a sort of half-promise—I do not say a pledge—that he will consider favourably the principle enunciated in this Amendment.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
There must be no misunderstanding. My hon. Friend must understand that I gave no promise as regards a segregation of the amount of the guarantee. I gave a promise to see what could be done previous to the Report stage regarding the claims of the agricultural community.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
In other words, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has given a pledge that he is going to use his influence with the Committee dealing with these problems in order to obtain grants for the benefit of agriculture. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO. no!"] I think I am within the recollection of the Committee in saying so. That is practically what his promise amounts to. When we come to the actual details of this Amendment, the objection to it is even more pronounced. For instance, the very first object mentioned is the provision of light railways for agricultural districts. Everybody knows that in these days it is perfectly ludicrous in a country like this, where distances are short, to build light railways at £10,000 to £20,000 per mile when motor transport is available at infinitely less cost. Again, so far as the reclamation of land is concerned, I am told by my agricultural friends that already there is a very large quantity of land in this country which is not properly farmed. It seems absurd, in these circumstances to spend large sums of money in adding to the area of culturable land when the land already available is not being properly laboured. As regards the question of providing credits for co-operative factories, and for co-operative means of transporting agricultural products and putting them on sale, I am also informed by my agricultural friends, who have had some little experience in this matter, that the chief difficulty in 2433 co-operative factories in agricultural constituencies is—
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. Clynes)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 134.2435
|Division No. 22.]||AYES.||[6.48 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Harbord, Arthur||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Maxton, James|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Harney, E. A.||Middleton, G.|
|Alstead, R.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Millar, J. D.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Mills, J. E.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mond, H.|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Montague, Frederick|
|Baker, W. J.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Barnes, A.||Haycock, A. W.||Morse, W. E.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hayday, Arthur||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Muir, John W.|
|Black, J. W.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Murray, Robert|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Murrell, Frank|
|Bonwick, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfield)||Nichol, Robert|
|Briant, Frank||Hillary, A. E.||Nixon, H.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, G. H.||Oliver, George Harold|
|Bromfield, William||Hobhouse, A. L.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||O'Neill, John Joseph|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hodges, Frank||Paling, W.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Palmer, E. T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hogge, James Myles||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Buckie, J.||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hudson, J. H.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Isaacs, G. A.||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Potts, John S.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jewson, Dorothea||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Climie, R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Raffan, P. W.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Raffety, F. W.|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rathbone, Hugh R.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Crittall, V. G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Keens, T.||Ritson, J.|
|Dickson, T.||Kennedy, T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Duckworth, John||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Robertson, T. A.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
|Dukes, C.||Lansbury, George||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Duncan, C.||Laverack, F. J.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Law, A.||Royle, C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Lawson, John James||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Egan, W. H.||Leach, W.||Scurr, John|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lee, F.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Lessing, E.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)|
|Falconer, J.||Lindley, F. W.||Sexton, James|
|Finney, V. H.||Linfield, F. C.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Foot, Isaac||Livingstone, A. M.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Franklin, L. B.||Loverseed, J. F.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lowth, T.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lunn, William||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||McCrae, Sir George||Simpson, J. Hope|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Gillett, George M.||M'Entee, V. L.||Smillie, Robert|
|Gosling, Harry||Macfadyen, E.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Mackinder, W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Snell, Harry|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Spence, R.|
|GreeNall, T.||Maden, H.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||March, S.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Groves, T.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Stephen, Campbell|
|Grundy, T. W.||Marley, James||Stewart, J. (St Rollox)|
|Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Varley, Frank B.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Sullivan, J.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Sunlight, J.||Vivian, H.||Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B. (Kennington)|
|Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Wallhead, Richard C.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Tattersall, J. L.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)||Windsor, Walter|
|Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Warne, G. H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Thornton, Maxwell R.||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.||Wright, W.|
|Thurtle, E.||Weir, L. M.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Toole, J.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Tout, W. J.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Whiteley, W.||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Turner-Samuels, M.||WigNall, James|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||PowNall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Raine, W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rankin, James S.|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rawilnson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hartington, Marquess of||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Remer, J. R.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Becker, Harry||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Ropner, Major L.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Burman, J. B.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jephcott, A. R.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stanley, Lord|
|Clayton, G. C.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lamb, J. Q.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cope, Major William||Lane-Fox, George R.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lorimer, H. D.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||MacDonald, R.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Tichfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Waddington, R.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Ward, Lt.-Col A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Meller, R. J.||Wells, S. R.|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Ferguson, H.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Perring, William George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Philipson, Mabel||Viscount Ednam and Major Colfox.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pielou, D. P.|
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put accordingly, and negatived.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. FRANKLIN
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordssubject to the proviso that at least seven million five hundred thousand pounds of the aggregate capital amount of the loans to be guaranteed shall be made available for the guarantee of loans not exceeding ten thousand pounds each.My proposal is that some further and greater consideration should be given to
2436 the smaller man. In reply to a question I put the other day, I was informed that the number of guarantees of £10,000 and under that had been given during the whole period for which this Act has been in force was four. A subsequent question was put asking whether it was not the practice of the Committee to welcome, as far as they possibly could, these small applications for guarantees. I had myself to dig up the information, which I was forced to purchase in the Cellar of this House, instead of being supplied it 2437 by the Front Bench. I found that these four cases consisted of one of about £4,500, another of £4,700, a third of £10,000, and a fourth of £6,500, a total altogether of about £26,000. It means, when you consider the £50,000,000 at the disposal of the Committee, something like £2,000 given to large undertakings fox each £1 given to the smaller men. That is not right or fair. The credit of the country belongs to us all. The other night it was put to me that I was only doing this for vote catching. I do want to catch votes, but votes in this House sympathetic to the proposition I am putting forward and sympathetic to the principles for which I stand.
The other night we had a most interesting speech from a Member from Scotland who had been carrying on his business during the time he was a representative in this House, and was going back that night to his constituency. I carry on my business every day up to a certain point, because I believe that by keeping in contact with the City and City people I am able to gather opinions there and place them at the disposal of the House. I make no accusation at all against the Advisory Committee, but one of the criticisms that was made upon the Amendment that I am now proposing was that you could not expect an advisory committee of voluntary workers, experts though they might be, to go into this very large number of applications which would be made if you once established and approved of the principle that you should do something for the small man. It was only the other day that we were discussing the question of the Bank Line, a proposition that supplied to the city of Glasgow work to the extent of £1,800,000, about 80 times the amount given to the smaller men all over the country. We have learned a good deal of the Scottish language here, and a good deal of Scottish geography. I put it to the House that there are other villages besides Glasgow, and that those villages ought to have some consideration and that we ought to strive to help to build up the small trades. I am sorry that one of the small trades where a loss was made was the brick-making industry. I had hoped that we might be able to do something for that small trade, which is generally run by a father and his son. Before the War they were able to supply 2438 us with bricks and help forward the housing problem in the cheapest possible way. One must remember that if help is given all over the country—I only take this as an instance—we will save large costs of transport from place to place, and we shall be able to do something to get the cost of housing somewhere near the price the Government think would be desirable.
There are other small industries which could be helped. In some districts you have the small castings carried on by the smaller men. A little help and capital would be extremely valuable to them. If we were able to substitute something for the bankers and the insurance companies who did give large assistance to what I call the private builder, or, what some people might call the speculative builder, undertaking a joint bond for the houses he produced, we should, I think, do something also in the region of supplying the much needed houses. I will not go into detail to that extent, but, like every true Liberal, when I criticise and when I propose an Amendment I want to propose it in a constructive way. I do not want captiously to criticise these trade facilities. We all know an S.O.S. was sent out by the Exports Credits Committee, and by the Committee on trade facilities to show that the people of this country were not taking sufficient advantage of the loans that would be guaranteed, and I want to see whether we cannot suggest some means by which it can be brought to the notice of people that the objections such as they make can be swept away so that we may have a large application for these smaller grants to enable the smaller organisations to be kept in being, building up again from the small beginnings to those big and important businesses that now have no need for any help under the credits scheme.
I feel that firms like Andrew Weir and Harland and Wolff can get their money without going to the Trade Facilities Act; but there are small people who cannot, and there is this much to remember, that when people come to this pool, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) calls it, praying for help, they make it harder for other people and for the Government to raise the money. If it were possible to entrust the big banks with the distribution of these guarantees; if it were not necessary to 2439 drag people up to London; if it were not necessary to employ people who were not in touch with the district and who did not know, as some of the branch bank managers do intimately, the credit and character of those who come to them, we could, I think, do a good deal to obviate the grievances of the small men that they do not get their fair share and part of bank credit. I would venture to suggest that the Government should be prepared to guarantee half the loans made by the banks, that is to say, that, where a certain amount of money is asked for in the shape of a guarantee, the bank should make it in joint account with the Government, the Government guaranteeing their half and the bankers taking their risk with the other. That would take away a suspicion that the banker would simply land his bad debts upon the Government. When it came to a question of realising assets or repaying these guarantees, then the amounts received or the amounts repaid would be apportioned pari passu. Each would get his share. Sometimes people will open their hearts to their bankers but will not open their hearts to strangers whom they do not know. If it were made possible for the bankers to carry on this work in their own districts, surely it would not be an impossibility for a list of the advances as made to be produced for criticism by the Advisory Committee. It is done by every big bank. You see the list of those loans that are made. Any director who knows anything about it, and some of them do, can criticise those loans. Why should it not be done when the Government is making use of the credit of this country? Surely in the hive of industry it is not necessary to draw off the whole of the honey and give it to Glasgow and other large places? Let the honey remain in the hive.
§ Mr. FRANKLIN
Yes, you will get the wax. Another advantage is this, that this money, that would be advanced by the banks in joint account with the Government, would be drawn from another of those pools that would not be necessarily in opposition to the Government credit and would double the amount that the bankers could afford to advance. I appeal to the sympathy of the Financial Secretary of the Treasury—and we are 2440 told that he is full of sympathy. It may be easy to dole out in large amounts, but if the smaller amounts of credit that are so necessary were supplied to the smaller men, we might look upon the possibility of rebuilding the prosperity of this country, with Government assistance, in respect of a credit that belongs to us all.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
May I say that I consider this to be an Amendment that is needless, officious and mischievous, and I regret very much the action of the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Franklin) posing as the protector of the poor. In my opinion, it is mere vote-catching. Not only do I consider the Amendment needless, officious and ridiculous, but I consider the hon. Member's speech to be muddlesome on the top of it. He made two observations in a previous speech on this same Bill, and to-day he made the suggestion that applications under this Trade Facilities Bill should come through a branch banker. If he had studied the question and ascertained the facts, instead of rushing in where other angels fear to tread, he would have found that many, if not all, of the applications, at any rate, those which have come under my notice, have come to the authorities through the bankers. We can, therefore, cut away the very foundations upon which the hon. Member has built his desire to help the little men, to give them the additional help which they do not require, because they already possess it. It is already at their disposal. The Amendment says:subject to the proviso that at least seven million five hundred thousand pounds of the aggregate capital amount of the loans to be guaranteed shall be made available for the guarantee of loans not exceeding ten thousand pounds each.These millions are already available, as I expect the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will tell us, therefore the Amendment is needless. The hon. Member is posing as the protector of the poor in order that people in his constituency and in other constituencies may think he is the only man in the House who looks after the poor and the small man in this particular matter. On the previous occasion he talked about the little man. I happened to go yesterday down to the Export Credits Committee, and I looked through the accepted amounts that were on the agenda of that Committee. There 2441 were 11 cases accepted, eight of which were under £200, and six of those were under £100.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I was trying to point out how the hon. Member persistently muddled every argument he touched.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Samuel), whatever the other hon. Member may have done, must keep to the point himself.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
My point is this, that it is not right for the hon. Member for Central Hackney to say, as he did say, for I took down his words, "There should be fairer treatment all round." The implication is that the treatment has not been sufficiently fair all round. I am not going to ask him to withdraw that, because I do not suppose he would appreciate the argument, but when he comes down here and says there should be fairer treatment all round, I ask what right has he to say, in effect, that there has not been sufficiently fair treatment? It is a very wrong thing for him to say. If this Amendment be put into effect, it will mean that you will restrict to the small man, who already has available to himself every advantage possible to the big man under the scheme, provided his scheme is sound. Let the hon. Member produce a small man who has come along with a sound scheme and who has been turned down because he is a small man asking for facilities or accommodation of small amount.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I challenge the hon. Member to produce any scheme in which a small man has come with a small proposition which is good and sound and which has been turned down, if within the limits of the Act. I am certain that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will tell us there is no basis for a statement in a contrary sense. I will go further. Of what good is it for an hon. Member like the hon. Member for Central Hackney, 2442 who says he is a banker, to come here and stand up as a responsible Member of the House and let the world and the City know from him that there is something which is not satisfactory with these schemes, and to tell us that the little man has not been fairly treated? I think it is a most mischievous and unwarrantable statement to make, and it does a great deal of harm. It makes the little man, and the big man too, think that they do not get fair treatment. I myself have said here several times during the last few months that what we seek to do is to let the people of the country know that the two schemes which are under this Bill are in existence, so that people can come along with proper schemes and need have no fear that they will not receive treatment with the greatest secrecy, discretion, fairness and liberality, because the men who are trying to work the schemes are themselves bankers, supplemented by men like ourselves and men from the Chambers of Commerce. The hon. Member who poses as the protector of the poor and tells the public the little man is not helped fairly all round, is doing a great disservice to the country.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
No. I myself shall take great pleasure in going into the Lobby against the Amendment. I think it my duty, as one who has tried to do his best for one branch of this Bill, to say thus strongly what I feel about the Amendment, and I hope the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will speak equally strongly, so that there shall be no doubt as to the true position of the little man. I am sure that hon. Members on this side of the Committee will join with me in going into the Lobby against this mischievous Amendment.
§ Mr. ALSTEAD
Before the hon. Member concludes, may I just tell the Committee of a case that has come to my notice this very day? A man in a very large way of business in the fruit-growing industry in the county of Worcester approached the Advisory Committee with a scheme for the resuscitation of a disused brickyard. In the City of Worcester bricks are needed, but this scheme has been turned down by the Advisory Committee, and this is one instance of where a small man has undoubtedly been turned down.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
What is the security? That is the point. I dare say a proposal or scheme of that sort may have been put before the Advisory Committee. I do not know anything of this matter. Many schemes are put before the Committee no doubt. I am not a member of this Trade Facilities Committee, but I have seen many schemes exhaustively examined before the Export Credits Committee, of which I am a member. Similarly many schemes are put before the banks in a normal way of business, but the fact is that many schemes are not sound. No ground of complaint can lie against either Committee if a scheme is refused because it is not considered sound. If the hon. Member will produce the scheme, I will say, on behalf of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, before he replies, if I may so dare, that he will look into it. He will then be able to see whether it was sound, and whether it was turned down because it was put in by a little man or because it was not a scheme in which public money could be entrusted. The point is whether it was sound or not.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I have the greatest sympathy with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Franklin), but in response to my hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel), I want to assure the Committee at once that this is an Amendment which the Government could not entertain, and I think there are several arguments in support of our attitude. In the first place, the Committee will recall that the whole object of this legislation was to provide a guarantee for works involving capital expenditure which would provide employment, and also be of permanent productive value to this country. That is the general basis of the legislation, but during all the time that these Acts have been in existence, the Advisory Committee has kept a perfectly open door for all classes of applications. It is true that, reviewing the guarantees that so far have been given, they appear very largely to belong to the large undertakings, but I think that is because of the existing conditions of the time. I have already mentioned that this involves a method of capital expenditure. In existing conditions in this country, to a large extent—at all events, in many parts of the country—it is only the big concerns which can face 2444 capital expenditure on a comparatively large scale, and also in existing conditions it is very often only the big concerns which can put down or put up the kind of security which, in the interests of the taxpayers, the Advisory Committee under this legislation necessarily require.
Of itself, I think that argument would explain the allocation of a considerable portion of this guarantee to somewhat larger undertakings, but may I say, in the next place, that the effect of this Amendment is not substantially different from that of the previous Amendment, on which the Committee has just pronounced. My hon. Friend suggests that we should say that £7,500,000 should be devoted to capital undertakings of £10,000 or under. The argument which I used on the former occasion applies to this. Suppose, for example, under existing conditions—and it is very probable indeed—they do not come forward to the tune of anything like £7,500,000, you thereby automatically sterilise a portion of this newer guarantee and place it beyond the reach of other and larger undertakings which would wish to provide employment. That is not the object of the legislation, and I am sure it is not the object of my hon. Friend. But the last, and to my mind the conclusive, reply to the Amendment is this, that there is no discrimination—in point of fact, there could be no discrimination—against the smaller man. One hon. Member raised what was obviously a specific case. I cannot be violent and aggressive in discussing these matters, because, after all, they are cold matters of fact, but what would happen if I were drawn into the discussion of individual cases? The very first thing that happens is to advertise to this country that this individual has not got a guarantee, and that there is something against him. This is not the place to discuss individual cases, the full details of which are only known, and can only be known, to a confidential Advisory Committee, confidential, at all events, as regards the facts of the individual cases concerned. From every point of view, there is no case for this Amendment, and I ask my hon. Friend not to press it.
§ Mr. ALSTEAD
May I draw the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that we discussed one very large undertaking specifically in regard to the Sudan?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The short reply to that is that the Sudan Guarantee, no doubt, is a great issue, but it has, in reality, nothing to do with Trade Facilities at all.
§ Mr. PERCY HARRIS
I quite agree with the Financial Secretary that it is undesirable to single out certain firms and advertise them as not being successful traders. Obviously, if a firm were advertised to the world as having been refused trade facilities, it would injure their credit. I was sorry the Financial Secretary was so unsympathetic towards the very reasonable Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Franklin). He stated his case most moderately, and his reasons, I venture to suggest, were most sound and in striking contrast to the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel), who described the speech of my hon. Friend as officious, ridiculous and mischievous. I think the hon. Member was rather officious in intervening between my hon. Friend and the Financial Secretary, who was quite able to look after himself. I think there, is a very strong case, and a very strong feeling, in the country that the advantage of these various Acts goes largely to big railway companies and big industries which are quite able to raise the money in the open market, and whose financial position is so strong that they can always get their money underwritten, and the public are quite willing and ready to invest in their undertakings. All that has happened with these big concerns is that they have been saved a half per cent. I very much question whether these trade facilities, as at present administered, have produced any work at all. Most of these enterprises would have been started anyhow. It is the new businesses that are finding it very difficult at the present time to get started.
The hon. Member for Central Hackney suggested starting brickfields and cement industries. I have the case of a company—I will not mention the name—that actually did put forward a very sound proposition to develop the cement industry, which, at present in this country, is almost a monopoly. One of the difficulties in building houses at the present time is the high cost of cement, because local authorities are not allowed to import foreign cement. I happen to represent an East London constituency, 2446 and many of the industries there are working full-time. Many of the companies manufacturing furniture are fully occupied. They have as many men employed as their plant and buildings will allow, but, unfortunately, the cabinet-making industry is very badly organised, and very great difficulty is found in getting the necessary trade facilities to extend plant and buildings to develop output. There is a practical example of finding work for the unemployed, because there is no industry in the country that requires more labour for its output than the furniture industry. A great number of carpenters could be easily absorbed in the cabinet industry, and a great number of cabinet-makers are out of work because of the difficulty of employers in getting the necessary credit to buy the timber required, owing to the very high cost of wood, and the high cost of borrowing money in small industries.
I am not going to say that my hon. Friend should necessarily press this Amendment to a Division, but I think it would be a very sound thing for the Financial Secretary, on behalf of the Government, to accept the principle that these facilities ought not to go to help old companies that can get plenty of credit, and very often have ample capital, but should go rather to new firms to enable them to get going, and to stimulate new industries, rather than old ones. I suggest they should Lake a certain amount of risk. What is wanted at the present time is to give a fillip to the small man, to assist new industry, to try to get new ideas, new machinery, new inventions and new methods into some of our old trades, which had a rude shock owing to trade depression as a result of the War. We want to revive them. Many of these industries are badly organised, and have not much financial knowledge as to how to get the money from the ordinary banking sources. I should like to see under this Act far better paid organisation in industrial areas. We have the Employment Exchanges, for instance. They have knowledge of the men out of work and of what trades they belong to. The Employment Exchanges ought to be able to find in every area what is the cause of trade depression, why factories are working short time, and whether it is due to lack of capital. In many cases, it is due to lack of capital. Far more capital is re- 2447 quired now, owing to the increased price of products to run a factory. Wool has gone up to double the price it was before the War. The same with cotton and with timber. Many trades find all their capital occupied in carrying their necessary stock for trade purposes, and are unable either to extend their factories or put in fresh plant. All I would ask of the Financial Secretary is to use his great influence to change the bias of the Committee, to get them to look favourably upon small industries and small companies, rather than go on still further strengthening combines, and assisting big companies to get bigger and bigger, and, very likely, sooner or later squeeze out the small people.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
As a rule, I find myself so much in agreement with the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel), and have so much admiration for the arguments he puts forward, that it is with some regret I cannot entirely follow him in his denunciation of this Amendment. In fact, I have a very great sympathy with the object which, I believe, the Proposer has in view. I feel very strongly that if something could be done for the small men in this country, it would be a very great help, indeed. My difficulty is, when I come to the practical application of an Amendment of this kind. We are faced, it seems to me, with two difficulties; in the first place, the actual practical difficulty of a Committee of this kind making grants to small people at all. That is a difficulty which must arise. It is true that it has been proposed by the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Franklin) that this should be done by means of the banks, but here, again, I am up against the difficulty that the banks themselves are not able to lend all the money they want; and, secondly, it would, in effect, only be, I am afraid, doubling the amount of money which the banks would lend on the terms which they would lend at the present moment, and that, I fear, would not attain the object the hon. Member has in view. It is the practical difficulty of applying what he has in mind that hampers me. There is no doubt whatever that these very large firms and companies which have got grants to build ships and other things under the Trade Facilities Act, would have been, in many cases, per- 2448 fectly able to raise that money without any guarantee at all. I do not want to quote names, but it is manifest that any company whose name is well known throughout the City of London and throughout the country as a large holder of ships, is perfectly able, to raise money in the open market. It may be that with the backing of the Government they are able to raise money, let us say, at 5 per cent. instead of 6 or 7 per cent., and that may be a gain to the nation, if it means by doing so they have pressed on work, and thereby provided employment, which otherwise they would not have done. It may be a gain, but I very much doubt if a gain of that kind is worth considering a against the danger of applying State guarantees for that kind of loan.
On the other hand, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hackney that the small man is in a very great difficulty in this country at the present time. It is easy to say that he can go to the banks. It is equally possible, perhaps, to say he can go to the Trade Facilities Committee, but, in effect, let us consider whether he could really do either of these things. The bankers do not, and it is not their business, to lock up money for any long period of time. They cannot do it. They have to consider their depositors, and the claims made upon them. They ought not to take more than ordinary bankers' risks, and that certainly does not mean locking-up money for several years. The small man whom, I gather, my hon. Friend has in view, has probably never heard of the Trade Facilities Act in his life. It is perfectly true to say he could apply, but in practice he does not apply, and it is a difficulty that, I think, it is well should be drawn to the attention of the Committee, if by any chance there is any Amendment—which, frankly, I do not see at the present moment—by which they could meet this want, so that the small man, who is in a difficulty and cannot raise the money, should be assisted. It is the little man whom I am very anxious—and I think my hon. Friend will not accuse me of seeking votes—should be assisted, but I do say there are practical difficulties of applying it, and I do not think more can be done than draw attention to it. I think the object of my hon. Friend the Mover of the 2449 Amendment has probably been achieved by the Debate we have already had, and I agree with the Financial Secretary it would not be worth while to carry this very much further.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I was greatly impressed by the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Franklin), to which the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) made no answer. When the hon. Gentleman addresses the House, as a rule, he endeavours to convince the House by argument. When he resorts to abuse, violence, and vituperation he naturally creates a suspicion among Members accustomed to his use of argument that he has a very weak case indeed. I think the hon. Gentleman himself could not but be surprised when he found this afternoon he was listened to with less than the usual respect. After all my hon. Friend put forward a perfectly fair, moderate, and reasonable case. He drew attention to a matter which was obvious to anybody who had looked over the proceedings of this Committee. It was that the unsuccessful applicants were not those who represented the large undertakings, which, in most cases, were undertakings able to raise money without any Government guarantee at all. It has been a matter of some concern to hon. Members that the smaller undertakings have been conspicuous by their absence.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
That is true, but the implication that the smaller undertakings have not been sufficiently fairly dealt with is not true. They have been dealt with fairly. My point was that may they have not got sufficient help; but it does not follow that there was a lack of fair-play to the small men. Besides, too, if small men have not obtained guarantees it was simply because they have not applied.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think my hon. Friend is using the word "fair-play" in a double sense. You may say that the money has not been fairly allocated, but at the same time you may not suggest that there has been any bias or partiality on the part of the Committee. When, however, my hon. Friend talked about a fair allocation of the money he meant that it had not been distributed as it ought to have been, equally to the small 2450 as to the bigger men. The word "fair" or "fairly" is used entirely in that neutral sense, without any implication of partiality or any oblique motive on the part of members of the Committee. I repeat that the hon. Member's implication was entirely misplaced, and he did himself less than justice by addressing the Committee in the heated terms he used. The fact of the matter is—and it is regrettable—that the small people have not had their share as we should have liked them to have. The hon. Gentleman will not quarrel with that.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
It was suggested that the smaller men have not been fairly dealt with. That is not so. For example, on my own Committee yesterday out of 11 cases of accepted applications, eight were under £200, and six of those eight were for sums under £100.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am not dealing with the exporters at all. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend would have made no attack upon the Export Credits Committee in this matter. We are dealing simply and solely with the Trade Facilities Committee, and if you examine the records of that Committee you do not find anything corresponding to the hon. Member's experience in regard to this matter. The analogy is entirely inapplicable in this instance. But there is the general consideration that ought to be present to the minds of the Committee and to this Committee of the House in considering this matter. There is far too great a tendency to aggrandise the big men. Big Business has too large a share in all these things, and Big Business is crushing the small business out, and it is not a good thing from the point of view of the country as a whole. In these circumstances it should be the duty of a Committee of this kind which gives the guarantee of the State, when it finds the small man come to it, to look with a special benevolence upon his application. We do not find any evidence that the Trade Facilities Committee does that. Unfortunately we cannot criticise the Committee. It is an irresponsible one. It is a body that has no responsibility to this House. Individual cases cannot be discussed here. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would, I believe, refuse to discuss the action of the Committee in individual circumstances. It 2451 is an unfortunate organisation altogether. I do not like irresponsible committees or boards, and it is only owing to the peculiar circumstances of this particular scheme that it is allowed to go; but things cannot be wondered at when you think when you have an irresponsible body consisting, it may be, of eminent bankers and others of the same type—it cannot, I say, be expected that there should not be some doubt as to the transactions with the facts as they have been proved to be in relation to the comparative treatment of big business and the small man.
The object of this Amendment is not necessarily to fix a hard and fast limit to the amount to be given to the small man comparatively to the large man. It is to draw the attention of the Treasury to what has happened during the past few years, and to make an appeal to the Treasury to see that this proportion is not continued. We ask the hon. Gentleman to see, so far as possible, that encouragement is given to the smaller enterprises so that they may not be crushed out in this period of depression—that where you have an enterprising man, it may be with small capital, and he can put forward security, that this man, simply because he is a small man, should not be overlooked by this Committee but should have his chance. We believe that if this class of men are allowed to develop what projects they have in mind that as great a proportionate contribution will be made towards the relief of unemployment than by the larger business men.
§ Mr. FRANKLIN
I desire, in view of what has been said, to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed" and "No."]
Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL
I am rather surprised at some of the speeches I have heard this evening. It is quite a different proposition which the House is dealing with when the money belongs to the State to that, on the other hand, when you are dealing with money that belongs to yourself. I want to give these facilities to the big and to the small man. Take the question of this Amendment. It wishes to set out £7,500,000 under the Trade Facilities Act to be allocated for the purpose of loans not exceeding in each case £10,000. 2452 Suppose you cannot lend the money easily enough for the projects thrown out to-night. Take my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. P. Harris). I have had the pleasure of knowing him for a good many years, and I have always looked upon him as a man of good business acumen. He will pardon me when I say that I begin to wonder whether the opinion that I have had is correct or otherwise, because I would not have thought, in the ordinary course of events, that if anyone wanted to borrow money for any business undertaking he would have lent it unless he was satisfied that the money was secured. Suggestions have been thrown out that the advantages of this Act have been given to the larger, and not to the smaller man. We challenge that statement. I do not think anything of the sort has been done, and I would be no party to assist a policy of that description. Hon. Members have no right to give away money belonging to the State unless they are satisfied as to the security. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I am very glad it is agreed, because it is a very different suggestion that emanated from one of the hon. Members on the other side.
Sir F. HALL
I was wondering what was the matter! I am wondering whether we are losing all sense of proportion in order to advertise to the rest of the country that they should come along and claim money that belongs to the State in the manner they could not do under any circumstances with their own money. Take these large concerns of which we have heard. They have been borrowing huge amounts from the Treasury under the Trade Facilities Act. I am glad to say the State has lent it, because, as the Financial Secretary knows full well, without the money which has been lent to some of these concerns needful and necessary work would never have been carried out. I have not been interested in any concerns that have borrowed money from the State under the Trade Facilities Act; but there are big concerns—and I do not want to question them—who have had large amounts of money, which it is well known have been advanced by the State. What does it all mean? [HON. MEMBERS: 2453 "Agreed!"] If they had not borrowed the money work would not have been found, because it is only the big concerns that are able to utilise the labour, and by the exercise of brains—which, unfortunately, I do not always find prevailing amongst some of the hon. Members who are so ready to interrupt—do things with the money. I always think when there is a vast amount of interruption that those who have brought forward proposals are dissatisfied with the proposals they have brought forward. I hope the suggestion is not going out either to small or big men that the bulk of the Members of this House are prepared to lend the State's money unless the guarantee is sufficient. I wonder what would happen if hon. Members found on investigation, and if the papers showed, that such and such a concern had not been able to carry out its obligations and had been lent money under the Trade Facilities Act? I could quite understand hon. Members in all parts of the House
§ getting up and challenging the right of the Government—for whom I hold no brief—to lend money without a satisfactory guarantee. I hope some measure will be arranged which will be fair to the small men. I want no favouritism. If the hon. Member for Central Hackney was desirous of bringing this subject before the small men then he has attained that object. I cannot help thinking, with the knowledge I have of the hon. Gentleman opposite, that he will endorse the views put forward, and especially the views of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. P. Harris) in regard to not relaxing the care and attention which should be exercised by every Department of State.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 254; Noes, 114.2455
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[8.3 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Dunnico, H.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Egan, W. H.||Jewson, Dorothea|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||England, Lieut. Colonel A.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Alstead, R.||Finney, V. H.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Foot, Isaac||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Baker, W. J.||Franklin, L. B.||Jones, Henry Haydn, (Merioneth)|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barnes, A.||Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Batey, Joseph||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Black, J. W.||Gillett, George M.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Gosling, Harry||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)|
|Bonwick, A.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Kay, Sir R. Newbald|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kedward, R. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Keens, T.|
|Bromfield, William||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Kennedy, T.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||GreeNall, T.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Groves, T.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Buchanan, G.||Grundy, T. W.||Lansbury, George|
|Buckie, J.||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Laverack, F. J.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Law, A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hardie, George D.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)|
|Cape, Thomas||Harney, E. A.||Lawson, John James|
|Charleton, H. C.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Leach, W.|
|Clarke, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Lee, F.|
|Climie, R.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Lessing, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Lindley, F. W.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Linfield, F. C.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Livingstone, A. M.|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Haycock, A. W.||Loverseed, J. F.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Hayday, Arthur||Lowth, T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Lunn, William|
|Crittall, V. G.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||McCrae, Sir George|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Macfadyen, E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfield)||Mackinder, W.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hillary, A. E.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Dickson, T.||Hirst, G. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Dodds, S. R.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Maden, H.|
|Duckworth, John||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||March, S.|
|Dukes, C.||Hudson, J. H.||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Duncan, C.||Isaacs, G. A.||Marley, James|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Ritson, J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Maxton, James||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Middleton, G.||Robertson, T. A.||Thurtle, E.|
|Millar, J. D.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Mills, J. E.||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)||Toole, J.|
|Mond, H.||Royce, William Stapleton||Tout, W. J.|
|Montague, Frederick||Royle, C.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Morris, R. H.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.||Turner, Ben|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Scrymgeour, E.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Morse, W. E.||Scurr, John||Viant, S. P.|
|Moulton, Major Fletcher||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Vivian, H.|
|Muir, John W.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Murray, Robert||Sexton, James||Waish, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Murrell, Frank||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sherwood, George Henry||Warne, G. H.|
|Nichol, Robert||Shinwell, Emanuel||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Nixon, H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Oliver, George Harold||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Simpson, J. Hope||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.|
|Paling, W.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Palmer, E. T.||Sitch, Charles H.||Westwood, J.|
|Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan)||Smillie, Robert||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Whiteley, W.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||WigNall, James|
|Phillipps, Vivian||Snell, Harry||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Spence, R.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Potts, John S.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B. (Kennington)|
|Pringle, W. M. R.||Spero, Dr. G. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Purcell, A. A.||Spoor, B. G.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Raffan, P. W.||Stamford, T. W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Raffety, F. W.||Stephen, Campbell||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Rathbone, Hugh R.||Sullivan, J.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Raynes, W. R.||Sunlight, J.||Wright, W.|
|Rea, W. Russell||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Richards, R.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. T.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)||Griffiths.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Raine, W.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Romer, J. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Barnettm Major Richard W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Becker, Harry||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hiffe, Sir Edward M.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Jackson, Lieut. Colonel Hon. F. S.||Somerville, A A. (Windsor)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthberl||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanley, Lord|
|Burman, J. B.||Johnson, Sir L. (Waithamstow, E.)||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Cassels, J. D.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Lorimer, H. D.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||MacDonald, R.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Waddington, R.|
|Cope, Major William||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Ward, LI.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Meller, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wells, S. R.|
|Deans, Richard Storry||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wragg, Herbert|
|Ferguson, H.||Penny, Frederick George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Perring, William George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Phillpson, Mabel||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Frederick Hall|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pielou, D. P.||and Mr. A. M. Samuels.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put accordingly, and negatived.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the wordssubject to the proviso that the Treasury shall require, in the case of guarantees in respect of loans raised by limited liability companies, an annual independent audit of the accounts during the period of the guarantee.This Amendment has for its object the provision of additional safeguards to the State. Opinions have been expressed in the earlier stages of this Bill with regard to the risks that are being run. The Financial Secretary, in dealing with those risks, referred to the powers of the Advisory Committee, and also indicated that there was an insurance fund of some sort to deal with those risks. I do not wish to say one word of criticism either with regard to the performances of the Advisory Committee or its capacity to deal with those questions in the future. But the risks and liabilities do not cease at the moment when those claims have been passed by the Advisory Committee. It is essential that there should be some further safeguards provided. It might be done in various ways.
§ It being a Quarter-past Eight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under STANDING ORDER No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.