Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £8,339,209, Lie granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which sill come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, or the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Labour and Subordinate Departments, including the Contributions to the Unemployment Fund, and Payments to Associations, Local Education Authorities, and others for administration under the Unemployment Insurance and Labour Exchanges Acts; Expenditure in connection with the Training of Demobilised Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men, and Nurses; Grants for Resettlement in Civil Life; and the Expenses of the Industrial court; also Expenses in connection with the International Labour Organisation (League)1 Nations), including a Grant-in-Aid.—"&—jNor.s: &£5,500,000has beenvoted on account.]
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move to reduce "the Vote by £100.
I have heard in this House for several years past Ministers of Labour declare themselves in optimistic terms of the ultimate solution of the problem of unemployment, and they have persuaded themselves that they could see some silver lining in the cloud. The figures of unemployment at this moment may not he quite as high as once they were, but the position is worse in kind. It is worse in degree, for the reason that the longer it lasts, the worse it must become in all its consequences and aspects. We are given to looking, as far as possible, on the bright side of things in this country, and in this House in particular. But it is when we approach this subject that our complacency almost entirely disappears. For the effect of unemployment cannot be estimated by just considering its personal results in the case of those who 2074 suffer. We must think of its effects in relation to housing, and to the consequent inability of a large number of the poorer classes to seek the better shelter which they ought to enjoy, for lack of means to provide it for them. We must think of it in relation to health problems, in relation to all that condition which we call "unrest," if not in relation to those occasional rumblings, of symptoms of tendencies to welcome revolution.
These, then, are all part of the general question of unemployment. We are consoled—indeed, we are fortified—by a condition, which, I think, will be universally admitted in this House, and that is the uniform respect for the law of the land on the part of the general mass of the working community, whether they are in work or not. They resignedly wait for improvement, and many great drafts have been made upon their patience. But neither their patience, nor the cause which demands it, can be regarded by any of us as conditions which can last indefinitely. They must come to an end. We had in the King's Speech, in the present Session of Parliament, a very definite declaration that unemployment would receive the constant attention of His Majesty's Ministers. The statement was:
The various schemes which have already been initiated for the relief of unemployment, including those relating to juvenile unemployment, will be examined with great care, and you will be asked to make provision for the continuance and extension of all such measures as are likely to alleviate the present distresses".Has this House been asked yet to consider these Measures, their extension and their continuance? Where are the Measures? What the the Measures I The Session is well advanced, and already it is burdened with the proposals put before it, which are likely to take up a very large part of our time. Are we to have an Autumn interval, in which the House will not be asked to do anything at all, or is the Autumn to be used for this question, already urgent? In short, I ask, why is it that so far nothing whatever has been submitted to the House in the way of Measures" likely to alleviate the present distresses "? Perhaps my right hon. Friend, in the course of the discussion, will give us exactly the figures representing the Measure of unemployment to-day, though, let. it be remembered, that there is a large number out of work, not included in the official returns at all. I 2075 have not before me exactly the figures, but I believe they are in the neighbourhood of 1,250,000, that number, representing, I think, roughly about 150,000 more than was the case when the Labour Government were in office about this time last year.
Many thought, and perhaps more said, that a change of Government would give us a stability and a confidence in commerce and industry which, assuredly, would greatly reduce this number. The Labour Government, having last year lived only half the time of the present Government, with neither the power nor the means to apply its principles on industrial questions, were met with repeated demands to settle this question. We have at least to ask ourselves two questions as to the fundamental causes of continued unemployment. Have our former customers lost permanently their power to take our goods, or have we lost the faculty to sell within their means to buy? If those questions must be answered in the affirmative—and I am disposed at this stage to go far in affirmative answers to them—then I say we must turn our attention more fully to our great internal resources and exhibit a greater courage—a courage on a far higher scale—in the application of those resources to the solution of this problem. Those great works of industrial, social, and economical construction so frequently discussed towards the end of the War and after its close have not been achieved. Those big tasks of development have not yet been attempted at all, and we are wasting and squandering possibilities of wealth, which might be created by work, by failing to use the resources to which T. refer. Any general observation of this kind is met with the question, "What will it cost to do it? "The answer is, "Look at what it now costs not to do it."
Let us consider the fatal consequences of not applying new principles and a totally new view to the treatment of this great problem. I recall, two or three years ago, when Sir Montague Barlow first announced the schemes of the Government of that day and gave statistics as to the probable number of workers who would he absorbed and kept more or less constantly in work by the application of the schemes then outlined. 2076 What a falling off there has been in practice! The Minister of Labour will admit that these schemes, so far as they have been applied at all, have not gone one-tenth of the way that was forecast at the time of the announcement to which refer. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer will expect me, later on, the say a few words on a recent statement of his as to one cause of high unemployment figures at this moment, but I should, like here to call him as a witness in support of the general proposal which I am submitting. Long after he had attained his full stature, long after he had come of age as a public man, the right hon. Gentleman dealt on occasion with industrial, social and economic questions, and expressed his faith in those days in the following words, which I take from book of his speeches:
There is a growing feeling, which share, against allowing those services which are in the nature of monopolies to pass into private hands. There is a steady determination, which I am convinced will become effective, to intercept all future unearned increment which may arise from increase it the speculative value of land. There will be an ever-widening area of municipal enterprise. I go further. I am of opinion that the State should increasingly assume the position of the reserve employer of labour.That is a faith which, if the right hon. Gentleman has deserted it, we stand be and urge upon the view and the consideration of the House to-day. I putting forward that view at that time the right hon. Gentleman added the hope that people would judge these proposals on their merits and not be scared from themjust because some old woman comes along and tells you they are Socialistic.I do not know how many "old women the right hon. Gentleman thinks hon. seats in this House to-day, but certain there are many who will repudiate hon. doctrine both in speech and by their vote in the Division Lobby.
I have already said I do not think the Government have used their resources I relation to those works of reconstruction about which so much has been said, no do I think the Government have done and that is possible and all that is with our means as t-o trade development. With our Dominions. The Dominions show very high percentage of trade value Anyone who examines the figures must struck with the worth, from the me 2077 standpoint of trade value, of Australia and Canada to this country, and I think we could make a fuller use of that great thing called credit—elusive, sometimes indefinable, but there as an immense national asset, which the nation could use to a. greater extent than it has yet done. It could thereby provide much cheaper money for the development of many great undertakings in the Dominions and it could, by a system of better transport facilities, do much more than has yet been attempted by this Government which has an enormous majority at its back—a majority which should be ready to give every support to undertakings of this kind.
While we say we should turn to our own people and link up trade with the Dominions as far and as fast as possible, we turn also to foreign countries and we firmly hold the view that there is one foreign country—namely, Russia, offering us great trading opportunities which we have neglected to the detriment of our own interests. Russia has six times the population of the whole of our Dominions put together—I mean our self-governing Dominions. Surely it is not beyond us to negotiate now with Russia on terms which would give us security for repayment and orders for our goods. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day alluding to conversations yet to be bold with trade representatives, expressed the hope that they would talk business and not politics when they met him. I think it is time that on this question of Russia we talked less of politics and more business. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear! "] In view of those cheers, I shall hear with the greatest pleasure anything said from the opposite side of the Committee by way of urging the Government to give effect to this aspiration and to develop trade between this country and Russia. This subject is also dealt with at length in the King's Speech, in which it was said that it was the desire of the Government that normal intercourse between the two countries should not be interrupted. Then we have the declaration that the trade agreement of 16th March, 1921, is all that is at present possible to do to foster mutual trade. I submit that, since that King's Speech was written, time has proven to us that the trade agreement of 1921 does not in any sense of the term do all that can be done 2078 to foster and develop trade between that country and this.
There are many of my hon. Friends and other Members of the House anxious to deal with these aspects of the question which I have only broached, and I proceed to another subject. The Prime Minister has not only appealed for a better spirit in which to face industrial and labour problems. He has said much to cultivate and develop that spirit, but whatever good has been accomplished by the Prime Minister has nearly been destroyed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I welcome these appeals for goodwill. They are, I am convinced, appeals which can be made quite consistently with adherence to one's convictions and principles as to how these problems are to be met, but we shall not assist the solution of any branch of this problem by offensive and inaccurate charges levelled against the general body of the workers. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer say? We can quote what he said, and we should like to know what he meant. He asked us to make sure that there was not growing up a general habit of learning how to qualify for unemployment benefit.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER(Mr. Churchill)
It should be "a certain habit." it has also been reported as "a general habit," hut the "Daily Herald" is quite correct.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I do not think the change in adjectives in any sense reduces the number of people against whom the charge was levelled, and perhaps as the Debate proceeds we shall have some qualification or some clear explanation of what was meant by the statement, even with the slight alteration which has been made. There is between us and hon. Members on the other side a considerable extent of common ground on many of the questions relating to unemployment. There is no disagreement about the pernicious effects of prolonged idleness upon the character and the disposition of thousands of the working class. There is, however, idleness in other quarters, net compulsory idleness, but that idleness which is claimed almost as a right and enjoyed as a privilege. That idleness is no less harmful in its social and moral consequences on the character of the 2079 people who enjoy it. In other words, Society pays for idleness morally and economically, whether that idleness is suffered by one class or enjoyed by another, and I say that the class which begs for work and strives to get it, in order to provide a living for itself should be free from charges of malingering or complaints of evasion of service. If there is any case of purposeful idleness and deliberate intention not to work, that idleness is balanced by an earnest and eager search for work on the part of the great mass who are doomed to unemployment. Why, there are in the newspapers recurring paragraphs giving accounts of grim and actual physical struggles among groups of workers who have been found literally fighting each other for the chance of getting first to a certain place where jobs were advertised. If the right hon. Gentleman believes there is a "general" or a "certain" disinclination on the part of workers to seek for work, let him advertise for five men to do any sort of general job at No. 11. Downing Street, and he will have 500, if not 5,000, men in that street at once. The view of the right hon. Gentleman, I am certain, will not be supported by any party, either present or past, attached to the Ministry of Labour. Only a few days ago the Minister of Labour had to refer to the general causes of the increase in the numbers of unemployed, but he gave no such explanation as to a cause as that given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said:On the whole, the general tendency of unemployment has been not to fall so quickly this year, and there has not been that improvement in trade that we hoped for. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th April, 1925; col. 151. Vol. 183.]He said that there were certain seasonal changes in the market and in trade accounting for changes in the figures. In short, for the first time in this House we have had a responsible representative spokesman of the Government place upon the shoulders of the workers themselves a large part of the blame for the conditions from which they are suffering. Let me go back to witnesses in the past. Dr. Macnamara, when at the Ministry of Labour, on the 9th February, 1922, said that the vast majority of the unemployed were quite honest men, and would prefer work to doles. On 5th 2080 March, 1923, referring to this question in this House, I made the following statement, which, as the OFFICIAL REPORT will show, was endorsed and cheered by both Sir Montague Barlow and Dr. Macnamara:We have been assured by Ministers of Labour that within their knowledge, in the main, the vast majority of the men affected by this problem of unemployment are men willing to work, seeking it eagerly, and trying to find it, day by day and hour by hour."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1923: col. 9S, Vol. 161.]And much more testimony of that kind could be adduced in flat contradiction of the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Even if there was any certain or general disposition of the kind referred to, one might well ask, What is the Ministry of Labour doing to deal with that disposition? I have had some personal experience arising from my administrative work in a trade union, of what are the difficulties placed in the way of unemployed workmen getting their pay. Stringent regulations are enforced by a large body of officials, and men are required to prove their title to insurance benefit before they can get it. During their period of benefit, their receipt of it is under constant review, and innumerable conditions must be fulfilled in order to receive and in order to continue to receive it. I could name the three outstanding conditions as these: If a man voluntarily leaves his work without just cause, without cause estimated to be just in the opinion of others—he has not to judge himself—he is disqualified from benefit; if he refuses suitable work which is offered to him, work deemed to be suitable in the judgment of others and not himself, he can be disqualified from benefit and if he fails to secure work and to go out to seek it he can have his benefit discontinued if, in the judgment of others again, he has failed to comply with that part of the regulations. I say that, in face of all these facts, the reproach which I have quoted ought not to have been levelled against a class as a class. They do not deserve it.
Indeed, these efforts to impose blame, to move, as it were. the blame from the shoulders of those who ought to carry the blame to the shoulders of the innocent, are becoming far too common, and before I sit down I shall trouble the Committee with just a few brief testimonies from very different quarters. There is the 2081 classic instance, of course, of the brick-setters. How we can manage, as the present Minister of Health says, to build more houses now than have ever been built in the history of this country, and at the same time make charges, as many of his colleagues do, against bricksetters for not building houses at all, is something which I shall leave to them to reconcile. I am not going to quote any working-class testimony. Sir Charles Ruthen, the Director-General of Housing, wrote some few months ago a letter in the "Times" on this question of the reputed malingering of the bricksetter. It was said that Sir Charles had declared himself in favour of the way in which bricks were laid in Holland as compared with this country, and he concluded his letter, in which he repudiated the statement, in these, words:I am not prepared to admit for a single moment that the Dutch workman produces a greater volume of output than the British workman, but would rather state definitely that the quality and quantity of work produced by the British workman in the building industry is equal, if not superior, to that of the workman in any other country".Sir Henry Thornton is very well-known in this country as a great captain of industry and railway manager, both on this side of the water and on the other, and, speaking recently in Canada, he said:I have bad considerable experience with labouring men on both sides of the Atlantic, perhaps more especially in England, and I have never yet had a trade union leader or a trade union play any other way than is fair.Lord Leverhulme, who has just passed away from us, knew workmen and employers very intimately, and I, therefore, want to put his testimony upon record. He was usually frank in dealing with the working-classes, and often he was equally blunt, as well as accurate, in dealing with his own class, and in his hook on the "Six-Hour Day" these words are to be found:Every increase in wages and shortening of hours has been resisted by business men as ft raid on their ability to meet competition and to make reasonable profits.To that he added:We have in the United Kingdom the finest type of workpeople in the human race —second to none in the whole world".I trouble the Committee with this evidence because we are assumed to be prejudiced, and I think what I have quoted 2082 from those quarters ought not to fall upon deaf ears. My last point is that of endeavouring to prove that this is a time when, least of all, the workers should be reproached or condemned for failing to do their duty, for they have made their sacrifices. Indeed, they represent the only class in this Kingdom who have been required in recent years to make any sacrifices at all in the interests of trade and industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh! "] I mean that sort of sacrifice which takes the form of having to forfeit something of which you are in real need. I do not mean something that you want, or that you can easily do without, but something which is a definite, physical necessity in the way of a life amenity or of a life requirement, and there has been no corresponding sacrifice of that kind made by the higher-paid gentlemen of England, by salaried servants in the enjoyment of remuneration which always enables them to save automatically, while at the same time maintaining themselves at whatever might be their accustomed level of living. It is on record that. about £600,000,000 a year have had to be forfeited in recent years by the wage-earning classes as their contribution to the maintenance and stability of British trade, and yet the returns compiled by the "Economist" and by other papers show that, in 1924, 1,411 industrial companies increased their profits by more than £8,000,000. The truth is that the ratio of profits to capital was higher last year than in any previous year since the trade slump began.
Let me put to the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, this fact, that, in spite of all these great and heavy reductions in wages, his Budget speech this year again showed that he is able, from estates and from great incomes, to draw a greater yield of Income Tax at this stage than ever, so that it is clearly upon record as a fact, proven by figures, that only the workers are making the material sacrifices in the interests of trade and commerce. Hon. Members will find in the papers of yesterday a report relating to the Fine Cotton Spinners and Doublers' Association, a report which showed a profit for the year ending 31st March, 1925, of—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I presume the right hon. Gentleman is using these things as part of an argument which will affect something which the Minister of Labour 2083 might do or should do. We are discussing the Ministry of Labour Vote.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Certainly, Mr. Hope. They are part of my argument, that the sacrifice of wages has not resulted in that improvement of trade which it was foretold would occur, and I have shown that it has become the Government's duty to turn to our own inner resources to deal with unemployment, and I am further showing the injustice of sacrifice when that sacrifice is imposed upon one class only. Now I have finished. I repeat, that the workers do not deserve the censure which they have received, but that, on the contrary, they are entitled, in addition to the meagre material help which is theirs, to the sympathy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the Government of the day, and, indeed, if that sympathy is to be given, it should be proved to be a reality by backing it up with a statesmanship which will remove the causes of the unemployment from which they are suffering.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have no wish to intervene in this Debate, nor have I the slightest intention of trespassing upon the attention of the Committee for more than a very few moments, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Plat ting (Mr. Clynes), who has just spoken, specifically referred to the episode or scene which took place in the House of Commons, I think, about a fortnight ago. He suggested, and, in fact, questioned me on the subject. I think, however, before the right hon. Gentleman and others indulge in these reproaches, that some word of regret or excuse is called for on the part of those concerned in the proceedings—the very regrettable and unreasonable proceedings—which took place on the occasion referred to. Supposing a Minister or a Member of Parliament makes a statement with which another part of the House does not agree, or regards as uncharitable or even offensive, there is not the slightest justification for the organised shouting down of the Minister. [Interruption.] I am only 2084 speaking because I have been desired to speak. It is not out of any desire on my part, or for the sake of speaking. I am replying to a request which was made to me that I should thoroughly justify what I said. Might I point out that if you cannot say unpalatable things on matters of public urgency and importance without such a scene, then Parliamentary Debate would be impossible. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has said many hard things of myself, but I have had to bear them in good part; and I should have thought that if anything that- I said was untrue, or palpably exaggerated, or unfair, what more could my oponents desire than that they should get that statement on record, when they could exhibit it, and show me as stultifying myself, and as having failed in good, taste and in fairness of mind? However, I leave that altogether. [Interruption.] I leave that matter altogether, because it is a matter in which my conduct was sustained by the Chair, and also by the opinion of the country.
What was the statement I made? Let us see what it was. I have not the slightest intention of picking a quarrel, but the hon. Member opposite continually interrupted me the other night. I think he was one of the ring-leaders in what were very improper, unreasonable, and silly proceedings. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh ! "] Nothing was further from my intention than picking a quarrel with hon. Members opposite. I have lived a long time in this House of Commons, anal I have always maintained pleasant relations with my political opponents as well as with my political friends. Is it likely that- a Chancellor of the Exchequer, with months of Budget discussion before him, is going out of his way merely to say something unpleasant or offensive to any import-ant group, or section, or party in the House? Nothing was further from my desire and intention. Nor in fact did I do so. What did I say? Let me read from the "Daily Herald":It was in the interest of the trade unionists who arc long-established contributors to this fund as well as to the employers and industries themselves that they should make sure that there was not growing up a certain habit of learning to qualify for unemployment benefit.That does not in the slightest degree reflect upon the great mass of trade 2085 unionists[Interruption.]Hon. Members have asked me to say something. It is at their invitation that I am giving an explanation of what I said. What I said was not any reflection upon the mass of the hardworking people who are, by the temporary trade dislocation, exposed to the miseries, sufferings, and anguish of unemployment; it was intended to draw attention to what I believe is the undoubted fact, that, as the system of unemployment benefit has been extended, individuals of other classes are beginning to take advantage of it in ways which were never foreseen—[Interruption]it must not be forgotten that I was the Minister responsible for the framing of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1909—taken advantage of in a way, I say, which was never foreseen by those who proposed the Act. I am not going into a laboured defence of the matter, but I have been innundated with information from all parts of the country on which I could very easily formulate a very considerable case. I do not propose, however, to do it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) was heard in perfect silence. I would ask hon. Members to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been invited to give an explanation, the same hearing as given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am not going to deal with the policy of the Government in this matter. That is going to be unfolded in this Debate by the Minister of Labour. I am certainly not going to intrude upon his province, unless a very much more formidable challenge is made to me on some future occasion. This, however, I would say: My reference to this topic in the Debate to which we, are referring was purely incidental and towards the close of a reply to a certain part of the criticisms on the Budget proposals. Moreover, my intentions were benevolent. They were not in the least hostile. I wished to point out, what undoubtedly is the very serious fact, that 11,000,000 of the working classes, men and women, who are employed in our industries are being charged 3d. a week more than the 2086 normal for this deficiency period. No one has spoken more plainly on this subject than the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). His remarks have been far more outspoken than anything I have said. I take it to be a very serious thing that this very heavy charge for which those who are in employment have got to pay—because they are not themselves getting anything out of the Insurance Fund it respect of it, but are merely assisting to bear this heavy burden of the deficiency. The employers are similarly paying an extra 4d. a week but the State is only paying &£13,000,000 out of the total sum. That is a heavy burden, but it is not in my opinion, so serious a burden as the 3d. a week from the wages of 11,000,000 people. Whilst I am bound to say that the fund ought to bear the cost if necessary relief of unemployment, we must be sure that everything is being done to bring it into a solvent condition. If necessary, it may be the duty of the Government, and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to see if it is not possible, by some further aid, to assist and accelerate the passing away of the deficiency period and so relieve all those who at present find this a heavy tax on their wages, in return for which they are not themselves laying up benefit, but are simply assisting to tide others over this very difficult period. That is all I wish to say on that point, and I have said all I mean to say as to the other night. I was not wishful to give offence of any sort or kind; and I am much obliged to hon. Gentlemen opposite for having allowed me to make this explanation.
§ 5.0 P.M
§ Mr. HARRIS
I had hoped that the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) would have tried in the course of his speech to find out what was the policy of the Government for the next 12 months. There is no real substantial difference as to the facts of the case. The fact shat there is this large mass of men anxious and willing to work and to get employment living on insurance pay is bad for the industry of the country and bad for themselves—bad for the country in every way. As I understand it, we see generally the result of six months in office of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the promises made by the Government, and expectations held out. I will not say expectations, for they were practically the same, 2087 and followed the same course, as those of the last three or four Governments. There is no difference except for some ingenious experiment in the way of Protection. What I want to impress now upon the Committee is the fallacy of relief schemes. In London we have had some very ambitious schemes think hon. Members will agree that the local authorities, arid everybody concerned, have co-operated and tried to encourage and stimulate organised relief works. Actually the London County Council has gone out of its way to encourage the construction of roads quite outside its area and province; and during the last few years no less than 100 miles of road has been constructed and added to the London roads in order to give relief to the unemployed. I happen to have been able to get the actual figures. I find that these roads—I am not saying they are not a good investment—have cost the Departments concerned no less a sum than £6,000,000, out of which the London rates contributed the very large sum of four and a-half million pounds. At no time during the construction of these roads have more than 7,000 men been employed. At the present time, I think the number is 1,686. Incidentally. that is a very inadequate return for the contribution out of the London rates, but it is ample proof that it is not by relief schemes, not by making new roads, making paths or laying out public playing-fields, all good things in themselves, that we are going to make any adequate contribution to solving the problem of unemployment.
The only other what I may call direct scheme of relief is to he found in the continuation of house construction. Throughout the whole country there is an ample opportunity to find work in house building for the unemployed. In London not only have we nine estates being developed, but during the last few months the London County Council have bought three more large estates upon which to build houses. This means not only direct employment in house construction but a large amount of work in constructing drains and sewers, laying gas-mains, and so on. Here, unfortunately, the Ministry of Labour has failed to give any assistance. We are held up in London, as is the case throughout the country, by the 2088 absence of the necessary skilled labour. I find at the present time that, although nine estates are being developed, only 640 bricklayers are being employed on house construction by the London County Council. I have inquired about it, and am informed that this number cannot be increased because not a single other man can be obtained. I would point out to the Minister of Labour that here is an avenue, above all others, where he can render assistance, because while only 640 bricklayers are being employed there is employment for 3,300 unskilled workmen, quite apart from carpenters, joiners, tilers and all other skilled craftsmen.
I have suggested that we might persuade local authorities to take this matter in hand, and I have had the natural and proper answer that this is a national question and that it can be solved only on national lines that if one authority starts to work out a scheme for providing the necessary skilled labour, the advantage would not go to that area because the men might be drawn away by private builders in other parts of the country. If the Government would recognise that this is not a matter of housing only, but is directly concerned with the whole question of employment, we could find here an important and valuable contribution to the question. This Government and the last Government have accepted a scheme for building subsidised houses over a period of years. Is it unreasonable to say to the building unions concerned, "You have agreed to men being specially trained in order to build subsidised houses. We will agree to give them permanent employment for a period of 15 years, and we will also encourage and allow the direct employment of labour "? If in this very simple, straightforward job of building houses of brick local authorities were to go in for direct employment, and be allowed train the necessary skilled labour, nor only would we get houses, but we should make a very big inroad into the whole unemployment problem. That is not dependent upon the state of trade, it is a self-contained industry, and it would give employment, not only to men directly concerned, but would set going a hundred and one other trades—cabinet makers, paper makers, the manufacturers of paint all the trades interconnected with building operations.
2089 That, in my view, is the most important thing the Minister of Labour has got to do in the next few months. He will have to find and train the necessary skilled labour from the great army of men unemployed in the building trade, and get an arrangement with the building unions and the master federations. The scheme of training apprentices is not really working. Not only is it not working, but even if it did work it would fail to provide the large number of men so badly required if we are to carry out the policy of the Government for housing. But, after all, even the building trade proposals are largely in the nature of relief for unemployment. My view is, and I believe anybody who gives any thought to the subject must agree, that the real remedy is to get our trade going, to get men back into their ordinary industrial occupations, into textiles, engineering, coal mining, and all the other trades that make up our national industrial organization.
I submit to the Minister that no one is more qualified than he is to grapple with this difficult question if he will have a little courage and more imagination. Both his training and his history have intimately associated him with the machinery of Employment Exchanges. They were set up, I believe, by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, under a Liberal Government, as a means of dealing with unemployment. They were the result of a great deal of scientific investigation, and we were led to believe that when great cycles of unemployment came along their machinery would provide the organisation for dealing with it. Unfortunately, that. machinery has been diverted from the business of finding employment to the ordinary banking business, Poor Law business, of distributing the money paid into the insurance fund.
On more than one occasion I have visited Employment Exchanges, and have seen the dismal queue of men lining up day after day in order to draw unemployment benefit. I have seen the machinery working, and I am going to say, what I think will be borne out by anybody who has watched it, that it is most unsatisfactory. They have long ceased to be Employment Exchanges, and what their work really amounts to is a. test of the genuineness of men seeking employment. Even there they do not 2090 really work satisfactorily, because the Exchanges are so organised that there is no adequate machinery for finding employment. Employment Exchanges ought to realise that it is their business not to act as a sort of detective agency, merely to discover cases of fraud, but actually to find work for the people concerned. From what they tell me, and I think it is absolutely right, they have not the staff, either trained or with the time, to obtain a knowledge of the industries in their district. If a proper staff were employed it should not be impossible in any area served by an Employment Exchange for that staff to have a full knowledge of all the factories in their area, of what was going on there, of why they were working short time, and whether it was due to lack of capital, out-of-date machinery, shortage of markets or to the absence of the necessary skilled labour. It may be said that the last is not a very likely thing to occur, but our industry is changing its form, and science and technique are more and more dominating the production of articles.
Take one example, perhaps a rather sensitive one at the present time, the manufacture of artificial silk. That is very largely a matter of technical skill. Despite the fact that there are an enormous number of men out of work at the present time, the output of our factories at no time is able to keep pace with the demand. Messrs. Courtauld have to ration their customers. Owing to the necessity of getting the necessary skilled labour trained for the work, it is not possible to supply the demand. This is the state of affairs at the very time when there are all these hundreds of men lined kip at the Employment Exchanges seeking work. The Employment Exchange organisation has no machinery for training the necessary skilled labour, but it might use the good offices of the Board of Education and co-operate with where there is a shortage of skilled labour. It should be their business to train the men and make them efficient, and, if it is capital that is required, to help the manufacturer concerned to find them useful employment.
First they must have the machinery. Instead of Employment Exchanges being run on the present lines, the Minister must apply his mind to reverting to the original idea of their founders, and make 2091 the Employment Exchange the servant not only of the men who want to work but of the employers, bringing men willing to work into touch with employers who can find them useful employment. Then, of course, comes the very difficult problem of finding markets. Our markets are changing. The ordinary normal markets before the War have been largely disorganised or closed, and manufacturers have not been in the position to have the necessary knowledge to divert their plant to the new needs and requirements of the post-War world. More use should be made of the wonderful machinery that exists in our Consular Service. At present it is used merely to tabulate dull statistics which nobody reads. If it were used as a means for providing markets, if we could bring it into contact with those manufacturers who have lost their markets, we could do a considerable amount to revive our trade and industry.
I would say to the Minister that it is no use being passive. Somehow or other we have got to get our industry going. I hear that one of the great difficulties is that many of our factories are run on entirely independent and self-contained lines. Where there is a great number of unemployed the Government, instead of staying up at Whitehall doing nothing, should go down to the depressed districts, to the North of England, and see whether, by bringing the various parties concerned together, by improving their organisation by getting more co-operation between the miners and the mineowners and the shipbuilders, and so on, they could enable our manufacturers to meet the competition they have to face in the markets of the world.
In our Employment Exchanges we have a wonderful organisation. We know who are out of work and what trades they belong to, we know their history—they are all recorded in the card index, all the men who are out of work. Instead of sitting down and allowing those men to lose their industrial skill, the Government should realise that they can, by their machinery, do much to get them back into work—if they will only take the trouble to get a knowledge of the industries, go to the distressed industrial districts and become active instead of passive. I believe that something can be done on those lines to help our workers 2092 to get back into the factories and again become producers. I do not believe we can solve our problems by providing relief works. We have got to realise that, while there will have to be individual effort, the State can act as a guide and director, and do much to assist our manufacturers to get back to their old industrial position.
§ Mr. R. S. HUDSON
I claim the indulgence of the Committee for a maiden effort. I am emboldened to make it by a feeling that the subject matter before us is one of vital importance to the nation, is and must be the main pre-occupation of those among us who endeavour to follow the Prime Minister's precept of keeping in close touch with our constituencies. I think the action of the Minister of Labour in issuing his now famous Circular of February, the proposals of the Government for a widows pension scheme, and perhaps also the unfortunate scene the other day in this House have had a cumulative and beneficial effect by concentrating and renewing the attention of the country on this problem. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), who opened this Debate, said that we were accustomed to look on the bright side of things. I am afraid we have perhaps been accustomed too long to look on the bright side of the employment problem, and people have rather got into the habit of reading unemployment statistics week by week, and hoping things would get better; but have failed to visualise the crushing burden this problem is casting upon industry and on the working classes. I feel, however, that now we have evidence of a growing determination to try and grapple with this problem.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not been interrupted the other day, I believe he was going to indicate the date on which he hoped to see the Unemployment Insurance Fund again made solvent, so that we might reduce the employers' and workmen's contributions to the original level of 6d. I have been tremendously impressed, in talking to workmen and employers, by the feeling there is among them that, until their contribution can be reduced to 6d., the burden of the widows' pension scheme will not be easy for them to bear. On these benches we all welcomed this scheme as a beneficial one to the working classes which is long overdue. It is 2093 because of my desire to see the widows' pension scheme take its place in the ordinary economic life of the country, that I want to see its path made as easy as possible. I think the problem goes really beyond one of how or on what date the Unemployment Insurance Fund is to be made solvent. The problem is psychological as well. I believe that the efforts, both of working men and of employers, are being hampered at the present moment by the fact that they read that despite their best endeavours there are still over 1,100,000 persons unemployed. What we really have got to do is to reduce the weekly figures of unemployment.
There are, I know, a large number of persons who say, "Abolish the dole, and all will be well." But I think such advice finds, and rightly finds, no responsive echo among the great majority of those who sit in this House. The dole is not the ideal slay of dealing with this problem, as the right hon. Gentleman has already admitted. It has been admitted that the undue continuance of the dole tends in a large number of cases to demoralise the recipients. I think many hon. Members on the benches opposite will admit that, and even if some of them do not find it possible to do so publicly, I am certain the wives and daughters of their constituents are among the most eager to find some substitute which will give work to their men folk. It seems to me that, quite apart from moral grounds, merely to throw men off the insurance fund, in order to put the burden on to the local boards of guardians is not the right way of going about it.
This is one of the main criticisms to be levelled against the famous Circular 1183. The effect on one union in my constituency alone has been to increase the local burden by £2.000 a year. If that be the effect of cutting down numbers by I per cent., what would he the effect of 51 per cent. in October next, if no alternative be elaborated in the meantime? The burden of the rates on one colliery I know already approaches the total cost of management supervision and direction, while the charge for national insurance, compensation, and betterment in the same colliery amounts to over Is. 4d. per ton in the same way the burden of the rates on another industry in my constituency, namely iron ore mining, is equally crushing, being as it is over 2094 three times what it was before the War, with the result that the mines cannot be worked at a cost which can compete with foreign ores, and to-day the men are, I am sorry to say, being continually discharged, although the mines are the richest in the world.
Moreover, to lighten the burden on the Insurance Fund by throwing it on the rates, has the well-known drawback of still further handicapping those very areas and industries which are most in need of assistance, and which are suffering from the greatest measure of unemployment. There may be, and probably are, numbers of cases of persons drawing benefits who are not entitled to them, and which they were not originally intended to receive. But when you make full allowance for all cases like that, I do not think they amount to 10 per cent., or even 5 per cent., of the total. Even if you make allowance for such cases, the total of the unemployed is well above 1,000,000, and you still have before you the problem of how to bring about the solvency of that Fund, in order to enable us to lighten the burden of widows' pensions.
The scheme associated with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) is, I believe, under the careful consideration of the Government, but even that has its drawbacks, and it appears to me to be open to the objection that, once started, it may prove impracticable to stop it. It is also very difficult to determine within what limits it should be applied. If, however, it is decided to adopt it, I would like to put in a plea for its extension to the iron ore industry, with a view to assistance being given towards the accumulation on the surface of banks of ore, against the day when we hope a demand will again arise. I believe that would be an economic step, and would help materially to reduce unemployment in certain areas where it is exceptionally rife.
This leads me to a suggestion to which I would venture to call the special attention of the Minister of Labour and his colleague the Minister of Agriculture. There is no doubt that, taken as a, whole, the drainage of our agricultural areas has very materially deteriorated since the beginning of the century, and over large areas the productivity of the land so affected is seriously suffering. We were told the other day that over 300,000 men under 30 2095 years of age were in receipt of unemployment benefit. I would suggest that work could be found for large numbers of these men during the two next critical years on afforestation and drainage schemes. I am aware that there are innumerable practical difficulties. There is the burning question of who is to benefit by the improvements made, and there is also the question of securing accommodation. I believe, however, that if a scheme were adopted on a sufficiently wide scale these difficulties would not he insuperable, and I am convinced that the benefit to be secured by the country would more than counter-balance them. On account of continued unemployment, many of these men are daily, through no fault of their own, becoming less fit physically and mentally to take their proper place in the industries of the country and in the national work of the nation.
I should hope to see, as the result of more than two years' work in the open, a desire on the part of many of these men to settle permanently in the country, and perhaps among some a readiness, at all events a fitness, to take up life in our Dominions overseas. In this way you might make the Insurance Fund solvent, without incurring any very much greater expense than you are incurring now by keeping people doing nothing. If by these and any other bold schemes we can reduce the figures of unemployment to 700,000 or 800,000, the burden of widows' pensions would be unnoticeable, the Government would receive the support of the nation, and would have earned the undying gratitude of that large body of women and children in the country who are suffering so acutely to-day from the misery and despair of seeing their men folk without proper employment.
§ Mr. WHITELEY
May I be allowed to congratulate the hon. Member for White-haven (Mr. R. Hudson) on his maiden effort, and to thank him for the sentiments he has expressed, particularly with regard to the working classes of this country. I am quite sure that, had the Chancellor of Exchequer come along a fortnight ago with similar sentiments, there would have been no disturbance in this House. I find myself unable to accept the statement of the Chancellor of Exchequer this afternoon as being a 2096 satisfactory explanation of the statement that he made a fortnight ago to-day, because one has to remember that he was dealing with the process whereby the Government of the day could reduce the number of unemployed persons in this country to 800,000, and he was looking round to find where he could place the responsibility for the Government not being able to get down to that figure. Naturally, he did not want to blame the Government of which he is a member; and he naturally did not want to blame private enterprise, who cannot run industry in this country except they have a certain number of unemployed persons. Therefore, the only people that he could blame were the workers of this country and, in spite of the fact that he has now endeavoured to insert a new word, we who were sitting here and heard that statement know very well that it was well rehearsed, and was intended to be a statement attacking the working class of this country in a general sense. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been claiming that he was responsible for bringing the Unemployment Insurance Act on to the Statute Book.
§ Sir CLEMENT KINLOCH-COOKE
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member entitled to impute motives to right hon. and hon. Members?
§ Mr. WHITELEY
The Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed to-day, as he did a fortnight ago, that he was responsible for bringing to the Statute Book the Unemployment Insurance Act, and he rather prided himself on the fact that he had been responsible in a large measure for creating the system of Employment Exchanges in this country. As a result of his statement a fortnight ago, I have been looking back in the records, and I find that in May, 1909 there was a Motion before the House of Commons dealing with the Report of the Poor Law Commission on Unemployment, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then President of the Board of Trade, took the opportunity on that occasion to inform the House of Commons that he intended on the following day to introduce a Measure to bring Employment Exchanges into existence in this country. He further pointed out that it was essentially a matter for the Board of 2097 Trade to concern itself with the organisation of industry, so far as the Government could properly concern itself with the organisation of industry, and he showed to the House of Commons that Employment Exchanges were the first essential step which should be taken in coping with the problem of poverty and unemployment.
He went on to point out to the House that, by a system of Employment Exchanges, organised as he intended to organise them, it would be possible to mobilise the labour of this country and to link up every town and village in the country so as to get to know what actual vacancies there were in the country, and prevent working men being sent from pillar to post in search of work which they probably knew was not there. He was going so to mobilise labour and to link up his Employment Exchange system that what would happen in the future would be that a man who was unemployed would be told that there was a job fitted for him, and he would be asked to go to that job without any further trouble. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is bound to realise that that system has not materialised as he expected it would. His speech in the House of Commons on that occasion gave great encouragement to the workers of this country that in the future they would be saved much aimless wandering from town to town and from village to village in search of work; but, instead of the right hon. Gentleman coming to the House and admitting frankly and honestly that the Employment Exchanges had not fulfilled the hopes that he had, or that the industrial system of the country was being made more chaotic day by day because of the failure of private enterprise to give its quota in the same proportion as was being asked of the workers, in order to bring industry back to a true economic position—instead of pointing out these things, he comes along and says the present unemployment figures are too large, and that the responsibility for that rests upon a tremendous number of malingerers. As a matter of fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day said that he was inundated with information regarding this problem. I am only sorry that he had not the ordinary common decency 2098 towards the House of Commons to present that information to the Committee.
Let us see what the Ministry of Labour themselves say with regard to this problem. The Ministry of Labour have issued information co this House pointing out that during the whole of the year 1924 there were 1,913 prosecutions, that there were 1,590 convictions, that 188 persons were bound over, and that 135 cases were dismissed. I have been making very careful inquiries during the last fortnight with regard to the situation in the North of England, and particularly with regard to my own Division, and I find that in my own Division, up to some few days ago, there were 3,661 persons who were in receipt of unemployment benefit, and that during the whole period since 1921, when there has been depression in the mining industry, there have only been three prosecutions in the whole of my area. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour himself stated to the House on the 7th May, the clay following that on which these figures were issued, that the proportion which the number of prosecutions bore to the number of persons claiming benefit during the year was 055 per cent., which shows that one of the things about which the Government have to be very careful is that they do not concentrate on using the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Act for the purpose of attacking genuinely unemployed persons who are receiving that to which they are entitled, but that they ought rather to concentrate on seeing that the Employment Exchanges are used for the purpose for which they were brought into being, namely, for collecting the vacancies in the country in such a manner as to prevent men having to travel aimlessly about, as they are doing to-day, and being directed by the Employment Exchanges to go to places where they find that the work is absolutely different from what they were told it was.
I have a case of some constituents of my own who were informed by the Employment Exchange that there were vacancies at a colliery near Barnsley, owned by the Old Silkstone Colliery Company, Limited, where 20 coal-getters were wanted. They had to be fully experienced men used to coal seams of be- 2099 tween 2 feet and 5 feet; they had to be used to pillar and stall work, they must be of good physique and free from disability. They were told that it would be a permanent job, and that they would be paid at the rate of 14s. to 15s. per shift of seven hours for six shifts per week. These men in my area thought they had found a real gold mine. They were not desirous of continuing to receive unemployment benefit, but were anxious for work. Eight men were selected from that area, particulars of their qualifications and experience were submitted to and accepted by the employers, and the men travelled to Barnsley from Dunston-on-Tyne on the 21st October. The particulars were presented to the employers by the Employment Exchange giving the character and everything else regarding these men, to show that they were fit and proper persons to be employed in this kind of work. Moreover, they were told that houses would be available—that four were being completed each week. When they got there, however, they found that no houses were available, but the manager of the Employment Exchange gave them a list of lodgings. The men went from door to door to inquire whether they could be taken in, and all the reply they could get was that in two instances one of them could be taken in, but that they would have to board themselves, which was exceedingly unsatisfactory from the men's point of view.
When they vent to work at this wonderful colliery, they only received per day, not 15s., and, because they could not keep two homes going on 5s. a day, they were compelled to return home; and, as the Employment Exchange refused to give them their return fares, they were compelled to walk all the way from Barnsley to Dunston-on-Tyne. One of the things that I desire to point out is that the people connected with the Employment Exchanges, apparently do not take any notice of the miners' officials in connection with these vacancies. I have a letter here from Mr. Herbert Smith, who is the President of the Yorkshire Miners, and also President of the Miners' Federation. It is dated the 24th October, and is in reply to an inquiry from our local secretary. He says:I should think it is one of the worst collieries for wages in the South Yorkshire area. We had the Labour Exchange man up yesterday, who informed us that he had 2100 some men sent down from your county to Barnsley. He came to ask us what we thought about it. We told him we could not recommend any of our men to go there, and we were hoping before long to have an organised branch strong enough to resist the low wades paid by that colliery when men met with difficulties in their working places".In spite of that information from the President of the Miners' Federation, the officials of the Employment Exchanges allow these men to go to Barnsley, knowing that the conditions are not in keeping with the information they have received from the employer. We say that that is not the right way to treat men who are genuinely anxious to work, if work can be found for them in any part of this country.
Then, of course, I have been very interested in the statements one has seen in the Press as to how we can get the unemployment figure down to 800,000. That is the great object of the Government of the day. Let us examine what processes they have in operation. Firstly, they refuse extended benefit to men who are not normally insurable. I do not quite know the exact category in which these men would come, but the Minister of Labour, when he replies, will probably give us some idea. Then they say that extended benefit is refused because insurable employment is not likely to be available in normal times; and a third reason is that extended benefit is not paid because a reasonable period of insured employment has not been worked during the last two years. We have hundreds and thousands of men who have not been able to work during the last two years, and who have been cut off from unemployment benefit under this Clause. Then the further statement is made that they are not making reasonable efforts to find suitable employment or are unwilling to accept such employment. Here we have cases where men have accepted employment which has not been in keeping with the ordinary decent standard of life. It does not enable them to keep themselves in ordinary decency.
Under this head, between the 1st August, 1924, and the 9th March, 1925, 196,087 people were cut off from benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Act, and the Government have other avenues whereby they can avoid paying benefit to people who are out of work. As a matter 2101 of fact, if the owners ask the men, after they have given them notice, and while the notices are running, to agree to a reduction in their wages—which in most cases is an absolutely unreasonable reduction—then those men are prevented from getting unemployment benefit because it is called a trade dispute. In collieries where, in some few instances, men have thought they were entitled to an increase of wages, and the manager has refused to give them any increase or to consider their claim, again you have what is called a trade dispute, and the men do not receive unemployment benefit. Again, in the case of colliery companies, such as there are in Durham to-day, who are trying to break through county arrangements on the question of hours, all they have to do is to call it a trade dispute, and the Umpire at the Industrial Court cuts our men out because it has been called a trade dispute by the employer.
We have thousands of cases of that kind in the County of Durham, of men who have never received a penny from the Unemployment Fund, although they have contributed to it ever since they came under it. We say that, rather than do that kind of thing, it would be far better for the Government to begin to organise industry in this country in a better sense than they have ever attempted in the past. Rather than that a responsible Minister should come down to the House of Commons and declare that the workers of this country are becoming involved in a sort of general habit of endeavouring to qualify for un- employment benefit, he should see to it that every effort is being put forward by his Government to create such a situation that our men, who are not responsible for unemployment, but who are anxious to work, may have some work created for the purpose of finding them employment. When the right hon. Gentleman made that statement, there came before one's mind men with whom one had gone to school, with whom one commenced to work in the same mine, with whom one grew up into manhood. Those men, with many of whom I have talked during the last two or three weeks, have been unable to secure employment during the last 21 years, although they have made every effort. They have tramped every village and town in the counties in which they lived, they have in sorted advertise 2102 ments from time to time, and still they have failed to secure employment; and it is a very severe thing to put them in the category of malingerers who are desiring to draw unemployment benefit rather than seek work.
I met in the Lobby of this House last night three young men from my own constituency who have been out of work for over 10 months. They have absolutely failed to secure work in this country, and they left this morning from Tilbury Docks for Australia. They told me last night that, rather than stay in this country and receive unemployment benefit, they were going out there, not because they had work to go to, but because they thought they might find an opening in some other country, as everything seems to be going wrong in the old country. One of those men, just 18 months ago, was presented to the King of this country in order to receive a medal for bravery in the mine. We are simply, by our present Employment Exchange system, and by the decisions in our Industrial Courts, putting the screw on from every point of view, and we are driving the best of our manhood out of the country—the very type of men that we ought to be keeping in the country. I say that the working classes of this country have no need to be ashamed of their past record. They have made a great contribution to the national wealth. They were considered fellow-citizens during the days of war. They were called fellow-citizens by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in the big public meetings that we had when the country was going through difficulties and times of distress. They were asked as fellow-citizens to come to the aid of their country, and they did so. But now, when they are passing through times of difficulty and distress, they are not called fellow-citizens, but are told in this House that they are men capable of developing the habit of qualifying for insurance benefit rather than seeking work. We repudiate that statement. We say that our class have given a real contribution to this nation's good, and will continue to do so and we urge upon the Government, in their turn, to give the same kind of contribution.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not pro pose to deal, except in a few sentences with the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am very glad that he 2103 had an opportunity to-day of developing his argument more fully, but I think it was very effectively dealt with, if I may say so, by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley), by irrefutable figures and statements; and also, if I may say so, by inference from the whole tone and tenour of his argument, in the excellent maiden speech delivered by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson). The entire point and pith of his speech, and its whole direction, was a complete contradiction of the assumption of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1 think quite honestly, but I also think quite mistakenly, is under the impression that there is a perceptible number of people who could be taken off unemployment benefit because they have no right to he there. I think he is under the impression that he can reduce the figures by that means, and that he can utilise the saving for the purpose of financing his schemes. I think he is utterly wrong is inevitable that out of the 1,200,000 there must be some who, on the whole, ought not to have been there. There no class of whom that could not be said and the working classes are no more exempt than other classes—in fact, less so—from the charge of idling when they might to be at work. There are other classes against whom that charge would be very appropriate. But I do not think he will find that, on the whole, he will succeed in saving very much money to the Exchequer, and there is a real danger —the old danger of the parable—that he will root out the wheat when he is trying to get rid of the tares, and probably throw a great deal of the wheat into the furnace of discontent, and I do not think it is worth his while fixing his hopes upon that, or devoting his energy and his thought to it.
The problem is a much more serious one than that. It goes very much deeper, and I think the real danger we are under is that we have got into the habit of regarding the problem of unemployment as if it were due to temporary causes, and that the symptoms will pass away, and that all we have to do is to provide temporary remedies. I do not think anyone who looks at the prospects of trade and industry can honestly come to that conclusion. We are a very optimistic people. 2104 All successful people are optimists, because they have the best reason for being optimists, and we are a very prosperous people. We have been the most prosperous people in the world, and that makes us optimistic, but I think our optimism has carried us a little too far. I have taken this view for some years. I think there are permanent causes which account for the depression in trade and that we ought to realise it. I have done my best at the expense of being called a pessimist. I agree with the hon. Member who spoke so well a short time ago, that a good deal of this is psychological, but I do not think you can improve trade by saying" all is well. Let us conceal the figures on unemployment, let us give the impression that things are getting on." I think we have got to a position where we must face the facts. I. have drawn attention to this once or twice before, but I will repeat it till I can get an answer from some Government as to what their idea is as to the outlook, and also as to how they are to deal with it.
May I put two or three facts which I think are pertinent. The first is that, owing to War and post-War conditions, other countries have been compelled to set up factories to provide goods which before the War they bought from us. That is one of the results of the exchanges. The deterioration of exchanges in European countries made it impossible for those countries to buy from us, whatever their will was. I had a good illustration of that a few weeks ago, when I met a very intelligent Portuguese gentleman, who said to me, "We were in the habit of buying certain goods from England, but our exchange got so bad that our people could not any longer pay for those goods. We have now been compelled to build factories. At first the goods turned out by those factories were very inferior, and had we been able to get your goods into our country at a reasonable price, and if our exchange had enabled us to pay for them, we should have bought your stuff. But our people now are beginning to learn how to do it. They are improving year by year, and there are factories set up all over the country employing thousands of people to provide the very material which formerly we bought from you. By-and-by our exchanges will be stabilised." Every European exchange will be stabilised at some 2105 figure or other, sometimes in hundreds, sometimes in thousands, but it will be something which will represent a coin or a currency which will equalise matters. But by that time no Government, in Portugal will dare to face the prospect of those factories being closed down. They have far too many revolutions at present, in fact whenever there is any desire for a change of Government, it always begins in revolution. It takes less time than a general election very often, and as a matter of fact I believe it costs less in Portugal, and I do not believe there is very much more bloodshed. They dare not therefore face the closing don of the factories, and the result will be that when the exchanges are stabilised and when the population there can buy the goods at prices which would have the effect of closing them down, they will take steps at once to put up tariffs, which will make it impossible for us to get in. That condition of things you will find in practically every European country. You have it in France, in Germany and in other countries as well. That is a permanent factor that we have to take into account.
What is the other factor? Take the position of our shipping. Before the War we had 40 per cent. of the total shipping of the world, including steamers on the great lakes in America. We did not far from half the international trade of the, world. It was a great source of income. It was part of the invisible exports that enabled us to balance our accounts. The position last year was that we had just 30 per cent. of the shipping of the world. Owing to War conditions, or rather to the fears caused by the War and to post-War difficulties, nations that had no shipping before the War started building —France, Italy and the United States. That is a very serious factor when you come to deal with trade as a whole.
Everyone knows the position of coal. There is a disposition to treat that as if it were really a temporary difficulty. It is nothing of the kind. Everyone knows it, and we know it very well in South Wales more particularly, where they used to supply coal for the southern railways in France and for Italy. I am told they have closed down their offices in Cardiff from which they used to supply the coal. Someone gave me the 2106 figure the other day that they used to supply something like 13,000,000 tons for that purpose. Now the French railways are largely electrified. The same thing applies to Italy, where we used, to supply coal. Italy could no longer pay for the coal. It was very expensive in the first years after the War, but, apart from that, there was the exchange difficulty. Whereas, formerly, 26 lire would represent a sovereign, now it has run up to about 116 or 117. In France, where 25 francs used to pay for £1, it has run up to over 90. They can no longer pay for these commodities and they have taken steps to dispense with them.
It is no use treating this as if it were simply a temporary incident that is going to pass away or that you can deal with it either by unemployment insurance or by relief work of any sort or kind. There is something fundamental here that has got to be faced, and the. House of Commons must face it, with the Government of the day. It shows what an amazing people we are. This is the fifth year of this state of things, and this is the condition of the House of Commons when we are discussing something that is vital for the very life of the country. We are taking it very calmly. That is because we have confidence that somehow or other it will come out right in the end.
May I point out another factor? I have called attention to this before. I know that great financial experts think it is an exaggeration, but I have never been able to get an answer. It is the effect of inflation upon the position of our competitors. The effect undoubtedly at first was in our favour, because it destroyed' their credit. They could not buy their raw material at the same price that', we could. I had some figures given me, and I put them to one or two experts as to whether they were correct or not, and they thought they might be approximately correct, that the effect on Germany at first was that whereas France was able to buy her iron ore at something like 14 francs, for the same quantity the Germans had to pay the equivalent of 42 francs for the raw material of their iron industry. That may he the case. I should not be a bit surprised, because last year even the best German firms were paying 40 per cent. accommodation for a short loan and some of them were paying even 100 per cent. to borrow money. But 2107 that is passing away. They borrowed £40,000,000 at 7 per cent. It was oversubscribed—I forget how many times—and there is no doubt at all that it will be honoured. The amount at which they are borrowing money is coming down and down and down, and their deposits have gone up in the course of a single year—last year—from &£100,000,000, in their banks up to the equivalent of over £300,000,000. Therefore, they will be able to borrow at a lower rate of interest.
But this is what I am coming to. When they are able to do that there will be this position. All their municipal debt their National Debt for the War and most of their debt after the War has been wiped out. It has had this effect even with regard to property. I read an article by a very eminent German professor showing that before the War a workman paid something like, I think, 25 per cent. of his wages for his rent. The rent now represents 90—that is less than 1 per cent. of his wages.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am not at all sure that the hon. Member would like to see the working classes pass through the tremendous period of depression and want through which the Germans passed in order to attain that stage. The paper currency has been their jubilee. It has wiped out their debts.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
And no conscription. These are permanent factors that we have to face and we are dealing with the problem as if it were purely something temporary which was merely a matter of relief in one shape or another. What I want to know from the Government is, what is their view of the prospect? I may be taking too pessimistic a view, but I have taken it and stated it in the House for three years and up to the present I regret to say I have been correct in that respect. Experts always told me when I sat on that bench, "wait for six months and you will get a change." They told me in 1920 and in 1921 the same thing. I have no doubt they told the succeeding Governments: "All you have to do is to wait a few more months and you will get a change."
2108 Honestly, I cannot see how you are going to overcome these factors unless there is some determination by the nation as a whole to grip the problem and face it and deal with it as we dealt with the problems of the War, with courage, with initiative and, above all, without fear of departing from the ordinary channels. The thing that saved us in the War was that we were not afraid of doing something that had never been done before, and you will never get away from it. There have been three Governments since I was a member of a Government. We have had Trade Facilities, Unemployment Insurance, Export Credits, great road schemes, but there has not been a single new idea since then. Honestly, if I had been there another three years, I should have learned something new. I am sick of this slavish adhesion to the Coalition policy. You have had three Governments—a Conservative Government (a diluted one), a Labour Government, and now an undiluted Conservative Government. The right hon. Gentleman does not supply the element in dilution that I did. All you get is this sort of copying of Coalition ideas, as if they were copperplate. Really it is time the Government should say, "These are permanent factors. Let us face them. We will ask the House of Commons to take certain lines."
If I may refer again to a very instructive speech, I was very glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. S. Hudson) that he was not afraid of facing something new. He said, "Drain the land." That is a new idea[Laughter.]I do not mean little wash-pot schemes, and the hon. Member did not mean anything of the kind. He meant something on a bigger scale. Let us see what happened in 1815, when we had to face conditions, not quite as bad, but still very bad, after a prolonged period of war—nothing like as exhausting as the war we have gone through, nothing like as devastating and destructive, but still just enough to give us some idea of the character of the problem. There we were faced with the same change in the world's condition, but there there was new machinery, there were new processes which cheapened manufacture and enabled those who could not buy at the old prices to buy at the cheaper ones. That was a new thing. 2109 There is electricity now that something might be done with. In those days the population were moved practically from one form of industry to another. It was badly done. It was very destructive. It was a moving from the villages to the towns, where they were huddled together and put into barracks which have since become slums. That is what happened then. Is it not possible to think out the problem? Let as take a survey of the assets of this country, of its possibilities, and what can be done. I do not mean in a party sense, by attacking any class of property owners or any other class, but by acting together on an honest, fearless survey, and determining what to do. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell me what he thinks of the night from his watch-tower, and what he thinks is going to happen? Does he see any hopes? If so, what are they? There is a great inquiry into trade. Has it reported? Does he think that things are still in a very doubtful and dangerous condition? He is there with a great majority behind him, and I believe a courageous one if somebody were to lead them on the right path. I ask him what is his proposal.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR(Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland)
It is a most characteristic speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Gentleman. We are told that there are lots of people here with courage, if anyone will lead them on the right path. We have not had one syllable from the right hon. Gentleman as to whether he has any idea whether there is a path at all.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I put forward my suggestions in the last Debate, which took place only a few weeks ago. I developed my suggestions then, and I did not, want to worry the House by repeating the same suggestions.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MA1TLAND
The right hon. Gentleman has accused us of following slavishly the projects of the Coalition Government to a degree which, I think, is repellent, almost, to himself. I am not at all sure when I now come to consider his speech, and when I consider the projects of the Coalition Government —of which, for a short time, I was a humble Member, while he was at the head of it—that I cannot begin to trace something of the difference which is due to 2110 elements of the Coalition Government which are no longer in this Government, as distinguished from the elements which are still here, and which were in the Government with the right hon. Gentleman. He has accused us of following continuously along the same lines. I seem to remember the different kind of influence, which, clearly, is not in this Government now, judging from his own speech, but which was observable in the Coalition Government, and that was the element of great oscillation from one extreme quickly to another. There was the great oscillation towards nationalisation. Hon. Members opposite will remember that question. [HON. MEMBERS "The Chancellor of the Exchequer ! "] There were oscillations in other respects as well. If the accusation against us to-day is that we are going too steadily along the same lines, it seems clear where the oscillating influence has been. I am not at all sure whether the country would the better at the moment for having violent swings of the pendulum in regard to policy every few months.
I am ready to deal with the questions to which the right hon. Gentleman has directed our attention. He went back to 1815, He said that then, at any rate, there was a new development which enabled the country to get over the difficulties in which it found itself after the Napoleonic wars. It is perfectly true that there was a development which happened after those wars. But at the present time there is no sign of any departure so great in proportionate effect in this country. There is, however, one departure and that is in the realm of electricity. I admit that it was a pet project of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Government, as it has been with us in this. Anyone may ask me in this House, "How far have you gone?" The answer is—I do not want to anticipate anything that the Minister of Transport may say—that the Government have pushed ahead with it as hard as it could be pushed ahead. You cannot get—I speak from my own business experience—a scheme of a tenth-part of its magnitude in ordinary business life brought to fruition without many months, and very often years, of elaboration. Consequently, however hard it is pushed, it has been absolutely impossible 2111 to get to the point of fruition as quickly as anyone in this House would wish. If anyone asks me about the scheme to-day, my answer is that we are not yet in a position to lay it before the House; but I trust, without question, that it may be so laid before the autumn.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me about some matters which he thinks are permanent factors. I can give him an opinion as to how far they are permanent and how far they are not. The first is the question of shipbuilding. One reason for the extraordinary depression in the shipbuilding trade is, of course, the fact that shipbuilding was active before and during the War, but when the War ended the whole world was left, not with a shortage but with a surplus of the actual tonnage required for carrying the shipping of the day. The consequence is that shipping rates in the market have gone down. New shipbuilding has been stagnant. It is only as existing ships become obsolete and worn out that there will be any revival of shipbuilding in the world as a whole, and the share of it which this country will get depends on its competitive power in manufacture. With that I will deal in a moment. To this extent, however, there is a permanent difficulty in the matter' of shipbuilding, and that is that with the decrease in the navies of the world, there is no question hut that the constructive capacity of this country, when you take both Admiralty building and ordinary commercial shipbuilding, is probably in excess of what the requirements will be, even in times of active trade, for many years to come.
I will now take the case of coal. The chief reason why this year the figures for unemployment have remained so high, has been the condition of the coal trade. The ordinary fall that there would have been, and a fall to a figure at least as low as last year, has been set off by one main cause, and that is the great extent of unemployment in the coal trade, as compared with what it was last year. Of the numbers of unemployed at this moment over 100,000 are due to the increase in unemployment in the coal mining industry alone. That in itself would practically make all the difference, even if there was nothing else, between last year's figures and this.
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the figures for the coal mining industry for a period of this year, and the corresponding period last year?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Yes. The figures of unemployment on the 28th April last year in the coal mining industry were 24,843. This year on the 27th April, the figure was 139,375. That is a difference of 115,000 which, when you make allowances for the changes caused by the Unemployment Act of last year, accounts in itself for practically the whole difference in unemployment between this year and last year. It is possible that you may find in certain lines a replacement of coal by oil for the propulsion of boats, and engines of similar kind in other ways, but I do not think that that in any way accounts for the great amount of unemployment in the coal mining trade. Nor does it necessarily mean that in future that factor alone, with the normal expansion in propulsive power that will be required, means greater unemployment in normal times. What happens at this moment is that we are being undersold in neutral markets by Germany, in Italy largely, and I believe in the Argentine, too. I was not prepared for dealing with this point, and I am speaking from memory, but I think my facts are correct. I believe that if 2s. 6d. a ton could he cut off the cost of coal in this country we could -recover most of the markets that we have lost.
Now I come to the question of inflation. I had an opportunity while the inflation was proceeding in Germany of seeing the effects of it from inside. While the old mark was going steadily downwards, what happened was, that the industrialists in Germany, in many cases, had a large volume of trade. Their increased power of competition was brought about because the real wages of the workmen were so greatly reduced since the paper marks which they received on the day when wages were paid were worth only a fraction of what they were when the rate of the wages was fixed. That was largely the case while inflation was going on in Germany. You got a rate of wages fixed on one day, but by the time the wages had to be paid the value of the paper mark had altered. For that reason, and for similar reasons, it followed that, for the time being, during the period of 2113 inflation their power of competition was enormously increased in underselling us.
After that, what happened am giving my own experience from inside, because I saw it happen. In many cases, in order to put profits where they might retain their value, they were largely invested in new plant, new buildings, and in bringing machinery up to date for future competition, because the new plant and the new building would retain their value after the period of inflation was over. It was largely for that reason that the financial stringency became so acute. They never paid as much as 40 per cent. for a long period of time, but, at any rate, the money stringency was great and I can give the Committee an instance which came within my own knowledge. A business which had dealings with some of the great German firms found that the Germans had difficulty in finding cash to make purchases. It was a question whether money could be lent to them. One of the greatest firms in Germany had a proposition put to them by a British firm, who said, "We are willing, in view of your standing, to lend you money." They calculated the English Bank Rate and offered to lend at 6 or 7 per cent. The answer from the Germans was, "6 per cent. Do you mean 6 per cent. a month?" Obviously, that was an impossible rate, but it shows what they considered was a possible request at a period of the greatest stringency. That period passed. What has been left behind? After the mark was standardised, you got a level of wages there very much below the ordinary British level, and conditions below the British level as well. That is the state of affairs, and conditions can only gradually go back to the state in which they were before. That is the only way, so far as I can see, in which inflation may mean that competition against us is increased, because otherwise, in the absence of a standardisation of the currency, internal prices tend to equate with external prices, and the advantage of competition which inflation has given tends to die away.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
At this moment, if asked, I would say that reparation has hardly had any effect on wages in Germany at present. I have been tracing what I have seen before 1 became a member of the Government, because I had the opportunity of seeing what was going on in Germany at the time, and it does mean this that, for the time being, we have to face industrial conditions abroad which are on a lower level from the point of view of the workers than they are in this country. That is what we really have to face. That is the one result of inflation against us, and I think that it is only one of any degree of permanency.
I am asked in this case what the Government would suggest, and if they have any scheme. That is the question which is always put, and I have been asked by hon. Members opposite why it is that Conservative Members accused the last Government of never bringing forward their schemes when they came into power. I do not want to make the same old answer too platitudinously, but I remember a speech by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) during the Election in which he said he knew "scores of profitable undertakings" in which people could be set to work. I remember another speech by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) in which he made an almost precisely similar statement in that Election, and, again, I remember the Election address of the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), which I read with the greatest interest, and in which he said:For the unemployed we urge immediate employment, nothing more and nothing less. And it can be done. We ask for an immediate putting in hand at the expense of national funds, but with the co-operation of local authorities, not of little bits of work only, but here and now this very winter of all the numerous and varied enterprises of public utility. The unemployed, including practically all the ex-service men in need, can be directly set to work on them by hundreds of thousands".That was at the end of 1923. That was not what they did in the following year. With all deference to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, they had not the excuse that they did not know the schemes. They had got all those schemes carefully prepared beforehand, or so we were told by the right hon. Gentleman 2115 opposite. They had been maturing, so to speak, in bond for at least two years before that. Consequently, if I am asked by them what we have done, I say that that sort of criticism from the right hon. Gentleman leaves me quite unmoved. The fact is that schemes of that sort—and I have the figures if the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) wishes them—are a mere palliative and nothing else, and for that reason we have never pretended that we have any remedy for unemployment along those lines. I may quote from just one other of the Election addresses:The provision of work by the State and the civic councils is at best a palliative and not a cure.AgainI do not pretend to see any quick, easy and complete cure for unemployment.That is what I personally said in my Election addresses because it is impossible to pretend to the people in this country that there is any quick and easy cure, which can reduce unemployment to a very large extent. I can, if hon. Members wish it, go through the different schemes that there have been—the Unemployment Grants Committee, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, afforestation, export credits, trade facilities, and all the rest. We have got the figures. From one year to another those figures gradually increase, but it is humanly impossible, with any of those, to do more than touch the fringe of the unemployment question. Therefore, when somebody asks me, as the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) does with patient persistence in his questions, what new schemes can be set on foot, my answer is that there are not the schemes to set up, and therefore they cannot be set up.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
As the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me, may I say that the municipal corporation has a scheme to put in hand which the Government will not finance?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
We could always do lots of things if the other person would foot the whole bill. What is clear is that whether it is a municipality or a Government that foots the bill, you do not get the money from any Fortunatus purse, but, in any case, it has got to be paid for by the country. The 2116 question is whether in the end you get a corresponding value for your money in the shape of a remedy for or an alleviation of unemployment. All these schemes are mere palliatives apart from electricity. It is electricity alone which differs from any of the schemes that have been proposed and which could conceivably be undertaken. That should pay for itself and be economically justifiable; it should he a good economic proposition because it brings the country as a whole up to date and enables it more effectively to compete with other countries. There is no other scheme of that kind.
One or two suggestions have been made in the course of the Debate, one by the right hon. Gentleman, who says that we ought to increase our trade with Russia. I can assure him that I am as anxious to increase our trade with Russia as with any other country. Nothing is being done to stop trade with Russia, but under no Government could a large trade with Russia be done at the present moment while the Russian Government, through one organ, controls the whole of the export and import trade. It has got to go through the neck of that bottle. It is a question, How are you going to increase the flow? So far as the figures on that subject go, our trade with Russia, which used to be much less than the German trade before the War—and Russia is the natural outlet for Germany to a greater extent than for this country—has increased to a greater extent than the German trade, and it has done so since the right hon. Gentleman quitted office.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. I have been in four Parliaments in this House, and I represent a constituency which—
§ Lieut.Commander KENWORTHY
have behaved as well as the hon. And gallant Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has asked, can we show how he can do more in certain directions? Is it not usual for a Minister to give way 2117 when he is asked? I ask you to protect me in this matter. I ask whether I have not the right in Committee of Supply to put a question to a Minister?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour has given way on several occasions during the course of his speech.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It is impossible for him to pursue his argument if he is interrupted constantly.
But I think that, there is a constitutional point here. We are voting Supply for a Government Department.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that I am always anxious to hear him on the subject of Russia. I do not intend any discourtesy to him, but he will have his chance of speaking afterwards, and in order to do justice to his points he will have to develop them.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Export credits for Russia are withheld because of the person to whom the credit is given. I can only give exactly the same answer as that which I gave to Mr. Rakovsky when he was here, that if they allowed business with Russia to be done in the usual way in which it is done with other countries, with the same certainty of a return, I believe that there would be, first of all, a trickle and then a. flow, and then you would get a volume of trade with Russia greater than in any other possible way.
The reason why I said that so far electricity is the only scheme, is because there is none other which is justifiable in itself and in itself alone. But I am convinced that the present situation is not by any means a permanent and an incurable setback, as the right hon. Gentleman, I think, believes. In that I differ from him. I do not think that the setback is permanent and incurable. I think that it is largely due to a dislocation in British trade itself. From some quarters on the benches opposite, when I made a similar remark 2118 before, hon. Members asked, "What is your remedy" I said then, and I say it again, that my remedy is a simple one, that industrialists, masters and men, should get together.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Every person who is really trying to get to the bottom of this question knows quite well that on both sides there are points to be brought forward in order to make the competitive power of British industries a great deal higher than it is to-day. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, our industries have really to face the facts and to get clown to these competition points. To my mind, the State can make itself useful, in the first place, by trying, where the parties are not already together—as they are in some of the big industries now—to bring them together, or, if there is a break-off through some accident—as there was in the engineering trade for the moment—to see if we cannot bring the parties together again. Then, if an industry says, "Because foreign conditions are of the kind outlined, we want you to try and see if you cannot bring conditions more into line," then we are ready, in response, to go forward and see how the Government can co-operate in doing so, provided that we really take care not to add to the difficulties of British industry. I have been told that that is a negative policy. It is not a negative policy for a moment.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
I think I am justified in interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, and if hon. Members will give me an opportunity, I will show that that is so. I want to say to the Minister that he knows just as well as I do, that in the engineering, the shipbuilding and all these great trades the men have been meeting the masters for 18 months on end.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I know quite well that they have been meeting, and I know quite well that they are only just getting to grips with the real, hard and solid facts. That is perfectly true. Our policy is not a negative policy. 2119 [Interruption.]Members may differ from me, but they know quite well that I am really trying to deal with the merits of the case, and, what is more, if their opinion is different from mine, that it is a perfectly honest difference of opinion. I am stating what I am quite convinced about in my own mind. The country, during the years of the War and those just after the War has passed through, I will not call it a debauch, but a complete upset in ordinary manufacturing conditions, get the country going again. There are two ways of trying to deal with a situation like this. There is the kind of doctor who says, "I will give you a lightning cure, a stimulant." Such a pretended cure is no good in the long run. Or you can get the kind of doctor who will say," The only way by which you can get right is to get your constitution sound." The latter is the kind of treatment that should be adopted. There is no good in general industrial conferences simply to talk things over. The big trades must get to grips individually with the hard facts still further than at present, and when they have done that then will be the time to get the parties in more than one trade to meet together. I have no doubt that when that is done a good deal of what look to-day like permanent disadvantages, will not be found to be permanent, but transitory. I agree that you have to get a resuscitation also in some of the big consuming neutral markets of the world.
Let me pass to another quite distinct point on which I have been asked questions. Let me pass from unemployment to the administration of the Insurance Acts. I shall deal with the question briefly, but not out of any discourtesy. I have been in my present office for six months, and I have had what I might call the heavy artillery of the extremists on both sides firing over my head the whole time, but fortunately the shells have mostly passed over my head. I get one type of extremist who tells me that the whole system is condemned as wrong. There are people who say, "Abolish the dole altogether." Others say," It has been in fact a relief system, and it ought to be made a relief system." I have tried to carry on; I have tried not to be deflected, and I have continued to strive for the object which 1 set out to reach four or five months ago. I am trying more 2120 and more to discriminate between the people who are entitled to get benefit and the people who are not, and also to get down to the real causes of the trouble. As to the extremists, I quite agree that there are some people who may imagine that there is a vast army of shirkers, and there are some who may imagine genuinely that there is nobody who ever wants to shirk at all. Let me put the common-sense point of view frankly to Members of the House, and I am sure that, politics apart, they will agree with me. I am sure that the great bulk of men are good fellows who want work, who are much happier in working if they can get work, and who do their best to obtain it. I am quite sure that that is true, and I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees with me.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
He is saying so now. Therefore, to that extent we are all agreed. I am sure that everyone on the opposite side of the House, as well as on this side, knows that there are some of every kind of persuasion. There is a certain proportion, and quite a very small number, who really try to get something for nothing if they get the chance. That is also quite clear in everyone's mind. An hon. Member, I think, accused the Chancellor of the Exchequer of saying that the great bulk of working men getting benefit were in the category of malingerers. My right hon. Friend did not say that[Interruption.]The vast number are good fellows who want work and the number of people who try to get the benefit without being entitled to it is quite small. But you do get also a fringe of people who under normal conditions are workers, who are happier when working, and yet who tend, when they see a man next door getting the benefit though he may not be entitled to it, to ask themselves: "Why should I not get a bit too?" The trouble with me in my own heart is the type of defect in cases of that kind. I am going to give hon. Members some of the types of reasons which make me troubled about some of the effects of the Act. I have here a letter sent to me as a Birmingham Member, from the branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union. It. refers to a perfectly proper official circular entitled" Rejection of claims for extended benefits on ground N.M.R.E." It is instructive to note that that official 2121 circular was never issued in Birmingham or in that district. It was only issued provincially in Scotland. Therefore, it was quite clear that it was not on their own spontaneous initiative that it was dealt with in Birmingham. A paragraph in the letter states:In the second place, the circular encourages men and women who are out of work, dreading the loss of the only money they are likely to receive, to tell the representatives on the Courts of Referees, that they have actually been to employers of labour asking for employment where they have not done so at all".That is the sort of trouble that I have. I am giving only what has come into my hands in the last day or two. My next quotation is from the "Barrow Leader the official organ of the Barrow Labour party:Men are being struck off benefit wholesale, and in many cases it is their own fault. Under the new regulations the committees are forced to put down on the forms every place an applicant has called at during the last few days. Many men are stating that they have not been anywhere for two, three and four weeks. One man actually stated that he had applied at the shipyard last July. Men appearing before the Rota in future are advised to secure a copy of the 'Barrow Handbook' and to commit to memory the names of all works and tradesmen. When before the committee and under interrogation as to where you have been looking for work, just reel off all the places you can remember, and be careful to state that you applied as recently as the same day or the day before. If the Labour Exchange is so stupid as to demand this information, let it have it, hot and heavy.Then it goes on—Remember that the one that tells the best tale gets off the best. Surely your cross-word experience has benefited you somewhat. That is what the craze was intended for. Twig? Well, cheerio! See you again on Labour Day.I have had views expressed on both sides. I have been told that I am inhuman, that I have been putting the screw on in every possible way. I think that there begin to be doubts on both sides. Therefore, I am going to take exactly the same action as I took over the Grocery Trade Board. When I came to the office, I found that the thing had been dragging along and was not cleared up. I said: "At any rate, I will try to clean up this matter." I have got an investigation going. After all that has passed, I am going to try to clean this matter up now. 2122 Therefore, I am going to set up a Committee this autumn, or some time this year, in order to go right into the question of the conditions of grants, so as to see exactly what the effect is, and to get advice as to policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not now?"] I am not going to determine what time it will be. I am also going to introduce a Bill this summer. Otherwise, on 1st October, the strict Regulation under the existing Act as to 30 contributions will come into force. The improvement of trade has not warranted that.
Therefore, I am going to introduce a Bill this Summer. But both as to the Bill and the time and personnel of the Committee, and with regard to the rest of it, I have not settled. I have been trying to get the matter cleared up before this afternoon's Debate. It was asked for earlier than normally would have been expected after the Estimates had been gone into by the Estimates Committee. Therefore, I am not ready yet with details, either as regards the Committee or the Bill. I propose to communicate details to the House as soon as I can. On the one hand, I am accused of being hard-hearted and inhuman—those are the words that have been used—and, on the other hand, lax. I cannot accuse myself of being either lax or inhuman. It is about the most difficult question to administer that there is. I think if any Member were in my place day by day, he would find it was neither an easy nor a pleasant task for anyone who tried to combine both his head and his heart in fulfilling his duty. The fact is that I get cases of hardship coming up to me day by day, which neither Members on this side nor Members opposite fully realise, and it is a hard task for the person who has to deal with them according to what he really thinks best for the community at large. As I sit there, and as I talk this matter over day by day with those at the office concerned with the administration, and think it over afterwards at night, I am quite clear in one thing. I know that I do not do good by yielding to the first natural, generous motive, any more than I should do by yielding to clamour. As it affects both the life and the industry of the country, it is too important to think of giving way to clamour. When I said what I did about the industry of the 2123 country, I meant it from the bottom of my heart, and also about the insurance. The country has got to go through a painful time yet. I feel very much like a working man I know whose wife had to go through an extraordinarily painful and serious operation as her one chance of survival. It would have been much easier for him to say," Do not do it. Let us see if you cannot get better otherwise." His really difficult task was to say, "Go on. Get through with it, and bear up in the pain." From my point of view, to take that line, which is the line I have been taking, and I propose to take, is not really the less sympathetic, but the more sympathetic in reality, whether I am mistaken or not. Therefore, when people talk of "inhuman" or "lax," they are words which I do not think are applicable to the situation at all.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
1 am sure the Committee has listened with most profound sympathy, especially to the last sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, when, for a few minutes, he allowed himself to wear his heart upon his sleeve. It is a great pity that that very profound consideration which any Minister of Labour can very properly claim from this House did not animate those who sat opposite when his predecessor was in office. We started this Debate for two purposes. One, to find out how far the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I hasten lest the bird should escape—how far the extraordinary statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day really represented the mind of the Government, and how far it did not. The second reason why we put this Vote down to-day was that we wished to know w hat the Minister of Labour was doing, and had done during that prolonged six months of office, because we knew perfectly well that if he had been sitting here and we there, he would have expected us during that very, very lengthy time to have completely cured the unemployment problem. On the first point, we have got full satisfaction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement; I do not know whether he wishes to qualify it or not. I hear he has been changing his attitude.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Pardon me, the right hon. Gentleman has. Whether the OFFICIAL REPORT and the report in the "Times" did his intentions injustice or not, I do not know. He says that the OFFICIAL REPORT and the report in the "Times," both of which I have had looked up, misrepresented him.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
What I said was a "certain "tendency. That was the word I used—not "general." That is what I say. Moreover, I took the trouble to, examine the Press on the subject, very carefully, and there are a larger number of papers which had the version to which I adhere than give the opposite version. There was much confusion reigning at the time, through no fault of mine.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I had no intention whatever of refusing to accept the right hon. Gentleman's word. I heard it myself There was no confusion reigning at that time. My recollection is that of the OFFICIAL REPORT and the "Times" report. I am prepared almost to take an oath under any conditions that the right hon. Gentleman cares to propose, that that was the word he used. As a matter of fact if he did not intend to use that word, and if he says so, I accept it without any reserve. But in justice to my hon. Friends behind me, if that other word had been used, a good deal of the excuse for what happened as the result would have been removed. What the right hon. Gentleman, however, did imply was this. The extract which he read to-day did not begin soon enough. The argument which he put up—and that was the one which disturbed me—I do not know what he says about malingering or anything of the kind—
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Very well. The right hon. Gentleman did not use that word? I am perfectly content to have what is on record. That is good enough for me. What was disturbing was that he seemed to indicate that it was because those practices were going on—a general habit of learning how to qualify for unemployment insurance—that that—and this is his argument—explained why unemployment figures were going up. That was the disturbing thing. That is his argument. It is knit in. I am not going to trouble the Com- 2125 mittee with the quotation, but the quotation must begin at the top of Column 457 of the OFFICIAL REPORT not halfway down, because the whole is a statement of a connected idea. I was listening very carefully to every word the right hon. Gentleman said, and the alarming and disturbing part was that he did indicate, and he did convey, that it was the, conviction of the Government that if the malingerers, if the people who were on the fund who ought not to be on it, were only taken off, the result would be that the figures would show a diminution. That is not true. The first part of our intention is adequately fulfilled. No abler reply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have been made than has been made by the Minister of Labour this afternoon. Those figures which he gave regarding the mining industry is an unanswerable reply. It was the knowledge of those figures, and it was the knowledge of what was behind those figures that agitated so many of my hon. Friends behind me, knowing that pit after pit was being closed in their own constituencies, not because men wanted to go on the fund, but because there was no demand for coal. It was that that made them put fire into their indignation, and their observations as to the expressions of opinion they believed the right hon. Gentleman was expressing
§ Mr. MacDONALD
They had had a very good example from the right hon. Gentleman. I was sitting where my own representative the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) is now sitting, and witnessed that extraordinary scene from below the Gangway. These incidents are not pleasant; they are not becoming. But who is going to cast the first stone? I believe I aid one of the very few men who could do it, because I have never taken part in any of them. I have never countenanced them. I have done all I could to prevent them. As I have already indicated, I regretted it, for it gave the right hon. Gentleman the most magnificent opportunity of getting out of a hole by a backdoor. I wanted to hear him. I think we have been deprived of a tremendous advantage, and nobody knows it 2126 better than the right hon. Gentleman. We have been deprived of a tremendous advantage by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman sat down with that speech unborn. That was the first reason why we have raised this Debate, and we are fully satisfied. The second reason why we raised it was we wanted to get an account of this prolonged six months' stewardship, and what have we got? Really, what have we got? We have been told that the problem is a very difficult and complicated one. Of course, it is. Nobody has said that more than we have. We have been told that the intention of the Government is to reduce the unemployed on the live registers of the exchanges to such an extent that the 4d. extra contribution can be taken off, because the unemployment fund will begin to be on a sound financial footing again. That is the intention of the Government.
Then, no sooner are we told that, and, apparently, that has been forgotten for a moment, than in the most painfully solemn way he assures us, "I see no prospect for months, and years maybe, of our trade getting better." Shipping can only be put on a sound basis after the surplusage of shipping has been worn off. Foreign trade can only be put upon a sound basis again, and the volume required to employ our working people restored after the exchanges have been put all right, and the markets have been reopened again. Like a wise man, the right hon. Gentleman guards his own position. If we, when in office, were to be rushed, he is going to be very careful that he will not be rushed, but he has given us to understand, as a matter of fact, that neither by way of promoting consultation between employers and employed, nor by way of urging trade into a new spirit, nor by way of opening up new markets, nor by way of home development—in none of these directions, which many of us believe provide, at any rate, a certain means of meeting the situation, does he look for any solution. Yet, with all that in front of him, he is under the impression that in a comparatively short time he is going to reduce the figures of unemployment until they come to a point when the Fund will be financially sound enough to enable him to take off 4d. from the extra payments now exacted in order that it may go into the Fund to provide pensions for widows.
2127 This is a very serious situation. The right hon. Gentleman says, "We never said we could cure unemployment." They did. They said it in two different ways. The Prime Minister said, "Give me the power to protect; give me the power to create tariffs, and then I will deal with unemployment." He did not get the power. We all admit—we always hear it from the other side and I give them credit for it—that hon. Members are anxious to deal with the question. So far as intention is concerned, I think, perhaps, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other as between hon. Members on this side and those on the other side. We are all sincerely anxious to do what we can to solve this problem. But may I say to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that I think they do not really understand the situation. Assuming that we are all anxious to deal with this problem, and that we believe it to be one of the most persistent and insistent and uncomfortable calls made upon us to put our heads, our hearts and our intelligences together in order to find a solution, yet right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite say, "We know how it is going to be solved. We know, at any rate, the way in which it is going to be tackled, even if you cannot solve it, and the way by which you can do so much substantial good in the direction of removing it. We can tell you how to do it." And yet, on account of political exigencies, they say, "We will not do if." It is said, "We cannot get Protection. We did not get it in 1923, but we are still of the same opinion." Where is the responsibility which we hear talked about so often by the other side? If hon. Members opposite would fight their battles and take their licking, and come up and fight again, we would think more of this great allegiance which they profess than I am afraid we do think.
At the same time, while they did tell us they could substantially reduce the risks of unemployment by Protection, they did more at the last election. I can only go on my own experience, but all over the country, and certainly in my own constituency, Conservative employers went out in support of Liberals. It was a Coalition platform. The lion and the lamb lay down together and roared together. In one audience they roared 2128 with the voice of one element in the combination, in another audience they bleated together with the voice of the other element in the combination. They equally said, "Elect one or other of us." Conservative employers of labour in my constituency went out on the Liberal platform and said, "The reason why we want to beat this man is that, so long as he and his friends have any influence in the country, trade is bound to be bad, and if only we get a Conservative majority in the new House of Commons, that will bring about a better state of trade. That pledge has not been fulfilled. [HON. MEMBERS: "An anticipation."] It was only an anticipation, but it was an anticipation which was expressed with so much authority behind it, that people accepted it as a pledge.
How could the situation have been dealt with? We are told to-day that the right hon. Gentleman has great belief in electrical development. He has been in office for six months and he says, "I cannot tell you what we have done," but when we were in office they simply bombarded us with question as to what we were doing. They knew perfectly well that we were engaged in delicate negotiations about the development of electrical power; they knew perfectly well that we were seeing experts engaged in private enterprise and private electrical engineers; they knew perfectly well that we were working our own electrical department to its maximum; they knew the whole question was being explored both at home and abroad. They demanded that we should state what was the great scheme which we had in mind. I do not object, but after this it is rather cool of the right hon. Gentleman to come to us at the end of his six months of office and say to us this afternoon, "I ask you to believe my honesty as a very sincere and simple minded man, that I have been working on this matter, and I cannot tell you what is going on, but I hope before the House rises I may tell you something more than I have been able to tell you this afternoon." I hope so too. All I can say is this, that the electrical scheme was very well investigated—not by any means to the end—but I guarantee that if my right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the. Exchequer and the Committee which was working with him had got another six months, the statement that 2129 would have been made from that Box, would not have been to the effect that we hoped to be able before the end of the Session to give some indication as to how far we had gone in the exploration of the subject.
What is the position to which we have come? I am a believer in insurance, but there are certain conditions which insurance ought to satisfy. If a condtion of affairs becomes habitual you cannot insure against it because the whole spirit and science of insurance is violated. If you have one million people unemployed, a considerable proportion of whom—I do not know what the number is—remain out of work not for six months but for two years or three years, with very little chance of getting any employment for another two or three years, then the conditions under which insurance is a scientific and safe proposition are wanting. That is the position in which we are to-day. There is no use carrying on an insurance fund and complacently saying: "We will reduce the number and we will try by applying the whip to give the necessary incentive to the workmen." That is merely a policy of sheer negation and absolute despair. That is the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am sure the right lion. Gentleman will realise that I do not wish to interrupt him unnecessarily, but we have not such a large body of people out of work for two and three years together. The million on the unemployment register represent a number of between three million and four million who are in and out, and the average man has a very much shorter actual period of unemployment in a given year than the right hon. Gentleman seems to indicate. Consequently, the insurance principle is much more applicable to the position than I think the right hon. Gentleman realises.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
If that is so, then the insurance principle is much more applicable than I thought. I am no longer supplied with the daily or weekly figures, but I get my information from my hon. Friends who are following this matter very closely, and I am told from all hands that one of the great trials of unemployment is the number of people, especially young people, who are out of 2130 work for long unbroken periods, and who, when they get employment at all, only get in temporarily. In this argument I am not talking at all as on a party question. One of the most important things on which the Minister of Labour must keep his eye, is to guard against a condition of industry productive of results which vitiate at its very root the whole principle of insurance. Then it becomes systematic and continued relief, and the moral condition which follows from that is horrible, and when he admits that certain moral defects must inevitably arise from this attempt to deal with unemployment and bad trade, he will find that nobody will support him more whole-heartedly than the hon. Members around me.
Take another illustration. My difficulty is that I have so many illustrations showing the absolute negation and self-complacency that seems to be ruling in this matter. I will illustrate it by an observation which the right hon. Gentleman made about Russia. What does it amount to? We are told that before the War Germany did a larger proportion of the Russian import trade than we did; that such is no longer the ease, and that therefore we ought to be satisfied. I am not satisfied at all. If that observation was not intended as a justification, why was it made at all? Certainly it was not made for our information. It was not a detached piece of information such as would be given by a schoolmaster. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman had that in his mind at all. He made the observation to justify and explain the position which he was taking up regarding Russia. He went on and said that Russian trade came to this country only through one narrow neck of a bottle and we could not allow that. Why not?
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Up to now I am informed, we do not require to sue for debt. I am dealing with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour and not with my amusing Friend opposite. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman's description to be true. It. is not quite accurate as a description, but I am not going to quarrel with it. Even supposing it is true, why not deal with it? Is the bottle neck chocked It is not, and no- 2131 body knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that if we could treat Russian trade and the Russian demand, for the purposes of overseas trade credits, in precisely the same way as we would treat France, Italy or any other State in Europe, that bottle neck may be narrow but it is not so narrow that we could not get a lot more trade through it. That is all I am interested in. The position is this. The right hon. Gentleman has got some theoretical ideas as to bow trade ought to be conducted. He has derived them from his own historical position. There are many things in heaven and in earth that are not dreamt of in his philosophy, and it may be—who is going to say?—that when the time comes that there is a better organisation of national industry, there will be more bottle necks. I do not know. It would be a very interesting subject of conversation between the right hon. Gentleman and myself one evening by a fireside, but from the point of view of the man who is presiding over the Ministry of Labour, concerned with the problem of British unemployment and British trade and the grip that Great Britain is going to have upon the European market once normal conditions are established, that consideration is of absolutely no account.
The man who is going to sit at the Board of Trade during the next three or four years, and the man who is going to sit at the Ministry of Labour during the next three or four years, had better throw off all their old preconceptions and all the ideas they have inherited about our past methods of conducting trade. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear. Trade union regulations! "] If trade union regulations cannot be justified, I am opposed to them. That is the trouble. Instead of throwing off their preconceived notions, instead of going on into 1926 and 1927, and 1930, so many hon. Members go back to 1810, to 1750, to the time of the combination laws, and so on. I do not care whether it is Tariff Reform that you have in your mind when you applaud me, or whether it is trade union regulations that you have in your mind. So far as my hon. Friends and I are concerned, if those regulations cannot be justified, then they are wrong. So far as we are concerned, we can justify them up to the hilt, but to come here and say, "I am not going to consider what I can do with the 2132 Russian market and with Russian trade," looking ahead three, four, five, or six years from now, when Germany will be normal, when Russia will be more normal, when Russian currency will be nearer parity of exchange and certainly will be stabilised—the men who sit at the Board of Trade and Labour Ministry and do not take these things into consideration, are not doing their duty to the nation, to whichever party they belong or of whatever Government they may be members, and I am bound to confess—I have been listening carefully to what the Minister of Labour has said—that I am compelled to come to the conclusion that he is very nearly in the frame of mind that I have described.
What have they done for foreign trade? We appointed that Committee which the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) seemed only to have heard of in a very casual way. That Committee was appointed for a very serious purpose, for the purpose of making an immediate investigation, and for a very early report. Not only that, but we appointed advisers. We asked that certain leading men—important men concerned in, and in control of, two or three of the most important industries that would be affected by the settlement of Europe after the Dawes Report came into operation, leading men representing employers, leading men representing the trade unions in those industries—should come as an Advisory Committee and guide us in the matter. What has happened to that Committee? I am told that nothing has happened at all. One of the men who was appointed happened to meet me the other day with a long and mournful face, and he said that nothing was being done now, though the change, so far as an industrial impetus was concerned, was more marked than he cared to confess. The complacency which the right hon. Gentleman opposite showed when he referred to the meetings of employers and employed surprised me. Tie said: "Let them alone; they have to meet again." They have been meeting for 18 months, he admitted in response to the interruption of an hon. Member behind me, but he could not ask them, he said almost with pride, to face the facts. Ought he not to bring them to 2133 face the facts? That is the function of the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "No ! "] If the hon. Member opposite who said "No" belonged to a, laisser faire party, I could understand, but he belongs to a party that professes to believe in the positive influence of the State on trade. Does he only believe in that positive influence when it influences his own trade for good?
So far as I am concerned, I believe in the positive influence of the State. I believe that the State, that the Minister who has got authority, can get employers and employed together, and he, as the representative of the consumer, as the representative of the community, can bring them face to face with facts far more quickly than they will come face to face with facts if they are left to discuss Things alone. They both have difficulties, we know. Neither of them trust each other. We heard yesterday that the corking men do not trust the employers, and there is very good reason for not trusting them. The idea of this great Government that was going on revive trade is to allow those two sides that, by over a century of unfortunate experience, have drifted apart and created a real class cleavage based upon economic conditions, to meet together hostile, suspicious, to meet for 18 months before they come to face the real problems, as sooner or later they will have to do. The conception of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour of his duty is fundamentally wrong. Six months ago it would have been perfectly simple to get the two sides to have met together, with a statement of the public need, and then, when they were faced with the facts by the Minister, you would have had a very much shorter way to any agreement that they could come to. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did not your Government do it?"] We did our very best, over and over again. Indeed, one of the characteristics of our Government was that it did settle, probably, more disputes than any other Government in a like time.
Wise persons settle before a dispute arises, but if anyone imagines that, for instance, the engineering trade or the coal trade has a clear sky right away to the horizon at the present time, I think he is very much deceived. When we came in, we found the difficulties matured, and we had to settle them when the clouds were dark, but we brought the parties 2134 together and settled the disputes time after time. We left the sky clear, more or less[Interruption.]There may have been difficulties in the coal trade, but there was not the position then that there is now, and there was not the division then that there is now. These last few months of abortive negotiations have not improved the situation. Hon. Members take credit for waiting until the clouds gather and the deluge pours on their heads, and say that until the pour comes there is peace. There is nothing of the kind. There is as little peace to-day in this country as when we were in the middle of very serious trade disputes, but there it is. Our first object this evening was to challenge the statement made by Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to remove it from the mind of every reasonable man. That has been accomplished. Our second object was to find out what the Government are doing. That has also been accomplished, and what we find is this, that they are doing nothing, except preparing to reduce the number of unemployed on the live register in order that they may be saved fourpence, so that they may subscribe to a compulsory contributory scheme of old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions. We are perfectly satisfied with what has happened to-day
When the present Government was formed, I understood that the Ministry of Labour was to be made into a great powerful Ministry, with much greater functions than it ever had before. 1 t was common knowledge, and reported officially in the papers, I believe, by the Prime Minister, that the position was offered to the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) instead of that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which everyone expected he would get, because it was going to be the premier post in the Government. The Ministry of Labour was, going to be the most important Government Department, and at last this great problem of unemployment was going to be tackled, and work found for the unemployed. On the right hon. Member for Hillhead declining this post—it was somewhat unkindly said he declined it because he is a Scotsman and the salary was less than that of the other post, but we, who know him, acquit him of that—it was offered to another Scotsman, and the 2135 right hon. Baronet who now adorns the office accepted it. I presume that the Prime Minister still holds this to be a post of great importance, and that he did not, in failing to get the right hon. Member for Hillhead for it, give up his plan of making the Labour Ministry the fighting Ministry, the Ministry with the forward policy, that was going to solve the great problem of the workless of this country. I presume, therefore, when he offered it to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Erdington (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), the intention was that this was still going to be the grandiose Department which was to develop great schemes for the unemployed.
Now, after six months of office, we have had the results laid before us, and I put it to the Committee that they are simply scandalous, that the whole policy of the Government is bankrupt, and that they are taking this matter with reprehensible complacency. They have got used to the spectacle of more than a million unemployed. I do not say that they are hardened to the sufferings of the people, but their consciences are not quite so keen as they were at the beginning of the great trade slump. They are trying to do as little as possible. They accuse my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) with having pursued the policy of oscillation when he was in office, but they themselves are pursuing a policy, not of masterly inactivity, but of miserable inactivity. Their policy is static. We have had, as the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said, not one new thought, not one new idea, from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. In his speech on unemployment at the beginning of the Session, he said something about deep water sites. May I ask whether any progress has been made in that matter? The one new idea that we have had from his Department is this of deep water sites. Has anything been done to develop them? Are any men doing any work preparing them? Has a single scheme been produced by his Department, and accepted by any local body or any great commercial firm, that will develop a deep water site, or was that an idea just thrown into the air, and 2136 nothing further done about it? That is the one new idea that we have had from the right hon. Gentleman, and, apparently, it is an idea and nothing more, because nothing practical has been done in connection with it. Otherwise, we have had a series of platitudes, and the usual sympathy expressed with the unemployed, but that is not good enough.
I ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite to remember that they are a minority Government, representing a minority of the voters of the country. More votes were cast for their opponents than for them, and I wish they would remember that. They were sent into office to find some means of relieving this great distress amongst the great masses of our fellow-countrymen, but they are doing nothing, and if they cannot find a remedy, they had better get out of it. They had better resign and let somebody else try. In any case, I would most earnestly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman—who is rather given to resigning—I think he did it, if I remember rightly, from the Coalition Government—that if he cannot find any remedy for this matter, if he cannot produce some idea, seriously to consider resigning again. I am sure there is some other Government Department where his great abilities would be of great value. They are obviously wasted where he is. I think he is wasted at the Ministry of Labour. He has not yet made that great Department what it was hoped he would. He has not been given any sort of free hand; worse than that, he has been given no encouragement, and no funds to do anything.
We have had one practical scheme put before the country. That was the scheme of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond). He has produced a scheme for subsidising industry by means of the unemployment benefit. At any rate, it is a practical scheme. What are the Government's views about it? Have they looked into it? I understand that there have been two Government Committees sitting, dealing with unemployment and cognate subjects. What is the result of all this? Is the right hon. Gentleman chairman of one or the other of them, or of both? Nothing whatever has been produced as a result of these Cabinet Committees' deliberations. I have a further complaint 2137 to make, and that is, that the right hon. Gentleman does not himself really know in some respects what he is talking about. I am going in some degrees to follow the footsteps of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He quoted the Minister of Labour upon Russia. What the Minister said is grossly inaccurate. It is simply not true. The right hon. Gentleman has read what he gave out in the "Morning Post," or in the Duke of Northumberland's weekly paper, I forget for the moment its name, to the effect that the Russian Government has a complete monopoly of foreign trade. That is absolutely untrue. I think I could name six separate organisations in London, representing six separate entities, trading with Russia. There are these, as well as agencies, and several shipping companies. These, I say, are all separate entities.
It is true that the Russian Government has shares in them, but is that any reason for not trying to encourage trade with Russia? If that is the case, if because the Russian Government has shares in these trading organisations the right hon. Gentleman takes up the attitude he does, then the objections are political and for political reasons he is stopping British trade. In connection with the Overseas Trade Department there is an insurance schedule in which the countries included are set out. Russia has not been included in that schedule. Therefore the merchant who wishes to insure his goods—I am talking about the interests of the British merchants and manufacturers in England of whom the goods are bought—who wishes to insure his goods is precluded from doing so. I say that that is being done for political and improper reasons, because of political prejudice and the spite of the present Government. Consider the performances of the right hon. Baronet in the last Parliament. The only time he intervened in the Debates on Russia was to attack the Russian Government in the interests of the people for whom he spoke. He frankly admitted who they were—the bondholders. On that occasion in the House of Commons he made a contribution to the Debate and spoke from a brief derived from the Association of Russian Bondholders in order, if possible, to bring pressure to bear upon the Russian Government in the interests of those bondholders. 2138 This sympathy for the one, and political prejudice against the Government of Russia is to prevent British merchants exporting British goods, manufactured in British factories, with the existence of the Export Credits Scheme.
For this reason men are walking the streets unable to find work in our engineering and other centres of industry in this country. For this reason, too, young lads and girls who are leaving school are learning habits of idleness that will have a lasting effect for evil on their habits. This matter of unemployment is the most serious thing the country has ever had to face. The results of it are more serious than the Great War because it is sapping the very vitality of our young people, sapping initiative and those habits of industry, energy, and self-reliance which have made this country what it is. These are the qualities that have enabled this little island, with its population that has grown from 10,000,000 to be the greatest and strongest nation in the world. What has been accomplished has been accomplished by certain characteristics of our people. These characteristics are being undermined and jeopardised by this long-drawn-out slump in trade. A portion of that may be relieved, yet the Government refuse to help from political prejudice against another Government, because it has shares in British companies trading in its name. I say that is scandalous. I hope it will be brought before the country. I hope it will result in this Government being thrown out at the next election; of their suffering the greatest possible defeat that a Conservative Government has ever suffered—and that is saying a great deal. I am quite certain of this, that, whatever Government takes its place, would hardly, after six months in office, come forward without anything resembling an idea for the solution of so great a question.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
It is strange that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down should make a point of the Government being a minority Government on votes when the party to which he himself belongs are themselves in a considerable minority in this House. However, I should like just to call the attention of the Committee once more to the speech of the leader of 2139 the Opposition who, as he always does, gave us a most interesting speech. I do not think that it assisted the Debate very much by anything very constructive, but he did make one rather important statement. He said that the time had come when we should really scrap all older gear, and begin with something new. With that we on this side of the House all agreed. I ventured to interrupt the right hen. Gentleman, and to inquire whether he included trade union regulations. The right hon. Gentleman replied "Of course," and turning round to his followers behind said: "I am sure that all hon. Members behind me are in agreement on that point." I waited for some time to hear the cheers that I expected would follow, but the hon. Gentlemen behind the Leader of the Opposition never cheered at all. An hon. Member during the course of the Debate made an interesting contribution by mentioning that two men whom he knew, were very good workers, skilled men, had been obliged to migrate to Australia. The hon. Member seemed to think that that was a very great hardship. I venture to say that that was the best thing that could have happened to these men. I have had a good deal of experience in migration matters perhaps more than any other Member sitting to-day in this House. I can go back for a good many years. For 16 years I was chairman of the Central Emigration Board. During that time I had passing through my hands a very large number of persons, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that the boys and men who went out under the auspices of the Board are doing exceedingly well on the other side. Not one per cent, have turned out failures. I would suggest to the Minister of Labour and to the Government, that this question of migration should be considered more directly in connection with the problem of unemployment
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Labour and the late Government have had this matter in hand? There are 50,000 names registered at this moment of those willing to go abroad, and no arrangements can be made. It is not the fault of the Government here.
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that we have 400 miners registered and we cannot get money to help them out?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
These facts are known to me. The right hon. Gentleman opposite will not suggest that I am speaking without knowledge when I speak about migration. What I do say in regard to the Labour party is that, while right hon. Gentlemen of recent years have been anxious to help migration, for many years the Labour party were the great stumbling block in the way of migration. If they have been converted, as they seem to have been, I am only too pleased to know it. I should just like to suggest to them, and to the right hon. Gentleman who has just interrupted me, that they should go out from this House to the country, and state upon the platforms there to the men they represent what they have said, and tell them what careers are to be found in Australia or Canada for them and their families. It is no use talking about the names or numbers of the people who are registered. That is only because there are so many people who cannot get out. That is the business of the Government. They and the Government overseas should get together, and they will soon find some means by which to overcome every difficulty.
I pass from that question to what is called the "dole." In this connection I am very glad to know that the Minister of Labour is going to institute an inquiry into the administration and distribution of unemployment benefit. There is no doubt that at the present moment it is not exactly what it ought to be. What the hon. Gentleman opposite said is quite true. When the Employment Exchanges were first established in this country, it was thought that they would practically solve any question of unemployment. They have not done so. They are not doing so. The Employment Exchanges want a good deal of looking into. The machinery wants a good deal of oiling. There is need for a good many new methods. I hope the proposed inquiry will do something in that direction. In regard to the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, which seemed to cause a great deal of excitement, I venture to tell hon. Members, whether they like it or do not 2141 like it, that there is growing up a great number of people in this country who, as the Chancellor said, are qualifying for the dole.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I mean deliberately qualifying for the dole. I say there are a great many persons—
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Let me give the Committee one case. Before do that, however, I would like to call attention to a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). He said:Let the Minister of Labour advertise for five men to do work at Downing Street, and give them any kind of work to do, and he will get them".Let me reply to that. My reply is that it is by no means a certainty.[Interruption.]A friend of most of the hon. Members opposite—a gentleman whose hospitality some of them have enjoyed with me at the same time—told me this yesterday. He said: "I advertised for five men to do work in my garden, and with what result? I offered one man &£2 10s. a. week, and he would not take it. He said, ' That is no good to me.'" I will not say what my friend said to him.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
No, he was not a watchmaker. He said to the second man, "What will you take?" and the man said, "I am a skilled mechanic, and I cannot take less than £5 a week."[Interruption.]These, are facts. It is no use laughing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give us the names."] The third man said, "I want £3 15s., and my union will not let me take less."[Interruption.]These are facts. I will give the hon. Member who does not agree with me—
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
No; I am not giving names in the House. I will give them afterwards. That is quite fair. There is one more case, as to which, with all due respect to the feelings of hon. Members opposite, I venture to think 2142 they will agree with me when I say that if it was not a fraud on the dole, it was coming very near it. This was the case of a boy. The father of this boy came to a friend of mine and said, "I see you are advertising an article for sale. You want 1,000. I will give you £700." He gave him &£700 for it. A few days afterwards my friend said to him, "When are you going to take that article away?" and the man replied, "I will send my son down to take it away, as he is going to work it." The son turned up on a motor bicycle, and my friend, who is interested in boys, said, "What are you doing?" The son said, "I am out of work. I have given up the place I had. I did not like it." "Oh," said my friend," that is unfortunate. You ought to be on the dole." "Yes," he said, "and so I am." "Well." said my friend, "what do you do with the money? Your father and mother do not want it. What do you do with it? "Why," he answered, "I have to pay for that motor bicycle. That is what I do with it." [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish ! "] My friend rang up on the telephone the employer of that young man, and asked, "What wage did you pay him when he was with you? "and the employer said, "36s. a week." And remember the boy said he left of his own accord.
I do not want the Committee to be under a wrong impression. This is too important to let it pass. Will the hon. Gentleman give us the name of the employer and of the individual, and I personally &—never mind what the Government will do—will undertake to investigate it? Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that if the thing took place as he says, the officials are to blame, because they are not allowed to give the dole under those conditions?
Exactly That is my point. I began by saying that I was pleased to hear an inquiry was going to be made into these things.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I am giving examples which show why an inquiry should be made. It is no use hon. Members protesting unless they say that what I am saying is not true.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH - COOKE
I do not think 1 ought to do it here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] In the first place, I do not know the name of the employer[Interruption.]I told you that the story was told to me by a friend of mine who was ready to befriend the boy. I have given you chapter and verse[Laughter.]If you do not like that, I will tell you another one. A lady got into conversation with another woman—[Laughter]—another lady, a friend of mine.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Yes, I have, and they speak the truth, and you do not like it. She said, "I have three boys on the dole, or, rather, I had three boys on the dole, but one has got a job. He has had to go a long way off, and he pays 25s. a week for his room. I do wish he had not left, because they were all three together, and we were having a very good time. Now I am afraid I cannot take my youngest boy to the seaside, as I was looking forward to doing."[Laughter.]If you are not satisfied with that, I will refer to another emigration story, Two boys went to Canada. Those two boys were porters on a railway station. [HON. MEMBERS: Ah! "] Now I am getting somewhere near the heart of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. They were two porters on a railway station. Why have they gone to Canada? Not for quite the same reason as the two men the hon. Member told us about who went to Australia, not because they were out of work, for they had plenty of work to do, but they said they could not stay in a country which put up with such a thing as the dole. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why? "] I will tell you why. These two boys had to pay a very high price for a room in the house
§ of a man who spent his time in the garden, sitting out there in his flannels, and drawing the dole. I could go on with the stories.
And numbered I hope—bakehouse stories. [HON. MEMBERS: "Fairy stories I "]
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
No, not fairy stories, I wish they were. I have mentioned these things to show that when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the statement he did, he made it quite fairly. He was right in what he said. There is a great number of persons who are what is called "qualifying for the dole," and some of those persons spend their dole in self-indulgence, some of them spend it in purchasing things which may be useful to them, but they do not all spend it in endeavouring to procure for themselves the necessities of life. Of course, the large majority of people who are receiving the dole do not do this —of course, they do not do this: but if there is a minority, to use the term of the hon. and gallant Member opposite, if there is a minority, even a small minority, surely the time has come when we ought to have an inquiry into the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Act. Therefore, I once more congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour on the statement that he is going to have an inquiry, and I hope that inquiry will go to the root of the matter and be very efficient.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding &£8,359,109, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 111; Noes, 320.2147
|Division No.103.]||AYES.||[8.12 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bromley, J.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Alexander, A. V.(Sheffield, Hlllsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Gillett, George M.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Cluse, W. S.||Gosling, Harry|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Compton, Joseph||Graham, D. M.(Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Barnes, A.||Connolly, M.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Barr, J.||Dalton, Hugh||Greenall, T.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Greenwood, A.(Nelson and Colne)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Day, Colonel Harry||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Broad, F. A.||Duncan, C.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morrlton, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Murnin, H.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hall, F. (York. W. R., Normanton)||Oliver, George Harold||Taylor, R. A.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Palin, John Henry||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Harney, E. A.||Paling, W.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)|
|Haves, John Henry||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Potts, John S.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Vlant, S. P.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfleld)||Rlley, Ben||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ritson, J.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Westwood, J.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Scrymgeour, E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Scurr, John||Wignall, James|
|Kennedy, T.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lansbury, George||Sitch, Charles H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lee. F.||Smillie, Robert||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lowth. T.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Windsor, Walter|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wright, W.|
|Mackinder, w.||Snell, Harry||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|March, S.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Montague, Frederick||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Mr. Warne and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Forrest, W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Allen, J.Sandeman (L'pool, W.Derby)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Christie, J. A.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander, F. W.||Clarry, Reginald George||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Clayton, G. C.||Gates, Percy|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gee, Captain R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Coffox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Balniel, Lord||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Cope, Major WiMlam||Goff, Sir Park|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Grace, John|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington,N.)||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Grenfell. Edward C. (City of London)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Berry, Sir George||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Birchall, Major j. Dearman||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bird, E. B. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cunllffe, Joseph Herbert||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart||Dalketth, Earl of||Harland, A.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Davidson. Major-General Sir J. H.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Brass, Captain W.||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovll)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Sir Thomas (Clrencester)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Brings, J. Harold||Dawson, Sir Philip||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dlxey, A. C.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Doyle, Sir N, Grattan||Henderson, Lieut. Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Drewe, C.||Heneage, Lieut,-Col. Arthur P.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Edmondson. Major A. J.||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.|
|Brown, Mai. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Ellis. R. G.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Elveden, Viscount||Hilton, Cecil|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Burman, J. B.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Holt, Capt. H. P.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Hope, Capt. A O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Falls, Sir Charles F.||Horllck, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Fielden, E. B.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Fleming, D. P.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd,Whiteh'n)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Ford, P. J.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Hunter-Weston. Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Murchison, C. K.||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unlv.,Belfst)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.||
|Hutchison,G.A.Clark (Mldl'n&P'bl's)||Neville, R. J.||Smith & Carington, Neville W.|
|llifie, Sir Edward M.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Jackson, Lieut. Colonel Hon. F. S.||Nicholson, 0. (Westminster)||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Nuttall, Ellis||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Wlll'sden, E.)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Oakley, T.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Storry Deans, R.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut,-Col. George R.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Philipson, Mabel||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Lister, Cunllffe-Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Pilcher, G.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Locker-ampson, G. (Wood Green)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Locker-I-ampson, Com. O. (Handtw'th)||Preston, William||Thomson. Sir w. Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)|
|Loder, I. de V.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Looker, Herbert William||Radford, E. A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lord, Walter Greaves-||Raine, W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Ramsden, E.||Waddington, R.|
|Luce, Major-Gen.Sir Richard Harman||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Lynn, Sir Robert J.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Remnant, Sir James||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rentoul, G. S.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Macdonald, R (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wells, S. R.|
|Macintyre, Ian||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|McLean, Major A.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Ropner, Major L.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Rye, F. G.||Windsor-clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Salmon, Major I.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putnty)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Womersley, W. J.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Meller, R. J.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wood, E. (Chestr, Stalyb'dge&Hyde)|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Sandon, Lord||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich. W.).|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D||Wood, Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Savery, S. S.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D.Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Shepperson, E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Colonel Gibbs and Major Hennessy.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after 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.