§ Mr. DIXEY
I beg to move:That, in the opinion of this House, no money should be taken, allocated, or spent out of the Road Fund for any purposes other than for the purpose of construction, repair, and maintenance of roads and bridges.This question of the Road Fund is of such great importance that it demands the attention of this House. I represent a constituency which is typical of many rural constituencies, inasmuch as its comparatively poor ratepayers bear the burden of a large number of what are termed unclassified roads. My constituents look with feelings of considerable alarm at any attempt to tamper with this specially earmarked fund. I move this Motion with no feeling of hostility towards the Government. I move it because I consider it is a subject which it is to the interest of all parties in the House to have fully discussed, and on which, to my mind, the fair opinion of the House should be obtained. The Road Fund was formed in 1920. Mr. Neal, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, with the consent of the Coalition Government, met a committee made up of members representing the motor industry, vehicle owners and representatives of district councils, and a voluntary arrangement was come to as to taxation for this purpose. May I refer the House to a Debate on the Road Bill at that time? I attach considerable importance to what was laid down by Mr. Neal, who was piloting the Bill through the House, as being the foundation of this Fund. He said:Something has been said as to the absence of Parliamentary control over this fund. This fund is very much in the nature of voluntary taxation of a particular kind. The motorists have consented to raise money by this particular tax on the definite undertaking that the money shall be expended in the improvement of roads. It is a national object which they are helping in that direction, and it is one which is most urgently needed. The roads have to be brought up to a condition to deal with modern traffic, and to be maintained in that condition. Therefore, this fund, specially arranged by taxation of a particular class, is specially safeguarded against its expenditure being diverted from the use for which it is raised to the relief of general taxation. Bearing in mind the difficulties of the matter, I am sure my right hon. Friend would desire to have any assistance that can be given to him in order to see that this fund is reasonably and properly 2036 applied to the purpose for which it is designed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1920; col. 1529, Vol. 135.]My first contention is that the Fund was formed by a special agreement between the Coalition Government and this body of individuals and authorities who came forward quite voluntarily with ideas to the Government, and upon those voluntary ideas this Fund was formed. Before any attempt is made to divert that Fund from those specific purposes I strongly recommend to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that some effort should be made to bring these parties again into contact or, if there is any idea of diverting any part of this money to the relief of taxation in any other form, I suggest, first and foremost, that the whole question of this motor taxation should be gone into afresh and that these parties to the voluntary agreement should be once more brought together and properly consulted and the whole question of motor taxation should be gone into. To my mind it would be highly improper to interfere or tamper in any way with this Fund without some steps in that direction being taken. In addition to the pledge given by Mr. Neal to the House of Commons, I understand there was a further consultation between these committees representing the highway authorities and motor users. A definite pledge was given by a right hon. Gentleman for one of the Birmingham Divisions who was at that time a Member of the Government. It seems to me that it must be for the benefit of legislation that we should, as far as possible, have continuity in the Government of the country, and the decision of one Government on a matter such as this should, as far as possible, be carried out by the Governments that succeed it, and in the interest of continuity of Government it is inadvisable to alter anything that is done in that respect without consultation with the parties concerned.
I should like to draw attention to two or three points in support of my Motion. First of all, I take the position of the highway authorities. I represent a constituency which is suffering very keenly indeed because we cannot keep our roads in proper repair, as our ratepayers have no money. My ratepayers are largely farmers, and I am not ashamed to say I am very pleased to try to help them 2037 to-night. But it is no good, to my mind, talking about relief for agriculture, or credits for agriculture, unless we are prepared to show the farmers that we are going to do our level best to help them with regard to their rates. I say perfectly straightly to the Government that we in the agricultural districts have not had enough money out of the Road Fund. The ratepayers in the agricultural districts cannot afford to pay higher rates than they have to pay at present, and we cannot afford to spend more money on the roads, and if there is this huge surplus in the Road Fund it shows that the Treasury officials have manipulated the Fund to keep something in reserve to snatch at a critical time.
It seems to me very extraordinary that yeti can find any number of roads up and down the country which are unclassified and which have to stand a tremendous amount of motor traffic, and hon. Members' pockets are full of letters from their motoring constituents complaining of the bad condition of the roads. That is because a large number of district councils cannot afford to keep these roads in proper repair. One knows quite well that where you have a main road the Government pay a certain amount of contribution to the upkeep of the road, but where there is an alternative route one cannot get that road made because the Government say, "You have a main road and therefore we cannot make you an alternative road." Despite that fact, these alternative roads, particularly in my Division of the Lake District, have to carry tremendously heavy motor traffic. In the holiday months they carry chars-abane traffic and in the winter months they carry ordinary heavy vehicular traffic. If there is this big surplus in the Road Fund which is not wanted for the benefit of the ordinary roads, some of the surplus might be voted fairly to the relief of the unclassified roads. It is not merely a question of a few hundred thousands of pounds, but millions might be devoted to the unclassified and second-class roads throughout the country.
There is one further point in connection with roads. A large portion of the roads in the very busy holiday parts of the Lake District—I hope the House will pardon my references to my own constituency, but this is a very vital matter there—are dangerous roads. There are 2038 all sorts of by-roads which have to be used. All sorts of bad corners have to be passed, and the reason why we cannot make improved conditions there is because we have not the money to spend in straightening out the corners and making the traffic generally safer. I say to the Government that the first consideration they should give is to making traffic safer and better for the people of this country. Therefore I respectfully submit that the local authorities have a strong and unanswerable case in saying to the Government, "If you have this surplus money, money which was earmarked for a specific purpose, and if you do not want the money for that purpose, you might give it to us to relieve the ordinary taxpayers in our rural districts."
There is a further point in connection with this question, and that is the position of the motorists. It is not a popular thing in this country to stand up as a representative of the motorists. I would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the motorists of this country, according to the arguments of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, the arguments of the doctrine of laissez faire, they are already being heavily taxed. We are told that the whole of the McKenna Duties are paid by the motorists of this country. The solid bedrock argument of the Free Trader is that the consumer pays. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, whom I acknowledge to be an authority on the doctrine of laissez faire, will correct me if I am wrong. According to that doctrine, the consumer in this country, meaning the motoring public, are already paying a large revenue to the Government. Hon. Members opposite assert that.
The motorist of to-day is a very different type of individual from the motorist of years gone by. There are many people—I say this gladly as one who looks forward to the time when, like the United States of America we shall have one in five of our population owning a motor car—who own their own cars, and I think these people have a logical grievance against the right hon. Gentleman or against what the right hon. Gentleman is credited with designing to do. These motorists have paid voluntarily and they have never complained. Speaking frankly as a motorist, I consider 2039 it is wonderful the way the motorists have put up, without a loud shout of complaint, with the state of some of the roads in the country. I represent a district where many of the roads are almost impassable for a car. You jog along from one pot hole to another pot hole and you wish you were anything else but a motorist. It is very creditable the way in which motorists have gone on paying willingly for their licences for their cars, considering the state of some of the roads. They pay very high licence fees. This affects the user of the road very much, because owing to the fact that the licences are so high large numbers of motorists simply take out a licence for the summer months. That means that the motorist apportions his travel not over the 12 months, but within a few months. That is bad for trade and also bad for the user of the roads. The motorists are entitled to say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "If you find that you are deriving too much revenue from the fees you ask us to pay, and if you have a surplus which you do not require for roads, reduce the price of the licences which we have to pay."
A large number of my hon. Friends on this side are not in sympathy with my Resolution, but despite that fact. I feel bound to go on with it. I always fear the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, I understand, is going to reply in this Debate, and that fact makes me the more nervous. Nevertheless, I feel it to be my duty to point out in the Resolution that despite what people may say about motorists they have a real grievance here. The motorist has a right to say that this money was earmarked for a specific object and that if that object has been fulfilled and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is satisfied with the conditions of the roads and there is a surplus, they should have part of the balance. That is an argument which, until I hear a reply, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer deems to mention it, strikes me as an argument of some force.
I want to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the question of unemployment in trade believe that in the full development of the roads of this country, the main arterial roads and the rural roads, we could improve the trade of this country 2040 immensely. We could find a large amount of work for people who are unemployed. In the Debates on unemployment which we have had in this House hon. Members on both sides including myself, have vied with each other in demonstrating to the people how keen they are on the subject of unemployment. By developing the roads, we could produce a great amount of work. If we were to spend some of the millions which are in hand at the present time in the Road Fund in real practical road development, to the benefit of the country, we could find work for very many people who are out at the present time. By so doing you not only improve the condition of the people of this country, but also you improve the condition of trade. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man with strong views and a man whom it is very difficult to shake. In that he is rather like the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. Chancellors of the Exchequer always seem to be very difficult people with whom to deal. I think it is the duty of the Conservative party to represent to the Chancellor that it is his duty to go very carefully into this question with the people who were consulted originally. They are entitled to be called together before any further taxation is entered on, and it is up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get from them proper and adequate information before he decides to take any such action as that which is projected.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
I beg to second the Motion, because it is one which gives the House of Commons an opportunity of voting on a question that is vital to every ratepayer in the country, an opportunity of expressing an opinion on a matter that is not one of vital party politics, and an opportunity on our side of the House of voting on a matter that is not in any sense or shape an attack on the Government. As to the framework of the Motion, it may be suggested by some that in the Motion we are asking the House to declare for all time that the Road Fund money shall be devoted to nothing but roads. Nothing of the kind. What is the present position? Under the original Road Development Act of 1909, followed by the Roads Act of 1920 and the Ministry of Transport Act of 1919, it was arranged by Statute that the present motor taxes should form a 2041 Road Fund, and that the Road Fund should be devoted entirely to the maintenance, improvement and construction of roads, with one further proviso, that sc far as new construction is concerned the Ministry would be limited to taking no greater part than one-third of the Fund. What we are saying now is that the Statute shall remain in force, that it shall not be altered, and that for the time being the roads of this country require every penny of that Fund and more if they can get fit.
I support what my hon. Friend said about the pledge that was given when the taxes were imposed, and I believe it is desirable that pledges given in this House should be honoured. But I do not rely upon them. I take the ratepayers' point of view and not the motorists' point of view. The line that I take, individually, is that I quite recognise that, as circumstances alter, decisions come to by our predecessors may have to be altered as well, and if such a case could be made as that the yield of this motor taxation was so great that there was great extravagance in spending it on the roads, I would support any proposal made to avoid that extravagance. But the case that I make here to-night, on behalf not only of rural ratepayers, who have my special interest, but of ratepayers and all the inhabitants of the country, is that that time has not arrived and that no such case can be made. I will show that every rural and every urban authority, every county borough and county council, is at its wits' end to know how to meet the cost of the maintenance, repair, and upkeep of its roads.
What is the position of the Road Fund? It has been in operation only since 1920, and if report be true—we do not know this—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he is pressed for money, wants to put his finger into this Fund. If we give him leave when he brings in his Budget, what reliance can we have that his successor, or his further successors, may not say, "Here is a nice opportunity of getting a million or two without any trouble. We will dive further into the Road Fund." In 1921–22 the Road Fund produced £12,500,000. In 1924–25 it produced £16,000,000. Owing to the economy that we are practising now, I cannot get the figures for this year; they are not to be got in the Vote Office, though I have 2042 tried there every day. I think we may take it, however, that the receipts during the year that expires in March next will be about £17,000,000. What is done with the money? About £10,000,000 is granted for the maintenance and upkeep of first-class and second-class roads in England, Wales and Scotland; about £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 goes to new construction; about £2,500,000 goes to rural roads, but not for their maintenance—it goes to a system administered by the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport to bring up such of the best of those roads as they can find to first-class pitch, to be taken over as first-class or second-class roads to receive a grant. For this year a further £1,250,000 was granted for the same purpose.
In this country there are something like 140,000 to 150,000 miles of roads. Forty thousand miles received grants out of the £12,500,000 or £14,000,000. One hundred thousand miles of rural roads did not receive, a, shilling for upkeep or maintenance, and it was only by the efforts that we made on their behalf that we forced. I will not say a reluctant Chancellor of the Exchequer, because I believe this Chancellor is with us, but forced a reluctant Government to grant £750,000 to come into operation on 1st April next. We are, therefore, in this position, that there is of this money £10,000,000 which goes to the first-class and second-class, roads. The county councils, who are responsible for main roads, will tell you that it will not pay for more than one-tenth of the roads where work has to be done. The rural authorities, as I have said, are at their wits' end to know where to get money. They have £7 10s. a mile, which is a mere bagatelle. Yet this is the time when it is suggested, as we hear in the distance, that there is to be an attempt made to diminish this money for our roads.
The present road grants represent about 1s. 9d, in the in relief of county rates on the rateable valuation in England, about 1s. 5d. in Scotland and about the same figure in Wales. May I call attention to a further point? Fifteen or twenty years ago, before motor traffic had increased to anything like its present volume, the highway rate in many places ranged from 3d. or 4d. in the £ up to 1s. What is it to-day? It varies from 3s, to 6s. in the £ and is steadily increasing. I have here figures, 2043 not from my own county at all but from Caistor, in Lincolnshire, where the highway rate for the five years 1910 to 1914 averaged 2s. to 3s. in the £, and for the five years from 1921 to 1925 it has averaged about 6s. 3d. in the £. I will read a letter from the council of East Grinstead Rural District, in my own constituency, which is as follows:I am instructed by this Council to bring to your notice the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use the Road Fund for purposes other than road works, and to point out the following:
- (1) That the amount of money available for road improvement and widening schemes is already insufficient.
- (2) That mechanically-driven traffic during the last two years has increased by as much as 300 per cent., and that, having regard to the probable further increase in this character of traffic during the next few years, serious accidents may ensue if road improvement and widening schemes are delayed.This Council submitted a large scheme of road improvement and widening, but owing to lack of funds the Ministry were unable to make a grant to the whole scheme as submitted, and only granted same in sections. … The Council has now made application for a grant for a further scheme (in sections), and such scheme will amount to £35,000 to £40,000.I have here a communication from God-stone Rural District Council's surveyor in answer to one of the inhabitants—this is in Surrey, and I have nothing to do with it—who complained of the injury done by the traffic of heavy lorries. The letter is as follows:The Clerk has handed me your letter, and in reply I am aware of the condition of the road near Waterside, Lingfield, but unfortunately nearly all the water-bound roads in this district are in a similar state, brought about by the recent frost and snow and heavy rains and the traffic of the district. To reinstate these roads will cost thousands of pounds, and even at the present moment the addition of 6d. to the existing highway rate would not be sufficient to cover the expenditure, so what to do I do not know, and I am afraid our district roads will have to remain in a bad condition for some time to come.With regard to the more general condition of the roads, I will take the opinion of the Director-General of Roads (Sir Henry May-bury), of the Ministry of Transport, who in a speech delivered in Harrogate in June last, when there was no suggestion of any diversion of the Road Fund, said:What of our roads? Are we keeping pace with requirements, and what of the costs? That there is a great deal of important 2044 road work going on in the country over a wide area will be conceded, but I very much fear that if the rate of increase in mechanically-propelled vehicles continues the roads will not be sufficiently commodious to accommodate them. A great endeavour should be made that all important roads in rural districts should be improved.He mentions some of the necessary improvements, and goes on:These necessary improvements will be long delayed if they can only be undertaken year by year as financial provision can be made out of the Road Fund and the local rates.I would now call attention to the view of Lieut.-Colonel Prescott, the County Surveyor of Hertfordshire, who says:In my opinion we are only at the beginning of the road problem. It is, I think, common knowledge that highway surveyors cannot even now keep pace with the volume and weight of the traffic on their roads. … Miles and miles of first class roads require widening, strengthening, and resurfacing; second class roads have yet to be tackled on a very extensive scale; and the third class or rural roads have scarcely been touched. Let us unite in bringing together all our forces and in using our influence to prevent the roads of this country from being starved to death.That is the case which I would make on behalf of the rural roads. Let us look at a more general question, namely, the question of taxation. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to reply I ask him to answer this point. I take him to be out for economy and I back him up in that to the utmost of my power, but I submit there is no economy in taking from the taxpayer and adding to the burden of the ratepayer. The ratepayer has to pay rates whether he earns profits or not. The taxpayer on the whole mainly pays taxes out of the profits of years, and therefore although it is against my own interests, I am out for the ratepayer every time, and I protest against the Chancellor of the Exchequer—if he has this intention—coming down with a proposal of this kind at Budget time when we on this side of the House have no chance of opposing him because we do not want to see him displaced. If he has that intention I hope he will think better of it. I ask him whether, having regard to the ratepayers' interest, not only in the rural districts for which I more particularly speak, but in every urban, county and borough area, whether he is going to persist in trying to save the taxpayer at the cost of the ratepayer.
2045 Motor cars are increasing at the rate of 2,000 a week. I believe it is right to say there are 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 motor vehicles on the roads to-day, and I should place the proportion of private cars to commercial cars at about 800,000 private cars and 600,000 commercial cars, and as regards the cars which are called private cars, a large number are used for business purposes. On Saturday I was canvassed by two commercial travellers in a country district each in a motor car. That being the position, I do not think the commercial vehicle—the heavy vehicle—pays enough, but I do say this, that if there is any money to divert from this Fund, in justice, so far as commercial vehicles are concerned, it ought to be given in reduction of the tax that they pay, because it is a tax on the cost of production of our goods, and it is unfairly handicapping the production of those goods in their competition with the rest of the goods produced in this country. I appeal to every Member who is conversant with the ordinary canons of taxation as to whether that is not a perfectly correct view of the case. I believe the Chancellor has some idea that the motor cars, so far as they are private cars, ought to pay something from a luxury point of view. Do not they do it already? I know that my motor car costs me three-halfpence a mile in taxes, which is rather heavy.
The development of our roads, main second class and rural, is a most vital thing, in my view, to the benefit of the whole community. It is, I think—and every Member of the House will probably agree with me—the greatest blessing that we have to lessen our big towns and cities by getting our factories transferred into the country, and that can only be done by motor traffic being able to go backwards and forwards. The greatest advantage I can imagine for a man working in a cotton mill six days a week, in a hot, stuffy atmosphere, is, if he can afford it, to get on a char-a-banc and go for a motor run into Derbyshire, and see the beautiful country. I say that that ought to be encouraged, and that the transfer of goods and the transfer of people is the most social service that we can render. If this Motion is not carried, this House is to be asked to declare that it is satisfied with an assurance given, as I understand, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For my part, I could accept 2046 either the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, or that in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Clifton Brown), which do not alter the effect of the Motion, but when we come to the other Amendment, we are asked to rely on an assurance that the Chancellor is not going to give out of the Road Fund less money than we have had before. He could not give less to the rural roads, and I hope somebody may speak on behalf of the county councils and the big municipal boroughs, and say what they' think of that proposal in regard to their roads. Lastly, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to believe that he is going to cause political death to a lot of my friends who sit for some seats that never returned Members on our side before, if he sacrifices the rural country ratepayer in order that the taxpayer may benefit.
§ Mr. GEOFFREY PETO
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House, being prepared to accept the assurances which have already been given, that the amount of money assigned to the upkeep of roads, and particularly of rural roads, will be increased and not diminished, and wilt not be a fixed but an expanding amount, and also that a wider measure of discretion will be given to local authorities in their expenditure, is of opinion that it should await the full statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government in accordance with constitutional practice.9.0 P.M.
I move this Amendment in no spirit of hostility to motorists or to motor traction on the roads—I, myself, have owned and driven a car for 23 years—but because I think the Motion is extremely badly timed, and also because I consider that the administration of the Road Fund needs a very serious overhauling. I do not think I need say much more on that point than the Proposer and Seconder of the Motion, who have absolutely condemned the administration of the Road Fund as far as it affects the minor roads of the country. With regard to the timing of this Motion and the bringing of it on to-day, I always think that on these Private Members' nights we have a distinct element of sport. First of all, there is the excitement of the ballot, and then a lucky winner, who does not always think himself lucky. At any rate, the winner of the ballot has the choice of what covers he 2047 will draw, and what old fox he hopes to get away. I notice that Members on either side as a rule prefer to draw the covers on the opposite side of the valley, but to-night, for some reason, we are drawing the home covers, and we are drawing them at an unfortunate time, because this is a season when we do not wilfully hunt a vixen, and just now, for very much the same reason, there should also be a close season for Chancellors of the Exchequer.
It would be highly improper and most unconstitutional for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reveal the secrets of his Budget to-night, even if they are sufficiently prepared for him to be able to do so. In my humble opinion, he went a very long way in reply to a deputation a fortnight ago. He gave that deputation enough information, I should have thought, to remove their worst anticipations, although I am afraid he has not removed the load of care off the shoulders of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). It is no good; we cannot continue to press the Chancellor at the present moment. Where are we going to end if we start private Members' Motions on Budget questions in anticipation of the Budget? We all hope, I am sure, that the Income Tax will be abolished in the next Budget, and the tax on tea, and the tax on beer, and many other things, but if we bring these forward as separate Motions, on private Members' nights, it is obviously treating the House in a farcical manner, because we know we cannot get any declaration from the Ministry. I think this Motion has been brought forward owing to an agitation that is going on throughout the country, and that agitation is, to my mind, ill-founded. It is simply an intelligent use of catch-words, such as "Raiding the Road Fund." We, on this side, have a strong dislike to the idea of raiding anything. Hands off the Road Fund. The very words "Hands off!" act as a sort of battle-cry again and again to hon. Members opposite. Look at the literature that is being sent out. I have here a booklet on the subject—I am afraid I did not have time to read it—issued by the "Municipal Journal." I looked up Somerset, and found:If the country council is deprived of the assistance of the Road Fund, it is stated 2048 that an approximate rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound will be required to make up the deficiency.Who in the wide world suggested that the Somerset County Council is to be deprived of the assistance of the Road Fund? It has never been hinted in any quarter, and one can imagine nothing less likely, and yet people take the trouble to print and circulate this sort of thing free to Members. It is a particularly unfortunate time to bring in this Motion because we, at any rate, on this side, and I think most Members in the House are anxiously awaiting an Economy Bill. Economy is essential to a return of prosperity to trade in this country, and we should do all we can to support it. Yet immediately the suggestion is made that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to control expenditure on education or to check more closely the administration of the Road Fund, up goes a scream of protest from interested parties. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. Anything you did for economy would be bound to touch a certain number of vested interests and I think it is the duty of everybody who has economy at heart to support the Government in the measures they introduce for economy.
Then with regard to the Motion itself, I should like to ask the Proposer and Seconder, does the converse hold good if no money is to be taken out of the Road Fund except for the construction and repair of roads and bridges? If that be accepted, will those who contribute to the Road Fund undertake to maintain our existing roads out of the Fund? If so, I think from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, there is a great deal to be said for the proposition. Having heard the speeches of the Proposer and Seconder, one would almost gather that the motor-users were paying for the roads. As a matter of fact, they are paying about 27 per cent. That is all that the Road Fund represents to-day. In America they are paying from 50 to 75 per cent. If they accept that argument, well and good. If not, their attitude is extremely one-sided and illogical. If the Road Fund is intended to pay for the roads, then road-users should be sufficiently taxed to pay for them, or else the Road Fund is only a part contribution to the roads. The greater part of the cost is borne by the 2049 community at large, and, therefore, it is the community at large that is entitled to dictate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer what shall be done with Ike Fund. The coat of the roads was £15,000,000 in 1910, £25,000,000 in 1919, and £50,000,000 to-day, and the Road Fund pays about £15,000,000. They are net nearly paying for the increase due to motor traffic on the roads.
There is another thing which I dislike about this Motion, and that is that it is unlimited as to time and circumstances. In all circumstances, does this hold good? Supposing the Income Tax goes up to 10s. in the pound, are we still to be making these great motor roads? Supposing the beer tax goes up to 1s. a glass, are we still to go on tunnelling under the Mersey, the Severn, the Channel, and any other suitable obstacles? Then we are told to-night that there has been a pledge given to motorists. I think even the Mover of the Motion agrees that it is not usual for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be bound by the policy of his predecessors. I do not suppose right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they ever return to office, a calamity which I trust will be long deferred, would undertake to be bound by the financial policy of this Government. There is another aspect of this so-called pledge to motorists which I think is generally overlooked. There is another class of road-user with another form of licence. For many years I took out licences for horse-drawn carriages. The wording is somewhat peculiar—"Carriages drawn by horses or mules with four or more wheels." We all know that horses and mules have legs and not wheels, but I do not suppose a modern Ministry of Transport would know a little detail like that.
At any rate, for years we have paid our carriage tax, and for years that money went into the general fund of taxation of this country. Then, all of a sudden, in 1919, I believe, you got a Ministry of Transport, and without a word of apology or a "by-your-leave," away goes the licence money of the horse owner, and it is plunged into the motorist's road fund—a gross injustice. There are some of us who live in country districts where horses and mules can still be seen. We hear 2050 of these great London motor tracks, Out what chance have my mule and I of ever reaching the promised land flowing with bitumen and liquid cement? We can never get there, and even if we could, how is my mule to stand on its legs—or wheels—on the treacherous, greasy surface? And if pledges, why not pledges to dog owners? We pay taxes, and why should not the money paid for the dog licences go to research work in distemper, and so on? Then why should the beer-drinker not go to the Chancellor and tell him what is to be done with the tax paid on his glass of beer'? We do not want to see these watertight compartments with different forms of taxation. If we are not careful, we shall drift into the principle of one tax one Ministry. We have a Road Fund; therefore, a Ministry of Transport. I pay another tax, a tax on gardeners, and I have a fear we may find a Ministry of Arts started for landscape gardening because we pay a tax on gardeners.
Another argument that has been used is that the Road Fund relieves unemployment. I believe that, as far as that is true, it is all to the good, but the bulk of relief of unemployment comes from the Unemployment Grants Committee. In any case, I would much prefer to see unemployment dealt with in the Ministry of Labour Vote, with the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so that we may know where we stand. I think it is a great mistake to mix up these different things. Money for unemployment, I think, should come under a separate Vote. I should like the Road Fund to take: its proper place in the Finance Bill; then we should have a fair chance of discussing it. Do we realise that during the life of the Ministry of Transport it has only twice come up for discussion on Supply days, once in 1920—just after it had been started—and once again in 1925. On the last occasion, we were only allowed a three hours' discussion, while for the rest of the evening we were compelled to discuss on Electricity Bill, which did not even exist! If we can get the Road Fund into the Finance Bill, then we shall all have a fair chance of finding out what it is, where we stand, and of criticising it.
The Minister of Transport, when the Ministry was originally started, controlled 2051 the railways. When it ceased to control the Railways, the Ministry immediately started to try to build up on an utterly uneconomic basis heavy road traffic in competition with the railways. There, I am sure, is where a very great waste of money comes in. I see a good deal of the traffic on the Southampton to London road through Winchester, and on the Bristol to London road, through Bath. These gigantic lorries go through beautiful towns shaking the buildings to pieces and paying an utterly inadequate sum towards the cost of maintaining the roads. If the motor lorry were made to pay fairly in the way of taxation it could not possibly compete against the railway line running alongside the road, except where a door-to-door delivery is of vital and urgent importance. We are subsidising from the Road Fund, and the ratepayers are subsidising at the present time, this uneconomic road traffic. If the lorries pay their fair quota—and I am glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to deal with the question—if they only pay a fair tax, then the heavy traffic would again very largely return to the railways, and the result would be a reduction of expenditure on the roads which would benefit the ratepayers and a reduction in railway rates. In both these cases it would mean that the change would be of great benefit to trade, the farmers, and others.
I note that in the North of Ireland they have just increased the tax on heavy lorries from anything between 100 per cent. to 233 per cent. A motor lorry weighing 5.5 tons and upwards now has to pay £100 tax against our £30 tax. Take the chars-a-bane. There again I should like to see every vehicle run for profit examined and tested as to its capacity. The driver, too, should be tested as to his skill and health before he is allowed to take charge of a char-a-bane full of passengers; otherwise he is not only imperilling lives but also perhaps considerably damaging the roads. That is a Measure that the Minister of Transport ought to have brought in long ago. I welcome the promise that has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the sums available for road maintenance, and to give greater freedom to local authorities, by which I understand the removal of the present extravagant 2052 percentage grants. The present position is hard on the local authorities, and the suggested re-arrangement will be helpful to them. We cannot afford to pay these great motor taxes. We rely upon the Chancellor to deal with the Road Fund as well as all other expenditure, so as to secure fair and proper value for its expenditure, and a fair distribution of the money.
The present position reminds me of a story from "Punch." It is about a little girl who went into a butcher's shop, and was asked by the butcher what she wanted. The reply was that she wanted a motor-car and other things. "But," she added, "it is not what I want: it is what mother wants; mother wants 4d. worth off the scrag end." That is the position to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is in the position of the head of a household who has under her control a lot of extravagant children. It is for the right hon. Gentleman to see that the revenue collected from the State is laid out to the best possible advantage without extravagance on the part of anybody. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) wrote a letter to the "Times" on 12th February in which he said:It is clearly desirable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, irrespective of party, should be free to make such use of all available resources as he believes to be in the national interest.'That is, I say, descriptive of the proper position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is a good deal more in the letter which, personally, I do not consider to be sound. We want to see a reduction of the rates and taxes. From that point of view I consider and welcome the assurances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and will await their fulfilment in due constitutional season.
§ Colonel CLIFTON BROWN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am at some loss how to proceed. My hon. Friend behind me the Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey) has spoken to the Motion he has on the Paper. The hon. baronet the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) told us that it did not matter, and he proceeded at once to speak to some other Motion—
I came to the conclusion that the hon. baronet was speaking to the Amendment which we have on the Paper. There is one little point I should like to deal with and that is the question of rates. We have been told that the Highway rate before the War was 2s., and that now it was 6s. I have the figures of the rates for 1919–1924. The payment for highway roads is about £303000,000 a year, and there has not been, therefore, a very great increase in the expenditure on roads. The question of pledges was raised. When these pledges were given I was in the House, and I regard them with great respect. The only comment I have to make is that in 1919 we made a great many pledges, some of them wise and some of them unwise, and many of them cannot now he fulfilled merely because conditions and times have altered. Nobody would suggest that they should be and I submit that here is a pledge which, owing to the growth of the Road Fund and the changes of conditions which nobody then foresaw, makes it impossible for anyone to expect that it should be fulfilled. In 1919 the present Foreign Secretary, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, estimated that the gross receipts from this source would be £8,000,000. As we know, that figure has more than doubled, and very likely will be trebled in a year or two. Nobody can suggest that all this money should be allocated to the roads.
The Seconder of the Motion spoke about economy. It is always curious, when economy is spoken about in the abstract, that it is so popular, but whenever you begin to apply it, there are a thousand and one reasons why it should not be applied to various things. It is said that the Road Fund is necessary in order to keep down the rates. What happens? The Ministry of Transport has induced the county councils to expend large sums by paying 75 per cent. of the cost, and they have left on their hands large new roads which require upkeep and expenditure. Although there may be a grant from the Ministry of Transport, there is an increased expenditure left upon the roads permanently on account of that new work. The only way to get economy is to get down to the root causes of expenditure. That is what the Chancellor of the 2054 Exchequer is proposing to do, and he is perfectly right, in the interest of the country as a whole. It seems very unreasonable that we should not, when there is a large sum available, take what we can for the taxpayer.
This Road Fund has been raided ever since it has been started, and why should the Income Tax payer not have a chance of raiding it as well as every other class? The City of Liverpool managed to scoop £2,500,000 out of it. Surely the taxpayer and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have a perfect right to see that, in the interests of national finance, this Fund should be supervised, so that they can see how money is expended from it. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have the general support of the country behind him in this case. What would be the position if this Motion were passed? The hon. Member for Penrith would be able, to go to his constituents and say, "I fought for the Road Fund; I kept it intact, and I enabled money to be spent on building a bridge over the Forth, on building a tunnel for Liverpool, on making a road from Glasgow to Edinburgh, or a road from Dover to London." But he would also have to add as an after-thought, "I have not been able to return any money to the Exchequer, and quite likely your Income Tax is higher than it need have been because of all this other expenditure."
There is only one further word I want to say. We hear of this Fund being under Treasury control. It cannot be under any real Treasury control because it is earmarked for spending and for nothing else. There is no chance of making any saving of any kind. I submit that it is a very serious thing when you have a Fund which is rapidly mounting up to a sum that is half the cost of our Army, that the Treasury and the Government should have no control over it, and no way of checking how it is expended. I think it is of the highest importance that the Government, by the means the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests, should take power to control this Fund and to say that, just as other services must be trimmed down to the bone, so also the Road Fund must be scrutinised and trimmed down to the bone. On this question my Friends and I will support true economy and will not allow ourselves to be led astray by false theories put forward 2055 by certain hon. Members who are on this occasion supported by the Labour party.
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
While the last four speeches were being delivered, some Members on this side of the House, myself included, have been wondering whether it is a real battle that is taking place on the other side or only a sham fight. Some of us have lively recollections of very similar speeches which have been delivered by Members representing agricultural constituencies on that side of the House; but when it came to the acid test of the Division Lobby, they all turned out to be nothing more than hot air.
A point that has not yet been made by any of the four speakers on the other side is that this is not merely a threat on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but something which is operating already. Since August last no money has been paid out from the Road Fund for new undertakings in this country, or for any improvements, and local authorities are already at their wits' end to deal with abnormal unemployment. During the time the Labour Government were in office several schemes were prepared, and hon. Members now on the other side of the House continually twitted the Labour Government about them, asking how much longer they were going to be before they put them into operation. Those schemes are still in abeyance. If I had time, but I do not want to take up time, I could enumerate the schemes, but hon. Members opposite do not now appear to be at all concerned at the reason why they are now being definitely held in abeyance, and why local authorities have been informed, to use ordinary language, that "There is nothing doing." I suggest that the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer solves no problem at all, and that he is really playing the old game of shifting the burden from the State to the local authorities. The more poverty-stricken a local authority is, the heavier is the burden placed upon it.
Another point is the breaking of specific and definite pledges which have been given. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), speaking in this House on 24th September. 1909, said:May I point out that not one penny of this money will be touched for Exchequer purposes. … The money raised will all be 2056 spent upon the roads of the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th September, 1909, col. 901, Vol. 11.]On 27th April, 1920, Sir Eric Geddes, then Minister of Transport, said:Unlike any other part of the Budget, this is a specific Act to assure a specific revenue, to be devoted to a specific object. It is to raise, roughly, £8,000,000 a year. For what? From whom? From road users for the improvement of the roads."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1920; col. 1134, Vol. 128.]Mr. Arthur Neal, who was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in 1920, said:Motorists have consented to raise money by this particular tax on the definite understanding that the money shall be expended on the improvement of the roads.The last quotation I will make is from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Transport, delivered in this House on 30th March last year:What the House ought to bear in mind is that the Road Fund is a national fund instituted for the purpose of maintaining and improving the main communications of this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1925; col. 996, Vol. 182.]Hon. Members opposite are now trying to say, "Well, after all, there are ways of getting round these pledges." Supposing the predecessor of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer were sitting on that Treasury Bench now, and it was the Labour Government which had proposed to break these specific pledges? What would the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite have been like then? Is it not easy to picture the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer being entertained to dinner by some motor association, delivering one of those wonderful speeches about the treachery of the Labour Government in threatening to rob the Road Fund, and finishing up with one of those eloquent perorations, in which nobody in public life in this country can excel him, appealing to all honest men to get together to prevent such things?
May I give the House some figures? I am sorry the hon. Member was so anxious that we should stop spending more money on the roads and get back to the happy days of mule transport, has now left the House. I will take the figures for the last five years. On 1st August, 1921, there were 828,220 motor vehicles licensed in this country, and five years later, in 1925, 2057 that number had increased to 1,475,829, an increase of 78 per cent. If we delete motor cycles and hackney carriages, and take only private motor-cars and commercial vehicles, the figures then become—in 1921, 372,000, and in 1925, 805,000, an increase of 116 per cent. These are the circumstances in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, according to the information the public have recently got, has decided to call a halt to improvements and developments in our road system. I will venture to repeat a sentence from a speech delivered by Sir Henry Maybury, Director-General of Roads, who has probably forgotten more about transport and roads than the Chancellor of the Exchequer is ever likely to know. Speaking at a meeting of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, held at Harrogate on 25th June, before any suggestion had been made about diverting the Road Fund, Sir Henry Maybury said:I very much fear that if the rate of increase in mechanically-propelled vehicles continues, the roads will not be sufficiently commodious to accommodate them.'He added:The necessary improvements will be long delayed if they can only be undertaken year by year through the financial arrangements the Government have made by the Road Fund and the local rates.I put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues, Is that statement from the Director-General of Roads true, or is it not? If it is true, what has the Minister of Transport to say? Is the Minister of Transport content, in view of that statement by his own Director-General, whom everybody everybody looks up to as the authority on the roads of the country, to remain dumb while the Chancellor of the Exchequer plays ducks and drakes with the Road Fund? One at least of the hon. Gentlemen on the other side who has taken part in this Debate seems to consider that there is very little opposition to this proceeding on the part of the Chancellor. It is my information, and the information of every other Member who has taken any interest in the subject, that every local authority in the country from Land's End to John o' Groats is opposed to this proposal. I hope the speeches which two hon. Gentlemen opposite have delivered to-night will bring good cheer to the hearts of the local authorities in their constituencies when they read them to-morrow. On 2058 26th November, 1925, the following resolution was passed at the Roads Transport Congress:That this Congress, representing 715 local authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, emphatically protests against the diversion of any part of the Road Fund from the purposes for which it was originally established, and for which it is urgently required.I hope the local authorities who passed that resolution will closely study to-night's Division, if there should be one.
In a recent speech which the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered in the provinces, I think at Leeds, he referred to Circular 1371, the education economy Circular, as the first ship of the economy fleet to put to sea, and said it had met with a rather stormy reception, that it had been battered, and that it had temporarily put back into dock for necessary repairs. Meantime, Memorandum 44 has gone out to do some scouting. If the education Circular and this Memorandum was the first ship of the economy fleet, then I think we are justified in saying that this is the second of the economy fleet. The first ship they put out to sea in the economy fleet was in charge of the President of the Board of Education and it had a very stormy passage. In this case the Chancellor of the Exchequer is on the bridge himself and the Minister of Transport is merely accompanying him as the cabin boy.
§ Mr. MORRISON
If the first economy ship does its duty then, of course, all educational improvements must cease, and if the second ship does its duty then we shall have no more money for road development. The more hon. Members on all sides get a, clear idea of what this policy means the better it will be. It is no good calling this economy because it is not a policy of economy at all, but a policy of stagnation.
§ Major CRAWFURD
I am sure the House will be with me if I say one word of commendation in regard to the speech of the hon. Member who proposed this Motion, more particularly gallant in view of the circumstances in which he is placed. I would like to make a comment on the remarks made by the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. G. Peto), whose opposition to this Resolution was 2059 apparently based on the argument that it was inopportune, and in support of that contention he regaled us with metaphors from rural and sporting life and he told us that there was a close season for vixens, and there should be a close season for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This reminds me of those who have been engaged in studying more modern things and of researches that are now being made in regard to an obscure line of medical science called the determination of sex, and it seems to me that it is something of that sort which the House is considering to-night. The hon. Member who has just sat down made several quotations in support of the theory that the present position of the Road Fund is the result of a pledge, or a series of pledges given in the past. I am sure we shall all agree that there are circumstances in which pledges given in the heat of electoral stress or Parliamentary situations may be, if not disregarded, at any rate watered down, and in the particular case of the Road Fund these pledges were disregarded with universal consent during the war period. I would remind hon. Members, and particularly hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House, that this particular matter has been the subject of perhaps more repeated pledges than any other matter which has -come under the consideration of Parliament, and the members of the present Ministry are particularly involved in this. In spite of the most careful researches, I have not found that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has committed himself in this sense, but certainly the present Foreign Secretary made it perfectly clear that the then Opposition, the Conservative party with which the right hon. Gentleman is now associated, would not have consented to the tax on motors if it had not been perfectly clearly understood that it was to be used purely for road purposes.
Then there is the present Home Secretary who time and again on quite a dozen different occasions, the last being as late as October last year, has used the phrase so often used in this connection, that this tax was in the nature of being a voluntary tax. He is one of His Majesty s Ministers who was entertained by the motor community 2060 at dinner, and on that occasion he said:This tax was in the nature of a voluntary tax agreed to by motorists on the understanding that it, was to be devoted to that particular purpose.In spite of that we a-re told that the proposals which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is considering do not rest upon the question of a pledge given by him or anybody else. This is not an economy measure but a measure for further expenditure. May I submit one or two small considerations to prove my point? Take for instance these facts. If you are engaged in opening up a new road through a congested local district I am told that of the money expended as much as 90 per cent. may be paid for land, buildings and compensation, and only 10 per cent. may be spent upon the actual work involved. If, on the other hand, you carry out a road improvement under the provisions of the Act passed last Session dealing with road widenings, if you carry out a road widening, you may only pay 15 per cent. for the land and buildings and 85 per cent. on the actual work of the construction of the road. If road improvement, road construction, road repair, and road maintenance is going to be diverted by the action of the Government it is perfectly obvious that for the same expenditure of money in the future we shall get a great deal less in the way of improved road transport in this country.
I am told that if you take an average road not very well made up, and not made with the best materials, the annual cost of maintenance is something in the neighbourhood of 2s per square yard; but if you take the same road properly made up with the best materials, including all the capital expenditure the annual cost of maintenance is only 1s. 6d. per square yard. So that the effect of these proposals is going to be to keep back the reconstruction of roads, and consequently it is going to throw upon other local authorities in this country an increased charge for maintenance in the future for every yard of road that has to be repaired. If you take the figures given by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) and consider their effect you are simply putting an intolerable burden upon local authorities, and this will have the effect of deliberately holding up road improvements.
2061 I am told that if you compare the cost of the upkeep of roads before the War with the present cost of upkeep, taking into account the increased charges for wages and material, you will find that those roads which have been assisted from the Road Fund, in spite of those increased charges, cost less to-day than the same roads cost before the War, and this shows that the expenditure on roads for these purposes and upon road maintenance is not an extravagance but an economy. We have not only to consider the effect on the local authorities who will have to pay increased charges, but we also know that the effect, in the long run, will be to stop road-making. We have also to consider the effect on road transport itself. If you take, for instance, a commercial lorry, which may cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of £1,000, I believe it is an average figure that on good roads, with average care, a lorry of that kind may be expected to give good service for about 10 years. If it is run on bad roads that period may be reduced to 4 or five years, so that the saving per annum on that head alone would amount to £85 per year in the case of every vehicle. That, of course, affects the cost of transport, it affects the cost of commodities, and in no sense of the word can it be regarded as an economy or as a help to trade.
There are, however, much wider considerations, and I would like the right hon. Gentleman, if he is replying to the Debate, to give replies on one or two considerations of this kind. Take, first, the urgent need for the planning of new arterial roads through neighbourhoods that are not yet developed, and, secondly, for planning new arterial roads through neighbourhoods that are developed. I believe the London Traffic Committee held an inquiry only a few weeks ago into the congested condition of traffic in the neighbourhood of Finsbury Park, and the conclusion they came to was that that congestion is simply and solely the result of neglect in the past, whereby a crowded area had been allowed to grow up without such arterial roads running through it to carry the traffic. If the right hon. Gentleman has his way, and if road construction in this country is checked or stopped, new congested areas are going to grow up—new places like the Elephant and Castle and Finsbury Park, great 2062 bottle-necks which will prevent the free flow of transport. That is going to be the first evil effect. Apart from the definite ill effects which are bound to follow, there is the holding up of other improvements that might have taken place. I ventured, as long ago as last May, to make in this House a suggestion to the Minister of Transport to the effect that a part of the Road Fund should be used to provide a capital sum for much needed reconstruction of our roads, particularly in crowded centres. I am very pleased to see that the right hon. Gentleman's colleague, the Home Secretary, speaking on the occasion in October last to which I have already referred, said this:Why should not a loan of £20,000,000 be raised for the provision of new roads, and the surplus above the present need of £15,000,000 to £17,000,000 be applied to paying off that?10.0 P.M.
I go further, and say that, if the Road Fund is allowed to be kept for the purposes for which it was intended, and if you take £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 a year and capitalise it from the Road Fund, if; would be possible to get from £75,000,000 to £80,000,000 with which could be carried out much needed improvements in the roads. That would go some way towards solving the present problem of unemployment and it is a contribution which the Government might have made to that problem. I do not know what is going to be the fate of this Resolution or of the Amendment, but I hope very much that the House will be allowed to come to a decision upon the one or the other. The hon. Member who moved the Resolution referred to his fears in meeting such a doughty adversary as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I well remember that, when the Ministry of Transport Vote was being discussed, there was a chorus of criticism from hon. Members opposite, and particularly from the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten), with regard to rural roads and other purposes for which money was wanted. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman cannot have been spending a very happy evening to-night, and he is regarded as mild in comparison with his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I think it is perfectly clear that, not only in the country, but in this House, there is a large volume of opinion 2063 against the making of this change which the Chancellor of the Exchequer contemplates. I hope that, whatever else happens, the House will be allowed to come to a decision on this matter, and that hon. Members opposite, who are, perhaps, receiving to-night also their first lesson as to the real function of a private Member, will not, on this occasion, at any rate, be bullied into whitewashing the black sheep of the Government, and will take their courage in both hands and will take him into the Lobby with them.
§ Sir EDMUND TURTON
As one of the Members of the deputation to the right hon. Gentleman, I desire to take this opportunity of thanking him for the extreme courtesy with which he received us, and listened to our arguments. But I am afraid I cannot quite congratulate him upon the reply he gave us in answer to those arguments. The hon. Member for Frome (Mr. G. Peto) was good enough to suggest that this Motion was in his judgment inopportune. On the contrary, I think we are indebted to the hon Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey) for having taken this opportunity of bringing the matter before the House and allowing us to impress, so far as we can during his absence, upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer our views in regard to it. The hon. Member for Frome suggested that, because we have now arrived at a time of the year in hunting circles when you do not hunt a vixen, this Motion ought not to be brought forward. As an old master of hounds, I quite agree that we do not hunt vixens at this period of the year, but what we do look out for is a travelling dog fox. We are in hopes that we shall run the old fox to ground to-night, and we shall not dig him out unless on certain conditions.
The hon. Member for Frome also ventured to suggest that the Somerset County Council—which is the county council operating within the county borough of Frome—was not of much importance in this matter. The whole of the county councils throughout England and Wales are absolutely unanimous on this point, that it would be lamentable if their activities were in any way curtailed, and if any portion of this Fund were diverted from the object for which they want it. I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer 2064 is not present at the moment, because I think we are entitled to know from him the figures which he suggests he is prepared to give us in the forthcoming year or 18 months. According to the figures which I have been able to get out, I think he will not disagree with me when I say that the total amount given for the classified roads, for grants to the rural district roads, the £500,000 for poor places, and the 2750,000 for helping bridges, comes only to £12,250,000. We have every reason to anticipate that the total amount that will be raised from this tax will be at least £17,250,000, and while, of course, we are not entitled to ask the secrets of the Budget, yet when the right hon. Gentleman holds out the promise that it shall not be less than we have had in the last year, I think we are entitled to ask, does he intend us to understand that that will only amount to £12,250,000? If so, we want to know what he is going to do with the other £5,000,000.
I have promised that I would not occupy more than 10 minute, but I do want to put this point of view to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his advisers. It is the most wasteful kind of economy to stop this necessary work. We have today something like 40,000 miles of main roads. Of these only some 10 per cent. have been reconstructed at the present time. To-day, because they are not reconstructed, we are obliged to pour in tons upon tons of tar macadam and other road materials for repairing. Any road engineer will tell you that, you are pursuing an extremely wasteful course in regard to this matter. The roads, unless they are reconstructed and have proper foundations upon which you can lay the road material, do not last three years, whereas it is well known that when a reconstructed road has a firm foundation, properly laid and trade, it will last for 10 years at least. I do want also on behalf of the county councils to guard myself against saying that we are going to be limited by any assigned revenue whatever. We do not consider we are to be bound by that particular amount. We have always protested on behalf of the town councils that we were entitled to go to the Exchequer and get from them such sums as we ought to have, and which are necessary to be pail, and I do not hesitate to say on behalf of the county councils of England and Wales that this proposal would be a most lamentable thing, and would put back all the necessary works 2065 that we are doing. Indeed we cannot stop. We shall be obliged to go forward, and that will be a very heavy burden on the ratepayers, which is unjust, immoral and wrong.
§ Mr. WILLIAM GRAHAM
The difficulty of this Debate is that it must be conducted to-night in the absence of any knowledge of the precise proposals which the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to introduce, and we can only proceed in a discussion of this kind on the statements which have so far been made, and endeavour to put certain points of detail, and I trust also of broad principle. This controversy, as the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) made perfectly plain, dates from the Development Act of 1909, and was embodied in a, definite form, particularly in Section 3 of the Roads Act of 1920, when this Road Fund was established and when there was incorporated in the Act what appears to be a definite understanding, if not a contract, with the State. But whether we call it a contract or not, it must be perfectly-plain to every Member that it was clearly laid down in that important Act of Parliament that the whole produce of these Motor-car Duties for, at all events, a considerable time ahead, would be specifically allocated to the maintenance and improvement and provision of new roads. It is undeniable that in the intervening time there has been a remarkable development of the motor-car industry in Great Britain, and I suppose nobody in 1920 could have foreseen that there would be apparently at the disposal of this Parliament the very substantial sum which we are discussing to-night.
One point of important principle is involved. I gather from the replies which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has offered to the deputations which he has already received on this subject that at no time can the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Treasury in this country concede the principle that there is to be specifically allocated from revenue large sums to any particular task, and that those sums are to be beyond the reach of financial adjustment. In other words what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has attacked in that connection is anything in the nature of an assigned revenue. Let me make it perfectly plain that I speak for 2066 all my colleagues on this side when I say that we have no affection whatever for assigned revenues in the State. Undoubtedly anything in the nature of an assigned revenue is so much bondage for the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, but in this connection there is a complete reply to an argument of that kind, because even if we admit the very large increases which have taken place in this Fund, it remains true that we have enormous arrears to discharge with the extra amount at our disposal, which can be put to economic use with greatly increased results.
What does the Chancellor of the Exchequer propose to say to the taxpayer at the present time under this proposal? As I understand his scheme, he proposes to say to the local authorities and to the road users in this country "We shall not diminish the amounts which we intend to place at your disposal, and in point of fact we may even increase them, but we reserve the right to take for the general body of taxpayers in Great Britain such sums above the provision of the amount in this year or any succeeding year, which sums presumably may amount to three, four, or five million pounds, or to whatever number of millions it may be." At the very best it must be a very limited gain for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but against that limited gain of an immediate character we have to set the obvious disadvantages that this proposal involves.
But before we come to the disadvantages at all let us suppose for a moment that any proposal of that kind was embodied in the Finance Bill in this country. What would it mean? It would mean that you tear up for all practical purposes Section 3 of the Roads Act of 1920, in that you at least limit the contract embodied in that Act, and you would then land in this position as regards taxation, that you would be taking from a certain class in the community, using a certain article on the roads of this country, so many millions in specific taxation for general purposes, which I venture to think is not a principle that any student of finance can for a moment defend. If it is proposed to tax people under some new head of taxation, then clearly it is our duty to make it part of the ordinary Income Tax practice of the country which, at all events, has some relation to ability to pay, 2067 whereas in the controversy in which we are engaged the appropriation of so many millions of money from a special source for general purposes might not be related to ability to pay at all. So that when we begin to analyse it from the point of view of taxation this is in every way a dangerous proposal for the Treasury to adopt. Turning to some of the obvious disadvantages of the scheme, there is little doubt that it will react almost immediately on the motor-car industry and upon domestic transport in Britain.
Hon. Members in other parts of the House have made it abundantly plain that there are, first of all, great arrears in road maintenance and development which need to be undertaken. There are further innumerable roads which are in a state of disrepair. The motor car traffic proceeding over those roads at the present time—and we are depending to an ever increasing extent on internal motor transport—is finding the cost of maintenance very largely increased owing to the condition of the roads. Assume for a moment that we restrict the improvement and development of these roads—and that policy is already in progress—to that extent we handicap an industry of very great and increasing importance when other schemes of rural development are considered. That is one element of this difficulty
All who remember the discussions on the Roads Act, 1920, and more particularly on Section 3 of that Act, will agree that there was a very definite understanding that there would be the growing produce of this fund and that the motorcar industry would get the benefit of it, and that the great increase in the number of motor cars of all kinds in use in Great Britain would march side by side, so to speak, with the increasing resources at their disposal. That is a very important principle to which I think the House might well direct its attention to-night, because, in effect, if this idea of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is adopted it is a reversal of that very definite understanding of 1920, and a reversal in circumstances which in no way justifies it. There must be an immediate reaction upon the whole motor-car industry, and I go so far as to say that in certain parts of the country, where you have manifest dangers on your roads at present, you must restrict the demand for motor cars and 2068 kindred vehicles, so that you will tend also to restrict the yield of the duties by a device of this kind. That is the first line of immediate loss in this proposal that the House ought, to keep in view.
There is another, and I think a much more human proposition. All our authorities, in reviewing the problem of unemployment, have with considerable regret directed attention to the fact that since the conclusion of the war we have expended about £250,000,000 in unemployment relief for little or no tangible asset to which you and I can point to-night. I agree that that vast expenditure has to some extent created a little purchasing power within limits, but it has been poured down the drain, and you have not created anything it respect of it at all, or at all events anything worth having. Here on the other hand is a department of our national effort in which you have been trying to use certain public resources in a time of stress for the purpose of providing immediate employment, and also for the purpose of giving you an asset of very great value in general economic development. In the past four years, as the official statistics of the Ministry of Transport have made plain, you have spent in this connection £34,000,000 in wages to men who have been engaged either in the construction of new roads or in the maintenance and improvement of existing roads, and the capital value of the work in which they have been engaged has been put as high by some authorities as £54,000,000. I agree there is the qualification that some part of that still remains to be overtaken, but in any case could we have a finer illustration of an endeavour to put the most economic face upon a difficult enterprise in time of stress?
There is not the least doubt that if the fund is limited or restricted, if this artificial element is introduced and progress is arrested, one or two things immediately become plain. What is going to be the saving under that head, for the sake of two or three millions of money, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer or to the local authorities? Surely you will either continue to pay unemployment donation, with your State contribution thrown in, as against the Chancellor's saving or you will in Poor Law relief throw a greater burden upon local authorities. That is precisely what is happening every day in 2069 this country at the present time. That leads me to the third part of my remarks on the proposal now under discussion. It is utterly impossible to divorce this proposal from the general tendency of Government legislation and Government proposals in regard to the broad problem of the relationship of the State to local expenditure. Hon. Members behind me have referred to Circular 1371 and Memorandum 44 in connection with education. Unless these services in education, roads and the rest are to be restricted—our case is that they cannot be restricted with safety under existing conditions—we must face an increasing burden upon local authorities in Great Britain. That is our statement of the position.
What is the attitude and what are the circumstances of our local authorities? First of all, we have a group of necessitous areas in this country who are imploring the Treasury at the present time for assistance, and whose case is under investigation. They demand some relief from the burdens placed upon them, burdens which we say have been unfairly placed upon their shoulders. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may stave them off temporarily, but there is not the least doubt that accommodation of some kind for these distressed areas must be offered in the near future. Here is an aggravation of their problem. On the general question, we raise from local rates about £160,000,000 a year in Great Britain, £142,000,000 of which are raised in England and Wales. That sum is twice the pre-War burden of local rates in this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer embarks upon a proposal of profound and immediate importance for the local authorities, because wherever these dangerous and inadequate roads exist, the pressure is most urgent and most acute in the locality, where the people are hard up against the accidents which occur from time to time. If this fund is to be restricted, the local authorities must face bigger obligations, and you got no benefit in the reduction of local rates.
That leads me to my final proposition, that a device of this kind is intended to relieve the ordinary taxpayers in Great Britain and so to encourage industrial recovery. That is the theory underlying the speeches of the Chancellor 2070 of the Exchequer. You gain absolutely nothing if you impose that burden upon the local authorities, because the ultimate thing that matters is the aggregate burden you have to carry. When you analyse that aggregate burden, surely there is no hon. Member who is familiar with economic and financial problems who will dispute for one moment that a local rate is a more serious burden upon industry than a national tax. That is plain. The local rate is much less closely related to the principle of ability to pay. It may be that only a handful of millions of pounds are involved in this proposal, but the whole scheme and principle of the thing is of vital importance to 44 millions of people in this country. Accordingly, on the terms of that plain and simple analysis, I suggest that there is no economy whatever in the suggestion, and that, on the other hand, there is dead loss. On those grounds, I feel that the House would do well to adopt the proposal of the hon. Member who moved the Resolution.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Winston Churchill)
This has been a very instructive and, indeed, enjoyable Debate, and no part of it has been more instructive, and, I will add, more enjoyable, than the lucid, terse, well reasoned and moderate speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. But the right hon. Gentleman admitted, with his usual candour, that he suffered under a great disability, that he was attacking a fortress which had not yet been built, that he was discussing a question which has not yet been proposed, that he did not know what the Government were going to do, and that, consequently, however sincere his will, however great his abilities, he was somewhat hampered in delivering an attack. That really is the case which the Government have to meet. The position is not disclosed, the case is not before the House. I am certainly not going to be guilty of such a constitutional breach as to go into the merits of the question on behalf of the Government to-night.
The Debate has been useful in bringing out many opinions. I make no complaint on behalf of the Government that the Motion has been placed on the Paper. I make no complaint at all of the speeches 2071 that have been made. But I think that if this Debate—the speeches in which the Government will carefully consider and study, and which has afforded a good opportunity to Members in all parts of the House to express their opinions—if this Debate were to go further and take the form of an expression of the opinion of the House in a Division, that would be a matter of which the Government would be entitled to complain, and to complain on grounds which do not affect a single administration or a particular Minister, a particular Bill, a particular Session, but which are of a general and lasting character.
It would be an innovation in our Parliamentary practice if, after rumours had been set in motion, because things had been put into the newspapers, because reports and stories had been circulated about what the Government may do, or will do, or are likely to do in some forthcoming Budget, it was held that the House of Commons could come forward and endeavour to put barriers in their path and to circumscribe their actions before the case has been stated, before a proper Parliamentary occasion had arrived. That would be an innovation, and it would be an innovation which any Government would be bound to ask its supporters and friends to resist. The financial situation, I am assured from many quarters, is both difficult and complicated, and from time to time I am told that it is awful and hopeless. However that may be, whatever be the difficulty both in regard to the consideration of the general field of expenditure and in regard to the consideration of our resources of revenue, at any rate that situation will not be adequately or satisfactorily dealt with if it is dealt with piecemeal, either by the Government or the House of Commons.
What we have to look for, if we are to do what is best for the country, best for the interests of all the people in the country, at the present time, is a comprehensive solution, and we have to try to find that solution with a general picture of the situation in our minds. If we are going to veto "raiding the Road Fund" to-night why should we not also proceed to veto "raiding the Sinking Fund" to-morrow—or touching the Income Tax, or the duties on beer and 2072 tobacco, or the Death Duties, or any other of the sources of revenue? If the whole ground is going to be marked out in advance, then I say the difficulties of the financial situation as far as the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are concerned will be enormously increased. If we are to find the whole field cumbered with the barbed wire of Motions and Resolutions of the House of Commons when we get to the moment of making our proposals to Parliament, it will be very hard indeed.
I am told I am exposed on every side to criticism. Minatory notices are put up on every side—"hands off "this and hands off" that![HON. MEMBERS: "Keep off the grass!"] Yes, I am warned to keep off the grass and my hon. Friend below the Gangway wishes to run me off the road. Other hon. Gentlemen are eager to threaten me with being warned off Newmarket Heath. It is hard enough in all conscience to solve the problems with which we are confronted but it would become utterly impossible, if at every stage we were to be faced with anticipatory vetoes, restrictions and limitations, which would either mean that we were precluded from taking actions which we might consider necessary to propose to Parliament, and which Parliament might subsequently consider it right and proper for us to propose, or on the other hand put into a position, bad for the Government and bad for the House of Commons, of violently overriding some decision which had been come to formally on the Floor of the House.
No, Sir, I venture to submit that such a procedure would be altogether injurious and damaging both to the Government and to the House of 'Commons, and still more damaging to the general public interest. If we were going to have these limitations upon our right to propose to the House what we think best—I am going to make a very startling proposition to the House—it would surely be much better that those limitations should be prescribed by the House with some knowledge of what the case was, and what the Government proposed to do. If the House on such an occasion, without knowing what was the financial situation, without knowing what were the remedies which the Government were prescribing to deal with it, without knowing the whole case, without even knowing the particular plan in regard to the topic now 2073 under discussion, were to take a decision, I am sure the House would not do justice to itself. Nor would it do justice to the Government if it were to judge the matter without even hearing the case stated on behalf of the responsible Administration. We do not condemn the meanest criminal unheard. Even the travelling dog fox, to quote the vulpine analogy of my hon. Friend the Member for the Frome Division (Mr. G. Peto), would be entitled to a fairer run than that.
The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment said that he was not attacking what the Government were going to do; he was only criticising what I was credited with designing to do. I submit that to attempt to censure in advance an Administration, not upon what they are doing, but upon what they are credited with designing to do, is a proposition that is outrageous, monstrous, and inherently repulsive to the breast of any fair-minded man. Please give us a chance to state our case, and how can I state the case about the questions, the very difficult and complicated questions, connected with the Road Fund to-night? How can I discuss how much should be given to rural roads, how much should be given to these great arterial roads, in what way the taxation should posed so as to allow for a proper increase, having regard to the growth both of the Fund and of the services requiring to be fed from the Fund? How can I deal with all these matters to-light? How can I explain the policy of the Government—and the Government have arrived at decisions in principle upon that policy—upon this subject to-night?
I should have to reveal the Budget two months before the day it is due. This tender plant, which is now growing in a carefully guarded hot-house, would have to be dragged out prematurely, exposed to all the seasonable severities of our ferocious climate. And we should not only have to expose the Budget, but to take one particular fragment of the Budget, and, tearing it violently from its context, commend this mutilated object to the favour of the House at the tail-end of a Wednesday night's debate. If I were to do so, it would be unfair to me and to the Government, but would it be fair to the House? How could the House decide, in the 20 minutes which are left to it, even if I were to unfold the few poor secrets 2074 we yet preserve? How could I expect the House to make up their minds upon them, and to give due consideration to them before the decision takes place? The procedure would be absurd, and is it not much better for us to adopt the regular, constitutional procedure which the House has been accustomed to follow for so many years?
Let us see what is that precedure. First of all, it is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to study the financial situation, with a view to the annual Budget, during the whole course of the year. For this purpose he is equipped with the highest possible technical assistance, and for this purpose he is also armed with the best information which is available from every source. Then, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arrived at conclusions, it is his duty to submit them to his colleagues, and, ultimately, to the Cabinet as a whole, and it is the duty of the Cabinet, who, after all, represent many different points of view, to examine, criticise and canvass his proposals, and either approve, disapprove or modify them. It is then the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to open the Budget to the House of Commons, but he does not do that until the Cabinet has made up its mind what, in its honest judgment, is best for the country in all the circumstances which prevail.
The right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), the other day at Question Time, asked rather an illuminating supplementary question. Nearly all the most valuable admissions made by people are unconscious. He suggested that, before the Cabinet considered these matters of the Read Fund, before they attempted to come to any conclusion, they must, first of all, obtain the opinion of the House of Commons. That is a complete inversion of all our constitutional procedure, which is all based on the decision of a Government as to what is right, and the decision of Parliament upon the proposals of the Government. The right hon. Member for Platting, no doubt, had in his mind some future Government in which he might be forced to take part, in which there would be some anterior power, whose approval would have to be gained before any particular proposal could be put on the agenda. We stand on the old procedure.
2075 When the Budget has been opened on the responsibility of the Government of the day, there begins the duty of the House, and the House, which has always regarded finance as its central business, as, indeed, it is the means by which this House has obtained its great power, has carefully prescribed the most elaborate procedure for examining every detail of the Budget of the year. There are the Resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means on which the Budget is introduced. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Road Fund?"] I have not the slightest intention of being diverted. There are the discussions in Committee and on Report, and when all these stages have been gone through, as everyone knows, the main part of more than two months of the Parliamentary Session is occupied in the discussion of the Budget.
Every opportunity will be afforded of examining every aspect of this question, should it be included in the Budget, in the regular procedure, and I suggest to the House that it is far better to take a decision at the right and proper time, with full information, than to seek to prejudge difficult questions without any opportunity of the facts being laid before Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Road Fund!"] I have already said that nothing in this world, no threats, no appeals would induce me to stray for a moment into the subject of the merits of the Road Fund. I am strictly relevant to the question at issue, the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Frome.
There are some hon. Members on this side of the House who will say "How are we to express our anxieties, how are we to warn the Government, of the dangers which we foresee if they act in a sense of some of the rumours which are printed in the newspapers?" To that I have a simple reply. They should warn the Government in every way except by carrying a formal Motion to-night. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) drew a distinction between a Vote against the Government on a Motion like this, and a Vote against the Government in the course of the Budget. I dare say there are some hon. Members who will say: "Suppose 2076 we do not agree with your plan when it is presented, will it not be much harder for us to vote against it on the Budget than now?" Again my answer is fairly simple. It is undertaking a far greater responsibility for a Member of Parliament to condemn the Government unheard than it is to condemn the Government when their full case has been stated at the right time. The one is an aggressive, unkindly departure from constitutional usage; the second is the discharge of a regular Parliamentary duty. I am addressing these arguments to supporters of the Government rather than to their opponents. The Opposition naturally wish to drive the. Government into a corner, and, naturally, wish to drive the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the position where he will either have to commit some disreputable financial lapse, or propose some extremely unpopular tax. That is the reason why they raise these standards of menace on this side and on the other, while every avenue is carefully fenced off and barred with the red flag. If the supporters of the Government were weak enough or foolish enough—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member will read the Amendment before the House, I think he will see that it is relevant.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
—were foolish and mean enough to be drawn into these sort of traps, they would be accounted thoroughly justified in having exposed the weakness of the Administration and its supporters, and would, no doubt, be duly, rewarded for their shrewdness.
All I can say to our opponents is, let them have confidence in the procedure of the House of Commons. That is no weak rod on which to lean. The procedure is ample. Nothing can be passed through this House that is not thrashed out until every one is sick and tired of it. As far as the Government is concerned, and its supporters, I would say let them have confidence in the Administration; give them a reasonable measure of confidence. I think a year ago, almost to a night, a Motion on a private Members' evening was put on the Paper by Conservative Members, requiring the Government, 2077 most imperatively, to introduce a Measure of widows' pensions that- very Session. We had been working already for many months on a system of widows' pensions. [An HON. MEMBER "The widows were weary waiting for them."] They were not waiting for them so wearily as they were when the hon. Gentleman's supporters were in power in 1924. The position of the Government was one of great difficulty at the moment, because their supporters felt very keenly on the subject, and they were utterly unable to disclose what their plans were.
The Minister who replied made a speech, rather like the one I am making to-night, in which, without actually saying the door was open, he gave the impression that it was not entirely shut. Yet, when the time came, so far as those who supported this Motion—and there were many on this side of the House—were concerned, they found full satisfaction of their wishes, and that the Government were carefully considering all the information and views which reached them from every quarter. It may well be that when this Road Fund policy is put before the House of Commons—if it should be put before the House of Commons—the apprehension which is felt to-day in this quarter or that will be fully met, and that in its proper place, in its proper situation, in regard to the general financial problems with which we have to deal, our solution of these difficulties will be found to be harmonious and satisfactory.
But if I urge the House to-night not to commit itself, or to try to fetter and hamper the Government in regard even to the proper promulgation of their plans—if I ask them not to commit themselves in that sense, neither do we desire them in any way to commit themselves in the opposite sense, nor do we desire that any Member who votes for the Amendment should be committed to approval of the policy of raiding the Road Fund, of touching the Road Fund, or having anything to do with the Road Fund. Everyone who supports the Amendment will be perfectly free to take whatever course his Parliamentary and public duties may require him to take when he knows what are the facts. The issue, is not whether the Road Fund should be raided, or whether the Road Fund should be sacrosanct; it is simply 2078 whether we should adhere to the Parliamentary procedure enjoined alike by unbroken tradition and by obvious common sense, and on that issue I must make it quite clear that His Majesty's Government entertain a decided opinion.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has treated the Party to which he gives his financial wisdom with, I think, the contempt and derision which they well deserve. At any rate, those who introduced the Motion will now have an opportunity, after the expressions that fell from them, to show at least their constituents, and the hard-pressed local authorities for whom they spoke, what they think of the bantering attack which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made both upon them and upon their local authorities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the position is not disclosed, although those who moved the Amendment have pretended that they have received assurances. After the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement I do not know, and I do not know anyone in the House who knows, what those assurances may be upon which that Amendment was put forward. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has tried to make out that this issue, like all other questions of taxation, is to be left finally for settlement at the time of the Budget, but there is a difference between this matter and an ordinary question of taxation.
Upon this issue definite contracts have been made, definite pledges have been given, and it is the duty of the House of Commons not merely at Budget time, but at all times when contracts are threatened, to put up some effective defence: and I warn hon. Members opposite that later on, when proposals are made regarding contracts on the National Debt., they may then remember the point now made—that it is quite free for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make what arrangements he- thinks fit and, through his Budget, to bind the party that supports him to the attitude he has taken. I hope those who submitted the Motion will be warned of the danger that confronts them.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think this is a matter an which the House should decide 2079 whether or not it wishes to come to a vote on the Question. I propose to put the Question to the House.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 142; Noes, 230.2081
|Division No. 30.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Haslam, Henry C.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillary)||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barr, J.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hurd, Percy A.||Simon, Ht. Hon. Sir John|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kelly, W. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Buchanan, G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Cape, Thomas||Kirkwood, D.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Clowes, S.||Lee, F.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lindley, F. W.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Compton, Joseph||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Connolly, M.||Lunn, William||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Mackinder, W.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||McLean, Major A.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Macquisten, F. A.||Waddington, R.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R.||Maxton, James||Warne, G. H.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Palsiey)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Webb, Rt. Hon, Sidney|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Westwood, J.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Naylor, T. E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Owen, Major G.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenall, T.||Philipson, Mabel||Wragg, Herbert|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Young Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Groves, T.||Remer, J. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Ritson, J.||Hayes.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Briscoe, Richard George||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Brittain, Sir Harry||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Albery, Irving James||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Centr'l)||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cope, Major William|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Couper, J. B.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bullock, Captain M.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Burman, J. B.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Caine, Gordon Hall||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Campbell, E. T.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Balniel, Lord||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Bethell, A.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Chapman, Sir S.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Christie, J. A.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Blundell, F. N.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Clarry, Reginald George||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Elveden, Viscount|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||England, Colonel A.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Sandon, Lord|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Savery, S. S.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Loder, J. de V.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Looker, Herbert William||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Luce, Maj.-Gen, Sir Richard Harman||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Skelton, A. N.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||MacIntyre, Ian||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macmillan, Captain H.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Gates, Percy||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Smithers, Waldron|
|Goff, Sir Park||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Grace, John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Margesson, Capt. D.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Grotton, Colonel John||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Merriman, F. B.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Hanbury, C.||Moles, Thomas||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Harland, A.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Tinne, J. A.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Nall, Lieut. Colonel Sir Joseph||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Neville, R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. Exeter)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Nuttall, Ellis||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otlty)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Penny, Frederick George||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Hogg, Ht. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Pielou, D. P.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Pilcher, G.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Preston, William||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Radford, E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Raine, W.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Ramsden, E.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Rentoul, G. S.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.||Ropner, Major L.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Con'l)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Rye, F. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Salmon, Major I.||Colonel Gibbs and Major Sir|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Samnel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Harry Barnston.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
|Adjourned accordingly at Nine Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.|
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.