Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £18,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, to provide for guarantees in respect of Exports of Goods wholly or partly produced or manufactured in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
Perhaps it would be convenient to the Committee if I explained at once the reason for this Supplementary Estimate. The Export Credits Department guarantees the payment of bills of exchange drawn by British firms on foreign buyers of British goods. From time to time bills of exchange when they become due are not met, and then the Government guarantee comes into operation; the Government has to implement the guarantee by finding the money. Afterwards, the Government recovers as much as it can, in some cases all the money it has put down. The bill of exchange is often met some time later than its due date. We try to estimate very closely, but in the case of bills of exchange, which fall due from day to day, no one knows when any particular bill of exchange will or will not be met, and it is impossible for us to give any accurate estimate in the beginning of the year of how much we shall have to find in cash and how much we may recover by way of salvage. In the beginning of the year we only put down the amounts we were certain of. In the original Estimate hon. Members will find that the Department reported that it would require in respect of guarantees a sum of £50,000, but that we should receive back about £40,000 as the result of postponed payments, salvage, or recoveries.
In the meantime other guarantees had to be made good, increasing the total to 1100 the amount of £103,000 in all; that is the amount we were thinking we should require up to the end of March, 1926. In the meantime, instead of the Department being able to get back and set off against this £103,000 a sum of £40,000, it has been able to salve a much larger sum, namely, £75,000, and instead of asking the Committee for the whole of the £53,000 I have to report that we have received £35,000 more than I thought we should receive, and that at the present moment we have £35,000 towards the £53,000, so the additional sum required is as shown, only £18,000. In order, however, to proceed within the limits of the law I have to come to the Committee and ask their permission to pay out £18,000 as shown on balance; I cannot take that £18,000 out unless I get the permission of the Committee. Although I am asking for £18,000 as a Supplementary Estimate, we have no reason to doubt that part will be afterwards recovered; but not before 31st March, 1926. Therefore, until I recover whatever I can by way of salvage I am bound to ask the Committee to allow the Department to carry on the payments as we show in the Estimate.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
The statement which the hon. Member has just made with regard to the book-keeping of the transaction is perfectly clear, but after his statement in the Debate last week and the answer he gave in the House on the question of trade with Russia it is only natural we should require some additional information as to the way in which the export credits scheme is being worked. It is very interesting to find from an Estimate like this that the Department of Overseas Trade has definitely provided for implementing the sum which it has guaranteed for goods produced or partly produced in this country, but when the Secretary to the Department asks the Committee to vote the sum required he tells us that certain of the guarantees have to be met because there has been default in regard to certain bills of exchange. Having regard to his statement and his reply in reference to trade with Russia, I think he should tell the Committee exactly in what countries such default has occurred.
One of the points we have been putting forward is this: that there is every ground to suppose from the actual experience of many people engaged in trade that if this 1101 Export Credits Scheme were extended to cover transactions with Russia every obligation entered into by Russia in this respect would be met. When the Secretary argues, as he did last week, that Russia has on trade balance a large credit in this country which ought to be used, I think he should also tell us whether there has been a similar trade balance available in this country to the credit of other nations with whom we have transactions which have been covered by the Export Credits Scheme. If he cannot show us that, then his argument with regard to trade with Russia falls completely to the ground.
From his reply to me the other day, he seemed to be without knowledge of this fact, and so for his information I will tell him, that there are a large number of business transactions taking place to-day directly between British producers and Russian traders through the Soviet licence institutions and other means, and many of these transactions have now covered the whole period for which the bills were drawn by the Russians. Up to the moment not a single bill has failed to be met on the day when it was due. That is very good ground for our asking that we should have an extension of the Export Credits Scheme to Russia, The Russians have proved to us their bona fides in regard at any rate to present trading transactions between this country and them.
We ought also, to ask, although the Minister seemed to think that it was out of order, what is the total amount which has been guaranteed under the Export Credits Scheme up to the present? Next, what is the total amount which is in default? I gathered that the sum for which he is asking is what his Department estimates will be required by the end of the financial year. They think they will salve a good deal of the outstanding commitments. What is the total of the outstanding commitments?
There is one other point of considerable interest. Our experience in connection with export credits was that very large sums were guaranteed, and guaranteed in respect of propositions put to the Export Credits Committee, and then not taken up. How many applications for credits this year have been approved, and then for some reason have not been taken up? We ought to have this information before we proceed further.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
It would perhaps be better if I replied to each of these questions now. I was on the Export Credits Committee for several years, and I am acquainted with the working of the scheme. Speaking from memory, a sum not less than £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 of credits had been brought before the Committee for sanction, and about £29,000,000 was approved by the Committee, whereupon those concerned proceeded to try to get orders, for they knew that they could get their orders financed. But eventually exporters only made use of about £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 of these sanctioned credits. They have finally come to the Committee and taken up orders to the extent of only about £6,000,000, speaking from memory. Certainly another £1,000,000 has been sanctioned. Upon it transactions have not yet been carried through, but I think they will be carried through. Therefore, you may say that there is from £6,000,000 to £7,000,000 worth of business—certainly over £6,000,000 and probably nearly £8,000,000 will be the result. When our exporters find they can get financed through the Export Credits Scheme, the banks and other firms are induced to look more favourably upon a proposition, and they say "Well, if these very careful people who compose the Advisory Committee under the Export Credits Scheme will give this advantage to these exporters, we ourselves are encouraged to do it in a way that we would otherwise not do."
About £6,000,000 has been used for export credits, and about £1,000,000 more is sanctioned and can be taken up. That is my reply. The hon. Member asked me also what is the amount outstanding on the guarantees. I assume he means bills of exchange which have been guaranteed by the Government and have not been met when due and are still unmet. I think that in all, up to about 31st December, the amount is £510,000. But of that £510,000 we have salved and paid into the Treasury £275,000, so that the net amount still to be recovered, the amount which the Government will be called upon to implement, is £225,000, and that is in course of recovery. We shall recover some of it. That is solely in respect of guarantees under bills of exchange.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how much has actually been written off as irrecoverable?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The amount that is already written off as irrecoverable on guarantees is the small amount of £20,000 or £30,000. I did not want to disclose it because more losses will take place. We have received in the way of commissions or premiums, for business that we have done, a sum of over £100,000, which is in the Treasury's possession. We thus have a reserve fund. The bills fall due from day to day and from week to week. It is a running account.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Some must be, otherwise the scheme would not have come into operation. One of the chief reasons why the scheme was called for was that other people would not take these long dated and consequently risky bills. The consequence is that, in order to stimulate industry, we have to take these risky bills, some running over long periods. [Interruption.] Hon. Members should not be angry with me. There are bound to be losses under the scheme, otherwise the scheme would never have come to be needed. The point with regard to Russian credits I hope the hon. Member will not ask me to go into again, for we went into it at one or two o'clock in the morning on Tuesday last. None of these bills of exchange upon which we have had to implement the Government guarantee is in respect of transactions carried out with a British firm and a foreign Government which controls the private trade of its subjects. Any operation with Russia would have to be carried out with the agents of that Government. The Russian Government does not allow private trading. I am not going to discuss that point, nor do I wish to be controversial.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
A great deal of trade is being done directly with the Russian co-operative organisation, not in 1104 any way agents of the Russian Government, but an ordinary economic and industrial organisation.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have my own strong views about the question, and if I went into the subject I would only cross the t's and dot the i's of what I said on Tuesday morning. I hope the hon. Member will not press me for the names of those for whom we have had to take up overdue bills, because I might injure the credit of our own people. I am perfectly willing to tell any hon. Member in confidence what the names are, but I do not want to make public any information that might do injury. The two principal losses which are dealt with, and of which we expect to get back a considerable amount, are, one a firm in a Far Eastern country, and another a firm in the colony of a European nation.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
With regard to the figure of £220,000, which the hon. Member said was in course of recovery, I understand that that represents overdue bills? What rate of interest is charged when bills are overdue?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The approximate amount of money guaranteed in bills at work at present is £2,100,000. The amount of money that is due to the Government in respect of guarantees that they have implemented is £220,000, in respect to the whole £6,000,000 ever guaranteed. Some of that will be recoverable. The hon. Baronet is under a misapprehension as to a rate of interest on the bill itself. The Government do not charge interest. For a premium or fee, which is fixed by the Committee, the Committee advises the Treasury to put the Government's name on the back of a bill. The exporter of machinery, or whatever it may be, takes that bill and "melts" it in the City, and uses the proceeds for the purpose of paying the wages of his men. The mere fact of the Government having put its name on the back of the bill makes that good paper. The Government does not fix the rate of interest charged for discount in the market. That has nothing to do with the Government or the Advisory Committee. That is fixed by the ordinary rate ruling in the City at the time the bill is discounted.
§ Mr. THURTLE
May we have some information as to the defaulting countries 1105 in connection with these losses, and the nature of the trade involved? Altogether there is a total of £53,000. Presumably, the bills in connection with this £53,000 have not ben met on the due date. What is the nature of the business transaction? What is the kind of material which was exported and in respect of which the bills have been drawn? What were the countries to which the goods were exported?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
I do not know whether the hon. Member was present at the time, but that question has already been answered.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The statement made by the Minister shows that altogether the amount of money advanced under this scheme comes to something like £6,000,000. That is a very small percentage of the total trade of this country, and I am sure that he will not exaggerate the importance of this scheme and the effect it has had on our foreign trade. I want to make some reference to directions in which the Government's activities might well be turned, and to endorse the request made in regard to trade in North and South Russia. The Minister appears to think that there is some political significance in such a request. The importance of that may be exaggerated. May I point out that at a time when the hon. Gentleman has been showing no inclination to assist that kind of trade, various agencies from Russia have been able to place large orders in this country without the assistance of his credits scheme at all. The natural sources from which they have proceeded and in connection with which all their money operations have been conducted, have not been the schemes of his Department but the ordinary joint stock banks. The joint stock banks are quite capable of looking after their own interests. They do so with great skill and with great advantage to the credit and financial organisation of London. The hon. Gentleman has had to acknowledge considerable losses on bad debts, but what is good enough for the joint stock banks is not good enough for him. That is the direct opposite of the principle on which his Department ought to proceed. If there be any justification at all for his Department, it should be that they are more adventurous than the ordinary banking 1106 organisations; if they are to be less adventurous, he might as well wind it up, because the facilities can be as well provided elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman is very enterprising, and is anxious to use national credit with the object of regaining markets which we have lost or opening up new markets. I ask him not to allow political prejudices to stand in the way of sound British business.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I rise to support the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea (Mr. Runciman). The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department knows the effect which this embargo on export trade with Russia is having upon the herring industry. That industry is dying by inches, and I beg the hon. Gentleman to press on the Government that they ought not to allow a purely political consideration to influence them in this matter. Let them judge any scheme which may be put forward by the herring fishing industry for an export credit entirely on its economic side. Purely political considerations have nothing to do with the economic side of the question, and ought not to influence members of the Government one way or the other.
§ Sir PHILIP PILDITCH
As a member of the Advisory Committee which deals with these matters, I should like to say, in reply to the two last speeches, that I do not think any proposals made by firms desirous of exporting to Russia would be treated differently from any other proposals. I think the hon. Member who has just spoken and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea (Mr. Runciman) are under a misapprehension. I do not remember at any of the meetings of the Advisory Committee which I have attended any proposal coming forward regarding exports to Russia, but I am quite sure that, if such proposals were brought forward, they would receive consideration quite as openly and as fairly as the proposals of any other exporters in regard to any other part of the world.
I have never heard of any rule that the question of exports to Russia was barred. If applications come forward, I am sure they will be considered on their merits. The great thing for the Advisory Committee is to see that the proposals are likely to produce work in this country. That is the idea with which the scheme was started. The scheme is intended to 1107 give facilities in quarters where such facilities are not likely to be given by the ordinary banking concerns, to promote the export of goods from this country, and I shall be surprised if either of the last two speakers can give a specific case of a proposal by a British firm desirous of exporting to Russia being refused, simply on the ground that Russia was the country concerned. In every case the consideration has been given to the responsibility of the British firm and the likelihood of the British firm carrying out its part of the work on lines which the House of Commons has laid down, and the probability of employment being made available. These two things alone are considered when applications are made to the Advisory Committee.
§ Sir PATRICK HASTINGS
I cannot help thinking that the speech which we have just heard is of far graver and wider importance than some hon. Members may appreciate. If I understood the hon. Member aright, he spoke with all the authority of the Advisory Committee to whom these applications are made.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
I do not mean to say the hon. Member spoke with the direct authority of the Committee, but it was with a knowledge of what happened at the Committee. I understood the hon. Member to say, in substance—in the presence, and I hope in the hearing of the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department—that any person who desired to enter into trade with individuals or companies in Russia, would be treated by the Advisory Committee in precisely the same way as a trader desiring to trade with any other country. I think we are bound to ask the hon. Gentleman, who speaks for the Government in this matter, whether, if such a state of circumstances were to arise, namely, that a trader desirous of trading with an individual or company in Russia demanded and required the assistance of the exports credits scheme, he would tell the Advisory Committee that he would give the same facilities in that case as in the case of trade with any other country. This is not intended to be, and I am sure it ought not to be, a political matter. This is a matter of 1108 economics or nothing. The country does not enter into these guarantees in support of any political view, but in order to increase trade. The observations of the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch), speaking for the Advisory Committee, will lead people all over the country to believe that if they desire to-morrow to trade with Russia they are entitled to go to the Committee and to expect to be treated in the same way as if they were proposing to trade with any other country. I am sure the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department will in the simplest terms, "Yes" or No," tell us whether that statement is right or wrong.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I will explain it in the very simplest terms. If a case were to come to me from the Export Credits Advisory Committee asking me to authorise the use of public money for the purpose of giving credit facilities to Russia under the scheme, I should have to decline to accede to it. But none has ever come to me.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I do not wish to put an unfair interpretation on the statement of the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch) in regard to the work of the Advisory Committee, but I think he has made a mistake in stating his view of the policy of the Committee in these cases, because the point is that nothing ever comes before the Committee in connection with such cases. Is it not the case that the Minister himself—and I put it to the hon. Gentleman—vetoes any such applications before they reach the Committee? This is a point which I raised only a few days ago, and speaking as a member of the Advisory Committee, I, like the hon. Member for Spelthorne, have never known of such a case being raised at the Committee. Is not the reason however that the Government never allow any applications to come to the Advisory Committee? As far as I know, the Advisory Committee have never expressed any opinion on this matter. The Minister says he will take a certain course if a case comes to him from the Committee, but how can a case come from the Committee when such a scheme would never come before the Advisory Committee at all in the first place but would be vetoed by the hon. Gentleman himself?
§ Sir GERALD HOHLER
On a point of Order. I understood we were dealing with a Vote to cover particular cases in regard to which promises had been made, and I submit that in going outside that matter, the hon. Member is out of order.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
On the point of Order. If we are asked to vote money in order to implement certain Government guarantees in regard to which default has taken place, we are entitled to know where the default has taken place. We have not been given that information, nor have we been told why similar guarantees are not given in connection with another country.
I have been watching the discussion very carefully so far, and I think up to this present point it is in order.
§ Mr. GILLETT
It seems to me unsatisfactory that we have not had a clear statement from the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Deparment as to whether a veto is placed on these schemes going before the Advisory Committee. I thoroughly disapprove of what the hon. Gentleman has said and as a protest against the line followed by the hon. Gentleman in refusing to tell us definitely whether he vetoes these schemes going to the Committee I move the reduction. We should be told whether that is not the explanation why the hon. Member for Spelthorne thinks that no such cases have ever come before the Committee. The hon. Member has never known of such cases to come up, but he may have overlooked the fact that they are prevented by the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department from coming to the Committee.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The point which was put to us by the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch) who has done such excellent service on this committee is interesting, but the reason why he was able to make the statement which he made just now, is that the Minister has been warning manufacturers off the Russian trade altogether, and no one was likely to go and make a full disclosure of his business transactions to the Committee when he knew the Minister would turn down his proposal. The expression of opinion which came just now from the Secretary to the 1110 Overseas Trade Department is exactly what we should have expected from him after former Debates. It amounts to this. The scheme is being worked in order to give employment to people in this country—to people engaged in the textile trade, the engineering trade and other work. The only justification for it, is that it will give employment, but if it so happens that proposals should come from Russia, they are warned off beforehand. Unemployment must continue because of the hon. Gentleman's political feelings. That is a position which cannot be justified in the administration of a purely business department. I submit it is not the business of the hon. Member's Department to decide on the political or moral merits of Russia, but to help British trade. To tell us frankly across the Floor as the hon. Gentleman has done that he will veto any proposals coming from the Advisory Committee in connection with Russia, is a complete departure from the spirit which has animated this Department since it was founded.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I rise to ask the attention of the Minister and the Committee to what appears to be very clearly a serious point. Hon. Members will recall that these schemes and guarantees have been incorporated from time to time in Trade Facilities Acts. I should like to invite the Minister to tell the House under what line of any Statute ever passed by this Chamber he vetoes in advance any applications for credit in the case of Russian trade. I shall go beyond that and ask at the same time if there is any line in the administrative Regulations which gives him a power of that kind. I suggest that the statement which the Minister has just made is a direct violation of the Statute. In point of fact, the Minister has done something which he is not in any way entitled to do under this legislation.
§ Captain MACMILLAN
I have listened with considerable surprise to some of the statements elicited in the course of this Debate. I understood the hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Government, to say that even if a proposal was recommended by the Committee for the granting of a credit for trading with Russia he would decline to accede to it. I ask him on, what ground. It seems to me—I speak 1111 with all deference—that if the Committee recommends it it would obviously not be on a financial ground that the Government would refuse to accede to it, because the Committee would not recommend it if they thought that the risk was too great, or the chances of repayment too slender. Since it would not be on financial grounds, therefore it must be on political grounds. On what authority, on what principle of ordinary business can objection be taken to a grant of this kind? Although this Debate is dealing with only a small sum, it will have elicited very important statements of principle to be dealt with on this Vote, which really do deserve the earnest attention of this House and of the Government in regard to the future conduct of this scheme.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
While my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. Graham) was referring to the powers under which the hon. Gentleman purports to act, I looked up for myself to see if there was anything in the Act which permits him without consultation with the Advisory Committee to veto in advance—that is before consultation with the Advisory Committee—something which they might otherwise be prepared to recommend.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
The hon. Gentleman says he did not say it, but what I think hon. Members largely complain of is that he has not yet told us whether he does do it in advance or not. All he has told us in answer to me is that if they did recommend it he would automatically refuse to consider it. It certainly must have been to many Members a most surprising statement when we had had in the preceding two minutes a statement from the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch), a member of the Advisory Committee, saying that he would recommend it if it otherwise fell within the purview of the Act. I have looked at the first section of the Act of 1921. The hon. Gentleman says that I am setting up ninepins. The only ninepin at the moment is one that has not got up, himself.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
If a recommendation was sent to me I should feel that I was responsible to the taxpayer for whatever might be hazardous in this business. I 1112 know that in the past Britain has lost a great deal of money owing to repudiation by Russia. There are a large number of our people who have invested money—not for warlike purposes—in the great municipalities like Kieff, Moscow, Vilna, Nikolaieff, and Saratoff, at a small rate of interest for the purpose of lighting and providing other essential social services in those places. I know too that a large number of mills, factories, and industrial undertakings have absorbed a large amount of the money invested in Russia. The Russian Government has confiscated the whole of that property and the people of this country who put that money into those undertakings—not warlike undertakings—have lost it. I then have to consider this, having lost our money once, shall we lose it again. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will allow me, the basis of all commercial undertakings is the sanctity of contract. Russia herself has ruined her credit by repudiation and confiscation. She has only herself to blame. If we have lost our money once I have to think before I allow any public money to be risked again in Russia. What hon. Member will say to me that the British public having lost money through the default of that country once, I am to risk losing it again?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The best answer I can give to my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir P. Hastings) is this. We know for a fact the amount of credit balance which the Russian Government had here as the result of the last two years of trading was £15,000,000. This is not political but simple economics which I will ask the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) to take a note of. In 1924 and 1925 Russia exported to Britain, in the one case nearly £9,000,000 more than she took from us, in the other case £5,000,000 more. That is to say, she has a credit balance here of £6,000,000. I do not see, and I am sure the Members on this side will agree with me, why my Department should risk public money even with persons that have the finest credit, let alone with a Government that has repudiated and that still does not recognise private property while that Government has ample credits here to pay us with. If it has defaulted once it may 1113 do it again. I do not see why I should be party to risking further British money if the Russian Government, that says it wishes to buy goods here, does not use its £15,000,000 of cash balance. The right hon. Member for Swansea shakes his head. Let him go and tell that to a directors' meeting of his own bank. Let him go into the City and preach, as he preached a moment ago, that we should finance a Government that has by repudiation shaken our faith in its credit, and let him advise his bank shareholders and depositors to lend their money again. Let them take note of such views. I am sure that they will think twice before they regard his view as sound banking from a bank director.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Let me say at once that five of the largest Joint Stock Banks are now carrying on extensive operations over Russian contracts and that the last orders placed in this country for engineering and railway material were financed entirely by Joint Stock banks.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman stands answered out of his own speech. The Russian Government is using its credit balances for these purchases. Here is £15,000,000 of money that will buy everything Russia wants, from agricultural goods to fish. Why should I, both as Parliamentary Secretary and as a business man not say to myself "If they have these millions here, let them use them first to buy and pay for goods of British manufacture before they ask people who they ask to sell goods to them to come to the Export Credits Advisory Committee." That is the whole answer. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite tells me that Russia needs exports credits, after she has used her £15,000,000 to buy goods, that will put a different complexion on the case, but, until she has used up her credits here, I am entitled to say to our exporters, "Ask the persons who want to buy goods from you to use their balance credit before they ask you to come here to us."
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the long and clear answer he has made to many questions except the one I ask. I can put it in two lines. Is it true that the hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the Govern- 1114 ment, puts a veto upon these applications even going to the Advisory Committee at all?
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
The answer then is that if an application comes from the Committee he would immediately refuse it. I asked him if I was right in relying on the first Section of the Act of 1921 for his only power in the matter. I have read it, and I see what are the only things that he is to take into his consideration, the only persons with whom, and the time when he is to take them into consideration.If the Treasury, after consultation with an advisory committee,"—that is with my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch) sitting there, who has said that he would make such recommendation in precisely the same way as if it came from any other country—are satisfied "—and this means that he must be satisfied—that the proceeds of any loan are to be applied towards or in connection with the carrying out of any capital undertaking "—a thing that clearly it could foe easy to satisfy him aboutor in the purchase of articles other than munitions of war and that the application of the loan in the manner proposed is calculated to promote employment in the United Kingdom.Those are the only things he is to be satisfied of, and my hon. Friend has told the Committee that he and his Committee would recommend the loan if it satisfied those requirements.
§ Sir P. PILDITCH
I did not say that. I simply said that we have never had a case brought before us, but, so far as I was concerned, I saw no reason why, if a case was brought before us, we should not go into it.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
That is exactly what I am going into. We do not see any reason at all. I do not suppose the hon. Gentleman the hon. and gallant Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Captain MacMillan) who spoke a moment ago sees any reason. The right hon. Member 1115 for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) does not see any reason. Nobody seems to see any reason—
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I do. One paramount reason which the right hon. Gentleman has not read out. The Committee has to consider one other thing, for which I am responsible—whether there is a probability or possibility of loss.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
Surely, my hon. Friend cannot seriously consider that any body would overlook that. We have heard within the last five minutes that the joint stock banks are prepared to take the risk. [Interruption.] It is idle to say that if the bankers will do it, there is no reason for provision under this Act, because the whole purpose of this Act is to finance schemes which are too speculative for the joint stock banks to undertake. The reason given by my hon. Friend is that his chance of getting his money back is too remote. Can he seriously say that, after just having heard that the joint stock banks—
§ Mr. SAMUEL
From £55,000,000 to £60,000,000 worth of accommodations have been asked for, and, quite apart from Russia, so careful are the Committee that as little money shall be lost as may be that no less than £29,000,000 have been turned down. It does not matter what country it is; Russia is not the only country; we have to consider very seriously whether or not there will be a risk of loss.
§ Sir P. HASTINGS
Surely my hon. Friend cannot have it both ways. He says he always has to consider the prospect of getting his money back, and very properly so, but he also says that in the case of Russia he does not consider that at all, because he vetoes it at once, and he will veto it at once, whether it comes from a good source or a bad source. He has told us—and I have accepted the position—that he would unhesitatingly refuse to accept any recommendation of the Committee if it were put forward. There is only one other thing I want to ask. I gathered not ten minutes ago, from an interjection, that the hon. Gentleman thought the only thing to consider in Russia was trade with the Russian Government. We have heard a great many hon. Members ask whether he does not know perfectly well that the 1116 great bulk of trade to-day is with individuals in Russia, and surely, if the hon. Gentleman was unaware, it seems a little hard to decide in advance to turn down all recommendations of the Committee, which he seems to have thought must necessarily be Government recommendations, if in fact they are with private individuals, and I would ask him again if he would be equally prepared to turn down any recommendations of the Committee if they were for trade with individuals or companies in Russia and not with the Government.
Mr. ROY WILSON
As one of those Members in this House who have some practical experience of the export credits scheme, I should like to say a few words, because I think there has been some confusion of thought in regard to the exact operation of the scheme. The procedure is this that the exporter goes to a banker, through whom he usually manages his operations, and asks whether he would like to carry out a transaction with Russia. The banker does not care to do it, and recommends him to go to the Export Credits Department. He then places his scheme before the Export Credits Advisory Committee, and they weigh the merits of the scheme and decide whether or not it is a scheme which they can recommend safely to the Government to carry out. The Government then have to decide whether the risk is such as to justify them in placing their guarantee at the back of the bills, which are drawn in connection with these export credit transactions. If they decide that the risk is a good one, they intimate to the man who wants to ship the goods that his bills will be backed by the Government and the procedure then is for him to hand this credit to the banker, who usually undertakes his transactions, who sends the bills out abroad and acts for the Export Credits Department.
It seems to me that there has been some confusion of thought over this transaction, because we have heard from the Minister that the applications to the Export Credits Department have been many many millions in excess of the sums which the Department has been willing to guarantee. We have also heard from the hon. Gentleman opposite, who represents the Advisory Committee, that no applications, within his knowledge, have been 1117 received by that Committee for transactions with Russia. I think there is a very strong reason why the Advisory Committee has not been troubled with these applications, because, while the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) says the joint stock banks are financing operations with Russia, I am sure it is correct that those transactions are fully secured. I know enough of them and of their great capacity for care to be quite certain that I am right in saying that they are probably secured, either by the earmarking of credit in London for these transactions, or in some other way, which renders it perfectly safe for the banks to carry out those contracts. Whether they are long or short credits makes no difference if they are properly secured, either by first-class collaterals or by gold in London, but I believe that the Government are perfectly right in the action which they take in refusing to pass these export credit schemes for Russia, even if those schemes came—and we have had no evidence this afternoon that they have come—before the Government from the Advisory Committee. Indeed, we have had evidence to the contrary, that the Advisory Committee has not received any applications, and that is not due, hon. Members should realise, to any action of the Minister in broadcasting the fact that no Russian transactions would be considered, because in fact they have been considered by the joint stock banks.
Therefore, my point is this, that the Government are perfectly right, in view of the fact that there are more demands from the Advisory Committee for these export credit facilities than the Government are able to grant, and the Minister, in my judgment, is right, in saying that, even supposing the Advisory Committee put forward a credit involving a shipment from here to Russia, with long credit, it would be turned down, because they regard it, as indeed I am quite certain I am right in saying all the bankers in this country regard it, as extremely risky business unless they are properly covered—certainly business that no overseas bank would undertake without valid and ample security. The Government are perfectly justified in saying quite plainly in the House to-day, as they have said through their Minister, that they would veto these transactions if they came from the Committee, first, on the ground of inadequate 1118 security, and, secondly, on the ground that there are more applications for these credit facilities for countries that really are sound financially than the Government can meet at the present time.
Captain T. J. O'CONNOR
I cannot help feeling that there are more than the Members of the Opposition in this House who are alarmed at so dogmatic a statement as that which was made by the hon. Gentleman representing the Overseas Trade Department, who proceeded, as did the last speaker, the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Roy Wilson), to apply reasons for a decision in regard to any application for an export credit to Russia. If the Committee could be assured that in the case of individual applications that kind of treatment was applied, there would, I think, be no objection whatever to the hon. Gentleman's statement, but it is just because he says categorically that no applications of that sort could be entertained at all that some of us on this side feel a little apprehensive. After all, the whole strength and logicality of our attitude towards Russia lies in the fact that we deal with it empirically. We say that these credits would not fructify, that we should be doing wrong in extending these credits to Russia, but we do not assume a doctrinaire attitude towards them. Russia does not obsess us in the same way as it is a King Charles' head to hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Lichfield has pointed out a great many reasons why we might apprehend that we should lose our money in dealing with Russia, but nothing could be more disastrous than that we, who are the party of expediency, should apply beforehand to the consideration of this question, a positive veto of the kind that the hon. Gentleman has suggested. I hope that that will not be the attitude of this party towards credits of that kind, but that each one will be considered on its merits, and that, if a case can be made out, credits for Russia shall have just the same consideration as any other credits.
§ Mr. J. H. HUDSON
I have always felt that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, with some of his pleasant discourses, would manage to land himself into a first class political crisis, and he seems to have done so this afternoon, to such an extent that it is necessary for him to get the advice of his 1119 right hon. colleague, the Home Secretary, which advice I should hardly feel inclined to advise the hon. Gentleman to accept, especially if he wants to get out of the economic difficulties which he has created for himself. It has become clear to us, surely, that it is possible, through the existence, so we are told by financial experts, of collateral securities, for joint stock banks to do business on good terms with Russia, but the assumption seems to be that if the Government, through their special Committee, do Russian business, Russia is quite certain to default in that business, but if Russia were to default, how could it be possible for joint stock banks to regard the securities as valuable? They have got the securities, but if it were the case that Russia defaulted on a piece of first class business, how could it be possible for Russia to continue into the future having in this country a security which would enable joint stock banks to go on doing this business?
Surely Russia knows enough, however much hon. Members opposite may dislike Russia, from her experiences with the joint stock banks to realise the necessity of keeping that collateral security, not merely now. but in the future, for transactions of the sort that have been discussed to-day, but the Government are assuming that if trade be done with Russia, if an arrangement be made by the Government or by a Committee representing the Government, Russia is bound to become a defaulter. I suggest that that idea is based, not on economics at all, but on the prejudices of the hon. Gentleman and his Government, and that what they are actually doing by their prejudices is not only damaging to Russia, but damaging to hundreds and thousands of the working folk of this country, who might be having employment if a different attitude were adopted by the Government. I hope the Government Whips will send for some other adviser than the Home Secretary to help the Parliamentary Secretary out of the hole into which he has got himself, because I am quite sure that there is no way out of that hole except a frank refusal to accept the position which the hon. Gentleman has laid down, namely, that if any recommendation does come from the Export Credits Committee, he will turn it down if that arrangement is made with the Russian nation.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
Perhaps it is desirable that I should say a word or two, because a few years ago I occupied the office now filled by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, which had something to do with formulating the system under which export credits are now granted. May I say, quite roughly, how the thing works. Anybody who wants to export anything to Russia or any country is, of course, at perfect liberty to do so, and if his security is good enough, he can go to the joint stock banks, as the hon. Gentleman opposite said, and he can get the necessary financial assistance to enable him to do that. The export credits scheme was established in order to help cases where the security was not sufficiently first class for the banks to take it in hand. The hon. Gentleman will probably agree with me, that the banks have very large sums in their hands, and if the security be good, there is no need to come, and people do not come, to the Export Credits Committee. Nearly always it is only those risks which the great bankers do not see their way to take up. Then the Export Credits Committee go into the matter, consider first of all the position of the exporters, the English firms, and then the position of the importers. In the case of joint stock banks, apart from collateral security, if the firm be good enough, they have the full backing up to 100 per cent., but in the case of the export credits scheme, in order to encourage the English export trade, we, the Government, when we have backed the bill, will not make the English exporter, if things go wrong, pay the full amount of 100 per cent., but something less, and never more than 80 per cent., and sometimes a good deal less than that.
The position is this. The Government have got to consider whether they will allow export credits, for which the taxpayer of this country is going to be liable, in the event of anything going wrong, for at least 20 per cent. of the amount, and sometimes more, with a country which does not admit the right of private property. The hon. Member opposite has great business experience in the co-operative movement. He knows perfectly well it is open to him to export anything he likes to Russia, and to take 1121 his risk of getting payment, or going to law in the Russian Courts if the Russian importer does not pay. The position we have taken up here is that, in the present condition of Russia, with the very grave difficulties there would be, and there are, of suing a Russian importer who had defaulted in his payments, we are not prepared to risk the British taxpayers' money in the way that business people are perfectly entitled to risk theirs.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That was not done under the export credits. If anything of this kind were proposed to be done under the Export Credits scheme, hon. Members opposite would, of course, be the first persons to object to it. Do not let us consider the political, but the economic point of view—whether it is desirable that Government money, for which we are responsible to the taxpayers, should be risked in financial transactions with a country which, I am bound to say, we do not regard as equally desirable from a commercial, from an economic, and from a legal point of view as France or any other of the great countries of the world. That is the position.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
The right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the scheme was first passing through the House, gave a definite pledge, in order to get it through the House, that Russia would be included within the ambit of the scheme?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not think the hon. Gentleman is quite right in regard to the facts. I think that relates to trade facilities. We are now dealing with export credits, which are quite a different thing. But I would say quite frankly that if the position of affairs in Russia, if their economic system were altered— [HON. MEMBERS: "They will never do that!"] If hon. Members opposite do not want to hear what I have got to say, perhaps my hon. Friends on this side would like to hear. If the Government are convinced, by an alteration of the economic system, by an alteration of the legal system, by the possibility that trade can be conducted with Russia without risks, which they are not entitled to take, then I, for one, should be perfectly willing as a member of the 1122 Government to see the export facilities utilised for the purpose of trade with Russia, but, in the present case, I think my hon. Friend is perfectly justified in the action he has taken, and I, also, would not be prepared to risk the taxpayers' money in trading with Russia at the present moment.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
We are always very pleased to listen to the right hon. Gentleman, who is very courteous and urbane. Would he kindly answer the question, which has not yet been answered, under what line or what Clause of the Export Credit Section of the Trade Facilities Act do the Government refuse either to sanction something recommended by the Committee or, on the other hand, to issue an edict in advance to prevent its application? Under what authority is that done?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am perfectly prepared to justify our action on the ground that the Act is an enabling Act to enable us to give credit, and we are bound to exercise our rights as sensible men. If we believe, as we do, that it is not, at the present time, good business to give export credits to Russia, then I say we are bound not to advance money in that way.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary says that the Government will not assist traders under the export credits scheme to trade with Russia until that country has altered its economic system. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that by the time that comes about the possibility of all trade will have disappeared. It will have been captured by our rivals, who are not so supersensitive as to trading with this nation, and I submit that manufacturers in the north of England and their employes ought not to be told by the Government that they are to do without these facilities whilst their competitors abroad are engaging in extensive trading operations with Russia. It seems an extraordinary thing that if the Advisory Committee are satisfied on financial grounds that any scheme put forward is sound, it should be turned down on political grounds. I submit that the needs of employment are so great that we cannot afford to indulge in these political prejudices. We have been told by an hon. Member below the Gangway 1123 that the Government can exhaust all the credit they have in making grants to people trading with other nations, but surely they have not done this, and so long as they have not exhausted these credits, I submit they should not turn down these applications, which may come to manufacturers for rails, bridges, or constructional work, which is necessary for Russia.
The Committee must surely be interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman's parental care that his child should not be thrown into unnecessary danger, but, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman only reiterated what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade said in answer to a question by my hon. Friend that he is not actuated in any way by political motives, but purely by economic motives. He argued at some length—and I am not prepared to deal with the merits—that economically these credits were unsound. As far as I can make out, the argument fell into two lines. One was that Russia had so little money that the credit was unsafe, and the other was that she had so much that it was unnecessary. But he did not answer a question which must arise from that, and which is, that if the Department are deciding this matter purely on economic grounds, on arguments and on facts which are within the knowledge of the Committee set up to advise them, if they are to decide entirely on their merits, what then is the function of this Committee? Do the Home Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department think that by taking these matters out of the hands of this Committee, and deciding them for themselves, they are fulfilling the intention of the Act, which set up this Committee to advise them on precisely those economic points on which they themselves are now taking the decision?
§ Mr. MAXTON
I think that this has been, perhaps, one of the most unexpected Debates that have taken place on these Supplementary Estimates. The very gallant rush which the Home Secretary made to the assistance of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department is typical of the gallantry—and, perhaps, the rash gallantry—of the 1124 Home Secretary, but I am not quite sure whether the statements of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman will be so fully appreciated by their colleagues in the Government when they come to be examined to-morrow in the light of cold day in the columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT. It was very courageous and bold of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department to say, "Never, never!" It is all very well for dramatic statements of that sort to be made, but it is just as well that statesmanship, in a matter of this sort, should have a few qualifications.
I do not know how right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite are going to get out of that to-morrow, but the matter, it seems to me, should take on a much more serious aspect. Some hon. Member referred to the subject as being regarded on these benches as a sort of a King Charles' head. Personally, I am not in the least interested in what will be the effect of granting £10,000 or £20,000 credit to Russia. Just as Russia has got through its military troubles on its own, when there has been plenty of opposition from hon. Members opposite; just as Russia got through its social and political difficulties; so it will work through its economic difficulties. It has got its social system based on a far more just ground than we have here. For the last four or five years she has made far away more progress than has been made in this country. I do not think that this country has anything to teach Russia. Therefore I am not interested in what the effect of granting, or refusing, export credits is going to have on the internal affairs of Russia. What I am interested in is this: that the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, now jointed by the Home Secretary, tell us that, in order to exercise their spite against the Russian people, they are prepared to keep the fishing people in the north-east and west coast of Scotland in a state of semi-starvation.
Any single Member of this House who, at any time, has been in one of these fishing villages, knows the dead hand which has been laid upon them since the Russian market was practically closed up. The question of whether certain Russian firms have defaulted does not enter into it at all. The world is packed out with examples of nations which have defaulted. 1125 In Britain we have had thousands of commercial defaulters. The law of the land is based on making special arrangements to allow capitalist defaulters to get away. But these arrangements and those things do not matter a bit. Here you have a body of the best type of men that we have in Great Britain. You boosted them up in the work they were doing during the War in patrolling the seas in their trawlers, and when they were taking risks. Now you absolutely refuse to give this little bit of facility that would save the industry of the towns and villages. Mark you, these towns are solely dependent on the fishing industry, and on nothing else. On the fishing industry depends whether the shopkeepers are going to be busy or not. It is the fishermen who decide whether trade is or is not to be busy.
The Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department knows something about the fishing industry, and he knows what I say is so. There are towns dotted all around the coast of Scotland occupied by heroes, men you praised up during the War; now these fishermen either do not put to sea at all, or, if they put to sea and bring their fish home, it is to an uneconomic market, because this one great big market has been closed down for years. I want hon. Members to agree, and I want the right hon. Gentleman to agree that the exports credits scheme and the trade facilities scheme was brought forward not to help foreign countries, but to help our own people. If there was freely given to private exporters just that little bit of support which was necessary to turn the transaction from being not an absolutely sound one into an absolutely sound one, that is what is required. Nobody here expects Government support for wild-cat schemes. Nobody wants that. On the other hand, we do not want you to put Government credit behind schemes that are absolutely sound and solid on their own foundation. We want you to put it behind those schemes that are fairly good and fairly solid; to give just that one little bit of national support that will carry them into the region of safety for the persons concerned. I put it to the Government that the expenditure of a few hundred thousand pounds would stimulate the whole of the East Coast and the Highlands of Scotland, and bring hope into 1126 many homes which have been under a cloud of despair for several years.
§ Mr. PENNY
I should just like a word or two in view of the many criticisms made in regard to our dealing with Russia. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite if he can tell us whether, when the Socialist party were in power, they did not alter their policy because they had as a financial adviser a man who knows more about prudent trading than any hon. Member in this House? If the right hon. Gentleman opposite thought it wise and prudent to trade with Russia, then why was not their policy altered?
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I am greatly interested in what has been said from the Government Bench by the Home Secretary and his colleague, because I have a very clear recollection of the Debate which took place when the Labour Government introduced to the House their scheme for trading with Russia. I think I can show the Home Secretary in a very few moments, and at the same time satisfy the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny), who has just put a question, that the action then taken by the Conservative party, in opposition, was certainly not the attitude taken by Ministers on the Government bench to-day.
I was not one of those who was greatly enamoured of the Labour party's proposed Treaty with Russia. The ground on which the Treaty was criticised from the Conservative Benches was because the Treaty proposed to put Russia in a preferential position. It proposed to give Russia the advantages of British credit, not as one of the many countries from which proper application was made, but preferentially. It was to put Russia in a superior position over other people. It is always difficult to turn up at short notice quotations of the sort, but one of my hon. Friends has turned it up for me, and I think it will give the Home Secretary reason to pause. I am referring to a speech which was made in this House on 6th August, 1924. The then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had been explaining the provisions of the proposed Anglo-Soviet Treaty, and the present Minister of Labour—and, of course, he already was an ex-Minister, and had I think at one time been the head of the Overseas Trade Department—used this 1127 language in relation to the Labour Government—he was attacking the Labour Government, not that it was wrong to grant export credits to Russia if the Export Credits Committee recommended it, but that Russia should not be given better terms than other people. He used this language:I should like to have another piece of information, and I am ready to give way to the Under-Secretary if he will give it to us. Is there going to be any interference at all with the functions of the Committee that rules the Export Credit Department in this, or are they going to be allowed to decide the issue as to giving exports credits in the same way as hitherto to Russia as to other places? "—[[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th August, 1924; col. 3060, Vol. 176.]We have hitherto understood that the Conservative said this: The Exports Credits Committee, staffed by skilled persons in whose skill great confidence is placed, act quite independently in considering proposals in reference to Russia as well as other people. But in applying tests to proposed cases of trading with Russia, then, as has been truly said, there are special dangers. I have not understood till now that it was the fixed principle of Conservative policy that whatever might be the judgment of the Export Credits Committee, whatever might be the special reasons which induced them to recommend a credit, that orders had gone forth that if it was Russia that was proposed no export credit should be granted, they had been damned from the start!
§ Mr. TEMPLETON
I am very much surprised at the attitude which the Government have taken up. I do not intend to delay the House for many moments, but I just want to say on behalf of those who are most interested that I believe in the opening up of that trade—
§ Mr. HARDIE
On a point of Order. Not in relation to the speaker as an individual, but might I point out, Mr. Hope, that when I addressed the House on one occasion and laid hold of the pillar in front of me, the House howled at me.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. TEMPLETON
In spite of nobody howling at me, I will take my hand off the pillar. I accept the correction of my hon. Friend opposite, but I want to put 1128 my finger on the spot. This matter affects my constituents in the North of Scotland. I am not going to associate myself with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) in his grand eulogy to-night regarding Russia and its Government. The more I go among the fishing folk in the North East corner of Scotland, the more do I realise the situation. Here are a body of men, who, as has been, said to-night, have never been suppliants for financial aid from the Government, and who are not now suppliants for financial aid from the Government. They are a sure defence for the country around the coasts; and they see their market gone, largely on account of the fact that we have decided to treat Russia differently from other countries. It is perfectly true that if you lend a person money, and he does not pay, you are chary of standing bond again for him. Again, it is perfectly true that if a man has once been done in by somebody in a business transaction, he is cautious of entering into commitments with that same person again. But if the refusal to enter into commitments with these persons is going to bring injury to the members of his own family, or a section of the community which deserves a better fate, it is time, I say, that we who generally support the Government, and who believe that the same treatment should be meted out to Russia as other people, should say so. There are other countries in the world which, I think, owe us money. I have made inquiries, and so far as they go, persons concerned have made no complaint of Russians not sticking to their commercial bargains. I speak only on behalf of the fishing folk. The condition of things is hardly realised by hon. Members of this House, but the state of the herring industry is such that since 1913 only one new herring-drifter has been put into operation in the north-east of Scotland. The average life of a drifter is estimated at 25 years, and the only conclusion we can draw from that is that for lack of a market the profit of the trade is not sufficient to enable the fishermen to carry on in a progressive spirit. I would even now ask the Government to reconsider their attitude, and to say that in this small matter they will make a concession and allow Russia to enter into the benefits of this trade scheme.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
It was interesting to listen to the question read by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) with regard to the utterance of the present Minister of Labour upon this question on 6th August, 1924. It carried my mind back to a statement made by the hon. Gentleman who is the present Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade. If I remember rightly—I do not wish to do him an injustice, and I am quoting from memory—I think he himself said, from this side of the House, that it would be an outrageous thing for any Department to interfere with the Exports Credits Committee.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Like the hon. Gentleman, I am only speaking from memory, but so far as my memory serves me I was referring then to the Committee dealing with the Trade Facilities Act. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is the same principle."]
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
The point is that the hon. Gentleman claimed sacro-sanctity, for the Committee insisted that it would be ultra vires for a Minister to interfere with the recommendations of a Committee of that kind, and it is strange to find him now taking the opposite view. The Debate has revealed a depth of ignorance on the part of the Treasury Bench which is positively appalling when one thinks of the magnitude of the issues involved. I take the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) that the little bit of export credit the Committee would grant to Russia would not bring Russia through her economic problem. I agree with him that Russia will get through, and probably without any aid whatever. When it is said that we are making of Russia a sort of King Charles's head, I would reply that we are pushing this question forward because we want to use every opportunity we have for securing profitable work for our unemployed people
Both hon. Gentlemen have told us that it is not safe to trade with Russia because Russia does not regard private property as sacrosanct. Surely he must know that private property has been re-established in Russia, that the principle of private ownership of property has been established, and that there is a large amount of private enterprise there. At the moment, according to my information, at 1130 least 35 per cent. of the total trade of Russia, internal and external, is probably done under the aegis of private enterprise. The statement, therefore, that we cannot trade with Russia because the right of private property is denied is not quite correct. As a matter of fact, it is undisputed that various firms, in various parts of the world, representing different nationalities, have concluded very profitable arrangements with the Russian Government on the basis of profit-taking by private persons. That is an established fact.
We have been told by the hon. Member representing the Minister in charge that the Russian Government have repudiated certain commitments of the old administration for which, apparently they were responsible. I hope I am not stretching a point too far when I say that it must be within the knowledge of every Member of this House that upon more than one occasion representatives of the Russian Government have declared their eagerness to discuss with the British Government terms upon which a settlement could be made of outstanding debts owing to private persons in this country. M. Rakovsky has stated it time and time again. To-day I asked a question on this very point, in view of discussions which are now going on in Paris with reference to the settlement of claims against the Russian Government by French citizens in respect of private debts—for bonds—for sums of far greater amount than concern people in this country. I think it is an undoubted fact that under the terms of the Treaty a settlement could be arrived at.
The secretary of one of the large associations of British creditors in this country knows full well that the one thing that stops a settlement in respect of these particular bonds and securities, of monies lent on municipal undertakings, even of money sunk in property which has since been nationalised, is the policy pursued by our Government. Persons in this country who have claims upon Russia for monies invested there would probably not receive pound for pound, but certainly the terms ought to be as profitable as those we recently concluded with Italy, and at least the creditors would get a substantial amount of what they claim. If the hon. Gentleman refuses to recognise the claim for trade with Russia on the ground that there has 1131 been repudiation of certain investments in properties now nationalised, why does he not repudiate trade with other countries? Will he tell me or the House to-night that there has been no repudiation by Czechoslovakia? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) stated, with, regard to Czechoslovakia and to other countries with which he had negotiated treaties that there had been complaints—I am not using his exact words, but quoting the sense of the statement—that there had been complaints with regard to the treatment of persons who had properties in Czechoslovakia which had been nationalised. He said: "We have never been able to interfere, because that would mean an interference with the sovereign rights of the State of Czechoslovakia itself." If the sovereign rights of Czechoslovakia are to be respected, why deny sovereign rights to Russia? In effect, the United States, under the prohibition law, destroyed millions of pounds worth of British capital—£40,000,000 worth, I am told; but I have never heard a British Minister declare that there should foe no trade with America, and no trust placed in her, because she passed a Bill which absolutely destroyed at one swoop properties worth millions owned by British citizens who have not received one penny of compensation.
It comes back to this—that on the evidence it appears to us that the distinction is made for purely political preoccupations and for no others. We ought to protest that the Conservative Government have no right to allow their political preoccupations to stand in the way of doing something to assist the unemployed men and women of this country, and it is from that point of view that we press forward the claim we make to-night, and that we shall continue to press it forward. We do not think distinctions ought to be made between the States with whom we deal. We do not believe that the maintenance of animosities and antagonisms is good for this country, and we fear this antagonism may be continued until our opportunity has gone by. Other countries are not so backward. They look at Russia and recognise that there is a state of affairs that seems as though it has come to stay. It must be remembered 1132 that the Russian Government is the senior Government in Europe at the present moment. It is the oldest Government in Europe; it has stood the longest. It does not matter about the conditions under which it has stood. It is no more dictatorial than the Government of Mussolini, and it is no more reactionary.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope)
I think the hon. Member is rather straying from the subject of Export Credits.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I was submitting that we ought not to allow political considerations to come in, because the moment we do we land ourselves in all kinds of difficulties, and the Government ought to be logical. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton pointed out, this fund was established for the purpose of covering little differences in trading operations. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has said it was for the purpose of supporting those undertakings which the ordinary trader cannot touch—for dealing with the little bit of speculation in the transaction. The right hon. Gentleman says we are not prepared to take the risk. But that is what the fund was established for—in order that the nation might take a risk that the individual could not afford to take.
I do not think there is a risk in this trade with Russia. Various traders in this country do not think so. They are all telling us that Russia is the best payer in Europe at the present moment. The Wholesale Co-operative Society have said so, and so has Mr. Marshall, the chairman of Becos Traders, and other traders. Big traders desire trade with Russia. Sir Allan Smith wants it, in order to help the engineers. He is putting forward the idea of trade with Russia. He says they can be trusted. Big traders claim they can be trusted. If there is a slight risk over and above what these traders see, that risk ought to be taken by the Government.
§ Mr. HANNON
I intervene only for a moment to put in a plea on behalf of the fishermen on the north and west coasts. I would appeal to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department to take the opportunity, following upon this Debate, of doing something for those gallant fellows who, during the crisis of this country in the War, did such 1133 magnificent service for us. If the herring trade in Scotland has been so seriously injured as hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House contend, it is the duty of the Government to take steps, by modifying their policy towards Russia or otherwise, to save the fishing population of Scotland from the hardships and misery which are apparently being inflicted upon it. When I was Secretary of the Navy League I went round the coast preaching to the fishermen the importance of realising the significance of British sea-power and appealing to them to support our Navy, and when the War came we had an almost universal response. It would be a cruel thing if the House or the Government were to be witnesses of misery and destitution among the herring fishing population without undertaking some positive, constructive effort to help it.
Let me say I think we ought to modify our views slightly from the somewhat cast-iron attitude we have taken up towards Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Believe me, I do not ask for any cheers from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am making a statement which I think will be of advantage in this Debate, and that is that I belong to groups of manufacturers in this country who have, without the assistance of banks or the Government, given very substantial credits to the Russian Government. On behalf of these poor Scottish fishermen I think this matter ought to be taken into account by the Government. I am sure that the Home Secretary, who took such an active part in originally framing this policy, never contemplated that it would inflict such direct injury upon any section of our own people. That is why I do not attach so much importance to the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) and I know hon. Gentlemen opposite are always ready to take advantage of debating points of that kind. My point is that we ought not to allow the fishing industry and the fishery folk in Scotland to be seriously injured in regard to the continuity of their avocation if we can help them by some little modification of the policy of the Government with regard to the Export Credits Scheme. While in full sympathy with what the Home Secretary has said, I hope he will 1134 do everything he possibly can in order to relieve the serious distress now existing on a part of the coast of Scotland which rendered us such great service during the War.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I do not believe that this is so much a question of export credits as the establishment of more confidence between Russia and ourselves. The real fault of this proposal is the lack of confidence between the traders of this country and Russia. It has been stated in this debate that the joint stock companies are extending their credits to Russia, but I think that only applies to short-term credits, and the main difficulty is that Russia cannot now obtain the long-term credits which she used to be able to get in the past. That difficulty is due to a lack of political faith and good feeling between this country and Russia, and I think we should be ready to extend credits with Russia to three, four or five years, if necessary. I feel sure that it is the lack of political confidence which accounts for the reluctance of the banks in this country to offer credits to Russia. Russia requires long-term credits which she could safely meet by the annual earnings in Russia of the oil and timber industry, and the annual produce of her agricultural industry.
Russia depends upon long-term credits in order to pay for the goods she requires in such large quantities from this country. I think the Government should realise that there is very faint prospect of a complete recovery of our foreign trade and bringing this up to our pre-War standard unless we obtain some new markets. I do not think the extension of export credits to Russia would bring back our trade with that country up to the pre-War standard, but if the Government would remove the ban from Russia and treat her as we treat other countries, and give her a guarantee of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 under this Act, then the business people of this country will have more confidence in Russian trade, and we should do a great deal more business with that country. It ought to be firmly established that the British Government has decided to maintain peace between Russia and ourselves, and is not going to do anything by collusion with other States to break off our trade relations with Russia. That is a political situation which requires clearing up, and I think the Export Credits Act can be used as 1135 an instrument to satisfy our own financiers that our good will towards Russia is sincere.
The Government should indicate that they do not desire to exclude Russia from trade between the nations, and a declaration of that kind, backed up by a reasonable amount of credit under this Act, would give greater confidence to our business people, and it would enable a much larger volume of trade to be done between this country and Russia. Russia offers to us the best market for manufactured goods that can be found anywhere in the world, and her economy is such and her ambition for the reconstruction of our country is so earnest that if properly handled we should be able to sell a larger quantity of goods to Russia than we are now sending to all the Dominions of our Empire. Russia is a country with a population of 130,000,000 which could very easily increase its purchasing power if those people were brought more into contact with the productive world outside. If those conditions were fulfilled Russia instead of buying a meager £50,000,000 of our goods annually would be able to purchase hundreds of millions' worth each year during the next 10 or 20 years. That is a fact which we should not lose sight of, and I hope the Government will announce their decision not to maintain any longer the ban on trade relation between Russia and this country.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I was delighted to hear the remarks made by the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon), because I am sure the Scottish herring industry needs all the sympathy it can get in this House. We have had bad markets in past years entirely owing to the failure of the Russian herring market. At one time Russia used to account for 90 per cent. of our herring trade, and at that time it was our main market. I have received, only during the last day or two, petitions from the fishing communities in the North begging me to do what I can, and to urge other Members to do what they can, to restore the Russian market, in order that we may sell our herrings with certainty and get a good price for them in the future. I am not prepared to say that money would go for that purpose under this Export Credits scheme; I understand that there is at the present 1136 moment a large amount of Russian credit in this country which would be available for that purpose; but what I do say is that there is absolutely no reason or justification whatever for the atmosphere and the attitude that has been adopted by the Minister on the Government Bench. It is not very long since the Anglo-Soviet Treaty was being attacked in this House. We have already had one quotation from the Debate on that occasion, and, with the leave of the Committee, I should like to read another quotation or two, which are rather apposite after the remarks which fell from the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary, who, I see, is just leaving the Chamber. Those remarks were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home), who, I believe, was put up to attack the Treaty. This is what he said:I always held the view, which I hold to-day, that, in spite of all the loathing and horror that one has for the methods which the Soviet Government of Russia took in order to construct its new system, nevertheless, you were not going to bring any advantage to the world by permanently seeking to ostracise a people; and I held the view, which I hold to-day, that the best way to create a change in that country, if you disbelieve in their methods and in their principles of Government—the best way to create the changes that you desire to see would be to enter into the amicable relations which trade gives with her people.Amicable relations! Are these amicable relations, when the Minister says he will turn down any recommendation of the Advisory Committee suggesting trade with Russia? May I read one other quotation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hill-head:Even when Russia was trading peaceably before the War, and when she had a much larger population than she has to-day, your trade was not very large in volume, and it is ludicrous to suggest that the mere resumption of trading relations with Russia is going to bring about any very great difference in our unemployment figures. But, when you have so much depression and unemployment as we 'have, every little helps, and, accordingly, anything that can be done to revive that market is of advantage to our people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th August, 1924; cols. 3146–7, Vol. 176.]That is what I say now. It may be very little, but anything that can be done ought to be done, and I do beg the Minister to take back the statement that he made to-day that he will turn down any 1137 recommendations made by the Advisory Committee suggesting trade with Russia. It is that atmosphere that we want to change. We can get a better political atmosphere and a more reasonable atmosphere. It will not damage trade, and it may help.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I only rise to say a few words on account of some of the speeches which have been made from this side of the Committee, because I think most of us consider that the action of the Government in this case is not only justified, but that, in view of the fact that they are the trustees of the taxpayers' money, they could not do otherwise than they have done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), and also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), rather endeavoured, I think, to lead the Debate away from the real point. I think the real point is that, so far as regards these new credits, the Committee are empowered, and, in fact, it is their function, to investigate any scheme that is put forward, as a trading scheme, but without relation to the other conditions which might be imposed upon that scheme. To make my position clear, let us suppose that it is a question of building a house. The Committee might consider the scheme, and decide what type of house was to be built, but the Government, or the super-authority, would say whether that house should be built upon a quicksand or upon a sound foundation. So far as the majority of the criticisim that has been levelled against the Government, both from this side and from the other side of the Committee, is concerned, it would seem to me that there is confusion between two issues. The functions of the Committee are perfectly clear, being purely and solely to consider a scheme as a scheme. I think it must be within the recollection—
§ Sir J. SIMON
Surely, they can consider who the importer is, what his credit is, and what is the business probability of the bargain bearing fruit?
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I quite agree; they have to take that into consideration; but they have also to take into consideration the fact that in some countries the law is not what it is in this country. In those countries great 1138 advocates are not, perhaps, so fully employed as in this country; they have a more speedy method of deciding disputes. I am quite sure that any trader would be only too pleased to trade with a country where the law ran as it does in this country, and where great barristers could be employed to put any case that might arise in which the trader thought he was not being properly treated. There is a further point which I think has also been somewhat avoided by the majority of those who have been attacking the Government, and that is that some £29,000,000 of credit has been turned down because the security has not been considered to be good enough, and not a single Member in any quarter of the Committee has answered the position put by the Minister, that the Russian Government have not utilised the credit which they themselves have in this country to the extent of some £15,000,000. Surely, if the joint stock banks do not think it worth while to use that credit, and if the Russian Government themselves do not use that credit, there is no reason why the trustees of our taxpayers should use our taxpayers' money. That has not been answered in any way.
I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley that it is comparatively simple for an hon. Member to look up a Debate and find some statement to show that a certain view which was put forward supports the view he holds at the moment; but the view in question was not put forward with the authority of the Government, and, if we attached too much importance to the wild statements that are sometimes made by the Opposition when they are trying to obstruct and confuse the Government, I think we should be allowing ourselves to be led rather astray. It seems to me that the Opposition think they have got on a strong scent here, which, if they follow it, will annoy the Government; but I venture to think that cool reflection in the morning will show them that, if they were in power, their Ministry could not do otherwise than our present Government are doing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I would ask hon. Members to take a sensible view[Interruption.] Let me finish. You can buy a £100 Russian Bond on the Stock Exchange 1139 to-day for £5. If you think they are so good, why do you not buy them?
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I apologise for interrupting the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but, as he was looking towards me, I gather that his remarks are directed rather at me. My reference was simply to the Government refusing to recognise the advice given by their Advisory Committee. I am not asking them to go behind their Advisory Committee.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
If the hon. Member will allow me to say so, he is not correct in saying that the Government have refused the advice of their Advisory Committee. [Interruption.'] Hon. Members are very quick—
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I am keeping on the rails. I think the position of the Advisory Committee is that they will back any scheme that is put before them as an economic scheme—a scheme in regard to the integrity of the person with whom they are dealing and his ability to close the accounts for which they wish for credits and so forth, but at the same time to superimpose other conditions which must be taken into consideration. Those other conditions are such that the law does not run as it does in the majority of civilised countries, and we have not recourse, as we have in this country, to attack him by law and recover what we can, and it is for that reason that, in spite of the fact that the scheme itself may be a perfectly sound one, these other conditions are such as to make it imperative that the authority does not allow that risk to be taken. It is quite obvious that if none of the joint stock banks will take the risk there must be other considerations which come in, and the fact remains that if you are so convinced that the Russian Government is going to honour its bond you can buy a £100 bond for £5. Why do you not buy them? In exactly the same way we can buy shares in Russian mining securities. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have nothing to buy them with."] You have your £400 a year.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I apologise for being led astray by interjections. I think the Government are to be congratulated on the action they have taken, and I hope they will in no way be intimidated or consider any alteration of their policy in consequence of the attack that has been carried out on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. BROMLEY
Criticism has been directed from all quarters of the Committee to the Secretary for Overseas Trade for his very frank statement. I am not going to criticise the hon. Gentleman I am going to thank him for his frankness. It is quite refreshing. We on these benches have known exactly what the attitude of the Government was for some time. We have known why (stumbling blocks have been placed in the way of trade with Russia. Hon. Members have not been quite as frank as the Minister in their public statements, and it is good that we have got down to bedrock now, because it gives us an opportunity of examining the bona fides of those who object to trading with Russia. We have heard from all sides of the House a sympathetic plea for trading facilities with Russia to assist, the herring fishermen of the North of Scotland, and we all sympathise with them very much, and we know, too, that, when facilities were granted for this trade and these herring fishermen were in full blast, as it were, Russia honoured every commitment to which she put her hand. Whilst the sympathies of many hon. Members opposite are stirred when they think of whole communities being stagnated and thrown into unemployment due to this petty political prejudice against Russia and her people, they must recognise that, after all, the suffering is confined to family after family, and the same suffering occurs in other towns and cities of our country, which are starving for the very trade that may be opened with Russia.
We have heard something with regard to Lincoln and the tremendous unemployment there, where we have the most skilful workers in the manufacture of agricultural machinery. I should like to give one or two of my own experiences in Russia, where I spent a very energetic five weeks 15 months ago. I know it has been said by hon. Members, and those who think with them, that a trade union deputation can easily be fooled. We did 1141 not know the language, we did not know our way about, and we knew nothing. We have published our report, and it is said to be untrue. I can stake my reputation, of which I am fairly proud, in saying something on the Floor of the House, where at least I cannot very well be challenged as having a wilful desire to deceive. On behalf of my trade union colleagues I can say we are not quite the duds some people would have it believed we are, and that when we go seeking information we are not possibly as easily deceived as people who would go to look in quite another direction, and for the short period we were there we did not work, as some well-to-do people might, for a few hours a day and the rest in the hotel. We worked from nine in the morning till three o'clock next morning.
§ Mr. BROMLEY
I accept the justice of your ruling, Sir. I want to come to this. We realise that the unemployment in the herring fishery is caused by the great Russian trade being closed to them. For the same reason there is unemployment amongst British engineers. When we were in Baku we were in a railway refreshment room. My friends, I think, were having beer. I was having coffee. A man there accosted us, addressing us in English, or rather in American. He told us he was over there with 2,000 motor ploughs from the States and that he had remained to instruct the Russian farmers and peasants in the application and manipulation of the ploughs. He was going back—I think he said to Philadelphia—for another consignment of 4,000 motor ploughs. Our Government, from political prejudice alone, is standing in the way of a great deal of that trade being done by British engineers. We visited another place where a great electrical works was being erected, and an Englishman there, the representative of a very great British firm, took us into another part of the works and pointed out that here was a tremendously valuable and enlarged volume of electrical fittings which came from Czechoslovakia. He point out how British capital, through the Anglo-Czech bank, had financed the sending of this material to Russia. British capital had its interest, but Czech 1142 labour was producing and supplying the material. The same British capital might have employed British engineers in sending that stuff into that works. I have the card of that gentleman as proof of his bona fides.
We found great electric works and stores containing electric fittings from Germany, and it was pointed out to us that the instructions and erection were all in German, and that if British manufacturers had supplied the materials they would most likely have been in English. We saw trade going on with Russia from America and Germany, employing the very labour that we could supply, and superior to both those countries, part of it financed by British capital through the Anglo-Czech Bank, while British skilled workmen are unemployed in this country because of the political prejudices of people who are steeped in politics and not in humanity. There is, we are confident, every possibility of tremendous trade for the skilled workmen and engineers and the steel workers in this country if we develop trade with Russia. Grief has been expressed from the Government benches respecting the tax payers' money being given to Russia. We sent £100,000,000 to assist Denikin to break up Russia, to destroy its coal mines and its railways. In this country steel works are working intermittently. In my own constituency there are steel works which work intermittently, which close down three weeks before an election and open afterwards. What is the position of the Russian railways? We travelled hundreds of miles through the Ukrane and Southern Russia, where Denikin did his devilment, and we saw bridges which had been blown up, station buildings burnt out, and splendid locomotives, 40 or 50, lying in the gutters, which had been subject to shell-fire. These railways and all this rolling stock have to be re placed, and if facilities were granted to our traders with Russia it would enable the British engineer to be employed. We saw a railway where the single-line bridges had been blown up—
I must point out to the hon. Member that this Vote is for export credits. It is credits we are considering, and not the amount of work that is necessary to be done in Russia.
§ Mr. BROMLEY
I wish to be exceedingly respectful to your ruling, but I do submit, with respect, that I am endeavouring to show where there is use for the credit facilities that could be granted, if it were not for the prejudice of the Government. I got up to compliment the hon. Member the Secretary for the Over seas Trade Department on his frankness in stating practically that it is nothing but political prejudice. Hon. Members opposite have spoken about the repayment of British bondholders by Russia. One hon. Member gibed at hon. Members on this side, and asked why we did not buy Russian bonds on the Stock Exchange. Speaking for myself, I reply, because I would not touch the unholy thing which gambles in the lives and souls of humanity. There are people on the Stock Exchange who bought and sold ships of food stuffs which were coming to the wives and widows of soldiers in this country during the War, and made great profit. That is why some of us will not have anything to do with these things. The hon. Member was permitted to gibe at us, and I give him the answer. When we come to the question of the repayment of the Russian debt, I ask hon. Members opposite whether all the debts said to be owing by Russia are honest debts. I would ask them to look into some of the claims made against the Russian Government, and see whether they are for the loss of trade of English mistresses of the Russian officers of the late Czar's army. I ask them carefully to scrutinize—
I do nor think this has anything to do with the question before the Committee. I cannot keep calling the hon. Member's attention to the rules of Order.
§ Mr. BROMLEY
I am extremely sorry. I do not wish to challenge your ruling, but permission was given to hon. Members opposite to say these things, and as they were granted that licence by your predecessor to some extent I thought that I might be given an opportunity of answering them. I am pleading for the people of this country who are unemployed—the trade unionists whom we represent. I represent a constituency where ships could be built and where men have been unemployed for three or four years. If facilities were given to enable Russia to trade with this country it would make work for our people who are unemployed, 1144 in addition to the herring fishers of Scotland. I would appeal to the Government to remove this embargo and to give an opportunity for this trade with Russia. I am not so much concerned about Russia as hon. Members opposite may think. I am concerned about our own people. The attitude which has been adopted by the British Government since the Labour Government was dethroned in regard to this issue is creating the possibility of trade beng slack with this great nation of Russia in its rebuilding, and continuing our present condition of unemployment.
There are in Russia, as in this country, two shades of opinion, even under the Soviet regime. One section, and it is in the ascendancy at the moment, says, "We want to develop the tremendous potentialities of Russia. We want to make it a wealthy country, and we are prepared to let in foreign capital, under certain advantageous conditions." There is a great minority, which has been given a fillip by the action of the British Government, which says, "We have abolished capitalism in this country. We are feeding and clothing our people and giving them good homes and amusements, and they will never be happier if we clothe them in gold. Therefore, if we take 50 years to develop Russia, let us keep out all foreign capital from our land." That may be all right for the Russian people from that point of view, but it would certainly be disastrous to our country, a manufacturing nation, which depends so largely upon the exports of our craftsmen.
I trust that, after the frank statement which we have had from the other side, the Government will try to believe that some of us on these benches are sincerely and honestly anxious in this matter, and that we do not simply talk through our hats, as some of the Members opposite may think. We are sincere in wishing for a greater market for our goods and more work for our people, and if nothing but political prejudice stands in the way it ought to be blown away like mists before the morning sun.
As a Scottish Member, I should like to say a few words on the subject of the herring fisheries. Hon. Members opposite are trying to make this matter a question of politics and not of humanity. When I was 1145 standing for Yarmouth in 1922, I remember that we sent a deputation to see Mr. Kerensky, who had then come over from Russia with a view to opening trade. The deputation was received by him and he inquired their object. They said that in view of the famine in Russia and the starvation of the people they wished to see whether they could extend to Russia the sale of herrings. He said that had he known that they only wished to speak about herrings, he would not have received them; that Russia was short of railway material and rolling stock, and that was the subject more to his mind. The deputation proceeded to argue that as Russia was then supposed to be starving, they thought the time was opportune for re-opening trade in the sale of herrings. He said, "I am afraid you have rather misjudged the position. Those who agree with us are not starving; it is only those who do not agree with us." That may be politics, but it is not humanity.
I meant M. Krassin. I am sorry I made a mistake. As I sit for a fishing constituency there is no one who is keener than I am to restore this market for our fishermen. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir Robert Hamilton) was not exactly accurate when he said that 90 per cent. of the herring catch went to Russia. I think about 80 per cent. was sold in Russia and Germany. But, after all, I think we really ought to leave this matter in the hands of the Government. Although it may be desirable to re-open negotiations it is quite impossible to guarantee this trade until the situation in Russia has improved sufficiently to warrant it. I am thoroughly in accord with opening this trade to our fishermen, but I do not see that we should hold our hands out unduly to Russia.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
It is very interesting to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) give reasons why there should be no trade with Russia so far as the herring industry is concerned, and yet all the time we have a standing example that trade has been done with Russia in herrings through the Export Credits 1146 Scheme and that Russia did pay the money due to this country for herrings when it became due. The scheme having once been put into operation can very well be put into operation again. Many years ago I had the misfortune to have to earn my living on the North Sea as a fisherman. I thought it was a shame that I should only get 17s. for eight days a week; and it is eight days a week fishing on the North Sea. When we brought a catch of fish into the Humber and the market had not been sufficiently well "rigged" it used to go to the destructor to be turned into manure. I always thought it a very bad system which would not let us put good food into the hands of the people who needed it. No Government, and no Government Department or any Minister of the Government, should keep these men from getting the full value and reward for their labours. It is not playing the game as a member of the Government and it is not playing the game to these men who are risking their lives hundreds of days every year. If only for the sake of these men, I ask the Government to allow them to have a proper market for their fish. They have had it before and why should not the same thing operate again?
I am afraid the Government believe that if they once open the door even a little bit other industrialists will also want to do trade with Russia. I am a member of the Committee, and the Secretary of Overseas Trade Committee is also a member. I remember being at a meeting when an industrialist said that trade would be bad in his particular constituency unless and until we obtained trade with Russia, and we got exactly the same kind of outburst from the Secretary of the Overseas Trade Department, a tirade against Russia, just as we got last year. They would not pay their debts, he said. Any Member of this House knows that if the Labour Government had remained in office a debt settlement would have been made, and if hon. Members opposite really think that Russia does not intend to make some kind of settlement of her debts let me tell them that if they make inquiries in the proper quarter they will find that it is not Russia that is standing 1147 in the way of a settlement of private debts.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
The hon. Member says they have pinched his furniture. He left his furniture there for years and made no attempt to get hold of it. Recently he made an attempt and found that is had gone; and I do not wonder after all these years. You lose things in depositories in this country. Hon. Members opposite instead of trying through a microscope to find reasons why we should not trade with Russia should find out reasons why we should.
The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) said that he was connected with industrialists who are doing business with Russia and who are going to do business with Russia. Are these people wrong in their heads? There is no industrialist in this House or in the country who is daft enough to do trade with a country that is not going to pay. I think we should extend the operation of this export credits system. There are men in this country who are unemployed and, as has already been said, any small amount of trade which will provide work for any small number of persons is worth getting. I ask the Government to recede from the hopeless position they have taken up. A Committee is being appointed to make recommendations as to whether or not grants for more facilities for export trade with Russia can be made. I think the Committee should have the opportunity of coming to a decision independently and that no Minister has a right to override the decision of any Advisory Committee set up to advise in a particular class of business. An hon. Member opposite said that he was prepared to do anything to induce the Government to change its mind. Yes, there are a lot of Members opposite who will do anything to get the Government to change its mind except vote against them. If hon. Members opposite really mean what they say on this question of trade with Russia and giving some employment to people on the unemployment list at home, they will vote against the Government and compel 1148 them to resume trade with Russia by which they will do something to remove some of the miseries of our own people.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
As Member for the largest fishing port in the country, I should like to say a word on the question of herrings. I have every sympathy with hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies, because the fishermen during the last herring season were not able to dispose of their catch. What I would point out is that no Member of this House has tried to do more for the fishing industry than the hon. Member who is Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department. He thoroughly understands the whole question, and he has done all that is possible to open out markets for the fish that is landed on these shores. Let us for a moment consider the real position of the herring industry. Before the War undoubtedly there was a large quantity of herrings exported to Germany and Russia. Who financed the purchase of the herrings exported? The German buyers. They could come into our market and buy today, and they do so. Why do they not do as in pre-War times, that is, buy these herrings and export them to Russia? Because they know the probability is that they will have to give very extended credit, far longer than they can afford to give for such an article as the herring, which returns only a very small profit.
It is true that in 1924 the Russian Government, through their various agencies, bought heavy quantities of herrings here. That gave us one of the best herring seasons we had had for years. It is true also that the Russians paid for them. I am telling everyone that. They bought large quantities because they wanted to show the people of this country that the Russians might possibly be good customers in the future. There was a Treaty being talked about at the time and this was part of the business—to make large purchases. I know what I am talking about. The real reason why the Scottish herring fishers and the English herring fishers had a bad season in 1925 was that the Russian market had been overstocked in 1924. To-day there are thousands of barrels of herrings in Leningrad waiting for customers. The Russian Government over-purchased. Through lack of transport they could not distribute the herrings, and they now have them in 1149 stock. To-day, if the people in Russia want herrings, they will be supplied with them, because there is sufficient credit in this country to purchase all the herrings that we have in stock. But what is the good of the Russian Government or its agencies buying herrings here if there is no market for them in Russia? The Minister is doing the right thing in taking up the stand he has taken. If left alone the time will come when the Russian buyers will be in the market again, but that will not be until they have exhausted the stocks which they have. To talk about improving trade by granting credit facilities is ridiculous in face of the fact that there are these stocks in Russia still unsold.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I wish to ask the Government to be good enough to make clear the position which they are creating by the extraordinary exposition of their new policy. In the first place, we should like to know what is their conception of this Export Credits scheme. Have the Government begun to believe that private enterprise in this country has failed, and are they slowly introducing State commercialism by beginning with the Export Credits system, or do they believe that private commercial enterprise in this country remains as it was and under normal conditions private merchants are trading as before, and it is only under extraordinary conditions, where normal conditions are not satisfied, that the Government are asked to intervene with the Export Credits system? If that be so, it is no use trying to point out in the case of Russia some form of abnormality, because it is on account of such abnormal conditions that the Government are called upon to put into practice the new assistance in the shape of export credits. We were openly told by the Home Secretary that the Governments have made it a practice and a principle to turn down the advice of the Advisory Committee to trade with Russia, because it is the Soviet Government that is ruling Russia. I grant that the Government are at liberty even to act wrongly and to set aside the advice of the Advisory Committee, if they are so determined; but we are entitled to know the exact reasons and purpose of that policy.
1150 The Government cannot put forward the ordinary economic reasons, because there is not a tittle of evidence that the Soviet Government have entered into any commercial transaction where they have-ultimately failed to keep their bargain. There is abundant evidence, on the contrary, that trade with Russia is going to other channels and to other agencies which have found it perfectly satisfactory and well paid for. Such transactions, in fact, have been even better paid and more honourably fulfilled than some transactions within the Empire. I can point out to the Government instance after instance where the creditors of Indian buyers within the Empire have come to greater grief than any creditor trading with Russia. It has become a notorious fact. There is no economic reason or evidence put forward by the Government for their policy. If their policy is based on political motives the Government are entitled from political motives to overrule the decisions of the Advisory Committee. But again we are entitled to know the exact purpose of that policy.
The Home Secretary has a great horror of Russians interfering in the politics of this country. He now and again comes forward with some imaginary political incitement, carried on through some unknown and imaginary Russian agency in this country. Do the Government mean, by holding back and denying to British traders trading with Russia the facilities of the Export Credits Scheme, to incite the people of Russia to overthrow their Soviet Government in case they desire to trade with Great Britain? Is that the purpose? Is that the hypocritical aspect of life of the Home Secretary—to pretend pious horror of interference by imaginary Russian agencies in the politics of this country, and yet at the same time to establish a policy which says to the people of Russia, "If you want to trade with us under normal conditions, just go and overthrow your legitimate Soviet Government." Is that the purpose? We want to know. The Government and their followers time after time, against their convictions, against facts known to them, have tried to make the working classes of this country believe that Communism and Bolshevism are very horrible.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
The Government have themselves enunciated the policy that it is through some other motive which they have not explained that they have established a policy of putting aside any recommendations of the Advisory Committee for trading with Russia, and I am trying to get a confession out of the Government as to what that policy is and what the motive for it is. Are the Government really afraid that if the people of Russia are put on a normal trading condition, then Communist rule and Soviet rule would be proved to be such a great success as to be a good example set to the working classes of this country? Is it because of that fear that they are interfering with Russian trade, amid trying to put it down by hook or crook? Will the Government explain what is at the back of their minds when they want to stand in the way of trade with Russia? We ought to know where we stand in that respect.
§ Mr. PALING
After the somewhat rash, but very emphatic, statement of the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, backed up by the more considered, but equally emphatic, statement of the Home Secretary, that no facilities will be given under the Export Credits Scheme for trade with Russia, I wonder what is the position of the Advisory Committee? It appears to me that Committee is being put into a secondary position, and is being treated with a certain amount of contempt. This is a highly contentious question, which has been discussed in the House of Commons on many occasions, but some of us never learned until to-night that the Advisory Committee had never even the opportunity of discussing any possibilities of applying the Export Credits Scheme to trade with Russia. To-night we have learned, owing to a very simple confession by one of its members, that the Committee never has an opportunity of discussing these questions. If I remember aright, the hon. Member in question said that every application would be discussed on its merits, and that if a question regarding trade with Russia came before the Committee they would deal with it on its merits. That statement was followed by the emphatic statement of the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department that he would veto any such suggestion. Therefore, we may take it that the 1152 Advisory Committee never had an opportunity of dealing with these applications. This was set up to deal with a specific question, and, apparently, it was to be free from any political bias or any attempts to hamper its decisions.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The hon. Member will allow me at this stage to point out a matter which perhaps I ought to have explained earlier in the Debate. He talks about political bias, but I assure him it is not political bias. This non-acceptance of business in relation to Russia is not the only case of the kind. Acting officially, in accordance with the instructions of the House, and within the powers conferred upon this Department, the Export Credits Scheme for a long time granted no short-term export credits for India, a circumstance which hon. Members opposite seem to have forgotten. Some three or four years ago, owing to a fall in the price of goods sent to India, certain Indian firms refused to take goods which had been sent to them. I myself spoke from those benches opposite on behalf of my friends of the Manchester cotton industry, and they desired that no facilities should be given to the export of cotton goods, at short dates, to India. There was no political bias there. It was merely the ordinary prudent course which again ought to be taken by any person in my place—to carry out a policy which would not allow the British taxpayers' money to be lost. That case is on a par with the position which we take now in regard to Russia. It is a matter of not allowing the taxpayers' money to be lost in a risk which we think is unjustified. I may add that Russia is excluded in the printed published regulations and consequently applications for Russia do not come forward.
§ Mr. PALING
Am I to take it also that, had any application been made in regard to India at the time to which the hon Member refers, application would not have been sent to the Committee, and the Committee would not have had the opportunity of dealing with it?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I think the case would have been treated exactly as the Russian case has been treated. Had I been Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department at that time I would not have permitted any short-term export credits to be given to trade with India, from the time when instructions were given that such credits were not to be conceded. I think the Committee will agree that it is an entirely parallel case.
§ Mr. PALING
During the time that embargo in regard to India was in operation, was any application made by anybody to be allowed to take advantage of the Export Credits scheme in order to trade with India, and, if so, was that application prevented from going to the Committee?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I was not Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department when the exclusion of India was discussed, but I took a great interest in the matter in debate. I remember insisting that credits should not be given to India in the circumstances, and I am therefore under the impression that applications were made, otherwise the point would not have needed attention in the Debate at the time.
§ Mr. PALING
That is not a complete answer. My point is that even if firms in this country, wishing to export to Russia, had made application, the hon. Gentleman would not have allowed them to go to the Committee. While the embargo was in existence regarding India, would the Government have said to the Committee in effect, "Because of the embargo you have nothing to do with this business," or would they have allowed the applications to go before the Committee with certain recommendations or information, and have allowed the Committee to settle the matter? I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that in those circumstances the applications would have gone to the Committee, and the Committee would have dealt with them.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I was a member of the Committee, and the applications did not come before the Committee.
§ Mr. PALING
I ask if any were made, and I cannot get the information. I am entitled to draw the deduction that if an application had been made at that time relating to India it would have been sent to the Committee as the body? responsible for dealing with it. That has not been the attitude of this Government with regard to trade with Russia, and, again I say, their political bias has prevented them from giving this responsible Committee even the most remote opportunity of giving any Export Credit facilities to Russian trade. The Home Secretary gave as one of his reasons or excuses for refusing these credits: "We will consider the question of Export Credits facilities for Russia when they have changed their economic system,"
What does he mean by that? Is it the fact that, because the economic system of Russia is not in line with that of this country, we are going to have nothing to do with them and, because it does not happen to be capitalism that we are not going to allow these trade facilities with Russia? Everything that has been said to-night has the appearance of showing that this kind of thing is due entirely to political bias against Russia. It is applied to nobody else. I would like to ask also whether the right hon. Gentleman could not apply the same method of reasoning to Russia as to the two countries who have defaulted, or rather the two firms in the two countries. He said that in the interest of those countries he did not want to make known the names of the firms. He did not want to injure the credit of the countries. He was anxious to keep up their names and reputations. I wish he would extend the same courtesy and the same manner to Russia. I wonder also if, in any event, from the employment point of view, the people of this country, other than those in the herring industries, as, for instance, those unemployed in Lincoln, in Gainsborough and in Scunthorpe, who make agricultural machinery and who are dependent on resumed relations and trade with Russia in order to bring back 1155 some amount of Prosperity to those industries—
§ Mr. PALING
I should like to ask whether it is a fact that a certain firm in Lincoln has been down to the right hon. Gentleman or his Department and asked to be allowed to trade with Russia under the Export Credits scheme, and whether it is not a fact that they have been refused, and that they were refused because of political bias? I should also like to ask if that particular scheme from those employers in Lincoln was allowed to go to the Committee for them to settle? I do not think it was, and these people are presumably to suffer because of the political bias of the present Government against Russia. There are thousands of people out of work who make machinery that Russia is wanting, and who are willing and anxious to enter into arrangements to supply that machinery if they can get the backing of this particular scheme.
It has been said time after time in this House that the question of unemployment was too severe and too big a question to be a party question. I also submit it is too big a question to be made the target of political bias such as has been exhibited in this House to-night. [An
§ HON. MEMBER: "Who by?"] By the Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, backed up by the Home Secretary. If the hon. Member had listened he would have known who by The people in this country will have great reason to grumble to-morrow morning when they read that unemployment is largely due to the fact of political bias. I am pretty sure that the fishermen, for instance, in Scotland and the makers of agricultural machinery in Lincoln and Gainsborough will wonder to-morrow whether they have done the right thing in sending into power a Government which is actually keeping them unemployed because of the political bias they entertain towards Russia. This question is much too big, I submit to this House, for any bias of that description to enter into it, and if by granting facilities to Russia under this scheme it means that herring fishermen in Scotland or the makers of agricultural machinery in Lincoln or Gainsborough are going to be set to work then the representatives of the Government ought to be big enough to put political bias on one side and grant facilities and so get people employed.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £17,900, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 109; Noes, 197.1157
|Division No. 55.]||AYES.||[9.31 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gillett, George M.||Lawson, John James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Gosling, Harry||Lowth, T.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Lunn, William|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenall, T.||Mackinder, W.|
|Baker, Walter||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertlllery)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Barr, J.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, T.||March, S.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Grundy, T. W.||Maxton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Paling, W.|
|Briant, Frank||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hardie, George D.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Bromfield, William||Harris, Percy A.||Potts, John S.|
|Bromley, J.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Purcell, A. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hayday, Arthur||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Clowes, S.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hirst, G. H.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Kelghley)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Dennison, R.||Kelly, W. T.||Sneil, Harry|
|Duncan, C.||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Dunnico, H.||Kirkwood, D.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)||Windsor, Walter|
|Templeton, W. P.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wright, W.|
|Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)||Welsh, J. C.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Thurtle, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Townend, A. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Whiteley, W.|
|Viant, S. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Wallhead, Richard C.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Goff, Sir Park||Murchison, C. K.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Gower, Sir Robert||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Albery, Irving James||Grace, John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Apsley, Lord||Grant, J. A.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gretton, Colonel John||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Penny, Frederick George|
|Balniel, Lord||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pering, Sir William George|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hall, Capt. W. D' A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Hammersley, S. S.||Preston, William|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsden, E.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hartington, Marguess of||Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. w. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Haslam, Henry C.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hawke, John Anthony||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cilve||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Henderson, Lieut-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Rye, F. G.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sor S. J. G.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Holland, Sir Arthur||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Homan, C. W. J.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Smith, R. w. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cassels. J. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Huntingfield, Lord||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(Will'sden,E.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jacob, A. E.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Cope, Major William||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Knox, Sir Alfred||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lamb, J. Q.||Waddinton, R.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Looker, Herbert William||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lumley, L. R.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Catheart)||Wiggins, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Maclntyre, lan||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|England, Colonel A.||McLean, Major A.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichffield)|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Widsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Fermoy, Lord||Makins, Brigadler-General E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fielden, E. B.||Malone, Major P. B.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Withers, John James|
|Forrest, W.||Margesson, Captain D.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Meller, R. J.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Merriman, F. B.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Gates, Percy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Gee, Captain R.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Mocre-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Stanley and Captain Bowyer.|
|Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Sallsbury)|
Question put, and agreed to.