§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
It is as well that we should spend Friday of this week in dealing with this very important question of unemployment. For the first four days we dealt with a matter of very great controversy, and notwithstanding the controversy which has ranged round this matter, the Bill which I am asking the House to accept to-day is by far the more important subject of the two. One can best describe this question of unemployment as the master problem of the age. It is not in any way a new subject as far as this House is concerned. It has figured very prominently in the Debates of this House, a fact which is not very surprising when we consider the magnitude of the problem. For the last six years, with, perhaps, the exception of two weeks, the queues outside the Employment Exchanges in this country have not been less than 1,000,000 persons. When one comes to analyse that on a family basis, we find that we have an unemployment population, i.e., including persons who are unemployed and their dependants, of between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 persons. The magnitude of the problem can best be realised when I say that our unemployed population is almost as large as the total population of Wales and Monmouthshire. Many of the men in these forlorn ranks are quite young, with their lives before them. Some of them have never had employment, and some have lost the habit of employment. They are already a long way down the road of demoralisation and failure. I wish it were possible for someone to bring before the country the appalling decay and loss of manpower involved. I am afraid, after our long acquaintance with it, that this depressing problem is reducing us to a sense of hopeless inevitability, and we are passing these queues day by day as if the question were a matter which must be allowed to continue. I agree with what the Prime Minister said three years ago, when we 1912 had only about three years' experience of the existence of 1,000,000 unemployed in this country. The Prime Minister said:It does not matter what profits are made by the middlemen, the banks and the railway companies, as long as you have this mass of unemployed in the country, unless we can improve the conditions throughout the country the whole edifice will crumble and fall.That was the opinion of the Prime Minister three years ago. Now, of course, we are more concerned with the question of the Trade Disputes and the Trade Unions Bill, and I have no doubt that the Prime Minister and hon. Members opposite will endeavour to justify their support of that Bill, which received its Second Reading last night, owing to the fact that they will claim that there has been a tremendous number of working days lost owing to industrial disputes. There have been a very large number of days lost during the last eight years through industrial disputes. The Minister of Labour, in reply to a question in the House of Commons in November last year, said that during the last eight years I he number of working days lost in this country owing to industrial dispute was something like 340,000,000. One is bound to admit that that is a colossal loss, and I can quite understand hon. Members opposite endeavouring to emphasise it. But when one is analysing that loss, it can easily be proved—colossal as those figures are—that the major portion of the loss through industrial disputes is attributable, not to strikes but to lock-outs which were initiated by the employers. In dealing with the loss sustained as the result of industrial disputes—these 340,000,000 working days—I find that the loss is nothing compared with the colossal loss of working days in this country during the last seven years as a result of unemployment.
If we take the year 1921, there were nearly 100,000,000 more working days lost through unemployment in that one year than were lost during the whole of the eight years owing to industrial disputes. If you take the six years from 1920 to the end of last year, we have no less than nearly 2,000,000,000 working days for which unemployment benefit has been paid. These 2,000,000,000 working days have been lost owing to unemployment, and these figures do not in any way in- 1913 clude the days for which men have not received unemployment benefit, when men were struck off the list and a number of them were in receipt of Poor Law relief. That shows the loss as far as working days are concerned. I was interested in a reply to a question which the right. hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) who, on the 29th March last asked him if he could give an account of the total amount of money paid in unemployment benefit, out-of-work donation and Poor Law relief to able-bodied persons. And here again we have a sum of nearly £400,000,000 paid from 1918 to 1926 only under these three heads. Well, that is the problem. It was estimated by a well-known financial expert who is a member of this House in a speech that he delivered here in the month of March that, if you calculated that unemployment will be wiped out in ten years, the present value of keeping an unemployed man in this country is at least £300. It is probably more like £500. That is the cost to the country of the maintenance of one unemployed man. I wonder whether the Members of this House are giving sufficient attention to the real causes of unemployment. I know it has been said that we have not yet reached our percentage of export trade.
I find that in a supplement to the "Economist" this week dealing with the Economic Conference now being held at Geneva, it is definitely stated that before the War it was estimated that 30 per cent. of the total production of this country was exported and that at the present time, the precentage of goods produced in this country and exported is not 30 per cent. as it was before the War but 25 per cent. Take the coal mining industry, which is an industry about which I claim to know something. We have something like 200,000 persons unemployed. I think the exact figure is 205,000. I will not enter into a controversy about the eight-hours' day this morning, because I would like to keep the discussion above the question of controversy. If you take the application of the eight hours to the mining industry—I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me in this—something like 80,000 and 90,000 men are unemployed to-day; in other words, there are em- 1914 ployed in the mining industry to-day between 80,000 and 90,000 fewer men than there were prior to the stoppage of last year. The figures in regard to some of the exporting districts are very interesting. If you take South Wales, there are something like 23,000 fewer men employed in the mining industry to-day than before the stoppage, in Durham something like 21,000 fewer, and in Scotland 13,700 fewer. If you take not only the exporting areas, but even the areas which are producing coal for inland purposes, in no case are there as many men employed in the mining industry in any district as was the case prior to the stoppage.
In regard to those 80,000 or 90,000 fewer men who are unemployed in the mining industry, if one desired to be controversial one could say that that is a direct effect of the Eight Hours Act. I happen to know a very large number of these men. In one of our mining valleys, the Rhondda Valley, it is estimated that there are something like 10,000 men who will not again be absorbed in the mining industry. In my own valley of Aberdare, it is estimated that there are between 1,500 and 2,000 men who will not be absorbed again. I live amongst these men, and if there is one thing that will terrify me in going home at the week-end it will be having to meet these men, amongst whom I have lived and worked all my life; men who are not loafers, who are not desirous of drawing the dole or unemployment benefit, but men who may be described as some of the finest miners in the world. If you take from these men the right to work, you almost take from them the right to live. Through no fault of their own, these men have been thrown out of employment. To be quite candid, I can see very little prospect of any of these 23,000 men in South Wales being again absorbed into the industry. As a matter of fact, my opinion is supported by one of the best known and one of the largest colliery owners in South Wales, Sir David Llewellyn, who, speaking at a meeting of one of his companies the other day, said that he was satisfied that it will he impossible to re-absorb these men back into the mining industry, and he is hoping that something will be done to deal with the men and get them absorbed into industry before next winter.
1915 I wonder if the Ministry of Labour is really conversant with what is the real problem in the mining industry, not only in this country, but in every country in the world. The three principal coal producing countries are America, Great Britain and Germany. In 1913, 78 per cent. of the world's output of coal was produced in those three great countries. In 1925—I will not take 1926 into consideration, because of the coal stoppage in this country—the percentage of the world's output of coal produced in those three countries was something like 2 per cent. less than in 1913, so that instead of having an expanding industry we really have an industry which is gradually going back. It cannot be argued that this is owing to the question of the price of coal. The right hon. Gentleman must know that we are producing coal, putting it on the railways, taking it over the railways, putting it into the ships free on board, at a price cheaper than it has been for the last five or six years. The price of coal at the present time is even less than the price was in 1925, notwithstanding that in South Wales something like 4s. 6d. a ton was paid in 1925 in respect of subsidy.
It would be very interesting to quote some of the figures dealing with the question of the census of production. The census of production dealing with the mining industry gives some very interesting figures. In the comparison between the production in the industry between the years 1907 and 1924, it is very interesting to note that the output of coal in this country in 1924 was 1,000,000 tons less than it was nearly 20 years ago. Some of my hon. Friends will argue, as they are entitled to argue, that notwithstanding this reduction in production there has been an increase in the number of men employed. That is so, but that can be best explained by those people who have some knowledge of the mining industry. The causes of the difficulty in the mining industry, and there can be no doubt about it, are that new factors have been introduced for the purpose of power production. Take hydro-electricity. We have no fear about the development of hydroelectricity in this country or its effect upon the mining industry; but the main cause of our difficulty in this country and that is the growing use of oil for power production.
1916 I can quote figures given by some of the best-known experts in connection with this question. In 1913, we exported something like 100,000,000 tons of coal, coke and patent fuel from this country for the purpose of power production, and it is estimated that, of the 100,000,000 tons, 50 per cent. of the coal exported from this country was used for bunker purposes. At that time only about 1 per cent. of the shipping of the world was using oil as fuel. To-day, there has been a tremendous change. At the present time something between 13,000,000 and 20,000,000 tons of shipping, or nearly one-third of the shipping of the world, is using oil as fuel, and that has an effect upon the mining industry in this country greater than it has upon any mining industry of any country in the world. Again, I might refer to South Wales. Before the War we sent out from South Wales between 3;000,000 and 4,000,000 tons of coal annually for naval purposes. In 1925 we sent only 500,000 tons. The same thing must be said in regard to some of the other great ports, Liverpool, London and Southampton. We sent 1,500,000 tons of coal less from those ports in 1925 than we sent before the War. It is not a question of price, because well-known experts know that with the price of coal at the present time, coal as a fuel for the mercantile marine is -very much cheaper than oil. In fact, Sir Thomas Royden and some of the other great shipping magnates are of the opinion that unless there is the possibility of oil being reduced in price, they may some time have to convert their ships back to coal burning instead of oil burning.
These figures do not give the exact position in connection with the use of oil, because oil is being used for power purposes other than in the mercantile marine. Some very startling figures were given to me the other day by the President of the Board of Trade, showing that in 1916 we imported something like 345,000,000 gallons of oil into this country for all purposes, and in 1926 we imported nearly 2,000,000,000 gallons of oil. This oil was used for purposes with which I am sure most hon. Members are acquainted. The changes that are taking place in some of the large industrial countries can best be illustrated if I refer to the change that is taking place in America. In 1917 America, the percentage production of power from coal was 89.83 per cent. 1913, and in 1926 the percentage production of power from coal was 67 per cent., or a reduction of 16 per cent. So far as oil was concerned, the percentage production of power in the United States from oil in 1913 was 9 per cent., and in 1926 it had increased to 21 per cent. So it goes on right throughout the large industrial countries of the world.
What can be said of the coal industry can be said of the other industries, and I would ask the leave of the House to refer to one or two of them. Take the question of steel production, another staple production in a heavy industry. So far as steel production goes, we have some very interesting figures. Comparing 1907 and 1924, the value of the product per person employed in the steel industry has increased from £115 to £218, and when we come to analyse the number of persons employed in that industry there is a reduction in 20 years of over 10,000 persons. The same thing can be said of cotton. In 1907 in the cotton trade the net value of output per person employed was £79, and in 1924 £159. In that industry there is a reduction, comparing these two years 1907 and 1924, of nearly 60,000 persons. I want particularly to refer to the agricultural industry. In that industry, notwithstanding the increase in the population of this country, there are only about two-thirds of the number of persons employed as compared with the number employed in 1851. That is a very grave and serious situation.
What machinery have we for dealing with this increase of unemployment? It may be argued that we have a Ministry of Labour. It has been said during the last year or two that the Ministry of Labour, instead of being a department for the purpose of dealing with the question of unemployment, simply deals with the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and collects statistics. I wonder if that was really the purpose for which the Ministry of Labour was brought into existence? I have taken the trouble to read up some of the debates which took place on the question of unemployment as far back as 30 years ago, and I came across an interesting speech made in this House by Mr. Mundella, who was President of the Board of Trade. 1918 This is his conception of a Ministry of Labour:I have often sat at the Labour Commission and felt ashamed of the meagre character of our Labour Department. It was unworthy of the greatest industrial country in the world. I have now organised, through the generosity of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who tame to my aid, an efficient Labour Department. If it is not so I hope the House will make it efficient. For my own part I am determined it shall be an efficient Labour Department, and that it shall render assistance to labour by undertaking inquiries on matters affecting our great industrial systemWe did not have a problem of unemployment 30 years ago such as we have to-day. We had a surplus in those days, but it now appears that our unemployed problem will mean from 800,000 to a million persons. I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. Speaking on this Bill a year ago he said:As Minister of Labour, outside of the actual hours of administration I spend verb nearly every spare minute I have, apart from exercise, in trying to go into the, causes of unemployment and to find how it is affected by different governments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1926; col. 1863, Vol. 192.]The conception on these benches as to the real functions of a Minister of Labour is not that he should spend his spare moments in considering the question of unemployment. We think it should be the primary function of the Minister of Labour. I was interested to hear the statement made a short time ago by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), and Lord Oxford and Asquith in a statement he made in another place about two months ago, referring to the Ministry of Labour, doubted whether it was much more efficient now Than it was when it was controlled by the Board of Trade. If the Ministry of Labour was brought into existence for the purpose of collecting statistics and administering the Unemployment Insurance Fund, there may be some justification for it, but that is not what we desire to be the real function of the Ministry of Labour. It is for this purpose that we are introducing this Bill; not as a remedy for the problem of unemployment. We do not claim that, but we think it will give the Minister of Labour a better chance of dealing with the question.
What does the Bill provide? Its main provisions are simple. Clause 1 provides 1919 for the setting up of a powerful Committee called the National Employment and Development Board. This Board will have as its Chairman the Minister of Labour, and it will undertake the collection, preparation and publication of information and statistics relating to the work of the Board. In addition to the Chairman, it is to consist of the Ministers in charge of those departments of the State which can influence unemployment by the giving of contracts or by the employment of direct labour. Clause 2 gives power to the Board to make advances out of the funds at their disposal to be expended either in the United Kingdom or in any other parts of the British Empire, to or through such Government departments, Dominion or Colonial Governments, local or public authorities, or associations of persons, or companies, either by way of grant or loan, to be used for the purpose of promoting employment, including land development, land drainage, afforestation, opening up water power resources, railways, and other constructional works, and for the opening up of Crown Colonies and Protectorates. It will also consider the amount of work which will be required for Army and Navy contracts, Air Force contracts, inland revenue buildings and other Government buildings, including school buildings. There is obviously a vast deal of employment which the Government can directly influence year after year. Clause 3 gives the Board power to prepare national employment and development schemes, and authorises the Board to pursue a continuous investigation into the nature of and remedies for unemployment, and it provides that the Chairman of the Board shall annually present to Parliament a report containing full details of the preparation, progress and execution of such schemes. Clause 4 calls for the assistance of local authorities, and Clause 5 deals with the question of finance.
Here we ask that a sum of £10,000,000 shall be charged on and issued out of the Consolidated Fund in this year and each subsequent year. I know that a good deal of criticism will be levied against this proposal. Some hon. Members will argue that £10,000,000 is not sufficient to touch the fringe of this problem, and other hon. Members will 1920 argue that £10,000,000, considering the state of the finances of the country, cannot be set aside for a purpose of this kind. Those are the proposals of the Bill. I know it will be said by the Minister of Labour that the present unemployment Committee which is a Committee of the Cabinet, is quite competent to deal with this question, and that it is effectively dealing with the matter. Let us realise and try to analyse that statement. On the 16th February this year, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, in dealing with the question of schemes for which assistance is being granted, said:The number of men employed on the 29th January, 1927, on schemes assisted by the Unemployment Grants Committee Was 14,510 as compared with 32,273 on the 30th January, 1926. The total estimated cost of schemes approved by the Committee during the 12 months ending 31st January, 1927, was £6,355,979, as compared with £19,532,111 during the year ended 31st January, 1926."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1927; ml. 918, Vol. 202.]That is totally inadequate to touch even the fringe of a problem like this. I have no doubt that the Minister of Labour will argue that it is a bad Bill. If it is a bad Bill it is something better than what we have now for dealing with this question. I notice that the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) and some of his friends have an Amendment for the rejection of the Bill. If I refer to some other countries where the unemployment problem is as acute as it is in this country, and where the same method as that for which we ask is adopted, and if I prove to the hon. Member and to the Minister of Labour that it is possible in this Bill to do something for the unemployed, I wonder if I dare ask the hon. Member and his colleagues to withdraw their Amendment? I doubt very much whether I can hope for that result. I have no doubt, however, that the Minister of Labour is aware of the scheme and of the Committee that has been set up in Germany to deal with the problem. I saw a reference to the subject in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" in December of last year. There it was mentioned that a Committee such as that for which we are asking in this Bill was demanded to deal with the problem. That Committee was set up, and what 1921 has been the effect? In the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" for March we find statistical tables for the period since the industrial depression began in the autumn of 1925 relating to the productive relief schemes already sanctioned by the various States, and we find that these scheme have provided no fewer than 24,420,000 days of work for the unemployed of Germany. In connection with railways the Federal Government has given a loan of 100,000,000 marks to deal with reconstruction. In addition, it has spent an unexpended balance of 3,000,000 marks in providing for the construction of new Post Office buildings, also for canal construction, housing, export credits, rural improvement schemes, and we find that a sum of not less than 600,000,000 marks has been spent by the Reichstag for the purpose of dealing with these relief schemes.
§ Mr. HALL
From the end of 1925. What has been the effect of that in reducing unemployment? We find that the number of persons unemployed in Germany has been reduced by 430,000. Is not an effort of that kind well worth trying in this country? It cannot be argued that money could not be spent on improving railways and docks, on land drainage, land declamation and afforestation. There are a 101 schemes that could be put into operation in the country for the purpose of providing employment. I appeal to the Minister. I feel sure that he personally, rather than having to act merely as an administrator of the Unemployment Insurance Fund and a collector of statistics, would have preferred that his department should have been made a live department, so that he could deal with the root causes of this very difficult problem of unemployment. There is no need to remind him of the effect of unemployment on the population of this country. A well-known writer said:It is brutal in the misery it inflicts, and it is brutalising in its effects upon its victim, It needs but little imagination for the serious student to picture to him self the incessant shadow which hangs over the man, with wife and children dependent upon him, who may at any time, without fault of his own, find himself out of work. The descent into the pit is easy; and we need not wonder at the searing bitterness of him who has before him haggard wife 1922 and hungry children, and who finds himself helpless in the midst of plenty, homeless and starving in a world of luxury and extravagance. The better the man the more dangerous temper this state of things must breed. Not for ever will he tolerate this horror; and if in his hopelessness he strikes blindly at a system under which he and his suffer such misery, who can blame them? With the weaker men the gulf between 'unemployed' and 'unemployable' is narrow, and equally narrow the gulf between unemployable' and crime.That is the position. I listened with interest to a speech by the Prime Minister in December of last year. In dealing with the question of the coal dispute the Prime Minister said that his difficulty was not to come down to the House to be shouted at and sneered at, but his difficulty was at night, to think that there were 1,000,000 people connected with that great industry who were thrown, out of work. At the present time there are 200,000 men of that industry still out of work, and there are a million men and women in this country out of work. I appeal to the Minister of Labour and to the Government to give this Bill a Second Reading. If it will not do very much good in accordance with his opinion, it can certainly not do any harm. I am as convinced as I am that I stand here, that if the Bill is passed into law and given a fair trial we shall see an improvement in employment in this country.
§ Mr. GIBBINS
I beg to second the Motion.
We have heard from my hon. Friend almost sufficient reasons why the Bill should receive a Second Reading. I think that the view taken of this problem is determined very much by the question whether we consider unemployment is or is not essential to our social system. Judging by the paltry efforts made during the past few years, it would appear that a good many people are of opinion that unemployment is something that we have to retain in our midst always, and something which is useful and necessary to keep the present economic system balanced. If in 1927 we in this House are asking the Government to accept this small Measure to solve so great a problem, could there be a stronger confession of our failure or the failure of the present industrial system to deal adequately with a large proportion of our people? It may be 1923 said that no Government and no nation can have a complete control of all the factors that touch this problem. That may be true and it would be foolish to deny it. But in a day when man is practically supreme, by his inventive genius and mechanical skill, over all natural forces, surely the fact that in the twentieth century we cannot organise our human resources into healthy and wealth-producing services is a tragic confession that there is something radically wrong to-day.
It would not be so bad if this affected only a small proportion, but the recent report has stated—and I think it is an optimistic statement—that even in the best of times there will be at least 600,000. Some of us think there will be much more. Some of us believe it may be one million; to-day it is actually over 1,500,000 representing 5,000,000 souls, and these people are subject to all the effects which have been described by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall). The establishment of a national board would surely help the situation. It may be said that the Ministry of Labour is sufficient to deal with this body. I do not believe it is—not because of any lack of sympathy, but because of its limited powers. I am not so sure that we have grasped the real elements of this problem. I am convinced that there is a large field of inquiry yet to be explored in order to obtain the information upon which schemes could be based, and should be based. These schemes should not be for to-day alone, and I think the value of this Bill is that it is preparing for the days that are to come. If there is one charge which can be levelled against present-day civilisation it is that we are going on year after year, and generation after generation, knowin2 full wed that as surely as the night follows the day there will be cycles of unemployment, and nothing is done to meet the situation.
During the abnormal War period the nation was involved in an expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds. This Bill, if only by the provisions of Clause 1, at a comparatively small expenditure would enable all possible information to be, collected to help in dealing with this problem. If it is said that the Ministry 1924 of Labour can do it, I refer to one aspect of the case. To-day we have thousands of boys and girls leaving school at the age of 14. Some of them find work, but many of them are put out when they are 16 because Health Insurance has to be paid. Many of those between 14 and 16 do not get work at all, and it is an undeniable fact that thousands of them have not worked since leaving school. There is a problem in itself demanding the full attention of a board of this kind whose time would not be largely taken up with administration. You have this grade of people affected differently in different districts. You will find that in some districts many of the young folk are at once absorbed in industry. You will find districts like mine where there are fewer opportunities for the young to get work; and all these points can only be dealt with by a body such as we propose whose sole task would be that of dealing with the causes of unemployment and making the necessary grants and taking other steps to deal with it.
If this board were set up you would have there members of the Cabinet including the President of the Board of Education whose Department is touched by this problem. It might be possible for them to get the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal in a more generous way with the provision of training of young people by keeping them at school. Another aspect of the problem concerns the large number of ex-service men who are disabled but are not drawing pensions. They are on the Labour market; they are capable of doing certain classes of work but they are allowed to drift along until they become unemployable. An expenditure of a few millions per year would probably make these men self-respecting citizens adding to the wealth of the nation. In Liverpool alone we have about 20,000 of these men unemployed and if there is one aspect of the problem which deserves grateful and generous treatment by the Government it is surely this aspect. Many thousands of these men are roaming about, being pitch-forked here and there, and we have the sad spectacle of many of them residing permanently in our workhouses. There is also the case of the workmen ranging from 55 to 65 years of age. It is particularly hard in industries like shipbuilding for men of that age to find employment in these days of speeding up and increased 1925 production and the wholesale use of machinery. They constitute a large proportion of our unemployed to-day and as time goes on they will form a still greater proportion. What is required to deal with all these matters is a national board, which should be solely responsible for that task.
I have said that I believe the Ministry of Labour do not lack sympathy in this matter, but I believe that the Ministry to-day is more concerned with cutting down expenditure than with finding work, or even with sharing out such work as they are allowed to give as a result of grants for schemes. Let me illustrate that point with one out of many cases. I know a man who was a navvy and who has been out of work for two years. He goes down every day to the vacancies department and is informed that there is no work. Then a demand comes in for navvies but when he goes there he is told he is no good for navvying, although he is classified as a navvy. He is told that his hands are too soft because he has not worked for two years—and he is an ex-service man. I asked him if he had mentioned his case to the manager and he said he had done so and the reply was that they were more willing to give work to a man who had just recently finished work, because that man would be entitled to unemployment benefit. This poor unfortunate man to whom I refer had exhausted all benefit and was in receipt of poor law relief. I know that such a case as that would involve merely replacing one man by another; but it is a true case and the man is willing to assert the facts on oath. This man is 40 years of age—a fine, healthy, strapping man, and he is driven to the conclusion that he is never going to get work again.
Such instances convince me that the Ministry of Labour cannot do the work which we propose should be done by the National Board. As for the expenditure of £10,000,000, the Minister of Labour knows that if he has power through his officials to place men in employment that is mainly because of the grants that the Government give to various works. He also knows this, as does every Member on this Bench, that there are hundreds and thousands of men who have been employed during the past four or five years because firms have brought forward repair work that might have been done otherwise two or three years hence. I 1926 know crowds of chaps who, although mechanics, have been very glad to work as labourers rather than draw unemployment pay, just to keep going and to preserve their self-respect. This power to the Board would assist in that way. No one would claim that this Bill would immediately solve the whole problem, but if something is not done now, when we have passed through the unemployment crisis of to-day to the better days probably we shall forget, and over a period of good years nothing will be done again. Then we shall come to a cycle of bad trade, and the usual complaints and outcry and need for something to be done will arise. The nation should understand that it is far more costly, in the long run, to have a volume of unemployment like this, with all its effects, than to spend money in preparing schemes and making a start, so that, with goodwill and cooperation on all sides, there may be a willingness to interchange ideas and suggestions for remedying this evil. Surely this country, with all its wealth and riches, is not prepared to go on in this way.
I am not speaking of the theoretical, economical effects of unemployment, but because some of us have lived through it. I am satisfied that if every Cabinet Minister had to do 12 months looking for work, and to walk, as I have had to walk, seven miles to get on a stand, and then to stand there before somebody, no better than yourself, who simply looks at you and makes you feel as if nobody wanted you, and then had to walk back home again, something would be done. I am satisfied that if we could enter into the spirit of the unemployed man, if we could live for three months in the home of an unemployed man, with his wife and two or three children, with not even one week's pay coming in, something would be done. Many of us, in our earlier married days, had to borrow to keep ourselves going over the next week, but what about the poor unfortunate who has not had a week's pay for 12 months or two years? I am not blaming anybody, but it does not appear to me that sufficient interest is being taken in this terrible problem. In my Division there is a school for mentally defectives, much of the trouble caused through destitution and want. Some of the children who have been to this school years previously are 1927 now themselves married, and they in turn are producing of their kind. One girl who was there, I know, has, to-day, five children, and every one of them is mentally defective. As a magistrate sitting on the bench, it is pitiable to see young folk coming to the Courts and to have members of your own class, human beings, coming before you in these circumstances. The man whom I have mentioned, the man of 40 years of age, told me that he said to his wife: "It appears to me as if I am never going to get a job again, and the best thing I can do is to prepare to get a barrel organ and go round the streets." I am not blaming anybody, but it is a terrible problem to have to live amongst these people.
If this Bill will not do any good, and if the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) says it is not worth passing or supporting, very well, let somebody else give us some better method of solving the problem. I do not care whether it is the Tory, the Liberal, or the Labour party, and no unemployed man cares, so long as he gets employment or the wherewithal to live that life that everyone of us desires to live. I think the National Board proposed in this Bill would certainly do something. It would collect information to save us going through all the work again in the future, and it would have the necessary power and authority and funds to deal immediately with schemes to provide work. It would be in touch, more than is the Ministry of Labour to-day, with all that goes on, and it would provide at least a foundation for setting up those schemes which are so necessary, when the days of industrial depression come along, to minimise unemployment and reduce its effects to the smallest possible amount. I think that in itself would justify the House giving a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words,this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which would extend bureaucratic interference with industry, and at the same time would fail to achieve its professed objects.1928 I think every Member will agree with me that the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for Second Reading have been interesting speeches, speeches worth delivering, and speeches in which they have made an attempt to contribute something towards the common stock of knowledge. I do not agree with a great deal of what they said, but I like the spirit in which the speeches were made. I am not, except in passing, going to attempt to harrow the feelings of Members of this House by any description of what unemployment means. Whatever other faults a Member of Parliament may have, having passed through a contested election, he has been forced, whatever his inclination may be at other times, to study the problems which affect those whom he represents. None of us who sit in this House for any ordinary constituency can be ignorant of the significance of unemployment and the appalling suffering which it entails, and because of that we can accept that. What we are after is to try to find methods for improving this condition of affairs. When I was a candidate for Wednesbury in 1922, nearly 40 per cent. of the insured workpeople were out of work, and I mention that to indicate that I have studied—I am glad to say, not my own personal case—what it means to others at very close quarters.
Before I deal with certain matters put forward by the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), who moved the Bill, I should like to deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for West Toxteth (Mr. Gibbins), who seconded it, when he referred to the thousands of young people suffering unemployment. If be had made that speech four years ago, I should have agreed with him, but I do not believe it is true to-day that juvenile unemployment in the main is a serious proposition, except, possibly, in one or two parts of the country. For some months, I think, as a result of a question which I addressed to the Minister, the right hon. Gentleman has included in the "Labour Gazette" a statement of the new entrants into insurance, and they are classified into men, boys, women, and girls. The men and women are presumably persons who were in uninsured occupations but who have come into insured occupations, whereas the boys and girls are the young people 1929 at 16 years of age who are entering into insurance because they have reached the insurable age.
Now these figures exclude those who may be staying at school or have gone to the University or any other higher form of education after that age, and they leave out of account all those who enter into uninsured occupations, notably agriculture and domestic service. During the month of March there were 30,369 boys and 22,617 girls who entered into insurance for the first time. In the previous month the figures were a little lower, 29,549 boys and 19,503 girls. The January figures, coming as they did shortly after the conclusion of the term, were markedly higher than the February or March figures. Broadly speaking, there are 30,000 boys who enter into insured occupations in a month, that is, 360,000 in a year. Let us see the significance of that. There are, roughly speaking, 400,000 boys and 400,000 girls for each year of age in the United Kingdom. Roughly, 360,000 boys enter insured employment, leaving 40,000, which includes those remaining at school, and those entering occupations not insured against unemployment. Those figures show perfectly conclusively that, taking the nation as a whole, the problem of juvenile unemployment is not the serious problem it was three or four years ago. I admit that in certain areas the problem still exists, but as a national problem in that particular sense it does not exist as it did three years ago.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am trying to explain that if young people at the age of 16 are being absorbed into industry at the rate at which they are, shall I say, being produced, then, obviously, there is no growing problem of juvenile unemployment. There may be a certain absorption necessary in order to overcome the arrears of the last few years, but if my hon. Friend will take the trouble to study the figures which appear in the November number of the "Labour Gazette," showing the number of insured persons from the beginning of July of each year since unemployment insurance became general, he will find that in the last two or three years there has been a rate of increase in the insured persons more rapid than would be expected from the normal in- 1930 crease of population, because we have been absorbing the arrears, and although to-day our unemployment is only about 180,000 less than it was, for example, when the present Government took office, the number of people at work is about 600,000 more. I do want Members of the House to realise that though the problem is a grave one, nevertheless a great deal has been accomplished by the normal operation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that all the 400,000 continue in employment?"] I did not suggest that for a moment. I am talking of the absorption. The extent to which they remain employed afterwards is shown by the unemployment figures for young people. The area of our ignorance lies between 14 and 16, and I was explaining what happened on the last day of that age period when they are qualified for unemployment insurance.
We are now absorbing at a rate equal to the rate at which young people are offering themselves for employment, and that is something with which we can be gratified. The Mover, to my surprise devoted a considerable time to the industry with which he is connected. I say "to my surprise," because, quite frankly, though exceedingly interesting, some of his speech seemed a little wide of the subject matter of the Bill. He drew attention to the fact that there are now, roughly speaking, 100,000 fewer employed in the coal mines than before the stoppage, and, incidentally, when the statutory hours of labour were seven instead of eight. Let us look a little further into that. Prior to the stoppage, the industry was passing through a little boom due to two causes—the artificial reduction in the cost of production due to the subsidy, and the fact that large numbers of people in anticipation of a stoppage were stocking heavily. Therefore, there was rather an abnormal demand for coal immediately prior to the stoppage.
Surely the proper way to investigate this subject is to go back further. Let us go back to June, 1924. I think my recollection of the figures is correct. I take that date because in June, 1924, under some measure of pressure from the Leader of the Opposition, the coalowners agreed to certain proposals made by the Miners' Federation. At that time, before 1931 the new agreement, there were only 39,000 registered coalminers out of work. That was in June, 1924. Within four months of the new agreement, though the winter was approaching when, in the ordinary way, one would expect increased employment in the mines, the unemployment had gone up to 139,000.
§ Mr. G. HALL
I do not want to charge the hon. Member with being unfair, but he must have in mind the fact of the Ruhr occupation, and the high price of coal as a result.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I agree. I have not forgotten the Ruhr occupation, but the Ruhr occupation was terminated at the same time as the new agreement, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who, I am sorry, is not here because of the unhappy cause which has detained him in the United States, claimed credit for preventing a dispute in the coalfields by bringing about the new terms, and in doing so entirely ignored the effect of the occupation of the Ruhr.
§ Mr. G. HALL
I am sure the hon. Member also has in mind the fact that during 1924 the profits of the industry were very considerable as the result of the very high prices paid for coal at the time.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not doubt that in the slightest, and I would also point out that if the basis had been left unaffected, the workmen would have shared in the whole of those profits—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—under the existing scheme of profit-sharing in the coal-mining industry. Another effect of the change was that it altered the basis, and, therefore, raised the cost of production fundamentally, and you had this great drop in employment. The situation which existed at the end of October continued to grow progressively worse, until in the summer of 1925 there were 300,000 coalminers out of work. We all remember what happened. There were the negotiations which led to the subsidy, and as a result there was a rapid drop in employment. But the real test of the coalmining industry in this country, left in an unaided condition with the seven-hour day, was the condition which prevailed at the end of June, 1924, when the coalmining industry for the first time was feeling the blast of international competition.
1932 I should not have brought in this issue if the Mover had not devoted a great deal of attention to it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Three-quarters of the miners are only working two days a week."] If three-quarters of the miners are only working two days a week, then the efficiency of the miners who are at work is at least 100 per cent. greater than it was two or three years ago, because the production per man is higher than it was before the stoppage. If three-quarters only are working two days a week, their efforts must be far more remarkable than that of any coalminers in the past. After all, surely those who are connected closely with the coalmining industry have some responsibility for our present position in the matter of unemployment. I remember the dispute of 1921, which commenced on a very appropriate day, the 1st April, and ended in a strike. [An HON. MEMBER: "Lock-out!"] We can argue whether it was a lock-out or strike. That is merely a play on words All right, call it "lock-out." Even if you do call it a lock-out, it does not affect the fact that the demand of the Miners' Federation at that time was for a subsidy in an indirect form; and whether you regard it as a lock-out or a strike, fundamentally positive action was taken by the Miners' Federation, and the dispute was only settled when the particular demand for a national pool was withdrawn; so what is the use of quibbling as to the fundamental nature of the action taken. That dispute wrecked our Unemployment Fund; at the date when it started the fund had a surplus of £18,000,000 or £19,000,000, and when it finished the fund was left with an enormous deficit, the exact amount of which I have forgotten. It forced a reduction in the scale of benefits, it forced an increase of the rate of contributions, and it left us with more than 2,000,000 unemployed, and it has taken us ever since then to reduce that number to a half. Those who by their action have supported lines of policy which have aggravated this problem have certain responsibilities which, I think, they have not faced.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
As to the 1926 dispute, some of it was a lock-out and some was not; some men received notice, and it is argued that they were locked out; some men themselves gave notice, and other men ceased work without giving notice at all. Everyone knows perfectly well that at least one-third of the miners who ceased work at the beginning of May last received no lockout notices of any kind whatever—some 300,000, at least. In the case of both those disputes there was on the part of the organised representatives a demand for external aid, a demand for aid from the rest of the community; and whether You call the initial action a strike or a lock-out does not affect the fact that in the long run the cause of the dispute was a demand for external aid in order to maintain in the industry a relatively artificial degree of prosperity.
What is the fundamental trouble with regard to coal mining? I am not in a position to lay blame in either direction. The coal-mining industry has been progressively less efficient, as measured by the production per man, over many years. I believe that arises from the fact that we have to go deeper and deeper for coal than in the past. We are up against physical conditions of overwhelmingly difficulty, and the improvement in our methods of production have not kept pace with the degree of difficulty experienced. For that reason coal mining is experiencing peculiar difficulties, which do not affect other industries as a whole. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill drew attention to some of the statistics in the Census of Production. He pointed out that employment in the steel industry and in the cotton industry showed a decline. That is quite true. On the other hand, new industries have grown up and have expanded enormously. Whatever view we take of this problem, we cannot judge it by concentrating on one industry or another, because the truth is that changes are constantly going on. Numbers of industries exist to-day which had no existence in 1907, and there are industries which existed in 1907 which have been wiped out to-day.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Artificial silk is certainly one example. It was not being produced in 1907. Part of the trouble experienced in the cotton industry to-day arises from the competition from new fabrics. We must recognise that this process of change is going on ceaselessly, and is an essential cause of the difficulty which some industries are experiencing. The Mover of the Second Reading said that unemployment will probably continue on the scale of 800,000, and the Seconder expressed the same view. They may be right or wrong; I am not so pessimistic. I believe that with appropriate efforts in the right direction we shall bring our unemployment in a year of reasonably good trade to some 2 per cent. or 2½ per cent., which represent, incidentally, a loss of one week in the year, and is nothing more, in the main, than the periods of idleness which occur through men passing from one job to another. In periods of normally good trade there is, broadly speaking, no such thing as any serious unemployment, but during periods of reaction we do suffer from unemployment, and neither I nor anyone else has yet discovered means of dealing with those periods of depression so as to avoid them entirely. The best methods of dealing with them is by a proper system of unemployment insurance, and I shall look forward with great pleasure to the Bill which is to be introduced later for the purpose of improving the whole system of unemployment insurance.
The Bill under discussion seeks to solve certain problems by spreading out work. I think there is a lot to be said for that suggestion. Municipalities and Government Departments are large purchasers of certain things, and are responsible for large constructive works, and it is essentially a sound idea for them to seek to spread out that work in order that it may fill some of the gaps in the cycles of trade. But that is being done to-day. No new Bill is needed to spread out the work which may be undertaken by Government Departments or municipalities. They have followed that policy in the past, and are likely to continue it in the future. There is no need to set up a new Committee in order to do something which is already being done and which, if necessary, can be done to an even greater extent. It is proposed that this Com- 1935 mittee should be a Committee for investigation. I think no Committee would be more unsuitable for that purpose, not by reason of the lack of talent of the present holders of the offices named or the lack of talent of possible future holders; but it is well known that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are already overwhelmed by the administrative work of their Departments and are not in a position to give the necessary attention to the investigation of economic problems. In my opinion that investigation is done very much better by the numerous people, whether they be private individuals or connected with learned institutions, who are engaged with these problems day by day. It is in that direction, I think, that we shall make the economic discoveries which are likely to help us. Though I have the most profound respect for anybody who has ever been a holder of any of these offices, I cannot think that, burdened as they are with administrative work, and occupied as they are, sometimes, in listening to our speeches, that they will have time to be an advisory, scientific and investigating body.
The Mover of the Second Reading drew attention to what had been done in Germany. He said Germany had provided 24,000,000 working days of work. It sounds rather impressive when it is put in that way, but if it is said that Germany has provided work for 1,000,000 men for 3½ weeks it does not sound quite so wonderful. Later he said Germany had found work by these schemes for 400,000 men. Work means continuous work, but I presume that providing 24,000,000 working days of work is not the same thing as providing continuous work for 400,000 people. He went on to say that Germany had spent £30,000,000 on it. That is a small sum in comparison with the amount we have already spent on effort of this kind. The expenditure of the Road Fund has been directed largely to assisting districts badly afflicted with unemployment. The Export Credits Scheme and the Trade Facilities Act have also been used for the same purpose. I am not for the moment considering whether those schemes have been any good or not. I am dealing with the question of the magnitude of the effort. If we are to judge it from the point of view of magnitude, the effort we have made is certainly 1936 far greater than that of Germany. I imagine the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour may deal with that point later, and I will leave him to give precise statistics, as I did not come prepared to discuss this aspect of the question.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Of course the roads are necessary, but surely the hon. Member does not suggest that we should dig holes in the sand simply for the purpose of filling them up again? The work which has been done in this respect was very necessary, and the sum which is alleged to have been expended for this purpose by Germany is smaller than the sum spent in this country. It has been argued that the real basis for this Bill is the fact that in Germany they adopt this particular method, and that good results have accrued as far as unemployment is concerned; in fact it is stated that unemployment in Germany has been reduced by these methods to the extent of 400,000. No one is going to suggest that the reduction in unemployment in Germany is due to anything else except the result of a normal improvement of trade, and the Germans have found themselves trading since the War on a permanent basis as far as values are concerned. It is perfectly impossible to adopt a system of employment under which you can regulate precisely the way in which you should produce certain commodities. It is impossible to regulate precsely production to supply.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Is the hon. Member aware that Earl Balfour said in March, 1909:The reserve army of Labour is necessary to the employer, but it is not the duty of the State to keep alive this army during the time it is not required.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
If that be so, then I am going to differ from Earl Balfour, and I am as much entitled to my own opinion as the most eminent person. The real value of an opinion is the arguments which are used in support of it. The question of a reserve of labour does not arise out of the individual ownership of capital, but it arises out of the fact that we have now split up the function of production in a great variety of ways. The fundamental reason is that you have different people producing different 1937 things. There is a great subdivision of industries, and although this may lead to greater efficiency, it is impossible to ensure an exact balance of production. There is one country which has made some attempt from the top through the Government to regulate the relationship of production to consumption, and that is the system adopted in Russia. I know in that country they have honestly attempted to run a system of State Socialism, and their biggest failure has been in the direction of the effort to maintain the balance of production. Under the ordinary system of private enterprise, where you have fluctuations in prices and profits, interest on capital and wages, you are able to regulate the supply of various commodities, and this system in the long run is a far more efficient method.
The hon. Member who seconded the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill said that at the present moment the unemployed numbered over 1,500,000. The hon Member should not exaggerate because the figures given for Great Britain yesterday were 1,045,000. I would like to point out that the live register includes everyone who goes to the employment exchange to try to get a job, quite irrespective of whether he is in receipt of benefit or not. There are on the live register probably 100,000 people who are out of benefit, but that does not alter the fact that they are kept on the live register. There may also be a considerable number in receipt of Poor Law relief and that does not affect the total. Nevertheless the live register figures are generally taken as the measure of unemployment in the insured industries within a limit not exceeding about 11,000.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Is the hon. Member not aware that the responsible Minister has told us that once extended benefit has been taken away there is no means of following up those cases so as to obtain the information whether employment has been obtained or not or whether Poor Law relief has been given. In these circumstances, how can the hon. Member argue that only the people on the live register can be reported as unemployed.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I presume that my fellow citizens out of work are decent people and want a job if they can get one. I presume that they go to the registry office primarily to get a job and not to get benefit. I am also assuming that the ordinary man who is seeking employment and has registered does not take his name off the books because his benefits are stopped. Therefore in this respect I have a much higher opinion of my fellow countrymen than hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
What does the hon. Member expect will happen to these people when they cease to draw benefit? They go to the boards of guardians. There are many districts like Reading where the percentage of unemployment is only 4.6, but in an area like Greenock it is 24, and I believe in Jarrow it is 42. Consequently in those districts there are no jobs to be found in those particular trades. What do these men do?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
It is evident that the hon. Member who has just interrupted me is not acquainted with what happened. I would remind him that there is what is called the two months file of the people who have got lost, and for two months after they are kept on the register as being unemployed and they number 130,000. In that 130,000 there are many people who are working in uninsured trades, or doing work that does not involve insurance, and therefore the live register includes a substantial number of people who are actually in work.
§ Mr. BROWN
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to say that I do not cast any reflection upon his knowledge of this problem, but apparently he overlooks the fact that by taking the total figure in the way he has done, he misses the whole root of the problem, because the unemployed are concentrated in certain areas, and they are not spread evenly over the whole country.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member says they are not spread over the whole country, but there is a good deal of spreading. In the whole of Scotland, which includes both Greenock and Leith, there were 139,000 unemployed persons, 1939 and in the London division 118,000. It is quite true that in South-western counties, which are so admirably represented by a number of Conservatives unemployment is less than anywhere else. I have now dealt with the statement that the unemployed numbered 1,500,000, and I have pointed out that the live register actually shows that the number was 1,044,000. We have to add about 60,000 to make up the difference in regard to the two months lost file.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand that those who have been lost are forced to file themselves once a year at the time of the issue of the new cards and that brings to light a great many of those people. I would also like to point out that the statistics collected by the Ministry of Health with regard to the numbers of unemployed persons who are in receipt of Poor Law relief, not at the time of the coal dispute but in a normal time, show that the number of really unemployed persons—the figures as published include all their dependants and are somewhat misleading—in receipt of Poor Law relief is relatively so small to the total number of unemployed persons that the number lost cannot really be very great. All that I am trying to establish—and anyone who will take the trouble to study the same documents as I have studied can establish it—is that, broadly speaking, our unemployment figures are not far from accurate; and, bringing in certain items not on the live register which are perfectly well known, there are to-day 1,150,000 unemployed persons in the United Kingdom.
The hon. Member for West Toxteth gave the total as over 1,500,000 and then went on to say that that represented 5,000,000 souls. That is not true. The relationship of the total number of persons depending upon work to those who are out of work is, roughly, as twenty is to nine. For every nine workers there are eleven dependants. The idea that the economic unit consists of a man, his wife, and three children is not true. Just under one half of the people work for gain, therefore, if there are 1,150,000 out 1940 of work, the total number of persons affected by unemployment is not 5,000,000 but about 2,500,000. I think that ought to be mentioned, because there is a good deal of misunderstanding. [An HON. MEMBER: "You bring it down to nothing!"] I do not bring it down to nothing, I only want to bring it down to the figure which represents the truth. Two and a half million is a distressingly high figure, but it is half five millions, which is a distressingly inaccurate figure. Socialists always have great faith in a Committee, and therefore the first thing they propose is to have a Committee. A well-known Bishop once said that if Noah had had a committee lie would never have built the Ark, and I certainly think that is true. I am all in favour of the democratic principle when dealing with questions of legislation, but when you come to do a job the fewer committees and the more it is done by individuals the better. For that reason, I am not at all enthusiastic about the first part of the Bill. I hate the bureaucratic addition which it will evolve.
There seems to me a curious indifference on the part of the supporters of this Bill to one factor which is certainly a cause of unemployment in this country. The hon. Gentleman who has just recently come to sit on the Front Bench opposite, the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), will not, I think, differ from me very fundamentally when I draw his attention to the fact that we import nearly £300,000,000 worth of manufactured goods. Some of those things we must import for perfectly good economic reasons, but we, are at this time importing £200,000,000 worth of goods of a kind which we could produce in this country, and it seems to me incredibly stupid that we should be importing goods which represent the employment of nearly 1,000,000 people in this country at a time when we have something over 1,000,000 unemployed. It would be quite improper for me to seek to divert the debate from the text of the Bill to the question of seeking to deal with unemployment by means of a restriction on the importation of undesirable foreign goods, but I think I am entitled, when the seconder asks me, to say that my alternative is certain economic changes of a fiscal nature, which I am not so foolish as to believe 1941 would solve all the problems, but which would solve many of the unemployment problems which exist in this country to-day.
I have enough notes to go on speaking for a long time, and I have certainly made the longest speech that I have made since I became a Member of this House, but there are just one or two other things that I would like to say. Having set up the Committee, the object of the Bill is to provide another 10,000,000 and to throw that in with such money as may be obtained by the Trade Facilities Act and the Road Fund and other things—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
No; all that has happened has been that the floating balance has gone, but the fund is being replenished at the rate of over £20,000,000 a year by the activities of people who ride about in motor cars—and to use that large pool for the purpose of creating work. Let us be quite honest. When I say that, I say it irrespective of any Party implication. The present policies which have been pursued by this Government, by the last Government, and by their predecessors were largely laid down under the Coalition after some exciting interviews which took place at Gairloch when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was enjoying a holiday, and summoned to his aid all the experts to work out an unemployment policy. A great many eminent people went there, and they worked out certain things, and then Parliament passed certain legislation. But, quite honestly, does it provide employment for a single person if the tax collector or the rate collector or the State in its capacity as a borrower comes to me, take this coin from my pocket, and spends it in giving work to a man who has been thrown out of work because I have not spent it in the way that I originally intended? Quite honestly, where are we in these matters? Have any of us, irrespective of Party, really studied the implication of this policy of attempting to create wealth? We look on this as an unemployment problem. But unemployment is the symptom, and bad trade is the disease. Let us there- 1942 fore concentrate on stimulating trade to run its normal course.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
It has been said that a fall in wages reduces the total purchasing power, and therefore causes unemployment. I am not one of those who likes to see wages falling; I prefer to see them rising, whether my own or anybody else's. But imagine for a moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. R. Richardson), who asked me the question, is an employer, and that he has employed me, and we are engaged in an enterprise which yields in a year the sum of £300. Then we have an argument as to our respective shares of the profits. Does it affect the purchasing power if his share goes up by £10 and mine drops by £10? [Interruption.] I am only pointing out or justifiable, or whether a wage decrease is justifiable or unjustifiable, it has no effect on the total purchasing power.
The total amount of purchasing power which becomes active as the result of the production of any commodity is the sum for which that article is sold, and that sum is going to be shared out amongst all the parties in the production—those whom we call capitalists, those who are engaged on the administrative side, those who are engaged in manual work, and those who supply the raw materials used. But the total amount of purchasing power brought into action as the result of the production of the commodity is precisely equal to the amount for which it is sold. If you have to reduce the price at which the article is sold, there has to be a re-arrangement of the shares, and that may result in a drop in profits, a drop in wages, and a drop in purchasing power. It is perfectly absurd for the party opposite to go on saying, as they have been for the last five or six years, that the sole cause of unemployment is the fact that the amount paid in wages is £600,000,000—I think that was the figure—less than it was when the value of money was far greater than it is to-day, although the purchasing power of wages in this country to-day is certainly much greater than it was five years ago, taking into account the lower value of commodities. There are now 2,500,000 more 1943 people at work than there were six years ago, the value of our products is certainly very much greater, and the real value of the wages in circulation is far greater now than it was five years ago, although the nominal value is less.
What is the real trouble? Changes are constantly going on in the volume and direction of expenditure, due to a great many causes. There is a gigantic economic disaster occurring in the United States of America at this moment, and that is going to have a very serious effect on employment—we do not know where yet, but it is perfectly certain that, as a result of that tremendous economic disaster which is occurring at this moment in the United States, certain people in nearly every country of the world will experience a period of unemployment. There was a terrible earthquake in Japan, and it is perfectly evident that a large number of people in this country are out of work at this moment owing to the diminished purchasing power of the people of Japan as a result of that earthquake. Economic disasters of this kind are quite beyond the control of the Government, and will certainly at all times be a cause of unemployment. In the old days, we did not call it unemployment; we called it famine—and famine it was in the old days. Unemployment to-day is merely the same disease, but we have advanced so much that it is not nearly such a serious disaster as it was in the old days. In the old days there was no relief, but in these days, by the linking up of world capitalism, by the development of methods of storage, and in one way and another, it has become the far less serious disease of periodic unemployment.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Yes, for reasons which are very largely outside human control. What is the use of pretending that by legislation you can control the weather, that you can prevent economic disasters from taking place? What is the use of saying that by ordinary legislation you can control the activities of military leaders in China, which are primarily responsible for a great deal of unemployment in Lancashire at this moment? We have to recognize these things, and we have to recognize the fact that they are have to recognize the fact that they are entirely beyond the control of this Parliament. Then there are changes in fashion. 1944 Some few years ago the young ladies, for our delectation, had their hair cut short—they were shingled; and there has been a most abnormal boom amongst the barbering profession. On the other hand, however, if you go to Redditch, where hairpins are made, you will find that the number of people employed in making hairpins has very materially diminished, and I do not suppose it is the poor hairpin girls who have obtained employment in shingling young ladies in London to-day. Periods of unemployment in certain industries are undoubtedly caused by changes of fashion.
Again, we sent our representatives to Washington, and there was a change in State fashion—a change in policy; we decided to abandon the policy of battleship building. I quite agree that from the economic point of view the building of a battleship is a form of waste, though it may be necessary in some circumstances. We went to Washington, and we cut down our programme, rendering idle, probably, £1,000,000 worth of specialised machinery, and rendering idle thousands of specialised men; and you cannot suddenly take a man whose job it is to roll armour-plate and give him a job manufacturing chocolates at York, because people have more money to spend on chocolates and less on building battleships. I have drawn attention to these vast changes in fashion and State policy in their relationship to taxation and the power to save. Which are the industries that are suffering most from unemployment at the present time? They are the industries producing what economists call capital goods—goods bought out of people's savings. Income Tax may be good, Super-tax may be good, Death Duties may be good—they may all have their social justification; but, if you limit people's power to save, inevitably you throw some workers out of work, and you render idle some manufacturers' machines. Let us recognise that some of these things are entirely beyond our control, and, therefore, do not let us pass into law Bills which represent so much economic eyewash.
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
I beg to second the Amendment.
While I have been listening to my hon. Friend, I have been filled with envy at 1945 the extent of his economic knowledge, and his familiar juggling with figures—[Laughter]—perfectly genuine juggling, and wishing that I myself, perhaps, could take a little more interest in those volumes of statistics which are so regularly published by the Minister of Labour, but which I honestly confess I do not understand, and have not the patience to try to understand. It is, however, very interesting to hear, from the admirable discourse of my hon. Friend, that things are not quite so bad as we imagined, that he is not so pessimistic as some hon. Gentlemen on the Benches above the Gangway, that in his view things are improving, that juvenile employment is not as bad as it has been, and that there are various world and economic causes over which we in this country, and the Conservative party in particular, have no control and for which we cannot take responsibility.
I would like to say how much I appreciate the very fair and non-provocative remarks of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), who opened this Debate, and who, in a speech of great eloquence and deep sincerity, and with, I think, a sincere desire to deal with this question of unemployment, showed to the House that he personally was prepared to regard this Bill, not as a party Measure, not as a matter of politics, but really as a matter which vitally interests everyone in this House as well as in the country. I think he gave a very dignified opening to a Debate which is now, I fear, becoming an annual occurrence. If I might for a moment or two refer, perhaps in a slight spirit of criticism, to some of the remarks which he made, I hope that what I may say will not be taken as intended to be provocative. The hon. Member said that one of the principal causes of lost working days last year and the year before was lock-outs. From that I understand that he wishes us to infer that the great cause of the lack of employment in this country is due to the action of the employers, because I am beginning to take it as an axiom that, although a strike may be the term used for employés stopping work, if for any cause whatever employers dispense with workmen, that is a lock-out, whether it be due to economic or any other causes.
1946 I was rather surprised to find that the employers had, through the lock-out, been responsible for a great part of the unemployment and the difficulty in industry. I do not think I am quite prepared to accept that statement entirely. In referring to the mining industry, of which he has so intimate a knowledge, he did not mention that during the war a very large number of men were absorbed into the mining industry, more than it could possibly use during normal employment, and it necessarily followed that now the war is over, when we are trying to get back to normal times, part of this influx of men has to go out of the industry on to the unemployed list. It is purely a post-War result, and I do not think any party in the State can be held responsible for it. He also referred to the large number of reductions in the cotton trade. The great trouble in that trade has been short time, and not absolute unemployment. I know of very few mills, if any, which have obsolutely been stopped for lack of production or lack of work. It is simply that they have had to work two or three days a week or other short time. Then the hon. Member went a little further and criticised the Minister of Labour. I think my right hon. Friend has the sympathy of all parties in the House in being the Head of a Department which has to deal with such a terrible problem. If I understood him rightly, in criticising the Minister he said he was simply the Head of a Department which collected statistics, paid out unemployment benefit, looked after the dole and things of that sort. I was rather interested to find in the Bill we are supposed to be discussing the functions of the Minister of Labour are that he shall be the Chairman of the Board and "shall undertake the collection, preparation and publication of information and statistics relating to the work of the Board"—not very different, I imagine, from the work my right hon. Friend is at present doing.
§ Mr. G. HALL
If the hon. Member reads the Bill a little further, he will find the additional functions we are asking that the Minister shall have.
I am simply referring to the Minister as Chairman of the Board. The hon. Member wound up his remarks with an appeal something in this fashion. "If the Bill will not do 1947 much good it cannot do much harm, therefore let us have it." Unfortunately, the Seconder of the Motion wound up in exactly the same way. "If the Bill will not do much good, let us have something that cannot do much harm."
§ Mr. GIBBINS
What I said was that if this is not the Measure for dealing with this problem, let us have the Government's proposal, which is quite different.
§ 1.0 p.m.
I understood the hon. Member to say if the Bill will not do much good let someone else produce something. It is the same idea. At any rate he gave me the impression that neither the Mover nor the Seconder had very great faith in the Bill, but was simply using it as a means for bringing up a discussion on unemployment. There is one remark of the hon. Member for West Toxteth (Mr. Gibbins) that I should like to criticise. He was referring to a Mental Deficiency School in his constituency. He spoke of mental defectiveness produced through destitution and want. I really must protest against that. Neither destitution nor want will produce mental defectiveness. Mental defectiveness is a disease of the nervous system. [Interruption.] I am speaking now as a medical man and I state distinctly that destitution and want cannot by themselves produce mental defectiveness. There must be in addition some hereditary fault or disease or some condition for which perhaps the child may not be wholly responsible. Although this Bill has been produced again this year for the third year in succession, I think its name is a misnomer. There is nothing in it, as far as I can see, that deals with unemployment at the present time. A better name perhaps would be a Bill for the regulation of employment in the future on its previous appearances it has been strongly criticised. In 1925, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) described it as containing a vicious principle. Last year it was also described as being unsound financially as well as constitutionally. One may be pardoned for wondering why a Bill which receives such criticism should be produced again for the third time. I wonder whether there can be something in it which we 1948 of the Conservative party have not been quite able to understand from the point of view of hon. Members above the Gangway. During this week we have been engaged upon the discussion of a Bill which seemed to us to describe certain conditions and certain remedies, but which to the Labour party had an entirely different meaning. They read a meaning into the Bill that we did not and I wondered if there was something in our mentality or the mentality of the Labour party which could not enable us to read the same meaning into certain words and phrases. I have gone carefully into the Bill again to see if there is any point of view which we may have missed, because we on our side are just as anxious as they are to deal with the question of unemployment. It is not a party matter and if anything can be done by any party it is the duty of every Member of the House to give it very serious consideration.
What does the Bill do? There has been very little description of it given in the Debate. The hon. Member who Moved it described it in about five minutes. The Seconder referred little to it, and even my hon. Friend who Moved the rejection did not deal specifically with the Bill. Perhaps I may be allowed to criticise some points in it. First of all it appoints a Sub-Committee within the Cabinet consisting of various Members of the Cabinet, three of whom I understand are shortly to be moved away, because I see it includes Overseas Trade, Mines, and Transport. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said they were forming within the Cabinet a Statutory Body and giving it power to act, not being responsible to the Cabinet and not reporting to anyone except to Parliament, and that was a vicious principle. Another funny point is that probably the two most important Members in the Cabinet are not allowed to be on the Committee—the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is true that you are to obtain from the Chancellor of the Exchequer £10,000,000 every year, but there is to be no representative of the Treasury on that Committee—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is a Committee point"]—You say it is a Committee point. I say it is a fundamental point. This Bill, as far as I can see, and I wish to be perfectly 1949 fair, has nothing to do with our present unemployment. All it says is: Let us form a special Committee of certain Members of the Cabinet. They are to do certain work and make certain investigations and keep an open mind, so that at some time in the future they may iron out what are the peaks and depressions of the different trade cycles. That is all looking to the future. It is a very amirable point of view, but it is not going to do very much good a tthe present time.
We have to bear in mind that the unemployment in this country is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) has said, due to very many causes, such as the lessened demand for goods, the altered fashion—as he so admirably described the case of shingling and the consequent loss of trade to the hairpin makers of Redditch—great economic disturbances such as the Great War and political disturbances. Thus we find that this great trade slump is very largely due to causes over which we have no control, and that the main incidence of the unemployment has been in some of our heavy industries. In what way could this Bill help the present state of unemployment? The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) who moved the Second Reading of this Bill spoke very feelingly on behalf of the coal trade. Let me, for a moment, say what has taken place in the cotton trade. What is there in this Bill which could, in any possible shape or form, help the cotton trade? For five or six years now this industry has suffered from an unparalleled state of depression, very largely due to the diminished purchasing power of their customers in China and in India, to depreciated exchanges, longer hours of labour and low wages. They have tried every possible means to overcome the high cost of production. They have had full-time working, short-time working; they have tried to diminish production, and they have increased production to try to diminish costs, and yet every possible thing they have tried has proved a failure.
I do not see how we in this country can increase the purchasing power of our customers in China, India, or Japan, or compete favourably with the very much lower standard of life that obtains in those countries. This Bill, with its £10,000,000 a year, could do very little to help Lancashire. You may say that one of the proposals made is that the Government should spread out their work and help in the provision of employment in various industries. How could they help the textile trade? They might help by giving orders for the provision of clothing for the Army, Navy, police and the different services, but that would be a very small matter.
How long would it take to provide the various services of the State with uniform? How much clothing are you going to provide? It would simply mean the tiding-over of a little difficulty, but it would not touch the basis of unemployment, or help our customers abroad by increasing their purchasing power. This Bill would do nothing to help Lancashire to get out of the great slough of despond into which it has fallen. You say that the State might give work to the shipbuilding industry, but the State does not build ships, except battleships, and I understand that it is the policy of the Labour party that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force shall be persistently reduced, if not abolished. In fact, we had a Motion before the House quite recently to reduce the strength to a thousand men. If you are going to abolish the defence forces of this land, you are doing away with certain opportunities the State may possess of giving additional work. The Bill gives power to contribute to schemes arranged by municipalities, and to schemes abroad, but I would like to point out that a large amount of this work is at present being done by the Unemployment Grants Committee. I maintain that there is nothing suggested in this Bill which is not at the present time being carried out by either the Cabinet or by certain Committees appointed by the Cabinet. There is nothing fresh, as far as I can see, in any shape or form.
1951 In speaking of unemployment, we must bear in mind that we can divide these people into two classes. There is the unemployable class—the young people going into industry who have never had an opportunity of getting a job or of learning a trade. Then there is the class of the unemployed proper—the people who can not find work owing to the depression in their own particular industry. For the unemployable various schemes have been tried. First of all, there are the relief schemes, which have been so largely used during the last five or six years at such tremendous cost to the country. They provide men with work, and keep them, perhaps, from going on to the dole, but as a means of dealing with very serious unemployment they have not done very much. We have the scheme of the Ministry of Labour—the training farms—to provide handy men for work in this country or for occupations abroad. These are schemes which, I am pleased to hear, are doing particularly well, and which have a great future. Then we have the case of afforestation, and I am sure I shall have the support of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), who is so keenly interested in it. I think that in this particular case the Government should do more than they are doing. I find that the Government possess over 100,000 acres at the present time which could be used. There is an opportunity here of developing a fresh industry, and a certain number of young people can be taken into it with the idea of becoming foresters and being induced to remain on the land. This would be of the highest value to this country from the moral, industrial and economic point of view.
When you come to deal with the unemployed man himself, this Bill does not help us at all. In my opinion the only way you can deal with the unemployed man is through his own industry. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) last year or the year before introduced a scheme into this House whereby extended benefit should be paid to employers of labour, on the condition that they would provide a certain amount of work in order to get rid of the degradation, if I may so term it, of these men having to go on the dole. It seemed to me at the time to be a good scheme. I have not read of any really serious argument 1952 against it, except perhaps the fear that it might put some money or profit into the pockets of the employers. But whether that be so or not, nothing has been done, and all that we can hope for is that some such scheme may be thought out. Even if it used every penny of the money set aside for extended benefit at the present time and turned it into a useful channel, it would be well worth trying. As has been pointed out by hon. Members above the Gangway, there is nothing worse for the youth of this country and the men and women of this country than this constant lack of work, this constant living on the dole. The degradation which they feel, and the hate which they have of it, must in the course of time have a very profound effect upon the life of the people of this country. But these are matters of policy which have to be decided by the Cabinet and cannot under any possible circumstances be handed over to any sub-Committee of the Cabinet.
Although this Bill was introduced originally with good ideas and in the sincere hope that it might do some good for the unemployed, it must be recognised now as fulfilling another function entirely. It has been severely criticised and turned down in past years, and we must regard the introduction of this Bill now as a gesture of the Socialist party. We can, without offence, liken it to a tailor's model, which is used for exhibiting articles for admiration and consequent purchase by the people who look at them. I think we must regard this Bill now as a Bill brought in for the purpose of hanging upon it a debate on the subject of unemployment. The Bill has a most unfortunate title, "The Prevention of Unemployment," because it may arouse feelings of hope amongst people who, seeing that a Bill has been brought in for the prevention of unemployment, may say, "Thank goodness, something will be done now to find us work." There is nothing in this Bill which will find them work.
It is a pity to bring in a Bill which can do nothing but raise hopes, when there is no possible chance of fulfilling them, because there is nothing in the Bill which will help to fulfil them by finding employment for the people. There is nothing which the Bill can do except perhaps to regulate employment to some 1953 extent in the future. The disadvantages that would arise from the Bill are very great. A huge sum of money is to be given to the National Board every year, over which there would be no control. There would be no control by this House, beyond listening to a Report from the Minister of Labour. Although we might criticise the report, we could not interfere with the policy of the Board, and the only effective thing we could do would be to persuade Parliament to repeal this Bill if it ever became an Act.
The Bill is simply another party attempt to introduce nationalisation. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) in his speech last year said the Labour party accepted the Bill as a whole, and that it was a Bill which would do something towards getting rid of the ills from which we suffer, and which the Labour party hope to abolish by means of nationalisation. Therefore, we must regard this Bill as a peg upon which the Socialist party to-day have again put forward their case for nationalisation. They cannot expect the Conservative party to accept that. We are fundamentally and totally opposed to nationalisation, and when hon. Members bring up this Bill year after year they cannot possibly expect us to accept it. They know that it must be rejected every time, and the Debate on it simply means another Debate on unemployment, added to the very many which we have had, which will produce no practical results.
May I point to one great need? I hardly like referring to it, because it is a subject which has been referred to often and has not always been received with that spirit of good will for which one could have hoped. We all know that the great essential in this country to-day is peace. Hon. Members of the Labour party say that we on this side do not want peace, that we are provocative, that we are trying to do all we can to hinder the coming together of the employer and the worker. Are the members of the Labour party trying to do their honest best to produce closer co-operation and good will between employers and employed? The Prime Minister, over and over again, has shown and proved his desire for good will to the bulk of the people in this country, and it is for the people to decide. The Labour party do not accept that. They say that we are 1954 the friends of the capitalist and that we are doing nothing to help the working man. That is not true. I am convinced, as convinced as I am that I am standing here, that we have in the Conservative party men as intimately acquainted with the life of the working classes as any members of the Labour party and that we have, in our ranks, men who are every bit as sympathetic and who have the sincerest desire that the working people should have the best of life that can be given to them.
My hon. Friend says that he does not believe it. I can assure him that it is so. It is an impertinence on the part of the Labour party to arrogate to themselves the claim that they are the only people in this House who have the welfare of the working people at heart. I dispute that absolutely.
It is not a fact. The huge bulk of the Conservatives, I will not say all of them, are anxious to promote the welfare of the working classes.
I have worked for the Conservative party and for the working classes for 30 years, but I am speaking generally of the members of the Conservative party, and I say that they are anxious to do the best they can for the people of this country, in a spirit of good will and of toleration and a desire to see fair play between employers and employed. But we cannot work without support from members of the Labour party. They have been sent to this House as men of influence, men of education and of good will, but at times I am afraid they are so gripped by certain theories that their outlook is blurred and they cannot see things before them in the same way that we can. It does not matter what we say or what we try to do, our efforts are suspect. It is impossible for any member of the Conservative party to have any feeling or any regard for the working classes, according to the views of our opponents in the Labour party. Why should we not have the best interests of the workers at heart? We know them 1955 and we admire them. I protest now, and I shall protest as long as I am a Member of this House, against the Labour party arrogating to themselves the right to be the spokesmen for the working people of this country, and as the only people who care for the workers and look after them, and that everybody else are their enemies.
I would ask the Labour party to give us the credit for having goodwill and common sense and for having heart, and I ask them to believe that we really are anxious for co-operation and help in connection with this problem; but we cannot do it unless they help us. They are the leaders of a large section of working people in this country, who look up to them for advice and guidance. Consequently, their responsibility is very great and if, for the purpose of any political outlook, any desire to alter the constitution of this country, they prostitute their goodwill for political outlook or political objects and forget the people who are depending upon them, and who look to them for proper guidance, the responsibility upon them as Labour leaders will be very great. I ask them to try and give us credit for goodwill on our side, and to see if they cannot work with us to deal with this curse of unemployment, for the benefit of the people of this country and of the world.
§ Mr. OLIVER
We have just heard from the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Vernon Davies) what the Labour party ought to do and what a great difference there would be in this England of ours if we could only manifest good will and work in co-operation with the party opposite. I do not know what experience the hon. Member has had, but those of us who have been associated with the trade union movement for years past know full well that the difficulties and discord does not come in the main from the trade unions. If hon. Members opposite were eager and anxious to produce a better industrial England they have had plenty of opportunities, but they have lamentably failed, as the necessity for this Bill shows. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said that we shall always have unemployment. He said that we cannot control the bursting of the dam of the Mississippi, which is hound to have its repercussion here. He also said that 1956 the Tory party cannot control an earthquake in Japan, which is bound to have its repercussion here. I ask the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) whether he really thinks that the fact of our having one million people unemployed is due to cataclysms of that character. Our million unemployed is not due to phenomena like that, but, in the main, to our social organisation, which makes it incumbent on the Labour party to introduce this Bill in order to meet the problem and do something to ease the position of those who have been unemployed for six or seven years.
It was my privilege two years ago to introduce this Measure into the House of Commons. At that time the number of unemployed was 1,200,000. According to the figures in the monthly report for April issued by the Ministry of Labour the number of unemployed is now round about 1,115,000, so that during a period of two years there has been a decrease of about 85,000. Two years ago I suggested that the number of unemployed in this country would very likely stabilise itself around 1,250,000, and it has not fluctuated very much from that figure. We were told then that it was the aftermath of the Great War; that we were bound, owing to the dislocation that was caused, to have a large unemployment problem extending over many years. To-day we are told that it is due to the coal dispute, and in 12 months' time it will be associated with some other temporary and passing phase. We say that as it is assuming a permanent character this or some other Bill is absolutely essential if we are to cope with it. I am sure that if the incomes of half the hon. Members of this House and of the other House were interfered with for six months, not for six years, that this House and the other House would be having special sittings in order to devise ways and means to meet their difficulties and to lessen their hardships. Unfortunately these people belong to a section of the community who, to a large extent, are becoming used to their poverty and destitution, and whilst this Bill may not he a panacea for their difficulties it will continually focus the attention of the Government on this problem.
1957 We are often told, indeed we are sometimes lectured, about fomenting strikes and disputes between employers and workmen. The hon. Member for Royton referred to it. The number of days lost through strikes and lock-outs, while they may be deplored, is a mere bagatelle as compared with the days lost through this problem. If we are concerned about getting the machinery of industry going again, this is a much greater problem than the loss through strikes and lockouts. The Minister of Labour last year, when criticising this Bill rather severely, did not meet the point. He said it had no merits whatsoever, that we have already the machinery for dealing with this matter, and that this Bill produced nothing which the Government did not at that time already possess. In reply to the discussion on this Bill last year he said:Last year when this Bill was being considered the Cabinet was discussing what I believe to be the proper type of board which should study the various aspects of this problem. They were discussing the Civil Research Committee, which is a body analogous to the Imperial Defence Committee. It consists of only one or two permanent members, and it can summon to its help anyone it wishes, whether he is a politician or an expert; it can devolve to committees such questions as low temperature carbonisation and ask them to go into them and report to it. It does not exclude anyone from its deliberations who it thinks may be useful, and it has a permanent staff in the Cabinet Secretariat. I submit in all seriousness that this is the right way of dealing with this question.'—OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1926; col. 1859, Vol. 192.]I ask the Parliamentary Secretary now, in all seriousness, what has the Civil Research Committee done during the last two years? In 1925 you were considering it; in 1926 you were considering it; and now, in 1927, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us in all seriousness what the Civil Research Committee has done. All the evidence we have would suggest that very little has been done and that very little is likely to be done. It is quite true that this Bill deals largely with the machinery for coping with this question. Reference has been made to the large import of manufactured goods, which, it was said, could be produced in this country if only we had a tariff. I want to suggest to the hon. Member who made that reference and to the Minister of Labour that we have also a large im- 1958 port of foodstuffs, much of which could be grown at home if some steps were taken to deal with the matter. We should then find useful work for many of our people. In 1923 we imported food-stuffs to the value of £484,000,000. In 1924 the figure increased by another £100,000,000, and I believe that it has increased continuously since. Side by side with that we have our land going out of cultivation, as was shown by a recent report of the Board of Agriculture. During the last 23 years, according to my figures, the land under crops has diminished by 3,408,300 acres, and according to the Report of the Board of Agriculture issued a month ago another 100,000 acres have gone out of cultivation. This is a question which should be gone into closely.
If we carry out the proposals made in the Samuel Report, if the mines are reorganised and schemes carried out as suggested, roughly 200,000 miners will be thrown out of work. Other authorities have stated that when the Electricity Act is properly under way, largely because of the economies entailed in organisation and distribution, thousands of workers will be liberated from that industry. I ask the Minister of Labour what he and the Government are doing to deal with these possibilities, to say nothing of dealing with the plight of the people already out of work. What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to meet this prospect Last year the Minister of Labour described this Bill as goose-step statesmanship. What is the evidence of effort that we have had from the Minister and his Government. It would be too dignified to call it statesmanship. It may be something else, but it is certainly not statesmanship even of the goose-step kind. I understand that yesterday the right hon. Gentleman said that they were doing nothing. He knows quite well that during the last four days the House has been talking about the liberty of what is called the tyrannised trade unionist. To-day we ask him to give liberty to 1,100,000 men and women, liberty to earn a livelihood without having recourse to the Poor Law or such means of existing from week to week. The Bill provides an opportunity, as no other Bill has yet provided it, for dealing with this ever recurring problem which at the same 1959 time is becoming a permanent problem. It will give to 1,100,000 men and women hope of finding work in a country which can and should be in a position to provide it.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I confess to a feeling almost of despair when on an issue of this kind there is such a sparse attendance in the House. There has not been a solitary member of the Liberal party taking the slightest interest in the Debate.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) is not here. In spite of the statistical Cinquevalli business in which he indulged for three-quarters of an hour to-day, there is no dispute that there are more than one million of our fellow citizens unemployed through no fault of their own: there is no moral obliquity attached to them at all. Government after Government, and this House month after month and year after year, do nothing whatever, and indeed in some cases have deliberately intensified the problem and made it worse. I see that the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. V. Davies) shakes his head. Does the hon. Member not remember that one of the first acts of the present Government was to lower the payments of benefits made to unemployed persons? Was not that the first thing that they did? This week they have been doing their utmost to get through a Measure that will prevent the Dundee jute worker from spending 2d a week on political action to better his conditions. What I really want to deal with now is the statements of the hon. Member for Reading. It is not that those statements matter anything, but that they represent the consistent economic propaganda with which the country is flooded. This is the sort of thing that he tells the people in Reading.
He said, for example, that in the old days, in the Middle Ages, there was famine—famine sent by Providence, if you like—and that men could not avoid it. It is quite true that in the old days, when there was no transport or inefficient transport, there would be a famine in one part of the world or of a country whilst 1960 there was plenty in another; there was no means of transport to take food from the place where there was plenty to the place where there was none. What is the system which hon. Members opposite are defending now? They are defending famine in the midst of a glut; poverty in the midst of plenty. A remarkable address was delivered to the students of St. Andrews University last autumn by Dr. Nansen, and the most remarkable statements in that address were deliberately boycotted by some of the leading newspapers, while others, to their credit, published those statements. It was his installation address as Lord Rector, and Dr. Nansen, from his own knowledge as famine Relief Commissioner in Europe, assured the students that there were millions of people starving to death in Europe at the same time as there was a glut of wheat, maize and corn stuffs in the world. The glut was so excessive that we were burning maize and corn stuffs as fuel in the engines to run our trains, and at the same time in another part of the world millions of people were perishing for the want of the very stuff which was thus being destroyed.
That is the system of society which hon. Members opposite have to justify here, and no amount of little quibbles by the hon. Member for Reading about whether the numbers of unemployed have gone up by a quarter per cent. or gone down by 15 per cent. matter in the least. In point of fact however, the hon. Member was wrong. I have here figures showing the estimated unemployment benefit for the year 1926–27 and it is estimated at pound;50,345,000. Last year it was only £43,000,000. The Government estimate that £7,000,000 more will be required for unemployment benefit this year and the hon. Member for Reading wastes his time in trying to convince himself or anybody else that unemployment is decreasing. As a matter of fact we are facing a permanent unemployment problem under the capitalist system of society and the hon. Member for Reading need not pretend that by some magical process of booming trade he is going to get rid of the problem. I have here a quotation from a Treasury official, a recognized authority on 1961 currency in this country to-day. In his book "Credit and Currency" on page 397 he says:—The deflation which started in 1920 is by itself so entirely adequate an explanation of the trade depression and unemployment that the search for other causes is considered superfluous.So this Treasury official blames all this extraordinary, super-normal unemployment on the policy of the Government in regard to the gold standard; but whether that be so or not, the point is that our unemployed are unemployed through no fault of their own. If the land is closed to them, that is not their fault. If the currency jugglers in the Bank of England raise the value of currency 10 per cent. and make things worse here, that is the fault of the ruling and governing classes in this country. If the industrial capital manipulators in this country take certain courses which raise the value of the National Debt and raise the value of the pound sterling and make things worse for the unemployed, that is not the fault of the unemployed and we are here to-day—or we ought to be here because our numbers are sparse—
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
We ought to be here to deal with this question; and the first duty of the State ought to be to find adequate employment, and if it cannot 10 that, to provide decent maintenance for our unemployed fellow citizens. The money is here. The hon. Member for Royton (Dr. V. Davies) said he did not know anything that this proposed body could do if the Bill were carried into law and he did not know how it could raise the purchasing power of the people. It is a closed book to him. But it is the simplest matter in the world. The main reason why you cannot sell your cotton to India is because India is too poor to buy. The remedy is to increase the purchasing power of the people of India and the way to do that is to better the conditions of the Indian ryot. The Indian ryot is in starvation. Literally he cannot buy a loin cloth. Give him a plough or lend him a plough, 1962 let him have better appliances, give him means of irrigating his fields and you set going your steel and iron industries at once and your coal and other subsidiary industries will follow. I have recited this until I am sick of doing so—that if you increased the purchasing power of the people of India by frac34;d. per head per week, you would increase British exports by £40,000,000 per annum. And you would increase it permanently, because as these people have added purchasing power they can buy more goods. The only way you will absorb your unemployed economically is by increasing the purchasing power of your customers at home and abroad and I challenge the Minister of Labour to face up to that proposition. That is only one instance. I could give dozens of eases at home where you could increase the purchasing power of 60 per cent. of your customers in the home market. You can do that. when you want to, but the trouble is that you have not the will. That is the trouble in this House of Commons. If we had the will, we have the money. As a matter of fact without going into any economic scheme at all, You can solve this unemployment problem in a month. I have here from the "Economist" an analysis of figures of unemployed persons in this country. The "Economist," which is not a Socialist paper, arrives at the conclusion that the aged workers, those over 65 years, who have earned their rest after a life's work, are 800,000 in number. Take the old people, the people of 65 and over, out of industry. pension them off and put in the young unemployed people who should he working and who would he able to produce more, and you will immediately break the back of the unemployment problem.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I will deal with that in a moment. If that is not enough, then take out the 500,000 boys and girls under 15 years of age who are in industry now and who ought not to be in industry. What a state of society it is when the immature, those whose bodies are not yet properly formed, are thrown into the industrial machine; when the aged, the broken, the rheumatic are thrown into 1963 the industrial machine, while you have able-bodied men of from 20 to 40 years of age tramping the streets searching for work and unable to get it. That is the state of society which we have to face. My hon. Friend has asked me what about the cost. There are 800,000 of these old people. Give them £2 a week and it comes to £80,000,000 and you immediately save in other directions. You will save £50,000,000 in unemployment benefit. If you take £50,000,000 off £80,000,000, you get a net cost to the State of only £30,000,000, and with that sum you can break the back of your unemployment problem whenever you will. You handed away £40,000,000 to your Super-tax and Income Tax payers in your first Budget. By my proposal another saving could be made on public health, and there would be the additional productivity owing to the fact that you would have strong men producing instead of old men and children.
If you had the sense and wit to work this out, to attack this problem, to show a keen interest in it, and to prepare an accurate balance-sheet, you would probably find that you would make a large profit on it. But there is no interest in it. The unemployed do not kick up enough trouble. One of the amazing things to me is how a man may see himself and his wife and children physically rot and starve, without complaint. I believe the explanation is that it is not clone suddenly, that they do not take a strong man physically and suddenly plunge him into this condition, that the thing is gradual, that the miasma of fear round about them grows gradually, but it the unemployed people in this country had the courage to make themselves the nuisance that they ought to make themselves to the Government, we should not have 20 or 30 Members on these benches discussing unemployment to-day, but we should have the House packed, and unemployment regarded as the most serious problem of our time. On the other side, we have leading Members who believe that unemployment is a necessity to the Capitalist system, out of which they get their profit. An hon. Member shakes his head, but I will quote Lord Balfour, a leader of your party, who says that a reserve army of labour is necessary to give employment, but that it is not the 1964 duty of the State to keep alive this army during the time they do not require them.
I could quote Members in this House; I could quote the hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Sir W. Alexander); I could quote dozens, but I do not wish to take up the time. It is common form in the Liberal and Conservative parties that unemployment, economically considered—they are as kind-hearted, personally, as we are, I know—must not be abolished, that it is essential to the continuance of your Capitalist system. I say that any system that depends for its continuance on the starvation, broken health, misery, degradation of millions of your fellow citizens is a social order that ought to be destroyed by any possible means whatsoever. There is no justification for it. People are poor and hungry now, not because we have not got enough; they go barefoot, not because we cannot produce sufficient boots; they go in rags, not because we cannot produce sufficient clothes. They go hungry, and barefoot, and in rags in the midst of a glut, in the midst of too much. Science has solved every problem except one, and that is the problem of how to distribute, equitably and fairly, the products that mankind is now able to make, and that is the essential claim of this Bill this afternoon.
We say £10,000,000—it is not enough, but £10,000,000 for a beginning—must be spent to set up your Committees, to set your unemployed to work on the most economic work you can find. Do not tell us that there is no economic work for them to do. So long as there are houses to build, roads to be made, land to be drained, there is economic work for people to do. Set your unemployed to work. You have spent £380,000,000 since the Armistice on public relief, miserable and inadequate as it is, hardly keeping body and soul together, but you have got nothing for it. What we ask is that you should spend £10,000,000 per annum for a beginning, that you should set up your Committees to spend that money, that you should employ your people economically, that you should get economic value for your money, and we believe that you will get value, morally, spiritually, physically, among the people. We declare that in our opinion there 1965 ought to be no rest given in this House so long as there are men and women unemployed, hungry, beaten, in the midst of a glut and in the midst of plenty. Members on this side, at any rate, ought to give the Government no rest, no peace, until that social order is changed.
§ Sir JOHN POWER
No one can have listened to the speeches that have been made this afternoon from the benches opposite without having great sympathy with the obvious sincerity which animates them. At the same time, it is very difficult to understand why Labour should always approach the problem of unemployment in the way in which it always does. It has occurred to me during the last week as an extraordinary thing that in all the discussions on the question of labour and unemployment, the one great weapon which is always appealed to from the Labour benches is the strike. Members opposite have maintained with the utmost vehemence the right to strike, and it has been the task of Members on these benches to assure and reassure them that the weapon of the strike will not be interfered with in any way. They have been reluctant to accept those assurances, but at all events it shows that the strike has been magnified into something that has become almost a god to the Labour party. What does a strike really mean?
§ Mr. MAXTON
On a point of Order. I know there is a fair amount of latitude allowed on a Friday, but is the hon. Member anywhere near the terms of the Bill we are supposed to be discussing?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I think I must wait for the end, at any rate, of the hon. Member's third sentence before I can judge.
§ Sir J. POWER
I have no desire whatever to infringe any of the rules, but I disagree with this Bill because I think it attacks the subject in the wrong way, and I am bringing out a certain proposal of my own, which we have been invited, by the Seconder of the Bill, at all events, to put forward. Therefore, I wish to point out the fact that the strike has become the principal weapon of the trade unions, and I do not think we shall ever arrive anywhere or at any satisfactory conclusion while that remains the case.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think that, in discussing what a strike is, the hon. Member does go beyond the scope of the Bill.
§ Sir J. POWER
I will endeavour to confine my remarks to the other side of the question, and that is, that you will never get rid of the question of unemployment, in my opinion, until you change your methods. At the present time, the only part which the Labour party takes in the question of industry is a third part. There are three things in industry—capital, directive ability and labour.
§ Sir J. POWER
However much the Labour party may understand the labour portion of the three things which comprise industry, they do not appear to have tackled the other two, and one of the remedies for unemployment, to my mind, will come when the Labour party tackle the other two. I do not mean tackle them in the fighting sense, but adopting them and endeavouring to understand what they mean. At the present time there is no constructive attempt on the part of the Labour party to understand the problems from the employers' side of the case—[An HON. MEMBER: "We know them"]—and until they do attempt some sort of understanding, they will not arrive anywhere. Why should hon. Members opposite not try? At the present time the Labour movement has every man classified and ticketed, and there he remains unless he has sufficient ability to force himself to the top and become a Labour member or a trade union leader. That is all there is in front of him, and I invite the Labour party to come into industry, instead of standing outside and abusing those who are directing the machine. At present they do not understand the working of the machine.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
Has the hon. Gentleman forgotten the great co-operative movement which Labour is managing?
§ Sir J. POWER
The whole object of my speech is to urge Labour to take a part in industry, and understand the problems as they affect the other parts, just as I know they understand the problems that face the worker. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the hon. Gentleman will be able to argue better if he is not assisted from the other side of the House.
§ Sir J. POWER
My point is that the Labour party could assist the worker very much more by embarking in industry, by puting their own theories into operation, and proving to other employers that things can be done much better than they are to-day. Why do not the Labour party do this? Is it that they fear they have not the directive capacity, or what is the reason? They have ample funds. There is no section of the community which commands so much money as the labour unions.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me any good paying business, coalmining or steel works, or anything, that is doing well, where the accumulated funds of the working classes, if they could get them together, would be accepted?
§ Sir J. POWER
I can refer the hon. Gentleman to many industrial concerns, not in this country, I am sorry to say, but in the United States of America, which are entirely run by working men.
§ Sir J. POWER
There are marry concerns in the United States of America which are run entirely by Labour money, and have proved of great benefit to the working classes. I, at any rate, am not too proud to learn from others, if I can. I do not understand why Labour should confine itself entirely to the negative policy of strikes. It leads nowhere. We have heard most eloquent speeches from the opposite benches of the ill-effects of strikes. Why then continue this policy? Consider another sphere of affairs. We 1968 are trying to abolish war. On the opposite benches many Members are pacifists almost to the extreme. They want to abolish war, and they do everything they can, and vote for every measure which they think will limit war. Therefore, why should they encourage a policy of industrial warfare in their own country? Why not give up this weapon of the strike?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think, if the hon. Member will read the Title of this Bill, he will see that he is not confining his remarks to the subject matter.
§ Sir J. POWER
One thing the last speaker said which attracted my attention, and that was a statement he repeated once or twice, that there is plenty of money here. That is exactly where the trouble cames in. As far as I am aware, the great trouble with the party opposite is that they always concern themselves with distribution, and not with creation. It must be admitted by everybody that you must create wealth—and the more wealth you create the more there is to share—and that if you limit production you limit wealth, and, therefore, it is useless sharing out such assets as the country has at the present time unless you devote yourselves to making others. My feeling about the whole policy of the party opposite is that it is one of distribution, and not one of production. A great change has come over the position of the party opposite since the War. I do not believe it has half realised that, before the War, capital and labour were on more or less terms of equality. What I mean is that they had the same amount of freedom to sell themselves for what they could obtain. Labour was welcome anywhere; but, since the War, a change has come over the scene. Labour has been denied entry into many of those lands where it formerly went. Surplus labour here cannot get away from this country. It cannot go to the United States of America.
§ Sir J. POWER
I hope the hon. Member will give me a fair hearing. Workers from other countries are objected to by the immigration laws of various countries, and, to shorten the matter, they are really now more or less confined to their 1969 own country. We cannot force the United States to take our people in the numbers they formerly took them. On the other hand, capital is received with open arms anywhere, even in the United States of America. It is up to us to reconsider our position, to see what we can do to alter our present methods, not only the methods of employers, but the methods of trade unions, because we are up against this hard fact, that, while formerly Labour could go almost anywhere to seek its livelihood, now it has got to stay at home and put up with things. Therefore, it seems to me the time has come to give a rest to this policy of strikes. What does a strike do? If you were to enter the ranks of employers you would do away with unemployment, and if you succeeded with your wonderful ideas, every other employer would have to follow, and be glad to do it. But strife leaves victims behind. As a result of the War, hundreds of thousands of people were left without employment. Do you think industrial strife does not leave victims behind? Do you not think that unemployed are unemployed as the result of industrial strife, for which you hon. Members opposite are largely responsible?
There are such things as fear and suspicion. Numbers of enterprises are never started on account of suspicion and fear in the mind of the man who wants to start them. I myself have been deterred from starting large enterprises because I did not know what would take place and what I would have to pay by the time the enterprise was finished. I had no intention of ruining myself. No end of enterprises have been stopped by fear and suspicion. Fear and suspicion are the worst things in the world between nations, or in a nation; and as long as you keep up your present policy and do not enter into industry and take up the problems and try to solve them we shall not get on. Why should you not do so? You have the ability. Why are you afraid to do so? If you would come inside instead of standing outside and howling we might progress towards a solution of our difficulties. I am perfectly certain that sooner or later you will have to adopt this policy. It is the only way of making a new social order and really raising the status of the worker.
Many of you hon. Members opposite are men of great ability. I am per- 1970 fectly certain you are as capable of running a great business as are the men who run big businesses to-day. Why do you not start them? If the trade unions were to contribute £1 per head per annum you would have a capital of some £5,000,000. You can get the money easier than anybody. Why do you not do it? I have never been able to understand why. How do the leaders of the Labour party, the "brass hats" of the movement, exist? What are the hard facts of your existence? The hard fact of your existence is that you are there as the general staff of the Labour rank and file. You are a fighting machine. Many of you are pacifists, but you are a fighting machine, and you depend upon war for your living.
§ Sir J. POWER
I am perfectly certain that sooner or later the Labour movement in this country will follow the example of the American Labour movement. There are in America a number of Labour banks, and they have been most successful. They will not finance any firm which does not agree with trade union ideas and regulations, and that is a very proper state of affairs; but they are taught by experience that they must not demand more than a trade will give them, and so they come gradually to look at things from the general point of view instead of from one particular angle. In that way there is a general raising of the status of the workers in any direction where it, is humanly possible to do 1971 so. But as long as you stand outside, taking only a very small part in directive operations in industry, you are destructive and not constructive critics and you will never help to raise the status of the workers. I should be very glad to see this suggestion adopted, and I should be willing to help if any legislation were required towards that end; there would he no objection on this side of the House. Let hon. Members opposite come and take their share in the rough and tumble, reflecting what a great benefit it would be to the whole of the people they represent if they themselves really understood the problems of employers instead of fancying they understood them.
§ Mr. M. CONNOLLY
Before going on to more general observations, I wish to reply to a suggestion by the hon. Member for Wimbledon Sir J. Power) that we on this side of the House ought to bend our energies towards getting into industry as owners and capitalists. I come from. a district where that idea has been discussed and acted upon. In the Tyneside district in my younger days there were men who determined to act on the advice which has now been given to us by the hon. Member. They started an engineering concern: many Members here well know the history of it—The Ouseburn Engineering Co. It was formed entirely by working men, who put all their savings into it. For a considerable time it did extremely well. Every man had his heart in his job; they were excellent craftsmen and men of good business ability. It went on all right for a certain time, but the class represented by the hon. Member for Wimbledon controlled the raw materials, and they determined to down us, and they did down us. When we go into business again it will not he piecemeal. We shall own the raw material; we shall alter the whole system. We have had our lesson and we shall benefit by it.
In introducing this Bill to-day the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) pleaded that for once this subject should be lifted up to a non-controversial plane. He pointed out that while we on this side might argue that the Eight Hours Bill has thrown many men out of employment, other considerations have to be taken into 1972 account, such as questions of deflation and the restoration of the gold standard so ably dealt with from time to time by the hon Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise). They have undoubtedly had an effect upon employment. The hon. Member for Aberdare said he had often listened to very admirable sentiments from the Prime Minister, and recalled what the Prime Minister said 18 months ago when he asked "What does it matter if middlemen and bankers prosper; if industry falls into a state of decay the whole edifice of the nation will fall." In the Empire Association Rooms not many weeks ago many of us listened to a very able address by Mr. Bruce, the Prime Minister of the Australian Common wealth. It was applauded by us all, no matter to which Party we belonged. He described a state of things in Australia which is analogous in many ways to the unemployment problem we have got at home. He was dealing with the question of land settlement and the great difficulties which were being experienced in regard to that question. He pointed out that he himself, as the head of the Commonwealth, had attempted to grapple with it, and he explained very lucidly that he, as Minister for the whole of the Commonwealth, could only give intermittent attention to this vast question. He said that he had been busy with it and had made some progress, but for weeks and months he had to leave it alone. He pointed out what he had done. He set up a Ministry to go into the whole question of Land Development and Settlement, and considerable progress has been made.
The Mover of this Bill explained-very ably the necessity for setting up such a Department in this country. We know perfectly well that the Minister of Labour—he works as hard as any of as and perhaps harder than most of us—cannot give that personal attention to a matter of this kind which its importance demands. Therefore we think, despite what was said by the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. V. Davies) that hon. Members are wrong who have gathered the impression that no great good can come out of this Measure. This Bill has been put forward again in order to get an opportunity of discussing the question of unemployment. We believe that the Mover and Seconder 1973 made what we regard as a sincere appeal to the Government to take up the Bill, and take any credit for what it might accomplish.
The Mover of the Second Reading dealt with coal mines. I am going to deal with another industry, and I shall do so as far as possible in a non-controversial manner. I have in my hands a report by a joint Committee of shipbuilding employers and employeés upon the question of the cost of material and equipment, and I am going to try to show to the House how the Minister of Labour, with the assistance of a Department such as that which is provided for under the provisions of this Bill, could do something tangible to curb the activities of those people who are running up the prices of material and equipment and throwing men out of employment. I propose to read a few extracts from this Report M order to show to the House that what is going on is a crying disgrace. Appeals have been made to the heads of the State, including the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade, and answers and promises have been given on this question. Weeks and months have gone by and nothing has been done with regard to this very important matter. I raised the question here this week asking when those promises were going to be fulfilled, and the President of the Board of Trade simply shook his head and said that nothing had been done. In his reply to my question the right hon. Gentleman said:He was prepared at our request to follow up the matter to see what can be clone to bring relief to the shipbuilding industry,The right hon. Gentleman has done nothing. I think something substantial could be done by a special department. I am not reflecting uùpon the Department of the Minister of Labour because that Department cannot do impossible things, but I think it might attempt to do something in regard to matters of this kind. Here is another quotation from the same Report:Our examination reveals that the suppliers of some of these materials—particularly where shipbuilding is a market on which they are largely dependent—are quoting keen prices in regard to which no complaint can be made. On the other hand, suppliers of many of the materials—particularly where they have a large non-competitive alternative market to their ship- 1974 building market—are charging prices unreasonably high as compared with pre-war prices for the same commodity, and unreasonably high also as compared with the general level of prices.Then the report goes on to quote the particular material and equipment which they have in mind and it says:We are satisfied that prices are being maintained at their unreasonable figure through the operation of rings and price-fixing associations; and that in the case of sonic of the articles arrangements between manufacturers and merchants are such that it is practically impossible for shipbuilders to buy direct from manufacturers, even although their order is of the nature of a wholesale order.That means that where the order can he regarded as a wholesale order shipbuilders are not allowed to place their orders where they like. We have raised this question time after time and it is not a controversial matter. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) was a member of that Committee and there are on that body various trade union officials. There are also on toe same Committee a number of leading employers and we have raised these questions again and again. How can we get anything done as long as the Minister of Labour is overburdened with his present duties because the right hon. Gentleman cannot give more than a superficial glance at this question. All the Minister can do is to give his answer to a question put to him in the House of Commons and then the matter is again postponed.
I remember reading an account of a meeting of the Joint Chamber of Commerce in Sheffield some four years ago when a manufacturer stated that he could manufacture both for home orders and for export orders light castings at 25 per cent. cheaper than he was allowed to sell them, and he said it was a disgrace because it was retarding trade. He also stated that if he sold his goods below the scheduled price a heavy fine would be inflicted upon him. An engineering employer has himself told me that if he produces his goods at a lower price than the schedule he would be liable to a fine of £3,000. That is what is going on in the engineering industry where 60 per cent. of the men are idle. In my constituency even with the improvement that has recently taken place we still have 50 per cent. of the industry unemployed. While this is going on in 1975 the shipbuilding and engineering industry it is a scandal. I know we can talk on this matter until we are black in the face, but until we can get a department set up such as that which is provided for under this Bill we shall not get any improvement.
I wish to say a word or two about our Overseas Trade. I am sorry to notice that the Overseas Trade Department is going to be clone away with under the so-called economy scheme of the Government. I commended the inauguration of that department at the time it was set up and I spoke highly of the Overseas Credit Insurance Scheme. I have drawn attention again and again to the potential markets which are being neglected under this scheme which is not operating as it should do. In one of the provisions of this Measure the extension of our overseas trade is dealt with, and a department is suggested which I think would operate successfully. I want to say, in conclusion, that I join with the Mover of the Bill in asking the Government to give it a Second Reading. He went further and asked that it should be put upon the Statute Book. We are large-minded enough to put the interest of the country before the interest of our own party. If, therefore, there be anything in the Bill that the Government can take and adopt or improve upon, we will give them hearty support. They can take the Bill and make it their own Bill and they may improve it and take all the credit that is attached to it.
§ Mr. DEAN
I am glad that the Mover and Seconder of this Bill have brought it forward, not because I have any intention of supporting it, but because 1 believe it has introduced a subject for discussion, the solution of which is essential to all classes of the community. I hold and feel very strongly that, if we approach this subject in a proper manner, we might on all sides of the House help one another to a proper solution. I hope the House will excuse me for confining myself to the subject which I understand. I have been a large employer of labour for many years, and I claim to have a considerable knowledge of working men. Fortunately, I happen to be interested in an industry, the industry of agriculture, where unemployment is not rife. In fact, I think I may 1976 say that the reverse is the position, and that we have a shortage of labour in agriculture. I know that hon. Members opposite will say: "No wonder, look at the kind of wages that you pay." But I would like to remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that the owner of land receives less interest on his capital than the owner of any other form of capital in this country. I would like to point out that the tiller of the soil receives less return on his capital than any other business man in the country. Naturally, therefore, the agricultural worker also receives less. I think, if we could get some assistance from hon. Members opposite, we might be able to do something to relieve unemployment in this country to a greater extent than some people imagine.
It has been said—I think it was said by the Mover of this Bill—that the Minister of Labour has only time for clerical work and to discuss matters in his office and that he has no time for practical work. I have taken the trouble to go into the Exployment Exchanges in my own district, and I have no hesitation in saying that I have been instrumental in getting a great many workmen work, which has been to the advantage not only of those workers themselves but also of the employers, because they have needed workmen and could riot get them. There are in the large country towns many men who though not accustomed to it, might do a certain amount. of agricultural work, but unfortunately there are political representatives who go about the country telling these men that agricultural work is underpaid and that it is not policy that men should do any more work than they are obliged. They do not suggest, as I would suggest: "My good man, this has not been your trade or business, but it is not the first time that you have learned a new trade. Go and try it." If they received such encouragement, I think we should have a very different feeling than we have at the present time. I will give the House an instance. There were 20 men who were sent to help to lift sugar beet. Ten or 12 of them left the work, but those who remained earned, at piece rates, 8s. a day. That was to the advantage of the employer as well as of the men themselves. In my own district from now onward, we shall have an opportunity, I believe, of finding a great 1977 amount of work for men, if only they are encouraged to do their best. But the agricultural industry, in the condition in which it is, cannot afford to pay 8s. for 4s. worth of work. The men have to be told that, and if their leaders would tell them they would be their friends, our friends, and the friends of the country.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Does the hon. Member mean to suggest that it is characteristic of the agricultural industry that the workers do 4s. worth of work for 8s. in wages?
§ Mr. DEAN
I did not say anything of the sort, and I thank the hon. Member very much for the interruption. I myself have found the agricultural worker a. good worker, a man who was prepared to give fair value for money, but I made the statement that you could not expect the agriculturist to pay 8s. for 4s. worth of work because I knew that unemployed men had been sent on to the work and had been doing 4s. worth of work for 8s. Those men were not kept on and cannot be employed, because the people who really pay them are the consumers in the towns, and the farmer cannot pass that extra 4s. on to those consumers in the towns. Consequently, the land is not cultivated. I know perfectly well that it will be said, as it has been said often enough from those benches: "Let us have the land, and we will show you what we can do. There need be no unemployment." What have the co-operative societies who had the land done? What have many of our poor ex-service men who drew their gratuities and were put on the land in various parts of the country done? They have lost all that they had. I know that hon. Members will say that it is because they are charged too much rent, but if in some cases they had paid no rent at all, they could not have succeeded. The point is that you cannot let a man have 10 or 20 acres of land with a house near a town at the same price as you can let him have 20 acres in some remote country district.
§ Mr. DEAN
You might as well suggest that a house in Westminster built 1978 on a piece of land should be let at the same price as a house in the country. It all comes down to the question of cost. The hon. Member who has interrupted may tell me that the man who provided that land, or the Government, or whoever you like, has taken a usurious amount of interest on the capital supplied, but I would tell him that they get very little interest indeed. There is another point, and that is that I think hon. Members opposite so little understand the difference between land and land. In my own constituency we have some very valuable land, and I am glad to say that such a thing as unemployment is unknown there. In busy times agricultural labourers can earn 8s. and 10s. a day, and I have no hesitation in saying that they are worth it. But there is also a very large amount of land in this country which, owing to low prices, and partly owing to the War, and the men having been away from the land, has got out of condition.
§ Mr. DEAN
The hon. Member, I think, should be more honest. Is he going to try to draw a red herring across the track, and talk about hunting? No one enjoys riding over the land more than I do, but I am not talking about hunting. I am talking about land for a more necessary purpose, and I am asking this House to try to do something which would assist us to make the best use of that land. The difficulty, as I have said, is that that land has been allowed to get into a bad state of cultivation, not through anybody's fault, but simply because the produce of the land has not paid the cost of production. We all of us in this House, although some of us know very little about it, are anxious to see old England made the garden of the world. I am sorry to say, however, that we hear that said by men who, I am afraid, have never done very much to help us to do it. I must apologise for having detained the House so long, but. I want to take the opportunity of thanking the Minister of Labour for what he has done, without a Committee being set up, and without £10,000,000 being taken from the State, to which I am quite sure, 1979 in these days, when we are talking about economy in the country, all our electors would very much object. I, for one, would not have minded that if it had been going to do any good for the problem of unemployment, but I am afraid it would not. I do hope, however, that my hon. Friends opposite will cooperate with the Minister of Labour, and will go into the country and tell the agricultural worker that the farmer is his friend, and not his enemy—that they will say to him, "Go to work, do the best you can, and play the game." I would ask hon. Members opposite to play the game, and I would ask them to ask their supporters to play the game, and we will do our best to play the game with them.
§ Mr. BATEY
I did not notice that. The hon. Member's whole speech was altogether different from those of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. The strong argument of the Seconder of the Amendment against the Bill seemed to be that we were asking in this Bill to set up a sub-Committee of the Cabinet. The Bill does not propose to set up a sub-Committee of the Cabinet; what the Bill proposes to do is to set up a National Board, and, if the hon. Member looks through the list of Ministers mentioned in the Bill, he will find that several of them are not members of the Cabinet. Therefore, it cannot in any circumstances be considered that we are asking that a sub-Committee of the Cabinet should be set up. The Seconder of the Amendment also complained that this sub-Committee, as he called it, did not include the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Personally, I wish that some of the other names had not been included, for I think that in that case the Board would have a much better chance of functioning.
The Mover of the Amendment argued against this National Board on the ground that these Ministers would not have time to attend to this work—that they had 1980 plenty to do in their offices, and could not give the necessary time to this. It will be noticed that the list includes the Minister of Transport, the Secretary of the Overseas Trade Department, and the Secretary for Mines. Surely, the Mover of the Amendment will not say that these three Ministers have not time The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that these three Ministers are to be abolished, and I take it that they are going to be abolished because they have not sufficient to do. If they had sufficient work there would be no proposal to abolish them, and the fact that they are to be abolished seems to me to show that the argument that these Ministers have plenty to do cannot be urged against this Bill.
I should like to put this point to the Minister of Labour, because it seems to me that he will have to be extremely careful. He wants, if he possibly can, to justify his Department, and, therefore, he should not attempt, to-day, to oppose this Bill, because, just as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has this year announced his proposal to abolish these three Ministers, so we may find him coming along next year and proposing to abolish the Minister of Labour. It will, therefore, be far better for the Minister of Labour to make a live wire of his Department, and to show that it has something really important to do beyond merely collecting statistics. That will save the Minister from being beheaded, as these other three Ministers are to be beheaded.
I was interested in the very long speech of the Mover of the Amendment. In replying to the Mover of the Second Reading, he dealt with the mining situation, and dragged us back to 1921. He seemed to say, "Stand there, and let no talk to you about 1921," and he said. "Because of your action in 1921 you were responsible for two things. You were responsible for wrecking the Unemployment Fund, and you were also responsible for increasing the number of miners unemployed." It seems to me that he forgot that in 1921, as in 1926, all that the miners were doing was attempting to defend the wages they then had. They considered that wages were then low enough. They attempted to defend their standard of life, and for that the Mover of the Amendment condemns us.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
May I say that I pointed out that in 1921 and in 1926 the miners were seeking to get aid from outside sources, because the industry was unable itself to provide sufficient to maintain those standards?
§ Mr. BATEY
It is no use talking about the help we wanted from outside sources. What the miners really aimed at, both in 1921 and 1926, was to defend the standard of living, which we believed then to be low enough. I wonder if the Mover of the Amendment would attempt to defend himself if the hon. Member sitting next him put his hand in his pocket, and if he would consider it fair if we said he did wrongly to prevent the hon. Member stealing his money. I think he would consider we were attacking him unfairly. The unemployed fund was not wrecked because of the policy of the miners in 1921. As the result of 1921, the indebtedness of the fund increased, but two years after that about £17,000,000 of debt was paid off. The real reason of the large debt of the fund to-day is the action not of the miners but of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who last year passed an Economy Bill in which he reduced the Government payment. That is the cause of the fund being in the bad position it is in to-clay. Then he blamed us for increasing the number of miners unemployed. Whatever may be said of the result of 1921, what we complain of to-day is not the unemployed in the subsequent four years but the number of miners who are unemployed now because of the Government action last year in passing the Mines Eight Hours Bill. There is no doubt that the huge number of unemployed miners is directly due to the passing of that Bill.
May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the difficulty of miners finding work. They are different from other classes of unemployed. They have no prospect of finding work. I thought we were going to receive some help from the Government in assisting miners to find work in other districts. I received a letter this morning from a man who has been seeking work pointing out the necessity for financial assistance to enable them to seek work and to return to their homes when they cannot find it, and to remove when they do find it. He says he walked 25 miles on Monday and had to sleep in a hayshed all night. 1982 Many men are unemployed in the colliery districts to-day because they belonged to the Miners' Federation during the dispute last year. I have a letter from another district in Durham stating that strangers are being started at the colliery, and 200 men who were employed when the stoppage took place are still out of work. I think the Minister ought to try to influence the coalowners not to employ strangers while men who belong to the district are still out of employment. Two or three weeks ago we were told the Ministry sent a circular to the trade unions and the employers' organisations regarding the question of not employing anyone in the coal mines over 18 years of age unless they had previously been employed in the mines. We ought to know where we stand and whether the Minister can take a hand in that matter and prevent anyone entering a coal mine who has not been down a mine prior to 18 years of age. A question was answered yesterday in regard to research for the purpose of seeing what can be extracted from coal. We have never had any report in regard to that research, and I should like the Minister to tell us whether any progress is being made. We have been engaged on the matter for a long time and much money has been spent. I hope he is not going to tell us he is going to oppose this Bill because he intends later to bring forward a Bill embodying the Blanes-burgh Report. That can be no answer to this Bill. Hundreds of thousands of our miners to-day will never be able to qualify for benefit under the Blanesburgh Report. We have hundreds of men who have been out of employment for three or four years and they will never be able to, pay their 30 contributions.
§ Mr. BATEY
It will not be when it comes before the House. Some of us in the interests of our people are bound to oppose every proposal in the Blanesburgh Report. There is one other thing I want the Minister to keep in mind. Although we are just coming into the summer, winter will come, and with winter will come the need for something to be done for these unemployed. The Ministry ought, at the beginning of summer, to prepare their plans for the winter, and 1983 to try, if they possibly can, to make provision for these men who cannot find work. I hope the Minister of Labour is not going blindly to turn down this Bill, or follow the lead of the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment and simply destroy this Bill, but that he is going to see his way clear to support the Bill and help us to find employment for these deserving men who cannot get work.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland)
I was deeply touched by the kind and friendly advice of the hon. Member who has just spoken that I shall father this Bill, or at any rate, take some share in forwarding its fortunes as a means for keeping my own office free from peril. It was most kind of him and I appreciate it deeply. [An HON. MEMBER "It is the usual thing!;"] It was most friendly on his part. The only feeling of mistrust I have is that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any other responsible Minister were to look at the matter from a sane and sensible point of view, then, if I were speaking in favour of this Bill, I should lose that office a great deal sooner. With the permission of the House I would like to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie), that is to keep to the Bill. We have had an interesting discussion to-day, but in the recent speeches, except in the speech of the Member for East Newcastle (Mr. Connolly) and one or two causal introductory remarks by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) we have not really had any discussion of the merits of the Bill. I may add that in regard to the Blanesburgh Report and in regard to the question of recruiting in the mines I will gladly give all the information I can, but these matters have nothing to do with the Bill that is before us to-day. Therefore, for a few brief minutes, I would like to take the unusual course in this Debate of speaking about the Bill which is supposed to be under discussion. This is the third time this Bill has been brought before the House. I believe, that so far as the inside of it is concerned, it is textually the same as it was when it was previously brought before the House. There is not a line, not a word, not a comma, different from what was 1984 brought forward in previous years. Only the sponsors of it have varied and the date on the outside of the Bill. This time, it falls to the lot of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) to bring in the Bill and I am only glad that it should have fallen to the lot of one who, I knew at once, would deliver a very sincere and a very moderate speech on its behalf. But there is one fact which emerges quite clearly from having this Bill introduced in precisely the same form as in previous years. I think from the point of view—I do not want to linger on it—of the hon. Mover the promoters ought to have provided him with a copy of this Bill brought up-to-date. I notice in one Clause that they still regard as existing matters like the grant of Trade Facility guarantees which have completely vanished out of existence, but they still find their place in this Bill. At least, they might have brought in a second edition of it.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member will read Clause 2, Subsection (2), of the Bill he will find that what I have said is actually correct.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I think the right hon. Gentleman will find, if he reads the Clause, which I have read, that it is the duties and powers of the Trade Facilities Acts which are proposed to be transferred under this Bill. They continue so long as the credits are guaranteed.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The powers of giving guarantees under the Trade Facilities Acts disappeared in March last. If the hon. Member had read the Clause so carefully he might have had it brought up to date—at least by indicating correctly the Title of the Overseas Trade Acts which have been extended for the last two years.
§ Mr. MAXTON
There is no use scoring a trivial, petty point on an important issue. Is the right hon. Gentleman trying to tell us that the functions and duties imposed by the Trade Facilities 1985 Acts and the functions and duties that were supposed to be carried out by the Overseas Trade Acts are all concluded. Does he mean to say that no one is responsible for the loans and credits that have been granted to the various capitalistic companies under these Acts?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The powers of giving guarantees under the Trade Facilities Acts is at an end, and that is what is dealt with in Clause 2 of this Bill. There is one effect of having the same Bill brought in, which is made quite clear, and that is that up to now the advocacy of this Bill has been of a peculiarly elusive character, because whenever one has dealt with the provisions of the Bill, and whenever it has been criticised, the reply has always been made that it is a Committee point, and no answer has been given to the criticism. As I shall have reason to point out, that position cannot be substantiated. Here we have precisely the same Bill, as if it were literally inspired, therefore there can be no question that so far as this Bill is concerned, the party opposite has to stand by it precisely, notwithstanding that it has been criticised so much in the past.
I ask the House to consider, first of all, the essential features of the Bill. It is the Bill that is before the House and not the general question of unemployment. and I ask the House to deal with it. It is proposed to help unemployment by setting up what we consider to be a clumsy, stiff Committee, which is to have £10,000,000 a year, which it can accumulate if it wishes. That Committee is under no necessity whatever to answer to Parliament; it is freed completely of Treasury control, which is emphasised by the absence of a representative of the Treasury. However anxious we might be, as we are, to see employment improve, it is an impossible body that is contained in this Bill, with impossible functions. It is an impossible Bill, and we cannot support it. It has been said that some of the criticisms of the points to which I have briefly alluded are Committee points. Are they? Take the question of the presence or not of a Treasury representative on the Committee. The right hon. Member said that that was a Committee point. It is not so. The whole 1986 essence of the proposal is to free the operations of the body created by this Bill from Treasury control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) was quite explicit on this point. He said that what he objected to was the dead hand of the Treasury and he went on in the same speech to make it quite clear that the Treasury is to have no power of limitation or control over the proposed Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] From those cheers I assume that I am perfectly correct, and we are strengthened in our decision that we cannot for a moment support this Bill. The irresponsibility of the proposed body to Parliament is a feature which makes it wholly unacceptable. It does not go before the Estimates Committee. If there is one matter over which Parliament has exercised a really jealous control, it is over the question of expenditure, the right to expend money, the right to have the power to criticize whatever expenditure is incurred. It criticises it by means of the Estimates Committee, in Supply, through the Public Accounts Committee, and it is also brought before it by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. In none of these cases is there any responsibility to Parliament in connection with the expenditure proposed under this Bill, and for these two reasons alone the Bill is of such a nature that in the working of the British constitution it is bound to go into the limbo where other monstrosities have gone before.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Yes, I have read it. It. says that the Charman of the Board shall annually present to Parliament a report containing full details of the preparation, progress and execution of such proposals.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
There are many reports presented to Parliament, and there is no necessity for Parliament to discuss them. The whole point I have been putting is that Estimates have to be presented and discussed. There is a necessity for bringing them before Committee of Supply, but there is no such 1987 necessity in the case of this monstrosity. Perhaps the House will permit me to deal with one or two features of the problem of unemployment not from the point of view of the general discussion hut so far as it can be affected by Government machinery. One of the main reasons of the authors for presenting a Bill of this kind has been the analogy of the Imperial Defence Committee. They have taken the Imperial Defence Committee as an example; they have been impresed by that analogy. They have had in mind the war book of the Imperial Defence Committee, which provides for many contingencies, and have asked themselves the question: Cannot the same sort of functions be carried out in our ordinary economic life by another Committee of a somewhat similar kind? That is, I think, the reason for the introduction of this Bill. But they have overlooked one thing, and that is the very essential difference between the questions which come before the Imperial Defence Committee and those which would come before this Committee. The whole field of affairs considered by the Imperial Defence Committee is wide, but it is much narrower than, the vast economic field which would come before the Committee proposed in this Bill, and, what is more, the subjects considered by the Imperial Defence Committee are much more under the control of Governments than matters which affect economic conditions can possibly be under the control of the proposed Committee.
A proof of that is given by the fact that when the Imperial Defence Committee considers a question the experts on that question are found amongst the Committee itself, but here, if experts were needed, they would have to be found from 50 or 60 different trades and industries outside. For that reason I think it is impossible to compile anything approaching an economic hook by a Committee such as is proposed which would he at all analogous to the war book compiled by the Imperial Defence Committee.
§ Mr. MAXTON
You are interested in war and not interested in this question. That is the only difference.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
What is proposed here is freedom from the control of the Treasury. The Imperial 1988 Defence Committee frequently has a Treasury representative sitting on it, and, what is more, its conclusions are always subject to Cabinet decision. Under this Bill you establish a body which would exercise its functions on its own initiative, and, as far as we can see, would deal with matters that should come before the Cabinet, and would do so without interference. That is an inconsistency, even on the hon. Member's own statement. I turn next to the economic questions and how I conceive that they could be dealt with by Government machinery. In the first place, in order to deal with them effectively an infinitely more flexible body would be needed than that proposed in the Bill. It would need to be a body not necessarily composed of particular heads of Departments. It would need to take in Ministers without Portfolio, and it would need at times to have experts from outside on the Committee. You want a body completely different from that which the Bill proposes, with a changing personnel adapted to the particular problem to be dealt with. Although I do not for a moment claim that the existing machinery is perfect, yet I am convinced that the present Civil Research Committee, with such allied bodies as the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, is infinitely better calculated to deal with questions of this kind than is such a stiff and formal body as that proposed in the Bill.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I would counsel a little patience, and I hope to leave time for the hon. Member to speak.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Do not counsel patience to me. I have had patience for three years since you took that job.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
As to the questions to be dealt with, we consider that the questions which a Government can deal with are not the general questions of providing employment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I agree wholly with the remarks which were made by the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) on that score. Those who make a contrary claim have to meet a difficulty which as yet they have never faced, namely, that if you use up the available credit in providing employment for men on roads and relief work, that 1989 credit is not forthcoming for the ordinary industries in which people can find a much better livelihood; What you give with one hand in an unsuitable form you take away from the other more suitable form. We say that by way of exception, though not as a general rule, there are certain problems with which a Government ought to deal. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that if you had a body of this kind it could deal with the electricity question. We dealt with it immediately, and much more quickly and effectively than ever a body of the kind proposed in the Bill could have dealt with it. The types of exceptional cases are cases where, in the first place, von get such a wide extent or a quasi monopoly that it can only be coped with by Government agency, or types of case where there is such an aggregation of difficulties that some Government help should be forthcoming when the need for it or the desirability of it quite decisively stands forth. With regard to these types of case the sugar-beet industry has been dealt with successfully and the growth of sugar-beet cultivation has been immense. These cases have been dealt with successfully and rapidly.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Why are they an exception Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to intervene for a moment. I do not want to hurt his feelings, but this is a matter of considerable importance and this House is becoming slacker and slacker about it every year, and the right hon. Gentleman is becoming more contented about it every year. Will he tell me why the State can step into sugar-beet, artificial silk, electricity, broadcasting and all these things and tackle problems of that nature, when they cannot tackle other things such as unemployment.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member will say what other things can be justified economically, in the same way, they will be considered. [HON. MEMBERS: "Coal!"] The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood) in a previous Debate mentioned the question of shipping. That is a case which, on analysis, is not a proper case for Government interference.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member who has to reply is short 1990 of time he will realize after these interruptions that it is not my fault. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne said we ought to intervene because our shipping was overladen with old, worn-out inefficient ships. It would take a longish time to discuss the whole question of the shipbuilding industry, but the facts are that we are not behindhand in the matter of shipbuilding. In the first instance, the great extension of yards during the War under a Governmental regime necessitated by the War has enured to the detriment of the country as a whole, and it is also a question of costs in manufacture and of arrangements on the two sides of the industry. Broadly speaking, there is no question of being behindhand in technique and there is no call to take such action as is suggested, in a matter of this kind, especially at this moment when there is a revival. How far that revival will go on no one can say at the moment, but there is no justifiable case for the Government stepping in to deal with shipbuilding.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Had the hon. Member listened to me he would know that I said that the great extension of shipbuilding yards in order to replace the ships that were sunk by the U-boat campaign, had given a capacity and a personnel greater than any national demand could require in time of peace.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
There is one other case and that is the case of fuel research. That is being dealt with.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
At a moment's notice I cannot answer in detail, but it is constantly being dealt with by a special department, the Fuel Research Board. That problem is being actually tackled at the moment. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) raised one other case and that is the last of these special cases, namely, the need for building houses. I agree that there is a need for houses and I agree that the shortage of houses is a 1991 great bar to industrial recovery because it prevents the mobility of labour. Despite the fact that we have speeded up building, there are not enough houses yet. Will hon. Members agree to one of two things—either to support the building of steel houses, or to advocate, with all the power at their command, that a greater number of skilled men should be taken into the building trade in order to increase the supply of houses?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
If we agree to build more steel houses, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that that will not be used as a pretext for breaking wages?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
So far as I know, there has been no pretext for breaking wages by using steel houses, nor would I wish to have them broken. I see that hon. Members must take up my challenge. So far as the machinery for dealing with this question is concerned, the type of machinery we have got at present, while not perfect, is infinitely better calculated to deal with this question than any machinery of the kind proposed to be set up by the Bill. In regard to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), who is to follow me, I understand that his idea is that we should deal, not so much with questions of this kind as with the evening of work, that depressions and periods of unemployment and trade cycles should be flattened out, and that we should keep back work in times of boom and deal with it in times of depression. I would only say this to him, that postponing or anticipating work is admirable in theory, and as a matter of fact, has been done on a large scale by way of anticipation in recent years? It is always a difficult thing to know whether you are in a cycle and, if so, in what part of the cycle you are, but it has been done on a great scale. Even so, as the hon. Member knows, it really does not touch the fringe of the question.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
You know quite well you are not touching the fringe of the question to-day. Nobody knows that better than yourself.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
What is more, there is a perfectly natural limitation on even such work as there is by 1992 public departments, from the point of view of the weather. Let me again give the instance which were quoted in the last debate on this Bill of the kind of work with which the hon. Member himself would deal; Army contracts, Naval contracts, Air Force contracts, Inland Revenue buildings, Customs and Excise buildings, school buildings, and uniforms for policemen, postmen and other services. I ask the House just to mark that the Board that is proposed, with the officers proposed on it, is to deal with Army contracts, which belong to the War Office; with Navy contracts, which belong to the Admiralty; with Air Force contracts, belonging to the Air Force; with Inland Revenue and Customs buildings, which are under the Treasury; with school buildings, which are a matter for the Board of Education; with Post Office buildings and uniforms, which are Post Office matters; and with the clothing of the police, which is a Home Office matter.
They have selected matters which come under Departments, every single one of which is excluded from the Board which they propose to set up. A more unfortunate selection, I can scarcely imagine. How can a Board of that kind be a suitable body? The fact is, and I say it quite distinctly and simply, you can do a little by evening up and by anticipation. Much has been done but some improvements no doubt are possible. You can also deal with certain isolated questions like electricity or beet-sugar. But the ordinary idea that unemployment can be made better he relief works on a large scale is, as I have said before, one of the cruellest impostures that can ever be perpetrated on the population, and I, for one, will have nothing to do with it.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman confined himself, as he said he would at the beginning of his speech, strictly to the provisions of this Bill as a piece of machinery. I propose to keep most of my speech to that subject, and to reply to the criticisms and objections to this machinery which he has put before the House. But, before coming to his speech, which I shall endeavour to answer point by point, I would like to deal with one of the general subjects which has been prominent throughout this Debate, and on which our position seems to be very 1993 much misunderstood by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches. Speakers on this side of the House have said that, in their opinion, these fluctuations, these booms of employment followed by slumps, are due to private enterprise, and each time that statement has been made, it has been received with dissent, and even with amazement by those who are facing us on the benches opposite. I wish to say a few words on that subject, not from our view, but from the point of view of those whom hon. Members opposite, on all other subjects, accept as their guide. Our remarks on that question are, in fact, now being repeated by the organisers of trusts, combines, and cartels.
What is the position? Take it from the point of view of business men. The position is that as long as you have each industry carried on by a number of separate businesses acting more or less independently, in isolation, in ignorance of what the others are doing, the result is bound to be, that when things look well, every one of those firms will increase its output to the maximum, but as soon as confidence weakens, everyone will restrict its output to the very minimum, with the result that private competition in industry is inevitably bound to be, as we say, marked by a series of over-production and under-production, a boom and a slump, leading to that unemployment with which we are dealing to-day. That argument of ours has not only been, accepted, but has been repeated by the organisers of the chemical trust, of the electrical combine, of the proposed steel cartel, who have argued that if they could get some system by which the control of output was governed on a unified plan, from one centre, by an authority which could keep output related to demand, that would be one of the methods of preventing these fluctuations, these booms and slumps, and of regularising trade and employment. That is the argument, I recollect, the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) used when addressing the shareholders as the head of the new chemical merger. The difference between us is this. These great business organisers have accepted part of the arguments used from these benches, but they wish to deal with the problem by trusts, combines and cartels, which will lead to industrial despotism, whereas we wish to deal with 1994 it by public control and ownership, in which the people as a whole can have their share. That is all I have to say about the general discussion which preceded the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
The hon. Member made a very long speech, and several hon. Members from these benches answered his points. He followed a practice, which is becoming rather too common, of disappearing from the House when his speech had been made, and I do not propose to repeat the answers which were given in his absence. Now I come to the Minister of Labour's criticism of this particular piece of machinery. He dealt with secondary matters, but did not answer the case put forward as to the central purpose of this new mechanism. When I listen to a speech such as that made by the Mover of the Second Reading, and then hear a niggling speech such as that made by the Mover of the Amendment, I see that this is not really a difference of machinery but a difference in the whole spirit in which we approach this problem. We say that the problem of unemployment is of such a nature that it must be lifted right out of ordinary departmental administration, that it must be put into the hands of this special Employment and Development Board, a Board with a personnel of overpowering authority, a Board with great power and strength, a Board with an expert secretariat provided for it, a Board which would be able to create a driving force for dealing with this problem such as is found at present only for the solution of the problems of war. That is what we want.
The Minister of Labour apparently expressed approval of the general conception, but he went on to say that he disapproved of this machinery and suggested alternative machinery of a more flexible character, the alternative machinery being the Civil Research Committee. We heard about the Civil Research Committee last year, and I venture to say that every prediction we made that it would prove to be entirely futile in dealing with unemployment has been proved to be correct by the experience of the intervening 12 months. It is a body of comparatively little importance which has 1995 thrown upon it a conglomeration of unrelated subjects. It deals with such questions as the low-temperature carbonisation of coal one day and a tariff for the steel trade the next day. It is a body which has no permanent staff. It has not got one single full-time official, and to tell us that that is a body which is going to solve the problem of unemployment shows the difference in the spirit and attitude towards this question which is adopted on the other side of the House and on this side.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Does the hon. Member wish to convey that the low temperature carbonisation of coal and questions relating to the iron and steel trade do not affect employment very materially?
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
Of course there is practically no question in public life which does not affect employment. Even war affects it, but we want a body which will concentrate directly upon methods necessary for dealing with unemployment. The Minister of Labour says there is the Civil Research Committee, but let us consider the criticism he has made against this Bill. He objects to this Measure on the ground that the, proposals of the scheme and the proceedings of the Development Board to be set up under this Measure would not come before this House. We have already pointed out that the Board we contemplate would issue a report which the House could discuss whenever it wished. If that is the right hon. Gentleman's objection to this Measure what about the Civil Research Committee? That body does not report to this House. The proceedings of that Committee never come before this House at all. Not only that, but if I were to put down a question about the Civil Research Committee the answer I would get would be that that question could not be answered because it is against the Rules of the House to give information about the proceedings of a Cabinet Committee. Therefore I say that the Minister of Labour has himself answered one of the main criticisms which he has made against this Bill.
Another of the right hon. Gentleman's criticism was that he thought the Board we proposed would interfere unduly with the function of the Treasury and with 1996 other Government Departments. May I ask the Minister of Labour whether when the Geddes Committee was appointed he raised any objection to it on the grounds he has urged against the Committee which we proposed. The Geddes Committee went into every Government Department. It went right over the heads of the officials. It made recommendations practically over the heads of the Ministers in charge of those Departments, and it had far greater over-riding authority than we propose in regard to our Board. The difference is that what the Coalition Government thought was worth while doing in order to save money we think it worth while doing in order to save men. If it was worth while to establish this very exceptional and specialised machinery in order to deal with a question of £100,000,000, then we say it is worth while establishing specialised and exceptional machinery to deal with over 1,000,000 lives. Broadly, we say that we should like this problem of unemployment to be dealt with like the problem of consumption or cancer. When you come to the conflict or battle against those curses, you find specialised bodies having at the service of the greatest skill of our time behind them; but, if we had dealt with consumption and cancer as the Government wish to deal with unemployment and had handed them over to a committee dealing with a lot of other subjects at the same time, then we should not be, as we are, on the brink of these great alleviations of human pain. The way we look at this subject is that, if you could have this development Board, with power comparable to the power of the institutions which deal with disease—this development Board with the driving force of a Government which believed in it behind it—the kind of driving force which the Government put behind the Departments in the time of war—then I believe you would find that the progress of our conflict with industrial misery might be equal to the progress which medical science makes and a whole vast realm of schemes which are scarcely ever discussed to-day could be considered.
This Bill contains only one scheme, but, as a matter of fact, the scheme in this Bill would be merely one of a network of schemes by which you would approach 1997 this problem. We hear of trades decaying, and a board with this authority might be able to transfer population from one trade to another or from one part of the country to another. They could establish these training centres, residential and non-residential, throughout the country; they could have a regular system in order to deal with elderly men, preserving light jobs for elderly men who have another 10 years' work in front of them if only suitable work can be found for them. They could carry out this process of holding back work when trade is brisk in order to pour it into the market when trade is slack. I have not time to develop the schemes that could be put in hand. I come now to the particular reference which the Minister of Labour made to a speech which I think I delivered last year. We say that all of these things could be done if there were a Government which approached the problem of industrial misery in the spirit and with the thoroughness with which all Governments have approached the problem of preparation for war. I am convinced that, if we were dealing with the question of war, and the machinery for that, this House would not be satisfied, hon. Members opposite would not be satisfied, with the kind of argument that the Minister of Labour has used here to-day.
I come to the institution which he mentioned, and which I mentioned last year. Are the parallels correct? When you are dealing with war, what do you see? You see the Committee of Imperial Defence holding regular periodical meetings, with a staff specially at its disposal, with practically a whole house given over to its service in Whitehall Gardens, preparing day by day that great war book the volumes of which, I believe, now fill about half the house; so that, when the Shanghai Defence Force was sent out, the appropriate volumes of that great war book were taken down from the shelves, and, as they were opened page by page, every detail was complete, from the first telegram to the last ration of the last marine. That is what we do for war, and we do it for war because war touches the whole people, rich as well as poor. We do not do it for unemployment, because 1998 unemployment touches only, at the present moment, a million and a quarter, and they the poorest in the land; but we of the Labour party, as the spokesmen of this forlorn, neglected, pitiful and powerless claw, for that very reason put forward this Bill.
§ Mr. MAXTON
It would be a pity that the two minutes that are left should not be used for the discussion of this most important subject. I want to say that I am feeling a more profound sense of disgust at the statement the Minister of Labour has made to-day than I have in the previous years when this Bill came before the House. The first year it was introduced, it was possible for the Minister to walk away with the petty debating trick that he used on that occasion, and has used to-day, but it is not possible now. He has been in office now for nearly three years. He has been responsible to these million and a quarter unemployed. He is the man who ought to be handling this problem and dealing with it, and he comes year after year and talks about the Civil Research Committee, that does nothing on the subject, and has no power arid no duty to deal with the matter. The hon. Member for Reading (0Mr. H. Williams), who was the chief apologist for the Government and for the capitalist system in this country, after minimising the problem and bringing it down to its very lowest, had to admit that, there are two and a half millions in this country to-day who are unemployed, whom the Government cannot employ, and whom the Minister tells us the Government will not offer to employ. [interruption.] It is true; he said two and a half millions.
§ Mr. G. HALL rose in Ms place, and claimed to move, "That the Question he now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 112; Noes 177.2001
|Division No. 108.]||AYES.||[4.0p. m.|
|Adamson, W.M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayes, John Henry||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hirst, G. H.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Barr, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Buchanan, G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kirkwood, D.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, John James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Connolly, M.||Lee, F.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Cove, W. G.||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Mackinder, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||MacLaren, Andrew||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Duncan, C.||March, S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt. -Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Maxton, James||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Montague, Frederick||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Mosley, Oswald||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben|
|Hall G.H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Ritson,||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, George D.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Hartshorn, Rt Hon. Vernon||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. T.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Henderson.|
|Alexander, E.E. (Leyton)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey. Gainsbro)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Dixey, A. C.||Hope, Capt. A. O J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Howard Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Berry, Sir George||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Falls, Sir Charles F.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Forrest, W.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Loder, J. de V.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Ganzoni Sir John||Looker, Herbert William|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gates, Percy||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Cassels, J. D.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Lumley, L. R.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. Of W.)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Glyn, Major R. G. C||McLean, Major A|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Goff, Sir Park||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Grace, John||McNeill. Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Clarry Reginald George||Grattan-Doyle. Sir N.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Manningham-Bulfer Sir Mervyn|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Cope, Major William||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Courtauld Major J. S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Merriman, F.B.|
|Courthope Colonel Sir G.L.||Hartington, Marquess of||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Cowan Sir Wm. Henry (Islington. N.)||Harvey, Major S.E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt, Hon. B. M.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Moore. Lieut.-Colonel T.C.R. (Ayr)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Sheffield. Sir Berkeley||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Sinclair. Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Skelton, A.N.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Newton. Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wells, S. R.|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||White, Lieut. -Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Penny, Frederick George||Smithers, Waldron||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Reid, D.D. (County Down)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Rhys, Hon. C.A.U.||Stanley, Hon. O.F.G. (Westm'eland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Richardson, Sir P.W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Storry-Deans, R.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Strauss, E.A.||Welmer, Viscount|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Wood, Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn|
|Rye, F.G.||Tasker, R. Inlgo.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Salmon, Major I.||Thomson, F.C. (Aberdeen, S.)||Mr. Herbert Williams and Dr.|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which would extend bureaucratic interference with industry, and at the same time would fail to achieve its professed objects.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Eight Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next (9th May).