§ Mr. WELLOCK
I beg to move, in page 5, line 15, to leave out the wordson such terms as the Treasury may approve,and to insert instead thereof the wordsat a price not less than two million five hundred thousand pounds.My chief object in moving this Amendment is to expose the gross inequality which exists between the treatment of the Government property in cables and that of the private companies. In the answers to the speeches that have been made upon similar Amendments in Committee both the Postmaster General and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury have referred to "debt." What we are concerned with are the assets of the Government. The term "debt" is misapplied. We pay a certain sum for laying a Cable and we pay afterwards so much per year on that sum. After a few years we have a certain sum left, as is the case now. This is being regarded as a debt, both by the Imperial Conference and by the Government. It is quite a mistaken term to talk about a debt when this amount of money represents far bigger assets than are shown by the debt. Let us take the comparison with the private companies. When a private company lays down a cable or anything else, it has share capital to cover the cost, and it also includes a certain amount for working expenses. The whole of that money is regarded as being equivalent to the assets concerned. That idea must be kept in mind when we are dealing with these Government assets in cables.
I maintain that it is misleading the public to talk about debts in connection with a sum of money that represents only a very small proportion of the amount of the assets. What we desire to know exactly is, what are the Government assets in these properties? Much has been said both by the Financial 1572 Secretary to the Treasury and the Postmaster-General about this matter. In trying to estimate the value of Government property in cables, it has been definitely stated that we have to take account of the future prospects of these particular properties. If that is true regarding Government property, it is also true regarding the property of the private companies. We want to bring out in this Debate the difference in the treatment of the two properties, so far as the Conference and the Government are concerned. Let me come to the actual figures regarding the Imperial Atlantic Cables. There are two cables. One of them was procured from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles. What the actual cost of that cable was I do not know. It was laid between 1901 and 1903. We paid for it£1,480,000. Obviously the actual cost was very much higher than that. The other cable was laid in 1874—a long time ago. But we have to recognise that also in the property of the private cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company, there are cables which have been laid for many years. The second cable was bought from an American company for£570,000. The two properties together represent a cash payment of£2,050,000.
I want to get a comparable figure with the capitalised expenditure of the Eastern Telegraph Company. That is why I have put in the Amendement the figure£2,500,000. I treat that as the capitalised cost, though the capitalised cost is of course very much more. Let me come to the comparable figure in order that we may be in a position to criticise when we are being referred to the capital involved in the Eastern Telegraph Company. That capital is£9,000,000. I am not speaking of the market value of the shares, but of the capital value of the firm. The£9,000,000 includes an amount of money invested by the firm for the laying of the cables and other works in connection with that company. If we take£9,000,000 as the capital expenditure we ask how that sum has been treated by the Conference, by the experts and by the Government.
This Communications Company has, if one may put it that way, a capital of£30,000,000. How much of that£30,000,000 is to be credited to the Eastern Telegraph Company? I should 1573 have said perhaps£12,000,000 or£13,000,000 but on studying the report a little more closely I have come to the conclusion that it will be a higher figure than that, possibly£16,000,000 or£17,000,000. At any rate it means that for every£100 invested in the cables at the time the cables were laid they are to receive more than double. Accordingly you have this position. For the Imperial Atlantic Cables which are Government property representing a capital outlay actually of£2,050,000, a property whose assets at any rate were£2,500,000, we are to receive from the Communications Company a matter of£450,000, or between one-fifth and one-sixth of the actual capital outlay. On the other hand when we come to the case of the Eastern Telegraph Company we find that they are going to receive more than double their original outlay—as far as one can reckon it up—from this£30,000,000 Communications Company. It is that unequal treatment to which I object. That is a gross injustice.
We have in this transaction four properties—the Marconi, the beam wireless owned by the Government, the Eastern Telegraph Company, and the Government property in the Atlantic cables. What we are doing is this. This Communications Company includes a large holding for the Marconis, and a large holding for the Eastern Telegraph Company, but the British property both in beam and cables, is put on a different footing. One is to be sold at one-fifth of the capital value, and the other held on one side for a nominal sum per year; and the great benefits of this service are to go into the pockets of the people who are credited with£30,000,000 of capital.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I take it the Government is in no way responsible for the arrangements between the Marconi Company and the cable companies. The hon. Member can only bring that in as evidence of value in relation to the price. He cannot criticise the Government for the transactions which the Marconi Company and the cable companies have had between themselves.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
With great respect I put it to you Sir that in the report of the Conference, on which this Bill is based, a considerable 1574 amount of space is devoted to agreements between the companies concerned and evidence is adduced to show that the resulting company will be substantial and so on. I suggest it is open to my hon. Friend to deal with that point.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are not discussing the report. We are discussing the price of the Imperial Transatlantic cable undertakings. Of course, an hon. Member may bring up evidence of value, but transactions as between these other different companies cannot be argued on their merits.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I accept that Ruling, and it was not my intention to discuss the merits of these transactions. My only point is the inequality of the treatment as between the Government properties and the private properties. Having brought out that point, I simply want to emphasise the fact that the feeding of these various companies that are involved in this scheme is to come from the Government property in beam. We must not forget that fact from first to last. It is no good weeping over the past losses of the cable companies, either Government or private. We know they are going to lose in the future. That is how this transaction has come about, but it is our property in beam wireless which is going to make up for those losses, and the tragedy is that we are to receive, as a solid payment, one-fifth of the actual worth of our property—about one-fifth of the original outlay—whereas the others have been credited with double the original outlay and are going to be saved with the dividends of the beam wireless. That shows that as far as these other properties are concerned, a very high estimate is put on the beam wireless.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The beam wireless has nothing to do with the price at which the Transatlantic cables are to be sold.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I submit that the beam wireless has a good deal to do with the price because it is on the estimated amount of profit to be made out of the beam wireless that this entire transaction arises. Our grievance is that we are not going to have the benefit of the profits of the beam to the same extent as the private company. We are paid a small sum, and we clear out, and the beam wireless is to feed with dividends, 1575 companies that are really in private hands. I want the Minister not merely to talk about rates and prospects of trade in this matter, but to make a comparison between the treatment of the Government holdings and cables and the treatment of the private cables.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. This Amendment deals with the sale price of the cables. The bargain, if so it may be called, was made by the Secretary of State for Scotland assisted by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Evidently the criticisms offered by hon. Members are to be answered by the Postmaster-General. Now the Postmaster-General in this matter will simply sign on the dotted line; and I submit that the presence of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is aboslutely necessary if the Amendment is to be properly discussed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
No point of Order arises. I may point out that the Clause provides thatthe Postmaster-General may sell to the Communications Company "—not the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The price was fixed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, and not by the Postmaster-General.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Clause provides thatthe Postmaster-General may sell … on such terms as the Treasury may approve.For all we know that may be something quite different from what the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would do.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson)
I have listened to what the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. Wellock) has had to say in moving his Amendment, and I think it would be convenient that I should say something at once with regard to this question of the price to be paid for the Imperial cables, The figures, I agree, are extremely difficult to follow, but the hon. Member built up a case from a set 1576 of figures that are so grotesquely wrong that it is as well that I should let the Committee have the correct figures. I am bound to add that I have derived a certain amount of quiet amusement in watching the dialectic antics which the hon. Members opposite are compelled to perform. At one moment they argue that the beam wireless is so valuable that the cables are worth little or nothing, and then they move an Amendment to support which it is complained that the price which we are getting for the cables ought to be five times what it is. However, I will let that pass and come to the question of the price.
Let me tell the hon. Members opposite that I am prepared to stand here, both as a Minister and as a business man, and defend the price of£450,000 for the Imperial cables as being a very proper price and a satisfactory bargain for His Majesty's Government in Great Britain, and when I have done I shall be very surprised if the hon. Members opposite do not agree. Let me explain further that in the case of the Imperial cables, unlike that of the Pacific cables or the West India cables, there are no complications from the presence of any other interests than those of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain. We are the sole owners, and there are no complications. We have the sole responsibility, and I have to defend the price. Further, let me add that there is no question of debt. There are no debts. The cables are in our books absolutely clear and standing without any debts owing to anyone.
Perhaps I had better explain to the Committee, in the first place, that there are two different cables involved, one an ex-German cable and the other a cable known as the D.U.S. cable, that is the Direct United States cable, which was bought by His Majesty's Government. The ex-German cable was taken over after the Armistice as part of the reparations. It used to run from Emden, by way of the Azores, to New York, and it was diverted by way of Penzance and the Azores to Halifax. At this point I ought to say that there are really three relevant questions in regard to value, and three only, and the first is only relevant in a comparatively minor degree. The first question is, what did 1577 His Majesty's Government in Great Britain actually pay in hard cash for the cables? The second question is, What are the cables worth to His Majesty's Government in Great Britain as revenue earners now? And the third question is, What are they likely to be worth to the Communications Company as part of the merger? I will try to answer those three questions as well as I can.
I have explained that the German cable, running as it did from Emden, was diverted to run from Penzance and to terminate in Halifax, instead of New York. What we actually paid for that cable, and what appeared to the credit of Germany in the reparations account, was£450,000. In addition to that, there falls to be debited to the capital account the cost of diversion, which was£173,000, so that the total cost in cash of that cable to His Majesty's Government was£623,000. Cable No. 2, the ex-Direct United States cable, was bought in 1920 as a standby, as an alternative cable, and it was bought at a time of rather high prices. It runs from Halifax, Harbour Grace, to Penzance. There used to be an American section going on to Rye Beach, but that was dropped. What we actually paid for that cable was£570,000, less£125,000 worth of stock cable, which we took over as part of the bargain. The net cost to us, therefore, of this cable B, or cable No. 2, was£445,0010. Now£445,000 and£623,000 together make£1,068,000, and that is the first cost to His Majesty's Government of these two cables.
The hon. Member for Stourbridge and the hon. Member for East Bristol (Mr. W. Baker) have both had their attention somewhat distracted from this figure of£1,068,000 by an apparently much higher figure, because if they look at the commercial accounts of the Post Office, they will find that the prime cost of these two cables is put at£2,175,000, but that is not the prime cost to His Majesty's Government in Great Britain. That is what the two cables originally cost to the German Government in the one case and to the Direct United States Company in the other when the cables were laid down.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The respective figures were that the German cable originally cost Germany£935,000, and the other cable originally cost the Direct United States Company£1,240,000, making a total of£2,175,000.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It is from that figure that the depreciation ought to be written off. Of course, there has to be written off depreciation, and the method on which it is written off is a method settled long ago on the advice of the Government actuaries of the day and of financial authorities. It is to take the physical life of the cable, and then depreciation is written off every year so as to distinguish the cost in the books at the end of the assumed physical life of the subject. That is an extremely difficult thing to do in this case, because, as a matter of fact, the German cable was comparatively new, but the D.U.S. cable has been patched and patched and patched, and parts are, I believe, more than 50 years old. But, as a matter of fact, the figure at which the cable stood in the books at 31st March—I make the hon. Member opposite a present of this figure—was not£770,000, as he said, but£924,000.
That brings me to the second question, which is the really relevant question, and that is, What are these cables in fact worth to His Majesty's Government in Great Britain as revenue earners today? The answer is that they are worth minus quantities. There has been no profit on these cables since 1921. On the first two years' working of the cables, there was a profit, but after the second cable was bought in 1921 there was no profit on the commercial account. The average annual deficit for the last four years, after providing for depreciation and interest, has been£37,627, and last year, owing to the beam competition, the operating revenue did not in fact cover depreciation, let alone anything for interest at all.
How is it then that the Communications Company are prepared to pay£450,000 for the cables? Let me explain how that is. There is a reason, and a very practical reason. The Communications Company as part of a large system with world-wide operations owning these 1579 cables as portions of a number of alternative routes either by wireless or cable to the Antipodes, is in quite a different position from the Post Office owning nothing but two cables running across the Atlantic. The cables as part of a world's system may be, as I say, of considerable use to the Communications Company, because in case of any interruption of the cables, say, on the eastern route occurring at one of the times when wireless is impossible—and that is not infrequent—they would have an alternative route by way of the Atlantic. There is a certain substantial traffic of about£140,000 annually carried on these two trans-Atlantic cables, but the great difference between the position of the Communications Company and the position of the Post Office is that it will not be necessary for the Communications Company to maintain two cables.
The whole trouble with the Post Office has been the necessity of maintaining a second cable. The Post Office was put, rightly or wrongly, into this business after the Armistice, when the German cable was acquired as part of the Armistice terms, but it is impossible to conduct any business with only one cable in case of breakdown. It is, therefore, necessary to have a stand-by cable, and that is the reason why the second cable was bought, and the expense of the second cable and the amount spent on repairs for that cable have been very largely the reason for the accretion of these enormous deficits year by year on the working of the Imperial Cables. The Communications Company, I have little doubt, although I have no reason for saying what their views will be, or, indeed, what the view of the Advisory Committee may be, will probably drop the working of the second cable altogether, because their stand-by consists of their cable going east-about instead of west-about. Our only stand-by with the ex-German cable was the Direct United States cable.
The question, therefore, is, what is the German cable, standing by itself, without the necessity of having to maintain the expensive mending of the Direct United States cable, likely to be worth as a revenue earner to the Communications Company? That is the only question to which the Conference had to apply their 1580 minds, and they came to the conclusion, after having the best advice they could possibly obtain, that it might be assumed that the possible net revenue of the Communications Company would be£45,000 a year from one cable, without the necessity of maintaining the other. What we are getting, in fact, is 10 years' purchase at£45,000, instead of an annual deficit, which, for the last four years, has been£37,000. Last year it was£40,000 and this year it is likely to be a great deal more. Take it another way round. My right hon. Friend capitalises it at about 5 per cent. I will be even more modest and capitalise it at 4¾ per cent., at which it represents a perpetual revenue to His Majesty's Government of£21,375, and that is more than these cables have earned before charging interest in any year since 1923–24. That, from my point of view as a business proposition, is good enough, and I am prepared to defend it purely from the business and economic point of view. For that reason, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. BAKER
It is impossible to discuss this matter effectively in view of the Rules of Procedure. As a matter of fact, this subject must be viewed as a whole. It is quite absurd to endeavour to prove that this is a good commercial transaction as far as the Government are concerned, if we have no regard at all to the history of the subject, and if we have no regard to the extraordinary price at which the Beam is being presented to the company.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It is hardly fair of the hon. Gentleman to enlarge on that, because I have already told the Committee that were it not for the fact that the Committee were stopped from considering that question under the ruling of the Chair, I should be prepared to justify the price of the Imperial Cables and the price we are getting for the Beam. I am quite prepared to say that I can justify those figures to the Committee if I am allowed to do so.
§ Mr. BAKER
I regret that the right hon. Gentleman is so ready to express the view that it is an unfair argument. I submit respectfully that this matter can only be judged as one transaction, and we are in the unfortunate position, as a 1581 result of the Government's action, that we cannot consider all the parts of the transaction in the present discussion. If we are to discuss this question of Imperial Cables aright, we must start off by remembering that the all-Red route was not a commercial transaction. The great Imperialists of the Conservative party wanted an all-Red route from certain high motives. They did not embark on this business to make money, and to speak of the scrapping of this as a commercial transaction is to put their patriotism and Imperialism on a very low level. I contend that if there was so much anxiety to secure the German cable, we should like an explanation as to why the desire to retain that cable has so rapidly evaporated. But the complaint we make, and which we have not been able to convey to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, is that, on the Postmaster-General's own showing, a Government cable standing in, the commercial accounts of the Post Office at a figure which was, I think,£770,000, subject to depreciation, is to be handed over to the company for£450,000.
Let us take the simple point. Something which stands in the commercial accounts at£700,000 is to be handed over for£450,000. What is happening to the cables which do not belong to the Government? They are not going into the Communications Company on any such basis; they are not even looked at as assets which are an encumbrance and a burden, as things which have been in existence so long that the Communications Company ought to be able to get rid of them. That is not the position at all. If I am correctly informed, while the Government cables are being thrown into this pool at the lowest possible price, the cables which are privately-owned are being taken into the Communications Company on the basis of the shareholding in those companies. I do not know whether that is regarded as a substantial criticism, but it appeals to me, and I fail to understand why such an argument fails to appeal to the right hon. gentleman, and to his business friends.
When discussing this matter yesterday, I referred—and I only took it as an illustration, because the accounts of the cable companies are so much more cornDlicated—I referred to the case of the 1582 Marconi Company as an illustration of what is happening with the privately-owned assets. The Marconi Company, with an issued share capital of less than£2,500,000, is to receive in shareholdings in the new concern shares to the extent, of£17,350,000. That is not the basis on which the Government assets are being treated, and I should have little to say on this point if the same standard had: been applied to both assets. There may be a case for the Government, but I have not yet heard or seen it. I do not believe that any hon. Gentlemen opposite can justify creating a fusion of this character and treating the two sides in such a disproportionate way. That is not the whole case. As has been repeatedly stated, the important thing is that this merger is alleged to have risen with the cable companies. The Report which has been presented to us definitely states that, when the Imperial Conference met, the merger was already in process of formation, and that the merger laid down the definite condition that it would only take place provided the Government gave over its valuable beam assets.
They are the things which we have to remember. The cable companies admitted that they could not live against the Government competition, and yet if you look at the Report, on the basis of which the various shares are to be allocated, you will find that the defeated private cable companies, the people who were so beaten by Government competition that they threatened to scrap their cables or sell them to our rivals overseas—these people not only get the Government assets for a mere song, but have actually secured financial control in the Communications Company. We have the remarkable situation that the private cable companies, who clearly stated that they could not continue, and threatened either to scrap their undertakings, pay out their reserves to their shareholders, or sell the undertakings to our foreign competitors, have secured control over the rising wireless business against which they could not possibly hope to live in open competition.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for East Bristol (Mr. W. Baker) on the case which he has made. It is an overwhelming case, and no attempt has been made to answer it. It is very remarkable that during yesterday's Debates, the only speech which we had in defence of the Government was from the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), and that was that we are reducing our cable repairing fleet to one vessel—which for a naval officer was a remarkable argument. The only other defence came from the Chief Whip of the Liberal party. I protest against the absence of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury; it is not treating the House with respect that these two Ministers, who were responsible for this bargain, and made these arrangements, should be absent. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Secretary of State has gone to Scotland."] If he has an important public engagement, I can understand it, but where is the Financial Secretary? Has he gone to Scotland? These two Ministers should really be here, because they made the bargain, and although the Postmaster-General gallantly and stoutly defends it, he had no more to say in the matter than merely to add his signature.
The Postmaster-General was very frank, and he said that he was quite sure that I would agree that a very good bargain has been made. I am sorry that, although I admired his ingenuity and his loyalty to his party, I was not convinced. I will give the figures which have driven me to this conclusion. We are selling these cables, two of them, for under£500,000. It should be noted that when D.U.S., the Halifax to Penzance cable, was taken over in 1920, we paid£570,000 less£125,000 for stock cable. Whoever made that bargain was quite prepared to pay£125,000 for an old cable, which was only part of the system that was taken over, and received this 1584 stock in place of good money. That was the valuation at which it was taken in the Post Office accounts. That was only one of the two, and the cost of the two cables was£1,060,000. I should like to know how much has been spent in upkeep by the Post Office and the cable company. It is obvious that a great deal has been spent in upkeep, because it is not contended that these cables are not in an efficient condition. The right hon. Gentleman will not say that they have not been kept in first class working order, that all repairs have not been carried out, all renewals not made and the latest instruments not installed. If the Post Office have not done this, I can understand why they have made no profits. Either these cables have been kept up in a modernised and efficient condition, in which case they have been sold at scrap prices, or they have been let down and that accounts for the lack of profits. It must be one or the other, and I present the right hon. Gentleman with the horns of the dilemma. On which is he going to sit? Has the Post Office been conserving the country's property by keeping these cables in good order? If they have been kept in good order, a valuable asset has been sold at scrap prices.
I want very much to thank the right hon. Gentleman for presenting me with an admirable argument when I protest that when we nationalise property in the future we shall have to pay compensation for it. We shall be able to take what is being done here as a basis for that compensation. Some of my friends in my party have argued with me very stoutly, and have frequently overthrown me, on the question of compensation to private owners. I have always said, "You must pay compensation to private owners when in the national interest you take over their property," and the majority of my party agree with me. [Interruption.] Oh yes, that is our policy. It is in our Birmingham proposals. We have been presented to-day with a delightful argument, because we shall now compensate them on the basis of this arrangement. We shall take the straight line of depreciation, of writing down the value of their assets. We are not going to give them the capital cost, we are not going to allow for watered capital.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dennis Herbert)
The hon. and gallant Member cannot develop that argument. He must confine his remarks to the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
if the Committee decide by their vote on this Amendment that the Post Office have made a good bargain, it will be an invaluable precedent for us in the future, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has told us.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
On that point of Order. Are we not allowed to discuss the process which is being adopted in this case, and apply it in argument to future businesses?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Only so far as the remarks are definitely applied to the Amendment before the Committee. It cannot be used as a peg upon which to hang a discussion about a matter with which it has nothing to do.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Before we can really say whether the bargain is a good one, we must have the only possible comparison, and that is the value that is put upon a comparable private cable, the Eastern Telegraph and Associated Companies property. Until we can get that figure we have nothing to go on. The Communications Company to whom we are selling this Government property will have its dividend guaranteed up to 6 per cent. out of the profits of the beam wireless service, which we are leasing on very favourable terms to the company. Therefore, the amount of the capital and the number of shares that the Eastern Telegraph Company obtain for their property is of great importance. We have not been told that, and I do ask the Assistant Postmaster-General, who I presume will wind up the Debate on this Amendment, what is the Post Office valuation of the Eastern Telegraph Company's cable property. It is obvious that the Post Office advisers must have had this information, in order to be able to advise the Postmaster-General about this price.
It is a fair request I am making, and we are entitled to the information, because it would enable us to make a fair comparison. All we have in the White Paper is that the Eastern Telegraph 1586 Company will receive 35 per cent. of the ordinary shares, and the Marconi Company 65 per cent.; and they are getting in ordinary shares alone£3,150,000. if that is what is proposed their property is going to be valued at a very high figure indeed, some millions of money, and that affords us a comparison with this price of£450,000 which the right hon. Gentleman has accepted for these two cables, in first class running order, with all the latest improvements, equipped in every way. They are not being sold as old metal, for the value of the copper and the tin, but as a going concern. I have said nothing about goodwill, but there is the trained staff, who have reached a position of fair success after making the ordinary errors which every pioneer business makes. All this ought to come into the valuation, and I say the only fair comparison is what the capitalised value of the Eastern Telegraph Company is going to be in the merger. When we know that we shall know where we are, and until we have those figures I cannot say whether the right hon. Gentleman has convinced me or not. If we are refused information on that point, then I shall think the Government have a very bad bargain and want to cover it up and to mislead the Committee.
I did not quite gather what the Postmaster-General said with regard to the company breaking up or allowing to go out of use one of the two cables. One of the arguments of the supporters of the Government on this Bill is that for strategical reasons we must not allow the cables to fall into foreign hands or to die out—in case of some future war. The Postmaster-General told us, if I heard him aright, that one of the two cables would be allowed to go out of use altogether and to rot away. Is that really part of the bargain? Will not this Communications combine have the duty of keeping this property in good working order for strategical purposes? I am sorry that I should have to raise this matter. I always thought the Conservative party were the watch dogs of the Empire where national security was concerned. Are they prepared to allow one of these two vital cables to go out of use? These cables afford a means of communication across the Atlantic 1587 which, we are told, cannot be attacked or intercepted. We are told that cables afford the only means of communication by which secrecy can be maintained, and that the War proved this, and, therefore, that we must at all costs have these cables. Now the Postmaster-General says one of them can be allowed to rot and go out of use. What have our imperialists got to say about that? What has the hon. and gallant Member for Richmond (Sir Newton Moore) got to say about that? He is one of the great Empire builders. He was a great pro-Consul in Australia. He has great imperial interests in Newfoundland. What has he got to say about this?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not know what these references have to do with the question of the proper price to pay for these cables.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I hope to enlist the support of the hon. and gallant Member in protesting against this arrangement. I hope this matter will be reconsidered and that the Postmaster-General will insist that these cables will be kept going for strategical purposes. I hope my words will reach the Chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence and that the Prime Minister may be apprised of what I have said, because, if one of these two cables is allowed to go out of use, the whole ground for making this arrangement disappears.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN
When the Postmaster-General supplied the necessary evidence to the Gilmour Conference At what price did the Post Office put the cable? Was the price£450,000 for the two cables? Was it not stated in the evidence that£250,000 a year was a reasonable annual rent for the beam? I am not asking whether as a member of the Government the right hon. Gentleman agreed with this contract, but I want to know what evidence the Post Office tendered as to the price that these cables were estimated to be worth. I notice in the reparations account that the German submarine cables were estimated to be 1588 worth 49,000,000 gold marks. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee what was the prime evidence given as to the estimated value of these cables.
§ Mr. A. M. WILLIAMS
While the capital value of these cables may be a matter of argument, it is an undoubted fact that we have been losing£20,000,£30,000, and£40,000 a year by having to maintain them. Consequently, by the bargain we are now making the State is£60,000 a year to the good.
§ The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Viscount Wolmer)
I want to answer one or two of the questions which have been put to me. I will not repeat what the Postmaster-General has already said, and I shall be content by saying that my right hon. Friend has already shown that the price we are receiving for these two cables is a great deal more than we are able to make out of them at the present time, or that the Post Office has ever been able to make out of them since they were acquired. Therefore, we are well satisfied that we have made a very good bargain by this arrangement. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has asked a number of questions about the direct United States cable, and he asked how much we had spent on the repair and upkeep of that cable.
The hon. and gallant Member did not seem to understand why the Postmaster-General anticipated that the Communications Company might possibly allow this cable to fall into disuse. I understand from the facts which have been supplied to me that we have had to spend£23,000 a year on repairs to this cable. The point is that this particular cable is really worn out or obsolete, and it has been patched and patched in parts during the last 50 years.
The only reason why we bought the cable was to give an alternative route if our No. 1 cable broke down. If you are conducting any cable business, you must satisfy your customers that you are at all times ready to deliver their messages. Occasionally, if a cable breaks down, more especially in the Atlantic, it takes several weeks before it can be repaired. The hon. and gallant Gentle- 1589 man the Member for Central Hull knows very well that you cannot repair cables in rough weather, and it is impossible to conduct a lucrative cable business unless you have alternative channels which you can use in case of a breakdown. It was only for that reason that the Post Office ever bought this cable at all. As long as we were conducting an Atlantic service with no other channel available it was necessary to have this cable, but, financially speaking, it proved a very bad bargain for the Post Office. This particular cable cost a great deal of money to keep in repair, because, after putting in new bits, the old bits were always liable to break. The Communications Company will have other cables to America and Canada, and they will not be liable to this expenditure on repairs which the Post Office at the present time has had to face. This particular cable is worn out.
We have now two competing organisations, and both of them have to have their stand-by. That is an obvious paint in what we call the rationalisation of industry of which I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull is as much in favour as we are. The hon. Member for East Bristol (Mr. W. Baker) complained that the cables were being sold at half their book value. My reply to that argument would he simply to repeat what the Postmaster-General has already said, namely, that they are being sold at a great deal more than they are able to bring in at the present moment. Therefore, from the point of view of pounds, shillings, and pence, the Post Office has gained a very considerable sum for the taxpayers by disposing of these cables which are not paying.
§ Mr. AMMON
The Noble Lord has not answered the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Benn). There should be no doubt whatever in the mind of the Committee as to what is involved. The Noble Lord has spoken about the question of the cost of repairs, but this is not a question of obsolete and worn-out cables, because the real value is in the other service which goes with the cables, and the Committee ought to bear that fact in mind. We have been told that this is a non-paying concern, that it is obsolete and needs repair, but that is not the real value of 1590 which we are disposing. This particular cable would have no value at all if it were not for the beam service. I think we have a right to know what is the estimated value of these combined services. When the Noble Lord talks, as he did just now, about our being in agreement with rationalisation, that is an altogether different thing from handing over the whole of the Imperial communications to a private company, who are to perform an essential public service, which they can exploit, as they will, to the detriment of the community as a whole. I would ask the Noble Lord either to say definitely if he is not prepared to answer the question of my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen or to give us an answer, so that the Committee may be in a position to assess exactly what sort of bargain is being made in terms of cash, having regard to the cable itself and to tie added value given to the cable by its association with beam wireless.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I can only repeat what I said earlier. I am asked to justify, and I am responsible for justifying, two different proposals, the one the price which it is proposed shall be given for the sale of these cables, and the other the rent that we are receiving for the beam wireless. I have justified to the best of my ability, and I believe I have convinced many people, that, from the commercial, as well as from the Imperial point of view, the price we are getting for the Imperial cables is very satisfactory. I have told the hon. Gentleman and the Committee quite frankly that I should be prepared to justify, and I am satisfied that I can justify up to the hilt, the rent that we are receiving in the case of the beam wireless service—
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
That is exactly what I expected you to say, Mr. Hope. As I am not allowed to do that, all I can say is that the hon. Gentleman must in this case take the will for the deed, and it is not fair of him to turn round and say that, while I have justified the price we are getting for the cables, I have not said anything about the beam wireless. I have expressed my willingness and my confidence in my ability to justify that also.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
I trust, Mr. Hope, that you will not so far rule out of order the discussion of this matter that the Postmaster-General will be prevented from giving us the information for which we ask. At this moment the right hon. Gentleman seems to be under that impression, and I think that you, Sir, can clear the matter up. All that we are asking is that the Postmaster-General should give us two figures. They can be easily stated, and it may be that he is right in saying that he can justify the whole of this procedure to the Committee and, ultimately, to the country. If he can, there should be no difficulty at all on his part, and may I submit, Sir, with great respect to you, that there should be no difficulty on your part in allowing him to state those two figures.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is asking me not to rule out of order that which I have been ruling out of order on an average once every 40 minutes since Four o'clock yesterday afternoon. No doubt it will be perfectly in order on the Post Office Estimates, or a special opportunity might be found; but in Committee on Clause 4 of this Bill it is not in order, and I have said so very often.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Does that mean that on this particular Amendment, which deals specifically with the question of the price of the cable, we may not ask from the Postmaster-General a piece of precise evidence regarding what he has considered ought to be the price of that cable? That is all that we are asking.
§ Mr. HUDSON
May I submit, with great respect, that the right hon. Gentleman has been, by certain motions of his head, indicating that you, Sir, are the person responsible for preventing him from telling us what we are asking to know; and I ask you again, Sir, whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us the figures that he quoted in the Conference referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. 1592 Benn), and whether you will permit him to give us those figures for which we have pressed so much. I submit to you, Sir, that it is a very vital issue, and that, unless we can get these facts now, there will be the impression in the country that the Postmaster-General knows that in the past he has given evidence upon this point which is now in conflict with the conclusions that he is wanting the Committee to draw, and that, in order that the Committee may not be properly guided, he is seeking to withhold from us evidence that he formerly gave, and is seeking to bring you into this question.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That might be the construction put upon the speech of the hon. Member. If the Postmaster-General did say in the Conference what was a fair price for the sale of these cables, there is no reason as a matter of order why he should not give that figure.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Thank you very much, Sir. I have now great pleasure in giving way to the Postmaster-General, in view of the fact that it is quite in order for him to give this figure.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The course which hon. Members opposite are pursuing does not invite me to endeavour to give any fuller reply than I have given, but I have done my very best to put the Committee in possession of all the facts. I am asked what evidence was given by the Post Office at the Imperial Conference, but the hon. Gentleman knows just as well as I do that everything which takes place before an Imperial Conference is private, and, therefore, I must decline to give any other answer. What the Committee are entitled to ask me, on my responsibility as Postmaster-General, and what the House is entitled to ask me when the Bill comes up for Third Reading, is whether I am satisfied, as the responsible person in whom this property is vested—[Interruption]—may I be allowed to try to define to the Committee what I conceive to be my responsibility? I may be wrong, and, if so, it is for hon. Members to show, but my responsibility is to justify to the House of Commons whether the price which I have received for property the control of which is vested in me, is in my 1593 judgment a fair commercial price, and to satisfy the House of Commons that that is so. I have done my best so to do. I say that I am satisfied, both as a Minister and as a commercial man, that His Majesty's Government is making an extremely good bargain in the sale price for these Imperial cables.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I think that this is the only Parliamentary procedure that we can now adopt. What is the position? It is that the House of Commons, the elected representatives of the people, are being asked to give statutory authority for the disposal of public assets, but are unable to obtain, from the Minister in charge of the Measure which will give that statutory authority, fundamental evidence to enable the representatives of the people to judge whether in fact they are getting a proper price for the public assets which are now being disposed of. It is implicit at any rate in the statement of the Postmaster-General that figures were placed before the Conference, and that information given to
§ the Conference is being withheld from the representatives of the people before they come to their judgment as to whether a fair price is being obtained for public assets. That position is intolerable. We have always taken the view in this country that there ought never to be any taxation without representation, but the disposal of public assets at a price which is not commensurate with their real value and without information is, in effect, taxing the people without adequate representation. From that point of view we are bound to take the only course that is open to us in Parliamentary procedure, and move to report Progress, so that the Postmaster-General may, if he feels bound to do so, get proper executive permission from the Governments concerned to reveal to the elected representatives of the people what was the price originally estimated by the Government as being the value of these assets.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The. Committee divided: Ayes. 98, Noes, 190.1595
|Division No. 34.]||AYES.||[12.26 p.m.|
|Adannson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shinwell, E|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smillie, Robert|
|Barnes, A.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennle (Penlstone)|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Bellamy, A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Kennedy. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Briant, Frank||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Lawrence, Susan||Taylor, R. A.|
|Buchanan. G.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lee. F.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cape, Thomas||Longbottom, A. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cluse, W. S.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Townend, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Mackinder, W.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Compton, Joseph||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Walsh. Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Connolly, M.||March, S.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Cove. W. G.||Montague, Frederick||Welsh, J. C.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Westwood, J.|
|Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Murnin, H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Day, Harry||Palin, John Henry||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Dunnlco, H.||Paling, W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Gillett, George M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gosling, Harry||Pethick- Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercllffe)|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby. Arthur||Windsor. Walter|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grenfell. D. R. (Glamorgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F.O.(W.Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Scrymgeour, E.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Hardie. George D.||Sexton, James||Whiteley.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon Leopold C. M. S.||Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Balnlel, Lord|
|Applin. Colonel R. V. K.||Atholl, Duchess of||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Baldwin, Rt, Hon. Stanley||Barnett, Major Sir Richard|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gulnness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Owen, Major G.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Hacking, Douglas H.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Berry, Sir George||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hammersley, S. S.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hartington, Marquess of||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Haslam, Henry C.||Preston, Sir Walter (Cheltenham)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Heneage. Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Fllnt)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Renneil|
|Brooks, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Rye, F. G.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Inskip. Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sandon, Lord|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sassoon. Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthberl||Savery, S. S.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Clavton. G. C.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Skelton, A. N.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D,||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lamb, J. Q.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Courtauid, Major J. S.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Craig. Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)||Locker-Lampson, Com.O. (Handsw'th)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Loder, J. de V.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Looker, Herbert William||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Davies, Or. Vernon||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Herman||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Drewe, C.||Lynn, Sir Robert J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Tasker, R. Inlgo.|
|Elliot. Major Walter E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Ellis. R. G.||Macintyre, Ian||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Erskine. Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||MacLaren, Andrew||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Everard. W. Lindsay||Maitland. Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wallace. Captain D. E.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Malone, Major P. B.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Forestier-Walker, sir L.||Margesson, Capt. D.||Water house, Captain Charles|
|Forrest, W.||Marriott. Sir J. A. R.||Watson. Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Meller. R. J.||Wells, S. R.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Gates, Percy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Withers, John James|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nelson, Sir Frank||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn.sir H. (W'th's'w. E)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Major Sir William Cope and Mr.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||F. C. Thomson.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The Postmaster-General has not answered my question about the value put upon the property of the Eastern Telegraph Company by the Post Office experts. It is necessary that we should have that so that we can make some comparison. Before we can say the bargain is a good one we ought to know what the merger company is going to take into capital account for the value of the company's 1596 property. The Postmaster-General must have given some advice. We are told these cables are worth a mere bagatelle —£500,000. What value is going to be allowed for the private cables in the Pacific? That is a very fair question. It will make a very interesting comparison. If the Postmaster-General refuses to answer, we can only draw our own conclusions.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 191; Noes, 98.1599
|Division No. 35.]||AYES.||12.36 p.m.|
|Amery. Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nicholson,Col.Rt.Hn.W.G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Greenwood, Rt.Hn.Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Astbury, Lieut. -Commander F. W.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Owen, Major G.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Athoil. Duchess of||Gulnness, Rt. Han. Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gunston. Captain D. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Balniel, Lord||Hacking, Douglas H.||Pliditch. Sir Philip|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hall. Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hammersley, S. S.||Preston, Sir Walter (Cheltenham)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Remer, J. R.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Hartington, Marquess of||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U,|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Haslam, Henry C.||Roberts E. H. G. (Fllnt)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rye. F. G|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey. Farnham)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sandon, Lord|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Skelton. A. N.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Smith, R- W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Blrm.,W.)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Charteris. Brigadier-General J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Knox, Sir Alfred||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Litter, Cunllffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Cockerill, Brlg.-General Sir George||Loder, J. de V.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Looker, Herbert William||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H. (Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Luce, Major-Gen.Sir Richard Harman||Tasker, R. Inlgo.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen South)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.' Mitchell|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Macintyre, Ian||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Drewe, C.||McLean, Major A.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Edmondson, Major A, J.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Macquisten. F. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Ellis. R. G.||Maitland. Sir Arthur D. steel-||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Erskine Lord (Somerset Weston-s.-M.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Malone, Major P. B.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Margesson, Captain D||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wells. S. R.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Meller, R. J.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Merrlman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Forrest, W.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Foster. Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Winterton Rt. Hon. Ear,|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Withers, John James|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Wood. Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Gates, Percy||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Major Sir William Cope and Mr.|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Penny.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|A damson, W. M. (Stall., Cannock)||Cape, Thomas||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cluse, W. S.||Grundy, T. W.|
|Baker, Walter||Clynet, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Compton, Joseph||Hardle, George D.|
|Barnes, A.||Connolly, M.||Hayday, Arthur|
|Barr, J.||Cove, W. G.||Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Bellamy, A.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hirst. W. (Bradford, South)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Day, Harry||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Dunnleo, H.||Jenkins. W. (Giamorgan, Neath)|
|Briant, Frank||Gillett, George M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Broad, F, A.||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gresnall, T.||Kennedy, T.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Potts, John S.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Lansbury, George||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lawrence, Susan||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Lawson, John James||Scrymgeour, E.||Townend, A. E.|
|Lee. F.||Sexton, James||Vlant. S. P.|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Lunn, William||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wellock, Wilfred|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Welsh, J. C.|
|Mackinder, W.||Shinwell, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sitch, Charles H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|March, S.||Smillie, Robert||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Montague, Frederick||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhitbe)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Murnin, H.||Snell, Harry||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercllffe)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Snowden. Rt. Hon. Philip||Windsor, Walter|
|Palin, John Henry||Stamford, T. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Paling, W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Parkinson, John Allan (Wigan)||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Taylor, R. A.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Whiteley.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. BENN
As the Secretary of State for Scotland is now present, I venture, even though it is only as a matter of form, to repeat the questions which we put on the Amendment which was attempted to be made to the Clause. I may say for the benefit of hon. Members who did not follow the Amendment that the situation is this: We are not to be told—in fact, the information is being specifically refused by the Postmaster-General—as to what value the Post Office themselves set upon the Atlantic cables which we are selling for£450;000. Some value was set on them by the Post Office, and it was tendered in evidence before the Conference over which the Secretary of State for Scotland presided. We do not know the figure. We have asked for it, and we cannot get it. Moreover, some reasonable value for the annual lease of the beam service was also tendered in evidence before the Conference presided over by the Secretary of State for Scotland. We do not know what was the value set by the Post Office on this new installation.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member surely must realise that he must not put that question, as I have repeatedly ruled.
§ Mr. BENN
I have not the least desire to attempt to challenge the Ruling of the Chair on immaterial points, but it is quite obvious that the price of the beam is a very material fact in regard to the bargain, particularly having regard to the Preamble, which isto authorise the sale of telegraph undertakings established under the Pacific Cable Acts, the West Indian Islands (Telegraph) Act and of certain submarine undertakings in the possession of the Postmaster-General and to make provision for certain matters incidental thereto.The most important consideration is the price of the Beam. I have a sincere desire to observe the rulings of the Chair, and I simply say that these figures are known to the Postmaster-General. They are the assessments put by our own technical experts upon the national property, and they are known not only to the Postmaster-General but to the Secretary of State for Scotland, neither of whom will disclose the true figure to this House. Therefore, we are left to form our own conclusions. I say that the price put on these assets by the Post Office was far higher than the price which we are getting, and I say, further, that the Post Office was opposed to the sale of the Beam and cable services on these terms. I assert, and it is commonly believed, the "Times" newspaper, is of the opinion, that this bargain from the Post Office point of view is a bad bargain. So long as we cannot get the information which we desire, we are entitled to assert that our statements are true, and because they are true the two Government officials concerned cannot deny it.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
are the Postmaster-General and the Secretary of State for Scotland in a position to make up their minds to give us, say, an 1601 estimate or the agreed price of the final capitalisation of the Eastern Telegraph Company's assets. Can we not have that?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Only as a comparison. The Noble Lord told us that it was very important for the Communications Company to have the Atlantic Cables as an alternative to their east-bound route. Can we not have the inflated value, the monopoly value of the Eastern Telegraph Company's assets? Otherwise, we cannot tell whether this is a good bargain or not. That information is being withheld, and it is a part of this very questionable business, from beginning to end.
§ Mr. W. BAKER
I have no wish to delay the Committee, but I have very little hope that my appeal will be listened to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Postmaster-General has definitely refused to tell us what he put before the Imperial Conference. He has refused my request for an official explanation as to the remarkable difference in the treatment of the Government's assets and the assets of the private cable companies. There is, surely, no breach of confidence in asking the Postmaster-General to deal with that point. Seeing that the Postmaster-General has declined to deal with the matters which have been submitted to him by my colleagues, I must take this opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he, in his position at the head of the Imperial Conference, and with his close and intimate knowledge of the matter, will justify the different basis on which the Government assets in the shape of cables are being taken into this fusion, as compared with the basis on which the cables belonging to the private companies are being taken over. During this morning I have endeavoured to show that there is no comparison between the methods employed in the two different cases. The Government is being badly served in comparison with the private interests, and I would ask that someone should attempt to give an explanation if not an answer to the criticisms which we have made.
§ Mr. GILLETT
One unsatisfactory feature in connection with this business is the treatment of the assets of the merger company as compared with the Government's assets. The details of the merger company do not come before us for decision, because they are private arrangements which have been made between the firms who are to form the merger company as to the terms on which they will come into the amalgamation. I will deal particularly with the position of the Eastern and Associated Cable and Telegraph Companies. The allocation of their capital in the new Company, under the arrangement, shows that of the 5½ per cent. cumulative preference stock, the Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies receive shares to the value of£20,000,000, and of the 7½ per cent. non-cumulative ordinary shares, they receive£13,200,000. Finally, of the "B" ordinary shares, they receive£3,150,000. It is open to discussion whether they have not over-valued their property. When we take these extraordinary figures, hon. Members may say that they have very large reserves, but even allowing for that and taking into account the cables which, according to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, are not a very paying concern, we find that these private companies bring forward figures of this kind for merger purposes, and when we come to the Government concern we find that£250,000 is considered sufficient by the Government for the sale of their undertakings. It seems to me that no business man could come to any conclusion of that sort. We are not told really what are the values of the Government property. We have been given vague insinuations that the Postmaster-General said something at the Conference, but to-day he cannot tell us what he said, because it is private. We may assume that it is not in his interest to tell.
§ Mr. GILLETT
It is a very simple matter. Surely, if between yesterday and to-day the right hon. Gentleman thought that it was important for the sake of the Government and the country that the information should be made public, he could have taken steps to obtain permission to make the informa- 1603 tion public. If he says to-day that we cannot have that most vital information in order that we may come to a conclusion, we must draw our own inference. When we see these enormous values put upon the assets of the cable companies, we say that there is something wrong somewhere. Either the figures of the merger company are being grossly exaggerated, or the expert opinions given to the Government are wrong. Between the two, for lack of information, it is impossible for the Committee to come to any satisfactory conclusion, and the nation will have to draw its own conclusion.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
The Postmaster-General, in dealing with this matter, spoke rather under a sense of irritation. So far as we had any responsibility for that, I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has put himself into that position. The statement which he de-clines to give us regarding the price which he formerly assumed the assets of the Government to be worth could not possibly do any harm, if it were made now, to any part of the British Empire. I could well understand that if it was a matter in which some of the Dominions were concerned with ourselves, there might be diffidence about stating the price, particularly if the Dominions were more concerned in it than we were. But there is nothing of that sort in this case, and I submit to the Postmaster-General, who was very indignant with the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) for suggesting that he was hiding something in his own interests, that in his own interests, and in view of the fact that no case has been made out for keeping this information secret, that he should give the Committee the information it ought to have.
I do not know whether the Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to prove that there is a case for keeping this information secret. This property is ours, and is ours still; and the public department which has been mainly responsible for it in the past has given the Imperial Conference an estimate of its value. It is in the public interest that we should be told what that estimate was; it is in the Imperial interests also. I submit to the Secretary of State for Scotland that the Dominions 1604 should know. If this discussion concludes without any clear statement being made either by the Secretary of State or the Postmaster-General, distrust will grow not only in this country but throughout the Empire as to the bona fides of the Members of the Government in the statement they made in regard to values of this sort. I press again, with all the emphasis I have, that the Secretary of State should tell us the value which was attached to this property at the time when the Imperial Conference was discussing the question. Unless he can give us this information the Government will be under a very serious cloud of suspicion, and will he accused of knowing that the value of this property is much higher than the value they attach to it at the present moment.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I have never witnessed a weaker defence upon any matter than the defence of the Government in regard to this agreement They positively refuse to face the difference in treatment as between the Government holding in cables and the Eastern Telegraph Company's holding in cables. The simple fact is that the Government cables and the Eastern Telegraph Company cables are in the same boat. They are both faced with bankruptcy unless something is done; and the means of salvation is the beam wireless. Yet when it comes to asking what is to be given for these holdings we have a scrap price in regard to the Government cables, but in regard to the Eastern Telegraph Company cables they are credited with—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out that the Government are not responsible for any price or value in regard to the Eastern Telegraph Company. That can only be brought in as an indirect evidence of the value of the other.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
The point is that dividends are to be provided for the Eastern Telegraph Company from the Government beam wireless, and the same consideration should be given to the Government holding in cables. The treatment which is meted out to the Eastern Telegraph Company should also be meted out to the other. It is because 1605 the Government will not put these properties in the same category that we must oppose this clause.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
I am genuinely surprised at the attitude which is being taken up by hon. Members opposite. Is it to be suggested that the constitutional practice of holding an Imperial Conference can be legitimately departed from by any Government. The Imperial Conference is composed of representatives of all members of the Empire. There comes before it a mass of evidence, and it has never been the practice, indeed it would be impossible, to make public all she evidence which is considered by the Conference. All kinds of allegations are being made by hon. Members opposite. Suspicion seems to have been bred with great rapidity.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Evidently, they desire to foster all kinds of allegations against the fair and honest judgment not only of the representatives of His Majesty's Government, but of the rest of the Empire. Let hon. Members opposite realise where they are going by a policy of that kind. It is a most dangerous line of argument for those who aspire to take a place in the government of this country.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
If there is anything underhand in the decision which the Conference came to or in the proposals which we are submitting to this House it reflects, not only on His Majesty's Government, but also on the representatives of the Dominions.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
What I wish the Committee to understand quite clearly is that we are concerned here with the price for the sale of certain assets connected with the Imperial cables. The 1606 Conference had the fullest opportunity of forming its own judgment on these questions, and in addition they took the precaution of employing two men most eminently qualified to study and examine all the information—and a great deal of it was confidential—and following upon the advice of these gentlemen the Conference with the full knowledge they had accepted their recommendations, and further, submitted them to their respective governments who, in turn, have agreed to accept it. I think the general public will realise when this Debate is considered that there is nothing underhand, nothing hidden, and that all the circumstances are plain. We are satisfied that the price is fair and just, and I ask the Committee to agree with it.
§ Mr. AMMON
I think it would have been much better if the right hon. Gentleman had not spoken at all rather than make the speech he has. In the first place, no aspersions have been cast either on the Dominions, on the right hon. Gentleman or on the Postmaster-General, or anybody else concerned in the matter. He has raised up dummies himself and has then proceeded to knock them down. We have not asked for the disclosure of anything which is confidential, which should not be disclosed, but, as the custodians of public property, we have asked for information which is necessary for us to form a judgment as to whether the Government are making a good bargain or not. It is no good the Secretary of State for Scotland waxing indignant about things which have not been said. The right hon. Gentleman's indignation arises from the wretched position in which he finds himself, in having to defend something which he knows is unsound right through. This cable itself—
§ Mr. AMMON
This cable itself is entirely a British cable, and the Noble Lord opposite is the last man to talk about; "His Master's Voice," having regard to the rebuke which was administered to him not long ago from that very Box—a rebuke which reminded him of his extreme youthfulness, as far as development is concerned. "His 1607 Master's Voice" in this respect seems to be the large financial interests. What we have asked for is no betrayal of any confidence or of any information that ought not to be given; but surely it is fair that we should ask what terms the Government put before the Imperial Conference, so that we might see whether what the Government are to receive is in any way commensurate with the terms laid down. That is not unfair. I wonder whether the Committee have realised the position under this Bill. Here is a Communications Company not yet formed and a price that is not known. We are going to sell something to someone who does not exist for an amount of money that no one knows anything about. All that we ask is, how the Government arrived at that extraordinary figure. The Secretary for Scotland has prolonged the Debate by his speech and has waxed indignant over something which does not exist. That is bound to raise, and he himself is going to raise in the Dominions, a suspicion which has never been suggested from this side, for the right hon. Gentleman has now given the impression to the whole country that there is something to hide, that the Government are afraid to declare their hand in this matter. It is just a simple point that is raised. Did the Post Office or whoever was concerned put figures of purchase before the Conference? What were those figures? We want the information so that we can compare the figures with those that we are now considering.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I am astounded at the attitude of Ministers. Apparently, we are not to be told anything that His Majesty's Government have done, when we seek to come to a conclusion on a very important point with reference to the assets of this Company. We have been told that. the Dominions were against holding these things in the hands of the various Governments. Is this a following up of the remarks of the Assistant Postmaster-General some time ago—remarks for which he was most justly rebuked by the Prime Minister? Are the Government going at any cost to hand these things over to private enterprise so that other people may benefit? We took the risk and did everything possible to make the 1608 beam wireless a success. It was made a success, thanks to the Labour party. Now, because it is a success, the Government are going to hand it over, willy nilly, to other people, and they refuse to tell the country what they are doing. We shall do our best to let the country know, and I trust that retribution will come even before the general election.
§ Miss WILKINSON
The speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland reminded me of the story of the lady in a back street. Her neighbour accused her of stealing her boots, and in reply she forthwith proceeded to give an unvarnished account of her neighbour's relations. There is no doubt whatever that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman does engender a, deep suspicion. I am not objecting very much to the attitude of the Government on this matter, because I have been watching with some interest their back benches. They have an enormous majority and can do exactly as they like. They sit there while this side talks and talks and asks for information, and they are thoroughly pleased with the fact that, whatever happens, they can go on smiling and push through any ramp that they like. Whatever we do, the majority opposite is so huge and so docile that hon. Members seem to regard it as a matter for amusement that they need not give any information, need not obey any of the constitutional usages of this House or observe any of the ordinary courtesies in giving information to the Opposition.
It forms an extraordinary precedent, and I hope that the time is not far distant when those of us who sit on the back benches on the Labour side will be sitting on the back benches opposite, and that we shall have a majority something comparable to that of the present Government. The real joy of life then will be to sit there and smile while cur Labour Government is engaged in taking over the land, the coal mines, the transport and the factories, and other little trifles like that, and when on this side the Conservative party gets up and "raises Cain" in a desire to stop the excellent and beneficent work of nationalising the resources of the country. We shall be able then to sit on the benches opposite and remember the conservative smiles of to-day, and how perfectly lovely it is to reverse what the 1609 present Government is doing—to get a nationalised and stop the sale of national assets, for which the Government is creating a precedent now.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 186, Noes, 101.1611
|Division No. 36.]||AYES.||[1.12 p.m.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gower, Sir Robert||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Applln, Colonel R. V. K.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hacking, Douglas H.||Pllditch, Sir Philip|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Beamish, Rear Admiral T. P. H.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Preston, Sir Walter (Cheltenham)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Hammersley, S. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Berry, Sir George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Haslam, Henry C.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rye, F. G.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cllve||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Briscoe. Richard George||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sandon, Lord|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Brown, Brlg.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Slmms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Calthness)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Ilifle, Sir Edward M.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Insklp, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A. (Blrm.,W.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Smithers. Waldron|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Somervilie, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lamb, J. Q.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Livingstone, A. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Craig, sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Locker-Lampion, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Crookshank.Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Loder, J. de V.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Culver well, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Looker, Herbert William||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davles, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Tltchfield, Major the Marquees of|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Drewe, C.||Maclntyre, Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||McLean, Major A||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Macquisten, F. A.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Maklns, Brigadier-General E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Malone, Major P. B.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Margesson, Capt. D.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Meller, R. J||Wlndsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Forrest, W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Withers, John James|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Gates, Percy.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Mr. Penny and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Buchanan, G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bellamy, A.||Cape, Thomas|
|Baker, Walter||Benn, Wedgwood||Charieton, H. C.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Bondfleld, Margaret||Cluse, W. S.|
|Barnes, A.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Compton, Joseph|
|Barr, J.||Brlant, Frank||Connolly, M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Broad, F. A.||Cove, W. G.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lunn, William||Snell, Harry|
|Davies, Rhys John (Wetthoughton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Day, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Dunnico, H.||Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Glllett, George M.||March, S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gosling, Harry||Montague, Frederick||Taylor, R. A.|
|Greenall, T.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murnin, H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Oliver, George Harold||Townend, A. E.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Palln, John Henry||Viant. S. P|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Paling, W.||Wallhead. Richard C.|
|Hardie, George D.||Pethick-Lawronce, F. W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Hayday, Arthur||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Potts, John S.||Welsh. J. C.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Sprlng)||Westwood, J.|
|Hirst, w. (Bradford, South)||Ritson, J.||Whiteley, w.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfleld)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Scrymgeour, E.||Williams, David (Swansea. E.)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sexton, Jamas||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield. Attercllffe)|
|Kennedy, T.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Windsor, Walter|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Shinwell, E.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lansbury, George||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Smillie, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lawson, John James||Smith, Ben (Bermondsay, Rotherhths)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
|Lee, F.||Smith, Rennle (Panlstone)|