§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [28th February], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words,, "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Lamb.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
I suppose there have been few Private Bills in regard to which so many briefs on either side have been circulated to Members of Parliament. I want to-night to follow the example of my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) in not dealing with the points with which anyone who has studied this question must be familiar, and which are incorporated in the briefs which we have read with quite fatiguing reiteration. The case against the Bill was put last night by the hon. Member for Derbyshire Southern (Sir J. Grant). I happened to be sitting between him and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills), a director of a railway, and from the evidences of his desire to speak I feel perfectly confident that, later on, the hon. Member for Ripon will answer every point put.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
At any rate, my hon. and gallant Friend is familiar with the railway case. I am too young ever to have been actually a follower of the red flag. Hon. Members will realise that in 1896 Parliament legislated for the first time against the red flag. We then got rid of the rule that a red flag had to be carried before a 508 motor car. I have done my best to promote motor transport from that time up to now, and it is with a considerable amount of regret that I find myself to-night, after a great deal of consideration, coming down on the side of the railways. May I, in the first place, say a few words to the directors of railways? We generally start life by wishing to be an engine driver on the railway and we end by wishing to be a director of a railway. I cannot help saying this to the railway directors, that if they had had real foresight in this matter, they would have got these powers without any Debate at all 20 years ago. If they had had any vision at all they would have done that. To-night they are simply bolting the door when the horse has been stolen.
I find myself in a very difficult position, because I hold two rather contrary views on this transport question. First of all, I believe that if you are going to give powers to a corporation or other body to trade in transport, you ought to allow them to choose the method by which they trade. You should allow them to change from one system to another if they think it the more economical to do so; and you ought to give them the full range of every means at their disposal. I have been perfectly consistent in this, because I have advocated it time and again, that when you give to municipalities the power to trade in transport by means of trams, you ought certainly to give them powers to trade in omnibuses. Nothing has been so bad for the traffic of London than the fact that the London County Council can only trade in trams. They have viewed everything through tramway spectacles; they have congested parts of London which would never have been congested if they had been allowed to trade in transport, with all the various economic systems fully at their disposal. The same thing prevails in the provinces. We have difficulties now where the traffic authorities are the actual trading corporation in trams. How can they really look at any proposition from the proper point of view, when rivals can come along with whom they cannot compete. It is a perfectly impossible position.
Further, I find myself in this contrary position because I am not a believer in free competition in transport. That is a very serious thing to say on this side of 509 the House. The sacred idea, of free competition is almost one of the tenets of the Conservative party, but free competition in transport leads to very grave difficulties. I would point out the position of London as an illustration. I have spoken with a certain amount of disrespect of directors of railway companies, but there is one gentleman whom I look upon as quite an inspired director, and that is Lord Ashfield. By his enemies, and he has many, he is looked upon as lord of the underworld, by which they mean that he is lord of the Underground. Lord Ashfield had the vision to see that the competition between omnibuses and tubes was not going to be for the benefit of London, and during the War he got power to pool his resources. It is very interesting to see exactly what happened. At the beginning, the tubes saved the omnibuses; they paid out of the general pool towards the omnibuses, and kept them alive. When the situation changed and the omnibuses gave more facilities and more and more came upon the roads, finally, out of the pool, the omnibuses saved the tubes, and to-day the omnibuses pay towards the upkeep of the tubes no less than £500,000 a year. I do not think people realise that if it were not for that pool and the fact that the omnibuses are paying for the tubes, there would not be a tube running in London to-day. That would be the result of free competition upon our roads.
If the House passes these Bills tonight, it means that we are going to launch a very big transport war. Do not make any mistake about that. On the passing of these Bills, a big transport war will start. Is that war going to be finally for the benefit of the community? That is what we have to consider. Roughly, the case is this, that the railways find themselves in an impossible position. They cannot compete freely with hauliers upon the roads, and every single job of carrying that is taken off the railways means that the railways, automatically, have to increase their charges. It seems to me perfectly preposterous that a firm like Lyons who, for economic reasons, are taking their goods from Birmingham to London by road should by that act increase the price of coal in this country; but that is exactly what is happening owing to the provisions of the Railways Act. You have the Railway 510 Rates Tribunal, which fixes the standard rates, and they automatically go up the more the traffic goes on to the roads. Railways are treated in a most unfair way from that point of view. On the other hand, the hauliers of this country are naturally afraid of the big railway companies and their resources and, although we may be assured later in the Debate that it is not true—there will be a rate war, an acute rate war—it may be that they will be absorbed and bought up by the big railway companies. If that should ever happen then there is little chance that we shall get low rates on the roads.
I naturally ask what is the remedy; and I feel inclined to point to the effects of what was a very unpopular Act passed by the Labour Government but supported by hon. Members on this side—the London Traffic Act. That was an Act passed to regulate certain conditions of transport in London. It gave arbitrary powers to the Minister, but, on the whole, I think it has been of very great value to the country. It brought in a very curious piece of legislation, which was that you could limit certain forms of transport or prohibit other lines of transport having regard to the existence of alternative facilities. The Act only applies to-day to London, the area around London, and it does nothing to stop people running omnibuses from outside into London providing that they do not take up fares in the London area. We see every day these omnibuses running from places like Bournemouth and Maidstone, from my own constituency, into London, and there is no restriction on them at all. The Minister has no power to stop them coming in on any road whatsoever. They could flood the whole country and disorganise our London traffic, and it seems to me that in the near future Parliament will have to give very serious attention to the introduction of a Bill making a traffic Act for the whole of England. The position to-day is extremely difficult, with all the local authorities trading organisations on their own, and no method by which you can co-ordinate traffic-running facilities from one district and another.
I have listened to nearly the whole of this Debate and the only argument which really weighs with me seriously against this Bill is the fact that the Prime Minister has told us that he proposes 511 to appoint an inquiry on the transport problem; and the demand that this Bill should be postponed until that inquiry has taken place has, I admit, a certain amount of force. I cannot help saying, however, to the Minister who is responsible for the inquiry that I hope he realises what a tremendous business it will be. An inquiry into the whole traffic conditions and transport facilities in this country is a monumental task, and I do not think one is justified in putting back a Private Bill until such an investigation is over. It may take a year. I would ask the Minister in charge of the Transport Bill whether he is wise to introduce his own Bill until he has had his inquiry into transport generally. It may well be that after that inquiry his Bill will be found to be wanting in several respects.
One other word in connection with this matter. I cannot believe that an inquiry into the transport and traffic facilities can ever really be thorough unless the whole system of taxation is investigated at the same time. The profit and loss of a haulier company largely depends on what taxes it pays, and an inquiry of that sort must go into the question as to whether it is right for a private car to pay more for road damage than it actually does at the moment, or for a public vehicle to pay less than it does at the moment. All these things will have to be gone into. It is not the time to debate this question, but I hold strong views on the question of taxation. I want to warn the Minister of Transport what a monumental task he is undertaking in investigating the whole transport system of the country. It is so big that I do not think it is fair to deny by postponement the railway companies the facilities for which they ask. That would be very unfair, but I would like to say to the railway companies that if in later years the Government of the day, whatever it is, has to make a Traffic Act they should not in the meanwhile build up a goodwill against the Government which the taxpayer should ever have to pay for. Under these circumstances I shall accept this Bill and vote for it.
§ Mr. T. KENNEDY
The House has listened to a most interesting and informative speech, and I am inclined to agree with nine-tenths of the conclusions at which the hon. Member for Rochester 512 (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) arrived. He, I understand, is going to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill now under discussion. I propose, largely on the ground he has covered, to vote against the Bill. No argument, in my opinion, has been more compelling in this respect than his annoucement that he was not in favour of our highways being a field of free competition amongst transport services. I wonder exactly what he meant when he predicted that the passage of this and other Bills meant an inevitable big transport war. That will be a competitive war. He suggested that after a period of intense competition we should reap some final blessing, but I am wondering now exactly what form that ultimate blessing will take. Is it to take the form of a unified co-ordinated nationalised system of inland transport? If I believed it did I might put aside the whole of my objections to the Bill and bear the troubles of this competitive war, which is predicted, in order to reap that final reward. I cannot believe, however, that the situation is quite so easily overcome.
I propose to look at these railway bills as they are drafted and I want to express my disappointment that the Vote which will be taken to-night will be very seriously prejudiced—a feeling shared, I am sure, by hon. Members in all parts of the House—by the fact that whatever we may think of the Bills as they now stand there is a possibility, a probability, that in Committee they will be so changed that every conceivable objection to them in their present form will be removed. I ask the House to look at the Bills as they stand and in the few hours before the Vote is taken to carefully watch what the promoters will say in regard to the possibility of Amendments and concessions before the Bills are allowed to pass through Committee. The promoters of these Bills up to now have been perfectly frank in their avowal of their intentions. It is perfectly right to say that in this matter the consideration of the shareholders' interest is what moves them from beginning to end. That is how I interpret the terms of this Bill. I shall be surprised if any promoter of the Bill will try to convince us that at any time the railway companies have been in the position of philanthropists. They have never been in that position. They have been profit making concerns from their origin, a perfectly logical position.
513 In this matter the railway companies are moved not by any demand on the part of the people for the provisions of these Bills but in defence of the shareholders' interests, with no consideration at all as to how far the demands they put forward are going to meet the convenience of the public or satisfy an important national interest. I am entitled to assume that they represent the railway companies' minimum demands. The first question is: What is the urgency of this matter to-day? We are asked to believe that the finances of the railway companies are in such a state that the passage of these Bills is absolutely essential, is a matter of the extremist urgency. Let us remember what passed in the House yesterday. We were promised by the Government an immediate inquiry into the whole matter of inland transport subject, of course, to the exigencies of public business.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)
The Prime Minister said that in connection with the Road Traffic Bill. He did not say anything like that about the inquiry.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
I stand corrected. He promised us the Road Traffic Bill, subject to the exigencies of public business. He promised us an inquiry into the matter of inland transport, and the admitted need for co-ordination and regulation of the whole question. That inquiry is to take place without undue delay. Some little time must take place before the scope of the inquiry and the machinery can be determined. I think the Prime Minister might have been a little more definite, but the point I want to make is why, pending that inquiry, if it takes place immediately, should consideration of these Bills not be deferred? The whole matter of transport to-day is a difficult and complicated problem. There are varied interests. There are the interests of local authorities, of private contractors and the general over-riding national interest. Now, into this complicated problem we are to introduce a new ingredient of tremendous importance. We are asked to give railway companies powers that will give them in my opinion a position of preference and privilege.
In my opinion in this matter nothing is lost by delay. The difficulties facing 514 the inquiry will be intensified by proceeding with the Bills, and if the companies' claims are as legitimate as they would have us believe, surely they can afford to await this inquiry. If it is only a question of fair play, they can well afford to wait. There are various interests, and complicated interests, to be considered. The House will agree that from the point of view of the inquiry delay in the promotion of the Bills would be an incentive to those in charge of the inquiry to proceed with the greatest expedition possible to a conclusion of the inquiry, in order that the whole situation may be reviewed without prejudice. What is it that the companies are asking? I have said that the Bills contain their minimum demands. The companies are asking now for the same statutory powers on the public highways as they enjoy on the railways. They are asking for powers "to levy such reasonable rates and fares for the conveyance of traffic" as they think fit, subject, of course, to the review of the Railway Rates Tribunal.
They are asking further—this is very significant—for permission to come to working agreements with local authorities, and indeed with all other road transport services. They are seeking powers to establish road services as subsidiary services to their rail services. They ask the House to say on Second Reading that it is expedient that the companies shall have permission to apply their general funds and finances for the general purposes of the Bill. That is stated explicitly and honestly and fairly in the Bill. I would like to suggest that in this matter we should try to rise above the level of mere shareholders' interests. The main provisions of the Bill, which I have defined, are from beginning to end capable of one interpretation, and one interpretation only, and that is that the railway companies are moved from beginning to end by consideration of the pocket interests of the railway shareholders.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
I shall refer to that subject later. Meantime I repeat that this is not really a shareholders' matter. It is not even a railway 515 workers' matter. It is a public Measure, a matter of supreme national importance. It is not a question of balancing the interests of the shareholders and of the private contractors and profit makers who are now on the roads. It is a national matter. What have the promoters said up to now in defence of their claim? They say they want fair play with other users of the public roads. I have been long enough in this House to remember occasions when other transport services' interests have been debated. I recall occasions when the House was engaged in discussing local authorities' enabling Bills. I have seen corporations promoting municipal transport enterprises. I have never seen those who are so zealous in the cause of fair play now stand up to demand fair play for those other transport services. As a matter of fact, this cry of fair play for the railways is the sheerest pretence, as is their claim that they should have the free use of the roads. They have the free use of the roads to-day as railways for the collection and transport of goods and passengers to be carried by rail. That is the legitimate and statutory function of our railway companies.
The railway companies complain that they are to-day subsidising their competitors. They complain—the complaint comes from a strange quarter—that those on this side should primarily regard this as a question of cheap labour as against the well paid labour on the railway systems. For a minute let me look at these pretences, for I cannot call them anything else. What is there in this demand for fair play for the railway companies? I see in them a statutory endowment of inefficiency. That is what they amount to. The railway companies in the changed circumstances of the day will have to put their house in order. When I think of how they have used their powers in the past, I am not impressed by the complaints that they make to-day of unfair competition. What is this complaint about the excessive strain on their resources through the burden of rates? The fact of the matter is, and no defender of these Bills can deny it, that in the payment of rates the companies to-day are in a more favourable position than that of any other comparable industry in 516 the country. That is true. The companies tell us of the aggregate amount of rates they pay. We want to look at the matter, not in the light of the aggregate amount of rates paid as compared with the total amount paid by some other industries; we have to think of the aggregate amount of capital involved, and we have to ask ourselves also how much of these rates paid by the companies are highway rates. The highway rate is the only rate of importance in this business.
I challenge contradiction of the statement that the railway companies to-day do not pay more than £1,500,000 in highway rates. Is that statement disputed? That £1,500,000 I seek to interpret in terms of burden on our railways as a carrying industry. I find that that terrible burden of local rates works out at something like one-fortieth of a penny per ton-mile on all goods carried on our railway system. I have only to say that for the House to see how hollow is the pretence that the railways are suffering from any burden of local rates. Then I come to the question of fair play again. Great play has been made of this sentimental appeal. The companies are asking for free use of the roads with other carriers of goods in road transport. Sir Josiah Stamp, speaking for the railway companies at Leeds, made a statement of interest. I give the House quotations from speeches deliberately made in order that the House may see the real railway point of view. Sir Josiah Stamp said:We desire to retain for the railways all traffic that ought economically to be upon them.That is a nice sentence. See how his colleague. Mr. Dickinson, of Leeds, interprets that statement. He said:From the point of view of the community as a whole the right policy to be pursued is some kind of modus vivendi between the railway services and road transport, but in such co-operation and co-ordination the railway must be the dominant partner and have chief consideration.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
Mr. Dickinson. When I sit down I will give the hon. and gallant Member full particulars—not merely the statement I have quoted, but a more extensive statement. Mr. Dickinson is an authority entitled to speak on railway matters.
§ Major HILLS
On a point of Order. If a quotation is made from a speech delivered outside this House, is not the House entitled to know the name of the speaker?
§ Mr. KENNEDY
I have said that the speech was by Mr. Dickinson, of Leeds, and I have offered to give the hon. and gallant Member not merely the quotation I have read but an extended statement which the hon. and gallant Member can use in this Debate if he thinks it profitable to do so. Meantime I pass on to deal briefly with the question of the companies having free access to the roads for the collection and delivery of railway borne traffic. The companies have that right to-day. The reason why they ask for the free use of the roads in my opinion is simply this: They want a prescriptive, statutory right to get on to the roads to the complete exclusion of all competitors. [Interruption.] That is my interpretation, and I do not ask any hon. Member to agree with it. I come now to the question of labour on the railways. I should be the last to say anything to injure the economic status of the railway workers. I admit that they occupy a position which they have attained, not through the good will of the railway shareholders, but by their own effort and organisation and class protection. If we look at this question of the position of the railways as it relates to the standard of life of the railway workers, we shall come across what seems to me to be something of a difficulty.
The railways as such are suffering to-day through the pressure of competition of road transport. I have never yet come across any body of workers who in such a position of difficulty were so foolish as to make up their minds that their position would be improved by intensifying the competition that endangered their economic status. That is what is 518 going to happen in this case. Now let me refer briefly to the speech made in the Debate last night by the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley). Referring to the question of the interests of local authorities as affected by these Bills, he argued that complete unity had been reached in this matter between the local authorities and the promoters of the Bills. All opposition, he said, had been withdrawn. In order that I may not be misunderstood, I shall quote the hon. Member's words:As late as yesterday, at a meeting of the Municipal Association, there was a vote of only 19 to 18 on the question of whether there should be continued opposition to the Bills—and that, as stated definitely by their leader, not on a question of principle at all, because they agree with the railway companies, but in order that they may have bargaining power."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February. 1928; col. 353, Vol. 214.]I humbly suggest, that the hon. Member for Barrow-on-Furness was misinformed on this matter. I have received to-day a communication from the Municipal Tramways and Transport Association (Incorporated), dated 28th February, which relates to the meeting referred to in the quotation I have just given. This is the opening sentence:At a special meeting of this association, which represents all municipal transport authorities in the country, held yesterday, it was unanimously decided to invite Members of Parliament not to assent to the Second Reading of these Bills, unless the promoters give a definite assurance that they will not use the powers they are asking for, to establish competitive services traversing the same routes as tramways, trolley vehicles and motor omnibuses established under statutory authority.I wait to-night for that assurance. It has not been given to the House up to now. In conclusion, I would state what, in my view, are the considerations which ought to weigh with the House in this matter. The first is that—apart, of course, from coastwise transport—in this matter road transport is the only safeguard against railway domination. From that conclusion there can be no escape. In the second place, is it wise, the condition of our roads being what it is—a condition of chaos and positive danger to the community—that we should give the railway companies the powers which are asked for here, in face of the likelihood that the present difficulties on the roads, even in normal circumstances, will increase rather than diminish. Then 519 there is the overpowering consideration of the conflict of interests that will inevitably arise, as the last speaker pointed out, between the railway companies, fortified by their statutory powers and with enormous capital behind them, on the one hand, and the local authorities, representing the ratepayers, on the other. That conflict will extend to all the other interests now on the road. In many parts of the country the problem now is very acute, and I could give instances to show how acute it is. There is no doubt in my mind that, if the railways get on to the roads, those difficulties will be tremendously increased. There is just one crumb of comfort for me in connection with these proposals. It may be, of course, that the trouble created by these Measures, when they are put into operation, will be so intense and so aggravating to the community, that the community will have to make up its mind that the only way of escape from chaos and difficulty is to have a nationalised transport system. If we want to create chaos in order to have this matter dealt with, instead of dealing with it in a rational, orderly, organised fashion, then let us vote for the Second Reading of these Bills to-night. But I can hardly believe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will vote for these Bills, if they believe that the result of their action will be such as has been predicted from their own side of the House.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I do not share the apprehensions of the last speaker as to the consequences of this Bill, nor do I agree with his statement that what the Bill asks for is to give the railway company the same power on the roads as that which they now exercise on the rails. That is not so. The railway companies have specific monopolistic powers on their rails, which powers are restricted by various Acts of Parliament. All they ask for is the removal of a disability. At the present moment, I suppose, there is not an individual, a company, or a corporation, with the necessary money, debarred from entering into competition on the public roads without going to Parliament. The railway companies alone are debarred from doing so. [HON. MEMBERS: "The local authorities."] The local authorities cannot do it, I agree—that is a specific case—but any 520 ordinary capitalist can do it. A colliery company can do it; Lyons can do it; any of these big companies, with the necessary money, can do it. Why are the railway companies placed under this disability? It is because from the middle of the last century they were regarded as the real monopolisers of transport. They were given monopoly privileges and, to counteract those privileges, they had to subscribe to certain restrictions. Since the monopoly upon which the restrictions are based has gone, why should not the restrictions go also? Do those who oppose the Bill go as far as to say that if road transport grows and if all traffic passes from the rails to the roads, the railway companies are to stand by and see their shareholders ruined, their rails, their plant, and their buildings scrapped, and do nothing to protect themselves? Is that the argument?
All that has been said in this Debate against the Bill has been nothing but the voice of vested interests. Let me say that we ought not to be too merciful if we are to treat with vested interests in a matter of this kind. All progress means treading on somebody's toes. Industrial advance is like a Juggernaut car, crushing every lesser force in the field, and if we are to stay the march of progress in order to protect those interests which have been established in less advanced times, then there will be stagnation. I think those who have listened to this Debate will agree with me when I say that although the arguments against it have been put in many forms, they can be summarised in this way—that if we pass this Bill the railway companies will either monopolise road transport, or, having crippled every other vehicle service there, will re-divert the traffic on to their own rails. That, I think, is the argument in a nutshell. That argument assumes a very sinister design on the part of the railway companies. Anyone listening to the last speaker and to many others would think the railway companies were a small group of rich, unscrupulous, unpatriotic, commercially-minded people. Who are the railway companies? They represent tens of thousands mainly of the middle and poorer classes. The great bulk of individual shareholders in the railway companies have holdings of under £500.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
Does the hon. and learned Member wish to say that the great mass of railway shareholders dictate the policy of the railways?
§ Mr. HARNEY
I think that is a wholly irrelevant observation. I am not dealing with the managers, who dictate the policy of railway companies as of most cempanies; I am dealing with the class of persons who in the long run have a voice and a say in the matter, and who are put forward in this Debate as though they had not a single view that was good for the national prosperity and as if they were not affected by what would affect the prosperity of the country, since they are scattered throughout the land. The whole of this matter was investigated by a Commission which sat in 1921. The Commissioners stated that the suspicions as to the designs of the railway companies were entirely unfounded, and they pointed out that in four of the railway companies they were for same time, though ultra vires, no doubt, engaged in competition on the roads, and they never used their great power and their money to act unfairly or to establish a monopoly.
But suppose we assume that the public and the shareholders scattered throughout the country would allow the management of the railway companies so to abuse their position, have they power to do so under the Bill? If they were either to obtain a monopoly of the roads or to re-divert traffic on to the rails, they could only do so by a process of undercutting and unremunerative charges, and the first thing that occurs to me is this, that it is not enough to clear the roads; they have to keep them clear, and does anyone tell me they could permanently engage in a war of unremunerative rates for the purpose of holding the roads? If, for the purpose of trying to recoup themselves, they raised the rates again, would not all the others rush in? Now I take the specific provisions in the Bill, and I say that if they were, for the purpose of crippling the existing companies engaged in road transport, to lower their charges to an unremunerative price, they would never be able to get back what they thereby lost, either on the rails or on the roads, and I will tell the House why. They could not get it back on the rails, because of Clause 7 of the Bill, which says in effect that the road services 522shall be deemed to form an ancillary or subsidiary business … within the meaning of Sub-section (6) of Section 59 of the Railways Act, 1921,That Act provides for a more or less fixed revenue for railways, and it then provides that as the revenue rose, the charges on the public should fall, and that as the revenue fell, the charges on the public might or might not be raised, dependent upon the view of the Tribunal. If the Tribunal were satisfied that a subsidiary service, whose losses were brought in to lower the revenue, got these losses by an artificial process of undercutting, would not the Tribunal decide that this was one of the circumstances where they could not get back their losses by raising their rates? That was the purpose of that Act. They could not, then, recuperate themselves on the railways. Could they do so on the roads? Clause 3 of this Bill says:The Company may demand … such reasonable fares, rates, and charges as they may think fit … Provided that if any representative body of traders … or if any trader interested in any particular rate or charge … shall consider that rate or charge to be unreasonable, such body or trader may apply to the Railway Rates Tribunal … to reduce the said rates or charges.If any more safeguards are wanted, I suppose they can be added in Committee. The last speaker, with considerable emphasis, told us that there was no question of the railway companies being unfairly treated, but that, on the contrary, everything was in their favour so far. I do not think the question, whether they are fairly or unfairly treated has much to do with it—I think it is purely a, question of what is good for the public—but I would like to point out that if they have £960,000,000 invested in their permanent way, stations, and so on, the interest on which may be put at £46,000,000 a year, and another £24,000,000 in upkeep, which is about £70,000,000 a year, it is all moonshine to say that motor cars and omnibuses, that have only to pay for their garages, have anything like that charge to meet. In that way, of course, the railway companies are at a great disadvantage, but I claim that, assuming that they cannot act unfairly by using their greater powers to drive all the other companies off the road and then lift their fares against the public, the passing of this Bill would bring about great benefits. 523 The first is this: It was mentioned by a speaker last night that there were heavy boilers drawn over the roads, which are not fit to bear them. Why? Because the railway rates are so high that it is cheaper to draw them along the roads.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I am speaking against time. It is because the railway rates have soared on account of the fact that you have diverted from the railways all that light and more remunerative traffic, and you have left them the burden of carrying these heavy things, like coal, iron, steel, machinery, and so on; and, of course, since they have no other way of paying themselves, they must lift the freights on these things. Nothing more injurious to the prosperity of the country could happen. We are all dependent on transport. Transport and rates are twin sisters in getting our export markets. We want to lessen the transport on our basic industries, such as coal, iron, and so on, which are the very things which are charged at a high rate now, because the railway companies have had withdrawn from them all their remunerative traffic. Your boiler would not be carried by road, but where it should be carried, I suggest, if you allowed this Bill to pass, and the companies could make their profits either by keeping the lighter traffic on the roads or by getting some of the traffic, such as the boilers, brought back on to the rails. You would then have cheaper road traffic, and you would also have cheaper rail traffic, because the profits of the roads would be brought into account in the railway revenue, and the raising of the railway revenue would compel them, by virtue of the Act of 1921, to lower their rates. Here we have a Bill that simply asks for the removal of a disability which, if removed, would allow the railway companies the opportunity of combining the two services in a way that would make for the most efficient and economic transport. The public, in the long run, must be the gainers. The railway companies could not take advantage of the right that would be given by this Bill to mulct the public, even if they were disposed to, 524 because there is already an Act on the Statute Book that prevents them from doing it.
§ Sir B. PETO
I must ask to be excused from replying to the ethical arguments with which the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) commenced his speech, or the flights of fancy into the realms of prophecy in which he indulged. I want to deal with the two basic questions which are before the House. This is the question of the Second Reading of this Bill. The right hon. Member for Wells (Sir R. Sanders) said in the Debate yesterday:It is a very strong thing for the House to throw out a private Bill of this sort on Second Reading. When the House proposes to do such a thing the burden of proof lies upon the objector.''—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 28th February, 1928; col. 342, Vol. 211]I want to put before the House, sentence by sentence, some of those proofs which the right hon. Gentleman thinks should be put forward by those who support the Amendment which would result in throwing out the Bill. First, this is not a question of any ordinary private Bill; it is a question which is concerned with a fundamental matter of public and national interest. Secondly, it is a question of policy which forms a basis of all the statutory powers under which the railway companies operate. Thirdly, in this Bill, by Clause 2, which is practically the whole Bill, they ask for powers that have always been refused by this House; more than that, powers that were definitely refused by the Majority Report of the Committee on Roads (Conveyance of Goods by Railway Companies) in 1921. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields referred to something that was contained in that Report. I will give two definite statements from it. It says:The railway companies should have no further statutory powers in connection with direct road motor transport.The Report further states:The competition between road transport and rail transport is healthy and in the interests of the public.That is the last Report this House has before it dealing with the subject, and I think, differing from my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells, that it would be a very strong thing for this House to throw out the findings of an authoritative Committee that sat on this very subject, and to decide, after two 525 evenings' debate, on a question of this kind which ought to be deferred until we have the Report of the Committees which was indicated by the Prime Minister yesterday in answer to a question. There is a second reason. The powers asked for in Clause 2 have been considered, not only by the representatives of the great basic industry of agriculture, but by industries of all kinds up and down the country, and I have not received a scintilla of opinion from any one of them in favour of the Second Reading of this Bill. On the contrary, the National Farmers' Union, who, if anybody, can represent agriculture, formed a definite opinion on this subject; and I find that the Municipal Tramway and Transport Association Incorporated is also in opposition to the powers asked for by the railway companies. They say they consider that the granting of them would imperil £83,000,000 of public money invested in the transport facilities, mainly by the working-classes. With regard to the Farmers' Union, I would read a letter, dated to-day, which reached me from the chairman of that body. He says:At our interview with representatives of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company last week we repeated the statement which we made to the Unionist Agriculture Committee of the House, namely, that if it be true that the cheapest possible form of transport can only be obtained and permanently maintained by the concession of the companies' demand, the farmers are perfectly willing to withdraw their opposition to the Bill. At our interview with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company's representative not one shred of evidence was offered in support of the suggestion that cheaper rates would result from the concession of their demand, and, to do them justice, the railway company's representative never advanced the claim. Such being the case, you will quite understand that we feel as strongly about the matter as ever, and hope our friends in the House of Commons will support the Amendment.That, at any rate, is up-to-date; it was written and conveyed to me by hand to-day. I would sum up the general conclusion to which these industrial bodies and this agricultural organisation have come. We have heard a great deal about co-ordination, and it is the principal claim, apart from the matter of ethics and the appeals to fair play of which so much use is made by the supporters of the Bill. Co-ordination is said to be 526 the thing. I have come to the conclusion—and I find it is the conclusion embodied in all the protests which have reached me—that co-ordination means, if it means anything, the elimination of competition. If it does not mean the elimination of competition, it is worth nothing to the railway companies. I would like to have dealt with the speech of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London (Mr. E. C. Grenfell), but I would only say this in passing, that he put forward as one of his principal arguments the question which has been pretty well thrashed out: Why should not the railway companies freely use the roads? I will give my answer to that in slightly different words from those of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. T. Kennedy). The railways have a free use of the roads for the purpose of bringing goods to feed their lines, and therefore, for the purpose of their industry, and that is the only industrial use to which any industry of this country puts the roads. They use the roads to bring goods to their works and to take them away, and so do the railway companies now, who have always been confined to that use and have not been allowed to embark on any competitive business, which is quite outside their statutory powers. But there is at least one consideration which I think stronger than any of those I have put before the House. Powers have not only been refused by the 1921 Committee, but yesterday, at Question Time, the Prime Minister promised a further inquiry. He said:As to a general inquiry into the need for better regulation of road traffic and the possibility of greater co-ordination of our internal means of transport, the Government have it in comtemplation to institute without undue delay an investigation into this subject."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1928; col. 225, Vol. 214.]The whole argument for passing this Bill to-night is that the railway companies will be able to co-ordinate, that they will be able to undertake the co-ordination of our internal land transport. In face of the fact that while this Bill is before the House we are advised by the Leader of the House that he proposes to set up a fresh inquiry into this subject, it would really be more appropriate if the Bill were either withdrawn; if it were passed at all, it should not be 527 passed until it has been introduced on some more appropriate occasion when the House has been informed of the findings of this Committee set up in 1928 to consider the present position of road transport in the country and its coordination in relation to every other industry and interest as well as that of the railway companies. Therefore I shall oppose this Bill. I do not suppose that of itself that is of very great importance, but I do venture to hope that I have put before the House some simple and cogent reasons why the House should not give this Measure a Second Reading, reasons which have no relation to prophecies about the future but are concerned with the actual facts of the day.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Major GLYN
The speech to which we have just listened from the hon. Baronet representing the Barnstaple Division (Sir B. Peto) was not, from its very start, of a character which led me to suppose that he proposed to vote for us. He made some play with a statement he read from the National Farmers' Union to say that in spite of several interviews they found themselves unable to support this Bill. Those of us who sit for agricultural constituencies regret that decision. because we believe, and are firmly convinced, that it is only by this Bill that we can bring down rates and fares, which certainly affect agriculture as much as any other industry. If we do not get this Bill there is a very great likelihood that by the very Act passed by this House, the House, and the agricultural Members in it, will be responsible for agricultural traffic rates going up, and then I should like to know what hon. Members will say to their constituents? I have received this afternoon a letter from the Rural District Councils' Association which is, to some extent, a counterblast to the letter from the National Farmers' Union. They say:I beg to inform you that my Parliamentary and General Purposes Committee considered the terms of the above Bills at their meeting to-day, and they decided to approve of the said Bills, subject to the inclusion in the Bills of such safeguards as are necessary to protect the interests of all local authorities. My Committee desire to bring to your notice the fact that the rural councils of England and Wales are responsible 528 for more than three-fourths of the highways of the country and are vitally interested in this matter.Let us look at this matter from the broad point of view. When the railways were instituted more than 100 years ago, as the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) said just now, they exercised a monopoly. If the House will forgive me for a personal statement, my grandfather was the first chairman of the old London and Birmingham Railway, which afterwards became the London and North Western Railway. Family records show that he was looked on with the utmost suspicion, and regarded as a regular monster and blackguard for thinking of establishing railways in this country. The stage coach was supposed to be the only means a gentleman should use in moving about the country. Parliament recognised that there was a monopoly there, and, therefore, Parliament said, "We will control and protect the public interests in this matter." Who has got the monopoly to-day? Not the railways, forsooth, but the road hauliers, and all the fuss we are having now arises from the fact that they very much dislike any interference with their monopoly.
Let us be perfectly clear in this matter. Is Parliament prepared to turn down these Bills to-night with the idea that it is doing something in the national interest? What Parliament will do if it rejects these Bills is to protect a monopoly which was built up very largely when the railways were not controlled by their present managements, but were under the control—I regret to say it to hon. Members opposite—of a sort of dead hand of Government. The dead hand of Government was so much a dead hand that it allowed those outside undertakers to spread their net on the roads of the country. I notice that last night the hon. Baronet for South Derby (Sir J. Grant) stated that there were two industries concerned here, and remarked, "Let the railways leave our industry alone." I think that is a most extraordinary statement, because if we are going to look upon transportation as transportation, what right have we in this House, or anywhere else, to put it into two compartments, and to say, "One industry goes on rails and another industry goes on wheels on the roads?" In this Bill we are asking for no more 529 and no less than the right which every railway company possesses in every one of our Dominions and in every other great country in the world. Every other country allows railways to operate these means of transportation to assist trade and industry.
We give lip service to a desire to see trade and industry prosper in this country, but if we are going to do that we must assist the means of transportation, and are we better judges than the managers of the railways as to what steps should be taken to make the railways efficient? With all respect to this House, I often wonder how many millions of pounds have been lost through Parliament exercising its power of restriction and holding back the sane progress of the railways. Large sums of money have been spent to promote Bills which have been turned down, and not only is that money lost, but the fact of turning down the schemes submitted has been a very serious factor in the development of transportation in this country. None the less it is right and proper—the railways do not complain—that Parliament should retain its full control over the business of the railways. All we say is that Parliament ought not to look upon a railway company every time it comes to this House as a sort of cross between a highwayman and a gentleman who wishes to bring about the disruption of this country. The railways of this country are essential to it, we cannot do without them, and when the railways ask for these powers they ought to be given the benefit of the doubt. Let us recognise the fact that it will go down in history that this is the first great industry in which the management, the men, the shareholders and everybody else concerned are united in support of their industry, which is a public utility undertaking. If it were not a public utility service we could not expect to get the support we have received from all grades in the railway world. It is their support which will make it possible for us to get this decision to-night.
May I say one word about the question of a monopoly. Time is short, and I must be brief. We have been told extraordinary things about this question of monopoly. First of all we believe that the terms of the Bill are sufficient to prevent the railways undertaking any 530 competition or doing anything which will have the effect of creating a monopoly. Let me put it from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence. I suppose everyone will admit that if you are going to try to run the vehicles of your rivals off the road you must at least have an equal number of vehicles to your rivals. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, nearly as many, let us say 75 per cent. You must have approximately the same number of vehicles, or otherwise you could not hope to run them off the road.
What are the figures? I do not say these figures are absolutely accurate, and they are bound to be only approximate owing to depreciation and other causes. I asked the officials at Euston to get out particulars, as far as they could, of the number of commercial and passenger vehicles, and make a rough general estimate as to their approximate value. According to their estimates, in 1922, there were 162,425 commercial vehicles of an approximate value of £60,000,000. There were 29,000 passenger vehicles, excluding taxi-cabs, the estimated total value of which was £86,000,000. I will not trouble the House with the figures for the years between 1922 and 1927, but last year there was an estimated increase from 162,425 vehicles to 284,931, with an approximate value of £105,000,000. Passenger vehicles reached an approximate value of £29,000,000, making a total on the roads to-day of £134,000,000 value of rolling stock. Can the railway companies reach that number of vehicles or spend that amount of money, even if they were to drive the omnibus companies off the roads? All these pictures which have been drawn of intense competition leave out of account the fact that there is nothing to-day to prevent anybody going on the roads operating vehicles without restrictions as to hours or wages, and running in competition not only with the railways, but with other statutory bodies, such as municipalities or anything else.
I would like to mention two facts. We listened last night to a most able and interesting speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). No matter upon which side of the House we sit we all realise that when the right hon. Gentleman speaks he speaks with knowledge, and in such a way that he is bound to bring great force to any case which he 531 puts forward. The right hon. Gentleman put directly to the House one or two points, and I have been asked to-day if I would make a statement to the House which would give some reply to the points which he made. With the permission of the House, I would like to read a considered statement.
A desire was expressed that definite assurances should be given by the railway companies that Clause 7 of this Bill did fully embody the intentions of Parliament as expressed in Sections 58 and 59, Sub-sections (4) and (6) of the Railway Act of 1921. I am authorised to say that the legal advisers of the railway companies are of opinion that the Clause, as drawn, is adequate for that purpose, but that if in the Committee stage it can be shown that the drafting of the Clause can be improved to make its intention clearer, the railway companies will put no obstacle in the way.
Another point of great substance is the accusation that the railway companies might be induced to withdraw certain services. In order to show that there is no attempt to create a monopoly, and to emphasise the fact that the companies want to continue their obligations to the State, they are prepared at the proper time to consider a Clause on the following lines: They will agree not to withdraw any regular services other than experimental of road vehicles without giving some form of public notice to enable such persons objecting to such withdrawal to lodge an objection with the Minister of Transport who shall have the power to order the continuance of such services in a proper way if he thinks fit. This is put forward as an additional safeguard, and if Clause 7 is watertight, if the power imposed on the tribunal is to prevent undercutting on the one hand, or spending too much of the shareholders' money on the other hand, and also that services once started shall be retained, that surely is a proof that the railway companies will make full use of their services and do absolutely nothing except improve inland communications.
May I say that I have done my level best to find out what is the legal effect of the Bill, and it is as was said by an eminent lawyer last night in this House. Finally, the railway companies do not come to Parliament to seek any privileged 532 position by this Bill. They only ask that there shall be equality of treatment with the other road transport undertakings. They welcome the statement that the Government intend, during the life of this Parliament, by proceeding with the Road Traffic Bill to revise general legislation and review all local Acts provided that they, the railway companies, have the same rights and powers as any other road users. The provisions of the Act of 1921 and this Bill fully protect the public including road hauliers and railway shareholders. That is the summary of what are the intentions of the promoters of the Bill.
I know there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak, and I will only say, in conclusion, that I believe most of the points which are exercising the minds of hon. Members in various parts of the House can be dealt with in Committee. It is our business on the Second Reading to recognise the great responsibility of Parliament in the control it has over these great public utilities, and when they come to Parliament asking for these powers it is the business of Parliament to consider, in the first place, the public interest. [An HON. MEMBER: "And municipalities!"] Yes, and municipalities, and I take it that municipalities are included in the term "public interest." I am not in a position to answer those questions at the moment, but, if you have these great undertakings and this responsibility towards them, I do think it is a matter of real importance to give a Second Reading by a large majority, because we believe that by a large majority we shall encourage a new era of transportation which will take into account modern inventions, and allow every possible means of assisting trade and industry, and attain that end which in the view of experts can be best attained by this Bill.
§ Mr. MARCH
Last week the House was very much concerned in debating the question of the extra number of vehicles coming on the road, and the very large increase in the number of accidents. I believe that everyone in the House expressed their sympathy in regard to the chaotic state of the roads of London and outer London. We have heard about the extra number of vehicles that are continually coming on to the roads, and I desire to support the Amendment which 533 proposes that the question of granting the railway companies these powers should be postponed until after an inquiry has been held. I believe it to be essential that an inquiry should be held into the whole traffic position, because of the vast numbers of accidents and deaths that are continually occurring. Further, our roads are not yet, by a long way, prepared to receive heavier traffic; a lot remains to be done before the roads can accept a larger quantity of traffic. I maintain, representing, as I do, a Division in which there are five railway goods depots and five docks, and where a tremendous amount of work is done from the docks to the railways and from the railways to the docks, that, if the railway companies were so much concerned in getting more traffic, they could get more traffic by themselves taking the goods to and from the docks, instead of engaging, as they do, contractors to do that work. Therefore, it cannot be said that they are not in competition with the contractors, because they go on engaging contractors to do a large amount of work which they are not prepared to do themselves, and, as one of my hon. Friends reminds me, sweated work at that. There are also in my Division three large coal depots which are used by the railway companies. We have to put up with all the inconvenience of shunting and of engines puffing about, and then we find that the railway companies are not even utilising the rails to the extent that they might.
When the question of the co-ordination of the railways was being discussed in this House, it was said that, if the railway companies were united, better facilities would be given for passengers and also for goods traffic, that there would be co-ordination of management, and better consideration for the public generally. Since the co-ordination has taken place, the railway companies in my district have stopped two of the passenger lines. For many years, on one of these lines, there used to be trains every quarter of an hour, but that has been abolished entirely. On another junction line, from Millwall to North Greenwich, the trains used to run every 20 minutes, but that also has been abolished entirely. On another railway in the district., from Poplar to Broad Street, there was for 534 many years a quarter-hour service, but now only a skeleton service is run. I went there the other day to ask for a ticket to Broad Street, and one of the porters said to me, "You know, Sir, you will have to wait an hour and a quarter for a train." I said, "Is that all" And then they wonder at losing passenger traffic.
The old line from Fenchurch Street to Blackwall was the first line to run from Fenchurch Street into Poplar, and at that time, some 50 odd years ago, it used to be run by an endless chain. Nothing has been done to improve it except to put on steam engines, and then they brought all the old engines and carriages they could find from other parts of the railway. If they had been inclined to cater for passengers—and they used to have a fairly heavy traffic—they could have electrified that piece of line, but they did not do so; they turned the people off on to the omnibuses and trams, and people had to get to and from the City in the best way they could. Now the company wants powers to run omnibuses to pick up those passengers again. If they do that, they will make the condition of the streets of London, especially the Commercial Road, more chaotic than it is at present. I maintain that the railway companies have not utilised the powers that they have had. They have been dispensing with their rolling stock and dispensing with their men on that line, and putting the passengers to great incon venience. Therefore on behalf of the division which I have the honour to represent in this House, I strongly oppose the giving to the railway companies of the privilege of putting more vehicles on the roads, and cutting out the smaller people who have been doing that work for many years in the absence of the railway companies.
Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL
I ask myself a preliminary question in contemplating this Bill. It is this: If the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, in promoting its original Bill, had asked for these powers, would Parliament have granted them? I know that the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, in promoting its Bill, did ask for these powers, and these powers were granted. I understand that three other railway companies, in promoting 535 their Bills, asked for these powers,, and they were granted. Consequently, I imagine that, if the London, Midland and Scottish, or the companies that compose it, had asked for these powers, these powers would have been granted. What has occurred, since the railway companies obtained their Bills, to cause us any hesitation in granting to them to-day powers which would have been granted to them had they asked for them at the beginning? All that has occurred is that there has been a change of habit, that there have been new inventions, and that, combining the change of habit and the new inventions, certain individuals and financial companies have exercised powers and built up vested interests while the railway companies were under the inhibition of their existing powers. The hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Sir J. Grant) asked last night, "Why does not the railway company stick to its job?" What is the job of the railway company? It is not to run engines; it is to carry traffic. The purpose of a railway company is to carry goods and passengers. I agree that in its initial stage it was to carry goods and passengers on rails, because there was no other invention for carrying them on the roads at that time. [An HON. MEMBER: "The stage coach!"]
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Is not the hon. Member aware that there were steam locomotives on the roads, and that the railway companies got powers to forbid them?
And the opposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. T. Kennedy) is just on the exact lines of the opposition of the stage coach proprietors to the railways. There are four railway companies which already have these powers. They have exercised these powers, and there has been no complaint from anyone that they have cut prices, or tried to drive other people off the roads. They have exercised their powers in exactly the same way, only in very different circumstances, as the individual proprietors of passenger omnibuses and the haulage companies. But the change of habit has made a big difference. I no longer contemplate the possibility of people travelling short distances from station to station, or sending small loads from 536 station to station. People are now going to travel short. distances from point to point and send small loads from yard to yard. Therefore, we must take it that, as far as the railway companies are concerned, whatever alterations they may be able to make in the way of increased efficiency will not get back that traffic. But, on the other hand, as I see it—and I speak without expert knowledge—I cannot see that the railway companies can continue to exist with only long-distance traffic and heavy haulage traffic. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Derbyshire lives at Nairn. I know it well, and I envy him his residence, but no railway company could ever exist by carrying long-distance passengers from London or from Glasgow to Nairn. They must have intermediate traffic, or they must have something to supplement their resources from the long distance and heavy traffic if they are to retain the long distance and heavy traffic at a reasonable rate of prices, and who, I ask my Friends on this side of the House, of all the individuals and companies that are running road traffic, are more entitled to our consideration in the matter of road traffic than the railway companies?
The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy chaffed some of his friends because they look upon this from a social as well as an economic aspect. There is a very big social aspect. There are 700,000 men employed on the railways. They have in their terms of employment, in their wages, their hours, their continuous employment, their national agreements, their co-ordination of proprietors and employés, everything for which any Member of this House stands when he goes before his constituents. They have, in their terms of employment and in their standard of life, everything that we all say to our constituents we want to obtain for everybody, and those 700,000 men represent 2,000,000 of the inhabitants of this country. Let us look at the people who have a privilege that some hon. Members would deny to the railway companies. We speak best from facts. There is a very prominent route from Glasgow. One of the ears is driven by a boy of 17 who works from 6.35 in the morning till midnight seven days a week for 30s. Another boy of 19 works from 11 at night till 9.0 at the morning, conducts an omnibus frequently during the day after he has 537 finished his night's work, goes straight on to night duty and gets 30s. a week. I intimated to the company a year ago that I would use this if ever an opportunity arose. On Friday night at 11 o'clock, this youth went on duty and worked through the night in the office. He carried on in the office on the Saturday, worked in the office on Saturday night and on Sunday morning he was sent for a long tour with a char-a-bane party, came back to the office and worked till nine o'clock on Monday morning—58 hours at one stretch—with no increase in his wage of 30s. a week. Is this House going to say people can carry on like that without any restriction while the great railway companies, making national agreements, have higher wages, regular hours, superannuation, continuous employment and everything we think desirable, are to be prohibited from competing with them? [Interruption.] I know my friends do not like this.
Let me take it from another aspect. The passenger is a very important element when we are considering the question of transport. I could give the House numerous cases within my own experience of accidents happening to chars-a-bancs and omnibuses and claims for damages, but the omnibus is on the hire-purchase system and is not insured and you get nothing. A great accident happened in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. [Interruption.] There were no lawyers' fees. That is not a proper remark, and the next time the hon. Member desires to refer to my profession, he will please do it outside and not in this House.
§ Mr. KENNEDY
The remark I made was in my judgment a perfectly orderly and proper remark and was not intended, as the hon. Member perfectly well knows, to apply to himself in any sense. If he chooses to apply it to himself personally, of course, he is perfectly entitled to do so.
The accident occurred on 22nd April, 1927, and eight passengers were seriously injured. Application was made for reparation. It was found the bus was on the hire purchase system. The proprietor disappeared, there was no insurance and no one received a penny. Here is a 538 judgment for £500 passed against a substantial company running along the side of the Clyde. The company held eight buses on the hire purchase system. They sold the lot for over £1,000 and went into liquidation. The injured passengers and their bereaved relatives obtained nothing. We in this House must have a care, when dealing with transport, for the interest of the passengers and if people are to be allowed, unrestricted, to carry passengers without giving them any guarantee or insurance or reparation for damage, what is the objection to a great concern like the London, Midland and Scottish Company, entering into competition with them if it is possible, when we know that every passenger travels with a security that if there is an injury, he will be compensated and if there is a death the bereaved relatives will be amply compensated? These are reasons that weigh very heavily with me. I have heard a lot of discussion from people who are interested—trade union representatives, railway representatives and others. I have no interest except the interest of the citizens as a whole in their capacity as employés, passengers and manufacturers, and I ask the House to support. the Measure, which I think is in every sense just.
§ Sir PATRICK FORD
I am afraid that I have not been very greatly impressed by the hon. Member who spoke last. He made a very good point with regard to the advisability of taking some steps to see that reasonable hours are conceded to the workers who are doing road transport not under railway auspices. As the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) said last night, it is also a thing that ought to be considered that all those who drive railway engines have to undergo recurring trials to see that they are physically fit in eyesight and everything else. I agree that in this great problem of transport by road similar regulations should be made to apply to those who are carrying on that work. There is no very great difficulty why that should not be done, but this seems to me an entirely wrong way to set about it. It is entirely wrong, too, for the railway directors, shareholders, and employés to say, "Look at the rates we have to pay and look how that is subsidising our competitors." The hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Sir J. Grant) 539 produced figures last night which, to my mind, rather tended to show that this over-rating of railways was not an actual fact. Assuming it is, surely the way to deal with that is by some legislation to deal with the rates on the railways and not be giving them a monopoly on the roads, because I believe that that would be the result, though it is not perhaps the intention of the promoters, of this Bills, Last night one of those supporting the Bill, the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Mitchell Banks), gave us the following quotation:It has been laid down by a great British statesman that our constitution knows nothing of mandates and delegates. While the man who represents any particular constituenecy ought to do his best for his constituents, he ought first to think of the interests of the country at large, and if these are not reconcilable with the interests of his constituents then the latter must take second place."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1928; col. 325, Vol. 214.]He went on to say that he was in the fortunate position of being able to gratify his railway constituents by supporting the Bill. I am not quite so fortunate, because, led by their directors to believe that this is in their real interests, a great many of my constituents who are railway shareholders and railway workers are very much in favour of this Bill. On the other hand, the constituency I represent includes a great many interests, and all the other interests outside the railways have asked me to contest this Bill. I may add, perfectly frankly—as some suggestion about voting has been bandied about and I regret that it has been done—that I have no direct interest either in railways or in transport companies, but I try to look at the matter from the point of view of the man in the street. We have to regard this from the point of view of what is going to be the result to the whole of the people of this country. I understand the Minister of Transport gives his blessing to this Bill. I do not for a moment question his superior judgment on matters of the regulation of transport and so on, but, if he will pardon me saying so, I would suggest that that immediate Departmental outlook has perhaps clouded his view as to what the ultimate result of a Measure like this may be. I would remind the House, although it has been referred to 540 before, that the majority of the Committee, set up in 1921, in the Report on the Conveyance of Goods by Railway Companies stated quite definitely that railway companies should have no further statutory powers in connection with direct road motor transport because competition between road transport and rail transport is in the interests of the country.
When we come to look at these conflicting views, I think the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has taken the wise course. He always makes a speech full of profound and lucid thought with remarkable lucidity of expression. He comes down to the fundamentals of things, and f followed his speech last night with great interest, but what did it amount to in the end? It was an appeal that, before we deal with this in a piecemeal way, we should have a comprehensive inquiry into the whole problem of transport. My objection to giving this Bill a Second Reading is that we are taking it far too soon. I do not believe in these long delays or in setting up Royal or other Commissions if you are simply going to sidetrack the matter or put it in a pigeon hole from which it may never be taken out. As the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh pointed out, we have a mass of material already, and an additional Committee put on to consider it would report in a short time, and it would then be right to take these very serious steps. As he pointed out, whatever side of the House we sit on, whatever political views we take, whatever economic views we take—and we must do each other the justice of saying that our views are honest and that we are working in the interests of the community as a whole—we have arrived at a very difficult problem with regard to the whole of the land transport of this country whether by rail, road, canal, river or otherwise. It is not wise for this House to give a Second Reading to a Measure which deals haphazardly with a very vast subject of this kind.
I do not wish to detain the House, but I think a person who has got no particular interest in the question and who represents a constituency with conflicting views should be entitled to say what seems to him to be common sense in these matters. There has been a certain 541 amount of political feeling introduced into this Debate, which I regret. For instance, last night the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness referred to a remark made by the Seconder of the Amendment for the rejection of this Bill, who talked of an unholy alliance between capital and labour on this subject. I would not put it quite in that way, but I would point out that undoubtedly the railways in this country are sheltered industries. No foreign competition can touch them, because you cannot run foreign railways on British soil, and there is no doubt that, wherever you have such a protection as that, there is a danger, both for shareholders, directors, and employées, to live in a fool's paradise and think that they can to a certain extent hold the rest of the community up to ransom. I am not attacking the standard of living of the railway workers at all or the dividends of the shareholders, but l am suggesting that, if you remove the road competition as well, you are going to have inefficiency of management and a happy family party who are going to ladle out an undue dose of the soup to their friends while the rest of the community may starve. That is not a wholesome state of affairs at all.
We have had railway directors speaking to us to-night, most admirable, most honourable and gallant men, but they seem to have suggested that all wisdom and all virtue began and ended in the railway directors. I do not see it, and I have never seen it. I can point to what has been done by very active, not even municipal, private road companies who did not, as the hon. Member opposite suggested, pay men 30s. a week in order to work 50 hours a day at a stretch. It is an exaggeration, but it is one that almost came to my mind. I cannot imagine a man going on working 50 hours on end and being able to do any work at all. I will accept his figures, but what I want to point out is that, though that may take place in such unfortunate constituencies as he is unfortunate enough to represent, yet in the East of Scotland, where we are purely Scottish and have no alien blood, nothing of the kind takes place. We have there the Scottish Motor Transport Company—again I reiterate that I have no financial interest in it at all—and I have watched it with some interest, because I have benefited as a passenger by it, and I have known the 542 people of the locality to benefit by it Until that came into existence the railway companies did not give the consideration to the public that they are now willing to give.
It is entirely wrong to say that any body of privileged men, shareholders, directors and employés, can go on and force up what they call the standard of living at the expense of the public. It cannot be done. What happens, especially in a basic industry, is that if you simply insist on good dividends, good wages, good directors' fees, you may hold up the nation to ransom for a little while. But what are you doing? You are making the whole cost of transport dearer. Your railway porter's wife pays more for a pound of tea because there is more freight on it. That is the simplest and most direct way to put it, and it is perfectly true. What is more, you put a stranglehold on the other basic industries of the country—the iron and steel trades and the others—and you make it more difficult for them to compete. Some of them are crushed out, and there are fewer industries and individuals able to bear the taxation in relief of unemployment and distress, and yet there is more taxation put upon them.
I am told that it is perfect nonsense to talk about the railway companies with this power under this Measure being able to strangle competition, because the Tribunal will see to it that if they are running their road transport at a loss they will have to drop it. They need not attempt to run it at a loss at all, but they can run it at a narrow margin of profit. Supposing you and I were running a business and you had another large business and you could take the risk of running at a small margin of profit. You might do that. I, being dependent upon it for my livelihood and for the livelihood of my family might just make it pay, but you by under-cutting could take away part of my trade, which would make all the difference between my being able to carry on and not being able to do so. I maintain in the interests of the railway companies that it is very doubtful if they will be able to embark upon this thing at all. The state of the roads to-day is such that the roads will not take much more heavy transport. I am sure the Minister of Transport is perfectly aware of that. The roads were 543 not built for it and the enormous expenditure necessary in order to make them take it will not be of benefit to this country. Therefore, either the railway companies in order to crush out competition are going to congest the roads to a dangerous extent or else they are going to risk and lose shareholders' and employers' money on it.
The real remedy, as the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Sir J. Grant) pointed out last night, is not to try and grab your opponents' weapons in competition of this kind but to get a more skilful use of your own. The gas companies did not make any incursion into the field of the electrical companies, but improved their own methods and persuaded the public to take advantage of their services. So should the experts of the railway companies concentrate on improving railway transport and leave it to the others who represent the general public to carry out the great work of road transport. I hope the House will excuse me from further developing these ideas. It is for all these reasons, to give fair play to the railway companies, directors, shareholders and employés, to give fair play to their competitors, and, above all, to give fair play to the nation, that I say: Reject this Measure, at least until we have had this inquiry of a comprehensive character to which the Government are more or less pledged.
§ Sir WALTER RAINE
I think it is necessary in a Debate of the seriousness of that which we are having to-night that all points of view, or as many as possible, should be put before the House in order that Members may, if possible, arrive at a true perspective of the case. I wish, very briefly, to put before the House the view of the chambers of commerce of this country which are associated and federated and represent a membership of 50,000 traders of all descriptions. They recognise that it is a very serious matter for the commercial community of this country. They have given very careful consideration indeed to the Bill, and they are in favour of the principles of it. They say that, if the powers are granted, proper safeguards should be given not only to the traders, but to the public and to the municipal authorities. It is well known 544 that the whole transport of this country has considerably changed during the past few years to the serious detriment of the railway companies. The railway companies have had a competitor, and, while the railway companies' costs have been going up, this competitor, namely, the road haulier, has been getting an advantage from the Road Fund. It is true that he has made a certain contribution to the Road Fund, but I think that if you examine the figures you will find that the ratepayer has, after all, paid the larger sum. I think I am correct in saying that during the past 15 or 17 years the amount of money expended on the roads and bridges of this country is something like £500,000,000, and that I am within the mark when I say that two-thirds of that sum has been paid by the ratepayers. In fact, if I may put it in another way, I think that the Road Fund has induced many local authorities to spend money at the expense of the ratepayers. Speaking as one with considerable municipal experience, I can remember many occasions on the local council, when, listening to the views of some enthusiasts in respect of a particular scheme, we have been carried away by the statements "Oh, the Government pays 50, 60 or 70 per cent.," and have awakened later wiser but sadder men.
The Chambers of Commerce have had an opportunity of meeting the railway directors, or some of them, and they have given a definite assurance on some various points which I will very briefly recite. The profits, if any, on this road traffic have to be added to the standard railway revenue and losses have not to be met by increasing railway rates. In other words, if there are any losses, the shareholders have to bear them. They do not intend to manufacture vehicles, and wherever they own interests in another road transport company it shall be put on the same footing as the road service of the railway company itself. We advocate that these Bills should be given a Second Reading, because we are very much afraid that if they do not get a Second Reading the railway companies, in view of the increased competition which they are having to meet, will be obliged, as has been explained, to put up their railway charges on the further diminished traffic. The trade of this country is already bearing an increased 545 railway cost for a reason which is known to the House. I candidly say that the trade of this country cannot stand any more expense. The Chambers of Commerce likewise favour these Measures being dealt with by a Joint Committee. If the House give a Second Reading to this Bill and to the remaining railway Bills, these various points, with the assurance which the railway companies have given not only to the Chambers of Commerce but to other bodies, might with safety be dealt with in detail in Committee.
There is one further point, and that is the question of the proposed inquiry. We think that the matter is too urgent for the railway companies to be held up while the official inquiry takes place. The Chambers of Commerce suggest and urge that Parliament should grant these powers to the railway companies, subject to any conditions that may have to be imposed as a result of the inquiry. Then, the inquiry could take place and the matter could be, once for all, investigated. I do not wish to boast about the Chambers of Commerce, but I would point out that in 1925 we recommended to the Minister of Transport that he ought to have an inquiry into this matter. We have repeated our request several times. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate the seriousness of the problem in this country in the way that some of the commercial men were able to foresee it. Had the right hon. Gentleman held the inquiry which we suggested, all the necessary facts would have been available to-day. I do not intend to develop my arguments further, but I do plead that the House should give the Bills a Second Reading and allow the various points to be fought out in Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would not have intervened in the Debate had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell) and what I considered to be his unfair comparison of sweating. Of course, there is sweating in road transport, as elsewhere; but there are organised transport workers who are not sweated, about whom I am concerned. There is only one way to meet sweating on the roads and that is by competing with the sweater. If the railway companies are going to compete with the sweater, they will have to do so by sweating 546 themselves, and then what will happen to the men who are organised under trade union conditions? I want to be reassured on this point.
Personally, I am in favour of the principle of the Bill. I am in favour of the freedom of the road but not at the expense of the slavery of those who work on the roads. If proper safeguards are given by the railway companies, if there is no interference with the municipalities, and if the municipalities can be assured that the railway companies if they come on to the roads will not only kill the sweaters but kill the sweating, then I am heart and soul with the railway companies. I am fortified in my views on this question by the attitude of the town council of the town which I represent. I represent a purely Labour constituency. The Home Secretary knows something about that. The municipality of St. Helens is run by Labour. Ninety-five per cent. of its representatives on the town council are Labour representatives, and I represent the Division in Parliament, and am proud to do so. The town council of St. Helens ask that safeguards should be given in regard to the municipalities, and I ask not only that safeguards should be given but that we shall know what the safeguards will be. A special meeting of the St. Helens Town Council has been held, at which a resolution was passed asking me to offer opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill unless proper safeguards are given. They ask me to oppose the Second Reading unless satisfactory assurances are given that the rights and interests of local authorities owning tramways or omnibuses or other transport facilities are adequately safeguarded. I have no objection to the railway companies coming on to the roads. I have no objection to them dealing with the sweaters. There are sweaters on the roads and there are also sweaters on the railways. I would like to know whether the railways will guarantee not to give their work out to anyone who pays less than the trade union rates of wages. If the railways can give that guarantee and can give the safeguards for which I have asked, my opposition and the opposition of the town I represent will have been met.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
We have had a very interesting Debate, especially this evening, and whether one agrees or disagrees with the hon. Member for Paisley 547 (Mr. R. Mitchell) we were all enthralled by his eloquence. I am afraid that the people who are represented by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) and the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Bromley) have very little confidence in the Minister of Transport.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I have received from their joint constituents in the railway world no fewer than 26,500 postcards. From those who are represented by my hon. Friends the railway directors I have received a multitude of personal letters. As befits democratic people, the postcards came from supporters of the benches opposite, while,the letters came from the representatives of the capitalists. I shall, naturally, give due weight to the communications which have been sent to me. There is a silver lining to every cloud, and my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General will on this occasion reap a rich harvest from the communications which I have received. I would ask the right hon. Member for Derby to convey my regrets to his constituents that I am unable personally to answer every single one of the communications which have been sent to me.
Although it has not been very apparent in the Debates, certainly the belief is prevalent outside, and even in the Press, that the railway companies are now seeking some new departure; that the railway directors awoke one morning and said: "Let us go on to the roads," and that these Bills are the result of those sudden thoughts. No new principle is involved. All that these Bills demand is an extension of the power already given to the railway companies for a great number of years. There is no new principle involved in these Bills. It is a matter of policy, whether the extension should be given or not. These powers to run on the roads which are exercised by the railway companies, are derived from three sources. Some of the companies only derive them from two sources. In the first place, the general powers to run on roads are inherent in a railway company, owing to the fact that they have certain powers given to them by Parliament to do transportation. That power is rather vague and ill-defined, 548 and the limits laid down by law have not been settled. Then there are, of course, the powers given to them specifically in Section 49 of the Act of 1921, which gives them the power as far as goods are concerned to deal with traffic originating on their system or traffic going to their system.
Thirdly, there are the specific powers given to certain parts of the four great systems by private Acts, almost unfettered by any restrictions in certain areas. These systems have absorbed certain companies which had private Acts giving them very extensive powers before amalgamation took place. By these Bills, if they are passed, these exceptional powers are to be abolished, and the general powers sought by these Bills substituted. They are already operating on the roads to a large extent. It has been stated that more than 3,000 motor vehicles are now being operated by railway companies, and it seems, therefore, that they are taking a very considerable part in road transportation. All parts of the world wherever there are railways, and there are very few now where there are not, are engaged in grappling with the problem as to how far railways in their respective countries shall be allowed to go upon the roads, and in every country that I can find the railways are being allowed to go on the roads, on differing conditions, I admit, but in no case has any rigid refusal been given to them when they have sought these powers. In Ireland, as far as I am able to gather, the Free State and Northern Ireland take diametrically opposite views of this problem. In both cases powers are given to the railway companies to run on the roads, but in Northern Ireland they have very little restriction placed upon them, whereas in the Free State my opposite number there—I do not remember his office at the moment—is able to prevent companies running road services anywhere unless they have previously obtained consent.
I point that out in order to show that this is a world problem. It is being solved in different ways; each country deals with it as it thinks best. The Balfour-Browne Committee of 1921 has been mentioned, and great play has been made of the fact that the Majority Report is against further powers for the railways. I believe it is quite true that there were 549 four against, three for, and one took a rather different attitude. He said that he wanted to nationalise everything, and, therefore, was in favour of the nationalisation of the roads. At any rate it is quite true that the Chairman, Mr. Balfour-Browne, an eminent K.C. and well known throughout the country, was the only man who did not represent an interest on the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] He was not connected with railways or with the road services. He was there in a perfectly impartial position, and his view was that extended powers should be given to railway companies. Then we had the very important and well-thought-out Committee of 1922 presided over by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. They unanimously came to the conclusion that further powers to go on the roads should be given to the railways, subject to safeguards against uneconomic competition. I entirely agree with them in that finding, and with the rider which they put forward. It seems to me that you cannot in equity say to the railways, you are the only people who are to be debarred from using the roads, when everybody else can use them.
It may be said, and is said, that while it may be right in equity that railway companies should be allowed to come on to the roads, they are great corporations, they command great blocks of capital, they have behind them the trained bands of the right hon. Member for Derby, and will be able to sweep away all competition by weight of money and weight of numbers, and then establish a monopoly. I agree with that; I think great corporations and great public utility companies must be curbed. I agree with that, but anticipating these criticisms and trying to meet legitimate points of view the railway companies have inserted safeguards in this Bill. I propose by permission of the House to examine for a moment or two what these safeguards are worth and whether they will, as a matter of fact, safeguard public interests and the general public as well, which after all is what we must look after and nothing else. They have put in two main safeguards. The first is Clause 7, what is called the ancillary Clause. It has been explained by several hon. Members very lucidly during this Debate and I, therefore, will 550 not seek to explain it at any great length now. What it means shortly is this; that if any loss is made on ancillary services, such as now may be made on hotels or docks under the Act of 1921, then the rates of the railway company shall not be put up in order to make good the loss but that the pockets of the shareholders shall be made to suffer the loss. The other safeguard given by the railway companies is that there shall be an appeal to the Railway Rates Tribunal by traders on the ground that the rates charged on roads are too high.
I will indicate, not exhaustively by any means, some of the recommendations which I shall think it my duty to make to the Committee if this Bill gets a Second Reading in order to strengthen the safeguards which have been put in by the railway companies themselves. Frankly, I do not think the safeguards as they are in the Bill are sufficient to carry out the undertakings given. Clause 7, the ancillary services Clause, is the vital Clause in the Bill, the corner stone of all the safeguards. Other safeguards, though important, are not vital, but this is vital, and I should respectfully tender my advice to the Committee that they should see that this was made a real safeguard. No doubt the Committee will be able to do this if their attention is specifically brought to it. Yesterday there was an interesting contribution to our Debates by the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks), and with the permission of the House I should like to read two sentences from his speech dealing with Clause 7, because I am in complete accord with what he says. He cannot be held to be unduly hostile to the railway companies, he is the Member for Swindon. The hon. and learned Member said:I agree that the terms of Clause 7 ought to be more strict, but I think that that Clause does give the Tribunal control over the ancillary business by allowing them to make deductions in the other sphere so as to prevent the other companies entering into cut-throat competition … The Committee should see that a rate war is not entered upon with a view, in the first place, to abolishing competition, and bleeding the public when competition has been eliminated. I am disposed to think that the terms of the Bill are already sufficient for this purpose, and, if they are not, proper terms can be provided in Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1928; col. 328, Vol. 214.]551 What, I should propose to do is to draw the attention of the Committee to the safeguard in this ancillary Clause as it stands, and to ask them respectfully to make sure that it is watertight and will carry out really what it purports to carry out. Then I should be disposed also to suggest to the Committee that they should insert a Clause making it obligatory on the companies to report to the Minister of Transport when they institute a service on the roads. That would be for the purpose of record. It would be no undue burden on the companies, and it would be very helpful if the next proposal that I am going to make was agreed to by the Committee. I understand, and indeed I am reinforced in that understanding by what has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn), that if the Committee think fit a Clause will be inserted to the effect that when a service had been firmly established by a railway company and they desire to withdraw it, they should not be able to withdraw it without coming to the Minister of Transport of the day for permission to withdraw it. That is a very important thing. It would prevent the companies starting services for the purpose of under-cutting competitors and then leaving the area derelict, or putting up the rates too much. They would have to satisfy the Minister that they were legitimately entitled to withdraw.
That is a duty which I should not welcome,, and the officers of my Department would certainly not bless it. We have had such unfortunate experiences of the duty of adjudicating between municipalities who are running tram services and private companies running omnibus services whichever side I come down I either get black looks from my hon. Friends here or have to face criticism from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is not a power that I should welcome, but, of course, if the Committee thought it right to impose that duty on me, my officers and myself would readily undertake it. Then as regards accounts, I should wish to put to the Committee that I should prescribe the form of accounts for these road services, so as to give a clear indication of the true position of any road transport enterprise. That is essential if we are 552 to see that Clause 10 is carried out properly. I understand there have been some conversations between the railway companies and the manufacturers of these road vehicles, and that the railway companies have offered that they would not manufacture vehicles or parts of vehicles except the bodies. If agreement can be reached, or if, at any rate, this offer was made, I should suggest to the Committee that this agreement should be embodied in the Bill and not left to some chance document which might afterwards prove not to be legally binding. Then I am quite clear of this—that the Committee must make it certain that the companies are subject to the general law which now is imposed upon other users of the roads. They must go on to the roads on exactly the same terms as other people, and if that were made quite clear by the Committee upstairs it might quieten the fears of some hon. Members opposite.
Finally, as regards safeguards, I propose to call the attention of the Committee to the wide powers which the Bill gives to the companies to invest funds in other transport undertakings. This power, as I see it, will enable the companies to establish subsidiary road transport undertakings, and thereby they might avoid some of the obligations put upon them by Parliament. If that possibility was indicated to the Committee it might well be that they would make that part of the Bill watertight and not allow the companies, if they so wished, by these subsidiary enterprises—probably they do not—to avoid the obligations which other Clauses and other safeguards put upon them. I think hon. Members opposite are rather disturbed by the idea that the Bill, if it becomes law, would in some way hurt their municipal enterprises. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] I see that I have correctly diagnosed their views. I have sat through the whole of the two Debates on the Bill, except for about ten minutes.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Naturally, but I prefer to take my views from hon. Members opposite. I have been trying throughout the Debate to find out what are the fears that hon. Members have. The only clue 553 I have got is a circular which I have received, or which a friend of mine has received and which, I presume, all hon. Members have received, from the Municipal Tramways and Transport Association, Incorporated. I assume that it indicates the fears of hon. Members opposite. If so I will deal with it. The communication, written on behalf of a very important body in this country, says:It was unanimously decided to invite Members of Parliament not to assent to the Second Reading of the Bills unless the promoters gave a definite assurance that they will not use the powers they are asking for to establish competitive services traversing the same routes as tramways, trolley vehicles and motor omnibuses established under statutory authority.I cannot understand why hon. Members should think that if the Bills were passed there would be any change in the present system. At the present time in the case of 99 per cent. of our municipal tramways the municipality has power to refuse licences for motor vehicles. If an omnibus company comes along and wants to run an omnibus service in that area, the municipality or the urban council has power to refuse a licence.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
That is in the London area. What I have stated is, broadly speaking, the case. If the omnibus company does not like the decision of the municipality, there is an appeal to me, and I endeavour, as indicated earlier, to do my duty without fear and without favour in the office to which it has pleased the Prime Minister to call me. I cannot satisfy all, but I do my best. What have the municipalities to fear from this Bill? The same power of refusal remains, and can be used against the omnibus run by a railway company, just as against the omnibus run by a private individual or a private company. Therefore, I cannot see why hon. Members opposite should be troubled by this communication from the association who, apparently, are not as fully acquainted with the provisions of the Bill as they might be. I hope I have ben able to allay the fears of hon. Members in this respect. They may not regard me as a very desirable person to whom to appeal but, at any rate, they will not be in any worse position under the provisions of this Bill.
554 I have endeavoured to show that the Bill involves no new principle. It proposes to extend these powers of the railway companies, but as I have pointed out, if the Committee does its work properly, these great organisations will be restricted more than the other users of the road. In oder to carry out that idea,or partly carry it out, I have already indicated, with a broad brush, what suggestions I shall respectfully make to the Committee—if the Bill goes to a Committee—in order to make the safeguards more secure. I must, however, return to the obvious duties of a Minister on a private Bill. It is not my duty to deal with the merits of a private Bill on Second Reading, and, after all, this is a private Bill. The Government are not responsible for it and I did not initiate it. The promoters of the Bill have stated their case very ably; those who oppose the Bill have been equally effective, and private and sectional interests concerned have expressed their views and fears. But to-night I submit we are not concerned so much with safeguards for traders, or points raised by local authorities, or the fears of road hauliers or agiculturists, because Parliament has appointed a regular procedure for dealing with private and sectional interests. We have the well-known procedure upstairs, under which counsel is briefed, witnesses are examined and cross-examined, and the promoters of the Bill have, first of all, to prove the preamble of the Bill before it is allowed even to go to a Committee. Thus all interests are upheld, and surely this procedure is much superior to discussion on the Floor of the House, where only general principles can be dealt with, and minor points cannot be gone into as they can be gone into upstairs.
I submit that we must decide on broad questions of policy, and there are three main grounds of policy which I should like the House to consider. The House almost invariably gives a private Bill a Second Reading. In fact, it has never, to my knowledge, refused a Second Reading of a private Bill unless the Bill has been shown to be prima facie against the public interest. I put it to the House that in giving a Second Reading to a private Bill such as this, you do not give the same seal of approval to the Bill as you would if it were a public Bill. It 555 goes upstairs, it has to be discussed in Committee, and then the House can perfectly well, without any inconsistency, reject it on Third Reading. You cannot do that with a public Bill without a great deal of inconsistency, if it has already passed its Second Reading. The next point is this: Has it been proved during the Debate that this Bill is so bad and so contrary to the public interest that it ought to be rejected? I submit very respectfully that, in my opinion, at any rate, that is not so. The last point of the three with which I will deal, and one which has been made by practically every opponent of the Bill, is that this extended power to the railways should not be given until there has been an inquiry with a view to the general co-ordination and control of transport services. It is a very old means of putting off a decision on something which you do not want to be passed to say you will not decide upon it till there has been an inquiry. That is the commonplace which everybody uses to put off the Second Reading of a Bill which they do not like.
As far as the argument goes that if you give this Bill a Second Reading you will be hurting the local authorities and the ratepayers by putting more traffic on the roads, I would say this: If your safeguards are worth anything—and I think the safeguards, amplified in the manner I have indicated, will be worth a very great deal and will be perfectly watertight—you will prevent any rate war or any large and substantial increase of traffic on the roads, apart, of course, from the natural increase of road traffic. This goes on automatically—I am sorry to say, from the point of view of one who has to assist keeping the roads in order—day by day, month by month, and year by year; and it makes not the slightest difference to the local ratepayers, who have to keep up the roads, whether the natural increase of traffic is carried on under the name of a private individual or by a motor omnibus or a lorry owned by a railway company.
The right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) made a very interesting contribution to our Debates yesterday. Perhaps his points were not so clearly put or so effective as usual, but then we all know that he was speaking under somewhat difficult 556 domestic circumstances, and my admiration, if I may say so, for the right hon. Gentleman's power of speech was increased by the ability with which he steered clear of these controversial points. I want to say one word about the Road Traffic Bill, which he mentioned, and which the Government have promised to put through, if Parliamentary time allows, next Session. I think the passing of that Bill will meet the conditions, largely, which the hon. Member for Paisley outlined. It will meet, I hope, the fears of hon. Members opposite as regards their local authorities and their licences, and if the House will allow me, I would like to read one Clause of that Bill, which deals with public service vehicles, that is to say, passenger vehicles plying for hire, to show that we hope, if this Bill becomes law within 12 months, to have a great many of the anomalies, the inconsistencies, and the dangers which now exist as regards public service vehicles abolished. The draft Bill says:A person shall not use a vehicle or permit it to bo used as a stage carriage unless he is the holder of a road service licence issued in accordance with the provision of this Part of this Act.The people who broadly are to issue licences are the county boroughs, urban areas over 20,000 population and county councils. What does this road service licence entail?To a road service licence may be attached such conditions as the licensing authority … may think fit for securing the establishment or maintenance of a suitable service of stage carriages or express carriages as the case may be, and for securing that the route to be followed shall be suitable and that the vehicles to be used shall in design, construction, and equipment be suitable to the route, and in the case of a service of stage carriages also securing (a) that the fares shall not be unreasonably high; (b) that where desirable in the public interest the fares shall be so fixed as to prevent wasteful competition with alternative forms of transport (if any) along the route or any part thereof, in proximity thereto.I would point out to hon. Members who have fears in regard to local authorities that the local authorities will be given most extensive powers to see that these vehicles are properly manned and found, and that the person who uses these vehicles, if any accident takes place, shall be secured in getting compensation 557 money if he is hurt. As to the question of a general inquiry raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh, here I think he does not show that foresight and caution which characterised him when he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury. What did he say about the general inquiry? He said, "Oh, let the Minister of Transport look in a few pigeon-holes at the Ministry, let the President of the Board of Trade do the same, and let a few extracts be made from Blue Books, give them to half-a-dozen people, with wet towels round their heads, for two or three weeks, and then you can have your report ready for publication and ready to be put in the form of a Bill." I would ask the House to consider whether it is possible to deal in this way with the question which, on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, may raise in an acute form the idea of nationalisation of all our transport services? Can it be possible that in so short a time you can deal with so vast and important a subject? The Government will go on with the inquiry without undue delay, but it must be allowed to take the Inquiry in its own time and use channels which it thinks proper.
Finally, do let us do something to help the railway companies. It is absolutely vital for this country that we should have an efficient railway service. Great schemes of electrification are being mooted; they will require capital, and capital is not easy to obtain by the railways nowadays, and if it will do something to help on that electrification it will be a great step in advance. The General Strike brought many blessings in disguise, and not the least was the fact that the railway interests, both employers and employed, came to the conclusion that it was better to work in friendly cooperation rather than to go on in snarling aloofness. They have been carrying out that co-operation in a way which I never thought it was possible for a great corporation: I thought it possible only in the case of old-fashioned private employers. Let us approach the decision of this subject this evening in that spirit. If in Committee upstairs there could be a little give-and-take, a little appreciation of the point-of-view of each other, a practical and a working scheme can be evolved.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
There are only two observations which I wish to make on the speech we have just heard. I do not apologise for the postcards the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport has received. It is a good thing that one representing a dead-head constituency, as he does, where there is neither energy nor intellect, should at least be reminded that there are intelligent citizens in this country. I do not quite understand his reference to "the Members opposite" in connection with their interests in municipalities. I do hope he does not infer that none of the gentlemen on his side of the House has any interest in municipalities, but he seemed to direct his remarks on that point exclusively to this side of the House. I hope that on this, as on all public questions, whatever differences there may be, the House will show itself, as it invariably does, not unmindful of the fact that the public interest is supreme in all matters. In saying that, I would ask the House to observe that this Debate in itself is the best evidence of Parliamentary protection. The Bill, shortly, asks the permission of Parliament to do a certain thing. Taking the most extravagant illustration of the Bill, letting anybody define it in any way he likes, can any hon. or right hon. Member in any part of the House deny that if this Bill were rejected a thousand private companies could be set up on the roads of this country to-morrow to do precisely the same thing as the railway companies are asking the permission of Parliament to be allowed to do, and that Parliament would have no voice whatever in the matter? Let the House keep that fundamental point in mind. The Bill which we are now asked to vote upon gives Parliament, and rightly so, the power not only to sanction and to ratify but to insert safeguards in matter which any private company could undertake to-morrow without Parliament having any jurisdiction at all. If that be the exact position, I put it to hon. Members that the onus ought to be on those rejecting and opposing the Measure to show that not only are these powers unwise, but that those asking for them are incapable of properly exercising them. That is a fair proposition, and one that hon. Members ought to answer and must answer if they wish to give a conscientious vote. The rejection of this 559 Measure was moved by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) and it was seconded by the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey), and both those hon. Members contradicted themselves in the reasons they gave for the rejection of this Measure. I am now speaking within the recollection of those who heard the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the rejection. The Mover of the Amendment said that this Bill would mean less road transport, and the Seconder said, "I wish this Bill to be rejected because there are already too many people on the roads, and I do not want any more." Those are the reasons given by the Mover and Seconder for the rejection of this Bill. Curiously enough, the Mover of the rejection also said that a previous Bill conferring these powers was passed by the House of Commons and was submitted to a Committee upstairs, and the Committee had reported adversely on the Bill.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I thought the hon. Member might dispute my statement and I will read a quotation from his speech.I put forward that argument quite seriously. The previous Committee which considered this question said quite definitely in their Report that this further extension of the powers of the railway companies should not be given; that powers should not be given to railway companies to run on the roads in the interests of the public. If I had time I could give hon. Members the reference."—[OFFICAL REFFORT, 28th February, 1928; col. 313, Vol. 214.]
§ Mr. THOMAS
I have been reading from the OFFICIAL REPORT, but if the hon. Member says that his remarks had reference only to the Act of 1921, I accept his statement. In order that there may be no misunderstanding on that point, I will bring the House much more up-to-date. Following the Act of 1921, the London and North Western Railway Company introduced a Bill in this House asking for precisely the same powers as those which are contained in the Bill which we are now discussing. That Bill not only obtained a Second Reading, but was considered upstairs by a Committee of this House. There were differences in 560 connection with the Ministry of Transport and the companies, but that Committee of this House reported as follows:The case for the petitioners was not fully before the Committee, but, subject to the possibility of eliminating unfair competition, the Committee are unanimously of opinion that it would be in the public interest to allow the fullest possible participation by the railway companies of this group and all competitors in the service of road transport.Therefore, I would ask the House to consider first this point. In 1922, the House of Commons gave a Second Reading to a Bill and said, "We want this Bill examined by our own colleagues impartially and fairly." That Bill dealt with the same problem which we are now discussing, with this difference, that, viewed purely from the standpoint of the railway companies, the problem was not then so serious as it is to-day. Notwithstanding that fact, a Committee of all parties in this House made the recommendation that I have just submitted. Therefore, I am sure my hon. Friend will not disagree with me when I say that, if he had in mind the 1921 Committee—which I did not understand to be the case when he spoke—I am at least entitled to answer him by saying that this statement which I have just quoted is the last authoritative statement on this subject.
Every speaker in opposition to this Bill seemed to rely upon the one stock argument, "Oh, yes, this may be good, it may be desirable, but let it happen after there has been an inquiry." There are some in this House who know the full significance of that plausible argument, but there are others who do not. Do not those who say, "We are prepared to grant this after an inquiry," know that they are not asking for the status quo, but that, if there were a Royal Commission to-morrow, or a Committee of Inquiry of any sort or kind, every competitor of the railway companies could go on notwithstanding any inquiry? Let me draw the attention of the House to two significant proofs of that. Last Saturday week there appeared in the daily Press the prospectus of an Edinburgh company. As the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Sir P. Ford), who spoke earlier in the Debate, and who spoke in the interests of the Edinburgh Corporation, knows, there was—
§ Sir P. FORD
I spoke entirely as an individual. I pointed out that I had no financial interest in the matter, and was not speaking for the corporation, but as a man in the street trying to interpret the wishes of my constituents.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I am sorry, because I assume that Members of Parliament generally look to their corporation—[Interruption.] The hon. Member who spoke of the man in the street, and in the street of Edinburgh in particular, will observe that there was a prospectus setting out the advantages of a particular Edinburgh company which made it quite clear that hundreds of omnibuses were to be put on the road immediately. I have no hesitation in associating myself whole-heartedly with every detail of my right hon. Friend's speech last night, and I believe an inquiry is essential, but let the opponents of the Bill be quite frank and say they know perfectly well that by using the excuse of an inquiry the competitors of the railway companies can do just as they like, even while the inquiry is on, without any interference whatever. Let me also draw attention to the fact that nearly two years ago, as the Minister of Transport will remember, the railway companies, accompanied by the railway representatives of the trade unions, waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer and himself and were the first to urge an inquiry. This problem was so serious and so difficult that we urged an inquiry then and now we find the Government doing nothing, and after two years the opponents coming along and saying, "The first thing we want is an inquiry."
Now let us face the question as to whether it is equitable or not. I take this view. I do not believe that I am entitled in this House to assume that those who are opposing this Measure do so purely for their private interests and disregarding any public interest. I take the view that, whatever conditions there may be, every Member feels that he is serving the public interest in the vote he is giving. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy) put it quite clearly when he said he did not 562 believe the railway companies were philanthropists, and of course he is not only speaking truth in saying that, but he would be foolish to assume otherwise. And no one would believe that he himself was a philanthropist. In other words, we are all on an equal footing in that respect. The last person to assume that role would by myself. But I would ask the House to consider this short point of competition. I can quite understand the feeling existing as to whether the railway companies are fairly treated or not. I quite understand people saying, "If they are not fairly treated let us give them a chance." I would state that aspect of the question in a few sentences.
Take a short trip from here to Reading by rail. Every Member knows perfectly well that every mile of the permanent way on the railway from here to Reading is paid for and maintained wholly and solely by the shareholders' money. There is no disputing that. Everyone knows that the signal-boxes and the signalmen from here to Reading are maintained by the railway companies. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the public!"] An hon. Member says, "And the public." Someone, I suppose, is bound to travel on the railways, or there would be none. Therefore, having stated that simple proposition, let me now take the journey from London to Reading by road. I ask any Member of the House to deny that in actual travelling the simple illustration I have given is applicable all over the country, and I ask whether those who are competing, either in taking passengers or goods from London to Reading, maintain or pay for and are wholly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the roads? As far as the signalman is concerned on the London to Reading road he is the policeman. [An HON. MEMBER: "A.A."] I am not talking about those who are engaged in breaking the law. I am dealing with a simple question of those who, under Government and local authorities, are controlling and doing, in other words, precisely the same work as the signalmen. Therefore, viewed purely from that point of view as to whether it is fair or equitable, I content myself with asking Members when they vote this evening, can they vote against a corporation, private company, or public 563 utility company having precisely the same rights as ratepayers as are enjoyed by other sections of the community? That is the broad question which has got to be answered in this connection.
I come to what I may call the more selfish side, as to why railwaymen are willing and anxious to support this Bill. I would direct my remarks particularly to some of my hon. Friends who have criticised this Bill from this side of the House. Last night the Minister of Labour was bombarded with questions and criticisms, with which I associated myself, with regard to what is called the Washington Convention. Stripped of everything else, what we on this side mean by the ratification of the Washington Convention is that labour, paid decently, shall not be brought down by sweated labour. That is what we mean on this side, and applying that same altruistic principle to the railwaymen, I repeat that I do not want their economic standard brought down by the sweated conditions of others.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I quite understand the interruption of an expert transport worker. I am quite sure that there we have a statement made with that heartfelt sympathy due from practical experience. I am fighting for all workers who recognise that if they have to compete fairly and squarely, whether it be under a form of Government or under a social system, if a standard of living is demanded and obtained for one class of worker and a lower standard exists in other classes that inevitably is used to bring down the standard of the other. Therefore, if that is not right in method, it is an English conception. I have endeavoured not to be personal. I have endeavoured to put the case, not only from the public point of view but to tell the House quite frankly why the railwaymen feel a keen interest in this particular matter.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I never believe in interfering with good work, and I should be very interested to know that the championship of the transport workers is now 564 left in that channel. I now come to one other argument that was used—[An HON. MFIMBER: "Talk it out."] The hon. Member who interrupts could not have been here at 3.45 to vote. I now come to one other argument, and it is this. I will not detain the House long, but I want to meet quite fairly what is a legitimate anxiety on the part of friends of mine on this side of the House as well as, I hope, on the other side. It is, What is going to happen to the municipal authorities if this Bill be passed? I know that there is not only a strong feeling but a natural anxiety existing on this side of the House and, I believe, on the other. Let me endeavour to put the position fairly to the House. Under this Bill, even without the Amendment outlined by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, the railway companies neither seek, ask, nor desire any privileges whatever, either for passenger or goods vehicles, which are not exercised to-day by any or every private corporation. Let me explain the exact position. The anomaly existing at this moment is, that anybody can run on the road as far as goods are concerned, without any licence whatever. Let the House keep that clearly in mind. No licence whatever is required under the existing law for an individual or a corporation to run goods traffic. I am dealing with facts, and I challenge anyone to deny what I have now said. Although no licence is required in that respect, under the existing law a licence is required from the municipality as far as the hire of passenger vehicles is concerned. Even that provision is subject to the veto of the Minister of Transport. The railway companies have inserted in these Bills a Clause, and they have stated to me, and I say it publicly on their behalf, that if this Clause does not seem clear and definite, laying it down that they require no more power of any sort or kind that is not now granted to existing bodies competing on the road, then that can be made perfectly clear in Committee upstairs. With these safeguards, what other objection is there against the Second Reading of this Bill?
I regret that the Seconder of the Motion for Rejection and one or two other speakers thought fit to rebuke the railwaymen and myself for our action. 565 I ask the House, in my final sentences, to consider the position. We have been criticised and we have been held up to ridicule and abuse because of the tendency to forget that there are occasions when the interests of the employés are not foreign to the interests of their employers. We have often been accused that labour would not assist in helping to develop and encourage their industry. Surely, if when the occasion arises, that capital and labour, employer and employed, feel not only that their own interests, but the interests of the country are not imperilled by their joint action, it does not lie with hon. Members to twit us about an unholy alliance. I shall always take my stand in defending the interests of the people I represent, and I am not so blind as to lead them into a policy that will not, in the end, be to their best interests. Believe me, the interests of the railway companies, the interests of the railwaymen and the interests of the public will be served by the verdict which will be given in the Lobby in a few minutes time.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Saklatvala) was referred to in the last speech and I think he should be heard.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I do not intend to detain the House with any vexatious arguments. I want to make it quite clear why I have made up my mind to vote against this Bill, especially in the interests of railway workers who are being misled into believing that it is their interests. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] We have been told that this Bill will not be what it is now after it has been through Committee, and that therefore we should vote for the Second Reading. If there is any sense in that argument it means that this House should never vote against the Second Reading of any Bill on the supposition that it may be entirely altered in Committee upstairs. The other argument is that the safeguards in Clause 7 are sufficient. If Clause 7 is to operate in a genuine manner then these Bills are not required, because railway
§ shareholders who are combined together in an association 60,000 strong, can tomorrow put up sufficient capital to run as many transport services as they desire without any interference from anybody. What Clause 7 fails to do is to safeguard the wages and standard of living of the workers. There is nothing in it which guarantees any standard of wages—
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
The hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Bromley) and the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) take a certain amount of pride, and perhaps rightly so, for the manner in which the wages of the railway workers are safeguarded—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—and we are told that that constitutes an argument in favour of passing this Bill. In my opinion, it constitutes an argument for turning down the Bill. What is the General Council for? What is the Trade Union Congress for? If the wages of the workers are to be safeguarded, the only means at the disposal of the representatives of the working class is to see that the transport workers and the railway workers, not the railway workers and the railway directors, are brought together, and that a general movement in support of wages and hours for all transport workers formed. That is the right way for working class repre sentatives to fight [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] If it happens not to be the Derby way, but happens to be the Russian way, it is the only right way of solidising the workers. That will not be done by neglecting altogether the hours and conditions of workers in sister industries. Therefore, I submit on behalf of a few thousand railway workers who are seduced by false arguments by the Great Western Railway Company in my constituency, that this House should not pass these Bills at all, because there is not one word in any Clause which safeguards the wages and hours of the workers.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 399; Noes, 42.569
|Division No. 21.]||AYES.||[11.11 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool,W.Derby)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Albery, Irving James||Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Ammon, Charles George|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Apsley, Lord||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Henn, Sir Sydney H|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt, Hon. Wilfrid W.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Atkinson, C.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hilton, Cecil|
|Baldwin, Rt, Hon. Stanley||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hirst, G. H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dalton, Hugh||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Balniel, Lord||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Barnes, A.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Barr, J.||Day, Harry||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Batey, Joseph||Dennison, R.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P, H.||Drewe, C.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Duckworth, John||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Duncan, C.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Dunnico, H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Edge, Sir William||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Berry, Sir George||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Elliot, Major Waiter E.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Ellis, R. G.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||England, Colonel A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Fenby, T. D.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Fermoy, Lord||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Finburgh, S.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Forrest, W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Briant, Frank||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cilve||Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Gardner, J. P.||Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gates, Percy||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Lansbury, George|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bromfield, William||Glbbins, Joseph||Lawson, John James|
|Bromley, J.||Gillett, George M.||Lee, F.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Goff, Sir Park||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Gower, Sir Robert||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)|
|Buchan, John||Grace, John||Loder, J. de V.|
|Buchanan, G.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Long, Major Eric|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Looker, Herbert William|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lougher, Lewis|
|Burman, J. B.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Lowth, T.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Greenall, T.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lumley, L. R.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
|Cape, Thomas||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Chadwlck, Sir Robert Burton||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mackinder, W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Macnaghten, Hon Sir Malcolm|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston spencer||Hamilton, Sir George||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hammersley, S. S.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hanbury, C.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hardie, George D.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Compton, Joseph||Harland, A.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Connolly, M.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harney, E. A.||Meller, R. J.|
|Cope, Major William||Hartington, Marquess of||Merriman, F. B|
|Couper, J. B.||Hayday, Arthur||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hayes, John Henry||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Mltchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Cove, W. G.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Henderson. Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Henderson, Sir Vivian (Bootle)||Montague, Frederick|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Salmon, Major I.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Samuel, A. M, (Surrey, Farnham)||Townend, A. E.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P|
|Mosley, Oswald||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Murnin, H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Varley, Frank B.|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Savery, S. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Waddington, R.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Oakley, T.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Oliver, George Harold||Sitch, Charles H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Skelton, A. N.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Owen, Major G.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Paling, W.||Smillie, Robert||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Penny, Frederick George||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighlty)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Perring, Sir William George||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wells, S. R.|
|Philipson, Mabel||smithers, Waldron||Welsh, J. C.|
|Pilcher, G.||Snell, Harry||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Potts, John S.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Power, Sir John Cecll||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Preston, William||Stamford, T. W.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Radford, E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Raine, Sir Walter||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks,Richm'd)|
|Ramsden, E.||Stephen, Campbell||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Storry-Deans, R.||Windsor, Walter|
|Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Strauss, E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Withers, John James|
|Remnant, Sir James||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Sullivan, J.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Sutton, J. E.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Riley, Ben||Templeton, W. P.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||Thom, Lt.Col, J. G. (Dumbarton)||Wright, W.|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Ropner, Major L.||Thomson, F, C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Major Hills and Mr. j H. Thomas.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Haslam, Henry C.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cassols, J. D.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Scurr, John|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Kelly, W. T,||Sexton, James|
|Clowes, S.||Kennedy, T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lindley, F. W.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||McLean, Major A.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Dixey, A. C.||Macquisten, F. A.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||March, S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Morris, R. H.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Groves, T.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. Lamb and Sir Basil Peto.|
Bill read a Second time, and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Motions on the Order Paper in regard to committing the Bill to a Select Committee or to a Joint Committee of both Houses, cannot be taken until the Bill has been reported upon by the Examiners.