§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out paragraph (a).
When this Amendment was moved in the Standing Committee the Minister of Agriculture said that it was destructive of the main purpose of the Bill. During the whole of the debates on that occasion we were unconvinced that this particular paragraph ought to remain as part of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman and many of his hon. Friends sitting behind him persistently argue in Committee and in the House that there 2088 is a universal desire on the part of the tenant farmers to become owner-occupiers, and they proceed to argue that the farmer who owns a farm will work much harder for himself than he will do while he happens to be a tenant farmer. We find that in practice that does not work out, neither do we see why there should be any greater effort on the part of the farmer when he becomes owner of his holding than he will put forth during the time that he is the tenant, since the results of his effort would find its way into his own pockets as tenant just as they would do were he the owner-occupier.
In arguing the question in Committee, the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) brought forward what I thought were very conclusive figures, which might well have satisfied the average individual, to the effect that the demand of the tenant to become owner-occupier was not so large as the Minister would have us believe. The hon. Member recalled to our mind the fact that under the Land Settlement Act and the Small Holdings Act of 1908, 14,000 small holdings were created and every smallholder had the privilege of becoming the owner of his holding if he so desired, but of these 14,000 cases only slightly over 230 smallholders purchased their holdings. Under the later Land Settlement Act of 1919, some 16,000 persons were settled upon small holdings. Here, again, we find that of the 16,000 persons who were settled en the small holdings only 300 purchased their holdings, although in every case, had the desire been there, the tenant could have become the owner-occupier. We have 30,000 people settled upon separate holdings, and of this number only 530 tenants have desired to become owner-occupiers. Taking these figures as a fair guide, it seems to me that the desire is not there, neither can we see any tangible improvement taking place by means of State funds being placed at the disposal of individuals so that they may be permitted to secure a mortgage on holdings which they intend subsequently to purchase.
During the Debate in March, 1927, the hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir D. Newton) resented a reference made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) with 2089 regard to smallholders as being inefficient, and so forth. On that occasion the hon. Member for Cambridge said that the Cambridge County Council managed their small holdings estate as efficiently as any agricultural holding in any part of the country was managed. He appeared to be satisfied that there was no desire on the part of the tenants to become the owner-occupiers, since they were doing fairly well and the holdings were administered efficiently under united ownership, as are the holdings in the County of Cambridge. Whilst dealing with the question of multiplicity of owner-occupiers, it seems to me very curious that on the Crown lands the tenants rarely express a desire to become owners. They are content to use the soil to secure the maximum quantity of food and to make the best out of the industry that they can as tenants, without becoming owner-occupiers. As the holdings of the Crown represent a considerable area, it would appear that again there is no indication of a general desire for a multiplicity of owner-occupiers.
Should this paragraph remain in the Bill it may well be that the disadvantages will outweigh the advantages. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb), speaking on the question of the relations of the tenant with the landowner, either as a good landowner or as a poor landowner, said that there was no industry in the country in which capital had been provided at such a low rate of interest as by landlords for agriculture, and that there were cases where the interest on the capital had been nil, except the amenity rights of living in a large house and perhaps the shooting rights on the estate. If the rents paid by the tenant farmer are so small that they provide little or no income for the landowner, and the farmer under the terms of this Bill secures a grant with which to purchase his holding, the difference, according to the hon. Member for Stone, will be somewhere in the region of two to two-and-a-half per cent. on the capital value of the land as compared with the five and three-quarters per cent. that he would have to pay under the terms of this Bill. If agriculture is depressed on the basis of a payment of two to two-and-a-half per cent. to the landlords, how is 2090 the agriculturist going to prosper on the payment of a five and three-quarters per cent. rate of interest under this Bill, when he has purchased his land? The statement of the hon. Member for Stone was perfectly correct, and I do not see how he can argue that the tenant farmer who is depressed and who can barely pay his small rent, which only provides a very small income for the landowner, can afford to buy his holding and pay five and three-quarters per cent. interest on the amount of money that he borrows for that particular purpose. From that point of view, the main purpose of the Bill will not have the effect that he anticipates.
It may well be that you have to consider the number of farmers who possess more than one-third of the present value of their holdings. In that case, advantage would accrue in being able to borrow from the Treasury at a rate of interest which would be less than the interest on an overdraft from the bank or on any advance or accommodation secured elsewhere, but the right hon. Gentleman says that that is not the main purpose of the Bill. The main purpose of the Bill is to get a multiplicity of small owner-occupiers. Once we examine the whole situation and we note the comparatively small number of people who own their holdings and at the same time have more than one-third of liquid capital on the present value of their holdings, we shall find that the number will be infinitesimal. A number of those who have purchased their holdings since the War, largely due to pressure from the landlord, who had no alternative, due to circumstances over which he had no control, will derive no benefit whatever under the terms of this Bill. Those who may secure opportunities under the Bill—I will not say privileges, because I do not think they will be privileges—will be the persons who want to buy their holdings outright; but they will be called upon to pay anything up to five and three-quarters per cent. interest for the money they borrow. When the landowner tells us that the rent is only equivalent to approximately two-and-a-half per cent. on the value of the land, it is not going to be an advantage to the farmer to have to pay five and three-quarters per cent. In the other case, if the farmer does possess a certain amount of capital which is 2091 locked up in some way, the new corporation provides a key to the financial situation and he will obtain liquid capital for the purpose of improving his requisites and so forth.
Generally, it seems to me, this part of the Bill is not going to do the thing that we on these benches, and I imagine the majority of hon. Members opposite, desire to be done, and which will certainly have to be done, before agriculture will be as prosperous as the nation would like to see it. All over the country there is a lack of equipment, a lack of manures, due to shortage of capital, and if individuals are to be advised and encouraged by the right hon. Gentleman, where they have a few thousand pounds or a few hundred pounds, to lock up their capital by purchasing their holdings, leaving them in a position that they can no longer get the maximum value from the land, you will not do agriculture any good by this Bill, but you will do an infinite amount of harm. Therefore, I suggest that that is one reason why we ought to hesitate before we allow this Clause to go through in its present form. There is another great disadvantage attaching to the creation of a large number of small owners of land. The drainage difficulties are almost insurmountable when you have so many different sets of people—occupiers of the high lands, and the low lands, and the mid lands—with whom to negotiate, before you can apply a scheme for draining the whole of an area. A Commission, set up by the right hon. Gentleman himself told us that there were millions of acres of agricultural land suffering from lack of drainage, and the right hon. Gentleman, speaking in an agricultural Debate in March, 1927, said:I hope in the course of the next day or two to introduce a Drainage Bill which will affect very large areas of fertile land which are threatened with flooding and loss of fertility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1927; col. 962, Vol. 204.]That Bill was introduced and a sum of £1,000,000 was at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman to assist this great scheme. Nobody knows better than the right hon. Gentleman himself that it was because of the multiplicity of interests in the area concerned that the Bill was finally thrown out after being sent to a Special Committee. That large area of 2092 fertile land, which was threatened then with flooding and loss of fertility, is still undrained. As has been said on many occasions in this House, where you have 1,000 people to negotiate with it is well-nigh impossible to secure agreement, unless agreement is imposed upon them by the Government or some similar body. The creation of a large number of owner-occupiers all over the country will not assist but will retard these drainage schemes. It will not help to bring back into cultivation large areas of agricultural land, but will tend rather to send more and more acres out of cultivation, reducing the opportunities for employment and adding to our already great national difficulties in this respect. This part of the Bill, designed ostensibly to assist persons who have already purchased their holdings, will only assist a very small number of them. It may, however, encourage others to purchase their holdings at a price which farmers cannot afford to pay. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) in the Committee said there were landowners who wanted to sell land, and farmers who wanted to buy land, but farmers had not the money with which to purchase it. So they come to the State for £2,500,000, more or less in the form of a gift, to enable them to buy the land which the landowner is anxious to sell. The principle is wrong, and there is great danger in carrying it through. I feel, and my hon. Friends feel, that the disadvantages attaching to the creation of a multiplicity of small owner-occupiers far outweigh any advantages that may accrue.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I beg to second the Amendment. I suggest to the Minister that he ought to alter the Title of this Bill. The Bill purports to increase credit facilities to farmers for the pursuit of agriculture, but I think it is fairly certain that its effect in a vast number of cases will be just the opposite. I think there is no doubt that it will lead to a great many sales of property. It will make it much easier for tenants and others to find the money with which to buy, and probably we shall see an immense number of sales. From the Minister's point of view, that will be a great success for his Bill, but what will be the effect on the farmers? Many farmers who are now carrying on tolerably well, who are able to get advantages from the bank and who are not in any great diffi- 2093 culties will be obliged to put their hands deep into their pockets to help to find the money to buy and their situation will become worse than it was before. Does not everyone know of farmers over whom hangs the fear of the property being sold and broken up, compelling them either to buy, or to go out of business, or to take all the risks of removal? That fear hangs over the heads of farmers like a sword of Damocles in thousands of cases. I noticed that in his Second Reading speech the Minister skimmed lightly over this matter. Dealing in the early part of his speech with the object of the corporation, he said that it would operate where transfer was necessary. That covered a very small part of the ground, and then the Minister hurried on to another aspect of the matter.
Supporters of the Bill may draw a parallel with Ireland, but there you had a totally different aim in supplying the capital to enable the owners to unload. You had a definite, avowed, and legitimate political object in that case. I do not think that anyone will frankly say that the political object of this Bill is one which its authors would like to parade. It ought properly to be called a Landowners' Relief (Small Ownership) Bill because, as my hon. Friend the Mover has said, and, as was practically admitted in the Second Reading Debate, its aim is sub-division. If not, what is its aim? There is no great difficulty in raising money on mortgage now. In fact it is quite easy. We must regard the Bill as an attempt to put a spoke in the wheel of nationalisation. The question of nationalisation is absolutely relevant to this part of the Bill, but we have had that question already threshed out in this House and I am not going to labour it again. I would only remind hon. Members opposite of an authority who will be recognised on their side as not being a Labour party man at all. He is, as far as I know, a man of their own views. I refer to Professor Orwin, who is, perhaps, the weightiest authority against the view that the way in which to save and to improve agriculture is to increase private ownership. He says:The only person who can supply the necessary pressure in favour of better farming is the landlord, and, if the State were constituted the universal landlord, it would be possible to define conditions subject to which land was to be held so as to main- 2094 tain the maximum possible amount of cultivation.It is enough to quote one irrefutable authority as to the advantage of public ownership and to show that it is not a fantastic proposal at all but an arguable proposition. We submit that it is not proper by a side wind to introduce a plan of the kind proposed in this Bill. I remember the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman saying on one occasion that the State would be so far driven to help the farmer and the owner, in one way and another, that we should be landed by a side wind into nationalisation. Is this Bill a desperate attempt to avoid the result foretold by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office? I think Lord Irwin was not looking upon the giving of ownership to the State as an evil but as probably the best prospect for the improvement of agriculture. What is the point of view of the farmer? The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) must know a vast number of them who would appeal to this House, if it were of any use to do so, to be saved from having to buy their farms. I do not think anyone will say that this Bill will help the farmer to avoid buying his farm. If he knows that, in any case, a sale will be forced upon him and that the property is going to be broken up, he will be thankful for help in raising a mortgage, but we all know that the question of whether properties are sold or not, is generally affected by the other question of whether farmers or others are likely to prove keen purchasers of the farms.
I think the result of the Measure will, on the whole, be bad for the farmers. It is, unfortunately, not the case that the new occupying owners have proved better farmers than the tenant farmers. The evidence is the other way. I suppose that was partly the reason why Lord Lee introduced the Act of 1920, to make permanent the system of control which he thought would be increasingly necessary because, owing to increased security, the farmer had become independent of any sort of control. He had a much greater independence than existed before the owners became unable to apply pressure in favour of better farming. That, I suppose, was the reason for Lord Lee's Act—as regards the control part of which, I suppose, we all regretted its repeal in the succeeding 2095 year. I think if the Minister looks at the matter from the point of view of the improvement of agriculture, he will feel in his heart that he is promoting a scheme which does not really benefit agriculture but which has some other motive—brought in, as I have said, by a side wind. The Bill aims, undoubtedly, at a Conservative party advantage and I think it is practically admitted that the party advantage in question is the prevention of the nationalisation of the land. I hope that the Minister in arguing for this main proposal of the Bill, will try to show if there is any national advantage accruing from it in relation to agriculture.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. In view of the exciting nature of this Debate and the heat of the evening may we have the windows open?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) has done well to focus the attention of the House on the real object of this Bill. He has made the discovery that we have brought forward this Bill in order to defeat nationalisation. We never made any secret of it. We have never been convinced that nationalisation would be for the advantage of the tenant or for the advantage of agricultural production. We have, however, seen, as everyone must see, that landlords are often unable to provide the necessary capital, and we have been bound to offer an alternative to what we consider the very unwise proposal of hon. Members opposite that the State should become the universal landlord. I do not believe that there is any considerable agricultural opinion in favour of that policy. I doubt whether hon. Members of the Liberal party are strongly in favour of that policy. When it was first proposed by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that there should be rapid and simultaneous nationalisation, and that we could not afford to wait, the proposals were not greeted with acclamation, and at the conference that subsequently took place we know that graduality, to use a terrible word, was substituted for the heroic measures originally proposed. So I do not think that we on this side are alone in having doubts as to the wisdom of the policy of nationalisation, which the right hon. Gentleman quite truly says is the alternative to filling up 2096 the gaps which have developed under the conditions of post-war stringency in the present system of landlords and tenants. The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), in moving the Amendment, argued that there was no desire on the part of the occupier to become the freeholder, and he based that opinion very largely on experience under the earlier Small Holdings Act.
He did not base it on the Act which we passed the year before last. Under the pre-War Act and the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act of 1919, there was every discouragement to the tenant becoming the landowner, and in the case of the 1919 Act he, the tenant, paid rent on a written-down value, and that value had no regard to the cost of providing the accommodation, but merely took into account what a tenant could be reasonably expected to pay. If, however, he claimed his right to buy the land, he had to pay the actual cost to the public authority of acquiring that land, and the Small Holdings Acts prior to the Act of 1926 were deliberately drawn up with a bias against owner-occupation. Of course, I cannot state what amount of advantage will be taken of these facilities, but I believe, from the information which reaches me, that it is by no means easy for the tenant in many cases to get the mortgage advances which the right hon. Member for Norfolk, North, said he could so easily obtain. I get a considerable correspondence from farmers who have had their mortgages called in, and these farmers ask how soon these new facilities will be available, because they are at their wit's end to know how to tide over. They cannot, they say, find other mortgagees who are prepared to accept the transfer of the mortgages.
The hon. Member for Don Valley seemed to think that our proposal was in some way a reflection on the advantage of the landlord-tenant system. It is nothing of the kind. I have over and over again stated in this House that, in my opinion, the landlord-tenant system is the most favourable system for the average occupier. Under that system of rental the occupier has had the advantage of his fixed capital at a lower rate of interest than any other system can conceivably give him. It has had this 2097 advantage also, that it provided a buffer for the tenant in time of economic depression, but it is universally admitted that such demands are being made on the landlords that the provision of capital is not fully equal to the needs of the industry; and it is no criticism of that system that we should admit that where gaps develop we have to mend them.
I was very much interested at one valuable admission which I think the hon. Member for Don Valley made in the Standing Committee, when he said that the object of this Bill was to create a lot of little landowners, a lot of little future Tories. Why are these little landowners going to be little future Tories if the credit facilities are to be as disastrous to them as hon. Members opposite make out? Hon. Members opposite are very apt to attribute interested motives to all political action. If these voters are going to be future little Tories, is it going to be from sympathy with us in our failure to produce a good system, or out of gratitude for a system which they know is going to succeed?
I really cannot tell what demand will be made on the new Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. We have made provision as far as we can for the probable necessities of that Corporation. We have also made arrangements that if the demand does not come up to what we expect under certain conditions, and the ratio of Government advances should exceed the outstanding loans, the money can be repaid to the State. I believe that these facilities are required, and it is primarily because of this need for finding fixed capital for the land that we have incorporated Part I in this Bill. The improvement side of the question is comparatively small, and I can only repeat what I said in Committee that this Amendment is destructive of Part I of the Bill, and that it is impossible for hon. Members opposite to go down to the country and to say that they are in favour of credit facilities for farmers and the improvement of their position, and at the same time to vote for this Amendment.
§ Mr. LAMB
I should be the last to impute motives to those who put forward this Amendment, but undoubtedly it is an essential part of the Bill, and, whatever the motives, the effect of the 2098 Amendment would undoubtedly be to wreck the Bill. Consequently, I am very much against the Amendment. The right hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Buxton) said that this was an effort to put a spoke in the wheel of nationalisation. I will not debate that, as it has been mentioned by the Minister, but I am sure that this Amendment, if carried, would be an absolute block to the working of the Bill, so that it is really a spoke in the wheel which is proposed to provide credit facilities for agriculture. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) referred to the statement which I made some time ago with regard to the percentage amount received from land by landowners, and the infinitesimal amount in percentage which was received on the capital which landowners had to provide for agriculture. I adhere entirely to what I said previously, but I cannot see the relevancy of it to this Bill, because the percentage received from land is not due only to the item which he mentioned, that, is to say, the rents received for land, but it is the rents received, or the incomings, when they have been made, and the outgoings also, and consequently I do not see how it refers to this Bill, which proposes to give advances to agriculturists upon the present value of the land, and the value, of course, is estimated after they have taken into consideration both the incomings and the outgoings, because the present value is the value only upon which any advance will be made in future.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Surely the hon. Member can see the relevancy when, as he said, rents are fixed on such a basis that the net income for the landowner is practically nil, while for the tenant farmer to become the owner of his holding he must borrow his money or two-thirds of the then value at 5¾ per cent.
§ Mr. LAMB
The amount the borrower will have to pay will be on the capital value, and the capital value will be fixed on the returns to come from that land in the first instance. He also said that farmers wish to buy their farms. They do not. The farmer prefers to be a tenant under a good landlord, but the point is that under present conditions the farmers are forced to buy their farms, and this is a genuine effort to enable them to retain a home over their heads, 2099 and a farm, which is the only occupation probably that they understand. It is an effort to get them out of a difficulty which is not sought by them but is forced upon them by circumstances. If this Amendment were carried, it would wreck the Bill, and consequently I hope it will not be pressed. If it is, I shall have to vote against it. Farmers are looking forward with great eagerness to the advantages which they hope to receive under this Bill. Only to-day I received a letter asking me when the facilities under this Bill were really to become available, as they were waiting for them, and I returned the last page of the Bill and said the Bill was to be discussed to-day, and that I hoped it would go through another place, and be available for them on the date mentioned on the last page of the Bill. They are looking for it, and they require it.
The reasons which have just been given by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) for voting for this portion of the Clause must, I feel quite sure, hold good with regard to the farms which he knows best, for he has always been a consistent advocate of larger credit facilities being provided for the agricultural community, but with his knowledge of farming he must be very well aware that all farmers are not in the same position. Far from it. There is undoubtedly a demand in some districts for the ownership of the farms, which are now in the hands of tenants, whose families have been there for generations, and they would be very glad to be the owners of their holdings. There are some counties in England, as well as in Wales, where these sitting tenants have a traditional connection with the land even longer than that of the landlords who own the land, and in those cases there is a genuine desire to be the owners of the land and to feel themselves in the secure position of freeholders. It very often happens that their income is not entirely dependent on those farms, but is augmented from outside, and they may have other occupations which enable them to make the farm part of the interest which they have in life, and enable them, perhaps, to plant out members of their families. These problems are not as simple as they sound. You cannot regard all farmers as alike. They vary 2100 enormously, and they vary in regard to their individual circumstances. Taking them as a whole, it is true that most farmers are content to go on with the landlord and tenant system so long as it works, but, when it breaks down, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that then is the time when they will look round in any direction for such assistance as they can obtain.
Of one thing I am sure, and that is that farmers in this country are not clamouring for nationalisation, and no single agricultural community in the world is in favour of it. In countries where nationalisation has been carried to the most thorough extent, the farmers are most firmly opposed to it in their industry. The general desire of farmers, I am afraid, will not be of very much guidance to the Minister when he is dealing with this subject. He is dealing in this portion of the Bill with exceptional cases. Whatever may be said about little Tories, he cannot be said to be actuated by purely political motives. I am certain that he is well aware of the grievances which have arisen in a great many districts where estates have been broken up, and the old system has ceased to exist. If the general desire is to go on as at present, and he is only dealing with exceptional cases, it is open to us to consider where these exceptional cases mostly are. I do not think that they are to be found among the smallholders. They are like other farmers, they are always anxious to get a larger acreage; they always want a farm larger than the farm they occupy now. The small holding is a stepping stone to something better. Smallholders under the Small Holdings Act who are on land owned by the Crown and the county councils consist mainly of people who do not expect to remain, or indeed do not contemplate remaining permanently on their holdings. All that they want is complete fairness of treatment while they are there, and that their small holdings will not be grouped together once more in large farms. They will go on just as before. They will not come to the Minister or the corporation or to anybody else to ask for money on mortgage. Then you come to the second category, the comparatively small farmers, who may have other interests, and who in some parts of the country are engaged in the culture, for instance, of flowers and the like, where 2101 a large acreage does not matter. I think that it is probable in this category there may be a good many cases where applications will be made cither to the banks or to the corporation for advances. When you come to the larger farmers, you are more likely to meet with the kind of grievances described by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and with the cases which, it is hoped under this Bill, may be met. If that really is a fair description of the kind of demand that will be made for these advances, let us next consider how the advances are to be made and on what principles.
It is clear that under the Bill it will be impossible to work this Corporation unless the Government and the Corporation adhere to the principle of having one-third margin of safety for all advances. If that margin of safety were reduced, the interest would have to go up to such a level as to make it not worth while. In every case of purchase, somehow or other the tenant has to find himself one-third of the gross value of his farm. Where is he going to find it? He may find it amongst his friends; he may have it in his own savings; there may be other means, which are not known to the general public, whereby he can raise enough money for the purpose. But he is to get only two-thirds from the corporation, and the interest which he is to pay to the corporation for that advance will be no less than he would have to pay to the banks. The only difference between them is that the advance which he gets from the bank can never be given on a permanent basis, while the advance from the corporation will be on a permanent basis. He will be secured. I said on the Second Beading of this Bill that I did not think that it would be a great advantage to the farmers. But I can see some advantage in the case which I have specified; it will be welcomed by some farmers who are being compelled to buy their own farms. I give to the Minister such credit as he deserves for having introduced in this portion of the Bill an element of real advantage to the disturbed farmer. Having said that, it is all that I can say in favour of the proposal. It shows that there is something in it. It is not going to be very cheap, but it will ease the minds of certain individuals and lead to a small number of advances being made, but it cannot have a general 2102 application, and will have no bearing whatever on our general system.
The best way of examining this Bill and all proposals of this kind is to ask what effect it will have on agriculture as a whole. I venture to say that it will have practically no effect at all. It will certainly grant ease in certain exceptional cases, but as far as agriculture as a whole is concerned, it will leave things very much as they were before. When we come to a later stage of the Bill, we may have to discuss the financial bearings of this scheme in respect to credit for working capital accommodation, but I would like to point out, in passing, that it is impossible for the whole of these advances to be made with the margin of one-third, without it drying up the credit that the occupier will have on his freehold. There will be nothing left on which he can raise money. He may have to turn to the second portion of the Bill, and deal with his chattel mortgage, but, as far as Hs farm is concerned, this will be the end of his tether; he will be able to get no further assistance, and he is not likely to get that assistance cheaply. If the Minister can give some assurance that will, either through co-operative societies or some other method which appeals to the farming mind, ease the burden in regard to that one-third payment in cash, he will take a great step forward, not only in settling people on the land, but in leaving those who are there to attend with unembarrassed minis to the land that they occupy. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not regard this scheme as an alternative to the co-operative scheme, nor as a solution of the whole problem. If he can combine it with the co-operative scheme, it will be of some use.
§ Mr. RILEY
There is one aspect of this Amendment which has not been given adequate attention. That aspect is the justification of Parliament seeking to legislate to afford facilities to people to secure private property at the expense of the State. The Minister made a rather extraordinary admission. He said it was quits true that the main purpose of this Bill was to defeat nationalisation. It is an extraordinary statement in that it indicates political bias with regard to a Measure of supposed general national importance.
Is it political bias to be against nationalisation, but not political bias to be in favour of it?
§ Mr. RILEY
It is political bias either one way or the other, if the object is purely of a political character and not of a national character. I have always understood that the purpose of this Bill is not the question either of nationalisation or private ownership, but the improvement of agriculture. The purpose, as I understood it, of a Credits Bill, which has been in the air for years and years, is not to afford means to enable occupiers to become owners of their farms, but to develop agriculture. We have learned, however, that that is not the purpose of this Bill, but that its purpose is to defeat nationalisation. It may or may not be desirable that occupying tenants should become the owners of their farms; that is a debatable point. What I submit is that Parliament is not justified in using national income and the common purse in order to enable people to become owners of private property. Upon what grounds can it be justified that any Government has a right to call upon the general taxpayers—because this is what this Bill does—to enable a small number of people to become owners of private property? A remarkable statement was made in Committee on this Bill, and it was confirmed in the speech of the Minister. He said that this paragraph was the main feature of this part of the Bill. On the Committee stage my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) referred to a statement made by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope), who had said that something between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 would be required under this Bill during the next three years for the purpose of these mortgages for the purchase of land. The hon. Member for Hillsborough said:The hon. and gallant Baronet seems to suggest that £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 will be required in respect of one point for which we require an Amendment, that is, the Section of the Bill which deals entirely with the financing of land purchase.The hon. Baronet, the Member for Rye, then said:Yes, I do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C), 12th June, 1928; cols. 10–11.]2104 What is involved in this proposal, which this Amendment is opposing, is a part of the Bill which the Minister admits, and which was admitted in Committee, would involve probably £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 during the next three years for advances for the purchase of land. There is no difference of opinion as to Parliament doing anything it can to encourage credit combinations or to afford credits for the improvement of land and better cultivation, and on this side of the House we say that by every means we should encourage occupiers and cultivators, and even owners, to put money into the improvement of the land. We say it is no part of the duty of the State to provide money to facilitate a mere change of ownership. If people want to buy property it is their own concern, and they ought not to come to this House for a subsidy. It has been pointed out that this Bill involves a loss of £12,000,000 to the State, and there is no justification for such a policy.
On the general question of the desire for credit facilities for the purchase of land, I agree with the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) that there is no doubt whatever that a number of farmers probably want to buy the farms which they occupy, but, judging by experience, the overwhelming number of farmers and smallholders have shown no desire to become owners. My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has quoted the experience of the 1919 Act, Of 30,000 people who became smallholders only some 500 availed themselves of the facilities to acquire their holdings. The Minister said that circumstances then were different, but what has happened under the Act of 1926? How many persons have applied to purchase their holdings since 1926, with all the facilities which were afforded to them? I venture to prophesy that it has not been more than 100. In the six years from 1908 to 1914 14,000 tenants were settled—tenants, not owners. That was at the rate of 2,000 per annum. Since 1919 they have been settled at the rate of 3,000 per annum.
§ Mr. RILEY
The argument of the Minister earlier in the Debate was that the conditions under the old Act did not 2105 encourage people to become purchasers, but now we have the new conditions, and I submit that the experience is still the same, that is, that very few desire to purchase their holdings. Therefore, I say, the House is not justified in providing State money to facilitate the exchange of property when that money could be better devoted to the purposes of cultivation.
Mr. ROY WILSON
I would like to deal with some of the remarks advanced in support of this Amendment by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton), and the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley). I will deal first with the rather astonishing remarks of the hon. Member for Dewsbury. He spent quite a lot of time in making a violent protest against any effort on the part of the Government to assist people who require to purchase their property. I wonder if he and those who think with him have completely forgotten the Wheatley Act, the Act of his own party, subsidising houses in order to enable people to acquire private property. [Interruption.] It was not only municipal authorities who were helped; private people were subsidised in the same way. The remarks of the three hon. Members very largely cancel themselves out. The hon. Member for Don Valley said that this Bill was going to be no good to the farmer, and that very little advantage would be taken of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Norfolk said we should see a large number of sales, and that a large number of persons would take advantage of the Bill, but he also went on to say that the result would be bad for the farmer. I submit that the farmer is much the best judge of whether the results are going to be good or bad. At any rate, one thing clearly emerges, and that is that the Labour party have made it apparent to the House, and I hope to the country, that they are not in favour of doing anything to help the small farmer who wants to obtain his farm under the provisions of this Bill. I am quite sure that when that is known those members of the farming community who have saved a little money and want to take advantage of this Bill will know exactly where they stand in relation to the Labour party.
2106 A most important thing in connection with this Bill is that it provides that a borrower who can put up one-third of the value of his farm can take advantage of the facilities to be offered by the Agricultural Corporation to obtain a loan over a period up to 60 years to enable him to purchase that farm. This facility is unique. No financial institution, no loan corporation and no private people will make advances against mortgage for a definite and fixed period of 60 years. Those who are able and willing to take advantage of this Bill are getting a very material advantage, getting something which is quite new in this country, and that is a long-term loan to enable them to acquire their property. That is undoubtedly going to be of considerable help to a fair number of people engaged in agriculture. It is obvious that this Measure will not benefit the man who bought his farm at the top price and already has an advance from his bank or somewhere else, and I do not think it is designed to do it, but at any rate it is going to be of considerable assistance to those in the other category which I have mentioned.
Personally, I should like to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture upon bringing forward this Bill. The Amendment, if passed, would undoubtedly kill that side of it which provides for long-term loans, and I am very pleased to think that the Government, by this Bill, and on what I regard as sound and prudent financial lines, are giving an impetus to what is a great feature of Conservative policy, namely, helping those people who desire to do so to obtain a little bit of land. That will help to consolidate not the position of our own party but that growing body of men and women who, because they have a stake in the country, because they have a little bit of England for their own, will take far more interest in politics and will take a wider and saner view of the problems of the country.
§ Mr. MORRIS
The hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Roy Wilson) has pointed out that if this Amendment be accepted it will have the effect of defeating the object of the Bill. I dare say that may be true, and if it were true that would be a reason, as far as I am concerned, for supporting the Amendment. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the 2107 Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) that there are limited advantages attaching to the Bill. There is an advantage, for instance, so far as the Bill will give the farmer who is a borrower greater security with regard to his loan; but I would commend to the attention of the hon. Member for Lichfield the views of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley), who has made a very vital objection to this Bill, and whose views upon this subject are entitled to the very greatest respect.
§ Mr. MORRIS
It is provided that there shall be priority to the banks in regard to any advances made upon the land, and the hon. and learned Member has pointed out that if this paragraph is deleted it will have the effect of doing away with the second part of the Bill, and he suggested that that would be a very great service to the farmer. As the hon. and learned Member has pointed out, the Bill as it stands is not merely an agricultural credit Bill.
Mr. ROY WILSON
May I ask whether it is not the fact that if a mortgage were executed on land upon which a farmhouse were built the mortgage would not also include the farmhouse?
§ Mr. MORRIS
If you make a mortgage upon the land and then subsequently give a charge to a bank, the effect, as far as the mortgage is concerned, is that all the rights are done away with. That is the argument of the hon. and learned Member, and it is a vital argument. The result of this Bill will be that it will be difficult for the farmer to obtain credit from the bank, and there is no guarantee that he is going to obtain a two-thirds advance. The bank may only advance one-third, or whatever proportion of the two-thirds it thinks fit. The effect of this Amendment would be to throw back the second part of the Bill, it may be for reconsideration, and we might then have a proper agricultural credits Bill brought forward rather than a Bill which will have the effect of drying up agricultural credits altogether.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I would like to repudiate the suggestion that this is a wrecking Amendment. It is not intended 2108 to be a wrecking Amendment. Our view is that unless paragraph (a) is left out, the advantages of paragraph (b) will be considerably minimised. If you are going to put the State behind small farmers who want to buy their farms, you will cause them to mortgage what little capital they have got, and they will check their expenditure upon improvements and the real development of farming in order to pay off those mortgages. It seems to me that paragraph (a) will really interfere with what is presumably the main purpose of the Bill—apart from its political purposes—and that is an increase of farming and better farming. In the course of the discussion the Minister and a number of hon. Members have said that for the average farmer the tenant-farmer system is the best, but that there are some farmers who want to buy their farms. It was suggested they might want to buy them in order to keep a roof over their heads, and from the Liberal benches it has been suggested that it was desirable to afford tenant farmers an opportunity of acquiring their farms, because many of them have been associated with their land even longer than have the present owners of that land.
My point of view is that it is no business of the State to take account of the desires of the farmers to buy their holdings unless it can be definitely shown, without a shadow of doubt, that the result of creating a multiplicity of small owner occupiers will be to increase production in agriculture. No attempt has been made to prove anything of the kind. We were told a moment or two ago that farmers would be opposed to nationalisation, and that it would be a bad thing for the farming industry, the suggestion being that we are proposing, by implication, in this Amendment that the State should carry out the whole industry of farming. We are not proposing anything of the kind. What we propose is that the State should be the owner of the land. We have been told that nationalisation would be bad for farming. That may be so or it may not be so, but, at any rate, we should be told why the national ownership of land would make farming worse than it is to-day.
Surely farming at the present moment is bad enough under private enterprise. You have tried private enterprise for a great many years, with the result that 2109 the most important industry in the country is in a deplorable state of decay, and farmers have had to come to the State in the first instance to be relieved of 50 per cent. of their rates, then 75 per cent., and now 100 per cent. The agricultural community have obtained other advantages from the State, and now they are asking the State to back them up in the purchase of their farms in order that they may acquire private property on principles other than those of private enterprise. Private enterprise has brought the agricultural industry to its present position. The difficulties of agriculture are not going to be solved by private enterprise any more than the other larger questions of industry. All our big industrialists have thrown competition and private enterprise overboard. That is admitted on every hand, and the last refuge of private enterprise and individualism has practically gone. Take, for example, the small shopkeeper. Your small tobacconist does not blend his own tobacco and make his own cigars and snuff as he used to do in the old days, and he is now simply the agent for some multiple firm.
We have been told that the only salvation of agriculture is the multiplicity of owner occupiers, but my view is that the problems of agriculture cannot be satisfactorily settled on national lines and they must be looked at from an international point of view. At the present moment, we depend upon foreign countries for the greater part of our food supplies, and why do we not cultivate the land up to the point of producing all we require in the way of food supplies? According to the law of supply and demand it would be cheaper to produce our own food. In the Argentine and other large food-producing countries, you have horizontal cultivation as against vertical cultivation in this country, and that makes production cheaper abroad because it involves less labour, and there are vast areas of land which are almost unlimited. In these circumstances, it is possible to leave nature to provide the chemicals free without the cost of manuring which is necessary in the case of cultivation in this country. The result is that the cost of production per acre in this country is higher than it is in Canada or Australia.
2110 Let me take the other point of view. Where you have small cultivation and individualism in full blast as you have in Belgium, Holland and France, there is more vertical cultivation than is necessary in this country and the man-power required there is higher than in this country. If you are going to try to solve the question of the production of foodstuffs in this country by means of small proprietorships and small methods, you will have to make absolute slaves of everybody concerned with the cultivation of the land. You can only get vertical cultivation upon those principles if it is going to be economical. That is the reason why we are opposed to the idea of maintaining the system of small proprietorship and small cultivation, and that is why we believe in the public ownership of the land. Nothing has been said to justify the statement that nationalisation is always bad for industry, including agriculture, and there has never been any attempt to justify that statement.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
If my views are correct, the Labour party did support ideal small holdings, but they do not wart smallholders to be nothing more than gardeners.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I have studied this subject, and I do not agree that working farmers only are entitled to speak on this subject.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
What I suggest is that before the hon. Member speaks on this question he should know something about it, and not speak merely from a sentimental point of view. It is clear that the hon. Member does not know much about the subject when he says that farming is only gardening.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I am very much concerned for the future of agriculture and when I use the term "gardening" I mean that you have to pay such individual attention to a small holding that what you are doing is practically indistinguishable from gardening. You cannot solve a great industrial problem 2111 upon those lines, and you must get down to bigger ideas and bigger facts, recognising that you have to compete with foreign countries and with foreign sources of food supply. Consequently, you must have better machinery as well as co-operative methods, and a better marketing system. It is useless to have small pieces of land to cultivate. What is required is larger farming under conditions where experts and people who really understand the problem from a large point of view will have some control. The Minister of Agriculture suggests that the purpose of this Bill is not to advantage British agriculture but to forestall the policy of the Labour party for the nationalisation of the land.
The hon. Member is quite wrong in saying that I ever said the object of this Bill was to forestall the Labour policy of the nationalisation of the land.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
The right hon. Gentleman said that his policy was to create a multiplicity of owner-occupiers, and that would forestall the Labour policy of the nationalisation of the land.
The hon. Member is confusing the Debate which took place on Part I of the Measure with the general purposes of the Bill. Part I is concerned with providing the capital for land purchase and Part II is framed with the object of providing working capital. Both those sections are framed with the object of helping British agriculture, and there is no foundation whatever for the hon. Member putting in my mouth words to the effect that I have stated that this Bill was not framed for the purpose of helping agriculture.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I think the last remarks made by the Minister of Agriculture constitute the best argument I have heard for the rejection of paragraph (a). The right hon. Gentleman says that the purpose of this Bill is to provide working capital and capital for improvements, but paragraph (a) does nothing of the kind, because it provides capital for people to buy private property. What we have put forward is a sincere Amendment which aims at the elimination of something that is quite unnecessary and undesirable, and which would mean the holding up of capital in 2112 the development of farming and the agricultural industry generally.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
We have now had a long Debate on this particular Amendment, and I think it is just as well to point out at this stage that while some hon. Members claim that this Measure is going to be for the benefit of the farmer, there has been no evidence forthcoming from any part of the country showing that there is any enthusiasm amongst farmers for this Bill. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) has stated that farmers have written to him saying that they would like to know when the provisions of this Bill are going to become operative, but there has been no enthusiastic voice from the general body of organised farmers welcoming the provisions of this Bill. That is why I feel that the Amendment we are now putting forward is one which ought to receive support, because it will remove one of our main objections to this Measure. I observed that, after the Second Reading, the Council of Agriculture for Scotland debated whether they should ask the Government to apply the provisions of the Bill to agriculture in Scotland, and, after a somewhat heated debate, by a majority of 14 to four, they prayed that the provisions of the Bill should not be made applicable to Scotland. When I see how the two parts of the Bill will work together, I cannot fail to appreciate the wisdom and sound sense of the farmers expressed through the Council of Agriculture for Scotland.
What are the facts? The hon. Member for Stone said earlier in the Debate on this Amendment that the farmer really does not want to purchase his land, but that what he wants to do is to be able to continue on sound lines of farming tenancy. That is probably quite true, and, if it be the case, I cannot for the life of me understand what is the great objection to a policy of nationalising the land, because I cannot find any evidence that the nation, in its ownership of Crown land up to the present, has proved itself to be a bad landlord; in fact, all the evidence that I have had from Crown tenants is that they are very well satisfied with the conditions under which they farm their land. Moreover, as I am reminded by my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley), the same applies very largely to the conditions of 2113 farming tenancy under the county-councils. But the strong point that I want to make is this: Hon. Members opposite have told us again and again, when we have been debating the question of the tenancy of privately owned land or the tenancy of Crown or nationalised land, that in the past the landlord has never been able to obtain more than a net result of from 2 to 2½ per cent. upon the capital value of his land which is let for farming, and I see that the Noble Lord opposite (Marquess of Titchfield), who comes of a fairly ancient stock of landowners, agrees cordially with that remark. If all the change that is to be made under this Clause of the Bill is to enable farmers to buy their land and to farm it under conditions different from those at present obtaining, when it is claimed that the landowner only gets a net return of 2 to 2½ per cent., how can it be argued that the farmer is going to benefit? What is going to happen?
The farmer is going undoubtedly, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton), to be pressed more and more to buy land. When the landowner is faced with the opportunity of this Bill, and will be able to say to his farmer tenants, "You are now able to obtain a certain amount of credit," estates will come more and more into the market and farmers will have to buy. And on what terms? First of all, they will only be able to obtain 66⅔ per cent. of the value appraised by the Land Corporation, and they will have to find the other 33⅓ per cent. In respect of the advance of two-thirds, they will have to pay, including the small sinking fund provision, round about 5¾ per cent. That is on two-thirds of the capital required to buy their holding, and, in addition to that, they will have to raise, before they can get that advance from the Corporation, the remaining one-third from their own resources or from supplementary sources. If they have, as will be the case with the great majority of those who are forced to buy their holdings, to raise that one-third at interest from some other source, they will not get it at 5¾ per cent. If the rate fixed for the advance of two-thirds be as high as 5c¾ per cent., and they have to raise the other third from other sources, they will have to pay anything from 6½ to 7½ per cent. for the rest of their capital, and, even if they are 2114 able to put up £500 or £1,000 of their own capital on a holding of 100 to 200 acres, and then have to borrow a part of the remaining one-third of the value of the holding, what will be the position? They will then have to do what the landlord has done for them in the past, namely, provide all the improvements and the capital required for developing the holding generally, and they will have to borrow for that purpose also. They will have to borrow under the second part of the scheme, and they will have to go to the banks.
Does the hon. Member contemplate the raising of the one-third on a second mortgage charge, or would he not consider, from his very wide experience, that co-operation was the only way in which that could be done?
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I am all in favour of the co-operative system, but at present I am criticising a Bill which contains this paragraph which we are seeking to delete. If the Bill were one setting up a co-operative system of credit with anything approaching enterprising methods, I should strongly support it. We have never argued on these benches against a sound system of co-operative credit for use in agriculture, but that is not what is going to happen under this Bill. We asked permission of Mr. Speaker to-day to get incorporated in the Bill a Clause which would give the Minister power to make regulations, but we were ruled out of order. We have to deal with the facts as they will operate under the Clause, and I do not believe that as the result of the passing of this Bill any farmer will be better off: on the contrary, I believe he will be much worse off than he is at the present time. He certainly will not be able to get the capital that he gets now, under certain conditions, from the landlord at a really low rate of interest. In other words, where there has been a good landlord, the provision and improvement of buildings has been done at such comparatively low rates that the farmer will not be able to do it at those rates under a scheme of this kind. Account must also be taken of the fact that he will then require working capital for stocking his farm, for carrying him over from the point where he begins to raise his produce until he can dispose of it on the market, that he will have to 2115 give the banks a charge upon his growing produce, his stock, or whatever he has raised on his holding, and that he will then be bound hand and foot as he never has been before, as a result of the passing of this Bill with these two things interlocked as they are bound to be. The hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) made a very severe criticism upon the Bill. I do not agree very often with his views as to how agriculture should be organised and given remedial treatment, but I am bound to say that there is not a word that he has uttered about the financial fallacies of this scheme with which I do not cordially agree.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
But the hon. and learned Member will observe that, while I am against Part I, I agree with his view that the two parts together will be mutually destructive. If you have Part II of the Bill working, as it is going to work, through the banks, it will help to destroy much of the effect of Part I, and vice versa. As a fact, no real remedy for the position of agriculture is to be found simply by going on with this Measure and pouring out public funds with out a sound scheme of administration. If the farmer is going to be able to get his capital cheaply, if he is going to be able to get his working capital in such a way that it will be kept free for his use in the very beet way for the development of his holding, I can see no remedy for him at present without the first step of bringing the land under public control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) was a little caustic about that during his speech, and I can quite understand that, for I remember him saying, in the early days of this controversy, how he felt that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was rushing into a policy of land nationalisation in the new Liberal policy. If, however, this matter is to be dealt with from the point of view of giving the farmer reasonable conditions in his tenancy, I can see no remedy at all except the State becoming the landlord and, while helping the farmer to cultivate, securing also that there is proper cultivation 2116 by the tenant. The other point that I want to make is that, with regard to working capital, there is no really sound scheme except a good development of co-operative trading, but the Government, apparently, will not take any advice upon this and bring it in. I have here an extract from the Report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India, in which the Commissioners say:We have no hesitation in recording our belief that the greatest hope for the salvation of the rural masses from the crushing burden of debt rests in the growth and spread of a healthy, well organised co-operative movement, based upon the careful education and systematic training of the villagers themselves. Apart altogether from the question of debt, co-operative credit provides the only satisfactory means of financing agriculture on sound lines.If the Royal Commission has formed that conclusion in regard to agriculture in India, although of course I agree that the actual circumstances vary very much, I think it is equally applicable to this country. After all, if the farmer will not help himself in regard to co-operative credit, he cannot be saved. One of the difficulties in this country has been to get the farmer to stand sufficiently upon his own feet in his local community and agree to act co-operatively, I believe that until, by education and propaganda he can be got to act on those lines, there can be no sound scheme of financing agriculture But there would be some hope of getting the farmer to agree in that if the initial step could be taken that we propose, that is to say, if, instead of going in for a large extension of occupying ownership, the land were regarded as the property of the nation. The land is there for the purpose of providing food for the people, and that food ought to be produced on the best and most economic basis by the cultivation of the land to the highest and best extent by tenants who are tenants of the Crown, if you like, or the nation, whether the Crown be named as the landlord or not. If these two things can be provided—namely, in the first place, reasonable security for the good farmer as a tenant under the State, and, secondly, a proper mobilisation of the product of agriculture so that it can be used as a basis for co-operative credit—that will provide some reasonable solution for the problems of agriculture. To pretend that it can be done in the way that this Clause proposes, by advancing 2117 money on mortgage through this corporation, is only playing with the business, and is no remedy at all.
§ Mr. KELLY
We heard from the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) of the enthusiasm of the farmers for this Measure, but I noticed that when he sent for information he was careful not to send the whole Bill to the farmers, and particularly did he leave out this portion. He sent them the last page of the Bill, showing the date when it was expected that the Act would come into operation.
The enthusiasm of the farmers is due to the fact that they believe that there is something more in the Bill than the Bill contains——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We cannot enter into a discussion of the general scheme of agriculture. I would remind the hon. Member that this is the Report stage, and that we must confine ourselves to the actual Amendments.
§ Mr. KELLY
I hope I shall adhere to your ruling. The Amendment upon which I am attempting to speak is the one to leave out paragraph (a), which deals with the making of loans on mortgages on agricultural land, and we believe that it is not to the advantage of agriculture that this money should now be devoted to the purchase of land, thus burdening
§ the farmers with the enormous cost of providing interest for the period of years that is stated in another part of the Measure. I am perfectly convinced, from what I know of some agricultural districts, that the people there are not aware of the position created by this paragraph. Many of them are not only under the impression that these proposals relate to the making of loans on mortgages on agricultural land, but they are hoping for assistance in the other direction, and, if these proposals could be so applied as to enable loans to be made and credits to be granted for the purpose of assisting agriculture, I think it would be all to the good. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), in referring to what he thought was in the mind of the Mover and the Seconder, took advantage of something they had not said. I would certainly prefer, rather than burdening these people with a seeming ownership by means of these facilities, that they should be the tenants of land owned by the State. I hope for the sake of agriculture that this Amendment will be carried and that, instead of assisting the landowners, we may assist agriculture.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 116.2121
|Division No. 272.]||AYES.||[6.33 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cope, Major Sir William|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Couper, J. B.|
|Albery, Irving James||Brown. Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Layton)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Buchan, John||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bullock, Captain M.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Burman, J. B.||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Balniel, Lord||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Carver, Major W. H.||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cassels, J. D.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Beckett, Sir Garvase (Leeds, N.)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Dixey, A. C.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Drewe, C.|
|Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Berry, Sir George||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Bethel, A.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Chapman, Sir S.||Ellis, R. G.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Charteris, Brigadier-General I.||England, Colonel A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Christie, J. A.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Clarry, Reginald George||Fade, Sir Bertram A.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Forrest, W.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Frece, Sir Walter de|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Cooper, A. Duff||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Lougher, Lewis||Sandon, Lord|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Gates, Percy||Lumley, L. R.||Savery, S. S.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gower, Sir Robert||MacIntyre, Ian||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Grace, John||Macmillan, Captain H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Margesson, Captain D.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Harland, A.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Nuttall, Ellis||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Oakley, T.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Waddington, R.|
|Holt, Captain H. P.||Owen, Major G.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Penny, Frederick George||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Preston, William||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Radford, E. A.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Hutchison, Sir G. A. Clark||Raine, Sir Walter||Wells, S. R.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Ramsden, E.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rentoul, G. S.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Ropner, Major L.||Withers, John James|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George H.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Rye, F. G.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Long, Major Eric||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Looker, Herbert William||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Captain Viscount Curzon and Major|
|The Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dalton, Hugh||Hirst, G. H.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Day, Harry||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Dennison, R.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gardner, J. P.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gibbins, Joseph||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gillett, George M.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barnes, A.||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Barr, J.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Greenall, T.||Kennedy, T.|
|Briant, Frank||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Broad, F. A.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lansbury, George|
|Bromfield, William||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bromley, J.||Groves, T.||Lee, F.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Grundy, T. W.||Lindley, F. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lowth, T.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lunn, William|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hardie, George D.||Mackinder, W.|
|Compton, Joseph||Harris, Percy A.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Connolly, M.||Hayes, John Henry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cove, W. G.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|March, S.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Montague, Frederick||Shinwell, E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Mosley, Oswald||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Murnin, H.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Naylor, T. E.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Smillie, Robert||Westwood, J.|
|Palin, John Henry||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Paling, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Snell, Harry||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Potts, John S.||Stephen, Campbell||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Purcell, A. A.||Sullivan, Joseph||Windsor, Walter|
|Riley, Ben||Sutton, J. E.||Wright, W.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Thurtle, Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Tinker, John Joseph||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charles|
|Sexton, James||Townend, A. E.||Edwards.|
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, at the end, to insert the words:(c) the making of loans to persons to be nominated by county councils for the pur-post of promoting pig, calf, and foal clubs.The House is probably aware of the nature of these clubs. They are really small mutual insurance agencies. They are nearly always confined to agricultural labourers and their wives and people in the same state of life who keep a pig for the purpose of feeding their families. As the loss of a pig would fall very heavily on the families, it is natural that they should be keen on banding together for the purpose of avoiding loss. If there have not been great losses, these mutual assistance societies are perfectly successful. There are similar societies for the purposes of foal clubs, and I understand in the North of England they have calf clubs, though that is not so general in the district from which I come. The starting of these societies is attended with considerable difficulty. If they start successfully, in a good year, they probably amass a considerable amount of money in subscriptions. I was hoping this Bill would give assistance to individual village societies, with a view to enabling them to start new clubs. Although conditions are fairly successful they are not nearly as numerous as they ought to be. The suggestion I put forward is that loans should be made under county council arrangements to suitable persons.
I am not very much enamoured of bringing in the county councils. I should be quite satisfied if parish or rural district councils had it in hand, but I see considerable difficulty in arranging to lend Government money to the individuals who at present are acting as treasurers in the villages, and for that 2122 reason I suggest county councils. The system of short-term credits will not be entirely suitable for this method because it will not be at all a suitable scheme to withdraw the money annually. What is wanted is a scheme whereby the money is lent during the life of the society, until it is wound up, when it would come back to the Government, or in this case the bank or the corporation that lends it. I can see the difficulty of fixing on the person the county council would employ to supervise this scheme, but they have started a kind of rural community council with a secretary, and he is the man who goes round the country and keeps in touch with urban life, and I certainly think he would be a suitable person.
I need hardly say that, like my hon. and gallant Friend, I have every sympathy with the object of helping these very useful clubs, but I do not think that Part I of the Bill is a suitable place in which to make this provision. The financing of a pig club is clearly more suitable for the local banks in the form of an agricultural charge or debenture, as in the case of industrial provident societies, than for the central mortgage corporation, which is concerned with long-term credits. These clubs do very useful work. They are not altogether easy to start, because they need a great deal of energy on the part of the secretaries and officials, and obviously, from experience which we have had in certain districts—I know that in Lincolnshire my hon. Friend has had experience—they are objects which should certainly be encouraged. There is provision already under Part II 2123 for the necessary credits. If a pig club registers itself under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, as it well can, it will come under Clause 14 and be able to negotiate with the bank for credit on the basis of a debenture as there provided. Therefore, though I fully sympathise with the object of my hon. and gallant Friend in bringing this question forward, I do not see that it is necessary to make any special provision, and it certainly is not a suitable matter to be dealt with under Part I of the Bill.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
I most unfortunately voted in favour of the last Amendment, and I intended to support the proposal of the Bill. I had the misfortune to get into the wrong Lobby. I am strongly in favour of the advantages which are provided under this scheme, and I do not see why a pig club should not be given the advantage which my
§ hon. and gallant Friend opposite wants to secure. Therefore, if he divides the House, I shall certainly support him.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I should like to ask the Minister of Agriculture a question. The difficulty is that these clubs have to register themselves, and can my right hon. Friend give any idea of the cost of registration?
I am afraid I cannot give any idea as to the cost of registration, but I understand that it is not a very heavy charge. I do not think that it ought to be beyond the powers of a pig club to find the necessary expenditure.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 244.2125
|Division No. 273.]||AYES.||[6.51 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, G. H.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Scurr, John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan Neath)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smillie, Robert|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lansbury, George||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawrence, Susan||Sutton, J. E.|
|Connolly, M.||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lindley, F. W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Day, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Dennison, R.||MacLaren, Andrew||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|England, Colonel A.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Forrest, W.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gardner, J. P.||March, S.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mosley, Oswald||Whiteley, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Murnin, H.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Owen, Major G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Paling, W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Potts, John S.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Purcell, A. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, George D.||Riley, Ben||Major Sir Archibald Sinclair and|
|Harris, Percy A.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Mr. Ernest Brown.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Albery, Irving James||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Ganzoni, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Gates, Percy||Penny, Frederick George|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Apsley, Lord||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Grace, John||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grant, Sir J. A.||Preston, William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Radford, E. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ramsden, E.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Hacking, Douglas H.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reid D. D. (County Down)|
|Berry, Sir George||Hamilton, Sir George||Remer, J. R.|
|Bethel, A.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Harland, A.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Haslam, Henry C.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rye, F. G.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hills, Major John Waller||Samuel, Samuel (W'dswerth, Putney)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hilton, Cecil||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sandon, Lord|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Buchan, John||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Burman, J. B.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Smithers, Waldron|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Iveagh, Countess of||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Lamb, J. Q.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Christie, J. A.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Templeton, W. P.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Long, Major Eric||Tinne, J. A.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Looker, Herbert William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lougher, Lewis||Waddington, R.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lumley, L. R.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Maclntyre, Ian||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Macmillan, Captain H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Couper, J. B.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Margesson, Captain D.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Dixey, A. C.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Withers, John James|
|Drewe, C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Ellis, R. G.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Flelden, E. B.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Captain Viscount Curzon and Major|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Nuttall, Ellis||The Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Oakley, T.|
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, to leave out paragraph (ii).
The House will observe that paragraph (ii) deals with the pledge which, apparently, the Minister was forced to make to the banks to constitute the loan corporation by a payment of £10,000 per annum for 10 years as a contribution towards the cost of the administration of the company. We submit that this provision in the Bill is really quite indefensible. If there was any grant required at all for the administration of the company, surely it ought to have been an annual grant, which could have been revised from year to year if the accounts of the corporation showed the grant was actually necessary. When you come to review the whole of the provisions of the Clause, it appears that this sum of £10,000 per annum, which is to be given as a free gift to the banks who will be the shareholders of the corporation, is really quite unjustifiable. Will the House please observe what this really means? Under the general finance of the scheme, the Minister has been forced to pledge himself or the Government that the Government will put up out of public funds within three years a sum equal to the total share capital subscribed of £650,000. It may go even up to £750,000 if the corporation actually proceeds to that capitalisation, but it must be £650,000 within three years. That £650,000 is to be completely free of interest for 60 years. In effect, therefore, the Government will be making a gift to the land corporation of somewhere in the nature of from £2,000,000 to £2,250,000 by way of interest over the 60 years. In addition to that, the Government are undertaking to underwrite at a cost of £62,500 the debentures to be issued by the land corporation. On top of that, they are undertaking to come to the help of the debenture issues at any time when they are on the market by promising to subscribe up to a maximum of £1,250,000.
I cannot help thinking that there is not a Member of the House who has any experience of finance at all who would not say, on examination of the accumulative effect of these financial provisions, that this Bill really is a bankers' protection Bill. They have got the best of the Minister on every point on which he tried to get them to meet him. I can see him 2128 almost cowering in a corner under the compelling influence of these capitalists of the great banks who are saying, "Unless you agree to this condition and to that condition, you may go and hang for all the help you will get in the agricultural credit scheme that you desire." The last straw in regard to this scheme is the proposal to give them £10,000 per annum as a free gift for 10 years, one year after the other. The more I look at this scheme, the more I think it is likely to be completely futile from the point of view of agriculture. There is no doubt that if it is worked to any extent, it will be very good from the point of view of the banks. The banks, it is true, are going to limit the interest they may enjoy on their share holdings in the land corporation to 5 per cent., but it is a very useful thing for the banks to have a certain 5 per cent. on £650,000 in this land corporation, and, in the event of any liquidation, to have that backed up by a free reserve, free of any interest charges, provided by the State. That is a very good thing, but why on top of that you should give them £10,000 per annum for administration expenses I cannot possibly imagine. I think the Minister ought now, after what we have said upstairs and upon the Second Reading, to be able to tell the House why it is necessary, in addition to all the other financial provisions of the Bill, to give the banks this £10,000 a year.
He is going to back their share capital with a reserve, he has promised to underwrite the debentures, and he has undertaken in the Bill to subscribe up to £1,250,000 of debentures if at any time they look like being a bit rocky on the market—I take it that is the main reason why you are making this promise—and why, in these circumstances, is it necessary to put up £10,000 per annum for administrative expenses? I could understand it better, of course, if, as a result of these various grants, the agriculturists were going to get a really low rate of interest on the loans. That is not so. The rate of interest, including a small charge for sinking fund, is round about 5⅝ to 5¾ per cent. Is that really a low rate? Is it a rate which is really justifiable when you are going to spend public money up to £2,500,000 as a subsidy?
We have had no justification at all for this grant from the Government. It indi- 2129 cates how completely they are in the grip of the banks in this matter. It only remains for me to say that I am persuaded that if they had really wanted to get money upon a basis like this with the aid of public credit, they could have got better terms from other banking institutions than, apparently, have been conceded by the Big Five, minus one. I asked the Minister in Committee—but I got no answer to the question—whether or not the Government had actually made any overtures in this matter to anybody else besides the Big Five. I wonder if he will answer that question to-night. It was not answered on previous occasions. Did he approach the issuing houses or any of the other credit houses in the City? Were the results of the conversations in that direction, if any, unfavourable? Has he been to any other banks besides the four banks who are to become shareholders in the proposed land corporation? I should like to know, because I am quite certain that, having regard to the other three provisions to which I have referred—a reserve of £650,000 free of interest for 60 years, a promise to underwrite debentures to the amount of £62,500, and a promise to come in with subscriptions up to £1,250,000 at any time the Minister can be persuaded by the land corporation that the state of the quotation of the debentures is such that they want a little strengthening—having regard to these three things, there ought to be no justification for the free grant of £10,000 per annum for 10 years. If all these things, cumulatively, could have been offered to other financial houses than the four banks which are to be the shareholders of this land corporation, I am persuaded that it might have been possible to get better terms elsewhere for the loans to farmers on their land purchases.
It is not possible within the terms of the Amendment to have a wider discussion about this point, but I suppose I have said enough to convince Members on all sides of the House of the position of the Minister. He is really the victim of the big banks in this country. He had about three years of hard labour in trying to give birth to this scheme, and all that he has been able to introduce is, apparently, what I described on the Second Reading as a bankers' protection Bill, in which the banks are to be 2130 put in a completely impregnable position with the assistance of credits from public funds. I hope, therefore, first, that the Minister will give us some explanation along the lines I have indicated, and, secondly, that the House will not accept the retention of these words in the Bill. If they are to remain in the Bill, then we ought to have a complete statement of accounts, year by year, from the Corporation laid before this House to show whether the whole or part of the £10,000 per annum is really required.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend has said that the right hon. Gentleman was a victim of the banks. I want rather to put it the other way. I think the nation is the victim of the right hon. Gentleman. It seems to me that the past 2½ years and more of negotiation have at least gone to prove that private enterprise, boasted of so frequently, has proved infinitely stronger than the nation. The right hon. Gentleman, first, was unable to provide a scheme of credits without the banks, and, secondly, he found himself so weak that the banks were always able to overcome any opposition that he put up. This scheme has been under consideration at least since early in 1926. In the King's Speech of 1926 there was a reference, saying that the Government were considering a scheme for agricultural credits. We find that in 1928 they have been able to produce a scheme, but during the whole of these 2½ years the banks have held up the right hon. Gentleman, and, in spite of all the questions and influence and pressure that Parliament has brought to bear, he has been unable until very recently to produce a scheme. Now we find a scheme has been produced on terms that have been laid down by the four banks who are participating in this land corporation scheme. My hon. Friend referred to the various financial gifts and advances that are to be made before this corporation can be set up, and if ever there was a scheme which indicated the weakness of private enterprise in any form it seems to me that this is the scheme.
The agricultural industry are in difficulties because private land ownership is failing to supply the necessary credit. 2131 They come to the Government for a nationalised credit scheme. The Government of the day, being Conservative and refusing to believe in the nation as a whole, then referred the scheme to another body of private enterprise people, as expressed through the various banks. The banks themselves said, as private enterprise always does, "Yes, we are prepared to provide the service at a price." They laid down a price. First, the Government must provide £750,000 for 60 years free of interest. That was their first condition. Then the Government must undertake to underwrite the debentures at another cost of £62,500. Then the banks say to the right hon. Gentleman, "Even that is not enough. You must provide £10,000 per annum for ten years for administrative purposes, or we do not undertake the scheme." That is a pure gift from the taxpayers to these banking organisations, or they will not undertake the scheme at all. Then the right hon. Gentleman comes along and declares that if the corporation so fails to organise their business efficiently, or for any reason they make a bad bargain here or there, and the debentures begin to fall, then again the State can add to the funds at the disposal of the Corporation.
It seems to me that while the right hon. Gentleman may have been confronted by very formidable opponents he must be ready and willing to confess that private enterprise, whether it be the banks or any other section of the community, is only prepared to render a national service as long as the nation is willing to guarantee them a profit, and as long as the nation is prepared to provide the price. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) said, during his remarks on the last Amendment but one, when referring to the question of land ownership, that the one thing he was sure about was that nobody wanted to nationalise the land. It may have been true, but he did not advance any arguments in favour of that statement. I suppose that now he will be ready to tell us that the one thing that the nation would not tolerate for a moment would be the nationalisation of the land. So long as the nation is willing to leave them with sufficient power to exploit it, at any rate the bankers do 2132 not want nationalisation of the banks. If the only service that the four banks can render to the State and to agriculture is at such a price as is embodied in this Bill, it would seem that the nation could do at least as well for itself as the banks are doing for the nation or agriculture.
The financial gifts and promises and arrangements, and the guarantees to this Corporation, excluding this £10,000 per annum for 10 years, ought to be sufficient to induce the banks to come to the assistance of agriculture and to co-operate with the State. On financial grounds it is grossly immoral that we should provide £10,000 a year for 10 years. On moral grounds the bankers ought never to ask for it. The profits that they have made over a large number of years, and are continuing to make, warrant every Member of the House in calling upon them to show a better example. On no conceivable grounds can the right hon. Gentleman justify this gift, unless, as before, he talks about owner-occupiers growing up into Tories and uses any other argument that does not affect the point. It is the honest belief of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that the more owner-occupiers there are the more Tories there are.
I hope that when the Minister replies he will not attempt to ride off on some irrelevant side issue, but will justify the demands of the bankers and justify his strength or weakness when he was confronted by a section of people connected with private enterprise who were called upon to assist in a national problem. It seems to me that the various gifts made to this Corporation should be sufficient without the £10,000 for 10 years. Because of that fact, and because of the knowledge that the present Government have played such an active part in other industries, in which they have destroyed the livelihood of tens of thousands of men and deprived the women and children of that without which they cannot have a civilised life, I cannot allow a proposal of this description to pass without a protest. The reply given to a question to-day indicates that as a result of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government one county alone is losing this year £6,900,000 in wages.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I accept your Ruling. My point was, of course, that while as a result of the Government's action the livelihood of tens of thousands of people in one industry has been destroyed, there is no justification whatever for the Government giving tens of thousands, and indeed millions of pounds to a branch of private enterprise whose object is to make profit rather than to render any service.
Hon. Members opposite have suggested that the banks have forced a nefarious bargain with the Government in connection with Part I of the scheme. The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) asked whether, when we saw that the banks were asking for terms which in his opinion were excessive, we approached other financial houses and considered alternatives. Of course, before we went into the scheme at all, we considered all alternatives, and we came to the conclusion that the bodies who were in by far the best position to organise and carry out a scheme of this kind, with whatever Government assistance was necessary, were the Clearing House banks. They have a great organisation; they are in touch with the agricultural industry throughout the country by means of their branches; and if they could not help us nobody else could—nobody else could do the work as cheaply or as efficiently as they could. Therefore, though we naturally considered all alternatives, even the alternative of hon. Members opposite—a State scheme—we turned them down in the initial stage in favour of a scheme run by the Clearing House banks. We approached the Bankers' Clearing House, and, as the hon. Member quite rightly said, we had long and very anxious discussions. The representatives of the banks who met me on certain occasions did not force this scheme upon me, but they convinced me that unless we gave adequate support to the scheme it would be no use.
Even with this adequate support, the hon. Member for Hillsborough says, the scheme is going to be so costly to the borrower that he does not think it is worth while. Clearly, without that support, without using for the scheme the machinery of the banks, the coat to the 2134 borrower would be very much higher. The scheme on any basis other than through the medium of the Bankers' Clearing House would, on the hon. Gentleman's own argument, be put absolutely out of court because of the expense to the borrower. From the first we have had to find a solution for this problem of providing this long-term accommodation at a lower rate of interest than the farmers' normal banking channels are now offering. We had to strengthen the new corporation in which the great banks will take part.
I want to answer the suggestion that this scheme is a scheme for the protection and enrichment of the banks. It is nothing of the kind. In the Articles of Association, as provided in Clause 2, we have to provide for restricting to 5 per cent. the dividends on the share capital of the company, and the participating banks have agreed that in the case of this initial capital, which is going to be put up pari passu with the Government's advance, up to £750,000, the dividend will be non-cumulative. The whole of the benefit of this scheme, therefore, goes to the borrower. What we have in effect done is to arrange for the banks to build a canal through which credits shall flow for certain agricultural purposes. We are going to make a fixed payment for the building of that canal, irrespective of the volume of credit which will flow down it. Whatever success the scheme has over and above this 5 per cent. non-cumulative, goes straight to the advantage of the borrower. Of course, it is a complicated scheme. The particular point raised in this Amendment is only one part of it. We have framed our assistance to meet the necessities of the banks. Of course the largest form of assistance is the guarantee fund. The benefit of that fund will go to the farmer in relieving him of the necessity to build up reserves and thereby reducing the rate of interest which he will have to pay. If he did not have this guarantee fund he would perhaps have to find an extra one-quarter per cent. for building up reserves. That is a long-term necessity. But this £10,000 a year is a temporary necessity.
It is obvious that the administrative cost of the new organisation will be far higher in the earlier years. It will be necessary to employ an experienced and 2135 well qualified staff, and until the business attains a certain volume the overhead charges must bulk unduly in the expenses. We want to relieve the borrowers of the necessity of financing this organisation beyond the normal burden which all customers of the corporation will expect to bear. We believe that it is better for the State to find this administrative contribution in the form of an annual payment, than to increase the heavy capital assistance which we are providing in the form of advances. The suggestion has been made that the banks have been greedy or have forced upon us an unconscionable bargain. Yet the directors have undertaken to work without remuneration. I do not know whether it would be to the interests of the banks that that system should continue for ever, but at all events in the first instance it has been arranged with them that they shall do this work for nothing. That is a very strong answer to the suggestion that the banks have forced upon the State an unfavourable bargain.
I have gone into this scheme, and after careful examination I am satisfied not that the banks would not run the scheme even if it was doomed to failure but that if we had not afforded this considerable Government support, concentrated especially in the early and struggling years, the cost of borrowing would be so high that it would be of little advantage to the farmers. This particular Amendment deals with only one part of our financial scheme, but it is an important provision. It lubricates the machinery during the period of starting, and I want the House to realise that it is part of a well balanced and carefully considered whole, and if we cut it out and offer terms less favourable to the farmer we should inevitably have to give up the scheme.
The Minister of Agriculture has said quite truly that the banks not only did not initiate this scheme but that they have shown great reluctance to come into it. One of the reasons why he was not able to make an announcement earlier was that they saw a great many difficulties which had to be overcome, and when the discussions had been exhausted there still remained one bank, and that the largest of the Joint Stock Banks, outside the scheme alto- 2136 gether. There is nothing to be made by the banks out of it; there is no doubt about that. They have to provide assistance from their organisation; they will have to make available to the corporation a vast amount of detailed knowledge, without which you cannot work a scheme of this kind, and I presume they will have to provide officials and directors with an amount of personal knowledge of the people who are likely to avail themselves of these provisions. The banks were ready to do what they could to help the scheme forward, but they do not pretend to be in the position of Ministers or of Members of this House. Many of them had their private opinion as to its utility. Some of them thought it would not do any good, some that it was a direct disadvantage to the farmers, and others that there was more good in the scheme than appeared on the surface.
It was in that rather tepid way that they came into the scheme. The Government asked for their co-operation, and I am glad that the banks have shown a spirit of co-operation which has led to their taking part in it. But having done that, let us see how the Government have proceeded. They have given a number of guarantees to the corporation, and are providing for advances to be made to the corporation which were not demanded by the corporation, or those who are likely to form the corporation. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman came to the matter of expenses. I think it is only right that the House should realise that £10,000 will certainly not cover the expenses. It will fall a great deal short. You cannot work a staff and house a corporation on the scale which the Government have in mind at anything like £10,000. It is really a subscription in relief. I think the right hon. Gentleman has put this sum forward in an indiscreet form. He could give assistance to the farmers more easily than by making a present of £10,000 a year to the corporation. It would have been better for him to have made a direct grant for a reduction of interest. I hope he will not think it unseemly if I say that if I had been in his place I should never have consented to it appearing on the balance sheet in this form. I should have taken care that it appeared in the form of a reduction of interest which the corporation will be able to charge to those to whom it makes advances. He has chosen the wrong way of 2137 doing it, and I shall have pleasure in voting for the Amendment.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in effect we have not achieved what we want. We have given this £10,000; will it not mean that it will cheapen borrowing?
I understand that is the object of making the advance, but I repeat that there are better ways of making a contribution than by making it in a £10,000 lump sum grant towards the expenses of the corporation, and it is because I think it is an indiscreet and unnecessary way of doing it that I shall vote against it. We do not know anything about the rate of interest to be charged; we can only make an estimate. The right hon. Gentleman's estimate is 5¾ per cent.——
Yes, and if the right hon. Gentleman could have reduced that by ½ per cent., it would have been more attractive to the farmers. He will never get the farmers to believe that the £10,000 really goes in a reduction of their interest if they are to be charged 5¾ per cent. They will think that much too high. The view taken by the hon. Member on the Front Opposition Bench will be the view taken by the farmers.
Mr. ROY WILSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman not agree that £10,000 a year will go some way in reduction of interest?
By itself it will not go very far, but we must take it in conjunction with all the other financial guarantees which are given to the corporation. It is not a simple matter. It would have been far better to have attacked the subject of interest directly rather than indirectly.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
The point that appeals to me is that this £10,000 is a fixed sum per annum, whether the scheme takes on or not; whether the farmers embrace it or not. The whole of the money that is to be available cannot exceed £750,000; it may be a much smaller sum.
Mr. ROY WILSON
The hon. Member is losing sight of the fact that it is not £750,000 which is going to be used alone, but a much larger sum, which will be 2138 obtained on bonds. Seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds will go absolutely nowhere.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
There will be something behind that, but it is the amount of money to be advanced by the company, and the expenses are put at 1½ per cent. whatever amount of capital they may raise. The Minister has said that it is not the banks which have imposed this nefarious scheme upon him, but that in the interviews they had with him they convinced him that the scheme would not work unless he accepted their terms. That is saying the same thing in a much nicer way. The banks are to float this corporation, and lend the money, and they have dictated their terms, because there is nobody else with whom the right hon. Gentleman can negotiate. They have convinced him that nothing can be done without their help. If that is not imposing their scheme upon him, I should like to know what is. The scheme, according to the right hon. Gentleman, has not been put forward for the enrichment of the banks. At any rate it is not a scheme for the enrichment of the farmers who will be called upon to pay higher rates of interest than they have paid up to the present time. There are very few farmers who cannot get; all the capital they require at 5 per cent. and 5¼ per cent., and I cannot see how this scheme with a minimum of 5⅗ per cent. or 5¾ per cent. is going to enrich the farmers.
This is simply a scheme to subsidise the banks, who will be able to impose their scheme upon the agricultural community. It would have been much better if the Government had paid a small contribution to the banks to help the farmers to build up a system which would have given them all the advantages of financing their own undertakings, enable them to buy their land and premises, and give them directly all the advantages of control over finance. Any advantage from this £10,000 a year to the banks, with no guarantee that the interest will be reduced, will not go to the farmer, and cannot go to the farmer. It may be that 20 or 30 years hence a small percentage may trickle down to the farmer, but in the meantime he has no prospect but; to mortgage his land and buildings and equipment at the minimum rate of, interest of 5¾ per cent. The Minister has described the scheme as a canal through 2139 which credit will flow to the farmers in all parts of the country. He has used several metaphors in order to describe his Bill. He has described it as a canal, and also as a lubricant; very fanciful and very poetic. A canal is usually built to carry boats, and this canal, this scheme, will be used by the banks of this country in order to launch their own enterprises, and carry their own goods. They will be able to impose their will upon the agricultural industry of this country.
It is not pleasant to see the Minister of Agriculture helping the banks of this country to impose their will upon the agricultural industry, giving them priority of claim on the products of the farm and a chance to exploit the farmers of this country for generations to come. It is a bad Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman should not help it forward by giving this £10,000. The farmers will get nothing. The landlord may get something; but the agricultural workers will certainly get nothing. The Government are foisting on the country a system from which the agricultural industry will not disentangle itself for many years to come solely for the sake of finding credit for the farming industry of this country.
§ Mr. KELLY
I do not want to give a silent vote on this question. I should like to say a few things which I had not the opportunity to say on the Committee stage. I accept the statement of the Minister that the banks did not seek for this particular task and that it was imposed upon them by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. He stated that he desired that they should help to build a canal which would serve as a channel through which this money should flow to the farming community. He might have told us that in this instance he was really giving to the banks an opportunity to retain their hold upon the finances which make them so powerful. It would have been far better had the right hon. Gentleman kept this thing in his own hands, instead of handing it over to the banks. When he pressed them to undertake the task he found that he must make a contribution not of £10,000 simply for one year but of £10,000 a year for 10 years. Although the banks may not put any of this money into their pockets, and the interest is limited to 5 per cent., and that not cumulatively, the handing over of 2140 this sum of money and the making of this donation or subscription of £10,000 for the administration of the fund is not fair to the agricultural community or to the interests of this country. I shall have no hesitation in voting for the Amendment.
§ Mr. TOMLINSON
I want to look at this matter from the point of view of the farmer. I agree with the Minister of Agriculture that Part I of the Bill will be of benefit to the farmers to the extent that it will provide for them money which will not be liable to be called in. That is a great point in favour of this part of the Bill. I ask myself on what terms this money will be available, but I have not yet heard of a figure which, in my judgment, will commend itself to the farmers as being a low rate of interest. In view of the amount of public money which is being provided for this scheme, it ought to have been possible to provide money at a cheaper rate of interest. We have been told that one of the large banks is standing outside the scheme. Should I be in order in asking the Minister whether the bank which is standing outside the scheme is willing to advance money on the same terms that will be available under this scheme, without the help of the Government? If so, then the Government have provided as much money as they ought to provide, without this special £10,000 a year. On these grounds, I shall support the Amendment that the grant be not made.
§ Mr. BUXTON
The House has heard cogent arguments against the bargain with the Corporation, as it stands, but one side of the subject has not been touched upon. This country is not the first country that has entered upon this sphere of State legislation for agricultural credits; indeed, it is one of the last. There is a tremendous volume of experience and precedent in the same field. It is remarkable that the assistance that is given in this country under this scheme, with our higher forms of development in banking, should be so much more generous and lavish on the part of the State than is the case in less developed countries, and yet such is the case. The item which we have selected for Debate is only one of many items. There are certainly four large items of benefactions to the Corporation. 2141 There are such piled up benefactions that even some of the supporters of the Minister in Committee were disposed to dwell on the amount of help given to the Corporation. It has to be noted that on the Continent, in Germany, for instance, it was decided on the one hand that the State itself should do the lending and should not regard it as a bad form of business requiring such sacrifice on the part of the taxpayer. The German Mortgage Credit Bank, with State capital, has served the purpose in a large field. When you come to the non-State banking, you have what is called the Landschaft, a huge method of dealing with land mortgage in Germany, and they have no subsidy at all, so far as I understand.
The Minister was approaching a form of business which was not necessarily a losing form of business that required a subsidy but a business which in proper hands, well managed, is a paying business, and one which is being conducted on a great scale by insurance companies and others. Assuming that the Minister required to get the interest of the banks and that the banks were not willing parties and had to be induced to come in, then, of course, the Minister had to get them in as cheaply as possible. Was it not rather surprising for the right hon.
§ Gentleman to make an announcement that a bargain would be struck with the banks, before it had been completed? In these negotiations, from the Treasury point of view, it should not have been forgotten, in the interests of fairness to the taxpayers, that the strictest bargains should have been made. The four banks have to put up £650,000 in shares, but the shares are so fortified that they are really turned into a first class security, equal to a consol. Surely, on the face of it, that is not a very successful bargain to have made. The Minister spoke in Committee of the advice which the banks gave him as to the necessity of such and such a point. I thought it was a strange term to use when a business bargain was being driven. When one is making a, contract one hardly speaks of the advice which the other party tenders in connection with the contract. The long and short of it seems to me to be that the Government have a fixed preference for private enterprise rather than for State action and, in consequence, a very high price has to be paid.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 203; Noes, 115.2143
|Division No. 274.]||AYES.||[7.56 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Finburgh, S.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Carver, Major W. H.||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cassels, J. D.||Forrest, W.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Chapman, Sir S.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis [...]|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Christie, J. A.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Apsley, Lord||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Gaibraith, J. F. W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Clarry, Reginald George||Gates, Percy|
|Balniel, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Grant, Sir J. A.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Berry, Sir George||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Bethel, A.||Couper, J. B.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Bevan, S. J.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hamilton, Sir George|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hanbury, C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Harland, A.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Dixey, A. C.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Drewe, C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Eden, Captain Anthony||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Ellis, R. G.||Hilton, Cecil|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Buchan, John||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Holt, Captain H. P.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Burman, J. B.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Fielden, E. B.||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Ay Inner||Nuttall, Ellis||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Oakley, T.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Templeton, W. P.|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Preston, William||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Long, Major Eric||Radford, E. A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lougher, Lewis||Raine, Sir Waiter||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Pamsden, E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Remer, J. R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|MacIntyre, Ian||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Rice, Sir Frederick||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Wells, S. R.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Rye, F. G.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Salmon, Major I.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Meller, R. J.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sandon, Lord||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Savery, S. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)||Major Sir William Cope and Mr. Penny.|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hayes, John Henry||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, John|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Briant, Frank||Kelly, W. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Broad, F. A.||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Bromfield, William||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Bromley, J.||Kirkwood, D.||Sullivan, J.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lawrence, Susan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Lee, F.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lowth, T.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lunn, William||Townend, A. E.|
|Compton, Joseph||Mackinder, W.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dennison, R.||Morris, R. H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gardner, J. P.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Murnin, H.||Westwood, J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Owen, Major G.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Palin, John Henry||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Hardie, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|