HC Deb 10 July 1928 vol 219 cc2073-87

Where by or under any statute (whether passed before or after the passing of this Act) land which has been acquired by means of a loan made under the provisions of this Act is authorised to be acquired compulsorily by any Government Department or any local or public authority, in assessing the compensation to be paid deduction shall be made in respect of any enhanced value of the land as a result of such loan.—[Mr. Riley.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

4.0 p.m.

The proposal of this new Clause is to provide that any enhanced value which comes to land as a result of the benefits of this Bill shall, in the event of the State or a local authority compulsorily acquiring such land, be deducted from the amount of compensation. As far as I can see, there is no provision whatever in this Bill to protect the State in respect of the advance of credit which will be given to the proposed Corporation to carry on the work of advancing credit. The Bill provides that a sum of £750,000 may be advanced in the course of three years, at a rate of £250,000 per annum, free of interest for a period of 60 years. I have made some calculations, and I find that this £750,000, which is to be advanced by the State free of interest, would, if deposited at interest, bring in £37,500 per annum, and, at simple interest for 60 years, would amout to £2,250,000. So that this part of the Bill provides that, in the course of 60 years, at simple interest, there is to be a free gift of £2,250,000 to assist this corporation in affording credit and assistance to owners of land or to farmers for improvements. This applies to the first part of the Bill only, but I want to go a step further and remind the House that this £2,250,000, for which the State is going to be responsible, does not by any means represent all the advantage which the State is going to give this corporation, because, as a matter of fact, this £750,000 loaned free of interest for 60 years is equivalent, at compound interest for that period, to no less than £12,000,000. Therefore, this part of the Bill, under which this £750,000 is going to be loaned free of interest, represents an assistance in 60 years of £12,000,000 alone. Furthermore, it is interesting to bear in mind that, even at the end of the 60 years, there is nothing in the Bill to provide that this £750,000 will be repaid. All that the Bill says is, that at that time it will remain in the corporation at such interest as may be decided upon. In addition to that, there is a definite gift in this Bill of £10,000 per annum for a period of 10 years, making £100,000 altogether. There is a further definite gift of no less than £62,500 for underwriting. So that there are substantial gifts to be advanced by the State for this corporation.

I am submitting that it is surely the duty of this House, as the custodian of national revenue and of the national purse, to take every reasonable step that can be taken, if it advances money which is going to give some substantial advantage to a particular class, to see that the community reaps such advantages as are due to the credit given by Parliament. In this Bill, as I say, there is no provision whatever for that. As to the effects of the credit advanced by the State and the loan of this money, there can be no two opinions. First of all, the corporation is to be a private corporation with the advantage of the security and the stability of this Government advance of £750,000, plus the £100,000; and, over and above that, the Government are taking £1,250,000 of £5,000,000 of debenture stock, so that there is something like £2,250,000 of Government money which will be at the service of this corporation for a definite period. I submit, in these circumstances, that it is only a matter of common prudence and simple duty that this House should take steps to see that whatever special advantages and values result from this expenditure, and, I might say, subsidy of public money, should be recompensed by some advantage to the State. Therefore, my proposed Clause says: Where by or under any statute whether passed before or after the passing of this Act) land which has been acquired by means of a loan made under the provisions of this Act is authorised to be acquired compulsorily by any Government Department or any local or public authority, in assessing the compensation to be paid deduction shall be made in respect of any enhanced value of the land as a result of such loan. The intention of the Bill, of course, is to encourage the owners and the occupiers of agricultural land to carry out substantial improvements. That is the very purpose of the Bill—to afford credit, in the first part of the Bill, very largely, I know, to release existing mortgages and to enter into new mortgages. With that part I am in agreement, but, personally, I regret there are any facilities to purchase agricultural land. Apart from that, it was also intended that farmers and owners should be encouraged, as the Title of the Bill sets forth, to secure money on favourable terms.


The hon. Member is not confining himself to the Clause at all; he is going over the whole case.


I am pointing out that an advantage is going to accrue as a result of the advance of this public money to the owners and occupiers of agricultural land, and, in proof of that, I desire to call the attention of the House to the Title of the Bill, which says that the object is to secure, by means of the formation of a company and the assistance thereof out of public funds, the making of loans for agricultural purposes on favourable terms, and to facilitate the borrowing of money on the security of farming stock and other agricultural assets. My point is that, as a result of this Bill, there is bound to be an extension of credit resulting in improvements taking place, and one can visualise without difficulty that when this Bill has been in operation for a few years, and owners and occupiers have had substantial advantage backed by the security of the State, a local authority may find the need to acquire for public purposes land which has been improved by the assistance of this subsidy. Is it equitable that when the value of such land is to be taken into account the improved value to which the subsidy of the State has contributed should not be taken into account? All that my Amendment is asking is that, whenever there is to be acquired land for the State or for a local authority, there should be deducted from the ascertained value such value as has accrued as the result of the contribution set forth in the Bill.


I beg to second the Motion.

One would hope that the House would see the necessity for protecting the interests of the community in this way. There can be little question, if any question at all, as to this Bill enhancing the price of land, particularly in the agricultural areas. That enhanced price will come, not so much, or not at all, from any effort on the part of the landlord or the landowner, but from the fact that the general community, through their credit behind this scheme, has enabled that enhanced price to be brought about. I submit that if, through the strength of the credit of the general community, we have tended to bring about that greater price, and if we acquire that land at some time in the future for public purposes, we certainly have no right to pay a higher price to someone else when we ourselves are responsible for any increased value, if increased value there be in that particular land. In the interests of the people, we must see that they do not have to pay in the first instance, and pay again in the last instance, as is possible in the absence of any protection in this Bill.

It does not require any great research to prove to Members of this House how the community has been bled whenever it wanted to secure for public purposes pieces of land in many parts of the country. The landlord, without any effort on his part at all, has seen the public demand for a particular stretch of country, and he has taken full advantage—advantage which, I am afraid, is not justified in many cases, if justified in any, to bleed the community for an enormous price for something the value of which, at any rate, he certainly did nothing to create; and we say that, if we are going to help agriculture—and we are willing to help agriculture, though, as far as this part of the House is concerned, we would prefer to do it in a better way than this Measure is proposing—at the same time, if we are going to help agriculture, and through that enhance the price of this land whenever we require it for pubic purposes, we are not going to be bled again.

We are making grants, as my hon. Friend pointed out in moving the Second Reading of this Clause. We are not only putting our credit behind this company, which will be formed by the banks instead of by the Government or the State itself undertaking the work, but in addition we are making a handsome gift for the purpose of paying the cost of administration. Surely that is more than we ought to do. But, having done that much, we ought not in future to be called upon, because we have granted this credit, to pay many hundreds of thousands of pounds more because we require some land that we have enabled other people to get into their possession through this scheme. I hope that the House, no matter what its opinion may be with regard to the present method of land ownership, is not going to allow the community to be bled in future as it is being bled now and has been bled in the past, but that the House will support us in this new Clause so that the enhanced price shall not come out of the pockets of the community a second time.


The proposal of the new Clause would work with great injustice against the interests of the tenant farmer who, by this scheme, is put in a position to buy his land with State help. Let us see how the new Clause would affect his position. It is assumed by the two hon. Members that the fact that this source of credit will be open to the tenant farmers will bring further competition for land into being, and will enhance the price of the land. In certain cases where that land has to be resold by the new owner-occupier—haphazard cases chosen simply for public convenience because the land is wanted for public purposes—the new owner, the farmer- occupier, is to be deprived of a certain proportion of what he has paid.


No, it is the State's contribution.


The State will facilitate the advance of capital to enable the tenant to buy. The tenant will pay full value to the landlord, and if there be any enhanced value it is the landlord who will get that enhanced value and the tenant who will pay it. The proposal of the hon. Members is not that we should take this enhanced value from the landlord who has received it, but that we should take it from the tenant who has had to pay it. The owner-occupier, if the land is bought from him, must repay the loan which he has received from the agricultural mortgage corporation at its full face value, with the discount, of course, of any repayments that have taken place since the loan was contracted. The increased value will not be deducted from the landlord who got the increased price, but it will be deducted from the former tenant, who has had to pay that increased price. I do not discuss whether or not you could measure this very elusive ingredient of increased price, due to this factor of a greater demand. I think it would be almost impossible to measure it. I do say, however, that if you are going to take back some of this credit which has been advanced, it is absolutely illogical and neither reasonable nor just to take it back from the former tenant, who by means of this credit and by paying the full value might have become the owner-occupier. I must, therefore, ask the House to reject this new Clause.


What about the improvement of the land that is due to the Government advance?


If the hon. Member will read his new Clause he will see that there is in it nothing about improving land. The Clause deals with land which has been acquired by means of a loan, and there is nothing about improvements. The man who would be responsible for this loan would be the purchaser, not the seller. The seller, who will have received this hypothetically increased value, will not have to disgorge. Therefore, the Clause is absolutely unjust.


The Minister's point is intended to put us in a quandary. But, surely, if you apply his principle to another case, you may ultimately reduce it to an absurdity. Suppose that you were making some colossal benefaction. Obviously, when a sale takes place it benefits the present owner, but if you adopted our principle the prospective infliction upon the owner-to-be would be discounted in the price of to-day; the price would be modified by the fact that the State had put it on record that warning had been given that there was a benefaction by the State which was not to be paid for twice. It cannot be denied that a certain benefit is being conferred. The Minister may say that it is not a great benefit and is not a measurable benefit, but the principle surely is not altered. We submit that there is a certain recklessness on the part of the authors of the Bill, when it is looked at from the point of view of public justice. The public might very easily, in a short time, be paying a second time for what we are now doing. The Government are perhaps reducing the interest that otherwise the man would pay on his mortgage by, let us say, only one-sixth per cent., but if you want to test the justice of the thing, imagine that the method is to halve the interest. There is no difference in principle. Surely it would be evident to everyone that in that case it would be absurd to say that you should make a dole to that extent—to the present owner. You ought to give warning that the State will not pay again for that, and therefore the price would be modified accordingly.


From the statement of the Minister it seems to me that the hint which he gave quite recently—that this Measure is brought forward for the purpose of forestalling nationalisation—was a correct one. There have been attempts made to put the party on this side in a quandary, but I suggest to the Minister that when the agricultural policy of the Labour party becomes a matter of legislative concern, it must not be expected—I am speaking, of course, for myself—that this idea of putting money twice over into the hands of owners of land is going to be tolerated. That is practically what the Government proposal means. It means a benefit to the landlord, and the Minister admitted that in his speech a minute or two ago. The right hon. Gentleman gave the whole case away regarding this Bill and the agricultural policy generally of the Government. It is another instance of "looking after our friends." We are certainly going to bear in mind this kind of tricky policy when we get a mandate—as we shall, and before long, I believe—to carry out our own agricultural policy. We shall bear this in mind, and in the Bill that we shall bring forward to put our ideas into practice we shall certainly make it impossible for this kind of ramp to go on, and for the public to suffer by the policy of the present Government in putting forward proposals that affect a time when another Government will be in power.


With my hon. Friends I want to enter the only protest that one can enter against this handing over to a certain section of people of large sums of money, without any sort of guaranteee to the general public. The right hon. Gentleman very ingeniously pointed out the impossibility almost of applying the policy embodied in this Clause. It may be that in practice it would be found to be most difficult, but it seems to me that in any case, even if the wording of this Clause would not meet the case, the principle lurking behind the Clause is perfectly in accordance with the principles of Members who sit on these benches. Many of us have had the experience during the last eight or 10 years, during which time from five to 10 per cent. of the total agricultural area has been taken over for building purposes in this country, that agricultural land which was apparently almost valueless in 1917 or 1918, suddenly developed a value in 1919 when houses for heroes were required. The value then was five or six times the normal agricultural value. A good deal of the money provided by Parliament in 1919 and subsequent years automatically found its way into the pockets of landowners, who were not nearly as patriotic as one would like to believe that they were. This is merely one other instance.

As long as one keeps in mind the half million employés in agriculture and their wives and children, their miserable homes, and their miserably low wages and standard of life—so long as those items are kept in one's mind they are calculated to disturb one's feelings before one votes against any assistance being rendered to improve those circumstances and conditions. But if looked at from the other point of view—and our position is based on experience—I am convinced that we shall be obliged to vote for this Clause. When the right hon. Gentleman opposes this Clause we are driven into the opposite Lobby to vote against him. It is not a vote cast against the agricultural community; it is not a vote cast because we have any desire to prevent the State rendering useful assistance to a particular industry, but it is a vote east because we are hostile to the use of State funds for bolstering up an obsolete system that is crumbling before our eyes, and bolstering it up without any sort of guaranteee to the nation and the people who have had to provide the money.


I have listened with great cave to what has been said by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) and the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) but I am afraid I do not yet understand how they expect a Clause of this kind to come into operation. The governing words are that a deduction shall be made in respect of any enhanced value of the land as a result of such loan. Whatever enhanced value there is goes to the tenant farmers who are to be the beneficiaries under this Bill, and I am sure hon. Members do not wish to prevent tenant farmers getting as good terms as they can from the Government or anybody else. The second point is that I do not believe there will be any

enhanced value of the land as the result of such loans.


Why not?


I will not detain the House for more than a minute, but I hope I shall be able to satisfy the hon. Member. The reason why I believe there will be no enhanced value of the land is that a loan made under this Bill will be no better than a loan ordinarily obtained. The right hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) is wrong in practice and the Minister of Agriculture is wrong in theory.


There is the particular answer to this argument which has been given by the right hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Runciman) and there is tie general answer which I can give in two or three words. Lot me give the general answer. After you have once made up your mind that you are going to use some of the assets of the State in order to give an impetus to some area of vita', importance to the State it is idle to seek to follow out all the increases in value which result from that impetus in order to recover them for the benefit of the State. By so doing you only undo the good you have done. You should be content with the indirect benefit which the State will receive owing to the increase in the general wealth and in the taxable capacity of its subjects.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 239.

Division No. 271.] AYES. [4.34 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Duncan, C. Kennedy, T.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Gibbins, Joseph Lawrence, Susan
Attlee, Clement Richard Gosling, Harry Lee, F.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lindley, F. W.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lowth, T.
Barnes, A. Greenall, T. Mackinder, W.
Barr, J. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Granted, D. R. (Glamorgan) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) March, S.
Broad, F. A. Grundy, T. W. Montague, Frederick
Bromfield, William Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Murnin, H.
Buchanan, G. Hardie, George D. Naylor, T. E.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hayes, John Henry Oliver, George Harold
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Palin, John Henry
Cluse, W. S. Hirst, G. H. Paling, W.
Compton, Joseph Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Ponsonby, Arthur
Connolly, M. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Potts, John S.
Cove, W. G. John, William (Rhondda, West) Purcell, A. A.
Dalton, Hugh Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Riley, Ben
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Ritson, J.
Day, Harry Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Dennison, R. Kelly, W. T. Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Saklatvala, Shapurji Stephen, Campbell Welsh, J. C.
Salter, Dr. Alfred Sutton, J. E. Westwood, J.
Scrymgeour, E. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Sexton, James Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Whiteley, W.
Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Thurtle, Ernest Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Shinwell, E. Tinker, John Joseph Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Townend, A. E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sitch, Charles H. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P. Windsor, Walter
Smillie, Robert Viant, S. P. Wright, W.
Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Snell, Harry Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Wellock, Wilfred Mr. Alien Parkinson and Mr.
Charles Edwards.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Drewe, C. Lamb, J. Q.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Edmondson, Major A. J. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Albery, Irving James Elliot, Major Walter E. Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Ellis, R. G. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Apsley, Lord Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Long, Major Eric
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Looker, Herbert William
Atholl, Duchess of Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Lougher, Lewis
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Fermoy, Lord Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
Balniel, Lord Fielden, E. B. Lumley, L. R.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Forrest, W. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Foster, Sir Harry S. Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Fraser, Captain Ian Macpherson Rt. Hon. James I.
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Frece, Sir Walter de MacRobert, Alexander M.
Berry, Sir George Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Bethel, A. Ganzoni, Sir John Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
Betterton, Henry B. Gates, Percy Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Malone, Major P. B.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Brassey, Sir Leonard Grant, Sir J. A. Margesson, Captain D.
Briant, Frank Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Meller, R. J.
Briggs, J. Harold Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Monsell, Eyres. Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Briscoe, Richard George Greene, W. P. Crawford Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. J. Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E) Morris, R. H.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gunston, Captain D. W. Nelson, Sir Frank
Buchan, John Hacking, Douglas H. Neville, Sir Reginald J.
Buckingham, Sir H. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bullock, Captain M. Hamilton, Sir George Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)
Burman, J. B. Hanbury, C. Nuttall, Ellis
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Oakley, T.
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Harris, Percy A. Owen, Major G.
Campbell, E. T. Harrison, G. J. C. Penny, Frederick George
Carver, Major W. H. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Cassels, J. D. Haslam, Henry C. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barrstaple)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Pilditch, Sir Philip
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Preston, William
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Henn, Sir Sydney H. Price, Major C. W. M.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hills, Major John Waller Radford, E. A.
Chapman, Sir S. Hilton, Cecil Raine, Sir Walter
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Ramsden, E.
Christie, J. A. Holt, Captain H. P. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Clarry, Reginald George Hopkins, J. W. W. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'and, Whiteh'n) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hume, Sir G. H. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Cooper, A. Duff Hurd, Percy A. Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Couper, J. B. Hutchison, Sir G. A. Clark Sandon, Lord
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.) Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Savery, S. S.
Crawfurd, H. E. Iveagh, Countess of Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Skelton, A. N.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Jephcott, A. R. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Smithers, Waldron
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jones, W. N. (Carmarthen) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Davies, Dr. Vernon King, Commodore Henry Douglas Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Dawson, Sir Philip Knox, Sir Alfred Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Storry-Deans, R. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Strauss, E. A. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Streatfeild, Captain S. R. Waddington, R. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wallace, Captain D. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Warner, Brigadier-General W. W. Withers, John James
Templeton, W. P. Warrender, Sir Victor Womersley, W. J.
Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton) Waterhouse, Captain Charles Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Thompson, Luke (Sunderland) Watts, Sir Thomas Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell- Wayland, Sir William A. Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.) Wells, S. R.
Tinne, J. A. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple- TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wiggins, William Martin Major Sir William Cope and
Tomlinson, R. P. Williams, A. M. (Cornwal, Northern) Captain Bowyer.

It appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Buxton) will get all that he desires by his new Clause—[Agricultural Credit Societies]—under the Bill as it is. If he can persuade me, however, that the Bill does not meet the point, I will allow him to move it.


The new Clause embodies the principle put forward in the well-known agricultural credit scheme with which the name of Mr. Enfield is connected. No one can fail to notice the great value of Mr. Enfield's work in this connection. Although it may be argued that societies of this kind could be formed under the Bill as it stands the Bill does not cover the proposal made by Mr. Enfield in his report. Having said that the plans proposed would not give to the credit societies quite so much advantage as the plan of the 1923 Act the report says: This is by no means a fatal objection, but it means that the combined liability of members would be less effective as a basis of borrowing than under the present scheme. The difficulty could, of course, be overcome by the State taking an equivalent number of shares in the new societies. This point is not covered by the Bill as it stands. This would mean that the State would be liable for a certain proportion of the risks, but in taking this liability it would be doing no more than it does now. I think this Bill should contain a provision which really covers the matter of co-operative credit societies. It is a singular thing that the agricultural credit system for this country should make no mention of the plan which is practically universal. Almost all the Continental system is co-operative; and even a part of the American system. In that profoundly individualistic country you have agricultural credit societies.


The hon. Member is now arguing the merits of the Clause. I am not yet convinced that he cannot get what he wants under the Bill as it stands. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture is able to clear up the point.


The right hon. Member for Norfolk North (Mr. Buxton) read an extract from Mr. Enfield's report on page 59, but he will find Mr. Enfield's opinion of the scheme, described in the passage referred to, is to the effect that: It would appear to require no further legislation. I am strongly in favour of such schemes if the societies can work them out, and I am satisfied that no further legislation is required. The Registrar of Friendly Societies under the existing law is able to sanction such schemes as the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, and it will only lead to confusion and to a great deal of overlapping in administration if concurrent powers for sanctioning such schemes are given to the Minister of Agriculture.


Perhaps the Minister will make it clear that this point is covered—namely, will the State be able to take shares in the scheme. That is stated to be an integral part of the success of the scheme. It is true that on page 59 Mr. Enfield says that societies could be formed, but to make them succeed the State should take shares. Is that point covered?


We have very wide powers, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, to help co-operative societies. When the right hon. Gentleman was at the Ministry of Agriculture he went into this matter and took a large Vote, of which I am sorry to say great advantage was not taken by the societies it was intended to help. I should not like to answer without notice whether we can take shares. I do not see why we should not. Certainly there is no mention of taking shares in the right hon. Gentle- man's new Clause, and I do not think that the passage of this new Clause would make any difference to the existing law as to taking shares. My own impression is that we almost certainly could give assistance in this way if we founded it on a Vote in Supply in the House of Commons. So far as I can remember, the other provisions for co-operative credit from the State have been founded upon Votes in Supply and have not by any means always been founded on a Statute.


I have had considerable experience of the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts. What we are afraid of is that unless some regulation of this kind is made possible, this particular thing will not be done. Anyone can form a society and make rules for the members and submit them to the Chief Registrar, and so long as they do not contravene the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts from 1893–1913, he cannot refuse to register the rules and to approve them, whereas they may be detrimental to the people who are going to work them. If, on the other hand, we give power to the Minister to make specific regulations for the governing of co-operative societies, the Minister for the time being will have regard to the requirements of this particular Act in giving sanction to the specific regulations for the societies so formed. That is why it is so important that we should have the provision in the Bill.


I am still of the same opinion that this new Clause as it stands is not one that can be accepted.