Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD
I beg to move,That in view of the failure of Liberal land legislation in the past and of the policy adumbrated in the Green Book, this House deprecates any further tampering with national interests to serve party exigencies.It is extraordinary what a fascination the word "policy" has for a certain type of intellect. We see it again and again in this House. In debate after debate, the charge levelled at the Government is not that they have done nothing. It is not so much even that they have done the wrong thing. It is that they have no policy. In the innumerable debates we have had on the subject of unemployment—
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to the terms of this Motion? I should like to ask whether it is in order, in view of the phrase in the last line which imputes motives to a political 1999 party. I have always understood that this is contrary to the rules of Order of the House, and I should like to ask you if this Motion was properly passed by the Chair.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
What we do not allow in the House is reflection on the personal honour of Members. I cannot see my way to rule out reflections on the various parties in the House, and the Government, of course, stand most of the racket.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
Have there not been rulings in the past when Motions have been put on the Paper that it was not in order to impugn the honesty of motive of one of the parties? I am well aware that it would be absurd to restrict criticism of parties, but have there not been Rulings to the effect that Motions should not appear on the Paper which impugn the honesty of motive of a party as this does when it says:This House deprecates any tampering with national interests to serve party exigencies"?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see the implication. The hon. and gallant Member believes that one party is much the best party to govern the country, and therefore he is perfectly honest and perfectly moral in putting forward anything which will bring that party into government.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Is it not out of order if a Motion contains something which is indefinite? For instance, the Motion says:The policy adumbrated in the Green Book.Now what is the Green Book? Is it in order to bring before the House an alleged publication of an alleged policy of an alleged party?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is a matter for debate in the House. It is not a matter for the Chair. Happily, the Chair is above party politics.
§ Lieut.-Colonel WARD rose—
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman proceeds, I should like to say in one sentence that I protest against this wording, and, if at any time it falls to my lot, I shall put down a similar Motion imputing motives 2000 to the party opposite, and I hope it will be passed by the Chair.
I was saying what an extraordinary fascination the word "policy" has. We have seen it so often in Debate after Debate on the subject of unemployment during the last two or three years. The indictment levelled at the Government has invariably been, not so much that there are still 1,000,000 men out of work, but that the Government have not formulated a definite and comprehensive policy for dealing with the problem. In the Debate we had a fortnight or so ago on the Prayer to the Crown on behalf of the West Ham Guardians, the demand on the part of the intellectuals on the other side of the House was not so much for a reversion to a popularly-elected board of guardians in West Ham as it was for a definitely enunciated and cast-iron policy on the part of the Ministry of Health. In exactly the same way we have this Liberal land policy, which, I believe, the leaders of that party hope will supply a long-felt want. To the ordinary non-intellectual semi-educated person, such as myself, it seems to matter very little whether a result, if obtained and when obtained, is due to a policy or whether it is not. It seems to me to matter little whether the reductions we have had in unemployment during the past two or three years from 2,500,000 to 1,000,000 are the result of a policy or the result of careful administration. It is immaterial to me. Other people hold a different opinion and seem to think that a result which is obtained without a carefully advertised policy is not a result at all but merely an intervention on the part of the higher powers. In the same way, we have this Liberal policy enunciated in the Green Book. It would not have been sufficient to have inquired into the needs of agriculture and co-operated in whatever is being done and what has been done. That would not have been sufficient. A definite, and incidentally carefully advertised, policy is necessary.
If I were the famous Dr. Johnson—unfortunately I have neither the intellect nor the vigour to play the part—I would define in my dictionary the word "policy" as "eyewash" or "window-dressing." Eyewash and window-dressing—and particularly window-dressing—would be particularly applicable to the policy which 2001 the Liberal party intend to apply to the land. In their case, the window must be well-dressed, and well-filled also, so as to hide the emptiness of the shop behind. As a result of certain inquiries into the needs of agriculture, certain definite facts have emerged. The condition of agriculture in this country is not what, we should wish it to be. The acreage of land under arable crops has for the last 50 years shown a steady and a progressive decrease, with the exception of a period during and immediately succeeding the War. In addition to that, whereas for many years—one might almost say from time immemorial—agriculture has been looked upon as the primary basic industry in this country, in that it employed more workers than any other industry, for the last 50 years it has slowly been losing that pride of place—I think I am right in saying that now it has done so—to both the mining and the textile industries. Nobody regrets the condition of agriculture more than Members on this side of the House, but I venture to hazard the opinion that the state of agriculture is not such as to justify the drastic, the root and branch and policy which is advocated in this Green Book and which aims at nothing more or less than the replacing by a horde of Government officials, the old-time rural landlord, who cannot be accused, except in a few isolated instances, of having done other than his duty to his tenants.
I shall not debate at any length the justice of this proposal. I shall not debate its honesty, but I do suggest that it will not be even a paying proposition. It will certainly be found, if put into operation, that the inspectors who will have to be appointed under the Ministry of Agriculture, to say nothing of the councils, the commissions, the committees, the orders, the funds, and what not, will take more out of the land than ever did the old landlords. In many cases, the net income of an estate has shrunk to such a small figure that the inspector of the Ministry of Agriculture would not consider it a living wage for inspecting or supervising the property, still less that it should have to be shared out with the innumerable councils, committees, arbitrators and inspectors which would be set up by an Act of Parliament under the Green Book. What is the fundamental difficulty from which 2002 the land is suffering? It is not the poverty of the soil. The land of this country is as good as any land in the world, and a good deal better than most land. It is not the inability of the farmers to profit from the fertility of the soil.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present—
I wish to lay before the House some of the difficulties from which agriculture is suffering. For 50 years the great difficulty which has confronted agriculture in this country has been the inability of the farmer or the agriculturist to produce at a price which will enable him to compete, not in the markets of the world but in the markets of this country. He is undersold by wheat from Canada, Australia, India and the Argentine. He is undersold by beef from the Argentine, by mutton and lamb from New Zealand and by apples from Canada, Tasmania and France. Even if you could eliminate rent and by some system of confiscation place the land in the possession of those who cultivate it, it would be found that the farmer would still be undersold; leaving entirely out of consideration the fact that such a policy of spoliation would engender such a feeling of insecurity as would inevitably decrease production enormously for years to come. Facts and figures are notoriously difficult to get, but I do not think any hon. Member opposite will seriously maintain that the somewhat drastic alteration of land tenure in Russia during the last 10 or 15 years has either increased or cheapened production.
What is the root cause of the high cost of agricultural production in this country? Weather such as we had last year had a very bad effect on agriculture, but even in the most favourable seasons, the agriculturist in this country cannot rely upon the fine dry autumn for harvesting his crop which the farmer in Canada, the Argentine or Australia looks upon almost as a birthright. [HON. MEMBRRS: "What about Denmark?"] Denmark is a different proposition. They deal largely in milk, eggs and butter, and a wet climate helps them. A wet climate does not help you if you have to harvest wheat, oats or arable produce generally. The weather 2003 has been one of the difficulties from which this country has suffered for many years. In addition, the small fields in this country make the use of agricultural machinery for harvesting difficult. That difficulty might possibly be overcome to some extent by a more extensive use of smaller motor machinery, such as tractors, but we are told that that is not a paying proposition; that the tractors cost too much to keep up, and the depreciation is too heavy.
One of the reasons why I consider the Green Book such a hollow fraud is that, out of nearly 600 pages, less than eight are devoted to instruction, education and research. The reason is obvious. It is a vote-catching document, pure and simple; but votes are not to be caught that way. Surely, if it was a genuine effort to solve agricultural difficulties, more than a paltry eight pages would be devoted to education and research. Without criticising the farmer in any way, does he always know how to make the best use of motor machinery? In these days of almost universal mechanisation, when officers of cavalry regiments do not consider it beneath their dignity to go to Aldershot to learn how to drive tractors, six-wheeled lorries and armoured cars, and when the mechanisation of agriculture promises a palliative for, if not a solution of, agricultural depression; surely any document dealing with the question of agriculture would have more than eight miserable pages dealing with research and education.
One branch of farming which the British farmer does not seem to understand thoroughly is the use and upkeep of motor machinery. How often do we see a tractor standing out in all weathers in the farmyard or in the corner of a field? That is not supposed to hurt it. The tractor is supposed to be weather-proof, but it will be found after a course of that treatment that when it becomes necessary to do some minor adjustments most of the bolts and nuts will be so thoroughly rusted together that the only way to get them apart will be by the use of a chisel and a sledge hammer. That will convert what should he merely a minor adjustment into an extensive and expensive repair job, and reduce the value of the implement by approximately 50 per cent.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member should endeavour to keep himself within the terms of his Motion. which deals with the policy proposed from another quarter of the House, and not enter upon an exegesis of his own policy. If he wanted to do that, he should have put it in his notice of Motion.
I do not wish to transgress your Ruling in any way. I was endeavouring to point out the definitions in this Green Book of the Liberal land policy, and endeavouring to show that, if it were a genuine document, we should see much more in it of what really is necessary for agriculture.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that, if the farmers would stop reading the Green Book, they would bring their tractors in out of the rain?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member may proceed, but I must say that he is rather slow in coming to his point.
I suggest that if the farmers read the Green Book, as I have read it, they would certainly bring their tractors in out of the rain. It is because there is no mention in the Green Book of the necessity for doing that, that I regard the book as a hollow fraud, and I have put down my Motion against it. I will not pursue that line of argument further. Everyone will agree that if this were a genuine effort to help agriculture we should hear more in the book about. these very necessary items. We should heat more of the good work done by institutions such as the Midland Agricultural College, and, as we do not, we must regard it, not as a genuine effort to help agriculture, but as a mere bid for votes in agricultural constituencies. In other words, the Liberal party have once more put themselves up to auction in the country, and, so far, they have received remarkably few bids from the farming community.
No comprehensive scheme of agricultural eyewash would be complete without a reference to deer forests. In the Green Book, we have the standardised reference to the teeming tenements of Glasgow crying aloud for redress; but any attempt to redress the conditions of those teeming tenements by placing the inhabitants upon the deer forests would result in the 2005 victims of the experiment wishing themselves back in the teeming tenements, and taking themselves thither at the earliest possible moment. The trouble is that so many of the theorists, who are responsible for that particular chapter in the Green Book, have never seen a deer forest, except in summer. If they had visited the high ground in November to April they would have realised at once the unsuitability of settling anybody except one's worst enemy upon it. From the point of view of what is called in the Green Book prairie farming, which I presume to mean sheep farming, the high ground is unsuitable. Again, the theoretical authority who compiled this portion of the Green Book has evidently visited the high ground in summer.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that the low-lying parts of the land in deer forests is unsuitable for agricultural settlement?
From the point of view of sheep farming the number of sheep entirely depends on the amount of low ground you have on which you can accommodate them during the winter. From the point of view of afforestation, which is also advocated in the Green Book, I doubt whether it is a paying proposition to plant any land which is more than 1,000 feet above sea level. It is no argument to maintain that valuable timber is grown in Norway and Sweden at altitudes of over 2,000 feet. There is some subtle climatic differance there which enables this to be done. The extreme northerly latitude in which wheat will ripen in Scotland is the Moray Firth, whereas wheat can be grown at Trondjheim in Norway, which is nearly 1,000 miles further north. It is not my intention to pursue the argument any further. The whole fabric of this Green Book is so transparent. It is not an attempt in any way to solve agricultural difficulties. It is merely an attempt to buy votes for the Liberal party by embittering the cordial relations which have 2006 hitherto existed between landlord and tenant and between farmer and labourer.
It is not peace; it is a sword. Just as the Liberal party put themselves up for auction in the country at the time of the general strike, and many of them at least again at the time of the Shanghai Defence Force, they are now putting themselves up for auction on their land policy, but, as I have said, they have received remarkably few bids from the community. At least half a dozen times during the past four years the Liberal party have put themselves up for auction, and each time they have had to buy themselves in. The attitude of the electors with regard to this scheme, this land policy, was rather well described by a gamekeeper, a friend of mine, who incidentally is also a trainer of dogs, so that most of his similes savour of the kennel, We were discussing together the so-called Liberal revival, and I asked him if he had seen the Yellow Book on the industrial policy. He said he had. I asked him what he thought of it. He said: "I think it is a mongrel sort of pup, half Tory and half Socialist." I asked him if he had seen the Green Book, and he said: "Yes, that is a sort of pup, too." I asked if he had seen the second Green Book, and he said: "Yes, that is not so bad. It is the best pup of the litter, but it is not good enough to make the public buy the old bitch." That is the opinion of the electorate.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I beg to second the Motion.
The first part of the Motion refers to the tenor of Liberal land legislation in the past, and I should like to trace the origin of Liberal policy in connection with the industry of agriculture and to remind the House how the Liberal party have acted from the year 1906 onwards. What was their line of approach to the industry of agriculture? They equipped themselves with an instrument of husbandry, a spade, and proceeded to dig. After considerable labour they dug out two conclusions. I ought to say that it was not in the soil of this country that they applied the spade; they dug entirely in the depths of their own political imaginations. As a result of their digging they said that the ills of agriculture were two. First, insecurity of tenure by the tenant, and, secondly, the lack of small holdings throughout the country. On these two 2007 main planks the Liberal party took its stand in dealing with agriculture from 1906 up to the time when it ceased to have any influence in such matters. They announced that both these evils were entirely the fault of the wicked Tory landlord. They said that the landlord got rid of his tenants at will; gave notice to them out of mere caprice. He collared all the tenant's goodwill which he left in his farm when he had to quit. In short, that the landlord got rich by robbery. That was the burden of Liberal speakers on every platform up and down the country.
What are the true facts? I wonder whether the Liberal party ever took the trouble to study history? Surely many of them must be old enough to remember the period of acute agricultural depression which fell upon the country in the seventies, eighties and nineties of last century. What happened then between landlord and tenant? Nobody can dispute the fact that rents were reduced by landlords, in many cases absolutely to vanishing point and, further—I know of instances myself—that landlords actually advanced money to finance their tenants through the worst phases of that agricultural depression. Then the wicked Tory Government decided that tithe, which had hitherto been paid by the tenants, should be transferred to the shoulders of the landlords; and the landlords consented. It is well that the Liberal party and the House should be reminded of these facts. What happened in only too many cases after all these efforts had been made to help the tenant through his difficult time? In some cases the land itself was thrown back derelict on to the hands of the landlord. I challenge anyone to contradict these statements. The Liberal party proceeded on the false assumption that the landlord is the tenant's worst enemy, whereas those who are best acquainted with the land know perfectly well that the average landlord is the tenant's best friend, and always has been.
The Liberal party, having made up its mind as to the wickedness of the landlord, set to work to harass him out of existence. They taxed him to death while he was alive, and they put up the Death Duties when he was dead. Through the agricultural holdings policy 2008 of that time they created a, position between landlord and tenant which, while reducing such few amenities as remained to land ownership, did nothing to add any real advantage to land tenancies or agriculture as a whole. And all this for the sake of a, shibboleth—security of tenure. What are the results? Is the Liberal party proud of its policy, which has had such a long innings? I doubt whether it can be. Land has been forced into the market. The landlord's money which had been invested in the soil has now been largely withdrawn from the industry just when it most needed it; driven out because the landlord could not afford to keep his money in the land any longer. That is the direct result of Liberal policy for the last 20 years. What is the result of that? The tenants' capital, intended to provide him with the means of carrying on his farm, has had to be stretched in order to cover the two operations of ownership and occupation. That, of course, is one of the evils from which we are suffering at the present moment, and we have every reason to congratulate ourselves that it is to be adequately tackled in a businesslike way by the present Government.
Then I come to small holdings. The Liberal party said that the second evil from which agriculture was suffering was the lack of small holdings: that there was a great land hunger throughout the length and breadth of the land, and that. this land hunger was going unsatisfied because of the greed, rapacity and selfishness of the landlord. They said that land was difficult to obtain, and that when it could be obtained that rents were too high; the equipment insufficient and, above all, that there was insecurity of tenure. The only beneficent kind of landlord, they said, was the State, whether acting directly or through local public authorities; and so they passed the Small Holdings Act of 1908. I should say that the work under that Act has been extremely well done in the main by the small holdings committees of the county councils throughout the country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
It was well administered and I am glad to have this opportunity of testifying to it because I have had the privilege of serving on the small holdings committee of 2009 my own county council ever since the Act was passed.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
It was worked by men of knowledge and experience. I am coming to the question as to how far it was a good Act or not, but for the moment I want to say that it was well administered; that with knowledge and experience it was worked with success. No experiment was ever given a better start. The curious thing is that it was worked in many instances by a majority of Tories. Certain things emerged. When the small holdings committees got to work in the various counties they searched for this land hunger They are searching still. There never was this great land hunger as described by the Liberal party at that time. The fact was that the land hunger had not existed as a genuine demand; it was merely engineered by the Liberal party for political purposes. The county councils found, as soon as they got to work, that land was not difficult to obtain; no insuperable difficulties were met with by the county councils in obtaining all the land that they required. It is true that they had compulsory powers behind them, to be used if necessary, but it is extraordinary to note in how few instances the small holdings committees of the county councils have had to put the compulsory powers into operation. That all shows that the land was there, and that, had a land hunger existed, there would have been no difficulty in settling a larger population on the land.
Let me say a word about rents under this Smallholdings Act. I wonder whether anyone will attempt to contradict me when I say this: I believe it to be true to-day that, taking the country as a whole, where smallholdings are let to tenants by county councils the level of rents for those holdings is higher than the level of rents for holdings of comparable size and quality when they are let under private ownership. I wonder whether the Liberal party will accept that statement? If the Liberal party started from the basis that the creation of smallholdings was one of the ways to bring back prosperity to the industry of agriculture, I ask them this question: However successful the smallholdings movement may have been within its limits, 2010 what has it really contributed to the strength of the agricultural industry as a whole? I should be very glad to know. I have applied myself ardently to my work in connection with smallholdings. When the Liberal party started their campaign 20 years ago they said that land hunger existed and that agriculture could never flourish until more people went on to the land. After nearly a quarter of a century of the operation of the Act, I cannot see what good that particular Act has been to the industry as a whole, although it has satisfied the need of a certain number of people. At all events it is certain that it was not because of insecurity of tenure, nor because of high rents that smallholdings were not greater in number than they were before the passing of the Act.
The real reason and the broadest reason why agriculture, whether on farms of large size or smallholdings, is having such a desperate struggle for existence, is nothing less than the fact that the consumer the world over is eating his bread at the price of the sweat of the brow of the producer. That really is the main reason. We can easily account for this in two broad ways. The first relates to money values. Almost all civilised nations and some comparatively uncivilised nations are to-day struggling to get their currency back to the pre-War standard of value, with the inevitable result that the prices of commodities have fallen. That probably is one of the reasons why we are suffering so much to-day from low prices. The second reason is the disparity in the prices paid for labour in this country and in many countries that compete with us in our home market. I am not very hopeful that we can correct either of those two main ills which are the cause of so much of our agricultural trouble to-day, but I suggest to the House that, in connection with the latter evil—the disparity of labour conditions in other countries compared with this country—through the International Labour Office there might emerge eventually some sort of convention whereby the standard of life of workers in agriculture shall be raised the world over.
But I do not think that at this moment the Liberal party cares for any of these wider issues. It harps on the same old string under a new name. This time it is not so much insecurity of tenure as a 2011 new phrase, cultivating tenure. Who was it that first thought of that in his sleep. I am convinced that when he awoke he had no notion whatever as to what he meant. I have gathered, after considerable reading of the various Green Books of the Liberal party, that it means something of this sort—that if a tenant should die, whether from heartbreak or from suicide because of his troubles, his widow and possibly his son should be able to carry on the farm. As far as I can understand it, that is the germ contained in the expression "cultivating tenure." I can see nothing in the two words which gives me the least right to suppose that that is so, and I should not have hazarded a guess but for a very careful perusal of the Green Books. But what a policy at this time of day! With this great industry in a position of acute distress, as it is, all that the Liberal party can offer is cultivating tenure, which I do not believe they understand themselves.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
The policy of His Majesty's Government, as I understand it, is this: That we recognise that the industry is suffering and labouring under burdens which it is not able to carry, and the policy of the Government, as I believe, is to do what it can to lighten those burdens. This Liberal obsession for land tenure is shared by the Labour party. I see that the Labour party in their Amendment allude to the evils inherent in the private ownership of land. There is not often a point of contact between the two parties, but it is nice sometimes to find such a point, even though the whole tenor of the Labour Amendment is in condemnation of Liberal policy. While the Liberal party and the Labour party share this obsession in connection with land tenure, what do the farmers say about it? Allow me to quote an expression of opinion from two well-known farmers. Mr. Baxter, a past president of the National Farmers' Union, said this:According to the Liberal diagnosis of the ills of agriculture, the root of the trouble was to be found in the existing conditions of land tenure. This did not apply to tenants on estates owned by landlords 2012 who maintained the traditions of the English countryside, or to those farmers who were their own landlords. He had not been convinced either of the need or of the demand for drastic reform in this direction.Another, Mr. Robbins, said:The Liberal land policy failed to recognise the economic facts of the situation and attempted to square the circle.Dealing with the Socialist suggestion of a stabilisation of prices, Mr. Robbins said this:To stabilise them at present would be to stabilise ruin.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I happen to have here a quotation from a reference which he made to Conservative policy. He said:During the past year the Government have been definitely helpful and the relations between the Minister and the headquarters of the N.F.U. were excellent.With regard to the policy of the Government on foot-and-mouth disease, he expresses gratitude for the firm stand which the Minister took and says that a man with less courage would have given way before the storm of criticism which that policy raised. The Liberal and Labour parties cannot get this obsession to which I have already referred out of their minds, and, until they do so they will contribute nothing useful to the solution of the problem of the industry. I do not think the policy put forward by the Liberal party "will wash," however strongly it may be pressed upon the country but I should like to conclude on this note. In this matter I, personally, would prefer to be quit of all controversy as between parties. I regard the position of the agricultural industry as of such vital importance to the well-being of the nation that I wish to goodness we could sink all party differences in connection with it, and come together with a real will to pull the industry out of its present predicament.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I am sure the House has been interested in the speeches to which we have just listened. The Minister must have been interested to hear the views of the Mover, who is a town Member with a knowledge of deer forests, and also the views of the Seconder who has some knowledge of agriculture 2013 and represents an agricultural constituency. But I am sure if the hon. and gallant. Member for the Maldon Division of Essex (Lieut.-Colonel Ruggles-Brise) goes to his constituents and suggests the repeal of the Measure for security of tenure which the Liberal party passed during the eight years before the War, he will find that his constituents, whether Liberal or Tory, do not share his view about the place of tenure in the agricultural life of the country. The very presence on the Paper of this Motion is a confession of the bankruptcy of the Tory party and of the absence of any policy of their own which they can submit for discussion in this House. They have such a majority that they are able to get nine-tenths of the chances in the ballot for Motions and when the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel Lambert Ward) puts a Motion of this kind on the Paper, he only shows to the House and the country how little pains he has taken to consider the attitude of the Liberal party towards the land question. There has been such a lack of care in the framing of the Motion that the hon. and gallant Member has forgotten that when calling attention to the Liberal land policy, he should have asked for the attendance, not merely of the Minister of Agriculture but of the Minister of Health. The Liberal land policy concerns not only the Maldon Division of Essex but also the Central and North-West Divisions of Hull. It has a great deal to say about the use of land as site, as well as the use of land as soil. I propose to call the attention of the Mover to certain facts relating to his own constituency and to the Liberal policy for dealing with the evils which now exist in Hull due to the lack of a sound land system.
In my judgment this Motion rests on three misconceptions and a great omission. The omission is that to which I have just referred. The hon. Member makes the mistake of linking the word "land" merely with the use of land for agricultural purposes; but land policy means more than the growth of foodstuffs on the land. It means the use of the land by human beings to live and move, to work and play. As regards the misconceptions, the hon. and gallant Member the Mover said nothing about past Liberal policies, but the hon. and 2014 gallant Gentleman who seconded did say that past Liberal policies had failed, and I challenge his statement straight away. It is idle to pretend in this House, or in any agricultural constituency, that there is no desire on the part of thousands of village boys to get a chance to stay in their native villages instead of going into overcrowded towns or emigrating to other parts of the world, either in the Empire or in foreign lands. This is no laughing matter but is one of the grave features of our national life. If the hon. and gallant Member for the Maldon Division of Essex says there is no desire on the part of the village lads of Essex to stay in Essex rather than to go to New Zealand or Canada or Australia it shows he is out of touch with rural life.
§ Mr. BROWN
It is something to find that we are to some extent together on the point that there is such a desire as I have indicated. I would go further than the hon. and gallant Member, however, and I would say that the land hunger is so strong that in spite of every element working against its satisfaction there are still thousands of names on the books of the county councils and demands for thousands of acres of land. Before the Conservative Government's own Agricultural Tribunal of Investigation, Sir Francis Floud, a principal officer of the Ministry, not merely stated that there were some 14,000 applicants still unsatisfied but said that the number did not by any means express the real demand. If there is the same land hunger now as that which existed before 1906 when only 800 acres were provided—after 10 years of Conservative Government—for the use of the small men, that is due to several causes. One is that while some county councils have done their best to administer the Act, others have done nothing of the kind. I join issue with the hon. and gallant Member the Seconder on his generalisation that the Small Holdings Act has been well administered. One of the principal proposals in the agricultural part of the Liberal land policy is for a representative county agricultural authority composed of those who work in agriculture—owners, farmers and labourers—and that proposal is made because in certain 2015 counties, Essex being one of them, the ordinary labourers have no confidence in the handling of the small holdings Measure by the county councils of their district.
The second misconception on which this Motion is based is this. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Mover seemed to imagine that the Green Book is the Liberal policy with regard to the land. A moment's study would have shown him that this is not the case. I think the Minister of Agriculture himself would be the first to pay a tribute to the Green Book as an analysis of the situation. However much the right hon. Gentleman may differ from certain conclusions there I do not think he, as representing the Ministry of Agriculture in this House—even as a Tory Minister of Agriculture—would fail to pay a tribute to the mass of hard work which is represented in that compilation of facts and analyses. I will go further and say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman—
§ Major PRICE
Is it not reasonable to put it forward when it was put forward as the Liberal policy and not as an analysis of facts?
§ Mr. BROWN
The Green Book was put forward as the result of a long inquiry by a Liberal committee, but it was never put forward, in the country as the official policy of the Liberal party. I am very anxious about the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull, because I have noticed lately that he pays a great deal of attention to what Liberals say in the country. He made a very witty speech in the Debate on the Address, and I remember that the wittiest joke in it was borrowed from a Liberal, the Lord Chief Justice, who told the same joke some weeks before in Manchester, as reported in the "Manchester Guardian." I hoped, when I saw that he was going to call attention to the Liberal land policy, that he meant more than an elaborate leg-pull, that he meant a really serious discussion of what, after all, is a great contribution by a great party to a great national need, both in town and country.
His third misconception was this: Having interpreted Liberal land policy merely in terms of the Green Book—and the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker) was asking if there was such a 2016 thing; there is one of them here, and I shall be pleased to present him with a, copy a little later on. It will do them all good to read the Green Book—[Interruption.] I do not need to insult the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon by suggesting that I should give him one, because he said he had read several editions. Where he has found them, I do not know, because there are only two, but I will leave it at that. His other misconception was this, that this policy of the Liberal party, which I am presently going to outline, is one that was conceived to serve party exigencies. I do not take the point of view that the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney (Captain Garro-Jones) takes. It may be a good thing to have a policy suited to party exigencies, if you conceive of your party, as I do, as the best instrument for the good government of the country and the betterment of the conditions of the people who live on the land, whether in town or in country. But the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon misconceived the situation. He may make that kind of speech to Conservative Primrose League audiences and at smoking concerts in Maldon, but as he goes up and down he will find that there are people dwelling on the countryside, as there are people dwelling in the great cities, who are taking very seriously certain of the major proposals of the real Liberal land policy, not this caricature in this book.
There is one other thing that I want to point out as to the alleged failure of Liberal legislation with regard to the agricultural side of the community, and that is that during five years of Conservative administration, from 1900 to 1905, it was pointed out by a very strong supporter of the Government of that day, the Conservative party spent only four hours talking about agriculture. That was the late Lord Onslow, but despite the fact that the Liberal party up to the War period in 1914 always had to frame legislation with an eye to what the other Chamber down the corridor would aocept—despite that handicap—the Agricultural Holdings Act was passed. I defy any Conservative Member in this House sitting for an agricultural Division to go down next week to his constituents—I defy the hon. Member who represents Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) to 2017 go down to Barnstaple—and to suggest for one moment, not merely the repeal of the Liberal Agricultural Holdings Act, but tampering with the gains given to the tenant farmer under that Act in any way; and I know that that challenge will not be accepted, because whether or not the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon agrees with the demand on the part of the agricultural community for security of tenure or with all the results that have accrued from that Act, there is no working agriculturist in the country to-day who is a tenant farmer who would vote for any single Tory candidate if he suggested parting with that sheet anchor of their security.
With regard to the suggested failure of our legislation, let me take the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1907. From 1892 to 1905 there were 882 acres of land with 244 tenants under Tory small holdings legislation, but from 1907 to 1913, under the Small Holdings Act, described by the hon. and gallant Gentleman as a failure, 182,022 acres for 17,005 tenants were acquired. That is not all that I or my party would hive desired, but I will try in a moment or two to point out where I think one or two of the failures were. Now perhaps I had better remove the misconception of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull by pointing out that there is a Liberal land policy, that that Liberal land policy has a relation to the Green Book policy, but that it has no relation to the policy which he suggests, namely, a policy to serve party exigencies. If it is serving party exigencies, it is serving them because this party alone in this House or in the country has had the pluck and the courage to face the problem and to put all its books on the table for the nation to read, study, and argue about. If that is serving party exigencies, I am very happy to be one of those who are serving them. [Interruption.] Down in my native county of Devon we have a proverb which says: "Nobody goes to the funeral of one who dies often." We have so often heard that we are dead, but I can tell the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Duncan), I think it is, that the corpse will be home before the mourners, eating, drinking and making merry.
The Liberal land policy falls into two parts, urban and rural, and it is to be 2018 found in a series of resolutions. I shall be pleased to present the hon. and gallant Member with this copy of mine when this Debate is over. These resolutions were adopted by the freely elected representatives of the Liberal party after three days' debate in the Kingsway Hall, London, when some members of the party who agreed with the whole of the Green Book were there, when some who disagreed with some of the proposals of the Green Book were there, and when 2,000 delegates for three days listened to a great debate on the agricultural and the urban problem, and adopted these resolutions. I propose to trouble the House with those resolutions, because they are the Liberal land policy, and nothing else is. The first resolution deals with the need for reform of the countryside, and there the House, despite the sneers of the hon. and gallant Member for North West Hull, will be in general agreement, and even the hon. and gallant Member, in his heart, if he knows anything about the countryside at all, knows there is grave need for reform.
It is said that sometimes the outsiders see most of the game, and a celebrated French writer once said about this country that the nineteenth century in England was a struggle between black England and green England. He drew an imaginary line on the map from Bristol in the south-west to Newcastle in the north-east, and said that all below the line was green England and all above the line was black England. That is roughly true, leaving London out. Our industrial development has gone on side by side with, and largely at the expense of, the villages, which are the real England and where the real characteristics of our people are still happily to be found. If hon. Members thought a little less about party differences, they would all agree with this resolution that there is need for reform, whether they agreed with its terms or not. If there be one thing that this Government would be happy to find, it is a policy for reforming the countryside in order to put more men on the land, to grow more food and to stop the drainage and the hæmorrhage of the countryside that has been going on in the last half century or more.
The second resolution deals with the land worker and the farm, and seeks to 2019 interpret the real demands both of the land worker and of the farmer. I do not say it does interpret them, but I know a good deal about the countryside, for it has been my lot since the War to fight four times great agricultural constituencies, and I have lost twice. There are three Members of this House I have had the pleasure of fighting in rural divisions, and they will at least agree that I did take some trouble to find out what landowners, farmers and labourers were thinking. The third resolution deals with the complex problem of wages and rents. The fourth, which is the heart of the policy, deals with the proposal for a new agricultural authority, with seven definite and specific duties. The fifth deals with the problem of tenures, and points out, unlike the Green Book which sets out two systems of tenure, that, after discussion, there was a balance in favour of a greater variety.
§ Mr. BROWN
I will read the lot if the Speaker does not call me to order. As this is an attack on the Liberal land policy, I take it that I am at liberty to do so. I only wish I had another hour in which to deal with the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench, as I had the pleasure of doing a short time ago when we had a mutual debate. The sixth resolution deals with the question of the purchase price of land; the seventh with housing; and the last with that important factor of post-War countryside life, the plight of the occupying owner who bought his land either during or just after the War, at a highly inflated price. Anybody who knows anything about the countryside will realise, whatever the Liberal party did, or did not do, in its discussions, it did at least tackle the real problems involved in a solution of this question. With regard to the urban side of question, and the use of land for sites, again there is a resolution on the need for reform. There is one on the rating of land values, and one on the need for town-planning and for joint action by regional authorities. The hon. and gallant Gentleman for North West Hull knows enough of the needs of Hull to realise that, if there be one town in the country which would benefit by the application of regional planning, it is the city 2020 for which he happens to be of the most distinguished Members.
Then there is a resolution which would not affect Hull, but it does affect half the great towns of the country, and that is the resolution dealing with leasehold reform. I am encouraged to refer to this, because the Government lifted two pages from the Brown Book, "Towns and the land," in the Measure of leasehold reform which they gave to shopkeepers. I wish they had taken the whole chapter. Our resolution goes further than the Government went. The fifth resolution deals with arterial roads, a subject which will dominate the discussions of this House with regard to the movements of population, transport and health. Then there is a resolution dealing with the acquisition of land, and another on betterment, the proposal being to help to make public improvements pay for themselves, instead of putting money into private owners' pockets. The last, and a very important, resolution deals with the provision of allotments. These resolutions show that the Liberal party did address its mind to the crucial problems of the town and city dwellers. Turning again to the first resolution, it is generally said that this policy will mean hoards of officials. I beg the House to believe me when I say that, in the whole of the discussions on this question, the members of the Liberal party were at one in their desire to avoid the creation of a single unnecessary official. I will go further, and say that they are well aware of the results of the action, which was necessary in the circumstances, taken by officials having definite powers for ploughing up land during the War.
Our policy seeks not to increase, but rather to decrease, officials. It is often overlooked by those who talk about officials on the land, that, at the present moment, it is estimated that it costs £2,000,000 a year in officials to run the estates of this country, but nothing is said about those officials, because they have been there for hundreds of years, and are taken for granted, and the tenant, who helps to pay the £2,000,000 a year, does not know he makes the contribution. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite in error in trying to show a similarity between the Socialist agricultural policy and the Liberal policy. In point of fact, there is a contrast, and 2021 I propose to state it. Although the Socialist policy is not a 600-page policy, it is a contribution worth consideration; indeed, any contribution to this problem by a body of thoughtful citizens is worthy of consideration in the present state of the agricultural industry and of town dwellers. The contrast between the Liberal policy and the Socialist policy is this: The Socialist policy aims at having as many people as possible direct servants of the State, and as few as possible living independently on the land. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, when he comes to move his Amendment, will disagree with that statement of the case. He might or might not. I am trying to be fair, and that is how I read it. The Liberal policy aims at having as many as possible working independently on the land and as few as possible the direct servants of the State.
There is another book with a green cover, not called "The Green Book," which is worthy of the attention of all who are thinking deeply about the problem of prices; whether they believe in letting things alone; whether they have a hankering for tariffs, as hon. Members opposite have, though realising that the Minister for Agriculture, in his straightforward and honest way always says bluntly to the farmers that they have nothing to hope for from his Government or any other in the matter of tariffs; whether they favour the stabilisation of prices; or whether they take the view held on these benches that the end can be achieved on a basis of security of tenure accompanied by State credit and by organised and directed co-operation. Whatever view he takes, any Member who wants to get to the heart of the problem will be well advised to get the latest Liberal agricultural report, "The Farmer and his Market." I want to be as modest in my claims for my own party as I can be, and I believe the Minister will agree with that suggestion, and at any rate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton), the late Minister of Agriculture, has done us the honour of bringing it down to the House to discuss it to-night, whether his attitude be congratulatory or critical.
Let me proceed to one or two other points before I come to the resolutions. [Interruption.] There is no trouble about going on. The only trouble is 2022 whether I shall not weary the House and the forbearance of the Chair. On the question of control the Minister of Agriculture is going to find himself in a difficulty. For many weary months he has been consulting with financial and agricultural authorities about credits. While the landlord and the tenant system at its best is probably the best system of land holding, he knows perfectly well the truth of what is predecessor in office, Lord Irwin said, namely, that the system has broken down over a large part of the country and that capital no longer flows. The hon. and gallant Member for Maldon attributed the cause of that to the Liberal party. I think he was quite unfair in doing so. It is true that when the late Sir William Harcourt, from that Box, introduced the Death Duties in, I think, 1892, that the Conservative party opposed them with all the vehemence possible, but directly the late Sir Michael Hicks-Beach filled the same post as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Tory Government, not merely did he continue those Death Duties but he increased them, so there can be no party complaint on that score. We may have been the original villains, but every Government has accepted that great instrument of finance and extended its application, and that remark applies to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have here a very interesting quotation on the subject of control, dated the 12th March, 1928, from a journal which for many years was known as the "Mark Lane Express," but is now called the "Farmers' Express." It is asking, "Why not subsidies?" and goes on to state the difficulties. I am quite free to confess that in my judgment the subsidy did not break down on wheat, but broke down because some farmers who grow oats were too greedy about oats; but that is past history. This very week-end, l2th March, the "Farmers' Express," discussing a possible subsidy from the present Minister, says this:A subsidy would naturally entail a certain amount of control, but should not mean official supervision as regards the actual rotation of crops and management of the farm, and, so long as land was cultivated according to the rules of good husbandry, a control of this sort would not, we think, be objected to by the ordinary farmer, as, with very few exceptions, the farmers of Great Britain are the best in the world.2023 If I were going to put into language what was in our minds when we framed the recommendations at the Liberal conference I could not have chosen more fitting words, and I think my hon. Friends below me will agree with me. The right hon. Gentleman knows that if we are to get a drive on in the countryside, to stop the drain from the countryside, to get more men there, to grow more food, and to market that food better in the interest of the consumer in the town and of the producer who grows it, credit has got to come from State sources. But he is in this dilemma—as long as the present system of landlord and tenant operates, if he gives credit he cannot pick and choose. He may give credit to those who will not use that credit for good cultivation.
I am glad the Prime Minister is here. May I point out to him that where his own policy of the bonus went wrong in 1923 was this—the very same dilemma was in the minds of the farmers. Good cultivators of arable land said "We shall get our 30s., but men who are not good cultivators, who just scratch the soil, will also get 30s., and it is neither fair to us nor to the country." I think the dilemma is there, and that the Minister will be up against it, and has been up against it in the discussions during recent months. The State cannot ask the 45,000,000 of our people for millions of money for credits unless it is assured that it will reap results in better food production and a better system of husbandry, and there we come right up against the problem of control. I will go further and say this, that the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman is in with regard to the owners is the same. It is a question of the good farmer and the indifferent one. As the Green Book points out, the best British farmer is still the best farmer in the world, but there is a very big gap between the best and the second best, as, indeed, there is a very big gap between the best land, which gives such a rich yield of Wheat, and second or third grade land. It is very interesting to recall that this weekend the "Farmers' Gazette," in suggesting a subsidy, was forced to express, in language which I would have chosen myself, the need for control, not by means of the direction of cultivation, but by means of the application to all farms 2024 in the district of a certain standard which is common to the whole district—a very different thing from the wartime control.
I am afraid I have left myself no time, without wearying the patience of the House, to deal with the resolutions, but before I sit down I must say a word on the urban side of the problem. I think I am entitled to do so because of the source from which this attack on the Liberal land policy comes. I want to show that this Liberal land policy has an urban side. Let us look at Hull. I have here the report for 1925 of the Medical Officer of Health for the city of Hull. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull has seen it, but I expect he has. At the end of that book there is a very interesting chart, a sketch plan of the city. It gives the wards. It gives North-West Hull and Central Hull, West and East, and it gives tables showing the birth rate per 1,000 of the population, the death rate per 1,000 of the population, the zymotic death rate per 1,000 of the population, the infantile death rate per 1,000 births and the estimate of population per acre. From that sketch plan alone, the hon. and gallant Member, even if he does not agree with the green book, should be moved to argue a resolution based on the brown book in the city of Hull. I will trouble the House only with the statistics respecting infantile mortality. The rate of infantile mortality in the hon. and gallant Member's own city is in direct ratio to the density of population per acre. It so happens that he himself is the representative of a seat, where, for the most part, the population is not dense. On this matter I do not want to insult the citizens of North-West Hull or the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I have no doubt the electors chose between the candidates who come up, and any candidate who gets a majority is entitled to think that the electors who return him are an intelligent body of people. In the Newland Ward, the population per acre is 19.2; and infantile mortality 54 per 1,000 births. In the West Central Division, instead of 19.2 per acre the density of the population is 151.2 per acre.
Does the hon. Member infer that the Parliamentary representatives are responsible for that?
§ Mr. BROWN
No wonder the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) takes a different view of the land problem from that which is held by the hon. and gallant Member opposite. I am pointing out that these facts are not born of party bias, but they arise from deep-rooted causes under the land laws of this country. In West Central Hull, 151.2 persons live on an acre of land, and the infant death-rate per 1,000 births is 117. That is to say that the babies born in the Newland Ward have twice as good a chance to thrive and grow to manhood as those who live in the Central Division of Hull.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I have been reading the Motion before the House, and it is certainly couched in very wide terms; but I very much doubt whether it includes the subject which the hon. Member is now raising.
§ Mr. BROWN
This Motion is one which calls attention to the Liberal Land policy, and we are not responsible if the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite does not understand that there was a Liberal land policy which applied to the whole of the land of the country and which relates to his own constituency. We are discussing the Liberal land policy.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That relates to the Liberal land policy of the past. I do not know whether the hon. Member is suggesting that the conditions to which he is now referring are due to the Liberal land policy of the past.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Motion refers to the Liberal land policy of the past, and also to the Green Book. I do not know whether the subject to which the hon. Member is referring is in the Green Book or not.
§ Mr. BROWN
The terms of the Motion are not confined to the Green Book, but they deal with the past policy. I fully expected the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite to justify his reference to the Liberal policy in connection with past legislation. With all due respect, I contend that you ought not to be put into the difficult position of deciding between a Member who is so incompetent that he cannot frame his Motion in accordance with the principles of the party he represents.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now accusing the Mover of the Motion of making it too wide, but the hon. Member for Leith is now trying to make it even wider than it is.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
In view of the fact that this Motion is one to call attention to the policy of the Liberal land legislation of the past, do you rule, Captain FitzRoy, that we are not to discuss urban land as well? In any definition of land, town problems come in for consideration, and I submit that we are entitled to deal with the urban problems as well as rural problems.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I was trying to connect the hon. Member's argument with the Liberal land policy of the past, but I cannot do it.
§ Mr. BROWN
I have no desire to get round your ruling, but let me point out that the Liberal land policy of the past has been directed to several purposes. One object of that policy is to secure for the tillers of the land a better life on the land and a larger production of foodstuffs. We also want to secure a better use of the land. Over and over again, we have had Debates about the Liberal policy in regard to the urban side of this question. The Liberal land policy of the past was responsible for the Housing and Town Planning Act, which was the first Measure passed in relation to that matter, and it was introduced by Mr. John Burns. That Act gave us the powers which we now have for the acquisition of land upon fairer terms than used to be the case when Conservative Governments did not see the necessity for public authorities being able to purchase land for schools, water supply, houses, and small holdings at a fair price.
2027 The Liberal land policy has also dealt with the primary need of land legislation, namely, a fair valuation of the land of the country. The Budget of 1909 was really framed, not so much from the point of view of taxation, as to get a valuation of the land. As a result of the Liberal land legislation of the past, local authorities have saved many millions of pounds, because they have been able to buy land at fairer prices. The people in the towns have not room enough to live or work in comfort, and the Resolutions to which I have referred apply in that way.
Perhaps hon. Members will permit me to read one resolution. I often read the speeches of Conservative Members of Parliament, and I am ready to admit that there are two or three of them who really address their minds to what is contained in their own land policy. This resolution is the one dealing with a county authority, and it says:It should carry out the work of rural betterment with a due regard to the varying conditions which exist in different parts of the country. There should be in every county a representative agricultural authority, including owners, farmers, smallholders, allotment holders and land workers. The authority should be advised by responsible advisers of high standing, and should be armed with all the powers that may be necessary for the efficient and rapid performance of the following duties, which should be imposed upon it by law.It should keep under survey all agricultural land in its area. and enforce good cultivation by all possible means.It should take over all land that is badly managed or badly farmed, and any other land which, in the interests of good cultivation and of the population on the land, should be under its control The owner of any land which it is proposed to take over should have a right of appeal to an impartial tribunal.It should meet the demands of qualified applicants for small holdings and family farms.It. should ensure for every land worker who desires it half an acre of land at a fair rent, subject to good cultivation, and allotments should be available wherever there is a demand for them.It should have power to take over compulsorily all land that is necessary for these purposes, and, unless it satisfies the Minister of Agriculture that such action is unnecessary, should take over any agricultural land which the owner desires to dispose of.It should take over any land on which any owner is assessed for payment of Death Duties, land to the value of the Death 2028 Duties so assessed being taken in lieu of the payment of Death Duties.In the case of land offered for sale with the concurrence of the Minister of Agriculture that is not taken over by the county agricultural authority, the sitting tenant should have a prior right over any other purchaser to acquire the holding at a fair valuation made in accordance with the principles set out below.There are three of these principles, and it goes on:It should be the duty of the authority to take part in the administration of agricultural credit for the assistance of cultivators so as to provide:The last part of the fourth resolution reads as follows:
- (1) Necessary credit for land workers and others entering upon the tenancy of a holding.
- (2) Long-term credit for permanent improvements and for the purchase of their farms by sitting tenants and the repayment of mortgages charged on farms already purchased, and short-term credit for the turnover of crops sown."It should also be its duty to promote co-operation among cultivators and the more efficient marketing of produce; to promote and conduct agricultural research and education; to encourage the development of village industries; and to foster the amenities of village life.I thought that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was very daring when he talked about research and education. He said that there were only eight miserable little pages on these subjects in the Green Book. He is quite wrong. It is true that in the section on these problems there are eight pages, but, if he had taken the trouble to go through the very valuable Appendices of that book, he would have found more than one thing about research and education. He would have found there a good deal of knowledge gained at the expense of a great deal of trouble from several countries on the Continent. I wonder that he dared say that, for I have here the Agricultural White Paper of the present Government, and I think there are just two lines in it about education and research, and not eight miserable pages.
I am afraid I have trespassed much too long upon the time of the House. I know that there are other Members who want to speak, and I must content myself with hoping for better luck myself in the Ballot next Session, and for the opportunity of putting down a Motion calling attento what is really the Liberal land policy 2029 and getting an adequate discussion upon it. I should only like, in conclusion, to tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman an old story which I think is pertinent to his own party's policy. A painter had lost his reason, and he was found day after day looking at a canvas which was absolutely blank. Some friends came to him and asked, "What is that picture?" He said, "It is a picture of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea." He was asked, "Where are the Israelites?" and he replied, "They have gone over." Then he was asked, "Where is the Red Sea?" "That," he said, "has been rolled back." "Then," his friends asked, "where are the hosts of Pharaoh?" and he replied, "They have not yet arrived." Our policy, at least, has arrived, and, more than that, it is being discussed eagerly this very night in hundreds of villages up and down the country. Indeed, I venture to say it is being discussed over many a glass of Guinness's stout in many a public-house to-night; and when the Scottish Committee which has been sitting under the chairmanship of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) publishes its Report, we shall then have the Green Book, the Brown Book, the Golden Book, and the Tartan Book, and this party of ours will once more have made good its claim to lead the intellectual life of the nation in really grappling with these basic problems.
§ Sir JOHN POWER
The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), who has delivered such a very interesting speech, has told us that he fought three constituencies and was defeated twice. It would appear, therefore, that we can trust the people at least twice out of three times. The hon. Member seemed to take exception to the fact that the Mover of this Amendment represented a town, and, if I may say so, I think that most of the troubles of agriculture are due to the fact that more town Members do not take an interest in this very vital question. I have read the Green Book with much interest, and the first thing that struck me about it was that it is got up in the form in which we find modern artistic fairy tales, that is to say, a certain part of it is printed in one type, and then you have another type following on. The Liberal party's policy in this connection seems to me to have 2030 been formed in entire ignorance of the fundamentals of the situation. The whole trouble with agriculture, in my humble opinion, is that industry has been in direct conflict with agriculture ever since the repeal of the Corn Laws, and agriculture has been the sufferer, having only been allowed to take such crumbs as have fallen from industry's table. Industry has got into the habit of regarding agriculture as an inferior, as a sort of poor relation that could be ignored all along the line, and yet would always produce the necessary food to keep an industrial population going.
I do not think there is the slightest doubt that there is a direct conflict between the interests of agriculture and industry, and, agriculture being disorganised, and being run by, perhaps, a slower-thinking class, has so far suffered. There is no doubt, however, that, if industry is to go on enjoying the benefit that it gets from agriculture in the shape of cheap food, it will have to turn some of its attention to its poorer sister. I do not think it is at all possible for agriculture to go on indefinitely in the starvation conditions which industry has forced upon it. What is the result of this policy? There is no doubt that the land is going out of cultivation rapidly, and is getting into a bad condition for want of necessary manurial elements. The safeguarding of agriculture is rather out of the question, because it has no unemployment. Why has it no unemployment? Because people engaged in agriculture get out of it as fast as they can; they escape from the degrading conditions under which they work, which deny to them all hope of any decent livelihood or provision for their old age, and condemn them to a life of penury and poverty. That is one of the things, to my mind, which agriculture owes to the predominant part that industry takes in the life of the country, and, until industry turns its attention to this vital and basic industry, I do not look for any improvement. At the present time, industry is able to dictate to agriculture the wage that agriculture shall pay. The wage that agriculture pays, miserably inadequate as it is, is not the result of the economic condition of agriculture; it is the result of the economic condition of industry. It is forced upon agriculture by industrial standards, and agriculture 2031 at the present time is paying its labourers a miserable sum of 30s. a week.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I was going to suggest that the hon. Member should connect it with the Motion before the House.
§ Sir J. POWER
I should be sorry if I transgressed against your ruling. I am trying to confine myself to the Liberal land policy in the past which has brought about this condition of things and, if I am to continue, it is very difficult for me to avoid making reflections on the position as I find it now as the result of the past policy of the Liberal party. I found nothing in the Green Book to suggest that industry owed a debt to agriculture or to suggest that some of the many millions, which we now spend on our Navy in order to protect our food supplies from abroad, might be diverted to the protection of our food supply at home. It was the omissions in that book that drew my attention rather than what was actually in it. I have listened to a great many Debates on the Liberal policy on agriculture. I sat on these benches for an hour and seventeen minutes and listened to the hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) and, when he had finished, I was quite at sea as to what the Liberal policy was. I have listened to-night for nearly an hour to the hon. Member for Leith and I did not gain very much from his oration. I do not think that a loud voice and considerable vehemence have really covered up a threadbare policy. If we are to attack the question, we shall have to make up our minds whether we will let agriculture go, and become a nation that lives on imported food, on canned meat, imported fruits and dried milk, whether we are to become a nation absolutely divorced from our food resources and, in fact, a parasite nation living on the results of the labours of other agricultural people. I found no remedies for these things in the Green Book. I do not intend to go into the urban aspect of the question, but I will say that, until the urban population take a more active interest in agriculture, I do not see how this national question will ever be settled satisfactorily.
§ Mr. RILEY
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsin the opinion of this House, the Liberal land policy, like the past and present Conservative land policy, in failing to recognise the evils inherent in the private ownership of land, is not calculated to restore agriculture to its proper position as a basic industry, employing an ever increasing number in the production of food.I want to deal briefly with past and present agricultural policy and then with the Liberal policy. Fortunately, there is not a very great deal to be said about the Conservative policy because, as far as agriculture is concerned, although a great deal has been said by Conservative leaders and Conservative Governments about what they proposed to do for agriculture, their general policy may be characterised by the words used by a former Cabinet Minister in a Liberal Government some years ago when, referring to the Conservative party, he said that they were not worth throwing cabbages at. I hope I may say without offence that that describes very well the Conservative policy with regard to agriculture. It is not worth throwing cabbages at. As far back as 1892, after much consideration, they brought forward their first Agricultural Small Holdings Bill. It lasted until 1908. As has already been said, that great Conservative Measure, designed to meet one side of the agricultural problem, resulted in 15 years in 800 acres and 242 tenants. That is the contribution of the great Conservative party to the revival of rural England in the space of 15 years! There is not, therefore, much to be said about that policy except its disastrous failure.
Leaving the Conservative party and coming to the Liberal party, I would point to what history has got to say about the genuineness of the Liberal party's attachment to agricultural reform. I remember very well the passing of the Parish Councils Act, 1894. Just as in 1892 the Conservative party, after many years of pushing, had taken a great plunge with a small holdings purchase scheme that never cut any ice at all but was a complete failure and had to be abandoned, so in the same way in 1893 the whole country was alive about the intention of the Liberals with regard to the labourer in the village and his Magna Carta—five acres for every man who 2033 wanted it. Then we got, in 1894, the Parish Councils Act, which everybody supposed at the time was going to give every labourer in the village the right to be a free man living on his own land. When we went to examine the Bill—and I was one of those who had to try to operate it when it became an Act—we found that the great Liberal party, professing its attachment to real democracy, had so arranged the Parish Councils Act that the real power of acquiring land for the labourer of the village was not in his council at all, but depended on the caprice of the farmers who formed the allotment committees of the county councils.
§ Mr. RILEY
No, never. I was a member of the Labour party as far back as 1890. There is a very interesting historic aspect of what I am now speaking about. Such was the disappointment of so many workmen in villages with the inability to work the 'Parish Councils Act in a real way that next year when the elections came, in 1895, the Liberals went out of office for 10 years until 1905. They came back to power in 1906 and, having learned a little wisdom, we got in 1908 the Small Holdings Act of the Liberal Government of that day. It was a good Act. I give it my meed of praise. It resulted, in something like four or five years, in securing 200,000 acres of land and settling 13,000 smallholders. So far so good. After that, the Liberals forgot their attachment to agriculture and the War came, but recently there has been a revival. They have been in adversity for some years past.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has evolved a great programme. While I think the diagnosis of the Liberal party is perfectly sound and goes to the root of the matter, they have not the courage to apply what they know is the real remedy. The Green Book put it forward, and they have withdrawn the Green Book. The real root of the difficulty is that landlordism has broken down. There is a lack of capital, which the State only can provide, to revive agriculture. They say so in their analysis, and, having said it in their Green Book, 2034 in the official resolution a compromise was made. The rich men of the party, not accepting their leader's first demand for the right of the nation to own the freehold of the nation, had to climb down and make a compromise. The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Brown) has tried to explain it. I thought perhaps he overloaded it with too much verbiage, but, reduced to its simplest form, it is that what is wrong fundamentally with agriculture is that the old system of landlord and tenant has broken down, and the landlord can no longer find the capital necessary to keep agriculture in an efficient state to meet the conditions of to-day. The hon. Member for Leith said quotations made with regard to the breakdown of landlordism were not simply the words of the Green Book, but were the words of Lord Irwin which were quoted; but the Green Book says the same thing.Landlordism no longer does what it exists to do. The land of any country is the basis of national existence. No private person can own any of it in the same way as he may own other forms of property.Having diagnosed that what is standing in the way of Great Britain getting a move on towards some revival of agriculture is the fact that it is an industry that is being affected by a factor which is no longer able to function, namely, landlordism, to find the capital necessary, they go on to say, "We will try to make a compromise." The remedy is to form some three forms of tenancy. In the first place, they propose to continue what they call landlord tenancy—that is to continue the landlord system —secondly, they will recognise the continuation of occupying ownership; and, thirdly, they will also have cultivating tenancy; but, as to how much cultivating tenancy, how much landlord tenancy, that is left entirely open. All that is said is that the county authority may be given power, if so disposed—a county authority consisting of landowners, farmers, and small labourers—to acquire land to be owned by the State and to be developed in the national interest. I do not think it is questioned in the House—it is common ground in all parties to-day—that agriculture is not going to be revived except by a good deal of State and national enterprise. It is common ground that there is going to be no possible chance of dealing with 2035 the problem that agriculture presents unless the State steps in and finds the substance and the capital which private landlordism is not able to find.
I want to show the Liberal party where their policy leads. We had the other day the Report of the Drainage Commission, only confirming what was stated in the Report on Agriculture of 1925, that no less than one-seventh of the cultivated agricultural land in England and Wales is in danger of losing its productivity; 1,500,000 acres of it are waterlogged. We have this Report, and at the conclusion of it this statement of the Commissioners:We cannot disguise from ourselves the fact that the permanent deterioration through continuous flooding and water-logging of large areas of land now in use, involves in any country the loss of a valuable national asset. In many continental countries this fact is recognised by the State and a State contribution rendered available by way of augmentation of the fund provided by such local drainage rates as can be imposed without constituting an excessive and inequitable burden on agricultural land … We are, therefore, strongly of the opinion that until the State is prepared to accept due financial obligations with regard to such works as those above indicated, very little progress can be made, even with the scheme which we have adumbrated, towards the realisation of the ideal of an 'efficient system of arterial drainage.'Here is the Report of a Commission, which said that, unless the State is prepared to accept the responsibility, nothing can he done. The Liberal land policy leaves the land under the Landlord and Tenant Act. Is the Liberal party in its policy going to support what the Commissioners say is necessary—State subventions—[An HON. MEMBER: "But not State ownership!"]—to defray the cost of drainage for private landlords? Is that the Liberal policy?
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Does not the hon. Gentleman's own policy leave all the land now in the hands of occupying owners still in their hands and refuses to take in the ownership of land having higher values than agricultural land?
§ Mr. RILEY
It leaves it permissible. It is perfectly right. Therefore, the Labour policy does say that the occupying owners, if they so desire, may be left in possession. It is also agreed that the land surrounding towns which may have 2036 a building value may be left for further consideration. My main point is that, apart from these exceptions, the Labour party's policy is to acquire agricultural land, because it knows that agriculture cannot be developed, that transport, electricity, telephones, light railways and drainage cannot be developed without spending State money.
§ Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN
Has the Drainage Report as much to do with the land as with the drainage of the rivers? It is not land drainage at all.
§ Mr. RILEY
It would be very interesting to argue in this House the duty of the State to carry out arable drainage for the benefit of landlords. What would be the inevitable result? After all, there are no two opinions that any expenditure of money on improvements will make itself felt sooner or later in the shape of increased rent. Let me call a witness upon this point, and it is a crucial aspect which demonstrates the soundness of the Labour party's policy against the Liberal party's policy. Take the case of Professor Orwin, who was appointed by the late Mr. Bonar Law to be a member of the Agricultural Tribunal which reported in 1924. No doubt, very largely as a result of Professor Orwin's experience in his work on that Committee, spread over three or four years, surveying Europe as well as Great Britain, he came to the conclusion that in this country the only solution was that agriculture needed to have a State responsibility, and that the only way to achieve this was to acquire the land for the State. He said:There is no answer to the argument that any benefit to the land would accrue sooner or later to the landlord.That is what Professor Orwin says—not a Member of the Labour party. He goes on to say:The State always must be precluded from taking direct action to foster rural industry so long as private ownership in land exists with tenant occupation.2037 Does agriculture require national enterprise? Does it require national capital? Does drainage require to be attended to nationally? If national money is to be used to improve the land, our contention is that you cannot justify the expenditure unless the nation owns the land and reaps the benefit from its expenditure.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
I beg to second the Amendment.
The Mover, the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel L. Ward) this evening distinguished sharply between the Liberal party and the Labour party in the chief charge that he makes in his Motion, and charged the Liberal party with being guilty of window-dressing, and that this is their motive for putting forward a policy at all. I feel that we ought to throw out our chests and feel highly flattered by his admission that against us any such charge would fall to the ground. Consequently, in view of this compliment which he pays to us, I feel somewhat ungrateful in having to resist the Motion, but I feel impelled to second my hon. Friend's Amendment to resist it with all my heart. The hon. and gallant Gentleman makes, after all, another charge which is a much more serious charge. He blames the Liberal party because they are too active in reform, and on that ground I differ profoundly from him. In my view, they are not active enough, and I have no fault to find with their policy except that it is, to my mind, a half-hearted policy. I think that almost all members of the Labour party have felt a great deal of sympathy with the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) for a general acquisition, in the interests of the public, of agricultural land. We know how hard he fought against an alteration at that conference to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) alluded. He deeply regrets that the policy does not include acquisition. We regret it, too. We say it in the Amendment, and if words mean anything it is our remedy. Indeed, the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull, in making an attack on the Liberal party, ought to have distinguished which Liberal party—is he against the Liberal Tories or the Liberal Radicals?
§ Mr. BUXTON
We know that there is a profound gulf which separates the policy of one from the policy of the other. This Debate would be very much more real if, instead of being a Debate between Conservatives and Liberals, it was a Debate between the Liberal Tory and Liberal Radical. I have some very serious objections to the Liberal policy. I should like to specify why I think it does not go far enough. Time is very short, but I will mention one or two points. In its main essentials its ideal is the occupying owner, or what is called the cultivating tenant who, in effect, is freeholder. It is an absolute illusion to put forward an ideal of this sort in regard to the occupying owner, who is on his trial to a very great extent already in this country and who, unfortunately, has not been able to show that he does better as an occupying owner than he did as a tenant. He is short of capital, certainly shorter than he was before. I would like to adduce in support of my view the opinion, not heard in this House, of the land agents for Crown lands, Messrs. Carter & Jonas, the well-known firm. In a report issued in regard to Crown lands they say:At the date of our appointment there were two different methods of dealing with repairs. In the Northern Counties, the tenants were under full repairing agreements, no materials being allowed by the Crown, while in the Southern Counties the Crown found materials and the tenants paid for labour. The first method was found to be most unsatisfactory as it is very difficult to compel the tenant farmer to carry out the full repairing lease, the result being that on a change of tenancy the Crown was faced with a heavy expenditure to put the premises into a proper state of repair.That, in essence, indicates the weak point in a system by which you throw on to your farmers the burden of equipment, and of keeping their buildings and drainage up-to-date. That is precisely what will not meet the urgent need of to-day or lead to better equipment than we have already. The hon. Member for Leith in his arguments for raising the standard of cultivation found some difficulty in showing that it would not mean any kind of compulsion. You cannot have it both ways.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I thought I had made myself clear. The charge that I was rebutting 2039 was not that of compulsion, but that it would mean hordes of officials.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I agree with the hon. Member on that point, but if he insists on a certain standard of cultivation his system is not an efficient one. I would quote again the authority of Professor Orwin, who said in a recent work:The only person who can apply the necessary pressure is the landlord, and the only basis for the proper direction of farming is the contract of tenancy. If the State were constituted universal landlord, it would be possible to define the conditions, subject to which the land was to be held, so as to maintain the maximum possible amount of cultivation.Everyone knows that if you try to exercise pressure you are involved in ownership. If you go to the length of insisting that any different form or better cultivation shall be adopted, you are driven by the pure logic of facts to provide an owner, who is in a position to insist on a high standard of cultivation. That was done in the War, and after the War to such an extent that when Lord Lee was Minister of Agriculture he made permanent the system of standardisation in that form. You are driven to ownership because there is no other way to secure your control.
I would like to mention other defects that occur to us in the Liberal scheme. In the form of cultivating tenure it puts the farmer into the position of perpetual leaseholder, whose rent is not to be altered; not to be raised whatever happens. Whatever increase in profitability may occur, his position practically as freeholder is secure. Surely, that ignores two things. It ignores the dislike of the farmer for being made responsible for equipment for the outlay of his money, probably none too great for carrying on the farm, for the buildings and for equipment of the farm. He will not lay out the money. You cannot possibly expect him to put money into the land, the fixed capital of the farm, unless he has absolute security. So long as there is a chance that the hon. Member for Leith and his friends are going to turn him out for refusing to farm properly, you will wait a long time before that man will be inclined to lay out his capital.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
When the State is owner is it not going to turn 2040 them off? Where the State is owner at the present time it is constantly turning off tenants because they do not farm well
§ Mr. BUXTON
That is why we are of opinion that you must rely upon the State for the equipment of the farm. That is the difference. The State must embark to a larger extent in the expenditure of capital on the farm, and thereby you do secure your equipment and retain your control. Supposing a man has laid out money and remains in occupation, and after his death his son proves to be unfitted for farming. The hon. Member for Leith may wish to put in a better tenant. The case has to go before some tribunal. Public opinion will not support the hon. Member in removing even the son of a man who has laid out his money, who has in the public view won for his descendants a very strong claim to remain on the farm. That is an objection to the system which is called cultivating tenancy.
There is a further objection, and that is that so long as you leave a very large proportion of the land of the country in private ownership, and the permanent tenants of the State are to secure any improvement in values, you cannot expect the public to put its hands into its pocket to lay out money on large schemes of improvement, drainage, new transport plans, marketing improvements, etc. It means that you are going to give away money to people who have done nothing to earn it, all because you have not placed yourself in the position of ownership under which the State, the public, will secure the resulting benefit.
This is not the occasion for going at greater length into details of criticism. I cannot find myself in agreement with my Liberal friends because their policy is neither cold nor hot, and I would commend them to study the utterances of St. Paul, when he reprimanded the Christians who were neither cold nor hot, more than he reprimanded the Christians who were simply cold. It is a policy which fails to realise the evil which is fundamental to this industry. We have sound and good reasons for advocating the policy of national ownership and, therefore, I support the Amendment which indicates what I think is the only real solution of the problem.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Certainly hon. Members who sit on the Back Benches have had an extremely interesting Debate to-night, and I should just like to say a few words not only to the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) but also to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, and I hope they will take them in the spirit in which they are meant. I should like first of all to make one criticism on both. I speak without prejudice on this matter, but I think that the solution of the land policy of this country does not depend on the question of land tenure. Let me give one reason. In this country you have all kinds of land tenure under the sun. You have the owner who farms his own land, you have the system of occupying ownership of large farms and small farms, and you have the system of small holdings. You have also the tenant farmer system and, in addition, charities and educational authorities, some of them farming their own land and some of them leasing their land. Then, in addition, some of this land is thoroughly well drained and some of it is badly drained. It has been said that drainage has to do with the problem, but if you take the whole of the industry the agriculturists are not doing well, and when you have every kind of land tenure in this country and you find that on the whole they are not doing well, then the reason does not lie with land tenure.
Take the Liberal land policy. I am not quite sure that I have realised what it is yet in its final aspect, because I believe the proposals in the Green Book have been altered by resolutions. At any rate, it has been given up in parts. The Liberal party have failed in their land policy during recent years, but I hope we shall have a new one every five years, as it makes very interesting reading. The hon. Member for Leith did not really address himself to the question as to whether the Liberal policy, that is a change in land tenure, was a good one or not nor did he criticise the present system and for that reason he failed in his arguments this evening. Let me put one question to him, and it goes to the root of a good deal of the trouble in the country. He says that he is not going to have a single unnecessary official. He was very careful to put in the word unnecessary. What does he mean by unnecessary. I have a list 2042 here of officials which it is understood the Liberal party will have to let loose on the country if their policy is adopted.
There will have to be a Central Agricultural Loans Board, with its officials, a County Loans Board in every county, with its officials; a County Agricultural Authority in every county, with its officials; Land Commissioners for each county, with their officials; a Land Court, with its officials; a Central Land Fund, with its officials; county land offices, with its officials; Rural Housing Boards, with its officials; a Commission on Co-operation, with its officials, and a London establishment much larger than the present Ministry of Agriculture. I suggest that this would cost, not £2,000,000, but nearer £4,000,000. We want the matter cleared up on the one point alone. Let me now address myself for the moment to the Amendment of the Labour party. There has been a considerable change to-night from what they said during the last Debate on agriculture. In that Debate there were only two speakers from the Opposition side, and the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) intimated that the cost of a change of land tenure would be in the neighbourhood of £700,000,000, which no doubt would be obtained by loan. The other speaker from the Opposition side advocated that the fertility of the land should be increased by the use of sewage, and I suppose we shall have the Labour party at the next election, asking the electors to provide them with £700,000,000; and use more sewage.
There are two things which I think the Government might do for agriculture. The first is, to relieve the land from rates and, secondly, to provide some means of land credit. I hope that we shall have something from the Government this year dealing with these two. points, although they do not go entirely to the root of the trouble. The real root of the trouble in agriculture is the fact that we are being swamped by foreign products, and none of the speakers on the Opposition side, either Liberal or Labour, have addressed themselves to this particular problem.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
The hon. and gallant Member may not have heard anything from these benches on that point, but the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, dealt with it some months ago in the country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I am quite aware of that, but I was calling attention to the fact that the Liberal party have not addressed themselves to the question this evening.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
Will the hon. and gallant Member tell us what he would propose to deal with this great problem?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I am criticising the policy of the Liberal party and I am trying to show that they do not address themselves to the real problem upon which the success of agriculture depends. Between now and the next election I hope that the Government will address themselves to this question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am very glad that that statement has the assent of hon. Members opposite. When Members on the Socialist Benches approach the question of free imports of every kind into this country, they will begin to realise that the welfare of the workers, their rate of wages, and the whole of their social position cannot be indefinitely maintained under our present system. I hope very much to find a great turnover of the party in a non-party spirit on this question. The question of the swamping by imports from the foreigner has so far only been skirted. It is a question of which every party has been afraid. If it turns out, as I believe it will, to be the only solution of the trouble with which we are faced, I hope very much that the Government will have have the pluck to say so.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
This is the second occasion in a fortnight when we have had the advantage of a Debate on the question of agriculture. On neither occasion has any Tory speaker advanced a policy. Whether they are leaving that to the Minister of Agriculture I know not. To-night we have had, at any rate, the advantage of hearing from the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) what is the policy of the Labour party. I understood from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who was once a not very Radical member of my own party, that our policy is too halfhearted to appeal to him. May I remind him of this—that our party put forward a Motion for a minimum wage of 30s, for the farm labourer, and that 2044 the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of his party, defeated the proposal in Committee upstairs. Will the right hon. Gentleman get up in his place and deny that statement?
§ Mr. DAVIES
For the moment, I am concerned only with what the right hon. Gentleman did, and all we know is that by a combination of the Front Benches of the Labour party and the party opposite our Motion was defeated in Standing Committee. Then we had an assurance to-night that what the Labour party really mean to do is to nationalise the land. They are to exempt land in the occupation of the owner and the land near the towns. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman deliberately abstained from saying where the line was to be drawn. He merely told us that land near the towns—land which might have a building value—is to be left for further consideration. Then the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) turned and rent the Liberal party. He suggested that we were going to use public money for drainage purposes so as to improve the value of the land for private owners. Will the hon. Member, when he next addresses the House, tell me is there to be no system of land drainage where there happens to be an owner occupying his own land, or where the land is near a town? Surely he must know that any system of drainage on a large scale will affect both types of land and that the proposal that he makes, to confine a drainage scheme to land owned by the community, is quite impracticable even under his own scheme.
§ Mr. RILEY
The hon. Member is unintentionally misrepresenting me. My argument was that if you are going to drain the land at the public expense, you should own the land so as to reap the benefit, whereas if the land is privately owned, then, of course, it is the private owner who gets the advantage of the public expenditure.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The hon. Member has admitted that, as far as land in the occupation of the owner is concerned, his party does not intend to deal with it, and, secondly, that they do not intend to deal with these enormous tracts of land immediately outside the towns and 2045 villages. Let me take another point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) about "hordes of officials." Does he suggest that you can nationalise the land without officials? Does he suggest that when the land is owned by the community, it must not be cultivated up to a certain standard, or, that officials will not be necessary to see that a standard is observed by the tenants?
§ Mr. BUXTON
What I did say was that in regard to the question of hordes of officials, I agreed that it was an absurd and ridiculous charge, and that under public ownership there would be even fewer officials than are employed in agency now.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am sorry if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but I take it from him that he agrees with us as far as the "hordes of officials" are concerned. There is another answer to the argument of the Labour party. Nationalisation has been going on in this country for 30 years—since 1892. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for Dewsbury who now says, "Hear, hear!" only a few minutes ago was showing that it had been a failure. The county councils in 1892 were given power by a Tory Government to take land and to re-let it to the occupiers or to sell it; they were also authorised to advance four-fifths of the purchase money at 3½ per cent. for a period of years to the tenant who was buying his farm. In the whole period less than 200 people took advantage of this proposal, and that goes to prove that there was no desire on the part of the tenants in this country to become owners. What has happened now under the Smallholdings Act? Enormous tracts of land have been compulsorily taken by the county councils and those county councils hold that land for the nation. That land has been nationalised. Surely, hon. Members above the Gangway and on the other side know that, whatever may be said in favour of the smallholdings movement, it has not been a great success in the last 10 years.
The most serious position with regard to agriculture, and the most significant fact, is not that arable land is going out of cultivation—I question very much whether that is correct—but the fact that 2046 every year there is a reduction in the number of farms of between five and 20 acres. Between 1924 and 1926 there has been a reduction of nearly 3,000, not in the large arable farms but in the small farms. For some reason nearly 3,000 of those farms have disappeared in the last three years, and with them there have disappeared at least 11,000 people who were formerly obtaining their livelihood in the rural districts. I should be glad if the Minister of Agriculture, when he comes to reply, would face that issue. The suggestion was made to-night again with regard to arable land, but may I point out again that 70 per cent. of the agricultural produce of this country is not produced on arable land at all? To be quite correct, 69 per cent. out of the whole of the agricultural produce of this country is taken from pasture land, and the question which we ought to face is this: Why is agriculture at present declining and suffering so seriously, when we are paying every year in this country £200,000,000 to foreign countries for food alone and for dairy produce, which I say ought to be produced in this country? I made a statement the other night that one of the reasons was that there had been an enormous increase in the rents. Some hon. Members opposite challenged my statement. Do they do so to-night?
§ Mr. DAVIES
Then let me tell the hon. and gallant Member what happened this morning. I had a letter from Gloucestershire, from a tenant farmer of whom I know nothing beyond his name, and he gave me full particulars, including the name of his landowner—
§ Mr. DAVIES
It may be very awkward for the hon. and gallant Member to have to listen to my explanation, but he might at least hear it. I can tell him that the rents have been steadily going up since 1900, and no one who has taken the trouble to look at the statistics can disprove it. I am now giving this instance from an Englishman in the West, who gives his name and the name of his landowner, and who says that his rent was put up by 50 per cent. in 1920. There are plenty of instances all over the 2047 country that I can give. I gave an instance the other day of rents that had been put up by 33 per cent., and immediately after that had happened the whole parish was put up for sale, and the tenants were invited to buy from the landlord in private on a price based on the increased rents. That is one form of insecurity, and another insecurity is this, that there is no compensation in this country for the improvements made by the tenant. The whole of the present system is utterly inadequate, with the result that witness after witness before our Commissions and Committees say quite frankly that they are not prepared to make improvements on their farms until they have some guarantee that they are going to benefit by any improvements which they may make.
There has been no criticism of our proposals. What happens now is that a farmer improves a farm, drains it, increases its value, and immediately the rateable value is put up. It is part of our policy in any event to do this. and that is to put an end to a system which rates improvements, which penalises reform and good cultivation, and which, on the other hand, eases the path for the man who is a bad cultivator. No suggestion has been made so far by the Government to improve the present condition of agriculture. One hon. Member said he hoped the Government would lighten their burdens, but the Government have not only not lightened their burdens, but have added to them by taking for other purposes £25,000,000 which ought to have been used for the roads. They have added to their burdens by increasing the education rate in every progressive county council in England and Wales. I can only end by saying, in the words of the National Farmers' Union, that they have humbugged the farmers.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Guinness)
There is one sentence in the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down with which I agree. In this Debate, which is supposed to deal with the Liberal land policy, by his own admission, not one single suggestion has been put forward which will help the farmers.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
The only subject on which we could be in order was the Liberal land policy, and I naturally understood his remarks to refer to that policy. If I misrepresented him, I am sorry. This is the first time we have had an opportunity in the House of Commons of discussing this land policy, which has been so much discussed at political meetings. It has been founded on the Green Book, a collection of very interesting essays, which the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) has told us is not the official Liberal policy. We hoped that to-night we should be able to clear away the fog and find out what the Liberals really mean. We expected that hon. Members below the Gangway—
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
If that be the case, are we to understand that the Tory Motion is condemning a policy without knowing what it is?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
No. If the hon. Member will look at the Motion, he will find that it condemns past policy which we do know, and it condemns the Green Book, which has been repudiated by the hon. Member for Leith.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The right hon. Gentleman unwittingly does me a disservice. What I said was that the policy of the Green Book, as the Green Book, is not the policy of the party, and I expressly said that the resolutions were founded on the Green Book with certain exceptions.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
The hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd) says that it is unfair to attack the policy on the ground that I do not know what it is, and the hon. Member for Leith has told us that the policy is not contained in the Green Book. We have not had the advantage of the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) to say what the Liberal land policy really is. We had, of course, expected that the opportunity of this Debate would be welcomed by hon. Members below the Gangway, but what happened? First, there was a very strong effort made by the hon. Member for South Hackney (Captain Garro-Jones) to get it ruled out of order, so that they could escape from it altogether. When he failed in that attempt, he made another gallant effort by trying to get the House counted out.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
I really think the right hon. Gentleman is descending to very ineffective methods of controversy. In the first place, I did not seek to get the discussion of the Liberal land policy ruled out of order. I protested against the aspersions on the motives of the Liberal party. In the second place, I made no attempt to get the House counted out, nor did anybody on these benches. That came from the Labour Benches. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw both observations.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I apologise to the hon. and gallant Member if I suggested that he called for a count. I am informed that it came from an hon. Member on the Labour Benches.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
Anyhow, we have got so far without very much enlightenment as to what the Liberal land policy really means. The hon. Member for Leith widened the Debate from the agricultural ground—
§ Mr. GUINNESS
Really, we are not differing. He complained that an hon. Member on the other side had dealt chiefly with the agricultural side, and said he wished to widen the Debate, and to deal with the urban problem in the constituency of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel L. Ward). I was rather astonished that the hon. Member had the temerity to claim credit for the Liberal land policy, as we knew it in the past, in its effect on the towns. Has he forgotten the results of the Increment Value Duty, the Reversion Duty and of the Undeveloped Land Duty, which, by the admission of its inventor and author, was so disastrous in its operation that it had to be repealed? Has he forgotten that, by the admission of all parties in the House, I think, certainly the hon. Members of the Liberal party and hon. Members of the Conservative party, there was no stronger cause of our housing difficulties, of the complete standstill of private enterprise in housing, than the effects of the Liberal Land Duties in the 2050 Budget of 1910? Then the hon. Member claimed credit for the present security of tenure, suggesting that it had been brought about by the Liberal Agricultural Holdings Act.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I am sorry to interrupt again, but as the right hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to what he calls the Liberal urban land policy prior to the War, may I draw his attention to the Liberal urban land policy of 1913, one part of which his own Government has embodied in the Landlord and Tenant Bill and another part of which was carried into law in the Acquisition of Land Bill?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I was dealing with the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1920. It was that Act, and not the Act of 1908, which gave the great charter of security to the tenant by insuring for him a minimum of a year's rent as compensation for disturbance. Of course, there are many matters in the Green Book with which all parties in the House agree. We all agree about research, about education and about the necessity for improved marketing methods, which is developed in the third Green Book. All those policies are included in our proposals, which are, I think, the highest common measure of agreement between those who are interested in agricultural problems on all sides of the House. Where we disagree with the Green Book is, first of all, that as a foundation it depreciates the efforts of British agriculturists, painting in high colours the inefficiency and non-success of British farmers and making out that our Continental neighbours farm very much better than British agriculturists. Against that we can set the authority of Lord Ernie, who, in the "Economic Journal" for last. December, said that throughout the crisis the output from our agricultural land has maintained its level as compared with before the War, though it has changed its character. He pointed out that the real wages of the agricultural labourer, although they are low, are actually higher than in any other 2051 European country; that the productivity of land under crops is only lower than in Belgium, but is equal to Holland, Denmark and Germany, and considerably higher than France; and that in regard to animal husbandry we have no equal.
I know that the Green Book was written with a definite purpose. It was the foundation for what we believe to be far-reaching suggestions for suggested improvements. We understood that the great principle of the reform which the Liberals proposed was that they would improve the system of cultivation by control; that the ultimate duty of the proper authority would be to secure the cultivation of all arable land; and it may terminate the tenure of any occupier of cultivable land who has been proved to be unable to farm the land satisfactorily. Since that time, we have found that this is not the intention of the Liberal land policy. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs that there is no intention of interfering with or controlling the farmer, and that the only condition the Liberals propose is the condition which we find on every great estate in the country, that the land must be well cultivated; otherwise, the tenant can be evicted.
There is no difference in the condition contained in the Green Book from what exists at the present time on every large estate. What does all this great agitation mean? What is meant by the great claim that by a method of control the condition of agriculture is going to be transformed, when, as a matter of fact, the method to be adopted is one which exists on every well-managed estate in the country at the present time. We understood, at first, that there was going to be an extension of this good management and that the State was going to take over a large amount of the land. We now find that the Liberal policy is growing fine by degrees and gradually less. The hon. Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) classed the Liberal policy with our policy which does not recognise the necessity for public ownership, but is content to leave the land under the present system of occupation. It is very natural that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs finds himself very uneasy on 2052 account of the very violent utterances which he has made on this subject. He has repudiated the former attack which he has made on rural landowners, and he was very angry with me, in the last Debate that we had on this subject, because I was not aware that he had changed his mind. No longer, in the opinion of this apostle of land reform, is it the fact that good wages and the prosperity of the labourer depend upon getting rid of the power of the landlord. Now we are told that it all depends upon the organised marketing of agricultural produce, and the right hon. Gentleman now goes out of his way to praise the agricultural landowner. We should be delighted to forget his past record if he would show us by his actions that his past is really dead, but it is quite evident that his repentance is only one of words. Even if his words are rather different, his methods remain the same, and it is quite clear that he still wishes to rob the agricultural landowner's henroost, even when there are so few eggs left in it.
Of course, the Liberal proposals for taking over agricultural land depend on expropriating the landowners, with no allowance for monopoly value. Seeing that land has been bought and sold for centuries past in this country, and is changing hands at the present day, according to market value, it is absolutely unjust to take it over on any other basis. There is really no need nowadays for the State to take over the land on the ground that it is not being adequately kept up by those who now own it. The current number of the Journal of the Land Agents' Society contains the following statement:Although there was a time, soon after the War, when landowners found that the heavy taxes and rates made it impossible to find money for their respective farms, we have since settled down to more normal circumstances, and income is now regular; and, as the result, we find that, on the whole, estates are being maintained and improved almost, if not quite, up to the level of pre-War days.It is extraordinary what expectations hon. Members opposite have formed of land nationalisation. They seem to think that it will necessarily mean a great increase in the efficiency of cultivation and in the productivity of the industry.
Major-General Sir ROBERT HUTCHISON
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman 2053 one question? Is he satisfied with the buildings and equipment of farms in the South of England?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
There is certainly, in some areas, a good deal to be done, but I do not believe that it would be any better done by the State. I do not for a moment believe that nationalisation would mean the immediate institution of vast schemes of public expenditure. I am quite certain that, in view of the finances of the State, no party which instituted land nationalisation could do otherwise than proceed gradually, and spread over a long period of years the improvements which the hon. and gallant Member suggests are necessary. I believe that, if we did have land nationalisation, the effect would be very much the same as under the present system in regard to carrying out improvements, but I believe that land nationalisation would involve an absolutely disastrous cost to the State. I do not believe that the State would be able to control the land as well as the private owner can. The State is not as well qualified for this very individual problem of land ownership and land cultivation as private enterprise. I believe that any such great change is unnecessary, because where the landowner has to sell it is quite possible to make the transfer to the tenant under a system which will be far less costly to the State, and far more efficient from the point of view of cultivation. We shall shortly introduce a scheme of credit which will enable land to be transferred to the tenant where the land owner has to sell without any heavy call upon State funds and without the great and useless dislocation which a general system of nationalisation would involve.
We believe that the present trouble in agriculture is not due to land tenure at all, but, as has so often been pointed out on this side of the House, that the real question facing the farmer is how to bridge the gap between his receipts and his outgoings. The policy of the Liberal party is useless to the farmer in that respect. That policy was a political venture launched for flat-catching, and it has been gradually exposed in its true character. The proposals have been shown to be not merely useless but positively harmful, because they are 2054 based on a misleading picture of the agricultural position, and a misleading explanation of the difficulties which confront the farmer.
§ Mr. ERNEST EVANS
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have a very peculiar idea as to the history and purpose of this Debate. In the first five minutes of his speech he made three statements, each one of which he had to abandon, and one of which he had the courtesy to withdraw. He went on to refer to the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), although he might have known, or could easily have ascertained, that his absence was due to a cause which he could not very well avoid. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on, after pouring scorn on what he called the essays of the Liberal party, to deliver something in the nature of an essay himself. The first part of it was based on a complete misunderstanding of what is in the Green Book and of the policy of the Liberal party. He accused us of going out of our way deliberately to depreciate the British farmer and agriculture. I challenge him to point to anything in the Green Book or anywhere else which shows an unfair depreciation, such as he suggests, of our farmers or of the industry in this country. What we do point out is that there are some things which require improvement, and some amendments which are urgently called for.
In that respect we differ from the right hon. Gentleman, who seems to think he was meeting the position by saying that all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds among agriculturists at the present time. I should have thought that the meetings which he himself has had with certain branches of the Farmers' Union would have shown him that that is not true, and if he is not convinced of it now, he has only to go about and talk with farmers in any part of the country, and he will soon be put right in that respect. In the end, he condescended to tell us that what was really wrong with agriculture was that the farmers could not bridge the gap. His reading of the situation was that the whole difficulty of the farmers was that they could not bridge the gap between receipts and expenditure. That is a difficulty not only with farmers but 2055 with a great number of industries as well. What he has not, apparently, realised, is that there is some reason for the difficulty of bridging that gap, and it is because he and the Government are not doing anything in order to help the farmer to bridge that gap in a practical manner, that they are being condemned
§ by the representatives of the agricultural industry throughout the country at the present time.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 135; Noes, 105.2057
|Division No. 37.]||AYES.||[10.57 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Albery, Irving James||Gower, Sir Robert||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Greene, W. p. Crawford||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Perring, Sir William George|
|Atkinson, C.||Gulnness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwlch)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Balnlel, Lord||Hamilton, Sir George||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Preston, William|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hariand, A,||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Ralne, Sir Walter|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Headlam, Lieut-Colonel C. M.||Ramsden, E.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Heneaga, Lteut.-Col. Arthur P.||Rye, F. G.|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Broun-Lindsay. Major H.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen,H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Burman, J. B.||Hopkinson, Sir A, (Eng. Universities)||Savery, S. S|
|Campbell, E. T.||Horilck, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Skeiton, A. N.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hudson, Capt A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Klnc'dine,C.)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Somervllie, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Christie, J. A.||Iveagh, Countess of||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Cope. Major William||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Couper, J. B.||Loder, J. de V.||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Long, Major Erlc||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Croft, Brigadler-General Sir H.||Lougher, Lewis||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Lumley, L. R.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||MacAndrew, Major Charies Glen||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Macdonald. R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Waddington, R.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||McLean, Major A.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Davidson, MaJor-General Sir John H.||Macquisten, F. A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Davies, MaJ, Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovll)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Williams. Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Williams. Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds. Central)|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Margesson, Capt. D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel Georgs|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Meller, R. J.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Merriman, F. B.||Wood, E.(Cnest'r, jtalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Miine, J. S. Wardiaw-|
|Gates, Percy||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gautes, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Pennefather, sir John||Colonel Lambert Ward and Lieu'.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Charleton, H. C.||Greenall, T.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff.. Cannock)||Compton, Joseph||Grentell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hllisbro')||Crawfurd, H. E.||Griffith, F. Kingsley|
|Ammon, Charies George||Dalton, Hugh||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bllston)||Dnavies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy. T. W.|
|Baker, Waiter||Davics, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hail, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barnes, A.||Day, Harry||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Barr, J.||Duncan, C.||Hardle, George D.|
|Batey, Joseph||Dunnico, H.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrlngton)||Hayday. Arthur|
|Briant, Frank||England, Colonel A.||Hayes, John Henry|
|Broad, F. A.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Weish Univer.)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Bromfield, William||Fenby, T. D.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bromley, J.||Gardner. J. P.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Gibbins, Joseph||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Cape, Thomas||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontyprldd)||Rlley, Ben||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Kelly, W. T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W.Bromwich)||Tomllnson, R. P.|
|Kennedy, T.||Robinson, W, C. (Yorks.W.R., Elland)||Townend, A. E.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Rose, Frank H.||Variey, Frank B.|
|Lansbury, George||Runciman. Rt. Hon. Walter||Vlant, S. P.|
|Laweon, John James||Saklatvala, shapurjl||Waish, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Lee, F.||Sexton, James||Weilock, Wilfred|
|Lindley F. W.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J,|
|Lowth, T.||Sitch, Charles H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Lunn, William||Siesser, Sir Henry H.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Mackinder, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Stamtord, T. W.||Wright, W.|
|Montague, Frederick||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Murnin, H.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sullivan, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Palln, John Henry||Sutton, J. E.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles|
|Pallng, w.||Taylor, R. A.||Edwards.|
|Potts, John S.|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Captain BOURNE rose—
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.