§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. GILLETT
When the Debate was interrupted, I was referring to the question of the desirability of using bills of exchange as cover for further note issues. I would like on this point to draw attention to Clause 1, which refers to the securities that are to be lodged as cover against the fiduciary issue. I understand that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in answer to a question as to whether bills of exchange were to be allowed to form part of the security placed as cover, answered in the affirmative. I had hoped that when he introduced this Bill he would have had something further to say as to the class of securities that are to be placed as cover. On inquiry I find that no list is published of the securities which have in the past been placed as cover against these notes. The special point to which I wish to draw attention is my suggestion that if the Government were willing to consider the extension of the fiduciary issue beyond £260,000,000 instead of limiting the extension simply to permission being granted by the Treasury, there might be permission given for an additional intermediate sum of, say, £10,000,000 or £15,000,000, which might be issued by the Bank of England without consultation with the Treasury, provided that the issue was covered by bills of exchange. A bill of exchange seems to me peculiarly suited for cover of this kind. In the first place, it is an indication of an increase of trade if the bills are increasing in numbers. In the second place, the bill of exchange being limited 792 to 90 days, it has to come up for reconsideration in a very short time. Hon. Members who are acquainted with the American system will remember that this is virtually a part of their plan.
There is another suggestion which I would like to make, and I should be glad to learn whether anything of this kind is being done by the Bank of England at the present time. In certain of the State banks on the Continent—it was started, I believe, in connection with the new Austrian bank which was inaugurated under the control of the League of Nations, and the same system is found in the new German bank which was started at the time when the Dawes plan was agreed to by the different nations concerned—part of the cover in their cases, I think, counts as part of the gold cover, is a holding in foreign bills and currencies. Even the Bank of Italy, which hon. Members opposite may consider worth consideration, in view of its political complexion, which is looked upon with favour by hon. Members opposite, hold a certain amount of their cover in foreign treasury notes. Therefore, the principle has some very important examples.
Why should not part of the cover of our note issue be held, say, in American currency and American bills? The Bank of Holland holds about £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 in currency or bills on New York or London. By this means they are able to regulate demands for gold upon their institution, and without having to go to any extreme measures, such as the raising of the bank rate, through having control of a certain amount of currency in one of the other countries, the exchange can be controlled. I am prepared to hear that the Bank of England are doing something of this sort at the present time. At the close of the War something like £50,000,000 to £60,000,000 in possession of this country was held in the United States, and I believe that at the present time a sum of some £30,000,000 is still kept on that side and is used in 793 connection with the payment of our debt to America. Therefore, what I am asking for may be, to a certain extent, already part of the practice of the Bank of England. I should like to know a little more on that subject from the Government. Before we vote on the Second Reading we might be provided with full information on the whole question of what cover is to be placed in connection with the note issue.
What will be the cost of the proposed change? Hon. Members opposite are always claiming that if things are put into the hands of private enterprise they will be done cheaper than if they are under Government control; but we have not been told anything as to the estimated cost of the change and what is to be paid to the Bank of England for taking control of these notes. I understand that at the present time the cost is about £350,000 a year. May I take it from the Financial Secretary that he expects that the cost of the whole proceeding will come to about the same amount as at present? As far as the Bill is concerned, power is given to the Treasury to make the arrangement, but I think we should be told whether we are going to incur any extra expense or whether the claim that private enterprise means cheaper work is really sound and that we can expect to do this on better terms than before. In conclusion, let me again lay stress upon the question of deflation. Personally, I am disappointed at the explanation which we have received from the Treasury Bench. It has not enlightened us to any great extent, except in the one case of the right hon. Gentleman who evidently looks upon any increase above £260,000,000 as something resembling a crisis in our national affairs. It is on these grounds, and because of the many interesting changes that have taken place in the banking world, the way in which other countries are dealing with their Note problem, the problem of the gold standard and its importance to our trade to-day, that I think no mistake should be made.
It is all very well for the Government to claim that the financial policy of this country is successful, but there are still one million unemployed people. Those who support the financial policy of the Government may argue that it has nothing to do with unemployment, but 794 year after year we are told that we are going to have better times. At the end of the year trade is no better, and the good times have not arrived. The financial system of the country may be sound but there is something lacking in our social system otherwise we should see better trade conditions. The financial policy of France has been open to criticism, but there are not so many men walking the streets unemployed as there are in England. These things have to be answered, and it is all very well to say that the financial policy is perfect. We want something which is going to provide work for the unemployed and help our great industries. I feel that the Government have entirely misunderstood the Amendment, and do not fully appreciate the way in which we look upon the problem. For these reasons, I support the Amendment.
§ Sir FRANK NELSON
I rise to support in a very few words this very desirable Measure. For some considerable time I have felt that, although I yield to no one in my admiration for the Bank of Englnd and the Governor of the Bank of England, there are certain comparatively recent developments in the trade of this country and in the banking system of this country which might make it desirable that the whole question of the control of the Bank of England over the money market and the difficulties in connection therewith should be gone into. Without in any way casting any shadow of reproach upon this great institution or upon the head of it, to both of whom so many well deserved tributes have to-day been paid, I think there are grounds for an investigation of the influence of the Bank of England in its main duty, which is to control credit, or to control the money market of this country. Some days ago I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he could tell me whether mercantile bills would be held as part of the fiduciary reserve, and in a supplementary question I asked whether the House was correct in assuming that the securities to be held in the fiduciary reserve would be securities not necessarily Government securities but any securities in the discretion of the Bank of England, subject to the control of the Treasury? The Financial Secretary in reply said that it was not a matter with which he could deal by 795 means of question and answer—a reply with which I entirely agree. I have been fortunate enough in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, this evening, and, therefore, I hope someone on the Treasury Bench will deal with this question.
If the House will absolve me from any desire to be pedantic I should like to go into the whole question of the Bill market; the discount market of England. If I enunciate what are mere platitudes to some hon. Members, I hope I shall be forgiven, because it is necessary in order to state the case fully. Mercantile bills are the backbone of the London discount market, and only by means of a steady supply of commercial bills for discount can the true indication of our financial needs in order to finance the overseas trade of the country be gauged, thus enabling the Bank of England to exercise its function of controlling the money market of this country. Hon. Members will agree that the discount market offers this country large credit reserves, fluctuating with legitimate trade requirements. During recent times, these functions have been rather abrogated by the Bank of England of necessity, largely owing to the influence of a weekly allotment of Treasury Bills and a scarcity of commercial paper. Mercantile bills of a discountable nature are the only true indication of the finances necessary to handle our overseas trade.
I now come to what the last speaker, with whom in substance I agree, rather lost sight of, and that is that even supposing we were fortunate enough to elicit from the Treasury Bench a promise that mercantile bills are to be included in the fiduciary reserve, the fact remains that there are very few mercantile bills at present in the market. During the last eight or nine years the supply of trade bills, of ordinary mercantile bills of exchange, have been decreasing and decreasing. The reasons for this I can give in a few sentences. In pre-War times the overseas trade of this country was financed by overseas banks, or exchange banks, by means of their organisations built up over several generations; financed by means of the capital laid down in the various places in which they operated overseas. In recent years that method has been superseded by the big joint stock banks of Great Britain, who 796 very largely, and quite legitimately, have superseded the old method of financing overseas trade by means of bills of exchange, by means of financing merchandise and crops in transit by advances or overdrafts in London. That is a perfectly legitimate trade transaction upon which I have no criticism to offer.
In principle the two transactions are practically the same, but there is this difference. The overseas banks in the old pre-War days financed our overseas trade by means of overseas capital, whereas under the new method which is now springing up this overseas trade is now financed by the joint stock banks with the deposits of the British people in British banks in this country. Again, that is a perfectly legitimate transaction which I do not criticise at all, but it raises many considerations. I have already referred to one. Another consideration is that the funds employed by London banks in financing overseas trade might perhaps be better employed nearer home. Another consideration is the great expense and the years and years of building up the organisation of overseas banks, and the fear that this trade of theirs may be cut into. But that is, after all, a domestic consideration and in no way pertinent to this Debate.
Here I would ask the special attention of the Treasury Bench. These are the two points which have mainly led me to raise this very complex question to-night. The incursion of the home banks has a very much deeper effect than any so far indicated. It has meant the supersession in recent years of what is known technically as issues of confirmed acceptance credits. If there are any hon. Members who are, like myself, old bankers, and who know the discount markets, they will know that these confirmed acceptance credits were a system admirably adapted for creating credit, whilst at the same time they had another very admirable effect, and that was avoiding an increase in the percentage of banking advances in this country, which has occasionally given rise to very grave criticism from responsible quarters. Another very grave consideration is that any financial policy destructive of the predominance of the London bill market cannot be too strongly deprecated for this reason: The growing practice of financing overseas trade by advances in London must necessarily cause sterling bills to lose 797 ground as instruments of international credit, and the gold dollar bill of New York to assume a relatively more representative character. I frankly confess that that argument weighs more with me than any of the others. If we are to have the gold dollar bill superseding the sterling bill as the primary international instrument of credit, it is a matter that cannot be faced lightly by the Treasury Bench, and I am sure that the Treasury will give their close attention to the subject. Of course, it must be admitted that the Bank of England, by supporting discount rates near a parity with its Bank rate, encourages merchants and traders to accept advances on London in preference to the old method of financing their overseas trade by bills of exchange. That is perfectly natural. It is purely a question of financing in the cheapest manner available.
I have already tried to point out that without a dominating supply of trade bills in the open market the true rate of discount based on demand for commercial credit cannot be achieved. I have raised this question because I think it requires ventilation. I have searched all the Debates in recent years, and I have yet to find that this subject, which has become increasingly serious as the years go on, has yet been ventilated in the House of Commons. I have also raised it in the hope of inducing from the Treasury Bench a sympathetic acknowledgment that they realise its importance and its future significance. I am not without hope that the definite inclusion of mercantile bills in the fiduciary reserve may possibly repopularise this method of overseas finance. I am sanguine enough to hope that a benevolent expression of sympathy by the Government will go far to achieve this very desirable object. One of the hon. Members for the City of London lamented, as I do, that a greater interest is not taken in currency matters. I read somewhere in one of our monthly periodicals that there seemed to be a belief growing up in the minds of the people that currency and exchange and monetary matters were subjects that were understood only by certain permanent officials, by City editors of one or two papers, and by, perhaps, Professor J. M. Keynes. That may or may not be the case. I think the Debate has shown that 798 a great number of Members, who may not speak with great authority, are certainly taking an attentive interest in this great subject. I regard this Bill as the outward and visible sign that, in the opinion of those best qualified to judge, this country has at last regained a measure of normality in its financial conditions, or, at any rate, to a sufficient extent to make the passing of this Bill desirable and necessary, and, personally, I shall have great pleasure in supporting it.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I shall speak with less authority rather than more, and, whether I speak with authority or not, I take an interest in this question of finance and currency, which I regard as a very important matter. I rise at the end of a long list of speakers who have spoken more or less as authorities. In speaking amongst that distinguished company, if I dare to intrude myself, my excuse might be found in a conversation that I had with an eminent Member of this House a day or two ago. He told me that when he first came to the House he went to see an ancient gentleman who was reputed to be a very great authority upon finance and currency. That gentleman said to my informant, "What line do you propose to take in politics? If you propose taking up finance, there are only two people who understand it. One of them is Mr. Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the other is myself. I am getting too old to discuss it, and he has not the time." If there were only two people who then understood finance, there are very few people who understand it now. That has been indicated this afternoon already. If it is declared that I speak with some folly, I must be speaking in a company in which there is also folly.
I listened with interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young). He speaks on this matter with as much authority as anyone in this House, and, I am bound to say, with a great deal more charm than most. But I could not quite understand one or two points that he made. He told us that always in finance, when it came to a crisis, the individual wanted good, red gold. The time he was speaking of was 1914. But it occurred to me that in 1914, if the individual did want good, red gold, he did not get it; that is the very thing 799 he was most likely to be short of. What he did get was paper, and plenty of it, and the gold suddenly disappeared. Nothing that could be done by the banks could stand the tide of disaster that seemed to be overwhelming them in that crisis, until the State stepped in and took the responsibility, first, by declaring a moratorium, and, secondly, by issuing a State currency. It seemed to me on that occasion that the Government proved that the theory upon which our finance had been based up to then was unsound. We always understood that paper was based on gold and that you could not have paper money unless there was gold behind it; but in August, 1914, there was plenty of paper with no gold behind it and, as far as I could discover, very little real property. The State in this country has power to tax and to take, but it does not own property and it seems to me that in August, 1914, the rock upon which all our finance was based was the fact that the working people were going to work more and make more. That was what really mattered, and it was upon that fact that our credit rested.
I fail to understand all this talk about gold. In the Middle Ages, alchemists tried to transmute metals. We are told to-day that we must have whatever gold we can get hold of and that the bank must hold a reserve. We are told that without gold there is nothing on which we can base our trade. Supposing the idea of the alchemists were revived and that by some strange freak of nature all the gold in the Bank of England were transmuted into a baser metal. Supposing to-night all the gold in the Bank of England by some waft of air were turned into lead, what would happen? It appears to me that nothing would happen, unless the fact became known and caused a panic. But if it were kept quiet, things would go on just as if the gold were still there instead of lead. The whole thing rests on confidence. Very few of us know how much gold there is in the Bank of England. There may be sacks of sand in the vaults instead of sacks of gold, but because the gold is supposed to be there it supports our credit. It is a trick of bankers and financiers, and that is one of the reasons why I oppose the Bill.
800 I cannot talk about the subject in the same way as bankers do, but I can talk about it in another way which the bankers do not like. The bankers do not like to discuss their failure to stop the poverty of the working class upon whom their prosperity rests. I have heard something about Peel's Measure of 1844, whereby the Bank of England and the financiers gained control. They have had control during a time when there has been a more rapid increase in scientific knowledge and power than there has ever been before in the history of mankind. What is the state of the country and the world to-day, with all this power and control and all this knowledge of finance and currency? There are people in this country wanting bread. We are told that we are barred out in the discussion of these matters because of some fancy theory of political economy, which tells us that everything rests upon the law of supply and demand. I believe that this Bill represents the crowning brick on the edifice which the Government began in 1920 with their deflation policy. It is a pretty big brick, but to my mind quite useless. You may pass this Bill, and you may give this power to the Bank of England, but in 12 months' time you will still be explaining to us that if we only wait for another two or three months unemployment will begin to disappear. You have been saying so every year for the last ten years, and you will go on saying so for the next ten years.
In 1920 the policy of deflation was inaugurated and Mr. Bonar Law admitted from that Box that it brought unemployment in its train. It put millions of pounds into the pockets of the rentier class and authorities declared that the policy had practically doubled the National Debt and the interest which the usurers took. We guaranteed to pay back 20 shillings for every nine shillings we borrowed. We are told, of course, that the policy is working out now and that a drop in prices is taking place. We are told that the drop in prices has put £100,000,000 of value into the pockets of the working class, but let us remember, at the same time, that it has put £35,000,000 into the pockets of the rentier class who benefit by every drop in prices. The next step in this Rake's Progress was the restoration of the gold standard, and, again, the rentier class benefited. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself 801 admitted that it might cause some disturbance as far as unemployment was concerned, though he said the disadvantages would be more than counterbalanced by the advantages which we would obtain.
I believe that the restoration of the gold standard in 1925 struck a fatal blow at the mining industry. From it came the disaster of 1926. That again was the result of the private control of our currency system and Mr. J. M. Keynes declared he could not understand how we had ever been so silly as to play that game. These obscure methods of working with the money lords, hidden as they are, have brought sorrow and anguish into the homes of millions of our people. Now we are going on again with the same fatal policy. City editors and financiers tell us that all the losses which industry has suffered are as nothing compared with the inestimable value of the retention of our prestige in international finance and our position as the financial centre of the world. If that is what the country exists for, all we need is a very small space in which the people can live who are carrying on financial business, with a few others to act as chauffeurs and domestic servants, and the rest of us can clear out. Probably, if that happened those gentlemen would have to begin to do something for themselves. This placing of the control of currency in the hands of private persons is a menace to the community.
We have heard a great deal about the Bank of England. I do not know whether the Government ever act without taking consultation with these eminent gentlemen who are directors of the Bank of England, but I know that the Government have made some pretty bad bargains, even according to their own supporters. The present Prime Minister went to America in 1923 and made a bargain, and I have heard no one on his own side commend him for what he did; there have been more complaints that he made a very bad bargain indeed. He made a bargain under which we are now going to pay a certain debt seven and a half times over before it is paid back. I do not know who were the financial advisers of that bargain, but, at any rate, there has been a good deal of condemnation of it ever since. Then there was the question of the restoration of the gold standard. Who were the 802 advisers who advised the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time? It was said that American finance was going to keep the whole thing steady until we got our currency on to a firm basis, and for that we paid them 1,125,000 dollars. It has never been required, but American, bankers have put it into their pockets. If that is the best the experts can do, unwisdom can go a little further. It seems to me that there is too much collusion between London and New York, between New York and Berlin, and between Berlin and Paris, running round this never-ending circle—financiers who have got the world in pawn, holding everything and all peoples to ransom. There is as much to be said for smashing that, at any rate, as there is on the other side. The late Hon. Thomas E. Watson, United States Senator, said:Always, everywhere, the money-changer is the same. If he wants a panic, he will have one. If he wants prices to fall, he contracts circulation and credit. He wants a currency he can limit, control, expand at his leisure, contract at his behest, thus ruling values with a rod of iron. Call him what you will, Jew or Gentile, he is the identical creature that defiles the temple, trades on the misery of his country, puts greed above the promptings of patriotism or humanity. Christ scourged him from the temple, and Abraham Lincoln said he ought to have his infernal head shot off.In that, I think Abraham Lincoln was perfectly right, as he was in many other things that he said. We here have made pleadings after pleadings and have brought before this House the condition of the people time and time again. I am representing a constituency in which 81 per cent. of the available men are unemployed. They want to know what your juggling with currency will do for them. Will it bring them work, or bread, or give them anything that is of any value at all? Juggle with these things as you will; all your talk of what you are going to do with these marvellous manœuvrings leaves them cold. It is time that we took control of currency ourselves. It is time that the State controlled it. I am less afraid of the State than I am of private enterprise in matters of currency. I have seen the private manipulators of money for the last 100 years manipulating the currency—[Laughter.] I mean that I have watched them through historical pages, and I have watched them myself for the last 10 or 15 years.
803 I have seen the financiers pile up debt in this country and bring about wastage. During the four years of the War what were we doing? We were wasting the wealth that perisheth and all that we have left is a debt that endures; and it will endure, just as the debt on Waterloo has endured. With all your finance and your policy, you have not paid for Waterloo yet. You cannot get out of debt; the money-changers will not let you. The world is in pawn to them, and the one thing that will bring about the smashing of your entire system, by a physical overthrow which will be thoroughly well justified, is the fact that people are in poverty and misery, while wealth abounds on every hand. I stand for smashing that if I possibly can. I probably represent the opinion of very few in this House, and my point of view may be put in a blundering way, but I believe it sincerely, and I believe that unless this country breaks the power that the financier exercises over the life of the nation, sooner or later chaos will ensue and civilisation come down smashing and in despair.
§ Mr. HAMMERSLEY
I have listened to every speech in this Debate, and the House is to be congratulated that, in a matter of this importance, the issues should have been debated, with the single exception of the speech to which we have just listened, on absolutely non-party lines, and that the Bill should have been debated entirely on its merits. There may have been divergent views expressed as to the proper financial policy which this country in the future ought to pursue, but, in respect of the main purpose, namely, the proposal that the currency, the Treasury Note issue, and the Bank of England Note issue, should be amalgamated, there has been little, if any, difference of opinion. Obviously, the present position with respect to the issue of currency is unsatisfactory. It is a fact that any amount of Treasury Notes can be issued. There is no control of the amount. In the present position of the law, it is quite possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his capacity of Chief of the Treasury, without coming down to this House, to direct the issue of currency unspecified in amount, and if necessary, to state that it shall be used for some particular purpose, though his 804 conduct may result in his losing his job. This House would have no control over the fact that he had issued this amount of currency. It is true that the Treasury Minute of 1919 laid down a specific rule of guidance whereby the actual maximum of one year should be the permissible maximum of the succeeding year, but that is a Treasury Minute that can be cancelled, even without the knowledge of this House. In the circumstances, it is obviously proper that our existing position respecting the issue of currency should be put in order.
The policy of the Government, as explained by the Secretary of State for War, was to carry out as far as possible the resolutions of the Genoa Conference. The second of those resolutions was that banks of issue should be free from political pressure, and that where there was no central bank of issue one should be established. When this resolution was passed it was impossible to pass over from the Treasury to the Bank of England the issue of currency notes, because if we had done so we should have had no controlling principle. But when the Gold Standard Act of 1925 was passed Parliament laid down controlling principles for the issue of currency. It laid down the most important principle that the currency should be transferable into gold for export. That having been done, and this gold standard having now been in existence over two years, I think the House can safely say, realising the existence of this guiding principle laid down by Parliament, that the control of the Treasury issue should pass out of political hands into the hands of an independent, impartial, proved financial corporation—the Bank of England. I do not want to labour that point any longer, because I believe there is almost complete unanimity upon it in all sections of the House, but there is not the same unanimity in respect to the pendent proposals. The proposal in respect to the fiduciary issue, and the limit which is placed on the fiduciary issue, is the subject of criticism under two heads—firstly, in respect to its amount; and secondly, in respect to the mechanism whereby it can be varied.
In considering the amount—£260,000,000—at which the fiduciary issue is stabilised, I speak as a person engaged in an industry in which four-fifths of the trade 805 is export trade. Naturally, in examining this problem, I bear in mind the position of the export trade. One thing the export trade do not want is to see any further measure of deflation. The Financial Secretary explained to us in his very clear and lucid speech the reasons whereby this figure of £260,000,000 had been arrived at. He showed that the maximum figure under the existing situation would be something like £264,500,000. In view of the fact that this year the Irish Free State are to produce their own currency, we have to subtract from that figure £5,000,000 or £6,000,000. Therefore, the maximum fiduciary issue at the present time, if the Bill were not passed, would be something like £258,500,000. In fixing the figure of £260,000,000, the Government have rounded off that figure on the upward grade, and I personally, having in mind the export, trade, am satisfied that in choosing that figure they have taken a wise and a proper figure. But I am not quite so satisfied with the method whereby the fiduciary issue figure can be varied. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) seemed to be under a misapprehension in respect to the meaning of Clause 8, the Clause which lays down the rules whereby the fiduciary amount can be increased. He was under the impression that an increase in the fiduciary issue would have to be backed by gold or something tantamount to gold. If I may read from the Bill itself, I think I can show that in Clause 2 it is quite clearly laid down what is understood by the fiduciary issue. It is that part which is not made up by gold or Bank of England notes Clause 2 provides that:Subject to the provisions of this Act the Bank shall issue bank notes up to the amount representing the gold coin and gold bullion for the time being in the issue department, and shall in addition issue bank notes to the amount of two hundred and sixty million pounds in excess of the amount first mentioned in this Section, and the issue of notes which the Bank are by or under this Act required or authorised to make in excess of the said first mentioned amount is in this Act referred to as the fiduciary note issue.'That clearly lays down what is meant, and it is understood that when the fiduciary issue is in excess of £260,000,000 it will not be required to be made up by gold. The point about which I have some misgivings is the mechanism 806 whereby the increase in the fiduciary issue may be brought about. It must originate in the Bank of England, and I am not quite satisfied that the Bank of England takes the necessary steps to increase the fiduciary issue sufficiently quickly. If the people who hold the scales are to be the people interested in one side of the balance, I am not sure that we should not consider some alteration in the constitution of the court of the Bank of England. The fact that Sir Josiah Stamp has been put on the court of the board of directors is an act which is considered of some value by the commercial community. I am satisfied that this Bill is a very good one. It proposes to set a standard of legality upon the existing machinery, and it will remove the last trace of the War influence from the financial policy of the nation.
§ Mr. DALTON
I rise to support the Amendment which has been moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). That Amendment demands three things, delay, inquiry, and international co-operation. I should have thought, after the nonparty character of the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend in moving his Amendment, the Government might have approached this subject in a somewhat less partisan atmosphere. Instead of doing that, the Secretary of State for War spent the greater part of his speech endeavouring to make cheap debating points by political quotations from the literature issued by various parties. Therefore, the Secretary of State for War has put us into the position in which we may have to approach this subject in a party spirit.
This Measure has had a very poor Press as compared with the support which the Chancellor of the Exchequer received when he proposed that this country should return to the gold standard. Today, this Bill is receiving much less approval than was given to the previous Measure, and a number of those who were behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposed a return to the gold standard are not supporting this Measure to-day. I notice that, of the speeches made by supporters of the Government, very few are wholeheartedly in favour of the Bill. One of the few hon. Members who has wholeheartedly supported the Bill is the hon. 807 Member for the City of London (Mr. E. Grenfell), who wished it to be passed without Amendment and without discussion. That is the true Bank of England and City of London attitude. They consider that secrecy in these matters, in which they believe themselves to be so expert, is the only possible screen against public loss of confidence. We take a different view, and prefer public inquiry into these matters which are now in dispute.
The delay for which we have put forward our case is not delay for its own sake, but delay in order to permit of an inquiry. This Bill is not an urgent Bill, though it is a very important Bill, and may have very important effects. It would be quite possible to go on as we are for another six months without any serious damage arising. As a matter of fact, the Cunliffe Committee themselves—and they are quoted as though their remarks were Scripture by spokesmen of the Government—said:Assuming that a return to gold has been made, the precise date of the amalgamation of the note issues loses most of its importance.I believe that that is certainly true. On the other hand, in the judgment of many of us, this Bill threatens, if passed in its present form, to do great harm to British credit in the future, to prevent or lessen or check trade revival, and to prevent the re-employment of large numbers who are now unemployed.
The case for an inquiry is that no inquiry has really taken place since the Armistice. The Cunliffe Report was published, strange though it may seem at this distance of time, in August, 1918, since which 10 very remarkable years of experience have accumulated, and the rather jejune remarks which have been quoted to-night from the Report on the subject of the Bank of England and its constitution and powers are really no sort of contribution at all to an inquiry which ought to be carried out after all that has happened in the years since then. Indeed, the demand for an inquiry which we are making is supported, not only by the Labour party in this House, but by a great number of other people who ought to command some measure of respect from the Government. It is supported, not only by the Labour party, not only by the trade union spokesmen of the General 808 Council, but also by the industrialists who are meeting in what is sometimes known as the Mond-Turner Conference. Indeed, earlier this evening the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) was present, and actually rose to speak, but the Secretary of State for War—I do not know whether he knew that his right hon. Friend wished to speak—rising from the Front Bench, prevented the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen from being called. The right hon. Gentleman has now, I am sure to the general regret, left the House, and he will not, therefore, be able to defend in this House the Memorandum which he jointly signed with Mr. Ben Turner.
That Memorandum is worth referring to at this stage, since neither of its authors are here to refer to it. The concluding recommendation of the Memorandum is:That it is essential to hold a full inquiry into the best form of credit policy for this country before decisive steps are taken by the Government.It is a curious thing that, while spokesmen on the Government side have for a long time been urging Capital and Labour to get together and co-operate in defence of their common interests, yet when this conference has actually met and has produced this very important Memorandum on currency policy, the Government pay so little regard to it. When, on the other hand, the official Opposition having put down an Amendment exactly in line with the recommendations of the Conference, none of the industrialists who supported it outside has the courage or the leisure to come and say a word in its support, it is not very encouraging for future essays in co-operation between the representatives of Capital and Labour. Further, our demand for an inquiry is supported by a newspaper which is apparently thought well of by the Secretary of State for War, namely, the "Banker." In December, 1927, the "Banker" stated in its editorial comment:It is almost inconceivable that Mr. Churchill will proceed with such a step"—that is, the amalgamation of the note issues—without some further investigation of the position";and the "Banker" proceeds, in the same issue, to develop the case for a full inquiry, such as we are demanding, 809 before the financial system in this country is definitely pegged and limited in the way proposed by this Bill.
Finally, on the demand for inquiry, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young), although he made a speech in general support of the Bill, yet also supported the holding of an inquiry, but only after the Bill has been passed, which in our view would deprive the inquiry of much of its value. The points on which we maintain an inquiry should be held are, first of all, the general question of the credit policy that should be pursued, and, secondly, the question of our gold holding. The bankers of the City of London, like the Jews of old, dance round an image of the golden calf. I have been renewing my recollection of the Scriptures by reading the thirty-second chapter of Exodus, and I find they are there described as a stiff-necked people who were led in their idolatrous movement by Aaron, in the temporary absence of Moses, who subsequently exacted retribution. Aaron, I conceive, must be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is already suffering from a certain retribution, but I hope he will soon be back in the House. Without pursuing the parallel too far and without naming anyone for the rôle of Moses, it is evident that the fate that befell those people may yet befall the bankers and other dictators of our policy.
I pass from metaphor to fact. Little reference has yet been made by spokesmen on the Government side to the fact that no less than £160,000,000 of gold is being held to-day in the issue department of the Bank of England, earmarked against notes in the hands of the public, which the public may not, under the Act of 1925, exchange into gold coin. I should like some justification given for the continuance of that state of affairs. Historically, the gold holding in the issue department was a reserve against an internal drain of the currency. That internal drain has been blocked finally by the Act of 1925. The only possible drain on our gold reserve that can now occur is an external drain in connection with the state of the exchanges, and this can in no way be guarded against by this holding of £160,000,000 in the issue department, where it is deliberately immobilised, a mere bogey reserve against an internal paper issue into which it can- 810 not be converted. I ask the hon. Gentleman who is going to reply to give us some explanation of the continuance of this archaic, wasteful, and uneconomic condition of affairs, which is completely at variance with resolution 9 of the Genoa Conference, which the Secretary of State for War was at great pains to explain the Government were seeking to implement. The only result of holding this immense sum of gold in this perfectly useless manner will be that in the future we shall be setting a bad example internationally to every other central bank in every European and other country which wishes to join in the general scramble for gold, with the result of pulling down the world price level and spreading, not only in this country but also abroad, deflation, falling prices, trade depression, and unemployment.
Much criticism has been directed against this pivotal Clause 8 of the Bill. Much of it has come from the Government's own side of the House. We may perhaps leave further discussion on it to the Committee stage. It is evident that Clause 8 as at present drafted commands no kind of general support, and the contention that has been made seems to me absolutely justified that the effect of it will be to withhold from an expanding movement of trade the credit support it is entitled to receive unless we are to have political interference with the Bank at regular intervals of two years, because in reply to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, the right hon. Gentleman said that if it should prove that the currency provided for under this Bill was insufficient for reviving trade, growing population and increasing production, the remedy would then be that Parliament would be asked at the end of two years to authorise a higher fiduciary issue than was permitted in Clause 8 in its initial form.
§ Mr. DALTON
At the request of the Bank of England, the Treasury may, during a period of two years, authorise a higher fiduciary issue. The Secretary of State for War also said that if at the end of two years it seemed inexpedient to restrict the fiduciary issue to the original amount, Parliament would be invited to step in 811 and pass amending legislation. That is political interference, and we are, therefore, led to this conclusion, that the Government contemplate the possibility of political interference with the banking arrangements of this country at intervals of two years, provided that trade improves sufficiently to justify it. I would like a reply on that point when the hon. and gallant Gentleman comes to reply. The Bank of England has been much praised by some hon. Members. None the less, even some of those who have praised it have admitted that it is in need of some investigation, and the last speaker said he admitted that the constitution of the Court was not suitable to modern conditions.
My view, and that of many of my hon. Friends, is that we are not prepared to vote for the giving of any further powers and privileges to an unreformed and even to an uninvestigated Bank of England. That is our view. We believe that there are many things about the Bank of England, its constitution, powers and policy, which need not only to be investigated, but to be altered, and, in some cases, very considerably altered. Again, I do not propose to develop that at great length at this stage of the evening. The late Walter Leaf has already been quoted to the effect that the Bank of England was by no means the perfect institution it frequently imagined itself to be. As far as its directors are concerned, with one or two recent exceptions, they are recruited by a mere process of in-breeding and co-option within a very narrow circle within the City of London. I heartily associate myself with the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, that it is quite intolerable that at this time of day on the governing body of this exceedingly important central bank there should be no representative of the trade union movement or of the co-operative movement, or of what I call the more modern forces and more modern ideas born in this country since the passing of the Bank Act in 1844, at which point the minds of many of the defenders of the present system appear to have stopped still. It does not seem possible for the Bank of England much longer to continue these idiosyncrasies without some drastic reorganisation, possibly followed by some 812 suitable modification in its present practices and powers, as indicated in our Amendment.
The question of international co-operation has been debated backwards and forwards in this House. The Secretary of State for War claims that the Government have carried out all the Resolutions agreed to at Genoa—many of them apparently drafted by himself, and many of them admirable in terms of drafting —except the ninth and last of them. All of them except the ninth, he tells us, have been carried out by the Government, and they will seek to carry out the ninth at the proper time. The ninth Resolution is that referring to the summoning of an international convention for the economising of gold and the stabilisation of its value by international agreement. The proper time for that form of international co-operation has not arrived, he says. If that be so, I submit that the proper time for passing this Bill has not yet arrived. The proper time for this Bill is after the summoning of this international conference, and not before, because this Bill will be dangerous to the future credit basis of the country if it is carried into law without some international agreement which will prevent the setting up of this competitive scramble for gold, the danger of which has been admitted even by the Secretary of State for War.
Our central position is this, that we are being asked, on a matter which may seem highly technical, and which may seem very remote from the lives of the majority of the dwellers in this country, to assent to a hurried decision which may turn out, if our fears are well grounded, to be fraught in future with very grave harm to the fate of millions of wage-earners and of millions of households up and down the land, which may, if our fears are well grounded, check the trade revival for which we hope, and prevent the re-absorption of our unemployed in productive work, and even spread from this country to other countries the miasma of trade depression and deflation and falling world prices and unemployment. We refuse to associate ourselves with the commission of what we believe to be a rash and an unnecessary act until there has been a prior investigation into the probable economic effects of what is being proposed in this Government Measure.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Major Elliot)
Although the speeches of the Financial Secretary and the Secretary of State for War cleared up conclusively many points, they have, nevertheless, been recapitulated by different speakers who came later in the Debate. Speaker after speaker has recapitulated the suggestion that there was something earth-shaking about this Bill, in spite of the very clear explanation of the Secretary of State for War that that was not so. Speaker after speaker, and particularly the last speaker, referred at length to the necessity for holding an inquiry into the general currency policy of this country as a reason for delaying the passing of this Bill. I think that was one of the main arguments that the hon. Gentleman made. There is not a word about that in the Amendment which is before the House. The hon. Member had not read his own Amendment before he started out to explain it to the House. The suggestion in the Amendment is that the House should not assent to the Billamending the law relating to currency and bank notes and transferring to the Bank of England the issue of currency notes in the absence of any policy for putting into operation the resolutions of the International Conference hold at Geneva in 1922.There is no mention of an inquiry there. The Secretary of State for War, who, after all, was at Geneva, and had more to do with the drafting of the general resolutions and the discussions on them than even, with great deference, the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, has explained most clearly when he was asked what was the policy of the Government. No further Debate, therefore, need take place on that point. The Secretary of State for War explained what is the policy of the Government in respect of the Genoa resolutions, and the putting of the Genoa resolutions into force. There is no need for inquiry into the policy of the Government. What is asked for in the Amendment is an inquiry into the constitution and powers of the Bank of England— [HON MEMBERS: "And policy!"]—and policy of the Bank of England. That is not a matter which makes it necessary for us to delay the passage of this Bill. As to the necessity for an inquiry into the policy of the Bank of England, we have had the Bradbury Committee, which was appointed by the right hon. Gentle- 814 man opposite, a most authoritative Committee, which went into the matter at great length, and reported.
The position in regard to the Bill is perfectly simple. The Bill has been brought in to deal with the position which may arise in the event of a certain expansion of note issue being necessary, and it being appropriate to amalgamate the two note issues which at present exist. On the question of the amalgamation of the two note issues, no quarrel has arisen in the House. I think we are all at one on that matter. The further question relates to the body which is to exercise control, and the manner in which the control is to be exercised. Upon that question hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have spoken at length. The situation has been completely dealt with in speeches from this side of the House, and I do not propose to make a further speech on the same lines. Before I ask the House to come td a decision, I will answer one or two questions which have been put to me.
The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton) blamed the Secretary of State for War because of the party atmosphere which had been introduced into the Debate, and which had prejudiced him so much that the hon. Member said he felt absolved from any necessity to treat the matter in a non-party spirit, with which intention he had originally intended to approach the Debate. I have been looking at an article which was written recently by the hon. Member for Peckham, and it seems to me that his non-party attitude had broken down somewhat earlier than he would have us believe, and that his good resolution had broken down even before this Debate. In the article he refers to this Bill. He says:industry will once more be butchered to make a banker's holiday.He further said that there would beAnother human sacrifice on that inhuman altar of the golden calf which is worshipped in bank parlours.11.0 p.m.
I can imagine the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. E. Grenfell) carrying out human sacrifices in the bank parlours. Therefore, the hon. Member for Peckham did not approach the Bill and the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War with that complete and utter impartiality which he. 815 would have us agree is the proper atmosphere in which to approach the subject. I do not desire to follow him in these controversial questions. I do not feel competent to deal with the experts by whom I am faced on the other side of the House. I do not lay claim to any special knowledge on this subject. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett)—
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member need not be alarmed, because I refer to previous speakers before coming to him. He must not desire to monopolise the Debate. The hon. Member for Finsbury made a most reasoned and cautious speech, and he put a question which was afterwards taken up by the hon. Member for Stroud (Sir F. Nelson). He referred to the question as to what securities were to be held as cover for the note issue, whether it would be possible to hold Mercantile Bills as a cover for these notes. The hon. Member for Stroud made certain suggestions which I do not think it would be in order for me to refer to now. The question he raised was whether it is possible for bills to be held as cover for these notes, and the plain answer is, that it is possible. That deals with the specific question put by the hon. Member for Finsbury and the hon. Member for Stroud. The hon. Member for Peckham asked several questions to which I will do my best to reply. His first point with regard to the non-party attitude of the Secretary of State for War I have already dealt with. He then went on to ask why a full inquiry should not be held before the Bill was passed. There is no difficulty in replying to that question. A full inquiry has been held into general policy by the Cunliffe Committee and the Bradbury Committee; an inquiry into the constitution and powers of the Bank of England, and it is not necessary to delay the passage of this Bill in order to hold another inquiry. At any rate, an inquiry can be held just as easily after the passage of the Bill as before.
One inquiry has been held into general policy; an inquiry into particular policy is unnecessary. If an inquiry into general policy is desirable it can be held 816 after the Bill is passed. The hon. Member also asked whether we had been led away into worshipping the golden calf and he confessed that he had been reading the chapter in Genesis in order to refresh his memory. Perhaps he will allow us to refresh our memory in a similar manner in the Committee stage. Then he proclaimed that too great a store of gold was being held in this country. The two Committees to which I have referred did not report in that sense. Our stock of gold is comparatively small, and nobody can complain that we are gathering too great a stock of gold in the vaults of our banks. In fact, the suggestion that that is likely to lead to a sort of international scramble for gold is entirely unwarranted. The last question that the hon. Member put was as to Clause 8. He said that Clause 8 presupposes some kind of acute crisis before the expansion of the Note issue could take place. I wish only to reiterate what was said by the Secretary of State for War, who specifically stated that this was not to deal with questions of acute crisis, but was to deal with matters before a crisis had occurred, and that it became now part of the functioning mechanism of the money machine in this country.
§ Mr. GILLETT
The impression I got from the speech of the Secretary of State was entirely different from that I now gather from the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. To me what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says is the exact opposite of what the right hon. Gentleman said.
§ Major ELLIOT
That shows that even the humblest Member of the House, such as myself, may be useful in repeating what has been said in the course of the Debate, and that these remarks of mine may have had the valuable effect of reassuring the mind of the hon. Member before he reads the report of the Debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT, because I am certain that in reading the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that the impression which the Secretary of State intended to convey, and I believe did convey, was the same impression as I am now imperfectly intending to convey. The last point of the hon. Member was on the question of interference. He said that this presupposes repeated interference on the part of Parliament with the credit 817 machine of this country, and he adduced, in support of that view, the fact that if such expansion had been continued for a matter of two years at the request of the Bank of England, Parliament might pass legislation confirming the tentative decision which had been taken by the technical experts and by the Bank of England in consultation with the Treasury. It is suggested that that is a form of interference with the Bank of England.
Surely the granting of a request is the strangest form of political interference or compulsion that has ever been suggested in this House? The power can be exercised at the request of the Bank of England. It can be exercised to confirm the decision taken by the Bank of England, which has been in practice and tentative trial for a period of two years. If at the end of that time the Bank of England and the Treasury are consenting and bring forward a case, and make a case on the Floor of the House, no one can say that that is an attempt on the part of the House of Commons to interfere with the technical experts in the matter.
There is only one further point to be mentioned, and that is one of interest to Members for Scotland. It relates to the points which the Scottish Banks have raised by correspondence with the Secretary of State as to the Scottish Note issue. The Secretary of State is interviewing the representatives of the Scottish Banks to-morrow, and it would be obviously improper for me to deal with the question here now.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I have listened, as a humble learner all day to the various speeches on this subject. I have heard the Financial Secretary, the Secretary of State for War, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, and also the hon. Member who, I understand, speaks with some authority as representing the Bank of England. If there was no case at the beginning of the day for the Amendment, there is certainly a case at the end of the day for a full inquiry into the operations of the Bank of England. I suggest that hon. Members who represent the Government would do a great service to themselves and to the country if they, first, on their own behalf, and for their own benefit made some little inquiries into the operations of the Bank 818 of England. This, we are told, is the one institution that can be trusted with the central handling of our financial and credit operations; it is to handle the National Debt, the Bank Rate, the expansion or contraction of credit and look after the gold reserve. Why they do not hand over the Mint to it as well, I cannot understand. But what stands out obviously to me, not as an expert but as one who has been sent here, representing a constituency, to try to form a plain man's view of what the experts say, is that we are told that this institution was unfit to meet the special strain imposed on the country by the outbreak of war. That strain necessitated the Government taking all the responsibility for the issue of currency. The institution that is unfit to meet special stresses and strains, is unfit to shoulder the ordinary burdens. Since the War this institution has been incompetent to do the job with which the nation has entrusted it.
The hon. Member who spoke on its behalf asked if the Bank had ever abused its powers. There are several kinds of abuse. It would be wrong of us to suggest that the Bank has ever been guilty of financial dishonesty, but I make this charge against the Bank of England —that it has never run the currency of this country in such a way as to meet adequately the financial needs of the business community and particularly the working-class community. An institution which cannot perform the function for which it has been brought into being requires not merely to be inquired into, but to be abolished. The hon. Member who spoke on behalf of the Bank suggested that there was something irreligious, almost blasphemous in discussing the Bank of England and that it was an institution above reproach and above discussion. But it is only an ordinary business like any other business in this country, except that it has special privileges granted to it by the State. It uses its special privileges and powers to make profits like any other capitalist institution. Since the War, because it was incapable of doing the job it was set up to do, the Governments of the post-War period had to set up the Trade Facilities Act. The Government had to come in and do the banking business that the big national banks were unfit or unwilling to do. Millions of pounds were 819 advanced to various commercial enterprises because the Bank was not doing its job.
Since that time we have had the sugar beet subsidy. Surely, if there is one defence for private enterprise banking it is that this institution will advance money to encourage a new and somewhat risky enterprise to establish itself. But private enterprise banking, including the Bank of England, would not face up to the establishment of a new industry like the growing of sugar beet and the production of beet sugar, although the Government and the Government's advisers were all of opinion that both from an industrial and a national welfare standpoint this was an industry that should receive financial backing. This House had to vote out of the public purse moneys to support private enterprise, because private enterprise, which is supposed to do the job, would not take it on. I might mention also the position of the mining industry, which got right down into ruin. Private enterprise in mining ought to make its arrangements inside private enterprise in banking to get its financial support, but what did they do? They came running to this Government, that is now saying that the Bank of England must be trusted with all the Government's financial operations, and the Government handed them, again out of the public coffers, some £20,000,000 that the banks were afraid to advance to this derelict industry. Industrialists in the one department could not run the business efficiently, the financiers in the Bank of England would not advance them further credit, and they came to the Government and took money out of the pockets of the ratepayers, which means the rest of the working class to subsidise the mineowners of this country. [Interruption]. It is one great regret in my life that I have to use my position in this House to patch up the evils of capitalism in order that the workers may not suffer starvation.
The worst point against this proposal of the Government is the careless, slipshod way in which they come before us with new legislation, without taking the trouble to think out the basic principles or the necessities of the country. This is a trivial, footling way of meeting a great problem. Last week they came to 820 us and told us that private enterprise farming could not pay its way and that this industry must be specially financed, with long-term credits and short-term credits, that the ordinary banks were not prepared to risk at ordinary business rates; and again they come to this House of Commons, that must not interfere with financial operations, because they are too sacred, this House that must not dare to step into these places where the experts alone can tread. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) said that this is a field into which the layman should never enter; he may look over the fence and peer at the wise men inside, but he himself should never enter in. The position of the Government last week was this: The House of Commons must give to some new corporation—not the Bank of England, mark you, this well-established national institution, that has all the experience of financial manipulation and that is the only one that can be trusted with our bigger operations— power to finance farmers for long or short terms.
I am sometimes assumed to be a partisan, but, like my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench, I try to look at everything in a non-party way. Last week the Government view was that the ordinary banking institutions, with the Bank of England as their great central head and inspiration and guiding light, were unfit to cope with the problem of financing the derelict agricultural industry. I am quite sure, Mr. Speaker, that your recollection is the same as mine, that that was the issue last week. We had to create a great new financial corporation for the special purpose of financing the farming industry, a permanent basic industry. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite told us how the whole national life hung on the success of the agricultural industry, and that the great problem was to get the industrial workers back on to the land, so that we could produce our own food supplies and he independent of the hated foreigner.
That was the argument last week, when they said the Bank of England was not fitted to do it, and that a new financial corporation must be set up, and money paid out of the public coffers to keep it going. Now the Government tell us that 821 there is nobody but the Bank of England fit to look after the general finances of the country. What is banking for? To make dividends for the shareholders in the Bank of England? If banking has any legitimate purpose at all in our national life, it is to keep the wheels of industry going steadily and regularly, and to provide the people who are operating the wheels of industry with a decent living. Never once during the whole time since the House of Commons conferred that power on the Bank of England has that system been in operation in this country, except during a brief period during the War, when there was left in the hands of the Bank of England more power than at any other time in history. I am not a very enthusiastic supporter of the Amendment. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down that there is no need for further inquiry. The job now is for the nation to take over the Bank of England, and to inquire afterwards. I do not for a moment think that there are not new ideas to be discovered in the manipulation of money. I do not believe that the last word has been said about credit expansion or credit contraction.
I do not believe that we have reached the last stage of development in international banking relations. A Government that was looking into the future with a statesmanlike point of view would realise that the importance of the Genoa Conference was not in the Resolutions, but in the interesting fact that they point quite definitely to the fact that the financing of the future has to be on an international scale, that the great expansion is to be an international one, that the currencies of the various countries are to be assimilated, and that the credit is to be a central one. In that
§ way you can stimulate world developments in a way that you cannot do with a small national system of banks. In the future there is going to be a great development of banking in the international field, but to-day hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, in introducing this Bill, have never looked at this problem either from the point of view of the advantage of the working class in this country, or from the point of view of the future progress of the world. They have looked at it as an opportunity for private enterprise to make more profits and more money. That is dishonest and not statesmanship. And then they talk in high tones and say that it would be terrible if we had political interference with the banking system, but does anyone believe there is not political influence now, or that every director of the Bank of England is not a Tory and a defender of Capitalism, and that his Tory philosophy does not operate in his ruling of the Bank's affairs. The dividends of the Bank and the enhanced value which the shares have in the market to-day would not be what they are if the guiding principle of the Governors of the Bank had been the national welfare rather than personal profit. Political considerations operate t -day, political considerations would, I hope, operate in the future, but I hope that in the future the political consideration that would operate would be the general welfare of the common people, who have had a rough time of it in this country, and not the assistance of the luxury of the very few in a specially catered for class.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 229; Noes, 101.825
|Division No. 123.]||AYES.||[11.26 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Brass, Captain W.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Christie, J. A.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Briscoe, Richard George||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Couper, J. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buchan, John||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bullock, Captain M.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Crawfurd, H. E.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Carver, Major W. H.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cassels, J. D.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hudson, R.S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemeuth)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rye, F. G.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Jones, Sir G.W.H. (Stoke New'gton)||Sandon, Lord|
|Dixey, A. C.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Drewe, C.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Savery, S. S.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|England, Colonel A.||Loder, J. de V.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Ersklne, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Looker, Herbert William||Smithers, Waldron|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G,||Lumley, L. R.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Forrest, W.||McLean, Major A.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Foster, sir Harry S.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray ana Nairn)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Maitland, A, (Kent, Faversham)||Styles, Captain H. W.|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Margesson, Captain D.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Meller, R. J||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Gates, Percy||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Meyer, Sir Frank||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Grace, John||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Titchfleld, Major the Marquess of|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nail, Colonel sir Joseph||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Ward. Lt.-col.A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Grotrlan, H. Brent||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Nuttall, Ellis||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Oakley, T.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Penny, Frederick George||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Hanbury, C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wells, S. R.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple|
|Harland, A.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Power, Sir John Cecil||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Hastam, Henry C.||Preston, William||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Headlam. Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford. Lichfield)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Raine, Sir Walter||windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ramsden, E.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Remer, J. R.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Hilton, Cecil||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Rice, Sir Frederick||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Holbrook. Sir Arthur Richard||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wortnington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Robinson. Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Major Cope and Captain Wallace.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Dennison, R.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Duncan, C.||Hollins, A.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddertfleld)|
|Baker, Walter||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Barnes, A.||Gibbins, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Barr, J.||Gillett, George M.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Batey, Joseph||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin.,Cent.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Broad, F. A.||Greenall, T.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bromfield, William||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coins)||Kennedy, T.|
|Bromley, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Cape, Thomas||Groves, T.||Lansbury, George|
|Charleton, H. C.||Grundy, T. W.||Lawson, John James|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, F. (York., W.R., Normanton)||Lee, F.|
|Compton, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lindley, F. W.|
|Connolly, M.||Hardle, George D.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hayday, Arthur||Macklnder, W.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Day, Harry||Hirst, G. H.||Maxton, James|
|Montague, Frederick||Sexton, James||Townend, A. E.|
|Morris, R. H.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shlels, Dr. Drummond||Viant, S. P.|
|Murnln, H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Slesser, Sir Henry H-||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Palin, John Henry||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J,|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Snell, Harry||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Potts, John S.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Phillp||Windsor, Walter|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Stephen, Campbell||Wright, W.|
|Ritson, J.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Saklatvala, Shapurji||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thurtle, Ernest||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Paling.|
|Scurr, John||Tinker, John Joseph|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Mr. A. M. Samuel.]