§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71a.
§ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it is expedient to confirm an Agreement, dated the 14th day of December, 1928, and made between the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance for Northern Ireland for continuing the Agreement confirmed by the Unemployment Insurance (Northern Ireland Agreement) Act, 1926; and to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of any sum certified by the Joint Exchequer Board to be payable after the 31st day of March, 1930, from the Exchequer of the United Kingdom under the last-mentioned Agreement as so continued."—(King's Recommendation Signified).
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Arthur Michael Samuel)
This Resolution is necessary in order to give legislative sanction to the agreement of December, 1928, which makes permanent the temporary agreement of 1926. The White Papers which contain the detailed information on the subject we are about to discuss are No. 3271 of 1928 and No. 2586 of 1926 If hon. Members have those Papers in their hands, it will assist them, and, at the same time it will not be necessary to detain the Committee with a long explanation of what is in those Papers. The agreement of 1928 makes permanent the agreement of 1926, which was of a temporary nature, but in the 1928 agreement an arrangement is imported which will be beneficial to the British Exchequer, in that the Government of Northern Ireland will by degrees, by instalments, extinguish the excess debt of the Northern Ireland Fund, which amounts, in round figures, to £3,424,000. That is up to 1925. Those hon. Members who heard the Debate of 1926 will remember that it was there referred to, and it was held in suspense from that date to 1928. It is now being dealt with in the arrangement we have now made in this way. It will be written off by instalments by the 1802 Government of Northern Ireland, with the result that the benefit accruing year after year to the British Exchequer until the amount is extinguished, wilt ultimately be £113,000 a year. The object of the agreement is, and always has been, that unemployment benefits and contributions in Northern Ireland should be maintained on the same level as in Great Britain. The position which necessitates this legislation is due to the following fact: The insured population of Northern Ireland is to a large extent contained in two trades—linen and shipbuilding. The fact—an actuarially unfortunate one—is that one-third of the insured population is associated with these two trades. Owing to that fact, the percentage of unemployment in Northern Ireland has been persistently greater than in Great Britain.
If I put the following facts to the Committee, I think perhaps it will bring out the point. Let me take shipbuilding. I extracted last night the figures for the years 1922 to 1928 with reference to unemployment in that trade. The figures ranged from 21 per cent. to 44 per cent., and they are now 24 per cent. In the linen industry, they vary from 7 per cent. to the extraordinary figure of 42 per cent., and even now they are 17 per cent. Therefore, on the whole, the unemployment figures have been persistently bad in Northern Ireland, and worse than they are here. Let me give the figure of unemployment for Northern Ireland in 1927. It was 13 per cent. whereas in Great Britain it was 9½ per cent. In 1928, the figure for Northern Ireland was 17 per cent. as contrasted with Great Britain's 10½ per cent. In Northern Ireland there is a small population and a small area, and the figures for unemployment in 1928 are 17 per cent. as compared with 10½ per cent. for Great Britain. It follows quite naturally that with a smaller insured area and a larger unemployment figure, it would not be possible for Northern Ireland if it went on without assistance, to maintain benefits and contributions at the same rate as obtain here.
Let me make a further comparison. Take one of our most distressed areas—the north-east area of England. There is an insured population there eight times as large as in Northern Ireland, and with the varieties and diversities of trade in north-east England the unemployment 1803 figure is only 15½ per cent. as against 17 per cent. in Northern Ireland. Therefore, with respect to the small area in Northern Ireland from which contributions can be gathered, we have to propose some businesslike means by which we can get the benefits, contributions and funds of Northern Ireland on a parity with the similar organisation of Great Britain. We did that in 1926. The arrangement then was of a temporary nature. Under the agreement the Northern Ireland Fund remains separate, and it will continue to remain separate, and Great Britain will help the fund by contributions with the result that the benefits and contributions remain the same as they are here. I have sketched that in rapidly and with a very broad brush, but if hon. Members will look at Command Papers 2588 and 3271 they will see that the proposals I have just outlined to the Committee are set forth there in detail. This proposal will cost Great Britain about two-thirds of the expenditure necessary to keep the Northern Ireland Fund in a position to pay the same benefits for the same contributions as in Great Britain. In 1926 it was hoped that employment and conditions might so improve that an extension of the temporary agreement to one of a permanent nature might not have been necessary. Experience, however, has shown us that the problem of a restricted insured population with which we have to deal is a permanent one. As far as human ingenuity can foresee, these conditions of unemployment in Northern Ireland as compared with this country are not likely to alter so materially as to vary the basis upon which we are now making these proposals; that is, the restricted size of the insured population of Northern Ireland and the employment of a large part of it in the two trades of linen and shipbuilding is, we think, a permanent feature of the situation. It is just possible that the introduction of some luxury industry like artificial silk might have an effect, but there is nothing to go upon which would lead us to think that these two trades will not remain the two main trades of Ulster.
The Opposition have put an Amendment on the Paper which would limit the operation of this Measure to 31st March, 1931. We are, however, convinced that the problem of restricted size of insured 1804 population is as far as can be seen, a permanent one. Hon. Members opposite say that it can be met by a temporary method—that you can remedy a permanent malady by a temporary measure. The problem is that the insured population is only 252,000. That is the main crux of the problem. We cannot hope for a larger area from which to get contributions. We of course expect a reduction in the unemployment figures, but we cannot see any reason to hope that the number of insured persons will materially increase, or that they will be employed in different trades. Therefore, we say it is hopeless to attempt, as the Amendment would attempt, to remedy what we think is a permanent difficulty by a temporary measure. Accordingly, we seek to make the 1926 Agreement permanent, with the beneficial addition, as I have explained, of the Northern Ireland Government relieving the fund of the £3,424,000 excess debt by annual instalments, which will ensure a growing relief to the Imperial Exchequer, ultimately amounting to £113,000 a year.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I beg to move, in line 1, after the word "That," to insert the words:subject to the modification that provision be made for the repayment of any sums paid.It would have been much more interesting if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken upon himself the responsibility of moving this Resolution. One can quite understand, in the present circumstances, the unwillingness of the right hon. Gentleman to intervene in a proposal of this character. I hope, however, that the Committee may have the pleasure of hearing his version of this proposal before the Debate comes to an end. Perhaps the courage of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now fortified by the presence of the Prime Minister, or it may be that the Prime Minister has entered the House for the purpose of preventing the Chancellor of the Exchequer repeating the humiliating spectacle of a week ago. This proposal is, except in one respect, just a repetition of the proposal which we had before the House exactly three years ago. I spoke at some length in the Debate upon that proposal, and it will not be necessary for me to repeat much of what I said on that occasion.
1805 The only difference between the proposal of three years ago and the proposal which is now submitted is that we are now asked to make permanent the temporary agreement of 1926. I would ask the Committee to note that that agreement does not expire till March, 1930. What then can be the reason why the Government are proposing now, 12 months before the expiration of the agreement, to give it a permanent character? The explanation is not difficult to find. The Tory party to-day is what the Tory party was when Lord George Hamilton said that it was the business of the Tory party to look after its friends when it was in office and to take steps to see that their interests would be safeguarded when the Tories were out of office. We have in this proposal a confession by the Government that they do not expect to be in office in March, 1930, and no doubt, under the importunities of the Ulster loyalists, they are making this proposal this afternoon. We had an instance last week of the pressure which is being constantly brought to bear upon the British Government to hand over public monies to their loyal friends in Ireland. The loyalty of the Ulster Unionists is always measured by the amount of money they can extort from the British taxpayer.
In the Debate that took place three years ago, the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that Ulster's contribution to the United Kingdom expenditure had been reduced from the Treaty figure of about £7,000,000 a year to under £3,000,000 a year, and that even that £3,000,000 a year had not been paid. The average of the preceding years, that is, the years preceding the time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking three years ago, had been something like £1,250,000. The Government of Northern Ireland, ever since that Parliament was established, has been trying to evade the responsibility it accepted when that Government was established, and this is not the first occasion upon which services for which the Northern Ireland Government is responsible have been placed upon the Imperial Exchequer. I remember that on the last occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred, first, to the notorious scandal of the police charges, which were nothing less than a camouflaged grant for unem- 1806 ployment. And there was the equally scandalous grant for the erection of palatial Government offices and Parliament House for Ulster.
I speak now of a matter upon which I have no knowledge beyond what has appeared in the newspapers during the last few days. I understand that the Government of Northern Ireland is going to propose legislation on the lines of the de-rating proposals which have been applied to Great Britain and a Press statement, or rather a statement in the Press, attributes to a Member of the Ulster Parliament the statement that the whole of the cost of that, £750,000 a year, will be secured from the Imperial Exchequer. Whether that be so or not, I do not know, but I know Ulster, and it will not be for want of demands from the Ulster Government if that proposal falls through. Now, to speak more specifically upon the proposal before the Committee, that proposal was submitted to the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he refused to have anything at all to do with it, to his credit. It was then submitted to his successor—a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer—who also refused to have anything to do with it. They did not submit it to me, but when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer took office the demands of the Ulster Government were renewed, the pliable Chancellor of the Exchequer succumbed, and we had the proposal of three years ago.
I am prepared to concede this, that the industrial conditions of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the interlocking of trade union organisation, are such that I think it would have been better if the Unemployment Insurance Act had been retained as a reserved service and had been administered as common to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but that was not done. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I remember, gave reasons why, I will not say it was undesirable to do it, but at any rate he gave reasons explaining the difficulties of one unemployment scheme commonly administered for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the chief of which was that it would have been difficult to administer the scheme in Northern Ireland, if we had amalgamated the whole scheme; but if that be the case, it is an objection which 1807 applies with far greater force to the proposal which is now being submitted, because we are handing over to the Government of Northern Ireland these sums every year, which may amount to £1,000,000 a year—I shall have something to say about that later—and we have no control at all over the administration of this fund.
It is quite true that one of the Ministers of Northern Ireland, in a letter which is attached to this White Paper, says that the Government of Northern Ireland will be quite willing at all times to allow the British Government to investigate the administration of the Unemployment Fund, but at this point I would like to put a question. This matter was raised three years ago and, if I remember rightly, a sort of White Paper was then promised, which would have given us particulars about the administration of the Unemployment Fund in Northern Ireland. The reason why that demand was made, and why the demand was conceded, was this, that it had been said by trade union officials and by hon. Friends that there was a difference in the administration of the two Funds as between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and that some part of the Fund was being administered in a way which put an additional burden on Great Britain in respect thereof. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have something to say about that when he speaks, as he no doubt will later in the Debate, and I hope he will tell us what assurance he has that the administration of the Unemployment Fund in Northern Ireland will be precisely on the same lines and in all particulars the same as the administration of the Fund in Great Britain.
The hon. Gentleman who has submitted this Motion to the House did not add very much to the information with which we had been provided in the White Paper, but he certainly did dot the i's and cross the t's of that part of the Resolution which proposes to make Great Britain's contribution permanent. We are told that it is going to be permanent because the high percentage of unemployment is going to be permanent in Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman repeated that over and over again. He also used a very carefully prepared 1808 phrase with which he was evidently so pleased that he repeated it three or four times—a phrase about a temporary measure being no cure for a permanent disease. He spoke about the high percentage of unemployment in Northern Ireland, and we are told that that is to be permanent. Has the Tory party, then, no plan for reducing the percentage of unemployment, which the hon. Gentleman told us has risen to as high as 40 per cent., and which appears from the figures given in the White Paper to be permanent at something like 20 per cent? This Motion is an admission that the Tories have given up all hope of ever being able to reduce the present high percentage of unemployment, which is to remain for all time at something like 20 per cent.
If it is to be permanent, what becomes of the purpose of the condition in this White Paper that if the rate of unemployment is higher in Great Britain than in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland will begin to make a contribution to the fund? It is little less than an insult to make a condition of that sort, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows has no value. It is little less than an insult to the House of Commons to submit a proposal containing a condition like that. I remember in the last Debate that an Ulster Member, whom I am surprised not to see in his place this afternoon, told us that for something like 20 years the percentage of unemployment in Northern Ireland was far less than in Great Britain. Northern Ireland has a large amount of unemployment to-day, because of the depression of two of the staple industries, particularly shipbuilding. But the condition in Belfast is no worse than it has been and is in the shipbuilding towns on the North-east coast of England, and we have not given up all hope of a revival of industry in that part of England. Why, then, should it be given up in respect to Belfast? There is, then, the possibility—and I certainly entertain the hope—of better times coming in Belfast, and of the high percentage of unemployment, from which Northern Ireland now suffers and has been suffering for so long, being happily removed.
Since the temporary agreement was made three years ago, we have paid something like £2,500,000 from the Imperial Exchequer to the Northern Ire- 1809 land Unemployment Relief Fund. There was a debt of something like £3,400,000 on the Ulster Unemployment Fund three years ago, and in the meantime nothing has been done to reduce it. It has been, to use the phrase of the hon. Gentleman, in suspense. We have—and let this point be particularly noted—been helping Ireland with £113,000 a year, and therefore we have been making a contribution to Ulster's unemployment payments anterior to the time when the agreement of 1926 was made, and we are continuing that to-day. We have not only been helping them by the payment of this £2,500,000 a year during the last three years, but we have been helping them, too, out of the money of the taxpayers of Great Britain on account of the deficiency which was created before 1926. We are to continue to do so.
The White Paper tells us that the Government of Ulster have undertaken to liquidate their liability; and they propose to wipe off the odd thousands, amounting to about £400,000, almost at once, and the £3,000,000 will be liquidated at the rate of £100,000 a year. As an excuse for the conditions which we are asked to accept, we are told that that will eventually relieve us of 113,000 a year. When? How long will it take to wipe off a debt of £3,000,000 at the rate of £100,000 a year? It will take 30 years. Therefore, the Government contemplate that this arrangement, which is to be made permanent under this agreement, is to continue for at least 30 years. That is what the Committee is asked to endorse. The purpose of our Amendment is that Ulster should be put in precisely the same position as Great Britain in regard to the debt upon the unemployment fund. We do not want to see the contribution for unemployment reduced in Ulster—far from it—but if a debt is good enough for Great Britain, a debt should be good enough for Ulster, and there is no reason to be advanced why Ulster should be put in a more favourable position than Great Britain, especially at the expense of Great Britain. There is one reason for it which is not a justification, and that is the reason which I gave at the commencement of my observations, when I said that this is only another instance where the loyalty of the Irish Unionists is bought by money contributed by the British taxpayer.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill)
Although my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary is in charge of this Debate I thought that I might at this moment briefly put before the Committee some of the larger issues which the Committee should have in mind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) has made an uncommonly mild speech so far as its tone and vigour were concerned. He has nevertheless poured out in a feeble and wishy-washy stream the usual succession of violent epithets, charges of bad faith and conduct and of insults to the House of Commons—insinuations at every stage, all with plenty of venom served up cold, but with an obvious lack of any real feeling behind what he says. I venture to ask the Committee to look at this question in its broad and simple outlines. The whole principle of unemployment insurance is that it should be over the widest possible area, because now one trade is prospering and another is failing, now one part of the country is doing well, and another is a distressed area. When you have a sufficiently broad area, the misfortunes of one part of the country and of one particular industry are equated by the better conditions in another. That is the whole principle of unemployment insurance, and of all insurance. Hut Ulster has only two principal industries, linen and shipbuilding. Cut off by itself, the oscillations would be out of all proportion to the vital strength of this small unit of administration.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
But Ulster did not ask for a separate Government to be set up in the northern corner of Ireland. On the contrary, they wished, and their only demand was, to take the rough and the smooth with Great Britain. It was against their wish and in spite of their protests that this form of government was placed upon them. They consented reluctantly, but they consented loyally in order not to block the way to the self-government which was so strongly demanded by the southern part of Ireland. I have always considered that it is the interest as well as the duty of 1811 the House of Commons to make a success of the Government in Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman asked what assurance we had that the administration will he thrifty and identical with the administration here. In Ulster the administration of all public services is very frugal and stiff. No lush or lavish expenditure is there. Treasury officials who have examined the matter find that everything is sharply and clearly scrutinised in a way which hon. Gentlemen would perhaps regard as very disagreeable if it were done in detail in any Poor Law matter or unemployment insurance matter in this island. Ulster also pays a third of the cost of any excess in the unemployment bill in Ulster. By an equalisation arrangement Britain makes good the other two-thirds of the excess; hut this one-third of the excess cost of unemployment in Ulster weighs upon that small community, and upon its budget, with far greater force than ten times the amount would weigh upon our affairs.
Then the right hon. Gentleman asked: "Why should they be put in a different position in regard to the debt from what we are in this country?" They are put in exactly the same position. The whole arrangement has aimed at treating Ulster in such a way that she and her people are neither better nor worse off than the corresponding people on the other side of St. George's Channel, and I believe that object has been attained. The right hon. Gentleman asked further: "Why do you suggest that this excessive rate of unemployment will be permanent in Ulster? Are you not suggesting that unemployment is incurable, and that there will be no relief at all as years go on?" That is not the point at all. It is not that we have said that unemployment in Ulster at this high rate will be permanent. What we have said is that so small a unit of unemployment insurance as Ulster will continue to be permanently at a disadvantage compared to the wider unit which operates throughout Great Britain.
What I would like to know is, what other plan could we have adopted? We could have amalgamated the two funds. The right hon. Gentleman gave some countenance to that. The representatives 1812 of Ulster were very anxious that that should be done. They certainly asked for no more than what the right hon. Gentleman rather incautiously has admitted he would be ready to concede. That, however, would involve all sorts of difficulties in administration, and might lead to very sharp divergences between the British Government and the Ulster Government on the question of payment of benefits in particular cases, and so forth. But, under the arrangement now proposed, we have the effectual safeguard that Ulster, if her fund costs more than ours because of the extra unemployment, is subjected to one-third of the excess, and, for a country so small, that one-third is the most heavy counter check you can have.
Now I venture to put one or two very simple points to the party opposite. Rightly or wrongly, the view we take is that these proposals put the working classes of Ulster in no better and in no worse position than their fellows across the Channel. Is Labour going to take the view that they ought to be put in a worse position? If so, in the first instance, it seems to me that it will be very short-sighted. If it were necessary to scrap or reduce the Unemployment Insurance Fund in Northern Ireland, if it were necessary to reduce the benefits or increase the contributions, or break up the fund altogether, we should undoubtedly get an influx of workpeople from Northern Ireland—I leave out of account the humanity of the matter—into those districts which are most distressed, on the Clyde or on the North-East Coast. Would that make things any better at the present time? To show how great is the burden on Northern Ireland, I would like to point out that one of our most distressed areas, the North-Eastern Division of England, with an insured population eight times as large as Northern Ireland, has a smaller percentage of unemployment at the present time. Would it really be worth our while to break up this Northern Ireland Insurance Fund, or by starving it in one stay or another, or by burdening that small Government with loans, piling up year after year, to promote a process which undoubtedly would lead to an influx of workers from there into the very industries and the very parts of our own country which at the present time are most distressed? I shall 1813 be very much surprised if, on reflection, hon. Members opposite would like to identify themselves with such a course.
The other day I read some unfeeling paragraphs in the "Daily Herald":Doubtless the Belfast Government, faced with the bankruptcy of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and unwilling to tap the pockets of its own people, would gladly have got over the difficulty by the simple expedient of increasing the workmen's contributions, or reducing their benefit or scrapping the fund altogether.But why should we contemplate such matters? These people have just as hard a struggle to get their living as any others, and why should they be worse off than any other of His Majesty's subjects who are represented in this House? I am certain the Labour party will make a very great mistake if they allow the prejudice they feel against the Ulster Government to lead them into taking a wrong line on what is essentially a Labour matter. Just because the right hon. Member for Colne Valley has always had a dislike of the Ulstermen and been very much against them politically, why should the Labour party as a whole take up a position against that working-class population, strike at that working-class population and try to make out that it is in an invidious position compared with others of the same class? What is this we have heard of the solidarity of labour, "Workers of the world unite," and all that sort of thing? The right hon. Gentleman says: "Workers of the world unite—but, as far as these Ulster people are concerned, I have got a down upon them." Then the right hon. Gentleman asks: "Why do you bring this Measure forward when the existing Act does not expire till 1930?" Has not his speech been a very complete answer to that question? [Interruption.] We need not go "butting at" each other across the Floor of the House as to who is going to win the next General Election, that rests upon processes which are not yet determined, but this small community in Northern Ireland know that if by any chance—or any mischance—the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for settling this question, they would not get fair treatment. They know that he would be very eager to give them a kick, that he would be extremely glad to see them come a cropper, and that in his malice against the Ulster Government he would not be 1814 restrained by any consideration for the working people in that area. I have had a great deal to do with these Irish matters and I feel no relish or enjoyment in that recollection. Each of the parties in this House has got its Irish pet and each has got its Irish bugbear, and people are more inclined to look with severity upon the interests of those they dislike than to ensure fair and impartial administration. As far as I am concerned, I claim to be impartial.
Only last week I was being scarified for taking a particular view upon an Irish matter—to which I still adhere—though I submit to the view of the House. [Interruption.] Hon. Members will have to wait no longer than tomorrow to hear me give an answer on the subject of Irish silver coinage affecting the Irish Free State which, I have not the slightest doubt, will bring upon me the reproaches of some of my hon. Friends who represent Ulster. So we are getting it from both sides. But I have been very earnestly desirous that in the settlement of all these Irish matters I should treat both the Governments of Northern Ireland and of Southern Ireland in such a manner as to make for the success of their affairs and to give them the power of continuous life; and further to enable them to deal with the very grievous problems which have been thrust upon them, and cordially to maintain steady contact with the central Government here in relations animated by goodwill. It is not in the least a desire to favour now this one and now that one which has animated me, but a desire that we should make a success of the problems of both these Irish Governments; and in this case, which is one of asking for no more than bare equality, and in which, as I am led to understand by the most critical examination of these proposals, they are getting no more than bare equality in a matter affecting the vital interests of 250,000 working people—in such a matter I do say that if ever there was an occasion on which we should be animated by a generous desire to help one of these Irish Governments, it is this, and the Resolution, proposed by my hon. Friend, constitutes an opportunity for the House of Commons to testify its opinion.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I find myself for once, probably for the first time in my experience in the House, not able to see 1815 eye to eye with my friend and leader the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). If I were to judge this question on purely political grounds, I have no doubt I could put into my speech the feeling which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said was absent from that of my distinguished leader, but I fail to take that view. I hate the politics of the people of the North of Ireland, I detest the step they took when they insisted on partition; I believe, from my knowledge of Ireland, that it is largely responsible for the position in which they are in at the present moment. I can see no prosperous future for them until they retrace that step. But the question I have to decide to-day, as far as I am concerned personally, is not one that affects the political character of Northern Ireland at all. I have to support, or refuse to support, the giving of necessary assistance to 250,000 working-class people. Although these people, as I have said, differ fundamentally with me on nearly every aspect of life and, to a very large extent, differ with the people I represent in this House, we have one thing in common. The poverty on the Clyde due to unemployment is approximately equal to the poverty in Northern Ireland. In the Division which I represent in this House we have at the present moment 21 per cent. of insured workers unemployed. I think that if an analysis of the figures were submitted to this Committee to-day, it would show that over the period of the past four years the standard of unemployment is worse in my constituency than in the area which we are now considering. I cannot follow the argument that, because the people in Northern Ireland are separated from us in regard to some things as a result of the Treaty, therefore I should take my vengeance on the working classes of that part of the country. The Ulster people are allied to us politically, and I see no reason in that for opposing the proposal which the Government are making to-day.
After all, this is a question of the Treaty, and if you want to alter the present state of things you must alter the terms of the Treaty. Does anyone want to open up the Irish political question if it can possibly be avoided? No party wishes to reopen the 50 years of Irish 1816 history and the state of things which existed before the Treaty. I have no faith in the future of the Treaty, but want to let sleeping dogs lie. I am told that we have no control over the administration of the money that is proposed to be voted to-day. That is a question which we cannot settle to-day. It is a question for the Treaty. What is the alternative? If we do not grant this money to-day, who will suffer? Will it be the rich men in Ulster to whom reference has been made? It is quite true that it should be, and the rich men in England should also suffer, but I object to my people on the Clyde suffering in consequence. If I were dealing with 250,000 Clyde workers, would I accept it as a valid argument that certain people had money and that before we gave the necessary assistance to the Clyde, we should see that the rich people in the Clyde district parted with their money? I would not agree to that course. I insist upon supporting the people of Ireland, and I am willing to leave it to the House to determine the terms on which the workers on the Clyde should be assisted later on. I am willing to vote this money and argue these matters later. I am contending for the view that we should do unto others as we would have them do to ourselves. I would not let the Clyde people starve, and I do not wish to starve the people of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
Yes, charity should begin at home, but it should not end there. A good deal has been made of the fact that these people in Northern Ireland have their own insurance scheme, and ought to tap their own resources. I think if the Clyde people were left to tap their own resources they would find themselves in difficulties in a very short time. Northern Ireland has no Birmingham, London, or Southern England or other comparatively prosperous centres of industry to contribute to her distressed areas. As a matter of fact, Northern Ireland is itself one distressed area. If we do not pass this financial proposal it must lead to a reduction of the amount of the unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland. What effect will that have on the Clyde? It will have the effect which 1817 has very properly been suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If you make the people of Northern Ireland live on a reduced unemployment benefit, then the Tories in this House will insist upon the people living on the Clyde receiving less unemployment benefit, and we shall be met with the argument that a working man living on the Clyde requires no more than a working man living in Belfast.
Such a policy is bound to have another effect. It will drive the workers in Belfast in increasing numbers to compete with the people working on the Clyde. For these reasons, I am going to refuse to oppose the proposal which has been submitted by the Government to-day. Think of the position on these benches to-day. In the next Vote we shall be asked to increase the pensions of the Dominion Governors from £1,300 to £2,000 a year. If the House of Commons can afford to do that for our Dominion Governors, surely we should see to it that there shall not be unnecessary starvation in Northern Ireland. I submit that if the House of Commons were asked to-day to vote this sum to relieve some poverty-stricken people in a foreign country the money would be granted unanimously. I protest against the idea that because in politics and many other things I disagree and shall always disagree with the people of Northern Ireland, I should refuse justice to 250,000 of the class of people that I represent. From the first day I entered the Socialist movement I have been making an appeal with the object of emancipating all the workers and asking them to unite with England, Scotland, Southern Ireland and other parts of Europe. I am not going to turn round now and say that I am going to make it a condition of giving assistance to the working classes that every one of them must accept my politics and my views.
I refuse to do that. I am here to serve the workers unconditionally irrespective of class, politics, or creed. The fact that they are workers is sufficient for me. Ours is a rich nation which can well afford to find the money. I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer could work up as much enthusiasm for the people on the Clyde as he has clone for the people in Northern Ireland. If he did that, I should greatly appreciate 1818 his speeches. I suspect, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has probably acted more with political motives than I am acting this afternoon. Whatever may be the right hon. Gentleman's motive and the views of my party, the fact that you have 250,000 workers in Northern Ireland needing help, and the fact that if you do not give them some assistance they will be landed into deeper poverty is sufficient for me. For these reasons, I refuse to oppose the proposal of the Government.
§ Mr. GARDNER
I have been particularly interested in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his defence of the claims of the people of Northern Ireland. While the right hon. Gentleman was making his declaration, I called to mind an occasion when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had the courage to go to Belfast and address 20,000 people on a football ground. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman told the people of Ulster what he thought about them. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer is anxious to redeem his reputation, which suffered somewhat last week, but it appears to me from the attitude he has taken up that that is his object. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood on this question. I happen to be an Ulster man myself, and I am a native of Belfast. I am opposed to the proposal of the Government solely on the ground that I do not think the circumstances justify it. The first thing to which I want to draw attention is the fact that there are now only four Ulster Members present. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] At any rate only four Ulster Members have been present in this Chamber during the discussion.
§ Mr. GARDNER
That is an indication that the Ulster Members know in advance what the Government are going to give them, and that is in keeping with the ordinary policy of cadging in this country for Northern Ireland. No doubt the Ulster Members are quite satisfied with the result. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made an appeal for the poor working class population of Northern Ireland. I am aware that if this proposal is not granted some of my school-mates will be placed in the position of having to pay increased taxation in Northern Ireland, or accepting diminished unem- 1819 ployment benefit. I am certainly not anxious to hurt the people from whom I sprung. The announcement that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to provide more money for the people of Northern Ireland struck me as being something very contrary to what we are finding in this country to-day. Yesterday afternoon the President of the Board of Education announced that the Miners Fund under the Lord Mayor's appeal had distributed £440,000, and we are asked in the White Paper to approve an estimate of £465,000 to Northern Ireland in perpetuity. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who introduced this proposal, told us that in the North Eastern area there are eight times the number of unemployed that there are in Northern Ireland. I suggest that one of the reasons for this Vote is not so much a question of diminishing the poverty in Northern Ireland, but is simply a question of keeping the Ulster Government on its feet.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) said that on this question he was more concerned about giving first and inquiring afterwards. I suggest to him that this Vote is going to put back for five years the chance of the Labour party in Ulster forming a Labour Government in that particular area. If this Vote does not go through, either the rich men in Ulster will have to pay increased taxation or the insured workers in Ulster will have to accept diminished unemployment benefit. In that case the Ulster Government would suffer at the next election. Already the present Government in Ulster have gerrymandered the constituencies in order to secure a permanent majority, and they are now getting the assistance of the British Government to help them. As soon as the Ulster Government are obliged to face their own responsibilities, then they will make some real effort to face the circumstances in Northern Ireland. On this point I do not take the pessimistic view put forward by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not misrepresent me. I said that the restricted size of the insured population in Northern Ireland and the employment of a large part of 1820 that population in two trades, are, we think, a permanent feature in the situation. I would not like it to be placed on record that the view which the hon. Gentleman has expressed has been accepted by me.
§ Mr. GARDNER
The fact remains that we have established a Government in Ulster. The Government knew the size of the area when they started the scheme, and they ought to take over their proper share of the responsibilities. The Chancellor also said that his Department had carefully scrutinised the administration in Northern Ireland, and found that there was no waste. I do not know, Mr. Hope, what your point of view may be, though I know that you would not express it, having regard to your duties, but, if the Committee would understand that the gentleman who holds the office corresponding to yours in the Northern Ireland Parliament gets £1,500 a year—
§ Mr. GARDNER
The Chancellor said that there was no maladministration. I suggest that administration involves the whole Government, and in the Northern Ireland Parliament the Deputy-Speaker for six weeks' work gets £1,500 a year—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think we can go into that. The point is whether the Departments are carrying on their administration with proper economy. This is an act of the Northern Ireland Parliament, and we cannot deal with it.
§ Mr. GARDNER
I am sorry if I have transgressed the Rules, but, at any rate, I have expressed my point of view. I will give a distinct analogy. The North-East Coast has eight times the amount of poverty, if I may use the term, that Northern Ireland has, but it certainly has not a Government like that of Northern Ireland, and on that ground alone I think it is exceedingly fortunate. I do suggest that to ask the British House of Commons to agree to a permanent charge of approximately £500,000 a year for a population of 250,000, and to utilise the name of a Royal personage on huge posters throughout the length and breadth of England and Wales 1821 appealing for funds to diminish the amount of poverty in certain areas which have a population of somewhere near 1,000,000, is a contrast which will not bear examination. I hope that the Committee will reject this proposal, and that we shall settle down to some reality as regards this position. The Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon went out of his way to make reference to the technique of the Insurance Fund and the basis of its foundation. If what he said is true, and no one would doubt the wisdom of his remarks, it ought to apply more fully to the position in Great Britain. If it is a good thing to use British taxes to diminish poverty in Northern Ireland, I suggest that it is a very good thing to use British taxes to diminish poverty in the Welsh and Northern coalfields, and in the other parts of Great Britain which are now suffering so much.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I had not intended to intervene in this discussion, but there are one or two points in what was said by the last speaker that. I cannot quite accept. I believe it is true to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have brought forward this recommendation to-day for extra money for Northern Ireland had it not been for the fact that Northern Ireland gives him and his Government political allegiance. The consideration of the Government to-day is not that workers in Northern Ireland are in need; it is not that poor people are requiring unemployment benefit. There is one consideration, and one only, and that is the consideration depending on political power—how the Government can at the next election muster no sufficient political power to command the situation after that event. As a consequence, the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day is not spurred on by the desires and needs of the community, but by purely political motives.
I accept that, but that does not alter the character of this Vote. I am sorry that I cannot accept the argument of the last speaker. He asks us to vote against this proposal, and thus put the hands of the clock of progress in Northern Ireland back for five years; and he says, and I agree, that if that be done either of two things must happen—either there must be increased taxation of the rich or decreased benefits for the poor. The 1822 money must be found; if it be not found, it cannot be paid out. The hon. Member says that the Northern Ireland Government will be faced with that position, and, being faced with that position, they will be defeated at the polls. In other words, a reduction of benefits will bring about the return of a Labour Government in Northern Ireland at the expense of making the conditions of the poor worse than they have been before.
To that doctrine I cannot subscribe. It is possible that at the next election my majority might be greatly increased if certain proposals that my colleagues were able to get into the Local Government (Scotland) Bill had been rejected by the Government, but I want those concessions, because they will make the conditions of the people better. Consequently, even if my majority be not quite so great, I would rather that that should be so if I can see something done for the common people. What is the alternative? It is said by one or two of my colleagues, and I agree, that charity should begin at home. It may be that we ought to start our charity among the people at home, and with that sentiment I cordially agree. There are Members of the House from whom I differ in many respects, but my bitterest critic cannot deny that I have applied that kind of reasoning to the Division that I represent, though possibly no one has done it in greater isolation. But what is the position? I will give an instance. I remember the deplorable starvation that occurred in Vienna, and the terrible want and misery and poverty that were suffered there, and I remember that colleagues of mine, men of great outlook and wonderful hearts, got assistance from this country in many diverse ways for those people. While charity begins at home, none of us has ever denied that we might to assist, if we can, people in other parts of the world.
To-day we are asked to vote, roughly speaking, £500,000. How is the money to be raised if we vote against granting it? A Tory Government is in power in Northern Ireland. If we do not grant this money, the Tory Government there will riot go to their friends; the history of Toryism proves that. Where, then, will they go? They will immediately turn round and say, "We have been refused the money by 1823 the Labour people in the British Parliament," and then what will happen will be that benefits will have to be reduced. The Labour people in Northern Ireland will be faced with that position. I find myself in the same position which my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) took up when this matter was discussed on a previous occasion, and he refused to oppose it. I accepted his point of view, and took up the same position. The position which I now find is that the Northern Ireland Insurance Fund is in need; it is in debt.
It is said that we ought to charge the same rate of interest as is charged to British workers. I do not, however, want British workers to be charged with any interest at all, but why should I extend the burden to the other people? I want pensions for the moulders, but do not oppose pensions for postmen because they are not granted for the moulders. I want interest-free money for Durham, but why should I oppose interest-free money for the shipbuilders of Belfast because I cannot get it for Durham? This money ought to be granted to every part of the country on the same terms as in Northern Ireland, and I want to see it so granted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) pioneered in Scotland the proposal for interest-free money, and it was, I think, accepted by the Labour movement in Scotland. Why should I now object to its being extended to workers in Northern Ireland? It is said that the miners are starving, and that they should get money, but, if this Vote were defeated, would that give an extra penny-piece to a single miner in Britain? Does the starvation of miners mean that someone else must be starved in Northern Ireland as well? The miners do not want that. When I look at this Vote I see only one issue. It may be that the Government's reason for bringing it forward is purely one of political expediency, but it would be a bad day's work for the Labour party to be even partially associated with refusing money for purposes which in the main are benevolent and good in character. Personally, I hope that we shall not try to get power by making the woes of the workers worse. I would rather that we should get into power, not on the poverty of 1824 the people, but on the knowledge of the people and on the improvement of the condition of the masses.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
May I ask the hon. Member if I correctly understood him to say that he did not oppose the previous Vote?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I find, from the OFFICIAL REPORT of 22nd February, 1926, col. 154, that when on that occasion the Committee divided on an Amendment to the Resolution, the names of the hon. member and of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) were included among those voting in favour of the Amendment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It may be that I am wrong. If so, I am not the first to be wrong, and I will admit it frankly. On that occasion my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton stated, if I may be allowed a word of personal explanation, that we did not want to see Northern Ireland made poorer. I may have voted on that occasion, as I generally vote with unquestioning loyalty with my party, but on this occasion, having examined the problem, I certainly cannot, accept their view. If I made a mistake last time, I candidly admit it, and I hope that the next man who makes a mistake will admit it as frankly as I have.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual craft, has endeavoured to get the attention of the House, or part of the House, away from the central point we are dealing with. Unemployment in Ireland, as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury very well says, will continue permanently at a high figure. Unemployment in the linen industry, to take his example, unless something that he can hardly anticipate himself will happen in connection with the artificial silk industry, will remain at a very high figure.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
I said no such thing. I have already repeated what I said, and it is this: The restricted size of the insured population of Northern Ireland and the employment of a large part of this population in two trades, linen and shipbuilding, is, we think, a permanent feature of the situation.
§ Mr. HUDSON
What the hon. Gentleman said—the correction made very little difference—was that the situation in Ireland was such that, at any rate so far as this trade was concerned, there would be insufficient in it to meet the needs of the situation and, in order to deal with that, there is to be made permanent this extra grant. I ask myself what is happening now, and what will happen in the next few years, with these unemployed workers in the linen and shipbuilding trades who have been out of work for a year or two years or possibly more. Exactly what is happening to our own workers in this country under the unemployment legislation. When they come to an end of their stamps, they are thrown out of unemployment benefit, and in Ireland, where Poor Law relief is even worse than it is in this country—and in all conscience it is bad enough here—those workers in Belfast, in spite of what my hon. Friends have been saying, will he compelled ultimately to come over to Glasgow or to other parts of Great Britain. That is happening anyhow, and all that is being proposed is a grant of money to the capitalist Government of Northern Ireland which, by successful political pressure, has wrung this money out of a Government constituted like itself. I cannot for a moment deceive myself that any help is to come to the Irish workers from this proposal. If I had done so, and I am sure if the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had been able to think the Trish workers would gain anything out of this proposal, we could have approached the situation in a far different way. It is the landlords and capitalists of Northern Ireland particularly the landlords, to whom ultimately through the law of rent we are making this grant.
§ Mr. HUDSON
With very great respect, I think it would be well if the House of Commons, when it doles out large funds in the way it is doing, would consider a little more closely the economic fundamental of the matter. When you pay out money, pretendedly that it may go into the pockets of the workers, and you have provided no guarantee for that, the law of rent, as Ricardo explained it—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member is conscious that that argument would lead us on all occasions into every kind of sphere rather than the one before the Committee.
§ Mr. HUDSON
It woulid lead to a consideration of the question of rent, and, as I believe this question of rent is lying there all the time—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment before the Committee concerns unemployment, benefit. If the hon. Member introduces rent, other Members might introduce Protection.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I must bow to your Ruling, Sir, but you have prevented me from using, in my judgment, the most powerful argument that could be used in order to clear up a misconception in the minds of my hon. Friends from the Clyde area. At any rate, I am not deceived as to what we are to-day involved in. I go further, and say the Labour party are prepared to provide for the workers of Ireland as we insist now in providing for the workers of England. The workers of England are provided for, very defectively, by a fund, and, under the law, if that fund becomes short, what is short is to be regarded as a debt. Until we are willing by new insurance legislation to remove the debt from the shoulders of the English workers, I submit that there is no case to remove it from the shoulders of a few in order that those who are now responsible for the government of Northern Ireland may get out of financial difficulties for which they themselves are responsible.
I return to the main charge that was made by my right hon. Friend. What we are doing is making a gift to a body of men who, if they did not receive this gift, would have to provide other legislation to meet the loss of the workers in Northern Ireland for which they are responsible. They manage to deceive the workers of Northern Ireland. They keep alive the old controversies with the interested motive of saving their pockets, and they have come here to-day to save their pockets while they keep religious controversy alive and keep the workers of Ireland blind to the real situation. The reason we are acting in this way—and no one knows it better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was so 1827 crafty in putting his point—is that those hon. Members opposite who represent Northern Ireland may continue with their political dominance over that area, and what is really happening is that the workers of Ireland are being left for a longer period the prey of their political and economic methods. Let us face the real issue. If the workers are to be helped, they all ought to be helped together. We ought not to be taking these special steps in order to help this or that particular section of Government. We ought to provide, as I have often heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) claim, with the lot of the workers, and all the workers, in our minds, and if we were doing that at this moment, if we were asking for a real change in insurance legislation by which we could shift the debt from the insurance fund all round, no one would more gladly support it than we would. Indeed, we have contended for this change all along, and, because we know that this Government has insistently opposed us in that demand, we realise that they are playing a trick and are doing nothing whatever to help the workers of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I rise, in the first instance, to deal with a constitutional point with regard to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before dealing with that I desire to express regret at the way he treats the Committee on these occasions. He fires off an oration with great fervour and, though it is really a matter that primarily concerns himself, he leaves the House after a very little while and does not hear the arguments put forward on the other side.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
That is not good enough. I have heard that before and I have found out afterwards sometimes what the important business was, and it has not always been as important as we are led to suppose. It may be that on this occasion it is important but, in any case, the Government had the choice of days. They need not have put this Measure down for this day. When it is being considered it is the 1828 business of the Chancellor a the Exchequer to be here. The right hon. Gentleman said he was quite prepared to agree that the Government were bringing forward this proposal long before it was necessary in order that it might not come under the purview of my right hon. Friend, and he said he was perfectly justified in that, because he and the Ulster Members knew in advance that my right hon. Friend would net be as considerate to them as he would he. That raises a very grave constitutional issue. It is not my right hon. Friend and the Members of my party who are being flouted by this procedure. It is the democracy of this country. The Chancellor is saying in effect, "It may be that next May the democracy will decide against my party and, therefore, we are going to tie the hands of the democracy in advance. We are going to make an agreement, and get the House of Commons to accept it in perpetuity, which will prevent the democracy of the country dealing as it thinks fit with this question." I should not have supposed that the Conservative party, which professes to be a constitutional party, would have lent themselves to such a proceeding, but we know quite well that, when it really comes to the interests of the men for whom they stand, the constitution to which they profess to give their adherence, is a scrap of paper.
Leaving the constitutional issue and coming to the merits of the question, my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends behind me have dealt with this proposal and the Amendment as though we were proposing to withhold from our fellow workers in Northern Ireland money to which they are entitled. That is not our point of view at all. Our point of view is that the method the Government has selected for doing this thing is a wrong one, and for that reason we are opposing it and making a different proposal. If there was no alternative between the method the Government propose and reducing the benefits of the workers in Northern Ireland, I certainly would vote for the Government proposal, but the situation is that the Government proposal is a preposterous one. They are proposing to part in perpetuity with any control over the money of this country, to make an agreement with Northern Ireland that does not terminate this year 1829 or next year but runs on indefinitely—and when I say indefinitely I would remind the Committee that it is not subject to the usual method of this House to reverse it because it is in the form of an agreement, and it would be treated as a breach of faith to reverse it. So we are putting our hands to something which it would be very difficult for this House in future years to go back upon. What is this proposal? It is to hand over to Northern Ireland a sum of money which, at the present time is over half a million a year and may fluctuate but is likely to remain in the neighbourhood of this sum for many years to come. The proposal is to hand it over to the Ulster Parliament and to lose control of the money. I see no reason at all why we should not limit the matter in time and why we should not limit it by calling it a loan. Then, if the Ulster Parliament administer the money well and we think their needs are as great in the future, we can give them the money for a further year and so on. I absolutely refuse to be a party to handing over carte blanche money of this kind and definitely to part with all control over it.
Let me come to another aspect of this question. In this White Paper we have, in page 3, this statement:The Agreement is reciprocal and if at any time unemployment in Northern Ireland became less heavy than in Great Britain, the Exchequer of Northern Ireland would be liable to contribute to any payments made by the British Exchequer to the British Unemployment Fund to bring it into parity on the basis of insured populations.I say that that statement is so misleading as to be practically untrue. I am very sorry to see that the Government have used a White Paper which should give us information and should enable this House to be in possession of the real facts to gloss over what is really rather a disreputable transaction. Everybody knows who has studied this matter really carefully that while this agreement in form is bilateral and confers benefits on both parties to the agreement, in actual practical effect it is unilateral. The bilateral part of it is just so much dust to be thrown into the eyes of this Committee. In case anybody should venture to dispute that I will quote very briefly some of the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when 1830 the original agreement was before the House of Commons in 1926. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to get away with it at that time and I showed him then that he was entirely incorrect. The reference will be found in column 2166, in volume 192 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. It was on the 9th March, 1926. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says:I admit, quite frankly, that it is unlikely, for the sake of the small proportionate sum that is likely to be received … that we should derange our general finance by making an equalisation cash payment into the Fund.He goes on a little later on to say:Therefore, I frankly admit that it is in form more than in fact that any contribution from Northern Ireland could be expected during the four and a-half years of the life of the Agreement on this Fund."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1926; cols. 2166 and 2167, Vol. 192.]Though he adds those words "during the four and a-half years of the life of the Agreement on this Fund" the statement that he made is just as true when this extends for a long time. The fact is, of course, that our method of dealing with the Fund in this country is by loan, and as long as we go on dealing with our own Fund by loan we cannot, under this agreement, get any money whatever out of the Northern Ireland Exchequer for the purpose of financing our own fund. Therefore, I think my statement is justified. This White Paper, of course, is technically correct, but only technically correct. It gives the impression, and is intended, I venture to suggest, to convey the impression to Members of this House that the agreement is bi-lateral in effect as well as in form. It is unworthy of our White Papers not to give us an explanation of the practical effect as well as of the theoretical effect of what we are doing.
I have no intention of taking up any more time of the Committee but I would just like to restate my points. In the first place, I think that the method of hurrying on this decison long before it is necessary—admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be done in order to prevent the next Government from handling it—is unconstitutional. It offends against the principle that the democracy of this country shall be entitled to deal with the situation which it finds at the moment. In the second place I claim that it is the form of this 1831 agreement against which I in common with my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends here protest. If the money is required in order to secure the benefits of the working people of Northern Ireland, we are perfectly willing that it should be found, but we object to parting with control indefinitely of the money which we are asked to give. We think that it ought to be given year by year, and we ought to have at least as much control over it as over the money which we give towards our own requirements and the requirements of our own people. Lastly, I protest against the White Papers of the Government being used to mislead the Members of this House.
§ Mr. REID
I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, but I think that anything which I have to say can be said in a very few words. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, opened the Debate in a way which reminded me of an historical character who, I believe, attacked the obstacles which confronted him with vinegar. I think that that was his method of procedure, but we have had a more friendly form of debate since he spoke. There are one or two things which I should like to say with regard to the points which are before us. We have had before us a concrete problem. It would not be relevant, and I do not propose to take up the time of the Committee to show how it has grown up, but we have here a problem in regard to a fund which has been established in an area which is really insufficient to carry the burdens of its own Insurance Fund.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley both on the occasion of the last debate and on the present occasion has admitted that it was a mistake ever to sever that fund from the British fund. My friends from Northern Ireland would have much preferred that the funds had been re-united, but we have been told that the administrative difficulties were so great that that could not be done. Consequently, we are given this other expedient. I wish to point out that various speakers on the opposite side of the Committee have said that if the Opposition Amendment is accepted the same method will be adopted in dealing with the Northern Ireland Fund as 1832 is adopted in dealing with the fund in Great Britain. That is a fallacy; it is not so. In Great Britain, when you deal with a deficit by loan, you have the fund spread over a large number of trades. The effect of the proposal of the Opposition would be to take two trades like cotton and iron and to segregate the workers in those industries and make a loan to those trades only, and then in future to charge them with the resultant debit that would be looked upon as unreasonable and impossible, but it is the equivalent of the proposal of the Opposition with regard to Northern Ireland. They assert that it would be parity of treatment; but it would not be parity of treatment. It is true that the Ulster Fund is treated in an entirely different way from the English Fund.
§ Mr. REID
Those are the two staple trades. There is one other point with which I wish to deal. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that if this money is not provided one of two things must happen, either the Parliament of Northern Ireland must levy a heavy tax on their people or reduce the benefits. When they talk of the Government of Northern Ireland levying heavy taxation they seem to forget the scheme of finance provided under the Government of Ireland Act which set up the Government of Northern Ireland. All the productive taxes are reserved for this House of Commons. The Government of Northern Ireland cannot levy Income Tax, or Super-tax, or Excise or Customs Duties. They can levy Death Duties, but, as a matter of fact, the Death Duties payable on estates situate in England of persons who die domiciled in Northern Ireland go to the British Government. To talk of the Parliament of Northern Ireland levying taxation is simply futile. It shows a complete ignorance of the finances of the whole scheme under the Act. Under the Act, taxes are levied by this House. Certain proportions are paid back to Northern Ireland, but the Government of Northern Ireland, have not, within their own hands the power of levying taxes. I do not think that the proposal of the Government has been met by hon. Gentlemen opposite in the 1833 friendly way in which it might have been met, but I have no wish to enter into the controversy or to raise any controversial point. I have only tried to point out, first of all, that the reason why the Government of Northern Ireland cannot impose taxation, as has been proposed, is due to the Government of Ireland Act. The other point I want to emphasise is that the Amendment which has been moved by the Opposition does not introduce parity of treatment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I stand by my right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) in this matter. I should like, in the first place, to emphasis the statement made by the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) that the House feels aggrieved that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here. It is a disgrace that on an important matter like this the Chancellor of the Exchequer should absent himself, particularly in view of what happened in regard to Ireland last week. Immediately he had made his speech, he left the House. Why did he leave the House to-day, seeing that he did not leave it last week? It is because this question deals with the working classes. A quarter of a million of workers in Northern Ireland are involved and, of course, that does not matter. He has served his political ends. He has paid the price, or he thinks he has, and now he leaves the field.
I want to make my position perfectly clear. I represent a working class constituency which is very much identified with the workers in Northern Ireland. The workers in Northern Ireland have a good deal to do with the part of the country which I represent. Both Orangemen and Roman Catholics are involved. One would think, from the speeches we hear, that only Orangemen are involved. The Roman Catholics and the Orangemen who are concerned in this Vote are members of the working class. It matters not what their religion may be, I stand by the working class. I would stand by them if they were Hottentots, as long as they were of the working class. The hon. Member for West Leicester said that there must be no money given until we get control of Northern Ireland. We cannot get control. It would be neces- 1834 sary to change the Treaty before we could get control. The Treaty is responsible for the present position. We cannot get control until we alter the Treaty, and that would mean that my class in Northern Ireland would have to starve until we got control.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My hon. Friend has misunderstood what I said. I did not demand control of Northern Ireland. I suggested that we should pay out this money a year at a time so that we could keep control of the money, and that we should not lose control by making an agreement in perpetuity.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I have not misunderstood my hon. Friend and comrade. We cannot do what he suggests. I am glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has now arrived. I thank him for coming, in response to my request. The hon. Member for West Leicester said that he wanted to keep control from year to year. That may be, but it is the Treaty that is responsible for the position which confronts us to-day, and we do not want to put back the hands of the clock and have trouble in Ireland such as we had in the past. We want to keep things moving as smoothly as possible, and it is to our advantage as members of the Labour party that we should look after our class in Northern Ireland. I am satisfied as a member of the Independent Labour party, as a member of the national executive committee of the Independent Labour party for 10 years, and as one in constant contact with the Labour movement in Ireland, that the Labour movement in Ireland would not stand for what the Labour party is doing here to-day. That is one of the reasons why I support the right hon. Member for Shettleston. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. J. Hudson) said that there must be no assistance to workers in sections.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
That was not what I said. What I claimed was that we ought to put forward a demand, that all the workers should be dealt with; that every worker, both here and in Ireland, would get a better chance through the withdrawal of the debt on the Fund, and that the workers should get the benefit.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
That is the same thing. When my hon. Friend reads the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will see that he was not in favour of the workers in sections getting assistance. That means that I, as an engineer, must not assist Joe Batey, the miner. It means that the industries that are prosperous at the moment have not to assist industries that are not prosperous. I am opposed to interest. I have always been opposed to interest. I am opposed to the interest that is being paid on the £34,000,000 debt on the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Not only am I opposed to interest being paid on that debt, hut I would abolish the debt. The very idea of paying interest at 5 per cent. on the Unemployment Fund debt is a crime, in my opinion. I would say in respect of the Unemployment Fund: "Here is a debt of £34,000,000. We will forgive it." This country and the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to forgive it. Why cannot the Chancellor of the Exchequer take his courage in both hands? He poses as being a brave and courageous man, and I believe he is a courageous man in a way. Here is an opportunity to say in respect of the Unemployment Fund: "We will cancel the debt." There is no reason why we should say that until the debt is removed we are going to starve the workers in Belfast. That is what it means.
What do we find in Northern Ireland? I know Northern Ireland fairly well. The whole of Northern Ireland, and not merely a part of it, is a stricken area at the moment. Poverty is rampant. There is no part of it that can go on tap in order to assist another part. Reference has been made to the Clyde area, but the Clyde area, with all its poverty, Scotland, with all its poverty, is not to be compared with Northern Ireland, because in Scotland we have various industries that are doing fairly well, There are different sources that we can tap. What sources can they tap in Northern Ireland? [HON. MEMBERS: "The landlords."] Absolutely nothing. The landlords can do nothing if the workers are not working. If the workers are not working, there is nothing in the country. It is the workers who produce everything, and not the landlords. In Northern Ireland the shipbuilding industry is in wrack and ruin. The 1836 textile industry is stricken. These are the two main industries of Northern Ireland, upon which it has to depend. They cannot tap Birmingham or London for assistance. There is no Birmingham, no London, no Liverpool in Northern Ireland that can be tapped. There is no place to which they can go for assistance in that country. The whole of the Northern Province of Ireland is destitute.
Are we to go into the Lobby to oppose what I believe is a just claim? Because it may be said that the Government are doing it for political kudos, are we to fall into the trap and oppose a measure for the amelioration of the poverty that exists in Northern Ireland if we did, who would suffer most? It would be the working classes. Who is in power in Northern Ireland? Not the workers, but the Tories, the same type of men who hold control in this House. What do the Tories do here? What do the Churchills, the Baldwins and the rest of them do, with all their sanctimonious pretence and hypocrisy? They cut down the workers on every occasion where there is anything to be cut down. Where economies have to be effected, they are effected, in every case at the expense of the working class. That would happen in the case of Northern Ireland if we opposed this Vote. There are engineers and shipbuilders in Northern Ireland who would suffer most, as a result. I am going to stand for them, and I will not go into the Lobby to oppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this occasion.
§ Mr. BATEY
I am sorry to differ from my hon. Friends on these benches, and I hope the House will not think that there is a split in our party. I hold very strong views on this Northern Ireland agreement. It raises three issues: (1) the permanent half-yearly grant of £500,000, which may increase to £1,000,000 a year, (2) the yearly payment of the excess debt that was in existence at the time of the 1926 agreement, and (3) the indecent hurry of the Government in making this new agreement, although the present agreement does not end until 1930. The Labour party never took up a position which I more heartily support than they have done upon this question. My three colleagues have missed the point. What we suggest in the Amendment is that instead of paying a half- 1837 yearly grant which may reach the huge figure of £1,000,000 a year, the Treasury should be put in the position of lending money to the Northern Ireland Unemployment Fund, just as they lend money to the English Unemployment Fund.
I fail to understand why my hon. Friends should want Northern Ireland to be put into a different position from the English, the Scottish or the Welsh people. If loans are sufficient for the English fund, then surely they cannot be wrong for the Irish fund. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) said that the working classes would suffer under our Amendment. How could the working classes suffer if the Amendment were carried and the Treasury lent money to the Unemployment Fund in Northern Ireland? The working classes could not suffer. They would receive benefit just as the working classes in this country, in Scotland and Wales, receive benefit, because the Treasury lends money to keep the Unemployment Fund good. Why is the Northern Ireland Unemployment Fund in this position? I submit that it is because the Treasury in Northern Ireland has followed the bad example of the Treasury in this country. The Unemployment Fund in Northern Ireland is carried out on the same lines as the Unemployment Fund in England; the contributions have to be the same and the benefits have to be the same. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer passed the Economy Act he reduced the Treasury contribution to the English Unemployment Fund, and the Treasury in Northern Ireland followed suit. They reduced the Treasury contribution from 6¾d. per person employed per week to 6d. If the Treasury of Northern Ireland would go back to the old scale of contribution they would not have to come to this country for this money.
The Treasury in England have saved £14,500,000 by the reduction in the Treasury contribution since that Act was passed and I suggest that the remedy is to go back to the old scale of contribution. It is not necessary to reduce unemployment benefit in Northern Ireland. It is not necessary to raise money from the rich people in Northern Ireland. All that is necessary is that the Treasury in Northern Ireland should pay on the basis of 1926. I believe the 1838 Financial Secretary to the Treasury would tell us that the reduction in the Treasury contribution from 6¾d. to 6d., amounts to about the same sum that we have been paying to Northern Ireland. For 1928, the Government's contribution to Northern Ireland is £550,000, which is just about the same amount the Treasury of Northern Ireland has saved by the reduction from 6¾d. to 6d. When the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) was speaking, I interjected an observation that charity should begin at home. We are not in the position to hand out money to Northern Ireland. If we have any money to spare we should think of our people at home. We have to face the 19th April next, when there is a possibility of thousands upon thousands of men in this country being cut off the Unemployment Fund simply in order to save money to the Treasury. Instead of the Treasury handing out money to Northern Ireland they should, if they had any to spare, spend it at home rather than elsewhere.
I take strong objection to the proposed new agreement, especially in regard to the proposal in connection with the yearly payment and the wiping out of the debt in Northern Ireland. When the original agreement was made in 1926, there was a debt of £8,000,000 on the Unemployment Fund in this country and a debt of £3,000,000 on the Unemployment Fund in Northern Ireland. It is now proposed that all that is to be debited against the Northern Ireland fund is £191,000, and all the remainder of the £3,000,000 to be cleared off as between this country and Northern Ireland. I contend that Northern Ireland is asking far too much, especially when we in this country have to face a debt of £34,000,000 on the Unemployment Fund. The Government seem to show an indecent anxiety to make this new agreement; the old agreement does not finish until 1930. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made no bones about it, but in a rather cool way said that they proposed to make this agreement now because they were afraid of what a Labour Government might do if they came into power. If that is the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government we are justified in saying that they are in an indecent hurry to make this new agreement in order that they may help their friends in Ireland before they 1839 leave office. What we complain about, not only in regard to this country, but in regard to the loyalists in Southern Ireland and the people in Northern Ireland, is that they are doing all they can to see that their friends are helped out of the public purse of this country before they leave office.
I have as much sympathy with the working men in Ireland as with the working men in Durham. I would help them just as much, but I do not believe that this affects the working men in Northern Ireland in the slightest. If it were not for the fact that we have none but Conservative Members in this House from Northern Ireland, we should not he discussing this proposal. And hon. Members from Northern Ireland cannot ask the Labour party to support them. The Unemployment Fund in this country is worse to-day because of the votes they have given in this House. They voted for the miners eight hours day, which had added no less than 100,000 men to the Unemployment Fund. They should not ask for any sympathy or help from us. They do not, as a matter of fact, they look to their own friends in this country, and they are not disappointed. The present Government are determined that before they go out of office they will shovel as much of the public money as they can into the pockets of their friends.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN
It seems to me that this question has been debated by hon. Members on the Labour benches from two points of view, and as they were not agreed amongst themselves it was interesting to listen to the various arguments put forward. A great deal of ignorance exists on this subject. Many of the arguments which have been adduced by hon. Members opposite are based on ignorance. One point which the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) emphasised strongly was this: Why did the Government of Northern Ireland follow the example of the Treasury in this country and reduce the Treasury grant? The logical conclusion of such an argument is that the Treasury of Northern Ireland should have complete control of its own finances and taxation, and in that case should be able to give an increased grant. As we have not a Treasury or separate taxation in 1840 Northern Ireland that is quite impossible. You have all the taxation in this country; you collect all the taxes.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
Many blunders were committed at the time the Treaty was entered into, and I am afraid that Northern Ireland cannot be blamed. However, I do not think I should be in order in going into that aspect of the question. The difficulty has been explained over and over again, but I want to impress upon the Committee the position of the industries on which the working classes in Northern Ireland are dependent. Take my own town, with its 12,000 inhabitants, where I suppose the linen industry had its origin. There is no other business in that town; and the calamity that has overtaken the linen industry is a matter of history. I do not think hon. Members quite realise what happens in a town like that when all the factories, which are linen factories, close down, and when all the merchants—and they are all linen merchants—close down. It is impossible for the contributions in that particular town any longer to support the Unemployment Fund. Take similar other towns like Portadown, Bainbridge and Ballymena, which are entirely dependent upon the linen industry. All the towns in Northern Ireland, with the exception of Belfast and Londonderry, are most seriously affected when the linen industry fails. We have had a most calamitous time in that industry. There are some successful concerns in Northern Ireland, but they have been successful because they have had the banks behind them. I want hon. Members to bear in mind the serious position which exists in Northern Ireland because of the faith re of the two main industries.
I am very sorry that the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) should have made use of words which I am sure, when he thinks them over, he will regret. Certainly I did not expect to hear those views in this Debate. We are trying to get away in Ireland, both North and South, from the old feeling. It was with great regret that I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that the loyalty of the loyalists of Ireland is measured by the amount of money that they receive. 1841 That statement was largely cheered by his fellow members. The right hon. Gentleman must have a very short memory. I would ask him what money the loyalists received, apart from any other part of Ireland, or apart from any other part of the United Kingdom, before the Treaty? Is the loyalty of the loyalists of Ireland only a modern thing? Has it existed only since the Treaty was granted and since the Northern Ireland Government was placed in authority? Is it a thing only of the last few years? The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, if he knows the history of the loyalists of Ireland, that their loyalty goes back longer than a few years. He ought to know perfectly well that his argument is a fallacious one.
I would be out of order if I gave it a stronger name, but I think it was most undignified on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, who occupies the position that he does on the Front Opposition Bench, to descend to such a statement. Personally I regret it very much, and I doubt whether his statement represents the opinion of the majority of his own followers. It would almost seem as if the Government of Northern Ireland was putting this money into its own pocket, instead of trying to assist the Government here and to assist the working classes there over this problem of unemployment. I cannot imagine that the Labour party in this House will persist in opposition to this proposal. After all, their great boast is that they want to help the unemployed working man. This is a determined effort on the part of the Government to assist the unemployed. Northern Ireland is a small unit, dependent on a few industries. I have the greatest hope that when it comes to a Division the party opposite will reconsider their position and allow this proposal to go through. I know that from the working man's standpoint in Northern Ireland, the Amendment will be considered as a very serious blow from those who are supposed to represent Labour in this House. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to pass the Resolution with unanimity. Other expressions have been made use of with regard to the Government that is in power in Northern Ireland—what hon. Members have called the Tory Government. May I ask hon. Members who use that expression who it was that placed that 1842 Government in power? Surely it was the working men of Northern Ireland?
§ Sir W. ALLEN
Surely we have a majority of working men and women in Northern Ireland who are quite capable of choosing for themselves what Government they will have? It is not a slur on the Government, but a slur on the choice of the people belonging to the working classes, to refer in this way to the Government of Northern Ireland. I am hoping that before the Debate closes the Leader of the Opposition will realise the responsibility of not looking upon this thing in a small and political sense, but from the broader point of view which he is quite capable of taking in conditions such as these. I hope that he will get rid of all the party idea and think only of the interests of the working classes. I can assure him that the working classes in Northern Ireland are looking to him and to his party for support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in carrying this Resolution. I am satisfied that the Northern Ireland Parliament has exercised the greatest economy and care in the administration of this and other schemes that have been entrusted to them. There is no finer set of men in charge of Government Departments and the distribution of funds than those that are to be found in Northern Ireland. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to assist them and to assist the working classes by passing this Resolution, for then they will be doing one of the best things in their lives.
§ Miss WILKINSON
One of the advantages of a Debate such as this is that it allows us to see the Members for Northern Ireland. When those Members do appear they always make such sound Home Rule speeches. It is always interesting to hear how much they desire to have their country all to themselves and to have their own Government—all the things that we told them they should have before 1914. But I would like, first of all, to call attention to the actual terms of the Labour party's Amendment, which both a large number of my friends behind me and the speakers opposite have forgotten. The Amendment is simply to insert the wordsSubject to the modification that provision be made for the repayment of any sums paid.1843 Anyone who had heard this Debate would assume that we were moving a negative, that we were saying that this sum should not be paid to Ireland. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer had finished quoting Karl Marx and waving the Red Flag generally he roused the blood of my Clydeside colleagues behind me. The fact is that all that the Labour party suggest by the Amendment is that provision be made for the repayment of any sum lent. The Amendment does not even state that repayment shall be made within a certain time. We are not suggesting any onerous terms.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
We are not tax collectors in Northern Ireland. The taxation is all collected from this country.
§ Miss WILKINSON
It is a question of having a separate fund. When we make arrangements for Treasury loans to the unemployment fund in this country provision is made for the workers and the employers to repay the loans. Northern Ireland has its own fund, and there is no reason why it should have a different set of provisions from those applicable to workers and employers in this country. We have had the Minister of Labour saying in this House frequently that the high rates of contributions in this country had to be charged both to workmen and employers in order to make provision for the repayment of Treasury loans. Therefore, we have every justification for saying that by this Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer more favourable terms are being given to Northern Ireland than are given to employers and workers in this country. It is being done because the situation in Northern Ireland is this Government's creating, and this Government is paying money to its friends in Northern Ireland for political purposes.
Let me again make the position clear. We are not objecting, and never have objected, to a Treasury loan for keeping the Insurance Fund solvent. What we are saying is that the same provisions should he made for Northern Ireland as are made for this country. We are faced with an undesirable position which is this Government's own making. Here you have an artificially created small unit in Northern Ireland. Everyone knows that it is impossible to maintain it. Then why is it maintained? Because of 1844 the pride of the party opposite, who will not admit their failure, and the failure of all their speeches at the time. They are maintaining this impossible small unit because of their friends in Ulster and because of the things that they said at the time. Then we have the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling us how economical they have been. Anyone who talks about the economy of the Government of Northern Ireland is positively laughable. They are maintaining out of an area not much larger than an English county and one big town—Belfast—an expensive corporation and an expensive national Government. The Government there is not a Government and a Parliament; it is merely a telephone exchange.
§ Miss WILKINSON
Because of the attitude that the party opposite took up, because the party opposite created an impossible situation. No one can say that anyone on these benches wanted a divided Ireland. The party opposite created the situation by the impossible speeches that were made—the speeches of the present Home Secretary when he was not quite as moderate as he tries to be in these days. When the party opposite are faced with the working out of the inevitable, then they come along and talk about this little country and the economies. A large sum of money is being spent in Belfast to make a Parliament House for a Parliament which is, as I say, merely a telephone exchange which receives orders from this country and carries them out. [Interruption.] Hon. Members know that as things are it is the laws which are made in this country which have to be carried out. They are merely transmitted to Northern Ireland and you are allowed to play about with them, and you call that government.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dennis Herbert)
I am afraid it is quite obvious from the interruptions with which the hon. Member is meeting that she is transgressing beyond the matter which is before the Committee.
§ Miss WILKINSON
I have no desire to be out of order, but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will come here and quote Karl Marx, it is difficult to avoid going into all these matters. Coming back to the question of repayment, how- 1845 ever, we feel a little bitterly about this matter. When it is a question of giving money on loan to British workers, however poor they are and however desperate their situation, the Minister of Health demands that those sums must be repayable. In my own constituency there are thousands of workers who have been unemployed for more than five years and every article of furniture in their homes is ticketed for repayment of money on loan. But when it is a matter of giving loans, not to desperately poor people, or people in desperate straits, when it is a matter of giving loans to their own friends in Northern Ireland, then no question of repayment arises—not even a question of control. We even have the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealing with the question of control so as to make sure that this shall be an armour-plated guarantee to the Government's friends in Northern Ireland.
We appreciate the testimonial which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given to this party. We appreciate his fears. He is one of the most far-sighted of the occupants of the Front Bench opposite and we are glad to note that, having made a careful reading of the political situation, he recognises that the present Leader of the Opposition will be sitting on the Front Bench opposite after June next. But in making statements such as he has made this evening, all that the right hon. Gentleman does is to expose the political nature of this deal. We have not introduced politics into this matter. We make it perfectly clear by our Amendment that it is not to the payment of this money to the Insurance Fund that we object. We are far more anxious than the Chancellor of the Exchequer—when he has finished making speeches with his tongue in his cheek—about the condition of the workers of Northern Ireland. We are far more anxious about the workers than the right hon. Gentleman is ever likely to be. Does he imagine that the engineers of Northern Ireland are not going to see through a pretence of that kind?
We know the short shrift which the workers are likely to get from the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. We saw that only too well in the Insurance Act already passed. But it is not our intention to prevent this loan being made to Northern Ireland. Hon. Members are 1846 merely sending out a smoke screen to conceal the real situation, if they say that we object to this payment being made to the workers of Northern Ireland. I am sorry that my hon. Friends from the Clyde, with all their bitter experience, have been led away by statements that we object to this payment to the workers. On the contrary, all we are saying is that this matter should be put on the same level in Northern Ireland as in Great Britain, and, just as the British loans have to be repaid, so a loan to the Northern Ireland Fund ought to be repaid. In these financial matters, as the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, the way out is not to make a gift of this political kind to the Government of Northern Ireland. The way out is to have a re-examination of the whole position.
§ Mr. KELLY
It is interesting to hear the representatives from Northern Ire land expressing themselves as they have done this evening. One would imagine that they had given great attention to the condition of the unemployed workers there and had taken a great interest in those workers. But their appeal to us that we should not oppose this Motion, is one which might well have been made to their own friends, at other times when the workers of Northern Ireland required some consideration. To suggest that this loan is going to deal with the problem of poverty and unemployment in Northern Ireland is absurd. It is not only a question of the shipbuilding, and the linen trade, because it is misleading this Committee to say that there are but the shipbuilding and linen trades operating in Northern Ireland.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
We made no such statement. There are other small industries. Those are the principal industries.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
I said that one-third of the insured population was confined to the two trades of linen and shipbuilding. I understood the hon. Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen) to say that it was one-half.
§ Mr. KELLY
We are told that there are 252,000 insured people in Northern Ireland. Is it suggested that half of that number are in the shipbuilding and linen trade? If so, I think hon. Members had 1847 better get up their figures again. Those of us who are concerned directly with those trades in Northern Ireland are not prepared to accept such figures, and the statement made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is much nearer the mark, if it also is not an over-statement of the facts. But the desire to have this fund augmented by a loan from this country, comes very strangely from the Members for Northern Ireland. They say they have no money to put into the Unemployment Insurance Fund of Northern Ireland. That sounds very strange coming from people who, a short time ago, did something which even this Parliament refused to do for the employers of this country, when they financed, to the extent of 50 per cent., an inquiry under the safeguarding procedure. They could find money for that purpose, but they cannot find money to help in relieving unemployment in Northern Ireland.
The Amendment, as has been pointed out by the last speaker, is not a refusal of the loan. It is not a refusal to help our fellows in Northern Ireland. Time and time again hon. Members opposite have rubbed it into us that this is an
§ insurance scheme and not a scheme for assisting the unemployed. If hon. Members opposite think it is an insurance scheme, surely they are prepared to deal with it on those lines and will not object to the Amendment. They would not object to the Amendment if they really believed what they have stated in the House of Commons and the country, over and over again, about this being purely an insurance scheme. I do not believe, and never have believed, in a contributory insurance scheme. But here are people who talk about easing the burdens on industry and who are prepared to impose this particular burden on industry in this particular case. I hope the Committee and the country will appreciate the statements made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite on this point and will recognise that they are simply out to get hold of this money and are not so much concerned about unemployment. They talk about insurance schemes at one stage, but when it does not suit their purpose to do so they go off on another tack altogether.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided Ayes, 110: Noes, 215.1849
|Division No. 237.]||AYES.||[6.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Oliver, George Harold|
|Ammon, Charles George||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Owen, Major G.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Grundy, T. W.||Palin, John Henry|
|Barnes, A.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barr, J.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hardie, George D.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Bellamy, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Potts, John S.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Hayday, Arthur||Purcell, A. A.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Ritson, J.|
|Briant, Frank||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Scurr, John|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sexton, James|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Shield, G. W.|
|Clarke, A. B.||Lansbury, George||Shinwell, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawrence, Susan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lee, F.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Livingstone, A. M.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Dalton, Ruth (Bishop Auckland)||Longbottom, A. W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lowth, T.||Snell, Harry|
|Day, Harry||Lunn, William||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Dennison, R||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R. (Aberavon)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Strauss, E. A.|
|England, Colonel A.||MacLaren, Andrew||Sutton, J. E.|
|Forrest, W.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Gardner, J. P.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murnin, H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Windsor, Walter||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Ainsworth, Lieut-Col. Charles||Gates, Percy||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Centr'l)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Greaves-Lord, sir Walter||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Oakley, T.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Atkinson, C.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hamilton, Sir George||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Balniel, Lord||Hammersley, S. S.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Harland, A.||Peto, G, (Somerset, Frome)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hartington, Marquess of||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bethel, A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Preston, William|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Haslam, Henry C.||Pringle, J. A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Radford, E. A.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Henderson, Lieut.-Cot. Sir Vivian||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ramsden, E.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cilve||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hilton, Cecil||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Remer, J. R.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Ropner, Major L.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Ross, R. D.|
|Buchan, John||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Sandon, Lord|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hurd, Percy A.||Bassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Savery, S. S.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew,W.)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Iveagh, Countess of||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ.,Belfst.)|
|Christie, J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Skelton, A. N.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Loder, J. de V.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Looker, Herbert William||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Lougher, Lewis||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Couper, J. B.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lumley, L. R.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cothcart)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||MacIntyre, Ian||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||McLean, Major A.||Ward, Lt. Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Macquisten, F. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Ellis, R. G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wells, S. R.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mellar, R. J.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Captain Margesson and Captain Bowyer.|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, in line 1, after the word "That," to insert the words: 1850subject to a provision limiting its operation to the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one.1851 When the original Debate took place in 1926, we moved from this side of the Committee that the operation of the agreement should be limited. The agreement entered into in 1925–26 was to expire in March, 1930. That would have given a period of operation of the agreement of about 4½ years. When that agreement was under discussion, we took the view that it was very unwise that Parliament should give away complete control of its money in such a way for the whole period, and that we ought to have an opportunity from year to year to revise the position. To-night we are faced with a much wider proposition from the Government. We are asked to consent to the making permanent of the terms of the agreement of 1925–26. As was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Coke Valley (Mr. Snowden) that will involve at any rate the continuance of the contributions from this country to the Ulster Unemployment Insurance Fund for 30 years.
When you consider the conditions in which this extended bargain, if I may use the term, was made, I think it is all the more important that the House of Commons should be very jealous of its own position and should limit the operation of the agreement very strictly. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking in this Debate this afternoon, admitted that the main reason for entering into this new extended agreement was that they were afraid of what the attitude might be if the Government lost their political power at the next election. Therefore, admittedly, you have a bargain being made more or less behind the backs of the electors. You had an agreement which was to operate from the end of 1925 to March, 1930. There would have been ample opportunity for the whole matter to be debated, and negotiated with the Ulster authorities, and for whatever arrangements which were necessary to be made before March, 1930. Yet we have a bargain which at last savours of some political corruption entered into before the General Election takes place in order that the political friends of the Government may be made, from their own point of view, perfectly safe. We have had no answer to-day. I should like to know from the Ulster Members whether they support the point of view put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1852 that the Ulster authorities have entered into the bargain with the Chancellor of the Exchequer because they are afraid of what the verdict of the electorate in Great Britain and Northern Ireland may be next June.
§ Mr. REID
May I point out that the Ulster authorities entered into this arrangement as being the persons responsible for the conduct of the Insurance Fund. It is obvious that no one can run an insurance fund on grants from year to year. It cannot be done. It is obvious that there are sound business reasons for entering into this agreement now before the other expires. It is quite ridiculous to suggest that there is any political arriere pensee about this thing. I can speak for myself, for I am here interested in my own constituents, and nobody else, and there is no thought of what is going to happen at the election.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Obviously, the Ulster authorities claim, according to the hon. Member, that they come into the bargain with very clean hands. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is much more frank than that. He said: "We dare not trust a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer if by any chance this General Election puts him into office." I think it is important that we should have an Amendment which will limit the operation of the agreement to 31st March, 1931, and I will tell you why. The hon. Member says it is useless for us to go on having doles from year to year. He knows that the Ulster Government have had considerable doles with regard to unemployment in the last five or six years. There was a grant for the Special Constabulary, but it was used to bolster up the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
The provision was quite clear both in 1925 and 1926, and if the hon. Member looks up the debates in those years he will see that we never had a very satisfactory answer. Certainly they had very considerable doles in that direction. All that we are asking now is that you should put matters upon a permanent basis, but that that permanent basis should be of exactly the same kind of footing as in the case 1853 of the Unemployment Insurance Fund for Great Britain. Instead of that, you are asking us to stabilise a form of contributions to unemployment insurance in Northern Ireland for 30 years which we are not permitted to get from the Treasury for our own Unemployment Insurance Fund. We say, therefore, while we do not want to go over the whole ground of debate on the previous Amendment, that, seeing that we are to have a General Election, and in view of the necessity for this House of Commons having a much closer control over its grants than that, we ought to limit the operation of the agreement to March, 1931. In the meantime, the electorate will express its view, and we shall have an opportunity for revising the position and bringing the whole thing into proper relationship with the general relief of unemployment.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I do not intend to keep the Committee very long on this matter. The line we take is this. I must by the way remind the hon. Gentleman opposite that a part of this agreement, as stated in the White Paper, is that the Northern Ireland Government shall extinguish the excess debt of £3,424,000 of the Unemployment Fund. We thus get the Government of Northern Ireland to deal with this debt and it is part of the present arrangement for the 1926 agreement to be permanent; they on their part will gradually extinguish this debt of the Fund. I do not think I could say anything beyond what I said originally in my opening speech that could make the Government's attitude clearer. I cannot therefore say more than this, that we regard as the dominating factor in this whole problem of unemployment in Northern Ireland the fact that the size of the insured population is very restricted and employment is mainly in two trades, to the extent of one-third of the whole of the insured employment. Subject to the reservation that the unforeseen may happen, we think that that dominating feature will be a permanent feature and that it is futile for us to imagine that we can deal with what we fear will be the permanent feature of the situation by a temporary measure. I cannot express myself more clearly.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN
Which is the permanent feature, the small size of the insured population or the high rate of unemployment?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The restricted area of the insured population. The basic principle of insurance, as one knows, whether it be fire, life, accident, or unemployment insurance, is to spread risks over a very large area so as to make favourable sections counterbalance unfavourable sections.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that in this country the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Labour have a very easy way of settling that? They wipe the people off the insurance roll altogether as not being insurable propositions.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
That is a different point and one into which I cannot enter now. The object of our proposal now is to put the Northern Ireland Fund into precisely the same position as—no better and no worse than—the British position. I cannot, therefore, accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
I cannot understand the hon. Member's position. He says he does not want to make the North of Ireland any better or any worse than England. Some of us have had a very extensive connection with working men who have to receive unemployment benefit, and one of the things that our people in the country greatly resent is the special treatment that is being meted out to the North of Ireland in this connection. Hon. Members opposite cannot get away from the fact that in the North of Ireland they get their debt completely cleared, without owing the Government anything.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I want to make that position clear, so that hon. Members opposite may not be under any misapprehension. The Northern Ireland Fund is only to be relieved of debts proportionately larger than the British Fund debt. There is no intention of putting the Northern Ireland Fund in a better position than the British Fund. Any assumption to the contrary is quite a mistake on the part of hon. Members opposite.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It is quite clear that this is beyond the scope of the 1855 Amendment before the Committee. The discussion must be confined strictly to the question whether there should be a limit to the operation of this scheme.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
Surely I am entitled to show arguments on the policy that the hon. Member opposite has put up to us and to show that we should not go beyond the 31st March, 1931.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Quite so, but I think the hon. Member will not misunderstand what I said. He must confine his remarks to the question whether or not this Resolution should be subject to a provision limiting its operation to the 31st March, 1931, and he cannot deal with the general question of the method of treating unemployment.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
According to your ruling, Sir, all that I can do is to repeat, or perhaps make a poem out of, the words:subject to the modification that provision be made for the repayment of any sums paid.It appears to me that the only argument I can use is to reiterate those words until the Committee weary of them.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
Well, I meant the following Amendment. I have listened to practically the whole of this Debate, and I am under no misconception as to which is the Amendment before the Committee. The Deputy-Chairman objects to my using any argument except as to why the matter should be limited to the year 1931. If I cannot produce arguments as to the manner in which the Fund is being used and as to the difference in treatment between the North of Ireland Fund and the British Fund, it appears to me that there is nothing to be done but formally to support the Amendment. I am trying to show that there is a difference of treatment. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury said he did not want the North of Ireland Fund to be better or worse than the British Fund, and I am trying to show that he does want the North of Ireland Fund to be better. In trying to explain that, I have to refer to the history of things that have been done to ease the North of Ireland Fund.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the hon. Member should have 1856 made his speech before this Amendment was moved.
§ Mr. KELLY
The Amendment at least gives this House an opportunity of deciding, in 1931, as to what shall operate after that time. It appears from the statements of hon. and right hon. Members opposite that we are going to continue in this country with the stupid method of unemployment insurance which now operates. If that is the best that this country can find, it shows a want of realisation of the problem that confronts us. I submit that we ought not to tie up a future House of Commons by stating that this grant must continue beyond the date mentioned in our Amendment. Even the claims made by the North of Ireland representatives would be well met if that date were inserted, and I hope they are not going to burden this country with these grants for all those 30 years that have been mentioned so often during this discussion. We were told by one of the Members from Belfast that they cannot go on from year to year with doles. It shows the mind of the North of Ireland representatives when they refer to an employment insurance as doles, but we are not asking that we should go on from year to year with these grants to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. We are asking that, subject to the insertion of the date mentioned in our Amendment, the matter should go forward in this way, and I think we are justified in moving the Amendment.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in opening the discussion to-day, told us that despite the awful picture which he drew of the industry of Belfast at the moment, and of how had it would be in the future, there was a prospect that more than the present factory that is engaged on the manufacture of artificial silk in Belfast may be established. Yet, despite the fact that there may be prosperous industries in Belfast, that the shipbuilding trade of Harland and Wolff and of Workman, Clark and Co may again be prosperous, we are asked to agree to this grant continuing, even though Belfast industrially may be prosperous enough not to require a grant from this country. In fairness, justice, and decency to this country, I ask that the Amendment should be accepted, so that there may be some chance of reconsidering the whole position.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I hope that no one will accuse me of lack of consideration for hon. Members, but we have had a very interesting Debate, and I should like to make a personal appeal to them to allow us to get this Motion now.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
The arguments put forward from the other side, particularly from hon. Members representing Ulster, simply amount to this when they are boiled down, that Ulster is a distressed area, that she is in such a position that she has, in her one big town, a great number of unemployed and a great amount of poverty, and that, owing to the narrow geographical limits of Ulster, it is impossible to run the business of State insurance there successfully. I submit that there is a perfect analogy in regard to the question of the administration of the Poor Law in distressed areas in this country. You get a distressed area in South Wales or the North of England—
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
With all due respect, may I submit that I am using merely an analogy in order to put point
§ to my argument? The time does not give me the opportunity of making the point I wished to make, but I submit, in the interests of Debate in this House, that the fair use of analogy is perfectly legitimate and is not out of order.
§ Mr. W. BENNETT
I am certain that there is not a single Member on this side who wishes to support, in any shape or form, a proposal that would jeopardise the unemployment benefit of any person, either in Northern Ireland or anywhere else, and I resent very much the suggestions that have been made that the opposition, in moving this Amendment, wish to do that. What we do object to is this proposal to acquire merit for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the other side at the expense of future Chancellors of the Exchequer belonging perhaps to the Labour party.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Commander Eyres Monsell) rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 216; Noes, 118.1859
|Division No. 238.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Forrest, W.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Chapman, Sir S.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Gates, Percy|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Christie, J. A.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Clarry, Reginald George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Apsley, Lora||Clayton, G. C.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Ashley, Lt. Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Atkinson, C.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Balniel, Lord||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cope, Major Sir William||Hamilton, Sir George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Couper, J. B.||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Harland, A.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Berry, Sir George||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Bethel, A.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)||Henderson,Capt.R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Ellis, R. G.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||England, Colonel A.||Hilton, Cecil|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Fielden, E. B.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Sanders, Sir Robert A|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sandon, Lord|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Savery, S. S.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew,W.)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Newman. Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'd.)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Nuttall, Ellis||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Oakley, T.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Loder, J. de V.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Looker, Herbert William||Perring, Sir William George||Templeton, W. P.|
|Lougher, Lewis||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Power, Sir John Cecil||Ward, Lt. Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Preston, William||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|McLean, Major A.||Pringle, J. A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Radford, E. A.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Raine, Sir Walter||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Ramsden, E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Meller, R. J.||Ropner, Major L.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Ross, R. D.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Major The Marquess of Titchfield|
|and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Potts, John S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Ritson, J.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Bellamy, A.||Hollins, A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Scurr, John|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sexton, James|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bowerman, Ht. Hon. Charles W.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shield, G. W.|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shinwell, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bromfield, William||Kelly, W. T.||Sitch, Charles H|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, T.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Snell, Harry|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Stamford, T. W.|
|Clarke, A. B.||Lawson, John James||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Strauss, E. A|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Livingstone, A. M.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Compton, Joseph||Longbottom, A. W.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dalton, Ruth (Bishop Auckland)||Lunn, William||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Townend, A. E.|
|Day, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dennison, R.||MacLaren, Andrew||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Gardner, J. P.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murnin, H.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Oliver, George Harold||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Owen, Major G.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Palin, John Henry|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allan (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|A. Barnes and Mr. Whiteley.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words he there inserted."1862
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 101; Noes, 228.1863
§ Commander EYRES MONSELL rose in his place, and claimed, "That the Main Question be now put."
That it is expedient to confirm an Agreement, dated the 14th day of December, 1928, and made between the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance for Northern Ireland for continuing the Agreement confirmed by the Unemployment Insurance (Northern Ireland Agreement) Act, 1926; and to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of any sum certified by the Joint Exchequer Board to be payablo after the 31st day of March, 1930, from the Exchequer of the United Kingdom under the last-mentioned Agreement as so continued.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.