HC Deb 01 April 1930 vol 237 cc1078-245

As amended, considered.

CLAUSE 1.—(Schemes regulating production, supply and sale of coal.)


I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the word "production."

The House will realise that we seek, by leaving out tins word "production," to move to leave out the whole question of quota and of restriction of output, both on a national basis and on the district basis. Hon. Members opposite have found difficulty, apparently, in understanding why we on this side of the House have raised such strong objections to the quota arrangements under this Bill, when we were quite willing to give a fair trial to the voluntary arrangements which have been worked in certain districts for a considerable period. We see, however, a very great difference between a voluntary regulation of output and a statutory restriction. Under the voluntary system it was absolutely free for any or all coalowners to join any voluntary scheme that was in existence in their district, or, if they disapproved of the way the scheme was being worked, they were perfectly free to drop it. That was not only far more satisfactory from their own point of view, but it was also a great safeguard to the public and to the consumer, because we can rest assured that if the scheme was not being properly managed, if output was being restricted to too great an extent, or if it were sought to raise prices too high, some keen business men among the coalowners would have decided to break away from the scheme, because they would be able to serve their interests, and those of the public far better without the imposed restriction.

Under this Bill the Government are seeking to restrict output by Statute. It is directly interfering with the conduct of the business of the coalmining industry, and it is saying to the coal-owners that they must not produce more than a certain amount, of coal, no matter what their productive capacity may be, and, if they exceed the quota that is to be allotted to them, they are liable to various penalties. That limitation of Output is really a process of levelling down the better pits to the same level as the less efficient and less productive pits, because under this quota system, no matter how well a mine may be managed, no matter how much money has been spent on its development, all pits are to be placed on the same level.

A certain standard tonnage is to be allotted to each pit. That gives a vested interest to the less economic pits, which are not in the ordinary way able to compete in hard times. They are given their percentage of production whether or no they are capable of properly carrying on their business. The quota is really a detriment to the more highly developed and more productive pits. One of the chief things that would happen under the restriction of output is the discouragement of the development of coal mines. The pits which will feel the quota system most of all are those in what we may call the new areas, the pits where large sums have been spent on development, and where the greatest potential output at present exists. Vast sums of money have been spent in sinking shafts and developing coal mines which could, if they were allowed, produce a far greater amount of coal than they are doing now. [Interruption]

I know the hon. Member is presuming that a certain amount of latitude is given to newly-developed and developing pits, but, on the other hand he should realise that any increase for a pit has to come within the district quota or the national quota, and that no increase of tonnage can be given to a newly-developed pit unless some reduction is going to be made elsewhere. There is no elasticity, as far as I understand it, with regard to the national quota or the district quota, and, therefore, whatever is set as the production for the country or the district has to be equalled out as between the collieries in that district, and, therefore, it is discouraging development. Certainly pits are not likely, when they know their output is going to be restricted to a percentage, to spend more money in the development of pits.

The restriction of output by quota also destroys competition. There is not the incentive for the pits to compete against each other either for the development of the pits or for the sake of their coal. There is no question that the national quota, in the first place, would be set with the idea of restricting the output to whatever the demand may be. The whole object of it is to avoid more coal being produced than can be sold. That, in itself, is going to destroy competition, because every coalowner will know that the coal that he is permitted to produce is bound to be wanted. He is not going to have his selling department thrusting round the country trying to obtain orders in competition with rival coalowners. There will be no need for that, because, whatever amount he is allowed to produce, he knows is going to be required sometime or other within that period and at a price which must not be below the minimum price.

4.0 p.m.

I will not go into the question of the fixing of the minimum price. I only wish to deal with the main criticisms with regard to restriction of output, because we had a very full Debate on it in Committee. One of the results of this reduction of output is going to be to destroy competition as between pits. I have always believed that competition is a wholesome thing for any industry, and without proper competition any industry is going to suffer and to deteriorate. That is with regard to restriction of output from the collieries themselves. But the Bill also restricts what I might call the user of coal. It says to certain people that, though they have coal at their disposal, they must not work it. I am referring now to those concerns which have been mentioned in previous Debates with regard to the iron and steel trade, carbonisation of coal, and so on, which have had the forethought to buy coal mines for the purpose of their own industry. They have found it cheaper and better for the economic working of the industry to buy a pit than to buy their coal month by month or year by year under contract. Now they are told, "Though you have your own pits, and can produce all the coal which you require for your own business, you must no longer do that. You will be given only a certain percentage of the output of that pit, no matter how mush you want." It does not matter if they have coal in the land; they will be told, "Beyond your quota you must not go, and you must leave your own coal in the land and go into the open market and buy what further coal you need." I maintain that that is a very unfair and harsh treatment of businesses which have had the foresight to make provision for their own needs. I will give an illustration. It is almost as bad as the case of a man who has hired an allotment to grow vegetables for his own family, and a Government inspector comes along and says, "I know that you can produce on that allotment all the produce you require for your family, but you must not produce more than three-quarters of what your actual needs are. The remaining quarter you must buy in the market. You must not utilise your own land. You must not grow all your own potatoes, but must go into the open market and buy at least a quarter of whatever you may require. And when you go into the market to buy, we will see to it that you do not buy what you require at less than the minimum price."

That is not only the case with regard to the private user of coal. The same thing applies on a larger scale with regard to districts. There are districts such as Staffordshire and Lancashire where they could not only consume the whole of the output of coal from their particular districts, but even at the present time they are unable to supply the whole of their needs. Even now they have to obtain a certain amount of coal from other coalfields, but, in spite of the fact that the whole of their own output is required for use in their own districts, they are to be told, under this quota system, "You must not produce more than 75 or 80 per cent., Dr whatever it may be, that you have been using in your own district. You must not produce more than your quota, and the remaining quarter that you require you must go into the open market and buy at not less than the minimum price." I maintain that no Government could possibly devise a more vexatious, a more damaging or a more ludicrous system than that which is being set up under this Bill with regard to the regulation of the output of coal.

Another point with regard to this quota provision is that it provides no incentive to concentration. Most people who have had anything to do with the coalmining industry have realised that one of the most desirable things is that the production of coal should be concentrated on those pits which are best able not only to provide the best quality of coal, but to provide it in the most economical way and at the lowest cost. There is certainly no inducement for that to happen under the Bill, because the only way that a really efficient and economical pit can produce its full quota is by buying somebody else's quota, and, therefore, it will add to its cost. We find, therefore, that unless the economic pit is willing to buy a quota, it cannot possibly concentrate on its production in that particular pit. Concentration, to my mind, would certainly reduce costs. If we could get concentration on the best pits, it would reduce costs, too, from the miners' point of view. I realise that it would probably reduce labour costs. Pits that can produce coal most cheaply are those which can produce coal with the least labour. We know full well that labour charges are the heaviest charges in connection with the coal mining industry, and, therefore, the cheapest coal produced really infers in most cases that there is less labour and probably more machinery being used.

That may be so with regard to concentration, but what is the effect of the quota system as it has been worked and the examples we have before us? We know that in the Five or Seven Counties Scheme under the quota system there has been a tendency for a wider spread of short-time work. The tendency has been throughout for a spread of hours, the work being spread over the different pits, and there has been a very considerable increase in short-time work. I would submit that, even from the miners' point of view, it can be little consolation to them to know that their working hours are to be reduced by half-an-hour a day on such days as they work, when they know that the inevitable result of that under this Bill will be that they work fewer days per week. That, surely, is a very poor consolation for the miners when they realise what this Bill is going to do for them. Again, as has been suggested both by the Secretary for Mines and by the President of the Board of Trade, even if any of the effect of this Bill were to be to give an increase in wages, which I very much doubt, I submit that an increase in wages, if the wages are paid on fewer days a week, is of very little value to the miner himself. I found that in most parts the miner said that, low as his wages might be, it would not be so bad, providing that he was working the full number of shifts per week. What hits him so hard is when short-time is being worked, and there is not a sufficient number of shifts being worked in a pit to enable him to earn enough in the week.

There is one other point only that I want to mention as to the effect of the quota system, and that is with regard to the increased cost. There, again, it is admitted that the most economical way of working coal is by working to the limits of production. The overhead costs are so spread that the cost of getting the coal is less. The reverse is equally true, and when production is reduced, we know that the overhead costs per ton of coal are going to be very considerably increased. It is obvious that the reduction of output will increase the cost of production, and therefore increase the cost of coal. It is not merely that this increase of cost has got to be added to the increase by shortening the hours. It is only one other additional burden which the consumer has got to pay, whether it be the foreign consumer or whether it he the consumer in this country, the only difference being that we have realised throughout the discussions on this Bill that the foreign consumer is not bound to buy our coal, and, therefore, it is not possible to put the full increase in the cost on to him. The home consumer, however, at the present time, has no alternative. He has to buy his coal in this country, but if the price of coal rises to the extent which we anticipate, there is no doubt whatever that the demand for coal in this country will be very considerably reduced. If this increase were to grow too high, we might even see foreign coal being imported, because there is a very narrow margin, I imagine, at the present time, between the prices at which it would pay to sell coal in this country, and the price at which we could actually import it from some of our present foreign competitors.

I do not wish to go too deeply into the question of increase of cost to the consumer in this country, because that was very fully dealt with on the occasion of a similar Debate on the Committee stage. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) took part in that Debate, and spoke for over half an hour on the evils of this restriction of output, showing the heavy increase in cost which this limitation of output would produce. There is no necessity for me to repeat all his arguments. I would only like to read the words of the right hon. Gentleman at the conclusion of his speech on that occasion. He had been pointing out the responsibility which Members of the Committee would have to their constituents in accordance with the way they placed their votes on that occasion. He said: We represent every industry in this country, and every hon. Member will have to answer the question how he came to vote for a proposal which has increased the cost of a commodity, essential to the very life of every industry in this country, and increased it not by curtailing the hours of labour but by introducing fantastic proposals for limiting the output of the commodity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1930; col. 2480. Vol. 235.] That is what the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs told us on the Committee stage of this Bill. Of course, we know that when he spoke those words he had not fully realised the importance of the Naval Conference, but, even with the Naval Conference behind him, I think he would find it extremely difficult to go down to his constituents and explain to them how he could consider that this particular restriction of output was so important on the Committee stage, that he would even risk turning out the Government, and did his best to defeat the Government on that particular point, and, then, as I can only presume, when we come to this Report stage, carry out the arrangement of abstaining or supporting the Government on such a proposal. I do not envy the right hon. Gentleman the task of explaining such an attitude to his constituents. I entirely agree with him that it is a matter of very great moment to every member in this House as to how he is going to vote on this particular Clause. It is a matter which is going to affect the whole industrial life, and, indeed, the domestic life of the whole of this country, and I do ask all Members to hesitate before they support a Measure which will inflict so much harm, not only to the industry itself, but to all other industries and to private consumers in this country.


Very briefly, I would like to reply to some of the arguments advanced by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. If I were to quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT the speech of the hon. Member who represents one of the Divisions of Sheffield, I think it would provide a reasonable answer to any of the arguments the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has put, but I should like to take one or two of the main points of the hon. Member's speech to indicate whether there is anything in the arguments which have been advanced. In the first place, with regard to the new coal mines in the Doncaster area, because I presume that was in his mind, in view of the enormous expenditure in sinking and developing new mines any restriction of output would restrict the sinking and development of new collieries. Surely the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington (Commodore King) knows that new collieries are sunk with one of two objects in view. They are sunk because it is expected that the old pits are not going on for ever or because the world demand is going to continue to increase. Therefore, but for the known normal natural demand for an increase in the consumption of coal and the fact that old pits automatically, slowly but surely, go out of production, no new pits would be sunk.

What has happened in the experience of the Seven or Five Counties Scheme? All the newer collieries which cost so much to sink and to develop have been able to produce to their utmost capacity, and in all the arrangements of the Five Counties Organisation Committee, instead of restricting development, the utmost elasticity has been introduced. All the collieries have the power of submitting any complaint to a body of arbitrators who sit and determine what is right and what is wrong in regard to any individual colliery. If the basis of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument were correct, the one part of the coal-mining area of this country which would be in sore distress would he that comprising the Five Counties area. In the restricting of output, and the regulating of the price and the sales, and in inducing whatever economies were possible, the one part of the coal-mining area of this country which would be charged a colossal price for coal and at the same time would be making tremendous losses would be the Five Counties area, namely, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, and the rest.

If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had looked up the figures for 1929, he would have found that the one part of the coal-mining area, of Great Britain which had been making the best profits was the Five Counties area. In spite of facilities for the maximum output in Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, or South Wales, none of these collieries can compare with the results which have been obtained in the Five Counties area. Therefore, the basis of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument falls completely to the ground since a reduction in the cost per ton in Yorkshire and the whole of the Five Counties area has gone down faster than the cost of production has gone down in other areas where there is no restriction and where internal competition continues to exist.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman quoted the case of the smallholder or the allotment holder who might make a restriction of his output of cabbages or potatoes. If he will apply his arguments when he goes back to the agricultural part of his Parliamentary constituency, he will find that the farmers will be following up his suggestion. I do not suppose that there will be many allotments or small holdings in the Parliamentary constituency of Paddington, but if the right hon. and gallant Member enters any one of the rural constituencies and gives the germ of the idea to the farmers of the country he will find that they will be pressing him and his party for a scheme almost on the lines of the scheme of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. After all, the basis of his argument was that they have a successful scheme without having a scheme on the lines indicated in this Bill, whereas in point of fact from every agricultural platform in the country they are demanding that either this or some other Government shall do something to enable them to sell their produce in order not only to produce a reasonable profit to the farmers themselves but wages for their employés. With regard to the question of quota and the statement that a restriction of output automatically and invariably causes an increase in price, I think that if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will have a private conversation with the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Sir S. Roberts), the latter will be able to prove very conclusively that, instead of causing an increase in price, the application of a quota system will create a reduction in the costs of output.

May I refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) which he delivered on the Committee stage of this Bill. Hon. Members will remember that he referred to a South Yorkshire colliery, and lamented the fact that there was a colliery there with an output of from 600,000 to 650,000 tons which had become involved in the Five Counties Scheme, that their quota was to be reduced to about 80 per cent., that their output was to be reduced to that standard, that the cost of overhead charges was to remain the same, but that the cost of output was to be increased, so that now a really prosperous colliery had been turned into one which was losing money, and that they had given notice to withdraw from the scheme. What are the facts of the case? I have the whole of the figures of the output of this particular colliery for 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1927 and 1929. Here is a colliery whose output never reached 600,000 tons, but whose output for the years mentioned averaged approximately 489,000 tons. But because the basic tonnage had been fixed upon the imagination of the directors of that particular company somewhere in the region of 650,000 tons the Five Counties Scheme Organisation Committee had conceded them the basic tonnage of about 670,000 tons. So that 80 per cent. of 670,000 tons would give them about 100 per cent, of their own output over a number of years, whereas the average for the previous five years was 489,000 tons. Their actual output for the year ending 31st March, 1929, was 487,000 tons.

Therefore, the argument submitted with such great force by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs amounted to this, that this great colliery have had their output reduced by means of the Five Counties Scheme quota operation by 2,000 tons per year. That has made no material difference to this particular colliery at all, except that some sense of proportion did enter into the mining industry in that particular area. It is true to say that the element of competition has been removed and that to a certain extent price fixing has taken the place of the internal competition scramble which had hitherto prevailed, with the result that the improvement in prices not only disposed of any effect that the reduction in output by 2,000 tons may have had, but that colliery, in conjunction with practically the whole of the rest of the collieries in that area, are to-day making a better profit than they have made at any time during the last five or six years. Therefore, from that point of view the quota scheme, as practised in those counties, has proved a unique success, as far as a partial scheme can be expected to go.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned another figure on the Committee stage to which I should like to refer. He referred to the same colliery again. He said that here was a colliery whose output had been restricted and which had a quota which was much less than their actual capacity, but what had they to do? They must go out into the mining area and buy up some quotas. He said that they spent £40,000 per annum in one way or another buying up quotas of coal at the rate of 1s. 6d. per ton. I have already informed the Committee that the output of this particular colliery for the whole year was 487,000. £40,000 spent on quotas at the rate of 1s. 6d. per ton accounts for over 500,000 tons. The right hon. Gentleman had made a slight mistake. Instead of having spent £40,000 upon quotas they purchased 29,400 tons of coal.


Was that the same colliery?


indicated assent.


I do not know that it was the same colliery.


I will tell the Committee the name of the colliery.


I am not sure that my right hon. Friend was referring to the same colliery on both occasions.


He gave the name of the colliery at the conclusion. The actual quantity of coal purchased by this colliery was 29,400 tons for one year.


My right hon. Friend was not referring to that colliery then.


I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me when I say that he was referring to the Kiveton Park Colliery, near Sheffield.


On the first occasion?


And on the second occasion too. I should be the first person to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman if I had done him any sort of injustice. He indicated to me that that was the colliery which he meant. However, I need hardly hang my argument upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman's figures on the Second Reading and on the Committee stage had no actual relation to the facts of the case. With regard to the possible increase in price referred to by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, all I need say is that, if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman assumes that the mining industry is a very successful industry, that we have no wage disputes, no stoppages, and everything is merry and bright, I am inclined to agree with some parts of the arguments which he has advanced. But knowing, as he must do, that guerilla warfare has been the rule instead of the exception in this industry for the last 10 years, he ought to realise that there is an absolute necessity for a change to take place.

It may be that my right hon. Friend's scheme cannot be made perfect in the first six months. We hope that the scheme is going to be a starting point where real organisation can enter into the industry and where the requisite tonnage, both for internal and external consumption, will be assured, and where the price that the consumer pays, whether it be a steel firm or the domestic consumer, will be strictly consistent with all that is required to provide the men who produce the coal with a civilised wage, and those who invest their money in the industry, so long as private ownership remains, a reasonable return on their capital. He has not told the Committee whether what they received last year was a fair return. Scotland last year received 2d. per ton profit, Northumberland 5d., Durham 3d., but in this wretched Five Counties area, of which Yorkshire and Warwickshire are part, Yorkshire received 6d. and Warwickshire 2s. profit. Does he suggest that, excluding Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire or Warwickshire, we can be expected to go on for ever in this way? Is he aware that the wages of miners in other counties in the country are right down on the minimum and that, unless some organisation enters the industry, there is no chance for another generation or two of wages being increased? We must not assume that the industry is in a perfect state at the moment and that those investing their capital in it are receiving reasonable returns and the million men who risk their lives are getting a reasonable return.

The whole industry is in such a state of chaos that this Bill is needed for the purpose of helping it to reorganise on sound lines, and the quota system provides an alternative to the slipshod methods which have been applied to internal competition and to markets which are closing up instead of opening out so that prices can be based on a profit for the employers and a reasonable wage for the workpeople. Therefore, if we have to restrict output or to concentrate output on these particular collieries that are most economic, the quota system, in the last analysis, will prove to be more effective than amalgamations in getting rid of what is known as the uneconomic pits. No one has yet clearly defined what an uneconomic pit is. If a colliery is producing 15,000 tons when it has a capacity for producing 18,000 tons, it is obvious that the cost of production is approximately 1s. per ton more for 15,000 tons than for 18,000 tons, but if they can purchase, at the figure mentioned by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, 3,000 tons from an uneconomic pit, at 1s. 6d. per ton, it will do more than permit those people to keep that colliery in a decent state of repair. If they spend 4,500 shillings they will save 15,000 shillings, and will be able to produce at the maximum capacity. That process will mean not an increase but a decrease in the cost of production. My hon. Friend who represents one of the Sheffield Divisions can put this point much clearer than I am attempting to put it.

The facts are on record that where organisation is not employed by a body of employers, sooner or later some outside force will be brought in for the purpose of insisting upon co-operation. The mining industry is a typical example of the necessity of bringing about a general understanding for the reorganisation of a basic industry. If the nation in this matter is not to be regarded as one unit, and the needs of the consumer have not to be met, both internally and externally, and the people who have invested capital and the people who invest their lives are not to have a return for their output of money or energy, then there is little or no hope for the mining industry, which is the basic industry of this country. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that at this late hour he ought to follow the very wise lead of the Liberal party, even though the conversion may be late. Wise men do change their minds on occasion, and I am pleased that the Liberal party are sufficiently wise, even yet, to be able to change their minds. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, having realised that the quota will mean a reduction in the cost of output instead of an increase, will mean bringing order into the industry instead of chaos, will remove uncertainty and doubt from the minds of people who run industries which depend upon coal, because they will know that a national board will eliminate the possibility of strikes and lock-outs, and give that element of perpetual security that they have never enjoyed for a long period, will see the wisdom of supporting the retention of the word "production."


The hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), whom I congratulate on having broken the gloomy silence which is maintained by hon. Members opposite in connection with this Bill, is obsessed, whenever he intervenes in a coal Debate, with the fact that he sees the problem through the spectacles of the Five Counties area, where he lives and moves and has his being. He addressed an appeal to us to follow the example set by the Liberal party. He did not imagine that that appeal would fall on anything but deaf ears. Whatever may be expected from us, we are not affected by what the Prayer Book would call "the changes and chances of this mortal life," that has been shown during these Debates. The hon. Member had a gentle way of describing what we have heard in this House and outside, that the one necessity in connection with this Measure was to get through the business and get the Bill out of the House of Commons, because it was only a makeshift to carry out those high hopes that hon. Members opposite entered upon not many weeks ago when they pictured, in glowing and rosy colours, what would be the result of placing this Bill upon the Statute Book.

The Amendment is to omit the word "production." The hon. Member for the Don Valley was concerned entirely with the coal industry, the owners and the workpeople, but we in this House can- not afford to legislate for one particular industry, however important it may be. We have to consider the bearing of this Bill and of this Clause and its Amendment on a much wider basis than its effect upon one particular industry. We have to consider its effect upon the industrial situation of the country as a whole, and upon the consumer. It is impossible for us, with the best will in the world, to legislate on such a narrow basis as that advocated by the hon. Member. No words could have been more apt to describe the effect of this Clause as it stands, without amendment, than the phrases that were used by speakers from the party below the Gangway on this side in the earlier stages of the Bill. We have had a sort of glamour or camouflage put over it by speakers opposite. They speak about control as if it does not mean definitely and admittedly restriction of supply. We are supposed to be entering upon an age of rationalisation. The keynote of rationalisation is to increase supply for the needs of the world and, therefore, an increase of that volume of wealth by which alone the inhabitants of this globe can expect to improve their conditions and possibilities.

While it would not be in order to go into that matter in detail, by way of illustration, I would point out that the proposal in this apparently harmless provision to regulate production in the coal mining industry is not the first instance of that sort of thing that has been tried. It was tried in connection with the rubber industry, in connection with the sugar industry, and in other directions. The hon. Member for the Don Valley said that such a suggestion would be welcomed by the farmers of this country. I wonder whether it would be welcomed by the consumers to restrict the output of food. There is no vital difference, generally speaking, between a basic need of human nature, whether in the way of food or in the way of cheap coal. If one of our efforts in the direction of rationalisation of the coal industry is to go along the uneconomic ground of deliberate statutory limitation and restriction of supply, it is a most astounding suggestion to come from hon. Members opposite. I have never heard a more glaring case put forward than the principle of stern protection in the interests of one industry, regardless of its effect upon the consumers as a whole. That perhaps accounts for the original attitude taken up by the Liberal party. We know well, in spite of jeers, what is the true inwardness of their change of front, and we know that behind that front their minds remain the same, that it is an entirely uneconomic and entirely new procedure in this country that we should be trying to pass a Bill containing a provision of this sort.

The hon. Member for the Don Valley says that this has been done with considerable success in the Five Counties Scheme, but in the bright colours in which he painted the allurements of that scheme, he concentrated upon those who had capital invested in the industry, and the workers. He did not mention the consumers. He said that those who, like himself, had had personal experience of the effects of that scheme realised its great advantages, and that we had only to ask such people and they would tell us the real facts. I have had some conversation with those who have been connected definitely and closely with that undertaking. While in many respects they attribute some of the benefits of this scheme to the causes which the hon. Member mentioned, they have suggested that one of the reasons for it was that the coal industry was a public benefactor, that it was making a present of its profits to the consumer and that this ought to be stopped. That condition of things is not confined to any one industry, as can be testified by people who have found themselves faced with the same conditions in other industries.

This House seeks to place upon the Statute Book what has been done by individuals in their voluntary capacity. Even though that individual act may have been a success, it is not an argument for our making that system into an Act of Parliament. The efforts to control industry have been successful in the past because they have been voluntary and have provided for that elasticity which is essential if they are to fulfil their purpose. Anyone who has been connected with industry knows that, owing to internal competition or other reasons, certain occasions have arisen which have brought manufacturers and producers together in order to cut out internecine war. Experience has shown that if you begin to control by Government provision, such as we are proposing now, you immediately saddle that industry with a cast-iron form which cannot be made to yield in any direction, and they have to come to the Parliament which passed the law and ask for it to be amended, whereas if the thing can be done voluntarily there is the day-to-day experience of those who have willingly taken part in the arrangement, and they are able to adjust it.

I do not want to weary the House by going over the ground which was traversed in previous stages with regard to the effect of the scheme as a whole upon the individual undertakings which form part of it, if you have this cast-iron restrictive provision. The effects of it cannot be foreseen, and I think that the House are making a very grave mistake in allowing this Clause to pass without the Amendment that we seek to make. There are portions of the Bill which are non-controversial, but, taking it as a whole, most of my colleagues and myself are bitterly opposed to it, because we cannot accept that it is going to carry out the great hopes which the hon. Member for Don Valley has placed before us to-day, hopes which are not held by many other hon. Members opposite, because I know they regard it with grave apprehension. If that is the case, we are fully justified in having graver apprehensions as to what will be the outcome of placing this Bill on the Statute Book, and for those reasons I propose, even to the very end, to continue my opposition to this Bill.


I have listened throughout all the Debates on this Bill to the arguments put forward from the benches opposite as to the effect of a quota on the production of coal. It was said of the old political economists that their logic was sound, but that they reached wrong conclusions, because their assumptions were wrong to begin with. If ever there was a case where the assumptions could not stand investigation, this is one. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) told us that this Bill was to restrict output. The right hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Commodore King) said the same thing to-day, and he went on to say something that no one disputes, namely, that if you restrict the output of any commodity, and your standing charges remain the same, your costs will be greater, and in consequence of that the price charged to the consumer must also be greater. That logic is sound, but the assumption is wrong, because this Bill does not restrict production in any sense whatever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] How many tons of coal will be produced in this country after this Bill is passed, and how many tons are produced to-day? There has not been a single fact brought in to show that production will be reduced by a single ton a year under this Bill.

I listened with the greatest care to the speech of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs to find out any evidence he could produce to show that, but he showed something vastly different. He showed that there were certain pits where production would undoubtedly be curtailed, but he did not dispute the point made in the original speech of the President of the Board of Trade, that, while we had a total potential production of 330,000,000 tons of coal per annum, the actual production is 255,000,000 or 260,000,000 tons at the outside. No single speaker has ever shown that this Bill will lower that total production of 260,000,000 tons by a single ton, so that there is no case whatever for the assumption that this Bill will reduce output. It will reduce the output of certain pits—that is admitted—but automatically, by reducing the output of those pits, it will increase the output of other pits, and it follows that if it costs any pit 1s. 6d. a ton to reduce their output from 100 per cent. to 80 per cent.—which is assuming a 5 par cent. improvement—it will reduce the costs of other pits to raise their production from 60 per cent. to 80 per cent. If the total output of the country is 80 per cent. of its total capacity, and if some pits are producing 100 per cent., it follows, obviously, that other pits are producing less than 80 per cent., so that for every pit producing 100 per cent. we must have a corresponding production from some other pits of 60 per cent.

What effect has that upon the consumer of coal? Here I come to the most extraordinary argument of all, that because of the cost of production in certain highly efficient pits, prices will be raised. What cost of production is it that corresponds to the selling price? If a particular mineowner is successful in reducing his costs of production, either by improved machinery, or because he happens to have possessed a very superior kind of pit to begin with, with fine seams, if he can by any means reduce his cost of production by 5s. a ton below that of his competitors, does he go around to the purchasers and ask to sell it at 5s. a ton less? Obviously he does not, and I am surprised to have such an assumption made from the Front Bench below the Gangway of all places, because they tell us, when we are speaking on Protection, that we have not to consider what a local grower may produce food at, but the effect of a tax on the margin of food; and we know that the price of coal is not determined by the cost of production of the most efficient pit, but that it is determined by the cost of production of the least efficient pit, if it is determined by cost of production at all.

Then what does the argument amount to? Pit No. 1, a highly economic pit, a pit favourably situated, and exceedingly well equipped, sells 100 per cent. of its standard tonnage, and to begin with it can produce coal at considerably less than other pits. It is well, before developing this argument further, to see what that margin is. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) referred to the owners in Yorkshire making a profit of about 1s. a ton, and in some more favoured districts of about 2s. a ton, while in other places they are making a profit of about 2d. a ton. It has been pointed out already, and with great emphasis, by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), that these average profits are exceedingly misleading, that while the average profit over the country may be 3d. or 4d., we find upon examination that same pits are apt to be making a profit of 8s. a ton, and that other pits at the extreme end are losing 8s. a ton, and you have all grades in between.

I am not going to take such an extravagant figure as 8s., but for the purposes of my illustration I will take the two extreme forms of 5s. per ton loss and 5s. per ton profit. The figurer, that were given in the House the other day by the Minister of Mines showed that the average price of coal last year was about 14s. a ton. I will assume that in this highly efficient pit, selling 100 per cent. of its total product, the cost is not 14s. a ton, but 9s., leaving a profit of 5s. per ton. For the purposes of my argument, I do not need to bother with the pits that are losing money, but I will take pits producing coal at 13s. or 14s. a ton and selling it at that price. These pits, however, are not selling 80 per cent. of their output; they must be selling less, because there is not 80 per cent. left for them if the more prosperous pits are selling 100 per cent. Therefore, I will assume that they are only selling 60 per cent. of their output. What then will be the effect of both pits being made to sell 80 per cent. of their output? The effect will be that pit No. 1, producing at 9s. a ton, will have its production curtailed by 20 per cent., and that would, according to the argument, increase their cost from 9s. to 10s. 6d. per ton.


Can the hon. Member name how many pits in Great Britain are producing coal at 9s. a ton?


No, I am not dealing with facts at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I was replying to the arguments of hon. Members opposite, which were not based on facts, but which were theoretical from beginning to end. Their arguments were: Ipso facto, if you reduce output, you automatically increase price. There was no fact that could be challenged at all, in the whole basis of the argument, both from the one side of the Gangway opposite and the other, and I am showing that their argument is not only wrong in fact, but wrong theoretically as well. Profits vary, and I have got the corroboration of the right hon. Member for Darwen, of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and, I think, of the right hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington, and I have certainly got the corroboration of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who have all said the same thing. They have all called attention to the extraordinary variations in the profits made by certain pits. I can give better corroboration than that. I have here a quotation from a speech by an hon. Member of this House who is a coal-owner. He is a Member of the Liberal party, and he says: We are able to produce coal of a superior quality and have seams much more easily worked than they were in former days, with the result that in a modern pit in the best area, working the best seams, we can produce at least three times as much coal per man per shift with the same expenditure of labour as can be obtained from the old pits. That is corroboration from a Member of this House who owns a great many pits. But what determines the price? He tells us that too, because he says: When you come to fix the price, it must be based on a figure that will yield a profit to the poorest pit."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1929; cols. 1721–2, Vol. 233.] 5.0 p.m.

Therefore the selling price is not determined by the cost of production of your pit producing 100 per cent.; it is determined by the cost of production, which has fallen under the present arrangement, of the pit producing only 60 per cent., so that the pit with the initial natural advantage, added to by the skill and enterprise of its owners and by the fact that it has got more than its own share of the sale of coal, reduces its coat of production by 1s. 6d. below the average, and the cost of production of the least efficient pit is increased by 1s. 6d. above the average. That means, to come back to the figures with which I was dealing when I was interrupted, that, assuming your average price is 14s. a ton, and that your highly efficient pit is producing a third, the effect of this Bill will be to reduce the cost of production to 10s. 6d. We have to give consideration to the consumer, I agree, and we cannot legislate merely for the mining industry, but we are not going to have the consumer made a bogy, and we are not going to accept the position that the coalowners outside Yorkshire are so solicitous for the consumer as some hon. Members opposite would like us to believe. While we increase the cost of Pit No. 1 by 1s. 6d., what do we do with the pit where it is costing 15s. and they have to sell at 14s.? If they increase their output by 20 per cent. they will be able in those circumstances to produce coal at 12s. 6d. or 13s. 6d. and therefore sell cheaper. But the true inwardness of the position with regard to the opposition to the quota came out in one or two remarks of hon. Members opposite. One was by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. He said that it would rob the efficient pit of its reward. Well, the reward of a successful business man in this country is the difference between the selling price—


Profit and loss!


The reward that the pioneer in this country gets is the normal profit plus the advantage that is secured over his less successful competitor. But something else follows. The more inefficient his competitor the greater is his reward, and, if he can penalise his competitors by making them work on 60 per cent. of their output, he gets an additional benefit that he would not get under normal conditions. Therefore, if this quota is to have the effect on prices it is more likely to reduce them than to increase them. I think I have given sufficient corroboration of that fact.

There is one very extraordinary argument which came from the right hon. Member for Darwen. His argument all along has been that, while the quota is all wrong, amalgamation is all right. Looking at the matter from a practical standpoint, I should like him to tell me the difference between the quota scheme and amalgamation. What difference is there in practice? First of all, why should we advocate amalgamation at all? We know that the old-fashioned economic theory is, "Let them fight, struggle, that is competition, and gradually the poorest competitors will be wiped out." But we know that that does not happen; in fact, just the opposite seems to be true.

After all, what does this cry for rationalisation mean? It means that inefficient business have remained though inefficient. They do not disappear; they remain as a burden on the rest of the community. If we are to eliminate the inferior pit by competition and then get as much coal as we require from the most highly organised pit, then the President of the Board of Trade would be well advised to withdraw his Bill and all other legislation and let competition reign. But we know that that has never happened. Even from benches below the Gangway has had to come the suggestion of the marriage between the unfit and the fit in some amalgamation schemes—a scheme of amalgamation and a quota scheme. Here is an inefficient pit producing at a high cost and here is a highly efficient pit and both are producing for the same market. The inefficient pit does not disappear, probably because it would cost far more if it were closed down and, therefore, it carries on.

The remedy suggested has been amalgamation. But how do they amalgamate? I suppose it is not suggested that you should confiscate? You would buy out the inefficient pit at a price and you would close it down and purchase from the other pit. Whatever capital was invested in that pit the interest on it would have to be found, and the interest is at least equivalent to the cost of the quota. You are saving in this respect by buying a quota as the efficient pit is only committed to the cost for one year, but by the other method it is committed for all time. The quota is more advantageous than any scheme of purchase that could be devised. Another extraordinary argument used by the right hon. Member for Darwen was, I believe, in his first speech on the Second Reading, when he said that it was rather an anomaly that this country with such resources for the supply of coal should go out of its way to get people coal at a cheap rate. Are not all our schemes of rationalisation, methods of producing our goods cheaply for export or otherwise?

I think the case put up in the early stages of the Bill has not been made out. It is admitted that the cost of the reduction of hours must fall somewhere. I think we are all agreed on that, unless we can meet the case by improved organisation. The coalowners are agreed on that, but the coalowners in Yorkshire agree as to the effect of the quota, and they are practical men. The case put forward for the elimination of the word "production" has not been made out.


I have been amazed at two speeches from the opposite side of the House, because they were in such extraordinary contrast to the speeches delivered by the President of the Board of Trade. He has been frank about this Bill, and particularly about this provision in the Bill. He has put it frankly to us that this restriction of production combined with the control of prices is the quid pro quo for the reduction of hours, and he says "that is where you get the money." The President of the Board of Trade is perfectly honest about it. I think the House will probably prefer the straightforward argument of the President of the Board of Trade, who is a persistent advocate of this Bill, to the specious argument just delivered to us. If the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for South-West Hull (Mr. Arnott) is right, that this is the way to get prices down, then he will come into the Lobby with us in a few hours' time and vote against the control of prices. If this Bill will get the price down, then it is not necessary to give the coalowners power to fix minimum prices. The President of tie Board of Trade has said: "I must have both these provisions, because these have to pay for the reduction in hours." It is, of course, the quid pro quo, and it is going to be a fairly expensive quid.

The other argument advanced by the hon. Member opposite, and it also ran through the series of speeches made by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) is that because, we were prepared to accept voluntary schemes of rationalisation and limitation of output, then we ought not to object to these compulsory rationalisation schemes. The answer is this: Immediately the State comes in to force people into compulsory combination or a compulsory price ring, the natural safeguards of the public are gone for good and all. Let me point out four differences between a voluntary scheme and a compulsory scheme. The first is this: If your scheme is voluntary, efficient firms will not enter into it unless they are satisfied that they will improve their efficiency and give better services to the public. Otherwise, they will keep out. But here you force them in whether they think it good business or not.

The second safeguard is that the firms are free, under a voluntary scheme, to break away if they think that they can do better business by doing this. Over and over again voluntary cartels have broken down and efficient firms have left them. There is no such power to do that here. They are pushed in and have to stay in under penalty, under rules not laid down by the State but laid down by the coalowners themselves. In the third place, in a voluntary organisation the standard is set by the efficient firms. The inefficient have to conform to the standards of the efficient; otherwise, the efficient will refuse to enter into the cartel, or if they enter into it will refuse to abide there. But here you take care to see that the standard set is the standard of inefficiency and not the standard of efficiency, and you deliberately give to your worst pit, the most expensive pit, a vested interest in the quota, and a vested control of prices. The fourth great difference is that the State here is abrogating its duty in relation to trusts, and I should have thought that a Labour Government, a Socialist Government would have been the last to do that. They have always said that it was the duty of a Government to legislate so as to prevent trusts from operating at all. I never went so far as that. I have said that it was the function of the State—


Who said that?


Who said that? The First Lord of the Admiralty every day he spoke from these benches when I was President of the Board of Trade. Indeed, I think he said, almost in his last speech when in opposition, that the first action of a Labour Government when it came into office would be to produce a Bill dealing with trusts. The first action of this Government has been to deal with trusts, and it is this Bill. It is a most remarkable fulfilment of that pledge. I have said that the action of the State ought not to be to proscribe trusts, but it should be one of watchfulness, and, if necessary, as we always did, and as you are not doing, to watch the operation of trusts and, if necessary, intervene in the interests of the consumers. What chance have the Government of intervening in the interests of the consumers here? They are forcing everybody into these amalgamations, setting up these penal trusts, under conditions from which nobody can escape. They are to be prosecuted and fined if they try to escape. There are penal clauses to prevent anyone going out. No single coalowner can go out of the trust or sell below the minimum price. What chance is there of the State doing anything to protect the interests of the consumers? By their own action the Government are estopping themselves doing anything effective in the interests of the consumers.

Those are four perfectly adequate reasons for distinguishing between a voluntary cartel and this compulsory price ring. I could marshal many other arguments on this topic but it is not necessary because they were so ably marshalled from the Liberal benches the last time this matter was considered. On that occasion the Liberal party, alert in the interests of the consumers, succeeded in putting themselves on the Order Paper before we could do so. We had a debate, and I should be content to subscribe to almost all that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said. There were a few exaggerations in his speech, to which I do not think I should be prepared to assent. I do not agree that over a million people are going to be thrown out of work; that is an exaggeration. The right hon. Gentleman said that this quota proposal affected every industry in the country; that the Government were going to put an extra cost on every industry at a time when they were meeting the keenest competition. He said that they were increasing the perils of the miners by curtailing production, and that if this Bill had been proposed by a Conservative Government there was not a Socialist who would not have voted against it. This quota proposal, he said, was universally condemned by every trade and industry in the country and there was not a trade union or a co-operative society which supported it. People, he said, would have to buy a quota in order to do to-morrow what they are free to do to-day; they would be blackmailed into buying a quota at any price, and in a rather witty epigram remarked that this was de-rationalising industry.

His final question was to this effect: is the Labour Government going to prosecute a coalowner because he insists on finding work for his men, and he ended with an appeal to hon. Members to vote according to their conscience and justify themselves to their constituents. He also remarked that if it involved putting up the price of coal in such a way as to destroy the means of livelihood of millions of people—that is putting it a bit strong—we were entitled in the House of Commons, without the imputation of base motives, to stand up for our own constituents. The argument I have addressed to the House to-day is cold reasoning compared with the impassioned appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. It would indeed be tragic if those who were in the van of the defence of the consumers were to-day to be ranked amongst the numbers of the unemployed. I am not at all sure that they have drawn their unemployment benefit. It is very important, when grave matters of conscience are raised, that people should be perfectly sure, not only where they stand with their constituents, but also where the stand with their allies.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)

I must not become involved in the pleasantries which have marked the Debate. My duty is the simple one of meeting the facts. While there are advantages in a Report stage of a Bill, there is also the disadvantage that we can hardly help repeating to some extent the speeches which were made during the prolonged Committee proceedings, and the House will not expect from the Government Benches more than a very brief statement on each occasion when an important Amendment like the present proposal is under discussion. The simple question is whether on the wide facts of this industry within and outside the country there is a case for this form of regulation. In the second place, whether the industry would undertake this task for itself if the present Bill had not been promoted? In the Committee stage, and also during the Second Reading Debate, I pointed out that there was, in the case of coal, a fundamental difference as compared with numerous other industries in this country and in other lands. For reasons with which we are all familiar, there has been for a certain period of years in Europe, and indeed throughout the world, a static condition in the coal industry, and even if there is a considerable industrial recovery in Europe in the near future, I doubt very much whether we could get above the 600,000,000 tons of the European output and demand.

So far as this country is concerned, we have settled down over a period of years at figures which range from about 240,000,000 to 250,000,000 or 260,000,000 to 265,000,000 tons. I entirely agree that circumstances would be different if we could go back to economic conditions under which we produced increasing quantities, by more efficient methods and by lowering the cost of production, which, when thrown upon the market, found a ready demand in expanding industry and strengthened the whole economic structure. But no one in all these Debates has ever suggested that that has been true of coal in recent years, or can be true of coal in the near future as far as we can ascertain. Certainly in Great Britain the output has settled down, and while there may, and I hope will, be an expansion in the demand for export coal, so that we may recover some of the export trade which we enjoyed before the War and in certain years after the War, I am doubtful indeed whether there will be any real expansion in the, home demand. These are important factors which in this legislation we have taken into account.

If that is fundamentally true, the next consideration emerges. Is it the case that certain quantities of coal are being produced and thrown upon the market at uneconomic prices—in some cases at prices below the cost of production or at prices which are not commensurate with what the two sides of the industry are putting into it? In all the long and memorable discussions during the Second Reading Debate and through all the joys and sorrows of the Committee stage, no speaker has ever disputed that fact of the sale of coal at a loss; and the point of the Debate is whether this is an appropriate Regulation or whether the industry will find its own remedy.

Let me pass to the speech of he right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister). During these many days he has been ardent in pummelling me on literally every Clause in the Bill with the utmost good temper and courtesy. He suggests at this late hour in our proceed- ings that there is still a great deal to be said for voluntary schemes. When we take the record of the voluntary schemes, it is broadly true that it is only in the area covered by the Five Counties Scheme, as it is still called, but extending in reality, at the height of its strength, to nine counties, any kind of effective regulation has prevailed, or is intended to prevail. It is true that there is a price-fixing scheme in South Wales, and it is rather interesting that in this district they were forced also to go in for regulation of output. There was also a scheme in Scotland for a time for the regulation of output and other matters, but that scheme disappeared partly when the cold weather came and partly when prices adjusted themselves.

If that is the case, it is perfectly plain that there is going to be a great deal of difficulty in setting up voluntary organisations in the industry, and hon. Members must remember that the whole object of this legislation is to put the coal industry of this country on an economic basis. I suggest that there is no genuine protection for the consumers or the community if because of an uneconomic basis the community has to pay a subsidy, direct as in 1925, or by way of the relief of distress in the coal areas, which should be cured by the industry putting its house in order. I submit that a very strong case can be made on mere sentiment, even if it is true that a slightly higher price level will be available for coal as a result of this Regulation.

I pass from the voluntary proposal to what the Bill contains. Many hon. Members who have attacked us have always spoken as if the coal industry had done nothing at all and as if this were being imposed on the industry. That is very far from being the case. With the exception, possibly, of two districts in this country, schemes have been prepared, and in at least one area it is actually in operation, covering a substantial part a the output of that area. These schemes have not been prepared by a nefarious Socialist Government, but by the owners themselves. When we took office in the memorable days of June last year it was the first request of the owners that they should have some kind of legislative or statutory support to bring in the minorities in the different districts in order that prices could be set up and that it should not be possible for a few people to undermine the schemes; in short, to make the schemes a workable proposition. In South Wales not less than 86 per cent. of the output was covered, and in the Five Counties area, which produces 100,000,000 tons of coal, there was a smaller percentage outside the scheme. The percentage is not so high in other districts, and Scotland in this matter is lagging behind a little. All these steps were taken by the industry, and they came to us and asked for some kind of legislative support to bring in the minorities in order to make the schemes complete in the different districts.

As an economic proposition, whatever may be our politics—and in the consideration of this Bill I have been much more interested in the condition of the industry than in questions of party politics—I do not think that any hon. Member of this House can feel that there is any way of escaping from some regulation of this kind. The industry must do something to deal with an admitted danger, which has weakened its whole position, certainly during the post-War years, and even in the pre-War period. All that this Bill sets out to do, with considerable safeguards, is to give the owners in the different districts the power to get in these minorities, and to frame schemes for the regulation of output covering every pit in this country. No doubt, the 21 wage ascertainment districts recommended is far too high a number, and I hope to see it reduced under the amalgamation proposals in the Schedule to the Bill, but much of the difficulty disappears if we have regard to the type of machinery which is actually proposed.

The capacity of this country at the moment is about 330,000,000 tons and the actual amount for which we can find a market is about 260,000,000 tons. It is true that there is an apparent restriction in the quota or output regulations under this Measure, but what we have always insisted upon, and what is perfectly true, is that immediately there is any demand on an economic level, this Bill provides for an immediate response. A response could be made without any delay at all. But one of the conditions which it is sought to avoid is that of selling coal at a loss, because that can only weaken the whole industry and indeed in a short time lead to increasing burdens for the State. There is, therefore, no restriction of output in that sense of the term. There is, as I say, provision for an immediate response, should the circumstances make it necessary, and there are also safeguards in the provisions for the fixing of the standard tonnage and the quota which is related to it, and in other provisions of the Measure. The special circumstances of any depressed industry or group of industries, can be met by the provisions relating to the quota; these provide for a response to their peculiar needs. Of course, if this word "production" were deleted, then as we pointed out in the more exciting Debates in the Committee stage—much more exciting than our Debates this afternoon—[HON MEMBERS: "Why?"] The cause of truth has triumphed—[Laughter.]


But the right hon. Gentleman must do his allies the courtesy of accepting their excuse for not giving them a different reason.


I submit that, by argument and good will, we have established the case for the quota among Members of the House generally or, at any rate, that we have lessened the objections to it. I need not detain the House at greater length because the considerations which I have already outlined are those which influence us in this part of the scheme, and I can only remind the House that, as regards the owners on one side and the consumers on the other, there are very considerable safeguards in this Measure. There is, as regards the standard tonnage and the quota—which are the essence of the matter—in all these regulations, the right of appeal to independent arbitration and the independent arbitrator's decision is final. As regards the consumer, there is the network of the national supervisory committee and the local committees—again with the right of appeal to arbitration—and I suggest that, having made all these provisions, we have covered the field. As I was about to say just now, this Amendment if carried would ruin the whole structure of the Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved it does not for one moment, I am sure, expect the Government to accept it, and having made this explanation, I hope that we may soon pass to a Division which will finally place this provision in this legislation.


The President of the Board of Trade is always lucid and sometimes convincing, but we cannot expect him at this stage of the Bill to say anything which is particularly novel. Yet there is one point which I think has not been made up to now, in the course of these long Debates. It relates to the attitude on this Bill of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sit above the Gangway on this side of the House. They have opposed this Bill in every part, in almost every Clause, and at every stage, and they are doing so still.


The have not run away from it.


They say that to shorten the hours of the miners, in the present circumstances of the industry, is to bring disaster on the industry. They will not support that proposal, and, therefore, they regard all the remaining provisions of the Bill as unnecessary in any case, and from first to last, at every stage, they have opposed the Measure. But let us remember that in the Act of Parliament passed by a Conservative Government in 1926, it is provided that at the end of five years, or in other words, on 1st July, 1931, the mining industry is to have its hours reduced not by a half-hour but by a whole hour. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway cannot wash their hands of that responsibility. If they were in office what would they do? Would they pass further legislation to postpone indefinitely, year after year, the shortening of the miners' hours? Would they go back on their own legislation, passed when they had such a great majority, providing that on 1st July, 1931, the industry was to revert to what is termed the Seven Hours Act?

The present Government, in this legislation, propose that four months after the passing of this Measure the hours are to be reduced by a half-hour over the greater part of the country. Let us assume that this Measure wilt be passed some time in May. Four months after that will bring us to September. Therefore, the proposal of the Government is that the hours shall be reduced by a half-hour in September, 1930, while the proposal of hon. Members above the Gangway on this side of the House is that they should be reduced by a whole hour in July, 1931. There is a small difference between the two. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but, from the point of view of the economic condition of the industry, and from the point of view which they continually emphasise, of the effect of shortening hours on the industry, their responsibility though slightly more remote is much more extensive. One hour next year is to be right and legitimate, but half an hour this year is a crime and a disaster.

We have never, from the introduction of the Bill, taken the same course as hon. Members above the Gangway. We made it perfectly clear on the Second Reading, in all our speeches, that of the four parts of the Bill we approved of and supported two. We supported the reduction of hours. We thought it advisable that there should be a transition period of a half-hour reduction, before coming to the full provision made by the last Conservative Government for reducing the hours to seven in 1931. We also supported the proposals with regard to the establishment of a National Board for the settlement of hours and wages questions. Furthermore, on the Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and I, put four points to the Government, and made it perfectly clear that if those points were conceded we should not vote against the Second Reading. Hon. Members above the Gangway will not deny that that was the situation. They indeed were ready to vote against the Second Reading, but if those four points had been conceded at that time, the House well knew that we were prepared to acquiesce in the Bill going to Committee, when its various provisions could be considered in detail. Those four points have all been conceded. In the first place we asked that the Bill instead of being merely restrictive should be turned into a constructive Measure. [Interruption.] We advocated that proposal year in and year out, before the last Election and at the last Election and we pressed it on the Government on this occasion, and our proposal was accepted and the Clauses are now in the Bill.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why, having secured his Clauses in Part IV of the Bill at an earlier stage, he then voted against the quota at a later stage?


The right hon. Gentleman puts a question which obviously I was going to answer and which it is the purpose of my speech to answer. Secondly, we asked that when amalgamations took place, the provisions of the Measure should not be such as to cause an inflated price to be paid for what we regarded as inefficient collieries. That also is now in the Bill. Thirdly, we asked that the consumers should be protected—that their interests should be more carefully safeguarded than hitherto, and that in the matter of price-fixing, there should be adequate recourse directly to arbitration. That again is now in the Bill. Fourthly, we asked that there should be a time limit to all these proposals to which we entertained objections and that is now in the Bill. If the concessions had been made before the Second Reading instead of after, there would not have been the narrow Division which took place on the Second Reading of the Bill. We came to the Committee stage in those circumstances. We dislike the quota system. We think it a bad system and I am afraid that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is in error if he thinks that what he regards as the cause of truth, has triumphed and that we are now converted to the virtues of that system. We are not, but we have endeavoured to secure from the right hon. Gentleman amendments to these provisions which will go far to mitigate our objections.


On a point of Order. What stage of this Bill are we discussing?

Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is out of order. He is speaking to the Amendment before the House.


An Amendment has been put down, in order to deal with this specific point of the quota which is now before the House, in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) and two other hon. Members on these benches. That Amendment which will be reached later, and which I trust will find acceptance from the House, provides that in fixing the standard tonnage—and that is the vital point—regard shall be had to the special circumstances of every coal mine including efficiency and economy of working, the extent to which it has been developed and the extent to which its output has been increasing or decreasing. Those were the reasons why we objected to the crude proposals with regard to output and quota which were in the Bill—because of their effect in, as we think, protecting inefficiency, and preventing the promotion of efficiency in mines. If this Amendment is inserted in the Bill, as I trust that it may be, our objection will be to some considerable degree mitigated—[Interruption]. I am sorry to disappoint hon. Members, but I am afraid that their disappointment must be borne.

Furthermore, we have put down an Amendment to apply a yet stricter time limit to these proposals, which still, we think, may be found in experience to work some damage to the general interests of the consumers. We shall move that Amendment in due course, and I trust that that also may receive the approval of the House. We have—and I make no secret of the matter; indeed, it has been publicly declared—endeavoured at this stage, as we did before the Second Reading and after, to meet the Government and to mould this Bill into a form which should be acceptable both to the party opposite and to this party. We have not fully succeeded in that, but we have very largely changed the aspect of the Bill with the concurrence of the Government, and we are now, on the Report stage, in these two most important particulars, securing Amendments again. In these circumstances, for the reasons stated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, we think that we are not really justified in creating, and that it is our duty not to endeavour to create at this juncture, a grave political crisis. [Interruption.] Members above the Gangway seem to have very little sense of responsibility. They are evidently quite content to say that the Government should be driven from office at this

juncture, perfectly regardless of any national or international considerations. That is not our view.

When we voted against the Government a week or two ago, and the Amendment on which we voted was carried, and a certain provision in the Bill was omitted, that was not a provision that anyone could say was vital to the Bill; and the fact that it was not vital is proved by the circumstance that the Bill has survived, and that it is before us in all its essentials to-day. One of the hon. Members below the Gangway has down an Amendment to reinstate that provision, and if he proposes to reinstate it, as I hope that he will not, naturally and necessarily we shall vote against his Amendment. There is no question of that Amendment being an essential provision to the Bill, but, with regard to the quota, we regard that as somewhat different. We are now in this country, for the first time for many a long year past, endeavouring to conduct the national affairs of the country on the three-party system, and that involves a special responsibility upon all the parties to make the constitution work, and to secure that there shall be a proper stability of Government. We see in many Continental countries that their parliamentary institutions fail precisely because there is—


The right hon. Gentleman is getting rather far from the Amendment.


I apologise for responding too readily to hon. Members above the Gangway and to the right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister), who invited me to make a declaration as to the course to be taken by most of us on these benches at this juncture. The quota proposals are not such as we should have proposed in legislation. We have no responsibility for them, but at the same time, at this juncture, we do not propose to vote against them.

Question put, "That the word 'production' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 265; Noes, 219.

Division No. 240.] AYES. [5.52 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Alpass, J. H. Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Ammon, Charles George Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Angell, Norman Barnes, Alfred John
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Arnott, John Barr, James
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Ayles, Walter Batey, Joseph
Bellamy, Albert Isaacs, George Rathbone, Eleanor
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Raynes, W. R.
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Johnston, Thomas Richards, R.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Benson, G. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tess)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Ritson, J.
Bowen, J. W. Kelly, W. T. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kennedy, Thomas Romeril, H. G.
Broad, Francis Alfred Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Brockway, A. Fenner Kinley, J. Rowson, Guy
Bromfield, William Kirkwood, D. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Bromley, J. Knight, Holford Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Brooke, W. Lang, Gordon Sanders, W. S.
Brothers, M. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Sandham, E.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Lathan, G. Sawyer, G. F.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Law, Albert (Bolton) Scurr, John
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Law, A. (Rosendale) Sexton, James
Burgess, F. G. Lawrence, Susan Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Lawson, John James Sherwood, G. H.
Calne, Derwent Hall. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shield, George William
Cameron, A. G. Leach, W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cape, Thomas Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Shillaker, J. F.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shinwell, E.
Charleton, H. C. Lees, J. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Chater, Daniel Lewis, T. (Southampton) Simmons, C. J.
Church, Major A. G. Lindley, Fred W. Sinkinson, George
Cluse, W. S. Lloyd, C. Ellis Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Logan, David Gilbert Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Compton, Joseph Longden, F. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Cove, William G. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Rennie (Peniotone)
Daggar, George Lowth, Thomas Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Dallas, George Lunn, William Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Dalton, Hugh Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Snell, Harry
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Day, Harry MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Denman, Hon. R. D. McElwee, A. Sorensen, R.
Dickson, T. McEntee, V. L. Stamford, Thomas W.
Dukes, C. Mackinder, W. Stephen, Campbell
Duncan, Charles McKinlay, A. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Ede, James Chuter MacLaren, Andrew Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Edmunds, J. E. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Strauss, G. R.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacNeill-Weir, L. Sullivan, J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) McShane, John James Sutton, J. E.
Egan, W. H. Mansfield, W. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Forgan, Dr. Robert March, S. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Freeman, Peter Marley, J. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Marshall, Fred Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Mathers, George Thurtle, Ernest
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Matters, L. W. Tinker, John Joseph
Gill, T. H. Maxton, James Toole, Joseph
Gillett, George M. Melville, Sir James Tout, W. J.
Gossling, A. G. Messer, Fred Townend, A. E.
Gould, F. Middleton, G. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mills, J. E. Turner, B.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.) Montague, Frederick Vaughan, D. J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Viant, S. P.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morley, Ralph Walkden, A. G.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Morrison Herbert (Hackney, South) Walker, J.
Groves, Thomas E. Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Wallhead, Richard C.
Grundy, Thomas W. Mort, D. L. Watkins, F. C.
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Moses, J. J. H. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Muff, G. Wellock, Wilfred
Hardie, George D. Muggeridge, H. T. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Murnin, Hugh Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Naylor, T. E. West, F. R.
Haycock, A. W. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hayday, Arthur Noel Baker, P. J. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hayes, John Henry Oldfield, J. R. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Palin, John Henry Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Palmer, E. T. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Herriotts, J. Perry, S. F. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wise, E. F.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Phillips, Dr. Marlon Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Hoffman, P. C. Picton-Tubervill, Edith Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hollins, A. Pole, Molar D. G.
Hopkin, Daniel Potts, John S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Horrabin, J. F. Price, M. P. Mr. William Whiteley and Mr. Paling.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Quibell, D. F. K.
Acland-Troyte, Lleut.-Colonel England, Colonel A. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Albery, Irving James Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Muirhead. A. J.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'I.,W.) Everard, W. Lindsay Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Ferguson, Sir John Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Fielden, E. B. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Fison, F. G. Clavering Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. O'Neill, Sir H.
Atholl, Duchess of Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Atkinson, C. Galbraith, J. F. W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Ganzoni, Sir John Pilditch, Sir Philip
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Power, Sir John Cecil
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Balniel, Lord Gower, Sir Robert Ramsbotham, H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Grace, John Rawson, Sir Cooper
Beaumont, M. W. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Reld, David D. (County Down)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Remer, John R.
Bennett, Sir Albert (Nottingham, C.) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Berry, Sir George Greene, W. P. Crawford Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Richardson, Sir P. W. (Surly, Ch'ts'y)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gritten, W. G. Howard Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bird, Ernest Roy Gunston, Captain D. W. Ross, Major Ronald D.
Boothby, R. J. G. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Salmon, Major I.
Boyce, H. L. Hammersley, S. S. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bracken, B. Hanbury, C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Brass, Captain Sir William Hartington, Marquess of Savery, S. S.
Briscoe, Richard George Haslam, Henry C. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Simms, Major-General J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Skelton, A. N.
Buchan, John Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Buckingham, Sir H. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kincldine, C.)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Smithers, Waldron
Butler, R. A Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Southby, Command A. R. J.
Carver, Major W. H. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hurd, Percy A. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Iveagh, Countess of Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Chapman, Sir S. Kindersley, Major G. M. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Christie, J. A. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Tinne, J. A.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Lamb, Sir J. Q. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Colfox, Major William Philip Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Train, J.
Colman, N. C. D. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Colville, Major D. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Turton, Robert Hugh
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Llewellin, Major J. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cranbourne, Viscount Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Long, Major Eric Werrender, Sir Victor
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Lymington, Viscount Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Wayland, Sir William A.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Macquisten, F. A. Wells, Sydney R.
Dalkeith, Earl of MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Margesson, Captain H. D. Withers, Sir John James
Davies, Dr. Vernon Marjoribanks, E. C. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Womersley, W. J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Meller, R. J. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Dixey, A. C. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Mond, Hon. Henry Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Eden, Captain Anthony Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Elliot, Major Walter E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir George Penny.

CLAUSE 2.—(Provisions of Central Scheme.)


I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, to leave out the word "constitute" and to insert instead thereof the words "provide for the constitution of." The short explanation of this Amendment is that the word "constitute" would appear to indicate that the Central Council must be constituted at once, whereas in point of fact that council must be built up from the district boards. It is in order to remove doubt upon that point, and to allow time for the constitution of the district schemes, that this alteration is proposed. It is very largely a drafting Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 45, at the end, to insert the words: (j) for the manner in which the assets and liabilities of the council are to be dealt with on the expiration of this part of this Act. The object of this Amendment is to provide for the manner in which the assets and liabilities may be dealt with on the expiration of this part of the Act. This is necessary following the insertion of a time-limit in Part I of the Bill. Perhaps hon. Members opposite will not require any further explanation.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 45, at the end, to insert the words: (j) for requiring the council to consider any request made to it at any time by an executive board for a district for the increase of the district allocation of all districts or of any district. This is a simple Amendment, and I am perfectly certain that the President of the Board of Trade will accept it. It simply means that any executive board can, when they think the time and occasion suitable, insist upon the council giving them a chance of having the district allocation changed.


I beg to second the Amendment.


The short reply to this Amendment is that it is really unnecessary. It will be the duty of the central council to reconsider the district allocations from time to time; that is, so to speak, an automatic regular part of its work; and therefore these words are quite unnecessary. With that explanation perhaps my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment.


I realise that it is the duty of the central council in the first instance to make district allocations, but would it not be perfectly within the competence of the central council to make a series of district allocations which gave a quota for six months or a year? In the Clause as drafted there is nothing which lays down the period which the allocation is to cover. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the central council makes a series of district allocations covering a period of six months and an output of 120,000,000 tons, divided among the districts. There is nothing to compel the central council to reconsider the allocations until the six months are up and another allocation has to be made. But it may be that the districts may feel that the aggregate amount allocated among them is inadequate, may feel that a larger allocation ought to have been made because the supply is below the demand; or, alternatively, one of the districts may say that it ought to have had a larger allocation because it has found the allocation is working unfairly against it and claims reconsideration in order to secure fairer treatment. Further, as my right hon. Friend reminds me, it may also have been the subject of an arbitration, in which case the council will have to take into account the verdict of the arbitrator in order to provide a new district allocation altogether; but without arbitration at all, there may very well be a case where a district complains that it has been allocated too little and that the country will be short of coal. Unless the words of this Amendment are put in there is, as far as I can see, nothing to compel the central council to take such a position into account.


I hesitate to speak again, but, with the permission of the House, I would like to say that on page 3 of the Bill, under paragraph (b), we find it stated that there shall be an allocation to each district at such times and for such periods as the council thinks fit. That provision says, shortly, that they can fix the allocation from time to time and on very short notice, and, if the executive body in the district is aggrieved, there is the right of arbitration. I can assure hon. Members oppo- site that there is no difference between us on this point, and that their case is already fully covered by the Bill.

Amendment negatived.

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. R. RICHARDSON and other hon. Members:

In page 5, line 1, after the word "provide," to insert the words: (a) for the collection from the executive boards for the several districts of levies, imposed upon them at such times and for such periods as the central council thinks fit in proportion to the output for disposal of their respective districts, for the purpose of facilitating the sale of any class of coal; (b).


I do not propose to move my Amendment.




I beg to move, in page 5, line 18, to leave out from the word "House" to the word "resolves" in line 21.

This Amendment, which is partly of a drafting character, will omit the words before the expiration of a period of twenty days on which that House has sat next after the draft is laid before it. In conjunction with this Amendment, I am moving a manuscript Amendment in line 23 to leave out the words "after the expiration of that period." It is rather difficult to have a time limit for the securing of a positive regulation of the House, because any Government might find that to be a problem having regard to the position of Parliamentary business. I think there will be no difficulty in hon. Members agreeing to the omission of those words.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 5, line 23, leave out the words "after the expiration of that period."—[Mr. W. Graham.]

CLAUSE 3.—(Provisions of district scheme.)


I beg to move, in page 5, line 29, at the end, to insert the words: in such manner as will insure that any owners who were not represented by the voluntary association or other persons who submitted the scheme shall be fairly represented on the board as first elected. This Amendment relates to the district scheme providing for the election of the executive board by all the owners of coal mines in the district, and the words which I am proposing to insert, are designed to secure the representation minorities in the different districts. This was a point which was pressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) and other hon. Members opposite in Committee, and I undertook to find appropriate words for the representation of minorities on the first election of these boards.


We are much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman and, subject to one observation, I think the Amendment does carry out what we wanted. We desired that minorities should always find adequate representation on the district boards. This Amendment would certainly give them representation on the board as first elected, but what is the point of putting in the words "as first elected"? As the district board is a continuing board, if a new board is to be elected during the continuance of the scheme it will still be desirable to have the minority represented upon the second board. If the Amendment provided that any owners not represented by the voluntary association or other persons submitting the scheme should be fairly represented, we should then make sure that we have proportional representation on the board, however long it lasted, and whether it were re-elected or not. Is there any magic in these words "as first elected"?


Again I can only intervene by permission of the House. There is no magic in the words—I never claimed that for them—but I trust there is common sense in the arrangement the Government proposes. Clearly, this can relate only to the first election of the board. After a scheme is formed, it is inconceivable that there will be a minority in that district, because they will then be partners in a common enterprise in the district. The rights of a minority are safeguarded at the start, but it would be quite impossible to go on providing for a recalcitrant minority element in what would be, from that stage, a common scheme.


I think the further explanation of the President of the Board of Trade has aroused apprehensions rather than allayed fears. When I first read the Amendment which has been put forward to carry out the undertaking given in Committee, I thought it covered adequately what we had in view, but my right hon. Friend has called attention to the final words of it, and it seems to me that a matter of some moment has been raised. Our point is not entirely met by the provision that in the setting up of these district hoards there shall be provision for what the President of the Board of Trade calls a recalcitrant minority. I do not think that is a fair expression to use, though there is no doubt, that it is when the scheme first comes forward that there is likely to be what one might call a recalcitrant majority who dislike it. When a decision has been taken that the Board should be set up, I do not think that it ought to be uprooted in this way. Surely the President of the Board of Trade is anxious to have a genuine representation, and it is necessary, in the interests of the smooth working of the Board, that there should be permanent provision made. There should be some guarantee that those who do not see eye to eye with the majority of the Board should have a seat on that Board. For these reasons, I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will realise the importance of that point of view and will be willing to drop the final words.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 6, line 9, at end, to insert the words: and shall be such a method as will insure that, for the purpose of the determination, regard shall be had to the special circumstances of every coal mine, including the efficiency and economy of the working of the coal mine, the extent to which it has been developed, the extent to which its output has been increasing or decreasing, and, in the case of the first determination, the proportion which the output of the coal mine bore to the output of the district during some recent period during which no arrangements made by a voluntary association or otherwise were in force regulating the output of any substatial number of coal mines in the district. I think that some such instruction as is contained in the Amendment should be inserted in the Bill, and that the President of the Board of Trade agrees with that statement. It would be a matter for the Board to decide whether there are special circumstances which ought to be considered, including efficiency and the economical working of the coal mine.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The Amendment, I think, meets one of our fundamental objections. We are all agreed that there should be a certain amount of elasticity, and this Amendment meets many of the objections which some of us felt towards this scheme.


Hon. Members on the Liberal benches have dealt with the conditions under which standard tonnage would be determined. There is no doubt that in these district schemes all the relative factors such as the efficiency of the pit or pits will be kept in view. There was a difference between us as to what was really needed in these circumstances, and there has been deleted from the previous Amendment words which would have given an unfair advantage to mines which were unregulated. I think those considerations should be kept in view, and the Government are prepared to accept this proposal.


I understand that my Amendment which stands next on the Paper will not be called, because it deals with a similar point to that which is raised in this Amendment. I am glad that the President of the Board of Trade proposes to accept this Amendment, and we on these benches support it because we consider it gives a further safeguard in determining the standard tonnage. We do not wish to penalise those who have shown foresight in the development of their mines, and for these reasons we are prepared to support this Amendment.


I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he considers that there is any possibility of the expression "goodwill" being put into effect? The scheme, after all, has been put into definite detail, but is there any formula which can be worked out for a whole district which would allocate the quota? The right hon. Gentleman has already had several draft schemes put before him, and I should like to know whether any of those schemes ensure what is asked for, and if they do not do so, will the right hon. Gentleman have to report the scheme to the district with instructions to meet this deficiency? Is the right hon. Gentleman going to offer them any advice and give them any information upon these points, or is this merely a pious expression of goodwill which has no effect upon the fundamental disadvantages of the Bill?


This is really an important Amendment, and we are very grateful to the President of the Board of Trade for accepting it. This Amendment is a good deal more than an expression of a pious opinion. When these matters are under discussion in Committees, an indication such as this of the intentions and desires of Parliament must necessarily carry great weight, and if these provisions are inserted in the schemes, they will mitigate the evil consequences that might otherwise have followed. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentlemman for having accepted this Amendment, and it is a happy circumstance that, on this occasion, we are supported by hon. Members above the Gangway. I hope the fact that hon. Members above the Gangway find themselves supporting a Liberal Amendment will not add to the annoyance which they have previously expressed.

Colonel LANE FOX

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) can be allowed to get away like that. We on these benches were glad to support a Liberal Amendment, namely, one which took out of the Bill all control of output and limitation of production, which was denounced so eloquently from the Liberal benches, but which has been allowed to go through in consequence of a deal which, apparently, has been made between hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and the Government. I only want to say that this is a Amendment which carries very little weight, and I am surprised that the Liberal party have been willing, for a deal of this sort, to give up the Amendment which they previously put forward in such eloquent terms, and forsake a principle about which they professed to feel very strongly.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 6, line 29, at the end, to insert the words: Provided that if in the case of a coal mine which is owned or controlled by, or comprised in an industrial undertaking, the coal supplied, whether as coal or coke, from that coal mine to and for the use of that undertaking is in excess of its quota then its quota shall be deemed to be the amount of coal so supplied. This Amendment deals with the question of composite undertakings. It is a proposal which was supported by members of the Liberal party on the Committee stage, but it was not accepted by the Government. I regard this as a very important Amendment indeed, because the Bill as it stands cuts across true rationalisation and tends to prevent the grouping together of the coal industry and those industries which are dependent on coal, in vertical rather than horizontal combinations. That point was elaborated on the Committee stage, and I do not think it is necessary for me to go over the same ground again. I must, however, express my view that, unless this Amendment is adopted, there is a very grave risk of our taking a backward step. If, instead of moving forward as other countries are doing in this matter of vertical combinations, such as have been formed in Germany and America, we form watertight compartments in the coal trade, we shall suffer for it in time. The most able exposition of the principle contained in this Amendment came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) during the Committee stage. He outlined the dangers that exist under the Bill at the present time, of cutting across the true grouping of the coal industry with its great consumers, and he ended a mast effective speech by saying that the Bill would be greatly improved if its effect were to encourage such reorganisation, that is to say, vertical reorganisation. But to leave the Bill as it stands, without this Amendment, would seriously discourage such reorganisation. I trust that the President of the Board of Trade will see his way now to accept this Amendment.

We on these benches have expressed our view throughout in opposition to the quota principle. So far as Scotland is concerned, the district which I know best, I see almost certain unemployment under the quota. Just over a year ago there was in operation in Scotland a voluntary scheme, carried out by the owners. It was a scheme of limitation of produc- tion. I do not notice any Scottish mining Members in the House at the moment, but I am sure that were they here they would bear me out in saying that, while that scheme was in operation, there was grievous local unemployment and distress in certain areas. That scheme was applied voluntarily by the owners at that time, to meet a very serious situation in the industry. It was strong medicine. We claim that that strong medicine is not required now, and that those who are passing this Bill in its present form must take the responsibility for the unemployment which will inevitably be caused by the application of the quota. The effect of this Amendment would be to alleviate that unemployment. There are in many parts of the country, in composite undertakings, coal pits which are running full time because their whole output is required for the undertaking which owns them. I am not referring only to the iron and steel trade. I am known to be connected with that trade, but there are many other trades, such as the pottery trade, the refractory brick trade, the shale oil industry, and other industries which make use of coal, and in which the owners of undertakings have purchased coal mines and keep them running, in many cases at full time, for the purpose of their own requirements. Why in the name of common sense should a quota be applied in these circumstances, causing unemployment unnecessarily, and interfering with those industries which had the good sense to look ahead and secure their coal and rationalise on proper lines? I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will most earnestly consider this Amendment, and see if he cannot accept it.


I beg to second the Amendment.

In brief, this Amendment seeks to provide that, in the case of an undertaking which, as part of its operations, owns collieries which provide the coal that it needs, that coal shall be outside the provisions regulating the quota, or, in other words, that it may have 100 per cent. of its needs provided by its own source of supply which it has itself acquired. My hon. and gallant Friend has pointed out that the formation of this so-called vertical system has been entirely in the interests of rationalisation and of con- trol from source to output. The objections which we have put forward in connection with the quota in general apply with special force to such conditions. On the other hand, all industries are not so equipped, or so constituted that they want to equip themselves in this particular way, but in the case of those who have found it to be in their interest, and presumably, in the economic world in which we live, in the interests of those who consume the goods which they produce, to acquire a source of raw material, it seems to be, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, a backward step in the process of equipping our industries for the world competition that they have to face, that they should have an artificial regulation or limitation put upon their own source of basic fuel supply.

Commodore KING

I referred to this point in moving the first Amendment this afternoon. This Amendment, as has been pointed out, refers to industrial undertakings which have bought coal mines for their own purposes, but I would like now to put to the President of the Board of Trade the opposite case of coal mines which, in order to use their output, have invested capital and have developed undertakings for such purposes as the low temperature carbonisation of coal. In recent times we have seen colliery undertakings developing and putting up plants in which to treat coal by low temperature carbonisation. They have gone to considerable expense for the purpose of utilising their output in that way, and it certainly is to me a most amazing proposal that, when an undertaking has been so go-ahead, so venturesome, really, as to try a new process for the better use of its coal, it should be told that it must now only use 75 per cent., or 80 per cent., or whatever the proportion may be, for that purpose, and that, if that is not enough to keep their carbonisation plant going, they must buy coal from outside. It seems to me that the case both of the man who has developed a new undertaking in order to use the full output of his pit, and the case of the far-seeing undertaking that has bought coal pits for the purpose of supplying its own needs in regard to coal, are very hard cases, and I urge the President of the Board of Trade to give this Amendment favourable consideration.


It is very difficult in many ways to resist the appeal of three hon. and gallant Members who have taken a very active part in the discussion of this Measure, and, more particularly, the appeal of the representative of a Midlothian constituency which comes so very near to the most distinguished city in this land. But, even in these painful and difficult circumstances, the facts remain, and, with the best will in the world, I have been unable to discover any method of meeting an Amendment of this kind without very great difficulty and, indeed, danger in other directions. This point was discussed to some extent during the Committee stage of the Bill, and I think that Amendments have now been adopted which, indirectly at all events, meet the problem; but what is really before us is the position of the mixed undertaking which happens to have a coal mine producing coal for its own needs. The hon. and gallant Members suggest that, where the quota might be less than the output in such a case, then the actual output of the undertaking in the larger mixed concern shall be deemed to be the quota for the purpose of the Act.

Of course, they themselves will at once recognise that the immediate effect of that would be to take pits in these mixed undertakings quite outside of this legislation. I am afraid that the Government could not agree to that course, because I am advised, by all the competent authorities whose advice is always at the disposal of every Government, that one of the tendencies, at all events, would be to acquire pits for this purpose, and it might be that a considerable number of mixed undertakings would in fact have got these collieries, all of which are to be covered by this scheme, actually outside this legislation. In other words, they would get the quota of what they are producing now, and would be quite outside regulation.

Strictly speaking, that is not the way in which to approach this problem. It was perfectly plain, from the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Midlothian (Major Colville), that what he had in mind were iron and steel undertakings and other depressed industries, or industries which are in difficulties, and I have pointed out that, if we are to meet the difficulties of these industries—and it is our common desire to do so—under this legislation, it must be done on uniform lines, or, in other words, by the adjustment of standard tonnage and quota to give, if necessary, 100 per cent. in that field to any class of demand. The term "class of demand" is so comprehensive as to cover, not only the various grades of coal produced, but the destination of the coal; and the destination of the coal covers shale works, or iron and steel works, or whatever the undertaking may be.

In short, on that general basis we can cover the position of an iron, and steel undertaking which happens to own a colliery of its own, but subject always to this condition, that all pits producing the same class of coal are put in exactly the same position. If it were done on the lines suggested by the Amendment, there would be pits which were not linked up with an iron and steel undertaking, but which nevertheless were supplying an iron and steel undertaking. If there were a general concession, is would be well for them, but under this Amendment it would not. In any event they must be treated on a uniform basis. The iron and steel undertakings must also be put in a uniform position. They must not be able to get a 100 per cent. quota simply because of the accident of this inherent ownership, so to speak. Iron and steel undertakings which have in fact to purchase coal on a regulated basis would be in competition with concerns which would enjoy—no doubt to some extent as a result of their own foresight—this advantage, but which must come within this regulation if the Bill is to apply to every colliery in the land. For these reasons I think that the Government have taken the appropriate course, on general lines, by means of standard tonnage and 100 per cent. quota which as I have indicated is quite possible under this Bill. But it would be quite impossible for us to exempt those mines which happen to be the property of mixed iron and steel or other undertakings.


The President of the Board of Trade says that he cannot accept this Amendment, although he gives no reasons. He cannot say that far an undertaking, by its own foresight, to buy a coal mine in order to be sure of its supplies of coal, is not a proper or a wise thing to do, but the reason why he cannot allow it to continue is because that would mean lack of uniformity, and because it would take such undertakings outside the Bill. That is an argument for taking them all outside the Bill, for scrapping a Bill which brings about such a lunatic result that it is not possible to give relief to an industry which has shown such foresight. It is not as though such a mine were going to compete with other coal for sale in the world markets. On the contrary, all that we want is that that coal shall not be separated from the business which has had the foresight to acquire it. The right hon. Gentleman says that there are provisions in the Bill which may meet this point—that it will be possible to allocate the class of coal which will be sold to iron and steel works. But that is not a certainty. It depends upon the district committee, and the district committee may not agree to divide up the classes of coal so that the class which goes to the iron and steel people shall have a 100 per cent. quota. The right hon. Gentleman is asking the industry to carry on in a state of uncertainty, because, forsooth, he does not want to break the uniformity of his Bill.


There is one point which I do not think has been dealt with. As I understand the President of the Board of Trade, he objects to this Amendment because there are two sections of pits. There are the pits which belong to the very progressive industry, which believes in getting into the closest possible touch with its raw material and having one unified system of production from bottom to top. Under this precious Bill, these progressive people will now be told that in certain cases they will have to go outside and take coal from some other pit in some other place, simply because their own pits provide more than the quota. The effect will be, as is the case under every other part of the Bill, to penalise industry. The right hon. Gentleman is laying a particularly violent penalty on those industries which are most efficient. This is the most complete give-way. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept the Amendment. If once he accepts it, the whole bottom goes out of the Bill. All he said in that nice little speech was, "My Bill is so hopelessly inefficient and incompetent, that I must put the highest, possible burden on the most efficient people, because unless I do that, there is no possible chance of getting any good out of the Bill at all."


We are discussing whether or not there should be certain words included in the Bill. What is perhaps much more important is whether the object intended to be covered by the Amendment will be borne in mind by the Board of Trade when considering schemes. It is of less importance to the House that any particular words should be inserted than to have an assurance from the Minister that the point intended to be covered will be borne in mind. I listened with the greatest interest to the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and I rather detected a note which alarmed me. It seemed to be that in the desire to produce uniformity amongst the steel workers, some of whom might have colliery facilities while others would not, the right hon. Gentleman proposed in his process of rationalisation rather to pull back those who had gone ahead than to speed up the laggards. I feel sure, although that was an interpretation that it was possible to put upon his words, he would have no real desire to adopt any such principle in practice, but I should be greatly relieved if we could hear two or three words from him assuring us that, if the Amendment be not pressed, the Board of Trade, when dealing with schemes which will come under its control, will bear in mind what we have in view, that you should not penalise industry for foresight but that, on the contrary, you should do everything you could to encourage it, and that rationalisation means helping the weaker and not penalising the stronger.


I cannot go as far as the last speaker. I am not prepared to delegate legislation, but I would urge the Minister not to leave the matter as he has left it. I cannot see why the Amendment should not receive further consideration. If the Bill is not entirely uniform, it does not matter at all to anyone. We have a concrete case and I should like to know why it cannot be provided for. We have the case of a steel works which owns a mine and supplies the coal necessary for its own purposes. I admit that to a certain extent it impairs the uniformity of the Bill if the right hon. Gentleman says it is to extend to every coal mine in the country, but I should like to know how the scheme of the Bill would really be interfered with by the Amendment. The coal does not come on the market and does not influence the price in any way. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to explain why a mine, none of the produce of which comes to the market, which does not compete in any other colliery and which will have to comply with regulations, can in any way mar the operations of the Bill. I may be densely stupid, but I fail to find any reason in anything the right hon. Gentleman has said to explain it.

Captain PEAKE

This is a very important matter, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman has failed to answer two very important considerations as regards these mixed undertakings. The two considerations are these: In a great many districts you have a few mixed undertakings, but their owners are everywhere in the country as a whole, and in every district, in a very substantial minority, whether it be South Wales, Durham or Scotland, of something like 10 to 1. The second consideration is that the interests of the owners of these mixed mines are directly and vitally opposed to those of the owners of all other mines, because if a mixed undertaking is a steel works, it is clear that, in so far as it cannot supply its own coal from its own mine, it has to go into the open market to purchase. The right hon. Gentleman says they will be able to get a separate quota for this class of coal. Coal that goes to a steel works will be classified as such, and they will be able to obtain a 100 per cent. quota. What chances have they, when they go to the executive board meeting and their representatives are in a huge minority, of getting a separate standard tonnage and a separate quota for this class of coal? None whatever. I suppose, if they failed to obtain one, the right hon. Gentleman would say their remedy is to go to arbitration. I do not know whether it is possible to go to arbitration on a question of that sort that there should be a separate quota for one class of coal, but even if it is, we all know the habits of arbitrators. They always try to arrive at some sort of compromise, and there is absolutely no guarantee that an arbitrator, say in Scotland, would come to the same conclusion on this vitally important matter as an arbitrator in South Wales.

This legislation is founded largely upon the Five Counties Scheme. That scheme gives a far greater measure of protection to the owners of mixed undertakings than is proposed by the Amendment. What happens is this: All coal supplied—it need not come from a mine owned by the owner of the steel works—for metallurgical coking is automatically external to the quota. That is to say, it suffers no percentage reduction of any sort, but is absolutely free of quota reduction. That ensures that steel works and iron works at all times shall have a perfectly free supply of coal for metallurgical coking. That is a fair greater concession to the owners of mixed mines than is proposed in the Amendment. After all, we know the history of the great German coal cartel. It has been in operation since 1893, and time after time it has been on the verge of breaking up, and all because of the difficulties between the mixed mines and the pure. That has been the trouble all along, and it is the trouble to-day. Although the German coal cartel is now in force by law, it is in very great difficulties owing to this question between the mixed mines and the pure. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to leave this vitally important question to be settled by a set of arbitrators, who may give a different decision upon completely different principles in all these 21 districts. I ask him, before we part with the Bill altogether, to put in some provision which will settle the principle upon which these mixed undertakings are to be dealt with.

7.0 p.m.


I find it very difficult to add to the explanation I have already given. In a scheme of this kind, which is to regulate all the output of coal, the only possible basis is one that is uniform, so far as we can possibly make it, provided we are satisfied that we have given rights or safeguards to separate classes of coal. I should have thought that a good deal of the argument of the hon. Member who has just spoken really is in favour of the Government's pro- posal rather than against it. My impression is that it is far more likely to get rid of a difficulty in what has been a very acute problem elsewhere. I am obliged to say, having spent a good deal of time with this proposal, that there does not appear to be any other way of dealing with it if we are not to be landed in very great difficulties in all directions, and, indeed, in hopeless anomalies as between individual pits and between individual steel works. The hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Burgin) asked what kind of view the Board of Trade would take, and I thought I detected underlying his speech, and indeed all the other speeches, a very natural fear regarding the iron and steel industry, or the depressed industries. The Coal Commission in 1925 pointed out that, unless these industries recovered, there was not much hope for an important part of the whole demand for coal, and accordingly there is a very strong incentive right away to the coal industry—and it remains to-day—to do the very best it can for iron and steel or for any other depressed industry. They must do that on uniform lines. The

Amendment is comprehensive in character, and hon. Members will observe that it says, in regard to standard tonnage, which is the essence of this problem from beginning to end: "Regard shall be had to the special circumstances of every coal mine." That might be held to bring in the coal mine within a mixed undertaking on the one hand and the coal mine perfectly free on the other. I cannot say what view the Board of Trade will take regarding every scheme submitted to it, but I can say, in general, that the special circumstances of those depressed heavy industries were very carefully kept in view and that provision was made for the special treatment, which I have described without going into what I regard as the scheme of this Clause and the inroad made on the regulations. I trust that with that further explanation hon. Members will agree that, however great the difficulty, we have met it in the most practical form in this Bill.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 224; Noes, 271.

Division No. 241.] AYES. [7.3 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Butler, R. A. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Butt, Sir Alfred Elliot, Major Walter E.
Albery, Irving James Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward England, Colonel A.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'L.,W.) Carver, Major W. H. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Castle Stewart, Earl of Everard, W. Lindsay
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Cautley, Sir Henry S. Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Ferguson, Sir John
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Fermoy, Lord
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Fielden, E. B.
Atholl, Duchess of Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Fison, F. G. Clavering
Atkinson, C. Chapman, Sir S. Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Christie, J. A. Fremantle, Lieut.-Cotonel Francis E.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Galbraith, J. F. W.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Ganzoni, Sir John
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Cohen, Major J. Brunel Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)
Balniel, Lord Colfox, Major William Philip Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Colman, N. C. D. Gower, Sir Robert
Beaumont, M. W. Colville, Major D. J. Grace, John
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Courtauld, Major J. S. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Bennett, Sir Albert (Nottingham, C.) Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Berry, Sir George Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Cranbourne, Viscount Greene, W. P. Crawford
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Bird, Ernest Roy Croom-Johnson, R. P. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Boothby, R. I. G. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Gulnness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Conliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Gunston, Captain D. W.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Dalkeith, Earl of Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Boyce, H. L. Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Bracken, B. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Brass, Captain Sir William Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Hammersley, S. S.
Briscoe, Richard George Davies, Dr. Vernon Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Hartington, Marquess of
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Haslam, Henry C.
Buchan, John Dixey, A. C. Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Buckingham, Sir H. Duckworth, G. A. V. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Eden, Captain Anthony Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Hope, Sir Harry (Fortar) Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Somerville. A. A. (Windsor)
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Muirhead, A. J. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Hurd, Percy A. Nicholson, Col.Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Iveagh, Countess of Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Oman, Sir Charles William C. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) O'Neill, Sir H. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Kindersley, Major G. M. Peake, Capt. Osbert Thomson, Sir F.
King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Tinne, J. A.
Lamb. Sir J. Q. Pilditch, Sir Philip Todd, Capt. A. J.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Power, Sir John Cecil Train, J.
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Ramsbotham, H. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Rawson, Sir Cooper Turton, Robert Hugh
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Reid, David D. (County Down) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Remer, John R. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Llewellin, Major J. J. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Reynolds, Col. Sir James Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Suey, Ch'ts'y) Warrender, Sir Victor
Long, Major Eric Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Lymington, Viscount Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Wayland, Sir William A.
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Ross, Major Ronald D. Wells, Sydney R.
Macquisten, F. A. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Salmon, Major I. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Withers, Sir John James
Margesson, Captain H. D. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Marjoribanks, E. C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Womersley, W. J.
Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Meller, R. J. Savery, S. S. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Wright, Brig.-Gen. N. D. (Tavist'K)
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Simms, Major-General J. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Mond, Hon. Henry Skelton, A. N.
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Marquess of Titchfield and Sir
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Smithers, Waldron George Penny.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Chater, Daniel Hardie, George D.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Church, Major A. G. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Clarke, J. S. Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Cluse, W. S. Haycock, A. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hayday, Arthur
Alpass, J. H. Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hayes, John Henry
Ammon, Charles George Compton, Joseph Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)
Angell, Norman Cove, William G. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Arnott, John Daggar, George Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Attlee, Clement Richard Dallas, George Herriotts, J.
Ayles, Walter Dalton, Hugh Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Day, Harry Hoffman, P. C.
Barnes, Alfred John Denman, Hon. R. D. Hollins, A.
Barr, James Dickson, T. Hopkin, Daniel
Batey, Joseph Dukes, C. Horrabin, J. F.
Bellamy, Albert Duncan, Charles Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Ede, James Chuter Isaacs, George
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Edmunds, J. E. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) John, William (Rhondda, West)
Benson, G. Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Johnston, Thomas
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Egan, W. H. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Bevan, Aneurln (Ebbw Vale) Forgan, Dr. Robert Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Bowen, J. W. Freeman, Peter Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.
Broad, Francis Alfred Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Kelly, W. T.
Brockway, A. Fenner Gibbins, Joseph Kennedy, Thomas
Bromfield, William Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Kinley, J.
Bromley, J. Gill, T. H. Kirkwood. D.
Brooke, W. Gillett, George M. Knight, Holford
Brothers, M. Gossling, A. G. Lang, Gordon
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Gould, F. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lathan, G.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Law, Albert (Bolton)
Buchanan, G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Law, A. (Rossendale)
Burness, F. G. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lawrence, Susan
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Groves, Thomas E. Lawson, John James
Caine, Derwent Hall. Grundy, Thomas W. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Cameron, A. G. Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Leach, W.
Cape, Thomas Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Charleton, H. C. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Lees. J.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sorensen, R.
Lindley, Fred W. Palin, John Henry Stamford, Thomas W.
Lloyd, C. Ellis Paling, Wilfrid Stephen, Campbell
Logan, David Gilbert Palmer, E. T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Longbottom, A. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Longden, F. Perry, S. F. Strauss, G. R.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Sullivan, J.
Lowth, Thomas Phillips, Dr. Marlon Sutton, J. E.
Lunn, William Pole, Major D. G. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Potts, John S. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Price, M. P. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Quibell, D. F. K. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
McElwee, A. Raynes, W. R. Thurtle, Ernest
McEntee, V. L. Richards, R. Tinker, John Joseph
Mackinder, W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Toole, Joseph
McKinlay, A. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Tout, W. J.
MacLaren, Andrew Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Townend, A. E.
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Ritson, J. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
McShane, John James Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Turner, B.
Mansfield, W. Romerll, H. G. Vaughan, D. J.
March, S. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Viant, S. P.
Marcus, M. Rowson, Guy Walkden, A. G.
Markham, S. F. Salter, Dr. Alfred Walker, J.
Marley, J. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Wallace, H. W.
Marshall, Fred Sanders, W. S. Wallhead, Richard C.
Mathers, George Sandham, E. Watkins, F. C.
Matters, L. W. Sawyer, G. F. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Maxton, James Scurr, John Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Melville, Sir James Sexton, James Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Messer, Fred Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Wellock, Wilfred
Middleton, G. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Welsh, James (Paisley)
Mills, J. E. Sherwood, G. H. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Montague, Frederick Shield, George William West, F. R.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Morley, Ralph Shillaker, J. F. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Shinwell, E. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Mort, D. L. Simmons, C. J. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Moses, J. J. H. Sinkinson, George Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Muff, G. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Muggeridge, H. T. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wise, E. F.
Murnin, Hugh Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Naylor, T. E. Smith, W. H. (Norwich) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Snell, Harry
Noel Baker, P. J. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Oldfield, J. R. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. B. Smith.

I beg to move, in page 6, line 40, to leave out paragraph (f).

This Amendment deals with the compulsory fixing of prices. Paragraph (f) is the paragraph which not only empowers but actually directs the district boards to fix minimum prices for every class of coal, and provides that no coal may, in any circumstances, be sold below that minimum price. This is the last opportunity the House will have of affording any protection to the consumer, and this is, by common consent of all critics, far and away the most damaging provision in the whole of a damaging Bill. Not only is it the most damaging provision, but it is a provision which is wholly unnecessary to the scheme of the Bill. The President of the Board of Trade has made out no case whatever for compulsory price-fixing. He has advanced arguments in favour of the quota. He has got the quota, and once he has the quota he has got all that he needs, as I propose to show. Not only has he got all that he needs, but the quota is less objectionable than the compulsory control of price, and for this reason. The limitation of output under the quota, at any rate, operates openly. Everybody can see what you are doing, they can see the amount of coal which is produced, and they can see whether the production is keeping pace with the demand. There are many other objections, but I do not think that supply is likely to lag behind demand, because, first, it will be plain how much coal will be needed and how much will be produced, and, secondly, it is to the interests of the coalowners to produce as much coal as they can.

Against a compulsory price ring, however, the public has absolutely no protection at all. It has no protection in this Bill and no protection by the nature of the case. Let me amplify that. In the first place, no rules whatever are laid down as to how price is to be fixed. The coalowners are given power to fix minimum prices on any standard that they like. We proposed Amendments on the Committee stage directing that these boards should have regard to certain obvious conditions as to efficiency and so on. The President of the Board of Trade refused to accept any of them, and today the Bill stands with this compulsory price-fixing power with no direction to the coalowners as to how prices are to be fixed. In the second place, there is no effective appeal for the consumer. You give an appeal in theory, but what standard is the appeal tribunal to apply unless you lay down the principle on which prices are to be fixed? What is the good of giving an appeal? If no standards are laid down, how are we to say the price is unreasonable? And unless it is outrageously unreasonable, no one would get relief.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) pointed out that the kind of case you are going to get is not where prices are outrageously unreasonable, but that kind of increase in price which will have no standard on which to base an attack and criticism. Over and over again the industrial and domestic consumers will, under this Bill, be suffering under, it may be, small but progressive and cumulative increases of price which would not have taken place but for the provisions which you have inserted. In any case, there will be endless delay. You give this theoretical appeal. It has to go to a committee of inquiry, and if there is a dispute it goes to the arbitrator, and then it comes to the Board of Trade. We had all this out on the Committee stage. It is plain that it will take months before the tribunal can come to any decision, and it is not going to be of much use to any consumer.

The consumer has no real protection under this Bill by any appeal, and he certainly has no natural protection. As distinct from most other commodities, the price is not necessarily controlled by demand, and, indeed, if you have a price ring of this kind it is not likely to be controlled by demand at all. Coal is a commodity which people must have. Industry must have coal and the domestic consumer must have coal. I know it is true that if you put the price outrageously high you may, to some extent, limit production, yet that will be by no very great amount. But for the bulk of coal which industry and the domestic consumer must have there is no natural protection in the matter of price. The consumer has to have coal, and, therefore, if you have a price ring of this kind, you can put up the price as high as you like. The only protection you have would be if some coalowner found it good business to sell more cheaply. But you stop him from doing that. You force every coal-owner into this price ring, and, subject to penalty you keep him there, so that not a coalowner in the country can sell any coal below the minimum price, however anxious he may be to do so.

Lastly, there is no effective competition from abroad. In other cases where you have a price ring you get an effective competition of imported articles coming against them, but coal is the one thing where you will not get such effective competition. As far as the consumer is concerned, he stands to lose all along the line. There is not a direction given in the Bill to protect him, and he has no really effective right of appeal. The Liberal orators were justified when they said that this was about the worst provision in the whole of the Bill. It will be interesting to see what action they take to protect the consumer. They said that they reserved all their rights on the Report stage and Third Reading. It is not only the consumer who is so badly hit by this provision. That fact would be bad enough; indeed, it would be a sufficient reason for cutting out the price control altogether. It cannot be said that this price control is necessary for the industry. It is dead against the interests of efficiency.

I listened very carefully on the last occasion to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade justifying price control. He really had only one argument to justify it. He said in effect, "I must have this compulsory price control, because even if I have got the quota, there may still be weak sellers, and I must compel everybody to come in and sell at the minimum price to avoid the weak sellers." What is creating weak sellers? It is the absence of the quota provision. That is the justification for the quota. He said. "I must have the quota, because there is a minority who might come in and undersell. He has got them into the quota. They can only produce the amount of the quota now. If you regulate production in this industry according to demand—and that is what you are going to do—where is the weak seller? No one is going to be a weak seller where the supply is only sufficient for the market to absorb. Weak sellers are created when there is a glut on the market, and someone comes in and sells cheaply. Your quota cuts that possibility out. There is no possible reason why we should have price control to avoid weak sellers when weak sellers are eliminated by the quota.

If you establish price control, you discourage efficient salesmanship. I do not think that the President of the Board of Trade will deny that fact. You are forcing everybody to sell at the same minimum price; nobody can sell below the minimum. You are fixing a minimum price for every class of coal. What encouragement is there to anybody to develop an efficient selling organisation if he is to be allowed no liberty to go in and be a keen seller and try and attract purchasers? We try to attract purchasers by varying prices and giving efficient services. There is every possible discouragement to the efficient salesman. You give, by this price fixing, a new and a wholly unnecessary vested interest to the more expensive pit. The quota gives a vested interest to every pit, however expensive that pit may be to run. That is bad enough, but you are not content with that. You come along and say, "Not only shall you have the vested interest of a quota, but of a minimum price at which you can sell at a profit."

A committee of owners which embraces the inefficient as well as the efficient is quite certain to fix prices at a level which will suit the inefficient and not that which will suit the efficient. You have to get the prices settled by agreement. We all know what the position is like if you meet round a board. The efficient man left to himself in keen competition will sell at a certain price, but all the inefficient people come along and say, "We really cannot make a profit at that price and shall not be able to pay wages. Put up the minimum price 1s. more." What will be the answer? The efficient man will say, "I am to have no freedom in this matter. I am already limited by quota, and sell a fixed amount, and I am sure of my market for the fixed amount. Well, put up the price so that it suits the less efficient; I shall make 2s. instead of 1s." Therefore, you tend to get prices fixed on a scale to suit the most inefficient producers. You stabilise your inefficient pit, by giving it, not only a quota, but an extra vested interest of a price at which it can make a profit. [An HON. MEMBER "And the more inefficient the better."] Yes, that is so.

Look again at the hopeless inelasticity of this proposal. Your keen seller to-day wants to be able to vary the price so as to suit his market and to capture business. The only way in which you can capture new business is by doing that. Are you going to allow him to do that? He is absolutely prohibited from doing that under the Bill. A minimum price is fixed for every class of coal. Nobody, however anxious he may be to capture a market, and however keen the competition, can go and sell below the minimum price of any grade of coal fixed by the committee, and from which he can have no escape until that committee meets again. I do not believe that there is any power under this Clause for a coalowner to deliver a big mixed consignment at an "all-in" price. Is there? If anyone in this business has a chance of delivering several classes of coal at a reduced price, can be do so under this Bill? I do not believe that he can. The price is fixed for every class of coal, and it is a penal offence to sell any class of coal below the fixed price. Can I quote the day after this Bill has become law an all-in price for 10,000 tons of coal? I do not believe that I can. I am sure I cannot. You are preventing it under this Bill. I put the question to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that he is going to find out. It may not be his intention, but what right is there under the positive and absolute provision of this Clause, which says that prices are to be fixed for every class of coal, to quote an all-in price?


There is a class of coal which is called unscreened coal, and that can be quoted as "all-in."


Of course, I know that. I am not talking about unscreened coal; I am talking about the Bill under which a price has to be fixed for every class of coal. I know that there are 30 or 40 different classes of coal produced at a single colliery. I know also that coal from the same seam is sold at one price at one colliery and at a higher price at another colliery, because it is a better type of coal. With 50 different prices for 50 different types of coal, a man is not going to break away, and say, "I am going to sell coal as unscreened coal and so come outside the provisions of the Act." He would soon be hauled up before the committee.

Let me put another question. You fix your prices for all the different grades of coal. Is it possible under this provision to quote a different price for a large consignment and for a small consignment of the same class of coal? I want to know. I am selling the same class of coal. Have I to quote at the same rate for 10,000 tons of this class of coal as for 100 tons? Apparently, under this Clause, I have. If that is the position, how fantastic it is to say, "Let us increase our sales and try to do more business and to get new markets." When you get a chance of securing a very big order, you cannot cut your price by a farthing a ton, in order to get the market. Is that the position or is it not? If it is not the position, let us observe what is the result. There is a limitless vista of varying prices. If you are to have the right to quote a different price for large and small quantities, you have to fix a schedule of minimum prices which covers every single grade of coal, and then you have to have another lot of prices for each grade of coal varying by the amount of coal you sell. It must be so under this Clause, if you are to have that right. You either have such a variation of prices that people will not know at what price they are Statute bound to sell or, if you have not that, you will have a lack of elasticity which will make it impossible for a man to conduct his business.

Let me put another point. You discourage efficient selling. You give a man no chance of having that elasticity of salesmanship which is so vital when you have something to sell. You prevent him from compromising with a client. One of the commonest things in this or any other business, where you are selling large quantities, is that some dispute over quality or over delivery occurs, or the market goes a bit wrong, and a claim arises and there is a dispute. If you want to conduct your business efficiently and to keep the goodwill of your customer, you compromise. You adjust the price and reduce it a little, thereby settling the claim and keeping the goodwill of your customer. What right have you to do that under this Clause? Under paragraph (f) you prohibit him from doing that. He would be selling his coal below the minimum price fixed for that grade of coal and, therefore, he is not only penalised in regard to the ordinary efficient elasticity of sale, but he is penalised in making a reasonable compromise of a claim brought against him. I do not believe that this price fixing could ever have had any place in any scheme designed by the President of the Board of Trade. I should be very interested to know where this compulsory price fixing came from.

You must have quick decision. You must be able to change the price quickly if you are to capture business. How would you be able to do that under this Clause? If people want to change the price they will have to go to the District Board, and the District Board will hear the case. How long will it take to get a decision from the District Board that the prices can be changed? If you want to do business efficiently you must be able to take that decision as you sit at your desk, change your price there and then, or lose your business. How long will it take to refer this question to the District Board? It is a thoroughly bad provision. My Liberal friends were right when they said that it was about the worst provision in the Bill. It is unnecessary in the Bill. You have the quota and you do not need this Clause for the purposes of the Bill. You are absolutely sacrificing the consumer. The consumer is left entirely unprotected by this Clause, and you are not even encouraging the industry. You are deliberately encouraging inefficiency in the industry if you insist upon this Clause.


I beg to second the Amendment.

As far as I can see, there will be very little power of changing the price of coal. If there is the power of arbitration, you can generally find out where the shrinkage is, but in this case, where the miners will get 88 per cent. of any profits made, 88 per cent. will go to the miners and the difference will go to the owners. That will put the man who is claiming for a reduction not in a very good position to pursue his claim. I was talking to one of my friends on the other side, who knows a great deal about the coal trade, and he informed me that the difference in price between a really efficient coal mine producing one class of coal and an inefficient coal mine producing the same class of coal, maybe in the same district, was 10s. He went on to say that the difference in price between the very best mine and the average mine was 5s. a ton. I hold that that is a very great margin. When these people come together and fix the prices, they may fix a low price or a high price. It is to the interests of the miners and the owners to fix as high a price as they can, so that there will be extra profits for the coal owner and extra wages for the miner.

We are, as far as I can see, going to have very high prices fixed for coal. I do not quite agree with my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, because I think there is a certain chance of varying the prices under this Clause, but it is going to be a variation upwards the whole time. The small consumer who has to buy a sack of coal at a time is the person who will be hit by this Clause. I hope that the Clause will be left out entirely. Certainly there ought to be some change made in the Clause. There should be no question of fixing prices. If you are going out for a big contract, every one of your costs is cheaper. You do not have the same trouble getting your contract, you do not have the same trouble in your office arrangements, or in your invoicing, or in arranging your railway or steamship freight. We all know well that when a big order is coming along it is going to pay you to cut right into the price. It will be a bad thing for the coalowner and the miner in an efficient mine if there is to be no chance of being able to cut the price.

This Bill is going to put up the price of coal to everyone. What is the good of the Chancellor of the Exchequer talking about a free breakfast table for the people, when the first thing that he does is to agree to the price being put up for the coal which will cook that free break- fast? It strikes me as absurd that the people who vote for dear coal are going to Lancashire, where the cotton trade is in a most, deplorable position, and are saying, "Yes, we have voted to put up the price of coal, so that your costs of production will go up more." How are we going to get foreign trade in that way? Because the miners have 50 Members in this House, they can get anything done.


Is it not time?


Are you going to do the same thing for the cotton trade? You cannot do it, because they have to live on their exports. If the. President of the Board of Trade would say, "I am going to bring in a Cotton Bill," I would say, "Bless you"; but I do not think that he will do it, because there are not 50 stalwarts of the cotton trade behind him. I do not think that he is going to try to do it. A great many hon. Members opposite will be very sorry that they have voted for this Coal Bill, because it is going to be heard of in every house and is going to be felt in every house, in the homes of the poor and the rich. People will say, "Who did this for us?" On the Second Reading of the Bill, when the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) asked, "Whose Bill is this?" we heard the beauty chorus reply, "The owners," but one of their Whips looked round and frowned upon them, and they then remembered that they were a Socialist party and that they had shouted out "The owners" at the wrong time. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will accept the Amendment. The Bill is not sound; that is what is wrong with it. It is stupid to fix definitely, even for a short time, the price of any commodity. There may be a demand and you may want to be able to sell your goods a little bit cheaper in order to get some foreign trade. If this Clause is put into operation it will make it harder to sell coal, and if it makes it harder to sell coal it will make it a great deal harder to pay to the miners the wages which we would like to see them get.


I support the Amendment, in a vain endeavour, I am afraid, to persuade the President of the Board of Trade to change his mind and to accept the Amendment. If he was a free agent in the matter, I believe he would be only too glad to meet us. Although he may not be very willing at the present time to meet us, the time will come, very shortly, when he will wish that he had met us on this occasion. When this matter was being discussed a few weeks ago in the Committee stage, the hon. Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) made some pertinent observations. We all agree that he speaks with very detailed knowledge of the trade. He put before the Committee a variety of circumstances which arise in carrying on the sale of coal in his particular area. If this Clause is to be accepted, it will make it almost impossible to carry on as before. He confessed that he was admitting the House to some of the secrets of the coal industry. The circumstances which he put before the House appeared to me and to many of my colleagues, who are not experts, as extremely reasonable and sensible. We hoped that the answer of the President of the Board of Trade would show how those difficulties would be met, but the points were never answered, because they were unanswerable.

My right hon. Friend who moved the Amendment referred to one of the circumstances, namely, that this Clause will make it almost impossible to settle some difficulty or grievance which must arise in this as in any other industry. If the price of coal is fixed, it will be impossible to keep the good will of your customer, to save going to the law courts, or to deal with the every day situations that arise in a business of this kind. Until the committee has met again, you have to lose the good will of your customer, and you are unable to settle the point, which, if this Amendment were accepted, could be settled in as many minutes as it would take months to settle otherwise.

There were no speeches to which I listened, or which I read in the OFFICIAL REPORT, made from the Liberal Benches on an earlier stage of the Bill, when they were more concerned with the price of coal than with the number of French cruisers, which impressed me more than those which dealt with this particular Clause. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) talked about fixation of minimum and maximum prices. When compulsory price fixing has been suggested by hon. Members opposite, it has always been in the nature of the compulsory fixing of a maximum price, and for the first time, I believe, in the legislation of this country we have a Bill which is fixing not a maximum price, but a minimum price. I think it is most foolish, unusual, and undesirable. There is this further argument against this Clause, that in future all grievances in the coal industry between the owners and the miners will be settled by a rise in the cost of coal at the expense of the public. If ever there was a case for the production of all those arguments, to many of which we have listened in this House on almost every possible occasion, against any form of Protection or Safeguarding, namely, that you are thereby subsidising and protecting the inefficient industry, it is against this Clause.

It has been the custom, if not in this country, in other countries, that whenever there have been grievances in an industry between employers and employed, or when there have been any difficulties in getting over a particular situation, those difficulties and grievances have been met by the simplest means in the world, namely, by raising the price of the commodity to the public. That is what must inevitably happen with the commodity of coal if this Clause is finally included in the Bill. This is the Clause which, more than any other Clause in the Bill, justifies the definition of the Bill so truly given to it by hon. Members on the Liberal Benches as the "Dear Coal Bill." I feel certain that if the President of the Board of Trade rejects this Amendment, no one in this House will more regret his action in the future than will those hon. Members who sit behind him.


As one who has been in business since a boy, and as one who has been in business on his own account, I rise to make a business man's protest against the regulation of production and the fixing of prices. I should like to ask any Member of this House who runs any business which produces something, if he would willingly conform to a rule which would limit his production and fix a price below which he would not he able to sell his goods. At the present moment the basic industries of this country are suffering terribly, because they are unable to compete successfully in the markets of the world. The crying need of the industries of this country to-day is for coal, plenty of coal, and cheap coal. Several remarks have come from the Government side of the House which show that they seem to think that by fixing price and production they are doing a good turn to the miners.


How many companies fix production now?


Any production that is fixed now is fixed voluntarily. The point I want to make is that some hon. Members opposite believe sincerely that when this Bill passes they will have won a great victory for the miners whom they represent. If any of the principles which I have applied to business all my life are true, I honestly believe that the principles of this Bill will in time do harm to the miners, depress the industry, and throw more men out of work, because if you limit production and fix prices, industry as a whole must go down. There is one argument which I have not heard used to-day, and it is this, that directly you fix the price of this article, the whole world will know it. You are giving away the minimum price below which you cannot sell coal, and that will put it into the heads of everybody connected with oil or any other competing form of fuel or power to look into their books and figures and see how they can compete and cut their prices, by however little, because they will know that the price of coal is fixed and cannot be reduced.

I was talking only the other day to one of the biggest oil people in the world, and he told me that there are many wells which are sunk and are just kept ready to come into production at almost a moment's notice, and that directly this price is fixed, and the oil people see the price at which coal can be sold, those wells are ready to come into production and to compete with coal for fuel and other purposes. The whole reason for this Bill is not an economic reason, but a political reason. That reason is that a thoughtless, theoretical promise was given to the constituents of hon. Members opposite, that if they came back to power, they would reduce the miners' working day by one hour. In order to do that, the President of the Board of Trade has had to resort to all kinds of devices, and I believe that he is getting deeper and deeper into the mire. It is a stupid thing to make prophecies in this House, but I confidently believe that if these principles are applied to the coal industry, they will make it even worse than it is to-day. Something has been said several times to-day about the Five Counties or the Nine Counties Scheme, and the other parts of England—


The hon. Member must not anticipate the Third Reading stage of this Bill, but must keep to the question of price fixing.


The question of fixing price does not apply so much to the Five Counties Area, where they only export 10 per cent. of their production, but the fixing of price will affect those areas where they export 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. of their production. I want to reinforce one point which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister). Supposing a colliery owner has an order for a certain class of coal, and that coal is raised, and in the sidings of the mine—this is not merely a supposition, but it has happened, I believe, on several occasions—and for some reason or other a liner has not arrived in port, or something goes wrong with some gasworks, and the big order cannot be taken for a week or 10 days. It is vital to that mine that the mine should continue to work, but it cannot be worked if the sidings are blocked. What is going to happen? Is the owner of that mine to keep his mine at work and the machinery going? Is he not to be able to ring up some coal factor and say, "I have got 10,000 tons of coal of which delivery cannot be taken, and to clear my sidings I am willing to take a reduced price"? That is a common thing that may happen in a business, and I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman if that owner will be penalised for cutting his loss and keeping his business going.

Another point arises as to price. Supposing a consignment of coal is sent away, and there is a dispute, will the receiver of the coal, if he is not satisfied with the quality or the quantity, be able to come to an agreement with the colliery owner to have a money arrangement to overcome the difficulty? I do not want to say that anyone will be dishonest over this in any way, but I can see a perfectly simple way of driving a coach and four through this Bill. If someone wants to buy coal at a reduced price, all that the colliery owner has to say is this, "I will deliver it to you nominally on the invoice at the fixed price, but you can make a claim, and we can arrange the matter afterwards." That would be perfectly simple. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is that ordinary business morality?"] No, but when a man is fighting to keep his industry going and is very hard pressed, it is extraordinary what tricks, what legitimate tricks—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear!"]—perhaps I should not have used the word "tricks"; but it is extraordinary what legitimate means a man will take to keep his business going in such circumstances. In conclusion, I should like to say that the fixing of price and production are two principles which are against all the canons of good business, and I support the Amendment.

8.0 p.m.


When my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers) was complaining of this statutory power being given to fix prices, I noticed that hon. Members opposite rather jeered at the mention of private firms. I think the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. W. Thorne) made a point of that. The party opposite have always been loudest in their complaints of the fixing of prices by private enterprise, and it was going to be one of their first duties when they took office to try and break up this price-fixing by trusts. Here you are not leaving it to a voluntary association of industries, but you are giving statutory powers to an essential industry to fix prices and to exploit the consumers. There is therefore no parallel between the two cases. Everyone will recognise this is the vital, dear coal part of the Bill, and we have certainly not had our views in any way changed by the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I am surprised that the Liberal party, who are in such small force here to-night, are not accompanying us in our condemnation of this Clause. I remember during the Second Reading Debate on this Bill, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) made as a great feature of his speech, an attack upon this Clause, and he quoted this passage from an article in the "Times." He said, quoting the words of Sir William Beverage, in the "Times": The industry is not simply to be left, but to be drugged, into remaining just as it is, and the difference between the present costs and prices is to be taken out of those consumers who cannot escape. They are to pay for the continued irrationalisation of coal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1929; col. 1308, Vol. 233.] That appears to me to be a very grave charge to bring against the authors of this Bill, because one of the great features which should have been in any coal Bill is an improvement in the marketing of the coal industry, and this fixing of prices is merely a stimulus to the coal-owners to do nothing. It is merely a drug to the industry not to stir itself to fresh endeavours. It is actually a stimulous to inefficiency, and, as such, we deplore it as not being a solution of the difficulties of the industry, but merely a device by which miners and owners in association can exploit the consumers as a whole. I understood the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, during the Committee Stage of this Clause, to contend that it was quite all right to leave the price fixing to the owners, because they would not be so unreasonable as to cut their own throats by diminishing the demand for coal. His party, however, do not apply that argument when they are considering the giving of powers to the Food Council. We find that they are charging the producers of food commodities with raising prices artificially, and many Members opposite are urging that powers should be given to the Food Council to restrict the prices of certain stable commodities of food. No one will deny that coal is as essential an article as food to every man and woman in the country. It comes into the cost of living of every domestic consumer and into the costs of every manufacturer in the country, and it is only upon the success of our manufacturers that we are able to carry on and maintain our standard of living. This Clause sets out deliberately to exploit the consumer in order to subsidise the coalowner and the miner.

There is one point, which did not occur to me before in the Committee stage, but which was brought out by the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) when he pointed out that the miners would get 85 per cent. of every increase in the price of coal and the owners 15 per cent. It occurred to me what a tremendous incentive this was to the miners to combine with the coal-owners to raise the price of coal. It does not matter to the miners at what price coal is sold, for they know that coal is an essential commodity in the life of the country. Lt is a protected industry, because there is very little competition from abroad. Therefore, you could raise the price of coal here without in any way diminishng the demand for it, except in so far as you might depress the industry in the markets of the world. You could extend it to an indefinite extent in this country, and you would not depress the demand here. If the miners, in combination with the owners, realise, as they do, and as hon. Members opposite do, that for every 5s. rise in the cost of coal the miner will get 4s. 3d. and the owner 9d., surely that is a direct incentive to this syndicalist monopoly to raise prices. A fact to be considered, and it is one of the great dangers which I see in this Bill, is that it has only been the influence, the paramount influence, of the miner Members of this House that has forced this Bill on a reluctant Government. That is a danger signal of which we ought to take notice. The miners' representation in this House is out of all proportion to their position in the country, and I contend that it is a great mistake to be in the position where the policy of the Government can be dictated to it by a section of the community.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Robert Young)

The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the matter now before the House.


I did not wish to depart from the Clause. What I was trying to do was to relate my argument to the price of coal. I would say, again, that not only is there this great mining interest in this House, which can subdue any outcry against the increased cost of coal, but there is also the direct incentive which the miners will get from any increase in the cost of coal. We have been told by the President of the Board of Trade that there is bound to be an increase in the price of coal. The right hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) said that miners had lived in the past under conditions which could not be tolerated and that the cost of the loss must fall on the community as a whole and not upon the miners. I have been dumb with astonishment at the attitude of the Liberal party on this Clause, which a few weeks ago they regarded as of so great importance. I am fully conscious that there is a Disarmament Conference in progress, and I hope that nothing that I say, or that my Friends on these benches say, will in any way interfere or detract from the ultimate success, or the possible success, of that great Conference. The hon. Members below the Gangway attached enormous importance to the deletion of this Clause at the time of the Second Reading Debate, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen said: I do not envy the hon. Members opposite, and in all parts of the House, who are keenly interested in the welfare of the poorer districts of this country and who honestly and sincerely spend their lives trying to improve the conditions of the poorer classes of our community. The cost of their living is a vital matter to them, and yet, again by Act of Parliament, you are likely to raise—you will raise—the price of coal and also of gas to the poorest of the population. If a Conservative Government had introduced these proposals I can imagine the fierce denunciation with which they would have been met. They would have been told 'You are creating a coalowners monopoly, with power to fix prices at their own will, prices which the poorest must pay.'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1929; col. 1308–9, Vol. 233.] That is what one of the leaders of the Liberal party said in the Second Reading Debate, and there has been nothing put into the Bill since which would alter the opinion he had formed at that time. We still stick to our opinion that the right hon. Gentleman was quite right when he said that this Clause was unnecessary—I do not think that this Clause is in any way necessary to the Bill as a whole. It will increase the price of coal to every member of the community. It will increase the price of gas and of electricity. I have had letters from my corporation in Bristol urging me to see what can be done to avoid an increase in the cost of electricity, which is owned by the municipality. The gas company are in the same plight. They have 100,000 consumers, of whom 50,000 take their gas by meter, and therefore may be deemed to be of the poorer class of consumer. Everyone of these will have the cost of his gas increased. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, even at this late hour, to give consideration to this vitally important point. I am sure, when we go to the country, we shall derive material benefit from the passage of this Clause; but I should hesitate to take such a mean advantage of the party opposite. I would urge Members below the Gangway, who were so vicious in their condemnation of this Clause on the Second Reading, to forget for the moment these high issues of statesmanship and to realise that the domestic problems which interest us to-day are not going seriously to affect the ultimate issues of the Naval Conference, and I would ask them to put principle before expediency and accompany us into the Lobby in voting for the deletion of this paragraph.


It was not my intention to intervene, but, after the attack made upon the miners by the hon. Member who spoke last, and in view of the extravagant language which he used in connection with the mining industry, I feel called upon to say a few words. It is true that at the last election, and even before, candidates and those connected with the miners' associations in the various districts had, in season and out of season, said that the miners were entitled to better wages than they are getting now. We have on all occasions said that, while the mineworkers were willing to undergo the dangers and the hardships of coal getting, we had the right to ask from the consumers of coal a price which would give the miner a reasonable wage. Wages in the mining industry to-day are exceptionally low. It is perfectly true that when a discussion takes place here on miners' wages we are told that there is a great deal of complexity regarding the miners' earnings and that the miners pay tickets are a sort of crossword puzzle. Having regard to the hardships and dangers of the industry, every mineworker in the country earns something in the nature of £8 per week, but unfortunately he gets only about 42s. There is no doubt that in the richest coalfields in the country there are thousands of mineworkers going home after a full week's work with less than £2.

When hon. Members talk about the price of coal they should have some regard to the poverty which exists in the various mining districts. All that this paragraph seeks to do is to fix the price of coal at the pit-head, and when the hon. Member talks about mineowners and miners sitting down together in order to mutually exploit the consumer, he does not know the coalowners. That argument assumes that the mineowners are mineowners only, but anyone who has any experience of the mining industry knows that they have more interests than those of the mining industry. This paragraph will not increase the price of coal to the figure which the hon. Member mentioned, 5s. per ton—


I did not mention any figure.


I am within the recollection of the House, and the hon. Member told us that this paragraph if it was carried, would mean an increase in the price of coal of 5s. or 6s. per ton—


I must protest against that statement.


I am not giving way.


On a point of Order.


There can be no point of Order in regard to a statement of fact; and the hon. Member says that he does not intend to give way.


The hon. Member is misquoting my statement.


Common courtesy demands that when an hon. Member wants to put a point, the hon. Member who is speaking should give way, but I am within the recollection of the House when I say that either consciously or unconsciously you made the statement that it would increase the price of coal at least 5s. or 6s. per ton.


Will the hon. Member allow me to tell him what I did say?


The hon. Member must allow the hon. Member who has been called to proceed, and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. T. Smith) must address the hon. Member for Bristol West (Mr. Culverwell) as the hon. Member and not as "you."


I beg pardon; but the hon. Member did make a statement that it would increase the price of coal unduly, and he went on to say that the miners and mineowners would mutually exploit the consumers to their own benefit. Surely we must have regard to this consideration, that if the price is increased considerably there is the possibility of losing markets, and the mine-owners are too shrewd to do that. The point I want to put is this: Have the mine workers in Wales or Scotland or Yorkshire a right to a fair wage? One of the reasons why wages are low is because there has been this cut-throat competition. Coal has been sold below economic prices, and the only thing we are asking is that coal at the pit-head shall be sold at a price which will give a reasonable wage. It is not use hiding the fact that those who represent constituencies where there are large bodies of mine workers expect from this Bill to see increased prosperity in the mining industry, and we are not asking anything unreasonable when we say that the pithead prices should be such as will guarantee a reasonable wage.

When we talk about pit-head prices, what do we mean? Coal is being sold in this City at 55s. and 60s. per ton. When coal goes up 3s. or 4s. a ton you hear no complaints. You hear the suggestion that it is going into the pockets of the mine workers, but, in fact, nothing of that kind has happened. In Yorkshire two months ago the average selling price of coal at the pit-head, which de-

termined last month's wages, was 13s. per ton, and out of that labour costs were 8s. 2d. and costs other than wages took more than 3s. In costs other than wages is included the payment to anybody who has anything to do with the supply of materials, royalties; and it left a profit of about 1s. 7d. per ton to the coalowner, except where there is a deficiency which will have to be dealt with industrially between two sides. If we get an increase in the price of coal at the pit-head of 1s. per ton it would at least give an advance in wages, if the deficiencies were out of the way, to 90 per cent. of the mine workers, and when this Bill becomes law and this paragraph operates, when prices are fixed, I believe that all the fears which have been put forward on this Bill will be proved to be unfounded. I am satisfied that the outside public would not complain if they had to pay 6d. or 1s. per ton more if they knew that the increase was going to provide better wages for the men in the mining industry. After the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Culverwell) and the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers) I did not want the Division to be taken without saying that we want to get a price fixed which will give us a better standard of life than we have to-day.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 262; Noes, 216.

Division No. 242.] AYES. [8.25 p.m
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Brothers, M. Dukes, C.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Duncan, Charles
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Ede, James Chuter
Aitchison. Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Buchanan, G. Edmunds, J. E.
Alpass, J. H. Burness, F. G. Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Ammon, Charles George Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Angell, Norman Calne, Derwent Hall- Egan, W. H.
Arnott, John Cameron, A. G. Forgan, Dr. Robert
Attlee, Clement Richard Cape, Thomas Freeman, Peter
Ayles, Walter Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston) Charleton, H. C. Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Chater, Daniel Gibbins, Joseph
Barr, James Church, Major A. G. Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)
Batey, Joseph Clarke, J. S. Gill. T. H.
Bellamy, Albert Cluse, W. S. Gillett, George M.
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff,Central) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R Gossling, A. G.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Cocks, Frederick Seymour Gould, F.
Benson, G. Compton. Joseph Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Cove, William G. Graham, Rt. Hon.Wm. (Edin.,Cent.)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Dagger, George Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Bowen, J. W. Dallas, George Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Dalton, Hugh Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Broad, Francis Alfred Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Groves, Thomas E.
Bromfield, William Day, Harry Grundy, Thomas W.
Bromley, J. Denman, Hon. R. D. Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Brooke, W. Dickson, T. Hall, G H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mansfield, W. Shinwell, E.
Hardie, George D. March, S. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Marcus, M. Simmons, C. J.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Markham, S. F. Sinkinson, George
Haycock, A. W. Marley, J. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Hayday, Arthur Marshall, Fred Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Mathers, George Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Matters, L. W. Smith, H B. Lees- (Keighley)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Melville, Sir James Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Herriotts, J. Messer, Fred Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Middleton, G. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Mills. J. E. Snell, Harry
Hoffman, P. C. Montague, Frederick Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Hollins, A. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Hopkin, Daniel Morley, Ralph Sorensen, R.
Horrabin, J. F. Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Stamford, Thomas W.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Mort, D. L. Stephen, Campbell
Isaacs, George Moses, J. J. H. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
John, William (Rhondda, West) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Strauss, G. R.
Johnston, Thomas Muff, G. Sullivan, J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Muggeridge, H. T. Sutton, J. E.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Murnln, Hugh Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Naylor, T. E. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Kelly, W. T. Noel Baker, P. J. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Kennedy, Thomas Oldfield, J. R. Thurtle, Ernest
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Tinker, John Joseph
Kinley, J. Palin, John Henry Toole, Joseph
Kirkwood, D. Paling, Wilfrid Tout, W. J.
Knight, Holford Panner, E. T. Townend, A. E.
Lang, Gordon Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Perry, S. F. Turner, B.
Lathan, G. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Vaughan, D. J.
Law, Albert (Bolton) Phillips, Dr. Marion Viant, S. P.
Law, A. (Rossendale) Pole, Major D. G. Walkden, A. G.
Lawrence, Susan Potts, John S. Walker, J.
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Price, M. P. Wallace, H. W.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Quibell, D. F. K. Wallhead, Richard C.
Leach, W. Raynes, W. R. Watkins. F. C.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Richards, R. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lees, J. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wellock, Wilfred
Lindley, Fred W. Ritson, J. Welsh, James (Palsley)
Lloyd, C. Ellis Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Logan, David Gilbert Romerll, H. G. West, F. R.
Longbottom, A. W. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Longden, F. Rowson, Guy Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Salter, Dr. Alfred Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Lowth, Thomas Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Lunn, William Sanders, W. S. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sandham, E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sawyer, G. F. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
McElwee, A. Scurr, John Wilson, J. (Oldham)
McEntee, V. L. Sexton, James Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Mackinder, W. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
McKinlay, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Wise, E. F.
MacLaren, Andrew Sherwood, G. H. Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Shield, George William Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
MacNeill-Weir, L. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
McShane, John James Shillaker, J. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Hayes.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Berry, Sir George Butler, R. A
Albery, Irving James Betterton, Sir Henry B. Butt, Sir Alfred
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'I., W.) Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Carver, Major W. H.
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Bird, Ernest Roy Castle Stewart, Earl of
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover) Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
Atholl, Duchess of Bovce, H. L. Cazalet, Captain Victor A.
Atkinson, C. Bracken, B. Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Blrm.,W.)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Brass, Captain Sir William Chapman, Sir S.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Briscoe, Richard George Christie, J. A.
Balfour, Contain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Cackerill, Brig.-General Sir George
Balniel, Lord Brown, Brig-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Cohen, Major J. Brunei
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Buchan, John Colfox, Major William Philip
Beaumont, M. W. Buckingham, Sir H. Colman, N. C. D.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Bullock, Captain Malcolm Colville, Major D. J.
Bennett, Sir Albert (Nottingham, C.) Burton, Colonel H. W. Courtauld, Major J. S.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Remer, John R.
Cranbourne, Viscount Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Croft, Brigadler-General Sir H. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Surly, Ch'ts'y)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hurd, Percy A. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ross, Major Ronald D.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Iveagh, Countess of Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-colonel E. A.
Dalkeith, Earl of James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Salmon, Major I.
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Kindersley, Major G. M. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Davies, Dr. Vernon King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Savery, S. S.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Dixey, A. C. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Skelton, A. N.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)
Eden, Captain Anthony Little, Dr. E. Graham Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Llewellin, Major J. J. Smithers, Waldron
Elliot, Major Walter E. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
England, Colonel A. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Long, Major Eric Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Everard, W. Lindsay Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Macquisten, F. A. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Ferguson, Sir John MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Fermoy, Lord Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Fielden, E. B. Making, Brigadler-General E. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Fison, F. G. Clavering Margesson, Captain H. D. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Marjoribanks, E. C. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Tlnne, J. A.
Galbraith, J. F. W. Meller, R. J. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Ganzoni, Sir John Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Todd, Capt. A. J.
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Mond, Hon. Henry Train, J.
Glyn, Major R.G C. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Gower, Sir Robert Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Turton, Robert Hugh
Grace, John Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Muirhead, A. J. Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Warrender, Sir Victor
Greene, W. P. Crawford Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(ptrsf'ld) Wayland, Sir William A.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Welts, Sydney R.
Gritten, W. G. Howard Oman, Sir Charles William C. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. O'Neill, Sir H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Gunston, Captain D. W. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Peaks, Capt. Osbert Withers, Sir John James
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Penny, Sir George Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Womersley, W. J.
Hanbury, C. Pilditch, Sir Philip Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Power, Sir John Cecil Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Sir Assheton Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Haslam, Henry C. Ramsbotham, H.
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd,Henley) Rawson, Sir Cooper TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reid, David D. (County Down) Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain Wallace.
Captain A. HUDSON

I beg to move, in page 7, line 5, at the end, to insert the words: Provided that the owners of coal mines shall not in respect of any coal sold or supplied by them, which is used, or intended to be used, for carbonisation or gasification, show any undue preference in the matter of prices in favour of such coal as against coal of the same nature and grade supplied to gas undertakers. When we pass legislation in this House, to control an industry, both as regards its method of production and the price at which it shall sell its product—as we are doing in the case of the coal industry—it is most important that we should take care in doing so not to influence unfairly another important industry. It seems to me that unless some such words as these are inserted in the Bill, we are likely to cause great hardship to one of the big industries of this country, namely, that which is concerned with the supply of gas and the by-products of gas. It is obvious that the President of the Board of Trade and the Government had no idea when this Bill was drawn up, that it should be used to allow coalowners to knock out their rivals in any part of the business in which they are engaged. There are two almost parallel concerns which are run by the coal industry and the gas industry respectively, in connection with the supply of coke. There is the coke supplied from the coke ovens, which are worked by the coalowners in direct competition with the by-product industry of the gas undertakings, which supplies, in addition to coke, tar pitch, and a number of other subsidiary products of that kind.

Curiously enough, the amount of coal carbonised by both the coal undertakings and the gas undertakings is almost identically the same, namely, 18,000,000 tons per annum. Unless some such words as these are put in, the scales will be heavily weighted against the gas companies. It is for that reason that this Amendment is being moved. There is already an advantage which the coke ovens get over the gas companies by legislation passed by this House, in that the coke ovens, being part of the coal mines and industrial undertakings, are de-rated under the Act passed during the last Parliament, whereas the gas companies, being public utility companies, are not so de-rated. Therefore, the gas companies start now under a disadvantage in supplying coke and the other byproducts, and, if such words as these are not put in the Bill I am afraid that they will often have a heavier handicap put upon them than they will be able to bear.

It is of the utmost importance that we should endeavour to keep down the price of gas. Gas is used to a great extent in industry throughout the country, and by the ordinary domestic consumer for both heating and lighting. During the Debate on the last Amendment, a quotation from one of the Leaders of the Liberal party, the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) was read on this very subject. He deprecated the fact that by the passing of this Bill the price of gas would be put up. I can assure the House that in urban and industrial constituencies it will be a very serious thing if the price of gas goes up to the domestic consumer and to industrial undertakings.

As regards the actual wording of the Amendment, the words "undue preference" occur in a phrase used in the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1854. so that I do not believe that there will be any difficulty in interpreting the worls, any more than there has been ever since that time. I hope that the Amendment will have the general support of the House, and I cannot see that the party below the Gangway can object to it. It may be that some other form of words would be preferable to the Presi- dent of the Board of Trade, but I hope that, when he comes to reply, he will make it quite clear that in a case such as this—and I have carefully excluded, anything which says that the price of different kinds of coal cannot be varied as between one consumer and another—in a case like this, where it is exactly the same coal used for exactly the same purpose, we shall see that the price is the same, so that one industry by means of Parliamentary legislation will not get an undue advantage over another.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will see his way to accept it. It is an extremely reasonable suggestion which is designed to see that gas companies are put on an equal footing with coal mines.


The Amendment raises the whole question, or a very large part of the question, of the public utility undertakings in this country and their relationship to this Bill, although it is true that reference has also been made to enterprises in which coal and public utility undertakings may be together in competition. During my Second Reading speech—for this Amendment was not moved in the Committee stage—I endeavoured to make it perfectly plain that the underlying object was to secure an economic price for coal, and that it was beyond all dispute—and we have always candidly recognised it—that certain classes of demand had in fact got coal for a variety of reasons at less than the economic price. These would be called upon to pay an economic price under this Bill.

No one has disputed that, very largely because of weak selling—for example, in Durham and in other parts of the coalfields—public utility undertakings—not only gas, but it may be others—have obtained coal, either at less than the cost of production, or at a price level which could not be regarded as strictly economic. I ought to tell the House that this matter was very carefully considered on representations made to me, not only by the National Gas Council, but also, so far, by undertakings engaged in railway, electricity, and other forms of effort. It is remarkable that railways have not pressed their criticism, and to the best of my knowledge, even the electricity undertakings have also disappeared from the field. It is true that gas undertakings, including municipal corporations which manufacture gas, have felt that they would probably be at a disadvantage under this Bill.

I have no desire whatever to be unfair to any particular kind of enterprise, but I must tell the House candidly that these public utility undertakings will be called upon to pay an economic price for the coal which they use, and I suggest that it is entirely in the national interest, apart altogether from considerations of elementary fair play, that they should pay such a price. These are regulated undertakings. It is true that they supply the raw material of various other industries, but they have enjoyed under Acts of Parliament for many years a virtual monopoly in the areas in which they operate, and, moreover, they have powers to pass on to the consumers additional charges with the various safeguards of a public utility concern.

In the case of electricity, there are most elaborate Regulations under the Act of 1919 and the Electricity Act of 1926, and, of course, railways are regulated from top to bottom under the legislation of 1921 with the form of a guaranteed return for a standard year under that legislation. These changes in the way of industrial regulation of public utility companies have been made gradually over a term of years, but the coal mining industry has remained unregulated and open to suicidal competition internally, and it is not in the national interest that weak sellers in the industry should continue to supply at unremunerative prices those who are in a position to pay a proper price for their coal and are willing to pay it, provided they are satisfied that the price is not unreasonable. Public utility societies have exactly the same form of protection as other consumers, first of all on the economic side of the coal industry, and secondly, in the machinery which is set up for the protection of consumers.

Inadvertently, I did not reply to the preceding Debate, because I had expected hon. Members opposite to rise to continue the discussion, and the question was put before I could intervene; but this much is relevant on this Amendment, as it would have been on its predecessor. It has been frequently suggested in the Debate that coal producers are to get unheard-of prices for coal, and that they will force up the price by shillings per ton. I have expressly refrained from putting any figure on the increase they have in mind, but I can say this to the House without a moment's hesitation, that they have never thought of anything of the kind, and in point of fact a very little increase in the pithead price—there will no doubt be an increase—will, they hope, be sufficient to put this industry on a proper basis. All the safeguards on the economic side apply to the demand from public utility companies in the same way as they do to any other class of demand; but if those public utility companies consider they are in any way prejudiced as regards price they have the right of recourse to an appeal, in the locality or it may be nationally, to the supervising committees; and beyond that there is the right of going to arbitration on the price. The arbitrator's decision is final, and he will take into account the question of whether there is anything unfair in the price that is asked.

I yield to no one—and certainly no colleague of mine would yield to anyone—in the desire to be perfectly fair and just to public utility enterprises, which, after all, are already largely regulated and much nearer to the principles of the movement represented on the Government side of the House than it is to the economic views held by hon. Members opposite, and we should be running counter to our whole outlook if we were in any way unfair to those bodies; but it is important that they should pay an economic price for coal, and it is beyond all dispute that in many cases they have paid less than that economic price in the past. In order that we may relieve a position which must be relieved I am afraid I could not accept this Amendment, and I am satisfied that the safeguards in the Bill are already adequate.

Commodore KING

May I say a word with regard to the remarks the President of the Board of Trade has just made about the fixation of prices, and his statement that he has always avoided giving any estimate as to what the increase in price was likely to be. I put it to him that the minimum price to be fixed has, quite obviously, to meet a certain number of definite claims. In the first place, it has to allow for the increased cost owing to the reduction of half-an-hour in the working time. In his speech on Second Reading the President of the Board of Trade quite fairly informed the House that it was calculated that the reduction of half-an-hour in the working time would increase the average cost of getting coal by 1s. 6d. a ton.


I know the right hon. and gallant Member will allow me to correct him on that point. That is a statement which has been frequently repeated. What I was careful to say on Second Reading was this, that in South Wales it was put as high as 1s. 6d., but I added that in other districts lower figures were mentioned with regard to the increase in working costs owing to the reduction of half-an-hour. I have always taken the view that these figures were subject to some qualifications. I have not disputed that there would be an increase in costs, and I mentioned that figure not as my figure but as a figure given by the industry.

Commodore KING

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. I am speaking only from memory, and have not the quotation from his speech before me on this occasion, but I have used it at least once, and I think twice, in debate when I had the copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT before me, and read out from it what the right hon. Gentleman had actually said with regard to an increase of 1s. 6d. a ton due to the reduction of half-an-hour. I accept his word, because I know he would not attempt to mislead the House in any way, but my recollection did not lead me to the conclusion that he was referring only to South Wales as regards that increased price. Anyhow, I do not wish to quibble about the actual words. It is admitted that there is bound to be quite a substantial increase in the cost of producing coal on account of the reduction of half-an-hour in the working time. Then there is a further increase which we consider is generally admitted, and that is that owing to the reduced Output—


The right hon. and gallant Member is getting away from the terms of the Amendment in discussing the question of an increase in price.

Commodore KING

I will not dispute your Ruling, Sir. The President of the Board of Trade made a definite statement in explaining why he was unable to make a statement on the previous Amendment, and I regret if I was in that way drawn into the question of price. There is no doubt there will be an increase in price, and I would have liked to go into it more fully, because it is a point which interests us very much, but I will pass away from that and address myself to the Amendment before us. I think the right hon. Gentleman has wholly mistaken the desire which is behind this Amendment, and in any case he has entirely failed to answer any of the points which have been put forward. He has spoken as though we were asking that coal for gas companies should be sold at a lower price than to other consumers. That is not so. All we are asking is that coal companies which are actual competitors of gas companies in so far as they have coke ovens, carbonise coal, and produce gas and other by-products. shall not be placed at an advantage compared with the gas companies. All we are asking in this Amendment, and it is a very fair request, is that where coal companies are actually selling coal for the same purpose for which that coal would be used if it were sold to gas companies, the gas companies shall not be placed at a disadvantage. The Amendment says: Provided that the owners of coal mines shall not in respect of any coal sold or sup, plied by them, which is used, or intended to be used, for carbonisation or gasification, show any undue preference. We are not asking for a lower prices but, if we do not have some provision of this kind inserted, we are loading the dice very heavily indeed against public utility companies. They have to buy their coal for the purpose of carbonisation and the manufacture of these byproducts, and in the manufacture of coke and these other by-products they are directly competing with colliery companies Which are doing similar work. It is very unfair that a coal company should be allowed to transfer coal for its own purposes of gasification to its own undertakings at a less cost than they are selling the same coal to the gas companies. What we are asking for is that the gas company should not be charged a higher price than those coal companies charge to their own undertakings. The right hon. Gentleman says that these public utility companies have paid too low a price in the past. That may be true, but we are not asking that they should have any undue preference, and we are simply asking that no undue preference should be given to the gas company.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the gas companies could pass on these increases to their consumers, but he omitted to mention that those powers which enable gas companies to pass on increased charges to their customers also restrict them to the extent that they must not increase their charges unless they decrease their dividends, and that puts them in a far worse position as against the coal companies which produce similar by-products. I know of quite a number of carbonisation plants in connection with collieries where they produce gas and sell it to the nearest municipal or gas authorities, and they are in that particular case obviously in direct competition with the gas companies. Consequently, if they are to be allowed to obtain their coal at a lower price than the gas companies themselves, it is very unfair. I merely wish to point out that the President of the Board of Trade seems to have entirely missed the point which we have raised, and if I have been in any way successful in making him understand the actual point, which is merely the question of competition between gas companies and colliery companies actually interested in the production of gas, then I shall have attained my object.


The point we are discussing has caused much uneasiness among gas producers on account of the discrimination which will be possible under this Measure. I have here a letter from the deputy town clerk of the City of Edinburgh in which he says: The Town Council at their meeting yesterday had before them a report from their Gas Committee recommending the Corporation to associate itself with the National Gas Council in the protest being made against Part I of this Bill. From statements which have been made in Parliament or have appeared in the Press it seems to be contemplated that in the fixing of prices a discrimination may be exercised against local authorities. If this is made possible the additional cost would form a burden falling upon all gas consumers in the city. My Corporation take the view that it is undesirable that in consequence of any statutory provision local authorities be placed in the position of paying for coal more than other purchasers or consumers are required to pay. That raises the issue in a precise form, and there appears to be very reasonable grounds for believing that there will be discrimination. I will give one more small illustration in the form of a quotation from a very able speech delivered by Mr. Archer, the vice-chairman of the West Yorkshire Coalminers' Association and the Central Collieries Commercial Association. In dealing with price fixing and speaking against the raising of the price to the whole of the consumers, he was speaking in the hope that there might be a lower price for the consumers, and he said: It will be generally conceded for example, that the price of house and domestic coal is, perhaps too high; but gas and electricity works, which have, for a long period been buying coal at less than cost and making handsome profits by transforming it, to the displacement of coal itself, into heat and power, can afford, without any hardship, to pay a fair price. Domestic and house coals have been carrying an undue burden which rightly belonged to certain branches of industry. When, therefore, gas and electricity coal prices have been raised to an economic level, it should be possible to reduce house coal prices. 9.0 p.m.

I do not want to discuss the household price, but it is obvious from that argument that those running the Five Counties Scheme are obviously looking forward to the time when they will be able to fix prices in a way that will discriminate against gas and electricity works, and I do not think that ought to be possible. May I point out that the President of the Board of Trade, in replying to a previous Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Northern Midlothian (Major Colville) in regard to steel works, said that he could not accept that Amendment because it would lead to discrimination. Now the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to give power under this Clause to those who have charge of the price fixing arrangements to discriminate against any particular kind of undertaking which they think can afford to pay the extra price. I think the President of the Board of Trade should think twice about this matter because, in my opinion, there is a great deal of common sense underlying the argument which has been used by the hon. Member below the Gangway in regard to this matter.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD

The President of the Board of Trade seems to have completely misunderstood the meaning of this Amendment. This proposal does not mean that gas undertakings want to be supplied with coal at an uneconomic price. All they ask is that they should be treated on the same terms as carbonisation plants owned by colliery undertakings. It seems to me that it would be grossly unfair if gas undertakings, which are public utility companies, should be compelled to pay more for their coal than undertakings which compete with them in regard to many of the by-products which they produce. Coke ovens and low carbonisation plant produce coke, benzole, and many other by-products which are sold in competition with the similar products produced by other companies.

The President of the Board of Trade said that the public utility undertakings have power to pass their increased cost on to the consumers. That is quite true, but every increase they make in the price of gas means a decrease in the dividends and it does not require a large reduction for the dividends to disappear altogether. That may not be a serious state of affairs, but, if they are not making profits, they will not be able to put anything aside for reserve, and, if they are not paying dividends, they will not be able to go into the market for fresh capital with any chance of success, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to keep their plant in proper working order and extend, as they will have to do with building estates developing and to be developed all over the country.

Gas companies have not had too easy a time during the past 20 or 30 years. They have been faced with very severe competition from electricity. It was said freely not so many years ago that gas undertakings were doomed, but that has not proved to be the case. Thanks to good management, they have not only turned the corner, but are carrying on satisfactorily. They must be given every encouragement and every facility. They are perfectly prepared to pay the full economic price for the coal which they use, but they do think it right, that they should be allowed to purchase at the same price at which the colliery owners are prepared to sell to the undertakings which they themselves are running. If they are not allowed to do this, the balance will be weighted very heavily against the gas undertakings, and that must in the long run have, I will not say a disastrous effect, but at any rate a very unsatisfactory effect on gas undertakings throughout the country.


The argument which was put forward by the President of the Board of Trade that gas companies and undertakings were obtaining their coal at an unduly low and uneconomic price has been amply answered by the late Secretary for Mines and by succeeding speakers, and, therefore, I will not pursue that point, except to express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will either make some concession on this Amendment or will give his reasons for thinking that no undue preference will he given against the gas undertakings. The right hon. Gentleman also indicated the possibility of passing on to the consumer any increase in the cost of gas that might ensue from dearer coal. There is that possibility, but I would point out what is the position of small gas undertakings, both those of public companies and those of municipal bodies, in small country towns and rural areas. These small undertakings, generally speaking, have had a very struggling existence, and the passing on of increased charges by them to the consumer very often has the effect of causing consumers to give up consuming gas, because there are alternatives both in lighting and in heating in these rural areas.

A rise in the price of gas is going to affect very much the poorer class of consumers. This House has always had consideration for the humbler consumer, and I would point out that the humbler folk, the poor, depend very largely on gas for their lighting and heating, and, therefore, any increase in the price of gas is going to press very heavily on a large number of poor homes. That is especially the case in rural districts. Further, there is liable to be hardship on users of coke if the price is going to be increased. A considerable number of industries of all kinds, more especially in rural districts—the industries of the farmer, the market gardener, and others—depend on coke. These are not very well-to-do businesses, and, if there is going to be a rise in the price of coke, due, not to the fact that they have had advantages in the past, but to the giving of an undue preference to the coalowners, it will inflict very considerable hardship on industries which are springing up in the rural districts—cultivators under glass, market gardeners and so on. It seems to me very possible that these small gas companies in rural areas may have to charge more for their coke as well as for their gas if they are pressed upon in this way. For all these reasons I very strongly support this Amendment.


With the permission of the House, I should like to say a word or two in reply to the speeches which have been made on this Amendment. I should be sorry if I in any way misunderstood the Amendment, but I think I had the position in regard to this part of the case very clearly before me, because it is distinguished from the general wider problem of the public utilities, and is confined to that class of supply which goes to a municipal authority or to any other undertaking manufacturing products which are manufactured to some extent—it may be a large extent—by the colliery undertaking itself. I gathered, however, from the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment, that he had the whole question of public utilities in mind, because later he very clearly indicated that that problem was raised.

As regards the question of competition between a colliery undertaking engaged in this class of supply and an outside body, whether a municipal authority or anything else, I could not, of course, agree that anything would be gained by inserting in the Bill these words about undue preference, because, unless I am mistaken in the position, and I do not think I am, that would rank as a class of coal being supplied for that, purpose, and the minimum prices are fixed for various classes of coal, and classes are defined as related to destination as well as to qualities of coal and the rest. I should think that that is the protection, and that in point of fact there will be no desire to discriminate in that way; but even if there were, there is the right of appeal, as I have already pointed out, through these committees of investigation, and there is the further right to arbitration. That is the situation as I understand it under that part of the hon. and gallant Member's case.

Commodore KING

Before the right hon. Gentleman finishes, may I put to him this point? He said that coal can be put in a class as to the direction in which it is going to be used, but that is our whole point. What we are afraid of is that coal for public utility companies manufacturing gas would be put in a class of destination, and that the price would be put up as against that class to a higher figure than in the case of coal sold to other colliery undertakings engaged in making gas.


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised the wider issue. It is perfectly true that coal would be classified under this Bill as regards destination, but it does not follow that there will be any abuse as regards price in connection with a practice of this kind, and I do not anticipate any difficulty as regards undertakings competing in various classes of products in the manufacture of which the colliery undertakings are themselves engaged. They have their rights of recourse to the committee of investigation, and beyond that to arbitration, both on the narrower specific point and on the wider question of the public utility undertaking. The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) raised what is in reality the whole question. He quoted a resolution of the Town Council of Edinburgh, no doubt for the purpose of terrifying me, as an Edinburgh representative and as a former member of that corporation who is familiar with its views. That resolution, however, was in what I suppose the lawyers would call common form. It arrived from all parts of the country, and I think it is based upon an attack on the whole question of regulation.

I have discussed this matter with leading representatives of the industry. They press their views very strongly, as they are entitled to do, but I do not think they would dispute the validity of coal getting an economic price, and, if that desire is fulfilled, the public utilities are only brought into line with every other class of demand, and they are not prejudiced if the industry chooses, by its organisation, to get a proper price for its coal. The right hon. Gentleman used the words discriminating against public utility undertakings. There is no discrimination against them in the Bill. There is no discrimination against anyone. All we have in view is an economic price for the commodity. If there is not an economic price for the commodity, there is very grave discrimination against the coal industry, and it is that form of adverse discrimination which we seek to remove by the Bill. I suggest that the safeguards are already complete and, for these reasons, I could not incorporate the Amendment into the Measure.


Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to prevent discrimination? He says the Bill does not enable discrimination to take place, but does he intend to prevent it? I do not mean discrimination against a colliery, but is there to be one price for one group of undertakings and a different price for another for the same coal? Is that possible?


I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman has been present, but under the Bill coal can be classified by grade and destination and all the rest. All that is provided in the legislation.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question whether discrimination is intended to be prevented by the Bill?


In the sense of unfair discrimination certainly, yes, but hon. Members have really pushed beyond that point. Elsewhere, the argument has been used that there is a discrimination against public utilities.


There may be.


Of course, under any scheme there may be discrimination, but machinery exists for dealing with that if it is practised. All I have ever admitted regarding the purpose of the Bill is the desire to get an economic price for coal as regards public utility enterprise. Nothing more than that is intended. If that shades into discrimination in the sense of abuse, machinery for dealing with it comes into play.


Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the scheme provides that? When he approves a scheme, will he make a declaration in the scheme that there shall not be the unfair discrimination of which we are afraid?


I cannot make declarations in the various schemes, but this I can do, that in the approval of schemes, which are matters of enormous detail, as the right hon. Gentleman must be aware, by the Board of Trade we shall do everything in our power to see that every device is provided against discrimination. That is our whole desire, and it is the desire of the industry itself, because it is the last of its intentions to be constantly before the committee of investigation. The very opposite is the desire of the whole industry.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say it is not intended that a public utility as such shall be asked to pay more for its coal than anyone else?


It is quite impossible for me to say that because a public utility undertaking is expected to pay an economic price for coal.


Are not other consumers expected to pay an economic price?


Certainly. An economic price is intended. There is provision for the sale of certain classes of coal at certain rates. To that extent, that is a modification, but, generally speaking, an economic price is the intention of the Bill.


The right hon. Gentleman suggests that perhaps I have not been present at some of the Debates. In the Committee stage I had an Amendment raising the point, but, by one of the privileges of the Chair, it was not called. We understand that coal has under some circumstances been sold at an uneconomic price level. No one wishes that to continue. If public utilities or any other users of coal have in fact been procuring their coal at uneconomic prices, no real friend of the coal mining industry would desire that that should continue. What astounds us when we hear the right hon. Gentleman's answer is that apparently it is intended, not merely to have an economic price level for all users, but that there should be reserved some power to weight the dice as against public utilities. We shall be very relieved when the right hon. Gentleman in clear terms tells us there is no desire to retain power in the Bill somewhere to charge public utilities more for their coal. When that question is clearly answered in the negative many of our fears, which are genuinely and widely held, will disappear.


As far as I can understand, the right hon. Gentleman is afraid of the Amendment for this reason. The Movers maintain that it is quite possible that, under the Bill as it stands, there will be two prices for gas coal. There will be the one price for the actual mineowners who can make gas or make coke, and there will be another price at which these same coalowners will sell coal either to public utility or to other gas companies for the purpose of making coal gas. The right hon. Gentleman says that is not so. The Amendment lays down perfectly clearly that there should not be two prices but that coal sold for the purpose of making it into gas of the same nature and grade as supplied to gas undertakings should be supplied at the same price. All the Amendment does is to lay down what the right hon. Gentleman maintains is already in the Bill. I am not concerned whether they are private gas companies or public utility companies. The whole thing remains for any manufacturer of gas, whether it is a private company or a public utility company.

The right hon. Gentleman laid down earlier that, whatever happened, you must have one price for your coal for a particular purpose. As an illustration he said you could not differentiate in the case of a man who actually made his own steel from his own coal without it passing through a middle man. We say that there should be no preference given in the manufacture of gas because it does not go through a middleman. That is of real importance. There is no complication about it, and there is no sort of superfluity of words about it. It does not hurt the Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman has been able to find no fault in it in reality. I should have thought that in these particular cases it would do no harm to the Bill to put in two or three lines which would explain and make one part of it clear. After all, there is no particular reason why, like the curate's egg, this Bill should not have one little bit of good in it. It is pretty rotten; why not have this one Amendment included?


I should not have risen at all to take part in the Debate were it not that I was asked to do so by the Corporation of Bristol. I feel still mare urged to say a few words by the very unsatisfactory replies which the President of the Board of Trade has given as to discrimination against a public utility company. I have a letter from the Corporation of Bristol which, having referred to the fear that there will be unfair discrimination as regards the price of coal as against gas and electricity undertakings, goes on: As owners of a large electricity undertaking the Bristol Corporation would be averse to any such discrimination and, therefore, I should be glad if you would consider whether you could support an Amendment to prevent that. The right hon. Gentleman certainly has not allayed the fears on this side that there is going to be a set made against such public utility companies. There is one reason why it is possible that there will be a set against them, and that is that the effects of any increase in the price of coal on public utility companies will not be followed directly by the closing down of the industry but can be directly passed on to the consumer. The effects will only gradually percolate through and affect the community as a whole, whereas, if the right hon. Gentleman increases the price of coal to commercial undertakings, the cost of production will immediately rise and the effect will be felt in the result it will have in competition. If the right hon. Gentleman applies it only to public utility concerns, the effects will be immediately recouped by the concern itself from the consumer, and its ultimate effects will be very gradual and will not be immediately noticed. I do urge upon him, in view of the fears aroused by several statements he made in the earlier stages of the Bill and by his suggestion that public utility companies have been getting coal on the cheap in the past and that he is determined that in the future they shall be made to pay a bigger price, that he should do something to allay these fears—he certainly has done nothing in response to the appeals of my hon. Friends below the Gangway, to allay the fears that there will be discrimination against public utility companies—and to assure us that there will be no attempt to recoup the losses of the coal industry out of the consumers of gas and electricity in the country as a whole.


I should be very sorry if there was a slight misunderstanding of the point having regard to the great importance of these public utility undertakings. There is no question at all of a set being made against them. They are far more powerful organisations than the coal industry and to make a set against them would be quite impossible. In reply to the hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Burgin), I made it perfectly clear that the only object, as far as I understood it, was to get an economic price for coal, and there is no question of discrimination. As regards an economic price, the hon. Gentleman agrees with me, and, if that is the state of affairs, the, matter should be cleared.


I should not have intervened were it not for the statements made by Members on the benches opposite. I want to endeavour to prove that, if the passing of the Bill ultimately increases the price of coal to those persons engaged either in gas production or electricity, those industries are in a position to pay whatever slight increase there may be in the price of the coal now being supplied to them.


This Amendment does not deal with the application of the increased price of coal generally. It deals with a suggested discrimination of price as regards the supply of coal to gas companies for the production of gas.


I am endeavouring to prove to the House that the condition of the industries to which reference is made is not such a poor one as compared with the mining industry.


That point does not arise on this matter. The point raised is the supposed discrimination in price to gas undertakings.


I want to refer to the statement made by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown).


The hon. Gentleman must take my Ruling, and, if he is going to deal with the increased price, it must be strictly upon the Amendment before the House.


If it was in order for an hon. Member to suggest what will be the effeot on particular commodities, is my hon. Friend not in order now?


It was impossible for me, until I heard the word "electricity" introduced, to know that there was any suggestion of a general application to public utility companies. This Amendment deals specifically with the production of gas, or, in the word of the Amendment, carbonisation, or gasification, and consequently it does not apply to utility companies outside the scope of the Amendment.


The hon. Member ended with a quotation of what was said by Mr. A. W. Archer.


Yes, the hon. Member used that quotation as leading up to the point under discussion. The conclusion of the quotation was in direct reference to the point under discussion.


I am submitting that there was another point in the speech which destroyed the case that the hon. Member endeavoured to put to the House. The person to whom he referred also made this statement: According to the Board of Trade figures relating to all authorised gas undertakings in Great Britain for the year 1928, the profit on revenue account for the rear, exceeded £7,000,000 and for the year 1928–29—


That is not the point under discussion.

I have already told the hon. Member that the point is the discrimination in the price of coal to gas undertakings.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 268.

Division No. 243.] AYES. [9.36 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Everard, W. Lindsay Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Albery, Irving James Ferguson, Sir John Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l.,W.) Fermoy, Lord Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Fielden, E. B. O'Neill, Sir H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Fison, F. G. Clavering Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Peaks, Capt. Osbert
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Gaibraith, J. F. W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Atholl, Duchess of Ganzoni, Sir John Pilditch, Sir Philip
Atkinson, C. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Power, Sir John Cecil
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Glyn, Major R. G. C. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Gower, Sir Robert Ramsbotham, H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Grace, John Rawson, Sir Cooper
Balniel, Lord Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Granville, E. Remer, John R.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Berry, Sir George Greene, W. P. Crawford Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Surly, Ch'ts'y)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Gunston, Captain D. W. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bird, Ernest Roy Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ross, Major Ronald D.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-colonel E. A.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Russell, Alexander West(Tynemouth)
Bracken, B. Hanbury, C. Salmon, Major I.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Harbord, A. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hartington, Marquess of Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Briscoe, Richard George Haslam, Henry C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Savery, S. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newby) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan, John Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Skelton, A. N.
Buckingham, Sir H. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Butler, R. A. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Carver, Major W. H. Hurd, Percy A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Iveagh, Countess of Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Blrm.,W.) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Kindersley, Major G. M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Chapman, Sir S. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Christie, J. A. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Colfox, Major William Philip Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Thomson, Sir F.
Colman, N. C. D. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Tinne, J. A.
Colville, Major D. J. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Courtauld, Major J. S. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Train, J.
Cranbourne, Viscount Little, Dr. E. Graham Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Llewellin, Major J. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Locker-Lampoon, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Long, Major Eric Warrender, Sir Victor
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Wayland, Sir William A.
Dalkeith, Earl of Macquisten, F. A. Wells, Sydney R.
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. {Hertford) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Davies, Dr. Vernon Marjoribanks, E. C. Withers, Sir John James
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Meller, R. J. Womersley, W. J.
Dixey, A. C. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Mond, Hon. Henry Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Eden, Captain Anthony Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Elliot, Major Walter E. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Captain Margesson and Sir George
England, Colonel A. Muirhead, A. J. Penny.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bentham, Dr. Ethel
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Barnes, Alfred John Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Barr, James Bowen, J. W.
Alpass, J. H. Batey, Joseph Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.
Ammon, Charles George Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Broad, Francis Alfred
Angell, Norman Bellamy, Albert Brockway, A. Fenner
Arnott, John Bennett, Captain E.N.(Cardiff,Central) Bromfield, William
Attlee, Clement Richard Bennett, William {Battersea, South) Bromley, J.
Ayles, Walter Benson, G. Brooke, W.
Brothers, M. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Kinley, J. Romeril, H. G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Kirkwood, D. Rosbotham, D. S. T
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Knight, Holford Rowson, Guy
Buchanan, G. Lang, Gordon Salter, Dr. Alfred
Burgess, F. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Lathan, G. Sanders, W. S.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Law, Albert (Bolton) Sandham, E.
Calne, Derwent Hall- Law, A. (Rossendale) Sawyer, G. F.
Cameron, A. G. Lawrence, Susan Scurr, John
Cape, Thomas Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Sexton, James
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lawson, John James Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Charleton, H. C. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Chater, Daniel Leach, W. Sherwood, G. H.
Church, Major A. G. Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Shield, George William
Clarke, J. S. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cluse, W. S. Lees, J. Shillaker, J. F.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shinwell, E.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lindley, Fred W. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Compton, Joseph Lloyd, C. Ellis Simmons, C. J.
Cove, William G. Logan, David Gilbert Sinkinson, George
Daggar, George Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Dallas, George Longden, F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Dalton, Hugh Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lowth, Thomas Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Day, Harry Lunn, William Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Dickson, T. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Dukes, C. McElwee, A. Snell, Harry
Duncan, Charles McEntee, V. L. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Ede, James Chuter Mackinder, W. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Edmunds, J. E. McKinlay, A. Sorensen, R.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacLaren, Andrew Stamford, Thomas W.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Stephen, Campbell
Egan, W. H MacNeill-Weir, L. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Forgan, Dr. Robert McShane, John James Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Freeman, Peter Mansfield, W. Strauss, G. R.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) March, S. Sullivan, J.
Gibbins, Joseph Marcus, M. Sutton, J. E.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Markham, S. F. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gill, T. H. Marley, J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Gillett, George M. Marshall, Fred Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Gossling, A. G. Mathers, George Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Gould, F. Matters, L. W. Thurtle, Ernest
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Melville, Sir James Tinker, John Joseph
Graham, Rt. Hon.Wm. (Edin.,Cent.) Messer, Fred Toole, Joseph
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Middleton, G. Tout, W. J.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mills. J. E. Townend, A. E.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Montague, Frederick Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Groves, Thomas E. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Turner, B.
Grundy, Thomas W. Morley, Ralph Vaughan, D. J.
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Viant, S. P.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mort, D. L. Walkden, A. G.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Moses, J. J. H. Walker, J.
Hardie, George D. Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Wallace, H. W.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Wallhead, Ritaard C.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Muff, G. Watkins, F. C.
Haycock, A. W. Muggeridge, H. T. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Hayday, Arthur Murnin, Hugh Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hayes, John Henry Naylor, T. E. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wellock, Wilfred
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Noel Baker, P. J. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Oldfield, J. R. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Herriotts, J. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) West, F. R.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Palin, John Henry Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Paling, Wilfrid Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hoffman, P. C. Palmer, E. T. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hollins, A. Perry, S. F. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hopkin, Daniel Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Horrabin, J. F. Phillips, Dr. Marion Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Pole, Major D. G. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Isaacs, George Potts, John S. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Price, M. P. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Quibell, D. F. K. Wise, E. F.
Johnston, Thomas Rathbone, Eleanor Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Raynes, W. R. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Richards, R.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. William
Kelly, W. T. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Whiteley.
Kennedy, Thomas Ritson, J.

This Amendment is purely drafting and consequential on an Amendment moved earlier.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 8, line 18, at the end, to insert the words: (o) for requiring the executive board to consider forthwith at any time any request made by the owner of a coal mine in the district for the reduction of the minimum price fixed for any class of coal in that district. This Amendment is on similar lines to the Amendment which appears on the Order Paper earlier—in Clause 2, page 4, line 45, at the end, to insert the words: (j) for requiring the council to consider any request made to it at any time by an executive board for a district for the increase of the district allocation of all districts or of any district. In that case we were considering the Central Board and the question of the right of representation upon a district council in the case of anyone being dissatisfied with the allocation of the quota, and desiring that it should be altered. The present Amendment seeks to provide that where the owner of a coal mine in a district is dissatisfied with the fixation of a minimum price, he may make application to the Board to consider forthwith the reduction of the minimum price. The District Board having decided to fix the minimum price, it is not outside the bounds of possibility, indeed it is probable, that a situation may arise somewhat suddenly, and without any preparation, in which the fixation of that minimum price is acting detrimentally to the best interests of the mines in the district, and certainly in the view of one or more owners.

The Amendment seeks to give to the owners the right to bring forward and to argue their case as to the desirability of altering the fixed minimum. We have heard on more than one occasion during the Report stage and during the previous stages of the Bill that circumstances were not unlikely to arise in which the minimum prices had been fixed to operate for a fixed period, say, six months, and after two or three months they might be found to be inoperative or inapplicable, because certain other conditions had meanwhile altered. The Bill provides no facilities for the owner who is dissatisfied with a situation like that, although he may perhaps find that, on account of the cast-iron fixation of price, he is unable to get a contract, and his failure to do so will re-act detrimentally to the employés. Therefore, we wish to give him the quickest channel of communication with the Executive Board which has fixed the minimum price, so that he may have his case argued.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will accept this Amendment. We hope that there will be a good many coal-owners with sufficiently patriotic ideas to take advantage of the Amendment. If the President of the Board of Trade does not accept the Amendment, it will mean that the coalowners will not have the power if they so wish to go to the council and say that they wish the prices to be reduced. It is essential that whenever necessary the prices should be reduced. The cotton trade will be very much affected and as I take a great interest in the cotton trade I am anxious that everything possible should be done to keep down the price of coal, it is the motive power of the cotton industry and other industries. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment so that the coalowner can come forward and say, "I am making a big profit and I should like to get the prices down so that—[Interruption]. Yes, the coalowners are trying to bleed the rest of the country, of the profit that is made, the miners will receive 88 per cent. and the coalowners 13 per cent, while on the other hand the cotton people are in a very much worse state than the coalowners or coal miners have ever been. Why are the people who run iron and steel and cotton and other textile industries to be detrimentally affected. They will be able to say to those who voted for this Bill, "We sent you to Parliament and you have put up the price of coal to make our employment less certain."


I hope to be able to satisfy the two hon. Members who have moved and seconded the Amendment, and also the House, that this Amendment is unnecessary, and that what the hon. Members have in mind is already covered. In the Clause which lays down the minimum price fixing, provision is made for meet- ing the situation which has been pointed out, and I have not the least doubt that the district schemes will provide the machinery which can act immediately where there is any question of a contract or prices being involved. My hon. Friends suggest that it should be specified in the Bill that it is the duty of the Executive Board in any district, under a district scheme, to consider a request by an owner for the reduction of the minimum price. That is plainly part of their duty at the present time. When the scheme comes into force, any owner will be able to make immediate application for reconsideration of the minimum price schedule. No doubt there would often be agreement within the district on the subject, but if the Executive took the view that the minimum price for that class of coal could not be reduced and that the circumstances did not necessitate that, or that it would be unfair to the industry, they would resist the suggested reduction, and the matter would then go to arbitration.

In normal cases of the kind that the hon. Members opposite have in mind there will be full provision in the schemes for immediate action. It seems to be suggested that these rates would be for certain periods and could not readily be altered. I cannot pledge myself or the Government to the details of every district scheme, but I can say, with perfect safety, that the owners are going to use all the elasticity that they have at the present time for the purpose of conducting this business. The object is not to sell less coal but to sell more coal, if we possibly can. There will be in the district schemes provision for meeting the kind of difficulty that has been suggested. The words of the Amendment are unnecessary. I am advised that it is undesirable to add unnecessary words to an Act of Parliament, because they lead to difficulties in other directions which are already complicated.


I hope that my hon. Friends will press the Amendment. We have had an answer from the President of the Board of Trade which I do not think is satisfactory. He says that the Amendment is unnecessary within the terms of the Clause, because there will be quick consideration of these cases. That is not so. Under the price-fixing Clause there are these words: (f) For the determination at such time and for such periods as may ho decided in accordance with the provisions of the scheme of the price below which every class of coal produced in the district may not be sold or supplied. What happens under that paragraph? The minimum prices are fixed for a period of time. Very soon afterwards, some owner, more efficient than his neighbours, more far-sighted, and more keen to do an expanding business, says, "I can sell more cheaply and increase my output, and I want to have this minimum price reviewed." What right has he got? He has no right under paragraph (f) as it stands, because this minimum price is to hold for whatever period the district board have fixed. When the right hon. Gentleman says he can go ro arbitration if they do not agree, how long will that take? That is altogether the wrong spirit. You do not want to put an efficient coalowner in the position of having to fight long arbitrations against the others. What you want to get in this scheme is very quick-working elasticity, by which the proposal of an efficient coalowner will receive immediate consideration. There is no guarantee, under the Bill as it stands, that it will receive such consideration.

The only other argument that the President of the Board of Trade advances is that the district schemes will give some measure of elasticity. How do we know? We moved an Amendment in Committee that these district schemes should come before the House, and that we should consider them, but we are not going to have that opportunity. They are going to be approved by the President of the Board of Trade, and, therefore, I think it is absolutely essential, as we are committed to price-fixing, unfortunately, that we should get whatever avenue of relief can be opened to the efficient coal-owner to get a quick determination in his favour of any attempt that he may make to sell a little more cheaply instead of a great deal more dearly.


May I make a suggestion to the President of the Board of Trade? On a number of occasions we have been assured by the right hon. Gentleman that these matters would be dealt with by the schemes, but we do not know what those schemes are. We are really handing over this legislation to a committee of the coalowners, tempered by the Board of Trade, and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should, in a Schedule to the Bill, set out the terms of some model schemes. He shakes his head, but he has before him a number of schemes, and he could put in a Schedule to the Bill a model scheme or two. There could be provision for allowing some variations on the authority of some body nominated, say, by the Lord Chief Justice—some absolutely independent body.

I suggest to hon. Members opposite who are interested in trades other than the coal trade that the time has really come to insist on having some control over the price of coal in this country, because, as I say, the matter is being handed over to price-fixing rings of coalowners under no control except that

of the Board of Trade, and if we may judge by the lack of success with which our attempts to amend this Bill are met, the President of the Board of Trade is very much in the hands of the coalowners. I suggest, therefore, that the proper course is that, as many other Bills embody specimens of schemes intended to be carried out, there is no difficulty whatever in the right hon. Gentleman setting out in this Bill one or two model schemes and letting us see what the proportions are going to be, with some provision for variations when they are necessary, and so forth.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 206; Noes, 268.

Division No. 244.] AYES. [10.0 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Croom-Jahnson, R. P. Hurd, Percy A.
Albery, Irving James Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l.,W.) Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Iveagh, Countess of
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Dalkeith, Earl of Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Kindersley, Major G. M.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.
Aske, Sir Robert Davies, Dr. Vernon Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Atholl, Duchess of Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Atkinson, C. Dixey, A. C. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Duckworth, G. A. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Eden, Captain Anthony Little, Dr. E. Graham
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Edmondson, Major A. J. Llewellin, Major J. J.
Balniel, Lord Elliot, Major Walter E. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. England, Colonel A. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Beaumont, M. W. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Long, Major Eric
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Everard, W. Lindsay Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Ferguson, Sir John Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Fermoy, Lord Macquisten, F. A.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Fielden, E. B. MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.
Bird, Ernest Roy Fison, F. G. Clavering Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Making, Brigadler-General E.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Galbraith, J. F. W. Marjoribanks, E. C.
Bracken, B. Ganzoni, Sir John Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Meller, R. J.
Brass, Captain Sir William Glyn, Major R. G. C. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd.
Briscoe, Richard George Gower, Sir Robert Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Grace, John Moore, Lleut,-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Buchan, John Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Buckingham, Sir H. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Muirhead, A. J.
Butler, R. A. Greene, W. P. Crawford Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Carver, Major W. H. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Castle Stewart, Earl of Gunston, Captain D. W. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. O'Neill, Sir H.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Peake, Capt. Osbert
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Hammersley, S. S. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hanbury, C. Pliditch, Sir Philip
Chapman, Sir S. Harbord, A. Power, Sir John Cecil
Christie, J. A. Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Sir Assheton
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Haslam, Henry C. Ramsbotham, H.
Colfox, Major William Philip Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Colman, N. C. D. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Colville, Major D. J. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Remer, John R.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Cranbourne, Viscount Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Llndsey,Gainsbro) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Ross, Major Ronald D. Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Warrender, Sir Victor
Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wayland, Sir William A.
Salmon, Major I. Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South) Wells, Sydney R.
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.- Colonel George
Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Thomson, Sir F. Withers, Sir John James
Savery, S. S. Tinne, J. A. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Womersley, W. J.
Skelton, A. N. Todd, Capt. A. J. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Train, J. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Smith-Carington, Neville W. Turton, Robert Hugh
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Southby, Commander A. R. J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Captain Margessor and Sir George
Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wardlaw-Milne, J. S. Penny.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Forgan, Dr. Robert Lindley, Fred W.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Freeman, Peter Lloyd, C. Ellis
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Logan, David Gilbert
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Gibbins, Joseph Longbottom, A. W.
Alpass, J. H. Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley) Longden, F.
Ammon, Charles George Gill, T. H. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Angell, Norman Gillett, George M. Lowth, Thomas
Arnott, John Gossling, A. G. Lunn, William
Attlee, Clement Richard Gould, F. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Ayles, Walter Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) McElwee, A.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) McEntee, V. L.
Barnes, Alfred John Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mackinder, W.
Barr, James Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McKinlay, A.
Batey, Joseph Groves, Thomas E. MacLaren, Andrew
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Grundy, Thomas W. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Bellamy, Albert Hall, F. (York. W.R., Normanton) MacNeill-Weir, L.
Bennett, Captain E.N.(Cardiff,Central) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) McShane, John James
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mansfield, W.
Benson, G. Hardle, George D. March, S.
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Marcus, M.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hastings, Dr. Somerville Markham, S. F.
Bondfleld, Rt. Hon. Margaret Haycock, A. W. Marley, J.
Bowen, J. W. Mayday, Arthur Marshall, Fred
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hayes, John Henry Mathers, George
Broad, Francis Alfred Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.) Matters, L. W.
Brockway, A. Fenner Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Melville, Sir James
Bromfield, William Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Messer, Fred
Bromley, J. Herriotts, J. Middleton, G.
Brooke, W. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Mills. J. E.
Brothers, M. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Montague, Frederick
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Hoffman, P. C. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hollins, A. Morley, Ralph
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Hopkin, Daniel Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Buchanan, G. Horrabin, J. F. Mort, D. L.
Burgess, F. G. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Moses, J. J. H.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Isaacs, George Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Calne, Derwent Hall John, William (Rhondda, West) Muff, G.
Cameron, A. G. Johnston, Thomas Muggeridge, H. T.
Cape, Thomas Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Murnin, Hugh
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Naylor, T. E.
Charleton, H. C. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Chater, Daniel Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Noel Baker, P. J.
Church, Major A. G. Kelly, W. T. Oldfield, J. R.
Clarke, J. S. Kennedy, Thomas Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Cluse, W. S. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Palin, John Henry
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kinley, J. Paling, Wilfrid
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kirkwood, D. Palmer, E. T.
Compton, Joseph Knight, Holford Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Cove, William G. Lang, Gordon Perry, S. F.
Daggar, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Dallas, George Lathan, G. Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Dalton, Hugh Law, Albert (Bolton) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Law, A. (Rosendale) Pole, Major D. G.
Day, Harry Lawrence, Susan Potts, John S.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Price, M. P.
Dickson, T. Lawson, John James Quibell, D. F. K.
Dukes, C. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Rathbone, Eleanor
Duncan, Charles Leach, W. Raynes, W. R.
Ede, James Chuter Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Richards, R.
Edmunds, J. E. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lees, J. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Egan, W. H. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Ritson, J. Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Wallace, H. W.
Roberts, Rt.Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich) Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Wallhead, Richard C.
Romeril, H. G. Snell, Harry Watkins, F. C.
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).
Rowson, Guy Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Salter, Dr. Alfred Sorensen, R. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Stamford, Thomas W. Wellock, Wilfred
Sanders, W. S. Stephen, Campbell Welsh, James (Paisley)
Sandham, E. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Sawyer, G. F. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe West, F. A.
Scurr, John Strauss, G. R. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Sexton, James Sullivan, J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Sutton, J. E. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Sherwood, G. H. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Shield, George William Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Shiels, Dr. Drummond Thurtle, Ernest Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Shillaker, J. F. Tinker, John Joseph Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Shinwell, E. Toole, Joseph Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Tout, W. J. Wise, E. F.
Simmons, C. J. Townend, A. E. Wright, W. (Rotherglen)
Sinkinson, George Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Turner, B.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Vaughan, D. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Viant, S. P. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley) Walkden, A. G. William Whiteley.
Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Walker, J.

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. WISE and other hon. Members: In page 8, line 18, at the end, to insert the words: (o) For the collection by the executive board from the owners of coal mines in the district of levies imposed upon them at such times and for such periods as the executive board thinks fit in proportion to the output or disposal of their respective coal mines in the district or to the profits arising from the ownership of their respective coal mines in the district for the purpose of compensating mineworkers who may temporarily or permanently be deprived of their employment by reason of the closing down of coal mines in the district on account of the operation of this Act, or of contributing to a fund for the provision of pensions at the age of sixty for which such mineworkers are eligible.


With regard to the Amendment on the Paper standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise), I have considerable doubt in my mind as to whether it is within the scope of the Bill. I have definitely decided that, at any rate, the last two lines from the word "Act" are entirely outside the scope of the Bill, but I am prepared to allow the hon. Member to put his case as regards the first portion of the Amendment down to the word "or" in line 8, and I must judge as he proceeds whether that is within the scope of the Bill.


I beg to move, in page 8, line 18, at the end, to insert the words: (o) For the collection by the executive board from the owners of coal mines in the district of levies imposed upon them at such times and for such periods as the executive board thinks fit in proportion to the output or disposal of their respective coal mines in the district or to the profits arising from the ownership of their respective coal mines in the district for the purpose of compensating mineworkers who may temporarily or permanently be deprived of their employment by reason of the closing down of coal mines in the district on account of the operation of this Act. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker, for your assistance in the matter. This Amendment follows the lines of an Amendment put down on the Committee stage which was ruled out of order for very much the same reason, namely, that it was outside the scope of the Bill. But the Amendment has now been re-drafted so as to bring it within the scope of the Bill, and I hope you will find that it satisfies your requirements. It proposes to repair a remarkable and notable omission in the general structure of this Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to reorganise and rationalise the coal industry. The quota Clauses were justified to us on the ground that they would work because in the case of big firms the quota would be used for the more efficient mines, and that the other mines would be closed down. In the case of a small firm it was claimed, and it was not disputed, that its effect would be that they would sell their quotas to the largest firms and close down. To make assurance doubly sure, at a later stage of the Bill a whole series of Clauses was introduced, on the initiative of the party below the Gangway, for securing, by direct pressure, the amalgamations of mines for exactly that purpose. The whole intention of the amalgamation Clauses is to make it possible more efficiently, and as quickly as possible, to close down the inefficient mine. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) said that the economies were very difficult, if not impossible, in the matter of production, unless you closed the pits.

Everyone is aware that the effect of that must be to put thousands of men out of work deliberately in order to make the industry more efficient, and in order to make the industry more profitable to the coalowners. Indeed, it would be fair to say that the whole scheme of the Bill is a bribe to force the coalowners to rationalise their industry. I do not want to argue the rights or the wrongs of rationalisation. There is no doubt at all that there are many industries in this country which require reorganisation and rationalisation, but it is an entirely new principle in legislation that such a process should be deliberately forced by the will of this House. We on these benches say that if the House adopts that principle, and I think it will have to do it in the case of other industries, the House must take the responsibility for some of the effects of that on the men who will suffer immediately, perhaps permanently, by that process. How can you expect trade unionists and workers generally in the mining industry, and in other districts and industries if it be extended, to co-operate in a process whose direct purpose is to put the employers in a position to make larger profits and to throw the whole burden of that process on the unfortunate workers, generally the older workers, who will thereby be squeezed out of industry?

The view that it is desirable, not only in human interests, but in the interests of the general public, honestly to make special provision for such men is no new one. The Secretary for Mines, I am sure, is familiar with this particular problem, which was discussed at great length in the conference with which his name and that of Lord Melchett are now associated. That conference, representing leading trade unionists and leading progressive employers of labour, came to the conclusion that rationalisation in the circumstances of the country was necessary, that it should be carried on in consultation with the trade unions, and that special provision should be made for the immediate victims of rationalisation. In their report, published last year, that conference recommended that just as firms make provision by special reserve funds for depreciation of plant and the provision of new machinery in case it is necessary to change the organisation and equipment of their industry, in the same way they should make provision by a special reserve fund, a labour reserve fund, for compensating those workers who may be forced out of employment by schemes of reorganisation.

That was the proposal put forward and agreed to unanimously by both sides in that conference, and when employers themselves are prepared to agree to that principle it is difficult for this House and this Government, a Labour Government, to refuse to agree to so reasonable, so human, and so sound a principle from the general economic point of view, and from the point of view of getting these great changes in industry, which we all admit must be made, being made with the least possible disturbance and the greatest measure of good will. Moreover, in some industries by some employers the principle has already been put into operation. In the Committee stage of this Bill the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. T. Smith). in a very interesting and notable speech, drew attention to this point and told us of firms in Yorkshire that had already done it. In the flour milling industry, in which the process of rationalisation had been undertaken within the last few months, the flour milling employers have definitely set aside a fund for this precise purpose, and, as a matter of fact, in the profession with which I am familiar, and with which right hon. Members on the Front Bench are familiar, the Civil Service, whenever a civil servant is deprived of his post because of reorganisation, or for any other reason which makes his post redundant, he is entitled under a Treasury Minute and under the Superannuation Act to special compensation for loss of office.

In the Mining Industry Act of 1927 there are a whole series of Clauses providing compensation for debenture holders and bond holders of every kind of stock in case of amalgamation, and visualising what we know always takes place in such circumstances, the provision of compensation for directors and managers and other higher officials of companies who may be deprived of their posts. This is no new conception. It is a mere extension to the actual workers of a principle which has long been recognised in the professions and in regard to the higher paid hierarchy of industry. We feel that it is reasonable and proper that this principle should be embodied in the Bill. It may be said that the words we have drafted do not cover the point adequately. We are not bound to these words, and if the Attorney-General or the President of the Board of Trade prefer others we are perfectly prepared to agree to them if the principle is accepted.

It may be said that we are differentiating between workers who are deprived of their employment by the operation of this Bill and workers who have been out of work for a long time on account of other reasons. In this Bill we can only deal with the workers who are rendered unemployed by the Bill. We wish we could deal on similar lines with the whole problem, and if we require the mine-owners in setting up schemes under this Clause, which have to be approved by the Board of Trade, to make provision for workers who will be squeezed out they may come to the conclusion, I hope they will, in consultation with the miners' trade unions that the right course would be to make a much more comprehensive scheme on the lines of a pension scheme contemplated in words which cannot be inserted in the Bill, but which would be well within the power of the mineowners, under which the situation might be relieved by an earlier pension for workmen who are squeezed out of industry at the age of 60 or upwards. If it cannot be done, if the President of the Board of Trade tells me that he has such and such an arrangement with the mineowners, and that it would be impossible to go back on the arrangement which he has made—though he has made very many changes in these arrangements during the proceedings on the Bill—at any rate, perhaps he can carry this matter in mind, or tell us that he has the intention of dealing on a more comprehensive scale with the workers who are squeezed out of industry or who cannot be reabsorbed into industry, by means of a general pensions scheme applying at the age of 60 and over. It is well known to Members of the House that such matters have been under his consideration.


The hon. Member is now dealing with that portion of his Amendment which I have definitely ruled out of order.


I was proposing an alternative but of course I entirely defer to your ruling, Sir. My purpose, in moving the Amendment, is to draw attention to a point which seems to me of fundamental importance, not only in connection with this Bill, but in connection with other proposals which will come before the House. We on this side are constantly urging that if rationalisation is to proceed, it must proceed on lines which carry goodwill to the workers, and which give fair protection and proper safeguards to the workers' interests. All the more is that important when rationalisation is started is accelerated or is enforced by Act of Parliament, and all the more important when the responsibility for it rests on a Labour Government.


I beg to second the Amendment.

As the Mover has pointed out, we have spent a considerable time discussing the problem of industrial rationalisation, but, as far as I know, this is the first Amendment which has raised the question of the proper treatment of the workers affected by that process. I read with considerable interest the other day, speeches delivered by hon. Friends of mine who sit on this side of the House, in which they pleaded eloquently that the claims of the workers should receive primary consideration in connection with a problem of this kind. This afternoon we have been discussing the effect of this Bill on the owners, and, in the course of the discussions on the Bill since it was introduced, various Amendments have been urged on the Government with the object of seeing that the displaced owners are provided for adequately.

We had a very learned discussion this afternoon which had as its object the safeguarding of utility societies under the operations of this Measure when it becomes an Act of Parliament; and, on other occasions, we have had attempts to safeguard the interests of exporters under this legislation. But, somehow or other, as far as I can remember, we have not had a single discussion, having as its object the protection of the displaced workers. Why should that be? We have been told in the public Press and in public speeches that Britain is to be saved by this policy of industrial rationalisation. Why should it be the workers to whom we should address the advice that the process must necessarily be favourable—like the dentist's operation, I suppose—but that when it is over, the condition will be much happier than it would have been without the operation.

The only way in which this process can be made less painful to the worker is to see that the worker is adequately compensated for the loss which he personally suffers through the operation of the system that is being applied to industry. There is no use in merely saying that the worker should not be the only person to suffer. The worker is bound to suffer unless it is arranged that he should earn more money. Generalities and sentiments carry the working-class no further. Provision must be made for these workers to have sympathy expressed in hard cash. I remember a question addressed on this subject to the Prime Minister, and the reply was in words to the effect that they would have the benefits of ordinary social insurance. I submit, with all due respect to my leader, that that does not meet the case at all. The ordinary social insurance was designed to deal with temporary unemployment in industry, but we are legislating for mass unemployment.

I could take hon. Members to districts in South Wales and elsewhere, where it is not a case of 10, 20 or 30 per cent. of the workers being thrown out and maintained by the insurance fund to which the remainder and the owners and the State would continue to subscribe, but a case where whole districts will be closed down. If that is not so, then the Debates that have taken place in this House have had no meaning, no knowledge, and no effect. That being the case, we meet with the situation that we and we only have created. There is no use in saying that we see a good time corning over the hills in the districts in South Wales. What we are dealing with here is not a period of temporary illness, but a state of seni- lity, for just the state in industry that a man is in when he is between 70 and 80 years of age. We are arranging for a funeral in many of the colliery districts. The ordinary social insurance does not apply to it.

Just think what it means. Whole families will be rooted up from localities in which probably they have resided for generations. There will be not merely the displaced miner, but his children who are partially educated and who may have to go hundreds of miles before they can be replaced comfortably in industry. It means an enormous expenditure for these poor people, and the very districts which will be most badly hit by the operation. of this policy of industrial rationalisation are those which have been necessitous areas for the past eight or nine years. Therefore, are we asking anything unreasonable, particularly from a Labour Government, when we ask that the working class should have their case considered here in the same spirit that would be applied to an equal number of men if they belonged to the middle and upper classes? We are not asking for anything unreasonable, and therefore I hope we shall get from all parts of the House, and particularly from this side of the House, an expression of our opinion, in no uncertain voice, that industrial rationalisation should not be made a painful process for the workers, but that the State, wanting to bring about this new condition in industry, should be prepared to pay the displaced workers for the sufferings they must undergo.


It is impossible for anyone familiar with the circumstances of this industry not to sympathise with the object which my hon. Friends have in view. The broad facets are that during the War very large numbers of men were attracted to the industry, or had to join the industry, and that after the War, and more particularly with the depression that has taken place, 200,000 have lost their employment and, I am bound to say, have little prospect of regaining it, a fact which has been accepted substantially by the Miners' Federation itself and by others familiar with the problem. The Clause on the Paper does not, however, touch the men who have lost their employment in the course of that depression, but is directed to the numbers who will be displaced under these schemes, particularly under the first part of this Bill, which deals with marketing, and also, as I understand, under the amalgamations provided for in a later part of the Bill.

It is very difficult to say what will be the displacement due to the combination of these circumstances, but I think my right hon. Friend is surely wrong in stating that whole districts will be left derelict, so to speak, because of this Bill. To begin with, if the hours of work are shortened and if we maintain the existing volume of output in the industry there must be a certain addition, even if it is no more than a limited addition, to the numbers employed; but, against that, the conditions regulating output and the compulsory amalgamations will operate on the other side, and it may be that with concentration of the industry into a rather smaller number of producing units a number of men will be displaced permanently so far as coal production is concerned.

We do not dispute and, indeed, it is everywhere recognised, that in certain industries, and in certain occupations under local authorities, provision has been made, where districts have been amalgamated, for compensation to be paid to those who have lost offices and employment; and with the exclusion of the last two lines of the Clause, it is loss of profits or loss of occupation which is before us in this connection. Neither I nor my hon. Friends deny the hardship, and we yield to no one in our desire to try to avert it as much as possible, but I am bound to point out that I do not think we could do what is asked within the scope of this industry itself. Over a large part of the coalfield to-day the position is not one of prosperity, recovery will be slow and laborious, and there will be immediate charges upon the industry arising out of the better conditions to be provided for working miners; and accordingly, in my view, this problem will have to be dealt with over a larger field, covering not only coal, but other industries, where we could have a much larger source of funds. In other words, the principle of insurance would inevitably have to be applied. In that way I should like to see the problem faced, and, so far, it is under consideration, but I am not in a position to-night to express any view of the Government upon it. I can only say that we recognise what has been said on this point. It is a question which, in our view, ought to be dealt with on more comprehensive lines, and I shall always use what influence I have to that end. I do not think I need to say any more, because this is a question of very great difficulty, and I ask my hon. Friend not to press his Amendment.


Those who sit on these benches have heard with a good deal of regret the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just made. We all sympathise with the President in the very great difficulties which this Bill presents, but it is clearly part of the function of Government as a, whole to take full responsibility for the legislation which it introduces, and to see that that legislation is co-ordinated by the Departments. What has the President of the Board of Trade said? Practically he has stated: "I am sorry. I sympathise with the problem you are raising, but that problem cannot he dealt with within the terms of this Bill." That in substance is what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but surely he overlooks two important facts when he asks us to accept that explanation. One of those important facts is that the Lord Privy Seal, on behalf of the Government as a whole, has announced in the House that on this subject there is nothing doing in regard to getting old people out of industry. In reply to a question which I put to the Lord Privy Seal, he stated that the Government have found no scheme of pension for aged workers which is acceptable.


I do not think we can discuss the question of pensions on this Amendment.


I accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and I would not have referred to that matter except to make it clear that unless we do something in regard to this question under this Amendment, the whole burden of rationalisation will fall exclusively upon the workers. Without desiring to transgress the rules of order, may I mak a passing reference to another statement which reinforces my point? Unless rationalisation is accompanied by a wider distribution of benefits to the workpeople themselves, rationalisation may easily succeed in defeating its own object, because, if the whole burden of rationalisation falls upon the workers either in the form of unemployment or lower wages, then the net result is to decrease the home market for the consumption of the product of that industry, and the whole purpose of rationalisation is defeated.

We were told by the Minister of Labour in the recent Debate on the Unemployment Insurance Bill that we cannot give unemployment benefit on the scale that some of us would like to see, and the form in which that legislation left this House precludes us from tackling that problem for a period of three years, so that we can do nothing on the basis of improved unemployment insurance. We have already been told that we can do nothing on pensions, and now the President of the Board of Trade says he is very sorry, but we cannot do anything under this Bill. The combination of all these things means that nothing is going to be done—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] I much appreciate the applause from the other side of the House, but may I say that, when hon. Members opposite had their opportunity of handling the problem on these lines, they no more took it than our people are taking it? What this all comes to is that nothing is to be done under any Government, and that means that the whole burden of rationalisation in this industry is going to fall on the shoulders of the workmen, and of the workmen alone. The position of a Labour Government in dealing with matters of this kind is one of peculiar delicacy, because it is part of our philosophy that unemployment is an integral feature of the capitalist system. It may be that a Labour Government, and especially a minority Labour Government, can be driven by the sheer stress of a political situation to try to make an existing system with which it disagrees function more efficiently than it is now doing. I am not at this stage criticising the line that the Government the taking in that respect—


I think we are going beyond the Amendment. We must confine ourselves to what can be done under this Bill.


I am very sorry if I transgressed, and I have really only one sentence to add, which I think will be completely in order. The very fact that we are driven by economic circumstances to handle the problem on lines that we should not adopt otherwise does make it more imperative from our point of view that, in handling it on those lines, we should try to make adequate provision for the men who are being displaced as a result. We therefore propose to divide on this Amendment, and I hope that we shall carry with us into the Lobby everyone on this side of the House, and, in view of the applause that we had a few moments ago, at least a substantial proportion of those who sit on the other side.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Before we go to a Division, I think it is necessary to say one word. My right hon. Friend has given very weighty reasons why he cannot accept this Amendment, and probably one of the weightiest is that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) said, this is the first time that this question has been discussed during the proceedings on the Bill. It is very late in the day. This Bill is the result of tremendous compromises inside the Cabinet, outside the Cabinet, and with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who have been discreetly silent during this Debate, though they are the friends of the miners when an election is on. Although there have been negotiations with the Miners' Federation, none of their recognised leaders' names are attached to this Amendment. There have been negotiations with different groups of mineowners; and now, on the eve of the Bill going to another place, we are asked to insert this radical change in it. My hon. Friends below the Gangway who support the Amendment are putting some of us in a very difficult position.

The President of the Board of Trade mentioned the case of local authorities when amalgamation takes place. He might have, mentioned the much more analogous case of the amalgamations of the railways in 1920, when there was compensation right through, from the directors to the last joined porter. Every railway worker who was displaced under the Bill got compensation. There is solid ground for complaint that this principle has not been embodied in the Bill, but we know the reasons. The industry is bankrupt. It is being carried by the banks. But I have this suggestion to make. The Bill is limited in time, and we shall in a year or two be able to see what the results of this great Measure are. If the industry has been put on its feet, in a further Bill which is sure to follow this principle might be accepted. You will have seen the effects of displacement and you will have a right to extend the principle of the levy for welfare work to compensation. We must wait for another Bill, perhaps, brought in in another Parliament in which we have a majority.


I am sorry that it should be necessary for me to take part in a discussion of this sort. A great deal of nonsense is talked in the House on all sides as to what the miners' position really is. I should like to remind some of the smart men on both sides that it is not going to work out just as they think. If, as is suggested, there are going to be thousands, or probably hundreds of thousands of miners displaced as a consequence of the passing of the Bill, hon. Members opposite need not worry about the export side of the question. If hundreds of thousands of miners are displaced, we shall not be able to produce sufficient coal to satisfy the needs of our own market and you might just leave the question, at least for the time being, of the treatment that the men will require, if and when they are displaced, to those whom they have chosen to represent them, both in the House and on the industrial side of the work. I am particularly sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) should associate himself with the people who are evidently more interested in propaganda which will do damage amongst the miners. He at least knows what the miner's life is.

We are not completely satisfied with the Bill, but we believe it to be a step in the right direction, and, with all its faults, we are prepared to accept it in the meantime. I have already said that the mining difficulties will not be finished by the passage of this Bill. It may only be the beginning, but, in any case, so far as those who speak for the miners and who are acting on the authority of the miners in each of the districts are concerned, we are prepared to support the Government in putting this Bill on the Statute Book. We want it made an Act of Parliament, and we want the employers to have some common sense in the working of this Bill when it becomes an Act. I am confident that if we would direct our attention, as a House, towards getting rid of the difficulties that stand in the way, instead of putting up more obstacles, we should render greater services to the nation as well as to the miners. I would not have taken part in this discussion at all to-night had it not been for the statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. Brown), that no matter what the Government might say they were determined to carry this matter to a vote.


I never said that. It is perfectly true I announced that we were going to divide on this issue, but I made that announcement after the President of the Board of Trade had spoken, and when it became clear that he had nothing to offer us.


It ought to have been obvious to the hon. Members who are moving this Amendment that the President of the Board of Trade could take no other course than that which he has taken. It is not to be assumed for a moment that we are out of sympathy with the Amendment, but we are here anxious to impress the House with the fact that this Bill is necessary, and we do not want anything to be put in the way of preventing it being put on the Statute Book. While we are anxious that fair treatment should be given to our men along the lines suggested in the Amendment, with which I am in complete agreement, we want the hours shortened in the first place, and that can only be done by this Bill being put on the Statute Book. Even if there were nothing else in it, we want that. If it is to be a fight for wages, we will fight for wages, and if our men are to be unfairly treated, then we will be prepared to use whatever influence and power we have here to see that they have fair play. In the meantime, if my hon. Friends are in favour of the miners' position being improved, then they will be well advised to withdraw the Amendment and not to divide on it, because, as it stands, those of us who are con- sidered to be the representatives of the miners are bound to support the Government in the attitude they will adopt.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 278.

Division No. 245.] AYES. [10.56 p m.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Groves, Thomas E. Remer, John R.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Harris, Percy A. Sandham, E.
Brockway, A. Fenner Horrabin, J. F. Stephen, Campbell
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Train, J.
Buchanan, G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Wallhead, Richard C.
Cove, William G. Kinley, J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Kirkwood, D. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Dixey, A. C. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Fermoy, Lord McShane, John James
Forgan, Dr. Robert Makins, Brigadier-General E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Wise and Mr. Beckett.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Denman, Hon. R. D. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Dickson, T. Lang, Gordon
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Dukes, C. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Duncan, Charles Lathan, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Ede, James Chuter Law, Albert (Bolton)
Alpass, J. H. Edmunds, J. E. Law, A. (Rosendale)
Ammon, Charles George Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lawrence, Susan
Angell, Norman Egan, W. H. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Arnott, John England, Colonel A. Lawson, John James
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Foot, Isaac, Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Aske, Sir Robert Freeman, Peter Leach, W.
Atkinson, C. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Attlee, Clement Richard Gibbins, Joseph Lees, J.
Ayles, Walter Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Gill, T. H. Lindley, Fred W.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Gillett, George M. Lloyd, C. Ellis
Barnes, Alfred John Gossling, A. G. Locker-Lampson, Com O.(Handsw'th)
Barr, James Gould, F. Logan, David Gilbert
Bellamy, Albert Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Longbottom, A. W.
Bennett, Capt. B. N. (Cardiff,Central) Graham, Rt.Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Granville, E. Lowth, Thomas
Benson, G. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Lunn, William
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Blindell, James Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Grundy, Thomas W. McElwee, A.
Bowen, J. W. Gulnness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. McEntee, V. L.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Mackinder, W.
Briscoe, Richard George Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) McKinlay, A.
Broad, Francis Alfred Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) MacLaren, Andrew
Bromfield, William Hardie, George D. Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Bromley, J. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Brooke, W. Hastings, Dr. Somerville MacNeill-Weir, L.
Brothers, M. Haycock, A. W. Mansfield, W.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd'., Hexham) Heyday, Arthur March, S.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Hayes, John Henry Marcus, M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Markham, S. F.
Burgess, F. G. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Marley, J.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Marshall, Fred
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Caine, Derwent Hall- Herrlotts, J. Mathers, George
Cameron, A. G. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Matters, L. W.
Cape, Thomas Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Melville, Sir James
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hoffman, P. C. Messer, Fred
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hollins, A. Middleton, G.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Mills, J. E.
Charleton, H. C. Hopkin, Daniel Montague, Frederick
Chater, Daniel Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Church, Major A. G. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Morley, Ralph
Clarke, J. S. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Cluse, W. S. Hurd, Percy A. Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Isaacs, George Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Mort, D. L.
Compton, Joseph John, William (Rhondda, West) Moses, J. J. H.
Daggar, George Johnston, Thomas Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Dallas, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Dalton, Hugh Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Muff, G.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Muggeridge, H. T.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Murnin, Hugh
Day, Harry Kennedy, Thomas Naylor, T. E.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sanders, W. S. Tinker, John Joseph
Noel Baker, P. J. Sawyer, G. F. Toole, Joseph
Oldfield, J. R. Scurr, John Tout, W. J.
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sexton, James Townend, A. E.
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Trevelyar, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
O'Nelli, Sir H. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Turner, B.
Palin, John Henry Sherwood, G. H. Vaughan, D. J.
Palmer, E. T. Shield, George William Viant, S. P.
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Shiels, Dr. Drummond Walker, J.
Perry, S. F. Shillaker, J. F. Wallace, H. W.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Shinwell, E. Watkins, F. C.
Phillips, Dr. Marion Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Picton-Tubervill, Edith Simmons, C. J. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Pole, Major D. G. Sinkinson, George Wellock, Wilfred
Potts, John S. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Pownall, Sir Assheton Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Price, M. P. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) White, H. G.
Quibell, D. F. K. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Rathbone, Eleanor Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Raynes, W. R. Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Richards, R. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, th'ts'y) Snell, Harry Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Sorensen, R. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Stamford, Thomas W. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Ritson, J. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Womersley, W. J.
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Strauss, G. R. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Romeril, H. G. Sullivan, J. Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Sutton, J. E. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Rowson, Guy Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Salter, Dr. Alfred Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Thurtle, Ernest Paling.

Ordered, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."—[Mr. W. Graham.]

Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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