HC Deb 11 March 1930 vol 236 cc1143-251

With regard to the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), I am not quite sure as to the meaning of it. It seems to me vague and indefinite, but the hon. and gallant Member will no doubt explain in moving it.

Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, after the word "mines," to insert the words including representatives of owners dissenting from the scheme proportionate to the tonnage controlled by such dissentients. 4.0 p.m.

The object of this Amendment is to make quite certain that on the central council there shall be representatives of those owners who do not agree with the scheme. Under Clause 1, a bare majority is required to make a scheme, and I feel that it is very desirable, in order to smooth the working of the council, that representatives of those owners who, in the first instance, do not agree to the scheme, shall be on the council, and that the difficulties arising between those who approve and those who disapprove of the scheme, should as far as possible be settled quietly, and on the council itself, rather than that there should be friction, as there must be if you have a council composed only of those who approve the scheme. It has been that the genius of the English people is our power to convert a hostile critic into a valuable colleague. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's scheme is far more likely to succeed if those who have objection—possibly some very reasonable objection—against the scheme or against some particular part, are in a position to raise their objection with those who approve, and to discuss the matter quietly round a table, rather than if they feel that, under the force of law, if this Bill becomes an Act, they have to put up with things with which they do not agree. They can put their points to members of the council and discuss them, and I feel certain that they would accept the position, provided they had the opportunity of putting their points of view, and, if necessary, of voting. It is because I believe that some Amendment of this sort would do a great deal to ensure the smooth working of the Measure, that I have put it on the Paper. I am not quite certain whether the right hon. Gentleman in putting in the words "of all the owners of coal mines in the several districts" intended that the dissenting owners should be represented. It is partly to clear that up that I have put down this Amendment, and partly also, because I feel so strongly that if this Bill is to operate at all, it can only operate by getting the greatest amount of possible consent among the owners.

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

I appreciate the point which has been put by the hon. and gallant Member, but I trust that one or two words of explanation will be sufficient to remove the difficulty to which he has referred. The Committee is here considering the central scheme and not the district schemes, and I should imagine that the Committee would take the view that, as regards the dissentient minority in any district, it was much more important that it should be represented on the district scheme rather than on the National Board or the central scheme, to which each of the 21 districts, or whatever the number ultimately becomes, will send their representatives. Then, as regards the central scheme, there is a further difficulty in terms of my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, because he really proposes a form of proportional representation related to tonnage, and if, for example, in any district there were a 15 per cent. minority, which is roughly the position in South Wales, that would mean that the central body would require to be very greatly enlarged in order to maintain that relationship or that percentage, if proportional representation on these lines was to apply.

Therefore, I think that, as regards the central scheme, it would be impossible to accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proposition, and, as regards the district schemes, it is of course, the whole object of the Government in this legislation to see that these schemes are representative of all the owners. Without in any way committing myself at the moment, I think we might rather assume that all points of view in the district scheme will he represented, because that district scheme is to be representative of every owner in the area. In many areas the minorities are much larger than the 15 per cent. in South Wales, so that they could hardly fail to obtain representation on these district executive bodies. I think that, perhaps, with that assurance, and with the view which, I trust, the Committee will take that minorities will find representation, we might very well leave it, as I could not tie myself to an allocation in the Bill, because all that makes for difficulties in the operation of the central and district schemes. I would leave it to the judgment of the owners, together with the rights of any minority, of course, to go to arbitration, and to have the other forms of protection which, under this Measure, they already enjoy.


I appreciate the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has raised as to having an unduly large central council and that to give what he calls proportional representation to those who assent and those who dissent in each of the 21 districts, he might get a body of undue size. But he seemed to me to agree that, whether you are dealing with the central body or the local bodies, minorities ought not to be made to suffer, and that any dissentient minority should have a reasonable chance of making its case heard. Plainly, if we make no provision here for the representation of minorities on the central board, the only chance of the views of minorities being represented there will be if the district boards, who send their representative there, can speak with full consideration not only for the majority but for the minority. It seems to me that whether that will happen or not entirely depends on whether, in fact, when you come to the constitution of the district board, you are going to get the representation of minorities. The right hon. Gentleman has said that we may be quite certain the minority will make its voice heard on the district board, because there will always be something like 15 per cent. of dissentients, and there may be a considerably higher proportion, so that, therefore, we may be quite sure that they will get some members on the district board.

The action which we shall take on this Amendment really turns on whether the assurance given by the President of the Board of Trade is valid in the terms of his Bill. This Clause simply says that the central council shall be composed of representatives of all the owners, without saying how they are to be appointed. Presumably each executive body will send one or more of its representatives. Clause 3 (1) says: Every district scheme shall provide for the election of the executive board by all the owners of coal mines in the district. It is perfectly true that every coalowner will be entitled to vote, but there is no guarantee, unless the right hon. Gentleman undertakes to put in some special provision, that a minority of owners will get any representation at all. Supposing there are 500 coalowners in a district; 300 of them are in favour of the scheme, and 200 are opposed to it. Unless some provision is put in, when they come to vote they vote exactly as we do in this House, the 300 coalowners will have a majority of 100 over the dissentients, and will be perfectly able to put on the executive board their representatives, while the dissentient coalowners may not get a single representative on that board. Therefore, I think that the President of the Board of Trade, if he asks us not to press this Amendment now, ought to give us an undertaking that when he comes to Clause 3 he will put in a specific provision to make sure—there is an Amendment, I think, in the name of my hon. Friend to that effect—that the membership of the executive board shall be roughly in the proportion of the assentient8 and dissentients. If he gives us that assurance, probably we shall not wish to press this Amendment, because we should get the district board representing all shades of opinion; otherwise, under Clause 3 as drafted, there appears to be no sort of guarantee that the minority, however large, will get any representation on the central council at all.


I want to reinforce what my right hon. Friend has just said, and I feel encouraged by the remarks of the President of the Board of Trade that he might carry this point in his mind and meet us some way. In order to make this Measure work even approximately well, we must go as far as possible on lines of conciliation rather than of opposition. It is true that it would be cumbersome to get a proportional representation of minorities on the central organisation, and I can see the difficulties in the way of the Amendment as drafted; but the principle is important, and I earnestly ask the right hon. Gentleman to appreciate that and to give us an undertaking that, between now and the Report stage, he will submit something to achieve the point desired. While it is true that there is a minority having a voice in the election of the district organisations, there is no guarantee, as my right hon. Friend has just said, that on the district boards, there will be someone definitely voicing that minority view. Still less will that be the case on the central board. It must be clear to all who want to tackle this problem in order to get a good solution that to have a definite proportional representation on the central board is not practicable, but I think we are not asking too much to suggest that there should be a definite undertaking, resting perhaps on the proportion of minority views as ascertained in the districts, that we shall have on the central board some direct representation of that minority point of view.


The minority cases differ.


Quite so, and it is all the more important, therefore, that they should have some proportional representation. Everyone knows how such organisations would work if you had a central board practically all of whom represented the amalgamation or other proposals which are being put forward, but against which there was a minority. They may listen to the representations made and let it go at that, but if we had a provision in the Bill that there should be on the central board someone who is a direct channel of the mental attitude, of interpretation of the views, of those who generally object to a decision of the majority, we should be putting into the Bill a reasonable guarantee. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can- not give us something more definite in the way of a guarantee of a representation upon the central board of what we may call the minority view.


The President of the Board of Trade gave an assurance, but it was of a somewhat cryptic character. I took down his words as he uttered them, and he said: "Without in any way committing myself at the moment, I think you may take it as certain that all points of view would be represented." If he does not commit himself at the moment, are we to take it as certain? If we are to take it as certain that they will all be represented, has he not committed himself to the Committee? It appears to me that there are quite specific provisions in the Bill as it stands which require that all points of view should be represented and that the Board of Trade should see that that is done, for the Bill in this Clause specifically states: The central scheme shall constitute the central council which shall … be composed of representatives of all the owners of coal mines in the several districts. Obviously, therefore, if they are to be all the owners, they cannot be representative merely of particular sections of the coal-owners in different districts. Further, in the provisions of the previous Clause, it says that the Board of Trade is only to approve any scheme if it is satisfied that the scheme complies with the requirements of the Act. Putting those two provisions together, cannot the President of the Board of Trade give the assurance asked for?


I hope the right hon. Gentleman, on reconsideration, will see that it is very imperative to put in some definite words safeguarding the rights of these minorities. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that there is a number of coalowners to-day in areas where the voluntary schemes have operated who are definitely nervous of some form of reprisals when they are brought into the compulsory scheme. Their apprehensions may be right or wrong, but in any event I think the right hon. Gentleman might be well advised to secure some form of representation for these minorities in order that they may have a voice in the disposition of this scheme when it is in operation. In every coalfield there are minority and majority interests. There is, for instance, the interest of those who are in the export coal trade, and it is obviously not the same as that of those in the inland coal trade, and it may be that the latter coal-owners are in a great minority, who should have their voice heard on the council, as well as that of the export traders. The President of the Board of Trade was most persuasive in the way he put his opposition to the Amendment, but I would ask him to consider putting in something absolutely definite, so that all the coalowners may know in black and white that minorities will be protected and will have representation on the respective councils.


We are in some difficulty on this question, because both sides of the Committee really want the same thing, but it does not seem that we have any form of words which will bring about what we all desire. The whole essence of this Amendment is as to what "all" means in the phrase "representatives of all the owners." The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said that this should include minorities, but by the way in which this central council is to be elected, it may be more than likely that no minority at all will be represented. What I was going to ask the right hon. Gentleman was whether or not it would be possible to put in some form of words like the following: including at least one representative of owners dissenting from the scheme. That would lay it down quite clearly that there must be at least one representative, or the Government might agree to make it two representatives or more. That would get over the difficulty, and it would also get over the difficulty of some form of proportional representation. I do not think that is possible as actually worded in the Amendment, but I do think it would be possible to make absolutely certain, not only by an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, but by a form of words actually in the Bill, that the owners dissenting should be represented on the central council.


I appreciate the point which is put by hon. and right hon. Members, and for myself, of course, I am most anxious to find a solution, but there are difficulties in this case. I think perhaps we could almost leave out of the way the position of the central or national scheme, because it is plain from speeches which have been made by hon. Members opposite that there would be no suggestion of proportional representation on the central council. That would lead to far too large a body and, in fact, could not be operated at all. But there is one point that I would like to emphasise, assuming that this Part of the Bill becomes law. Both as regards the national scheme and the district schemes, all the owners are covered. In the national scheme you have included all the pits in the country, and in the district schemes you have included all the pits in the districts, so that to that extent the arguments about the majority and the minority are weakened. A minority may be large or small, but it takes its place in what is now one scheme under this Bill in a district covering every pit in the district.

The question before us, therefore, is not one of majority and minority in the strict sense, but rather the representation of a point of view which up to its inclusion presumably was hostile to the scheme and may wish to address considerations afterwards while the scheme is in operation. It is very difficult indeed to bring into this Bill a precise percentage or anything like that, and for myself I am rather relying on what is the plain duty, and indeed the obligation, of the Board of Trade in this connection. We have to approve the national scheme and the district schemes. Assuming that you have any substantial minority, or in fact any minority at all, in this case I say quite frankly that it would be impossible for the Board of Trade to approve of a scheme which did not, in our judgment, in its constitution as regards personnel, represent the different points of view, and that will undoubtedly be the practice of the Board in approving these schemes.


There is a difference between the way in which the right hon. Gentleman would exercise a discretion and an obligation upon him under the Bill. If he would tell us that the words as drafted in the Bill impose upon him a statutory obligation to see that minorities were represented, I think our case would be met, but if he merely says that he himself, in the per- sonal exercise of his discretion, would do it, I do not think that is enough; and I think he ought himself to put down an Amendment, or to give us an assurance that, if he is not bound by the Statute to exercise the discretion to give a representation to minorities—if that is not a statutory obligation—he will consult the Attorney-General and see that the proper words are put in.


I must not mislead the Committee. I do not consider that the words of the Bill put me under a statutory obligation to do that, but I have described what would be done at the Board under these schemes.


The right hon. Gentleman said that he regarded it as a duty and an obligation of the Board of Trade to do this very thing.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has read into that word "obligation" a statutory obligation, and I should confine myself to the term "duty." I say that it would be the duty of any President of the Board of Trade to see that the district schemes were representative of every point of view. A district scheme must be representative of all the pits in the district. Suppose the minority is strong, that minority can command, by the election proposed in this Bill, a certain number of representatives on a district scheme. There is no doubt about that. By ordinary election I think it would be capable of achieving that result. I have made it clear, as regards Part I, that we must have the owners with us, but I am willing to say this, that as regards district schemes, I will try, between now and the Report stage, in consultation with the Department, to see whether a method can be found of making certain that there will be representation of every point of view. Beyond that, I should not like to go this afternoon, but it will be with a desire to find a solution that I shall approach the problem.


I am prepared to accept that assurance, on the understanding that we shall, in any case, have an opportunity of settling the matter on the Report stage. Supposing that the right hon. Gentleman finds that the coal-owners do not agree with him and he decides that he is unwilling to put in words, we should then move this Amendment on Report. Unless the President of the Board of Trade himself puts down an Amendment, we cannot be quite sure of getting that opportunity. If he gives us an undertaking that we shall have an opportunity of raising this matter on Report, I think we shall be prepared to accept his suggestion now.


A few words ought to be said about the very remarkable statement that has been made by the President of the Board of Trade. Here we have a perfectly reasonable Amendment to carry out what he says he has in mind, yet the right hon. Gentleman frankly tells us that he is so committed to the owners that he cannot do that. I feel very strongly about this matter and I feel it to be my duty to make this protest. If I have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, I am very sorry, but the whole intention of his last statement was to impress the Committee with the fact that he has an understanding with the owners in regard to Part I and that without consulting them he is not able to meet, even in a form of words, a reasonable request like the one that has been made to-day.


I am sorry to have to intervene in this Debate, but I am as much a coalowner as the hon. Member who has just addressed the Committee. I appreciate very much the Simon Pure attitude adopted by hon. Members opposite. They are now asking that representation should be given in this Coal Mines Bill to all sectional interests in connection with the trade. When we were discussing the last Coal Mines Bill they would not touch representation of the miners with a 40-foot pole. The same people come here now with tears in their voices and talk about the right of every section interested to have a voice. I hope that they will have a voice, and that is about all. I represent not a coal mining district but a district where we buy coal in the winter months at prices which are almost impossible. If I thought that the collier was going to get the benefit of the price that we pay for coal in the East End of London, I should be prepared to support—


The Amendment before the Committee is whether a minority of dissentient coal-owners should be represented or not, we are now discussing the price of coal.


I have no objection to those owners being represented, so long as they are not over-represented. Minorities on our side have never been represented. Even to-day, at question time, five hon. Members opposite could put 10 Supplementary Questions, but we were told that we must not ask a second Supplementary Question. It seems to me to be sanctimonious humbug on the part of those hon. Members who have been talking about representation. They never fight for representation for the working classes, but they are always prepared to fight for representation for people who have property interests at stake. I hope that the Government will not give way, and that the Minister will use some little power—his predecessor used his power to keep the workers on the mat—to keep the coalowners on the mat, and give them some idea of our experience in days gone by.


There is one point which arises out of what the President of the Board of Trade has said, to which attention ought to be directed. I gathered from him that he felt that while he was preparing the scheme he was more or less tied to the owners in regard to Part I. I should like to make it perfectly clear that so far as Northumberland and Durham are concerned the owners do not want this part at any price. They would rather have the Bill without Part I than they would be tied to Part I, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I should like to repeat that statement, in order to make myself quite clear, that the owners in Northumberland and Durham do not want Part I. They would rather have the Bill without it.


I should like to assure hon. Members that there is no question of giving way in a matter of this kind. The object is rather to try to find an appropriate solution. Hon. Members who have spoken from the other side are in error in suggesting that we are tied to a plan which has been approved and which cannot be altered in any detail. I have always made it quite clear to the Committee that this part of the Bill re- presents, substantially, an agreement, as in a case of this kind there must be agreement, but it is before the House of Commons, quite openly, for approval. I am, however, bound to point out the difficulty of making an alteration, unless there is a very strong case for that course. There is a distinction between the central and the district schemes. When I spoke a few minutes ago I was referring to the district schemes. It may be that the words on page 3, in Clause 2 (1), amount, as regards the national scheme, to a definite obligation to see that all owners are represented. If that is the state of affairs, which I imagine to be correct so far as the central scheme is concerned, then there would be less difficulty in meeting the points which the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and my right hon. Friend opposite have proposed. We might leave it at that point this afternoon. I will do my best in regard to the district schemes to find a solution, if possible, between now and the Report stage. As regards the future opportunity for discussing the matter, it does not lie with me to decide whether the question can be raised again, but so far as the Government are concerned we shall join in any request to Mr. Speaker for facilities.

Captain BOURNE

In view of the statement of the President of the Board of Trade, I do not desire to press the Amendment. I am sorry that he could not accept it and give us a definite assurance so far as the district schemes are concerned, but I hope to have an opportunity of raising that question at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 35, at the end, to insert the words: but so that no allocation of maximum output, nor any restriction in this Act contained in respect thereof, shall operate or take effect so as to hamper or restrict the production and sale of coal or coke destined for export overseas, but all such coal and coke shall be freed from all restrictions of output and shall not be subject to any control as part of or contained in the district allocation. This part of the Clause gives power to the Central Committee to allocate in each district the maximum output of coal for that district, and the process applies both to coal consumed inland and to export coal, but the case in regard to export coal is not the same as that in regard to coal consumed inland. As I understand it, the case in regard to coal consumed at home is this, that for some time past there has been a cut-throat competition between the collieries, with the result that they have been selling coal at less than the cost of production. The Committee has now decided that the production of that coal shall be limited by quota to a production to meet the demand of the country. The case with regard to export coal must be different, because in regard to inland coal there can be no competition from abroad while in regard to export coal that coal all the time is competing with coal from foreign countries in foreign ports, and also in coaling ports along the trade routes. I should have thought that the right thing to do in regard to export coal would be to increase the output and to increase the export.

The other day, when I was moving an Amendment in regard to the quota, I gave certain figures which tended to show that the world demand for coal was on the increase, but that the amount produced in this country had not increased in the same ratio. Of course, it has not. The figures were as follow: in 1900, 766,000,000 tons of coal were used in the world and in 1929 1,429,000,000 tons were used, or practically double the amount, whereas the amount of coal produced in this country was 225,000,000 tons in 1900, and 237,000,000 tons in 1928. There has been a great increase, but the increase in the production in this country between 1900 and 1928, namely, 12,000,000 tons, is accounted for by the increase in exports from this country. Of the figures for 1900 with respect to this country we exported 58,000,000 tons and in 1928 we exported 70,000,000 tons, the difference being exactly the same, namely, 12,000,000 tons, so that we have since 1900 slightly increased our production and we have a small increase in our exports. My suggestion to the Committee is that we should go on increasing the production for export; if we do not, what will be the result? The result will be diminished trade from this country.

I am aware of the criticisms which have been made since I gave the figures in regard to world output last week, that the market for this country is limited, that it is a market largely confined to Europe and the trade routes; but when we come to examine that market the extraordinary thing is that during the last few years the amount of coal that we have exported even to the European markets and especially to France, Spain and Italy has increased. I will not worry the Committee with figures, but it might interest the Committee to know that our exports to Europe and South America—that means largely exports to the River Plate, where ships take our cargoes of coal and bring home corn—was only 18,300,000 tons in 1928, and it has gone up to 21,340,000 tons, a very substantial increase and a very substantial percentage over 1928.

Supposing we cut down, as we must cut down by the use of the quota, the amount which is available for export, the first thing that will happen will be that the price will be increased to the consumer abroad, and that price will have to compete against the coal which is available for that consumer from other countries. We shall be competing upon the worst basis because, in the first place, of the increased price and in the second place because we shall be losing our market. Let us assume, for example, that a coaling port requires 1,000,000 tons of coal a year. That is a big amount, but not beyond the requirements of some of our big coaling ports. Let us suppose that hitherto we have had a substantial monopoly in that coaling port and that we have exported to that port 800,000 tons of coal in a year. The requirements of that port will remain the same, indeed, the requirements of the ports have been on the increase.

Under the quota, we shall not be able to send out 800,000 tons to that port; we shall only be able to send out, say, 700,000 tons. Where is the other 100,000 tons to come from? Of course, it will come from a foreign competitor, and you are putting your ships into touch with foreign suppliers and permanently losing a market. We have suffered from that in the past. In the second place, the foreign consumer will realise that he is now dealing, not with individuals in this country, but with a trust and a big trust, with a ring of coalowners. Every consumer dislikes rings, and if he can possibly buy his coal, even at a greater expense to himself, outside the ring, he will prefer to do so in the fond hope that in time he will break the ring. That is what will happen, I am afraid, if this provision is not added to the Bill. Further, we have the effect not merely upon the coal industry itself, but the effect on the shipping industry. There is also bound to be an effect on docks and on freights.


Is the hon. and learned Member arguing that the quota will not vary from month to month?


It cannot vary from month to month. It is bound to be fixed for a stabilised period, and during that period ruin might come to a particular colliery or a particular exporter. That is why one is so anxious that the export trade should not be interfered with. Another thing will be the effect on freights on homeward-bound goods. Every shipowner does his best to arrange that a ship that takes coal outward brings home goods to this country. If a ship cannot take out the full quantity of coal she has to make a profit by an extra freight on the homeward-bound goods, and obviously those goods will be dearer when they reach the consumer in this country. Lastly, and a reason which ought to appeal to hon. Members on the Government side more particularly, is that once you have lost a market and have restricted output in such a way that it not merely affects the distribution of coal in this country, but destroys a permanent market for you abroad, the result is bound to be greater unemployment. The Bill is bound to increase the difficulties under which a colliery proprietor is working his coal, is bound to lead to decreased production, and as a result to greater unemployment.

It is rather sad that we from this side of the House should be defending a policy which was advocated only yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal. He told us that the one permanent cure for unemployment was increased export trade. If this Bill goes through without the addition of the words of the Amendment, it will inevitably lead to a restriction of exports and to the very thing which the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday was undesirable. The right hon. Gentleman has advocated the export of coal from this country to Canada in order that we may get corn and other goods from Canada. But as the Bill stands, the amount of coal exported would be cut down. It may be asked, how can the proposal of my Amendment be worked? I am assured by exporters that it can he worked. I will give one or two illustrations as to the position in South Wales. The bulk of the coal produced in South Wales is exported. The figures are 60 per cent. exported and 40 per cent. only used for home consumption. In some of the pits, those which raise steam coal, the proportions are 90 per cent. exported and only 10 per cent. used for home consumption. I am assured that the proposal of the Amendment can be carried out, that the standard of the coal which has been used in the past for home consumption can be used as the standard upon which the quota of these mines in that district can be fixed, and that the rest could be allowed to go out freely, and that trade should be allowed to expand in its own proper and natural way.


I have listened with very much interest, as I am sure the whole Committee has done, to the speech of the hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment; but I feel that, interesting as his statistics were, they told only half the story. The hon. and learned Member said that the world demand for coal is on the increase, and he gave us figures to show that there has been a considerable increase in the export of coal from this country, and in the general world production. But if he had seen that very interesting publication, the Interim Report on Coal of the Economic Committee of the League of Nations, he would have noticed that while the world production of coal has increased, apparently the consuming capacity of the world has not increased in proportion. It looks as if the consumption of raw material in the world has increased, between 1913 and 1928, from 100 to 125, but the total world consumption has increased only from 100 to 102.4, or, including lignite, soft coal, to 104. In other words, it would appear that there has been very considerable economy in the use of coal, in spite of the fact that production has been increasing all the time.

We all know very well that there has been a great change going on in the use of electricity and oil, and in steam engine practice by the use of superheated steam in modern boilers. All these things have tended to economies in the use of coal, and have brought about a difficulty generally on the world market. That does not seem to show that there is any reason for the suggestion that we should go on increasing our output of coal for export. On the contrary, it seems to me to be a very strong argument for bringing about what is the opinion throughout the Continent amongst all those leaders of industry who are connected with the coal industry, namely, that there should be something in the nature of an international agreement to regulate the output of coal throughout Europe, and as far as possible throughout the world. Important as that is, up till now there has been very little progress made, except in a few particulars.

The whole development since the War has been one of continued undercutting and cut-throat competition in the export markets. This Bill is going to do something, we hope, to limit that. But what is the use of having a regulation of output at home unless we have a similar Measure abroad? After all, the worst feature of the coal situation is that cutthroat competition is going on abroad. I resided in Germany for four years after the War, and I had many occasions to see the effects of the cut-throat competition going on between this country and Germany. First of all it was complicated very much by the Spa Agreement and the reparations coal exacted from Germany under that Agreement, whereby coal had to be delivered to France and Belgium at a price below the world market price of the time. Under the Spa Agreement, British coal was undercut on those markets, and that helped very largely to bring about the disastrous coal dispute in 1921. As a result of that and of the burdens which were placed upon the coalminers, British coal was able once more to under-cut the German coal. Then we had the reversed situation created by the French occupation of the Ruhr. This sort of see-saw competition has led to the disasters of to-day.

Under the coal law in Germany in 1919 an organisation was created which brought the industry into syndicates, limited the output of the various coalfields to a certain figure, and took certain measures, somewhat tentatively, to control prices. But while prices have been fixed for the home market, quite generally in recent years the export price for German coal has always been below the home price. A cause of that is undoubtedly the competition between this country and Germany in the coal markets of the world. Recently a new competitor has come in, Poland. Now we have this country, Germany and Poland engaged in this disastrous competition. But even in Poland there are steps being taken towards the organising of the industry into some form of syndicate which will have the effect of regulating output and controlling prices. One of the difficulties with which we are faced is the fact that there is no such organisation in this country. It is true that there is a voluntary organisation being created under the Five Counties scheme, but it is only voluntary, and what we want is a scheme whereby the whole industry in this country will be brought in, so that it can speak with an authoritative voice to the producers of coal in Germany and Poland. Then there will be a chance of putting an end to the international anarchy. For these reasons I hope that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will not accept the Amendment. I hope that our Ulysses on the Front Bench will not listen to the singing of the sirens on the Liberal Benches who are trying to lead his ship on the rocks.

5.0 p.m.


We have all listened with interest to my hon. Friend's admirable statement of the case against the Amendment. The Amendment is bound up with another, which I should not be in order in anticipating, designed to remove from the Bill the power to levy the whole of the production of coal in this country for the purpose of facilitating the sale of certain classes of coal, among them coal for export. Having mentioned that fact, I fall back at once on the precise proposition of the Amendment. The Amendment seeks to leave outside the regulation of the output of coal in this country all coal which is designed for the export trade. It is perfectly clear that it would be impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment, partly because of the structure of the Bill, and partly because of discussions which we have already had on other Amendments which were devoted to the pur- pose of excluding certain classes of coal. Last week it was sought to leave out coal which was to be used by iron and steel undertakings, and there are other Amendments on the Order Paper which seek to exclude this and other classes of coal. Therefore, the only reply of the Government, who are committed to the principles of Part I and the quota which has now been approved by the House, must be to the effect that the quota must be comprehensive and in itself the essential part, and that any concession or special arrangements that are to be made later for any class of demand must be made within the ambit of that regulation. Let us consider what would happen if the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) were adopted. Let us consider what would happen in a large export district like South Wales where between 50 and 60 per cent. of the tonnage raised is exported? Let us also consider what would happen in the case of Northumberland and Durham where a very large proportion of the tonnage raised is also exported. At one stroke under this Amendment all that coal would pass beyond the reach of this legislation and would not be covered at all, and you would create serious anomalies as between those districts which were only partially regulated in relation to their whole output, and the other districts where the conditions were by no means similar. The only possible basis is to keep the regulation in a comprehensive form, and then to ask ourselves what steps of a special character can be taken within the regulations if those steps are required.

The hon. Member opposite was correct in saying that there has been a certain improvement in the export trade, and he said that we sold so many more million tons last year as compared with 1928. May I point out that the hon. Member does not quite get rid of the broad truth that the European demand for coal, which is of course the essence of this export problem for Great Britain, taking a line through the years has almost been stationary. It has been subject to certain variations and improvements, but it now appears, in substance, to have settled down for the reason which I tried to describe during the Second Reading of this Bill. It is true that there has been a certain amount of improvement, but we, as an exporting country, have to take into account that state of affairs, and that leads us back to the argument as to the importance of placing our export coal on the market, which is the very essence of this Bill, at an economic level, and at something more than the cost of production, and at a price that will give a fair return to the export trade.

Suppose that this Amendment were carried, and the export trade in coal were taken entirely outside of the quota regulations, the only effect would be that, subject to the considerations about aggregate demand, you would increase the quantity of coal produced nominally for export, and you would put it on the European market under conditions which could only have the effect of depressing trade and aggravating the cut-throat competition. That is the danger which we have to face. There is no question of a restriction of output in relation to the economic demand. I want, if I can, to convince people that the object is not to give coal away or subsidise the demand, but to avoid the sale of coal at a loss, and, if you go outside this arrangement, you must run a grave danger of having to sell at a loss, or contributing to that danger, on the European market. If you tie our hands in this way you must weaken us as regards our international trade, which is growing. It is overwhelmingly to our advantage in Great Britain to encourage these arrangements in the coal industry, because in that lies in the largest measure our hope of promoting European trade, and that is why I am so anxious about the conditions regarding restriction of output. I think my hon. Friend is wrong in making the suggestion that we are going to restrict output. The moment there is any additional demand, there is provision for responding to it. If, however, the demand is below the cost of production or at an uneconomic level, while it is easy to supply that class of demand to-day, the only effect is to weaken the whole position of the industry in regard to the export and home demand.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire will observe the precautions and safeguards which are enjoyed under this Bill. It is perfectly clear in later proposals that it is within the power of the district and national machinery to adjust the basic tonnage, with a uniform quota applied to it. because, of course, the quota is uniform all over the district, although it may be varied to meet any class of demand. That class of demand may be iron and steel as we shall see later, or, as we are now considering the export trade. If in the judgment of the industry subject to the machinery for the protection of consumers there is a class of demand at an economic level which justifies a larger output, then by adjusting the standard tonnage and giving to that standard tonnage 100 per cent. quota, as can be done for any class of coal, we meet the points which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire has in mind, and we get rid of any difficulty of restriction such as he fears. Quite plainly that is the way in which to deal with this problem. It would be altogether wrong to deal with it by taking that class of coal entirely outside regulations and exposing ourselves to the dangers of European and world prices to which I have just referred. We should then regulate the method of control, but at the appropriate moment and in circumstances which would give the export market an economic return adjust the supply in terms of tonnage and quota. That is the way to handle this problem. For these reasons, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire will see, I could not possibly accept his Amendment, and I trust that the Committee after due consideration will reject it.


My right hon. Friend has just declared that this proposal excites his enthusiasm, and he is always most dangerous when he is enthusiastic, for then I feel that he is impervious to argument. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is visualising the coal trade of the world as though it were one complete organism which he could guide and train, modify and twist and shape according to his statesmanlike ideas. If the right hon. Gentleman were to be the supreme dictator as to what was happening in the coal trade, if he could preside at Geneva over those who control the whole of the coalfields, say, of Europe not to mention America, and if he could dictate what should happen in every part of the world, I have no doubt that the world would be all the better for it. We should lose his services, but the world would be the gainer. The unfortunate thing, however, is that he is not in that position, and when the right hon. Gentleman puts to the Committee the argument that unless he gets a quota and a limitation on the export coal trade, he cannot carry out international obligations, I think he is overlooking one very important fact, namely, that he will never succeed in getting other people to limit the amount of coal they are trying to export by trying to drive a bargain with them when he has already in his own Bill provided for a limitation of exports. If there is to be a bargain, it must be a free bargain on both sides.

The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Price) has had a good deal of experience of German economic affairs, and he will know that in the German markets, and in many parts of the world where German coal is exported, there is what he calls cut-throat competition. There it is, and if my right hon. Friend has to go to Geneva to arrange a quota for these different countries—that is all that his argument amounts to—as well as for us, it means that this cut-throat competition, as far as we are concerned, is to be brought to an end, and if the other countries are to be free to go to the coaling stations, to manufacturers, railways and gasworks without any limitation upon them, he cannot drive a good bargain under those conditions.

The discussion, as far as it has gone, I think, has been on purely theoretical lines, except that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire has given a great many particulars which are present in the minds of those controlling the export trade of this country, and for very good reasons, namely, that they have to deal with these things every day in the week. I notice that both the hon. Member for Whitehaven and the President of the Board of Trade speak of these matters as being capable of arrangement, but let me put this case. A colliery or exporting firm acting for a colliery succeeds in getting fairly large contracts from railway companies and gasworks. They do that probably on a 12 months' basis, and they try to cover as much of their potential output as they can by these long contracts. But that is not the whole story, for at the coal exchanges of Newcastle. Cardiff and Glasgow, there are chance orders and in this way they get in to new business and if we cannot take these orders we lose the sale of that extra coal.

The classic example is what happened during the heavy frost of last year. Danzig was frozen up and Polish coal could not be got through. Suddenly, without anybody anticipating that it was possible, there were purchasers from Oslo, Stockholm, Helsingfors and so on, all of whom wanted coal. The demand came quite suddenly from the European market. Newcastle was suddenly aware of it, and Glasgow and Cardiff immediately began to make bids to those gasworks and railways that required coal, and we succeeded in getting extra orders which redounded to the advantage, not only of the exporters and the coalowners, but of the miners themselves.


A good part of that was due to the frost.


It is that fluctuating amount of trade for which I am pleading. If we are going to give up the chance of getting these orders, the chance for our merchants to be first in the market, we are going to sacrifice a very important part of our foreign coal trade. And it is not only a question of helping the coal trade. There is scarcely a heavy trade in the country which does not benefit from it. We have had a standing example of that, again in the Baltic. We captured a certain amount of that trade, and vessels had to be chartered to take the coal out. Once they were out in the Baltic, they were prepared to bring ore back at lower freights than they could have accepted if they had gone out in ballast and had only brought the ore to this country. The iron trade benefited from that. Similarly, they were able to go out carrying coal to the Baltic and to bring home timber at a lower rate per standard than it would have been possible to charge if they had had to go out in ballast. Unfortunately, no grain was then coming from Russia, but, if there had been, the same thing would have happened—the grain would have come back at a lower gross price because the freights homeward could have been cut down. In the public interest it is of the very first importance for the basic trades and for the consuming public of this country that there should be the utmost freedom of export, because that is the only way in which you can keep that outward cargo business going which redounds to the benefit of the whole country on the return voyage.

It is very often said in these Debates that the coal trade is stagnant, but I venture to disagree with that suggestion. A great deal that happens in the coal trade is on the margin. It may be that there is a demand for coal that may pass away. It may be that, owing to the demand for oil at some of the coaling stations, the demand for coal has almost entirely disappeard in the course of a single season, or because, in the economy of arranging the voyages, it is better to take in enough coal at this end and go right out without calling at coaling stations at all. Sometimes, on the other hand, it is necessary to take in coal at the coaling stations, owing to fluctuations in the freight market one way or the other. These are things which cannot be foreseen, but they do arise, and they have to be provided for at the time, as they cannot be covered by a 12 months' contract. There are dozens, and, indeed, hundreds of cases in various places in the world where you can undoubtedly make a 12 months' contract and be perfectly satisfied, but when you come to coaling stations and other places which are affected, some by the weather and some by fluctuations in the freight markets, they may come at any moment into the market and ask unexpectedly for 100,000 tons or 50,000 tons. Then you have to charter 10 or a dozen vessels and get them out at once. It was that constant readiness of our merchants to jump into the market and take the trade when it arises which gave us a great deal of the increase in our export coal trade which occurred during the year 1929.

These proposals would put an end to that, and it would be a very serious matter if it were even checked. I know that my right hon. Friend thinks that all that he is going to do is to get rid, as the hon. Member for Whitehaven said, of cutthroat competition. If there were international agreements which were effective, it might be possible to work on a quota system in all countries all at once, but we are to have a quota system in this country, existing perhaps for a year, but it may be many years before anything of the kind is reached abroad, and in the meantime we should lose these markets; and the miners, who could not be kept fully employed, would be the first sufferers, because their suffering is direct and immediate, whereas the suffering of the coalowners may be kept off by the buffer of their reserves or of their overdrafts. The House ought not to regard that position lightly.

It seems to me that, the more one looks into the question of the export trade, the more essential it is that it should be given the utmost elasticity, that no checks should be placed upon it in the interests of all concerned, but that it should have complete freedom to meet the demand as and when it arises. Do not let it be imagined for one moment that those who control the coalfields of foreign countries are going to be so merciful to us. They want to get business, and so do we, and it is our duty to capture it for the sake of the national trade and of the miners employed in it. Anything that we do to take away our freedom in the foreign export trade to capture those contracts, will be throwing away much of our present organisation for the sale of coal.

Do not let the House run away with the idea that our present organisation is not effective. We have some of the best commercial travellers in the world representing us abroad. They are alert, and they can see more of the progress of trade and of what may be required than almost anyone else. They are very much alive to the fact that oil is competing with us all over the world. One of the things which is always present in their minds is that there is a very considerable amount of shipping which now has steam machinery that can burn coal or oil alternatively, and, if you are prepared to throw the balance against the one and in favour of the other, you may actually damage the main demand which keeps our collieries going and which keeps our merchants and miners employed. These men are alert in looking out for this business, and they will be handicapped if they are put under a quota. If they are tied to a quota they might as well come home and kick their heels here for 11 months in the year, but what we want is to see them at work for 11 months of the year looking out for this demand wherever they can get it, and bringing back orders to this country, so that our ships may be employed in carrying the cargoes, our miners may be employed in bringing the coal to the surface, and our merchants may be employed in selling it wherever trade arises. Under those conditions we shall see the coal trade put on a sound basis again, as it was to some extent last year, by a great increase in the demand.


I rise to support the Amendment which has been moved by my horn and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies). If one reads the Amendment, one can hardly think of anyone who would not support it, because it seeks to prevent anything that will hamper or restrict the production and sale of coal or coke destined for export overseas. In listening to the President of the Board of Trade, one understands that his idea of dealing with the matter is to get the whole of the coalowners of this country speaking as one body, but they will not be speaking as one body in favour of the quota system, which will Affect them in all their dealings with export trade. I quite appreciate that, if there were an international agreement among all coal-producing countries, preferably after they had introduced such a Measure as this, it might be possible, but it seems to me that this is another of those gestures of which the Government are rather fond. We have seen it in the ease of the Naval Conference, in the reduction of our ships before there was any agreement with anybody else. We find it also, though I do not wish to touch upon a thorny subject, in the giving to Russia of recognition before we had any binding agreement on their part. Exactly the same thing is being done in the coal trade by this hampering of the needs of our productive industry in this country, and there is going to be just the same cut-throat competition from abroad.

The consumption of coal in recent years has gone up to only a small extent in proportion to the production, and the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Price) show that we shall get an even smaller share of that consumption under this Measure, because production in this country will be restricted and hampered. Of course, if it were possible to get an international agreement first, and then to bring in this Bill and cut down cut-throat competition, there would be a great deal to be said for it, but this Bill is being introduced before any other country has offered to introduce a similar Measure, and that seems to me to be folly from the point of view of our coal trade in this country. I understood that the main idea of Part I of this Bill was to allow our coalowners here to make arrangements which would enable them to cover the increased charges due to Part II. We have a restricted market for coal in this country, and there might he something to be said for some restriction of competition in the home field by means of a quota, but to restrict it in the case of trade abroad is like one district in this country restricting its output while another is not under this Bill at all. I understood that that was why the President of the Board of Trade refused a request to exclude Scotland from the Bill, because, in that case, Scotland would have been able to undercut the quota system in England. I am rather surprised that, if the right hon. Gentleman would not exclude Scotland from that advantage, he should bring in this proposal, which will undoubtedly put the whole of Great Britain at a disadvantage as compared with other countries which have no such restrictions. The hon. Member for Whitehaven asked what was the use of a regulating Bill here if there was no such Bill in any other country, and I agree with him completely—


I said that in Germany, and other countries on the continent, they have such organisations, and they are waiting for us to set up an organisation here. Then there can be an international agreement, but unless we take that step there can be none.


It seems to me that what we are doing is taking a definite and binding statutory step which will require another Act of Parliament to alter it. It may be that in Germany they are doing something of the kind, but there is no other country that is prepared to meet us simultaneously with the passing of our own Measure. If we bring in this Measure and lose a large part of our export coal trade, we shall have great difficulty in getting it back when other countries adopt similar Measures.

As regards the question of making up the extra costs which obviously are going to be incurred in connection with Part II of the Bill, we can see that, if we can keep on expanding our export trade, we can reduce the overhead charges, produce more coal, and get better credit balances abroad, and we thus enable the industry to pay the extra charges due to the shortening of the working day by half an hour. I am very much surprised that this Amendment is not going to be considered by the Government at all, because it seems to me to be vital, in these days of unemployment, that we should do all that we can to keep our export trade. The President of the Board of Trade says that outside this regulation the production of the mines will be increased, which will mean giving more employment in this country; but when we find that here there is a provision which, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, will limit that production and will limit the employment that is possible in this country, it does seem to be a very strange step to be taken by a Government which says that it is trying to deal with the unemployment problem. With a larger export trade the overhead charges will be less, and the industry will he better able to compete and yet to pay, probably, the same wages as it would be able to pay if output were restricted and the overhead charges increased for every ton of coal sold. It seems to me that this is a gratuitous interference with the export trade of this country, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider it and will meet this Amendment in some way.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I apologise for not having heard the whole of my right hon. Friend's speech, but I rather think I know what his arguments were, just as he knows that I was with a certain deputation and that I could not be here. We have accepted the principle of the quota, on this side of the Committee anyhow, and however much sympathy we may have with the Amendment—and I have a great deal of sympathy—we cannot avoid supporting my right hon. Friend in resisting it. The reason I should have liked to see it accepted is because of the experience we have had in my own constituency. We are one of the greatest coal exporting ports in the world, and we have, unfortunately, had a dose of this artificial restriction before. It was unofficial. It was ad hoc. We had not the same locus standi with the Government then as I hope we shall have in the future. Under the form of a Five County Marketing Scheme, we were put to great loss and inconvenience, men being thrown out of work and business lost in export coal because of the constant putting down of quotas and never knowing from month to month what this body of mineowners would decide to be the quota allowed. They did this without consulting the coal exporting or the shipping interests, and the then Minister of Mines will admit that we were put to tremendous inconvenience and loss by this partial quota scheme. The position is that we have adopted this quota, and we are going again to have a reduction of exported coal. It is a choice of evils, and we have to think of the industry as a whole and, of course, we shall then be able to go into the market with our international rivals and have a great international quota. All that is agreed, but we anticipate with apprehension in the North that we may again lose business through being unable to get the required kinds of coal for mixing or to pick up export cargoes.

There is a great deal in what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) has said. The remedy is that the Board of Trade must recognise that there is sure to be, with the best organisation and the best safeguards, inconvenience in the shipping ports. The President of the Board of Trade, even by virtue of the office he holds, is the last person who would wish to see the shipping interest injured, and still less the men who earn their living by loading coal in the ships. It will be necessary, therefore, for the Board of Trade to watch carefully the working of the quota from the beginning. The Bill says it will be decided by the central council, composed of representatives of all the mineowners in the several districts. Those are the very people who tried to put this scheme into operation before, with the most damaging results, and we do not trust either their competence or their national outlook. We think they are only too anxious to get a profit for non-efficient pits that ought to be closed down or to get their money easily.


In view of the fact that these same coalowners will operate the district schemes, what assurance can the hon. and gallant Gentleman give that we shall have any better state of affairs than existed in the past?

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

This is, after all, a Government scheme, and the Government will have a certain power of interference that under the former scheme, which was introduced with the blessing of the then Government, they did not have. When we lost trade in Hull because we could not get our coal to sell to our customers, and the shipowners went for their coal elsewhere, we had no means of bringing pressure to bear on the Committee. All we could do was to go and see the Minister of Mines. He gave us great sympathy and wrote to the organisation, but they snapped their fingers at him if it suited them. They cannot do that under the present scheme. There are safeguards, but my right hon. Friend and his officials will have to watch the scheme, especially at the beginning, very carefully, and he will have to be prepared to bring pressure to bear if the coal export trade is being affected. That is only right and fair. If my right hon. Friend can give that assurance, it will remove many apprehensions that are felt by people in the North, who recognise the difficulties and look to him as their champion and defender. As long as he is there, they have a worthy and stout defender and champion, but they do not know him as well as I do. A word from him now as to the knowledge the Board of Trade have of these apprehensions and the solid reasons for them would be extremely helpful to the men who are, in face of great difficulties, doing their best to keep the trade of the country going.


In the state of my voice, I did not wish to take part in the Debate, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech causes me to make an effort. For base ingratitude I have never heard anything like it. If he only looks at the exports from Hull during the time the scheme has been in force and compares them with the exports for the previous year, he will see that, in spite of quota and in spite of Regulations, about 200 per cent. more coal was handled by his constituents than before the scheme came into operation.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the hon. Baronet aware that since the five county scheme was dropped the exports have gone up still further?


The hon. and gallant Gentleman is entirely wrong. He has been in India and does not know that the five county scheme is still working, and coal is still passing through the hands of his constituents. He has been got at by the speculative merchants in Hull, who never liked the scheme because the commission was regulated at 3 per cent. on the cost, so that they could not speculate and do what they liked. They are the gentlemen who are using the hon. and gallant Gentleman as the monkey to pull the chestnuts out of the fire. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives, during the month of the big frost last year as much coal as could be pulled out of the Midland areas, that use the port of Hull, was pulled out and exported and sold as if there had been no quota at all. It is not this drastic scheme that has been sketched to the Committee. It is an elastic and workable scheme which has proved to be practicable.


I should like to try to remove a misconception into which the Committee has fallen. When the President of the Board of Trade referred to the necessity of a quota in order to arrive at agreement with foreign countries, he has been misled, because my experience of conversations with German coalowners and the German trade generally is that what they are after is not curtailment of output of export coal but a definite delineation of the frontiers of territories in which coal can be sold. Therefore, the actual reduction of output will have nothing to do with the carrying out of negotiations as to the territories in which the various types of coal in foreign countries are sold. To my mind, looking at the question purely from the export trade point of view, all the tendency of modern coal mining is to improve the output and reduce the cost. In the coalfields of the North, especially on the East coast of Scotland, if these restrictions are carried through, they will kill the trade stone dead. In the past year we have had a considerable improvement. The men have been fully employed and the coal has been sold at a small profit, but if you are going to limit the amount of coal that is going to be drawn for exports you immediately counteract the tendency of modern engineering whereby money has been spent in order to reduce the cost of coal. You have another fact to consider in the North, that you have enormous quantities of water to pump—in some mines as much as 3,000 gallons a minute—whereas the coalfields in the South, Yorkshire and elsewhere, are down to a small amount—about 200 gallons. That weight of water, when applied to a restricted output, immediately increases the cost per ton. Therefore, if this type of scheme is adopted, it will undoubtedly hit the mines in the North very much harder than those in the Midlands. Further, we as a nation cannot hope to control the foreign trade. We can try to get our share of it. If we think we are going to Geneva or elsewhere to be able to control all the output of coal in Germany, Poland and France we are under a delusion. At any rate, we are moving in the wrong direction in imposing the quota first. We had far better go to the nations and ask for a delineation of frontiers and, after that, we can deal with the situation as the scheme may be-mand, but to limit your output first by quota and then go into the council chamber to try to make arrangements seems to me the wrong way. In my opinion—and I have some knowledge of the trade—as far as the North is concerned, restriction of output of export coal will hit us hard and will reduce the trade and, I am satisfied, will do definite injury to the pits.


I do not think my right hon. Friend will have any difficulty in rebutting the more extravagant charges we have had from the other side of the Committee. As I understand it, there is nothing whatever in the Bill to prevent or to shut off our output of export coal. If we are able to sell at an economic price, covering our cost, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the coal-owners doubling their export, but I am afraid such a happy eventuality is not very likely. There is no element of restriction whatever in the Bill itself. The coalowners will only put restriction on for one reason, that they are unable to sell more than a given amount at a reasonable price. I think it is time we faced up to it that it is not to the advantage of the country indefinitely to export coal below cost of production. It might be necessary to do so for a short time. It might be necessary to do so in the act of driving a bargain with other countries, but we shall come on to that point in another provision of the Bill. It is not the thing to do on a permanent scale.

There was one criticism by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) which seemed to have a good deal of force. That was the point on the flexibility of the scheme. He pointed out the great rapidity with which chance orders from abroad may arise for our coal owing to some demand created by weather conditions or other conditions abroad. I think that we on this side of the Committee, at any rate, would value an assurance from the President of the Board of Trade that the mechanism for fixing these quotas, these special quotas and the special standard tonnage, for the export coal provided for in this Bill, can be operated very rapidly. I believe that under the Five Counties Scheme they can change their quota with the greatest rapidity, and that during the cold spell a year ago the quota was changed several times in one month. There was no danger, therefore, of losing emergency orders owing to their not being able to accept them because it would bring the quantity over the quota. I hope that in these rather more elaborate schemes under this Bill there are not too many safeguards. My feeling is that there is a danger that there will be too many safeguards rather than too few. I hope that we shall not have too many committees to impair the rapidity with which quotas can be altered, especially in the export market.

I have very little doubt that the President of the Board of Trade will be able to reassure us on that point, which does seem to be one of substance. If he does reassure us on that point, I think that there will be nothing else left of any force in the criticisms which have been made. It is for the regulation of our export coal. It does not in any way restrict that export if the persons who are exporting, the coalowners, who should be able to judge of this matter, at any rate, consider that they can sell coal abroad. It would normally help and strengthen their hands in driving a bargain with other foreign coal exporters. Anybody who has made any study whatever of the export coal market to-day must realise that the making of an international bargain with our great coal competitors is the only hope for the export coal trade of this country.


It is obvious that the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Strachey) has been greatly moved by the powerful argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman). I think the Committee will agree that that was a complete reply to the President of the Board of Trade as to the matter of time. It is all very well for the hon. Member to try to escape from the force of the argument of my right hon. Friend by putting up the Five Counties Scheme, May I submit to him that in that scheme you have local arrangements between people on a voluntary basis and they can do what they like at any time. Here we have a fixed and rigid business, in so far as you have the quotas in each district, and then you have the central board. If there is to be a suggestion that in order to react to a sudden demand in some part of the world one district should want an alteration in the export quota, it will raise all kinds of differences, and perhaps jealousies, as between one district and another, and you may possibly have to refer it to the central board before you get a decision. All those concerned with the export of coal, and with the ports, as is the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) are aware that there is already in the ports of the land a great deal of apprehension less we miss our markets. Sometimes it is not a matter of a month, but of 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour as to whether you can get an order in the world's markets. I think, therefore, we shall want a much more powerful reply from the right hon. Gentleman on that point.

There are only two other points on which I want to say a word or two. One of these points the right hon. Gentleman did not stress, and I think wisely, namely, the discrimination between home and export trade, and therefore I will not do so. I want to say a word about the bargaining powers. Surely if what the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Price) expressed in his admirable speech is what we want, namely, to build up bargaining powers with our competitors, the last thing we should do is rigidly to tie our hands before we discuss the matter, because the President of the Board of Trade is at least giving himself an organisation which can discuss the matter. He may have a central board, and they can talk. I think that the hon. Member for Whitehaven will be obliged if I call his attention to what the Lewis Committee said on that very point with regard to a tentative German organisation. It is not quite so rigid as I understood him to express it to be. This is what they say, in page 38, after referring to the Westphalian Syndicate: These rules as to quotas are made primarily for the home market. For the export market (including certain districts of Germany) there is set aside in advance every six months an amount equal to that actually exported in the previous six months. It is made up by a deduction from each member's sale quota in due proportion; and this deduction is made whether the member wishes to engage in the export trade or not. But no member is bound to engage in the export trade unless he wishes, and if he does so there are no fines to enforce adherence to his quota. Consequently the export quotas are mainly important through their effect on the calculation of the quotas for sale at home. That throws a definite light on the statement of the hon. Member as to the way the scheme operates in Germany. Outside this House, all round the coast, is felt the greatest apprehension as to the way in which this thing will work with regard to the export trade, first through the central organisation, and then through the district organisations, not as at present on a voluntary basis like the Five County Scheme, but equipped with all the statutory powers and penalties of an Act of Parliament. I think that my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment is the natural way to get what I understand the Committee want, namely, to keep up our export trade in coal. I venture to suggest that the method comprised later on in the Bill is the unnatural way, because it will undoubtedly provoke reactions, some of which, I think, were in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull although they were not expressed in his speech, namely, upon coal used for bunkers and trawlers competing with coal sold to our foreign competitors for shipping and trawling. I will not pursue that point now. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is, as far as I can gather, from those concerned in the coal trade in my division, the gravest apprehension of the standardising by quota of the trade in export coal.


It is very unfortunate that we have to discuss this matter without having before us the schemes which ultimately are to be produced under this Bill. Up to now we have simply had to go upon our imagination. We have had to make guesses, and we have assumed a set of conditions which may never come into existence, each Member assuming anything he cares to assume. The one general, underlying assumption of all the criticism is that the coalowners of this country are a set of consummate fools with absolutely no ability for protecting their own interests. I cannot imagine that some of the speeches would have been delivered had it been kept in mind that the coalowners and their commercial staffs are highly efficient men who know their business. I have no doubt whatever of the knowledge and efficiency of those engaged on the commercial side of the industry. I think that we have as highly efficient men—when I say that I mean those who understand the commercial side of the mining industry in this country—as there are to be found anywhere else. The methods adopted, no doubt, make it impossible for many of them to put their knowledge, skill, and ability to the best use.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman), for instance, referred to contracts being made a year in advance, and he was speaking of firsthand knowledge. He said that the whole of the coal was not sold on yearly contracts. Day by day on the exchange "spec" sales have to be provided for. He was afraid that under this system we should lose a lot of these sales because of the schemes which are to be brought into existence. Surely the coalowners of this country and the commercial men who are running that business know all about the annual contracts which are made and all about the amount of coal which is sold upon "spec" and they will make provision in their schemes for meeting conditions of that description. There is no industry in this country in which the statistics, the data and the facts available are so complete as they are in connection with the mining industry. The coalowners, with their expert commercial men, can estimate to within a very narrow margin what will be the requirements month after month in the mining industry both at home and abroad. I am perfectly satisfied that when these schemes are being drawn up under this Measure by the coalowners they will make ample provision for all things to which reference has been made in this Debate, and safeguard and protect their interests against the calamities which have been apprehended by several hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in this Debate.

6.0 p.m.

It has been suggested that we may get a big demand for export coal, and that we are going to limit the amount which we shall send abroad and that then our foreign competitor will come in and take it. The President of the Board of Trade has made it abundantly clear that neither in the terms of the Bill nor in the intention of the Government is the Measure meant in any shape or form to limit output or to make it impossible to supply the largest possible demand for which there may be a call at any time. The coalowners are not going to prepare any scheme which will put them out of competition in foreign markets, and they would be consummate fools if they did so. This legislation will give to the coalowners of this country, as has been said more than once in this Debate, a negotiating and bargaining power. I care not whether it is for the limitation of prices or, as an hon. Member has just said, for the allocation and demarcation of areas in foreign countries, but in any case it will give them a bargaining power which will enable them to make international agreements for the elimination from our export business of that element of cut-throat competition which has had such a disastrous effect hitherto.

That being the case, I hope that this Committee is going to give a little bit of credit to the men who will be drawing up the schemes for having a knowledge of this industry and of the kind of schemes which will be required to safeguard the interests of the industry. If we keep the fact in mind that the very people whose interests are involved are the very people who will have to devise and draw up these schemes, we shall be less apprehen- sive as to the possibilities of what will take place under them. If I believed that this Bill would result in some of the consequences which have been predicted by hon. Members I should certainly be as much opposed to it as anybody, but I am quite satisfied that when these schemes are drawn up by the coalowners these fears will prove to be entirely unfounded, and that the coalowners will look after themselves.


This Amendment is undoubtedly important, but I think the Committee will now be able to come to a decision, especially in view of the crowded programme. In that case I will content myself with one or two observations only in reply. In answer to the right hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman), I agree with 95 per cent. of his speech as to the importance of our export trade, but there is a slight error when he suggests that the object of this legislation is to restrict the output in such a way as to penalise our export trade. The difference between the two sides of the Committee is this: Hon. Members on the Liberal side seek to take this export of coal entirely outside the Regulations for the purpose of safeguarding our commercial enterprises. We on this side say that in the interests of the coal industry as a whole, and in order to prevent the possible sale of coal at a loss, it is necessary to keep all production under the regulation of the quota, and we have provided in the district schemes for the complete elasticity which is undoubtedly necessary in regard to the case of the export trade. What form does that elasticity take? It provides that there can be an immediate response in the basic tonnage, and in the quota applied to it, and there is also that elasticity in a modification in the basic tonnage from day to day and from hour to hour that this industry may in its export trade demand. The hon. Member is quite right in saying that under the Five Counties Scheme the quota was altered three times within a single month, and under the schemes proposed by this Bill there will be all that kind of rapid operation.

The object of this Bill is not to sell less coal abroad, but to sell more coal abroad, subject to this consideration, that it is sold at an economic price. I have never met anyone in the long course of these discussions who has suggested that we should sell coal at home or abroad at a loss, and to anyone who makes that proposition I have nothing to say except this, that he would wind up this industry very soon. The short reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is contained in the figures of the Five Counties Scheme for the last three years 1927, 1928 and 1929. In 1927, before that scheme came into operation, there was sent through the Humber ports about 2,300,000 tons of coal. The scheme came into operation in 1928, and in that year the exports had bounded up to 3,700,000 tons. Last year, in the full operation of that scheme, no doubt stimulated by the cold period, the export of coal through the

Humber ports was 6,500,000 tons; and I say, without a moment's hesitation, that this was due overwhelmingly to the operation of the Five Counties Scheme. I have shown conclusively, I think, that there is the necessary elasticity in the Bill and the necessary elasticity in the schemes when they come into operation; and there is a manifest advantage to the export trade. With this explanation, I hope that the Committee will now be able to come to a decision.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 272.

Division No. 218.] AYES. [6.7 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Harbord, A.
Albery, Irving James Dalkeith, Earl of Hartington, Marquess of
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Haslam, Henry C.
Aske, Sir Robert Davies, Dr. Vernon Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Astor, Viscountess Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Atholl, Duchess of Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Atkinson, C. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Dawson, Sir Philip Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Duckworth, G. A. V. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Eden, Captain Anthony Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Beaumont, M. W. Edmondson, Major A. J. Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Berry, Sir George Elliot, Major Walter E. Hurd, Percy A.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Elmley, Viscount Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) England, Colonel A. Iveagh, Countess of
Bird, Ernest Roy Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Birkett, W. Norman Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Boothby, R. J. G. Everard, W. Lindsay Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Falle, Sir Bertram G. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Ferguson, Sir John Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Fermoy, Lord Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Boyce, H. L. Fielden, E. B. Knox, Sir Alfred
Bracken, B. Fison, F. G. Clavering Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Brass, Captain Sir William Foot, Isaac. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Briscoe, Richard George Ford, Sir P. J. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Brown, Brig.-Gen, H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Buchan, John Galbraith, J. F. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Buckingham, Sir H. Ganzonl, Sir John Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Gault, Lieut. Col. Andrew Hamilton Little, Dr. E. Graham
Burton, Colonel H. W. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lleweilln, Major J. J.
Butler, R. A. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Locker-Lampton, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Carver, Major W. H. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Long, Major Eric
Castle Stewart, Earl of Glassey, A. E. Lymington, Viscount
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Glyn, Major R. G. C. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Gower, Sir Robert Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Grace, John Macquisten, F. A.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Granville, E. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.) Gray, Milner Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Margesson, Captain H. D.
Chapman, Sir S. Greene, W. P. Crawford Marjoribanks, E. C.
Christie, J. A. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Meller, R. J.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Gritten, W. G. Howard Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Millar, J. D.
Colfox, Major William Philip Gunston, Captain D. W. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatnan)
Colville, Major D. J. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mond, Hon. Henry
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hammersley, S. S. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Hanbury, C. Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Muirhead, A. J. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Train, J.
Nathan, Major H. L. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Turton, Robert Hugh
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wallace, Capt. D. E, (Hornsey)
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Warrender, Sir Victor
O'Neill, Sir H. Savery, S. S. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Scott, James Wayland, Sir William A.
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Wells, Sydney R.
Penny, Sir George Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) White, H. G.
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Skelton, A. N. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Pilditch, Sir Philip Smith-Carington, Neville W. Windsor Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Power, Sir John Cecil Smithers, Waldron Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Preston, Sir Walter Rueben Somerset, Thomas Withers, Sir John James
Purbrick, R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Pybus, Percy John Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Womersley, W. J.
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Southby, Commander A. R. J. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ramsbotham, H. Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Reid, David D. (County Down) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Remer, John R. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Reynolds, Col. Sir James Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Thomson, Sir F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Major-General Sir Robert Hutchison
Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Todd, Capt. A. J. and Major Owen.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Day, Harry Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Denman, Hon. R. D. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Devlin, Joseph Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Dukes, C. Kelly, W. T.
Alpass, J. H. Duncan, Charles Kennedy, Thomas
Ammon, Charles George Ede, James Chuter Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Angell, Norman Edmunds, J. E. Kinley, J.
Arnott, John Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Knight, Holford
Attlee, Clement Richard Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lang, Gordon
Ayles, Walter Egan, W. H. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston) Forgan, Dr. Robert Lathan, G.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Freeman, Peter Law, Albert (Bolton)
Barnes, Alfred John Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Law, A. (Rosendale)
Batey, Joseph Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith. N.) Lawrence, Susan
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Gibbins, Joseph Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Bellamy, Albert Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Lawson, John James
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Gill, T. H. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Bennett, Captain E. N.(Cardiff, Central) Gillett, George M. Leach, W.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Gossling, A. G. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Benson, G. Gould, F. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lees, J.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Lindley, Fred W.
Bowen, J. W. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lloyd, C. Ellis
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Logan, David Gilbert
Broad, Francis Alfred Groves, Thomas E. Longbottom, A. W.
Brockway, A. Fenner Grundy, Thomas W. Longden, F.
Bromfield, William Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Bromley, J. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Lowth, Thomas
Brooke, W. Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Lunn, William
Brothers, M. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Harbison, T. J. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hardie, George D. Mac Donald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon McElwee, A.
Buchanan, G. Hastings, Dr. Somerville McEntee, V. L.
Burgess, F. G. Haycock, A. W. Mackinder, W.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Hayday, Arthur McKinlay, A.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Hayes, John Henry MacLaren, Andrew
Cameron, A. G. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) MacNeill-Weir, L.
Cape, Thomas Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) McShane, John James
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Charleton, H. C. Herriotts, J. Mansfield, W.
Chater, Daniel Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) March, S.
Church, Major A. G. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Marcus, M.
Clarke, J. S. Hoffman, P. C. Markham, S. F.
Cluse, W. S. Hollins, A. Marley, J.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hopkin, Daniel Marshall, Fred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour. Horrabin, J. F. Mathers, George
Compton, Joseph Hudson, James H. (Hudderefield) Matters, L. W.
Cove, William G. Isaacs, George Melville, Sir James
Daggar, George John, William (Rhondda, West) Messer, Fred
Dallas, George Johnston, Thomas Middleton, G.
Dalton, Hugh Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Mills, J. T.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Milner, J.
Montague, Frederick Salter, Dr. Alfred Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Morley, Ralph Sanders, W. S. Thurtle, Ernest
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Sandham, E. Tillett, Ben
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Sawyer, G. F. Tinker, John Joseph
Mort, D. L. Scrymgeour, E. Toole, Joseph
Moses, J. J. H. Scurr, John Tout, W. J.
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Sexton, James Townend, A. E.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Muff, G. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Turner, B.
Muggeridge, H. T. Sherwood, G. H. Vaughan, D. J.
Murnin, Hugh Shield, George William Viant, S. P.
Naylor, T. E. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Wallace, H. W.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Shillaker, J. F. Wallhead, Richard C.
Noel Baker, P. J. Shinwell, E. Watkins, F. C.
Oldfield, J. R. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Simmons, C. J. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Palin, John Henry Sinkinson, George Wellock, Wilfred
Paling, Wilfrid Sitch, Charles H. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Palmer, E. T. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Perry, S. F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) West, F. R.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Phillips, Dr. Marlon Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Pole, Major D. G. Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Potts, John S. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Price, M. P. Snell, Harry Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Quibell, D. J. K. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Raynes, W. R. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Richards, R. Sorensen, R. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Stamford, Thomas W. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Longhb'gh)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Stephen, Campbell Wise, E. F.
Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Wright, W. (Ruthergien)
Ritson, J. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Sullivan, J.
Romerll, H. G. Sutton, J. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. T. Henderson.
Rowson, Guy Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)

The next Amendment which I select is that in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans)—in page 4, line 26, after the word "by," to insert the words "the amount of the district allocation or."


This Amendment relates to the question of arbitrations, and the same question arises on Clause 3 of the Bill. I propose not to move this Amendment here, but to move it on Clause 3.

Colonel LANE FOX

I beg to move, in page 5, line 2, to leave out paragraph (a).

This paragraph permits levies by the central council on the districts for the purpose of facilitating the sale of any class of coal. The procedure involved is much on the lines of the Five Counties Scheme but this is, of course, a very much enlarged edition of that scheme and there is a restriction and a want of elasticity in a scheme of this kind which is on a statutory basis as compared with a voluntary scheme. This proposal in the Bill sets up a general system of a levy on coal which is produced to be sold for home consumption, in order to provide a subsidy on the export coal which is sold below cost price. It has been said in favour of this proposal that it will bring no unfair advantage to any section of the coal trade and will inflict no unfairness on any district. It is quite true that the majority in the central council will naturally represent those who are producing for home consumption, because that council being appointed on a tonnage basis, and the tonnage of home consumption being considerably larger than the export tonnage, the representatives of the home consumption will always have the advantage but they are not likely to be subject to unfair levy by the exporting districts.

A much wider and bigger principle however is involved. It is quite true that the coal industry in this Bill have arranged for a system which will not hurt themselves, but what about the damage which they are going to do to other interests? What about the damage that they are going to do to the country? I look upon that as a far larger question than what is actually going to be the effect upon even such an important industry as the coal industry itself. I suggest, and I hope to prove that this is a short-sighted as well as a selfish policy on the part of the coal industry, and I am surprised to find the Government supporting such a policy in this Bill. If there is anything essential at the present moment, in view of the state of employment and the general condition of affairs, it is that the heavy industries should get all the encouragement and help that we can give them. That is so for two reasons. They are the chief consumers of coal in this country, and they are very large employers of labour. This paragraph (a) amounts to a proposal that we should subsidise the foreign competitors against whom our heavy industries are finding it so extremely difficult to compete; that we should let them have British coal at a lower rate than that at which home industry can get it, by means of a subsidy which is to be raised at the expense of the home supply on which our heavy industries rely.

It is proposed that we should raise the cost of production in the coal industry generally at home in order that coal may be sold to the foreigner at a lower rate. Whatever good that system may do to the coal industry, it is going to do considerable damage to other home industries in this country and particularly to those industries in which it is so necessary at the moment that there should be better trade. I say this is a short-sighted policy because the prosperity of our home heavy industries is essential. It is to the interest of the coal industry itself that these heavy industries should prosper, in view of the large consumption of coal which they represent. In addition to that, it is a short-sighted policy because a subsidy of this kind will inevitably he met by a counter-subsidy. The system will not last. It will not be effective but it will seriously damage home industry without being of any permanent help to the coal industry. This is a crazy scheme and I should very much like to know what is the private opinion of the Lord Privy Seal upon it. It is said that the same thing has been done voluntarily under the Five Counties scheme but that proves nothing, except that the proposal in the Bill is not necessary, because, if such arrangements are required at all, they can be arrived at voluntarily and the proposal in the Bill is not wanted. But I deny that the fact of its being possible under a voluntary scheme of a limited character, applying to one particular coal-field, however big that one coal-field may be, means that therefore the proposal is justified on this scale and on a statutory basis.

This scheme will be on a huge scale. It will have all the pains and penalties attaching to a statutory provision surrounding it, and it will not have the elasticity of a voluntary local scheme like the Five Counties scheme. To propose that we should make a scheme of that sort statutory, compulsory, and general is, I submit, to suggest an act of madness to which I hope this Committee will not agree. There is no precedent for a proposal to endow any great ring with such far-reaching statutory powers. It is a proposal which is not justified by the Report of the Commission presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). It is not justified by the reports of any of the numerous committees of inquiry which have dealt with the industry, nor is it supported by the advice of any body which has hitherto considered the conditions of the industry. It was not even suggested at the last Election. It has not the sanction of any large body of people in the country. I should like to ask whether any hon. Member opposite who stood for a constituency on the North East coast would have dared to tell the blast-furnace men that he was going to vote for a scheme to subsidise the foreign competitors who have kept those men out of employment for so long; that he was going to vote in favour of giving those foreign competitors cheap coal and at the same time raising the cost of production of coal in this country—the coal on which our own industries depend. Many wild promises were made in the mining districts at the last, Election, but not one single candidate in a mining district, whatever other promises he may have made, ever promised the miners that he would vote for a proposal of this kind for the purpose of securing a better export of coal. This scheme has no justification or sanction behind it. I do not want to say anything which is too harsh but the fact is that in this matter the Miners Federation and the Mining Association are standing in together to bleed the British public, and they are being helped to do so by this Government, whose pledges and promises in the past certainly ought not to justify such a scheme. The proposal, as I say, has no sanction in the country and I hope it will have no sanction here.


This Amendment seeks to leave out the most unfortunate provision in a most deplorable Bill. It is a provision which violates every principle of sound business and, if I may say so, every principle of sound Socialism. Like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment I cannot imagine any hon. Member opposite standing up in his constituency at the last Election to say that if a Labour Government were returned to power, that Government would vote for putting up the price of home coal in order to bring down the price of the coal which we sell abroad. It has been argued from these benches, that the effect of this proposal would be to subsidise foreign manufacturers at the expense of the home manufacturer, and no doubt that will be answered from the benches opposite by the statement that to-day a great many of our foreign competitors are competing with us by means of cartelised coal. I am anticipating the argument but what has that to do with the principle which we are discussing here? The purpose of this proposal is to protect the home market and to give Protection in its most naked and unashamed form. If it were the Protection that is advocated by hon. Members above the Gangway, they would be able to claim, at least, that the foreigner would bear the burden, but this proposal contemplates that the home consumer shall bear the burden of the coal which we sell to our foreign competitors. It is a measure to protect the home market, because in districts like South Wales, about three-fifths of the total output goes in export coal.

The Government are proposing that the home consumer should bear the racket of raising the cost of the home coal, because they cannot expect the foreigner, and they cannot compel the foreigner, to pay the additional cost, as they hoped to compel the home consumer. It will be argued that the object of this proposal is to force down the price of our export coal so that we shall gain a greater proportion of the market abroad against the glorious day when all Europe will accept the quota. It has been called an export levy, but I prefer to call it an extort levy, because that would be the purpose of it, as far as the people of this country are concerned. The President of the Board of Trade hopes that by this means he will recover a greater part of our export market, but does he really expect the Committee to believe that? Does he really expect that by subsidising our export coal, we are not going to provoke a similar subsidisation of coal produced in other countries? Does he really propose that other Governments and other consumers abroad are going to lie down under this kind of thing? A Socialist Government can despoil the people of this country, but they are not yet in a position to despoil the people of other countries.

I was talking yesterday with a distinguished mining Member on the opposite side of the Committee, and he assured me that this subsidy levy would not actually come into operation, but would merely be held in reserve, the object being to force a cartel in coal in the European coalfield. He used the phrase that it would allow a greater measure of competitive flexibility. There will have to be a much greater measure of conscientious flexibility in this House if a Measure of this kind is to get through tonight. I am not going to raise the question of subsidised grain, although, speaking as an agricultural Member, I think that it should be mentioned. I do not know how the President of the Board of Trade can pretend that this Government is protesting against the dumping of German corn in this country, when he is getting ready to dump our coal into the foreign countries which are sending their corn here. This policy of subsidisation is going to be borne by the consumer in this country, and it will be borne very heavily by the farmers in the agricultural divisions. This Government pays no attention to the woes and troubles of the farmers, and, therefore, the only thing to do in a case like this is to argue from the point of view of the miner.

The operation of this levy will be exactly the same as the operation of the levy granted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin). Part of the subsidy granted in 1925 went to owners' profits, and part went towards miners' wages. It was bitterly denounced by some right hon. Members opposite. One of them was the First Commissioner of Works who, before he took in hand the congenial task of improving our parks and public morals, used to improve our minds through the medium of "Lansbury's Labour Weekly." In that periodical he told us that the subsidy granted by the right hon. Member for Bewdley was the subsidisation of profit; he said that it was a corrupt bargain between the coal bosses and their friends in office. There is a corrupt bargain now. The coal bosses are still there, and to the coal bosses have been added the trade union bosses and their friends opposite. It is a most unholy trinity. Then there was the Lord Privy Seal, who told the railwaymen at that time that he deprecated the granting of that subsidy, because he said that, if you grant a subsidy to one trade and bolster it up, why cannot you grant a subsidy to every other trade? That position is unassailable, for every argument that can be adduced for an export levy in order to maintain the miners' standard of living, can be adduced with 10 times the force for a levy or subsidy on grain in order to protect the standard of living of the agricultural workers. They are a much lower paid body of men than the miners, and they are a body of people who will be hit directly by the operation of this subsidy on home-produced coal.

The miners are supposed for the moment to have a guaranteed wage, but I want to remind the Committee that the miners' wage will come up for reconsideration in a few months. What is going to happen in the meantime? Every coalowner abroad will strain every nerve to force down the cost of production abroad, to force down wages particularly, in order to get as much of the market as he can to meet the subsidised coal which we are going to dump abroad if this proposal is carried. In a few months, we are going to face exactly the same position as we had to face at the time of the subsidy which was granted by the right hon. Member for Bewdley. We shall start a new price-cutting war in the European coalfield. At the end of that time, the coalowners will come to this House, and sit on the doorstep and importune, beg and blackmail the House to give them more powers to fleece the consumers of this country. That is an intolerable position. We on these benches were returned, not to handle out public money by the bucketful to this interest and to that class, but to get as much of a fair deal as we could for the great mass of the people, and I hope that we shall fight this sectional dole at every stage of its progress.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD

I support the Amendment which has been so ably moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Lane Fox), and I do so because this particular paragraph will perpetuate a state of affairs which, in the long run, will prove to be absolutely disastrous to the trade and industry of this country. The President of the Board of Trade has said, not once but many times, that it is not the intention of this Bill that export coal should be sold abroad at a lower price that the cost of production, but there is not a single word in the Bill to prevent export coal being sent abroad below the cost of production. This paragraph actually authorises that being done. We know that it is being done at the present time, but I object to the fact that legal authorisation is being given to a principle of that kind. Everybody who knows anything of the state of affairs on the Continent knows perfectly well that English coal is to be bought at 27s. 6d. per ton, which is practically £1 less than the price at which similar coal is being sold in London.

This paragraph authorises and perpetuates and gives legal sanction to the continuation of a state of affaire like that. It will authorise and encourage the sale of British coal to our Continental trade rivals at a price much below the cost of production. That subsidised coal will be shipped to Stockholm and Gothen to provide cheap coal for the steel industries there, which compete very heavily, not only abroad, but in this country with the products of Birmingham and Sheffield. That coal will be shipped to Copenhagen to be used to run the agricultural machinery in Denmark to enable them to produce butter, corn and sugar at prices with which we are unable to compete, because the industries of this country will have to pay the full market price for their coal, whereas our competitors abroad are apparently going to get it at a reduced price. It is going to be sent to Belgium to provide a cheap supply of coal for Liege, which is competing with every product of Sheffield and Birmingham, not only here but in the markets abroad.

One of the problems which we have to face to-day is whether to take Belgian rails at £2 a ton less than they can be manufactured here, or to be patriotic and buy our own goods. We may question which we will do, but in the markets abroad there is no question; they take the cheaper goods every time, and that is one of the reasons why the works at Sheffield and Birmingham are standing idle, while Liege and places of a similar character on the Continent are, to all intents and purposes, running full time. Again, this cheap coal will be sent to Calais and Dunkirk to run the cement works, and again compete with British products in all parts of the world. If we give a legal sanction to this state of affairs, it will spell disaster to the industries of this country. It is no good providing our competitors with the raw material of their trade at lower prices than we are prepared to provide it to our own manufacturers. It is because I honestly believe that this practice, if continued and given legal sanction, will in the long run prove the ruin of the industries of this country, that I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment.


I approach this Amendment from rather a different angle than that of the right hon. Gentleman who moved it, and from that of those who have spoken upon it. I take the actual words of the paragraph, which it is proposed to delete, which provides for a levy, including of course an export levy, for the purpose of facilitating the sale of any class of coal. I ask myself, in the first instance, exactly where that proposal will lead us, and what it will mean. I have taken out the monthly average of British coal exports for the last three years and the year 1925. I have omitted 1926 for a reason which will be obvious to the Committee. I direct the attention of the Committee to the very remarkable figures. In 1925, the value per ton f.o.b. was 19s. 10d., and the amount of coal exported was rather under 4,250,000 tons. In 1927 the f.o.b. value per ton had gone down to 17s. 10d., and the exports increased to just over 4,250,000 tons. In 1928 the f.o.b. value per ton was reduced still further to 15s. 7d., but the exports were reduced to as low as 4,170,000 tons, for the month. It was not until 1929, when the price was slightly increased to 16s. 2d., that the figure reached 5,000,000 tons for the month. From those figures emerges the remarkable fact of the extraordinary inelasticity of the demand for coal. Those figures show that in 1928, as compared with 1925, we exported 64,000 tons a month less, although the price had been diminished by 4s. 3d. per ton, on the average. The only increase in export that there has been was in 1929, when there was not only an increase in exports, but also a slight increase in price; but that, of course, reflected in great part the temporary advantage which British exporters secured in the Continental market by reason of the abnormal conditions arising from the frost in the early months of last year, and no arguments can be deduced from those special conditions.

We have, by reason of the reduced prices of 1927 and 1928, recovered a small part of the lost ground in France and Northern Europe, but there is one very curious fact with regard to the export tonnage of 1929 in particular when compared with the 1925 tonnage, and that is that such gains as there have been have occurred largely in the exports to France, Belgium and Germany, which are themselves coal-producing countries and which have, to a large extent, been suffering from the same problem as ourselves of over-production. It is a rather remarkable phenomenon. When we come to non-coal-producing countries like Scandinavia we find that, although there is a reduction of 3s. 1d. in the average selling price per ton, the exports to Scandinavia were reduced by over 100,000 tons, per monthly average, in 1929, compared with 1925. As regards South America, the ground regained is negligible, although the price was reduced by as much as 5s. 5d. per ton on the average. Looking at the figures, it is difficult to dogmatise upon the future, but I think the President of the Board of Trade will agree that the most recent trade reports point to signs of a slight slackening in the demand for British coal on the Continent. The probable figure for our export coal is a stabilised figure of about 60,000,000 tons per year—that looks very much like the maximum which we are likely to be able to export—at an average price of about 16s. per ton f.o.b. I think it is not unlikely that the President of the Board of Trade, with all the facilities for examining the figures which he has at his disposal, will agree with that prognosis of the future course of the British coal exporting industry. If we are now to adopt the policy of subsidy which is indicated by this Sub-section (3, a) the results of 1928 suggest that there is no guarantee at all that the loss of revenue per ton will be made up by an increased turnover. All the facts and figures of the past few years point to the contrary.

The question to which I now turn, and it is one which I feel has not been frankly faced, is this: Who is to pay this export levy? I take it that it is common ground that our production of coal is in the neighbourhood of 250,000,000 to 260,000,000 tons a year. I put our exports at the figure of 60,000,000 tons, leaving out of that account the 16,000,000 tons of bunker coal supplied to foreign shipping, because obviously no case can be made out for subsidising that; it would merely mean giving an advantage to foreign shipping and accelerating the change over from coal to oil fuel. That is the subject of a subsequent Amendment to be moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman). Taking the total figure of production at 250,000,000 tons to 260,000,000 tons and deducting from it the 60,000,000 of exports and the 16,000,000 of bunker coal, we are left with rather less than 180,000,000 tons available to bear the subsidy.

I pause in passing to point out that a subsidy of 1s. a ton on export coal would require a levy of 4d. a ton on the whole 180,000,000 tons of coal for domestic consumption. But the whole of that 180,000,000 tons will not be available to bear this levy. The President of the Board of Trade himself, speaking on the Second Reading on the 17th December, pointed out that the levy is to be utilised for the purpose of assisting either the export trade or, it may be, the supply of coal to the depressed industries in Great Britain. I now direct attention to an inquiry as to how much of the 180,000,000 tons will be available to bear this levy. How is this 180,000,000 tons appropriated? I have had the figures taken out, and these are the results in percentages: gas works use just over 10 per cent., in round figures; electricity, just under 6 per cent.; railways, 8 per cent.; iron and steel, 12–2 per cent.; coastwise shipping, under 1 per cent.; collieries, 8.2 per cent.; house coal, 24½ per cent., and general manufacturing and other purpose, just under 30 per cent.

It is quite clear from the speech of the President of the Board of Trade on Second Reading, and if it were not clear from that speech it would be clear from the lamentable facts themselves, that the coal for the iron and steel industry, which takes 12½ per cent. of the coal for domestic consumption, cannot be called upon to bear any levy. Its difficulties are too well known to require stressing now. I scarcely believe that coal for coastwise shipping, which is responsible for 1 per cent. of the consumption, would be made liable for the levy. Collieries themselves are responsible for a consumption of over 8 per cent. of the coal used in this country. Obviously it would be logically absurd to ask the collieries themselves to bear a levy. As regards railways, which are responsible for another 8 per cent. of the consumption, it is palpable that they will have no margin out of which to pay a tax on coal, unless, of course, they raise freights for goods or fares for passengers.


Or both!


Or, as my hon. and learned Friend says, raise the rates for both goods and passengers, with obvious repercussions which I will not stay to discuss. I assume, and I think it is a generous assumption towards the President of the Board of Trade, that one half of the 30 per cent. of domestic consumption attributable to manufacturing industries and other purposes, is to be accounted for by the depressed industries. That leaves about 55 per cent. of the whole of the domestic consumption available for bearing the levy. In round figures, I put it at 100,000,000 tons. A subsidy of 1s. a ton in favour of export coal, which amounts to 4d. per ton on the whole of the domestic consumption, would mean not far short of 1s.—9d. to 1s.—if we took only the coal which is available to bear this levy.

7.0 p.m.

I will not stay to point out the effects, although I have the figures worked out, upon the ordinary small man who buys coal in small quantities. Hon. Members opposite, like hon. Members on this side, know quite well that in some of our poorest districts, like that part of East London which I represent, there are hundreds, thousands, of families, who buy their coal by the sixpennyworth; and I am told that whereas they at present get for their 6d. a large piece of coal and a small piece of coal yet if this levy were put on they would get only the large piece of coal, and the small piece of coal would go to those whom my hon. Friend referred to as the "bosses of the coal industry." It is the householders, the gas and electricity works and the non-depressed industries which are to be called upon to bear this levy. Sometimes it seems to be forgotten that gas and electricity are used just as much by the depressed industries as by the prosperous industries; and any increase in household coal prices will tend to emphasise the difficulties of the cost-of-living index at the present time, derange real wages and press very hardly on workers receiving a remuneration nearly as low, or quite as low as, that of the miners. My hon. Friend beside me has referred to the agricultural worker. I would only remind the Committee of the skilled worker, the engineer, the shipyard worker, and the cotton operative, all of whom will have to bear out of their meagre earnings or their unemployment pay the increased cost that will be imposed upon them by the proposals now before the Committee.


I would point out that this Amendment has not got entirely all the arguments in its favour, and that, although, taking it on the balance the Amendment ought to be carried, there are some things I would like to say about it from experience of levies and of an export subsidy. We have to remember that we must sell coal, not at the price we like, but at the world price. It has to be sold at the world price, or it is not sold at all. If it is not sold, then it remains in the ground, and there is no other coal that can be got out at home to take its place, and the output of pits dealing in exports goes down considerably. If the output goes down, it means that the cost of the other coal brought up is increased. It does therefore pay at times to subsidise an export in order to keep up output if you can do it in such a way as to reduce and not to increase the cost of coal to the home consumer.

For the last two years, in what is known as the Five Counties scheme, we have been working under the principle of a voluntary levy. I can tell the House that I do practically no exporting whatever. I have been paying 3d. a ton all the time for over two years, and I say that I have had value for my money. That is a very different thing to a compulsory levy. Where you come to a tax of that sort then, on general principle, taxes should be put on by Parliament and not by a committee of this kind. Although I would very dearly like to see some of my neighbours who have avoided this payment made to pay, yet on general principles and on principles of justice I feel that this Bill should not make them pay if they feel that they have no desire to do so. This levy will really be a tax put on by a committee of owners and, on general principles and as a member of the public, I am not able to support it.

There is another matter. I may be of a suspicious nature, but I see in it the germ of what in 1921 we knew in this House as the proposal for a national pool. I see that possibility in a levy of this sort really controlled by a central committee. I do not say that there is any such idea on the part of the Government or its supporters, but I see in it the germ whereby a national wage pool might be created. Believing that to be an evil and a distinct disadvantage to the part of the country where I live and work, I cannot do other than support this Amendment.


I hope we shall very soon hear from the President of the Board of Trade what the arguments are that can be advanced in support of this particular Clause. I can see no merit in it whatsoever, and no justification for its finding a place in this Bill. The President of the Board of Trade has justified his quota scheme on many grounds, but you can search the whole of that scheme, you can search all his speeches, and you cannot find a single word of justification for imposing a compulsory levy. It is no part of a quota scheme to impose a compulsory levy. You can have as monopolistic and as drastic a curtailment of production as you please, but it is quite irrelevant to it to intro- duce a compulsory levy. You can form the most comprehensive trust in the world, a statutory penal trust if you like, but why need there be any compulsory levy? I cannot conceive why it is necessary to introduce this proposal, and the President of the Board of Trade has to make out a very strong case for a proposal so universally unpopular. If it is good business that there should be a levy, that owners either in this country generally, or owners in a particular district, should make some arrangement among themselves to subsidise a particular class of coal, they are perfectly free to do so without any provision in a Bill. If the bulk of the owners wish to engage in an operation of this kind, there is nothing to stop them doing it, but why should they be compelled to do so? Let the Committee look at the extraordinary extent to which compulsion is being brought.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said in an earlier stage of these Debates, that his Liberalism taught him that true liberty is only to be found in some measure of control. I sincerely hope that he is going to revolt from a control as alien to all business principles and as alien to all commonsense and common fairness as this proposal. Look what the President of the Board of Trade is proposing. He is not merely proposing that in a district a few dissentient owners should be compelled to come in, and there is very good reason against compelling a single dissentient owner, however small, to come in under a compulsory levy. He is proposing to us, not simply to coerce a dissentient owner here or there, but to coerce whole districts in order to make them come in. Under this provision, if Scotland or Lancashire were dead against the levy and said, "This is not only going to do us no good, but is going to be a positive handicap to us in our business and in our resources," nevertheless, provided that a majority of coalowners in other districts could be found to think that a levy would suit them, whole districts like that, every single coalowner in which objected to the scheme, could be compelled to come in.

What justification is going to be offered for compulsion of this kind? You are compelling people quite far enough already under this scheme. You are compelling every single owner in the country to join this involuntary trust, to join a quota, and to have his production limited whether he likes it or not. The Government are going, unless they give way, or we succeed in defeating them, to force everybody into a price ring from which there is no escape. Surely, that is enough compulsion to force upon an industry. What are the Government doing here? They are forcing these owners against their will to contribute to a levy which they consider is bad business; they are forcing them to conduct their business in a way which they think thoroughly unsound. That is bad enough, but they are doing much more. By forcing them to contribute to this levy, they are making them pay out of their own resources, which may be straitened, for something in which they do not believe and for a policy which is going to benefit their competitors and injure themselves. In the whole history of legislation, under democracy or under tyranny, has there ever been a similar instance? There have been instances where men's property has been taken from them, but they have been given compensation, though sometimes inadequate compensation, but it has been reserved to the President of the Board of Trade not merely to take away a man's property, whether he likes it or not, but to take it away and give it to his competitor to use for the benefit of the competitor and wholly against the will of the colliery owner himself.

So much for the unfairness to the colliery undertakings, but what about the unfairness to the people, of this country? If some great injustice was to be done, it might be said that we should do it because it was greatly in the interests of the country as a whole. But what interest in this country is going, to be served by this compulsory levy? So far from any interest in this country being served, the people of the country are going to pay twice or three times through this policy. I will justify that statement up to the hilt, and show that it is the British consumer who has to pay. Admittedly, the whole object of the Bill is to raise the price of coal. You cannot raise the price of coal against the foreign buyer in a neutral market who has the choice of all the markets from which to buy, and who is going to buy at the world price.

The British consumer has to pay twice over apart from this levy. He pays, first of all, the increase in price which all coal ought to bear and then, because foreign coal cannot bear any increase and because you cannot force the foreigner to pay, the amount of the increase which would have fallen on the coal sold abroad has to be added to the price of the coal sold in this country. In that way, he pays twice. But the Government are not content with that; they are going to make him pay a third time. They are going to make him pay this compulsory levy which is absolutely unlimited in amount. An hon. Member has pointed out that a bounty of 1s. a ton would mean a levy of at least 4d. The unfortunate consumer in this country, therefore, is going to be made to pay a third time in order that industries or public utilities or any buyers in other countries may receive artificially cheap coal, subsidised coal from here, which is ultimately going to pass as a raw material into the industries which are going to compete with the British consumer and which are competing with him sufficiently heavily already. That is a crazy proposal.

Then you have the President of the Board of Trade going to Geneva the week after next, and one of the things he has promised us he is going to take up is the question of subsidised imports into this country. Is he going to be able to take it up? He is going to make it a condition of any convention that he may wish to commit us to. What answer is he going to have to the country against whom he lodges a complaint of subsidised exports when he comes straight from this House, having fathered a scheme for a compulsory levy on coal, which makes it at once a Government subsidy? As long as this is merely some arrangement made between willing coalowners, who may like to have a cartel among themselves, no one can object. But the moment the President puts this into an Act of Parliament, from which no one can escape, and indeed which they are bound to observe, under penalties, at once the right hon. Gentleman, who to-day has got to try and prevent subsidised produce coming into this country, becomes the author of a proposal for exporting Government subsidised coal to foreign markets. Could he possibly go into his international negotiations with a more lop-sided policy?

This proposal is gravely unjust to the coalowners in this country, it is gravely injurious to every consumer of coal in this country, and it is gravely injurious even to the whole agricultural community in this country, because you are making it more difficult to make any representations. I say to the President of the Board of Trade that it is no necessary part of this Bill or of the quota scheme that it has absolutely nothing whatever to do with it, and he ought to drop it; and if he is going to say it is a necessary part of this Bill and an integral part of his quota system, he ought never to have introduced such a Bill into this House.


In rising to support the Amendment, I desire to direct attention to one particular point, and that is the international point of view. I support the Amendment because I think the attitude of the Government is thoroughly reactionary and quite indefensible on the ground of engaging in international negotiations. In this proposal to-night they are doing the exact opposite of what this country has promised to do, and what they themselves are trying to do; and I will read to the Committee three short extracts from documents and speeches made at Geneva, the last of the three being the most important. The first is an extract from the World Economic Conference, held at Geneva in May, 1927, when the Conference agreed unanimously to the following statement: The fact that subsidies are in certain circumstances held to interfere less with the liberty of trading than Customs tariffs does not make it any the less necessary to lay stress on the hidden dangers inherent in this means of encouraging production and exportation. The greater the number of countries which have recourse to this practice, the more difficult will it be for other countries to refrain from following their example. Thus the attempt to restore foreign trade to normal conditions meets with a real obstacle in the shape of subsidies. The Conference draws the attention of the various Governments to the true nature of direct or indirect subsidies, which are merely a palliative, and expresses the hope that Governments will, so far as possible, refrain from having recourse to them. That was a document to which the late Government committed itself, and by which the present Government is bound. The next is the Economic Organisation of the League of Nations "Interim Report on the International Aspects of the Problem of the Coal Industry," Geneva, 1929. Among other items suggested was the following: (d) That the existing artificial restrictions to trade in coal and artificial stimuli to production should be abolished. The third quotation is from a very remarkable speech made by the President of the Board of Trade himself at Geneva on the 9th September last; and here, if I may, I would like to pay a tribute to the great personal success that I know the right hon. Gentleman obtained when he made a long speech of over an hour on rather a technical subject. Being a member of the Assembly not very well known at the beginning, at the end, I understand, the Assembly was crowded, and he received a great ovation for the most interesting and appealing way in which he had dealt with the subject. On that occasion he used these words: The Committee also mentioned the suggestion that in individual countries—and, of course, within an international scheme of the kind indicated above—there should be agreement to remove the artificial stimuli or devices of one kind or another which had been introduced for the purpose of stimulating coal production or of easing the financial or other economic difficulties of the coalfields. No one reading that Report—which, if I may say so, is one of the most valuable Reports ever issued under the auspices of the League—will doubt for a moment that there is very great danger in any artificial stimulus, whatever form it takes, whether it is a large scale subsidy, a rebate in railway rates, or any other device. I say that those are very excellent and admirable sentiments, and I only regret that the right hon. Gentleman has so wholly and absolutely departed from them in the proposals which he brings before us to-night. He is going out to Geneva, I understand, to-morrow, and he has a difficult task before him, in which I hope he will be successful, but he is not going to make his position any the easier by going out loaded with an export subsidy on coal from this country. He is making his position absolutely impossible. What answer can he give when he is pressing other countries to abolish all subsidies, when, as the late President of the Board of Trade has just said, he has to admit that he comes hot foot from the House of Commons having proposed, and quite unnecessarily, such a levy as this? I hope he will say that, in view of the strong opposition expressed in the Committee, he does not regard this as a vital part of his scheme, and that he will drop it. It seems to me absolutely indefensible, and in no way essential to the Coal Mines Bill itself, and I hope, if he does not himself withdraw it, the Committee will reject it.


I listened with very great interest to the speech of the late President of the. Board of Trade, and I found it rather difficult to follow. He devoted himself almost throughout, not so much to attacking what might be the consequences of this levy upon industries having to pay it, but upon the fact that it was a compulsory levy that the coalowners, whatever they might think, would have to pay. I have found it difficult throughout to follow the right hon. Gentleman's reasoning, because he does not seem to have much complaint if the coalowners themselves, to use his own language, organise themselves into a trust or by means of a cartel extract from the other industries a levy or a higher price in this way. If the owners themselves could do it, he would accept it; and because that would be the ordinary result of competition, he would simply hold up his hands, not to his domestic gods, but to the Conservative gods, and say, "We must accept what has been sent to us, because this is in the ordinary course of competition, and this cartel or this trust, as the case might be, is the result of ordinary commercial competition."


The owners would all be free to leave it tomorrow.


But if benefits will come to the coalowners from a condition of this kind, as the right hon. Gentleman says they will, will anybody be anxious to leave it? The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He argues, on the one hand, that here you are conferring on certain coalowners a most valuable privilege, and if that valuable privilege were the consequence of voluntary organisation on their part, he would accept it, but it becomes immediately evil and pernicious because it is part of this legislation. I understand that the main objection to this is that our competitive industries will have to pay this levy, but a voluntary association would compel them to pay it in the same way, and the consequence would still be the same for the consuming industries. Therefore, in so far as the effect upon the other industries is concerned, there is no difference between the coalowners themselves being able to extract from the other industries a higher price for their coal, and that power being conferred upon them by Act of Parliament.

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman much further in the very peculiar arguments with which he treated the Committee, but I find it very interesting to compare the position on the Conservative benches with the position on the Liberal benches. The Conservatives have always told us in this House—and we have listened till some of us are rather tired, and I suppose we shall have to listen until the next Election, and probably afterwards, because they will still be arguing it then—that we ought to be armed, whenever we go into an international conference to discuss this question, with some sort of bargaining power; and they have argued for tariffs, or for the right to impose tariffs, or, rather, I might put it with more accuracy the readiness of this House to impose tariffs, because that readiness on our part will enable us to enter into fiscal arrangements with other countries much more advantageous to this country.

The Liberal position, of course, is that we ought to go to every international conference in the position of a suppliant in order to negotiate. The Liberal position is that our representatives abroad will be able to convince by sweet reason—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am all for reason, but I believe, with Oliver Cromwell, in trusting God and keeping your powder dry. The conferences at Geneva are conferences of persons who are attempting to come to mutual accommodation, and it will do no harm, and probably will do an enormous amount of good, if the President of the Board Trade is able to go to Geneva and, if he finds it impossible to come to any understanding with the other coal-producing countries of Europe, I say, without the slightest hesitation, that it ought to be in the power of this country to protect its own people by taking punitive measures against the other countries unless we can come to an agreement. Is there anything wrong about that? [An HON. MEMBER: "Tariffs!"] We have argued in this House against a tariff because it does not enable us to do that at all; it simply renders us weaker. But the proposal in this Bill is that it shall be made possible for the coalowners, if the coalowners of this country are as stupid as we are led to suppose they are—


And as Mr. Cook says they are.


I cannot be expected in this House to undertake to defend them. It would be almost as difficult to defend them as the hon. Members opposite have found it difficult to defend the statements of their own leader on very many occasions. I should find it equally embarrassing to answer for them, and I do not propose to try to do it. I would ask hon. Members to realise that all that we are proposing now is decide the powers which are to be conferred upon the owners to make schemes, which will have to be sanctioned. The coalowners will be charged with the responsibility of meeting the National Council and coming to an agreement to impose a levy upon the various districts. [An HON. MEMBER: "At the expense of the consumer!"] The consumer ultimately will have to pay it all. To argue that the consumer has to pay is beside the point, because ultimately the price for any product has to be recovered from the consumer of it. The coalowners will have to carry out the Statute. The purpose of the levy is to facilitate the sale of coal wherever that facilitation becomes necessary and desirable. These are very serious powers, but I cannot imagine this Bill ever becoming operative in the best interests of trade unless powers of this kind are given.

What is the attack upon the Bill? It is said that this Bill is disadvantageous in that the price of coal will be artificially fixed and will not be able to change with changing conditions and circumstances, or with changing custom. It will probably be argued that the export trade is a trade in which the greatest possible amount of elasticity ought to be exercised. The right hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) took part in the compilation of a big book, in which they discussed the coal trade. In that discussion they told the country that nationalisation of the coal mines was un desirable because the price of coal might change—

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young)

The hon. Member is going rather wide of the Amendment.


I merely wanted to point out that the purpose of these powers is to make the sale of coal as elastic as possible in order that we might be able to meet the changing conditions of the market. It has been pointed out that our Scandinavian market has gone. Why? Because the Poles have taken it. Why has Poland been able to take it? By subsidising coal to Danzig. All that we ask for is that it may be made possible for us in future negotiations as to our quota of the international market to be able to sell our coal so as to get as large a slice of the international market as possible. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the European market is inelastic and that we have failed to secure any larger sale for our coal by lowering its price. If lowering the price of coal does not assist in getting any increased market, where comes the argument for allowing it a free competition, cheap coal, in order to increase our market I Hon. Members cannot argue that we cannot get an increased market in Europe by lowering the price of our coal and at the same time argue that artificial fixation of price prevents us from selling cheap coal and increasing our market. The argument throughout this Bill has been that we ought to be able to sell our coal as cheaply as possible, because we can only recover our market by selling our coal more cheaply.

The argument by supporters of the Amendment is that it is no use having power to cheapen coal because no matter how we cheapen it we shall never be able to sell any more coal than we are selling now. What happened in regard to France and Spain in 1927? In that year France actually put an embargo on South Wales coal because we were sending it in too cheaply. Spain did the same thing. We found it necessary at that time either to make representations, or to talk about making representations, because embargoes were threatened against our coal which was challenging the price for coal that they could obtain in France and Spain. In 1927 when I was in the Ruhr and when I was in France in the Pas-de-Calais area, huge stacks of coal were being accumulated on the surface of the collieries because they had started intensive competition with the coal from South Wales. The coalowners told us—this caused us very serious concern at the time—that if our price cutting went on it would be necessary for them to demand some concession from their own people in order to meet the competition which we had been enabled to carry out. Therefore, it is not correct to say that the market on the Continent of Europe is inelastic. There is still a certain amount of elasticity, and it is that elasticity that we desire to strain to the utmost point in order that when we have, as we hope to get, artificial fixation of coal prices throughout Europe, we shall be able to get as large a slice of the market as possible.

I have not been attempting to visualise how this plan is going to operate. There is some merit in the observation that it is a foolish thing to reduce the price of coal to our competitors over long periods and to increase the price to our home producers and consumers. No one denies the merit of that argument; it is a perfectly sound argument, but I would ask hon. Members whether they really think that the coalowners of this country, with all the interlocking interests which they have, are going to be so foolish as to handicap the bulk of the markets for coal and are going to be so stupid, by an unwise use of these powers, to jeopardise the whole market of 180,000,000 tons—I think that was the figure the right hon. Gentleman mentioned—in order to try to secure about 10,000,000 tons more at the outside in the European market. If the coalowners of this country are such bad business men and so stupid as that. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman why he does not come over and help us to take the collieries out of the hands of such stupid people

Why is it that the German coalowners with similar powers, have not handicapped their coal exporting industry? Right hon. and hon. Members on the Conservative benches have circulated leaflets in my Division in which they are telling the steel workers that the reason why the Ebbw Vale steel works are idle is because of competition from the Ruhr through steel produced by cartelised coal. The German coalowners artificially fix the price of their coal and their steel makers have to pay that price. That is a kind of competition that we are unable to meet. Bight hon. and hon. Members opposite tell us that powers which have assisted the German steel masters in meeting successfully our competition, is going to ruin our own steel works. I submit that in this discussion we have not had a, proper examination of the possible uses to which these powers might be put. From the Liberal benches we are having simply an attack upon these powers because they offend some ancient Free Trade principle. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] On this side we are not classical Free Traders. We believe in controlled exports and controlled imports.

It is impossible for the coalowners of this country, under the district schemes, to operate this Bill unless they get these powers. This levy, this pool, can be used not only for the purpose of facilitating the export of coal to Europe but also for easing the price of coal to the consumers of coal at home. There is nothing in this Clause to say that we are going merely to use this pool for facilitating the export of coal. As I read the Clause, the pool which will be accumulated can be used for the purpose of facilitating the sale of coal in other places besides Europe. I believe it to be perfectly true that productive units are so large in modern society that they cannot be expected to go on on the bare margins left by competition. There ought to exist between the producer of a basic product and the consumer what I would call something like a financial cushion. It ought to be possible for the producer to have the price of his product eased. Let me explain what I mean.

The right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Trade appointed a Committee in 1925 to inquire into the sale of coal. That Committee stated that their complaint against nationalisation or the cartel was that the price of coal would not be eased on a falling market but that the price of coal would tend to stiffen on a falling market. There is merit in that criticism, but if the price of coal is going to be eased on a falling market for the large basic industries consuming coal, how is the price going to be eased unless the productive units in the meantime are pro- tected from the consequences of a sharp fluctuation in the price of coal? We look upon this national pool, this sales pool, as a means of easing the price of coal to industries which require to be eased. I hope that this part of the Bill will go through, because I am convinced that no injury at all can come from it unless the owners exercise this power in a very unwise way. If the powers are not ultimately used in a judicious way it will be because the coalowners are not themselves capable of using the powers in a proper way. I do beg hon. Members opposite not to take out of the Bill the only piece of elasticity which remains in it.


The hon. Member who has just spoken is such an effective orator and is such an appealing speaker, that if he has not in any degree convinced his audience it is merely because his case is such a bad one that not even he can win converts for it. The hon. Member said at the outset that it mattered little whether the statutory powers were given or not, and that it was admitted on the Conservative benches that if the powers were not given the owners could carry out similar measures by voluntary action. The hon. Member has missed the very essence of the case, for the statutory compulsion which will apply under this Bill all over the country entirely alters the whole situation. It is not merely that coalowners now are free to leave the scheme. The hon. Member says that if it were profitable to them they would not leave the scheme if it were merely voluntary. That is not the point.

Let me give an example. A Lancashire cotton manufacturer buys his coal now in Lancashire. There is no question of any levy on that coal in order to subsidise export coal. The coalowner would not desire a levy on it. But make this scheme one whole for the nation, and that Lancashire cotton manufacturer will be obliged to pay more for his coal to the Lancashire coalowner in order that the money might go into a pool to subsidise Yorkshire coal and Durham coal for export; and by Act of Parliament we shall have provided that the Lancashire millowner will have no possibility of escape. The hon. Member in his second argument contemplated with a very light heart the possibility of this country engaging in what should be in the nature of a tariff war against competing coal-producing countries on the Continent. War is war, and if we take measures of that sort against this trade, do you think that they will not tax our dumped coal when it is avowedly subsidised by Act of Parliament?


What about dumped German wheat?


I know that hon. Members above the Gangway would deal with that. The Germans do stop dumped products. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade cannot go to Geneva to-morrow and try to persuade the countries of Europe to abandon all sorts of subsidies on exports when he is endeavouring to induce the House of Commons in his own country to do the very thing against which he has been so earnestly protesting. The hon. Member who spoke last quoted certain leaflets which he said had endeavoured to establish the fact that the Ruhr steel was able to undersell the steel of South Wales, that in Germany there is this system of cartelisation, this system of paying for dearer coal at home in order to subsidise to some degree the coal for abroad, and that it had not prevented German competition in steel being effective in this country.


I did not say that. What I did say was that the method of selling coal under the cartel in Germany is elastic and enabled them to assist their heavy industries.


The German coal industry in the Ruhr is so closely combined with the iron and steel works and coking ovens and is so well-organised that as a matter of fact the cost of coke to the German steelworks in the Ruhr is nil. That is the reason why in the hon. Member's constituency it is possible for the steelworks of Germany to undersell the local product. Let me express the hope that when the hon. Member next addresses the House he will have a case more worthy of his undoubted powers. This feature in the Bill which is being attacked to-day with serious arguments which have been unanswered so far because they are unanswerable, is in my judgment the very worst feature of a Bill which contains many objectionable provisions. On Second Reading I stated with whatever emphasis was possible the objection that many of us feel to this particular proposal. I said then and I repeat now that it is a strange inverted kind of Protection. You are taxing the home manufacturer through an increased price of coal by a levy, in order to give subsidies and in order to enable the foreign manufacturer to get his fuel at a cheaper rate. There have been many proposals for many years all through the centuries in this House for assisting the British manufacturer to meet foreign competition. To-night is the first occasion when a Government comes to the British Parliament in order to induce it to pass a Measure which will assist the foreign manufacturer to meet British competition.

This is a tax imposed on coal under the authority of an Act of Parliament. No home manufacturer or domestic consumer will be able to escape it. Once this Clause is passed the mineowners of this country will be free to levy whatever it may be, so many millions a year, upon the consumers of this country. In order to give even so little as a shilling a ton it will be necessary to have a tax of about £3,000,000, which will be levied on the coal consumers of this country. Let us suppose that on 14th April, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to present his Budget, he were to end by saying: "I am sorry to have to inform the Committee that there is still a deficit of £3,000,000, and I propose to meet this by imposing a levy upon all the coal raised in this country and consumed in this country." The Committee would gasp with astonishment; they would say that such a proposal was utterly unacceptable. The miners' Members would be the first to denounce it. But there would at all events be this advantage in that proposal, that the £3,000,000 would go into the British Exchequer. It would be the means of meeting our expenditures here at home and it would be a relief to other taxpayers in preventing additional taxation in other directions. But where will the £3,000,000 go that the President of the Board of Trade is going to levy? Not into the British Exchequer, but it will be given with both hands to the foreign consumers of coal who are competing with our manufacturers.

I represent a cotton constituency, and at this moment the cotton industry is in the very depths of depression. The position is far worse than it was a year ago. In my constituency and in other Lancashire constituencies unemployment is rife to an almost unprecedented extent. The cotton industry is cutting expenses to the bone in order to meet foreign competition. It has been compelled to reduce the already low wages of its operatives. Now there comes this proposal to make the manufacturers, by Act of Parliament, pay more than they need otherwise pay for the coal which they require, not in order to pay for the miners' shorter hours or to raise the miners' wages, but in order that a subsidy can be given to coal which is to be sold to foreigners who compete in our markets.

There has already been sufficient protest against this Bill on the ground that it is a dear Coal Bill. It is profoundly unpopular for that reason. If the Bill is passed and if this Clause remains in it—I sincerely hope it will not—the Government may go to the country and say, "No, you cannot call this a Dear Coal Bill. That is an unfair aspersion. There is one class of coal, at all events, which we have not made dearer, a class of coal which we have taken special steps to cheapen. It is a class of coal which you, the British consumers, do not use. It is the class of coal that your foreign competitors, who are engaged against you in the world market, do use. The Bill at all events has the beneficent effect that there is this one class of coal which is cheapened under its provisions."

There is one other point. The President of the Board of Trade has refused to make any distinction in favour of bunker coal. There is to be a levy on home produced coal and on the consumers who buy it, in order to subsidise coal shipped to Rotterdam or any other port in the world. Any British ship or foreign ship which goes to Hull or Leith or any other port in order to load coal for bunkers is not to have the advantage of the subsidy. Therefore coal, if it is shipped in Rotterdam, will be cheaper than precisely the same coal shipped at Newcastle or Hull, and at the cost of the British consumer. What must the inevitable result be? That every ship which is in a position to do so—ships can choose in these matters—will go to Rotterdam or to Antwerp or to some foreign port in order to get the advantage of the subsidy which the President the Board of Trade and this Bill will have given to exported coal. Undoubtedly the effect on our home ports and their trade will be serious indeed.

I sincerely hope that the Committee will eliminate this provision from the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman cannot claim that it is essential to the Bill. It is an excrescence upon the Bill. It does not raise the larger considerations which, I agree, may, in the opinion of many, have been raised not unfairly with regard to some previous Amendments. If this special levy for this special purpose were taken out of Part I of the Bill, Part I would still remain, and the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the Bill as a whole would not be affected. In these circumstances I strongly urge the Committee that on this occasion it should not hesitate to eliminate from the Bill a provision which is undoubtedly unpopular and deeply resented in the country—a provision the excision of which will be most warmly welcomed by our constituencies.

8.0 p.m.


The main objection which has been raised to this Clause is that it is not a voluntary but a statutory levy. We have been told by hon. Members opposite that there is all the difference in the world between a voluntary levy such as that which has been proposed in the coal trade for many years past and the statutory levy which is proposed under this Bill. It is perfectly true that there is a great difference between the two things. The voluntary levy has been described to us earlier this afternoon by the hon. Member for Ecclesall (Sir S. Roberts) who is himself a coalowner, and he told us that the levy had been very successful in promoting our export trade in coal. May I point out that a certain number of coalowners have entirely escaped from that levy, although they have enjoyed the benefits of it without paying for it, with the result that they have cast the whole burden of the levy on the more loyal coalowners who adopted the Five Counties scheme.

The difference between a voluntary and a statutory levy is that the latter prevents shirking because the shirkers are compelled to come into the scheme. There is one other very definite difference, and it is that under a voluntary scheme like the Five Counties Scheme there is absolutely no effective safeguards while under the compulsory scheme you have very extensive safeguards. Once the statutory scheme is laid down, you have a real control over the coalowners. Under voluntary schemes you put dangerous powers into the hands of coal-owners which may be used in a manner contrary to the public interest, whereas if those powers are established by Statute you get real control and real safeguards, and at the same time that you ensure the benefit of the scheme you remove the objections which may be made to it. There are many differences between voluntary and compulsory schemes, and I am strongly in favour of the latter.

The main argument which was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), as I understood it, was that by the proposals of this Clause we were leading the country into what has been described as a tariff war. [Interruption.] I wish hon. Members opposite would conduct their business in a lower tone, and then I should not have to speak up so loudly. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen complained that we were leading this country into a tariff war, and he said that this Clause would produce all sorts of international complications and retaliations, because we were proposing to subsidise our export trade. Surely, we must consider this question in a sensible way. If anything is certain, it is that we have to undertake during the next few years negotiations with foreign coal producing countries, and are we going to enter those negotiations armed or unarmed? We have to deal with a permanent state of international competition, and I think that we are more likely to obtain better agreements if we have something to bargain with. I ask the Liberal party to look at this question in a practical way, and not in a spirit of wild idealism.

I will take a practical example which was given this afternoon. The Polish coal industry is using the weapon of export subsidies to drive us out of the Scandinavian markets. Under this Bill we shall establish a central authority which will be able to speak for the whole of the coal industry. If this Clause is passed, then the representatives of the central authority will be able to go to Poland and ask the coalowners there to drop their subsidies, and our representatives will be more likely to succeed if it is known that we might introduce retaliatory subsidies in regard to our own trade. Those powers are of the utmost importance to the coal industry. They are only permissive powers, but the practical effect of them is likely to be to reduce the number of export subsidies and interferences with our export coal trade. I agree with the hon. Member who deplored all these interferences with the natural course of trade, but what is the practical way of removing those interferences? We could go to Geneva and inform the coalowners of Europe that, although we have powers to levy export subsidies, we should not use those powers if foreign countries would abate their export subsidies, and if foreign countries would do that, there would be no necessity for us to use those powers. Foreign countries have already got those powers; they are using those uneconomic methods, and we should have permissive powers to use those safeguards in cases where it was necessary.

We have to go into the markets of the world and into international negotiations, and the practical question is whether we should go into them armed with adequate powers to secure a decent bargain for the coal industry of this country. I should be the last person to advocate international competition in basic raw materials. The most terrible factor in the trade between this country and Europe has been the very keen international competition which has taken from us many of our markets. That international competition has lowered the standard of life of the miners both in this country and in Germany. I welcome the Clause we are discussing, because, if it is adopted, we shall have power to improve our international agreements. What the Clause which it is now sought to delete would do is to leave that authority in existence and its rejection would take that weapon out of our hands. If hon. Members opposite succeed in deleting this paragraph they will have the extreme satisfaction of having taken a weapon out of the hands of this country for bargaining in the international markets of the world. That would be an extraordinary thing for the party above the Gangway to do. The only effect of the deletion of this paragraph would be to take out of the hands of this country a really practical weapon by which we can defend our interests in legitimate bargaining in the international affairs of Europe.


This is admittedly a controversial feature in the Bill, and I hope that the Committee will bear with a comparatively brief reply from me before we proceed to a Division. It is important, in a matter of this kind, that we should understand exactly what is involved, and should strip our minds of a great deal of what I am afraid has been said outside these walls, and, I would venture to add, of some misunderstanding. In the first place, there is nothing new in this proposal, because everyone who has been familiar with the working of the Five Counties scheme during the two years of its operation knows that it has been part of the operation of that scheme in Yorkshire, the Midlands, and adjacent territories, to impose a levy of 3d. per ton for the express purpose of facilitating the sale of export coal. We have always recognised that that area differs from other parts of the country, because, of the 100,000,000 tons of output in Yorkshire and the Midland territory covered by that scheme, only a small proportion is for export purposes. By far the greater part of it—90 per cent. or thereabouts—was for the inland market, and so, when a small levy of 3d. per ton was placed upon the whole of the tonnage raised—and, of course, that is the manner in which the levy is applied, that is to say, to the aggregate tonnage, and not to a selected part of that tonnage—it was possible to give a very large amount of assistance, at one point between 3s. and 4s. per ton, to export coal from that district.

I beg the Committee to remember that that is not, and in the nature of things could not be, the proposal that is before us in this case, because under this Clause power is taken, or rather, permission is given to owners, to impose a levy on all tonnage raised, that is to say, on the aggregate tonnage raised in this country, and to use the proceeds of that levy to facilitate the sale of any class of coal. Whatever the levy might be, it is of course inconceivable that, unless it were a very high and probably impossible levy, the assistance to the export trade could reach the amount that was given under the Five Counties Scheme, and in all probability a contribution of that amount would not be necessary, because, in the circumstances as they are now developing, it should be easier to some extent in the future to develop our export market for coal.

It is perfectly true that the Five Counties Scheme rests on a voluntary basis, but it covers by far the greater part of the output in that part of the country. It has been supported by the great majority of owners in the nine counties in which it now operates, and no hon. Member of the House, whatever view he takes of this proposal in the Bill, will deny that it has been the means of stimulating very greatly the export trade from those nine counties, and of avoiding a marked drop in prices which in other circumstances would probably have been experienced. Therefore, on the broad facts of such experience as there is in this country of the working of a plan of this kind on voluntary lines, additional export trade has been obtained, and in an earlier part of the Debate I gave figures which showed that, during the two years' operation of the Five Counties Scheme in connection with the export trade, the exports have mounted up from about 2,300,000 tons before the institution of the scheme to at least 6,500,000 tons after the scheme had had a fair trial. Let the Committee next approach the precise proposal of this Clause. The right hon. Gentleman who was my predecessor at the Board of Trade used, from beginning to end of his speech, the word "property." I am unable to trace any property that is taken from an individual under this proposal, nor can I find, hard as I have tried, the element of compulsion which the right hon. Gentleman and other speakers have sought to import into this proposal.


What is an involuntary levy but compulsion?


Let us examine what is proposed. This part of the Bill proposes that the central scheme may provide—it does not say that it shall provide, but only that it may provide—for a levy of this kind collected from the districts for the purpose of facilitating the sale of export coal. Let me observe in passing that, if this rested purely with the owners, there might disappear, permanently so far as I know, any chance of easing the price of coal, or lowering the price of coal, not only in the export trade, but also to the iron and steel industry and to other industries in this country which may be depressed. It would, in fact, wipe away those benefits which formed a very large part of the arguments used by hon. Members opposite when they were seeking to exclude those industries from the general scheme of the quota provisions. That possibility of assistance would disappear altogether, even on the permissive basis so far as the Bill is concerned, and it would then rest upon anything which might be done by the owners in any district under this Measure. Let us understand what is being done. I can only say that this is a matter which calls for very serious discussion and consideration, and it may be that this is one of the parts of the Bill which we are only able to present on a balance of argument as to what it is proposed to do. But having considered the arguments very carefully we have come to the conclusion that there is a balance in favour of this provision.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) quite correctly says that with the quota scheme. and the output regulations, and the organisation of the owners in the various districts, these provisions are unnecessary additions. In other words, he describes them as excrescences on that part of the Bill—as something that is unnecessary—and it may be that up to a point that criticism may be justified; but I want to press this argument, and it seems to me to be very important. If you have the owners organised as they will be, that is to say, if every pit producing coal in every district is included—if the owners decide to institute a scheme of this kind—it is perfectly true that, if we do not give them any kind of statutory powers, as would be the case if the scheme is on a purely permissive basis, you can still institute a scheme of that kind. But, as my hon. Friend has just pointed out, there would then be no right, so far as I know, on the part of the Board of Trade to interfere, because it would not be a part of the scheme specified in the Bill. Therefore, it would be something done by the industry, as numerous things will be done by this industry even after this large amount of regulation is introduced.

Accordingly, I submit to the Committee that it is vital, if we admit chat it may be done by the owners themselves, to retain some measure of specification in the Act of Parliament and some measure of control by the Board of Trade after the Act is passed. Hon Members may suggest that that is quite true, but that you should not give the owners power to bring in a minority, and they should only proceed if they got agreement, among the districts. But even that argument has its answer, because all the owners, if Part I of the Bill stands, will be within the scheme, and I suggest that, as a matter of ordinary economic fact, it would be very difficult for any minority to remain outside if majority decisions were to rule. Even if there were no statutory reference to it at all, they would still get within the scheme as in the case of the Five Counties Scheme, and, so far as I know, not a single word could be said either from the standpoint of the House of Commons or through the Board of Trade. That is the plain issue before the Committee, and, of course, I am bound to put that as one of the arguments which have influenced me to a very large extent in retaining this part of the Measure.

Let me approach another difficulty which has been very strongly stressed. Hon. Members say that this amounts to a subsidy to certain classes of foreign competitors. It all depends upon what we mean by "subsidy," which I quite agree is a very misleading term. When my right hon. Friend opposite was at the Board of Trade and was defending the de-rating scheme as applied to coal—and I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen that there is not a very close parallel in this connection—he used precisely the same arguments as have been used in this Debate. He pointed out what was the destination of the export coal, and he denied that it was really going to iron and steel undertakings on the Continent or to other undertakings which were going to compete with us for business. Before I reply on this point, may I remind the Committee of what I have just said about easing the price to the consumer? In my judgment, and it is the whole tenor of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, this industry would commit suicide unless it gave the very best prices that it could to the iron and steel and other depressed industries. But how is it going to give those best prices unless it is able to charge differential prices to different classes of demand? That is really the point that is before the Committee.

Referring to the de-rating scheme and the apparent subsidy to foreign competitors, my right hon. Friend pointed out—and I accept the facts as he stated them, because he was responsible for the same Department as I am, and the material does not change—that in the case of the iron and steel industry the overwhelming part of that Continental iron and steel production does not rely upon coal from this country at all. If I may say so, it has got more sense. It has linked up a very great deal of its coal production with its iron and steel plants, and thus it has a supply of coal at its doors. British export coal goes to shipping and it goes to an appreciable extent to public utilities and foreign railways. I do not think that there is a likelihood of a real conflict with iron and steel or with depressed industries seeing that it is not that class of demand on the Continent to which in practice the great bulk of export coal is going at present. I do not attach any more importance than the right hon. Gentleman did a year or two ago when he was defending the de-rating proposals to the suggestion that our foreign competitors will benefit from any assistance provided by the levy. What is the other point about the export trade? If we were going to sell coal at less than the cost of production, if we were going to give coal away on the Continent, we should be false to every principle in this Bill. It is the precise object of the Bill to try to stop the sale of coal below the cost of production, or at a loss, and that has always been part of our case in this connection. Although I do not attach myself for a moment to any permanent retention of these artificial devices which I accept are open to considerable argument, the fact remains that this kind of assistance is being given to a large extent in Germany and that it may still be done voluntarily by the owners in this country. No reference to compulsion is made in the Bill. It is only done per- massively and it is just as well that we should keep it under our control, or at least under some form of public intervention, if that intervention is required. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander) paid a very kindly tribute to my speech in the Assembly of the League of Nations last year. I do not depart from a single word that I said then. I am just as much opposed to these devices as any Member of the House, and I do not believe in the last resort and sometimes in the early resort they lead to any useful result. But I am bound to take the facts as they are and the facts are that this is being done in Germany and other countries and probably will be done here and I think it is right that the Government should have some say until these artificial devices pass away as I hope they will pass away when international agreement can be established.

There is one final overriding consideration. We must increase the export of coal so far as these static limits will allow. It is not proposed to put coal on the European market at a loss. It is proposed to put coal on the European market at the European price. Unfortunately experience proves that we cannot offer that coal at that price unless in some cases there is a device of this kind. It may be that it will never be used or will be used very sparingly, but it should be available if required. Accordingly, I ask the Committee are you going to lose or run the risk of losing that class of European demand because you put it beyond the reach of our coal trade?

There is one other influence of the stimulus or the encouragement of the sale of coal in Europe at the European price which is of the very greatest importance. To the extent that we can export coal at an economic level we keep it off the home market in weakening competition or with a tendency to depress the home price level. Of course, there will still be a problem of that sort even after the Bill has passed into law although it will be very greatly limited compared with the position at the present time. For all these reasons I have reached the conclusion that this purely permissive provision in the Bill should remain, in order that there should not be put beyond the reach of the Board of Trade and the Government the right to regulate this or intervene in it if in their judgment there is any need. If this Clause is defeated the power to assist the iron and steel industry disappears, the power to exercise that supervision disappears and considering all these facts it is in

every way advisable that this Clause should remain.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 282.

Division No. 219.] AYES. [8.33 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Gill, T. H. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gillett, George M. Mac Donald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Gossling, A. G. McElwee, A.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Gould, F. McEntee, V. L.
Alpass, J. H. Graham, D. M. (Lanark. Hamilton) Mackinder, W.
Ammon, Charles George Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) McKinlay, A.
Angell, Norman Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) MacLaren, Andrew
Arnott, John Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) MacNeill-Weir, L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. McShane, John James
Ayles, Walter Grundy, Thomas W. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mansfield, W.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Hall, G. H Merthyr Tydvil) March, S.
Barnes, Alfred John Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Marcus, M.
Batey, Joseph Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Markham, S. F.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Harbison, T. J. Marley, J.
Bellamy, Albert Hardie, George D. Marshall, Fred
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Mathers, George
Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Hastings, Dr. Somerville Matters, L. W.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Haycock, A. W. Melville, Sir James
Benson, G. Hayday, Arthur Messer, Fred
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Hayes, John Henry Middleton, G.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Mills, J. E.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Milner, J.
Bowen, J. W. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Montague, Frederick
Broad, Francis Alfred Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Brockway, A. Fenner Herriotts, J. Morley, Ralph
Bromfield, William Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Bromley, J. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham. N.)
Brooke, W. Hoffman, P. C. Mort, D. L.
Brothers, M. Hollins, A. Moses, J. J. H.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Hopkin, Daniel Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Horrabin, J. F. Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Muff, G.
Buchanan, G. Isaacs, George Muggeridge, H. T.
Burgess, F. G. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Murnin, Hugh
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) John, William (Rhondda, West) Naylor, T. E.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Johnston, Thomas Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Caine, Derwent Hall- Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Noel Baker, P. J.
Cameron, A. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Oldfield, J. R.
Cape, Thomas Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Palin, John Henry
Charleton. H. C. Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Palmer, E. T.
Chater, Daniel Kelly, W. T. Perry, S. F.
Church, Major A. G. Kennedy, Thomas Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Clarke, J. S. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Cluse, W. S. Kinley, J. Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Knight, Holford Pole, Major D. G.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lang, Gordon Potts, John S.
Compton, Joseph Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Price, M. P.
Cove, William G. Lathan, G. Quibell, D. J. K.
Daggar, George Law, Albert (Bolton) Raynes, W. R.
Dallas, George Law, A. (Rosendale) Richards, R.
Dalton, Hugh Lawrence, Susan Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Day, Harry Lawson, John James Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Ritson, J.
Devlin, Joseph Leach, W. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Dukes, C. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Romeril, H. G.
Duncan, Charles Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Ede, James Chuter Lees, J. Rowson, Guy
Edmunds, J. E. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lindley, Fred W. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lloyd, C. Ellis Sanders, W. S.
Egan, W. H. Logan, David Gilbert Sandham, E.
Forgan, Dr. Robert Longbottom, A. W. Sawyer, G. F.
Freeman, Peter Longden, F. Scrymgeour, E.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Scurr, John
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Lowth, Thomas Sexton, James
Gibbins, Joseph Lunn, William Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Sherwood, G. H. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Shield, George William Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Shiels, Dr. Drummond Strauss, G. R. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Shillaker, J. F. Sullivan, J. Wellock, Wilfred
Shinwell, E. Sutton, J. E. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Simmons, C. J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.) West, F. R.
Sinkinson, George Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Sitch, Charles H. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Thurtle, Ernest Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Tillett, Ben Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Tinker, John Joseph Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Toole, Joseph Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Smith, Rennle (Penistone) Tout, W. J. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Townend, A. E. Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Turner, B. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Snell, Harry Vaughan, D. J. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Viant, S. P. Wise, E. F.
Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Walker, J. Wright, W. (Ruthergien)
Sorensen, R. Wallace, H. W. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Stamford, Thomas W. Wallhead, Richard C.
Stephen, Campbell Watkins, F. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Paling.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Colfox, Major William Philip Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Ainsworth, Lieut-Col. Charles Colman, N. C. D. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Albery, Irving James Colville, Major D. J. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Courtauld, Major J. S. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l., W.) Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Allen, W. E. O. (Belfast, W.) Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Aske, Sir Robert Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Astor, Viscountess Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hammersley, S. S.
Atholl, Duchess of Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Hanbury, C.
Atkinson, C. Dalkeith, Earl of Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Baillie-Hamilton. Hon. Charles W. Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Harbord, A.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hartington, Marquess of
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Davidson, Major-General Sir H. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Davies, Dr. Vernon Haslam, Henry C.
Balniel, Lord Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Beaumont, M. W. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Dawson, Sir Philip Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Berry, Sir George Dixey, A. C. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Duckworth, G. A. V. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Bird, Ernest Roy Eden, Captain Anthony Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Birkett, W. Norman Edmondson, Major A. J. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Boothby, R. J. G. Elliot, Major Walter E. Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Elmley, Viscount Hurd, Percy A.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart England, Colonel A. Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Boyce, H. L. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Iveagh, Countess of
Bracken, B. Everard, W. Lindsay James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Brass, Captain Sir William Falle, Sir Bertram G. Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Briscoe, Richard George Ferguson, Sir John Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Fermoy, Lord Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Fielden, E. B. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Fison, F. G. Clavering Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Buchan, John Foot, Isaac Kindersley, Major G. M.
Buckingham, Sir H. Ford, Sir P. J. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Knox, Sir Alfred
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Lamb, Sir J. O.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Butler, R. A. Ganzonl, Sir John Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Carver, Major W. H. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Little, Dr. E. Graham
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Glassey, A. E. Llewellin, Major J. J.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Rower, Sir Robert Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Grace, John Long, Major Eric
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Lymington, Viscount
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Granville, E. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Chapman, Sir S. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Christie, J. A. Gray, Milner Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Macquisten, F. A.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Greene, W. P. Crawford Mac Robert. Rt. Hon. Alexander M.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Pybus, Percy John Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Mander, Geoffrey le M. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Margesson, Captain H. D. Ramsbotham, H. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Marjoribanks, E. C. Rathbone, Eleanor Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Rawson, Sir Cooper Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Meller, R. J. Reid, David D. (County Down) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Remer, John R. Thomson, Sir F.
Millar, J. D. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Tinne, J. A.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Reynolds, Col. Sir James Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Mond, Hon. Henry Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Train, J.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Morden, Col. W. Grant Ross, Major Ronald D. Turton, Robert Hugh
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Muirhead, A. J. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Wardlaw-Milne. J. S.
Nathan, Major H. L. Salmon, Major I. Warrender, Sir Victor
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Wayland, Sir William A.
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrst'ld) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wells, Sydney R.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart White, H. G.
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Savery, S. S. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
O'Neill, Sir H. Scott, James Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Simms, Major-General J. Withers, Sir John James
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Peake, Capt. Osbert Skelton, A. N. Womersley, W. J.
Penny, Sir George Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Pliditch, Sir Philip Smithers, Waldron Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Power, Sir John Cecil Somerset, Thomas Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Pownall, Sir Assheton Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Preston, Sir Walter Rueben Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Purbrick, R. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Commander Sir B. Eyres Monsell
and Major Sir George Hennessy.

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. RUNCIMAN:

In page 5, line 8, at the end, to insert the words Provided that no moneys so raised shall be applied to facilitate the sale of any coal to be exported at a less price than is charged for such class of coal for bunkering ships.


Mr. Runciman!


I do not move, Sir. It is now unnecessary.


May I ask the Prime Minister whether he proposes to proceed with the Bill?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

Really. I am amazed at the question. The right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity two days from now to move a Vote of Censure. I shall be very glad to accommodate him by suggesting to him that he should make his Vote of Censure general, and then we will accept the decision. So far as this Division is concerned, it was on an optional provision. No essential change is made in the Clause, and the Government propose to ask the Committee to go on with its work.


I beg to move, in page 5, line 9, to leave out paragraph (b). It falls to my lot after we have just won the Division on the Amendment to delete paragraph (a) of this Clause to move that paragraph (b) be deleted. After the amazing reply of the Prime Minister to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I should have thought that the President of the Board of Trade would have asked leave to report Progress and consider the position in regard to the future stages of the Bill. Apparently, the skin of hon. Members opposite is so thick that they intend to take no notice of that defeat.


If the hon. Member will kindly deal with the Amendment before the Committee, we shall make greater progress.


The Clause which the Committee is now considering proposes to set up a central scheme, and the essence of the proposal is that it shall be run by the owners. The President of the Board of Trade has told us on more than one occasion that he has done all he can to get the owners to work with him. The central council which is to be run by the owners is to do certain things, for which statutory authority will be given but, according to paragraph (b) the whole thing is to be taken out of the hands of the central council. Under this provision the President of the Board of Trade reserves to himself the right over: such matters as appear to the Board of Trade to be incidental to, or consequential on, the foregoing provisions of this Section or to ho necessary for giving effect to those provisions. The whole provisions of this Clause are summed up in this paragraph (b). The Sub-section commences in this way: The central scheme may provide. I am certain that the Government would have liked to have put in the word "shall." I take it to be the policy of the Government that the mining industry shall be nationalised. The President of the Board of Trade has said quite frankly and fairly that the Government is not in a position to bring in a great revolutionary change of that character because they are a minority Government. People connected with the technical working of the coal industry, who see more of the ultimate working of this scheme than we in this House, assure me that if this Bill passes—


On a point or Order. May I ask if we are discussing the whole Bill or this Amendment? All the references of the hon. Member have been to the Bill; not one word of explanation yet of the Amendment.


The hon. Member is moving to delete paragraph (b) of Sub-section (3), and he is trying to make out a case against the words contained in this Clause. So far he appears to be in order.


On that point of Order. I presume that anything which is incidental to the central scheme would be in order on this Amendment? The words in the paragraph "consequential on the foregoing provisions of this section" would enable my hon. Friend to discuss one or two points mentioned previously in the Clause; and that is what he really is doing. I do not wish to take it further because the words "the foregoing provisions of this section" on your Ruling enables my hon. Friend to say something on the matters with which he is dealing.


I regret that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) has so little intelligence—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I mean it in the most friendly spirit—or my voice does not carry across the Floor of the House, that he has not understood my point. I am trying to point out that by bringing in the Board of Trade—perhaps the hon. Member has not read the Sub-section.


I have read it.


Let me read it to the hon. Member: The central scheme may provide— (b) for such matters as appear to the Board of Trade to be incidental to, or consequential on, the foregoing provisions of this Section or to be necessary for giving effect to those provisions. When I was so courteously interrupted by the hon. Member for Rochdale I was trying to point out that certain of my friends connected with the coal trade who are technical experts do see, in spite of the impotence of the Government to give effect to nationalisation as their policy, many seeds in this Bill which are a step towards nationalisation. I contend that this paragraph (b) is a step in that direction and that is why I want it deleted.


The hon. Member cannot discuss the question of nationalisation. The Title of the Bill is A Bill to provide for regulating and facilitating the production, supply and sale of coal by owners of coal mines. Obviously that rules out the question of nationalisation.


As paragraph (a) has come out the Sub-section will now read as follows: The central scheme may provide (b) for such matters as appear to the Board of Trade to be incidental to or consequential on the foregoing provisions. As the "foregoing provisions "no longer exist, having been struck out by the vote of the Committee, is it in order to discuss this Amendment at all?


The hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers) can move that paragraph (b) should be struck out. The provisions referred to have not been struck out, but only paragraph (a).


I will not pursue the question of nationalisation, but I would remind the Committee that this Clause deals with the regulating and working of the central scheme by a central council of owners. The "foregoing provisions" referred to here lay down certain regulations and conditions under which the owners shall work the scheme, and in this paragraph (b) the Board of Trade seek the power to interfere with those regulations. All along I have been against anything in the way of compulsion. The owners may get together and devise some scheme to mitigate the harm which, I am sure, the Bill will do to the country, but I do not want any interference with the owners' powers by the Board of Trade in this matter, even though the provision should contain the word "may." It is for that reason and to avoid, as far as possible, political influence "butting into" the consideration of a very technical question that I move the Amendment which will have the effect of preventing the Board of Trade interfering with this central council of owners.


As the Bill now stands, it reads in a very curious way: The central scheme may provide (b) for such matters, etc. Of course that is nothing extraordinary under this Government because one does not expect anything relevant from them, but this Sub-section now provides that the central scheme may provide for certain matters. I do not know that I should be in order in discussing the central scheme, but you, Mr. Dunnico, have ruled that we shall be in order in discussing matters relating to the production, sale and supply of coal.


What I ruled was that the Bill contained no reference to nationalisation, and that the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers), in moving his Amendment, could not discuss nationalisation. I think it is perfectly obvious that we cannot allow, on this Amendment, a discussion covering matters already decided by the Committee.

9.0 p.m.


I think, however, that on the Amendment before us we shall be able to discuss "such matters as appear to the Board of Trade to be in- cidental to" these provisions. We are in a most difficult position. I desire to ask the representative of the Board of Trade what is meant by this paragraph (b) at the present time, but we have no representative of the Board of Trade here at the moment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General is in his place and he is probably acting temporarily and doing his best to represent the Board of Trade. I wish to ask him one or two questions on this matter, although if he prefers it, or if it is more in order to do so, I shall address my questions to the Secretary to the Mines Department. I wish to know, in the first place, what is meant by the words "matters incidental to the foregoing provisions." There has been no explanation from the Secretary to the Mines Department or the Board of Trade or the Law Officers as to the particular provisions which are referred to here. There are provisions in the earlier part of the Bill with which we have already dealt, but when we were dealing with those provisions it was not realised that there would be this gap in Clause 2 of the Bill. Then there is the word "provisions" itself. Does that apply to provisions in connection with all the dealings of the coal trade—the selling and buying and export of coal, and all the other matters connected with the trade. We are entitled to information on these points at this particularly difficult moment when I find that I am addressing myself to a Subsection of the Bill which I have not had time to go into yet. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear!"] Well, I wish to be enlightened by hon. Members opposite, of all sections, as to what they think are "the matters incidental to" these provisions.

There is also the word "consequential." What sort of consequences does the Secretary to the Mines Department imagine will follow from these provisions? I can imagine at this moment all kinds of consequences, some of them most disastrous to hon. Gentlemen opposite; consequences which might lead to a complete reversal—and a reversal for the better—of the position in the House of Commons. But I should not be in order in referring to those consequences and I only point out that these words "consequential on the foregoing provisions" raise a point which it is most difficult to discuss at this time. "The foregoing provisions," as far as I understand it, refer to "The central scheme may provide." There is no other foregoing provision, and therefore the only thing we are in order in discussing under this Sub-section is the central scheme. As far as "the foregoing pro visions of this section" are concerned, I want to know what particular changes it is now proposed to bring in so as to join up these two parts of the Bill. You can not have a gap in the Bill—


I do not know what that has to do with the Amendment before us. [Interruption.] The hon. Member will allow me to say what is in order and what is not.


All I was endeavouring to point out, as briefly as possible under the circumstances, is that the words "the foregoing provisions of this Section" refer obviously to the only foregoing provision which now exists, and that is "The central scheme may provide." My trouble is that it is almost impossible to discuss the position. Nothing is further from my mind than to get out of order, but I was pointing out that we are in a difficult position in discussing a central scheme which, in the main, refers to a previous part of the Bill, when you have not that natural sequence which we look to in following a Bill of this kind. In the last line of the Sub-section we have the word "provisions" in the plural, and it is becoming increasingly difficult. The first line of the Sub-section, however, says, "The central scheme may provide," and I do not see how you can connect the singular and the plural, and I would like to know what the Government propose to do about it. It is obvious that the Government have got to reorganise this Subsection. The Government are in a difficult position, for they have got this thing into such a state of chaos, that I cannot see how they can hope under any circumstances to make this Sub-section of value to the Bill.

The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir William Jowitt)

The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has put various questions, but speaking for myself and for all of us, I wish that all questions addressed to us were as easy to answer as those which he has put. I was inclined to think that, after the many speeches which he has made, he did not appreciate the distinction between a Section and a Sub-section. I was at one time under the impression that he under stood the words "the foregoing provision of this Section" as though they were the foregoing provisions of this Sub-section. He will realise that it is impossible that he could have thought such a thing, be cause that would have displayed a gap in his own intelligence. I am sure that no such gap exists in his appreciation of such a point as this—


I agree that I made a small technical slip. It was done for one reason, for it would have meant going back too far and wasting the time of the House to have corrected it.


I am sure that the last thing which the hon. Member wants to do is to waste time. Let us see what this Amendment provides. Paragraph (b) of Sub-section 3 refers to "the foregoing provisions of this Section." We turn to Section 3, and we notice what the foregoing provisions are If the hon. Member looks at Sub-section (2) of Section 3, we shall agree that Subsection (2) is part of Section 3 and we find what the central scheme is to provide.


Does the hon. and learned Gentleman really mean Section 3? He says Sub-section (2) of Section 3, but we are on Clause 2 at the present moment.


I am much obliged; I am talking about Sub-Section (2) of Clause 2. Lawyers generally call it "Section," but in this House we call it "Clause." The "foregoing provisions of this Section" refer to the Subsection on page 3 which has the figure 2 against it in brackets. That Sub-section, which has (2) against it, sets out under various letters from (a) to (i) the various things which the central scheme is to provide. The effect of paragraph (b) of Subsection (3) is this: that in addition to providing for the things subsequently enumerated, there may be other matters not subsequently enumerated but which matters are at the same time either incidental to or consequential upon or necessary to give effect to those provisions which are provided, and which the Committee have passed. Let me give an illustration. The hon. Member will see for instance, under letter (f) on page 4, that the scheme has to provide for the appointment of trustees, but he will observe that it does not expressly provide for the removal of trustees. I take it that, if a trustee were sent to prison, there would probably have to be provisions in the scheme to have somebody to act in his place, and for that trustee to be removed. Unless you get some latitude, not a large measure of latitude, but such latitude as you get in the words "incidental to or consequential on," you find yourself in the position that you might not be able to deal with the removal of the trustee who obviously ought to be removed.

If you go through these various paragraphs you will find there are all sorts of matters which are not particularly provided for, because the scheme is merely set out on broad lines and the details have to be filled in. The Committee having passed the various paragraphs enumerated down to (i) it is really essential to have some degree of latitude. You cannot put into your schemes under Subsection (3, b) wholly new matters. If you want to put in new matters at all, you must do that under the next Sub-section, Sub-section (4). All that you are doing under Sub-section (3, b) is merely putting in such matters as are incidental to or consequential on. I do not for one moment pretend that I appreciate the difference between the two, but I do know that the two words are almost always used. Lawyers have a bad habit of using two words where one will do. I am not prepared to say that there is no distinction, because I have not looked it up in the legal dictionary, but I am not sure what it is. This is really the corollary of passing the paragraphs down to (i) in Sub-section (2). Otherwise, you might find yourself in difficulties, because you have not provided for some small thing, and unless you have in the Clause the words incidental to or consequential on the foregoing provisions of this Section or to be necessary for giving effect to those provisions.


Would those words in any way enable them to make levies?


The power of making levies, the hon. Member will agree with me, could not, be necessary for giving effect to any of the provisions enumerated down to paragraph (i) in Sub-section (2), but if the power to make levies is inherent in paragraph (b) of Sub-section (3) then, of course, this gives you a power which is incidental to and consequential on that.


Would the learned Attorney-General look at paragraph (e) in Subsection (2)?


That is the paragraph which speaks of the establishment of a central fund, for the administration and control of the fund (subject to the provisions of the central scheme) by the council, for the payment into the fund of any money received by the council under the provisions of that scheme, and for the payment out of the fund of the expenses of the council and any money payable by the council under the provisions of that scheme. All I say about that is this: If the power to make levies is there, well and good. This paragraph (b) of Sub-section (3) merely gives us an extension which is incidental to or consequential on it, but if the power is not in paragraph (e), then you cannot get a wholly new power merely by saying you have powers which are incidental to such powers as are already given. The question of levies or no levies depends upon paragraph (e) and not upon this Sub-section (3, b), which is merely put in to ensure that we have covered the small consequential points in regard to which there might otherwise be some little difficulty.

Commodore KING

The learned Attorney-General has dealt with the points which he considers to be incidental to or consequential on this, but one of the points of criticism which I have always wished to make against this particular paragraph concerns the words: as appear to the Board of Trade to be, because he will agree that the question whether it is incidental to or consequential on must be a question of fact. I cannot see why it should speak of such matters "as appear to the Board of Trade" to be incidental to. That throws a much wider discretion on the Board of Trade. When I first read it I objected to so much discretion being given to the Board of Trade on what appears to me to be a question of fact. The learned Attorney-General, in dealing with this matter, kindly gave us an example of what he thought would he incidental to a certain paragraph, and he quoted paragraph (f) of Sub-section (2). That deals with the appointment of trustees. As soon as that criticism was made one of the first things that came to his mind when he glanced down the list and saw the reference to the appointment of trustees was that there might be a probable necessity to remove trustees. That, I claim, shows very bad draftsmanship in the Bill. We are called upon to pass this Bill, which we are trying to improve in any way we can, and here we have the Attorney-General, by just glancing down this list, noting at once a point which he considers is necessary for the working of the Bill, but which has to be left to the discretion of the Board of Trade, and can only be dealt with if and when it appears to the Board of Trade to be necessary or incidental to—


Are we taking both the Amendments together? The next Amendment is dealing with the same point.

Commodore KING

I am taking the point which the Attorney-General raised. He gave us as an example paragraph (f) of Sub-section (2) dealing with appointment of trustees. I will take another one which was raised with him, and which has to do with levies. Paragraph (d) deals with the collection by council from the executive boards for the several districts of levies imposed upon them in proportion to output.


That is merely for defraying the expenses of the council. Do not let us confuse the term. It is nothing like the levy which we were discussing in the last Amendment.

Commodore KING

If the Attorney-General assures me as to that, I quite agree with him—


It is so.

Commodore KING

I realise the difference, but why use the word "levies" there if levies is not meant? I am not suggesting that it is the same kind of levy as it was proposed to impose to facilitate the sale of coal, but there is a question of levies being imposed under one of these paragraphs. I submit that it is most undesirable that the Bill should be so loosely drafted that the Attorney-General thinks it necessary to have such a paragraph as this to allow the Board of Trade to say what is going to be incidental to or consequential on the remaining part of the Clause. The Prime Minister told us only a short while ago that the dropping of paragraph (a) was of little consequence, because it was only permissive. If he thinks the dropping of a permissive paragraph is of so little importance as not to affect the passage of the Bill, I suggest to the Attorney-General that he might as well drop this second permissive paragraph, as it can have no possible effect on the Bill, and we certainly object very strongly to its remaining. The Attorney-General should do the graceful act and withdraw this particular paragraph.


May I suggest to the Attorney-General that we could omit these words; they are of no use? I will recall to the memory of the Attorney-General an example with which he is very familiar. Take the case of the memorandum of association of a company. In the opinion of many great lawyers, a bad habit has grown up in the last 20 or 30 years of first of all putting into the memorandum of association of a company the objects for which the company is really established, and then sticking into it every incidental or consequential object which the draftsman can think of. Time and time again the Courts have held that that was quite unnecessary; that when a company is given power, or takes power, to carry on a certain business, that it has by implication powers incidental to the business which it takes power to carry on. The whole sting of this paragraph is in the words "as appear to the Board of Trade." If those words are left out, the paragraph is unnecessary. If they are left in, we are giving power to the Board of Trade to legislate. The Attorney-General has not suggested that the Board of Trade want those powers. I suggest that, if they were left out, the rest of the paragraph would be unnecessary and that therefore it would be better to leave them out. It cannot be suggested for a moment that, if a scheme contained anything incidental to the earlier part of the Clause, any question could be raised as to its legality.

Captain HUDSON

I should like, first of all, to assure you that the remark to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) was for himself alone and was not meant in defiance of the Chair. I was drawing attention to the particular Sub-section which deals with levies and which had previously been dealt with and was simply making a suggestion to him about it. It was not meant in defiance of the Chair.


I accept that explanation. The hon. Member was dealing, not with the Clause, but with a paragraph of the Bill which we had just deleted, and therefore had no bearing on the Amendment.

Captain HUDSON

I entirely agree with your Ruling. I was only trying to point out that it would be much better left out like the previous paragraph. I meant no discourtesy, because no one realises more than myself the difficulties of the Chair, and I should be the last person to defy the Chair. As regards this particular paragraph, I feel it would be very much better left out like the previous paragraph. It bears on what goes before it and for that reason the Attorney-General is not quite right when he says that it is an ordinary paragraph put into every Bill. In this House, in recent years especially, we have objected again and again to the practice in legislation of giving power to a Department such as the Board of Trade by putting in a Sub-section of this kind saying that, if the Bill does not work in any way, the Board of Trade shall have the power to make the necessary legislation to make it work. It is giving power to bureaucracy and taking it away from the House of Commons. That is a bad thing, and a paragraph of this kind should be left out although similar provisions have been inserted in other Bills and in Bills not sponsored by this Government. It

would make for much better legislation if we left out such provisions. The words "such matters as appear to the Board of Trade" are much too wide a phrase to be left in, and it would be better if the Attorney-General would agree to delete paragraphs (a) and (b) of Subsection (3) altogether and see that the Bill shall be so drawn that such words as these need not appear.


I should like to add my protest against this provision. While the words "as appear to the Board of Trade" remain, no Court in the country would have power to rule out anything the Board of Trade chose to do under this Clause. The Court would merely say that, it appearing to the Board of Trade that such matters were consequential on the central scheme, they might deal with any of those matters. Take paragraph (a): Suppose that the Board of Trade said, "It appears to us to be necessary and consequential to give effect to the scheme of the Bill to make these levies," the Court would have no power to rule them out of order. The Attorney-General's speech was directed to supporting the words "incidental to or consequential on," but that may easily be achieved by leaving out the words "as appear to the Board of Trade," and leaving the rest in. As it is, the Board of Trade is given a free hand, and there is no power to cut down the exercise of their powers in any way whatever. I do not agree that it is a very common Clause. I agree that it is as far as "incidental to or consequential on" is concerned, but I cannot agree that it is usual to give power to the Board of Trade without the Courts having any jurisdiction whatever to pronounce upon the question of validity.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 310; Noes, 212.

Division No. 220.] AYES. [9.33 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Ayles, Walter Benson, G.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bentham, Dr. Ethel
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Barnes, Alfred John Birkett, W. Norman
Alpass, J. H. Batey, Joseph Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret
Ammon, Charles George Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Bowen, J. W.
Angell, Norman Bellamy, Albert Broad, Francis Alfred
Arnott, John Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Brockway, A. Fenner
Aske, Sir Robert Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Bromfield, William
Attlee, Clement Richard Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Bromley, J.
Brooke, W. Hoffman, P. C. Naylor, T. E.
Brothers, M. Hopkin, Daniel Noel Baker, P. J.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Hore-Belisha, Leslie Oldfield, J. R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Horrabin, J. F. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Hunter, Dr. Joseph Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Buchanan, G. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Burgess, F. G. Isaacs, George Palin, John Henry
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Paling, Wilfrid
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) John, William (Rhondda, West) Palmer, E. T.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Johnston, Thomas Perry, S. F.
Caine, Derwent Hall- Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Cameron, A. G. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Cape, Thomas Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Pole, Major D. G.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Potts, John S.
Chater, Daniel Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Price, M. P.
Church, Major A. G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Pybus, Percy John
Clarke, J. S. Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Cluse, W. S. Kelly, W. T. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kennedy, Thomas Rathbone, Eleanor
Cocks, Frederick Seymour. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Raynes, W. R.
Compton, Joseph Kinley, J. Richards, R.
Cove, William G. Knight, Holford Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Daggar, George Lang, Gordon Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Dallas, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Dalton, Hugh Lathan, G. Ritson, J.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Law, Albert (Bolton) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Law, A. (Rosendale) Romerll, H. G.
Day, Harry Lawrence, Susan Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Rowson, Guy
Devlin, Joseph Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Leach, W. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dukes, C. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Duncan, Charles Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Ede, James Chuter Lees, J. Sanders, W. S.
Edmunds, J. E. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Sandham, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lindley, Fred W. Sawyer, G. F.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lloyd, C. Ellis Scott, James
Egan, W. H. Logan, David Gilbert Scrymgeour, E.
Elmley, Viscount Longbottom, A. W. Scurr, John
England, Colonel A. Longden, F. Sexton, James
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univor.) Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Foot, Isaac Lowth, Thomas Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Forgan, Dr. Robert Lunn, William Sherwood, G. H.
Freeman, Peter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shield, George William
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Shillaker, J. F.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McElwee, A. Shinwell, E.
Gibbins, Joseph McEntee, V. L. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Mackinder, W. Simmons, C. J.
Gill, T. H. McKinlay, A. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Gillett, George M. MacLaren, Andrew Sinkinson, George
Glassey, A. E. MacNeill-Weir, L. Sitch, Charles H.
Gossling, A. G. McShane, John James Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Gould, F. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Mansfield, W. Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Granville, E. March, S. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Gray, Milner Marcus, M. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Markham, S. F. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Marley, J. Snell, Harry
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Marshall, Fred Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Groves, Thomas E. Mathers, George Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Grundy, Thomas W. Matters, L. W. Sorensen, R.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Melville, Sir James Stamford, Thomas W.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Messer, Fred Stephen, Campbell
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Middleton, G. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Millar, J. D. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Mills, J. E. Strauss, G. R.
Harbison, T. J. Milner, J. Sullivan, J.
Harbord, A. Montague, Frederick Sutton, J. E.
Hardie, George D. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Morley, Ralph Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Haycock, A. W. Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Thurtle, Ernest
Hayday, Arthur Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Tillett, Ben
Hayes, John Henry Mort, D. L. Tinker, John Joseph
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Moses, J. J. H. Toole, Joseph
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Tout, W. J.
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Townend, A. E.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Muff, G. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Herriotts, J. Muggeridge, H. T. Turner, B.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Murnin, Hugn Vaughan, D. J.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Nathan, Major H. L. Viant, S. P.
Walker, J. West, F. R. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Wallace, H. W. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Wallhead, Richard C. White, H. G. Wise, E. F.
Watkins, F. C. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Wilkinson, Ellen C. Wright, W. (Ruthergien)
Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Williams, David (Swansea, East) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Wellock, Wilfred Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Welsh, James (Paisley) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge) Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. William Whiteley.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Ford, Sir P. J. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Forestier-Walker, Sir L. O'Neill, Sir H.
Albery, Irving James Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Galbraith, J. F. W. Peake, Captain Osbert
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Ganzoni, Sir John Penny, Sir George
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Astor, Viscountess Glyn, Major R. G. C. Power, Sir John Cecil
Atholl, Duchess of Gower, Sir Robert Pownall, Sir Assheton
Atkinson, C. Grace, John Preston, Sir Walter Rueben
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Ramsbotham, H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Rawson, Sir Cooper
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Greene, W. P. Crawford Reid, David D. (County Down)
Balniel, Lord Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Remer, John R.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Beaumont, M. W. Gritten, W. G. Howard Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Berry, Sir George Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gunston, Captain D. W. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman 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)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Hanbury, C. Salmon, Major I.
Boyce, H. L. Hartington, Marquess of Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bracken, B. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Brass, Captain Sir William Haslam, Henry C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Briscoe, Richard George Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l d'., Hexham) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Savery, S. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan, John Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Simms, Major-General J.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Skelton, A. N.
Butler, R. A. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Carver, Major W. H. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n S Kinc'dine, C.)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hurd, Percy A. Smithers, Waldron
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Somerset, Thomas
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Iveagh, Countess of Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Kindersley, Major G. M. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Chapman, Sir S. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Stanley, Mat. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Christie, J. A. Knox, Sir Alfred Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
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) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Train, J.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lleweilln, Major J. J. Turton, Robert Hugh
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Long, Major Eric Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Lymington, Viscount Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip McConnell, Sir Joseph Warrender, Sir Victor
Dalkeith, Earl of Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Wayland, Sir William A.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Macquisten, F. A. Wells, Sydney R.
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Davies, Dr. Vernon Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Marjoribanks, E. C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Dawson, Sir Philip Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Withers, Sir John James
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Meller, R. J. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Eden, Captain Anthony Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Womersley, W. J.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Elliot, Major Walter E. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Everard, W. Lindsay Moore, Lieut-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Morden, Col. W. Grant
Ferguson, Sir John Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Fermoy, Lord Muirhead, A. J. Captain Margesson and Marquess of Titchfield.
Fielden, E. B. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Fison, F. G. Clavering Nicholson, O. (Westminster)

The next Amendment that I call is one standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) and other hon. Members—in page 5, line 26, to leave out the words "unless either," and to insert instead thereof the words "if each"—which is closely connected with the three following Amendments on the Paper—(1) in line 29, to leave out the word "not"; (2) in line 30, to leave out the word "may" and to insert instead thereof the word "shall"; and (3) in line 33 to leave out the words "may, with the approval of the Board," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall"—I suggest that the Committee should take the whole discussion on the first Amendment.

Commodore KING

I beg to move, in page 5, line 26, to leave out the words "unless either," and to insert instead thereof the words "if each."

The Committee will remember that at an earlier stage we sought to secure the assent of the House to the various schemes and, with regard to the general scheme, to get a positive resolution of the House. That was only in regard to the schemes themselves. The power which is sought to be given under Subsection (4) is far more drastic and far-reaching than anything which would appear in one of the schemes. It will he noted that not only does it give the Central Council power to make representations for regulating or facilitating the production, supply or sale of coal, but they may, if they think— it is necessary or expedient. … make provision for any matters in addition to or in substitution for the matters mentioned in Sub-sections (2) and (3) of this Section. The Committee will realise that that is giving power under this Sub-section to go beyond the Bill, and really to amend the Bill without getting the assent of this House. We give very wide powers in this Bill. Under this Sub-section we are giving not only the wide powers of the Bill but we are being asked to give still wider powers, so that the council may come along with alternative schemes and introduce any matters in addition to or in substitution for the matters in the Bill itself. That is going much too far. We consider that the Bill is going be- yond anything that this House has ever done before in regard to the wideness of the powers that are given. It is wholly unconstitutional, apart from being wholly undesirable and very unwise, that we should give powers enabling an Act of Parliament to be amended simply by a negative Resolution of this House. That is what is laid down in this Sub-section, namely, that a change in the law may be effected by laying a Motion on the Table of the House and obtaining negative consent, that is, unless a negative Motion has been moved and carried that the Order shall not be made. In this Amendment and the subsequent Amendments we seek to make a positive Resolution necessary, and I hope that the Government will accept that proposition.


I cannot help feeling that there is a great deal of substance in what the hon. and gallant Member has said. The question is whether we should have what I might call a negative approval or a positive approval. In these days, with the very considerable inroads on Parliamentary time, it is not unnatural that we lean rather to the negative approval, but I feel the force of what has been said and, reasonable as we desire to be, I can intimate to the hon. and gallant Member that the Government are prepared to accept the four Amendments, which will turn the negative approval into positive approval.


My name is attached to the first of the four Amendments. I am sorry that the Attorney-General has consented to accept the Amendment, because it gives power to both Houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to act in this matter. I understand that the Attorney-General has ruled that the House of Lords is not part of Parliament.


No. The hon. Member will allow me to say that that misrepresentation has been made so often that it should not be made unless the person making it has taken the trouble to read the opinion which I endorsed. It says nothing of the sort. The word "Parliament" is sometimes used in a popular sense. When we talk of Members of Parliament we do not mean Members of the other House, but Members of this House. In the opinion that I endorsed, having re- gard to the context, it is quite plain that it meant this House and not the other.


I accept that statement from the Attorney-General, and I understand what he means, but my remark was not seriously meant. I must say, however, that I am sorry that he has accepted the Amendment, because it gives equal powers to the House of Lords as to the House of Commons. That is why I put my name down to the Amendment, wishing to see the House of Commons alone acting in this matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 5, line 29, leave out the word "not."

In line 30, leave out the word "may" and insert instead thereof the word "shall."

In line 33, leave out the words "may, with the approval of the Board," and insert instead thereof the word "shall."—[Commodore King.]

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 270; Noes, 229.

Division No. 221.] AYES. [9.53 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West) Edmunds, J. E. Law, Albert (Bolton)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Law, A. (Rosendale)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lawrence, Susan
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Egan, W. H. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Alpass, J. H. Forgan, Dr. Robert Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Ammon, Charles George Freeman, Peter Leach, W.
Angell, Norman. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Arnott, John Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Attlee, Clement Richard Gibbins, Joseph Lees, J.
Ayles, Walter Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Gill, T. H. Lindley, Fred W.
Barnes, Alfred John Gillett, George M. Lloyd, C. Ellis
Batey, Joseph Gossling, A. G. Logan, David Gilbert
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Gould, F. Longbottom, A. W.
Bellamy, Albert Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Longden, F.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Bennett, Captain E. N.(Cardiff, Central) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lowth, Thomas
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Lunn, William
Benson, G. Groves, Thomas E. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Grundy, Thomas W. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hall, F. (York. W. R., Normanton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) McElwee, A.
Bowen, J. W. Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) McEntee, V. L.
Broad, Francis Alfred Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mackinder, W.
Brockway, A. Fenner Harbison, T. J. McKinlay, A.
Bromfield, William Hardie, George D. MacLaren, Andrew
Bromley, J. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon MacNeill-Weir, L.
Brooke, W. Hastings, Dr. Somerville McShane, John James
Brothers, M. Haycock, A. W. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Brown, C W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Hayday, Arthur Mansfield, W.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hayes, John Henry March, S.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Marcus, M.
Buchanan, G. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Markham, S. F.
Burgess, F. G. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Marley, J.
Buxton, C R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Marshall, Fred
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Herriotts, J. Mathers, George
Caine, Derwent Hall- Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Matters, L. W.
Cameron, A. G. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Melville, Sir James
Cape, Thomas Hoffman, P. C. Messer, Fred
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Hopkin, Daniel Midleton, G.
Charleton, H. C. Horrabin, J. F. Mills, J. E.
Chater, Daniel Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Milner, J.
Church, Major A. G. Isaacs, George Montague, Frederick
Clarke, J. S. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Cluse, W. S. John, William (Rhondda, West) Morley, Ralph
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Johnston, Thomas Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Compton, Joseph Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Mort, D. L.
Cove, William G. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Moses, J. J. H.
Daggar, George Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Dallas, George Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Dalton, Hugh Kelly, W. T. Muff, G.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kennedy, Thomas Muggeridge, H. T.
Day, Harry Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Murnin, Hugh
Denman, Hon. R. D. Kinley, J. Naylor, T. E.
Devlin, Joseph Knight, Holford Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Dukes, C. Lang, Gordon Noel Baker, P J.
Duncan, Charles Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Oldfield, J. R.
Ede, James Chuter Lathan, G. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Palin, John Henry Sherwood, G. H. Toole, Joseph
Paling, Wilfrid Shield, George William Tout, W. J.
Palmer, E. T. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Townend, A. E.
Perry, S. F. Shillaker, J. F. Treveivan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Shinwell, E. Turner, B.
Phillips, Dr. Marion Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Vaughan, D. J.
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Simmons, C. J. Viant, S. P.
Pole, Major D. G. Sinkinson, George Walker, J.
Potts, John S Sitch, Charles H. Wallace, H. W.
Price, M. P. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Wallhead, Richard C.
Quibell, D. J. K. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Watkins, F. C.
Rathbone, Eleanor Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Raynes, W. R. Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Richards, R. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wellock, Wilfred
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Snail, Harry West, F. R.
Ritson, J. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W-Bromwich) Sorensen, R. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Romeril, H. G. Stamford, Thomas W. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Roshotham, D. S. T. Stephen, Campbell Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Rowson, Guy Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Salter, Dr. Alfred Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Strauss, G. R. Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Sanders, W. S. Sullivan, J. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sandham, E. Sutton, J. E. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Sawyer, G. F. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln) Wise, E. F.
Scrymgeour, E. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.) Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Scurr, John Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Young, R. S. (Islington. North)
Sexton, James Thurtle, Ernest
Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Tillett, Ben TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Tinker, John Joseph Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr William Whiteley.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Colville, Major D. J. Greene, W. P. Crawford
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Courtauld, Major J. S. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Albery, Irving James Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l., W.) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Aske, Sir Robert Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Astor, Viscountess Dalkeith, Earl of Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Atholl, Duchess of Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Gadfrey Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Atkinson, C. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hanbury, C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Harbord, A.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Davies, Dr. Vernon Hartington, Marquess of
Balniel, Lord Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Haslam, Henry C.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Berry, Sir George Dawson, Sir Philip Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Duckworth, G. A. V. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Blrchall, Major Sir John Dearman Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Birkett, W. Norman Eden, Captain Anthony Hore-Belisha, Leslie.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Edmondson, Major A. J. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Elliot, Major Walter E. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Elmley, Viscount Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Boyce, H. L. England, Colonel A. Hurd, Percy A.
Bracken, B. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Brass, Captain Sir William Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Briscoe, Richard George Everard, W. Lindsay Iveagh, Countess of
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Falle, Sir Bertram G. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Ferguson, Sir John Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Fermoy, Lord Kindersley, Major G. M.
Buchan, John Fielden, E. B. King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.
Buckingham, Sir H. Fison, F. G. Clavering Knox, Sir Alfred
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Ford, Sir P. J. Lamb, Sir J. O.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Carver, Major W. H. Galbraith, J. F. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Ganzonl, Sir John Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Gault, Lieut-Col. Andrew Hamilton Lleweilln, Major J. J.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Glassey, A. E. Long, Major Eric
Chapman, Sir S. Glyn, Major R. G. C. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Christle, J. A. Gower, Sir Robert Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Grace, John Macquisten, F. A.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.
Colfox, Major William Philip Gray, Milner Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Colman, N. C. D. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Margesson, Captain H. D. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S. Thomson, Sir F.
Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Tinne, J. A.
Meller, R. J. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Todd, Capt. A. J.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Ross, Major Ronald D. Tryon, Rt. Hon George Clement
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Turton, Robert Hugh
Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Salmon, Major I. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Morden, Col. W. Grant Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Muirhead, A. J. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Warrender, Sir Victor
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Savery, S. S. Wayland, Sir William A.
Oliver, p. M. (Man., Blackley) Scott, James Wells, Sydney R.
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
O'Neill, Sir H. Simms, Major-General J. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Ormsby, Gore, Rt. Hon. William Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Skelton, A. N. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Withers, Sir John James
Peake, Captain Osbert Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Womersley, W. J.
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon. Barnstaple) Smithers, Waldron Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Power, Sir John Cecil Somerset, Thomas Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Pownall, Sir Assheton Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Preston, Sir Walter Rueben Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Ramsay, T. S. Wilson Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Ramsbotham, H. Spender-Clay, Colonel H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Major Sir George Hennessy and Sir George Penny.
Reid, David D. (County Down) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Remer, John R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)