§ Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS
I beg to move, in page 17, to leave out lines 8 to 12.
The Committee will be sorry to hear that my hon. and learned friend the Member for Holborn (Mr. S. Bevan), in whose name, among others, this Amend-mend stands on the Paper, is unwell. The object of the Amendment is to preserve intact as far as possible the area of the present so-called Five Counties Scheme, and I put it forward for the consideration of the Government, first, on the ground of gratitude that this Scheme has been rather the basis upon which they have framed their Bill; 2304 secondly, because it will reduce very largely the numbers of areas and schemes which the Government will have to consider, and very much simplify their work: and thirdly, because, to my mind, a large area is much better than a small one, because it is much fairer to the individual pits if they should go before the executive committee. If you have a small area, and an individual colliery owner has to go before his next-door neighbour and put his case, the prejudice, bias, and natural business keenness will be much more adverse to the individual than if he had to go before the executive committee of a much larger area.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I have very considerable sympathy with the Amendment, because the effect of it would be not to change the 21 wages ascertainment districts as districts for the Scheme under the Bill, but to accept what is commonly known as the Five Counties Scheme, but which in fact covers about nine counties, as an area of the Scheme. I have always indicated that anyone familiar with the problem realizes that 21 districts are far too many for the purposes of this Bill, and for myself I should like to see them reduced at the earliest possible moment, but reduction is provided for in the simple and ready amalgamation which follows this list of 21 districts, and I am afraid it would not be, if we were to delete these words and make the Five 2305 Counties Scheme a scheme at once under the Schedule. For what it is worth, any influence that I can exercise will always be exercised in the direction of a smaller number of schemes, and there is nothing to prevent the organization now of the five counties from coming forward and itself promoting amalgamation in that area, and I have not the least doubt that amalgamation would be very sympathetically considered, but beyond that I cannot go. I can only repeat that it would be impossible to do it at this stage of the Bill; there are too many difficulties involved. I am not sure if the hon. Member intends to press this to a division, but as I understand that this will be the last Amendment to be called, I should like to use any final sentence in thanking hon. Members in all parts of the House for 2306 their very great consideration during these prolonged Committee proceedings.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed.—(Bill 142).
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after half-past eleven of the clock upon Thursday evening, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without the Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Four minutes after Twelve o'Clock.