HC Deb 08 May 1930 vol 238 cc1295-323

Order for Committee read.


At question time I made an appeal to the Prime Minister upon which he reserved his decision. It was that he should be content to take the Second Reading of the Bill which we have just disposed of and the other Order on the Paper which, as far as I know, he would get without any opposition, and that he should give us an opportunity before eleven o'clock on another day of considering the Financial Resolution. It is now very nearly 12 o'clock. The financial aspect of the Bill has scarcely been alluded to, much less discussed, in the course of the Debate that we have had. I therefore repeat my appeal to the Prime Minister with the expression of an urgent hope that he will have consideration for the general convenience of the House and the good conduct of business, and not press us further this evening.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

I was very anxious at four o'clock this afternoon to be reasonable on condition that business could be proceeded with, and I was hoping that some sort of accommodation might have been reached, but no such accommodation has been reached. It is absolutely impossible to give anything like, say, half a day to the discussion of this Financial Resolution. Therefore, I have to make up my mind whether, in asking the House to go on now with the Resolution I am doing anything that is unusual. I am not. I would recall to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman the procedure of his own Government only two years ago almost to the very day—9th May, 1928, when putting through the Second Reading of what was one of the major Bills of his Government, the Agricultural Credits Bill. He gave one day for the Second Reading and, immediately after the Second Reading, he proposed to put the Financial Resolution, although as a matter of fact there were no fewer than six amendments to it and it provided for a contemplated expenditure of £812,500, whereas this Resolution, which is purely for the mechanism of the Bill, provides for not more than £20,000. [Interruption.] The estimate has been put in after very careful examination, and it is not at all a token figure.


In that case, I presume the right hon. Gentleman will accept an Amendment to put the £20,000 into the Resolution.


No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that when you estimate like that, you estimate quite honestly—


You do not believe in it yourself.


Certainly, I believe in it, so much so that I am prepared to say that the figure of £20,000 is as near an estimate as possible, and will be found not to be substantially exceeded or saved when the actual expenditure has been discovered. But, in that case, I am afraid it is quite impossible to provide further time on any day in view of the work that is in front of us between now and Whitsuntide, and I really must ask the House to take the Resolution.

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.

[Mr. ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed. That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session (hereinafter referred to as 'the said Act') to provide for the constitution of a Consumers' Council, to define the powers and duties of that Council, to enable the Board of Trade to regulate by order the prices to be charged for certain commodities and the charges to be made in respect of sales thereof, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. "(a) any expenses incurred by the Board of Trade in paying such remuneration (if any) and such travelling and subsistence allowances to the chairman, deputy-chairman, and members of the Council constituted by the said Act, such remuneration to accountants and other assistants employed by the Council, and such other expenses of the Council as the Board of Trade, with the approval of the Treasury, may determine; and
  2. "(b) any other expenses incurred by the Board of Trade under the said Act."—[King's Recommendation signified.]

12 m.


I can explain the Resolution very briefly. As is indicated by the text of the Bill and the Financial Memorandum that accompanies it, there will be a certain expenditure in respect of a possible salary to the chairman of the Consumers' Council, and it may be to one other member, subsistence and travelling allowance, certain expenses in connection with chartered accountants' investigations and also, what will constitute the largest sum of all, an additional staff as compared with the existing staff of the Board of Trade responsible for the present Food Council work. A very great deal depends on the number of investigations which will have to be undertaken and on the general scope of the work of the Consumers' Council, but as far as we can judge at the present time the expenditure should not exceed £20,000 per year. The Finanical Resolution is drawn in the usual terms of a Financial Resolution, without a specific mention of that sum. I can give no further explanation to the Committee, because there are no other facts to divulge.


I should like—[HOH. MEMBERS: "Agreed."] We shall not agree to this Resolution until we know a little more about it We are not going to part with the Resolution or to abrogate the right and duty of the Committee to have a proper explanation of the Resolution. The President of the Board of Trade has given us unusually little information. I am sure that he will comply with all reasonable requests for further information. Who is it that we are asked to pay in this Resolution? He says that we may pay the chairman, that we may pay the deputy chairman and that we may possibly pay other members of the Council. He told us a good deal in his Second Reading speech about the functions of this Council, but he did not say one single word in the whole of that hour's speech as to who this Council would be or what would be the qualifications of its members.

Is this Council to be the old Food Council under another name or does the right hon. Gentleman propose to substitute a wholly new set of people as the Consumers' Council? He paid a very just tribute to the Food Council to-day, a tribute which I wholeheartedly endorsed. The first question, therefore, that I ask him is: Does he propose to continue this body, to whom he has paid so deserved a tribute, or does he propose to substitute for the Food Council seven other people; and if so, why? In the second place, I ask him: If a new Council is to be different in its personnel from the Food Council, whom does he propose to ask to act? If he cannot give now the names, will he give them when we come to Clause I of the Bill in the Committee stage—that is, the clause which sets up this Council? If he is not in a position to give names to-night, at any rate, he must be in a position to tell us what will be the qualifications of this Council, what qualifications he looks for in people whom he is going to appoint, and if he proposes, in selecting the seven people who are to form this Council, to select them entirely himself by his own choice, or to invite any bodies, either to nominate members on to the Council or make suggestions for his approval. For example, are we to have an accountant upon it, are we to have a representative of the manufacturers, a representative of traders, a, representative of agriculture?

These seem to me to be very relevant questions. [Interruption.] I do not think we shall get through this business more quickly by irrelevant interruptions. I am asking questions which are always asked on an occasion like this and which really ought to be answered. What will be the qualifications of these members? There is a provision that they are to be removable by the President of the Board of Trade. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to explain just a little what that power means. There is further power for him to pay these officers and to nominate additional members of the Council, either for general work or for a special inquiry. What has he in his mind in that way, what type of people and what scale of remuneration? It is very relevant, from two points or view. It is the test of whether the estimate, which the Prime Minister says has been closely made, is a reasonable estimate. It is a very relevant question in order to see whether the remuneration which is proposed is going to be such as to command the services of men and women capable and experienced enough to discharge the very onerous and important duties which are proposed here. I cannot imagine any much more responsible duty than that of fixing prices and governing, as the right hon. Gentleman himself says, probably one-half of the consumptive power of this country. For a function such as that, men of the very highest experience will be required, and if they are to pursue investigations of the size, length and numbers which he adumbrates in his Bill, and, indeed, which he outlined in his speech, I imagine that the whole of their time is going to be taken up. If that be so, and if you are to have men of sufficient calibre to command the confidence of producers, traders and consumers, you will have to pay these men a very considerable salary indeed. You will have to remember one or two things. You may get, as in the case of the Food Council, men who will give their services gratuitously, and you may get men of great experience who will do so provided you do not make too great demands on their time. If that be so, I do not know why they are to be paid at all. I think all the Food Council have given their services, I do not think even the chairman receives a salary, and they are discharging their functions very effectively. But if we are paying, we certainly ought to be paying men of the calibre to discharge these responsibilities properly.

I ask, also, how is this estimate framed? How much is to go in salaries to the Council itself? How much in salaries to new officials? How much is attributable to costs of inquiry? The President of the Board of Trade places upon local authorities the responsibility of seeing that the provisions of this Bill are carried out. One knows from experience that if you give inspectors a duty of this kind, the duty of seeing whether maximum prices are being observed over whole areas in respect of articles of food of common consumption, that is going to be a very onerous task. Either it is going to be a very onerous, and therefore, a very expensive task for the local authorities, or else it is going to be neglected. Presumably it is intended that it should be effective, and they are to have the duties of inspection and of prosecution when they are undertaken. If you are placing these new duties on local authorities, whose inspecting staffs are already worked up to the hilt, and who, for this purpose, will have to engage an expert staff, are you going, out of £20,000 or whatever is the sum in your estimate, to give the local authorities any grant-in-aid to carry out the new duties under the Act? Lastly, if this estimate has been prepared with the great care which the Prime Minister says, I submit it would be reasonable to put a limit, if not at the exact sum the Prime Minister states, at any rate very near it, upon the expenditure which Parliament has to incur under this very experimental Measure. I shall be glad if the President of the Board of Trade will give us a little light on these points.


Earlier this afternoon it was pointed out that the prices of the articles taken in this Bill, if added together, would amount to an expenditure considerably more than half the national expenditure. We are now asked to provide the money for the necessary machinery to do this price-fixing. It is, I think, a very good example of the levity with which Members of the Socialist party propose to spend other people's money, that we should be asked to take this Resolution in a hurry at this time of night. The Prime Minister said he could not contemplate the idea of giving half a day to its consideration, and he justified himself by the statement that the sum of £20,000 would not be exceeded. When it was suggested to him that a limit to that effect should be put in the Bill, he qualified the statement and said he could not be bound down to an exact figure. He went on to say most emphatically that it was not a token figure, but a figure arrived at after very careful examination. When the President of the Board of Trade rose to move the Financial Resolution I, like many other Members of the Committee, expected to be given an outline of this careful examination, instead of which the President of the Board of Trade failed to produce any figures to show how this £20,000 was arrived at.

It is not an unreasonable request to suggest to the Government that we should be told, at any rate, how many inquiries they imagine can be covered by the expenditure of a sum of £20,000! We have had the case of milk, the case of bread, the case of fish, and the case of other articles in common use as food referred to in detail, and we have had references to other commodities apart from food. If any widespread effect is to be produced by this Bill—I take it that, at any rate, supporters of the Government expect that a very important effect will he produced in the case of many commodities if this Bill becomes law—it can only be produced by a considerable number of inquiries into greatly varying trades. With all respect to the Prime Minister, it is ridiculous to tell this Commitee that all these inquiries can be covered by the sum of £20,000. We are certainly entitled, before we are asked to agree to the voting of this sum of money, to call for a statement as to how that figure has been arrived at.


I am very much interested to hear of the enormous amount of concern which is being shown in the expenditure of £20,000. It is estimated that the inquiries in connection with this Bill will cost £20,000. It is a most extraordinary thing that the people who have always over-estimated are the first to quarrel with the people who have underestimated. I have been in this House long enough to know that when the Conservative party introduced Estimates, they always exceeded them and that we have had to pay the bill; now they are the first to get on their legs and protest against any other body doing what they did. Everybody else has wandered from Dan to Beersheba. I am not an Empire Crusader but I do like to hear some of my comrades opposite talk. They say such silly things in such a gentlemanly manner. I have heard them speaking on the platform when they did not know I was listening. They have talked about the high prices of food and the cost of living but have never said a word about the cost of dying—which is a Tory monopoly. Why quarrel with us when we are trying to do what they said they were going to do, that is, to control the price of food—


The hon. Member started on the right tack. The constitution of the Council, its remuneration and expenses are the matters under discussion. He must confine himself to the question of the expenditure.


I apologise if I have transgressed. I am trying to suggest that hon. Members opposite, when they are talking about this expenditure of £20,000, might imagine the enormous amount of money that will be saved to the consumers of this country if we can control prices, as I hope we shall and as we ought to do. I went down yesterday into Essex—I live in Essex. A friend of mine took me down in his car—I have no car except the tram car, and I have a free pass on that. I went with him into a place down in Essex—he paid for it—


I must tell the hon. Member that that expenditure does not come within the terms of this Financial Resolution.


I am only explaining in a somewhat indirect way that my friend paid sixpence for a cauliflower, and I suggest that when one has to pay sixpence for a cauliflower one ought to know the cost of production. That cauliflower, I was told, cost one penny to produce and the farmer who grew it would be glad to get one penny for it but the people who bought it in order to eat it, had to pay sixpence for it. That is what we want to find out—the reason for the difference between the producer and the eater. I am one of the eaters—


The hon. Member must pay attention to what I have said. We are dealing now with the financial proposals involved in the constitution of this Council and not with cauliflowers or anything of the kind.


Yes, and we shall deal with the cauliflowers when the Council has been established, and in the meantime I do not see why anybody should object to the expenditure of £20,000 adumbrated in this Resolution.


In reply to the questions which were put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) and another hon. Member opposite, I propose to give a brief explanation to the Committee which will, I trust, meet the points raised on this Financial Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question regarding the existing Food Council and the nature of the change which is proposed in the establishment of the new body. The membership of the Food Council is, I think, nominally 12, but in any case, there have been 10 active members and the proposal in this legislation is that the Food Council should be replaced by a Consumers' Council of seven persons, of whom two will be women. In other words, the new body will be smaller than its predecessor, and it will be appointed by the Board of Trade, and constituted on the lines indicated in the Bill. All the existing members of the Food Council have given their services on a purely voluntary basis.


The right hon. Gentleman says it will be constituted by the Board of Trade, on the lines indicated in the Bill. I have read the Bill carefully and I cannot find that any lines are indicated in it.


If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I am endeavouring to give an explanation. I cannot say, to-night, a single word about the personnel of the new Consumers' Council, and it would be utterly wrong of me to do so, until I have heard the discussions in Committee and seen the Bill in its final form. The position in this respect is substantially the same as the position which existed when we were discussing amalgamation commissioners under the Coal Mines Bill. A very great deal depends on the form in which the legislation finally passes. But I can say at once to the Committee that the object is to get the services of seven people who will command the support and confidence of the public as a whole. They must be people with experience of business conditions. They must be familiar with social conditions, and I should like, if possible, to have one or more with a knowledge of price levels in this country. I cannot bind myself to-night either as regards the use of the existing personnel of the Food Council, or the appointment of the new Council. All I can say is that any service which is being rendered to the State in this connection will be borne in mind and taken carefully into account, and that an appropriate membership will be selected for this purpose. The members of the existing body, as I say, have given their services on purely voluntary lines and when, in the next place, the right hon. Gentleman asks me whether we propose to remunerate the Chairman, deputy-chairman and other members of the Council, I say at once that we are taking power under this Resolution for remuneration if it is required. It may be, as is the case with the amalgamation commissioners under the Coal Mines Bill, that we may have the offer of the services of very able people, thoroughly competent in every way, who do not expect any remuneration and would be content to have their out-of-pocket expenses covered, or some small honorarium or allowance of that description.

All Governments, irrespective of party, have been fortunate in getting the help of men and women so circumstanced that they were delighted to give their services to the State on these lines. But if the duties were to prove very heavy and I had to make appointments which plainly involved considerable financial sacrifice to the parties who took them up, and whose services it was desirable to retain, it would be singularly unfortunate if I could not get the help of those people. That must be a small part at best of the expenditure contemplated in this Resolution. It is, therefore, impossible for me to-night to pledge myself either to personnel or to any exact question of remuneration. I have indicated that that total will be small, and that by far the greater part of the £20,000, or less, because it may well be less, will be attributable to a necessary increase of staff at the Board of Trade, since the duties of the existing Food Council will be increased as regards the Departmental assistance. In a rough way, I should put down that expenditure at probably £8,000 to £10,000 per annum. That is an estimate, and it may be that I shall require to get professional or technical assistance by chartered accountants hitherto obtained on a purely voluntary basis for certain inquiries, and on their efficiency the inquiries will depend. I think, probably, £2,000 might be sufficient for that, but, there again, it is only an estimate and the best that we can give at the present moment.

I have, thus, accounted for perhaps £12,000 out of the £20,000 or less which will be required. I think that that is just as exact a statement as any human being can make when we are dealing with a very small Financial Resolution before the Committee stage of the Bill, in the course of which I will do my best to give all relevant information to hon. Members.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked me a question regarding the expenditure of the local authorities. It is contemplated in one of the later Clauses that any steps taken in the local districts may be taken by the Weights and Measures Authorities, in which case the burden falls on the local rates. But I imagine, as was disclosed in the Second Reading Debate, that any expenditure of that kind will be literally infinitesimal. The very threat of prosecution will, for all practical purposes, be sufficient. Even if there were, here and there, any expenditure on the part of local authorities in undertaking a prosecution they would be entitled to take the penalties recovered, with the distinction that in Scotland prosecutions are undertaken by the Procurator-Fiscal, in which case no burden falls on local funds. That is a simple and, I trust, clear explanation of this matter, and I hope that we can now get this Financial Resolution.


I am sure we are very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the full reply that he has given to us. I only desire to recur to one point that was raised by my right hon. Friend. I quite appreciate the argument of the President of the Board of Trade that he cannot name the personnel of this new Council until he has a knowledge of the condition in which the Bill will emerge from its Parliamentary consideration in Committee. I do not, therefore, press the request that be should give us the names before Clause 1 is taken in Committee. I think the Committee stage will give him a good indication of the general line on which the Bill will be framed when it comes to Third Reading. I would ask if he could not undertake to give us the names at the opening of the Report stage. If he still feels that impossible, will he not definitely undertake to give us the names before Third Reading? That request has often been made in similar circumstances and I think has been generally complied with. I recognise the reasonableness of the right hon. Gentleman's plea that he cannot do it immediately, but I think he could reasonably do so before the House parts with its control of the Bill.


As one of those members in the House—and I am sure there are many others, especially those who come from north of the Tweed—who never in my life have ever given a blank cheque to anyone for anything, I should like to say a few words on this Resolution. Under this Resolution we are giving a complete blank cheque to the President of the Board of Trade to expend any sum whatever, because this Financial Resolution is by no means limited, as the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade have both been careful to say in their speeches to-night. Looking at it, one sees that it provides for such other expenses of the Council as with the approval of the Board of Trade may be determined. A large class of expenses covered is not concerned with the salaries of the chairman, deputy chairman or other members of the Council, nor with additional members of the staff of the Board of Trade and the actions that they may see fit to bring. A large and an unlimited class of expenses is not covered by any explanation we have been given by the President of the Board of Trade. Indeed, when he was dealing with the extra cost falling on local authorities he did not tell us anything about what expenses will fall under Clause 6, Sub-section (2), of this Bill, under which the Board of Trade itself may institute and carry out proceedings in respect of an offence under this Act in any case, where the Board, having regard to the general importance of the case, consider it is desirable to do so.

We have, therefore, an unlimited range of expenses that may arise in criminal actions brought under this Bill. As far as I could hear from the speech of the President of the Board of Trade, no specific allowance is made for those expenses. We may very definitely, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, ask who, or what members of the Council, are going to be paid, and what amounts? It seems to me that here we are setting up a council of people who may inquire into the very basis of the livelihood, small or large, of the traders of this country, and before whom not a single trader, not a single large producer or distributor in this country, has any right of appearance whatever. They merely get written evidence as to which there cannot be cross-examination. It seems to me that it is, from the point of view of the vast interests of these people, a completely novel institution. In the ordinary way in this country before our judges, who are not too highly paid, the person has a right to come before them to put his case. We want to know that the people who are to form the Council will be paid on a scale that will attract the best people obtainable.

We ought to know before we pass this Financial Resolution more about the amount that is to be paid to them. You must appoint people in whom the traders of this country will have real confidence. They should be paid at least as highly as the High Court Judges in this country, because whereas the High Court Judges merely decide as between two individuals in the dispute, the probability is that neither of the parties is handicapped for life. But in the case of this Bill you may take away the whole livelihood of one of the smaller men. The people appointed to these posts should be paid as highly as any judicial authority in this country, and if that is so, obviously this estimate of £20,000 is very far short of the mark. We, therefore, ought to know a little more of the intentions of the President of the Board of Trade as to their payment. If they have anything like the amount of work to do that is attributed to them, it will be a full-time job. If they are to decide these matters without the men coming before them, and to try them upon written evidence merely, you must get the best people. That is why I think we ought to know more as to what these people are to be paid. I do not think I have over-estimated the cost in the least.

I, therefore, ask the President of the Board of Trade to give a further explanation, and I think we ought to have, as they say in the law, further and better particulars before we pass this Resolution. I also ask the President of the Board of Trade to say that he will ensure that the right people are appointed to this Council if he is determined to set up such a Council. We need not have set up this Council at all, but if it is to be set up, we ought to see that the people who act on the Council have such authority in the country that everyone will have confidence in their decisions.


Let me for only a minute reply to the question suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). I find it very difficult indeed, and I do not think it is the practice of any Government, to indicate the precise names of members of a proposed body prior to legislation emerging from Parliament in its final form. My right hon. Friend suggests that I should do it in the Committee stage or at some later stage of the Bill in this House. After all, there is still another place to which the Bill has to go, and amendments might be made there and changes introduced which would materially alter the functions and duties of this Council. If that took place, I should be in a very difficult, if not a ludicrous position if I had named people at any stage in the House of Commons only to discover later that it was impossible to have their services or any of them. For these reasons, my right hon. Friend will probably not press the request. But I always believe in trying to tell the House or the Committee frankly what is in our minds. During the Committee stage, or the report stage or Third Reading, I shall try to indicate in the most precise terms the kind of people we have in view. But I would beg the House not to commit me to actual names on which I may have to go back, and it might embarrass people. I trust that I have satisfied the right hon. Gentleman.

Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, in line 14, at the end, to add the words: Provided that the total expenditure so incurred shall not exceed £20,000 in any one year. There are many precedents for moving Amendments to a Financial Resolution. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman gave us a sketch as to how he arrived at his estimate of £20,000. He left himself a substantial margin of £8,000 or £10,000 out of which to make possible remuneration of members of the Council. I should like a further explanation as to how he arrives at that sum of additional expenditure. We seem to spend no small amount of time in this House passing Resolutions for incurring additional expenditure. This makes any attempt at economy in national expenditure still more difficult, and we get no satisfactory explanation as to why these increases are necessary. What has the right hon. Gentleman got to justify the increase of £8,000 to £10,000? We all know the burdens of taxation, and everybody is trying to cut expenditure down, yet time after time we pass these Financial Resolutions and are told it is only for £20,000 or £30,000; then, when we turn up the Estimates, we find the £20,000 has become £80,000 or £90,000, and we are told that the expenditure has unavoidably increased. I think that we in this House should be very jealous of these unlimited Resolutions. If we have this limitation we are not likely to be met by these vast increases which ultimately occur.


I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to include this Amendment. If he has any doubt, his decision to do so must have been strengthened by the speech of the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), who has proclaimed with all the weight of his position in this House and in the Labour movement that a Socialist estimate is always an over-estimate—a sort of perpetual one over the eight. Indeed from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech, it is quite clear that if this is an estimate at all, it is an over-estimate. In the course of the rather scanty details he gave us, he was only able to tot up some 60 per cent. of the total sum to which my hon. Friend is now asking him to limit the expenditure. If he presents that sum as any closely reasoned estimate of the expenditure to be incurred he can have no real objection to accepting the Amendment.

But the truth is that whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, this is not an estimate—it is merely a token Vote. The amount of the items upon which this money can be spent are uncertain and indefinite. One item is the salary of the members of the Council. He does not know how many members of the Council there will be. Seven is the number mentioned, but he has power to add to them. Can he really doubt that if in fact this is to have effect, as he has led the members behind him to believe it will have, that number will have to be increased? He has given the Impression to hon. Members who have supported this that over the whole range of consumption there is this serious problem of profiteering—these too high prices from broccoli to cotton, by way of cod. Can five men and two women do this work which up to now has been done by 12, of whom at least 10 were active members? They have to assume a great deal more responsibility. I cannot really believe that if this whole range is to be covered, it can be done by seven. He does not know how many people in this number are to be paid.


I would suggest that the hon. Member is moving for an increase, and not for a reduction.


I was saying that if the right hon. Gentleman refuses to accept the limit we are laying down, it is clear proof that this is not an estimate at all, but merely a token Vote. That would be an additional reason for refusing to pass a Resolution in such an indefinite form. He has given us no indication at the moment who the members of the Council are to be. He quoted the analogy of the amalgamation Clause in the Coal Mines Bill. I have a faint recollection that when he introduced that Clause, he told us with some pride that that committee was to consist of a lawyer, an accountant and a mining engineer. He might give us as much indication of those who are to be on this Council. Equally indefinite is the number of inquiries this Council is to pursue. If this great problem does exist; if there is this widespread profiteering; if there is this great need to fix prices in every class of article, the inquiry is to be complicated and their task will be long. In these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman is not really in a position to accept the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, because the estimate exists only in his imagination, and we are asked to give him a blank cheque.


I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press this Amendment. He says that although this is not an unusual procedure, and that it would be difficult to find any precedent where a Financial Resolution in relation to a Bill of this description has had a limiting figure placed on it, there is a possibility of the work of the Committee growing as the years proceed. I would like to suggest that there is no difference of opinion between the two sides of the House on the main purposes of this Bill. Hon. Members believe that this investigation should take place, but it might not be effective if some limit were placed in the Financial Resolution in the way suggested. If one or two questions arose of great public importance they would be the first to regret that the work of investigation was rendered, if not impossible, at least very difficult because this limitation was placed in the Financial Resolution. I would assure my hon. Friends opposite that it is not a question of a token Vote. It is impossible to give an exact figure, but in so far as it is possible to calculate what may be the outside figure under this Bill, the figure mentioned is one considered reasonable in the circumstances. If the work does increase, then it would mean that the Bill was becoming effective for its purpose. There is agreement on the main parts of the Bill—inquiry and compulsory investigation—and it would be unreasonable and unfortunate if by placing this limit in the Resolution the work of this Council were jeopardised or opportunities to gather information were rendered largely abortive.

1.0 a.m.


I do not know if the hon. Gentleman would undertake to confine the Bill to that part which he says is the most important? The hon. Gentleman, in his interesting and informative speech, has made it perfectly clear that the estimate is not worth the breath in which it is spoken or the paper on which it is printed. The Prime Minister could only assure the House that the estimate was the result of the most careful examination, and that if it was exceeded it would only be by some very modest sum. If the President of the Board of Trade wants a 5 per cent. margin for error I will not quarrel with him. I am anxious only to come to a friendly arrangement to save time and trouble and physical exercise, which has no particular attraction to me. I would make it 10 per cent. over his estimate. Will he accept that? No.


We get nothing for overtime.


No, Sir; not in this House, nothing is paid for overtime to Ministers or even to the higher ranks of the Civil Service. But let us come back to the matters which we were discussing. Not only have the Government no confidence that they can keep within the £20,000, but they hope that they will greatly exceed it. The hon. Gentleman said it is wrong to call it a token Vote. But he says that if the Bill is successful, the £20,000 will be inadequate. It is, in fact, a token sum if we pass this Resolution in this form. The estimate is £20,000. But with whatever additions to the staff of the Board of Trade the President and the Treasury may choose to make, whatever number of paid inquiries and paid Commissioners the President of the Board of Trade and the Treasury think fit, it will appear as an increased Vote. As one of my hon. Friends said, we will then be told that it is an automatic growth which the Treasury is unable to control and to which the taxpayer must submit because Parliament has already so decreed. We shall certainly go to a Division on this subject unless the President of the Board of Trade will agree to put in some limitation to the expenditure to which he asks the House to agree.


Whatever may be the attitude of the President of the Board of Trade, he must accept my hon. Friend's Amendment as a great compliment to himself, because we have accepted his exact estimate of the sum likely to arise. In the face of that I cannot see that the President has any real answer to the Amendment. I again would like to refer to the convincing argument of the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones). He ended his peroration in a very convincing way with the word "adumbrated." That means merely foreshadowed, and the President of the Board of Trade has merely foreshadowed what the expenditure under this Bill is going to be. In his attempt to give particulars the President failed entirely to reach the sum of £20,000. That is a matter for suspicion. It shows that he has not considered the matter in detail at all.

Apart from the mere question of amount, there is another matter which arouses suspicion. He made a vague promise that there might be voluntary service as well as paid service on the Council. He did not specify how many would be paid and how many were to be voluntary workers, but I think we may fairly say that if anybody is going to serve on this very comprehensive Council, he must be a very skilled and very able person. I ask how it is likely, having regard to the nature of this proposal, that the President of the Board of Trade will be able to get as a volunteer a person of vast experience in this particular kind of matter? Of course he will not, or anybody who has any real skill or experience. He will have to fall back on people who agree with himself in these matters, and as they are to be appointed by himself, these must be regarded on this side of the House with very grave suspicion indeed. And even having regard to the paid members, can they be awarded sufficient remuneration to reward them for their services in the cause of the consumers? Of course, this £20,000 would in no way adequately reward skilled experts for their inquiries and investigations. Having regard to all the circumstances, readers in the country who read the Debate on this Amendment can only come to the one conclusion that the President of the Board of Trade in putting forward this estimate of the expense is really putting forward a token Vote and has not the courage to admit that it is a token Vote. He comes forward with this immense engine—or shall we call it a huge vessel?—to undertake a voyage on uncharted seas. But he does not provide the machinery to propel the vessel or the crew to man it.


It seems to me that the theory of financial control of the House of Commons is in a Resolution of this sort reduced almost, if not quite, to a farce, because we are asked to give an absolutely blank cheque to the Government to fill in to any amount they like and to use almost for any purpose they like. We have been discussing this afternoon the Second Reading of the Bill founded on this Resolution. We have noticed that that Bill is very widely drawn in its scope, and in the possibility of action which can be taken by the Government under it. If the Bill is in fact to be carried out in the way in which it has been recommended by the supporters of the Government, then it must be sufficiently obvious that the expenses incurred in administering the Bill will be very substantially more than the estimate of £20,000 which was put by the Prime Minister an hour or so ago. The fact that the Bill and the Resolution are so widely drawn, coupled with the very small estimate that is put upon the expenses of the administration, show, I should think sufficiently plainly, that the Government are not in any way in earnest, and have no intention of carrying out the Bill on the lines which they have been trying to make out the whole of to-day because—[Interruption.]—the irrelevant and ill-mannered intervention of members opposite will not prevent me from giving my opinion. As I was saying when I was rudely interrupted, it is quite sufficiently obvious that the Government's intentions are not in any sense those which they have been sketching to this House and to the public during the Debate this afternoon.

We all remember that about an hour ago the Prime Minister told us that the estimate of £20,000 was a close and accurate estimate and was unlikely to be exceeded. Of course, we take the word of the Prime Minister by believing that he thought on the information which he had received that that was the case, but the facts that have come to light to the Prime Minister have shown that he was misinformed, and that although he said that the estimate was a close and accurate estimate, it was in fact nothing of the kind, because clearly the administration of this most complicated Bill cannot be done at anything like that sum. I should like to know whether it is intended or expected that this Council, composed only of seven members, can possibly deal with all the vast and varied range of subjects which might, and possibly will be referred to it under this Bill. It seems to me that inevitably it will be necessary to set up a number of sub-Committees, sub-Councils or whatever you may like to call them, each dealing with a number of subjects and each reporting to the main Council. Therefore, obviously, the expenses in salaries alone are going to exceed very vastly the total amount of the estimate that is given.

We have to guide us the experience of the Ministry of Food during the War. We know that the Ministry of Food was a complicated organisation with a very large staff and a very costly list of salaries and of administrative expenses. But the size and complication of the Ministry of Food will be, as I think, nothing compared with the size and complication of an organisation set up to administer this Bill which deals with the subjects with which the Ministry of Food in its day had to contend, and in addition a great many other subjects. Although I do not know how many millions a year were spent on the Ministry of Food in those years, I feel confident that to work this Bill adequately and thoroughly will cost substantially more than the price paid for the Ministry of Food.

But, from what we have heard, it is not the intention of the Government to administer this Bill in any detail whatever. They appear to suggest that two or three subjects only are likely to be referred to this Council. We have had that information since we started discussing the cost of the administration, but during the time that the Second Reading of the Bill was under discussion, we were led to believe that not only one subject would be referred to the Council, but every conceivable article in daily use of commerce would come under this Council. It is clear that the Government have no fixed idea of what their intentions are, and it seems to me ridiculous that we should be asked this evening, considerably after midnight, to discuss the finance of this proposal, and be asked to give an absolutely blank cheque. Therefore, I very much hope that this proposed limit of £20,000 will be insisted upon as being a reasonable estimate of the amount which the Government themselves think they are likely to want to spend.


There are two reasons why I think it is absolutely essential that the Committee should accept the Amendment to this Financial Resolution which has been proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). The first arises out of the debate we had this afternoon upon the Second Reading. We have now decided to refer the Bill to a Committee upstairs. The right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), intimated that his party were only going to vote for the Bill on the understanding that large and drastic Amendments will be required, particularly in regard to Clause 5. The President of the Board of Trade, I think it was in the second speech he made on the Financial Resolution, said that he could not possibly, or rather at this point, place any very definite limit upon the expenditure which he administrated for the reason that the expenditure might be exceeded, and he quoted the Coal Bill as an example. There is within the recollection of the Committee the financial results of the drastic Amendments on that Bill introduced by the Liberal party. The President of the Board of Trade had an estimate of, I think, £20,000, and when the Liberal party had finished with it, he passed a fresh Financial Resolution for £250,000. It is very desirable, if there is to be an estimate of £20,000, that it should be a definite and fixed sum of £20,000, and the country should know that these drastic Amendments are proposed by the Liberal party, and that they cost, if the analogy of the Coal Mines Bill be followed, another £32,000.

I believe in every herring hanging by its own neck. If the expenditure on this Bill is not to be altered, as it was altered by the Liberal party on the Coal Mines Bill, the Government will be sorry that they did not accept the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford, as they will get the discredit from the country for this great expenditure which ought to fall on the party for economy that site below the Gangway. As we have had it indicated to us that these great Amendments are going to be proposed, and the President of the Board of Trade is not able to give us any better reason for not limiting the financial provision to £20,000, which is either a token estimate or an accurate estimate, it is quite clear that we are bound to insist, as far as we can, on the £20,000 being definite. On the Bill as it now is, without these great Amendments, the Prime Minister has told us that, according to the best estimate, the Bill is going to cost only £20,000 to work. If that is so, let us fix it and let the country know what the alteration in the procedure of the Bill and in the scope of the Bill will cost. Up to the present we know that this is the closest estimate that can be made, and we ask that that estimate shall be made. We are entitled to say that the troubles of to-day, or rather of to-night, are sufficient for the hour, and that we ought to deal with the Bill as it now is and on the estimate that has been given to us, and has been adumbrated and have something definite and finite.


I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will not accept this Amendment. The consuming public of this country have been anxiously

waiting for this Bill for the last eight or nine years, and I am sure there is great anxiety in the public mind that this Bill should not be cramped in its administrative functions by having a definite limit placed on the expenditure. I contemplate that the personnel of the Consumers' Council will be a personnel that will command the respect of the whole community, and I am rather hopeful that the President of the Board of Trade will be able to get the services of eminent men and women to serve on this Council on an honorary basis. I imagine that their duties will be very onerous. I would suggest that there be at least two members representing very important interests, one the producing—


At this stage, the Minister cannot say what particular class will be represented on the Council.


I was only stressing this point, that this Consumers' Council will have to be a very commanding body, and therefore it will be necessary to have the services of very outstanding men and women, and, in my opinion, it will be necessary that they shall receive remuneration. In order to command the services of an eminent agriculturist—


We must leave that to the Committee stage.


As I am not allowed to make this point in regard to personnel of the Consumers' Council, I should like just to stress this point. The money voted by this House for this purpose should not be limited, but should be such a sum as will allow the President of the Board of Trade to set up adequate machinery so as to give the benefit to the people of this country of a Consumers' Council that will give them the necessities of life at a reasonable measure of prices.

Question put, "That these words be there added."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 179.

Division No. 280.] AYES. [1.28 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Bird, Ernest Roy Butler, R. A.
Albery, Irving James Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Carver, Major W. H.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Boyce, H. L. Castle Stewart, Earl of
Balniel, Lord Bracken, B. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)
Beaumont, M. W. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Bullock, Captain Malcolm Colfox, Major William Philip
Colman, N. C. D. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Salmon, Major I.
Cranborne, Viscount Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Kindersley, Major G. M. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Knox, Sir Alfred Skelton, A. N.
Dalkeith, Earl of Lamb, Sir J. Q. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Duckworth, G. A. V. Llewellin, Major J. J. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lymington, Viscount Thomson, Sir F.
Eden, Captain Anthony Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Edmondson, Major A. J. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Elliot, Major Walter E. Marjoribanks, E. C. Turton, Robert Hugh
Ferguson, Sir John Meller, R. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Fermoy, Lord Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Fison, F. G. Clavering Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Ford, Sir P. J. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Warrender, Sir Victor
Galbraith, J. F. W. Muirhead, A. J. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gower, Sir Robert Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Wayland, Sir William A.
Greene, W. P. Crawford Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wells, Sydney R.
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Pownall, Sir Assheton Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Gunston, Captain D. W. Ramsbotham, H. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Remer, John R. Womersley, W. J.
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Reynolds, Col. Sir James Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Hammersley, S. S. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ross, Major Ronald D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Captain Margesson and Sir George
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gray, Milner Mathers, George
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Maxton, James
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Melville, Sir James
Ammon, Charles George Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Messer, Fred
Arnott, John Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Milner, Major J.
Aske, Sir Robert Grundy, Thomas W. Morley, Ralph
Barnes, Alfred John Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mort, D. L.
Barr, James Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Moses, J. J. H.
Batey, Joseph Hardie, George D. Muff, G.
Bellamy, Albert Haycock, A. W. Murnin, Hugh
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hayday, Arthur Nathan, Major H. L.
Benson, G. Hayes, John Henry Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Oldfield, J. R.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Palin, John Henry.
Broad, Francis Alfred Harriotts, J. Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Brockway, A. Fenner Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Bromfield, William Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Phillips, Dr. Marion
Bromley, J. Hoffman, P. C. Potts, John S.
Brooke, W. Hollins, A. Price, M. P.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Horrabin, J. F. Pybus, Percy John
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Quibell, D. J. K.
Buchanan, G. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Burgess, F. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rathbone, Eleanor
Caine, Derwent Hall- Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Raynes, W. R.
Cameron, A. G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Richards, R.
Cape, Thomas Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Kennedy, Thomas Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Charleton, H. C. Kinley, J. Ritson, J.
Church, Major A. G. Lang, Gordon Romeril, H. G.
Cluse, W. S. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lathan, G. Rowson, Guy
Compton, Joseph Law, Albert (Bolton) Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Daggar, George Law, A. (Rossendale) Sanders, W. S.
Dallas, George Lawrence, Susan Sandham, E.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lawson, John James Sawyer, G. F.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Scurr, John
Dukes, C. Leach, W. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Duncan, Charles Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shield, George William
Ede, James Chuter Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shillaker, J. F.
Edmunds, J. E. Lindley, Fred W. Simmons, C. J.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lloyd, C. Ellis Sinkinson, George
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Logan, David Gilbert Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Egan, W. H. Longden, F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Foot, Isaac Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Freeman, Peter Lunn, William Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gibbins, Joseph MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gill, T. H. McElwee, A. Stephen, Campbell
Glassey, A. E. McEntee, V. L. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Gossling, A. G. McShane, John James Sutton, J. E.
Gould, F. Mansfield, W. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cont.) Marley, J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Thurtle, Ernest Westwood, Joseph Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Tinker, John Joseph White, H. G. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Tout, W. J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Wise, E. F.
Townend, A. E. Whiteley, William (Blaydon) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Vaughan, D. J. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline). Williams, T. (York, Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Wellock, Wilfred Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge) Wilson, J. (Oldham) Paling.

Main Question put:

The Committee divided: Ayes, 179; Noes, 99.

Division No. 281.] AYES. [1.38 a.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Haycock, A. W. Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Addison, Rt. Mon. Dr. Christopher Hayday, Arthur Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Hayes, John Henry Phillips, Dr. Marion
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Potts, John S.
Arnott, John Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Price, M. P.
Aske, Sir Robert Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Pybus, Percy John
Barnes, Alfred John Herriotts, J. Quibell, D. F. K.
Barr, James Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Batey, Joseph Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Rathbone, Eleanor
Bellamy, Albert Hoffman, P. C. Raynes, W. R.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hollins, A. Richards, R.
Benson, G. Horrabin, J. F. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hunter, Dr. Joseph Ritson, J.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Romeril, H. G.
Broad, Francis Alfred Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Brockway, A. Fanner Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Rowson, Guy
Bromfield, William Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Bromley, J. Kennedy, Thomas Sanders, W. S.
Brooke, W. Kinley, J. Sandham, E.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Lang, Gordon Sawyer, G. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Scurr, John
Buchanan, G. Lathan, G. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Burgess, F. G. Law, Albert (Bolton) Shield, George William
Caine, Derwent Halt Law, A. (Rossendale) Shillaker, J. F.
Cameron, A. G. Lawrence, Susan Simmons, C. J.
Cape, Thomas Lawson, John James Sinkinson, George
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Charleton, H. C. Leach, W. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Church, Major A. G. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cluse, W. S. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour. Lindley, Fred W. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Compton, Joseph Lloyd, C. Ellis Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Daggar, George Logan, David Gilbert Stephen, Campbell
Dallas, George Longden, F. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Sutton, J. E.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lunn, William Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Dukes, C. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Duncan, Charles MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Thurtle, Ernest
Ede, James Chuter McElwee, A. Tinker, John Joseph
Edmunds, J. E. McEntee, V. L. Tout, W. J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) McShane, John James Townend, A. E.
Egan, W. H. Mansfield, W. Vaughan, D. J.
Foot, Isaac Marley, J. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Freeman, Peter Mathers, George Wellock, Wilfred
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Maxton, James Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Gibbins, Joseph Melville, Sir James Westwood, Joseph
Gill, T. H. Messer, Fred White, H. G.
Glassey, A. E. Milner, Major J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gossling, A. G. Morley, Ralph Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Gould, F. Mort, D. L. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Moses, J. J. H. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Gray, Milner Muff, G. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Murnin, Hugh Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Nathan, Major H. L. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wise E. F.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth. Pontypool) Oldfield, J. R. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Grundy, Thomas W. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Palin, John Henry TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Paling, Wilfrid Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Hardie, George D. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) William Whiteley.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Betterton, Sir Henry B. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)
Albery, Irving James Bird, Ernest Roy Bullock, Captain Malcolm
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I of Thanet) Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Butler, R. A.
Balniel, Lord Boyce, H. L. Carver, Major W. H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Bracken, B. Castle Stewart, Earl of
Beaumont, M. W. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Salmon, Major I.
Colfox, Major William Philip Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Colman, N. C. D. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cranborne, Viscount Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Kindersley, Major G. M. Skelton, A. N.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Knox, Sir Alfred Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Llewellin, Major J. J. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Lymington, Viscount Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Duckworth, G. A. V. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Turton, Robert Hugh
Eden, Captain Anthony Marjoribanks, E. C. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Meller, R. J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Elliot, Major Walter E. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Ferguson, Sir John Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Warrender, Sir Victor
Fermoy, Lord Morrison, W. B. (Glos., Cirencester) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Fison, F. G. Clavering Muirhead, A. J. Wayland, Sir William A.
Ford, Sir P. J. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Wells, Sydney R.
Galbraith, J. F. W. Penny, Sir George Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Gower, Sir Robert Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Greene, W. P. Crawford Pownall, Sir Assheton Womersley, W. J.
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Ramsbotham, H. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Gunston, Captain D. W. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Ross, Major Ronald D. Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session (hereinafter referred to as 'the said Act') to provide for the constitution of a Consumers' Council, to define the powers and duties of that Council, to enable the Board of Trade to regulate by order the prices to be charged for certain commodities and the charges to be made in respect of sales thereof, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. "(a) any expenses incurred by the Board of Trade in paying such remuneration (if any) and such travelling and subsistence allowances to the chairman, deputy-chairman, and members of the Council constituted by the said Act, such remuneration to accountants and other assistants employed by the Council, and such other expenses of the Council as the Board of Trade with the approval of the Treasury, may determine; and
  2. "(b) any other expenses incurred by the Board of Trade under the said Act."

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.