§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.
§ [Mr. DUNNICO in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to promote the better utilisation of agricultural land in Great Britain and the settlement of unemployed persons thereon, to amend the Law relating to smallholdings and allotments, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient—
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not think there is very much that need be said on this Motion, because the debate which has just concluded has traversed the same ground. The first part of the Motion deals with the £1,000,000 that is to be devoted to the purpose of the Agricultural Land Corporation and, when we link that with the money that we may he empowered to spend on reclamation and consider it in the light of the debate which has just concluded, the only consideration that arises in my mind is this, Why in the world did I not ask for more? The case that has been made against it is so sketchy and so unsupported by parallel evidence that I have come to the conclusion that I was too modest in my demands. Let us put down the first two items, £1,000,000 for the Agricultural Corporation and £5,000,000, if necessary, subject to the further sanction of Parliament, for land reclamation, £6,000,000 in all, compared for example with the expenditure on roads. We are spending all over the country on some of these magnificent new trunk roads much greater figures than these in the year, and I have not heard a single Member opposite raise any objection, as far as I recollect. There is not a road in the land that has ever paid 1 per cent. dividend. It is true they are possessed of great advantages. They serve the interests of the vicinity, but they do not pay a dividend. They are not, in themselves, except so far as they ease and facilitate transport, productive enterprises. The worst epithet that has been hurled at me from the other side is that I am only going to get 2½ per cent. That is the worst crime that is alleged against us in the Bill generally. In the first place, I shall have 2½ per cent. more than any road has ever paid.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I should like to establish that parallel. What do you get here? You get land which is made fit for utilisation and the regular steady 344 production of food. The more you develop it the more people you employ. I am willing to accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's comparison. If we had spent under schemes of this kind, not-the sum asked for in this Bill but a quarter of the sum we have spent on our roads, we should have from one end of the country to the other productive, flourishing, self-supporting enterprises, and they do not require controlling by the police. It is true that the roads make no profit, but I think the whole of the debate has shown, apart entirely from the 2½ per cent., which I am accepting for the moment, that if this land is to be used you are going to get a great increase of home food production.
Let me refer, in justification of the expenditure here contemplated, to the statement of the late Secretary of State for Scotland. He was criticising the proposed expenditure on developing groups of specialised smallholders for the purpose of poultry farming on the ground that they would be producing so many more eggs than the market would absorb, and said that already the British egg producer was finding himself disadvantaged by dumped foreign eggs at a lower price. The fact is that this week the price the trade will give for good quality well graded best British eggs is 4d. per dozen more than they give for any other eggs. Does not that show that, if the British egg producer puts the right quality stuff on the market, he is not being driven out of the industry by dumped foreign eggs? As a matter of fact, our production of eggs during the past 12 months has greatly increased and the import of eggs has diminished. I have in my possession now details of a case where a very large undertaking was prepared to place a contract for national mark eggs of top grade, and they could not get the supplies available in sufficient quantities. There is no illustration more unfortunate for the Opposition case than the one chosen by the right hon. Gentleman.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that I do not want unnecessarily to restrict the discussion, but it is hardly proper to reply to a speech given in the House on Second Reading in Committee. We are not cognisant, as a Committee, of what has been said in the House.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am very sorry I allowed my enthusiasm for the subject to lead me a little beyond the bounds of order. I will promise not to do so again. With regard to the smallholdings expenditure, I intend, so far as one possibly can, to make sure that we can avoid the errors and extravagancies of the past. It is true that a large number of these undertakings are saddled with very high capital charges and, therefore, it has meant an increase of rent. We propose wherever it is economically sound, to group either the large-scale allotments or the smallholdings, if possible, nearer towns where the holders may live. Of course, that is only possible with regard to certain types of holdings, for instance market garden holdings. For chickens, poultry and livestock the holder must practically live on the place, or sufficiently near it. Still, up and down the country, especially in the smaller colliery villages, there are several instances where there is plenty of ground around and it will be very necessary to improve it and provide groups of holdings without having to provide new houses. It is on that point that some of the calculations for the five-acre holdings are so substantially below the cost of previous undertakings. For example, we estimate that, where a five-acre poultry holding is established within the reach of an existing home, the total cost will probably be about £310. A market garden holding of a similar kind will be about £500, and, these being established so far as possible, it will diminish the average cost of the holdings as a whole. I can assure the Committee that we pro-pose to do everything possible to take advantage of the lessons of the past. I think that any hon. Member of this House, casting his mind over the debate which is now closed, whether it relates to the experimental large-scale farms or whether to reconditioning or smallholdings and allotments, must feel that here is a form of capital expenditure which the State ought to have undertaken more bravely a long time ago, and that it is desirable that there should be energetic, sensible, and practical administration. If any hon. Member has any suggestion which will help us to improve and make more businesslike the administration, I shall welcome it gladly. While that is so, I am encouraged in this enterprise by the 346 words used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), which, I think, were deliberately chosen, when he said that in this enterprise of developing our own home land, we must, if necessary, be brutal in our methods. In other words, we have to go along with this enterprise bravely. When one hears an account, as I did this afternoon from an hon. Gentleman, of an experiment with which I am fully acquainted which is being financed separately for the growing of a certain plant in certain districts—I hope that it will be successful, and any help which we can give we shall gladly give to make it successful—when it conies to an enterprise of that sort, whether it is the growing of this particular plant in England or of rubber in the Malay States or anything else anywhere in the wide world, it is said to be business enterprise, but, if we try to do it at a, correspondingly small outlay by developing the land, I am held up as a sort of prodigal son, an extravagant fellow, who is trying to lead our country into all kinds of wild enterprises. I think that the justification for this Resolution is the debate which has taken place.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir HARRY HOPE
I rise to oppose the granting of the sums named in the Financial Resolution. I do not desire merely to raise controversial points, but to apply a few practical tests to the main provisions of this Bill for which money is now being asked. Part I of the Bill proposes that large-scale nationalised farming be adopted. Before we approve of money for that purpose, let us consider very carefully what we are going to gain by the establishment of those large-scale nationalised farms. The industry of farming, as everybody knows who has any practical association with it, is a very individualistic one. No industry is so dependent upon individualistic effort and judgment as the agricultural industry. Continual observation, untiring attention to details and an intelligent and accurate appreciation of difficulties are absolutely essential. There is nothing mechanical about the industry. It is, in fact, the last industry suitable for nationalisation. Therefore, why should this experiment of Socialism be tried upon an industry which is so unsuitable.
347 It is curious to see a party which is so enthusiastic about smallholdings, as Part II of the Bill indicates, pinning its faith at the same time to large-scale farming. It indicates evidently that the Ministry recognise that, as regards arable land farming success can be achieved by the large unit. As regards arable land farming, it is no doubt correct that advantages can be gained by operations being conducted on a large scale, but of course it all depends who are going to conduct those operations. The Bill proposes the appointment of Government managers. At present, we have large-scale farming in operation carried out by men of proved skill, experience and capacity. The men who have engaged in these large-scale farming operations are proved men who know their business from A to Z and know their craft by instinct. No man can make a full success of an industry unless he knows the industry.
Instead of men such as those coining in to manage these large-scale farms, we are going to have officialdom of all kinds and degrees brought into existence. There may be good men among these officials, but I would remind the Committee that there is truth in the saying that a good man does not need a master. These officials will have masters. In England, they will have masters at Whitehall; in Scotland, they will have masters in the Department of Agriculture sitting in Edinburgh. Everybody knows that, whatever the master is, his influence permeates through the ranks of those serving under him. It may be said by Members on the Front Bench opposite that we are going to have knowledgeable men appointed as commissioners to carry on this work, and yet it will be the masters at Whitehall who will always influence and dominate the work done by them.
Another fact which will arise out of the establishment of these large-scale nationalised farms is that we shall have disturbances created in the minds of the agricultural community. The farmers of this country will never be secure in their tenure. I have had a long association with agriculture, and I know that no man can make the most of his industry or his calling unless he knaves that he is going to be allowed to carry on. With large- 348 scale farms being liable to be started at any time and with land being taken for the purpose, you may have such a feeling of disturbance and insecurity created among the farmers of this country that they will be robbed of much of the best incentive for making a success of their craft. The taking up of land in connection with nationalised farms is going to break into the progressive sequence, which is of so much value, of having at the bottom of the ladder the smallholder, of enabling a man to keep in the industry and to get his foot on to the first rung of the ladder, and after that to obtain a small farm, and then to make further progression to the large farm. That sequence is going to be disturbed and destroyed, and I am afraid that it will have a bad effect, and that the dead hand of Government interference will seriously prejudice practical agriculture in this country.
When I come to Part II, of the Bill I, as do many hon. Members, recognise that smallholdings are good things to encourage. They enable the man to get his foot upon the first rung of the agricultural ladder. They are a social gain to the State but, while saying that, it is well that we should recognise that in regard to arable land cultivation, where the production of cereals and potatoes are the main products grown, smallholdings will produce their produce at a higher cost per unit than will the large farms. Some hon. Members may ask me to prove that statement. I will give one illustration. Take as an example 1,000 acres of land divided into three moderately sized farms of 333 acres each. In the other case consider that those 1,000 acres are divided up into 30 smallholdings of 33 acres each. In the first case where you have a farm of 333 acres you have the use of about 40 acres for a field. Where you have the smallholding of 33 acres you have the use of a field five acres in size. This is perhaps a technical point, but it is worthy of attention. There are what we call in Scotland end riggs, the ground on which the horses and the implements turn. With a 40 acre field the end riggs which are damaged by the turning of the horses and the implements will mean two acres in area, or 5 per cent. of the total field. As regards the five acre field, there will be three-quarters of an acre of these damaged end riggs, which come 349 to 15 per cent. of the five acres. The result is that there is a larger proportion of wastage in land which is cultivated in a five acre plot than on land cultivated in a 40 acre plot.
Some hon. Members may ask what that all comes to in £ s. d. It is always necessary in any business to understand accurately the cost of production and what the effect of any operation may be. Agriculture is sometimes said to be an industry which is not carried on on business lines. I have had a long connection with agriculture, and I think that in many cases it is carried on on business lines. Applying that test to the illustration which I have given, I find this, and it. is of importance, that if those two fields, one of 40 acres and the other of five acres, were under potatoes, with the proportion of damage round each which I have described, and if the crop yield per acre was eight tons, the reduction caused by the damaged area in the case of the two acres occupied by the end riggs would result in a loss of eight tons, because the crops on the end riggs are only half of the crop in the rest of the field. Therefore, if those potatoes were priced at 00s.a ton there would be a loss of 12 cwt. in the small field and 4 cwt. in the large field, working out at a cost of £1 4s. spread over the five acres in the small field and of only 8s. in the larger field. This s the practical loss simply because one field was small.
I pass from that aspect of the matter, and I see other influences which tend to make the cost of production higher in a smallholding than in a moderately sized farm of 330 acres. The first influence is that it takes a longer time to cultivate the small field than to cultivate the larger field. The extra cost will certainly be up to 10 per cent. It will cost 10 per cent. more to cultivate land in small plots of five acres than to cultivate land in larger plots of 40 acres. Another very important influence operating against the small-holder is that he has not and cannot have a full supply of modern, up-to-date implements.
§ Sir H. HOPE
My hon. Friend thinks that the smallholder can work with his hands. I am afraid that my hon. Friend has a very scanty knowledge of farming operations if he is not aware that the 350 great tendency of the last 20 years has been the development of labour-saving machines. There are new machines that have been brought out which it would be impossible for the smallholder to buy because the cost of them would absolutely submerge all the money that he has got. Therefore we find that whilst smallholdings have many points in their favour, principally the benefit to the social welfare of the State, there are important practical influences always operating against them. My remarks so far apply to smallholdings carrying on arable cultivation. The same things do not operate where they arc producing stock or going in for dairying. Therefore it is in those districts of the country most suitable for those types of farming that the smallholdings may be the best success. For the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that the creation of smallholdings is the panacea for the restitution of British agriculture, is to make a statement absolutely devoid of practical truth. By all means let us have smallholdings, but let us adopt them in moderation because most things generally are best adopted in moderation.
Sums of money are to be spent on what is called reconditioning and reclaiming land. When this House is considering spending money in that direction, it would be wise to recognise the facts of the case and pay a tribute to owners of land for the way in which they have spent their money in developing the land in the past. Enormous slims of money have been spent by landowners in developing their land for which they have got but a very small return. In fact, there is much land which at the present time is not yielding even 5 per cent. on the capital sunk, and in most cases nothing at all in the shape of revenue. When we talk about the State coming in to recondition land, we shall not be viewing the whole situation as it is or paying a tribute where it is due unless we recognise the good work which has been done by landowners in England and Scotland in past years. Landowners have also done an enormous amount of good for the development of British agriculture by spending money upon the improvement of the breeds of all our stocks. This has brought the present stock of the country up to a very high standard, which would never have been the case except for the encouragement given it by land- 351 owners. I mention this because it is often said by hon. Members opposite, I am sure they do not mean it, that landowners have neglected their duties and obligations in the past.
§ Sir H. HOPE
If the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) would only come and stay with me in Forfar-shire—I shall be glad to see him—
§ Sir H. HOPE
I will not discuss the Highlands just now. If the hon. Member will come with me, I can take him through Forfarshire and show him estates where money has been spent on improvements which have brought the landowners practically no return at all. Instead of this money being spent by the State, we should be doing better work if we were to give grants to landowners. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite seem to think that is a joke, but would it not be good financial business to give grants to landowners and make them responsible for the money? They can spend the money with knowledge and discretion, and the State would escape a capital loss and get interest at a low rate from the landowner.
I said at the commencement of my speech that I would not raise controversial points, but I would appeal to the Government to drop Part I of the Bill altogether and not bring into existence a system of nationalised farms which have never been a success wherever they have been tried. Rather let us turn our attention to the creation of smallholdings where they can wisely be made and give grants to landowners so that the good work of the past can be carried on. The money will be wisely spent, the State will not lose because the owners will still be responsible for it. It is possible for British agriculture to be revitalised. It is possible for this House to take a wise step at this time by enabling land to be used for finding more employment for our people, but in order to get more employment for our people it is absolutely necessary to make sure that the occupiers of land will be able to make a success of their holdings. Therefore, 352 the first step to be taken is to stop foreign dumping which is ruining the country—
I have allowed the hon. Member a great deal of latitude, but on this Money Resolution the argument must be confined to reasons for or against voting the money asked for.
§ Sir H. HOPE
I was just finishing. I thought that what I was saying was a necessary part of my argument, but I will carry it no further. I oppose the granting of this sum of money, because I feel that it is not a wise step to take at this time and that we should help this great and important industry of agriculture much more by treating it in a different fashion.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
Hon. Members will be interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope), but I did not quite understand why, after going to such trouble to prove that smallholdings would be unsuccessful, extravagant and wasteful, he urged that they should be tried in moderation. The real test as to the sincerity of the Government in bringing forward their proposals lies in the amount of money they are prepared to devote to the subject. That is the drive behind the scheme. Without money the scheme will be just a dead letter. I am glad that the Government are prepared to spend an adequate amount of money to bring back to the land the population of this country, where they may live a healthy life and, despite the spirit of defeatism which has been noticeable on the benches above the Gangway, bring back prosperity to the countryside. I feel sure that if we are prepared to devote a sufficient amount of money agriculture can be put on its feet without resorting to any of the many expedients which are popular with so many people to-day. I was brought up on what will be known as a smallholding, a farm of about 100 acres, in times more difficult than they are to-day. We were given a chance, 10 of us, on the holding and an opportunity of entering into life. For people to say that agriculture is suffering from a depression from which it cannot recover is to disregard the real facts of the case and to close your 353 eyes to the fact that there are many people who are still able to make certain forms of agriculture pay.
The hon. Member has said that if you break up the land you will have terrific losses because the cultivation of small fields is much more costly than the cultivation of larger fields. I assume that on smallholdings there will not be a great deal of cereals grown. If any hon. Member followed the more modern methods of intensive cultivation on smallholdings he would know that along the line of small fields success is to be found. Take the splitting up of so many pasture fields, which is now going on. You have big pasture fields, and you divide them into small fields of not more than five acres. You cultivate them, put on basic slag and kainite, and nitrate of soda in the spring, and you increase the productivity of the land four or five or six times. On small holdings you can increase the productivity to that extent. When people are farming on a large scale and raising sheep over large areas you could bring all the land into profitable cultivation and provide a living for far more people.
It is because the Bill appeals to me on that ground that I shall support the Money Resolution. It has been said that there arc people who know very little about the land, that they will fail, and that the money will be lost. Many people have lost money by farming be cause they do not understand a great deal about it. I remember a wealthy broker who bought a farm just after the War, lock, stock and barrel. While the house was being repaired to make it fit for habitation he left a bailiff in charge. The bailiff was to report to him once a week. All went well for a time, until one day the broker, in turning over the pages of his newspaper, saw, "Sharp rise in the price of wool." He telegraphed to the bailiff: "Start shearing at once." The bailiff wrote back that that was impossible, because he was in the middle of lambing. The broker wired in reply, "Stop lambing and start shearing." Of course, he was not a small-holder and not even an unemployed man.
There are in the villages to-day numbers of people who have waited for years and are still waiting for an opportunity to get on the land—people who are used to it and know all about it. I have been 354 doing my level best for three months to find a place for two people who are being dispossessed of a smallholding. In the same village there are others brought up on the land who are denied an opportunity of getting a living because land and houses are not available. Added to that there is a council which has never built a single house under the Rural Housing Act. I welcome this Bill because it will provide money that will give an opportunity to thousands who wish to return to the land. Members of the Conservative party must know the facts and must receive letters as I receive them. Only this morning I received two letters. To one was attached a reply sent by the county council. My correspondent had asked the council whether land was available for a smallholding, and the reply of the council was to advise him to apply to the nearest land agents. Of course, the man had exhausted all those resources beforehand.
Therefore, I am glad that money is to be provided not merely to be used by the Councils, but that if the Councils default the Ministry has power to spend the money, and to see that the purpose of the Bill is not defeated. I hope that no part of this money will be provided for redeeming tithe rent-charge fixed at the present price. In 1925 very heavy burdens were placed upon the land. by the Government of the day who fixed tithe at 105, and £4 10s. per £100 for redemption. That charge cannot issue out of the land. It is because of this burden that so many men in agriculture have difficulty in making a living. I have been associated with agriculture the whole of my life, and I think there are runny fields in which a smallholder can make a profitable living. To refer to smallholders as likely to lead the lives of slaves is ridiculous. The Bill will provide them with a happy, healthy and free way of life. I congratulate the Government on bringing forward a, Money Resolution of this magnitude, and I hope that the scheme will be so successful that it will be necessary to come to the House for more money to extend the Bill's operation.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to follow the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope), who took exception to Part I of the Bill, because he said it spelt Socialism. It is largely because of the 355 semblance of Socialism in the Bill that I support it. Part I and this Money Resolution are going to give us the power to buy the land from the landlord and to put people back on the land. Who is largely responsible for people not being on the land? The landlord. Who is it that cleared the Highlands of Scotland and made them deserted glens? The landlords. They drove my race out of the Highlands with fire and sword, and forced them to the uttermost parts of the earth. Now we are in this situation—that we have to go to the descendants of the men who did that and purchase the land from them. The land has always been the property of the State. That was no idle phrase during the War. Everyone of you said then that we had the right to defend our native land. Where is our native land? How much of it have we got when we want the use of it, to do what is absolutely necessary—as is admitted by every section in this House irrespective of political opinions—namely, to produce food for this country? When we want the use of it for that purpose we have to buy the land from the landlords and not only that, but we are only to be allowed to buy land which has been neglected. The landlord is to be warned that, unless he looks after the land, it will be acquired. The hon. Member for Forfar said that the manner in which the landlords of this country had transacted their business was a credit to the country. This Bill is a denial in tote of that statement. It makes provision to deal with facts andFacts are chiels that winna ding, An' downa be disputed.It has been said on both sides of the House that millions of acres of land have fallen out of cultivation in this country, since the War and have become waterlogged and so forth. No less a personage than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made that statement and now we are asked to spend money in buying such land. I hope that the Minister will be very careful, because the landlords are the greatest bloodsuckers that this country ever had. Before this party formed the Government of the country the present Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—I am sorry he is not in his place—said time 356 and time again and also wrote that the landlords of our country were a band of robbers and parasites. That being the case, it ought to be quite unnecessary for me to remind the Minister to be very careful when buying this land, because the landlord may say, "This piece of land is no good to me, so I am going to let it become derelict and you can have it." We could have a regular ramp, so to speak, in regard to the type of land which the Government would get and landlords of the type of the hon. Member for Forfar would retain the finest land in Scotland for themselves. The Minister must safeguard himself against that kind of thing.
The hon. Member for Forfar also said that agriculture a-as the last industry which could be mechanised, but he afterwards contradicted himself because he pointed out that he was not in favour of men using their hands in agriculture. Neither am I. We have got away from the days of "back to the land," and of the pick and shovel. We have got away from the cry of Rousseau and Voltaire. We belong to a race and a generation who believe that every mechanical appliance that can be applied should be applied to agriculture as well as to everything else. The hon. Member objected to the Government taking over these large farms as proposed in the Bill because, he said, agriculture was essentially an industry which lent itself to individual enterprise and you could not have it on a large scale. He said that it had failed everywhere it had been tried on that scale. I suppose he meant such experiments as that which we had when the Glasgow Corporation ran their own farm. He said that in all those cases it had not been a success. But we must have regard to the fact that the greatest farms in the world, where great production is taking place, are the great prairie farms in Canada. There we find reaping machines which not only cut the corn, but make it ready to be taken from the field to the elevator, eliminating human labour, comparatively speaking, as effectively as the most up-to-date machines used in the great shipbuilding and engineering industry in our country. We Socialists are all out for that. We are not in favour of finding work for men simply in order that they 357 may work. We, as a generation, have the benefit of science, machinery and organisation, and we are going to use that benefit to the fullest extent.
That brings me to Part II of the Bill which deals with smallholdings. I do not know much about smallholdings in England, but I do know something about them in the land of my nativity—Scotland. I have worked smallholdings or assisted at that work for years and I know what it is. It is no sinecure; it is a stern reality. I entered into it with enthusiasm in order to see if there was anything in it which would be beneficial to the men whom I represent, the men on the Clyde belonging to the shipbuilding and engineering industry, thousands of whom will never work again at their own trade, with rationalisation and. disarmament going on. But here in this Bill is a new arrangement. With all its good points, there is no rationalization for the agricultural industry. We are attempting here to put back the hands of the clock. We are going to put more men on the land, and it is entirely a reversal of the whole attitude of mind of the Government in everything they have done up to the present. We are going to spend money on seeing smallholdings established after a good deal of thought has been put into the question by my colleagues. I am satisfied that they are doing the very best they can here, but I want to tell the Minister of Agriculture that he will have to be very judicious with what he does with the money with which this Financial Resolution will provide him to get smallholdings.
The idea is to get work for the unemployed. That would be all very well, but you have to remember that this is a job that requires, not ordinary but outstanding skill, and you have to remember that the individual is no clodhopper who can drive a pair of horses in a furrow and can cut the furrow almost in a dead straight line. When you talk of getting back to the land, it is all very well for city men and town men and women to take a walk out into the country on a fine summer evening, or a Saturday afternoon, or on the Sabbath day, when the lark is singing in the sky and every flower in the garden is lovely, but it is a different matter when the stormy winds are blowing. You have to remember also 358 that in the country from which I come the climatic conditions are of a very severe character, and that we have five months in the year of very severe weather. If the Government have all that in their minds, they will be very careful in what they do.
I agree that there could be money wisely spent in market gardening and in producing vegetables, because we import into this country £12,000,000 worth of vegetables in the year. It is quite true that that could he done in and around our great cities and towns quite successfully, I believe. There is an item that is not mentioned, and I do not know how that is, because the Minister of Health is an authority on the subject himself. I refer to pig rearing. We import into this country £50,000,000 worth of bacon in the year, and that could be produced quite well here. Also money could be spent, out of all this money that you will get under this Resolution, in poultry rearing in and around our big industrial centres, but here again it cannot be done at the moment—I can speak with authority on that question—because the small poultry keeper to-day has to buy his grain retail and to sell his produce wholesale. I can see signs in this Bill of that tragedy being removed, but to take it on a great scale, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, with millions to be spent, hundreds of millions,. in order to find a way out for the unemployed, to take them away into the fastnesses of the Highlands and elsewhere, would be ruinous under those conditions.
You have not only to remember the climatic conditions; you have also to have regard to the fact, Mr. Minister of Agriculture, that you arc dealing now with a generation that has been far removed from your rural countryside and brought up under city conditions. Do you think it is going to be possible to take those men and women from the city and place them away in the country? How are they going to feel when they are denied all the privileges and all the joys of city life? Do you think that; we, who represent the working class in this House., are going to stand for our class being forced into the smallholding business, with the idea that they have at the moment that they will be their own boss? It is the greatest delusion that ever 359 existed in the history of this country, this of being their own boss. They wilt be under the most tyrannical boss, the most tyrannical, slave-driving boss in the history of the land, and that is land and stock, the curse of Adam. Are we going to stand for seeing our folks, though they may be unemployed, surrender all that has been handed down to us by our forefathers, who struggled in order that we might enjoy the rights that we have, such as our eight-hour day—
The hon. Member is now making a speech which might have been quite suitable for the Second Reading—
That was unfortunate. But the hon. Gentleman Must comply with the Rules of Debate as they apply to the Resolution before the Committee.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to say, as far as you will permit me, that we are arriving at a situation in which all the markets of the world are glutted with wheat and meat, of every kind of foodstuff, and of every kind of manufactured goods that man requires for a comfortable living. Yet we are going to put our folk on again still further to increase this great production. I want the Minister a Agriculture always to bear in mind that this Government should not be the means whereby the working-class of this country is used to enslave the entire working-class of the world. That is my warning while supporting the Minister of Agriculture in his endeavour to do what he can under very trying circumstances.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
I had hoped that the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) would conclude by saying that he would on this occasion follow hon. Members on this side against the Resolution about which he said a great many true and profound things. He made it clear to the Committee that he and others whom he represents have no use for smallholdings, and that people who have rather rosy and optimistic ideas about smallholdings will discover, if ever this Resolution be passed and the Bill become law, that the electors in Dumbarton are by no means alone in 360 the country in finding smallholdings more attractive from a distance than close to. This Resolution has been commended to the Committee for a number of reasons, very few of which take any account of the existing agricultural industry or deal with the facts as they are to-day.
The Minister of Agriculture, in commending the Resolution to the Committee, proceeded on assumptions which are entirely false. He talked, for instance, of ample money being available for planting rubber or cotton or coffee, and said that, with all this vast expenditure on crops of this kind, we can surely afford a few poor little millions for our agricultural industry at home. The Minister, new as he is to his office, can scarcely he unaware that the sums which have been invested in these crops are mere small change compared with what has been sunk in the land of England. For generations enormous sums have been poured into the land of this country, and a vast expenditure is necessary every year in order to keep the land fit for cultivation. The amount of money invested in the land of England is out of proportion altogether to what has ever been invested in all the crops which he mentioned. The right hon. Gentleman also said that agriculture is the only industry on which the application of capital on a large scale has not been possible. That is a mistaken view. Capital has been available in large quantities. Cooperative societies, for instance, are favourably situated for carrying on farming, and he must be aware that they have farmed on a large scale, and have lost very large sums of money. For that reason and for many others, I am profoundly convinced that this experiment of large-scale farming is likely to be a costly and complete failure.
There have been many opportunities of large-scale farming. The large landowning institutions of the country, such as the hospitals, city corporations, and endowed colleges and schools are quite as favourably situated as is the right hon. Gentleman's Department for conducting large-scale farming. They have not done so, because, having had some experience of the subject, and having been landowners over a long series of years, they know that there is no more certain way of dropping money than by embarking on large-scale farming. The 361 large landowners of the country, of whom some still remain, are better situated than Whitehall for carrying on experiments in large-scale farming, but, except in a few individual cases of very rich men who can afford a large loss, you will not find it being done, for the simple and very good reason that it does not and cannot pay. Throughout the country the economic size of individual farms varies. Some parts of England are more suitable for large farms than others, but there is a definite limit beyond which the size of a farm cannot be economically increased. It is a pity that this Committee should vote a large sum of money—and I take it more may be required later on—to find out what almost anyone, who has any practical experience In agriculture, knows perfectly well already.
There is one part of the Resolution with which, I believe, the overwhelming majority of Members on all sides will be in full sympathy; that is the part dealing with allotments. All of us wish to see allotment development extended, and will agree that a moderate expenditure on increasing allotments will be money well spent. It is necessary to warn the Committee, however, that there are great difficulties in the way of giving the allotment holders security of tenure. We all agree that that is desirable, but it is extremely difficult, and the right hon. Gentleman will find himself in great difficulties if he embarks upon that course. Important as allotments are, houses are more important. Allotments are usually on the outskirts of growing towns, and to leave the land as allotments instead of developing them as building land adds very largely to the cost of the development operations. You have unproductively to run roads, sewers, gas and water mains, and all the other elaborate business that town-planning requires, for considerable distances, and the cost of building is largely increased if you attempt to leave allotments where they are, and do not push them out with the building line. We shall find ourselves saddled with very large costs or we shall run the risk of increasing the cost of building unless it be recognised that, deserving as allotments are, they must give way to what is even more important, and that is housing.
As I have listened to these debates I have felt a certain amount of surprise 362 that Part II of the Bill, which deals with the provision of smallholdings, was introduced at all. As a means of dealing with unemployment there may be something to be said for Part II, though I confess that at short notice I can think of no way in which we could spend so much money on unemployment with so little result, but as a contribution to the really pressing difficulties of agriculture it is not only useless hut very much worse than useless. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister has made one big experiment with the nation's money, and it seems to me that he is doing now, only the opposite way round, very much what he did then. At that time there was an acute shortage of houses, labour in the building trade was scarce, and house building materials were scarce and dear, and the right hon. Gentleman, with the nation's money bags behind him, came on to a rising market, made the cost of building fantastically high to himself and prohibitive to everyone else.
The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lord is now embarking on a controversial subject quite outside the terms of this Resolution.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
I apologise. I had finished what I had to say on that point. The trouble in agriculture now is that we have a falling market, and the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to make the same mistake the other way round and is corning in on a falling market, and proposing to subsidise cheap production, than which nothing could be more disastrous to agriculture at the present time. These new smallholdings are to be subsidised to the extent of something like 220 an acre, and those farmers who are fortunate enough still to be able to pay income tax are to help to pay that subsidy. While the money lasts—and I personally believe it will not last very long, because only in exceptional cases will the smallholdings meet with any large measure of success—the right hon. Gentleman's new smallholders will be in a position, with this subsidy at their backs, to undersell those farmers who are already struggling to make both ends meet. I believe no greater injury could be done to those already in agriculture than to pass this Resolution. It is a 363 cruel affront to farmers who are struggling with terrible difficulties to come in on a falling market and to subsidise cheap production to compete with them. It cannot fail to do them very serious damage, unless something is done meanwhile, through improved marketing or other means, to ensure that agricultural produce, of which there is a glut at the present time, can be sold on better terms.
I should like to reply to the hon. Member who sits below me on the Liberal benches and who asked a question of an hon. Member who was speaking from these benches. My hon. Friend had been saying that on the whole he thought smallholdings would not pay and went on to say, at the same time, that he wanted them supported in moderation. The hon. Member asked him why. I think the answer is a very simple one. It is that there are only certain cases in which smallholdings can be made to succeed. Given a market, given the right kind of soil, the right climate and the right kind of smallholder, there is undoubtedly a great deal to be done; hut in many parts of England not much can be done. For instance, the smallholdings in Derbyshire were a tragic picture this year. We had a disastrous hay harvest. In the very nature of things a smallholding cannot carry the agricultural plant and machinery necessary to get in the hay quickly, and the smallholders' hay was, with very few exceptions, spoiled.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
The hon. Member is quite wrong. There was a short period during which the hay harvest went ahead and in which we got some hay in extremely good condition; hut in the usual way the smallholder has to wait to borrow machinery from a neighbouring farm which is large enough to carry a full up-to-date equipment, and when the weather breaks it is inevitable that the smallholder should hear the brunt of the blow. That was the case this year, and it must often be the case, and for that reason I think it is more than doubtful whether, in most of the grazing districts, smallholdings can he made a success. But that is not to say they will never be made a success or 364 that no money should ever be spent upon their development. [Interruption.] Did the hon. Member say anything?
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
I was merely saying that if you could only control the weather and make sunshine, then the Tory party would be very enthusiastic about smallholdings.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
I think the hon. Member has put the matter very nicely. If we could be quite sure that, smallholders would suffer none of the misfortunes to which they are more prone than other farmers, there might be a great deal more to be said for them; but, things being as they are, I believe that the large expenditure of money contemplated in this Resolution will have but very small results as a solution of the unemployment problem. If, on the other hand, it produces a, large effect, if any very substantial number of men should settle on the land, that must have a really disastrous effect on those farmers who are now trying to make both ends meet and will drive more of them out of business. There are now very few farmers who are not up to the neck in debt at the bank, and anything which makes things harder for them must drive a very large number out of business altogether. For this reason I believe the Committee will be wasting money in passing this Resolution, and in voting against it I feel that I shall he doing a very sound thing.
§ Dr. MARION PHILLIPS
I do not propose to go into the question of the agricultural conditions on smallholdings, for the simple reason that my knowledge of them is superficial and would not he of the slightest value to the Committee, but I want to point out that the money to be spent will bring in returns which, though they will never appear in the statistics of the Board of Agriculture, are extremely important to the country as a whole. If you are well-to-do you can get fresh food. The poorer you are, the dearer your food is, and the worse is its quality. A great part of the produce consumed by people in the towns—eggs, butter, milk and vegetables—is poor in quality and very often stale. In our view, the provision of a much greater number of smallholdings, devoting themselves to the production of eggs and vegetables and small kinds of produce, is 365 of enormous advantage I to the working-classes in the towns. It is of enormous importance that we should give some chance to the people in trades such as shipbuilding and mining, and some of the other very depressed industries, of finding a new outlet for their energies. I do hope that, in spending this money, the Minister of Agriculture will not only look for his smallholders among those who have had actual agricultural experience, but that he will also consider whether he cannot give the first allotments to unemployed men who have not had just that experience, with a view to their taking smallholdings as they show themselves able to deal with the larger units.
Very few among them, perhaps, will be able to tackle smallholdings straight off, but we must remember that a great many people, in our depressed industries arc very highly skilled, and it is, after all, good brains that you want to apply to the land, just as much as mere manual force. In the debate we had yesterday that was made abundantly clear. The reason why the Jewish colonies in Palestine have been able to do so much to enrich the country and make their smallholdings, intensively cultivated, a success is that they have had the brains and energies to apply to their task. We have to-day among our unemployed people a very large number with a very high quality of brain power who have done very highly-skilled work in the engineering, shipbuilding and other professions, and who are now waiting to use their energies in a new way.
I wanted especially to have an opportunity of telling this House of a letter which I received two days before the Bill was introduced, which shows the way in which a very large number of people are looking upon it to-day. I had a letter from a woman whose husband is a riveter, a Welshman living in Newport. They lived there for some time, and he worked in the shipyards towards the end of the War. When employment stopped, he came away looking for work, first in Sunderland and then in London, but in the last 10 years he has hardly had more than a few months at his own trade. They have had to go back to Newport, and are living there now with an outlook which is quite hopeless as far as his own trade is concerned. She writes in her letter: 366Just think what it means to us. He is a man of 40, full of energy and ability and now quite hopeless about the future.They have a son of 12 years, and that man and woman are looking at the boy, wondering what they can possibly do to ensure his future. She wrote in her letter:I hope every Member of the House will understand what this Bill would mean to people like ourselves.They tried to go to Canada and become smallholders there, but could not afford the necessary capital which was required. Now they are hoping that in their own country they are going to have a chance of using their energy and capacity on this new work. I do hope the Minister of Agriculture is not going to insist in any rigid way on the people who come under the term of smallholders, or those who have allotments, being people who have had actual agricultural experience.
There is one other aspect upon which I should like to say a word. This money will be spent to help unemployed persons and I hope, including among those persons, women as well as men, the Minister will not only include, wives of men to whom smallholdings are allotted, for there are often 'Tomen, not wives, but single women, who are admirably suited to the work, especially poultry culture, on smallholdings or allotments. In the cotton district smallholdings might be worked by sisters who have previously been in the cotton industry. Some people say it is no use for weavers, hut I was recently in Lancashire and among the people I saw there many who a re looking forward to this chance of finding an outlet for their work.
The fear has been expressed that the money will be very extravagantly spent because the unemployed man or woman will settle down on an allotment with the dole, and be content to regard himself or herself as fixed there for life. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have a good deal of knowledge of people who have settled down with an allotment and a dole. The great difference between those whom they know most and those for whom we are pleading now is that the allotments were very large indeed, and that they themselves did not ever have to work them. After all, they had, in the very fullest sense of the words, an allotment and a dole, and, when hon. Members opposite speak of the expense 367 of the land and the vast sums of money that have been put into the land, they surely realise that even vaster sums have been taken out of the land than have been put into it. When they speak of the money that it has cost to keep the land, surely they realise that the landlords of the country have taken from the land vastly more than they have ever put into it. The fact does not need argument for it is perfectly obvious.
§ Dr. PHILLIPS
For centuries people have been living on the land and have been very rich out of the products of that land. Of course, they have made far more than they have put into it. How would they have got the money except from the land? If they have put it in it is because they took it out. However we consider the question of finance, I do hope we shall realise that this Bill has brought hope to hundreds of thousands of people and that it is a definite constructive effort to make good use of our own land in this country. We have heard for years about dealing with the unemployed by sending them abroad to other lands, and at last we are going to try to colonise our own land and to use our talents here.
There is just one other aspect that we ought always to remember in regard to a Bill of this kind. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) said some very wise things about the hard work on smallholdings, but I think you can rationalise even smallholdings, and, if they are properly run, on a co-operative basis, with all the equipment that science can bring to hear, I think, perhaps, we can make the settlement of Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen, their wives and families, in their own country as happy, as prosperous, and as pleasant for them as the smallholdings are in Denmark and some other countries abroad. There is no reason why our people should live lonely and isolated lives in smallholdings and allotments, for they can live close to one another and enjoy the benefits of those social contacts which are part of the pleasure of living in a town.
§ Lieut.-Colonel WINDSOR-CLIVE
I am not going to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Sunderland (Dr. Phillips) in 368 her remarks about the owners of land. Hon. Members opposite seem to start with the idea that nobody is entitled to own any land. We do not agree with that. It seems to me a very remarkable thing that in paragraph after paragraph in the Financial Memorandum it is stated that it is impossible to find out what the liability of the State will be in regard to this Bill. Surely it is very unwise to proceed with a Measure of the financial effect of which we know so very little. It appears from the Financial Memorandum in the Bill that the Agricultural Land Corporation may spend £1,000,000 in establishing large-scale farms. It has been abundantly shown that large-scale farms in this country are quite unnecessary, and will serve no useful purpose whatever. The inevitable result of this policy will be to reduce employment on the land. I should like to ask a question with regard to Sub-section (3) of Clause 3, which provides that if a piece of land is in a seriously neglected condition, the Minister may order the owner to undertake the necessary works of maintenance. Very often, the owner of the land is the farmer. There are inefficient farmers just as there are inefficient people in other walks of life, but I believe that in most cases where land has got into a bad condition, it is because the farmer is financially unable to keep it in proper condition.
I would like to ask if a farmer in that position will be able to put that forward as a sufficient defence under Sub-section (3). With regard to smallholdings, obviously the amount of money to be spent under this Measure must depend On the number of applicants, but it does not follow that the greater the number of applicants, the greater will be the success of this Measure, because it remains to be seen whether the people who will be put on the land will make good. Many people who have worked all their lives as farmers have been unable to make farming pay, and I think it is a very unwise thing to put on the land people without any previous knowledge of agriculture. Surely it is unwise to introduce a Measure of this sort until steps have been taken to bridge the gap between what the producer receives for his produce and what it costs him to produce it. We are told that the Government intend to bring 369 forward other Measures for doing this, but the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) told us that this Measure was the Minister's only chance, and that it will be a very long time before another Agricultural Bill is introduced. The only clear and definite statement in the Financial Memorandum is that the cost of the additional Government officials required "will clearly be large." Probably that consideration makes this Bill doubly acceptable to hon. Members opposite, but that in no way diminishes my opposition to the Bill.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
I rise to support the Money Resolution now under discussion. I speak as one who has been connected with the soil all his life. I have been chairman of the Lancashire Smallholders' Association for 11 years and I will try to give some reasons to show why we shall get value for the money which is proposed to be spent under this Bill. I would like to show how we shall get value for our money in setting up demonstration farms. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have told us that we have sufficient demonstration farms, but I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that most of our demonstration farms are of a scientific nature and that the farms proposed to be set up under this Measure will be more of a practical character. We know that the motto of the Royal Agricultural Society is "Practice and Science" and science is put last. I know of many farmers who have made a success of the cultivation of the soil who could neither read nor write, and who had no knowledge whatever of scientific agriculture or mathematics and yet they have made a big success of farming.
I agree that it is important that we should get the practical side of agriculture well established and give those engaged in the agricultural industry a chance of getting practical knowledge. By setting up demonstration farms we shall get good value for the money which it is proposed to expend upon them. We should get value for our money if we had on the demonstration farms all the latest agricultural machinery and the newest appliances to be placed at the disposal of the smallholders and cultivators in the neighbourhood so that they might be shown how to work them, and they might 370 be hired out at a small cost. Advice should be given to the smallholders as to the most suitable crops to be produced in certain areas, and that applies more particularly to fruit and potato crops. The allotment holders and smallholders ought to be advised as to what variety of trees or vegetables they should plant.
With regard to the reclamation of land and the reconditioning of land, I think that if the Government acquire the land at its present value and recondition it, they will affect a great saving for the nation. After the Land Drainage Act has been operated, there will be large tracts of land which will require reclaiming and reconditioning. It is quite true that we have large areas of valuable land in this country which is flooded and waterlogged, and after the operation of the Land Drainage Act that land will require attention, and it will pay well. The land taken over at its present value will increase in value, and its reclamation and reconditioning will find work for a lot of men. In that way we shall be able to save a good deal of money by taking the men off the unemployment dole. That policy will bring business to builders, tradesmen and others.
I think that the Bill will give power to the Minister to acquire estates when they come into the market. If those powers had been in operation years ago many estates could have been acquired, and this would have obviated many of the best tenants on those estates being dispossessed. Shortly after the War many large estates were put on to the market and sold, and many cultivators, farmers and agricultural workers were dispossessed and thrown out of employment. If at that Lime the Minister had been empowered to acquire those estates and turn them into smallholdings, all those workers might have been kept on the land, and that policy would have been of very great value to the nation. In that Clause we shall get good value for the money it is proposed to spend.
With regard to demonstrations of smallholdings and cottage holdings, I could tell the Committee of holdings in Lancashire under grass culture, market gardening, poultry,' and every style of smallholding. Some of the tenants are people who went into industry after having been some time on the land, and have now come back to the land, and in Lancashire they are making a great success of it. It 371 is futile to say that such people will not snake a success of it, because we have it on record there that they are doing so. If some of these up-to-date holdings could be turned into demonstration holdings for the time being, and people taken there to have lessons, I am sure it would be to the benefit of the community. I do not say that we ought to ask these people to give the benefit of their advice free, because it is not right to take up their intelligence and time, of which they could be making use.
As I have mentioned before in the House, the Lancashire County Council in 1912, under the Act of 1908, made four of these smallholdings of two and a-half acres each. One of the tenants was a man who had no capital, but he has now made enough money to retire upon. That again shows what can be done,. and we should have been able to do much better if we had had the advantage of such provisions as this Bill contains, in order to provide men like that with a little capital with which to buy tools, seeds and so on. It is surprising what can be done in such cases by growing what is required for the market and growing it at the right time. That man's bill for Dutch bulbs alone last year was over £300. He is on the telephone, has a lorry to take his goods to market, and his motto is, "Do not waste a minute of the man who has not got one to spare." That proves that this work, as has been said, means energy, but that energy is not hard work when you love the land and love your work. The hard work is taken out of it when you love the business in which you are working.
Although we have been very successful in this way in Lancashire, we had a setback in 1926, when we established 38 holdings under the new Act. 'Under Section 12 of that Act, these cottage holdings had to be bought by agricultural workers. We had a lot of applications from agricultural workers who, having left the land and gone into industry, wished to come back on to the land, but we could not, under that Section, let cottage holdings to these men. The present Measure proposes to do away with that disability, so that it will be possible to let cottage holdings to any suitable applicants. That will enable us to save money and to get suitable men back to the land to produce foodstuffs for the nation.
372 As to allotments, I am a strong supporter of the allotment system, but insecurity has killed the spirit of many allotment holders in this country. I know of some who have been moved four times from their allotments, and I trust that the Minister will see that security is given to them under this new Bill. I do not see why allotments should not be fixed under a town planning system, and so situated that there will be no danger of having to remove the tenants for some time to come. No industry or business can be a success if there is not security in it, but with security of tenure work can be found far people on these allotments. I would suggest that there should be a model shed on each, and that nothing unsightly should be allowed to be erected on them. As long as money is provided for equipment, the Minister would have some say as to the style of shed to be erected.
A good deal has been said about the amount of money that is to be spent under this Bill, but 1 would draw the attention of the Committee to the £23,000,000 that has been spent in mining. How much of that did we get back for the community? [Interruption] I am sorry if I am getting out of order. In spending this money for the purchase of land, we shall have the rent as income, and the expenditure is not as large as it appears to be at first sight. On many estates, also, the value of the land will be increased. On one estate which the Lancashire County Council bought for land settlement, we paid £50 an acre, and there happened to be an old beerhouse on the estate. We kept it—
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young)
I am afraid that we cannot go into the reasons why a beerhouse was kept or not kept.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
I was only going to show how, when estates are thus acquired, the value of the land is increased. On that estate, some of it is worth 5s. a yard for building purposes, and we made £5,000 after selling the old beerhouse.
The annual value of the poultry industry in this country, including eggs and table fowls, is £24,000,000. We talk about the growing of wheat and barley 373 and oats, but the poultry industry is equal in value to all the cereals put together, wheat, oats and barley, and is equal to all the potatoes, fruit and vegetable crops. Therefore, if we can raise more poultry on the Land, the money will be well spent and we shall be getting good value for it. One large arable farmer, who was farming on the ordinary four-course rotation, gave it up arid took a six-acre smallholding, on which he established a poultry farm on scientific lines. While he was losing money on his arable farm, he is very comfortably situated and making money out of his poultry farm, and is a happier and more contented man.
To show that, if we agree to this Money Resolution and get the Bill passed, we shall save money nationally, I may mention that last year we imported vegetables to the value of £1,500,000, not reckoning potatoes, and we imported £4,400,000 worth of tomatoes, which we could grow in this country, finding work, not only for the men actually engaged in growing them, but for others in building glasshouses, supplying fertilisers, and so on. We also imported canned vegetables and tomatoes to the value of £1,230,000. All of these we could grow at home, thereby saving money and keeping it at home, and finding work for our people instead of paying it to the foreigner. In the canning industry, 50 factories have been established during recent years. Next year, we may not have black currants at all. It is not every year that we get a, good crop. They could have been preserved and canned for next year instead of being allowed to go to rot. Many districts grow two crops in one year by intensive cultivation. In my district, they grow early potatoes, and then savoys, brussels sprouts, and cauliflowers. Last year, the second crop made more than the early potatoes, You get intensive cultivation by the smallholding system. The value of green peas last year was £24 10s. an acre, brussels sprouts £41; cabbages £59, and cauliflowers £93. Potatoes did not make as much. There is a demand for smallholdings.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Dr. Phillips) has quoted a letter Since the Bill was introduced last Thursday I, as chairman of the committee, 374 have been inundated with letters asking when the Bill is going to be passed and when they are going to be settled on the land. A land agent was here to-day, and he told me that his post bag had increased and that his office was never free from people calling to see him and ask when they were going to get smallholdings. I got a letter from an ex-service man, 36 years of age, with three little children. He was brought up on the land, and he does not know what to do to get land to establish a poultry farm. So there is a demand, and there are the right type of people. All the money that we spend will be well spent, and we shall get real value from it if we re-establish the countryside and re-establish and maintain a rural population, which is the most, valuable asset that any country possesses.
§ Captain CAZALET
The hon. Member has made one or two very interesting statements which show that he ought to be sitting on this side of the House. He told us that without security there could be no success. I hope he will remember that when the Bill dealing with site valuation conies before the House. He also gave some very good arguments why we ought to grow various foodstuffs to employ our people and not import them from abroad. When those arguments are used in regard to manufactured articles—
§ Captain CAZALET
I was not going to pursue it. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Dr. Phillips) gave interesting statistics about the amount of money that landlords and farmers have taken out of the land. They will be interested to hear that at least for 10 years they have got far more out of the land than they have ever put into it. If she wishes for confirmation of that, she ought to go to the Income Tax collectors and see what statistics they could produce as to the profits that landlords have made in the last few years.
§ Dr. PHILLIPS
I said nothing about 10 years. I was referring to the landlords who had had land for a great deal longer than 10 years. They had their allotments and they stayed on them.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Captain CAZALET
I do not think that this is the time to go into the profits made between 1880 and 1900. If the hon. Lady wishes to go further back, it is more a matter of history than of agriculture. The Minister introduced the Bill with so much moderation and tact that it seemed at first very hard to oppose it.
§ Captain CAZALET
I was going to say that he took the same attitude in introducing the Resolution. He would have us to believe that this £6,000,000 is really nothing at all and that the result's that are going to flow from the productive expenditure of these millions are going to revolutionise the countryside. He assured us that there was going to be no extravagance. He assured us that the demonstration farms were going to be run on an economic and commercial basis and that only the right people were to be appointed. I should like to say one or two words in regard to big farms and demonstration farms. There are already in many districts either individuals or institutions or colleges which have, in every department of agriculture, experimented for many years past in big farming operations. All the statistics and all the results of those experiments are available to-day. I have in my constituency, which is a neighbouring one to that of the Minister himself, an example of a large farm run by the Wholesale Co-operative Society. Their farming of some thousands of acres for many years, having a market at their door for their produce, resulted a few months ago in such losses that the whole farm had to be put up to auction, to the great disturbance of the local population.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
If it was put up to auction after great losses had been incurred, was any price obtained for the land?
§ Captain CAZALET
I understand that, when it was first put up, it did not reach the reserve. We cannot pursue it at the moment, but I can give the hon. Member all the details afterwards.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has not taken my point. If land is losing money, it should have no price at all. I should be glad to know where land is being given away.
§ Captain CAZALET
On another occasion, I shall be glad to deal with that point. In regard to demonstration farms, in answer to a question that I addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, he informed me that there were in England alone some 41 demonstration farms of one kind or another throughout the length and breadth of the countryside. I do not believe it is necessary at present largely to increase that number. I believe there is no farmer who desires to get good practical scientific information, either from the representative of the county council or directly from the Board of Agriculture, who cannot get it and, if it is necessary in certain parts of the country to introduce a demonstration farm for the benefit of the surrounding farmers, it is a very bold prophecy on the part of the Minister that he can make it a commercially paying proposition.
May I make one general observation? We have heard remarks during the debate as to the efficiency of the farmer. When prices were good, in the War time or just afterwards, we heard no mention of the inefficiency of the farmer. To-day we hear—and it may be true—that farmers find it difficult to combine and cooperate and perhaps, like other industries, they must reduce their overhead expenses. But, when we hear hon. Members speaking about the cotton, steel and coal industries, do not they bring against them exactly the same facts and arguments that they bring to-day against the farming community? If the farmers had anything like the degree of protection which the coal industry has to-day, that is, a minimum price, they would be among the most prosperous industries of the country.
I will pass to the question of smallholdings which is dealt with in Part II of the Bill. If you are going to offer something free, in addition to providing some money, it is not unlikely that you will have a large number of people coming 377 forward desiring to avail themselves of the offer. That is the situation to-day. There are at least four questions upon which you have to be certain before you embark upon a large-scale spending of public money on smallholdings. First of all, where are you to get this land? It has been admitted that it must be good land. There is not much good land, land which is easily developed, easily cultivated and likely to bring in a good profit that is not already held by people who are to-day making the best use of it. Secondly, who are to get this land? We have heard one hon. Member say that it does not matter whether the applicants have any experience and that it is brains which count. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Rosbotham) said that education did not matter, and that so long as you have strong arms you can make your allotments pay. The statistics which the Minister produced as to the results of smallholdings in the past were more encouraging and satisfactory than I anticipated. Here is the point: Is the Minister going to give the first choice to the agricultural labourers?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is a question which should be raised on the Committee stage of the Bill, and not on this Resolution.
§ Captain CAZALET
I will go on to the next point. I wonder whether hon. Members who talk glibly about prosperous and successful smallholders in this country really understand what a very capricious and hard taskmaster agriculture really is. Are our people prepared to endure or to enjoy, whichever you like, the same conditions of life as the small peasant proprietors in Europe? I do not believe that many of them are prepared to do so, and that is one of the reasons why I have grave doubts as to the advisability of launching into a scheme of capital expenditure on smallholdings. Lastly, and this seems to many of us on this side of the House really to be the most vital point, are you going, by one means or another, to guarantee to your smallholder a market and a price for the commodity which he is producing?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Again I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member. We are now dealing with ques- 378 tions of finance, and not with questions relating to prices of commodities.
§ Captain CAZALET
With great respect, I bow to your Ruling, but I am only answering points which have been made by other speakers this evening. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk gave us a long list of prices of commodities, and I am introducing this particular point only to rebut what be has said. In my own constituency there are smallholders who hitherto have been enjoying if not a really profitable career, a reasonably successful career in producing milk. With what are they faced to-day Last year they were selling milk at is. ld. and to-day they are lucky if they can sell it, in many cases, for 5d.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman gave figures to prove that the expenses indicated in the Money Resolution were worth while, and am I to understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is giving his figures against that view?
§ Captain CAZALET
Yes, Sir, I am giving them to show how much uncertainty there is in this matter. Other Hon. Members freely quoted figures, and I was desirous of quoting other figures. These are actual figures concerning the operations of smallholders in my district. I am quoting them in support of the opinion on these benches that it is a dangerous thing to put inexperienced people on to smallholdings.
§ Captain CAZALET
Mr. Young asked me a question, and I was merely answering it. In my county of Kent, where there arc smallholdings, blackcurrants this year were selling at only a penny, while damsons were left on the trees. You may encourage as many smallholders as you like to settle on the land, and you may give land free and endow them in the manner indicated in this Money Resolution, and even increase the £50 to 100 a year, but I am certain, unless you give them a definite market and a security for their produce, that within a certain period of time, unless they are really experienced and exceptional people, they will probably meet with financial failure, and will not bless you for having put them on the land.
379 I apologise for having been out of order on various occasions. We on these benches feel that if the results which have been prophesied by hon. Members opposite as a result of granting this money come true, we shall be the first to rejoice, but I regard the expenditure of much of this money as unnecessary. Some of the expenditure is an entire waste of money and a pure extravagance which will bring no return. The contribution towards allotments will, I think, receive general consent from all parts of the Committee, but the contribution of an unlimied amount to smallholdings may be admirable in sentiment, though I believe it to be absolutely useless in practice, unless you give a guarantee and a security which we know that this Government will not give.
§ Mr. PERRY
In considering this Money Resolution, I should like to join issue with one or two hon. Members opposite in regard to the principle which this Resolution will be encouraging. First of all, in regard to large-scale demonstration farms, there is a strong body of opinion in this country which has declared that it is not possible for agriculturists of this country to compete successfully with Canada, the Argentine and the other wheat-producing countries as long as the conditions in this country remain associated with the development of the small unit farm. When we hear quoted in this House figures to the effect that only 5 per cent. of our agricultural products relate to wheat, it is only fair to consider that the Money Resolution which we are now discussing in Committee is an effort to provide for the agricultural industry of this country some means whereby the percentage of wheat production can be increased to a much higher proportion. I am advised by those in the industry who know best that if our agricultural industry is to be brought back to a period of prosperity, it can be' done only by wheat-producing as the foundation of the agricultural industry. We are told that the development of large-scale demonstration farms, the development of the smallholding arrangements, and the cultivation of more allotment societies can help in that direction.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) 380 and also the right hon. Member the ex-Minister of Agriculture, referred to our own experience in co-operative farming. My hon. Friend the Member for West Salford (Mr. Haycock) put a very pertinent question to my hon. and gallant Friend. He suggested that when our farms were put up for auction, if the outlook had been so depressing those farms would not have found a purchaser. Experience has proved that there are usually, even in these days, plenty of applicants for farms when they are put up for auction
§ Captain GUNSTON
Will the hon. Member explain why the co-operative people sold their farms, if they could not make a profit on them?
§ Mr. PERRY
I shall be delighted to show the hon. and gallant Member for Thornbury (Captain Gunston) the figures, later, but I am asked to finish my remarks in 10 minutes, in order to keep to the usual arrangement. Our experience has been such that we believe that large-scale demonstration farms will be just as useful and just as productive in encouraging the agricultural industry in this country as any experiments. It must be a revelation to many hon. Members on this side of the House that, for the first time in my experience, at any rate, hon. Members opposite are objecting to money being granted in support of agricultural interests in this country. That is a new experience for us. The methods of farming in this country, the traditions of our farmers, the climatic conditions, the intensive system of cultivation have to be reconsidered and remoulded if we are to compete with other countries where farming is carried on on a large scale.
I welcome this Bill and the Money Resolution which accompanies it as a great step forward in that direction. There is not one hon. Member who has had experience of farming institutes in our counties but will pay a willing tribute to the value of the work done by those institutes, and to the real practical help that they have given to the farmers in the counties. Under this Resolution the encouragement of large-scale demonstration farms will help considerably in that. respect.
381 One of the most pertinent criticisms against the Money Resolution has been that we are going to increase the army of officials. I would appeal to hon. Members opposite to try to be logical and reasonable. You cannot for ever be commending the Civil Service, you cannot for ever he paying tribute to their efficiency and to the good work they do, and then on a Resolution of this kind put forward the argument against it that it means an increase of those very efficient officials. Another part of the Bill which the Money Resolution makes possible is an increase of allotments and smallholdings. There is not a county in this country where there are not numbers of ex-service men who were brought up on the land and have had practical experience of the land who would not welcome the opportunity of being given smallholdings under this Bill. I hope the Committee will give support to the Money Resolution, believing that this Bill is the first step in an agricultural policy which will help in bringing back prosperity to agriculture, and thereby help to make this land of ours a better land than it is to-day.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
Of all the speeches that have been delivered on this Resolution and on the Second Reading of the Bill, perhaps the most eloquent passage was in the speech delivered by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), when he made an impassioned appeal for unity in support of the Bill, and the carrying of it through with determination and ruthlessness. He followed up that appeal by another, equally impassioned, namely, that in order to make sure that the Bill should be carried through as decisively and quickly as possible, the Committee Stage should he taken on the Floor of the House. The Committee has seen the answer that was given to that appeal. It does not encourage us, to respond to the right hon. Gentleman's appeal when we consider the way in which his second appeal was received by a Government to which he had just promised his unqualified support, and to which he showed his faithfulness by following them into the Lobby in order to vote down a proposal—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is dealing with a matter which 382 arises on the Bill and not on this Money Resolution.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I was going to refer to that appeal in a way which would be in order under your Ruling with regard to the money that is to be voted under this Financial Resolution. There are many headings in the Financial Resolution and a large number of objects in the Bill for which money is sought under this Resolution. The difficulty which many of us have in giving a united support to the Bill is that, while there may be one point or another for which we should be glad to vote money there are others which we think useless and, indeed, positively harmful and wasteful. There is one point on which I think the concensus of opinion among all parties in the Committee is that the object is a good one which we should all be glad to support and, indeed, glad to see a Measure passed which would facilitate its progress; and that is the question of allotments. That is a matter on which there is I think an unanimous opinion on all sides of the Committee. I have had some experience in regard to miners' allotments and I know how they have helped those miners who have been unemployed to keep mind and body fit during the period of unemployment and have made it possible for them to take on work when opportunity offered.
As there has been an appeal for unity, I throw out this suggestion. If there is one point in the Bill on which Members on all sides of the Committee set store why mix it up with others in regard to which there is a difference of opinion? If the Government are anxious to secure unity I suggest that they should separate the one provision in the Bill on which there is a concensus of opinion and let the rest of the Bill he subject to the criticisms which a contentions Measure usually invokes. When we leave the question of allotments we part company for the rest of the Bill. We do not believe that large farms are a good thing from the agricultural point of view; certainly they are a bad thing from the unemployment point of view. The course of the debate in regard to smallholdings has been most interesting.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland asked for a general criticism of the Measure. Let me deal with the general question. The speech made by the right 383 hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was exceedingly interesting. He was in a very happy position. He had no longer to exercise his dexterity in dancing the dialectic tight rope in order to say that he should support a Measure with which he did not agree—
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I think my remarks are directly associated with the Money Resolution. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs at once proceeded to give whole-hearted support to the Bill and to the need for money under the Financial Resolution. It was the very way in which it was advocated the desirability of granting the money that caused us to be suspicious as to I never heard a scheme described in a way which was so extraordinarily unconvincing. Let me give an idea of what the right hon. Gentleman said. In effect he said: "What matters it how much it costs Suppose that it were to cost £100,000,000 or £200,000,000, why should we not spend it, seeing that we spent thousands of millions during the War?" Is not the very fact that so much money had been previously spent and was now a burden upon the country and upon industry, the more reason and not the least reason why we should be careful at the moment? The right hon. Gentleman said again, in effect, "Why cannot we afford to take 2 per cent. or less than 2 per cent. on the national investment in smallholdings, seeing that landlords look for only 2 per cent, or less for the money that they spend on repairs and improvements of cottages and buildings?" The two things are not comparable at all.
I have spent sums of money, as a landlord, on repairs to cottages and farm buildings. I do not look at the precise interest I get from the money. That expenditure is always looked upon as necessary expenditure on a farming estate, in order that the whole estate can be kept going as a paying concern. It has absolutely no bearing on the question of the financial rectitude of this proposal or the righteousness of spending money on it. Only people who have had experience of smallholdings can realise what are the 384 difficulties regarding finance. I do not know whether you, Mr. Chairman, would allow me, on this Resolution, to recall a statement of the right hon. Gentleman that in his opinion the first necessity is the pursuit of true economy by the State. That statement appeared in the right hon. Gentleman's most recent pamphlet. The use of the word "true" in that connotation always makes me extremely suspicious. It always means economy in some sense other than that which the ordinary business man understands.
Practical experience in this matter has shown that where smallholders have been successful there has always been some more or less special aptitude or suitability. It may have been that a particular district is extraordinarily suitable for smallholdings, or it may be the nature of the ground, or else that the smallholder has been countrybred and knows his business, and that he is working on the land with his wife and his grown-up family. Such a man can make a holding pay. In a few special cases you may get a man transferred direct from the towns who is able to make a holding pay. But those cases are comparatively few and far between. An hon. Member spoke about a tram conductor who wanted to be a smallholder. That is only one of a large number of such cases, and it is perfectly natural that a person employed in a town, who is dissatisfied with his employment, should wish to become his own master. But give such men six months on smallholdings and a very large number would wish to be back again in the town under their old conditions. That is the reason why the history of this small holdings business has shown such chequered results. Unless we want to tempt people into holdings for which they are really unfitted we have to go very carefully in this matter and we cannot risk development at an enormous pace. I ask the Committee to consider whether the expenditure now proposed is justified either from the point of view of agriculture or from that of unemployment. I ask the Committee to look at the problem in its true proportions. Tike first, the question of whether, if this money is going to be spent at all, it is worth spending it in this way.
We have thousands of agricultural labourers out of employment at present. 385 Unemployment is growing in the arable districts to an extent not known before. Some of these men may be eligible for smallholdings. If so, they will be among those who are likely to succeed. But as far as expenditure is concerned it would be infinitely more economic and effective to use the money to stop the flow from the arable districts, instead of allowing arable farms to be put into grass to go out of business altogether or having the staffs employed upon them reduced, which is creating unemployment. The Government by this scheme of smallholdings are trying to empty out the great stagnant pool of unemployment with a teacup, and, all the time, fresh unemployed are falling into it by the bucketful from the arable farms on which, at the present day, agriculture is in the worst position it has been in for generations. That is the position as regards unemployment. To say that the creation of smallholdings will he a real step towards solving unemployment or that the expenditure is justified from that point of view would in my belief be ludicrous, if it were not that the unemployment position is such a tragedy that nothing connected with it can he described as ludicrous.
What is the position from the agricultural point of view? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and the Minister ask the Committee to vote this money on the ground that it means the restoration of the countryside. There is nothing to show that within any reasonable time there can be any restoration of the countryside as a result of the application of this money to smallholdings. In our belief, it is a misconception of the way in which the countryside needs restoring. What is more, if the money is misused in this way, it will not be available for restoring the countryside in other ways.
I would ask the Committee, instead of unduly focussing its opinion on smallholdings, to turn for a second to consider what is the state of the countryside at this moment. We have had two of the most disastrous seasons in agriculture that have ever been experienced. The losses are not due to bad farming; they are greatest where the farming is best. In all the great arable districts, the great stretch from the North-East of Scotland right down the East Coast to Lincoln- 386 shire, the losses are greatest—just where the farming is best. It is not due in the least to bad or inefficient farming. [An HON. MEMBER: "Low wages."] It is greatest in the districts where the wages are highest, as in Scotland.
The crux of the whole situation—and here I think the Minister of Agriculture was very misleading—lies, in our opinion, in the grain question. But the Minister himself compared the value for these purposes of wheat at £10,000,000 a. year with the value of the importation of eggs. That is very misleading indeed. You cannot consider wheat alone when you are really thinking of the restoration of the countryside. Wheat and the other grain crops go together, and not only so, hut the grain crops must be considered together with turnips and potatoes, which are one with them and linked together in the ordinary systems of rotation. Not only that, but arable farming is the kind of farming that holds up the shield to all the other kinds of farming, to the sheep farming in the Highlands and to the dairy districts in the West of England. They know very well that 7f arable farming is not prosperous, sheep farming will not do so well. The dairying districts know also that the supply of milk at present is fully adequate and that the moment you get one acre of grain stopped, it means that two or three acres go down to grass, often indifferent grass. They increase the milk supply, which is already adequate, until it is more than is required, and that will destroy the prosperity of the milk industry.
Therefore, I submit that if money has to be spent, that is the situation towards which it should be devoted. What we ought to make up our minds on is this: Are we really going to see that the arable districts are continued at all, or are we really going finally to let them go to destruction? I am not going to transgress the rules of order by discussing a guaranteed price for wheat, but the point is really, How are the Government going to attack the main part of this problem? I would remind them, before I sit down, when they introduced this Bill, which deals with smallholdings, and left the whole central field of agriculture without giving it any thought or providing any money whatever, what their own engagements are, and whether they 387 are justified in asking money for this purpose.
We all know the now celebrated and classic phrase, "Farming must be made to pay." That was not the only engagement that was made. The Prime Minister himself before the last General Election stated that they already had a programme thought out and ready to apply in regard to agriculture, but of that we have had no hint for 18 months past. Not only so, but we were told by the Prime Minister that if he was returned to office, he would at once summon all the parties connected with agriculture to explain his programme to them. None of this has happened. The fact is that the money to be spent on smallholdings is money misused, and, on the other hand, the fact that the Government have done nothing to redeem their pledges with regard to agriculture as a whole makes us feel that we are not going to support the use of money for this purpose when it ought to have been used towards making farming pay and towards upholding the arable industry of the country. In view of the pledges that they have previously given, I regard this Bill as not only an injury, but an insult to the farming community of the country.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
The right hon. Gentleman who has wound up the debate for the Opposition has done his best, but never since I entered this House have I ever seen the heart knocked out of an Opposition as it has been on this occasion. There has been no hon. Member on the other aide of the Committee who has risen to criticise and curse this Bill but who has admitted that there are some good parts in it. Scarcely two hon. Members have agreed as to what were the good parts. Although we are debating the Money Resolution, the right hon. Gentleman Who spoke last spent the major portion of his speech, not in criticising the expenditure asked for in this Resolution, but in criticising something that is not in the Bill, and could not possibly be in the. Bill, and which has already been announced as the subject of another Bill which is to form part of the Government's policy. I cannot discuss marketing; I cannot under the terms of this Resolution discuss the question of a guaranteed price or whether farming 388 can be made to pay. And the right hon. Gentleman knows it. He knows that this Bill is designed purely to secure the better utilisation of land, and the Money Resolution is to provide the necessary funds for that purpose. That is all there is in the Bill, and the sole purpose for which we are asking the money.
The right hon. Gentleman said, however, that he would deal with smallholdings, and I agree that they are an essential part of the land programme of the Government. He said that, generally speaking, any successes in smallholdings in the past were due to some special aptitude on the part of the smallholder. Where can he get evidence for that statement? The figures at our disposal and at the disposal of his right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State for Scotland, show that not more than 5 per cent, of the smallholdings placed on the land by the State since 1919, including shell-shocked soldiers and wounded men, and including what I may call without disrespect "misfits" of every description, have proved failures.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I will come to that point in a moment; I can only deal with one point at a time. I am dealing with the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman when he said that, generally speaking, if a man succeeded as a smallholder, there was some special aptitude on his part or a favourable district, perhaps near a market town. I put it that on the evidence at the disposal of the Department, the experience since 1019 has demonstrated exactly the contrary. The other day I visited a smallholdings scheme just outside Dumfries, and spoke there to smallholders who are paying Income Tax. I have never heard of any business in this country in which there has been such a small proportion of failures during the last 10 years as in the smallholdings promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture in England and the Secretary of State in Scotland. There have been 5 per cent. failures and 95 per cent. successes.
An hon. Member asked "At what cost"? The Nairne Committee, set up by the Secretary of State for Scotland, tells us at what cost. The Chairman of that Committee, who was formerly a 389 Controller of the Bank of England, says the cost of smallholdings in Scotland may be put down at an average of £360 per holder; and 1 presume the Scottish price will be a little higher than the English. But from that £360 there must be deducted the cost of rehousing the holder. Every municipality is building houses for the workers in other industries, and we never dream of debiting to these other industries the cost to the State of building those houses. It is only when we come to agriculture, when we have to build a house for a smallholder, that the charge is placed against the industry; yet I would point out that if a house were not built for him on his holding we should have to build a house for him in some city or village. My submission is that the cost is not £360 but somewhere in the neighbourhood of £250 per holder. Against that, what expenditure on smallholdings and large holdings has the right hon. Gentleman and his friends been prepared to justify? In 1922 they passed an Act of Parliament called the Empire Settlement Act, and it was considered good business, if you please, to vote £3,000,000 of public money to settle unemployed men from this country in the Dominions overseas. That money was voted to settle unemployed men in Western Australia—after a, course of training—at a cost of £1,500 per settler; and to settle them also in Canada or in some other part of the globe. [An Hon. MEMBER: "Quite right too!"] It may be quite right that the State should have voted that money. I am merely making the point that if it is right and proper to vote £3,000,000 for colonising the far places of the Empire it is surely right to vote £1,000,000 to colonise our own country.
Further, have those right hon. Gentlemen who profess to be such straight-laced guardians of the public purse figured out the cost of maintaining an unemployed man, his wife and family in this country? The capital cost would come out at somewhere about 21,500; and that would be to maintain him in idleness. When we come forward with a proposal to do on a somewhat larger scale what has already been proven to be successful by the Nairne Committee and by our own Department—proven to be a financial and economic and a social success—right hon. Gentlemen hold up 390 their hands in horror and say "Imagine the cost." Well, we have imagined the cost. We have seen the cost, economically, in the physical wreckage, and in the social misery, and this Government puts before the House and the country proposals which, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has said, are at any rate an effort, a brave and courageous effort, to settle a larger proportion of our people on the soil, to train them, and to maintain them during training.
In other directions of our policy, which I may not discuss now, we propose to do our best to ensure that they will get a market for their produce. The late Secretary of State for Scotland, whose criticism of the Bill was very hesitant and exceedingly mild in temper, committed himself to the statement that at any rate he was in favour of smallholdings and was prepared to develop the policy of smallholdings, whatever his right hon. Friend beside him might think. That is his profession to-day, and I gladly acknowledge that he, with the experience that he had and the knowledge that his Department gave him, was willing to extend and develop smallholdings. But what did the Government of which he was a member permit him to do? In the year 1924, the year of the Labour Government, 322 new smallholders were settled on the land in Scotland, but the next year under his regime the number fell to 144. It seems to me that the progress of smallholdings in that direction was nothing very much to boast about.
There is little fresh to answer in the discussion that has taken place this afternoon. It is true we arc seeking to spend public money for small holdings. It is true, as the Financial Memorandum says, that we may only expect a return of 2 per cent. or at most 2½ per cent. on our money. Against that policy we have the loss to-day in human wreckage, in the derelict land, in the adverse trade balance, and in the absence of a plentiful supply of fresh produce—a loss in every direction. It is between those two divergent policies that the House must decide to-night. We ask for a bold policy in the recolonisation of our country; the Opposition refuses to permit us to spend money upon it.
§ Sir PATRICK FORD
The whole crux of the situation is: Can these policies be made to pay under a policy of Free Trade?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 280; Noes, 205.
|Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||White, H. G.|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Thurtle, Ernest||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Tillett, Ben||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Tinker, John Joseph||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Toole, Joseph||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Tout, W. J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Snell, Harry||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Turner, B.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Vaughan, D. J.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Sorensen, R.||Viant, S. P.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Stamford, Thomas W.||Walkden, A. G.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Louohb'gh)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Walker, J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wallace, H. W.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Watkins, F. C.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Strauss, G. R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Sullivan, J.||Wellock, Wilfred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sulton, J. E.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Taylor, R. A. (Lincoin)||West, F. R.||Charles Edwards.|
|Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Albery, Irving James||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Meller, R. J.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent. Dover)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Mond, Hon. Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Faile, Sir Bertram G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Balniel, Lord||Ferguson, Sir John||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Fielden, E. B.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Berry, Sir George||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Betterton, sir Henry B.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gault, Lieut. Col. Andrew Hamilton||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Boyce, H, L.||Gower, Sir Robert||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bracken, B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brown, Brig., Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Butler, R. A.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Remer, John R.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hanbury, C.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cautley, sir Henry S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Salmon, Major J.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Horns, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Christie, J. A.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Colman, N. C. D||Iveagh, Countess of||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Knox Sir Alfred||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsay, Gainsbro)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Dalrymple-White. Lt.-Col. Sir Godfre.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Stuart, Hon. J. (M'oray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Sueter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (l. of W.)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Margesson, Captain H D.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Todd, Capt. A. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Train, J.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Worthington Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wayland, Sir William A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Turton, Robert Hugh||Walls, Sydney R.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert||Winterton Rt. Hon. Earl||Sir George Penny.|
|Wardlaw-Milne, J S.||Womersley, W. J.|
§ Resolution to be reported upon Thursday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.