HC Deb 10 February 1931 vol 248 cc255-99

I beg to move, in page 19, line 6, at the end, to insert the words: and eleven-eightieths of such sums shall be paid into a separate account for operations in large-scale farming conducted by the Agricultural Land Corporation in Scotland. When a similar Amendment to this was moved in Committee we were unsuccessful, but I am emboldened to submit it to the House on this occasion by the fact that the Amendment to set up a sub-Committee for Scotland was rejected in Committee but was accepted when it was moved on the Report stage. As we have got a separate sub-Committee I think there is a case for the separate financial treatment asked for in this Amendment. The proposals brought forward by the Minister of Agriculture and by the Secretary of State for Scotland are admittedly of a nebulous and tentative character. The nebulousness of them is such that we have not been able to get from the Minister what, he means by large-scale farms. He has said it would be un-reasonable to press him on that point now, since large-scale farming is anything that may happen to come into his head. If that is so, let us be sure, at least, that the proposals which are to be brought forward, and for which we shall have to pay, in Scotland, are such as we shall be able to derive benefit from, that something shall be demonstrated which will be of use. Large-scale farming on the light lands of England will not commend itself for imitation in Scotland.

There is, however, a danger, and the Under-Secretary of State has brought it out, that not very much will be done under this heading in Scotland. If that be so, then we shall be paying for experiments which are of no use to us. Our point has been met by the Government in other parts of the Bill. In Clauses 2 and 3 they adopt the proposal for eleven-eightieths. Hon. Members will see that on page 19 of the Bill-paragraph (a) says that the sum to be dealt with by the Agricultural Land Corporation is not to exceed £1,000,000. Paragraph (b) says that the sums required by the Minister for the purchase of land under Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill shall not exceed £5,000,000, and goes on to say that the £5,000,000 shall be divided in the ratio of giving Scotland £700,000, which is the eleven-eightieths basis. There is no such provision, however, in the case of large-scale farming. We say this is anomalous. No case has been made out by the Minister to explain why in one part of the Bill the money is to be devoted to Scotland in the ratio of eleven-eightieths and in the other part of the Bill not.

If anything, we ought to be more anxious to make sure that we have eleven-eightieths of the £1,000,000, since the proposals there are much more tentative. The only argument brought forward by the Under-Secretary has been that this would run counter to our previous contention that Scotland should be left out of the proposals for large-scale farming. It does not in any way run counter to it. Our proposal has always been to leave Scotland out of that provision, but to give Scotland eleven-eightieths of the sum and let the money go to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, which is an existing body and can act in these matters. There is nothing contradictory in having voted in favour of Scotland being excluded from the operations of a corporation for large-scale farming for the United Kingdom and in moving that now that we have a sub-Committee for Scotland that sub-Committee should have control of eleven-eightieths of the funds which the corporation will handle.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I hope the Government will give it favourable consideration. The whole procedure in regard to large-scale farming in Scotland has been progressive. When the Bill was first brought in it was clear from the speeches made by those on the Government Front Bench representing Scotland that they did not intend to apply large-scale farming to Scotland. They thought that that omission would pass unnoticed, bit they made a mistake, because there are a certain number of Scotsmen on the Opposition side of the House, and even a certain number among the Liberal party, who always try to get the best they can for Scotland, and I feel sure that we shall have their support in this matter. First of all the Government were not going to do anything, and then we secured the appointment of a sub-committee; and I say that we are only following out the natural sequence of events in providing that sub-committee with funds with which to carry on its work. If the committee is not to have funds what will be the use of it? It will be in the hands entirely of the English director, and might as well not exist. The committee that the main corporation sets up may be entirely corn-posed of Englishmen, who know nothing at all about Scotland. It is a well-known fact that those who hold the purse strings are able to call the tune, and we are asking for nothing more than is reasonable for Scotland in asking for the eleven-eightieths to be set apart in a separate fund for large-scale farming in Scotland.


I rise to reinforce the arguments put forward by my two hon. Friends who have preceded me. What they want is only title corollary of what they have already got. When it was argued the other day that Scotland was entitled to its own sub-committee the Government wisely acceded to the request, and now that the sub-committee is to be set up it follows that it must have something to do, and, accordingly, must have the funds with which to do it. When any sum is given to England in the ordinary course eleven-eightieths of the amount is given to Scotland, under the old Goschen rule, and all we ask of the Government is that they should continue the practice of the past, and, having established a committee, give it the appropriate apportionment of the Imperial funds. It is perfectly true that at no stage have we ardently desired large-scale farming in Scotland. We have had experimental farming there for some time, and the same necessity for large-scale farming does not obtain there as it does south of the border; but we do desire that this sub-committee should have funds, so that they may consider where advances can be made in our agricultural methods, whether in sheep-farming on a large scale or cattle-raising on a large scale, for there are many experiments yet to be tried. Accordingly, we as Scottish Members strongly press this Amendment, and ask the Government to reconsider the whole position.


As the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) very correctly said, this point was discussed upstairs in Committee and was negatived there without a Division.


I agree that that was so, but we had come to an arrangement with the Government, and in fulfilment of that arrangement we were doing our utmost to facilitate business.

5.0 p.m.


I do not say that hon. Members ran away from this Amendment, but there were, doubtless, very cogent and reasonable considerations which influenced them in choosing other and more important issues upon which to divide the Committee upstairs. When there was only a limited time at their disposal they chose matters of greater moment and importance and decided that this was not one of them. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is perfectly well aware that this is one part of the Bill which the Government, the House of Commons, and the Committee upstairs decided that it would be inappropriate, and indeed difficult, to run in separate nationalist compartments. We separated our small-holdings and allotments work, we separated our demonstration farms, and we separated reconditioning, but it was found to be a matter of great difficulty to set up two large-scale farming corporations and to allocate £1,000,000 in the proportions in which money is usually divided between Scotland and England. It was considered to be much more desirable that, if there was to be a large-scale experiment in mechanised farming, the United Kingdom Corporation should be set up with powers to borrow as laid down in the Bill, to deal with matters really on a large scale and not in any parochial sense whatsoever. If the experiment were a success—poultry farming, or sheep farming or cereal farming or whatever it might be—obviously all the agriculturists in the country would get the benefit of it.

If, for example, the corporation should decide that more of the money could be usefully spent in Scotland, we do not want the corporation to be debarred from doing so; but, if this Amendment were carried, the corporation could only spend up to eleven-eightieths of this money in Scotland. It is unreasonable that the corporation, which is admittedly an experiment, should have its hands tied and be cribbed, cabined and confined in its initial stage. If subsequently it should be found that the operations of this corporation could be and should be extended both in Scotland and England, then it might be a right and proper thing to say that Scotland should get an appropriate share of the money allocated; but in the initial stages of this great experiment, surely it is highly desirable that the corporation should not be unnecessarily cramped in its efforts to make the experiment a success. If the work is to be done with any chance of success, I submit that the directors of the corporation should be left as free as possible to chose the subjects and areas on which they are most likely to achieve success. It was for those reasons that the Government decided that it was preferable in the initial stages that the corporation should have a United Kingdom basis.


I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland recognises that the United Kingdom basis for legislation is sometimes desirable in reference to Scotland. He and I differ in that we think different things should be dealt with separately. This is a thing that I do not think should be dealt with on a United Kingdom basis at all, because, as I understand it, it relates to experiments in large-scale farming. I speak as one who is more or less familiar with farming on a large scale, and fairly successful farming in the Lothians of Scotland. In that dis- trict farming is on quite a big enough scale, but, on the other hand, there are other districts, the crofting districts for example, for which large-scale farming would not be suited at all, and it would be a mistake to experiment where the conditions made it impossible, or to experiment with districts where farming is already going on on a large scale and has worked successfully for generations, and to break up that system. We would prefer to have eleven-eightieths of the money for experimenting in other ways for the benefit of agriculture in Scotland, and for those reasons I emphatically oppose the United Kingdom basis for this system of experiment in Scotland.


The main point which was made by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was that in the early stages of this experiment we should not know how much we should have to spend in Scotland. I do not agree with that view. I should have thought that from the outset, instead of there being any quarrel as to what proportion should be allocated to England and Scotland, it should know at the outset what they are to have. I cannot imagine anything less likely to make for good administration than that every year, when the question of expenditure came up, the main energy of the corporation and their sub-committee should be spent in a dog-fight as to who was to get the bone or what proportion of the bone. It seems to me that if there is to be a well-thought-out policy of experiment, you must know the financial basis on which the policy is going to proceed. I do not at all appreciate the point that if later the experiment is found to be a success you could change the proportion. The point would be that if the experiment were a success you would increase the total amount, but that would not be a change of proportion. If we are to adopt the view, which I do with some hesitation, that Scotland would benefit, and that there is room in Scotland for this large-scale experiment, it seems to me to be vital that the people there should have a definite and not an indefinite sum at their disposal.

When I and other hon. Members pointed out that there might be difficulties in making full use of large-scale experiments in Scotland, I was assured by the Secretary of State for Scotland —and I am not sure that I was not also told by the Under-Secretary also—that the whole of the area between the Pentlands and Ayrshire was crying out for money to be expended in this way. We are told in one breath that it is doubtful whether money would be needed in Scotland at all, and now we are given an argument which even the most ingenuous Member from North of the Tweed cannot be expected to swallow, that, if we are to get eleven-eightieths, we shall not get any more. There is a phrase which is very often used by the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), "A little bit of sugar for the bird." This seems to me to be an admirable example of the use of that kind of diet.


There are subjects on which we get more than eleven-eightieths now.


I am very glad to hear it, but these are only acquired by very deep Parliamentary subterfuges, and I am very unwilling to introduce into this new matter so tortuous a method. I do not want to make a debating point, but I press strongly that it should be realised in Scotland and here that, if there is any substance in the Government view that experiments in large-scale farming should be made, and that these are urgently necessary in Scotland, they should be made upon an adequate basis, and that the finance should be settled so that the sub-committee could go on with its work of seeing how best to expend a fixed and known financial amount, and not be merely a catspaw of the English corporation.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

It is not often that I am in favour of any proposals made by the Government—the Bill to my mind is a very bad Bill—but on this particular point I do agree with the Government. I very much object to what I regard as the narrow nationalism of Scotland, always trying to grab, grab, grab. I fail to see why, if Scotland is to get eleven-eightieths of this expenditure, I should not get another eleven-eightieths for Devonshire. If the money is to be wasted, why should it be wasted in Scotland? I protest against the constant attempts of Scottish Members to try to "pinch" money from us, and I hope the Government will stand firm.


I want to say that in Scotland there is absolutely no desire for money to be spent upon large-scale national farming. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte) has said that we in Scotland want to get as much money here as we can possibly obtain. Whether we have done that or not in the past I do not know, but certainly on this occasion we have no desire to grab money for this purpose. Large-scale national farming is anathema to the whole of the agricultural community of the country, and therefore we have no desire to get

any more than what is the ordinary Scottish share. If this money could be spent on research work, we would be quite ready to take all we could get. But to spend it on the futile, absurd, and unpractical proposal of carrying on governmental farms is an absolute waste of public money at a time when there is no public money to spare, and we Scots do not desire to take any hand in that work.

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

The House divided; Ayes, 202; Noes, 241.

Division No. 139.] AYES. [5.16 p.m.
Albery, Irving James Duckworth, G. A. V. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Dudgeon, Major C. R. Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Aske, Sir Robert Eden, Captain Anthony Marjoribanks, Edward
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Edmondson, Major A. J. Meller, R. J.
Atholl, Duchess of Elliot, Major Walter E. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Atkinson, C. Elmley, Viscount Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. England, Colonel A. Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Everard, W. Lindsay Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Balniel, Lord Falle, Sir Bertram G. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Beaumont. M. W. Ferguson, Sir John Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Fermoy, Lord Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Betterton, Sir Henry B Fielden, E. B. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Fison, F. G. Clavering Muirhead, A. J.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Foot, Isaac Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Bird, Ernest Roy Ford, Sir P. J. Nicholson, Col.Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)
Bllndell, James Galbraith. J. F. W. Nleid, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) O'Neill, Sir H.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Glassey, A. E. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Boyce, Leslie Glyn, Major R. G. C. Peake, Captain Osbert
Bracken, B. Gower, Sir Robert Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Grace, John Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Brass, Captain Sir William Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Briscoe, Richard George Granville, E. Power, Sir John Cecil
Blown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Purbrick, R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gray, Milner Ramsay. T. B. Wilson
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Griffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Ramsbotham, H.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Gritten, W. G. Howard Rawson, Sir Cooper
Buchan, Jonn Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Gunston, Captain D. W. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Butler, R. A. Hamilton, Sir George (llford) Robert's. Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hammersley, S. S. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Campbell, E. T. Hanbury, C. Ross, Major Ronald D.
Carver, Major W. H. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Haslam, Henry C. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cayzer, Maj, Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, s) Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A Hore-Belisha, Leslie Savery, S. S.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Scott, James
Chapman, Sir S. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Christie, J. A. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Shepperson. Sir Ernest Whittome
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hurd, Percy A. Skelton, A. N.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Calman, N. C. D. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Smith. R.W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Colvllie, Major D. J. Iveagh, Countess of Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cranborne, Viscount Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Smithers, Waldron
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Somerset, Thomas
Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro) Kindersley, Major G. M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Somervllie, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Cunllffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (W. Molton) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Dalkeith, Earl of Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Dalrympie-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrev Long, Major Hon. Eric Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lymington, Viscount Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) McConnell, Sir Joseph Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Dawson, Sir Philip Macdonald. Capt. P. D. (I. of W) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Thomson, Sir F. Warrender, sir Victor Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Tinne, J. A. Wayland, Sir William A. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wells, Sydney R.
Todd, Capt. A. J. White, H. G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Train, J. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.) Sir George Penny and Captain
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Euan Wallace.
Turton, Robert Hugh Womersley, W. J.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Morley, Ralph
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hardie, George D. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Aitchlson, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mort, D. L.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Haycock, A. W. Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Alpass, J. H. Hayday, Arthur Muff, G.
Angell, Sir Norman Hayes, John Henry Muggeridge, H. T.
Arnott, John Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Murnin, Hugh
Attlee, Clement Richard Henderson, Arthur, junr, (Cardiff, S.) Naylor, T. E.
Ayles, Walter Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Herriotts, J. Noel Baker, P. J.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Barnes, Alfred John Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Oldfield, J. R.
Barr, James Hoffman, P. C. Palln, John Henry
Batey, Joseph Hollins, A. Paling, Wllfrid
Bellamy, Albert Hopkin, Daniel Palmer, E. T.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Horrabin, J. F. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Benson, G. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Perry, S. F.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Isaacs, George Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Jenkins, Sir William Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Broad, Francis Alfred John, William (Rhondda, West) Pole, Major D. G.
Bromfield, William Johnston, Thomas Potts, John S.
Bromley, J. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Price, M. P.
Brooke, W. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Pybus, Percy John
Brothers, M. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Qulbell, D. J. K.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Raynes, W. R.
Buchanan, G. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Richards, R.
Burgess, F. G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cameron, A. G. Kinley, J. Rlley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cape, Thomas Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Knight, Holford Romeril, H. G.
Charleton. H. C. Lang, Gordon Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Chater, Daniel Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rowson, Guy
Cluse, W. S. Lathan, G Salter, Dr. Alfred
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Law, Albert (Bolton) Sanders, W. S.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Law, A. (Rossendale) Sawyer, G. F.
Compton, Joseph Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Scrymgeour, E.
Cove. William G. Lawson, John James Scurr, John
Crisps, Sir Stafford Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sexton, Sir James
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Leach, W. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Daggar, George Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Dallas, George Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sherwood, G. H.
Dalton, Hugh Lees, J. Shield, George William
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Day, Harry Lloyd, C. Eill Shillaker, J. F.
Dukes, C. Logan, David Gilbert Shinwell, E.
Duncan, Charles Longbottom, A. W. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Ede, James Chuter Longden, F. Simmons, C. J.
Edmunds, J. E. Lunn, William Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Egan, W. H. McElwee, A. Smith, Ronnie (Penistone)
Forgan, Dr. Robert McEntee, V. L. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Freeman, Peter McKinlay, A. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) MacLaren, Andrew Snell, Harry
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Gibbins, Joseph McShane, John James Sorensen, R.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Stamford, Thomas W.
Gill, T. H. Mansfield, W. Stephen, Campbell
Gossling. A. G. Marcus, M. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Gould, F. Markham, S. F. Sullivan, J.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Marley, J. Sutton, J. E.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Marshall, Fred Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mathers, George Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maxton, James Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Groves, Thomas E. Melville, Sir James Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Grundy, Thomas W. Messer, Fred Thurtle, Ernest
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Middleton, G. Tinker, John Joseph
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Mills, J. E. Toole, Joseph
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Montague, Frederick Tout, W. J.
Townend, A. E. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Wellock, Wilfred Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Vaughan, David Welsh, James (Paisley) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Louohb'gh)
Viant, S. P. West, F. R. Wise, E. F.
Walkden, A. G. Westwood, Joseph Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Walker, J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Wallace, H. W. Wilkinson, Ellen C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Watkins, F. C. Williams, David (Swansea, East) Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. Ben Smith.
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)

I beg to move, in page 19, line 9, to leave out the word "sections," and to insert instead thereof the word "section."

The object of this Amendment, and of the consequential Amendments which follow, is to prevent the finance of the demonstration farms from being mixed up in one sum of £5,000,000 with the finance of the reclamation and reconditioning of land. It is a very odd thing in this Bill that, whereas the large-scale farms have a specific sum allotted to them, the smallholdings are provided for by their special financial section—though the sum is indefinite—and, similarly, there is a separate section for the allotments, nevertheless the general sum of £5,000,000 is allotted to the joint purposes of financing both the demonstration farms and the reclamation of land. We on this side of the House consider that it is an extremely bad Treasury practice, and an extremely bad and growing Parliamentary practice, not to provide a definite sum for each principal object of a Bill in the Bill itself, and we consider that each principal object of the Bill should have a separate financial section to itself. By these Amendments we enter a, protest against this attempt of the Treasury on this occasion to depart from the general rule which hitherto has guided them, and to lump these two quite dissimilar portions of the Bill under one financial sub-section.

Really, the financing of the demonstration farms—the scientific experiments that are to be conducted in addition to the large-scale farming, for the purpose of providing object-lessons and training centres for the farmers of the country—has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the reclamation and reconditioning of derelict or neglected land. We consider that the Government, by lumping these two portions of the Bill together under this one Sub-section, are setting a dangerous and a bad precedent. We want to see the proper system of drafting and of financing in regard to these matters once again reaffirmed by Parlia- ment. In proposing that the financial provision which is to be made for demonstration farms and for the reclamation and reconditioning of land respectively should be divided into two defined sums of money, we wish to take this, which will be our only opportunity, of protesting against the expenditure of £5,000,000 with no economic safeguards, either on more demonstration farms or on the reconditioning of derelict land. We are very doubtful whether under either heading it will be possible to get value for such a national expenditure, and we consider that the present time is singularly inopportune for such expenditure, when the money could be used in the interests of agriculture to much better purpose by assisting those crops, not on the worst land but on the better land, which, owing partly to the action, and still more to the inaction, of the present Government, are not economic.


The effect of the right hon. Gentleman's series of Amendments is not only what he has described, but a little more. It is to limit the expenditure on demonstration farms under Clause 2 to £500,000, and the remaining £100,000 is all that would then be left for the purposes of Clause 3, which includes land reclamation, drainage, etc., and land which may be acquired as being grossly neglected.


We need not quarrel about that. The principle is the important thing. If the right hon. Gentleman says he wants £500,000 for reconditioning, I think that was rather the intention—to divide it and have £500,000 for each purpose.


That restores something like a sense of proportion, but the effect of the series of Amendments is that £500,000 would be available for Clause 2 and £100,000 for Clause 3. If the right hon. Gentleman, on the whole, thinks that £500,000 is a reasonable figure for demonstration farms, I do not think I. should have much occasion to differ.

But we have deliberately put the finance of these two Clauses together, because it may easily happen, and I should think it certainly will happen, that in the course of development and administration they will to some extent overlap, and it is unnecessary to draw an artificial line between them. The right hon. Gentleman says the time is inopportune to propose spending money on reconditioning or reclamation, or dealing with land that is neglected. There I disagree with him entirely. I think this time of all others is when we should attend to improving our national heritage. It will take a series of years to use the money that is provided under the Bill, but it will improve the land and provide a considerable amount of very valuable employment. Anyhow, to reduce Clause 3 to £100,000—


I will not move that Amendment.


We will say no more about that, but, for the reasons I have given, it would be unwise artificially to divide the sum. It may be that the land that is reclaimed or restored may be taken over for demonstration farms. There is no necessity to separate them, and, in any case, an arbitrary limit is entirely contrary to the main purpose of the scheme.

Colonel ASHLEY

Two points of considerable interest have emerged from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In the first place, he admits that £500,000 is about as much as he thinks one could usefully spend on demonstration farms. That is, after all, a very great step in advance, because, at any rate, we know now, as taxpayers, the worst that is going to happen to the national finances under these unnecessary demonstration farms. We have to have them, I agree, because they are in the Bill, but in one sense, in my opinion, there is no need for them. Private enterprise has given us all the demonstration we want, and this £500,000 will be entirely wasted money. Anyhow, it is a blessing to know that it is not going to be more than £500,000. The right hon. Gentleman simply reiterated the statement that you can usefully put in one Clause both demonstration farms and reconditioning. He simply made the statement that you could and that it was convenient to do so.

He gave no reason at all why two such dissimilar things should be put into one Clause and why £5,000,000 should be lumped together for these two purposes. Demonstration may be good or bad, but it is an attempt, on the part either of the State or of the individual, by up-to-date methods and by taking considerable areas to show what can be done under modern conditions and with modern machinery, with large capital and generally by co-operative methods. That is one thing. But reconditioning is absolutely different. It means that the State considers that certain lands are not in a good state. They do not proceed to demonstrate how well they can, do it in the sense of making experiments. They proceed to put it back into a state in which it can be used in agriculture. I cannot see that there is any reason at all why these two objects should be put in the same Clause, and, frankly, I do not understand the reason for not accepting my right hon. Friend's idea.

We now know that the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to spend more than £500,000 on demonstration farms. He should have the £500,000 earmarked for demonstration farms and another sum for reconditioning. By a process of elimination we have now arrived at Mae fact that the Minister has in his mind that over a series of years the Treasury will be allowed to spend £4,500,000 on reconditioning land. On the face of it, it sounds quite reasonable. If the agriculturist can get a decent return for the stuff he grows, it is a most excellent proposal, because we do not want land to lie derelict which can be usefully cultivated, to grow food for the people and to increase the national wealth. But it seems to me that the money must be largely wasted. I am reinforced in that idea, because file right hon. Gentleman has refused an Amendment that no money shall be spent on reconditioning land unless it can be demonstrated that there will be a return for the money put into it. Here we have £1,500,000 to be spent in three or four years with no certainty that it will be well spent, because he says, "I will recondition land whether it is a good business proposition or not."

Dr. ADDISON indicated dissent.

Colonel ASHLEY

That is what it comes to. He is going to recondition land, and he refuses to say he visualises that the land will pay when it is reconditioned. He has refused an Amendment which says, "You shall only recondition if a dividend is to be paid on it." It seems to me a very sound business proposition that you should not recondition land unless you are going to get something out of it. Not only are we going to fritter away this £4,500,000, but, when the money is spent, the land need not, and probably will not, bring any addition to the wealth of the country, and the man who farms it will have no guarantee that what he grows will be sold at a decent price. I think my right hon. Friend's Amendment is a very reasonable one on two grounds. One, that the two dissimilar objects ought to be separated, and, secondly, that the £4,500,000 will be wasted in reconditioning land which will not pay when it is reconditioned.


Some of us have been sitting very quietly on these benches in order to help the Government and to prevent the wasting of time. I have never known so much cant and humbug talked on an Amendment. One can recall the sugar-beet business and the £20,000,000 that was going to one or two firms alone. There was no call then for great accuracy in the accounts. It was going into the pockets of the wealthy. Whenever it is anything where the common people are likely to get a little benefit, then you get right hon. Gentlemen opposite asking for accounts. "What did you do with that l½d.?" The £20,000,000 was not given with the idea of making things better for the masses. It provided a subsidy which was altogether outside the needs of the industry, as is proved by the fact that they could have given the sugar away free and still made a profit.

I want the House to realise that we are seeking to bring land which is lying useless into cultivation, or into proper use. Surely no money could be better spent at any time or anywhere than bringing what is of permanent value into function, because land functioning is the one permanent value that we have. Since 1918 we have spent something like £300,000,000 on unemployment benefit with nothing to show for it. Here is a proposal that means that for what we are going to spend we are going to have at least something. But, quite apart from the value of what may be left, there is that great understanding of trying to do something for the nation in the difficulties under which, like other nations, it is suffering at the moment. As far as the beet-sugar industry and its subsidy are concerned, it looks as if nothing is to be left but the debris.

Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)

I do not think the question of the beet-sugar subsidy arises here. This Amendment deals with the dividing of the accounts into two sections.


The right hon. Gentleman is asking for more meticulous accounts. I am using the illustration given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on the other side. If they think it is right that this should happen here, then why did they not fight for a similar provision in regard to the beet-sugar subsidy They did not do so, because the money was going to their friends. Now that we are trying to provide something from which the common people are going to get some benefit, there is a demand for scientific accountancy. I agree with the application of scientific principles, but here hon. Members opposite wish to do it in regard to one side and not in regard to the other. If the thing is good, it should be applied all round. Intelligent people always do that. The effort which is being made now is an earnest effort to try to get back that which is permanent in relation to helping unemployment. It is cheap almost at any price when it comes to providing a permanent opportunity for men and women to obtain benefit from the cultivation of the land. We know that hon. and right hon. Gentleman on the other side do not like it. They wish to have conditions as far as the land is concerned, that will enable them to dictate the serf conditions always associated with them.




I might be out of order if I traversed in that direction and gave details. Those who ask the question have only to look at the condition of the modern agricultural labourer. This is a paltry sum compared with the amount of the beet-sugar subsidy and it will be of immense value. I hope that the Minister will meet the Opposition by remaining rigid, and that he will not give way one jot or tittle. In regard to every question which becomes as practical as the present question, he is sure to have with him a majority of the intelligent men in the House.

Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE

The House has been treated to a little quarrel between the back benchers opposite and my right hon. and gallant Friend. I should like to ask the House to consider the following point. The hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) evidently thinks that the whole of this Bill forms part of the policy of the Government for dealing with unemployment. On the other hand, I understood, and I think the House generally understood, that the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill was part of the vaunted policy of the Government to deal with agriculture and to show the farmers of the country how to make farming pay. We on this side of the House are entitled to know from the right hon. Gentleman opposite what is the underlying purpose of this Bill. What is the primary object? Is the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture trying to do what the learned Attorney-General failed to do the other day, namely, to kill two birds with one stone?


The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a statement with regard to what I have said. May I call his attention to Clause 14, the marginal note of which says: Power of Minister to provide allotments not exceeding one acre for unemployed persons. That is the part with which I was dealing.

Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE

We are not at the moment dealing with the Clause which makes provision for allotments for the unemployed. To return to the rather wider issue, before we go any further it is only right that the House, and, through the House, the country should be told quite clearly what is the fundamental and underlying purpose of this part of the Bill. Is it part of the policy of the Government for dealing with unemployment, or is it part of their policy to make farming pay? We ought to be told quite definitely. The House will have learnt with some relief, I feel sure, that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind a figure of approximately £500,000 as the outside limit which he would wish to devote to demonstration farms. I, personally, am extremely relieved that the right hon. Gentleman has not a larger figure than that in his mind, but I should feel a great deal safer, and I am sure that we on this side of the House would enjoy a sense of relief, if we could have that limit actually inserted in the Bill. It the right hon. Gentleman is so clear in his mind as to the sum which he intends to devote for demonstration farms, why does he object so strongly to putting the figure into the Bill? Surely, there can be no objection to such a course.

With regard to the £4,500,000 which, he tells us, he intends to devote to the reclaiming and reconditioning of land, I would ask him what is the amount of acreage in this country—4 believe the figure is in his possession—at the present time which has ever been farmed within recent years and which has now fallen into decay and is not being farmed at all? To the best of my information, the figure is an extraordinarily small one. Out of some 30,000,000 acres of land in this country devoted to farming, I believe that I am right in saying that a mere trifle—some 75,000 acres only—has fallen out of cultivation. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I invite him to give the figure if he will be so good. but I am informed that the figure is approximately what I have stated. If only a fraction of the land in this country has fallen out of cultivation, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House how he can possibly justify the proposals in this Clause and devote a sum of not less than £4,500,000 to the reclamation of such a comparatively small amount of land. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) has pointed clearly to the House the futility of spending any of this money. Even if you are successful in your reclamation work, and you bring back a few thousand acres of wheat land into condition so that they may be farmed, what, after all, have you achieved, if the agricultural produce grown on such land cannot find a market at a price which makes it worth growing? Yet at the present time, when we have the country labouring under great financial stress, the Government ask the House to vote a sum of not less than £4,500,000 for the reclamation of this land.

It is a monstrous action at this time to incur any expenditure whatever unless it is productive expenditure. We have a Government in power who appear to think that the purse of the taxpayer is completely inexhaustible, and I know that when the next General Election comes we shall have members of the Socialist party standing on platforms up and down the country saying, "Look what we have spent for you! We have spent £1,000,000 on this and we have spent £4,500,000 on that, and are you not very grateful to us for what we have done?" I believe that the farmers of the country will say, "Thank you for nothing. There are many other ways in which you might have spent the money very much more profitably if you really intended to carry out your last election promise to make farming pay."


It is rather amusing for some of us to have to listen to a speech such as that which has been delivered by the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon (Lieut.-Colonel Ruggles-Brise) following the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley), both of whom informed us that the proposals of the Minister in allowing this money to be used for the purposes indicated, to which, obviously, neither of them can lend their support, are amazing and monstrous. I was reminded, while listening to the late Minister for Transport, of the way in which he provided a wonderful example for the Minister of Agriculture to follow when he carried through the House and through Committee upstairs the Electricity Bill, 1926.

Colonel ASHLEY

The present Minister of Agriculture says frankly, "I do not mind whether I lose any money or not," and he refuses to accept any Amendment in order to find out, whereas in my Electricity Bill it was proposed to save £40,000,000 in 10 years' time.


It will be well within the recollection of the late Minister of Transport, that when we were discussing the Electricity Bill upstairs, it was admitted by him and other hon. Members on his side of the House, that in regard to the extension of electricity to rural districts, to the far outposts of the country, and the laying down of the grid, the industrial areas would have to make up the loss involved in carrying the electricity to the far distant parts. When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman points out to us that it is a monstrous undertaking to advance the money for the development of agriculture, I would remind him of the millions allocated under the Electricity Act of 1926. There was no question at that time as to the accuracy of accounts. The question of compensation to people removed from their professional positions, the question of payment for transformation of machinery in order to bring about the standard currency were lumped together in the provision of money under that Measure. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman professes to be willing to agree to spending money on co-operative methods and is not prepared to support the conditioning parts of this Bill. I would remind him that the Electricity Act, in addition to introducing more scientific methods, also introduced conditioning in regard to the electricity supply of the country. I suggest to Members on the other side, who are so desirous of being accurate in the allocation of the £4,500,000, that they should endeavour to cast their minds back three or four years when they were shepherding a Measure of a similar character, but one of far greater importance from the financial point of view, through this House and supporting the Minister in regard to principles which they themselves had already laid down.

6.0 p.m.


An hon. Member opposite raised a protest against the waste of time. I protest against the waste of money, and I suggest to him that we join hands and form an anti-waste society. We are on common ground. There is just as much connection between time and money as there is between demonstration farms and the re-clamation of land. If you can put the two last mentioned subjects into one section, surely we can put time and money into one society. I hope the hon. Member will accept my invitation to join me. The trouble about the reclamation of land seems to be that the Minister of Agriculture is thinking in terms of a by-gone age. That is rather characteristic of the party opposite. They get certain well-worn old tags into their head and keep on grinding them out time after time, year after year, generation after generation, regardless of the fact that the conditions which originally started them have long since passed away. Reclamation of land, tied cottages, security for the farmer are things that had their vogue years and years ago, but the party opposite keep on grinding them out, although the conditions which originally started them have entirely changed. That is the position in regard to the reclamation of land.

The Minister of Agriculture is thinking in terms of an age when the requirements of the population pressed very hardly upon the means of production. The people were always wanting more food, and one of the problems was the cultivation of land to provide that food. The needs of the people were pressing upon the means of production. The situation has now completely altered. The needs of production are now pressing very severely upon the means of marketing economically the stuff that is produced. In days gone by it was no doubt a very estimable thing to reclaim land which had never been cultivated and to bring it into cultivation, because that catered for the needs of the moment. To-day, the question is not that we want more land cultivated, but that we need to arrange a system by which the products of the land can be sold profitably. The elevators in Canada have been bulging with corn. Why were the elevators not drained? Because they could not be drained economically. The economic situation of the world did not allow those elevators to be drained economically.


On a paint of Order. May I suggest that on this Amendment we ought not to have a wide, sweeping discussion on the whole purposes of the Bill?


On that point of Order, may I observe that two speeches were made on the other side which went extremely wide, and I submit that we are entitled to make an answer?


I called hon. Members to order and pointed out that we were getting exceedingly wide from the subject matter of the Amendment, but when statements are made one has to give some little latitude in reply. I can only appeal to hon. Members not to abuse that latitude, but to keep somewhat within the limits of the Amendment.


I very much regret if I have in any way wandered outside the limits of discussion. I do not object to the Minister of Agriculture raising the point of Order, despite the fact that two hon. Members on his own side went rather wide of the subject.


May I point out that in your Ruling you did not state that two hon. Members on this side had travelled rather widely?


I have no doubt that those two hon. Members tried his patience very much and that he has adopted the common farm of venting his wrath upon a third and Comparatively innocent party. We consider that in regard to demonstration farms we have sufficient already and that the Minister of Agriculture can get all the information that he wants from those that are in existence. But whether that is so or not, a demonstration farm can be conducted perfectly soundly, and it can teach lessons which need to be taught, not merely lessons of production but lessons of economic production. That is not so with regard to the reclamation of land. You may reclaim and drain land but it certainly does not demonstrate anything which is in keeping with the economic tendencies of the day. That is a fundamental reason why these two things should be divided, the demonstration farm can be, ought to be and probably will be used definitely to teach lessons on which we are concentrating our gaze to-day. The reclamation of land will run absolutely counter to all the main economic tendencies of the present moment.


When I was listening to the right hon. Gentleman it seemed to me that he shifted his ground constantly during his opposition to the Amendment. In the first place, he said, in his nicest possible way, "Please do not separate these two matters, although they really overlap. You may very easily reclaim some land and afterwards you may need to use it as a demonstration farm." Further on, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that not more than £500,000 would be required for the demonstration farm. Therefore we were left to the obvious conclusion that there would be £4,500,000 to be spent on reclaiming land. That led to the further question, why was this reclamation of land to take place, and I understood him to say that one of the main purposes was to give employment to the unemployed. He said that it was rather shocking on our part to oppose the reclamation of land, when there was such serious unemployment. That led to the further question, what men were to be

employed. Not obviously, men from the agricultural districts, because there is very little unemployment there. They must be men brought from the towns. It seems to me a very absurd thing that we should bring men from the towns and employ them in the reclamation of land which is at present uneconomic. When we make a proposition to protect the industries and to give men work at their own job hon. Members opposite say that it is the greatest mistake, and that it is uneconomic, but, they now come forward and make a proposition to spend large sums of money on the reclamation of absolutely uneconomic land. It is a very ridiculous proposal, and I hope that the House will not accept it.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 190.

Division No. 140.] AYES. [6.10 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Dalton, Hugh Hoffman, P. C.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hollins, A.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Day, Harry Hopkin, Daniel
Aitchison. Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hore-Bellsha, Leslie
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbre') Dukes, C. Horrabin, J. F.
Alpass, J. H. Ede, James Chuter Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Angell, Sir Norman Edmunds, J. E. Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Arnott, John Edwards, c. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Isaacs, George
Aske, Sir Robert Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Jenkins, Sir William
Attlee, Clement Richard Egan, W. H. John, William (Rhondda, West)
Ayles, Walter Elmley, Viscount Johnston, Thomas
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Foot, Isaac Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Freeman, Peter Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Barnes, Alfred John Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)
Barr, James George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Batey, Joseph Gibbins, Joseph Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Bellamy, Albert Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Bennett, sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Gill, T. H. Kinley, J.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Gillett, George M. Kirkwood, D.
Benson, G. Glassey, A. E. Knight, Holford
Blindell, James Gossling, A. G. Lang, Gordon
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Gould, F. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lathan, G.
Broad, Francis Alfred Granville, E. Law, Albert (Bolton)
Brockway, A. Fenner Gray, Milner Law, A. (Rossendale)
Bromfield, William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Bromley, J. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lawther, w. (Barnard Castle)
Brooke, W. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Leach, W.
Brothers, M. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Groves, Thomas E. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Grundy, Thomas W. Lees, J.
Bushanan, G. Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Burgess, F. G. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Lloyd, C. Ellis
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Logan, David Gilbert
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Lengbottom, A. W.
Calne, Derwent Hall Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Longden, F.
Cameron, A. G. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Lunn, William
Cape, Thomas Hardie, George D. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Charleton, H. C. Hastings, Dr. Somerville McElwee, A.
Chater, Daniel Haycock, A. W. McEntee, V. L.
Cluse, W. S. Hayday, Arthur MeKinlay, A.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govas)
Compton, Joseph Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Cove, William G. Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) McShane, John James
Cripps, Sir Stafford Herriotts, J. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Daggar, George Hirst, G. H. (York W.R. Wentworth) Mansfield, W.
Dallas, George Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Marcus, M.
Markham, S. F. Rathbone, Eleanor Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Merley, J. Raynes, W. R. Strachey, E. J. St. Lee
Marshall, Fred Richards, R. Sullivan, J.
Mathers, George Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Sutton, J. R.
Matters, L. W. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Melville, Sir James Riley, F. F. (Steckton-on-Tees) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Messer, Fred Ritson, J. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Mills, J. E. Romeril, H. G. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistaw)
Milner, Major J. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Thurtle, Ernest
Montague, Frederick Rothschild, J. de Tinker, John Joseph
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Rowson, Guy Toole, Joseph
Morley, Ralph Salter, Dr. Alfred Tout, W. J.
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Townend, A. E.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Sanders, W. S. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Sawyer, G. F. Vaughan, David
Mort, D. L. Scott, James Viant, S. P.
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Scrymgeour, E. Walkden, A. G.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Scurr, John Walker, J.
Muff, G. Sexton, Sir James Wallace, H. W.
Muggeridge, H. T. Shakespeare, Groffrey H. Watkins, F. C.
Murnin, Hugh Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Naylor, T. E. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col D. (Rhondda)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sherwood, G. H. Wellock, Wilfred
Noel Baker, P. J. Shield, George William Welsh, James (Paisley)
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Shiels, Dr. Drummond West, F. R.
Oldfield, J. R. Shillaker, J. F. Westwood, Joseph
Oliver, p. M. (Man., Blackley) Shinwell, E. White, H. G.
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Whileley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Palin, John Henry. Simmons, C. J. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Paling, Wilfrid Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Palmer, E. T. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Perry, S. F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Peters, Dr. Sidney John Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Pole, Major D. G. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Potts, John S. Snell, Harry Wise, E. F.
Price, M. P. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Pybus, Percy John Sorensen, R. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Qulbell, D. F. K. Stamford, Thomas W.
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Stephen, Campbell TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Hayes.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Chapman, Sir S. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)
Albery, Irving James Christie, J. A. Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Clydesdale, Marquess of Gower, Sir Robert
Amory, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Cobb, Sir Cyril Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Grattan-Doyle, sir N.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover) Cohen, Major J. Brunel Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Atholl, Duchess of Caiman, N. C. D. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Atkinson, C. Colvifle, Major D. J. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Courtauld, Major J. S. Gunstton, Captain D. W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Balfour, Captain H. H, (I. of Thanet) Cranborne, Viscount Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Balniel, Lord Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Hammersley, S. S.
Beaumont, M. W. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hanbury, C.
Bollairs, Commander Carlyon Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Culverwall, C. T. (Bristol, West) Haslam, Henry C.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Bird, Ernest Roy Dalkeith, Earl of Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Boothby, R. J. G. Dairymple-White. Lt.Col. Sir Godfrey Hope, Sir Harry (Forlar)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Davies, Maj. Geo. F,(Somerset, Yeovil) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Dawson, Sir Philip Hurd, Percy A.
Boyce, Leslie Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bracken, B. Duckworth, G. A. V. Hutchison, Maj. Gen. Sir R.
Brass, Captain Sir William Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Briscoe, Richard George Eden, Captain Anthony Kindersley, Major G. M.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Haxham) Edmondson, Major A. J. Knox, Sir Alfred
Brown, Brig. Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Elliot, Major Walter E. Lamb, Sir J. O.
Buchan, John England, Colonel A. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Butler, R. A. Everard, W. Lindsay Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Falle, Sir Bertram G. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Campbell, E. T. Ferguson, Sir John Lymington, Viscount
Carver, Major W. H. Fermoy, Lord McConnell, Sir Joseph
Castle Stewart, Earl of Fielden, E. B. Macquisten, F. A.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Fison, F. G. Clavering Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Ford, Sir P. J. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtemth,S.) Fremantle, Lient.-Colonel Francis E. Marjoribanks, Edward
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Galbraith, J. F. W. Meller, R. J.
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Millar, J. D. Ross, Major Ronald D. Tinne, J. A.
Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Titchfield, Major the Marguess of
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Train, J.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. B. (Ayr) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Turton, Robert Hugh
Muirhead, A. J. Savery, S. S. Ward, Lieut.-Col. sir A. Lambert
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W. G.(Ptrsf'ld) Simms, Major-General J. Warrender, Sir Victor
O'Neill, Sir H. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast) Wayland, Sir William A.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Skelton, A. N. Wells, Sydney R.
Peake, Capt. Osbert Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Williams, Charles (Devan, Torquay)
Penny, Sir George Smith, R.W. (Aberd-n & Kinc'dine, C.) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Smithers, Waldron Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Power, Sir John Cecil Somerset, Thomas Withers, Sir John James
Pownall, Sir Assheton Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Womersley, W. J.
Purbrick, R. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ramsbotham, H. Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Rawson, Sir Cooper Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Reid, David D. (County Down) Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Reynolds, Col. Sir James Stuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Euan Wallace.
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Colonel ASHLEY

I beg to move, inpage 19, line 24, after the word "sums," to insert the words: not exceeding five million pounds in any one year. This Amendment deals with paragraph (d). The Sub-section says that the Treasury may, subject to such conditions as they may determine, issue out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom such sums as may be required by the Minister for the purchase of land or the erection of buildings for the provision of smallholdings and for such other expenses in connection with the provision of smallholdings as may be agreed by the Treasury and the Minister to be capital expenditure. The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that such expenditure shall not exceed £5,000,000 in any one year. I wish to limit the amount of money the Minister may use in the provision of small-holdings As the Clause stands, there is no limit at all, the only person to decide the amount is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is to tell the Minister of Agriculture what money he may have. I object to giving this blank cheque to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A limit should be inserted in the Bill. No one can cay that £5,000,000 is not a considerable amount to spend in any one year. In the other paragraphs in this Sub-section a limit is inserted. In the case of the Agricultural Land Corporation a sum of £1,000,000 is fixed, while in paragraph (b) a limit of £5,000,000 is inserted; and in paragraph (c) there is a limit of £700,000. I cannot see why the Minister has deliberately—it must have been done deliberately—omitted from the paragraph dealing with smallholdings any financial limit at all and should simply say that he wants to spend what he can induce the Treasury to allow him to spend. In these days of financial stringency we should be careful in giving a blank cheque, however desirable the object may be.

As to whether the amount of £5,000,000 is reasonable, I think it is, having regard to the objects for which the money is required, namely, the provision of smallholdings and the money which the Minister is to provide for those people who get smallholdings, which is not to exceed £50 in the aggregate or more than 30 shillings in any one week. I am almost ashamed to put in such a vast sum, and I think I am erring on the side of generosity. The real reason for my moving the Amendment is not, however, to tie the Minister down to £5,000,000 or to £4,000,000, but to get some sum inserted in this Clause. If in all the previous provisions a definite sum has been inserted, I do not see why we should not insert a definite figure in the provision which deals with smallholdings.


I agree with the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) that the amount of £5,000,000 is not at all an ungenerous figure, but the objection to fixing any amount at all is that it sets up some sort of idea that we are going to spend the same amount in each successive year. The point is that we want to get the development of smallholdings well on the way, and it may develop much more rapidly in one year than in another. There is no purpose served by putting a figure like this into the Bill. There is parliamentary control. We have to extract the money from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Parliament may give a blank cheque, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to get it cashed somehow or another, and I think the right hon. and gallant Member will agree that my right hon. Friend is not always ready to cash a cheque. Apart from that, Parliament will be able to exercise its voice in debate every year when the Estimates are voted. I think it much better to keep the matter flexible and to leave the power in the hands of this House rather than put in a fixed annual sum.

Colonel ASHLEY

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has not answered my question, why if you put in sums in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) you do not put in a sum in paragraph (d)?


It is because we consider this is rather a different subject matter. The smallholdings policy may develop greatly in a particular year, we cannot say to what size it will grow. There is a distinct different between the matters dealt with in this Clause.


The answer of the Chancellor of the Duchy has not satisfied my objections to giving this unlimited power of expenditure to the Government under this Clause. So far we have had no indication whatever as to the expenditure which the Government contemplate in any one year, or altogether, except that in the financial memorandum to the Bill we find that the expenditure will "depend on the unsatisfied demand, but it is estimated that on an average the capital cost of every 1,000 holdings may be £1,100,000."

It may be more or less, but as to how many thousands of people or how many millions of pounds of expenditure, the House has had not the slightest idea. We have had no reply to the Amendment except the statement of the Chancellor of the Duchy, that if the House abandons its control over finance there is always the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I said precisely the opposite. I said that besides the Chancellor of the Exchequer the House of Commons will keep control over finance.


I apologise if I have misrepresented the hon. Gentleman, but we are trying at this moment to keep control of finance to the House of Commons. If we give an absolutely blank cheque and allow this Bill to be conducted by Addison, Attlee and Company without the slightest check, I do not know where we can look for any estimate of the expenditure which the country may be incurring unless we look to the speech of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on the Second Reading of the Bill. He warmly commended the Bill. At the very outset of his speech he said that it was a Measure: after my own heart and towards the end he said: It is a real, bold, strong Bill with the cash behind it. What is the amount behind the small-holdings policy I do not know, unless one can gather it from the observations of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. He said that if we raised a loan of £200,000,000 for reclamation of land it would cost the country £5,000,000 a year, because we should probably lose 2½ per cent. That is quite a small matter. He contemplated a loan of £200,000,000. But he went on to say: You have a debt of £7,000,000,000 for destruction. The French spent from £1,000,000,000 to £2,000,000,000 in repairing the devastation of the War. Cannot we spend £200,000,000 on our … countryside?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1930; col. 310, Vol. 245.] That clearly shows that the right hon. Gentleman, who is believed to be really the godfather of this Bill, had very big ideas in his mind, when he was blessing the Bill at its christening, as to what the Government were going to spend. If we cannot be told how much the Government are going to spend, cannot we at least be told whether, in dealing with this huge figure of £1,100,000 for 1,000 smallholders, they are to be financed by a loan or in the normal way. Last Thursday this question was raised on the Adjournment, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer then said to the House: The policy of the Government, as I have repeatedly stated, and as I stated on the last occasion yesterday, is that we are prepared to foster and encourage every sound and economic scheme of national development, but such schemes will be financed as they have been financed in the past. There is no idea—it is almost a humiliation to have to say it—of putting forward a spectacular national development loan. Any scheme will have to be, first of all, very carefully considered and thoroughly sifted, and if the conclusion is reached that it would be to the national advantage that such a scheme should be promoted, then the finance of the scheme will be found in the ordinary way."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 5th February, 1931; cols. 2256–7, Vol. 247.] I want to know whether this scheme for placing unemployed people by the thousand on the land is one of the schemes that have been "carefully sifted," and whether it is to be financed in the ordinary way out of current expenditure or in the way that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs had clearly in his mind, that is, by a spectacular loan. Clearly a very spectacular loan would be required if the Government contemplated putting 100,000 people on smallholdings. It would be real Carnarvon finance. We are entitled to a good deal more information as to the scope of the Government's proposals. I wonder why they have been so obstinate in refusing to give us any indication of how many thousands of people they propose to put on the land and how many millions this scheme will cost the country. We have been refused that information in Committee and again to-day. I cannot help thinking that if they named any figure, it would be such a small figure compared with the 2,500,000 unemployed, that the Bill would seem almost ridiculous as a means of dealing with the un-employment problem. I beg the Minister to let us know the average number of people that he expects to put on the land in a year. I know that the number cannot be exactly the same every year. But is the average number to be 1,000 a year costing £1,000,000, or 10,000 costing £10,000,000, or 50,000 costing £50,000,000? Any of those figures would make a very small inroad on the total of unemployed. Surely we are entitled to know whether the money is to be raised in the ordinary way out of annual revenue, or whether it is to be left as a debt to posterity.


The hon. Baronet seems to think that the Government may have some idea in their minds. Those of us who have listened to the Government speeches on this and every other subject will know that the Government rarely have any idea in their minds, and that on this particular occasion the Government mind is even more barren than usual. That is saying a very great deal. All that the Chancellor of the Duchy said was that this particular Clause was for, the purpose of an emergency. Even the Chancellor of the Duchy, who has a comparatively limited knowledge of what is going on to-day, must know that the really great national emergency is not the emergency of trying to produce more food, but of trying to save the taxpayer's money above everything else. We have been told that there are Treasury safeguards and all that sort of thing, but we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who has very little control of the Government—never has there been one with less. The only piece of information we have had in the Debates here and in Committee, as to what the Government imagined they were going to do, was the quotation by the Minister of a certain county called Hampshire where, in the course of four years, four of these smallholdings had been provided. I believe Hampshire is a most estimable county and I have no doubt that the Small Holdings Act is administered there in an excellent way, and that everything possible is done to get people to go on the land. Four smallholdings in four years, in probably one of the best county council systems in the country! That was all that the Minister could show as to the demand for these smallholdings.

Coming to the Amendment, why in the world my right hon. Friend wants to give the Government £5,000,000 I do not know. Even the extravagant Minister of Agriculture, when the same Amendment was proposed in Committee, said that the sum was very generous. If he thinks it generous, the House may rest assured that the proposal is not merely generous, but a gross extravagance. In other words, the Minister himself does not for one minute expect to use anything near that sum. Personally I should have moved that the sum be £500,000. That would be quite ample for the present Administration. I would not willingly entrust them with £5 for this or any other purpose. I do not suppose that I can move an Amendment to the Amendment. If it were possible, I would like to omit the words "million pounds." I believe the Bill will result in complete waste and that we shall not get any value or return for this money. It is a step in the right direction to set up a limit on this occasion, but the limit is far too high. Although I suppose I shall support the Amendment in the Lobby, because one cannot look a gift horse in the face too closely, I do so under the strongest protest. The Amendment shows the type of mind we have all too prevalent in the House on many sides—the type of mind of Minister and ex-Minister who cannot realise that there is only one essential thing, and that that is to cut down expenditure on every occasion to absolute rock bottom.


I want to refer to one point which, though it may be regarded by the Chancellor of the Duchy as a small point, is to me a point of the utmost importance. The hon. Gentleman has told us that there is no need for any sum to be mentioned here because there are two safeguards, first, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and second, Parliamentary control. I have not been long in the House, but in common with most new Members I have watched its proceedings with close attention for a number of years, and I have watched in particular to find what form of Parliamentary control exists over the expenditure of money by the Government of the day. The situation is this: The control of this House over expenditure has diminished and is diminishing and ought to be very largely increased. Whenever any Amendment is moved which has the effect of keeping expenditure within due limits, some reason or other, differing from Amendment to Amendment, is given as an answer. The ordinary Private Member of the 'House who is desirous of doing his duty at a moment when there is a crying demand in all parts of the community for economy in our public life, finds himself without any influence, without any sort of control over national expenditure.

To give an answer of the sort we have heard to an Amendment which suggests the wildly extravagant sum of £5,000,000 as the amount to be spent, is really to talk in a world of complete unreality. Much as I dislike the figure in the Amendment, I shall be forced to vote for it because it seems to me that the time has come when all parties, if they are going to do anything with regard to expenditure, can do it only by attempting to clip the wings of Ministers, no matter to what party they belong.


I, for the same reasons as those given by previous speakers from this side, do not accept as a sufficient security against extravagance, the two safeguards mentioned by the Minister. The purpose of these smallholdings is to try to remedy unemployment, to some extent, and, as the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) has mentioned, 1,000 unemployed men from the industrial centres will cost £1,000,000. Without some restriction of the kind proposed there seems to be no limit to the number of unemployed men who can apply and be accepted for smallholdings. When we have the unemployment figures going up by from 10,000 to 20,000 a week, it will be seen that to get even one week's increase of unemployed men on to the land would represent a cost of £10,000,000 or more. If we have not a limit of this kind what is to be the total cost to the Exchequer? Under Clause 7, as amended, this provision is also available for agricultural workers. No doubt there will be a very great demand from unemployed men in the towns, if they find that they can go down to the country and that they will be offered a house and a holding and, directly or indirectly, a sum of about £1,000. When they go there they will have no money of their own but they will take on these smallholdings, and after a year or so they will probably lose whatever money has been given to them. They will be no worse off in the end—they will have nothing in the end, but then, they had nothing in the beginning. I anticipate that there will be a large number of applicants from the towns, anxious to try country life and to have a comfortable year or two, at the expense of the State. In the interests of the taxpayer I support the Amendment.

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

The House Proceeded to a Division.


(seated and covered): On a point of Order. Some of us have been unable to get through the press of Members at the entrance to the Division Lobby in order to vote. At least a dozen Members are waiting to get in now, and the doors have been locked.


I cannot alter the time allowed for a Division.

The House divided: Ayes, 180; Noes, 273.

Division No. 141.] AYES. [6.49 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Cot. Charles Duckworth, G. A. V. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Albery, Irving James Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Peake, Capt. Osbert
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Eden, Captain Anthony Penny, Sir George
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Edmondson, Major A. J. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Elliot, Major Walter E. Peto, Sir Basll E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) England, Colonel A. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Atholl, Duchess of Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.) Ramsbotham, H.
Atkinson, C. Everard, W. Lindsay Rawson, Sir Cooper
Ballile-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Ferguson, Sir John Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fielden, E. B. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Flson, F. G. Clavering Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Balnlel, Lord Ford, Sir P. J. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bellalrs, Commander Carlyon Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Betterton, sir Henry B. Galbraith, J. F. W. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Salmon, Major I.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Glyn, Major R. G. C. Samuel. A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bird, Ernest Roy Gower, Sir Robert Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Boothby, R. J. G. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Savery, S. S.
Bowater. Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Boyce, Leslie Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Simms, Major-General J.
Bracken, B. Hanbury, C. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Bellst.)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Briscoe, Richard George Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Haslam, Henry C. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y) Heneage. Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Smithers, Waldron
Buchan, John Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Somerset, Thomas
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Butler, R. A. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Campbell, E. T. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Carver, Major W. H. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Iveagh, Countess of Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinne, J. A.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.) Kindersley, Major G. M. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm., W.) Knox, Sir Alfred Train, J.
Chapman, Sir S. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Christie. J. A. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Turton, Robert Hugh
Clydesdale, Marquess of Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Little, Sir Ernest Graham Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Warrender, Sir Victor
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Lymington, Viscount Wayland, Sir William A.
Colman, N. C. D. McConnell, Sir Joseph Wells, Sydney R.
Colville, Major D. J. Macquisten, F. A. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Maltland, A. (Kent, Faveraham) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George
Cranborne, Viscount Margesson, Captain H. D. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Meller, R. J. Withers, Sir John James
Crolt, Brigadier-General Sir H. Merrlman, Sir F. Boyd Womersley, W. J.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Millar, J. D. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Mitchell-Thomson. Rt. Hon. Sir W. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wright. Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Cunllffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Young. Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Dalkeith, Earl of Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Dalrymple-White. Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Davies, Ma]. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil) Muirhead, A. J. Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain
Dawson, Sir Philip Newton, Sir D, G. C. (Cambridge) Sir George Bowyer.
Adamson. Rt. Hon. W. (Flfe, West) Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bowerman. Rt. Hon. Charles W.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Broad, Francis Alfred
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Barnes, Alfred John Brockway, A. Fenner
Altchlson, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Barr, James Bromfield, William
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro) Batey, Joseph Bromley, J.
Alpass, J. H. Bellamy, Albert Brooke, W.
Angell, Sir Norman Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Brothers, M.
Arnott, John Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Brown, Ernest (Leith)
Aske, Sir Robert Benson, G. Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)
Attlee, Clement Richard Blinded, James Brown. W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)
Ayles, Walter Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Buchanan, G.
Burgess, F. G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Raynes, W. R.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Richards, R.
Calne, Derwent Hall. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Richardson, R. (Houqhton-le-Spring)
Cameron, A. G. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Rlley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cape, Thomas Kinley, J. Rlley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Charleton, H. C. Knight, Holford Romeril, H. G.
Chater, Daniel Lang, Gordon Rosbotham, D. S. T
Clarke, J. S. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rothschild, J. de
Cluse, W. S. Lathan, G. Rowson, Guy
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Law, Albert (Bolton) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Law, A. (Rossendale) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Compton, Joseph Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Sanders, W. S.
Cove, William G. Lawson, John James Sawyer, G. F.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Scott, James
Daggar, George Leach, W. Scrymgeour, E.
Dallas, George Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Scurr, John
Dalton, Hugh Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sexton, Sir James
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Lees, J. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Day, Harry Lloyd, C. Ellis Sherwood, G. H.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Logan, David Gilbert Shield, George William
Dukes, C. Longbottom, A. W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Ede, James Chuter Longden, F. Shillaker, J. F.
Edmunds, J. E. Lunn, William Shinwell, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacDonatd, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Simmons, C. J.
Egan, W. H. McEntee, V. L. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Elmley, Viscount McKinlay, A. Sitch, Charles H.
Foot, Isaac MacLaren, Andrew Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Forgan, Dr. Robert Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Freeman, Peter Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) McShane, John James Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gibblns, Joseph Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Snell, Harry
Gill, T. H. Mansfield, W. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Gillett, George M. Marcus, M. Sorensen, R.
Glassey, A. E. Markham, S. F. Stamford, Thomas W.
Gossling, A. G. Marley, J. Stephen, Campbell
Gould, F. Marshall, Fred Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mathers, George Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Matters, L. W. Sullivan, J.
Granville, E. Maxton, James Sutton, J. E.
Gray, Milner Melville, Sir James Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Messer, Fred Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mills, J. E. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.) Milner, Major J. Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plalstow)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Montague, Frederick Thurtle, Ernest
Groves, Thomas E. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Tinker, John Joseph
Grundy, Thomas W. Morley, Ralph Toole, Joseph
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Tout, W. J.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Townend, A. E.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Vaughan, David
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Mort, D. L. Viant, S. P.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Walkden, A. G.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Walker, J.
Hardle, George D. Muff, G. Wallace, H. W.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Muggeridge, H. T. Watkins, F. C.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Murnin, Hugh Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).
Haycock, A. W. Naylor, T. E. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hayday, Arthur Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wellock, Wilfred
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Nod Baker, P. J. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Henderson, Arthur, junr, (Cardiff, S.) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Oldfield, J. R. West, F. R.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Westwood, Joseph
Herriotts, J. Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) White, H. G.
Hirst, G. H. (York W.R. Wentworth) Palln, John Henry Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Palmer, E. T. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hoffman, P. C. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hollins, A. Perry, S. F. Williams. Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hopkin, Daniel Peters, Dr. Sidney John Williams. T. (York. Don Valley)
Hora-Bellsha, Leslie Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Horrabin, J. F. Picton-Turbervill, Edith Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Pole, Major D. G. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Potts, John S. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Isaacs, George Price, M. P. Wise, E. F.
Jenkins, Sir William Pybus, Percy John Wood, Major McKenzle (Banff)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Quibell, D. J. K.
Johnston, Thomas Ramsav, T. B. Wilson TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rathbone, Eleanor Mr. Hayes and Mr. Paling.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 19, line 39, to leave out Sub-section (2).

7.0 p.m.

I move this Amendment for the purpose of ascertaining from the. Financial Secretary to the Treasury some more satisfactory reasons than those which we were able to obtain in the Committee upstairs, as to why borrowing for the purposes of this Bill is limited to borrowing by means of terminable annuities for a term not exceeding 20 years. The Treasury have various devices for borrowing, both short-term and long-term, and they have selected for the purposes of this Bill what, in the first place, appears to be one of the more expensive forms of borrowing. It can only be justified if 20 years is the full life of the security on which the money is borrowed. Presumably, 20-year terminable annuities involve interest and sinking fund, the sinking fund making up the capital in 20 years, and that, inevitably, means a high rate of interest. If that is the reason of these provisions, does not that, in fact, mean that anything under this Bill which is financed out of borrowing will be charged a very high rate of interest? Is that object the Treasury policy in regard to the administration of this Bill? As the main object of this Amendment is exploratory, it must depend on what the Financial Secretary to the Treasury says in reply, and what explanation he gives us as to whether we press this Amendment to a Division or not. I move my Amendment in order that we may fully understand what is in the mind of the Treasury in this particular proposal in this part of the Bill.

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)

I gladly respond to the invitation of the right hon. Gentleman to give an explanation of the policy involved in this Subsection. I imagine that his intention is not to leave out the Sub-section, but to get an explanation, and that he has chosen the Parliamentary way of obtaining it. There were two policies open to the Government with regard to the financial provisions of this Bill: they could arrange that all the money required from the taxpayer should be found annually as it was needed to be forthcoming, or, on the other hand, they could arrange that the money should be borrowed. My right hon. Friend decided that, in the special circumstances of these proposals where large capital sums were involved, it would be unreasonable that the whole amount should be found out of the provision for the particular year in which they were incurred. Taking all the facts into account, he thought a comparatively short period ought to be imposed for the repayment of the loan. While it is true that some of these assets will last considerably longer than 20 years, there are other assets from the capital expenditure on the smallholdings which will last less than 20 years, and a figure of 20 years was arrived at as a, reasonable compromise, taking all these facts into consideration. It must be remembered that there is a very definite precedent for that figure of 20 years in the telephone borrowing at the present time, and that precedent is embodied in this Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be under the impression, first of all, that a very large amount of difference would be made in the annual charge and. secondly, that the period we were pro posing of 20 years amortisation in the Bill would involve a very high charge to the people for whom the facilities are provided. Neither is borne out by the facts. In the first place, supposing we were to make it a very large number of years, 40 instead of 20, which would be far too high, the difference would not be quite as great as some Members would imagine. The, rate of interest at the present time, including sinking fund, is about 7⅝ per cent. on a 20 years' basis, while on a 40 years' basis it would be 5½ per cent. That is taken on the basis of a 4½ per cent. rate of interest, and the difference is not quite so great as some Members would imagine. The figures I have given will be found to be correct.

The second point that the right hon. Gentleman suggested was that the whole of this amount would be imposed upon the persons using these facilities. My right hon. Friend beside me has never disguised the fact that these provisions are not expected to be entirely financially remunerative, and that there would be a charge upon the taxpayer. That has been assumed on both sides of the House, and what will happen will be that, where these facilities are provided, those persons receiving them will be expected to pay such an annual sum as is reasonable in all the circumstances, and that during the continuation of this 20 years' period the taxpayer will have a certain margin to find. That is not an unreasonable proposal because, assuming that the 20 years are over, then there will still be something coming in from these facilities, and at that point the taxpayer will be obtaining an advantage through the shortness of the amortisation term. In other words, this is not designed as a penalty for the individual enjoying the facilities provided under the Bill, but is a safeguard for the future position of the State. It is not reasonable, in the view of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to postpone the payment of these items too long. The figure of 20 years has been fixed as a reasonable compromise in order to meet all the requirements.


I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, in page 20, line 8, to leave out from the word "be" to the end of the Subsection.

I move this Amendment in order to ask for an explanation from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. As I understand the scheme which is laid down in this Clause for financing these smallholdings, certain receipts will be paid to the Ministry in respect of the letting of the land which will be paid into the Smallholdings and Allotments Account. There will be a similar payment into the Smallholdings and Allotments Account of Scotland. The annuities which we have been discussing under the last Sub-section will be defrayed out of these accounts, so that the interest and sinking fund will be annually defrayed, and in so far as not so defrayed, shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament for the service of the Ministry. I will take the English case, as it is easier to state one case. The Clause goes on to say that, if those moneys are insufficient, the annuities shall be— charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund, or the growing produce thereof. Why are those last words put in? In my view, which I believe is shared by many hon. Members on this side of the House, the provision of money over and above what is received by the Minister should be defrayed annually from the Minister's Estimate. The Minister should come to Parliament with his estimate and ask for the amount of money necessary and which he expects to spend that year and that should be his limit unless he comes to Parliament for a Supplementary Estimate. As this Clause is drafted, it will be possible, in the event of there being a deficit owing to the amount of money voted to the Minister being insufficient, to put a charge upon the Consolidated Fund without coming to Parliament. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury knows, there are certain charges put upon the Consolidated Fund with the express intention of making it impossible to discuss them in this House except on a substantive Motion. We are very anxious to see that no part of this Bill is put in that position, and that no Government can undertake expenditure which it has not to come to this House to approve.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I quite understand the anxiety of the hon. and gallant Member in moving this Amendment, and I think that I can set his mind entirely at rest. The intention of the Government is precisely that which he has in mind. He wishes to make sure that any money which is required to make up the deficit in any one year shall be provided out of the Vote. These words are added for a technical reason. The Debt Commissioners, who are asked under a previous Sub-section to provide the money and to accept payment in the form of terminable annuities, make it a condition that they should have the security of the Consolidated Fund behind the security of the estimates for the year. The hon. Member thinks that some recalcitrant Government might try to get round the provision of Parliament and place the burden upon the Consolidated Fund. He has forgotten that, before the Consolidated Fund could be used for that purpose, the consent of the Auditor-General would have to be obtained, and no Government could go to the Auditor-General for a consent of that kind. Even if his consent were given in any case, the whole matter would almost certainly be brought to the attention of Members of Parliament in his report. Therefore, I can assure the hon. Member that the provision is exactly what he wishes to see, and that these words are only added for the technical reason which I have given him and that there is no likelihood of evasion.

Captain BOURNE

In view of the explanation, for which I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman, I will ask leave to withdraw my Amendment. He will admit it is not very clear on the face of it, and we wanted an adequate explanation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.