HC Deb 10 February 1931 vol 248 cc330-63

(1) Any smallholdings or allotments provided by the Minister and any land acquired by him for the purposes of smallholdings or allotments in exercise of the powers conferred on him by this Part of this Act may, by arrangement between him and the local authority, be either—

  1. (a) controlled and managed by the authority as agents for the Minister; or
  2. (b) transferred to the authority on such terms as may be agreed between the Minister and the authority and approved by the Treasury.

(2) Any smallholdings, allotments, or land transferred to a local authority under this section shall be deemed to have been acquired by the authority under the Smallholdings and Allotments Acts.

(3) In this section the expression "local authority" means, in relation to a smallholding or to land acquired for a smallholding, the council of the county, and, in relation to any allotment or to land acquired for allotments, the council of the borough, urban district, or parish or any county council acting in default of such a council as aforesaid.—[Dr. Addison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This Clause has been moved in fulfilment of an undertaking which I gave during the Committee stage. It takes the place of the original Clause 12 of the Bill.


I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 3, to leave out the word "may," and to insert instead thereof the words: shall after not more than three years from their provision by the Minister. The Minister has told us that this new Clause is in accordance with an undertaking given in Committee. I would like to recognise the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has met us to some extent. In the original Bill there was a provision that the Minister could arrange for management by local authorities, but there was no power to hand over the smallholdings and allotment estates to the ownership of the authority now responsible for that class of administration. In Committee we were anxious to prevent the development of two rival systems. We quite understood that, given acceptance of the principle of the Bill—to which we do not in any way reduce our opposition—it was inevitable that a temporary measure of control should vest in the Ministry of Agriculture in the matter of training, of equipment and of maintenance allowance, and that until people were fairly settled on the holdings under this new and untried system obviously the Minister, being responsible for all this public money, must control the early stages of the experiment. But if we allow this Bill to enable the Ministry permanently to carry on the smallholdings and allotment estates inevitably that would snuff out all the efforts of the local authority, because this Bill is offering greater inducements and more favourable terms than were ever available previously.

We believe that the local authorities have an unrivalled and invaluable experience, in carrying on smallholdings especially, and also in the case of allotments. We believe that they have done their smallholdings work efficiently and cheaply, and we do not wish to see a competitive and more favoured system set up. To some extent the Minister has met us. He has taken powers to transfer to local authorities at his discretion, with the sanction of the Treasury. We want him to go further. We want him to follow the precedent of the Act of 1919. We cannot have the same machinery, because under that Act the provision of smallholdings was left to the local authorities, and the State by provisions which are inapplicable to our present problem, had to make up to the local authorities any temporary loss, and finally to come to a settlement after seven years. But we do feel that the general principle of that precedent should be followed, that we ought to continue the well-established system that the smallholdings estates should be run by the responsible county authority. They have the land agents, they have the officials and the organisation, they are in touch with local conditions, and we wish to see the new system eventually absorbed in the very valuable work which has been carried on by the local authority.

The Amendment provides that after three years it shall no longer be optional to the Minister, but that he shall hand over these estates to the authorities—the county councils and the county borough councils, for smallholdings, and in the case of allotments, to the existing allotment authorities—so that when this scheme has been set on foot and has had a reasonable time for establishment the estate shall be run as part of the general effort of the local authorities.


I am sorry that I cannot possibly accept this Amendment. It would mean that at the end of three years, when smallholdings or allotments on an estate had been well-established, the Minister would be compelled to hand it over to the county council. I do not stand second to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Guinness) in my appreciation of the work of the county councils. I recognise the value of their work, but I think it would be altogether unwise to compel the Minister, whether he likes it or not, and however well holdings might be working on any particular estate, to hand it over to somebody else at the end of three years. The new Clause shows that I recognise fully the desirability of co-operating with the local authorities as much as possible, but it would not be right to impose this requirement on the Minister and therefore I cannot accept it.


There are three Amendments to this new Clause on the Paper, all, to some extent, similar, and I wish to know, Sir Robert, if you propose to call that which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir D. Newton) and myself—in line 5, after the word "authority" to insert the words "and shall if the local authority so request." My position is that if I cannot have one Amendment I should like to have the other, and I wish to know whether I shall support the Amendment now before the Committee, or wait to move my own Amendment later.


I had not intended to call the hon. Member's Amendment, but I had intended to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer)—in line 4, after the word "authority" to insert the words: and if the local authority at any time after the expiry of the period of five years subsequent to the date of such provision so requires, shall.


I submit, Sir Robert, that there is a difference between these Amendments.


I know. There are differences between Amendments in all these cases.


While regretting that my Amendment is not to be called, I should like to support the Amendment now before the Committee. I wish, first, to express my thanks to the Minister for the new Clause even as it is, and it is very largely, I think, because of questions raised in the Committee that this Clause has been proposed. The Minister has taken power to allot the management of these estates to the county councils, or to transfer the estates themselves, but he has used the word "may" and that leaves the Clause far too wide and too permissive for me. No time is specified, and while I cannot now discuss the Amendment which I have on the Paper, I think it would have been more suitably and would have allowed the Minister more elasticity as to time. Our object is to remove certain objections, and the first of these objections is that under this proposal there will be two authorities in the same area, administering holdings. There will be the county council, with the existing holdings, and then the Minister will be creating new holdings in the same area. The Bill gives greater facilities to those who apply for smallholdings under this Measure than it has been possible for the county councils to give to their tenants, and thus two tenants, perhaps side by side, may be working under different conditions not only as to occupancy but also as to finance and this may create a sense of ill-feeling and injustice as between the two.

The conditions under which the Minister can create holdings mean that the whole of the loss will be upon the Ministry, and, possibly, local authorities will cease to create holdings at all in those circumstances. Under existing arrangements, local authorities only receive up to 75 per cent., and consequently 25 per cent. falls on the rates. At the present time, when there is such financial stringency, and such difficulty in keeping down rates, there will be a natural disinclination on the part, of local authorities to create holdings, when the Minister can create them without loss to the ratepayers. It is thus possible that the county councils will leave the onus of this duty to the Minister, and, in that case, all the officials at present in the counties for this purpose will remain, while another set of officials will be brought in to create and operate the new holdings. The local authorities now have their staffs of trained men, who are able to manage these holdings very much better than anybody who may be brought in without local knowledge of the area.

It has been said by the Minister that there are 27,521 smallholdings under the authority of the county councils, and land to the extent of approximately 500,000 acres, is under the control of those bodies. The officials in charge of those holdings know the varying conditions as between different districts and that is a great asset of which the Minister will deprive himself unless he utilises their services and hands over these holdings to them as early as possible. The Minister may create an estate on land adjoining an existing estate of smallholdings and thus there will be two different sets of holdings adjacent to each other. The men who are going on to these holdings will have a difficult task to make them pay. They will require all the assistance which they can get—both smallholders and allotment holders—and in the counties we now have the officials who are best qualified to give advice, and who know the local conditions. Those officials are already engaged in assisting local smallholders and allotment holders under education authorities and in connection with farming schools. What necessity is there to duplicate all these officials? I think we have a right to ask not only that this new Clause should be added to the Bill, but that there should be some definite statement as to the time when these allotments will be turned over to the local authorities.

The Minister may say that no reasonable Minister would do what has been suggested. On the other hand, Ministers come and Ministers go, particularly at the Ministry of Agriculture, and in my short experience of this House, I have had the pleasure of knowing several Ministers of Agriculture. I may say, without offence, that there is no guarantee that the present Minister is going to stay there very long, and the Minister who follows him may not be bound by any suggestions which he makes now or any obligation under which he personally may place himself. It is better to have these things in black and white. As I have said before, there is a great deal of nationalisation behind this Bill. Hon. Members opposite are, of course, entitled to their views, and I hope I am entitled to mine. It may be that there is no intention to turn these holdings over to the county councils at all, but instead to make them into one large estate under the Ministry with the idea, ultimately, of controlling the whole of the land of the country. I do not think we ought to run that, risk. Our experience in the past has been that the Ministry, when they have had holdings, as under the Smallholding Colonies Act have retained them too long, and that if those holdings had been turned over to the counties sooner, con-

siderable losses would have been avoided. I hope the Minister will accept at least one of these Amendments.


There is one question I want to ask. The Minister spoke of the "possible development of this policy." Does that indicate that it is the ultimate policy of the Minister of Agriculture to take over the whole of the smallholdings in the country or not? It has been pointed out that it is, obviously, undesirable to have two sets of smallholdings under two financial conditions running side by side at the same time. Is the Minister going to refuse to hand back the smallholdings to the administration of the county councils? I ask him to let the Committee know before we go to a Division what was meant by the phrase "possible development of this policy." Does that mean that it is the definite purpose of the Bill to do away with smallholdings under the county councils altogether, and to absorb them in one great department administered by a Department of State? That leads me to another obvious question, which is whether the development of this policy means ultimate nationalisation?

Question put, "That the word 'may' stand part of the proposed Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 252; Noes, 123.

Division No. 143.] AYES. [9.27 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Burgess, F. G. Glbbins, Joseph
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Buxton, c. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Calne, Derwent Hall. Gill, T. H.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Cameron, A. G. Gossling, A. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Cape, Thomas Gould, F.
Angell, Sir Norman Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Arnott, John Charleton, H. C. Graham, Rt. Hon.Wm. (Edin.,Cent.)
Aske, Sir Robert Clarke, J. S. Granville, E.
Attlee, Clement Richard Cluse, W. S. Gray, Milner
Ayles, Walter Cocks, Frederick Seymour Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Compton, Joseph Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Cove, William G. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Barnes, Alfred John Cripps, Sir Stafford Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Batey, Joseph Daggar, George Groves, Thomas E.
Bellamy, Albert Dallas, George Grundy, Thomas W.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Benson, G. Day, Harry Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Blindell, James Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Dukes, C. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Bowen, J. W. Ede, James Chuter Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Edmunds, J. E. Hardle, George D.
Broad, Francis Alfred Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Harris, Percy A.
Brockway, A. Fenner Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
Bromfield, William Egan, W. H. Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Bromley, J. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer) Haycock, A. W.
Brooke, W. Foot, Isaac Hayday, Arthur
Brothers, M. Forgan, Dr. Robert Hayes, John Henry
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Freeman, Peter Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Buchanan, G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Melville, Sir James Shinwell, E.
Herriotts, J. Middleton, G. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Milner, Major J. Simmons, C. J.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Montague, Frederick Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Hoffman, P. C. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Hopkin, Daniel Morley, Ralph Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Horo-Belisha, Leslie Morris, Rhys Hopkins Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Horrabin, J. F. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Smith, H. B. Lees. (Keighley)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Mort, D. L. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Jenkins, Sir William Muff, G. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Muggeridge, H. T. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Jones, F. Liewellyn,(Flint) Murnin, Hugn Sorensen, R.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Stamford, Thomas W.
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Oldfield, J. R. Stephen, Campbell
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Strauss, G. R.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Palin, John Henry Sullivan, J.
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Paling, Wilfrid Sutton, J. E.
Kinley, J. Palmer, E. T. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Kirkwood, D. Perry, S. F. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Lang, Gordon Peters, Dr. Sidney John Tinker, John Joseph
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Toole, Joseph
Lathan, G. Picton-Turbervill, Edith Tout, W. J.
Law, Albert (Bolton) Pole, Major D. G. Townend, A. E.
Law, A. (Rossendale) Potts, John S. Vaughan, David
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Price, M. P. Viant, S. P.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Pybus, Percy John Walkden, A. G.
Leach, W. Quibell, D. J. K. Walker, J.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Wallace, H. W.
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Rathbone, Eleanor Watkins, F. C.
Lees, J. Raynes, W. R. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Richards, R. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Longbottom, A. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Wellock, Wilfred
Longden, F. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Ritson, J. West, F. R.
McEntee, V. L. Romeril, H. G. Westwood, Joseph
McKinlay, A. Rosbotham, D. S. T. White, H. G.
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Rowson, Guy Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Salter, Dr. Alfred Williams, David (Swansea, East)
MacNeill-Weir, L. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
McShane, John James Sanders, W. S. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Sawyer, G. F. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Mander, Geoffrey le M. Scott, James Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Mansfield, W. Scrymgeour, E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Marcus, M. Scurr, John Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
Markham, S. F. Sexton, Sir James Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Marley, J. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Marshall, Fred Sherwood, G. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mathers, George Shield, George William Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Thurtle.
Matters, L. W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Maxton, James Shillaker, J. F.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Courtauld, Major J. S. Hammersley, S. S.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hanbury, C.
Albery, Irving James Crlchton-Stuart, Lord C. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Llndsey,Galnsbro) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnea)
Atkinson, C. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Haslam, Henry C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Dalkeith, Earl of Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Dawson, Sir Philip Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Boothby, R. J. G. Dixey, A. C. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Kindersley, Major G. M.
Bracken, B. Duckworth, G. A. V. Lamb, Sir J.Q.
Braithwalte, Major A. N. Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Edmondson, Major A. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S. M.) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Buchan-Hopburn, P. G. T. Ferguson, Sir John Llewellin, Major J. J.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Fielden, E. B. Long, Major Hon. Eric
Campbell, E. T. Ford, Sir P. J. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Castle Stewart, Earl of Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Chamberlain,Rt. Hn.Sir J. A.(Birm.,W.) Galbraith. J. F. W. Merrlman, Sir F. Boyd
Chapman, Sir S. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Christie, J. A. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Muirhead, A. J.
Colville, Major D. J. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
O'Connor, T. J. Shepperson, sir Ernest Whittome Train, J.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Simms, Major-General J. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Penny, Sir George Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfat) Ward, Lieut. Col. Sir A. Lambert
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Skelton, A. N. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Wayland, sir William A.
Ramsbotham, H. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.) Wells, Sydney R.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Smithers, Waldron Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Reid, David D. (County Down) Somerset, Thomas Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George
Remer, John R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Withers, Sir John James
Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Womersley, W. J.
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Salmon, Major I. Thomson, Sir F.
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Savery, S. S. Todd, Capt. A. J. Captain Sir George Bowyer and Sir Victor Warrender.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, on recommittal, considered,

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

On a point of Order. I would like to draw attention to the fact that only one hour and twenty minutes is left for the Third Reading, and, as a great many Members wish to speak, that is a very short time in which to discuss a Bill which has been very much altered in Committee and on the Report stage. I suggest that the Government should give more time.


There is no point of Order, and it has nothing to do with me.


This Measure is designed to secure the better utilisation of the land of this country, and I would remind the House that it deals with matters of fundamental importance to our agricultural system. The House could deal with no more important and urgent matter, so far as agriculture is concerned, than this Bill. If we can deal successfully with the land problem, it will considerably affect, directly and indirectly, our unemployment statistics. We will restore various parts of the country areas which are becoming derelict, and we will affect directly and indirectly the balance of trade and secure greater economic independence for our country.

The first part of the Bill deals with what is called large-scale or mechanised farms. For many years, various authorities have urged that an experiment of this kind should be made. There has been, for example, the Selborne Committee, which reported unanimously in favour of this experiment, and I would remind hon. Members on the other side of the House that at least three Ministers were on the Committee. Then Professor Orwin, who has been frequently quoted in these Debates as a strong supporter of this proposal, has brought all his knowledge of agriculture to bear in giving an opinion in favour of large-scale farms. We have the results of some experience in various parts of the world, and, while I am not going so far as to say that large-scale or mechanised farming has been successful in every instance, yet this much can be said, that it has the promise of putting certain phases of our agriculture on a better economic foundation. I would emphasise, before I pass on to deal with my next point, that though it is only an experiment, yet it is an experiment which it is well worth undertaking by the people of this country. Then we come to that phase of the Bill which deals with our under-drained and undernourished land, land which requires reconditioning. The land may be in a soured or ill-drained condition for many reasons. The proprietors may be financially unable to keep their property in an up-to-date state or they may be unwilling to do so, but in the national interest it is imperative that our great national asset should be kept in good condition.

Thirdly, we come to the question of demonstration areas. Here, in my opinion, lie the most immediate and most obvious hopes in the Bill for agriculturists. We have been making experiments, though not sufficient experiments, with a view to avoiding waste and destroying pests and trying to obtain better products, but, alas, very frequently the discoveries of our laboratories and our colleges take time to filter through to our farmers and smallholders, and the great value of the provisions for setting up demonstration areas is that they will be there ready for the farmer and the smallholder to see for themselves what can be done. Fourthly, we have the question of smallholders. For many years past it has been the considered policy of Government after Government to assist in the provision of smallholdings. This policy of sub-dividing large estates and large farms has been adopted by nearly every civilised country in the world. A century ago in this country the position was the other way about, but now we, with every other civilised country, are convinced of the urgent necessity of maintaining a healthy and contented rural peasantry. It is the smallholder in Denmark who has captured our butter and bacon trade, and it is the smallholder of France and of Spain who floods our markets with early potatoes. Hence the value of this section of the Measure, which will enable us to put smallholders on the land. It will give us the power of putting the unemployed man or the farmworker on the land as a smallholder and giving him a maintenance grant up to £50 a year for the first year until he begins to get some return from his labours.

I estimate that in Scotland we shall be able to make provisions for at least 700 families under this section, and, obviously, if that can be continued for a decade, we shall be able to increase the number to 7,000 families, and in the course of a lifetime we should change the conditions of the countryside. Fifthly I come to the question of allotments. Here is one of the things which is provided for in this Bill to which every one of us has rendered lip service; but this Government has provided the money, and the finding of the money is the acid test of our interest in the development of smallholdings. We propose to give unemployed men, through local authorities, of course, allotment holdings up to one acre in extent, and we propose to supply the money for seeds and implements. We also propose to meet the approved expenses of local authorities who engage in the provision of these allotments.

Taken as a whole, I may fairly claim that this Bill deals in a broad and comprehensive way with the major problems of the soil so far as its productive capacity is concerned. I do not urge that this Measure, taken by itself, will be able to solve all the problems of agriculture, but taken in conjunction with our Marketing Bill, our Smallholders and Agricultural Holdings Bill, our Livestock Licens- ing Bill, with the great scientific experiments such as the milk investigation in Lanarkshire which we are conducting and the development of the grading and marking of beef, and taken in conjunction with other Measures which the Government has already declared its intention to promote, I think we can fairly claim that we are doing everything—




—to give this greatest industry and those who work on the soil the opportunity of earning a decent and economic livelihood. I am proud to have been associated with this great effort, greater, I may add, than is being made by any Government in the world to-day to place agriculture on a sound and efficient basis.


I rise to move the rejection of the Bill. I have not been carried away by the right hon. Gentleman's claim that he was supporting a Measure before the House dealing with "the major problems of the soil". I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Bill would affect the balance of our trade. I shall oppose the Measure. I will not move, "That the Bill be read the Third time upon this day six months," because it is so bad that we do not desire to see it again. We have had long Debates on the Measure, we have had the kangaroo closure in. Committee and an all-night sitting, and, as I have listened to those Debates, I have been reminded of the old question that used to be in dispute among philosophers as to whether it is the hen or the egg which comes first.

All parties should be concerned to try to place agriculture upon a better footing and make an endeavour to secure a more prosperous future for the industry. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and those sitting on the Liberal benches seem to take the view that all you have to do in order to bring back prosperity to agriculture is to alter the tenure of land and the system of marketing. Those sitting on this side of the House believe that it can only be done by concentrating efforts on a solution of the problem of prices and seeing what can be done to make agriculture profitable to those on the land, who at the present time are scarcely able to secure an existence at all. That is the fundamental difference between the two sides of the House, and that difference is fully borne out by the agricultural measures which we have been discussing this week.

Let me remind the House what it is that this Measure proposes. It proposes to set up demonstration farms. That experiment has no bearing whatever on the problem of how to make both ends meet with which the farmers are faced. For whose benefit has this Bill been framed? It is not for the benefit of smallholders or allotment holders. As a matter of fact, it is no use to them to have demonstration farms. This Measure is of no particular advantage to existing holders of land who are farming on a large scale. The fact remains in spite of the Prime Minister's strictures that the people on the land know more about their business than anything that can be taught them by right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite.

10.0 p.m.

With regard to smallholders, it is agreed that there is some advantage in developing that movement. The Minister of Agriculture has told us that this Measure will settle 700 families per annum on the land. That statement shows how useless this Measure will be as a relief to unemployment. When we come to the question of allotments, many of us cannot help thinking that, good as the movement is, and desirous as we are of helping, the Government cannot base their Measure on the success of an experiment carried out under special circumstances in South Wales. What applies there does not apply equally well in other parts of the country. The Minister of Agriculture always seems to me to be in doubt as to whether he is the Minister of Agriculture or whether he is, as in former days, following the medical profession. He seems to say to the agricultural industry, "You are very sick, take this pill, and it will do you good." In my view, the agricultural industry requires a strong chest protector against the foreign winds that come across the seas. Instead of giving us protection of that kind, the right hon. Gentleman prescribes a red pill labelled "nationalisation."

You cannot find anyone in an agricultural constituency who wants this Measure. The only people who appear to want it are the theorists who sit on the benches opposite. We on this side object to the Measure, first of all, because it is hopelessly bureaucratic, and will promote a great increase in the number of Government officials. That is inherent in the development of a Socialist policy and we expect it from them; but we are sorry to see them supported in this by the Liberal party who ought to know better than to desert their former policy of being unbending supporters of individuality and freedom. What are the Liberals playing at in regard to this Measure? Our first objection to the Bill is to the bureaucratic methods which are bound to follow from all Measures of this kind.

Our second objection is that the Minister of Agriculture is well known as the champion spender, and in this policy he is being aided and abetted by the Leader of the Liberal party, the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) who has already told us that there is a great deal of money to he spent which the Treasury will not see again. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us this afternoon that he did not expect that the "expenditure under this Bill would be entirely remunerative." Our trouble is that it is going to be frightfully expensive in the opposite direction. The Minister of Agriculture said that he expected to get a great deal from the Treasury and that he was sorry that he did not ask for more. I do not think the present Chancellor of the Exchequer while he is in office will allow the Minister of Agriculture to run away with too much of his cash. We have been told by the Minister that anybody who can make 3 per cent. interest on money invested in land will be doing very well, and that the State will do very well if it can get a similar return.

Another point to which attention must be directed is the powers that are to be found in Clause 3 of the Bill. This point will be dealt with more adequately by other speakers, but we must remember that the Minister is taking powers which it is an outrage to confer upon any Department. The primary object of this Measure seems to wobble between the relief of unemployment and land settlement. At the present time, it does not incline much in either direction. We find that the number of unemployed at the present time is 2,624,000, and that total is increasing at the rate of 30,000 per week. There is nothing in this Bill commensurate with the problem with which the Government is faced. It is a bad Bill. It cannot help agriculture. It cannot help the agricultural worker. It certainly cannot help the farmer, and it cannot make farming pay. It is undoubtedly going to threw a great burden on the taxpayer, and hurry on the national bankruptcy to which we are rapidly heading under the present Government. It is the worst of all forms of legislation, because it is a hybrid between the Liberal party plan and the Socialist party plan. It is a Measure fathered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), brought into the World by the professional skill of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Agriculture—who, after all, as a one-time Liberal himself, can recognise its parentage—and nurtured through all its stages by the Government maid-of-all-work, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who applied the necessary ginger from the Socialist side. It is a bad Bill, and when you, Sir, put the Question, those of us who sit on these benches will shout "No" with the utmost conviction, and will go into the Lobby perfectly certain that we are doing the right thing.


I do not think there has ever been any doubt as to the attitude which the Liberal party will take on this Bill. We support a good thing when we get the chance. We have given it every facility that it was in our power to give at every stage, and those of us who were on the Committee upstairs imposed upon ourselves a self-denying ordinance so that the passage of this Bill might not be delayed through any fault of our own. But we welcome the Bill principally because it is a Measure to relieve unemployment and to regenerate the countryside, or, perhaps I should say, a Measure which can relieve unemployment. We do not attach quite the same importance to Clause 1 of the Bill as bon. Members above the Gangway appear to do. We have had a great deal of discussion on that Clause, and we are still rather puzzled as to what its purpose is. The demonstration farms are to extend and supplement the work done by the local authorities, the universities, and the agricultural colleges in the way of experiments, testing out new machinery, and popularising modern methods of farming. Then, in the next stage of the Bill, we get a provision which deals with drainage and reclamation, and, if all these purposes are to be achieved in Clauses 2 and 3.

We are a little puzzled as to what is the purpose of Clause 1, but it certainly has this advantage for hon. Members above the Gangway. Those of them who see dispossessed Kulaks in every corner, and the hand of Stalin in every Clause of the Bill, can represent it. as being nothing less than the beginning of the Russian system of farming in this country, but I think we can rest assured that Stalin would disdain an experiment on this scale. But it has an advantage also for hon. Members opposite. They can claim it as another stage in their slow but sure progress towards the Socialist state. They can say that it is not so much an experiment in large-scale farming as an experiment in small-scale Socialism. We feel about it that "if it'll doe nae quid it'll doe nae hairm." We are not so enthusiastic about this particular Clause, but we feel that its disadvantages are outweighed by the second part of the Bill.

The main and the primary purpose of this Bill is we think, the regeneration of the countryside. Hon. Members on these benches have consistently and persistently advocated a "back to the land" policy since the days before the War, and the need for it was not quite so urgent then as it is to-day. I think it is admitted on all hands that the case for such a movement has never been so forcible as it is to-day, when we have 90 per cent. of our population crowded into the towns, under 7 per cent. scattered in the countryside, and 2,500,000 out of work. Many of these men will never be restored to their old industries, and it is essential to provide a new outlet for their labour. Everyone says that they are agreed on the principle of land settlement, but when it comes to apply those principles, there is not the same unanimity. The right hon. Gentleman the leader of the Opposition said, in a pronouncement which he made some time ago: I regard it as vital that the great basic industry of agriculture should not merely be preserved, but restored to a more prosperous condition as an essential balancing element in the economic and social life of the country. That cannot be done while the population is distributed as it is to-day, and it is equally certain that you cannot restore the equilibrium unless you transfer a great deal of the weight from one scale to the other. But there is a sort of defeatist attitude about land settlement on the benches above the Gangway. Hon. Members above the Gangway are full of gloomy prophecies and fore-bodings. There is a sort of idea that you cannot make the urban worker into an agriculturist unless he be born again, except of course in the Dominions. There the impossible becomes the possible, and even the miner, if he be in Saskatchewan or Assiniboia, will, somehow or other, adapt himself to a country life. But it is a very different proposition to settle miners on the British countryside. You may send them to training centres, you may give them every facility, but, somehow or other, it is going to be almost impossible for them to adapt themselves to a country life. And yet it is a very curious thing that the history of the past few years has shown us how fatally easy it is for an agricultural labourer, without any training whatsoever, to adapt himself to an urban occupation.

Hon. Members above the Gangway say that there will be failures. Of course, there will be failures. The hon. Member who has just sat down said that my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George said that some of this money would never be seen again by the Treasury. I do not defend the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—I think he is quite capable of doing that himself. But I would say that in this case, as, I think, in many other cases, he is facing realities. Of course, there will be failures. You can never effect a material change in the balance of population unless you are prepared to face risks, and also to face a certain amount of loss.

At the same time, we had one very serious objection to the Bill as it was originally drafted, and that was that the agricultural labourer was excluded from the benefits that were to be given to others. The people who know about the land were to be excluded, and the people who know less or nothing about the land were to be given special facilities to settled in the countryside. We believe that that discrimination, if it had been made, would have given rise to a very great sense of injustice among the agricultural workers in the country.

Everyone is glad that the unemployed, who have been through hard and bitter times, should have this opportunity of reinstatement and a fresh chance in life; but it would have been neither equitable nor just to do it at the expense of the lowest paid worker in industry. It would have been a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. We are not told whether it created any ill feeling between them, but there are not many of us in the apostolic succession, and I feel quite sure that this would have created a deep and abiding resentment between the unemployed man and woman and the agricultural worker, which we think would have been justified. Many of these labourers have, after all, been anxious and eager to get a smallholding for years, and they have not had the capital to enable them to do so. It is not reasonable to expect that an agricultural labourer can save enough out of 31s. a week to secure a holding, to equip it, and to maintain it for that first year which, after all, is the trial year. However frugal, however self-denying they may be, it is impossible for them to do so. Under this Bill they would have been passed over, and all that financial assistance and all the benefits which they have been awaiting would have been given to others.

We are very glad that the Committee upstairs and this House have accepted, without Division, the Clause which brings the agricultural labourer into this Bill I know that the right hon. Gentleman had grave misgivings about it at one time. He had many fears. We think that they were exaggerated. He warned us that he might find it necessary to hedge the Clause round with safeguards. I believe that, if the feeling in the Committee upstairs had been reciprocated in this House, those safeguards would have been blown sky high, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has, instead, decided to throw them to the winds himself. I think it is good that this, the first measure of justice that has been given to the agricultural labourer should not be given as a half measure with a grudge, but as a whole measure with a good grace. The right hon. Gentleman said in the Committee upstairs that he did not want to be a party to offering to men something that he could not supply. I do hope that he is not going to be guided in this matter by the principle of Many are called, but few are chosen. Even if the whole of the 2,500,000 work-less, and the 200,000 agricultural workers—which was the figure that the right hon. Gentleman quoted—were settled on the land, the percentage of our population on the land would still be less than it is in Belgium. I hope very much that he will make his calculations on a broad basis.

We believe this new Clause is justified from an unemployment point of view After all, for half-a-century we have had the workers moving from the countryside into the towns, simply because there is no inducement to them to remain on the land. We think this Bill in its original form would have done nothing to check that migration; indeed, it might have encouraged it, because it would have been, perhaps, the only chance the agricultural labourers would have had of securing holdings. It would at least have made them eligible for a holding. It may be said that by this Bill you are denuding the countryside of the ordinary agricultural worker. I know of no policy that could be devised that would do that more effectively than the policy which we have been pursuing for the past few years, a policy which has decimated many villages in many parts of the country as effectively as any plague could possibly have done. It may be argued that this has a very negligible effect on the actual figures of unemployment, yet, when you compare two figures which I should like to give the House, it has a very great significance. The first is that, during the peak period, 12,000 labourers on an average have left the land every year. The second is that in very nearly two years the Government have only succeeded in providing work for 86,000 men, and yet in those two years 24,000 labourers have left the land.

There is one fact which the Ministry's returns show which is more ominous than any other. It is that in the last nine years the regular male workers on the land under 21 have declined by 23 per cent. I think the House will agree that that figure proves more accurately than. any argument could do that the young men will not be satisfied with a career which starts and ends, as far as they can see, with a wage of 31s. So in ever-increasing numbers they make their effective protest by going to seek at least a better fortune in the towns, and, whether they are successful in obtaining work or not, either way they make longer the queue outside the Employment Exchange. We think it is worth a good deal to give these men an inducement to stay on the land.

We on these benches congratulate the Minister on his courage in bringing forward this Bill. Whether it will be an effective Measure to deal with unemployment depends upon him and, to a greater extent, upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is master of all the forms of intimidation that are known. As far as I can see, the Trade Disputes Act of 1927 has not affected his form very much. We hope there will be no peaceful picketing of the right hon. Gentleman at the doors of the Treasury. We believe it is a good machine, but we hope that it will not he kept in the garage, that it will not he merely for the show room to show what the Labour Government can do, but that it will be used to carry large numbers of these rather weary and disillusioned travellers to a more hopeful destination.

Lieut.-Colonel WINDSOR-CLIVE

We have every cause to complain of the manner in which the Government have dealt with this Bill. After entrusting the Chairman of the Committee upstairs with the power of the Kangaroo Closure, they ought to have given ample time for a discussion of this Bill on the Report stage. It is obvious that they have not done so, because here we are with only one hour and 20 minutes left for the Third Reading of the Bill. We have had to press two days' work into one, and have an all-night sitting as well. During that all-night sitting I do not think that the Minister's handling of the Bill was good. He might have shortened our proceedings during the night very considerably if he had accepted at once a certain Amendment. for which he allowed the House two hours' discussion. Also, during last Wednesday night, there might have been a good deal less talk if we had had more assistance from the Law Officers of the Crown. We are delighted to see the learned Attorney-General make one of his rare visits to the Treasury Bench during the course of this Bill. I am afraid that not even the eloquent speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland can bring good into this Bill, although if there was anything good in it the delightful speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) would have done it.

I object to this Bill primarily because it involves such a very large expenditure which we cannot afford and which gives, as far as I can see, no corresponding benefit to agriculture. Surely, it ought to be an accepted principle that there should be no increase in national expenditure except what is essential to give assistance to productive industry. This Bill certainly does not perform that function. It does nothing whatever to make farming pay. I believe the provision for large-scale farming to be entirely unnecessary in this country. The only certain result which we know will come from it will be that there will be a reduction in the number of men employed on the land. The Debate on the Amendment to omit the word "let" in Clause 1 (2, c) showed very clearly that by this Bill there is being established machinery which can lead to nationalisation. The hon. Member for Anglesey rather taunted us with the bogey of Stalin. We cannot get Stalin all at once. Is this not the first step in that direction?

Under Clauses 2 and 3 there is provision for the expenditure of £5,700,000. I make no apology for repeating what has been said before on this Bill. I do not see the use of expending all this money to recondition land which cannot properly be cultivated when you have done it. If the Government would take steps to fulfil their own pledge to make farming pay, it would not be necessary to spend so much public money on reconditioning the land. With regard to smallholders, the hon. Lady said that we were defeatists and pessimists in regard to the subject. If we look at the plight of so many of these people who have spent many years upon the land, we have some justification for being rather pessimistic about it at present. She said that we only applauded smallholdings in the Dominions, but, at any rate, the Dominions see to it that their producers are not exposed to the full blast of foreign competition. This Bill does nothing whatever to make farming pay. That being so, I oppose it on the ground that it is a very gross waste of public money.


At this late hour and with so short a time available for the Third Reading Debate it is impossible to attempt to deal with the vicious proposals in this Bill. I wish to devote the few moments at my disposal to a protest against the methods which the Government have used to drive the Bill through the House of Commons. We all know that the origin of this Bill was not in any way agricultural. It was purely political. We politicians are sometimes said to be rather self-centred, but no one, however satisfied he may be with his political convictions, on the other side of the House can be under any delusions that this Bill has got any agricultural opinion behind it. It is criticised by the overwhelming mass of those who live by the land. But the opposition of the agricultural industry has only stimulated the Government in their determination to force the Bill through and to defeat any attempt at argument by means of the Kangaroo and the Closure. This Government, who are always bemoaning their fate as a minority Government, have denied the liberty of Debate in a way that has never been attempted before. [HON. MEMBERS: "You had all night!"] I will come to the all night sitting. That was not free discussion. That was a way of preventing public knowledge of what is proposed in this Bill.

There has been no free discussion. There has been very little public ventilation of the dangers involved to the agricultural industry by the proposals in the Bill. We are accustomed to the Kangaroo procedure on the Floor of the House, but in connection with this Bill it has been applied under unprecedented conditions upstairs. After curtailment of debate in Committee upstairs, we naturally expected that there would at least be a normal opportunity of discuss- ing the Bill on the Floor of the House, but the Government, after the extraordinary procedure upstairs, demanded that a Bill which had taken 12 days in Committee should be given only three days for the remaining stages on the Floor of the House. It was impossible, even with the utmost efforts to avoid any kind of unnecessary debate, to compress the discussion into so short a period. We finally got four days. How did the Government compress the Debate into this very short period? They forced us to sit for nine hours after the normal time for the rising of the House—more than equivalent to a full Parliamentary day.

The Minister of Agriculture has got, as we all know, a very disarming manner, but if you cover the tyres of a steam roller with velvet you do not in any way prevent its crushing effect. His method has been absolutely to stifle discussion. He gave away his methods in the early hours of the morning, when we sat up all night. He told us that Clauses 1, 2 and 3 were the most important part of the Bill. He secured that important part of the Bill, or a very great part of it, at a time when there could be no adequate Press report, and when the House was in no physical condition to give proper consideration to it. We were considering Clause (1) from 11 o'clock till 2; Clause (2) from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.; and Clause (3) from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. And we are to have two Government speeches on the Third Reading Debate, which is to last one hour and 20 minutes. I do not remember any Government Bill being supported on Third Reading by two Government speeches. The history of this Bill in this House will, I hope, be realised when it reaches another place—[Interruption.] I am glad to be able to stress the stifling of Parliamentary Debate by the methods adopted in connection with this Bill for the information of both agriculturists in the country and the other place, so that they may realise that the Government has arbitrarily refused the normal right of the House of Commons to deliberate this Measure, and may give it their special consideration.

The Bill retains all its original blemishes. Part I is absolutely useless for the object proposed, the assistance of agriculture. Where experiment can be usefully applied it has already been carried out, and there is no case for this large experiment, this large expenditure on what is called large scale farming; and in any case a tenth part of the £1,000,000 proposed would be ample to test Professor Orwin's theories. The way to get land reconditioned is to make it pay, not to pour out public money regardless of an economic return. The provision for reconditioning land has never received any detailed examination on the Floor of the House. We were only able under the Kangaroo to propose to leave out the whole sub-section, but the most dangerous innovation is to lay it down that all this money can be spent, without any economic justification, but merely if in the opinion of the Minister reconditioning and drainage is necessary to enable the land to be used satisfactorily. The only possible way of testing whether public money should be poured out to improve the condition of the land is to gauge the return which can be expected, and it is an absolutely damning condition of this Bill that this money can be poured out, not in order to get any economic return but simply because the Minister is of the opinion that poor land can be improved.

The Minister of Agriculture is vindicating his well-earned and well-established reputation as a financial megalomaniac. He scorns to deal with any financial unit less than £1,000,000. In the first part of the Bill he goes in for round numbers, such as £6,000,000. Of course the 11/80ths condition about Scotland will compel him to descend to a fraction of a million. We believe that all this money is going to be wasted, that there is no justification for this uneconomic expenditure on large-scale experiments and reconditioning of land in these very difficult financial times. I do not think it has been adequately realised outside Parliament that the £6,700,000 under Part I of the Bill is a mere fleabite of the unlimited expenditure which can be incurred under Part II. We have never succeeded in getting from the Minister any information as to the amount which he is going to spend or the rate at which he proposes to carry out his powers.

To-night we have been told, in a very effective speech from below the Gangway, that the Liberal party, though they do not altogether like Part I, look on Part II as a very good thing. The Government have been given very strong support by the Guardian Angel who is speaking on behalf of a party which is the real author of this Bill. We can assume that the warmth and shelter of those wings are being held over the Government only because the Government are going to carry out the programme of the Liberal party. We had figures given in the Liberal programme of 100,000 and even 200,000 families to be settled on the land. Under this Bill every thousand families so settled will cost at least £1,000,000. So if we are to have 200,000 families settled it means an expenditure of £200,000,000.

We were told by the Financial Secretary to-day—to summarise a rather complicated financial statement—that for every £20,000,000 expended the taxpayer would have to face an annual expenditure for 20 years of £1,000,000. So if we are to spend money to re-establish on the land 200,000 families, we shall have for 20 years at the peak period an annual expenditure of no less than £10,000,000, borne upon the Vote for Part II of the Bill alone. We believe that there is nothing in the Bill to help the agriculturist in his present difficulty. There is very little left in the Bill after the acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesea (Miss Lloyd George) to provide any assistance in the matter of unemployment, because quite properly, after that Amendment, the first consideration must be given to those who live on the land. At a moment when public opinion demands that there should be a decrease in our present expenditure in order to give our industries a chance of re-establishing themselves, this Bill would throw on us a burden of huge and growing financial commitments. It is an interesting first-fruit of the Liberal and Socialist delusion that our agricultural and industrial depression can he cured by borrowing money and spending it on uneconomic purposes.


Before I come to the more controversial portions of the right hon. Gentleman's speech I will, in accordance with my promise, make a short statement to the House with respect to the progress of the allotments part of this scheme. I may say in response to the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) that I have made inquiries and I find that we have every reason to adhere to our original anticipation of providing material for 100,000 allotments. It is still early in the day to deal with these matters and many authorities have not yet completed their purchases, but, generally speaking, and by the help of all parties, I must say we are receiving the promptest assistance. As a matter of fact, as showing how mistaken some of my Scottish colleagues would have been had they carried that Amendment which would have limited expenditure in Scotland to eleven-eightieths, my information is that Sir William Waterlow to-night accompanied by one of the officers of the Department is on his way to Scotland to buy 1,000 tons of seed potatoes. May I, at his request, make an appeal to Members in every part of the House—because I recognise that Members on all sides are supporting the allotments part of the scheme—that in any districts where the authorities are not yet active in this matter, Members will do their best to stir up those authorities, and will tell those authorities to get into association with our Allotments Committee.

With regard to the progress of smallholdings, I do not commit myself to the kind of figures which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury St. Edmunds. (Mr. Guinness) mentioned. First may I say that the whole House will agree with me in paying a tribute to the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) who presented her case with such singular felicity. I think I may say that we recognised some sparks from an old and rather familiar anvil. Whilst as I say I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman in his predictions I would take upon myself the responsibility of saying, at this last moment, that I recognise that, in providing a large number of smallholdings, you are embarking upon an enterprise which necessarily requires time for fulfilment and I sincerely hope, whatever may happen hereafter, that this great project will not be interrupted. We propose, so far as we can to start it upon lines which everyone will recognise as sound, and which we hope will be continued, but, with the best will in the world, it takes time first to select your applicants and then to obtain the land—much of the land in this country being only vacated at Michaelmas and Lady Day—and when you have obtained possession of the land, to subdivide it and build houses and so forth. I wish the House to recognise that we are fully conversant with these realities and we know that they will take time, but the fact that they exist only means that we must tackle them with courage and with vision beforehand.

As far as we are concerned, while recognising the physical limitations in the early days, we intend to do our very best to give full effect to the intention of Parliament in this matter. I am quite sure that if in the early months or years we can develop a system which is sound in its working and in its machinery as regards equipment, land, the provision of staffs and capital, we shall have started an organisation which not even a hostile Government will dare to bring to a standstill. I do not take the view of this Bill that the right hon. Gentleman does; nor does the majority of the House. I cannot understand how it is arrived at because, notwithstanding all the denunciations we have heard, every Member of the House will recognise that no argument has been addressed to convince us that it was wrong to try to bring unemployed men, where suitable, to work on the land. The right hon. Gentleman took the gross cost of smallholdings, but I want him to bear in mind what we are setting against it. If a man is equipped with a holding, supposing it does take £1,000, what have you got? You have a house and a home and land, equipment, and a self-supporting citizen no longer drawing unemployment benefit. You have to put all these things against the cost. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that when he described this as pouring out public money, he was using terms which do not apply.

I regard this as a first-class national investment. If right hon. Gentlemen think, as their contention seems to mean, that it is a better investment to leave these poor fellows banging about the towns without giving them a chance and simply paying them so much a week to do nothing—if that is the issue between us, I am proud to take up the standpoint which we on our side take up. From beginning to end there has never been a vestige of alternative constructive suggestion. I thank the hon. Lady for her great contribution. Let us look at the other side. Being bereft of arguments with which to defeat the Bill, the Opposition has fallen back on metaphor. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) conjured up to his aid some vague inhabitants of a blessed region, while another hon. Member, in denouncing the Bill, said it was the Brobdingnagian output of a Lilliputian brain. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley), in a speech to, which he treated the country last week, thoroughly let himself go, and said, more or less, that we were fitting disciples of Mephistopheles who had better look to his antlers lest they were outdone by those of the Minister of Agriculture.

I came to the conclusion when I listened to these diatribes, that in Committee upstairs and on the Floor of the House we thoroughly defeated the Opposition. The fact is that they had no case left against the Bill, and had to fall back on this kind of thing. They had to call to their aid Gulliver and Faust and other people of the mystical world. This House has not heard, either on the Floor of the House or in Committee, any reasoned case against taking waste land, and putting it to use. It has never heard a case against taking land that needs draining, and draining it. It has never heard a case against taking an unemployed man who is fit and his wife, and giving them training, and enabling them to earn a, living out of cultivating land that needs cultivating. Finally, just when we are going to send it along the passage to another place—which I hope will appreciate its transcendent merits—sent with the approval of the Committee, fortified by examination in this House, and with no material matter ever left undiscussed, they now, at the eleventh hour and, shall I say, at the 58th minute, tell us that their Lordships will deal with it. The right hon. Gentleman anticipates the result; in other words, he sends his orders to their Lordships. We accept that challenge. If those who have the land refuse it to the landless, it will not be the first time they have made the attempt but I will undertake to say that, as before, that endeavour will bring retribution. The right hon. Gentleman's challenge, as his denunciation, leaves us cold. This is a good Bill, and people know it is a good Bill, and I hope that by a large majority we shall give it a Third Reading.

Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

The House divided: Ayes, 282; Noes, 226.

Division No. 144.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Gray, Milner Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Mansfield, W.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Marcus, M.
Aitchlson, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Markham, S. F.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Marley, J.
Alpass, J. H. Groves, Thomas E. Marshall, Fred
Angell, Sir Norman Grundy, Thomas W. Mathers, George
Arnott, John Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Matters, L. W.
Aske, Sir Robert Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Maxton, James
Attlee, Clement Richard Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Melville, Sir James
Ayles, Walter Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Middleton, G.
Baker, John(Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mills, J. E.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Milner, Major J.
Barnes, Alfred John Hardie, George D. Montague, Frederick
Barr, James Harris, Percy A. Morgan, Dr. H. S.
Batey, Joseph Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Morley, Ralph
Bellamy, Albert Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Haycock, A. W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hayday, Arthur Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Benson, G. Hayes, John Henry Mort, D. L.
Blindell, James Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Mosley, Lady C. (Stokn-on-Trent)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.) Muff, G.
Bowen, J. W. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Muggeridge, H. T.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Murnin, Hugh
Broad, Francis Alfred Herriotts, J. Naylor, T. E.
Brockway, A. Fenner Hirst, G. H. (York, W.R.,Wentworth) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bromfield, William Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Noel Baker, P. J.
Brooke, W. Hoffman, P. C. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Brothers, M. Hollins, A. Oldfield, J. R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hopkin, Daniel Cliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hore-Belisha, Leslie Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Buchanan, G. Horrabin, J. F. Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Burgess, F. G. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Palin, John Henry
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Palmer, E. T.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Perry, S. F.
Calne, Derwent Hall. Isaacs, George Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Cameron, A. G. Jenkins, Sir William Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Cape, Thomas John, William (Rhondda, West) Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Johnston, Thomas Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Charleston, H. C. Jones, F. Llewellyn. (Flint) Pole, Major D. G.
Chater, Daniel Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Potts, John S.
Clarke, J. S. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Price, M. P.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphiily) Pybus, Percy John
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Quibell, D. J. K.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Compton, Joseph Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Rathbone, Eleancr
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Raynes, W. R.
Daggar, George Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Richards, R.
Dallas, George Kinley, J. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Dalton, Hugh Kirkwood, D. Rlley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Knight, Holford Ritson, J.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lang, Gordon Romeril, H. G.
Day, Harry Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lathan, G. Rothschild, J.
Dukes, C. Law, Albert (Bolton) Rowson, Guy
Duncan, Charles Law, A. (Rossendale) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Ede, James Chuter Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Edmunds, J. E. Lawson, John James Sanders, W. S.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sawyer, G. F.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Leach, W. Scott, James
Egan, W. H. Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Scrymgeour, E.
Elmley, Viscount Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Scurr, John
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Lees, J. Sexton, Sir James
Foot, Isaac Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Forgan, Dr. Robert Lloyd, C. Ellis Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Freeman, Peter Logan, David Gilbert Sherwood, G. H.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Longbottom, A. W. Shield, George William
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Longden, F. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Lunn, William Shillaker, J. F.
Glbbins, Joseph Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shinwell, E.
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gill, T. H. Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Simmons, C. J.
Gillett, George M. McElwee, A. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Glassey, A. E. McEntee, V. L. Sitch, Charles H.
Gossling, A. G. McKinlay, A. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Gould, F. MacLaren, Andrew Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Granville, E. McShane, John James Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Tout, W. J. White, H. G.
Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Townend, A. E. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Sorensen, R. Vaughan, David Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Stamford, Thomas W. Viant, S. P. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Stephen, Campbell Walkden, A. G. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Walker, J. Wilton C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Strauss, G. R. Wallace, H. W. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Sullivan, J. Watkins, F. C. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sutton, J. E. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Wise, E. F.
Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) Wellock, Wilfred Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Welsh, James (Paisley) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Thurtle, Ernest Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Tinker, John Joseph West, F. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Toole, Joseph Westwood, Joseph Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr Paling.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Croom-Johnson, R. P. Little, Sir Ernest Graham
Albery, Irving James Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Llewellin, Major J. J.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Cunllffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'I.W.) Dalkeith, Earl of Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Long, Major Hon. Eric
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Davies, Dr. Vernon Lymington, Viscount
Ashley, U.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil) McConnell, Sir Joseph
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Atholl, Duchess of Dawson, Sir Philip Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Atkinson, C. Dixey, A. C. Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Ba[...]ie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Margesson, Captain H. D.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Duckworth, G. A. V. Marjoribanks, Edward
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Eden, Captain Anthony Meller, R. J.
Balniel, Lord Edmondson, Major A. J. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Elliot, Major Walter E. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Beaumont, M. W. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Wetton-s.M.) Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Everard, W. Lindsay Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Bettorton, Sir Henry B. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Ferguson, Sir John Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Fermoy, Lord Muirhead, A. J.
Bird, Ernest Roy Fielden, E. B. Nelson, Sir Frank
Boothby, R. J. G. Flson, F. G. Clavering Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Ford, sir P. J. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Nield, Ht. Hon. Sir Herbert
Boyce, Leslie Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Connor, T. J.
Bracken, B. Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton O'Neill, Sir H.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gibson, c. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Ormshy-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Brass, Captain Sir William Glyn, Major R. G. C. Peake, Capt. Osbert
Briscoe, Richard Georga Gower, Sir Robert Penny, Sir George
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Grace, John Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Nawb'y) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Power, Sir John Cecil
Buchan, John Greene, W. P. Crawford Pownall, Sir Assheton
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Purbrick, R.
Butler, R. A. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Ramsbotham, H.
Butt, Sir Alfred Gritten, W. G. Howard Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Campbell, E. T. Gunston, Captain D. W. Remer, John R.
Carver, Major W. H. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hail, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hamilton, Sir George (llford) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hammersley, S. S. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesam)
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S) Hanbury, C Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Cazalet, Captain victor A. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ross, Major Ronald D.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Haslam, Henry C. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur p. Salmon, Major I.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Christle, J. A. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Savery, S. S.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hurd, Percy A. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Iveagh, Countess of Simms, Major-General J.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Bellst)
Colman, N. C. D. Kindersley, Major G. M. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Colville, Major D. J. Knox, Sir Alfred Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lamb, Sir J. O. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Smithest, Waldron
Cranborne, Viscount Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, H[...]gh Peak) Somerset, Thomas
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Southby, Commander A. R. J. Train, J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Withers, Sir John James
Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Turton, Robert Hugh Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) Womersley, W. J.
Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S. Worthington- Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Warrender, Sir Victor Wright, Brig. Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Waterhouse, Captain Charles Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Wayland, Sir William A.
Thomson, Sir F. Wells, Sydney R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Tinne, J. A. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Commander Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell and Major Sir George Hennessy.
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Todd, Capt. A. J. Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.