§ Sir LAMING WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I beg to move,That this House censures the Government for its policy of continuous additions to the public expenditure at a time when the avoidance of all new charges and strict economy in the existing services are necessary to restore confidence and to promote employment.'4.0 p.m.
This Motion, which stands in the name of my right hon. Friends and myself, is a Motion of Censure on the Government for their deliberate and reckless policy of increased expenditure, due both to their legislation and to their administration at a time when the most rigid economy is the greatest need of the nation. The Government persist in their policy, although there are clear signs that it is creating a want of confidence both at home and abroad. Exports have fallen and imports of raw materials required by industry have been reduced; the numbers of unemployed have more than doubled since the Government took office, and there is no way of materially reducing the appalling increase in unemployment except by recreating confidence amongst those engaged in industry. Confidence arises from the expectation of being able to carry on trade at a profit. Without confidence there can he no enterprise, and without enterprise there can be no revival of employment. The Government deserve censure for their sinning against the light. The final words of the Budget speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year were addressed to the industrialist in the hope of giving him encouragement, and, perhaps, the House will allow me to call their attention to a few words. After saying that he hoped no further increase of taxation would need to be imposed next year, he said:An essential factor in ameliorating unemployment is the restoration of a spirit of confidence and enterprise among those now responsible for conducting industry and commerce. And to encourage that spirit of confidence and enterprise it is right that, so far as is humanly possible, they should know the probable full extent of their tax burden in immediately ensuing years.He added:Although I am optimistic of the future, I do not expect a sudden and immediate change to our former prosperity. But I hope, nay I am confident, that when I stand at this Box next year I shall be able to submit to the House of Commons a much 428 more cheerful and encouraging statement."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1930; cols. 2681–2, Vol. 237.]What hope has the industrialist of a more cheerful and encouraging statement? Let me remind the House of the expenditure to which the Government are committed—and I will take care to under-state it rather than over-state it. Increased taxation already imposed amounts, in a full year, to £46,000,000. Current legislation will entail a vastly increased expenditure. The Agricultural Land Act, the Education Act, Widows' Pensions, Development Acts, Land Drainage, Housing and some minor Acts together will cost tens of millions of pounds. And there will be a large deficit on the Budget Estimate. Transitional benefit is now costing in the neighbourhood of £40,000,000 a year, as against £12,000,000 or £12,500,000 at which it was estimated. The industrialist who believed the Chancellor of the Exchequer last April now finds that not only will there be no reduction in taxation to cheer and comfort him, but that there is the probability that at least £50,000,000 of additional expenditure will have to be faced, with worse still to come, and if the industrialist gets off with the £50,000,000 increase, he will be lucky.
For example, the Minister of Agriculture will not he satisfied with the cramped limit of expenditure which I have allowed him. He likes to do things on a grand scale, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) no longer chides him for his extravagance. He has even apologised to him for being incompetent. The right hon. Gentleman now is his aider and abettor. Why should we not have the expenditure run up to £100,000,000 to put men on to the land, in addition to those who are already there? Housing, slum clearance and other social services will run away with many more millions. The Minister of Health told us that he would die in the last ditch rather than cut down his expenditure. And who supposes that if subsidies are granted for children at school between the ages of 14 and 15, it will be possible to draw the line at that age? How can they resist the claim of the impoverished widow with younger children to receive a grant, when 429 those better off are obtaining a grant for older children? The industrialist will ask, "Is that all?" He has seen the leader of the Liberal party urging still further expenditure on all sorts of relief work. We shall debate it tomorrow. Meanwhile, we are told that it is not a Vote of Censure. What is it? It looks to me to be suspiciously like a bridge to enable the Labour party and the Liberal party to get together for an orgy of further expenditure. Do not forget that we are already committed by the Government to an expenditure of £150,000,000 on various forms of relief works. A part at least of that will also fall upon the taxes, and the more the industrialist cogitates over the position, the less he likes the prospects.
But there is something much more disquieting—I mean the Government's dealing with the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Two weeks ago the Controller of Finance at the Treasury, Sir Richard Hopkins, put in a Memorandum before the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance, and gave evidence upon it. The Memorandum, in accordance with the ordinary departmental practice, was submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that he authorised its use in evidence as a statement of facts. Surely it is without precedent that the principal financial officer of the Government should make a statement of facts which convicts the Government of a flagrant disregard of the canons of sound finance. Never before has a Chancellor of the Exchequer been condemned by his own officer for pursuing a course recognised to be unsound. The statement in the Memorandum is so serious, so urgent and so fraught with grave consequences to the country, that I make no apology for reading an extract to the House. I propose, if hon. Members will allow me, to read paragraph 4:The fluctuations in the extent of unemployment contrasted with the uniform rate of accrual of the income of the fund renders it inevitable that the current revenue of the fund will at some times be more than adequate and at other times less than adequate to meet current outgoings. It follows that according to orthodox canons the fund should possess a reserve to meet periods of stress; for State borrowing for an unproductive purpose—i.e., an object not producing a monetary yield which will provide the service of the loan—such as the 430 provision of money for unemployment benefit, is recognised to be unsound. In the conditions of to-day that position is unattainable. On the other hand continued State borrowing on the present vast scale without adequate provision for repayment by the fund would quickly call in question the stability of the British financial system. The State has every year to borrow large sums for various productive purposes. This additional borrowing—for purposes other than productive—is now on a scale which in substance obliterates the effect of the Sinking Fund. Apart from the impairment of Government credit which such operations inevitably involve these vast Treasury loans are coming to represent in effect State borrowing to relieve current State obligations at the expense of the future and this is the ordinary and well-recognised sign of an unbalanced Budget.Let us consider those statements for a moment or two. The first charge made is that the State is borrowing money for unproductive purposes in order to relieve current expenditure. That charge is proved. Let me remind the House of the facts, all of which are taken from the evidence placed before the Royal Commission. The Unemployment Insurance Fund is now overspent by nearly £70,000,000, all of which has been borrowed, and Sir Richard Hopkins has warned us that at the present rate a further £50,000,000 may be spent in the course of 1931, making a total of £120,000,000. The Minister of Labour, in November, 1929, came to this House when the overspending amounted to £40,000,000 only, and she told us—advised, no doubt, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that if she went on borrowing up to £50,000,000 or £60,000,000, it would be a dishonest course, because it would be contracting a debt which she saw no possible way of paying. In the early days, former Governments did borrow in the hope that employment would improve. It did improve, and the borrowings were either repaid or largely reduced.
To-day the conditions are quite different. Now the amounts are so large, unemployment is so persistent, that there is no chance of repayment, and yet the Prime Minister told us a few days ago that a Bill is to be introduced to increase the amount which may be borrowed. To prevent the Unemployment Insurance Fund from an actual default, in order that it shall not actually have to stop paying out day by day the benefit to the unemployed, the 431 Chancellor is paying into the Fund £1,000,000 a week all of which is borrowed. His borrowing about equals the Sinking Fund, and, as Sir Richard Hopkins points out, the efficacy of the Sinking Fund is completely obliterated. He has, in fact, suspended the Sinking Fund. Last year he complained that my right hon. Friend had not maintained the Sinking Fund to the extent of £14,500,000, and he put a special Clause in the Finance Act to provide for future deficits. The financial purist who denounced my right hon. Friend for what, after all, was an under-estimate, has himself deliberately and with his eyes open week by week been borrowing £1,000,000; he is using it for current obligations which ought to be met out of revenue, and he shamelessly proposes to continue that course.
Hon. Members may ask whether these payments are being made in pursuance of some contract of insurance which the State would be wrong to vary, some contract which the State cannot vary without a repudiation. No, there is no such excuse. The Government actuary in his evidence made it clear that no provision had been made in the contributions for the payments made to short-time workers, married women, or intermittent workers, and he gave some examples. He showed that such men as coal trimmers, earning £5 to £7 a day—[Interruption.] The evidence is £5 to £7 a day. [Interruption.] I am quoting the evidence that is given in the Treasury Memorandum. It is the actuary's statement, and I will read the exact words which appear in paragraph 8 on page 5:Equally is the payment of benefit to the coal-trimmer who works regularly, and for very long hours, on two or three days in each week, during which he earns from £5 to £7 a day; to the professional football player who is paid £6 10s. a week and is 'unemployed' for four days a week; to the girls and women who have a standing job as meek-end assistants in stores and have probably been deterred from entering domestic service by the attractiveness of such employment combined with unemployment benefit for the rest of the week.The actuary pointed out that more and more people were drawing transitional benefit which is given them without any of the checks attaching to those in regular insurance, and without any of the tests 432 applicable to relief by a public assistance committee, and he added that the benefit would, in fact, become in many cases a pension without it even being realised by Parliament that it was a pension. The Government have known these facts for 18 months at least. During the Debates in November, 1929, and on many subsequent occasions, their attention has been called to these abuses and scandals. The Minister of Labour, in explaining why the Exchequer was to pay for transitional benefit for 12 months, said in November, 1929:The definite objective in view in continuing the transitional period is.… to give the Government time and opportunity to examine how best the able-bodied unemployed, who are new outside the insurance scheme, may be dealt with."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1929; cols. 749–750, Vol. 232.]She said that a Committee had been set up and was at work upon a larger scheme. That is 18 months ago, and, although they knew that these scandals were going on, although they set up a Committee for the purpose of dealing with them, they have done nothing. They have shirked their responsibility, and are now piling up debts at the rate of £1,000,000 a week. It is no answer to say that we cannot strike these people off benefit without giving them something. We cannot let them starve. [An HON. MEMBER: "Would you do it?"] Of course, I would not let them starve, but that does not mean that you ought to go on dealing with them as you are now. It means that you have to face your responsibilities; that is what the Government have refused to do, and that is one of the reasons why I think that the Government ought to be censured. The actuary brings these facts on indisputable evidence to the knowledge of each Member of the House. The Government have the heaviest responsibility, but it is the duty of each one of us, no matter to what party he belongs, to do what he can to save the worker who is paying contributions from a complete collapse of the insurance scheme, and also to save the taxpayer from these abuses.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
Hon. Members may say, "Cannot these borrowings be repaid out of the Insurance 433 Fund?" Any pretence that that is possible at a future date is knocked on the head by the Government actuary. He reports that even if the administration of the Fund is tightened up so that 10 per cent. of those now drawing upon it are struck out of benefit, and even if the benefit were reduced by one-half, the Fund would only regain its equilibrium. There still would be no power to repay any of the loans out of the Fund. To pretend, therefore, that the payments that the Government are making to the Fund are, in fact, loans, is to use a word of the Minister of Labour, "dishonest," and it is unworthy of a self-respecting nation. There are two other charges in the Memorandum to which I wish to refer:Borrowing on the present vast scale.…would quickly call in question the stability of the British financial system…. Borrowing to relieve current State obligations.… is the ordinary and well-recognised sign of an unbalanced Budget.There can he no denial of either of those charges. The stability of the British financial system is in danger. These are not my words. They are not the words of a political opponent. It is a statement of fact given in evidence before a Royal Commission by the principal finance officer of the Treasury. I have known for many months past that Continental financiers have been saying these things, but I have kept silent. They have been withdrawing their balances because they have openly said that they have no confidence in London under a Socialist Government. They cannot understand what has happened to the British and why the British suffer a minority Socialist Government. I did not give currency to these rumours, but now that there is published a Treasury Memorandum given in evidence before a Royal Commission, the position has changed, and it is our duty to speak. It is our duty to bring the facts to light, and the duty of every Member of this House, irrespective of party, to force the Government to remedy the position before it is too late, or to force it to make way for a Government which will—[Interruption.] John Bull has rivals everywhere. Many are envious of London as the financial centre of the world. Hitherto we have deserved to be trusted. Our banking and our financial institutions are unrivalled, but, if we are to maintain our pre-eminence, our public finance 434 must also be unchallengeable. Let me quote from Sir Richard Hopkins again. This time I cannot refer to the Memorandum, I must refer to the "Times" report of the evidence which he gave before the Royal Commission; the whole of it is not in the Memorandum. I quote from him:The question of borrowing for current liabilities is not an academic question, or one which can be settled entirely from the point of view of the internal opinion of this country. All countries when they are going through a period of economic stress and strain are, naturally, watched closely by foreign observers. We ourselves, on many occasions, have passed adverse judgment on foreign countries which did not balance their Budgets. We must expect the same thing to happen to us; and, in the case of a country with so wide international connections as ours, that is a matter which must be continuously borne in mind.Our rivals have already been busy. They have not only watched the position; they have acted. The Chancellor's policy of acute and rapid reduction of the Floating Debt, of which he boasted last year, and his neglect of the orthodox canons of finance concerning the Unemployment Insurance Fund, have had some results. Gold has been withdrawn steadily for months past. Last week M. Moret, President of the Bank of France, referring to the gain by France of £91,000,000 of gold, explained, in polite terms, that gold had been withdrawn from London and lodged in France because its owners thought that Paris was a safer repository than London. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The House is always very fair, but it certainly is not fair that there should be constant interruptions in the speech of a Member of Parliament who is trying to make a rather difficult statement.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I ask the Government what they are going to do. It is no use for the Government to reply that they intend to wait until the Royal Commission has reported. That means a delay of, perhaps, two or three months. It means continuing to borrow £1,000,000 a week for current liabilities. It means an unbalanced Budget. It means a continued depression of the British financial system, both at home and abroad. The Liberal party's Amendment proposes still another Committee, 435 the fourth or fifth. More delay! The facts are admitted. They are stated in the Treasury Memorandum, with the approval of the Chancellor, and in the evidence already given. Now is the time, not for inquiry, but for action. Any delay by the Government is a mere excuse for shirking, for refusing to deal with, the dangerous position they themselves have created.
In the short time the Government have been in office they have done well-nigh irreparable damage. They have added £46,000,000 to the piled-up burden of taxation, and their policy seems likely to add another £50,000,000 to the pile; and by their dishonest dealings with the Unemployment Insurance Fund they are leading the country to the brink of financial disaster. Similar policies have wrecked the finances of Australia. It is comparatively easy for a food-producing, self-supporting country to recover, by a period of rigid economy and self-denial; but our position is very different. While our resources are greater, our very living depends upon the maintenance of international credit. It is essential that confidence should be restored, and restored speedily. It is more urgent now than when the Chancellor made his Budget Speech. It is impossible to exaggerate either the gravity or the urgency of the position. I do not believe that this Government can restore confidence either at home or abroad. I beg the House, in this great emergency, to act as a Council of State. The psychological effect will be immediate. The first step would have been taken. Confidence would be restored. Employment would speedily improve. If the House will act as a Council of State, it will pass this Motion, and I beg it to do so.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
Before I deal directly with the Vote of Censure which has just been submitted I would like to congratulate the Conservative Whips upon their energy in securing the attendance of a sufficient number of Members at an economy Debate to prevent the House being counted out. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must appeal for a quiet hearing for the right hon. Gentleman, just as I appealed in the case of the last speaker.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The genesis of this Motion is very interesting, and quite comic. It will be remembered that a few weeks ago a Tory Member, on a private Member's day, submitted an economy Motion, and that at no time during that Debate were a dozen Conservative Members present in the House. That expression of zeal for economy we learnt later, brought forth enormous and vehement protests from the supporters of the Opposition in all parts of the country, and, indeed, the crisis was so acute that the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), who is at the head of the Conservative organisation, found it necessary to write to the "Times" newspaper. It was a very interesting letter. May I be permitted to read a few sentences? It was written after very severe strictures had been made by the "Times" upon the inaction of the Conservative Members on the occasion to which I have referred. The "Times" had described that incident as being highly discreditable to the Conservative party. The right hon. Member for Edgbaston wrote to try to excuse the non attendance of the Conservative Members on a private Member's Motion, because such occasions, he said, "are always regarded as occasions when Conservative Members can get away from the House to attend social functions." He added that it would have been quite sufficient had they returned to the House to take part in the Division. [Interruption.] He went on to say:The really regrettable feature of this incident is the impression which seems to have been created that the Conservative party do not care about economy, and that they do not mean to enforce it if they have the opportunity. I am convinced the exact opposite is the truth.Then he went on to say:I, for one, would not enter a Government that was not pledged to reduce national expenditure, nor would I remain a member of one which did not carry out such pledge in its first year of office.This Vote of Censure has evidently been put down to prove to the country and the Conservative party that the Conservative leaders in this House are in real earnest upon the subject of economy. For the Tories, with their record of recent extravagance, to come forward as the champions of economy is a piece of shameless Audacity. It is quite true that they have made professions of economy. 437 They did that at the election of 1924. It was one of the outstanding points in the right hon. Gentleman's election address at that time, and in the first King's Speech under the right hon. Gentleman that pledge of economy was repeated. And then what happened? My predecessor in office made a statement in his first Budget to which reference has often been made. He expressed a hope of, an aim at, a reduction of £10,000,000 a year in supply expenditure, and a reduction of £5,000,000 upon the Debt Services. We had the pledge, in the first Session of the Conservative Government, to carry out that policy, and we had the "hope" of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. But what happened? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down charged me with increasing the national taxation by more than £40,000,000. I did that to pay for the extravagance of the previous Government. Only a fraction of that was imposed to meet new commitments by the present Government. The late Government were pledged to economy. In the first year of that Government, they added new expenditure which they estimated would cost £21,700,000 in the next year. The right hon. Member for Edgbaston said he would not enter a Government, he would not remain in a Government for 12 months, which did not carry out its election pledges in regard to economy. He was more responsible than any other Member of the former Government for the increase of expenditure which took place under that Government. Without saying anything at all at the moment on the merits of the Widows' Pensions Act, I would remind the House that that was one of the first Measures. We are censured here for incurring additional expenditure. That Government, pledged to economy, in its first Session, as its first act, incurred expenditure which will put for all time millions a year upon the expenditure of the country. It is quite true that in the following year, faced with a growing expenditure, they introduced an Economy Bill, but the only item of saving in that Bill, apart from the raid on funds already existing, was a reduction in unemployment insurance. Then began the rake's progress. The Government found the Unemployment Insurance Fund practically in a state of solvency. They found it with 438 a debt of only about £5,000,000, and they Left it with a debt of about £36,000,000.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Has not the right hon. Baronet the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) ignored what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has described as "the severest trade blizzard that the world has ever seen." There is not one word about that in the speech to which we have just listened, a blizzard from which not only this country, but other countries are suffering. The Conservative Government had five Budgets, and in 1929 they issued a White Paper in which they claimed a reduction of expenditure of just under £16,000,000. But that was offset by an automatic reduction of war pensions, and there was a reduction of about £18,000,000 for Debt interest. The White Paper issued in 1929 also ignored the very large increases to which the Government were committed, and for which they made no permanent contribution to the revenue. One item was de-rating, and that alone increased national expenditure by £30,000,000 a year.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not going to mix up a transfer from rates to taxes with ordinary expenditure.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
We are dealing with an increase in national taxation, and we are being censured for increasing the national expenditure. Here is an item of £30,000,000 a year which has to be provided out of national taxation. Take unemployment insurance just to make a parallel. Take the parallel between that and what the right hon. Gentleman referred to as a very considerable measure for the relief of local authorities. Suppose that we did not make the contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund which is needed for the relief of local authorities. We are just as much entitled to set that off against national expenditure for unemployment as the right hon. Gentleman is to say that derating was merely a transfer between the local authorities and the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman 439 made what he called a suspense fund by appropriating a Budget deficit which, to use a quotation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, was due "to the instability of British finance." The right hon. Gentleman left us to provide one half of the cost of derating. He provided for this by an extra tax on petrol of about £15,000,000 a year, and the rest had to be found in future years.
If I remember rightly, the right hon. Gentleman expected that there would be an increase in the national revenue in future years and relied on that expected increase to cover the derating deficit. In five years the party which is now censuring the Labour Government for extravagance added to our national commitments and our national expenditure £45,000,000 a year, and they added £32,000,000 to the debt on the Unemployment Insurance Fund. I have omitted from that the coal subsidy of £25,000,000 a year, and the money to meet that subsidy did not fall from Heaven like the Israelites' manna. Every penny of that £25,000,000 had to be provided out of taxation. This is the Tory record, the record of the party which is now censuring us for extravagance and the absence of economy. This is their five years' record. Not only did they do this, but they were proud of it, and they made that record the main ground of their appeal for votes. It will be remembered that some time ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) used very effectively a leaflet issued by the Tory party at the last general election. It was entitled "From Cradle to old age" and was illustrated by the picture of a sleeping child, sleeping so peacefully because from the cradle to old age it had been assured of comfort by the beneficence of the Tory party. This is the leaflet in which the Conservative party say they are proud of their record, and in which they claim that they had spent more money and were prepared to spend more money than any other party in the State. Here is a quotation from the leaflet:During the lifetime of the present Conservative Government expenditure on social services by the State and local authorities increased by £50,000,000. … In 1928 the Conservative Government spent £1,000,000 more on education, £3,000,000 more on housing, £1,000,000 more on health 440 services and £13,000,000 more on pensions than the Socialist Government spent in 1924.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) in his last manifesto in 1929 said:Our opponents, in all their schemes to gain votes, never count the cost in cash or credit.Those words could be more appropriately applied to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley and his party.
We are assured that if the Conservative party are returned to power which, according to the right hon. Gentleman is necessary in order to save the financial fabric of this country, they have promised to go on spending even more lavishly than before. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley has already pledged himself, out of public money, to give enormous subsidies to the cereal growers of this country. We have also been told that a tariff on imported wheat is no good, that it would not give the farmers enough, and so the right hon. Gentleman is going to give them a subsidy between the market price and what it costs the farmer to grow wheat. At the present time the difference is 30s. a quarter. May I point out that you cannot confine that subsidy to wheat. It will have to be given to oats as well—[An HON. MEMBER: "And barley!"]—which is a more important product in this country than wheat. Therefore, if the subsidy is to be based on the present margin between the market price and the cost of production—remember that the Government are being censured for extravagance and are being called upon not to incur any additional expenditure—the Conservative party after the next election, if they are returned to power, will have to raise an additional £20,000,000 a year as a subsidy for cereal growers in this country.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's confined his remarks almost exclusively to one particular item of national expenditure which I admit is an appallingly high item, and is costing the national Exchequer something like £100,000,000 a year. I admit the seriousness of that item, and I admit that it cannot go on in the form in which it is being raised and expended at the present time. We realised the serious- 441 ness of this matter months ago, and we tried to apply the appeal which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's made in his closing remarks. We wanted to refer this to a Council of State, and I agree that this is a matter which no one Government can settle. The question was referred to a committee and the Conservative party sent their representative to that committee, and so did the Liberals. What was the result? The committee failed to make any recommendation.
§ Sir HENRY BETTERTON
Since the right hon. Gentleman has referred directly to a committee of which I was a member, may I say that before we sent in any report at all, and before we made any recommendation, the whole thing was referred to a Royal Commission.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Hon. Members opposite are always very ready to take the uncorroborated ipse dixit of one of their own members. [Interruption.] I can well understand their indignation. The two hon. Members who were members of the committee made no contribution whatever to the deliberations of that committee which was of the slightest use.
§ Major ELLIOT
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has done us the honour of saying that we made no contribution whatever to the deliberations of the committee which was of the slightest value. I challenge the Minister of Labour, who is sitting on the Front Bench opposite, to corroborate his statement.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
What I said was perfectly clear. I was looking forward with great expectation and hope to the deliberations of that committee, and I got in the reports of that committee nothing of a practical character. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the members of that committee came to certain agreements, and that the breakdown occurred because there was a difference, not on what ought to be done, but on when it should be done; and that when the Government representatives proposed a Royal Commission, the members of the other parties could not agree with that?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
It is perfectly obvious why the representatives of the Government proposed that. It was because no other proposal of a practical character had been put forward. [Interruption.]
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
Would the right hon. Gentleman, so that the House may judge, publish the report which my hon. and gallant Friend and I made?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Could we have the right hon. Gentleman's answer again? I could not hear a word. Obviously what?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
Yes, Sir, I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask whether it is in order to refer to a document, as the right hon. Gentleman has done, without the House having seen it?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I did not understand what the document was to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
The document referred to was the report made by my hon. and gallant Friend and myself to the Government.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
On a point of Order. May I ask your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to refer to a document, which he said he had read, without producing it? [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Of course, it is a well-known rule of the House that, if documents are quoted, they should be presented. In this case, there was no quotation.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Before this lively interlude, I was referring to the seriousness of the position in regard to unemployment, and I said that I agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman said in his concluding remarks, that this is a question to be dealt with by no one party, but that it would have to be dealt with in co-operation by all the parties in the House of Commons. Next week there will be a fuller opportunity than this Debate provides for dealing with the finance of the Unemployment Fund. Therefore, all I can Gay at the moment is that it will be remembered that, in the terms of reference to the Royal Commission, they were asked to present an interim report dealing with the question of transitional benefit. I understand that they are finding their work rather more onerous than they expected, and probably they will not be able to present their report so early as at one time we had hoped. All I can say at the moment is this: I have often said, in reply to questions in this House, that I object to bringing unnecessary pressure to bear on committees and commissions, but I hope that they will at a not very distant date be able to give a report which—although no Government can be expected to accept the recommendations of all committees always—we hope will be one upon which the Government will be able to act.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I cannot say. I think I have now dealt with most of the points—[Interruption.]—which were made by the right hon. Gentleman. I find from the Order Paper that the Conservatives are not the only party in the House who appear to be interested in the question of national economy. There are other Amendments on the Paper. I have at last acted upon the very oft repeated suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), and have made myself acquainted with the financial and economy proposals of the party below the Gangway. I have found in them some admirable, sentiments, but I am bound to confess that I have searched in vain for anything definite and concrete. They propose that a conference should be called, that industry should be asked to reduce its cost of production by 10 per cent., and that the Government should do the same; but 444 beyond that there are only a few vague remarks about changes of policy and savings from disarmament, as far as they can be carried out. Of course, these words reduce the phrase to meaninglessness. Vague talk like this carries us nowhere. There is no Member of this House who is so much interested in the question of economy as I am; there cannot be. There is no Member—and I am sure I shall have the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—who would welcome suggestions for economy more than I should; and no proposal submitted to me would fail to receive the closest and most sympathetic investigation. But I must have something tangible.
The Liberal memorandum only once ventures upon the treacherous ground of figures, and there it gets into a hopeless muddle. It says that the cost of the Supply Services increased, between 1924 and 1930, by £60,000,000 notwithstanding a large decrease in war pensions. Of this £60,000,000, £31,000,000 was due to de-rating, and £15,000,000 of it is a mere bookkeeping transaction—a transfer from the Consolidated Fund to the Supply Services; while £11,000,000 is an increase in the Post Office, which, however, was more than offset by an increase in the postal revenue. I should want a little more information; I am anxious to get it; and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who, I presume, is going to follow me, will enlighten me in regard to that matter. I want to know more about this 10 per cent. all-round reduction, and how it is to be carried out. Is it 10 per cent. on the total Budget? If so, that would give us about £80,000,000. Or is it 10 per cent. on the Supply Services? That would give us about £46,000,000. I am prompted to ask this question because there is a difference of opinion about it, and, in order to make myself perfectly familiar with the proposals of the Liberal party on these matters, I have been so reckless, in these times when economy is so necessary, as to spend sixpence on this pamphlet. I find a difference between the recommendation here, in regard to the committee to recommend a reduction of expenditure, and the Amendment which is on the Order Paper. This says:To make recommendations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for effecting forthwith all possible reductions in national ex- 445 penditure on Supply Services, having regard especially to the present and prospective position of the revenue.The right hon. Gentleman's Amendment does not limit it to Supply Services. It asks that:The Government should at once appoint a small and independent committee to make recommendations to Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer for effecting forthwith all practicable and legitimate reductions in the national expenditure consistent with the efficiency of the services.I shall ask one or two questions about the meaning of certain words in that Amendment. What is legitimate expenditure? Does it mean expenditure that is fixed by law? That is very important seeing that the greater part of the Supply Service expenditure goes in war pensions, old age pensions, widows' pensions, education, housing and unemployment. I want an answer to this question. Whatever the figure may be, is it proposed to apply a 10 per cent. reduction to these Services? It may help the right hon. Gentleman if I give him this fact. If economy in the Supply Services is to be made, not by reducing these grants and pensions but on administrative charges, he is up against this fact. Staff charges are the main element in administrative charges. They amount to about £88,000,000 a year. If we exclude the Post Office, and you make a reduction of 10 per cent. in the Supply Services, to get that 10 per cent. you would have to scrap every civil servant there is in the country outside the Post Office.
We are reminded of the precedent of the Geddes Committee. That is a most unfortunate statement, because that committee was a lamentable failure. It recommended a reduction in expenditure of £86,500,000, and that was on a Budget of £1,000,000,000, swollen by hundreds of millions with surviving war expenditure, and yet that committee could only recommend reductions of £86,500,000. At that time the Defence Services cost £200,000,000. They recommended £86,500,000, but the right hon. Gentleman only accepted of those recommendations £54,000,000. This committee recommended a reduction of £26,500,000 in Supply. The right hon. Gentleman accepted £14,000,000. This is the important point. It is really the crux of the whole matter of reducing national ex- 446 penditure. The recommendations of this committee were least effective where they touched the Social Services. For instance, the committee recommended a reduction of £18,000,000 on education. The Government of the day accepted only £6,500,000, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) said £3,000,000 of that was a mere transfer from the Exchequer to the rates. If the spokesmen of the Liberal party will explain more clearly what they mean by this, I will carefully consider it. I cannot reject any suggestion which is likely to give me assistance. I find, from a reply to a question given yesterday, that since the Government took office they have set up 72 of these committees, and one more will not hurt.
I want again to say that it is only on policy where any large savings can be made. Let the House of Commons face up to that fact. Apart from policy, there is no doubt that small economies are possible. They are always being examined and being effected. As a matter of fact, rationalisation in the Civil Service has been carried to very great lengths, and so highly is the administrative machinery of the Civil Service regarded outside that the largest employers in the country often come to us in order that they may examine our machinery and our administration and take a lesson from it. It has been said that we might ration the Departments. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston made that suggestion a, week or two ago. We do ration the Departments where rationing is possible, but I want to state this very striking fact. I have spoken of the amount of expenditure which is outside administrative control and with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot interfere. A vast part of the expenditure is fixed by law, by Acts of Parliament, by contracts and by Royal Warrant. Only Parliament can deal with these things, and would the House believe it, out of £677,000,000 of Civil and Consolidated Fund expenditure over £620,000,000 fall into that category. Therefore, it will be seen how limited are the opportunities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of the Departments in their administrative capacity of reducing expenditure. It is all a question of policy. [Interruption.] A fellow experience makes us wondrous kind.
447 I hope when the representative of the party below the Gangway speaks he will answer my question and give me a little more enlightenment as to what they mean. I have no objection at all to setting up such a Committee, but I frankly tell the House I do not expect much from it. As a matter of fact, I believe I could write its report to-morrow. But if this Committee does report, it rests with the House of Commons whether its recommendations should be adopted. Economy which is so popular in the abstract is always opposed in the concrete; and no Government and no one Department, can carry it out without the support of a united House of Commons. We are always so ready to make party capital out of unpopular actions which are done by other parties. Candidates of all parties try to get votes by promises of supporting demands from any section of the electorate whose votes they think are worth getting. One of my predecessors stated on one occasion that every General Election cost the Treasury £10,000,000 a year in carrying out reckless pledges that had been given. We had a striking illustration of that fact the other week when the hon. Member for Fareham (Sir J. Davidson), who moved that abortive Motion on economy, that same week signed a memorial to me asking me to incur additional expenditure which would have amounted to £2,500,000 a year.
In spite of what I have said now, having pointed out the difficulties, I say with all the seriousness I can command that the national position is so grave that drastic and disagreeable measures will have to be taken if Budget equilibrium is to be maintained and if industrial progress is to be made. An expenditure which may be easy and tolerable in prosperous times becomes intolerable in a time of grave industrial depression. The right hon. Gentleman made a quotation from my last Budget speech that I was anxious to avoid the imposition of any further imposts upon industry. In view of the deeper depression since that time, I feel the importance of that statement to-day more than I did 12 months ago. I believe, if I may put it so bluntly as this, that an increase of taxation in present conditions which fell on industry would be the last straw. Schemes involving heavy 448 expenditure, however desirable they may be, will have to wait until prosperity returns. This is necessary—I say this more particularly to my hon. Friends behind—to uphold the present standard of living, and no class will ultimately benefit more by present economy than the wage earners. I have been in active political life for 40 years, and my only object has been to improve the lot of the toiling millions. That is still my aim and my object, and, if I ask for some temporary suspension, some temporary sacrifice, it is because I believe that that is necessary in order to make future progress possible.
The Budget position, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is serious. It is no secret that I shall have a heavy deficit at the end of this year. No Budget in the world could stand such an excessive strain as that which has been placed upon it by the increase of unemployment during the last 12 months. The depression has affected both sides of the Budget. Expenditure has increased, revenue has declined. There is this fact which I think we sometimes ignore. Productive capacity has now fallen off 20 per cent. That means 20 per cent. less in those resources from which the Exchequer must draw its revenue. Capital values have fallen, except in the case of gilt-edged stocks. And may I say, in reply to what the right hon. Gentleman stated about British credit, that, in spite of the depression, British credit is standing higher to-day than it has done during the last five years. Of course, I do not mean exactly at this precise moment but, taken over a few weeks.
We have the burden of War Debt. I do not want to give offence to anybody when I make this statement, that when the history of the way in which that Debt was incurred, its recklessness, its extravagance, commitments being made which were altogether unnecessary in the circumstances at the time, when that comes to be known, I am afraid posterity will curse those who were responsible. Though the industrial slump has affected this country so seriously, we have suffered less than others of the great industrial countries of the world. Their budgetary positions are worse than ours. I am quite familiar with what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the talk which is going on in certain quarters, but I am 449 sorry to hear that the right hon. Gentleman associated that with the responsibility of a Socialist Government. This is not a situation and this is not an occasion when people should talk of taking action which might ruin the country in order to gain a party advantage.
There is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, one vulnerable spot in our position, and that arises from the fact that we are the world's great financial centre. It is quite true, as he said, that if there were well grounded fears that this country's budgeting was not sound, then it might have disastrous consequences, and very disastrous consequences, which would have their repercussions abroad. It is quite true that other countries are watching, and we must maintain our financial reputation. That we can do. Our position is fundamentally sound, sounder than that of any other country in the world, and all that is required is an effort to get over the present temporary crisis, and that can be done without any very great efforts. It will involve some temporary sacrifices from all, and those best able to bear them will have to make the largest sacrifices. In the general sacrifice, the Members of the Cabinet are prepared to make their substantial contribution. As I have said before, this is a problem which no one party can solve, but the country and the House of Commons must realise the gravity of the position. Instead of party bickering, which we can resume later, we must unite in a common effort to take effective measures to overcome our temporary difficulties and to restore our former prosperity.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:considers that, having regard to the effect of the present burden of taxation in restricting industry and employment, the Government should at once appoint a small and independent committee to make recommendations to Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer for effecting forthwith all practicable and legitimate reductions in the national expenditure consistent with the efficiency of the services.I am sure that the House, irrespective of party, will have heard with great sympathy and understanding the latter part of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Other parts related to party recriminations with which I am not at all concerned to-night. But 450 the grave warning which the Chancellor gave, not only to this House but to the nation at large, was not unworthy of some of his greatest predecessors who have given warnings to the nation from time to time from that Box. Undoubtedly, unless to a very material extent mere party recrimination is dropped, and we, the representatives of the nation in this House, recognise the gravity of the situation in which the nation is at present placed, we shall fail lamentably in our duty to the country as a whole. It is in that spirit that, I rise to move the Amendment which stands in the name of my colleagues and myself. I do not know what an election may bring forth. My right hon. Friend who moved the Vote of Censure this afternoon begged of us to take action. I suppose he means a Dissolution. That is the meaning of his Vote of Censure, and, if I am asked what choice I have to make in this matter, on the whole I prefer the spender I have hope for to the rake for whom I have no hope whatever. I pass without further comment on the challenge of the records of the two parties in this matter, since there never has been a Vote of Censure moved by an Opposition which had so dangerous and disastrous a record behind them when they challenged the extravagance of the Government of the day.
I will pass now to the Amendment which stands in my name and to some of the questions which were addressed to me. A touch of strange familiarity with the speech came over me as I listened to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. My mind went back to March, 1920—I think it was—when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) was Chancellor of the Exchequer. In response to the culmination of many appeals which came from those of us who were then occupying the Front Opposition Bench, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said this:I invite my right hon. Friends to tell me any method.…. by which I can save what they consider to be an adequate sum. I would be content if they would put their finger on a practical means of saving £500,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1920, col. 2073, Vol. 126.]Not 18 months passed before the Government of the day, from whom that challenge came, themselves proffered a saving 451 of £75,000,000, and then appointed the Geddes Committee, to which reference has been made, which, I say at once, I viewed with great doubt and indeed with suspicion. I say that quite frankly, because I said at that time that I thought the duty of the control of expenditure was on this House itself. In theory, that is perfectly true, but my right hon. Friend the late Lord Oxford, then Mr. Asquith, joined in the view which I now express. In fact, he expressed it himself. He stood at that Box after the report of the Geddes Committee and frankly and fully withdrew all the suspicions which he had entertained, and I also stated later on in the Debate, that undoubtedly that Committee, which ranged over the whole of the Departments—it was unrestricted and took some time—was worth many millions to the country. I will tell you exactly what it was worth. The agitation which led up to the Geddes Committee saved £75,000,000. The Geddes Committee itself was the means of saving £54,000,000, and, if you add £75,000,000 to £54,000,000, you get the very considerable saving of £129,000,000. Is that a matter of no moment? It did far more than merely save the money. It put, what is enormously important, a spirit of saving into the Departments rather than of prodigal expenditure.
I frankly admit that conditions are not identical with what obtained in those days. Gross extravagance naturally followed—I do not say necessarily followed—the War. I do not hesitate to say that there are many openings for great saving to-day in the great Departments of State. I am asked to indicate them. My right hon. Friend who moved the Vote of Censure is familiar with the War Office. There are in the War Office examples of extravagance, which, if examined by a committee, competent and independent, would mean great savings in that Department alone. You can go through the whole of the Departments almost. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Admiralty?"] The Admiralty has just been mentioned and let me say this. The personnel of the Navy has decreased from 146,000 in 1914 to 96,000 in 1930. The staff has increased from 5,800 to 7,900. Let us take the War Office with its largely reduced personnel; you had a staff of 2,800 in 1914, 452 and you have a present total of staff of over 3,800. It may be said that that sounds small when you are dealing with hundreds of millions of pounds, but it is through these comparatively small items that you find the gross extravagances which, I do not hesitate to say, are rampant, not only through our great public spending departments but also through the great municipalities. A very great responsibility rests not only upon this House, but upon the public spending bodies throughout the country.
The present position of the country is one of extreme gravity, and the Memorandum which has been issued by the Treasury is almost unique in its seriousness of tone, its precision of statement and the warnings which it gives not only to this House but to the country as a whole. It has, I think, created a new situation, in which I hope, not that the voice of party criticism will be entirely silent, because that would not be altogether healthy, but that it will be very much muted, having regard to the seriousness of the situation. Let me express a view of my own in regard to the future. What this country has to face is not a short period of time in which the unemployment figures will come down to what is estimated to be the normal figure of 600,000 or 700,000, but it is faced with a situation, according to the statement made by Mr. Eadie, one of the ablest of the Ministry officials, in his evidence before the Royal Commission now sitting, where under really favourable conditions there will be no likelihood of the figure of 2,500,000 unemployed lessening by a greater rate than 200,000 a year for several years to come, even assuming that there will be no great disturbances brought about by stoppages of work, from whatever cause. That means that the country has to face for seven years, perhaps 10 years, certainly for seven years, a chronic condition of unemployment totalling at least 1,250,000 people.
The attitude of cheerfulness and waiting until the clouds roll by, which has been adopted by Governments in regard to this matter in the past, will not do. This House, and any Government in office, will have to adjust itself to an entirely different view of the future in regard to unemployment and the burden which industry is to bear. It matters not what may happen to the unemployment benefit 453 from time to time, you may increase it or you may decrease it, but it will not really cut away the cancer which, to a very large extent, is seriously threatening some of our most vital positions as a nation. We have it on the authority of Sir Richard Hopkins that next year the country is faced with an expenditure on unemployment of £135,000,000. Let us assume that the recommendations of the Government Actuary were carried out, and that the existing abuses which, though legal, are distinctly abuses, were abolished—the casual highly-paid worker, the professional footballer, the week-end worker, or the married woman who by law draws an unemployment benefit to which she is not morally entitled and to which Parliament never intended that she should be entitled. Let us assume that all these abuses, legal though they may be, were swept on one side. That would result, together with one or two other savings, in a reduction of £13,500,000. That would still leave £122,000,000 of the £135,000,000 which is to be expended this year on unemployment.
What is the House going to do about it? That is the point of our discussion this afternoon. There is a good deal of recrimination between one party and another as to their records in the past, but what are we going to do about the future We cannot contemplate a future where we have this ghastly army at our gates. We must organise to defeat this unemployment enemy. I may be asked what we propose to do. There will be a Debate to-morrow, which will speak for itself. There is one point on which I agree with my Liberal friends here, and it is that I rather resent the idea that we on these benches have committed ourselves to a spectacular loan of £250,000,000, to be at the disposal of anybody who can get there first. That is not the proposal that we make. A sum of £122,000,000 is to be spent in the coming year on unemployment, and we desire that as large a proportion of that money should go into what is called the pay envelope of the worker rather than it should be distributed by the Unemployment Exchange.
I was surprised that my right hon. Friend derided us in regard to the question of expenditure. What about the Conservative expenditure on electricity? Excellent! Loans have been raised there 454 for a great productive national enterprise, and I congratulate right hon. and hon. Members above the Gangway. Is it not possible to develop policies for the improvement of national assets? That is what the Liberal party is driving at. Let us get rid once and for all of the folly of the attacks upon our proposals. Let the House in all seriousness face the position. We are prepared to join with any party or with any individual in any part of the House in order to assist in putting such proposals into active and fruitful operation.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
It is not possible for me to give an answer across the Floor of the House on a question of that kind. That is exactly what the committee would be set up to do. If I am asked to specify where those savings can be made, what authority would that have? It would be merely a personal opinion, and would have no value unless it is backed up by expert investigation. I would take the whole range of services, and examine them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that these are services which are settled by Acts of Parliament. If it is required that these services should be overhauled, then let us have an Act of Parliament to overhaul them. There is nothing inviolate about an Act of Parliament. This House exists to alter legislation which does not fit in with the policy of the Government of the day or the demand of the day. I would take the whole range of the Government spending Departments and submit them to an exhaustive examination, to be followed by a useful and productive report from such a committee.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Is this committee to make recommendations which might involve a change of policy? For instance, to give an illustration, could they recommend the reduction of War pensions, or of old age pensions, or of the Education Vote?
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
They would make their investigations, and would make their own recommendations on their own responsibility. It would be for the Government to decide what the policy should be, after the recommendations came before them. I have never heard any 455 criticism of that kind addressed against the setting up of a committee. When a committee has been set up and has reported, it rests with the Government either to accept the suggestions and to work them into a policy of their own, because they are the responsible people, or to reject them. [An HON. MEMBER: "What do you suggest?"] I have indicated a number of reductions in Army and Navy expenditure. It is no credit to this House, to the spending Departments or to the Government that the expenditure on armaments services, which amounted to £105,000,000 in 1923–24, amount to £110,000,000 to-day. I hope that the long view will be taken. Speakers from both Front Benches made an appeal. The rather hard-worked phrase, "A Council of State" has been used again to-day. We offer the hearty co-operation of our party in any scheme which is practical, which shows signs of reproductive activities, and provides for the cutting down of unnecessary expense in face of a grave and serious national responsibility. I believe that the spirit of the people is reflected in this House, and I am sure there is abroad in this country to-day a determination not only to assist any Government in rigid economy in the expenditure of public money, but also a determination to support it in any measures it may take of a productive character which will defeat the terrible menace of unemployment in our midst.
Sir HILTON YOUNG
We have already gained something by this Debate. We have gained from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a pronouncement more serious than any to which this House has listened on finance since the War; a pronouncement expressing a sense of the grave danger to which national finance is subjected and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's responsibility under difficult circumstances. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, suppose that words are an adequate answer to the Vote of Censure or that they are going to content the country in the views it is now framing about the financial policy of the Government? It is not words which we require from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the present time, but actions. When did the Chancellor of the Exchequer first frame these opinions 456 about the necessity for rigid economy? Were they framed when the transitional benefit was transferred to the Exchequer? Were they framed when the Education Bill was first introduced, raising the future expenditure of this country by £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 per year? Were they framed when the Agricultural Bill was introduced, subjecting the country to a contingent and unascertained liability of some £20,000,000? So much for the past, what of the future?
What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's action going to be when these Bills continue their course through Parliament, which will impose this great expenditure on the country? Are they going to be abandoned? Are we to be relieved from this burden of expenditure? In face of the urgent danger to which the stability of national finance is exposed, is he going to take the course of forcing upon his party a revision of policy and an abandonment of these Bills, or is he, when these Bills are considered in future, going to be behind the Chair?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
What does the right hon. Member mean by being behind the Chair? I assume he is referring to an incident which took place on a previous Motion. I was in the House for more than an hour on that occasion—[Interruption.]
Sir H. YOUNG
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is too sensitive. I am asking whether he is going to be in his place or not. We can sympathise with the embarrassment of the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. But it is his own fault. He has never been quite sure as to the true nature of his part. He is quite sure that he was cast for the part of the strong man of the Government, but he is not quite sure what strong man he is to be, whether he is to be the stern champion of financial orthodoxy, rebutting every form of expenditure, or whether he is to be the stern master of revolution, squeezing the well-to-do in the interests of those who are not well-to-do. A division of mind like this is quite fatal if you have to make a fight for economy. There is only one thing which will enable you to stand up against the forces making for expenditure and 457 that is an absolute and single mind. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will fulfil with single mind what he has expressed to the House of Commons in the latter part of his speech there may yet be a revision of policy which may save his Budget.
The House should realise what is taking place in this Debate as between the three parties concerned. The Amendment, which has been moved by hon. Members below the Gangway, is in favour of a committee of inquiry into the details of expenditure. Everyone acquainted with the business of administration will agree that that on the whole is worth doing. With such an enormous volume of expenditure, under modern conditions it is always worth while, from time to time, to have such a special outside inquiry. But no one will suppose that it is in the least a remedy appropriate to the grave and deep evils which we are attacking to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows that it is not. He plays with the suggestion, he treats it as a trivial suggestion, which in truth it is; although a suggestion well worth carrying out. We must sometimes sweep up the crumbs as well as cut the cake. It is not surprising that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is infinitely relieved to find how small a price he has to pay to-day for a support which is necessary to continue his equivocal policy.
It is a sham fight between the Government and Liberals. On the benches opposite is the main fleet of expenditure; on this side of the House is the main fleet for economy. Hon. Members below the Gangway merely discharge the functions of a destroyer flotilla, which puts up a smoke screen for the protection of the main fleet. We are tired of these smoke screens on matters which are of vital importance to the nation. Members below the Gangway should remember that destroyers may serve a useful function in defending their main fleet against fire, but they usually get destroyed themselves in the process. The issue to-day is too deep for trifling. It is an issue which involves the very essentials of national prosperity. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has truly said, it is the essentials of his policy in expenditure, not details of expenditure, which we attack; it is reform of policy alone which can remedy the evils which we are discussing this evening. The Chancellor of 458 the Exchequer does not do much honour to the intelligence of the country as a whole when he supposes that the grave national anxiety which we know pervades the whole nation at the present time can be met by a speech, the greater part of which was a repetition of the speeches which we were accustomed to hear from him in the last Parliament. We are not trying the deeds of any previous Government to-day, we are trying the record of the present Government.
And let there be no possible doubt as to the principal count in the indictment. It is this, that the policy of the Government in the matter of expenditure, which can be remedied by no inquiry into details, is such as to shake the foundations of our financial system, to affect the prosperity of the nation, to increase unemployment throughout the country and inevitably, if it is continued, to reduce the standard of living for every class in the country. The first count in our indictment is that for the first time in the history of British finance the financial policy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer permits, in deeds if not in words, is the policy of a Budget which does not balance. Day after day we come to this House and schemes of fresh expenditure are proposed by hon. Members opposite. We know, the Government know, and no one knows better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there is no means of meeting this expenditure out of revenue. In previous Parliaments and under previous Chancellors of the Exchequer it would have been unthinkable for such expenditure as we have been asked to pass during the last year to have been passed, when everybody in the House and outside knew that the country's revenue was not adequate to meet it, that what was in store was a deficit, and that these measures must increase that deficit. That is not British finance. That is Balkan finance.
What is the present position? In the first place there was £46,000,000 increase in taxation in the last Budget. Added to that we have already £12,000,000 in Supplementary Estimates. Added to that we have a further contingent liability, vague but somewhere round about £35,000,000, for expenditure under other Acts. He would be an optimist who would suppose that there will be less than £50,000,000 additional expenditure in the next Budget, and that on the top of 459 £46,000,000 additional taxation in the last Budget. It is inevitable that there should this year be a large deficit. The Chancellor admits it. I am astonished that he should have been able to make this pronouncement with so little apparent concern, and at the same time without doing, what must be the duty of a British Chancellor of the Exchequer, coupling the admission with an absolute promise to the nation and this House that there will be no further increase of expenditure during his term of office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer even made merry about the deficit in the last Conservative Budget. He poured out his vitriolic humour on the late Chancellor of the Exchequer because he had a deficit of £14,500,000. How will the right hon. Gentleman face the House of Commons when he comes to his next Budget with a deficit of not less than £30,000,000?
Sir H. YOUNG
The Chancellor of the Exchequer still smiles. But this is not his real funeral; that will come on Budget night. This is only a dress rehearsal. What is the real gravamen of our charge against the Government. It may be summed up in the one word "credit," the injury to the credit of the nation, the vast injury, done by this accumulation of deficits. There is no more grave sentence in the document issued by the Treasury than the final registration of the circumstance that the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as at present applied, with its big oblique borrowing, has practically abolished the Sinking Fund. That is the case. There are outstanding obligations at the present time for borrowing in connection with schemes of expenditure proposed by the party opposite for a sum difficult and indeed almost impossible to compute, but round about £65,000,000, for schemes of unproductive expenditure. That is quite apart and additional to the borrowings which are going on day after day and week after week for the Unemployment Fund, amounting, according to the Government Actuary, to no less than £1,000,000 per week. This cancels out the Sinking Fund. The country's credit cannot stand this intolerable burden. It does not improve matters to maintain a sham Sink- 460 ing Fund, while you have this great borrowing going on, on balance. Haw does the injury come home to the taxpayers of this country, if one may still refer to them in this House without causing derisive cheers from the benches opposite? It comes home to them in this way: The greatest hope that there is of a, direct and practical national economy is in the reduction of the interest on our National Debt. If we reduce the interest on that debt by 1 per cent. it would save the country £75,000,000.
Sir H. YOUNG
That is the greatest hope of reduction of expenditure without injury to the country. What is the prospect for economic conversion under present conditions? We know quite well—we have learned from experience—the Chancellor of the Exchequer has learned from experience, that the possibilities of economic conversions, that will really reduce expenditure on interest are disappearing into the dim distance under the policy of extravagance to which we are now subjected. The best opportunity has already been missed. If there had been confidence in the country, if the Budget had been apparently balancing, if it had not been for fears about the stability of the country's finance, the best opportunity for conversion which there has been since the War might have been seized in the course of the last six months. Money has been cheap; the whole stage of finance was set for advantageous conversion; but the great opportunity has been missed. An unnecessary burden of interest has been prolonged on the country as a direct result of the spendthrift financial policy of the Government, affecting confidence in the stability of the country.
Yes, but there are deeper consequences than that, deeper and far greater consequences than that, of this policy of irresponsible expenditure, of this willingness to allow fresh sums to be voted without having the least idea of how they are to be covered, consequences which go to the very bottom of the prosperity of national life. There was an observation in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which awakened applause from these benches, 461 when he said that any increase of the taxation which falls on industry would be the last straw. Naturally that was applauded by all those who understand the true state of the country. But was there, perhaps, a mental reservation in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's mind when he said that the last straw would be any increase in taxation which fell upon industry? Is he returning to the old doctrine which we used to hear from him in the last Parliament—that direct taxation does not fall on industry? Is that the mental reservation which is going to enable him to increase the burden of direct taxation, if he finds that that sacrifice to other shades of opinion in his party is demanded of him when he comes to Budget time? We have grave apprehensions, very grave apprehensions.
Surely it must be clear to him and to his experts that the engine of direct taxation has been so overstrained, that it is incapable of yielding any more revenue by the increase of rates. What is it that is dashing his hopes for his Budget this year? Those hopes were based on an increase in the yield of direct taxes, Income Tax and Super-tax, of £30,000,000 from the increase in rates. As a matter of fact that increase has not been realised. I know that it is imprudent to prophesy the result of the yield of taxation until one comes to the last moment, but anyone accustomed to watch these accounts, even an outsider, must feel that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not realise the increase which he expected from the increase of rates of Income Tax. The reason is that the machinery of direct taxation is overstrained; it will yield no more. The slump has not passed; there is no sign of it passing; it would be idle to count upon that.
The evil which results from this enormous burden of direct taxation goes deeper still. The opportunity should be taken at once to join issue with the point of view known to be so common on the benches opposite, and which I fear lurks in that cautious expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the point of view that direct taxation is not a tax upon industry. It is a tax upon industry, and at the present time it is this burden of direct taxation which is weighing industry down which is the 462 prime cause of unemployment in the country. We join issue with hon. Members opposite—on their doctrine that by the equalisation of wealth in the country by taxation there is an increase of purchasing power, effected by taxing off money and distributing it. You do not increase purchasing power. You reduce the productivity of the country as a whole and do nothing else. In a non-competitive world, in an isolated State not in competition with its neighbours, that might be true; and in such a world anything else might be true. But in the economic world in which we live it is absolutely untrue.
In our present difficulties the recovery of the country depends upon enterprise; it depends upon attracting fresh enterprise; it depends upon the attraction to our shores of fresh enterprises and fresh capital. At the present time cap ital is international and enterprise is international. It can go where it pleases and it does go where it pleases, and where it pleases to go is where it is safe and where it can earn the biggest reward. Under present conditions we doubt it is as safe here as it used to be. That is the result of the Trade Disputes Act. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh. I am indifferent to their laughter. We are appealing over their heads to the mind of the country. [Interruption.] Capital goes where it can earn the biggest reward. Is that doubted? Enterprise will do so. At the present time it is going away from this country; it is seeking other places where it can earn a bigger reward than is possible under our intolerable burden of taxation.
Sir H. YOUNG
I can tell the hon. Member quite precisely that it is going anywhere else—to the United States, to Eastern Europe, to Czechoslovakia—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is impossible for the right hon. Member to proceed with his speech if there are these constant interruptions.
Sir H. YOUNG
The greatest need of the country is enterprise, and enterprise has been driven from the country by the effects of high taxation. There was an expression in a certain document, the 463 Colwyn Report, which, I think, has done more harm in misleading the country on taxation than any other single sentence in print that has ever appeared. It was the expression of opinion on behalf of that Committee that Income Tax did not enter into the cost of production. Again, in an ideal world where Income Taxes are perfect and tax collectors are archangels and taxpayers something very like it, Income Tax might be paid only out of profits and not enter into the cost of production. But in this country Income Tax is not paid out of profits only and does enter into the cost of production. It is supposed to be assessed only on profits, but profits are not scientifically ascertained—or ascertainable. They are calculated by arbitrary rules. The result is that the effect of Income Tax is to draw off the essential reserves from industry. Thus Income Tax depresses production. Owing to these increasing burdens, you are making it impossible for industry to recover from the shocks of war and of the General Strike. It is because of this that you have falling revenue. It is this new condition of the nation of which the Government and the supporters of the Government show not a glimmering of consciousness. Their ignorance of conditions is implied in the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he says that we do not show any sense of the existence of the slump and the difficulties of the slump.
That is the very basis of our indictment of the Government, that they have continued to increase the taxation of the country, have increased the cost of the social services just as if the slump had never been, without showing any consciousness of the changed conditions. It would take a great deal to ruin the British nation, but indifference and ignorance of changing conditions so great as that shown by the Government in their financial policy can ruin even this State. One must use strong words and straight words on this occasion. The danger is that owing to the comfortable expressions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the country may be misled into supposing that all will now be well. His words are not enough. Nothing short of an actual change of policy will be enough.
464 The simple fact is that this country is not earning the standard of living which it is enjoying. Day by day it is living more and more upon its accumulations, upon the accumulations due to the brains and energy of our predecessors, accumulations at home and in foreign investments. On all these things we are living. We all desire the maintenance of the standard of living of all classes. But however desirable the object, if we think that we can attain it by the method of equalisation of income through taxation, the method adopted by the Government, we are making a mistake which will cost this nation the very last atom of its prosperity. We need to increase production, not consumption.
One of the greatest fears throughout the nation is the result of the conviction that we are not living upon our income; that our Budget does not balance, neither the Government's Budget, nor the national budget of production and consumption. What are the fears that that causes? They are fears of a general collapse in the finances of the State. How does that come home to the nation? In fears about the stability of our currency. It is well known what is the end of such a rake's progress as this of Socialist finance. It is a well-known consequence, when finally every resource of taxation has been used, when every penny of real wealth that can be borrowed has been borrowed and nothing more is left, that a Government, hounded from behind by its followers clamouring for more, finds its last resort in the manufacture of money—in inflation. That is the fear which threatens those who watch the financial fate of the country both from inside and outside. It is possible to make one prophecy with certainty. That is that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's high words to-day fail, if he once more withdraws from the House and allows his followers to press him into schemes of expenditure, and if we find that further direct taxation is imposed in the next Budget, there will be serious panic as to the stability of our finances.
There will be a flight from the pound. People will no longer believe in the possibility of our being able to put the nation straight without those measures which 465 have affected and even disgraced countries on the Continent—measures of repudiation. There will be a flight from the pound. Hon. Members opposite say, What does it matter? It only means the transfer of balances abroad for a time. That cannot go very far because the paralysis of the exchange market will put an end to it. It is true. When the flight has gone far enough no one will be able to sell any more or able to buy foreign currencies. There will come a time when you will not be able to fly from the pound because no one will have it. But that time will not come until the fall in our currency has gone so far that it will have driven this country for a generation out of the possibility of meeting its foreign competitors as a great producing nation. These are the great issues which stand before the country. We condemn the Government for its present policy of an unbalanced Budget and an expenditure which no man knows how to cover by sound financial means. The nation demands that it shall be saved from the great dangers which threaten it. It knows that that can only be done by a reduction of expenditure. It knows that a reduction of expenditure is necessary in order to reduce taxation. It knows that such reduction is necessary in order to deal fundamentally with the great evil of unemployment. It knows full well that, in order to make this reduction, it must undergo hardships. It will be grateful to the Government which, not merely in words, like those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in deeds, in a consistent policy of economy, in courageous resistance to the clamour of personal interest, will pursue the course which is essential to national salvation.
§ Sir NORMAN ANGELL
I rise to suggest to the House that the committee which this Amendment proposes to set up would be far more effective if it went very much further than the terms of the Amendment seem to imply that it should go. I desire to suggest to the House that the mere paring-down of expenditure, by reason of everything we have heard in this Debate, will carry us not very far, and that the object of such a committee should be rather to discuss how far it is now possible to correct the disequilibrium out of which our present difficulties have arisen—a disequilibrium which the present Chancellor of the Ex- 466 chequer has inherited from his predecessors. May I recall to the Louse a few facts of economy which are, I suggest, far more important than the dismissal of a few hundred officials Those of us who have studied these questions at all, know—and it is astonishing that the fact is so seldom referred to in these Debates—that the desperate situation in which we find ourselves to-day is due to a disturbance of the relationship between the debtor and the creditor class. Six Henry Strakosch is one of many authorities to point out that the fall in price level of the last few years has shifted the share which the creditor class receives of the national income from being about one-quarter to being about one-third. That added burden, which represents something in the neighbourhood of between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000 yearly, is borne by industry, by the entrepreneur, representing, in the proportion of the national product which he draws, about 17 per cent. of the national income. That small fraction is called upon to bear enormous burdens which it did not bear when the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer took office.
We seem to accept this addition to the real burden of the country's indebtedness, or rather of the indebtedness of the debtor class to the creditor class, as though it were an act of God. It is not mentioned in these Debates; it is taken as an accepted fact that nothing can be done about it. I am not so sure, however, that it is an act of God, and. I am not so sure that nothing can be done about it. If it were the object of this committee of inquiry to see whether anything could be done about it, to see, that is, that the creditor should receive back what he lent, and not 10, 20 or 30 per cent. more than he lent to the nation—if that were the object of the committee, and if every possibility were explored of establishing, not merely a possible economy or £200,000,000 or £300,000,000, but something resembling financial justice and equity, then I think that the committee would be exploring far more fruitful territory than, I gather from the terms of the Amendment, it is its intention to explore.
I suggest that this emphasis upon economy, with its connotation of cheese-paring, disguises the real nature of the crisis with which we are faced. That crisis does not arise from the fact that 467 our potential production is insufficient, to provide our people with a decent standard of life. We know that such is not the case. We know that our potential production if these dislocations, if these disequilibria could be corrected, is capable of giving our people a very high standard of life. It is a question of whether it is practicable by any means which we can now apply to correct these disequilibria and these dislocations I have suggested in this House before, and I do not hesitate to make the suggestion again, that it would have been enormously more easy for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer to have done this thing than it is for the present Chancellor to do it. On the return to gold everyone who had given serious consideration to the problem knew that there would be a fall in the price level. Everyone knew, therefore, that we in this country were doing the exact contrary to what all the other European belligerents had done. The other European belligerents had given their creditors not more than they had borrowed but less. Those who happen to have bought French bonds know how much less. For the tenpenny franc which they lent they were returned 2d.; but, for the pound which the British creditor lent to the British people—then worth, shall we say, 15s.—the nation is now returning something in the neighbourhood of 25s. and the burden represented by the difference falls upon the entrepreneur—upon industry.
It would have been easier to deal with that situation rive years ago if the then Chancellor of the Exchequer had set up a committee like that which I have in mind to explore the possibility of doing for the bondholder what it is now proposed that the Government should do for the wage-earner, that is impose upon him a reduction of nominal wages, in view of the greater purchasing power of money. That, of course, is what is behind the minds of those who bring forward suggestions of economy and common sacrifice and so forth. That principle is often applied to the wage earner and I suggest that it is not beyond human wit to apply the same principle to the creditor, the bondholder. I suggest that it could have been done with greater ease five years ago, and the bondholder could have been put upon a sliding scale like 468 the civil servant with his bonus, based on an index figure. It has been done before in history. A great American industrial corporation has established that very type of bond, which they call a stabilised bond, and it means that the real income of the bondholder is not reduced. The bondholders get all that they have been promised, but do not get more than they have been promised, at the cost of the people as a whole.
If that had been done by the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, if this example had been followed, as it might have been followed, in the case of industrial debentures, much of the evil which has come from the fall in price levels in so far as it affects industry would have been avoided. It would not have given us, it is true, a stabilised money, but this special and, I think, unnecessary and added burden on industry would not have been created. It is manifestly much more difficult to do that thing to-day, because we hope that prices are touching bottom—though that may not be so. But if any committee of inquiry were to investigate the possibility of correcting these disequilibria, these injustices, it would, thereby, be dealing not with economies such as the Geddes Committee managed to achieve at a time when we had an inflationary currency, but it might be able, conceivably, to achieve economies far vaster than that, without confiscation, and also to make some contribution to the solution of the problem which is at the root of our difficulty.
The root problem which faces us is the unstable money which we have inherited. We must no longer accept that as something which comes from Providence and is beyond human aid. It is an astonishing thing that, though the League of Nations has tackled that problem internationally, the nation as such has not tackled the problem of internal stabilisation by some such technique as I have indicated. I submit that we are falsifying the nature of our problem by harping upon cheeseparing. If we did save £10,000,000 it would not materially affect the matter one way or the other, but if we could make even a small contribution to the correction of these dislocations and disequilibria it would create in the country a feeling that something tangible and scientific was being done. It would certainly do nothing to worsen the credit of the country. If we tackled this problem 469 nationally, we might make our contribution to an international solution and without an international solution, ultimately there will be no solution.
Any wise voter who cares for his country will hesitate from taking the risks involved in the acceptance of this Motion as it is, because economy, even if it were carried out by a Tory Government—and that would be extremely problematical—would be accompanied by a heightening of economic nationalism, and a general tendency to distrust all forms of international co-operation. Ultimately, of course, we can find no solution save by the patient, persistent pursuit of an international solution, an internationalism which must develop beyond mere banking technique, an internationalism of economics as well as of finance, which must finally deal with tariffs as well as with gold reserves. If we cannot achieve that end, then anything that we may do will not prevent the steady decline of the economic and financial strength of this country. I suggest that any committee which is set up might well investigate whether it is not possible to make some national preparation for that international task, along lines such as just suggested.
§ Major HILLS
The interesting speech to which we have just listened contained a certain amount with which I find myself in agreement. It is, of course, admitted that the value of money has gone up and the value of commodities down. The hon. Member said, quite truly, that some of the creditors of the world are getting paid more than the value of their advances when the advances were made, but he did not explain what remedy he wanted. I believe there were at one time two remedies for this state of thing. At the time of the peace you could have imposed a capital levy, or since the peace you could have inflated the currency. I believe that both of those methods would have done what the hon. Member wants. At the time of the peace, you could have collected a large amount by a charge on capital, or you could, by a course of inflation similar to that which occurred in France, and, of course, far more in Germany and Austria, have diminished the value of investments in the country.
§ Sir N. ANGELL
I also suggested a stabilised bond to the bondholder, so that his real income should remain the same, while his nominal income might vary.
§ Major HILLS
But the stabilised bond must come in the future, and the difficulty that I feel in finding anything of assistance in what the hon. Member said, interesting though it was, is that you cannot now tax people who hold war bonds on the assumption that they are the same people who advanced the money in 1915, 1916, or 1917. If you could make sure that all these bondholders who own the £2,000,000,000 of War Loan bought it when the loan was issued, and that they have held on to their investment all that time, there might be a strong case for something drastic, but no one knows better than the hon. Member that the holders of War Loan change to an immense extent every day, and over the course of the years that have gone by I doubt if many of the original holders are there still. For that reason, I do not see how we can get any assistance out of the taxation of investments.
The hon. Member did not deal with what we are here to discuss to-day. You have to cut down expenditure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not mince matters, and he told the House with great frankness that any further taxation on industry would be the last straw. He, of course, attacked my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), and we bad one of those charming exchanges to which we were so used last Summer. He accused the Conservative Government of being reckless, and he said that in five years they had added £48,000,000 to the expenditure of the country. The Chancellor need not have been so angry about that, because what we did in five years he did in one year. In one year he added £46,000,000, so that what he would do, if by bad luck he was in office for five years, I cannot imagine.
I do not think it is much good quoting party leaflets and making capital out of them. [Interruption.] I have never quoted "Labour and the Nation" in my life, and there is plenty of material there for ridicule and even for attack. I know what elections are. I have been through too many elections to make any mistake about what occurs there, but I want to say something about the main part of the Chancellor's speech. He told us a great deal about the risks we were running, and he told us what might happen, but he did not tell us what he meant to do, and that is what we want to know. The 471 right hon. Gentleman hoped to get a surplus of £2,250,000, but, as a matter of fact, there will be a deficit, I suppose, of at least £30,000,000, and, according to the statement that he made in his last Budget speech, he means to find that by taxation in the following year.
But it does not rest there. Our real charge against the Government is that they are piling up the debt on the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which they ought to pay out of income, which they know they cannot pay out of income, and which is running on; and they are borrowing to meet the expenditure of the year. Suppose the Government were to, go out of office some time this year and leave this debt unpaid. The debt now is over £70,000,000, and the estimate for 1931 is £50,000,000 more, so that £120,000,000 will have to be found by some Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I should like to have reminded the Chancellor, if he had been in the House, of a sentence that he used in his last Budget speech. He said:I am determined … that the country shall pay its way by honest methods. I will not leave my successor to meet my bills."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1930: col. 2680, Vol. 237.]I think he will find it very difficult to pay his way. I do not know whether the country or the House realise the fact that we have not only obliterated our Sinking Fund, but are actually borrowing now £1,000,000 a week for unemployment. And we have reached the end of the return of direct taxation. I do not think the last speaker would deny that, or that a tax of 6s. in 1931 would produce less than the present tax of 4s. 6d. in 1930. If that is true, as I believe it is, it means that, short of confiscation, we have reached the limit of Income Tax.
How can the money be raised? We have to increase taxation, and I believe that this is what occurs. Taxation creates unemployment unemployment requires money to pay for it: the raising of that money requires more taxation; and thereby you increase unemployment. I believe we have got a long way beyond the point where any Member of this House can say that taxation only affects the rich and does not affect the workers. I believe that we are seeing now its reaction in a heavy attack on wages. The 472 House knows that an inquiry is going on before the National Wages Board in which the railway companies are asking for a very heavy reduction in wages. No one likes a reduction in wages, on whatever side of the House he sits, and everyone would be very glad to see a necessity of this sort evaded. I speak with all seriousness when I say that I think it is quite possible that if we had not taxed the country to the extent that we have, these falls in wages might have been avoided. I believe taxes do react at once on wages, and I am quite certain that they react upon employment.
The speech that we had from the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) was in two parts, and the shadow of the future fell over it, for though he talked about economy, when challenged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer he did not name a single economy that he would effect, and, on the other hand, he explained how to-morrow his party is going to ask the House to borrow a very large sum of money for works to deal with unemployment. He cannot have it both ways. If he wants economy, let him support economy; if he wants expenditure, why then let him not pretend that expenditure may be economical. The right hon. Gentleman was challenged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say how he would economise, and I think it is essential that all of us, who meet here together to-day and get, the great chance that is given of being called by you, Mr. Speaker, should say, as far as lies in our power, what we would do if we were Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I do not think there is any good in indulging in generalities and merely talking about economy. I have heard, and I am afraid I have made, a good many speeches about economy, and I find that though you get the hearty cheers of an audience as long as you talk about economy in general, as soon as you mention any particular saving you create a feeling of immediate and acute distress. That, I think, reacts on all political parties. They talk about economy, and no doubt they mean to carry it out, but when the time comes they find it is extraordinarily difficult. I want to challenge one thing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said when he talked about the House of Commons securing 473 economy. He knows, and we all know, that he will not get it. This House is not an economising body; it is a spending body.
Everyone of us knows that our constituents, or the majority of them, are much more pleased when we vote for an expenditure than when we vote for an economy, and the only way to get economy is not by appeals to the House to revert to its old traditions as the guardian of the public purse. All that is past history. This House is not the guardian of the public purse any longer. There are only two people who are, and they are the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister. On them depends whether a Government is economical or not. I pass by, because I hardly need deal with, some suggestions which have been made to the effect that we should put finance into commission and set up an outside body. I am not sure that the hon. Baronet the Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley) did not suggest something of the sort, and the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), I think, talked about expert, technical committees doing their work uncontrolled by this House, but no Government can give up finance. Finance is government, and you cannot get some-body else to do it. All Governments must themselves settle the finance of the nation. The size of the Navy, for example, the stamp on your letter—everything—depends on finance. It is no good talking about an outside body, which would sit in austere seclusion, undisturbed by the clamour of parties and unmoved by the hope of office, and which would decide solely in the national interest. These things cannot happen in a democratic country ruled by a representative Government. Only by the Chancellor of the Exchequer using that instrument of the Treasury, which is the best instrument in the world, can he achieve results.
The next thing about economy is this: Do not let us think we can economise if we cannot. I speak for myself in this matter, but I say that you cannot cut down social services of a certain kind. If you have given a widow a pension, to which she has contributed, and that system has been accepted not by one party but by the country as a whole, you cannot cut it down. The House must 474 realise that that pension is in the same order of sanctity as the pension of the civil servant or the interest on the National Debt. We may go bankrupt and have to go into liquidation and reduce all our commitments, but, until that time comes, we cannot talk of a general all-round reduction. You cannot do it, and I do not believe you will. There are certain things that you can do. No Member of the House liked reading those two statements which were distributed from the Vote Office yesterday, the evidence of Sir Richard Hopkins or of the Government Auditor before the Commission on Unemployment. Insurance. If it is the case that men can earn £5 or £7 by working three days a week and can quarter themselves on the taxpayer for the rest of the week, it is time that an end was put to that. Unemployment insurance was never meant to be paid to men who work regularly. I do not think that the hon. Member opposite will challenge that.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Without expressing any view, may I ask the hon. and gallant Member how much a year would he save in that way? Even if you took off benefit all the professional footballers and multiplied your annual saving through that by 50, the result, broadly speaking, would be nil.
§ Major HILLS
It is undeniable that the saving would be small, but, in the parlous state we are in, small savings are worth making. I want to get rid of the idea that underlies that practice. Next I come to this. You can make certain that you pay only people who would work if work was provided. That will not be disputed. No one wants to pay men who prefer to draw the dole if work is provided. I do not believe you can cut wages by 10 per cent., or anything of that kind. The Civil Service do extremely fine work as a class, and the 10 per cent. cut would not be worth the trouble and disturbance it would cause. I would, however, suggest that something might be done about staffs. There is a great deal of redundant staff in our public office's. What has happened is that an office is very busy and gets more staff, and when work falls off or is better organised the staff remains the same. Do not rationalise money, but rationalise personnel. Send a small committee round to investigate. Do not set 475 up the committee proposed by the right hon. Gentleman below me. It will be no good, as the only people who can wet are the Government. All these advisory bodies, including the Estimates Committee, do not do very much. If you can, cut down staff, but you cannot do much at once. If you are so foolish as to engage more people than you can employ, you cannot turn them out in the streets. You have either to pension them off or wait until they leave the service or engage fewer of the younger people coming along. You can, of course, do something there.
Do not engage in adventures like land utilisation. The Labour party will find the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Agriculture a very expensive toy. He cost the party below me a very large sum in money alone, apart from other difficulties, and I advise the Government to lock him up and not let him spend money. It will not do any good. Unless you make up your minds to make farming profitable, it is no good putting a lot of people on the land.
The imponderable spirit of economy will do a great deal as there is a spirit of extravagance about. Lastly, I say, although, of course, I shall not he agreed with that you do most, not by expecting too much from economies, but on the one hand by refusing new expenditure, and on the other by some scheme of Imperial reorganisation which will make this Empire of ours an economic unity on modern lines. You can do a great deal in that way. When you do that, industry revives and you can reduce taxation, and then industry will revive still further. Do not again increase the Civil Service by 30,000 people, as last year. That is no good, as it simply means spending money because you have engaged the people and you cannot dismiss them.
There are two things I want to say in conclusion. It is the task of the Government to economise. It will be the task of the Conservative party, and I trust they will be equal to it. It is an extraordinarily difficult task, as everything is against it. Against the Chancellor of the Exchequer stands every one of his own colleagues. They all want to spend money except the Prime Minister, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to hold out against them. He will 476 be beaten except on the one condition that the Prime Minister backs him up. If those two interlock, if the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are agreed that they will economise, they have got the Treasury as their instrument, and then they can effect very great economies.
I agree with every word said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young), who made a very interesting speech just now. I believe that we are in the position of a prudent business manager who, looking at the affairs of his business, sees that bankruptcy is not an impossible thing, but also sees that if he takes wise action, he may prevent it. We are approaching a time when, unless we are careful, we shall be in that state. I believe we can avoid it, but it wants a very different temper from that which politicians have shown in the past. All the Governments before this one—Coalition, Labour and Conservative—have all spent too much, while the Liberal party have not had their chance since the War. If there is this change, if there is a real unseating of this country from the position we have held for generations, the first to suffer will be the workers, and the Socialist party will find that they will go down equally in the disaster which will follow. They will not gain by their country's troubles. They are equally concerned with those of us in the Conservative party and I hope, from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to-day, that we shall see a new treatment of these problems by Governments and by Chancellors of all parties, and that we are all going to make an effort to keep our country out of the pit into which she is in danger of falling.
§ Mr. BENSON
In listening to the speeches from the opposite party, one would come to the conclusion that they were really terrified of the present state of affairs, that the extraordinarily rapid slump had scared them, and that they really did believe that it was essential in the national interest that there should be stringent cuts in the national expenditure. Unfortunately for that point of view, some of us have long memories and remember how 18 months ago, long before the slump started, they made exactly the same kind of speeches that they have made to-day. I have no doubt 477 that some hon. Member opposite will get up and say, "We told you so; the slump is due to the high taxation." There might be something in that argument if the slump was localised in this country, but it is a world-wide slump; there is not an industrial country in the world which is not affected by it. Of all the countries that are affected by it, this country has weathered the storm best of all. Listening to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite I have come to the conclusion they are far more concerned to damage the Government than to do anything else.
Responsible gentlemen, or gentlemen who ought to be responsible, get up and talk about national bankruptcy. The right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) said we were very near it. Let us examine it. I am perfectly well aware that things are desperately bad. But merely because there is a temporary slump, it does not mean that the country is nearly bankrupt. I go so far as to ay that in a normal year we can carry the present burden of taxation without feeling it. The growth of wealth in this country has been so enormous during the last few years, that it is capable of carrying the burden of taxation. It has been suggested that the engine of direct taxation has reached its limit. Let us see the direction that one important direct tax is taking. What about the reservoir from which Estate Duties come? In 1920–21 the amount of estates coming under review for Death Duties amounted to £253,000,000. In 1928–29, the last figure published by the Board of Inland Revenue, it was £365,000,000—an increase of £112,000,000 in those years. The total Estate Duties payable amounted to £68,000,000. So that in the decade that has just passed, the increase in estates coming under review has been practically double the total of the amount of Estate Duty charged. It is nonsense to say that the country is at the end of its resources as far as direct taxation is concerned.
Let us take the question of Super-tax. Judging from the mournful speeches that we hear every time there is an economy debate, one would gather that this country was steadily being reduced to poverty. I take the year 1920–21, not from malice aforethought, but because 478 it was the first year in which Super-tax was reduced to the £2,000 level, and it gives me the longest period of comparison. In that year, the total amount of incomes coming under review for Super-tax was £530,000,000. In 1928–29, the last figures available, the amount was £531,000,000. These figures have been practically stationary during those 10 years, but prices have slid down from an index of 236 to an index of 165.
§ Mr. GRANVILLE GIBSON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in 1921 we were in the middle of the slump following the War, and that that does not apply to 1928?
§ Mr. BENSON
If the hon. Gentleman will examine the figures as published by the Board of Inland Revenue, lie will find that the figures I am giving are by no means an incorrect statement of the situation.
§ Mr. GIBSON
I am afraid that the hon. Member does not quite follow the point. He is conveying to the House that in 1921 the figure for Super-tax was £531,000,000, and that it was similar in 1928, and that during that period there had been a decrease in the price of commodities, and the cost of living. The point I want the hon. Member to note is that in 1928 we were not in a bad period of depression, but in 1921 we were in the trough of a depression. Therefore, the figures for 1921 are not a reasonable comparison.
§ Mr. BENSON
Let me give the figures for the intervening period. In 1922 they were £589,000,000 and in the following years £530,000,000, £538,000,000, £544,000,000, £552,000,000, £548,000,000 and £531,000,000.
§ Mr. BENSON
And it returned to exactly the same figure in 1923. The figures I have given are practically an average, and there was very little variation in the Super-tax returns during that period. There has been, on the other hand, an enormous reduction in the cost-of-living amounting to 43 per cent. That means that the Super-tax payer, although he still receives the same amount in cash, so far as goods and services are concerned, has the equivalent of an increase- 479 of £228,000,000 a year in income, or 4½ times the whole of the Super-tax he pays.
There is not the slightest evidence that this country is incapable of bearing the burden, or the slightest evidence that would justify an attempt to cut down the social services, or that this country ought to be stampeded into legislation of any kind. The right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) told us that capital was being driven abroad. The right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon always seems to confirm the worst statements of the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks. I am well aware that capital is going abroad, hut capital has gone abroad from this country for the last 100 years. Is it going abroad more rapidly now than hitherto? Before the War, we used to put our chests out, and refer to it as the export of capital and as foreign investments. Now, with a Labour Government in power, the Government are accused of driving it away. What is the situation? In the five years prior to the War, capital went abroad at an average of about £160,000,000 a year. Since the War, it has averaged £100,000,000, in spite of very much higher prices. So that, despite our enormous increase in taxation since the War, capital has been flowing abroad at a much smaller rate than it did before the War, when there was lighter taxation.
Where has capital to go if it gets scared? If capital gets scared, it will be due to speeches like those to which we have listened from the Front Bench opposite, rather than from anything that the present Government do. It will be due to talk of bankruptcy. Where does capital go? Is this the only country that is increasing its expenditure? It has been said time and again from the benches opposite that, while we are piling up our expenditure, other countries are reducing theirs. I have taken the trouble to look up in the Statistical Abstract of the League of Nations the budgets of various countries in Europe for the last three years, and I find that in practically every case there is a large increase. Sweden increased 5 per cent., Austria 8 per cent., Hungary 8 per cent., Germany 10 per cent., Rumania 10 per cent., Portugal 11 per cent., France 480 15 per cent., Bulgaria 24 per cent., Greece 24 per cent., Finland 25 per cent., Holland 27 per cent., Belgium 24 per cent., Poland 40 per cent., and Russia 50 per cent. The United States increased 10 per cent. During those three years Great Britain reduced her expenditure by 2 per cent., and even if the estimated increase for 1930–31 be added, it brings the increase to only 3 per cent., as against those enormous increases in foreign countries.
The whole case that has been put up against the Government to-day is a case that either depends on a complete falsification of the evidence, or is an attempt to stampede the country against the Government. The Government and the country are not going to be stampeded. We shall pass through this temporary slump, and, thank Heaven, we shall have the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to see to it that our future expenditure is financed out of direct taxation, and not out of indirect taxation, as is the aim of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Major KINDERSLEY
We may well leave the hon. Member who has just spoken to the tender mercies of his own Chancellor of the Exchequer. His speech was interesting because it showed the difference of view which now exists between the Chancellor and those who sit behind him. The hon. Member accused us on these benches of spreading alarm about the condition of the national credit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite cheer, but I do not know whether they were in the House and listened to the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain. They were not the words of a private Member or of a Member in Opposition, or of anyone who sits on the Opposition Front Bench. They were the words of a man who is responsible for the finances of this country, and no word that has been said from these benches can possibly be more serious than the words that were used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the present financial position of this country. I could not help being reminded, when I heard him, of the old lines:The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be;The devil was well, the devil a monk was he.481 Because it is only now, when the situation of the country has been exposed by the officials of the Treasury, who gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance, that we get a public confession by the Chancellor of what most informed people who have anything to do with finance have known for the last 18 months or two years. There are many who sit on these benches whose business it is to be occupied in finance and who are supposed—very often wrongly supposed—for that reason to have a great knowledge of finance, They are connected, in the minds of hon. Members opposite and other hon. Members, with the City of London, and for that very reason they have always felt a sense of responsibility when they speak upon these matters in this House, in order that they may not offend the national credit. I am perfectly certain that speeches such as we have heard to-day from this side of the House would have been made long before this but for the fact that the last thing that any man with a sense of responsibility wishes is to do any damage to the national credit.
Now the position is quite different. The cat is out of the bag. After the statements made by the officials of the Treasury, and now by the Chancellor, there is no need to continue to keep our mouths shut and not say those things of which we have been aware for the last two years. On these matters the public are insufficiently informed. Until to-night the country has been rather like a wife with a weak and indulgent husband who does not dare to go to her and say, "Things are bad and we shall have to alter our way of living." We all know the end in that case. It ends in that word to which so much exception was taken by the last speaker—bankruptcy. The country, I say, has been in that position, but it has not known, or not realised, until to-night what the real situation is. If the House will bear with me, I want to deal with one aspect of this question, a very important one. I want to get some common ground with hon. Members opposite—
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ Major KINDERSLEY
For the purposes of my argument I want to get 482 some common ground with hon. Members opposite. I would ask them to remember the life this country lives. Everyone knows that we have to import a very large proportion of our food and of the raw materials of our industry, and that we pay for them in two ways, by the export of our manufactures and by what are called our invisible exports, which are the services we render to the world in various ways. Those are facts which no Government can alter. Last year, according to the "Board of Trade Journal," there was an adverse visible balance of trade of £392,000,000. That adverse visible balance has to be made up, and we believe, though the figures are largely conjectural, that it is made up by what are called our invisible exports. The chief of those, of course, is the interest which we receive from our investments abroad. The fact that we do receive such an enormous amount of revenue from our investments abroad shows the infinite importance to this country of the maintenance of national credit and international credit, because if international credit crumbles it means that that vast revenue which we draw from our foreign investments will not come in. Our other invisible exports are shipping, the services which we render in the City of London and in the other great centres of this country in the way of banking and insurance, and the multitudinous activities of the great commercial centres.
The vast sum which is found by those services is only found, and can only be found, if the national credit is secure, because the efficiency—the possibility even—of those services depends upon the maintenance of our national credit. If that is to any extent shaken in the eyes of the world, what happens? It becomes a question of the daily bread of this country, because it is by those services that we fill up that great gap, amounting last year to nearly £400,000,000, between our visible exports and our visible imports. What are those imports? They are, very largely, the food which we put into our mouths and the raw materials which we must have for our industries. This question of national credit is at the very base of the existence of this country, and when I use the word "existence" I mean it literally—the breakfast table.
§ Mr. MARLEY
Would it be better, in this time of slump, if we were actually paying by direct exports?
§ Major KINDERSLEY
I entirely agree. We should then be saving a great deal of money and increasing our foreign investments, but in the present depressed state of our industry how can it be done? The credit of a country, like the credit of an individual, depends mainly upon two things, first of all upon the belief of other people in a country's honesty and its intention to honour its obligations, and, secondly, in its ability to do so. If our national credit were undermined, every man, woman and child in this country would be affected. It is impossible to conceive any greater disaster than any reflection upon the credit of this country. When listening to the Chancellor this afternoon I wondered what Gladstone would have said if he had been able to foresee, 30 or 40 years ago, that a British Chancellor of the Exchequer would get up in this House and say what the Chancellor said about the present danger to the financial stability of this country.
The Chancellor said with justice—and I agree with him—that this question of economy is very largely, if not entirely, a question of policy. It is very easy to talk about economy, and very difficult to get agreement as to the economies to be made. But there is one thing that can be done. The Government can say, "We will stop every penny of unnecessary expenditure; we will stop passing Acts of Parliament like the Bill which was under discussion last night." We can stop passing Bills such as that which commit the country to unknown sums, and until the country sees that the party opposite are determined, not merely to make such economies as they can, but to stop this orgy of spending, no speeches by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do any good. The country wants to be confident that the new legislation which has been poured out since the Government came into office, nearly all of it involving expenditure, is going to stop and that there will be some attempt to remove the abuses of which we have heard to-day and which everybody knows. I do not want to exaggerate. Everything in this world is abused and always will be; but there is no need to make it 484 more easy to abuse the dole. Still, it is no use coming to the House with words such as the Chancellor used to-day and at the same time passing Measures such as we were asked to pass last night. I am sure there are those on the benches opposite who do not attempt to deny that they regard the capitalist system as a system which has got to go [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Exactly. They are perfectly honest about, it. They have always said so, and I, for one, have always taken them at their word. I have believed what they have said and from them we can expect no approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's policy. In fact, the deeper the country gets into the mire, the more they think they see the breakdown of what they call the capitalist system.
§ Mr. BENSON
We admit as Socialists that we desire the capitalist system to pass, but that is a very different thing from the statement the hon. Member is trying to force upon us. that we desire it to collapse.
§ Major KINDERSLEY
I do not know how the hon. Member thinks he can substitute the Socialist system for the capitalist system without first destroying the capitalist system. At any rate, the result of trying to graft the Socialist system on to the capitalist system is one of the worst ways of destroying it, and one of the reasons for what we see. There are others who think that they are the intelligensia of the Government, but what about hon. Members below the Gangway? They go to the high priests of the revolutionary party and say, "What will you give us to betray our country?" [Interruption.] They have betrayed their country in regard to the Trade Disputes Bill which they are supporting in return for the promise of the alternative vote. What a part for a great party which was led by the great leader to whom I have referred to play in the present crisis in this country. I think the party below the Gangway richly deserved this Vote of Censure.
§ Mr. R. J. RUSSELL
There is no subject which seems to empty the House and at the same time engenders so much passion as the subject of economy. I have always been a strict economist in every walk of life, but I do not think it is much use Piling up figures to prove 485 a case either for or against. There are certain elementary facts which we have to observe, and which in this ease are sufficient to induce me to support this Amendment. With regard to the need for economy, it is only necessary to state the fact that at the present moment our expenditure, national and local, run to the gigantic figure of about £1,200,000,000. Of course, a huge figure like that asks for criticism, but the figure itself is not the most important fact, because what is more important is the result of such heavy taxation. That is the important fact which we have to face, and it is proof that something needs to be done. The fact that we are piling up a figure of that kind is the truest indication of a need for national economy. The ideal taxation is something which can be borne with comfort by the community generally. To-day, in the homes of the people, taxation is a cruel burden bringing widespread distress, bankruptcies, and the overhanging dread of bankruptcies. It is possible to conceive even an Income Tax which a man will grumble at but go away saying that it is not going to punish him very much and he can still have a good game of golf and forget all about it.
The burden of heavy taxation on the country as a whole is producing a spirit of resentment leading to reckless finance which is harmful and detrimental to trade. Every penny of taxation must have one of two effects. It must either increase the cost of the commodities we produce or reduce the standard of living of the people. We decided not to reduce the standard of living, setting ourselves consistently against anything that would do it, with the result that the cost of commodities has gone up. Every pair of boots is now costing more money. The products of engineering and other trades are costing very much more than they used to cost, with the result that we have more unemployment at the present time.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I call attention to the fact that neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is on the Treasury Bench at the present moment?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
As a rule, we blame the War for the condition in which the 486 country finds itself at the present moment. The War has left us with very great burdens, but what has been our attitude towards those burdens? That is a very important question at the present time, and it is a question to which a very definite answer ought to be given. The Debt should call for increased effort or increased sacrifice. I think it will be found that the whole direction of our administration during the latter halt of the War, and during the period which has elapsed since the War, has been in the opposite direction. In the first place, we have reduced effort, we increased the number of those serving, and we have reduced the services, and at the same time we prevented that contribution in sacrifice which every citizen should make. We put on a bonus scheme which applies to a very large section of the workers of this country, and correlating it with a cost-of-living scale and prevented people from giving that contribution which they would have been able to give if such a scheme had not been in existence. Those who are not in sheltered places have had to bear the burden and brunt of all, and they are just the people who ate producing the commodities by which this country lives. The workers in shipyards, cotton mills, woollen mills and in agriculture are, in effect., in unsheltered positions, and they are making that contribution which others in sheltered occupations should have made and are not making. The effect of these two factors in industry is well illustrated by the figures relating to the engineering industry. In 1930, with an average production of 57,449 tons, the value was £2,280,000. On the 13th of October, 1930, with a production of 44,000 tons, the value had increased to over £4,000,000. How can the engineering industry with such a vast increase compete in world trade? We ask the country to make that contribution in sacrifice which ought to have been made if we are to keep our debts as low as they ought to be at the present time.
It has been said that something must be done. I think something is going to be done. I am acting in the spirit which was suggested by the spokesman of hon. Members above the Gangway at the conclusion of his speech—the Council of State. I want to get away from all this party bickering on the question of national economy for only by so doing can we prevent the setting up of pre- 487 judices which will prevent action. I will give one example without giving its source of the way in which in a certain trade the cost of production was greatly increased. In 1908 a certain appointment was made at £350 per annum rising to £600. Two years after the commencement of the War another scale was substituted for that appointment of £600 rising to £1,000. Within the first 12 months after the War another scale was instituted of £1,350 rising to £1,850. Besides that there was appointed half a dozen assistants to take on a share of the work that was being done. Consequently you had this position, that not only did you decrease the service but you increased the salary which was £350 at the beginning to the figure of £1,850. That is a sample of what is going on in many of our social services. Hon. Members know perfectly well that one of the things that has happened with regard to our social services is that they are being run at such a high cost that it is impossible to expand them. I want to increase our social services, but it cannot be done because we have increased so much the cost of those services. It is from that point of view that I want to face this question to-day. I do not suggest that these are the only causes of the economic prices, but these are the causes that we can touch. Members of this House may talk about the gold standard; they may talk about the full cellars in New York and the full stockings in France. We cannot touch them, but we can reduce our taxation so that our own people may be the better able to meet foreign competition, and thus, in the end, bring about a cessation of that hoarding of which we have heard so much. The question arises, what can be done? I suggest that a great deal can be done. I do not believe any of the flamboyant nonsense that we hear to the effect that nothing is possible here, but that something very successful is possible somewhere else. It is, however, practicable at an early date considerably to reduce our national expenditure.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I will give figures in a moment. Take the figure of £1,200,000,000 which I have mentioned. If a Committee were appointed and went to work in a 488 proper way, it could bring about a reduction of 10 per cent. A 10 per cent. reduction, namely, £120,000,000, is worth having, and, even if it were only five per cent., I think that the whole community in this country would feel that we were beginning to do something that needed to be done. Then we can, if we will, face the problem as a whole. It is not only a problem of our national finance as we understand it in the Budget. There are vast sums spent that do not appear either in rates or in the Budget.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
I do not know what my hon. Friend's experience of party funds may be, but I have none, so I shall have to take his word. The question is, how is it going to be done? That is the crux of the matter so far as it affects Members on these benches and in other parts of the House. I submit that we shall not make any progress in regard to this question of economy by merely passing votes of censure. It is no use the pot continuing to call the kettle black. To listen to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway telling hon. Gentlemen opposite that they should save money is one of the humorous incidents of our national life. [Interruption.] That is the experience that we have had on both sides—that they do not know how to do it. But there is a way in which it can be done. I do not think we Shall make any progress by talking about axes. If we are to bring about economy in this country, it must be done in the way that is suggested in the Amendment which has been moved from these benches. We must have a just and sympathetic inquiry into details. It is not the method of the axe, but the method, shall I say, of the radiograph, the scalpel and the tweezers, that must be adopted. The national expenditure must be dissected in order to find out where we can save.
Gladstone has been quoted to-day. What was his dictum with regard to finance? It was that, no matter how small the saving, it was worth having. If a committee could be appointed to go firmly, sympathetically and critically into this vast expenditure, I have no hesitation in saying that it could bring about a very considerable reduction in our national expenditure at the present time. It must, however, be done with sym- 489 pathetic, well-adjusted and continuous effect. It is no use approaching this matter from the standpoint of prejudice. It must be dealt with because we mean business, and it is because we on these benches mean business that the Amendment we have moved has been put upon the Order Paper to-day. I hope that the House will accept the Amendment, and let us get busy on these lines.
§ Major BRAITHWAITE
I do not think that anyone in this country minds the spending of public money if it is going to be spent prudently and wisely, but to-day, particularly in the business world, there is an element of absolute disgust at the national spending which is taking place. It bears absolutely no relation to the national trade and business, and you cannot go on spending money unless the country is earning money. During the lifetime of this Parliament I have not seen a single act calculated to enable this country to earn another additional penny. On the contrary, I have seen acts of extravagance which have taken away money which should have gone into trade and business, to be used for the resuscitation and revival of our great basic industries, and used it extravagantly in social services which we cannot afford.
§ Major BRAITHWAITE
I refer at once to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. We cannot afford to go on paying out this money under a scheme which no longer remains an insurance scheme.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present.
§ Viscount WOLMER
On a point of Order. May I call your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that it is less than half-an-hour since the previous occasion on which a count was called?
§ House counted; and, 40 Members being present—
§ Major BRAITHWAITE
I want to Thank the hon. Member for his originality and courtesy in calling a count, seeing that one was called a very short time ago when he was in the House. The party below the Gangway are asking that a committee of inquiry should be appointed to deal with this matter of 490 national economy, but there is no necessity for a committee or an inquiry. The problem is so obvious to every Member of this House, and to the country in general, that it ought to be tackled at once in a proper and reasonable way.
I will give Members on the Government Bench a simple illustration of the waste of money that has taken place in this country. I happen to be the chairman of the only co-operative colliery in Great Britain, where we employ 500 miners. Those miners purchased this coal mine because they had been on the dole for a year, and did not wish to remain on the dole. They got together a sufficient sum to enable them to open the colliery, and they started to work. For 18 months they have carried on, and have been able to keep steadily employed during the whole of that period. Now, for the want of an odd £20,000 of capital to enable them to get over some of their difficulties in working the pit, they are faced with the necessity of going back on the dole, and there is no Department of the Government that can help in a situation of that sort. The Government are willing to put men on the land and to find money for smallholdings, but, when a group of miners want to mine their own coal, the Government will not do anything at all to help them. Is it better to pay these men £37,000 a year in unemployment benefit or to find them sufficient capital to enable them to carry on their business? That is a very simple and a very human case which I put to the Government as indicating one of the ways in which they can help to get people back into proper employment. Our greatest extravagance in this country to-day lies in the number of unemployed people that we have to maintain. There are many such ways which are practicable, and which the Government could Use to get men back into their occupations, and so make things easier all round.
One thing that has hit this country more than anything else during the past year is the absolute lack of confidence which exists, and which, very largely, is due to the fact that the Government have brought forward no Measure to help industry, but all the time have been increasing these social burdens. Surely, the national trade should bear a steady 491 relationship to the amount of money that we spend on these objects. If that were the case, I am certain that there would be a return of confidence which would build up trade and business vigorously and quickly. I have had opportunities of seeing something of the United States during this period of depression, having been in very close touch with interests that I have over there. I know that we are not alone in our difficulties, but that other countries are suffering similarly; but they are taking active practical steps to deal with the situation. They are not simply letting the grass grow under their feet; they are taking vigorous measures to deal with the problem of getting more business. In the United States they are tightening up their imports all the time. Where they find depression in an industry, they immediately tighten it up and get their own people going again.
I do not want to enter into matters which have no relevance to this Debate, but, at a time like this, when economy is so necessary, and when our greatest extravagance lies in the number of unemployed people that we have, the Government should take active and vigorous steps to correct this matter. There are many abuses in connection with our social services, but the Government do not seem to have any knowledge of them. In connection with unemployment insurance there are very grave and serious abuses. I understand that in the port of Hull to-day there are dockers working three days a week, earning from £3 to £5 during those three days, and then drawing unemployment insurance pay for the other three days. Is that a sort of thing that ought to be tolerated? The Government ought to tackle most vigorously and put a stop to abuses of that sort, when they know that this money which is taken from the taxpayer is very hardly won, and is money which should go into trade and business to help to build it up.
I feel certain that on such lines a good deal could be done. I hope that the Government will look into the little practical illustration which I have given of the way in which it is possible to help men who desire to help themselves, and will see if, among all their Departments, 492 they cannot find some means of assisting at any rate the enterprise to which I have referred, and of which some Members of the Government have full knowledge. Everyone is alarmed at the debit balance of our trading of £329,000,000 last year. That deficit is going to be increased in the future unless steps are taken, and, if the balance between imports and exports goes on working against us in this way, there will not be that cash availability for us to get our industries back on to a proper basis. We need those figures really levelling up, and I cannot conceive that we shall ever be able to get rid of a great many of these burdensome charges until we have tackled this problem from the trading point of view.
I ask the Government to give to the business community, upon whom the whole future prosperity of the country depends, some measure of hope that they are going, before they spend a single penny of public money, to look very carefully which way it is going and how it will benefit the country. From the business section of Great Britain you will find a steady response to your spending if it is spent in the right way. We do not want to see anyone going short of anything that he should have, but we do not want to see these forms of extravagance and abuse which are really taking away the prestige of this great and honourable House. I feel that this Debate may do a good deal to bring some real information from the Government. If that is forthcoming, it will do much to steady the confidence of industrial Britain when it wants it so much.
I am certain that nothing can come of an Amendment like that proposed by hon. Members below the Gangway. In fact, from all that I have heard and seen of the Leader of that party, he has been the inciting force to extravagance in practically every Measure that has come along during the past few months. The idea of raising a great national loan for spending on public works is a piece of extravagance which the country cannot afford, and I hope the Government are not going to take that Amendment, but are going to profit by the Debate and give the country the assurance that they are not going to spend any more than is necessary or to launch out on any schemes which are going to prove more and more 493 costly. If I may say one word on the Bill that was passed last night for dealing with the land, it is going to cost the country a very great deal of money, and probably more than many Members on the Government side realise. I should have thought they would know—
§ Major BRAITHWAITE
I was only trying to point out that I thought this purchase of land at this time was an extravagance that we could very well have done without. It has caused very grave alarm in my constituency. If we can find, from the course of this Debate, that the Government are really determined to cut down in every possible way this extravagant expenditure on social services, which are unnecessary and unwarranted, I feel sure that many Members on this side of the House will do their utmost to support them.
§ Mr. W. J. BROWN
There is no reason to expect that the Conservative Vote of Censure on the Government will be passed. There is, however, every reason to fear that the Government may feel tempted to accept the Amendment which has been proposed from the benches below the Gangway. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made it quite clear that the difficulty about economy in the national Budget is that the overwhelming mass of the national Budget, certainly in regard to the Supply Services, is con-tractable expenditure—expenditure under Act of Parliament—which cannot be modified except by new Acts of Parliament. My own experience of economy committees during the last 10 years shows that they usually resolve themselves into committees for attacking the standard of life of underpaid civil servants. I have lived through the Geddes Committee period and also the Anderson Committee period. Both of those committees effected a sharp worsening in the position of civil servants, and I should like to tell the House this, with some sense of restraint. I have never seen such widespread and bitter discontent as exists in the Civil Service at present and, if the effect of appointing a committee of inquiry is going to be still further to exacerbate the feelings that already exist, I ask the House to accept my statement 494 that they will lose in efficiency and willing service very much more than they gain by effecting paltry economies at the expense of the underpaid civil servant.
There is a common impression, borne out by what was said by the last speaker from those benches, that the civil servant is paid an extravagant bonus. I should like in two or three sentences to tell the House the truth about that. The civil servant gets a bonus which gives him full compensation for the increase in the cost of living only in respect of the first 35s. a week of his salary. On any salary between 35s. and £200 a year he gets only half the compensation for the increase in the cost of living as measured by the index figure, and on any salary above £200 the degree of compensation varies from a third down to vanishing point on the higher salaries. There are 170,000 civil servants getting less than £3 10s. a week, and it is now proposed to impose a sharp cut upon their wages as from 1st March. I hope that, in whatever direction they may seek economy, it will not be in that direction, for, however much the Government may shelter, when outside wages are concerned, behind the fact that industry is still in private hands, no Government can escape full responsibility for the conditions of service under which its own people work, and I should like some responsible spokesman of the Liberal party to make it plain that, whatever views they may hold about the necessity for national economy, that historic party is not looking for economies at the expense of the underpaid servants of the State. So far that word has been lacking from those benches, and I hope the omission will be made good before the Debate closes.
I should like to say this in regard to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In my view, it is the most revolutionary speech that has been delivered in this Parliament. I have often listened to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who is reputed to be a revolutionary, and to the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway) and others, but, if the consequences of the right hon. Gentleman's speech are analysed, it will justify the description which I now apply to it as the most revolutionary single speech delivered in this Parliament. It was revolutionary prim- 495 arily in this sense, that it struck at the very root of the whole philosophy of constitutional and peaceful progression upon which the Labour movement has been built up. One right hon. Gentleman opposite said he was afraid of the intellectual because he stuck to an idea through thick and thin. It is in the main the intellectuals of the Labour movement who have worked out the philosophy of its progression, and the essence of the idea upon which this party has been built up is the idea that, if you could acquire sufficient political power in this House, you could by peaceful and constitutional legislation gradually transform one state of society into a new state of society. We have acquired so much power as to give us the largest single party in this House, but not a majority. When the decision was taken that this party would assume the responsibility of office, the main justification for it was that, though not in power, our position in office would give us a chance of doing a great deal of good in a quiet way.
The Chancellor's speech to-day represents the complete destruction of that aim. It prepares the mind of this House for the sacrifice of the unemployed man and woman. It is a clear indication of even more vigorous opposition from the Chancellor to legislation involving expansions of the Social services. It is the plainest possible intimation that we have reached the position that some of us anticipated we would reach of becoming the humble custodian of the capitalist interest which we were sent here to destroy. The electoral consequences of that speech will loom large in English history. But what a speech a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer might have delivered! He might have said first, "I deny your claim that public expenditure is too high," and he might have proved it by reference to the figures of income for the last 10 years, which show that, in a period of unprecedented slump, the national income has remained roughly consistent at the 1924 level. He might have proved it by reference to the Death Duties, which show that 70 per cent. of the wealth represented by all the estates falling in in one year is owned by 6 per cent. of the persons dying in that year. He might have evidenced it in a thousand ways. Next, he might have said, "But even 496 if you are right in saying that we cannot increase public expenditure, and even that we have to reduce it, at least I will try to reduce it in the directions in which it ought to be reduced, and not put a barrier against further expansions of the social services of the country."
I have given figures about Civil Service wages. Let me draw a contrast. A wage of 45s. in 1921 has sunk during the last 10 years until now it is down to 28s. 1d., and the Government are proposing to reduce it to 26s. 5d. from 1st March. A wage of 79s. 6d. in March, 1921, has already been reduced to 49s. 6d., and the Government propose to reduce it still further to 46s. 6d. A wage of 110s. in 1921 has already been reduced to 70s. 9d., and the Government propose to reduce it to 66s. 11d. Contrast that with the treatment which is extended to the bondholders in this country. The bondholders and the banks are still being paid the same nominal rate of interest, but in pounds, it is worth 60 per cent. more than the pounds which the country borrowed from them during the War. I am amazed at the Conservative party. There is a sense in which the great struggle of to-day is not so much between the workman and the industrialist, but between the pair of them and the bondholders. There is a tremendous sense in which both the entrepreneur and the workman are alike in pawn to the bankers and the money merchants.
But what does our Socialist Chancellor say? You can summarise his speech in a sentence in this way by saying that he said to the House, "So high do I regard the interests of the City of London, so high do I regard the interests of the banker and the moneylender, that I am prepared to go back upon the whole of my political life, to unsay every word of political advice that I have ever given to the workpeople of this country rather than to do anything which would cause me to be regarded as ungrateful by the City of London, which conferred its freedom upon me." I say that it is a monstrous thing, and if there is only one Labour Member in this House with courage enough to say it publicly, I will be that man It is monstrous that a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer should have made the kind of speech which has been delivered from those benches to-day, for that speech represents 497 the surrender of the whole philosophy of the Labour movement, not merely the philosophy of the Clyde, but the philosophy of the Front Bench at the bidding of the financial interests in this country.
In my view, the humiliating position of the Government to-day—and it has been humiliating enough—arises primarily from their failure to face the economic crisis with which this country is confronted. Because we have no adequate programme for dealing with unemployment, the economic crisis intensifies outside. We stagger from crisis to crisis in this matter, and it is almost becoming true that the Government have neither the guts to govern nor the grace to get out. That is beginning to be true. Because they will not move on unemployment, they are compelled to face up to the necessity of spending larger sums of money upon Unemployment Insurance. When I have had to go about the country I have been asked what justification can be given for our continuance in office? I have sometimes heard a reply given that if we have not been able to provide the unemployed man with work, we have at least provided him with maintenance. How much longer is this to be continued? What was the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day on Unemployment Insurance except a deliberate preparation of the mind of this House for revising the present Unemployment Insurance arrangements? What was it, if it was not that?
We are getting to a stage where the slender justification for remaining in office without power is disappearing completely I have tried to say in one or two previous Debates in this House that there is a grave danger in this country of the spread of movements similar to those which have gone like wildfire across the Continent of Europe in recent years. I believe that if any one circumstance can bring the day of the birth of such movements in England nearer, it will be the speech which has been delivered. The miners have looked to us for justice in vain. The cotton operatives have looked to us for justice in vain. The railways will be looking for justice shortly, and they will look in vain. The Civil Service has looked for justice in vain, and now we are getting to the stage where the unemployed man is also going to look 498 for justice in vain, because of the elementary truth that you cannot accept capitalist premises without being driven to capitalist conclusions.
I believe that throughout the country, amongst decent-minded Liberals, amongst the more intelligent of the younger Conservatives, and certainly among the underpaid masses of this country, the speech of the Chancellor to-day will be a red letter in the history of the Labour movement. I believe that it will lead, rapidly and speedily to the conclusion that there has got to be born and develop in England a new movement, with new men discarding the philosophies of the old parties, taking their stand on the practical realities of the case, and appealing to this country for action instead of words, for decision instead of indecision, for courage instead of cowardice, and for the will to see justice done in our time, because the heart of our people cries out that justice shall be done.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
There is so much cant and so much hypocrisy in this country today, and especially among its politicians, that it is a great relief to have heard the speech which the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) has just delivered and which, from his own particular standpoint, is absolutely unanswerable. There is no answer to it. The hon. Member who last spoke from the Liberal benches said that what we wanted was a sympathetic committee with a sympathetic outlook, and nothing more formidable than a pair of tweezers, in order radically to deal with this question of economy.
There was a good deal more talk about a Council of, State and forming this House into a joint committee of brothers in arms to tackle this problem. I hope that after the Debate to-day we have heard the last of the idea of a Council of State. There has never been any intention on the part of the Government of forming this House into a Council of State, and it is clear from the attitude that we take up in this Debate that there is no longer any intention on the part of our leaders, or on the part of anyone on this side of the House, to assist the present Administration in any way. Our objective is to turn out the present Administration at the first possible moment. That is the whole object of this Vote 499 of Censure. Therefore, for goodness sake do not let us have any more nonsense on the subject of a Council of State.
I very much regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not here while the last speech was being delivered. No attack that I could possibly make upon him or upon his policy could equal the attack that has just been delivered not only upon him but upon the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer concluded his speech by making an appeal to this House to stop making party capital out of the present position of the country and, above all, to stop party bickering. What example did he give in his speech, or in the earlier part of it? He delivered a most savage partisan attack against the late Government for some of their sins of omission or commission. He even went so far as to accuse the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) of having passed a Widows' Pension Act in the first year of the last Administration. I wonder, if the right hon. Gentleman really objected to the principle of the Widows' Pension Act or whether that portion of his speech was merely used for the purpose of scoring a party point and making party capital at the expense of the right hon. Member for Epping.
The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to talk about pledges. He said that it was a bad thing that the various political parties in this country made pledges at elections which involved the country in additional expenditure. No party in the State has made more pledges to the electors during the last 10 years than the party of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member. The only difference between his party and our party is that, while we carry out our pledges, his Government have not made the faintest attempt to carry out the pledges with which they misled the electors at the last election. I will give one instance. Take the question of import control boards, of which we have heard so much, and on which many farmers in my constituency were persuaded to vote for a Socialist Government. That pledge has been ruthlessly dropped since then by the Labour Government. They would not even put it on the agenda for consideration at the Imperial Conference. That is how the Labour party carry out their pledges.
500 The Chancellor of the Exchequer deserves no credit whatsoever for the speech he made this afternoon. It will do no good to the country as a whole. It will not bring that confidence back to industry which I suppose it was designed to give. I believe that his own record of administration in the past and the record of his Government is primarily responsible for the very difficult and serious position in which this country finds itself. I was reading the other day some of the speeches which were made by the right hon. Gentleman in 1919 and 1920. It was very difficult to believe, as one heard him this afternoon, that the maker of those speeches was one and the same person. In those days he advocated direct taxation of something like 15s. in the pound. He advocated the most ruthless Socialistic measures and of the most stringent character. No one could say that he was a young political tyro in those days. It was after the War, and he was leading the members of the Labour movement and hon. Members who sit behind him today to believe that we could achieve—what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) is almost alone in proclaiming to-day—Socialism in our time. That was only 10 or 11 years ago. Now, he comes down to the House as the Iron Chancellor, the great defender of the present system, the ruthless champion of the most rigid economy.
There can be no doubt that drastic measures have to be taken and that drastic economies have to be made, but I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman is not the person to make them, and that hon. Members who sit behind him are not the people to support and carry through the Measures which I believe to be necessary for this country at the present time. If hon. Members opposite believe in their Socialistic premises, why do they not vote for Socialism, stand for Socialism, and go to the country upon that issue? We challenge them upon that issue. As the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton has pointed out, they are trying to carry through a capitalist system under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty. I say to hon. Members opposite: It is neither fair to yourselves nor to the capitalist system. If you are going to ask the capitalist system to see you through one of the worst economic blizzards that this country or the world has ever known, 501 give it a chance to function. Let people govern this country during that period who believe in capitalism and in whom capitalism believes, and wait until the day when the electorate give you power to sweep away the capitalist system and bring in Socialism.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer blamed my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping for a great deal of the troubles with which he is confronted. What has the right hon. Gentleman done since he became the Chancellor of the Exchequer to alleviate the present financial situation of this country Take the Unemployment Act which was passed last year. How does that help the present financial position of the country? How does the transitional benefit, which has been imposed entirely upon the Exchequer, help his Budgetary situation? How did it help it last year and how will it help it this year and next year? What about the Education Bill, if it becomes an Act? That will impose another charge of £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year. The Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill in two or three of its Clauses gives almost unlimited discretionary power to the Minister of Agriculture to spend money. We know from experience of that right hon. Gentleman in this House that he likes spending money; he enjoys nothing more. Finally, there was a Measure which in our opinion was quite unnecessary, namely, the extension, at the present time of financial stringency, of widows' pensions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot really claim to be a champion of rigid and orthodox economy. He has sanctioned at least four or five Measures which are calculated enormously to add to our difficulties by imposing burdens on the national Exchequer.
We are a great country. We have huge natural resources. We have the advantage of a great consuming market, and it is largely owing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, I believe, is a disaster as a Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we are making no use at the present time of any of the natural advantages. How does he expect us to use to the best effect those natural advantages which we possess, if he imposes an additional £46,000,000 of direct taxation upon industry, and threatens to 502 impose still more taxation upon the direct taxpayers, as his speech did this afternoon, if it meant anything at all? He admitted that he would be faced with a serious deficit. How does he think that that will inspire confidence in the future for British industry or confidence in the City? It is largely owing to the right hon. Gentleman that we are making no use whatever of one of the best assets that we have in our own home market, a consuming market of many million pounds a year. He has thrown away that asset, and by removing every possible safeguard and every protective measure he has subjected our industrialists and manufacturers to a constant additional strain and stress at a time of great difficulty. I believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more responsible than any other single man for the financial predicament in which the country finds itself.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about unemployment insurance, a position which he described as being extremely serious. It is made more serious by the result of the Measure which was passed last year by his own administration. It will cost £55,000,000 as against £12,000,000 in 1928, an increase of over £40,000,000. Take the amount borrowed by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which will never be repaid except by the Exchequer. It was £10,000,000 in 1928, £33,000,000 in 1930 and will be £40,000,000 in 1931. This is unsound finance, even a Socialist would admit that it is unsound finance. The one way to shatter credit in the financial stability of this country is to continue to borrow at the rate of £1,000,000 a week to meet current expenditure, and unproductive expenditure, and to make no provision at all for the repayment of the amount borrowed. No arrangement whatever is made for repayment. Who is going to meet that charge? Hon. Members opposite know quite well that the taxpayers sooner or later will have to repay it. If this is not unsound finance I do not know what unsound finance is.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was very angry with the right hon. Member for Epping, and called it unsound finance, when my right hon. Friend took 503 £10,000,000 out of the Sinking Fund at a time of great difficulty, but the financial policy of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has vitiated the whole principle of the Sinking Fund; in fact, there is no Sinking Fund at all, and any credit we may have derived from it has gone. I would not mind if the Chancellor of the Exchequer confined himself to making a savage attack, which he knows bow to make, on the Opposition; it was the concluding sentence of his speech, the cry for national unity and co-operation to do what no Government of itself can do, which made me angry. The right hon. Gentleman knows how unfair was his attack upon the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) and his colleague on the Unemployment Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was wrong on the facts. It was a confidential committee. My hon. and gallant Friend and his colleague presented a full report which was not accepted by the Government, and all that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could do in defending the inaction and delay of the Government was to suggest that my hon. and gallant Friend and his colleague did not make any suggestions which were of the slightest value. He had no right to make such an improper and mischievous suggestion when that report was confidential, and when neither of my hon. Friends is in a position to answer his charges. It was a most shameful thing to do.
Let me just refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Sir N. Angell). It was one of the most interesting speeches to which we have listened. He pointed out that the interest which bondholders in this country had obtained was at the expense of the entrepreneur of industry. The general arguments of his speech were unanswerable. There is no doubt that what he calls the rentier class in this country, as a result of the deflation of the last few years, have benefited enormously at the expense of the producer, whether he be an industrialist, an employer, a master or a man. All industry has had to bear that burden; but when the hon. Member for Bradford, North, says that we ought in some way to repudiate a section of our obligations we, on this side, could not 504 possibly agree, because in our view nothing is more calculated to damage British credit than any form of repudiation of a national obligation. I agree with the hon. Member for Bradford that the most strenuous efforts should be made, and ought to have been made for the last two years by the Government, to stop the continuous drift downwards of commodity prices all over the world, which has gone on with increasing rapidity and which is still going on at the present moment.
I have addressed a question on several occasions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him what steps he is taking, or is proposing to take, to check the fall in world commodity prices. He has treated those questions as if they were a personal insult and in most cases has referred me to a previous answer given months ago. In fact, he is doing, and has done, nothing at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in the House at the time when the hon. Member for Bradford North was speaking, but with the cordial approval of hon. Members opposite the hon. Member for Bradford made a most eloquent plea for international action at an early date in order to stabilise the value of gold and to regulate the distribution of gold. No system, capitalist or otherwise, can hope to function well over a long period of years unless and until you can achieve stabilisation of prices. If you have a falling price level neither the farmer nor the industrialist can expect to make a profit because they are not able to get prices which will cover the costs of production. I believe that the steady fall in world prices is more responsible than any other single factor for the prolonged industrial depression.
I blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he has taken no action to summon an international conference, or a conference in this country, to aim at stabilisation of the price level. Let me quote the words of Sir Josiah Stamp in a remarkable article which he wrote the other day. He said:The present uncontrolled international monetary system has tacitly assumed its power to provide sufficient stability to obviate injustice and economic disaster, and has signally failed to provide it.Those are important and serious words. I appeal again to the Chancellor of the 505 Exchequer to take some action, to make some effort, to achieve that international stabilisation which is one of the most urgent desiderata of our time. We have heard something this evening upon the subject of credit. Nothing is more urgently required for the reconstruction of industry in this country than an adequate supply of credit. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has frozen up the credit of this country. It is not merely that capital is leaving the country, it is that capital in this country, of which there is still a great deal, is lying in the City of London banks frozen because nobody has the confidence to put it into productive enterprises or into British industries. That is one of the fundamental causes of the internal troubles in this country—lack of confidence. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman realises that fact, but neither his speech this afternoon nor any action which the Government have taken seems to me calculated to engender any increase of confidence in the future of British industry.
The truth is that the Government are falling between two stools. You have to find a motive power for action in any country in the world. The Communists in Russia have found that motive power, and although they have not made a great success it exists, things are happening in Russia because the Government has accepted the responsibility for providing the forces which drives industry and gets things done. The alternative to the system of Communism is to rely upon private enterprise to give you the motive power for action and enterprise, and to create wealth. It was said, and it is perfectly true, that you will not get private enterprise to function properly unless you can secure that it will receive a profit. That is the whole basis of private enterprise. Hon. Members opposite have created conditions in this country under which it is practically impossible for productive industry to make a profit, and what we suggest is that they should make way, and as soon as possible, for a Government which does believe in private enterprise and which can create conditions under which private enterprise can function, and thus once more loosen the springs and allow the wheels of industry to turn round. The trouble at the moment is primarily psychological. Industry and the City of London await with something 506 like horror the introduction of the next Budget of the right hon. Gentleman—and they are right. They have no confidence. We must get a Government which will have the ability, the courage and the determination, to carry through Measures which we believe to be necessary to our salvation, a Government with an authority which the present Government do not possess, to demand sacrifices from all classes of the community, which will be necessary if we are to pull through.
§ Mr. NOEL BAKER
An hon. Member opposite, I think it was the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Major Kindersley), said that he desired to find common ground between himself and those Members who sit on the Government benches. I want to say that I find a good deal of common ground with him and with the hon. Member who has just spoken. The hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin said in a very eloquent passage that we depended for our national life upon the international trade which we do abroad. The last speaker said that the primary and fundamental cause of the present situation is the catastrophic fall in commodity prices, 32 per cent. in the last five years, by which the whole equilibrium of the economic machine has been disturbed. I suggest that if those propositions are true, and I believe they are, there can be nothing more fantastically absurd than to suggest that the economic nationalism of the eighteenth century, for which the hon. Member spoke, can solve the present situation. Surely it must be obvious to everyone that it is only by international economic co-operation that we can solve the international problem of the present world crisis, and above all that we can deal with the extraordinarily difficult problem of regulating the level of world prices.
When the hon. Member accuses the present Government of having done nothing in this regard he must have forgotten some very important facts. His Government was in office for five years, and during that period, as a result of our return to the gold standard, prices were already falling. The Government then took no action of any kind, not even the action suggested by the hon. Member for Bradford North (Sir N. Angell). If the hon. Gentleman had understood that proposal fully he would have seen that it could have been carried through in 1925 507 without any resort to repudiation of any kind. He has forgotten also what the present Government have done. He has forgotten the work of the Macmillan Commission, which is but the preliminary study of banking policy to see if there is not some means by which price levels can be controlled. He has forgotten the establishment of the Bank of International Settlements, in which this Government took a very important part, and which is obviously an indispensable measure for the international action which is required to control price levels. And he has forgotten the work of the Gold Delegation of the League of Nations, which is being carried on with the active co-operation of our Government, and in part at their instigation.
There is more common ground even than that between us and some hon. Members opposite. I am certain there is no one on this side who is not in favour of national economy in the true sense of the word. But economy means not the avoidance of expenditure but the avoidance of waste. I have listened with great care to every speech which has been made from the Conservative benches to-day, and except for one or two rather indefinite phrases used by the right hon. Member for Ripon (Major Hills), I do not think I have traced a single indication that hon. Members opposite have any glimmering of the difference between the economy that means the avoidance of expenditure, and the economy which means the avoidance of waste. They have assumed that expenditure of every kind, whatever the purpose, is wholly wrong and bad. Surely it must be obvious that economy can only usefully be made in directions where it is not going to mean an ultimate loss to the nation.
National expenditure broadly falls into four divisons: That on account of interest on and repayment of National Debt; that for maintenance of the Civil Service and national administration; that for what we call the social services; and that for national defence. With regard to the first, the payment of interest on and the reduction of the capital of the National Debt, hon. Members opposite can make no proposal that will be too drastic for us. As regards the Civil Service and administration, I have served in several very minor capacities 508 as an official in two or three Government departments, and I do not believe either that there is extravagance in those departments, or that there is any significant saving to be effected, however closely you may pass your comb through the national administration. With regard to the social services, it has become plain, in the course of the Debate, that it is really in that direction that the Conservative party hope to make economies.
With the Minister of Health we say that we would die in the last ditch rather than economise on national social services. We say that while expenditure on the Civil Service is productive, because it enables a greater production of wealth than there could be without it, expenditure on the social services is still more productive in every way. In their heart of hearts a great many hon. Members opposite know that that is true. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Vote of Censure spoke in one sentence of education, health and housing. We believe, and believe without repentance, that expenditure to-day on education, health and housing is economic in every sense of the word. The hon. Member who spoke last quoted a very eminent authority who is not a member of the Labour party, Sir Josiah Stamp. In the year 1921 Sir Josiah Stamp wrote a paper for the Government, and it was published in 1924. In that paper—it was just before the first great unemployment crisis came—he said:The State might very usefully increase its expenditure on objects which would do the taxpayer more good than even his own expenditure could.He went on to say:For example, we might resuscitate our education programme"—the programme which was axed by the Geddes Committee. That is precisely what the present Government are trying to do. Then he added:Our housing schemes could be made more effective.We are convinced that the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) is perfectly right when he makes the calculation that preventible illness and disease costs this country £250,000,000 a year. The primary cause of that national loss is had housing, and anything that the Govern- 509 ment can do in that direction, whether through emergency work schemes or normal expenditure, is infinitely worth while in the national interest. Or let me take what hon. Members opposite say is for us the most difficult part of our expenditure on social services, I mean Unemployment Insurance. The right hon. Member who moved the Vote of Censure, and the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) did not give us a very clear account of what they wanted to do about Unemployment Insurance. But if words mean anything at all, their speeches meant that it is in that direction that the economies which must now be made, the drastic economies of which they spoke, are to be found. I do not believe it. I go so far as to say that expenditure on Unemployment Insurance at this moment is immensely in the national interest. Take it on the valuation of members of the Conservative party themselves. Suppose that it has no other purpose than the redistribution of the wealth of the country, so that shall be more equally divided between rich and poor. We maintain, as part of the thesis by which we stand, that that has the effect of stabilising the demand for the necessities of life and thereby of helping in a crisis like the present.
I say more. I say that this expenditure has had a great deal to do with preventing that spirit of panic which has arisen in other capitalist countries. I was talking the other day to an eminent financial expert—I am sorry to say that I cannot give his name because he was on a public mission, but I will give it privately to any hon. Member who desires it—who had been travelling recently in the United States, and he said that coming back to London after being there was like coming back into an atmosphere of "radiant optimism." He said that compared with our situation here, being on Wall Street was like being in a private lunatic asylum. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) was perfectly right in saying that psychology has a great deal to do with this matter and much of the difference in psychological attitude which I have indicated, is, we believe, due to our unemployment insurance system. Moreover, while the Treasury may say in their Memorandum that, in a technical sense this expenditure is unproductive because it does not 510 give an immediate monetary return, we believe that, in truth, it is productive, because it maintains in efficiency our principal capital asset, namely the health and strength of our working people. If all these drastic economies which are asked for can be found in savings from unemployment insurance, how can it have happened that the governing body of the International Labour Office, meeting at Geneva only three weeks ago, after an elaborate inquiry into unemployment covering years and participated in by 12 Governments, with representatives both of employers and Labour, should have unanimously adopted a recommendation drawing the attention of Governments "with insistence" to the need fordeveloping the existing system of insurance against total unemployment and short time, and the creation of insurance systems where they are not already in existence.We say that this expenditure is preeminently worth while, and we hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to continue it, when the Royal Commission has made its recommendations to him. I come to the fourth category of expenditure. It has been interesting to note that in the speeches from the Conservative benches there has not been a single word about expenditure on defence. May I quote again from Sir Josiah Stamp. He contrasts expenditure on social services, of which he speaks in the language which I have already quoted, with expenditure on armaments, and he says:Taxation for armies and navies is, therefore, in a class by itself for economic loss, quite different from all other Government expenditure. The economic loss is not the bare amount of expenditure or production taken; it is often considerably more for it is the production unborn.He goes on to give details of the various kinds of economic loss which follow from expenditure on preparations for war. I suggest that our expenditure on armaments is far greater than it ought to be and that our policy now ought to be to cut down that expenditure. Let it be remembered that at this moment out of every 20s. of his taxation the Chancellor is paying 11s. for the last War and of the remaining 9s. more than 3s. are going in preparations for the next. That is a fundamental fact of great importance, and I suggest that our ideas about our necessities in national defence are out of joint. We have come to assume that 511 the armaments which we have now are normal and necessary, because we have got into the habit—I think it arose from a mistake made by an armaments commission of the League of Nations in 1920—of making our comparisons always with the years 1913–14. Why 1913–14? At that date we were at the very peak of a long period of armament competition. Let me give the House some figures prepared by the most eminent living expert on Budget expenditure, Mr. Jacobsson, until lately of the Swedish War Office. In 1883, he says, Europe was spending on armaments £140,000,000; in 1908 £261,000,000, and in 1914, £404,000,000. Thus in the six years before the War this expenditure had risen by close on 50 per cent.
In 1893, Mr. Gladstone resigned from office as Prime Minister as a protest against what he believed to be the Navalism of the Government to which he belonged. When he resigned, the total expenditure of the country on defence was £33,000,000; in 1905 it was R45,000,000; in 1908 it was £59,000,000, and in 1914 it was £77,200,000. To-day, at 1914 prices, we are spending more than we spent in 1914, and we are doing so in spite of the League of Nations, in spite of Locarno, in spite of the fact that the German navy is at the bottom of the sea. Hon. Members opposite will say that part of the increase is due to the increased rate of pay of officers and men. I am glad of it, but let them take another test. Taking the test of man-power, even on the figures given by their own Secretary of State for Air a year or two ago, the reduction of our man-power from 1914 is at the very most not more than 12 per cent. or 15 per cent. Broadly speaking, our expenditure to-day, our level of armaments to-day, is 30 per cent. higher than in 1908.
§ Mr. NOEL BAKER
As the hon. Member will see in a moment—I am open to his criticism so far—the policy for which I appeal is not for a national solution, but for an international solution of the armaments problem. I believe that with the great improvements which have been 512 made in methods of warfare, with the immensely greater power of the unit of man-power, owing to its more destructive equipment, we should be able to get a great reduction in the present level of armaments, by international agreement. The policy of the Government should be to use every means in its power to lead the Disarmament Conference which is to meet in February of next year in securing a great reduction in the means of war. I welcome, warmly, the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty that he will go to that conference ready for further cuts in the Navy. I am convinced that if we want to do so, we can lead other nations in getting rid of the capital ship altogether—the floating coffin, as an hon. and gallant Member on the Conservative benches sometimes calls it. I believe that we can also get reductions of other categories of naval ships, and I am certain that our Army and Air Force, the principal functions of which is to act as Colonial police, can he drastically cut in numbers and I hope that the Government are going to Geneva with that in mind.
We want to cut armaments, first, because we believe that they lead to that economic nationalism which is destructive of the only true solution of our present problem. We want to cut them because this unproductive taxation bears heavily on the workers of every land. Sir Josiah Stamp has said that if we could get rid of armaments expenditure it would mean, for the workers, an increase in their standard of living of more than 10 per cent., which, he added, represented "the whole difference between grinding penury and a reasonable standard of comfort." Cannot we do that for our workers? I believe that we ought to be able, at any rate, to do something towards it. The working classes in this country are making sacrifices because national economies are not made in that direction. It is the workers whose standard of living is depressed. It is they to whose children are closed by this expenditure the kingdoms of knowledge, of science, of art and literature. Yet we know that not one man or woman among them wants to keep this monstrous mechanism of destruction. They all want to get rid of it, and they are only held back from getting rid of it by the dangers and misgivings which the armaments themselves create. Therefore I express the hope that 513 the Government will do everything in their power to end this tragic paradox of waste and fear.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
We have all listened with great interest more especially to the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Noel Baker), who has just sat down, and I can assure him that if he has any influence in international circles and can get other nations to reduce their armaments, I would be one of the very first in this country to back him up. But we find that, just as we have to have insurances on our house property and fire engines for fear of fire, so we must have a certain number of troops and certain ships, because the whole of this country's future, our bread and butter, the lives of our wives and children, depend upon our having a sufficient Navy and Army.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
Then the more fire engines there are in the world, the more safe are our buildings and our wives and families?
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
We had a most interesting speech from another hon. Member on the Socialist Benches, the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown). I am sorry the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not here, because the hon. Member did not talk very kindly about him. On the contrary, he abused him very much more than I should care to do. Why has the Chancellor of the Exchequer a different viewpoint from that of a great number of the Socialist Members in this House? One reason is that he has facts and actual knowledge of his subject, and the rest is theory. Many of us have been through a pretty hard school and learned our facts; we are no longer basing our ideas on theory. We know that the country is in a bad condition. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows it, and from what he has told us to-day he is for the future going to try to improve things, but we are not satisfied with that only.
I have been in the House, since my return at a by-election, for only five months, but two of the things that I was told particularly by the electors, of all parties, to see to when I came here were 514 economy and employment, yet during the time I have been here we have been extraordinarily busy, sitting up late and sometimes all night, passing all sorts of Bills, not one of which will bring one penny into the Exchequer. One hon. Member opposite asked what we mean by an extravagant Measure I mean by that any Measure, at a time when the country is passing through a crisis, that is not remunerative, any Measure that does not bring money back into the pockets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Yet we have all kinds of Bills. There are the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill and the Education (School Attendance) Bill. The last speaker said that Sir Josiah Stamp is in favour of education. So am I, but that Bill will not give education, though it will cost a lot of money which the country cannot afford, and nobody will be the better for it.
Then there are the Agricultural Marketing Bill, the Unemployment Insurance Bill, the Trade Disputes Bill, and the Representation of the People Bill. All these things we have been talking about. The Government have been wasting a lot of time and a lot of hot air discussing these Bills, telling us of their great benefits, when they should have been busy trying to economise and to reduce the figures of unemployment. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer believes, as we oft these benches all know, that neither the Civil Service nor all these Bills are going to bring any benefit to this country. The country depends upon its trade and industry, and at the present moment they are down and out to a very great extent. Private enterprise has lost confidence, because it is not faced with a normal state of affairs. To do business and to look ahead, one wants to be able to know on what kind of taxation one has to base one's calculations, and the trader does not know that to-day. If, for example, he bases his calculations on an Income Tax of 4s. 6d., he may be greatly surprised if, when the Budget comes along, he has to pay an extra 6d. or 1s. Therefore, unless we get a more stable, regular system, the trade of the country cannot possibly improve.
It has been suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have no special schemes, but it is for him to bring forward the schemes. When my right hon. 515 Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and our Front Bench had any schemes, they brought them forward themselves and did not ask the Opposition to bring forward their schemes.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. Member says they did not bring in any schemes, yet we heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night that he had accepted many of the schemes that were brought forward. I want to insist upon the fact that if we cannot cut down some of the social services or such-like services, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should see to it that those Bill which are now before the House, Bills which are calculated to cost very many tens of millions of pounds, should be stopped at once. What is the use of passing them through all their stages, which all cost money, when the Bills are eventually, owing to the fact that the country cannot afford them, going to be put on the waste heap? We want to get confidence back in this country. Psychology, it has been said once or twice to-night, plays a tremendous part in business, and if we only saw that the Government had the intention to cut down the expenses, even by a small amount at a time, it would give confidence to the country. There are various ways in which the Government could enable the trader to look around and say: "As long as we know that there is to be no higher taxation, we can start ahead."
The Liberals have suggested forming a committee, but we know that that is putting off the evil day. We do not want the evil day put off. We want the Liberals to take their courage, if they have any left, in their hands, and to say: "We have abused the Socialists even more than the Conservatives have, and we believe that it is high time that they were turned out, to make room for other people who have plans by which they can reduce the expenditure of this country." The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that this could only be done by altering the policy of the party; but if it is in the interests of the country, surely he is willing to alter the policy of the party which he represents. I sincerely hope that even at this last hour, the Liberal party will see that their suggestion of a committee 516 is only a waste of time, is only getting themselves into even more trouble than they are likely to get into when the general election comes along, and that the sooner a general election comes along, the better it will be for them, because they are leading the Socialists along the path of extravagance and bad administration, which, in the long run, will be to the detriment of this country.
§ Mr. WISE
I do not intend to follow the last speaker, but to deal with one or two points repeatedly made from the benches opposite in regard to the general situation. We have had two speeches from men who are distinguished in the City, the right hon. Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) and the right hon. Member for Seven-oaks (Sir H. Young). The burden of both was that confidence in this country has gone, that the prestige of the City of London is shaken and that the whole country is going to the dogs. They said it so insistently and created such a barrage of gloom that I could conceive nothing more likely, among those who do not understand the usages of party warfare in this House, to destroy the confidence that they seem so anxious to preserve. Both of them, and other hon. Members on that side, have insisted, in the words of the Mover of the Motion, that confidence consists in the expectation of carrying on trade at a profit. I do not disagree with that view of the motives, methods and purpose of the capitalist system, but after they had said that so insistently, I thought it worth while to look up the returns, published by the "Economist" and the "Times" within the last few weeks, of the profits made by commercial and industrial companies, and to see whether in fact, under the terrible influence of this Government, those profits had taken all the interest and confidence out of business and left them in so terrible a state of mind.
A fortnight ago the "Economist" published a summary of no less than 1,932 companies which had issued balance sheets in the years 1929 and 1930. These reports show that with net profits running to £200,000,000, after debenture interest, bank charges and all other charges had been paid, including taxation, and after they had allocated money to all the special reserves, in 1929 and 1930 they made approximately 10 per 517 cent. on the average on their ordinary capital. How much more do they want? As a matter of fact, the "Times" figures, published yesterday, show that actually the 1930 profits were slightly higher than in 1929, and showed practically no reduction over the average of the last 10 years. We may be going to the dogs, but 10 per cent. on an average of 2,000 industrial companies, when so many industries are in an appalling state as far as unemployment is concerned, and after all ordinary capital, debenture and other charges have been met, suggests that we are going to the dogs pretty slowly.
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
How many limited companies are there in this country in addition to the 2,000 which declared a 10 per cent. dividend?
§ Mr. WISE
I did not make the selection. The "Economist" and the "Times" made it. I have always understood the "Times" to be a very loyal supporter of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I have no doubt that it made a fair average selection. Two thousand companies taken over every trade is surely a good specimen of what actually exists. Let the hon. Gentleman complain to the "Economist" and the "Times." I am prepared to accept their figures. The next point was that in any case the financial pre-eminence of London is being assailed. The right hon. Member for Sevenoaks spoke about capital flying abroad. I ventured to ask where it was going. He seemed a little doubtful, and passed on to the next point. Certainly it cannot be going to America, which is in a state of slump, depression and difficulty infinitely worse than here. It certainly is not going to Germany, which is, apparently, on the verge of collapse, or to Australia which is, apparently, in a state very little removed from bankruptcy. Where is it going? I repeat that question, and I should like to know. It is a very interesting point.
They say it is leaving this country in order to avoid taxation. It is constantly stated from the benches opposite that taxation in this country is higher than in any other country in Europe. I do not know whether they have studied very closely the figures produced by a great international commercial organisation, 518 which they will see published the "Economist" a few weeks ago, Unilevers, who have interests in various countries, estimating the cost of living and taxation in those countries? The figures show that on incomes of £1,500 or £3,000, and similar incomes, the taxation in France and Germany is considerably higher than in this country. I do not want to bother the House with figures, but there they are, and, as far as I know, they have been quite unchallenged. It is quite untrue to say that on the larger incomes the taxation in this country is higher than there. The right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite quoted, with apparent approval, a statement made by somebody or other, whom I could not identify, that gold was going to France because people had no confidence in this country. I wondered whether at the moment he really bore in mind the implication of that. Why is gold going to France? There is a variety of reasons, but one is the repudiation by France of at least three-quarters of the National Debt. If that is the method of creating confidence, then the sooner we adopt it here the sooner hon. Members opposite will see what it means.
The truth of the matter is that the view of hon. Members opposite leaves out of account the whole of the fundamental and economic facts of the present crisis. It was no doubt the case that in the nineteenth century it was desirable to pile up your investments in productive machinery. After all, saving is merely one of two things. It is either refraining from expenditure on consumption, and utilising the money either for investing in capital resources, in machinery, plant and instruments of production, or else holding it idle. The figures of the Bank returns, showing as they do an immense increase in time deposits, as compared with current accounts, suggest that a good deal of money is being held temporarily out of industry, quite idle. At the moment £100,000,000, or 10 per cent. of the total amount used in ordinary working capital industrially, is held out of industry in time deposits in the banks. That suggests that the world is not suffering from a shortage of capital machinery at this moment. There is no lack of productive 519 machinery. The world is suffering, apparently, from a surplus of productive machinery, and an excess of produced goods.
It is not machinery or capital investments that we want. We want markets for the goods that the machinery can produce, and that the agricultural countries can work. Temporarily, there is a lack of relation between production and consumption. What is wanted is that, by some means or other, the world should be able to buy the goods which the productive machinery of the world, industrial and agricultural, is apparently producing in too great a profusion, or would be if we did not know that there are tens of millions of people who cannot get anything like enough of the goods they want. When you look at the situation in this country as it is now, you cannot escape the conclusion that in the course of events in the last five or 10 years the process of deflation, which has enormously increased the real purchasing value of the higher incomes of those who live on interest profit, stocks and so on as compared with the amount that goes in wages and lower salaries, is one of the causes of this apparent breakdown in the relation between production and consumption.
The hon. Member for North Bradford talked with immense knowledge and interest about the actual burden of War Debt. I have got out some deductions which I have made, and which I think are justifiable, from Sir Henry Strakosch's figures published some time ago. At that time he pointed out that the amount of the national income which went to fixed money obligations such as debenture interest, War Debt interest, and so on, was approximately £1,000,000,000; and £3,000,000,000 went to profits, salaries and Government expenditure other than expenditure in the payment of interest on Debt. That was in 1922. By 1930 there was a drop of about 10 per cent. in prices but national production remained approximately the same so that national income now has got to about £3,600,000,000. The fixed money obligations have remained about the same, and as the hon. Member for North Bradford said, the receivers of interest are getting the same figure, and therefore a much higher percentage of 520 the total national income. The effect of that is that the amount that goes to profits, wages, salaries and expenditure in consumable goods by the mass of the nation, including the salary earners, has dropped by £400,000,000 while the amount that goes into the hands of those who-live on fixed-interest-hearing securities, while remaining the same in money value, has increased 10 per cent. in real value. That is a moderate estimate. The drop in prices has robbed the wage earners of several hundred million pounds and increased the receipts of the rentier class.
Everybody knows that in our national Budget at this moment, the most essential figure is the figure of allocation to interest on War Debt. The quickest way of reducing national expenditure is to deal with that figure. The hon. Member for North Bradford suggested one method that might have been adopted four years ago. I believe that in present national circumstances, when it is plainly difficult to balance the Budget, we have to face the question as to which is the best part of the national income to tax—to tax industry or to tax the interest which comes to the sleeping partners in industry, that is, those who receive War Debt interest, debenture interest, and so on. It will be perfectly justifiable to take back by taxation that unearned increment which has come to them without effort, without justification, and without any return being made, merely because of the 10 per cent. drop in prices. That would provide us with more than enough to meet all the extra charges that are falling upon us on account of unemployment insurance and so on.
§ Mr. G. GIBSON
What right has the hon. Gentleman to say that people holding War Debt have no justification for the increase?
§ Mr. WISE
I say that if you have to choose between money which is actively employed in increasing trade and production, and money which is coming from sources which involve no effort on the part of the receiver, and which has increased in value automatically by no effort on their part, the right course, having regard to the desirability of putting the taxes on the backs of those best able to bear it, and of paying taxes in such a way as not to discourage enterprise—which is what hon. Members oppo- 521 site so much desire—the right course is to put the burden on to the receivers of income which involves no enterprise on their part. In any case, that would be the easiest and simplest method of reducing an injustice to the whole community which comes from the increasing allocation of more and more of the national income to those who put their money in at one value 10 years ago, and are now drawing interest out on an entirely different scale of prices.
With reference to the Liberal Amendment, I have not time to deal with the Geddes Committee, but I could no doubt persuade the House as to the ineffectiveness of that method of dealing with national expenditure. The main proposals of the Geddes Committee, 1921, except those arising out of the immediate reduction of War stocks, were either disregarded or definitely harmful. Those proposals were the abolition of the Department of Overseas Trade, of the Ministry of Mines and of the Ministry of Transport. They reduced the amount of money spent in developing overseas trade just about the time when the American Government, with far greater wisdom, under the inspiration of Mr. Hoover, enormously increased their expenditure in pushing trade. In the last two or three years we have actually had to spend money too late in appointing trade commissioners and in sending out committees of inquiry, some of them accompanied by Royal Princes, in order to discover why we lost trade to America in those intervening years. We owe a great deal to Sir Eric Geddes for much valuable work in the War, but under his inspiration we cut down expenditure in trade services precisely at the time when we ought to have been increasing it. In addition, they cut down the money spent in research and statistics, and deprived us of the possibility of having what everybody admits we want an effective national balance-sheet of industry and trade. The idea of appointing three or four more or less amateur administrators to go through the public Departments to try to cut pennies off here and pennies off there, is an insult to the Civil Service and to the Treasury.
I listened with great interest and pleasure to what the right hon. Member for Ripon (Major Hills) said about the Civil Service and the efficiency of those 522 Treasury officials who look after the management of their great staffs. It would be much more effective from the national point of view, and much more valuable if, instead of appointing business men to examine into the very efficient offices of the Civil Service, we appointed three Treasury officials to go through some businesses in this country. I should like to turn the established officials of the Treasury on to the great banks, and I should like to know what any impartial investigator would think of the manner in which, in the last few years, the banks have multiplied their branches and spent their money in building those branches in every small village and country town on the best sites, and of the vast expenditure in the City of London on new office buildings. Above all, I should like them to look into the organisation of the great railways, particularly of the administrative offices of the great railways, and we should very quickly correct our views of the relative efficiency of business and Government offices.
We object to this proposal, and shall certainly vote against it in the Lobby. It seems to us to indicate a surrender on the part of the Government to an attitude towards public affairs and towards expenditure which is absolutely inconsistent with the views of this party. We do not believe that the right course at this moment is to reduce. expenditure which gives purchasing power to the population. The intention of the Liberal Amendment is precisely this. It does not state it very plainly, but Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, in a wireless address a few days ago, indicated precisely what was in the mind of the Liberal party. The Liberal party believe that the way to save this country is to cut down wages. We take precisely the opposite view, and we are certainly not going to be a party to any encouragement of the view that we accept the Liberal contention.
I have not time to say very much about the very remarkable and disturbing speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was disquieted by the amount of applause which it received from the benches opposite. I do not know what he meant when he said he did not propose to put taxes on industry. Taxes on war debts and taxes on debentures are not, in my view, taxes on industry; nor are 523 they taxes on industry in the view of the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young). If the latter part of the Chancellor's speech was intended to give any encouragement to the view that at the present moment the proper way of meeting our industrial difficulties over unemployment and our financial position is to reduce wages, to reduce salaries in the Civil Service, and to proceed along the course which hon. Members opposite on either side of the Gangway desire, then we on these benches, I can assure the Government, will receive that sort of policy with the very greatest apprehension and opposition.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
The House has had the privilege of listening to another of the stimulating and interesting speeches of the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise). I shall take the opportunity later on of noticing one or two of the things to which he has directed attention; but I am sure the whole House is impressed by the speech which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has given to the House and to the nation one of the gravest warnings which has ever been uttered from the Treasury Bench, and I, for one, am grateful that he should have done so. I am not talking as a partisan or as a person engaged in political life so much as a citizen of this country who has been very anxious about its welfare. There is another reason why I am grateful for that warning, and it is because some more exuberant spirits on the Treasury Bench have given a rather different impression of the attitude of mind of the Government in these very difficult times. In particular, there was a, speech by the Minister of Health which startled all the prudent people in this country by its statement that the nation could afford anything it wanted. That is a maxim which, I am certain, does not apply in any other sphere of life. There are many things which all of us want which we cannot afford. We know very well that if we tried to afford them nothing but disaster could result. In a similar way, ruin must follow upon any attempt to direct our course at the present time upon such principles.
The country, I am sure, will be braced to a new view of its responsibilities and its duties by what the Chancellor has raid this afternoon. He has told us that 524 those who desire so many admirable schemes for easing the lot of the people of this country must wait for more prosperous times, when there is a, possibility of such schemes being afforded. That is the wise advice for which we were waiting. He has told us that he is faced by a prospect of a formidable deficit on his Budget, and he has also told us that any further burden upon the industry of the country would be the last straw. Those are sentiments which have been much more prevalent upon this side of the House, but they are wise sentiments, and the advice given is prudent.
It seems to me that our present position can be stated in a very few propositions. If the House will forgive me for suggesting a very elementary compendium of them, I will venture to say this: Our greatest troubles at the present time arise out of the vast amount of unemployment from which we are suffering. Employment depends upon industry; industry depends upon being able to get orders into your shops; orders depend upon your prices; and prices depend upon costs. High taxation and high rates inevitably increase your costs. The source of high taxation and high rates is high expenditure; and thus we find in expenditure the reason for the fact that we are more burdened to-day than any other nation in the world. It is incontrovertible. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] We find, also, the reason for the fact that our problem of unemployment began long before the world slump, and why it will continue long after other nations have begun to recover, unless we correct our position. These things, as I have said, are incontrovertible, and I would like, not that it reinforces the argument, but because I want to pin certain people down to what they have said, just to quote a few statements. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal party, so lately as 18th October last, uttered this sentence:Economy, ruthless economy, is the essential condition to industrial recovery.I hope that will be remembered to-morrow. And there is this statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a broadcast to the world on 8th February, 1930:Our people are the most heavily taxed in the world.I said it was incontrovertible.The average amount of national and local taxation works out at about £100 a 525 year per family. With such a burden is it any wonder that we have sintered industrial depression?The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) was rather disturbed this afternoon by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would not put any further tax on industry, because he thought it might be possible that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had in mind the report that taxation did not form a very great burden on industry. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not going to shelter himself behind that report. We have in mind a Budget in connection with which the question of the taxation of the reserves of public companies was raised, and it was revealed at that time by the President of the Board of Trade that it meant taking £6,000,000 out of those reserves. Therefore, it is entirely fallacious to say a burden is not placed on industry. I believe that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that any further taxation on industry is the last straw he means to keep his pledge, and not impose any additional burdens on industry in any shape or form. I hope the President of the Board of Trade, when he comes to reply, will give us a further assurance on that point. There still appears to he preserved in the mind of some people, in spite of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, an idea that our position is as good as it could possibly be in the best of possible worlds, and there are those who take an optimistic view of the situation. The hon. Member for East Leicester does not seem to think that there is anything wrong with our industries at the present time.
§ Sir R. HORNE
At any rate, he does not take the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that point.
Let me remind the House of what the situation is in 1931. At the present time we are paying £107,000,000 for unemployment benefit. We are also paying £44,000,000 in poor relief. The extraordinary thing is that, when any new scheme is put forward for health insurance, widows' pensions, and other things a similar proportion is added to poor relief. If you look at the figures, you will see that poor relief has gone up just 526 in the same proportion as other services. In addition, we are spending £120,000,000 on various forms of pensions, and that means a colossal sum such as the richest country in the world cannot afford to pay. Our production during the last year has fallen by 20 per cent. Not only that, but the prices which we have got for our products have also fallen by 20 per cent., and our exports have fallen by 21½ per cent. Our exports show a fall in 1930 of 18 per cent. as compared with 1913. We have been out-distanced by our rivals whose exports have been increasing. Whereas before the War we were the greatest exporting country in the world America and Germany are now ahead of us. That is a very grave situation, and it does not indicate any symptom of our ability to bear such increased expenditure as the hon. Member for East Leicester has suggested.
There is another point I should like to make. Whereas in 1913 we paid for our imports by visible exports to the extent of 82 per cent., we are now paying only 71 per cent. by visible exports. What does that mean? It means that we are paying more for our interests on investments, and that we are paying for our imports by the product of British labour. That means less employment and that is one of the salient reasons why employment in this country has deteriorated in recent times. These figures ought to warn us of what are the real facts. I remember a remark made by a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) who said that the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat impetuous, rather careless about figures, and treated them as if they were adjectives. The figures I have given are as much expressive adjectives as anything else, and I agree with the motto of the right hon. Gentleman that economy, relentless economy, is the essential condition of this country's recovery.
A reference to all the great staple trades of this country show that they are unable to bear any further imposition in the way of taxation for general purposes. Think of the condition of agriculture and of the cotton and shipbuilding industry which are in a worse position than they have ever been before in our history. All our estuaries are clogged up with our 527 ships, and at Liverpool it was reported recently that people who sent ships there were unable to find berths for them. As for coal, who would be prepared to put additional burdens on coal?
Look at the position of the steel industry. In the steel trade, which is one of the great staple trades of this country, in 1930 it was down by 24 per cent. and last quarter it was down by 40 per cent. as compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year. For the first time in our history we are importing more steel than we are exporting. I want the President of the Board of Trade to understand what I mean. Of that imported steel. 1,500,000 tons came from Belgium. I have looked out the figures with regard to Belgium, and I find that in Belgium they pay in taxation £9 per head less than we pay in this country. I find that, whereas we pay £3 18s. 6d. per head, in Belgium they pay 5s. 6d. I find that, for each 100s. paid in wages in the steel trade in this country, in Belgium they pay 47s. My question to the President of the Board of Trade is this: How shall we maintain any competition with Belgian steel, and how shall we maintain these wages, if we keep up these high figures for taxes and rates? As a practical man I say that it is quite impossible, that something has got to break; and it is for the Government to decide where the break is to come.
Let me give one more illustration before I leave this point. This is another question to the President of the Board of Trade. Take the wool industry. Its exports were down by £16,000,000 last year. Its chief competitor is France. I find that in France the taxation per head is £6 per head less than it is here, and I find, as regards social services, that, while we pay £3 18s. 6d. per head, in France they pay 13s. per head. I find also, on the statement of a committee of which Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith was the chairman, appointed by the Board of Trade, that the wages in France in the wool trade are from 30 to 50 per cent. less than our wages here. Again I ask the President of the Board of Trade how he imagines that we can maintain competition there unless some of these costs are lowered? Where is the break to come? Is it to be in wages or in taxation?
§ Sir R. HORNE
Something has got to go. I turn now to the immediate question at issue. What has been the attitude of the Government when they have been confronted with this serious situation? One of the results of the attitude of the Government, has been the issue from the Treasury, under the hand of the controlling officer, a document of a more serious character than, I should think, has ever been emitted from that Department. It reflects in the severest terms upon the course which the Government have followed, and points out what the consequences will be if this course of conduct is not altered. I am prepared to admit at once that the Government have had a misfortune in that there has been an enormous increase of unemployment which they could not possibly have anticipated. But they themselves are responsible for a certain portion of it. What can they do? I will take a matter with which the present Government are concerned. They dealt with the matter of transitional benefit. It is perfectly true that transitional benefit had been initiated by the Conservative Government, but the present Government altered the terms of transitional benefit, and loosened and widened the terms upon which it was to be paid: and they made no allowance whatsoever for the effects of what they had done. They originally got an estimate as to transitional benefit on the old basis, which would have cost £8,500,000: but the Actuary warned them as to the effect of what they had done by the changed phraseology of their regulations. He pointed out to them, and I hope the House will hear with me for a moment while I read it, that:The possibility should not he overlooked that the new provision may have the effect of bringing certain other persons into benefit—for example, married women who have done little or no work since marriage, and seasonal workers during the off season. These two classes of cases will serve as illustrations of what in the aggregate may amount to a considerable group of new claimants, consisting of persons who, so to speak, are not really in the market as competitors for employment, hut may hold themselves out as such if they are thereby enabled to qualify for benefit.What the Government did with regard to that warning was entirely to ignore it. They just laid it on one side and took no action upon it at all, but went forward 529 merrily as though this warning by the Government Actuary did not exist. He had told them, in addition, that the ordinary benefit would cost them £2,000,000 more, even apart from the question of transitional benefit, but they gambled upon that also; the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he hoped that conditions would be better a year hence than they were then. What happened? They found this vast increase going on in the amount demanded for transitional benefit. I think the figures which the Minister of Labour gave the other day showed that some 315,000 people had crept in upon this loosening of the Regulations who really were not holding themselves out genuinely for employment at all, and the result was that the charge on the fund mounted up from £8,500,000 to £22,000,000. A Supplementary Estimate for £10,500,000 was presented to the House, and now we are informed by the Government Actuary that this year the cost will be from £35,000,000 to £40,000,000.. I say that on no account can the Government escape the animadversion of the House upon this slack and negligent conduct. I pass from that item to the question of the abuses from which the Unemployment Insurance Fund has suffered. These abuses have been recognised by people of all classes, and no one need be accused of harshness or severity because he refers to them.
§ Sir R. HORNE
My right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs put it thus in a passage in one of his speeches:One heard every day tales of unwarranted cadging on the dole;and then he added:Millions could be saved without infringing on meritorious claims.Is the right hon. Gentleman going to help us to save those millions? He is in a position of great authority, and even of dominance, in this House. He is allowed to use such language as he chooses with regard to the Labour party. He calls them incompetents, and they take no umbrage. There is not enough pride left in them to resent his insults, and they certainly have not enough courage to retaliate. When he is more genial, ha calls them toddlers. [An HON. MEMBER: "It all depends on the way you say it!"] 530 Perhaps, not being the father of a family, I do not put a sufficiency of tone into it. But these toddlers put their hands in his and toddle along beside him. Then he puts them back into the perambulator, and some day they will be in the cart. In their prayers they say: "We err and stray like lost sheep and the Leader of the Liberal party is our shepherd and our crook." To-night is the opportunity for my right hon. Friend. He can take his stand once for all and say again, economy, relentless economy, is the essential condition of saving industry. But what have the Government done? They have known about these abuses. They have let them go on for months. They have let the expenditure pile up. They have taken no action at all.
What was the excuse that we had from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day It was the flimsiest explanation that could ever have been offered, and it was based upon complete inaccuracy, as was proved in the course of a few minutes after he had spoken. He said they had looked to an all-party conference to settle this matter and that only a combination of parties coming together could face the difficulties of the dole. I should be inclined in general terms to agree. What did he do? They got together the various parties, they met times without number, and then the right hon. Gentleman says they failed to do anything. What had happened? The representatives of the three parties had come to a conclusion which they had put into a report. He had accused the Members of the Conservative party who had been at that Committee of having made no contribution. When it was pointed out that a contribution had been made, the right hon. Gentleman did not withdraw.
I think the House is entitled to have this matter cleared up. We wish to see that report. It is a matter of vital importance. If it is going to be said that it is a matter for all parties to settle together, and if the parties have met and come to conclusions, surely we are entitled to know what those conclusions are. It certainly is not in the mouth of any Member of the Government to say that Committee failed to come to conclusions that were valuable. What did they really do? They fobbed us off with a Royal Commission. They were afraid to tackle the matter themselves. They were afraid to act upon the report that 531 they got from the representatives of the parties and they dallied with the matter, and all the while the expenditure, which is being incurred through abuses which they know to exist, is steadily creeping up to the detriment of the revenues of the country. No better case upon finance could ever be presented against the Government on a Vote of Censure.
I have not done with the matter of the Chancellor's speech. He has acknowledged that he is faced with a formidable deficit. He has known that for some time. He has seen the figures growing from day to day. He knows exactly what the future is going to be. It is said that there can be no more expenditure, but, knowing that he has had a deficit during all that period, he has allowed a series of Bills to be presented to the House involving large expenditure. Some of them might surely have been left aside—the Education Bill, in which public money is to be used to bribe parents actually to take advantage of the benefits offered to them, and all the vast schemes of dealing with the land of the country. What is the cost of these things going to be? May the House have an assurance from the President of the Board of Trade that all these schemes are now to be suspended? I can assure the Government that, unless we have that statement, the people of this country, who have been warned by the grave statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day, will think they are being treated to a farce, and, if we do not succeed in carrying the Vote of Censure, at least the Government's conduct will be met by condign condemnation from the country as soon as the opportunity is afforded.
Before I sit down, I should like to occupy one or two minutes upon the Liberal Amendment. It is proposed by that Amendment that a committee should be set up to inquire into the expenditure of Government Departments. When I saw the Amendment. I thought of the Geddes Committee which was set up by my right hon. Friend when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I recalled that the Geddes Committee was put under an embargo against dealing in any way with policy. It was to deal only with administration. The policy was for the Government and did not fall within the purview of that Committee, accordingly said to myself: Whatever 532 this Amendment may do, it may lead to some cutting off of redundant staff in the services, but unless it tackles policy, which is the main cause of expenditure to-day, it cannot do any real good. It appears that I was entirely wrong. The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) whether he was going to include policy in his purview, and he received a reply which astonished me—I do not know whether it astonished the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that this committee was also going to decide questions of policy. [Interruption.] That is all in keeping with the attitude of the Liberal party towards the Government. They are going much further than was, apparently, originally thought. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now prepared to accept the Amendment or not on that footing. Perhaps he, or the President of the Board of Trade, will he good enough to tell us what is their intention?
The situation of the country is certainly quite as grave as the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated it to be. I was surprised that in the circumstances he should have thought it worth while to say that he was to be excused for the extravagances of the Government. I always thought that a trustee who came in after a spendthrift was all the more intent upon preserving the resources of his trust, but apparently that is not the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At any rate, there is this to be said, that the Conservative Government were never confronted with anything like the grave situation which confronts the country to-day. Unemployment has never reached the immense figures to which is has now soared, and the situation undoubtedly was easier. Whether that is so or not, the obligation of the Government to-day is to do everything that is necessary for the welfare of the country. The present Government have had every chance. They were welcomed by the country in a way which, I confess, surprised me, from a partisan point of view, but they were given every opportunity. [Interruption.] Yes, they were given every opportunity. The City gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer its freedom. It was prepared to put every confidence in him, but that confidence to-day has entirely evaporated. 533 The people of the country have now come to the conclusion that their fortunes are no longer safe in the hands of the present Government. We as a House of Commons, the trustees for the electors, have it as our duty to get rid of those who have spent their time as a Government improvidently spending the nation's substance and depleting the country's resources.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with the purely financial side of the problem, and, if the House will bear with me, I will try to summarise as briefly as possible other factors bearing more particularly on our trade, because, clearly and properly, hon. Members in all parts of the House have emphasised that consideration. I can recall numerous Debates on economy in this House since 1918, and I do not think hon. Members will disagree that to-day's Debate has had much in common with its predecessors. In the first place, we have all had to recognise the post-War circumstances in which we are operating. In the second place, there has been usually a widespread benediction on economy in general, but it has almost always been found impossible to agree upon or even to suggest any concrete cure. Those, I think, are the characteristics of the debates on economy.
I wish to try to put this matter, with one or two figures, in proper proportion, because the tremendous burdens to which this country has succeeded, and which very largely react on my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have an important bearing upon our industry and commerce, upon the volume of unemployment and on what may be, apparently, unremunerative expenditure. In the gravity of this situation, which I do not think any hon. Member would seek to minimise, do let us look at the perfectly marvellous things in finance of which this country has been found capable since 1914. We recall that the War cost us between £10,000,000,000 and £11,000,000,000. We also remember that it left us with a vast debt of nearly £8,000,000,000, in the mere service of which, with a comparatively small Sinking Fund, we have to find about £1,000,000 every day at the present time. 534 We remember that the War cost us nearly 1,000,000 men, who were either at the height or approaching the height of their industrial capacity, while between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 suffered from various forms of disablement and disease.
All that is true of the War period and the period immediately following the War, but there is one great central fact which I venture to repeat to the House as being, perhaps, more impressive than anything else as to the contribution that this country made. It is literally true that between 1914 and 1920, the six peak years of our War and post-War expenditure, we poured out more from our public Treasury in Great Britain than we had done in the whole of the preceding 2¼ centuries of our experience.
That will explain the position of a very large part of our industries and commerce, but we have to add to these remarkable figures the circumstances since 1918, and indeed since the outbreak of the War, because while I do not for a moment minimise the difficulties which confront this Government we have succeeded to a situation over which for a large part we have had neither influence nor control. I remember very well the hopeless artificial prosperity in which the War concluded and the period of two years up to 1920; then the rapid growth of unemployment up to nearly 2,000,000, which produced not the problem we are facing to-night but a very large problem indeed: then a recovery in prices, and the settling down to 1,000,000 unemployed year after year in practically the whole of the intervening period.
A very large part of the case for this Vote of Censure depends upon the position of the Unemployed Insurance Fund, and it is perfectly fair to recall that as an actuarial proposition the fund has never had a chance, that very large numbers of people who are what I would call good lives industrially have always been outside the scheme, and that from a very early point it was called upon to bear a, heavy burden of unemployment against which there has never been an adequate contribution. It was bound from the start to pile up debt in the circumstances I have described at a very rapid rate. We have had nine years of industrial depression, of which we are the unfortunate inheritors, and during that time very important and very grave changes have been taking place in the competitive position 535 of this country in most of the markets of the world. We are entitled to recall that this enormous burden has placed us at a serious disadvantage. There are other countries which have gone in for a policy of inflation, or at all events have re-established their currency at rates very different from the pre-War position, and in the midst of that inflation they got rid of a great deal of the internal burdens upon their industries. They wiped out mortgages and standing obligations of one kind and another in almost every direction. They got competitive advantages, and the great country across the Atlantic was able to penetrate to a very large extent some of our Dominions, and also Germany and the central parts of Europe, following that penetration by requests for orders which have led to fresh unemployment in this country, piled up these obligations in the period under review and aggravated our financial position.
I do not want to boast about it for a moment, but this country has been capable during that time of very remarkable things. It remains my considered opinion that we have made an utterly disproportionate sacrifice, but any Government in office in this country at this moment would have very much the same difficulty that confronts us to-night. What is the essence of this situation? Hon. Members have attacked the expenditure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I reply that a very large part of that is obligation, in the national field and in the local field, which is subject to Acts of Parliament or which is binding for all practical purposes. It is true that in the absence of fresh repealing legislation, the field in which you can operate in public finance at this time is very little indeed. I am not suggesting that there is not room for economy or improvement—far from it—but I do say that before we embark on any committee investigation—that we welcome—do let us remember that very large fixed field, and that fixed field is nowhere more clearly or better represented than in the wide range of Exchequer grants to the local authorities, which in turn rests upon the settled recommendations of important committees, and on which you can only go back in your national contribution if you rip up those agreements 536 and ultimately prepare to put additional burdens on the localities.
No section of opinion in this House denies that a local rate is a more grievous burden for much of our industry. So that wherever we turn by way of remedy, very serious economic difficulty confronts us. Hon. Members opposite recognised that up to a point in their Derating Act. They passed a Measure which gave a certain benefit to industries which did not strictly require it, whereas probably they could have devised a scheme which would have concentrated a much larger part of the relief on the particularly depressd heavy industries, or the textile industries in this country. But be that as it may, they took their step and at all events they recognized that central truth. The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House touched, of course, upon the industrial position. All this Debate has indicated that the attack is to be either upon the rates of unemployment benefit—that is the suggestion of innumerable speeches opposite—or upon the social services, or it may be upon those schemes to which the majority of the Members of this House are committed in trying to provide employment at the present time. We have nothing to gain by an adverse inroad upon those social services.
We have made it perfectly clear that we do not anticipate the report of the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance. We have never denied that to remedy acknowledged abuses must be inevitable, while at the same time there remains an obligation properly to provide for the genuine unemployed. Accordingly, in my judgment, in the main we have to look to much larger and deeper industrial propositions. It would be out of order to argue the industrial position under which we live, but I am going to say to hon. Members opposite that even if their case were accepted and it were possible to make their heavy deductions in these fields, I doubt very much whether the cumulative effect of that would help them in the world situation regarding prices. Do let us face the facts of the situation. We were only a few months in office, from June to October of 1929, when there was a wave of speculation in the United States. That occurred under a system which we do not defend but 537 have always attacked and every student of the situation knew that it was not related to the actualities of even a relatively prosperous America. When that wave of speculation receded, prices began rapidly to fall and they have been falling in a very dramatic way every month during the intervening period.
Quite apart from our Socialist, or anti-Socialist faiths, or any modification of the one or the other, it is beyond all dispute that the enormous growth of unemployment has been due in bulk to that cause. The question before as is whether, even if we made these contributions in relief of taxation, we can deal with the kind of price level which confronts our industry now. There we are no longer on national ground. Over and over again hon. Members have asked me in reference to the fundamental trade position, "Do you see any sign of these prices having touched bed-rock?"—because it is common ground that only when the upward movement begins, will there be any real improvement and confidence in trade, or will those numbers of unemployed be progressively reduced. I am sorry to say that I can see little or no sign of that at the present time. If we take the volumes of stocks of commodities, according to the latest returns, we find that they were still very considerable at the end of 1930 and I make bold to say that if you had a recovery of industry at the present time, or if you were getting those stocks off the market, it might not bring any appreciable improvement for months and months of the present year. I know that will be regarded in some quarters as a pessimistic statement, but it is perfectly idle to-night to offer to the House other than what we believe, on all the information before us, to be the facts of the situation.
That price level and those stocks present a very difficult position, and we turn immediately to the kind of remedy, or the variety of remedies, now being pressed upon us in relation to our unemployment and as alternatives—because that is an important consideration here—to much of the taxation and expenditure of the present time. What are the alternatives? Hon. Members say, first of all, that unless you are to go on with this steady, devastating, cash drain in relief of unemployment you must do 538 something, as the financial centre of the world to deal with the price level. We get a bewildering variety of suggestions under that head. We have examples offered to us of efforts elsewhere to achieve stability to give confidence and to encourage recovery. There is the vast experiment of the Federal Farm Board in the United States to try to maintain the price of certain cereals and other commodities at enormous contingent or actual cost. But such efforts have a profound influence upon the whole range of other commodity prices, affecting with peculiar emphasis an island like our own which is importing those commodities and is dependent in turn upon its export trade. There is no Government in any individual country which can exercise more than a limited influence in that sphere.
There is another school, which says that in the presence of this vast national expenditure, why not try some form of restricted inflation? Their contention is that the return to the gold standard was precipitous, and they further argue that the maldistribution of gold has contributed to the downward movement in commodity prices. I do not believe it is possible to go back upon that decision to-day. It may be that it is possible to arrive at some kind of international agreement in the use of those reserves, but we have always to remember that you cannot stop at the so-called limited amount of inflation, that you are pressed along that road, and that prices will go on rising; and it is common property that the people who suffer most from an artificial rise of that kind are the millions of relatively poor people. Whatever we are able to do in the price levels or in the wider international field, of which we are a very important part, it remains true that we must find some solution in regard to the costs of production in this country which will enable us to meet, not the depressed world price, but a fair or recovering price of the great central commodities.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead specified coal and the textile trades. The great bulk of our unemployment at present is found in coal, iron and steel, shipbuilding, engineering, and the textile trades. There is not a single case, when we face this problem of reducing the costs of production, there is not a single lead- 539 ing industry in which drastic reorganisation is not required at the present time, and the tragedy of this situation is that there is a great body of thought which makes a bee line either on the social services, on the one side, or on the wage rates of millions of workers on the other. It is perfectly fair to recall that during the past nine or ten years of industrial depression 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 people in this country have made an aggregate sacrifice of not less than £700,000,000, and that sacrifice, together with the weight of our unemployment, has automatically and inevitably increased the burden of those social services, upon which there is either a direct or an implied attack in this Debate.
We move round and round in that vicious circle, and the question before this country now is, Who or what is to break that circle? Cotton is our chief export trade, and I regret to say that in recent times that export has been moving rapidly downwards. The position is one of great difficulty. Even where relatively well organised, there is a good deal of internal competition. There is no united front to the changed conditions. You are up against all that in the industry at the present time. In the case of iron and steel, the figures of production and the position of the export markets are very grave, but you have far-reaching plans for regional reorganisation in that industry, for the grouping of its plant and economy of the right kind. After all, the workers in that industry have made very heavy sacrifices. There is substantially the same problem in coal. There is the Act which was debated for six or seven months in this House under which we are now embarking upon reorganisation in the amalgamation of units. From the beginning to the end of that discussion, there was nothing but candid recognition of the fact that 800,000 to 900,000 miners had been forced to a wages point which nobody defends. It is, unfortunately, true that many mining districts are making very large drains on the resources of my right hon. Friend either in relief or social services.
When we pass to the basic remedies for this position, I beg the House to believe—and I try to speak less in a party sense and rather on the facts—that we may at 540 no distant date have to stand up to a very serious problem in this great task of reorganisation. Will it be undertaken voluntarily, or will some kind of compulsion be required? If it is not undertaken voluntarily, and if disintegration and weakness continue, we all know perfectly well that the demand upon the Exchequer in relief and social services applicable to those areas will continue, and, therefore, we may be driven to change our outlook, and to see that what is necessary not only to our national finance but to our industrial recovery is undertaken. That is a prospect the House must face, and upon which Members in all parties would in that event have to pronounce. I have summarised the conditions, because they do bear very closely upon a good deal that has been argued during the Debate.
I want to pass on to a few words in reference to certain passages which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) and other Members. They used the term "national bankruptcy." I do hope, in the interests of our industrial economy, phrases of that kind will not be used. This country has been capable of remarkable things during past years, and if our expenditure and reserves are wisely handled, it is capable of just as great a contribution at this period. Do let us remember that credit is, after all, a relative term. When Members talk of the flight of the pound and of capital abroad, we are entitled to ask to what countries that capital will go. The right hon. Gentleman made a reference to the conditions in the United States. There is a country which has many of the advantages, or had many of the advantages, which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have particularly emphasised. They are the greatest creditor country in the world; we in Great Britain are merely the channel through which these payments pass from the Continent year by year to the United States. They had comparatively low taxation; they had no unemployment; they had a restricted range of social services, where they had social services at all; they had, if you like—I am willing to make this concession—a mobility of labour which we had not in this country. In spite of all these so-called advantages, with the protection of the highest external tariff, their industrial plight to-day is worse than our own. That fact is beyond dispute. [HON. 541 MEMBERS: "No!"] It is a vast territory of more than 120,000,000 people, and no one will state that their position will compare favourably with ours.
It is not my duty to minimise the gravity of this situation on the one side or to suggest any facile optimism on the other, but no one who is responsible at the Board of Trade for our commerce, exports and the rest, would fail to put this consideration at a time of peculiar difficulty in appealing to the markets of the world for the purpose of getting down unemployment and contributing in the main to the true relief of our national expenditure to-day. I say that our note should be not one of pessimism
§ or despair, but of a sustained, vigorous enlightened and constructive optimism, appreciating the enormous burden which rests upon this country, and together believing that we can survive and build up a far greater appeal to world trade than we have ever made in order to cure progressively the amount of unemployment, and in a true manner to contribute to the reduction of national outlay under existing conditions.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 235; Noes, 310.545
|Division No. 145.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l.,W.)||Colman, N. C. D.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Colville, Major D. J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cranborne, Viscount||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Atkinson, C.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Klndersley, Major G. M.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Bainlel, Lord||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Leighton. Major B. E. P.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Dixey, A. C.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Little, Sir Ernest Graham|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Liewellin, Major J. J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Eden, Captain Anthony||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Boyce, Leslie||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Lymington, Viscount|
|Bracken, B.||Everard, W. Lindsay||McConnell, Sir Joseph|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Ferguson, Sir John||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fermoy, Lord||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Fielden, E. B.||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Fison, F. G. Clavaring||Marjor[...]banks, Edward|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Buchan, John||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Meller, R. J.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Butler, R. A.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Glyn, Major H. G. C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Grace, John||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth,S.)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.SirJ.A.(Birm.,W.)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Christie, J. A.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hammersley, S. S.||Penny, Sir George|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hanbury, C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Skelton, A. N.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Purbrick, R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Smithers, Waldron||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Somerset, Thomas||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Remer, John R.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Richardson, sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Sandsman, Sir N. Stewart||Thomson, Sir F.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Savery, S. S.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Todd, Capt. A. J.||Commander Sir Bolton Eyres|
|Simms, Major-General J.||Train, J.||Monsell and Major Sir George Hennessy.|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George clement|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Day, Harry||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hollins, A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Alpass, J. H.||Dukes, C.||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Duncan, Charles||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Arnott, John||Ede, James Chuter||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Edge, Sir William||Isaacs, George|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Edmunds, J. E.||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Ayles, Walter||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Egan, W. H.||Johnston, Thomas|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Elmley, Viscount||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Barr, James||Foot, Isaac||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Batey, Joseph||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Freeman, Peter||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Kelly, W, T.|
|Benson, G.||Gibbins, Joseph||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Gill, T. H.||Kinley, J.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gillett, George M.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Glassey, A. E.||Knight, Holford|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Gossling, A. G.||Lang, Gordon|
|Bromfield, William||Gould, F.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Bromley, J.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lathan, G.|
|Brooke, W.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Brothers, M.||Granville, E.||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Gray, Milner||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Lawson, John James|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Leach, W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Groves, Thomas E.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lees, J.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Calne, Derwent Hall-||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Carter, W. (St. pancras, S.W.)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Longden, F.|
|Chater, Daniel||Harbord, A.||Lunn, William|
|Clarke, J. S.||Hardle, George D.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Harris, Percy A.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||McElwee, A.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Haycock, A. W.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Compton, Joseph||Hayday, Arthur||McKinlay, A.|
|Cove, William G.||Hayes, John Henry||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Cowan, D. M.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Daggar, George||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Dallas, George||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Herriotts, J.||McShane, John James|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Price, M. P.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Mansfield, W.||Pybus, Percy John||Stephen, Campbell|
|March, S.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Marcus, M.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Markham, S. F.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Strauss, G. R.|
|Marley, J.||Raynes, W. R.||Sullivan, J.|
|Marshall, Fred||Richards, R.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Mathers, George||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Matters, L. W.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Maxton, James||Ritson, J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Melville, Sir James||Romeril, H. G.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Messer, Fred||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Middleton, G.||Rothschild, J. de||Tillett, Ben|
|Millar, J. D.||Rowson, Guy||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Mills, J. E.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Toole, Joseph|
|Milner, Major J.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Tout, W. J.|
|Montague, Frederick||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Townend, A. E.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Morley, Ralph||Sanders, W. S.||Vaughan, David|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Sawyer, G. F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Scott, James||Walkden, A. G.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Scrymgeour, E.||Walker, J.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Scurr, John||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mort, D. L.||Sexton, Sir James||Watkins, F. C.|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Muff, G.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Sherwood, G. H.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Murnin, Hugh||Shield, George William||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||West, F. R.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Shillaker, J. F.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Shinwell, E.||White, H. G.|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Simmons, C. J.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Sitch, Charles H.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Palin, John Henry||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Palmer, E. T.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Perry, S. F.||Smith, Rennie (Pentstone)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Wise, E. F.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Snell, Harry||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Potts, John S.||Sorensen, R.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr Charles Edwards.|
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."546
§ The House divided: Ayes, 468; Noes, 21.549
|Division No. 146.]||AYES.||[11.11 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Burgess, F. G.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bellamy, Albert||Burgin, Dr. E. L.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Benson, G.||Calne, Derwent Hall-|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Campbell, E. T.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Bird, Ernest Roy||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Birkett, W. Norman||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Castle Stewart, Earl of|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Angell, sir Norman||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Arnott, John||Bowen, J. W||Cayzer, MaJ.Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth,S.)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Boyce, Leslie||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bracken, B.||Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.SirJ.A.(Birm.,W)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brass, Captain Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Atkinson, C.||Briscoe, Richard George||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Ayles, Walter||Broad, Francis Alfred||Charleton, H. C.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bromfield, William||Christle, J. A.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Brothers, M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cluse, W. S.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Barr, James||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Cockerlli, Brig.-General Sir George|
|Batey, Joseph||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Buchan, John||Cohen, Major J. Brunel|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Compton, Joseph||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mansfield, W.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hamilton, Mary Agnat (Blackburn)||March, S.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hammersley, S. S.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hanbury, C.||Markham, S. F.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Marley, J.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harbord, A.||Marshall, Fred|
|Crookthank, Capt. H. C.||Harris, Percy A.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hartington, Marquess of||Matters, George|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Matters, L. W.|
|Daggar, George||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Meller, R. J.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Haslam, Henry C.||Melville, Sir James|
|Dallas, George||Hayday, Arthur||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Hayes, John Henry||Messer, Fred|
|Dalton, Hugh||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Middleton, G.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Millar, J. D.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Mills, J. E.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Milner, Major J.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Day, Harry||Herriotts, J.||Monsell, Eyras, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Montague, Frederick|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hirst, G. H. (York W.R. Wentworth)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hoffman, P. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Hollins, A.||Morris, Rhys, Hopkins|
|Dukes, C||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Duncan, Charles||Hopkin, Daniel||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Hudson,Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Edge, Sir William||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Hurd, Percy A||Mort, D. L.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Muff, G.|
|Egan, W. H.||Isaacs, George||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Iveagh, Countess of||Murnin, Hugh|
|Elmley, Viscount||Jenkins, Sir William||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|England, Colonel A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Johnston, Thomas||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Fermoy, Lord||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Foot, Isaac||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Freeman, Peter||Knox, Sir Alfred||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Palin, John Henry|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Lathan, G.||Palmer, E. T.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Penny, Sir George|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Lawrle, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Perry, S. F.|
|Gill, T. H.||Lawson, John James||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Gillett, George M.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Glassey, A. E.||Leach, W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Gossling, A. G.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Gould, F.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Liewellin, Major J. J.||Potts, John S.|
|Grace, John||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godlrey||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Price, M. P.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Purbrick, R.|
|Granville, E.||Logan, David Gilbert||Pybus, Percy John|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Longbottom, A. W.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Gray, Milner||Lunn, William||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Lymington, Viscount||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Richards, R.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||McEntee, V. L.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||MacLaren, Andrew||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Ritson, J.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Favenham)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Romeril, H. G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Smithers, Waldron||Walkden, A. G.|
|Rothschild, J. de||Snell, Harry||Walker, J.|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Somerset, Thomas||Ward, Lieut.-Col. sir A. Lambert|
|Salmon, Major I.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sorensen, R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Stamford, Thomas W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Sanders, W. S.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Savery, S. S.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Scott, James||Strauss, G. R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Stuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||West, F. R.|
|Scurr, John||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Sexton, Sir James||Sullivan, J.||White, H. G.|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Sutton, J. E.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Sherwood, G. H.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shield, George William||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thomson, Sir F.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Shinwell, E.||Thurtle, Ernest||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Tillett, Ben||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Simmons, C. J.||Tinker, John Joseph||Withers, Sir John James|
|Simms, Major-General J.||Tinne, J. A.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Womersley, W. J.|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Skelton, A. N.||Toole, Joseph||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Tout, W. J.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.,|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)||Townend, A. E.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Train, J.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clamant||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Turton, Robert Hugh||Major Sir Archibald Sinclair and Major Owen.|
|Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Vaughan, David|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maxton, James|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Horrabin, J. F.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Bromley, J.||Kirkwood, D.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Lees, J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Cove, William G.||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Longden, F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||McShane, John James||Dr. Forgan and Mr, Kinley.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House considers that, having regard to the effect of the present burden of taxation in restricting industry and employment, the Government should at once appoint a small and independent committee to make recommendations to Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer for effecting forthwith all practicable and legitimate reduce-
tions in the national expenditure consistent with the efficiency of the services.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Parkinson.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-Nine Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.