§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.
§ [Sir ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to enable schemes to be made for regulating the marketing of agricultural products, to confer powers upon boards and other bodies to be constituted in connection with, or acting for purposes connected with, such schemes, to establish agricultural marketing funds for the purpose of making loans thereout to the boards aforesaid, to encourage agricultural co-operation, research, and education, and to provide for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the making of the following payments, out of moneys provided by Parliament, that is to say,—
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Dr. Addison)
Hon. Members opposite will note that we have inserted the words that we arranged last night should be inserted. It is not necessary for me to repeat the purpose for which they were inserted, and I hope that hon. Members opposite will agree that we have done our best to carry out their wishes.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I would like first to thank the Minister for having met us by introducing the Motion in its amended form, and I would remind the Committee that the agreement was that we should give the same amount of time to the consideration of the Committee stage of the Resolution as we should have been able to give to the Report stage of the Resolution in its original form, and that the Report stage should be taken formally. Our Debate yesterday was switched off on the question of the liquidation of marketing boards. The Minister promised that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland would reply to the criticisms made by my hon. Friends behind me yesterday, and we hope to hear them; but before we resume consideration of the main question raised by the Resolution it might help our deliberations if I indicated to the Minister the points which we hope very much he will consider between now and the Report stage of the Bill with regard to the liquidation of these marketing boards where that is necessary. The Resolution in its amended form enables us to move many Amendments, but we are only going to move Amendments made in connection with the liquidation of marketing boards. The points we wish to urge on the Minister can be summed up under three headings: First, there is the case where the Minister himself has reconstituted a board under Clause 7, and that hoard subsequently goes into liquidation. It is impossible to resist the claim that in such a case the Government should be liable for the debts of the board in proportion to the number of new members they have put on the board. The Minister has admitted that that has his sympathetic consideration. We also think 1394 that, where a Minister has propounded a scheme and the scheme has been adopted by the farmers, the Minister has incurred responsibility for that scheme and that entitles the farmers to ask that the Ministry should share any loss which the Board may make.
The third point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Guinness) was that, wherever compulsory powers are enforced and wherever farmers have been brought under the marketing board compulsorily, the Minister, as the representative of the State in those cases, should acknowledge his liability to help the farmers who have been coerced into bankruptcy. Those are the three points which I put to the Minister, and I hope that he will give them sympathetic consideration.
If we can eliminate the injustice which a large number of farmers feel, it will enormously help the working of the Bill. This House has already had experience in this matter, in the case of the Agricultural Wholesale Society which went into liquidation in 1924. When my right hon. Friend was Minister of Agriculture, he found it absolutely necessary to ask the House to come to the assistance of the affiliated societies, some of whom were involved in gigantic losses by the failure of the Agricultural Wholesale Society. The effect of that on the wholesale co-operative movement was so great that the Minister felt it was impossible for him to stand aside, and, when he came to the House to ask for assistance to the farmers, he received the support of hon. Members opposite. That was a proposal which met with universal acceptance, although in that case the State had no obligation. The effect of this failure was so serious that the Government took that action.
One can imagine what the situation is bound to be under this Bill in the ease where a certain proportion of the farmers are compelled to come in against their better judgment. If there are cases under this Measure such as the case of the Agricultural Wholesale Society, the hardship will be a hundred times greater than obtained then, and the Minister will find it impossible to resist the demand that the State should give some assistance. I hope that when we move Amendments in Committee, with an earnest desire to improve the Bill, we shall receive 1395 the sympathetic consideration of the Minister, and that he will be prepared to go a little further than he has indicated. This Resolution raises the whole question of the finance of the Marketing Bill, and there are many other points involved. I hope the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to give a satisfactory reply to these criticisms.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Johnston)
I am sure that every Member on this side will agree that the Noble Lord has stated his case very temperately and sympathetically. The Government welcome the spirit in which he has offered his criticisms of the Bill, and I trust that, when we come to the Committee stage of the Bill, the Government will be able to meet any criticisms which may be offered there in the same spirit. The Noble Lord devoted his remarks entirely to the fear expressed by certain hon. Members yesterday as to what liabilities would be incurred by individual farmers in the event of compulsion being exercised and of their being compelled to join a scheme, if that scheme should be compelled to go into liquidation. By the terms of this Resolution it would be possible, in Clause 7 of the Bill, to provide still greater protection for the class to whom the Noble Lord and his friends referred, but already in the Bill there is provision for exemption, for arbitration and for compensation; and, as I understand, there is going to be provision in certain circumstances for safeguards in the event of liquidation. Therefore, there is evidence at any rate that the Government intend to meet the point which was raised yesterday, and to discuss it at least in a sympathetic and amicable spirit during the Committee stage,
The Noble Lord asked me to reply to some criticisms which were raised by his friends in the discussion yesterday. It is difficult, after the bottom has been knocked out of some of the criticisms by the very amendment of the Money Resolution, and after the lapse of 24 hours, to re-create the atmosphere in which some of those criticisms were made; and I see that some of the hon. Gentlemen who made them yesterday are not in their places now. [Interruption.] Some of the points raised yesterday were not really bona fide criticisms—[Interrup- 1396 tion]—which ought to be indulged in on a Money Resolution, but were mere Committee points. I am sure that the hon. Gentlemen concerned will themselves agree that some of them were Committee points, which I hope will be raised in Committee upstairs; but there were one or two points that it might be convenient for me to reply to. Several hon. Members have raised the question of the initiation of schemes, but they do not appear to distinguish between commissions for the preparation of schemes and boards for the administration of those schemes subsequently. The commissions for the creation of schemes can only be appointed by the Minister, and their functions are to conduct inquiries and to prepare schemes, whereas the boards have to be appointed by the producers only and their functions are to administer schemes. If hon. Members will keep that distinction in mind they will see that a great deal of the criticism that was levelled at the Bill yesterday has no basis whatever.
The hon. Member for Kincardineshire (Mr. Scott) raised a series of questions most of which were Committee points. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) put three questions. The first was, Why are the words "to encourage agricultural co-operation, research and education" in the Resolution? The answer is because they are among the purposes for which the boards are to be set up. There is an increasing tendency for industrial combines to undertake research on problems affecting their business. Marketing boards are likely to have funds, not of Government provision but of their own raising. If they have the inclination to engage in education, co-operation and research we trust they will do so. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman asked whether there was any necessity for a national frontier in all these schemes, whether there was any necessity for a purely Scottish frontier for milk and potatoes and so on. The answer is that there is not. It might be held desirable that in some commodities we should have a British scheme. It might, on the other hand, be desirable that we should have national schemes, or yet again that we should simply have area schemes. There is no compulsitor one way or the other.
1397 The right hon. Gentleman also asked for some explanation of paragraph (c). It is very simple. In the event of any board going into liquidation and any part of the Government loan being held to be irrecoverable, it should be within the power of the Treasury to wipe out the irrecoverable part of the loan and to re-imburse the revolving fund, as it is called, by the amount that has been written off.
Whereas in this country we are seeking to initiate those schemes with a fund of £625,000, in the United States a similar attempt has been made with a fund of £100,000,000. Other hon. Members have asked questions which I trust they will permit us to regard as Committee points, but, should there be points to which they attach importance, we shall be glad to answer them to-night, or, alternatively, to send them written answers, so that if they are still not satisfied they will have adequate opportunities on the further stages of the Bill to deal with them. I am sure it would be for the convenience of the House that we should not unduly protract the proceedings tonight, and I trust the House will give us this Resolution without any unnecessarily long discussion.
§ Captain BOURNE
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will, I am sure, agree that there are certain questions which must be put on the Financial Resolution to enable the opposition to formulate Amendments on the Committee stage of the Bill. I have one or two questions to put on paragraphs (d) and (e). Paragraph (c) provides forpayment of any expenses incurred in accordance with the provisions of the said Act …. in paying such remuneration to the chairman and other members …. of any commission or committee constituted under the said Act and such other expenses of any commission or committee.…I presume that it is intended to cover the committees and commissions which are to be set up under Clauses 7 and 13 of the Bill. Under Clause 7 there are committees to be set up. I am not at all clear whether the Section, as drafted, proposes to set up a consumers' committee or committees to deal with the various articles, 12 in number, which are enumerated in the Fourth Schedule in the Bill. Is each of these articles to have a consumers' committee, with a bread committee to deal with bread prices, and 1398 a wools committee to deal with woollen goods, and so on? How many of these committees will it be necessary to constitute? That is rather an important question, because on it depends not only the nature of and need for the committees, on which hon. Members wish to move Amendments in the Committee stage, but also the expenditure involved.
Then there is the committee of investigation. I find it very difficult to understand from Clause 7 whether there is going to be one committee of investigation to look into any complaint which the consumers' committee or committees may make, or whether there is to be a committee of investigation to overlook each separate consumers' committee. It makes a difference both as to the amount of work imposed on the committees, and, consequently, what might be an appropriate salary to pay to the chairman and members, and the amount of office work involved. Clause 7 is vague as to how many committees will be needed—whether there is to be one consumers' committee and one committee of investigation for each branch, whether there is to be a co-ordinating committee or whether a committees of investigation is to deal with the various points raised by the consumers' committees.
I conclude also that the expenses of the Commission under Clause 13 will be dealt with under paragraph (e). I think I am right in saying that the expenses of the Board to be constituted under Clause 2 of the Bill will not be paid under this scheme, but will be borne by the industry itself, but I shall be interested to know precisely what is the position under paragraph (e), which states that the payment of an annual grant of such amount as may be determined may be made to a reorganisation commission.
§ Captain BOURNE
Paragraph (e) in the Resolution which is on the Order Paper. As far as I am able to real Clause 13, there is no specific provision as to what governing bodies or organisations may actually receive a grant under this scheme. It appears—and here I am somewhat in doubt—from the wording of the Resolution and it is only an agricultural marketing reorganisation 1399 commission, and that, I think, is the one set up under Clause 13. It is not clear from the wording of the Clause as it stands what body will make grants, and to what committees it will make grants, what powers it has under the Act to make them, or what powers it has under the Financial Resolution, and that is the point upon which I should like an explanation.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I want to ask one or two questions. There is a point which requires clearing up. Although a guarantee was given by the Conservative party that certain amendments which might be moved on account of the wideness of the alteration which has been made in the Resolution would not be moved by that party, we had a statement from the Liberals that they would not be bound by such an agreement. I should very much like to know whether the Liberals are going to follow the example of our Front Bench and not embarrass the Government, or whether they hold themselves free to move any Amendment?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That question does not arise on this Money Resolution. It has nothing to do with the Money Resolution.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am not concerned with understandings about the arrangements of business in the Committee upstairs, but with the subject of this Resolution.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The only arrangement about which I am concerned is the arrangement regarding the Money Resolution, and it is carried out as far as the words contained in the Money Resolution are concerned. It is the Money Resolution which is now being discussed, and not what has transpired upstairs.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am not concerned with what the right hon. Gentleman may have said on that matter, but with the Money Resolution. We have to deal with the Money Resolution.
§ Major ELLIOT
I understand that it is not a question of what has happened in Committee upstairs. It is a very simple question as to whether in the Debate to-night the party below the Gangway will adhere to the agreement come to between the two parties in regard to the Debate this evening. It has nothing to do with what took place upstairs.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am in no way concerned about an agreement, and whether the party below the Gangway will adhere to it. We have to deal now with the Money Resolution.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Whether or not any agreement is going to be adhered to by an important party is a question that should be addressed to that important party.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I hope that notice will be taken of the matter by the party to which our question is addressed. With respect to the money that is to be spent on education, is it intended for children, or for farmers and others who have had some experience of agriculture? If it is to be spent on the education of children, may I suggest to the Minister the advisability of using it for elementary schools in the rural areas, with the idea of giving the children a certain amount of that education which is necessary to fit them for an agricultural life if they wish to take it up? The difficulty is how the money is to be allocated. Take a product like cereals. I understand that a district board will be set up, but we 1401 are very much in the air as to the extent of the area which the board will control. In the case of cereals will the board act for the whole country? A similar question could be raised with regard to potatoes. If the Minister could let us have information on these points before the Committee stage we should be more advised as to the best way of tackling the matter. So far as we can see, this Bill makes a valuable departure. Agriculture wants new lines, but what we desire to know is whether this is the right line. Many of us have a good deal of sympathy with the Minister in regard to this Bill. We know the difficulties that arose over hops, and how opposition upset the scheme. How are you going to deal with the question of potatoes?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Again the hon. and gallant Member seems to be raising details of the Bill. The Financial Resolution we are considering is for the purpose of encouraging agricultural cooperation, research and education, and he is not entitled to go into the details of education in all its various forms. The Resolution is for the purpose of setting up these various boards, and we cannot discuss the question of hops and potatoes.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I should like to draw your attention to the question of research and to make some general observations.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must draw the hon. and gallant Member's attention to the facts that the Resolution is for the purpose of applying money for the purposes of research and education, and anything dealing with the details of the same can be dealt with when the Bill is being considered.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Of course I accept your Ruling, but it makes it harder for us to help the Government, which is what we are trying to do. I hope the Minister will be very explanatory when he comes to answer these questions. If he is it will make much easier the passage of this Financial Resolution. To a certain extent I congratulate the Minister of Agriculture on his courage.
§ Mr. TURTON
I should have thought that the Minister of Agriculture would have drawn the attention of the Com- 1402 mittee to the divergence beween the Financial Resolution on the Paper and the one he foreshadowed in his speech yesterday, when he suggested an alteration in paragraph (c) to insert the words:and for such other purposes as may be provided by the Act.I notice that these words have been inserted in paragraph (a). I am not certain of the financial import of the change. It may be that by inserting these words in paragraph (a) the right hon. Gentleman is curtailing the amount—
§ Dr. ADDISON
It will have exactly the opposite effect. By putting these words in paragraph (a) it makes it as wide as possible.
§ Mr. TURTON
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the explanation and wish that we had had it earlier. The other point is an alteration in line 5, but I am not quite certain whether it is an alteration of the Minister's or a printer's error.
§ Mr. TURTON
In that case I will proceed to the main point which I desire to raise on the Financial Resolution, that is, the expenses that are to be paid to the various committees and boards which the Minister is to set up under this Bill. We are at a great disadvantage here as the right hon. Gentleman all the time has kept us in the dark as to the area over which these committees will operate. Will they be county areas? From what the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has said I gather that they will be neither county areas nor national areas. It is of great importance that we should know how many committees and boards will be set up, how many officials will be attached to these committees and boards, and the cost of each committee.
The Minister made one alarming statement yesterday. He was speaking about the consumers' committees and he said that he hoped they would never have to function. I should have thought that the whole purpose of the consumers' committees was to function. If the right hon. Gentleman is to set up consumers' committees at the public expense without 1403 their having power to function, it will be a waste unparalleled in the history of the country. The Clause under which the committees are set up states that they are to have the duty of considering and reporting to the Minister on the effect of the scheme. That is their function. Does the Minister intend to deprive them of that function or is he thinking of taking unto himself the duty of these committees As far as I can understand, there will be one consumers' committee for each regulated product. If so, there will be 12 consumers' committees in each area. Each committee will have seven members. That will mean 84 members of these committees for each area.
In addition there is the investigation committee. We are told that there will be an investigation committee to look after each consumers' committee. The investigation committee will consist of five members. Therefore there will be 60 members for the investigation committee for each area.
Again, there is a lacuna in our arithmetic, because the Minister will not say how large or how small the areas are to be. But from these two committees alone we have a total of 144 members of committees in each area to look after these marketing schemes. The Minister does not stop there, but creates an agricultural marketing facilities committee and an agricultural marketing organisation commission. In his introduction to the Financial Resolution the right hon. Gentleman says that, notwithstanding the misrepresentation of himself and his frugality, the administrative scheme is extraordinarily economical. I have not had a long experience in this House and I have not had experience of the economy of the Ministry of Agriculture, but when I read of these various committees and commissions, numbering, if they are for counties, thousands of members, I can hardly believe that the Minister intends to he extraordinarily economical, and I still less believe that his administrative expenses under the Bill will be not much more than £40,000. There are these committees and commissions, numbering, it may be, some thousands of members. Is it the intention that the committees shall be formed voluntarily or are the members to be paid 1404 like the traffic commissioners of the Minister of Transport, who are to receive £1,250 a year?
That is not all the administrative expense. There are attached to these committees and commissions under Clause 14 secretaries, officers and servants—any number that the Minister may appoint, and it would be most desirable that we should have some indication to what extent the payments under Clause 14 will be made, what number of officers, servants and secretaries the Minister is intending to approve, and what will be the appropriate payment for these salaried officials. I should like to know whether, under this Financial Resolution, there is included the increase at the Ministry of Agriculture that will undoubtedly take place should this Bill become law. I can see in this Resolution no details of extra expenditure to his own officials at the Ministry entailed by the work that will be occasioned by the Agricultural Marketing Bill. It may be that he intends those officials under Clause 14 to be composed of officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, and if that is so, undoubtedly they will be coming under paragraph (d) of this Resolution, but we have not heard that that is so. I anticipate that besides all the officials attached to the commissions and committees and boards, there will be a large increase at the Ministry of Agriculture in Whitehall, which increase I can hardly believe this country, in its very grave economic condition, can afford. I urge the Minister to take great care to see that we are not spending an undue amount by paying outrageously high salaries to officials at a time when we need to retrench to the greatest extent in our power.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE
It is curious that the Minister of Agriculture always brings forward his Money Resolutions and Bills at a late hour of the night, when most of us wish to be in bed. It is because he knows that they never meet with the approval of anybody concerned with agriculture. The whole agricultural industry is opposed to practically every Measure he brings forward, and that is why he brings them forward in such a way that they cannot properly be discussed. This Resolution is not for the benefit of agriculture, but to relieve unemployment by finding work 1405 for a few extra officials in the Ministry. The right hon. Gentleman says it will cost £40,000 to administer, yet the last speaker pointed out the numbers of officials that will be required. I do not know how many boards and committees will be required, or what the members of those bodies are to be paid, but we may be sure that a glorified Ministry of Agriculture will have hundreds of people working under them, all being paid by the taxpayer. That is the main object of the right hon. Gentleman not to improve marketing—I do not think he cares about that—but to have more officials and to glorify himself and his own Ministry.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said something about the appointment of the members of the boards, which I do not think is quite borne out by the Bill itself, for if he will look at Clause 2 he will see it stated:Provided that, during such period (not being longer than twelve months alter the scheme comes into force) as may be specified in ale scheme, the board shall be composed of persons nominated by the Minister after consultation with the persons who submitted the scheme.Therefore, the members of that board are not appointed by the people concerned, as the Under-Secretary stated, but by the Minister, and the Minister ought to be responsible for any losses that they may make. I especially object to one point in the Bill, and that is to the commission which is to be appointed to go about forming new schemes. These schemes will be forced on unwilling agriculturists and when they find them the producers will have to pay the loss even although they know the schemes to be unworkable and did not wish to join them. In my view the way in which these boards will operate will be very unfair. The whole object of the Bill is not to benefit agriculture, but to provide more officials and more work for the Ministry.
§ Mr. EVERARD
I am surprised that the Minister of Agriculture has not pointed out to us the fact that he is endeavouring to expend in this Resolution exactly twice the amount of money on officials which his original Bill entailed. The original Bill, which did have somewhat scanty support from some parts of the agricultural industry in this country, was endeavouring to spend 1406 £20,000 of the taxpayers' money, but the Minister is not satisfied with that, and he introduces another Bill which exactly doubles the amount placed on the taxpayer. I am extremely surprised at that, when we had the speech which we had last week from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, giving this country and the agricultural industry and everybody else concerned a very grave warning as to our financial position. £20,000 may not be very much money, and I am sure it is not in the view of the Minister of Agriculture, judging from the way in which he has dispensed our money on former occasions, but from the ordinary taxpayers' point of view it is a very considerable amount of money; when we could have had a scheme which would have cost very much less money.
I cannot see what the agricultural industry is to gain for this amount. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last week was endeavouring to preach economy to all Government Departments, and even to members of his own party, even those who are keenest on expending large sums of the nation's money on any scheme, whatever it may be, as long as it is the money taken out of the taxpayers' pockets. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to put before the people that there really was a grave position in the country, and I must say that I was very much struck with what I saw in the paper next day, to the effect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very much like a man who had just taken the pledge and then went and celebrated it by opening a bottle of champagne. This is one of the examples of drinking a glass of champagne after the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken the pledge.
There is no doubt at all that we have got to put a stop to this useless expenditure, which nobody in the country wants, and particularly expenditure upon the marketing of agricultural goods, which is not a system of marketing which is required by agriculturists, because if they are left to themselves they can devise a very much better scheme than any scheme which the present Minister could possibly put forward.
I do not know how much money the Minister is going to lavish upon a scheme of various committees for hops. The last 1407 scheme which was organised in the hop industry did not fail because people stayed outside, but because the people who were the most competent to grow hops were unable to get their money until the less competent got theirs. Money spent on schemes of this kind puts a premium on inefficiency in agriculture.
I was struck with the figures given by the hon. Member for Thirsk (Mr. Turton) with regard to these committees. I am not at all surprised that a lot of committees are being set up by the Minister, for the present Government live on committees. They never want to do anything themselves; they always put it on a committee or a commission. Somebody has to pay for these committees, for they do not go on sitting for nothing. The taxpayers know perfectly well that when the Government do not give a decision, but refer it to some committee or commission, they have to pay in the long run. The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) is always telling us what people have to pay for this and that, and I agree with him that in the long run the general public have to pay for these committees. It is ridiculous that they should be set up under a Bill of this sort.
I should like to know what the expense of these committees will be. Are the members to have their travelling expenses? What are the expenses which come under Clause 14 of this Bill? The Clause, which is very widely drawn, says that:The Minister may pay such remuneration to the chairman and other members and the secretary, officers, agents and servants of any such commission or committee, and such other expenses of any such commission or committee, as the Minister may, with the approval of the Treasury, determine.What does that mean, and how much money will it cost the taxpayer? I know that it is the policy of the Labour party that people who sit on public authorities should get their travelling expenses and allowances. Are they to receive them in this case? I do not like this system of giving power to the Minister to set up all these committees. If they are to be set up, let the House of Commons determine what committees should be set up. I do not believe in handing over great autocratic powers to the Minister to set 1408 up as many committees on any subject up and down the country as he likes. I shall not be satisfied until the Minister tells us exactly what will be the expense of these committees and the number of committees that he intends to set up.
§ Mr. DIXEY
I wish very humbly to submit an important point to the Minister. It is with very great regret indeed, after his preliminary statement and courtesy, that I find that no response has been made to the suggestion regarding the agreement which has been come to between the Minister and hon. Members on the Front Opposition Bench. If I may very respectfully urge it on the Minister, this is a very excellent opportunity for—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is transgressing my previous Ruling that this Financial Resolution is not a matter on which he can discuss the question of any agreement.
§ Mr. DIXEY
I do not propose in any way to transgress the Ruling that you have given. I was merely trying at this juncture to understand the important Financial Resolution which is before the House. I will leave that subject and put to the Minister a very important point that has been raised in the Debate. The hon. Member for Thirsk (Mr. Turton) has put forward very substantial and cogent reasons for a Money Resolution of this sort, where expenses—[Interruption]. Hon. Members on the Liberal benches always laugh at expenses until they have to pay them, and they then generally do so, somehow and somewhere.
§ Mr. DIXEY
It is perfectly true that the Labour party does not care at all how much of other people's money is spent, but this is an important Money Resolution. The Minister is asking for powers to pay expenses of gentlemen in connection with these committees. There is no limit. The Minister might have bad the Attorney-General beside him to advise 1409 him that there is no limit to the expenditure that can be incurred under this Money Resolution. No notice has been taken, or any offer made, from the Government Front Bench in reply to the very cogent point as to whether there is to be a limit of expenditure so far as these committees are concerned. Are these gentlemen—committees, secretaries, agents—to have a limited resource out of the money we are voting to-night? Hon. Members opposite do not seem to realise that at half-past 12 o'clock we are voting a large sum of the ratepayers' money for this purpose. [HON. MEMBERS: "Taxpayers' money!"] If the Minister would give me one moment of his attention, I would ask him whether he does not consider it a proper thing to put some limit to the expenses incurred by his Department in creating further officials to be paid for by the taxpayers' money. I ask that in this Resolution we should have some provision limiting the expenditure so far as the officials are concerned. I hope the Minister will give the House some sort of definite assurance that if we support the Resolution the taxpayer will be protected.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
I would not have risen if it had not been for a suggestion put to me by an hon. Friend on the bench in front of me that under Clause 3 of the Bill, it might be possible for a board to manufacture beer from a cereal product—malt. [Interruption.] I shall be pleased to know from the Minister if that is the case, and, if it be the case, then my criticism will be against the Resolution being limited to a sum of £500,000. I am quite sure that the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) and many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House would not like a limit of that small amount to be placed on a measure that would be of such useful service to the community. I have really to put a serious point to the Minister—that there should be a limit to the State liability. I understood that this new Resolution was put forward in order that the producer's liability in case of one of these boards, as it might possibly do, going into liquidation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Beer!"] I have finished dealing with that very admirable liquid for the moment. I ask in all seriousness whether the liability of the Exchequer is limited to the sum of £500,000, because some of these boards 1410 would have made a much greater loss than that last year on potatoes. The whole of the debt would have been taken over by the board and the board would have held two or three hundred thousand tons of potatoes that were unsaleable. The liability of the producers, or of the Board, would have been in excess of that £500,000. If one of those boards does eventually go into liquidation, is this limit of £500,000 to State liability enough to meet the case?
§ Captain GUNSTON
I want to ask a question to which we should have an answer. May I call the attention of the Minister to paragraph (b) of the Resolution which limits the aggregate amount to £500,000 for England and £120,000 for Scotland. I am not going into the point of why Scotland is getting so much money in comparison with England, although as an Englishman I object. The point is that the Resolution limits the expenditure to £620,000. Are we to understand that if that amount is exhausted the Minister will have to come to Parliament again and ask for a new Act to permit him to get more?
I should like to take advantage of the presence of the Secretary of State for Scotland to ask for information on a subject which was raised yesterday. Why it is that, contrary as far as I know to all precedents, it is proposed that Scotland is to get one-fifth of the total expenditure which is to be authorised? I raised this matter yesterday, but it may be that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland did not think it necessary to deal with it as there was an Amendment on the paper raising the specific point. We have no Amendment on the Paper this evening, and I think it may shorten the proceedings if we deal with this matter now rather than as a separate issue. It has been recognised since the days of Mr. Goschen that in all cases of expenditure for a separate Scottish service Scotland should receive eleven-ninetyoneths of the total amount voted. I understand that that system was instituted when Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom. Then it was not a matter of eleven eightieths but 80 for England, 11 for Scotland, and nine for Ireland. Why then is Scotland now to get one-fifth? Is it alleged that Scotland is more important agriculturally than 1411 England, or is it that the Scottish agricultural industry is less efficient than the English industry and, therefore, wants more of the British taxpayers' money to bolster it up? The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland did not attempt to explain what appears to be a ramp in favour of that part of the country which sends such a very strong contingent to support the present Government. I hope that we shall get some reasoned explanation from the Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)
I rise to give a reply which I hope will be satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman who has raised the matter that Scotland is getting some advantage under this Bill. He is evidently under the impression that Scotland is entitled only to eleven-eightieths of the total sum allocated. That allocation has only been applied in certain Acts of Parliament. In others the allocation has been on a much higher basis. In the case of agricultural legislation in recent years we have never got less than one-fifth for Scotland. [Interruption.] I think I hear someone say "too much." I shall give reasons why I think we are entitled to this sum which has been set aside for us in this Bill. We find that one-fifth of the crops and grass of Great Britain are in Scotland. We find also that one-fifth of the cattle are in Scotland. I find also that when the quota was settled during the War for the agriculturists of this country, Scotland had to provide a quota of one-fifth so that when you wanted fighting men you did not limit Scotland's proportion to eleven-eightieths; you demanded one-fifth of the agricultural quota from Scotland. I find further that on the repeal of the Corn Production Act one-fifth of the money was allocated to Scotland. I find also that under the Land Settlement Act, 1919, we got one-fifth of the money that was allocated, so that within the limits of the last quarter of a century at least we have never had less than one-fifth of what was voted for agricultural purposes.
But I want to go further than that. I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman that in getting one-fifth for agricultural purposes I do not think we are getting as much as we are entitled to, and for this reason. I find that one- 1412 third of the arable land in Great Britain is in Scotland, so that if we got an allocation on that basis we would get one-third instead of one-fifth. I find also that half the sheep in Great Britain are to be found in Scotland. We have a very good ease for getting more than has been allocated to Scotland for agricultural purposes up to the present time. In equity and justice we are entitled to get the sum provided for us by the Treasury in this Bill. I hope the explanation will be quite satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues and that we shall hear no more about Scotland getting more than her fair share.
Could the right hon. Gentleman say what is the ratio of the Scottish contribution. Is she not getting back very much more?
§ Mr. ADAMSON
If we take it on a wider issue than we have discussed—and which, I think, I have answered very satisfactorily—[Interruption.]—I am sure the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) will agree that Scotland pays her share in proportion to her population, and when the country spends money we get a much smaller share.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in line 12, to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "two."
The Amendment is to reduce this sum. I apologise for not putting it down earlier on the Paper. I will not take any length of time in moving it. It was not conceivable to my mind that any Minister should bring forward a Resolution of this kind at this time. I gave notice that I would hold myself free on the Report stage to discuss any matter in relation to the Resolution, and this is the first of the Amendments that I intend to propose. With my Amendment the line would read: "in the aggregate two hundred thousand," instead of "five hundred thousand." It is obvious after the appeal made to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, if he had known the position when this Resolution was first thought of, it would never have got through the Treasury. For that reason alone—the absolute direct wish of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to cut down on every conceivable occasion, and for no other reason—I move 1413 the Amendment. It is essential in the interests of the nation that we should not offer so much money to any Ministry particularly the most extravagant of Ministries—upon the case which has been made out. It is only folly for the Minister to put such a Resolution forward.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I do not think the Amendment requires much reply. It is clear this is an economical proposal, seeing the magnitude of what the Bill proposes to deal with—£250,000,000 of produce every year, and I hope it will be more. I do not think this is extravagance. I hope it will be recoverable. I can assure the hon. Member that he is
§ not representing the opinions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at all. My right hon. Friend is quite able to speak for himself, and he is entirely in accord with this proposal. He gives hearty support to it. I can assure the hon. Member that he need have no misgivings in regard to that matter.
§ Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the Question."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 160; Noes, 62.1415
|Division No. 155.]||AYES.||[12.56 a.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Haycock, A. W.||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayes, John Henry||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillisbro')||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Palin, John Henry|
|Alpass, J. H.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Arnott, John||Herriotts, J.||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Potts, John S.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hoffman, P. C.||Price, M. P.|
|Barr, James||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Jenkins, Sir William||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Benson, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Richardson, R. (Hougbton-le-Spring)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Johnston, Thomas||Ritson, J,|
|Bowen, J. W.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Bromfield, William||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Brooke, W.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Rowson, Guy|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Kelly, W. T.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, Watt)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sanders, W. S.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Kinley, J.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lathan, G.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Shield, George William|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lawson, John James||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Chanleton, H. C.||Leach, W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Chater, Daniel||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lees, J.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Clarke, J. S.||Logan, David Gilbert||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Longbottom, A. W.||Smith, Ton (Pontefract)|
|Compton, Joseph||Longden, F.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lunn, William||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Daggar, George||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Dallas, George||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Dalton, Hugh||McElwee, A.||Sullivan, J.|
|Dukes, C.||McEntee, V. L.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Ede, James Chuter||McKinlay, A.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Edge, Sir William||McShane, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Toole, Joseph|
|Egan, W. H.||Mansfield, W.||Tout, W. J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Marous, M.||Townend, A. E.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Marley, J.||Vaughan, David|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Marshall, Fred||Wallace, H. W.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Mathers, George||Watson, W. M. (Duntermline)|
|Gill, T. H.||Matters, L. W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Glassey, A E.||Melville, Sir James||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gossling, A. G.||Messer, Fred||Westwood, Joseph|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mills, J. E.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Gray, Milner||Milner, Major J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenwood. Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Montague, Frederick||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Morley, Ralph||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loueghb'gh)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mort, D. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Murnin, Hugh||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Wilfred Paling.|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Newman Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Ferguson, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Penny, Sir George|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Remer, John R.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Smithers, Waldron|
|Christie, J. A.||Hartington, Marquess of||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Haslam, Henry C.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Dixey, A. C.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Lymington, Viscount||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Marjorlbanks, Edward|
|Elliot, Major Walter E||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Morrsion, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sir Victor Warrender.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow (Thursday).